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).
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 >>
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 lovestoaccuse 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
MRC Censors Mark Levin's Bizarre Religious Attack on Jon Stewart Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center haslongpromoted the musings of right-wing radio host Mark Levin without disclosing that it pays Levin to promote the MRC on his radio show. Now, the MRC is going into full protection mode for Levin.
An anonymous July 23 NewsBusters post (attributed only to "NB Staff" -- why the secrecy, guys?) touts how, in a Fox News appearance, "talk-radio star and author Mark Levin attacked Jon Stewart for trashing Israel -- and then mocking critics by insisting he should be allowed to have nuance. The weird part of this post is that that it's essentially stenography: it simply transcribes Levin, who did not identify any specific statement that Stewart made supposedly "trashing Israel," and the posts adds no detail to substantiate Levin's attack.
This was joined by a July 23 CNSNews.com article by Michael Chapman also transcribing Levin and also not providing any specific examples of Stewart's supposedly offensive remarks; Chapman vaguely states only that Stewart has made "acerbic jokes and comments concerning Hamas's ongoing missile attacks against Israel" and "has joked about the situation in Israel and Gaza."
Not only do these MRC promotions for Levin fail to disclose the MRC's business relationship with Levin -- which makes its promotion of him look for all the world like a quid pro quo -- they had an offensive attack by Levin on Stewart.
In a rant against Stewart last week on his radio show, Levin bizarrely declares, "I don't trust Jews who change their names."
You know who else obsesses over Jewish entertainers who changed their names (and there have been a lot of them over the years, which means Levin also doesn't trust much of the mainstream of entertainment for, oh, the past century)? The neo-Nazis at Stormfront.
(Yes, we know Levin is Jewish, which makes his weird obsession with Stewart's name all the more disturbing.)
The MRC might want to take a break from its mutual back-scratching with Levin to explain to its readers why Levin and Stormfront share a hobby.
UPDATE: A July 25 CNS article by Susan Jones documents a lawsuit filed against the Environmental Protection Agency by Levin's legal foundation, which also fails to disclose the MRC's business relationship with Levin.
MRC's Graham Ignores Maureen Dowd's Professional Jealousy Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center loved New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd when she bashed the Clintons during the 1990s, but when she followed that by going after the Bush administration, they dismissed her as just another East Coast liberal -- Brent Bozell dismissed her as a "liberal windbag."
But now that Dowd has returned to Clinton-bashing, she's back in the MRC's good graces.
MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham devotes a July 14 NewsBusters post to praising Dowd for having "the audacity to knock Chelsea Clinton for giving speeches for $75,000 a pop, even if it went to the Clinton Foundation, which is designed for the further aggrandizement of the Clinton reputation."
But Graham ignores the idea that there may be a little professional jealousy behind Dowd's sniping. Media Matters notes that Dowd makes less than half of what Chelsea Clinton makes for her speeches, adding that "Dowd did not respond to a request for comment seeking to determine whether she donates her speaking fees to charity."
But then, Dowd was spouting the MRC party line, which earns her temporary immunity from having her motives questioned.
The American Conservative has a review of a new book about L. Brent Bozell Jr., an early conservative movement leader and the father of Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell III. In it, we learned some of the some of the father's behaviors that have shaped his son -- his "militant Catholicism" which at one point led him to move his entire family to Spain where he became an even more fervent Catholic; his early obsession with "life issues," and his evangelizing zeal"; and "Bozell’s manic depression, the embarrassing early incidents, the alcoholism, the inevitable personal injuries, and the intervention of police and, in one instance, embassy officials."
It's from this environment that Bozell III spring. Explains a lot, doesn't it?
MRC's Double Standard on Disclosure Topic: Media Research Center
Sean Long rants in a July 9 Media Research Center item:
The liberal media love to hate the Koch Brothers but are far less enthusiastic about connecting George Soros’ billions to liberal policies.
On July 6, Coral Davenport of The New York Times revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new regulations on power plant emissions were largely inspired by the work of environmental activists at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The broadcast networks have not mentioned the NRDC connection to the new regulations, and even the Times ignored that liberal mega-donor Soros has bankrolled the NRDC.
The Times called the EPA regulations “a remarkable victory for the National Resources Defense Council” for developing the “novel” framework that the EPA would adopt, but they also failed to mention the more than $1.7 million in Soros-funding the group received since 2004 ($1,771,893).
This is from the same MRC that defended Richard Mellon Scaife without disclosing that he donated more than $3 million to the MRC.
Apparently, the MRC's disclosure requirement applies to everyone else but the MRC.
MRC Defends Scaife, Doesn't Disclose He Was An MRC Donor Topic: Media Research Center
A July 4 NewsBusters post, attributed only to "NB Staff," complains that a New York Times obituary for Richard Mellon Scaife, "a longtime supporter of conservative causes," contains "nasty personal swipes."
Not only does "NB Staff" not dispute the accuracy of the information -- choosing instead to reprint a 1998 column by Brent Bozell defending Scaife -- it also fails to include a very important disclosure: Scaife-controlled foundations were major donors to NewsBusters' parent organization, the Media Research Center.
MRC's Bozell & Graham Upset Obama's Horning In On Their Media-Bashing Topic: Media Research Center
Tim Graham and Brent Bozell write in their July 2 column:
President Barack Obama treats the press like a spoiled child treats his parents. Despite the pampering, he just keeps complaining about them until he gets his way. As America tires of his inflated sense of self-importance while the economy limps and his foreign policy crumbles, Obama travels around the country complaining that the mean old media aren't complimentary enough.
He's trying to intimidate the press — especially those who are now elbowing their colleagues to hold him accountable for his growing list of fiascoes. How far the spoiled child has fallen.
Bozell and Graham seem upset that Obama's horning in on their territory. After all, intimidating the press and complaining that the mean old media aren't complimentary enough to their agenda is the raison d'etre for the Media Research Center.
Apparently, only conservatives are allowed to criticize "the media."
MRC Complains That Media Isn't Repeating Its False Attack On Obama Topic: Media Research Center
A July 1 Media Research Center item by Geoffrey Dickens carries the headline "89 Percent of Network Stories Omit Obama's Role in Causing Border Crisis." Dickens apparently hasn't considered the fact that this is because Obama didn't.
Dickens asserts that "the President’s own failure to enforce immigration laws" is "a cause for thousands of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border." But in the very next paragraph he backs off, writing that it is only a "possible cause." That suggests that even Dickens knows he's making a claim not supported by fact.
Dickens then claimed that Obama "extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)" is allegedly one of "the ways the Obama administration has encouraged the flow of illegal immigrants." But DACA would not apply to any of the current refugees; to be eligible, an undocumented immigrant must have "continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time."Therefore, DACA cannot possibly be attracting these immigrants.
Curiously, Dickens is silent about the actual root cause of the current border crisis: drug violence in Central America. Even MRC subsidiary CNSNews.com has acknowledged that drug violence is to blame.
The only evidence Dickens provides to back up his attack on Obama is a generic link to MRC Latino's Facebook page and a link to an earlier MRC piece he wrote that simply quotes a Univision commentator blaming Obama (and also failing to mention the drug violence).
If you're ignoring basic, documented facts the way Dickens does, there's no way to take his "media research" seriously.