Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Deterring Democracy 3

MRC Watch Dept. - Series Intro: The excruciatingly narrow spectrum of opinion allowed in major media is a fundamentally conservative bias, but one the writers of the Media Research Center will certainly never acknowledge. Rather than trying to democratize media, they seek to even further constrict that spectrum. To deter democracy. A lot of the articles churned out by the MRC are merely devoted to scandalizing the fact that anyone who holds views with which the MRC disagrees is even allowed to offer such views in any media outlet.

This time around, it's Newsbusters contributor Tom Johnson. He spotlights an op-ed piece in the Washington Post by Katrina Vanden Huevel, editor and publisher of the Nation, which challenges the "constrained notion of freedom that has dominated our politics since Ronald Reagan" and urges Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to offer "a far more expansive American view of what freedom requires, and what threatens it."

Johnson doesn't take issue with anything in the editorial; he merely highlights it, as if the fact that such views were even published is, in itself, a scandal.

An odd footnote: On the Newsbusters homepage, Johnson's article is promoted with the headline, "Katrina vanden Heuvel: Right’s 'Freedom' Brings Oligarchy, Corruption," yet the actual article's headline reads, "Katrina vanden Heuvel: Hillary Should Challenge the Right's 'Constrained' Idea of Freedom."


Previous entries in this series:

Deterring Democracy

Deterring Democracy 2

[This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog that disapproves of the Media Research Center's efforts to deter media democracy.]
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Hillary Should Challenge the Right’s ‘Constrained’ Idea of Freedom - See more at:
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Hillary Should Challenge the Right’s ‘Constrained’ Idea of Freedom - See more at:

Monday, June 8, 2015

CNN Offers Fantasy Political Analysis, Connor Williams Approves

MRC Watch Dept. - Appearing on the 8 June edition of CNN's Wolf, political analysts Gloria Borger and Ron Brownstein held a little colloquy on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' surprisingly strong showing in a Wisconsin straw poll and among the chatter, both floated the notion that Sanders' success was an indication that the Democratic party had moved to the left. This delighted the MRC's Connor Williams, who whined that
"The liberal media virtually never recognize the glaringly obvious fact that the Democratic Party has moved far to the left in recent years. Almost without exception, they harp on the idea that the Republicans have shifted to the right, while suggesting that the Democrats are in mainstream."
Under the headline, "CNN's Borger States the Obvious: Dems 'Have Moved So Far to the Left'," Williams recounts that Borger: "noted that 'it won't work to be a centrist' in the Democratic Party anymore because the party 'has moved so far to the left.'" He approvingly quotes Borger:
"I think this started before Bernie Sanders officially got into the race. Look, the Democratic Party has shifted since Bill Clinton ran for president."
Brownstein, wrote Williams, "agreed and noted that the Democrats have 'unquestionably moved to the left on cultural issues since Bill Clinton's day.'"

Given his thesis, Williams wisely declined to quote Brownstein's next sentence, which inform these remarks, but he was kind enough to include a transcript: "And Hillary Clinton has followed that on things like immigration, on gay marriage." Williams, recall, objects that, as he sees it, the press is forever suggesting "the Democrats are in mainstream." On the issues Brownstein actually named though, that's exactly the case. Last month, the CBS News/New York Times poll asked,
"Which comes closest to your view about illegal immigrants who are living in the U.S.? 1. They should be allowed to stay in the U.S and eventually apply for citizenship, 2. They should be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally, but not be allowed to apply for citizenship or 3. They should be required to leave the U.S."
Overall, 57% of respondents chose the view supported by most Democrats, including both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton: let 'em stay and apply for citizenship. Even 38% of Republicans supported this position. The same poll has asked the same question 9 times since January 2014 and in every case, that option has been the majority view. The same is true with gay marriage; the same poll asked, "Do you think it should be legal or not legal for same-sex couples to marry?" A full 57% of respondents chose the view supported by most Democrats, that it should be legal. This has been a majority position in this same poll going back to Sept. 2012, and support for some form of legal recognition, either "marriage" or "civil unions," has had overwhelming majority support in this poll going all the way back to 2004 (which support for "marriage" became a majority view, the "civil unions" option was dropped from the polling). Williams asserts Democrats have "moved far to the left in recent years," but their position on both the issues Brownstein named is the broad mainstream view. And, of course, the premise of this entire line of commentary was the rise in popularity of Bernie Sanders, which is taken as, in and of itself, evidence of a Democratic lurch to the left, but as Josh Harkinson recently noted in Mother Jones, Sanders is, in his views on most of his major issues, also in line with the American mainstream.

All of this also impacts Borger's asinine assertion that "It won’t work to be a centrist anymore in the Democratic Party because it's moved so far to the left." As the good people at Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting have long noted, the mainstream corporate press always defines "the political center" as way, way to the right of the actual political center, and as the Democratic party lurches further and further to the right, it's always the "analysis" of mainstream pundits that the Democratic party has gone too far left and should, if it wants to be viable, lurch right. While Williams suggests these ideas as some sort of rare innovation in the "liberal" press, they are, in fact, vacuous, fact-free tropes that have been around for decades.


[This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog that is unimpressed with the Media Research Center's political analysis.]

Friday, June 5, 2015

CNN Gives Softball Interview, MRC Objects To Harsh Coverage

MRC Watch Dept. - Last month, Pam Geller and her fascist American Freedom Defense Initiative hosted a contest aimed at producing cartoons of Islam's prophet Muhammad. Muslims regard any visual depiction of their prophet as a blasphemy and two would-be jihadists turned up with guns intent on shooting up the event. Fortunately, they were stopped by police before they could cause much trouble but in the aftermath, the writers of the Media Research Center authored a series of articles that took the position that the event was "pro-free-speech" rather than anti-Muslim -- the fascist org's own characterization -- and, in effect, that anything less than unquestioning love of the AFDI and its event by the press amounted to pro-jihadism and anti-1st-Amendment-ism. For the MRC, it seems, "free speech" means only the right to agree with the AFDI.

Thursday, Connor Williams jumped into it again, approvingly spotlighting the mad ravings of Geller's sidekick Robert Spencer on CNN's At This Hour. Off in his usual haze, Spencer had his panties in a twist about the press. "[T]he mainstream press, including CNN, is going along" with Muslims who "are trying to frighten Americans into silence and submission," Spencer insisted. Though a white male Christian attacking adherents of a religion who make up less than 1% of the U.S. population, Spencer did his best to make himself sound quite heroic:
"We're never going to surrender and we’re never going to submit. The media is submitting by not showing the cartoons and kowtowing to these violent threats and intimidation. That's just the wrong thing to do because it's only going to encourage more violent threats and intimidation."
If Williams happened to notice this was the equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan complaining that the press is only submitting to Jewish domination by refusing to show their org's anti-Semitic cartoons, he didn't bother to say. Still, the matter has been allowed to drift well into Bizarro territory when Spencer, who, to no conceivable positive end, sponsors events aimed solely at insulting and angering a group of people who have done him no harm, says those who, in his view, decline to sufficiently spread his poison are more responsible for the reaction his activities draw than the activities themselves. And there's the Orwellian nature of Spencer's complaining that the press hasn't sufficiently helped spread his poison in the midst of an interview in which he's not only being allowed to spread his poison but is being aided in doing so. The question that prompted Spencer's initial outburst against the press, for example, was this puffball thrown by co-host Kate Bolduon:
"So, Pamela [Geller] has said some things that have stuck out recently I wanted to ask you about. She has said that ISIS is here, ISIS is in America and this is war. With that in mind, especially in light of this threat, and the threat you guys have been under, from your perspective, how do you wage that war? How do you fight that enemy? What's your prescription, if you will?"
Can one imagine a Klansman being asked such a question by a CNN host regarding the threat of Jewish domination of the U.S. government? That was nothing more than an open invitation for Spencer to rave (which Spencer, facing no challenge, then took), and it isn't the last time in the interview the CNN hosts do this.

Williams doesn't touch any of that. He focuses, instead, in following Spencer's lead in slamming co-host John Berman, who, in the face of Spencer's attack's on the press, helpfully tried to get Spencer back on point:
"Well look, leave the media aside for a second. The media didn’t target Pamela Geller, the media didn't attack that conference you had in Garland, Texas."
Despite this being a clear allusion to the two would-be jihadis who did target Geller and the Garland event, Spencer opted to misrepresent "target" and "attack" as press criticism of Geller:
"The media targets Pamela Geller all the time, are you kidding?! She gets hit pieces all the time from CNN and everywhere else."
Williams endorsed this misrepresentation, characterizing Berman's effort to refocus Spencer as his having "jumped in to defend the media's coverage of the Geller story" and, further, accusing Berman of having made an "inaccurate statement" in doing so, despite Berman having failed to offer so much as a word in defense of or even about "the media's coverage of the Geller story." After Spencer's rant about the press attacking Geller, Berman, in another effort to try to get Spencer back on topic, pointed out the obvious with regard to press coverage and extended another open invitation to Spencer's raving:
BERMAN: The media had Pamela Geller on this morning to talk about this. We are having you on to discuss this. Let's continue to discuss it rather than pointing fingers. Pamela Geller, one of the thing she did say is you have a couple more initiatives in the works.
SPENCER: That's right.
BERMAN: I wondering if you will tell us here what you are planning going forward.
At the end of his piece, Williams goes off even further into La La Land:
"Spencer was correct in saying that the media have gone after Pam Geller for her statements on Islam. It's unfortunate that CNN seems more committed to attacking Geller and Spencer than addressing the real issue, Islamic extremism."
Even setting aside the standard -- and tired -- implication that the press is in the wrong if it doesn't love Geller, this, offered as the conclusion of an article about a CNN interview in which Spencer was treated entirely seriously and not only given nearly unchallenged license to rant and rave but was repeatedly invited to do so, is pure Orwellian spectacle.

Williams includes a transcript of what he calls "the relevant portion" of the interview. It is, in fact, nearly the entire interview -- he omits only the closing moments. Not, one suspects, unintentionally. In the complete interview, Spencer is, at the end, asked by Bolduon, "Have you guys reached out to the Muslim community in Boston to work on how to engage, how to gain a better understanding, how to work together to fight extremist views?" Yet another puffball question and it elicited an ugly rant by Spencer indicting the entire Muslim community of Boston in terrorist activities. One of the standard tactics of the AFDI fascists is to tell the general public they're only opposed to "Islamic extremists," then turn around and assert that this includes all Muslims. Bolduon had been foolish enough to get caught up in the former claim but Spencer's last rant finally proved to be too much for Bolduon and Berman, who, in the closing seconds of the interview, challenged Spencer -- the only real challenge to anything he said in the entire course of the segment. Including that ugly rant would have shed light on why some in the media "have gone after" Geller and Spencer and on what Spencer meant by what Williams asserted was "the real issue."


[This article was written for MRC Watch, a blog that disapproves of the Media Research Center's propaganda on behalf of fascists.]