Media Watch: The Sharyl Attkisson approach
Last week, in an attempt to explain a little better my thoughts on the influence of mainstream media bias, I wrote a post in which I talked about how the MSM actively inserts itself into the public debate over various hot button issues with emotion-based reporting that routinely ignores or paints in a negative light the other side of a given argument. I summed up by saying the following:
This is why we as conservatives so often face uphill battles. Busy people with hectic lives and, for that matter, people who aren’t particularly interested in diving in deeper into any given issue, read the insta-news and quickie headlines on their cellphones and laptops and that’s the extent of their research. Ideally, what we’d get is mainstream media reporting that doesn’t have any angle on it other than just a simple reporting of the facts – free from spin, while letting the reader draw their own conclusions. Unfortunately, I’m afraid, those days are long gone. Fortunately with the rise of blogs over the last decade-plus the tide is turning for people who want to get the other side of the story rather than just the mainstream media version, but we still have a long way to go to counter the inherent liberal media bias that we encounter no matter where we go.
Well, guess what – hate to say it but I “toldjah so.” It’s happened – again. This time with the help of a prominent liberal blog funded by George Soros. We’ll start off with the article in question. The Washington Post’s Ear to Web writer Elizabeth Flock writes:
Thursday night, Michele Bachmann became the the first presidential candidate to sign a pledge by the Family Leader, an influential social-conservative group in Iowa, that says pornography should be banned and homosexuality is a choice.
By signing the pledge, “The Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family,” Bachmann vows to “uphold the institution of marriage as only between one man and one woman,” Think Progress reports.
To uphold the institution of marriage, the pledge states the following:
1. All forms of pornography should be banned.
2. Homosexuality is a choice, a health risk, and can be compared to polygamy or adultery.
3. Sex is better after marriage.
4. Sharia law should be rejected.
5. Better protection for women against prostitution and trafficking.
The pledge also states:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.
Writer and comedian Baratunde writes of the statement: “It’s as if these people held a Focus Group Of The Sheltered asking ‘List everything you know that’s black’ and came back with ‘slavery’ and ‘the president’… to invoke slavery in ‘defense’ of marriage exposes a complete lack of historical understanding and common sense, much less sensitivity.”
Bolded emphasis added by me.
Note the referencing of not only the Soros-funded Think Progress as a legitimate source, but also the reference of a (popular?) left-wing “comedian” whose opinion we should care about why? Discerning readers will note the uncritical acceptance of Think Progress as a source in the reporting in this piece. Also of note: As of this writing, a related Baratunde tweet referencing the “ban on porn” has received 94 retweets and is listed as a “top tweet” on Twitter right now.
Not only did the Washington Post uncritically accept the claim that Bachmann signed a pledge to “ban porn” – so has ABC News writer Russell Goldman, who does not post a link at all in his “Note” piece talking about the issue. Headline:
Bachmann Signs Pledge for Ban on Porn and Same-Sex Marriage
Story (again, bolded emphasis added by me):
Michele Bachmann became the first presidential candidate to sign a pledge, vowing to support a constitutional amendment that defines marriage between a man and a woman, and which calls for a ban on all pornography.
“The Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family,” sponsored by the Family Leader, an Iowa-based conservative organization, equates same-sex marriage with bigamy and polygamy and calls on candidates to promise to be faithful to their spouses.
The two-page pledge includes a “Declaration of Dependence on Marriage and Family” that blames several factors for the deterioration of traditional marriage including “quickie divorce” and unmarried couples living together. The pledge also describes homosexuality as a choice and not genetic.
“This debasement [of marriage] continues as a function of adultery; ‘quickie divorce;’… [and] anti-scientific bias which holds in complete absence of empirical proof that not non-heterosexual inclinations are genetically determined,” reads the pledge.
Candidates, like Bachmann who sign the pledge, vow “vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage…through statutory, bureaucratic, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex.”
Only problem is, both these news outlets engaged in lazy reporting got it wrong – and once again it was up to the blogosphere to set the record straight, because in actuality, the pledge Bachmann signed had nothing to do with “banning pornography” – as Colby Hall at the liberal Mediaite, not exactly a Bachmann-friendly site, pointed out:
But the actual vow signed by Bachmann doesn’t explicitly call for a ban on pornography, per se. Read the vow portion below (click here for the .pdf file)
The Candidate Vow:
Therefore, in any elected or appointed capacity by which I may have the honor of serving our fellow citizens in these United States, I the undersigned do hereby solemnly vow* to honor and to cherish, to defend and to uphold, the Institution of Marriage as only between one man and one woman. I vow* to do so through my:
–Personal fidelity to my spouse.
–Respect for the marital bonds of others.
–Official fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, supporting the elevation of none but faithful constitutionalists as judges or justices.
–Vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage – faithful monogamy between one man and one woman – through statutory-, bureaucratic-, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex, etc.
–Recognition of the overwhelming statistical evidence that married people enjoy better health, better sex, longer lives, greater financial stability, and that children raised by a mother and a father together experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble, and less extramarital pregnancy.
–Support for prompt reform of uneconomic, anti-marriage aspects of welfare policy, tax policy, and marital/divorce law, and extended “second chance” or “cooling-off” periods for those seeking a “quickie divorce.”
–Earnest, bona fide legal advocacy for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal and state levels.
–Steadfast embrace of a federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which protects the definition of marriage as
between one man and one woman in all of the United States.
–Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy – our next generation of American children – from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.
–Support for the enactment of safeguards for all married and unmarried U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, especially our combat troops, from inappropriate same-gender or opposite-gender sexual harassment, adultery or intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds (restrooms, showers, barracks, tents, etc.); plus prompt termination of military policymakers who would expose American wives and daughters to rape or sexual harassment, torture, enslavement or sexual leveraging by the enemy in forward combat roles.
–Rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control.1
–Recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial
health and security.
–Commitment to downsizing government and the enormous burden upon American families of the USA?s $14.3 trillion
public debt, its $77 trillion in unfunded liabilities, its $1.5 trillion federal deficit, and its $3.5 trillion federal budget.
–Fierce defense of the First Amendment?s rights of Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech22, especially against the
intolerance of any who would undermine law-abiding American citizens and institutions of faith and conscience for their adherence to, and defense of, faithful heterosexual monogamy.
There is plenty in this vow with which one can take issue, but to simply distill it down to Bachmann pledging to outlaw porn (as some have done) seems to be missing a much larger point.
I bolded the “controversial” part of that for emphasis.
I know there are people who have issues with Michele Bachmann, primarily due to her stance on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. I understand that and can respect those disagreements. But what I will NOT respect nor tolerate is when mainstream media outlets accept without question the bogus “reporting” done by prominent liberal blogs and websites, which is clearly what has happened here. As a result, their lack of reading the actual document itself and instead relying on a liberal blog whose reputation is questionable at best has poisoned the information stream that Average Joes who do NOT follow politics like you and I do rely on to help them form opinions on both issues and candidates.
This is unacceptable.
I have asked the Washington Post, Liz Flock, ABC News, and Russell Goldman to issue corrections but at this point, even if they were gracious enough to do so, the damage has already been done. The “porn ban pledge” lie has seeped into the pop culture and this is the gross misinformation we get as a result. Mission Accomplished? You betcha.
Let’s not forget that just a few weeks ago, the USA Today and Politico did the same thing with respect to the comments Sarah Palin made about Paul Revere’s famous ride. They used Think Progress’ interpretation of the remarks, in part, as a springboard for their own opinons about what Palin asserted – and ever since then a corrections war has been waged between Palin supporters and those who view both Palin and Bachmann as country bumpkin freaks who shouldn’t be taken seriously.
I urge, no, beg you to never, never, never, never automatically trust the “controversial” stories the MSM reports about conservatives – especially when these mainstream outlets have the audacity to rely on fact-challenged liberal blogs like Think Progress. Don’t even “trust but verify.” Verify before trusting. This should be standard operating procedure for conservatives always, but especially right now. Next year’s elections are too damned important to buy without questioning the mainstream media’s spin on any conservative candidate for President.
PS: Some people have asked me on Twitter how a candidate could support “[h]umane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy – our next generation of American children – from [...] all forms of pornography” – without being a proponent of banning it. It’s easy. They can do it through public service work unrelated to proposing/voting on bills in the US House. Politicos on both sides do it all the time.
As pledges go, I am NOT a fan of the whole idea of “pledges” per se, because’s – IMO – there’s nothing a pledge can stress that the candidate can’t say themselves, but I’m even less of a fan of the types of reporting that contaminates the information stream and gives the average Joe an impression of the candidate that is not necessarily accurate. It is not too much to ask for mainstream outlets to not rely on websites whose reputation for truthful reporting is subarctic.
Related: Jazz Shaw corrects yet another lie from Think Progress about Michele Bachmann.
Update – 6:09 PM: And Think Progress continues to lie with a post on Santorum’s signing on to the pledge, too. Quote:
The pledge not only suggests that “all forms of pornography” be banned [...]