ConWebBlog: The Weblog of ConWebWatch

your New Media watchdog

ConWebWatch: home | archive/search | about | primer | shop

Thursday, September 11, 2014
NEW ARTICLE: The MRC's Sharyl Attkisson Dissonance
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center loves the former CBS correspondent's anti-Obama reporting, but it's trying to forget that it criticized her for promoting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 6:28 PM EDT
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
MRC Complains About Coverage Of Speech Obama Hadn't Given Yet
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 10 Media Research Center item by Curtis Houck carries the headline "ABC, NBC Ignore Lack of Specifics in Previewing Obama’s ISIS Speech." Houck goes on to write:

On Tuesday night, ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir and NBC Nightly News omitted from their coverage any mention that President Obama’s upcoming speech to the country on Wednesday night will not include some crucial details on how he plans to go about defeating the Islamic terrorist group ISIS.

Think about that for a second. The MRC is criticizing coverage of a speech that, at the time Houck's item was posted, hadn't been given yet.

The hook for Houck's item was a claim by CBS' Major Garrett that the speech "appears short on specifics." Still, that's pretty thin gruel, and it shows just how desperate the MRC is to invent any excuse to attack Obama.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:41 PM EDT
Friday, September 5, 2014
Climate Change Misinformation Spreads To Another MRC Website
Topic: Media Research Center

One thing about the Media Research Center's multiple web platforms is that it provides more opportunities to spread misinformation. Mike Ciandella writes in a Sept. 2 MRC post:

The same year that former Vice President Al Gore predicted that the Arctic sea ice could be completely gone, the ice has actually reached its highest point in two years. This revelation comes from a report by the Danish Meteorological Institute.

According to the report, which was cited by the British publication the Daily Mail, “[t]he Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in a row.”

As we documented when fellow MRC employee Tom Blumer parroted the Dail Mail report at NewsBusters, Slate's Phil Plant debunked the Daily Mail's reporting, pointing out that Arctic ice reaching "its highest point in two years" is a meaningless claim given the overall decades-long trend of declining Arctic ice:

Like Blumer, Ciandella makes no effort whatsoever to fact-check the Daily Mail, choosing instead to bash perennial right-wing punching bag Al Gore.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:54 PM EDT
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
MRC's Graham Disingenuously Scoffs At Notion Conservative Publisher Influences His Publication
Topic: Media Research Center

Tim Graham writes in a Sept. 2 NewsBusters post:

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday morning that publisher Katherine Weymouth was stepping down (as Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos is now the owner), and former Politico executive Frederick Ryan is taking her place.

Post technology reporter Craig Timberg implied that the important/interesting part of Ryan’s resume is his “years rising in the Reagan administration, eventually becoming a top presidential aide and key leader in the construction of his presidential library and numerous other initiatives after Reagan left office in 1989.” This, he reports, will “raise questions about the direction” of the allegedly “nonideological” Post:

[...]

Laugh track, please, for the "nonideological" Post. Start with the incessant daily front-page coverage of former Republican governor Robert McDonnell's trial in Virginia right now, for example.

Remember, Graham doesn't think a high-ranking Republican accused of corruption is news.Which must be why the MRC has censored the story of McDonnell's trial.

Graham is being quite disingenuous about a newspaper publisher's politics not mattering because he's conservative. In a May 2012 column, he -- under the pen name of his boss Brent Bozell -- called New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger a "liberal twit." There would be no need to add that modifier to his insult of Sulzberger if politics didn't matter, right?

And the politics of the Post's owner certainly matters to Graham as well. In an August 2013 column, Bozell-slash-Graham wrote that the Graham family, in selling the Post to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, "were confident that he had all the right political values and social liberalism."

Funny how, according to Graham, the liberal politics of media owners always infuses the media the run, while conservative media owners never does. Apparently, Graham has never read the Washington Times or the New York Post.


Posted by Terry K. at 5:09 PM EDT
Monday, September 1, 2014
MRC Thinks Sharyl Attkisson Is A Credible Reporter, Despite Discrediting Her In The Past
Topic: Media Research Center

An Aug. 27 Media Research Center item by Geoffrey Dickens carries the headline "Sharyl Attkisson Schools ABC, CBS, NBC on How to Cover the IRS Scandal." He writes:

Unlike her colleagues at the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks, investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, on Tuesday night, actually dug into the finer points behind the big bombshells revealed in the IRS scandal this week. 

Dickens appears to have let Attkisson's current mainstream-media martyr schtick blind him to the fact that the MRC's archive shows that Attkisson should not be schooling anyone about anything.

As we've documented, the MRC has repeatedly criticized Attkisson's reporting on the supposed link between vaccines and autism -- something the MRC has conveniently ignored as it promotes her anti-Obama reporting (which it turns out is at least as factually deficient as her vaccine reporting).

Dickens appears to think reporters at the "Big Three" networks are Attkisson's "colleagues," but that's simply not true. She left CBS earlier this year and recently signed on to work for The Daily Signal, the "news" outlet of the right-wing Heritage Foundation. An ideologically driven website is hardly the equal of a network news operation.

While Dickens notes that Attkisson issued her "schooling" on Fox Business, he didn't concede that her appearance there is another sign she's moved to outlets friendly to her anti-Obama agenda.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:36 PM EDT
Friday, August 29, 2014
MRC's Gainor Goes To Bat For For-Profit Colleges
Topic: Media Research Center

Dan Gainor's Aug. 25 Media Research Center article is a lengthy puff piece masquerading as "media research." He complains:

The Obama administration continues its push to regulate for-profit colleges and national media outlets have joined in and overwhelmingly taken the side of bigger government.

Three top newspapers – The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today – portrayed for-profit education negatively by a factor of 15-1 in roughly three years of news coverage.

The outlets have been laying the groundwork for more regulations, repeatedly painting for-profit education as a problem in need of solutions. The industry has been criticized for “exploitive and fraudulent practices” that “prey on veterans with misleading ads.” The colleges were bashed for their cost, their lobbying and “woefully inadequate education.” Journalists paid little attention to the challenges of educating students that more traditional schools would not accept.

Gainor spends the rest of the article bashing those newspapers for reporting the facts about problems with for-profit schools and ignoring the actual problems.

Gainor attacked the New York Times for covering the issue, complaining that "It even called them 'predatory schools' in April 2014, and 'predatory colleges' in May." Perhaps that's because that's what some of them are. One of the Times editorials Gainor criticized highlighted one analysis finding that "of the 4,420 career programs ... examined, 114 (all at for-profit institutions) had higher loan default rates than graduation rates — a situation created in part by schools that enroll poorly prepared students who can’t do the work but who borrow to pay tuition before eventually dropping out." These schools are "predatory," the Times explained, because they "rely on federal student aid for up to 90 percent of their revenue and are well versed in the art of evading the law."

Gainor went on to portray one for-profit operator, Corinthian Colleges, as the victim of a government conspiracy to run them out of business:

Corinthian Colleges, Inc. was one of the largest companies in the for-profit education field. But government had set out to take it down. It largely succeeded in July 2014.

The Los Angeles Times reported heavily on problems at the Santa Ana, Calif.,-based company – 11 full stories about what the paper called on July 16, 2014, “one of the most problematic players in the troubled for-profit college industry.” The stories featured complaining former students and angry former employees, along with the occasional comment from a company executive.

But Gainor neglects to mention the actual allegations the former students and employees made against Corinthian and outlined in that article. They include predatory marketing practices and falsely inflating placement rates.

Gainor also makes sure to skew his methodology for full propaganda impact:

The Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute analyzed education stories in three top general interest newspapers. The MRC examined USA Today, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. The other two papers landing in the top five for circulation are The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The Journal was not included because it focuses mostly on finance. The Post was deliberately excluded because it had close financial ties with the industry for part of the study period.

Gainor didn't mention that the Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp., which also operates Fox News and, thus, automatically gets a pass.  While it's true that the Washington Post did have "close financial ties with the industry" -- until Jeff Bezos bought the paper in 2012, its ownership group also ran the Kaplan for-profit schools -- one suspects the Post's coverage of the issue was actually a little too balanced to fit snugly in Gainor's propaganda piece.

The issue of for-profit colleges has been essentially ignored by the MRC until Gainor's piece. That screams of Gainor either being asked, or paid, by the for-profit college industry to write it. 

Any chance Gainor will explain what's really behind his sudden interest in the issue? Don't count on it.


Posted by Terry K. at 7:52 PM EDT
Thursday, August 28, 2014
MRC Thinks Jon Stewart Was Serious
Topic: Media Research Center

Anyone who has ever watched "NewsBusted" knows that the Media Research Center is humor-challenged. But MRC writer Kristine Marsh may very well be the most humor-challenged of the bunch.

In an Aug. 27 MRC item, Marsh somehow chooses to interpret a "Daily Show" segment on the Ferguson, Mo., shooting by declaring that "Jon Stewart had a lot of hate to unload on Fox News, and a lot of sanctimonious posturing on race." Marsh added: "Stewart condescendingly lectured Sean Hannity, saying 'Do you not understand that life in this country is inherently different for white people and black people?'"

But Marsh failed to include the context of that statement -- the accompanying video clip includes only that statement. In fact, Stewart was responding to Hannity's statement that he would simply lift his shirt to let an officer know he had a gun if he were ever stopped by police.

Marsh then demonstrated her utter lack of a sense of humor:

All standard fare for the media’s race baiters, but then Stewart pushed the boundaries of reason and claimed that racial discrimination was something every black person in America faced on a constant hourly basis.

“I guarantee you that every person of color in this country has faced an indignity — from the ridiculous to the grotesque to the sometimes fatal — at some point in their … I’m going to say last couple of hours because of their skin color.”

It’s hard to argue with such an absurd statement that Stewart could obviously know nothing about, much less, “guarantee.” 

Marsh has obviously never heard of exaggerated claims being the base of humor.  Marsh's huffing that Stewart was making "such an absurd statement" contrasts with Rush's Limbaugh regular defense of his repeated offensive remarks by claiming he was merely illustrating absurdity by being absurd.

How is it that Marsh can presumably see Limbaugh's absurdity for what it is but not Stewart's? 


Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 PM EDT
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
MRC Doesn't Fact-Check, Tries To Create Scandal Where None Exists
Topic: Media Research Center

Mike Ciandella does his best to make his Aug. 13 Media Research Center article sound like a real scandal:

A new report suggested that liberal billionaire Tom Steyer’s hedge fund profited from a $1 billion San Francisco light rail project pushed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Steyer was also a big supporter of Pelosi.

Despite being quick to criticize conservative political donors, the morning and evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC have all ignored the allegation since the Washington Free Beacon broke the story Aug. 12.

According to Washington Free Beacon, Pelosi “steered more than a billion dollars in federal financing” to a transportation project to provide light rail access to the Mission Bay neighborhood in San Francisco. This access helped cause the property value of land owned by Steyer’s hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management, to spike. Farallon has since sold all but two of those properties. Steyer gave at least $5,000 to Pelosi in 2011 alone.

But a closer look into the facts -- which Ciandella apparently didn't do -- disproves his suggestion of a direct quid pro quo.

The light-rail line began construction in 2002, two years before Steyer’s Farallon hedge fund bought into Mission Bay. The majority of the line -- known as the Third Street Light Rail project -- including the part that goes past Farallon’s property, was completed in 2007, and it benefited an entire section of San Francisco, not just the land Farallon owned. Also, the line in question is pretty long, about 5 miles, and Farallon had 30 acres at most. And the Free Beacon concedes that Pelosi was securing funds for the project before Farallon bought land there, which Ciandella didn't note.
 
The Free Beacon also notes that the $967 million Pelosi helped obtain for the line -- the vast majority of the money Ciandella is writing about -- came in 2012. But that money is for an extension of the line (called the Central Subway) and would not run past Farallon-owned land.

Then, for some reason, Ciandella starts ranting about George Soros: "Media is home turf for Soros. He has poured more than $65 million into media and journalism groups through his Open Society Foundations since 2000." But as we've noted, that's less than what conservative billionaires Richard Mellon Scaife, Rupert Murdoch and Sun Myung Moon have spent each year over the past couple decades to keep afloat the three right-wing newspapers they respectively control (the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the New York Post and the Washington Times).


Posted by Terry K. at 9:50 PM EDT
Thursday, August 14, 2014
NEW ARTICLE: Fluffing -- And Protecting -- The Great One
Topic: Media Research Center
Not only does the Media Research Center play stenographer for the pearls of wisdom that pour from the mouth of right-wing radio host Mark Levin, it hides his offensive remarks from its readers. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 10:17 AM EDT
Saturday, August 9, 2014
MRC Loves To Throw Around 'Censorship' Accusation -- But Censors Stories It Doesn't Like
Topic: Media Research Center

Tim Graham whined in a July 30 NewsBusters post:

The Washington Post has deeply and lovingly covered the corruption scandal around former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, and couldn’t contain its excitement over the trial. In Sunday’s newspaper and in Tuesday’s Post Express tabloid, they highlighted this preview in headlines: “It’s Going To Be Ugly.” They couldn't wait for the ugliness.

Can Graham read the minds of Post writers? Apparently so. 

However, it didn't take much mind-reading to foresee that the trial of McDonnel and his wife would bring out very tawdry things -- heck, the defense, as a key part of their case, is claiming that the Republican governor's wife had a crush on the man who lavished her and the governor with gifts and cash.

It seems that Graham would prefer that the media censor this story. And one part of it is -- NewsBusters sister organization CNSNews.com, which is burying the story by not highlighting it on its front page and leaving coverage to wire reports instead of sending a reporter.

NewsBusters is doing a fine job of censoring it as well: Graham's post is the most recent item with the Robert McDonnell tag.

The Media Research Center loves to accuse the media of censorship any time it fails to advance a given right-wing-friendly storyline. But it undermines whatever moral authority it thinks it has to make such an accusation when its own websites censor stories it doesn't like.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:00 PM EDT
Friday, August 8, 2014
Mark Levin Effectively Calls Female Senator A Whore, MRC Stays Silent
Topic: Media Research Center

It's been more than a week since right-wing radio host Mark Levin ranted at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its endorsement of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu: "You lie down with whores like this and you become one." That means he was effectively calling Landrieu a whore as well.

You'd think that the Media Research Center, which has a business relationship with Levin, would say something. But it hasn't -- just like it didn't when Levin went on a bizarre rant against Jon Stewart, declaring that "I don't trust Jews who change their names."

Perhaps that business relationship  has a clause in which the MRC is to ignore Levin's rants, no matter how offensive. After all, this is the same organziation that reacted to Rush Limbaugh's misogynistic tirade against Sandra Fluke by starting an "I Stand With Rush" fan page and calling Limbaugh's denigration of Fluke as a "slut" and "prostirtute" merely a "regrettable blunder."

Perhaps Brent Bozell and the crew really do believe Landrieu is a whore. After all, they had no problem believing Fluke was a slut.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:06 PM EDT
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
MRC Is Mad That People Wish Obama A Happy Birthday
Topic: Media Research Center

Scott Whitlock really did devote an Aug. 4 Media Research Center item to this complaint:

From 2009 to 2014, every year of Barack Obama's presidency, the networks have observed his birthday, often wishing him a special day. A graphic for CBS This Morning on Monday touted, "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." Co-host Charlie Rose enthused, "President Obama is waking up a year older. The President turns 53 today, but his birthday weekend began Saturday." He reiterated, "Happy birthday, Mr. President."

Guest co-host Vinita Nair parroted, "Happy birthday." Over on NBC's Today, Savannah Guthrie reminded, "By the way, we should mention it's President Obama's 53rd birthday. So, happy birthday to him." Fill-in host Carson Daly offered, "Happy birthday." On America This Morning, the very early ABC show, co-host Devin Dwyer cheered, "Well, happy birthday wishes going out this morning to President Obama." 

How hateful and partisan do you have to be to begrudge anyone wishing the president of the United States a happy birthday? Whitlock can't even be bothered to do any research on how "the networks" have acted in the past, only vaguely claiming that "George W. Bush's July 6 birthday only received sporadic note from the networks."

Yes, we know August is a slow month on the political calendar, but Whitlock has gone beyond "media criticism" and inadvertently exposed the MRC's partisan political agenda.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:09 PM EDT
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Tim Graham's Imaginary J-School
Topic: Media Research Center

Tim Graham is the director of media analysis at the Media Research Center. Here's some of that "media analysis," as described in a July 28 Newsmax article:

Journalists are trained to distrust the United States, and that distrust has trickled down to Israel, says Tim Graham, executive editor of NewsBusters and director of media analysis at the Media Research Center.

"They feel that in most foreign conflicts, they are trained as journalists to always suspect that the United States is doing something immoral,'' Graham said Monday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"In this conflict, Israel is seen as the United States, so Israel must be doing something wrong, especially when the prime minister's not shaking hands with whoever the Palestinian leader of the moment is.

"In this particular case, Israel is the stand-in for the United States. Therefore, Israel is the aggressor and somehow the Palestinians are the victims.''

Seriously? Journalists are trained to distrust the United States? What planet is Graham from?

Graham claims to have had some journalism training in college (well, a mass communications minor), and we're pretty sure that nobody at Bemidji State University ever attempted to train him to "distrust the United States." Meanwhile, I have both bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism, and say unequivocally that learning to distrust the United States was part of my training.

It seems that Graham's "media analysis" has nothing to do with how journalists actually work and everything to do with perpetuating a right-wing caricature of it. It may be divorced from reality, but hey, it apparently keeps the donations rolling in to the MRC.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:42 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, August 3, 2014 9:50 PM EDT
Friday, August 1, 2014
Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

You'd think that after 25 years of attacking the media, the Media Research Center would have developed a clue about how news works. Apparently not.

A July 30 MRC item by Kyle Drennen carries the headline "NBC Touts Palestinian Teen Praising 'Justified' Hamas Terror Attacks on Israe." Drennen complains that NBC "highlighted a Palestinian teenager celebrating the terror group's attacks: 'In Gaza, many see these attacks as justified. 16-year-old Farah Bakkar has developed a following online after live tweeting as [Israeli] bombs fell....Farah never supported Hamas before, but does now.' A sound bite ran of Bakkar proclaiming: 'When I see the [Hamas] rockets getting to Israel, I start loving them more and more and I pray for them.'" Drennen presents this as NBC endorsing the teen's remarks.

This is the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy run amok. It's simply absurd to claim, as Drennen is trying to do, that the inclusion of a point of view in a news report means the news outlet agrees with that viewpoint.

After all these years, this is what passes for "media research" at the MRC.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:18 PM EDT
Friday, July 25, 2014
Tim Graham's Week-Long Transgender Freakout
Topic: Media Research Center

Media Research Center director of media analysis Tim Graham has had an extended transgender freakout over the past week:

In a July 18 NewsBusters post, Graham fretted that a “trans woman” who "worked for the John Kerry for President campaign in Florida in 2004" was running a a Republican to become Nevada's "first gender-confused state legislator."

The same day, Graham huffed that "National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show devoted a unanimous hour on Monday to the transgender 'struggle for civil rights.'" He further huffed: "See how the media agenda and the transgender agenda are exaclty the same: build maximum 'visibility' toward a 'tipping point,' and exclude any and all opponents unless they neatly fit a convenient narrative of hate and bullying."

And that's different from how right-wingers create Obama "scandals" ... how?

But Graham wasn't done venting about the existence of transgenders. On July 23, he targeted NPR once again, grousing that "NPR’s nationally distributed Fresh Air talk show devoted 43 minutes to 'the growing number of people who identify as transgender.'" He added, "Naturally, religion and the idea of nature and natural law only came up as something triumphantly overcome."

Graham is grandiously insistent on expressing his revulsion for transgenders every opportunity he can. That is his employer's agenda, after all.


Posted by Terry K. at 5:20 PM EDT

Newer | Latest | Older

Bookmark and Share

Get the WorldNetDaily Lies sticker!

Find more neat stuff at the ConWebWatch store!

Read my blog on Kindle

Support This Site

« September 2014 »
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30

Bloggers' Rights at EFF
Support Bloggers' Rights!

News Media Blog Network

Add to Technorati Favorites

Add to Google

Subscribe in Bloglines

Add to My AOL

Add ConWebBlog: The Weblog of ConWebWatch to Newsburst from CNET News.com