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Tuesday, June 18, 2019
MRC Still In Damage Control Over Trump And The Central Park Five
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center just can't seem to give up pushing a factually flawed story about Donald Trump and the Central Park Five. Karen Townsend takes a stab at it in a July 3 post, motivated by a scene in the miniseries about the case, "When They See Us":

Shortly after the Central Park attack, private citizen and real estate developer Donald Trump becomes a part of the story when he pays $85,000 for full-page ads in the city’s newspapers advocating for the return of the death penalty. The mother of one of the boys arrested for the rape sees a television interview with Trump as he says, “You better believe I hate the people that took this girl and raped her brutally.”

When another one of the mothers of the Central Park Five boys is asked by a reporter what she thinks of Donald Trump calling for the death penalty for her son, she is shocked and bursts into tears while a spokesman dismisses Trump as "a real estate hustler."

Later, at home, the mother and a friend have a drink together with the television on in the background. The two women hear Donald Trump tell a reporter that he would like the opportunity to be "a well-educated black" because he thinks they "do have an actual advantage today.”

"They need to keep that bigot off tv, is what they need to do," the mother angrily responds. "That devil wants to kill my son," she says later.

A bit of levity is added for the viewer when the friend tells her not to worry about Trump’s remarks because “his 15 minutes [are] almost up.”

It is false to claim that Trump called for the boys to be killed. For one thing, he was calling for bringing back the death penalty in the state of New York in general. He said in an interview with Larry King at the timethat he supported the death penalty only "if the woman died" and if perpetrator was "at a certain age. If they're minors, they should be treated very strongly." All of the boys were minors at the time and would not have been subject to the death penalty if it were reinstated, anyway.

Don't forget, in 1989, New York City was experiencing an extremely high crime rate, and residents were losing patience with city efforts to get it under control. The subject of the death penalty was a popular topic of conversation at the time so it wasn’t particularly unusual that Trump weighed in with his opinion.

As we pointed out the last time the MRC did this, Trump's newspaper ad did reference the Central Park attack, the ran just a few months after it occurred, and the headline on it blared, "BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!" It seems pretty clear who Trump was talking about, even if he didn't explicitly state it. Further, according to a CNN article on Trump's appearance on Larry King, "Trump told King his newspaper ads were not 'pre-judging' the five teens, but rather advocating for their execution if they were to be found guilty."

To repeat: Even though he admitted that the death penalty doesn't apply to minors, Trump appeared to calling for it anyway and only later clarified he didn't want it to apply to minors. It's a muddled message, something Trump is prone to -- muddled enough that the MRC should know better than to continue to make these kneejerk defenses of Trump over this.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:28 PM EDT
Monday, June 17, 2019
MRC's Media-Bashing Book Overlaps Levin's Media-Bashing Book
Topic: Media Research Center

This has to be a little embarassing: Mark Levin's anti-media book "Unfreedom of the Press" was released on May 21. Just two weeks later, Levin's buddies at the Media Research Center, Tim Graham and Brent Bozell, released their own book covering much of the same territory, "Unmasked."

That's a pretty short promotion window to avoid direct competition between two books. The fact that Levin's book was released four days before a long holiday weekend doesn't give much time for promotion either (though Graham, Bozell and the MRC did what they could for him).

The MRC is doing the usual things to promote the Graham-Bozell book: propagandistic articles at the its "news" division, CNSNews.com, a promotional overview of the book at NewsBusters (which suggests it's basically a condensation of the past three years of NewsBusters posts), and media appearances that stay inside the right-wing bubble that guarantee neither Bozell nor Graham will be asked anything but softball questions by sycophantic interviewers.

A side note: "Unmasked" is published by Humanix Books, a division of Newsmax. But the MRC didn't disclose this fact when mentioning Newsmax on its main content website, NewsBusters. A Feb. 19 post touted an media appearance by Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, and a May 4 column by Jeffrey Lord asserted that "Newsmax is indeed a quite serious news outlet," but neither disclosed that Newsmax was publishing Graham and Bozell's book.

We'll be taking a closer look at the book in the near future, so stay tuned.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:02 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, June 17, 2019 9:43 PM EDT
Saturday, June 15, 2019
MRC Shouts 'Pedophilia!' At Snapchat
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center knows a good, inflammatory narrative when it sees one, and it saw a huge one it could smear Snaspchat with, as Corinne Weaver detailed in a June 3 post:

A tech company has made a disturbing statement during the left-centric “Pride Month.”

For Snapchat, the LGBTQ might also include pedophiles. In the campaign for “Love Has No Labels” held by Snapchat, one of the options wasa “Love Has No Age” filter. While this filter appears to be defunct as of June 3, conservatives on Twitter pointed out the option over the weekend of June 1-2. Twitter user Ashley St. Clair posted a video of herself with the “Love has No Age” filter.

The filter had the options to say that love had no gender, race, or religion, as part of the mass-marketed Pride Month that infiltrates businesses and social media in June. But age did not seem to fit in the list, unless it was meant to justify pedophilia.

Needless to say, Weaver offered no actual evidence that Snapchat intended the filter to "justify pedophilia." Instead, she smeared Snapchat further, asserting that it "has a reputation for enabling pedophiles on the app," again baselessly portraying Snapchat as deliberately catering to pedophiles.

Such claims could be legally actionable of they cannot be proven, -- indeed, Weaver indeed provides no evidence for her suggestion that Snapchat is deliberately enabling pedophiles. The MRC might want to have a chat with a libel lawyer about this.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:08 AM EDT
Friday, June 14, 2019
MRC's Graham Spins for Trump: 'He Meant 'Nasty' In A Good Way!
Topic: Media Research Center

How in the tank is the Media Research Center for President Trump? It's even trying to explain away his description of Meagan Markle as "nasty."

Tim Graham (of course) complained in a June 1 post that "CNN and others leaped at the chance to exaggerate comments by President Trump about Meghan Markle, the former American actress who married Prince Harry and is now known as the Duchess of Sussex." But Trump did, in fact, say of Markle that "I didn't know that she was nasty" -- no exaggeration necessary.

And here's the way Graham goes into cleanup mode: "It's not misquoting the president to say he called Markle nasty (or her comments nasty). But it was clear from the exchange that he had no ill will toward the duchess at this point."

See? Trump meant "nasty" in a good way! It's all about context!

This, by the way, from the same guy who gets hypocritically gets mad when journalists put the words of non-conservative politicians in context when it serves his right-wing agenda not to do so.

And it wouldn't be Graham without a dose of irrelevant whataboutism: "Obama brought the Queen of England an iPod with his speeches on it, and the pro-Obama media didn't blink." But Graham's sudden concern for context evaporated just as suddenly -- the iPod also contained a selection of Broadway show tunes (to accompany another gift, a songbook signed by Broadway composer Richard Rodgers) and video of the queen's 2007 visit to the U.S.

And, of course, Obama never referred to any member of the royal family as "nasty" -- not even in a way that could be taken out of context.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:36 PM EDT
Thursday, June 13, 2019
MRC's Philbin Plays Sorry/Not Sorry Over AOC Insult, Suggests She Deserves Hate
Topic: Media Research Center

When a minor-league baseball team showed a video during a Memorial Day game that showed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among the "enemies of freedom," most people cried foul. The Media Research Center's Matt Philbin did too -- well, kinda.

Philbin asserted in a May 29 post that "for once, Ocasio-Cortez and her media enthusiasts are right to cry, just not for the reasons they think." When one writer pointed out that she is "a regular target of criticism by right-wing media and GOP officials," Philbin sneered: "That’s certainly the way AOC sees things." Philbin then switched into sorry/not sorry mode, suggesting that, just maybe, she deserves all the hate right-wingers like him send her way:

Ocasio-Cortez has made herself the mouthpiece for a fundamentally un-American ideology, one that has a track record of failure, misery and, in may cases, tyranny. She has regularly said the kind of things (untrue, extreme, ignorant) that get the media howling when Donald Trump says them.

Obviously, it’s horrible that she gets threats, and the authorities should track them and punish the criminals who make them. There’s gotta be a special place in hell for those who make threatening phone calls. But Twitter isn’t a nice place. Unfortunately, to take and defend a controversial position on social media is to stir up the fever swamp and poke at things -- left and right -- better left on the bottom. And that goes for everybody.

The Grizzlies apologized to Ocasio-Cortez. That’s nice. More important, the team apologized to the ones who really deserve it: the fans who came to the park for some baseball and got politics. They could stay home and watch Fox or CNN for that. Memorial Day should be observed at ballparks and arenas across the country, but it shouldn’t be an opportunity to score political points. No entertainment event should be. So Grizzlies, shut up and hit the ball.

Philbin continued his sorry/not sorry act two days later in a post attacking another writer, this time Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell, for pointing out the insult, which included a copy-and-paste from his earlier post:

To be clear, a video -- any video -- insulting any political figure should never have run at a ballpark, Memorial Day or not. Because nobody should have politics intrude on their day at the game. If they want partisan hackery mixed in with their sports, they can stay home and watch ESPN -- or read the Post sports page. As for the content, is it hate speech? Not really. Is it an “implicit incitement to violence,” as Boswell condemns it? No. It’s an over-the-top and debatable description of her policy stance. Ocasio-Cortez has made herself the mouthpiece for a fundamentally un-American ideology, one that has a track record of failure, misery and, in may cases, tyranny. Americans still, thankfully, have an innate distrust of socialism.

And to show how much Philbin opposes politics in sports, he used his ostenible sports-themed post to attack "the left" for having "eschewed overt patriotism, and at various times embraced socialism, apologized for communism, and loudly denounced the history of America and the rest of the West." He went on to whine that "I eagerly await [Boswell's] reaction column to the next Emmy’s or Oscars, or whichever is the next entertainment awards show festival of hate for Trump and other Republicans. Should be an enlightening read."


Posted by Terry K. at 9:43 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
NEW ARTICLE: LGBT-Bashing To The Max
Topic: Media Research Center
Mysterious Media Research Center sports blogger Jay Maxson has a particular dislike for gays and transgender community -- and he (or she) really hates Caitlyn Jenner, so much that the MRC had to delete one of his Jenner-bashing posts. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 2:19 PM EDT
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
MRC Opposes Using Correct Scientific Terminology Regarding Abortion
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center is so anti-science -- and so anti-abortion -- that it objects when news organizations correctly use scientific terms when discussing it.

Tim Graham raged in a May 21 post about NPR's correct use of the term "fetus" to describe an unborn child:

Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review pointed out that NPR standards-and-practices guru Mark Memmott issued a new memo -- a "guidance reminder" -- instructing his taxpayer-funded staff how their language on abortion should not concede anything to "antiabortion groups." It isn't about objectivity. It's about using language to shift public opinion.

According to NPR, Memmott is "charged with cultivating an ethical culture throughout our news operation." Unbelievably, this memo is summarized as "We need to be precise, accurate and neutral." 

It's fascinating that liberals who are so exquisitely sensitive about the dignity and humanity of the "illegal immigrant" -- don't use that term! -- or the people denying their gender "assigned at birth" can so easily dehumanize babies with the term "fetus," which we've called the F-bomb of abortion terms.

Graham links back to a 2008 column he ghost-wrote for his boss, Brent Bozell, that did indeed rant about that scientifically accurate term because it doesn't jibe with the anti-abortion narrative:

What a cold, humanity-negating word that is. Happy pregnant women carry "babies." But indecisive or panicked pregnant women carry a "fetus." How discriminatory that sounds in regard to an innocent human life.

"Fetus" has a dictionary definition: the young of a mammal that resembles its parents in physical form, in our case, a human with hands and feet and eyes and a beating heart. But to our media and political analysts, it has a different definition: a subhuman appendage, a disposable mass of tissue, a slave to our whims, and too often, a casualty of our irresponsibility.

[...]

Our media elite prides itself on an official or unofficial policy of not using insulting or offensive terms about women or minorities in its daily news content. It’s about time they took the same approach to the unborn baby, and nixed the word "fetus" as too demeaning of human life.

Yes, the MRC actually demanded that a word be banned for political reasons.

Graham went on to grouse about the NPR's guidance on the the anti-abortion crowd's new obsession, the "fetal heartbeat"; NPR advised putting it in quotes and accurately noted that at six weeks into a pregnancy, when the supposed heartbeat can be detected, it is not yet a fetus but an embryo. Graham sneered: "Apparently it should be the "embryo heartbeat" law?"

Graham also mocked the death of abortion provider George Tiller, who was killed by an anti-abortion activist 10 years ago (which Graham didn't mention). He declared: "Personally, I think we should just refer to abortion doctors as 'assault weapons.'" 

Graham raged further against correct scientific terminology in a June 1 post regarding the whole "fetal heartbeat" thing. This time, the target is the New York Times and Wired for inconveniently pointing out not only that a fetus at six weeks is an embryo, there is no heart to speak of at that stage, just "embryonic pulsing" of what eventually develops into the heart.

Aiden Jackson used a June 6 post to uncritically quote Fox News' Tucker Carlson attacking the Times for using that scientifially accurate terminology -- or, as Jackson put it, "manipulating language" -- ominously adding, "The movement to suppress dissent from any views that are contrary to the liberal media is well under way." As if the MRC's goal wasn't to suppress dissent from any views that are contrary to right-wing orthodoxy.

Jorge Plaza followed in a June 7 post bashing the Guardian for accurate terminology, which it says is "in line with the view of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the largest professional organization for doctors specializing in women’s health." Plaza's response was to attempt an anti-abortion mini-lecture presented as whataboutism:

Despite its claims, The Guardian is not actually committed to total medical accuracy. U.S. editor-in-chief John Mulholland stated, “We want to avoid medically inaccurate, misleading language when covering women’s reproductive rights.”  But the term “women’s reproductive health” makes no medical sense as a substitute for “abortion.” Pregnancy is not a disease. An abortion does not restore a woman’s health (except in exceptionally rare cases); an abortion always kills a human being.

[...]

The Guardian, The New York Times, and NPR were truly committed to purging medically inaccurate, political jargon, they would refrain from calling abortions “reproductive health” and pro-abortion rights groups “pro-choice.” But, not only do they persistently use these euphemisms, they advertise them. To them, “abortion” is a dirty word that should be avoided at all costs. After all, the word “abortion” brings up grotesque mental images of what the procedure entails -- images that are harmful to the “pro-choice” cause.

The Guardian’s terminology isn’t to promote accurate reporting but to dehumanize unborn life. Though this has been the liberal media’s agenda for years, NPR and The Guardian have made it plain and clear by publishing their guidelines. They have proved our long-held suspicions.

And the MRC confirms our long-held suspicions that it cares more about scoring political points than accuracy or "media research."


Posted by Terry K. at 8:40 PM EDT
Monday, June 10, 2019
MRC On Pelosi Video: It All Depends On What The Meaning Of 'Doctored' Is
Topic: Media Research Center

When is a selectively and misleadingly edited video about Nancy Pelosi not "doctored"? When the Media Research Center decides it's not. Bill D'Agostino huffed in a May 24 post (bolding is his):

Cable news hosts spent Friday morning running damage control for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the President tweeted a video mashup of her verbally stumbling at a press conference. Curiously, CNN and MSNBC parroted the language used by Pelosi’s own office in their efforts to discredit the video: “doctored.”

Between 6:00 a.m. and noon EDT on Friday, CNN and MSNBC hosts and journalists used the term “doctored video” 32 times. That term was attributed to Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff only once within the same time span.

[...]

The video tweeted by President Trump was a compilation that aired on Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, depicting some of the Speaker’s verbal fumbles during a press conference. While certainly unflattering, that collection of disparate clips – mashed together, but otherwise unedited – could not be described accurately as “doctored” by any stretch of the imagination. A doctored video portrays a false reality, which the simple mashup did not do.

Actually, the non-"doctored" video did portray a false reality -- the idea that Pelosi had nothing but "verbal fumbles" during that press conference -- which, by D'Agostino's definition, makes it "doctored." And calling a heavily edited clip "otherwise unedited" defies reality.

Joseph Chalfant then took a crack at parsing things, comparing it with a different video of Pelosi tweeted out by Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani:

The video retweeted by Trump was only a mash-up of the slip-ups Pelosi had Thursday during her weekly press conference. The video retweeted by Giuliani was a slowed-down video of Pelosi speaking that made her seem as if she was slurring her words. CNN hosts and guests regularly called both of the videos “doctored” despite the fact that nothing was altered in the tweet Trump sent.

Chalfant then complained: "It seems that whenever Democrats' own words are used against them by conservatives, the liberal media will be there to energetically defend them."

Kristine Marsh followed in a May 28 post:

On Tuesday’s show, the hosts of ABC’s The View conflated two unflattering videos starring Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that circulated social media late last week. While only one video was altered, the co-hosts claimed both were “fake,” angrily came to Pelosi’s defense, and demanded that both “doctored” videos needed to be taken down.

[...]

Whoopi [Goldberg] then made a fair argument, that political opponents should be beaten “fair and square” without resorting to doctored videos. However that’s a moot point when the video Trump tweeted about Pelosi wasn’t doctored at all, it just was unflattering to her. Still, Whoopi called both videos, “lies” from the right[.]

Alexander Hall and Corinne Weaver sniffed that the videos merely "made Nancy Pelosi look silly" and criticized those who sought their removal from social media.

Tim Graham and Brent Bozell felt the need to weigh in on this as well in a column filled with their usual whataboutism:

When President Trump creates a verbal miscue, the late-night comedy brigade has a field day. A misspelled tweet. A facial expression. A hand gesture. It takes nothing to trigger media mockery.  What if it's a Democrat?  In the Dobbs video, Pelosi cites “three things” while holding up two fingers. If you think anyone in late-night world is going to pan Pelosi for mental errors, you’re not paying attention.

The perpetually angry left and their allies in the “news” media were outraged that Facebook and Twitter didn’t take down the distorted Pelosi video, although Facebook “deprioritized” it, making it less visible. They don’t remember how they have mangled videotape (and audiotape), like NBC mangling George Zimmerman’s phone call about Trayvon Martin. Or everyone pretending President Trump called all immigrants “animals” when he was discussing MS-13 murderers. Or everyone misrepresenting the Covington Catholic kids as hate-speech villains.

Graham and Bozell even justified mocking Pelosi, complaining that one media outlet "insisted that the Fox Business clip package “offered a misleading impression of a perfectly coherent 21-minute news conference” (as if holding up two figures and saying “three” is perfectly coherent). "

They then used the videos to push their tired victimization narrative: "Right now, it seems to conservative Americans that the current policy is to take down videos and accounts quickly and haphazardly, often based on angry left-wing activist complaints. Conservatives cannot count on the 'independent fact checkers' to police videos, since they have all the same leftist biases as these activists and the "news" media. If these imbalanced current practices continue, these social-media companies will be as mistrusted as the Old Media."


Posted by Terry K. at 2:46 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, June 10, 2019 3:09 PM EDT
Sunday, June 9, 2019
MRC's Graham Whines That CBS' Pelley Won't Admit He's Part Of The 'Liberal Media'
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Tim Graham is as mad as ever that mainstream journalists won't buckle to the MRC's narrative and admit they're part of the "liberal media." In a May 19 post, Graham takes aim at CBS' Scott Pelley, grumbling that Pelley doesn't talk about CBS scandals while plugging his new book:

As part of CBS kissing up to CBS, Late Show host Stephen Colbert brought on 60 Minutes correspondent (and former Evening News anchor) Scott Pelley to promote his new book Truth Worth Telling. No one was going to bring up Dan Rather, not to mention sexual harassment scandals at CBS News, from Pelley's dismissed 60 Minutes colleagues Charlie Rose and Jeff Fager to CBS's harasser at the top, Les Moonves. No, Pelley came on to lecture about how President Trump and foreign governments are poisoning the information well. It sounded like...collusion.

Will Graham and Brent Bozell, in plugging their new anti-media book, agree to appear on any show that might ask about, say, the scandal of Bozell hiding for years the inconvenient fact that Graham ghost-wrote his columns -- let alone anywhere outside the right-wing bubble where they might face any questioning that's less than softball or designed to tee up talking points? Doubtful. Would Graham describe that situation as "collusion"? Doubtful.

Graham, meanwhile, is still miffed that Pelley won't play along with his narrative. Huffing that "Pelley implied the Old Media, the liberal media are the gold standard" when it comes to correcting misinformation, grousing further:

It should be said that just having experience in journalism for decades isn't enough to make you trustworthy, as Dan Rather proved. It can also be said that at sites like NewsBusters, you have senior people who've been reporting on liberal bias for 30 years (ahem). Evaluating the credibility of your news media should involve engaging with media critics and their arguments, not just dismissing their criticism as "poisoning the information." 

It should also be said that "reporting on liberal bias for 30 years" also does not make one trustworthy -- especially when so much of that "reporting" is in bad faith, designed not to make journalism bnetter but to push a partisan political narrative. Graham 's insistence that members of the media should be "engaging with media critics and their arguments" is especially right, given that both he and Bozell have blocked us from following them on Twitter and, therefore, to more personally engage with their arguments. You can claim you're credible if you refuse to engage with your critics, right, Tim?

And, proving that he can hold a grudge like a champion, Graham is still upset with Pelley for failing to lead his first CBS Evening News broadcast with the Anthony Weiner scandal, opting instead for a report on the war in Afghanistan. "The Washington Post showered accolades at the time, gushing Pelley had pleased the late CBS legend Edward R. Murrow," Graham reminded us. Yes, Graham complained about it then, too.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:51 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, June 9, 2019 9:23 PM EDT
Saturday, June 8, 2019
MRC Insults Taylor Swift For Expressing Political Opinions
Topic: Media Research Center

As singer Taylor Swift has moved toward making her political voice heard, the Media Research Center has reacted in the way we've come to expect: with lame, juvenile insults.

When Swift first ventured into the political arena last October, the MRC showed some restraint at first. Kyle Drennen pushed the narrative that it as a media distraction: In the wake of [Brett] Kavanaugh being confirmed to the high court, the liberal media were clearly desperate for any positive news they could find for Democrats. Swift jumping into the midterm campaign on behalf of the left gave the networks exactly what they looking for."

When a candidate Swift supported lost to a Republican the following month, the MRC's Kristine Marsh couldn't help but gloat: "After all three networks gushed over pop star Taylor Swift endorsing the Democrat, Phil Bredesen, in Tennessee’s Senate race, they largely ignored the GOP candidate Marsha Blackburn completely demolishing Bredesen in last night’s election." Gabriel Hays similarly gloated, stating that even though Swift inspired hundreds of thousands of voter registrations, "Swift failed to attract enough turnout needed" to beat Blackburn.

Later in November, when Swift signed a record deal that required the label to split royalty revenues from Spotify with all its articles, Jacob Comello groused:

Taylor Swift is undeniably talented, but she seems to have been struggling with identity for the better part of her career. Her days of strumming tunes about lost high school love into the hearts of country audiences are very long gone, and since the early 2010’s she has been trying to reinvent herself as a pop princess of the same strain as Katy Perry and Ke$ha. Simply put, Swift is a revolving door for labels.

But what about the title “labor radical?” Do you think that befits any of Swift’s incarnations? Apparently, Maxwell Strachan of Huffington Post thinks so.

In Comello's eyes, the writer committed the offense of saying something nice about Swift; he went on to dismiss the deal as "a product of corporate goons hijacking 'solidarity' as part of a slick PR stunt."

But as Swift made it clear she was going to dabble more in politics, the MRC lashed out more. Hays sneered in a March 8 post:

Finally, Taylor Swift has promised to grace us with more of her political opinion. After years of media haranguing and being quiet when asked her opinions on the bad Orange Man (Vice claimed her silence may be partially to blame for Trump’s election) the pop princess claimed that from here on out she “ will be more active in political campaigns.”

And if her stance during the 2018 midterm elections were any indication — she had claimed Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn’s conservative policies “terrified her” — she’s definitely not going to be supporting any conservatives for 2020. Well, not that her record label Universal Music Group would have let her anyway.

[...]

That’s commendable (if only more celebs were that circumspect) but in the end it is no different than any other entertainer who has to sound good to a bunch of postmodern, new age romantics — just use a couple of alt-left buzzwords and you’ve got your ticket. It’s taken almost 30 years for Swift to figure it out, but it seems she’s finally got it. “Invoking racism and provoking fear through thinly-veiled messaging is not what I want from our leaders,” she claimed.

You don’t say.

Of course, we all know Taylor Swift is referring to conservatives. It’s the same rhetoric she used when she slammed Republican Senator from Tennessee Marsha Blackburn during her election in 2018. This marked Swift’s first foray into the public forum, and revealed that she has chosen the lefty team. And who cares if she went in for the wrong candidates and annoyed fans who just wanted her to stick to her craft; Taylor mentioned that she will not be dissuaded in speaking her mind.

Hays wasn't done sneering at Swift for exercising her constitutional right of speaking out on the issues of the day. He heaped more scorn on her in an April 9 post:

Remember when Taylor Swift refused to get political? Good times. Now we know she’s a garden-variety entertainment lefty, and she’s proving it with a large donation to an aggressive pro-LGBT interest group in Tennessee.

[...]

Well at least she’s committing to it, and not only spouting off progressive cliches. Who knows? With her enthusiasm, by this time next year maybe she’ll have kicked out Chick-Fil-A from every airport south of the Mason-Dixon. I’m sure that’s the dream anyway.

After Swift expressed her support for the Equality Act, Jorge Plaza huffed in a June 3 post: "Ever since her decision to go political back in October, Taylor Swift has chugged the entire pitcher of liberal Kool-aid." But Plaza showed he has chugged the entire pitcher of conservative Kool-Aid, uncritically repeating scary Heritage Foundation talking points against the Equality Act, such as that it would force "schools to allow boys into girls' restrooms." Plaza went on to complain that Swift was engaging in "virtue signalling" -- as if that's not what Plaza himself is doing -- and concluding by sneering: "Based on the promise she made in March to be 'more active in political campaigns,' it doesn’t seem like Swift and sanity are never ever getting back together."

Because failing to march in lockstep with the MRC is the definition of insanity, apparently.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:50 AM EDT
Thursday, June 6, 2019
MRC Dismisses Abortion Clinic Violence
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Kyle Drennen complained in a May 22 post:

During a report on Wednesday’s Today show promoting “protests from coast to coast” against pro-life legislation in various states, NBC reporter Stephanie Gosk fretted over such a measure being considered in Louisiana. She noted how “calls from patients have spiked” at a New Orleans abortion clinic and ironically asked a member of the clinic’s staff if a “violent act” had ever occurred at the facility.

[...]

After Caldwell described seeing “protesters almost every day” outside the clinic, Gosk assumed the pro-life demonstrators were dangerous: “Has there ever been any violent act? Any attack on your clinic?” Caldwell claimed: “Absolutely, and on clinic staff.”

Apparently it was missed on Gosk that abortions themselves are acts of violence.

Note how Drennen frames reporting on protests against "pro-life legislation" -- euphemistic terminology instead of the more accurate "anti-abortion" -- as "promoting" the protests. That's what we call the depiction-equals-approval fallacy, a longtime MRC staple.

Note, too, how Drennen quickly deflects away from anti-abortion activists committing violence to claiming that the REAL violence is going on inside the clinic -- perhaps as a justification for anti-abortion violence.

Of course, this sort of deflection is part of the right-wing anti-abortion playbook. When a man shot and killed three people inside a Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, immediately portrayed the man as mentally ill and not part of the anti-abortion movement (even though the killings advance the movement's goals and was clearly inflamed by anti-abortion rhetoric). The MRC proper did the same thing.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:36 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
MRC Loves Levin's New Book, Almost As If It Was Being Paid To Do So
Topic: Media Research Center

Right-wing radio host Mark Levin has a new media-bashing book out, and the Media Research Center is there to lavish praise on it -- almost as if it was being paid to do so. (Levin and the MRC have had previous cross-promotion business deals, after all.)

That comes straight from the top, and Tim Graham and Brent Bozell gush in their May 22 column:

Best-selling author and talk-radio star Mark Levin has another terrific new book that debuted at number one on the charts. The media habitually ignore Levin's books -- no New York Times reviews, no TV interviews, nothing -- and it must drive them insane that he still sells 1 million copies. But this one's is called Unfreedom of the Press, and this one's a direct shot at them, so some may find it impossible to resist a response.

[...]

This is why the liberals don’t want to engage with Levin or his books.  Most won’t seriously debate serious conservatives because as with issues like these, it's a lost cause. There are laws of nature, and this horse manure doesn't fly. They spent eight long years ignoring or dismissing the foibles of Obama while advancing anything he deemed necessary. When Obama aide Ben Rhodes boasted – in the New York Times! – that he had easily created an “echo chamber” in the press to promote their Iran arms deal, they didn't blink in surprise, or embarrassment. They winked.

When Obama was president, there was no resistance, no argument for “standing up to history’s judgment.” There was only teamwork. The team is still intact, now devoted to the proposition that this president ought never have been elected, and now must be removed.

Buy Unfreedom Of the Press. Just imagine what will be the look on Annalisa Quinn's face when she learns Levin has sold a million hardback copies again.

(Actually, we reviewed Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny" for the Huffington Post back in the day, uncovering several factual errors in the process, and Levin had no interest in engaging with us to respond.)

Bozell's MRC minions followed in lockstep. Under the headline "Watch Levin Take a Blowtorch to the ‘Thin-Skinned’ Liberal Media," Curtis Houck effused in a fit of meta-promotion:

Conservative talk radio host Mark Levin dedicated Sunday’s edition of Life, Liberty, & Levin to promoting his new book Unfreedom of the Press (set for release Tuesday) with Fox & Friends: Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth and, as expected, “the Great One” didn’t hold back, throwing the liberal media through a wood chipper and calling out their rampant Trump hatred.

Levin set the table within the first few minutes, providing yet another invaluable history lesson[.]

[...]

Throughout the interview, Levin highlighted example after example of how past Presidents in every century actually worked to undermine the First Amendment, illustrating how overblown the liberal media’s hyperventilation over President Trump are. 

Graham returned for damage-control mode in a June 2 post when someone defied his prediction and did engage with Levin's book in a Washington Post op-ed. When that writer pointed out that right-wing activists "purport[] to analyze the leftward lean of the press with a scholarly veneer," Graham insisted that "We would put our own books at the Media Research Center into that "wake," analyzing liberal bias with a 'scholarly veneer.'" As we've documented, the MRC's "media research" is very much just a veneer, more interested in manufacturing data that fits its right-wing, anti-media agenda than following the data where it leads.

But Graham being Graham -- that is, unable to keep from hurling personal insults at anyone who disagrees with him -- he huffed: "It's always funny when liberal professors lard their books with their analysis, and that is 'scholarly,' but conservative media research has a 'veneer,' like it's fraudulent." That's because conservative "media research" cares only more pushing a political agenda than "scholarly" things like balance and documentation.

When the writer accurately pointed out that the New York Times and the Washington Post are not "liberal equivalents of Fox News," Graham went on attack again: "That's hilarious. But it's the media equivalent of his 'I'm scholarly, you're fake.' It's almost not worth quoting, but Lerner uncorks the time-worn cliche that liberals are the open-minded cosmopolitans that make the best journalists."

Of course, the idea that the Times and the Post are farther to the left than Fox News is to the right is a foundational MRC belief, and Graham can't let it go unchallenged, even if can only offer juvenilie mockery in response.

UPDATE: Graham attacked another less-than-glowing review of Levin's book in a June 5 post. First, he played whataboutism by complaining that the reviewer liked a book critical of Trump by Michael Wolff, "the guy who claimed without evidence that Trump was having an affair with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley." (Levin falsely claimed that President Obama directly intervened in a Israeli election in 2015, and we didn't hear Graham demanding a fact-check over that.)

Graham then inserted Twitter posts from Levin making the same attack against the reviewer. Great minds (are maybe paid to) think alike.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 3:20 PM EDT
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
MRC Mad That Whoopi Goldberg's Veracity Not Treated The Same As Trump's
Topic: Media Research Center

Media Research Center bigwig Tim Graham's current schtick is to "fact-check the fact-checkers" -- which mostly comes down to complaining that President Trump is being fact-checked at all. Graham whines again in a May 3 post:

Can you say "coup" nowadays? It was fun to recall this week that liberal TV news stars like Dan Rather described the impeachment trial of President Clinton that "this is in fact a kind of effort at a quote, ‘coup’?" Some liberals like Whoopi Goldberg on The View are using it right now for Bill Barr: "When the top law man in the country can't give you a straight answer, it makes me uncomfortable. It feels coup-y. Like, it's like a coup of some sort."

But when Donald Trump uses this rhetoric, PolitiFact ranks it as "Pants On Fire."

Yes, Graham is demanding that a talk-show host be held to the same factual standards as the president of the United States.

On May 23, Graham was similarly mad that Trump's overheated Biden-bashing rhetoric was called out:

The liberals at PolitiFact are so touchy about President Trump mocking Democrats that they slap a "Mostly False" on things that just make them angry. Take this statement: "Don't forget Biden deserted you. He's not from Pennsylvania. I guess he was born here, but he left you, folks."

PolitiFact admits Biden hasn't lived in Scranton since 1953...that's 66 years ago. But it's "false" because you can't "desert" a state when your family moves to another state when you're in grade school. So they're basing a "fact check" on not liking the word "deserted." Obviously, Biden could have returned to reside in Pennsylvania when he became an adult, but he never did.

[...]

Jacobson made a brief reference to the fact that Biden's longtime home state of Delaware has no television stations, so Biden needs to get on the air in Philadelphia. And it's easier to project "blue collar-aligned roots" by tying yourself to Scranton. It's also an obvious political move since Pennyslvania is a much bigger player in a presidential election. Mocking any of that as electioneering? Well, that's "Mostly False," according to Democrats who work as "fact checkers." 

PolitiFact concluded: "The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate the statement Mostly False."

That's classic subjective Fact Checker-speak. They object to Republicans ignoring facts that would leave a positive "impression."

And Graham is invoking classic subjective anti-fact-checker speak because he's angry that Trump is being put into context -- something he selectively cares about.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:43 PM EDT
Monday, June 3, 2019
Gay Cartoon Characters Send MRC Into Anti-Gay Freakout Mode
Topic: Media Research Center

At the Media Research Center, the mere existence of non-heterosexual character in a children's cartoon makes it automatically unsafe for children to watch. Annie Piper explains in a April 29 post:

In this day and age, parents have to be extra cautious about what their kids watch as not all cartoons are actually kid appropriate. Fortunately, there are some innocent shows out there, but then there are shows that aren’t as innocent as they seem. One such show, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, proved to fall in the latter category when the first part of their second season debuted on Netflix on April 26.

The series is a revival of a popular kids action show from 1985, and follows heroine Princess Adora (Aimee Carrero) AKA She-Ra. Upon first glance, the show is something most parents would be comfortable with their kids watching as long as they could handle the fantasy violence, but in its second season the TV-Y7 rated series starts to really push the gay agenda—without actually telling you it is.

And how is the show "pushing the gay agenda"? By acknowledging that one female character "has a crush" on another female character and that another character has two dads" (Piper sneered, "yes, that was plural"). Piper then lectured:

By now, we’re (unfortunately) used to most of the prime time adult shows having the requisite gay character and, more recently, even the gay child coming out has become popular on hit shows, but it seems like Hollywood isn’t content to stop there. They are now not only pushing this agenda on fictional kids, but actually pushing it to the children in their audiences, and it seems as though they’re hoping conservative parents don’t watch past the first couple of episodes. Moral of the story: if you don’t already, you might want to research your kid’s favorite shows a little more thoroughly.

Yes, acknowledging that gay people exist is an "agenda," according to the MRC.

The MRC similarly freaked out when a teacher on the long-running children's show "Arthur" married his gay spouse. Take it away, Gabriel Hays:

Some say that if a hero lives long enough, they’ll eventually see themselves become the villain. Well, that certainly can be said for PBS children's classic Arthur. The show, now in its 22nd season, has taken beloved character, Mr. Ratburn, and made him gay. In the season premiere, the 3rd grade teacher and male role model for Arthur and his gang said “I do” to a male anthropomorphic muskrat (or something) in a wedding ceremony attended by his students. As one character exclaimed, “It’s a brand new world.”

That's right -- if you're gay, you're a "villain," according to Hays. And Hays also apparently believes that the show arbitrarily "made [Mr. Ratburn] gay."

Hays goes on to complain that the show dragged out the wedding ceremony "like some sort of grand reveal that ultimately feels insidious rather than celebratory," then sneers: "Let’s just say that Arthur has officially overstayed its welcome."

When a public broadcasting affiliate in Alabama refused to air the "Arthur" episode, the MRC rushed to their defense. Matt Philbin huffed that "The lefty Twitter mob is predictably enraged" by the decision to not air "federally funded gay propaganda." And Kyle Drennen complained that one discussion of the show refused to "acknowledge the controversy of using a kids cartoon show to push a liberal social agenda" and that "journalists immediately attack anyone who objects and demand that they 'celebrate' the effort."

Yes, showing that gay people exist is apparently "propaganda" and an "agenda." And there's no explanation frm the MRC of why the existence of gay people must be suppressed from children.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:04 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, June 3, 2019 6:09 PM EDT
Sunday, June 2, 2019
MRC Still Defending Right-Wing Hate-Mongerers As 'Non-Violent' Conservatives
Topic: Media Research Center

We've documented how the Media Research Center has stood by hate-spewing anti-Muslim writer Laura Loomer by painting her as a free-speech hero as gets deplatformed for her hate -- it can't admit she's anything more than a "controversial Jewish activist." The MRC has continued to promote her stunts as newsworthy and downplay her hate and extremism.

A May 2 article by Alexander Hall complained that PayPal as "deplatformed non-violent conservative activists like Laura Loomer. A May 7 post by Hall promoted how Loomer, ihn protest of her banning by Facebook, "showed up to Facebook’s lobby on May 3, skewering the company for showing solidarity for everybody but Jewish and Christian people." Hall benignly described Loomer only as a "recently deplatformed activist," silent once again on her well-documented-elsewhere hate; instead, he huffed that "Facebook, like many other big tech companies, is famous for a left-wing political monoculture."

Hall used a May 14 post to give free publicity to a film about "five people who have been shut down and silenced on social media," including Loomer, whom he described only as a "Jewish-American activist/performance artist." Hall tried to whitewash other hatemongers featured in the film as well. Tommy Robinson is described only as a "British activist" when, in fact, he's the leader of the far-right anti-Muslim English Defence League; Gavin McInnes is described only as a "former CRTV host" when he's also the founder of the violent, misogynist Proud Boys (and, thus, a former employee of MRC buddy Mark Levin, though he was fired only after Levin's CRTV merged with Glenn Beck's The Blaze).

Hall didn't mention that one of the makers fo the film, George Llewelyn-John, is a colleague of Robinson's, and another, Caolyn Robertson, is Robinson's former cameraman and best known for a video rant following an incident in London in which six pedestrians were killed by a Muslim in a car, where Robertson asserted that "if you import a culture, you get a culture." In other words, this film is nowhere near as objective as Hall suggests it is.

A May 17 post by Corinne Weaver noted Loomer was only among the "individuals" banned by Facebook with no mention of why she was banned. On May 21, Hall had another benign description for Loomer -- "Jewish American activist" -- and complained that she and Infowars conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson were among "controversial but ultimately non-violent YouTubers" who have been "purged."

Gabriel Hays contributed to the whitewashing in a May 23 post, complining that a vulgar song by a French rapper nobody's ever heard of remains on YouTube "while internet personalities like Laura Loomer and Paul Joseph Watson have been removed for 'far less violent content.'"

Hall again touted that dubious film in a May 24 post, and how it features "interviews multiple conservatives who have been targeted by Big Tech purges such as Laura Loomer and Tommy Robinson."


Posted by Terry K. at 8:03 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, June 2, 2019 8:23 PM EDT

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