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Overt Operations

The boss is back from his stint at the RNC, so CNSNews.com cranks up the slant.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/9/2005

What happens when ConWebWatch notes that CNSNews.com was being more covert about implementing its bias? It decides to become more overt about it.

Maybe it was once-and-current executive editor Scott Hogenson's spending much of 2004 working for the Republican National Committee -- an interesting job to have given the disdain his compadres down the hall at the Media Research Center have had for news executive Rick Kaplan's (formerly of CNN and ABC, currently at MSNBC) ties to Democrats. You'd think that after (to cite just one example) the MRC's Brent Baker complained in August 2000 that "Kaplan has a history of liberal activism and Clinton friendship which have impacted his news judgment," the MRC would be more bothered that the head of its very own "news" organization has the kind of close ties to a political party that could impact his news judgment.

But it appears that the MRC, as evidenced by the return of Hogenson, wants its news product to be tainted with political bias. And it appears to be working out beautifully because that's exactly what Hogenson seems to be supplying.

CNS was conspicuously absent from the debate over Alberto Gonzales' nomination as attorney general and his connection as White House counsel to memos that appear to advocate ways to get around the Geneva Conventions regarding the use of torture on detainees. The last mention of the issue in relation to Gonzales was on Jan. 6, in a mix of balanced and biased stories. A mostly balanced overview of the issue is accompanied by an article devoted to Gonzales' testimony denying that he approves of torture and the text of Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn's praise-laden introduction of Gonzales at the confirmation hearing, in which he insisted that "Judge Gonzales is being attacked for a memo he didn't write." (CNS did run a Jan. 5 story devoted to the concerns of a "liberal group" about Gonzales and the torture memos.)

Having done their duty by mentioning it, the torture issue never came up again before the Senate's vote on Gonzales' nomination. Two CNS stories, on Feb. 1 and 2 respectively, are dedicated to complaints -- by a Latino coalition and Republican officials, respectively -- that Democrats were obstructing Gonzales' nomination process. Neither of them mentioned the issue of the torture memos; the story on the Republicans paraphrases Cornyn as saying that "Gonzales' opponents will excoriate and abuse him for the sake of partisan politics." CNS, of course, is using biased stories to excoriate Democrats, also for the sake of partisan politics.

CNS' longstanding bias-in-labeling problem also continues. A Feb. 2 story describes the Oliver North-created group Freedom Alliance not as a conservative group, as one would expect given North's association and CNS' eagerness to label "liberal" groups as such, but merely notes that the group "describes its mission as promoting freedom, defending U.S. sovereignty, and maintaining a strong national defense."

Similarly, while another Feb. 2 story, about CBS News, describes its MRC parent as a group that "monitors liberal bias in the mainstream media," the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is described as a "liberal media watchdog." To be fair, MRC should have been described as "conservative," or FAIR should have been described as a group that "monitors conservative bias in the mainstream media."

CNS has also returned to its old ways in slanting stories on abortion. In a very long Feb. 7 story by Randy Hall about the idea that abortion is a "black genocide," the first time someone is quoted challenging the idea is in paragraph 32 of the 59-paragraph story. Additionally, the challeger's contentions are always rebutted, while many of the allegations made supporters of the idea stand without challenge.

And just because the presidential election is over doesn't mean it's too late to lie about John Kerry, as CNSNews.com has already demonstrated once this year.

This time, it's not frequent Kerry liar WorldNetDaily spreading the falsehoods but Frank Salvato in a Feb. 4 CNS commentary. "John Kerry was a main player in the contrived Winter Soldier Investigations," Salvato writes, adding that Kerry "lied in his testimony before Congress."

As ConWebWatch has already detailed, Kerry's claim was absolutely truthful. Those veterans did admit to those actions during the 1971 Winter Soldier investigation that Kerry later relayed during his Senate testimony; in fact, nobody has offered any documented debunking of Winter Soldier despite the ConWeb's oft-repeated claims that it has been "discredited."

(Salvato is described as "a political media consultant and managing editor for TheRant.us." He does live up to the name, doesn't he?)

All in all, what we've come to expect from CNS. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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