Right wing needs its own "facts" to find liberal bias at WJLA

Blog ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

Yesterday, NewsBusters picked up the story of local Washington, DC news anchor Doug McKelway, who was recently suspended from broadcast on DC's ABC affiliate, WJLA. NewsBusters, and other conservative blogs that have run with the story, are pushing yet another baseless allegation of liberal bias in the media, claiming that McKelway was forced off the air for reporting the "facts" about how much money BP had donated to Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

However, the right-wing blogosphere doesn't have its facts straight regarding the incident, and instead are relying on mere speculation.

To begin with, The Washington Post report -- upon which conservative blogs base their accusations -- provides no such evidence of what Big Journalism calls the "mainstream media silencing those who report inconvenient truths about this administration." In fact, the Post's article states that McKelway's suspension stemmed from comments he made "not to viewers but to his boss" in a meeting held in response to that segment. The paper also quotes one of McKelway's co-workers at WJLA, albeit under condition of anonymity, who states that "[t]he issue wasn't what he said in the live shot. It was what he said when he was questioned about it by Bill ... The issue is insubordination."

Additionally, the segment these conservative blogs tout as "accurate" "facts" for which McKelway was punished by the liberals at WJLA and its parent company Allbritton Communications, is far from factual. In the report, McKelway claims that the "strategy" of "far left environmental groups" rallying against members of Congress who have "dirty oil money on their hands" is a "risky" one, "because the one man who has more campaign contributions from BP than anybody else in history is now sitting in the Oval Office -- President Barack Obama -- who accepted $77,051 in campaign contributions from BP."

As Media Matters has noted, Barack Obama's presidential campaign did not receive donations from the BP corporation. While Obama's Senate campaign did receive a total of $1,000 from BP's PAC in 2004, the donation was less than what 21 other Senate candidates received from the BP PAC that year. The figure that McKelway uses in his report is the amount of money Obama received from employees of the company. An amount, by the way, which accounted for only .01% of Obama's total fundraising.

So while these right-wing blogs lament the fact that it's impossible "for a reporter in Barack Obama's Washington to mention on air that President Obama's a major recipient of BP cash without getting chewed out in the newsroom," what they really should be concerned about is the accuracy of their own reporting.

NewsBusters, Big Journalism
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