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Sunday, April 10, 2011
MRC's Graham Sneers At The Idea of Actual Media Research
Topic: Media Research Center

Tim Graham is clearly unable to figure out what to do when someone does actual media research -- as opposed to what he and the Media Research Center (where he is director of media analysis) does, which is well, not media research.

So, predictably, Graham turned up his nose at NPR's David Folkenflik, who analyzed six months of guest lists for the "All-Star Panel" on Fox News' "Special Report"  and found that "the same mix typically prevailed: two clear cut conservatives and one other analyst, sometimes a Democrat or a liberal, but usually a journalist from a non-ideological news outlet." Why? Because his findings run counter to the MRC's talking points.

In an April 9 NewsBusters post, Graham scoffed at the idea that the news outlets like Washington Post would be considered "non-ideological": The Post is a 'non-ideological news outlet'? See the arrogance of media liberals on display." Graham, of course, is proudly displaying the arrogance of media conservatives by portraying any outlet that does not uncritically regurgitate right-wing talking points -- which, of course, Fox News does on a regular basis -- as axiomatically "liberal."

At no point, though, does Graham dispute the basic conclusion of Folkenflik's research -- that even if you assume that "Special Report" host Bret Baier is neutral and every reporter from a "non-ideological news outlet" is a liberal, most "Special Report" panels are unbalanced because the other two participants are conservatives. Even Graham, it seems, is not so foolhardy to even try to counter that.

Instead, Graham responds with a rather desperate misdirection claim in another April 9 NewsBusters post: claiming that the weekly political panel on NPR's "All Things Considered" is not truly balanced because liberal E.J. Dionne is up against David Brooks, who he claims is a "surrogate conservative."

Graham writes that "To use NPR's lingo, it's one clear-cut liberal and one 'non-ideological' journalist." Wrong -- Brooks is an opinion columnist, not a reporter. He's also a conservative Graham and the other Heathers at the MRC have repeatedly attacked for his purported lack of total commitment to hard-core conservatism. Indeed, Graham has sneered at Brooks in the past for being a guy who will "blithely sit around with liberals at pricey restaurants like Le Cirque and complain that those hicks from Texas and Alaska aren’t reading enough Niebuhr."

Meanwhile, this is what passes for "media research" at the MRC: an April 7 NewsBusters post by MRC employee Matthew Balan complaining that an NPR report was "slanted towards President Obama and two of his Democratic allies in Congress on Thursday's Morning Edition on the continuing battle over the federal budget, playing seven sound bites from them versus only three from Republican House Speaker John Boehner."

But as Media Matters pointed out, four of those quotes were from President Obama, while two more were from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Democrats control the White House and the Senate, while the Republicans control the House. Offering a mostly balanced representation of the branches of government involved is not bias, even if it means that more Democrats will be quoted.

So you can see why Graham was upset with Folkenflik's work -- he showed what his own MRC employees ought to be doing. 

(Which reminds us -- when is the MRC going to do what NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard requested that somebody do, add up the number of right-wing versus left-leaning guest in a week's worth of NPR programming? Or are Graham and the MRC to do such a simple thing out of fear that it would undercut its NPR talking points?)

Posted by Terry K. at 7:53 PM EDT

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