Media Research Center: Liberal Bias in Obituaries!

Just when you thought that the Media Research Center couldn’t get any lower in its constant digging to find “liberal bias” in journalism, the conservative group is now complaining that the Associated Press was biased in their brief, one-line obituaries of political leaders who passed away in 2010. Bernard McGhee’s “Notable deaths of 2010” featured succinct obituaries of people from author J.D. Salinger to Polish President Lech Kaczynski and businessman George Steinbrenner. But according to Tim Graham, the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis, McGhee reported on the deaths of US political figures using a liberal bias:

AP’s Notable Deaths of 2010 List Has Some Liberal Mini-Spins:

When the Associated Press put together a roll call of the notable deaths of 2010, some of them came with a little glitter in their brief descriptions from reporter Bernard McGhee. For example:

“Sen. Robert C. Byrd, 92. Rose from an impoverished childhood in West Virginia’s coal country to become the longest-serving senator in U.S. history. June 28.”

Or this one:

“U.S. Rep. John Murtha, 77. The tall, gruff-mannered former Marine who became the de facto voice of veterans on Capitol Hill and later an outspoken and influential critic of the Iraq War. Feb. 8. Complications from gallbladder surgery.”

Both of these men were renowned as pork-barrel champions. But guess who was tagged with pork in their sentence? The Republican:

“Ted Stevens, 86. The longest serving Republican in the U.S. Senate; funneled billions of dollars to his remote state of Alaska. Aug. 9. Plane crash.”

But in fairness to McGhee, Ted Stevens was extremely proud of his use of “pork” to fund projects throughout Alaska. The former Chair of the Appropriations Committee was simply best known in both Alaska and across the country for his ability to steer federal money to help his home state, and he made no apologies for it.

Graham also criticizes the obituaries of a Puerto Rican activist and a Soviet diplomat as too cordial, saying that they should have been portrayed more negatively. His bizarre blog post though didn’t find bias with McGhee’s description of Alexander Haig, the former Republican Secretary of State under Reagan, and White House Chief of Staff under Presidents Nixon and Ford, who McGhee referred to as a “statesmen.”

He goes on to allege that the obituary for Elizabeth Edwards contained liberal bias because they didn’t mention her husband’s affair:

The adulteries of John Edwards were papered over a bit, too:

“Elizabeth Edwards, 61. Closely advised her husband John Edwards in two bids for the presidency and advocated for health care even as her marriage publicly crumbled. Dec. 7. Cancer.”

Graham’s final bizarre claim of “liberal bias” is his offense at the description of the late actress Rue McClanahan:

PS: On a cultural note, Rue McClanahan was remembered for playing “sexually liberated Southern belle Blanche Devereaux” on “The Golden Girls.” This is nicer than her character being a “slutty senior citizen.”

The Media Research Center has really hit a new low by trying to find bias in a list of extremely brief obituaries, maintaining that any kind words about Democrats show bias and any description of a Republican must therefore be negative.