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Sunday, May 10, 2020
Defending The Indefensible: MRC Finds Ways To Deflect From Trump's Injecting-Disinfectant Remarks
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center will find a way to defend anything and everything President Trump says, no matter how indefensible. Trump's suggestion of ingesting disinfectant or bleach to kill coronavirus was as indefensible as they come, but the MRC will never say so. Instead it focused on parsing his words to make them less indefensible and attacking anyone who criticized them.

Typical was Curtis Houck, who hyperbolically claimed in the headline that CNN "RAGES" about Trump's remarks:

Friday afternoon, CNN melted down into a panel of juvenile performance artists, spending over 15 minutes screeching President Trump’s remarks Thursday and a Friday follow-up about disinfectants and sunlight as a“dangerous,” “double speak,” “idiotic,” “ludicrous,” “Soviet fashion,” and “a waste of time” (even though CNN was harping on it hourly).


A tsunami of partisans on both sides of the aisle decried what the President said while others like Ben Shapiro and fellow Daily Wire writer Ryan Saavedra noted that its not as black and white.

Houck also gratuitously mocked CNN's Anderson Cooper as "a gay Keith Olbermann that whined that Trump was the “five-year-old” child.

Clay Waters spun further by blaming the media for misinterpreting Trump and not Trump himself for saying dumb things: "President Trump performed some confusing speculation on the efficacy of ultraviolet light and disinfectants during his coronavirus briefing Thursday, and as usual, the New York Times overstated the facts to push its anti-Trump agenda."

Jeffrey Lord, unsurprisingly, went into full defense mode: "Supposedly sensible adults in the national media deliberately - say again deliberately - twisting the words of the President of the United States in the middle of a national emergency. Bad enough under any circumstances, but now?" After citing Saavedra's alleged fact-check -- not the actual content of it, mind you, just the headline -- he went on an anti-media rant:

The question is - why in the world would the media ever, ever, - so grossly, make that deliberately, re-cast perfectly understandable English to make it seem something it wasn’t?

There is only one reason, and it is the same now very tired hysteria of Trump Derangement Syndrome. They hate Trump, so anything goes, even in the middle of a pandemic.


You would think that in the middle of a global pandemic in which thousands of Americans have already died that the media would be going out of its way to report necessary facts and put aside petty, political distractions that are in fact nothing more than bold misrepresentations of fact designed to damage a president they cannot abide.

But you would be wrong.

Nicholas Fondacaro conceded only that Trump's remarks were "sloppy," but didn't criticize him -- since that would violate the terms of his employment at the MRC -- and instead bashed CNN's Jake Tapper for a "bitter, self-indulgent rant" that criticized Trump and accused Republicans (and, therefore, Fondacaro) of failing to "acknowledge the reality of the situation."

Brad Wilmouth downgraded Trump's remarks even further, declaring that he was merely "spitballing about disinfectants and ultraviolet light to treat coronavirus patients."

Corinne Weaver seized upon a Facebook fact-check -- weird, since the MRC hates Facebook and hates that particular fact-checker for its purported liberal bias -- to trumpet the idea that because Trump did not explicitly "urge" people to inject disinfectants, it's false to say he suggested it. Weaver did not indicate whether she and the MRC would walk back its previous attacks on that fact-checker, Lead Stories.

Meanwhile, the MRC seemed to be tiring of having to defend Trump's words here. Kristine Marsh followed up by saying Trump's remarks were merely "sloppy," and Gabriel Hays claimed the interpretation that Trump suggested people ingest disinfenctants were just "media spin." Waters returned to grumble that Trump's "confusing speculation" and "admittedly rambling comments" about disinfectants has cause the Times "to imply the president is a dim bulb."

Kathleen Krumhansl tried for the full-defense gambit, accusing Spanish-sopeaking channels of having "joined their mainstream counterparts in a fake news offensive against President Trump," declaring that Trump was just making "comments on a study about the role of disinfectants and UV light in killing the coronavirus" and pretending that Trump never said anything controversial or irresponsible.

Finally, Wilmouth admitted that Trump was making a "confused suggestion" about disinfectants, instead criticizing CNN's Christiane Amanpour for asking a guest and praising the interviewee for nmot being "directly critical of President Trump."

Posted by Terry K. at 7:50 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, May 10, 2020 10:56 PM EDT
CNS Thinks Kevin Sorbo's Anti-Government Rant Is 'News'

Craig Bannister apparently thinks anything fringe-right actor Kevin Sorbo says is newsworthy, so we have this April 20 blog post:

Actor-Producer Kevin Sorbo is urging Americans to “Wake up” and see the dangers and hypocrisy of how “the State” is exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to grab power and limit freedom.

In a series of Sunday tweets, Sorbo (@KSorbs) warns that “it’s not about your health,” when the government tells citizens they can go to the store to buy one thing, but not another – or actually does the very thing it’s prohibiting.

Likewise, Sorbo says, it’s not about your health when the State says it’s too dangerous for you to walk in the park with your child, then puts dangerous criminals back on the street – or, when it tells you it’s safe to go in-person to a grocery store, but not to a voting station:

Given that Bannister is trying normalize this kind of thinking, that summary doesn't do justice to Sorbo's fringe ranting.For example, tweeted this: "When the State prevents you from buying cucumber seeds because it's dangerous, but allows in person lottery ticket sales and When the State tells you it's dangerous to go golf or fish alone but they can get make up and hair done for 5 TV appearances, it's not about your health." So "the State" is having makeup done for TV appearances? That doesn't even make sense.

Sorbo concluded with the call of the conspiratorial ranter: "WAKE UP PEOPLE — If you think this is all about your health you’re mistaken! Please open your eyes! Stop being lead like blind sheep."

The only reason Sorbo gets any press at all these days is beause hence played Hercules on TV, a past he has apparently renounced in order to appear in a series of Christian movies. Bannister won't tell you how far to the fringe Sorbo has moved; another recent tweet, for example, promoted the film "Out of Shadows," delcaring in all caps, THIS ONE NEEDS TO BE SEEN BY ALL." In fact, the film promotes the far-right Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories.

And yet, CNS loves him (and his wife, an anti-public school activist) and thinks he's some kind of sage.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:07 PM EDT
Saturday, May 9, 2020
MRC Adds To CNS' Bad Take on Religion and Coronavirus
Topic: Media Research Center

Since embraced the bad take of painting the closing of mass religious services as an issue of religious liberty rather than public health, it was inevitable that its parent, the Media Research Center, would as well. The MRC's Gabriel Hays ranted in an April 13 post:

Millions of God-fearing Americans weren’t allowed to go to church Easter Sunday for the first time in their lives, but two out of the three major TV news networks spent only 20 seconds on the enormous controversy. Pastors, priests and members of Christian congregations celebrating their constitutional right to be in their churches were barely mentioned.

Combined, the NBC Nightly News and CBS Weekend News programs on April 12, Easter Sunday, gave only 20 seconds to cover Christian churches that have been asserting their 1st Amendment rights to hold services. Those services were set for the holiest day in Christianity, despite state government mandates. NBC’s broadcast gave just 7 seconds of airtime to these congregations, calling them defiant and CBS gave a tiny 13 seconds of coverage to these Christians it said were “ignoring” social distancing protocols.

ABC did a much better job on the other hand, airing 1 minute and 42 seconds of coverage on Christian churches still offering services Easter Sunday, provided that participants were aware of the potential risks.

Of the two broadcasts that barely covered the story, NBC Nightly News was the worst. Though it devoted 2 minutes in total to the fact that Christians all over the world were “finding meaning at home this year” via internet services, the broadcast gave hardly any attention to those seeking public gatherings.

Note that Hays included only allusions to the coronavirus pandemic and largely ignored the public health issues that forced the church gathering to close in the first place.And Hays talks a lot more about people's alleged "celebrating their constitutional right to be in their churches" more than he does any constitutional right not to have one's personal liberty violated in the form of reckless, unhealthy behavior that can spread a disease that has already killed tens of thousands in the U.S.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:45 AM EDT
WND Touts Malik Obama's Endorsement of Trump, Censors His Credibility Problems
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily remains so in the grip of Obama Derangement Syndrome after all these years that it's still promoting lame attacks on the former president by his disgruntled half-brother. Last year, it served as Malik's willing stenographer, and it did so again in an April 16 article:

There was a second Obama presidential endorsement this week.

On Monday, former Democratic President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden, the last Democrat standing after a brutal primary season in which some two dozen other hopefuls stepped aside.

Now, his half-brother, the African-born Malik Obama, has endorsed Republican Donald Trump, just as he did in the 2016 race.

"Today I Endorse and Will be Voting for President Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) in November 2020. #MAGA," he wrote on Twitter[.]

As expected, WND failed to mention Malik's credibility problems -- which it should know because it uncharacteristally busted him. In 2017, WND ruled that a purported birth certificate Malik tweeted how showing that Barack Obama was born in Kenya "is not a valid document" (even though it spent two months claiming it was, in fact, valid when it first surfaced in 2009).

Malik Obama also endorsed Trump in 2016, largely out of spite; he's been trying to ride the coattails of his half-brother's fame for years, and Barack has generally not been having it.

As one website in Malik's native Kenya put it: "While Africans have the Ubuntu spirit of rising together, that does not mean sitting pretty and waiting for handouts from a successful relative. It also does not allow you to hate and besmirch the character of your successful relatives when they do not send as much resources as you would wish."

Don't expect WND to bring that up.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:16 AM EDT
Friday, May 8, 2020
MRC Whitewashes Franklin Graham's Anti-LGBT Beliefs
Topic: Media Research Center

Franklin Graham hates gay people, and the Media Research Center does too. So when Graham's charity Samaritan's Purse set up a temporary field hospital to tend to coronavirus victims, the MRC was quick to defend Graham against those (accurate) homophobia accusations.

Gabriel Hays wrote in an April 15 post:

Rev. Franklin Graham is pushing back against lefties smearing his charity with accusations of homophobia in an effort to block the organization from administering to Coronavirus patients in New York City’s Central Park.

The Christian pastor and son of the legendary Rev. Billy Graham appeared on Fox's The Ingraham Angle April 14, to discuss various LGBTQ groups’ smear campaign against his humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse.

Host Laura Ingraham asked Graham, “Why are you being attacked for building a field hospital? What’s going on?” He explained, “We have a statement of faith, Laura, that marriage is between a man and a woman and that goes back to the beginning of time.” He added, “this is our standard for people that we hire. We’re a Christian organization, we’re a religious organization so we wanna hire people of like mind.”

A couple weeks ago, various lefties online moved to condemn the Christian charity for that “ statement of faith.” Of course, LGBTQ groups can’t stand the very existence of folks or organizations with those beliefs and are trying to gin up a rap sheet of “discrimination” against Graham’s charity. The accusations have received enough traction that there are protestors at the Central Park camp and even Democratic Lawmakers like Bill De Blasio expressed he’d look into the behavior of Samaritan's Purse. Of course.

But in framing Graham as merely being against same-sex marriage, Hays strangely omitted the part of the Ingraham interview where he claimed that "I don't bash homosexuals" -- which is pretty clearly a lie. Claiming that "none other than Satan himself" is behind LGBT rights and that "gay children" are "the enemy "is most definitely bashing. Instead, Hays fretted that "the reverend’s first amendment rights are what's being discriminated against."

Also:" De Blasio is a "lawmaker"? He's the mayor of New York City.

Two days later, Matt Philbin complained that criticism of Graham's homophobia meant that "even in a massive health crisis, toeing the progressive line trumps all." He went onto tout how "FNC’s Shannon Bream explained that the Christian charity on the front lines fighting the Chinese virus will finally get some positive reinforcement this Sunday night in the form 'Hope Rising,' a streaming concert to benefit the group and the people it’s helping.The show is 'aimed at supporting their work while also encouraging you if you are struggling through these dark days,' Bream said." Philbin noted that "Lefties woried about 'discrimination' in the treatment of patients (apparently, they don’t really understand the 'Samaritan' reference, and what a dispicable charge that is to level at people who work under that name)" but, like Hays, failed to mention Graham's anti-LGBT history.

After copying-and-pstsing Hays' weird line referencing "Democratic Lawmakers like Bill De Blasio," Philbin touted how "Christian actor and activist Kirk Cameron and his sister Candace will host 'Hope Rising'" and promoted it on Fox News. He didn't mention that Cameron has spoken out against gay marriage, declaring, "I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don't think anyone else should either."

Philbin concluded by sneering that the benefit concert could be streamed "even by LGBT people."

Posted by Terry K. at 2:51 PM EDT
CNS Obsesses Over Rogue Trump-Loving Democrat
Topic: is way too excited about a rogue Democratic politician in Georgia. Michael W. Chapman wrote in an April 17 article:

Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones (D), a "lifelong Democrat," said he supports President Donald Trump and cited the success of Trump's policies in reducing black unemployment to a historic low (before COVID-19), criminal justice reform, protecting the nation from illegal immigration, and Trump's support for historically black colleges. 

Rep. Jones, who is not switching political parties, added, "I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me."

Chapman served up more gushing over Jones' pro-Trump views, but he didn't tell his readers the full story about Jones. As a real news outlet reported, ones is a Republican in all but name, supporting Republican presidential candidates and even receiving a campaign donation from the notoriously right-wing National Rifle Association.

CNS continued to follow Jones' antics anyway. On April 22, Craig Bannister highlighted Jones' delcaration that he would resign his legislative seat but "has no plans to leave the Democrat Party [sic]," using a deliberately incorrect name for the Democratic Party even though Jones himself never used it.

Jones flip-flopped on resigning the next day, and CNS covered that too, leaving Melanie Arter to do that writeup; she also used the deliberately wrong "Democrat Party" name.

Obsessing over a conservative-friendly politician and not only failing to report the full story but putting delilberately false information in its stories is, sadly, par for the course for CNS these days.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:36 AM EDT
Thursday, May 7, 2020
NEW ARTICLE: The Fox News Defense Machine
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center plays a lot of whataboutism to shield Fox News for credible charges that it has pushed coronavirus misinformation -- while also touting Fox News' ratings. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 9:24 PM EDT
CNS Adds Another Dubious Doc To Its Pro-Trump Brigade

So Dr. Drew and Dr. Oz weren't the only TV doctors 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

Melanie Arter wrote in an April 24 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 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,, 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

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