Last year, the right-wing Media Research Center launched an attack on an art exhibit on gay self-portraiture at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, with particular focus on one item: a video by artist David Wojnarowicz that includes a few seconds of an image of ants crawling over a crucifix. The Catholic League, for which MRC chief Brent Bozell serves as an adviser, soon joined the pile-on. The Smithsonian ultimately succumbed to the right-wing pressure and removed the video from the exhibit.
Now, the "Hide/Seek" exhibit has moved to a new venue, the Brooklyn Museum. And the manufactured outrage has begun anew.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue initially said he wouldn't he wouldn't fight the exhibit and the Wojnarowicz video, telling the New York Daily News, "We can't be like in a dog and pony show every time they show the stupid video." Donohue apparently changed his mind, issuing a press release on the exhibit the same day the Daily News published his remarks. In the release, Donohue attacked the museum for hosting the exhibit and declared that Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS in 1992, "died of self-inflicted wounds":
The fact is that the artist who made the vile video died of self-inflicted wounds: he died of AIDS. The homosexual, David Wojnarowicz, hated the Catholic Church (had he lived by its teachings, he would not have self-destructed). He once referred to Cardinal John O'Connor as a "fat cannibal," and labeled the Catholic Church a "house of walking swastikas." Sounds like the words of a bigot.
Meanwhile, the MRC's Penny Starr, reporter for its "news" division, CNSNews.com, was back on the case as well. In a November 15 CNS article, Starr highlighted Catholic criticism of the Wojnarowicz video "depicting Jesus Christ on a cross with ants crawling over him," described the "Hide/Seek" exhibition as "gay erotic" without attribution, and put "art" in scare quotes when describing previous Brooklyn Museum exhibitions.
Missing from Starr's report was any mention of the artist's intent regarding the 11-second shot of the ants on the crucifix. As The Washington Post reported in December:
Ants, for Wojnarowicz, were a mysterious stand-in for humanity and part of a lifelong fascination with the natural world that his friend, artist Kiki Smith, recalls was part of a charmingly boyish rapture with creepy, crawling things. When asked what he thought of God, he responded by wondering rhetorically "why ants aren't the things that destroy the world instead of people." There is a host of theological possibility in that thought: Is God as indifferent to humans as humans are to ants? Should we love the small things of the planet as we hope to be loved by God?
But who needs nuance or comprehensive reporting when there's anti-gay outrage to manufacture?
Since sexual harassment allegations against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain have emerged, right-wing media figures have blamed a wide range of people and entities for the story's emergence, from the "Democratic machine" to the "liberal media" and even "the left-wing nutjobs at Media Matters."
Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, out attacking the press for reporting on the legitimate news story about Herman Cain's former employer settling sexual harassment complaints against him, claims the three major news networks "ignored" the Paula Jones story during the 1990's, but are overplaying the Cain story this week.
That seems like a stretch considering Jones' lawsuit against president Clinton remained in the headlines for nearly seven years as it dragged its way through the courts and eventually became joined with the Monica Lewinsky impeachment scandal. How is it possible that ABC, CBS and NBC "ignored" the Jones story for all those years?
Simple. They didn't ignore it.
A search of Nexis indicates that in the `90's the networks aired more than 600 reports that mentioned the Paula Jones controversy in detail.
So what does MRC base its "ignored" claim on? It looks at the Paula Jones coverage for just three days during the `90's; the three days following her infamous press conference in Washington, D.C., (sponsored by the Conservative Political Action Conference) where she aired her claims against the Democratic president. Three days, of course, represents a tiny window to view the Jones story, which played out over many, many years and was covered almost non-stop.
During the 1990's, the three major networks averaged a combined total of nearly 90 Paula Jones reports every year, for seven straight years. But according to Brent Bozell's crack staff, the networks "ignored" the Jones tale.
The far-right freak-out over Occupy Wall Street continues to unfold in plain view, as partisan in the conservative press lash out wildly at the populist movement. Unnerved by its growing size and strength, GOP pundits have tried their best to undermine the Wall Street effort, mostly via schoolyard taunts. When not name-calling, conservatives' have tried to rewrite the Tea Party past.
Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan argued Occupy Wall Street protesters aren't "mature" and reasonable like their conservative Tea Party counterparts. You know, the "mature" activists who protested fictional "death panels" and rallied with swastika posters. (Nice try Peggy.)
Now Media Research Center's Brent Bozell takes his turn rewriting Tea Party history. Specifically, he claims the press considered the Tea Party to be "barely worth covering" during the spring of 2009, and that the same press is giving way too much media attention to Occupy Wall Street. ("Barely worth covering"? In the months of April and May of 2009, cable news channels aired more than 150 Tea Party reports, according to Nexis, while U.S. newspapers published nearly 1,000 articles and columns mentioning the movement.)
There's no question that Occupy Wall Street has garnered heavy, and at time blockbuster, media coverage in recent days and weeks. And the attention is deserved, as the grassroots movement spreads nationwide and now boasts nearly 200 protest locations as part of its political network. (The movement is winning support from Americans too, according to pollsters.)
Bozell and the right-wing media's nervous response to the people-powered phenomena? They whine that reporters and pundits are lavishing too much attention on Occupy Wall Street, and that back in 2009 when the Tea Party movement first emerged, that same press corps ignored conservatives taking to the street.
Note that in his whine, Bozell's mum about the pivotal role Fox News played in the fledgling Tea Party and how the channel's free, unending advertising and marketing muscle helped to instantly elevate the right-wing movement. Bozell keeps quiet about that because it's awkward to argue the media ignored the Tea Party when in fact a major cable channel practically sponsored the Tea Party.
Bozell does however, acknowledge that CNBC reporter Rick Santelli gets credit for creating the Tea Party on the air with his infamous rant about the White House's mortgage bailout plan. (CNBC didn't promote subsequent Tea Party rallies, the way Fox News so aggressively did.)
Bozell complains that that key Tea Party moment was ignored [emphasis added]:
The first rhetorical shot that started the Tea Party is credited to CNBC analyst Rick Santelli on February 19, 2009, when he accused the government of "promoting bad behavior" for "losers" who wouldn't pay their mortgages and raised the possibility of a "Chicago Tea Party." CNBC calls it "The Shout Heard 'Round the World," but at the time NBC and the other Big Three network shows completely ignored it.
Bozell's certain: the Big Three networks all ignored Santelli's call to Tea Party arms.
Except that, of course, they did not.
Not only did NBC not ignore Santelli's rant the day it was uncorked on CNBC, but NBC made it the lead story on its Nightly News that evening. NBC News then returned to the topic again and again in the week that directly followed with nearly one dozen on-air reports from NBC, which couldn't stop talking about Rick Santelli's Tea Party rant.
(For the record, ABC and CBS also covered Santelli's harangue that week.)
But today, spooked by Occupy Wall Street, conservative press cop Brent Bozell fabricates the claim that NBC "completely ignored" the Rick Santelli Tea Party story.
Hey Brent, stop trying to rewrite the Tea Party past.
In the ominously title report, "From Democratic Promoters to Republican Destroyers," Brent Bozell's Media Research Center set out once again to 'prove' just how liberally corrupt and biased the mainstream media are. Specifically, the report claimed that on the network morning shows, such as Today, hosts asked Republican candidates tougher, "adversarial" questions than they did Democratic candidates running four years ago.
Given Media Research Center's dubious history of truth telling, it's not surprising that upon closer scrutiny the report does not hold up. For instance, note the specific allegation that the networks gave "little airtime" to Republican candidates this year (between Jan. 1 and Sept. 15) as opposed to Democrats four years ago. (Bias!)
From MRC [emphasis added]
The leader of the pack was Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, who was featured in 14 morning show interviews totaling more than 71 minutes (see chart). The runner-up was former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who — despite the visibility gained from nine interviews totaling 42 minutes — never rose beyond single digits in the national polls and dropped out after a disappointing third-place finish in the August 13 Iowa straw poll.
Getting nearly as much attention as Pawlenty was billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who flirted with a candidacy back in March and April. Trump was featured in five interviews totaling 39 minutes. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman also appeared five times for a total of nearly 26 minutes, with Romney rounding out the top five with 21 minutes.
A potpourri of other candidates were also given a chance to reach the relatively large audience watching the networks' morning news shows: Texas Congressman Ron Paul (3 interviews, 17 minutes); former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (3 interviews, 14 minutes); former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (2 interviews, 10 minutes); and businessman Herman Cain (2 interviews, 7 minutes).
What was the Republican tally for morning news shows? A total of 247 minutes. To me, that seems like a healthy amount of time set aside for Republicans.
Please note that MRC makes a big deal out of the fact that the morning shows did not have Rick Perry on during the late summer as he became a major player in the GOP campaign. But does MRC have proof that the morning shows never invited Perry? Because the Texas governor declined to do almost all national media interviews during the late summer.
Meanwhile, how does that 247 minute total compare to Democratic candidates four years ago? We're supposed to believe it's much smaller than the times allotted to Democrats:
In 2007, Networks Flocked to Democratic Frontrunners: Four years ago, those same morning shows highlighted the frontrunners in the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton snagged the most airtime, with 10 appearances totaling 71 minutes (coincidentally, the same amount of time the GOP's only female candidate, Michele Bachmann, received this year). Then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama was featured in 11 interviews (52 minutes), followed by John Edwards (5 appearances, 47 minutes); former Vice President Al Gore, touted as a possible candidate in early 2007 (8 appearances, 43 minutes) and then-Delaware Senator Joe Biden (6 appearances, 28 minutes).
The Democratic tally? Um, 241 minutes, which is nearly identical to the Republican total of 247. So much for there being a Democratic bias. And oops, MRC included Al Gore on the list because he was a "possible candidate in early 2007."
From Feb. 9, 2007:
Former US vice-president Al Gore reiterated here that he does not intend to run for president in 2008 -- though he did not entirely rule out doing so further in the future.
So by the second month of 2007, Gore had made it clear he wasn't running. Yet MRC included all of Gore's morning show TV appearances between January and mid-September, most of them having to do with environmental issues, as part of its tally of Democratic candidates.
Truth is, if you subtract Gore from the list, the network morning shows devoted 198 minutes to Democratic candidates in 2007, compared to 247 minutes to Republicans this year. But yes, according to MRC that only proves the media's liberal bias.
President Obama gave a speech last night at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Awards Gala, and the Associated Press write-up of the event led with Obama saying his jobs package "would put more money in the pockets of Latino workers and business owners and increase opportunities for Hispanics." It carried the headline "Obama pushes jobs plan as help for Hispanics."
From the story as it appeared on the AP website:
That headline apparently wasn't exciting enough -- or sufficiently disparaging of Obama -- for the Media Research Center's "news" website, CNSNews.com. Its version of the AP article carries the headline "Obama Renews Call for Amnesty for Illegal Aliens," with the original headline relegated to a subhead:
Right-wing bloggers misled by dishonest Fox News video editing are attacking Teamsters President James Hoffa for supposedly urging violence against Tea Party activists during a Labor Day speech. Conservatives are also attacking President Obama, who appeared at the event, for "sanctioning violence against fellow Americans" by failing to denounce Hoffa. But fuller context included in other Fox segments makes clear that Hoffa wasn't calling for violence but was actually urging the crowd to vote out Republican members of Congress.
During the segment that the bloggers have latched onto, Fox edited out the bolded portion of Hoffa's comments:
HOFFA: Everybody here's got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let's take these son of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!
In an initial report on Hoffa's speech at 1 p.m. on Fox News, Ed Henry reported that Hoffa said that "we'll remember in November who's with the working people" and "said of the Tea Party and of Republicans, 'let's take these sons of bitches out.'"
Henry made clear during that segment that Hoffa's comments were references to voting out Republican members of Congress, not to violence. And roughly 20 minutes later, he explained on Twitter that the "full quote" of the "take these son of a bitches out" comment is "Everybody here's got to vote. If we go back & keep the eye on the prize, let's take these sons of bitches out":
But in a second segment that ran at roughly the same time as Henry's tweet, Fox News dishonestly edited the speech in the manner seen above. Andrew Breitbart's Big sites, Real Clear Politics, The Daily Caller, the Media Research Center, and the Drudge Report have all highlighted that footage, using it to condemn "the violence emanating from union thug bosses" and demand that Obama "denounce" the comments.
The Washington Post's Richard Cohen recently criticized GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry for wrongly stating that "there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data" to exaggerate global warming.
Responding to Cohen's piece, NewsBusters, a project of the Media Research Center, defended Perry's remarks, claiming that it has been "clearly proven" that scientists doctored the data:
As for the manipulation of data, 2009's ClimateGate as well as a myriad of recent findings concerning significant errors in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report have clearly proven this.
The only thing that has been "clearly proven" from the overblown "ClimateGate" controversy is that no amount of evidence will disabuse conservative media of the misconception that "ClimateGate" exposed scientists manipulating data to exaggerate global warming. This claim has simply become part of their retelling of history. But it is baseless.
After relentlessly pushing the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed climate scientists deceitfully manipulating data, conservative media are celebrating a Rasmussen Reports poll finding that a majority of Americans believe "some scientists" have likely "falsified research data" to support "their own theories and beliefs about global warming."
Right-wing blogs including Andrew Breitbart's website and Fox Nation are dishonestly editing comments made by CBS chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell to make up evidence that she is liberally "biased." But the full transcript of O'Donnell's comments makes clear that she was asking the White House to comment on what she hears "Democrats saying," not expressing her personal views.
From C-SPAN's May 28 coverage of the Media Research Center "Dishonor Awards" ceremony, which occurred on May 7:
Loading the player reg...
From the May 7 Media Research Center "Dishonors Awards":
Loading the player reg...
From the May 7 Media Research Center "Dishonors Awards":
Loading the player reg...
Poor Dan Gainor. He must have drawn the short straw at Brent Bozell's Media Research Center and been assigned the unenviable task of writing a tedious series documenting the supposed evils of left-leaning billionaire philanthropist George Soros and his very scary "media empire."
As we've previously noted, despite the grave warnings about Soros activity, Gainor can't point to a single example of how Soros has tried to influence any of the journalism that he supports through mostly non-profit institutions, such as ProPublica The Center for Public Integrity, and Media Matters. Gainor can't point to anything wrong with the journalism in question. (In fact, he's praised it.) Gainor can't find any examples, or even allegations, of Soros trying to influence reports. Nor does Gainor prove Soros' financial support in any way has an "impact" on the journalism produced.
Also (and this is quite comical), Gainor never explains why the millions Soros' foundations has spent on journalism in America is inherently evil, while the billions that Rupert Murdoch has spent is not.
Nonetheless, Gainor's now back with another attack at Soros, stressing how vast his "media empire" is based on his journalism funding grants and how the "empire" allows him to "influence" events. What Gainor takes great pains to not to say is this: Soros gives away lots of money to media institutions. Or, Soros donates millions. Because, of course, that's what philanthropists do.
When wealthy people donate money, for instance, to the New York Public Library, that doesn't mean that suddenly the venerable institution becomes part of those donors' "empires." That's not how philanthropy works. But Gainor pretends otherwise and builds his entire premise around the idea that once a Soros foundation gives money to a media institution, that institution immediately becomes part of his "empire."
Let's look at Gainor's example of NPR to see how laughable the allegation is.