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Friday, December 17, 2010
MRC Tries, Fails to Conflate Non-Equivalent Remarks
Topic: Media Research Center

A report that an unidentified Democratic member of Congress saying "f--- the president" has the Media Research Center all a-titter and determined to make false comparisons that even they admit are stretching things.

A Dec. 10 NewsBusters post by MRC researcher Scott Whitlock complained that "morning shows all ignored the report" while "many journalists professed outrage when Congressman Joe Wilson yelled 'You lie' at President Obama in 2009." Of course, the difference is that the Democrat made his remark during a closed-door meeting in which President Obama was not present and, by Whitlock's own admission, "mutter[ed]" it, while Wilson yelled his insult directly at the president during the middle of the State of the Union address.

Whitlock does concede the point, sort of: "Obviously there's a difference between an unidentified representative and a nationally televised embarrassing moment, but what if this mystery representative had been a Republican?"

Clay Waters tries to make the same baseless conflation in a Dec. 14 MRC TimesWatch item, complaining that New York Times reporter Carl Hulse wrote only that "Vulgar words were aimed at President Obama" while Hulse "dropped his previous concern for political decorum regarding attacks by congressmen on President Obama. He took offense when Republican Rep. Joe Miller shouted 'You lie!' during the State of the Union on September 9, 2009, after Obama had made a dubious claim about the status of health coverage for illegals under his health care proposal."

Like Whitlock, Waters concedes the comparison is mostly baseless: 

One could argue that the “You lie!” and “F** the President” incidents aren’t perfectly parallel -- a live presidential address to Congress compared with an unrecorded vulgarity in a less formal setting. Yet a similar exchange between then Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy received wide coverage in the Times and elsewhere.

Waters doesn't mention that the "less formal setting" Cheney chose to insult Leahy was the floor of the Senate.

MRC chief Brent Bozell tried to peddle the false conflation on the Dec. 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity, "All of those networks who went after Joe Wilson for saying simply, 'You lie,' not one of them has reported it, Sean." Neither Bozell nor Sean Hannity noted the difference between a private meeting at which the target was not present and the middle of a nationally televised State of the Union Address -- or that Bozell's own employees ultimately dismissed the idea of a direct comparison.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 PM EST

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