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Thursday, June 12, 2008
New MRC Report Can't Back Up Its Claims
Topic: Media Research Center

A new report by the Media Research Center and the MRC's Culture and Media Institute purports to argue against a return of the Fairness Doctrine by claiming it's a myth that, among other things, "major corporations are muzzling liberal opinion on the radio, so Americans are not hearing both sides of issues." But this argument lacks any real evidence to support it.

The report counters claims about the dominance of conservatives on talk radio by asserting that "Public radio offers consistently liberal news/talk programming produced by four separate networks." The report offers no evidence that public radio is "consistently liberal," even though it's not shy about end-noting things (there are 54).

These kinds of baseless claims permeate the report. It similarly insists that "every major broadcasting network leans to the left," and that "No major conservative-leaning broadcast television network exists," without offering any evidence to back it up. It also claims that CNN, CNN Headline News and MSNBC are "liberal-leaning"; supririsingly, it does state that Fox News is "conservative-leaning," contrary to the MRC's longtime efforts to pretend otherwise.

It further claims that the "weekly news magazine medium," as represented by Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, "is composed exclusively of liberal-leaning sources." That's unsupported as well -- in fact, it's wrong. U.S. News has historically tilted conservative, and doesn't George Will have a column at Newsweek?

Regarding newspapers, the report claims:

America’s leading newspapers overwhelmingly tilt to the left. Twenty-one of the 25 newspapers with the highest daily circulation lean liberal, three lean conservative, and one paper fits in neither category.  The paper with the second greatest circulation, The Wall Street Journal, has a famously conservative editorial page, but the Journal’s news pages are among the nation’s most liberal, so we list the WSJ as “mixed.”

Again, no evidence is provided to back up these assertions of newspapers' political "tilt." Indeed, evidence shows the report's classifications of the "tilt" of the top 25 papers is not accurate at all:

  • The Washington Post is described as "liberal" even though it shares numerous editorial positions with the admittedly conservative Wall Street Journal.
  • The Orange County Register is described as "conservative" even though it considers itself to be libertarian
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune is described as "conservative" for reasons known only to the report's authors. The Union-Tribune was the paper that broke the story of the corruption scandal involving Republican congressman Duke Cunningham.

It's not a report, it's a polemic with a hole at the center of it -- claims about political slant it can't factually back up. Which makes it par for the course of overall MRC "research."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:02 AM EDT
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Noel Sheppard Double Standard Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard asked in a June 8 NewsBusters post: "Will Media Report Anti-Semitic Article at Obama's Website?"

The more important question: Will Sheppard report anti-Semitic comments at John McCain's website? (Not to mention derogatory slurs on Obama and Hillary Clinton.)

I think we know what the answer to the latter question is.

Sheppard, by the way, has a long history of engaging in double standards.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:22 PM EDT
WND's 'News' Standard On Obama: Baseless Speculation
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've previously detailed how WorldNetDaily's coverage of Barack Obama involves reporting things it hasn't bothered to verify are even true -- the normal, one might even say essential, function of a news organization. Part of that is reporting baseless speculation, as it did here and here.

WND does so again in a June 10 article that rehashes speculation by National Review blogger Jim Geraghty that there are questions about Obama's status of a legal resident of the United States that can only be answered by Obama releasing a copy of his birth certificate.

WND did report Geraghty's statement that it's "unlikely" the rumors are true, which raises the question: Why is WND reporting things it doesn't know are true? After all, WND has not applied this level of reporting -- the repeating of baseless speculation and rumors -- to its "news" coverage of John McCain.

The only possible reason is to smear Obama, just as it has done with previous Democratic candidates. Remember, WND sells a bumper sticker that reads, "Defeat Osama, Obama and Chelsea's Mama" -- note that McCain is not on it, which tells you not only that WND has a de facto pro-McCain agenda, but that WND is not a news organization at all but an advocacy group. After all, real news organizations don't engage in such biased and fact-free coverage of a candidate.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:30 AM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

A June 10 appearance on "Fox & Friends" by the MRC's Brent Bozell follows the template by (at least in the edited clip posted on NewsBusters) never being identified as a conservative, though his interview counterpart, liberal radio host Ed Schultz, was described as being "oddly on the right" side of the TV split screen.

Guys, you have your own (macaca-inspired) video website. You have all the bandwidth you need. Instead of selectively editing the segment to reduce exposure of any liberals, why not post the entire segment? What are you afraid of? 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 AM EDT
Traitor! Judas! The ConWeb's Anti-McClellan Frenzy
Topic: The ConWeb

The ConWeb is reaching new heights of frenzied hate toward Scott McClellan for daring to criticize President Bush.

In a column published June 9 at Newsmax and June 7 at WorldNetDaily, Pat Boone denounced McClellan as a Judas:

The last thing an honorable man, a patriot, would do is publicly undermine the character and leadership of our nation’s commander in chief while we’re at war. No patriot would knowingly aid and abet our enemies, the ones who’ve killed over 4000 of our fellow citizens and are determined to kill more of us, by proclaiming to the world that our president is a liar, a fraud, incompetent, and willing to send those under his command into futile, unjustified danger.

But a dishonest, unpatriotic man might do all that, especially if he could find some of his chief’s domestic enemies who would pay him a lot of money to do it.


Go on all the talk shows, Scott, and try to convince everybody you acted out of conscience and duty and greater loyalty; exult over the 30 pieces of silver as they pour in; and dream about getting a good job from someone who might still trust you.

I’m not suggesting you, like the other Judas, just go out and hang yourself. You’ve already done that.

Meanwhile, in a June 10 Accuracy in Media column, Jerry Zeifman asserted that coverage of McClellan permitted him to indulge in "some painful remembrances of past treasons. Zeifman claimed without evidence that McClellan's book "gives aid and comfort to the enemy" but lamented that "it is unlikely that a jury would find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the felony defined in the U.S. Criminal Code."

Zeifman cited Joe Kennedy as one of those "past treasons" for opposing U.S. entry into World War II and seeking "to obtain an audience with Adolf Hitler" in 1938, he doesn't mention as similarly treasonous Prescott Bush, the grandfather of the current President Bush, who did business with the Nazis.

Zeifman, you may recall, is the guy who claimed that he fired Hillary Clinton from a House Judiciary Committee post investigating Watergate, despite having insisting a decade earlier that he didn't have the authority to fire her. As we've noted, Zeifman is a self-proclaimed "lifelong Democrat" who likes to bash Democrats on right-wing websites.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:03 AM EDT
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Wash. Examiner Adds Another Conservative
Topic: Washington Examiner

While the Washington Times is trying to distance itself from its reputation of being a slavishly conservative newspaper, the Washington Examiner appears to be determined to bolster its already notable conservative pedigree.

Via NewsBusters, we learn that Mary Katherine Ham, managing editor for the conservative, is joining the Examiner as online editor, where she "will be responsible for overall management of the site's news and editorial content and staff, as well as working with Examiner and outside resources on creative development of new features and functionality."

NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd gave Ham a fond farewell, calling her "a friend and fan of NewsBusters and the Media Research Center." No mention of concern that her political slant will translate into biased journalism at the paper.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:18 PM EDT
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily
RezkoWatch defends WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein from Debbie Schlussel's claim that Klein plagiarized her work on an conveniently anonymous Obama-basher.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:51 PM EDT
Kincaid Gently Pushes Obama-Manchurian Candidate Meme
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In his June 9 column, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Bill Steigerwald interviews Cliff Kincaid about his efforts to portray Barack Obama as a secret commie:

Q: You are not making the claim that Obama is a communist or a “Manchurian Candidate”-type communist or anything else?

A: We are only raising the questions that the media will not look into. We think the media should examine both candidates. But in the case of Obama, who has only been a U.S. senator for a few years, there is more of a responsibility to inform the public about where he had come from. Remember, as president, he will be entitled to see all of our state secrets. And yet, as a candidate, he doesn’t have to undergo a background or security check. That’s why we depend on the media really to vet these candidates, so the American people can know who they are voting for.

So, the answer is yes. It's not like Kincaid hasn't pushed this before.

Interestingly, Steigerwald describes Kincaid only as "president of the conservative group America’s Survival Inc." and didn't mention his employment at Accuracy in Media -- surprising, since much of his America's Survival obsessions (anti-communism, anti-United Nations) show up in his AIM writings. Perhaps Kincaid needs to explain where exactly the line is between America's Survival and AIM.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:24 AM EDT
CNS' Misleading, One-Sided Story on Pill Protest

A June 6 article by Penny Starr offered a one-sided view of the American Life League's "Protest the Pill Day," purportedly designed "to educate women about how birth control pills and other products can cause chemically induced abortion." Starr quotes only ALL representatives and associates, adding only at the end that "Requests made to Planned Parenthood for comment on this story were not returned by press time" while apparently making no other effort to contact anyone else for a contrary view. (Starr has a history of attacking Planned Parenthood.)

Because there is no other view presented, Starr does things like describe the function of the birth control pill as "prevent[ing] ovulation" while failing to explain how a lack of ovulation equals "abortion." Starr also offers no statistics on what percentage of pregnancies prevented by the pill come in the form of blocking a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus -- what the ALL is presumably referring to "chemically induced abortions" caused by the pill -- so that the reader can determine how seriously to take ALL's anti-pill campaign. Neither Starr nor the ALL make no aparent effort to differentiate between that and preventing ovulation.

While Starr describes ALL as "a Roman Catholic pro-life non-profit," she does explain that, as a Roman Catholic group, ALL is opposed to all forms of artificial birth control.

Further, Starr makes no attempt to delve at all into the ALL's ultimate agenda (as hinted at by its absolutist position on birth control), which may actually be to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that overturned a law banning the sale of all forms of birth control (not just the pill) to married couples. Does the ALL want all birth control made illegal once again? That's a relevant question here, but Starr shows no apparent interest in answering it.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:37 AM EDT
Monday, June 9, 2008
NewsBusters' Selective Fixation with Obama's Fist Bump
Topic: NewsBusters

A June 8 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard claimed that "supposedly impartial press members have been sycophantically gushing over the 'fist bump' he and his wife shared that evening just prior to his victory speech"; the headline claimed that this alleged fixation showed that the media is "Obama-fixated and out of touch."

Of course, NewsBusters demonstrated its own fixation over it through two additional posts: one by Kyle Drennen and the other by Ken Shepherd, who asserted without evidence that Time magazine was displaying "Obama boosterism" by doing an article on the "brief history of the fist bump."

But there's one fist-bump media reference the boys at NewsBusters have not seen fit to mention: Fox News host E.D. Hill's claim that the fist bump might be "a terrorist fist jab."

Why is that? Because of the MRC's close relationship with Fox News? Or because Sheppard, et al, agree with (or at least condone) Hill's sentiment? We may never know.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:45 PM EDT
Sheppard's Double Standard on Gaffes
Topic: NewsBusters

A June 7 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard cited "a number of serious gaffes and misstatements by Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama that his adoring fans in the media are diligently keeping from the American people," concluding, "Can you imagine the attention that would be given to such gaffes if made by Sen. McCain?" The logical conclusion, then, is that if John McCain made such gaffes, Sheppard would be all over them, making sure that the public knew about them, right?


Following McCain's erroneous claim that Iran was training Al Qaeda -- a claim McCain made repeatedly -- Sheppard used an April 5 NewsBusters post to denounce the networks for drawing attention to it, claming that McCain had merely "misspoken" and had "acknowledg[ed] that he had misspoken concerning this matter," and that the only purporse in pointing this out was to "discredit those of a sitting member of the Senate" because the media is "always looking to bash on Republicans regardless of the source."

(Brent Baker similarly complained that this was reported at all.) 

Sheppard also railed against Keith Olbermann for having "quoted al Qaeda's second in command Ayman al-Zawahiri" to contradict McCain, adding, "Honestly, the good folks at General Electric and NBC must be so proud when their employees cite Public Enemy #2 to discredit Americans." Funny, Sheppard hasn't said a thing about WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein doing pretty much the exact same thing.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
MRC Attack on Pelosi Countered by the Truth
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center tried to gin up some controversy last week by making a big deal out of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's statement that Iranians "decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities."

A June 2 MRC press release called the statement a "vicious slander." further quoting MRC chief Brent Bozell as saying, "The Speaker of the House of Representatives slanders our troops in Iraq, whose blood, toil and tremendous sacrifice have led to the great and growing success we have seen there, and the liberal media are silent." A June 2 NewsBusters post by Seton Motley (a version of which was posted at Human Events) insisted that Pelosi engaged in "a clear and willful defamation of our soldiers in Iraq, and a diminution of the great and growing success we have seen there, paid for with their blood, toil and tremendous sacrifice."

But there's one thing Motley and the MRC failed to mention in all their histrionics: What Pelosi said was true.

As Media Matters detailed, major media outlets like CNN, the Washington Post and USA Today reported a couple months back that Iran did, in fact, help broker a cease-fire agreement Sunday between Iraq's government and radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. We don't recall anyone at the MRC complaining about it at the time.

Meanwhile, Motley went on to reference Rush Limbaugh "phony soldiers" comment, claiming that the media was "twisting and contorting the specificity of Limbaugh’s comment into a bogus broad-based slur of any American combatant opposed to the war." That's not exactly true; Limbaugh himself has offered inconsistent explanations for his statement, and in context it can indeed be interpreted as applying to "any American combatant opposed to the war."

The funny thing, of course, is that Motley is complaining about Limbaugh being out of context and "contorted by the media into journalistic libel" when he and the MRC are doing the exact same thing to Pelosi.

Their smear of Pelosi appears to have fizzled -- that's what happens when one is faced with the truth. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:21 AM EDT
WND Anti-Gay Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A June 5 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh reinforces WND's anti-gay agenda by continuing to distort facts regarding the case of anti-gay activist David Parker. The article uncritically repeats claims by Parker and the anti-gay group acting on his behalf, MassResistance, in demanding that that any reference to homosexuality, including the fact that homosexuals exist, must have an opt-out provision. Unruh quotes only Parker and a legal brief fild by MassResistance; no one is permitted to respond to their claims.

For instance, Unruh uncritically repeats MassResistance's assertion that Parker "told the principal and the city's director of education that he would not leave until the school agreed to negotiate some agreement on the matter [of 'teaching homosexual issues to his son in kindergarten without parental consent']. Rather than negotiate, the officials had Parker arrested and brought to jail, where he spent the night. The next morning he was led into Concord District court in handcuffs," without mentioning that Parker spent the night in jail only because he refused to bail himself out. Nor does Unruh bother to state that the example of "teaching homosexual issues" that was at issue was a book that included gay couples among different types of families -- a book that made no endorsement of gay couples but, rather, simply noted that they exist.

Unruh also baselessly asserts that a judge in the case "had ordered that school officials' work to undermine Christian beliefs is needed to prepare children for citizenship." That's a gross distortion; the judge merely disimissed Parker's lawsuit claiming that the school system violated their constitutional rights by teaching his child that homosexuals exist. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:08 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, June 9, 2008 12:09 AM EDT
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Will Newsmax, WND Tell Full Story of Baseless Obama Rumors?
Topic: Newsmax

Both Newsmax and WorldNetDaily have reported on rumors of the purported existence of a video of Michelle Obama using a, in WND's words, "derogatory term for white people ... and went further to criticize a reporter for even asking about it." Newsmax cited GOP prankster Roger Stone, while WND cites a report from Politico blogger Ben Smith on the rumors (but doesn't mention Smith's statement that there's "zero credible evidence" to support the rumor).

Indeed, not only is there "zero credible evidence," Talking Points Memo Election Central notes (citing the conservative National Review) that the rumors may, in fact, be based on a novel about a black presidential candidate.

Will Newsmax and WND tell their readers the full story about these baseless rumors? Don't count on it.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:33 PM EDT
Now He Tells Us
Topic: NewsBusters

Now that it doesn't matter all that much, Tim Graham uses a June 7 NewsBusters post to raise questions about John McCain (now-rejected) endorser Rev. John Hagee's sincerity in retracting his anti-Catholic comments:

Hagee had made viciously anti-Catholic comments, which he retracted completely (and sort of mysteriously) in a dialogue with the Catholic League. It's mysterious that a minister could hold the classic fundamentalist view that the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon in the Book of Revelation, and then say, oops, I misspoke a little.

As we detailed, Graham and the rest of the MRC were loath to denounce Hagee in early March when his comments became public; he was more concerned about downplaying the similarities between Hagee and former Barack Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright by claiming "there’s a huge difference between someone’s selected pastor of two decades and a new endorser." He does that here too, of course, claming a difference between "Obama’s problem with Jeremiah Wright, his own minister of 20 years, with John McCain’s problem with two evangelical preachers who he sought out for an endorsement, but have never been his pastor." But doesn't the fact that McCain specifically sought out the endorsements of Hagee and Rod Parsley (whose anti-Islam rantings Graham doesn't specifically address) in fact show a problem with the kind of people McCain chooses to surround himself with and actively seeks endorsements from?

Posted by Terry K. at 11:24 AM EDT

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