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By Matthew Balan | March 9, 2012 | 8:05 PM EST

ABC broadcasted two completely one-sided reports on Thursday's World News and Nightline on the supposed "huge spike in the number of Americans operating in the shadows, trying to take down the U.S. government even with violence," as anchor Diane Sawyer put it. Correspondent Dan Harris's main external source for his reports was a media favorite, the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center [audio clips available here].

As she introduced Harris's first report on World News, Sawyer trumped that "a new study finds there are now nearly 1,300 militias and other extremist groups in this country, an increase from 149 groups in 2008. And one of the fastest-growing groups is called 'sovereign citizens.'" However, an examination of the SPLC's report in question find that many of these supposed "extremist" groups have been around for longer than four years, and the only change is that the leftist organization recently designated them as such.

[Update, 09:27 pm Eastern: audio added above; video below the jump]

By Tom Blumer | March 9, 2012 | 6:48 PM EST

Yesterday was sort of "Pick on Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press Day." So when I came across a particularly reprehensible report he filed last night whining about the difficulty the economy may face in meeting heightened expectations -- with yet another reference to the wire service's obsession with its relevance to President Obama's approval ratings and reelection -- I let it go.

That changed when I learned about and then read Kyle Drennen's NewsBusters post today about CNBC's Carl Quintanilla, Friday's fill-in Today show host. Carl Q spoke of how "...we're in a situation where we're sort of managing expectations, especially for the White House." "We" are "managing expectations ... especially for the White House"? What Carl Q said seems to have been influenced by what Rugaber wrote yesterday. Especially note the last excerpted paragraph (bolds are mine):

By Noel Sheppard | March 9, 2012 | 6:26 PM EST

If you were a cable news executive, and one of your hosts was going on vacation, would you allow far-left entertainers to fill in?

As TVNewser reported Friday, Rosie O'Donnell and Jane Lynch are actually guest-hosting for CNN's Piers Morgan next week:

By Matt Hadro | March 9, 2012 | 6:10 PM EST

CNN let the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center brand many right-wing "patriot" groups as "extremist" and racist on Friday afternoon. CNN host Brooke Baldwin simply listened to the SPLC talking points and concernedly asked what was being done to "combat" the "paranoia" of "anti-government activism."

The SPLC had previously placed the Family Research Council alongside Klan members and neo-Nazis in a list of "hate" groups, but CNN did not question their study then. They continued to accept their liberal "expertise" on Friday, not challenging whether certain groups belonged in the "extremist" category.

By Jeffrey Meyer | March 9, 2012 | 5:24 PM EST

On Wednesday’s edition of his eponymous program, MSNBC anchor Martin Bashir and his liberal panel continued their staunch defense of Bill Maher while ripping into Rush Limbaugh.  MSNBC contributor and former Democratic National Committee communications chief Karen Finney gave her tortured defense of the media's double standard:

You know, he is a public person. Sandra Fluke is not a public person.  Bill Maher is a public person.  Sarah Palin is a public person.   You could make the argument whether you like what Bill Maher says or not, when you are in the public arena,  you do put yourself out there in a way that a private person asked to testify in Congress should not expect to be attacked.  [See video below.  MP3 audio here.] 

By Tom Blumer | March 9, 2012 | 5:06 PM EST

In the second half of his second hour today, Rush Limbaugh followed up on a phone call from a "Victor in Atlanta." Vince is concerned that many Americans like him, even though they want a different president, are "zapped out of enthusiasm."

Rush took Vince's call as an opportunity to look at the Sandra Fluke controversy of the past week and use its results as an indicator that enthusiasm for defending conservatives and conservative principles against the hate-filled left is as great as ever -- great enough to not only defeat the attempt to marginalize him but to force the left and the leftist establishment press to at least for the moment go into strategic retreat and to temporarily clean up its act (bolds are mine):

By Clay Waters | March 9, 2012 | 5:00 PM EST

It's "bull..." and "pernicious nonsense" to suggest the New York Times is the liberal equivalent of Fox News, says Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal, because "Fox News presents the news in a way that is deliberately skewed to promote political causes, and the New York Times simply does not."

Rosenthal was one of several guests on a Freakonomics podcast back on February 16 (h/t Jim Romenesko) with the intriguing subject "How Biased Is Your Media?" (The 2006 book Freakonomics was the surprise best-selling collaboration between journalist Stephen Dubner and economist Steven Levitt.)

By Ken Shepherd | March 9, 2012 | 4:30 PM EST

"Fox News again buries the [monthly] jobs numbers," Politico media critic Dylan Byers groused this morning in a 10:23 a.m.-stamped post. Those numbers "appear in the lead or left-hand column atop the websites of the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and MSNBC, as of 10 a.m.," Byers noted.

But as email tipster James Harper pointed out to us, Fox News did later address the jobs report with a front-page story (which is still there) that delves into how the "Jobless stats reveal disparities as economy starts to recover." Disparities such as the fact that:

By Matthew Sheffield | March 9, 2012 | 3:40 PM EST

Earlier today, Van Susteren announced on her blog that she will not be attending the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner hosted in DC every year. This dinner is being headlined by liberal comedian Louis C.K. who has said a number of offensive statements about Sarah Palin and other women that are far in excess of anything ever said by Rush Limbaugh on the air. Update below: C.K. has pulled out of the dinner

"Another pig….and a media association has hired the pig, Louis C.K., to be their headliner for the big media dinner?  Really?" Van Susteren wrote. Full blog post is quoted below the break:

By Tim Graham | March 9, 2012 | 3:27 PM EST

In a cover story for The Hollywood Reporter, Bill Maher claimed he’s not giving out any more million-dollar checks like the one he gave Obama’s super PAC.  "I don't want to do anything that would hurt his re-election chances…and it could because I'm the most 'out there' host. You can go on any other show, and they wouldn't hold it against you because those people don't say the things that I say.” But he also boasts "I am so much more edgy" than the other late-night comedians.

If he didn’t want to hurt Obama, why send the check? He announced it a week after the liberal media made Santorum super-PAC donor Foster Friess a controversial figure for an aspirin joke. The obvious answer is at least half-selfish: It makes him a bigger fish in the media/political mix, giving him a publicity boost (including a cover story in The Hollywood Reporter). 

By Matt Hadro | March 9, 2012 | 3:20 PM EST

The Obama 2012 campaign didn't even have to pay CNN for helping get its re-election message out on Thursday's The Situation Room. CNN aired two uninterrupted minutes of a trailer for a 17-minute Obama campaign film to be released in the future.

And after the two-minute clip played, CNN saved the Republican criticism for last. Host Wolf Blitzer's first question after the video had to do with the trailer's opening line delivered by actor Tom Hanks.

By Kyle Drennen | March 9, 2012 | 3:00 PM EST

In an interview with Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson aired on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer pushed the oil company executive to reject a plan by Newt Gingrich to lower the price of gas: "Newt Gingrich is promising Americans that he can deliver gasoline at $2.50 a gallon. Is he being truthful with the American public, in your opinion?"

Tillerson responded: "Well, I haven't seen his specific plan for doing that. I guess the thing that might concern me would be, would you be taking some short-term action simply to achieve a short-term result that could, in fact, be very detrimental to the longer term security of energy, moderate pricing of energy for the country?"

By Clay Waters | March 9, 2012 | 2:47 PM EST

Friday's lead New York Times story by Robert Pear, "White House Set To Shape Debate Over Health Law," passed right over the fascinating fact that the White House is helping "coordinate plans for a prayer vigil, press conferences and other events outside the court." Whatever happened to the dangers of mixing religion and politics, which was all the Times could fret about when it came to the Catholic Church's opposition to paying for birth control for employees?

By Clay Waters | March 9, 2012 | 2:10 PM EST

Linda Greenhouse the New York Times's former Supreme Court reporter (and left-wing ranter at commencement speeches), now writes a twice-a-month column for Wednesday she hailed birth-control activist and new liberal martyr Sandra Fluke as a civil rights pioneer on the level of (naturally) Anita Hill, while tarring Rush Limbaugh as a thug, in "Accidental Heroines."

By Ken Shepherd | March 9, 2012 | 1:13 PM EST

Imagine if you will that President Bush were in the Oval Office now, facing reelection with unemployment above 8 percent and gas prices as high as they are right now. Now also imagine that the Bush Energy Department granted a $10 million award to the maker of a $50 LED light bulb, because, as Bush's energy secretary gushed, it's "affordable for American families."

The media would, predictably and quite reasonably, be apoplectic. But alas, this is happening under President Obama's watch, as the Washington Post's Peter Whoriskey reported today.  Oh, and did I mention that the winning bulb competes against  much cheaper LED light bulbs than the one that won the government's affordability award?: