MRC Hates Huckabee, Loves Thompson Topic: Media Research Center
We know that the MRC doesn't like Mike Huckabee, judging by CNS' unbalancedattacks on him. But, judging by whom its writers defend on NewsBusters, we're starting to get a picture of who it does like: Fred Thompson. A sampling of recent posts:
A Jan. 11 post by Scott Whitlock was upset that "ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos derided GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson as a 'hit man'" for his attacks on Huckabee during a recent debate.
A Jan. 11 post by Mark Finkelstein was similarly annoyed that Joe Scarborough called Thompson a "hatchet man" for John McCain in the debate, adding that Huckabee "went scatalogical in responding to Thompson."
A Jan. 11 post by Clay Waters bashed the New York Times for "hitting the theme of a 'faltering' Fred Thompson, lashing out in a desperate bid to salvage his campaign" and portraying Huckabee as "turning the other cheek."
A Jan. 10 post by Whitlock praising an ABC report on the shady past of a supporter of Barack Obama, specifically cited a similar report on Thompson to claim that ABC's "investigations of Republicans often include a sneering, sarcastic tone that was lacking in his segment on Obama." (Whitlock does include one of the few defenses of Huckabee to be found on NewsBusters, complaining that an ABC report on "Mike Huckabee and the his record on crime ... leveled charges of hypocrisy."
This, on top of Warner Todd Huston's Thompson sycophancy, suggests that the MRC has chosen sides in the Republican primary. Are 501(c)3 groups allowed to do that?
UPDATE: A Jan. 12 post by Tom Blumer regurgitates Rush Limbaugh's complaint that the "drive-by media" is tyrying to declare Thompson's candidacy over and that Huckabee as the Republican nominee is "exactly what the Drive-Bys want." Does this mean the MRC is doing the bidding of Limbaugh?
WND Falsely Describes California Law Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 11 WorldNetDaily article referred to "a new state law that would mandate a positive – and no other – portrayal of bisexuals, homosexuals, transgenders and others choosing alternative sexual lifestyles in public schools."
This is false. SB 777 adds sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination laws as they apply to schools and requires that schools don't present material that "promotes a discriminatory bias" against those groups covered under the anti-discrimination clause. The word "positive" does not appear in the law.
UPDATE: A Jan. 11 Newsmax article by Lowell Ponte weighs in on the same issue. Ponte, unlike WND, gives a notable amount of space to supporters of the law, though he allows opponents to have the last word on with the law "might" do or "could in theory" do.
Of course, WND does the same thing, admitting that "technically" supporters are correct about the law's provisions but pushes alarmist speculation about what the law "could" do.
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch Topic: Media Research Center
In his appearance on the Jan. 11 edition of "Fox & Friends," MRC president Brent Bozell said of NBC talking heads having opinions: "[A]dmit it. Don't pretend to be anything but what you are." Yet nowhere during this appearance was Bozell or the MRC identified as conservative, allowing Bozell to pretend to be something other than who he is.
Bozell also appeared solo as well. Both of these attributes are key parts of the template for MRC appearances on Fox News.
NewsBusters Bashes CBS' Smith -- But Pentagon Proved Him Right Topic: NewsBusters
In a Jan. 10 NewsBusters post, Kyle Drennen accused CBS' Harry Smith of "sounding like a liberal conspiracy theorist" and "reminiscent of left-winger Rosie O’Donnell" for "question[ing] the authenticity of an audio tape of the confrontation between U.S. and Iranian ships on January 6."
It looks like Drennen must think the Pentagon is a "liberal conspiracy theorist" as well, because it's backing away from the implication that the voice on the tape unquestionably came from an Iranian ship. According to ABC News, "the voice on the tape could have come from the shore or another ship," adding: "The Navy never said specifically where the voices came from, but many were left with the impression they had come from the speedboat because of the way the Navy footage was edited."
Sounds to us that Smith was right to raise questions. Will Drennen admit this?
A Jan. 10 CNSNews.com article by Josiah Ryan follows in the footsteps of previous CNSbashing of Mike Huckabee by repeating attacks on Huckabee while giving the candidate no real opportunity to respond.
This time around, Huckabee's sin is that, according to "data compiled for Cybercast News Service by Stephen Slivinski, director of budget studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, the tax hike Huckabee supported between 1997 and 2007 [as Arkansas governor] were far heftier than his tax cuts." While Ryan cites a spokesman for Americans for Fair Taxation noting that Huckabee supports the so-called "fair tax," he adds a spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform bashing Huckabee. All of this is countered only by a note that "Repeated calls to the Huckabee campaign for comment on this story were not returned."
Shouldn't CNS explain to its readers why it's attacking a fellow Republican?
Looks like another memo came down from on high at ConWeb World Headquarters: Barack Obama must be attacked! And lo, the ConWeb complied.
A Jan. 7 Newsmax article by Ronald Kessler attacked Obama's "racist church" because it claims to be "unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian" with a “non-negotiable commitment to Africa” and a "Black Value System." But Kessler ignores that the church's pastor has stated that the church's philosophy does not "assume superiority nor does it assume separatism." Kessler claimed by way of comparison: "Imagine if Mitt Romney’s church proclaimed on its website that it is 'unashamedly white.' The media would pounce, and Romney’s presidential candidacy would be over." He doesn't mention that the Mormon church has arguably been for a good part of its history "unabashedly white," with a history of anti-black racism.
A Jan. 9 WorldNetDaily article by Ron Strom claimed that "it is the strong African-centered and race-based philosophy of the senator's United Church of Christ that has some bloggers crying foul." By "some bloggers" Strom means one blogger, some guy named "Ric," whom Strom doesn't identify further or even bother linking to.
A Jan. 8 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr quoted four "pro-life experts" claiming Obama's "pro-abortion stance make him a danger to the black community" while giving Obama no real opportunity to respond (as we've noted).
A Jan. 9 WND column by Jill Stanek attacks Obama's "fence-sitting votes as Illinois state senator for the Born Alive Infants Protection Act"; Obama's "present" vote on the act, Stanek claims, was "a tactic they devised to show liberal senators a way out who were squirmy on voting to support aborting babies alive and letting them die in hospital soiled utility rooms, which is what a vote against Born Alive meant."
A Jan. 9 CNS column by Terry Jeffrey called Obama "the most pro-abortion presidential candidate ever," citing claims made by ... Jill Stanek.
A Jan. 9 CNS article by Jeffrey features former Bush aide Karl Rove bashing Obama as "a smarmy, prissy little guy."
NewsBusters Gets It Wrong on Matthews vs. Hillary Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 9 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein claims that the "view emerging from left-wing circles" is that "the libs are angry that the MSM was too biased towards Obama, so much so that it drove people to Hillary out of spite or sympathy. he further noted that MSNBC's Chris Matthews "regularly waxed euphoric about Obama."
But Finkelstein fails to comment on a point that came up more forcefully in the transcripts he cites than Matthews' love of Obama -- Matthews' hate of Hillary Clinton, as illustrated most recently by a testy exchange between them just before the New Hampshire primary. Finkelstein even goes so far as to boldface comments about news coverage being anti-Clinton -- but he doesn't comment on them.
Perhaps this is because Matthews' war against Hillary and other media criticism of the Clintons inconveniently conflicts with the MRC meme that the MSM is a total, unabashed shill for Hillary (not to mention that new book by the MRC's Brent Bozell and Tim Graham that purports to prove it).
Meanwhile, a Jan. 9 post by Kathleen McKinley purports to be shocked that Matthews claimed that the only reason Hillary Clinton has advanced in politics "is that her husband messed around": "I don't think I have ever seen such a harsh analysis of Hillary Clinton. Not from Sean Hannity. Not from Bill O'Reilly. Could the media be turning on Hillary?"
McKinley ignores a few things here:
1) Media coverage of Hillary has been turning negative for months, as demonstrated by a recently released study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs -- one of the MRC's favorite resources, as we've noted -- showing that the majority of on-air evaluations of Hillary are negative. The MRC has yet to acknowledge this study, by the way.
2) Matthews' latest attack on Hillary came just hours after he vowed, "I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again."
3) Matthews has a long history of animosity toward the Clintons, which the MRC used to love him for.
It's that time of year again, and you know what that means (and not just the Slanties, which will arrive next week): Time for another WorldNetDaily "Operation Spike" list of the most "underreported stories" of the past year. But as happened last year, WND's list ignores certain facts that hint at why they deserved to be underreported.
Topping the list, as it did last year, was "developments moving U.S. and continent closer to a North American Union." In second place was the case of the Border Patrol agents convicted of "shooting an admitted drug smuggler as he fled across the border after smuggling into the U.S. a load of 750 pounds of marijuana in a van," a description that curiously omits the fact that the agents tried to cover up the shooting and that the person they shot was unarmed.
For the third-place entry, "Research refuting man-made global warming," WND cited "a lawsuit by a father, Stewart Dimmock, who claimed the film ['An Inconvenient Truth'] contained 'serious scientific inaccuracies, political propaganda and sentimental mush.' The British court pointed to 11 inaccuracies in the production." But as we noted (and WND has yet to note), Dimmock's lawsuit was backed by oil and mining interests, even denier Noel Sheppard has pointed out that the British court ruling found only nine inaccuracies, and also found that many of the claims made by the film were fully backed up by the weight of science.
In sixth place was Peter Paul's dubious accusations of "felonious fundraising" against Hillary Clinton that fail to mention (as WND frequently fails to do) that Paul is a convicted felon who's vainly trying to keep his butt out of prison after pleading guilty to his role in a $25 million stock fraud scheme.
And so on. WND should try not underreporting these stories itself -- you know, by telling its readers the entire truth -- before it accuses others of underreporting.
CNS' Sham Balance: Six 'Pro-Life Experts,' Zero Responses Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com has had a relapse in the sham-balance department, printing attacks without giving the targets of those attacks a real opportunity to respond.
A Jan. 8 article by Penny Starr quoted four "pro-life experts" asserting that Barack Obama's "pro-abortion stance make him a danger to the black community." At the end is the tag, "Calls to Sen. Obama's campaign and to the Rainbow Push Coalition for comment on this story were not returned by press time." It's not clear from the article why Starr felt that the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition could speak for Obama, other than Starr's search for a token liberal black group. (Starr also gets the name of a New Jersey city wrong; it's Montclair, not "Mt. Clair.")
Similarly, a Jan. 8 article by Pete Winn cited "two conservative pro-life leaders, both based in Michigan" to criticize Republican Mitt Romney's "near-universal health insurance plan" in Massachusetts created while he was governor, insisting that it covers, in the word of one "pro-life leader," "elective abortions -- that is, abortion on demand." While Winn quotes a "Massachusetts pro-life leader" saying that the state was ordered to pay for some abortions and that "normally many of these people would have their abortions provided for on the public welfare system by Medicaid," Winn allows another Michigan "pro-life leader" to contradict her. Winn does not explain why two people in Michigan are more knowledgable about laws in Massachusetts than the Massachusetts person he quotes.
At the end of the article is the tag, "Calls to the Romney campaign were not returned by press time."
As we've detailed, CNS has a tendency to "balance" lengthy attacks only by noting an attempt to contact the other side and never bothering to actually get that other side. Further, per CNS style, the term "pro-life" is used instead of "anti-abortion," and Obama is described as "pro-abortion" and not "pro-choice."
Kinsolving's Big Issue: Why Won't Hillary Take My Questions? Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a Jan. 8 WorldNetDaily column, Les Kinsolving has declared this to be "the big question" that presidential candidates "cower" from: "There have been repeated news reports that the senator from New York has often refused to take reporters questions. Do you believe this is appropriate for any candidate for our nation's highest office?"
Yes, Kinsolving has his elbow firmly on the pulse of the electorate. Nothing about Iraq or the economy; the real issue is whether Hillary takes questions from the press. Of course, given Kinsolving's anti-liberal, pro-conservative -- and just plain goofy -- reputation (not to mention his general pissiness when called on said goofiness), there's no good reason for her, or anyone else, to take him seriously.
But Kinsolving wasn't done:
The fact that she is so newsworthy as to be able to get away with this while a candidate begs the question as to what on earth could happen if she got elected president?
Can you imagine President Hillary either reducing presidential press conferences to one or two – or none – per annum?
And how long would it take the second Clinton administration to transfer the White House pressroom out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Kinsolving curiously fails to mention that President Bush held just 17 press conferences during his first term -- roughly just four a year. Does Kinsolving find this an acceptable number? We don't recall him complaining about it previously, let alone expressing his fear that Bush would "transfer the White House pressroom out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" as a next step.
Finkelstein Smears Edwards As 'Silky' Topic: NewsBusters
At NewsBusters, casual slurs of Democrats and liberals are normally limited to the commenters. So why is contributing editor Mark Finkelstein tossing them about?
Finkelstein headlined a Jan. 6 post "Silky Won't Pony Up on Populist Flip-Flop" -- "silky" being a commonconservativeslur of Edwards. This was followed up with a Jan. 8 post headlined "Mika: Silky's Turn to Cry?" (The hed was changed shortly thereafter to read "Mika: Edwards's Turn to Cry?" but the post's URL carries the original.) Finkelstein also throws in a reference to "the Breckster."
We expect that kind of stuff coming from your usual garden-variety conservative bloggers, but NewsBusters is a de facto mouthpiece of the multimillion-dollar Media Research Center -- indeed, we know of no disclaimer separating the opinions of MRC writers (other than NewsBusters commenters) from that of the MRC itself. Shouldn't it have somewhat higher standards?
Noel's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard must've been in a bad mood Monday, because he let loose with a couple of cranky NewsBusters posts.
One let fly a bile-filled fit of Clinton Derangement Syndrome by asserting that Hillary Clinton's display of emotion was calculated and that her standing in the polls meant that "it's time for the smartest woman in the world to choke up on camera, and tug at the heartstrings of folks that are easy prey for such passion plays." He has no evidence for this, of course.
The other revisits a previous attack, in which he bashed the Dallas Morning News for naming the illegal immigrant as its 2007 Texan of the Year. Sheppard adds nothing new to his attacks, declaring that the paper served up "deplorable excuses" defending its decision, namely that "editors equated the President with illegal immigrants."
CNS Runs More Attacks on Huckabee Without Response Topic: CNSNews.com
A Jan. 5 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr follows in the footsteps of fellow CNS staffer Susan Jones by repeating attacks by conservatives on Mike Huckabee, including some of the attacks Jones had documented the day before. Like Jones, Starr included no response from Huckabee to the attacks in her article (Jones had shunted Huckabee's response to a separate article).
So what, exactly, was the point of Starr's article? It's just an expansion of what Jones did a day earlier, though even less fair to Huckabee since there's no indication in Starr's article that Huckabee has responded to some of this criticism (Jones mishandled it by putting the response in a separate article, but at least it was there).
Speaking of Limp Noodles ... Topic: Media Research Center
Goodness. We seem to have hit a nerve.
A Jan. 6 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham goes after our criticism of his and Brent Bozell's anti-Hillary book, calling me a "hired gun" of Hillary Clinton since I work for Media Matters, "which was started at the urging of Hillary Clinton." Graham also calls me an "Arkansas toadie" of the Clintons. Ooh, snap! There's just a couple things wrong with these little digs, however:
1) ConWebWatch is editorially and financially separate from Media Matters. They don't tell me what to write, nor do they pay me to write it. Further, ConWebWatch existed long before the founding of Media Matters.
2) I did not move to Arkansas until 1998, nearly six years after the Clinton administration began, and worked for the next two years for a newspaper with an anti-Clinton editorial page. That's hardly anyone's definition of a good "Arkansas toadie."
The main part of Graham's criticism of my article involves my pointing out that he and Bozell failed to note, in accusing Hillary Clinton of lying about her role in the White House Travel Office firings, that independent counsel Robert Ray found that Clinton had made statements proven to be false, there was "insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that Clinton's statements were "knowingly false." Graham writes:
Krepel is playing the same old Not a Crook card to exonerate his heroine. We said Ray found her testimony to be factually false. He notes that Ray declined to prosecute, citing "insufficient evidence." The Clintons and their Arkansas toadies like Krepel athletically raise the bar, implying that the Clintons didn’t lie unless they were indicted for it. But our goal in the book was not to establish that she should have been indicted. It was the simple fact that she lied when she claimed to be uninvolved in the Travel Office firings.
Well, one definition of a lie is making a statement that is knowingly false -- exactly what Ray said there was a lack of evidence to "prove beyond a reasonable doubt." if Ray can't prove Clinton was a liar, why is Graham insisting she is?
And if we're "rais[ing] the bar" by "implying that the Clintons didn’t lie unless they were indicted for it" -- a concept the MRC is not unfamiliar with; in October 2005, MRC writer Brent Baker declared that Rove's non-indictment in the Valerie Plame leak case was a "vindication" for him -- Bozell has too. One thing Graham doesn't address in his criticism is the fact that Ray's report determined "The Travel Office employees served at the pleasure of President Bill Clinton, and they were subject to discharge without cause." That's exactly the same argument Bozell used to defend the firings of several U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration. Why is that argument permissible for Bush but not for Clinton?
Graham also notes that "our goal in the book was not to establish that she should have been indicted," adding later, "Our book isn’t claiming Hillary should be behind bars." But he then bashes Ray for "declined to prosecute the Clintons on anything," sugesting that Ray used the "political calcucation" that "that the Clintons and their media friends would punish him severely for any indictment," which would affect his 2002 Senate campaign in New Jersey. Graham ignores the obvious: that Ray declined to prosecute the Clintons because there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
Sounds to us like Graham clearly thinks a certain somebody should have been indicted.
Graham accused us of using "limp noodle[s]" to attack his book. But we would argue that Graham served up a whole batch of overcooked pasta by bashing us for engaging in the same behavior he and his co-workers engage in.