Bias in Training
An Accuracy in Media intern bashes USA Today for bias but can't seem to find any at NewsMax. Huh?
By Terry Krepel
Don't you just hate it when the interns get out of control? That seems to be the case at Accuracy in Media, where an intern wrote an article that cries "bias" yet embraces an even more biased source of information.
In his July 16 article, Chris Sutton was offended that a profile of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the July 10 USA Today, in his words, "oozed with undisguised and unprofessional partiality" toward her, expressing his offense in a manner that oozed his own undisguised and unprofessional partiality. "It wasn't the complimentary quotes the journalist, Jeannie Williams, included, nor the excessively detailed account of Sen. Clinton's good deeds that doomed this article, and so indirectly, the newspaper's editor and entire staff, to criticism-rather, it was the mere token mention of the mountainous controversy that surround Sen. Clinton," Sutton wrote, completely overlooking the irony that his blanket criticism of an entire organization based on one article can also apply to his own article and, thus, his employer.
True, the USA Today article was something of a puff piece -- which, for better or worse, is little more than a speeding ticket on the scale of ethical violations in journalism. But we suspect that Sutton might think different about his demand that any article about Hillary Clinton summarize every lawsuit and controversy associated with her if he had to apply the same standard to Republicans. For example, we haven't heard any complaints from AIM about a book on Ronald Reagan by former aide Michael Deaver that, according to one review, "glosses over the scandal over an arms for hostages deal with Iran that dominated a major portion of Reagan's second presidency, only saying the former president wasn't 'implicated' in the matter."
Sutton then undercuts the argument he is trying to make by using a fatally flawed example of what should have been included. He writes that "Williams includes one sentence describing the Clintons' large-scale theft of priceless White House possessions as having 'loaded their moving van with items that were gifts to the White House.' This lets Clinton off easy. Compare such an interpretation of the facts to the one presented by a NewsMax.com article: 'When the Clintons left Washington two weeks ago, they took at least $28,000 in property that was part of the permanent White House collection.'"
The main problem with this statement, of course, is assuming anything NewsMax says is the whole truth. The NewsMax article Sutton refers to (Sutton's article links to the NewsMax front page, but not the specific article) was a Feb. 5 piece that ultimately turned out to be at least partially wrong.
Had Sutton bothered to do a little research before smearing the Clintons with the charge of "large-scale theft" -- no one has proven malicious intent on the part of the Clintons here -- he would have learned that a) the Clintons returned the belongings back to the government after the questions about ownership arose; and b) as a June 19 New York Daily News article reveals, the Clintons were found to be the rightful owners of at least some of those belongings after all, including a couple pieces that one donor swore in the NewsMax article didn't belong to them.
But you won't read about that in NewsMax. You also won't read about it in Accuracy in Media. You see, they're biased, too -- even more so than they accuse publications like USA Today of being. They care only about reporting the negative about Democrats in general and the Clintons in particular; you'll see pigs flying before you read anything positive or exculpatory about the Clintons there.
Sutton himself provides the best evidence of this (as does, of course, the ConWebWatch archive), writing that "... the $8 million advance Sen. Clinton received from a publisher has raised eyebrows of both her supporters and detractors. Yet the author gives Clinton the opportunity to defend herself against criticism that she is cashing in on their White House years."
Gasp! How dare Hillary Clinton be given the opportunity to respond to her critics. Sutton -- who seems to be unfamiliar with this basic concept of journalistic fairness -- seems to be content with the preferred conservative method of hurling charges like "large-scale theft" that have no basis in reality. He perpetuates the conservative modus operandi that the Clintons are guilty until proven innocent (and even then, they're still guilty) and therefore not entitled to defend themselves.
The problem is that Accuracy in Media, like NewsMax, is less concerned about "accuracy" than it is about conservative politics; if it was genuinely concerned about accuracy, Sutton would have researched his article much better than he did before it appeared in print. And AIM wouldn't be hanging out with the likes of NewsMax.
A recent search for "NewsMax" on the AIM web site brought up 30 hits, from Reed Irvine's and Cliff Kincaid's regurgitation of NewsMax's hypocritical war against Dan Rather over the "buckwheat slur," to a suck-up letter to NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy, to a love letter of sorts to David Pecker, head of American Media -- owner of supermarket tabloids like the National Enquirer -- congratulating him for printing conservative-friendly articles and advising him to "Keep your eye on NewsMax.com and Accuracy in Media."
Hey, that's what ConWebWatch is for!
Meanwhile, it sounds like Chris Sutton, who complains that the USA Today article "reeks of bias" but somehow couldn't pick up the overpowering stench of bias wafting from NewsMax, has a promising career awaiting him at the Media Research Center after his AIM internship ends.