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Saturday, January 16, 2021
Fake News: MRC Allows False Claim To Remain, But With An 'Editor's Note'
Topic: Media Research Center

Joseph Vazquez -- whose main job these appears appears to go spelunking into election-donation databases in an attempt to shame the MRC's preferred targets for having donated money to Democrats -- thought he had a winner in a Dec. 22 item:

Here’s another reason CNN’s political coverage seemed slanted against President Donald Trump: Political Correspondent Sara Murray gave cash to one of the only two Democratic senate candidates to defeat a GOP incumbent so far.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) records revealed that Murray gave $1,000 to Democratic Senator Mark Kelly’s (D-AZ) campaign Sept. 19, 2020. Her contribution creates a potential conflict of interest given Murray’s role as a news correspondent covering politics for CNN.


The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics clearly states that journalists should “[a]void conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.” It also states that journalists should refuse credibility-harming “special treatment” and should “[a]void political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.”

These general rules to protect journalist impartiality are clearly lost on CNN.

The MRC later appended an update to Vazquez's post: "CNN Head of Strategic Communications Matt Dornic responded to this story on Twitter, claiming, 'Wrong address. Wrong person. Wrong reporting,' despite the FEC record identifying 'Sara Murray' as a 'Correspondent'" employed by 'CNN.'"

It turns out that CNN was correct -- and Vazquez was wrong. His post now begins with this editor's note:

According to FEC records, there is another Sara Murray in Washington D.C. at the same zip code whose occupation is a nutritionist. Prior to this post's publication, MRC reached out to several CNN officials for comment. All of them went unreturned. Since publication, CNN has informed NewsBusters that both CNN and Murray unequivocally deny that she's made any political donations and are looking into the donation’s origins. The Mark Kelly campaign sent a note to the FEC stating:

"This filing is to notify that on the October 2020 Quarterly report we incorrectly reported Sara Murray's occupation as Correspondent and employer as CNN. The correct information, as given by the donor who made the contribution on September 19, 2020, is that their employer and occupation are both Not Employed."

Our report on the donation record was accurate, but the FEC record was not, so we're happy to correct it.

Wrong. Because the FEC record was not accurate, Vazquez's report wasn't acccurate. The donor was misidentified, and the MRC is trying to hide behind that to mask Vazquez's errort. Bizarrely, the MRC is leaving Vazquez's false post up even though it identifies the wrong person as the donor. The fact that there's an "editor's note" admitting the piece is false is no excuse for allowing the original false claim to stand.

And that tells you all you need to know about how selectively the MRC applies journalistic ethics.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 AM EST

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