CNS' Summer of Interns Pestering People With Gotcha Questions Comes To An End Topic: CNSNews.com
As we'venoted, The main job of summer interns at CNSNews.com this year appears to have been pestering members of Congress with loaded gotcha questions designed to push right-wing narratives. That's [pretty much how the rest of the summer played out.
In mid-July, CNS served up a few more stragglers for its previous gotcha question about immigration: “Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution says the president ‘shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’ Does the president have a constitutional duty to enforce the immigration laws?” This time, Sens. Robert Menendez, Patty Murray, Jon Tester, Angus King and Steve Daines and Reps. Andy Harris and Robert Aderholt got the treatment. With the previous round, that's a total of 21 congressfolk who got the CNS treatment over this question.
Also in July, as budget talks were going on between Congress and the White House, interns were sent out to ask members of Congress a questions almost certainly scripted by editort in chief Terry Jeffrey: “The federal government spent $4.1 trillion in fiscal 2018 and ran a deficit of $779 billion dollars. Does the government spend too much money?” And several responded, mostly Republicans who gave the conservatively correct answer:
At the end of the month, after a deal had been reached and the House had already passed it, the interns were apparently sent out to try this again to Republican senators with another obviously Jeffrey-penned question: “The recent budget deal passed by the House last week allows the government to borrow a limitless amount of money until July 31, 2021. Do you support that?” They were only able to pin down Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Scott. (UPDATE: CNS also asked the question of GOP Sen. Mike Braun, but the story wasn't published until four days after the Senate vote was taken.)
For what was apparently their final project -- and the sole question of the summer targeted at Democrats and non-members of Congress -- the interns collaborated on an Aug. 8 article about their latest gotcha question:
Despite the well-documented violence of the radical left Antifa group -- the Department of Homeland Security classifies it as “domestic terrorist violence” – not one of the 23 Democrats running for president would condemn Antifa when repeatedly asked by CNSNews.com over the course of 12 business days.
The Trump administration did respond, within a day, condemning Antifa.
In emails and telephone calls to the press offices and campaigns of the 23 Democrats running and to the Trump campaign, CNSNews.com asked the candidates to answer two questions about Antifa based on background about the group reported by Politico.
CNSNews.com then asked the candidates, 1) Do you condemn Antifa? And 2) Do you believe federal law enforcement agencies should take all lawful steps necessary to prevent Antifa from engaging in ‘domestic terrorist violence’ during the 2020 U.S. election campaign?
Done like a "news" organization that's more interested in pushing a narrative and generating partisan clickbait than actual news. But is that what these interns should really be learning?
MRC's Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy In Action Again Topic: Media Research Center
We've written before about the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy, the logical fallacy in which (as it applies in the ConWebWatch world) conservatives believe that any piece of news that's negative to conservatives is being reported specifically because the reporter or anchor personally approves of that negative news. The Media Research Center is particularly particularly prone to this fallacy, and we have another example.
"CNN's Baldwin Blames Trump for Man Attacking Boy Over Anthem" reads the headline on an Aug. 9 MRC item by Brad Wilmouth. But the item doesn't support that headline:
On Thursday's CNN Newsroom, as host Brooke Baldwin devoted a segment to a disturbed man who assaulted a 13-year-old boy for refusing to remove his hat during the national anthem, host Baldwin and correspondent Sara Sidner suggested that President Donald Trump was to blame for inspiring the man to perpetrate the violent act.
After recalling reports that 39-year-old Kurt Brockway attacked the boy during the national anthem on a fairground in Montana because he refused to remove his cap, leaving the child with a skull fracture, Sidner relayed claims by Brockway's attorney tying the violent act to the President's demands that the American flag be respected:
The attorney for Brockway, the suspect, said that his client does have a brain injury and has problems with impulse control. Get this: He said that Brockway takes the rhetoric of President Trump literally and is angered any time he thinks someone was disrespecting the flag.
She added: "So apparently he thought this child was disrespecting the flag, and he attacked him."
Baldwin went along with the notion of blaming President Trump as she responded: "Words matter. Sara Sidner, thank you."
At no point does Baldwin or Sidner "blame Trump" for the attack -- she and Sidner are simply relaying the fact that the man's attorney says the man thought he was doing Trump's bidding. Wilmouth is imparting much more meaning to Baldwin's "words matter" throwaway line than is there, for the seemingly sole reason of manufacturing outrage to advance his employer's "liberal media" narrative.
The fact that Baldwin reported this story does not mean that she agrees with the case being presented by the man's lawyer. The fact that the MRC repeatedly attributes a reporter's or anchor's personal views to the stories they report on -- as if its "media researchers" are mind-readers -- is a huge reason why it has little credibility outside the right-wing anti-media choir it's preaching to.
Terry Jeffrey Trump Deficit Blame Avoidance Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
The latest episode in CNSNews.com editor in chief Terry Jeffrey's refusal to single out President Trump by name for his role in running up the federal deficits Jeffrey decries comes in an Aug. 12 article headlined "$3,727,014,000,000: Federal Spending Sets Record Through July; Treasury Runs $866,812,000,000 Deficit" (in his usual deviation from accepted AP journalistic style by putting full numbers in the headline instead of the shorthand of saying "billion" or "trillion"):
The federal government spent a record $3,727,014,000,000 in the first ten months of fiscal 2019 (October through July), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.
While spending that record $3,727,014,000,000, the government ran a deficit of $866,812,000,000.
As usual, the words "Trump" and "Republican" never appear in Jeffrey's article, even though they control the executive branch and half of Congress. It also has the usual implicit blame-spreading through the use of photo of Trump with Nancy Pelosi, suggesting equal blame even though Pelosi controls only one-half of one branch of government. At least this time Jeffrey found a different Trump-Pelosi stock photo to use, after the previous three months of using stock photos taken from the same Trump-Pelosi event.
It's so bad for Jeffrey, in fact, that he's been forced to admit that earlier high deficit spending involved a recession. In noting that the last time federal spending was this high in the first 10 months of a fiscal year was 2009, Jeffrey added: "Federal spending was impacted in fiscal 2009 by the recession that was ongoing when that fiscal year began. At the beginning of fiscal 2009, President George W. Bush signed the Troubled Asset Relief Program to bailout failing banks. Later that fiscal year, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aimed at stimulating the economy."
Still, Jeffrey can't quite admit that Trump doesn't have a recession and economic stimulation to blame for all the deficit spending.
MRC Is Mad NY Times Made A Headline More Accurate Topic: Media Research Center
As part of its narrative-invoking coverage of the aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton massacres, the Media Research Center had a meltdown over a headline.
Following President Trump's speech following the massacres, the first edition of the print edition of the New York Times carried a front-page story about it with the headline "Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism." But for the second print edition the headline was changed to "Assailing Hate But Not Guns." Never mind that it's hardly unheard of for newspapers to alter headlines between editions (not that anyone at the MRC would know that, since so few of them have ever worked for the type of news operation they attack every day) -- the MRC smelled conspiracy. Never mind that the second headline is arguably more accurate because it reflects Trump's failure in his speech to mention anytring about guns, though more than 30 people were shot to death in those massacres.
Clay Waters ranted that the Times succumbed to "left-wing Twitter pressure" by changing the "accurate" headline to something more "Trump-skeptical" (which Waters doesn't deny is also accurate). This was an "ignominious retreat," Waters insisted.
Needless to say, MRC chief Brent Bozell was compelled to rant as well, and he ran to Fox Business for an easy platform to do so. The "hard left" that allegedly forced the Times to change the headline is "clearly out of control," Bozell huffed, forcing the times to move away from a headline that told “the truth” even though it went “against” their alleged anti-Trump narrative. Of course, Bozell has an anti-media narrative that he gets paid well to promote. And foer good measure, Bozell shouted down a rare liberal panelist by putting words in his mouth.
Bozell also agreed with a Fox Business correspondent that the new headline was "fake news," sneering that "the left has so much power that they can change truth in a newspaper like The New York Times." He offered no evidence that the new headline wasn't true or had anything "fake" in it.
(In a fit of corporate synergy, Bozell's rant also got summarized at his "news" division, CNSNews.com.)
Waters returned the next day to claim that Times executive editor Dean Baquet was on an "apology tour" over the headline change in which the paper "caved" to "a left-wing social media mob." Once again, Waters insisted that the original headline "did reflect what Trump said accurately" while refusing to admit that the new headline is also accurate. Waters also attacked the paper's alleged "leftist readership" who is "slavering for a constant supply of anti-Trump red meat" -- as if Waters wasn't catering to the MRC's right-wing readership slavering for a constant supply of anti-media red meat.
But Waters still couldn't let it go, beginning another post attacking the Times for something else by referencing the headline controversy: "The New York Times has learned its lesson on front-page headlines, making sure it injected plenty of anti-Trump context to lead its Thursday edition, after being vilified by the left for insufficient hostility toward Trump (and quickly changing a banner headline) on Tuesday."
At the MRC, the narrative is all, and the Times has always been a target. Let's not pretend it cares about journalism.
AIM Touts PragerU Video Making Discredited Claim About Trump and Charlottesville Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media's Carrie Sheffield writes in an Aug. 6 post:
In the wake of the El Paso shooting, liberal media commentators have brought up President Donlad Trump’s response to the violent protests of Charlottesville, Va., to claim the president praised racist neo-Nazis and created a climate for El Paso.
Cortes outlines what Trump said, acknowledging there were at least four groups of people around the chaos of Charlottesville: two separate groups of peaceful protesters from both sides disagreeing about a statute of Robert E. Lee — people who were not part of either the violent white supremacist neo-Nazis (who the president condemned in his 2017 speech: “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 that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”) or the violent Antifa counter-protesters.
But that claim -- which undergirds Cortes' video -- is not true, as others have reported even before the video was made. Even other conservatives concede that as well. Here's Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner blowing up the video:
Cortes (see the 1:56 mark, and following) and other conservatives have emphasized “another group” of “peaceful protesters,” and said “lest you have any doubts that there were good people in Charlottesville …, the New York Times confirmed it in a story they published the next day.”
What was the evidence? A quote from one woman, and only one, named Michelle Piercy, who said she and a conservative group had traveled from Wichita, Kansas to protest the statue’s removal.
So, who was that group? Well, Piercy herself identified it as an outfit called “American Warrior Revolution.” They were there supposedly as “neutral protesters” who traveled all that way to, get this, “talk to antifa and Black Lives Matter and let them know that the way they were protesting is the wrong way to go about it.”
If that sounds suspicious — if you doubt that a group with the martial name American Warrior Revolution is a peace-loving dampener of tensions — your doubts are justified. A little Internet research shows that they consider themselves a militia. Lest their outlook be misunderstood, they provide a helpful video as self-advertisement. Please watch it, here.
The kicker is that Trump insisted that the very fine people specifically were at the rally the night before Heyer was killed by a neo-Nazi. He said it twice. That is howlingly false. The night before was the rally in which white nationalists by the hundreds marched in paramilitary order, bearing weapons, holding aloft tiki torches, yelling racist and anti-Semitic epithets.
50 Years Later, MRC Can't Stop Obsessing Over Chappaquiddick Topic: Media Research Center
In May, the Media Research Center's Nicholas Fondacaro dismissed as old news reporting that revealed new details about the billions of dollars President Trump lost in the 1980s: "[D]id you feel like you already knew about that? So did everyone else, because Trump’s financial problems during that time were well documented." Well, the MRC has insisted on pushing a story that's even older news. (It's done this before.)
One of the MRC's big obessions has been Ted Kennedy in general and Chappaquiddick particular. One extreme of this obsession, as we've documented, is how it has utterly refused to retract a false interpretation of quote by writer Charles Pierce regarding Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in the car Kennedy drove off a bridge in 1969, that it insisted praised Kennedy when, in fact, it was criticizing him.
In another example of trying to capitalize on old news, the MRC used the 50th annniversary of the Chappaquiddick incident to crank out more attacks.
Scott Whitlock cranked out a piece headlined "50 Years of Shame: How Journalists Protected Ted Kennedy After Chappaquiddick." He repeated the MRC's false attack on Pierce, whining that the quote it has miscontrued for 16 years came in a "mostly sympathetic profile" of Kennedy. He also complained that a film last year about Chappaquiddick -- which the MRC heavily promoted and loved for its anti-Kennedy bias -- didn't get much media coverage, but he didn't mention how the film tanked at the box office, earning a paltry $17 million.
An accompanying piece by Clay Waters complained that the 1969 moon landing obscured coverage of Chappaquiddick, which he claims "media watchdogs" -- he omitted the "conservative" qualifier that obviously belongs there -- blame on "media bias." Apparently, Americans landing on another planet wasn't as newsworthy as an incident conservatives wanted to exploit. Waters went on to whine that the New York Times panned the "Chappaquiddick" movie.
Even stories that are about other members of the Kennedy family must be reframed to be about Chappaquiddick. Whitlock returned in an Aug. 2 post expressing displeasure that a New York Times story about the tragic death of Robert Kennedy's granddaughter didn't make Chappaquiddick priminent enough in its "Kennedy family tragedy" list, huffing further that "none of these networks tried to lump in Chappaquiddick and Kopechne’s death as an example of a 'tragedy' for the Kennedys."
Complaining that a story about a tragedy wasn't reframed to be about another tragedy that's more politically exploitable? Now that's obsession.
WND's Kupelian Complains About Trump-Hitler Comparisons, Forgets That His Website Loved To Compare Obama to Hitler Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily managing editor David Kupelian tried to exert some moral authority in an Aug. 14 column:
Most people understand that the current super-heated rhetoric being dished out by Democratic Party presidential candidates and others just amounts to cynical political calculation – intended to help Democrats regain the White House and the Senate, and therefore the courts, next year.
Yet, there is a very clear, if sometimes unspoken, additional message inherent in such rhetoric. Stay with me here:
* Call the president names – “he’s a racist,” “a bigot” or “xenophobe” – and the unspoken but clear message is: “He’s a person of bad character, unworthy of being president, and must be defeated at the ballot box next year.”
* Call the president a criminal – “he colluded with the Russians,” “obstructed justice” or “cheated on his taxes” – and the unspoken but clear message is: “He is guilty of impeachable offences and must be removed from office by Congress, and then criminally prosecuted once he’s out of office.”
* But what about continually calling the president another Adolf Hitler, a genocidal monster who murdered 11 million people?
This utterly deranged comparison started back in 2016, when, asnthis writer reported, no fewer than five different Washington Post writers likened Trump to Hitler during the run-up to the election. Today, the drumbeat has grown ever more brazen and hardcore, with recent examples including CNN host Don Lemon comparing Trump to Hitler on-air and Democrat presidential candidate “Beto” O’Rourke hysterically likening the Trump administration to “the Third Reich.”
Now, ask yourself honestly: If you were a German citizen living in Germany during the Third Reich, what would be the only truly moral response to Adolf Hitler?
We all know the answer.
There were at least 16 different plots to assassinate Hitler, including most famously “Operation Valkyrie” (the so-called “20 July Plot”), which was made into a blockbuster movie starring Tom Cruise as the heroic German army officer, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg. Even the revered Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was hanged by German authorities for his alleged role in this particular plot. The people who attempted to assassinate Hitler – to slay a vicious criminal psychopath, to stop a genocide, to end a terrible war – are rightly regarded, to this very day, all over the world, as patriots and heroes.
That, whether consciously or not, is the actual message that today’s reckless pretenders – whether they are pretend journalists desperately vying for ratings or pretend statesmen desperately vying to become leader of the free world – are broadcasting every day.
You know who else loved to describe a president as another Adolf Hitler, a genocidal monster who murdered 11 million people? The website that Kupelian runs.
Likening President Obama to Hitler or other Nazis was practically a staple attack at WND. It had a columnist Hilmar von Campe, who practically reveled in doing so. Kupelian's boss, Joseph Farah, demanded that a minister not give the invocation at Obama's inauguration, citing Obama's "evil policies" and adding, "I'm sure you would not want to invoke God's blessing on the inauguration of a figure like Adolf Hitler, whose rise to power brought the destruction of millions of lives." Farah even worked an Obama-Hitler comparsion into his bogus birther crusade, declaring that tyhey were similarly ineligible to hold their leadership positions.
WND-published author Anita Dittman loved the comparion too, insisting that "Liberals’ blind idolization of Obama mirrored Germany’s hypnotic fascination with Hitler, Dittman said of the racist tyrant whose vitriolic rhetoric dehumanized the Jewish people as a prelude to his attempts at total annihilation." (Ironically, Kupelian has repeatedly displayed his blind loyalty to Trump.) It even published a column defending the smear and insisting that those who complained about it "are out of ideas or have too much time on their hands."
Did Kupelian freat about inflaming violent attacks Obama when he published those attacks the way? Doubtful -- Kupelian has his own personal hatred of Obama that's so pathological that he actually accused Obama of perpetrating the "date rape of America." Near as we can tell, Kupelian would not have minded an assassination attempt or two on Obama; heck, he's so filled with hate that he might have easily been moved to perpetrate one.
Given all this newfound outrage, will Kupelian reflect on his website's past extreme rhetoric and issue a heartfelt apology to Obama for inciting its readers to consider assassination? Even more doubtful -- has WND ever apologized for anything without being threatened with a lawsuit first?
(And we haven't even gotten to the fact that WND also loved to liken Obama to the Antichrist.)
WND has regularly freakedout about Trump-Hitler comparision, deliberately oblivious to the fact that it did the exact same thing to Obama. Kupelian is being as dishonest and hypocritical now as his website was then.
Kupelian's cynical double standard doesn't build confidence that WND deserves to live.
MRC Pushes Debunked Talking Points Denying GOP 'Southern Strategy' Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Ryan Foley used an Aug. 1 post to attack MSNBC's Ari Melber for claining that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan are part of "the foundation of discrimination and racism and the politics of hate that has long stained America." The factual basis for this statement was the release of an audiotape of a phone call between Reagan and then-President Nixon in which Reagan expressed racist sentiments. Foley did smartly concede taht Reagan's comments were "indefensible," then huffed that Melber had an obligation to provide the history of the Democrats’ record on race":
For starters, 21 Senate Democrats opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 while only six Senate Republicans did. In 1971, the year the aforementioned conversation took place, segregationists, the real “foundation of discrimination and racism and the politics of hate that has long stained America,” made up a large portion of the Democratic Party.
As for “the southern strategy” supposedly used by Richard Nixon to win the south, it didn’t work. In 1968, half of the southern states were carried by segregationist George Wallace or Democrat Hubert Humphrey. Only in the landslide elections of 1928, 1952, 1956, 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988 did Republicans carry an overwhelming majority of the southern states.
It was not until 2000 that Republicans began consistently carrying a majority of the southern states in presidential elections. By then, the Democrats’ far-left positions on abortion, guns, and environmentalism had made them unpalatable to a majority of voters in the increasingly conservative and religious south. For more information on the truth about the “southern strategy,” consult this PragerU video from Dr. Carol Swain.
But Foley is misleading about the state of segregation by political party in the 1960s. While 21 Senate Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he failed to mention that 46 Democrats did -- meaning his claim that "a large portion" of Democrats were segregationists was likely untrue. That shift arguably began in 1948, when President Harry Truman rejected segregationist Strom Thurmond by endorsing a civil rights plank in the Democratic Party platform, forcing him to run as a third-party candidate for president.
Foley also seems to be arguing that because the Southern Strategy "didn't work" in 1968, it was never actually a thing. As historian Kevin Kruse points out in a Twitter thread debunking the PragerU video Foley cites, the Southern Strategy really was a thing. Also, the reason Nixon didn't win all the southern states in 1968 is because they were won by segregationist George Wallace. Nixon won all those states in 1972. And Southerners did not suddenly switch en masse in 2000 over "abortion, guns, and environmentalism"; the shift began in the 1960s as Democrats embraced civil rights and Republicans moved away from it. And the years that Republicans didn't dominate the south were years in which Democrats from the South -- Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton -- ran for president.
Repeating discredited right-wing narratives isn't helping the MRC's credibility.
NEW ARTICLE: CNS' War on Robert Mueller, Part 2 Topic: CNSNews.com
As the Mueller investigation into Trump actions wound down, CNSNews.com became even more of a pro-Trump shill, ramping up its attacks on the probe and on Mueller himself. Read more >>
Alveda King Becomes A Pro-Trump Shill Topic: Newsmax
We've noted how anti-abortion activist Alveda King is sliding more toward the explicitly political and, specifically, becoming a pro-Trump shill. That slide has become more explicit in two recent columns.
In an Aug. 2 column published at Newsmax -- which still likes to give her the "Dr." honorific even though her doctorate is honorary and not earned -- King defended Trump against the accusation of being a racist following his attacks on the city of Baltimore, as had been suggested by the Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C., by denying that the concept of race even exists :
The words "racism" and "racist" are terms recklessly bandied about in the race card game; all of which is a deceptive, socially engineered decoy, creating oppressors and victims. This deception stirs the emotions while denying the much needed transformational civility, equality, justice, and freedom for all.
Sir, with all due respect, by scientific and spiritual definition, a racist is someone who denies scientific and spiritual evidence; that humans are one race.
As one who has encountered and resisted racism all of my life, I know a racist when I see a racist. I can assure you President Trump is not a racist.
Again, a racist is a person who doesn’t get Acts 17:26: Of one blood God made all people. I know President Trump understands that and prayerfully you do as well.
President Trump makes a fair case when he says: “We all bleed the same.” We should care about all people all over the world. That includes red blooded Americans, everywhere. We all need to acknowledge that Baltimore and other inner city areas across our country have problems. It is not racist to acknowledge these problems and President Trump is not racist for pointing them out.
King pushed a similar argument during a radio interview promoted in an Aug. 1 CNSNews.com article by Michael Morris.
Then, in an Aug. 8 column published at Newsmax and CNSNews.com, King her most pro-Trump statement yet by rehashing rote right-wing attacks on Democrats:
Meanwhile, in comparison, comments made by former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, and former Vice President Joe Biden, both accusing President Trump of being a white supremacist, are untimely and unseemly.
Biden and his compatriots are not being truthful.
Here are seven instances where President Trump denounces White Supremacy.
Biden and his compatriots support immoral baby killers including Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby.
Race baiters fail to mention that George Wallace apologized.
Fake News refuses to cover President Trump’s accomplishments, including fighting for The Unborn, criminal justice reform, and aid to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Meanwhile they ignore Biden’s part in incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Blacks.
Shame on Biden and his compatriots. Race baiting while POTUS and FLOTUS pay respect to the grieving. PRAY FOR AMERICA.
To back up her claim that Trump "denounces White Supremacy" and has "accomplishments," King linked to a Trump campaign Twitter account and the Trump White House website -- both effectively propaganda operations.
Such blatant shilling for Trump is not good for King's credibility, and that's on top on her continuing to insist on being referred to with the unearned "Dr." title.
MRC Hides Far-Right Leanings of 'Conservative' Google Whistleblowers Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has a narrative to push about high-tech companies and social media outlets being uniquely inhospitable to conservataives -- never mind that it's not actually true. Which explains how Corinne Weaver used an Aug. 1 item to tout the latest cause celebre-cum-victim on that front:
Conservatives might not be able to have a career in tech engineering unless they turn liberal.
In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, former Google engineer Kevin Cernekee detailed the political harassment he experienced from the time he was hired in 2015 to his ultimate firing in 2018. One manager publicly asked in 2017 on a chat forum if the company could fire the “poisonous assholes” who shared conservative views.
Google informed Cernekee that he was fired for misuse of equipment. Cernekee told the Wall Street Journal that he was fired for being conservative.
Weaver followed that up with a post promoting how President Trump embraced Cernekee's victimization narrative.
But Weaver is hiding something -- Cernekee is very much a committed far-right activist, not merely the "conservative" she claims.
As Gizmodo documented, Cernekee used internal Google message boards to promote a far-right crowdfunding platform that has defended the likes of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer and neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. He also argued that documented neo-Nazi groups merely "reject racial supremacy." A former Google co-worker of Cernekee's criticized his "questionable viewpoints and questionable tactics and that his denials of being an extremist ring hollow. Even the conservative Daily Caller has written of Cernekee and the narrative he provides that conservatives like Weaver embrace: "Conservatives angry at big tech may view such postings as a cautionary lesson in the importance of vetting their causecélèbres."
Despite the highly questionable claims this "conservative" whistleblower made, Weaver repeated the process (and the narrative) with an even more dubious person. She dutifully repeated no an Aug. 14 post:
Google used a blacklist and a blocklist for search results. And those two lists reportedly blocked a large amount of conservative content from the app — including NewsBusters.
A Google whistleblower, Zachary Vorhies, shared several documents with James O’Keefe and Project Veritas that were released August 14. These documents included a document with a Google Now blacklist and Google block list, and hundreds of other pages of material from internal Google memos, emails, and guidelines. This allegedly impacted the app and not all Google searches.
That block list included NewsBusters, MRCTV, Twitchy, Conservative Tribune, Front Page Mag, RedState, Christian Post, Daily Caller, and Catholic News Agency, among others.
Reminder: Project Veritas is so notorious for disreputable and sleazy tactics that even the MRC has denounced it. But it seems that advancing the narrative is good enough for James O'Keefe's group to get back in the MRC's good graces.
Later that day, Weaver scored an interview with Vorhies (following the narrative pays off in scoops!) in which he detailed Google's alleged diversity efforts. She apparently made no effort to fact-check Vorhies' claims.
The next day, Alexander Hall contributed to the narrative, touting a claim by Vorhies about how Google and YouTube purportedly manipulate search results to address "pro-life accuracy" and other issues. He too got an exclusive blurb from Vorhies. Weaver return to promote a document allegedly leaked by Vorhies regarding Google's cooperation with federal immigration officials.
None of these articles, however, did Weaver or Hall tell readers that Vorhies is even farther to the right than Cernekee.
The Daily Beast reports that Vorhies "is an avid promoter of anti-Semitic accusations that banks, the media, and the United States government are controlled by “Zionists.” He’s also pushed conspiracy theories like QAnon, Pizzagate, and the discredited claim that vaccines cause autism." He has also accused "Zionists" of killing Andrew Breitbart and Israel of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Weaver and Hall are censoring serious credibility problems with their alleged "whistleblowers" and the organization promoting them. That hurts the MRC's credibility as well -- but, apparently, pushing the narrative trumps all.
WND Blames Copycats, Not Trump, For Massacres Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily responded to the shootings in El Paso and Dayton much the way its fellow right-wingers at the MediaResearchCenter did: with distraction from Trump's rhetoric and whataboutism to attack Democrats.
Article on how the Dayton shooter's alleged support for Elizabeth Warren (from Art Moore)? Check. Playing whataboutism over inflammatory rhetoric to take the heat off Trump (by Michael Brown and an anonymous writer)? Check and check. Denyhing the El Paso shooter had any white nationalist motivation (from Andy Schlafly)? Check.
But for that added WND touch, we have to turn to David Kupelian, who tries to sound all smart and stuff (while also deflecting attention from Trump's rhetoric) by blaming the copycat effect, suggesting that the shooting at a festival in California triggered these shootings:
But in light of the close proximity of these two most recent mass shootings, as well as the mass shooting just six days earlier, at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California, resulting in three dead (plus the shooter) and 12 injured, consider the problem from a different vantage point – one that casts the growing incidence of mass-shootings in terms of “contagion.” Or in more everyday terms, the “copycat crime” effect.
Kupelian even found a way to work in some Muslim-bashing: "Likewise, jihad – the Islamic variety of mass-murder madness – has proven so susceptible to the copycat phenomenon that imitation may be the single most important factor involved, especially since jihad cheerleaders and recruiters encourage precisely that."
Kupelian was careful not to mention the 2011 massacre in Norway perpetrated by Anders Breivik that killed dozens -- perhaps because WND is cited six times in his manifesto.
MRC After The Shootings: Still Defending Guns (But Blaming Hollywood For Putting Guns In Movies) Topic: Media Research Center
We've highlighted the various ways the Media Research Center pushed a conservative narrative in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, with an emphasis on protecting President Trump and pushing distractions. There was another component as well: attacking anyone who brought up the idea of increased gun regulation.
Curtis Houck howled "DIABOLICAL" in a headline about how CNN guests "slammed the National Rifle Association (NRA) as seemingly the one group that’s anthetical to keeping Americans safe." Houck hurled childish insults at anyone who didn't stick with the right-wing pro-gun narrative, "arrogant," "smug," and "deranged" among them, and huffing that one guest either didn't know or care "about why the Founders didn’t go with direct democracy."
Houck's excessive rhetorical flourishes continued in another post in which he accused CNN guests of engaging in "a nearly 14-minute-long beatdown of political commentator David Urban, who was the lone conservative panelist. Houck went even farther on his personal Twitter account, actually claiming that Urban was a victim of "rhetoric[al] waterboarding."
Famous people who said something about guns were a big target. Gabriel Hays bashed "Hollywood leftists" for having an opinion on the shootings -- making sure to get in the talking point that the Dayton shooter was "a self-described "leftist" who supported ANTIFA violence and Elizabeth Warren's bid for the presidency" -- then went after country music artists who spoke out, sneering that "aspiring activists should be called to propose something constructive, rather than just, 'Oh, my gosh! FIX IT!'"
In the same vein, Aiden Jackson went off on late-night hosts who advocated stricter gun laws, right down to invoking the rote talking point that everyone in the media and doesn't adhere to right-wing narratives is an "elitist": "It is easy for elitist members of the media, with personal security guards, to demonize those who have to take their safety into their own hands." Amnd it's easy for conservativeslike Jackson, in their right-wing media bubble, to demonize all who disagree with them. Jackson later attacked "The Daily Show" for making a video game about moving a gun-restriction law through Congress that's a parody of first-person shooter games, huffing that it was "gauche" and "virtue-signaling." But isn't Jackson virtue-signaling by attacking anyone who criticizes guns?
Nicholas Fondacaro ranted about the townhall CNN aired after the shootings, attacking it in advance as a "anti-gun show trial" that would "emotionally exploit grieving families"and rehashing his rage at a post-Parkland townhall CNN aired.AFterwards, Fondacaro robotically called it a "show trial" again, complaining that host Chris Cuomo "lashed out at the National Rifle Association for not subjecting themselves to the hate and rhetorical torture session they were treated to at the Parkland shootingtown hall last year." Which can also be interpreted as the NRA's refusal to leave the conservative media bubble where it knows the MRC and its media allies will ever say an unkind word about it.
Houck kept up the "show trial" narrative after the townhall, declaring it to be "just as hideously horrible as one could have predicted when it came to promoting gun control and confiscation in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings."
And Jorge Plaza argued that the real problem isn't guns but movies that have guns in them:
On August 4th, two horrific shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio shocked the nation. Americans from coast to coast were nonplused that such atrocious acts could be committed by their compatriots, and unfortunately, many are already using these events as political clubs to beat the drum for gun control. They scapegoat guns as the root issue, ignoring the possible cultural influences.
On the same weekend of the shootings, the gun-touting filmHobbs & Shawfrom theFast & Furious series surged to the top of the box office, breaking $60 million in its first weekend. In the movie’s three official trailers, a gun flashed on screen a total of 106 times. According to IFDB.org, the movie features 19 guns that the New York Post would classify as “weapons of war” -- that is, any gun that is not a handgun.
Mentally sound adults understand the line between fantasy and reality. The shallow enjoyment we derive from watching a bunch of guns firing on screen is easily distinguished from its real life counterpart. It’s difficult to say the same for people of unsound mind, and perhaps it would not be completely out of line to say that our viewing enjoyment may influence mentally ill people that commit mass shootings. It’s possible that sadistic psychopaths come to the conclusion that shooting people in real life is as fun as in the movies.
Nevertheless, there should at least be a mourning period before the media goes off to politicize a tragedy. Have the decency to let the dead rest in peace before you stand on their graves to push your political agenda.
As if Plaza and the rest of the MRC were not also politicizing a tragedy in their vociferous defense of Trump and guns.
Finally, Geoffrey Dickens served up yet another of the MRC's dubious "studies," this one claiming that "the networks filled their morning show programs with statements favoring gun control over gun rights by a ratio of roughly 17 to 1." As usual, no methodology or raw data was provided so that readers could see how the MRC arrived at its conclusions. Ironically, Dicken's piece is illustrated with a screen shot of a "CBS This Morning" host holding up a pro-restriction front page cover from ... the New York Post, which is most definitely part of the "liberal media." Yet we don't recall the MRC going after the Post for that headline.
CNS Loves To Quote Group Funded By Same Folks That Fund CNS Topic: CNSNews.com
A July 18 CNSNews.com article by Melanie Arter starts off by reporting on a House vote to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But most of the article -- 10 of its 14 paragraphs -- was devoted to an attack on a higher minimum wage by Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, repeating the usual right-wing talking points and plugging an effort by the organization to push for higher-paying careers.
In addition to being an example of the right-wing bias CNS is increasingly unafraid to display -- at no point does Arter include any voices in support of a higher minimum wage -- Arter's article fails to disclose a conflict of interest. As we documented earlier this year when CNS promoted a JCN attack on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, JCN is funded by the Mercer family, which also happens to be the largest individual donor to CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, providing one-fourth of its multimillion-dollar annual budget, some of which presumably goes to pay for CNS reporting.
CNS has promoted JCN several other times this year without disclosing the conflict of interest:
Managing editor Michael W. Chapman devoted a Jan. 16 article to repeating JCN's anti-minimum wage attack, blandly describing JCN as a "small business non-profit advocacy group."
An April 29 article by Chapman quoted JCN's Ortiz supporting the nomination of right-wing economist Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve board.
A May 3 article by Craig Bannister touting low Hispanic unemployment rates included a quote from Ortiz.
A June 7 article by Bannister gave Ortiz space to spin away a low job creation rate as being caused by a labor shortage.
Committing to right-wing talking points over journalism isn't a good look -- especially when those talking points come from the same funders that fund you.
Mysterious MRC Sports Blogger Dumps On LeBron-Funded School Topic: Media Research Center
Last year, amid a fit of LeBron Derangement Syndrome at the Media Research Center, mysterious sports blogger Jay Maxson attacked the school in Akron, Ohio, that basketball superstar LeBron James is funding to help underprivileged students, then attacked the media for writing nice things about it "before the first report cards have been issued," sneering that "these young children should do well in political science class" because James has committed the offense of talking about things that don't involve sports.
A year later, Maxson is still attacking James and his school. In a July 17 post, Maxson disdained an article about the school's "emphasis on self esteem and unorthodox teaching methods," though he/she conceded that "students improved significantly from the beginning to the end of the first academic year."
After noting that the school does things that help students by engaging in "trauma-informed" practices and community service, Maxson still found a way to dismissively undercut the school's achievements:
The children are rallying behind LeBron James, [writer Hanif] Abdurraqib says, because his "drive and passion seeps into the spaces he occupies ... ." James is said to have widened the path for these children.
Very wide. Among the values stressed at the school is that everything is earned rather than given. However, students at I Promise School will automatically receive scholarships at Akron University whether they are academically earned or not.
It seems Maxson must always stay on the attack -- even a school that even he/she admits is doing good things.