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By Geoffrey Dickens | | May 8, 2013 | 12:31 PM EDT

The extent of the media's influence to shape public opinion was on full display in a new Pew Research Center poll that shows, even though gun crime has dropped by half since its peak in the mid '90s, most Americans (56 percent) wrongly think gun violence has increased.

In an L.A. Times article that highlighted the poll, Emily Alpert posited "It's unclear whether media coverage is driving the misconception that such violence is up. The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., were among the news stories most closely watched by Americans last year, Pew found."

By Clay Waters | | May 8, 2013 | 12:19 PM EDT

Benghazi hearings open in the House on Wednesday, and the New York Times printed a preview on page 16 of Wednesday's edition that downplayed any possible revelations about the Obama administration's reaction to the terrorist attack, which killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Testimony is expected by three State Department officials, led by U.S. diplomat Gregory Hicks, deputy mission chief in Tripoli, who said his pleas for military assistance were overruled.

Feeling reader pressure after the Washington Post led its Tuesday's edition by setting up the House hearings, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan addressed the issue on her blog Tuesday afternoon, posing a coverage question to Washington bureau chief (and former neoliberal economics reporter) David Leonhardt, who didn't anticipate hearing much new on Wednesday:

By Scott Whitlock | | May 8, 2013 | 11:54 AM EDT

Covering New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's secret weight loss surgery, Good Morning America's Paula Faris couldn't help but make fat jokes. The reporter on Wednesday began her segment by wryly asserting, "Chris Christie is wasting no time devouring his critics." She continued, "The no-holds-barred New Jersey Governor known for his healthy appetite...sounded off" at reporters. [See video below. MP3 audio below.]

Faris found clips of liberal comedians mocking the Republican governor. She included one of David Letterman joking, "Bring it, fat boy!" In another snippet, Jimmy Fallon sneered, "Christie hopes to visit the site of the Last Supper. You know, see if there's any leftovers." This isn't the first time the ABC morning show has joined in on fat jokes about Christie.  

By Noel Sheppard | | May 8, 2013 | 11:11 AM EDT

Jay Leno took a humorous swipe at the so-called most trusted name in news Tuesday.

Commenting about CNN anchor Carol Costello recently getting robbed of her iPhone while walking down the street in Atlanta, the Tonight Show host quipped, “Unfortunately, it was on CNN so there weren't any witnesses" (video follows with commentary):

By Tom Blumer | | May 8, 2013 | 10:18 AM EDT

At the Daily Beast on Sunday, liberal Peter Beinart called on Democrats and liberals to "strongly denounce" former South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian's insult campaign against Palmetto State Governor Nikki Haley, or else "Democratic Party bigotry is likely to get worse."

It's too early to test Beinart's long-term prediction (such bigotry is bad enough already), but the denunciations he desires are nowhere to be found, even as Harpootlian has doubled and tripled down on his original wish to see Haley sent “back to wherever the hell she came from.” Meanwhile, the establishment press has virtually ignored Harpootlian's unhinged harangues.

By Noel Sheppard | | May 8, 2013 | 10:16 AM EDT

Comcast is holding a shareholder meeting in Philadelphia next week, and the Tea Party is planning a protest of the company's so-called news outlets NBC and MSNBC.

FreedomWorks recently sent the following email message out to 60,000 Tea Partiers around Philadelphia (published with permission):

By Mark Finkelstein | | May 8, 2013 | 9:26 AM EDT

Chuck Todd has defended the Obama admin's decision not to send more special ops to Benghazi.

Appearing on today's Morning Joe, NBC News political director Todd claimed that the decision to send only two special ops to Benghazi was "very rational."  He also literally laughed off the notion that Benghazi could boil into a major scandal.  View the video after the jump.

By Tim Graham | | May 8, 2013 | 8:53 AM EDT

The Washington Post reported Mark Sanford’s “easy victory” in a special-election vote for Congress to replace now-Sen. Tim Scott. This had to be disappointing for columnist Dana Milbank, who predicted just last Thursday that “South Carolinians, asked to cross the line with Sanford on Tuesday, are likely to tell him to take a hike.”

The Post tried to paint Sanford as a goner. The only time his race made the front page in the last month was a Karen Tumulty story on April 18 headlined “Trespassing case, GOP's pullout rattle Sanford's bid.” You could smell the morning toast:

By Randy Hall | | May 8, 2013 | 7:15 AM EDT

Every now and then, some celebrity gets caught breaking the law and counts on his or her fame in getting off the hook, no matter how lame an excuse that's given. That was the case with Grammy Award-winning hip hop singer Lauryn Hill, who in federal court on Monday compared her experience in the music business to the slavery her ancestors endured.

Nevertheless, U.S. Magistrate Madeline Cox Arleo sentenced the liberal performer -- who pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charge last year -- to three months in prison for not paying $1 million in taxes over the past decade, as well as a $60,000 fine.

By Tim Graham | | May 8, 2013 | 7:13 AM EDT

The Washington Post and reporter Dan Zak returned to bowing before the radical-left  “Prophets of Oak Ridge” as their trial began Tuesday. The protesters broke into a nuclear-weapons production facility last July and hammered a wall and vandalized it with human blood. The headline at the top of Wednesday’s Style section was “Protest and protocol vie in anti-nuclear activists’ Tenn. trial.”

Zak began by putting the leftists on the side of “morality and conscience” and the national-security apparatus on the side of “protocol and budgets.” That’s funny, we could have put our nation’s defenders on the side of “morality and conscience,” and these radicals on the side of “vandalism and political exhibitionism” (or just “breaking and entering”):

By Noel Sheppard | | May 8, 2013 | 12:56 AM EDT

Have you seriously wondered why the media have largely boycotted the Benghazi story?

Dennis Miller has, and on Fox News's O'Reilly Factor Tuesday, he compellingly said, "If you’re the one who brings down Barack Obama, you will be out of the game" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Brent Bozell | | May 7, 2013 | 11:37 PM EDT

The Washington Post offered a splashy profile of freshman Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday, and the most surprising thing about it was a lack of venom. The reporter described “the self-assured, nonstop talker who won national debate championships as an undergraduate at Princeton.”

Cruz “honed his reputation early in his career as a dazzling Supreme Court advocate” and now “has bashed into the national conversation,” most notably in attacking establishment Republicans who’ve called him and other young Senate conservatives “wacko birds.”

By Tom Blumer | | May 7, 2013 | 10:18 PM EDT

In the race to the bottom event known as South Carolina's First Congressional District special election, Mark Sanford has defeated Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

Not that the establishment press didn't try to help Ms. Busch, to whose background they gave little or no scrutiny. And when two forms of scrutiny did arrive from independent quarters, first of her actual beliefs expressed in tweets before she or someone associated with her deleted them, and then this weekend of her past jailing on contempt charges during a messy divorce, they chose to ignore it.

By Matthew Balan | | May 7, 2013 | 6:18 PM EDT

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell pressed Senator Joe Manchin about a possible new push for gun control in Congress. Rose wondered how Manchin and his allies could make legislation "more palatable to those people who may be afraid of it", while O'Donnell bluntly asked the Democrat, "Are you frustrated with the NRA?"

Manchin was their only guest on the gun issue. The CBS anchors had an opportunity to provide balance by asking Senator Bob Corker about his support for gun rights. Instead, Rose and Gayle King peppered the Republican with questions about his recent game of golf with President Obama: "Do you pull out all of the stops to beat him, or do you think, he's the President – I'm going to let him win this one?" [audio available here; video below the jump]

By Ken Shepherd | | May 7, 2013 | 5:52 PM EDT

How apropos that in the week before Mother's Day, the Lean Forward network is announcing hires for its website who have ties to Mother Jones, the far-left magazine that blessed the journalistic world with David Corn, himself a fixture at MSNBC as a frequent contributor.

" is staffing up ahead of a major relaunch later this year," TVNewser's Alex Weprin reported last night. "The relaunched site will focus on the world of politics and the personalities that populate MSNBC’s programming. There will also, however, be plenty of political news and information."