By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
As 2014 comes to an end, and the new year begins, we want to highlight some of the worst abuses by America’s news media in the past year. We have picked 10 stories for which there were general narratives presented by the mainstream media, which either ignored the larger truths to be gleaned from these stories, or, in some cases, the media missed the story altogether. We easily could have picked 15 topics that met those criteria, but arbitrarily chose to look at 10, and in no particular order.
Among the glaring examples of journalistic malpractice in 2014 was the Rolling Stone magazine report of an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia. There was near-unanimous agreement that the publication failed in its most basic journalistic responsibility: to attempt to verify whether or not the story they were publishing was true, and what those accused of this alleged crime had to say in their own defense.
The ongoing IRS scandal, involving the targeting of conservative organizations for their political beliefs, and a blatant attempt to cover it all up, could also have been on this list. The media went along with the Obama administration claim that the IRS story is a phony scandal, without a “smidgen of corruption.”
What the stories we have chosen have in common is that in each case, the media have gone with a narrative that is intended to put the Obama administration, the Democratic Party, or the left in general in the best possible light, all things considered. Clearly, one can find articles and interviews and TV reports that contradict those narratives, and even some that put the Obama administration in a negative light. However, this is our view of how a corrupt, mainstream media attempt to spin these stories, and a brief analysis of what is being ignored or misreported:
- Benghazi: The Scandal that Won’t Die
- Obama’s Cynical Leadership
- Obama’s Foreign Policy Disasters
- The Rise of the Islamic State & Islamic Terror
- Covering Momentous Elections
- Democratic Civil War
- Continued Failures of Obamacare
- How the Media Inflame Racial Tensions
- Media Portray Israel as the Aggressor
- Judges Challenge Obama Actions
1. Benghazi: The Scandal that Won’t Die
In November, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released what it called the “definitive” report on Benghazi regarding the activities of the intelligence community in Benghazi, Libya, surrounding the deadly terrorist attacks that killed four Americans on September 11th and 12th in 2012. Reporters and pundits argued that this new report proves that Benghazi is a dead-and-buried story and that there is nothing new to learn about the attacks nor the efforts by the Obama administration to cover up the truth of what happened. They must have not read the report by the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB), nor the media coverage thereof.
Our April 22 press briefing and Interim Report outlined how Muammar Gaddafi offered a truce to discuss his abdication in March 2011, which was rejected by the Obama administration. In addition, the CCB found that the U.S. government had knowingly facilitated the delivery of weapons to al Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya, that the failure to bring military assets to attempt to rescue our people in Libya amounts to a dereliction of duty, and that what was needed was a Select Committee on Benghazi to uncover the ensuing government-wide cover-up. The CCB’s findings received coverage from the Drudge Report, the Daily Mail, Newsmax, Town Hall, Fox News, and others, but only for a couple of days. However, within about two weeks of our press conference, the House voted to create a Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks. The verdict is out on whether or not the House Select Committee remains really determined, and empowered, to reveal the whole truth about what happened. If so, that will involve holding Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Barack Obama accountable for their actions before, during and after this sordid scandal.
- Obama’s Cynical Leadership
The New York Post’s William McGurn called President Obama “shamelessly cynical” on immigration because the President had punted this issue until past the election, so that voters’ input had little effect on the President’s actions. “Like every other action this President has taken on immigration, this new one will, in fact, make genuine immigration reform less rather than more likely,” wrote McGurn. Yet the President and his administration continue to call for immigration legislation as a means to mitigate and counteract the President’s clear executive overreach.
President Obama also delayed Obamacare’s employer mandate for medium-sized employers until 2016, and an Iranian nuclear deal keeps on being pushed off into the sunset. The normalization of relations with Cuba also occurred after an election that could be seen as a repudiation of the President’s radical policies, yet we see more of the same. “[American voters are] going to see Washington working better if this president has his way,” said White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough just days after the November elections.
In the wake of such administration intransigence, POLITICO started championing “Obama libre”—the liberation of Obama from his earlier hesitancy and doubt. He is unleashed, the media argue, to be the president he always wanted to be during his lame duck session. Is that because he no longer feels accountable to the voters? Did he ever? The President must realize that what he is doing is making it highly unlikely that there will be any meaningful cooperation with Congress in the upcoming session.
- Obama Foreign Policy Disasters
President Obama’s foreign policy disasters continue apace. In November, his administration eased sanctions on Iran provided that it “limit the growth of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, convert or dilute its uranium that is close to bomb-grade, and not install any new machines for producing uranium fuel,” according to USA Today. What the media did not say is that this heralds the acceptance of a rogue state—which sponsors terror and threatens the international community—and its ability to move forward in enriching uranium, ostensibly under the auspices of a peaceful nuclear energy program. The administration is desperate to achieve an agreement, so that they can claim to have achieved “peace in our time.” Meanwhile, Iran has repeatedly proven itself to be untrustworthy.
The Obama foreign policy crises turned so sour that when the Islamic State rose up in Iraq and Syria, the media couldn’t help but note President Obama’s “evolving” rhetoric—which ranged from containment to utter destruction. The Washington Post gave White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest four Pinocchios for his claim that Obama wasn’t singling out the Islamic State (IS) when he called the group a “junior varsity” team in an interview with the New Yorker magazine.
By the administration’s own estimate, the military response to the war against IS will likely last three years, with the actual destruction of terrorist havens in Syria punted to the next administration. Currently, the plan is to vet 5,000 Free Syrian Army members, train them in Saudi Arabia, and bring them back to defeat and destroy IS. Meanwhile, members of the media complain that they don’t have access to any of the bombers or the ability to embed with the troops to report on what’s really happening. The truth of the matter is that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry claim to have put together a coalition of more than 60 nations to help the U.S. “degrade and defeat” IS. In the meantime, IS continues to butcher and force conversion or death on tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis, and the U.S. is serving as the Air Force for Iran against IS, while leaving their proxy, Basher Assad, in charge in Syria, where more than 200,000 people have already died since that war began in 2011.
The normalization of relations with Cuba was really a lifeline to a desperate, failed communist regime, but to the media, it was a welcome and long overdue act. CBS’s “60 Minutes” apparently had advance notice, as their cameras were there capturing events as they unfolded, helping to spin this into a foreign policy victory for Obama. The journalist Daniel Greenfield demonstrated what a betrayal this was to the Cuban people, yet it was an act very consistent with Barack Obama’s prejudices in favor of leftist thugs. It was also another broken promise. Obama had said that he would support and promote normalization with Cuba, reported The New York Times, only “if Cuba took steps toward democracy and released all political prisoners.” Instead, we got nothing in return.
- The Rise of the Islamic State & Islamic Terror
Examples of beheadings, murders, and other killings by ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State (IS), al Qaeda and various “lone wolves” are increasing at an alarming pace, but the media dislike reporting on them in a religious context, even when it comes to the beheading of their own journalists by IS. There is a failure in the West, by the media and our government, to acknowledge and confront the threat to our freedoms and our way of life by Islamists bent on spreading their poisonous ideology.
In our coverage of the Moore, Oklahoma beheading, we noted that MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry was quick to label the Islam-inspired attack as “workplace violence” and said that the attacker’s Islamic affiliation had as little to do with his actions as what he’d eaten for breakfast. Yet we also have seen the attack at the Canadian Parliament; Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley’s murder of two Brooklyn police officers in December; the attack on four policemen in New York in November by a hatchet-wielding convert to Islam, called a terrorist act by Police Commissioner William Bratton; the Taliban murder of 141 (mostly children) in Pakistan; the Sydney, Australia hostage situation resulting in three deaths, including that of the Islamic terrorist responsible for the crime; jihadists driving cars into groups of pedestrians in France; and Islamic State massacres of religious minorities, burying some alive.
What does it take to spark media outrage? Instead, when the FBI decides to categorize the Moore, Oklahoma decapitation as workplace violence, we have Mark Berman of The Washington Post debating how some experts define terrorism. He quoted terrorism analyst J.M. Berger as saying, “One of the problems with an inconsistent definition of terrorism is basically, if a Muslim does it, it’s terrorism and if a white guy does it, it’s not…” What is it going to take to end this ongoing slaughter by jihadists, acting in the name of Islam?
- Covering Momentous Elections
Throughout 2014 the public was alternately told that the Republican Party had failed miserably due to its unpopular government shutdown of last year, that the Republican-dominated House had blocked too much legislation and was a “do-nothing Congress,” and that the American people outright disapprove of the GOP as compared to the Democratic Party. And sometimes the media openly took sides. Accuracy in Media reported how “Lean Forward, an MSNBC motto developed in 2010, morphed into a campaign theme President Obama adopted in his 2012 campaign, and has come to mean, Vote Democratic.”
When the election neared and it became clear that the GOP would have a sweeping victory, the media started to downplay polling numbers that showed President Obama’s support was flagging.
Then the election arrived, and there was a shellacking. Now, states with a GOP-controlled legislature and governor outnumber Democrat-controlled states by a margin of 24 to 7, on top of GOP majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate. But the media had a different take on it. Instead of receiving a mandate, the GOP was told that the message from elections was to compromise with the President’s radical policies, although the people had clearly rejected them.
Matthew Dowd of ABC News said, “This wasn’t a vote for them, it was a rejection of the President and it was a rejection of the politics that’s been practiced the last couple of years in Washington, D.C.” He asserted, “Well, the Republican brand is still very damaged.” But, as AIM reported, polling showed that 53% of Americans wanted the GOP to have more control over the country’s direction than Obama in 2015. For more than a year, we had heard incessantly how out of touch and unpopular the Republicans were, and how damaged they were because they had become too extreme.
- Democratic Civil War
Conflicts within the GOP grab headlines, but what about conflicts within the Democratic Party? In the case of the Republican takeover of the House and Senate, “Republican leaders won’t be able to satisfy their restive members with the familiar…excuse that they only control one-half of one-third of government,” said the New Republic, a magazine in turmoil. Yet, the last thing Republicans want is to “allow inmates to take over the asylum.”
Contrast that with coverage given to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), whose agitation during the threatened 2014 government shutdown earned her praise as presidential material from The Washington Post. There is, in fact, a crisis in the Democratic Party, as many Democrats are running from President Obama’s record, and presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has proven to be “not ready for primetime,” according to POLITICO. The long knives are coming out, as more and more Democrats and their media allies are calling for “anybody but Hillary” for the Democratic nomination.
We reported on Hillary’s many gaffes in what The Washington Post called her “Worst Week in Washington.” Hillary claimed that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. (She had signed an $8 million book deal before leaving, and her husband has earned over $100 million in speeches.) The Washington Post expressed dismay that “some Democrats fear” Clinton evokes an “imperial image that could be damaging in 2016.” But perhaps, for us, Hillary’s most evocative image remains her question, “What difference at this point does it make?”—which will haunt any presidential campaign she embarks upon.
- Continued Failure of Obamacare
Obamacare continues to be the signature legislation of the Obama administration, and, therefore, must be championed by the press. The New York Times, and other outlets, tried in vain this year to cover the “successes” of the health care legislation, be it through anecdotal evidence or inflated health care numbers. CNN reported in July that 10 million Americans gained health insurance this year due to the Affordable Care Act. We helped expose these numbers for the fraud that they are. In reality, there is only about “a net increase in private-sector coverage” of about 2.5 million individuals. The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal found that 71% of the increase in coverage was “attributable to Obamacare expanding Medicaid to able-bodied, working-age adults.”
Yet how many people have lost full time jobs or couldn’t find them as a result of the perverse incentives written into the law? Many Americans are unable to meet the high deductibles with these plans, and, as a result, are forgoing important medical procedures in order to ration their own health care. Yet about 85 percent of those signing up on the exchanges qualify for subsidies, a major redistribution of wealth.
Now federal investigators have found that half of listed Medicaid providers are unable or unwilling to serve enrollees. Ultra-narrow networks, which dominate the signature legislation, have also led to reduced care under Obamacare this year.
- How the Media Inflame Racial Tensions
Our race-baiting media have fomented strife between citizens and the police, citing false statistics such as that blacks are 21 times more likely to be killed by the police than whites, driving a further wedge between the police and their communities.
MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, who headed the witch-hunt for George Zimmerman last year, has led the charge on behalf of the late Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s families. He has been a rallying figure behind the protests. Some of the left’s demonstrations against the police have been led by Sharpton, and were encouraged by Attorney General Eric Holder, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and President Barack Obama. Most of the speakers at the demonstrations criticized the police, or talked about racism by the police—and Ferguson, Missouri burned and protesters attacked NYPD cops. Brown’s stepfather shouted “burn the b—ch down!” Protesters even chanted, “What do we want? Dead cops!” But after a “mentally ill” man killed two cops in Brooklyn, The Washington Post provided protest leaders with a chance to point to their disclaimer statements calling for peaceful protests only, and The New York Times merely highlighted the “change in tone” after the attacks.
The evidence shows that Ferguson and Staten Island weren’t racial incidents, but they are being used to inflame racial tensions.
- Media Portray Israel as Aggressor
Hamas planned a massive tunnel attack on Israel this year, to occur on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. The attack would allegedly have included mass killings and kidnappings around Israel. However, the media firestorm surrounding Operation Protective Edge blamed Israel, casting it as the aggressor in last summer’s war, which was instigated by continuous missile attacks from Gaza in the direction of Israel’s civilian population. Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza, committed the double war crime of using women and children as human shields while aggressively trying to kill Israeli civilians. They used hospitals and schools to launch attacks, hoping for return fire, in order to turn the world against Israel.
Although Israel agreed to ceasefire after ceasefire with Hamas, the media highlighted when Secretary of State John Kerry played “peacemaker” by consulting Qatar and Turkey, and, as we reported, “submitting a draft proposal that completely favored Hamas.” The media assertions that “there was little substantive difference between the proposal drafted by Secretary Kerry and the one released by the Egyptians earlier” that month was “quite frankly, untrue.”
As President Obama and Secretary Kerry kept blaming Israel for the ongoing hostilities, there was massive dishonesty by the media in this respect and in the treatment of casualty numbers. Unfortunately, the media continued to get its casualty count from biased sources on the ground in Gaza, but we also set the record straight about the inflated numbers.
- Judges Challenge Obama Actions
As of June, President Obama had suffered his 12th unanimous defeat at the hands of the Supreme Court, according to National Review. But some have observed that this may be just the “tip of the iceberg,” since not all cases have made their way to the nation’s highest court. One pending Supreme Court case, King vs. Burwell, will determine the future of Obamacare subsidies, and will come before the court in March 2015. Will the judges rule against the administration there, as well?
In December, the administration suffered a setback when federal district court Judge Arthur Schwab concluded, “President Obama’s unilateral legislative action [on immigration policy] violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore, is unconstitutional.” This was because, in part, Schwab wrote in a 38-page opinion, the executive action “allows undocumented immigrants, who fall within these broad categories, to obtain substantive rights.”
As President Obama continues his executive overreach as a means to step around Congressional oversight and ignore the nation’s system of checks and balances, many of these battles will likely continue to be fought out in the courts.