Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER
It's no secret that the folks over at the Media Research Center don't care for gays. And their flimsy definition of bias and general hatred for journalism are pretty well-known, too. Basically, they're a bunch of clowns.
Still, even by Newsbusters' (low) standards, their petulant whining about media coverage of the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military was a comical blend of bitterness and cluelessness.
First, Newsbuster Brad Wilmouth complained:
As all the broadcast network evening newscasts on Saturday used words like "historic" and "landmark" to describe the Senate vote in favor of repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy on homosexuals serving in the military, the networks also provided substantially more soundbites to supporters of the measure than to those who opposed changing the policy.
Wilmouth never got around to spelling out what is wrong with using "words like 'historic' and 'landmark'" to describe an historic piece of legislation. That's presumably because he realized that he'd get laughed at for writing that a bill legalizing for the first time the open service of gays in the military is not a "landmark." So he just crossed his fingers and hoped readers would share his annoyance at media descriptions of historic legislation as "historic." (It's not the first time a Newsbuster has chosen this strategy.)
Nor did Wilmouth spell out why news reports should provide an equal number of soundbites from supporters and opponents of DADT repeal. Supporters, after all, greatly outnumber opponents. Granted, public opinion shouldn't be the sole factor in deciding how much time to allocate to differing views. But Wilmouth has his work cut out for him if he wants to argue that the news media should grant equal time to advocates of legislatively mandated discrimination. News reports about the end of racial segregation, for example, rarely include equal time for people who think African Americans shouldn't be able to eat at lunch counters -- and few people, if any, see this as evidence of media bias. Of course, Wilmouth doesn't argue that supporters of discriminatory policies deserve equal time. He just asserts it, and hopes his readers assume that he has a good reason for doing so.
Next, Newsbuster Kyle Drennen weighed in, also complaining that advocates of discrimination didn't get equal time without ever spelling out why they deserve it. Drennen went on to display a finely-tuned ability to read nefarious intent into the most benign reporting. Here, he complains about CBS correspondent Whit Johnson:
Johnson dismissed critics of repeal: "Democrats got a boost from a recent Pentagon study in which two-thirds of U.S. troops said changing the controversial law would have little impact, a feeling shared by most of America."
That isn't a dismissal of critics. That's a simple, straightforward statement of fact that doesn't refer to critics in any way -- except by implying that they are in the minority. Which is true.
Drennen then complained that "Both Johnson and [Nancy] Cordes touted the repeal as a win for Democrats." "Touted"? It was a win for Democrats. More Drennen:
On the Early Show, Cordes similarly cheered: "Democrats achieved their longstanding goal of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' just two weeks before an influx of Republicans in Congress would have made it impossible."
"Cheered"? Nothing in that quote is a "cheer." Nothing. Now, if Cordes had said "Democrats, who are awesome, passed a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Yaaaaay, Democrats!" -- that would be "cheering." That isn't what Cordes did. She just said what happened.
Now, if you've never read Newsbusters before, you probably think that I'm cherry-picking; that I'm unfairly focusing on Drennen's verb choice while ignoring the substance of his critique. But this nonsense about "touting" and "cheering" and "dismissing" is the substance of his complaint. Take a look.
Something happened on Saturday, and Newsbusters didn't like it. So they stamped their feet over the media reporting it. They didn't demonstrate media bias -- just their own.