MRC Seizes on Donation Story to Smear Journalists Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center reacted to an MSNBC.com article detailing the mostly Democratic political donations of journalists pretty much the way you'd expect -- by ignoring the details and declaring that the article vindicates the MRC's raison d'etre.
In a June 21 NewsBusters post, Pam Meister delcared that this means "87% of those journalists on the list giving to causes and politicians on the left side of the aisle." NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd repeated the claim. But the article does not claim to be a comprehensive list of donations -- while 144 donations are documented, "there appear to be far more than 144 donating journalists." MSNBC added:
The final list represents a tiny percentage of the working journalists in the nation. Daily newspapers alone employ about 60,000 full-time journalists. Approximately 30,000 work in television news jobs and 10,000 in radio news.
That's not, however, stopping the MRC from touting the article as fully representative of all journalists. A June 21 MRC press release quote MRC chief Brent Bozell as saying, "This story re-confirms what we’ve been documenting for years—that most of America’s newsrooms are infested with liberals and that this mindset, in countless ways, spills over into the news coverage, producing liberally biased news stories on a variety of issues: Iraq, taxes, immigration, government, culture, the arts. You name it."
Is dehumanizing journalists to the point of likening them to vermin who do nothing but "infest" really helpful to the media bias debate? We don't.
A June 22 CyberAlert item by Brent Baker, however, quickly mentions -- then quickly ignores -- one salient point ignored by his colleagues: "most of those found by Dedman work in local markets, for opinion-oriented publications or hold non-news coverage positions such as music reviewer or copy editor." Indeed, as CBS' Brian Montopoli writes:
For starters, these aren't all political journalists - a quick review of the list reveals a travel writer, classical music critic, and sports statistician, among others. I'm not sure how the political beliefs of a sports statistician are particularly relevant to a discussion about ideological media bias - I'd be more concerned about him being a Yankee fan.
But rather than explaining how liberal bias can insidiously seep into sports statistics (remember, Bozell did say "you name it," so that bias must be there), Baker goes on an archive-plundering binge of statements and polls about alleged liberal media bias, including a Freedom Forum poll we've previously debunked.
While shrieking about the news organization employees' political donations to Democrats, all of these MRC employees, however, were silent about the donations to Republicans. Escaping the MRC's notice, for instance, was Fox News "O'Reilly Factor" producer Ann Stewart Banker, who gave $5,000 to a Republican PAC.
So, seizing on the story to promote its agenda, obscuring flaws in methodology, hateful rhetoric, and pretending that conservative journalists aren't biased -- yep, par for the course for the MRC.
Let's count the biased claims in this June 21 WorldNetDaily article by Naomi Laine, shall we?
First off, it's essentially a press release for the right-wing gun-rights group Gun Owners of America, promoting its claims against a bill that would allow states to more easily flag the mentally ill in criminal databases so that they appear in gun-sale background checks. Laine writes in her lead paragraph: "The House of Representatives has fast-tracked new legislation to 'improve' the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by allowing doctors to now decide who can own firearms." Yes, Laine put the word "improve" in scare quotes.
Laine writes that "soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder would be classified as mentally ill and given the same opportunity to own firearms as convicted felons: None," without offering any reason why that's a bad thing.
Laine writes of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, sponsor of the legislation, that her "own husband was killed in a random shooting on a commuter train in New York City in 1993." That understates the situation; in fact, McCarthy's husband was just one of six people killed by Colin Ferguson -- who had mental health evinced by his decision to defend himself during his trial on the shootings -- on a Long Island Rail Road train in 1993. Further, McCarthy's son was seriously wounded in the incident.
Laine also writes:
Tech student Seung-Hui Cho was not flagged when he purchased guns, although the state of Virginia knew Cho had been ordered to undergo mental health treatment. No evidence indicates that Cho could have been stopped from opening fire on classmates had the new changes been in place at the time of the shooting.
A Virginia judge in December 2005 deemed Cho "an imminent danger to himself because of mental illness"; Cho purchased the guns he used in his April 2007 shooting spree in Febraury and March 2007. Had Cho's mental illness been entered in the gun-check database, those guns might not have been sold to him and he could indeed have been "stopped from opening fire on classmates."
WND Peter Paul Sycophancy Watch (Update) Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Art Moore onceagain does the bidding of convicted felon Peter Paul, reporting on Paul's latest attack on Hillary Clinton in a June 21 article without mentioning Paul's lengthy criminal record the fact that Paul is currently awaiting sentencing for a stock-manipulation scheme and is essentially trying to take the Clintons down with him. Moore also makes no apparent attempt to contact anyone on the Clinton side for a response.
Heck, even CNSNews.com, reporting on the same subject, noted Paul's criminal record and noted an attempt to contact the Clinton side of things.
Are Moore and WND so in bed with Paul that they are willing -- if not eager -- to violate journalistic principles and refuse to tell the full story in an honest manner for the sole purpose of a cheap shot at the Clintons? As we've already demonstrated, it would appear so.
UPDATE: A June 22 article by Moore further confirms the in-bed aspect of WND and Paul -- it's now hosting the purported "smoking gun" video that Paul has been yelping about of late. Moore does note this time that "The Clintons' longtime attorney David Kendall has not replied to WND's request for comment on Paul's videotape," but he once again glosses over Paul's criminal record, noting only that the tape in question was involved in a "related securities case" against Paul but not mentioning that Paul fled the country to avoid prosecution in the "securities case" -- a $25 million stock manipulation scheme -- fought extradition for two years, pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and is awaiting sentencing.
BBC Bashed for Soliciting Troop Movements; What About Fox? Topic: NewsBusters
A June 21 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield claimed that the BBC's soliciting from Iraqi civilians tips on British and American troop movements is a sign of the BBC's "self-admitted systemic left-wing bias." But Sheffield didn't mention similar violations by Fox News, most notoriously Geraldo Rivera's revealing revealing U.S. troop movements during a Fox News broadcast (which NewsBusters parent, the Media Research Center, could scarcely be bothered to acknowledge).
Another instance of Fox News' dubious war coverage has surfaced. Josh Rushing, former spokesman for U.S. Central Command operations in Iraq (and now correspondent for Al-Jazeera) notes in a new book that one Fox News reporter showed in a report where the weak spot was on an Abrams tank. Rushing added: "Although I'm sure other networks weren't blameless, Fox News, ironically, earned the worst reputation for their carelessness with Department of Defense ground rules for embedded media—and possible Coalition lives." Rushing also noted that one of the network's reporters was such a sycophant that he "would ask before a live interview what questions I wanted him to ask."
Down has also been the direction of CBS's ratings since the Tiffany Network made perky partisan and former co-host of NBC's "Today" show Katie Couric its evening news anchor.
Couric was and is notorious for injecting a Democratic political bias into almost everything she says. On NBC she once famously referred to President Ronald Reagan as an "airhead."
As we pointed out when the Media Research Center tried to pull the same stunt, Couric's 1999 remark is being taken out of context. Couric was, in fact, repeating what was being claimed about Edmund Morris' then-just-released biography of Ronald Reagan, which early news reports -- not just Couric -- stated had called Reagan an airhead.
NewsMax's Double Standard on Disclosure Topic: Newsmax
A June 19 NewsMax article claimed that "Bill and Hillary Clinton’s ties to InfoUSA Chairman Vinod Gupta have raised conflict-of-interest concerns over the firm’s links to CNN" because InfoUSA recently purchased Opinion Research Corp., which provides CNN with polling services. NewsMax cited an article that claimed "CNN cited results of an Opinion Research poll that showed Hillary Clinton gaining momentum among liberal voters, without disclosing that the pollster is owned by a company whose owner is working to elect her," adding another writer's claim that "just the perception of a potential conflict of interest could hurt a media organization's credibility."
Such concerns about conflicts of interest do not appear to trouble NewsMax's operations. The most glaring example of this is Dick Morris, who repeatedlyattacks Hillary Clinton in his NewsMax columns without disclosing in those columns that he is working to defeat her (even though he regularly discloses that he has worked for Mike Huckabee in columns that mention him).
Is NewsMax not worried about its "credibility" over this conflict of interest? Perhaps it would be if it had some credibility to begin with.
Kessler Repeats Buchanan's Falsehoods About Hillary Topic: Newsmax
In a June 18 NewsMax article featuring an interview with Clinton-bashing author Bay Buchanan, Ronald Kessler uncritically repeated false and misleading claims peddled by Buchanan in her new book, which Kessler called "the best analysis of the presidential candidate" compared with "two recent books," presumably those by Carl Bernstein and Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta. Kessler wrote:
Hillary Clinton's claim that she thought she was voting for more diplomacy when she voted to authorize use of force in Iraq is part of a pattern that suggests to Bay Buchanan that we are all fools for having let her advance to the point where she is running for president.
"It's inconceivable that somebody would vote for a resolution that's called 'Authorization of the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq,' and yet you would be thinking you might be voting for something that didn't put armed forces in Iraq," Buchanan tells me with her trademark staccato delivery.
If Hillary really thought she was not voting to go to war, "Why would she have supported the war for the next two-and-a-half years?" Buchanan asks.
In fact, in her floor speech before the vote on the October 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, Clinton acknowledged that approval of the resolution could "lead to war," adding that she expected the White House to push for "complete, unlimited inspections" and that she did not view her support for the measure as "a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption or for unilateralism."
Of all of Hillary's prevarications, Buchanan says, none is so clear-cut or shocking as the fact that on national TV, Hillary claimed that when two airplanes hit the World Trade Center, her daughter Chelsea was at Battery Park near the towers, where Chelsea heard and saw the catastrophe unfold.
Hillary's arrogance was so profound that she did not coordinate the story with Chelsea, who wrote an article for Talk in which she described what she had been doing that day. According to Chelsea, she wasn't jogging at the World Trade Center. Rather, she was miles away in a friend's apartment on Park Avenue South. She watched the events unfold on TV.
In fact, Clinton did not say that Chelsea "was at Battery Park near the towers, where Chelsea heard and saw the catastrophe unfold"; rather, she said that Chelsea "was going to go around the towers."
Michael Yon Says Iraq Is In a Civil War; Will NewsBusters? Topic: NewsBusters
Remember when the folks at NewsBusters were allupset that news reports were referring to the situation in Iraq as a civil war (even though Fox News and other conservatives seemed to be rooting for one)? It's still going on. A June 20 post by Clay Waters attacks a New York Times reporter as an "early 'civil war' declarer." Waters offers no evidence that it's not.
That may be because there isn't any. Another June 20 post, by Terry Trippany, features conservative darling warblogger Michael Yon and how he offers "an alternative, more rounded message; a beacon in the darkness of the mainstream media's one sided narrative." But the Yon excerpts Trippany repeated make one thing clear: Yon thinks there's a civil war in Iraq too, and has since early 2005 -- a year earlier than the media declarations NewsBusters attacked.
It seems that NewsBusters should either apologize to the TV networks for attacking a factual claim, or start bashing Michael Yon as well.
NewsMax Still Unclear on Definition of Censorship Topic: Newsmax
The headline of a June 19 NewsMax article reads: "Rush Limbaugh Stays Despite Censorshp Bid." But the article -- as with a previous NewsMax item on a Florida county's efforts to end an emergency-broadcasting partnership with a radio station because it airs conservative hosts such as Limbaugh -- offers no evidence that Limbaugh was "censored" or even faced "censorship." The county did not demand the station stop airing Limbaugh, nor did, as far as we know, the station offer to drop Limbaugh's show in order to keep the county's business.
As we've noted, the county was simply trying to engage in free trade, something we thought the conservatives at NewsMax favored.
Potentially Offensively Biased Factoid of the Day Topic: CNSNews.com
A June 19 CNSNews.com article by Nathan Burchfiel on the liberal Take Back America conference notes: "The conference is being held at the Washington Hilton, where in 1981 John Hinckley, Jr. failed in his attempt to assassinate conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan."
Is Burchfiel suggesting that liberals chose that hotel for the conference because it was where a Republican president was shot?
NewsMax Sorta Admits Its Online Poll Is Biased Topic: Newsmax
For the first time that we know of, NewsMax is admitting that its opt-in online polls don't represent the U.S. population as a whole.
We'venoted that NewsMax frequently misrepresents these polls as speaking for all Americans when, as an opt-in poll promoted mostly on NewsMax and other conservative websites, they most decidedly do not (and are ultimately just a tool to harvest e-mail addresses for its mailing list). But in a June 17 "Insider Report," NewsMax described its opt-in poll on Hillary Clinton as showing "how GOP-leaning web users view her politics."
Still, NewsMax is promoting the poll as showing "a shift in sentiment" toward Hillary:
Now, by a margin of 51% to 49%, respondents believe Hillary will be denied the nomination of her party.
When asked if Hillary is the best candidate the Democrats could nominate, a solid 78% said "No."
And 71% said they would vote for Obama over Clinton in a Democratic primary.
Given that NewsMax is admitting that this is the view of "GOP-leaning voters," the results as applied to Democratic primaries are meaningless because registered Republicans have no say in who Democratic voters choose as their presidential candidate.
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch Topic: Media Research Center
A June 18 appearance by the MRC Business & Media Institute's Dan Gainor on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto" to discuss gas prices included something MRC representatives on Fox News rarely encounter: an opposing viewpoint.
Gainor was joined in his appearance by former Clinton administration official Laura Schwartz. But since Cavuto sympathizes with Gainor's views, it was a unbalanced panel that turned into both of them attacking Schwartz:
GAINOR: And the rest of the stuff -- more government, more taxes, more regulation. We haven't had any sort of price-gouging ever found in all the infinite numbers of investigations they've done, so why do you think we're going to find it now? It's just posturing on the part of government. The reason why we have high prices now is because of government.
SCHWARTZ: Well, I'd like to draw your attention to the FTC report in spring of 2006 that showed price-gouging going on after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. So just look to that. Spring 2006 [unintelligible] by the FTC commissioner. That's what this is based off of, and --
CAVUTO: I believe -- I believe, Laura, it was localized to six independent dealers, and we should point out that there are better than 2,000. But Dan, I do want --
SCHWARTZ: Well, they actually showed refineries, wholesalers and retailers --
CAVUTO: No --
SCHWARTZ: This came out of Bart Stupak's report in the House.
CAVUTO: No. No, they did not say that, by the way.
In fact, the FTC report found "15 examples of pricing at the refining, wholesale, or retail level that fit the relevant legislation’s definition of evidence of 'price gouging.'"
In a June 18 NewsBusters post, Matthew Balan claimed that after CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour "repeated the platitude that mainstream media reports 'without fear nor favor... giving voice to those who don't have a voice, and just simply trying to tell the truth,' " she "revealed her own bias" by stating that "if we don't, we can get really into a big disaster. And I, as you know, feel strongly that that's what happened in the lead-up to the Iraq war." Balan added: "Amanpour is repeating the revisionist claim that the media did not pursue the Bush administration and other proponents of action against Iraq aggressively in the run-up to the war, a claim that the MRC refuted in May."
Well, not exactly. Balan is referring to a May 15 "Media Reality Check" in which Rich Noyes claiming to disprove liberals' "amazing display of myth-building and revisionism concerning the establishment media’s performance before the war." But all Noyes does is offer a handful of anecdotal counterexamples of questions being raised, including one from the barely-watched "McLaughlin Group." Noyes asserted:
That’s complete nonsense, as anyone who has actually looked at the coverage would know. In the months leading up to the start of the war in March 2003, the much of the media — especially ABC — portrayed the Bush administration as aggressive, impulsive, pig-headed and even blood-thirsty, while routinely doubting the credibility of their public statements.
Noyes is so busy building up a straw man to anecdotally knock down a pair of comments made on CNN's "Reliable Sources" that he doesn't address more detailed analyses of the issue. While one of Noyes' anecdotes is a question from ABC's Terry Moran to President Bush during a March 6, 2003, press conference, Eric Boehlert went into much deeper detail on that press conference in his 2006 book "Lapdogs":
Laying out the reasons for war, Bush that night mentioned al-Qaida and the terrorist attacks of September 11 thirteen times in less than an hour, yet not a single journalist challenged the presumed connection Bush was making between al-Qaida and Iraq, despite the fact that intelligence sources had publicly questioned any such association. And during the Q&A session, nobody bothered to ask Bush about the elusive Osama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind whom Bush had vowed to capture. Follow-up questions were nonexistent, which only encouraged Bush to give answers to questions he was not asked.
Before the cameras went live, White House handlers, in a highly unusual move, marched veteran reporters to their seats in the East Room, two-by-two, like school children being led onto the stage for the annual holiday pageant. The White House was taking no chances with the choreography. Looking back on the night, New York Times White House correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller defended the press corps' timid behavior: "I think we were very deferential because ... it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you' re standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war," she told students at Towson University in Maryland. "There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time."
In fact, a search of the MRC's archives finds no mention whatsoever of Boehlert's book, which is arguably the most detailed case for the contention that the media didn't do its job before the Iraq war. Rather than addressing substantive criticism on an issue it purportedly cares about (from a shield-the-Bush-administration viewpoint), Noyes would apparently rather cherry-pick from Sunday talk shows and hurl out-of-context anecdotes in response -- hardly anyone's definition of refutation.
Your Divine Mileage May Vary Topic: NewsBusters
In an odd June 18 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham is miffed that NPR didn't put the word "goddess" in scare quotes in an "All Things Considered" piece on a 9-year-old girl who is "venerated as a deity in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal":
News people often hedge on the accuracy of the existence of God, but National Public Radio showed an ease in declaring they were in the presence of a "goddess" (no quote marks for her) on Thursday's All Things Considered newscast.
Even the NPR website is confident in declaring her divinity. Their headline for the segment: "She's Small, Sometimes Shy, and Totally Divine."
Notwithstanding the problem of putting scare quotes around something in an audio broadcast, Graham never really explains what the bee in his bonnet is about. Given that Graham notes at the outset that NPR states that the girl's divinity is pretty much limited to "the Kathmandu valley of Nepal," it can't be that NPR is claiming that she's a goddess to all; indeed, nowhere does the NPR report claim the girl has any divine powers at all, let alone those of the Christian God.
Aha! That may be it -- Graham doesn't want any non-Christian religion portrayed in a positive light. In other words, the problem Graham has with the NPR piece appears to be theological, not journalistic. There's probably a better place to address polytheistic vs. monotheistic belief system debates than NewsBusters.