Topic: Media Research Center
Alatheia Larsen, a researcher for the Media Research Center's MRC Business division, spent a good long time to work up her outrage at Norman Lear describing herself as a "bleeding heart conservative," and it exploded a full six weeks after Lear made the statement in the form of a 3,500-word Sept. 23 NewsBusters post dedicated to proving once and for all that Lear’s "pet organization," People For the American Way, and its Right Wing Watch division, is liberal -- as if that was ever in doubt.
For all the time Larsen had to work on this, however, you'd think she'd have done a better job of getting her facts straight.
For example, she ranted:
In April 2015, RWW falsely accused Walker of saying that “ultrasounds should be mandatory since they’re ‘a cool thing.’” Media outlets including Politico, Salon, Huffington Post, The Washington Post and Mother Jones picked up the story without first researching to see if RWW was telling the truth.
Walker had not said, what RWW claimed. While discussing ultrasound legislation, Walker had shared an anecdote about how “cool” it was to still have the ultrasound pictures of his now adult sons. RWW brutally twisted his words without acknowledging the distortion.
In fact, that is a fair interpretation of what Walker said, given that in the contenxt of the interview, he was using that anecdote to justify the forced-ultrasound bill he signed into law.
Larsen falsely suggested that Right Wing Watch didn't provide the full context of Walker's words by touting how "The Daily Caller supplied Walker’s actual quote." In fact, that full quote is in the Right Wing Watch item Larsen is attacking.
RWW also attacked HGTV’s Flip it Forward stars David and Jason Benham for being pro-life and defending traditional marriage, both things the group opposes. In April 2014, RWW called the Benham twins “anti-gay, anti-choice extremist[s].”
The media also bought that made-up scandal. The day after RWW first published its hit piece, HGTV canceled the Benham’s show. ABC and CNN then ran multiple reports repeating the accusations leveled at the Benhams.
Larsen makes sure not to repeat the statements attributed to the Benhams that Right Wing Watch uncovered -- like smearing homosexuality is "demonic" and ranting outside abortion clinics that they are the "altars of Moloch" -- all the better to pretend they're really not extremists. Larsen never explains how these views are not "extremist," but instead grumbles that the Benhams were "forced to defend themselves."
Larsen then sent after PFAW:
Lear often brags about his organization’s hand in keeping Bork, a Reagan Supreme Court nominee, from being appointed in 1987. PFAW spread numerous lies about Bork’s record. The charges included labeling him racist and accusing him of supporting poll taxes. The damage was done: Bork withdrew. PFAW’s attacks were so relentless and effective, that “Borking” became an official term for using baseless personal attacks to effectively keep someone out of a public office.
Larsen's source for this claim is an article by conservative columnist Mona Charen who, like Larsen, doesn't back up her claim.
There is a factual basis for much of what was said about Bork. He did, in fact, effectively support a poll tax through his opposition to the overturning of one in 1966; he expressed his opposition to the overturning of one poll tax because he claimed its use was not racially discriminatory and because he believed the Equal Protection Clause did not cover economic discrimination.
And as CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin points out: "It was said, in later years, that Bork was 'borked,' which came to mean treated unfairly in the confirmation process. This is not so. Bork was 'borked' simply by being confronted with his own views—which would have undone many of the great constitutional landmarks in recent American history.
Larsen is simply angry that PFAW is effective at highlighting right-wing extremism, which she reframes as "tearing down America’s conservatives." But her tirade is short on facts and long on highly subjective outrage.