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The Truth Hurts, Doesn't It?

The MRC is offended at being singled out for being conservative, not to mention the lack of charges against Hillary Clinton over Travelgate.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/22/2000

The Media Research Center has a labeling problem.

An item in the Oct. 19 CyberAlert starts out by slamming the Associated Press: "The AP style book: Add ideological labels to a conservative group but not a far-left one." That insult out of the way, we get to our story:

"A Wednesday AP story, about Jim Lehrer’s performance as moderator, referred to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting as simply a "media watchdog group," but described the MRC as a "conservative watchdog group," the MRC’s Tim Graham and Bonnie Langborgh noticed.

"The MRC is a conservative group and we don’t hide it, but FAIR is further to the left than we are to the right and should also be labeled." We welcome MRC's candor in admitting that it indeed has an agenda. Now if we can just get them to admit their lies.

Needless to say, the MRC offers no supporting evidence for its statement about FAIR being "further to the left than we are to the right." But FAIR does come to different conclusions than MRC about a couple of issues; after all, if you don't agree with Brent Bozell, you must be "far left."

(Meanwhile, it's interesting to note, WorldNetDaily is trying to pass itself off as an "independent newssite," which is even more misleading that MRC calling FAIR "far left.")

One issue on which MRC and FAIR diverge is Rush Limbaugh. In 1994, FAIR issued a report detailing errors Limbaugh spread through his radio show, books and then-TV show. (For a current accounting of Limbaugh errors, check out Rush Vs. Reality.) Bozell rushed, so to speak, to Limbaugh's defense:

"Let's put the FAIR manifesto in proper perspective. It documents 43 "errors" in its report. Imagine for a minute that all of these were documented, unquestionable goofs. Rush has been on the national airwaves for six years, adding up to more than 4,000 hours of radio shows. His television show adds another 200 hours. Add more than a year of "The Limbaugh Letter" and two best-selling books. Add hundreds of print and electronic interviews. Total it up and you might have a million sentences, all on the record, uttered by Rush. What reporter (or president) wouldn't trade for a record of 43 misstatements in an output that prodigious?"

Can anyone imagine Bozell applying the same standard to Al Gore? Nope.

Bozell then went on to trash FAIR -- "And who appointed FAIR as the guardians of accuracy, anyway?" -- by noting the group promoted a now-discredited study about links between domestic violence and the Super Bowl. The MRC's favorite study, of course, is a survey of Washington reporters that used such a small statistical sample that the results -- 89 percent of those surveyed voted for Clinton in 1992, to quote its most famous conclusion -- are questionable. But MRC won't question them because the results fit nicely into their agenda.

FAIR also released a study in 1998 that put a crimp in MRC's "liberal media" drumbeat. Among the study's conclusions:

  • On select issues from corporate power and trade to Social Security and Medicare to health care and taxes, journalists are actually more conservative than the general public.
  • Journalists are mostly centrist in their political orientation.
  • The minority of journalists who do not identify with the "center" are more likely to identify with the "right" when it comes to economic issues and to identify with the "left" when it comes to social issues.

Meanwhile, MRC proves in the very same CyberAlert why it gets automatically tagged with the "conservative" label -- it refuses to hold conservatives to the same standards it holds liberals. In an item criticizing the major TV networks for not giving what MRC considers appropriate air time to the release of independent counsel Robert Ray's report on Travelgate and Hillary Clinton's involvement in the mini-scandal, it quotes the entire text of a Fox News Channel report on the issue, presumably to show how it's done. That report quotes law professor Jonathan Turley as saying: "It essentially says that she satisfies all of the components of an indictment and is ultimately safe from trial simply by the discretion of the prosecutor. That’s pretty damning."

No, that's pretty wrong. As even Fox's own news report indicates, while Ray called some of Hillary's statements about the 1993 firings of staff members in the White House travel office "factually inaccurate," he decided not to prosecute because there’s is a lack of evidence she intended the firings to happen. While the ConWeb would like nothing better than to see Hillary brought up on perjury charges just before her Senate election, Ray, unlike Turley, seems to understand the difference between "factually inaccurate" and outright lying, and that if you can't prove intent, you have no business filing perjury charges in the first place.

If this statement had been made about a Republican, MRC would have been all over it. But since in MRC's eyes there is no such thing as exculpatory evidence as far as the Clintons are concerned, it slides approvingly by.

Accuracy in Media's Reed Irvine doesn't understand that difference either, as evidenced by his Oct. 20 commentary. "Despite such blatant lies ... (Ray) gave her immunity ..." he harumphs, also missing out on the difference between prosecutorial immunity and insufficient evidence. Irvine also goes after Ray, tsk-tsking that "Last June he said she was entitled to a presumption of innocence because she had not been convicted."

You mean the wife of the president has the same constitutional right to the presumption of innocence as everyone else in this country? What a concept. Too bad people like Irvine and Bozell don't seem to believe the Clintons are entitled to it.

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