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Friday, October 2, 2015
MRC's Gainor Attacks Amazon CEO, Can't Grasp Basic Financial Concepts
Topic: Media Research Center

Media Research Center VP of business Dan Gainor -- a right-wing apparatchik who once attacked the Muppets for not being sufficiently conservative -- is back, and this time his target is CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

In a Sept. 30 NewsBusters post, Gainor rants about the Post publishing articles about income inequality, then attacks Bezos:

According to the Sept. 29, Daily Mail: “But it was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who has emerged as the biggest overall gainer, adding a whopping $16.5 billion to his war chest in a single year after his company posted a quarterly profit in July.”

Whopping indeed. Bezos made 899,521 times the median household income in the United States -- $52,250. Were Bezos a nation, the $16.5 billion would give him a GDP rank of 150, just below Kosovo and above 81 nations including Guinea and Iceland.

It seems that Gainor doesn't understand a very basic financial principle, the difference between income and net worth.

As Forbes points out, that $16.5 billion was created by a increase in the value of his stock in Amazon; he owns 18 percent of the company. Even a first-year business student can tell you that unless Bezos cashes in that stock -- which he hasn't -- the rise in its value is not considered income. That makes Gainor's rant that Bezos "made 899,521 times the median household income in the United States" look foolish.

Gainor doesn't mention what Bezos actually makes as Amazon CEO -- probably because it would make him look even more foolish.

Bloomberg reported that in 2013 Bezos' Amazon salary was ... $81,840. No, really. And he asked the company not to pay him any more than that. He does, however, receive $1.6 million in compensation to cover security arrangements.

We're pretty sure that even Gainor makes more in salary than Bezos does -- indeed, Gainor made more than $122,000 in 2010, a figure we can only assume has increased since then. Given that he can't grasp basic financial concepts despite being the head of the MRC's operation targeting business news, he seems overcompensated.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:46 PM EDT
Mission Accomplished: MRC's Bozell Relishes That Media Lacks Credibility
Topic: Media Research Center
In his recent interview with Rush Limbaugh, Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell admitted that the mission of the MRC is to destroy the media's credibility: "It’s not how liberal the media are. The question is: How much are they believed, how much are they trusted? You’re never going to stop the press from being left-wing. You can’t do a thing to stop that. But what you can do is expose their lack of credibility. You have to do it every single day. That’s what motivates me, because it works."

Well, mission accomplished: a new Gallup poll states that the public's trust in the mass media has reached an historic low.

Needless to say, the MRC couldn't be more thrilled -- after all, this is the result Bozell and Co. has spent millions of dollars a year over the past nearly 30 years trying to accomplish.

"ALL TIME LOW," screamed the headline on a Sept. 29 article by Terry Jeffrey reporting the results. (That's how important this poll result is to the MRC: the editor-in-chief at CNS wrote the article.) Jeffrey was particularly tickled by the finding that "an all-time low of 7 percent of Americans say that they have a great deal of trust and confidence in the media."

Bozell takes similar joy in the Gallup poll in his (and Tim Graham's) Sept. 30 column, crowing, "One quarter of the population has no trust in the press. Nada. Nothing. Zero. Zip." Of course, Bozell didn't mention that this is the result he and his fellow right-wing activists have bought.

Bozell and Graham then engage in a personal attack against a Washington Post reporter who defended the media, insulting him as "one of those self-impressed Watergate babies" and a "snooty elite." They rant that the "spiel" the reporter is selling that the media  is not organized enough to ram a liberal agenda "is not selling," again staying silent about how much they've spent to sell their own spiel.

But Bozell's project to destroy the media has a fatal flaw: He has not put up anything to replace it. If he really cared about media bias as an issue, he would have created a news organization that truly plays it straight, with none of the bias -- liberal or conservative -- he claims spoils the news.

Instead, Bozell's is even more biased than he has ever accused the "liberal media" of being -- and has even less credibility as a "news" organization, given that people can't tell the difference between CNS reporters and right-wing protesters.

Bozell could have fixed this alleged problem. Instead, he made it worse. And because he cares more about ideology than the media, he can't see past his glee that the media's credibility is being destroyed to figure out that his own media's credibility has been destroyed as well.

In other words, he's burning down his own house. Maybe he should dial back that appetite for destruction a little bit.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:51 AM EDT
Thursday, October 1, 2015
MRC's Bozell Demands Media Transparency. Yes, The Same Guy Who Wasn't Transparent About Who Wrote His Columns.
Topic: Media Research Center

Brent Bozell, His Eternal Huffiness*, has spoken:

The hypocrisy meter is going off the charts at CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS. In their reporting about the Planned Parenthood videos, they refer to them as 'edited' or 'heavily edited.' Well guess what? Each and every day these same TV news outlets edit and heavily edit their own news segments -- including their stories about the Planned Parenthood videos.  Hours upon hours of footage is collected for every two to three minute segment they air, and the overwhelming amount of that footage hits the cutting room floor, never to see the light of day.
What are these networks not showing the American people? What are they cutting? Don't the American people have a right to see it? The difference between these networks and the Center for Medical Progress is that CMP is far more honest and transparent in disclosing the full footage and posting it online.  These "news" networks have a responsibility to do the same.

Today, I am calling on CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS to make public all the footage they collect for all of the news segments they produce, just as the Center for Medical Progress has done. Until they do, they have no right to question CMP's professionalism.

So Bozell -- who spent 15-plus years hiding from his readers the fact that he didn't write his own syndicated column, and still hasn't publicly apologized for his laziness and deceit a year and a half after the charade was exposed, let alone given the guy who actually wrote them, Tim Graham, retroactive credit for his work -- is demanding that others in the media be transparent? It is to laugh.

* We stole "His Eternal Huffiness" from Arkansas columnist John Brummett, who used the term to describe Mike Huckabee during his tenure as governor, which tells you how much Huckabee has moderated (somewhat) his persona for his TV gigs and presidential run.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:53 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
MRC Still Won't Admit Fiorina's Misleading About Planned Parenthood
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center, in contradiction of its self-proclaimed mission to get the media to "Tell the Truth!", has been enabling Carly Fiorina's misleading claims about the contents of a series of secretly filmed, dishonestly edited anti-Planned Parenthood videos.

Curtis Houck is the latest Fiorina apologist. In a Sept. 27 NewsBusters post, he complains about Fiorina being called for her dishonesty by NBC's Kristen Welker, who pointed out that fact-checkers (which Houck will only refer to in scare quotes) have discredited her claim to have seen a certain bit of footage in the videos. Houck huffed in response: "While Welker and 'fact checkers' may say that they multiple videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, it’s fair to say that astute conservatives such as The Federalist’s Mollie Hemmingway [sic] would beg to differ with their assessments."

As we've pointed out, Hemingway does not actually back up Fiorina's specific claim. In her Federalist post to which Houck is referring, she can't identify merely says that Fiorina "is likely referring to the entirety of the 10 videos."

Houck gets further incensed in a Sept. 29 post, upset that Fiorina's campaign manager is being taken to task by CNN's John Berman for her candidate's dishonesty. Berman notes that even Fox News has noted the dishonesty, and that the doctored clip in question "shows someone describing the scene. You hear someone describing the scene and then see file video which doesn't show what Carly Fiorina says it shows." The campaign manager, meahwhile, is in full kill-the-messenger mode, asserting that "the non-partisan fact checkers aren't as non-partisan as you pretending that they are."

All Houck offers in response is this: "For further reading on this matter about whether these unnamed “non-partisan fact checkers” are right, check out this fine piece compiled by the staff of The Federalist."

But that Federalist post conceded that the video was, in fact, doctored by the insertion of an outside video and is "obviously not the same baby as the one [the Planned Parenthood staffer in question] harvested the brain of."

The Federalist, however, then invokes the fake-but-accurate defense the MRC loathed when Dan Rather invoked it, claiming the doctored footage "helps viewers to understand what a 19-week old baby looks like when hearing the testimony of an ex-employee who harvested brains from babies of the same age. Illustrating stories with appropriate images is a common journalistic technique, one used by all media outlets."

Given that neither Hemingway nor The Federalist dispute or contradict the fact that the "Center for Medical Reform" used doctored footage in their videos -- and are apparently the best the anti-abortion forces have in defending Fiorina -- perhaps Houck shouldn't have cited them at all.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:06 PM EDT
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Coulter Cowards: MRC Gives Stays Silent on Ann Coulter's Catholic-Bashing
Topic: Media Research Center


So the Media Research Center won't publicly criticize Ann Coulter for making an anti-Semitic tweet. Nor will the MRC chastise any conservative who bashes the Catholic Church.

How do you think the MRC will react to Coulter bashing Catholics? That's right: stone silence.

During Pope Francis' visit to America last week, Coulter tweeted that the Catholic Church was "largely built by pedophiles," and claimed that the pope's criticism of economic inequality is "why our founders (not "immigrants"!) distrusted Catholics & wouldn't make them citizens."

You'd think that NewsBusters blogger Dave Pierre, who reflextively defends the church against any mention of its sex scandals, would have something to say. But he, along with the rest of the MRC, are keeping their mouths zipped.

By contrast, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League -- on whose board of advisers MRC chief Brent Bozell sits -- approached the issue in his usual way:

What do Ann Coulter and the Westboro Baptist Church have in common? Both are obscene anti-Catholics. Indeed, they are the worst of Pope Francis' vile critics to emerge during his visit to the United States.

Coulter tweeted last week that the Catholic Church was "largely built by pedophiles." This is the kind of comment we might expect from the likes of Bill Maher.

No wonder these two bigots are best of friends. Coulter also tweeted, "I'm an American and this is why our founders (not ‘immigrants') distrusted Catholics and wouldn't make them citizens."

If she doesn't already belong to the Klan, they would love to have her. 

Donohue is a NewsBusters blogger, but you won't find the above commentary there (we found it at Newsmax). That language is apparently too strong for the MRC.

Heck, any criticism at all of Coulter is too strong for the MRC. Call them the Coulter Cowards.

(Photo: MRC)

Posted by Terry K. at 8:30 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 8:31 PM EDT
Monday, September 28, 2015
MRC Takes 3,500 Words To Say PFAW Is Liberal (Then Distorts Facts About It)
Topic: Media Research Center

Alatheia Larsen, a researcher for the Media Research Center's MRC Business division, spent a good long time to work up her outrage at Norman Lear describing herself as a "bleeding heart conservative," and it exploded a full six weeks after Lear made the statement in the form of a 3,500-word Sept. 23 NewsBusters post dedicated to proving once and for all that Lear’s "pet organization," People For the American Way, and its Right Wing Watch division, is liberal -- as if that was ever in doubt.

For all the time Larsen had to work on this, however, you'd think she'd have done a better job of getting her facts straight.

For example, she ranted:

In April 2015, RWW falsely accused Walker of saying that “ultrasounds should be mandatory since they’re ‘a cool thing.’” Media outlets including Politico, Salon, Huffington Post, The Washington Post and Mother Jones picked up the story without first researching to see if RWW was telling the truth.

 Walker had not said, what RWW claimed. While discussing ultrasound legislation, Walker had shared an anecdote about how “cool” it was to still have the ultrasound pictures of his now adult sons. RWW brutally twisted his words without acknowledging the distortion.

In fact, that is a fair interpretation of what Walker said, given that in the contenxt of the interview, he was using that anecdote to justify the forced-ultrasound bill he signed into law.

Larsen falsely suggested that Right Wing Watch didn't provide the full context of Walker's words by touting how "The Daily Caller supplied Walker’s actual quote." In fact, that full quote is in the Right Wing Watch item Larsen is attacking.

Larsen continues:

RWW also attacked HGTV’s Flip it Forward stars David and Jason Benham for being pro-life and defending traditional marriage, both things the group opposes. In April 2014, RWW called the Benham twins “anti-gay, anti-choice extremist[s].”

The media also bought that made-up scandal. The day after RWW first published its hit piece, HGTV canceled the Benham’s show. ABC and CNN then ran multiple reports repeating the accusations leveled at the Benhams.

Larsen makes sure not to repeat the statements attributed to the Benhams that Right Wing Watch uncovered -- like smearing homosexuality is "demonic" and ranting outside abortion clinics that they are the "altars of Moloch" -- all the better to pretend they're really not extremists. Larsen never explains how these views are not "extremist," but instead grumbles that the Benhams were "forced to defend themselves."

Larsen then sent after PFAW:

Lear often brags about his organization’s hand in keeping Bork, a Reagan Supreme Court nominee, from being appointed in 1987. PFAW spread numerous lies about Bork’s record. The charges included labeling him racist and accusing him of supporting poll taxes. The damage was done: Bork withdrew. PFAW’s attacks were so relentless and effective, that “Borking” became an official term for using baseless personal attacks to effectively keep someone out of a public office.

Larsen's source for this claim is an article by conservative columnist Mona Charen who, like Larsen, doesn't back up her claim.

There is a factual basis for much of what was said about Bork. He did, in fact, effectively support a poll tax through his opposition to the overturning of one in 1966; he expressed his opposition to the overturning of one poll tax because he claimed its use was not racially discriminatory and because he believed the Equal Protection Clause did not cover economic discrimination.

And as CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin points out: "It was said, in later years, that Bork was 'borked,' which came to mean treated unfairly in the confirmation process. This is not so. Bork was 'borked' simply by being confronted with his own views—which would have undone many of the great constitutional landmarks in recent American history. 

Larsen is simply angry that PFAW is effective at highlighting right-wing extremism, which she reframes as "tearing down America’s conservatives." But her tirade is short on facts and long on highly subjective outrage.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:05 PM EDT
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
MRC Defends Pope From Liberal Critics; Conservatives Can Bash Him All They Want
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center is usually pretty sensive about criticism of Pope Francis -- understandable since its leadership ranks are heavily Catholic. Here's a sampling of recent headlines on the subject:

Note the one linking factor between those items: the MRC is attacking liberals (or perceived liberals) for their statements on the pope.

By contrast, conservatives are allowed to smear the pope all they want.

For instance, one writer marked Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. by claiming he "embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony," offers "shrill" social diagonses and "embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary." This writer concluded by sneering, "He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises."

If the writer was liberal, the MRC would be all over him. But since the writer is conservative Washington Post columnist George Will,  his column has been chosen as an "Editor's Pick" for promotion at NewsBusters, complete with the original headline, "Pope Francis’s fact-free flamboyance."

The pope's encyclical on climate change brought out much ire at the MRC. Its "news" division,, published numerous attacks on the pope, including one commentary by Jen Kuznicki claiming the Vatican is filled with "climate change wackos" and attacking the pope himselffor coming "from Latin America, where corrupt, communistic governments and dictatorships show little regard for their fellow human beings." And just this week, a CNS op-ed claims the pope's support of climate change action means he backs "a political agenda that pushes policies that directly hurt the poor and are contrary to the best science."

It seems that if the MRC is going to be a defender of the pope, it should defend him from all attacks, not just ones from liberals. But that would be too logical; instead, it actually openly encourages conservative attacks on him. 

Are Brent Bozell and his fellow followers in faith at the MRC being good Catholics by taking part in such hypocrisy? It doesn't seem so.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:35 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 2:37 PM EDT
Friday, September 18, 2015
MRC Silent on MRC Friend Ann Coulter's Anti-Semitic Tweet
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center is a longtime friend of Ann Coulter, having served as a judge and/or presenter for its annual "dishonors awards" several times. And in the last year alone:

  • MRC leaders Brent Bozell and Tim Graham devoted an entire column to promoting Coulter's new anti-immigration book, touting how she bashes the media and "Lord knows Coulter understands they deserve the hectoring."
  • Coulter served as a presenter last month of the MRC's "Noel Sheppard Media Blogger of the Year Award."
  • The MRC made a supercut of Coulter's scenes in "Sharknado 3" because, as MRC VP Brent Baker explained, it knew its readers' preferences about "what you know you want to see, but didn’t want to spend two hours to catch."

As you might guess from that chummy releationship, the MRC is also a defender of Coulter, unable to identify anything she says that might be offensive. We've detailed how the MRC rushed to aggressively defend Coulter after she was credibly accused of homophobic rhetoric, so aggressive that we wondered if Coulter had some blackmail thing going against MRC chief Brent Bozell.

All of this made us wonder how the MRC would react to Coulter's Twitter rant complaining about Republican presidential candidates pandering to Israel, adding, "How many f---ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?"

The answer so far is: not at all. Stone silence at CNSNews and MRCTV, and no mention at all on the Twitter feeds of either Bozell or the MRC. NewsBusters does link to a Mediaite article on Coulter under the headline "Coulter unleashes anti-Semitic bile on Twitter," but no NewsBusters writer mentions it in a blog post, let alone passes judgment on it.

Why the silence? Are Bozell and Co. simply that clueless about how Coulter's words hurt the conservative brand? Or do they know it's offensive but are afraid to speak out against her? That would make them either ignorant or gutless.

The problem with the MRC's silence is that because it's been so close to Coulter in the past, they have ownership in her anti-Semitic remarks. In this case, silence can only be interpreted as assent. The MRC's longtime defense of Coulter and embrace of her as a mainstream conservative is a major reason why she is in a position today to make such an offensive statement.

As we've noted with MRC's wishy-washiness over birthers, its refusal to use its position as a leader in the conservative movement to unequivocally denounce extremism in its ranks allows the so-called "liberal media" to show how that extremism is part of conservatism.  The MRC repeatedly insists that the portrayal is unfair, but it won't police its ranks the way it lashes out at conservatives who move even the slightest bit to the left.

In short, the MRC must speak out on Coulter so the public knows where it stands on right-wing extremism: will it denounce her, or will it continue to embrace her as it has in the past?

Your move, Mr. Bozell.

(Updated to note NewsBusters mention.)

Posted by Terry K. at 3:45 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 18, 2015 5:03 PM EDT
Thursday, September 17, 2015
MRC Walks Back Its Defense of Fiorina on Planned Parenthood Videos
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center was outraged that anyone would dare to fact-check Carly Fiorina's attack on Planned Parenthood during the Sept. 16 Republican presidential debate.

Kyle Drennen complained that an MSNBC guest pointed out that there were "serious misstatements" made by Fiorina, immediately running to her defense:

Despite MSNBC’s desperate attempt to deny the horrific reality of the Planned Parenthood videos, one of them does in fact show “a fully formed fetus on the table. Its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,’” just as Fiorina described in the debate.

But the source Drennen provides to back up his assertion -- a Federalist post by right-wing activist Mollie Hemingway --  is not as clear asDrennen claims. Hemingway actually never directly backs up Fiorina's claim that the scene she described was committed by Planned Parenthood officials in the secretly recorded, dishonestly edited "Center for Medical Progress" videos; she fudges things by stating that "she is likely referring to the entirety of the 10 videos, including the seventh video released by the Center for Medical Progress" and never actually ascribing the scene to Planned Parenthood.

But about five hours after Drennen's post, the MRC's Ken Shepherd was walking back the idea that anyone who says Fiorina was wrong is lying. In his NewsBusters post complaining about more people on MSNBC calling out Fiorina, Shepherd essentially admits the CMP videos are dishonestly edited by citing a Wall Street Journal item pointing out that the scene Fiorina described was actually that of "a different fetus that came from other antiabortion groups," not anything Planned Parenthood did.

But Shepherd won't actually say out loud that the CMP videos were dishonestly edited by the addition of outside footage, even though he's basically conceding the point. He instead admits the Journal's explanation is "charitable" to Fiorina, then runs with it:

In other words, the most charitable and rather likely explanation is that Fiorina conflated the imagery and the testimony of the procurement technician and essentially mis-remembered it as seeing actual footage of a live aborted baby. At any rate, it's undeniable that abortion itself is a grisly and violent taking of a human life, and if coupled with the deliberate harvesting of organs for profit, well, it just heightens the heinous nature of the act.

Shepherd then takes that position to ludicrous extremes:

Left-wing critics of CMP have sought refuge in the claim that the shorter videos are deceptively edited, yet they have the full videos for comparison and, if they were in fact deceptively edited, they could easily build their case for why by contrasting exculpatory footage that was edited out of the shorter pieces. That no one has done so, it seems to me, is a case of the dog that didn't bark.

SHepherd is simply lying when he claims "no one" has highlighted exculpatory footage CMP edited out its pieces. Here's one quite comprehensive guide to what Shepherd claims doesn't exist.

The fact that the MRC must be so dishonest about the Planned Parenthood videos shows the shaky ground they are on.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:53 PM EDT
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
NEW ARTICLE: MRC vs. A Dead Woman
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center is spreading lie after lie about Margaret Sanger as part of the right-wing media's campaign against Planned Parenthood. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 2:39 PM EDT
Saturday, September 12, 2015
How The MRC Isn't All In on Trump (Just Like Bozell Wants It)
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center feels the same way about Donald Trump as it does about birtherism: not an issue until somebody cites it/him to criticize conservatives.

We got more confirmation of the MRC's Trump non-agenda in an interview chief honcho Brent Bozell did with Rush Limbaugh for the Limbaugh Letter. The MRC posted only the first two pages of it, and it's pretty fluffy -- just as you'd expect Limbaugh to do for someone who started an "I Stand With Rush" website in an attempt to shield him from criticism over his three days of ugly misogyny against Sandra Fluke.

The MRC has posted only the first two pages of the interview, but it includes the telling passage that Bozell is a Ted Cruz supporter -- but, he insists, "not through the Media Research Center, or through my other organization, ForAmerica, but personally."

Well, that's not exactly true (even if he has to say it in order to avoid legal questions about the MRC's nonprofit tax status): the MRC has been pretty quick to run to Cruz's defense, as suggested by the 818 NewsBusters items that mention him as of this writing. Some are pretty picayune, such as the post accusing the New York Times of "flirt[ing] with birtherism" by merely quoting Cruz's father's defense of his eligibility to run for president. And it absolutely loves the fact that Cruz is following the MRC playbook by dismissing tough questions from the media as "liberal."

By contrast, the MRC has not been as interested in embracing Donald Trump's media critiques, even though he's using the same MRC playbook Cruz used to make them. As we've noted, the MRC stayed silent on Trump's dismissal of  questions during the August Republican presidential campaign debate as liberal gotcha questions -- likely because the questions came from Fox News anchors, whom Bozell had previously demanded be put in charge of running Republican presidential debates.

That hands-off attitude was expanded upon by Bozell in his interview with Limbaugh:

Rush: What was your analysis of the public reaction to that debate, aimed at Fox News? Not just Megyn Kelly, but the whole thing as it related to Trump?

Bozell: People love Fox News. People have so much hope in Fox News, and I think people felt really let down by what they saw.

Rush: Is that right?

Bozell: Absolutely. I was there. I will tell you that the mood inside that auditorium was apparently very different from the mood on television. If you were to have taken a poll of the people who were there, in no way did Donald Trump win that debate. You could hear the grumblings in the audience. People were asking why there were so few questions to Cruz, why there were so few questions to Carson, and then question after question after question to Trump. People got very tired of it, Rush.

So Bozell also disliked the way Fox News handled the debate as well, if only (publicly, anyway) for letting Trump divert attention from his beloved Cruz. But, again, none of this criticism made its way to the websites of the MRC. It's as if Bozell is afraid of criticizing Fox News lest he lose his weekly spot on "Hannity."

Similarly, when Trump denounced "gotcha" questions in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, the MRC didn't feel like echoing it. Why? Because Hewitt is a conservative the MRC loves. It cheered how Hewitt claimed how NPR is the "liberal version of my show" and his ridiculous claim that the right-wing-fueled controversy over Hillary Clinton's emails was itself an "indictment" of her (as opposed to, you know, an actual indictment).

The only mention of Trump's MRC-inspired attack on  Hewitt was a few days later it happened, in a Sept. 6 NewsBusters post by Melissa Mullins noting that "liberal journo" Geraldo Rivera had backed up Trump. Mullins didnt mention the fact that Hewitt is a conservative.

Later in the Limbaughinterview, Bozell touted how Fox News chief Roger Ailes is "a master of this medium" by latching on to Trump and even by making Trump a focus of the Fox debate, then threw in some wishful thinking by grumping, "I think Trump may have peaked."

It seems to us that if you're afraid to engage in media criticism for fear of angering one side or the other lest you lose access because of it, you're a terrible media critic. It's never been afraid to play right-wingGod to decree who is and is not a true conservative -- that's what Heathering is all about, after all -- and there's no reason it should stop now, especially when it knows that Trump is an opportunist and not a genuine conservative (to judge from the Twitter feeds of MRC employees we've read who aren't buying his schtick).

The MRC is in a perfect position -- one it created -- to weigh in on Trump's fights with conservative media. But it won't, apparenly choosing to hope that Trump simply goes away.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:45 PM EDT
Sunday, September 6, 2015
A Short History of the MRC's Semi-Birtherism
Topic: Media Research Center

Bryan Ballas complains in a Sept. 2 NewsBusters post that the Washington Post did an article on right-wing pastor Rafael Cruz's assertion that his son, Sen. Ted Cruz, is eligible to run for president, blaming the author for bringing up "a long settled birther issue" (never mind that it was Rafael Cruz who brought it up and that the Post is merely reporting what he said). Ballas further complained that the Post article noted that "Rafael Cruz himself has made birtheresque jabs at President Obama," adding, "One can only hope this was a filler piece and not the first sign of a long pattern of birther mud slinging."

So the Media Research Center has now decided that birther conspiracy theories are "mud slinging"? That's interestiing, because the MRC never really took that aggressive of a stance regarding birtherism as applied to Obama. While the MRC didn't exactly further Obama birtherism, it also did little to counter it.

Let's take a look back at how the MRC handled Obama birtherism, which mixes semi-denouncements with semi-endorsements:

  • A 2009 post by Clay Waters grumbled that the New York Times "questioned those questioning Obama's birth certificate, his citizenship, and his resulting eligibility for the presidency" while purportedly showing "far more respect to a conspiracy theory many times more incendiary and implausible: That the 9-11 attacks were an inside job, that the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were engineered by President Bush."
  • Another 2009 post by Waters complained that the Times columnist Frank Rich "smeared the Birthers as racist with no evidence." Waters added: "Conspiratorial and wrong? Fair enough. But there's nothing necessarily racist about believing Obama was born in Kenya instead of Hawaii." It was not until 2011 that Waters finally admitted that birtherism is "discredited," and even then Waters was still trying to equivocate by bringing up 9-11 truthers, which no serious Democratic presidential candidate, actual or potential, has ever brought up, unlike with Republicans and birthers.
  • Noel Sheppard took offense in 2009 when someone called Lou Dobbs, then with CNN, an "immigrant-hating, birther-supporting zealot," refusing to admit that birtherism was extreme: "It sure is fascinating watching all manner of media member attack anyone that has the nerve to question the new President, isn't it?"
  • Sheppard took a somewhat different view in a 2011 post complaining that MSNBC "cherry-picked something Mike Huckabee said on Steve Malzberg's radio show in order to depict the possible Republican presidential candidate as a birther" -- but then said it was "relevant" to question why Obama had purportedly refused to release his personal records, which includes his longform birth cert ificate (which hadn't yet been released at the time of this post). Shappard also uncritically repeated Huckabee's assertion that he "disavows birthers" on the first page of his book "A Simple Government." In fact, Huckabee did no such thing; all Huckabee does on the first page is acknowledge that critics claim Obama is "lying about his citizenship" and adds that his book won't be about that because "I don't like to make politics personal."
  • Also in 2011, Mark Finkelstein took exception to columnist Charles Blow's claim that Donald Trump should not be allowed to spout his birther views on TV because "we know that this is not true": "Consider Blow's curious suggestion that the MSM collectively knows various things to be true, and should ban those who disagree.  What else does the MSM 'know is not true'?  Who else should it collectively ban from TV?"
  • In a May 2011 post, it was MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham who was rushing to the defense of the allegation that birthers were racists, asserting that the allegation was "unproven."
  • When its benign birtherism/non-birtherism didn't wash, the MRC also took the interesting position of blaming birtherism on the media -- the "liberal" media, of course, not right-wing outlets like WorldNetDaily who actively promoted birtherism. A 2009 post by Jeff Poor cheered on Rep. Michele Bachmann's assertion that "the left" is pushing birther questions (and her utter lie that "You don't hear people on the right bringing this issue up") under the headline "Bachmann Makes It Clear Who Is Driving the 'Birther' Train: The Media." (WND highlights Bachmann on its "big list of eligibility 'proofers'," which shows that WND considered her an ally to its birther cause.)
  • In a 2012 post, Scott Whitlock calls birther claims "untrue" and notes that CNN's Jake Tapper has pointed this out -- but he's mad that Tapper pointed out that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned with Trump without denouncing those "untrue" claims. Later on in the presidential campaign, Brent Baker whined that news outlets "pounced on Romney for daring to make a birth certificate joke." Baker didn't offer his view on the leigitimacy of birtherism.
  • Jeffrey Meyer used a 2012 post to complain that MSNBC's Chris Matthews "decided to hurl a ridiculous question about birtherism" to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, calling it "an issue that numerous Republicans have disavowed since the beginning."
  • Sheppard took extreme offense to MSNBC's Joan Walsh pointing out that the right-wing Breitbart website had sunk "lower than Andrew Breitbart" by advancing birther claims: "Does Walsh have absolutely no shame or respect for the dead? Is nothing sacred when it comes to getting Barack Obama reelected?" Apparently, birtherism was OK with Sheppard as long as one didn't invoke a dead person's name in criticizing it.
  • Matt Vespa complained in 2013 that "Birtherism isn't all that bad to the liberal media when a rising conservative star may be the target." He then bizarrely blamed birtherism on the media: "If only the press suspended their affection for the 44th president, and wrote these articles affirming Obama’s eligibility – and he is eligible – then perhaps we would’ve been spared the idiocy of Orly Taitz, Joesph Farah, and others, who gave some in the media to label the conservative movement as racist."

Vespa is being dishonest by suggesting that non-conservative media ignored the birther issue: was pointing out that Obama's birth certificate was genuine as far back as August 2008, and the Associated Press reported in November 2008 that the state of Hawaii confirmed that Obama was born there.

If only the MRC had suspended its hatred for the 44th president and wrote articles affirming Obama's eligibility, it would be more likely that the "idiocy" of Taitz, Farah, et al, could have been kept from tarring the right-wing media. But it did not -- after all, letting the accusation hang so that the president was damaged by it was more important than building the credibility of right-wing media.

That strategy has come back to haunt right-wing media as a whole and the MRC in particular. Because the sections of right-wing media that fancy themselves more "respectable," like the MRC (not to mention Fox News, which was also a promoter of birther claims), wouldn't aggressively shoot down the birther conspiracies, birtherism has remained an issue. The MRC's silence back then means it has little basis to complain now.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:11 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 6, 2015 8:16 PM EDT
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
MRC's Laughably Anti-Sanger Censorship Crusade of Lies and Out-of-Context Quotes
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's crusade to censor an art exhibit at the Smithsonian by demanding that a bust of Margaret Sanger be forcibly removed from the building -- a crusade MRC has used its "news" division to promote despite the breaches of journalistic ethics this has brought about -- is little more than kneejerk right-wing ranting that relies on lies and out-of-context quotes.

More evidence of this comes in the MRC's email campaign trying to get its followers to endorse its censorship effort. Check out this bit of ranting and egregiously out-of-context quotes the MRC servedup in an Aug. 26 email:

Margaret Sanger was arguably the largest advocate of eugenics in United States history, and her influence lives on in the 700 Planned Parenthood abortion clinics throughout the country -- 79 percent of which are located in predominantly black and Hispanic communities.

Eugenics (the notion and practice of removing “unfit” members of society through selective breeding and sterilization) was Sanger’s largest and most lasting crusade. Here are some of her controversial statements on the matter:

  • “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."
  • “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."
  • “I believe that there should be no more babies.”

The first quote is a favorite for Sanger-haters to take out of context. As we've pointed out, states that that quote belongs in the context of Sanger saying that a minister could debunk the notion, if it arose, that the clinics that were a part of her "Negro Project" bringing birth control to black women in the South aimed to “exterminate the Negro population.” The Washington Post notes that this quote "is frequently taken out of context to suggest Sanger was seeking to exterminate blacks."

The second quote is heavily edited. According to Wikipedia, the full quote is: "Knowledge of birth control is essentially moral. Its general, though prudent, practice must lead to a higher individuality and ultimately to a cleaner race." While the MRC champions individuality,it would rather that be applied to conservative principles and not a woman thinking for herself.

The final quote is ludicrously out of context. It's taken from a 1947 interview in which Sanger was asked about an earlier statement that European women should refrain from having babies for 10 years (this being after a world war that devastated much of Europe). She clarified her answer by saying (the MRC's quote in italics), "Well I suppose a subject like that is really so personal that it is entirely up to the parents to decide, but from my view, I believe there should be no more babies in starving countries for the next ten years."

The MRC's commitment to lying about Sanger starts from the top. In his speech at the tiny pro-censorship rally, MRC chief Brent Bozell -- who also heads ForAmerica, a right-wing group that worked with the right-wing black pastors who are purportedly leading the censorship effort -- said

"Planned Parenthood and others inside this building want to pretend that what we really don't know," said Bozell. We do know. She wrote books, she gave speeches, she wrote letters. She organized organizations like the Negro Project to eradicate blacks, why? Because you weren't quite, human. You were weeds, you were waste. And that couldn't stand in a fixed society. Ladies and gentlemen so did Goebbels. He thought the exact same thing and did the exact same thing through eugenics.”

In fact, there's no evidence Sanger sought to "eradicate blacks" or considered them "weeds" or "waste." As fact-checkers have noted, while Sanger likely held paternalistic attitudes toward blacks that were common during her lifetime, there's no evidence she was an avowed racist or that she coerced black women into using birth control.

And Bozell's eagerness to liken Sanger to Nazis, in addition to being counterfactual -- she was a member of an anti-Nazi committee and claimed her books were burned in Nazi Germany -- it's rather hilarious given the MRC's current outrage over Hillary Clinton making an apparent Nazi allusion about Donald Trump. Apparently, only conservatives are allowed to go Godwin.

The MRC also gave a free past to far-right pastor E.W. Jackson, who lied that Sanger “was a white supremacist” and screeched that “If Margaret Sanger had her way MLK and Rosa Parks would have never been born.” While CNS prominently promoted those statements, it refused to fact-check them because that rally was created by the MRC and ForAmerica for the apparent sole purpose of having CNS cover it as "news," and since it's part of the MRC's propaganda machine, fact-checking a conservative who's spouting the MRC's agenda is not "news" at CNS -- even though Jackson, who claims to be a Christian pastor, is telling demonstrable lies.

But a Christian pastor being caught in a lie is not "news" at CNSNews, just like the right-wing Christian Josh Duggar's peccadilloes were buried as far down as one could do so until we shamed CNS into a little honest coverage.

Again: CNS is simply the MRC's right-wing agenda put into news-article form. Its role as a player in the MRC's Sanger censorship attempt and insistence on presenting lies as truth and refusing to hold the liars accountable is all the evidence one needs of that.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:47 PM EDT
Friday, August 28, 2015
MRC's Double Standard on Presidential Interrupters
Topic: Media Research Center

Unsurprisingly, Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell took a dim view of Univision's Jorge Ramos interrupting Donald Trump at a press conference:

Jorge Ramos is a pro-amnesty activist masquerading as a journalist. The stunt he pulled at Donald Trump’s press conference reflects poorly on Univision -- again. Ramos is not a 'reporter' nor does he therefore have the 'right to ask questions.' Ramos embarrassed both himself and his profession by becoming the story with his unseemly antics. Those who expect a fair and honest debate on the policy issues impacting the U.S. Latino community should ignore Jorge Ramos.

Bozell was joined by MRC Latino director Ken Oliver-Mendez, who claimed that "Jorge Ramos clearly crossed the line between reporting and editorializing" and is "operating outside the confines of honest journalism."

It also shouldn't be a surprise, then, that Bozell doesn't feel the same when the interruptor is a conservative and the person being interrupted is a Democratic president.

A search through the MRC archives found no indication that Bozell said anything about a 2012 incident in which conservative Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro heckled President Obama during a news conference -- no declaration that Munro was an activist masquerading as a journalist, or that Munro embarrassed himself and his profession, or that Munro is operating outside the confines of honest journalism, or that conservatives who expect fair and honest journalism should ignore Munro.

Meanwhile, the rest of the MRC was more than happy to cheer Munro's stunt. Clay Waters mocked the New York Times for supposedly being "aghast at the audacity of a reporter from a conservative news site interrupting President Obama's Rose Garden speech."

At Newsbusters, Noel Sheppard tried to temper things by baselessly claiming that "we are by no means condoning Munro's behavior" (even though we could find no criticism of Munro by anyone at the MRC), but then tried to justify that same behavior: "As the Daily Caller is a conservative website, isn't it far more likely Munro doesn't agree with the new immigration policy the current White House resident was presenting that just so happens to be an edict without any approval from Congress?"

Tom Blumer huffed that Munro's stunt was hardly "the first time any reporter has ever shouted a question at a U.S. president out of turn," then touted Munro's defense "as well as sturdy defenses from Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson and Publisher Neil Patel." He concluded by whining of Munro's critics: "What a bunch of flaming, presidential boot-licking hypocrisy."

And Jack Coleman offered his own defense of Munro: "Henceforth the Obama administration might want to signal when questions will be allowed from the media and when reporters will be expected to emulate statuary." We suspect Coleman won't be asking Trump to make that same signal.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:06 PM EDT
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Ted Cruz Makes MRC Proud By Dismissing Megyn Kelly's Questions As 'Liberal'
Topic: Media Research Center

When Ted Cruz dismissed Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's questions to him on immigration as something a "liberal journalist" would ask, the Media Research Center applauded it. After all, the evasion tactic is straight from the MRC playbook.

The MRC reinforces to conservatives that any tough question would want to ask them is, by definition, a "liberal" question and, thus, does not need to be answered. After all, conservatives know that they will never face tough questions when they appear on Fox News.

Here's how this works in practice, as seen through MRC blog posts and items:

  • Jeffrey Meyer claimed that in an interview with Ben Carson, "CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell repeatedly hit the famed neurosurgeon from the left on abortion," though Meyer never explained how the question O'Donnell asked Carson -- whether he woudl ban abortions in the case of rape, incest, and life of the mother -- was "from the left." Still, Meyer praised Carson for having "pushed back against O’Donnell’s liberal question."
  • Meyer insisted that asking whether the Republian Party has issues with women and minority voters was a "liberal assertion," complaining that in an interview with Republian Gov. Nikki Haley, CBS' O'Donnell "made sure to push the liberal line about whether or not the GOP has a 'problem with women voters?'"
  • Rich Noyes declared that CBS anchor Scott Pelley was pestering House speaker John Boehner with "obnoxious liberal questions," like whether President Obama deserves any credit for an improving economy or if "just sending bills up to the White House that are gonna get vetoed" is an effective way to govern.
  • MRC chief Brent Bozell sneered that during a Republican debate, NBC's Brian Williams "pounded Ron Paul like a haughty Swedish socialist to defend his libertarian views." Bozell offered no examples of these allegedly "haughty Swedish socialist" questions.
  • Bozell's lieutenant, Tim Graham, complained that in the same debate, Williams asked "nasty, shamelessly liberal questions," but the only one he cited was asking Rick Perry if he "struggled to sleep at night" over the idea that any of the 234 inmates on death row executed under Perry's watch might have been innocent. Graham didn't explain how that question is "shamelessly liberal."
  • Rich Noyes wrote that in presidential candidate townhall debates, journalists favor "liberal questions" over "conservative questions." But Noyes offered no definition of what constituted a "liberal question" for thepurposes of his survey, beyond the vague notion that it's something that would "favor liberal causes."

Notice a pattern there? The MRC effectively defines the nebulous "liberal question" to a conservative candidate as nothing more than a tough question that challenges them to explain their views. Because they don't want to answer the question anyway, deflecting it as a "liberal question" gives them an excuse not to answer it, as well as having the side benefit of playing to the base, whom the MRC and other conservative organizations have spent millions of dollars over the past few decades conditioning to despise as "liberal media" any outlet that dares try to ask tough questions of conservatives.

So of course Cruz would invoke the MRC-approved tactic of deflecting a question he didn't want to answer as something a "liberal journalist" would ask, even though the idea that anyone would consider Megyn Kelly a "liberal journalist" strains logic.

But then, the MRC seems content to throw its conservative friends at Fox News under the bus for the sake of ideological purity; it was curiously silent about the questions Fox anchors asked at the recent Republican presidential debate after they proved a little too challenging for some of the candidates. Perhaps it had to stay silent; this was the debate setup the MRC wanted after years of complaints that Republicans were holding debates on non-Fox news channels where they are in danger of those nebulous "liberal" questions.

The MRC conditions conservative candidates to dismiss tough questions as "liberal." Ted Cruz showed the results of that conditioning.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:49 AM EDT

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