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Noel Sheppard vs. The Truth

The NewsBusters associate editor just can't stand it when people report the facts about conservatives. As a bonus, Sheppard really doesn't want critics of conservatives to say anything at all.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/10/2012

For someone who has issued as many corrections as NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard has in the past year, you'd think he'd be more concerned about the accuracy of what he writes.

Instead, the opposite is occurring: Sheppard is attacking others for reporting the truth about conservatives. That would seem to contradict the "Tell the Truth!" mantra of the organization he works for, the Media Research Center.

Sheppard used an April 26 NewsBusters post to throw a fit over MSNBC's Martin Bashir pointing out that "the sort of comedy" that Rush Limbaugh enjoys "generally is sexist, homophobic, and racist." For all of his fulminating -- the most he can muster is bashing MSNBC as "a channel that claims to be a news network" -- Sheppard made no effort whatsoever to disprove Bashir's assertion. Perhaps that's because he knows Bashir is right.

Racist? Check. Homophobic? Check. Sexist? And how!

If Sheppard couldn't deny the truth of Bashir's words, why was he attacking Bashir? Because he told the truth about Limbaugh, and Sheppard is apparently incapable of accepting the truth about a right-wing hero.

In a May 13 post, Noel Sheppard complained about "the [Washington] Post's recent smear of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney." That's a reference to the Post's story about Romney's boarding-school years, in which he took part in a forced hair-cutting of a student suspected to be gay.

Where, exactly, is the "smear"? Sheppard doesn't say. After all, not even Romney himself has challenged the accuracy of the story. The Post is standing by the story, with ombudsman Patrick Pexton pointing out that its reporters talked to five different sources about the hair-cutting incident.

In other words, Sheppard is attacking the Post for reporting the truth. Since when is telling the truth a "smear"?

Sheppard had a hilarious little freakout in an Aug. 13 NewsBusters post, complaining that CNN host Soledad O'Brien read a quote from a congressman taken from a story on the website Talking Points Memo:

Can CNN's Soledad O'Brien make her sources any more apparent than she did Monday night?

While filling in for Anderson Cooper, O'Brien was actually caught on screen looking at an article from the left-wing website Talking Points Memo to assist her in a heated debate with Romney campaign senior adviser Barbara Comstock (video follows with commentary):


So, a CNN anchor with her own daily program used a far-left website for her show prep before talking to a Republican guest.

Do you need any more evidence of just how far to the left the self-described "most trusted name in news" is or why its ratings continue to tank?

Sheppard never disputed the accuracy of an information in the TPM article in question, nor does he prove his assertion that TPM is "far-left." While TPM may be liberal-leaning, it also has an excellent journalistic reputation (unlike, say, Sheppard or any of his MRC cohorts). And it's certainly not as ideologically driven as, say, NewsBusters, which would certainly reject any description of it as "far right" even though that's exactly what it is under Sheppard's definition.

In a Sept. 9 NewsBusters post, Sheppard was just as apoplectic that CBS' Norah O'Donnell highlighted Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's claim about running an implausibly fast marathon, Sheppard declared that the marathon in question happened "22 years ago," huffily adding: "Our nation is struggling with stubbornly high unemployment and spiraling budget deficits that threaten our very existence, and O'Donnell spent time quizzing the Republican vice presidential nominee about his marathon time when he was in college."

Sheppard went on to rant that O'Donnell "actually equated the error to Al Gore saying he invented the internet." Sheppard repeated himself later in the post, saying that O'Donnell "compared his error -- about a marathon time from 22 years ago! -- to another politician boasting about inventing the internet," huffily adding: "Does O'Donnell really think someone's time in a race is as consequential as an invention that has radically changed our very way of life?"

Of course, Gore never said he "invented the internet" -- he said that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet" as a congressman, a claim the Media Research Center has misinterpreted numerous times. And as ConWebWatch detailed in one of the very first items posted here more than 12 years ago, the folks who did invent the Internet, like Vinton Cerf, credit Gore for his role in forwarding it.

Sheppard has regularly lied about Al Gore, so it's no surprise that he would cling to this lie for so long. Ironically, eight days later, Sheppard was ranting about how the media have been "misrepresenting" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's remark that "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

At no point did he disprove what O'Donnell said -- he just attacked her for telling the truth.

Sheppard used a Sept. 12 post to attack a Salon article for daring to point out the obvious about Fox's anti-Muslim bias. Sheppard declared the Salon article's headline that Fox has "stoked Islamophobia" to be "truly absurd," adding that the article is "stocked with misinformation about America's leading cable news channel."

But at no point does Sheppard make any effort to disprove the Islamophobia claims -- instead, he tries to attack the messenger:

What was the author's proof? A poll by the left-leaning Brookings Institution.

How convenient.

Lean next gave some examples of Fox's supposed anti-Muslim bias featuring Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer, before citing work done by George Soros's shills at Media Matters and Think Progress.

I bet you knew that was coming.

We knew it was coming, all right -- that Sheppard would have nothing with which to respond to the article but lazy ad hominem attacks. At no point does Sheppard prove anything in the Salon article wrong regarding Fox's Islamophobia, giving him no basis whatsoever to assert that the article contains "misinformation."

Sheppard went on to claim that Salon wasn't "concerned about checking the facts" regarding a claim that Fox News chief Roger Ailes has a large security detail and an office with blast-resistent windows. But all Sheppard does is note that Ailes has denied the claim, not that the claim was disproven. And the statement from Fox News Sheppard obtained simply echoes Ailes' denial and doesn't disprove anything.

Rooting for censorship

When Sheppard isn't attacking people for telling the truth, he's cheering on those who don't want critics of conservatives to say anything at all.

Noel Sheppard proclaimed in the headline of a Jan. 18 NewsBusters post: "Chris Christie Calls WaPo's Eugene Robinson an Ignoramus: 'Guys Like That Shouldn’t Have a Platform to Speak'." That's in reference to Christie attacking Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson for criticizing Christie's weight. At no point does Sheppard criticize Christie for saying this, so he obviously endorses the sentiment.

Sheppard wrote an Aug. 12 post headlined "National Review's Rich Lowry Destroys MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Meet the Press." In fact, all Lowry did is argue with Maddow over her accurate point that Paul Ryan's proposed budget has the same $700 million in cuts to Medicare that was in President Obama's health care reform plan.

Sheppard followed that with a post later the same day proudly noting that his post was reposted on the Drudge Report, followed by Maddow tweeting that this will result in an "onslaught of ALL CAPS swearing misspelled tweets & emails informing me that I am gay." Rather than fret that he encouraged gay-bashing, he's proud of it: "Well, maybe if she had answered Lowry's simple question concerning whether or not she supports the $700 billion of Medicare cuts in ObamaCare she could look forward to praise for her appearance."

But Sheppard wasn't done: He wrote another post rooting for censorship.

In that post, he noted that CNN's Howard Kurtz asked "libtalker" Stephanie Miller if she was worried that she and "some of the few liberal national voices on talk radio be drowned out in this election" but right-wing radio hosts. Sheppard called it "a question that most right-thinking Americans pray the answer is 'Yes,'" adding: "you can rest assured millions of Americans across the fruited plain hope the fallacious propaganda being spread by the likes of Miller and Schultz will indeed be drowned out. I'm not sure based on the question that would make Kurtz happy, but count me amongst them."

Remember, the Media Research Center employs Sheppard as NewsBusters' associate editor. Is rooting for censorship and encouraging gay-bashing really appropriate behavior from someone on the MRC payroll?

It's a bit unusual for a right-wing columnist to so openly embrace censorship, but there you go. Sheppard, it appears, is just that breed of cat.

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