ConWebBlog: The Weblog of ConWebWatch

your New Media watchdog

ConWebWatch: home | archive/search | about | primer | shop

Friday, December 6, 2019
CNS Follows MRC's Narrative By Calling Impeachment Hearings Boring
Topic: CNSNews.com

The Media Research Center has tried to delegitimize the impeachment hearings by portraying them as boring and poorly rated (as if excitement and good ratings was a measure of justice), so it was inevitable that the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, would push that same narrative. And that's exactly what Susan Jones does in a Nov. 19 CNS article:

Four witnesses will testify in the House intelligence committee's impeachment inquiry today, beginning with Alexander Vindman (member of the National Security Council since 2018) and Jennifer Williams (Vice President Pence's advisor) at 9 a.m.; and Kurt Volker (special envoy to Ukraine) and Tim Morrison (National Security Council official) at 2:30 p.m.

But who will be watching?

It's "boring television," Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham Monday night.

Jones did not allow anyone to rebut Biggs' claims or to point out the obvious fact that TV ratings are not a measure of justice. Instead she repeats an attack on impeachment inquiry witness Alex Vindman by claiming that his former supervisor at the National Security Council "had raised concerns about Alex's judgment." That attack, of course, comes directly from the Trump White House.

But Jones never told her readers that Vindman rebutted this claim by reading from a performance evaluation of him by Hill that called him "a top 1% military officer and the best Army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service." Or that Hill herself later testified that she never had any issues with Vindman's judgment but, rather, was concerned about how a military man like him would handle the increasingly political direction the Ukraine issue was turning.

Remember: At CNS, reporting the facts doesn't matter -- adhering to the narrative does.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:49 AM EST
Updated: Friday, December 6, 2019 12:51 AM EST
Thursday, December 5, 2019
MRC Censors Full Story On ABC's Spiked Jeffrey Epstein Probe
Topic: Media Research Center

For the past month or so, the Media Research Center has been obsessing over a bit of media-related news: the "bombshell scoop," as Scott Whitlock termed it, from "investigative journalist" James O'Keefe of a leaked video of an ABC host lamenting that the network killed a story about "convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his network of connections to powerful men, including Bill Clinton," featuring alleged Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre. (The host and ABC itself later issued statements that the reporting at the time didn't meet the network's standards.) So huge was this story at the MRC that it translated Whitlock's post into Spanish.

Over the following weeks, the MRC has repeatedly taken potshots at ABC, especially after the person who allegedly leaked the video to O'Keefe was apparently subsequently fired from a job at CBS and right-wingers like Megyn Kelly tried to advance the story.

Because this story conveniently fits into the MRC's media-hating narrative, it has censored the fact that there's another side to this story. If you'll recall, Alan Dershowitz, -- who was Epstein's lawyer when he got a sweetheart deal for a short prison sentence -- has vehemently denied allegations by Robert Giuffre that Dershowitz had sex with her while she was underage and doesn't believe that the woman is credible. He served up his encounter with ABC in a Nov. 20 Newsmax column:

In mid-2015, I was sent an email that one of Giuffre’s lawyers had circulated, announcing that an interview with Giuffre would be run on "Good Morning America," the ABC evening news, and "Nightline." I immediately called ABC to inquire whether my name was being mentioned, since she had falsely accused me of having sex with her, even though there was incontrovertible proof that I had never even met her. They said it was not. (To this day, she has not publicly and directly accused me out of court, in order to avoid being held accountable for her defamation.) I asked about Leslie Wexner — who she had also privately accused — and was told that his name was also not mentioned. (Perhaps because her silence about him was being negotiated.) I told the producer that Giuffre had a long history of lying about prominent individuals, including Tipper and Al Gore and Bill Clinton, as well as about other matters, including her age at the time she met Epstein. I also told them about my conversation with Giuffre’s friend Rebecca Boylan, in which she told me about the plan to obtain a billion dollars from Wexner. I told them that these interviews with Giuffre were part of the shakedown plan — that Boylan had told me that Giuffre went on TV in order to send Wexner the following message: See, I have access to the media; this time I didn’t mention you; but next time . . .

The people at ABC said they would look into the matter and I sent them the evidence. I made it clear that I was calling onlyon my own behalf and not on behalf of Epstein. I told the same thing to the NPR reporter when he interviewed me about this episode. But he had an agenda and a story line, and reporting accurately what I told him would undercut his pre-determined narrative. So this is what he falsely reported in a piece entitled “How media fell short on Epstein.”

The NPR reporter described me as Epstein’s lawyer, without disclosing that I explicitly told him that I had called ABC only on my own behalf as someone who had been falsely accused by Giuffre.

Notwithstanding his expressed interest in how I “convinced” ABC not to run the interview, he never mentioned the evidence I provided to ABC and to him proving that Giuffre had a long record of lying. Instead he quoted Julie Brown, a reporter for the Miami Herald, recently telling him, “I [Brown] found [Giuffre] to be very truthful and credible.” But Brown had never told that to ABC, back when they were making their decision. She only told it to the NPR reporter when he was doing his report years later. So her after-the-fact assessment of Giuffre’s alleged credibility was completely irrelevant to ABC’s decision, while my evidence — which I sent to ABC at the time — was highly relevant. 

[...]

So ABC was right and its critics are wrong.

For all of its obsession with the ABC-Epstein story, the MRC has said nothing about Dershowitz's defense of ABC spiking the story. Strange, since the MRC loved Dershowitz for his defenses of President Trump before his ties to Epstein became more prominent following Epstein's arrest on new sex-trafficking charges and his death in prison.

We have no idea who's telling the truth here, but we know that the MRC is doing a disservice to its readers by hiding the fact that this story is complicated, just because it has a narrative to perpetuate.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:09 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2019 2:27 PM EST
CNS Editor's Double Standard On Federal Spending
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com editor in chief Terry Jeffrey spent his Nov. 20 column lecturing members of Congress that the longtime practice of paying a year's salary to the surviving spouse of a congressmember who dies in office is a waste of money:

The members of Congress who have enacted previous bills that included language directing the Treasury to provide the equivalent of a full year's salary to the spouse of a deceased colleague were not giving that person their own money.

They were giving that person your money — or your children's and your grandchildren's money.

And this, of course, is exactly how the Washington establishment has long shown how compassionate it is: It takes money from one group of people and gives it to another.

[...]

Since Congress plans to run annual deficits in every fiscal year for the foreseeable future, this "gift" might alternatively be paid with borrowed money — adding to the $1.1 trillion deficit the Office of Management and Budget had previously estimated the Treasury would run this year.

In that case, the Treasury will issue bonds to secure the cash needed to fund that "gift" and then roll those bonds over and over — unless the federal government actually pays off its debt someday.

Jeffrey, however, is much more cavalier when it comes to spending tax money on causes he approves of -- and he was just two weeks before his lecture to Congress.

As he has before, Jeffrey devoted a Nov. 7 article to touting how building a border wall would take up an infintesimal amount of the federal budget, then complaining that Congress isn't funding it to his satisfaction:

The $5,000,000,000 that President Donald Trump has requested Congress appropriate for border-wall construction along the southwestern border in fiscal 2020 equals just 0.1 percent of the $4,745,573,000,000 that the Office of Management and Budget estimates the federal government will spend in total during the fiscal year.

The fiscal 2020 Department of Homeland Security funding bill that the House Appropriations Committee has approved, however, provides $0 for the wall.

[...]

The $5,000,000,000 President Trump has requested for construction of the border wall in fiscal 2020 equals 0.1 percent of the $4,745,573,000,000 that the OMB estimates the federal government will spend in total in fiscal 2020.

By contrast, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved and sent to the full Senate a DHS funding bill that says: “$5,000,000,000 is for the construction of pedestrian fending.”

Unlike in his lecture over survivors' payments, Jeffrey did not mention the federal deficit at all or fret that the wall would be paid for with borrowed money. It's as if he has different standards based on things he would like to see money spent on.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:44 AM EST
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
MRC Hypocritically Blames 'Sexism' For Criticism of GOP Congresswoman
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center typically mocks and denounces claims of sexism. For instance, a Nov. 4 post by Lindsay Kornick complained that the TV series "For All Mankind" decided to "highlight how sexist NASA members can be and force a feminist angle," then a few days later whined that the show "continues to push its feminist agenda by dragging NASA as male-driven and sexist. What isn’t sexist to TV writers these days?"

What's "sexist" to MRC writers these days is when a female Republican politician gets criticized, and they're not afraid to hypocritically exploit the allegation.

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik pulled stunts during the impeachment hearings such as violating hearing rules by attempting to question witnesses at a time when she was not permitted to do so then falsely playing the victim after criticism of it -- and the MRC was more than happy to pump up her victimhood. A Nov. 13 post by Curtis Houck complained:

Former Bush official-turned-liberal-turned-ABC News chief political analyst-turned-special correspondent Matthew Dowd found himself in hot water on Wednesday after the first set of impeachment hearings, tweeting a sexist attack against Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Why? Well, it turned out he didn’t like her questioning.

And taking a page out of the Hillary Clinton playbook, Dowd’s apologies amounted to him expressing dismay and apologized that people thought that he was being sexist when, in his mind, he wasn’t.

Dowd's remark was not particularly sexist -- he called Stefanik "a perfect example of why just electing someone because they are a woman or a millennial doesn't necessarily get you the leaders we need" --  but it was sexist enough for Houck to exploit, though he would never find a similarly worded tweet aimed at, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be similarly offensive to him.

Houck dropped the S-word again in a Nov. 18 post when he found another Stefanik-related tweet to get offended by:

On Saturday afternoon, Never Trump attorney and liberal cable news darling George Conway leveled sexist attacks at Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) on Twitter for being against impeachment and tussling with fellow media favorite and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), calling her “lying trash” and sharing a doctored photo of her flipping off a camera.

[...]

Of course, CNN did nothing to rebut or even acknowledge these attacks on-air. Their reason? To go out on a limb, they might have seen nothing wrong with that level of sexism and peddling of fake news.

Houck never explained why Conway calling Stefanik "lying trash" is enherently "sexist," even though she did lie by claiming victimhood after getting called out for violating hearing rules, which was apparently what Conway was pointing out. Nor does Houck disprove Conway's assertion that Stefanik is a liar.

Houck also addressed the doctored photo of Stefanik flipping off a camera that Conway had retweeted, complaining that "former Ted Cruz aide-turned-Never Trumper-turned-liberal CNN political commentator Amanda Carpenter" was "smearing Stefanik by arguing that the fake photos seemed credible to her," asserting that her philosophy was "if it rings true, it is true!"

Funny, that's the exact approach Houck and other MRC writers have taken in the case of a charge the MRC heavily promoted in 2017 that a high school student was raped by an undocumented immigrant. When it turned out that prosecutors dropped the rape charges citing inconsistencies and lack of corroboration, the MRC covered for their lack of due diligence in hyping the bogus story, with Houck trying to distract from the fact that they got it wrong and Nicholas Fondacaro justified the false hype by insisting that "at the time of the original story, there was little evidence that the charges wouldn’t stick."

In other words, in the eyes of  the MRC's immigrant-hating writers, the story rung true, so it was true -- and they never apologized for pushing a bogus story when the truth came out. Which makes Houck's attempt to shame Carpenter more than a little hypocritical.


Posted by Terry K. at 5:42 PM EST
WND's Lively Blames Ukraine Scandal On ... The Gays?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Scott Lively began his Nov. 18 WorldNetDaily column with a bunch of right-wing conspiracy theories, such as President Obama's "apparent interference in the Israeli elections to hurt Bibi Netanyahu (he didn't), George Soros having "orchestrated the Ukraine street riots, sniper murders and violent civil war" (not really) and "Joe Biden's admitted extortion of the Ukrainian president to force the ouster of the chief prosecutor investigating him (yeah, no).

But first and foremost, Lively is a professional gay-hater, and he somehow turns things around to blame President Trump's Ukraine scandal on, yes, the gays, of which he apparently thinks Obama is one:

Then in June 2013, Russia infuriated the elites by passing a national ban on "gay" propaganda to children. This action, applauded by morally conservative Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, represented a direct threat to EU expansion plans, and to the global sexual revolution by which the elites weaken target nations by undermining the marriage-based family foundations of their society.

It also personally offended purported homosexual Barack Obama who had tasked all agencies of the U.S. government in 2011 to prioritize "gay rights" by official Presidential Memorandum.

Thus, from June 2013, U.S. policy turned hostile to Russia, exhibited most clearly at the February 2014 Olympics in Socci, Russia, where many government-backed U.S. and EU leftists staged pro-LGBT protests designed to humiliate and punish the Russians.

Then, in November 2013, Ukraine declined to sign an agreement to integrate more closely with the EU, undoubtedly in part because of the EU's LGBT agenda.

Importantly, the new Obama strategy to make Russia an international pariah centered on Ukraine. (As is true of individuals, nations that oppose the LGBT agenda must be discredited or destroyed.)

Obama knew a successful pro-globalist "regime change" in Ukraine would force Putin to seize control of its key military bases in Crimea and other strategically critical territory (analogous to American interests in Hawaii). That would allow Obama to characterize Putin as the aggressor and Russian policy as "expansionist" when the opposite was true.

Lively's evidence that Obama is a "purported homosexual" is a link to a WND rehash of the never-proven rumor that Obama was involved in "Chicago's homosexual community."

That, as well as the conspiracy theories he indulges in here, is a good indicator of the lack of factual and intellectual rigor that Lively puts into his work.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:20 AM EST
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
NEW ARTICLE: Anonymously Yours, The MRC
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center loves to rant about anonymous sources in the "liberal media" -- while it invokes its own anonymous sources on stories that advance its right-wing agenda. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 4:10 PM EST
CNS' Impeachment Stenography Files Continue
Topic: CNSNews.com
For pro-Trump talking points on impeachment, it's hard to find a more devoted regurgitator of them than CNSNews.com. Craig Bannister made his stenographic contribution in a Nov. 19 article:

While Democrats are now accusing President Donald Trump of bribery, the thirty-five hundred pages of sworn deposition testimony released so far reveal only one mention of the word “bribery” – and it’s used to describe the alleged conduct of former Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry, Rep. Ratcliffe noted how Democrats’ charge against Trump has morphed, from “quid pro quo” to “extortion” to, currently, “bribery”:

[...]

Ironically, the only time word “bribery” is used, it’s used to describe the behavior former Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. Ratcliffe explains:

“In fact, in these thirty-five hundred pages of sworn deposition testimony and just these ten transcripts released thus far, the word ‘bribery’ appears, in these thirty-five hundred pages exactly one time.

“And, ironically, it appears, not in the description of President Trump’s alleged conduct – it appears in the description of Vice President Biden’s alleged conduct.”

Weirdly -- or not, considering that he's in slavish-stenography mode and Ratcliffe apparently didn't elaborate or bookmark the reference -- Bannister never tells his readers the full context of that alleged reference to Biden and "bribery." Perhaps because that reference is irrelevant; as an actual news organization reported, it came "in a question one attorney asked about unfounded bribery allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden."

In uncritically repeating Ratcliffe's rant, Bannister is just repeating the apparent mandate from his Media Research Center overlords to frame discussion of "bribery" as merely a question of semantics driven by Democrats, as his MRC co-workers have similarly done. He continued to be Ratcliffe's mouthpiece, asserting that "The American people need to be aware of these facts, because the Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee is likely to approve articles of impeachment against Pres. Trump based on the charge of bribery – even though not a single witness has characterized it as such – Ratcliffe said."

But as political analysts have detailed, "bribery" is not an inaccurate word for what Trump is accused of doing, and a quid pro quo is an usually a component of bribery. Bannister won't tell you that, of course, because he's not being paid to report the full truth.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:25 AM EST
Monday, December 2, 2019
NewsBusters Blogger Tries To Whitewash Gingrich's Dubious Book Deal
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Nov. 21 NewsBusters post, Clay Waters complained that a New York Times story about former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh being caught in corruption involving shady deals regarding sales of a children's book series she wrote "cynically lumped in non-criminal behavior with what Pugh was convicted of doing." This being NewsBusters, Waters was particularly upset that the Times referenced a shady book deal involving Newt Gingrich:

Finally, reaching back to 1988, [writer Emily] Eakin found a Democratic book controversy, involving powerful House Speaker Jim Wright, who had to resign. Yet unwilling to let a Democrat take the blame alone, she made a false moral equivalency, comparing Wright’s situation with another “unorthodox book arrangement” on behalf of Gingrich, who had made Wright’s reign a target of ethical scrutiny.  Wright was engaged in genuinely sleazy activity, which resulted in 69 counts of ethics violations (he resigned to avoid being indicted), while Gingrich’s deal was above board.

Yet Eakin lazily equated the two stories[.]

"Gingrich’s deal was above board"? Not so much. The Washington Post explained it in 1989:

When Gingrich and his wife, Marianne, wrote the nonfiction book "Window of Opportunity" with David Drake in 1984, they signed a contract to share a standard 10 percent hardcover royalty. But they also took the unusual step of setting up a limited partnership, which raised $105,000 from Republican political activists and business people around the country, to promote sales of the book. Normally, a publisher pays for promotion. The idea, Gingrich said in an interview late Friday, was that a large publicity budget could "force a best seller. I was real naive." The 21 investors in the COS Limited Partnership each put up $5,000 and were to split half of the publisher's profits. But sales of the book were modest, and there were no profits. The publisher, Jim Baen, of Baen Enterprises, lost money on the venture. This created a tax benefit for the partners. Gingrich did not have a share of the partnership, but his wife, Marianne, said in an interview yesterday that she has been paid close to $10,000 by the partnership for her work as general partner. She said she put no money into COS but got a 2 percent share and thus a portion of the tax benefits from the partnership's continuing annual losses.

Another 1989 Post article pointed out that Gingrich's book was "paid for by political supporters and constituents, several of them with an interest in legislation," and that even Gingrich admitted the promotion scheme was "weird."

Just because it was apparently legal doesn't mean it wasn't a bit on the shady side.

UPDATE: A bio of Gingrich reported that he violated House rules by using his congressional office staff to work on the book by editing and sending out drafts of the book -- and it was just one of a number of shady book deals Gingrich has been involved with. Relly, "above board" is a phrase that has not normally been associated with Gingrich.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:42 PM EST
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2019 7:20 PM EST
WND Launches Another Lame Attack on Google
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Google seems to be living rent-free in the brain of WorldNetDaily managing editor David Kupelian. His latest dubious attack on the search giant came in a Nov. 7 letter to readers in which he complained about "Google's "new front in its war to drive WND out of business" -- as if Google feels specifically threatened by anything WND is doing. He then continued:

These leftist censorship tools are making it harder and harder for WND to deliver our content to our current readers and ever more difficult to attract new ones. So you can imagine our concern when:

Google recently announced that it would be using its vast wealth to enter the internet news business and was launching this new initiative by bankrolling 29 websites to compete for WND readers.

[...]

It’s not enough to ban our content or conceal it from potential readers looking through search results.

No. Google is going into the “news” business, starting with 29 websites to spread its far-left propaganda – content I am certain will appear at the top of search results when people look for news on the internet.

[...]

I will venture a guess that Google will not charge for access to its selected “news” websites either. With 90% of the online advertising pie at their disposal, they won’t need to.

They will spread and promote their liberal poison using their wealth, their ability to cripple and sideline genuinely pro-American, non-Swamp news organizations like WND, and do all of these things in the background without the public even knowing they are being lied to and bombarded with godless, biased, leftwing propaganda.

Well, no. As we documented when the Media Research Center fearmongered about this initiative, several of the Google grant recipients are already-existing mainstream media outlets, and almost none involve spreading "far-left propaganda" -- many are infrastructure-related, such asdeveloping databases or helping to move a for-profit newspaper to a nonprofit structure.

At no point in his letter did Kupelian describe any of the projects the Google initiative is funding -- all the better to portray the company as a bogeyman trying to run WND out of business. But Kupelian also wants money; he wrote that "I hope you will take a moment to help WND with a contribution of $25, $35, $50, $100 or more today." 

At least Kupelian is admitting WND's bias, which currently incapacitated founder Joseph Farah never did, stating that WND caters to "conservative, pro-American readers like you."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:59 AM EST
Sunday, December 1, 2019
Pro-Trump Talking Point Factory Once Again Accuses Media Of Pushing Pro-Impeachment Talking Points
Topic: Media Research Center

It's rather rich to see the Media Research Center -- a factory and echo chamber for conservative and pro-Trump talking points on the impeachment inquiry -- accuse others of repeating talking points. The MRC did that again in a Nov. 14 post by Nicholas Fondacaro:

At a Thursday press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) essentially authorized the use of the word “bribery” to describe President Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine. The broadcast networks gushed about her use of the word and showed their approval by roundly noting that bribery was an impeachable offense explicitly laid out in the Constitution.

[...]

Perhaps “bribery” should be added to the list of shared talking points between the media and Democratic Party.

Of course, accusing "the media" of sharing Democratic talking points is a Republican talking point.

The next day, Kyle Drennen followed up with another body count article (bolding in original):

Following Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Thursday morning press conference in which she accused President Trump of “bribery,” the broadcast networks spent the next 24 hours featuring the term 43 times in evening and morning show coverage. All of it designed to boost the impeachment crusade against Trump.

After Thursday’s evening newscasts dutifully assaulted viewers with the “bribery” buzzword a whopping 19 times (four mentions on NBC Nightly News, six mentions on ABC’s World News Tonight, and nine mentions on CBS Evening News), Friday’s morning shows kept up the onslaught with another 18 mentions (six on NBC’s Today, seven on ABC’s GMA, five on CBS This Morning). In addition, special impeachment hearing coverage on NBC (two mentions) and CBS (four mentions) featured the word six more times.

The mentions included both carefully selected soundbites from Pelosi herself, as well as anchors and correspondents hyping the talking point as a new “stark” and “significant” claim from House Democrats.

Then, on Nov. 19, Bill D'Agostino actually accused the media of encouraging Democrats to use "bribery":

For the past several weeks, anxious journalists have coached Democratic politicians from the sidelines with unsolicited advice on how best to convince the majority of Americans to support impeaching President Trump.

The latest example: instructing the Democratic leadership to stop describing President Trump’s alleged conduct as a “quid pro quo,” and to stick with more sinister words such as “bribery” or “extortion.” On November 8, The Washington Post ran an op-ed titled “Enough with the Latin. What Trump did was bribery.” The New York Times and The Atlantic published similar pieces the following day.

PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor tried to assist the partisan impeachers on the November 10 edition of NBC’s Meet The Press: “Quid pro quo might be too complicated when you’re running to the supermarket or when you’re going somewhere, rather than saying ‘the President tried to bribe a foreign country.’”

Put another way, Americans are too simple-minded to understand that a quid-pro-quo is eminently impeachable, so let’s start saying “bribery” instead.

Of course, this is all mere obsession over a word. These MRC writers are simply attacking and offer no constructive advice other than to push MRC-favored talking points instead. D'Agostino, for instance, demanded that the media should be "reporting on the Democrats’ struggle with messaging," which is purportedly behind the uptick in "bribery" usage. And nowhere do any of these MRC writers argue that "bribery" is not an accurate word for what Trump is alleged to have done; instead, they complain that the word is being used (Drennen did huff "without any substantiation," but he didn't make a case for why it was inaccurate).

The MRC is simply trying to control the language around impeachment for the benefit of Trump. Politics is all that matters to them -- not the truth.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:25 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, December 1, 2019 6:28 PM EST
CNS Dutifully Repeats More GOP Anti-Impeachment Talking Points
Topic: CNSNews.com

The loyal Trump-bots at CNSNews.com have been slavishly repeating pro-Trump talking points in its "news" coverage of the impeachment hearings against President Trump. Here are a couple more examples.

CNS has dutifully regurgitated the claims of Republican congressmen, particularly Devin Nunes, trying to build a Ukranian conspiracy theory around a woman named Alexandra Chalupa:

  • Nov. 11: Susan Jones quoted Rep. Ron Johnson dropping Chalupa's name as an example of "connections between Democrats" and Ukraine.
  • Nov. 12: Jones cited as one witness Republicans would like to call at the hearings "Alexandra Chalupa, former Democratic National Committee staffer, who has admitted to providing anti-Trump dirt to the DNC and the Clinton campaign."
  • Nov. 13: Melanie Arter copied-and-pasted transcript of Nunes asking one witness about Chalupa, who he claimed "admitted to Politico that she worked with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign, which she passed on to the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign."
  • Nov. 15: Jones quoted Nunes ranting that "Democrats on this committee ignore Ukrainian election meddling, even though (DNC operative Alexandra) Chalupa publicly admitted to the Democrats' scheme."
  • Nov. 21: Jones served up another rant from Nunes huffing that Democrats "got caught covering up for Alexandra Chalupa, a Democratic National Committee operative who colluded with Ukrainian officials to smear the Trump Campaign by improperly redacting her name from deposition transcripts and refusing to let Americans hear her testimony as a witness in these proceedings."
  • Nov. 22: Jones repeated a letter by House Republicans requesting records on alleged Obama White House meetings with Demomcratic and Ukranian officials including "Alexandra Chalupa, a contractor for the DNC, who reportedly worked with Ukrainian government officials to undermine the Trump campaign."
In none of these articles, however, did Jones or Arter tell the full story of Chalupa -- presumably because that would expose the truth that anything Ukraine did regarding election interference was small potatoes compared to the systematic, large-scale interference conducted by Russia on behalf of Trump.

As that 2017 Politico article explained, Chalupa played a key role in helping to expose Trump adviser and campaign manager Paul Manafort's work in Ukraine. She stopped working for the DNC in mid-2016, but continued to pass along information about Manafort to other journalists. Chalupa has since said that the Ukranian government did not engage in a Russian-like interference campaign, and that efforts to attack her like the Republicans are doing originally began with Russia.

Given that Manafort was later convicted and sent to prison for bank and tax fraud regarding the millions of dollars he was paid for his work in Ukraine, Chalupa's work could hardly be called "anti-Trump dirt" -- no, more like in-depth reporting. CNS won't tell its readers that, of course, since keeping the allegations vague makes her sound more sinister than she is.

Jones uncritically repeated another GOP talking point in a Nov. 14 article, this time copying-and-pasting testimony from Republican Rep. John Radcliffe emphasizing that Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky (whose first name Jones once again failed to use in her article) has denied feeling pressure in that notorious phone call with Trump:

I think everyone knows that House Democrats have made up their mind to impeach one president. The question that we've just learned is, whether or not they're prepared to impeach two.

Because to be clear, if House Democrats impeach President Trump for a quid pro quo involving military aid, they have to call President Zelensky a liar. If they impeach him for abusing his power or pressuring or making threats or demands, they have to call President Zelensky a liar to do it. If they impeach President Trump for blackmail or extortion or making threats or demands, they have to call President Trump (he meant President Zelensky) a liar to do it.

But as an actual journalist reported, Zelensky's words are more nuanced than CNS and the GOP are portraying:

Zelensky ran for the presidency on an anti-corruption platform, and won in a landslide. Admitting to giving in to pressure — or admitting to pressuring independent members of his government to conduct investigations — would mean not only losing bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress but also destroying his credibility among Ukrainians.

After the Sept. 25 meeting with Trump, Zelensky met with Ukrainian journalists, who immediately asked him for clarification. He said that for him, it was simple: He didn’t want his words to be interpreted to mean that Ukraine would interfere in another country’s elections. Still speaking Ukrainian, he added: “That’s why I said, ‘No one canpressure me. And no one will pressure me.’ ”

In both colloquial Ukrainian and in colloquial Russian, “he pressured me” does not mean merely “I felt pressured.” Instead, it implies you’ve actually been compelled to do something. In Ukrainian politics, “pressure” (tysk) means not just applying pressure; it usually means that the person being pressured cooperated. In Zelensky’s statement to Ukrainian journalists that “no one can pressure me,” he was not commenting on Trump’s action; he was clarifying his own response.

If Zelensky had wanted to convey that there truly was no pressure involved, he could have said, “No one tried to pressure me.”

But CNS won't tell you that either, because it undermines the pro-Trump agenda its impeachment coverage is centered around.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 AM EST
Saturday, November 30, 2019
MRC Kaepernick Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

Colin Kaepernick popped up in the news earlier this month, and you know what that means: Mysterious Media Research Center blogger Jay Maxson came down with yet another case of Kaepernick Derangement Syndrome.

Maxson broke the news in a Nov. 13 post: "There's been a major thaw in the cold war between the NFL and former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The league has arranged a private workout and interview for the cop-hating NFL cast-off this Saturday, and all 32 teams are invited to attend."Maxson further huffed that the "media have never stopped whining about him being 'blackballed' for his national anthem protests"; Maxson doesn't disprove the argument.

The next day, Maxson whined that there was "plenty of Kaepernick Kool-Aid" on ESPN programs talking about the tryout for "the radical former pro quarterback/anthem kneeler." Maxson was so in derangement mode tha the wrote a second post about Kaepernick that day, huffing that "the groupthink media parrots had their talking points down pat: the NFL's Saturday workout and interview with the famous anthem foe is a sham and a PR stunt" -- as if Maxson wasn't peddling right-wing groupthink -- further whining that "The NFL is creating a stage for the three-year free agent that no veteran player has ever had."

Maxson rested from Kaepernick-related derangement for a day before returning with a Nov. 16 post denouncing the NFL workout for him as "unprecedented' and "privileged" and attacking media folks as being "fully in the tank for Kaepernick." Maxson further huffed: "Kaepernick has a losing career record of 28-30 as a starting NFL quarterback. That's just an inconvenient, seldom-mentioned truth to his media apologists, who are fixated on his social justice "exploits". They have fuzzy memories of past greatness and fuzzy visions of Kaepernick turning his new team into a Super Bowl contender."

Kaepernick also played in a Super Bowl, which we can safely assume is more than the mysterious Maxson has done.

Maxson wasn't the only one reveling in hate, though. A Nov. 14 post by Gabriel Hays had a meltdown over "U.S. women’s World Cup champion, feminist activist and angry lesbian Megan Rapinoe dedicating her Glamour 'Women of the Year Award' to disgraced, race-baiting former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick." Reminding us that the MRC hates Rapinoe too, Hays sneered that she is merely "famous for playing soccer, for being a lesbian, and for having the right politics."


Posted by Terry K. at 10:32 AM EST
WND -- Which Portrayed Obama As A Manchurian Candidate -- Frets Over Trump Being Portrayed The Same Way
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Back in 2008, WorldNetDaily was throwing every smear it could think of at Barack Obama to keep him from getting elected president. Managing editor David Kupelian straight-up called Obama a "Manchurian candidate" -- richly ironic because WND just a few years before was smearing Obama's opponent, John McCain, as a Manchurian candidate.

Well, someone has cranked up the richness level on the irony meter, becuase David Harsanyi devoted his Nov. 15 syndicated column, published at WND, to fret that some were pushing the idea that Donald Trump is a Manchurian candidate:

One of the most durable conspiracy theories of our times finds Vladimir Putin recruiting a billionaire media personality named Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency. In some iterations of the tale, Trump is willingly serving his Kremlin comrades; in others, he is merely the victim of kompromat, or "compromising material." In every version, he is an asset of a hostile government.

Putin, who is apparently blessed with seer-like abilities, knew in the late 1970s that Trump, whose political positions would wildly fluctuate over 40 years, was presidential material. And that now, after decades of patiently waiting, the duo's nefarious plan to cut taxes and place originalists onto the federal bench has finally come to fruition.

In a sprawling July 2018 New York magazine piece headlined "Will Trump Be Meeting with His Counterpart – Or His Handler? A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion," Jonathan Chait offered a fully realized rendering of Trump's potential sedition. Cobbling together every interaction the real estate developer ever had with Russians, Chait posits that Trump might have become a Kremlin asset in 1987 when he visited Moscow.

Recently CNBC's John Harwood resuscitated this conspiracy, claiming that while "conservative media dismissed as ridiculous the idea that Russia might have cultivated Trump for decades, Fiona Hill, a leading US govt Russia expert, now makes clear it's not ridiculous in the slightest."

Adding to the irony factor, Harsanyi concluded his column by taking an implicit shot at WND, though he may not even know his column appears there:

Then again, the Manchurian Candidate conspiracy theory is much like birtherism. Too many conservatives rationalized their anger over politics by convincing themselves that Obama wasn't only a dangerous ideological adversary but a seditious and illegitimate one as well. (One of the people rightly pilloried for doing this was Donald Trump.) The only difference is that Democrats have mainstreamed this kind of destructive paranoia.

Not only did WND go full-in on the birther conspiracy, it worked behind the scenes to feed birther talking points to Trump.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:26 AM EST
Friday, November 29, 2019
MRC Complains About Labeling Of Trump Jr.'s Hecklers
Topic: Media Research Center

It's bizarrely entertaining to see the Media Research Center -- which loves to label things and people as "far left" in a way that ignores degrees of liberalism because that's an attack label that plays well with its right-wing base -- have a fit over how people on its side of the political spectrum are labeled.

Curtis Houck used a Nov. 12 post to lecture CNN about its labeling of hecklers who drove Donald Trump Jr. off a stage:

On CNN Right Now, host Brianna Keilar had three teases boasting of these protesters. The first tease had the chyron “Campus Chaos; Far Right Crowd Heckles Trump Jr Off Stage” and the others read:“Campus Chaos; Trump Jr Leaves Stage After Protests by Far Right Crowd.”

In the segment, Keilar claimed that the protesters were “right-wing activists.” Ah, yes. So the same people that have turned their ire to attacking the Daily Wire and editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro with anti-Semitic tropes? 

Further, such individuals would be classified as alt-right, so more akin to neo-Nazis (which, after all, are National Socialists) than the ideals of Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, and Ronald Reagan. But sure, CNN. Tell us more about what’s conservative and what’s not.

Houck praised CNN's Brian Stelter for being "correct" in labeling the hecklers as "far right wing," then complained that "Just over seven hours later, AC360 host Anderson Cooper hyped that “it was conservatives” who protested the event.

If Houck wants to address the issue of sloppy political labeling, perhaps he should start with the MRC's NewsBusters operation, for which he serves as managing editor. Over the past month or so, here are the people and things the MRC has labeled as "far left":

Houck cannot plausibly, objectively or accurately claim that all, or even most, of these people and things are "far left" -- again, this is just meaningless clickbait for MRC readers.

If Houck wants the "liberal media" to learn the difference between conservative, right-wing, far-right and alt right, he and his co-workers should make the effort to learn the difference between liberal, progressive, left-wing and far left -- and make sure the MRC's writers and bloggers use that labeling consistently. If right-leaning political labels mean things, then left-leaning ones do as well.

Houck apparently has yet to learn that nobody will treat his "media criticism" seriously as long as he continues to act in an unserious, unprofessional manner.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 PM EST
CNS Trump-Defending Piece Undercut By CNS Story The Day Before
Topic: CNSNews.com

Susan Jones devoted a Nov. 13 CNSNews.com article to pushing a pro-Trump talking point as impeachment hearings were about to begin:

According to witnesses quoted in the Mueller report, even before he was elected president, Donald Trump was leery about the United States getting too involved with Ukraine.

During platform committee meetings in July 2016, before the Republican National Convention, a proposed amendment endorsing "lethal assistance" to Ukraine was watered down to read "appropriate assistance."

According to the Mueller report, J.D. Gordon, a senior Trump campaign advisor on policy and national security, diluted the proposed amendment. Instead of supporting "lethal" assistance to Ukraine in response to Russian aggression, Gordon requested that the platform committee revise the proposed amendment to state that only "appropriate" assistance be provided to Ukraine.

Gordon said he sought the change because he believed the proposed "lethal" language was inconsistent with Trump's position on Ukraine.

This talking point might have been more effective if CNS hadn't undercut it the day before by touting Trump surrogates bragging about Trump giving that "lethal assistance" to Ukraine. Patrick Goodenough wrote in a Nov. 12 article:

The fact that President Trump – unlike his predecessor – sent lethal military aid to Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression is “the real story that’s been lost in all this,” National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said Sunday, in reference to Democrats’ drive to impeach the president.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” O’Brien recalled visiting Ukraine as an election monitor in 2014 and being asked by Ukrainians why “the arsenal of democracy” would not provide their country with military aid.

[...]

O’Brien said “the Obama-Biden administration” had provided “no military aid” to Ukraine, but “when President Trump got into office, he sent military aid.”

“So I think what people ought to be focusing on is the president has been helping the Ukrainians defend themselves by sending them lethal – lethal military aid to stand up to the Russians,” he said. “That’s the real story that’s been lost in all this.”

At the center of the impeachment push are allegations that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine, in an attempt to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden.

“President Trump is the first president to send lethal military aid to Ukraine,” O’Brien reiterated. “I think it’s very important. And I think that’s something that’s been lost in – in all the hullabaloo about the – about the telephone call [between Trump and Zelensky on July 25].”

Jones did reference Goodenough's article in the final paragraph of her article -- even highlighting the O'Brien "hullabaloo" statement excerpted above -- but she did not address the fact that his surrogates promoting the aid Trump gave to Ukraine undercuts her talking point about Trump being "skeptical" of foreign aid. And it doesn't make for a suitable excuse for Trump putting a hold on that aid when it's become increasingly clear that he did so over his scheme to force Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 AM EST

Newer | Latest | Older

Bookmark and Share

Get the WorldNetDaily Lies sticker!

Find more neat stuff at the ConWebWatch store!

Buy through this Amazon link and support ConWebWatch!

Support This Site

« January 2020 »
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31

Bloggers' Rights at EFF
Support Bloggers' Rights!

News Media Blog Network

Add to Google