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


*Bannering the top of the Web site of Media Matters for America (MMfA) on Monday evening was this headline: “Hannity Pushes Akin To Drop Out Of Senate Race After ‘Legitimate Rape’ Comments.” Without so much as raising his voice, Sean Hannity formulates just the question for Akin: “If this becomes the defining issue in the campaign, and you lose this race and it impacts the top of the ticket in the state of Missouri, have you thought about the consequences of that?” Todd Akin replies that he has thought about such consequences, though he fails to convince. Great Hannity: “Personally I think it could be harmful to the whole party, to the whole state, to the whole idea of capturing the Senate.” Media Matters argues that Hannity’s disapproval, as well as that of others in the Fox world, came only after the network test-drove a less aggressive stance toward the Akin controversy. That is, the network tested the political winds before hammering Akin. Small-bore criticism.

*Another MMfA item has a bit more kick to it. It concerns the appearance of Karl Rove on Fox News on Monday to speak (briefly) about l’Affaire Akin. The problem: The cable net fails to disclose Rove’s not-very-well-hidden interest in the topic at hand: “Between June and early August, Crossroads GPS, the 501(c)(4) offshoot to Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC, has spent more than $850,000 on the Missouri Senate race. According to The Washington Post, Crossroads GPS has spent more than $5.4 million dollars overall in Missouri.”

Full disclosures — they’re such a pain, they disrupt the flow of the broadcast, no one really listens to them. Fox could solve the problem by putting a graphic in the corner of the screen every time Rove appears on it: “*Please assume multiple conflicts of interest.”

*Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) isn’t buying a Post story from Friday that, it claims, is built on the assumption that Iran is building a nuclear weapons program.

This assumption–that Iran is pursuing a weapon–is what appears to be guiding the entire crisis, and is the apparent basis for the ever-tightening sanctions that the West has put into place against Iran.

But Iran has consistently stated that it is not pursuing any such weapons program, and no evidence has emerged to substantiate the claim that they are in fact building a weapons program. Indeed, on several occasions, U.S. officials have acknowledged that they have no evidence that Iran is pursuing a weapon.

Tell ya — the folks at FAIR must have approved of all those Republican primary debates over the past year, ’cause the candidates were always careful to make this same point.


*NewsBusters’s Ken Shepherd gives the White House press corps what sounds like a B-range grade for its performance in yesterday’s White House press briefing. NB props go to CBS’s Nancy Cordes, who pressured the prez in a full inning of hardball, as follows:

As you know, your opponent recently accused you of waging a campaign filled with anger and hate and you told Entertainment Tonight that anyone who attends your rallies can see that they’re not angry or hate-filled affairs.

But in recent weeks, your campaign has suggested repeatedly, without proof, that Mr. Romney might be hiding something in his tax returns. They have suggested that Mr. Romney might be a felon for the way that he handed over power of Bain Capital and your campaign and the White House have declined to condemn an ad by one of your top supporters that links Mr. Romney to a woman’s death from cancer.

Are you comfortable with the tone that’s being set by your campaign? Have you asked them to change their tone when it comes to defining Mr. Romney?

The underside, writes Shepherd, was the question posed by the AP’s Jeff Kuhnhenn: “You are no doubt aware of the comments that Missouri Senate candidate, Republican Todd Akin, made on rape and abortion. I wondered if you think those views represent the views of the Republican party in general. They have been denounced by your own rival and other Republicans. Are they an outlier or representative?”

“Softball,” charged NB’s Shepherd. Yes, a high, arcing one right over the plate. But really — Kuhnhenn works for the Associated Press, which covers breaking news. Is he going to not ask about the most pressing story of the day?

Tony Lee over at’s Big Journalism wasn’t nearly as soft as Shepherd on the softball throwers. He pulverizes the press crew:

As Obama left the dais and exited the briefing room, the White House press corps gushed over him, grinning uncontrollably, treating him like a rock star.

Had the White House press corps really been angry at Obama, they would have asked questions about Fast and Furious, Solyndra, national security leaks, Obama’s college records, GM, the new e-book that details a dysfunctional Obama reelection campaign, or a host of other things.

Instead, they allowed Obama to capitalize on Akin’s rape comments. They asked two foreign policy questions, allowing Obama to spend time on what recent polling suggests is his strength.

Bolded text inserted to highlight tonal infirmity. Lee appears to be suggesting that the press corps crusade for the president’s undoing. That approach, of course, would be just as corrupt as the stance that Lee accuses it of taking — assisting the White House, that is.

The White House press corps needs the accountability that people like Shepherd and Lee apply. But one thing to consider: These folks often don’t decide what question to ask based on how it might make the president look to media critics. They’re in many cases pursuing a story and are seeking a quote or two to pop into the lede.

*Clay Waters of NewsBusters takes aim at an article by Elisabeth Rosenthal in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times. The piece, titled “The Cost of Cool,” worries about the harmful impact of air conditioning on the world.

Waters appears to have a problem with someone so bold as to take issue with such a staple of modern life. Yet he doesn’t so much make an argument as just needle a bit here and there:

Rosenthal had helpful advice (or will they become rules?) for how people could alter their lives to fight the unproven threat posed by global warming, betting that people “could acclimatize to warmer conditions,” shake off their “cultural differences in cooling preferences,” or else just sweat it out in silence.

Open up, Clay Waters!