ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

Terry Jeffrey, Obama-Hater

The editor in chief is using the website he runs to launch specious attacks against the president and his administration.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/27/2011

When Terry Jeffrey joined the Media Research Center-owned as editor in chief in 2007, ConWebWatch detailed how he steered CNS from a conservative-oriented news website that had actually taken stabs at offering balanced content to a stridently right-wing organization that slanted stories and hurled gotcha questions.

That bias became more clear when Barack Obama was elected president, with CNS desperately trying -- and mostly failing -- to conjure controversies involving Obama that fell apart when all the facts were fairly presented:

  • CNS selectively quoted Obama's inauguration speech to claim that he said "We are a nation of ... non-believers," obscuring the full context of Obama's words: "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth." Even conservative Christians CNS interviewed acknowledged Obama was accurate in describing the full breadth of the American citizenry.
  • CNS tried to misleadingly portray the Obama administration as demanding that "the name of Jesus" be covered up during a speech by Obama at Georgetown University, but it never provided evidence that the White House ever made that specific demand.
  • CNS falsely interpreted a statement by an Obama nominee as stating that "groups that were a domestic security threat as being 'anti-abortion' and 'Christian-identity oriented.'" when, in fact, he was referring to the extremist Christian Identity movement.

In the past year, though, CNS has ratcheted up its attacks on the Obama administration, and many of those attacks have come from Jeffrey himself. Jeffrey has made a habit of distorting facts about Obama administration policies and taking personal shots at the president.

In an April 27 CNS article, Jeffrey attempted to spin Obama's release of his long-form birth certificate to fit his right-wing agenda. The article carried the headline "Birth Certificate Shows: Obama’s Teenage Mom Was Not ‘Punished With a Baby,’" an invocation of a previous statement by Obama; Jeffrey took this statement somewhat out of context; Obama was answering a question about sex education and sexually transmitted diseases, and he also said in reference to his daughters, "I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16." Jeffrey continued:

In 1960, when the future President Obama was conceived by a teenager in Hawaii, abortion-on-demand was not legal in that state. A law that had been in place since the 1800s—before Hawaii had become a U.S. territory—was still in force. It was only a decade after Obama’s conception that Hawaii would become the first state in the nation to liberalize its abortion laws.

Jeffrey then cited an anti-abortion TV ad suggesting Obama's mother might have aborted him had abortion been legal because he would have been born into a "broken home" and "abandoned by his father," leaving only a "single mother" who "will struggle to raise him."

Jeffrey concluded: "But now President Obama’s birth certificate is delivering the same message. And it is posted for all of the world to see on Obama's White House website." Well, no -- Jeffrey is simply imposing his far-right anti-abortion agenda.

Jeffrey wrote in a May 5 CNS "news" article:

Uncle Sam’s Latest Line of Credit: $1,888,174,000,000.00 Spent Out of $1,900,000,000,000.00

Of the $1,900,000,000,000.00 increase in federal borrowing authority approved by President Barack Obama and Congress last February, the federal government now has just $11.826 billion left, according to the U.S. Treasury. The other $1,888,174,000,000.00 has been borrowed and spent.

As of the close of business on Wednesday, the federal debt subject to the legal limit equaled $14,282,174,000,000.00. The debt limit--set in a law signed by President Obama on Feb. 12, 2010--is $14,294,000,000,000.00.

The $1,888,174,000,000.00 in new debt the government has accumulated just since Feb. 12, 2010, equals $16,064 for every household in the United States (based on the Census Bureau’s estimate of 117,538,000 households in the country).

There's no journalistic reason to substitute "trillion" for all those zeroes. That's a political judgment Jeffrey made solely to illustrate his right-wing, anti-Obama agenda.

In his Sept. 28 column, Jeffrey declared that President Obama has "established himself as an aspiring tyrant in the model of Henry VIII" by "attempting to use the power of government to compel faithful Catholic men and women to act against their consciences."

How? Jeffrey explains one way Obama is doing so:

Obamacare regulations proposed by the Department of Health and Services on Aug. 1 would require every private health plan in America to cover sterilizations as well as all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including "emergency contraceptives." These include drugs such as ulipristal, which can cause abortions both before and after an embryo implants in a mother's womb.

If this regulation is finalized -- and the Obamacare mandate that every American must buy health insurance is not repealed -- every American Catholic with a conscience formed in keeping with the teachings of his church would be forced to choose between disobeying Obama's law or disobeying his conscience.

In fact, ulipristal (sold under the brand name ellaOne), like the Plan B pill, works by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus. Thus, according to health experts, it does not "cause abortions." As Christianity Today further explains:

For pro-life groups, such medications are morally (if not medically) abortifacients, drugs that cause an abortion. They are not abortifacients legally, however. According to medical definitions:

-- Pregnancy is a condition of the mother, beginning when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall.

-- Contraception lowers the chances of pregnancy; it includes medication that blocks fertilization, but also drugs that prohibit a pregnancy after conception.

-- Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. A drug that works before the embryo attaches to mother is contraception; one that occurs after pregnancy starts is an abortifacient.

Drugs such as ella and Plan B are approved for contraceptive use because they prevent pregnancy. According to the FDA, the drugs are emergency contraceptives that should be taken within five days of "a contraceptive failure or unprotected intercourse." They are not intended as routine contraceptives. Women who suspect that they are pregnant are advised to not take the drug.

What does this have to do with Henry VIII? Jeffrey portrayed this debate over church-state issues as being just like Henry VIII's beheading of Thomas More, who was executed rather than take an oath declaring the king to be the supreme authority over the church in England. Jeffrey overlooked the fact that Obama has not threatened anyone with execution for failing to take an oath to his authority.

Jeffrey took another shot at Obama with a Sept. 29 article by Terry Jeffrey carries the link-bait headline "Obama: 'I Don't Think Ethics' Was My Favorite Subject." The article itself offers a more complete explanation -- namely, that the assertion applied to the eighth-grade version of Obama, not the adult Obama:

“I was not always the very best student that I could be when I was in high school, and certainly not when I was in middle school,” Obama said, speaking at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School.

“I did not love every class I took. I wasn’t always paying attention the way I should have,” Obama said. “I remember when I was in 8th grade I had to take a class called ethics. Now, ethics is about right and wrong, but if you’d ask me what my favorite subject was back in 8th grade, it was basketball. I don’t think ethics would have made it on the list.”

Obama went on to tell the high school students that even though that 8th grade ethics class was not one of his favorites it did have a significant impact on his life—and now inspires the way he acts as president.

“I still remember that ethics class, all these years later,” Obama said. “I remember the way it made me think. I remember being asked questions like: What matters in life? Or, what does it mean to treat other people with dignity and respect? What does it mean to live in a diverse nation, where not everybody looks like you do, or thinks like you do, or comes from the same neighborhood as you do? How do we figure out how to get along?

“Each of these questions led to new questions,” said Obama. “And I didn’t always know the right answers, but those discussions and that process of discovery--those things have lasted. Those things are still with me today. Every day, I’m thinking about those same issues as I try to lead this nation.”

But a headline is how you sell a story, and the Drudge Report quickly pounced on it (top of the right-hand column).

Jeffrey even attacked Obama's grandmother, writing in an Oct. 3 article:

First Lady Michelle Obama said at a fundraiser in Providence, Rhode Island, on Friday night that a bank where Barack Obama’s grandmother had worked discriminated against her for nearly two decades “because she was a woman.”

However, the Washington Post reported earlier this year that Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, had been the first female vice president of the Bank of Hawaii.

Meanwhile, Barack and Michelle Obamas’ 2009 tax return, posted on the White House website, indicates the Obamas inherited almost $500,000 worth of the bank’s stock from the president’s grandmother.
What does one have to do with the other? Jeffrey never explains. After all, the fact that Madelyn Dunham ultimately rose to the bank's management and was eventually paid well does not in any way disprove Michelle Obama's statement that Dunham was discriminated against. Indeed, given that sex discrimination was rampant around the time that Dunham was beginning her banking career, Obama's statement has the ring of truth.

In case Jeffrey's slyly accusatory writing wasn't obvious enough, his overly long headline drove his bogus accusation home: "Michelle: Bank Sex-Discriminated Against Barack’s Grandmom; Tax Returns: Barack Inherited $480,908 in Bank's Stock from Bank's VP (His Grandmom)."

Jeffrey has also been obsessed with mining Gallup poll data to highlight bad news about Obama. Jeffrey wrote these articles in the month of August alone:

Can't Jeffrey use some of that $11 million the MRC has squirreled away to hire an intern to add bias to Gallup press releases instead of having to perform the dirty work himself? Apparently not.

The fact that all of this anti-Obama hostility and hackjobbery carries Jeffrey's name means this is all deliberate, ordered straight from the top. And it means that CNS is a partisan attack machine like its parent organization, not a "news" organization.

Send this page to:

Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-2011 Terry Krepel