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Monday, October 1, 2007
Cal Thomas' Egomania About His Column Is Nothing New
Topic: The ConWeb

Last week, Cal Thomas wrote a column challenging Media Matters' (my employer) new study depicting how the political balance of syndicated op-ed columnists in America's daily newspapers skews conservative. Specifically, he complained that the number of daily newspapers Media Matters counted regularly running Thomas' column doesn't comport with his own numbers:

Media Matters claims just 306 carry mine (it says 328 carry Will's), ignoring the real numbers by imposing the weekly or monthly frequency standard. Media Matters also apparently didn't count overseas newspapers or USA Today, America's largest circulation newspaper, in which I co-author a column twice monthly with my liberal friend, Bob Beckel. Media Matters asked for my client list to prove my claim. Nice try. Liberals would love to have such a list so they can conduct letter-writing campaigns to remove conservatives, in the name of tolerance, of course. While some columnists have been "rumored" to inflate their numbers (imagine that!), mine are accurate and have been since I started writing this column. 

As Media Matters' Paul Waldman responded: "Thomas makes a claim, then refuses to provide evidence. We at Media Matters prefer to stick to the facts."

Thomas' egomania about the number of papers in which his column is printed is nothing new. Back in 2002, we detailed how Thomas teamed up with and then-reporter Marc Morano to depict one newspaper's cancellation of his column as part of a a nefarious "house cleaning of conservatives at the paper" (even though the paper canceled a liberal columnist at the same time). Morano went on to quote anonymous sources as claiming that "all new hires by the paper have been 'non-conservatives' " and made no apparent effort to permit the newspaper respond to all the claims forwarded against it.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:26 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2007 2:42 AM EDT
Sunday, September 30, 2007
MRC Glass House Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 30 NewsBusters post promotes a rant by Mark Levin bashing Media Matters (my employer). Levin "tears in and questions their status as a non-partisan group," Stephenson wrote. "It sounds alot like the same arguement on the ACLU being non-partisan and getting tax payer dollars. Completely biased." 

Here's what Levin said:

Media Matters, which they set up as a nonprofit, nonpartisan -- that's right -- tax-exempt organization. It's not allowed to get involved in politics. Not bipartisan -- none. It's not allowed to simply be an organization that advances an ideological war because you and I are subsidizing it. It's tax-exempt. And yet, they have never criticized a leftist talk show host on Air America, never. They have never criticized Keith Olbermann, never. And they only criticize the media when the media does a story that is unfavorable to the crime family leaders, which would be Hillary Rotten and BJ Bill Clinton. I believe they are in clear violation of the Internal Revenue Code, the 501(c)(3) status that's been conferred on them. I believe every time they file a tax return telling the government that "we're non-political, non-partisan" and that sign that tax return under penalty of perjury, I believe that they're committing perjury. If there was ever a lawsuit against this group, and there was full discovery of emails and phone logs and testimony under oath or in depositions, the whole game would be up and they they'd be exposed for what they are, which is a criminal enterprise in the sense that they are, in my view, violating the tax code.

Well, let's see ... the MRC is a 501(c)(3) group. It has never criticized a conservative radio host. It has never criticized Fox News for any reason other than being not conservative enough.

Swap the ideological labels in Levin's rant, and he's talking about the MRC. In other words, if Media Matters is a "criminal enterprise," so is the MRC.

Is this a line of reasoning you really want to pursue, John? 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:38 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 30, 2007 10:45 AM EDT
Saturday, September 29, 2007
MRC Obscures Full Limbaugh Story, Ignores Own History On Giving Benefit of the Doubt
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Sept. 28 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker defended Rush Limbaugh against the "misinformation" promoted "by the far-left Media Matters" that "Rush Limbaugh, on Thursday, had called military personnel who served in Iraq and oppose the war 'phony soldiers.'" (Like previous MRC defenders of Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly against my meanie employer, Baker relied in part on overheated posts by Radio Equalizer's Brian Maloney, yet again repeating Maloney's false assertion that Media Matters is "George Soros-funded.") But Baker glosses over the holes in Limbaugh's defense. Baker writes:

On his September 27 radio program, a caller asserted that the media “never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.” Limbaugh interjected: “The phony soldiers.” After the call, Limbaugh proceeded to recount:

Here is a Morning Update that we did recently, talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. They have their celebrities and one of them was Army Ranger Jesse MacBeth. 

But -- as Media Matters pointed out when Limbaugh tried to pass off a selectively edited piece of audio of incident as the "entire" segment -- Limbaugh didn't do this "after the call." There was at least a minute and a half gap between Limbaugh's "phony soliders" comment and his first mention of MacBeth, the only "phony soldier" he mentioned by name during the entire show.

Baker then demanded that Limbaugh be given the benefit of the doubt: 

At worst, who Limbaugh meant by “phony soldiers” was unclear and so any story should, at the very least, include Limbaugh's explanation and not just presume the hostile spin from a far-left group is a newsworthy take that cannot be contradicted in multi-minute segments with plenty of time to better inform viewers. 

What is the MRC's record in similar cases? As we've documented, the most notorious case of the MRC acting worse than it accuses Media Matters of doing is its insistence in a 2005 article that when Democratic strategist Paul Begala said " They want to kill us, particularly in this city, and New York, and some other places," "they" meant Republicans, not Islamic terrorists. When Begala protested that his words were misinterpreted, then-CNS editor David Thibault called Begala a liar: "There was nothing unclear about what Begala said, and he, as a pundit, should know that words matter. We quoted him accurately." When that argument became too untenable to sustain, Thibault resorted to attacking "Begala's unmistakable and outrageous coupling of terrorists and Republicans."

Begala got no benefit of the doubt from the MRC over an "unclear" statement. Why should it demand that Limbaugh get a pass?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:52 AM EDT
Friday, September 28, 2007
Meanwhile ...
Topic: Horowitz
Sadly, No! catches FrontPageMag passing off a movie still as evidence of "a girl buried before being stoned to death for alleged sexual offenses."

Posted by Terry K. at 7:34 PM EDT
MRC, Maloney Still Can't Get Facts Right
Topic: NewsBusters

As it did with Bill O'Reilly, the MRC again farms out its defense of right-wing hosts saying controversial things -- this time, Rush Limbaugh calling anti-war members of the military "phony soldiers -- to Radio Equalizer's Brian Maloney.

In yet another overheated post, Maloney still can't get basic facts right. As he did in his defense of O'Reilly, Maloney insisted that Media Matters (my employer) is "George Soros-funded."

Brian, honey: It's not. And yo, MRC guys: "Research" is in the name of your organization; try it sometime. Coping false claims from bloggers -- even if they are your "friend" -- is not "research."

Posted by Terry K. at 5:50 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2007 5:51 PM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 28 appearance by the Media Research Center's Rich Noyes on "Fox & Friends" to tout the MRC's demand for CBS and CNN to apologize to Bill O'Reilly followed the template: no co-panelist with an opposing view, and the MRC is never identified as conservative.

Further, "Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy served as a cheerleader for Noyes' viewpoint, saying at one point: "CNN and CBS and MSNBC for that matter as well, why would they get in bed -- essentially, they've stopped reporting. You know, 'We're just going to be spoon-fed by this leftie outfit Media Matters.' " Ironically, he's saying that as he's being spoon-fed by a right-wing outfit.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:25 AM EDT
WND Ignores Full Story of Gun Law Poster Boy
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh is headlined, "Ex-military to be denied gun ownership." That's wildly overstating the issue at hand; the article is about right-wing group Gun Owners of America's fight against a proposed law designed to put enforcement behind federal bans on gun ownership by those with certain mental health conditions. Nowhere does the article state that all "ex-military" would be "denied gun ownership" as the headline blares; rather, GOA head Larry Pratt is complaining that the law would bar gun ownership by "battle-scarred veteran[s] suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," without ever explaining why that's a bad thing.

Unruh went on to uncritically relate a GOA-promoted anecdote:

The GOA cited a recent Pennsylvania case to illustrate the dangers that would be presented.

It was an apparent "offhanded, tongue-in-cheek remark" made by Horatio Miller that got the case started. He allegedly said it could be "worse than Virginia Tech" if someone broke into his car, because of the guns there.

"It is not clear whether he was making a threat against a person who might burglarize his car, or if he was simply saying that the bad guy could do a lot of damage because of the guns he would find there," the GOA said.

Miller, with no criminal record and the holder of a concealed carry permit who had passed rigorous background checks, was ordered never to own or possess a gun again.

"I contacted the sheriff and had his license to carry a firearm revoked. And I asked police to commit him under Section 302 of the mental health procedures act and that was done. He is now ineligible to possess firearms [for life] because he was committed involuntarily," the district attorney reported.

"The comment Miller made was certainly not the smartest thing to say," said the GOA. "But realize, we don't incarcerate people for making stupid statements in this country – at least not yet."

In fact, Horasio Miller -- Unruh got his name wrong, apparently because GOA misspelled it -- is not unacquianted with law enforcement. From a June 23 article in the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News:

It wasn't until after Horasio Miller got in trouble at Harrisburg Area Community College that his neighbors on Green Street in Susquehanna Twp. started to come forward, police said.

Miller, 42, of the 3700 block of Green Street, was committed involuntarily for a mental evaluation after a 12: 30 p.m. Tuesday incident in which Harrisburg police said they found him inside HACC's Cooper Union Building with a 9mm pistol.

Yesterday, Susquehanna Twp. police got warrants for Miller's arrest, charging him with simple assault by physical menace, theft of services and a wiretapping violation, said Police Chief Rob Martin.

Since Miller was committed, police have gotten calls from his neighbors concerning his behavior, Martin said. "In the prior weeks, they were too afraid to call," he said.

Martin said police were told Miller pointed a gun at his landlord sometime in the past few weeks.

Police also served a search warrant on Miller's apartment yesterday, where they found evidence that he had "hacked" into the telephone box at the building and was getting free service, Martin said.

He said police also recovered evidence that Miller had been listening in on phone conversations of other tenants in the building.

Martin said Miller has not been released from the mental evaluation. "Whenever he's released, he will be released right into our custody," the chief said.

Miller's apartment was so dirty that the township has deemed it unfit for human habitation, police said. "It was horrendous," Martin said. "The dirt, the filth, mold, mildew."

Tuesday's incident started when a man, identified as Miller, approached a student in the college cafeteria and said he had guns in his car, police said.

"It would be worse than Virginia Tech if someone broke into my car. I have guns in the car," Fran Chardo, Dauphin County's first assistant district attorney, said the man told the student.

That student told an armed HACC security guard, who called police and watched the man until the officers arrived, HACC spokeswoman Tracy Mendoza said.

Miller, who is not a HACC student, was taken into custody after officers found a 9 mm handgun in his backpack, police said. Police later took a handgun from his car and two firearms from his home, authorities said.

The Dauphin County district attorney's office had the county sheriff revoke the permit Miller had to carry a concealed weapon.

Susquehanna Twp. police said they have been called numerous times about Miller by neighbors, some of whom said he would walk around outside wearing holstered handguns.

Martin said his officers have been called to Miller's apartment building 22 times since 2004.

Half of those calls were made by Miller for minor reasons, such as a lost cell phone or a recovered bicycle, but Martin said the other half were neighbors' complaints about Miller.

Miller was not charged or cited in any of those incidents, Martin said.

After Miller was taken into custody, chief HACC spokesman Pat Early sent an e-mail to the college staff explaining what happened. Early said he did not tell the students or the public about the incident.

"It was something that was handled quickly, quietly. There wasn't anything to tell," Early said.

So, contrary to the GOA's assertion, Miller did not lose his gun privileges merely for making a "stupid statement," and there was a clear reason he was "committed involuntarily."

We found this information about Miller pretty easily, and even got Miller's name right. Why didn't Unruh?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:02 AM EDT
Dick Morris Non-Disclosure Watch
Topic: Newsmax
For the second time in a week, Dick Morris has written a NewsMax column attacking Hillary Clinton. And, as with his previous Hillary-bashing columns, neither of them disclose that Morris is actively working against Hillary's presidential campaign, which undermines his objectivity as a political analyst.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 AM EDT
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Media Research Bill O'Reilly Defense Center
Topic: Media Research Center

Taking a page from its Ann Coulter defense playbook, a Sept. 27 Media Research Center press release reports that Brent Bozell "is calling upon CBS and CNN to distance themselves from left-wing hate groups and apologize to Bill O’Reilly for their participation in the smear campaign against him, " further referencing "dishonest, far-left, hatemongering organizations such as Media Matters."

So, if Media Matters (my employer) is a "left-wing hate group," doesn't that make the MRC a right-wing hate group?

(Oh, and Bozell falsely claims that Media Matters is "funded by ultra-leftist billionaire George Soros." Doesn't anyone at the MRC do any actual research?)

Posted by Terry K. at 6:09 PM EDT
NewsBusters' O'Reilly Silliness
Topic: NewsBusters

Now that the Media Research Center has decided to defend Bill O'Reilly, it's time for the folks at NewsBusters to weigh in:

-- Ken Shepherd plays the distraction card by claiming that Keith Olbermann "made a cryptic crack that could be taken to be racially insensitive, if not racist." Missing is how exactly name-checking "Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles" is racist. And shouldn't Shepherd be providing the entire Olbermann transcript so it can be put in its full context?

-- Noel Sheppard endorses Tammy Bruce's defense of O'Reilly, while overlooking the irony of Bruce deploring "the left's" purported campaign to "demonize" those they disagree with while calling those she disagrees with "the Gestapo."

-- Mark Finkelstein seems to think it was OK for Al Sharpton to defend O'Reilly without actually having listened to what O'Reilly said.

-- Sheppard joins O'Reilly in warning against "factually inaccurate statements promulgated by leftwing websites and organizations," but he doesn't explain how O'Reilly's own words are "factually inaccurate."

Posted by Terry K. at 2:45 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2007 4:37 PM EDT
Brent Baker's Double Standard
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 27 NewsBusters post (and CyberAlert item) by Brent Baker attacked coverage "pushed by a far-left group to suppress Bill O'Reilly over a supposedly racist remark." That "far-left group" would be Media Matters (my employer). Baker claimed one TV story " failed to identify the ideology of Media Matters."

If identifying a group's political ideology in the media is so important, why hasn't he or anyone at the MRC complained every time Fox News fails to identify an MRC spokesman who appears on it as conservative? Tim Graham certainly didn't demand it yesterday during his appearance on Neil Cavuto's show. Nor did Brent Bozell during his solo appearance on "Fox & Friends" earlier today.

Despite calling Media Matters' documentation of O'Reilly's remarks a "left-wing smear" (as if one can be "smeared" by one's own words), Baker makes no attempt to discuss or refute O'Reilly's remarks, instead copying-and-pasting a post from Brian Maloney's conservative blog Radio Equalizer hyperbolically declaring it "by far the most disgusting attempt at taking words out of context we've seen in a long time." Maloney (and Baker) cite Juan Williams' defense and support of O'Reilly as some sort of mitigating factor when Williams has been a longtime defender of O'Reilly and thus not exactly unbiased on the issue. Maloney also muffs basic facts, for instance, falsely calling Media Matters "Soros-funded."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:37 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2007 1:53 PM EDT
NewsMax's Brennan Follows Anti-Global Warming Script
Topic: Newsmax

In a Sept. 25 NewsMax column, Phil Brennan lashed out against the "mass hysteria over the alleged warming of the planet." He threw a bunch of numbers out to try and back it up. For instance:

Those evil deniers however, have taken the trouble to look at the facts instead of the propaganda from the U.N. and the rest of the global warming fanatics. They point out that the the anthroprogenic sources of CO2 account for exactly 0.11 percent of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. In other words, 99.89 percent of the greenhouse effect has not a damn thing to do SUVs, jet travel, backyard barbecues or any other human activity.

The folks at RealClimate have taken the trouble to look at the facts as well, and they pretty much debunk Brennan's numbers. Don't expect Brennan to report that, of course.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:06 AM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Tim Graham appeared on the Sept. 26 edition of Fox News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto" to bash Katie Couric for having an opinion on the Iraq war that he disapproves of. As per usual, the MRC is not identified as conservative, but Fox News departed from typical procedure by pairing him up against Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers (who is identified as a Democratic strategist).

The NewsBusters post promoting Graham's appearance happily quotes Graham saying that Couric "really sounds like... a light-headed Hillary [Clinton] and it sounds like she's trying to claw back into the good graces of and maybe she's trying to rub the belly of the Buddha, Frank Rich, and everybody who attacked her for being some sort of Bush tool when she went to Iraq." And the MRC complains about Democrats spouting their "two minutes hate"?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:20 AM EDT
Timmerman Continues Anti-Sulick Crusade
Topic: Newsmax

Ken Timmerman is ramping up his war on Michael Sulick.

In a Sept. 25 NewsMax column, he extensively quotes Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra further bashing Sulick, who had resigned from the CIA in 2004 but recently returned as head of the CIA's clandestine service. As he did in his previous attack article on Sulick, Timmerman teased a Sulick-bashing anecdote from "my new book, 'Shadow Warriors: Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender,' which will be released in early November," but he offered no support for his claim. Presumably, Timmerman is waiting until he can sell some copies of said book until he reveals his purported evidence.

Timmerman makes no apparent effort to contact Sulick for a response to his and Hoekstra's accusations, though he does reprint some praise of Sulick.

Timmerman lets his bias nakedly show by noting that he asked a White House spokesperson "why President Bush would reappoint Sulick and Kappes to top CIA positions after they had tried to undermine Bush administration policies." It appears that Timmerman is a Bush dead-ender for whom disloyalty to a man is a graver offense than service to country. Timmerman doesn't address the possibility Sulick believed that to best serve the country, Bush administration policies perhaps needed to be undermined.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
'Squinting Two-Minute's Hate'
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 26 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan noted that Bill Clinton "blasted 'disingenuous' Republicans for their 'feigned outrage' over’s ad attacking General David Petraeus."

The headline: "Bill Clinton's 'Squinting Two Minute's Hate' on CNN."

Balan also made sure to call Clinton an "impeached former president" and claimed that "Clinton put on his best 'angry face' during the clip."

It's unclear why Balan felt the need to put "Squinting Two Minute's Hate" in quote marks, since Balan doesn't indicate he's lifting that quote from anyone and, apparently, just made it up himself.

And these are the folks who are so easily offended when someone says something mean about President Bush?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:48 PM EDT

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