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Sunday, November 18, 2012
MRC Writers Still Pushing Tired 'Liberal Media' Argument
Topic: Media Research Center

Matthew Sheffield and Noel Sheppard -- executive editor and associate editor, respectively, for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog -- have taken to the far-right American Spectator to push the MRC party line on "liberal media bias." But it's just the same old stuff they've been spouting for years, with more whining and fearmongering.

Sheffield (who has yet to apologize for denigrating election polling that turned out to be correct about the level of Democratic turnout) and Sheppard (who has been fighting a losing battle against facts the entire election cycle) try to make their longtime bogeyman bigger and scarier than ever: "The 2012 cycle demonstrated that left-wing journalists have far more sway on Americans' opinions than many conservatives have been willing to admit." And those media liberals are everywhere:

Even though the influence and popularity of the mainstream media have fallen in its traditional venues of print and broadcast television, the left-wing media establishment is also in control of the rapidly growing Internet news market and the cable television market. Fox News and MSNBC aside, the cable market is entirely controlled by the left: CNN, HLN, Current, CNBC (news side), Comedy Central, and all the highest-rated entertainment channels that venture occasionally into politics lean leftward.
To some readers it may come as a shock to learn that the left owns and operates all of the most significant news sites such as Yahoo, MSN, Google News, and Wikipedia. The news side of the web is also dominated by the online presence of big-time traditional players such as CNN, the New York Times, ABC, and Politico.
The left dominates the social media scene as well. While it is true that some on the right have been able to use Facebook and Twitter effectively to push messages and spur activism, the ownership and top management of both companies lean hard to the left.

By contrast, the authors write, the "audience reach" of conservative media "is still tiny compared to the hundreds of millions who consume news generated by the liberal mainstream media."

Despite this, they write, "exposing liberal media bias and finding ways of reaching people who are not interested in the conservative 'alternative media' structure have become even more critical to our political system." But wasn't the the intent of the MRC's $5 million "Tell the Truth!" campaign this year, which seemed much more interested in making sure the truth wasn't told about Republican candidates? Sheffield and Sheppard make no mention of this campaign, let alone its effect -- though the article's lamenting tone tacitly admits the campaign was a failure. (Perhaps if the MRC hadn't squandered money on flashy promotions like a Times Square billboard, it might have had an impact.)

Sheffield and Sheppard went on to rehash the usual circa-2008 right-wing whining over Obama -- he wasn't vetted because it didn't "properly expose" his relationship to Jeremiah Wright (wrong), that the media ignored the role of the Community Reinvestment Act in the financial collapse (that's because it played no significant role).

The authors are also angry at how the Obama campaign out-strategized the Republicans:

In January, the White House released a new edict concerning companies -- including religious organizations -- being required to provide free contraceptives to their employees even if it violated their religious beliefs. Prior to this, there had been absolutely no discussion of birth control from Republican presidential candidates. Yet this set off a firestorm of media attacks on Republicans and their so-called "War on Women."

For the next ten months, the press pounded the previously non-existent issue right up to Election Day when 55 percent of women voted for Obama, likely giving him the extra votes he needed to win.

Even if you consider the contraceptive mandate to be nothing more than a political stunt, doesn't the fact that the contraceptive debate resonated with female voters suggest that "there had been absolutely no discussion of birth control from Republican presidential candidates" meant a missed opportunity on the part of the GOP? Not in Sheffield and Sheppard's world -- it just proves that the media is liberal.

The authors are also eager to hang Hurricane Sandy around Obama's neck despite offering no real evidence to do so:

And how about the way the press handled Hurricane Sandy?

Rather than expose the magnitude of the disaster and the clear failings of FEMA, Obama's media gushed and fawned over his handling of the situation, and were almost orgasmic when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie praised the President's response. Never mind the millions of people in the area that went without power for days on end. Even now, the devastation is immense. Residents in New Jersey and Staten Island are irate as they shiver in the cold while filling out reams of paperwork.

One might say this was Obama's Katrina. 

Like nobody's ever called a given political event "Obama's Katrina"  (Or "Obama's Watergate," "Obama's Waterloo,", etc.) before.

Sheffield and Sheppard continue their excuse-making, insisting that Romney's loss was not a loss for conservativsm:

Because relatively few Americans are actually exposed to conservative ideas, it is fair to say that the 2012 elections were not a mass rejection of conservatism nor were they proof that Americans have somehow moved to the left. This is not a "changing electorate"; in truth, a plurality of Americans have favored Democrats and their policies since the days of FDR. The wins that Republicans managed to achieve since that time were primarily due to appealing candidates and a ground game that was better able to get right-leaning voters out to vote.

Doesn't this also mean that GOP gains in 2010 were not proof that Americans embraced conservatism or otherwise moved rightward? The authors don't address that.

Nor do they address the fact that this theory also means that the millions of dollars the MRC spends every year to fearmonger about "liberal media bias" is essentially wasted. Perhaps that's why this article appeared at AmSpec instead of the MRC.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 AM EST

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