MRC Demands That Trump Briefings Be Aired In Full, Without Comment Or Correction Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has long complained that certain TV channels won't air President Trump's coronavirus briefings in full or that it will cut away to offer commentary. Kathleen Krumhansl summed up this attitude in an April 6 post declaring that it would be "immensely more important to the viewers of Univision and Telemundo, for example, to have unfiltered access to the daily Coronavirus briefings from the White House" than for anyone on those channels to comment on them.
Brent Baker followed up on April 16 with one of those "studies" designed more to push an agenda than to serve up anything useful:
CNN and MSNBC on many days repeatedly cut in and out of the daily White House briefings on the coronavirus pandemic, with CNN the most eager to replace remarks from President Trump, Vice President Pence or any number of medical and logistical experts with derisive commentary by its anchors and reporters. MSNBC carried a little more than CNN, but its anchors also weren’t hesitant to chime in with their condemnations of Trump’s remarks.
A Media Research Center study found that CNN has carried just 69 percent of the briefings’ runtime of those conducted March 30 through April 14. That’s 999 of 1,435 minutes, leaving seven hours and 16 minutes unaired. MSNBC has aired live 1,088 minutes, or 76 percent, not running five hours and forty-seven minutes. Thus, CNN and MSNBC viewers missed more than 13 hours of the briefings. (FNC cut out a few minutes early on two days, but otherwise has carried all the briefings in full, airing 1,383 minutes, about 96 percent of the total duration.)
For six of the 14 briefings over the time period, CNN ignored Trump’s opening remarks, joining the briefing only after he had finished. Wolf Blitzer announced on April 6: “Once the experts start speaking, once the questions and answers begin, we’ll go back to that briefing.”
A week later, CNN’s John King offered this justification for ceasing the live coverage: “The briefing was breathtaking from beginning to when we dropped out and at times it bordered on dangerous.” The next day, an angry Jim Acosta declared “these briefings altogether are coming across like something out of ‘Baghdad Bob,’” with Trump “sounding very ‘Baghdad Bob’-like.”
That was accompanied by a chart that described anyone not airing the briefings in their entirety as "censoring" them.
As far as Baker is concerned, only an "angry" person points out that Trump's performance at these briefings has been Baghdad Bob-like, filled with boasting, attacks and misinformation.But don't tak our word for it; the Washington Post did what Baker wouldn't do and actually analyze the content of those briefings. It found that among the 13 hours Trump spent in those hearings:
He spent two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4½ minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims.
He has attacked someone in 113 out of 346 questions he has answered — or a third of his responses. He has offered false or misleading information in nearly 25 percent of his remarks. And he has played videos praising himself and his administration’s efforts three times.
He has mentioned the nation’s testing capacity in 14 percent of his comments, talked about the country’s ventilator supply in 12 percent and waxed on about his imposition of travel bans — particularly from China — in 9 percent.
87 of his comments or answers — a full 47 minutes — included factually inaccurate comments.
Needless to say, the MRC had a problem with this -- the research thing, that is, not Trump's behavior. Tim Graham devoted his April 29 column to attacking the Post, bizarrely claiming that it "augmented its agression" by, um, doing research of the kind the MRC refuses to do. He then played a lot of whataboutism to defend Trump:
This would sound bizarre if it were any other president. Is it odd that a president speaks 60 percent of the time at his press conferences — especially since reporters want to press him the hardest? Would it be unusual for a president to defend himself, or odd that a president would criticize the Other Party?
No one could claim former President Barack Obama didn't boast about himself and his team. Critics used to count how many times he said the word "I" in his speeches. No one was shocked when Obama used press conferences to attack Republicans or Fox News.
What's strange about this project is it doesn't acknowledge how the press drives the briefings. The Post expressed alarm about those "Trump briefings full of attacks" but doesn't acknowledge that a large chunk of those attacks were Trump returning fire from the press!
When The Post says "politics dominates" these events, it doesn't admit that politics dominates the questions from "objective" reporters. It complains that these briefings are substitutes for Trump's stadium rallies — as if he gets accused of killing thousands of coronavirus victims at his rallies. The paper's aggression is intensified by its partisan desire to deny Trump the advantage of this TV time.
These newspapers really believe the president should never speak positively about his presidency. It's not the right occasion. Can anyone imagine these papers and their chosen experts telling former President Jimmy Carter he couldn't defend himself regarding the Iran hostage crisis during the 1980 presidential campaign? They hate Trump so much, they just want him to stop defending himself and lose miserably in November. Fighting back is impolite.
That's just another way of stating the MRC's highly partisan anti-media agenda: Trump is always right; reporters are always wrong. Indeed, Graham never mentioned the Post's finding of the large number of factually false statements Trump made.
Oh, and Graham failed to disclose that among the "critics" who counted the number of times Obama referred to himself in the first person in a speech is the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com.
CNS Dutifully Repeats Trump's Falsehood About Pelosi Topic: CNSNews.com
Chief Trump stenographer Melanie Arter didherduty again in an April 21 CNSNews.com article:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a street party in Chinatown in San Francisco at the end of February a month after President Donald Trump banned travel from China, the president pointed out Monday at the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
Trump was responding to a question about his early response to the coronavirus outbreak.
[TRUMP:] Why was Nancy Pelosi — right? — Nancy Pelosi is holding a street fair. She wants a street fair in San Francisco, in Chinatown, to prove — you know what the purpose of it was — to prove that there’s no problem. Many other politicians did the same thing. … People are amazed at how early I acted, and I did act early.
Because Arter is a stenographer and not a reporter, she made no effort to fact-check what Trump said or otherwise hold him accountable. An actual news organization did, however, and found that Trump's claim was false:
So let’s look at what Pelosi did and how that tracks with Trump’s description.
Pelosi visited San Francisco’s Chinatown on Feb. 24. To view videos of her visits two months later is almost jarring, as she strolls arm-in-arm and walks amid a crowd. She made clear the point of her visit was to show it was “very safe to be in Chinatown,” which had been hit hard by a drop in tourism after reports of the virus emerging from China.
Other than a reference to a parade that took place two weeks earlier, Pelosi did not propose a parade, a street fair or a party, as Trump claimed. She never indicated she doubted the virus existed, as Trump claimed. She promoted Chinese businesses, even tweeting a brief video of her making fortune cookies.
He accused her of causing many deaths, when there have been none in Chinatown and relatively few in San Francisco. He says she urged street fairs and parades, but that’s not true. She advocated patronage of Chinese businesses.
Arter is not being paid to report facts; she's being paid to amplify Trump's agenda and his statements, whether or not they are true.
NEW ARTICLE: The MRC Parrots Trump's War on Journalists Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center isn't imaginative enough to do any "media research" -- it's just transcribing and gushing over the president's attacks on reporters during his coronavirus briefings. Read more >>
As to be expected from a "news" outlet dripping with right-wing bias, CNSNews.com is fundamentally unfair to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For instance, CNS found it somehow newsworthy that Pelosi "has posted the entire text of a story about her that ran in the New York Times yesterday on her official congressional website," and it obsessed about the (allegedly expensive) ice cream in her freezer.
Pelosi is also the victim of headline bias at CNS. When Pelosi pointed out that President Trump has largely refused to speak to her since she became House speaker, commenting that "when I became Speaker, a person of tremendous power, then that didn’t get as interesting to him," the ridiculously cherry-picked headline on the article about it read "Nancy Pelosi: ‘…I Became Speaker, a Person of Tremendous Power…’" CNS would never do that to its sainted President Trump.
The uber-Catholics at CNS also tried to own the Catholic Pelosi on her religion. From an anonymously written April 22 article:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said on PBS “NewsHour” on Tuesday that she had an “Epiphany” on Easter that told her she “must call out the truth” on the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result of that Epiphany she has been criticizing President Donald Trump.
“Easter,” Pelosi said, “I had sort of an epiphany, an epiphany on Easter, that said: ‘We must call out the truth on this.’ Because we cannot--It's one thing to overlook what happened in the past and be sad about that. It's another thing to let the misrepresentations continue.
“And so that's why I am saying that he's a poor leader,” Pelosi continued—referring to Trump.
In Pelosi’s Catholic faith, the feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. It commemorates the day the Magi visited the baby Jesus and became the first gentiles to meet Christ.
CNS is rather clumsily arguing that Pelosi can't keep her religious holiday straight and rather stupidly claiming that one cannot possibly have an epiphany on Easter and that epiphany has only a religious meaning. The holy day of Epiphany describes the revelation of baby Jesus as divine to the Magi, something that might actually be more accurately described as a theophany.
While the dictionary offers a religious definition of epiphany, it also offers a non-religious one as well "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience."
In other words, it's possible and permissable to have an epiphany on Easter. And, thus, CNS' attempt to own Pelosi utterly fails.
WND Invokes Coronavirus In Attempt To Spring Corrupt Congressman From Prison Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily columnist Rachel Alexander is currently its greatestchampion for Steve Stockman, the former right-wing congressman sent to prison for a raft of wire fraud and money laundering charges that she has reimagined as a Deep State conspiracy. She has now found a way to work him into the coronavirus pandemic.
In her April 6 column, Alexander notes that some prisons are releasing nonviolent criminals since prisons have become hot spots for the spread of coronavirus, which brings her to complain that one particular criminal has yet to be released:
Former Republican Rep. Steve Stockman is over 60, has diabetes (considered high risk for the coronavirus), a lung condition and is wrongfully in prison due to a politically charged Justice Department under the Obama administration. He has not been released and feels like he's under a ticking time bomb. He said that jail staff instructed the inmates to "shelter in place" for 14 days. But, "Forcing inmates to stay near each other for 14 days is like telling people on a ship the best solution is to all get everyone together in one room to stop the spread." Stockman can't go outside to get away from the other inmates since that's been banned due to the shutdown. The air conditioning has been turned very cold in the hopes that it will stop the virus, but it's probably just spreading it quicker through the ducts. He told me, "They are turning the warehouse into a hospital for prisoners. We are jokingly calling it a morgue for us."
Stockman says it's bizarre that Iran, perhaps the most oppressive country in the world, has released 85,000 of its prisoners, while the U.S. is just letting a few types out. The prisons are mostly ignoring the directive from Barr about the sick and elderly nonviolent prisoners. There are 14 Democratic and Republican senators – including Charles Grassley and Mike Lee – the ACLU and the ACU, over 40 former DOJ officials and nine bipartisan advocacy organizations that have called for the release of elderly prisoners who are at risk. Stockman's wife, Patti, has made a video for Trump pleading for her husband's release. When Republicans and Democrats join together on something, it must be taken seriously.
Despite Alexander's sleight-of-hand suggestion, those Democrats and Republicans did not "join together" on releasing Stockman from prison, only the at-risk elderly.
Meanwhile, Alexander's conspiracy theory is not holding up well in the real world; in January, a federal appeals court upheld Stockman's conviction, pointing out that "The evidence shows that there was only one scheme, a scheme to separate wealthy donors from their money and to spend that money at Stockman’s pleasure and direction."
The MRC Doesn't Care About Tara Reade Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center is particuarly obsessed these days with Tara Reade, the woman who has accused Joe Biden of sexual misconduct back in the 1990s -- it has published at least 37 articles referencing her in the past month. It's been doing a lot of concern-trolling on this, especially after it dug up video of a woman who is purportedly Reade's mother vaguely referencing a similar incident while calling into Larry King's CNN show in 1993, which prompted MRC chief Brent Bozell to baselessly accuse CNN of colluding with the Biden campaign to keep the story secret. There is also, of course, a "study" of media coverage of Reade that omits Fox News.
It should be obvious, but we'll point it out anyway: The MRC doesn't give a damn abaout Tara Reade. Because it is a partisan political organization, it cares only about hurting Biden's electoral chances by any means possible. For proof, one need not look further than the shabby, denigrating treatment the MRC has given to women who make sexual misconduct accusations against conservative figures, and the defense it has given to the accused conservatives.
The MRC is closing in on 30years of smearing Anita Hill for making never-disproven allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- most egreiously baselessly accusing her of making the allegations so she could cash in by writing a book and getting a supposedly cushy law school teaching job.
The MRC made sure to attack Chrstine Blasey Ford for making allegations of sexual misconduct against another conservative Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh (which somehow justified even more Anita Hill-bashing) while hiding the fact that one of the key players in the saga, Mark Judge, was employed by the MRC until the Blasey Ford story broke.The MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, followed the same playbook.
And when it was revealed that President Trump's campaign paid hush money to Stormy Daniels to get her to keep quiet about an affair between the two lest it hurt his election chances, theMRCattacked not Trump for having sex with a woman out of wedlock but, rather, Daniels for being a porn star who violated a nondisclosure agreement. The MRC played its usual Clinton whataboutism and even got mad that a domestic abuse allegation against Daniels' lawyer was fact-checked and found to be false.
By contrast, the MRC said nothing about the mounting accusations of sexual harassment against Fox News host Bill O'Reilly until the channel had safely fired him, and in fact was so unconcerned about the accusations that Tim Graham appeared on the final episode of the show (after O'Reilly's departure).
So the MRC can spare us the lectures and instead exhibit some modicum of consistency in its own treatment of sexual misconduct charges -- and, you know, maybe not act so blatantly political and hypocritical.
CNS Still Trying To Downplay Coronavirus Topic: CNSNews.com
We'vedocumented how CNSNews.com worked to downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in its early days. Even though it's been reporting other things about it, downplaying its severity is still a core CNS function.
Patrick Goodenough wrote in a March 20 article: "A study by infectious disease experts at the University of Hong Kong and Harvard University found that the probability of dying after developing COVID-19 symptoms is about 1.4 percent – significantly lower than the 3.4 percent estimate cited by the World Health Organization in early March. The report comes as the number of deaths worldwide attributed to the novel coronavirus passed the 10,000 mark overnight."
Goodenough returned to downplay death rates in the U.S. in a March 30 article headlined "COVID-19 Deaths: Italy, 1 in 5,789 People; United States, 1 in 157,499." He began by complaining that "critics are trashing President Trump over the fact the U.S. is now reporting more confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other country,"then declared: "But numbers of confirmed cases are a function of testing. As testing in the U.S. has ramped up, it was only a matter of time before that testing would detect sizeable numbers of cases moving through the American population."
Of course, this was very early in the pandemic, eamning those number were obsolete almost immediately.
Goodenough again touted lower death estimates in an April 1 article: "Another academic study is estimating a significantly lower COVID-19 death rate than the 3.4 percent approximation cited by the World Health Organization in early March – an estimate which President Trump was roundly criticized for questioning."
Goodenough went on to complain that "critics pounced" on Trump when he called an earlier, higher death estimate a "false number," suggesting that Trump was correct to do so -- something totally on-brand for CNS.
Susan Jones did so in an April 6 article by using it to temper bad news:
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned on Sunday that this will be "the hardest and the saddest week" of our lives, as the death toll from coronavirus continues to climb above the current 9,600-plus.
"This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that," Adams told "Fox News Sunday."
But then he offered some perspective on the death toll: "And more people will die, even in the worst projections, from cigarette smoking in this country than are going to die from coronavirus this year."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day."
Of the 12 countries reporting the highest numbers of confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease COVID-19, the United States has the third-lowest fatality rate.
As of early Monday, 337,620 confirmed cases had been reported in the U.S., and a total of 9,616 deaths – a fatality rate of 2.84 percent.
That compares to a global fatality rate of 5.44 percent (a total of 1,275,542 confirmed cases worldwide, of which 69,498 have resulted in death).
Goodenough spun those death numbers further in an April 17 article:
Despite the grim and still-climbing COVID-19 death toll in the United States, of the 14 Western countries reporting the highest numbers of fatalities linked to the coronavirus disease, the U.S. remains on the lower end of the scale of death rates in proportion to the national population.
The U.S. on Thursday recorded the biggest single-day number of deaths – 4,591 in a 24-hour period ending at 8 PM Eastern Time – an 84 percent increase from the previous day’s then-record of 2,494, according to the real-time database of the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
A pandemic is arguably not the best subject to be conducting horse-race coverage on. But that's how CNS rolls.
Another Lie: MRC's Fondacaro Falsely Denies Trump, Conervative Media's Coronavirus Culpability Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Nicholas Fondacaro was in full rant mode in an April 14 post:
CNN couldn’t stand the heat so they bailed out of Monday’s Coronavirus Task Force press conference and dove right into some unhinged hot takes. While they insisted President Trump was the one who was raging, the OutFront panel was clearly irate as they threw out a flurry of insults and unsupported accusations all in an effort to blame the over 23,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. on the President. And according to Jim Acosta, “conservative media” also had blood on their hands.
Towards the end of their almost 15-minute hate fest, Acosta blasted Trump for “downplaying the severity of this virus” for “a month and a half.” “He was describing it as something like the seasonal flu, when it's not,” he declared as he targeted right-wing media outlets.
He's trying to talk his way out of a mess he created himself; over the past 45 to 60 days both he and members of the conservative media were in this echo chamber saying to one another that the public did not have to worry about this,” he sneered. Fact-check: LIE.
In the early days of the pandemic, the liberal media had decried Trump’s move to ban travel from China as an overreaction. This collage of headlines tweeted out by conservative commentator Dan Bongino showed a USA Today headline from February 1 that proclaimed: “Coronavirus is scary, but the flu is deadlier, more widespread.” And the Associated Press said on February 18: “Is the new virus more ‘deadly’ than flu? Not exactly.”
Headlines such as those, played a key role in a video the President showed to the press at the start of the briefing. The video depicted the timeline of what the administration had done, while rubbing the media’s nose in their terrible reporting. But according to chief national correspondent John King and media janitor Brian Stelter, it was an “anti-media” “propaganda video.”
First: Given that the video in question was tweeted out by right-wing activist Bongino, that makes it very much a "propaganda video."
Second: By declaring something he doesn't like to be a "LIE," Fondacaro is lying again. Not that never actually disproves that statement wrong, just throws out whataboutism to cloud the issue.
There's an actual news organization documenting -- on video! -- how many times Trump downplayed the coronavirus threat.Further, Fondacaro didn't even have to ventyure out of the MRC offices to find conservative media downplaying coronavirus -- we documented how the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, did exactly that, largely by parroting what Trump said.
Fondacaro surely knows all this, that Trump and conservative media did, in fact, contribute to the current crisis. But he's not getting paid to tell the truth -- he's getting paid to defend Trump and attack the media, and as a member of that very conservative media, he can't (or isn't permitted to for job purposesa admit any flaws. And such deliberately false bad-faith criticism is another reason why the MRC is losing credibility.
WND Calls On Dubious Docs To Opine On Coronavirus Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has a stable of dubious doctors it relies on for questionable advice and scare tactics, and it's not a surprise it would call on some of them during the coronavirus pandemic.
In an April 6 column, Elizabeth Vliet -- best known for her ties to the fringe-right Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and her fearmongering about disease-ridden immigrants -- toutedhow "A recent poll of more than 6,000 doctors from 30 countries found that 37% rated hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as the best treatment for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)." But that poll doesn't really mean much, given that medicine should be conducted on the basis of research rather than popularity. She then complained about the need for having to do pesky rigorous research on hydroxychloroquine's effectiveness before prescribing it to coronavirus patients:
When World Health Organization and U.S. experts say there is "no evidence that any medicine can prevent or cure" COVID-19, they correctly mean We don't yet have a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial (RCT). But designing, setting up, conducting and analyzing any RCT takes years. And that is only one form of evidence in medicine. Case studies (pejoratively called "anecdotes") and decades of safe use worldwide provide other valid sources of clinical outcomes evidence, which have guided physicians for more than 2,000 years.
As a matter of historical record, we had no RCT "proving" that smoking caused lung cancer, but that did not stop common-sense recommendations by the surgeon general and physicians who advised patients to stop smoking cigarettes, based on clinical outcomes showing higher lung cancer and heart attack deaths in smokers.
We have no time for an RCT. We can't wait months for a vaccine. People are dying every day.
Did anyone really need double-blind trials to prove that smoking caused cancer? Besides, there's a difference between research on whether something causes a medical condidtion and researching whether a medication can treat a condition.
On April 8, WND granted a column to W. Scott Magill, a retired gynecologist who is the head of something called Veterans in Defense of Liberty -- about which the Better Business Bureau raised concerns after 94 percent of the money it raised in a two-year period went to the fundraiser -- in which he outlined a three-point plan to fight coronavirus, the first of which was, of course, prescribing hydroxychloroquine along with azithromycin, which he declared a "silver bullet." He then went on a rant similar to Vliet:
In an ideal world, perhaps the one Dr. Fauci envisions, we would have controlled double-blind studies on hydroxychloroquine. Of course, we are now a world in crisis, a situation that demands we rely on the growing evidence we have of its efficacy and that requires action to counter the left and their complicit "Tokyo Rose" media, who have have waged a war of words to preclude using the silver bullet we have, claiming it is not the weapon we wished for – a deadly deception for political gain.
Failure to use the silver bullet is irresponsible and, under today's circumstances, a form of malpractice – a term I as a physician do not use lightly. Hydroxychloroquine has shown tremendous success in saving lives, with over 70 years of safe use in the real world. This experience is coupled with an abundance of anecdotal reports across the globe supporting several small studies demonstrating astonishing efficacy in fighting the Beast. Let us not forget the patient also has a God-given right reaffirmed by President Trump, the "Right-to-try!"
That was followed the next day by another AAPS-affiliated doctor, Marilyn Singleton, who followed the template by recommending hydroxychloroquine, but she mostly stayed away from medical issues by ranting about the alleged motives of people continuing to advocate social distancing:
Ending the lockdown is not about Wall Street or disregard for people's lives; it about saving lives. Advanced stages of non-COVID diseases, suicides, domestic violence, increase in substance abuse and mental health disorders, permanent poverty and dissolution of the middle class are unacceptable. Our society must not be fractured into those who live in gated communities and those who live in the streets, trailer parks and decaying homes they can no longer afford to keep up.
We all want to do our part to attenuate the number of serious COVID infections in our communities. But we cannot hand our lives over to the government, particularly when the virus has become an opportunity for Congress to pass pork-filled legislation, for showboating governors to out-quarantine each other and for politically connected tech companies to share cellphone tracking data with the government. I would hate to think some have a financial incentive for promoting a yet-to-be tested and approved vaccine in lieu of an effective, inexpensive and readily available treatment.
People are saying America will never be the same. Hopefully, this will not mean the statists have succeeded in using COVID as an excuse to enact laws that will permanently curtail our liberties and freedom to practice medicine in the best interest of our patients.
It wouldn't be WND if it wasn't giving a platform to medical misinformer Jane Orient, the head of AAPS, and it doesn't disappoint in an April 14 article quoting her attacks on government officials allegedly interfering with the work of physicians. She complained that officials were restricting "off-label use" of drugs to treat coronavirus -- a clear reference to hydroxychloroquine -- declaring that "If off-label use were not possible, you’d have to throw one-fifth of your prescriptions away."
Orient was allowed to go conspiratorial as well:
"Who benefits from the crisis?" she asked.
"Big Pharma, scenting billions in profits from new drugs and vaccines, which would be threatened by use of cheap generics? Big insurance/hospital cartels, whose dominance is threatened by independent doctors? Political entities lusting for more power? Medical organizations whose revenue depends on any or all of the above?"
That's the kind of conspiratorial ranting we've come to expect from both Orient and WND.
Who Else Are The MRC's Enemies For Questioning Trump? Topic: Media Research Center
We've been documenting how the Trump lackeys at the Media Research Center have been parroting President Trump in making members of the media their enemies for committing the offense of asking questions of Trump during his coronvirus public briefings. Let's touch on a few others who got brief attacks.
ABC's Jonathan Karl got targeted a couple times. Kyle Drennen complained on March 19 that "Karl attempted to scold President Trump for having “lashed out” at Democrats who were politicizing coronavirus. Trump shut down the line of questioning by pointing out he has to “respond” since liberal politicians “have the media on their side.” Drennen added: "Missing from Karl’s question was any acknowledgment of how Democrats have worked tonpoliticize the pandemic response."
On April 22, Curtis Houck wrote that "Karl found himself in a shouting match with President Trump about whether the media would ever praise him on testing and their coverage on the increased production of ventilators," then cheered Trump's attack on him while defending Trtump's "imperfect" analogy:
Trump drew Karl’s ire with a litany of “that’s not true” and when he insisted in a hypothetical that even if every American were to be tested ten times for the virus, the press would ridicule him for not giving Americans an 11th test.
While perhaps imperfect, the President’s analogy works out when considering how, even when he does something the press might have lobbied for, they insist it wasn’t enough.
Trump’s response? He jabbed Karl for being “one of the leaders of the bad reporting.”
Needless to say, Houck made no effort to fact-check Trump's claim.
CBS correspondent Paula Reid was another target. Houck highlighted Reid "getting in a shouting match with Trump that seemed to imply she was blaming him for the deaths of over 23,000 Americans. An otherwise respectable reporter, Reid instead decided to provide for the viewing public her best impression of reporters with names like Alcindor, Alexander, Acosta, Karem, and Ryan." Houck went on to rant:
The President was fiery, but hadn’t resorted to calling her “fake” or any other name. That would change as he punched back:“Look, look. You know you’re a fake. You know that. Your whole network, the way you covered is fake and most of you --- not all of you but the people are wise to you. That's why you have a lower --- a lower approval rating than you ever have before times probably three.”
Continuing to show that any liberal media claims that they only want to inform the public and move the country forward, Reid continued to berate Trump about the death toll and unemployment numbers as if to --- again --- suggest this were of his making because of some inaction that the liberal media themselves had pushed for.
Having seen Yamiche Alcindor, Jim Acosta, Peter Alexander, and even Paula Reid make scenes during White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings, CNN political analyst and Playboy writer Brian Karem reasserted himself Tuesday over the press corps and sought to remind Americans of his nonsense. Naturally, it ended with President Trump calling him a “loudmouth” and “showboat” and threatening to end the briefing early.
Before even asking a question, Karem sunk his case with an antagonistic and unnecessary lead off with “600,000 cases, 25,000 deaths” in the U.S. as of Tuesday and lamenting that “I know you want to blame the [World Health Organization]” for the pandemic.
Only then did he claim without evidence that he’s “spoken with hundreds of people across the country in the last few weeks who say they still can't get tested and that they aren't social distancing” when Trump cut him off.
Trump stated that “the governors are supposed to do the testing,” but Karem kept shouting about how that wasn’t his question.
The President tried to move onto NBC’s Hans Nichols, but Karem wasn’t done.
So much for collegiality, Brian[.]
Seeing as how Karem couldn’t ask a question without extraneous information and was interrupting a colleague, the President had plenty of leeway to shut Karem down and call out his nonsense, leaving Karem with a look of pure sadness[.]
The usual MRC hallmarks are there: failure to fact-check anyone, especially Trump; the mind-reading of the purported state of mind of the journalist asking the question; the assumption that Trump is always right and the correspondents are always wrong.
Touting how Trump insulted journalists is not "media research"; it's stenography.
Allen West Has Thoughts About Coronavirus Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com columnist and Media Research Center "senior fellow" Allen West has been having some thoughts and ruminations (as stated in the headline of his March 23 column) about the coronavirus pandemic. Amazingly, many of them involve using the pandemic to advance his usual right-wing talking points.
In that column, West mused about the usual conservative platitudes of courage over fear, ultimately concluding with a talking point: "But most importantly, we need to take individual responsibility for our healthcare. If anything, COVID-19 has taught us that state- or government-controlled healthcare is not a viable solution. It is lethargic and irresponsive to the ever-changing dynamic of medicine and healthcare."
West spent his March 30 column what is "essential" under lockdown orders ,complaining that gun stores were not seen as essential while Planned Parenthood, "an organization founded by a white supremacist and racist," is arguing to keep abortion clinics open. West loves that particular lie about Margaret Sanger.
On April 6, West invoked Easter to find a silver lining -- you know, that thing that his employer says we're not supposed to find -- in the pandemic: "We are facing a deadly pestilence, COVID-19, but as the aforementioned verses from Romans state, this current suffering can produce something lasting. ... We must come together and seek out God’s blessings for our overcoming -- and we have been through rough times previously." He added: "Holy Week is all about the culmination of the four Rs – Redemption, Reconciliation, Restoration, and Resurrection. Those four Rs are a roadmap for our Recovery, from COVID-19."
In his April 13 column, West engaged in the usual right-wing complaint about erosion of rights under the pandemic, falsely framing it as a power grab instead of the health protection measures they are:
It is disturbing to think that anyone would seek to profit politically and ideologically from a tragedy, a crisis, this pandemic. What are we to discern when examining these quotes for analysis and assessment? Yes, we all want to be safe and healthy. We all want to do that which is best and good for the public, the American people. But when do we stop and realize that with each crisis we face, there are those who find opportunity in eroding our individual constitutional rights?
West also echoed the CNS bad take on restricting religious services to discourage the spread of coronavirus as a violation of religious rights: "Our very first right in our Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution is Freedom of Religion, and the free exercise thereof. But I guess not in the new normal of Gov. Cuomo."
West served up more self-proclaimed "observations" in his April 20 column, cheering the "pushback against these draconian, ideological-driven decisions, mandates, edicts, and orders emanating from elected officials," likening it to the start of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord and rehashing some of his earlier talking points:
How troubling that here we are, 245 years later, and some elected officials are mandating that gun stores and gun ranges are non-essential. Yet, these same progressive socialist elected officials will tell us that businesses that sell marijuana are essential. They have told us that required surgeries are now “elective,” such as hip replacements, and in some cases, cancer removal procedures. But as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan asserted, murdering a preborn baby is an essential medical procedure.
We are being told our churches are non-essential and that we must surrender our right to peaceably assemble. These are individual rights and cornerstones enshrined in our First Amendment.
Is there any doubt as to why we have Americans starting to take to the streets? Can you blame Americans for a rising angst and anger when they see chummy media interviews by the Speaker of the House of Representatives showing off her collection of gourmet ice cream, while they are fretting over feeding their families? Talk about a Marie Antoinette moment.
If all West can do is play his greatest hits (which really aren't so great), he's not being terribly insightful as a columnist and "senior fellow."
MRC's War On Fact-Checking Continues Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's war on fact-checking is pretty simple: paint any fact-checking organization that fact-checks conservatives as "liberal" and, therefore, somehow not trustworthy. It has put a newly formed fact-checking through that narrative -- targeted mainly because it works with Facebook.
Corinne Weaver focused on the new target in a March 23 post:
Facebook currently relies on nine fact-checking organizations in the United States to help the platform “reduce” and “remove” problematic content. However, many of the people the company has put in charge of suppressing content are pushing a left-wing agenda.
Lead Stories, a fact-checking organization started by Belgian tech blogger Maarten Schenk, is a perfect example. It was the top fact-checker for Facebook in January. The media outlet, which has eight CNN alumni who fact-check trending stories, fact-checks conservatives four times more than liberals.
The fact-checking operation was given $359,000 by Facebook to approve content on the social media site in 2019.
Lead Stories published 296 fact-checks between January 1, 2020, and March 9, 2020. Out of those, 55 entries were from right-leaning social media users and news outlets. Only 12 were from left-leaning social media users and news outlets.
In a moment when Facebook is heavily relying on fact-checkers to flag information on the coronavirus, Lead Stories has slammed many conservative outlets.
Weaver offered no evidence that liberal outlets put out the same amount of misinformation on social media than conservative outlets do, thus warranting parity. She also didn't dispute the accuracy of any of the fact-checks on conservative outlets that Lead Stories did. That makes her claim that Lead Stories is "pushing a left-wing agenda" entirely unsupported.
Nevertheless, the target had been drawn on the group. An MRC post the same day by Alexander Hall baselessly branded Lead Stories a "liberal fact-checker" and complained that it "failed to fact-check the contentious Democratic debate between former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on March 15." That's another bogus attack, because it doesn't fact-check politicians at events; its mission states that "we specifically hunt for trending stories from known fake news, satire or prank websites in order to debunk them as quickly as possible."
Third-party fact-checkers have the ability to cause pages on Facebook to be suppressed. These fact-checkers, who are paid by Facebook, are putting efforts into fact-checking satire and editorial cartoons. In other words — opinion.
Lone Conservative, a conservative media outlet designed for college students and recent graduates, was fact-checked by Lead Stories, an organization run by 8 CNN alumni. The Facebook page had posted a cartoon of bailout money being rolled into the Kennedy Center as money was being rolled out to the DNC. This was referencing the $25 million received from the coronavirus bailout that was given to the Kennedy Center.
The cartoon did not accuse the Kennedy Center of giving bailout money to the DNC. It was meant satirically. It was not a news story. It was a simple editorial cartoon.
An interstitial, or filter, was placed over the post with the label saying, “False Information[:] Checked by independent fact-checkers.” A “See Why” button led readers to a piece from Lead Stories, which initially had simply fact-checked an erroneous tweet where the Twitter user was unclear in posting about a hypothetical. Lone Conservative was not even mentioned in the fact-check.
Note to Weaver: the cartoon unequivocally shows the money being funneled through the Kennedy Center to the DNC, so it's hard to deny that it "did not accuse" any such thing.Given that such accusations are a staple of conservative politics -- Weaver seems to have missed that two days earlier, her boss Tim Graham accused Democrats of adding $75 million to the coronavirus stimulus package as a way of "supporting their own media assets" and "keeping their propaganda organs in fighting shape" -- pretending it "was meant satirically" doesn't pass the smell test. All she's doing here is indulging in the usual conservative-as-victim narrative.
The last time we checked in on WorldNetDaily's Joe Kovacs, he was abusing his status as a self-proclaimed journalist to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to engage in Christian evangelization, despite denying that he was not issuing "a message about religion." A few days before he did that, though, he was downplaying the effects of the pandemic with the help of Rush Limbaugh. He wrote in an April 1 article:
With millions of Americans concerned about coronavirus, radio host Rush Limbaugh is providing some perspective on the actual number of fatalities from COVID-19 compared to those from other causes.
On his Wednesday broadcast, Limbaugh cited a list from worldometers.info that rounded up the worldwide deaths from Jan. 1 through March 25 of 2020:
"Coronavirus: 21,000 deaths.
Seasonal flu: 113,000.
Traffic fatalities, 313, almost 314,000 deaths.
HIV/AIDS, 391,000 deaths.
Alcohol related deaths, 581,000.
Smoking-related deaths, 1,162,000.
Cancer deaths, 1,909,000 deaths.
Deaths attributed to starvation, 2,382,000 deaths.
And death by abortion, 9,900,000."
"I'm not trying to make any correlation," Limbaugh explained.
"I'm not trying to say, 'Hey, we're overreacting to coronavirus death.' I'm just giving you the stats here. You can react to these stats however you wish."
Kovacs knows Limbaugh is lying when he says he's "not trying to make any correlation" -- after all, there's no other reason to promote these statistics other than correlate them and portray coronavirus as a minor threat, and it's nor surprising from a man who insisted that coronavirus was no more serious than the common cold. Kovacs, of course, is complicit in spreading that lie (just as WND did with Limbaugh's original minimalization claim).
Of course, the number of deaths from coronavirus has grown exponentially since then, to more than 200,000. What are the chances that Limbaugh (and, thus, Kovacs) tries to update these numbers now?
MRC Pretends It's Not The One Being PC By Pushing 'Chinese Virus' Labeling Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center did its partisan pro-Trump duty by echoing the president's messaging of calling coronavirus the "Chinese virus." Even Trump has stopped using that terminology, the MRC is still defending it. Alexander Hall complained in an April 10 post:
Is there an American Big Tech company that isn’t sympathetic to the communist regime in China?
“Grammar app Grammarly has started flagging the phrase ‘Chinese virus’ in references[sic] to the virus and the resulting disease, COVID-19,” Reclaim The Net reported on April 7. The virus that has brought entire countries to an economic standstill has erupted in cultural controversy as well. Both the politically correct nags of liberal America and the Chinese regime discourage calling it the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus.
“In a statement to Reclaim The Net, the company said that the new Grammarly Premium suggestions has [sic] recently been released and that it deals with providing feedback ‘relating to formality, confidence, and sensitive language,’” reported Reclaim The Net. “Grammarly has chosen to go with the WHO terminology and flag any mention of ‘Chinese or Wuhan’ virus.”
Grammarly’s move is remarkably similar to Microsoft Word’s use of AI to spread political correctness to your desktop. The artificial intelligence program “Ideas in Word” will use aim to “improve” users’ writing, by suggesting more tolerant liberal phrases.
Hall accusing critics of the "Chinese virus" terminology of being "politically correct" is next-level gaslighting -- it's supporters of that phrase like Trump and the MRC who are positioning it to be the only correct term, and they're doing it for political reasons. Further, one can safely say that Grammarly presumably knows a lot more about grammar and the English language in general than anyone at the MRC and are much less likely to have political motivations behind word usage.
Meanwhile, the MRC is still defending Trump's use of "Chinese virus" from accusations of racist motivations. Back in March, Kyle Drennen uncritically swallowed Trump's claim that his use of the phrase "was designed to hold China’s authoritarian regime accountable for not being honest about the initial spread of coronavirus"; that became a talking point for Drennen the very next day.
Drennen returned to that narrative in an April 24 post to attack new accusations that Trump's use of "Chinese virus" has inspired hate crimes against Asian Americans. "Trump also made it clear on multiple occasions that his use of the phrase “Chinese virus” was designed to hold the authoritarian communist government of China accountable for mishandling the disease and lying about it – which helped cause the global health crisis," he huffed.
Of course, given the sheer number of falsehoods Trump has spread over the years, there's no reason to take anything that comes out of his mouth at face value. Drennen will never tell you that, however.
CNS Parrots Trump, MRC In Touting Hydroxychloroquine Topic: CNSNews.com
Because President Trump promoted hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus, and because the Media Research Center dutifully promoted it as well, that means the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, also had to fall in line.
Stenographer Melanie Arter brought her usual Trump-press-release tone to her March 19 article:
President Donald Trump announced “exciting progress” Thursday in finding therapy drugs to fight the coronavirus.
Not only has a drug that’s used to fight malaria and treat arthritis shown promise in fighting COVID-19, but the administration is looking at drugs used overseas to treat the virus.
The president pointed to chloriquine, a drug that has been shown to be effective in treating arthritis and malaria, as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
Although NBC harshly claimed that President Trump was peddling "false hope," and CNN called it "unsubstantiated hope," for expressing optimism about a maliaral drug to combat the coronavirus, when New York's Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the same thing -- and even cited the president -- neither NBC nor CNN criticized the very liberal governor.
This is another instance of the liberal media's double standard when it comes to covering President Trump versus any liberal Democrat. If Trump says it, then it's bad or stupid. But when Cuomo says it, then it's good and intelligent.
On Sunday, Gov. Cuomo announced that trials of the drugs chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and Zithromax would start on Tuesday, March 24.
During that announcement, Cuomo said, "The president is optimistic about these drugs and we are all optimistic that it could work,” reported Forbes magazine.
So far, neither CNN nor NBC have slammed Cuomo for peddling "false hope" or "unsubstantiated hope in dark times."
Chapman didn't mention his organization's own hypocritical double standard of reporting on Trump that's so uncritical it won't tell readers wehn he's lying, while its coverage of Trump's Democratic presidential opponents has been relentlessly negative. As managing editor, Chapman presumably has some say-so over that.
CNS articles went on to tout hydroxychloroquine further:
But Dr. Oz -- not unlike another sudden CNS favorite, Dr. Drew, regarding statements that dismissed the severity of coronavirus -- has since walked back his support for hydroxychloroquine after one trial showed it wasn't effective. CNS has yet to tell its readers about that, however.