ConWebBlog: The Weblog of ConWebWatch

your New Media watchdog

ConWebWatch: home | archive/search | about | primer | shop

Monday, January 21, 2008
The MRC's Double Standard on Polls
Topic: Media Research Center


The Media Research Center hates polls when they don't conform to its ideology. In November, for example, Seton Motley offered this theory of polling:

The media, as One, spend days or weeks bashing someone or something they do not like. They then conduct a poll to prove to you that they were right all along. In a campaign season, their one-sided coverage is calculated, then executed to produce a result. It’s not about reporting the events, it’s about changing the prevailing view.

And the polls -- such as the ones by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup -- aren’t intended as much to gauge the public view of a candidate or events as they are to reinforce that which they have “reported”, or provide the media guidance on how effective their spinning of the news has been.

So, when the MRC praises a poll's results, beware.

Which brings us to a Jan. 21 NewsBusters post and CyberAlert item in which Brent Baker proudly proclaims that "For the sixth time in a year, a national survey has found many more Americans see a media bias to the left than to the right." 

Unmentioned by Baker: Groups like his employer have spent millions of dollars over the years to promote and promulgate that very viewpoint, which is then echoed by right-wing radio hosts and TV talking heads who repeat it. It can easily be argued that polls that come to this conclusion, rather than presenting an accurate picture of the media and the public's view of it, reflect, in Motley's words, "one-sided coverage" that is "calculated, then executed to produce a result." Polling that finds the public concurring with the idea of a liberal media bias, thus, gives the MRC "guidance on how effective their spinning of the news has been."

This is a flaw we pointed out last year when Accuracy in Media -- another group that has spent millions of dollars promoting the idea of liberal media bias -- promoted a poll declaring that because there must be liberal media bias because conservatives perceive a liberal bias and liberals don't.

In other words, the MRC has paid good money over the years to get this polling result. Why wouldn't Baker be proud to promote it?

UPDATE: A Jan. 21 article by Fred Lucas on the poll likewise ignores the role conservative propaganda has played in the liberal-media meme, but his article raises a point Baker didn't: He quotes Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute noting that "she thought the questions [in the poll] were weighted toward Fox News Channel by using the phrase 'fair and balanced,' the network's marketing logo, in the question. She also thinks Fox News, which respondents in the poll believed leaned to the right, approaches news coverage with a larger political agenda than most other news organizations." McBride added:

"The poll implies the old theory that journalists are biased liberally and that there is a gap between professional journalists and mainstream Americans," McBride said. "Bias seeps into news reports not so much out of an ideological conspiracy as much as other factors. If a newsroom is too thin, and there is no one to screen for bias, of course bias will go through."

Lucas also quotes Jerry Lindsley, director of the Sacred Heart Polling Institute, which conducted the poll, spouting a conservative talking point, which casts more doubt on the poll's veracity: "The news media presents the facts, but they don't present all the facts, such as the lower death toll, the hospitals being built, the soccer clubs and the women in the streets."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:05 AM EST
Updated: Monday, January 21, 2008 10:30 PM EST
Pierre Doesn't Acknowledge Bias in Abortion-Breast Cancer Evidence
Topic: NewsBusters

A Jan. 18 NewsBusters post by Dave Pierre asserts that the Los Angeles Times, "despite the loads of evidence contradicting them, continue to deny the numerous studies asserting the link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer." But as we noted the last time Pierre did this, that link is being promoted almost exclusively by anti-abortion activists.

Pierre also stated: "In addition, as recently as three months ago (October 2007), a major study conducted out of England concluded that abortion is the "best predictor" for developing breast cancer. But Pierre doesn't acknowledge (as we detailed) that the study was conducted by a murky group funded by anti-abortion groups and published in the right-wing Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:23 AM EST
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Newsmax Ignores Bob Grant's Offensive Words
Topic: Newsmax

A Jan. 18 Newsmax article by Phil Brennan takes a one-sided view of the controversy over Radio & Records magazine's reversal on honoring radio host Bob Grant, telling only Grant's side of the story, bashing his detractors and refusing to detail the controversial remarks by Grant that led to the reversal.

R&R decided not to honor Grant with a planned lifetime achievement award after, according to a Washington Post article, activist Scott Pellegrino emailed the magazine's employees with some of Grant's more notorious rantings over the years, such as calling blacks "screaming savages" and "sub-humanoids" and saying in 1996 that then-Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, also an African American, had survived a plane crash, adding "because at heart, I'm a pessimist."

But Brennan doesn't even mention Pellegrino -- noting only that Grant had called the person who emailed R&R a "stalker" -- instead attacking Fairness and Accuracy in Media, which had apparently compiled the Grant remarks Pellegrino sent to the magazine, as "deceptively named" and repeated Grant's attacks on FAIR. Brennan then noted that FAIR "transcribed the e-mailed comments from tapes of Grant's show, whom he says has obsessively harassed him for years." Of course, transcription of comments is a universally accepted form of media watchdogging; we suspect that Brennan and Grant wouldn't describe, say, the Media Research Center as obsessive harrassers.

Nowhere does Brennan detail the offensive remarks attributed to Grant, even though they are central to the controversy, describing them only as "remarks he made back in the 1990s and allowing Grant to complain, "He keeps regurgitating the same things I said back in the early '90s. There’s no statute of limitations." Brennan offers no evidence that Grant has offered others a similar "statute of limitations" on remarks he considers offensive.

Newsmax has long been a defender and supporter of Grant -- indeed, Newsmax chief Christopher Ruddy was among Grant's final guests before his retirement in 2006, after which "NewsMax feted the radio trailblazer at Gallagher's restaurant in Manhattan, where luminaries from former Congressmen John LeBoutillier and Dan Frisa, to Grant's former WABC colleagues Barry Farber and Lynn Samuels, paid tribute." In 2005, it declared Grant the victim of "the forces of political correctness" over his Brown remark, which got him fired from New York's WABC. In a 2006 article, Newsmax insisted Grant's comment on Brown "prompted no outrage at the time" and it was only after "Grant enemies" former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and Rev. Jesse Jackson got involved that he was fired.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:05 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, January 20, 2008 11:07 AM EST
Saturday, January 19, 2008
MRC Hearts Hillary Smears, Hates Nice Things Said About her
Topic: Media Research Center

Yet another difference between my employer and those other guys: Media Matters gets upset when Chris Matthews makes sexist remarks about Hillary Clinton; the MRC gets upset when Matthews makes complementary remarks about her.

No, really. The folks at MRC clearly don't mind sexist remarks when made against liberals in general and Hillary in particular, to the point that they ridiculed Media Matters' highlighting of them. Tim Graham noted in a Jan. 17 NewsBusters post that Matthews "a few minutes trying to dig out with Media Matters and Hillary fans for saying she got where she is through her husband's wild sex life." 

When Matthews finally did apologize, the MRC ridiculed that too. Geoffrey Dickens declared in a Jan. 17 NewsBusters post and Jan. 18 MRC CyberAlert item that Matthews was "bowing to pressure from liberal blogs, feminist groups and upper management" (shortened in the CyberAlert version to "left-wing groups") in "personally apologizing to Hillary Clinton."

Mark Finkelstein added: "Unlike the sensitive folks over at Media Matters, we NewsBusters are a relatively thick-skinned lot. And no one's ever confused me with Gloria Steinem. So we're not going to overreact to Willie Geist's comment this morning and demand a Matthewsesque mea culpa."

But say something nice about Hillary, and boy howdy! Scott Whitlock was offended in a Jan. 16 NewsBusters post (and Jan. 17 CyberAlert) that Matthews called a remark Hillary made "very Thatcher-ite."

Even though Brent Bozell and Co. presumably concur with Matthews' original sentiments -- as evidenced by its unbalanced hatred of Hillary and its attacks on everyone who says anything remotely nice about her -- they didn't run to his defense from the "pressure from left-wing groups." Perhaps that's because they have decided they have too much invested in branding Matthews as an unrepentant liberal (which itself contradicts its previous praise of Matthews for bashing the Clintons in the 1990s).

Posted by Terry K. at 10:50 AM EST
Friday, January 18, 2008
FrontPageMag: 'White Guilt' Boosts Obama
Topic: Horowitz

In a Jan. 18 FrontPageMag article, Joseph Puder states:

There is little difference between the rhetoric of Obama and the white candidates.  They all speak of hope and change. Why should Obama’s words be more believable, legitimate or acceptable? The answer is white guilt.


The blind support and almost universal cheering of college students for Obama is a by-product of years of indoctrination on college campuses (especially Ivy League universities) under the stern eyes of faculty and administrative “political correctors,” who bar the teaching of Western Civilization and bash Europeans as imperialists, oppressors and racists.  It seems as if American college students have been groomed to cheer a black presidential candidate thereby providing them with a small measure of ablution from their "racist sins."


In the final analysis one must ask the simple question: In a color-blind society, devoid of white guilt, does an inexperienced, untried, albeit bright contender like Obama, deserve to be president in contrast to Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Rudi Giuliani – candidates who are equally as bright and have far greater experience? To vote on any other basis would be racist.

Wow. Just ... wow.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:57 PM EST
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2008 1:58 PM EST
Farah: 'Isn't It Time to Make Anal Sex Taboo, Again?'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

After noting in his Jan. 18 WorldNetDaily column that "A drug-resistant strain of potentially deadly bacteria has moved beyond the borders of U.S. hospitals and is being transmitted among homosexual men during sex," Joseph Farah asks: "I have a profound question to ask: Isn't it time to make anal sex taboo, again?"

Yes, it appears Farah would like to regulate your sex life, at least if you're gay -- since by "anal sex" Farah means homosexualty. Indeed, channeling Cliff Kincaid, Farah's just not down with the whole gay thing, and that's what he wants to make taboo:

Let's face it. It's cool to be "gay" on television, in the movies, in public schools and in America's newsrooms. It is not nearly as cool to smoke. Why? Because people recognize smoking is a health threat. But they don't recognize that sodomy is a much more serious health threat.

Farah then adds: "Simply for writing this column, I will be subjected to the most vicious hate speech imaginable. I will be called a bigot, a Nazi, a homophobe and worse." Now, the Nazi thing is a bit over the top, though we don't recall him stopping his reporter Bob Unruh from likening homeschooling opponents to Nazis, demonstrating that in reality he's not all that bothered by the word. (And indeed, the Nazis liked to persecute gays, which seems to be the direction Farah is heading, so the comparison isn't totally out of line.) Bigot? Well, that's a term traditionally used regarding ethnic bias, so it doesn't really apply here. Homophobe? Definitely, though it's an interesting glimpse into Farah's psyche that he appears to equate being called a Nazi with being called a homophobe.

Farah has long had a seething hatred for gays and anything related to gayness (though that didn't stop him from hiring Matt Sanchez as an Iraq correspondent). Perhaps Farah should explain to his readers what his (final) solution for homosexuality is. Quarantine? Forced re-education? Execution? Do tell.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:28 PM EST
New Article -- Slanties 2008: Book of Slants
Topic: The ConWeb
Who are the year's most egregious violators of truth, fairness and sanity on the ConWeb? We honor the worst. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:27 AM EST
NewsBusters Falsely Claims Author 'Touts Abortion as a Way to Reduce Crime'
Topic: NewsBusters

The headline of a Jan. 17 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock falsely proclaims, "ABC Promotes Author Who Touts Abortion as a Way to Reduce Crime." This is the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy in action: In fact, all Steven Dubner did in his book "Freakonomics" is detail a study that advances the theory that legalized abortions have reduced overall crime rates by reducing the number of children growing up in poor, single-parent, or teenage-parent households and, therefore, those who would have been more likely to commit crimes. Whitlock offers no evidence that Dubner is "tout[ing] abortion as a way to reduce crime" or doing anything other than reporting the study's findings.

Whitlock also calls Dubner's claim "unsubstantiated"; in fact, an early version of the study contains numerous references, and the chapter in "Freakonomics" in which Dubner and co-author Steven D. Levitt discuss the study has several pages of endnotes.

Whitlock then tries to read Dubner's mind. Noting a quote from Dubner that "It's good to know what forces work in society, if for no other reason than to keep doing the right thing," Whitlock adds: "The right thing, one presumes he means, is to keep aborting children." In fact, as the transcript Whitlock attached to his post demonstrates, Dubner was not talking about the abortion-crime study when he made that remark; rather, he was talking about gun laws (which he said don't work, a stance even Whitlock admitted "could be described as conservative and rarely seen on network television") and turf wars over crack cocaine.

Whitlock further claims that it was not mentioned that Dubner's finding "has been repeatedly challenged since Dubner and his economist co-author Steven Levitt made it in their book. In fact, a study by another economist, John Lott, found that legalized abortion actually increased the murder rate by seven percent." Since we're going to play that game, Whitlock doesn't mention Lott's history of dubious research, which would seem to make Lott less than credible on the issue.

For support, Whitlock cited an August 2007 article promoting Lott's finding; as we noted at the time, the article took unsupported swipes at all researchers to defend Lott's dubious work, claming without evidence that blogging "under a different name to defend his work," as Lott was found to have done, is "a practice that many academics engage in."

UPDATE: Whitlock's post is repeated in the Jan. 18 MRC CyberAlert.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:24 AM EST
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2008 11:55 AM EST
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Kincaid Misleads on Solomon's Bias
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In a Jan. 16 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid writes:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards took some criticism when it became known that he had gone to work for a hedge fund. As noted by the Washington Post, “The hedge fund that employed John Edwards markedly expanded its subprime lending business while he worked there, becoming a major player in the high-risk mortgage sector Edwards has pilloried in his presidential campaign.” Edwards claimed he didn’t know anything about the firm’s involvement in subprime lending.  

It is interesting to note that the co-author of the Post article, John Solomon, has left the paper to become editor of the rival and conservative Washington Times. Solomon had come under savage attack by left-wingers for doing stories about corruption in the Democratic Party. They probably realized that Solomon was on to something when he uncovered Edwards’ relationship with a hedge fund company.

The problem was not that Solomon was "doing stories about corruption in the Democratic Party"; the problem is that Solomon has distorted facts and left out important information in doing so. Indeed, Solomon's article on Edwards and the hedge fund, which Kincaid references, was criticized by the Post's own ombudsman for implying that Edwards "couldn't have consulted for a hedge fund, Fortress Investment Group, or taken contributions from its employees without putting his liberal principles at risk."

AIM claims to be about "fairness, balance, and accuracy in news reporting." Will Kincaid apply those standards to Solomon's work?

Posted by Terry K. at 5:03 PM EST
'Hong Kong' Fouhy?
Topic: NewsBusters

Fresh from calling Barack Obama too African to be president, Seton Motley takes time in a Jan. 17 NewsBusters screed against the Associated Press to make a reference to "AP Political Reporter Beth 'Hong Kong' Fouhy."

The man's all class.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:54 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:55 PM EST
Would You Take Financial Advice From This Man?
Topic: Newsmax

What would arguably be more stupid than taking political advice from Dick Morris? (Morris' latest failed prognostication: "I think the Republican Party is reaching a huge consensus on McCain. ... I expect him to beat Romney [in Michigan] tomorrow.") Taking financial advice from Dick Morris.

Yet Newsmax is offering you that opportunity. A series of investment seminars later this month in California titled "Grow Your Wealth in Turbulent Times: Finding 15%+ Investment Opportunities" features "famed political guru" Morris, along with Newsmax publisher Christopher Ruddy and "investment expert" David Frazier.

The bio of Morris at the end of the promo also engages ina bit of revisionism as well, claiming that "Morris is almost universally credited with piloting Bill Clinton to a stunning comeback re-election victory in 1996." That statement appears to assume a narrow definition of "universally," covering only people who don't know that Morris quit Clinton's 1996 campaign two months before the election after getting caught with a $200-an-hour prostitute.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:23 AM EST
Alien vs. Predator Fetus
Topic: Media Research Center

In his Jan. 16 column, Brent Bozell demands that the media ban the use of the word "fetus" because it is "a cold, humanity-negating word" and "too demeaning of human life" (not to mention because it's a soft' n' cuddly word that plays into to Bozell's anti-abortion agenda). Bozell, meanwhile, hearily endorses the use of another word that is arguably just as humanity-negating: "alien."

As in "illegal alien," of course -- the preferred term among conservatives like Bozell for humans in this country illegally. No whining from Bozell about how "alien" is "too demeaning of human life" -- in fact, the term popped up in three Bozell columns last year, as well as numerous other places in MRC websites.

If Bozell wants to defend the use of "alien" to describe a human because it's an accepted legal term (as conservatives are wont to do), then he must accept "fetus" as an accepted legal and medical term. Waddaya say, Brent?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:17 AM EST
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
CNS' Own Readers Bash Its Anti-Huckabee Bias

We weren't the only ones to notice's slanted attack on Mike Huckabee's record on taxes in Arkansas -- rank-and-file readers noticed too, judging by CNS' Jan. 15 letters column.

Letter-writer Randy H. stated: "You failed to mention the court-ordered mandate to raise income for schools and roads. If this is not a hit piece, why did you not mention the facts concerning what Gov. Huckabee had to do?" Randy added a little stinger at the end: "Unfortunate that what I thought was the last bastion of unbiased media has activist journalists as well." Poor guy doesn't know just how wrong he was about that.

Another writers adds in a similar vein: " Huckabee may still be a tax raiser, but don't charge him for what is court-ordered."

Yet another person wrote:

It is interesting that the CATO Institute, at the request of Cybercast News Service only did an analysis of Mike Huckabee's tax record. If the intent was to help readers understand the potential impact of a candidate's tax policy, wouldn't it make sense to include the massive tax increases under Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani? The truth is none of the GOP hopefuls can be given an A+ on taxes, especially those who were conservative governors in liberal states as were Huckabee and Romney. Cybercast News Service could and should take the lead in objective reporting by evaluating all candidates on the same issues and by the same criteria. In the end, Huckabee may not look as good as Romney or Giuliani, but Cybercast News Service would look better than their counterparts in the establishment media. ...

CNS no longer has to take our word for it that their reporting is fairness-challenged -- real, live readers don't like it either. Will CNS do anything about it? We shall see.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 PM EST
Reading Comprehension Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

A bizarre Jan. 12 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston bashes the Associated Press for doing an article Chris Matthews' remarks about Hillary Cinton. The AP, Huston asserts, "is trying to drum up sympathy for Matthews who is supposedly on the receiving end of a "backlash" for his supposed attacks on Hillary Clinton." Huston excerpts a statement from the AP article noting that "The liberal watchdog Media Matters for America counted more than eight negative remarks Matthews made about Clinton for every positive one during September, October and November." Huston responded: "Gadzooks! EIGHT THINGS? That monster!" (Boldface his).

Um, Warner, honey, that's a ratio. The actual count is 82 negative remarks vs. 10 positive ones.

And this guy is a featured writer on a major blog ... why?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 1:01 PM EST
Corsi Offers Biased Promotion of Anti-Hillary Film
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Ken Timmerman isn't the only one engaging in a little historical revisionism in connection with the new anti-Hillary movie. Jerome Corsi writes in a Jan. 15 WorldNetDaily article:

Also attending the premiere was Billy Dale, the 35-year White House travel office manager whose career began under President Kennedy and ended when the Clintons pressed criminal charges against him that later were proved false. The Clintons, according to federal investigators, were trying to clear the way for their campaign contributors to place their own people in the travel office.

In fact, as we've noted, contrary to Corsi's suggestion, independent counsel Robert Ray reported that there were irregularities in the travel office under Dale and that "the Federal Bureau of Investigation had determined that sufficient evidence existed to provide the requisite predicate for the opening of a criminal investigation." Further, Ray also pointed out that "The decision to fire the Travel Office employees was a lawful one. The Travel Office employees served at the pleasure of President Bill Clinton, and they were subject to discharge without cause."

Corsi also noted that "Featured in the film and attending the premier was Kathleen Willey, author of WND Books' 'Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton[.]' In the film, Willey speaks at length about the Clinton camp's personal attacks on her for accusing the president of sexually accosting her in the White House." But Corsi -- following apparent WND editorial policy -- doesn't note Willey's history of contradictory statements and outright lies. Similarly, Corsi noted the film touches on "Peter F. Paul's $17 million civil lawsuit" without noting that Paul is a convicted felon.

Further, Corsi curiously fails to use the word "conservative" in the article, describing Newt Gingrich, Frank Gaffney, Tony Blankley, Ann Coulter and Robert Novak only as "political notables" and failing to accurately describe them as conservatives.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:19 AM EST

Newer | Latest | Older

Bookmark and Share

Get the WorldNetDaily Lies sticker!

Find more neat stuff at the ConWebWatch store!

Buy through this Amazon link and support ConWebWatch!

Support This Site

« January 2008 »
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

Bloggers' Rights at EFF
Support Bloggers' Rights!

News Media Blog Network

Add to Google