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Monday, July 26, 2021
NEW ARTICLE: At CNS, The Trump-Fluffing Never Stops
Topic: CNSNews.com
Months after Donald Trump left the presidency, CNSNews.com reporter Patrick Goodenough was still touting his alleged achievements in office. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 4:04 PM EDT
AIM -- Which Got COVID Relief Money -- Complains Another Institute Got Some
Topic: Accuracy in Media

John Ransom thinks he has a scoop in a July 1 Accuracy in Media post:

According to data from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Confucius Institute, an academic group that has close ties to the communist Chinese party, applied for and received an SBA grant in June 2020, under the Covid relief plan.

The origination date is June 29, 2020, for four thousand dollars.

[...]

The Confucius Institute has a contentious relationship in the United States. Many have been shut down across university campuses in the United States after widespread criticism that they operate as a propaganda arm of the Chinese communist party.

This was followed by a July 8 post by Tyler Olson touting how Fox Business picked up AIM's story, complaining that the relief program was "hastiliy passed."

There are concerns about the institutes, but the controversy is also driven in no small part because it's being driven by anti-China Republicans, and that AIM is simply trying to advance a right-wing narrative.

The big irony here is not that the Confucius Institute got government money from a program signed off on by President Trump, but that AIM -- which, as a right-wing group, is not supposed to like government handouts -- received money out of that same program.

According to a database of recipients of relief money, AIM received $71,677 in a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which was forgiven to the tuen of $72,368 including accrued interest -- 16 times the amount of money that the Conficius Institute received.

We don't recall AIM ever complaining about getting what is essentially free money from the government, or about never having to pay it back.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:22 PM EDT
WND's Magazine Repeats Bogus COVID Claims
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The most recent edition of WorldNetDaily's sparsely read Whistleblower magazine is dedicated to the coronavirus pandemic -- or, rather, attacking the "ruling elite" for its handling of it by purportedly engaging in "all-out suppression of proven safe-and-effective COVID treatments." The issue covers all the dubious conspiracy theories WND has been promoting on the subject:

The first lie to be exposed was that an entire healthy society should be quarantined – not just the sick and vulnerable, but everybody, including those with virtually zero risk from the virus. This radical departure from previous public health practice served to prolong the pandemic by preventing the necessary attainment of herd immunity. America's booming Trump economy was crushed. Millions lost their jobs and businesses. Little children were needlessly forced to wear masks on the playground, or to stay home from school altogether. The entire nation lived in fear. Suicide, depression, drug addiction, alcoholism and crime all skyrocketed.

Moreover, the radical national lockdown enabled the far left to ride the wave of COVID chaos to shield the worst presidential and vice-presidential candidates in American history, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, from close scrutiny, then to corrupt the 2020 election, and ultimately to install a regime of deranged leftwing revolutionaries untethered to reality, history, the Constitution, the Bible or reason.

[...]

If that isn't surreal enough, there's the elite class's maniacal obsession with forcing everybody, including infants and children, pregnant women and COVID-recovered people with superior immunity, to be injected with an experimental drug despite an unprecedented lack of safety data and thousands of reported deaths after receiving the mRNA jab.

Even more shocking and inexcusable than all of the preceding has been the intentional suppression of well-documented, safe, effective and inexpensive early treatments for COVID-19 that could have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives. That is the considered conclusion of countless frontline COVID-treating doctors in the U.S. and around the world.

Repeat: Safe and effective treatment for COVID-19, which would allow the infected to be treated at home with inexpensive medications safely used for decades, avoiding massive hospitalization and death, has been intentionally suppressed and demonized. Even online discussions about these medications have been largely banned, suppressed or "fact-checked" out of existence by social media for more than a year.

While refusing to say it out loud, WND is referring to hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, and research still hasn't proved they are effective treatments for COVID-19.

Articles in this edition of the magazine include at least one we've proven wrong. It's a repeat of a May 25 article by Art Moore touting fearmongering Dr. Peter McCullough advsing people not to get a COVID-19 vaccine because it's "too risky"; we caught him falsely claiming that reports of adverse side effects to a government reporting system was absolute proof of the vaccine's alleged harms (in fact, the database itself clearly states that "the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not imply causality."

The magazine also includes a reprint of a May 10 column by Jane Orient of the fringe-right Association of American Physicians and Surgeons baselessly fearmongering that the vaccine could harm fertility in young women. As we've documented, the column features other baseless or outright false claims.

There's also a reprint of a May 31 article claiming that "A citywide initiative in Mexico City to prescribe ivermectin to COVID-19 patients resulted in a plunge in hospitalizations and deaths." In fact, the study is based on a database analysis, not clinical study, and it was a preprint that had not been peer-reviewed.

WND managing editor David Kupelian laughably claimed: "This issue of Whistleblower is meant to offer hope, as well as practical and vital information, to Americans who have been forced to live in fear, isolation and hardship – and subject to nonstop disinformation – throughout the pandemic, and who are looking for some real light at the end of this long dark tunnel." Actually, the only agent of disinformation we see here is WND.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, July 26, 2021 10:13 PM EDT
Sunday, July 25, 2021
MRC Embraces Another Far-Right Activist As A 'Conservative'
Topic: Media Research Center

A June 17 Media Research Center post by Alexander Hall beat the victimization drum hard:

First liberal corporations attacked conservative speech, but now they are destabilizing the finances of those they disagree with, as former Senate candidate Lauren Witzke has reportedly discovered.

American bank Wells Fargo has reportedly shut down the bank account of Lauren Witzke, a 2020 Delaware Senate GOP candidate and outspoken activist. An account purporting to represent Witzke claimed via Telegram that her bank account had been shut down, leaving her penniless in Florida: “Wells Fargo has shut down my bank account, taking all of my money and leaving me with a zero balance.” The Witzke account torched Wells Fargo for leaving her in the lurch and causing her to rely on the charity of her friends:

“When I called Wells Fargo told me that it was a ‘business decision’ and that they have the right to close my account at any time. Had I not been surrounded by friends in Florida, I would be completely stranded. Use this as a warning and get your money out of Wells Fargo if you are a conservative. This is so evil.”

Hall did quote Wells Fargo denying any political motivations for ceasing its relationship with Witzke, but he doesn't concede that the bank, as any private business in America, has the right to choose who it does business with. Meanwhile, Hall has censorred all metnion of Witzke's far-right extremism, just as it did when Marjorie Taylor Greene similarly ran as a Republican candidate.

Hall didn't tell you that Witzke has a history of promoting QAnon conspiracy theories, and she praised the right-wing thugs in the Proud Boys for providing security at apre=election rally. She has also appeared twice on an online show hosted by Rick Wiles, a promoter of anti-Semitism that even the MRC's Tim Graham agrees is toxic and the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, has denounced.

Hall also touted  Michelle Malkin's defense of Witzke, calling her a "conserv ative firebrand," but censored the fact that Malkin is also a far-right extremist who flirts with white nationalism and anti-Semitism and pushes anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories.

Despite the fact that Wells Fargo is not a "big tech" company and didn't involve censorship, a July 7 post by Casey Ryan weirdly listed the incident as among the "WORST Censorship" in June.

The MRC has a bad habit of mainstreaming far-right activists as a tool to further its increasingly dubious narrative that conservatives -- and only conservativc=es -- are being unfalrly "censored" by social media.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:57 PM EDT
CNS' Hot Pestering Intern Summer, Round 3
Topic: CNSNews.com

Even more than the first two, CNS' third round of pestering members of Congress with questions is pure gotcha. The setup was the first question: "Do you believe that someone should have to show their ID in order to buy alcohol?" With the inevitable yes answer to that question came the follow-up: "And what about to vote?" There's no equivalence between drinking restrictions and voting laws -- and CNS did not offer any -- but that's not the point. The reason for this line of questioning is partisan, of course, designed to attack the Democratic-promoted For the People Act, which according to CNS' boilerplate "proposes election reform by prohibiting states from requiring voters to show an ID at the polls. It would also require states to provide same-day voter registration and expand mail-in voting opportunities." Some articles cheered that Republicans "successfully filibustered" the bill.

Some articles noted other right-wing attacks on the law, and some interns gave members of Congress space to attack the proposed law. A few Republican congressmen were asked their opinions on colleagues declining to take the bait by saying "they support having an ID to buy alcohol but have refused to answer whether they support having an ID to vote."

So enamored was CNS by this question (and its pure-gotcha nature) that it was asked of 45 members of Congress -- meaning lots of work for its interns running between Capitol Hill and the MRC's offices in far suburban Washington, D.C. -- and rolled out over more than two weeks. First up, the senators:

Now, the House members:

Remember: These loaded questions are designed to let Republicans virtue-signal about issues on their (and CNS') agenda, and to attack Democrats who decline to provide the conservatively correct answer.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:05 PM EDT
Saturday, July 24, 2021
MRC, WND Uncritically Promote N. Korean Defector's Dubious Story
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Veronica Hays wrote in a June 16 post:

You know it's bad when a North Korea Defector is decrying American higher education as a regressive, socialist propaganda machine. Obviously, she knows of what she speaks.

Yeonmi Park, who escaped from North Korea at the age of 13, has a grim outlook on the fate of the U.S. After her experience as a student at Columbia University in New York, she was shocked to learn just how brainwashed Americans have become. “I thought North Koreans were the only people who hated Americans, but turns out there are a lot of people hating this country in this country,” she said. 

Park told Fox News, “I expected that I was paying this fortune, all this time and energy, to learn how to think. But they are forcing you to think the way they want you to think. I realized, wow, this is insane. I thought America was different but I saw so many similarities to what I saw in North Korea that I started worrying.”

The suffocating political correctness Park encountered within the Ivy League will lead to complete eradication of critical thought, she warns. "You guys have lost common sense to a degree that I as a North Korean cannot even comprehend," she said. Moral relativism and nihilism has become the new creed. Park asks, “Where are we going from here? There’s no rule of law, no morality, nothing is good or bad anymore, it’s complete chaos.”

“Trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” comprise the current setting of America’s most prestigious and challenging learning environments. For Park to encounter this pathetic display of political correctness and weak mindedness among those who should be the best and the brightest intellectuals America has to offer is both embarrassing and alarming. Park recounts how professors permitted students to have the option to opt out of specific classes/discussions whenever course material could potentially threaten their delicate sensibilities.

But as Wonkette pointed out: "Park didn't elaborate on what North Korean schools do to coddle students who would rather not attend classes they find objectionable. Probably give them a medal for doing communism right," adding:

Perhaps recognizing the limits of the American education Is North Korea analogy, Park didn't have anything at all to say in either interview about Republican efforts to ban "critical race theory" from public schools, although if she keeps touring wingnut media, she may eventually end up explaining that preventing teachers from openly discussing America's history of racial oppression is the only way to save students from being indoctrinated.

Park's story fits so neatly into right-wing narratives that Hays didn't bother to question it. But as Wonkette also noted, there are doubts about that story, with critics noting parts of it appear to be lifted from the accounts of other North Korean defectors.

Hays was joined by WorldNetDaily in repeating it in a June 14 article by Art Moore. Like Hays, Moore had no interest in checking into her background and the veracity of her story -- after all, this is WND's narrative as well.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:02 AM EDT
WND's Farah Gets More Immodest In Begging For Money
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've documented how WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah's latest allegedly urgent campaign to raise money to keep WND alive is not all that urgent, given the lack of promotion of it outside of Farah's columns and his stealth extension of the drop-dead deadline from July 15 to the end of the month. Good thing, since Farah revealed in his July 16 column that WND had received only $57,291 of its $100,000 goal.

Meanwhile, Farah has continued to ramp up the victimization, the pro-Trump fealty and the ridiculousness to drum up donations. His July 20 column was immodestly headlined "My 2-point plan for survival of the Republic (not kidding!)," which only got even more immodest from there:

Ask yourself if America is better off now than it was in 2016. Are you thankful for what President Trump accomplished? Today we're headed in the wrong direction. It could all end very quickly if the opposition party, backed by Google-Facebook, prevails at the polls.

What am I asking?

1. Support the WND News Center, the new tax-exempt nonprofit organization we founded to help carry the WND banner in our battle for survival against the "Speech Code Cartel" of Google, Facebook and others, which are purposely trying to destroy us and the entire independent, alternative media. Your tax-deductible support will help us immensely to weather this storm.

If you prefer to write tax-deductible checks for this purpose, you can make them out to the "WND News Center" and mail them to: WND News Center, 580 E Street – PO Box 100 – Hawthorne, NV 89415-0100. (Please include the complete address because of the rural location.)

Regarding the campaign we launched mid-June to raise $100,000 by the end of July so WND can continue to operate, we're making real progress! As of today, we've raised $70,996. Thank you sincerely for that, all who donated. Now we have a week and a half left to raise the remaining $29,004. Please help put us over the top!

2. The rest of my plan is secret for now. Stay tuned. More on that later.

Yes, Farah really thinks giving him your money will save the republic.

In his July 21 column, played victim again while also pushing the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election:

When I awakened to the threat to free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and our right to free and fair elections posed by this cartel, it was because my own company, WND, the product of 25 years of blood, sweat and tears, was caught in the crossfire. It's not that we were targeted because we were the biggest fish. It was because Donald Trump, and all he represented, was a threat to the cabal and their ultra-progressive friends in Washington. We were just collateral damage, roadkill – because we were perceived, as others in the alternative, independent media, as key enablers and facilitators of the 2016 Trump upset.

I'm convinced the Big Steal of 2020 was in part the revenge of Big Tech.

WND is failing because it publishes fake news, but you be you, Joe.

On July 22, Farah immodestly portrayed himself as being in an "epic, existential battle with Big Tech," which involved him playing victim again:

I'm an expert on Google, but all the Big Tech companies are the same, as far as I can tell. Things have only gotten worse in the last 10 years – far worse. It hit home with me when I saw the company I built from scratch more than 25 years ago, my life's work, ravaged by the cartel's wrecking ball – reduced in revenues by more than half in 24 months.

It was enough to give me a series of five strokes!

Most people in their right minds would have given up. But I couldn't. I was the one who started this grand experiment in "online independent media" back in the '90s. I was determined – and remain so – to FIGHT BACK.

Backed into a corner, I continue going public with how the cartel attempted to exterminate the alternative independent media that sprung up in WND's wake over the last 25 years. Big Tech is still determined to snuff us out today, after having played such a huge role in manipulating the results of the presidential election – the last one, the Big Steal as it has become known.

The only people I could turn to were you – those who came to WND because you recognized what we were doing, what we were about and what our convictions are. And most of all, you recognized why it was necessary that this experiment in truth-seeking without fear or favor not be knocked off by a club of spoiled, soulless, pompous, greedy, presumptuous super-billionaires who sought to commit bloodless barbarism never imagined by the most diabolical totalitarian governments in history.

In the midst of his daily money beg, Farah once again stated, "Remember, if WND goes down, soon the independent free press will be a thing of the past, and with it, our uniquely blessed nation." Actually, the republic will survive just fine if a fake-news operation like WND doesn't deserve to live.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:09 AM EDT
Friday, July 23, 2021
MRC Psaki-Bashing, Doocy-Fluffing Watch, Police Funding Edition
Topic: Media Research Center

As we've noted, the guiding rules for Curtis Houck's write-ups are 1) Jen Psaki must always be attacked, smeared and denigrated, and 2) Peter Doocy and other right-wing reporters must always be praised. Which is why Houck started his write-up for the June 28 briefing this way:

Monday’s White House press briefing quickly became an epic messaging embarrassment for the the Biden administration as, under questioning from the Fox News Channel’s Peter Doocy, Press Secretary Jen Psaki argued that Republicans (and not Democrats) have defunded the police and gave the White House’s blessing to America-hating Olympian Gwen Barry.

After a short exchange on President Biden’s muddled stance on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, Doocy started with the Defund the Police movement, calling out comments from senior adviser Cedric Richmond that said Republicans had defunded the police by not supporting the stimulus boondoggle that masqueraded as coronavirus relief.

“But how is it that that is an argument to be made when the President never mentioned needing money for police to stop a crime wave when he was selling the American Rescue Plan,” wondered Doocy.

Incredibly, Psaki doubled down on the spin, saying that Republicans do indeed not support keeping police “on the beat in communities across the country” because they refused to vote for “the American Rescue Plan” and its “funding” to “help ensure local cops” kept their jobs.

Doocy called out the fact that this wasn’t the supposed focus of the package and has nothing to do with supporting police amidst a crime wave, but Psaki refused to rejoin reality[.]

Yes, the guy who is simply spouting right-wing talking points by claiming without evidence that coronavirus stimulus spending is a "boondoggle" thinks others should "rejoin reality." Houck also offered no evidence to support his claim that Barry hates America (and, no, her little protest is not evidence of that). HOuck also complained that "numerous liberal journalists went full Chicken Little over the Delta variant of the coronavirus" -- a partisan assertion that looks pretty dumb now given that the highly contagious variant is currently the dominant coronavirus variant by far in the U.S. and responsible for a large uptick in Americans (most of them unvaccinated) being hospitalized for COVID and dying from it (while the MRC tries to distract from the fact that the biggest group of vaccine-hesitant Americans are white conservatives and that right-wing media encourages that vaccine hesitancy).

As Mediaite's Tommy Christopher pointed out (but Houck won't), Doocy "went full-on defense attorney for congressional Republicans" during this exchange -- not exactly the kind of fair and balanced journalist the MRC claims to prefer.

Houck continued to fixate over police funding -- because it's now a right-wing talking point -- in the writeup for the June 30 briefing:

Two days after he faced shameless gaslighting from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki over which party supported defunding the police, Fox News’s Peter Doocy was back at it during Wednesday’s briefing and pressed Psaki on her false claims that the GOP (and not Democrats) have defunded the police.

Doocy began with this carefully crafted question:>“[Y]ou mentioned at the last briefing that you think Republicans wanted to defund the police because they did not support the American Rescue Plan. Which Republican ever said they did not like the American Rescue Plan because they wanted to defund the police?”

Psaki refused to change her tune and instead reiterated her reliance on blind partisanship and low-information voters by arguing that Democrats oppose defunding the police because President Biden “ran and won the most votes of any candidate in history on a plan of booster for law enforcement after Republicans spent decades trying to cut the cops program.”

She added that there shouldn’t be any further debate because it’s “a simple statement of fact” that the GOP has “also stood in the way of crucial funding needing to prevent the laying off of police officers as crime increased.”

Earth to Jen: What do cities such as Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, Oakland, and Seattle all have in common? Not only are they run by Democrats, but those Democrats have voted to defund their police departments.

Actually, all of those police departments are still in existence, so they weren't "defunded" to the point of elimination -- they merely saw some relatively minor budget cuts. Houck knows that, of course, but his mission is to forward right-wing talking points, not tell the full truth.

Houck clung to that narrative for his July 2 writeup, and he found something else to manufacture outrage about with alleged name-calling toward Psaki and man-crushing on Doocy:

With one last White House press briefing before the Fourth of July weekend, Fox’s Peter Doocy came prepared Friday afternoon with questions for Press Secretary Jen Psaki about her gaslighting on defunding the police, negative stories about Vice President Kamala Harris’s staff, and a widely-panned White House tweet urging Americans to celebrate the 16-cent decrease in the cost of food to throw a backyard get-together.

Starting with the hot dogs tweet, Doocy closed out his turn with a question about the tone-deaf tweet that ignored the fact that Americans are paying more for gas (which Psaki would acknowledge a few minutes later):“[T]he official White House account tweeted yesterday: ‘The cost of 1/4 of July cookout was down 16 cents from last year.’ 16 cents?”

Psaki didn’t hesitate in showing her Acela Corridor elitism, bragging that “there has been a reduction in some of the costs of key components of the Fourth of July — a Fourth of July barbecue. That was what the tweet was noting.”

Having totally missed the point, a usually calm Doocy came off as a tad exasperated while Psaki dug in by mocking blowback to the tweet has having emanated form those that dislike hot dogs [.]

[...]

If this were a Trump administration briefing, one could safely bet that CNN and MSNBC would be doing a few segments fact-checking Psaki and decrying the administration’s lies.

But since their friends are in power, they moved right along.

If this were a Trump administration briefing, Houck would be defending the briefer as strong, unassailable and always right, while denigrating the reporter as biased and always wrong -- you know, like he did when his beloved Kayleigh McEnany was at the podium.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:52 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 23, 2021 4:48 PM EDT
Fake News: WND Pushes Misinformation About Delta Variant
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily added to the pile of misinformation it has published about coronavirus issues with a June 29 article by Art Moore:

Los Angeles County health officials who are "strongly" urging people – even those who are vaccinated – to wear a mask indoors due to the "Delta variant" of the Wuhan coronavirus are overreacting, contend two prominent epidemiologists.

Dr. Peter McCullough said the restrictions in Los Angeles and lockdowns in Australia, Thailand and South Africa are "completely unnecessary."

"The Delta variant is the mildest one we've seen so far, and even though it'll proportionately take up a greater number of cases – and we expect this in the United States – it has a very low mortality, appears to be the most treatable strain that we’ve seen so far," he said Monday in an interview with Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle," which was guest-hosted by Ben Domenech.

[...]

In "The Ingraham Angle" interview, Dr. Harvey Risch of the Yale School of Public Health said there's no way to stop the spread of the Delta variant, and its spread actually will be helpful, because it is mild and will enhance herd immunity.

He said governments, media and corporations are "dramatically" overreacting.

"This is a very mild variant, and the cases are going to go up ... whereas at the same time the mortality is flat, near zero," Risch said.

Because Moore doesn't bother to fact-check McCullough and Risch, he simply fowards their misinformation without question.Neither of them define what they mean by "mild," but it's clear that whatever it is, the Delta variant is not that: It's much more contagious than the original COVID strain, and early research suggests that those who who are sickened by the Delta variant are more likely to end up in the hospital. The variant now accounts for a whopping 83 percent of new COVID cases, nearly all of whom are unvaccinated.

We've already documented how WND has pushed McCullough's COVID misinformation. But Risch is a serial misinformer as well; he has promoted the dubious drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID and falsely claimed that most new COVID cases come from the vaccine.

There's no reason to treat either McCullough or Risch seriously on issues of COVID, but Moore wants you to believe they're trusted "prominent epidemiologists." Pubnlishing such easily debunked misinformation doesn't help WND's efforts to be seen as credible (and to get people to give them money).


Posted by Terry K. at 2:05 PM EDT
CNS Columnist Embraces Incomplete Pro-Trump Report
Topic: CNSNews.com

Jeffrey McCall used a June 11 CNSNews.com column to dutifully repeat the right-wing, pro-Truymp line on a government report on protesters being cleared from Lafayette Square, followed by then-President Trump doing a photo-op there:

Public trust in the establishment media has been cratering for years and that trend is not without cause.  News reporting continues to be done with kneejerk reactions, little concern for reality, and too often for partisan purposes. 

More evidence of such media malfeasance came out Wednesday in the form of a report from the Interior Department’s Inspector General. The report concluded that the United States Park Police did not remove unruly demonstrators from Lafayette Park near the White House a year ago to allow then-President Donald Trump a photo op near an arson-damaged church.

[...]

The establishment media had quickly jumped to conclusion last June, too eager to create a narrative that Trump was using the U.S. Park Police for selfish promotional purposes and abusing supposedly peaceful demonstrators. The recently released Inspector General’s report explains the plans for clearing Lafayette Park were put in place well in advance of Trump’s evening stroll to the church, and that police had the authority to clear the area for security reasons.

The media failed its Logic 101 exam for that event, assuming that because one event followed another, there must necessarily be causation. News reporting at the time also failed to acknowledge that the U.S. Park Police had solid reasons to expand the security perimeter near the White House, after numerous incidents of chaos in that section of the district. Those security steps, as is known now from the Inspector General’s report, were being implemented without directions from the White House.

But the media was too compelled, as usual, to make everything about Trump. The press relied on unnamed White House sources to create the unfounded narrative that the park was being cleared of demonstrators solely for a Trump photo op. 

As we documented when CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, pushed this same narrative, the report was extremely incomplete, having declined to interview most of the major players in the incident. Additionally, there was no evidence at the time that the reporting was false, and the Trump White House had such a horrible track record of lies and misinformation that there was no reason to take anything they said at face value.

McCall did at least concede missteps on the part of the Trump White House: "The Trump handlers, for their part, also blundered that evening, failing to recognize how damaging the optics could be of a presidential pseudo-event taking place after the removal of protestors from a public park. The timing of Trump’s appearance created a bizarre scene for which an upside was difficult to find." But he immediately followed that with more media-bashing: 'That doesn’t excuse the media’s distorted narrative that surely played a role during the 2020 presidential campaign."

Like the MRC, McCall has chosent to put his faith in an incomplete report for political purposes in order to advance a partisan narrative. Not a good look for a college professor and, according to his end-of-column bio, "a recognized authority on media and journalistic ethics and standards."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:38 AM EDT
Thursday, July 22, 2021
MRC Tries To Deflect Blame From Conservatives, Fox News For Vaccine Hesitancy
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has tried various strategies to deflect from the fact that refusal to get the coronavirus vaccine is largely the domain of conservative white people -- from blaming Kamala Harris (whom white conservatives are unlikely to turn to for health advice) to blaming the unreliability of polls noting that fact (even though the MRC has touted other work by the pollster). But as that fact gets more exposure in the media, the MRC has gone on defense.

When CBS late-night host James Corden's show argued that those who refuse to get vaccinated should be excluded from events, Charlotte Hazard played the celebrity card in a June 8 post: "It’s so interesting watching elite celebrities lecturing Americans about how they have to get a vaccine to do normal things in life."

When CNN noted a poll showing Republicans' vaccine hesitancy, Brad Wilmouth -- who wrote the above-noted poll-releated piece -- used a June 22 post to attack the poll again instead of acknowledging the truth: "Here again, the pollsters didn't make any distinction among the unvaccinated: What if you've already had an infection and have natural antibodies? Wouldn't it make sense that those people could feel less concerned about masks and social distancing? But for CNN, all's fair in love and coronavirus—when it comes to ripping Republicans."

On July 9, Kevin Tober complained that "former Missouri Democrat [sic] Senator turned MSNBC political analyst Claire McCaskill used her appearance on Thursday night’s All In with Chris Hayes to blame Republicans for the low vaccination rates in rural areas of the country," adding that "Instead of giving real reasons, she decided to play politics and blame Republicans." But Tober gave no real reasons to defend Republican deniers, other than to argue that "The real solution is to expand access to the vaccine in rural areas." But he still stayed on the attack: "Instead of thumbing her nose at rural Americans, McCaskill should advise the Biden administration to do just that. But she would rather hate on people in the flyover states."

After the New York Times pointed out Fox News' role in scaring its viewers into avoiding vaccines, Clay Waters huffed in a July 14 post: "Speaking of 'amplifying vaccine hesitancy,' it wasn’t Fox News but the Biden Administration that actually cancelled vaccinations, when the Centers for Disease Control recommended pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in mid-April over rare occurrences of blood clots, which marked the start of the decline in America’s daily vaccination rate." Waters offered no evidence there was any link between the brief pause in the J&J vaccine and "start of the decline in America’s daily vaccination rate," and he conveniently omitted the fact that the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines continued to be available.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:08 PM EDT
Fake News: WND Repeats Bogus Report Of Missing Election Paperwork
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily, it seem, just can't stop publishing bogus articles about the 2020 election. Bob Unruh did so in a June 14 article:

An elections official in Georgia has admitted that "a few" legally required forms documenting the chain of custody for ballots during the 2020 presidential election are missing, blaming the significant problem on the fact some "core personnel" were quarantined due to positive COVID-19 tests at the time.

But actually, a report in the Georgia Star News reveals that 385 official transfer forms, of an estimated 1,565 that would have been present in Fulton County, are missing.

"The total number of absentee ballots whose chain of custody was purportedly documented in these 385 missing Fulton County absentee ballot transfer forms was 18,901, more than 6,000 votes greater than the less than 12,000 vote margin of Biden’s certified victory in the state," the report said.

The report explained the "stunning admission" about the missing documents came from Mariska Bodison, of the Fulton County Registration & Elections office.

As it turns out, that's not true. As a fact-checker found:

Earlier this week, a pro-Trump media outlet that has amplified calls for a so-called quot;forensic audit" of the election kicked off a firestorm of criticism, asserting the county was missing 385 absentee ballot transfer forms used to document how many ballots were retrieved from drop boxes daily and suggesting the provenance of nearly 19,000 ballots were questionable.

This comes from an ongoing open records request that the ;Georgia Star News made to Fulton for all transfer forms from the Nov. 3 election. The media outlet only received a portion of Fulton's forms. 

According to Georgia Star News, an elections worker emailed the outlet stating that "a few forms are missing" and that "some procedural paperwork may have been misplaced" and the county disputed that 19,000 ballots were unaccounted for. 

Then, the story published and rocketed across the pro-Trump mediasphere, prompting Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (who faces his own pro-Trump primary challenge from election denier Rep. Jody Hice) to announce an investigation in the county's actions and further fanning the flames.

But after GPB News asked the county Monday about the forms not included in the Georgia Star's records request, elections staff located all but eight of the more than 1,500 forms, sent them to state investigators and provided them to GPB News on a flash drive.

Unruh has not updated his article with the facts, nor has he written a follow-up that debunks this story.Unruh also didn't mention the hard-right bias of the Georgia Star News -- none other than Steve Bannon endorsed the operation, part of a network of state-level websites, as "very MAGA, very American First" -- which means it lacks credibility. Not a good sign when you're trying to convince people you're credible so they give you money so you don't go out of business.


Posted by Terry K. at 5:44 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 22, 2021 5:48 PM EDT
NEW ARTICLE: Biased Beat Cops At The MRC
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center spent much of the past TV season being angry that TV police shows tried to reflect reality by tackling the thorny issues of racial justice and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 PM EDT
CNS Touts Bishops' Attacks On Biden -- But Went Silent When They Wouldn't Refuse Him Communion
Topic: CNSNews.com

For months, the uber-Catholics at CNSNews.com have been attacking President Biden for not being Catholic enough, with an emphasis on building a narrative aimed at encouraging Catholic bishops to deny him and other Catholic politicians it has deemed insufficiently Catholic -- such as Nancy Pelosi -- Communion at church in a very public way. That has continued:

  • Managing editor Michael W. Chapman touted in a May 3 article: "In a May 1 pastoral letter on the moral evil of abortion, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco explains why Catholic politicians (and other public Catholics) who support abortion must not receive Holy Communion and why they must stop pretending that advocating for abortion is compatible with the Catholic faith."
  • In a May 18 column, anti-abrtion activist Judie Brown cheered the idea of bishops  denying Biden Communion, huffing that "seeing their bishops debate whether or not a Catholic public official like Biden or Pelosi should be denied the body of Christ because they support this killing is an absurdity. And it creates confusion everywhere." Brown then ranted: "Pelosi, Biden, and others have pandered to evil and insulted the body of Christ for many years. Do the bishops and the Vatican really need to study this, or are they obligated to Christ Himself to say once and for all, 'Choose! Unity or division, Christ or Satan!'?"
  • Chapman highlighted in a June 1 article how another bishop "largely denounced President Biden's budget proposal for excluding the pro-life Hyde Amendment, stating that 'Congress must reject the Administration’s proposal to subsidize the deaths of unborn children.'"
  • Dishonest right-wing Catholic Bill Donohue used a June 4 column to huff that it was "character assassination" when a liberal Catholic publication argued that bishops desperate to publicly rebuke Biden are trying to create a "MAGA church" and are "in the pockets of wealthy donors pushing a political agenda." Three days later, Donohue contributed a column that purported to list "Biden's 30+ Departures From Catholicism Thus Far."
  • An anonymously written June 14 article quoted a bishop who issued s statement "in which he cites President Joe Biden for promoting evils, including the abortion of unborn babies, the marriage of people of the same sex and people identifying as the opposite sex of the one they are biologically," adding that "the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as planned, should discuss at their virtual meeting this week why Catholics who advocate abortion cannot receive communion."
  • An anonymously written June 18 article found a bishop who said that Biden's "calling abortion a 'right' and trying to abolish the Hyde Amendment so taxpayers must pay for it is 'the most aggressive thing we’ve ever seen in terms of this attack on life when it’s most innocent.'"

In a May 12 article, Chapman complained that CNS' anti-Biden goal of denying him Communion was being resisted by the Vatican:

As U.S. Catholic bishops prepare for a June meeting on how to address the scandal of pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Holy Communion, the Vatican's doctrinal office has sent a letter to the bishops essentially urging them to slow down, delay, take more time to debate and communicate before formulating a policy on the issue. 

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that defends official Catholic teaching, said in a May 7 letter to the bishops that when this topic was discussed in 2019-2020, "the formulation of a national policy was suggested ... only if this would help the bishops to maintain unity."

"This Congregation notes that such a policy" today, "given its possibly contentious nature, could have the opposite effect and become a source of discord rather than unity within the episcopate and the larger Church in the United States."

[...]

In the United States, some of the most prominent Catholic politicians who support abortion are well known and their anti-life position has been well-documented for decades.

CNS started building up to that meeting of Bishops. A June 18 article by Melanie Arter featured how Biden said "he doesn’t think the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will deny him Communion based on his support for abortion," and a June 22 column by Pat Buchanan hyped bishops' alleged "alarm that the public religious practice of President Joe Biden is conveying a heretical message to the faithful and the nation."

But when that meeting of bishops resulted in them declining to establish a national policy of withholding Communion from Biden and other Catholic politicians, CNS ... reported nothing. It wasn't until July 1 -- several days after the bishops' meeting -- that the outcome was first mentioned on the CNS website, and that was in a column by Donohue complaining that a newspaper criticized the bishops for even considering such drastic action.

This was followed by a July 6 column by Brown complaining that  "Catholic bishops, for the most part, seem to be unfamiliar with the difference between profaning the body of Christ in the Eucharist and being coherent in a policy that defends and protects Him from sacrilege." Then, a July 8 column by Stephen Kokx ranted:

How much do Catholic bishops in the United States care about unborn babies? Or, for that matter, infallible church teaching on the Eucharist? By the looks of it, not that much.

[...]

It would’ve been a glorious moment in Church history — perhaps something even akin to St. Ambrose rebuking Emperor Theodosius in the 4th century — had the bishops taken a stand and boldly defended Catholic doctrine at their June meeting. Instead, they caved to media and Vatican pressure and are now complicit in the continued profanation of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. May God have mercy on their souls.

Kokx didn't explain why it's a bad thing for Catholic bishops to be influenced by "Vatican pressure." That's the head of the Catholic church, after all.

CNS has yet to devote a "news" article to the bishops' decision.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 22, 2021 2:50 PM EDT
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
MRC Endorses Incomplete Report Because It Claims To Exonerate Trump
Topic: Media Research Center

Nicholas Fondacaro tried to push the ol' "fake news" narrative on a new report in a June 9 post:

On Wednesday, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt flaunted just how much he felt “fairness is overrated,” when he had his program censor an Inspector General report that busted a fake news narrative. About a year ago, the liberal media accused then-President Trump of having Lafayette Park cleared of Black Lives Matter protesters for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church.

CBS Evening News calling it “vindication for the Trump administration.” But NBC was more interested in trying to get viewers deals for hot summer sales on bathing suits, lipstick, and other frivolous items. The network was also fascinated with a group of elephants migrating across China.

Fondacaro went on to claim that "the report had corroborated what Attorney General Bill Barr was saying at the time in defense of the action" and complained that a reporter "didn’t want to give the former President credit for what he was saying."

First, Fondacaro is taking Holt's statement out of context. Second, he has forgotten that Trump has been caught in so many lies there's no reason to take anything he says at face value. The original story was not "fake news" because 1) the timeline made it plausible, 2) no proof was offered that anyone in the media knew that story was false but reported it anyway, 3) Trump is a liar whose word can't be trusted, and 4) the Trump White House offered no credible evidence to disprove the story.

Fondadcaro is also giving way too much credit to that report because it can be wedged into the MRC's pro-Trump, anti-media narrative, ignoring the investigation's many holes. As Washington Post columnist Radley Balko pointed out, the inspector general didn't interview Trump, Barr or anyone else from the White House, the journalists and protesters who were there, or the Secret Service or any of the law enforcement agencies involved that day (let alone try to answer such questions as why personnel from the Bureau of Prisons were there). The report only looked into why Lafayette Square was cleared, not how.There's also plenty of evidence about Trump's authoritarian nature that supports the narrative that the square was cleared for his photo-op.

Despite all those reasons to treat the IG's report with skepticism, Brad Wilmouth still complained on June 14 that people were being skeptical:

CNN journalists are so bitten by Trump Derangement Syndrome that the release of an inspector general's report disproving the liberal media's anti-Trump narrative on the clearing of Lafayette Park has had them struggling to salvage their anti-Trump theories.

After last week's report by the U.S. Department of the Interior  found tha President Donald Trump did not order that protesters be forcibly removed so he could stage a photo-op last June, CNN's Jim Acosta joined Thursday's New Day to react with skepticism, with Acosta suggesting that the inspector general was trying to get a job working for Trump.

Meanwhile, Wilmouth sounds like he's trying to get a job working for Trump by attempting to justify ther square-clearling crackdown by declaring that "a large number of officers were injured in the Lafayette Park area in the first week of protests, which was more than the number injured in the January 6 Capitol riots." Wilmouth didn't mention that Lafayette Square protesters got nowhere near the White House , while the Jan. 6 rioters actually broke into the Capitol.

As we see yet again, facts don't matter at the MRC -- only the narrative does.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:38 PM EDT

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