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The Unbalanced Barbara Hollingsworth

The CNS senior editor isn't big on reporting both sides of the story or disclosing the right-wing nature of her sources. She also let a Scientology-linked attack on psychiatric drugs stand unchallenged.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/16/2014

Barbara Hollingsworth

Barbara Hollingsworth joined in 2013 from the Washington Examiner, the publication owned by conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz that shut down news operations last year in order to become even more of a conservative opinion journal than it already was.

Even though Hollingsworth worked for the Examiner and its predecessor publication on the opinion side of things for the previous 25 years, she serves as a senior editor at CNS and is allowed to write things presented as "news." In fact, what Hollingsworth mostly does is present opinion in a "news" format that lacks even the slightest semblance of the balance and disclosure her employer, the Media Research Center, demands of other news organizations.

That inexperience has come back to bite her. In October 2013, CNS published an article by Hollingsworth claiming that "The latest version of the House-passed continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government until December includes funding for Planned Parenthood (PP), the nation’s largest abortion provider."

Within a day, however, the article mysteriously disappeared. The link to the article has gone dead, and the article has disappeared from Hollingsworth's CNS archive. CNS has provided no explanation why Hollingsworth's article was deleted, but given that nobody else was reporting the claim, it's a fair assumption that the article was false.

That's just one example in Hollingsworth's lack of balance and fairness, which is usually just egregiously biased with the occasional foray into misleading and false claims.

Promoting right-wing Catholics

Hollingsworth kicked off a Dec. 3, 2013, CNS article by stating:

A number of prominent lay Catholics are taking issue with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s statement on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that were it not for the Obamacare's treatment of abortion, undocumented immigrants and provisions that require they violate the "dictates of our conscience," Catholics would be among the loudest “cheerleaders” for Obamacare.

But Hollingsworth quoted only right-wing Catholics who criticize Dolan. One of those critics is Michael Voris, the founder of something called Church Militant TV and who has claimed in a video that "Only virtuous people should be allowed to vote," specifically "faithful Catholics." Voris claimed in that same video that "The only way to run a country is by benevolent dictatorship: a Catholic monarch who protects his people from themselves and bestows on them what they need, not necessarily what they want."

Another of the critics Hollingsworth cited is her boss, Brent Bozell. She quoted nobody who spoke in support of Dolan.

Hollingsworth might want to check her employer's mission statement, which calls for her to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story." Or has Hollingsworth decided that any support for Obamacare is somehow illegitimate?

Later that month, Hollingsworth wrote:

Faith in Public Life, a group that has been funded by atheist billionaire George Soros, is behind an attack on The Catholic University of America (CUA) for accepting a $1 million donation from the Charles Koch Foundation, says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

“The real story here is not the money being given to Catholic University by successful entrepreneurs; it is the source of the money being given to those who initiated the attack.

"To wit: Faith in Public Life spearheaded this highly politicized assault, and it is funded by left-wing zealot George Soros,” said Donohue, who praised CUA President John Garvey for “wisely standing his ground.”

“Soros is an atheist billionaire who is no friend of the Catholic community. In fact, he funds causes that the Catholic Church works hard to oppose: abortion, euthanasia, drug legalization, and many other radical initiatives,” Donohue said.

In 2008, Faith in Public Life received $200,000 from Soros’ Open Society Institute, according to the institute's IRS filing. (See 990.pdf)

Patrick Reilly, president of the The Cardinal Newman Society, agreed. "Faith in Public Life is a political organization that uses the Church as a vehicle to further its political aims." he told "For that organization to tell Catholic University what to do is like a parishioner who has not been to church in 10 years telling the pastor what to do.

"This is nothing but a political attack on the Koch Foundation," Reilly noted, adding that Faith in Public Life "is not looking to build up the Church."

Not only did Hollingsworth make no apparent effort to permit Faith in Public Life respond to the attacks from Donohue and the Cardinal Newman Society, she failed to disclose that her boss, Bozell, is on the Catholic League's board of advisers as well as the Cardinal Newman Society board.

Hollingsworth devoted a March 21 CNS article to an interview with the Catholic League's William Donohue in which he promoted his boycott of Samuel Adams and Guinness beers for not sponsoring St. Patrick's Day parades in Boston and New York because parade organizers refused to let gays march.

Hollingsworth again failed to disclose that Bozell is on the Catholic League's board of advisers. She did make a grudging stab at fairness this time, though: The final two paragraphs of her 26-paragraph article noted comments from, or attempts to contact, the brewers Donohue is targeting.

What Hollingsworth fails to mention, of course, is that her boss, Brent Bozell, is on the advisory board of Donohue's group.

Hiding the facts

Those non-journalistic traits -- lack of full disclosure and refusal to tell the side of the story she doesn't agree with -- are the defining traits of Hollingsworth's so-called reporting for CNS.

Hollingsworth did her best to puff right-wing activist Janice Shaw Crouse, benignly describing her as "a social scientist and expert on women’s issues" in a Jan. 16 CNS article devoted exclusively to Crouse's attacks on a report on women’s economic status.

But is Crouse who Hollingsworth claims she is? Public Eye notes that Crouse majored in speech and English in college, and that her doctoral dissertation in communications theory at State University of New York at Buffalo was on "the decidedly secular topic of who won the Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford 1976 televised presidential debates."

In other words, Crouse has no formal training in sociology, which one would think would be a prerequisite to being a "social scientist."

Hollingsworth's "social scientist" description of Crouse comes before a description of her that offers a clue to her ideology -- "executive director of the Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute" -- which, in turn, provides another example of Hollingsworth's bias.

Hollingsworth also played hide-the-agenda in a Jan. 21 CNS article:

Any discussion of Obamacare’s “contraception mandate” must include the fact that the most commonly used emergency contraceptives “can cause the death of a human embryo,” according to a new report by the Washington-based Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Hollingsworth never describes the Charlotte Lozier Institute as anything other other than to describe it as "Washington-based," which conservatives usually consider to be a bad thing.

But the institute's website has the answer: it's "the education and research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List," a political action committee that donates money to anti-abortion candidates. Both organizations are opposed to contraception in general and emergency contraception in particular.

Because Hollingsworth is a lazy reporter, she made no effort to obtain other points of view -- she's effectively writing a press release for the Lozier Institute. Thus, she ignored that researchers and the National Institutes of Health have found that contrary to what the Lozier Institute claims, emergency contraceptives do not cause abortion of an embryo.

Hollingsworth devoted a Jan. 3 CNS article to the views of Faith2Action's Janet Porter on the "Duck Dynasty" imbroglio. Needless to say, Hollingsworth didn't mention Porter's history of hate and lies.

As ConWebWatch has documented, Porter has been a promoter of conspiracy theories about Barack Obama's birth certificate, even showing up in WorldNetDaily's factually challenged birther documentary. In addition, Porter has used her public platforms -- most notably her now-discontinued WND column -- to promote numerous falsehoods about Obama and others.

It says something about CNS that Hollingsworth considers such a mendacious hater like Porter to be a quotable source for a "news" article.

Regurgitating global warming distortions

Hollingsworth proclaimed in a Jan. 28 CNS article:

Dr. Don Easterbrook – a climate scientist and glacier expert from Washington State who correctly predicted back in 2000 that the Earth was entering a cooling phase – says to expect colder temperatures for at least the next two decades.

Easterbrook’s predictions were “right on the money” seven years before Al Gore and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for warning that the Earth was facing catastrophic warming caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide, which Gore called a “planetary emergency.”

“When we check their projections against what actually happened in that time interval, they’re not even close. They’re off by a full degree in one decade, which is huge. That’s more than the entire amount of warming we’ve had in the past century. So their models have failed just miserably, nowhere near close. And maybe it’s luck, who knows, but mine have been right on the button,” Easterbrook told

“For the next 20 years, I predict global cooling of about 3/10ths of a degree Fahrenheit, as opposed to the one-degree warming predicted by the IPCC,” said Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University and author of 150 scientific journal articles and 10 books, including “Evidence Based Climate Science,” which was published in 2011.

There's lots that Hollingsworth has gotten wrong here, starting with her presumption that Easterbrook is right about global cooling.

Skeptical Science has demonstrated how Easterbrook's predictions of cooling contradict he actual temperatures that have been observed.

Another thing Hollingsworth got wrong: uncritically repeating Easterbrook's claim that the IPCC predicted "one-degree warming." As Skeptical Science points out, the IPCC served up numerous analyses of temperature predictions, and Easterbrook cherry-picked one of them:

  • He chose a figure which represented model simulations of temperature responses only to greenhouse gas changes, which neglects for example the temperature response to the cooling effects of aerosols.
  • He chose a single model run with an anomalous temperature spike in 2011.
  • He only presented the data from 2000 to 2011, which concealed the fact that the temperature spike in 2011 was a short-term anomaly.
  • He exaggerated his distorted IPCC temperature rise by a factor of two.

    Thus Easterbrook's claim that the IPCC TAR projected a 1°C global surface warming from 2000 to 2010 was not even remotely accurate.

As per usual, Hollingsworth couldn't be bothered to seek out any alternative views. Indeed, Hollingsworth even shared one fawning question she asked Easterbrook: “How does it feel to have been right?” If Hollingsworth had done any basic research before her interview, she would have known not to ask such a stupid question.

Hollingsworth served as stenographer for another right-wing activist group's global warming-denying claims in a July 22 CNS article. This time, she uncritically repeated attacks from the Institute for Energy Research that a new report warning of the dangers of climate change "is just another attempt by economic and political elites to impose a carbon tax on Americans."

Hollingsworth not only failed to obtain any response to IER's criticism, she failed to disclose that IER has strong ties to the energy industry, including donations from ExxonMobil and Koch-affilated interests.

Such ties and funding would seem to counter Hollingsworth's implication that IER's criticism is objective and not agenda-driven, but she doesn't want you to know about it.

Hollingsworth performed her stenography services once again in a Sept. 24 CNS article, repeating a claim by global warming denier Patrick Michael that this is the 18th year of “no significant warming trend in surface average temperature."

Since Hollingsworth is in stenography mode, she doesn't tell her readers that Michaels has a history of getting things wrong or that his central claim -- there has been no global warming for 18 years -- is misleading. Michael's claim relies on cherry-picked data and choosing an arbitrary starting point; meanwhile, the long-term trend demonstrates continued global warming.

Hollingsworth also gullibly swallowed Michaels' assertion of Arctic ice: “And if you take a close look at the Arctic data, it appears the decline stopped somewhere around 2005/2006, which means we’ve almost had ten years without any net loss in Arctic ice." In fact, Arctic ice remains near record lows.

Writing press releases

A Jan. 9 CNS article by Hollingsworth is, for all intents and purposes, a press release for the right-wing American Action Forum:

Regulations that went into effect in 2013 cost Americans $112 billion – or $447 million for each of the 251 days the federal government was open - according to a study by the American Action Forum (AAF), which predicts that the regulatory burden will increase to $143 billion in 2014.

“That’s in part because they’re going to finalize a lot of the big proposals that they had this year and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is going to regulate existing greenhouse gases from stationary sources for the first time, and we recognize there’ll be a big price tag for that,” Sam Batkins, AAF’s research director, told

“And in January, they are going to finalize new rules for cooling water intake structures for power plants to preserve aquatic wildlife, and we’re also going to see the final push of Dodd-Frank and Affordable Care Act implementation. There are two notable Affordable Care Act rules that will be finalized.”

Not only does Hollingsworth fail to mention the AAF's political bias -- it's headed by right-leaning economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin -- she also can't be bothered to solicit reaction to the study from anyone who might have a different view. AAF's Batkin is the only person quoted in the story, making it seem all the more like a press release.

Hollingsworth cranked out another one-source wonder in a Jan. 23 article, in which she uncritically promotes a proposed Republican National Committee resolution stating that "Candidates who stay silent on pro-life issues do not identify with key voters, fail to alert voters to Democrats’ extreme pro-abortion stances, and have lost their elections." The only person Hollingsworth quoted in the article is the author of the resolution, and she made no effort to seek out an alternative view.

Hollingsworth struck again in a May 29 CNS article regurgitating "eight pervasive 'myths' about the Affordable Care Act," as claimed by the right-wing National Center for Policy Analysis. Hollingsworth simply takes the NCPA's word for their claims and makes no apparent effort to seek out any response.

Scientology-linked attack on psychiatric drugs

Hollingsworth devoted a Sept. 4 CNS article to Dr. Bart Billings, "a retired Army psychologist who has treated thousands of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder," who claims that "there is 'a direct correlation' between the increased use of psychiatric medications to treat PTSD and the high rate of military suicides."

As per usual, Hollingsworth failed to allow anyone to rebut Billings' views. Perhaps she should have. This is how she ended the lengthy article:

Billings was the recipient of the 2014 Human Rights Award by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which has produced a documentary, “The Hidden Agenda,” on the use of use of psychiatric drugs in the military.

Hollingsworth didn't mention that CCHR was created by the Church of Scientology with the goal of attacking the field of psychiatry. Despite the name, as Stephen Wiseman points out, it's not a human rights organization at all.

Meanwhile, the CCHR has returned CNS' love, reprinting Hollingsworth's article on its own website.

Ironically, earlier this year, Hollingsworth's CNS colleague Penny Starr criticized U.S. Health and Human Services and Planned Parenthood officials for holding an event about birth control at the Church of Scientology’s National Affairs Office in Washington, D.C.

CNS certainly knows what Scientology is all about. So why is it promoting a Scientology-linked attack on psychiatry? And why did Hollingsworth think that such an attack was not only newsworthy but worthy of standing without a response?

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