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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Will MRC's Graham Learn A Lesson From Sally Kohn?
Topic: NewsBusters

Tim Graham writes in an April 16 NewsBusters post:

Liberal pundit Sally Kohn is on Yahoo! this morning with an article titled "What I learned as a liberal talking head on Fox News." She learned conservatives were personable and human.

What? Yes, she says that would amaze "fellow liberals who had not watched much Fox News but had seen the most outlandish clips of Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity that had made it to 'The Daily Show' or YouTube. They perhaps imagined that walking down the hallway outside makeup, Mr. O'Reilly might yell then, too, instead of just saying hello. That's a funny notion, but it couldn't be further from the truth."

The obvious thought here is: Why can't liberals just turn on Fox News for themselves and spend an hour? Why must they only watch it after it's "curated" by Jon Stewart?

Graham won't mention that Kohn has learned lessons that his fellow MRC employees apparently haven't.

Would a conservative who recognized the humanity of liberals call President Obama a "skinny ghetto crackhead," as MRC chief Brent Bozell has? Or get into a shouting matchh with a liberal guest, as Bozell did?

Would a conservative who recognized the humanity of liberals call Sandra Fluke a "horizontal laborer" and a "Lincoln Tunnel hitcher," as the MRC's Matt Philbin has? Or respond to a critic by telling him to "fuck off," as Philbin has?

Would a conservative who recognized the humanity of liberals dismiss a liberal's calmly argued statements as nothing but shrieking and ranting, as NewsBustsers' Jeffrey Meyer did?

Would a conservative who recognized the humanity of liberals smear a criticism he disagreed with as "effete," as Graham himself did?

Instead of merely praising Kohn for recognizing that conservatives are human, Graham should be following her example by reminding his fellow MRCers -- including his boss -- that liberals are human too.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:18 PM EDT
Sunday, April 13, 2014
NewsBusters' Blumer Still Doesn't Understand How Journalism Works
Topic: NewsBusters

For a guy who purports to be a media critic, NewsBusters' Tom Blumer is remarkably clueless about how the media works.

Blumer demonstrates this again in an April 9 post with the headline "AP Keeps Lois Lerner's Name Out of Headline and Opening Paragraph in Two Reports."

Yes, that really is Blumer's complaint:

I suspect that many readers who do their best to keep up with the news at a detailed level have a hard time understanding how many of their friends, acquaintances and neighbors — even many who they know put some effort into keeping up with current events — can be so unaware of many objectively important news developments.

There are two answers to that question. One is that the establishment press very often doesn't cover important matters at all; all one has to do is recall the empty media chairs at the trial of pre-born and newborn baby butcher Kermit Gosnell. The other is that when they do cover a story, journalists and their news outlets often do all they can to keep key names and facts out of their headlines and opening paragraph. Thanks to the fact that many people now consume news using computers, tablets, and smartphones, this stalling tactic may be even more effective now than it was in the print-only days.


Both stories avoid mentioning Lerner's name. That takes a lot of work, given that she is the object of potential criminal charges. Additionally, Ohlemacher's stories also could and should have been more precise in describing the issue as the "tea party targeting controversy."

The chances of clickthroughs on the headlines seen above on electronic devices are far lower than they would have been if Lerner's name had been added to the headlines. Many electronic news digests also include the first sentence or so of the reports themselves. In each case above, the text is less interesting than it would be if Lerner's name had been included.

As someone who -- unlike Blumer and the vast majority of Media Research Center writers -- actually worked in journalism for years, let me clue Blumer in on how journalism works. While Lois Lerner might be a household name in the right-wing media bubble Blumer resides in, she isn't in the wider world in which the vast majority of Americans live and which is AP's primary audience.

Because Lerner's name means nothing to the vast majority of Americans who aren't obsessed with this right-wing scandal, there is no need to put her name in the headline or lead paragraph of general-interest AP articles. "IRS official" means much more to the American public as a whole than Lerner's name does.

Blumer does go on to question the efficacy of AP's approach in a digital environment where news consumers made "judgments based on top-level headlines and opening paragraphs, often looking no further," but he's still insisting that Lerner's name is significant enough to make a difference in such decisions -- a supposition he doesn't prove.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:23 PM EDT
Monday, April 7, 2014
How Would The MRC Treat A Brendan Eich In Its Midst?
Topic: NewsBusters

The Media Research Center has worked up predictable outrage over the ouster of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, displayed most typically in an April 5 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham.

Graham complains about "an obnoxious blog post by Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times," who points out that "Mozilla is not a normal company. It is an activist organization." Graham huffs that "activists apparently find it very distasteful to be less than 'militantly tolerant,'" adding: "In other words, those 'thoughtful Mozillians' believed Eich apparently needed to undergo 'conversion therapy' and become an 'ex-Anti-Gay,' and then he would be 'rehabilitated.'"

Graham seems to want us to believe that conservative organizations would never behave in such a manner. But is that really true?

Suppose a prominent MRC official was discovered to have donated $1,000 to to an anti-Proposition 8 campaign (Eich got in trouble for donating to a pro-Prop 8 campaign). How many MRC board members would resign, as happened at Mozilla? How harsh would the condemnation be in the right-wing media? How many times would it be described as a betrayal of the MRC's principles, which prominently includes denigration and hatred of gays and other LGBT individuals?

Would that MRC official last any longer in his job than Eich did? Would he not be encouraged, if not coerced, into leaving? Wouldn't MRC employees also publish "thoughful" posts on the subject, all of them concluding with a desire to be rid of this burden? Wouldn't his former boss, Brent Bozell, express disappointment that he could not could rehabilitate his ideas about gay marriage?

After all, it appears that not hating gays is a disqualification for employment at the MRC. So let's not pretend that Graham and his co-workers would be any less tolerant if they were in the same situation.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:58 PM EDT
Thursday, April 3, 2014
NewsBusters' Pierre Still Whitewashing Catholic Church Abuse
Topic: NewsBusters

Dave Pierre is the Media Research Center's official whitewasher of sexual abuse allegations against Catholic clergy, desperate to mislead in order to divert attention away from the longstanding scandal.

Pierre strikes again in an April 1 NewsBusters post trying to obfuscate things, starting with a claim that a new audit of abuse in the church was issued by "independent experts." In fact, the report was issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is arguably less than independent. Pierre also conveniently ignores the limitations of the audit -- namely, that it depends heavily on self-reporting and that most Catholic dioceses refused to let the USCCB's independent auditor, a company called StoneBridge, conduct its own parish-level audits:

In 2013, as in 2011 and 2012, most dioceses and all eparchies opted not to have StoneBridge conduct parish audits. Some dioceses countered that they perform their own audits and elected to opt out of having StoneBridge also audit them. Parishes and schools represent the front lines in any diocese’s or eparchy’s Charter compliance efforts. If a diocese or eparchy does not conduct some form of audit of its parishes and schools—whether by diocesan/eparchial representative or external auditor such as StoneBridge—the bishop or eparch cannot be sure that Charter-related policies and procedures are clearly communicated and effectively carried out. At the chancery or pastoral center, our auditors may review certain Charter implementation policies, and observe related back office procedures, but without observing the same procedures at the parish/school level, we are unable to verify that parishes and schools are complying with the Charter.

Nevertheless, Pierre is in full spin mode, declaring that "there were only ten contemporaneous abuse allegations made against priests even deemed 'credible' in all of 2013" and that "bogus accusations against Catholic priests are rampant." Of course, Pierre's low number for "contemporaneous abuse allegations" is not a reflection of reality, since many allegations of abuse come years after the fact.

Pierre huffed that Only a mere 14.6% of all 2013 cases were even deemed "substantiated" by the liberal standards of review boards" without mentioning that the review boards in question are operated by the dioceses or explaining how its standards are supposedly "liberal." Pierre also portrays the audit's claim that "90% of all abuse accusations last year allege incidents from at least 25 years ago" as something to be proud of instead of the ongoing source of concern it actually is.

So, yes, Pierre is still an apologist for the church, trying to pretend sexual abuse never was a real problem.

P.S. While NewsBusters published this, neither it nor any other MRC outlet has yet to acknowledge Catholic activist Austin Ruse's assertion that liberal professors should be shot.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:57 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 3, 2014 4:15 PM EDT
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
NewsBusters Justifies Unnecessary Voter-ID Laws
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd devotes a March 25 post to laboriously explaining why voter ID laws are needed even if the voter fraud such laws would prevent doesn't really exist.

Responding to an MSNBC article pointing out that voter-fraud allegations are overblown, Shepherd writes:

Granted, it is fair to highlight and criticize a politician for exuberant rhetoric, but that alone does not seem to be MSNBC's aim. Regardless of how prevalent voter fraud is, prophylactic measures to prevent FUTURE fraud are legitimate policy measures for state governments to pursue. What's more, while there may be only a handful of cases in the past 13 years that progressed far enough in an investigation to strongly suggest if not prove voter fraud, that by no means suggests that every instance of voter fraud in the past few years has in fact gone detected and documented. There are plenty of crimes which occur on a daily basis a large number of which are never reported, much less investigated.

What's more, in instances where an election was not substantially close but the losing party has suspicions of voter fraud, investigations into the same would not have generated a change in the electoral outcome and, accordingly, may not have been pursued.

Shepherd is really stretching things here by going into purely speculative mode. It demonstrates the weakness of his argument.

Nevertheless, he goes on, responding to a claim that voter-ID laws are ineffective against the most common form of voter fraud, misuse of absentee ballots:

Of course, in-person balloting is similarly done via secret ballot, which is all the more reason why it's important to prevent someone fraudulently voting in person when claiming to be another individual.

Suppose it's 7:30 a.m. on election day and a Joe Jones fraudulently obtains a ballot intended for a Sam Smith, who has not yet voted. The precinct worker crosses Sam Smith off the rolls as having voted, and Joe Jones votes a secret ballot which, of course, cannot be un-voted. Later in the day, Sam Smith comes in to vote after work only to find his name has already been crossed off the voter roll. The best case scenario is that Mr. Smith will get and mark up a provisional ballot, which may not be counted when all is said and done, while Jones's fraudulently-cast ballot will most certainly be counted.

In the final analysis, this may not swing the election held that day, but in a real sense, Smith was disenfranchised and Jones was able to cast a vote which he was not entitled by law to cast.

That argument might have some weight if he hadn't conceded earlier in the post that there is no widespread voter fraud of that type.

Shepherd concludes:

If the MSNBC network really cared about the public policy issues in play, they could give viewers and website readers a thorough exploration of the pros and cons of voter ID laws. But alas, the aim is not illumination but excitation: whipping up the Democratic Party base in an election year to fear and loathe the GOP, all in service of protecting Democrats from an electoral bloodletting.

Shepherd, on the other hand, is trying to whip up the Republican base to fear and loathe Democrats by fearmongering about voter fraud he can't prove exists.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:30 AM EDT
Monday, March 31, 2014
NewsBusters Has Difficulty Describing Who State Senator Insulted
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March 26 NewsBusters post, P.J. Gladnick mocks the Providence Journal for a story on Rhode Island state senator Joshua Miller directing an insult at someone, adding that "There was just no easy way to describe exactly what Miller was "apologizing" for but staff reporter tried his best without being explicit.

But Gladnick describes the target of the insult only as a "radio host," then attacks Miller's apology as insincere because it was "chock full of excuses can't really be sincere." But it no point does Gladnick fully describe who the guy was that Miller insulted.

His name is Dan Bidondi, and he works for the Alex Jones conspiracy website In the apology that Gladnick deemed insufficiently sincere, Miller noted that Bidondi was "interrupting legitimate members of the media who were attempting to conduct interviews" and had "antagonize[d] an elderly veteran."

That wasn't so hard. Why couldn't Gladnick do it?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:32 PM EDT
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Noel Sheppard, R.I.P.
Topic: NewsBusters

The Media Research Center reports that NewsBusters assistant editor Noel Sheppard has died at the age of 53. He had stopped writing for NewsBusters earlier this year while being treated for cancer.

In a tribute, Matthew Sheffield notes that Sheppard actually sold his financial planning business to pursue blogging full-time for us at NewsBusters: "Noel loved attention and NewsBusters readers loved his work, making him by far the blog’s most popular writer. Very frequently, he single-handly brought in half of the site traffic each month."

ConWebWatch has published numerous articles about Sheppard over the years.

Rest in peace, Noel.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:16 PM EDT
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
MRC's Graham Resurrects Old Bashing of Iran-Contra Prosecutor
Topic: NewsBusters

It's apparently "I Hate The '90s" week at the Media Research Center.

On the heels of baselessly attacking Anita Hill, Tim Graham uses a March 21 NewsBusters post to unleash a tirade against Iran-contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, who died last week:

Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh died Thursday at the age of 102. A quick quiz of the millennials around our office showed no one had the slightest idea who he was. A search of our network news/cable news database also turned up nothing in the last news cycle.

Here's how middle-aged conservative media critics remember Walsh: On the last Friday night before the 1992 election, Walsh indicted Reagan defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. President Bush was scheduled that night for a live sit-down on Larry King Live. CNN allowed then-Clinton campaign staffer George Stephanopoulos called in to fight with him about his alleged lying on Iran-Contra. That was dirty trick piled on dirty trick, as I wrote in my book Pattern of Deception.

Graham can sure hold a grudge, can't he? And this is from the same guy who was outraged that the media would dare examine what Mitt Romney did in high school.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:59 AM EDT
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
NewsBusters: MSNBC Covered Missing Plane To Avoid Covering Obama
Topic: NewsBusters

Mark Finkelstein writes in a March 20 NewsBusters post:

You're MSNBC.  That hurts I know, but work with me.  So, what would you like to feature: President Obama getting Putinized?  Syria flouting the WMD agreement?  Iran's inexorable march toward nukes?  The ongoing Obamacare debacle?

Not so much.  Say: why not make like CNN and go all in on MH-370? Which is precisely what Morning Joe did today.  The first 103 minutes were devoted exclusively to the story of the missing plane, as an endless series of experts and panelists speculated to no particular avail.

Finkelstein is echoing right-wingers like those on Fox News who complain that there's some kind of conspiracy to report on the missingplane so they wouldn't have to report on negative things about Obama.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:27 PM EDT
Monday, March 24, 2014
NewsBusters Can't Stop Portraying Discrimination Against Gays As 'Religious Liberty'
Topic: NewsBusters

Ken Shepherd grumbles in a March 21 NewsBusters post:

MSNBC is at it yet again, slandering conservatives wishing to protect the religious liberties of business owners as "anti-gay" bigots.

The latest example comes with the headline for Adam Serwer's March 21 story, "Georgia Republicans tack anti-gay amendments onto unrelated bills." 

As we've pointed out when Shepherd and his Media Research Center buddies have previously advanced this idea, there's a good reason such "religious liberty" bills are seen -- and accurately portrayed -- as anti-gay: The impetus for introducing them was to keep business owners from being forced to do anything that could possibly be considered support for gay marriage, like baking a cake or taking photos, allowing to skirt federal public-accomodation mandates.

Shepherd has previously framed the anti-gay discrimination that such laws would make possible as a "free-market remedy."

Posted by Terry K. at 8:08 PM EDT
Friday, March 21, 2014
MRC's Graham Keeps Up The Misguided Pierce-Rage
Topic: NewsBusters

Tim Graham and the Media Reserarch Center have been misportraying an article about Ted Kennedy for more than a decade now, and they're certainly not going to stop now.

In a March 10 NewsBusters post bashing "left-wing crazy man Charles Pierce," Graham adds that "Pierce is the (unintentional) funny man who imagined Chappaquiddick victim Mary Jo Kopechne thanking Ted Kennedy in her old age...'if she had lived.'"

As we've repeatedly documented, Pierce was not praising Kennedy -- the full context, and Pierce's declared intent, was to show that the Chappaquiddick incident effectively keeps him from having the "moral credibility" to be elected president.

But the truth doesn't pay at the MRC -- fitting a narrative. And Graham is apparently going to keep cramming Pierce in his discredited narrative no matter what.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:05 AM EDT
Monday, March 17, 2014
NewsBusters Silent As Anti-Obamacare Tale It Promoted Falls Apart
Topic: NewsBusters

On Feb. 23, Jeffrey Meyer wrote a NewsBusters post defending Julie Boonstra -- a woman featured in an anti-Obamacare ad in Michigan -- after the accuracy of her story was criticized, complaining that "the liberal media has remained silent on this leukemia patient’s nightmare dealing with ObamaCare."

This is the only reference to Boonstra on NewsBusters, which means it hasn't reported how Boonstra's story has fallen apart. Talking Points Memo summarizes:

When journalists looked into her claim, Boonstra identified the new plan she chose on the Obamacare exchanges: a so-called "gold" plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield, per the Detroit News.

Her old plan cost $1,100 per month, which adds up to $13,200 a year in premiums alone -- before co-pays, out-of-pocket costs and drug expenses.

Her new plan costs $571 per month, which adds up to $6,852 per year. Her out-of-pocket costs are maxed at $5,100, which means a maximum cost of $11,952 per year. That means her new plan cannot cost her more than her old plan.

In other words, Boonstra would save at least $1,248 under Obamacare.

When the Detroit News told her this, Boonstra was in disbelief, saying it "can't be true."

"I personally do not believe that," she told the paper.

The Affordable Care Act sets a maximum of $6,350 in out of pocket costs. So even if Blue Cross were to raise her out-of-pocket costs to the upper limit, the worst case scenario is that Boonstra would pay under Obamacare is $13,202 with everything covered -- which is what her old plan cost her on premiums alone. Either way, she saves money.

Meyer hasn't said a word about that -- and neither has anyone else at NewsBusters.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:46 PM EDT
Thursday, March 13, 2014
NewsBusters Plugs Mark Levin, Doesn't Mention He's A Paid MRC Spokesman
Topic: NewsBusters

Ken Shepherd does a fine job of shilling for Mark Levin in a March 10 NewsBusters post:

He may call himself a "Bernie Goldberg conservative" and a "Juan Williams liberal" but in truth, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas is simply "a damn fool" who "has abused [his] role" on the network's airwaves to trash the constitutional right of "we the people" to keep and bear arms, syndicated radio host Mark Levin argued on his March 10 program.


Check out Mr. Levin's website here. For the full March 10 program, as well as to check out the complete Levin audio archive, click here.

Shepherd didn't mention that Levin is a paid spokesman for the publisher of NewsBusters -- just like his colleagues at ostensible MRC "news" division regularly fail to do.

We don't ask for much -- just that the MRC follows the same journalistic ethics it demands from the "liberal media" it bashes.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:54 PM EDT
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
NewsBusters Endorses Limbaugh's Jealous Attack on Ronan Farrow
Topic: NewsBusters

Rush Limbaugh hates Ronan Farrow, and NewsBusters loves him for it.

A March 8 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock approvingly quotes Limbaugh attacking Farrow by claiming that "He's never done anything. He's never gotten good at anything" and that everything Farrow has achieved, including becoming host of an MSNBC show, occurred "simply by virtue of genealogy" and "simply because of the sperm cells." Whitlock adds that because Farrow's show isn't an instant hit, "The ratings back up Limbaugh's contention."

Do Limbaugh and Whitlock think Farrow graduating college at 15 is an achievement accomplished only because he has famous parents? How about becoming a Rhodes Scholar? If so, they don't understand how such things work.

It seems that Limbaugh and Whitlock are jealous of Farrow's success; when Limbaugh was Farrow's age, he was still working as a small-market radio DJ. We don't know what Whitlock was doing, but we're pretty sure he wasn't hosting a TV show.

Limbaugh is green with envy that Farrow has achieved so much more than the young Limbaugh had,  and Whitlock is more than happy to endorse that envy.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 PM EDT
Monday, March 10, 2014
Zombie Blogger At NewsBusters Issues Zombie Complaint
Topic: NewsBusters

We thought that Clay Waters' departure from the Media Research Center, we were done reading about complaints that the media labeled conservatives as conservative.

But no. In his first work since leaving the MRC last may when his TimesWatch column was canceled, Waters has resurfaced at NewsBusters to, yes, make another silly labeling complaint:

The New York Times covered the latest annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with its usual mix of suspicion, overloaded labeling bias, and anti-GOP doomsaying. The paper's skeptical coverage of the three-day conservative confab, held this year at National Harbor on the Potomac, opened with two stories in Friday's edition, one on the organizers's attempts to put "a less strident face on the convention and the party."

Reporter Jonathan Martin's rundown of the speech by Republican star Sen. Marco Rubio, still in the mix for the 2016 presidential race, contained nine "conservative" labels, which actually makes it a model of restraint for the Times compared to last year's label-heavy reporting. Yet the question remains: Just how many "conservative" labels do you need, when the conference has the actual word "conservative" in the title?

Waters doesn't answer his question by telling us which "conservative" labels in the article, if any, he considered extraneous.

Speaking of extraneous: Waters' end-of-blog bio still lists him as an MRC employee, portrays TimesWatch as an existing thing, and links to the TimesWatch Twitter feed though it apparently no longer exists.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 PM EDT

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