CNS Labeling Bias Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
A June 29 CNSNews.com article by Melanie Hunter featuring comments on the Supreme Court's decision on military tribunals for alleged "enemy combatants" labeled two groups that supported the court's decision against the tribunals, Amnesty International and the Council for American-Islamic Relations, as "a human rights group" and a "U.S. Islamic advocacy group," respectively.
But Hunter provided no descriptor for the Southeastern Legal Foundation -- a conservative legal group -- and described executive director Shannon Goessling, who opposed the ruling, as "a former criminal prosecutor." Hunter offered no similar credential-burnishing for the Amnesty International official she quoted (CAIR's statement was taken from a press release).
Spin, Bias, and the WND Way Topic: WorldNetDaily
David Kupelian's plea for e-mail list subscribers has now been posted on the WorldNetDaily website in all its silly "truth, justice and the American way" glory.
Of course, as we've already pointed out, Kupelian's claim that WND is "truth-oriented" is especially dubious.
The MIA List Topic: CNSNews.com
In discovering that Marc Morano had moved on to disseminating misinformation for Republicans than for CNSNews.com (but really, isn't that the same thing?), we noted another name missing from the CNS masthead: reporter Sherrie Gossett, who wrote her last CNS story in March. A Google search turned up nothing on her current whereabouts, though her blog is relatively up-to-date.
Comparing Hillary to N. Korean Dictator = Media Research Topic: NewsBusters
This is how Mark Finkelstein started out a June 29 NewsBusters post:
If she was watching 'Today' this morning, you can imagine Hillary Clinton using her best North-Korean-parliament rhythmical clapping in response to what she saw. It might be 'ronery' in her Georgetown or Chappaqua spreads, but it's always heart-warming to know you've got friends at the highest-rated morning show.
It's hard to understand how likening Hillary to Kim Jong Il serves the MRC's mission of "media research," but then again, the MRC thought Clinton sex jokes did too.
Destruction! Topic: WorldNetDaily
A June 28 WorldNetDaily article by Joe Kovacs repeated Bill O'Reilly's contention that claiming authorities in Palm Beach County, Fla., are "out to get Rush Limbaugh -- or, in the words of WND's headline, Limbaugh is being "targeted for destruction."
But Kovacs fails to note one thing that one of O'Reilly's guests did: The search of Limbaugh's belongings that turned up the bottle of Viagra that wasn't prescribed to him was done by U.S. Customs, not Palm Beach County authorities. Given that O'Reilly offered no evidence that the Customs search was anything but routine, that seems to undercut O'Reilly's (and Kovacs') argument.
Just Askin' Topic: NewsBusters
Why was it a bad thing, as the MRC's Tim Graham and Brent Baker appear to believe, for Al Franken to unilaterally declare Karl Rove and Scooter Libby guilty of treason and point out that the penalty for treason is death, while NewsBusters' "Mithridate Ombud" unilaterally declares the New York Times guilty of treason and points out that the penalty for treason is death to no apparent outcry from Graham or Baker?
Quote of the Day Topic: WorldNetDaily
"Not all expression or speech contributes to the political debate. That is why the First Amendment does not protect flag burning, just as it does not protect lap dances, sodomy, public nudity or child pornography."
-- Ben Shapiro, June 28 syndicated column, via WorldNetDaily
Check, Check and Check Topic: CNSNews.com
Let's run down the checklist to see what Ralph "Asians Are Destroying America" Hostetter gets wrong or doesn't factually support in his June 28 CNSNews.com column, shall we?
No evidence for his claim that the New York Times' "motive for these disclosures is the expressed seminal hatred the dominant media and, in particular, the New York Times has for President George W. Bush" -- check.
No evidence for his claim that by "giving aid and comfort to the enemy," the Times "has placed the American public at risk of terrorist attacks and the American soldier in combat at risk of his life" -- check.
Citing of an apparently bogus poll -- check. Hostetter writes: "The failed argument that the public needs to know is refuted in a Fox News poll on Friday, June 24, showing 88 percent of Americans are satisfied with President Bush's use of his intelligence sources to protect America." But the Fox News website's poll page lists no such poll; it is more than likely that the poll Hostetter is citing is, in fact, an unreliable opt-in online poll promoted on programs such as "Your World with Neil Cavuto." Those polls have the disclaimer "This is not a scientific poll," which Hostetter should have taken notice of.
Who Says Republicans Don't Act Out of Political Motives? Topic: NewsBusters
Does Mark Finkelstein really think there's no political motive in conservative and Bush administration attacks on the New York Times over its story on a secret financial surveillance program? Apparently so, based on his June 28 NewsBusters post.
Citing NBC's Tim Russert calling the attacks "an orchestrated campaign to try to frame this issue of national security versus the media," Finkelstein adds: "Alright, fair enough if Russert wants to suggest that politics might have played some part in the White House reaction." Finkelstein then took offense at Russert's suggestion that the administration was "going after the messenger":
But what was 'the message' here? That the Bush administration had implemented an important program to fight terrorism and protect American lives and property. A program that even the Times itself didn't claim to be illegal. There was no embarrassment factor here. To the contrary, but for the harm to the national security, the Bush administration would no doubt be pleased for Americans to know that it's working aggressively to protect them.
This is an example of the MSM being unable or unwilling to recognize that Republicans can act other than out of nefarious motives.
But, as we've noted, the MRC regularly assumes that Democrats act only out of political or personal motives. Why is it suddenly unfair to make that assumption about Republicans, especially when their attacks play into their longtime MSM-is-liberal talking point?
Those Darn Inconvenient Facts! Topic: Media Research Center
-- Brent Bozell claims in his June 27 column that the alleged "weapons of mass destruction" found in Iraq "should be a crucial, corrective turning point to the stuck-in-2003, pre-war obsessives." But he, like the rest of his MRC bretheren, fails to note that the munitions are degraded and mostly useless as WMD.
Since this deliberate ignorance of inconvenient facts is coming from the top, we should assume that this deception is official MRC policy.
Where Are They Now? Topic: CNSNews.com
A June 27 press release by the Republican members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which attacks an Associated Press article on scientists who support claims made by Al Gore in his movie "An Inconvenient Truth," carries a familiar contact name: Marc Morano.
Yes, it appears that the longtime CNSNews.com reporter has moved on. He's no longer listed on the current CNS staff sheet.
Morano seems to have brought the same journalistic standards to his Senate gig that he used at CNS to great effect in promoting the allegations of a disgraced ex-NASA spokesman (George Deutsch, the guy who lied about graduating from college) in an attempt to discredit global warming scientist James Hansen. Morano also co-wrote the smear job on Rep. John Murtha in January -- you know, the one that featured the dead, the disgrunted and the incapacitated casting aspersions on Murtha's military record.
The Senate article's headline reads, "AP Incorrectly Claims Scientists Praise Gore's Movie." But the word "praise" appears nowhere in the AP article. Morano also makes sure not to touch an AP quote of one scientist who said that the movie's errors are "far, far fewer and less significant than the shortcoming in speeches by the typical politician explaining an issue." And those politicians' press releases as well, presumably.
NewsBusters promoted the press release without noting Morano's connection to the MRC empire.
He's not the only ex-CNS'er to flee for a federal paycheck. Former CNS editor in chief Scott Hogenson, last seen working for the Republican National Committee, is deputy assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, as this Chicago Sun-Times article indicates.
One More Sheppard Goof Topic: NewsBusters
In that same NewsBusters item in which he scoffed at death threats against the New York Times, Noel Sheppard wrote of the secret financial surveillance program that the Times exposed:
There have been no allegations, even by The Times, that any laws either domestic or international were violated by this program. Moreover, subpoenas were issued for all of the banking examinations performed during this operation.
Wrong on both counts. As Media Matters notes, the subpoenas used to gain access to the financial records were not issued by any court but administrative subpoenas issued by the Treasury Department that, according to the Los Angeles Times, "are secret and not reviewed by judges or grand juries, as are most criminal subpoenas." Also, according to Media Matters, the New York Times article in question did in fact note that some have questioned the legality of the program.
Will MRC Denounce Those Who Want Journalists Dead? Topic: NewsBusters
In a June 27 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard takes offense at the idea that right-wing bloggers be held responsible for their eliminationist rhetoric against journalists. Reacting to a Raw Story article recounting death threats made against New York Times reporters over its reporting on secret government surveillance programs, Sheppard wrote: "It is definitely going to bear watching to see whether this kind of reporting about the conservative reaction to the Times article becomes more of the focus on the part of the media than the actual story itself as well as its sweeping ramifications."
Sheppard's post came on the heels of a Tim Graham post earlier in the day taking similar offense to a letter writer to the Romenesko media-news site asserting that "a significant portion" of conservatives "couldn't care less if every journalist in the country was simply jailed or gunned down," insisting: "It is in no way fair or accurate to inflate and caricature conservative criticisms of the liberal media into a grand wish of wanting them dead." Of course, that's what Graham does in reverse, citing as counter-evidence that "Al Franken went around the 'mainstream media' circuit making jokes about Bush officials being executed for treason in the Plame case. (And journalists like Matt Lauer laughed.)"
It's worth noting that neither Graham nor Sheppard explicitly condemned eliminationist rhetoric by conservatives against the media. (We have previously noted that such rhetoric by NewsBusters posters and commenters has not been countered or punished.) Graham played the "but liberals do it too" card; Sheppard worried about the issue distrating attention from the main issue of conservatives' goal of discrediting the New York Times and considered the whole idea of noting conservative death threats "toooooo funny."
Of course, any such condemnation would have to cover the conservatives' current source of ardor, Ann Coulter, who famously wished that Tim McVeigh had blown up the New York Times building.
If Graham and Sheppard (or anyone at the MRC) are actually offended by fellow conservatives calling for the death of journalists, they need to actually denounce it instead of playing semantic games or condoning it because examples of liberals making threats can be found.
Then and Now Topic: WorldNetDaily
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-- WorldNetDaily, June 11, in a presumed tweak at NewsMax, which is offering "Godless" for $4.95 plus "a FREE 4-month trial subscription to NewsMax Magazine."
"That's right. Your eyes are not deceiving you. You can save $20 off the cover price of what is sure to be the most important book of the year – Tom Tancredo's 'In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America's Border and Security.' ... When you order Tancredo's book for $4.95, we will also send you, FREE, three sizzling issues of WND's critically acclaimed monthly magazine, Whistleblower."
The strategy behind offering such loss leaders with a few free magazine issues is that the recipient must explicitly discontinue the magazine when the free issues run out; otherwise, they will automatically be charged for a full subscription (which in Whistleblower's case, is $49.95 a year).
MRC Press Releases Toe Party Line Topic: Media Research Center
Two recent Media Research Center press releases might as well be GOP press releases.
A June 23 release bashing "top media" for not reporting Sen. Rick Santorum's claim that "[i]t is now a definitive fact that there were WMDs in Iraq," as did MRC's initial reporting on it earlier, fails to note one important fact: the found munitions were degraded from being leftovers from the 1980s and likely unusable as weapons of mass destruction as most people understand it.
A June 26 release quotes MRC chief Brent Bozell heartily endorsing the idea of charging the New York Times with treason for reporting on a secret financial monitoring program used to trace terrorists. Bozell said the Times "will stop at nothing to propel its liberal agenda, not even jeopardizing our national security" and is "deliberately pushing a left-wing agenda," but he offers no evidence that reporting on something a Republican administration wanted to keep secret is evidence of a "left-wing" agenda, or that revealing the existence of the program is "jeopardizing our national security."
Why are people donating good money to the RNC when the MRC is doing the same thing? Media criticism it ain't.