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Monday, June 29, 2015
NEW ARTICLE: CNS' Barely Managing Editor
Topic: CNSNews.com
Michael W. Chapman is in charge of CNS' news operation, and he makes sure the news is extremely biased. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 6:38 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
A Letter to Terry Jeffrey
Topic: CNSNews.com

(ConWebWatch sent the following letter to Terry Jeffrey, CNSNews.com editor-in-chief. We'll let you know if we get a reply.)

Dear Mr. Jeffrey:

I read your June 22 CNS column asking whether an "outrageously provocative" photo of Ted Cruz issued by the Associated Press was an "accidental or deliberate" act. That inspired me to discuss a similar question with you as the head of your own news organization.

On May 16, CNS published an article (curiously credited only to "CNSNews.com Staff") about how President Obama is "marking the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia." Accompanying the photo is a three-year-old picture described as being taken from "The New York City Gay Pride Parade" featuring men dressed only in pink shorts.


Surely you cannot deny that the choice to use this photo with this story was "outrageously provocative." My question to you is: Was it accidental or deliberate? Was that intended to portray President Obama and gays in a negative light -- an argument you ridiculed when the AP invoked it in reaction to criticism of the Cruz photo?

You state that "There is nothing subtle about these photos" -- just as there is nothing subtle about the photo used with the ultimately declared that "It is not not reasonable to conclude these photos were produced and published by accident." Is it similarly unreasonable to conclude that CNS' choice of photo for the May 16 article is an accident as well?

Was the decision not to credit the May 16 article to a specific writer an effort by CNS to shield the writer from criticism for being associated with such an outrageously provocative act?

In permitting such an outrageously provocative act to be posted on your website, are you engaging in a double standard by accusing the AP of doing what your website did?

You state the AP's issuance of the Cruz photo is an "example of liberal media bias," May we assume that CNS' choice of photo to run with the May 16 story is an example of conservative media bias?

Given that the three-year-old photo of the New York City Gay Pride Parade that CNS used for its May 16 article was also issued by the AP, doesn't that undercut your argument that the AP has a liberal bias?

Finally: If the AP is so profoundly biased to a view you (and your employer, the Media Research Center) apparently find abhorrent, why does CNS pay money to the AP to use its news articles and photos?

Sincerely,

Terry Krepel
Editor, ConWebWatch


Posted by Terry K. at 10:56 PM EDT
Thursday, June 18, 2015
CNS' First Reaction to Charleston Shooting: Invoking Al Sharpton
Topic: CNSNews.com

When it came to covering the news of a white man shooting nine unarmed blacks in Charleston, S.C., CNSNews.com knew what it had to do: pander to the racial animosity of its right-wing readership by raising the specter of Al Sharpton.

Thus, CNS' first piece of original coverage of the Charleston shooting is an article by "CNSNews.com staff" posted at 7:54 a.m. on June 18 quoting Sharpton's statement about the alleged shooter: "Obviously he's deranged. Probably a hate crime."

Jones then undermined her own attempt to portray Sharpton as race-baiting over the shooting later in her article, when she noted that "Police described the mass murder as a hate crime." Oops.

This was embarrassing even by CNS' usual standards -- usually, its attempts to pander to its right-wing audience aren't this blatant. CNS seemed to recognize this, as the article didn't last long on its front page.

Strangely, CNS tried to play this same card a couple hours later, with an article by Melanie Hunter noting that Attorney General Loretta Lynch is launching a hate crimes investigation into the shooting. While Hunter noted that the shootings occured at "a historic black church," she curiously didn't note that the suspect, Dylann Roof, is white.

Plus, it turns out that Sharpton and Lynch's suspicions were proven correct: Law enforcement officials said the shooter rose during a prayer service, declaring that he was there to kill black people.

The only other bit of what passes for original reportage at CNS on the Charleston shooting is another piece by Hunter, this time quoting a sermon given by one of the victims, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, in April after "Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, had been gunned down by former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager." Hunter didn't mention that Slager was white, or that Scott was running away from Slager at the time he was shot.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:23 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
CNS' Sad, Lying Little Pitch For Cash
Topic: CNSNews.com

A new Media Research Center donation page for CNSNews.com begins its sales pitch like this:

Americans deserve and demand the truth from their news media. Unfortunately, America's newsrooms are full of lies, bias, and even censorship. That's why CNSNews.com exists.

So that explains it! CNS exists so that the MRC can get in on some of that sweet, sweet action.

Bias? Check.

Lies? Double check.

Censorship? And how.

The pitch goes on:

Since 1998, CNSNews.com has been THE alternative news source for individuals, news organizations, and broadcasters. As a member of the Media Research Center family of networks, CNSNews.com has evolved into one of the top sites on the Internet—reporting the news that the liberal media refuse to cover.

You mean like uncritically quoting right-wing religious figures at length? Or reprinting old film scripts? Not sure how any of that qualifies as "news." Anyway, continuing with the pitch:

We have produced one major scoop after another and are an indispensable online resource for news as it should be reported—accurate, balanced, and unfiltered. No wonder conservative talk show host Mark Levin says, "I read CNSNews.com every day, and you should too."

As its Duggar fiasco demonstrates, CNS' brand of journalism is anything but "accurate, balanced, and unfiltered." And Levin says that about CNS because the MRC pays him to say it.

The pitch concludes by declaring that CNS "rely solely on donations from conservatives to help us report the news the liberal media distort, slant, or censor." So CNS can do its own distortions, slants and censorship, of course.

It's a sad little pitch that denies reality -- and actually tells lies -- to make a grab for cash. But that's what the MRC does.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:00 PM EDT
Monday, June 15, 2015
CNS Lets A Birther Write A Column
Topic: CNSNews.com

The Media Research Center's creeping WND-ism continues in an eminently logical direction: CNSNews.com is giving space to a birther.

A June 11 CNS column features Herbert W. Titus and his law partner, William J. Olson, ranting against same-sex marriage and declaring that the Surpreme Court has no right to sit in judgment of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage because Sir William Blackstone said so, or something. CNS' bio for Titus highlights how he "taught Constitutional Law for 26 years, and concluded his academic career as the Founding Dean of Regent Law School."

What CNS doesn't tell you about Herb Titus: He's a birther, and the birthers at WND love him.

In a 2009 WND article, Titus proclaimed that "Obama cannot be a natural-born citizen, even if he’s born in Hawaii," because he did not have two parents who were American citizens and that his "loyalties" lie with his Kenyan-born father.  In a 2012 WND article, Titus asserted that natural born citizenship is "God-given" and that the concept "is written into the very nature of the universe of nation-states" and "exists independent of any human power, legislative or otherwise. That is why ‘natural born citizenship’ is not defined in the Constitution."

Never mind that the Constitution makes any mention whatsoever about "loyalties," or that courts over the past century or so have routinely defined the term as applying to anyone born in the U.S. regardless of the parents' citizenship.

By contrast, Titus has been much less vocal about the eligibility status of Ted Cruz, whose political views align much closer to him than Obama's and who is also not eligible to be president under his extremely narrow definition of the term.

Religion Dispatches points out that Titus is an admirer of the late R.J. Rushdoony, the father of the far-right principle of Christian Reconstructionism -- a principle also followed by WND editor Joseph Farah.

This is the guy who CNS has deemed acceptable to write an opinon column for it.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:56 PM EDT
Saturday, June 13, 2015
CNS Managing Editor Devotes A 'News' Item To Repeating Movie Dialogue
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com managing editor Michael W. Chapman's skewed idea of newsworthiness is not limited to pearls of anti-Muslim and anti-Obama wisdom from Franklin Graham. He now considers fiction to be news as well.

A June 8 CNS blog post by Chapman is headlined "John Wayne Schools Liberal Author on American Freedom and Giving Thanks to God."That gives the impression that Chapman will quoting Wayne saying something patriotic to respond to some modern-day "liberal author" who said something Chapman didn't like. Turns out that's not it at all -- Chapman is simply repeating dialogue from a film Wayne starred in. No, really:

The people who founded and built America did not rely on big government for a hand-out or demand “insurance for their old age,” but were rugged individualists, self-reliant, real “men” who looked up at the sky and said, “thanks God, we’ll take it from here,” said the actor John Wayne in the movie Without Reservations.

Wayne, himself a conservative, portrayed U.S. Marine Capt. “Rusty” Thomas in the highly successful 1946 film. In the movie, while traveling by train to California, liberal author “Kitty Kloch,” played by Claudette Colbert, expresses her optimism about a “new world” where the “advantages of citizenship” are shared by all and the “laissez-faire attitude” is cast aside.

John Wayne, “Rusty,” sets her straight.

That is, yes, followed by a copy-and-paste of the relevant dialogue from the film.

Chapman doesn't mention, of course, that "Without Reservations" is a romantic comedy in which Wayne and Colbert are the star attractions who resolve their differences and hook up at the end (in a 1946 way, of course).

Or that Colbert's character actually wants Wayne's character to star in the film adaptation of her book which suggests that the snippet of dialogue Chapman quoted is at least a little out of context.

Or that Wayne was simply repeating dialogue somebody else wrote for him (in this case, Andrew Solt); if he said them with such conviction that it melted Chapman's heart, that makes him nothing more than a very good actor.

Chapman also forgets that, despite insisting on telling us that this film was "highly successful" and pointing out that it had "a reported budget of $1,683,000, and it grossed $3,000,000 at the box office," there is not necessarily a direct relationship between a film's popularity and its quality, a truism Chapman's fellow travelers at the Media Research Center just don't get.

It seems Chapman is increasingly living in a fantasy world where he can't tell movies from reality. Yet, somehow, he's still the managing editor of a "news" operation.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:04 AM EDT
Thursday, June 11, 2015
NEW ARTICLE: CNS Protects The Duggars
Topic: CNSNews.com
Despite calling itself a "news" website, CNS did its best to ignore news of a sexual molestation scandal in a family of right-wing darlings as long as it could, reporting the facts only grudgingly. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 11:28 PM EDT
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
CNS Unemployment Numbers Distortion Watch
Topic: CNSNews.com

When the unemployment rate has dropped under the Obama administration, CNSNews.com is loath to put that in the headline, choosing instead to cherry-pick other numbers in an attempt to hide good news about the economy. But if that rate ticks back up, by golly, CNS is on the spot with the details.

Thus, the lead CNS story by Ali Meyer on May's employment figures has a headline that reads, "5.5%: Unemployment Rate Edges Up As More People Look for Work."

Meyer resorts to her usual cherry-picking for two other articles:

6,652,000: More Americans Working Part-Time, But Not by Choice

Rising: 25,098,000 Foreign-Born Workers Employed in U.S.A.

None of Meyer's articles mentionthe fact that 280,000 jobs were created in May. Can't give Obama any credit for something positive, y'know.

And Meyer's mildly xenophobic article on foreign-born workers is rather laughably illustrated with this image of migrant farm workers:

As if they were the only image Meyer and her CNS could think of when discussing "foreign-born workers." She ignores the foreign nationals who work in high-tech industries under special visas, for instance. They clearly don't fit into CNS' stereotype.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:50 PM EDT
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Duggar Story Miraculously Returns to CNS Front Page
Topic: CNSNews.com

It seems that CNSNews.com has realized that the Josh Duggar molestation story is news after all. Or maybe they just got tired of us pointing out that its attempts to censor and bury the Duggar story disqualify it as a news operation.

A day after CNS perfunctorily summarized the Duggar family's Fox News interview on the scandal -- in which it treated the Duggars' statements as indisputable fact and ignored  their misleading statements and self-proclaimed victimhood over the molestation report going public -- then pulled the story off its front page as soon as it could, the story on the Duggars' "sins" (not crime) mysteriously reappeared on the CNS front page in the culture section:

The front-page section summaries appear to reproduce the top five headlines on its culture page. As we noted, CNS originally made sure the Duggar story wouldn't make the front-page summary by burying it below stories that were much older. Sometime on June 5 -- a day after CNS originally buried the story -- the Duggar story got promoted to the fifth slot, thus making it appear on the front page.

But also notice what the lead story is in the entertainment section -- an Associated Press article on Fox News' ratings for the Duggar interview. So, apparently, touting the ratings coup for CNS' friends at Fox News for the interview is bigger news than the content of the interview itself.

Well, it takes baby steps for CNS to make its way back to the pretense of being a real news organization.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:44 PM EDT
Friday, June 5, 2015
CNS Managing Editor Lazily Recycles His Anti-Transgender Hate
Topic: CNSNews.com

When we read CNSNews.com managing editor Michael Chapman's June 2  article rehashing a right-wing psychiatrist's claim that "transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment," we thought it looked a little familiar. Turns out we were right.

Last August, we caught Chapman devoting an article to "a recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal" by "Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry," even though the article had been published a full two months earlier and had ceased being news, if it ever was (except by CNS standards, anyway). We noted that Chapman made no effort to mention the many mental health professionals who disagree with McHugh's claims.

Then we clicked on the link we provided for that August article -- and discovered it pulls up the June 2 article. All Chapman did is slap a new date on his discredited 10-month-old piece to pretend that it's relevant with the coming out of Caitlyn Jenner.

We already know Chapman is lazy enough to consider serving as stenographer for right-wing evangelist Franklin Graham a legitimate journalistic endeavor. But Chapman, it appears, is such a lazy journalist that he must recycle his hate and can't be bothered to lift a finger to do any reporting to update to current events.

And this man is the managing editor of a "news" organization?


Posted by Terry K. at 9:38 AM EDT
Thursday, June 4, 2015
CNS Actually Reports On Duggars -- Then Quickly Buries It
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com is only grudgingly reporting on the Josh Duggar molestation scandal, as if it wouldn't be happening if the "news" part of CNS' name wasn't instilling guilt in its editors. It first censored the story, then reported on it only when it became too big to ignore -- and even then it was dismissed in a blog post, not treated as actual news.

The Duggar family's interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly was also too big to ignore, so CNS couldn't get away with censoring it. Thus, we have a June 4 article -- unbylined, credited only to "CNSNews.com Staff," as if no CNS employee wanted to be on record reporting facts about that Duggars that conflicted with their right-wing Christian image -- that dutifully summed up the interview. The article was still an advocacy piece for the Duggars, playing down the actual offenses of Josh Duggar and playing up the family's self-proclaimed victimhood at the release of the police report on his offenses.

Those offenses are only referenced once in the first 12 paragraphs of the article, eupemistically described as him having "inappropriately touched" his sisters and "groped a babysitter." The article declared that "the Duggars detailed the problem they faced 12 years ago -- a son who three times came to them and confessed to molestation; what they did about it -- eventually sending him out of the home for Christian-based counseling and later to talk with a policeman; and what they now see as the bigger scandal -- the illegal May 21 release of their son's juvenile police record to a tabloid." The article further insisted that "The Duggars explained the facts of the case."

CNS was certainly not about to live up to its mission statement to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story" and acknowledge criticism of the Duggars. Thus,you won't read at CNS how some of the Duggars' answers to Kelly are at odds with the established facts in the case. And you certainly won't see CNS point out the obvious conflict between Jim Bob Duggar's claim that "We had nothing to hide" and his complaint about the juvenile record of Josh Duggar's offenses being release.

Another sign CNS wants to bury this story: While it appeared on the CNS front page this morning, all trace of it was off the front page by mid-afternoon. And even on the CNS "culture" section page, it's buried under much older stories, such as a May 27 article detailing the latest attempt to portray any LGBT-related federal spending as a waste.

Apparently, news is "news" at CNS only if it advances the right-wing agenda of its parent, the Media Research Center. Otherwise, it will get short shrift. 

Perhaps it's time for CNS to admit that it's not in the news business but, rather, in the propaganda business.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:37 PM EDT
Thursday, May 28, 2015
CNS Misleads About Michelle Obama Commencement Speech
Topic: CNSNews.com

A May 26 CNSNews.com article was dedicated to selectively quoting from Michelle Obama's commencement speech at Oberlin College to ratchet up the outrage factor among CNS's readers. And judging from the hate and racism in the article's comment thread, she has succeeded with that.

Jones claimed that Obama "equated conservative opposition with 'noise,' 'clamor' and 'polarization,' and she urged students to "rise above it.'" But in the actual excerpts of the speech Jones included, Obama did not specifically do what Jones claimed. Here's the excerpt with the apparently offending words highlighted:

"You might find yourself a little dismayed by the clamor outside these walls -- the name-calling, the negative ads, the the folks yelling at each other on TV. After being surrounded by people who are so dedicated to serving others and making the world a better place, you might feel a little discouraged by the polarization and gridlock that too often characterize our politics and civic life. 

"And in the face of all of that clamor, you might have an overwhelming instinct to just run the other way as fast as you can. You might be tempted to just recreate what you had here at Oberlin -– to find a community of like-minded folks and work with them on causes you care about, and just tune out all of the noise. And that’s completely understandable. In fact, I sometimes have that instinct myself -- run! (Laughter.)

"But today, graduates, I want to urge you to do just the opposite. Today, I want to suggest that if you truly wish to carry on the Oberlin legacy of service and social justice, then you need to run to, and not away from, the noise. Today, I want to urge you to actively seek out the most contentious, polarized, gridlocked places you can find.  Because so often, throughout our history, those have been the places where progress really happens –- the places where minds are changed, lives transformed, where our great American story unfolds."

So, no, Obama did not equate conservatives to "noise," "clamor" and "polarization" as Jones claimed -- indeed, Obama does not even use the word "conservative" anywhere near those terms.

But Jones wasn't done misleading. After quoting Obama urging the students to "persuade" and "compromise" in order to "move the country foward," she sneered: "Interestingly Mrs. Obama's husband is not a compromiser, starting his second term with a 'go-it-alone,' I-have-a pen-and-a-phone attitude."

Funny, the PolitiFact website has a full seven pages of examples of Obama compromising to achieve his policy goals. And Jones omits the fact that Republicans have refused to compromise with Obama.

This is WND-level work. It's too bad Jones and CNS have sunk to this.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:09 PM EDT
Saturday, May 23, 2015
CNS Finally Reports On Duggar Scandal -- In A Blog, Not As 'News'
Topic: CNSNews.com

It's taken surprisingly long for an organization that professes to be a "news" operation, but CNSNews.com has finally gotten around to reporting on the Josh Duggar sexual molestation scandal. But, oddly, it still doesn't consider this "news."

Melanie Hunter's May 22 item on Duggar is not presented as "news" but, rather, as a blog post -- the same status also afforded to Michael Chapman's stenography of Franklin Graham and posts dedicated to the stylings of "Evan Sayet, the nation’s leading conservative, political comedian."

Hunter also presents the Duggar scandal in as perfunctory a manner as possible -- apparently finally moved to write about it only after the Duggars' "19 Kids and Counting" show was canceled because of the revelations -- keeping to reporting only statements and refusing to dig into the issue. For instance, Hunter notes that Josh Duggar's victims "live[d] in the Duggar home," but fails to note the obvious conclusing that Duggar was molesting his sisters.

Hunter also uncritically repeats a claim that Duggar was "sent to a Christian treatment program," but ignores reporting that the "treatment program" was actually some guy in the home remodeling business who was actually "more of a mentor ...  kind of" rather than someone with actual counseling credentials, which you'd think would be important in dealing with a teenager who molested his sisters.

Hunter uses her dry, perfunctory writing to hide the fact that the Duggar family waited a year to report Josh's behavior to authorities. She also doesn't mention that CNS has favorably promoted Duggar in the past.

Hunter's treatment of the Duggar story is not the only sign CNS would rather ignore it. CNS' Twitter account has not promoted the story, nor have the Twitter accounts of editor in chief Terry Jeffrey and managing editor Michael Chapman. And  the Duggar story is still being censored on other MRC websites, such as NewsBusters, MRC TV, and the main MRC website.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:51 AM EDT
Thursday, May 21, 2015
CNS Censors Duggar Molestation Scandal
Topic: CNSNews.com

On May 1, CNSNews.com published a fluffy interview with Josh Duggar, oldest son of the Duggar family of "19 Kids and Counting" fame, in which he declared that “marriage is central to the family and every single child deserves a mother and father” and complained that "there is an agenda to silence people of faith, those who hold a dissenting opinion."

Actually, CNS is the one who's engaged in the act of censorship, making sure no bad news about the Duggars appears on its "news" pages.

Earlier this week, news broke that Josh Duggar, as a teenager, was named as an "alleged offender" in an underage sexual abuse probe. Technicalities and other issues in the police investigation led to Duggar failing to be prosecuted in the case.

People magazine reports that the case involved Duggar molesting five underage girls as a teenager. The duggar family states that he underwent counseling and that he regrets his actions, he has since resigned from his job as executive director of the Family Research Council's political action division.

Yet none of this is newsworthy at CNS -- it has not reported a single word about Josh Duggar's scandal, even though it has been two days since the story first broke, and even though it would not hesitate to do so if the perpetrator was not a cultural conservative.

So, what is newsworthy at CNS today? Likening President Obama to Osama bin Laden. No, really.

It seems CNS would much rather do fluffy interviews to advance right-wing ideology than engage in actual journalism without fear or favor.

UPDATE: Wonkette notes that according to the police report, four of the five victims of Josh Duggar's molestation were his own sisters.And Right Wing Watch reports that Duggar has a history of claiming that gays -- not people like himself -- are a threat to child safety.

If CNS reports this at all, it will be couched in some heavy-duty spinning to highlight the power of Christian redemption or something. Again, a whitewashing that CNS would never provide to anyone who isn't a cultural conservative.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:59 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, May 21, 2015 7:30 PM EDT
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
CNS-Mark Levin (Paid) Lovefest Watch
Topic: CNSNews.com

You'd think that with all the squawking the Media Research Center has done about George Stephanopoulos' conflict of interest that it would be more forthcoming (or simply forthcoming, period) about its own conflicts of interest -- like its cross-promotional business relationship with right-wing radio host Mark Levin -- particularly at its "news" division, CNSNews.com.

Well, you'd be wrong. A May 14 CNS blog post by Levin fanboy Michael Morris reads like a press release, touting how Levin "continues to gain syndication steam" and lists the new stations broadcasting his radio show. Morris fawningly notes that Sean Hannity has dubbed Levin "The Great One."

Needless to say, Morris makes no mention of Levin's business deal with the MRC.

And in an apparent bid to keep his fanboy status up-to-date, Morris wrote a May 15 post transcribing Levin's comments on Stephanopoulos' conflict of interest -- which, ironically, again fails to mention his employer's conflict of interest with Levin but does note that Levin mentioned the "Media Research Center’s wonderful NewsBusters."

Apparently, the MRC wants to make its attacks on Stephanopoulos as hypocritical as possible.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:48 PM EDT

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