The Media Research Center describes its mission as being to "prove" a "strident liberal bias" exists within the national news media--one that "undermines traditional American values"--and to "neutralize" the impact of this bias on American politics. In brief,
"The mission of the Media Research Center is to bring balance and responsibility to the news media."
some point in the recent past, this was somewhat altered. The ranting
about "strident liberal bias" and the rest was left in place but the current version of that "in brief" sentence reads:
"As 'America's Media Watchdog,' the MRC seeks to bring balance to the news media."
wave of the flag, while all talk of "responsibility" is dropped, and it
would be impossible not to note the obvious symbolism. It isn't that
the MRC has changed from a more to a less noble mission--they never had
any sort of noble mission in the first place. It's that, by dropping the
pretense of "responsibility" while waving the flag, they're being a
little more honest. But just a little.
The way the MRC gang goes
about trying to bring "balance" to the news media is to complain about
the fact that any views with which they disagree are given any time at
all in the news media. The MRC dubs, as "liberal," just about anyone who
offers any view that can in any way be interpreted as out-of-sync
with the far right (as they define the far right, which they represent
as simply "conservatism"). Of the articles that appear on the Center's
Newsbusters blog, a large portion are devoted to simply complaining
about the fact that someone somewhere offered a "liberal" (as they use
the word) point of view, the implication being that this shouldn't
Today, for example, Bob Schieffer, the host of CBS
News' Face the Nation, asked a pair of senators why, with the looming
matter of the debt ceiling yet unresolved, the Senate is going to waste
time debating a balanced budget amendment that everyone, on all sides,
knows has no chance of passing. This drew a complaint
from Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard. Though Sheppard suggests, in his
closing sentence, that Schieffer was somehow poorly informing the public
about the measure, he offers nothing to support that. Rather, his
objection in the article is simply that Schieffer quite reasonably
called into question the wisdom of setting aside a much more pressing
matter in order to have a futile debate on a measure that, while
apparently beloved by Sheppard, has no chance of passing.
Sheppard offered another example of this today
as well. On "The Chris Matthews Show," the host asked a panel of
journalists, "of the Republicans running for president, which one offers
the best chance of becoming a great president?" None of the panelists
picked one. Sheppard didn't like that. Mainstream journalists, operating
in a profession that puts a premium on "objectivity," always tend to
be non-committal on such questions and three of the four panelists
simply dodged it. Sheppard, of course, presents their failure to
endorse as potentially great any of the candidates as evidence of the
irredeemable liberalism of the press, which is a non-sequitur that both
ignores that big, obvious reason they would dodge the question and
presumes that no conservative could fail to find at least one of the
2012 Republican candidates to be "great." The latter puts a lot of Republicans
in an awkward position--throughout this year, "undecided" or "someone
else" has usually polled, among Republicans, ahead of any of the named
This is what many--maybe most--Newsbusters
articles are "about," mere complaints that anyone with a different point
of view was given any time at all. That these points of view are so
often alleged to be different based on willfully negative,
counter-intuitive and even counter-factual and completely irrational
"interpretations" bespeaks how little actual substance is available for an org devoted to
exposing "liberal bias" in the press to cover.
preaching "balance" in the press, the MRC gang doesn't practice anything
like "balance" in the way they manage their blog. When I tried to sign
up for Newsbusters, they took a month to approve me. There were long
delays, I was told, because they had so many applications and tried to
weed out troublemakers, by which, from the composition of their
regulars, they seem to mean "liberals who may offer something other than
blind cheerleading for the team." Somehow, I slipped through but I
didn't last long.
In my time, there, I would sometimes get pulled
into side-arguments with the other posters but for the most part, I
tried to offer substantive criticism of Newsbusters' work.
The regular posters there did not appreciate this effort.
Newsbusters' regulars, it should be said, are some of the absolute
worst I've ever encountered in all my years of poking through the right
wing of the internet. Virtually every time I wrote anything, I was
reflexively met with charges that I was a black-hearted liar, that I
was a hypocrite and so on--basically any charge that would in some
way discredit me. I was even accused of plagiarism, after I
cut-and-pasted some of my own words.
This was the response to every substantive criticism. More than half a dozen
posters seemed to have nothing better to do than follow me around and
append to my every utterance these same sorts of accusations. They
couldn't, in even a single instance, substantiate their charges--the charges had no basis in reality--but making any sort of substantive
case wasn't the point. I was a "liberal" (though I'm not) and to them, that meant I was, by
definition, guilty of all of those things. Their endless barrage of
charges amounted to a deployment of the Big Lie technique against me
and they seemed too deluded by their own fantasies to even realize it.
is charged with overseeing quality control at Newsbusters--very
concerned about troublemakers, remember--allowed this to go on day in
and day out. When, however, I offered a substantive critique of a column
by MRC head Brent Bozell (the details of which are recounted here),
my Newsbusters account was suspended and the critique deleted from the
site. While I've been kicked out, all of those other right-wing
posters--the ones who devoted all of their energy to libelous attacks on
me and the few other liberals who managed to get through the filtering
process; the ones who never offer a single substantive comment on any
subject; the ones who act as nothing more than an amen corner for
Newsbusters' writers--are still active.
That's "balance" at the MRC, the kind they give every indication they'd apply to the rest of the press.
Even comedians making jokes about conservative political figures end
up in Newsbusters' crosshairs (the writers display a particularly
intense obsession with Bill Maher and Jon Stewart).
The fourth, Time's Joe Klein, picked Barack Obama, who has, indeed,
ruled as a Republican president in all but name. But Klein said he was a
great Republican president and "great" simply isn't a word one can
justify applying to the Obama.
 Two days ago, in the most recent Gallup poll on the subject,
58% of Republicans declined to express a preference for any of the
Republican candidates, and of the candidates themselves, only Mitt
Romney draws double-digit support (and he only manages 13%).
This is in sharp contrast to the way the MRC's liberal,
democracy-friendly counterparts handle such matters. If a reader wants
to comment on an item from Media Matters For America or FAIR, it's a simple matter of offering the comment (at the FAIR blog) or taking a few seconds to sign up then make it (at MMFA).
 One technique that was constantly employed was a demand for "sources" for even the most incidental parts of anything I'd written, which I quickly learned wasn't a legitimate request for sources but was, instead, just another way of accusing me of lying--insinuating I didn't have any and trying to get me to stop what I was doing and go look up things that those demanding the source could just as easily Google themselves. Any mainstream news source I would provide was then immediately dismissed as "liberal" and thus "bullshit." The high-point--the low-point?--of this part of the saga came when, to prove some rightist figures had said what I'd quoted them as saying, I posted some links to the raw video and audio of them saying it but because this raw audio and video was archived at Media Matters, it too was dismissed as a liberal lie. Rush Limbaugh never made sexist comments at all, right?