Journalistic Window Dressing
CNSNews.com makes a couple changes to create the illusion of an unbiased news organization.
By Terry Krepel
CNSNews.com, the more-or-less-journalistic arm of Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, is trying to spruce up its image a little.
One new item on CNS' front page is a link to the Virginia Press Association, of which it is an affiliate member. That's true, but a little misleading.
The Virginia Press Association has four classes of membership -- active, associate, sustaining and affiliate. Newspapers fill the active and associate ranks. Only one organization, a features syndicator, is listed as a sustaining member. Affiliate members are mostly industry lobbying groups, newsprint and equipment suppliers -- and CNSNews.com.
Being an affiliate member creates no journalistic standards for CNS to abide by and requires nothing but the payment of a membership fee. For $175 a year, you too can be an affiliate member of the Virginia Press Association and make use of that prestigious logo.
The other big change is what the letters CNS stand for. Originally the Conservative News Service, it was quietly changed over the summer to Cybercast News Service.
In an Aug. 8 message on the CNS bulletin board, executive editor Scott Hogenson lists two reasons why: The site's increased "cybercasting" of its news to other web sites, and the fact there were unable to trademark "Conservative News Service" because it "was deemed 'merely descriptive' by the Patent and Trademark Office."
The name change doesn't change the CNS mission, Hogenson insists: "Rest assured that we will continue reporting the news you've come to expect and will continue reporting it as we always have."
Uh-huh. Here are some recent examples of we've "come to expect" from CNS:
-- In a Nov. 30 story about a complaint filed against two lawyers representing Al Gore in the Florida post-election legal battle, including lead attorney David Boies, writer Jim Burns doesn't bother to try and get a response from Boies and the other lawyer.
-- Another Jim Burns story, a Nov. 28 piece titled "Bush Team Debunks Gore 'Myths' about Florida Election," presents Gore's arguments for the sole purpose of being rebutted by Bush operatives and presented as absolute truth rather than what is -- the other side of an argument. No attempt is made for any Gore official to comment on the Bush arguments.
-- A Nov. 29 story states that "Democrats went to court" and "lawyers for the Democrats argued" against an effort by the conservative group Judicial Watch to review "dimpled chad" ballots in Palm Beach County. But the story never says who these "Democrats" represent, the local, state or national party or some other affiliation. Yes, more sloppy reporting from Jim Burns.
-- A Dec. 7 article tries to revive the debunked claim that thousands of voters in the Florida panhandle didn't bother to vote because the TV networks erroneously called the state for Gore 11 minutes before the polls closed in the panhandle. The article, by Lawrence Morahan, claims 5,000 Bush votes were lost but dances around the time the networks made their call, never explicitly stating it was only 11 minutes before the panhandle polls closed and ignoring the fact that their competitors at WorldNetDaily couldn't actually find anyone credible who didn't vote because of it.
-- Editorial policy dictated by Brent Bozell, as evidenced by CNS writing two stories on the so-called "bias," hyped by Bozell, of NBC not interrupting its showing of "Titanic" to air an address by George W. Bush. Interestingly, while CNS offers a way to legitimize Bozell's pet peeves, CNS reports are ignored by the rest of Bozell's Media Research Center at will; ConWebWatch has previously noted the MRC article insisting that Gore was the first to use the name "Willie Horton" when a 1999 CNS story (written by Hogenson, no less) documents the opposite.
This from an organization that claims it "endeavors to fairly present all legitimate sides of a story." But hey, CNS has never admitted it considers the point of view of anyone whose beliefs it opposes as legitimate.