Media Scandals

By Clay Waters | April 23, 2010 | 12:45 PM EDT
A recent episode of Comedy Central's animated comedy show "South Park" caused an Islamic group to send a veiled death threat to show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, accusing them of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Comedy Central reacted by censoring a later episode that also had scenes involving the cartoon version of the Islamic prophet.

Two New York Times stories on this free speech issue by Arts reporter Dave Itzkoff were buried on the inside pages of the paper's Arts section, under whitewashed headlines alleging that the "South Park" creators were being "warned" by Muslims, not having their lives threatened.

The issue first came up in Thursday's "Arts, Briefly" column under the lame headline "Muslim Group Warns 'South Park.'" (A more accurate headline would have been "Muslim Group Sends Veiled Death Threat to 'South Park.'")

By Staff | April 21, 2010 | 11:34 AM EDT

During a speech to the winter conference of the Young Democratic Socialists the site Verum Serum found that ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis praised socialism and attacked conservatives. She even goes so far as to say that today's political atmosphere is worse than McCarthyism, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and Jim Crow segregation:

By Brent Bozell | April 12, 2010 | 6:34 PM EDT

Editor's Note: What follows is a statement Mr. Bozell released earlier today wherein he declared the intentional disparaging and false reporting of the Catholic Church and its leader Pope Benedict XVI an atrocity, and demanded the media immediately end their exaggerations:

The Catholic Church has always endured unfair characterizations from the left-wing media, but the most recent and phony ‘news’ coverage of the sexual abuse scandal has reached a new and alarming low. 

Last week dozens of news outlets – including the Associated Press, Reuters, Washington Post, New York Times CBS, MSNBC– reported that the abuse scandal is ‘widening.’ That is absolutely and unequivocally false. The scandal isn’t growing.  As Catholic League President Bill Donohue aptly noted, citing evidence from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, abuse is shrinking in the United States, with an even more rapid decline over the last five years.

By Lachlan Markay | April 6, 2010 | 10:11 AM EDT

Update - 10:45 AM | Lachlan Markay: Contessa Brewer is filling in for Shuster during his 10 am slot. Mediaite is reporting that Ed Schultz will take the 3 pm slot. This will not be the permanent lineup, however.

MSNBC's David Shuster was suspended indefinitely today after a flap with the cable network's brass, who were livid that he filmed a pilot for CNN. Shuster, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the year, has not appeared on air since the news broke.

"If true," said MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Ganes after hearing the news, "this is unacceptable and David will be punished appropriately." MSNBC President Phil Griffin was vacationing in Florida, but reportedly "ripped Shuster a new one over the phone," according to Gail Shister of TV Newser.

This morning MSNBC announced that Shuster has been suspended "indefinitely." Anything less than suspension, an MSNBC exec told Shister, "sends a message from management that this is OK."

By Noel Sheppard | April 5, 2010 | 12:13 PM EDT
David Shuster has once again found himself in trouble with his bosses at MSNBC.

After news leaked that he recently shot a pilot for CNN, Shuster was pulled from his 3 PM time slot on the cable network Friday apparently by head honcho Phil Griffin.

According to Gail Shister over at TVNewser, "Griffin, vacationing in Florida, ripped Shuster a new one over the phone" (h/t NBer armyfool1):

By Ken Shepherd | March 31, 2010 | 4:05 PM EDT

Ed Schultz rehashed an already-discredited smear of conservative talk show host Sean Hannity on the liberal talker's March 30 "Ed Show" program on MSNBC.

Blustered Schultz as he introduced Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW):

Finally tonight on "The Ed Show," it's been 12 days since Sean Hannity hasn't answered the questions about possible fraud and misuse of funds from his charity. He may have to answer to the IRS and Federal Trade Commission.

But as Brian Maloney of Radio Equalizer noted:

By Brent Bozell | March 30, 2010 | 4:15 PM EDT
Editor's Note: In a statement released today, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell denounced CNN for relying on bigoted anti-Catholic singer Sinead O'Connor as a credible source to discuss recent allegations brought against the Catholic Church in the cable network's repeated interviews with her. Those comments are posted below.

Sinead O’Connor is a despicable, hate-filled person who has no business being portrayed as a reasonable voice to discuss the Catholic Church that she has disgraced for the past twenty years.        

CNN’s decision to have her on as a credible source to bash and criticize the Pope and the Catholic Church is like having the KKK on to criticize President Obama, or Nazis on to criticize Jews.  It’s disgusting, unacceptable, and disgraceful.

When CNN decides to have legitimate, non-bigoted guests on, perhaps Americans will begin to trust them again as a viable news source.

By Ken Shepherd | February 1, 2010 | 4:24 PM EST
It ain't easy being a laid-off hack leftist cartoonist with a penchant for slandering 9/11 widows and equating U.S. soldiers with suicide bombers. But Ted Rall got a big break on Friday when he got a chance to do a fundraising pitch for his planned trip to Afghanistan as an "unembedded" journalist.

On his January 29 program, MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan introduced Rall as "an award-winning cartoonist who caught our eye with cartoons like this one showing some Wall Street types chatting about President Obama's bank tax."

But Ratigan must be ignorant of or apathetic regarding Rall's penchant for soldier-smearing left-wing screeds. After all, he all but personally endorsed Rall's fundraising pitch (audio available here):

By Lachlan Markay | January 28, 2010 | 1:07 PM EST

Some in the liberal media continue to insist that James O'Keefe and his three cohorts were trying to "bug" or "tap" Sen. Mary Landrieu's phone lines when law enforcement officials have clearly said that they were not. Since the left doesn't like O'Keefe, the liberal media seems to think standard practices of journalistic integrity don't apply here.

According to MSNBC, one law enforcement official, who was not named, said "the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls." This statement comports with the affidavit filed in court after O'Keefe and company were arrested, which did not mention wiretapping or bugging, and only referred to the "tampering" of phone lines (h/t Patterico).

But the Boston Globe parroted this false accusation this morning in a gossip blog post about one of the alleged perpetrators, Joe Basel. The Globe--the same Globe that complained about ACORN's "trial-by-video"--called him a "political dirty trickster who was busted in a Watergate-style bugging operation earlier this week," and said again a couple paragraphs later that Basel was "bagged by the feds allegedly trying to bug the phones" in Landrieu's office. At least the Globe writers said "allegedly" the second time.

By Greyhawk | January 27, 2010 | 6:02 PM EST

<i><b>Managing Editor's Note</b>: The following was originally published at Greyhawk's Mudville Gazette blog on January 25, 2010.</i><br /> <p><a href=" - growing evidence that multiple identical letters appearing in multiple different newspapers under multiple names implies some sort of <a href=""><b><i>as... campaign</i></b></a>. I'm shocked, <i>shocked</i> I tell you, at this development.</p> <p>The story of &quot;Ellie Light&quot; was <a href=" in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer</b></a> and <a href=""><b>P..., but from there it has really taken off in the blogosphere and Facebook - with the numbers of <a href=" Light&quot; sightings now above 60, and new examples</b></a> of similar campaigns being identified fast and furiously.</p> <p>Just wait 'til the even <i>bigger</i> news sites discover this story. I don't have to wonder what will happen - I <i>know</i> - and whoever launched these various letter-writing campaigns should be well aware of what's coming, too. After all, it's happened before, and not long ago... (<i>screen wavers, fades out... and...</i>)</p> <center>*****</center>

By Ken Shepherd | January 27, 2010 | 10:31 AM EST
As Austin Powers would say, "it's a man, baby!"

A male health care worker from California outed himself to the Cleveland Plain Dealer yesterday as "Ellie Light," the pro-Obama letter writer who duped nearly 70 newspapers into publishing his letters.

The Plain Dealer's Stephen Koff has the story:

A man who identified himself as Winston Steward, 51, of Frazier Park, Calif., says he made up the name "Ellie Light" to protect himself from criticism and possible physical attacks, and used fake addresses across the country to get local newspapers to publish his letters.

"I am Winston Steward and have been sending the letters from Ellie Light," he told The Plain Dealer in an e-mail late Tuesday, following a phone interview in which he said the same. "I hope this ends any confusion and sets the record straight."

By NB Staff | January 26, 2010 | 11:03 AM EST
Three days ago, NewsBusters contributor Candance Moore wrote about pro-Obama letter-to-the-editor spammer "Ellie Light" who had duped some 40+ papers (the number stands at 68 now), into publishing nearly identical letters that praised the president. In each case, the writer claimed to hail from cities or towns served by the local newspaper's print circulation.

Today, Fox News Channel's "America's Newsroom" had Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell on for comment. 

Write-the-editor campaigns are a classic tactic of political campaigning, Bozell noted, saying he couldn't blame pro-Obama organizers for attempting it. The real problem is with sloppy newspapers that failed to verify the authenticity of the letter writer's identity and residence (audio available here). Said Bozell: