Non-MRC ConWeb Reaction Mixed on Coulter Topic: The ConWeb
We know that the Media Research Center is havingproblems being critical of Ann Coulter's "faggot" remark. How's the rest of the ConWeb doing?
WorldNetDaily is retreating to the same equivocation mode as NewsBusters. The first original WND article on Coulter's remark is a March 5 column by Tom Flannery whose criticism of Coulter is mostly sarcastic and portrays her as a victim of political correctness:
There are some things you just can't say, not even in jest. And at the top of that list right now is anything derogatory about the "gay" lifestyle or, worse yet, anything that is considered a slur against homosexuals, a protected class of people with special rights which entitle them to live free from all offense.
Flannery claimed that there was a "larger cultural context in which she made her remarks regarding Edwards" and that "the media once more ignored the salient argument she was making to focus instead on the sensational aspect of the language she used." He added that "the same liberal elites who are calling for the public condemnation of Ann Coulter have been largely silent about John Edwards' anti-Christian bloggers."
NewsMax, meanwhile, has posted wirearticles calling Coulter's remark a "slur," but its lead article right now is an article that regurgitates a NewsBusters item on Bill Maher's remarks about Dick Cheney. That item, by the way, falsely portrays Maher's 2001 remarks about the 9/11 hijackers: "Maher got in trouble once before with his televised comments. After the 9/11 attacks, Maher said on his ABC show "Politically Incorrect" that the hijackers were 'warriors' and not 'cowards.'"
In fact, as even the NewsBusters post got right, it was Dinesh D'Souza -- whose new blame-America book NewsMax hasflacked -- who said the hijackers were "warriors," to which Maher responded: "We (the United States) have been cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."
At Accuracy in Media, however, the tone is much different. In a March 5 column, Cliff Kincaid tore into Coulter, calling her remark "[t]he political equivalent of Britney Spears shaving the hair off her head," adding that "Coulter must be a liberal infiltrator whose purpose is to give conservatism a bad name." He also announced that AIM's online store was discontinuing sales of Coulter's books.
UPDATE: Kincaid has added a second column denouncing the equivocation of Coulter's slur with Maher's statement on Cheney, though not entirely for the best reasons: "Such a comparison brings conservatives down to the liberal level. It says that conservatives are incapable of maintaining higher standards." He goes on to question whether Fox News "is serving the interests of the conservatives it claims to represent" for running "trash" as the new show "Red Eye," hosted by "a blogger for the liberal Huffington Post" and "a former college sex columnist whose blog is peppered with obscenities."
CNS Also Downplaying Coulter Comment Topic: CNSNews.com
NewsBusters isn't the only MRC division eager to downplay or equivocate Ann Coulter's calling John Edwards a"faggot." A March 5 CNSNews.com article by Payton Hoegh on Coulter's CPAC speech leads with her attacks on Al Gore. It's not until the fourth paragraph that Hoegh alludes to "[h]er much-publicized 'faggot' comment in relation to former senator and 2008 Democratic Party presidential hopeful John Edwards," but not only does he not repeat the full comment in context, he writes only that it "drew a much cooler response" from the audience.
In fact, as the video shows, while Coulter's slur drew an initial gasp from the audience, it then drew a fairly hearty appaluse -- not exactly a "cool" response.
Can anyone at the Media Research Center criticize Ann Coulter unequivocally without bringing in anyone else for comparison purposes? It appears not.
A March 5 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston compares Coulter's "faggot" remark to Bill Maher's statement on his HBO show for noting that if Vice President Dick Cheney had died during a suicide bombing in Pakistan, "other people, more people would live. That’s a fact." According to Huston, "Coulter's comment is intemperate, childish, lowbrow, even frat house-like for its part, but it was just a derogatory name in the end. Maher wants people KILLED, for Heaven's sake."
Well, so does Coulter: Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, employees of the New York Times. But Huston fails to mention that, nor does he offer any evidence that he condemned those statements to the extent he criticizes Maher. Indeed, a search of NewsBusters for the seven days after Coulter made her January 2006 remark that "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee" found only a single passing mention of the remark and absolutely no criticism of it.
To his credit, Huston does criticize Coulter's outrageous schtick:
Of course, I am sympathetic to her core message of conservative values, but in my opinion she is no longer an effective conservative columnist having long ago diluted her message by a career that has advanced to the stage of "personality" instead of pundit. She is the H.L. Mencken of our times... minus the intellect.
Sadly, she obviously feels she has to say increasingly outrageous things to stay at the top of the news. In fact, at this point she isn't much different than Whitney Houston, Paris Hilton, or Britney Spears all of whom seem to feel a need to continuously up the ante of crazy behavior to keep getting noticed.
In other words, Coulter no longer does much to aid the cause because her own fame -- or more properly her infamy -- has become her driving force, the cause having been eclipsed by her need to stay in the news. I feel, at this point, that she is hurting us on the right more than helping us.
However, Huston still feels the need to equivocate, suggesting that conservatives haven't criticized Maher to the extent they have criticized Coulter. Considering that the highest-ranking employee/writer at the MRC to publicly criticize Coulter to date is, uh, Huston, that's not exactly an accurate comparison.
Another NewsBusters Double Standard Topic: NewsBusters
We've already noted the failure of NewsBusters to unequivocally condemn Ann Coulter's "faggot" slur against John Edwards, even though its writers (as well as those throughout the Media Research Center) were quick to condemn bloggers once employed by Edwards' campaign for using inflammatory language. Here's another double standard worth noting.
A March 4 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein heralded the arrival of Ainsley Earhardt as a host of "Fox & Friends Weekend." He notes media accounts that describe Earhardt as "a strong Christian with fairly conservative values" who loves Ronald Reagan and thinks that "some of the decisions he made as President were great."
Imagine how someone like Finkelstein would react if a new cable-news host had similar, but Democratic, leanings -- who described herself as having "failry lilberal values" and worshiped Bill Clinton. Why, she'd be denounced as a filthy MSMer who couldn't possibly be counted on to give the news straight. Indeed, Finkelstein has complained to newly hired NBC political director Chuck Todd: "Instead, we're asked to accept that neither Chris Matthews nor Tim Russert -- and now you --- have an agenda despite having all worked for liberal Democrats."
So, you'd expect Finkelstein to crack down on Earhardt because her background suggests that she can't be fair, right?
Uh, no. Finkelstein asks us to accept that she doesn't have an agenda. In fact, he gives Earhardt the kid-glove treatment: He states the she "by all appearances has made a smooth landing" on the show and concludes: "In any case, welcome Ainsley -- we'll be watching!"
Unruh Doesn't Know His History (And He's Still Hurling the Nazi Smear) Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 28 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh claimed that a German "consul general" defended "3rd Reich homeschooling prohibition being used now to justify the imprisonment of a 15-year-old student." But all it appears Unruh did is copy-and-paste from a pro-homeschooling website; there's no indication that he verified what was posted on the website with German officials. This continues Unruh's policy of not independently verifying that any of the things alleged to have occurred regarding the "imprisonment" of the student have, in fact, occurred.
(Indeed, a Feb. 25 article by Unruh alleging that the German government has asked the family involved to "give up custody of their other five children" (histrionic italics his) cites only a pro-homeschooling source for the claim and does not note any attempt to contact German governmental officials to corroborate.)
But assuming it is genuine, Unruh misportrayed it. While he portrayed it as a "3rd Reich homeschooling prohibition" -- thus onceagain suggesting that anyone who criticizes homeschoolers is a Nazi -- the letter states:
Mandatory school attendance was first introduced in Germany in 1919 under the constitution of the Weimar Republic to guarantee education for all, especially socially disadvantaged families.
The Weimar Republic is not the same thing as the Third Reich, coming several years before Hitler took power. Yet not only does Unruh offer any evidence to contradict this, he goes on to repeat a claim by a pro-homeschooling magazine that "one of the first acts by Hitler when he moved into power was to create the governmental Ministry of Education and give it control of all schools, and school-related issues." But if mandatory public education was instituted prior to Hitler's ascent, this is irrelevant, other than to, again, tar anyone who disagrees with Unruh and his pro-homeschooling ideologues as Nazis.
This is what happens when reporters like Unruh become advocates instead of journalists -- they become so dedicated to their cause that only one side of the story is told, and the truth gets left by the wayside.
Sheppard Misrepresents Anti-Global Warming Theory Topic: NewsBusters
A March 1 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard misrepresented an anti-global warming theory as mainstream when, in fact, it's merely one man's idea.
In what he called an "absolutely startling report about climate change," Sheppard cited a National Geographic News report on a claim by Russian scientist Habibullo Abdussamatov that global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun, not by man. While Sheppard did excerpt a segment of the article calling it "one scientist's controversial theory," he went on to state, without offering evidence, that "To be sure, Abdussamatov is not the first scientist to make this claim."
However, Sheppard was vague in describing the criticism of the theory in the article:
Yet, in an article about a somewhat contrary concept as far as the mainstream media are concerned, National Geographic expressed great skepticism. In a piece that debunked what the supposed consensus believes on this issue, the magazine spent almost the bulk of the space alloted citing scientists that don’t buy Abdussamatov’s conclusions starting with, “Abdussamatov's work, however, has not been well received by other climate scientists.”
But Sheppard did not detail the specific criticisms of Abdussamatov's theory contained in the article. Chief among them: Not only does Abdussamatov apparently fail to take into account changes in Mar's orbit and tilt that would affect changes in Mars' climate, the article adds: "Perhaps the biggest stumbling block in Abdussamatov's theory is his dismissal of the greenhouse effect, in which atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide help keep heat trapped near the planet's surface."
Oops! This is the guy who "debunked" the scientific consensus on global warming, as far as Sheppard is concerned? Perhaps Sheppard needs to stop copying-and-pasting articles and start reading them.
CBS News "PublicEye" editor Brian Montopoli suggested in a recent blog post that conservatives are unfairly attacking liberal Web sites for comments posted by readers that lament that a terrorists attack in Afghanistan did not succeed in killing Vice President Cheney.
Montopoli says that both right and left-wing sites have their share of nutty commenters, which, to some degree is a fair point. There are fring loonies and flamers on the Internet on both sides of the aisle.
What Montopoli seems to miss then is that the objection conservatives like Sean Hannity have raised is not so much the sin of commission by nasty commenters but the sin of omission by Web site administrators and editors.
It's a legitimate question to ask why people wishing for the assassination of the Vice President of the United States are not banned from a politically-oriented site.
Of course, NewsBusters has its own history of tolerating those who wish for the deaths of those they hate.
The MRC Won't Criticize Coulter Topic: NewsBusters
With all of the attacks by the various Media Research Center entites upon those two bloggers forced to quit the John Edwards campaign for writing, in the words of a Feb. 22 Media Reality Check, "hateful and bigoted postings," you'd think the MRC would be rushing to use its moral-scold position to condemn Ann Coulter for calling John Edwards a "faggot" during a speech at a conservative convention (at which at least one MRC employee served on a panel).
But no. A March 3 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard noted only that Coulter made a "remark about John Edwards" but didn't say what it was, let alone offer any condemnation of it. And a March 3 post by Matthew Sheffield complaining about profanity on "left-wing" blogs didn't mention Coulter at all.
Then again, as we've noted, the MRC may not even consider the word "fag" offensive.
So, Noel? Matt? Want to clear this up? Care to explain why Coulter is exempt from criticism by conservatives for behavior they have bashed others over -- using offensive language and issuing death threats?
Ruddy Gets Passive-Aggressive on Clintons Topic: Newsmax
Christopher Ruddy is engaging in some strange passive-aggressive behavior regarding the Clintons.
Earlier, we noted that Ruddy uncharacteristically praised the Clinton administration to the New York Times (which he didn't note to his NewsMax readers), but a week later returned to form by trashing him in a NewsMax column.
Now, Ruddy chats with the London Times in a March 2 article, (linked to from NewsMax but not otherwise promoted as featuring its leader):
“She’s moderated her image. She’s tougher on the War on Terror and she has not aligned herself with the antiwar Left. Some conservatives think she’s not all bad,” said Christopher Ruddy, who runs NewsMax, America’s biggest conservative online magazine.
Mr Ruddy said that Mrs Clinton could be more difficult to attack than her husband.
“She’s been clever. She’s even won big in Republican districts in up-state New York [the state she represents in the Senate].
She just doesn’t get the level of intensity of love and hate that Bill Clinton got.”
That belies the fact that Ruddy and NewsMax have, in fact, been regularly attacking Hillary. Not only is Ruddy featuring Dick Morris' Hillary-bashing commentaries (while not disclosing to any sufficient extent that Morris is actively working against Hillary), a March 3 article by "NewsMax Staff" tries to tar Hillary with pardon President Clinton made before he left office. And Ruddy's column in which he contradicted his New York Times statements went on to state that " Hillary will have a difficult time persuading Americans she deserves to have [the "tough on terror" mantle] and become our commander in chief."
While NewsMax is not (yet) so monomanical about Hillary as it was about hating Bill Clinton during his presidency -- after all, it's also currently working to bring down John McCain as well -- Ruddy's suggestion that Hillary isn't getting attacked at all by conservatives is highly misleading.
MRC Unchallenged on Fox Topic: Media Research Center
The MRC's Tim Graham appeared on Fox News on Friday, which followed up an appearance by MRC research director Rich Noyes the previous day. Both Graham and Noyes appeared solo, with no other guest that held an opposing view. These came on top of a Washington Times puff piece on the MRC that quoted only Brent Bozell and featured no opposing view.
We know Brent Bozell doesn't like to share screen time with anyone who might ask something other than a softball question -- indeed, he appeared solo on "Fox & Friends" on March 1. Is this no-debate-allowed policy part of a deal between Fox News and the MRC? How many people have not appeared on Fox because of the MRC's demands that they not be challenged?
Is this really what Fox News and the MRC mean when they talk about wanting "fair and balanced" news coverage?
Olbermann-Haters Wipe Their Site Topic: NewsBusters
Via Raw Story, we learn that the Keith Olbermann-bashing blog Olbermann Watch has shut down. The only thing left there is a message from managing editor Robert Cox (disclosure: I'm a member, last time I checked, of the Media Bloggers Association, which Cox heads) stating that they gave up the ghost because Olbermann's ratings are up and NBC renewed his contract.
As we've noted, the folks at NewsBusters have used Olbermann Watch -- which frequently hurled insults at Olbermann and his audience -- as supporting evidence.
One thing we wonder, though: If Cox and his cohorts are so proud of the work they did at Olbermann Watch, as Cox's farewell message indicates, why did he delete the entire site except for his goodbye?
WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh has written twomore articles on the subject of the military blocking access to WND for its troops. But as in his first article, Unruh focuses only on WND and ignores the numerous other websites that the military blocks.
Are Unruh and WND really so self-centered as to not report the full story of military site-blocking? It appears so.
MRC Frowns on Matthews for Saying Something Nice About Clinton Topic: NewsBusters
The Media Research Center reminds us once again of its rule that nobody is allowed to say anything nice about anyone named Clinton.
A March 1 NewsBusters post (and March 2 CyberAlert item) by Geoffrey Dickens looks down upon Chris Matthews for saying that when Bill Clinton speaks, "[t]here are times when he sounds like Jesus in the temple." Needless to say, Dickens does not mention Matthews' weird obsession with speculating over Clinton's sex life. Why isn't that worth noting? Perhaps because the MRC might be forced to admit that he's not the rabid liberal it loves to portray him as?
UPDATE: Matthews has also called Clinton "Holly Golightly." Why didn't Dickens note that?
White Supremacist Fluffs MRC Topic: Media Research Center
A Marchh 1 Washington Times article touts the Media Research Center's 20th anniversary. It's quite the puff piece; the only person interviewed in it is Brent Bozell, and no apparent effort was made to balance it with comment from, say, another media watchdog group we could name. Given the sympathetic tone, the MRC is quite proud of it, promoting on the MRC front page and in a NewsBusters post.
It's worth noting that the article was written by the Times' resident whitesupremacist and Confederacy fetishist (well, one of 'em), Robert Stacy McCain. Was this really the best choice for the MRC (and we presume that, given the one-sided slant of the article, Bozell and Co. did have a hand in their hagiographer)? Or did McCain's compliance and willingness to not encumber the article with balance trump any concern over his personal views?
Meanwhile ... Topic: CNSNews.com Media Matters notes that in a Feb. 28 CNSNews.com article, Randy Hall uncritically repeated a two-week-old falsehood from the Republican National Committee that the Democrats have called their approach to Iraq a "slow-bleed" strategy. In fact, the term originated in The Politico and was seized upon by the RNC.