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Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Tim Graham vs. Media Matters
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 3 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham starts off by bashing a post by Brendan Nyhan at the American Prospect's Horse's Mouth blog about liberal media watchdogs, but he ultimately ends up taking a dishonest shot at Media Matters (full disclosure: my employer).

Graham makes the following claim:

MRC is not in the business of objecting to a liberal getting to speak on a newscast. We do not think that when a liberal gets to open their mouth on air, liberal bias has been committed. Often, we are pointing out that the liberal attitude isn't coming from a liberal think tank spokesman or a Democratic politician -- it's coming from an "objective" journalist like Katie Couric.


MRC is asking the news media to balance liberal viewpoints with conservative viewpoints. We don't generally say liberals should be removed from the air. This line is especially odd from Fritz or Nyhan, considering anyone who pays attention to Media Matters knows it's an aggressive promoter of taking conservatives off the air. 

This was followed later by:

Once again, anyone who visits Media Matters will see that its focus isn't always on "misinformation." It's often, alert Ben Fritz, mere offense at conservative speech. Take these examples from their short list of recent items:

Robertson: "Osama bin Laden may be one of the true disciples of the teaching of the Quran ... because he's following through literally word-for-word what it says"

Hannity: "[M]aking sure Nancy Pelosi doesn't become the [House] speaker" is "worth ... dying for"

Coulter on Sen. Chafee: "They Shot the Wrong Lincoln"

Even this one: On Fox, boxing promoter Don King defended Bush on Katrina, claimed African-Americans supported Kerry in 2004 "because they didn't know any better"

In short, what Graham is claiming is that the MRC never criticizes liberals for saying liberal things, whereas Media Matters regularly criticizes conservatives for saying conservative things. Graham is, in a word, wrong.

A quick tour through NewsBusters shows how wrong he is. There, one will find numerous instances of writers taking mere offense at liberal speech -- or merely for not being conservative. In the past few days alone, targets have included Bill Maher (here and here), Keith Olbermann (a favorite target: "It is quite safe to say that most conservatives recommend the first change be the immediate cancellation of 'Countdown,' and the termination of its host"), Jane Smiley, Neal Gabler (another favorite target) and Al Gore.

Further, NewsBusters was the place where Dan Riehl posted his false accusations against S.R. Sidarth -- for which Riehl has yet to apologize there.

(Yes, we know what Graham is going to say: NewsBusters is just a blog, it's not official MRC research, most of its writers aren't MRC employees. But it's done under the MRC name and operated by MRC employees, which indicates at least tacit MRC approval of what's written there. It might want to keep that in mind, especially given the potentially libelous implications of Riehl's posts on Sidarth.)

Further, Graham seems to miss the point of the Media Matters items he cites as taking "mere offense at conservative speech." Take, for instance, this item on Graham's list, "Coulter on Sen. Chafee: 'They Shot the Wrong Lincoln.' " Is Graham saying that threatening the life of a political opponent -- a fellow Republican to Graham and Coulter, mind you -- is acceptable "conservative speech"? Because we sure don't see him being all that offended by it (or any of Coulter's other death threats, as far as we know). It seems to me that this is the kind of speech that anyone, liberal or conservative, should be offended by. Graham apparently thinks differently.

Graham also offers up this description of Media Matters vs. Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR): "MMFA is the liberal Democrat establishment, while FAIR is ultra-left." Does this mean that the MRC is the conservative Republican establishment, while Accuracy in Media is "ultra-right"? (Though AIM, unlike the MRC, has denounced Coulter's extreme rhetoric.)

Essentially, Graham is accusing Media Matters of doing the same thing his own employer does. Hardly a winning argument.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:02 AM EDT

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