Media Matters

Media Matters

The Media’s Litmus Tests

By 4.22.15

The media’s dissection of political arguments is primarily demagogic, turning not upon their intrinsic merits but upon whether or not they conform to “mainstream” expectations as defined by the media. Any position outside what it deems the mainstream is automatically invalid. In this mindless atmosphere, politics grows more and more narrow and dangerous. Objective reality becomes irrelevant to any discussion and politics is reduced to a chase for the latest poll and strategic deception.

In this atmosphere, even the mildest moments of conservative truth-telling become occasions for the media to hurl accusations of sexism, racism, and homophobia. Of course, the media’s definition of what’s mainstream is conveniently elastic. It would never declare Hillary Clinton’s support for late-term abortions “outside the mainstream.” Nor would it describe Democrats who now want the military to champion transgender soldiers extreme. But it will routinely describe even the most toothless Republicans as aliens to mainstream opinion.

Media Matters

‘Hitler Made a Difference’: The Liberal Gang Rape of Journalism

By 4.6.15

Rolling Stone magazine perpetrated a hoax against the University of Virginia, doing “journalism” about an alleged gang rape that evidently never happened. The source of the dramatic tale Rolling Stone published last November, “A Rape on Campus,” was a UVA student named Jackie who has been proven to be a liar. Her freshman year at UVA, Jackie invented a make-believe boyfriend she called “Haven Monahan” as part of an unsuccessful attempt to inspire the jealousy of her friend Ryan Duffin, on whom she had a romantic crush. This deceptive scheme apparently led to Jackie’s subsequent claim that she was gang-raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house during a date with this non-existent boyfriend on the night of Sept. 28, 2012.

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National Religious Broadcasters Holds Firm

By 4.1.15

As many Evangelical elites and institutions squishily accommodate liberal trends, the National Religious Broadcasters group remains defiantly conservative, as its recent convention of over 4,000 ministry leaders abundantly confirmed, focusing on pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-Israel, and pro-religious liberty advocacy.

Partly the defiance owes to NRB’s inherently populist character. Its membership includes thousands of Evangelical communicators, rooted heavily in Christian radio, with traditionalist constituencies of millions.

And partly the defiance is credited to its president since 2013, former Criswell College president Jerry Johnson, who offers no apologies for his unabashedly conservative convictions. In his inaugural speech last year, he promised NRB would be for religious liberty what the NRA is for gun rights.

“Our content is not always popular,” Johnson told this year’s NRB audience in Nashville. “Our content is not always politically correct.” Yet religious broadcasters “should speak the truth in love, winsomely, convincingly, and passionately.”

Media Matters

Cruz Control

By 3.27.15

Dear journalists: May I have a public word with you, especially if you edit the Raleigh News and Observer? You probably take a dim view of unsolicited advice from a junior member of the guild, but I think I can save you some grief in the run-up to next year’s presidential election, with an assist from the first official candidate for the Republican nomination. That candidate would, of course, be Senator Ted Cruz. Many of the stories about him are written with the same “Get a load of this guy!” tone regardless of where they come from, but I thought a letter like mine ought first to be addressed to the media people in my own backyard.

Media Matters

National Geographic, Supermarket Tabloid?

By 3.19.15

Move over National Enquirer, here comes the National Geographic to supermarket checkouts. At least that’s the way it looks judging from the cover of its March issue.

A big headline proclaims, “The War on Science,” over of a photo of a workman constructing a setting for a Moonwalk. All this is accompanied by a list of five things, ranging from one about which there is much serious skepticism (“Climate Change”) to the very far-fetched (“The Moon Landing Was Fake”). It appears the NG left out those favorites that Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld delivered the explosives that brought down the World Trade Center towers and that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

Another clue that the venerable Geographic may be planning to go head-to-head with the National Enquirer is that the story behind the sensational headline is a nothing burger, like such supermarket tabloid favorites as “Octogenarian Queen Pregnant” and “Film Star Charges, ‘My Father-in-Law Sired My Child.’” It turns out there is nothing to those stories either.

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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.

Media Matters

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.”