Matthew Sheffield

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Former NewsBusters editor


Latest from Matthew Sheffield

Now that he has successfully defended himself from criminal charges brought against him by the state of Florida for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is going to resume a lawsuit he filed several months earlier against NBC News.

Launched in the midst of the state prosecution against him by a separate civil team, the lawsuit is a defamation claim alleging that NBC deliberately altered an audio recording so as to make Zimmerman appear to be racist.


Thanks to the media’s habit of showing beatific, outdated photos of Trayvon Martin, many Americans who only casually followed the trial of George Zimmerman incorrectly believed Martin to have been younger than he actually was at the time of his death. In a Friday interview, Zimmerman’s lead defense attorney, Mark O’Mara admitted that he was one of them.

Speaking with CNN correspondent Martin Savidge, O’Mara denounced what he called a “wonderfully created and crafted public relations campaign” by the attorney for Martin’s family, Benjamin Crump and his allies. According to O’Mara, had they not injected a racial element into the story, Zimmerman would never have been tried.


A Sanford, Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty on all charges late Saturday night in the trial he faced involving the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.

The trial quickly became a media spectacle after supporters of Martin's family convinced the left-leaning national press that regional law enforcement authorities had declined to prosecute Zimmerman because Martin was black. Local officials insisted that Zimmerman was unlikely to be convicted of anything based on the evidence they could find. It appears that initial judgment was correct.


Updated below | In a bizarre tweet, John Schwartz, a national reporter for the New York Times decided to attack NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard for celebrating his son’s upcoming wedding.

After Sheppard had noted how he was going to be “crying more than bride’s father...but for different reasons,” an apparently bitter Schwartz shot back with an insult: “Because you’ve been renting him out to workhouses all these years and you’re sorry to be losing the income?”


The decision to turn MSNBC into an unofficial Democratic Party outlet helped stave off what seemed to be the channel’s imminent demise. But it’s also created some serious credibility problems for the parent NBC News operation which still clings to the idea that it is “objective.”

That tension manifested itself in a humorous way today after NBC correspondent and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell claimed conservatives who support border enforcement first on immigration “ought to be ashamed of themselves” and that Arizona Republican John McCain was a “hero” for opposing them.


Long the focus of attention, the national news media's persistently inaccurate photographic portrayals of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin appear to have clearly influenced one of the witnesses in the trial of his killer, George Zimmerman.

While NBC News's dishonest editing of an audio clip of Zimmerman appears to have only temporarily skewed public opinion, during testimony last week it became apparent that the national media's continual showing of photographs of a much younger Martin led witness Jeannee Manalao to incorrectly believe that Zimmerman (who is 5'8") was taller than Martin (5'11").


After several years of being the lone conservative voice on "The View," co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck will be leaving the daytime talk show.

According to the New York Post, Hasselbeck will be joining Fox News as a co-anchor of the morning program "Fox and Friends" in mid-September.


Rush Limbaugh inadvertently set off a media firestorm Monday when he advised a caller to his popular radio program not to get bothered by left-leaning TV commentators on Fox News Channel.

Those remarks were quickly miscontrued by several online publications including Politico, Huffington Post and Mediaite as the conservative radio host recommending that his listeners avoid watching FNC entirely.


In addition to trying to redefine the Second Amendment as not protecting anyone's right to bear arms, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is now excited about how to redefine the First Amendment.

As with guns, Durbin is trying to limit constitutional freedoms so that they cannot be used by people of whom he disapproves. In an opinion essay published in the Chicago Sun Times last week, Durbin argued it was "time to say who's a real reporter," so that no one else can be given First Amendment protections.


As has been noted here repeatedly, Alec Baldwin's profanity- and slur-filled tirade against a gay gossip columnist appears not to be harming the leftist actor's career the way outbursts of inappropriate language have caused trouble for other famous people such as celebrity chef Paula Deen or radio host Don Imus.

While there have been a few commendable cases of left-leaning media figures condemning Baldwin for calling a reporter for the Daily Mail a "toxic little queen" and threatening him with a literal gay-bashing, for the most part, the left-leaning press has not given Baldwin's outburst nearly the coverage that it did to a lawsuit in which Deen admitted to using a racial slur some years ago.


During his flight to Africa aboard Air Force One, President Obama headed to the part of the plane where the travelling press corps was seated and held an impromptu news briefing.

Despite the many scandals currently swirling around the administration including NSA spying and lying, Benghazi lying, and the revelation that the IRS's political attacks on conservative groups was even more widespread than originally thought, the left-leaning journalists did not ask Obama a single tough question.


U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell delivered an excellent speech today on the critical topic of free speech and how the far left has been engaging in a broad effort to censor conservatives. Contrary to what some may think, this censorship campaign has been ongoing for a number of years and includes methods beyond intimidation and harrassment by the Internal Revenue Service of conservative groups.

McConnell's remarks today are a followup to a speech he gave on this same topic last year. Since that time, the left's efforts to silence conservative voices has only increased. The senator also discusses how President Obama and his liberal supporters in the media and in office have created a culture of intimidation where conservatism is assumed to be not only incorrect but also morally repugnant and even criminal.


The overwhelming dominance that liberal statists have over the media today is one of the biggest obstacles faced by advocates of smaller government. Invariably whenever people try to make reforms to existing systems or eliminate waste, their intentions get distorted and lied about and the reformers’ motives get impugned.

Things were not always this way, however. It was not so long ago, in fact, that many large newspapers in this country were owned and operated by right-leaning individuals. Even many of the self-described “progressives” actually also believed in balanced budgets.


Over at Commentary, Jonathan Tobin notes that the New York Times finally published a story about woman in Oregon finding a note inside some Halloween decorations which told the tale of China’s system of forced labor prisons.

These facilities—formerly called laogai or “reform through labor” but now simply referred to as prisons to avoid negative connotations—have been in use for decades as a means of crushing beliefs unapproved by the country’s authoritarian regime. But given the vast market and huge amounts of money that the Chinese regime has at its disposal, these prisons are not something that Americans and Europeans hear much about.


Both parties constantly make accusations that their rival is engaged in hypocritical, unethical, or illegal behavior. But given the drastic lack of ideological diversity in the American elite media, the general public usually only hears about such accusations against Republicans.

Beyond the fact that biased reporting shapes public opinion to favor the left, it may also have an effect on law enforcement. The persistent lies that have been told about right-leaning political groups by leading Democrats, including President Obama himself, may have led to the IRS abuses of power that we’ve heard so much about in recent weeks.


Despite the fact that Fox News has been shown to be favorable or neutral toward many left-leaning agenda items like immigration or gay marriage, there is still a lot of hatred among many "liberals" that the cable news channel even exists.

Our MRCTV colleague Dan Joseph demonstrated this tendency nicely the other day when he went to the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and had no problem getting the students there to sign a petition making it legal for the government to spy on and monitor the communications of all Fox News employees. Video is below:


Far-left college professor and political commentator Marc Lamont Hill has been spending too much time around CNN host Piers Morgan. Yesterday on Twitter, Hill said he was "bothered" that President Barack Obama had released a photo of himself engaging in a watergun fight with his youngest daughter as a tribute to Father's Day.

"Was anyone else bothered by the Father's Day picture released by the White House yesterday? The one with the President holding a water gun?" Hill Tweeted.


New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza caused a bit of a stir in the conservative media world today in a report he filed for the New Yorker about the ongoing debate in the U.S. Senate over an immigration bill that is currently opposed by many conservatives. According to the piece, the so-called Gang of Eight see the role of Florida Republican Marco Rubio as being to “neutralize” conservative talk radio and to get opinion hosts on Fox News Channel to either talk up the legislation or at least not oppose it.

In their view, Rubio, who was initially touted by many conservatives nationally as their great hope even though he was regarded far more skeptically by Florida conservatives, has succeeded in his assignment.


While government spying on citizens has been a hot topic of conversation lately, it’s worth noting that such snooping can also happen in the private sector. The Bloomberg wire service, founded by anti-gun nut New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, has admitted that its reporters have been spying on customers of its business data service for years and using that information to generate news stories.

Through an established company policy, reporters for the news service were given exclusive access to private customer records for anyone they wanted to look up. Once they pulled up a user’s records, they had the ability to see that person’s last login date, his contact information, view her requests for technical support, and even see what types of data that the customer was calling up within the vast Bloomberg financial database.


Judging from a recent lawsuit filing, it would appear that Condé Nast Publications, owner of many well-known magazines, has a serious case of Algoreitis: preaching liberalism as a philosophy for everyone else but not living it themselves.

Earlier today, two former interns, one of whom worked at the New Yorker and another who worked at W Magazine, filed a lawsuit against the big media publisher claiming that they were paid less than $1 per hour during their time with the magazines--not exactly a "living wage" in any city, particularly New York.