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Friday, June 27, 2008
MRC's Tunnel Vision on Iraq War Coverage
Topic: Media Research Center

We've previously noted the Media Research Center's tunnel vision on the subject of Iraq war coverage and its insistence on viewing it only through the prism of "liberal media bias." MRC head Brent Bozell demonstrates it again in a June 25 appearance on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" (which followed the template by never identifying Bozell or the MRC as conservative).

Sean Hannity claimed that "a recent New York Times report stated that the media has been covering the war in Iraq less and less because there isn't any bad news to report. ... The only way I can interpret it is just what I said -- the good news, they're not going to report it, the bad news, they'll report it." Bozell concurred: "Countless studies have been done -- we've done studies on this, showing that as things got worse and worse, you had more and more coverage. But suddenly the surge came around and as the surge took off and was successful, the coverage went down." The only explanation offered by Hannity was that the "liberal, left-wing outlets" are "doing it for political reasons." Bozell quickly changed the subject.

In fact, the New York Times story in question highlights reporters' frustration with not being able to get their stories about the war on the air; a statement buried in the article by one correspondent that a decline in the relative amount of violence “is taking the urgency out” of some of the coverage is what's being plucked out and highlighted by Hannity and Bozell. Co-host Alan Colmes noted another major point from the article to Bozell: "The coverage in Iraq has become a lot more expensive because of security risks. ... That's one aspect of this you didn't mention."

And no one on the show mentioned that the Times quoted a Fox News correspondent saying that she had filed only eight reports in six weeks, adding, "The violence itself is not the story anymore." Indeed, as we've noted, Fox News has devoted less time to Iraq in recent months than its cable news rivals CNN and MSNBC. (We've previously detailed that MRC studies of war coverage have excluded Fox News unless the results can be skewed to make Fox look good.)

If Bozell can't talk about declining Iraq war coverage without admitting it's also declining on his favorite news channel as well -- which would seem to disprove his cherished hypothesis that it's being driven solely by the media's liberal bias -- why take him, and the MRC's model of criticism, seriously at all?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT

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