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Monday, September 26, 2016
Working the Refs: MRC Attacks Debate Moderator Lester Holt
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has been in ref-working mode on the moderators for the presidential debates since before they were even named. In August, a month before the debate moderator were announced, MRC chief Brent Bozell was warning of biased moderators and declaring that "I'm watching to see to what degree are you going to have more impartial moderators this time."

When NBC's Lester Holt was named the moderator of the first debate, the MRC was quick to downplay the fact that he was reportedly chosen to appease Donald Trump. Tim Graham huffed in a Sept. 2 post that "Trump likes Holt, but it's not out because he's been tough on Hillary" and was mad that Trump committed jounalism by asking Trump "about his 'staggering negatives' and outrageous statements." Geoffrey Dickens followed up by omitting all mention of the Trump-appeasing choice of Holt to rummage through the MRC archives to dig up "a few examples of Holt’s most liberal moments in his time at NBC."

On Sept. 9, the MRC's Rich Noyes ran to Fox Business to complain that criticism of NBC's Matt Lauer for his hard questioning of Hillary Clinton, and relatively mild question of Trump, during a presidential forum  means that Holt is "going to try to be very careful with the questions he's asking Hillary Clinton because of the way he's seeing his colleague being treated." Noyes didn't mention that his employer was mocking Lauer as a lightweight before the forum by mockingly posting photos of his cross-dressing Halloween antics.

The MRC then hilariously went into projection mode, whining about others doing the exact thing it's doing by trying to influence Holt before the debate:

  • Under the headline "Working the Refs: Journalists Push Debate Moderators to Be Tougher on Trump," Dickens grumbled that "the liberal media have set the stage for NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and his fellow presidential debate moderators to be rougher with the GOP nominee," emphasizing that Holt is "liberal-leaning."
  • Bozell projected in a Fox TV appearance that "Hillary Clinton is already just sort of pre-playing this a little — that the media will be responsible if it shows media bias and doesn't go tough on Donald Trump, that it’s intimidated by Trump, that maybe Lester Holt will be intimidated by Donald Trump just as they argue Matt Lauer was at an NBC town hall event," adding, "They’re working the refs and this comes out of the Clinton playbook." It also comes out of the MRC playbook as well, but Bozell won't tell you that.

Then, when it was revealed that Holt is a registered Republican, the MRC -- which for years has complained about reporters who are registered Democrats -- suddenly decided that party registration was meaningless.

The MRC's NewsBusters Twitter account sent this comment from Bozell on the matter: "So is Colin Powell. So what?" And Graham when into full sulk mode:

The Washington Post and Time magazine are trying to play up the fact that debate moderator Lester Holt is a registered Republican – as if this means anything about his performance. Registering only gives you the right to vote as a Republican. It doesn’t mean that you actually do. It could just be a public-relations ploy.

To prove this, Graham has to go back a whopping 26 years, citing a 1990 MRC item about one journalist who said he was a registered Republican to balance out his Democratic wife and get campaign literature from both sides. But that journalist, Tony Kornheiser, was a sports reporter at the time and, thus, irrelevant to the current discussion.

Graham went on to complain that "If Holt had acted like a "registered Republican" on the air, he'd have never made it to the anchor desk," adding, "Liberals would not suggest that 'a case for partisan bias against Chris Wallace will be tough to make' based on his voter registration." Yet the MRC has not been forthcoming with a greatest-hits item of Wallace "liberal bias." Why is that? Because Wallace is the MRC's guy -- in 2007, Bozell said that the GOP "ought not to suggest, but demand, a Brit Hume or a Chris Wallace as moderators" for a Republican debate.

Graham added, apparently without irony, "The amount of 'gaming' by the Democrats has been intense, even on the morning of the debate." As it has been by the MRC.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:40 PM EDT
Sunday, September 25, 2016
MRC Invokes Clinton Equivocation Again to Defend Trump
Topic: Media Research Center

You remember the Clinton Equivocation, right? The right-wing idea that right-wing media will give a pass to the bad behavior of any conservative candidate because it's presumed that a Clinton has already done it first and worse. The Media Research Center has invoked it a couple times already to defend Donald Trump, and it's doing so again.

This time, Nicholas Fondacaro does the honors in a Sept. 20 post in an attempt to shield Trump from emerging accusations about the shady accounting of his Trump Foundation. Fondacaro is quick to give Trump a pass because, in the words of commentator Mark Halperin, "But this does not involve the government, he was not a government official." That's all the license Fondacaro needs:

That is an important distinction Halperin made there, because that is what the Clinton Foundation is accused of. Recently discovered e-mails show how Clinton Foundation donors were able to obtain special meetings with Secretary Hillary Clinton, and the ability to ask for favors. Even though what Trump was alleged to have done is terrible, it is not quite up to par with having access to the US federal government.

So: Trump is "terrible," but he's not Hillary -- who by definition of being a Clinton is presumed to be always worse, regardless of the actual evidence -- so his sleaziness gets the MRC's stamp of approval, and its effective endorsement of Trump stands.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:49 PM EDT
Saturday, September 24, 2016
MRC: CNN's Amanpour 'Angrily Maim[s]' Hillary Critics
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Curtis Houck goes a little too far into hyperbolic-rhetoric territory in his Sept. 13 post:

CNN International host Christiane Amanpour was at it again on Monday night in flashing her far-left ideology as she used her eponymous show to angrily maim critics of Hillary Clinton and (a select few) in the media as sexist for raising questions about her health and hiding the pneumonia diagnosis and unwilling to let “a girl have a sick day or two.” 

Amanpour is "angrily maiming" her critics? We know Houck is going for hyperbole here, but sheesh.

Houck goes on to write this:

Needless to say, it’s clear Amanpour left the idea of objective analysis in the dust and ignored the initial dismissals of Clinton’s 9/11 episode as just part of their broader “conspiracy theory” narrative being raised not by sensible journalists and voters but the obscene grocery store tabloid The National Enquirer.

Houck seems to have forgotten that his employer had no problem with "the obscene grocery store tabloid The National Enquirer" when it was going after Democrats like John Edwards. He also seems to be unaware that the Enquirer has been promoting Trump throughout the entire presidential campaign by pushing sleazy attacks on his opponents -- including, yes, speculation about Hillary's health -- and that Enquirer CEO David Pecker is a close friend of Trump.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:33 AM EDT
Friday, September 23, 2016
MRC Flip-Flops on Debate Moderators Vetting Trump
Topic: Media Research Center

Tim Graham and Brent Bozell whine in their Sept. 21 column about presidential debate moderators:

Already, Fox's Chris Wallace drew liberal outrage by declaring: "I do not believe that it's my job to be a truth squad. It's up to the other person to catch them on that." Wallace sees his role as being like a referee in a heavyweight boxing match, where no one remembers him being there. But the left hounds today's liberal media, saying that being a mere referee is being an accessory to evil.

Funny, we remember when the Media Research Center felt the opposite way about vetting Trump -- earlier this year, to be exact. This time, though, the MRC's Nicholas Fondacaro was complaining that NBC's Chuck Todd said what his bosses are now praising Wallace for saying:

For Chuck Todd to insinuate that it’s not the media’s job to dig into a candidate’s past or fully vet a candidate for the public is just plain ridiculous. Todd laid the this duty at the feet of the other candidates stating “Folks, those are all inconsistencies that a normal campaign that was running against Donald Trump would probably put together, into TV ads and try to see if it would leave a mark with voters.”

For a member of the media to advocate for campaigns alone to do the vetting is an abdication of journalistic duty.

So, to summarize: In February, when Trump was the MRC's enemy, it was "abdication of journalistic duty" not to vet Trump or point out that he's lying. Now, with Trump the Republican nominee and the MRC obliged to defend him no matter what, not vetting Trump or pointing out when he's lying is the highest form of journalism.

Graham and Bozell also kept up the anti-fact jihad against fact-checkers, complaining that Trump has been caught by fact-checkers in more lies than Clinton -- " PolitiFact routinely fails to assign its "fact-checkers" when Team Clinton lies through its teeth" -- without apparently stopping to consider the seemingly obvious fact that Trump has told more lies than Clinton.

But, hey, when you have to defend a candidate that seemingly lies all the time, attacking the mere existence of facts is pretty much the only defense you have.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:14 PM EDT
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
MRC: Mentioning Roger Ailes' Sexual Harassment Is 'Liberal Bias'
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Alexa Moutevelis Coombs, in a Sept. 12 post, was tickled to death that her employer's signature issue of "liberal media bias" got a shout-out during the Miss America pageant, in the form of a question about Matt Lauer's questioning of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during a presidential forum.

Other things getting questions at the Miss America pageant, however, did not meet with Coombs' approval:

Other instances of liberal bias were on display through the selection of questions. Actress Sara Foster brought up Fox News to Miss Mississippi, Laura Lee Lewis, in saying, “Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson just accepted a $20 million settlement from Fox News for her sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes. Fox paid, Ailes walked. What message does this send?”

Mark Cuban asked Miss Washington, Alicia Cooper, of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest, “Do you sit with him or stand against him?” And she responds that Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. 

Wait, so simply mentioning Ailes' sexual harassment scandal is "liberal bias"? And it's also somehow "liberal bias" to ask in a nonpartisan way how a contestant stands on Kaepernick's protest?

That tells us the MRC's definition of "liberal bias" is completely meaningless.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:24 PM EDT
Monday, September 19, 2016
MRC Attacks Another Fact-Checker Who Accurately Checked Facts
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Tim Graham grumbles in a Sept. 16 post:

The website Politifact Bias underlined how slippery the “fact checkers” get when they’re screening speeches by the Democrats – as they actually admit they’re following Clinton campaign tipsters. PolitiFact's Sean Gorman admitted "Sarah Peck, the Virginia communications director for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign, pointed us to a June 7 article in BuzzFeed News about the tent episode." They rated this speech nugget from Tim Kaine “True”:

"When Moammar Gadhafi was set to visit the United Nations, and no one would let him stay in New York, Trump allowed Gadhafi to set up an elaborate tent at his Westchester County (New York) estate."

Kaine’s next sentence: “That’s right, when Gadhafi was looking for a place to stay in America, and because of his human rights track record, and the pan am bombing, others were turning him away, he found one guy – one guy – who was willing to host him.”

There’s only one problem: Gadhafi never stayed there. 

But Kaine never said Gadhafi stayed there. He said Trump allowed Gadhafi to set up a tent at his estate, something Graham and his fellow fact-check-hater concede is true. You really can't fact-check an implication.

You can, however, fact-check deliberately imprecise language used to promtoe a false talking point, as the MRC did all weekend in parroting Donald Trump by falsely insisting that Hillary Clinton directly promoted birtherism.

Graham's PolitiFact attack is, of course, part of the MRC's campaign to de-legitimize fact-checkers in order to cover up for Trump's many, many lies.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:49 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 19, 2016 8:51 PM EDT
Sunday, September 18, 2016
MRC Spins Hard To Falsely Blame Hillary For Birtherism
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center couldn't be a better public-relations agent for the Trump campaign if it was being paid for it (and it may be, as far as we know). Just look at how it is despserately spinning for Trump to go against the facts to portray Hillary Clinton -- not Trump -- as the biggest promoter of birtherism.

Kyle Drennen kicked off the spin campaign by flat-out denying facts:

On Friday, both NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning blasted Donald Trump for refusing to respond to a question about whether President Obama was born in the United States and “fact-checked” his assertion that Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign actually first pushed the conspiracy theory. On Today, correspondent Peter Alexander noted: “The Trump team issuing a reversal, saying, quote, ‘Mr. Trump believes President Obama was born in the United States’....And falsely accusing Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign of first raising the issue.”

On This Morning, correspondent Major Garrett similarly mentioned: “At a conservative political conference in 2015, Trump again questioned the President’s citizenship and falsely tried to pin the rumor on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign.”

Most likely both reporters picked up the “false” label from liberal source PolitiFact, which rated the claim to be untrue. However, the website’s own fact-check of the issue cited a Daily Beast report which detailed the prominent role a Clinton campaign volunteer played in push birtherism during the 2008 campaign.

Drennen proves that statemenet wrong by quoting from a Politico article admitting  that "a volunteer coordinator in Iowa had to step down from the Clinton campaign after the coordinator sent an e-mail saying Obama was a Muslim."

So, no, not actually "prominent" at all.

Next up was Tom Blumer, who was upset at the Associated Press for stating the fact that "there is no evidence" that "the 'birther movement' was started by Hillary Clinton." His evidence that this isn't true: The hosts of "Morning Joe" chatting about it. No, really.

Blumer also brings up the 2007 Mark Penn memo proposing to attack Obama's "American values," but he fails to mention that Penn's suggestion was never implemented by the campaign. Nevertheless, Blumer rants: "Memo to AP and all the other establishment press outlets claiming that Donald Trump is making a false claim about Hillary Clinton: Yes, there is evidence, and no, it's not a false conspiracy. You just don't have the courage to do your jobs, break from your reflexive pro-Hillary mindset, and report it."

Just like Blumer doesn't have the courage to admit he's trying to deflect attention away from Trump for an odious act he did for much longer than Hillary Clinton was ever accused of doing it? 

Blumer followed up with another post with some new supposedly damning evidence: how Sidney Blumenthal, "a close confidant of Mrs. Clinton herself," allegedly floated it in 2008 to a couple of McClatachy reporters, who checked it out and found no merit. Blumer did note that Blumenthal denied the allegation, then sneered, "Sure, Sid."

But neither Blumer nor McClatchy offer any evidence that Blumenthal was acting in any official capacity for Hillary's 2008 campaign. Yet Blumer attacks McClatchy for keeping its investigation hidden for all these year -- as if facts would have stopped Trump from embracing birthers.

Remember, Blumer and the MRC could have forcefully denounced birtherism a long time ago before it took root on the right and when Trump first embraced it, but they didn't. The MRC it took great interest in the subject only when birther allegations swirled around Brent Bozell's preferred candidate, Ted Cruz (which, as it so happens, was also promoted by Trump). 

Clay Waters came next, complaining that the New York Times "denied that the Hillary Clinton camp had anything to do with spreading the lie in the first place, though information both new and old undermines that easy assertion." Waters is muddying his terms here; by using the word "camp," he's suggesting that birtherism was promoted as an official campaign strategy -- which it wasn't.

Jeffrey Lord then rants about the "birther" issue being applied to John McCain in 2008 because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. But Lord omits the obvious: once experts ruled that McCain was indeed a "natural born citizen" and, thus, eligible to run for president, it quickly stopped being an issue. Trump pushed birtherism for five years despite the fact that his claims had been discredited.

Brad Wilmouth then made his case for Blumenthal being meaningful: "Even though Blumenthal was not a paid part of the Clinton campaign, if he made efforts to boost Clinton by trying to tear down her opponent, such activities would still be part of the Clinton team effort." Well, no, not if he wasn't a "paid part of the Clinton campaign."

Next up was Nicholas Fondacaro, who asserted it was "not accurate" to claim that the Clinton campaign never pushed birtherism, but he cites only the never-implemented Mark Penn memo and Clinton supporters he does not prove had any official sanction from the campaign. Despite the fact that he has nothing, Fondacaro repeats his so-called evidence in a second post.

The MRC is being fundamentally dishonest. Rogue supporters were not the "Clinton campaign." Sid Blumenthal was not the "Clinton campaign." And the MRC completely censors the fact that it was right-wingers like WorldNetDaily and political opportunists like Trump (with WND's help) who perpetuated the birther lies long after anyone even remotely linked to the "Clinton campaign" stopped talking about them.

The fact that birtherism is an issue today is because of Trump, not Clinton. The MRC -- which promoted Obama birtherism off and on through the years -- should stop shilling for Trump and tell its readers the truth.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:01 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 18, 2016 9:08 PM EDT
Saturday, September 17, 2016
MRC's Bozell Defends Pence Against Tough, Fair Questioning
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Sept., 12 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Mike Pence refused to call David Duke "deplorable" -- laughably insising that "I'm not in the name-calling business" -- though he did disavow Duke's support of his and Donald Trump's campaign.

Cue a Brent Bozell temper tantrum.

Bozell raged about Blitzer's "hounding" of Pence in an official Media Research Center statement:

Wolf Blitzer and CNN showed their true colors tonight. Blitzer’s question to Gov. Mike Pence was textbook gotcha journalism and it didn’t work. The question was both absurd and obnoxious. And for anyone to suggest Gov. Pence failed to repudiate David Duke is laughable. What part of ‘we don’t want his support’ does CNN not understand? This is just another left wing smear designed to help Hillary because they know she is in trouble and CNN is all too willing to do Clinton’s dirty work. Media trust and credibility continue to plummet in public polling because there is nothing the press won’t do to slander conservatives. It’s despicable and repulsive.

Notice that Bozell conveniently omits what the question is, so as not confuse his readers with the facts.

Bozell continues his rant in his and Tim Graham's Sept. 14 column:

Let's be clear about this interview. Blitzer offered 39 hostile questions or interjections about Trump's tax returns, medical records and charities, and made offensive remarks before asking a single question about policy. In the middle of this contentious exchange, Blitzer arrived at Hillary Clinton's recent gaffe of calling Trump backers a "basket of deplorables." Blitzer obnoxiously underlined that some Trump backers were truly deplorable: "David Duke, for example, (and) some other white nationalists, (would) fit into that category of deplorables. Right?"

[...]

It's the kind of "gotcha" journalism that has the public disgusted with the press. Whatever Pence answered would have been deemed wrong and exploited by the media. Had he uncorked the easy answer and called Duke deplorable, Blitzer and everyone else would have had their headlines read, "Pence Admits Hillary Was Right." Pence chose not to give them that luxury, so he gets "Pence Won't Deplore Duke."

So Bozell and Graham are defending Pence for refusing to make an unequivically true statement lest it make his opponent look good? Sad!

But Bozell and Graham want to completely avoid opening the can of worms that  is the group of alt-right activists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis that have gotten behind Trump's campaign, immediately going into attack-and-misdirection mode on Hillary and Tim Kaine.

Bozell and Graham whine: "Blitzer & Co. unloads smears designed to help Hillary Clinton because they know she is in trouble. And CNN is all too willing to do Clinton's dirty work."Only in the fevered hyper-partisan minds of Bozell and Graham is asking simple questions "dirty work."

But Bozell and Graham must rush to change the subject because they know if the conversation turns in detail to the "basket of deplorables," Trump is in trouble, and they're all too willing to do his dirty work.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:29 AM EDT
Friday, September 16, 2016
MRC's Bizarre 'Chappaquiddick' Attack on Esquire Writer
Topic: Media Research Center

On Sept. 14, the Media Research Center used its NewsBusters Twitter account to bizarrely attack Esquire writer Charles Pierce as "Chappaquiddick Charles Pierce":

 

The post being promoted -- an item by Tom Johnson complaining Pierce wrote that if modern conservatism hadn't been graded "on an intellectual curve, it would've flunked out of Human College decades ago" -- says nothing about Chappaquiddick, nor does it mention any member of the Kennedy family; it actually features a picture of Ronald Reagan. Heck, Johnson doesn't even question the accuracy of Pierce's statement.

What's going on here is a continuing petulant grudge the MRC has had against Pierce for years. As we've documented, Pierce wrote a 2003 profile on Ted Kennedy that noted the Chappaquiddick incident and added, "If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age." Ever since then, the MRC -- led by Tim Graham -- has falsely promoted this quote as a an example of fawning liberal bias toward Kennedy. In fact, as Pierce himself states, it's taken out of context from a section that takes a "tough, but fair, shot" at Kennedy by acknowledging that the Chappaquiddick incident effectively kept him from having the "moral credibility" to be president.

The MRC has continually refuse to apologize to Pierce for misrepresenting the quote, let alone give him space anywhere on any MRC website to tell the truth about it.

But then, Graham -- like his boss Brent Bozell -- never has to answer for any of his falsehoods and failures, let alone pay any sort of price for getting it wrong.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:12 PM EDT
MRC Complains Media Didn't Do Something Its Own 'News' Division Also Didn't Do
Topic: Media Research Center

While the Media Research Center is all in on defending Donald Trump against the "liberal media," it still can't quite make peace with Trump's occasional liberal tendencies. Remember that the MRC has whined that the media has ignored Trump's "past liberalism," even though that's an issue mostly for purity-obsessed ideologues like those at the MRC -- and it hasn't kept the MRC from offering a full-throated defense of Trump.

Nevertheless, the MRC trods this territory again courtesy of a Sept. 14 post by Scott Whitlock:

The three networks generally don’t hold back in slamming Donald Trump, highlighting his controversies and scandals. But when the liberal candidate offers up policy prescriptions that echo theirs, ABC, CBS and NBC are silent. On Wednesday, none of the networks offered any conservative critiques on Trump’s new federally mandated maternity leave plan. In fact, ABC hit the businessman from the left, worrying it didn’t go far enough. 

[...]

It’s not as though there isn’t harsh criticism from conservatives on this plan. Radio host Mark Levin said the plan “sucks” and that Trump “is, in his heart, a liberal.” 

You know who else didn't provide any conservative critiques of Trump's "liberal" maternity leave plan?  The MRC's own "news" outlet, CNSNews.com.

A Sept. 14 CNS article by Susan Jones uncritically outlines Trump's proposed policy without quoting any conservatives critiquing it. There is no separate article quoting conservative critics of the plan.

If the MRC really thinks this is such a major issue, why didn't it order CNS to do the story the networks won't do? That's supposed to be CNS' mission, isn't it, to "provide an alternative news source that would cover stories that are subject to the bias of omission and report on other news subject to bias by commission"?

Or it could be that the MRC is just tossing this out as another cynical excuse to attack the media -- hypocritically demanding the media do something its own "news" division has thus far refused to do -- and really doesn't care how pure a conservative Trump is as long as he beats the hated Hillary.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:26 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 16, 2016 12:50 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
At The MRC, The Truth About Trump Is 'Anti-Trump' and 'Propaganda'
Topic: Media Research Center

MRC Latino's Edgard Portela is in full froth in a Sept. 7 post, under the headline "Taxpayer-Funded Anti-Trump News on Azteca":

The Obama administration’s expenditure of tens of millions of dollars to spur recent immigrants to become citizens and vote this November isn’t the only evidence that taxpayer funds are possibly being used to favor the election of Hillary Clinton.

In fact, there’s even more direct evidence available by simply taking a look at taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) reporting that is rebroadcast domestically to Spanish-language viewers of Azteca America, the U.S. subsidiary of one of Mexico’s top television networks.

Such was the case during a recent report on the U.S. presidential campaign by VOA correspondent Gonzalo Abarca, who characterized the Republican presidential candidate as “having offended Mexicans, and in addition Latinos, calling them rapists and drug addicts” and also slammed Trump for his “bilious comments trying to erode Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.”

Abarca’s politically-charged report was aired during Azteca America’s principal national evening newscast. 

So it's "politically-charged" and "anti-Trump" for a news program to accurately report that Trump has denigrated Mexicans and Latinos and rapists and drug addicts and has said nasty things about Hillary?

Portela goes on to blame "the Obama administration" for repealing the Smith-Mundt Act, which kept VOA and other government-run broadcast outlets targeted at advancing U.S. interests in foreign countries from airing in the U.S. But he doesn't mention that the defense bill in which the repeal was contained had to pass a Republican-controlled Congress, or that the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, the repeal bill that was incorporated into the defense bill, was co-sponsored by a Republican.

Still, Portela huffed that "if VOA material such as this is now, in effect, being used and spread as domestic partisan propaganda, it may very well be high time to reinstate the old prohibition or one like it, to prevent such abuses" -- despite that Portela, despite all his ranting about "propaganda," doesn't dispute the accuracy of the VOA report, let alone that any "abuse" has taken place.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:39 PM EDT
Monday, September 12, 2016
MRC's Crowdfunding Campaign for Anti-Obama Film Fails
Topic: Media Research Center

So, remember that Obama-bashing film -- ostensibly about coal miners purportedly harmed by government clean-air policies -- the Media Research Center was trying to raise money to finish through a crowdfunding campaign? That didn't go so well.

The Kickstarter page for the MRC's "Collateral Damage" film states that it raised just $11,228 of the $15,000 being sought, making the campaign a failure.

This despite the MRC lamely attacking our critique of the crowdfunding campaign (so lame the author wouldn't put his/her name on the attack, nor would he/she identify us by name) and then using our critique to raise even more money.

Why did it fail? We'd like to think that the MRC followers figured out that the MRC, which raised $15 million last year, didn't really need the money, or that the premise is flawed because the growth of fracking, and its  related reduction in oil and natural gas prices, is as least as big a culprit in the decline of coal as clean-air policies, or that as MRC "news" division CNSNews.com admits, there are currently more mining jobs than there were during much of the presidency of Republican George W. Bush.

But, hey, we can't read minds like the MRC can. So it remains to be seen whether the MRC will make use of the money raised and supplement it with its own (though sometimes a failed crowdfunding campaign doesn't get to use any of it). The next move is yours, MRC.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:18 PM EDT
Sunday, September 11, 2016
MRC Mocked Matt Lauer Before Candidate Forum, Lauds Him Afterward For Furthering Its Agenda
Topic: Media Research Center

Prior to last week's "Commander in Chief Summit," the Media Reseaqrch Center mocked moderator Matt Lauer, with Kyle Drennen asserting that "one wonders if NBC couldn’t find someone with a little more gravitas to host the presidential campaign event" and citing, among other things, how "on three separate occasions Lauer has dressed as a woman for the Today show’s annual Halloween episode."

After the forum, however, the MRC has decided that Lauer is full of gravitas. Why?  He devoted a full one-third of his interview with Hillary Clinton to questions about her email server and gave Donald Trump a pass on his falsehoods like claiming to have always been against the Iraq war.

Thus, the MRC has repeatedly run to Lauer's defense over widespread criticism of his handling of the forum.

Curtis Houck touted how Lauer "hammer[ed] home concerns that the American people have about her with the private e-mail servers." He later complained about " near-universal excoriations ... of moderator and Today co-host Matt Lauer by the so-called objective media critics with reviews that the Clinton campaign probably couldn’t have written any better." Nicholas Fondacaro similarly cheered how Lauer "hammered Hillary Clinton repeatedly about her e-mail scandal."

Tim Graham whined that those reporting on critics of Lauer only cited "leftists" and tried to spin Lauer's softballing with Trump: "Let’s assume that’s about Trump claiming he opposed the Iraq war. CNN’s media team didn’t protest that Lauer also let Hillary say she has great respect for classified information and we didn’t lose an American in Libya."

Clay Waters also whined that "Those oh-so-objective journalists at the New York Times went after a fellow journalist, NBC’s Today show host Matt Lauer, for the crime of being unfair to Hillary Clinton and not sufficiently attacking Donald Trump."

Houck returned to claim:

With so-called neutral media critics throwing temper tantrums late Wednesday and early Thursday about NBC’s Today co-host Matt Lauer harshly questioning both presidential  candidates (including Hillary Clinton) at the Commander in Chief Forum, Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer and Howard Kurtz appeared to have had enough as they fired back at the desperate criticism on America’s Newsroom. 

Houck insisted that "there were many Trump supporters not happy with Lauer either so both Hemmer and Kurtz properly noted this fact and that it should instead lead to a conclusion that Lauer did a good job." He didn't mention that neither Hemmer nor Kurtz are "neutral media critics," being employed by Fox News but are simply parroting conservative talking points -- and Hemmer is actually a "news" anchor so he shouldn't be displaying any sort of bias at all (if the MRC ever bothered to apply its standards to any Fox News anchor besides Shepard Smith).

Houck's post, however, is the only post-forum MRC item to mention that the MRC mocked Lauer before the forum.

MRC research director Rich Noyes defended Lauer in an appearance on Fox News: "Well, I think Matt Lauer is getting bashed today not because Matt Lauer did a bad job. He actually has tough questions of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He interrupted Donald Trump, but Trump stopped and didn't try to plow through him. He’s under fire from the left today because Hillary Clinton didn't do a good job answering those questions."

Noyes went on to claim that because of the criticism of Lauer, his NBC co-worker Lester Holt, who will be moderating a presidential debate, is "going to try to be very careful with the questions he's asking Hillary Clinton because of the way he's seeing his colleague being treated," adding, "It’s called playing the refs and I think, you know, it's something that Democrats are doing right now because they have a press corps that is sympathetic to the idea of stopping Trump."

Noyes didn't mention that his boss, Brent Bozell, was playing the refs more than a month ago -- before the debate moderator were even named -- was warning of biased moderators and declaring that "I'm watching to see to what degree are you going to have more impartial moderators this time."

Houck returned again to complain once more about criticism of Lauer, harrumphing that "the onslaught against Lauer has served as a reminder to readers and viewers where exactly the media’s priorities lie, no matter who they end up going after (e.g. one of their own)."

What Houck doesn't say: The fact that the MRC is defending Lauer shows where its priorities lie, even if it means contradicting itself.

Graham followed up by dismissing any criticism of Lauer as "Clinton-toady spin" (and insisting that "Lauer interrupted Trump more than he interrupted Mrs. Clinton"), then hilariously whining that Hillary Clinton is fundraising off Lauer's performance the same way Republicans like to fundraise off any perceived media criticism of them.

Graham wrote in another post: "It’s quite clear that if Hillary Clinton had actually won this side-by-side interview, the media elites would not be brutalizing Lauer. " It's even clear that if Lauer hadn't attacked Clinton more than Trump, the MRC would still be passing around that montage of a cross-dressing Lauer -- which is what the MRC really thinks Lauer is about. Funny how quickly that went down the rabbit hole once Lauer served the MRC's agenda.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:04 PM EDT
Saturday, September 10, 2016
MRC Promotes Dubious, Republican-Friendly Review of 2000 Election in Florida
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Tim Graham used a Sept. 5 post to tout a study of sorts published in the American Conservative and summarized at the right-wing Washington Examiner asserting that thousands of people were discouraged from voting when TV networks mistakenly declared all Florida polls closed during the 2000 president election (in fact, polls in the Florida panhandle were open another hour).

Graham declared that "liberal media inaccuracy and bias" was the cause for the 2000 Florida "frenzy," going on to rant that "the networks didn't want to take the blame. They blamed the Voter News Service, the consortium they formed, which they held responsible for telling them what times the polls closed. How lame is that buck-passing?" He added: "When Congress held hearings in February 2001, the networks were dismissive. Especially Dan Rather, who gave it just 29 seconds buried deep in the newscast."

But Graham engaged in more than a little of his own bias here. First, he identifies study co-author C. Boyden Gray rather blandly as a "former Bush lawyer." That should raise red flags about the study's potential bias, but Graham sees no need to pursue it. In fact, not only was Gray was White House counsel for George H.W. Bush, he served in George W. Bush's administration as ambassador to the European Union and a special envoy for European affairs. Additionally, Gray defended the Supreme Court decision that ultimately made W. president and appeared to endorse a Republican plan to take over the recount process in Florida if Bush wasn't made president.

Second, in his bashing of the "liberal media" over Voter News Service, Graham leaves out the fact that Fox News was also a member of the consortium -- which Gray and co-author Elise Passamani note in their study -- and that it too got the poll closing time wrong. Graham also doesn't mention whether Fox News was as "dismissive" about the hearings as the other members of the consortium.

Third, Graham carefully quotes from Gray's report to hide the fact that, his ranting aside, Voter News Service really was the problem, not the "liberal media." The report states that "The VNS operated as the media's sole source for information ranging from exit polling to poll closing times."

Fourth, Graham apparently never read the full report in the American Conservative, which should have raised another red flag. Gray and Passamani's big claim is that Bush would have received 11,000 more votes from the panhandle counties if it had not been erroneously reported on TV (which, again, includes Fox News) that the polls were closed. Their only evidence for this is an extrapolation of voting data and "sworn, notarized testimony of a pair of poll workers who were on duty as inspectors that day in Precinct Eight, Escambia County" who offer anecdotes about how few voters showed up to their precinct in the final hour. The authors also state, "one can only imagine how many people would have voted in that last, deserted 40 minutes, but for the misinformation dispensed by the network and cable news anchors."

Gray and Passamani must "imagine" this because they cite no testimony of an actual voter who was discouraged from voting due to the erroneous reports. If there were truly 11,000 people discouraged from voting, they shouldn't be that hard to find, right?

Actually, they are -- and they were then. As we noted at the time, WorldNetDaily's Paul Sperry reported that Republicans were hunting for discouraged voters to bolster their lawsuits over the outcome in Florida, but mostly failed:

After a week-long dragnet, Republicans have been able to scare up just a handful of Bush supporters willing to testify that they canceled trips to the polls after the networks gave Florida to Gore 11 minutes before polls closed in the Panhandle’s Central time zone.

And even some of those witnesses are impeachable.

One lives 20 minutes from his polling place in White City, Fla., and probably wouldn’t have been able to make it there in time to vote.

Another isn’t even registered to vote in the county that includes his Pensacola, Fla., neighborhood, WorldNetDaily has learned. The man’s name and number were offered to the media yesterday by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.

[...]

An aide to state Rep. Jerry Maygarden, R-Pensacola, told WorldNetDaily last week that several voters called her office claiming to witness people walking away from poll lines after the network announcements.

WorldNetDaily followed up with several of the callers, but none could provide names.

That would seem to be a glaring omission, and it is -- that's a giant hole in Gray and Passamani's study.

But the authors are close enough to endorsing the MRC's anti-media agenda that Graham will endorse it, overlook the holes and gloss over the inconvenient stuff.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:07 AM EDT
Friday, September 9, 2016
MRC Runs to Trump's Defense on Bondi Donation
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Nicholas Fondacaro complains in a Sept. 7 post that NBC "omitted some important details" in reporting on an illegal $25,000 donation by the Trump Foundation to Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, shortly after which Bondi's office decided not to open an investigation of the scammy Trump University.

Those "details," Fondacaro writes, apparently involve uncritically quoting whatever a Bondi spokesperson has to say about it:

Earlier in the day CNN’s Drew Griffin reported on The Lead that, “Since Pam Bondi took office, up until the decision was made, Florida received just one complaint against Trump University.” Griffin quoted a statement from a spokesperson from Florida’s Attorney General, which stated:

It wasn't enough to justify Florida filing suit. Instead, staff, doing due diligence, reviewed the complaints and the New York litigation and made the proper determination that the New York litigation would provide relief to aggrieved consumers nationwide.

“In other words, Floridians could join New York's lawsuit,” Griffin simplified.

Actually, it's Fondacaro leaving out important details. The Orlando Sentinel's Scott Maxwell reports that the Attorney General's Office had received at least 20 complaints about Trump University, and that Bondi previously exhibited no reticence in joining lawsuits filed by other states:

She got involved in the multi-state fight to block Obamacare. She even got involved in a fight with the EPA over water-quality limits … in the Chesapeake Bay. Yes, the one in Virginia, where Bondi sided with organizations like the Fertilizer Institute to oppose a cleanup agreement in a body of water 770 miles away.

It doesn’t take much for Bondi to want to join in a legal fracas many states away -– if the politics are right.

Fondacaro concludes by writing, "Although the timing of the donation is suspect, it does a disservice to the public to withhold information just to be able to hit a presidential candidate." He might want to think about that himself a bit more before hurling accusations at others.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:18 PM EDT

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