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Tuesday, May 5, 2009
WND Repeats CRC's Dubious Attack on ProPublica
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A May 3 WorldNetDaily article is a poorly done attack on the nonprofit journalism site ProPublica and its main funders, Herb and Marion Sandler. The article is, in turn, based on an even more poorly done Capital Research Center report on ProPublica.

The report, by  Cheryl K. Chumley, asserts that ProPublica "churns out little more than left-wing hit pieces about Sarah Palin," repeatedly accusing it of having a liberal bias withoutnoting ProPublica's response to the accusation. For instance,editor-in-chief Paul Steiger has stated:

Coming into this, when I talked to Herb and Marion Sandler, one of my concerns was precisely this question of independence and nonpartisanship... My history has been doing 'down the middle' reporting. And so when I talked to Herb and Marion I said 'are you comfortable with that?' They said 'absolutely'. I said 'well suppose we did an expose of some of the left leaning organizations that you have supported or that are friendly to what you've supported in the past'. They said 'no problem'. And when we set up our organizational structure, the board of directors, on which I sit and which Herb is the chairman, does not know in advance what we're going to report on.

Evidence offered by Chumley and the CRC that ProPublica's news coverate is biased are largely limited to complaining that it didn't slavishly repeat right-wing talking points about Sarah Palin, ACORN or Barack Obama. For instance, Chumley writes:

On Oct. 16, ProPublica’s website linked to an ABC News story entitled, “Experts: McCain ACORN Fears Overblown.” The lead sentence of the story began, “Charges of potential voter fraud volleyed by Republicans, including Sen. John McCain himself, are out of proportion to reality, according to election experts.”

On Oct. 29, a ProPublica reporter ignored the ACORN voter fraud reports and wrote a story instead about the background of a public affairs group that had attacked ACORN in a prepared advertisement in the New York Times.

At no point does Chumley accuse ProPublica of not telling the truth -- just of not swallowing right-wing spin in its article (i.e., that the group attacking ACORN was merely a "public affairs group"; in fact, it is run by one of the harshest critics of organized labor, Rick Berman, whose own son has denounced him). The problem for CRC, it seems, is not that ProPublica got the facts wrong but, rather, that it told a side of the story the CRC didn't want told.

Chumley also complained that ProPublica reported on "pork spending by Sarah Palin." Again, Chumley offers no evidence that any of its reporting is factually deficient, only that it was reported at all.

WND, meanwhile, apparently loved this report so much that it couldn't be bothered to do anything beyond mining it for claims to fill out its article.

Chumley then appears to contradict her attacks by noting that "ProPublica reporters should receive high praise for their stories on Obama’s stimulus package and banking bailouts, on recent business and financial scandals, and on other issues related to open records and open government." But this is buried near the end of her article, Chumley refuses to elaborate, and she immediately moves on to yet another complaint that it didn't follow right-wingers by attacking "Barack Obama's personal associations." Can't have inconvenient facts get in the way of the argument she's being paid to make, y'know.

Like its attacks on Media Matters, the CRC's attack on ProPublica is unbalanced, factually deficient and more about advancing a partisan agenda than actual "research." But as we've repeatedly noted, WND doesn't care about facts; they care about destroying their enemies, so such half-assed "research" is plenty good enough for them.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 AM EDT

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