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Saturday, October 13, 2018
More Bogus "Media Research" From The MRC on Kavanaugh Coverage
Topic: Media Research Center

The bogus, shoddy count of the word "rape" used in connection with Brett Kavanaugh, devoid of context or an admission of its news value, isn't the only bit of bogus "media research" the Media Research Center has engaged in while trying to protect and defend Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination. A Sept. 26 item by Brad Wilmouth claims under the misleading headline "Study: TV News Is Rigged Against Brett Kavanaugh":

During the twelve days since Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein publicly announced the existence of an unspecified allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have spent nearly six hours (344 minutes) regurgitating various unproved allegations against the Supreme Court nominee.

But only a tiny percentage of that coverage — a measly eight percent — has been devoted to Kavanaugh’s denials and the lack of corroboration for his accusers’ accounts.

The headline is misleading because it alludes to purported bias by all of "TV news" when, in fact, the MRC once again did its usual highly narrow focus on only the broadcast TV networks and pretended that Fox News doesn't exist.

Wilmouth's study in dishonest in other ways. Wilmouth complained that "Back on September 14, Kavanaugh issued a statement “categorically and unequivocally” denying Ford’s charges. For most of the coverage that followed, his flat denial was relegated to a few seconds in lengthy stories about the charges — sometimes no more than a parenthetical clause that reporters mechanically inserted in stories that bombarded viewers with the salacious details of each accusation." Wilmouth didn't explain how Kavanugh's "flat denial" could have been stretched out to match the detailed allegations provided by Christine Blasey Ford.

Wilmouth was also obsessed with trying to portray "Ford's politics" as the partisan motivation for her accusations against Kavanaugh:

On September 17, National Public Radio — hardly a right-wing outlet — passed along how Ford’s lawyer, Lisa Banks, said the accuser “was not motivated by politics,” but NPR added crucial context to that statement: “Ford is a registered Democrat who has made small political contributions to Democratic organizations. In April 2017, she attended a March For Science in San Francisco, which was held to protest Trump administration cuts to research, and she signed a letter in June 2018 condemning the Trump administration’s policy, since abandoned, of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border.”

None of these facts made it onto the broadcast networks. Only NBC bothered to mention this topic, when on September 17 Today co-host Savannah Guthrie invited Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, to knock down the idea that partisanship was a factor: “According to the Washington Post, she’s a Democrat. A lot of people look at this and say here’s somebody who has a political motive to tell this story. What would you say to that?”

That amounted to just 12 seconds of airtime, which was still better than ABC and CBS, which never spent a second telling viewers about Ford’s liberal activism. You can be sure that if a liberal Supreme Court nominee was being accused by a woman with an equally conservative background, the networks would make sure viewers were aware of that background.

But Wilmouth himself omitted crucial context. Ford's political contributions since 2014, all to the liberal group ActBlue, totalled a whopping $80.50 -- hardly the mark of a fire-breathing partisan who would lie about Kavanaugh for political purposes, as Wilmouth seems to be implying she is.

Such politically motivated "media research" shows why the MRC's work isn't taken seriously outside partisan circles, who will treat Wilmouth's misleading headline as undisputed fact ... as the MRC intends.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 AM EDT

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