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Matthew Sheffield's blog

A Tribute to My Friend, Noel Sheppard

The old saying that only the good die young is certainly apt to describe the passing of my dear friend and colleague Noel Sheppard at the age of 53.

I’ve known Noel since early 2005 when my brother Greg and I saw him contributing freelance pieces to the American Thinker. At the time, blogging was still relatively new and the political and media establishments (of both left and right) were still very wary about the idea that people without formal academic training could write about politics. As it turned out, the rest of America strongly disagreed.

Note from Matt Sheffield: Leaving NewsBusters

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working with the Media Research Center on NewsBusters since 2005. The internet was a much different place then than it was today.

MSNBC Fires Staffer Who Sent Tweet Claiming Republicans Hate Multiracial Families

Shortly after Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called on MSNBC's president to personally apologize and "take corrective action" for an offensive statement posted to the liberal network's Twitter feed which claimed that conservative people hate interracial families, the TV executive appears to have done just that.

"The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable. We immediately acknowledged it was offensive and wrong, apologized and deleted it," MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a press release that was read aloud on "The Cycle."

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Bans Staff from MSNBC After Race-Baiting Tweet

As NewsBusters readers are aware, yesterday, MSNBC sent out an offensive tweet which claimed that conservatives hate interracial families. The network eventually retracted its tweet and some staffers with the left-wing cable channel apologized for it but that wasn't good enough for Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus who has banned all of his staff members from appearing on MSNBC until the network's president, Phil Griffin, apologizes directly for the defamatory statement.

The tweet referenced an ongoing television ad campaign for Cheerios which portrayed a mixed-race family. "Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family," the network said on its official account.

NewsBusters Interview: Rediscovering the Old Hollywood Right

It’s hard to imagine, but for many years, conservatives and Republicans were rather common in Hollywood. Exploring that history is worth doing not just because it is informative but also because it illustrates that there is no good reason that people on the Right could not have a bigger presence in that industry today.

Arizona State University professor Donald Critchlow has done an important service in this regard with his new book When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. I had the pleasure recently of speaking with him about his work, the transcript of which follows this introduction.

Liberal Blogger Ezra Klein Leaves WaPo Same Day Libertarians Join Up

Tuesday was a big day over at the Washington Post with the announcement of the departure of one blogger and the bringing in of another. Left-wing blogger Ezra Klein who had been overseeing a supposedly ideologically neutral section of the paper’s website called “Wonkblog” will no longer be working with the Post. Supposedly, he was in a dispute with the paper’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, over some large-scale online project for which he wanted funding.

Joining the paper will be the blogging team put together by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, known in the web world for his libertarian-conservative political views and his love of data and free speech. Unlike Klein, however, Volokh and his co-bloggers will not make the pretense that their ruminations are utterly devoid of ideological thinking.

HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ to End After Third Season

The Newsroom, HBO’s low-rated series about a fictional television news channel will end after its third season, the premium cable channel announced Monday.

Besides struggling to get viewers, the Aaron Sorkin drama was widely criticized as being unrealistic and pompous. The show also was notable for its very liberal political slant and incredible lack of self-awareness about that slant. Throughout its brief time on the air, the show repeatedly denounced a lack of civility on cable television while also frequently slamming conservatives.

'Girls' Star Lena Dunham: People Who Don't Like Seeing Me Naked Need Psych Help

Lena Dunham, the actress who made herself infamous by comparing voting for Barack Obama to losing one's virginity, has come out with another brilliant statement: People who aren't really interested in seeing her naked need to seek help from a psychiatrist.

Replying to a television critic who asked her at a press conference why her character in the HBO series Girls frequently appears naked for no apparent reason, Dunham said that she was going for "realistic expression." She expanded her remarks further by saying that "If you’re not into me, that’s your problem and you’re going to have to work that out with professionals."

Suicide Prevention? MSNBC Has Appointed Executive to Review Scripts Before Airtime

After a string of high-profile embarrassments, MSNBC appears to have decided that perhaps letting the inmates run the asylum is not the best of ideas.

According to a piece out today by National Review, the low-rated cable news channel has assigned an executive to review the scripts of its shows before they are aired as a way of trying to prevent such premeditated disasters like Martin Bashir wishing for Sarah Palin to be defecated upon.

MSNBC’s Touré Insists He’s Living Proof Marijuana Doesn’t Harm Intelligence

On Friday we learned that New York Times columnist David Brooks does not approve of marijuana legalization on account of his belief that the drug dulls the minds of its habitual users.

Sure, that’s what a lot of those pointed-headed scientist types think but why should we listen to them? Instead, we should take the word Touré Neblett, currently an MSNBC pundit and quite possibly one of the dumbest people ever to appear regularly on television.

NewsBusters Interview: Dana Gioia on Christian Retreat from the Culture

For decades, there has been a lot of discussion about a “cultural war,” primarily between people of traditional faith and those who see religion as something of little value. Whether war is quite the right metaphor to describe the phenomenon, there certainly is a lot of pressure on people who adhere to traditionalist opinions, as Phil Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty can certainly attest.

Yet while opponents of traditional beliefs and a politically unbalanced media have certainly proved harmful to faith in the public square, those two groups cannot be entirely blamed for the less prominent place that Christians now have in American culture. According to poet and art critic Dana Gioia, Christians also have themselves to blame as well for basically withdrawing from the cultural scene.

‘Duck Dynasty’ Family Hits Back After Phil Robertson Suspension

Less than a week after Phil Robertson was suspended by A&E from the hit show Duck Dynasty, the hunting equipment mogul and his family are pushing back. Speaking with the British Daily Mail newspaper, a “source close to the family” said that the network was aware of the controversial things that Robertson had said in an interview but declined to suppress them even though it could have.

“It is our belief that they knew what was going to happen and then used the situation to exercise control over Phil,” the newspaper’s source said.

'Duck Dynasty' Family States It May Ditch A&E Following Suspension of Phil Robertson

Following the suspension of Phil Robertson from A&E’s hit show Duck Dynasty, his family appears to be reevaluating their relationship with the cable channel.

In a statement released on their Duck Commander company website, the family said it “cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm” and is currently in discussions with A&E about what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.”

Liberal Media: People Mocking Obama's PajamaBoy Are Racist, Homophobic Cyberbullies

Just as cigars sometimes can indeed be just cigars, so too can jokes. Yet this is a point which seems to be lost on several left-wing media writers who have taken great umbrage at the mockery that has been had at the expense of one Ethan Krupp, better known as “PajamaBoy.”

The crew on MSNBC’s Morning Joe proved today that not everyone on the left has missed the absurdity of the Obama administration putting forward a grown man in children’s pajamas with a cup of hot chocolate as the public face of Obamacare to young people. Still, there appear to be many Democratic partisans out there who are outraged at the jokes and what they supposedly say about those making them.

Phil Robertson of ‘Duck Dynasty’ Suspended Almost Instantly After Anti-Gay Remarks Published

It took less than a day for A&E to indefinitely suspend Phil Robertson, star of its reality television show “Duck Dynasty,” for making anti-gay remarks in an interview with the men’s magazine GQ.

The suspension appears to be the culmination of long-running tensions between Robertson and A&E over his self-described “Bible-thumper” religious views.

Louis Farrakhan Defends Kanye West’s Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Talk: ‘He Told the Truth’

Infamous racist Louis Farrakhan has come to the defense of Kanye West after the dim-witted rapper made a remark that was widely construed as embracing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

West should feel no need to apologize Farrakhan said in a video statement. “Kanye West, don’t bow to the pressure to bow to apologize to anybody. You said nothing wrong.”

Journalists Place Near Bottom in Poll Ranking Public Respect for Professions

Continuing a decades-long trend, members of the media placed near the bottom in a poll which asked respondents their opinions of various professions.

In the Gallup survey, TV reporters were barely more popular than advertising salespeople, state-level politicians, car salesmen, members of Congress, and lobbyists with just 20 percent of respondents saying they had a favorable opinion. They were tied with lawyers.

Mike Huckabee to Launch Online 'Huckabee Post'

Former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee will soon be joining the world of online news publishing with a new venture called the Huckabee Post.

The move comes shortly after the former Republican presidential candidate announced he was ending his nationally syndicated radio show. The announcement was confirmed by Huckabee's son yesterday. Mediaite was the first to report the story, however.

Postscript: 'White Santa Claus' Critic Thought Penguins Were Mammals

As the absurd spectacle surrounding Fox News Channel Megyn Kelly’s recent joke about the race of Santa Claus is dying down, there’s one remainder of the story that is worth noting: It would appear that Aisha Harris, the Slate writer who started the whole brouhaha, appears not to know that a penguin, the animal which she semi-seriously argued should replace Santa, is a bird and not a mammal.

As noted by media blogger Jim Romenesko, the original Harris piece bears this amusing postscript: “Correction, Dec. 10, 2013: This article originally misidentified penguins as mammals. They are birds.”

Megyn Kelly Responds to Santa Claus Critics: Get a Sense of Humor

Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly took on the left-wing hate mob that has come after her following a humorous segment that she featured on her program Wednesday evening in which she and her guests staged a mock debate over the racial identity of Santa Claus.

To the haters, Kelly had a message tonight: Lighten up and learn to realize what satire is. “Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show but sometimes that is lost on the humorless,” she said.

Ed Schultz Lashes Out at Liberals for ‘Income Envy’

Radio and TV blowhard Ed Schultz decided to take a break from his normal act of ranting against Republicans today by raging against some fellow liberals who had the temerity to criticize him and other MSNBC hosts for declining to publicly take the side of union members in a dispute they're having with the cable channel's parent company, NBC Universal.

Schultz, whose shtick is that he is just a working stiff looking out for people like him, lashed out at a report from Salon.com which mentioned him: “I become the target because I’m living good. I become the target because I have a platform,” he said on his radio show Friday. “They’re just out to take somebody down who’s got something they don’t have.”

The Newest Left-wing Lie: Megyn Kelly Is a Racist Who Believes In Santa

Liberals often love to say that conservatives cannot take a joke but the truth is that both left and right sometimes are lacking in the humor department. That’s especially true of the cottage industry that’s sprung up devoted to finding any tiny little thing to bash Fox News, one of the handful of national media outlets that don’t lean left.

The very existence of Fox News appears to be psychologically damaging to some people, which is why the left-leaning websites that cater to them love jumping on any possible thing as a way of providing emotional validation. The Fox haters are up in arms today about a cheeky discussion that took place on last night’s “Kelly File” program in which a mock debate was held about the moral propriety of portraying Santa Claus as a white man, a proposition raised by an essay pubished Dec.10 at Slate.

Celebrities Resume Campaign to Promote Obamacare to Young

Now that some of the problems with the Obamacare website have been fixed, the administration is resuming prior efforts to recruit younger, healthier Americans to purchase insurance in the federal and state exchanges. This is a critical part to the president's health insurance law because based on the few statistics that have been provided, the majority of the people who have successfully selected (but not necessarily purchased) a health insurance plan appear to be elderly and therefore less healthy. The trouble for this strategy is that younger Americans are not signing up for Obamacare to the degree that the president and his allies had hoped. And with good reason: the people most negatively impacted by the new healthcare law are the young since they will be forced to pay higher premiums to subsidize additional services to the elderly.

To combat this, Obamacare supporters have resumed a prior strategy to enlist left-leaning celebrities to encourage their fans to sign up for insurance. As Bloomberg reports, a number of entertainers have enlisted (who knows if they've been paid) to help brainwash gullible fans to act against their own interests:

MSNBC’s Touré Calls Black CNN Anchor Don Lemon ‘White Leader’

Touré Neblett, the hyper-partisan 9/11 truther who is co-host of MSNBC’s afternoon show “The Cycle,” has said a number of idiotic things over the years.

Usually, he says such things in the context of an attack on a conservative or Republican--like last month when he confidently asserted that U.S. Senate seats can be gerrymandered. On Sunday, however, he decided to change things up a bit and make a stupid comment against a non-Republican by calling CNN anchor Don Lemon a “white leader.”

ABC’s Supposed Conservative Matthew Dowd: Income Inequality Means ‘We Have Our Own Version of Apartheid Here’

With the departure of commentator George Will to Fox News, the job of representing the conservative point of view on ABC’s This Week seems to have settled upon Matthew Dowd. Trouble is, Dowd is not really what anyone could fairly characterize as a conservative.

Beyond the fact that he was a Democratic strategist for decades before switching to work for former President George W. Bush in the late 1990s, Dowd’s own political views seem to be rather conventionally liberal. If there was any doubt of that proposition, Dowd dispelled it in a column published last week at the ABC News website focusing on the Obama White House’s latest pet issue: the supposed crisis of income inequality in the United States.

New Jersey Waitress Alleging Anti-Gay Hate Ought to Be Cautionary Tale to Media

A New Jersey waitress who became a minor internet celebrity after she alleged that a customer refused to give her a tip because she is a lesbian appears to have resigned or been fired after evidence was presented that she fabricated the entire incident.

The restaurant, Gallop Asian Bistro, posted a note to its Facebook page Saturday evening saying that it had conducted an investigation into the matter and that upon its conclusion, in a “joint decision,” the waitress, Dayna Morales, “will no longer continue her employment at our restaurant.”

NewsBusters Interview: David Folkenflik on the Meaning of Rupert Murdoch

As much as people on the left in this country and others rage against Rupert Murdoch and his many creations it is rather remarkable how most American conservatives, even professional political junkies, know or care very little about the man.

Beyond missing out on understanding how Murdoch’s life is a textbook case of the power and influence of media on policy, people on the right who aren’t very familiar with Murdoch are also missing out on a number of interesting stories.

Ed Schultz Speaks for God: Obamacare Is Divinely Approved

Most people don’t know this, but beyond being a professional gasbag, MSNBC host Ed Schultz is also a prophet in direct communication with God. He let the world know this on his program last night when he pronounced that President Obama’s very unpopular health care law is something that all Christians should support because, in actual truth, God approves of Obamacare.

“I’ll tell you what I think God thinks of the Affordable Care Act: it’s a big amen,” Shultz pronounced before heading into a commercial break. Unfortunately for world peace and people of all faiths seeking answers, the left-wing host didn’t continue enlightening everyone about just what else was on God’s mind.

NYT Downplays Own Reporting That Obamacare ‘Tech Surge’ Was Only About Six People

Talk about burying the lede. Deep within a 5,000-word story published today in the New York Times about the Obamacare website launch is the very damaging disclosure that the much-vaunted “tech surge” promised by the president in late October was mostly just a publicity stunt. In truth, the number of people brought in to work on the project was no more than “about a half-dozen.”

Not only that, despite the Obama Administration’s claims that it met its November 30 deadline to have things fully operational, it turns out that much of the software code that operates away from website users and passes their information along to insurance companies has not even been written.

NewsBusters Interview: Daniel Flynn on the War on Football

There’s no question that football is the most popular sport in America. For decades, NFL games have been the top-rated program on all of television even as hundreds of other networks have started up and fragmented the television audience. College football also continues to be reliably popular with many universities desperately seeking to cash in on bowl games and endorsements.

The success of football has made it a target for the bottom-feeders known as the trial lawyers, however, and in recent years, there have been several enormous lawsuits launched against the NFL and against its official helmet manufacturer, Riddell. These lawsuits, and the often shoddy science behind them have been seized upon in the media, even by some people who should know better.