MRC's Alternate-Universe Explanation Of Axl Rose-Mnuchin Twitter Fight Topic: Media Research Center
In most of the world, the brief Twitter feud between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and rock star Axl Rose was pretty clear cut: Mnuchin took Rose's bait then screwed up by tweeting the Liberian flag in response instead of the American flag. But the Media Research Center lives in an alternate universe in which President Trump and his administration is always right and all critics are always wrong, so we get this bizarro-world interpretation from Gabriel Hays where Mnuchin is an adult and Rose is the idiot:
The Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famer appeared to be spoiling for a fight on social media, bashing Mnuchin seemingly from out of nowhere. Rose tweeted, “It’s official! Whatever anyone may have previously thought of Steve Mnuchin he’s officially an asshole.”
We’re not sure whether Axl Rose expected a response, but he actually got one. Mnuchin fired back at the “Paradise City” singer asking, “What have you done for your country lately?”
The guy who organized Rose’s last gig must have demanded the singer show up earlier than two hours late. No wonder he’s in a foul mood.
After Mnuchin’s response, the angry red-head really let him have it, blaming the Trump administration for the pandemic death toll and blasting the Treasury Secretary for telling Americans they could travel during the pandemic.
Rose tweeted, “My bad I didn’t get we’re hoping 2 emulate Liberia’s economic model but on the real unlike this admin I’m not responsible for 70k+ deaths n’ unlike u I don’t hold a fed gov position of responsibility 2 the American people n’ go on TV tellin them 2 travel the US during a pandemic.” Yeah, real nice.
Hays was certainly not going to give Rose credit for zinging Mnuchin for using the wrong flag, insisting that Mnuchin "accidentally" inserted the Liberian flag, which he "quickly replaced with the real stars and stripes in an edited tweet," finally huffing: "Thank heavens for Rose’s eagle eye. Really proves his point."
Hays concluded by sneering, "Perhaps he should be thanking the Trump administration for giving him a tiny taste of relevance again. Stay angry, Axl Rose." He didn't mention that Mnuchin could have simply ignored Rose's tweet and not embarassed himself in responding to it.
A week later, Hays worked up more petulance toward Rose after the singer started selling T-shirts with the phrase that alludes to Trump's playing the Guns n' Roses cover of the Wings song "Live and Let Die" at a recent personal appearance:
One 80s rock group isn’t content with being a part of rock ‘n’ roll history and has been trying way too hard at gaining relevance by selling band merch with political attacks against President Trump.
Spurred on by its frontman’s hatred for the 45th president, legendary hard rock band Guns N’ Roses has started marketing band T-shirts which include hateful messages directed at Trump and his coronavirus response.
The band’s Twitter page revealed its new politically-charged GNR T-shirts on Wednesday, May 13. The message emblazoned on each black shirt was a reference to the band’s famous 1991 cover of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” but with a coronavirus twist. The words stated, “Live N’ Let Die with COVID 45,” making the point that the 45 president is the real virus.
A Trump slam? How rock and roll. Guess Axl and the boys really need that purple-hair, catlady #resist demographic to carry on their hard rock image.
Hays complained that Rose attacked Mnuchin "out of nowhere," then one final hit of petulance for the end of his post: "Well at least Rose and his band can now say they did something for the country by donating money earned on insulting, hateful merch. Gee, thanks!"
Given that all Hays could offer here is sneering, petulance and pro-Trump sycophancy, it appears Rose managed to win a Twitter fight with someone who wasn't even originally involved.
When dishonest journalists spread smears and lies, they should be exposed. But when honest journalists speak out against these things, they should be praised. Please use this action alert to thank Lara Logan for taking a stand against dishonest journalists who focus on advancing their agenda rather than educating the public.
It's not clear from this link what AIM is referring to, but it might be a recent rant at the New York Times criticizing the Trump administration over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, where she said that "This is a moment for all of us reporters to stand up for journalism and stand up for our profession and just admit that on every single page of The New York Times, opinion is infused with facts."
The funny thing, of course, is that Logan is not the "honest journalist" AIM would have you believe she is. She effectively lost her job at CBS' "60 Minutes" for promoting the claims of an alleged witness to the Benghazi attack whose story turned out to be a lie and not disclosing that said bogus witness' book was published by a division of CBS -- a story which, by the way, AIM promoted at the time but has since scrubbed from its website (fortunately, the internet never forgets).
Since her re-emergence last year, Logan has shown herself to be dishonest in another way, by pretending she's not a conservative. After declaring that "I'm not going to pretend to be conservative so I can be the darling of the conservative media," she did exactly that, first joining the conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group and then, earlier this year, starting a Fox News show laughably titled "Lara Logan Has No Agenda" despite the fact that Fox Nation is known for nothing but having a decidedly conservative agenda (that and the sexual harassment), and that Logan had a very specific agenda in attacking the New York Times.
So we're going to pass on signing this little petition.
What About The 'Real Unemployment Rate' Under Trump, CNS? Topic: CNSNews.com
One of the starkest contrasts that illustrate the right-wing bias of CNSNews.com, as we've detailed, is its treatment of the unemployment rate while Barack Obama was president, compared with how it's treated under President Trump. One of the statistics it embraced under Obama was the U-6 unemployment rate, a different measure than the U-3 unemployment -- the most widely reported number -- because it includes people who are technically not unemployed but are "marginally attached workers" as well as part-time employees who are looking for full-time work. CNS proclaimed this to be the "real unemployment rate," and since it's almost always higher than the official U-3 rate, it touted the number to attack Obama and talk down the post-recession recovery.
Managing editor Michael W. Chapmandevotedfourarticles in 2016 -- the last year of Obama's presidency -- to the "real unemployment rate" and it was mentioned numerous other times during the Obama years. We found no reference to it in CNS' archives before 2010, and neither Chapman nor anyone else at CNS has brought up this number since Trump became president.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U-6 unemployment rate, -- which has generally hovered around 7% over the past year even as the U-3 rate was around 3.5% -- spiked to 22.8 percent in April. Despite CNS spending years proclaiming that this was the "real unemployment rate," this alarmingly high number got no coverage even though much lower numbers under Obama got their own articles.
Instead, CNS serves up attempts to forward Trump's agenda even in the face of those atrocious numbers. A May 15 article by Susan Jones complained that "Foreign-born people in the United States had a lower unemployment rate in 2019 (3.1 percent, down from 3.5 percent in 2018) than native-born Americans (3.8 percent, down from 4.0 percent in 2018)," an apparent attempt to perpetuate the Trump-embraced idea that foreigners are stealing jobs from Americans.
CNS should explain to readers why the "real unemployment rate" stopped being a metric it reported on after Obama left office, and why it won't report on the number now that's even higher than it ever was under Obama.
Another White Nationalist Supporter Once Worked For The MRC Topic: Media Research Center
Last year, we wrote about how the Media Research Center had employed Tim Dionisopoulos -- a white nationalist activist involved with groups such as Youth for Western Civilization -- in the mid-2010s, which came on top of NewsBusters blogger Tom Blumer being unceremoniously dismissed after his posts were found to contain links to white nationalist websites (the MRC still hasn't explained how those links made it past editing if the organization is so opposed to white nationalism). Well, it turns out another former MRC writer has exposed her true white nationalist colors.
Right Wing Watch documented how Ashley Rae Goldenberg -- known in right-wing circles for her "Communism Kills" Twitter handle, where she has changed her last name to Groypenberg (a "groyper" is a supporter of white nationalist Nick Fuentes) and changed her avatar to a groyper toad -- has been praising the alt-right and white nationalist movements since at least late 2019 and running in those circles well before that. Most recently, she has been cheering the death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man shot to death by two white men who alleged he was a burglar. RWW notes that a former Daily Caller editor who worked with Goldenberg at the time in 2015, wrote Goldenberg a letter of recommendation for her first full-time job at the MRC, which he now says is one of his "biggest regrets."
RWW added: "Curtis Houck, managing editor of Media Research Center’s NewsBusters blog and someone who Goldenberg described on Facebook as a former co-worker, 'liked' and shared Twitter posts critical of Goldenberg in December. However, neither Houck or MRC responded to our requests for interviews, via Twitter and online contact form, respectively."
Indeed, based on archive records, Goldenberg worked for the MRC, as a NewsBusters writer between March and August 2018 and as a writer for MRCTV between roughly June 2015 and January 2018. Strangely, her author archive at both NewsBusters and MRCTV has been decactivated; clicking on her byline returns an "access denied" error. But one can still search for her work by typing her name into text search. RWW notes that Goldenberg attended a conference hosted by the white nationalist National Policy Institute in 2016, which overlapped with her MRC employment.
No wonder Houck and the MRC don't want to talk about Goldenberg -- just as they have refused to talk about their employment of Blumer and Dionisopoulos.
We've caught Goldenberg doing MRC-like things, like lashing out at original Facebook programming for purportedly being too liberal, laughably insisting there's no difference between CNN and Infowars, defending a man who developed a 3D-printable gun and, of course, hatinggays.
The MRC has had enough white nationalists work for them that maybe it's time for Brent Bozell and Co. to explain why.
CNS' West Embraces Dubious Stats And Misinformation Topic: CNSNews.com
Media Research Center "senior fellow" and CNSNews.com column Allen West was in a motorcycle accident over the weekend, but that doesn't mean we can't hold him accountable for his recent dubious words.
West added to his dubious takes on the coronavirus pandemic with a May 4 column with this bit of fact-spinning:
Consider the facts in this matter. We firmly know, and have the empirical data showing that COVID-19 has a 99.6% recovery rate. We know that COVID-19 is most dangerous for those with underlying medical conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, COPD, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Those Americans over the age of 65 have been the hardest hit by COVID-19. Sadly, we have lost over 60,000 Americans, but it was just 2017-2018 when the common influenza season resulted in the loss of 61,000 Americans.
And we took no draconian measures then, nor was there an induced fear, panic, paranoia, and hysteria.
We were told that COVID-19 was different, but for the most part, it is not. It is still a virus that attacks the respiratory system. And America did not respond this way with MARS, SARS, Avian (Bird) flu, or the H1N1 (Swine) flu which affected 60 million Americans. As well, in the case of COVID-19, we clearly know that many deaths of Americans are being classified as caused by COVID-19, when there were preexisting severe health issues. COVID-19 is more of an enabler than a cause. People may be dying with COVID-19, but not because of it.
West is throwing out a lot of numbers and conspiracy theories here. His claim that COVID-19 has a "99.6% recovery rate" is false; it has a death rate of 1.4 percent. He likens coronavirus to the flu, which it is not -- it's much more dangerous because we know so little about it and there is no vaccine for it, and West's death numbers misleadingly compare coronavirus deaths from a three-month period to deaths over a a six-month-long flu season.
West is also trying to make the right-wing case that the death count for coronavirus is inflated because some victims had other comorbidities, purportedly making coronavirus "more of an enabler than a cause." Still, even in those cases, even West can't deny that coronavirus hastened their deaths, thus making them coronavirus victims. In fact, it can be argued that the opposite is true -- that coronavirus deaths is much higher than official statistics show.
West went on to rant about government "tyranny" as officials trying to slow the spread of the virus. "We have seen parents being arrested for playing with their children in parks," he wrote -- an apparent reference to a anti-vaxxer activist who was actually leading an organized protest.
He also wrote: "It is wrong to assume I am putting economic numbers above lives. Every one of those people who have lost their job, small business owners who have lost their livelihoods, are lives as well. And they are lives just as important, and sadly, some are taking their lives. In Montgomery County, Texas, there have been more suicides than deaths related to COVID-19." In fact, the suicide rate in that county -- a suburb of Houston -- was on the upswing well before coronavirus arrived.
In his May 11 column, West served up his usual anti-liberal screed:
I want America to recognize the abject deranged and devious intent of the progressive socialist left in America, the Democrat Party, to leverage a virus to their own electoral advantage. The Democrat (Socialist) Party wants the continued fear, panic, paranoia, and hysteria that their media accomplices have created. They do not want the American people to get back to work, to be released from the illegal martial law and house arrest that has subjugated our constitutional rights.
The left wants a COVID-19 boogeyman, just like the child who fears the monster in the closet at night and cannot get to sleep. COVID-19 has a 99.6 percent recovery rate, and just like there is no boogeyman in the closet, instead of our losing our rights, the left wants to restructure them for their electoral gain.
The new rally cry of the left is “mail-in ballots.”
And it's clear West has decreed mail-in voting to be his new bogeyman. he ranted further:
Just last week, in Pelosi’s California, her nephew, Governor Gavin Newsom, decreed that all ballots in California will be mail-in. Yes, just like that -- another unconstitutional edict, mandate, order from a leftist governor. And guess what: California is where Eric Holder has set up his base of operations. Coincidence? California also provides drivers licenses to illegals and allows them to vote in local elections.
It was also in California where a new leftist initiative – ballot harvesting -- was unleashed in the last national election, in 2018. That worked so very well for the left in California that Republicans who were heralded as the victor in their elections found themselves losing several days later.
You know, those ballots just kept flowing in from who knows where, and they were all for Democrats. This was prevalent in the Southern California area of Orange County, a Republican stronghold. You can rest assured that anything the left wants to implement nationally will first be tested in the progressive socialist laboratory called California.
No, Newsom did not "decree that all ballots in California will be mail-in"; all residents will have the abililty to vote by mail if they choose, but physical voting locations will still be open.And "vote harvesting" -- actually, just a change in procedure that allows anyone, not just a relative, to pick up and return someone's absentee ballot -- is legal in California, and Republicans who got caught flat-footed in 2018 plan to fully exploit ballot harvesting in this year's elections.
But West doesn't care about facts. He does, however, care about ranting a lot:
Yep, if you fear the COVID-19 boogeyman in the closet, and fear going out to vote, you can get a mail-in ballot. I told you it was absurd. The proliferation of COVID-19 fear, panic, paranoia, and hysteria is exactly what the left wants. And that is why this whole illegal martial law, shutdown, lockdown insanity must end.
The left needs a boogeyman. COVID-19 fits the bill, and they are going to milk this to restructure things to fit their vision. The Democrats sadly, seem to not want our economy to reopen, for Americans to get back to work. And we now know, they want to use COVID-19 to change our electoral system – for good.
The best solution? Just make our national election day a national holiday, yes, the first Tuesday in November each even year. Unless you are truly disabled, which Texas state law defines, or out of the country, you can get to a voting site.
We can ill afford the COVID-19 boogeyman in the closet to instill a fear that results in the loss of our Constitutional Republic. But that is what the left seeks.
It seems West believes that making it easier for Americans to vote is a terrible thing.
After 23 Years, WND Is Still Pretending It Doesn't Push Misinformation Topic: WorldNetDaily
With Joseph Farah apparently still out of commission -- his only recent contribution in the past few months was a May 13 column bizarrely declaring against all evidence to the contrary that President Trump "may be the most polite and patient president America has ever had" -- it's been up to managing editor David Kupelian to promote the interests of WorldNetDaily. So it was his job to write a column on the anniversary of WND's founding on May 4. Kupelian lacks the panache and utter shamelessness of Farah, but he can whine just as well. Take this passge on alleged social media censorship:
Last week, YouTube banned the viral video of two California ER doctors after more than 5 million people had viewed it over the course of just a few days. You see, the two physicians dissented from the “approved” view of how to manage the coronavirus pandemic – the one favored by the guardians of the internet.
Censorship of dissent has become the “new normal.” In the last couple weeks, several WND stories have been singled out and labeled “Partly False Information” by Facebook, which seriously hurts our readership. When we asked Facebook’s “independent fact checkers” why one story had been labeled “Partly False Information” even though it was 100% accurately reported, they told us the viewpoint of the expert being interviewed – a New York-based Ph.D. epidemiologist who argued herd immunity would be reached faster by not locking down the whole country – was “harmful misinformation.”
This is tyranny.
Hey Facebook: What about virtually the entire output of the “mainstream media” for the past four years, from the Washington Post and News York Times to all the broadcast and cable networks (except Fox News), with their never-ending conspiracy theories contending that Donald Trump “colluded” with Vladimir Putin to steal the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton? Those stories weren’t “partly false,” they were totally false. But did they merit any attention from Facebook’s fact checkers? We all know the answer.
Kupelian seems not to understand there's one easy way to not get flagged by social media for publishing misinformation: don't publish misinformation.
As we documented, WND touted the views of the "two California ER doctors" without telling readers that actual experts found their research to be flawed and their video discredited. In the other instance, Kupelian is apparently referring to an April 7 article touting the views of one Knut Wittkowski, which was a another one-sided story that ignored the fact that experts say given how deadly coronavirus is and the overall lack of knowledge about the virus, counting herd immunity would be uncertain at best and dangerous at worst. In an apparent attempt to get the misinformation tag off the article, WND appended an "update" a week later adding the expert view.
From there, Kupelian moved on to the usual whining about alleged slights against WND, ranting that both Wikipedia and the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out its fringe-right leanings and appetite for conspiracy theories. He responded, "Translation: WND is pro-American, pro-Christian and pro-Constitution."
No, David; nobody sane is making that translation.
Kupelian is still mad at the Washington Post's allegedly "vicious, lengthy smear article on WND's 'downfall' – published immediately after the Post's reporter learned from Elizabeth Farah that her husband and WND CEO Joseph Farah had just suffered a devastating stroke." His phrasing here is telling his that WND used Farah's stroke as a excuse to suppress the Post article -- which is a violation of journalistic ethics -- and Kupelian is still using it as an excuse not to respond to the article's claims, which includes a litany of bad business decisions (i.e. bitcoin giveaways) and financial mismanagement -- never mind that he and Farah's wife, Elizabeth, are the top two company officials behind Farah and surely have some knowledge of said financial shenanigans. To this day, WND has never refuted any claim in the Post article -- which means we have no option other than to assume it's true.
Kupelian went on to bash more critics but, as before, he refuted none of their claims. He then tried for some Farah-esque rah-rah:
But guess what, friends. On our 23rd anniversary I have bad news for Big Tech and the rest of the leftwing forces that are so breathlessly intent on "fundamentally transforming" America and silencing pro-American, Judeo-Christian news alternatives like WND.
Even though our advertising-revenue model has mostly been destroyed by Google and Facebook who together control 90% of online ad revenue; even though we are banned, censored, maligned, shadow-banned, suppressed and buried in search results; even though we are battered by lawsuits, threats, hack attacks and every other kind of attack imaginable – we’re still here! And in fact, we’re getting stronger!
Along with reporting boldly, honestly and accurately, and exposing the ubiquitous "fake news" of an establishment press afflicted with Stage 4 Trump Derangement Syndrome, we at WorldNetDaily are doing our job as "real news" journalists.
"Real news"? WND has not been associated with that, if it ever has been, and all of Kupelian's insistence that's what it does (itdoesn't, even as it's fighting for its life, the details of which Kupelian is conveniently vague about) doesn't change the fact that WND is best known for spending eight years perpetuating the lie that President Obama isn't a real U.S. citizen.
Apologize for all the lies WND has spread, David, and maybe WND will be considered a purveyor of "real news."
MRC Handwaves Anti-Lockdown Nazi Symbolism With Lots of Whataboutism Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center is totally cool with smearing abortion providers and women who have abortions as Nazis. But far-right protesters who were actually waving Nazi symbols? Not so fast -- not when there's a Democratic governor to attack.
In a May 4 post, Tim Graham took issue with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer accurately pointing out in an appearance that "there were swastikas and Confederate flags and nooses and people with assault rifles" at anti-lockdown protests in her state:
That's an awfully vague smear. Some people with swastika signs were mocking Whitmer as a Nazi (one with the words "HEIL WHITMER.") Even liberal fact-checkers noted an alleged swastika sign in Michigan...was actually a picture from Idaho.
The protester footage CNN aired didn't have any nooses, swastikas, or Confederate flags. The local news story showed American flags, alongside some Trump flags and Don't Tread On Me flags:
Not only did Graham also take the whataboutism route by ranting about CNN hosts who weren't even involved in this segment failing to hate antifa the way Graham apparently still does, he complained that one observer of the Michigan protests "spread the falsehood that Trump called neo-Nazis 'very fine people,'" citing a claim by "former CNN pundit Steve Cortes" about "what Trump actually said." But as we've previously documented, Cortes got it wrong.
Kristine Marsh tried to pile on Whitmer in a May 13 post, grumbling that an appearance by Whitmer on "The View" was "just another opportunity for Whitmer to bash critics of her harsh lockdown rules as violent racists" and insisting Whitmer was the one pushing "hateful rhetoric." Marsh failed to highlightthe Nazi and Confederate symbolism at anti-lockdown protests in the state.
Scott Whitlock's goal in a May 15 post was to minimize the extremists of the Michigan protesters and insist they weren't representative of the crowd. He first huffed:
When there is a liberal protest with signs comparing Republicans to Hitler and calling for violence, journalists tend to carefully avoid those images on network TV. But a few bigots and nuts who attend anti-lockdown protests must be representative of the group at large. That was the message on Friday’s CBS This Morning.
This time, a fight broke out between demonstrators over a doll with a noose around its neck.” She added that the organizers “quickly distanced themselves from the incident.” But CBS clearly won’t let them do that.
He too complained about Whitmer and tried to make things about her and not the extreme protesters:
Many of these rallies are stridently anti-Whitmer. So perhaps that has something to do with the governor's dismissal of “political rallies” as “not an exercise of democratic principles”? [Reporter Jerika] Duncan didn’t ask. A network graphic warned, "Anti-Lockdown Protests Concerns: Signs of Hate Spotted at Rallies Nationwide.”
Instead, she focused on isolated incidents of Nazi imagery and a noose on a doll. Obviously, these examples are disgusting and should be condemned by everyone. However liberal and Democratic protesters aren’t forced to condemn their nuts and extremists.
And he played whataboutism as well: "They also compared Bush to Hitler."
Marsh returned to complain about another episode of "The View," where "Joy Behar in particular was upset because angry protesters harassed a local news reporter there, so she compared them to the 'white supremacists and neonazis' in Charlottesville, whose protest ended in violence." She went onto huff whataboutism: "So The View is upset by a few protesters yelling “fake news” and obscenities at a reporter. But where was their outrage when a reporter was actually physically attacked by Antifa last year? In 2017 the show defended the violent left-wing group." That's a reference to right-wing provocateur (not a "reporter") Andy Ngo, who appears to have been collaborating with the right-wing protesters that were clashing with Antifa, making him a little less innocent that Marsh would have you believe.
CNS Shoots Down Its Own Bad Take On Churches And Coronavirus Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com's politicization of the coronavirus pandemic by embracing the bad take that restricting in-person worship services is a violation of religious freedom rather than the public health measure it actually is has been needlessly continuing:
An April 15 op-ed by Katherine Beck Johnson complained that "some local authorities have gone too far in restricting religious gatherings," declarining that "The ability to gather and practice our faith is a fundamental right" and only obliquely acknowledging that there's a public health interest.
Managing editor Michael W. Chapman parroted President Trump's unfounded speculation (in retweeting highly biased right-wing writer Paul Sperry, whom Chapman describes has merely a "reporter") that restrictions on Muslim religious gatherings during Ramadan would be different than those on Christians during the Easter (never mind that the Easter season occurred in a very dangerous part of the pandemic).
Chapman also promoted a call by the right-wing activist group Liberty Counsel (which he benignly described as a "public interest law firm and Christian ministry) for churches across the nation to reopen on May 3, 'ReOpen Church Sunday,' and to do so in accordance with CDC guidelines about social distancing and hygiene."Chapman huffed in another article: "A police officer in northern Italy interrupted a Catholic Mass on April 19 and tried to stop the ceremony, but the priest rebuffed his efforts and a subsequent phone call from the mayor. In the end, the officer fined the priest $735.00 (680 euros) and a reported 19 parishioners $300.00 (280 euros) each, for apparently violating COVID-19 quarantine rules."
And Chapman used a May 1 article to highlight how "Cardinal Blase Cupich, head of the Archdiocese of Chicago, declined to meet with a group of faithful Catholics who wanted to discuss with him how their churches could be reopened for Mass while still following social distancing rules.
A May 1 column by Rev. Michael Orsi groused that "officials have aggregated to themselves more and more power" and seemed to cheer that "resistance to these containment measures has grown, and for reasons that are perfectly understandable," adding "Done in the name of public health, and perhaps justified by the threat of contagion, this has nonetheless demonstrated how government power can be set in opposition to faith. One can only fear that this experience may have whetted the appetite of certain political figures for even more assertive anti-church efforts." Orsi added: "For the past few weeks, government has kept society pretty thoroughly locked down. Now, we have to think about locking down government power."
CNS positively gushed over Trump's declaration that churches are "essential" and that he would "override" governors who purportedly try to keep them closed, devoting twoarticles to it, plus another one on press secretary Kaleigh McEnany snarky, unfounded statement that reporters want churches to stay closed.
The originator of this bad take, CNS editor Terry Jeffrey, brought his own addition with a May 6 column complaining that churches would stay closed in Virginia, where CNS parent the Media Research Center is headquartered, while liquor stores could open: "In [Gov.] Ralph Northam's Virginia, 20 people can enter a store that sells beer and wine and rudely brush past one another in the narrow aisles. But if 16 people were to meet on Easter in a church that seats 225, they would be criminals."
In the midst of all this politically motivated ranting, CNS actually did something it's not known for: offer an alternative viewpoint.It did so in a very understated way, of course, in a pair of columns by Catholic priest theologian Marcel Guarnizo, who is the kind of right-wing Catholic CNS likes because he once denied the sacrament of communion to a lesbian at her mother's funeral.
In an April 20 column, Guarnizo highlighted that "irrational agitating of the faithful seems morally suspect, adding: "This temporary suspension of attendance at the Holy Mass is not an attempt to subvert our religious freedom. This temporary shutdown has little to do with Catholicism per se. The right that is being limited is not religious freedom, but the right of association." Guarnizo pointed out that "COVID-19 is perhaps more contagious and would be many times theoretically more lethal [than the flu] if allowed to run rampant through the population" and that "Slowing down a new virus also makes sense in order not to exhaust medical resources, human and material, so that our best care for the sick may be insured. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the current measures, such large claims of persecution are unwarranted and alarmist."
Surprisingly, CNS also published an April 27 column by Guarnizo doubling down on that viewpoint, citing conflicts over the issue in New Mexico:
Not having mass associations within a confined space does not mean, as Rusty [Reno, editor of right-wing religious journal First Things] suggests, that the government suspended public worship in New Mexico. There are no government officials intimidating anyone not to worship. Bishop [Peter] Baldacchino, who carried on outdoors with public Easter celebrations, states that someone called the police and they came, and they said, “Father, this is all fine, we cannot see any problems.”
There are so-called culture wars with the state, regarding abortion and other matters, and those are very real. But these “faux” claims of oppression over a temporary limitation of association in New Mexico, are imaginary. Bishop Baldacchino is freely making prudential decisions, unimpeded by the state, and that is his call. I submit we have enough dislocation in the Church and in society at large to be inventing hills on which to die upon.
It is therefore not our right to religious freedom that is being limited, but the right of association. This is also true for others, who are limited in their right to association for secular purposes. Nothing here is aimed in particular towards the faith or the exercise of religious freedom.
To imagine that the governor during this pandemic was putting on her theological-metaphysical hat, to tell us what is the meaning of life and what matters in that pursuit, is beyond absurd. To imagine that what embassies, governments, corporations, and others have in mind when they use the designation "essential" and "non-essential personnel" is a theological-philosophical classification of what matters, is unbelievably flawed reasoning.
Needless to say, CNS has not referred to Guarnizo's analysis in any of its articles pushing the religious-freedom canard, and Jeffrey made no mention of it in his May 6 column. It seems CNS feels merely publishing his analysis and quickly moving on was enough -- wven though it completely undermines its entire agenda on this subject.
Reminder: MRC Is Happy To See Non-Conservative Media Die Topic: Media Research Center
If there was any question that the Media Research Center has a goal of silencing non-conservative media and not merely doing "research" on them, Joseph Vazquez makes it clear in an April 30 post in which he huffily rants against the idea that the federal government could help media outlets hurt by the coronavirus pandemic by buying ads:
The Los Angeles Times touted a new media lobbying effort to expand federal ad spending by billions of dollars for local media companies.
In a story headlined, “Rocked by coronavirus losses, TV, radio, newspapers seek government ad dollars,” The Times pushed the case for expanded government-funding of media outlets. “Every year the federal government spends around $1 billion in advertising to promote its programs and military recruitment,” The Times said.
The outlet also pulled on the heart strings of its readers. It stated how media companies were “financially devastated by the coronavirus outbreak, “even as the hunger for news and information on the pandemic is driving up viewing and readership.”
And then came the kicker: Representatives from media companies involved in a new lobbying effort want Congress to expand “federal advertising spending to between $5 billion and $10 billion for the rest of the year.” That’s at least between a 400 percent to 900 percent spending increase. The Times even admitted that large media conglomerates like Comcast (owner of NBC News) “own television stations that would likely see some benefit from the increased spending.”
The federal government was already planning to spend “as much as $2 billion” in tax dollars on ad spending, according toThe Times, but apparently that wasn’t enough.
Vazquez suddenly became concerned about the alleged "conflict of interest" in media outlets taking money from the government, even though those outlets would actually be providing a service for that money:
Instead of raising questions about what such a thing could mean for journalistic ethics, The Times instead went on to cover for the idea: “The proposal is designed to minimize the perception of the funds being a handout to media companies, as the government will be getting commercials and ads in return.”
The Times didn’t address the potential conflict of interest this sort of push entails.
But The Times wasn’t the only liberal outlet that pushed the idea for the federal government to expand funding to media outlets.
On April 20, CNN.com published a piece with this headline: “The call for federal support of local news is getting louder.”
Liberal outlet Deadline complained the Senate’s recent $484 billion small business relief package didn’t “specifically provide relief to a larger number of local media outlets.”
None of these outlets addressed the potential conflict of interest issues prevalent here in their stories.
If the liberal state-funded media operations NPR and PBS are any indication of the effects of government financial involvement in the news industry, then no thanks.
If Vazquez is really concerned about conflicts of interest at media outlets, he can start a little closer to home -- specifically, down the hall at MRC headquarters. Ther MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, is not only not an independent news organization -- it's simply another outlet for its parent's right-wing, anti-media agenda -- it has conflicts of interest as well, the most blatant one being its dozens of articles promoting Mark Levin, so many that it seems there is a cross-promotion agreement going on.
Further, Vazquez sticking "HECK NO" in the headline tells us what his (and the MRC's real agenda is: to kill non-conservative media outlets. He and the MRC probably couldn't be happier that the internet and the pandemic have struck a double blow to the viability of legacy media operations, and they oppose anything that might extend their life.
That's not "media research" -- it's hatred, pure and simple.
WND Columnist Barry Farber Dies Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily columnist and radio host Barry Farber died earlier this month. WND managing editor David Kupelian gave him quite a sendoff:
On a personal note: Barry Farber was a friend, colleague and hero. He was a longtime weekly columnist for WND. Moreover, having had the opportunity to be a guest on his show dozens of times over the years, I can honestly say Barry Farber was my favorite talk show host in the whole world to be interviewed by, and I told him so more than once. The best talk hosts have the mysterious ability to draw the very best out of their guests, and that was Barry. He was unfailingly warm, gracious, knowledgeable, fresh, and effusively but genuinely enthusiastic about and interested in his guests. I am also grateful to have had the chance to talk to Barry just a day before he died.
Farber fell into pro-Trump sycophancy in his later years, at one point likening him to Michelangelo. He also tarnished his reputation by embracing discredited anti-vaxxer activist Andrew Wakefield and the documentary film he made (which WND, of course, was totally cool with).
Even so, Farber wasn't one of the worst WND columnists, which tells you all you need to know about the history of WND columnists.
MRC's Graham Predictably Melts Down Over Pulitzer Prizes Again Topic: Media Research Center
One thing you can count on from the Media Research Center is regular meltdowns anytime a journalist it despises wins an award. With the awarding of this year's Pulitzer Prizes, Tim Graham comes through again. He ranted in a May 4 post (bolding in original):
They handed out the latest Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, and once again, the liberal tilt was all over the selections, and the ceremony itself.
While many awards had a liberal tinge, two were obviously awarded for resisting Trump. In the newly created Audio Reporting category, NPR'sThis American Lifewon for an episode called “The Out Crowd” — which "illuminated the personal impact" of the Trump Administration’s policy to make immigrants “Remain in Mexico” until they can be admitted.
In the Editorial Cartooning category, the winner was Barry Blitt of The New Yorker, “for work that skewers the personalities and policies emanating from the Trump White House with deceptively sweet watercolor style and seemingly gentle caricatures.”
Over the previous three years, four Pulitzer Prizes for reporting were handed out for exposing Donald Trump's apparently shady deeds, from alleged Russian collusion to tax evasion. In the previous eight years, there's not a single reporting prize handed out for exposing anything about Barack Obama or his team. Democracy was never in darkness back then.
Graham does not identify what about Obama needed to be "exposed" in such a way that would warrant a Pulitzer.
Graham was particularly incensed that "the widely criticized fake-history '1619 Project'" from the New York Times won an award, even after the Times felt pressed to publish an 'update,' a 'clarification' on its central idea that slavery was 'one primary reason the colonists fought the American Revolution.' It turned out their point was not true."
That change -- more accurately stating that preserving slavery was a motivation of "some" colonists and not "all" of them -- was actually relatively minor and, despite the insistence of Graham and his right-wing media cohorts, doesn't particularly undermine the fact that racism influenced the creation of the United States and the Constitution and played a role in perpetuating the racial inequity that still plagues America today. (Graham devoted a March column to whining about this as well.)
If Graham and his MRC was as scrupulous as the Times in correcting the record when it gets something wrong -- which it's not -- Graham might have a leg to stand on. Instead, he's in "do as I say, not as I do" mode again.
CNS Tries To Play Gotcha With A Golfing Obama Topic: CNSNews.com
Craig Bannister thought he had a gotcha in an April 30 CNSNews.com blog post:
Last Friday, Michelle Obama debuted two PSA videos urging African-Americans to stay safe from the coronavirus by staying home – and the very next day her husband Barack was spotted out on the links playing golf.
As the Chicago Sun-Times reported in its article titled “Michelle Obama urges African Americans to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” two PSAs by Mrs. Obama were released on Friday, April 24, telling African-Americans to stay home, even if they’re not exhibiting any symptoms of the virus, because they can still spread the disease to others.
Then, on Saturday, her husband, former President Barack Obama, was outside enjoying a round of golf in Virginia, Politico Playbook reportedon Sunday, April 26[.]
What Bannister didn't tell you: Golf courses in Virginia were open for play, and the state's stay-at-home order at the time permitted "outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements" (and golf is technically exercise). Even Tucker Carlson noted that Obama was engaging in social distancing while playing.
The photo accompanying Bannister's blog post is an Getty image lacking a date or description, which tells us it's a file photo and not of the golf outing in question. That's a mildly dishonest thing for Bannister to do.
Further, Bannister is almost certainly not going to tell you that President Trump played golf in January and February as the coronavirus was gaining hold in the U.S. That would seem a more relevant issue than playing a lame, politically motivated gotcha game with a former president whom CNS has always despised.
AIM Can't Figure Out Conservative Media Is Biased On Tara Reade Topic: Accuracy in Media
Spencer Irvine wrote in a May 5 Accuracy in Media post:
Data journalism site FiveThirtyEight discovered that the mainstream media covered Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden less than conservative media.
The website’s findings confirmed Accuracy in Media’s reporting that the mainstream media ignored Reade’s allegations longer than it should have.
Fox News “has devoted the most attention to Reade so far” and intensified its Reade-related coverage. It has mentioned Reade 371 times, compared to CNN’s 35 clips that mentioned Reade. FiveThirtyEight said that MSNBC “barely mentioned her” until last week. But FiveThirtyEight pointed out that conservative online outlets “accounted for most early coverage” of Reade’s allegations from websites such as The Blaze, Daily Caller, and Breitbart.
FiveThirtyEight’s media analysis on Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden confirmed that media bias played a significant role in dictating media coverage. The mainstream media was slow to respond to the allegations and ignored them longer than it should have, while the conservative media covered the story early and often.
Note how Irvine assumes that the conservative media's coverage of the Reade story is his default, cheering how they covered it "early and often" and criticizing the "mainstream media" for waiting "longer than it should have." But he's ignoring the fact that the conservative media have a motivation for covering Reade "early and often": it's biased.
Irvine seems not to have considered that the conservative media pushed the Reade story "early and often" because they believe the story will hurt Biden and help President Trump. If Irvine thinks the "mainstream media" held off "longer than it should have" because it's purported biased for Biden, then the opposite must be true.
There's simply no reason for Irvine to assume that the conservative media is the standard of political coverage when it actually is as biased as he likes to think the "mainstream media" is.
Yes, Tim Graham, NewsBusters Did Push The Climategate Hoax Topic: NewsBusters
The most thin-skinned right-winger when it comes to criticism of his operation (behind WorldNetDaily's JosephFarah, of course) is the Media Research Center's Tim Graham. He can't admit his own errors, and he's certainly not about to admit when the MRC operation for which he serves as executive editor, NewsBusters, screws up.
Graham spent an April 30 post complaining about "one of those dramatically one-sided climate fearmongering-documentaries" hosted by CNN's Bill Weir. He went on to complain:
Weir ripped conservatives as part of a "machinery of denial" funded by the oil companies. As he promoted climate activist/scientist Michael Mann, he presented the 2009 scandal known as "Climategate" as a "malevolent hoax" created by, among others, the late Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters and other conservative bloggers, like Ed Driscoll and Geoff Metcalf. There was zero rebuttal offered to Mann's "malevolent" spin.
When Weir pointed out that "Multiple investigations from the EPA to the UK's House of Commons cleared them and declared Climategate was a malevolent hoax," Graham went on a tirade (bolding in original):
Weir failed to explain that the House of Commons inquiry took only one day of oral testimony and said it was not an inquiry into the science issues. I can't find the words "malevolent hoax" in there, or in the EPA press release. But Weir could always show us where he got that loaded phrase.
If you were to read the actual NewsBusters blog by Noel Sheppard -- as the scandal was breaking -- it's a very straightforward summary of what the hacked e-mails said. This is one of the "cherry-picked" phrases from Mann: "I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."
"Mike's Nature trick" refers to a technique (a "trick of the trade") by Michael Mann to plot recent instrumental data along with reconstructed past temperature. This places recent global warming trends in the context of temperature changes over longer time scales.
There is nothing secret about "Mike's trick". Both the instrumental and reconstructed temperature are clearly labelled. Claiming this is some sort of secret "trick" or confusing it with "hide the decline" displays either ignorance or a willingness to mislead.
The common misconception that scientists tried to hide a decline in global temperatures is false. The decline in tree-ring growth is plainly discussed in the publicly available scientific literature. The divergence in tree-ring growth does not change the fact that we are currently observing many lines of evidence for global warming. The obsessive focus on a misquote taken out of context, doesn't change the scientific case that human-caused climate change is real.
So, yes, Climategate was a cherry-picked hoax pushed by right-wing activists -- the fact that it was malevolent would seem to be self-evident, even if Graham can't find the actual word in any of the debunkings he cites -- and Sheppard and NewsBusters indisputably pushed it.
We've documented Sheppard's lengthyhistory of climate change bamboozlement -- to the point where he pushed the bogus idea that back-to-back blizzards in Washington, D.C., somehow proved there was no global warming. Needless to say, the MRC has never corrected Sheppard's original "hide the decline" post where he deliberately misinterpreted the information, despite his similarly lengthy history of pushingfalsehoods in general. So maybe Graham shouldn't be so aggressively defending Sheppard's original work.
Then again, Graham is in full deflection mode. He won't concede that Sheppard and NewsBusters got it wrong, so he attacks studies that showed the hoax, then tried to misdirect by complaining that "these supposedly fact-based scientists worked to censor opposing viewpoints from the scientific literature."
Weir is not wrong, and Graham knows it. But Graham -- rather pettily and selfishly -- is not going to give Weir the satisfaction of admitting that.
You know the unemployment situation under President Trump is bad when CNSNews.com has to do pre-reporting to soften the blow. It did that before March's coronavirus-spiked numbers came out, and it did so before the even more spiked numbers for April.
An April 30 article by managing editor Michael W. Chapman featured a Fox Business report (of course) noting that there have been more than 30 million jobless claims filed since the pandemic shutdowns began and "unemployment is expected to hit between 18% and 20%, which is a 'Depression-like' number." Chapmanthen served up those Depression-era numbers: "During the Great Depression, the national unemployment rate peaked at 24.75% (of the labor force) in 1933. The U.S. population then was 92,950,000. The unemployment rate stayed in the high teens from 1935 to 1940."
When the actual numbers came out on May 8, Susan Jones reverted once again to looking at the labor force participation rate, while also trying to remind readers that Trump was doing great before the pandemic:
The nation's labor force participation rate reached a 47-year low of 60.2 percent in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the number of people not in the labor force jumped by 6,570,000 to a record 103,415,000.
The participation rate has now dropped 2.5 percentage points since March, and it is the lowest it has been since the 60.0 percent recorded in January 1973.
The number of employed Americans had broken 25 records under President Trump, something he has frequently repeated on the campaign trail.
At the same time, a record 23,078,000 Americans were unemployed in April -- 15,938,000 more than in March.
The unemployment rate of 14.7 percent didn't get mentioned by Jones until the eighth paragraph of her article.
In his designated sidebar, Craig Bannister had the grim duty of reporting that "The 18.9% national, seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for Hispanics and Latinos in April more than tripled from March’s 6.0% level, as the number employed plummeted by more than five million (5,093,000) and the number unemployed jumped by more than three million (3,492,000) from March’s levels." Editor Terry Jeffrey's designated sidebar complained that "As overall employment in the United States was dropping dramatically in April, the federal government added 1,000 jobs."
Chapman followed up on May 12 with a little pre-reporting for the next report, noting that "Kevin Hassett, the senior economic adviser to President Trump and former chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said that in the next report on jobless claims he expects the national unemployment rate to be 'close to 20%,'" and that it likely won't get back below 10 percent until late next year.
Not a lot of distortion this time -- it seems even CNS can't spin numbers this bad.