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Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Newsmax's 'Non-Clinicians' Are Still Ranting, Misinforming
Topic: Newsmax

We've documented how Newsmax has felt the need to tag some of its columnists -- particularly those pushing coronavirus-related conspiracy theories -- with a disclaimer noting that the writer is a "non-clinician," presumably in an attempt to avoid liability for promoting false claims, since that's a lazy way out to avoid fact-checking. Newsmax has continued to do that since we checked in last.

A July 13 column by Jack Brewer got hit with a double disclaimer: "The following article has been authored by a non-clinician, and is not an attorney." In it, Brewer demanded "serious discussion about what constitutes immunity from COVID and the potential for infringement upon individual liberties" (italics in original), particularly regarding sports, going on to assert that "requiring vaccinations for players may be illegal."

The "non-clinician" tag got applied to a July 17 column by Michael Reagan, in which he declared that "the FDA is either run by blind fanatics or psychopaths. Or both" because it's considering allowing COVID vaccinations for children under 12. He ranted that "There are potentially more risks from vaccine side effects than there are from the disease" (600,000-plus COVID fatalities in the U.S. alone would beg to differ)and asserted that "Parents are being buffaloed by an unholy combination of Big Pharma and Pandemic Panic purveyors."

Reagan went on to claim: "One of the latest scare stories is the dreaded “delta variant.” Like the original Covid-19 variant, that doesn’t harm children to the extent the media says it does with a new name and a passport stamp." Actually, the Delta variant is putting more children in the hospital. He added, "Your children don’t need a vaccine to prevent them from spreading the disease because another scare story, asymptomatic transmission, likely doesn’t exist either." Actually, it does.

Mark Schulte got a lot of "non-clinician" tags in the past, and he (and the tag) return for a July 22 column, which began by touting how Florida's COVID death count was somewhat lower than that of New York, then whined that people are being encouraged to get the vaccine: "Another hysterical media campaign, orchestrated by leading Democrats and the fake liberal media, has been directed against unvaccinated Americans."

Mark Meckler's July 29 column got ther "non-clinician" tag for cheering that that Americans are resisiting vaccine mandates because "Everyone who wanted a COVID-19 vaccine has gotten one":

To be clear, I’m not opposed to COVID-19 vaccines.

If you want one, you should get one.

But we shouldn’t suddenly throw out hundreds of years of established personal freedoms and rights just to allow the federal government, state governments, and yes, even private businesses, to force medical treatment on individuals.

The most important question the American people must answer isn’t about what is decided. Those are policy debates that can conclude in consensus and compromise.

The most important question is who decides.

We siuspect that Meckler would not be so reticent about a vaccine mandate if Trump had been re-elected.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:31 PM EDT
CNS' Gotcha War on Nancy Pelosi
Topic: CNSNews.com

Another part of CNS" multi-pronged war on Nancy Pelosi involves finding ways to bash the people she says nice things about -- even if they're otherwise decent people. In an anonymously written June 25 article -- apparently nobody wanted to put their byline on this political hit job -- attacked a U.S. ally, under the headline "Pelosi Hugs, Praises Afghan President Whose Government Criminalizes Same-Sex Activity and Imprisons Gays":

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) hugged and praised Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, whose government in 2018, according to Human Rights Watch, “adopted a new penal code that explicitly criminalizes same-sex relations" and whose nation's security forces, according to the State Department, engaged in “violence…against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.”

A video of a press briefing Pelosi held with Ghani in the U.S. Capitol today was posted on YouTube by Pelosi’s office. The video shows Pelosi and Ghani coming together at the end of a hallway in the Capitol and embracing in front of a trio of American flags.

CNS doesn't actually care about LGBTQ people -- heck, given how homophobic its editors are, particularly managing editor Michael W. Chapman,  they probably approve of these laws. The only purpose here is to play gotcha with Pelosi for honoring a U.S. ally whose country's policies don't align with her Democratic Party.

In a July 9 article, an anonymous CNS writer lashed out at a prominent civil rights hero under the headline "Pelosi Praises the ‘Beautiful and Saintly Life’ of Congressman Who Had 100% Pro-Abortion Record":

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) on Thursday praised what she described as the “beautiful and saintly life” of Rep. John Lewis (D.-Ga.) who had a 100 percent pro-abortion voting record as scored by NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Pelosi made the remarks in a statement put out by her office to announce that she would be leading a Congressional delegation to San Diego on July 17 to participate in the christening of the U.S. Navy Ship John Lewis.

Lewis died last year on July 17.

“As House Speaker, I am deeply honored to lead this Congressional delegation of many friends of our beloved late Congressman John Lewis to honor his beautiful and saintly life,” said Pelosi.

“John Lewis was a warrior for freedom and, as a titan of the civil rights movement, his courage and goodness helped transform our nation,” she said. “In the halls of the Capitol, he was fearless in his pursuit of a more perfect union, whether fighting to defend voting rights, end anti-LGBTQ discrimination or respect the dignity and worth of every person.”

On its website, NARAL lists Lewis pro-abortion voting record as 100 percent from 2016 through his passing in 2020.

Another anonynous CNS writer rehashed the gotcha on Lewis in a July 19 article hedlined "Pelosi’s Title for Man Who Voted to Keep Late-Term Abortions Legal: “The Conscience of the Congress’":

House Speaker Nancy (D.-Calif.) spoke at the Christening Ceremony for the USNS John Lewis --a Navy vessel named after a late Democratic congressman from Georgia who had a 100-percent pro-abortion voting record--and declared that Rep. John Lewis was “the Conscience of the Congress.”

“John always demonstrated courage with his presence,” Pelosi said. “‘Be there,’ John would say.

The article did note Lewis' record on civil rights, but CNS is so myopic and so obsessed with abortion that it means nothing to them:

As a member of Congress, Lewis voting record earned a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

In its analysis of his voting record, NARAL Pro-Choice America noted that Lewis voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. NARAL Pro-Choice America also noted that Lewis voted against a bill “that defunds Planned Parenthood…and includes anti-choice policy riders such as restrictions on abortion care for women who obtain their healthcare through the federal government.”

We don't recall CNS ever treating a Republican president or congressional leader this way. That's because it believes destroying Pelosi is more important than honest reporting.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:11 AM EDT
Monday, August 9, 2021
MRC Continues To Defend Babylon Bee's Alleged Satire
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has been helping the Babylon Bee walk the line between satire and misinformation -- getting mad at anyone criticizes the Bee for walking that line but hiding the fact that its right-wing target audience tends to treat its alleged satire as fact. A June 14 article by Nicholas Fondacaro cheered that the Bee successfully nagged the New York Times into changing an article that referred to the Bee as "misinformation" -- then hyped CEO Seth Dillon complaining that it doing so the Times pointed out that fact-checking sites had identified the Bee as misinformation (presumably because some had presented Bee articles as fact).

The next day, Heather Moon tried to discredit an academic study that claimed "conservatives couldn’t tell the difference between factual and misleading news as well as liberals," in part because "Many of the so-called “false” headlines were stories from political satire sites like the Babylon Bee," adding, "The Science Advances study’s use of satirical headlines as examples of 'false' news is misleading." Actually, it shows that the Babylon Bee's alleged really is indistinguishable from fact for a significant portion of its target audience.

In a June 18 post, Kayla Sargent cheered that Facebook would cease being as tough on outlets claiming to be satire:

Facebook appears to have finally developed a sense of humor after its history of fact-checking and targeting satire sites like The Babylon Bee.

The platform announced that it has developed a satire exception to its censorship practices in response to a recent decision from the Oversight Board (the Board). The Board overturned Facebook’s decision to censor a meme that a user had posted. Facebook said that it will “add information to the Community Standards that makes it clear where we consider satire as part of our assessment of context-specific decisions.”

 [...]

Facebook’s past censorship of satirical content, however, is no laughing matter. The platform has censored Christian satire site The Babylon Bee (The Bee) on numerous occasions, and Facebook-owned Instagram has also censored the satire site’s creator, Seth Dillon. At one point, Facebook censored an article from The Bee titled “Senator Hirono Demands ACB Be Weighed Against A Duck To See If She Is A Witch.”

As usual, Sargent's definion of "censored" is laughably overbroad. Regarding the duck/witch article,  One of the examples on the MRC's Free Speech America portrays a pop-up box on Facebook asking if a person really wants to share a post as "soft censor[ship]." Pop-up boxes are not censorship, no matter how hard the MRC insists otherwise.

ON June 25, Alexander Hall got mad that it was pointed out that the Bee's alleged satire is mean-spirited and tends to punch down, and that Facebook might not like that:

Facebook made it loud and clear that satire may be OK on the platform, but only on the condition it doesn’t target people or things that it favors. Leftist, progressive outlet Slate responded by claiming The Babylon Bee is the perfect target for punishment.

Satirical humor might be protected on a conditional basis, but Facebook has decided that humor at the expense of groups it likes is not allowed. “[T]rue satire does not ‘punch down,’” Facebook whined in a June 17 transparency report. “[I]f content is simply derogatory, not layered, complex, or subversive, it is not satire. Indeed, humor can be an effective mode of communicating hateful ideas.” In short, Facebook suggested that it has reserved the right to purge satirists for making jokes about people or things it favors.” Only a few days later, Slate responded by suggesting conservative satire website The Babylon Bee has “a nasty tendency to punch down” in a June 22 blog.

Slate gave due credit and remarked that The Babylon Bee has seen a meteoric rise in popularity “now garnering more interactions on Facebook than the Onion.” Even so, the leftist news outlet accused The Bee of being “often ‘ironically’ misogynistic, as when it ‘defended’ the place of women soldiers in the American military by reporting how ‘they don’t throw grenades well, so the enemy will never know what to expect’ and how ‘you can pay them way less, which gives you more money for weapons and ammo.’” It also described The Bee’s tendency to lampoon absurd gender politics as being “frequently antagonistic toward the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Um, doesn't the fact that the Bee is "garnering more interactions on Facebook than the Onion" pretty much blow up the MRC's narrative that conservatives are being silenced?

Hall gave Dillon -- or more accurately, as even Hall surprisingly admits, "the unverified account purporting to represent The Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon" -- a chance to respond, insisting that they're not punching down, they just hate liberals:

The Dillon account rejected the premise that The Bee, a rare example of conservative entertainment, is punching down when it pokes fun at the left’s ideology: “They say we antagonize the trans community (punching down). Utter nonsense. We're attacking the top-down tyranny of the left's progressive agenda and the destruction it's wreaking throughout society, enabled and fueled by all the most powerful people and institutions.” In a following tweet, he quipped “If that's not punching up, I don't know what is. But more importantly, the left's prohibition of ‘punching down’ is speech suppression in disguise. It's people in positions of power protecting their interests by telling you what you can and cannot joke about.”

Of course, the Bee's "attacking the top-down tyranny of the left's progressive agenda" is indistinguishable from attacking the trans community because no distinction is made between the two. It comes down to the Bee being opposed to LGBTQ people having the same rights as everyone else.

The same day, Sargent served up more PR by touting how the Bee was quitting its email service because its account was suspended, dramatically declaring the Bee "has, once again, felt the sting of tech censorship." Sargent also let Dillon rant that the service "has been exercising viewpoint discrimination under the guise of protecting the public from harmful misinformation" and purportedly "looking for excuses to censor us by literally scanning the content of our emails." Sargent gave the service no chance to respond to Dillon's accusations or her attempt to demonize it.

Sargent did disclose that "The Babylon Bee is a member of the Free Speech Alliance" -- the conglomeration of right-wing groups the MRC assembled to fight "censorship" of conservatives (which really isn't happening).The fact that the Babylon Bee is part of such a partisan group betrays its partisan nature -- and belies any attempt by the MRC and the Bee to frame what it does as benign satire.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:56 PM EDT
NEW ARTICLE: CNS' Nitpicky War on Biden
Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com has made it a mission to attack President Biden for even the most minor mistakes -- something it didn't do, and still won't, regarding Donald Trump. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 2:08 PM EDT
Fake News: WND Repeats Lie About COVID Deaths
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily is stubbornly committed to spreading fake news about coronavirus and its treatments and vaccines. Art Moore struck again in a July 13 article:

In a span of one week, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 vaccines reported to the government's database outnumbered the official count of deaths due to the virus.

The government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, contains voluntary, unverified reports of adverse events following immunization with U.S.-licensed vaccines. But it's estimated that only between 1% and 10% of the adverse events that occur are reported to VAERS.

The Gateway Pundit noted VAERS reported 2,043 vaccine deaths in the week prior to July 7 compared to 1,505 COVID-19 deaths.

Moore is lying -- more accurately, he's repeating the lies of the notoriously unreliable Gateway Pundit. We've pointed out before that reports of deaths reported to VAERS does not mean the vaccines caused the death. Unilke Moore and Gateway Pundit, we'll go straight to the source:

FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.  A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. 

The fact that Moore chose to trust a website known for pushing bogus conspiracy theories and has been repeatedly discredited instead of actual authorities on COVID tells you all you need to know about whether WND itself should be trusted. (It shouldn't.)


Posted by Terry K. at 12:15 AM EDT
Sunday, August 8, 2021
What Fringe Figures Do The MRC Insist Are Being 'Censored' Now?
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has a long, shameful history of siding with fringe far-right figures whose extremism got them restricted or suspended from social media because it can massage the story and whitewash the extremism to portray them as victims of "censorship" by "Big Tech." Narratives, you know.

Dan Gainor found a fringe doctor who matched that description -- and, thus, the increasingly bogus narrative -- perfectly:

Google has opened a new front in the online censorship fight — restricting access to documents created in Google Docs. 

Google Docs restricted Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, the first doctor to advocate for alternative COVID-19 treatments, from sharing six different documents. Users received a terms of service note when the doctor tried to share the documents with them. “We're sorry. You can't access this item because it is in violation of our Terms of Service,” went the Google alert. It was unclear what rule was broken.

He wasn’t surprised by the restriction, noting, “I called out the globalist elite” for how they handled the pandemic.

[...]

Zelenko made news in 2020 when he recommended alternate treatments for COVID-19, including the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and antibiotics. He sent a letter to the White House about his experience treating patients and was also contacted by the Trump administration. 

Former President Donald Trump gave support to the doctor’s efforts last May, according to The Times of Israel. The president even took hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement. He explained, “I got a letter from a doctor the other day, from Westchester, New York,” who appeared to be Zelenko. “Trump did not name the doctor, but it matches the description of Jewish physician Vladimir ‘Zev’ Zelenko.”

But as we documented -- and Gainor deliberately omits -- Zelenko's claims about hydroxychloroquine were poorly documented to the point that they are effectively worthless as medical research, and no legitimate medical research has backed up Zelenko's original claims. Gainor also didn't mention that despite Trump's promotion of hydroxychloroquine, he was not treated with that drug when he himself fell ill with COVID -- he was treated with the experimental drug remdesivir.

Alexander Hall wrote the next day:

Christian author and radio host Eric Metaxas currently still has a YouTube channel, but the outspoken conservative said videos of his radio show have been removed from the platform.

YouTube purges are often outrageous, but are no surprise to conservative commentators. Metaxas tweeted that YouTube purged content from his channel June 1: “FINALLY... Youtube decided that because we violated their ‘community standards’ my show has been entirely kicked off their platform. In related news, the [Chinese Communist Party] CCP and the North Korean govt don't like our videos.”

Hall didn't mention that Metaxas has been moving further to the right over the past couple years, using racist language to demean Joe Biden and has pushed bogus election conspiracies. YouTube has pointed out that it "removed content that violated our policies on COVID-19 medical misinformation and presidential election integrity." Hall didn't explain why a private business is not allowed to enforce its terms of service on users.

Kayla Sargent ranted in a June 21 post:

YouTube has reportedly struck down yet another video of a school board meeting for violating its policies on misinformation. 

The platform reportedly took down a video from the Shawnee Mission School Board in Kansas City, Kansas for “spreading medical misinformation and violating YouTube's community guidelines,” according to NPR. “School board president Heather Ousley says having the broadcast taken down was a surprise.” 

One person, who NPR identified as Kansas State Senator Mike Thompson (R), said “I'm about six feet tall. Saying that this mask is going to block the virus is like saying, I can't walk through a doorway 6,000 feet tall and 2,000 feet wide.” YouTube did not respond to a request from MRC Free Speech America to confirm the video’s removal. NPR went on to say that Thomphson’s statement “just isn't true,” but provided no evidence for the claim.

Sargent provided no evidence that Thompson's claim is medically accurate. She also omitted the fact that, according to a news report, parents at that meeting made discredited claims that masks cause hypoxia -- a dangerous decrease in oxygen levels -- and that they are ineffective at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Hall took the side of a right-wing authoritarian leader in a July 22 post:

Big Tech platform YouTube has censored yet another head of state for the unforgivable: He dared to question the liberal narrative concerning COVID-19.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has reportedly been punished by YouTube for sharing his opinions as a head of state regarding COVID-19. “YouTube removed videos from President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil on Wednesday for spreading misinformation about Covid-19, becoming the latest internet platform to act against a leader,” The New York Times reported. The Timesillustrated for readers that YouTube “played an important role in Mr. Bolsonaro’s rise to power” and is reportedly “more widely watched in Brazil than all but one television channel.”

[...]

Unfortunately for people under the grip of Big Tech, the question of which drugs are effective to treat COVID-19 has become extremely politicized, with only a narrow range of opinions allowed. YouTube, for example, is not the only platform to purge users for speculating over the viability of using hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

But YouTube is not the one that made treatments "extremely politicized" -- right-wingers like Trump and the MRC did. And Hall offers no credible scientific evidence that hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin are effective treatments for COVID. And all his partisan ranting aside, Hall also offers no evidence that YouTube is trying to do anything other than get reliable health information out there when there is so much unreliable information that may be getting people killed.

Hall grumbled the next day:

History is, well, history. Facebook allegedly purged British historian/filmmaker Tom Rowsell and his wife without warning. Celebrating history apparently has consequences.

It’s not just a fight for free speech anymore. Big Tech has now appeared to target the very ability of honest academics to earn a living online. “My wife and I both just had our [F]acebook pages deleted without warning, or reason given nor is there an option to appeal,” Rowsell said via his Patreon account. “There was nothing on there that went against their community standards. The page had no strikes at all. They have given up all pretence of reason, and are just unpersoning people without reason.”

Rowsell’s channel, Survive the Jive, named for rejecting the loss of history amid a technological age, has approximately 139,000 subscribers. He described his channel in the description of his introductory video as a project that focuses on the “religions of ancient Europe” and examines the “linguistics, genetics, anthropology and other disciplines in order to gain insights into ancient peoples.”

He explained to MRC Free Speech America: “The page was very helpful for me to raise awareness of my video content and was therefore part of my business.” He then clarified: “It had no community strikes or objectionable content on it.”

Again, Hall is censoring (!) crucial context. Rowsell is a far-right activist who has been involved in the UK branch of Generation Identity, a far-right youth movement that anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim (the French division of the group was banned in the country for inciting violence). Rowsell attended a recent Generation Identity UK conference and invited two neo-Nazi skinheads to join him.

So he's not the benign history professor Hall portrayed him as. Anyone surprised that Hall censored the truth (again)?


Posted by Terry K. at 9:41 PM EDT
CNS' Hot Pestering Intern Summer, Round 5
Topic: CNSNews.com

The fifth round of CNSNews.com's ambush questions to members of Congress was a follow-up to its previous question on COVID vaccines -- and an attempt to reinforce a new MRC narrative.

The question du jour was "Should the Biden Administration work with Facebook to suppress postings it considers vaccine misinformation?" The idea that misinformation is not an objectively defined thing but what someone "considers" it to be is the MRC's current narrative to deflect responsibility from its fellow right-wingers for spreading misinformation because it wants to attack social media platforms for "censorship" for holding (mostly right-wing) people accountable for spreading it (yet when it accused the "liberal media"of spreading misinformation, it's never couched in such mitigating terms).

A follow-up question some senators got was "whether there are any other types of speech the administration should work with Facebook to suppress" -- another narrative-driven question that presumes a constitutional right to lie and mislead, that lying and misleading are "free speech," and that social platforms aren't private businesses that have no right to enforce terms of service on their users.

The list of senatorial victims this time around :

Is teaching interns to pester politicians with politically loaded gotcha questions really "journalism"? CNS seems to think so -- but its heavy bias shows it's not interested in producing journalism.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:37 PM EDT
Saturday, August 7, 2021
MRC's Whitlock Serves Up Even More Hypocrisy on Corporate Whoring
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Scott Whitlock is so filled with hate for any non-right-wing news operation that he disgustingly smears them as "WHORES" (his all-caps, not ours) for engaging in the common practice of offering promotion of other events or programs tied to corporate parents -- even though the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, routinely treats corportate MRC doings as "news." Whitlock did this again in a July 8 post under the headline "Corporate WHORES at ABC Abandon News, Shill for Disney Overlords Instead" (bold in original):

Some liberal journalists and media outlets like to mock Fox as not real “news,” given that the network doesn’t parrot their left-wing agenda. But no one should ever consider ABC actual “news.” The network is committed to producing propaganda for corporate overlord Disney. Thursday showcased yet another pathetic example as Good Morning America devoted more time to pushing Black Widow than covering the latest on the Surfside disaster in Florida.

Co-host Robin Roberts sounded like a talking Disney press release, opening the 7:30 hour by robotically cheering, “Black Widow finally hitting theaters tomorrow. It is one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of the summer! Fandango reporting that the Marvel movie has already zoomed past F9 in presales!”

Whitlock's reference to Fox News is interesting, since its parent companhy not only owns Fox Broadcasting but also owned 20th Century Fox studios until 2019. Is Whitlock really saying that Fox News has never engaged in the corporate synergy process to use Fox News to promote Fox Broadcasting shows or 20th Century Fox movies? It would be highly unusual if that didn't happen and would display a demonstration of ethics that Fox News is not known for.

Meanwhile, we've documented how -- just a few days after Whitlock's post -- the MRC turned its main websites, including CNS, over to Mark Levin for a weekend of shilling for Levin's new book. One CNS headline had a particularly whorish tone to it: "EXCLUSIVE: MRC President Brent Bozell Interviews 'The Great One' Mark Levin on His Timely New Book, 'American Marxism'." Bozell and Levin are friends, making this whordom a very personal one.

Whitlock has been silent about this. Apparently he believes whordom is a good and virtuous thing when right-wingers engage in it.

UPDATE: Whitlock also wrote a July 30 post asserting that "ABC “News” seems to exist to shill for the network’s overlords at Disney" because one show "took their bosses side in the fight against Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson" regarding how the movie's simulatenous release in theaters and streaming violated her contract. Whitlock claimed that "ABC journalists repeatedly misrepresented how Disney+ harmed the box office totals," insisting that a movie that made $319 million "was not a hit." Whitlock concluded that ABC was engaged in -- you guessed it -- "corporate whoring for Disney bosses."

Curtis Houck joined the slur parade as well, declaring in a July 23 post that instead of covering Hunter Biden, there was "more corporate whoring on ABC’s Good Morning America for parent company Disney with a new Disney+ “cinematic experience”starring Billie Eilish."


Posted by Terry K. at 11:02 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 9, 2021 4:29 PM EDT
WND Columnist Attacks 'Fake News' Media, Forgets He Writes For WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Michael Brown complained in his July 12 column:

According to a recent survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports, "58% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat agree that the media are 'truly the enemy of the people,' including 34% who Strongly Agree."

If these statistics are accurate, this means that this extreme level of distrust cannot simply be blamed on former President Trump's rhetoric, from his calling the mainstream media "fake news" to referring to the media as "the enemy of the people." The distrust must go deeper than that.

[...]

As for Republican doubts about the reliability of the political news they are hearing, I would say the much higher numbers are due to: 1) the high percentage of mainstream news outlets that lean left; 2) Trump's incessant attacks on these outlets; 3) the amount of "fake news" that really is being propagated.

With regard to the second question, Nolte wrote, "When asked, 'how serious is the "fake news" problem in the media?' a WHOPPING 83 percent said very (55 percent) or somewhat (28 percent) serious. Only 14 percent said not very (9 percent) or not at all (5 percent) serious."

Again, the concern about "fake news" was bipartisan (92 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of Democrats agreed that fake news is either a very serious or somewhat serious problem), which also indicates the degree to which political news outlets in particular are known for being highly partisan themselves.

Just ask your average Republican if they trust CNN or your average Democrat if they trust Fox, and you're like to get the same answer from both, something like, "Are you kidding?"

Brown is feigning a lot of ignorance here. Right-wing hatred of the media didn't start with Trump -- he simply ratcheted it up to a new level. Right-wing orgs like the Media Research Center spend millions of dollars every year to reinforce the right-wing narrative that every non-right-wing media outlet is "liberal" and, thus, not trustworthy, conflating isolated incidents into blanket indictments.

Brown continued:

Again, I have no doubt that some of the mistrust and animosity toward political news outlets has been stoked by Trump. But it's also clear that he was not simply punching the air. Instead, he threw a match into a bucket of gasoline that was already there.

What this should mean to all of us who, in any way, report on the news is simple: We need to do our best to be as accurate and unbiased as we can be, making clear where the news stops and our opinions begin. And we need to encourage pushback and scrutiny and dialogue and debate.

Otherwise, we do everyone a disservice.

He does have a point there. What he won't do, however, is apply that standard to the main media outlet that publishes him, WND. We've repeatedly caught WND publishing fake news and misinformation. What has Brown ever said about that? What has he done to steer WND in the correct direction? Nothing that we know of.

If Brown won't hold the outlets that publish him responsible for the accuracy of their reportage, his words are hollow, and he's just parroting right-wing narratives.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:56 AM EDT
Friday, August 6, 2021
MRC Psaki-Bashing, Doocy-Fluffing Watch, Full Man-Crush Edition
Topic: Media Research Center

Peter Doocy had the previous week off, so the Media Reserarch Center's Curtis Houck was not able to man-crush over him at Jen Psaki's White House press briefings. So with Doocy's return on July 12, Houck was ready to go into man-crush overdrive:

With Cubans having taken to the street over the weekend to protest the 62 years of communist rule that worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, AP and CNN White House reporters used Monday’s briefing to side with their friends in the Communist Party, and demand Press Secretary Jen Psaki blame former President Trump’s posture toward the island nation for its economic ruin.

Fortunately, Fox News’s Peter Doocy returned from a week off to call out the spin that the protests stemmed from coronavirus cases while the Daily Caller’s Shelby Talcott asked whether the administration agreed with The New York Times that the American flag — which Cubans waved as they marched — was “alienating the some.”

[...]

As for Doocy, he started with a back-and-forth about vaccine mandates (which left a flustered Psaki to sarcastically tell him, “welcome back”), but pivoted to Cuba and specifically the disconnect between Psaki claiming Cubans were upset with their government and the State Department blaming it on COVID cases.

Psaki tried to engage in damage control, but Doocy called out the insanity in claiming the Cubans protesting “freedom” and “enough” were demanding liberation from the coronavirus[.]

Of course, Houck was lying when he claimed reporteres were siding with "Communist Cuba," but the MRC is cool with any besmirching of the "liberal media," now matter how fanciful.

Houck's man-crushing continued on July 14:

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy went toe-to-toe with Press Secretary Jen Psaki during Wednesday’s briefing, challenging her on the hypocrisy surrounding Texas Democrats fleeing the state over proposed voter integrity measures and the administration’s refusal to denounce the evils of communism that have ravaged the Cuban people for 62 years.

While Doocy actually did his job as a reporter to challenge those in power, others in the room pushed the White House not out of accountability, but from the left to help allies will policy proposals into existence.

Once again, Houck covered up the fact that Psaki actually owned Doocy, writing of a Doocy questionabout Democratic Texas lawmakers leaving the state to stall a Republican-pushed voting restriction bill that "Doocy called out Psaki’s humorous dismissal, noting Biden’s eye-popping assertion that voter integrity measures pose the greatest threat to American democracy 'since the Civil War.'"IN fact, as a more honest outlet pointed out, Psaki did not make a "humorous dismissal" of Doocy's question:

She went on to say the president believes these Democrats “were making a statement through action in opposition to efforts in their state to oppose restrictions on people’s fundamental rights and their rights to vote in their state.”

He “certainly applauds their actions and their outspoken opposition to efforts to put in place restrictive measures in their state,” Psaki added.

“And maybe it is funny to think about it that way, but the president is talking about this as the most serious assault on democracy…” Doocy started to say.

Psaki jumped in to remark, “I don’t think anything about this is funny.”

The next day, Houck cheered even more hostile questions from Doocy designed to push right-wing narratives:

Three days after first asking her if the administration would condemn communism and the far-left ideology’s gruesome affect on life inside Cuba, Fox News’s Peter Doocy finally got White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki to condemn on Thursday both communism and demand the regime grant “freedom” to the Cuban people.

And, on another matter, Doocy pressed Psaki on the Biden administration inviting the United Nations Human Rights Council (which included oppressive regimes such as China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, and Venezuela) to examine the U.S. government and trash it as repulsive and systematically racist.

On July 16, Houck gushed that another right-wing reporter joined Doocy in attacking Psaki (while making sure not to point out they are right-wing reporters) under the overexcited headline "BOOM":

Friday’s White House press briefing grew tense as the Biden administration continued its collusion with Facebook and the rest of Big Tech to crack down on dissent (under the guise of fighting misinformation about coronavirus vaccines). 

As usual, Fox News’s Peter Doocy and Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann were the rare voices to raise concerns as they inquired about whether it could be seen as “spying on people’s Facebook profiles,” how long this partnership has been going on, and if there are any safeguards to protect speech.

Doocy set Press Secretary Jen Psaki up by leading with a question about China’s lack of cooperation into the origins of the coronavirus, citing one Chinese conspiracy theory that the virus came from smuggled in “frozen food.”

After Psaki said the administration is “concerned...about misinformation” from China, Doocy used that as a springboard to the federal government’s work with social media platforms: “[S]peaking of misinformation and the announcement from yesterday, for how long has the administration been spying on people's Facebook profiles looking for vaccine misinformation?”

Psaki immediately became disgusted, telling Doocy he had offered up “quite a loaded and inaccurate question, which I would refute.”

Yes, Houck thinks that spreading lies and misinformation about vaccines is merely "dissent" and that calling it what it is -- misinformation -- is a political term, not a statement of fact (as is the current MRC narrative).

Houck then proceeded to further denigrate Psaki, claiming she engaging in "word salad" and "gaslighting," two things he had no problem with when his beloved Kayleigh McEnany was doing them. Apparently still missing her, he went on to name-check her: "Exit question: If this were still the Trump administration with Kayleigh McEnany at the podium saying these things, what would the chances have been that everyone from Yamiche Alcindor to Jim Acosta to Peter Alexander to Brian Karem to April Ryan would have blown a collective gasket?"

And what are the chances McEnany would also be serving up "word salad" and "gaslighting" in response, and Houck would say nothing?

UPDATE: Houck engaged in more Doocy stenography in his July 16 post, touting that "Doocy pushed back on Psaki’s claim that the posts are 'publicly open information' and thus fair game, asking whether the 12 people the administration believes hold the lion’s share of blame for misinformation have been told that the government is surveying them." The Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed out that Doocy was wrong to portray the government as spying on these people. In May, the Center for Countering Digital Hate issued a list of 12 people it found to be responsible for a majority of disinformation about vaccines, which were all taken from publicly available posts. Blake continued:

Nor did anything in Psaki’s comments Thursday suggest that this was from some kind of government study or research project. But Doocy jumped from her stat to not just assuming that it was, but also that this amounted to “spying” and that the “spying” was specifically done by the surgeon general’s office (perhaps because Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy appeared with Psaki on Thursday?).

This continues a long-standing, often tortured search on Fox for government spying on their allies.

[...]

Doocy’s claim that the stat Psaki cited was proof of yet more supposed spying is just nonsensical, as he might have found had he done even the slightest bit of due diligence. But at least another spying conspiracy theory that can be turned into cable news segments has now been seeded.

Houck will never admit any of this, of course -- the man-crush must continue unencumbered by the facts.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:41 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 20, 2021 4:24 PM EDT
Fake News: WND Hyped Alleged Transgender Spa Incident That Appears To Have Been A Hoax
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily knows a hot-button rioght-wing issue when it sees one, as demonstrated in a June 28 article by Art Moore:

A heated confrontation at a popular upscale Los Angeles spa captured on a viral video illustrates the problem with males who "identify" as female -- while maintaining their God-given private parts -- using facilities designated for women.

An irate woman is heard on the video demanding to know why a man was allowed to walk around naked in an area reserved for females, including little girls, BizPacReview reported

The response of the front-desk employee she confronted is muffled, but he apparently made a reference to sexual orientation.

"What sexual orientation?" the woman fires back. "I see a d***. That lets me know he’s a man ... he is not a female."

Pointing out that other women were highly offended and traumatized as well, she demanded to know the company policy.

“So Wi Spa is in agreement with men that just say they are women, and they can go down there with their penis, and get into the women’s section? Is that what you’re saying?" she asks.

[...]

The woman drew widespread praise on social media.

Well done to that brave woman," said one Twitter user. "She didn’t just stand up for herself, she stood up for all women. Shame on these men who think it’s in their gift to give dictate and erase the boundaries of women and girls."

WND followed up with a July 4 article from the fringe-right Western Journal touting protests against the spa over the alleged incident that were joined by "antifa-related groups" (but made no mention of the fct that the anti-spa protesters included Proud Boys thugs). WND also stole -- er, republished a July 18 article from Fox News highlighting how "Protesters and counter-protesters descended on a Korean spa in Los Angeles that became the latest culture war flashpoint just weeks ago when a customer complained that a transgender woman allegedly disrobed in the women's area."

Just one problem with this story: The incident appears to have been a staged hoax. The Los Angeles Blade reported that the appointment-only spa said that none of its usual transgender clients were scheduled that day, and noted other evidence:

Several other factors cast doubt on the veracity of the claims in the video. Cubaangel’s Instagram account is almost exclusively Christian memes, which begs the question why she chose to go to a spa well known for being LGBTQ friendly. During Cubaangel’s video, no transgender person can be seen, and no other witnesses have come forward to confirm the allegations made. It’s also not the first time Wi Spa has been targeted for catering to transgender people. After the alleged, unconfirmed incident, Wi Spa was deluged with 1-star Yelp! and Trip Advisor reviews.

It also remains a possibility that there was a person, unknown to the Wi Spa staff, who pretended to be transgender to create an inciting incident. In 2015, anti-transgender activists in Washington State deliberately encouraged men to enter women’s facilities.

There's more to this story -- but WND doesn't want to know. Thus, it has allowed apparently fake news to remain uncorrected.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 6, 2021 2:32 PM EDT
CNS Still Promoting GOP Rep. Boebert, Hiding Her Extremism
Topic: CNSNews.com

Craig Bannister gushed in a June 29 CNSNews.com article:

The more Democrats threaten to deprive Americans of their Second Amendment rights, the more Americans will buy guns, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said Monday in a speech on the House floor.

The congresswoman began by sarcastically “thanking” Democrats for fueling the sale of firearms in the U.S., attributing purchases to Democrats’ tolerance of violence and “threats to strip away our basic constitutional rights”:

[...]

“So, my colleagues from the other side, they can keep running our mouths and we will keep adding to our arsenals,” Rep. Boebert concluded.

CNS just loves Boebert -- and as with fellow far-right Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, it also loves to hide her extremism and controversies. So you won't read about any of the following at CNS that happened over the past month or so:

  • Boebert calling people who would come door-to-door to vaccinate people against COVID "needle Nazis."
  • A prominent Republican women's group rejecting both Boebert and Greene as "carnival barkers."
  • Boebert rudely throwing a mask at a staffer who asked her to wear one in order to adhere to a new masking mandate on the House floor.
  • Revelations of a mysterious late-night tour of the Capitol that Boebert gave to family members in December, three weeks before she was sworn in as a representative and about three and a half weeks before the Jan. 8 Capitol riot.

But if Boebert again says something clickbait-y that advances CNS' right-wing narratives, CNS will undoubtedly be all over it.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:50 AM EDT
Thursday, August 5, 2021
MRC Rages At Jill Biden For Being On Vogue Cover
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center is looking for any reason, no matter how lame, to attack Jill Biden. Before the election, for instance, the MRC tried to make a huge deal out of her breaking up her first marriage nearly 50 years ago to be with Joe Biden -- while never disapproving of Donald Trump's multiple marriages and infidelities.

The MRC seems to be weirdly offended that the Bidens actually love each other, something there was little evidence of with Donald and Melania Trump (whom the MRC can't stop defending). In February, Tim Graham whined that the Bidens got a "puffball" interview from People for Valentine's Day (does Graham think People does any other kind?), and P.J. Gladnick complained that Politico "presented a politically weaponized Valentine to Jill and Joe Biden, appropriately on Valentine's Day" that "went full gush over the couple's "PDA" (Public Displays of Affection) that many would object to." Only the MRC would complain that it's offensive for a non-conservative couple to demonstrate affection for each other in public (not like we saw any of that from the Trumps).

Tierin-Rose Mandelburg raged against Jill wearing a scrunchie in her hair while picking up a Valentine's gift for her husband and was offended that anyone would think of her as relatable: "She’s the First Lady of the United States. She is probably the least relatable person unless you’ve been a First Lady yourself. Her and Joe’s net worth is like $9 million. #relatable." The rant continued: "Does a normal/relatable person casually spend over $100 on cupcakes and macaroons? Does a normal person have a Secret Service squad accompany them to a bakery? Does a relatable person have a quality camera man follow them around to take pictures of them picking up pastries?" A couple days later, Duncan Schroeder picked up the scrunchie-hating baton, huffing that "While the liberal media nastily smeared Melania Trump by reducing her to being “arm candy” and a “trophy wife,” it has nothing but praise for Jill Biden."

And Graham returned to complain: "The Bidens may be great lovers. But everything at White House level has a large degree of calculation in it. Everyone should know the gushing liberal newspapers and magazines are aggressively engaged in the politics of humanization." He also tried for a calculated defense of Melania, insisting that she "began her tenure as First Lady behind the Eight ball. First, the liberal media always adores First Ladies who are Ivy League-educated lawyers or career educators, not just – ick – wives. Second, Melania Trump’s beauty was deployed against her: she was seen as 'arm candy,' a 'trophy wife.' She resisted any attempt at public affection for the cameras."

So when Vogue did a cover story on Jill Biden at the end of June, it was a full-on knives-out event for the MRC. Scott Whitlock ranted:

If you’re a Democratic First Lady, you can expect lots of puff pieces from outlets like ABC’s Good Morning America andVoguemagazine. If you’re a Republican? Not as much. GMA journalists on Tuesday gushed over Jill Biden appearing on Vogue for the first time, hailing the “inspiration.”

ABC reporter Janai Norman sounded like she was a PR rep for the Democrat, fawning, “Dr. Jill Biden, the First Lady who is also a former second lady, a current professor who is sometimes called Dr. B. But according to Vogue, in informal settings she'll say to call her Jill.”

[...]

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is a long-time Democratic donor, so we can consider this a donation.

Just like we can consider Whitlock's hit job a Republican donation?

Because a Biden could be trashed, Graham trotted out another column:

The cover story comes with a bunch of pretty, posed pictures -- of Jill Biden, and Jill with Joe, and Jill with precious Biden grandchildren -- all by star photographer Annie Leibovitz. Some have designer captions: “Dr. Biden wears a Michael Kors Collection sweater and skirt.”

Troubling family topics – like Hunter Biden and his infernal laptop – are all airbrushed out.

[...]

There was no Vogue cover story for Melania Trump. Three years ago, Vogue instead was celebrating porn star Stormy Daniels (complete with posed, pretty Annie Leibovitz portraits) as a “catalyst of historic proportions,” destined to ruin the Trumps.

These sticky valentines underline that overall, journalists shouldn’t boast it’s their job to ask tough questions and hold powerful people accountable. Because they seem to do that about half the time. That’s the spin when the Democrats they supported didn’t win. 

Graham didn't mention that Melania already appeared on the cover of Vogue -- in 2005, when she married Donald Trump, and it gushed over her ostentatious $100,000 wedding dress. Ane we see once again Graham denigrating a woman for having an affair with Trump, another utter hypocrisy at the MRC.

A July 3 column by Jeffrey Lord rehashed all the right-wing talking points -- Wintour likes Democrats, Melania wasn't on the cover -- bizarrely called Vogue "corrupt," then whined: "Under the guise of being a so-called “women’s magazine” Vogue  is not about “women” or style or beauty or anything else. It is, like so many other  American institutions that pretend to be about one thing, in fact about something else entirely. In reality Vogue is about a celebration of all things progressive. ... The Vogue< cover of Jill Biden is nothing if not a reminder of the game being played. And millions of Americans are now onto the game. The Devil may indeed wear Prada. But it is also very safe to say the Devil wears Liberalism on her sleeve — and her magazine covers."

UPDATE: We forgot to note that in March, Graham tried to revive the Jill-cheated story -- but he too apparently has no problem with Trump's multiple marriages and infidelities, so he looks like a hypocrite in doing so.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:12 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, August 5, 2021 11:45 PM EDT
WND Embraces Anti-Google Researcher's Dubious Work
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've documented how the Media Research Center embraced Robert Epstein as a legitimate critic of Google -- specifically for his claim that Google built bias into its search engine to influence voters in favor of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election -- despite his shoddy research (extrapolating a mere 21 undecided voters). Now, WorldNetDaily has fully embraced Epstein's anti-Google sentiments. Art Moore interviewd him for a July 6 article, which weirdly started out by his taking credit for supposedly not being any search bias for Georgia Senate elections:

After finding that Google's search-engine manipulation in the 2020 election could have shifted a minimum of 6 million votes to Democrat Joe Biden, Harvard-trained research psychologist and Democratic voter Robert Epstein turned his sights to the Georgia Senate elections.

For the first time -- after having monitored three national elections -- he said in an interview with WND that his growing team of field agents found no political bias in Google's search results.

But Epstein believes that's a direct result of his monitoring efforts, and he plans to exponentially expand them.

Actually, Epstein's claim that millions of votes were moved by Google in the 2020 presidential election is disproven by the election itself, as the Washington Post's Philip Bump noted: "Of course, the idea that people primarily base their decisions on what they learn from Googling candidates — particularly at the presidential level — is dismissible on its face. President Biden got a record level of support from Democrats even as Trump earned near-universal support from Republicans. Which of them was influenced by his or her search results?" Also, no evidence was presented to back up that claim, with Epstein himself apparently conceding the speculative nature of it by having WND say it "could have" happened.

Moore gave Epstein space to push his allegedly liberal-leaning bona fides, claiming that "He emphasized to WND he is not a Trump supporter but a "supporter of democracy." He wanted Joe Biden to win, but wanted the election to be fair, recognizing that in the future the tech giants could put their massive power behind a candidate who is not of his choice." Moore also rehashed Epstein's defense of his earlier work by insisting that tht results "were based on an analysis of 13,207 election-related searches, along with the 98,044 web pages to which the search results linked" -- which still doesn't make up for the fact that  the research was based on the work of 95 people, 21 of whom were undecided, and that his conclusions were based on how those 21 undecided voters reacted.

WND editor Joseph Farah touted Epstein again in his July 30 column:

Did you know that Google and Facebook have the power to throw elections?

Robert Epstein, a Harvard Ph.D. in psychology, has long studied Big Tech and its ability to swing massive numbers of votes.

In conjunction with the apolitical, nonpartisan American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology, Epstein has watched carefully Big Tech's involvement with U.S. elections since 2016.

Stop right there. There's no evidence that Epstein's  AIBRT is "apolitica" or "nonpartisan" -- indeed, it appears that Epstein is quite partisan given how much he caters to right-wing media with his research and wild anti-Google bias. Farah continued to be a reliable Epstein messenger:

You may recall what happened in the election for 2016. That was the year Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton. Trump didn't have tens of millions of Twitter followers then. He didn't get any help from Big Tech that year. But Hillary did. At least 6 million votes – a combination of illegal ballots and manipulated data. But it still wasn't enough for Hillary.

Then came the next election – in 2018. Epstein estimated that Google and Facebook were in a position to turn about 12 million votes due to their overwhelming pro-Democrat bias demonstrated in their virtual monopoly dominance of search and social media platforms. That was the year Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House.

But 2016 and 2018 were probably rigged elections, according to Epstein's projections.

Of course, that's all speculative extrapolation -- Epstein has no proof that 1) Google searches were definitively biased, 2) they were so biased they caused any voter to change his or her vote, or 3) that so many votes were changed to make those elections "rigged."

Epstein is saying what Farah and WND want to hear, and Farah and Moore are lapping it up.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:23 PM EDT
NEW ARTICLE: The MRC's War on Jen Psaki (And Man-Crush On Peter Doocy), Part 3
Topic: Media Research Center
In April, the Media Research Center's Curtis Houck crushed harder (on Fox News' Doocy) and raged more viciously (against Psaki) than ever in his writeups of Psaki's White House press briefings. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 PM EDT

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