Since sexual harassment allegations against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain have emerged, right-wing media figures have blamed a wide range of people and entities for the story's emergence, from the "Democratic machine" to the "liberal media" and even "the left-wing nutjobs at Media Matters."
Brent Bozell's Media Research Center, out attacking the press for reporting on the legitimate news story about Herman Cain's former employer settling sexual harassment complaints against him, claims the three major news networks "ignored" the Paula Jones story during the 1990's, but are overplaying the Cain story this week.
That seems like a stretch considering Jones' lawsuit against president Clinton remained in the headlines for nearly seven years as it dragged its way through the courts and eventually became joined with the Monica Lewinsky impeachment scandal. How is it possible that ABC, CBS and NBC "ignored" the Jones story for all those years?
Simple. They didn't ignore it.
A search of Nexis indicates that in the `90's the networks aired more than 600 reports that mentioned the Paula Jones controversy in detail.
So what does MRC base its "ignored" claim on? It looks at the Paula Jones coverage for just three days during the `90's; the three days following her infamous press conference in Washington, D.C., (sponsored by the Conservative Political Action Conference) where she aired her claims against the Democratic president. Three days, of course, represents a tiny window to view the Jones story, which played out over many, many years and was covered almost non-stop.
During the 1990's, the three major networks averaged a combined total of nearly 90 Paula Jones reports every year, for seven straight years. But according to Brent Bozell's crack staff, the networks "ignored" the Jones tale.
The conservative media is divided on anonymous sources: Some right-wing media figures have been hyping a claim by an anonymous source that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is "likely involved with the sexual harassment" allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. At the same time, however, other conservative media figures have tried to cast doubt on the sexual harassment allegations against Cain by pointing out that they are based on anonymous sources.
Now that Herman Cain's chief aide has gone on the record accusing Rick Perry's Republican campaign of leaking the sexual harassment story this week, and now that the story continues to take shape with additional information, where does that leave race-baiting zealots on the right-wing fringe who accused liberals, Democrats and journalists of colluding to launch the "racist" Cain attack?
Yes, the Perry camp denies any involvement in the story. But the fact that not even the Cain campaign thinks the controversy was cooked up by "the left," leaves race-baiting pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Brent Bozell with even less basis to claim Cain's woes were cooked up by black-hating liberals.
Limbaugh, of course, has been unhinged all week, insisting Cain has been targeted by the "left" for being an "uppity" black. Ann Coulter announced that the "false" harassment allegations proved "liberals detest, detest, detest conservative blacks," and Media Research Center's Brent Bozell embarrassed himself by claiming that, "In the eyes of the liberal media, Herman Cain is just another uppity black American who has had the audacity to leave the liberal plantation."
There were others. Andrew Breitbart blogger Jim Hoft denounced the "racist" members of the "liberal media" who reported the Cain story, while a crew of conservative commentators called the Cain story a "high-tech lynching" by liberals.
All the usual, right-wing race baiters rushed forward this week without any facts and attacked liberals, Democrats and journalists for manufacturing the "racist" Cain story. Days later, and with the knowledge that Cain aides think a Republican was behind the sexual harassment story, the pundits' allegations look even flimsier.
Responding to a report that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain allegedly engaged in "sexually suggestive behavior" in the 1990s, right-wing media figures have turned to race-baiting, arguing that Cain is being targeted because he is a "black conservative" and that he is the victim of a "high-tech lynching."
It's hard to tell which task Fox News and the rest of the far-right media are more obsessed with these days, smearing the Occupy Wall Street protest with endless name-calling, or rewriting the history of the Tea Party to make it appear so much more serious and civil than Occupy Wall Street.
The latest whitewash attempt came last night when Monica Crowley, sitting in for Bill O'Reilly, complained the Tea Party had been smeared "for nonexistent offenses. The racism that didn't exist, the signs that didn't exist."
Guest Bernie Goldberg replied that "if there was one sign at a Tea Party rally that was racist, it would get on the air. I guess I don't have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is suggesting that it was typical of the whole movement."
Crowley insisted there were no racists signs at Tea Party rallies.
The far-right freak-out over Occupy Wall Street continues to unfold in plain view, as partisan in the conservative press lash out wildly at the populist movement. Unnerved by its growing size and strength, GOP pundits have tried their best to undermine the Wall Street effort, mostly via schoolyard taunts. When not name-calling, conservatives' have tried to rewrite the Tea Party past.
Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan argued Occupy Wall Street protesters aren't "mature" and reasonable like their conservative Tea Party counterparts. You know, the "mature" activists who protested fictional "death panels" and rallied with swastika posters. (Nice try Peggy.)
Now Media Research Center's Brent Bozell takes his turn rewriting Tea Party history. Specifically, he claims the press considered the Tea Party to be "barely worth covering" during the spring of 2009, and that the same press is giving way too much media attention to Occupy Wall Street. ("Barely worth covering"? In the months of April and May of 2009, cable news channels aired more than 150 Tea Party reports, according to Nexis, while U.S. newspapers published nearly 1,000 articles and columns mentioning the movement.)
There's no question that Occupy Wall Street has garnered heavy, and at time blockbuster, media coverage in recent days and weeks. And the attention is deserved, as the grassroots movement spreads nationwide and now boasts nearly 200 protest locations as part of its political network. (The movement is winning support from Americans too, according to pollsters.)
Bozell and the right-wing media's nervous response to the people-powered phenomena? They whine that reporters and pundits are lavishing too much attention on Occupy Wall Street, and that back in 2009 when the Tea Party movement first emerged, that same press corps ignored conservatives taking to the street.
Note that in his whine, Bozell's mum about the pivotal role Fox News played in the fledgling Tea Party and how the channel's free, unending advertising and marketing muscle helped to instantly elevate the right-wing movement. Bozell keeps quiet about that because it's awkward to argue the media ignored the Tea Party when in fact a major cable channel practically sponsored the Tea Party.
Bozell does however, acknowledge that CNBC reporter Rick Santelli gets credit for creating the Tea Party on the air with his infamous rant about the White House's mortgage bailout plan. (CNBC didn't promote subsequent Tea Party rallies, the way Fox News so aggressively did.)
Bozell complains that that key Tea Party moment was ignored [emphasis added]:
The first rhetorical shot that started the Tea Party is credited to CNBC analyst Rick Santelli on February 19, 2009, when he accused the government of "promoting bad behavior" for "losers" who wouldn't pay their mortgages and raised the possibility of a "Chicago Tea Party." CNBC calls it "The Shout Heard 'Round the World," but at the time NBC and the other Big Three network shows completely ignored it.
Bozell's certain: the Big Three networks all ignored Santelli's call to Tea Party arms.
Except that, of course, they did not.
Not only did NBC not ignore Santelli's rant the day it was uncorked on CNBC, but NBC made it the lead story on its Nightly News that evening. NBC News then returned to the topic again and again in the week that directly followed with nearly one dozen on-air reports from NBC, which couldn't stop talking about Rick Santelli's Tea Party rant.
(For the record, ABC and CBS also covered Santelli's harangue that week.)
But today, spooked by Occupy Wall Street, conservative press cop Brent Bozell fabricates the claim that NBC "completely ignored" the Rick Santelli Tea Party story.
Hey Brent, stop trying to rewrite the Tea Party past.
In the ominously title report, "From Democratic Promoters to Republican Destroyers," Brent Bozell's Media Research Center set out once again to 'prove' just how liberally corrupt and biased the mainstream media are. Specifically, the report claimed that on the network morning shows, such as Today, hosts asked Republican candidates tougher, "adversarial" questions than they did Democratic candidates running four years ago.
Given Media Research Center's dubious history of truth telling, it's not surprising that upon closer scrutiny the report does not hold up. For instance, note the specific allegation that the networks gave "little airtime" to Republican candidates this year (between Jan. 1 and Sept. 15) as opposed to Democrats four years ago. (Bias!)
From MRC [emphasis added]
The leader of the pack was Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, who was featured in 14 morning show interviews totaling more than 71 minutes (see chart). The runner-up was former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who — despite the visibility gained from nine interviews totaling 42 minutes — never rose beyond single digits in the national polls and dropped out after a disappointing third-place finish in the August 13 Iowa straw poll.
Getting nearly as much attention as Pawlenty was billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who flirted with a candidacy back in March and April. Trump was featured in five interviews totaling 39 minutes. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman also appeared five times for a total of nearly 26 minutes, with Romney rounding out the top five with 21 minutes.
A potpourri of other candidates were also given a chance to reach the relatively large audience watching the networks' morning news shows: Texas Congressman Ron Paul (3 interviews, 17 minutes); former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (3 interviews, 14 minutes); former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (2 interviews, 10 minutes); and businessman Herman Cain (2 interviews, 7 minutes).
What was the Republican tally for morning news shows? A total of 247 minutes. To me, that seems like a healthy amount of time set aside for Republicans.
Please note that MRC makes a big deal out of the fact that the morning shows did not have Rick Perry on during the late summer as he became a major player in the GOP campaign. But does MRC have proof that the morning shows never invited Perry? Because the Texas governor declined to do almost all national media interviews during the late summer.
Meanwhile, how does that 247 minute total compare to Democratic candidates four years ago? We're supposed to believe it's much smaller than the times allotted to Democrats:
In 2007, Networks Flocked to Democratic Frontrunners: Four years ago, those same morning shows highlighted the frontrunners in the Democratic race. Hillary Clinton snagged the most airtime, with 10 appearances totaling 71 minutes (coincidentally, the same amount of time the GOP's only female candidate, Michele Bachmann, received this year). Then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama was featured in 11 interviews (52 minutes), followed by John Edwards (5 appearances, 47 minutes); former Vice President Al Gore, touted as a possible candidate in early 2007 (8 appearances, 43 minutes) and then-Delaware Senator Joe Biden (6 appearances, 28 minutes).
The Democratic tally? Um, 241 minutes, which is nearly identical to the Republican total of 247. So much for there being a Democratic bias. And oops, MRC included Al Gore on the list because he was a "possible candidate in early 2007."
From Feb. 9, 2007:
Former US vice-president Al Gore reiterated here that he does not intend to run for president in 2008 -- though he did not entirely rule out doing so further in the future.
So by the second month of 2007, Gore had made it clear he wasn't running. Yet MRC included all of Gore's morning show TV appearances between January and mid-September, most of them having to do with environmental issues, as part of its tally of Democratic candidates.
Truth is, if you subtract Gore from the list, the network morning shows devoted 198 minutes to Democratic candidates in 2007, compared to 247 minutes to Republicans this year. But yes, according to MRC that only proves the media's liberal bias.
Right-wing media have falsely claimed that "unions and left-wing groups" spent roughly $30 million, or have otherwise ignored money spent by conservative groups, to influence the recent Wisconsin recall elections. In fact, about $30 million was reportedly spent by right-wing and left-wing groups combined, "with a slight edge possible to Republicans overall."
After relentlessly pushing the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed climate scientists deceitfully manipulating data, conservative media are celebrating a Rasmussen Reports poll finding that a majority of Americans believe "some scientists" have likely "falsified research data" to support "their own theories and beliefs about global warming."
From the July 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Appearing on Fox & Friends, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell dismissed President Reagan's 1987 warning that Congress should avoid using the debt ceiling for "brinkmanship" that would threaten default and harm the economy, pointing instead to comments Reagan made in the same speech opposing tax increases. But those comments in no way lessen Reagan's warning against default.
From the July 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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History shows that right-wing media are not big fans of the United Nations. So it was no surprise, then, that the release this week of a U.N. survey prompted panic and fearmongering among some conservative media.
L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Media Research Center, took to Fox & Friends today to call the report, "World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation," "outrageous" and claimed it calls for "global socialism," "global governance," and a "one-world government." From the broadcast:
MOLLY LINE (guest host): The United Nations is pushing for a green economy, but what exactly does that mean? A new report says, quote, a comprehensive global energy transition is urgently needed in order to avert a major planetary catastrophe. And the price tag, $76 trillion over the next 40 years. Brent Bozell is the president of the Media Research Center, here to join us and chat about it this morning. Good morning, Brent. Thanks for being here.
BOZELL: Good morning. How are you doing?
LINE: Good, good. All is well. Let's talk a little bit about the money that is involved here, because it's a lot of money. A grand total of $1.9 trillion per year, 40 years adding up to that $76 trillion. U.N. researchers claimed it would cost $600 billion a year over the next decade to go green previously, so the number has really jumped quite a bit. But we're not hearing a lot about this. Why do you think that is?
BOZELL: It's so outrageous. If the American people knew that the U.N. Secretary General has signed off on this report -- this is serious stuff. This is what they want. If the public knew what they want -- they're calling for a radically new economic system. They're calling for global governance. Folks, that's one-world government. I'm not a nut bag here. This is what they're calling for in this paper. It went from $600 billion two years ago to $1.9 trillion over -- per year for 40 years. $76 trillion. They want half of it to go to developing countries. That's a massive redistribution of wealth. This is global socialism. If the American people knew about it, the first thing they'd be asking themselves is what in the world are we doing making contributions to this socialist enterprise? The media coverage on this, absolutely nothing.
LINE: There -- this is a tremendous amount of money we're talking about, more than five times America's GDP. There is another quote here. A Chinese diplomat at the U.N., connected to the Rio summit, said this, that the United States of America is a country that people around the world admire for its can do attitude. Here people believe that no problem is too big for human ingenuity to solve. The world has never needed that ingenuity more than it does now. The people need your leadership. So in a sense, the question here really is, what will the price tag be for America? Right now, we're paying about 22 percent of the U.N. agency's budget already.
BOZELL: Of course they admire us. They admire our success. They admire our money even more than our success. Here is something interesting. One week before this report came out about this global warming, another U.N. report came out going after China for causing global cooling with their coal policies. I wish they could decide which one it was. By the way, when you have global cooling and global warming, what do you have? Climate change. It's also called weather.
Just to address Bozell's last few points quickly, it's true that a recent report found that sulfur pollution from China may have had a global cooling effect; but, as a July 4 Associated Press article noted, the effect was only that "the rise in Earth's temperature paused for a bit during the 2000s," which is still "one of the hottest decades on record." Also, as Media Matters has previously noted, climate change and weather are not the same thing -- climate change is a long-term trend observed over many years.
It's no secret that the right-wing media are on the defense when it comes to Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin -- even when it means sticking up for their ludicrously inaccurate accounts of American history. Yet, somewhere along the way, correcting misinformation became synonymous with liberal bias, at least according to the right-wing media.
This week on the right-wing media defense agenda, Michele Bachmann. As you may have read, in an interview this week with Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos, Bachmann absurdly claimed that John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father who worked to eradicate slavery. The latter is true; however, John Quincy Adams was a young boy at the time Paul Revere was ringin' those bells to warn the British that they weren't gonna take our arms. You betcha. So, understandably, the so-called mainstream media, specifically Stephanopoulos (and Conan O'Brien, for that matter), did what anyone would do. They pointed out Bachmann's gaffes and moved on.