AIM's Double Standard On How Botched Facts Are Treated Topic: Accuracy in Media
Brian McNicoll complains in a Nov. 19 Accuracy in Media post:
TMZ got one fact wrong in its original rush story on Michael Avenatti being arrested for felony domestic violence – and quickly corrected it.
But that gave the rest of the mainstream media enough room to discount the allegations against the attorney.
In “Michael Avenatti Arrested for Felony Domestic Violence … I’LL BE ‘FULLY EXONERATED,’ the celebrity/show-biz-focused outlet originally reported the woman Avenatti allegedly struck was his former wife.
“We were initially told by our sources the alleged victim was Avenatti’s estranged wife,” TMZ wrote atop an updated piece. “We now know it was not. The incident involved a different woman.”
McNicoll is actually complaining that others do what AIM does. Compare McNicoll's tone with Carrie Sheffield's tone in a Dec. 3 AIM post on a different media outlet and a different fact that had to be fixed:
NPR was forced to correction append its report titled “Trump Jr.’s 2017 Testimony Conflicts with Cohen’s Account of Russian Talks.”
NPR reporter Philip Ewing claimed that Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony conflicted with attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony about the timeline of possible real estate deals that were in tentative talks among some Russians and the Trump Organization. NPR had conflated two separate real estate negotiations with two separate parties, one that included “the Agalarov family, Emin and his father Aras,” that ended prior to President Trump launching his presidential campaign.
The NPR correction came after online pressure from conservatives, including Andrew Surabian, who tweeted: “Will @nprpolitics retract this blatantly false story and apologize to @DonaldJTrumpJr? Or are they ok with misleading their audience and spreading verified #FakeNews all over social media?”
So TMZ merely "got one fact wrong" in a story on a person conservatives hate -- and merely a "misleading" graphic from its apparently subjective rating system -- while NPR got accused of #FakeNews for getting a fact wrong in a story about a conservative darling and the full "fake news" rating, despite also correcting the record. Funny how that works.
AIM Serves Up Revisionist History on Lewandowski Incident To Attack Acosta Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media's Carrie Sheffield is trying to use the Jim Acosta-White House controversy to relitigate the 2016 incident in which then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski manhandled conservative reporter Michelle Fields at a Trump campaign event. From her Nov. 15 AIM post:
The mainstream media has shown a double standard in how it has rallied behind CNN’s Jim Acosta and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, even though both men were accused of physically brushing off young women in the workplace.
In March 2016, former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields accused Lewandowski of grabbing her arm during a campaign event, yet authorities in April declined to formally prosecute Lewandowski on a charge of simple battery. Lewandowski’s lawyer submitted a draft of a short apology from Lewandowski, according to Palm Beach County state attorney David Aronberg, and Palm Beach County assistant prosecutor Adrienne Ellis told reporters that the charges against Lewandowski, according to New York Magazine “were undermined by the fact that, in the moments before the infamous arm-grab, Fields had entered a “protective bubble” maintained by Secret Service agents, and made incidental contact with the candidate himself.
Sheffield ignored that the two incidents are not equivalent. Fields released a photo of bruises on her arm where she said Lewandowski grabbed her, while Acosta had no such contact with the White House intern trying to take his microphone while asking Trump a question. Sheffield curiously doesn't mention the video tweeted out by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that was doctored to present the Acosta incident as more violent than it was.
Further, while Sheffield claims there was a draft of an apology made, the fact is that Lewandowski ultimately refused to apologize to Fields.
Sheffield complained again in a Nov. 26 post by repeating her false equivalence:
Acosta’s physical aggression — swatting away a young woman, an intern who was doing her job — indicated his total disrespect for her. Where is the feminist media outcry, like the 16 conservative female journalists who called for Lewandowski’s firing?
The way Acosta diminished her humanity was evidenced by her subsequent humiliated crouching on the ground. Saturday Night Live might mock this young woman, but in the age of #MeToo, SNL and the mainstream media are missing the power play Acosta pulled here.
Sheffield again falsely claimed that "Lewandowski apologized." She then displayed her anti-Acosta bias: "Though today a federal judge ordered the White House to reinstate CNN correspondent Acosta’s press pass, case law clearly indicates there is no absolute First Amendment right for a specific journalist to access the White House. As was the case with other rulings in favor of the White House, I believe this case will be successfully appealed by the president’s team."
AIM: It Must Be True That Trump Has Accomplished So Much -- Trump Said So! Topic: Accuracy in Media
In a Sept. 26 Accuracy in Media post, Brian McNicoll declared that the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler engaged in "partisan bias" when he called President Trump's assertion that "In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country" to be less than accurate. McNicoll rebutted:
But Trump has rolled back the Waters of the United States rule – a massive incursion on property rights – and the Clean Power Plan, and he has signed legislation to remove requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act.
He has remade American trade, moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to the capital of Jerusalem – a promise the last five presidents made but did not deliver on – and has made historic inroads with North Korea.
Trump said at the UN that “America’s economy is booming like never before.”
Those two links in McNicoll's rebuttal are to the same place: a document from the Trump White House titled "President Donald J. Trump’s 500 Days of American Greatness." Combined with that final statement, McNicoll is asserting that whatever Trump says must be true because it comes from Trump.
McNicoll later complained:
Kessler again incorrectly savaged Trump over the American Jobs and Tax Cuts Act.
“We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history,” Trump said at the U.N.
“Trump loves this line so much he has said it more than 100 times,” Kessler wrote. “But it’s not true. His tax cut ranks eighth when measured as a percentage of the size of the economy.”
But when measured in whole dollars returned to the people from Washington, it is the largest cut ever – and whole dollars is at least as legitimate a statistic for this as percentage of the size of the economy. The Post simply refuses to acknowledge Trump’s success in this matter.
But is it, Brian? It seems you want to cling to the whole-dollars statistic only because it makes Trump look good. In other words, Nicoll is the one who's engaging in partisan bias by cherry-picking statistics.
That's hardly the way to claim that someone else is engaging in "clear bias," as the graphic from AIM's new rating system insists Kessler did.
AIM Devolves Into Just Another Pro-Trump Website Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media has been doing a major reboot of itself over the past year. Conspiracy-happy right-wing ranter Cliff Kincaid disappeared for reasons neither he nor AIM have have yet to explain publicly, and after months of relying on freelancers and anonymous writers of dubiousaccuracy and Kincaid-esque conspiracy-mongering, it has settled on a new staff led by Carrie Sheffield, who has the title of "national editor." Sheffield's AIM bio leads with her TV and media hits, which probably tells us something about the direction Don Irvine is looking to take AIM -- more media-savvy, less nutball.
In practice, though, AIM is showing itself to be just another pro-Trump website. For instance, a June 22 piece by Sheffield, which takes the Trump White House line that it's the media's fault for noticing Melania Trump's jacket:
Even as mainstream media reporters portray the Trump administration as lacking substance and a substantive policy focus, the New York Times chose to give Page A1 placement of a speculative story by Vanessa Friedman, its fashion director and chief fashion critic, criticizing the jacket that first lady Melania Trump wore before and after a tour of a children’s shelter in Texas.
Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman said that “There was no hidden message,” yet Friedman wrote that the First Lady’s fashion choice “may have backfired,” an analysis displaying the most common response among the mainstream media: to project sinister motives despite no evidence.
It's telling that Sheffield never outright states the message that was emblazoned across the back of Melania's jacket -- "I don't really care, do U?" -- that is, in fact, the hard-to-miss "evidence" upon which things were projected; she only offers a partial quote in the final paragraph buried in a quote from the article she's attacking.
Sheffield also makes the partisan mistake of treating whatever Melania's office says as the final word on the subject, as if we should ascribe only pure motives to, and accurate statements from, an office whose function is to protect the first lady. We suspect AIM never took anything that came out of the Obama White House as the final word on anything.
Sheffield's approach is little different from what AIM's better-funded (and even more pro-Trump) rival, the Media Research Center, did.
In trading Kincaid's craziness for a somewhat more professional, highly Trump-protective approach from Sheffield and Brian McNicoll, AIM turns down the heat but doesn't add light. It has gone from lacking credibility to being merely boring, which may not be an impovement.
AIM Pushes Discredited Informant In Discredited Clinton Scandal Topic: Accuracy in Media
An anonymous Accuracy in Media writer claims in a Feb. 9 post:
A former undercover FBI agent told Congress that the Obama administration glanced over the evidence he was building against the Uranium One deal, which involved the Hillary Clinton-led State Department approving the sale of uranium to Ukraine and pro-Russian companies.
The informant told Congress that he built contacts with Russian officials, who expected that a lobbying firm would apply a portion of their lobbying payment to “provide in-kind support for the Clintons’ Global Initiative.”
Why? So the Obama administration and the Clinton State Department would approve the Uranium One deal.
The media has since attacked the controversy about the Uranium One story as an example of a right-wing conspiracy theory.
Townhall, Newsweek and Fox Newscovered the story, but this new story about the informant’s testimony was ignored by the Washington Post and other major media outlets, according to our Google search of the topic.
Perhaps that's because the informant lacks credibility. According to a letter by Reps. Elijah Cummings and Adam Schiff, the Justice Department considers the informant, William Campbell, to be unreliable because he has made inconsistent statements and has apparently lied to the FBI. The informant also never provided any allegation or evidence of illegal or corrupt behavior on the part of the Clintons, the Clinton Foundation or in reference to the Uranium One deal.
And, really, the whole idea of a "scandal" involving the Uranium One deal has been discredited.
AIM Complains Undisclosed Locations Weren't Described as 'Luxury' Topic: Accuracy in Media
An anonymous Accuracy in Media writer complains in a Feb. 2 post:
The GOP is holding a retreat at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, which was home to a Cold War bunker facility. It has since been turned into a large-scale luxury resort, attracting NFL teams and their fans for preseason practices and training camps.
The media wasted little time highlighting the venue as a “luxury resort,” which is true. It could be a self-inflicted wound on part of the GOP, which selected the venue in the first place.
But, on the other hand, the Democrats’ past retreats and media coverage omit the word “luxury.”
In 2017, Politico called the Democrat retreat in Shepherdstown, West Virginia a “retreat,” without any mention of where it would be held in the town. There was no mention of “luxury” or “hotel” in that article.
This year, the House Democrats will host their retreat in Cambridge, Maryland at an undisclosed location. Again, Politico and other media outlets such as CNN did not use the word “luxury” in their coverage of the retreat. The omission of exact location could be due to former Vice President Joe Biden’s visit and speech to his party members. But it seems unfair that the word “luxury” has been omitted from coverage of the Democratic Party and that the location is not mentioned.
First, the anonymous writer gets the Greenbrier's history wrong. It was a not a Cold War bunker turned into a luxury resort; it's a luxury resort that had a Cold War bunker -- which was designed to house Congress in the event of nuclear war -- built into it.
Second, it's hard to describe the Democratic retreats as being "luxury" if their locations aren't disclosed. Actually, though, the Shepherdstown retreat was at a place called the Bavarian Inn, While apparently a nice place, it's arguably not quite as nice as the Greenbrier, according to the New York Times.
So AIM is complaining that something was accurately labeled as "luxury" while something whose location wasn't given wasn't labeled as such. That's a pretty lame item, even by AIM standards.
AIM Writer Still Thinks Obama Was Born In Kenya Topic: Accuracy in Media
Brian McNicoll's Nov. 22 Accuracy in Media column is a rebuttal to an Atlantic piece by Adam Serwer arguing that people who voted for President Trump were motivated in part by racism. McNicoll complains at one point:
Birtherism, Serwer contended, “is rightly remembered as a racist conspiracy theory, born of an inability to accept the legitimacy of the first black president.” Actually, it was an effort by the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008 to find a way to delegitimize Obama in the Democrat primaries.
If the rules didn’t prevent someone born in Kenya from serving as president, we never would have heard a word about where Obama was born, and nobody would have cared that he played cat and mouse about the subject for a decade before presenting something he claimed to be his birth certificate but which is not.
1) There was no "effort" by the Clinton campaign to question Obama's birthplace -- that was the doing of right-wing outlets like WorldNetDaily ... and AIM.
2) The "certification of live birth" Obama released in 2008 is legally equivalent to a birth certificate, making McNicoll's complaint moot. He failed to mention that Obama did, in fact, release his birth certificate as well.
3) Obama was not born in Kenya. McNicoll offers no evidence to prove that.
Good to see that McNicoll is coming closer to filling the conspiratorial void at AIM left by the departure of Cliff Kincaid.
AIM's Trump Defense: It All Depends On What The Meaning Of 'Know' Is Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media's Jon Street is apparently such a Trump loyalist that he devoted a Nov. 2 column to redefining the word "know" to try and separate Trump from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign staffer who recently pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russians during the campaign. Street complained the media is portraying Papadopoulos as "among the president's most senior advisors":
CNN, too, pushed the narrative that Papadopoulos was among Trump’s most senior campaign staff.
“President Donald Trump and his stable of surrogates have tried to discredit former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos in the wake of his guilty plea to special counsel Robert Mueller, casting him as nothing more than a low-level ‘coffee boy’ who rarely — if ever — interacted with senior members of Trump’s campaign,” CNN’s Dan Merica in an article published Tuesday.
“Those comments, though, belie Papadopoulos’ actual role in the campaign, as laid out by Mueller’s statement of charges, and use misinformation and inaccuracies to deride the former campaign adviser,” Merica added. Merica based his claim on two factors that do not clearly establish that Papadopoulos’ seniority in the Trump campaign.
First, Merica suggested that a single photo showing Papadapoulous sitting at a conference table with Trump and others in March 2016 somehow proves Papadopoulos was among the campaign’s most senior staffers.
Second, Merica pointed to a March 2016 Washington Post interview in which Trump called Papadopoulos an “excellent guy.” Merica argued that it was because of these two instances that Trump “knew” Papadopoulos.
As a presidential candidate, Trump, like every other candidate, held numerous meetings with various policymakers, advisers and experts. To suggest that Trump “knew” every single one of those individuals is, quite frankly, naive.
As to Trump’s comment that Papadopoulos is an “excellent guy,” Trump often comments on what he thinks of someone, particularly if they work for him, whenever mentioning them by name. This was true when Trump was a private businessman leading the Trump organization. It was true when he was a presidential candidate overseeing a campaign. And it’s true now that he’s president and head of the Executive Branch.
In short, as far as we know at this point, Trump did not “know” Papadopoulos and Papadopoulos was not part of Trump’s senior campaign staff. CNN, the Post and others would do well to acknowledge as much.
In short, Street is effectively confessing that Trump is a serial exaggerator, if not a liar, and anything he says should not be taken at face value. That's hardly a rousing defense.
AIM's Newest Writer Follows in Kincaid's Conspiratorial Footsteps, Declares Media Literacy Is 'Liberal Indoctrination' Topic: Accuracy in Media
Cliff Kincaid has disappeared from Accuracy in Media.
An AIM employee for more than 30 years, Kincaid hasn't written an article for AIM in a month, but near as we can tell, neither AIM nor chairman Don Irvine has made any statement regarding his job status. Curiously, though, it has been begging for "freelance writers to write about media bias for our website" on its Twitter account. Kincaid is no longer listed as employee on AIM's website, though he was in June (editor Roger Aronoff has similarly disappeared)
If Kincaid is gone, though, AIM has an apparent replacement in Brian McNicoll (though it appears he too is a freelancer and not a full-time AIM employee).McNicoll proves he's following in the conspiratorial steps of Kincaid with a July 25 column in which he rants that libraries are engaging in "liberal indoctrination" by teaching people how to understand the media and be on the lookout for fake news:
Sponsored content can be hard for anyone to tell apart … most is written to look like news copy and contains information that can be relied upon as long as the sourcing is indicated. And questioning the source of a photo is a second-level operation for most journalists, let alone middle schoolers.
But this test is being used as a pretext to dramatically expand K-12 teachers’ ability to influence children on how to pick sources, which to rely on, what constitutes authority and which affiliations compromise objectivity.
There are workbooks and programs. There are grants and curricula. The Agency of Education’s 2014 Quality Standards now call for one full-time library media specialist and sufficient staff” to implement such programs.
There’s a new app from Google called Internet Awesome that uses games to “get kids thinking about what makes the best password, how to behave online and how to sort real from fake information.”
It even has a name – media literacy. The people who bring you declining educational results despite increased spending now want to teach our children their version of how to interpret content on the Internet. Given their political predilections, this bears watching.
Why is this even a question when we’re talking about a presidential election? Isn’t it up to voters to decide which information is useful?
Besides, according to a study out last week from the Newseum Institute, Americans’ trust in what they read on the Internet is declining anyway. Amazingly, people have begun to realize all on their own that those Nigerian bank scams are not real.
There’s a reason two entities firmly on the left – educators and Facebook – suddenly have decided to help us improve our media literacy. It wants us to learn to discern the truth as they see it.
“We want students to come to conclusions that are not only true but personally meaningful and relevant,” one of the librarians said.
And now they want to guide them to that conclusion. What could go wrong?
Probably a lot less than what could go wrong if the likes of McNicoll and AIM try to do so.
'Left-Wing, Liberal And Progressive'? Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media's Spencer Irvine goes on this little mini-rant in a May 5 post:
The Center for American Progress is a left-wing, liberal and progressive think tank which houses allies of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. Yet, CNN felt it was wise to cite their anti-ObamaCare repeal research. How is CAP a neutral source in the fight over the future of ObamaCare?
CNN entitled the piece, “Think tank on GOP health bill: Coverage to plummet, cancer treatment costs to skyrocket,” and only said that the organization is “a DC-based progressive think tank.”
Sorry, CNN, but by not reporting the Democratic Party ties of some of their employees, such as CAP’s President Neera Tanden andher ties to the Clinton campaign, is dishonest reporting.
Isn't "left-wing," "liberal" or "progressive" sufficient on their own to describe CAP? Aren't the words basically synonymous? How can CAP possibly be all three at the same time? Irvine never explains.
And, actually, identifying CAP as "progressive" is sufficient. Irvine also ignores his own advice; in one recent post, he fails to identify the right-wing ideology of Judicial Watch, stating only that it's "the organization that helped expose the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal." And another post by Irvine identified the Heritage Foundation only as a "conservative think tank" despite its links to the Trump administration.
AIM's Kincaid Puts His Trust In A 9/11 Truther Topic: Accuracy in Media
It makes sense that the far-right-fringe Cliff Kincaid would come to the defense of a fellow fringer (and 9/11 truther), "Judge" Andrew Napolitano, over his never-substantiated claim that former President Obama contracted with British intelligence to spy on Donald Trump's campaign.
As we note in our special report, “A Watergate-style Threat to the Democratic Process,” it is well-known that the British NSA, known as GCHQ or Government Communications Headquarters, collaborates with the NSA. In fact, a declassified document on the NSA’s own website confirms NSA/GCHQ “collaboration” dating back decades. Fox News senior judicial analyst and commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano said his sources confirm there was such an arrangement in the matter of the “wiretapping” of Trump and/or his associates.
Fox News immediately threw Napolitano under the bus. “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary,” Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said on-air. “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way.”
The phrase, “knows of no evidence,” does not suggest any independent investigation of his information.
Kincaid cites as backup for Napolitano's claim "former CIA operative Larry Johnson," who's best known for teasing a nonexistent Michelle Obama "whitey tape."
In his March 25 column -- following Napolitano's suspension from Fox News over the unproven claim -- Kincaid dismisses the Trump dossier of alleged bad behavior (not proven but also not disproven) as having been "concocted by a former British intelligence agent," which somehow proves Napolitano right. Kincaid then laughably portrays Napolitano as "the modern-day John Peter Zenger," asserts that his never-substantiated claims "looks increasingly relevant every day that passes" and that the whole situation "has been a major black mark for Fox News."
Kincaid also insists that "the Newseum should consider embracing the cause of freeing Judge Napolitano," even though Napolitano is already presumably free to leave Fox News at any time and go elsewhere to ply his substasnce-free conspiratorial wares.
AIM Helps Sebastian Gorka Overcompensate Topic: Accuracy in Media
In a Washington Post piece, Daniel Drezner pretty much obliterates Sebastian Gorka, the right-wing Muslim-hater who somehow ascended to being an terrorism adviser to the Trump White House. It seems Gorka cold-called a critic and actual terrorism expert and whined about the "incessant berating of my professional acumen." In telling Gorka to grow a pair, Drezner also pointed out Gorka's laughable insistence on touting his doctorate at every opportunity despite the fact that his doctoral thesis (from a Hungarian university) would have a hard time getting respect as an undergraduate thesis at a decent American college. "It’s a surefire sign that you’re overcompensating," Drezner wrote.
Accuracy in Media, for one, has been among the right-wing groups helping Gorka overcompensate and evade criticism of his work.
In a May 2012 column, AIM's Cliff Kincaid introduced "Dr. Sebastian L. v. Gorka," who claimed that "the Obama Administration is rapidly revising federal counter-terrorism training materials in order to eliminate references to Jihad and Islam." Kincaid made no mention of any actual evidence Gorka had of this beyond a Wired magazine expose on how FBI connterterrorism training had a bad habit of characterizing all Muslims as prone to violence or terrorism. Kincaid added that Gorka "recently became an American citizen."
A September 2016 AIM article by Alex Nitzberg touted how "Dr. Sebastian Gorka" said that political correctness is harming U.S. "war efforts" because it fails "to recognize the link between Islam and terrorism." Gorka peddled other right-wing orthodoxy as well:
While he identified “the global jihadi movement” as the primary threat currently facing America, he also said, “…I think if the nation looks at itself in the mirror, the other truly horrific enemy we face is ourselves. If you look at the debt that both politicians of left and right have accumulated for this nation and for generations to come…Capitol Hill is acting like a bunch of drunken sailors that will create a bankrupt nation if we don’t get a grip.”
Questioned about the potential ramifications of a Hillary Clinton presidency, Dr. Gorka said that “…a Hillary Clinton administration would be catastrophic for this nation.” Describing Clinton as “…a person who’s completely beholden to the highest bidder and has no regard for the interests of the republic,” he asserted that “…she would be bad for America, her allies, and the interests of the nation in the long run.” While not a member of the Trump campaign, Dr. Gorka has previously advised the Republican candidate on national security.
If Gorka is a two-bit ideologue who Peter Principled his way into the Trump White House -- and it certainly appears he is -- AIM certainly helped create him.
AIM's Associated Press Fact-Check Fail Topic: Accuracy in Media
Spencer Irvine wrote in a March 1 Accuracy in Media blog post:
Hindsight is 20/20, but the question looms large: Why did the Associated Press start fact-checking Donald Trump and his cabinet appointees (such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s recent comment on historical black colleges and universities and school choice) and did not fact check Obama or any of his cabinet secretaries?
We checked the Associated Press’s website and only found Donald Trump and Sarah Palin-related fact checks. When we expanded our search, PolitiFact had a fact check history of Obama’s first Education Secretary Arne Duncan (which is comparable to the AP’s recent fact check of DeVos).
Sounds like the Associated Press is eight years too late, as far as fair and balanced fact checks are concerned.
Another question looms large: How does someone who purports to be a media analyst not know how the Associated Press works?
While the AP is a news organization, it is also a news cooperative that syndicates its content to other news organizations, in part in return for those organizations sharing their content with the AP for redistribution. As such, AP content is as likely, if not more so, to be found at other news operation as the AP itself.
If Irvine had bothered to broaden his horizons, he would have easily found that, yes, the AP has been fact-checking Obama for years -- and he would have found some of that at right-wing websites.
For instance, here's a Daily Caller article touting an AP fact-check of Obama's 2015 State of the Union speech. (The full fact-check can be found at the New York Post.) And here's an AP fact-check of Obama's 2013 State of the Union posted at The Blaze. And here is that 2013 fact-check at Fox News. And the right-wing Washington Times published the AP fact-check of Obama's 2012 and 2014 State of the Union speeches.
NEW ARTICLE: Russia's New ConWeb Comrades, Part 2 Topic: Accuracy in Media
CNSNews.com and Accuracy in Media joined WorldNetDaily in defending Donald Trump -- and, thus, Vladimir Putin -- over allegations that the Russians meddled in the U.S. presidential election. Read more >>
AIM Defends The Truth of 'Alternative Facts' Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media has totally bought into the reality-warping powers of Donald Trump and his administration. So much so, in fact, that AIM's Roger Aronoff devotes a Jan. 25 column to defending the honor of Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts":
When White House counsel Kellyanne Conway said on NBC News that the White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, had presented the press with “alternative facts” about the size of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd, the press immediately concluded that alternative facts were, in fact, lies. They’ve had a field day with it ever since.
Yet Spicer argued at a January 23 press conference that if the press publishes a correction, it is not necessarily seen as lying. So, too, the press shouldn’t assume the White House is lying if they are proven wrong. However, Spicer maintained that the inauguration viewership—including online viewers and television viewers—was the largest ever.
But alternative facts aren’t necessarily lies, or even false. Sometimes they are misleading, but other times they provide context which illuminates the original lie—often the ones perpetuated by the mainstream media.
“We believe there is an objective truth, and we will hold you to that,” states a letter to President Trump from the press corps authored by Kyle Pope of the Columbia Journalism Review. “When you or your surrogates say or tweet something that is demonstrably wrong, we will say so, repeatedly,” states the letter. “Facts are what we do, and we have no obligation to repeat false assertions…”
We have repeatedly reported about how the media have continued to distribute fake and false news in the service of President Obama, most notably the continued claim that the Iran deal is signed. It is not, and the lack of anything that would make this agreement enforceable explains continued Iranian aggression.
Aronoff then tries to spin the whole inauguration-attendance thing:
As for the inauguration turnout, it is clear that the press is playing a duplicitous game. This New York Times article contains a video that shows vast open white spaces at President Donald Trump’s inauguration. However, our screen captures of CNN’s gigapixel panorama of the event shows those areas filled. I am no expert in this area, but it appears that there were a lot more people at Trump’s inauguration who weren’t in the Times’ photo, so this is guesswork. Brit Hume of Fox News tweeted that the Times’ photo with all of the empty space was “taken early,” and that the “area was considerably fuller by time of speech.”
The problem with Aronoff citing CNN's gigapixel panorama is that it was taken from the front of the crowd and from a low angle that doesn't fully show the crowd -- not from the back and from high up, the angle that enraged Trump. Which means it's Aronoff who's being dupicitous.
Aronoff also tries out a few "alternative facts" of his own:
Accuracy in Media has reported how the media have used unemployment statistics to support the contention that Obama handed off a growing, thriving economy to Trump. The alternative fact here, however, is that millions of Americans are being left behind in our economy. The relevant data is not the rosy unemployment rate so much as our ailing labor participation rate. The only reason the unemployment rate is so low is that millions of people have quit looking for work because so few good jobs were available, and Obamacare’s mandates forced millions of people into part-time jobs. The unemployment number by itself doesn’t mean much, without additional, or alternative, facts that give it context.
But Aronoff conveniently ignores one other contextual "alternate fact" as we've documented when CNSNews.com obsesses over the labor participation rate, many of the people who aren't working are retired people or students who have no interest in finding a job; the rate is further skewed by the retirement of baby boomers. Even the conservative American Enterprise Institute agrees that the labor force participation rate is meaningless as a barometer of unemployment.
Aronoff laughably concludes: "None of this is meant to justify Trump or his appointees saying things that they can’t back up with some credible evidence or sources. Being the president is different than being a candidate or even President-elect. They have to be more careful. But the media’s disposition towards Trump is proving far more adversarial than towards previous administrations." If Aronoff wasn't trying to justify the falsehoods spun by Trump and his crew, he wouldn't have written this column.