Herewith a new feature on the Erik Wemple Blog: Mediology, a look at the work of ideologically-driven critics and watchdogs of the U.S. national media.


* NewsBusters has been all over the story of Vice President Joe Biden’s “chains” comment of last week. Noel Sheppard takes note of Peggy Noonan’s comments on “Meet the Press”: “If it had been a Republican vice presidential candidate who had made those gaffes . . . the subject today of the panel would be how stupid is this person, can this person possibly govern?” Good on NB for breaking down that small-mindedness that has in many cases framed the “chains” moment as just another of good ol’ Joe’s extemporaneous indiscretions.

Sheppard also elbows New York Times columnist Paul Krugman for attacking a Newsweek cover story titled “Hit the Road, Barack: Why We Need a New President.” Sheppard goes deep into CBOville with Krugman, a marsh into which I will not wade at this moment.

* Don Irvine of Accuracy In Media (AIM) disbelieves the contention of CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist that his people are the only ones who have “not picked sides in this election.” Irvine senses a certain leftiness among the cable net’s key people:

Feist may want the public to believe that the network will be unbiased in its convention coverage, but with Candy Crowley, Soledad O’Brien, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper as part of the team in Tampa and Charlotte, it will be very clear which side of the fence the network is on.

* Ron Futrell of Big Journalism argues that the media’s being too aggressive with the Mitt Romney-tax return story:

Why is the Activist Old Media so obsessed with Mitt Romney’s taxes?

He has released what is federally required, he has been as transparent as most other presidential candidates, so why the obsession?

The short answer is that as Barack Obama’s #1 SuperPAC, it is the media’s job to do whatever the campaign wants, so they do it. Mark Halpern said as much on the Today Show over the weekend. When asked about the media and the tax return issue, Halpern said, “The media is very susceptible to doing what the Obama campaign wants.” No duh.

But what of the conservatives who’ve urged greater tax-return disclosure?


* Media Matters for America is saying that Fox News has begun to provide “cover” for the comments of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) regarding what he termed “legitimate rape.”

In their first and as of yet only report on the comments, America’s Newsroom anchor Martha MacCallum neither played Akin’s comment nor read it, describing it only as “what he said about ‘legitimate rape’” and adding that he “had to do some serious correction on that comment over the weekend.” Viewers unfamiliar with the story would have absolutely no idea what Akin had said.

Just a production error, no doubt.

Another gripe of Media Matters: Fox News’s alleged distortion of remarks by Michelle Obama to convince people that “voting for Republicans could cause people to ‘die from cancer.’” The truth, says MMfA, is that “the first lady was simply pointing out that repealing health care reform would increase the number of people without health insurance.” It cites this exchange on the show “Fox & Friends”:

CARLSON: Let’s talk a little bit about Michelle Obama, the first lady, out on the campaign trail, and she was talking about this cancer ad, the controversial one, or was she? Do you believe that she was insinuating back to that ad when she said that if you elect Mitt Romney, women will die from cancer?

MICHELLE MALKIN (Fox News contributor): Well, it’s an interesting parallel -- it’s an interesting echo of the ad’s theme, of course, which is that somehow, if Republicans are elected to the White House, that all of these people are going to die, die, die.

What would Media Matters do without “Fox & Friends”? Stacked up against the archive of “F&F,” this transgression is looking minor.

* FAIR doesn’t like how the media is covering Paul Ryan.


* In a segment that he calls “Media Monitor,” Howard Kurtz, the host of “Reliable Sources” on CNN, commonly sets up a controversy and opines a bit on it. First up on Sunday’s segment was the controversial “niggerization” comment by Touré, for which the commentator apologized on Friday afternoon. “I’m glad Touré apologized. There’s no place for that kind of inflammatory language.”

Next was the Fareed Zakaria controversy, in which the famous author and commentator was busted for plagiarism, then cleared by his bosses at Time and CNN. Here, Kurtz summarized the news and then ran. No opinion, no analysis, no take. Perhaps that has something to do with conflicts — both Zakaria and Kurtz work for the same cable network. Whatever the case, I want opinions from my Media Monitor.