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Saturday, September 28, 2019
Tim Graham's Latest Anonymous-Source Complaint Fail
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Tim Graham ranted in a Sept. 10 post:

Imagine CNN running with a story based on anonymous sources that Barack Obama thought his children were stupid. Or the Clintons thought Chelsea was a moron. Unthinkable? Naturally. But with the Trump family, anything goes. On CNN Tonight on Tuesday, Don Lemon brought on McKay Coppins of The Atlantic to tout his tabloidish story about how Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump are furiously fighting each other to be president.

We could suggest two words about these hot palace-intrigue stories about dynastic dreams: "Jeb Bush."

CNN, which imagines itself a global force for good journalism, pays zero attention to the sourcing of this "fascinating" soup. They just drank it in as Coppins ladled it out: Don Jr. "emerged as this kind of shouty, testosterone-soaked, you know, mini-Trump,"  while Ivanka stayed in the White House and "kind of very quickly figured out that she was out of her depth."

The Trump kids are dummies. CNN loves that stuff.

As we've documented -- and Graham would never admit in public -- the MRC has no problem with anonymous sources when they advance his employer's political and anti-media narratives. Heck the MRC has employed at least one NewsBusters blogger who wrote anonymously under a fake name. (Among Graham's titles is executive editor of NewsBusters, so he's surely aware of this.)

Graham whined further:

This is the same CNN that happily regurgitated thinly sourced anti-Trump gossip from Michael Wolff, and from Omarosa, and so on, and so on.

But when Ed Klein wrote the gossipy book Blood Feud about the Clintons and the Obamas five years ago, CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter trashed his work on July 13, 2014: "To call it poorly sourced is a compliment. A lot of the book passages honestly sound too crazy to be true, like when Klein claims that one of Hillary Clinton's arguments with the president turned physical, with her jabbing him in the chest."

But the MRC is a hypocrite about Klein too. We've noted that it demanded media coverage of one Klein book despite publishing a post detailing its factual errors. In 2016, Graham similarly mustered up only lame whataboutism when Klein's anonymous sources were pointed out. He also did this in 2012 while alongside a complaint that the book's "headline-grabbing allegations" were being ignored.

Graham's hypocrisy on this issue is so ridiculous that perhaps he should give up.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:07 PM EDT
WND Columnist Doesn't Understand All The Fuss Over Vaping
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In her Sept. 16 WorldNetDaily column, Rachel Alexander does a mostly good rundown of the current issues surrounding vaping, such as the lung diseases and deaths associated with it. But she rushed to blame the problems on a certain brand of vaping liquid on the black market that uses THC, the active ingredient in marijuana -- in fact, officials have yet to pinpoint a single cause, and one examination of 86 vaping patients found they reported using 234 different products. And then, she had to go and push the point that vaping is still safer than cigarettes:

On the other hand, 480,000 die each year from regular cigarettes. Considering that only six people have died from vaping, could we be overreacting? A study found that smokers who switch to e-cigarettes are more likely to stop smoking than those using nicotine patches or gum.


It comes down to this: Are people's lives being saved from dying of lung cancer by switching to e-cigarettes? As long as we're not banning cigarettes, perhaps we need to keep this option open. There just needs to be more awareness that not all e-cigarettes are created equal. Buying them on the black market or from disreputable companies could be detrimental to your health. And manufacturers should stop marketing them to teenagers. Notably, flavored tobacco cigarettes are still legal.

E-cigarette manufacturers can apply next year to get approval from the FDA and return to the U.S. market. They will need to show that their products protect public health.

Then again, Alexander is also pushing the idea that corrupt ex-Rep. Steve Stockman was targeted by the Deep State, so maybe her reporting has an issue or two.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:47 AM EDT
Friday, September 27, 2019
MRC Gloats Over Low CBS Evening News Ratings
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center spent the first week of Norah O'Donnell's tenure viciously attacking her for her purported "liberal bias." Now, her ratings are low, and the MRC couldn't be happier about it. Nicholas Fondacaro gleefully wrote in a Sept. 3 post:

Things are not at all well on CBS Evening News, the flagship evening program for the third-place broadcast network. After making the major transition from CBS This Morning anchor Norah O’Donnell has been floundering in the ratings fight with ABC and NBC by hemorrhaging viewers for the first six weeks, according to the Nielsen ratings.

For all the talk about CBS News head Susan Zirinsky booting the more-balanced Jeff Glor (whose last newscast was May 10) under the guise of low ratings, that move sure didn’t appear to have paid off. Instead, it’s made matters worse.

Shockingly, the normally hot-headed Fondacaro refrained from further attacks on O'Donnell beyond his claim that Glor was "more balanced"; his source for that claim was a February post by Rich Noyes citing the MRC's highly dubious methodology to claim that Glor’s CBS Evening News has consistently aired fewer negative statements about the administration than either of its competitors," though he still made sure to complain that the program under Glor refused to be a "pro-Trump bastion" -- which, of course, is what Noyes, Fondacaro and the rest of the MRC are demanding all news programs become (which is why Fox News never faces questions from the MRC about its obvious media bias).

Posted by Terry K. at 2:30 PM EDT
CNS Mocks Actress For Speaking Out -- But Touted Ringo's Opinion on Brexit

Craig Bannister wrote in an Aug. 27 blog post:

Actress Alison Brie used her public platform as a music video award presenter to lecture her viewing audience on her interpretation of the U.S. Constitution on Monday.

Brie declared enforcement of U.S. immigration law “unconstitutional” as she and her co-presenter conflated illegal and legal immigration, NewsBusters reports:

Who knew that a star of the show GLOW on Netflix was a constitutional scholar? She's not, and yet, actress Alison Brie declared with certainty on the stage of the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards Monday night that what America is doing to immigrants is “unconstitutional and frankly disgusting."

As Brie and singer French Montana presented the award for Best Latin Video, they conflated legal and illegal immigrants. While French Montoya wants to be the "voice" of immigrants, as one himself, and said, "we are the people that make this country," he didn’t mention he legally immigrated. Brie chimed in, “What’s happening to immigrants in this country is unconstitutional and frankly disgusting.”

Her co-presenter then instructed the audience to applaud Brie’s constitutional analysis.

Bannister might have had a point if CNS didn't treat celebrities' political opinions with reverence -- when they conform to CNS' right-wing agenda, that is. We've documented the fawning treatment it affords the views of, say, actor Kevin Sorbo and ex-pretty boy Fabio, and it publishes a politics-heavy weekly column by musician Charlie Daniels.

And CNS' hypocrisy was proven yet again a few days later. A Sept. 10 blog post by CNS managing editor Michael W. Chapman gushed over how "the famous Brit and Beatles drummer Ringo Starr strongly supports Brexit because the people voted for it, he says, and 'it's a great move' to be "in control of your own country.'" There was no mocking or dismissive tone; Chapman treated his opinion quite seriously.

There was also no news value here, since Ringo's statements were made in a 2017 interview -- two years ago.Talk about old (and hypocritical) news.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:06 AM EDT
Thursday, September 26, 2019
MRC Gives PewDiePie's Racist Videos A Pass, Attacks ADL For Pointing Out The Racism
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center finds a way to take the side of yet another right-wing extremist while bashing one of the most respected civil rights groups in the country. Alexander Hall writes in a Sept. 11 post:

The most popular YouTuber on the platform is attempting to gain favor with the organization that wrote no company “has any obligation to support his wide dissemination of hate speech.”  

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, announced on September 10 that he will donate $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League. Because of his previous dust-up with the ADL, subscribers and fans are skeptical. 

PewDiePie posted to Twitter that while media hitjobs against his politically-incorrect humor have not intimidated him in the past, “after the Christ Church[sic] travesty a few months ago, my own clash with MSM was manipulated as a tool for destruction,” which in turn made him “[feel] responsibility to make changes.” PewDiePie wrote that he while “making a donation to the ADL doesn’t make sense to everyone, especially since they’ve outright spoken against me,” but even so he added “I think it’s important, this just isn’t my fight anymore.

PewDiePie, while vague about his own genuine political beliefs, would sometimes indulge in offensive or absurd imagery purely for shock value. PewDiePie previously had a joint venture he established with Disney-owned Maker Studios in 2014. Disney, seeing his shock value humor as beyond the pale “severed ties with him” which in turn caused ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt to congratulate Disney for the move.

Note that Hall is curiously vague about exactly that "dust-up" was about -- or even what that "shock value humor" was that got him booted from Disney. Usually when people have "dust-ups" with the ADL, it's because they were acting in an anti-Semitic way. The Washington Post summed it up:

Kjellberg came under fire in 2017 after the Wall Street Journal reported on nine inflammatory videos that, with a combined 23 million views, included content seen as insensitive, racist and anti-Semitic. In one, two men laughed as they held a sign that said, “Death to all Jews.” In another, a man dressed as Jesus said, “Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong,” and in another, Kjellberg threw out the “Sieg Heil” Nazi salute during a mock video. A neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, endorsed his videos. Whether Kjellberg intended to be racist or was kidding, they wrote, “The effect is the same; it normalizes Nazism, and marginalizes our enemies,” as the New York Times reported.

Hall also curiously failed to explain PewDiePie's reference to the "Christ Church travesty." That's because the perpetrator of the mosque massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, said "Remember, lads, subscribe to PewDiePie" during his livestream of the massacre. (It was a reference to a campaign among PewDiePie's followers to boost his subscriptions to keep him the most popular YouTuber.)

Hall then went on a tirade against the ADL and Grenblatt, repeating a National Review claim that the ADL has been led "off a partisan cliff" under Greenblatt.

The next day, Hall cheered when PewDiePie reneged on his pledge to give money to the ADL due to backlash from his followers, which he thinks is a good thing:

Many fans were dismayed when PewDiePie, YouTube’s biggest individual creator, planned to donate to the censorious ADL. Today he has recanted after the backlash and says he will instead donate his money elsewhere.

Yesterday PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, appeared to pledge $50,000 to the ADL, an organization that attacked him and has famously put out hit lists of politically-incorrect YouTubers worthy of deplatforming. 

Today he uploaded a new video saying he has reconsidered the pledge, and claimed that while he wanted to act as a responsible creator, he “didn’t know a lot of things that surfaced throughout this whole thing about the charity.” He added that “these are things I would have known myself if I had just taken my time.”

Again, Hall was silent on the offensive content of PewDiePie's videos -- which means that Hall has spent much more space attacking the ADL for criticizing PewDiePie's offensive content than telling his readers exactly what that content was.

Apparently, if you're a conservative or even appear to be one, you can get away with "offensive" content for "shock value humor" as far as the MRC is concerned.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:15 PM EDT
CNS Managing Editor Obsesses Over Chicago Violence To Distract From Mass Shootings
Topic: managing editor Michael W. Chapman has occasionally invoked violence in Chicago when it suited his right-wing agenda. For instance, in 2016 he featured spotlight-loving Wisconsin sheriff David Clarke touting how "there have been 455 murders in Chicago so far this year, which is greater than the 270 coalition soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2013." Given how Clarke has since abruptly resigned from his sheriff amid lawsuits and became so toxic and extreme that even the Trump administration wouldn't hire him and Fox News barred him from appearing on the channel, this one hasn't aged too well. Chapman also wrote about Chicago violence a few times in 2017 and 2018, and he hadn't written about it at all for the first seven months of 2019..

But with the El Paso and Dayton massacres in early August -- one of which was clearly influenced by right-wing anti-immigration rhetoric that President Trump -- Chapman found a new reason to invoke Chicago: as a distraction. We've already noted that in an article just a couple days after the massacres, Chapman claimed that "51 people were shot in Chicago and seven of the victims died" the same weekend of the massacres, huffily adding that "the liberal media did not express nationwide outrage over that gun violence and politicians did not blame President Doanld Trump for the violence."

Chapman became mildly obsessed with Chicago violence for the next few weeks:

  • On Aug. 12, he wrote that "shootings in Chicago left 4 people dead and 43 wounded" over the previous weekend.
  • On Aug. 26, he detailed that "Over the weekend, six people were killed and 29 people were wounded by gunfire in Chicago" and that "1,800 people have been shot in Chicago since Jan. 1, 2019,"adding that "For comparison, there were 1,196 people killed in "mass shootings" -- four or more people killed by a lone shooter -- in the United States between Aug. 1, 1966 and August 19, 2019, according to The Washington Post."
  • On Sept. 9, he wrote: "Despite having some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, Chicago experienced another weekend of gun violence with 34 people shot, six of them fatally, reported the Chicago Sun-Times. That's on top of the 44 people shot, nine fatally over the Labor Day weekend, and the 282 Chicagoans killed by guns since the first of the year." He again compared the number to mass killings: "ABC News, using a definition of four (or more)  people killed in a one-day incident, reported on Sept. 3 that at least 116 people had been killed in mass shootings."

Chapman hasn't written about Chicago violence since. Perhaps the massacre story has sufficiently faded that he doesn't feel the need to.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Newsmax Alan Dershowitz Defense Watch
Topic: Newsmax

We've documented how Newsmax has been giving Alan Dershowitz all the space he wants to defend himself over his alleged involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal and related issues. That hasn't really stopped.

On Aug. 9, Dershowitz defended his infamous argument for lowering the age of consent for sex, insisting it was merely "a provocative think piece, designed to stimulate debate." After Epstein's death, Dershowitz wrote an Aug. 16 piece insisting yet again that the sex accuations made against him by one of Epstein's victims is false, declaring: "The death of Jeffrey Epstein does not diminish the suffering of his real victims. Nor does it diminish the suffering of those who have been falsely accused by Epstein’s victims."

An Aug. 13 article quoted Dershowitz in a Newsmax TV appearance declaring that he will be vindication of the Epstein-related charges not only in a court of law but "the court of public opinion" as well, going on to claim that "the accusations against him are a result of opportunists trying to capitalize on society's sensitivities to the Me Too movement."

An Aug. 19 column by Michael Dorstewitz ran to Dershowitz's defense, portraying him as a victim of "polarization politics" over the Epstein-related charges and his defense of President Trump, making sure to portray Dershowitz as a "lifelong liberal." On Sept. 24, Newsmax published an Associated Press article on Dershowitz filing a motion to "throw out a lawsuit that accuses him of lying about his sexual history with a woman who claims she was a teenage victim of a Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking ring."

Dershowitz has also used his Newsmax platform to opine on politics:

  • On Aug. 29 he declared that fired FBI Director James Comey "certainly acted guilty."
  • On Sept. 9, he insisted that Trump didn't do anything illegal in paying hush money to a porn star before the 2016 election, adding, "that's called a settlement. It's done all the time.
  • In a Sept. 15 article, he was quoted as uncharacteristically defending former FBI official Andrew McCabe, though he undercut it by going on to claim that Trump's naming of William Barr as attorney general was the "right choice to bring credibility back to the Justice Department."
  • This was followed by a Sept. 18 paywalled item featured him claiming that israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "experience and leadership is still a valuable asset during tenuous times in the Middle East."

We missed it before, but Newsmax also published an Aug. 1 column by former Dershowitz student David Oskar Markus defending Dershowitz against the Epstein-related claims, lamenting he is being "accused of a heinous crime without any real recourse or due process protection."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:57 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 10:11 PM EDT
At The MRC, Trump's Sharpie Isn't News, But Biden's Eye Is
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center started off its attacks on coverage of Hurricane Dorian in the usual way, complaining that it spent too much time -- which is to say, any time at all -- reporting on the hurricane in the context of climate change. So bitter about this was Curtis Houck that he ranted that CNN hosts "are reduced to no more than puppets in Jeffrey Zucker’s play, willfully reading from nearly identical scripts as they peddle their daily doses of venom for not only President Trump, but anyone who stands in the way of their far-left, anti-gun, pro-abortion, and pro-Green New Deal vision (to name a few policies)." As if Houck isn't a puppet reading from Brent Bozell's hateful right-wing scripts.

But when President Trump kept insisting he was right about Alabama being endangered by Dorian even though early forecasts showing that possibility were quickly revised -- to the point that he displayed a map with an crudely extended possible  impact area into Alabama drawn by the president's trademark Sharpie marker -- the MRC complained that too much time was being spent on that too:

  • Scott Whitlock did admit that Trump was making a "weird claim," yet groused that media outlets "jumped on the possibility of jail time for the President" for altering government weather forecasts, "perhaps hoping that a Sharpie pen could accomplish what Robert Mueller did not."
  • Houck and Bill D'Agostino declared Sharpiegate to be "perhaps the most frivolous piece of the news cycle" and complained about the amount of coverage given to "this non-news item."
  • Nicholas Fondacaro touted how "CNN media propagandisdt Brian Stelter" argued that the Sharpiegate coverage may have helped Trump, going on to rant that "Trump was just a distraction from a terrible week for the lying liberal media." (Weird how Fondacaro never holds Trump accountable for his lies.)
  • Houck huffed further about "the liberal media’s delusional, week-long obsession over Sharpiegate while thousands across the Carolinas and Bahamas have lost life, limb, and property," then praised a conservative for having "injected sanity" into the issue.
  • Fondacaro gushed that "National Review editor Rich Lowry humorously ripped that media on Sunday for their obsession with the story by suggesting they’re like conspiracy theorists 'analyzing this with the detail of the Zapruder tape.'"

But you know what the MRC did deem worthy of wall-to-wall media coverage? Joe Biden's eye showing some blood during a CNN climate change forum. Mnark Finkelstein whined, apparently unironically (bolding in original):

What was a newsworthy thing to come out of CNN's interminable climate town hall snoozarama last night? Surely not the details of the various candidates' plans to "save the planet." No, the most interesting thing was the way that Joe Biden's left eye filled with blood during his appearance. While it might not bear directly on his fitness for office, it certainly does play into the narrative questioning Biden's age, health history, etc.

If you're a Biden campaign aide, surely you groaned when it happened. And you braced yourself for media coverage, particularly by CNN, which hosted the event. But relax! CNN's got Biden's back, and that of all the Democrat candidates! At least during the three hours of New Day this morning, there was exactly . . . zero mention of Biden's bloody eye.

Is there any way to see this other than highly-partisan journalistic malpractice?

Similar unironic whining followed from Tim Graham:

On Thursday, we noted CNN's New Day skipped over Joe Biden's bloody eyeball during the seven-hour CNN Town Hall on climate change, despite it being an all-day Drudge Report item. But then something happened that we didn't expect: CNN never reported it. Neither did MSNBC. Neither did ABC, CBS, NBC, or PBS. Even The New York Times and The Washington Post skipped it. Fox News covered it, but not obsessively.

The Bloody Eye wasn't Earth-shattering news. But some wondered if it suggested a health problem for Biden. It wasn't Hillary Clinton collapsing in the September 11 "heat." But are these media giants that defensive?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:26 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 11:29 PM EDT
WND's Erik Rush Tries To Explain Why U.S. Is Heading Toward Civil War, Excludes His Own Screeds As A Reason
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The last time we checked in on WorldNetDaily columnist Erik Rush, he was declaring his preference for civil war over another Democratic president. He expanded on that a little more in his Sept. 4 column, in which he attempted to explain that "if the heretofore unthinkable should take place and the United States winds up on a civil-war footing within the next decade or so, historians will probably cite many of the controversial and bizarre phenomena to which we are routinely being exposed as having been clear harbingers of that conflict.

A lot of it is your basic right-wing claptrap; at one point he blames "leftist-fostered moral decay" for "increased numbers of people retreating into apathy, addiction, sexual promiscuity and increasingly bizarre and harmful forms of sexual deviance.

Then he ranted that George Soros is s "former World War II Nazi collaborator who'd become a billionaire via predatory global financial schemes, then used his vast wealth in an attempt to destroy the West, and America, from within." Rush is just the latest to repeat the "Nazi collaborator" lie at WND.

Rush eventually descended into lame right-wing tropes and his trademark Obama derangement:

If there's still a United States of America in existence, citizens will hear about how our celebrated first black president was not-so-secretly committed to Islamic ascendency in America and had close ties to subversive Muslim groups whose mission was that of displacing the Constitution with Islamic law despite a stark incompatibility between the two systems.

There's little doubt that latter-day Americans subject to these accounts would find them incredulous and quite surreal. How could so many have fallen for a creed so odious, whose promoters' stock-in-trade was nothing but lies? Had their progenitors really sanctioned things like infanticide and tolerated a brisk market in dissected baby parts? Did they really let 350-pound, bearded males in dresses terrorize women and little girls in ladies' rooms just because they said they "felt like women"? Did parents actually stand by while such individuals were invited into their local schools to instruct their children?

Rush then claimed that future generations might wonder "why, in light of our past patriotism and having collectively overcome so much adversity, we suddenly turned on each other." He would never admit it, but right-wing screeds like those penned by Rush would be one contributing factor.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:06 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
NEW ARTICLE: And The Award For Most Award Freakouts Goes To...
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center gets triggered every time a journalist it despises wins an award for reporting on something in a way it also despised. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 9:47 PM EDT
Terry Jeffrey Trump Deficit Blame Avoidance Watch
Topic: editor in chief Terry Jeffrey's issues with declining to blame President Trump and Republicans by name continued in a Sept. 9 article complaining that "the federal debt had already increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal 2019 with more than three weeks to go in the fiscal year":

At the close of business on Sept. 28, 2018, the last business day of fiscal 2018, the total federal debt was $21,516,058,183,180.23, according to the Treasury.

At the close of business on Sept. 4, 2019, it was $22,517,297,955,639.18.

At that point, the federal debt had increased by $1,001,239,772,458.95 in fiscal 2019.

As of Sept. 6, 2019, the latest day for which federal debt numbers have been reported by the Treasury, the debt had risen to $22,532,757,499,591.39.

Thus, so far in fiscal 2019, the federal debt has increased $1,016,699,316,311.16.

As usual, the words "Trump" and "Republican" appear nowhere in the article. As usual, he tries to implicitly blame Democrats for the deficit by including his favorite stock photo of Trump and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi together.

Jeffrey followed that with a Sept. 13 article complaining that "The federal government spent a record $4,155,323,000,000 in the first eleven months of fiscal 2019" while it "ran a deficit of $1,067,156,000,000." Again, the words "Trump" and "Republican" are missing, and again, Jeffrey's favorite Trump-Pelosi stock photo is used.

This story has a tag at the end that "The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold." Once again, we have to wonder if Wold's memory is best served by such misleading, politically driven economic reporting.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:38 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2019 12:40 AM EDT
Monday, September 23, 2019
AIM Gets The New Deal Wrong
Topic: Accuracy in Media

A Sept. 4 Accuracy in Media item by Brian McNicoll tries to rebut a piece in Salon claiming to debunk right-wing objections to the Green New Deal. He takes particular offense to a claim regarding the Green New Deal's reference to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to lift America out of the Great Depression in the 1930s:

Only, the New Deal legislation did not pull the American economy out of the Great Depression. U.S. GDP had fallen 39 percent below its trend levels before the stock market crash of 1929 and was still 27 percent below trend levels in 1939. Likewise, unemployment bottomed out at 25.2 percent in 1929 but was still 19 percent in 1939.

McNicll's source for these claims is an Investopedia article -- which he misread for one key number; unemployment topped out at 25.2 percent in 1933, not 1929. But Investopedia itself misleads by not telling the full story.

As we've documented, unemployment numbers at the time did not count those employed through government work programs as actually "employed," meaning that actual unemployment was lower than the official numbers. It also glosses over the fact that higher unemployment numbers were not a product of the New Deal but, rather, of a recession in 1937 and 1938 -- which, according to economixt Paul Krugman, was a result of the Roosevelt administration cutting spending and raising taxes, even though New Deal-related spending had driven down unemployment rates.

It's unclear where Investopedia got its "1929 trend levels" number from, since 1929 is the first year government GDP statistics were kept. And according to those numbers, GDP bottomed out in 1933 at 56 percent of the 1929 number, then steadily increased every year except 1938, growing to 89 percent of the 1929 number in 1939.

Of course, what pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression for good was another massive federal spending program: World War II.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:50 PM EDT
Working The Refs, Part 3: MRC Bashes Even More Debate Moderators
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has been running a narrative for its coverage of the  Democratic presidential debates: Crank out a huffy post before the debate attacking the moderators as irredemably liberal, then declare victory afterward that its narrative against them was proven correct (through murky analysis of the questions asked). And so it was with the MRC's look at the Sept. 12 debate.

Geoffrey Dickens established the talking points in a Sept. 11 post: "The moderators for ABC’s Thursday night Democratic debate include a former Bill Clinton campaign staffer and an anchor who was actually kicked out of a Donald Trump campaign event. So it’s safe to say ABC’s Democratic debate hosts won’t be asking any tough questions of the candidates – at least none from the right." Dickens listed the moderators' purported "history of liberalism" and made sure to huff that the former, "Good Morning America" co-host George Stephanopoulos, "spun the news as Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign advisor and then White House Communications Director" and dwas also a "Clinton Foundation donor."

For the latter, Univision host Jorge Ramos, Dickens repeated that he "was so rude he was removed from the press conference." As we've documented, the MRC held Ramos to a higher standard by ranting that he was an "activist" and worse then it held Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro when he was similarly rude to President Obama in 2012. The MRC also was much more sympathetic to another activist reporter from the right-wing Breitbart who got booted from a campaign event for Beto O'Rourke, declaring that O'Rourke, not the reporter, was the rude one.

The day of the debate, Rich Noyes weirdly complained that "debate host ABC’s evening newscast has awarded a majority of its news coverage to just one candidate: former Vice President Joe Biden" while virtually ignoring other candidates. This is just more lazy research; Noyes focused only on a single, short program and ignored other ABC news programs and its website operation.The point of all this, of course, whas a cheap gotcha, as Noyes revealed in his final paragraph: "So, the question can be posed: Have the media already effectively winnowed the Democrats’ 2020 field before the voters ever had a chance make themselves heard?"

This was followed by a post by Joseph Vasquez claiming that "at least 29 executives from ABC, or parent company Disney, have donated to Democratic candidates." He later conceded, however, that these executives "held entertainment roles with Disney Television Studios, Walt Disney Studios, Disney+ and Twentieth Century Fox," and he identified none as linked to ABC's news operation.

Shockingly, however, the MRC's initial post-debate reaction was praise, not its usual attack mode. Scott Whitlock did the deed:

It’s actually possible to ask 2020 Democratic candidates questions that conservatives want answered. Thursday’s debate was proof that it can be done. To be clear, there were plenty of liberal questions, including wondering how forcible gun confiscation “will work.” Yet, ABC did manage some queries of interest to conservatives, including demanding answers on eliminating private health insurance, not speaking out on socialist dictators and calling Trump voters racist. 

Yes, the MRC insisted that merely asking how a proposed policy would work was "liberal" -- Whitlock devoted an entire post to the subject.

But the MRC wasn't about to let the moderators off that easy. Cue Jorge Bonilla complaning that Ramos was being praised for the questions he asked and insisting how we're all wrong for doing so:

Much of the media misread of Ramos’ performance stems from his exchange on “democratic socialism” with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Ramos garnered wide praise for daring to ask a tough question. Except that it wasn’t. For starters, Ramos had already put the Venezuela question before Sanders, on Univision’s Sunday political affairs showAl Punto.

In fact, one could call it a dry run inasmuch as Sanders’ answer was identical to what he proffered at the debate, varying only in degree of denunciation of Venezuelan tyrant Nicolás Maduro (going from "abusive" to "cruel tyrant"). Sanders then transitioned into a furious defense of his brand of so-called “democratic socialism,” which made Ramos’ question look a lot tougher than it actually was[.]


But the question only looked tough because Sanders botched the alley-oop. If Ramos’s own Facebook Watch program is any indication, it looked like the question was framed so as to set Sanders up for an affirmative differentiation of “democratic socialism” vis-a-vis Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea. 

Ramos’ weird segue from Venezuela to veganism, the Amazon to climate legislation (in furtherance of the Green New Deal) reinforces this track. The intent was clearly not to make “democratic socialism” look bad. 

Otherwise, Ramos’ role within the debate was wholly predictable.

Just about as predictable as the MRC's narrative about it.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:28 PM EDT
WND's Dubious Doc Pushes More Anti-Vaxxer Fearmongering (And Publishes Work By Discredited Anti-Vaxxer)
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily just can't stop pushing bogus anti-vaxxer fearmongering, and it has an actual dubious doc, Jane Orient, to help push it. She did so again in a Sept. 8 WND column attacking a proposed California law to limit non-medical exemptions for vaccines.

Orient claimed that the bill, SB276, would be "severely limiting medical exemptions, the only kind available"; in fact, the bill aims to close a loophole in which parents appeared to receive dubious medical exemptions for their children following the passage of a 2015 law that eliminated exemptions for personal reasons. Orient then claimed:

The bill's author, Sen. Richard Pan, M.D., said that everybody who really needed an exemption would get one. However, 882 out of 882 pediatric practices told a mother that they would not write an exemption for a child who had had anaphylactic shock. This life-threatening allergic reaction, which kills rapidly by closing off the airway, is one of the few allowable indications for an exemption. But now, a parent not willing to risk recurrence cannot send her child to school.

Doctors are no doubt afraid of being targeted by the medical licensure board.

But as one observer points out, the video to which Orient links -- in which doctors were called to see if they would grant an exemption to a child based on a vague claim of  anaphylactic shock -- doesn't actually prove anything, since doctors are unlikely to hand out exemptions to a child who has not previously been a patient and whose medical history they are unfamiliar with.

Orient discredited herself even further by invoking the fraudulent doctor Andrew Wakefield, whose research claiming that vaccines cause autism was proven so wrong that the medical journal that originally published his work retracted it and denounced it as a fraud. But never mind all that fraud stuff: Orient, in her role as executive director of the fringe-right Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, actually published an article by Wakefield in the AAPS' Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons in which, according to Orient, he blamed vaccine failure and "escape mutants" – viruses that elude vaccine immunity, the predictable outcome of selection pressures-- for this year's big measles outbreak. Neither he nor Orient understand the idea that if you don't vaccinate children, they're more susceptible to disease.

Orient doesn't seem to understand that publishing an utterly discredited figure like Wakefield makes her and the AAPS look bad. And WND doesn't seem to realize that publishing someone like Orient doesn't help its credibility issues.

UPDATE: Wakefield's journal article states that it was "based on a presentation given by Dr. Wakefield at the 2018 meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness." Guess who runs Doctors for Disaster Preparedness? None other than Jane Orient. This conflict of interest was not disclosed in the article.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:40 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2019 4:36 PM EDT
Sunday, September 22, 2019
MRC's Double Standard On Cakes
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Kyle Drennen grumbled in a Sept. 4 post:

On Wednesday, NBC’s 3rd Hour Today show excitedly welcomed on liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to promote her new children’s book, Just Ask! Co-host Al Roker was beside himself with glee, declaring: “We’ve got a Supreme Court justice. Come on! How great is this job!” Later in the fawning segment, Sotomayor was even presented with a cake to celebrate her 10th anniversary on the high court.  


There were no substantive questions about court decisions or cases that may considered in the upcoming term.

Instead, the segment wrapped up with Roker noting: “By the way, this is your tenth anniversary.” [co-host Dylan] Dreyer chimed in: “Congratulations, we have a little – well, big – a very, very large cake for you.” One of the producers then brought out the massive cake that read, “Happy 10 Years Justice Sotomayor.” Dreyer continued: “Congratulations on ten years on the bench.” Sotomayor replied: “Oh my gosh, look at that! Thank you so much.”

By contrast, as we've noted, the MRC raised no objection to "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace presenting then-Republican Rep. Paul Ryan with a birthday cake on a 2012 show. Wallace -- who has something of a reputation as a hard-hitting journalist unlike, say, Al Roker -- was nearly as gushy as Roker in presenting Ryan with the cake.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:38 PM EDT

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