'Serious Journalism' Redefined
Who's more full of nonsense: the group that organized the antiwar protests, or CNSNews.com?
By Terry Krepel
Given the undeniable bias that permeates the ConWeb, you'd think those folks would know better than to complain about the alleged biases of other media organizations. You'd be wrong, of course.
Scott Hogenson, executive editor of CNSNews.com, does that very thing in a Jan. 14 commentary. He was set off by a confrontation of sorts with someone at International ANSWER -- the group that organized the recent antiwar demonstrations across the country -- who called CNS' coverage of the demonstrations "not serious journalism," particularly its emphasis on the remarks of former attorney general Ramsey Clark suggesting that Jesus could be called a terrorist. Hogenson extrapolates this into a larger commentary of how Clark's remarks were mostly ignored by the "big-name media" and comparing them to Trent Lott's remarks about Strom Thurmond:
The question for us to ask is how so many news organizations could jump on the racially questionable comments of Lott while ignoring the no less questionable comments of Clark.
Apparently the fact that Lott was Senate majority leader and Clark is a long-retired government official who hasn't played much of a role in public life for a good couple decades and a history of way-out-of-the-mainstream views -- he is also a legal adviser for Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosevic in his war-crimes tribunal -- has nothing to do with it.
Citing wide condemnation of Jerry Falwell's anti-Islam comments as another example of alleged anti-Christian bias in the media, Hogenson laments that "Perhaps it's less a question of covering the bashing as it is covering the basher. Falwell is an easy target among many in the liberal media, while Clark is something of an icon among leftists, so this may be the real driving force in determining which comments to cover and which comments to ignore."
Hogenson concludes: "Regardless of precisely what is driving such editorial decisions, it's clear there's a double standard in play. It's this type of double standard that International A.N.S.W.E.R. apparently defines as 'serious journalism.' We define it as nonsense."
If so, then it's "nonsense" that CNSNews.com takes an active part in. Hogenson also plays the game of "determining which comments to cover and which comments to ignore" in playing to CNS' biases and those of its readers.
A recent example of this is its focus on a remark by a DaimlerChrysler executive who said conservative critics of the Rev. Jesse Jackson has "a myopic view of the world." In the week following the original appearance of the remark, CNS has generated three stories detailing various expressions of outrage, plus a transcript of the interview with the executive and a reprint of a letter to the head of DaimlerChrysler demanding an apology and vaguely threatening a boycott if the company didn't stop supporting Jackson, not to mention elevating the comment to a "slur."
In contrast, the first CNS story on the Lott controversy -- for which Hogenson sounds a little apologetic for even reporting on it in his article -- did not appear until five days after the remark was made, and CNS at times seemed more interested in deflecting attention from it by playing up controversial remarks by another senator, Robert Byrd.
CNS also repeated its slanted behavior in its coverage of the annual abortion demonstrations in Washington. This year's coverage included a story on pro-life homosexuals, which may be the only positive reference to gays you'll ever see on CNS), The "balanced" story about the other side of the issue has a misleading headline claiming that "Planned Parenthood Celebrates 30 Years of Abortion" (who exactly "celebrates" abortion?) and the story itself is tilted toward the pro-life side -- 10 paragraphs given exclusively to pro-lifers vs. seven paragraphs given exclusively to pro-choicers. (But, as ConWebWatch has reported previously, that's the kind of "balance" CNS readers prefer.)
CNS' abortion coverage also included a Jan. 14 statement by a pro-life group called Operation Save America that could best be described as preemptive criticism. The statement decries that "our nation's attention will be diverted from its most egregious national sin, to a small group of people rallying in Buffalo, N.Y., to support James Kopp. ... the self-confessed murderer of abortionist Barnett Slepian." It goes on to denounce Kopp's actions the denounce the media because it allegedly "desires to divert our attention from the true holocaust savaging our nation, and paint every Christian who lives out his faith at an abortion mill as a wild-eyed lunatic, bent on doing violence."
A couple of problems here. First, note again that the statement was issued Jan. 14, a week before the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade ruling. The goal of this group -- and, by extension, CNSNews.com -- is to defuse any linking of Kopp with other anti-abortionists.
Second, this press release is the first-ever mention of James Kopp on CNSNews.com. While that could be considered an improvement over WorldNetDaily and NewsMax, which both ran articles defending Kopp but next to nothing about his murder confession, it's pretty clear by this example that CNS has a policy that seeks to downplay or ignore anything negative about the pro-life movement.
(And then there's that policy that downplays or ignores the full truth about Otto Reich.)
Scott Hogenson would have you believe that CNSNews.com doesn't play the game of "determining which comments to cover and which comments to ignore." But the evidence shows that his own news organization does exactly that -- to quote Hogenson again, it's a double standard and nonsense. And it's certainly not "serious journalism."