Media Matters

Media Matters

Eric Burns and the Cult of Liberal Media

By 3.10.15

It always amazes to see.

As reported in Politico, Quinnipiac University released a poll on Monday that Politico correctly headlined as follows:

Poll: Fox News most trusted network

The story begins:

Fox News has the most trusted network and cable news coverage in the United States, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday. But network TV is much less trustworthy than it was in the days of Walter Cronkite, American voters say.

In comparison rankings, 29 percent responded that they trust Fox News the most. CNN follows with 22 percent, CBS News and NBC News are at 10 percent, ABC News at 8 percent and MSNBC at 7 percent.

Bear this in mind as one considers the latest bit of liberal irrationality over in Mediaite this weekend was ex-Fox host Eric Burns, headlined in a story this way:

Media Matters

The Semi-Spin Zone: Bill O’Reilly and His Critics

By 2.25.15

Fox news host Bill O’Reilly’s critics are eager to turn him into the next Brian Williams but they lack the damning evidence to do so. Their scrutiny of his coverage from Argentina during the Falklands war suggests imprecision on his part but fails to establish that he committed a Brian Williams-level whopper.

Williams told a bizarre and verifiable falsehood, which any reasonable observer would conclude wasn’t a good-faith mistake but a deliberate lie. O’Reilly’s claims about his coverage are far more murky and don’t fall neatly into the category of a deliberate lie.

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NBC’s Decision

By 2.11.15

Tom Brokaw, commenting on whether or not his successor Brian Williams would survive as the head of NBC’s “Nightly News” program, told the press that this “is a very serious issue that must be resolved on the facts.” It appears to have been resolved more on the basis of money and ratings. Were credibility the network’s first consideration, Williams would have been removed from his position last week.

If the most celebrated surgeon at a hospital killed a patient on the operating table through an act of gross malpractice, it wouldn’t take executives at that hospital weeks to determine whether or not that doctor should remain the “face” of the hospital. They would fire him immediately. They wouldn’t need to hold days of meetings to decide “if we should keep him on as the head of surgery.”

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Conservative Group Targets Comcast/NBC

By 1.15.15

The 65-page letter is addressed “Dear NBC Affiliate Owner.” The sender: the Conservative War Chest, with spokesman Michael Flynn signing the letter. The group has most recently been advertising in GOP Senate races around the country in the 2014 election cycle, as seen here.

The subject: Comcast/NBC Universal, now in the middle of a merger bid with Time Warner, and the larger issue of “the corruption of American journalism.” There is also a two-minute video, found here. Comcast/NBC is accused of acting as a “leftist Super Pac sponsoring millions of dollars worth of attack ads disguised as ‘news’ that seek the political oblivion of conservatives and the Republican Party.” It also calls on Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to mobilize the GOP against the Comcast/Time-Warner merger.

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I Am Not Spartacus

By 1.9.15

On Monday, a PEN American Center poll reported that 75 percent of writers in free countries fear government surveillance. On Wednesday, 100 percent of the scribes and scribblers at Charlie Hebdo lamented the absence of government surveillance.

Writers call such plot developments irony—at least they do when authoring the story and not in it.

“Writers living in liberal democratic countries have begun to engage in self-censorship at levels approaching those seen in non-democratic countries,” the PEN survey warns, “indicating that mass surveillance has badly shaken writers’ faith that democratic governments will respect their rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and that—because of pervasive surveillance—writers are concerned that expressing certain views even privately or researching certain topics may lead to negative consequences.”

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Rolling Stone’s Journalism by Synecdoche

By 12.11.14

The moral of Rolling Stone’s unraveling story about gang rape at the University of Virginia should be simple: reporters ought to stop treating rape stories as a unique genre of journalism, exempt from scrutiny.

Modern guidelines for reporting on sexual violence from the Columbia Journalism School, for example, instruct reporters: “Don’t be surprised if accounts only make partial sense.”

Sabrina Rubin Erdely was so unsurprised by a nonsensical story about seven fraternity brothers ambushing and raping a UVA student that she made it the centerpiece of her 9,000-word article about campus sexual assault. Because she did, she will now have a glorious opportunity to seek out a new career in technical writing or public relations.

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The Sins of Elizabeth Lauten

By 12.3.14

Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for a GOP congressman, committed a cardinal sin in politics last weekend: posting on Facebook about a couple of aggravated teenagers forced to endure their dad’s turkey-pardoning ceremony, during a space of time where little to nothing of note was happening on the national scene. Thankfully, our esteemed fourth estate immediately seized on her transgression against the cult of personality inhabiting the White House, and badgered her and her under-the-radar Republican boss until she was forced to publicly apologize, resign, and pack up her things from her Hill apartment and return to that segment of flyover country from whence she came. The media may not know how to handle more pressing matters facing their industry, like whether they should report accurately on a Missouri grand jury investigation so as not to further inflame community tensions, but they sure know how to make a girl cry.

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The Media’s Pivot

By 11.5.14

Anticipating dismaying election results, the media downplayed the races as much ado about “nothing.” But historians will certainly find meaning in them. It will no doubt strike them as staggering that a president as “historic” and celebrated as Obama found himself a political orphan in his second term, with some Democrats refusing to disclose whether or not they even voted for him.

Obama rose to prominence in 2004 by casting himself as a transcendent figure who could turn red states blue. He didn’t believe in “blue states or “red states” but in the “United States of America.” He is no longer speaking in those terms. On election day this year, in a preemptive attempt to reject the coming defeat as a repudiation of his presidency, he spoke of the intractability of red states.

“There’s no doubt that, when you look at the Senate races, because of the fact only a third of the Senate is up at any given time, it tends to be a little bit arbitrary which seats are really going to be contested and which aren't,” he told the press. “So, for example, in this election cycle, this is probably the worst possible group of states for Democrats since Dwight Eisenhower.”

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Predatory Journalism at the New York Times

By 10.21.14

The New York Times is again on the warpath against what it calls “predatory lending.”

Just what is predatory lending? It is lending that charges a higher interest rate than people like those at the New York Times approve of. According to such thinking — or lack of thinking — the answer is to have the government set an interest rate ceiling at a level that will be acceptable to third parties like the New York Times.

People who believe in government-set price controls — whether on interest rates charged for loans, rents charged for housing, or wages paid under minimum wage laws — seem to think that this is the end of the story. Yet there is a vast literature on the economic repercussions of price controls.

Whole books have been written just on the repercussions of rent control laws in countries around the world.

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The Hit Job on Fox News

By 9.30.14

It was a hit job. Sixty veterans signing a much publicized “Open Letter to Fox News” — yet the signers were mysteriously never identified beyond the military branch in which they served.

No wonder. I have been through the list of sixty, and it is filled with Obama campaign workers, one ex-Obama White House aide, liberal activists, Democratic Party congressional candidates, Democratic Party state legislators, and more. The letter was sponsored by the Truman Project, a ten-year-old think tank with a focus on national security. Its board of directors includes Hunter Biden, the son of the Vice President. None of which was even whispered in the haughty “Open Letter” that was distributed to a media all too eager to go along with an attack on Fox News and two of the co-hosts on the Fox show The Five — Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld. Instead the letter was presented as a source of genuine outrage from average, non-partisan American veterans — while keeping the real identity of the signers secret.

And you wonder why Americans are cynical about politicians?