Topic: The ConWeb
It's awards season, so it's time to honor, as it were, the worst ConWeb reporting and craziest ConWeb opinions of the year. Read more >>
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
MRC Still Touting Media-Bashing From Discredited Reporter Lara Logan
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Curtis Houck gushed in a Jan. 8 post:
Interesting that Houck tells that Logan is a "former CBS News journalist" before he mentioned how she moved downmarket to being a "Fox Nation host." But it's not surprising that Houck doesn't tell his readers why Logan is a "former CBS News journalist."
As we documented when Logan resurfaced last year as an explicitly conservative commentator, Logan headed up a 2013 "60 Minutes" story on a security contractor hiding behind a pseudonym who had written a book claiming that he had witnessed the attack on U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. After the story aired, other journalists discovered that the contractor was nowhere near the Benghazi facility at the time of the attack and that a told a different account to the FBI.On top of that failure of reporting, Logan also failed even though the MRC despises CBS as a member of the so-called "liberal media," it entirely ignored the controversy -- perhaps because it knew all along that she was an ideological fellow traveler. To this day, the MRC's original post promoting Logan's segment remains live and uncorrected, and it never told readers the story was found to be false.
Now that Logan no longer has to pretend to be an objective journalist, the MRC loves her conservative anti-media rants even more though her credibility has been destroyed.
WND's Farah Returns For More Trump Sycophancy
Still in apparent recovery from his stroke, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah is starting to ease back into column-writing. But as we noted the last time he popped up, he's even more a of Trump sycophant than before.
In a Jan. 13 column, Farah devoted a lot of space to accusing people who issued provocative tweets following President Trump's ordered killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani as suffering from "Trump Derangement Syndrome." He even highlighted one writer "from the right" (actually, the libertarian Reason magazine), adding, "Trump Derangement Syndrome – it comes from every angle."
Farah, of course, will not tell you how he has suffered from Obama Derangement Syndrome since 2008, with the low point being his aggressive promotion of birther conspiracy theories and simply straight-up lying about the president. He is essentially what he is complaining about, albeit from a different ideological viewpoint.
This kind of Trump sycophancy is an easy layup for Farah, even as he continues to recover from a severe medical event. But that's all it is.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
MRC Keeps Its 'Fact-Checks' Partisan And Factually Deficient
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's war on fact-checking doesn't extend to its own alleged fact-checking, perhaps because it's so terrible. In a Jan. 8 post, Nicholas Fondacaro issued the familiar complaint that President Trump was once again fact-checked, this time after his claim that, in Fondacaro's telling, "the Obama administration handed over roughly $1.7 billion to Iran as a ransom for American hostages and said it helped Iran fund the attack" on a U.S. military base in Iraq after Trump directed the killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani:
Fondacaro offered nothing to back up his "fact" that Iran "much of its funding towards" military activities -- perhaps because that isn't actually true. As actual fact-checkers have pointed out, the money was Iran's in the first place, intended to buy military equipment from the U.S. in the 1970s but canceled after Iran's Islamic revolution; the U.S. held onto Iran's $400 million, which accrued interest over the next few decades.
Not only is there no way to know whether Iran used the money the U.S. returned to it to specifically pay for the missiles fired on the Iraqi bases, it's unlikely that those missiles were paid for by Iran deal money. Former national sexurity adviser Susan Rice has pointed out that Iran had a ballistic missile program for several years before the nuclear deal was signed.
Instead, Foncacaro went on a tirade against Susan Rice over a separate TV appearance, calling her an "Obama-era liar" and ranting that she "lied to the American people about a YouTube video causing the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya." As usual, Fondacaro never proves Rice "lied"; in fact, she was simply repeating talking points supplied to her by the CIA.
Fondacaro even summarized the CNN fact-check wrong. Trump didn't say the Iran deal "freed up $150 billion in frozen, overseas Iranian assets" as Fondacaro claimed; he said that Iran was "given $150 billion." And that figure (which was indeed somewhere around $60 billion) was for unfrozen assets around the globe, not U.S. money given to Iran.
Fondacaro wasn't the only MRC writer to fall into derangement mode over Rice's reappearance. The same day, Tim Graham huffed that Rice "lied on five different network talk shows in 2012," then repeated Trump's falsehood in complaining that she was allowed to fact-chedk "the 150 billion dollars Obama gave to Iraq, declaring that "There is no doubt that Obama gave that money. Liberals are merely claiming we were giving the Iranians back their own seized assets from 1979."
Graham is clearly never going to admit that the "liberals" are being factually accurate.
CNS Still Promoting Dershowitz Without Mentioning His Epstein Ties
We've noted how, like its Media Research Center parent, CNSNews.com likes to quote Trump defender Alan Dershowitz without noting the fact that he's a former lawyer for convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and has been accused of having sex with one of Epstein's underage victims. CNS has continued its promotion of Dershowitz's arguments -- and stayed silent about his sleazy side gig.
On Dec. 9, managing editor Michael W. Chapman promoted how "Famed defense lawyer, constitutional scholar, and best selling author Alan Dershowitz said that through the impeachment inquiry House Democrats are acting like the KGB under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Evidence does not matter to them, he said, and like KGB henchman Laverntiy Beria, all they declare is 'show me the man,' President Trump, and we'll 'find you the crime.'" Ten days later, Craig Bannister transcribed Dershowitz's rant that "If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) withholds articles of impeachment from the Senate as a negotiating tactic, it would be both unconstitutional and destructive." (It's not, and it wasn't.)
When Dershowitz was named to Trump's defense teeam for the Senate impeachment trial, Bannister gushed on Jan. 17 that he was an "iconic liberal civil and human rights defense attorney" and highlighting that Dershowitz said that "even though he voted for Hillary Clinton for president, he is non-partisan regarding the Constitution."
The promotion baton was then handed to Susan Jones, who touted on Jan. 20 how Dershowitz "made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows to discuss his upcoming role in the Senate impeachment trial" and that his "mandate is to determine what is a constitutionally authorized criteria for impeachment."
None of these articles mention Dershowitz's ties to Epstein. By contrast, CNS has obsessed over minor, possibly unflattering details involving people it doesn't like, such as suddenly caring about what Pete Buttigieg's husband has to say and mentioning in two articles the utterly irrelevant fact that the two met on a dating app.
So, CNS clearly has an eye for detail -- except when that detail interferes with its pro-Trump agenda.
Monday, January 20, 2020
Newsmax Columnist Rants About Purported Poll Bias
In his Jan. 6 Newsmax column, John Tantillo complains about "Democratic party bias in polls of how Americans view the impeachment issue, and Donald Trump" in an October Fox News poll showing a 52 percent of Americans favor President Trump's impeachment:
TRantillo invoked a New York Post "analysis" of the Fox News poll that Newsmax itself devoted a "news" article to at the same time. But Tantillo linked to Gallup's affiliation poll history, which hasn't shown much change between 2017 and now. And contrary to Tantillo's claim and the Gallup affiliation polling, registered Democrats consistently outnumber registered Republicans, as the Pew Research Center points out:
Because Tantillo doesn't understand how polls work, he decides to try and "unskew" the Fox poll results:
It seems that "all" those pollsters are correct and not their politically motivated critics.
MRC's Bozell Shows Double Standard Again On Presidential Credit for A Terrorist Leader's Death
Topic: Media Research Center
An anonymously written Jan. 3 Media Research Center post states:
This seems like a good time to remind people that Bozell refused to give President Obama credit for his role in the death of Osama bin Laden. As we documented, Bozell ranted that President George W. Bush deserved the credit "more than anyone" and even complained that a documentar about the killing of bin Laden might be released too close to the 2012 election because associating Obama with it might help him get re-elected.
If Bozell can ever stop being such a hard-right partisan long enough to give Obama proper credit for bin Laden's death, then maybe he has a right to speak out.
WND's Zumwalt Has Issues With (Non-Right-Wing) Women
Sunday, January 19, 2020
MRC's Double Standard on the Comedian Defense, Part 2
Topic: Media Research Center
We've noted how the Media Research Center gives conservative comedians a pass for saying offensiver things (perhaps because it's not offended by, say, rampant homophobia) that it would never give to a non-conservative comedian who offended the MRC's right-wing sensibilities.
Well, the MRC's Gabriel Hays had a meltdown over an obvious joke by George Lopez in a Jan. 6 post:
In his rage, Hays missed the obvious thing Lopez was riffing on: the trope that immigrants, typically Hispanics, are considered cheap labor.
By comparison, the MRC had little to say when right-wing gun activist Ted Nugent declared that he would be "dead or in jail" if Barack Obama won re-election in 2012. At the time, all it served up was Jeremiah Wright whataboutism even though Wright never threatened a president's life.
Then again, Hays' comedic tastes tend to lean toward transphobia, having already defended Ricky Gervais for it.
CNS Unemployment Coverage Distortion Watch
Susan Jones kicked off her lead story on December's employment figures with a little pro-Trump rah-rah from the man himself:
Jones later found a way to spin bad news into good news, admitting the 145,000 jobs created in December were below the previous numbers, adding that "after revisions for October and November, job gains have averaged 184,000 over the last 3 months.
Jones also excused the stagnant labor force participation rate by invoking the history of how the rate "has never been higher than 67.3 percent, a level achieved in the early months of 2000" and that "Economists say retiring baby boomers account for some of the decline since the turn of the century" -- something she rarely did when attacking President Obama for effectively the same trend.
The usual sidebars also appear, but with a dose of reality. Terry Jeffrey had to admit that the number of manufacturing jobs dropped in December and that the total yearly number was well below 2017 and 2018 figures. Craig Bannister conceded that the Hispanic unemployment rate didn't change as "both the number employed and the number unemployed fell from November’s level, as did the number participating in the labor force," though he did attempt some spin by claiming that "Fully 85% of Hispanics believe that their lives will get better in 2020 – topping the optimism of both Whites (79%) and Blacks (73%), a national USA Today/Suffolk University survey finds.
Melanie Arter, meanwhile, served up an article about how "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday downplayed news that the number of employed Americans reached a record-setting 158,803,000 in December, instead saying that the December jobs report 'caps a year of growing uncertainty' and 'surging costs of living for hard-working families.'"
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Brent Bozell, Terrible Tweeter
Topic: Media Research Center
We know that Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell is generally a terrible person -- after all, he had his syndicated column ghost-written for him for years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bozell is also bad at tweeting, writing things that his MRC writers would mock if he wasn't their boss.
In the midst of the impeachment hearings in November, Bozell responded to the testimony of Gordon Sondland, President Trump's ambassador to the European Union, Bozell harrumphed: "Listen to Sondland and you'll understand why America elected Donald Trump president to get rid of people like Sondland."
Many people informed Bozell that not only did Trump had appoint Sondland to his ambassadorship, Sondand was a Republican bundler who donated $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee, swampy behavior that presumably helped him get that ambassadorship. The tweet eventually got so badly ratioed that Bozell deleted it.
A month later, Bozell did some legal blue-skying in asking the immortal question, "Is 'obstruction of justice' a bad thing?"
Bozell did not seem to understand that the self-evident answer to that question is "yes." After enough people told him so, ee similarly made that tweet disappear as well.
If Bozell serves up those kinds of pearls of wisdom when left to his own devices, perhaps it was a good thing that Tim Graham ghost-wrote all those columns of his.
Mychal Massie's Islamophobic (And Factually Deficient Anti-Clinton) Meltdown
Mychal Massie kicked off his Jan. 6 WorldNetDaily column with a big Muslim-hating rant:
Massie then launched an attack in President Clinton: "In factuality, the blood of the Americans who were murdered Sept. 11, 2001, is on the head and hands of Clinton. He was offered bin Laden on a silver platter, but he refused Sudanese President Bashir's offer to arrest, detain and hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States."
As we noted as early as 2007 -- and also when Massie made this same clain in 2014 -- no less than the 9/11 Commission found no "reliable evidence" that Sudanese officials offered bin Laden to the U.S.
Friday, January 17, 2020
MRC Touts How A Film It Hated Tanked -- And Censored How A Film It Loved Tanked Even Harder
Topic: Media Research Center
Like an ideologically driven Roger Ebert, the Media Research Center loves to attack movies that clash with its right-wing agenda, even mocking them if they fall short in box office receipts. It also promotes the heck out of movies that conform to its ideology, then censors the fact that they tanked at the box office. It's done a little bit of both lately.
The MRC beat up on the film "Bombshell," about the sexual harassment scandal at the Roger Ailes-led Fox News. For instance, right-wing movie critic Christian Toto contributed a post with the clickbait headline "What ‘Bombshell’ Stars REALLY Think of Fox News, Conservatives," and Tim Graham and Brent Bozell complained that this movie exists and not a "ripped-from-the-headlines TV dramatization of Harvey Weinstein's predations (Graham went solo in a post complaining about this "anti-Fox News film").
The capper on this was a Jan. 3 post by Randy Hall gloating that "Bombshell" has been "a flop at the box office, dropping from 6th place to 9th during its second weekend in wide release," even though "the film stars such well-known actresses as Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman, who portray former anchors Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, as well as Margot Robbie, whose role is as producer Kayla Pospisil, a 'composite character' based on several FNC employees." He highlighted the film's "two-week take as almost $16 million while costing $33 million to produce."
Hall went on to cite The Hill's conservative media critic Joe Concha, who argued that the film tanked because nobody wanted to watch a film about a "polarizing" media outlet made by an equally polarizing Hollywood. But he failed what Concha also said about a different film that was tanking even harder:
You might recall that the MRC loved "Richard Jewell," to the point that it effectively approved of Eastwood's false smearing of a real-life reporter by suggesting she slept with a source for story tips.
In his post, Hall linked to Box Office Mojo's box office take list for the final weekend of the year, but didn't mention that "Bombshell" grossed more money than "Richard Jewell" despite being on 1,000 fewer screens. And as of this writing, "Bombshell" has grossed more money than "Richard Jewell" despite never having as wide a release ("Bombshell" appeared on a maximum of 1,721 screens; "Richard Jewell" opened on 2,502 screens). Also, "Richard Jewell's" average daily per-screen take never topped $780, while "Bombshell" exceeded an average $1,000 take per screen on eight days.
"Bombshell" has been indisputably more popular than "Richard Jewell" -- by you'll never hear the MRC tell you that fact.
CNS Spoils Its Sympathy For Catholic Abuse Victims By Publishing Another Bill Donohue Column
Around the time we caught CNSNews.com with clashing messages on the Catholic Church -- managing editor Michael W. Chapman repeating a bishop's claim that sex education is "CHILD ABUSE" vs. Bill Donohue's dismissing the severity of actual child abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy -- it suddenly got serious about the issue of sexual abuse in the church.
Chapman wrote in a Dec. 18 article about how "at least seven victims of clergy sexual abuse have filed a lawsuit in a Manhattan federal court alleging that the Vatican and the Pope knew about many priests who were abusing young people but covered it up, shuffling the abusive priests around and ignoring the victims," adding: "Instances of bishops and pastors keeping silent about clerical sex abusers, not warning families or parishes, and constantly assigning (and reassigning) the abusers to youth ministries and youth sports programs are well-documented in the research of Dr. Leon Podles, author of Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church."
The next day, CNS published an op-ed by Janet Patterson, described in an editor's note as a Catholic woman "whose son Eric Patterson (1970-1999) reportedly was sexually abused multiple times by Rev. Robert K. Larson. Larson spent 5 years in jail for sexually abusing altar boys and died in 2014 at the age of 84; Eric Patterson died at age 29 after shooting himself in the head." Patterson wrote: "Let your diocese know how you feel about the clergy sexual abuse scandal. Be willing to support survivors in their difficult task of recovery. Hold diocesan church officials accountable for allowing perpetrators to continue molesting in parish after parish, excusing these actions by saying they received 'poor medical advice.'"
On Dec. 27, Chapman wrote about a report finding that "Since the 2018 release of a grand jury report on Catholic clergy sexual abuse, the dioceses of Pennsylvania have paid $84 million to 564 victims." He quoted Podles claiming that "unless American priests are uniquely sinful, there were something like 35,000 to 100,000 abusive priests worldwide with anywhere from 100,000 to 2,000,000 victims."
But CNS undid all that public service by publishing another column by Donohue attacking those trying to hold the Catholic Church accountable over the abuse. He complained that an article noted "pedophile priests," retorting: "Wrong. Most of the abusers were homosexuals. This is indisputable." Actually, as we've documented, the people who actually investigated the abuse found this quite disputable, and Donohue is being dishonest again.
Donohue then targeted the victims themselves:
Donohue concluded with his usual complaint:
Because the Catholic Church alone had a systematic, widespread campaign of protecting abusers?
Thursday, January 16, 2020
MRC -- Who Hates The 'Deep State' And Trump Criticism From Military Man --- Now Demands We Trust Civil Servants, Military Officers-
Topic: Media Research Center
In a Jan. 4 post, the Media Research Center's Alex Christy took offense to commentary from Ayman Mohyeldin on MSNBC following the Trump-ordered killing of top Iranian military official Qasem Soleimani, first for noting that while Soleimani led anti-U.S. attacks, he also led attacks against ISIS, then for pointing out that the Trump administration lacks the credibilty to have its explanation of the circumstances behind what led up to Soleimani's killing to be taken at face value:
Funny, the MRC has spent the past few months insisting we can't trust civil servants and uniformed military officers when the testify against Trump over impeachment.
The MRC has repeatedly attacked the "deep state" -- that is, career civil servants -- foir purportedly undermining Trump. To name just a few recent examples:
And the MRC certainly had no respect for uniformed military officer Alexander Vindman when he testified about what he knew about Trump's actions toward Ukraine:
Apparently, the MRC only wants us to trust civil servants and military officers when they put Trump's interests before that of the country.
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