A Sept. 5 NewsReal post by Paul Cooper falsely portrays a segment on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" as on in which "guest host Ana Marie Cox called for censorship of blogs like NewsRealblog.com and WorldNetDaily (which is her focus)" and that "Cox and [guest Sam] Tanenhaus both are ready to call all moderate Republicans to silence and 'reign in' [sic] conservative blogs."
But WND is more than the "focus" of the segment -- it's the only outlet mentioned. Not only is NewsReal not mentioned, despite Cooper's suggestion otherwise, no other "conservative blog" is either. And Cox didn't "call for censorship"; as Cooper goes on to write, she urged mainstream conservatives to denounce such fringe publications as WND and not mainstream their conspiracy theories.
Cooper then writes:
The focus of the interview is suggesting that conservative blogs are promoting “conspiracy theories” like the Obama birthers. Cox and Tanenhaus draw a comparison to the 1960s when William F. Buckley Jr. effectively wrote the John Birch Society out of the conservative movement by denouncing them as crank conspiracists. Cox and Tanenhaus claim that there’s no one in the Conservative Movement doing this today. This is a complete lie. “Mainstream,” “moderate” conservatives have denounced the Birther Conspiracy. David Horowitz, NewsReal, Mike Huckabee, and Ann Coulter have all dismissed the notion that President Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen.
But the birther issue is not the only conspiracy theory Cox cited. She also noted WND's role in promoting the "deather" issue -- the discredited idea that health care reformcontains "death panels" -- and that "it's currently warning that the White House is spying on your Facebook page." Cooper doesn't mention these -- perhaps because his fellow NewsReal writers, far from dismissing it, have endorsed the "death panel" attack.
Further, Cooper's claim that "'Mainstream,' 'moderate' conservatives have denounced the Birther Conspiracy" belies the fact that such denunciation has not been consistent. As Cooper Cox and Tanenhaus note:
TANENHAUS: Now what we see are supposed intellectuals on the right who are really mouthpieces of the party and don't differ with it in any way. So they give you not denunciations of these sorts of conspiracy theories but highbrow versions of them. In other words, they agree.
COX: Like in the National Review recently, actually, about this birther thing, they sort of very -- I think very proudly pat themselves on the back about running this editorial saying that they didn't buy into the birther movement. But then --
TANENHAUS: They pulled out some evidence.
COX: That's right.
TANENHAUS: Well, you know, the great historian --
COX: They pulled -- they had someone write a piece that said, "Well, I don't believe in the birther movement, but it raises some interesting questions."
Indeed, while NewsReal sister publication FrontPageMag did denounce the birthers back in April, it has not done so in any significant way since then -- and we don't see Cooper exactly rushing to do any substantive denunciation now.