Matthew Sheffield

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Former NewsBusters editor


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The old saying that only the good die young is certainly apt to describe the passing of my dear friend and colleague Noel Sheppard at the age of 53.

I’ve known Noel since early 2005 when my brother Greg and I saw him contributing freelance pieces to the American Thinker. At the time, blogging was still relatively new and the political and media establishments (of both left and right) were still very wary about the idea that people without formal academic training could write about politics. As it turned out, the rest of America strongly disagreed.


It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working with the Media Research Center on NewsBusters since 2005. The internet was a much different place then than it was today.


Shortly after Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called on MSNBC's president to personally apologize and "take corrective action" for an offensive statement posted to the liberal network's Twitter feed which claimed that conservative people hate interracial families, the TV executive appears to have done just that.

"The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable. We immediately acknowledged it was offensive and wrong, apologized and deleted it," MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a press release that was read aloud on "The Cycle."


As NewsBusters readers are aware, yesterday, MSNBC sent out an offensive tweet which claimed that conservatives hate interracial families. The network eventually retracted its tweet and some staffers with the left-wing cable channel apologized for it but that wasn't good enough for Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus who has banned all of his staff members from appearing on MSNBC until the network's president, Phil Griffin, apologizes directly for the defamatory statement.

The tweet referenced an ongoing television ad campaign for Cheerios which portrayed a mixed-race family. "Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family," the network said on its official account.


It’s hard to imagine, but for many years, conservatives and Republicans were rather common in Hollywood. Exploring that history is worth doing not just because it is informative but also because it illustrates that there is no good reason that people on the Right could not have a bigger presence in that industry today.

Arizona State University professor Donald Critchlow has done an important service in this regard with his new book When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. I had the pleasure recently of speaking with him about his work, the transcript of which follows this introduction.


Tuesday was a big day over at the Washington Post with the announcement of the departure of one blogger and the bringing in of another. Left-wing blogger Ezra Klein who had been overseeing a supposedly ideologically neutral section of the paper’s website called “Wonkblog” will no longer be working with the Post. Supposedly, he was in a dispute with the paper’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, over some large-scale online project for which he wanted funding.

Joining the paper will be the blogging team put together by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, known in the web world for his libertarian-conservative political views and his love of data and free speech. Unlike Klein, however, Volokh and his co-bloggers will not make the pretense that their ruminations are utterly devoid of ideological thinking.


The Newsroom, HBO’s low-rated series about a fictional television news channel will end after its third season, the premium cable channel announced Monday.

Besides struggling to get viewers, the Aaron Sorkin drama was widely criticized as being unrealistic and pompous. The show also was notable for its very liberal political slant and incredible lack of self-awareness about that slant. Throughout its brief time on the air, the show repeatedly denounced a lack of civility on cable television while also frequently slamming conservatives.


Lena Dunham, the actress who made herself infamous by comparing voting for Barack Obama to losing one's virginity, has come out with another brilliant statement: People who aren't really interested in seeing her naked need to seek help from a psychiatrist.

Replying to a television critic who asked her at a press conference why her character in the HBO series Girls frequently appears naked for no apparent reason, Dunham said that she was going for "realistic expression." She expanded her remarks further by saying that "If you’re not into me, that’s your problem and you’re going to have to work that out with professionals."


After a string of high-profile embarrassments, MSNBC appears to have decided that perhaps letting the inmates run the asylum is not the best of ideas.

According to a piece out today by National Review, the low-rated cable news channel has assigned an executive to review the scripts of its shows before they are aired as a way of trying to prevent such premeditated disasters like Martin Bashir wishing for Sarah Palin to be defecated upon.


On Friday we learned that New York Times columnist David Brooks does not approve of marijuana legalization on account of his belief that the drug dulls the minds of its habitual users.

Sure, that’s what a lot of those pointed-headed scientist types think but why should we listen to them? Instead, we should take the word Touré Neblett, currently an MSNBC pundit and quite possibly one of the dumbest people ever to appear regularly on television.


For decades, there has been a lot of discussion about a “cultural war,” primarily between people of traditional faith and those who see religion as something of little value. Whether war is quite the right metaphor to describe the phenomenon, there certainly is a lot of pressure on people who adhere to traditionalist opinions, as Phil Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty can certainly attest.

Yet while opponents of traditional beliefs and a politically unbalanced media have certainly proved harmful to faith in the public square, those two groups cannot be entirely blamed for the less prominent place that Christians now have in American culture. According to poet and art critic Dana Gioia, Christians also have themselves to blame as well for basically withdrawing from the cultural scene.


Less than a week after Phil Robertson was suspended by A&E from the hit show Duck Dynasty, the hunting equipment mogul and his family are pushing back. Speaking with the British Daily Mail newspaper, a “source close to the family” said that the network was aware of the controversial things that Robertson had said in an interview but declined to suppress them even though it could have.

“It is our belief that they knew what was going to happen and then used the situation to exercise control over Phil,” the newspaper’s source said.


Following the suspension of Phil Robertson from A&E’s hit show Duck Dynasty, his family appears to be reevaluating their relationship with the cable channel.

In a statement released on their Duck Commander company website, the family said it “cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm” and is currently in discussions with A&E about what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.”


Just as cigars sometimes can indeed be just cigars, so too can jokes. Yet this is a point which seems to be lost on several left-wing media writers who have taken great umbrage at the mockery that has been had at the expense of one Ethan Krupp, better known as “PajamaBoy.”

The crew on MSNBC’s Morning Joe proved today that not everyone on the left has missed the absurdity of the Obama administration putting forward a grown man in children’s pajamas with a cup of hot chocolate as the public face of Obamacare to young people. Still, there appear to be many Democratic partisans out there who are outraged at the jokes and what they supposedly say about those making them.


It took less than a day for A&E to indefinitely suspend Phil Robertson, star of its reality television show “Duck Dynasty,” for making anti-gay remarks in an interview with the men’s magazine GQ.

The suspension appears to be the culmination of long-running tensions between Robertson and A&E over his self-described “Bible-thumper” religious views.


Infamous racist Louis Farrakhan has come to the defense of Kanye West after the dim-witted rapper made a remark that was widely construed as embracing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

West should feel no need to apologize Farrakhan said in a video statement. “Kanye West, don’t bow to the pressure to bow to apologize to anybody. You said nothing wrong.”


Continuing a decades-long trend, members of the media placed near the bottom in a poll which asked respondents their opinions of various professions.

In the Gallup survey, TV reporters were barely more popular than advertising salespeople, state-level politicians, car salesmen, members of Congress, and lobbyists with just 20 percent of respondents saying they had a favorable opinion. They were tied with lawyers.


Former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee will soon be joining the world of online news publishing with a new venture called the Huckabee Post.

The move comes shortly after the former Republican presidential candidate announced he was ending his nationally syndicated radio show. The announcement was confirmed by Huckabee's son yesterday. Mediaite was the first to report the story, however.


As the absurd spectacle surrounding Fox News Channel Megyn Kelly’s recent joke about the race of Santa Claus is dying down, there’s one remainder of the story that is worth noting: It would appear that Aisha Harris, the Slate writer who started the whole brouhaha, appears not to know that a penguin, the animal which she semi-seriously argued should replace Santa, is a bird and not a mammal.

As noted by media blogger Jim Romenesko, the original Harris piece bears this amusing postscript: “Correction, Dec. 10, 2013: This article originally misidentified penguins as mammals. They are birds.”


Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly took on the left-wing hate mob that has come after her following a humorous segment that she featured on her program Wednesday evening in which she and her guests staged a mock debate over the racial identity of Santa Claus.

To the haters, Kelly had a message tonight: Lighten up and learn to realize what satire is. “Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show but sometimes that is lost on the humorless,” she said.