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Sunday, December 12, 2021
CNS Kept Pushing False Right-Wing Narrative About School Board Threats
Topic: CNSNews.com

We've documented how CNSNews.com followed in the footsteps of its Media Research Center parent and embraced the false right-wing narrative that school boards and the Department of Justice are seeking to brand as "domestic terrorists" all parents who speak out at school board meetings about right-wing hot-button issues as critical race theory and LGBT rights. Since this was largely done for the purpose of getting Republican Glenn Youngkin elected as Virginia governor, CNS continued plugging that storyline through the Nov. 2 election.

An Oct. 11 article by Megan Williams hyped a right-wing senator pushing the false narrative on the show of CNS' favorite right-wing media presence:

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) slammed the Biden Administration for ignoring the “violent crime surge across our country,” and instead working “to shut down parents from speaking” out about critical race theory on Sunday's "Life, Liberty & Levin."

"This is about using federal law enforcement to try and intimidate parents because these parents are daring to stand up and criticize critical race theory," Hawley said, referencing a letter sent by Attorney General Merrick Garland to the FBI on Monday, Oct. 4.

Melanie Arter gave right-wing drama over the issue prominence in an Oct. 21 article about Attorney  General Merrick Garland testifying before Congress:

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that the DOJ “supports and defends the 1st Amendment rights of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in their schools.”

During a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Justice Department, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) questioned the attorney general about an Oct. 4 press release addressing “violent threats against school officials and teachers.”

Chabot began by asking Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) for “unanimous consent” to enter into the record “an op-ed that appeared in last week’s Wall Street Journal by the author of the Patriot Act, Mr. Sensensbrenner, former chairman of this committee, entitled ‘The Patriot Act Wasn’t Meant to Target Parents.’” 

Another Arter article the same day on that hearing pushed a related distraction in order to attack Garland: "Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) grilled Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday about whether he sought ethics counsel before issuing a memo responding to the National School Board Association’s request for the DOJ to address threats and violence from parents upset about critical race theory being added to school curriculum. During a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, Johnson pointed out that Garland’s son-in-law co-founded a company that publishes and sells critical race theory to schools nationwide."

An Oct. 27 article by Susan Jones featured more testimony from Garland at a different hearing, while also making sure to give the false narrative prominence:

Critics of the memo -- including many parents, Republican politicians, and even some local school boards -- say the memo is intended to chill the speech of furious parents who may fear a knock on the door from the FBI after speaking at a school board meeting.

Garland said that his memo makes clear in the first paragraph that "spirited debate on policy matters is protected under our Constitution."  That includes criticism of school boards, he said.

Garland refused several times to say whether he considered the "chilling effect" his memorandum would have.

The National School Boards Association has now apologized for some of the language used in its letter to the Biden administration, including characterizing upset parents as potential domestic terrorists.

Jones provided no evidence that these "critics" were correct in assuming that all parents were being targeted simply for speaking out. Nor did she orthe other CNS writers explain why law enforcement is not allowed to be proactive and must wait until violence against a school member acually occurs before taking action against violent threats.

An article that same day by managing editror Michael W. Chapman pushed the false narrative in hyping criticism of the school board that originally sought help from Garland:

Although the National School Boards Association (NSBA) apologized for labeling parents concerned about left-wing curricula as potential domestic terrorists, the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) has dropped its membership in the NSBA, asserting that it rejects "the labeling of parents as domestic terrorists."

In an Oct. 25 letter to the executive director and the president of the NSBA, the Ohio association wrote that its "decision to terminate membership and affiliation with the NSBA Association is a direct result of the letter sent by you to President Joe Biden late last month."

[...]

Many parents nationwide have attended local school board meetings over the last year to complain -- often loudly -- about COVID restrictions, such as mask wearing, as well as the introduction of sexually explicit books and other materials in the classroom, including the teaching of Critical Race Theory, which posits that the United States is inherently racist and white people (or Europeans) are the enemy. 

In fact, an MRC fact-check admitted that the HSBA letter never actually calls all parents "domestic terrorists" merely for speaking out. But because right-wing activists decided that a link was "suggested" -- again, never explicitly stated -- it's a talking point to nitpick the letter and Garland's response. Which is the rationale documented in an Oct. 28 article by Jones:

Attorney General Merrick Garland's Oct. 4 memo states, "There has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff." Yet neither Garland nor his Justice Department looked into the alleged parental threats raised by the National School Boards Association.

Under sharp questioning from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he didn't know how many incidents were cited in equating angry parents with domestic terrorists.

Nor did he know how many of those incidents might qualify as violent.

Again, neither Jones nor Cruz explained that the narrative is a lie or why law enforcement is not allowed to be proactive.

Ellie Wittman of the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom repeated the false narrative in an Oct. 29 commentary: "On top of all that, the Department of Justice is essentially treating parents as 'domestic terrorists' by directing the FBI to investigate them in what seems an attempt to intimidate them into silence."

Jones used a Nov. 2 article to uncritically quote Sen. Mitch McConnell claiming that Garland "just wrote an entire memo singling out concerned parents who speak up at their local school board meetings. Arter similarly uncritically quoted Republican Rep. Rob Wittman advancing the false narrative:

“And when they see a letter from the National School Board Association that asks the attorney general of the United States to go after parents who speak out at school board meetings under the Patriot Act and to be treated as terrorists, let me tell you folks, they are deeply concerned about that, and then when the attorney general follows suit and goes to the federal law enforcement agencies and says, by the way, look at these parents and what they’re doing at these school board meetings, what they are practicing their 1st Amendment rights to speak out and to demand that their school systems reflect what’s best for their children,” he said.

Craig Bannister served up his own version of the false narrative in a Dec. 8 article:

Since the National School Board Association (NSBA) sent a letter asking the Justice Department, FBI and Secret Service to treat parents protesting radical school policies as domestic terrorists, 17 state school board associations have left – and stopped funding – the NSBA.

[...]

To combat parents’ objections to its policies at school board meetings, the NSBA sent a letter to the DOJ, DHS, FBI and Secret Service asking them to treat parents’ protests “as a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

That portrayal is a lie, and Bannister knows it -- which is why he selectively quoted the letter (and why he did not directly link to a copy of the letter but to an Axios article about the NSBA's loss of funding). In fact, as documented in another Axios article, the letter itself (removed from the NSBA website) listed numerous examples of violence, harassment and intimidation, adding that the "classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."

That sums up the dishonesty with which CNS has treated this issue.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:44 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, December 12, 2021 11:59 AM EST
Saturday, December 11, 2021
MRC Complains Again That Criticism Of Soros Is Called Anti-Semitic
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Brad Wilmouth complained in an Oct. 22 post:

On Wednesday morning, there was night a day difference in the way MSNBC and Fox News covered the gubernatorial race in Virginia as Morning Joe bolstered Democratic candidate and ex-Governor Terry McAuliffe as he attacked Republican Glenn Youngkin. Joe Scarborough even went so far as to compare the GOP nominee to an "illiberal tyrant" who is using "anti-Semitism" in his campaign.

[...]

After McAuliffe accused Youngkin of having a "tinfoil hat" for invoking wealthy liberal activist George Soros, it was Scarborough who went even further than his Democratic guest in accusing the Virginia Republican of anti-Semitism:

If he's talking about George Soros, that's the sort of anti-Semitism we see in the United States and across the world. That's what -- that's what illiberal tyrants like (Viktor) Orban do in Hungary. They just lie about a Jew  -- they pick a Jew out -- George Soros is that Jew -- and so he's -- he's -- he's playing that old anti-Semitic trope as well.

Wilmouth didn't respond to Scarborough's criticism -- he simply complained that it was said. But he also didn't mention that the MRC itself has attacked Soros by invoking anti-Semitic tropes like "puppet master," -- which follows in the footsteps of the overall conservative movement in doing the same -- and has even gone throughgreat pains to establish that Soros is a Jew that conservatives are permitted to hate.

The MRC has previously praised Orban for supporting "free speech" in the form of criticizing "big tech" over purported "censorship" of right-wingers, even though Orban has a history of suppressing free speech by cracking down on dissent of his regime.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:51 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, December 11, 2021 12:29 PM EST
WND Peddles 'Charlottesville Lie' Lie Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Art Moore clung to the "Charlottesville lie" lie in an Oct. 29 WorldNetDaily article:

The Republicans who formed the Lincoln Project based on their virulent opposition to Donald Trump repeated on Friday the false "very fine" people claim against the former president when the group took responsibility for a bizarre racial stunt at a campaign stop in Charlottesville, Virginia, by Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

After suspicion was raised that the campaign of Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe was behind it, the Lincoln Project took credit for sending five people in white shirts to stand in front of Youngkin's campaign bus holding tiki torches in the style of the 2017 protest in Charlottesville.

In a statement, the Lincoln Project said the demonstration "was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it."

The Lincoln Project pressed Youngkin to denounce Trump for a statement that he did not make.

"We will continue to hold Glenn Youngkin accountable. If he will denounce Trump’s assertion that the Charlottesville rioters possessed ‘very fine’ qualities, we’ll withdraw the tiki torches," the group said. "Until then, we’ll be back."

In fact, during his remarks on Charlottesville four years ago, Trump immediately made it clear he was not referring to "the neo-Nazis and white nationalists" as "fine" people, explicitly declaring "they should be condemned totally."

His reference – as a CNN contributor pointed out in a rebuke to his network colleagues – was to the people on both sides of the issue of whether or not to maintain statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate figures.

But as we've documented, the group that organized the rally, American Warrior Revolution, considers itself a militia and later effectively blaming liberal counterprotester Heather Heyer for her own death in getting mowed down by a car driven by white supremacist James Fields Jr.

That continued embrace of a false narrative is the sort of thing that inspires confidence in WND's ability to report fairly and accurately.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:09 AM EST
Friday, December 10, 2021
Rerun: MRC Recycles A Previous Post Whining About Conservatives Being 'Censored'
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center loved whining about conservatives being "censored" so much, it did so again a few weeks later. Alec Schemmel -- who wrote the original Sept. 21 post -- got help from DanGainor for an Oct. 12 post:

Big Tech censorship didn’t just repeatedly restrict and finally ban President Donald Trump. Social media companies overwhelmingly censored Republican members of Congress by a rate of 54-to-1 compared to congressional Democrats, according to a new Media Research Center study.

That censorship was aimed at Republicans in both the House and Senate and was especially prevalent in stories about COVID-19 or the 2020 election. Twitter just underscored that point when it censored Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) for a tweet about natural immunity and vaccine mandates. These results were based on analysis by the MRC’s CensorTrack.org database team of the last two congressional delegations.

In his Sept. 21 post, Schemmel wrote that the radio was 53-to-1. He didn't explain how or why that number changed -- heck, he didn't even reference his earlier post at all. Nor did he offer any evidence that the CensorTrack database is in any way comprehensive -- its bias toward conservative "censorship" is obvious, and it's highly unlikely that MRC staff made any concerted effort to compile examples of Democrats being "censored."

Schemmel and Gainor rehashed the earlier post's trick of complaining that conservatives were being "censored" but being deliberately vague about the exact actions and words that prompted "Big Tech" action. For example they wrote "Facebook and Twitter used their censorship mechanisms at least 30 separate times against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), including five Twitter suspensions and the flagging of at least 24 tweets with some type of warning label" without mention the extremist behavior Greene exhibited that warranted her suspension (and which the MRC spent months hiding in order to bestow victimhood on her).

The duo even copied-and-pasted claims from the earlier post, like this: "Big Tech began labeling virtually everything being posted by former President Trump and his campaign around the 2020 election. Platforms dispensed one of several censorship labels used to challenge and suppress information. The former president was eventually universally deplatformed by Big Tech and is still fighting to return." Again, they remained silent on the nature of the Trump content that was "censored" -- because they know that Trump was spreading lies and conspiracy theories about election fraud, and that "big Tech" companies are private businesses who have the right to run their businesses the way the choose and to enforce terms of service that the "censored" conservatives agreed to abide by when signing up for their services.

We're not really sure why this post even exists. it's a total rehash of Schemmel's Sept. 21 post, adds nothing relevant to the conversation, and it's unclear what Gainor did to earn his co-byline. Since he is a VP at the MRC, maybe Gainor wanted the rehash so he could have something to stick his byline on.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:35 PM EST
WND Loves Nazi Insults Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Art Moore wrote in an Oct. 28 WorldNetDaily article:

Like the ACLU famously did in its legal defense of neo-Nazis who wanted to march in a Jewish-majority Chicago suburb 40 years ago, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Wednesday in a hearing defended the First Amendment right of a man to invoke a Nazi salute to express his view that school board members were acting like fascists.

In fact, in the Senate oversight hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland agreed with Cruz that the man's action was constitutionally protected.

Nevertheless, the Daily Beast was among many left-wing outlets that framed the exchange as "Ted Cruz Defends Parents Doing Nazi Salutes at School Board Meetings."

[...]

Cruz later tweeted:

Lefty journos are either (1) dishonest or (2) not very bright (or both).

The parent was doing the Nazi salute because he was calling the authoritarian school board Nazis—evil, bad & abusive.

We remember when WND switched from embracing Nazi comparisons when Barack Obama was president to deploring them when Donald Trump was president. Heck, WND managing editor David Kupelian is still complaining about Trump-Hitler comparisons, even though all those Obama-Nazi comparisons were published at WND under his watch.

Thanks, WND, for once again demonstrating your utter hypocrisy and lack of journalistic prinicples.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:01 PM EST
MRC Throws Transphobic Fit Over Candy Bar Ad
Topic: Media Research Center

Add a candy bar to the things the Media Research Center has been triggered by this year for not hating LGBT people. Gabriel Hays ranted in an Oct. 30 post:

Chocolate bar maker Mars, Inc., is definitely embracing the creepiness of the Halloween season. In their latest Twix ad – which hardly has anything to do with chocolate – the candy company featured a short story about a cross-dressing six-year-old, with the intent to promote more transgenderism and gender-fluid nonsense.

Sweet, huh?

In the ad, which is Halloween-themed enough for the season, a little boy wearing a dress opens the door to welcome his babysitter for the evening. In festive fashion, the boy’s babysitter just so happens to be a witch.

He initially closes the door on her, telling her he doesn’t need a nanny, but as soon as he returns to playing on the living room floor, the witch materializes next to him, insisting that his parents hired her because he needs some supervision.

Considering the boy is wearing a purple dress, our spooky babysitter might be onto something.

Though, as the two-minute-long ad progresses it’s clear that the witch is a cool witch. She’s totally fine with the dress-wearing boy. They’re shown doing arts and crafts together, and they talk about their favorite colors. The witch’s favorite colors are black and “charcoal.” 

Wow, that’s funny.

[...]

And not one second of this Halloween Twix ad featured a candy bar. It just wants to hammer home the message to other kids that you better affirm gender-fluid kids or you might die. 

Hays should perhaps ask himself why what a fictional child wears in a TV ad upsets him so much. Then again, is a serious transphobe, so his abject hatred may better left to a health care professional to sort out for him.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:04 PM EST
CNS Cheers U.S. Enemy Putin Attacking 'Woke' Culture In U.S.
Topic: CNSNews.com

For some reason, CNSNews.com just loves it when Russian leader Vladimir Putin sounds like a right-wing activist in America by embracing the right's anti-Biden, anti-liberal narratives -- despite the fact that he is, you know, an enemy of the United States. That happened again in an Oct. 26 article by Michael W. Chapman, who lovingly transcribed another Putin rant ... with added emphasis where needed:

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB, strongly criticized the "woke," social justice warriors in the United States and Europe, arguing that they behave just like the Bolshevik Communists did in the former Soviet Union. 

They are ruled by a "dogmatism bordering on absurdity," he asserted, noting that "cancel culture" is nothing more than "reverse discrimination," and teaching children that sexuality is flexible is potentially "a crime against humanity."

In his Oct. 22 speech in Sochi, Russia, before members of the Valdai Discussion Club, Putin addressed some of the major issues affecting the entire world, such as the COVID pandemic, climate change, technological advances, and socio-economic challenges. 

When it comes to change, however, Putin said he was surprised at the "social and cultural shocks that are taking place in the United States and Western Europe." He stressed that these changes are none of Russia's business, "we are keeping out of this," but explained that he had seen such disastrous social upheaval before -- in the Soviet Union.

[...]

"In a number of Western countries, the debate over men’s and women’s rights has turned into a perfect phantasmagoria. Look, beware of going where the Bolsheviks once planned to go – not only communalizing chickens, but also communalizing women. One more step and you will be there.

"Zealots of these new approaches even go so far as to want to abolish these concepts altogether. Anyone who dares mention that men and women actually exist, which is a biological fact, risk being ostracized. 'Parent number one' and 'parent number two,' 'birthing parent' instead of 'mother,' and 'human milk' replacing 'breastmilk' because it might upset the people who are unsure about their own gender.

"I repeat, this is nothing new; in the 1920s, the so-called Soviet Kulturtraegers also invented some newspeak believing they were creating a new consciousness and changing values that way. And, as I have already said, they made such a mess it still makes one shudder at times. [Emphasis added.]

Chapman didn't mention that the Valdai Discussion Club is little more than a pro-Putin think tank, meaning there's little actual "discussion" going on there.

It makes one shudder that the managing editor of a conservative "news" operation is favorably quoting a foreign dictator best known these days for suppressing dissent in his own country trashing the United States. But then, CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, has no problem embracing right-wing authoritarians if they parrot right-wing narratives.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:48 AM EST
Thursday, December 9, 2021
Epic Fail: MRC Tries To Discredit Study Naming It Among 'Toxic Ten' Climate Misinformers
Topic: Media Research Center

We've noted how the Media Research Center freaked out over a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate that placed it on a list of "Toxic Ten" right-wing operations responsible for much of the Facebook climate-denier content that gets a high amount of interaction -- but it couldn't be bothered to refute any of the claims the study made, let alone supply a link to the study itself so the MRC's readers could judge for themselves. It took nine days after its release for the MRC to actually respond to the report itself, in a Nov. 11 post by Heather Moon and Gabriela Pariseau. Their opening set up the nasty tone of the piece:

The leftist U.K.-based Center for Countering Digital Hate just launched a broadside attack against nine conservative digital outlets with its “Toxic Ten” report. The report aimed to silence entire outlets for writing stories that don’t follow the leftist climate policy narrative.

The hyperbolic report used data out of context to make it appear that users should care about 0.00012 percent of Facebook engagements in the last year. It also equated any discussion of eco-hypocrisy, data manipulation, George Soros or Marxist ideology in relation to climate policy to so-called “disinformation” that must be silenced. 

Such pro-censorship behavior would allow no room for legitimate debate over real issues.

As if Moon and Pariseau are interested in legitimate debate. The fact that they too refused to link to the report is further evidence of that. That was followed by even more attcks on the CCDH:

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), partly funded by a group with ties to communist China, had huge success in peddling its previous pro-censorship list. It highlighted what CCDH considered the top sources of so-called “disinformation” about vaccines, dubbed the “ Disinformation Dozen.” Then the organization turned its sights to online news media that occasionally cover the climate policy debate. 

The duo are referring to a CCDH report earlier this year on 12 mostly right-wing minformers about COVID vaccines. In a August post attacking Facebook for following CCDH recommendations, Autumn Johnson put "misinformation" in scare quotes, just like Moon and Pariseau are referring to "so-called 'disinformation'"-- part of the MRC's insistence that COVID misinformation is whatever someone thinks it is, not something that can be objectively defined.

Moon and Pariseau recycled old complaint about the CCDH report:

CCDH’s report lacked transparency and used questionable data from a biased source. Further, the method used to find so-called “disinformation” articles was full of prejudices.

The group claimed to analyze 6,983 “climate denial articles” for its study, but declined to provide a specific list of articles included. That’s a huge problem with research transparency. It only included the query that it used to find the articles, which raised multiple concerns.

The query was constructed to look only for articles that mention keywords related to climate change. It then also required the article have one or more keywords from a long list that the authors believe would indicate that it was an article questioning climate change. 

As we noted when Moon bashed another study for the same reason, the MRC frequently conducts "studies" that fail to make underlying data public about the subjective judgments it makes about the content being reviewed, so she has little room to complain about that.

They continued:

One of these was the word “realism,” as though anyone who wishes to debate what is and is not real about climate change is to be silenced. Another example are the words “hypocrite” or “hypocrisy.” Including those words shows that the authors consider any discussion of the excess use of carbon in private jets, large motorcades or enormous mansions by people pushing climate policy should be dismissed, demonetized and shut down.

The duo didn't mention that "climate realism" is actually a euphemism being used by right-wing anti-climate activists to soft-pedal their denialist views. Nor did they explain why attacking someone's alleged hypocrisy on climate issues is relevant to the debate.

They then tried to downplay significance of the report's finding that 69 percent of the Facebook interactions on climate-denial content comes from the "Toxic Ten" webistes:

CCDH does not provide a list of all of the posts evaluated for this study. It only provides a few examples in the report. Given the nature of the study, the logical conclusion is that most are linked posts. Linked posts generate a fraction of the engagement that other posts do. 

CCDH is exaggerating the significance of the climate posts in the overall scope of what happens on Facebook in order to peddle its own agenda that is toxic to free speech and open policy debate. Even a leftist reporter explained that its data on engagement with conservative sites and stories is overblown. Both his piece and an article by Western Journal explained that engagement metrics are an indicator of how controversial a post is rather than how many users are actually reading and being influenced by it.

The duo linked to a August post by Moon hyping that "A new Facebook report proved the @FacebooksTop10 daily list of 10 most-engaged link posts each day is wildly misleading, given that posts with the most views got far more engagement than posts on the list." But a month later, Moon was attacking data that comes from Facebook, declaring that reports about "severely flwed" data coming out of Facebok "discredited any study relating to so-called “misinformation,” alleged radicalization or political polarization that used the Facebook information" and that "Every study that used the flawed data should be retracted until a new analysis has been completed."

The duo further insisted that the study'snumbers be placed into context (which is friendly to their CCDH-bashing arguments), again citing Facebook data she has insisted elsewhere is misleading:

CCDH trotted out what it portrayed as a very concerning number: 709,057 total interactions with the so-called “climate denial articles” between Oct. 2020 and Oct. 2021. But numbers without any context are useless. 

To put that number into context, Facebook noted analysis of Facebook data by SMPerth, a social media marketing education service in Australia, showed that in a 30-day period, the typical Facebook user likes 11 posts, comments on 5 posts and shares one post, for a total of 17 average monthly engagements. 

Performing some basic math with these numbers, we discovered that the 706,057 interactions over a one-year period amounted to approximately 0.00012 percent of the total Facebook interactions over that time, a rather insignificant number. Certainly not a number worth the effort to demonetize and deplatform ten online organizations over.

From there, Moon and Pariseau moved on to citing previous predictions about climate catastrophe allegedly not coming true:

The first words used in the report are, “We are at a climate tipping point.” That is followed up with phrases such as “It is the greatest crisis ever faced by our species.” This language is alarmist by definition. Americans have been warned about being at such a tipping point to the point that it has become tantamount to the story of the boy who cried wolf. 

One example among many was an article from 2006 on a climate change-promoting website saying that we have only a 10-year window to act. That window closed five years ago, yet we are still not facing the climate catastrophe predicted if we failed to act. It is nonsensical to claim that calling out truly alarmist and hyperbolic language as such deserves to be demonetized and deplatformed — especially when using hyperbolic language to do it.

But that report did not say things would immediately get worse if nothing was done in that timeframe. Indeed, climate change has continued since 2016, and 2020 was tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, so that prediction hasn't exactly been proven wrong.

The duo then returned to COVID misinformation:

The report then goes on to compare so-called climate “disinformation” to “ vaccine and COVID-19 disinformation,” saying that both “obfuscate the truth by overwhelming us with claims and questions designed in bad faith to confuse the debate so action is delayed. ”The authors chose this comparison because of the organization’s previous success with its “Disinformation Dozen” report. However, COVID-19 is a bad comparison for the point the authors tried to make.

The virus data proved “experts” wrong time and time again. Some stories initially labeled conspiracy theories” have borne out to in fact be supportable if not undeniably true, such as the Wuhan lab leak. Comparisons to the climate policy debate favor skeptics rather than the so-called “experts.”

Actually, the "Wuhan lab leak" has not yet proven to be true, in fact, the idea that it originated in a Wuhan food market remains quite viable. Many of the things Moon and Pariseau linked to to claim that people were wrong about things that turned out to be true -- like a Fox News attack piece on Anthony Fauci's purported "contradictions" about the virus -- can be linked to the evolving nature of knowledge about COVID. The duo had to go to far-flung places like a Turkish website and an article by known COVID quack Joseph Mercola, which don't exactly prove their point.

Moon and Pariseau concluded by whining:

CCDH stated in its report that the websites highlighted “are the main producers of content that sows climate change skepticism” pretending there is “more extensive debate than there really is.” This statement relies on the old “97 percent consensus” myth that has been debunked. The fact that the report must dredge up a debunked statement to make its point discredits its own argument.

The duo cited a 2016 Forbes piece written by an instructor at the University of Houston who previously had a career in the oil and gas industry, who claimed that the consensus level is closer to 81 percnet -- but even then, the writer conceded that "support over 80% is strong consensus." Meanwhile, outside the right-wing bubble the MRC resides in, the 97 percent number continues to hold up.

Weirdly, Moon and Pariseau not only did not refute anything the report stated about the MRC -- such as its funding from fossil-fuel interests -- it censored the fact that the MRC was one of the "Toxic Ten." They also didn't mention that another outlet on the list was Russian state media operations like RT and Sputnik News, though they appeared to be trying to write around that by referencing "nine conservative digital outlets" in the lead paragraph.

This is not exactly the takedown of the CCDH report that the MRC thinks it is -- it's more evidence justifying the MRC's place on the CCDH's list.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:15 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2022 11:29 PM EST
WND Trashes 'Natural Immunity' Study That Doesn't Conform To Its Anti-Vaxx Agenda
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A key component of WorldNetDaily's fake-news campaign against COVID vaccines has been obsessing about "natural immunity" -- the idea that the immunity gained from surviving a bout of coronavirus is superior to that gained from a vaccine. Fort months, WND has been publishing articles and columns touting natural immunity:

Now, in medical reality, there is no significant difference between disease-acquired and vaccine-acquired immunity -- and WND largely ignores the inconvenient fact that to obtain "natural immunity," once must become infected with a disease that has killed more than 700,000 people in the U.S. alone.It's a political hijacking of a medical term by anti-vaxxers like those who run WND; as one observer noted, "The standard vocabulary of medical science thus unwittingly undermines the very public health goals it is meant to serve by implicitly endorsing immunity that doesn’t come from vaccines."

So when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a study showing that vaccinated people have better COVID immunity than those with disease-induced immunity and that those who have recovered from a COVID infection should still get a vaccine, WND rushed into action. COVID misinformer Art Moore wrote in a Nov. 2 article:

Amid more than 100 studies showing the superiority of natural COVID-19 immunity over vaccine-produced immunity, the Centers for Disease Control released the results this week of a study claiming to show the opposite.

But Dr. Martin Kulldorf, who has worked on vaccine epidemiology since joining the Harvard faculty nearly two decades ago, is among many epidemiologists who have quickly pointed out the CDC study's fatal flaws.

In an article for the Brownstone Institute, he compared the CDC research with an Israeli study that found people vaccinated for COVID-19 are 27 times more likely to have a symptomatic COVID infection than those previously infected by the virus.

Kulldorf is one of the founders of the Great Barrington Declaration , a document signed by anti-vaxx-adjacent doctors and other activists that pushed "herd immunity" to COVID -- something most virus experts disagreed with -- and it was so poorly vetted that the declaration includes fake names.

Further, that Israeli study Kulldorf referenced raises questions. First of all, it was published not at a peer-reviewed journal but on a preprint server called MedRxiv, where studies that have not undergone peer review can be published. As a fact-checker pointed out, the numbers Kulldorf pushed were based on small sample sizes and still showed that the risk was still quite small:

For instance, the study’s finding that never-infected vaccinees were at higher risk for COVID-19-related hospitalization than the previously infected non-vaccinees was based on no more than about two dozen hospitalizations in either of the comparisons.

[...]

Among a group of more than 32,000 people either previously infected or fully vaccinated between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, the authors found a 13-fold increased risk for breakthrough infection with the delta variant as opposed to reinfection. The frequency of either event, however, was still very low, as this was based on 238 breakthrough infections, or infections in fully vaccinated individuals, and 19 reinfections among unvaccinated people who had recovered from a previous bout with the virus.

The authors also found a 27-fold increased risk for symptomatic breakthrough infection after full vaccination as opposed to symptomatic reinfection. That was based on 191 infections in vaccinated individuals and eight in previously infected people.

Moore gave space for Kulldorf to attack the CDC study's methodology and portray the Israel study as more "reliable," but omitted the fact that the Israel study has been criticized for selection bias and survivorship bias. Moore made no effort at a fair, balanced and detailed accounting of the CDC study, since his job was to undercut trust in that study because it contradicts WND's anti-vaxx agenda.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:29 PM EST
NEW ARTICLE -- The MRC's School Wars, Part 1: The Agitator
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center hyped battles over critical race theory and LGBT issues in a Virginia school district so its followers would create chaos -- and it could then hype that chaos. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 2:13 PM EST
CNS Freaks Out Over GOP Launching 'Pride Coalition'
Topic: CNSNews.com

Earlier this year, CNSNews.com was angry that the Conservative Political Action Conference wasn't hating LGBT people to its satisfaction. Now it's mad that this failure to hate has crept into the Republican Party itself. A Nov. 8 article by Megan Williams startedo off innocuously:

The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced its partnership with the Log Cabin Republicans at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort this weekend, creating its first “Pride Coalition,” which will invest in and mobilize LGBTQ+ communities ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, Fox News reported.

The Spirit of Lincoln Gala, held at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida was hosted by the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization representing LGBTQ conservatives and their allies, on Saturday night.

Williams balanced that with a couple right-wing gay-haters:

However, some conservatives have expressed their disagreement with the RNC’s new partnership.

Daily Wire contributor Matt Walsh tweeted how the Republican Party was simply adopting the left’s social agenda.

“If the Republican Party is going to fully embrace leftist sexual identity politics, then it officially serves no purpose,” Walsh wrote.

Walsh, if you'll recall, was the homophobe CNS' owner, the Media Research Center, touted when he pretended to move to a county in Virginia for the expresed purpose of spewing anti-LGBT hate at members of the local school board.

By the end of her article, though, Williams had gone into full hate-editorial mode:

Other conservatives have often explained that there is no such thing as a “gay conservative,” because homosexual behavior is contrary to Nature and the natural law, which follows God’s design in the physical world.  “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27)

Homosexual behavior and its acceptance and promotion contribute to the destruction of the entire natural order, and therefore cannot be conservative but always revolutionary.

This got the attention of the powers that be at CNS. In response, it published a Nov. 11 column by the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins attacking the party for creating the coalition while pretending he's not as homophobic as he actually is:

A good number of people, myself included, have no problem if people who identify as gay or lesbian want to join the Republican Party. What we object to is RNC leaders hanging a flashing neon sign over the entrance saying, "We support the LGBT cause," because we don't. The GOP platform made that abundantly clear in 2016 and again in 2020. And if prominent Republicans who live that lifestyle are saying "we're not going to make sexual orientation be the be-all, end-all, center of everything that we do," then what exactly is the point of this PR campaign? Certainly not to endear the RNC to parents, the GOP's greatest new ally, or longtime conservatives, who've been fighting for decades to keep this extremism at bay.

[...]

Obviously, there are Republican leaders, many of whom I know and respect, who haven't made their sexuality a defining issue. But the sad reality is, they can't help but open the door for others who will. History shows that statements like this -- even innocent ones -- have laid the groundwork for sweeping change. And while people at the Log Cabin Republicans or RNC may not have that intention, it will almost certainly be the outcome if more conservatives don't stand up and remind Republican leaders that we already have one Democratic Party. We don't need two.

That was quickly followed by an article from CNS managing editor and chief homophobe Michael W. Chapman rehashing Perkins' column and throwing in some additional hate from Walsh and bashing an openly gay GOP player:

Responding to gay Republican Richard Grenell, a former top Trump administration official who attended the Log Cabin gala, Walsh tweeted, "I’m not going to ask permission privately before stating my opinion. I think 'gay pride' is leftist sexual identity politics bulls**t and has no place in any conservatism I recognize. It also won’t succeed in attracting the voters you’re going after. But don’t let that stop you."

At the gala, Grenell gleefully denounced conservative Pat Buchanan and his 1992 culture war speech at the Republican National Convention.

In that speech, Buchanan defended the family, real marriage, parental rights, religious freedom, school choice, the police, a strong national defense, and the right to life from conception to natural death. Buchanan also denounced abortion, pornography, and so-called gay marriage.

CNS has previously attacked Grenell, though it took a while because it was so reluctant to criticize anything Trump did. And Chapman failed to disclose that his boss, CNS editor Terry Jeffrey, worked for Buchanan's presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:30 AM EST
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
MRC Loses It Over Being Names To 'Toxic Ten' List Of Climate Misinformers
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center can't handle criticism of its own work. So when the Center for Countering Digital Hate listed the MRC and NewsBusters on its list of the "Toxic Ten" right-wing purveyors of misinformation and denial about climate change, the MRC unsurprisingly went ballistic. Joseph Vazquez used a Nov. 2 post to lash out at the group and tout his boss, Brent Bozell, going full Godwin over the report:

The U.K.-based Center for Countering Digital Hate wants to censor organizations that disagree with it on climate policy. It released an absurd report attacking the Media Research Center and eight other conservative organizations in an attempt to shut them down online.

The leftist group behind the attack is led by a socialist who co-authored a book about “how to defeat” conservative ideas. The group promotes leftist eco-extremism, but behind all that are its deep ties to Communist China. The CCDH is funded by a leftist eco-group that financed a “greening” scheme for Communist China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The propaganda report headlined “THE TOXIC TEN: How ten fringe publishers fuel 69% of digital climate change denial” includes three recommendations to censor the organizations the group doesn’t agree with. These include: “Stop monetizing” their content; stop allowing them to buy ads and it even wants social media firms to “comprehensively label” what it calls “climate denial.”

MRC founder and President L. Brent Bozell slammed the attack. “Digital brownshirts are attacking conservative organizations for daring to have an honest debate on climate policy. These anti-free speech bigots want to shut down anyone who dares to disagree with them. Calling for more biased fact-checks as a way of silencing scientific debate is insane. This is another typical left wing cancel culture attempt borne out of anti-conservative bigotry. Stop Big Tech Cancel Culture!”

Vazquez not only did not rebut anything in the report, he didn't even provide a link to it so his readers could judge for themselves.

Later that day, MRC executive Tim Graham rushed out a column attacking the report, dismissing the CCDH as a "British socialist group," smearing the group's leader Imran Ahmed as an "ayatollah" and complaining that it wants encourage advertisers from patronizing these operations: "Once again, the Left wants to win debates by stopping any debate from happening." Graham seems to hvae forgotten that the MRC has an entire operation dedicated to letting its followers attack advertisers who support non-right-wing outlets - and, thus ,stopping debate.

Like Vazquez, Graham refused to link to the report to readers could judge for themselves. He didn't address the report, but he did complain about MRC-related images in it:

My column on Climate Depot founder Marc Morano’s book Green Fraud was pictured under the Daily Wire section of the report. The MRC section is illustrated with a Joseph Vazquez article on NewsBusters about...Marc Morano. He’s apparently Digital Hater Number One.

In my Morano column, I noted that the Climate Panic lobby is never held accountable for failed predictions of doom from decades ago. In one PBS series called Race to Save the Planet, Meryl Streep claimed “By the year 2000 -- that's less than 10 years away -- the earth's climate will be warmer than it's been in over 100,000 years. If we don't do something, there'll be enormous calamities in a very short time.” 

In 2021, that can be defined as climate misinformation.

Graham didn't mention that Morano -- a former co-worker of Graham's at the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com -- is not mentioned in the report at all outside of those screenshots, which puts the lie to his claim that the report portrays Morano as "Digital Hater Number One." He also didn't mention that Morano is not a climatologist or has any other related scientific background; his Climate Depot has received funding from fossil-fuel interests and, thus, can't be taken seriously as an independent, legitimate view of climate change, since his paycheck depends on his denying it. Graham's column touting Morano's book uncritically repeats his arguments and doesn't challenge them at all, and Vazquez's NewsBusters post was another hagiography, touting a fawning interivew with him about "An Inconvenient Truth after its 15th anniversary."

Graham railed against the report for purportedly trying to censor opposing views -- but views that oppose the right-wing climate-denial narrative are never allowed to stand un-attacked at the MRC. Who's the real censor here?

The MRC found a friendly Republican congressman to parrot its attacks on the CCDH, as described in a Nov. 4 post by Alexander Hall:

Congressman Greg Steube (R-FL) raked the U.K.-based Center for Countering Digital Hate over the coals for its call to silence conservative organizations.

Representative Steube slammed the “CCP-sympathizing socialists” of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), who he summarized “have made it their mission to suppress the facts and silence conservative organizations,” in a Nov. 3 tweet. The CCDH called to censor organizations that disagree with its radical leftist agenda on climate policy. CCDH listed the Media Research Center, along with eight other conservative outlets, among the so-called “toxic ten” sources condemned for not kowtowing to leftist politics. Steube proclaimed: “It’s past time for them to be held accountable for the left-wing front groups that they are. We cannot stand for this.”

Steube tweeted a blog from NewsBusters featuring Media Research Center Founder and President Brent Bozell who torched the study’s creators as “Digital brownshirts” who are “attacking conservative organizations for daring to have an honest debate on climate policy.”

Surprisingly, Hall did link to the CCDH report, but he failed to refute any of its contents.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:38 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 9, 2021 9:18 AM EST
Newsmax Plugs Newsmax-Published Book By Newsmax Host
Topic: Newsmax

An Oct. 26 Newsmax article weirdly credited to "Newsmax Wires" states (bolding in original):

Sean Spicer warns that the Biden-Harris administration is not only the most progressive administration in history, it is also the most destructive to the nation.

The Newsmax host and former Trump White House press secretary is out with his latest bestseller today, "Radical Nation: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s Dangerous Plan for America."

"Radical Nation," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says, "presents a clear and concise understanding of the direction we are headed."

In "Radical Nation," Spicer writes: "We need to understand how wrongheaded, destructive, and dangerous the current Biden-Harris agenda is. We must present a strong opposition to the many deluded and divisive notions this president has put forward."

Apparently, Newsmax press releases are released on "Newsmax Wires."

Newsmax can be expected to promote a book by one of its hosts, but it left out just how vertical and self-serving this operation is: Spicer's book was published by Humanix Books, which is owned by Newsmax.

In short: Newsmax promoted a book by a Newsmax host that was published by Newsmax. That achieves astronomical levels of self-dealing, and portraying this corporate press release as "news" is utterly dishonest.


Posted by Terry K. at 5:52 PM EST
CNS Columnist Joins The MRC's Misinformation Scare-Quote Army
Topic: CNSNews.com

The Media Reserarch Center's disdain for Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for not being the kind of whistleblower they prefer -- that is, a right-winger like them -- spilled over to its "news" division, CNSNews.com. The Heritage Foundation's Lora Ries huffed in a Oct. 8 column:

Tuesday’s Senate hearing with Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen was part of a slick, well-produced rollout of a former Facebook employee, complete with a prerecorded and well-timed “expose” on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” harmonious media cheerleading, and paid Democratic consultants.

With this razzle-dazzle, the witness and her handlers want the audience to use the pretext of child protection to increase government power over Facebook, resulting in increased censorship, which likely will inure to the detriment of conservatives in the long run.

To identify—and avoid—the key takeaway of the hearing, members of Congress and the American public need to see through the glossy performance and focus on Haugen’s former role at Facebook and what she advocated for in the hearing; namely, more censorship of “misinformation.”

Note those scare quotes around the word "misinformation," which indicates that she has bought into the MRC's narrative that there is no objective definition of the word and that lies are free speech. Indeed, she goes off on that later in her column:

But government should not encourage or expand the current favorite tool of the left, companies such as Facebook, and Haugen herself; namely, identifying and removing “misinformation.

[...]

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) advocated for her legislation to hold digital platforms accountable for health misinformation posted online. Haugen lamented that Facebook does not have the capability to prevent COVID-19 misinformation because it overrelies on artificial intelligence to catch such content, and AI only catches a small fraction of it.

Americans should have visceral reactions against efforts to label and censor “misinformation.” COVID-19 and the 2020 election have shown that such labels are often proven wrong and that “misinformation” is a euphemism for content the left does not like or want shared.

Two prime examples were the Wuhan, China lab being the source of COVID-19 and the Hunter Biden laptop. News of the latter was likely suppressed by Haugen’s own team.

Actually, the "Wuhan lab leak" hypothesis has not yet proven to be true and the idea that it originated in a Wuhan food market remains quite viable, and the Hunter Biden laptop story remains murky.

Ries concluded with a reinforcement of thenarrative: "Americans need to see through this setup of a 'whistleblower' hearing and avoid being tricked into weaponizing so-called 'misinformation' labeling and censorship." She didn't explain why dubious stories that advance right-wing narratives must be trusted without question and shouldn't correctly be described as misinformation.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:45 PM EST
Joel Hirschhorn COVID Misinformation Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

COVID misinformer Joel Hirschhorn is stil at it. In his Oct. 28 WorldNetDaily column, he insisted that the official number of deaths from COVID are overblown: "U.S. federal and state agencies have, for the most part, been very liberal in declaring deaths as COVID ones. This has resulted from both financial incentives, political motivations (maintaining public fear and acceptance of authoritarian government actions) and procedural government guidance." He added:

In other words, many people, especially the elderly, could have died with COVID but not from COVID. They may have died from their underlying medical problems and weakened immune system more than effects directly associated with COVID infection. Some die because they have been given the very expensive approved drug remdesivir that causes acute liver and kidney problems and has a death rate of over 25%. Yet their deaths go into the COVID death column.

In fact, remdesivir is not killing people, and patients must undergo kidney and liver tests prior to treatment to make sure it is safe for them. Hirschhorn is simply repeating that false claim to fearmonger about treatment. Later in his column, Hirschhorn wrote:

Receiving major attention on alternative news sites in October 2021 are the views of Dr. Joseph Mercola that will now be summarized. He has been a strong proponent for explaining non-infection deaths on the basis of COVID vaccines.

"The number of Americans who have died between January 2021 and August 2021 is 16% higher than 2018, the pre-COVID year with the highest all-cause mortality, and 18% higher than the average death rate between 2015 and 2019. Adjusted for population growth of about 0.6% annually, the mortality rate in 2021 is 16% above the average and 14% above the 2018 rate."

Mercola asked the key question: "Did COVID-19 raise the death toll despite mass vaccination, or are people dying at increased rates because of it?"

[...]

To recap, Mercola's reporting provided different sources to support the range of 82,800 to 207,000 for vaccine deaths to date.

The fact that Hirschhorn is treating anything from a documented quack like Mercola seriously is a reason to never take Hirschhorn seriously. Hirschhorn then wrote:

The September 2021 study "Government's Own Data Reveals that at Least 150,000 Probably DEAD in U.S. Following COVID-19 Vaccines," by Jessica Rose and Mathew Crawford, is the most detailed and impressive effort to determine vaccine deaths. It has been criticized by FDA: "Although under reporting is a limitation in VAERS, with regard to COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring, there currently is not evidence to suggest it would underestimate the amount of COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths to such a large degree." This author disagrees with FDA. Here is the official view of CDC: "'Underreporting' is one of the main limitations of passive surveillance systems, including VAERS. The term, underreporting refers to the fact that VAERS receives reports for only a small fraction of actual adverse events." As you will see below, the 150,000 figure for vaccine deaths is a low, conservative estimate.

This is the summary of its findings: "Analysis of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database can be used to estimate the number of excess deaths caused by the COVID vaccines. A simple analysis shows that it is likely that over 150,000 Americans have been killed by the current COVID vaccines as of Aug 28, 2021." This is close to the high end of the range given above.

An actual fact-checker talked to actual government experts, who ruled the study bogus:

An FDA spokesperson told Reuters in an email that it “strongly disagrees” with the analysis put forth in the report.

They added that the claim 150,000 people have died in the United States as a result of COVID-19 vaccines is not accurate and is based on data from VAERS that was not properly interpreted.

The spokesperson said: “Although under reporting is a limitation in VAERS, with regard to COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring, there currently is not evidence to suggest it would underestimate the amount of COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths to such a large degree.”

The FDA and CDC have multiple systems in place in addition to VAERS to monitor vaccine safety. “A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines,” the FDA told Reuters.

Hirschhorn went on to write:

Lastly, it is relevant to note what the eminent medical researcher Dr. Judy Mikovits has said. Her medical science credentials are impeccable, including a long stint at the National Cancer Institute. Her views may seem extreme to some people, but they are based on a deep scientific understanding and are consistent with the highly frightening forecasts of other scientists and physicians.

She said: "I just can't even imagine a recipe for anything other than what I would consider mass murder on a scale where 50 million people will die in America from the vaccine." Time will tell whether this dire prediction will materialize as more people get the shot. The shot that kills.

Actually, Mikovits' medical science credentials are the farthest thing from "impeccable" -- she's the woman behind the discredited COVID conspiracy theory film "Plandemic," and another quack Hirschhorn is in league with that should make people doubt his own claims.

Hirschhorn then fearmongered about booster shots: "Since the start of the third booster shot on July 30, the COVID death rate in Israel has been reported to have jumped from about .15 to 3.5 per million in early September. Is it possible that a similar negative impact will happen in the U.S.?" In fact, severe cases of COVID among vaccinated people declined after they received a booster shot.

Hirschhorn pushed his usual, unsupported claims about how "Public health officials failed to promote early wide use of generics and foolishly pushed mass vaccination that has not proven effective. The former could have prevented over 600,000 infection deaths." Again: Given who Hirschhorn is in league with, there's no reason to believe that.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:04 AM EST

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