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
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."
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.
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.
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.