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Monday, June 11, 2007

"Professor News" Gets Schooled (At Least About One Reader)


My local newspaper features a very liberal columnist who also teaches Journalism at one of the universities in my state. He refers to himself as "Professor News."

I usually read a few paragraphs to see what his soapbox holds that week, but not much more. It isn't like I'll read anything other than more Bush-bashing, abortion advocacy and the standard fabrications commonly assumed to be true by far too many in the Northeast, but this one column screamed out for a little "education."

It's entitled, "Democrats wrong to shun Fox." The general gist of the column is "Fox News is a rightwingfundienutjob mouthpiece but the Democratic Presidential candidates should participate in their televised debates in order to educate Fox's uneducated, misinformed viewers of the Democrats' oh-so-attractive values and planks." "Professor News," aka Paul Janensch, quotes comedian Bill Maher: "'Take it to their [the Republicans' pet news channel] house. Win an away game.'"

I decided to write the Professor and the editors of the paper. The latter haven't printed my letter (probably won't) but I did receive some interesting replies from Janensch. Here for your reading pleasure is the entire exchange.

June 5, 2007

This is an open letter to Paul Janensch, columnist published in The Connecticut Post.

Dear Mr. Janensch,

I was amazed, but not surprised, when I read your June 3 column, in particular your opinion that "Fox news blatantly spins to the right." This is a prevalent misconception held by most here in the Northeast and in California by virtue of the fact their viewpoint emanates from where they (and you) actually sit on the left-right continuum. I'm quite sure I won't convince you to change your unwavering belief that that is indeed true, but something about your "blatant spin to the left" of this as though it were "a fact" just begged for a response.

Perhaps you'd be interested in reading the study "A Measure of Media Bias," by Tim Groseclose, Department of Political Science, UCLA (an uber-liberal bastion of politics), and Jeff Milyo, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, Dec. 2004:

They used objective means and found that 14 major journalism/news outlets are "moderately left" of a neutral center point, four are "far left of center," only two are "right of center", and 14 of the left-biased ones are farther left of center than FOX News is right of center:

"Fox News' Special Report, while right of center, was closer to the center than any of the three major networks' evening news broadcasts."

They also describe the John Lott and Kevin Hassett (2004) findings [] that, "Of the ten major newspapers that they examine, they find that nine are more likely to report a negative headline if the president is Republican."

It would appear that it isn't, as you claim, that "the Republicans that have made the 'liberal media' a campaign issue for a number of years." The media sources themselves have accomplished that, quite by their lonesomes.

Of course Fox News looks "blatantly right" to you: you're sitting in far left-field. So much for "unbiased journalism" in this or the next generation, at least among your Quinnipiac University journalism students who buy what you're selling them.

Annie Banno
Paul Janensch emailed almost immediately this reply:
Dear Ms. Banno:

I think there is general agreement that commentary on the Fox News Channel -- which is more than half its total programming -- is dominated by conservatives, such as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, John Gibson and the three hosts of the morning show, and their guests. Thank you for your letter. I have no objection to its being published by the Post.

Paul Janensch
So I replied back.
Thank you for your response. Again, I point out the studies cited. They specifically state, "All of our findings refer strictly to the news stories of the outlets." Not the talking heads of commentary.

I don't even watch Fox News nor do I watch/listen to the talking heads, hosts and guests you mentioned. Never have, in fact. You can--and do--choose to count talking heads all you like to justify your "case" but that doesn't make it accurate fact. I look at the JOURNALISM, the news reporting itself, to be informed of the true facts, as well as the objective means cited to assess its slantedness or lack thereof, not "general agreement" on talking headcounts by an un/misinformed populace.

Annie Banno
"Professor News" tried again, while trying to evade most of my points. It isn't clear to me that he even read the studies for which I'd provided him links.
As I think I made clear in my column, I was talking about the commentary, not the news segments.
All one has to do is read his column to see that he doesn't even bother with the thin veil for his contempt for Fox News, not just the "opinion mongers." So I called him on it.
"...accuse Fox News of being a mouthpiece for the Republican Party..."
"...still attack Fox for being unfair and unbalanced..."
"...a substantial majority of Fox viewers voted for President Bush in 2004."
"Fox News blatantly spins to the right."

Not "accuse Fox News commentary," or "attack Fox commentary," or "majority of Fox commentators aficionados" or "Fox News commentary blatantly spins to the right."

You may think you made it clear in your column but I strongly beg to differ. You in fact spent most of your column talking about the debate pros and cons and Fox News's relationships with prominent Presidents to illustrate your main belief, as repeatedly hammered home in the quotes above.

You do mention that "Half its programming is devoted to commentary..." which of course implies that the other half is all or mostly news segments.

I suppose you have a choice now: continue to broadbrush the entire Fox News channel, or inform your readers (and students) of the truth about the other half of Fox News' programming.

I won't hold my breath while I wait to see that column.

Annie Banno
I expected to receive back a spirited intellectual debate. Instead this is all he sent:
(AP) House Judiciary Chairman, John Conyers, D-Mich., left, accompanied by Rep. Rep. Bart Stupak,...
Full Image
NEW YORK (AP) - Fox News Channel apologized on-air Tuesday for running tape of a different congressman while reporting Monday on the indictment of Rep. William J. Jefferson on bribery charges.

The network ran footage of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan instead of Jefferson. Both congressmen are black.

Fox blamed the mistake on a 22-year-old production assistant hurriedly grabbing a wrong videotape. Fox's Washington bureau chief, Brian Wilson, said he was mortified by the error.

On Tuesday, Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum said about the Jefferson story: "We mistakenly ran the wrong videotape accompanying that story and we apologize for that error."

The apology apparently wasn't accepted by Conyers.

"Fox News has a history of inappropriate on-air mistakes that are neither fair, nor balanced," he said Tuesday. "This type of disrespect for people of color should no longer be tolerated. I am personally offended by the network's complete disregard for accuracy in reporting and lackluster on-air apology."

Wilson said he called Conyers' office on Tuesday to apologize. He said he spoke to a press secretary and asked what he could do to make amends, including coming to Conyers' office to apologize in person. No one got back to him, he said.

Conyers' press representative, Melanie Roussell, said the congressman was upset that Fox's on-air apology did not say specifically what the mistake was.

Fox News Channel has become a political issue itself recently, with Democratic presidential candidates refusing to appear in a debate sponsored by the network.
I had to stifle a laugh! I suppose he thought that he could "prove me wrong" and himself right by sending me this one article. The idea that one article would put me in my place was just way too amusing for me. "Professor News" actually mistook me for someone who doesn't plumb the depths and the truths (or lacks thereof) of many of the articles the news media places into the trough for us to slop up without question.

So I responded back with great anticipation:
Your point being?

I guess I could reply with two words: "Dan Rather" but if you'd like to do a little tit-for-tat, Paul, I'm game:

"Skews" Reporting

  • Aircraft Carrier "Mission Accomplished" Bush Speech Didn't Refer to the WAR, Contrary To Liberal Belief
  • 14 Major News Outlets "moderately left", 4 "far left", 2 "right of center"; 14   farther left of center than FOX News is right of center.
  • ABC News Director: "for forty years, conservatives have rightly felt that we did not give them a fair shake."
  • "MSNBC talking head Contessa Brewer [cites] anti-Bush spoof site as a source for administration praise of Jerry Falwell"...honestly: we can't make this stuff up...
  • FOX News Aids Abortion Industry Fearmongering with Inept Science Report.
  • NY TIMES Forced To Admit/Correct 1 Major False Claim in Pro-Abortion Story, But Not Its Bias.
  • Proof that NYTIMES, Boston Globe Are Die-Hard Abortion Advocates: Their Owner Is.
  • Cronkite: Media Less Accurate, More Theatrical, Less Protecting of Democracy, Less Mindful of Their Own Civic Duty.
  • AP neglects to report tally: Under CLINTON: 3 or 4 Arms Sales to Foes over 7 ½ Years; Under BUSH: 2 or 3 sales to foes over 4 ½ years
  • AP said Sunni mosques "destroyed," "torched" and "burned and [blown] up". But they're all still standing.
  • John "I apologize to no one" Kerry Gets Another Pass From Liberal MSM
  • Corrections to Mainstream Media inaccuracies and mischaracterizations
  • "It is surpassingly strange to watch an industry will its own destruction."
  • Circulation losses at major newspapers, Oct. 30, 2006
  • "Did the Dems Threaten ABC over 'Path to 9/11' Film?" You betcha.
  • "Pallywood" video of "60 Minutes" being duped
  • You Know It's Campaign Time When...Dems Trash Bush Anew For False "AlQaeda-Iraq Link" Intel, Forget to Name-Blame Bill Clinton for Same Kind of Intel
  • San Francisco Chronicle: " is now clear that all the hype about a Bush-inspired vendetta against the Wilsons is bunk...The outing of Wilson was not an act of treason."
  • Plamegate is Over: "The man behind the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was not Karl Rove, nor "Scooter" Libby..." But You Don't See That Glommed All Over The News, Do You?
  • Gibson Was Wrong, But MSM Always Gives Passes to Celebrities' Anti-Christian Bigotry
  • "Reid, Kennedy, Hillary...are the last people to be commenting on the failure to report things in a timely manner" and "Where are the major news media outlets on the Saddam tapes discussing his WMDs and terrorist attacks on the U.S.?" (which ABC sanitized out of its report).
  • Where is the mass coverage of Iraqi and Israeli generals saying Saddam moved those WMDs to Syria?
  • Pollster Accused of "falsifying 11 public opinion surveys between June 16, 2002 and May 16, 2004", possibly including those on abortion.
  • MSM "reported" on March for Life 06, 3 - 9 hours before it began.
  • Anti-Catholic persecution: NY Times prints—twice—Virgin Mary, covered in dung, surrounded by p-rn pix, but "refrain[s] from gratuitous assaults on religions symbols" offending Muslims.
  • "We do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege." Chicago Tribune.
  • Scott Johnson's Sep 9, '04 blog post that outed the forged Bush documents used on CBS' "60 Minutes".
  • AP gets Alito hearing news wrong, then right, but not everyone prints the right one, least of all MSNBC or Newsweek.
  • AP Incorrectly Reports 12 Miners Alive; newspapers blindly print it.
  • "Response to the two leaks reveals a stark double standard."
  • Kerry Tries to Ban Peaceful Protesters; AP ignores it.
  • AP Prints Falsehood about Exhale
  • Newsweek’s False Qur'an Story
  • Newsweek: Dan Rather Rerun
  • AP Gets The Basic Obvious Wrong
  • AP’s Iraq Election “Survey”
  • AP’s Rumor Mill
  • AP’s Relationships with Terrorists
  • French AFP Rewrites History
  • AP Twists Rumsfeld’s Words
  • Insurgents Told AP Where Terrorists Would Be:
        Then Fallujah Contractors Ambushed.
  • AP’s role in Baghdad electoral workers’ murders
  • AP believes 4 terrorists but not 250 Swift Boat Vets
  • AP Reporter Lies, Skews, Suggests…
  • AP Reporter Parrots Clintonite Hubby’s Bias
  • AP Admits Bias, Changes Headline
  • AP Lies: "Bushies Booed Clinton and 'W' Didn’t Stop Them"
  • AP’s False Schwarzenegger Story
  • AP Misreports Bush's Anti-Torture Statement
  • Reuters Revises Somalia History
  • Dan Rather Concedes Papers Are Suspect
  • Ohio Newspaper Corrects Biased Abortion Story
  • LA Times reports sex acts of Republicans, not Democrats.
  • MSM Continues Bias, Errors on Partial-Birth Abortion
  • Media Swarms Anti-War Protest, Ignores March For Life
  • NARAL falsely accuses Roberts of supporting clinic bomber, then...
  • ...pulls the ad the next day.
  • Berger & McCord & Kofi Annan & Richard Nixon
  • Clinton ignored '98 "Al-Qaeda hijack/plane-ramming" warning;
        Liberal MSM doesn't even mention him, never mind blame him.
  • The Sensational Beginnings of Yellow Journalism
  • Yellow Journalism: Perfected by William Randolph Hearst
  • Yellow Journalism: Definitions and Links
  • And so much more on AP we can't fit it all
  • Haven't heard back from him since, but I hope he at least caught the ones about MSNBC erroneously using as a source and the NY Times, Associated Press, ABC's, Newsweek's and others' multiple errors and biases.

    Do you think maybe he's really reading all the links from mine?

    Probably not.

    Honestly, I couldn't plan this if I tried:
    ABC Confuses Ex-DC Mayor Barry with Man Suing Cleaner for $54 Million Over Lost Pants
    June 12, 2007

    Do all balding black guys look the same to ABC News? As anchor Charles Gibson teased a Tuesday World News story, about DC administrative law judge Roy Pearson's $54 million lawsuit against a Korean family's Washington, DC dry cleaning establishment over losing a pair of his pants, viewers saw video of what clearly appeared to be ex-DC Mayor Marion Barry. Gibson announced, over video of Barry in front of the DC courthouse, "Pant Suit: Ever lost anything at the dry cleaners? This man did, and claims he deserves $54 million dollars and he's not pulling your leg." Barry is now a member of the District's City Council, but he has been in some legal trouble of late over charges of driving under the influence, and thus has recently visited the local courthouse.

    Video clip, from the 6:30pm EDT feed of World News, of Gibson teasing the story about the suit against the dry cleaner, with video of Barry (12 secs): Real (600 KB) or Windows Media (800 KB). [See after the jump for a screen shot of the real Pearson and do your own comparison.]

    The story from Jim Avila, which aired as the last report on the June 12 World News, included video of another man identified as Pearson and was, presumably, of the real Pearson. That subsequent video matches the man identified by Pearson in a story on ABC's Washington, DC affiliate WJLA-TV. This page displays a screen shot of Pearson along with video of WJLA's story.

    The civil trial opened Tuesday and Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher has written a summary of the antics in the first day. For a picture of the husband and wife being sued, check this page on Emil Steiner's Washington Post "OFF/beat" blog.

    The version of Avila's story.

    UPDATE: ABC corrected the video for later editions. The tease at the top of World News as aired at 9pm EDT on NewsChannel 8, a DC-area cable news channel owned by the local ABC affiliate, replaced the video of Barry with video of Pearson. Gibson's audio was not changed.
    I sent this article off to "Professor News" posthaste, asking him these questions:
    Are Barry and Pearson also refusing to accept ABC's apology? Did ABC's Washington bureau chief call Barry and/or Pearson and offer to meet either of them in person to apologize for this one? Where's the same big hue and cry and AP story trashing ABC over its "disrespect for people of color"?
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    Obama On Abortion: A Summary 1990-2009

    1) Obama Is 2nd-Highest-Paid Politician by Fannie Mae, Taking $126,346 in only 4 years as Senator; Now Derides GOP/Bush for Allowing Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac To Do Business, When It Was Democrat Presidents Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter Who Passed The Law Requiring Fannie & Freddie To Give Out Bad Subprime Loans To Those Who Couldn't Afford Them, Which Caused The Entire Financial Meltdown … 2) Jim Johnson (Obama VEEP vetter and former Fannie Mae executive who made millions there) Backpedal … 3) Obama's hiring, connection, support of ACORN, which supported that very law and whose staff have been involved in voter fraud … 4) Rezko's Favor A "Boneheaded" Mistake … 5) Jeremiah Wright Backpedal … 6) Fr. Michael Fleger Backpedal … 7) NAFTA Backpedal … 8) Campaign Financing Backpedal … 9) Mr. "Negotiates-With-Terrorist-States" … 10) Bittergate … 11) Hamas' Chief Political Adviser Hopes BO Will Win Election … 12) Banning Handguns Backpedal … 13) Who Exactly Are "The Rich" He's Going to Sock it to? … 14) Flag Pin Backpedal … 15) Once Open to School Vouchers That Work, Now Deadset Against … 16) Now OK with residual force in Iraq...up to 50,000 troops. … 17) First voted against a law protecting babies who survive an abortion procedure, then lied saying he didn't, then finally forced to admit that he did vote to deny such born babies protection. 18) … "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." ~ MO

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