Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org. Previously, he was a contributing editor to NewsBusters and the MRC's senior news analyst. Scott's work has been featured or cited in outlets such as the Washington Post, the Washington Times, National Review, Red State, to name a few. He has also been linked to several times on the Drudge Report.
A July 2014 Media Reality Check by Scott documented how the networks shut out critics of Barack Obama's foreign policy, despite a summer of international crises. In April of 2014, Scott's blog on NewsBusters exposed how ABC falsely connected a former tech CEO to the hateful Westboro Baptist Church. This forced an apology by ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider.
In April of 2013, Scott researched and wrote a Media Reality Check on ABC's complete blackout of abortionist Kermit Gosnell's trial. His stories on this subject and others were linked to on the Drudge Report, the Washington Times, Breitbart and Mediaite, to name a few outlets.
Scott is a graduate of George Mason University and is originally from Philadelphia, PA. He lives in Northern Virginia and can be contacted at SWhitlock@MRC.org. You can also follow Scott on Twitter.
Latest from Scott Whitlock
The journalists of Good Morning America on Tuesday pointed a speculative finger in the wake of the Boston bombing. An ABC graphic wondered, "Could this be homegrown terror?" In a segment full of guesses, reporter Pierre Thomas featured leftist Mark Potok, the man who labeled the Family Research Council (FRC) a "hate group."
Regarding the date that the explosion occurred on, Potok linked, "The real Patriots Day is April 19th. That is the date that counts for people on the extreme right in the United States." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Other than Potok, no other expert voices were featured in the segment. News anchor Josh Elliott backed up Potok's assertions, theorizing, "One big clue could be Monday's date, April 15th. The anniversaries of some of the most harrowing incidents in domestic terror are coming this week." Thomas then went on to highlight David Koresh and the Oklahoma City bombing. The justification? They also happened in April.
Just hours after explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday, Chris Matthews speculated, "Normally domestic terrorists, people, tend to be on the far right." He then reconsidered and suggested, "...That’s not a good category, just extremists, let’s call them that." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
During live coverage, the Hardball host highlighted a possible explosion at John F. Kennedy's presidential library and thought this could be a personal attack on the Democratic Party: "...But going after the Kennedy Library, not something at Bunker Hill, not something from the Freedom Trail or anything that kind of historic, but a modern political figure of the Democratic Party. Does that tell you something?" (Police are now considering the incident at the JFK library to be fire-related.) One can only guess what it tells Chris.
Never let a tragedy go to waste. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on Monday quickly used the explosions in Boston for political gain, linking the Republican Party to the horrific act. At 4:10pm, Kristof tweeted, "explosion is a reminder that ATF needs a director. Shame on Senate Republicans for blocking apptment." [UPDATE: Kristof has "taken back" the comment and deleted the tweet. See below for screen shot of the tweet.]
Kristof then tweeted a link to a Washington Post story about Senator Charles Grassley questioning the fitness of Obama's Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms nominee. Kristof's comments earned a rebuke from the liberal Politico. Dylan Byers reported, "Kristof's tweet earned a number of responses expressing either anger or bafflement." [SECOND UPDATE: More journalists are politicizing the tragedy. See below.]
ABC has aggressively pushed Barack Obama's gun control scheme in recent weeks. But on Sunday and Monday, the network resorted to playing clips of a rival channel's comedy show, Saturday Night Live. Sunday's World News and Monday's Good Morning America both touted Democratic talking points, lamenting how hard it is to get such legislation passed. On Monday morning, Jon Karl hyped, "Congress is just not eager to enact new gun laws. A fact lampooned on Saturday Night Live."
He then featured a clip of comedian Jay Pharoah impersonating Obama. Pharoah mocked, "This week, the Senate voted 68-31 to begin debating the idea of discussing gun control. Let me say that again. They have agreed to think about talking about gun control." On Sunday's World News, reporter Rena Ninan didn't even bother coming up with much of a justification. She simply introduced, "Saturday Night Live, overnight."
Journalists have been almost entirely silent on the gruesome trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. The networks have ignored the story. Into this vacuum came Terry Moran, the anchor of ABC's Nightline. On Friday, he provocatively tweeted, "Kermit Gosnell is probably the most successful serial killer in the history of the world."
One assumes that his program from the previous night would have been all over this "serial killer," right? Moran offered a complete expose of the stomach-twisting horrors allegedly perpetrated by Gosnell? No. This is how the journalist opened the April 11 program: "Hot Moms Inc. From Gisele to Gwyneth. New celebrity moms are losing the baby weight faster than ever. But can anyone do it? Tonight, how their workout secrets are becoming a big business." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Clearly, Moran doesn't have time for Gosnell when there are "hot moms" to cover.
The journalist at Good Morning America once again showed how unserious they are when it comes to challenging Barack Obama. On Friday, the reporters covered the latest on rapper Jay-Z's trip to communist Cuba in an amused tone. Lifestyle anchor Lara Spencer featured no Republican critics of the international visit. Instead, she went to Rolling Stone's editor for comment on the entertainer's new song about the trip.
Simon Vozick-Levinson hyperbolically proclaimed, "[Jay-Z is] a brilliant lyricist. He's one of the great poets of our age." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] In the new song, the singer insists that he received "White House clearance" for the excursion to Cuba, a place American citizens aren't allowed to visit. Although Spencer admitted that Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce "supported" Obama's campaign in 2012, she didn't explain what that meant. The musician raised over $4 million for the Democrat's reelection bid.
Hardball's Chris Matthews on Thursday again smeared pro-Second Amendment Senators, this time comparing them to "Jim Crow" racists. While talking about GOP politicians who threatened to filibuster the current gun control bill, Matthews spewed, "But you remember when they fought in the early '60s about, about Jim Crow and getting rid of all those racial things down south where it says white only at the gas station, men's room and everything?"
Talking to journalist Chuck Todd, Matthews continued, "And that was the old states of the confederacy were against any of those changes. But now is there that large a body of Republicans out there that are truly being represented by the don't-even-vote crowd?" Apparently, Matthews has again forgotten that it was the Democratic Party that represented the segregationist south. [UPDATED with video below. MP3 audio here.]
World News reporter David Muir on Wednesday aggressively pushed gun control with a recycled, one-sided report on the ease of buying weapons. Muir also failed to identify Omar Samaha, featured prominently in the segment, as the grassroots coordinator for Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Muir replayed a four-year-old segment of Samaha going to a gun show to purchase weapons from private sellers. The journalist labeled the young man as someone who lost his sister at the Virginia Tech massacre. The correspondent didn't explain, however, that Samaha is employed professionally with a gun control organization and has worked with Michael Bloomberg to restrict the Second Amendment. Muir has a history of misleading viewers. On April 6, 2009, he promoted another gun control activist without identifying his political stance or affiliation.
ABC is really proud of its hoax "exclusive." Tuesday's Nightline and Wednesday's Good Morning America hyped an interview with the man who allegedly perpetrated an elaborate fiction, smearing Pastor Joel Osteen as renouncing his Christian faith. GMA's Elizabeth Vargas touted, "...The hoaxer is explaining why he did it in an exclusive interview with ABC's David Wright." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
George Stephanopoulos trumpeted, "Revealing overnight, why he went after Joel Osteen. An ABC news exclusive." The odd, sometimes bizarre answers of alleged hoaxer, Justin Tribble, didn't stop the network from airing the story. After David Wright wondered how "we know you're Justin and how do we know this is not a hoax," Tribble weirdly responded, "Well, you don't. No, I'm kidding. You do."
The journalists at Good Morning America on Wednesday could barely contain themselves, hailing the compromise over gun control legislation as a "major," "big, significant breakthrough." Guest host Elizabeth Vargas marveled, "Boy, is that big news."
Yet, the reporters on NBC offered less effusive coverage. Today's Kristen Welker conceded, "Democrats had been hoping for background checks to be universal. They didn't get that. This is going to be a pared down, watered down version of background checks." She asserted, "The deal is far less than the President was hoping for." In contrast, ABC's Jon Karl promoted, "And it is a big, significant breakthrough. It doesn't get you all the way there, but it gets you a long way there." Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos trumpeted, "Looks like a major breakthrough."
Lapdog journalist Josh Elliott on Tuesday offered no skepticism about a controversial trip Beyonce and Jay-Z took to Cuba. The Good Morning America news reader insisted that there was nothing troubling about the fact that the music power couple, who raised over $4 million dollars for Barack Obama's reelection, received special permission to visit the communist country of Cuba. (American tourists are barred from traveling there.)
Elliott reassured, "Meanwhile, an uproar over Beyonce and Jay-Z's trip to Cuba may be much ado about nothing." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] After noting that the visit drew "criticism," he insisted that no laws were violated and added, "The trip was reportedly approved by the Treasury Department as a cultural visit." Elliott never mentioned the financial help Beyonce and Jay Z provided Obama, nor did he ask why the vacation was approved. In contrast, Hoda Kotb on NBC's Today deemed the trip "controversial." NBC reporter Natalie Morales offered far more skepticism: "New questions and outrage from lawmakers this morning following Beyonce and Jay-Z's trip to Cuba."
All three network newscasts on Monday and the morning shows on Tuesday promoted Barack Obama's "urgent plea" for gun control. These programs pushed the emotional angles, focusing on the Newtown families. Opposition to new restrictions on the Second Amendment was mostly ignored. On World News, guest host George Stephanopoulos hyped, "Tonight, urgent plea. The President goes all out in the fight over guns in America. Calling in the families of the children slain in Newtown." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reporter Jon Karl parroted administration talking points: "The President portrayed his gun plan as a moral imperative." The ABC reporter then played two clips of Obama, including one where he lectured, "This is not about me. This is not about politics." (How can journalists allow a politician promoting legislation to get away with saying something "isn't about politics"?) Karl also highlighted Gabby Giffords's husband arguing for more restrictions, but no pro-Second Amendment voices. On the CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley introduced three segments on gun control.
MSNBC continued the bashing of Margaret Thatcher on Monday. Richard Wolffe, a British journalist and editor of the network's website, smeared the late prime minister as "the antithesis of freedom" when it came to how she dealt with her domestic enemies. The liberal reporter sneered that the Conservative politician "hurt working families and working people." Now host Alex Wagner even went so far as to quote arch-socialist Ken Livingstone while attacking Thatcher.
Speaking of the woman who was instrumental in bringing about the end of the totalitarian threat of Soviet Communism, Wolffe, a former correspondent for Newsweek, excoriated, "She had an attitude to her domestic enemies that frankly was the antithesis of freedom." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The journalist summarized Thatcher as "someone who was a pioneer for women, who actually also hurt working families and working people and that includes teachers and women across the board."
ABC's Good Morning America on Monday broke into live coverage to report that the "controversial" "titan" Margaret Thatcher had died. The morning show's reporters highlighted both her conservative beliefs, for which she was "vilified," and compared her to Winston Churchill.
Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas announced that the late Prime Minister's "belief in herself and her policies" led to her being "both adored and vilified even to this day in Great Britain. A very controversial, but very, very important figure, undoubtedly." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Later in the show, George Stephanopoulos returned to announce: "A titan has fallen."
Oops. Good Morning America on Friday preemptively announced "expected" job creation for the month of March totaling 190,000. In reality, 88,000 jobs were created. The ABC morning show was only off by 102,000 jobs. At 7:10am, about 75 minutes before the release of the actual numbers, reporter Linzie Janis insited, "The government's jobs report is out this morning. It's expected to show that 190,000 jobs were created last month." The accompanying graphic included the number and a tiny asterisk, presumably representing the tentative nature of the numbers. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
This is a monthly practice on the ABC morning show. The anchors will announce the hypothetical, possible results and then cover the real result later in the day on the network. Janis allowed that the new report might not be great. She added, "Why the slowdown? Well, those $85 billion in government spending cuts." Just a month ago, however, GMA's Bianna Golodryga lamented the fact that investors were shrugging off the sequester.
All three networks on Wednesday and Thursday parroted the exact same talking points from the White House, touting Barack Obama for expressing "solidarity" with struggling workers by taking a five percent pay cut. The President made the move, which amounts to a minuscule $1700 a month, in the wake of sequestration. On Good Morning America, Josh Elliott trumpeted, "[Obama] says he wants to show solidarity with government workers who face a furlough because of budget cuts." [See a video montage below. MP3 audio here.]
Over on NBC's Today, Natalie Morales touted, "In an attempt at solidarity with federal workers feeling the sequester spending cuts, President Obama is giving himself a five percent pay cut on his $400,000-a-year salary." Offering a remarkably similar thought, World News anchor Diane Sawyer rounded up the amount to a year's total: " That's $20,000, to show solidarity with government employees who will be furloughed." In an impressed tone, the host praised, "The White House says Obama will personally write a check to the Treasury."
An unhinged Chris Matthews exploited another tragedy on Wednesday, connecting the pro-Second Amendment views of Ted Cruz and other Republicans to the shootings of two prosecutors in Texas. The Hardball anchor began by dredging up failed Senate candidate Sharron Angle's three-year-old reference to "Second Amendment remedies." Matthews connected, "If that was frightening enough for you, how about what's happening in Colorado and Texas?...In Texas, two prosecutors were killed, a third has now pulled out of a case against the Aryan brotherhood of Texas for, quote, 'security reasons.'"
Matthews made his linkage totally clear: "We've got a Texas senator, Ted Cruz, who won't let the Senate hold a democratic vote on gun safety. So, no democracy. We've got people out there using guns to get even with public officials, intimidating those they don't kill." Skipping from Angle, to the murder of prosecutors, to Ted Cruz, he snarled, "This is where we are with guns in this country. Second Amendment remedies being executed on public officials. Refusal by some elected officials to let us have a democratic vote on what to do about it." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Longtime Hillary Clinton fan Claire Shipman isn't waiting for the 2016 push. The Good Morning America reporter on Wednesday launched "Hillary Watch" and regurgitated talking points about a potential presidential bid. She breathlessly related, "But with the launch of an independent super PAC, the question is everywhere. Is Hillary ready to run?"
Shipman also featured a Clinton supporter outside a rally. The man oddly enthused, " I think she'll run and she's got to save the country, right?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] She's got to save the country? From who? Fellow Democrat Barack Obama? The journalist added that it's "unrealistic" for the former Secretary of State to have a normal life. Shipman gushed, "Hillary Watch is officially under way. Just a few months into retirement, Hillary Clinton is back on stage." Despite the reporter's enthusiasm for the ex-First Lady, Shipman could not get her the nomination in 2008.
It's not often that media outlets ignore their own scoops, but that's what ABC is doing. The network has (thus far) relegated to its website the latest details on the decision by the Obama Defense Department to deny Purple Hearts to the victims of the Fort Hood massacre. The rest of the networks have also skipped this story. ABC "obtained" a Pentagon position paper on the subject, but still failed to give it network coverage.
It was ABC alone that highlighted the story back in February. On February 12, Brian Ross explained the impact of the decision to deny Purple Hearts: "...Former Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, who still has bullets lodged in his body, says he has lost almost $70,000 in benefits otherwise available to those with combat-related injuries." So far, World News, Nightline and Good Morning America (as well as NBC and CBS) have failed to cover the newest details of the story. In fact, ABC has done nothing since February.
George Stephanopoulos was so enthusiastic towards Robert Redford and his sympathetic new film about an ex-1960s radical that the actor enthused, "You ought to get on the marketing team!" The aging actor/director appeared on Tuesday's Good Morning America and endorsed the violent actions of protest groups. Reminiscing on his own past, the liberal Hollywood star recounted, "When I was younger, I was very much aware of the movement. I was more than sympathetic, I was probably empathetic because I believed it was time for a change."
After Stephanopoulos wondered, "Even when you read about bombings," Redford responded, "All of it. I knew that it was extreme and I guess movements have to be extreme to some degree." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Remarkably, after this well known actor endorsed violence and terrorism as a political tool, Stephanopoulos did not question the remark. Instead, he tossed a softball: "Do you come out of the experience with the same kinds of empathy that you had going in?"