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Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Newsmax's Kerik Defends Saudi Arabia in Bezos Controversy
Topic: Newsmax

Bernard Kerik has become a reliable right-wing ranter for Newsmax, while hoping that people forget he's a convicted felon (whom Newsmax spent some time doing a little image rehab). Now he's rushing to defend Saudi Arabia regarding its alleged role in a scandal involving Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos.

Kerik began his April 18 column by declaring, "I’m normally not interested in tabloid gossip, or someone’s personal affairs, but the recent scandal involving Jeff Bezos, the Amazon chief executive and the National Enquirer, reeks of another political attack on President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia by the establishment media." He then declared that "Having lived and worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and as someone that was critical of the Kingdom after the killing of [Jamal] Khashoggi, I feel I’m fairly insightful and objective on the Bezos matter." Kerik then claimed:

This is why I find the mind-blowing international espionage conspiracy involving the Trump administration, Saudi Arabia, and the National Enquirer, laid out by Bezos’ long-time private investigator, Gavin de Becker, preposterous and a bit comical.

According to de Becker, the “Saudi government has been intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of (Jamal) Khashoggi’s murder.”

He said, “Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information.”

Who exactly are these experts?

Consider that numerous reports indicate that digital forensic analysis turned up “no evidence of a hack” and that theory was quickly discounted.

Meanwhile, the Trump-Saudi-Enquirer narrative set off a media firestorm making Bezos the victim of an international conspiracy.

Kerik is apparently referring to a Daily Beast article from January that quoted "three people familiar with the probe" in which the "no evidence of a hack" claim was made (not by "numerous reports," as Kerik claims). Since then, de Becker wrote in a March Daily Beast column that "the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone" -- which does not necessarily involve hacking.

De Becker also pointed out, where Kerik did not, that the National Enqurier's proposed blackmail contract with Bezos demanded that de Becker agree with the statement that the Enquirer had not relied on "any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process," even though the possibility of hacking had never been discussed publicly. De Becker also found it curious that the Enquirer -- which normally protects the sources of its salacious information -- quickly made public its claim that Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, with whom Bezos was having an affair, was the source of the compromising photos and texts it was trying to blackmail Bezos over. Further, de Becker noted, the Saudi surveillance effort that led to the death of Khashoggi included hacking.

Kerik then complained: 

Why, then, is Bezos pushing this baseless Saudi theory?

One reason is he may want to turn the public focus away from embarrassing marital issues and put the spotlight on the Saudis, who The Washington Post has sought to paint as the ultimate bad guy. (No matter that the Saudis have been America’s longtime allies since World War II.)

Given that Bezos himself wrote an article revealing those "embarrassing marital issues" and the blackmail attempt involving them, it seems clear that Bezos is beyond embarrassment on the issue.

Kerik then tried to frame the Bezos controversy as a possible "hoax":

So herein lies the problem for de Becker and Bezos, and what makes this case so complex for prosecutors reviewing the matter in the Southern District of New York.

If it is established that Bezos’s people conspired to create a Trump-Saudi-Enquirer hoax, it could be quite problematic if the prosecutors believe they were misled and provided a false narrative.

For their part, The Enquirer and its top brass have been raked over the coals for what Bezos characterized as blackmail and extortion. The SDNY will have plenty of questions about that too.

But before the public or the Southern District buys into claims of a Saudi connection, Bezos team must “put up or shut up” — provide hard evidence that proves their allegations and justifies a federal inquiry.

Kerik offered no evidence that a "hoax" is in play, and surely he knows that no detailed evidence will be made public until the SDNY makes a decision on prosecuting the case.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:38 PM EDT
Farah's Wife Picks Up The WND Fundraising Baton
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We haven't heard much from WorldNetDaily on the existential-issues front -- and almost nothing beyond rote pleas for money since editor Joseph Farah became incapacitated by a stroke. But on April 24, Farah's wife, Elizabeth -- who is also the WND's chief operating officer -- sent out an email that added a few details about Farah's stroke on top of the usual fundraising plea:

This is Elizabeth Farah, Joseph's wife.

You don't hear from me much as Joseph traditionally speaks for the two of us . . . but today he cannot.

Several weeks ago, Joseph suffered a serious stroke. He was out for his morning walk with our dog, Cooper, and it struck.

Joseph being the strong man that he is, didn't want to tell me at first. I know he was scared, but he didn't want to see that fear in the eyes of his wife.

Once I realized that something was wrong, I rushed him to the hospital and doctors confirmed that Joseph had been hit by a significant stroke that impairs his thoughts.

I thank God that it is treatable and we're in the process of learning and deciding at this point.

But along with my duties as Joseph's wife, I have a duty to our combined passion, and that's WorldNetDaily.

Elizabeth Farah then attached an email message she said her husband had been working on. It's a variation on his usual themes about the "cartel" of Facebook and Google purportedly running WND out of business (and not, you know, WND's long history of fake news and conspiracy theories). At one point he writes that Generation Z readers "could scroll all day and NEVER come across a single article that notes the accomplishments of the Trump Administration and they certainly would not see this string of letters . . . J E S U S," adding that "Facebook and Twitter users are shielded from anything that doesn't fit a liberal narrative, while honest publications that serve truly independent news, are elbowed out of the room."

Perhaps those Generation Z readers should ask Clark Jones or Seth Rich's parents about how "honest" WND is.

Farah then touted the newly created WND News Center, which is "now responsible for the fiercely independent articles that we publish each day." As we've previously noted, WND is following the Daily Caller model of outsourcing labor-intensive reporting to a nonprofit organization that would then give the work to WND for free (which technically offering it to others on the same terms). However, we've seen no evidence that the WND News Center is up and running; as has been the case since jettisoning its reporting staff, most original articles are still unbylined rewrites of news that originally appeared elsewhere.

Elizabeth Farah signed off by begging for money and writing that "I'll do my best to keep you up to date on the operations of the WND News Center" -- never mind that transparency about its operations has never been anything WND has cared about in the past. There still hasn't been a public accounting of the money Joseph Farah raised over the past year or so from readers or where it all went. (The WND News Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, so it has to make its donors public.)

She added, sounding a lot like her husband:

Now that you've read Joseph's email, you can only imagine the stress this had placed on him.

But to make matters worse, following his stroke, one of the members of what Joseph refers to as the "Tower of Babel" (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter), went on the attack and, through the Washington Post, published a hit piece on WND that they thought would put us down for the count.

With your help, it won't.

In fact, WND has not refuted any claim in the devastating Post piece, which made it clear that years of financial mismanagement that -- along with all the fake news and conspiracy theories -- are a lot more responsible for WND's current state of affairs than anything Google and Facebook may have done (and that Farah's stroke wasn't publicly disclosed until after the Post contacted WND for comment on the article's allegations).

In other words, things are still pretty shaky on the WND front.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 AM EDT
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
MRC Helped With The Grievance Marketing of 'Unplanned' -- Then Complains When Strategy Is Exposed
Topic: Media Research Center

The Washington Post has detailed the grievance-based marketing that has been key to promoting the anti-abortion film "Unplanned" to a right-wing audience -- leveraging things like not getting advance reviews of the film by mainstream outlets (despite not offering the film to mainstream reviewers through the usual channels) and a brief suspension of the film's Twitter account (which even the filmmakers agree was not deliberate) for maximum publicity potential.

The Media Research Center has been a willing parter with the film's makers in exploiting such incidents to claim victimization and promote the film. Here's a few headlines that also tout the film's performance against such alleged discrimination:

The MRC's Tim Graham and Brent Bozell helped push the victimization narrative as well, whining about the lack of mainstream reviews (and repeating the Abby Johnson narrative myth without mentioning the fact that its truth is in dispute) and ranting about "cultural elites" dissing the film.

So when the Post pointed out this victimization narrative, Graham couldn't help himself and devoted an April 19 post to complaining that it was pointed out. Graham asserted that the Post could have simply bought a ticket to the film to review it, then huffed: "One could argue that a pro-life movie can claim 'victimhood' whether it's ignored or savaged by reviewers. But it remains obvious that a movie in over 1,500 theaters nationwide went unreviewed while smaller art-house films were evaluated."

Of course, no review of the film would have satisfied Graham -- if the Post had reviewed it and given it a negative review, Graham would simply rant that it was a biased review. It's a propaganda film, after all, and the propaganda is more important to Graham than the art that is important to movie reviewers.

Graham also failed to mention that his employer played a key role in amplifying "Unplanned's" grievance-marketing strategy.

Because Graham also can't help himself by beating an idea into the ground, he followed up with an April 29 post complaining that the Post movie reviewer who pointed out that the "Unplanned" failed to follow standard procedure in making the film available to reviewers "loved" a documentary film about "self-identified Satan worshippers." And he huffed: "This is where you can see that the Posties are not opposed to trolling. You just have to find the right targets. They adore the Satanists as progressive pranksters, because they don't believe in an almighty God in any way. Hornaday can't just admire them."

Graham is rather deliberately missing the point. The film about Satanists appears to tell their story in an intereseting, compelling way that doesn't push a predetermined narrative; "Unplanned" is the opposite of that.

Graham is essentially demanding that the Post give the film more free publicity. But hasn't his employer given them enough?

UPDATE: None of these MRC promotional posts mention the fact that the Twitter account for "Unplanned" included in one tweet the abbreviation "WWG1WGA," shorthand for "Where we go one, we go all" -- code for support for the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory. (The producers claimed this was a mistake by an intern.)


Posted by Terry K. at 8:27 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 10:40 PM EDT
CNS' Obsession With Peter Strzok's Sex Life Continues
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com is so obsessed with former FBI agent Peter Strzok's sex life that it published basically the same story a week apart.

We noted that on April 4, CNS' Susan Jones wrote:

The man once responsible for all FBI counterintelligence investigations, including the Clinton email and Trump-Russia probes, told Congress in a closed-door session last June that the FBI has no policy forbidding agents from having adulterous affairs.

"There is no FBI policy that prohibits somebody from having an affair," FBI Assistant Director E.W. "Bill" Priestap told House Judiciary and Oversight Committee investigators on June 5, 2018. "There's no FBI policy that says you can't have an affair, and if you do, you're going to be punished."

A transcript of Priestap's remarks was published this week.

The subject of extramarital affairs arose several times in Priestap's interview, in connection with Priestap’s deputy, Peter Strzok, who was having an extramarital affair with FBI attorney Lisa Page. Strzok and Page were part of the Clinton email investigation and immediately afterward, the Trump-Russia investigation, both of which Priestap was overseeing.

[...]

Priestap told congressional investigators he heard from others that Strzok and Page might be having an affair, but he never asked them if it was true, nor did he report it to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

“[Y]ou make reports to OPR when you believe somebody has violated FBI policy. There is no FBI policy that prohibits somebody from having an affair,” Priestap said. “So I had no information that Mr. Strzok, if he was engaging in an affair, that that was against FBI policy. So, no, I didn't have any information that I thought was reportable to OPR.”

And here's Jones in an April 11 article:

FBI Assistant Director E.W. "Bill" Priestap, the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, told investigators from the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on June 5, 2018 that the FBI does not prohibit adulterous affairs.

"There's no FBI policy that says you can't have an affair, and if you do, you're going to be punished," Priestap said, according to a transcript of the closed-door hearing. The transcript was released last week.

Priestap told the committees he heard from other people that FBI Counterintelligence Agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page might be having an extramarital affair, but he never asked them if it was true, nor did he report it to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

“[Y]ou make reports to OPR when you believe somebody has violated FBI policy. There is no FBI policy that prohibits somebody from having an affair,” Priestap said. “So I had no information that Mr. Strzok, if he was engaging in an affair, that that was against FBI policy. So, no, I didn't have any information that I thought was reportable to OPR.”

The main difference between the two articles is that in the latter, for some reason, Jones felt the need to waste the FBI's time and seek clarification on policies regarding agents "engaging in adultery":

CNSNews.com asked the FBI two questions:

--Were Bill Priestap's statements to these congressional committees--that the FBI has no policy prohibiting extramarital affairs--correct?
--Does the FBI have a policy that prohibits FBI personnel from engaging in adultery? Yes or no?

Jones then linked back to a June 2018 CNS article recounting how "FBI Director Christopher Wray declined to tell Congress on June 28, 2018 if engaging in adultery was a "significant vulnerability" for an FBI counterintelligence agent," then copied-and-pasted from the FBI's Ethics and Integrity Policy Guide and its Code of Conduct.

The day before this rehashing, Jones published another article referencing the infamous texts between Strzok and Page, making sure to add that "Strzok and Page were having an extramarital affair." Jones later complained that a congressional interview with the FBI's former general counsel "switched to another subject and nothing more was said about the Strzok-Page text messages. The subject of their extramarital affair was not discussed at all."

Now that's obsession. If only anyone at CNS could show a similar interest in, say, the crimes of Paul Manafort.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:04 AM EDT
Monday, April 29, 2019
MRC Echoes WND In Rehashing A Bogus Obama Scandal
Topic: Media Research Center

We've noted the Media Research Center's creeping WorldNetDaily-ization over the past few years. Now it's emulating WND in resurrecting a bogus Obama scandal.

Nicholas Fondacaro huffed in an April 8 MRC post:

It was the height of Russia’s meddling the 2016 election, when news broke that President Barack Obama spent taxpayer money, to the tune of $350,000, on an Israeli organization that was mobilizing against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during the 2015 election. The news was largely ignored by the liberal media and was omitted by the broadcast networks.

Except that's not what happened. As we documented when WND latched onto it, the money was given by the State Department to an Israeli organization called OneVoice for a project that was unrelated to the 2015 elections, and the funding stopped months before the election. OneVoice later used infrastructure paid for by the grant in its anti-Netanyahu campaign. A Republican-led Senate report found that OneVoice fully complied with the terms of the grant, no grant money was used for the anti-Netanyahu caompaign, and the State Department placed no limits on the post-grant use of those resources.

So Fondacaro is lying when he claims Obama gave that money specifically to target Netanyahu. The story was "largely ignored" because it wasn't a story -- unless, like Fondacaro, you're a member of the right-wing media desperate for any bit of Obama dirt, no matter how dubious.

Nevertheless, the very next day, Fondacaro's MRC co-worker Curtis Houck huffed that "the Obama administration’s dislike of Netanyahu and the role an Obama adviser and U.S. tax dollars played in (unsuccessfully) working to defeat him in 2015," adding that "a report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigationsthat a non-governmental organization with ties to Obama used taxpayer funds to oust Netanyahu." Houck vaguely wrote about the situation to make it less false, but the Washington Times article to which he links falsely claims that the grant money was spent directly on the anti-Netanyahu campaign.

Houck then gritted his teeth and invoked a onetime ideological ally turned enemy: "Don’t believe NewsBusters? Well, let’s allow the despicably false and smarmy Jennifer Rubin give you the lowdown here." But even Rubin admitted that OneVoice complied with the grant's provisions and did nothing wrong.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:38 PM EDT
WND's Latest Argument For Conversion Therapy: It's A Free Speech Issue!
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has tried various tactics to downplay anti-gay conversion therapy -- uncritically repeating claims from right-wing anti-gay activist groups -- at one point trying to rebrand it as "gender-confusion counseling."

The latest attempt is an Aptil 14 article that parrots right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel's efforts to overturn a ban on conversion therapy for minors in Boca Raton, Fla., by framing it as "a significant free-speech case in which liberal activists are pressing states to censor viewpoints with which they disagree." How? Liberty Counsel is representing conversion therapists who use talk therapy.

The only note of opposition noted by WND is a distorted claim that "Critics claim it’s injurious to children to hear that they can address same-sex attractions that could be the result of abuse or dysphoria." WND cited no named source making that specific claim. WND also cited another anti-gay group as asserting that a “campaign of outrageous lies sand misinformation” is behind the anti-conversion therapy effort -- and again, no evidence is provided. By contrast, an actual news outlet reporting on the story noted that a study found that "LGBTQ individuals whose parents had sent them for the counseling as teenagers had a high rate of attempting suicide."


Posted by Terry K. at 2:18 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, April 29, 2019 2:26 AM EDT
Sunday, April 28, 2019
MRC Rewrites A Press Release From Its Favorite Anti-Abortion Filmmaker
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center was huge promoter of Phelim McAleer's anti-abortion "Gosnell" film -- and why wouldn't they be, given that it appears that McAleer appears to have paid the MRC to help him raise money to make it. So, it's no surprise that an April 11 MRC post by Gabriel Hays is little more than a rewritten press release from McAleer himself:

In an act of solidarity with the pro-life community, the White House has announced that it will be screening anti-abortion film Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killeron Friday, April 12.

The film’s co-producer Phelim McAleer provided a press release announcing the exciting news and thanking the movie’s supporters for pushing it to such a high-profile premier. He wrote, “We have some wonderful news to share. We have been invited to screen the Gosnell Movie at the White House this Friday.” McAleer added, “It’s sending a very powerful message. We couldn't be more grateful to our nearly 30,000 Indiegogo supporters who made this movie a reality.”

McAleer also noted that this was the “first political movie to be screened in the Trump White House- our supporters have helped make history.” Well that’s pretty powerful stuff and a good reminder, amidst all the constant, negative Trump press, that his administration is still committed to the pro-life cause.

Hays's sycophantic gushing never stopped:

The film committed itself fully to the truth of the Gosnell story. LifeSiteNews reported that it was “based “very heavily on actual court transcripts,” “dozens of hours of interviews” with Gosnell himself, and the case’s grand jury report.

One of the most effective themes in the film, was the fact that the mainstream media wants nothing to do with controversial abortion cases. Here was a doctor that was on trial for the murder of a couple young women via botched abortion procedures and almost no reporter was present at the scene. It was one of the most confounding and powerful shots in the film — that completely empty courthouse on the day of the first hearing.

At least the Trump administration recognizes the importance of such a powerful film. In his press release, McAleer urged pro-life Americans to thank the president for his support. “But what we really want you to do is to go on Twitter and THANK @realdonaldtrump for recognizing the importance of this movie for the country right now.”

Actually, it's questionable how fully committed to the truth McAleer really was. The judge who presided over Gosnell's trial sued McAleer over what he believed was a defamatory portrayal of him in the film and an accompanying book, pointing out that McAleer was "shamelessly exploiting for profit the morally divisive issue of abortion" and operating with a "predetermined agenda." That suit was settled out of court, but McAleer never explained how.

If McAleer really was committed to the truth of this story, he would be more transparent -- and Hays should have demanded that transparency instead of being an emarrassing suck-up.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:04 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, April 28, 2019 12:05 PM EDT
CNS Lets Loopy Rabbi Suck Up To Trump Again
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com knows it can count on loopy rabbi Aryeh Spero to offer a sycophantic pro-Trump take on a given issue. Thus, CNS gave Spero an April 16 column to over-effusively praise Trump for bashing Rep. Ihlan Omar's "some people did something" remark (which was plucked out of context to maliciously portray her as anti-American):

Omar trivialized 9/11, referring to it in a cavalier fashion.  The President correctly demonstrated via his video the enormity and the devastating catastrophe of 9/11.  It has nothing to do with racism, rather the correct response to a disrespectful statement made by Omar against this country, demonstrating her gross indifference to the suffering of Americans.

Those that impute racism to the President’s tweet are living in a make-believe world or, worse, themselves are trying to incite an issue of racism where such is not the case.  People of truth and historical awareness cannot remain silent out of fear that their opposition will fabricate claims of racism.  

[...]

Thankfully we have a man of President Trump’s candor, who is willing to fight against the rewriting of history and who is willing to protect the free speech of Americans defending their country. He has made an Executive Order protecting free speech from the politically correct censorship prevalent on campuses and is, similarly, by example, giving support to all those who wish to exercise their right to tell the truth.

Note that Spero didn't mention the actual content of Trump's anti-Omar tweet -- a video that edited Omar's out-of-context remarks into footage of the 9/11 attacks.

Spero didn't mention that death threats against Omar increased after Trump's tweet. Perhaps Spero is OK with that.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:27 AM EDT
Saturday, April 27, 2019
What LGBT Stuff Is The MRC Freaking Out About Now?
Topic: Media Research Center

Rebecca Downs thought that the TV show "God Friended Me" was "pretty well behaved" until it introduced a lesbian character who was the daughter of a Episcopal pastor, and was upset that the show used "the ever increasing acronym to describe the movement" -- the offending letters being LGBTQIA. Downs then complained that the Christian denomination in question is actually gay-friending, sneering that the show "was so eager to lecture about the issue of homosexuality in the Christian church that they didn't even bother to look into it. Perhaps the show should have accurately addressed that, rather than adding all the extra letters to the LGBT acronym."

Gabriel Hays expressed his freakout by invoking LGBT stereotypes as he got all huffy about the "Queer Eye" stars visiting Capitol Hill and mocking the Democrats who met them as substance-free:

Famous gay DIY style gurus, theQueer Eye for the Straight Guy boys hit the D.C. circuit on Thursday April 4, hoping to meet some of our nation’s great legislative leaders. They settled for Alexandria “Three Chambers” Ocasio-Cortez, and Nancy “Clapback” Pelosi.

Our Republic may be suffering, but at least we know the Instagram photos are sure to be fabulous. (This second version of Queer Eye streams on Netflix.)

Huffpost was all aglow with the knowledge that TV’s greatest queens were getting a tour of the nation’s capital from Democrat queens.

[...]

For her part, Ocasio-Cortez thanked the Queer Eye crew and chirped her agenda: “Thank you for visiting and helping us push for the #EqualityAct, & be there to watch Congress pass the Violence Against Women Act & War Powers Resolution to end U.S. involvement in Yemen.” Like we said, style really beat up on substance that day.

Karen Townsend complained that the new season of "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" invoked "the transgender agenda" by... having a "gender non-conforming" female now identify as a boy.Townsend didn't explain howmerely having a transgender character equates to pushing an "agenda" (does a TV show that has a Christian character mean it's pushing a "Christian agenda"?), but she went on to whining that "Normalizing transgender teens... should not be seen as normal for impressionable teens. High school is hard enough as it is."

Speaking of whining, Tim Graham was mad that a Catholic priest refused to hate Pete Buttigieg for being gay and, thus, "heretical" to conservative Christianity:

CNN loves "progressive" Christians like openly gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his insistence that he's a "devout Christian," while Vice President Mike Pence is all wrong. On CNN Friday, Brooke Baldwin brought on two guests to repeat all the "progressive" talking points. Sadly, one of them was a Catholic priest, CNN commentator Fr. Edward Beck. 

Wouldn't viewers expect a Catholic priest to explain why traditional Christians who follow the Scriptures believe that homosexual behavior is sinful? Instead, Father Beck, fresh from a Buttigieg interview, just repeated all of Mayor Pete's talking points like a press secretary.

Hays returned to spew more mocking anti-gay stereotypes as he melted down over the thought that Marvel is creating superheroes that aren't heteronormative:

Phase II of the Marvel comic book cinematic universe is going to involve a few less of our classic superheros in favor of a bold new array of diverse and inclusive characters. Yes, Marvel’s going a lot more ethnic, and a lot more gay because what’s cooler than finding out that your new favorite Avenger enjoys his skintight latex suit for far more than just crime-fighting purposes?

[...]

Marvel is already in pre-production on another film, The Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie, and super lefty Kumail Nanjiani. Feige’s ideas for finding something “really different and special” involve wrangling up “a gay Asian male lead in what will be their first openly gay character.” 

Where is "super lefty" on the MRC's spectrum? Is it farther to the left of "left wing" and "far left"?


Posted by Terry K. at 10:43 AM EDT
Gays Are 'Morally Compromised,' WND's Erik Rush Rants
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Last November, WorldNetDaily columnist Erik Rush peddled right-wing conspiracy theories against newly elected Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, smearing him as an "ugly gay guy with highly questionable politics and a dark back story."

Rush tried to smear Polis again in his April 10 column, mixed in with his trademark Obama derangement:

I am convinced that millions of Americans voted for Barack Obama in 2008 for no other reason than in so doing, they were able to count it as definitive proof that they were not bigoted. Forever after, such people will be able to counter any accusation of racism with the fact that they voted for a black man as president.

Similarly, I am convinced that hundreds of thousands of voters in the state of Colorado voted for former Rep. Jared Polis as their governor in 2018 for no other reason than in so doing, they were able to count it as definitive proof that they were not homophobic.

Between the marketing that goes on during political campaigns and the ideological bent of the establishment press, in both cases, voters remained blissfully unaware that these men were two of the most subversive ever to seek office in America.

In the case of Polis, there is an even more insidious and dangerous dynamic at work here: Countless Americans have accepted the notion that homosexuality does not represent one being morally compromised because they’ve been told that harboring such a belief would make them bigots (as well as hurting homosexuals’ feelings). Coloradoans’ summary denial that homosexuals are a morally compromised lot has effectively allowed a morally compromised individual to run their state.

We don't recall Rush ever describing the current president, a thrice-married adulterer who has paid hush money to porn stars, as "morally compromised."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:19 AM EDT
Friday, April 26, 2019
MRC's Double Standard on Awards Being Taken Away, Tim Graham Division
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Tim Graham complained in a April 3 post:

From the "Brian Stelter Won't Report This" file, Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner reports that "complaints from media critics of the Trump administration" prompted a leading hostage-rights group to withdraw its “Freedom Award” to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his (and the president's) efforts to free political prisoners around the world.

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, named for an American journalist and political prisoner beheaded by ISIS in 2014, announced its intention to give Pompeo the award. Not only did they withdraw the award, they also disinvited Pompeo from the event "due to protests from angered media members who threatened to disrupt the event."

Instead, the foundation gave Pompeo’s award to Brett McGurk, the diplomat who recently resigned from the government over Trump's announcement of withdrawal from Syria. McGurk helped win the release of Americans from Iran, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

Interestingly, Graham failed to emphasize that Bedard's sources are anonymous -- indeed, Bedard cites only "knowledgable sources" and offers no on-the-record confirmation of his claims.This is important because Graham regularly rails against the "liberal media" for using anonymous sources; in a 2017 Fox News appearance, for instance, Graham huffed that "the news media today gets to use these anonymous sources, and the anonymous sources can say all sorts of terrible things about Trump," insising that the use of anonymous sources allow "Trump's powerful enemies to be presumed as all-wise and nonpartisan, even patriotic, when no one knows their identities or motives."

In other words, Graham has contridicted himself because Bedard's anonymous sources are tellilng a story that fits neatly in the conservative victimization narrative. (Graham also failed to disclose the conflict of interest that the MRC has had a promotion deal with Bedard since 2012.)

(UPDATE: Graham's boss, Brent Bozell, also weighed in, calling the claim of the award withdrawal "cowardice." And like Graham, he was silent on his apparent reversal on being critical of claims made by anonymous sources.)

But that's not the only double standard happening here. Just six days later, Graham was cheering the withdrawal of another award for political reasons -- from a journalist, by the Trump administration's State Department, led by, yes, Mike Pompeo:

Washington Post "fact checker" (and former State Department reporter) Glenn Kessler tweeted it was "an embarrassment and an outrage." The Trump administration rescinded a "Women of Courage" award at the State Department for Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro, and two reporters at Foreign Policy magazine found the usual Anonymous Source claiming it was because someone on Team Trump read her Twitter feed and had second thoughts.

[...]

Unaddressed in this liberals-upset-for-other-liberals story: Why would you want an award from the Trump administration if you hate them so much? If you #Resist them in your Twitter feed, why not take this denial as proof of your successful #Resistance? It doesn't really take courage in today's media to oppose Trump. It seems like a pre-requisite.

[...]

This could be another motto for The Washington Post: "Vocal Critics of a Notoriously Thin-Skinned President." It's less obnoxious than that Democracy Dies drama-queen routine. 

Of course, Graham was much more thin-skinned (and much more of a drama queen) six days earlier, something he doesn't reference in this post.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:58 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, April 29, 2019 10:46 PM EDT
CNS Spins the Mueller Report
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com is a highly biased pro-Trump spin factory, and the spin got taken up to 11 over the release of the Mueller report.

The day before the release, CNS was in pre-spin mode, dedicating four articles to Republican members or ex-members of Congress downplaying the presumed contents:

There was also an article on CNS right-wing fave Mark Levin dismissing a report that nobody (including him) had read as "bogus" and "outrageous."

The day of the report's release,
Aril 18, started with Attorney General William Barr pre-spinning the findings to make Trump look good. CNS flooded the zone on Barr's pre-release presser:

That's five articles on Barr's pre-release presser. By contrast, CNS published only one article taken from the actual contents of the Mueller report on the day of release, a piece by Susan Jones narrowly focusing on a finding that "Russian officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, weren't sure how to get in touch with Trump to congratulate him on election night." That was joined by a blog post featuring one of the Republican members of Congress CNS called upon to pre-spin the report justifying Trump's anger over the Mueller investigation.

The next day brought more articles on the report's contents -- apparently needing the extra time to figure out how to best spin things for Trump. Jones spun the hardest, insisting that Trump's reported statement on learning Mueller's investigation had started -- "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm fucked." -- was really about how "he feared he wouldn't be able to get anything done as president with the cloud of investigation hanging over him.," lecturing: "Various liberal media outlets have seized on the President's "I'm f****d" remark to make it appear that he knew he had something to hide. A full reading of the paragraph suggests otherwise."

Jones also framed the no-obstruction narrative by highlighting how the president largely failed to obstruct the investigation because "Trump was unsuccessful in getting his subordinates to carry out his will."

Patrick Goodenough seized on a claim that "Weeks before President Trump took office, he and his transition team tried energetically to thwart a major U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel," thus demonstrating "a foreshadowing of what would became a signature policy of the Trump administration’s dealings with the U.N., where strong defense of Israel has been a high priority."

Jones did an article on one negative claim from the report -- that Trump ordered then-White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, then asked him to create a false record that he never asked such a thing -- but spun it her president's way, leading not with the claim but, rather, with Trump alluding to the note-taking McGahn by calling his claims "fabricated" and "bullshit."

The coverage concluded with another rant from Levin denouncing the report post-release (though it's unclear how much he actually read before launching said rant).


Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 AM EDT
Thursday, April 25, 2019
MRC's Bozell & Graham Are Triggered By The Dictionary
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Tim Graham and Brent Bozell spend an entire April 12 column raging at ... the dictionary because it added the term "white fragility." No, really:

One of strangest developments in today's Internet culture is how website dictionaries, which one might presume to be objective, have dabbled in "woke" leftist politics as a way of drawing clicks.

USA Today reporter Jessica Guynn, who explains that her job is to explore how the digital world can "amplify bias and widen disparities," delighted in reporting how the term "white fragility" has been added to dictionaries as a result of racial discussions on social media.

Sociologist Robin Di Angelo, one in the endless line of perpetually bored, arrogant and/or ignorant "experts" on race, coined the term "white fragility" in 2011. It was overlooked initially (and for good reason: It's stupid). But naturally, it has picked up steam along with the political career of Donald Trump. After Trump won the presidency in 2016, the Oxford Dictionaries put the term on its short list for word of the year. Last week, it was added to Dictionary.com, defined as "the tendency among members of the dominant white cultural group to have a defensive, wounded, angry, or dismissive response to evidence of racism."

For the love of God. Really?

The two then act out some of that white fragility:

White men can never challenge "academic data" about racism in diversity training sessions, or anywhere else. "Oppressed groups" are always presumed to have the upper hand with evidence ... because they're "oppressed." The left is always trying to stack the deck and smother debate, and crying racism is a huge favorite.

The time has come, another expert told USA Today, where people are "interrogating the concept of whiteness." Somehow these people have no idea that they are driving voters right into Donald Trump's camp with their constant accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and the whole dictionary of bigotries.

The only way out is to renounce your whiteness. We officially declare ourselves to be American Indians (like Sen. Elizabeth Warren) and identify as oppressed.

Thus proving that the concept is real and deserves to have a dictionary term to describe it.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:03 PM EDT
WND Advances Conspiracy Theory That Notre Dame Fire Was Terrorist Act
Topic: WorldNetDaily

After the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, WorldNetDaily was happy to mock YouTube for an "algorithm designed to combat fake news and conspiracy theories [that] equated the Paris catastrophe with the 9/11 New York City terror attacks," adding that "there is no indication that the devastating fire at the iconic Notre Dame is related to terrorism."

But even though there remains no indication of a terrorism link to the Notre Dame fire, WND has embraced the idea that there might be, likely committed by Muslims.

An April 15 article regurgitated a right-wing blogger who counted "the names of Facebook users who responded to a video of the fire with a laughing emoji. The names included Yusuf Mohammedzai, Mohamed Hiadi, Mohamed Bensalem and Abdelhakim Noui Oua."

An anonymously written April 16 WND article stepped in that direction by highlighting "the surge of attacks on Christian symbols in Europe." While it did concede that "French authorities believe the blaze that destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral was accidental," it also highlighted that "ISIS followers online called the Notre Dame fire “retribution and punishment” from Allah.

Another April 16 article complained, as the Media Research Center did, that Fox News anchor Shepard Smith shut down a guest who tried to link the Notre Dame fire to other attacks on European churches, then rehashed Rush L:imbaugh's conspiracy theory that it was "head-in-the-sand denial" not to raise the specter of a link.

WND columnist Barbara Simpson went fully into conspiracy territory in her April 21 column:

The big question then, is the same big question now: How did the fire start? While there has been a wild attempt by worldwide media to show the pictures of the inferno and the damage caused, there is a concerted effort to avoid making any conclusions as to HOW the fire started – or, perhaps, WHO started it.

It’s not too far-fetched to say that media and authorities are in the midst of a total avoidance of possibly accusing any person(s) or groups as being responsible for the conflagration.

The truth is, a building the size and age and cared-for as Notre Dame does not “just” burn down – not especially with the heat, speed and totality of the flames.

The allegation is the wood roof was just so flammable that even a simple spark would set it all off. Nonsense. The 850-year-old roof was built with whole trees, many more than a 100 years old when they were cut. It would take more than a spark to set them ablaze with the speed and destructiveness of that fire.

What is left of the structure is so fragile at this point, that NO authorities have been allowed inside for inspections … yet there are media reports that a “short circuit” set off the blaze. The contractors who were doing the remodeling say that is not possible, yet the media persist and officials support them even though NO investigators have done any inspections.

Speaking of the media persisting, they’re also avoiding – with every bit of their ability – to even consider that perhaps anti-Catholic feeling was responsible for the fire.

[...]

The big “no-no” is to even suggest there might be Muslim involvement in the Notre Dame fire. This, despite reports in Islamic media, that Muslims are cheering the destruction.

She was followed by Oliver Melnick, who basically argued that it would be irresponsible not to speculate:

We might never really know the source of the Notre Dame fire, but the situation is such in France and much of Western Europe that at least it makes it possible for one to speculate and leave the door open for a terrorist attack. The soil is fertile to allow more hatred to grow and choke Christianity and Western civilization. As a matter of fact, ISIS, which didn’t claim responsibility for the fire, threatened to start another one to finish the job. They were not involved, but they were quick to rejoice and post photos of the burning structure on social media, with the caption: “It’s time to say goodbye to your oratory polytheism.”

Notre Dame’s fire didn’t have to be a terrorist attack to draw the attention of those who promote Christianity and Western values. There is a track record of the destruction of Christianity in Europe that has existed for a while now. Lovers of freedom and democracy ought to be really concerned.

And that's how WND keeps its reputation of being conspiracy-mongers.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:49 PM EDT
CNS Editor Still Has Trouble Blaming Trump for Rising Federal Deficits
Topic: CNSNews.com

We've documented how CNSNews.com editor in chief Terry Jeffrey loves to fret about rising deficits and national debt, but is much more reluctant to pin the current situation on President Trump Republicans than he was about blaming Democrats when the president was named Obama. That reluctance hasn't really stopped, despite the occasional dose of reality.

A March 26 article by Jeffrey fretted: "The federal government spent $1,822,712,000,000 in the first five months of fiscal 2019, the most it has spent in the first five months of any fiscal year since 2009, which was the fiscal year that outgoing President George W. Bush signed a $700-billion law to bailout the banking industry and incoming President Barack Obama signed a $787-billion law to stimulate an economy then in recession." Even though that spending occurred under Trump, Jeffrey never blames him or his fellow Republicans -- indeed, rather than a picture of Trump, his article is illustrated with a shot of Obama and Bush.

And Trump is mentioned only in passing, in the second-to-last paragraph of the 25-paragraph article, when Jeffrey paraphrases a government official who justified lower corporate tax revenue -- one key reason why deficit spending is up -- by stating that "the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Trump in December 2017 was understood to be frontloaded in that corporations early on would take advantage of the new expensing rules to build their businesses."

Jeffrey similarly stated in an April 10 article that "The federal government spent $2,198,468,000,000 in the first six months of fiscal 2019 (October through March), which is the most it has spent in the first six months of any fiscal year in the last decade, according to the Monthly Treasury Statements." This time, however, Jeffrey doesn't mention Trump at all, despite this massive deficit spending happening under his watch. The accompanying picture, meanwhile, is not of Trump but a stock photo of Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and two other unidentified politicians. Jeffrey did not explain why the photo includes people who weren't directly responsible for the situation he's complaining about.

The tagline at the end of both of Jeffrey's articles reads: "The business and economic reporting of CNSNews.com is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold." If Jeffrey is making dishonest points with his funded reporting, it would seem that that gift money is being wasted.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EDT

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