Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Media Matters' Unfair Verbatim Quoting

O'REILLY: OK. The website you got it off is called Media Matters, which is an assassination website. It's a far-left propaganda thing. Now, I do two hours -- you do radio, two hours as well. They'll take two, three sentences; they'll put it on out of context. - Bill O'Reilly on Ireland's The Late Late Show

I don't do this often for fear of sounding strident, but it's fair if you're only stridenting back. Media Matters has been mischaracterized.

O'Reilly is correct in perceiving a leftward bias in Media Matters. I don't recall ever seeing them writing up a Democrat. Probably at some point they've quoted Joe Lieberman or Zell Miller, but these people are Democrats in (D) only. If you want FAIR bullshit-calling, you should take Dick Cheney's advice and go to factcheck.org. As for "far-left" well, if Colin Powell ever publishes a book exposing his REAL feelings about his time with GWB, they'll call HIM far-left too.

However, what Media Matters does fairly is this: They accurately quote their adversaries and go out of their way to provide context. For example, if somebody says something odious in a segment of a pundit show, they will usually reprint the transcript of the entire segment. When they don't do that, they provide a link to the transcript.

It's true they boldface the quotes they want to call your attention toward.

Probably the thing that bothers O'Reilly and Tammy Bruce and Rush Limbaugh and Melanie Morgan about the site is in addition to all the other info in their articles, they publish contact info. They'll give the show's email address, along with this disclaimer: "When contacting the media, please be polite and professional. Express your specific concerns regarding that particular news report or commentary, and be sure to indicate exactly what you would like the media outlet to do differently in the future." I'm guessing not everyone who writes takes that advice, but Media Matters isn't revealing any private addresses and at least they make the attempt to maintain civility.

It's a lot easier to attack the messenger then to try to explain (or God forbid apologize for) an offensive remark, especially if you pop 'em out like waffles on a daily basis.

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