Topic: Washington Examiner
A new website has launched, Media Mythbusters -- promoted in a July 19 Washington Examiner column by Lorie Byrd -- with the goal of purporting to "debunk myths that take hold as a result of inaccurate or irresponsible media reports." But the website and the folks behind it are apparently intent on building a few myths of their own.
The first myth involves the partisan nature of the website. Ideologies are kept under wraps and most language is neutral, but site leader Byrd of the Wizbang blog -- as well as the rest of the declared contributors -- are all conservatives, and their target is the media they deride as liberal. Don't look for any myths promulgated by, say, Fox News here. Don't expect a section on Amir Taheri, who used conservative-leaning papers (aided by conservative blogs like NewsBusters) to spread the false claim that the Iranian parliament passed a law that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear colored badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.
Indeed, the list of subjects covered (listed on the blog) -- Rathergate, Stephen Glass, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- reads like a who's who of conservative attacks on the "liberal" media. And even then, there's a lot more myth-making than truth happening. Indeed, many of the entries appear to be copied-and-pasted out of conservative blogs.
For instance, Byrd claimed in her Examiner column that the "Sunni burning six" story -- in which the Associated Press reported that several Iraq Sunnis were burned alive, a story corroborated by an Iraqi police captain named Jamil Hussein -- "was retracted, and that 'Capt. Jamil Hussein' was a pseudonym." But nowhere in Media Mythbusters' Jamil Hussein section does it unequivocally state that the AP retracted the story.
Further, in the Jamil Hussein section is a copy of a blog entry by Michelle Malkin asserting that because parts of four mosques were still standing, they were not "destroyed" as the AP reported; nowhere does the entry note that at least one of those mosques had its dome blown off -- which arguably fits the description of "destroyed."
The site is in a wiki format and presumably subject to change. We have doubts about how much change will actually occur, though, or whether any balance will be brought to the site. While the site's front page states, "Many of the Media Mythbusters contributors are members of the New Media with experience debunking and/or reporting on questionable reporting from major media outlets," it then adds, "Only approved contributors will be allowed to post at the Media Mythbusters site" -- something of a departure from a true wiki, which has fewer restrictions on contributors.
So, in the future, look for Media Mythbusters to become a cudgel to bash the "mainstream" (read: "liberal") media -- and for ConWebWatch never to become an "approved contributor," despite our own history of busting media myths.