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Friday, November 21, 2014
CNS Reporter Demands That Activist Be Censored

The Media Research Center just loves to portray the media as "censoring" a given pet conservative cause, so you'd think they'd oppose any form of censorship. Not so.

In a Nov. 20 tweet, reporter Penny Starr demanded that an activist with whom she disagreed be prohibited from expressing his views: "This anti-Christian man should not be a witness at Congressional hearings. Why should he be given credibility?"

Starr is referring to Michael Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which opposes religious extremism in the military.

Starr is so committed to shutting Weinstein up that she devoted an entire Nov. 20 CNS article to repeating Republican Rep. Randy Forbes' ad hominem attacks on Weinstein simply for showing up to testify at a congressional hearing on religious freedom in the military.

Starr is so determined to bash Weinstein that she never explains why the hearing was held in the first place.

Apparently, at the MRC freedom of speech is granted only when the MRC agrees with that speech.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:14 PM EST
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
CNS'Hollingsworth Returns To Stenographer Mode

Barbara Hollingsworth's Nov. 14 article is yet another of her stenography extravaganzas, dutifully regurgitating the "seven reasons why [Americans] should not sign up for Obamacare" offered by the anti-Obamacare group Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.

Hollingsworth even uncritically forwards CCHF president Twila Brase's tortured argument that health coverage through Obamacare isn't really private coverage even though the policy"says Cigna, or Kaiser or WellPoint."

As is typical for a Hollingsworth stenography piece, she makes no effort to balance her article with the views of someone who opposes the CCHF's anti-Obamacare ideology, even though the article is presented as "news." Thus, you won't hear any criticism of Brase's dangerous central argument, that it's better to have no health insurance than to have Obamacare. As Bloomberg View opined when Brase peddled this argument last year:

That claim is absurd on its face: Even if you believe that exchange-purchased insurance will offer fewer care options than other types of coverage, some insurance is leagues better than none. Forget about the penalty for not carrying insurance; what if that 22-year-old needs medical care? He can pay his doctors directly, Brase responded, or seek charity care.


So Brase's advice that people who can't afford insurance outside the exchanges simply go without makes perfect sense -- but only if you're rich, you never get sick, or you only get sick during open enrollment. And how about access to preventive care to keep you from getting sick in the first place, you ask? Well, if you're worried about that, you'd better reconsider your commitment to freedom, my friend.

Again, Hollingsworth doesn't care about journalism, she cares about forwarding an ideology. That makes her a failure as a journalist, but an apparent success as a CNS senior editor.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:51 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 6:53 PM EST
Sunday, November 16, 2014
CNS Promotes Catholic Vaccine Conspiracy Theory

Michael W. Chapman spends a Nov. 14 article lavishing attention on a Catholic-generated conspiracy theory that a tetanus vaccine being used in Kenya "by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is laced with a hormone that causes miscarriages and infertility."

While Chapman does concede that "UNICEF denies that the vaccine is tainted and the WHO says the 'allegations are not backed by the evidence,'"  the bulk of his article isconcerned with presenting the claims made by "the Catholic Bishops of Kenya, along with the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association," as true and WHO and UNICEF as trying to hide something.

Chapman also brings in Donna Harrison, "an OB/GYN and executive director of the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists," to bolster the Catholics' case. He doesn't mention that Harrison is an anti-birth control activist who peddles the myth that morning-after pills cause abortions.

While Chapman does eventually tell bothh sides of the story, he waits until the 31st paragraph of his article to note WHO's and UNICEF's evidence that the vaccines are not laced with infertility drugs.

Chapman's promotion of this anti-vaccine conspiracy theory is ironic because other branches of CNS' owner, the Media Research Center, have railed against those who promote anti-vaccine conspiracy theories (when they don't involve Gardasil, anyway).

We're aware of CNS' pro-Catholic leanings and reputation for unbalanced reporting, but can't Chapman -- who, remember, is CNS' managing editor -- try to attempt some actual journalism by fairly presenting both sides of the story instead of putting his thumb on the scale in favor of the Catholics, no matter how crazy their conspiracy theory sounds?

Apparently not -- to him, the political narrative is more important than the facts.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:44 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, November 16, 2014 9:46 PM EST
Friday, November 14, 2014
Meet CNS' Resident Mark Levin Fanboy

Michael Morris is's assistant editor for commentary. He's also the website's chief Mark Levin fanboy. Over the ast couple weeks, he cranked no fewer than five CNS blog posts transcribing the right-wing ranter's latest alleged pearls of wisdom:

Needless to say, none of Morris' transcriptions disclose the fact that Levin has a business relationship with CNS' parent, the Media Research Center -- a relationship the MRC seems to have repaid by giving him its William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence.

Morris claims to have a law degree, so you'd think he'd be sensitive to issues like conflict of interest. Apparently not -- which may be why he's working as an assistant editor for a right-wing website instead of as a lawyer.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:19 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, November 15, 2014 5:47 PM EST
Monday, November 10, 2014
CNS Adds Scare Quotes To 'Gay Marriage' In AP Headline
Topic: has a bad habit of rewriting headlines for Associated Press articles to conform with its right-wing ideology. It does so again in a Nov. 6 article on gay-marriage bans being upheld in four states. CNS feels the need to put "gay marriage" in scare quotes in the headline:

The last time we checked, it was not AP style to put scare quotes around "gay marriage." Indeed, even the conservative website The Blaze ran the very same AP article and did not use scare quotes.

Rather lazily, CNS' re-editing did not extend to the article itself, where references "gay marriage" and "same-sex marriage" appear without scare quotes.

CNS has not publicly explained why it feels the need to use such scare quotes, or why it feels it must alter AP copy to conform to its policy.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:14 PM EST
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Shocker: CNS Actually Acknowleges Joless Situation Is Improving

For months now, has sought to deliberately downplay good economic news under the Obama administration by cherry-picking and playing up data showing not-so-good news.

But for October, the news on the unemployment front was so good that even CNS had to acknowledge it. (Or maybe they're a little more willing to tell the truth now that their goal of a Republican-controlled Senate has  been achieved.) A Nov. 7 CNS article by Ali Meyer, for the first time in recent memory, puts the good news in the opening paragraph, though it still manages to leaven it with cherry-picked bad news:

The employment situation in October improved in every way for most Americans, except for African Americans, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The number of African Americans who were employed in the United States in October dropped by 41,000; and the number of African-Americans not participating in the labor force increased by 114,000.

And because it's CNS, there's still the totally negative jobless article that completely ignores the good news. A Nov. 7 article by Penny Starr touts a "new report" claiming to have "found high rates of unemployment among minorities in many states, including 20.3 percent for Hispanics in Rhode Island and 16.8 percent for African Americans living in Nevada."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 PM EST
Friday, November 7, 2014
CNS Returns To Fearmongering That You Can Catch Ebola On A Bus

You might remember that last month, a CNSNews reporter fearmongered that, despite what President Obama said, you can too catch Ebola on a bus -- followed by CNS editor in chief Terry Jeffrey mocking the Obama administration for overreacting to a sick passenger on a bus out of fear the passenger might have Ebola.

Well, the flip-flop has flipped back. From a Nov. 3 CNS article by Melanie Hunter:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is also a medical doctor, told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday that President Barack Obama's biggest mistake was saying you can't catch Ebola on a bus.

"I think the president's biggest mistake was like saying, oh, it's no big deal, you can't catch it if you're sitting on a bus with somebody," said Paul.


"Well, apparently, you can be intensive care unit gloved, gowned and masked and still get it. It's very contagious when someone is sick. So, I think it was a mistake for him to say, oh, it's not big deal. You can be riding on a bus. And we're not going to stop any travel," Paul said.

"American public sees people getting it who are fully masked and gowned and saying, my goodness, I don't think anybody should be riding on a bus or coming from Liberia to visit their aunt or uncle and when they could be contagious. So, I think a temporary stop of travel for elective travel, if you're coming to visit your relatives, couldn't that wait for a few months?" he asked.

Hunter is also overstating Paul's medical credentials. He is an non-certified ophthalmologist, which technically makes him a "medical doctor" but specializes in eye problems, not viral issues like Ebola.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:54 PM EST
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
CNS Buries Right-Wing Bishop's Dismissal From Vatican Job

In his Oct. 30 column, Terry Jeffrey makes sure we know that Cardinal Raymond Burke "is the Prefect of the Sacred Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest court of the Catholic Church." Jeffrey ,of course, was featuring Burke's right-wing positions on gay marriage and attacks on Pope Francis for attempting to moderate the Catholic Church's stance on the subject. Oddly, Jeffrey feels the need to inform us how utterly softball the questions he tossed at Burke were:

I asked: "Given that it was Jesus Christ Himself who taught us what marriage is, can any priest or bishop overrule or change what Jesus declared about marriage?"

"No, absolutely not," said Cardinal Burke. "The priests and bishops are called to be faithful to the truth. Our office is to teach this truth and to assist the faithful to live it, but we can never — even under some supposed pastoral approach — either alter or deny the truth about marriage."

I asked: "Can the pope himself change the nature of marriage given what Christ said?"

"No, it's not within his power," said Cardinal Burke, "and this is very clear in the teaching of the church, that if a marriage has been validly celebrated and consummated it cannot be separated. It cannot be ended by anything except death itself."

Jeffrey followed up that day with an article containing a transcript of the interview with Burke in which he informs us again that Burke is "Prefect for the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church."

Just one little problem: Burke doesn't hold that position anymore. Earlier in October, Pope Francis removed Burke from his position as prefect and reassigned him to be patron of the sovereign military order of Malta.

Strangely, even though this event occurred a week before Jeffrey's interview with Burke, at no point did Jeffrey ask him about it. He was too busy serving Burke softballs that let the cardinal attack the idea of gay marriage.

Even more strangely, CNS didn't seem to think the demotion of Jeffrey's favorite cardinal was very newsworthy. The only mention of it we could find in the CNS archive was in an Oct. 22 article by Michael Chapman featuring a Catholic bishop's remarks on gays, and even then it was buried in the 11th paragraph.

You'd think a staunch Catholic like Jeffrey would want to keep his readers on top of important news like that. Apparently not.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:30 PM EST
Sunday, November 2, 2014
CNS Can't Stop Obsessing Over Afghan Body Counts
Topic: has long been obsessed with pinning U.S. casualties in Afghanistan while not doing the same for U.S. casualties in Iraq under President Bush.

This bias happens again in an Oct. 29 CNS article by Ali Meyer informing us that "'s database on casualties shows that 418 Marines have given their lives in the conflict and that 92% of those casualties, 385 deaths, have occurred since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009."

Meyer doesn't mention how many Marine casualties in Iraq occurred under Bush -- indeed, the words "Iraq" and "Bush" appear nowhere in her article. 

CNS has never explained why its "database on casualties" omits Iraq, even though they are part of the same conflict.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:29 PM EST
Saturday, November 1, 2014
CNS' Starr Misinforms, Thinks Non-Discrimination Law Is Only About Restrooms

As befits a highly biased reporter who would lose her job if the Media Research Center applied the Bernard Goldberg standard =of publicly firing biased reporters it wants the "liberal media" to follow,'s Penny Starr sees only one side of non-discrimination ordinances: the side that opposes them.

That means she's going to describe such laws to make them look bad and creepy. Indeed, in an Oct. 23 CNS article in which she features the homophobic rantings of former WorldNetDaily columnist and Houston pastor Dave Welch, she describes the non-discrimination law only as "allow[ing] transgender individuals to use any public restroom."

As we noted when WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh did the same thing, that's a framing promulgated by opponents of such non-discrimination ordinances. In reality, the ordinance merely prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and says nothing about restrooms.

In repeating such a deliberately misleading interpretation of the non-discrimination ordinance, Starr ignores the overwhelming evidence that there have been no sexual assaults or any other crimes in connection with this accommodation to gender identity.

But Starr is committed to this particular piece of disinformation. In an Oct. 28 CNS article featuring pastor Bill Owens -- a homophobe like Welch -- Starr again describes the Houston non-discrimination law as "a city ordinance that allows transgender people to use any public restroom."

As long as Starr feels secure in her job, she will continue to misinform her readers.

UPDATE: Starr's Oct. 29 CNS article also claimed the non-discrimination ordinance was about "allow[ing] transgender people to use any public bathroom regardless of gender."

Posted by Terry K. at 8:35 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, November 2, 2014 4:34 PM EDT
Friday, October 31, 2014
Why Should Anyone Care What Tony LoBianco Thinks About Opera?

An Oct. 29 article by Lauretta Brown is devoted to recounting an interview CNS editor in chief Terry Jeffrey conducted with actor Tony Lo Bianco about the controversial opera "The Death of Klinghoffer."

Lo Bianco has no demonstrated expertise about opera or Middle Eastern issues, so it's unclear why Jeffrey chose to interview him at length about this. Jeffrey never explains why Lo Bianco's opinion is so important.

Lo Bianco also gave no indication that he has ever viewed the opera in question, so he probably doesn't know what he's talking about.

Jeffrey, on the other hand, did admit he has never seen the opera, which didn't keep him from misrepresenting its contents, asserting that the opera is "glorifying" the Palestinian terrorists' killing of Klinghoffer, or from complaining that he can't comprehend how a work of art can allow a bad guy to justify his motives.

In fact, motivation is a driving force of literature and theatrical works, including opera, and villains can have motives just as protagonists do. And experts who, unlike Jeffrey and LoBianco, have actually seen the opera agree that it does not romanticize terror. To claim that giving voice to a villain's motives equals a creator's approval of those motives is just another form of the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy.

The MRC has devoted a lot of time recently to bashing this opera that they have never -- and will never -- see for themselves.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:43 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, October 31, 2014 10:00 PM EDT
Friday, October 24, 2014
CNS' Starr Gives Platform To Homophobic Minister

Penny Starr writes in an Oct. 24 article:

Rev. David Welch, one of five pastors who were subpoenaed by the City of Houston to turn over all sermons and other documents and communications related to homosexuality and gender identity, said Wednesday that the move represents a much broader agenda of the city’s lesbian mayor and other gay rights activists.

“This is the result of our allowing these critical institutions to fall into the hands of those who are of an opposite world view who are intentionally and systematically deconstructing God’s created order,” said Welch, executive director of the Texas Pastor Council.

“The ungodly abuse of power and, frankly, just evil abuse of that … steals the freedom and ultimately the moral framework of the culture and ultimately attacks the minds and hearts of our children,” Welch said during a conference call set up by the Family Research Council to encourage pastors across the country to take part in the “I Stand Sunday” rally on Nov. 2 in Houston in support of the Texas clergy, who are fighting the subpoena and an ordinance passed by the city to allow transgender individuals to use any public restroom.

As we've documented, Welch -- a former WorldNetDaily columnist -- is a rabid homophobe who portrayed the elecion of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a lesbian, as a moral failing of the citizenry, criticized pastor Joel Osteen for offering up a prayer at Parker's inauguration, and has likened the existence of gays to a controlled demolition of church buildings. After complaining that one pastor "made no formal endorsement of either side" on an anti-discrimination ordinance, Welch added: "It sounds like his gender identity may be up for question. If that sounds harsh, so be it."

Yet Starr apparently thinks Welch is a reasonable person to interview.

Incidentially, Starr quotes nobody in her article who supports Houston's non-discrimination ordinance, a seeming violation of CNS' mission statement that it "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story."

Posted by Terry K. at 4:21 PM EDT
Thursday, October 23, 2014
CNS Bashes Obama For Doing Too Much -- And Too Little -- About Ebola
Topic: editor in chief Terry Jeffrey used his Oct. 22 column to mock President Obama for allegedly overreacting to a suspected case of Ebola:

So here we have the opening scene in this drama of Obama Era health care: An American vomits in a parking lot. Pentagon police close in. Someone alleges this American indicated she had visited West Africa. The parking lot is sealed. Traffic stopped. A Hazmat team arrives. A bus the American had boarded before vomiting is quarantined in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol with a contingent of Marines on board. An ambulance brings the American to one of the nation’s finest hospitals—and she is turned away.

After all, she had vomited near the Pentagon.


The American who had vomited near the Pentagon did not have Ebola, after all. She did not even need to be tested for it.

But before the government and its health-care system discovered that she did not need to be tested for Ebola, she did need to be approached by a HazMat team, turned away by one of the nation’s top hospitals, and perceived as a reasonable cause for U.S. Marines to be quarantined on Capitol Hill.


In the Washington suburbs last week, we did not see the government dealing with an isolated case of Ebola. We saw it dealing with an American who did not have Ebola.

If that makes you want to vomit, steer clear of the Pentagon.

Jefrey's mockery might make more sense if the website he runs hadn't played up the Pentagon incident.

Two days earlier, CNS published an article by Brittany Hughes headlined "Obama Repeats: You Can’t Get Ebola on a Bus—Day After Bus Quarantined in D.C.,"in which Obama was mocked for allegedly downplaying the risk of Ebola:

On Saturday--one day after a bus that had departed from the Pentagon was quarantined on Capitol Hill in an Ebola false alarm--President Barack Obama issued a video message to Americans telling them that "you cannot get it [Ebola] from just riding on a plane or a bus."

“Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It's not transmitted through the air like the flu," Obama said in his weekly video message. "You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus."

But on Friday, a bus was quarantined on Virginia Avenue, SE, in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C.--in what turned out to be an Ebola false alarm.

Jeffrey can't have it both ways by simultaneously bashing Obama for overreacting and underreacting to Ebola. But since the goal of his logical contradictions is to bash Obama, he will pretend he can anyway.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:31 PM EDT
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
CNS Pushes Zombie Lie Of 'Failed' Stimulus

Craig Bannister writes in an Oct. 20 blog post:

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is selling the idea that Rob Klain will make a good Ebola Czar - even without any Ebola expertise - because of his work on the $830 billion failed Stimulus.


But, at more than $200,000 spent per job created/saved - $2 million per job in some cases - the $830 billion Stimulus was anything but a success.

Bannister's insistence that the stimulus "failed" is at odds with reality. PolitiFact states that such simplistic per-job calculations -- Bannister's backup for his claim of "more than $200,000 spent per job created/saved" is a 2011 CNS article simply dividing the amount spent on the stimulus by the number of jobs created -- are misleading because the stimulus money went toward a range of projects and programs including tax breaks, not just for salaries.

Futher, the Associated Press points out that Bannister's simplistic calculation ignores the value of the work produced -- "Any cost-per-job figure pays not just for the worker, but for material, supplies and that worker's output - a portion of a road paved, patients treated in a health clinic, goods shipped from a factory floor, railroad tracks laid" -- and also counts only jobs created to date, not those created over the life of the stimulus-funded contract.

Bannister's repeating of a discredited right-wing myth proves that promoting zombie lies isn't just the purpose of WorldNetDaily.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:56 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 8:59 PM EDT
Thursday, October 16, 2014
NEW ARTICLE: The Unbalanced Barbara Hollingsworth
The CNS senior editor isn't big on reporting both sides of the story or disclosing the right-wing nature of her sources. She also let a Scientology-linked attack on psychiatric drugs stand unchallenged. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 9:33 PM EDT

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