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Sunday, April 26, 2020
Allen West Has Thoughts About Coronavirus
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com columnist and Media Research Center "senior fellow" Allen West has been having some thoughts and ruminations (as stated in the headline of his March 23 column) about the coronavirus pandemic. Amazingly, many of them involve using the pandemic to advance his usual right-wing talking points.

In that column, West mused about the usual conservative platitudes of courage over fear, ultimately concluding with a talking point: "But most importantly, we need to take individual responsibility for our healthcare. If anything, COVID-19 has taught us that state- or government-controlled healthcare is not a viable solution. It is lethargic and irresponsive to the ever-changing dynamic of medicine and healthcare."

West spent his March 30 column what is "essential" under lockdown orders ,complaining that gun stores were not seen as essential while Planned Parenthood, "an organization founded by a white supremacist and racist," is arguing to keep abortion clinics open. West loves that particular lie about Margaret Sanger.

On April 6, West invoked Easter to find a silver lining -- you know, that thing that his employer says we're not supposed to find -- in the pandemic: "We are facing a deadly pestilence, COVID-19, but as the aforementioned verses from Romans state, this current suffering can produce something lasting. ... We must come together and seek out God’s blessings for our overcoming -- and we have been through rough times previously." He added: "Holy Week is all about the culmination of the four Rs – Redemption, Reconciliation, Restoration, and Resurrection. Those four Rs are a roadmap for our Recovery, from COVID-19."

In his April 13 column, West engaged in the usual right-wing complaint about erosion of rights under the pandemic, falsely framing it as a power grab instead of the health protection measures they are:

It is disturbing to think that anyone would seek to profit politically and ideologically from a tragedy, a crisis, this pandemic. What are we to discern when examining these quotes for analysis and assessment? Yes, we all want to be safe and healthy. We all want to do that which is best and good for the public, the American people. But when do we stop and realize that with each crisis we face, there are those who find opportunity in eroding our individual constitutional rights?

West also echoed the CNS bad take on restricting religious services to discourage the spread of coronavirus as a violation of religious rights: "Our very first right in our Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution is Freedom of Religion, and the free exercise thereof. But I guess not in the new normal of Gov. Cuomo."

West served up more self-proclaimed "observations" in his April 20 column, cheering the "pushback against these draconian, ideological-driven decisions, mandates, edicts, and orders emanating from elected officials," likening it to the start of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord and rehashing some of his earlier talking points:

How troubling that here we are, 245 years later, and some elected officials are mandating that gun stores and gun ranges are non-essential. Yet, these same progressive socialist elected officials will tell us that businesses that sell marijuana are essential. They have told us that required surgeries are now “elective,” such as hip replacements, and in some cases, cancer removal procedures. But as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan asserted, murdering a preborn baby is an essential medical procedure.

We are being told our churches are non-essential and that we must surrender our right to peaceably assemble. These are individual rights and cornerstones enshrined in our First Amendment.

[...]

Is there any doubt as to why we have Americans starting to take to the streets? Can you blame Americans for a rising angst and anger when they see chummy media interviews by the Speaker of the House of Representatives showing off her collection of gourmet ice cream, while they are fretting over feeding their families? Talk about a Marie Antoinette moment. 

If all West can do is play his greatest hits (which really aren't so great), he's not being terribly insightful as a columnist and "senior fellow."


Posted by Terry K. at 11:41 AM EDT
Saturday, April 25, 2020
MRC's War On Fact-Checking Continues
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's war on fact-checking is pretty simple: paint any fact-checking organization that fact-checks conservatives as "liberal" and, therefore, somehow not trustworthy. It has put a newly formed fact-checking through that narrative -- targeted mainly because it works with Facebook.

Corinne Weaver focused on the new target in a March 23 post:

Facebook currently relies on nine fact-checking organizations in the United States to help the platform “reduce” and “remove” problematic content. However, many of the people the company has put in charge of suppressing content are pushing a left-wing agenda.

Lead Stories, a fact-checking organization started by Belgian tech blogger Maarten Schenk, is a perfect example. It was the top fact-checker for Facebook in January. The media outlet, which has eight CNN alumni who fact-check trending stories, fact-checks conservatives four times more than liberals.

The fact-checking operation was given $359,000 by Facebook to approve content on the social media site in 2019.

Lead Stories published 296 fact-checks between January 1, 2020, and March 9, 2020. Out of those, 55 entries were from right-leaning social media users and news outlets. Only 12 were from left-leaning social media users and news outlets.

In a moment when Facebook is heavily relying on fact-checkers to flag information on the coronavirus, Lead Stories has slammed many conservative outlets.

Weaver offered no evidence that liberal outlets put out the same amount of misinformation on social media than conservative outlets do, thus warranting parity. She also didn't dispute the accuracy of any of the fact-checks on conservative outlets that Lead Stories did. That makes her claim that Lead Stories is "pushing a left-wing agenda" entirely unsupported.

Nevertheless, the target had been drawn on the group. An MRC post the same day by Alexander Hall baselessly branded Lead Stories a "liberal fact-checker" and complained that it "failed to fact-check the contentious Democratic debate between former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on March 15." That's another bogus attack, because it doesn't fact-check politicians at events; its mission states that "we specifically hunt for trending stories from known fake news, satire or prank websites in order to debunk them as quickly as possible."

On April 1, Weaver returned to complain that another conservative operation was fact-checked:

Third-party fact-checkers have the ability to cause pages on Facebook to be suppressed. These fact-checkers, who are paid by Facebook, are putting efforts into fact-checking satire and editorial cartoons. In other words — opinion.

Lone Conservative, a conservative media outlet designed for college students and recent graduates, was fact-checked by Lead Stories, an organization run by 8 CNN alumni. The Facebook page had posted a cartoon of bailout money being rolled into the Kennedy Center as money was being rolled out to the DNC. This was referencing the $25 million received from the coronavirus bailout that was given to the Kennedy Center.

The cartoon did not accuse the Kennedy Center of giving bailout money to the DNC. It was meant satirically. It was not a news story. It was a simple editorial cartoon.

An interstitial, or filter, was placed over the post with the label saying, “False Information[:] Checked by independent fact-checkers.” A “See Why” button led readers to a piece from Lead Stories, which initially had simply fact-checked an erroneous tweet where the Twitter user was unclear in posting about a hypothetical. Lone Conservative was not even mentioned in the fact-check.

Note to Weaver: the cartoon unequivocally shows the money being funneled through the Kennedy Center to the DNC, so it's hard to deny that it "did not accuse" any such thing.Given that such accusations are a staple of conservative politics -- Weaver seems to have missed that two days earlier, her boss Tim Graham accused Democrats of adding $75 million to the coronavirus stimulus package as a way of "supporting their own media assets" and "keeping their propaganda organs in fighting shape" -- pretending it "was meant satirically" doesn't pass the smell test. All she's doing here is indulging in the usual conservative-as-victim narrative.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:16 PM EDT
WND Parrots Limbaugh Minimizing Coronavirus Threat
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The last time we checked in on WorldNetDaily's Joe Kovacs, he was abusing his status as a self-proclaimed journalist to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to engage in Christian evangelization, despite denying that he was not issuing "a message about religion." A few days before he did that, though, he was downplaying the effects of the pandemic with the help of Rush Limbaugh. He wrote in an April 1 article:

With millions of Americans concerned about coronavirus, radio host Rush Limbaugh is providing some perspective on the actual number of fatalities from COVID-19 compared to those from other causes.

On his Wednesday broadcast, Limbaugh cited a list from worldometers.info that rounded up the worldwide deaths from Jan. 1 through March 25 of 2020:

"Coronavirus: 21,000 deaths.

Seasonal flu: 113,000.

Malaria: 228,000.

Suicide: 249,000.

Traffic fatalities, 313, almost 314,000 deaths.

HIV/AIDS, 391,000 deaths.

Alcohol related deaths, 581,000.

Smoking-related deaths, 1,162,000.

Cancer deaths, 1,909,000 deaths.

Deaths attributed to starvation, 2,382,000 deaths.

And death by abortion, 9,900,000."

"I'm not trying to make any correlation," Limbaugh explained.

"I'm not trying to say, 'Hey, we're overreacting to coronavirus death.' I'm just giving you the stats here. You can react to these stats however you wish."

Kovacs knows Limbaugh is lying when he says he's "not trying to make any correlation" -- after all, there's no other reason to promote these statistics other than correlate them and portray coronavirus as a minor threat, and it's nor surprising from a man who insisted that coronavirus was no more serious than the common cold. Kovacs, of course, is complicit in spreading that lie (just as WND did with Limbaugh's original minimalization claim).

Of course, the number of deaths from coronavirus has grown exponentially since then, to more than 200,000. What are the chances that Limbaugh (and, thus, Kovacs) tries to update these numbers now?


Posted by Terry K. at 6:39 PM EDT
Friday, April 24, 2020
MRC Pretends It's Not The One Being PC By Pushing 'Chinese Virus' Labeling
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center did its partisan pro-Trump duty by echoing the president's messaging of calling coronavirus the "Chinese virus." Even Trump has stopped using that terminology, the MRC is still defending it. Alexander Hall complained in an April 10 post:

Is there an American Big Tech company that isn’t sympathetic to the communist regime in China?

“Grammar app Grammarly has started flagging the phrase ‘Chinese virus’ in references[sic] to the virus and the resulting disease, COVID-19,” Reclaim The Net reported on April 7. The virus that has brought entire countries to an economic standstill has erupted in cultural controversy as well. Both the politically correct nags of liberal America and the Chinese regime discourage calling it the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus.

“In a statement to Reclaim The Net, the company said that the new Grammarly Premium suggestions has [sic] recently been released and that it deals with providing feedback ‘relating to formality, confidence, and sensitive language,’” reported Reclaim The Net. “Grammarly has chosen to go with the WHO terminology and flag any mention of ‘Chinese or Wuhan’ virus.”

[...]

Grammarly’s move is remarkably similar to Microsoft Word’s use of AI to spread political correctness to your desktop. The artificial intelligence program “Ideas in Word” will use aim to “improve” users’ writing, by suggesting more tolerant liberal phrases. 

Hall accusing critics of the "Chinese virus" terminology of being "politically correct" is next-level gaslighting -- it's supporters of that phrase like Trump and the MRC who are positioning it to be the only correct term, and they're doing it for political reasons. Further, one can safely say that Grammarly presumably knows a lot more about grammar and the English language in general than anyone at the MRC and are much less likely to have political motivations behind word usage.

Meanwhile, the MRC is still defending Trump's use of "Chinese virus" from accusations of racist motivations. Back in March, Kyle Drennen uncritically swallowed Trump's claim that his use of the phrase "was designed to hold China’s authoritarian regime accountable for not being honest about the initial spread of coronavirus"; that became a talking point for Drennen the very next day.

Drennen returned to that narrative in an April 24 post to attack new accusations that Trump's use of "Chinese virus" has inspired hate crimes against Asian Americans. "Trump also made it clear on multiple occasions that his use of the phrase “Chinese virus” was designed to hold the authoritarian communist government of China accountable for mishandling the disease and lying about it – which helped cause the global health crisis," he huffed.

Of course, given the sheer number of falsehoods Trump has spread over the years, there's no reason to  take anything that comes out of his mouth at face value. Drennen will never tell you that, however.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:58 PM EDT
CNS Parrots Trump, MRC In Touting Hydroxychloroquine
Topic: CNSNews.com

Because President Trump promoted hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus, and because the Media Research Center dutifully promoted it as well, that means the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, also had to fall in line.

Stenographer Melanie Arter brought her usual Trump-press-release tone to her March 19 article:

President Donald Trump announced “exciting progress” Thursday in finding therapy drugs to fight the coronavirus.

Not only has a drug that’s used to fight malaria and treat arthritis shown promise in fighting COVID-19, but the administration is looking at drugs used overseas to treat the virus.

[...]

The president pointed to chloriquine, a drug that has been shown to be effective in treating arthritis and malaria, as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

A few days later, managing editor Michael W. Chapman was quick to politicize the issue:

Although NBC harshly claimed that President Trump was peddling "false hope," and CNN called it "unsubstantiated hope," for expressing optimism about a maliaral drug to combat the coronavirus, when New York's Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the same thing -- and even cited the president -- neither NBC nor CNN criticized the very liberal governor. 

This is another instance of the liberal media's double standard when it comes to covering President Trump versus any liberal Democrat. If Trump says it, then it's bad or stupid. But when Cuomo says it, then it's good and intelligent. 

On Sunday, Gov. Cuomo announced that trials of the drugs chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and Zithromax would start on Tuesday, March 24. 

During that announcement, Cuomo said, "The president is optimistic about these drugs and we are all optimistic that it could work,” reported Forbes magazine. 

So far, neither CNN nor NBC have slammed Cuomo for peddling "false hope" or "unsubstantiated hope in dark times."

Chapman didn't mention his organization's own hypocritical double standard of reporting on Trump that's so uncritical it won't tell readers wehn he's lying, while its coverage of Trump's Democratic presidential opponents has been relentlessly negative. As managing editor, Chapman presumably has some say-so over that.

CNS articles went on to tout hydroxychloroquine further:

CNS even called on Dr. Oz for a couple articles based on -- what a shock -- appearances he made on Fox News:

But Dr. Oz -- not unlike another sudden CNS favorite, Dr. Drew, regarding statements that dismissed the severity of coronavirus -- has since walked back his support for hydroxychloroquine after one trial showed it wasn't effective. CNS has yet to tell its readers about that, however.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Thursday, April 23, 2020
MRC Defends Right-Wing Anti-Quarantine Protests, Denies They're Astroturf
Topic: Media Research Center

As with anything that could possibly help President Trump and hurt those it deems "liberal," the Media Research Center was quick to defend the honor of right-wing anti-quarantine protests, and it's absolutely denying that they weren't willed into beingb by shadowy groups instead of being grassroots. Nicholas Fondacaro engaged in some serious anti-"elite" elitism in an April 19 post:

As media elitists, their jobs were safe and they could easily work from home. But during their Sunday morning newscasts, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Sunday Today, chided and cast aside the unemployed Americans taking to the streets as state stay-at-home orders left them in financial ruin. ABC even suggested their angry protests could be “AstroTurf” movements designed to embarrass Democrats, and NBC dismissed them because they were “not reflected” in the polls.

[...]

But [NBC correspondent Kathy Park] tossed them aside by saying they were not reflected in the polls. “These raw emotions are not reflected in a new Pew Research poll showing two-thirds of Americans are concerned the restrictions will be lifted too quickly,” she declared.

Logic would tell you that that’s because a majority weren’t hit particularly hard by the economic downturn and lost their jobs. With some estimated figures suggesting the unemployment rate was somewhere in the teens, they should be listened to in some way. Yet, on ABC, they did a lot to throw these hurting people away.

Clay Waters complained that the New York Times "praised Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer after her gross bureaucratic overreach in fighting the spread of the coronavirus led to protests at the state capitol." He grumbled that "The reporters leveraged exaggerated social media reports to dismiss concerns of government overreach as "misinformation" and that they made "a shameless play to race concerns" by accurately noting that there were Confederate battle flags at the protest. Water tried to spin that last part away: "How many Confederate battle flags were there? Well, NBC found at least...two."

Isn't that about two more Confederate battle flags than there ought to be?

Scott Whitlock echoed Fondacaro:

CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny really wants you to know that protests about reopening the government are “not organic.” Zeleny described them this way three times on Sunday night, telling Don Lemon, “there's no question these are not organic protests..”

He then compared the Michigan rallies to the dreaded Tea Party: “As they began to spread across the country, it was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition which was essentially an early group that organized the Tea Party movement. We're really almost a decade ago.”

Seemingly trying to have it both ways, he continued, “But, Don, the reality is these are not organic protests. That doesn't necessarily take away the anger the real anger.”

The MRC will not tell you, however, that many of these protests are, in fact, astrotrurf and ginned up by right-wing agitators.The Washington Post documented the well-funded network of conservative activists led by the Mercer family -- as it so happens, the same family that is the single greatest source of funding for the MRC. Another right-wing group linked to Trump education secretary Betsy DeVos is organizing other protests.

The MRC is historically bad about correcting the record about claims it makes that turn out to be false. Don't expect any corrections or apologies here.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:29 PM EDT
AIM Roots for The Media To Die To ... Save It?
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media has pretty much fallen off the radar of the ConWeb, mostly by making itself irrelevant. AIM got rid of the main reason it became irrelevant -- Cliff Kincaid -- a few years back (though it has never publicly explained why its biggest-profile employee behind founder Reed Irvine departed the organization), but since then it's been adrift, with Reed's grandson Spencer Irvine getting drafted into pumping out (decidedly lame) content and hiring a guy from the malicioius and credibility-challenged Project Veritas to try and create some buzz.

Right now, AIM is trying out that old, sad staple, the online petition. A couple weeks ago, it posted an item asking readers to "Take a stand against the media bailout!" The tepid argument:

Last week, a coalition of media companies wrote to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader McConnell asking for a bailout. 

These industry groups are so upset that we’re not supporting the mainstream media that they’d like to use the power of government to take our cash by force. 

Saving the media would destroy the media.

Americans could never trust journalists to accurately cover the elected officials who voted against their funding. 

Journalism is essential in a free society, but many of today’s journalists do a poor job of educating the public. They focus on lies and smears rather than facts and details.

Unpopular news outlets should be allowed to fail so that they might be replaced by better news outlets. There’s no reason to prop up media companies that Americans do not support.

I oppose any media bailout.

"Saving the media would destroy the media"? That's some twisted logic right there.It reeks of the "we had to destroy the village to save it" attitude that became notorious during the Vietnam War.

Meanwhile, the concept that "Unpopular news outlets should be allowed to fail so that they might be replaced by better news outlets" has never been followed by the conservative media, which has used deep-pocketed conservative financiers (Sun Myung Moon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Rupert Murdoch, et al) to prop up conservative newspapers that would have never survived had the owners let the market decide, even when the newspaper industry was doing well. We doubt that AIM was arguing for market forces to work their magic then.

Like any good right-wing, pro-Trump group, AIM simply wants to destroy the media it doesn't like and doesn't actually care about the consequences. Railing against a media bailout with a meaningless online petition is more about appealing to what little right-wing base it has rather than any reasoned considerations.


Posted by Terry K. at 5:37 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2020 5:38 PM EDT
NEW ARTICLE: The Refugee Racket At CNS
Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com has spent years freaking about the number of Muslim refugees admitted into the U.S., particularly under President Obama -- but largely censored the fact that the total number of Christian refugees has always been higher. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 AM EDT
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Questioning Trump Makes Weijia Jiang An Enemy Of The MRC
Topic: Media Research Center

Joining Jim Acosta, Yamiche Alcindor and Peter Alexander on the Media Research Center's enemies list for asking tough questions at coronavirus press briefing that send President Trump into a rage -- not that the MRC would ever describe it that way -- is CBS White House correspondent Weijia Jiang.

On April 3, Curtis Houck complained that Trump moved from the "manufactured nonsense" of Acosta to Jiang (needless bolding in original):

Jiang came four questions later and wondered why senior adviser Jared Kushner referred on Thursday to “the federal stockpile” (containing Personal Protective Equipment and ventilators) as “our stock pile,” as if to suggest states wouldn’t have access.

Trump also diagnosed this attempt at creating controversy. Repeatedly groaning about her “gotcha” question, he explained that Kushner clearly meant the United States had access to it when he said “our,” but it would be dispersed at the federal government’s discretion.

Jiang didn’t accept his explanation, so the President called her out and moved on[.]

In fact, as Jiang pointed out in her questioning (per the transcript that Houck didn't otherwise quote from), Kushner served up a very different definition of the the national stockpile that what has been traditionally accepted, and after Kushner made his statement, the Department of Health and Human Services website page on the stockpile was altered to align with Kushner's new definition. But in Houck's eyes, Trump is perfect and Jiang is evil and biased for daring to question Dear Leader.

In an April 20 post, Houck showed how deeply he has drunk of the anti-media, pro-Trump Kool-Aid the MRC has on tap (more lovingly needless bolding in original):

During Sunday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, President Trump clashed with two usual suspects in CBS’s Weijia Jiang and CNN’s Jeremy Diamond after loaded, snarky questions on behalf of their fellow liberal media firefighters, acting with supposed bravery and perseverance.

Things ended poorly for both with the former being told to be “relax” and stop shouting and the latter being called “pathetic,” having questionable levels of brainpower, and working for a “fake news” network with “terrible ratings.”

Starting with Jiang, she sunk herself by fretting that while Trump expressed anger with China for not doing enough at the onset, many Americans are saying the exact same thing about you that you should have warned that the virus was spreading like wildfires through the month of February instead of holding rallies with thousands of people.”

“Why did you wait so long to warn them? And why did you not have social distancing until March 16,” Jiang added.

Eventually, Trump began by talking about the China travel ban, Jiang griped that it didn’t also ban American citizens.

[...]

Jiang continued to interject, so Trump told her to “keep your voice down, please.” Yikes.

Houck should have been saying that about Trump's embarrassing, hostile display, but he and the MRC can't get enough of Trump's embarrassing, hostile media-bashing. They share a fantasy world in which Trump is never wrong and the media is never right to challenge him.

They get paid well to push this partisan nonsense, and Houck's hyperbolic language and overenthusiastic bolding suggest he may be getting a thrill from it that borders on the sexual.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:42 PM EDT
WND, Western Journal Don't Understand How Journalism Works
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily published an April 11 article by Johnathan Jones of the Western Journal:

For a few minutes Thursday, a number of establishment media outlets reported the truth by accurately noting that Senate Democrats had blocked a Republican proposal to offer further assistance to small businesses during the coronavirus shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to pass a White House-backed $250 billion relief package aimed at helping small businesses Thursday by unanimous consent -- as most lawmakers are currently not in Washington.

Republicans sought to increase funding for the Paycheck Protection Program from $350 billion to $600 billion.

Democrats, seeking to add an additional $250 billion for pet projects and double the amount Republicans were seeking, made sure nothing got done.

[...]

Sadly, that all changed when, one by one, four news outlets updated their headlines to portray the failure in helping American workers as a bipartisan one -- thus absolving the Democrats of being held accountable for their obstructionism.

CNN covered the congressional news and published a story headlined "Democrats block GOP-led funding boost for small business aid program" at 10:36 a.m. Thursday.

By 11:15 am, the headline on the story was adjusted to read, "Senate at stalemate over more COVID-19 aid after Republicans and Democrats block competing proposals.”

[...]

Sadly, for a country in need of the truth, CNN wasn’t the only outlet that quickly reverted to reporting fake news after initially reporting the facts.

Bloomberg, NBC News and Politico all quickly followed CNN’s lead by updating their headlines regarding the Senate story in ways that portrayed Democrats in a better light.

[...]

For all of their blatant lies and sensational headlines meant to paint Republicans as the bad guys, CNN and the others couldn’t surrender to the truth for a single day.

Jones is so eager to dunk on the "liberal media" that he won't tell youthat the reason all these media outlets changed their headlines is that the story was updated. As CNN noted, after Democrats blocked the effort to boost Paycheck Protection Program funding, "Republicans blocked an alternative proposal put forward by Democrats" to create "additional funding for hospitals and state and local governments."

It's not "fake news" to acknowledge this development; it's reporting facts in context. Jones is the one who's the blatant liar here, and WND -- which puports to report news -- happily perpetrated his blatant lie.

Publishing such blatant lies isn't helping WND's continuing credibility issues.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:14 AM EDT
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Misplaced Priorities: MRC Sad That False Coronavirus Claims Are Getting 'Censored'
Topic: Media Research Center

It's a sign of the Media Research Center's failing war on social media -- and its decision to be a pro-Trump mouthpiece regarding medications he has promoted -- that it's mad at Twitter for blocking false claims regarding coronavirus and trying to make the right-wing luminaries who made those false claims into victims.

Corinne Weaver complained in a March 30 post:

Twitter was reportedly very eager to take down any tweets about hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus. But now that the FDA has approved the drug for the treatment of coronavirus, will Twitter restore some of the tweets it censored?

A tweet from President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani and another tweet from Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk were removed from Twitter on March 27. Both tweets talked about hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria. The treatment was recommended by Trump in a press conference. He said, “I sure as hell think we ought to give it a try.”

The FDA announced on March 29, 2020, that hydroxychloroquine was acceptable to treat coronavirus. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the drug was acceptable to administer to adults and teenagers.

Guiliani’s tweet said, “Hydroxychloroquine has been shown to have a 100% effective rate treating COVID-19. Yet Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is threatening doctors who prescribe it. If Trump is for something- Democrats are against it. They're okay with people dying if it means opposing Trump.” His tweet was in response to Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who challenged Trump in a press conference on March 26, 2020.

Kirk tweeted a similar sentiment. He said, “Fact: Hydroxychloroquine has been shown to have a 100% effective rate treating COVID-19[.] Yet Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is threatening doctors who prescribe it[.] If Trump is for something -- Democrats are against it[.] They’re ok with people dying if it means opposing Trump[.] SICK!”

Weaver misled about the nature of the FDA's approval of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. It was approved under an Emergency Use Authorization, which is used during public health emergencies to approve treatments without the rigorous testing normally required in the regular FDA approval process. Indeed, in the Politico article to which Weaver linked to tout the approval, HHS chief Alex Azar describes the medication as only "potential therapeutics," and it's noted that there is no serious evidence that hydroxychloroquine works against coronavirus.

Weaver made no effort to look into what Giuliani and Kirk were referring when their astroturf posts claimed that hydroxychloroquine had a "100% effective rate treating COVID-19." That's obviously false, and Weaver should have admitted it. Instead, she played whataboutism, bizarrely complaining that "New York Times contributor and University of North Carolina professor Zeynep Tufekci said that the CDC and the World Health Organization misinformed the public."

The next day, Heather Moon joined the complaint parade:

Fox News host Laura Ingraham ran afoul of Twitter’s new Coronavirus rules, and was punished for it.

Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) tweeted: "Lenox Hill in New York among many hospitals already using Hydroxychloroquine with very promising results. One patient was described as ‘Lazarus’ who was seriously ill from Covid-19, already released." Ten days later, on March 30, Twitter demanded that tweet be removed.

A Twitter spokesperson explained that the tweet was removed due to a violation of its new policy regarding tweeting about COVID-19.

In the very next paragraph, though, Moon conceded that Twitter might have a case for removing Ingraham's tweet, noting that "A Fox News story about the Ingraham segment that this tweet referred to does carry a correction that the guest does not work for Lenox Hill and that his views are his own." Moon didn't mention that Ingraham was the one who falsely represented the "guest" as being employed by Lenox Hill Hospital.

Moon followed in Weaver's footsteps by declaring that "It is also the case that the FDA approved the treatment on March 29, the day before Twitter demanded that the 10-day-old tweet be removed." Of course, Moon didn't explain that the approval was for emergency use and was not an endorsement of its efficacy; instead, she huffed: "There are critics who do not believe that the FDA should have issued the emergency approval for the treatment without more rigorous testing. Could it be that Twitter is siding with critics over the FDA instead of allowing for a discussion from both sides of the argument?"

There isn't an "argument" here about which we need to hear "both sides" -- either the medication works, or it doesn't. Unsubstantiated anectodal claims are not the same as serious medical research. But then, facts aren't the point here;as with everything else the MRC does, adhering to Trump talking points is the only thing that matters.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:42 PM EDT
CNS Forgets It Promoted Dr. Drew's Bogus Coronavirus Claim
Topic: CNSNews.com

On March 3, CNSNews.com managing editor Michael W. Chapman devoted an article to touting how Dr. Drew Pinsky, M.D., said the liberal media are "over-reacting" to coronavirus, do not know how to report on it, and have created a 'hysteria,'" and that "the measures taken by President Trump, the CDC, and Dr. Anthony Fauci are 'appropriate' and should be heeded." Chapman added how Pinsky dismissed coronavirus as little more than the flu:

On Feb. 27, in a follow-up interview, Sam Schacher spoke with Dr. Drew on the telephone and asked if he was still as passionate about his view on the coronavirus. 

Dr. Drew said, "Well, let me frame it this way:  we have in the United States 24 million cases of flu-like illness, 180,000 hospitalizations, 16,000 dead from influenza. Why is that not being reported? Why isn’t the message: get your flu shot?"

Chapman quietly added that Pinsky is "a specialist in addictive medicine, and a popular TV personality," though he didn't mention that this gives him no particular expertise on virology, which is where coronavirus study is concentrated.

A month later, CNS finally did some clean-up work for Dr. Drew. An April 6 article by Craig Bannister featured Pinsky's walkback on the whole coronavirus-is-the-flu thing:

Dr. Drew Pinsky, M.D. is apologizing for understating the coronavirus threat by previously comparing it to influenza.

“I was wrong about comparing influenza and coronavirus,” Dr. Drew says in a video apology posted on his Twitter page. Dr. Drew repeatedly owns up to his mistake and apologizes, adding that he has now embraced “the aggressive measures” advocated by the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the Trump Administration:

[...]

Dr. Drew says that he “adjusted course” when Dr. Fauci declared that the coronavirus is much worse than the typical flu. Now, Dr. Drew says, he’s wearing a mask and adhering to the recommended precautions – and, “It’s paying dividends”:

Curiously, Bannister didn't mention that his boss promoted Dr. Drew's previous coronavirus-is-the-flu assertions a month earlier. Further, Chapman's article is still live and uncorrected on the CNS website.

This is perhaps not the best say to demonstrate journalistic accountability at a "news" operation. Certainly CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, would be relentlessly attacking a "liberal media" outlet if it did the same thing.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:29 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 12:30 AM EDT
Monday, April 20, 2020
Questioning Trump Makes Jim Acosta An Enemy Of The MRC
Topic: Media Research Center

We've already documented how the Media Research is so in thrall to President Trump that it has embarrassingly gushed over Trump's needless bashing of PBS' Yamiche Alcindor and NBC's Peter Alexander during his daily briefings that osensibly about the coronavirus. But there's plenty more where that came from.

Curtis Houck got particularly worked up when Trump attacked his favorite enemy, CNN's Jim Acosta. "Trump NUKES Acosta for ‘Nasty, Snarky Question’ Looking Back, Not Forward on Virus" Houck screeched in his headline, and the post contained more of the Acosta Derangement Syndrome Houck is known for:

On Monday, CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta stepped back in the ring for Monday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force daily briefing and, as usual, he made a fool out of himself.

Fortunately for our collective sanity, the ordeal lasted less than two minutes and ended with President Trump torching Fake News Jim for his “nasty, snarky question” about the President’s past statements at what was then a disturbing but evolving pandemic.

[...]

The President didn’t initially fire Acosta into the sun. Instead, he chose to answer the question, noting that he still does believe the coronavirus will go away, that Americans should “stay calm,” and that everyone’s “doing a great job.”

“[W]e're going to have a great victory and it's people like you and CNN that say things like that, that it's why people just don't want to listen to CNN anymore. You could ask a normal question,” Trump added.

Taking a jab at the wider notion of intentionally causing panic (e.g. much of CNN’s coverage), the President quipped that, if he wanted to, he “could cause panic much better than even you” that’d make the CNN carnivalbarker “look like a minor league player.”

It's indicative of the MRC's highly skewed sense of politics that Houck dropped a reference to "Real Clear Politics White House correspondent Philip Wegmann (who’s a real reporter)" -- never mind that Weghmann has a history of writing for biased conservative outlets such as the Daily Signal and the Washington Examiner and is very much a conservative operative, having received the 2018-19 Tony Blankley Fellowship for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism from the conservative Steamboat Institute. Blankley was the onetime editorial page editor for the conservative Washington Times.

Houck served up more Acosta derangement -- and held tight to pro-Trump talking points -- in an April 3 post:

Acosta inquired at 6:03 p.m. Eastern about the whereabouts of the NIH’s Dr. Tony Fauci, likely seeking to follow up on a CNN report flashing as a chyron during the briefing that Fauci had been purposefully sidelined from appearing.

Trump clearly sensed what Acosta was up to and promptly drove a stake through the heart of the manufactured tension, lamenting that “every time you ask a question,” reporters think there’s “a problem.” In reality, Trump replied that there’s “no problem” and< “we’re doing great together.”

Fake News Jim gave up and asked if he could change subjects, which Trump quipped: “We're covering a different subject? Okay, go ahead, Jim. Try another one.”

Acosta used his second chance to further ram down our throats the media-fed notion that the Trump administration’s failures to deal with the pandemic date back at least a year.

[...]

Get work, Jim. Trying to place blame on the U.S. when the blame should belong to China (and only China).

Houck further showed that Acosta lives rent-free inside his headby dedicated yet another post to Trump unable to handle Acosta's questioning (not that Houck would ever admit that of course), pervertsely proud that he could violent metaphors that Trump "nuked" and "obiterated" Acosta:

It was Good Friday, but the White House Briefing Room saw quite the duel when President Trump nuked CNN chief White House correspondent and opposition party figure Jim Acosta for taking issue with what he felt was too much hope and optimism amidst the coronavirus pandemic and not enough negativity.

At one point, the President obliterated Acosta with the seemingly obvious, which is that these briefings are “not happy talk” “sad talk” and “the saddest news conferences that I’ve ever had” because “this is the real deal” having to deal with matters of life and death.

Starting at the beginning, Acosta started not with a question but an opinion that CNN “hear[s] from a lot of people who see these briefings as sort of a happy talk briefings” and that really no hospital or state has even close to what it needs.

Trump asked for names and when Acosta couldn’t answer after a tense back-and-forth, Trump called CNN’s coverage “fake news” to Acosta’s dismay. Trump added that of course Acosta’s hearing nothing but negativity because guests “always say that because otherwise you're not going to put them on.”

The President then turned on the afterburners, trashing Acosta’s nonsense and putting in perspective how difficult this has been and will continue to be, including the fact that “this is the real deal” and finding the safest time to reopen the economy will be “by far the biggest decision of my life”[.]

Houck also inserted pro-Trump talking points here too, declaring that "Obviously, Trump said he would listen to [experts], but he had to repeat it over and over so as to debunk the liberal media notion that Trump would put money over lives."

Houck's Acosta obsession continued even when he didn't appear at the briefing. In a April 14 post, Houck sneered that Acosta is a "liberal hack" for pointing out Trump's obvious distractions from criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and self-aggrandizationabout his performance that was so blatant that Acosta called him "Baghdad Bob"-- which, of course, only served to incense Houck even more, actually claiming that he had "sided with communist China" by pointing out Trump's distractions.

That's the state of "media research" at the MRC these days -- if you don't hand out unquestioning praise of Trump, you're a dirty commie.


Posted by Terry K. at 7:54 PM EDT
WND's Favorite Failed Politician Laments The Death Of Expertise (To Which He Contributed)
Topic: WorldNetDaily

You might remember Art Robinson as a favorite of WorldNetDaily, where managing editor David Kupelian has repeatedly endorsed his repeated runs for Congress in Oregon -- in which he has been repeatedly stomped by Democratic incumbent Peter DeFazio (16 percentage points in 2018 alone). Robinson seems to have finally gotten the message; after having lost five times in a row to DeFazio, he started a sixth run only to abandon it last month and run instead for a seat in the Oregon state senate.

The reason we bring this up now is that Robinson wrote an April 3 WND column complaining that, as a scientist, scientific expertise has become devalued. Not by conseratives, of course, even though no less than President Trump has attacked the very idea of expertise; rather, "politico's [sic] have hijacked our name – "scientist." They have used false 'facts' that they say are 'scientific' to generate fear with which to manipulate voters."

The climate denier Robinson suggested that scientists backing the idea of climate change are the ones who are devaluating the idea of scientific expertise. he went on to grouse:

When we put "scientist" on our campaign flier, we were thinking of doing a public service by correcting some of these lies in the minds of our state legislators. We are thinking of true facts about the physical world. Yet, many voters are suspicious. People calling themselves scientists have been insisting that those voters live in ways that they do not want to live – and probably should not live.

There are now three political classes of "scientists" (based on their formal college degrees) having opinions on "climate change."

Most scientists belong to a group that avoids any comment at all. They do not want to have their careers and work endangered by this controversy. There is a second much smaller group that argues publicly against the false statements about climate that are being made to manipulate the voters with fear.

And, there is a third group (the smallest of all) that promotes false statements about climate change for notoriety and personal and professional gain, taking tax-financed grants and other perks. The socialist media promote this group.

We were able to convince 31,000 scientists from the first two groups to sign our mail petition against the false representations of the third group – in order to negate their claim of a "scientific consensus" in their favor. Scientific truths are not determined by polling.

Yeah, about that petition ... as we've pointed out, only a handful of its signatories have any demonstrated expertise in the relevant discipline of climate science, and the total number of signatories -- which hasn't grown much, if at all, in years -- is a miniscule fraction of people who have science degrees.

One could argue Robinson is the one who's cheapening the value of science by trying to turn it into a political issue through invoking it on a politically driven petition.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 2:26 PM EDT
Sunday, April 19, 2020
MRC Takes A Ride On Trump's Chloroquine Train
Topic: Media Research Center

When President Trump began hyping chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as possible treatments for coronavirus -- even though its alleged benefits have yet to be proven beyond unscientific anecdotes -- it was sadly predictable that the pro-Trump echo chamber that is the Media Research Center would quickly clamber about the chloroquine train and attack anyone who points out the inconvenient fact that research is lacking on its efficacy against coronavirus.

Alex Christy complained that MSNBC's  Rachel Maddow "accused Trump of spreading misinformation and false hope" by pushing the scientifically unproven drug," further spinning: "Maddow was technically correct that the FDA has not approved the drug for coronavirus treatment, but she misled her own viewers when she accused Trump of spreading misinformation, because it wasn't that simple."

Tim Graham proclaimed that anyone who criticized Trump's aggressive pushing of an unproven drug, like CNN's Brian Stelter, was squashing hope:

Hydroxychloroquine offers hope that some coronavirus cases will avoid going down the dark road to long, scary hospital stays with end-stage trauma with ventilators. As Trump said in his "dangerous" talk, he wants to do whatever keeps patients off ventilators. Many Americans would prefer little suggestions of hope, or good news to come. It's obvious CNN just wants everyone perennially angry that Trump is president.

The talking point of Trump as the Reaganesque purveyor of hope was picked up by Kristine Marsh, who grumbled that "ABC spent Tuesday morning ripping President Trump for expressing hope about a promising drug shown to help patients fighting COVID-19.

Joseph Vazquez complained:

Leave it to The New York Times economist Paul Krugman to continue to infuse his wacky partisan theories into an ongoing pandemic.

Krugman retweeted lefty CNN Analyst Keith Boykin’s one-sided quip over Assistant to the President and economist Peter Navarro and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s reported dispute concerning the efficacy of the hydroxychloroquine drug. Krugman then used the story to spew nonsensical hyperbole attacking conservatives. He babbled, “May be relevant to note that there is a long, close association between right-wing activism and medical quackery.”

Vazquez, however, didn't dispute Krugman's "babbling" about the association between right-wing activism and medical quackery, even as he quoted from Krugman.

Nicholas Fondacaro contributed as well, clinging to the "Wuhan virus" moniker to describe coronavirus that even Trump has abandoned while grousing that "the evening newscasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC have spotlighted and hyped all sorts of possible treatments for the deadly virus, including treatments that wouldn’t be ready for months" while "bashing antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which was promoted by the President and had strong anecdotal evidence that it was effective.

Graham ultimately took the cake, however, embarrassing himself by proclaiming hydroxycholorquine to be Trump's personal "miracle drug":

As many liberal journalists suggest Fox News Channel should be sued for discouraging people from taking the coronavirus seriously and endangering lives, Fox News is offering hopeful stories that almost every liberal outlet refuses to touch.

Take Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett, a Democrat from Detroit, who came down the coronavirus, and credits her doctor prescribing hydroxychloroquine – and President Trump touting the anti-malarial drug on TV – for saving her life. Whitsett told her story onThe Ingraham Angle on Monday night.

Even after that appearance, there has been nothing on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, and PBS. Associated Press, The New York Times, and The Washington Post were also AWOL.

Graham doesn't seem to understand that Ingraham is a highly biased Fox News host who was looking to exploit a woman's illness to support her favorite president.

The MRC also rushed to distance Trump from a couple that had taken a poisonous aquarium cleaner that contained a form of chloroquine, one of whom died. Drennen claimed one reporter's "top priority was finding a way to hold Trump responsible," declaring, "At no point and in no way did the President ever recommend, suggest or imply that anyone should ingest fish medication to prevent COVID-19 infection. When the New York Times accurately reported that he couple had ingested a "form of chloroquine," Clay Waters huffed: "A 'form of chloroquine'? The couple ingested fish tank cleaner. The death can hardly be laid at Trump’s feet."


Posted by Terry K. at 9:59 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 22, 2020 12:01 AM EDT

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