Topic: Media Research Center
It's one of the most basic logical fallacies: correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Still, the Media Research Center wants you to believe otherwise.
In an Oct. 13 NewsBusters post, MRC analyst Matthew Balan huffed that an Associated Press reporter quoted the "cultural leftist activist" Human Rights Campaign praising what it called a "seismic shift" in the Catholic Church's attitude toward gays during a meeting at the Vatican last week. No, really -- Balan really did complain that the AP "directly lifted the 'seismic shift' term from a press release of the Human Rights Campaign."
Apparently, anyone the MRC deems to be "cultural leftist activists" are not permitted to comment about the Catholic Church.
Balan was so angry about this, in fact, that he ranted the next day that other media outlets were taking their language directly from the HRC:
On Tuesday, the Big Three networks' morning newscasts carried water for the left-wing Human Rights Campaign by adopting their "seismic shift" label about the midterm report from the Catholic bishops' Extraordinary Synod on the Family. On Good Morning America, ABC's Amy Robach trumpeted that "the Catholic Church appears to be making a seismic shift towards gays and divorcees." Norah O'Donnell also used the "seismic" term on CBS This Morning.
NBC's Tamron Hall pointed out on Today that "gay rights groups are hailing what they call a 'seismic shift' by the Catholic Church towards gays," but like her counterparts on ABC and CBS, she didn't disclose that the phrase directly came from the homosexual organization's Monday press release on the synod document [MP3 audio available here; video below].
O'Donnell used the "seismic" label in a teaser for fill-in anchor Jane Pauley's news brief on the Vatican report: "It's being called a seismic move by the Vatican – how the Catholic Church could change its attitude toward gays and the issue of divorce." Pauley herself didn't use the term during the summary:
During her news brief on Good Morning America, Robach further underlined the Human Rights Campaign's "seismic shift" language by touting the supposed "major shift" in the Church document:
The previous evening, anchor Brian Williams echoed the Human Rights Campaign's spin on NBC Nightly News, but didn't directly use the "seismic" descriptor:
And here's where we run into the correlation-equals-causation fallacy. At no point does Balan prove that the networks were taking their language directly from the HRC. "Seismic shift" is arguably a cliche, and the interim report being cited could certainly be described as that, even if the meeting's final results ended up being much less so.
Again, Matthew: Correlation does not necessarily equal causation. It's basic logic.