The MRC's Own 'News' Operation Fails Bozell's Test Of News Operations Topic: Media Research Center
During a Dec. 13 Fox Business appearance (apparently he couldn't get on Fox News proper), Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell huffed:
Look at CNN's audience. It’s collapsed. It's a worldwide network and it can't get 750,000 people in the United States of America. Its credibility has collapsed. The networks have collapsed. And it should collapse. If they are not going to report the news, if they are not going to investigate any story, if they are not going to tell the truth, I hope it does collapse.
The "news" he is demanding that CNN report, mind you, is not about the Ukraine shenanigans that got President Trump impeached -- it's Hunter Biden's deal with Burisma. He went on to rant that "no one thinking clearly or honestly is going to deny that the only reason Burisma got this guy on the payroll at $50,000 a month is because his last name was Biden. And everyone knows that." Never mind that the same question can also be posed about his own son, David, who's running the MRC-linked activist group For America. would he be there if his dad wasn't in charge of the entire operation?
There's another bit of hypocrisy going on here: Bozell's claim that if CNN is going to investigate any story, if they are not going to tell the truth, I hope it does collapse." If Bozell is so concerned about news organizations that don't investigate stories and don't report the truth, all he has to do is look down the hall at MRC headquarters at the "news" organization he runs, CNSNews.com.
On Dec. 14, WND stole a post from fake-news generator Gateway Pundit:
A 14-year-old student in Hamilton County, Florida, was hospitalized after being brutally attacked by multiple classmates on the schoolbus for wearing a Trump hat to school.
The family of the student, who has not been publicly identified, has now hired a lawyer and released a video of the attack.
Earlier in the day, the student also had milk poured over his head.
As it turned out, that basically wasn't true. The school district where the alleged incident took place stated that not only was there "no evidence" the student was wearing his Trump hat at the time of the assault, but that "The incident began with a verbal altercation between two students that escalated when additional students became involved." Meanwhile, the local sheriff's office added that there was no evidence of a hate crime in the assault, though several juveniles were charged with battery as a result of the alleged incident.
Further, as Media Matters reported, the Twitter account on which news of the alleged assault first surfaced has also promoted far-right QAnon conspiracy theories, and it changed its story about the incident -- first claiming that "8 black kids" assaulted the boy, later changing it to "two girst and 3 boys."
But WND wasn't about to let the fact that the claim isn't true get in the way of a good story. The next day, it published an article by Jared Harris of the Western Journal pooh-poohing the evidence proving the story wrong and clinging to the conspiracy:
Despite appalling video evidence, officials say the brutal pummeling of a young pro-Trump boy does not meet the criteria for a hate crime.
The savage beating spread like wildfire earlier this week as conservatives and even liberals were shocked by the ferocity of it. The clip can be seen here.
While the mother claims the brutality was over her son's support of President Donald Trump, officials have only given those behind the attack a virtual slap on the wrist with misdemeanor charges.
"An investigation has been conducted," the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office wrote on Facebook, "and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office has filed charges on five juveniles for First Degree misdemeanor battery.
Hamilton County School District Superintendent Rex Mitchell released a statement on the attack Friday, seemingly dismissing it as an "altercation between students," instead of labeling it what it appeared to be on the video -- a group ganging up on a single boy at the back of a school bus.
According to Mitchell, the school district's investigation found no evidence that the boy's pro-Trump hat caused the ruthless attack.
"The incident began with a verbal altercation between two students that escalated when additional students became involved," Mitchell wrote.
"In addition to the video that was posted online which was recorded by a student, the school district reviewed the bus video which depicted, not only the altercation, but all events prior to the altercation and its conclusion."
Since the video seems to begin halfway through the fight, there's no way to tell how the conflict started or what it was over. The date of the new video is unclear, making it hard to determine when it happened in relation to the original clip.
Harris did not report the fact that the school district found no evidence the Trump hat played a role in the assault, nor did he report that the first account of the alleged assault was false or that it came from a QAnon-linked Twitter account.
WND doesn't seem to understand that simply finding a different source for the fake news it publishes doesn't address its credibility problems.
MRC Lionizes YouTube Videomaker PewDiePie, Is Silent On His History of Offensive Content Topic: Media Research Center
For some reason, the Media Research Center is enamored with YouTube videomaker PewDiePie -- we've already highlighted how it's trying to portray him as a champion of politically incorrect humor while hiding his history of far-right sympathies. Now it's trying to portray him as a "free speech" advocate of some kind. Alexander Hall wrote in a Dec. 16 post:
YouTube’s Vice President and Global Head of Trust & Safety Matt Halprin released a blog on Wednesday, Dec. 11, titled “An update to our harassment policy.” Halprin proclaimed in the blog that YouTube would be taking a harder stance on “malicious insults,” “veiled threats” via simulated violence and “hate speech.” Content creators ranging from gamers like PewDiePie to conservatives like Steven Crowder across the political spectrum saw this vague and slippery update as potentially damning for the platform’s future.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie on YouTube, hosts one of the largest channels on the platform. He blasted YouTube’s harassment policy update in a recent video, stating, "The thing I've learned about YouTube's policies is that it doesn't matter what they say. What matters is how they enforce it."
Content creators have warned about a potential flaw in the new harassment policy update, suggesting that old content that has already been posted and allowed to remain by the social media platform in accordance with previous YouTube policies may now be retroactively removed.
“Why retroactively take down videos?” PewDiePie asked. “If you’re gonna make a new policy change, then go from there. Don't go back in old videos to say, ‘Actually, this one, this one bad!’ What does that fix?”
In portraying PewDiePie only as a "gamer," Hall didn't mention any of the guy's content he might have to worry about getting removed -- he has, after all, put up content described as racist, insensitive and anti-Semitic and got a shout-out from the perpetrator of the New Zealand mosque massacre. Hall also failed to mention that Crowder is best known for his rampant homophobia (which the MRC has defended) than being any sort of "conservative."
In a Dec. 30 post, Hall lionized PewDiePie as a "YouTube influencer" and "a leading content creator on YouTube for years" and touted how he "questioned the future of the entire platform and its relationship with its creators. Again, Hall failed to mention the offensive subjects of that content; instead he made sure to hype how PewDiePie is "the only solo creator to pass the 100 million subscriber mark" and presents his view as authoritative and not at all trollish: "As a leading creator he has watched a widening gulf between YouTube’s corporate leadership and its community of grassroots creators who made it a thriving platform in the first place."
CNS Managing Editor Still Doing Copy-And-Paste Defense of Trump Topic: CNSNews.com
We've detailed how CNSNews.com has leaned on Republican copy-and-paste defenses of President Trump's phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Managing editor Michael W. Chapman took another stab at it in a Dec. 17 article:
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) challenged the skewed reporting of CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, calling out his misrepresentation of President Trump's July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine and noting that what Tapper "said is completely untrue." Paul later added, "you guys are not being honest with the facts here."
CNN's Tapper has made it abundantly clear that he believes the Democrats' version of the July 25 phone call, often asserting that Trump was calling on the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden in exchange for foreign aid. Tapper calls this interpretation "a fact."
However, as Sen. Paul explained, it is not a fact. If you read the transcript in context, Trump first asked about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and then asked about alleged corruption involving Hunter Biden, who was put on the board of a Ukrainian gas company in 2014, the Burisma Group, which paid him a reported $50,000 a month for five years (until April 2019), totaling at least $3 million.
Focusing on corruption from 2016, Hunter Biden -- who has a long history of drug abuse -- and Joe Biden's demand (in late 2015) that a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating corruption be fired before loan guarantees to Ukraine were okayed is not an unreasonable interpretation of the phone call.
During the July 25, 2019 telephone call, President Trump alluded to corruption in Ukraine, possible interference with the computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and possible corruption involving Hunter Biden and perhaps Joe Biden.
This was followed by a copy-and-past transcript of the Tapper-Paul exchange with selective bits from Paul bolded, a selective excerpt from the Trump-Zelensky phone call (like his reporter Susan Jones, Chapman apparently thinks Zelensky's first name is too difficult to spell to be included in his article) and a transcript of Biden's statement that he got the Ukranian prosecutor fired.
Despite Chapman's protestations, it is increasingly clear that Trump intended to link U.S. aid to Ukraine to an announced investigation of Hunter Biden (whose purported "long history of drug abuse" is irrelevant to this scandal). It's since been revealed that Trump ordered military aid to Ukraine to be put on hold less than two hours after his phone call with Zelensky, and newly released emails show that the order to block aid to Ukraine came directly from Trump.
Further, Chapman's claim that Joe Biden demanded the firing of a "Ukrainian prosecutor investigating corruption" is false; the prosecutor was fired because he was not investigating corruption, and the international community joined Biden in this demand.
So not only has Chapman's article not aged well as his boilerplate defense of Trump crumbles, it contains a blatantly false statement as well. Not a good look for a "news" operation.
MRC Intern Melts Down Over Colbert Song Parody Topic: Media Research Center
For as much as the Media Research Center loves to mock those who fact-check right-wing satire sites like the Babylon Bee (though, as those fact-checkers point out, right-wingers have a bad habit of treating Babylon Bee items as fact), it can't stop freaking out about jokes.
As an adjunct to the MRC's defense of conservative journalist James Rosen after Nancy Pelosi once again called him out for who he is, Aiden Jackson had a freakout over something comedian Stephen Colbert did, under the headline "Colbert PRAISES Nancy Pelosi in Bizarre Video":
Everyone should find a person that looks at them the way Stephen Colbert looks at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. On Thursday’s Late Show, Colbert did everything short of throwing rose petals at Pelosi’s feet as he opened his show with a fawning video tribute to his idol.
Hardly inexperienced in the practice of creating nauseating segments to appease his ultra-left audience, the music video salute to Pelosi may take the cake for worst of the worst. If you thought the “impeachment tree” was egregious…proceed to look at the clip below with caution.
The song begins with a snippet of CNN’s Jim Sciutto alerting his audience of Pelosi’s decision to move forward with impeachment: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing to the country and to the world that Articles of Impeachment against President Trump will proceed.” In an effort to create the image of a ‘strong woman,' a soundbite from Pelosi’s press conference then cuts in as she says, “Don't mess with me.”
To a wildly applauding audience, the video proceeded to cast Pelosi as a heroic woman who has been tasked with saving the country from peril (something that Colbert clearly believes to be the case):
Since Jackson is an MRC intern and, therefore, apparently a young person, she apparently missed the fact that Colbert's video is not particularly "bizarre" but, in fact, was a song parody of the kind he does regularly -- in this case, of Jim Croce's 1972 hit "You Don't Mess Around With Jim." Apparently, nobody else at the MRC apprised her of this fact (or were similarly ignorant about '70s music), which might have saved her from embarrassment over this meltdown.
Otherwise, Jackson is showing herself to be a student of the Curtis Houck School of Needlessly Vicious Partisan Hyperbole, declaring Colbert's humor to be "nauseating" and his audience "ultra-left."
Makes fact-checks of the Babylon Bee look rather tame in comparison, don't you think?
A couple weeks later, after the House voted for Trump's impeachment, the humorless Jackson lashed out at Colbert again, complaining that he "did not conceal his elation for President Trump’s impending impeachment in any way. His exuberance was uncontainable; so much so that the show began with a “merry impeachment” jingle sung by Pelosi, Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler characters." Jackson closed by declaring: "The impeachment of a duly elected President of the United States should be handled with grave importance and the utmost seriousness. Colbert’s excitement is telling of his disregard for the Constitution he purports to be protecting."
Making jokes about Trump is now a violation of the Constitution? When did that happen?
WND's Brown Is Wrong About The 'Charlottesville Lie' Topic: WorldNetDaily
Michael Brown spent his Dec. 23 WorldNetDaily column complaining about the "power of the lie":
Speaking of the hatred that united the Jersey City shooters and the synagogue shooters in Poway and Pittsburgh, Biden then blamed President Trump for this hateful climate.
He said, "After Charlottesville, instead of condemning a naked display of hatred, Trump assigned a moral equivalence between those streaming through the night with torches, chanting anti-Semitic bile – and the courageous neighbors and activists who stood against them. He gave license and safe harbor to white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK."
He continued, "As I said after Charlottesville, we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. And, it's why I am running for president."
The only problem is that Trump did not say that "those streaming through the night with torches, chanting anti-Semitic bile" were very fine people.
To the contrary, on Aug. 12, 2017, the day of the Charlottesville protests, he said, "I think there is blame on both sides.
"You had some very bad people in that group" (referring to those protesting the removal of a confederate statue). "But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."
Then, two days later, Trump issued a categorical statement, saying, "Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups."
How on earth could anyone get this wrong? And how on earth, now more than two years later, could former Vice President Biden's claim that, "He gave license and safe harbor to white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK"?
Read Trump's words again; then read Biden's words again. This is willful misrepresentation.
Not only so, but the next day, on Aug. 15, at a wide-ranging press conference, Trump said again that "we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence."
And in answer to another question, he explained exactly what he meant by the "very fine people." He said, "You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name."
That's who he was talking about.
Well, no. As we pointed out the last time someone claimed this, the group that was protesting the removal of the Confederate statue and Robert E. Lee park renaming was a group calling itself American Warrior Revolution, which considers itself a militia and later effectively blaming liberal counterprotester Heather Heyer for her own death in getting mowed down by a car driven by white supremacist James Fields Jr.
In other words, what Brown is calling the "Charlottesville Lie" isn't a lie at all. Not that Trump defender Brown will ever admit it:
He could not have made himself clearer. And anyone with an open heart and mind – really, anyone who simply wanted to know the truth – would understand exactly what he was saying.
What is so frightening is that people – millions of people – believe the lie. And they believe it to the point that, if you're white and you voted for Trump, then you are, by default, a white nationalist, a racist.
Of course, Trump's cardinal sin was calling out hatred on the left as well as on the right, speaking against both neo-Nazis and antifa.
And, given his comments in the past about Mexicans and Muslims, which were either exaggerated or taken out of context, it was all too easy to create the Charlottesville Lie.
May God help our nation pursue the truth before a web of lies so entangles us that we can no longer find our way out.
Funny, we don't recall Brown ever holding Trump accountable for the web of lies he has spun over the years.
MRC Helps Eric Trump Lie About Wash. Post's Readership Topic: Media Research Center
On Dec. 13, the Media Research Center's NewsBusters Twitter account tweeted out a graphic with the MRC's logo and a quote from President's Trump's son, Eric Trump:
How few people read The Washington Post? You know who reads The Washington Post? The people in the Beltway, right. And universally they're the most hated people in America by Americans.
The tweet added, "Eric Trump doesn't mince words." But he-- and, thus, the MRC -- is lying.
The Washington Post stated in April 2019: "The Washington Post recorded 86.6 million unique visitors in March 2019, according to comScore. This is a 5.5 percent increase month-over-month. The Post’s mobile audience also grew, increasing nearly 6 percent month-over-month to 71.8 million monthly unique visitors."
Now, 86.6 million unique visitors is not a "few" by any stretch of the imagination.Given that the population of the entire Washington metro area is a little over 6 million -- only about one-third whom live inside the Beltway -- we can safely assume that the Post's readership extends well beyond the DC region.
In other words, only a small fraction of the Post's readership is inside the Beltway. But since when is the MRC interested in promoting facts when they contradict its anti-media agenda?
CNS' Jones Privileges Another Bogus Claim By Trump Topic: CNSNews.com
We know that CNSNews.com writer Susan Jones is a loyal Trump stenographer, dutifully transcribing every utterance from the president's mouth without regard to the veracity of the claims. nJones once again failed in fact-checking Trump in a Dec. 11 article.
Jones began by gushing, "Clearly enjoying himself at a rally in Hershey, Pa., Tuesday night, President Trump lauded House passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which Democrats delayed for months, until the day they announced two articles of impeachment against Trump." In addition to uncritically repeating Trump's evidence-free conspiracy theory that Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats waited to announce the trade deal until the same day a House vote on Trump's impeachment was announced because "it plays down impeachment because they're embarrassed by the impeachment," Jones also repeated Trump's assertion that "our poll numbers have gone through the roof because of her stupid impeachment."
In an apparent attempt to bolster the claim, Jones embedded a link to a Real Clear Politics running list of polls -- which explains nothing, since it is just a list of polls and their results and offers no tracking. By contrast, actual news organizations that do actual analysis found Trump's claim less than factual.
The Washington Post reported that Trump's approval rating actually decreased since the impeachment inquiry was announced, while support for impeachment showed "a big surge since the inquiry began — and relative flatness since." Even a Fox News poll taken shortly before Trump uttered his claim shows polling numbers on impeachment to be stable, with Vox noting that this mirrors other polling, while "one thing they do not show is the surge of support that Trump has been hyping as Democrats have moved toward impeaching him."
But fact-checking was not on Jones' agenda -- stenography was. She went on to rehash all his worn attack lines bashing impeachment and the media.
MRC Again Defends Conservative Journalist Who Tangled With Pelosi Topic: Media Research Center
We've previously noted how defensive the Media Research Center is of right-wing reporter -- formerly of Fox News and currently with Sinclair Broadcasting -- when Nancy Pelosi calls out his bias. Well, Pelosi did it again, and the MRC defended him again after Rosen followed another Republican talking point by asking Pelosi if she wants President Trump impeached because she hates him.
Nicholas Fondacaro unsurprisingly took Rosen's side, pejoratively declaring that Pelosi's "anger flared as she lashed out in response (something they would have condemned President Trump for)," going on to complain about media coverage of the incident: "When President Trump slammed the press, it was a destructive attack on the First Amendment, our institutions, and our democracy. But when Pelosi did it, it was considered her just flexing her power."
Curtis Houck kept up the pejorative language, attacking Pelosi's "lashing out" at Rosen and complaining that "the liberal media decided to play it up as a testament to Pelosi’s 'stunning' leadership."
Alex Christy grumbled that CNN "explicitly took the side of a politician railing against a journalist. Because the politician was liberal, and the journalist works for a conservative-owned set of TV stations. The words 'Jim Acosta' never crossed their lips." At least Christy admitted that Sinclair is conservative-leaning, which is progress. Of course, if Acosta had asked such a question of a Republican politician, the MRC would have lost its collective mind.
Krstine Marsh also bashed Pelosi for "angrily lecturing" and "lashing out at" Rosen, but she did concede he's a conservative reporter. She went on to huff: "This isn’t the first time Pelosi has been hostile to Rosen. Just two weeks ago, Pelosi bashed Rosen as “Mr. Republican Talking Points,” at another presser." Marsh refused to admit that characterization is accurate.
While CNN host Jake Tapper has defended journalists on numerous occasions over the course of his career, he chose not to during Thursday night’s CNN town hall with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, allowing her to jab Sinclair Broadcast Group as not a real news organization and James Rosen as not a real journalist.
In other words, it was more of the route he took toward Dana Loesch and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) during the Parkland show trial.
Tim Graham complained that "Supposedly right-leaning New York Timescolumnist David Brooks once again demonstrated it's hilarious he's supposed to represent a more conservative point of view in the NPR and PBS week-in-review roundtables. He paid unctuous tribute on both networks Friday night to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's slashing attack on Sinclair reporter James Rosen, going on to whine: "NPR offered no audio of Rosen, or the point he was trying to make -- which was Republicans claimed the impeachment attempt was because Democrats hated Trump. Neither did PBS. Putting reporters in context isn't important when it's time to praise Nancy Pelosi as she boasts of her devout Catholicism."
Marsh returned to be appalled that comedian Stephen Colbert made comedy out of the situation, huffily adding: "Perhaps someone should inform his audience that Rosen was one of the conservative reporters who was spied on by the Obama administration. In the age where there is never enough outrage from the left over press freedom, Colbert sure doesn’t seem to care about that, if the journalist isn't beholden to the Democratic Party."
If Rosen wasn't beholden to President Trump and Republicans, the MRC wouldn't give a damn about him.
CNS Wants You To Believe That 'Tabloid Media' -- Not Conservatives -- Pushed Hillary-Is-Lesbian Smears Topic: CNSNews.com
Writing in a Dec. 5 article about an interview Hillary Clinton did with Howard Stern in which she "denied that she had ever had a lesbian affair and stressed that she really likes men," CNSNews.com managing editor Michael W. Chapman stated that "Over the years there have been several unfounded claims, mostly in the tabloid media, that Hillary Clinton is a homosexual."
Well, that's not exactly true: those claims were largely pushed by Chapman's fellow conservatives.
Conservative Clinton-haters -- not the tabloids -- have pushed this never-substantiated rumor for as long as Hillary has been in the national public eye. Former Bill Clinton campaign aide turned conservative Clinton-hater Dick Morris has long promoted the idea that Hillary is a closet lesbian, as has Clinton-hating conservative author Edward Klein. Roger Stone, Larry Klayman and Matt Drudge have pushed it. As recently as 2013, radio host and Fox News contributor Sandy Rios -- who signed a letter pushed by CNS' owner, the Media Research Center, alleging that Facebook was censoring conservative content -- argued that Clinton's expressed support for same-sex marriage hinted at her sexual identity. Conservative websites were pushing these rumors during the 2016 presidential campaign.
These people are not working for the tabloids; they made their money in the conservative movement.
As Raw Story explained, right-wingers insist on portraying Hillary as a secret lesbian because she is a powerful woman who doesn't conform to the conservative stereotype of a female, despite the fact that she "has been married to the same man for her entire adult life while raising a successful daughter."
This is not an new story, by the way; Hillary has been denying this since at least 2007. Where was CNS' story on that then?
There is more reporting on this issue Chapman could have done, but didn't. He probably thinks Hillary is a secret lesbian too.
MRC Promotes Jordan Peterson's So-Called 'Free Speech' Website (Where The MRC Has Its Own Space) Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center -- as part of its failed narrative that conservatives are being uniquely discriminated against on social media -- spent 2019 touting right-wing motivational speaker Jordan Peterson's new social media platform. Alexander Hall -- who has previously touted Peterson as "the famous academic who has made a career out of intellectually sparring with political-correctness" -- gushed in June:
An upcoming free speech platform promises to provide users the best features of other social media, but without the censorship.
The subscription based “anti-censorship” platform “Thinkspot” is being created by popular psychologist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. It’s being marketed as a free speech alternative to payment processors like Patreon in that it will “monetize creators” and also provide a social media alternative to platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
Peterson discussed Thinkspot with podcaster Joe Rogan on June 9, emphasizing a radically pro-free speech Terms of Service. He described freedom as the “central” aspect saying, “once you're on our platform we won't take you down unless we’re ordered to by a US court of law.”
That will be a profound contrast to platforms that ban users for “misgendering” people who identify as trans, or for tweeting “learn to code” at fired journalists.
When October rolled around, Hall breathlessly declared: "BREAKING: Beta Testing for Jordan Peterson’s Free Speech Platform Thinkspot Goes Live!" He did, however, disclose that the MRC has a vested interest in the project:
Dr Jordan B Peterson’s meteoric rise in popularity has started intense intellectual conversations on topics from free speech to gender politics. Now, after seeing free speech threatened by Big Tech censorship, he worked with experts to create his own platform for people to have just those kinds of discussions.
MRC Techwatch, which covered the creation of this new platform, was selected as one of the first users.
One has to wonder if Hall's earlier piece, plus his predeliction to grant Peterson the "Dr." honorific and his middle initial, prompted Peterson to give the MRC that early access. Hall wasn't done gushing, though:
The main page of the website shows a menu of intellectual commentators to follow, podcasts to listen to, and thought-provoking articles to read.
One of the features shown is that users can purchase access to dozens of e-Books ranging from Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life to the Communist Manifesto or Little Women, and be able to converse with other users about the ideas in various passages. Users can also annotate podcasts, adding their comments to specific times in the podcast.
Hall did concede that ThinkSpot isn't as "free speech" friendly as he portrayed, admitting that the site "may remove any content or comments from contributors or users at any time if we deem the content is in violation of law or otherwise violates these terms."
Hall hasn't said anything about ThinkSpot since then -- perhaps because the reality of Peterson's website is not nearly as rosy as he portrayed.
Right Wing Watch delved into ThinkSpot and declared it "an absolute mess that is ripe for disaster" -- and, essentially, a money-making scheme for Peterson. Users are expected to pay $30 a year for basic content, but must pay $120 a year to access "exclusive" content from Peterson. Those e-books Hall touted are only functional within ThinkSpot, limiting their usefulness. Gizmodo similarly sees ThinkSpot as a Peterson cash grab.
You're not going to hear about any of that from Hall and the MRC, though -- they have a vested interest in making sure Peterson doesn't come off as a grifter.
Cashill started off his Dec. 18 WorldNetDaily column by complaining that federal judge Emmet Sullivan "forcefully rejected the court filings of attorney Sidney Powell in her attempt to have the guilty plea of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn thrown out" -- Cashill didn't explain that Flynn and Powell were attempting to relitigate a case in which Flynn had already pleaded guilty to lying to federal invesigators -- and then claimed that Sullivan "Sullivan has a history of suppressing unwanted information" regarding Seth Rich. Invoking fellow right-wing conspiracy theorist Matt Couch, Cashill asserted:
Couch and his team at America First Investigations were sued, as Couch writes, "for seeking the truth in the unsolved murder of Seth Conrad Rich."
According to Couch, it was Sullivan who signed the sealed order preventing him and his team from discussing the fruits of their investigation.
In fact, Couch is being sued not for "seeking the truth" but for defamation by Aaron Rich, brother of Seth Rich, after repeatedly promoting the apparently false claim that Aaron and Seth Rich were paid by Wikileaks for their purported involvement in leaking Democratic mails. The lawsuit has already resulted in the Washington Times retracting a column it published pushing the claim, written by right-wing retired Navy Adm. James Lyons.
Like a good conspiracy theorist, Cashill dismissed the fact-based claim that it was Russian hackers who got into the DNC servers and leaked the email contents:
If the Russians did play a part – highly unlikely – the media did not want to know and neither apparently did Judge Sullivan. He put information found in the discovery phase of the lawsuit under a sealed order.
"That means that whatever we find in our discovery as a defense (bank records, emails, eBay records, PayPal records, phone records, autopsy) and things we are seeking in our investigations can never be talked about publicly," writes Couch.
In fact, discovery has not been sealed. As a motion filed by Aaron Rich's attorney states:
Defendant Couch states in his blog post, "Something that we haven’t talked a lot about is the fact that anything found in the discovery phase (discovery goes both ways, and we have nothing to hide) has been sneakily put under a sealed order." ... Of course, no judge has ordered that discovery in this case be sealed — this Court has entered the protective order that all parties (including Defendant Couch) requested it enter and to which all parties (including Defendant Couch) stipulated. Dkt. 22; Dkt. 29. The only order bearing Judge Sullivan’s signature in this case, Dkt. 2, did not seal discovery but rather exempted Mr. Rich from the obligation of listing his address in the Complaint, as is evident from the publicly filed Complaint that redacts solely Mr. Rich’s address, Dkt. 3.
It appears that Couch is lying about discovery being sealed, and Cashill simply played along. That doesn't exactly help WND's quest for credibility.
VULGAR: MRC's Houck Calls CNN's Avlon A 'Prick' For Ciriticizing Trump Topic: Media Research Center
For all of its lecturing about non-right-wing media being insufficiently "family friendly" (for, among other things, acknowledging that LGBT people exist), the Media Research Center is no stranger to offensive vulgarity. Take, for example, a Dec. 17 post by Curtis Houck that currently carries the headline "Smug: CNN’s Avlon Says Trump Letter Will Cause Questions About His ‘Mental State’."
But as the item's URL makes clear, the word "smug" wasn't originally in that headline; it replaced the word "prick" -- which, as we all know, is a vulgarity to describe the penis.
While the headline on NewsBusters was changed, the reposting of Houck's item at MRCTV retains "prick."
The post itself offers no clue as to why Houck would desperately invoke such a tired vulgarity -- or why he apparently thought better of it and tried to change it -- but he was in full lecture mode, hurling every condescending descriptor he could think of at Avlon for daring to point out the unhinged nature of President Trump's letter to Nancy Pelosi:
Who died and made CNN senior political analyst/supercilious wingnut John Avlon the bearer of what’s right, wrong, partisan, and non-partisan? Well, apparently his smug, ruling class attitude and lectures to flyover country was on-brand for CNN and boss Jeffrey Zucker.
On Tuesday afternoon’s CNN Newsroom, Avlon proclaimed that the President’s “embarrassing” letter responding to his impending impeachment would cause Republican Senators to raise questions about his “mental state.” Ah, so Avlon decided to play psychiatrist!
And for good measure, Avlon reveled in the claim by liberal media-pleasing Republicans Jeff Flake and Mike Murphy that between 30 or 35 Republicans would vote to impeach Trump if the process were done in secret. So, that shows you who Avlon thinks was an authoritative voice on the “right.”
He also lectured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as disgraceful for refusing to hear more witnesses and information at the Senate trial, but thought differently in 1998. Avlon alluded to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s change from 1998 and 1999, but when you’re a hack like Avlon, liberal flips are minor inconveniences.
It's so entertaining when conervative activists like Houck attack liberals for having a "smug, ruling class attitude" -- as if his job at a prominent Washington political organization doesn't make him part of a certain "ruling class" or hasn't given him a attitude so smug that he feels entitled to hurl vulgar insults at those with whom he disagrees.
Since he is managing editor of NewsBusters, Houck presumably plays a role in setting the website's tone, so his superiors such as Brenet Bozell and Tim Graham apparently have no problem with the increasingly offensive direction that tone is taking. After all, he was managing editor for at least part of the time that Tom Blumer was inserting white nationalist links into his NewsBusters posts, and it was only when others caught the links that they were deleted and Blumer was fired -- with no apparent discipline handed out to anyone at the MRC who should have caught those offensive links beforehand and saved the organization from embarassment.
Houck's -- and the MRC's -- hatred and intolerance for media people who are not unquestionigly pro-Trump is becoming less veiled and more vicious. So pardon us if we think their concerns about "family-friendly" media ring more than a little hollow.
CNS Parrots Cruz's Pushing of Ukraine Conspiracy Theories Topic: CNSNews.com
Susan Jones was in full stenography mode in a Dec. 9 CNSNews.com article:
Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," almost laughed at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) when Cruz told him he believes Ukraine did try to influence the 2016 election.
Cruz said the liberal media is complicit in suggesting that only Russia interfered.
After Cruz cited how "The sitting ambassador from Ukraine wrote an op-ed blasting Donald Trump during the election season" was evidence that "Ukraine blatantly interfered in our election." Jones added:
Todd indicated that Ukraine ambassador was upset about Trump's comments about Ukraine and Crimea.
"So," Cruz told Todd, "You're saying they had disagreements with Donald Trump and they wanted Hillary Clinton to get elected."
Todd responded that an op-ed by the Ukrainian ambassador is nothing compared with what the Russians did.
Todd said Russia is trying to use the story of Ukraine interference to deflect attention from its own activities:
Because Jones was so in the stenography zone, she failed to explain further what "Trump's comments about Ukraine and Crimea" or "what the Russians did."
According to the op-ed by Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly cited by Cruz -- the only evidence he cited to back up his claim that Ukraine "blatantly interfered" in the election -- Trump was suggesting he might give Russia a pass for its seizure of Ukranian land in Crimea. As Todd accurately pointed out (but Jones failed to give him credit for), an op-ed is not remotely equivalent to the Russian campaign of systematic interference in the election such as hacking Democratic National Committee servers, which ultimately served to get Trump elected.
Jones also failed to note that Todd was similarly correct in pointing out that Cruz insisting that there's no difference between Russian election interference and Ukrainian interference serves Russia's interests. Former White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill testified during the impeachment hearings that this "is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services."
Despite CNS' mission statement to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story," it has little interest in doing so, and that's certainly not Jones did here.
AIM Still Pretending Trump Isn't A Liar Topic: Accuracy in Media
Trump defender Brian McNicoll complained in a Dec. 11 Accuracy in Media post:
Even as polls show Americans have not bought into Democrats’ attempts to impeach President Donald Trump and the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s report confirms most, if not all, of Republicans’ worst suspicions about the conduct of the FBI, CNN pushed forward Wednesday with a story that asserted Trump is escaping punishment for his misdeeds through compulsive lying.
“Donald Trump is looking to survive impeachment the same way he built his powerful presidency – by assaulting facts and seeking to expand the limitations of the office he is accused of abusing,” Stephen Collinson wrote in a story headlined, “Trump assaults facts to survive impeachment.”
Collinson then quoted Garry Kasparov, the Russian former world chess champion and Trump critic, comparing Trump to Putin. “’I always call Putin merchant of doubt,’” Collinson quoted Kasparov saying. “’But now seeing what’s happening in America. It’s when just Republicans managed to turn the whole political process in this alternative reality. It’s like a post-truth world.’”
Trump started lying from the moment he took office, Collinson said, referring to the controversy over the size of his inaugural crowd and citing the Washington Post’s largely debunked data base of “false and misleading claims” by the president, which now totals more than 13,400.
“Trump’s incessant torrent of attacks – on Twitter and on camera, amplified by conservative media outlets – has helped to insulate him against the consequences of his actions,” Collinson wrote, not noting that it was not conservative outlets who cleared him of collusion and obstruction of justice in the Mueller probe, but Hillary Clinton-donor lawyers who spent $40 million, interviewed 500 witnesses and came away with nothing.
McNicoll's post is based on a false premise. At no point did Collinson accuse Trump of "compulsive lying" -- the words "lie" or "lying" appear nowhere in his CNN piece. One can assume Trump is deliberately spreading false and misleading claims, but intent is very hard to prove, so it can only be accurately stated that Trump is making false and misleading claims.
Further, McNicoll's claim that the Post's list of false or misleading Trump claims is "largely debunked" links to a piece he wrote in June -- which, as we pointed out at the time, features lame defenses of Trump's bogus claims (such as insisting that whole or current dollars is a "credible metric" when comparing spending from two disparate time periods) and engaging in Trump-style cherry-picking.
And Mueller hardly "came away with nothing" as a result of his investigation; there was plenty of evidence that Trump obstructed justice and some evidence regarding a conspiracy to collaborate with Russians, though Department of Justice policy taht presidents cannot be charged with a crime while in office kept Mueller from determining whether a crime was committed.
It seems McNicoll is still in denial that Trump is a "compulsive liar."