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Thursday, May 7, 2020
CNS Adds Another Dubious Doc To Its Pro-Trump Brigade
Topic: CNSNews.com

So Dr. Drew and Dr. Oz weren't the only TV doctors CNSNews.com relied to put out dubious yet Trump-friendly views on the coronavirus pandemic. Melanie Arter uncritically transcribed a Fox News segment (of course) in an April 17 article:

Dr. Phil McGraw, host of the “Dr. Phil Show,” told Fox News’ “Ingraham Angle” on Thursday that the quarantine is doing more harm than good, because of the health risks of isolation, depression, and anxiety.

“This is invisible. I can't show you an x-ray of depression. I can't show you an x-ray of anxiety, but the fact of the matter is the longer this lockdown goes on, the more vulnerable people get and it's like there's a tipping point. There's a point at which people start having enough problems in lockdown that it will actually create more destruction and actually more death across time than the actual virus will itself,” he said.

McGraw said that “250 people a year die from poverty, and the poverty line is getting such that more and more people are going to fall below that because the economy is crashing around us, and they're doing that because people are dying from the coronavirus,” McGraw said.

“I get that, but look, the fact of the matter is we have people dying,” McGraw said, adding that “45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents, 480,000 from cigarettes, 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don't shut the country down for that, but yet we are doing it for this and the fallout is going to last for years because people's lives are being destroyed.”

Arter didn't mention that Dr. Phil is a non-practicing psychiatrist, not a medical doctor, which makes any opinion he has highly suspect -- and this one in particular. Thus, it falls to an actual news outlet to point out that "you can't contract 'drowning':

It's mostly irrelevant, but McGraw's numbers on swimming pools are pretty far off the mark. Does he really think that nearly as many people drown in swimming pools as die from smoking? If they did, we would absolutely want to implement stronger protections for swimmers. In reality, though, there are about 4,000 deaths a year from drowning, though it's not clear how many are in pools. His number on deaths from cigarettes is accurate; he overstates the number of deaths in automobile accidents by about a fifth.

There are two critical distinctions between those deaths and the tens of thousands of deaths expected this year of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The first is contagion. The second is preventive measures.

[...]

Perhaps more important is the fact that the number of deaths from car accidents and swimming occur in the context of broad preventive measures. There used to be a lot more deaths from car accidents per capita — so we mandated speed limits and seat belts and introduced new safety features and stopped making cars out of the structural equivalent of balsa wood. We fixed the things contributing to the problem. It’s not and can’t be foolproof, but it’s far better because we took action. Same with swimming: We insisted that people put up fences around pools and have lifeguards at the beach. We do things to keep people alive.

In the case of the coronavirus, the number of deaths that are expected is because we’re doing what we can to tamp down the number of deaths. If you think that the 33,000 deaths to date of covid-19 are comparable to the number of deaths in car accidents, understand that the toll would have been far higher without enacting the social distancing measures that McGraw and Ingraham find so onerous. The entire problem with the coronavirus is that it’s new, and we don’t have many tools we can implement to hold it in check.

Because Arter and CNS are part of the pro-Trump state media, they will focus on reporting "news" designed to support President Trump, regardless of its factual accuracy or moral responsibility.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:27 AM EDT
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
MRC Just Can't Stop Trying To Shield Fox News From Criticism (And Touting Its Great Ratings)
Topic: Media Research Center

Fox News has been credibly accused of peddling misinformation about the coronavirus, and the Media Research Center -- where employees regularly appear to spout right-wing anti-media talking points -- has attacked anyone pointing that out.

Tim Graham once again showed his anti-smart people elitism in an April 21 post, sneering tha "so-called "social scientists" are also seeking to establish that Hannity has caused a wave of coronavirus deaths. A new paper from the University of Chicago's Becker Friedman Institute for Economics -- named for two free-market economists! -- reviewed "Misinformation During a Pandemic." Four academics -- Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott -- compared Tucker Carlson (who apparently didn't lead people off a corona-cliff) with Hannity." The researchers argued that exposure to Hannity correlated with a greater number of deaths, compared with exposure to Carlson. Graham couldn't dispute this, of course; all he did was sneer, "It was Hannity who was really rolling out an 'expansive set of robustness tests.'" 

Alex Christy complained that "CNN's Brian Stelter takes the opposite stance of whatever Fox News says," though he was actually citing research showing hydroxychloroquine -- the beloved would-be coronavirus treatment of Fox News and President Trump and, thus, the MRC -- didn't workas well as advertised and, in Christy's words, claiming that "President Trump and various Fox News personalities are endangering people by promoting it." Christy offered a rather lame defense: "It's not as Trump just pulled hydroxychloroquine of a hat. It's not as if trained health care professional are prescribing treatments based on what Trump, Fox, or CNN says. Some coronavirus patients felt the drug saved their lives."

Curtis Houck touted how "Hannity publicly demanded The New York Times implicating him in the death of 74-year-old Brooklyn resident Joe Joyce from the coronavirus," further gushing how "The letter went on to name other instances of The Times ’s entries in the liberal media-wide smear campaign to inflict (perhaps fatal) damage on FNC, the network the liberal media so vehemently hate." Houck didn't note that Hannity's lawsuit has no merit; instead, he groused that the Times responded by declining an apology because it thinks the article is protected opinion under the First Amendment and Hannity's status as a public figure.

Jeffrey Lord served up his own take on the Hannity-Times battle, leaning on the well-worn crutch of whataboutism: "Whether it was the false allegation against Sean Hannity or the paper’s own coverage of both American history or the Trump-Russia collusion, the problem is the same. In the words of former editor [Tom] Kuntz, this is because the paper now 'embraces partisan and results-oriented agendas.' Bingo." And Hannity doesn't have a partisan agenda?

Needless to say, in the middle of all this defense, NewsBusters' resident ratings observer Randy Hall once chimed in by cheering that "in April with Americans clammoring [sic] for sensible, sober updates on the coronavirus pandemic, viewers gave FNC its highest-rated primetime audience in history and second highest total daily ratings since April 2003 (for the early days of the Iraq War)." That, not facts, are what's really important at the MRC.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:41 PM EDT
WND Columnist Repeats Bogus Coronavirus Prophecy
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Larry Tomczak wrote in his April 13 WorldNetDaily column:

I once had the privilege of ministering in a conference alongside of David Wilkerson. In the midst of the corona crisis, I revisited a prophetic warning he gave in 1986.

"I see a plague coming on the world, and the bars, churches and government will shut down. The plague will hit New York City and shake it like it has never been shaken. The plague is going to force prayer-less believers into radical prayer and into their Bibles, and repentance will be the cry from the man of God in the pulpit. And out of it will come a Third Great Awakening that will sweep America and the world."

I personally believe that God has allowed this virulent virus into over 150 nations of the world to humble us and bring us to repentance. I believe it is a "dress rehearsal" calling us to reset/turn back to Him or else we will have to go through it again.

Just one problem: There's no evidence Wilkerson actually prophesied that, and according to PolitiFact, Wilkerson's own church denies any instance of him saying this in a book or sermon."

The rest of Tomczak's column was dedicated to detailing ways to persaude people to vote for President Trump's re-election, claiming that "No other president in U.S. history has experienced the level of hostility like Donald Trump, with the exception of Lincoln" and adding, "Give thanks to God for how He intervened in our nation and gives us the chance to influence others to reconsider standing with our president in this critical time."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:05 AM EDT
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
MRC: Only People As Far-Right As Us Can Judge Conservative Media, Fox News
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center is so insular and so convinced that the conservative media of which it is a part is incapable of doing wrong that it will not accept any criticism of conservative media from non-conservatives -- which we're quite aware of -- and, perhaps surprisingly, even from other conservatives.

An example of the former was an April 3 post by Randy Hall attacked a group of 74 journalism professors who signed a letter criticizing Fox News for spreading information about the coronavirus pandemic. The headline: "Brainwashing Future Journalists." As with most other MRC attempts to distract from criticism of  Fox News, Hall makes no real effort to defend Fox News but instead goes after the critics; along with the "Brainwashing Future Journalists" headline -- which he doesn't substantiate either -- he plays a little whataboutism: "Even before the scathing letter was made public, FNC personalities had joined forces to create a public service announcement about the outbreak. Apparently, the 74 professors who signed the letter have no such qualms about the quality of reporting done by FNC’s liberal rivals, MSNBC and CNN."

Tim Graham served up an example of the latter in his April 10 column, in which he complained that "the liberal Columbia Journalism Review" interviewed nearly two dozen writers for conservative news websites for their views on the state of conservative media. But as far as Graham was concerned, they weren't conservative enough because they were open to criticizing Dear Leader -- er, President Trump:

Some felt conservative media were “marginalizing conservative perspectives critical of Trump’s honesty and character.” That’s not surprising, given that the trio of professors interviewed “conservatives” at The Washington Post and The Bulwark, a red-hot “Never Trump” outpost. Asked what makes for an ideal conservative journalist, Bulwark editor Jim Swift joked “the ideal conservative reporter or journalist usually just leaves conservative media as soon as they possibly can,” since it’s not lucrative.

Surely, one could be both a conservative journalist and a critic of Trump’s “honesty and character.” It’s just that sites like The Bulwark are harshly critical of most conservatives, and end up sounding much more like Vox than Fox. They sent freelancer Molly Jong-Fast to the Conservative Political Action Conference. The “highlight of the hellscape,” she proclaimed, “was seeing Laura Ingraham attempt a comedy set. Laura said that Democrats want post-birth abortions and made a number of extremely unfunny jokes about Jim Acosta.”

Feeling Jim Acosta’s pain is not a “conservative media” norm.

Graham didn't explain why refusal to criticize Trump is the mark of a "real"  conservative. Instead, he complained that writers thought their own conservative outlet was well-written and credible while their rivals were less so, citing one such comment from a Daily Caller writer: "That’s not going to win friends and influence people for the Daily Caller. This is not what you find in the major media. You don't often see the Washington Post saying to interviewers 'the New York Times is far less reliable and deep-thinking than we are.'" 

Graham makes sure to work his employer's agenda into the discussion: "These professors should be welcomed in finding the conservative media to be worth academic attention. But they seem to be dismissing the overwhelming bias that provides so much energy and loyalty to conservative outlets." But he ignores the fact that conservative media critics -- like the MRC -- never hold conservative media to the same standards it demands from the "liberal media." That makes Graham and his co-workers bad-faith critics.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:55 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 6, 2020 1:06 AM EDT
CNS Censors Full Story Of Woman Arrested In Violating Closure Order
Topic: CNSNews.com

Melanie Arter wrote in an April 24 CNSNews.com article:

An Idaho woman was arrested in front of her kids on Tuesday for letting them play on the playground in violation of social distancing orders.

The Meridian Police Department responded to “several calls” and arrested and charged Sara Brady with one count of misdemeanor trespassing.

Video of her arrest shows other parents and children were at the playground as well.

“Upon arrival, officers saw that metal signage and caution tape announcing the playground closure due to COVID-19, was removed. Additionally, officers observed numerous individuals gathered on the closed playground area. Officers informed those gathered several times that the play structure was closed, and that they were welcome to utilize other areas of the park if they chose,” the Meridian Police Department said in a statement.

Police say that Brady was arrested “after being told to leave the playground multiple times” because she “refused to leave.”

In her attempt to portray Brady as trying to do something normal and getting arrested for it, Arter is hiding the full story behind Brady and her arrest. As an actual news outlet reported, Brady "wasn't on the playground simply so her kids could play. Brady is an anti-vaccine activist with connections to several far-right groups in Idaho, and she was participating in an organized protest on Tuesday against the governor's stay-at-home order."

Arter also omitted that Brady issued an apology to the officer who arrested her: ""I never thought a knee-jerk comment made to you out of frustration, by me wanting my kids to play in a park would create such a divide amongst our friends, family, community, the state of Idaho, the nation and the world, a divide that seems impossible for me to mend. ... I let the stress of me being in a house with my four young kids, one with special needs, got the best of me that day." However, she also falsely denied she was part of an organized protest at the playground.

CNS' attempt to mainstream a fringe activist follows in its continuing WorldNetDaily-ization, as well as its continued insistence on publishing the increasingly fringe-right columnist Michelle Malkin.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:29 AM EDT
Monday, May 4, 2020
Newsmax's Hirsen Joins Bad-Take Brigade On Religion And Coronavirus
Topic: Newsmax

We've documented how CNSNews.com editor in chief Terry Jeffrey so embraced his bad take that stopping large crowds of worshippers to slow the spread of coronavirus was an issue of religious freedom rather that the public health issue it actually is that he turned it into his "news" operation's editorial agenda. Another ConWeb member has decided to echo that bad take.

James Hirsen wrote in his April 13 Newsmax column:

At a time when folks are struggling to come to grips with grave illnesses, economic hardships, logistic challenges, and imposed isolation, faith has become an "essential" in the battle against the "invisible enemy."

But worship communities trying to follow government regulations and guidelines have suddenly found themselves under attack in several parts of the country.

It appears as though various state and local officials, who may or may not hold a different view of religious worship than their fervent faith counterparts, are using current coronavirus-related circumstances to target people who are participating in worship in safe and responsible ways.

The free exercise of religion is an absolute fundamental right endowed by the same Creator to whom the aforementioned worship is directed.

This free exercise of religion is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

In simple yet eloquent words, the text of the First Amendment declares , "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Recently, however, just prior to the pinnacle Christian celebration of Easter, several state and local officials took some aggressive steps in which they attempted to limit — and in some cases even ban — people from engaging in worship.

Thankfully, U.S. Attorney General William Barr has been paying close attention to the issue.

He is poised to intervene.

Needless to say, Hirsen is making things up when he accuses state and local officials of having hostility toward religion -- he offers no evidence to back that up. Further, contrary to his claim that freedom of religion is an "absolute" right, no right is absolute, even those cited in the First Amendment. Just as one's right to free speech does not extend to libel or falsely shoting "fire" in a crowded theater, one's freedom of religion does not supercede public health or safety. Hirsen claims to be a lawyer, so you'd think he would know that.

And like Jeffrey did, he cites only examples of Christians whose religious freedom is purportedly being infringed upon -- which it's not; only mass gatherings are, of any kind -- which tells us he really doesn't care if non-Christians have their freedom of religion infringed upon.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:32 PM EDT
MRC's Hypocrisy On Finding Pandemic 'Silver Lining' Continues
Topic: Media Research Center

Last month, we noted that the Media Research Center has been upset that some people claim to have noted silver linings to the coronavirus pandemic -- even though its "news" division, CNSNews.com, has published commentaries also claiming to find silver linings. The hypocrisy hasn't stopped:

  • On April 14, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth declared it was "TONE DEAF" for a CNN weekend host and meterologist to have "marveled over a "bright spot" in the COVID-19 pandemic -- that requiring people to stay at home has led to cleaner air."
  • Three days later, Wilmouth groused that "PBS and CNN International host Christiane Amanpour again devoted a segment of her show to talking up the possibility of preserving the cleaner air that has resulted from people being forced to stay indoors during the deadly coronavirus pandemic."
  • Kyle Drennen huffed on April 20: "NBC’s Today show worried that all of the “environmental benefits” of the coronavirus pandemic 'may not last' after the crisis is over. While devoting a full report to touting 'cleaner air and cleaner water' due to less human activity amid global economic shutdowns, the coverage cautioned that it could all be lost 'if we return to business as usual.'" He went on to sneer: "The press never let a crisis go to waste or keep them from promoting a liberal climate change agenda."
  • Kristine Marsh followed on April 22: "All three networks Wednesday morning shamelessly used the coronavirus pandemic to push their hope for more stringent environmental regulations. Celebrating Earth Day, ABC, NBC and CBS each gave lengthy reports praising the nationwide lockdown’s 'silver lining' of less pollution and more wild animals reclaiming their habitats. But they didn’t just point out changes to our environment; they turned into climate activists, actually encouraging us to keep certain pandemic lifestyle changes, such as not driving cars, to make these climate benefits 'permanent.'"
  • Mark Finkelstein found a non-climate-related excuse to get mad at: "Even for the execrable Nicolle Wallace — Trump-hater extraordinaire and Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferer — this was truly grotesque. Sure, tens of thousands of Americans have died, and the economy is in shambles. But hey, there's a 'silver lining' to all the death and misery: Trump's alleged 'lies' and 'sins are hurting him politically."

While the MRC was getting outraged over that, CNS published an April 13 column by Tony Perkins literally headlined "A Silver Lining to the Dark Cloud of COVID-19," in which he gushed that while thousands may have died, but people are "turning to God":

The coronavirus is turning people in the United States away from many things. Thousands of workplaces are empty. Shopping malls are vacant. Movie theaters, restaurants, schools, and even many public beaches are closed.

But the virus is turning us toward one particular thing: prayer.

If there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of COVID-19, it’s that we’re turning to God for guidance and protection. Social distancing, which is separating us from others for the sake of our physical health, has given people more time to draw near to God, which is certain to affect our spiritual health.

[...]

Our economy is being shaken as a vicious disease moves like an invisible invader throughout our country. But the hope offered by Jesus Christ is as real and vital as it was the first morning of his empty tomb. “He is not here; he has risen,” said the angel to a group of women wondering where Christ's body had gone. He is alive, and he is eager to enter your life.

The uncertainty of life has never been more evident, but so too is the reality that the God who made us is unchanging — the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can be thankful that he is closer to us than the air we breathe and is only a prayer away.

Nobody at the MRC has yet complained about Perkins being "TONE DEAF" or being "grotesque" for finding something good in something bad. Wonder why...


Posted by Terry K. at 6:05 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, May 4, 2020 6:07 PM EDT
WND's Zumwalt Pushes More Coronavirus Conspiracies
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've caught WorldNetDaily columnist James Zumwalt pushing conspiracy theories about the coronavirus -- namely, that it was developed by the Chinese as a bioweapon with U.S. help. He hasn't given up the conspiracy-mongering.

Zumwalt began his April 8 column with a conspiratorial question: "How did it come that COVID-19, birthing in China, immediately jumped to Italy, which has been among the hardest hit by the virus? This happened as two countries with which Beijing shares borders and maintains good relations – Russia and North Korea – remain, if those countries' reporting numbers can be trusted, relatively un-impacted by the virus." His answer is that China bought Italian companies, after which " an estimated 300,000 Chinese citizens relocated to Italy, coming and going at will. With some exposed to COVID-19, it was no wonder the country very quickly became a hotspot." He concluded by huffing that "After COVID-19 runs its course, Italians can count their dead as the Chinese count their money."

He did it again in his April 15 column:

But circumstantial evidence now has some wondering whether the virus release was intentional. Supporting this is the fact, while millions of people were on lockdown in Wuhan, there were no reported cases in Beijing where most senior political and military leaders reside – nor in Shanghai, the country's financial center. Additional evidence includes China building a 1,000-bed hospital in Wuhan in just 10 days, the stockpiling of masks and ventilators then sold to other countries, the disappearance of medical personnel "whistleblowers" and causing havoc in foreign stock markets with little negative impact to its own. Now, as economic engines around the world remain shutdown, China begins powering up.

The fact Chinese President Xi Jinping surprisingly walked through virus-infected areas donning only a facemask raises a nefarious observation. The president for life should have worn more protective gear; the fact he did not begs the question whether China has developed a virus antidote administered to its leaders.

Zumwalt went on to complain that criticism of President Trump for pushing a largely unproven drug hydroxychloroquine was "politically motivated," as was the acts of "several Democratic governors" in clamping down on prescribing them until their efficacy can be established.

On April 22, Zumwalt attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci for using a supposedly faulty projection of coronavirus deaths to force shutting down the economy:

The first assumption is the veracity of the projection model Dr. Anthony Fauci relied upon to estimate COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. While several models were designed, Fauci opted to rely upon one created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) – a model estimating 2.2. million deaths. Perhaps because the model was partially funded by billionaire Bill Gates, it became Fauci's model of choice. Trump, presented with a highly projected death toll and at Fauci's urging, decided America had to be quarantined and the economy locked down.

Supposedly, basing decisions on data input provides us with clearer focus in our decision-making, filtering out emotions, such as panic, and media bias. But the IMHE projected death toll created the panic Trump sought to curtail. His error – for which he cannot be blamed – is Fauci's reliance upon a faulty model for which he, as Trump's medical science guru advising him on an extreme course of action, proved irresponsible.

Even the conservative Washington Examiner shut down that conspiracy.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:41 AM EDT
Sunday, May 3, 2020
MRC Still Trying To Shield Fox News From Criticism Over Coronavirus Misinfo
Topic: Media Research Center

We've documented how the Media Research Center spent a good part of March rushing to the defense of its favorite news channel, Fox News, against credible accusations that it has misinformed its viewers about the threat of coronavirus. That defense campaign ran through April as well.

But first, as always, are the ratings. Once again, Randy Hall gushed: "During the first quarter of 2020, the Fox News Channel continued its reign as the highest-rated network on cable television, beating shows from both MSNBC and CNN in total day viewers and the coveted advertising bracket of people from 25 to 54 years of age." The next day, he cheered how MSNBC's ratings were STAGNANT, and a couple days after that cheered that "liberal station" CNN "has since fallen so far in the ratings that it was unable to generate even one program in the top 20 list during the first three months of 2020."

Alexander Hall portrayed Sean Hannity's meltdown over New York Times columnist Kara Swisher's calling out of Fox Newsfor its coronavirus misinformation as an example of how he SCHOOLS Swisher with a tweetstorm of whataboutism. Hall complained that Swisher "seemed to imply that Fox News hosts were downplaying the virus for political reasons" -- something neither he nor, apparently, Hannity disproved. Nicholas Fondacaro pushed more whataboutism in another apparent attack on Swisher: "In an on-air response to an article attacking him and the network, Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson flipped the tables on The New York Times Thursday night when he called out the liberal paper for “screwing up coronavirus stories from day one.”

Kyle Drennen complained that "MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle kept up her network’s effort to actually blame competitor Fox News for the spread of coronavirus across the country. She and her guests repeatedly suggested that Fox was providing 'misinformation' that would 'put people’s lives in danger.'" Like the others, Drennen never disproves the allegation, but instead notes that Wallace had Swisher on as a guest and that "Hannity hammered her [on] Twitter."

Mark Finkelstein did a lot of huffing about an MSNBC segment in which Joy Reid and Gabriel Sherman advanced the idea that  Fox News could be sued over its coronavirus misinformation:

There's the "novel coronavirus"—and then there's the "novel legal theory" concerning it floated by Joy Reid, pursuant to which Fox News could somehow be legally liable for the death of its viewers from the virus. So much for all the alarm in the liberal media about legal punishments for news organizations in the Trump era. 

[...]

Let's also consider Sherman's claim that Fox "insiders" told him that there was real concern within the network that it could be exposed to legal action by viewers who died from the virus. What kind of network "insider" could conceivably make  such a potentially hugely damaging admission to any reporter, let alone one famously hostile to Fox News? Sherman is the author of a highly unflattering book about Fox News founder Roger Ailes.

Curtis Houck served up more whataboutism to deflect, complaining that while CNN has engaged in "venomous, tiresome Fox News-bashing," the channel was "holding its March 5 upfront event (dubbed the CNN Experience) with hundreds in attendance, plus an overflow room. Instead of taking precautions and following competitors like Comcast (parent company of NBC News) and Fox News in canceling their upfronts, CNN parent company WarnerMedia went ahead with its flashy Hudson Yards confab."

Tim Graham grumbled that the Washington Post noted how Fox News parroted Trump in pushing hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment before all the facts are in about its effectiveness, choosing to offer his own creative interpretation of what the channel did: "Fox News has promoted this drug as a hopeful sign, which some coronavirus sufferers have touted as an amazing cure, and mocked the liberal media that have hounded Team Trump for daring to say positive things about it on television." Needless to say, Graham played whataboutism too, complaining that the Post "completely avoided the 'miracle cure' story that Carlson and Laura Ingraham put on this week – interviews with Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett, a Democrat from Detroit, who came down the coronavirus, and credits her doctor prescribing hydroxychloroquine – and President Trump touting the anti-malarial drug on TV – for saving her life." That wouljd be the story in which Graham himself proclaimed  hydroxychloroquine to be Trump's "miracle drug."

Houck returned to go full insult mode in an April 20 piece:

In the repugnant, never-ending liberal media crusade to not only annihilate but mortally wound Fox News (thus putting thousands out of work), New York Times columnist Ginia Bellafante took the not only false but grotesque plunge in her April 18 column blaming FNC for the April 9 death of 74-year-old Brooklyn bar owner Joe Joyce from the coronavirus.

Before diving into their moronic falsehoods, here are the relevant highlights of the all-emotion and fact-free screed[:]

[...]

It goes without saying that it’s a tragic story and Bellafante clearly feels pain for the Joyce family and served as a reminder that the over 41,000 deaths consist of real human beings.

But as the great Comfortably Smug tweeted, the Hannity quote came on March 8 and thus it was “OVER A WEEK AFTER” Joyce’s cruise left. The Washington Examiner’s Jerry Dunleavy added that Joyce returned March 14, and then his bar the following day as the city had yet to be shuttered (thanks to far-left Mayor Bill de Blasio), leaving almost three weeks between his return and his death.

Therefore, Hannity’s comments were not only a moot point, but it’s an outright falsehood to note them otherwise.

It's an unfortunate condition of the MRC that there's enough of a doubt about its commitment to basic human decency (when it comes to non-conservatives, that is) that he must express empathy that should otherwise go without saying. (And speaking of things that will go without saying, Houck won't tell you that "the great Comfortably Smug" is kind of a creep in real life and has a long history of sh*tposting.)

What Houck also won't tell you: While the Times did make a mistake in linking that particular Hannity quote to the death of the manwho went on the cruise, the Washingotn Post's Erik Wemple pointed out that "Hannity, after all, couched coronavirus as a political ploy before and after Joyce left for his cruise."


Posted by Terry K. at 10:34 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, May 4, 2020 12:44 AM EDT
CNS Keeps Giving Bill Donohue A Platform To Defend Abusive Priests, Bash Gays
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com loves is favorite dishonest right-wing Catholic activist, Bill Donohue, and it's embracing him like never before -- in April alone, CNS has published a whopping 19 columns by him, approaching Mark Levin-like levels of sycophancy. In a few of those columns, of course, he indulges in his old shenanigans.

Donohue remains as obsessed as ever with downplaying the legacy of sexual abuse of Catholic clergy, about which he has been so tone-deaf that he has approvingly cited the defense lawyers of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein in doing so.

In his April 1 column, Donohue complained about alleged lack of media interest when "falsely accused priests" are "exonerated." His first example of one, however, is perhaps not his best one: "A Valley County, Nebraska jury found Fr. John Kakkuzhiyil not guilty of first-degree sexual assault. He was accused of forcible sexual assault of a woman in 2018."

But the story to which Donohue links as evidence of Kakkuzhiyil's reports that "Both parties agreed that Kakkuzhiyil performed oral sex on the woman on Nov. 22 and 23, 2018," meaning that the priest was not cleared of having sexual relations with a woman (which, as even Donohue would agree, Catholic priests are not supposed to do) but was merely cleared of having forcibly done so. The article also noted that Kakkuzhiyil received treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. So, not exactly "exoneration."

Another example Donohue cited was two priests who were allowed to return to ministry after the alleged victim "refused to cooperate with the diocese." Refusal to cooperate with the priests' defenders is not necessarily evidence of exoneration.

On April 7, Donohue was highly exuberant that charges of sexual abuse against Australian  Cardinal George Pell were overturned: "Pell has suffered greatly and has been the victim of outrageous lies. He has been smeared, spat upon, and forced to endure solitary confinement for crimes he never committed. This was a sham from the get-go and should never have made its way through the Australian courts. ... Those who tried to destroy him—and there were many all over the world—will have to answer one day for what they have done."

The next day, Donohue attacked anyone who didn't celebrate Pell's acquittal the way he did was "abnormal" and hated all Catholics: "Most people are normal and desire justice. Abnormal people prize revenge. A case in point is the reaction to the release of Cardinal George Pell from an Australian prison. Normal people are happy with the news, but there are always the abnormal ones. ... In other words, justice doesn't matter. Punishing the Catholic Church is what matters. They are abnormal."

Donohue used his April 14 column to induldge in his old bogus anti-gay interpretation of a comprehensive study of Catholic clergy sexual abuse:

There is a picture of Trevor Noah on the homepage of "The Daily Show" which shows him with a photo of the Easter Bunny on one side and the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the other.

Noah has a thing about homosexual priests. No, he doesn’t come right out and attack these priests by name—he's a liberal—so he prefers innuendo as his weapon.

On the April 13 edition of "The Daily Show," Noah commented that on Easter Sunday it was hard on many church-goers who are used to attending services, "but for the Catholic Church, this is a good thing—keeping the priest separate from the congregation might not be the worst idea."

Now we know he was not talking about heterosexual priests: the John Jay study on clergy offenses reports that almost all the sexual misconduct committed by priests were male-on-male sex. Moreover, almost none of it involved kids—over 95 percent involved adolescents. In other words, homosexual priests are responsible for most of the sexual abuse, and almost all of those cases are from the last century.

Noah wallows in the dirt. As a black man, he would take offense if someone portrayed black men as thugs. Yet he has no problem portraying homosexual priests as abusers, even though most homosexual priests are not molesters. The man is a bigot.

As we've reported, the authors of the John Jay study stated that no connection was found between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse and argued that the idea of sexual identity should be separated from the problem of sexual abuse, since one does not have to have a homosexual identity to commit homosexual acts.

Given how much Donohue has ranted about gays in the priesthood and portraying them as molesters by default -- he is quoted in one CNS article as saying the Catholic Church has "a serious problem" with them -- it's utterly disingenuous for him to bash Noah for allegedly "portraying homosexual priests as abusers, even though most homosexual priests are not molesters." The real bigot here is Donohue.

We know Donohue is disingenuous on the subject because two days later, Donohue was ranting that gays have more rights than gay-hating Christians:

LGBT people enjoy wide civil liberties and are rarely discriminated against in public accommodations, housing, and on the job. To be sure, there are some instances when their rights conflict with the religious rights of those who cannot in good conscience affirm their status. We need to remember that religious rights are encoded in the First Amendment and cannot be violated without a compelling reason.

To resolve this matter, we must first admit that sexual orientation and sex identity are not rationally analogous to race. The former two status groupings refer to behavior and volition; the latter is fixed by nature and has nothing to do with either behavior or choice. It is therefore removed from rational moral judgments, whereas sexual orientation and sex identity are not.

And on April 20, Donohue creatively interprets a poll to delare that "to a large extent, the LGBT community is a cultural phenomenon, not a biological one" and that "Young people have been indoctrinated into thinking that being a member of the LGBT community is at least a value-neutral attribute, and may even be cool." He went on to assert that culture is trying to "culturally mass-produce" homosexuals.

This is who CNS wants you to think is the ideal Catholic.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:46 PM EDT
Saturday, May 2, 2020
Anita Hill Still Lives Rent-Free Inside The MRC's Head
Topic: Media Research Center

Nearly 30 years after she first made her never-disproven sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas, the Media Research Center is still raging at Anita Hill. We've documented how the MRC has regularly bashed Hill, and particularly in the past few years, and it brought her up again during recent sexual misconduct scandals and even the Brett Kavanuagh hearings.

With the MRC now pushing sexual misconduct claims against Joe Biden, it's also talking about Hill yet again.

The MRC's chief Hill obsessive, Tim Graham, complained in his April 3 column that "There’s nothing on the Biden story on NPR – the proud purveyor of the unproven Anita Hill accusations against Clarence Thomas. He further whined in his April 15 column that "these liberal titans all jumped quickly on NPR unfurling Anita Hill’s unproven sex-harassment charges against Clarence Thomas."

After NPR did a story on the accusations against Biden, Graham devoted an April 20 post to it, delcaring, "This is especially slow for NPR, which was the first to champion the unproven sexual-harassment charges of Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas in 1991." He went on to sneer: "In 1991, NPR reporter Nina Totenberg was an aggressive character witness for Hill. She told Vanity Fair she 'checked Anita Hill's credentials up the wazoo and everybody she said she was a saint, that her integrity was the highest.'"

Note Graham's repeated insistence on describing Hill's claims against Thomas as "unproven." That suggests he knows that -- despite assertions by himself and other MRC writers to the contrary, they haven't been discredited and that, deep down, Graham knows they're plausible.

Graham wasn't the only MRC writer to name-check Hill. In an April 13 post complaining that the Biden allegations had not been covered to her satisfaction, Kristine Marsh groused: On April 5, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos gave a softball interview to Biden, where he avoided bringing up the assault allegation. But in 2018, Stephanopoulos brought out Clarence Thomas's accuser Anita Hill to ask her if Republicans were 'trying to destroy' Blasey Ford."

The fact that it's Graham and Marsh who insist on bringing up Hill -- not the media -- shows us that she's still living rent-free inside the MRC's collective head.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:53 AM EDT
Mychal Massie Meltdown Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In the span of a couple weeks the people of America surrendered their rights and freedoms out of fear of a virus. Somehow, the fact that we're all going to die escaped the masses out of a fear that they're going to die.

Faster than one can say "Nancy Pelosi is a liar and Hilary Clinton belongs in prison," Americans enthusiastically raised their hands in the air over the heads, spread their legs and were metaphorically handcuffed. People have mindlessly bought into the panic-driven belief in placebos.

[...]

Masks are placebos that I argue are more dangerous than they are remotely helpful – unless the wearer is concerned about breathing in or breathing out chunks of contaminates. For one thing, the mask becomes an almost instant petri dish of toxic contamination.

[...]

Of all the flu viruses that have been around forever and of all the flu viruses that have claimed more lives and have resulted in more people being treated than COVID-19, why is it that this one is being used to shut down America?

When did the American people become so craven and pusillanimous? Personally, I do not fear a virus. I'm concerned about a people who believe fear and panic are both Christian and American traits to be admired.

-- Mychal Massie, April 13 WorldNetDaily column


Posted by Terry K. at 12:28 AM EDT
Friday, May 1, 2020
MRC Demands That Trump Briefings Be Aired In Full, Without Comment Or Correction
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has long complained that certain TV channels won't air President Trump's coronavirus briefings in full or that it will cut away to offer commentary. Kathleen Krumhansl summed up this attitude in an April 6 post declaring that it would be "immensely more important to the viewers of Univision and Telemundo, for example, to have unfiltered access to the daily Coronavirus briefings from the White House" than for anyone on those channels to comment on them.

Brent Baker followed up on April 16 with one of those "studies" designed more to push an agenda than to serve up anything useful:

CNN and MSNBC on many days repeatedly cut in and out of the daily White House briefings on the coronavirus pandemic, with CNN the most eager to replace remarks from President Trump, Vice President Pence or any number of medical and logistical experts with derisive commentary by its anchors and reporters. MSNBC carried a little more than CNN, but its anchors also weren’t hesitant to chime in with their condemnations of Trump’s remarks.  

A Media Research Center study found that CNN has carried just 69 percent of the briefings’ runtime of those conducted March 30 through April 14. That’s 999 of 1,435 minutes, leaving seven hours and 16 minutes unaired. MSNBC has aired live 1,088 minutes, or 76 percent, not running five hours and forty-seven minutes. Thus, CNN and MSNBC viewers missed more than 13 hours of the briefings. (FNC cut out a few minutes early on two days, but otherwise has carried all the briefings in full, airing 1,383 minutes, about 96 percent of the total duration.)

For six of the 14 briefings over the time period, CNN ignored Trump’s opening remarks, joining the briefing only after he had finished. Wolf Blitzer announced on April 6: “Once the experts start speaking, once the questions and answers begin, we’ll go back to that briefing.”

A week later, CNN’s John King offered this justification for ceasing the live coverage: “The briefing was breathtaking from beginning to when we dropped out and at times it bordered on dangerous.” The next day, an angry Jim Acosta declared “these briefings altogether are coming across like something out of ‘Baghdad Bob,’” with Trump “sounding very ‘Baghdad Bob’-like.”

That was accompanied by a chart that described anyone not airing the briefings in their entirety as "censoring" them.

As far as Baker is concerned, only an "angry" person points out that Trump's performance at these briefings has been Baghdad Bob-like, filled with boasting, attacks and misinformation.But don't tak our word for it; the Washington Post did what Baker wouldn't do and actually analyze the content of those briefings. It found that among the 13 hours Trump spent in those hearings:

  • He spent two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4½ minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims.
  • He has attacked someone in 113 out of 346 questions he has answered — or a third of his responses. He has offered false or misleading information in nearly 25 percent of his remarks. And he has played videos praising himself and his administration’s efforts three times.
  • He has mentioned the nation’s testing capacity in 14 percent of his comments, talked about the country’s ventilator supply in 12 percent and waxed on about his imposition of travel bans — particularly from China — in 9 percent. 
  • 87 of his comments or answers — a full 47 minutes — included factually inaccurate comments.

Needless to say, the MRC had a problem with this -- the research thing, that is, not Trump's behavior. Tim Graham devoted his April 29 column to attacking the Post, bizarrely claiming that it "augmented its agression" by, um, doing research of the kind the MRC refuses to do. He then played a lot of whataboutism to defend Trump:

This would sound bizarre if it were any other president. Is it odd that a president speaks 60 percent of the time at his press conferences — especially since reporters want to press him the hardest? Would it be unusual for a president to defend himself, or odd that a president would criticize the Other Party?

No one could claim former President Barack Obama didn't boast about himself and his team. Critics used to count how many times he said the word "I" in his speeches. No one was shocked when Obama used press conferences to attack Republicans or Fox News.

What's strange about this project is it doesn't acknowledge how the press drives the briefings. The Post expressed alarm about those "Trump briefings full of attacks" but doesn't acknowledge that a large chunk of those attacks were Trump returning fire from the press!

[...]

When The Post says "politics dominates" these events, it doesn't admit that politics dominates the questions from "objective" reporters. It complains that these briefings are substitutes for Trump's stadium rallies — as if he gets accused of killing thousands of coronavirus victims at his rallies. The paper's aggression is intensified by its partisan desire to deny Trump the advantage of this TV time.

[...]

These newspapers really believe the president should never speak positively about his presidency. It's not the right occasion. Can anyone imagine these papers and their chosen experts telling former President Jimmy Carter he couldn't defend himself regarding the Iran hostage crisis during the 1980 presidential campaign? They hate Trump so much, they just want him to stop defending himself and lose miserably in November. Fighting back is impolite.

That's just another way of stating the MRC's highly partisan anti-media agenda: Trump is always right; reporters are always wrong. Indeed, Graham never mentioned the Post's finding of the large number of factually false statements Trump made.

Oh, and Graham failed to disclose that among the "critics" who counted the number of times Obama referred to himself in the first person in a speech is the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:37 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, May 3, 2020 1:51 PM EDT
CNS Dutifully Repeats Trump's Falsehood About Pelosi
Topic: CNSNews.com

Chief Trump stenographer Melanie Arter did her duty again in an April 21 CNSNews.com article:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a street party in Chinatown in San Francisco at the end of February a month after President Donald Trump banned travel from China, the president pointed out Monday at the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

Trump was responding to a question about his early response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

[...]

[TRUMP:] Why was Nancy Pelosi — right? — Nancy Pelosi is holding a street fair. She wants a street fair in San Francisco, in Chinatown, to prove — you know what the purpose of it was — to prove that there’s no problem. Many other politicians did the same thing. … People are amazed at how early I acted, and I did act early. 

Because Arter is a stenographer and not a reporter, she made no effort to fact-check what Trump said or otherwise hold him accountable. An actual news organization did, however, and found that Trump's claim was false:

So let’s look at what Pelosi did and how that tracks with Trump’s description.

Pelosi visited San Francisco’s Chinatown on Feb. 24. To view videos of her visits two months later is almost jarring, as she strolls arm-in-arm and walks amid a crowd. She made clear the point of her visit was to show it was “very safe to be in Chinatown,” which had been hit hard by a drop in tourism after reports of the virus emerging from China.

[...]

Other than a reference to a parade that took place two weeks earlier, Pelosi did not propose a parade, a street fair or a party, as Trump claimed. She never indicated she doubted the virus existed, as Trump claimed. She promoted Chinese businesses, even tweeting a brief video of her making fortune cookies.

[...]

He accused her of causing many deaths, when there have been none in Chinatown and relatively few in San Francisco. He says she urged street fairs and parades, but that’s not true. She advocated patronage of Chinese businesses.

Arter is not being paid to report facts; she's being paid to amplify Trump's agenda and his statements, whether or not they are true.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:03 AM EDT
Thursday, April 30, 2020
NEW ARTICLE: The MRC Parrots Trump's War on Journalists
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center isn't imaginative enough to do any "media research" -- it's just transcribing and gushing over the president's attacks on reporters during his coronavirus briefings. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 8:00 PM EDT

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