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Friday, September 22, 2017
Hillary Derangement Syndrome, MRC Media Coverage Edition
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center remains in the throes of Hillary Derangement Syndrome. There's no better illustration of that than its predictable freakout any time someone suggests that media was unfair to her during the 2016 presidential election.

An Aug. 30 column by the MRC's Tim Graham and Brent Bozell lashes out at a Harvard University study pointing out that media coverage of Clinton "was focused on scandals, while [Donald] Trump's coverage focused on his core issues." They ranted: "No one could plausibly argue that the media was nicer to Trump than they were to Hillary Clinton, or that they treated his policy proposals with more respect. They dubbed Trump's comments on immigration and Islam as horribly scandalous, while they dismissed Clinton's scandals like the private email server as a 'stupid issue' (as John Dickerson of CBS said)."

But Graham and Bozell were really incensed that the Harvard study's examination of media was much broader than the MRC's usual exceedingly (and strategically) narrow narrow definition of a half-hour of evening news on three channels:

When most people hear the term "the press," they think of the traditional press, the so-called objective media outlets. But this Harvard study defined the press as including a bunch of "hyperpartisan" sites, from Breitbart on the right to the Daily Kos on the left. It evaluated social media, studying the most shared stories of the campaign. That might be interesting, but it's not a study of press coverage as most people understand it.

Just because the study's definition of media doesn't conform to the one the MRC constructed for maximum ideological explitation doesn't mean it's invalild. In fact, it's much more accurate. Let's not pretend that a significant number of Americans don't get a significant amount of their political news from "hyperpartisan" operations.

Bozell and Graham then returned to rant mode to attack the study's methodology:

But here's where we scream "Buyer beware" on these studies of campaign bias. Did the Harvard researchers actually read the contents of each story? No. They offered "content analysis using automated tools."

They had Media Cloud software scan sentences ... because their sample was literally millions of stories. This is as nebulous as counting the number of Google mentions of a topic to say whether it was overcovered or undercovered. At least another Harvard outfit, the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, issues studies "conducted by trained full-time employees who visually evaluate the content."

As if this is somehow less rigorous than the MRC's so-called "methodology" of assigning entirely subjective "negative" or "positive" values to news coverage that deliberately fails to consider the factual accuracy of said coverage.It doesn't matter if the contents were read if that reader is so biased (remember, the ability to push a right-wing agenda is a prerequisite for employment at the MRC) that no reasonable person would consider his or her judgments to be objective.

Graham and Bozell concluded by huffing: "Clinton can't blame the liberal media for her defeat."

When Clinton embarked on a media to promote her campaign memoir, "What Happened," in which she blamed her loss in part on the media, the MRC went into freakout mode again, this time in a Sept. 15 post by Rich Noyes with the shouty headline "FACT: The News Media Did NOT Tip the Election to Trump." but all Noyes does is serve up it previous narrowly tailored studies that focus only on that half-hour of evening news on three channels.

For the first time, though -- perhaps annoyed by us pointing out just how strategically narrowly tailored its focus is -- Noyes  offers a justification for focusing only on that tiny sliver of time: reviewing only CBS, ABC and NBC is "the best proxy for a manageable examination of all campaign news from important national sources."

Well, no. Cable news channels are not important sources of news? Political websites aren't? 

The MRC has a multimillion-dollar budget, funded in no small part by Mercer money, and can easily afford to do more comprehensive research. But that would involve having to examine Fox News, whose bias the MRC simply refuses to acknowledge because it's the same bias the MRC wants all media to have.

Noyes' "facts" are preconceived, and the MRC sculpts its so-called evidence to reinforce those preconceived notions -- hence the focus only on network evening news shows to the exclusion of everything else.

Nevertheless, Noyes offers up his own final-paragraph huffing: "Hillary Clinton was not the media darling that Barack Obama was in 2008, but no reasonable person could suggest that political reporters created a landscape more favorable to Donald Trump than to her. And it’s just silly of her to say the news media, which detests Trump, was one of the causes of her defeat." And Noyes detests Clinton enough to insist this is true.

Hillary's book tour brought Graham and Bozell back out to rehash its column from a month earlier, insisting that the Harvard study it bashed last time around was "embarrassingly terrible" because it "included blogs and tweets and was judged by a computer, not actual humans." they went on to cite the MRC's own study, avoiding the fact that its exceedingly narrow focus on "the network evening news broadcasts" is even more embarassingly terrible.

Graham and Bozell let out another end-of-column whine: "All this demonstrates that the media display no self-respect when it's suggested they were all Trump lackeys without a conscience for the country. Where's the fight? Where's the rebuttal? Where's the disgust with such a shameless falsehood? The chin stroking just underlines that they were in Clinton's pantsuit pocket then and they remain there today."

Of course, Graham, Bozell and the rest of the MRC are Trump lackeys fully in his pocket, and they lack any self-respect in insisting their bogus studies have any value beyond advancing a right-wing anti-media agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:24 AM EDT

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