NEW ARTICLE: Shills For (Right-Wing) Social Media Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center is an enthusiastic promoter of Twitter clones catering to right-wingers like GETTR and Truth Social -- and, like a good PR rep, hides their problems. Read more >>
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban long has been recognized as a renegade – the leader not willing to submit to a globalist agenda or mandates from the established power structure.
He began his career objecting to Russian troops in Hungary, and they were removed a short time later. He moved his nation toward a free-market economy, led its entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, urged the adoption of a constitution outlining conservative moral themes and defended national sovereignty.
He further outraged the establishment by erecting a fence on his nation's border to disrupt the flow of illegal aliens coming from the Middle East and Africa.
And even while fighting COVID, his nation enacted legislation that banned school content "deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change."
Now he's warning that the COVID-19 pandemic was just a prelude to a "serious stress test" that will be coming from the United Nations and the World Economic Forum.
His comments were captured and translated by the RAIR Foundation, whose name represents "Rise Align Ignite Reclaim."
He cited the U.N.'s Agenda 2030 campaign and charged that it is nothing less than global government tyranny that enslaves all humanity.
He said the Agenda 2030 plan, formerly called Agenda 21, combined with the WEF's Great Reset plan, would force the world into a society where "ownership is obsolete, privacy is non-existent, and … globalist organizations achieve complete control."
Yes, Orban is plugging the same "Great Reset" conspiracy theory that WND itself has embraced. Needless to say, Unruh also followed in the MRC's footsteps by refusing to tell the truth about Orban's authoritarianism: cutting off the free speech of his critics, criminalized any criticism of his handling of the COVID pandemic and being virulently anti-LGBT and anti-immigrant.
Unruh also tried to whitewash the organization that publicized Orban's speech, stating only that "The RAIR Foundation describes itself as a 'grassroots activist organization comprised of everyday Americans leading a movement to reclaim our Republic from the network of individuals and organizations waging war on Americans, our Constitution, our borders and our Judeo-Christian values.'" In fact, the RAIR Foundation has been linked to two prominent Islamophobes. The first is Amy Mekelburg, who anonymously spewed anti-Muslim hate on Twitter under the handle "Amy Mek" until she was outed in 2018.
The group's president appears to be Chris Gaubatz, another anti-Muslim activist. Back in 2009, WND published a book by Gaubatz and his father called "Muslim Mafia," in which Chris went undercover at a CAIR office and stole documents he used in the book.CAIR sued the Gaubatzes, and the case was still ongoing as of 2018.
A look at the RAIR Foundation's website shows that it's bee dabbling in anti-vaxxer activism and anti-globalism as well as the usual Islamophobia. Mekelburg is still an active writer, as is an anonymous coward using the fake name "Vlad Tepes," a historical figure who's better known as Vlad the Impaler.
In other words, exactly the kind of crowd you'd expect Unruh and WND to hang out with.
MRC Labored To Portray SCOTUS Nominee As 'Deeply Liberal,' 'Radical' Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has been all about building right-wing narratives regarding President Biden's Supreme Court nominee. First, it sought to brand her as a radical weeks before the nominee was even named. Then, MRC executive Tim Graham tried to otherize the eventual nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, by using only her first name (as if could ever possibly be on a first-name basis with her). Meanwhile, in the days after her nomination, Graham's MRC underlings were laboring to tar Jackson as extreme despite not knowing much about her.
On the day of her announcement on Feb. 25, Curtis Houck attacked Jackson for committing the sin of having gone to the same college as Joy Reid, the MSNBC host whom Houck hates with an obsessive passion. He also weirdly bashed commentator Irin Carmon, twisting her statement that it would be great to have a black woman's perspective on the court regarding issues like abortion since black women are "disproportionately affected by" abortion restrictions into an assertion that she "gave away the game on the abortion industry’s dependence on taking advantage of Black women."
A post by Scott Whitlock declared in the headlline that Jackson was "deeply liberal" -- then unironically stated that "The disingenuous ideological spin has already begun."Whitlock called Jackson "deeply liberal" one more time in the body of his piece. In another item, Whitlock again called her "deeply liberal" and mocked descriptions of her as a pragmatist and consensus-builder.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Fondacaro huffed: "The liberal media were all hands on deck Friday to defend President Biden’s new Super Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson from any criticism whatsoever" -- as if he and the MRC would be offering anything except criticism. Kevin Tober upped the rhetorical labeling, claiming without evidence (beyond parroting right-wing Sen. Lindsey Graham) that Jackson is a "radical."
Alex Christy got mad when it was pointed out that conservatives would add nothing to the conversation beyond repeatedly declaring that Jackson was liberal:
On Friday’s CNN Newsroom, White House correspondent John Harwood said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) opposition to President Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on the grounds she is going to be a reliable liberal is not a substantive criticism.
Host Bianna Golodryga asked Harwood to comment on how the GOP will approach the hearings and McConnell’s claim that Jackson was the pick of left-wing dark money groups: “On the one hand, maybe it’s not surprising to hear from—from-- Mitch McConnell some criticism there in describing her as—as-- an extremist, but that having been said, she was on—on-- the shortlist and—and-- top of that shortlist for a while now. Why are we just hearing this from him now?”
The obvious answer is that we are hearing it now because Jackson wasn’t officially the nominee, but for Harwood, the supposed real answer is that conservatives just don’t like Biden. “Well, look, Republicans have a lot of pressure within their party to oppose anything that Joe Biden does," he said.
After reporting that McConnell didn’t object to Biden’s pledge to nominate a black woman, Harwood added: “When I hear Mitch McConnell saying this is the candidate of far-left dark money group, that is a procedural criticism. That is not a substantive criticism of Ketanji Brown Jackson.”
Of course, Harwood has it completely backward. Criticizing the nominee’s actual views on the matter is a substantive criticism while criticizing Biden’s pledge would’ve been a procedural criticism.
Naturally, the PBS NewsHour was delighted with President Biden's nomination of radical Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Friday night. David Brooks touted how Jackson brings “a new lived set of experiences. It can't help but have a humanizing aspect.” He put her in the mainstream….of the Democrats. That might be correct, but the Democrats are far to the left!
Christy huffed that one commentator portrayed Jackson as, in his words, "almost a goddess-type figure who has descended from Mount Olympus and that she only hopes she will be afforded due process before the Senate," then returned to complain that "liberal black women activists" are "excited" about Jackson's nomination. Mark Finkelstein then pointed the direction for how Republicans will be expected by right-wing activists to handle Jackson's nomination, as revenge for how previous Republican Supreme Court nominees didn't get a free pass from Democrats:
If you want to say that Biden SCOTUS nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson has a solid resume, go ahead. But to make that case by belittling the credentials of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett is shall we say, Pants On Fire.
Amna Nawaz, a PBS NewsHour correspondent who doubles as an MSNBC contributor, said there is a "kind of reflexive Republican pushback to anything this president does right now," as if Democrats never acted this way.
Surely the panel was aware that the verb "to Bork" was coined to describe a savage attack on a Supreme Court nominee, after Democrats in 1987 destroyed the candidacy of Robert Bork, President Reagan's supremely qualified nominee. And who was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee leading the attack? Then-Senator Joe Biden.
Democrats, with Biden leading the charge, were back at it in 1991, with a vicious assault against the nomination of Clarence Thomas. MSNBC wants to talk about "performative" attacks playing to the base? The best illustration thereof could be the iconic photo of Biden jabbing an accusatory finger at Thomas. Ted Kennedy, seen looking on, launched a vicious attack of his own on Bork.
Most recently, there was the contemptible Democrat attack on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh's, in which Democrats, playing to their base, dredged up unproven allegations of teenaged rape (even gang rape) against him.
So please, MSNBC and the liberal media at large, spare us the faux outrage in pre-emptively accusing Republicans of unfair criticism of Brown Jackson, and take a good look in the mirror at the Democrats' history of scurrilous attacks on Republican nominees.
Whitlock devoted a Feb. 28 post to complaining that conservative Supreme Court nominees were accurately identified by TV network news as conservative. We don't recall seeing a similar MRC study on how many times Fox News identified a liberal-leaning nominee as liberal (or "radical").
Kyle Drennen served up the revenge talking point in a post the same day about a CBS report:
They conveniently didn’t mention how nasty, personal attacks on conservative court nominees like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh by partisan Democrats (like Joe Biden) poisoned the process.
When a conservative nominee like Barrett was nominated to high court less than two years ago, CBS hyped Democratic claims that the process was “lightening-fast” and illegitimate. Now that a liberal like Jackson has been named to the Supreme Court, the network is frustrated that anyone wants to examine her record and bemoans the fact that she won’t get “87 votes.”
Drennen conveniently didn't mention why Barrett's nomination might have been considered legitimate: it was hypocritically rammed through by Republicans a month before a presidential election, many of whom blocked Merrick Garland's nomination in 2016 out of a professed concern that the newly elected president deserved to fill the seat.
It's pretty much axiomatic that any alarmist claim WorldNetDaily publishes about COVID or its vaccines should not and cannot be trusted at face value because it's either highly misleading or completely wrong. Which brings us to a March 2 article by enthusiastic COVID misinformer Art Moore:
The fully vaccinated account for 9 of every 10 deaths from COVID-19 in England and 4 of 5 deaths among the triple-vaccinated, according to the latest data published by the U.K. Health Security Agency.
The independent British news site The Exposé reported the government report, published Feb. 22, includes a table on page 41 confirming the vast majority of deaths were among the vaccinated.
About 73.5% of the population of England has been fully vaccinated, and 56.9% have received a booster shot, as of Feb. 28.
Top health officials around the world, including in the U.S., have acknowledged that the COVID-19 vaccines have not stopped infection or transmission amid the omicron wave – the premise for vaccine mandates – but have insisted the shots prevent hospitalization and death.
However, between Jan 24 and Feb. 20, there were 9,230 COVID-19 hospitalizations in England. The fully vaccinated accounted for 6,689 of them, the triple vaccinated 4,936 and the unvaccinated 2,341.
During that period, there were 4,861 COVID-19 deaths, with the triple vaccinated population accounting for 3,120 of them. The unvaccinated population accounted for only 559.
The falsehoods start with Moore's description of The Exposé an "independent ... news site." It's not a "news" site at all; it's all about conspiracy theories and anti-vaxxer content whose owners and writers worked anonymously until they were exposed last year, and it has been repeatedly busted for spreading COVID vaccine misinformation.
Meanwhile, people who care about facts have exposed this particular false claim for what it is and explain exactly what it (and Moore, in uncritically repeating it) got wrong:
The UKHSA told Reuters via email that, given vaccine uptake levels in England are very high, it is expected that a large proportion of cases and deaths would occur in vaccinated individuals, even with a highly effective vaccine, because a larger proportion of the population are vaccinated than unvaccinated.
Dr Muge Cevik, a clinical lecturer in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St Andrews, previously told Reuters that when much of a population has been vaccinated, “most infections and deaths are expected to be among those vaccinated” (here).
The UKHSA also says the prioritisation of individuals who are more at risk of severe COVID-19 in vaccine rollouts means those vaccinated may be more at risk of death from COVID-19 and contributing factors, regardless of vaccination.
The agency also told Reuters that it is useful to compare case, hospitalisation and death rates in boosted individuals with those who are unvaccinated given third doses have now been offered to all age groups in England.
In short: the Expose has taken statistics out of context. Reuters went on to note that "The weekly surveillance report has become a continuous tool used in COVID-19 vaccine misinformation throughout the pandemic" -- and that's what WND did here too.
And Joseph Farah wonders why his website is going down the tubes. With publishing so much misinformation, why would it not?
We ordinary citizens don’t know whether Putin will actually invade Ukraine with the 127,000 Russian soldiers he’s placed at its borders or whether he’s just bluffing.
But the Biden administration — which belongs to the Neville Chamberlain School of Foreign Policy — doesn’t know what Putin is going to do, either.
Biden has just sent 3,000 troops over to Eastern Europe not to fight the Russians but to show Putin that America means business when it tells him not to take the part of Ukraine he hasn’t already grabbed.
That's Biden's way of trying to be tough on Russia.
But if we had a real leader with guts and brains, we'd tell Putin if he doesn’t pull his troops from the Ukraine border within 72 hours we’ll bankrupt him like we did in the 1980s.
We’ll shut down Russia’s vital Nord Stream natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany, reopen our Keystone Pipeline, free up our oil and gas frackers and flood America and the rest of the world with lower-cost energy.
That poor, corrupt and undemocratic Eastern European country is in the process of being beaten into submission and conquered by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
It should surprise no one.
Putin has been telling us for months, and showing us for weeks by encircling Ukraine with 150,000 Russian soldiers, what he was going to do.
Now Putin’s doing it — and there’s nothing we can do about it.
This is the kind of stuff that happens when there is a weak leader in the White House.
The invasion of eastern Ukraine proves that of the two countries, the United States and Russia, only one has a strong leader — and it’s not the U.S.
But for now, thanks to the Biden administration’s one-two punch of weakness and incompetence, Ukraine is now Putin’s to do with what he wants.
He’s been waiting for a weakling like Biden to occupy the White House and he has not let the opportunity pass him by.
He’s 73. He knows he’s personally running out of time to "Make Russia Great Again" (MRGA).
He also knew that he had only a four-year window to make his dream a reality.
He had to "MRGA" before Biden or his inevitable successor, the even more clueless Kamala Harris — was replaced by a competent president with a spine.
The fact is, no matter what you think of Donald Trump — and people know I don’t think very highly of him – the invasion of Ukraine would have never happened under Trump and certainly not under Ronald Reagan.
CNS Still Obsessed With Pushing Keystone Pipeline Topic: CNSNews.com
Like a good member of the right-wing media, CNSNews.com has been pushing right-wing talking points about how the Keystone XL pipeline will save us all -- never mind that 1) because the oil comes from Canada, it doesn't count toward boosting American "energy independence" and 2) much of the petroleum products made from the pipeline's oil would likely have been exported. The Russian invasion of Ukraine increased CNS' interest in pushing that narrative, combined with attacks on President Biden.
Craig Bannister used a Feb. 25 article to quote former Vice President Mike Pence deslcaring that "President Biden should authorize the Keystone XL pipeline and oil and gas leases in the United States of America." As we've noted, Biden has issued more drilling permits on federal land than Donald Trump did; also, the pipeline will take years to complete, so it would not help Americans now.
The same day, Susan Jones quoted Republican Rep. Tom Cotton parroting Pence's falsehoods and illogic, in saying that "we lift all those restrictions on the production of American oil and gas so we can start drilling on federal lands again and putting out new leases and reopen the Keystone pipeline, which would bring more oil into America every day from Canada than we import every day from Russia." Jones copied-and-pasted Cotton's quote into a Feb. 28 article.
In another Feb. 25 article, Bannister quoted GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan dramatically demanding that Biden "“Get your boot off the neck of American energy producers” because you’re committing “national security suicide,” calling for the approval of Keystone.
On March 1, Melanie Arter uncritically quoted former U.S. ambassador tothe United Nations Nikki Haley asserting that Biden could make up for cutting off Russian oil "in one instance by opening up the Keystone Pipeline" -- again, ignoring that the pipeline would take years to build. Arter also spent a March 8 article reproducing a Q&A between Psaki and hostile Fox News reporter Peter Doocy in which Psaki pointed out that "if President Biden reversed his executive order and allowed the Keystone Pipeline to go forward, it would not affect gas prices faster than getting the entire country off of fossil fuels."
Jones devoted a March 9 article repeating Republican senators pushing Republican talking points on oil and gas, starring you-know-what:
"And I would say to the President, why not American energy?" Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told a news conference.
"They took leases, oil and gas, leases on federal lands, took those off limits. They obviously killed the Keystone XL pipeline. I think it was the first executive order the President signed when he came to office. All examples of this administration's hostility to traditional, conventional energy sources in this country -- much of which we need right now.
Likewise, Sen. John Barrasso, from energy-rich Wyoming, said the Biden administration, until Tuesday, "has played right into the hands of Vladimir Putin" by killing the Keystone Pipeline, shutting down oil and gas leases on public lands, "and as recently as this past month, blocking additional transport of American energy."
Jones did not correct the senators' false insuation that issuance of oil and gas leases on federal land remains prohibited.
Arter served up another Psaki-Doocy Q&A on March 9, in which Psaki accurately pointed out that "if President Joe Biden allowed construction to continue on the Keystone XL Pipeline, it won’t address the high price of gas right now."
MRC Psaki-Bashing, Doocy-Fluffing Watch, Russia Edition Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Curtis Houck seemed to have flagging interest in the right-wing narrative genre he created -- obsessively trashing White House press secretary Jen Psaki and fluffing Fox News reporter Peter Doocy and other right-wing writers willing to hurl hostile questions at her -- through the end of last year and the beginning of this year. With things in Russia heating up, it was time to hunker down and parrot Doocy's right-wing talking points.
Houck still wasn't fully in the swing of it at first, though; Kevin Tober did the honors for the Feb. 22 briefing:
Tuesday's episode of The Psaki Show featured Fox News's Peter Doocy hammering Press Secretary Jen Psaki over the Biden administration's claim that the biggest threat America is facing is climate change, as well as a pointed question by Doocy over an old Biden tweet.
Once called on, Doocy wasted no time getting to the point, asking Psaki about a hyperbolic claim by the Biden Pentagon that the "greatest threat facing America is global warming." He asked Psaki if that was still the administration's assessment despite the fact that we are "facing down a potential cyberwar with Russia."
Of course, Psaki tried running out the clock by telling Doocy that the U.S. "is always prepared for any threat any outside entity or country poses." Psaki then claimed that since the global warming threat comments were from the Pentagon, he would have to ask them.
Later on in the briefing, Doocy's wife and Fox Business Network correspondent Hillary Vaughn had two questions for Psaki. The first was "if Nord Stream 2 going online was such a threat, why in May did the President waive sanctions on the company and the chief executive behind it?"
Before letting Psaki answer both, Vaughn laid down the marker with her other question: "Is there a concern that Nord Stream 2 if Russia were to make concessions or retreat in some way that that might open up the door to Nord Stream 2 going back online, or is it your understanding that it is dead no matter what Russia does?"
In response, Psaki said that Biden "has never been a supporter of Nord Stream 2" and that "Nord Stream 2 is not moving forward" nor has it "been operational anyway."
Houck finally showed up to do the job he created the next day, attacking Biden for purportedly not doing enough to stop Putin from invading Ukraine (while never explaining exactly what would have deterred Putin from doing so) and to obsess about a longtime right-wing narrative:
Ahead of a likely Russian invasion of Ukraine, State Department spokesman Ned Price and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spent Wednesday afternoon under fire from establishment media reporters and, of course, Fox’s Peter Doocy over the administration’s flip-flop on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the failure to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the impact the war could have on the U.S. economy.
Price went first and, from the get-go, the always-tough and persistent Matt Lee of the Associated Press went right to the news that Germany had suspended Nord Stream 2 from Russia and the U.S. would sanction the company (after having opposed doing so for a year).
Going over to The Psaki Show, Doocy Time commenced with the Fox reporter picking up from his questions on Tuesday concerning gas prices: “[A] lot of focus on the economic pain in Russia...but what about the economic pain here? The Russians are saying they think gas prices in Europe are going to double. How high could they get here.”
Psaki argued the pain Americans feel will, in part, be based upon “what President Putin does” even though Biden will “tak[e] every step [he] can...to minimize the impact[.]”
Houck omitted the part where Price got Lee to admit his harping about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was pointless; Price pointed out that there was no guarantee that U.S. sanctions would have stopped it from being completed.
Because Houck's only metric is how many hostile questions Psaki faces -- remember, he did not approve of tough questions being asked of his beloved Kayleigh McEnany -- Houck spent his Feb. 24 briefing summary in full own-the-libs mode, cheering that everyone seemed to be questioning Psaki:
Wednesday’s White House press briefing wasn’t smooth sailing for Press Secretary Jen Psaki and deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh with tough questions ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So it was only natural they came back Thursday and faced hardballs on Biden’s messaging flip-flop on use of sanctions and the refusal to apply them at all to the Russian energy industry (perhaps its number one asset).
Just as she did hours earlier with President Biden, ABC’s Cecilia Vega chose to actually hold the administration’s feet to the fire, first asking Singh: “If Putin takes Kyiv, does that trigger additional sanctions, specifically that scenario?”
Skipping ahead to Psaki’s portion, Fox’s Peter Doocy also pressed on energy, wondering whether Biden would alter his energy policies to allow for greater domestic production and if the President “would...ever consider ordering U.S. companies to stop importing Russian oil.”
Nicholas Fondacaro took over for the Feb. 25 briefing, making sure to up the Doocy-fluffing content:
With invading Russian forces bearing down on Kyiv and the Ukrainian forces holding out very stoutly against them, Friday’s Psaki Show featured Press Secretary Jen Psaki getting pressed on what the United States was doing to help the situation. Doocy Time really led the way on this front by grilling Psaki on why the U.S. was still open to allying with Russia on other pet projects of liberal politics. Then there was the pressing of President Biden again leaving Americans in a warzone.
Fox News’s Peter Doocy noted that the Biden State Department had said “there are still some areas in which the fulfillment of our national security priorities and imperatives require us to engage and coexist” with Russia.
Asking the important question many Americans watching the invasion and hearing of the reported atrocities had, Doocy wondered:“How is it that we are still engaging and coexisting with the Russians?”
At his Thursday press conference, Biden said he may wait 30 days for some of the latest sanctions to take effect. Addressing that ridiculous timeline, Doocy wanted to know: “Do you guys think the people in Ukraine have about a month?”
“Well, Peter,” Psaki indignantly said like an angry parent, “let me take a step back and explain to everyone how diplomacy works and how our approach from the United States has worked.”
Fondacaro did not explain how he was able to read Psaki's mind to determine how she was feeling when she answered Doocy's question.
CNS Columnists Call Out Russian Orthodox Church's Support For War; Reporters, Not So Much Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com columnists have been pro-appeasement when it comes to the Russian conflict in Ukraine, but there is one issue they have gotten right: calling out the Russian Orthodox Church over its support for Putin. Rev. Marcel Guarnizo made his point clear in a March 1 column:
Why is the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate not condemning this unjust war? Why do you not call on the Russian soldiers to lay down their weapons and abandon the field of battle? Putin’s forces not only flagrantly breach international law, but this is an anti-Christian war violating the Gospel you and I stand for. I have in person expressed my outrage and dismay that the Orthodox hierarchy has been in an unseemly long-term alliance with the Putin regime, despite its criminality inside and outside of Russia. We know of the immense benefices the Russian Orthodox Church has received from Putin and his oligarch friends for years. I have warned some of your high prelates that the Church’s dependence on the Putin regime would bring the loss of moral freedom to stand up against his criminality, let alone his manipulation of the Church.
But the silence of Patriarch Kirill and the Orthodox Church is unworthy of your position and the faith we profess. The actions and support of the Russian Orthodox Church for the Putin regime give ample rationale for the split of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from your jurisdiction. But how will you erase the stain that will now be laid at the feet of the Russian Patriarchate for their lethal silence? If this does not awaken all of you prelates in Russia from your stupor, it is unlikely anything will. You have been called to guide the faithful in Russia, and it should be evident that, to regain your moral freedom, you must now stand up and condemn unequivocally and publicly this unjust war. For Christ clearly taught, “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit his soul?” (Luke 9:25)
Meanwhile, CNS' favorite right-wing Catholic priest, Michael Orsi, used his March 4 column to mix his usual right-wing claptrap in his criticism of the war; he bizarrely insisted that "Putin does have some not-unreasonable security concerns about the gradual eastward advance of NATO" and Putin has a "legitimate fear of Russia being encircled."Wrong -- Putin's concerns stopped being legitimate when he waged war on a soverign country.
Orsi eventually get it right, though, in suggesting that the Russian Orthodox Church has some influence in the matter:
The one institution that has the presence and prestige to exert real pressure internally is the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin has draped himself in the mantle of Christian faith and virtue for years. Indeed, he’s the one former-Communist figure of consequence to recognize the spiritual heart of the Russian people.
He’s spoken to that heart frequently, exalting Christian family life, and making himself a spokesman for traditional virtue. While this moral stand may contrast with his ruthlessness and personal corruption, it’s worked for him. His strong opposition to the global LGBTQ agenda has even gained him admirers internationally.
Because of this identity, the Church is in a strong position to exercise tangible influence. That this hasn’t happened to any meaningful degree so far is a source of great disappointment.
We should pray that Russian Orthodox leaders rise to the challenge. We should also pray for Vladimir Putin. Pray that his heart be changed. Pray that we may yet see good fruit.
And pray for Ukraine.
A March 8 column by Arielle del Turco of the Family Research Council noted that "any control that Russia or Russian-backed forces have over Ukraine is dangerous to believers not affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church," adding that "Putin has utilized the Russian Orthodox Church to bolster a strong Russian national identity and repeatedly used Russian Orthodox churches to politically benefit the regime and reinforce its authority.
by contrast, CNS' news side has largely censored news of the Russian Orthodox Church's ties to Putin and its support for his war. The only reference to it came far down in a March 14 article by Dimitri Simes, in which he noted that "Leaders in influential institutions such as the Russian Orthodox Church have also endorsed the Kremlin’s actions. During a sermon last week, Patriarch Kirill framed the war as a struggle between supporters of traditional Russian values and those of the liberal West."
It seems like this is one time that CNS' news side should be following the lead of its columnists.
MRC Takes Its War On NewsGuard To Steele Dossier, Planned Parenthood Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's ongoing war on website-rating organization NewsGuard continued in a Feb. 22 post by Brian Bradley:
NewsGuard has reaffirmed its perfect rating of BuzzFeed News, even though the outlet continues to host the bogus Steele dossier on its website.
In an email to MRC, NewsGuard General Manager Matt Skibinski justified his company’s perfect “100/100” rating for BuzzFeed News by noting the five-year timespan since the dossier’s publication and the fact that the dossier article is one “single story.”
Members of the U.S. intelligence community and political enemies of former President Donald Trump used the discredited dossiercompiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, to help build the case for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The investigation cost $25.2 million, according to Fox Business, and paralyzed the country for two years. The Mueller probe also aggravated the political environment in the U.S. and across the world, dominating headlines while other, important news took a backseat.
Even liberal media have broadly rejected the accuracy of the dossier, and Special Counsel John Durham charged the primary source of the dossier with lying to the FBI in November.
But Bradley deliberately ignores the fact that BuzzFeed News never represented the dossier as unimpeachable fact and never vouched for its accuracy. The article on the dossier specifically states that the dossier "includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians," adding that it was published because it was being discussed: "BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government."
By contrast, the MRC repeatedlydefends extremist purveyors of actual, documented misinformation so it has some "victims" to use in its parallel war against "big tech." It has no problem with that misinformation spreading.
Bradley then bashed Skibinski for his response, even though Skibinski really deserves a medal for trying to engage with a bad-faith critic:
MRC asked NewsGuard to explain its BuzzFeed rating, pointing out that the Steele dossier was the focal point of the media’s misreporting about Trump ties to Russia.
The dossier story “was published in January of 2017, more than five years ago and more than a year and a half before NewsGuard first launched our ratings and Nutrition Labels,” Skibinski said. “Moreover, no single story, even one that has recently been published, determines a site’s rating.”
Still, though the dossier remains posted on the BuzzFeed News website without any correction or clarification, NewsGuard’s nutrition label says the outlet both “Regularly corrects or clarifies errors” and “Gathers and presents information responsibly.”
Again, Bradley ignored the fact that BuzzFeed never portrayed the dossier as accurate. After referencing the MRC's previous attacks on NewsGuard, Bradley did quote Skibinski again:
In his most recent email sent Feb. 17, Skibinski complained that MRC was wrong for calling out NewsGuard’s flawed scoring system. Then he abruptly pivoted to mention MRC’s NewsGuard rating, a topic that had nothing to do with the BuzzFeed News inquiry.
“We hope you will be more fair and accurate in your description of NewsGuard's ratings of the many conservative and conservative-leaning outlets that get perfect or high scores based on our criteria in this story than in previous stories, including noting that your own outlet, NewsBusters, continues to score a 92.5 out of 100 points,” Skibinski wrote.
Not gonna happen, Matt. NewsGuard has been declared an enemy of the MRC, and fairness and accuracy no longer matter, if they ever did. Bradley and Co. want NewsGuard destroyed, and they don't particularly care how it gets done.
That fundamental unfairness tried to drag NewsGuard into the right-wing abortion wars, as demonstrated by a Feb. 25 post by Catherine Salgado:
Online “credibility” arbiter NewsGuard strongly favors an organization that kills babies, declaring abortion giant Planned Parenthood credible. Meanwhile, the rating firm gave very negative ratings to three pro-life outlets.
NewsGuard gave abortion giant Planned Parenthood, infamous for killing the unborn, a positive 75/100 rating. It also gave it the green checkmark of credibility. The ratings firm gives green ratings to sites it deems credible and red ratings to sites it considers lacking in “credibility.”
Planned Parenthood had performed 9 million abortions as of July 2021, meaning it has caused one of the biggest genocides in history, per Human Life International. Yet, NewsGuard gave pro-life LifeNews and Live Action websites negative red “credibility” ratings of 30/100. The rating firm gave LifeSiteNews a 17.5/100. NewsGuard has not rated a number of other pro-life and pro-abortion sites.
At no point does Salgado cite anything on any Planned Parenthood website that's misleading, let alone wrong -- it's all about attacking Planned Parenthood for performing thing that are legal under U.S. law and not lying about it. She tacitly admits this later in the post; after noting that NewsGuard's rating states that the group "does not repeatedly publish false content," she huffed in response: "NewsGuard does not seem to take into account the fact that abortion kills unborn human children, which alone makes the act condemnable."
What act? The act of existing? That has nothing whatsoever to do with what NewsGuard does.
Again, Salgado is totally cool with the misinformation published by those anti-abortion sites, insisting that their biased and ideological judgment trumps that of medical professionals and legal authorities:
Live Action received a rating of 30/100, and NewsGuard specifically downgraded the pro-life site for reportedly exposing corruption in Planned Parenthood. NewsGuard describes Live Action as “an anti-abortion group that has deceptively edited videos and made unsubstantiated health claims, particularly in articles that target Planned Parenthood.” The “nutrition label” from NewsGuard slammed abortion pill reversal practices, which have reportedly saved 2,500 lives as of November 2021.
NewsGuard’s label criticized the reversals as “not based on science,” citing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, while simultaneously defending the abortion pill. NewsGuard’s “nutrition labels” for Live Action, LifeNews and LifeSiteNews are lengthy arguments against various perspectives published by the pro-life outlets.
In contrast, the “nutrition label” for Planned Parenthood seemingly favors the abortion giant against the evidence of Planned Parenthood’s selling of aborted babies’ body parts exposed by journalist David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress. NewsGuard’s Planned Parenthood label cites the organization’s claim that Daleiden’s videos were “heavily edited.”
Daleiden's videos were, in fact, heavily edited. Again, ideology trumps facts at the MRC -- which means more hostile, nonsensical attacks on NewsGuard.
NEW ARTICLE: Wayne Allyn Root, Misinformation (And COVID) Superspreader Topic: WorldNetDaily
The misinformation-laden WorldNetDaily columnist is actually proud that he hid a COVID infection from people while on a book tour and that he was likely contagious. Read more >>
MRC Complains That Wash. Post Said GOP Will Hype Inflation -- Then Proves It Right Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Joseph Vazquez complained in a Dec. 29 post:
The Washington Post tried to whip out the generic “Republicans have pounced” cliché in order to spin some of the attention on skyrocketing prices away from President Joe Biden.
The liberal newspaper released a revealing story headlined, “Inflation emerging as top economic challenge in 2022.” Strong consumer demand in addition to ongoing supply chain problems “threaten to prolong sharply rising prices well into 2022, potentially making inflation the premier economic challenge of the new year.” The Postconceded that inflation “defied many economists’ expectations in 2021 by rising at the fastest pace in nearly 40 years,” and that “[e]verything from rent to the price of used cars to groceries” had spiked.
Then The Post tried to make the Biden economy look like a victim of GOP political exploitation: “[T]he White House will be looking at a midterms campaign in which Republicans are primed to pounce on inflation.” [Emphasis added.]
Vazquez linked to a post he wrote in May 2021 making the same complaint. Of course, Vazquez's dismissal of news reports pointing out that Republicans are hyping inflation to bash Biden as nothing but a clice and a narrative is itself a right-wing narrative.
In the ensuing three months, though, Vazquez and the MRC proved the Post completely correct witeh its partisan obsession over inflation, finding ways to blame Biden for inflation at every opportunity and attacking anyone who offered other reasons why. Let's look at how he and the MRC pounced:
That's a lot of pouncing -- and these are just the MRC posts that reference inflation in the headline. A content search would reveal many more examples of Vazquez and crew talking down the economy, something they unironically accused the media of doing when Donald Trump was president.
The MRC loves talking down the economy iunder Biden, and it will continue to do so because it is a right-wing narrative it is obligated to perpetuate. It just doesn't want to be exposed as being caught in the hollow exercise it is. It can't pounce out of the way of taking responsibility.
CNS Cranked Out The Ted Cruz Stenograpnhy Over The Past Two Years Topic: CNSNews.com
If there's one right-wing congressman CNSNews.com loves to quote more than Jim Jordan, it's Sen. Ted Cruz. He loves to be in the news, and CNS loves to devote articles to whatever right-wing talking point du jour he's dishing out. How much? Let's count (we are just counting stenography-focused articles in which Cruz is named in the headline, not all references). We'll start our 2020 count here:
That's right -- Cruz got a whopping 46 articles devoted to him in 2020 -- and that doesn't even cover the entire year. An issue in CNS' search database kept us from reviewing articles in February, March and the first half of April, meaning that CNS racked up that number of Cruz stenography in just nine and a half months.
That's a total of at least 72 articles -- which is more stenography than it did for its favorite right-wing radio host, Mark Levin, last year. (Levin might want to raise some question with CNS over why he's not being fawned over to previous levels.) And as with Levin, nearly all of them lack any sort of pushback by a critic -- it's almost entirely straight stenography.
CNS did have to take a break from Cruz-fluffing in early February to crank out articles attacking Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for highlighting that Cruz effectively tried to have her and other members of Congress killed via the Capitol riot because of his support for overturning the election. CNS also made sure not to criticize Cruz for taking a vacation to Cancun during a freak winter storm in Texas that disrupted power across the state and resulted in the deaths of people; it did complain, however, that Bette Midler tweeted about it.
Most members of Congress would kill to get publicity like this -- so fawning, it's almost as if Cruz had paid CNS to do it.
MRC Wants Info On Ghost Guns To Spread Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Catherine Salgado declared in a Feb. 18 post that ghost guns are not an issue -- and, therefore, videos about them s houldn't be expunged from shouldn't be expunged from YouTube -- because not enough criminals are using them and not enough people are getting killed by them:
In the latest censorship effort to demonize self-defense tools, five Democratic Party senators are pressuring YouTube to remove “ghost gun” videos.
“Ghost guns are unserialized firearms that anyone can get their hands on—without a background check—and put together themselves with a 3D-printer or a do-it-yourself gun-making kit purchased from an unlicensed seller,” the five senators, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), wrote in the letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. “As a result, ghost guns have become the weapon of choice for gun traffickers and convicted felons as well as domestic violent extremists and foreign terrorists.”
The senators insisted that the gun assembly videos violated YouTube’s guidelines and needed to be taken down, asserting “ghost guns” “pose a dangerous and deadly threat to communities.”
Statistics undercut claims from Democrats about the threat of ghost guns. The evidence shows that “ghost guns” account for a very small percentage of weapons seized by law enforcement. For instance, Chicago saw a significantly higher proportion of ghost guns seized in 2020. Still, only 139 out of the 11,258 seized firearms were “ghost guns,” about 1.2 percent of the total, according to The Washington Times. “A 2019 Department of Justice study found that 43% of criminals purchased guns on the black market, but none made their weapons at home,” The Washington Times reported.
Salgado didn't say how many criminals need to be using ghost guns or how many people need to be killed by them before she considers them to be a threat sufficient to be dealt with. Yet it's unambiguous that ghost guns are increasingly linked to crime and death.
But she's enough of a right-wing true believer to invoke the Second Amendment and another right-wing newspaper:
The Washington Examiner explained that the “ghost guns” are “not classified by the government as firearms because they are not fully functioning guns when sold in kits,” meaning that they lack traceable serial numbers. Pro-gun activists see the senators’ demand of YouTube as an attack on the Second Amendment, The Examiner noted.
Salgado did not explain how the Second Amendment preempts the First.
Farah Still Blaming Everyone But Himself For WND's Impending Demise Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah continues to flail and rant as his WorldNetDaily continues to teeter toward extinction, blaming everyone but himself and his business decisions for WND's impending demise.
In his Feb. 21 column, Farah claimed that "In 25 years, WND earned more than $150 million in revenues" -- but he didn't explain where all that money went or why it can't be used now to bolster WND's finances. He also served up a variation on his usual anti-"big tech" ranting:
America's freedom has never faced a greater threat. The Democratic Party leadership is now dominated by openly brazen socialists, extremists, the extremist left, the real "insurrectionists." The Big Media are in the tank for them as never before. And, this time, the biggest and most powerful tech monopolies in the world are censoring dissent as never before, actively destroying the independent media and plotting a putsch for a radical New World Order.
Following the presidential election of 2016, the robber barons of Google-Facebook and company declared war on the independent media, along with free speech and dissent against their radical left-wing agenda. With control over 95% of internet searches and 85% of digital advertising, they began starving WND.
From 2017 through 2019, our revenues were slashed by 80%.
In 2021 it got much, much worse. Google PERMANENTLY DEMONITIZED WND! No kidding! Why did they attack us so ferociously? Easy – because they could. Because they blamed us for the 2016 election results. We have been the canary in coalmine. They have done everything to destroy us!
False -- WND has nobody to blame but itself. Google no longer wants to do business with WND -- and, as a private business, it's under no legal obligation to do business with anyone it doesn't want to -- because it publishes fake news and conspiracy theories, and it has continued to do so even though it's costing WND. But who needs facts when you have fearmongering? And that's exactly what Farah leans into:
Please understand what I am saying to you today. Google and Big Tech are killing us. But the goal of these radicals is much bigger than killing WND. They are aiming to rig the next election when they are facing what everyone knows would otherwise be a shellacking this November. Then they will impose draconian hammerlock control on speech that will pervade the entire internet. No more opposition, no more dissent.
In his March 1 column, Farah whined that "Big Tech controls the media – like a hammerlock, tighter than Communist China," citing as an example how every other news organization points out that there's no evidence that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump and that one website (the UK's Daily Mail, which is actually a right-wing news organization) said they were "unfounded claims." Farah huffed in response: "Unfounded claims. This is Big Tech laying down the law. It doesn't matter how much evidence is provided. There will NEVER be enough evidence provided for Big Tech."
Funny, we remember that there was never enough evidence for WND to accept that Barack Obama was an American citizen. Farah went on to play victim again:
One of Big Tech's first targets years ago, WND has been permanently demonitized and banished from Google. When did it start? When Donald Trump first ran for president! Google controls the narrative. Do you get it? Google is one of the wealthiest corporation in the world.
Big Tech doesn't have a conscience – a sense of freedom or fair play. It's the devil's tool for controlling the American people!
Google employs strict political speech codes designed to determine what is acceptable discourse in the public square – much like what we see on university and college campuses. In the case of Google, these restrictions determine which websites succeed and which fail.
Farah didn't explain why Google is not allowed to create a better search product for its users by deprecating "news" sites that publish fake news and conspiracy theories.
He concluded by sucking up to Trump yet again:
Donald Trump is an American hero for standing up and fighting such evil.
He's running for president (unofficially at this point) and leading the opposition – just the way the Ukrainian people are leading the opposition to the Russian invasion.
Trump is a liar, but sadly, Farah is too invested in his lies to admit he's been played.
Farah spraed similar apocalytic arguments in his column the next day:
We need to respond collectively and individually as if we are in a new war of independence, a new fight for liberty, a new battle for the mind, heart and soul of America.
Don't let the first domino fall, or it will start a chain reaction whose consequences will be catastrophic. Don't let WND be the first domino.
Rally around the first independent media site – not only to preserve it in this crisis, but to make it more vibrant through growth.
I'm calling for your urgent help. Speak out, support WND, support other independent voices and journalists – especially those with integrity and commitment to freedom, independence and a Judeo-Christian worldview.
Recently, Google permanently demonetized WND. I'm sure they saw it as a death blow to the 25-year-old company – the final straw.
I speak with candor and urgency. We will not sell out or just fade away.
He added: "We had to disband our line of bestselling books, WND Books – because Big Tech, of which Amazon is a part, was killing it. Quickly following it, they killed off our successful line of movies, WND Films." Farah offered no proof that thte book or movie division were "killed" by "Big Tech" or even any evidence these divisions made money; as we recall, publishing the book of an anti-Semitic white nationalist had much more to do with killing the book division than anything "Big Tech" purportedly did.
The really sad thing? Farah's idea of "selling out" is to stop publishing fake news and conspiracy theories and act like a responsible news organization. Clinging to that belief would seem to all but guarantee that he and WND will fade away.
MRC Psaki-Bashing, Doocy-Fluffing Watch, Catch-Up Edition Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has been a massive generator of misleading right-wing narratives that it's been way too long since we checked in on Curtis Houck's obsession with fluffing Peter Doocy and denigrating Jen Psaki. So we're going to go way back to see what we missed -- back to Jan. 26, when Doocy returned to his usual hostile, biased questioning of Psaki after the little kerfuffle over President Bideni nsulting him (which the MRC denied being triggered by despite cranking out days of content about it):
Aside from a question by the White House Correspondents Association president, it was back to business Tuesday in the White House Briefing Room a day after President Biden called Fox’s Peter Doocy “a stupid son of a bitch” and then called him to hash it out. Doocy led the way in shifting focus back to the news, battling Press Secretary Jen Psaki over illegal immigration and the crisis at the Russia-Ukraine border.
Unlike, say, CNN’s Jim Acosta or any other liberal journalist, Doocy didn’t dwell on what Biden said and went straight to Psaki with the news of exclusive video from his colleague Bill Melugin at the U.S.-Mexico border: “Why is it that large numbers of single adult men are being released into the United States just hours after being apprehended at the southern border?”
Houck then touted Doocy asking Psaki a question that hasn't exactly aged well:
Staying on Ukraine, Doocy wanted to know what the White House made of a BuzzFeed report that, in his words, cited “a source close to the Ukrainian president” “think[s]” Americans who’ve evacuated Ukraine “are safer” back there “than in Los Angeles.”
Psaki ignored the comparison, instead saying the evacuations are part of “always...mak[ing] decisions that are in the security interests of people who are serving as diplomats around the world” and, based on the number of Russian soldiers near the Ukrainian border, it “sounds pretty dangerous to me.”
Nope, didn't age well at all.
In a Feb. 11 post, Houck gushed over biased questions from a different Fox employee, Jacqui Heinrich, which also didn't age very well given subsequent events:
During a tense Friday White House press briefing in which National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned Americans to leave Ukraine in the next 24 to 48 hours ahead of a likely Russian invasion, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich brought the heat to both Sullivan and Press Secretary Jen Psaki about whether President Biden still believes pre-invasion sanctions are “stupid” and whether a bloody war in Ukraine would put what Heinrich later called “a black mark on this administration.”
She also asked a key question of, “if we don't know if Putin has made up his mind, why are we hearing this warning from Jake Sullivan that Americans should get out ideally in the next 24 to 48 hours,” which Psaki conceded as stark but necessary to preemptively get ahead of an invasion as a bloody war featuring airstrikes would make life “very difficult” for Americans.
Houck ridiculously headlined that post "Jacqui Swagger" -- as if "swagger" was a more important attribute for a reporter than, say, asking fair questions that don't push a political agenda. Then again, it probably is for Houck.
While many of her colleagues and their respective networks have refused to cover the bombshell news in the Durham investigation, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich brought it up during Monday’s White House press briefing, repeatedly pressing Principal Deputy Press Secretary and former MSNBCer Karine Jean-Pierre for answers on whether Team Biden supports spying on political opponents.
Of course, Jean-Pierre wanted nothing to do with her queries about a filing from Special Counsel John Durham that an indicted Clinton campaign attorney paid to have a tech company surveil the computers of Trump Tower and the Trump White House during and after the 2016 election.
Two days after Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre ducked questions from Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich about the< bombshell filing in the John Durham investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, Heinrich posed the same questions to Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday and, not surprisingly, she received the same result.
Psaki stuck to her talking points while acknowledging Heinrich tried to ask Jean-Pierre two days earlier: “Again, I know you asked my colleague a few questions about this the other day, but I would point you — any questions about this to the Department of Justice.”
Heinrich aptly tried again with the astute tactic of talking in a broader manner about whether such allegations, if true, are acceptable.
Houck was back to cheering Heinrich for asking more biaised, not-aging-well questions on Russia and Ukraine in a Feb. 21 post, upon which Houck stuck the similarly ridiculous headline "Friday Spice":
With no Monday edition of The Psaki Show due to President’s Day, we’ll look back to Friday and how Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich not only hammered Press Secretary Jen Psaki over Team Biden’s refusal to sanction Russia ahead of a likely invasion of Ukraine, but drew Psaki’s scorn for wondering whether the U.S. is waiting for Ukranians to be slaughtered before financially crippling Russia.
Heinrich has hounded the White House for weeks on this matter, including one instance when Biden said asking about pre-invasion sanctions was “a stupid question.” And, as we saw over the weekend, Ukrainian President Zelensky voiced Heinrich’s concerns and slammed both the U.S. and NATO allies for thinking the threat of sanctions is a proper use of deterrence.
Psaki replied with the illogical claim that “sanctions are meant to be a deterrent” and leveling them “now” would actually give the Russians a reason to invade.
Put simply, someone’s gaslighting when it comes to the definition of deterrence.
And someone's clearly gaslighting when he portrays Doocy and Heinrich as fair and balanced reporters who aren't pushing partisan agendas.