James Hirsen, Right-Wing 'Media Analyst'
Much of the Newsmax columnist's so-called media analysis is defending conservatives and bashing liberals. And that doesn't count his defenses of his buddy Mel Gibson.
By Terry Krepel
Newsmax columnist James Hirsen presents himself as a lawyer with an "M.A. in media psychology," as well as "a New York Times best-selling author, commentator, media analyst, and law professor."
He's also a buddy of Mel Gibson, which you mostly won't hear about. Someone familiar with media psychology and law should know how serious of a conflict of interest that is.
When Gibson made news again in 2010 with the release of hateful, violent phone calls to his ex-girlfriend, Hirsen waited more than two weeks to write about it -- even though he's ostensibly Newsmax's entertainment writer -- and when he finally did, he went into defense mode, highlighting claims that "experts concluded that the audio was edited" and asserting that Gibson’s estranged wife "said he never was abusive to her or acted in a violent way toward their seven children throughout almost 30 years of marriage."
After pointing out that Gibson "has no serious conviction on his record" and that the probable outcome for him would be "probation and counseling," Hirsen disclosed for the first time at Newsmax his relationship with Gibson:
Note: Mel Gibson is a business associate and friend. My sincere hope is that he will receive fair treatment in the media and the courts. I hope, too, that he receives the best available assistance for the personal issues with which he is dealing.
Hirsen did even more defending of Gibson in a Newsmax interview, in which he insisted that the Gibson heard on the tapes "is not the person that I know." Hirsen goes on to predict a comeback because "he has his own studio. He is autonomous, so it’s not going to stop his work." The article did note that Hirsen "considers himself a friend of Gibson."
After that, Hirsen mentioned Gibson sparingly, if at all. In a July 26 column, Hirsen brought him up again, but only in illustrating a dispute over the title of the film "The Butler" by noting that Gibson went through a similar title dispute regarding "The Passion of the Christ." Hirsen, however, made no mention of his longtime relationship with Gibson.
Right-wing defender, not "media analyst"
As his friendship with, and defense of, Gibson illustrates, Hirsen may call himself a "media analyst" but in reality he spends much of his time defending conservatives and bashing liberals -- which is partisanship, not "media analysis" -- and what so-called media analysis he does perform is too skewed to be taken seriously. (That is, however, the kind of "media analysis" that might get Hirsen a job at the Media Research Center.)
After the Newtown massacre, Hirsen rushed to blame video games:
The time has come for industry figures to take the lead in examining the violent content of entertainment product. Empirical data now exists that links violent content in a variety of media forms to overly aggressive behavior in individuals.
Hirsen didn't mention that the study also portrays video game addiction as more of a symptom, rather than a cause, of other issues:
"Addicts were also more likely to have psychological traits associated with avoiding problems and difficulties rather than actively dealing with their problems....According to Victoria University researcher Daniel Loton, the correlation suggests that excessive computer gaming may be a symptom of possibly unrelated mental anxieties as gamers seek to avoid their problems through immersion in gaming. He said the suggestion that excessive gaming may be a "coping mechanism" is reinforced by the finding that excessive gaming didn't appear to be damaging a gamer's success or satisfaction at work or study. "In fact, excessive players showed marginally higher success in their studies, failing fewer subjects and scoring higher grade averages than they had intended,'' said Mr Loton, a PhD candidate at VU's school of education.
Further, the Washington Post compiled data showing there appears to be no direct correlation between video game consumption and gun violence, and that countries with higher video game spending per capita than the U.S. have lower rates of gun-related murders.
Hirsen spent an April 1 column railing against Jim Carrey for making a satirical anti-gun video and -- even worse -- made fun of Charlton Heston. Hirsen actively rooted for Carrey's career to be hurt because of the video:
Interestingly, Carrey’s Funny or Die performance is emblematic of the latter. However, what may be even worse for the actor is what could potentially flow career-wise from the ill-conceived and terribly malicious video.
Hirsen failed to tell his readers what Fox News' "coverage" of the Carrey video consisted of. Much of it was not "fair and balanced" and consisted largely of right-wing opinionators like Greg Gutfeld hurling insults at Carrey for expressing his views. Carrey called that coverage "slander," which Hirsen also fails to mention.
Hirsen slobbered all over Heston in a 2008 eulogy, declaring him "one of the greatest movie stars who ever lived" and lionized his "caring about the country and having the strength of character to actually put thoughts, words, and feelings into motion." Proclaiming Heston "an American archetype," Hirsen concluded: "Go rest high upon the mountain, Chuck."
James Hirsen wrote in his May 6 Newsmax column:
Something intriguing has been happening at the “Tonight Show” with the content of host Jay Leno’s humor. The jokes that are flying are going where no late-night hosts have gone before.
Funny how Hirsen didn't label Leno as "partisan" for his Obama jokes. Instead, he pontificated that "Leno’s humor contains substantive messages that might pose a danger to someone who lacks the clout to buck the Hollywood infrastructure" and declares Leno's humor to be "bold, honest" and deserving of a more appreciative home at Fox.
A week later, Hirsen took the opposite tack, having a meltdown over a "Saturday Night Live" skit lampooning the congressional hearings on Benghazi. The skit's central joke was that nobody was paying attention to the hearings, so Republicans were bringing in TV-hyped convicted murderer Jodi Arias to boost ratings, but Hirsen failed to see the humor:
“Saturday Night Live” sunk to a new low in the content of its most recent opening sketch.
Is Hirsen really saying with a straight face that Republicans have no partisan motive in pursuing alleged Benghazi scandals? If so, he's deluding himself; he offers no evidence to back up his suggestion.
Hirsen devoted his Oct. 21 column to defending Ted Cruz from that mean ol' liberal media:
The latest target of the news and entertainment media’s poison arrows is Sen. Ted Cruz.
Hirsen's response to this? Recite Cruz's resume:
After the overt display of broadcast malpractice, particularly on the part of the mainstream news media, perhaps the professionals involved might consider reporting on some of the factual background of Cruz.
Hirsen's appeal to authority doesn't address any of the media coverage he criticizes. And as the saying goes, intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong.
But Hirsen won't tell you that either -- at least not when the brilliant guy in question is a conservative.