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Thursday, February 21, 2019
CNS Skips A Controversy In Reporting on Trump Judicial Nominee
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com took an unusually high -- albeit highly selective -- interest in one Trump judicial nominee's Senate confirmation hearing.

Seemingly suggesting that the nominee wasn't far enough to the right, Melanie Arter wrote in a Feb. 6 article:

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judicial nominee Neomi Rao told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that “there’s an overwhelming scientific consensus that there is climate change” and that “human activity does contribute to climate change.”

When questioned on her personal beliefs about when human life begins, however, she said it would be inappropriate to answer because some cases relating to the issue could come before the court.

But another article the same day, by Emily Ward, seemed to come to Rao's defense by highlighting a religion-related question to her:

On Tuesday, while questioning judicial nominee Neomi Rao, who has been nominated by President Donald Trump to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked Rao whether she believed gay relationships “are a sin.” This drew criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who pointed out that the Constitution prohibits religious tests of those seeking federal office.

Ward did concede there was a legitimate basis for Booker's question, noting that Rao had previously criticized a Supreme Court ruling that decriminalized same-sex relationships.

Ward followed up with a Feb. 13 article highlighting Republican criticism of questions to judges that "focused on the nominees’ religious beliefs," citing Booker's question to Rao as "only the most recent in a series of incidents in which Democrat senators have questioned nominees on their personal religious beliefs."

Strangely, none of these CNS articles cited a much bigger controversy involving Rao's beliefs: writings in college that seemed to argue that victims of date rape had it coming beause they drank too much. Rao apologized for those writings during the hearing -- something CNS didn't deem to be newsworthy.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:38 AM EST
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
WND's Brown Still Cynically Sticking With An Amoral President
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've documented how WorleNetDaily columnist Michael Brown handwaves President Trump's amoral and immoral behavior because he keesp delivering the right-wing goods. And he does so again in a Jan. 28 column.

Brown again offers up a little faux caring about Trump's behavior, complete with italics: "Quite obviously, as an evangelical, I do not back the president’s every word or decision, especially when he waxes ugly and even vulgar." Then he enumerates concerns about "some of the potential Democratic presidential candidates"; he repeats some of the usual right-wing attacks then, being the anti-gay activist he is, offers special to Pete Buttigeg for being "the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and if elected, would be the nation’s first gay president." He also singled out "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new face of the Democratic Party," even though she is not only not running for president, she's not even eligible to do so in 2020.

But Brown's point here is to once again cynically justify supporting Trump:

If 2020 came down to any of these putative Democrat candidates vs. Trump, it would be a no-brainer for me. Trump would get my vote.

And then there is that six-letter word: courts.

Last week, a state judge in Iowa struck down the “fetal heartbeat” bill, which prevents abortions once the baby’s heartbeat can be detected.

As reported by a local news outlet, “Judge Michael Huppert found the law unconstitutional, concluding that the Iowa Supreme Court’s earlier decisions that affirm a woman’s fundamental right to an abortion would include the new law passed last year.”

We desperately need judges who will do away with the myth of “a woman’s fundamental right to an abortion” and will instead rule in favor of life.

Against this backdrop, it is critically important that Trump recently renominated 50 judges for federal positions, including two for San Francisco’s notoriously far-left 9th Circuit Court. And Trump’s list of 50 is filled with solid conservatives.

In contrast, can you imagine what kind of judges a far-left Democratic president would nominate?

[...]

In light of the positive transformation of the courts, I will gladly put up with the president’s divisive ways as much as I regret them. Again, the alternative leaves me no choice.

Brown concluded:

In an ideal world, we would have a president who was a shining example of Christlikeness, well-versed in the Scriptures and serving as the leader of all Americans, from all faiths and backgrounds. And perhaps that day will come, even in our lifetimes.

But right now, as the Democratic Party continues to lurch left, as the courts play a bigger and bigger role in our society, and as the secular media exposes its extreme bigotry and bias, I am reminded afresh of why I voted for Trump in 2016.

And that’s why, given similar choices in 2020, I would vote for him again.

At least he's being consistently hypocritical.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:07 PM EST
MRC Invents A 'Sexist' Attack on Sarah Sanders
Topic: Media Research Center

The headline on Rebecca Downs' Feb. 7 Media Research Center post blared, "'Big Bang Theory's Chuck Lorre Launches Ugly, Sexist Attack Against Sarah Sanders." In it, Downs asserted that Lorre "targeted White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as well as her prayer life and her looks," further huffing: "It’s also been established that it’s sexist and wrong to go after women for their looks. Or is it only liberal women that this applies to?"

So what did Lorre say in his regular end-of-show vanity card? "God told me he hasn't spoken to Sarah Sanders since she was fourteen years old and praying for her skin to clear up. I have no reason to doubt Him."

Downs did not explain how making a joke about a teenage Sanders dealing with acne -- a common condition that afflicts both boys and girls of that age -- is "sexist." Perhaps because it is not, in fact, a "sexist" comment.

This is not the first time that the MRC has manufactured a "sexist" attack by someone against Sanders. Following Michelle Wolf's performance at last years White House Corresdpondents Dinner, it decided that Wolf's quip that Sanders "burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye" was a personal attack on her looks and not a comment about her mendacity in defense of President Trump:

  • "That sure sounds like a slam on her appearance," P.J. Gladnick declared.
  • "Wolf made jokes at the expense of Sarah Sanders's looks," Scott Whitlock insisted.
  • Wolf made "personal attacks about [her] appearance,"the MRC uncritically quoted Fox News' Ed Henry as saying.

It seems that the MRC is trying to shut down discussion of Sanders' job performance by dismissing any criticism of her as "sexist."


Posted by Terry K. at 3:46 PM EST
NEW ARTICLE: Military-Grade Craziness
Topic: WorldNetDaily
James G. Zumwalt squanders his name -- made illustrious by his family's military legacy -- to spread false claims, Islamophobia and conspiracy theories at WorldNetDaily. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 9:18 AM EST
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
CNS Still Shows Double Standard On Reporting About Politicians' Inflammatory Comments
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com's double standard on reporting about inflammatory comments by politicians has reared its ugly head again.

When Rep. Ihlan Omar made comments critical of Israel that were widely interpreted as  anti-Semitic, CNS pounced with four articles in the 24 hours after the remark was made:

The next day, CNS added an article on President Trump weighing in: "Trump on Rep. Ilhan Omar's Anti-Semitic Comments: 'I Think She Should Resign from Congress.'"

CNS similarly flooded the zone when Rep. Rashida Tlaib -- coincidentally, also a Muslim and a Democrat -- made her own controversial remark, posting multiple articles in a short amount of time and making sure to reference the remark in the headline.

But CNS' tone is much different when a Republican makes a controversial remark. When Republican Rep. Steve King made comments supportive of white nationalism, CNS waited four days to do its first story about it, published only one other article on it, never referenced the nature of the comments in the headline of any article, and gave copious space to King to rebut accusations.

That's what's called media bias. CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, should look into that sometime.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:27 PM EST
Seven Years Later, WND's Cashill Is Still Trashing Trayvon Martin
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jack Cashill just can't stop trashing a dead teen.

Cashill has been trashing Trayvon Martin -- portraying him as a thug in training despite the fact that he had never been arrested for anything -- and lionizing his killer, George Zimmerman, ever since Zimmerman killed Martin in an 2012 altercation. He wrote a book on the subject, then continued to defend Zimmerman even as his behavior caused further legal complications.

In his Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily column, Cashill took offense to people marking Martin's death, then launched on a lengthy speculation about what might have happened if Zimmerman had not shot Martin. He imagines that Martin beat Zimmerman into unconsciousness, if not to death, because he was "into drugs, fighting, sex, guns and playing 'gangsta,'"then portrayed Martin's father turning him in to authorities while blaming himself for breaking up marriages to Trayvon's mother and stepmother.

Cashill followed that with a pre-emtpive mourning of Zimmerman because he "volunteered to be neighborhood watch captain after a young mother a few doors down endured a home invasion," and is "an Hispanic civil rights activist and Obama supporter. He mentors black teens, and just a year ago he led a crusade to get justice for a black homeless man who had been beaten by a cop’s son." Cashill's imaginary police officer declares that Trayvon is "going to prison" for his crime.

Cashill also repeated a neighbor's claim that he allegedly saw Martin go down on Zimmerman "MMA style," but failed to note that the neighbor later walked back that claim and admitted he never actually saw any punches thrown.

Remember that Cashill is better known for pushing bogus conspiracy theories than for accurate reportage, and that tells you what you should believe about what he writes.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:38 PM EST
MRC Defends Sanders Claiming God Ordained Trump -- But Attacked Those Who Claimed God Ordained Obama
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Ryan Foley writes in a Feb. 1 post:

During Wednesday’s edition of Erin Burnett OutFront, the eponymous host and her panel reacted to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’s declaration that God “wanted Donald Trump to become President” during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. Burnett seemed to think that God playing a role in the electoral politics of the United States posed a direct threat to democracy.

Burnett seemed shocked by Sanders’s statement, arguing that “it’s a big thing to say that God...whatever God may be, he, she, it...wanted Donald Trump to become President.” Burnett asked Scott Jennings, former advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “does that make you blanch at all or are you okay with that?” Jennings responded, “I find it quite likely that supporters of any politician who wins believe that it was God’s plan for that politician to win. So, no, I’m not surprised to hear someone saying that.”

Burnett proceeded to scoff at the idea that God would have anything to do with electoral politics in the United States: “I thought we live in a democracy, right? The will of the people and now you’re saying it’s the will of God. I don’t know, there’s something about it that seems quite jarring to me, frankly.” Jennings stressed that he believed in the will of the people while proclaiming that “I happen to believe in the will of God and that his will will be done on this Earth whether we like it or not.” Burnett still seemed to have a hard time wrapping her head around that idea, asking Jennings, “And you think that God cares who’s President of the United States?”

Needless to say, there's a double standard. The MRC was much less forgiving of the idea that God plays a role in the electoral politics of the United States when the result of his intervention was Barack Obama.

Lachlan Markay mockingly wrote in a 2009 post that musician Sting "told the Associated Press that he believes that Obama is a gift from Heaven, delivered to shepherd the befuddled masses to providence," further sneering that Sting's "audacious deification of the President" was "Hollywood sophistry at its best."

A 2008 post by Mark Finkelstein similarly mocked Spike Lee for saying something similar:

B.C. and A.D?  Get with it, old man.  History is henceforth divided into the eras of B.B. and A.B.—Before and After Barack. And George W. might have been "misunderestimated" as he engaged in "strategery."  But that's so, like, yesterday.  Barack Obama is "pre-deortained."  By whom?  Spike Lee stopped short of saying God's hand is at work.  But he was clearly speaking in quasi-religious terms in discussing The One on today's Morning Joe.

Scott Whitlock huffed in a "This Week in Media Bias History" post that it was "sheer insanity" for Newsweek editor Evan Thomas to claim in 2009 that "Obama’s standing above the country... above the world. He’s sort of God." He then sneered, "You knew some journalist would say it."

Whitlock wasn't done sneering, writing this in another "This Week" post: "Liberal journalists don’t like conservatives bringing up religion and faith, but it’s apparently okay for them to insist God supports Democratic political goals. On December 4, 2013, then-MSNBC host Ed Schultz weighed in on how God feels about ObamaCare: 'I’ll tell you what I think God thinks of the Affordable Care Act. It’s a big "amen."'"

So it's "media bias"when someone invokes God for a Democrat, but mocking someone's sincere faith when that person invokes God for a Republican. Got it.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:18 AM EST
Monday, February 18, 2019
Newsmax's Hirsen Pretends Extortion Isn't Extortion
Topic: Newsmax

James Hirsen, who claims to be a lawyer, did a lawyerly job doing a little pro bono work for the National Enquirer in his Feb. 11 Newsmax column in attempting to insist that the apparent extortion attempt the Enquirer's parent, American Media Inc., is using against Amazon chief and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos really isn't extortion at all.

AMI threatened to publish compromising photos of Bezos if, as Hirsen tells it, "he did not publicly state that the tabloid’s reporting on his affair was not motivated by political concerns." But even as Hirsen admits, "David Pecker is the CEO of AMI, and he is known to be an associate and friend of President Donald Trump," and that Bezos "cited ways that the president and Pecker had cooperated in the past." It would seem, then, that AMI is demanding that Bezos state something that appears to be a lie.

He even concedes that the story "illustrates the hunger on the part of many in the mainstream press for anything that can be weaponized against the president and used to ratchet down his poll numbers" -- inadvertently acknowleging that it's legitimate for Bezos to breing up the Trump angle.

Hirsen insists that a "superficial read" is leading to claims of extortion. But, he adds, this is merely a business negotiation:

In analyzing this email, it is important to focus on the context within which both parties are seeking to settle a dispute.

In settlement negotiations, it is common practice for the parties to propose that each side will release the other from any potential claims. This is what was communicated through its legal counsel in the subject e-mail by AMI, along with a proposal that Bezos would agree to tell the public that AMI's coverage of Bezos was not politically motivated.

In return, AMI would agree not to publish the texts and photographs.

Outside of the settlement discussion context, criminal extortion would exist in a case such as this if money was demanded as payment for not making public an embarrassing secret. However, in this instance the key difference revolves around the settlement backdrop.

Why would the two sides be negotiating a settlement? It is clear that Bezos has been raising potential civil legal claims against AMI, while AMI has suggested that Bezos’s Washington Post planned to publish a false news story about AMI.

These cross assertions are arguably the basis for both parties to be pursuing a settlement of their respective claims. A settlement agreement would mutually release the claims of both parties.

[...]

Prosecutors would have an uphill battle in attempting to use these facts as a basis for a criminal extortion case. Additionally, the First Amendment creates further problems for the prosecution, since Bezos is a very well known influential public figure and a power player in Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., and Hollywood.

Hirsen is incorrect in claiming that it's only extortion if money is involved. As Slate detailed, the federal extortion statute prohibits communication "containing any threat to injure the … reputation of the addressee" in order to extort "money or other thing of value." The statement of exoneration AMI is demanding from Bezos is clearly a thing of value, and the compromising photos it's threatening to print if it doesn't get that statement are clearly intended to injure Bezos' reputation.

(Hirsen curious doesn't mention that other prominent people have also been on the receiving end of AMI's sleazy tactics.)

Further, Hirsen does not supply any evidence that this was an actual "negotiation." If Bezos' telling is correct, AMI made demands of Bezos, and when he "didn’t react to the generalized threat with enough fear," it raised the ante by bringing up the compromising photos.

If this was really a First Amendment issue based solely on Bezos' newsworthiness as a "very well known influential public figure and a power player in Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., and Hollywood," AMI would not need to negotiate with Bezos --  it would simply publish the photos. Every other legitimate news organization would do that.

Hirsen's column reads more like an audition as an attorney for AMI than a serious look at the legal issues involved here.


Posted by Terry K. at 5:31 PM EST
CNS Devolves Into Echo Chamber for Trump's Policies
Topic: CNSNews.com

When President Trump says "jump," CNSNews.com asks, "how high?" That's the editorial agenda of CNS these days -- bolstering whatever pronouncement Trump makes with sycophantic echoing and random, anecdotal claims.

For instance, when Trump started ranting about claims of human trafficking over the southern border in order to justify building a wall -- which experts on the issue say is wildly overblown -- CNS rushed to bolster it:

  • Melanie Arter wrote a Feb. 4 article featuring an activist who claimed that "human traffickers take advantage of the United States’ open borders to smuggle children into the country and force them to have sex for money."
  • The next day, Arter wrote an article featuring a Border Patrol official claiming "human traffickers are using children to smuggle illegal immigrants across the border as a family unit and recycling the children back across the border to be used again."

When Trump announced that the U.S. would pull out of Syria and prematurely declared ISIS defeated, CNS continued the support mode there it started when Trump first made the announcement:

  • A Jan. 16 article by Susan Jones complained that Trump's announcement "drew an instant backlash," then highlighted that "an undisclosed number of U.S. troops were killed on routine patrol in Syria."
  • On Jan. 21, Patrick Goodenough noted another ISIS-linked bombing in Syria targeting U.S. troops.
  • A Jan. 29 article by Jones pushed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats' claim that "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will seek to 'avoid conflict' with two of America's allies as he consolidates power in Syria and continues to 're-take territory' from what remains of ISIS." Jones then added a partisan spin by noting, "This is the same dictator that the Obama administration tried to topple."
  • A Feb. 3 video featured Trump declaring that the U.S. needs to get out of "endless wars" like in Syria.
  • On Feb. 5, Jones featured a report claiming that "ISIS is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria."
  • Dmitri Simes wrote a Feb. 7 article touting Sen. Rand Paul's endorsement of Trump's proclamation.
  • The same day, Goodenough promoted Trump's claim that "he expects the military coalition fighting ISIS to formally declare the end of the terrorist group’s hold on territory in Syria and Iraq as soon as next week."

We've already seen hwo CNS worked to echo Trump's public pronoucements on the government shutdown, even as those views constantly shifted.

Acting as a political echo chamber is not the same thing as journalism.

(Updated to note earlier Syria support.)


Posted by Terry K. at 2:38 PM EST
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2019 8:29 PM EST
WND Projects In Accusing Liberals of Projection
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The current issue of WorldNetDaily's sparsely read Whistleblower magazine is titled "MASTERS OF PROJECTION: How today’s Democrats accuse their opponents of the very evil they perpetrate," and it's promoted thusly:

In psychology, projection is just one of many defense mechanisms people unconsciously employ to avoid facing uncomfortable feelings within themselves – by ascribing these unpleasant qualities to another person.

But in today’s political and cultural battles, projection is a tactic of all-out warfare.

The plain truth is, on issue after issue, one side in the raging war over America’s future is literally accusing the other side of the very attitudes, offenses and crimes of which it itself is guilty.

[...]

“After 20 years of producing Whistleblower magazine for WND,” says best-selling author and WND Managing Editor David Kupelian, “this has turned out to be one of my favorite issues. It’s smart, original, and it shines a fresh new light on the vexing political and cultural wars now ravaging our nation. On issues from ‘Russia collusion’ to racism, and from tolerance to voter fraud, we document how the left literally accuses others of their own misdeeds.”

Kupelian and Co. will never admit it, but WND is a major source of projection. To name just a few examples:

Kupelian's column on the subject, published at WND on Jan. 27, expanded on the theme, declaring at one point that "The left is so good at projection, it even projects the accusation of projection onto others!" He added as one example: "Members of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign did spread the theory that Obama was born in Kenya and constitutionally ineligible to be president." The 2016 McClatchy article to which Kupelian links to prove this also notes that the one Clinton campaign staff who spread the story was fired and that a reporter who whom Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal fed the claim (he has denied doing so) investigated it and found it to be false.

In other words, it would have died a discredited claim had WND not picked it up and spent the next eight years pushing it. Kupelian is simply seking retroactive justification for pushing a story he knew or should have known was false for the sole purpose of engaging in the politics of personal destrution against Obama.

Isn't that projection too?

Kupelian also unironically wrote: "There are no rules when you’re battling Hitler, and that’s exactly how the left likes it – no rules. Of course, Trump is not Hitler and the GOP is not fascist, Nazi or evil." Kupelian, Joseph Farah and the rest of WND also likes it when there's no rules -- that's why it had no problem tarring Obama with the Hitler slur it now conveniently despises.

The lack of irony continued in an anonymously written Feb. 7 WND article on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that Trump is "projecting his own unruliness" when he attacks his critics. But instead of directly responding to Pelosi, the article turns into a promotion for the magazine, copying liberally from the earlier promo and Kupelian's column.

In attacking liberals for allegedly projecting in their criticisms of Trump, Kupelian and WND are themselves projecting. Now that's irony.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 AM EST
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Acosta Derangement Syndrome Watch, MRC Edition
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has had a raging case of Acosta Derangement Syndrome for a while now, and it seems to be only getting worse.

The MRC's chief Acosta-hater, Curtis Houck, spent an entire Jan. 24 post ranting at Acosta for writing a book, tossing his usual insults at Acosta like "pompous" and "carnival barker." Apparently feeling that he hadn't insulted Acosta enough, he included more Acosta-bashing comments from right-wing bloggers. At one point Houck sneers: "Okay, Jim! Time to call in The Avengers! And we’ll assume you’ll want to play Captain America, right?"

Randy Hall joined in with his own rant on Jan. 28 by finding the one thing in a new book criticizing the Trump White House that worked with the MRC's agenda:

It’s certainly no surprise that CNN's Jim Acosta would go to virtually any length to criticize President Trump and anyone in his administration.

The most recent example of this behavior comes in an excerpt from a new book written by former Trump administration official Cliff Sims, who wrote that Acosta and his channel “peddled slime” with “unsubstantiated misinformation from a disgruntled ex-Trump campaign aide.”

Entitled Team of Vipers: My Extraordinary 500 Days in the Trump White House and released on Monday, Breitbart published on Sunday produced an exclusive excerpt stating that a story based on a single anonymous source claimed that the President had been “upset with” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Since Hall is simply cribbing from Breitbart, he can't be bothered to find out whether Acosta and CNN still stood by the story that Sims claims had been "completely made up" (since Breitbart didn't either).

Scott Whitlock tried his hand at hurling invective at Acosta in a Feb. 15 post, claiing that the "self-agrandizing" Acosta "offered a typically attention-grabbing question" at President Trump's press conference declaring a national emergency over the southern border, and that he was "lectur[ing]" and being "condesending" toward parents whose children had been killed by illegal immigrants. In reality, Acosta accurately pointed out that Trump doesn't "stick to the facts" on illegal immigration and asked the "angel moms" to respond to the declaration.

Yes, the MRC spends this kind of time to personally attack a journalist.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:09 PM EST
Updated: Friday, May 24, 2019 9:43 PM EDT
CNS' Jeffrey Rehashes Old, Bogus Attack On Obama Over Abortion
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com editor in chief Terry Jeffrey devoted his Feb. 6 column to rehashing a old attack on Barack Obama: ascribing sinister motive to bills he opposed as an Illinois state senator that would require care of a fetus that was still alive after an abortion. "At that time, Illinois state law did not protect the rights of these abortion-surviving babies," Jeffrey writes, adding that the state senator who introduced the bills "just wanted to protect the constitutional rights of all born babies. Not Obama."

In fact, as we documented when the attack first surfaced during the 2008 presidential campaign, Illinois already had a law requiring medical care for a viable fetus that survived an abortion -- contradicting the source Jeffrey used for his column, anti-abortion activist Jill Stanek that only "comfort care" is permitted.

While Jeffrey cited one single defense Obama made of his opposition to the bill -- that it would give legal status to a previable fetus -- Obama also pointed out that the legislation was really intended to restrict abortion rights and it would likely be struck down by the courts since federal law did not permit it under Roe v. Wade, since it did not include a "neutrality clause" stating that the law would not change anyone's legal status.

The fact that Obama has been out of office for more than two years isn't stopping Jeffrey from falsely attacking him -- though perhaps it should be a sign he should give it up.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:35 PM EST
Saturday, February 16, 2019
Trump Gets Fact-Checked Too Much, MRC's Graham Complains
Topic: Media Research Center

One of Media Research Center bigwig Tim Graham's current obsessions is to rail against fact-checkers who keep proving that President Trump is a lying liar who lies. For instance, he whines in a Jan. 28 post:

We've made it a routine point that the media's "independent fact-checkers" spend most of their time fact-checking President Trump, and the rest of the politicians (especially Democrats) get far less attention. This was confirmed in a recent article in the British leftist paper The Guardian. The headline on Adam Gabbatt's piece was "The 'exhausting' work of factcheckers who track Trump's barrage of lies."

[...]

So if these websites want to be perceived as "nonpartisan," won't that be difficult if the overwhelming target of your checking is a Republican president? Kessler said “It was more difficult to fact-check Obama because there was always a modicum of truth there. You ended up going way down in the weeds with officials who were highly knowledgable and wanted to defend their case. With Trump a lot of times the White House won’t defend what he’s saying because they have no defense.”

Someone should ask Kessler: How much time do you think the president has, when you're tagging him with 15 "false claims" a day?

Graham's attitude requires him to be oblivious to two things: 1) If Trump wants to be fact-checked less, he should lie less, and 2) No evidence has been presented that any single Democratic politician -- or even a large group of them -- lie as much as Trump does.

Further, Trump is a target-rich environment -- he lies often and blatantly.  Graham can't seem to even admit that Trump has lied (though he doesn't actively dispute it).

Graham followed up with more whining on Feb. 8, this time trying to paint fact-checker PolitiFact as biased because it fact-checks Trump a lot. First, he insists PolitiFact is lying about not basing fact-checks on ideology because "PolitiFact has been sustained by large grants from liberal foundations including the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the leftist Craig Newmark Foundation." Graham seems to think -- without evidence, of course -- that liberal donors to nonpartisan organizations demand the same ideological loyalty that donors to the MRC do.

Then, Graham threw some numbers around (boldface in original):

Let's take a quick check of 2017 and 2018 to see what happens when you actually care about who is fact-checked more and less. 

-- President Trump was fact-checked on their "Truth-o-Meter" 297 times in the last two calendar years, and 205 of those statements were ranked Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. That's 69 percent of the time.

-- Nancy Pelosi, then the House Minority Leader, House leader Nancy Pelosi was checked 12 times. Six of them were on the False side (50 percent), zero Pants on Fire. Five were True or Mostly True, and one was Half True. 

-- Charles Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, was checked 9 times. Four of those were on the False side (44 percent), three on the True side, and two Half Trues.

-- President Trump was rated a "Pants On Fire" liar 33 times, more than these two Democrat [sic] leaders were rated at all (21 times).

-- In the partisan breakdown of "Pants on Fire" ratings in 2017-18, Republicans/conservatives were tagged 98 times overall and Democrats/liberals merely 15 times. That's a margin of more than six to one.

In the "Blue Wave" year of 2018, Barack and Michelle Obama were rated....Zero times. Hillary Clinton was rated.....Zero times. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was rated....Zero times. Bill Clinton drew one...for claiming they were poor when they left the White House. 

It's not just Trump. Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren were both elected to the Senate in 2012. Cruz was assessed for truth on 135 occasions by PolitiFact through 2018, but Warren? Only five.

And for the record, PolitiFact has never evaluated Warren on the “Truth-o-Meter” when she claimed to be part-Cherokee Indian.

Graham never explains why, for instance, the Obamas or the Clintons should hjave been fact-checked in 2018, given that none of them had any central role in that year's elections. Nor does he explain how, exactly, PolitiFact could have examined Warren's claim about her heritage without, say, obtaining her DNA.

Graham concludes with one lasat whine: "Like the rest of the Liberal Media, PolitiFact treats conservatives as much more likely to lie and mislead." But he offers no evidence to the contrary; he cites not one single example of a claim by a Democrat that PolitiFact should have fact-checked but didn't.

If Graham really wants to do other than try to make cheap political points and actually prove his thesis correct, he should put his money -- or, more to the point, the Mercers' money -- where his mouth is: a MRC fact-checking operation that goes after the things PolitiFact purportedly won't. On the other hand, running one's mouth is much easier...


Posted by Terry K. at 10:41 AM EST
WND Touts Another Dubious Lawsuit Against SPLC
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Last month, WorldNetDaily touted a frivolous defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center by a man who's mad the SPLC exposed his support and legal work for a neo-Nazi group. Now it's found another guy suing the SPLC because it exposed him:

Gavin McInnes, the conservative commentator and host of the internet-based program “Get Off My Lawn,” is suing the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center for designating him a “hate” figure, charging the group’s “concerted, obsessive and malicious actions” were designed to harm him.

“SPLC’s defamatory, false, and misleading designation of Mr. McInnes as a ‘hate’ figure is purposefully deceitful and intended to tarnish Mr. McInnes’s reputation, disparage Mr. McInnes’s good name and work, inflict harm and financial damage, reduce Mr. McInnes’s goodwill and standing in the community, expose Mr. MicInnes, his family and anyone else associated with him to public scorn, harassment, intimidation, and potential violence, and to denigrate, malign, and ridicule Mr. McInnes to countless individuals and potential employers and partners around the world,” Monday’s lawsuit by McInnes explains.

[...]

McInnes’ complaint contends that while he is an “avowed and vocal opponent of discrimination based on race, religion or sexual preference, and of ideologies and movements espousing extremism, nationalism and white supremacy,” SPLC still gave him its “hate designation.”

In the lawsuit, McInnes says SPLC is “defaming him by use of the SPLC Hate Designations, and publishing other false, damaging and defamatory statements about him.”

The case was filed in Alabama District Court.

McInnes alleges SPLC “harassed” him, his family and friends, and lied about him.

Tellingly, WND does not link to the SPLC page on McInnes and the Proud Boys -- the only reference to which in the WND is a bland note that it was founded by McInnes but that he "left it in 2018" -- and WND does not identify specific claims by the SPLC about McInnes beyond being a "hate" figure. In fact, the SPLC documents McInnes' ties to racism and hate and the Proud Boys' descent into violence:

McInnes himself has ties to the racist right and has contributed to hate sites like VDare.com and American Renaissance, both of which publish the work of white supremacists and so-called “race realists.” He even used Taki’s Magazine — a far-right publication whose contributors include Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor — to announce the founding of the Proud Boys. McInnes plays a duplicitous rhetorical game: rejecting white nationalism and, in particular, the term “alt-right” while espousing some of its central tenets.

[...]

Despite the pains they’ve taken to distance themselves from open white nationalists and antisemites, Proud Boys have been present at high-profile alt-right events, including the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. “[J]ust don’t fucking wear your Fred Perry, or decide to belt: ‘Proud of Your Boy,’” McInnes limply warned followers before the event. “[I]f you decide to rub elbows with those people [while] in colors, you very well could find yourself disavowed.”

But they did show up, which McInnes evidently expected. In the first episode of his Compound Media show after the August rally, McInnes said he had been “just combing through all the media reports going, ‘Don’t say Proud Boys, don’t say Proud Boys, don’t say Proud Boys,’” hoping the “lunatic Nazi” who allegedly killed Heather Heyer wasn’t a member of his group. He wasn’t, but the white nationalist Jason Kessler — who has been filmed undergoing his second-degree Proud Boy initiation — was the rally’s principal organizer. Less than two months earlier, Kessler had been a guest on “The Gavin McInnes Show,” where he promoted Unite the Right and, in a chummy interview, laid out the ideological overlap he and McInnes shared. “What’s really under attack is if you say, ‘I want to stand up for white people. I want to stand up for western civilization. I want to stand up for men. I want to stand up for Christians,’” to which McInnes nodded in agreement and added other examples: “I’m against immigration…I’m against jihadis. I’m against radical Islam."

[...]

Around the same time, Proud Boys member Kyle Chapman announced he was forming a new “tactical defense arm” of the Proud Boys — with McInnes’ “full approval” — called the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK). The paramilitary wing positions itself as a defensive organization formed to protect right-wing activists at political demonstrations. Chapman, who has an extensive criminal history, first gained renown within the alt-right when he was photographed hitting a counter-protestor over the head with a stick at a March 4, 2017, pro-Trump rally in Berkeley, California.

Now referring to himself as “Based Stick Man,” Chapman has been making the rounds of far-right rallies around the country, doing little to create rhetorical distance between the Proud Boys and outright white nationalism.

[...]

A number of journalists who’ve written about the group have received cease-and-desist orders from Proud Boys’ lawyer Jason Van Dyke insisting they “do not now, nor have they ever, espoused white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic, or alt-right views.”

The statement is especially remarkable coming from Van Dyke, a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter and known neo-Confederate. Van Dyke’s affair with far right extremism stretches back until at least his college days, when Michigan State University police searching his dorm found extremist literature, including The Turner Diaries and Protocols of the Elders of Zion.In 2000, the university suspended Van Dyke for several semesters after he was arrested for domestic violence, possession of a banned weapon and firearm safety violations. 

Van Dyke's penchant for violence appears on his Twitter page, where in 2014 he made death threats against another user. Alongside a picture of a noose, he wrote, “Look good and hard at this picture you fucking nigger. It’s where I am going to put your neck.”

(That's who McInnes pals around with. He quit the organization he founded only a few months ago, shortly after the FBI reportedly tagged the Proud Boys as an "extremist group with ties to white nationalism."

(We've previously noted some of this stuff about McInnes.)

WND doesn't want to tell you that -- so averse is to telling the full story that it didn't bother to contact the SPLC for a response. And it references the earlier frivolous lawsuit that was filed without mentioning the fact that the guy's mad the SPLC exposed him as a "neo-Nazi lawyer."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:35 AM EST
Friday, February 15, 2019
MRC Whines That Networks Exercised Editorial Discretion In Not Airing WH Press Briefing Live
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Curtis Houck pours a bottle of whine in a Jan. 28 post:

On Monday, the White House held its first press briefing in 41 days, a stat passed around the press about how it was the longest span between briefings since cameras were brought in during the Clinton administration. 

Despite this kvetching, CNN and MSNBC chose not to air a single second of the briefing live, which included an announcement of new Venezuela sanctions plus questions for National Security Adviser John Bolton, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Council of Economic Advisers head Larry Kudlow and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The briefing began at 3:33 p.m. Eastern and the Fox News Channel immediately went to it during Your World, but CNN Newsroom aired two tape-delayed soundbites on the Venezuela sanctions before moving on.

[...]

Meanwhile, MSNBC Live featured hosts Katy Tur and Ali Velshi joking sarcastically about briefings with Velshi wondering to Tur if she remembers what those were. Velshi later insisted MSNBC was standing by for it, but like CNN, they didn’t air it aside from a brief soundbite of Bolton announcing the sanctions.

[...]

So to be clear, these two liberal cable outlets have long suggested that the President was eroding American press freedoms. But when it came to the news media allowing viewers to decide things for themselves, the former thinks they should be in charge of what the latter sees.

But as Houck seems to concede, the only actual news from the press briefing was the announcement of the Venezuela sanctions, and he further concedes that both CNN and MSNBC reported on that soon after the announcement was made, showing that they were, in fact, monitoring the briefing and not ignoring it. He does not explain, however, why that was so newsworthy that it demanded to be aired live, beyond the increasing rarity of such briefings. He also does not explain why all channels must air it live if Fox News was already doing so.

Houck doesn't seem to understand that the lack of White House press briefings erodes press freedoms whether or not a given news organization chooses to air them live. Did Houck and/or the MRC ever attack Fox News if they refused to air a press briefing from the Obama White House live and in its entirety? Not that we can recall.

As the Washington Post's Erik Wemple points out, CNN and MSNBC were acting like genuine news organizations by making an editorial decision not to air the presser live:

There is, in fact, no contradiction in a news network pushing for White House briefings and then declining to carry them live. Even as CNN and MSNBC were airing other material Monday, their correspondents were in the briefing room seeking answers to their questions. Later on, if real answers actually materialize, they can air the footage, an approach that matches the prescription of two former White House press secretaries. It’s a fair approximation of journalism.

Of course, Houck and the MRC do not actually want to see a "fair approximation of journalism" -- they want ceaselessly fawning coverage of the Trump administration.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:39 PM EST

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