Conservative media critics -- like, say, those at the Media Research Center -- would have you believe that the only reason newspapers are currently facing financial difficulties is because readers are tired of their purported liberal bias.
Matthew Sheffield is one of those. In an April 24 NewsBusters post, Sheffield rails against the New York Times, claiming that shareholders inflicted some "accountability" on the Times' "unprofessional and unethical behavior" by more than 40 percent of common-stock shareholders witholding a vote on the company's directors. Sheffield claimed that "the uber-leftist Sulzberger family ... has been running the paper into the ground financially and off a cliff when it comes to bias, all the while stuffing its own pockets." He goes on to rail against the Time's dual-tier stock structure, under which, he says, "the people who own most of the Times stock actually have no control as to who runs the company since their shares can't vote on a majority of the board of directors."
Not only does Sheffield not mention the current paradigm shift from print to online that newspaper-based media companies are currently undergoing -- nor note that stockholders unhappy with the dual-tier stock structure (a not-uncommon structure, also used by companies such as Google, Ford, and Berkshire Hathaway) are free to sell said stock -- he approvingly repeats a claim from a pseudonymous commenter who makes the "astute point" that "Pinch [Sulzburger] and the Times are not about publishing. They are not about principle. They are there to push a left wing agenda."
That is an incredibly silly claim (if we made it, we'd want to stay anonymous too), and it says a lot about Sheffield that he thinks such a comment is "astute." The anonymous commenter's single piece of evidence for his claim is that the Times criticized Alberto Gonzales in a editorial. It ignores that numerous Republicans have criticized Gonzales, as well as numerous examples of the Times is deviating from its purported "left wing" agenda.
But the facts would interfere with the conservative media-bias narrative. Sheffield's blinders are way too comfortable for him to contemplate such a thing.
One-Sided Reporting on Abortion Study Continues Topic: CNSNews.com
An April 24 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall on a study discrediting claims of a link between abortion and breast cancer reads almost exactly like WorldNetDaily's article on the subject. The exact same anti-abortion activists are quoted; the researchers are not given an opportunity to respond to the attacks; and those researchers are described as engaging in "outcome-based science."
And one more: Like WND, nowhere does Hall raise the possibility that it's the anti-abortion activists who are the ones engaging in "outcome-based science."
An April 23 WorldNetDaily article is a one-sided attack on a study that found that having an abortion doesn't increase a woman's risk of getting breast cancer, featuring one critic who said those results "simply were what researchers wanted to find." The researchers of the study were not given a chance to respond to the criticism.
Nowhere in the article does WND ascribe that same motive to anti-abortion activists who promote the idea of an abortion-breast cancer link -- that is, whether such a conclusion is simply what their conservative researchers -- one study WND cites was published in the conservative-skewed Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons -- "wanted to find."
Sadly, No! predicted how "everybody on the Internet" would react to the Virginia Tech shooting: "The senseless massacre at Virginia Tech basically confirms everything I’ve been saying all along."
Doing her best to live up to that prediction is Judith Reisman, who uses an April 23 WorldNetDaily column to graft Cho Seung-Hui to her anti-Kinsey, anti-porn crusade. Reisman claims, citing a story Cho wrote as evidence, that Cho's massacre was sparked in part by "a society drenched in sadosexual arousal as entertainment" and because he sat "at the Internet every night, angrily lusting after naked young blondes who provoke his loins." These, according to Reisman's thinking, were "erototoxins."
According to Reisman, pornography "not only influences behavior but also actually alters brain chemistry, making children most vulnerable to its toxic imagery. Erotic images, she says, "also commonly trigger the viewer's 'fight or flight' sex hormones producing intense arousal states that appear to fuse the conscious state of libidinous arousal with unconscious emotions of fear, shame, anger and hostility. These media erotic fantasies become deeply imbedded, commonly coarsening, confusing, motivating and addicting many of those exposed."
As with her anti-Kinsey research, there are some holes in Reisman's thinking. As the UK Guardian points out: "Much of Reisman's research in developing her theory has necessitated examining hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pornographic magazines and films. By her own reasoning her brain ought, by now, to be a seething mass of toxic smutmulch."
The Mind Hacks blog adds: "Many of her arguments are based on one-reference claims, and some only on what she calls 'extensive documentation'. One unmentioned implication is the fact that, if sexual arousal from pornography causes 'brain damage', then so will real-life sex!"
In an April 19 CNSNews.com column, Christopher Adamo likens special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to Michael Nifong, the prosecutor in the collapsed Duke lacrosse rape case, accusing Fitzgerald of a"charade of upholding American law" in his prosecution of Scooter Libby for obstructing justice in the investigation of the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name:
Like Nifong, Fitzgerald had full knowledge and access to the most significant piece of information pertaining to his investigation, specifically the individual who confessed to the non-crime of passing Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak. At the beginning of the investigation, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage admitted to Fitzgerald that it was he who had leaked the information in question.
In fact, Armitage's role in leaking to Novak is irrelevant to the case against Libby. While Libby did not leak Plame's identity to Novak, he was reportedly the original source of the information for at least two other reporters during the summer of 2003; Novak was merely the first to go public with it. Armitage's role does not change the fact that a jury found Libby guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to federal investigators.
Nevertheless, Adamo goes on to call Fitzgerald an "unscrupulous power monger" who poses "the greater danger to honest citizens in a free society and therefore should be kept under lock and key for the protection of all good people."
Libby was found guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to federal investigators. How, exactly, does that make him an "honest citizen"?
NewsBusters Treats Press Release As Actual News Topic: NewsBusters
An April 22 NewsBusters post by Tom Blumer promotes a OneNewsNow article critical of what he called the "Formerly Mainstream Media" for not paying the desired amount of attention to the American Family Association-led boycott of Ford for alleged "corporate support of homosexual causes." But Blumer fails to note the self-serving aspects of all of this:
-- OneNewsNow is the "news" division of the very same American Family Association that is leading the boycott, making this, for all intents and purposes, a press release. OneNewsNow was called AgapePress until earlier this year, when its operations were merged with American Family Radio's news division.
-- The only person quoted in the article is Kristen Fyfe of the Culture and Media Institut -- which, like NewsBusters, is run by the Media Research Center.
Essentially, this is all circular cross-promotion, and Blumer gives little indication to his readers that it's not.
At the start of his April 20 NewsMax column declaring that "there are too many similarities between the slaughter that was perpetrated on the Virginia Tech campus and the tenants and tactics of jihad inflicted on the innocents of the world by radical Islam, Frank Salvato states, "I like to think of myself as someone who gathers all of the facts, along with some educated opinions, before I formulate my stance on things."
But one basic fact Salvato failed to gather was the proper usage of shooter Cho Seung-Hui's name. Salvato calls him "Hui" throughout his column, though Cho is his last name. Most Asian cultures put the family name first before the given name.
WND Cozies Up Again to Its Favorite Felon Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily loves its convicted felons.
An April 21 article by Art Moore once again unquestioningly promotes the allegations of Peter Paul against Hillary Clinton. A longtimestenographer for Paul's repeated legal actions against Clinton, Moore this time swallows Paul's claim that there is "a newly recovered videotape his lawyer calls 'smoking-gun evidence' of the New York Democrat's commission of a series of felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison." But Moore describes only in general terms what is purportedly on the video and offers no transcript, let alone a clip of the video itself. Rather, Moore writes that "Paul has indicated plans to release the tape within 30 days as the focal point of the first-ever documentary on Sen. Clinton."
Once again, Moore bamboozles readers about the fact that Paul is a convicted felon who faces 10 years in prison and a $5 million fine for his role in a $25 million stock fraud scheme, obscuring it in legalistic terms by stating that he "pleading guilty to a 10(b)5 violation of the Securities and Exchange Commission." Moore also fails to mention that as his stock scheme was collapsing, Paul fled to Brazil, where he fought extradition for two years.
As we've noted, the judge in the trial of David Rosen, Clinton's former campaign finance manager accused of filing false reports to the Federal Election Commission about a fund-raiser that Paul had a hand in producing -- a charge on which Rosen was acquitted -- has called Paul "a thoroughly discredited, corrupt individual. ... He's a con artist. The fact that he is, is already established."
So, look for Moore and WND to promote the heck out of that video when it comes out, despite it having been made by a thoroughly discredited, corrupt individual.
UPDATE: An April 20 CNSNews.com article by Fred Lucas (a version of which appears at NewsMax) also unquestioningly repeats Paul's accusations. It dispenses of Paul's criminal record in slightly more detail than Moore -- a section NewsMax edited out in its version of the article -- but does not note that a judge has called Paul "a thoroughly discredited, corrupt individual" and "con artist."
Bozell Excuses Imus Insult As 'Botched Joke' Topic: Media Research Center
We've detailed how the Media Research Center has tried to equivocate and distract attention from Don Imus' "nappy-headed ho" remark. Brent Bozell keeps it up in an April 20 column, calling Imus' insult nothing worse than a "botched joke" and attacking CBS executives for being "craven" in firing him.
Speaking of craven, it's worth looking at the MRC's reaction to another recent "botched joke" -- John Kerry's misstatement prior to the 2006 midterm elections that students who don't perform well "get stuck in Iraq." The MRC wasn't in such a forgiving mood then; a Nov. 6, 2006, CyberAlert called the remark an "insult of troops" and looked down on NBC's Matt Lauer for daring to suggest that Kerry never "meant to question the intelligence of U.S. troops in Iraq."
A Dec. 28, 2006, Times Watch item by Clay Waters attacked the New York Times for "giv[ing] Kerry the benefit of the doubt in assuming he didn't actually mean what came out of his mouth."
A Jan. 25 Times Watch item by Waters (repeated in a Jan. 26 CyberAlert) criticized the Times again for "repeating a pro-Kerry explanation for his 'botched joke.'" In noting the Times' statement that "Republicans quickly turned" the remark "into a defining caricature of him," Waters added: "One could also quibble with the word "caricature," as if Kerry's remark somehow didn't reflect what he really thought about the war."
An Oct. 31, 2006, NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard didn't give Kerry the same benefit of the doubt he gave Imus. (If you'll recall, Sheppard found Imus' firing, but not Imus' insult, "deplorable.") Sheppard declared that Kerry made an "extrordinarily demeaning statement" and attacked CNN for telling Kerry's side of the story: "Fascinating. So, Kerry insults America’s troops on Monday, and on Tuesday, CNN is advancing the notion that this all a strategy for Kerry to go 'head to head with the president again.' Isn't that special?" A Nov. 1, 2006, post by Sheppard compared Kerry's remark to Trent Lott's remark about Strom Thurmond, declaring that "America’s media are much more receptive and tolerant of Democrat jokes and/or mistatements than those from Republicans."
And Sheppard is much more receptive and tolerant of and/or mistatements by Imus than by Democrats. Why is that?
Shocker: Unruh Admits More Than One Side of Story Exists (Sorta) Topic: WorldNetDaily
An April 19 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh on a proposed Oregon gray-rights law contains something that's increasingly rare at WorldNetDaily in general and Unruh's articles in particular -- more than one side of the story.
Granted, it's only one paragraph, and the 27th paragraph at that. But we believe this is the first time that Unruh has acknowledged that there is another side of the story (as we've noted).
Of course, Unruh hands over the rest of the article to activist opponents of the measure making unsupported and unverified claims. For instance, "[Under S.B. 2], it will be legal for a man to walk into a women's shower, locker or rest room, as long as he keeps his underwear on, and anyone who complained (spell discriminate), could be sued under S.B. 2!" Unruh offers no explanation of why the legal analysis of the bill provided by this person, who he describes only as being with a "ministry" called Restore America, is accurate or in any authoritative. Indeed, Unruh quotes no legal analysts at all, only conservative Christian activists.
Unruh also quotes an pseudonymous writer on a Baltimore-based blog as a credible source without explaining why a Baltimore-based blogger is a credible source about an issue in Oregon.
Kessler Shops His Bush Letters, Gets An Article Out of It Topic: Newsmax
This is what NewsMax's Ronald Kessler has been reduced to in his slavering defense of the Bush administration: an April 18 article declaring that letters written by Bush are among the most valuable with collectors of presidential letters.
Indeed, it appears that Kessler may be looking to cash in while the market's still hot. he writes:
In thanking me for an autographed copy of my book "A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush," Bush's father hand-penned a note letting loose his unvarnished feelings about the media coverage of his son and specifically about author Kitty Kelly. Such a letter would have greater value than a more mundane one, Zimet observed.
Did Kessler pull a two-fer by turning an appraisal into an article? Regardless, go for it, Ron!
New Article: He Who Must Not Be Denounced Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has long depicted Don Imus as a liberal who gave a platform to other liberals. So why isn't it happy that he's gone? Read more.
Shepherd Pretends 'Partial-Birth Abortion' Isn't A Political Term (Update) Topic: NewsBusters
An April 18 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd bashed CBS for using the phrase "what the law calls a partial birth abortion" to describe the procedure banned in a law the Supreme Court upheld, even though it's "c umbersome," because "[b]oth 'late term abortion' and 'partial birth abortion' are now phrases that signify a position." Shepherd claimed that "'partial-birth abortion' is not political invective, it's descriptive layman's language to describe a medical procedure," comparing it to "heart attack" as "the layman's term for the medically-correct term 'myocardial infarction.' "
In fact, the phrase "partial-birth abortion" is political invective. Shepherd doesn't acknowledge the fact that the term was coined and used in the mid-1990s by opponents of the procedure -- that is, Republicans and conservatives. Pretending that it's not a political term doesn't make it so, especially since Sheppard seems to express such glee that it "vividly describes" the procedure at hand.
UPDATE: Indeed, Shepherd seems to revel in those descriptions, and he's offended when they're not vivid enough. In an April 19 post, he writes that some newspapers "included descriptions of the gruesome abortion procedure, although none described the suctioning of the unborn child's brain from the skull as the manner of ending the fetus's life, and the NY Times failed to mention the brain suction at all."