The Daily Caller is known for publishing its fair share of anti-LGBT opinion columns, but even the website's "straight news" reporting is replete with anti-gay demagoguery, evidenced by its latest report on the Obama administration's reaction to Uganda's extreme new anti-gay law.
On March 24, Daily Caller White House correspondent Neil Munro published a report on the Obama administration's move to cut aid to Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni signed legislation imposing life sentences for "aggravated homosexuality." The Obama administration has moved to cut aid programs tied to the new law - including $6.4 million that would have gone to a primary backer of the measure. The administration has also rerouted aid for tourism and environmental protection to NGOs and halted a survey on populations at risk for HIV due to safety concerns.
Throughout his ostensibly "straight news" report, Munro depicted the Obama administration's decision as an example of its "hard-edged effort to punish countries that disagree with its gay rights agenda." According to Munro, opposing life imprisonment for gay people is part of an effort to "rapidly elevate the status of gays in Africa":
President Barack Obama is cutting U.S. aid for the poor African country of Uganda and blocking a health survey, because its elected government signed a popular and harsh law against homosexual conduct.
The penalty spotlights the administration's top-level and hard-edged effort to punish countries that disagree with its gay rights agenda.
The cuts are part of an ambitious foreign policy effort to rapidly elevate the status of gays in Africa and in other continents.
Munro noted that the Obama administration had also condemned Russia's law cracking down on so-called gay "propaganda" - which could include displays of affection between same-sex couples. Channeling Vladimir Putin's defense of that measure, Munro uncritically referred to the measure as a ban on "advocacy of Western-style gay rights" and repeated the baseless notion that criminalizing gay "propaganda" would somehow encourage population grown:
Rush Limbaugh cited a flawed statistic several times during his radio show to claim that the future immigrant population will reach 46 million in two decades under the Senate's immigration reform bill, even though the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) scoring of the bill contradicts that statistic.
The 46 million immigrant statistic was reported by The Daily Caller's Neil Munro, who claimed that "current forecasts predict an inflow of roughly 11 million per decade, or 22 million by 2033." Munro goes on to explain that 22 million "plus the new 16 million [as reported in the CBO] and the eight million illegals [who are already here], add up to 46 million new or legalized people for the nation in 20 years."
During the June 19 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh jumped on board attributing this number to the CBO report, not Munro:
Funny thing about the Daily Caller: they've never been wrong.
That seems to be their official stance, at least. Even when they are spectacularly in error -- something that happens to every news org now and again -- Tucker Carlson and his retinue will get right in your face and tell you nope, you're wrong, we're right.
Consider the flap over Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro's absurd outburst during President Obama's June 15 statement on the new immigration policy. Nearly every observer, regardless of ideology, agrees that Munro acted unprofessionally, and disrespected himself and his organization. But not Tucker Carlson: "A good reporter gets the story. We're proud of Neil Munro."
Standing by your own is one thing, but this goes beyond merely circling the wagons. Carlson is arguing that Munro behaved as a reporter should -- that he "got the story." This praise is belied by the actual story Munro wrote, which contained little substance, barely touched on the policy at issue, and lacked detail (probably because Munro didn't do any actual reporting while he was at the White House).
Acknowledging miscues is part of the professional news business, but this screw-the-world counterfactual stubbornness is the Daily Caller's go-to response for those moments when they cross the line.
Last September, Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle wrote a piece claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency is "asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats -- at a cost of $21 billion -- to attempt to implement" new greenhouse gas regulations. Boyle's source, a court brief filed by the EPA, actually said the exact opposite: the EPA had issued a rule in May 2010 that allowed the agency to avoid that scenario. Boyle misread the document and got the story completely wrong.
After various media outlets weighed in and confirmed that the Daily Caller had botched the report, executive editor David Martosko penned an editorial note lashing out at critics and declaring: "Our news story was well reported, carefully sourced, and solidly written. Despite the criticisms that some have offered, we haven't changed a word." Defiance notwithstanding, his rationalization for not correcting the story didn't hold up.
Defending the story to Politico, Martosko argued, essentially, that the story had to be right because the EPA is government and government is bad: "What's more likely: that the Obama administration's EPA wants to limit its own power, or that it's interested in dramatically increasing its reach and budget? Anyone who has spent more than a few months in Washington knows the answer."
Sean Hannity often complains about the supposed "liberal bias" of the mainstream media. He also sometimes fails to notice that his colleagues at Fox News are espousing these supposed "Obama-mania" views.
On his June 18 Fox News show, Hannity hosted Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro to talk about Munro's recent heckling stunt in the Rose Garden. After playing video clips showing Munro shouting questions at President Obama during his immigration policy announcement, Hannity said, "Now, the mainstream Obama-mania media has jumped all over Munro for daring to question the president." Watch:
Yet at least five of Hannity's fellow Fox News employees have "jumped all over Munro" for his behavior in the Rose Garden.
In fact, less than an hour before Hannity's softball interview with Munro, Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg appeared on The O'Reilly Factor to call Munro "a jerk" and "totally unprofessional."
Earlier today, Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple wrote of his efforts to interview the Daily Caller's Neil Munro about his heckling of President Obama, only to hear back from Munro that he was "too busy with health-care, etc."
But Munro was not too busy, however, for a cozy conversation with Sean Hannity on his radio show today. Hannity gave Munro ample space to tell his "version of things," in which he admitted it was "technically ... correct" that he interrupted the president. Hannity performed his usual routine, in which he gives conservatives who are in media messes plenty of airtime to explain away their problems. Hannity even prompted Munro to agree with him that the heckling was merely "mistimed."
Hannity said during the appearance that Munro will appear on his Fox News show later this evening, presumably for more of the same treatment.
From the June 18 broadcast of The Sean Hannity Show:
UPDATE: In his Fox News appearance, Hannity again gave Munro ample time to tell his version of events. The closest Hannity got to criticizing Munro was telling him, "I think you should have waited until he was finished, but you recognize that, you've said so." Hannity then cued up Munro to criticize his "colleagues" in the media for being "too easy" on Obama.
On June 15, President Obama delivered a statement in the Rose Garden on the Department of Homeland Security's new policy halting deportations of certain young undocumented immigrants and granting them work permits, subject to various conditions. In the middle of Obama's statement, Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro delivered his own statement, interrupting the president as he shouted nonsensical questions about the administration "employ[ing] foreigners."
It was a breach of decorum that threatened to derail coverage of an important policy announcement, and was met with near-universal condemnation. The Daily Caller, however, is standing by their man with a variety of explanations and excuses, all of them dreadful.
First out of the gate (I think) was Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle, who defended "a reporter" -- later confirmed to be his colleague -- for interrupting Obama because OMG the president just wouldn't shut up!
Obama just bashed a reporter for asking him a question while he's rambling on.-- Matthew Boyle (@mboyle1) June 15, 2012
The president was "rambling on," said Boyle. By my stopwatch, the president had been speaking for just over four and a half minutes before Munro interjected, well within the attention spans of most toddlers and a few gifted dogs. And he was laying out a new federal policy that will affect close to 1 million people living in the United States, so perhaps we can spot him a few minutes.
Conservatives have defended the actions of Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro by claiming that his shouted questions to President Obama yesterday are no different than what veteran ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson used to do when he covered the Reagan White House. On Friday, Munro repeatedly interrupted Obama during his announcement of an immigration policy change that will potentially exempt hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to legally seek work in the United States. But Donaldson rejected that comparison.
As the Washington Post reported, Donaldson "didn't approve" of the confrontation:
"I never interrupted any president while he was making a formal presentation of any sort. You don't do that, do you?" said Donaldson, who titled his 1987 memoir "Hold On, Mr. President!"
Not that Donaldson ever let them slip away quietly. But he would wait until a president had finished his remarks, he said. And if the chief executive turned away without answering questions, Donaldson would fire away.
Donaldson was also famous for shouting questions as the president walked to and from his helicopter.
Indeed, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, who covered the White House alongside Donaldson as a reporter for NBC, agreed that what Munro did was "outrageous."
Wallace stated on Fox News' Studio B:
WALLACE: I covered Ronald Reagan for six years with Sam Donaldson. We used to scream our lungs out asking questions, but we always waited until the president had -- any president had finished speaking. The idea that you would interrupt the president in the middle of prepared remarks and shout a question -- I don't think the guy should be allowed back in the White House, you know, on a press pass.
Later, during an interview with Washington, D.C.-based radio news station WTOP, Wallace added that Munro "was way over the line":
WALLACE: The role of the press is to ask questions of the president, to get answers, but you don't interrupt the president in the middle of a statement. I covered the White House, Ronald Reagan for six years -- I was there with Sam Donaldson. Nobody would say that either of us lacked aggressiveness when it came to questioning the president, but we didn't interrupt while the president was still talking. This was way over the line.
And yet the comparison to Donaldson was trotted out by conservatives as justification for Munro's actions.