Biting The Hand It Feeds
CNSNews.com pays the Associated Press for the privilege of running AP articles on its website -- while it lambasts the AP as "liberal" and rewrites its headlines to add right-wing bias.
By Terry Krepel
Lots of news websites run content from the Associated Press. The AP offers numerous ways to provide such content, for which the websites must pay.
CNSNews.com is one such website that pays for the privilege to host AP content. On any given day, there are many more AP articles on the CNS website than original CNS content.
But the two are strange bedfellows -- after all, CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, considers the AP to be part of the so-called "liberal media." For instance, in a 2003 column headlined "Associated (With Liberals) Press," MRC chief Brent Bozell was upset that "the socially liberal Associated Press" was the "biggest promoter" of criticism of conservative then-Sen. Rick Santorum for making "hurtful comments on homosexuality." Santorum survived the criticism, according to Bozell, because "no one outside AP and the radical left wanted to see Santorum get sacked." Bozell further complained that "AP made an obscure murder victim in Laramie, Wyoming a household name, turning the brutal killing of homosexual Matthew Shepard into grist for a countless series of editorials, books, plays, and TV 'docudramas.'"
In 2005, the MRC issued a press release attacking the AP for issuing an article it claimed branded then-Supreme Court nominee "a possible racist because he grew up in a town that banned the sale of homes to blacks and Jews." Bozell is quoted as saying, "The AP’s sleazy and insipid bias is obvious. What will they do next? Report that one of his neighbors used a racial epithet when Roberts was 5 years old?"
With such hostility to the AP, why would the MRC pay the AP for the privilege of putting its content on a MRC-operated website?
The answer, it can be argued, is that the MRC decided to set its right-wing principles aside. Biased or not, the AP has long been the pre-eminent provider of news content in the U.S., offering not only national news but regional-based content keyed to the needs of local news organizations. Providing AP content is one quick way to make a news organization appear credible.
As a bonus, the AP content allows CNS to obscure the fact that its original content is highly biased, and placing it amid AP content makes the CNS articles seem slightly less biased.
In short, it appears to be a cynical move to enhance the credibility of CNS as a "news" organization.
The fact that the MRC is paying the AP, interestingly, doesn't mean it treats the AP and its content with any sort of respect.
A Sept. 19 CNS article by Susan Jones on President Obama's deficit reduction plan contained this line: "As for Obama’s call to put 'country above party,' even liberal media outlets don’t see it that way." And what is the only "liberal media outlet" that Jones cites in her article? The Associated Press. At no point does Jones offer any evidence that the AP is "liberal."
Then, Jones hilariously included this footnote at the end: "The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report."
CNS is paying AP for the privilege of insulting it -- something it could easily do for free. Talk about ingratitude. If the AP is so "liberal," why is paying to run the AP's news on its website?
CNS also regularly pokes the AP in the eye by regularly rewriting the headlines of AP articles to infuse the right-wing bias CNS is known for (and the AP is not):
While AP subscribers are permitted to change headlines, such changes are usually dictated to making it fit in a particular layout, such as on a newspaper page. Web design, however, typically does not necessitate rewriting a headline to conform to a layout. There is no apparent reason for CNS to rewrite those headlines other than to make it conform to its right-wing bias.
While all of this rewriting is going on, the sign-up box for CNS' email newsletter on the CNS website contains this exhortation: "Be the first to know all of the news that the liberal media are hiding." It's laughable for CNS to make that claim when much of the news on the CNS website is directly from that very same "liberal media" it purports to despise -- content CNS is paying the AP to run on its website.
Either CNS and the MRC have no scruples and is simply paying for AP copy to create a veneer of credibility it wouldn't have otherwise, or it's simply too cynical to care about the logical inconsistency of publicly bashing a news organization it pays to obtain the content it's bashing.