| Media Matters for America

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  • Here Are The Big Players In The Inevitable Smear Campaign Against Judge Merrick Garland

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    As President Obama reportedly prepares to announce Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, media should be prepared to hear from several right-wing groups dedicated to opposing the nominee, no matter who it is. These advocacy groups and right-wing media outlets have a history of pushing misleading information and alarmist rhetoric to launch smear campaigns against Obama's highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, using tactics including, but not limited to, spreading offensive rumors about a nominee's personal life, deploying bogus legal arguments or conspiracy theories, and launching wild distortions of every aspect of a nominee's legal career.

  • Media Are Missing Marco Rubio's Oil Ties In Coverage Of His Fossil Fuel-Friendly Energy Plan

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    In coverage of GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio's newly released energy plan, which calls for expanding oil production and rolling back environmental safeguards against pollution, media are failing to mention that Rubio has received campaign funding from the oil billionaire Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests, and is reportedly a leading contender to benefit from hundreds of millions more in support from the Kochs.

  • A Bus Tour About... What, Exactly?

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    This coming weekend the Romney campaign will embark upon a bus tour of various swing states, a tour they've straightforwardly christened: "The Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class." The tour coincides with the campaign's release of said "plan," a one-page document that lays out five avenues to "more jobs and more take-home pay." Already some news outlets are reporting on the bus tour and how it fits into the broader economic themes of the presidential race, but what we're not seeing is any real acknowledgement that Romney's "plan for a stronger middle class" isn't actually a "plan."

    Yesterday, reported on how Romney is looking for "the limelight" on the bus tour, which "allows a candidate to combine old-school, grassroots campaigning with a themed message that can capture the attention of the national media and thus, a national audience." On Wednesday, the New York Times presented the bus tour as part of Romney's strategy to exploit economic discontent and push back against Obama campaign criticisms that he is out of touch.

    OK, so Romney's using his "Plan for a Stronger Middle Class" to woo middle class voters -- what exactly is that plan? Not much, it turns out. 

  • CBS To Receive Award From Fringe Group At CPAC

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is set to receive a journalism award at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference from Accuracy in Media, a right-wing group with a long history of promoting anti-gay views and conspiracy theories. Attkisson -- the first reporter from a mainstream news outlet to receive AIM's annual award -- has produced some notably bad journalism over the past year, particularly on the topics of clean energy and vaccines.

  • CBS Falls Victim To Its Own Bad Journalism

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    CBSOver the weekend, ran an AP report on the bankruptcy of Ener1, whose subsidiary received contracts under the Bush administration and a grant under the Obama administration to manufacture batteries for electric cars. CBS added this paragraph and an accompanying video to the AP report:

    A CBS News investigation found earlier this month that a dozen green-energy companies - which in total received at least $6.5 billion in stimulus money from the federal government - have filed for bankruptcy protection.

    But the CBS "investigation" found no such thing. Earlier this month, CBS ran an error-ridden report by Sharyl Attkisson which purported to reveal 11 "New Solyndras." Attkisson said these clean energy companies were "having trouble" or had "filed for bankruptcy" after receiving a total of $6.5 billion in federal assistance (making no distinction between loan guarantees and grants.) The deeply flawed report has been eagerly repeated by conservative media; Bill O'Reilly managed to use it to falsely claim "We gave France 1.2 billion."

    But CBS is counting companies that didn't even receive federal funds, companies that haven't actually gone bankrupt, and companies that have sold the government-backed projects to other firms. CBS hasn't even identified 4 of the 11 companies it claimed are endangering taxpayer money. And instead of issuing a correction, CBS is doubling down on this shoddy reporting in a way that recalls the editorial standards of Fox News.

  • CBS Combines Unrelated Reporting On Deficit, Obama Fundraising

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    In a article, CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller decides to play it cute, combining the totally unrelated topics of the deficit and President Obama's recently announced fundraising numbers.

    Despite government deficit, Obama campaign flush with cash

    The federal government faces financial default, but the Obama re-election campaign is flush.

    Campaign Manager Jim Messina sent a video to campaign supporters early this morning that the Obama Victory Fund had raised over $86 million in the first three months of its operations: April through June.

    Conveniently the remainder of the article never again mentions the deficit. This may be because the two numbers have nothing to do with each other.

    In case CBS is unclear, here's a refresher -- the budget deficit is a calculation of the spending and receipts of the entire U.S. federal government. By comparison, the fundraising announced from the Obama campaign comes from money citizens have donated to a presidential campaign. Money is involved in both, but they are unrelated.

  • Shock: Another misleading Drudge headline

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

    If you head over to the Drudge Report today, you might be left with the false impression that the government is blocking you from accessing websites that espouse "controversial opinions."

    Why? Because once again, Drudge is blaring a big, misleading headline at the top of his site -- this time with the help of

    Drudge is hyping the headline, "BIG SIS BLOCKS WEBSITES WITH 'CONTROVERSIAL OPINIONS' " -- clearly suggesting that the Department of Homeland Security is blocking your access to certain websites:


    Drudge is linking to a article, which has the equally misleading headline, "TSA to Block 'Controversial Opinion' on the Web":


    Both of these headlines give the false impression that the government is now restricting access to these sites for everyone -- which is obviously not true. As the article clearly states, according to an email TSA sent to its employees, "TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed 'inappropriate for government access.' " According to the article, these categories are:

    • Chat/Messaging
    • Controversial opinion
    • Criminal activity
    • Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content
    • Gaming further noted: "There is also no explanation as to why controversial opinions are being blocked, although the email stated that some of the restricted websites violate the Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy."

    So, yes, TSA is blocking its employees from browsing sites that might violate its conduct policies. But head over to Drudge -- thanks to -- and this is spun to suggest that the government is now censoring all "controversial opinions" on the Web.

  • CBS News article on "early conservative reaction" to Kagan's nomination is filled with misinformation

    ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

    Following reports that President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, CBS News published an article on the "early conservative reaction" to Obama's pick. The article only cited conservatives critical of Kagan's nomination, despite the fact that she has garnered support from numerous conservatives, and it advanced misinformation about her record.

  • More on CBS publishing unsubstantiated, unsourced gossip about Elena Kagan

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    In a statement to CBS News, right-wing serial plagiarist Ben Domenech has now admitted that the unsubstantiated, unsourced gossip about Solicitor General Elena Kagan's personal life contained in his "opinion" article published by CBS was a "rumor."

    Earlier today, CBS republished an article from Domenech's website in which he discussed possible Supreme Court nominees. In the article, Domenech wrote of Kagan (emphasis added):

    The likeliest candidate, and it was somewhat of a surprise she didn't get picked last time. Pluses: would please much of Obama's base, follows diversity politics of Sotomayor with first openly gay justice (so would Karlan and Sullivan). [Update: While Karlan and Sullivan are open about it, I have to correct my text here to say that Kagan is apparently still closeted -- odd, because her female partner is rather well known in Harvard circles.]

    CBS subsequently appended an "editor's note" which explained that Domenech's reference to Kagan was flatly denied by the White House. Some time after, CBS added the following statement from Domenech:

    I offer my sincere apologies to Ms. Kagan if she is offended at all by my repetition of a Harvard rumor in a speculative blog post.

    It is completely unsurprising that a right-wing blogger would publish an entirely unsourced "rumor" about a prominent member of the Obama administration. But somewhere between that rumor appearing on that blogger's website and its promotion by CBS News, one assumes that some sort of fact-checking is supposed to occur.

    And yet, CBS seems to have made no attempt to determine the veracity of Domenech's claims until hours after they turned their platform over to him. And now even he has been forced to admit that his claim was nothing more than a "rumor." He heard it somewhere, he wrote it, and now with the power of CBS News behind him, his assertion has been trumpeted to the world.

    And so we ask: Does CBS News have any standards whatsoever? Because right now, it's hard to see them.

  • CBS promotes fabricated controversy over White House health care emails

    Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

    Earlier this week, we highlighted a Newsmax column by Richard Grenell, in which he ranted that a health care reform plan to permit coverage of dependents on their parents' insurance up to age 26 means those youths will be "enticed to continue slacking, without a job, well past college graduation," adding that "ski bums everywhere are cheering the news."

    Imagine our surprise to learn that within a week, Grenell -- "spokesman for the last four U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations: Zalmay Khalilzad, John Bolton, John Danforth and John Negroponte" -- had somehow graduated from Newsmax to CBS News.

    Yes, has published an "opinion" column by Grenell. He manages to avoid maligning slackers this time; rather, he accuses White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle of sending "annoying and partisan emails" to federal employees promoting health care reform. Grenell claims that some federal employees "feel threatened" by the emails and suggests there will be "retribution" if "the federal employee doesn't act in the way The White House is suggesting." Grenell goes on to ponder: "Has The White House requested that another federal agency monitor who is acting on behalf of Obama's health reform bill and who is not?"

    Grenell's column is pure speculation -- he provides no evidence whatsoever that any retribution has or will taken place. He also doesn't provide any quotes -- even anonymous quotes -- from federal employees.

    In fact, despite Grenell's claim that the emails are being sent "unsolicited" to federal employees, it appears they are sent out to everyone on the mailing list. Further, versions of them are also posted on the White House website. One email's request to "help raise awareness by sharing this email with your friends, family and online networks" is not specifically targeted at federal employees, as Grenell implies -- it's to everyone who got a copy. If Grenell was on the White House's email list, he would presumably have gotten the same message.

    Grenell's complete lack of substance, of course, didn't keep Fox Nation from promoting his column at the top of its front page:


    Who's Grenell's agent? We'd like to meet the guy who allowed Grenell to bust down the doors of CBS News with such empty speculation.