Newsbuster Brent Baker, Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center, complains:
Network Reporters and Sunday Hosts Rue Increased Deficit from Tax Compromise, As If Not Hiking Taxes is a 'Cost'
Nearly 80 percent of the $858 billion "cost" of the compromise tax bill signed Friday by President Barack Obama is, per a Congressional Research Service estimate, from the $675 billion over the next ten years the government would have received if income tax rates were raised, a perspective widely adopted by network reporters and hosts who assumed just keeping rates at their current levels should be counted as a "cost" to the national debt and annual deficits.
That paragraph is a doozy, but it boils down to this: Brent Baker thinks that the deficit impact of tax cuts should be ignored; that they magically don't count. Or something. Anyway: Acknowledging that tax cuts have an impact on the budget deficit demonstrates bias!
These people are not to be taken seriously.
Brent Baker uses a September 8 NewsBusters post to attack ABC's Christiane Amanpour for allegedly serving as a "public relations agent" to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf by spending "several hours" with him for an interview. Baker claimed that during the interview, Rauf "warned, as he did on Wednesday's Larry King Live, that if he doesn't get his way Muslims will murder Americans." Baker added: "Amanpour, however, didn't describe that as a protection racket or suggest he's employing blackmail."
That might be a valid concern if that's what Rauf is doing -- but it isn't. Baker is merely parroting the right-wing line that Rauf is threatening America with terrorist attacks if he's not able to build the Park51 Islamic center, and ignoring the fact that officials such as Gen. David Petraeus have said pretty much the same thing as Rauf regarding the national security implications of anti-Muslim protests.
In effect, what Baker is demanding is that Amanpour tell a lie by twisting Rauf's words to conform to Baker's political agenda.
Baker, by the way, is no low-level NewsBusters blogger
That a top MRC official wants the media to spread lies says all too much about the standard of "media research" at the MRC.
Propose a law or government regulation aimed at protecting the environment, and it's a safe bet that the right-wing media will respond by blasting intrusive "nanny state" policies that tell people how to live instead of letting them decide for themselves, and insisting that if people really care about the environment, the glorious free market will take care of it.
When Washington DC, for example, instituted a plastic bag tax designed to reduce number of bags clogging local rivers and streams, the good folks at Fox News denounced the measure as "downright ridiculous."
Now, I don't tend to agree with the claims that the free market will take care of all of our problems, or that the government discouraging the use of environmentally-destructive products is an unbearable infringement on individual liberty. But at least those positions are understandable. They don't (necessarily) indicate a hatred for the planet.
But what happens when the market provides environmentally-friendly products, and individuals make the decision to purchase those products? The right heaps derision upon them.
Just this morning, Glenn Beck & Co. mocked reusable grocery bags. Not, mind you, governmentally-mandated reusable grocery bags -- the bags themselves, and the people who use them. See, "real men" don't use them; they use "as much plastic as possible."
Then there's the Toyota Prius. For some reason, conservative media figures are blinded by rage whenever they encounter a Prius.
Confirming her membership in Manhattan's liberal elite, Katie Couric boasted on Tuesday's Late Show that she plans to follow Tom Friedman's admonition, that in refusing to move away from oil "we have met the enemy and he is us," and so she's realized she "should" buy a Toyota Prius, the favorite of conspicuously superior liberals, or at least a hybrid. Couric recounted how her daughter told her "'we should turn in the car we have' and 'get a Prius or a hybrid.' And I said, 'you know, Ellie, we should do that.' And we're going to look into it."
What the heck? Did a Prius run over Brent Bozell's dog? What's wrong with a private citizen deciding she should buy a fuel-efficient car?
I'm starting to think the right-wing media doesn't love free markets so much as they hate the environment. How else to explain their gleeful mockery of individual decisions to use reusable plastic bags and drive fuel-efficient cars?
Newsbuster Brent Baker complains:
Not the biggest deal, but emblematic of how the Washington press corps consider anyone to the right of center, no matter if barely so, to be a "conservative," while anyone who strays at all from a perfect liberal line is not worthy of an ideological label.
Setting up Sunday's Face the Nation, CBS's Bob Schieffer described guest Evan Bayh simply as "the Indiana Democrat" while tagging Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is every bit, if not more, off the conservative reservation as Bayh is off the liberal one, as a "conservative Republican."
Baker didn't provide a shred of evidence for his claim that Graham and Bayh are equally divergent from their parties' ideological mainstream. Turns out there's good reason to describe Graham as a "conservative Republican" and Bayh merely as a "Democrat": Evan Bayh is not particularly liberal, while Lindsay Graham is a conservative Republican.
Political scientists Jeff Lewis and Keith Poole rank each member of Congress in order from most liberal to least liberal based on the votes they cast. For the 111th Senate, Lewis and Poole find that Bayh has the 59th most liberal voting record, while Graham's is tied for 83rd. For the 110th Senate, Bayh was the 51st most liberal, while Graham was 88th. For the 109th, Bayh was 28th most liberal, while Graham was 94th. For the 108th, Bayh was 42nd most liberal and Graham was 92nd.
So for every Senate in which they both served, Evan Bayh's voting record placed him far closer to the center of the Senate than Lindsay Graham. Bayh's voting record has never placed him among the most most liberal Senators; Graham's has typically placed him among the most conservative.
Maybe Baker is confused about this because Graham is often -- and inaccurately -- described by the media as "moderate"?
I think I'm starting to understand why the media criticism produced by the Newsbusters crew is so frequently off-base. It's because they have no idea what they're talking about. Ever.
Here, take a look at Media Research Center Vice President Brent Baker's most recent complaint:
Cautioning the Obama administration's "deficit projections...are just that, projections," NBC's Chuck Todd on Monday evening bought into the White House's claim that Democratic health care reform bills that would add millions to the system are actually spending reduction measures, as he warned: "If health care doesn't pass, because this budget assumes health care will pass, that's yet another $150 billion that would be tacked on to the deficit." (Emphasis added)
See the problem? Baker is conflating spending reduction with deficit reduction.
The other problem is that Baker apparently hasn't been paying attention to the health care debate for the past year, as he derides as "ludicrous" the forecast that health care reform would reduce the deficit. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office consistently projected that the various versions of reform would reduce the deficit. White House budget director Peter Orszag says the $150 billion figure is simply an average of the CBO scores for the versions passed by the House and the Senate.
Finally, Baker's headline demonstrates that his lack of understanding of health care and the difference between "spending" and "deficit" is matched by his inability to understand the difference between assuming something and reporting someone else's assumptions. Baker's headline:
Not Passing ObamaCare Will Boost Deficit by $150 Billion, NBC and ABC Presume
Here's the Jake Tapper comment that headline refers to: "perhaps the most surprising, the budget assumes a savings of $150 billion over the next ten years from health care reform." So, that -- quite obviously -- is not an instance of ABC presuming anything; Tapper is telling viewers what the White House presumes. Similarly, NBC's Chuck Todd is clearly telling viewers what the White House is assuming about health care, not what he assumes.
This really isn't very complicated. It's the equivalent of me reading Baker's statement that ABC presumed that health care reform would save $150 billion and said "Brent Baker presumes that health care reform would save $150 billion."
Let's take a look at the Right's idea of media criticism, shall we? Here's Media Research Center Senior Fellow and Vice President for Research and Publications Brent Baker:
At the end of Sunday's This Week this morning, George Stephanopoulos announced it was his last broadcast as the host ... and an item in Sunday's Boston Herald revealed that ABC had to purchase a special chair for Stephanopoulos, in his new job as co-host of Good Morning America, so Robin Roberts would no longer "tower over" the "diminutive talking head."
The accompanying top screen shot is from December 14, Stephanopoulos's first day as the new permanent co-host and the image below is from this past Thursday's program. Judge for yourself, but Stephanopoulos is certainly lower in both.
Well, George Stephanopoulos is a media figure, and making fun of his height is criticism, so I guess this qualifies as "media criticism." Certainly more so than this entry from Baker's colleague Noel Sheppard yesterday: "Schwarzenegger On Ben Nelson's Kickback: 'It's Illegal to Buy Votes'"
After the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) instructed Humana and other Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations to cease sending health care reform mailings to Medicare beneficiaries, numerous conservative media figures -- including several Fox News hosts -- have advanced the talking point that the Obama administration is "threatening" or "suppress[ing] free speech" rights of reform opponents, in a manner Glenn Beck said "sounds like Joe McCarthy," often failing to note CMS' rationale. In fact, CMS expressed concern that the mailings -- which directed beneficiaries to contact Congress in opposition to Medicare Advantage payment cuts -- is "misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, represents information to beneficiaries as official communications about the Medicare Advantage program, and is potentially contrary to federal regulations and guidance."
Oh, boy. Now Newsbusters' Brent Baker is upset that former CNN reporter Bob Franken describes disruptive protesters who hang a congressman in effigy as "a crazed group of people" and a "mob."
... Brent Baker fires up his computer:
CBS and NBC targeted Rush Limbaugh -- NBC's Kelly O'Donnell charged "some anger...gets stoked by the provocative megaphone of Rush Limbaugh, who went so far as accusing Democrats of wanting the socialized medicine of Nazi Germany" -- without bothering to acknowledge Limbaugh was reacting to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who first put Nazi comparisons into play by accusing the opponents of "carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care." [Bold and ellipses in original]
Got that? Rush Limbaugh accuses Democrats of wanting to duplicate the policies of Nazi Germany -- but according to Brent Baker, it was "Nancy Pelosi who first put Nazi comparisons into play." How did she do that? She pointed out that health care opponents have brought swastikas and other similar symbols to health care meetings.
Seems to me that Nancy Pelosi cannot be said to have "first put Nazi comparisons into play" if she was talking about the fact that conservatives had already used Nazi imagery. Newsbusters, apparently, uses an activist interpretation of the word "first."
Not to mention the fact that Baker can't see the qualitative difference between comparing something to the Nazis and denouncing Nazi comparisons.
Newsbusters' Brent Baker provides still more evidence that the conservative media critique is fundamentally absurd. Baker is upset that "Time magazine's online staff certainly undermined any notion of impartiality in how they littered the posted version of this week's cover story, 'Inside Bush and Cheney's Final Days,' with the links they chose to display between paragraphs and at page breaks of the article."
Baker's first example?
Others, however, reflected hostility and/or derision toward the two key players in the story, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, starting with "Visit RottenTomatoes.com for reviews of W., Oliver Stone's 2008 portrait of George W. Bush" and "Read 'Leahy's Plan to Probe Bush-Era Wrongdoings.'"
Wow. That's Baker's strongest evidence that Time's link package demonstrated liberal bias? The fact that a Time article about Bush mentions the fact that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering investigations into Bush-era wrongdoing? A link to a movie review web site? Pretty weak stuff. But Baker's argument gets weaker from there:
The "See the top 10 unfortunate political one-liners" link goes to a collection which includes George H.W. Bush's pledge to not raise taxes: "Read my lips: no new taxes."
Baker forgets to mention this, but the list also includes two Bill Clinton quotes and one each from LBJ and Jimmy Carter. What the heck is Baker's point?
The link for "See pictures of polarizing politicians on LIFE.com" brings readers to a collection which has Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Al Sharpton, but also George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani and Ronald Reagan.
OH MY GOD! THE BIAS! IT BURNS!
Wait. Uh ... what? That's an "Anti-Bush and Cheney Potshot Link"?