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OPINION

Riffed From The Headlines: Continuing The 2022 Media Mayhem Honors - Part 2

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Yes, there is more of the end-of-the-year accolades to hand out here at Riffed From The Headlines. Given that this column is dedicated to cataloging, critiquing, and occasionally (frequently) mocking the departures in the press from journalistic standards and ethics it stands to reason we would have even more mayhem to compile as we are honoring the…well, achievements witnessed in the media complex.

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As explained, this column covers the dysfunctional actions in the press which are sorted into categories for ease of explanation, so as a result, we spend a few days trying to “honor” the various notable activities we presented throughout 2022. Maybe pour yourself a stiff one and strap yourself in; this will be a bumpy ride.

YEAR IN RACE (A very packed category)

 After the shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma the Washington Post felt the need to note that it occurred on the 101st anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. They did this despite two details: As reported, “There was no evidence that the hospital shooting and the anniversary were connected.” Additionally, one detail left out of their reporting was that the shooter was a black male.
 The Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial was the epitome of elitist white privilege. Somehow at The Root they determined that the Amber Heard Verdict Sends A Message To Black Women Everywhere.
 At Fast Company they were able to peer into the “whiteness” of coffee. According to the outlet what they found was “unbearable”.
 As we set our clocks back this fall CNN revealed to us the racism found in Daylight Savings.
 Winner – Washington Post: It was a deeply needed expose from the paper that explained to us that there is inherent racism and sexism in…Shark Week. That this information was delivered by a pair of female marine biologists, and a third declaring over half in his field were female, means that we mainly focus on the Great White Supremacy of shark studies.

TRUTH AVERSE FACT-CHECKS

 In fact-checking Biden’s State of the Union speech it was clear the Associated Press looked for ways to avoid calling him “liar”, as the press relished doing with Donald Trump. Biden’s false claims were couched with euphemisms like “overstated”, “his statement is premature”, “inflated”, “made his plan sound more advanced than it is”,  and “it’s dubious to suggest.” The best was when Biden did not lie, but he related a faulty Democratic talking point.” (On the Republican response though they rated a claim of a lack of border visits as “Not True”.)
 When Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo said in the past year we have doubled our oil imports from Russia, Politifact jumped in to boldly declare her comment was Mostly False. The site then went on to prove her absolutely correct. The U.S. more than doubled its crude oil imports from Russia, to about 208,000 barrels a day in the first 11 months of 2021, from 76,000 barrels a day in 2020.”
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 Snopes initially called the reports of the Jose Biden administration including crack pipes in safety kits for drug users False, for being “grossly misleading”. When the administration came out to announce it would no longer be including crack pipes in these kits Snopes altered its assessment – not to True, but to Outdated.
 Newsguard offered two writers to report in Newsweek thatright-wing outlets were spreading false and disproven misinformation about the Paul Pelosi attack. The outlets cited were basing things on legacy media reports, the “disproven” aspects were changed after the initial reports they covered were published, and in some instances the information had never been changed by the major networks. 
 Winner – Daniel Dale-CNN: It takes a special skill to hold politicians from one party responsible for the inaccuracies provided by the other party. That “skill” is bias, for the record. Dale slammed senators Marsha Blackburn and Ron Johnson for spreading false information about Washington D.C. pandemic restrictions. He declared them in the wrong, while they were quoting Mayor Muriel Bowser directly. Dale declared Bowser had simply “used overly broad language”, but the GOP senators were responsible for researching the laws more thoroughly. The mayor not knowing what her own laws were was not a concern.

BODY CHECKING THE FACT-CHECKERS 
(The useless fact-checks made while not covering the government)


 Poynter assures us that a Florida Man did not turn himself in to the police for murdering his imaginary friend.
 USA Today assures us that abandoned Russian tanks in Ukraine are not being sold on eBay.
 Politifact calms people by explaining that eating potato chips with brown spots will not lead to “throat mold”.
 Reuters investigators got to the bottom of the science to confirm that satellites are in fact very real.
 Winner – Snopes: We came to learn this year that the Mars candy company is not altering or removing the chocolate swirls atop their iconic Snickers candy bars due to them resembling the veins on an erect penis.

DOXXIC EMASCULINITY (Cases of the press targeting lowly citizens)

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 Graham Richardson of Canada’s CTV was tracking down citizens who donated to the truckers’ protest on crowd-sourcing websites.
 Pilar Melendez of the Daily Beast exposed the story of a police chief who dared wear an ugly sweater to a private Christmas party that had ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ graphics on it.
 Business Insider tracked down the company that created the Jose Biden ‘I Did That’ stickers that appeared on gas pumps across the country.
 While the press complained about the threats of political speech leading to violence few were bothered when the activist group Ruth Sent Us was spreading the home addresses of Supreme Court justices.
 Winner – Taylor Lorenz: WaPo’s tech reporter felt the need to expose whom was behind the account Libs Of Tik Tok, going so far as to show up at the front doors of the woman’s family members. (Later Lorenz complained when people on the web began contacting her own family with questions about her actions.)

BEST CORRECTIONS

 Washington Post initially reported that “all” 133 school superintendents opposed Glenn Youngkin on a new policy. It had to go back and change that it had actually been only a 12-person panel that wrote a letter claiming they spoke for all of them, many who never even saw the letter.
 After making false claims about the Nazis protesting at a TPUSA event in Florida, The View had to issue corrections for three consecutive days on the matter.
 After making a series of false claims about a Donald Trump rally this Daily Mail piece was vivisected, and the reporter’s name disappeared completely.
 CNN’s lead fact-checker Tom Foreman delivered details about the Texas abortion law. He got the specifics so inaccurate that later in the broadcast they had to come back and correct him completely.
 NBC News reporter Miguel Almaguer reported on new details about the Paul Pelosi attack. Then NBC memory-holed the report, and Almaguer was suspended and has still not been heard from since. A local news station has since confirmed Almaguer’s report.
 Winner – MSNBC: After the FBI confiscated files from Donald Trump at Mar-A -Lago some at MSNBC wereinsistent on declaring that what took place was not a “raid”. This despite the fact the same network has long described these very actions in this manner. Amusingly former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi delivered this kind of admonishment while the onscreen graphics used “FBI Raid”, and then were quietly altered live on the air.
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PRESENTATION PARADOX

 Time Magazine warns that if Florida’s parental rights bill is enforced it could lead to lawsuits. It then goes on to energetically feature parents who are suing against the law.
 Rolling Stone thought it had a scathing expose of members from a pro-life group praying with Supreme Court Justices. Why this was considered bad is not fully explained. However this framing that the Roe v. Wade decision had somehow been skewed as a result was undercut by the fact that the public has been barred from the Court since the pandemic. The woman featured last prayed with justices two years ago.
 Upstart news outlet Semafor has a series of newsletters it produces, including one about the environment and global issues. Many commented on the disconnect of this letter being sponsored by Chevron Oil, and it ultimately caused the departure of writer Bill Spindle.
 Philip Bump in the Washington Post tried declaring that there was no need to release the police bodycam footage and other evidence of the Paul Pelosi attack because somehow the facts would lead to conspiracy theories.
 Movie site IdieWire had a profile on actress Jessica Chastain. In one portion they discussed the film “Zero Dark Thirty”, and she complained she had not been featured properly in the marketing of the film, including not appearing on the film’s poster. The article was augmented with a still photo of her from the film; that was the same image used on the movie posters she claimed to not include her.
 Winner – Joy Reid: It has become a tiresome analogy, but some on the left still cling to the “Handmaid’s Tale” as a form of oppression shorthand. Joy Reid completely botches this however when she tries to suggest women are oppressed in a Hedonism Resort setting: “Florida is basically Gilead with palm trees and bikinis.” 
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LOW-OCTANE GAS LIGHTING (the weakest attempts at narrative-building)

 Chuck Todd wisely stated that more people accepted Lincoln’s election than that of President Biden.
 Andrew Feinberg tries to insist Jose Biden is too articulate for the media to grasp.
 New York Times implies that Ron DeSantis is to blame for Hurricane Ian because apparently, he did not make hurricanes illegal when he “rejected” climate laws.
 Amanda Carpenter slams Brian Kemp for his “MAGA running mate”, except in Georgia they have no running mates as the Lieutenant governor runs as a separately chosen candidate. 
 Manu Raju claimed Ron DeSantis began a feud with Donald Trump while appearing on The Ruthless Podcast. In the episode, it is very clear the governor’s comments were in regard to Anthony Fauci. DeSantis never even mentions Trump.
 Chris Hayes was also dependably delusional. After saying that Ron DeSantis giving people the choice to not wear masks is “commanding” people, he cites a video of the governor telling students their masks are ineffective was a sign that he was berating them, despite his actually saying, “Wear it if you want to.”
 Reuters saw the news of two people killed by a lightning strike in D.C. and declared this was a dire warning about climate change.
 Stacey Abrams went on The View and pronounced boldly that she had never refused to concede her loss in the previous Georgia governor’s race. No one on the panel reminded Abrams that she was on this very program after that loss and declared she was not going to concede.
 Winner – Brian Stelter: CNN’s deposed media maven was expectantly defensive when his network rolled out CNN+ and it promptly was dissolved in a matter of weeks. He tried to suggest that it was too early to deem it a failureand chalked up that assessment as coming from haters. The creation of the service cost $300 million, and Stelter himself had declared it to be a historic platform as it began. So yes, Brian, it was a consummate failure.


[ And this brings us to the big awards, for the worst reporting of the year. While some refer to this un-prestigious non-honor as “The Riffie”, we simply want to nod at those who failed remarkably at their job. ]

The Individual Trophy

 Bob Woodward and John Costa broke the story that the White House phone logs on January 6 had over seven hours of missing content. After the press complex exploded with the news, the missing portions were discovered. 
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 Ali Velshi blames the Highland Park shooting on the lax gun laws in neighboring Indiana. “Guns get in from other places because there aren't hard borders between states, and that's the same problem with Highland Park. Guns get in from other places." It had already been established that the shooter obtained the weapons legally in Illinois.
 NPR’s Nina Totenberg claimed that Justice Neil Gorsuch refused vehemently to wear a mask in the Court, forcing fellow Justice Sonia Sotomayor to work independently from the rest of the justices. This report was roundly disputed by the Court and the Justices, even developing into an internal battle at NPR, as Totenberg ripped their ombudsman for comments on her report.
 Adam Wren in Politico Magazine published classified details of a sexual assault suffered by candidate Jennifer Ruth Greene while she served in the military. He published this against the victim’s wishes, with the aid of her Democrat opponent.
 NBC News reported on teachers who were quitting as a result of being unable to teach under the new Florida parental rights in education law. It turned out one was a 6th-grade teacher who was unaffected by the law’s changes, and the other had quit prior to the bill even passing the state legislature.
 In the New York Times they covered a Michigan voting firm found keeping its information stored on Chinese servers, finding the claims to be conspiracy theories made by voters. The next day the Times confirmed the accuracy of the story. Both reports were made by the same journalist, Stuart Thompson, who effectively debunked himself within one day.
 Winner – Kate Wells, NPR: Kate delivered a report for Morning Addition in which she included the audio of a woman as she was enduring an abortion procedure.


The Industry Story Award

 Outlets refused to delve into the Hunter Biden laptop after it was confirmed to be verified.
 The complete defense of John Fetterman despite exhibiting mental challenges following his stroke.
 The desperate recalibration of the economy in an attempt to shield Jose Biden from being responsible.
 The light coverage of the Sam Bankman-Fried -FTX implosion largely due to the fact that he was a huge Democrat donor and also invested heavily in a long list of media outlets.
 The collective support for abortion after the leaked SCOTUS draft memo and the lack of curiosity in revealing who leaked the document.
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 Outrage at the Ron DeSantis flight of a few dozen immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard while ignoring the thousands pouring across the border in Texas on a daily basis.
 Attempts by the press to blame political violence on right-wing rhetoric while ignoring the perpetual examples of left-wing violence.
 The Paul Pelosi attack that was at first broadcast as a political story but then dropped entirely as the details came out derailing the scripted narrative.
 The emotional reactions to Elon Musk purchasing Twitter and the desperate recalibration of facts as he later released The Twitter Files, exposing the government collusion and media complicity in controlling narratives on the platform.
 Winner – The Don’t Say Gay Collusion: It was with near uniformity that press outlets would only detail the Florida parental rights in education bill/law with their cooked-up description. It was an abject misrepresentation meant to mold the national narrative.

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