The MRC's Horrible, Misleading Easter/Earth Day Study Topic: Media Research Center
The last time we saw the Media Research Center's Erin R. Brown, she was howling that a 5-year-old boy's painted toenails was "blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children." With her new so-called study, Brown further demonstrates that she shouldn't be taken seriously.
Let us count the ways Brown gets things wrong in the headline and opening of her April 20 NewsBusters post:
Holy Week: Media Worship Earth Day, Attack Easter
Easter is the quintessential Christian holiday - the celebration of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. Although it has been celebrated by billions of people around the world for nearly 2,000 years, the mainstream media would rather celebrate the liberal holiday known as "Earth Day" and connect Easter to the abuse scandal that surrounded the Roman Catholic Church. Some major Findings:
Media Undermine Christian Holiday: Nearly two thirds of all stories about Easter were negative (22 out of 34).
Easter Used to Attack Catholic Church: Ninety-one percent of the negative Easter stories were about the pedophilia scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.
Love That Mother Nature: 100 percent of Earth Day stories were positive.
First: Contrary to her headline, Brown cites no example of anyone "attacking Easter."
Second: Despite the fact that she talks about "the mainstream media," the only media Brown analyzed in her study was evening network newscasts -- a small, uncomprehensive slice of the "mainstream media."
Third: Brown confuses reporting negative news about the Catholic Church -- in this instance, sexual abuse scandals that even she concedes were prominent -- as an "attack" on the church. Again, none of those stories addressed, nor any other story she cited, made any negative comments about the religious events of Easter even as she goes on to absurdly portray stories on the abuse scandals that also mentioned Easter as "negative stories about Easter" -- making Brown's assertion even more ludicrous.
Brown seems to think, as her NewsBusters colleague Dave Pierre does, that the media should not be allowed to cover the scandal during certain religious holidays -- or, perhaps, should be barred from covering it at all.
As for the Earth Day stuff -- her rationale for linking Earth DAy and Easter is that "2011 marks a unique year in that 'Earth Day' falls right in the middle of 'Holy Week' -- Brown writes that "There were five stories about Earth Day all of which glowingly featured the Earth-celebrating holiday." She did not provide any examples of this, but one must suspect these examples are just as baseless as her Easter examples.
The narrow sample size and misleading, overstated conclusions are but another example in the MRC's long history of shoddy "media research."
Will WND Admit It Leaked Book Details To Drudge? Topic: WorldNetDaily
We just posted an article detailing WorldNetDaily's creation of birther-related news that it then reports on as if it had nothing to do with it, and WND serves up another apparent example.
As we were putting the finishing touches on our article, the Drudge Report posted an article claiming that Jerome Corsi's "high stakes publishing project" -- better known as his Obama-bashing birther book, "Where's the Birth Certificate?" -- went to press, quoting "a source close to the publisher"calling the book "utterly devastating."
WND immediately followed up with an article touting Drudge's promotion of the book, even repeating the anonymous quote that came from "a source close to the publisher." This was followed shortly thereafter by an article claiming that Corsi's book has "skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot among all books on Amazon.com" in the wake of Drudge's promotion, again referencing the "source close to the publisher" quote.
And who is publishing Corsi's book? WorldNetDaily.
WND's enthusiastic embrace of Drudge's article strongly suggests that the leak of information about Corsi's book to Drudge was not just approved by WND officials -- including editor and CEO Joseph Farah -- but is part of the marketing strategy for the book.
To sum up: WND is reporting on a story that it, by all appearances, leaked.
So if WND can get this kind of (as far as we know) free publicity, why is Farah begging readers for money to buy TV ads for the book, especially when he has promised nothing in return but a signed book? Why is Farah, as majority owner of WND, afraid to put his own money where Corsi's mouth is? We're still waiting for an answer about that questionable business practice.
Wayne Allyn Root Goes Birther, Denies That He Has Topic: Newsmax
Wayne Allyn Root insists that he's not a birther, but he sure sounds like one in his April 20 Newsmax column, declaring that Donald Trump "has brilliantly brought up an issue that millions of Americans are pondering."
Root begins his venture into birtherism with a lie, asserting that "Main Street Americans are rightfully concerned to learn that it is impossible to get a passport in America without a long-form birth certificate, yet we’ve allowed a man to become president without the same document." In fact, as FactCheck.org points out, the birth certificate Obama has provided satisfies legal requirements for proving citizenship and obtaining a passport.
After more denial that he's a birther -- "Asking Obama to prove his background does not make you extreme, or crazy, or a lunatic. It does not even make you a 'birther'" -- Root sounds even more like one:
Do I personally believe Obama was born in a foreign country? I have no idea. I am not a birther, but I do believe there might be something damaging hidden in his college if not his birth records.
Why do I think that? Because Obama behaves suspiciously. Because he hires armies of lawyers to keep his records sealed. I also believe all Americans have a right to ask the question of the man who commands our army and our economy.
Ironically, the more Obama refuses to produce the proof, and the more millions of dollars he spends on legal maneuvering to hide that proof, the more concerned Americans become. Obama is the one stoking the fire, not Trump.
Why exactly is Obama not destroying Trump’s political career by producing the birth certificate? It is so easy and simple — show it and the circus ends instantly. Trump’s gamble would turn into the biggest losing bet in modern political history.
Like birthers often do, Root exaggerates again; as we've noted, the idea that Obama "hires armies of lawyers to keep his records sealed" is highly misleading.
Kinsolving Again Complains White House Didn't Answer Question He Didn't Ask Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily keeps up its longtimepattern of complaining that the White House press secretary didn't answer a question WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving with an April 19 article portraying White House press secretary Jay Carney declining to call on Kinsolving as an example of the Obama White House's alleged lack of transparency -- even baselessly suggesting that Carney knew the questions Kinsolving was going to ask and decided not to avoid answering them.
In fact, it's much more likely that Carney would rather spend his time talking to real reporters than a right-wing hack like Kinsolving.
Newsmax Admits The Obvious: It's Working With Trump Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax is positively giddy that Donald Trump is name-dropping the website.
An April 19 article by Jim Meyers happily highlighted that Trump referenced Newsmax's meaningless, Trump-centric poll in a Time magazine interview, as well as that he speaks regularly to Newsmax chief Christopher Ruddy.
Of course, it was plenty clear that Newsmax was collaborating with Trump even before this admission. As we detailed over at Media Matters, Newsmax has been heavily promoting Trump's presidential prospects for months.
The Trump-Newsmax connection was made even more clear in an April 20 U.S. News & World Report article:
So is there a Trump-Newsmax conspiracy? "Yes," cheers Ruddy. "Trump realizes the great potential of Newsmax and has been using it very adroitly. We're well aware he's using it, happy he's using it" says Ruddy from the Newsmax HQ in Florida.
"He's been really responsive to our news team here," says Ruddy, who calls Trump a "friend."
Recently, the potential 2012 GOP primary candidate dropped by Newsmax's West Palm Beach HQ and even chose it as the place to reveal his American birth certificate, part of his effort to call into question President Obama's birthplace. Ruddy doesn't back the birther movement and says he told Trump that he believes Obama was born in Hawaii.
Media Matters last week put a spotlight on the news site's coverage of Trump, calling it an "early and enthusiastic promoter of Trump's presidential ambitions."
Ruddy has no problem with that description. "Media Matters is right," he says.
It's always nice to have our reporting validated, even if Newsmax still refuses to let us add its Twitter feed to our big ConWeb tweet list.
The U.S. News article does point out the truth about Newsmax's meaningless poll:
Newsmax has also won national attention for its Trump coverage because it's been advertising a Trump poll on several sites. So far some 800,000 have voted online. But Ruddy says that there is no formal or business relationship with Trump. "He did ask if he could change the name of the place to 'Trumpmax' I said no," joked Ruddy. "To us it's just a great news story in a very boring Republican Primary right now."
At this point, fawning coverage is all the relationship Trump needs from Newsmax.
NEW ARTICLE: Inventing The News Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily works behind the scenes to feed its birther obsession by creating affidavits and whispering in Donald Trump's ear -- which WND writes about without disclosing its role in creating them. Read more >>
Vox Day Smears Minister As Nazi for Reimagining Hell Topic: WorldNetDaily
Vox Day devotes his April 18 column to savaging a Christian pastor, Rob Bell. What horrible crime did Bell commit to earn Mr. Beale's enmity? Offer an alternative view for the Christian concept of hell.
As outlined in a Time magazine article, Bell's view of Christianity is "less judgmental, more fluid, open to questioning the most ancient of assumptions," and specifically that "history is not tragic, hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God."
That was too much for Day, who declared Bell's teachings "pernicious" and "heresy," and that they "eviscerate Christianity itself, as they not only remove the very purpose for the Word becoming flesh, but render both the Crucifixion and the Resurrection entirely irrelevant." But he couldn't stop there -- he had to go the Godwin route:
In much the same way that the camp guards of the SS-Totenkopfverbände once reassured Jews lined up for their lethal showers, Rob Bell is now encouraging those who stand in that line to remain there calmly awaiting their eventual destination instead of urging them to repent and remove themselves from the black parade. And in doing so, he is much more aptly described as a servant of hell than as a minister of Jesus Christ.
Day also drops a bizarre reference to "the secular cult formerly known as the Episcopalian Church," and this may the first and only time that a right-wing columnist has begun a column with lyrics from the nu-metal band Disturbed.
Spitzer Nails Bozell On His Hollow Bias Attacks Topic: Media Research Center
Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell appeared on the April 18 edition of CNN's "In The Arena," where host Eliot Spitzer took exception to the MRC accusing him of being biased.
After rebutting the MRC's claim that he didn't press Democratic members of Congress on their failure to pass a budget in a timely fashion by airing a clip from his show earlier this month, Bozell blustered that it was just one example and that if he could "bring in my producer on the show and I would show you about a hundred, maybe a thousand examples in the opposite direction." But Bozell offered not a single example.
Spitzer then pointed out one of the examples of Bozell's complaining that the media was portraying President Obama as an adult, but included an example of CNN's Gloria Borger saying that Obama was "politically what he's trying to do is be the grown-up," which is not the same thing. Bozell retorted with right-wing talking points: "If she were being completely fair and comprehensively honest, she would point out that this man has no currency whatsoever in this debate" because he had previously pledged that he would cut the deficit. When Spitzer noted that Bozell was giving "a partisan, ideological perspective," Bozell huffed that it's not a valid observation that Obama was trying to be the adult in the budget debate.
Finally -- in a section that was cut out of the version of the video on the Bozell-operated NewsBusters -- Spitzer took exception to an April 11 NewsBusters post by Matt Hadro with the headline "Eliot Spitzer Creepily Exploits Military Family's Financial Troubles for Political Gain." Bozell stood by the post, claiming that Spitzer was using a "scare tactic" and that "the Republican leadership said that if the government was closed down, there would be legislation to protect the military." Spitzer reminded Bozell that there was no such legislation pending at the time of the interview. Still, Bozell insisted that Spitzer was "stating something that is fundamentally not true," and that Congress would have protected the troops. Then it gets absurd:
SPITZER: Was there a bill at that time to do it?
BOZELL: There would have been!
You can see why NewsBusters cut out that part of the video. Spitzer 1, Bozell 0.
New MRC Rule: Don't Report Priest Abuse Scandals During Lent Topic: NewsBusters
The Media Research Center has decreed another restriction on coverage of Christians: You can't mention Catholic priest abuse scandals during Lent.
In an April 15 NewsBusters post, Dave Pierre complains, "As Christians observe Holy Week and the anticipation of Easter, PBS' Frontline program will air another investigation into abuse by clergy of the Catholic Church." He does not offer a time when airing the show would be more appropriate.
Perhaps because, to him, there isn't one. He would rather it not air at all -- he complains that the abuse being profiled is "from decades ago" and, besides, abuse of minors by Catholic priests is old news: "Frontline already aired a lengthy episode on the Catholic abuse narrative not that long ago."
Then, of course, Pierre raises the specter of anti-Catholic bias, even as he describes why the priest-abuse story is a compelling one and throwing Jews under the bus through an attempt at misdirection:
Indeed, Catholic priests terribly abused minors, and leaders failed to stop the awful harm. That is an undeniable truth. Nothing justifies such a wretched evil.
We must continue to demand justice and compassion for victims of clergy abuse. There is no doubt that the stories that will be heard on the program will be heart-wrenching and angering to hear.
However, media outlets like PBS have surpassed the point where they are merely reporting a story. They are using the scandals as a tool to single out and further tarnish the Church.
When will PBS’ Frontline investigate the massive child abuse and cover-ups happening today -- not decades ago -- in our nation's public schools? How about the recent cover-ups of abuse by Orthodox rabbis in New York City?
Or is only the Catholic Church a target?
Pierre has a stake in the issue: He's a Catholic apologist who has written a self-published book trying to downplay the scandals and -- in an apparent echo of the dubious assertions of the Catholic League's Bill Donohue --claiming that "the Catholic clergy scandal is not about 'pedophilia.'"
Farah is Standing By His Reporter's False And Misleading Claims Topic: WorldNetDaily
Lost in the pissingmatch between WorldNetDaily and Salon over the claim that President Obama has spent millions of dollars to fight birther lawsuits is exactly what claims were made. WND editor Joseph Farah said "we stand by [reporter Chelsea] Schilling's three reports – every word of them." But what exactly is Farah standing by?
At issue are three articles by Schilling. The first, on April 22, 2009, asserts that "President Obama may be using campaign funds to stomp out eligibility lawsuits brought by Americans, as his campaign has paid more than $1 million to his top lawyer since the election." The only evidence Schilling offers is that Obama's campaign paid that amount to a law firm between October 2008 and March 2009, and that one lawyer in the firm represented Obama in some birther lawsuits. At no point does Schilling prove what she strongly suggested in her lead paragraph -- that all of that million-plus was spent on "eligibility" lawsuits.
The second article, from Aug. 10, 2009, carried a similar lead but a bigger number: "President Obama may be using his political action committee funds to stomp out eligibility lawsuits brought by Americans, as he has paid more than $1.35 million to his top lawyer since the election." But Schilling falsely portrays all of the money as going to a single lawyer; in fact, Schilling offers the exact same evidence as before -- that the Obama campaign paid money to a law firm. Again, Schilling offers no evidence that all of the money went to a single lawyer or that it was all spent on birther lawsuits.
The third article, from Oct. 27, 2009, repeated the false claim with a new number: "President Obama has paid nearly $1.7 million to his top eligibility lawyer since the election." Again, Schilling offers only that the money was paid to a law firm, not to Obama's "top eligibility lawyer," and again, there's no evidence that all of the money went to a single lawyer or that it was all spent on birther lawsuits.
Farah is standing by something the evidence doesn't support. He has nothing to back up the claim that every single penny Obama's campaign paid to a law firm went toward defending birther lawsuits, yet he won't clarify or renounce the claim. Instead, he smeared a Salon writer who challenged what his website reported as a "sissified, left-wing blogger," while he defended the reporter who made misleading and unsupported claims as "one of the most remarkable young women I have ever met" and "like a daughter to me."
That sums up the kind of petty, thin-skinned, misguided person Farah is.
WND's Klein Spreading Falsehoods About Obama Adviser Topic: WorldNetDaily
On his April 17 WABC radio show, a clip of which is posted at WorldNetDaily, Aaron Klein misleadingly asserted that Obama adviser Samantha Power "gave an interview in 2008 where she wanted to bring a mammoth protection force -- pay attention -- to the Palestinian territories." (10:45 in the posted clip.)
First, Klein gets the date completely wrong: the interview was in 2002, not 2008. Second, he falsely portrays the context of Power's statement. Power was not advocating an invasion of Israel, as Kleinn suggested; rather, her reference to a "mammoth protection force" was in response to a hypothetical question about a move toward geoncide by "one party or another" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the size of the peacekeeping force that would be needed to stop a genocide from happening.
MRC's Graham Can't Tell Difference Between Swear Word, Personal Insult Topic: NewsBusters
The Media Research Center's Tim Graham abhors certain F-words. Other ones, not so much.
In an April 15 NewsBusters post, Graham complains that basketball star Kobe Bryant "an amazing $100,000 fine" for uttering the "gay F-bomb" at a referee. Even worse, Graham says, the New York Times "approvingly published gay activist John Amaechi on its Off the Dribble blog begging Bryant not to challenge the fine."
Not only did the Times not "find room to consider that Bryant's fine was excessive," Graham huffed, it "was delighted when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the TV networks and against FCC fines for fleeting profanities on broadcast TV."
Can Graham really not tell the difference between a swear word and a personal insult? Or is Graham totally down with personally insulting gays? He might want to clear that up.
AIM Still Pushing 'Third Terrorist' Conspiracy Topic: Accuracy in Media
An April 14 Accuracy in Media column by Wes Vernon keeps up his previously conspiracy-mongering over the idea that a third person was involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. As we wrote the last time Vernon pushed this at AIM, there's no logical reason for the FBI to ignore the alleged Middle Eastern connection to the bombing that Vernon is pushing.
In his new column, Vernon can't decide whether to trust bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols. First, Vernon touts how Nichols has claimed that "the Middle Eastern-looking 'John Doe 2' does exist," he dismisses Nichols' claim that there's no reason to read anything into the fact that Nichols and 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef are housed in the same prison, claiming: "A stranger landing from Mars could perhaps be excused for asking — given the abundance of maximum security prisons in the U.S. — why it was necessary to incarcerate Nichols and Yousef in the same one — considering the credible information of their collaborative history in the Oklahoma City terrorism."
Vernon again promotes the work of Jayna Davis, who wrote a WorldNetDaily-published book on the case and again clings to the idea that the FBI never investigated the "third terrorist" theory, claiming that "If the FBI were doing its job, its agents would be all over the local authorities in Quincy, Massachusetts, demanding that [Hussain] Al-Hussaini not be released from the lock-up on charges stemming from an alleged beer-bottle brawl March 9." Al-Hussaini is the purported "third terrorist" Vernon is obsessing over.
But as Salon reported in 2002, Davis tried to implicate Al-Hussaini in 9/11 because he once worked at Boston's airport, where two of the four hijacked flights originated,. But he worked there four years prior to 9/11, and critics said Davis was using a single quote out of context to make the connection.
Vernon claims that "Twenty-two witnesses had linked Timothy McVey [sic] with Hussain Al-Hussaini, and the FBI authorities did not even try to interview Al-Hussaini." But according to Salon, Davis said she had "22 sworn affidavits from witnesses who link Middle Eastern men collaborating with McVeigh and Nichols during various stages of the bombing plot, including seven witnesses who place al-Hussaini in McVeigh's company before the bombing."
Vernon seems to be inflating Davis' dubious story beyond where even she took it.
Sheppard Pushes Myth That Federal Money To Planned Parenthood Is 'Fungible' Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard used an April 14 NewsBusters post to fire off a snappy retort at someone who pointed out that federal money paid to PLanned Parenthood doesn't pay for abortions:
It really is funny how liberals don't understand the concept of money being fungible.
Taxpayers opposed to federally funded abortions have absolutely no certainty that money supposedly going to Planned Parenthood for procedures other than abortions don't end up directly or indirectly doing exactly what it's not legally allowed to.
Sheppard offered no evidence to support his claim that federal money paid to Planned Parenthood is "fungible" -- perhaps because there isn't any. As former Planned Parenthood official Clare Coleman wrote:
Opponents of Planned Parenthood insist that giving the organization federal dollars allows it to spend other money in its budget to provide abortions. That is not possible — there is no other money.
Title X is a federal grant program that exists solely to help low-income and uninsured people access contraceptives and sexual health care; 5.2 million people use the program annually. But Congress has never appropriated enough money to take care of the estimated 17 million Americans who need publicly funded family-planning care. There always are more patients than subsidies.
Further, a Title X grant is designed to help with costs, not to fully cover them. So family-planning programs are required to find other money to support the Title X project — not the other way around. For patients who qualify for Medicaid, reimbursement rates for reproductive health services are lower than the cost of the care. A typical family-planning visit might cost upward of $200, including the exam, lab tests and contraceptive method, but the Medicaid reimbursement rate may be as low as $20.
Will Sheppard report these facts to his readers? It can be assumed with a high degree of metaphysical certitude that he won't (to quote yet another of his favorite cliches).
CNS Ignores Walker's Admission on Collective Bargaining Topic: CNSNews.com
An April 14 CNSNews.com article by Christopher, reporting on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's testimony before a congressional committee, highlights Walker's claim that collective bargaining is not a human right.
Missing from Goins' article, however, was a more important admission Walker made in his testimony: that the gutting of collective bargaining and other union rights for Wisconsin state employees that he promoted as a way to, as Goins quoted him saying, "make sure we can balance future budgets," doesn't save any money for the state.
Interestingly, Goins' article (as do all other CNS articles these days) concludes with a plea for donations, claiming, "We at CNSNews.com can only produce hard-hitting stories like these with your support." Ignoring certain facts because they're inconvenient to CNS' right-wing narrative isn't exactly "hard-hitting."