Blatant Headline (And Reporting) Bias at CNS Topic: CNSNews.com
As we've noted, CNSNews.com is effectively the Media Research Center in inverted-pyramid "news" form.CNS helpfully provided a blatant example of its right-wing bias by playing these two headlines side by side for easy screencapping:
The bias extends to the articles themselves. Susan Jones begins her biased article on Clinton this way:
At Monday night's presidential debate, Democrat Hillary Clinton embraced climate change as the crux of her job-creation plan.
"Take clean energy," she said. "Some country is going to be the clean-energy superpower of the 21st century. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real."
"I think the science is real," Clinton repeated. "And I think it's important that we grip this and deal with it, both at home and abroad. And here's what we can do. We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That's a lot of jobs; that's a lot of new economic activity.
In fact, according to the clip accompanying Jones article, at no point did Clinton claim that climate change was "the crux of her job-creation plan" -- it was an example she cited from her overall economic plan as a response to one question. Later on, Jones does concede that Clinton also said her economic plan includes "jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean, renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business."
Jones also wrote the article on Trump. But in contrast to her Clinton-focused article -- in which she devotes eight of her article's 18 paragraphs to Trump countering Clinton's claims -- only three of this article's 16 paragraphs quote Clinton countering Trump's claims.
Isn't this the kind of media bias the MRC was founded to fight when it comes from the "liberal media"? Apparently, there's no swuch thing as right-wing media bias, which gives people like Jones free rein to
CNS' Starr Whitewashes Benham Brothers' Extremist Views Again Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com reporter Penny Starr is an apologist for the right-wing Benham brothers who likes to whitewash the extremity of their anti-gay views.
Starr does this again in a Sept. 13 CNS article giving themspace to baselessly rant that "if one disagrees with the 'sexual revolution' in Hollywood that promotes homosexuality and same-sex marriage they will be 'persecuted.'"She adds that the Benham's planned house-flipping reality show was canceled "after their stance on abortion was revealed and that they supported traditional marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
In fact, the Benhams are on record calling homosexuals "destructive," "vile," and controlled by "demonic forces," and they have said that Satan is behind gay marriage. As for abortion, the brothers are the sons of notorious anti-abortion activist Flip Benham, who was convicted of stalking an abortion doctor and effectively condoning calls for their murders. The brothers have never distanced themselves from their father's views and tactics, as far as we know.
Those are not mainstream views -- they are fringe, hostile and potentially threatening and violent. Starr is being dishonest to her readers by pretending otherwise.
CNS Maliciously Attacks Obama As Insensitive By Not Speaking Publicly on Weekend Attacks Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com serves up a particularly odious bit of Obama derangement in the form of a Sept. 19 article by Susan Jones portraying Obama as, at best, callous and insensitive to the detonation of a bomb in New York and other violent incidents over the weekend and, at worst, celebrating them.
Jones' article has the out-of-context headline "Obama Tells Black Lawmakers, 'There's an Extra Spring in My Step Tonight'," which -- precisely because it's placed there devoid of context -- suggests that Obama is saying the spring in his step is because of the weekend's incidents.
Jones then maliciously frames Obama's speech to the Congressional Black Caucus as insensitive to the weekend's events:
As of early Monday morning, President Obama had made no public comment on a series of weekend bombings, attempted bombings and stabbings in three states, but he did make time to address a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner Saturday night and a Democrat fundraiser Sunday night.
At Saturday's event, Obama thanked the assembled guests, then joked: "There’s an extra spring in my step tonight. I don't know about you guys, but I am so relieved that the whole birther thing is over.
"I mean, ISIL, North Korea, poverty, climate change -- none of those things weighed on my mind -- (laughter) -- like the validity of my birth certificate. (Laughter.)
Jones then complained that "all three attacks had happened by the time Obama attended a Democrat fundraiser in New York on Sunday night, and a transcript shows he made no comment on the attacks at that event. A fourth attempted attack, on a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was discovered after Obama had left the fundraiser."
Indeed, portraying Obama as deliberately ignoring the weekend's events was Jones' directive and obsession this morning. She quickly followed up two hours later with an article whining that White House spokesman Josh Earnest didn't commit to a time that Obama would speak on the events of the weekend, emphasizing that "As of Monday morning, Obama has made no public comment on the series of bombings and stabbings in three states -- Minnesota, New York and New Jersey -- that took place on Saturday and Sunday."
In neither article does explain when Obama should have spoken on the weekend's events, given that few details were available immediately after they happened.
This is just sleazy Obama derangement at its worst, from a right-wing "news" outlet trying to score cheap political points after a potentially tragic event. Jones and her bosses Terry Jeffrey and Michael W. Chapman, should be ashamed.
UPDATE: Obama spoke about the weekend incidents later in the morning. Jones did not consider this newsworthy enough to write about story about, despite the fact that she wrote two articles complainingthat Obama was too slow to speak out. And even though CNS considered Jones' articles worthy of the front page, Obama's statement did not appear there in any form.
CNS Hints At Pushing Zika Conspiracy Topic: CNSNews.com
We've noted how medical misinformer Jane Orient of the far-right-fringe Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has been pushing the idea that the Zika virus really isn't anything to worry about by insisting without credible evidence that Zika is hardly to blame for birth defects. It seems that CNSNews.com wants to further that conspiracy.
In a Sept. 8 CNS article, Penny Starr complains that "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are collecting data on women who are pregnant and infected with the Zika virus and the number of children born with birth defects, but they are not reporting the number of children born from virus-infected mothers who have no birth defects." Starr seems a bit annoyed at this:
CNSNews.com asked the CDC if it could provide the number of children from mothers infected with the virus who were born without birth defects.
A spokesman responded that the voluntary “registry” created by the CDC does not track those babies.
“We are only reporting the number of pregnant women in the registry and [the] number of adverse outcomes,” the spokesman said via email. “Bottom line is we're not reporting other outcomes because we are just beginning to understand the full spectrum of adverse outcomes associated with Zika infection in pregnancy.
“The decision was made to only report [the] number of pregnancies and adverse outcomes at this point,” the spokesman said.
Starr then cited a study showing that "12,000 Zika-infected women gave birth to children without microcephaly" in Colombia, but also that there is "an impending microcephaly epidemic in Colombia" due to Zika.
This was followed by Starr citing the tabloid TV show "Inside Edition" about a baby born to a Zika-infected mother taht didn't have microcephaly but appears to have other signs that the virus has affected the baby.
Starr seems to be following in Orient's steps in downplaying the threat of Zika, even though all the risks and consequences of the virus aren't known yet. Since Starr is an anti-abortion activist, we can assume that her story is linked to, or inspired by, the fight over a federal bill to fight Zika that's being held up in part because Republicans inserted a clause that prohibits funding from the bill to Planned Parenthood (though Starr doesn't mention the battle in her article).
Because if Zika doesn't really harm fetuses, there's no need to fund Planned Parenthood because (in Starr's mind) the only possible thing they would want to do is an abortion. That's how the right-wing mind works.
CNS Still Plugging Mel Gibson, Hiding His Ugly Past Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com "blog reporter" Mark Judge must really love Mel Gibson a lot to censor news of his anti-Semitic, woman hating past.
We'vedetailed how Judge makes a habit of promoting Gibson's new and upcoming film projects while remaining silent about Gibson's ugly personal history -- something his Media Research Center co-workers would criticize if it involved someone in the "liberal media." But Gibson made "The Passion of the Christ," so he apparently gets a free pass.
The Christian Post is reporting that Mel Gibson recently addressed rumors that he is making a sequel to his 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ.”
Appearing Sunday as a surprise guest at the Christian gathering SoCal Harvest in Anaheim, California, Gibson was asked by Pastor Greg Laurie about the rumors of a sequel – and that the film would be written by Randall Wallace, who also penned Gibson’s Oscar-winning epic “Braveheart.”
Once again, there's no mention of Gibson's ugly past. But Judge made sure to work in a plug for Gibson's "upcoming film 'Hacksaw Ridge' about Desmond Doss, a pacifist medic in World War II who saved as many as 75 soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa. It releases November 4."
CNSNews.com keeps up the unemployment shuffle in reporting on August's employment numbers, with the lead article by Susan Jones once again putting undue emphasis on the labor force partcipation rate and using it to declare there was "little or no improvement from the prior month" -- while burying the fact that 151,000 jobs were created, waiting until the fifth paragraph of her article to mention that fact.
Jones' article is joined by a sidebar from CNS editor in chief Terry Jeffrey, who laments that "Government employees in the United States outnumber manufacturing employees by 9,932,000." He does concede, however, that this is not a new phenomenon -- government employees started exceeding manufacturing employment in 1989 -- but he doesn't concede that this has occured under Republican administrations as well as Democratic ones.
A couple days before the government numbers came out, however, CNS managing editor Michael W. Chapman wrote an article with a headline declaring, "Real Unemployment 9.7%." The "real employment" number Chapman is promoting is from Gallup, which claims that "Widely reported unemployment metrics in the U.S. do not accurately represent the reality of joblessness in America."
But as pollster John Zogby points out, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton is using the "real employment" number to push the idea that the government's numbers are nothing but a "big lie." That thinking is in line with the right-wing media, which has similarly tried to undermine unemployment statistics.
Indeed, Donald Trump has followed in CNS' footsteps by falsely potraying the labor force participation rate as the unemployment rate.
At CNS, Another Op-Ed From A Dead Guy Topic: CNSNews.com
A couple weeks back, we noticed that CNSNews.com had made Watergate criminal Chuck Colson a semi-regular bylined columnist, not letting the fact that he died in 2012 stand in his way of getting published.
Well, CNS let Dead Chuck Colson write another column on Aug. 26. It was introduced as a "classic BreakPoint commentary" and it's parenthetically noted at the end that "This commentary originally aired June 30, 2010."
Nowhere is it mentioned, however, that Colson died four years ago.
We can't decide whether Colson is CNS' Bernie or the character in "Space Mutiny" who just couldn't stay dead. Any thoughts on the matter, CNS?
CNS Columnist Brings Back 'Demographic Winter' Topic: CNSNews.com
Several years back, we wrote about the ConWeb's focus over what they called "demographic winter" -- veiled racism that effectively boiled down to the concern that white Christians weren't having enough babies and brown Muslims were having too many. It was rarely put in those terms, of course; it's usually framed as "Western countries" having their "traditional values" squeezed out by "immigrants."
Well, CNSNews.com has brought it back with an Aug. 19 column by John Stonestreet. He engages in the usual eupemistic language as his headline shows: "America’s Looming Demographic Winter: Can We Avoid a Fertility Free Fall?" He does change things up, however, by throwing Japan and China into the discussion, but he makes it clear he's worried mostly about Christians' apparent failure to procreate:
Which brings me to what Christians should think about this: As my colleague Warren Cole Smith points out, the solution is obvious: Start making babies again. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s good for America. And it brings great joy!
But you might be surprised at how resistant many Christians are, including young people, to this counsel. Twice this summer, I’ve made students cry just by suggesting that marriage and babies are biblically a package deal. Though Christians disagree about the morality of artificial birth control, we should agree that the contraceptive mindset, which treats children as optional only if we want them, runs contrary to God’s intention for marriage.
The demographic winter is coming. In fact, the first snows have already fallen. Will we make what is already “disaster” even worse?
Stonestreet's implied but unspoken subetxt: Non-Christians in the U.S. should perhaps be breeding less.
Chuck Colson Sure Writes A Lot of CNS Columns for A Dead Guy Topic: CNSNews.com
Since the end of 2015, Chuck Colson has written five bylined op-eds for CNSNews.com, the most recent being on Aug. 5. CNS' bio for Colson tells us that he "founded BreakPoint in 1991, a daily radio broadcast that provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print"; it doesn't mention that he's a convicted felon from the Watergate scandal.
Another thing neither the bio nor the columns mention: Colson died in 2012.
While the columns do note that they are reprints, and one shares a byline with Eric Metaxas, who does the foiceover for the Breakpoint daily radio show, they do not note why they are reprints: Colson isn't around to offer original material.
CNS regularly publishes Breakpoint-affiliated writers like Metaxas and John Stonestreet, so it's not surprising that it would dig into the Colson archives. But let's not pretend the guy is still alive and cranking out the content -- dead men should get no bylines.
Just an odd bit of dishonesty that raises questions about CNS' actual commitment to journalism.
CNS Promotes Another Mel Gibson Project While Hiding His Ugly Personal History Topic: CNSNews.com
In June, CNSNews.com's Mark Judge was waxing enthusiastic at the idea that Mel Gibson is planning a sequel to "The Passion of the Christ." Now, Judge is back again to plug another Gibson project in a July 29 CNS blog post:
Lions Gate has just released a trailer for “Hacksaw Ridge,” the forthcoming film directed by Mel Gibson. It tells the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), a conscientious objector who served in World War II by rescuing wounded soldiers. In Okinawa Doss saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun.
The film follows Doss from his childhood in Lynchburg, Virginia to the battlefield on Okinawa. According to Time magazine, “His love story with a local nurse (because Hollywood) and his Christian faith (because Mel Gibson) feature prominently.”
"Hacksaw Ridge" opens November 4.
Just as he did in his earlier post, Judge makes no mention of Gibson's ugly personal history, which includes anti-Semitism and verbal abuse of a ex-mistress.
Why bring this up? Because the Media Research Center has a blatant double standard when it comes to mentioning unflattering past activities. Most recently, the MRC's Kristine Marsh complained on Aug. 10 that CNN's Brian Stelter quoted Dan Rather while not mentioning "his botched attempt to create a scandal surrounding then-sitting President George W. Bush as the election loomed a scant few months away."
"Reversing Rather’s reputation seems to be one of the media’s priorities in recent months," Marsh grumbled. But it seems CNS and the MRC are trying to fix Gibson's reputation by uncritically promoting his new film projects.
CNS isn't anone, though: Accuracy in Media's Specer Irvine also plugged the trailer for Gibson's new movie while also omitting any mention of his ugly past.
CNS In Promo Mode For New 'Ben-Hur' Film Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com has moved from being the PR shop for Judicial Watch to movie promotion. Specifically, the upcoming remake of "Ben-Hur."
Now, Newsmax had already been promoting the film (while forgetting that it had been made into movies before the 1959 epic version), while noting that the film's producers "have been screening the movie for influential Christian leaders" to try and counter the negative buzz that had been surrounding the film.
One of those was the Media Rsearch Center's Brent Bozell, who declared in an Aug. 4 tweet: "I've previewed the remake of Ben-Hur. It is AMAZING. August 19. A definite must-see." He followed that with another tweet saying basically the same thing: "Encouraging everyone I know to check out the #BenHur remake August 19. I went to a screening last week. Fantastic!"
Apparently, those tweets were the marching orders for the MRC to plug the film. On Aug. 8, the Twitter accounts of CNS, NewsBusters, MRCTV, MRC Culture, the MRC's Business and Media account and the main MRC account all sent out the exact same message: "A must see film! Check out the new Ben Hur movie," accompanied by a link to the film's trailer.
CNS, which parades as the "news" division of the MRC, is takingthe whole promo thing to the next level. An Aug. 15 article by Mark Judge dutifully transcribes the producers' praise of their own film:
This is not you grandfather’s "Ben-Hur."
That’s the message from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, the producers of “Ben-Hur,” a new version of the 1959 film classic. Both movies are based on the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace.
“It was a great movie in ’59,” Burnett told CNSNews.com in a recent interview, “and it’s about time to update 55 years later. We reimagined changes from the original film where instead of a movie about revenge this movie is about reconciliation and forgiveness - and it still has a huge chariot race scene and a sea battle scene. So it provides all the values that theatergoers are expecting. In it Judah Ben-Hur encounters Jesus, and those encounters give him the understanding to forgive and teach him how to reconcile rather than seek revenge.”
Judge shills further in an Aug. 17 article, hammering home the film's religious content:
In a recent interview with the Christian Post, Jack Huston, star of the new film “Ben-Hur,” talked about the power of a particular scene in the film. In it, Ben-Hur, a Jew living in Jerusalem in 33 A.D., witnesses the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Prior to witnessing Christ, Ben-Hur had been in a years-long bloody feud with his brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), a Roman soldier.
“That was very emotional actually,” Huston told Jeannie Law about the scene. “The actual act is very effective, the crucifixion that is followed by forgiveness, everyone was affected up there on that mountain.”
Needless to say, Judge had no interest in doing factual reporting pointing out the film's continued bad buzz. Variety reports that "The $100 million Biblical epic is battling devastating pre-release tracking that suggests the story of a prince who is betrayed by a Roman nobleman may be one of the year’s most painful flops," with a projected opening weekend take between $10 million and $20 million despite a wide release. Variety also noted how the film is being heavily promoted to faith-based audiences and that the makers "believe that the film and its story of redemption will be able to draw faith-based crowds, who may not be getting polled by tracking services."
UPDATE: Looks like the rest of the MRC is in full promotion mode for the film as well. An Aug. 17 item by Katie Yoder is basically an expanded version of Judge's CNS article on how the film's actors were "changed" by the shooting of the crucifixion scene.
Which brings up the question: Is the MRC getting paid for its fawning promotion of the film?
CNS Becomes the PR Division of Judicial Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
One way you know a news organization isn't really into news is its willingness to serve as a platform for the views of an ideological group.
CNSNews.com has chosen to do that for the right-wing legal group Judicial Watch. An Aug. 10 CNS article by Rachel Hoover is about how "The U.S. Department of Justice gave $342,168,401 in grant money to 10 “sanctuary” states and cities that shield illegal aliens, even violent ones, from deportation by refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials, according to a Judicial Watch report."
It's effectively a rewrite of a Judicial Watch blog post issued several days earlier. Nothing appears in Hoover's article that wasn't in the Judicial Watch post, and Hoover makes no apparent attempt to contact anyone to respond to Judicial Watch's accusations, which would seem to be a violation of the edict by her boss, Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell, that "The first rule of journalism is that if you don’t have two independent sources, you don’t have a news story." (She's done this before.)
Then, interestingly, just three hours after Hoover's article was published, CNS posted a column by Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton on the very same subject, ranting that "You and I are less safe on the streets these days because President Barack Obama and his Justice Department reward localities that openly break the law." Fitton actually reprints word-for-word much of the earlier blog post -- which, of course, was rewritten by Hoover for a "news" story.
The near-simultaneous timing of Hoover's "news" story and Fitton's column raises some questions. It certainly appears that CNS worked with Judicial Watch to coordinate its editorial content -- a collaboration with an outside organization that is usually frowned upon from an ethical standpoint.
Also curious is that Judicial Watch lists CNS on its list of apparently approved "sources." Granted, numerous other news organizations are also on the list, most of which are right-leaning like CNS, and there may not be any quid pro quo going on, But it's still brings up the seeming appearance of impropriety and the definite appearance of bias, which CNS doesn't admit it engages in, still insisting in its mission statement that it "endeavors to fairly present all legitimate sides of a story."
Then, on Aug. 12, CNS' Barbara Hollingsworth devoted an article to Fitton complaining that Congress won't investigate its politically motivated attacks on the Obama administration. Like Hoover, Hollingsworth doesn't bother to seek comment from anyone else about Fitton's work; indeed, she's so content to serve as a stenographer for Fitton that she devotes fully half her article to "a list of its major court filings" that "Judicial Watch provided CNSNews."
Nope, not a lot of balanced or independent reporting that fairly presents all legitimate sides of a story going on here.
CNS Concedes (Sorta) That Labor Participation Rate Is Meaningless As Unemployment Measure Topic: CNSNews.com
A few days ago, we published an article detailing how CNSNews.com is weirdly obsessed with presenting the labor force participation rate as a meaningful measure of unemployment, regularly refusing to admit the fact that the number covers millions of retirees and students who are not seeking employment and are thus not "unemployed" by any stretch of the imagination.
How conveniently coincidental, then, that the very next day after our article was published, CNS published an article by Susan Jones -- the author of many of those unemployment articles pushing the labor force participation rate -- admitting the rate includes mostly students and retirees who aren't looking for work.
But this being CNS, the article had to be written from an angle that echoes its right-wing agenda (which admitting it's wrong about treating the labor force participation rate as a meaningful measure of unemployment does not do). So Jones seizes on Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner Erica Groshen noting that the country's "safety net" plays a role in the labor force participation rate to highlight numbers of people on food stamps and Social Security disability.
Will Jones admit these facts about the labor force participation rate when she writes future articles obsessing about the number for new unemployment numbers? Or will she just push the "safety net" aspect of it? We shall see.
So even when it's reporting things accurately, CNS must put a right-wing spin on things. That's the very defintion of media bias, and it's sadly hilarious seeing it from the "news" division of a organization that purports to fight such bias.
CNS Lifts Story Idea, Headline From Liberal Website Topic: CNSNews.com
On Aug. 2, liberal-leaning watchdog group Right Wing Watch published an article on a 2001 speech by then-Rep. Mike Pence, now Donald Trump's running mate, proclaiming how Rush LImbaugh inspired his political career, under the headline "FLASHBACK: Mike Pence: 'It Is A Literal Truth... I Am In Congress Today Because Of Rush Limbaugh'."
On Aug. 11, CNSNews.com's Rachel Hoover did a blog post on the same subject, with a suspiciously similar headline:
While Hoover apparently cribbed from Right Wing Watch for her headline and subject matter, her article is different, uncritically repeating Pence's praise of Limbaugh while Right Wing Watch emphasized how Pence, like Trump's campaign, is a creation of right-wing radio.
Good to know CNS is getting content ideas from liberals.