Friday, August 13, 2010

Wendy Murphy's Revival

While I rarely watch cable news, I’m fully aware that—in the era of Glenn Beck—the medium is more “entertainment” than “news.”

Nonetheless, FOX, CNN, and MSNBC all claim to have some “news” in their broadcasts. And so it would seem to me that each network would have minimal standards in a guest—perhaps to the extent that a guest who made repeated and verifiably false statements would not continue to be invited.

That standard, alas, seems to be too high for FOX, at least with regard to the decision to give air time to Wendy Murphy. Yes, that Wendy Murphy. Given that Murphy made error after error after error of fact during her on-air commentary about the lacrosse case, I would have thought that she would have disappeared from TV screens in the case’s aftermath. After all, Murphy is either a serial fabricator or a willful ignorant, and I would think that neither qualification would be much desired by a “news” network.

And yet here was Murphy, spouting her usual, factually-challenged nonsense in an appearance with Radley Balko. Balko, astonished at his first-hand taste of Murphy’s ramblings, did some fact-checking on her recent appearances. The result wasn’t pretty.

So what does Murphy’s continued appearances say about the state of cable “news”? I agree with Balko: “Cable news is about lining people up on either side and letting them go at it. There's no room for subtlety. There's certainly no time for fact-checking a guest's claims, even after the segment airs. Murphy is pretty, provocative, and confrontational. She's great TV. That she's inaccurate, slanderous, and hysterical is beside the point . . . At some point you have to wonder, is it even possible to be too shameless for cable news?”

Alex Pareene, of left-leaning Salon, piggy-backed on Balko’s post to (correctly) brand Murphy as Exhibit A of the proposition that “there are, in the mass media, absolutely no consequences for blatant, constant lying.”

Pareene, alas, then fatally undermines his case by comparing Murphy to Peter Beinart and Jeff Goldberg, both of whom supported the war in Iraq, and both of whom (until, in Beinart’s case, recently) have publicly and repeatedly defended Israeli national security policy.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the flaws in this comparison: Murphy repeatedly, shamelessly makes “facts” up to advance her argument. Goldberg, Beinart, and other supporters of the invasion of Iraq made (what I consider) a flawed public policy judgment. But nothing either man has ever written (including Beinart’s recent poorly-argued NYRB essay on Israeli matters) even approaches in journalistic misconduct anything Murphy said about the lacrosse case—or, from Balko’s essay, anything she’s said about sex crimes or immigration policy.

That Pareene considers Murphy’s serial fabrications comparable to the performance of Goldberg or Beinart suggests that he, unlike Balko, doesn’t see just how outrageous Murphy’s behavior has been.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

“there are, in the mass media, absolutely no consequences for blatant, constant lying.”

There are, however, repercussions in the blogosphere; where corrections come immediately; and too many lies
result in a reduced readership and, finally, extinction for unreliability.

(But about whose reliability does the MSM carp?)

William L. Anderson said...

I think your point is well-taken. There really is a difference between a mistaken public policy view and a view that is based on sheer nonsense. Now, I was against the war from the beginning and was on the record as being against it, but I do respect the opinions of others.

I DON'T respect someone like Murphy, who simply is a slanderer and a loudmouth who needs to have her law license revoked on the grounds of all-around evil. Her comments on the Tonya Craft case alone (not to mention her dishonest Duke missives) tell me this woman is not fit for anything but cleaning rooms at the Ramada, and that is insulting the good women who work those jobs! (Murphy needs to clean the bathrooms with her tongue.)

jay said...

Has she been sued by any of those she defamed and/or libeled?

Maxwell said...

I take exception with your use of Glenn Beck’s program as a news source. History source yes, news source no. I have been watching Glenn Beck’s programs on the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. I have learned more in a few weeks than I did in my entire k-16 school years. I now have my own copy of the Constitution to fact-check the conversations. The first thing Beck says is his is NOT a news program. He is an entertainer as well, but if you think about it, who would watch a program with a boring professor-type droning on and on? Been there, done that! There is a new Gallup poll that confirms the trust in the MSM is evaporating, and one of two growing news sources is cable news. That would be Fox News, as they trounce their competitors. As far as fact-checking goes, who is fact-checking the fact-checkers? Selected news and fact-checking has gotten us zero, and worse so far.

Deklan Singh said...

KC, please tell me that you're not watching cable news and that you won't watch it in the future.

These people are goblins. If they were allowed to perform animal sacrifices on their shows, they definitely would.

Anonymous said...

While I rarely watch cable news, I’m fully aware that—in the era of Glenn Beck—the medium is more “entertainment” than “news.”
This lead line discloses that you are a complete total hypocrite.
:)
NoD

KC Johnson said...

To the 5.05:

I'm not sure how my comment about cable "news"--which seems to me a fairly non-controversial statement--constitutes hypocrisy. As to the first half of the sentence, I watch almost no non-sports TV, and the last time I watched a full cable news program was CNN's Election Night 2009 coverage.

Anonymous said...

Is Murphy a Communist?

Maxwell said...

KC, On Nov. 2nd, be sure and watch Fox News for your election coverage. If you watched CNN, I can understand you not wanted to experience such media malpractice again. As to Wendy Murphy, she is still entitled to her opinions, and I sometimes agree with her, sometimes not. I decide what information is relevant for myself. I did not find Murphy nearly as offensive as Nancy Grace. It seems to me Fox News brings in all sorts of people with their opinions, if only the elitist babblers were allowed, Fox would be circling the drain with the other networks.

Kilgore said...

Anyone who watches television as a source for "news" or information is surely in peril. Television has become ideologically based with "news" shows spinning everything they can in order to push their own way of viewing the world. We now have propaganda machines. Fox is not the only culprit here. All of them do this. The majority of people don't have the native intelligence to see that they are being fed a constant diet of biased/half-story material meant to shift their opinions in the desired direction. Many people sit in ignorance as they point their fingers at the news outlet that differs from their own brainwashing. They sit in certainty that their own chosen brainwashing network has the "truth". Sadly, the same can be said about social science "research" that does something very similar but has the respected label of "science" to prop up its brainwashing. Click my name to see a youtube on this topic. We are in deep doo.

I'm with KC, my only TV is for sports and the HD discovery channel sorts of things.

Anonymous said...

Professor.

Do you ever wonder why an increasing number of "average" Americans are becoming aware of the fact that elitist's govern this country and shape the beliefs of our children in government schools?

Have you ever given a thought to the fact that your writings may be helping to build that awareness?

This question came to mind after reading your post that "I'm not sure how my comment about cable "news"--which seems to me a fairly non-controversial statement--constitutes hypocrisy."

I think the poster who accused you of "hypocrisy" may have been incorrect. Perhaps his/her accusation was made based upon that statement plus others you may have made in the past. From my perspective, your comments read as nothing more than routine beliefs from an "elitist."

Criticizing you for your comments would be akin to criticizing a poodle for barking at a strange sound. Poodles react to stimuli the way poodles are supposed to react and "elitists" react to stimuli the way "elitists" have been conditioned to react. It is really no big deal.

While it may not be hypocrisy, your statement "While I rarely watch cable news, I’m fully aware that—in the era of Glenn Beck—the medium is more “entertainment” than “news” is a perfect example of "elitistspeak."

That would be like me saying that although I rarely visit Durham-In Wonderland, I'm fully aware that K.C. Johnson definitely, certainly and for certain possesses little more than a rudimentary sense of history. As it turns out, I have been reading this blog - even purchased a couple of your books - for quite some time. I would never make such a foolish statement since my opinion of your academic credentials and historical knowledge is based upon facts and not “talking points” spewed by uninformed news readers in the mainstream media.

I hope these comments help.

P.S. I feel full disclosure might be necessary. The above comments were written by an old guy with a solitary degree from one of "them there" (Hillaryspeak) "state colleges" more than 50 years ago, so feel free to ignore them.

Edward said...

Is it OK to watch CNN Headline News?

Anonymous said...

KC, have you been paying close attention to the controversy over the credentials and the research of Anil Potti at Duke Medical? I would be surprised if not, but there seem to be a few recurring themes in this latest, and potentially more damaging crisis at Duke:

1) Lack of disclosure
2) Conflicts of interest
3) Poor leadership
4) Questionable ethics

Naturally, all the facts have yet to come out, but what is known is bad enough.

Any plans on commenting?

KC Johnson said...

To the 4.22:

Have been following it only superficially--but I agree with you, it does seem to fit into the expected pattern at Duke . . .

Joey said...

My partner said Wendy, with her screeching, reminded him of Judy Tenuta. (I understand what he meant, but hated the comparison because I loved Judy Tenuta!)

Anonymous said...

I, too, am not sure what Glenn Beck has to do with Wendy Murphy. Did she appear on his show? Did he quote her? Has he made demonstrably false statements of fact about recent news items? I do know he doesn't have a news show. What you have done in this post is to try to demean Beck with innuendo which is beneath you, Dr. Johnson. I have enjoyed this blog and still visit it precisely because you stick to facts and (usually) eschew stereotypes and political correctness.

Maxwell said...

“Anyone who watches television as a source for "news" or information is surely in peril.”
---
So, television news is a waste of time. We also know for sure the print ‘Journolist’ media is a farce. Where will I find unbiased news reporting? I don’t want to face the November elections without reliable political information, now do I? Just think what could happen! [Shudder]

Michael said...

K.C. simply referred to Glenn Beck to indicate that he is not naive enough to believe that the cable news business is anything but the sale of a product that certain people are predisposed to buy. Glenn Beck and his programming speaks to a certain group, and he has been extremely successful and visible in doing so - perhaps the most successful and most visible and therefore an illustration that is simple to understand for most folks.

What he also seems to be saying is that Wendy Murphy is a different case. She is not merely trying to sell a viewpoint, but trying to do it by affirmatively lying about basic facts. Thus, he is using Glenn Beck as a point of contrast, not comparison.

For what it's worth, I'm not a big fan of modern cable news either, but I agree that Murphy is not just selling a viewpoint, but is fraudulently selling a viewpoint - something that Beck, Olbermann etc.are not doing, or at least not doing with the consistent premeditation that Murphy is doing.

Locomotive Breath said...

Someone seems to have forgotten all too quickly about Nancy Grace and CNN on which program appeared Wendy Murphy, repeatedly.

http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0604/10/ng.01.html

Grace was on long before Beck. That you would choose to zero in on Beck and Fox speaks volumes about what is fashionable to talk about in the faculty lounge.

I watch neither.

KC Johnson said...

To L.B.:

The post was a response to the Balko post, which discussed his appearing with Murphy on a Fox program (even after the documentation of all of her lies on the lacrosse case), hence the mention of Fox.

Any network that broadcasts Murphy deserves the same level of condemnation.

Locomotive Breath said...

And Glen Beck had what to do with it, exactly?

Maxwell said...

Radley Balko ‘The Agitator’ is known for his libertarian viewpoints, much like Ron Paul. I find it humorous that you have chosen his opinion of Murphy to make a point. I could put a dozen people ahead of Murphy in the discussion of media malpractice by journalists. It seems to me, Balko is a paid opinion person just like Murphy, and the others. I pay little attention to the chattering class, but their discussions alert me to research several news outlets, and reach my own opinion.

skwilli said...

There certainly are opinion shows on Fox News. They seem to label them more often correctly, something I don't see done as well on CNN and especially MSNBC. I would take the opinion of Glenn Beck more often than I would Anderson Cooper or especially Keith Olbermann. I try to balance what I hear on Cable News to the degree I have time, and I have seen Ms. Murphy spouting her drivel on all the networks at one time or another. "Flair and Imbalanced" is her motto.

KC Johnson said...

To the 8.15:

I invite you to submit the dozen people who are better examples of journalistic malpractice than Murphy.

To L.B.:

The wording was "the era of Glenn Beck," which strikes me as both a reasonable and a content-neutral statement of the current cable news environment, given that Beck is now the biggest name in cable news (the "era of Anderson Cooper" wouldn't really have been an accurate statement about current cable news) and given that Beck's program is more entertainment than news.

Maxwell said...

“I invite you to submit the dozen people who are better examples of journalistic malpractice than Murphy.”
---
Surely you jest! I could start with all the so-called journalists that are members of the scandalous list-serv ‘Journolist’, that suffer from the Sarah Palin and Fox News, Derangement Syndrome. The liberal journolistas even suggested the government censor Fox News.

Exerpt:
"The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage. When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down.”
Read more:http://tinyurl.com/2786eot

I could move right on to the NYT scribblers that have become an embarrassment even to liberals. Oh, and I must not forget Helen Thomas and Dan Rather. Do you really want just 12 names? There is a very good reason the liberal media is dying, they sold what little remained of their journalistic integrity for one election. The sorry lot won the battle, but are losing the war, in my opinion.

KC Johnson said...

To the 5.43:

I share Andrew Sullivan's critique of Journo-list. That said, I'm unaware of any member of Journo-list making up facts, as Murphy repeatedly did. The general argument against Journo-list is that its existence promoted a groupthink that led to slanted coverage, not out and out lies.

Also, I admit that I haven't followed the j-list controversy very closely, and so I was taken aback by this passage: "The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage. When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down.”

I'm aware that one member of J-list--a UCLA professor, not a journalist--posed a question of whether Fox News' license should be revoked. (His post, as far as I know, expressed no definitive opinion on the matter.) At least one reporter dismissed the idea, and that seems to have been it from the thread.

Have you uncovered evidence of actual working journalists calling for Fox News' license to be pulled? That would be news indeed, and if so, I'm surprised your discovery hasn't gotten wider attention (although, again, it wouldn't be even remotely comparable to Murphy's pattern of simply making things up).

Maxwell said...

KC, If you only read liberal media news articles, you could not be fully aware of the ‘Journolist’ controversy. The liberal media has downplayed the scandal from the start. They of course want the story to go away. The dreaded Fox News is one of the few places that covered the story, and bloggers have been left to keep it alive. It is horrifying to realize these faux-journalists helped shape the out-of-control decline the USA now faces using unprofessional tactics.

Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA on JournoList: “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull [Fox's'] broadcasting permit once it expires?”

Also SEE:
Contains links to check out sources of information:
-Joe Klein of Time got anti-Sarah Palin talking points from Journolist-
http://tinyurl.com/26yzfsx

Contains excerpts from Journolist members @:
-Did Jonathan Stein reveal the Journolist "conspiracy"?-
http://tinyurl.com/2cb6b2q

Drum roll please:
Aug 16, 2010 ... A new poll in the United States has shown that three-quarters of Americans do not trust the country's newspapers and television news. ...
http://tinyurl.com/27qarzc

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.43:

I don't read only liberal sites. Indeed, the first site on my daily blogroll is the libertarian Volokh Conspiracy.

That said, I'll repeat the earlier question: where was the working journalist (as opposed to a UCLA professor) who advocated (or even asked about) shutting down Fox News; and how is anything related to Journolist comparable (much less worse than) to anything Wendy Murphy did in the lacrosse case?

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.43:

I don't read only liberal sites. Indeed, the first site on my daily blogroll is the libertarian Volokh Conspiracy.

That said, I'll repeat the earlier question: where was the working journalist (as opposed to a UCLA professor) who advocated (or even asked about) shutting down Fox News; and how is anything related to Journolist comparable (much less worse than) to anything Wendy Murphy did in the lacrosse case?

Anonymous said...

Are cable channels licensed by the FCC in the way broadcast channels are? Are there actually licenses for the FCC not to renew for these channels?

Maxwell said...

“JournoList liberals also discussed how Fox News isn't a news organization and should be denied access to White House briefings and denied a skybox at the Democratic National Convention.”
Read more: http://tinyurl.com/2efn835

Maxwell said...

More opinion that the Journolistas targeted Fox News:
Video: WSJ.com Columnist John Fund discusses Journolist vs. Fox News
http://tinyurl.com/2b7mvm7

You can view pictures of the ‘Jourolist’ members at:
http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=29858
Note: Salon has two members.

Anonymous said...

8/15/10 11:28 AM
Or I could be pointing out the inconsistency of a thought process that suggests that the means of transmission of information (cable, radio waves, print etc.) has anything to do with the validity of the message.
NoD.

Maxwell said...

This whole Balko/Murphy claptrap is so transparent it seems juvenile to me. If you read the gripe about Wendy Murphy is seems to be around a statement about 2% of sex offenders. That one statement is reverberated in a drumbeat/echo tactic used by the Journolistas. David Brock at Media Matters (Soros funded) is one of the drummers, and he is a Journolist member.

I viewed the video of (libertarian) John Stossel’s program when Radley Balko (libertarian) and Murphy were the guests. I noted that Balko did 75% of the talking, and while Murphy did talk, he leaned back in his chair and smirked. That was very sexist, and certainly not professional in my opinion.

I see the circle now, Balko who also wrote for the libertarian Reason Magazine, mentioned KC Johnson, KC Johnson (libertarian) mentions Balko, and then Media Matters and the others, echo-echo-echo. They seem to say, “Lets use Wendy Murphy as the fact-challenged child advocate as the poster girl, to further our sex offenders registry fight. Why we can even work in a shot at Glenn Beck and Fox News!” (Sarcasm)
You ask what did the Journolistas do that was worse than Murphy? What the Journolistas accomplished, is to let President Jimmah Carter off the hook! MOO!

Anonymous said...

8/15/10 11:28 AM
Or I could be pointing out the inconsistency of the statement of a person who would say he doesn't watch a particular show but manages to draw conclusions about "Cable News" based on his non-observation.
NoD

Maxwell said...

KC, Did you note Ralph Luker of Cliopatria was one of the JournoListas?
The professor doth protest too much, methinks. Your position is clearer to me know. If Luker passed on his JournoList DNA to his group, why it is difficult to know how far-reaching his polluted, so-called news journalism could travel? You might even find that some Cliopatria participants staunchly supported a presidential candidate they knew absolutely nothing about. I personally would rather Luker not even touch the subject of history ever again, who could believe a thing he writes? That “Gang of 88” just added some new members, IMHO.

SEE: Historians for Obama - History News Network, George Mason University-
http://hnn.us/articles/44958.html

David Nieporent said...

Has anybody considered writing to the New England School of Law to ask why Wendy Murphy is still associated with the school? I know it isn't exactly Harvard, but shouldn't they care at least a little bit about their reputation?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jay, Prof. Bill Anderson, and David Nieporent.

1. The slandered former members of the Duke Lacrosse team should sue the hell out of Wendy Murphy.

2. The Massachusetts Bar needs to be prodded -- hard -- into disciplinary action against Wendy Murphy. Hopefully this would result in suspension or revocation of her license to practice law.

3. Pressure should be brought to bear upon the New England School of Law to fire, or at least discipline, Wendy Murphy.

Clearly, and sadly, publishing the truth about her multiple falsehoods and continued lying is not enough.

Gus W.

halides1 said...

Some time ago I pointed out that Wendy Murphy
managed to get a number of facts of the Amanda Knox/Raffaele Sollecito
case wrong as well. After rereading her article, I can say that it is more wildly inaccurate than I remembered.

My father warned me not to listen to any pundit who appealed to anger, because anger blinds one to reason. The next time I see Ms. Murphy on the tube, I will stick my fingers in my ears.

halides1 said...

Some time ago I pointed out that Wendy Murphy
managed to get a number of facts of the Amanda Knox/Raffaele Sollecito case wrong as well. After rereading her article, I can say that it is even less inaccurate than I remembered. For example, Murphy wrote of Rudy Guede, “and one guy, a drug-dealer friend of Amanda's, has already been convicted.” Amanda Knox met Rudy Guede once or twice at most. She knew who he was; he was not her friend. Ms. Murphy treats the forensics as if CSI Miami were on this case, but it was more like CSI Mayberry.

My father warned me not to listen to any pundit who incited anger, because anger blinds one to reason. The next time I see Ms. Murphy on the tube, I will stick my fingers in my ears.