Matthew Sheffield

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Former NewsBusters editor

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The media world is abuzz today with an inside-baseball story about a reporter claiming that Fox News deliberately tried to embarrass him by feeding him a false story which he then went ahead and published based on a single unverified source.

Yet somehow instead of the incident being an indictment of the reporter, Matthew Flamm of Crain’s New York Business, the media critic world is spinning it as an indictment of FNC--even though the basis of doing so appears to be on a single anonymous source of another reporter. Click past the break to travel down the rabbit hole.

While much of the political world is focused on the fraying of the solid front that Democratic Senators have been putting up in defense of President Obama’s healthcare law, there’s another area where Obama’s base is beginning to defy him: the massively widespread spying operation on American citizens that the National Security Agency has been conducting.

Actors Maggie Gyllenhaal, John Cusack, and Will Wheaton and director Oliver Stone, are among several others appearing in a new video promoting a march in DC this weekend under the tagline “Stop Watching Us.” Even more interestingly, congressman-for-life John Conyers (a prominent Democrat) also appears in the clip as he and others compare the NSA’s spying on Americans to the Watergate scandal.

Like many dim-witted but well-dressed people, MSNBC host Martin Bashir fancies himself a rather intelligent chap. He’s also got a penchant for making outrageous comparisons of people that he hates to historical figures that everyone else abhors.

The low-rated British import displayed his talent for extreme analogies on his program Wednesday evening as he seriously compared Republican senator Ted Cruz to David Koresh, a cult leader who thought he was the reincarnation of Jesus.

Electoral politics is frequently more a contest of biographies than it is of the issues, particularly if there is no incumbent involved. Of course, having an inspiring biography is only worth as much as the media allow it to be.

Not only is Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan at a disadvantage in this regard—the press very rarely tells of his inspiring story of overcoming blindness and a modest economic background—he is also harmed by the fact that the Democrat he is running against in the special election that’s being held today, Cory Booker, has a long record of fabricating his own biographical details.

In today’s television world, anything goes. We’ve seen shows about everything from sewage treatment, meat slaughtering, trash collection, and prostitution houses. Yet for all the unvarnished look at life that “reality” shows bring to viewers, there is one thing that is apparently too hot for television: praying to Jesus.

According to Phil Robertson, star of A&E’s mega-hit series “Duck Dynasty,” the producers of the cable program deliberately removed his and other family members’ references to Jesus in prayer.

Actor James Woods, one of the few outspoken, persistent critics of the Obama Administration in Hollywood realizes that he’s jeopardizing his career given the suffocating left-wing political correctness that so dominates the entertainment industry.

After calling out President Obama for his rank hypocrisy in closing down the World War II Memorial but allowing a protest of illegal aliens to occur at the “closed” National Mall, Woods acknowledged he was jeopardizing his future by condemning Obama as a “true abomination.”

Ted Leonsis, the owner of the NBA Washington Wizards as well as the NHL's Washington Capitals took a swipe at the newspaper industry in general and the Washington Post in particular today saying that the Post was "not that important anymore" and that newspapers were based on antiquated business strategies.

Leonsis made those comments in an interview at George Washington University in DC when asked about his thoughts on the newspaper selling out to founder Jeff Bezos, as Politico reports:

In these uncertain economic times, one would think that people purporting to be compassionate would not seek to push non-profits to voluntarily drop their sponsors and as a result face significant budget shortfalls. But such calculations seem to be utterly unimportant to a group of far-left environmentalists who are targeting a Boston PBS affiliate because it allows conservative billionaire David Koch on its board of directors.

The ideologically bigoted group Forecast the Facts has made Koch the target of a publicity campaign designed to force station WGBH to remove him from its executive leadership, supposedly because his presence there is a “conflict of interest.”

In a piece filed today, Associated Press reporter Bob Christie and his editors provided a textbook example of how to use loaded language to tilt coverage while still being entirely accurate with the facts.

Covering a controversy in Arizona over the federal government’s closure of the Grand Canyon National Park and the state government’s attempts to keep it open, Christie painted the conflict as yet another example of angry Republicans run amok.

Reacting to a dramatic car chase in downtown Washington, DC Thursday, MSNBC host Chris Matthews jumped at the chance to blame the events on congressional Republicans.

The low-rated cable host began his coverage of the death of a woman believed to have suffered from depression with a characteristic passive-aggressive slam against conservatives.

“The death will no doubt become an iconic tragedy in this period of government shutdown driven by the hatred of the President’s Affordable Care Act and the compulsion of his critics on the hard Right to punish him politically,” Matthews declared at the top of his Hardball program.

Far left radio host Thom Hartmann has said some really crazy stuff over the years such as that evil right-wing billionaires deliberately provoked the violence in Benghazi, Libya in order to make President Obama look bad. He’s also said that NPR is full of “right-wing bias.”

Hartmann’s latest delusion is particularly hilarious. He is quite convinced that congressional Republicans plotted to shut down the government as a way to distract people from the glorious rollout of the Obamacare health insurance exchanges. You know, the ones that less than 10 people in the entire country appear to have signed up for because of widespread system failures.

Even as Politico and others are urging the public to overlook some of the many flaws in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges which just opened up today, MSNBC anchor Mara Schiavocampo is not playing along with the spin game.

Earlier this morning on “MSNBC Live,” Schiavocampo took viewers along with her as she filed a report on her experience trying to sign up for an exchange. It was an exercise in frustration as she soon found.

With the president's popularity continuing to drop thanks to yet another fiscal crisis created by the fact that Senate Democrats have not passed any sort of budget since 2009, President Obama decided to lash out at a favorite target: Fox News Channel.

In highly partisan remarks he delivered at a Maryland community college, Obama lashed out at the nation's most-watched cable news outfit, seemingly blaming it alone for the unpopularity of his signature health insurance law.

The outpouring of vitriol against the effort of a small group of Republican senators and House members using a variety of legislative tactics to block funding to certain parts of Obamacare is shocking even if it is unsurprising.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been compared to Hitler and said to be a “problem for our republic.” He’s been denounced as “long-winded” and “bizarre” by the very same talking heads who lauded an obscure Texas state senator when she engaged in a quixotic filibuster to temporarily block legislation that she passionately disagreed with. The Tea Party movement has been said to be motivated by racism for opposing Obamacare and also been compared to radical Islamic theocrats.

Left-wing media critics are continually fond of pointing out Fox News president Roger Ailes's past as a Republican political operative as some sort of indirect proof that his employees are nothing but Republican robots. The fact is, however, that Ailes is a comparative rarity in the TV business coming at it from the political Right.

The new president of CNN's HLN channel, Albie Hecht, is a perfect example of this fact. As reported by Politico's Dylan Byers, Hecht has made about $45,000 to Democrats and liberal groups over the years:

Robert Allbritton, owner of the Politico website and newspaper, has decided to take on the Big Apple right just a few months after announcing that he intends to sell the local television stations which he owns.

While there's no guarantee he will succeed in his new venture--Allbritton previously had launched a DC local news website called which fizzled out quickly--his interest and entrepreneurship is commendable and something that people on the right with loads of money should pay attention to.

The fact that NBC News is the loving parent company of the rabidly left-wing  MSNBC has not yet led to the broadcast news organization becoming a pariah among Republicans.

If you believe NBC News political director Chuck Todd, the reason this is still the case is that GOPers are grateful that he required the people under his supervision to show up and always follow the Republican presidential ticket around during the 2012 campaign, even though most other news organizations eventually decided to stop following around the party's vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan.

Fresh from his summer vacation, left-wing comedian Jon Stewart became the latest media liberal to blast President Obama’s efforts to promote military action against the government of Syria.

In no uncertain terms, Stewart blasted the idea, saying that it was ridiculous for Obama or other American leaders to want to punish Syrian dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against radical Islamic rebels in his country. According to Stewart, the Obama Administration’s statements about “red lines” and limited actions smacks of “seventh grade” behavior. Never shy to employ vulgarities to make his point, Stewart used several in his extended rant. Transcript and video follow.

Hollywood hypocrisy is nothing new but that doesn’t mean that seeing it does not amuse. That is why your humble correspondent couldn’t help but smile upon reading the news out of North Carolina that the notoriously left-wing film industry is fighting desperately to preserve its tax subsidies in the Tarheel State.

Even more delightsome is the rationale that the Motion Picture Association of America is using as an excuse to preserve its tax breaks: that not only do they directly promote the film business but that they also stimulate economic activity.

Catching up on a topic that eluded us over the weekend, it is worth noting that on Friday, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan decided to tackle the question of whether the newspaper is favoring the Obama Administration’s effort to build support for a war against Syria.

After talking to several top Times editors who inevitably aver that they are  treating the anti-Syria PR effort with due skepticism, Sullivan reaches her own rather inconvenient (for her employer) conclusion that the Times is not being sufficiently skeptical: