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Saturday, July 29, 2006
The Disconnect, Junior Division
Topic: NewsBusters

The folks at NewsBusters appears to be following in the footsteps of their Media Research Center bosses in developing a psychological disconnect, as its treatment of two certain personalities shows.

Matthew Sheffield starts things off with a July 28 harangue of Keith Olbermann, asking in the headline, "Why is This Man on Television?" Sheffield goes on to bash Olbermann as a "overweening, paranoid leftist" and "a bit of a narcissist" engaging in "bizarre antics, strange demeanor, journalistic ineptitude, and ridiculous pomposity" and making outrageous statements, and questioning the "mental acuity of the folks at MSNBC" for giving him a show. Sheffield further attacks Olbermann for getting facts wrong, which he said highlights the fact that he "most definitely is not ... a qualified journalist."

Now, these are all criticisms (changing "leftist" to "rightist," of course) that can be credibly leveled at Ann Coulter. In fact, change the political polarity and "Olbermann" to "Coulter," and you can post Sheffield's screed at Daily Kos. Yet the boys at NewsBusters continually run to her defense and engage in heroine-worship.

A post later on July 28 by Noel Sheppard illustrates this perfectly. In it, Sheppard complains that in a outdoor segment of "Hardball" during which Coulter made an appearance, MSNBC "decided to film the segment with an audience conveniently stocked with Ann Coulter haters," purportedly believing that "the challenger in the left corner, host Chris Matthews, was going to be outmatched by the challenger in the right corner." In addition to invoking the conservative shibboleth that Matthews is an unrepentant liberal, Sheppard offers no evidence to support his claim that MSNBC deliberately stacked the audience, nor for his later claim that the "people standing behind Coulter [were] strategically placed to always be shaking their heads in disgust on virtually every one of her words." During this appearance, Coulter called Al Gore a "total fag" and got her facts wrong on a South Dakota abortion ban -- which Sheppard failed to highlight.

Coulter and Olbermann engage in arguably similar tactics and traffic in the same kind of rhetorical excesses. So why is Olbermann excoriated while Coulter is given a free pass? Because, as we've noted, the MRC is a conservative advocacy group, not a "research" organization.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:49 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, July 29, 2006 11:39 AM EDT

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