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Going to Extremes

Writers and commenters at the MRC's NewsBusters blog dehumanize journalists and whitewash terrorist acts. Is this any way for a division of a multimillion-dollar organization to behave?

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/2/2006

The Media Research Center has never liked journalists -- well, journalists who don't toe the conservative line, anyway.

As ConWebWatch has detailed, there are no "conservative" journalists worth noting far as the MRC is concerned, only "liberal" ones. It doesn't want "balance," despite what it repeatedly claims; it wants news to be framed around the views of the right and to unquestioningly repeat conservative talking points.

While the MRC has always waged a war against "liberal" journalists, the war on its front is getting a little hotter -- apparently taking its cues from Ann Coulter, who famously said in a 2002 New York Observer interview: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

After the August 2005 death of ABC anchor Peter Jennings, the MRC's first reaction was not to express sympathy but to point out its "documentation of liberal bias from Peter Jennings" and cite "how a couple of times he acknowledged the media's liberal tilt." After Media Matters made note of it, the MRC quickly added a sympathy note to its front page. (Still, it was a classier move than what David Horowitz did; he wrote: "Lest we forget, however, while he was alive Peter Jennings did considerable damage to the cause of civilization and human deceny [sic] by his sympathy for Jew-hating terrorists and their supporters.")

Such sympathy didn't make the MRC's NewsBusters blog. As ConWebWatch noted, NewsBusters' bloggers (which include outside freelancers as well as MRC employees) applied the "RIP" designation to deceased conservative-friendly journalists but not to Jennings.

Such dismissive attitudes toward journalists appear to be rubbing off on NewsBusters' readers, even as MRC employees themselves appear to be reining in their rhetoric. A Jan. 29 post by Tim Graham stated that it "would be a good day for prayers" for ABC anchor Bob Woodruff, who along with producer Doug Vogt was injured in a bombing in Iraq. But a NewsBusters commenter, "blogonator," wasn't feeling so charitable. Among his comments on Graham's post:

I must be the only one here with the guts to say what we're all thinking which is that this is one less liberal journalist spreading bs propaganda. Remember, this is war - both here in the us and abroad. Woodruf went to Iraq to present our enemies as victims and be sympathetic - that makes him a facilitator of terror if not an enemy. Now his role has been nutralized ironically by the very people he was aiding. Sure I feel sorry for his family, but now they will see the truth and will see that terror is real and join the fight against it. This is not a sad day.


Human decency? These journalists trivialize the war on terror and the protection of american lives and you CRITICIZE ME? You think this guy was over there to report how well we are doing in Iraq? You really are naive... or worse, a fence sitter. In war, people die - Good guys, bad guys and innocents. This guy was hardly good or innocent. He's an american just like John Walker Lind is. Just because our constitution here keeps us from nailing him, doesn't mean he isn't the enemy. I don't want to see him die. But I think I speak for all us who take terrorism seriously at NB that I hope this guy is incompacitated enough that he won't be returning to "the field of battle"


You accuse me of taking pleasure in their injuries. I don't. All humans come into the world equally. It is tragic that some become lost and seek to destroy that which provided them a safe homeland. Woodruff was a sympathetic character until he fell over the fence. Iraq was his last chance. He could see for himself the justness of our actions and could have walked away from his job as a journalist. He didn't. Sad, yes. Tragic, yes. Did he deserve it, yes. ... I can tell you Woodruff isn't going to return to TV. He likely will have impaired speech and movement, not to mention facial damage. But he's stable and will survive. So we both get our cake and eat it too. One less journalist, 0 fatalities. You probably will not see it that way. Anything short of a full recovery and a return to the lib media will be called an outrage by you.


As I said, this isn't personal. Woodruf obviously made bad decisions. It is these decisions that have led to his family's suffering. Al queda have families too. When will kill them, we are freeing their families and preventing them from following in their foot steps. Same goes for Woodruff. They probably won't become journalists after this for sure.


Forgive me if I'm offended by one who sympathizes the injury of an enemy journalist propagandist - even uses his military background to lend weight to his sympathy. RJ then ellaborated how he felt sorry for Woodruff's family. Fine, but realize they will be more than well compensated for his war effort by the enemy, ABC News.

As of this writing, "blogonator's" comments are still posted on the thread. No evidence that any MRC employee is offended by these comments has surfaced.

This was followed by a Jan. 30 post by Mithridate Ombud (Correction: Bruce Rheinstein says he is not Ombud, as we previously claimed):

I have to wonder why this video [that Woodruff and Vogt were shooting at the time of the bombing] hasn't aired yet. If it were anyone else it would be exploited with a constant loop. No doubt someone at ABC is rethinking the concept of privacy, unfortunately that concept of privacy will never be extended to any of us. While the impious media will probably plea for Woodruff and Vogt tonight, those of us with a soul will say a prayer for them.

So, according to the folks who hang out at NewsBusters, journalists are soulless traitors. Is this really the kind of extreme image the MRC wants its blog to project?

Apparently so, since Ombud is not the only extremist who is a regular contributor. Also in NewsBusters' stable of writers is Cinnamon Stillwell, who somehow manages to have both a column on the San Francisco Chronicle's website and an editing gig at the Chronicle's loudest critic, ChronWatch.

In a December article published at ChronWatch (as well as The Conservative Voice and the California Jewish publication J.) Stillwell ran to the defense of Earl Krugel, a member of the Meir Kahane-founded Jewish Defense League, who was killed in prison while serving a sentence for plotting to bomb a California mosque and a field office of Republican congressman Darrell Issa, who is Lebanese-American.

Why is Stillwell supporting a convicted terrorist? She believes that Jews "must stand up for other Jews," whatever their behavior. Along the way, she followed the path of WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein in downplaying Krugel's terrorism along with that of Kahane and the Jewish Defense League.

Stillwell suggested that "perhaps the JDL’s reputation as hardcore extremists is off the mark" because "neither [bombing co-conspirator Irv] Rubin nor Krugel had ever been convicted of any violent crimes," adding that "it appears the JDL’s real crime has always been standing up unequivocally for the Jewish people." Not exactly: JDL members have been implicated in numerous acts of violence, including beatings, bombings, vandalism and murder.

Stillwell also claimed: "JDL founder Rabbi Meir Kahane’s biggest offense was calling for the forcible removal of all Arabs from Israel and the disputed territories." Again, not exactly: As a JDL founder, Kahane is linked to that group's history of violence. His followers have been inspired to commit other violent acts, such as Baruch Goldstein's massacre of 30 Arabs at Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs.

It might be acceptable if people like Stillwell and Ombud were on the self-funded fringes of blogdom aspiring to a mention on Free Republic. But NewsBusters is hardly "fringe"; it is funded by the MRC, an organization with a multimillion-dollar budget. The MRC has presumably recruited Stillwell and Ombud to post and perhaps pay them as well; there's no indication that any of the MRC money that fuels NewsBusters goes toward paying anyone to monitor comments -- you know, someone who might find "blogonator's" anti-journalist comments offensive, if not threatening, and perhaps remove them as a violation of community standards.

Surely NewsBusters has some standards; after all, MRC leader Brent Bozell regularly rails against "disgusting" violence in entertainment. Maybe the thought of journalists dying violently doesn't "disgust" Bozell.

But alas, Stillwell and Ombud still post, and "blogonator" is still enshrined. How does any of this advance NewsBusters' proclaimed mission of "insightful analysis, constructive criticism and timely corrections to news media reporting"? Beats us.

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