Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb figures out how to go into attack mode on the Terri Schiavo autopsy report -- even bringing that "Nobel Prize nominee" doctor out of mothballs. Read more.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Sunday, June 19, 2005
The Patty Murray Treatment, Part 2
Most bizarre spin on Richard Durbin's remarks (so far): A June 20 NewsMax column by John Perry claims that the remarks reveal a "sinister stain of anti-Semitism that Durbin's outburst made manifest" by allegedly "trivializing all those monstrous horrors" of the Holocaust:
When Durbin was saying what happened to Gitmo detainees was like what happened to those 11 million Nazi victims – more than half of them Jews – he was also, by definition, saying what happened during the Holocaust was no worse than what happened at Gitmo.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The Patty Murray Treatment
Topic: The ConWeb
Is the ConWeb giving Sen. Richard Durbin the Patty Murray treatment?
Murray is the senator from Washington state who, in 2002, suggested that Osama bin Laden had support in the Islamic world because he had built schools, roads and day care centers, and wondered why the U.S. hadn't done the same thing to build goodwill. The ConWeb -- WorldNetDaily in particular -- twisted this comment (which occurred on the heels of the uproar over Sen. Trent Lott's comments about Sen. Strom Thurmond) into a claim that Murray was praising bin Laden; NewsMax started calling Murray "Osama Mama." Meanwhile, a Republican congressman who actually did whitewash the Taliban faced no criticism from the ConWeb.
It looks like the ConWeb is trying to do the same to Durbin, taking his comments likening treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the torture regimes of Nazis, Soviets and Pol Pot. Mostly, the ConWeb has ignored his specific allegations of abuse and tried to distort Durbin's comments as a condemnation of all U.S. military personnel.
A couple of examples:
-- A June 17 NewsMax article goes after Sen. Pat Leahy for defending Durbin by claiming that "I'd be very careful about taking quotes off the Wall Street Journal editorial page." NewsMax's response: "urbin's quotes, however, didn't appear in the Wall Street Journal, but were instead first covered by its sister web site, OpinionJournal.com." It's a distinction without a meaningful difference; the WSJ editorial page runs OpinionJournal.com. It also noted "Durbin's characterization of GI's as 'Nazis.'" Another June 17 article insisted that Durbin claimed that "U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay conducted themselves like 'Nazis.'"
-- A June 18 WorldNetDaily commentary by Robert Knight downplays allegations of abuse: "Mr. Durbin might have been carried away after hearing about some of the techniques used to break the terror suspects, such as playing loud rap music, making them stand naked, lowering the temperature and so on. But so far, not one prisoner at Guantanamo has perished, nor has any suffered any permanent physical harm." Knight also calls Durbin hypocritical because he "smeared good Americans" at Gitmo while opposing a law banning so-called "partial-birth" abortion."
-- A June 17 Media Research Center "Media Reality Check" claimed that Durbin "wildly" made his accusations, called them "absurd" and "crazy," and insisted that "the issue is really moot." A June 17 CyberAlert called Durbin's remarks "outlandish" and complained that the networks didn't give them enough attention.
Friday, June 17, 2005
You Read It Here First
In 2002, ConWebWatch was the first to report that Richard Mellon Scaife was an investor in NewsMax. Today's New York Times noted that fact in an article about NewsMax's role in promoting the discredited book "The Truth About Hillary."
(We don't get a chance to toot our own horn very often, so forgive us.)
NewsMax served up its own version of the Times article, marking the first time that it has been disclosed on its web site that Scaife (NewsMax founder Christopher Ruddy's former boss) is a NewsMax investor.
NewsMax also tried to spin the article to paint the Times as liberally biased, as it's wont to do. But why won't NewsMax tell its readers about the many factual errors already uncovered in it?
World O'Crap notes a correction columnist Michelle Malkin will be making: It turns out that, contrary to her June 15 column, ABC "The View" co-host Barbara Walters did not, in fact, use the words "gross and disgusting" to describe breastfeeding. Malkin blames Canadian columnist Ted Byfield for the misinformation. (Byfield's June 12 column contains the phrase; Byfield also notes in the column that he has "never seen" "The View," which would seem to be a warning light regarding the quote's veracity.)
The bad news: WorldNetDaily runs both Malkin's and Byfield's columns. The good news: WND has a chance to remove the error in Byfield's column before it appears on Saturday, lest it have to retract yet another article.
UPDATE: WND not only links to Malkin's correction, it named Walters' response to Malkin its "Letter of the Week." Does this mean WND is taking fairness and accuracy in journalism seriously for once? We'll believe it when Joseph Farah corrects his attacks on Jamie Gorelick.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
It Depends On What the Meaning of 'Fixed' Is
CNSNews.com makes an effort to discredit the Downing Street memo in a June 16 article by Randy Hall. He uses James Robbins, senior fellow in national security affairs for the American Foreign Policy Council (a conservative group, though Hall doesn't tell us that), to try to build a case that "people who think the Downing Street Minutes are part of a pro-war conspiracy 'need to ramp down their enthusiasm'":
When asked about the use of the phrase "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," Robbins noted that the document provided meeting minutes, not a precise meeting transcript.
Michael Smith, the reporter for the British Sunday Times who broke the Downing Street memo story, clarifies things for Robbins and Hall in a June 16 Washington Post online chat:
There are number of people asking about fixed and its meaning. This is a real joke. I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence. If you fix something, you make it the way you want it. The intelligence was fixed and as for the reports that said this was one British official. Pleeeaaassee! This was the head of MI6. How much authority do you want the man to have? He has just been to Washington, he has just talked to George Tenet. He said the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. That translates in clearer terms as the intelligence was being cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq. Fixed means the same here as it does there.
The results of a June 15 WorldNetDaily opt-in reader poll asking the question, "Who among the following do you think most resembles a journalist?":
Rush Limbaugh 40.83% (1414)
Bill O'Reilly 23.16% (802)
George Will 20.94% (725)
Bob Woodward 5.17% (179)
Brian Williams 4.01% (139)
Mike Wallace 2.48% (86)
Peter Jennings 1.50% (52)
Chris Matthews 0.81% (28)
Katie Couric 0.58% (20)
Larry King 0.52% (18)
Sorta explains a few things, doesn't it?
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Topic: The ConWeb
The early summary of ConWeb coverage of Terri Schiavo's autopsy report:
WorldNetDaily -- In keeping with its longstanding biases, its initial article fails to report medical examiner's conclusion that Schiavo was indeed in a persistent vegetative state or significance of finding that her brain was half the weight of a normal brain.
NewsMax -- Article claims that "Although millions of Americans watched Terri Schiavo follow people and objects with her eyes as they moved about her hospital room, the doctor who conducted the autopsy reported that she was blind." Also promoting Michael Schiavo-bashing book by Mark Fuhrman.
CNSNews.com -- Three stories: a comprehensive, balanced account, a sidebar with more details of the findings, and a sidebar with the conservative spin.
Look for a complete roundup of coverage next week on ConWebWatch.
Bozell Hearts Bloggers At Last
Topic: Media Research Center
It was just about a year ago -- in a July 2, 2004, commentary, to be exact -- that Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell was denouncing a plethora of bloggers and other web-based sources (including ConWebWatch) cited in David Brock's book "The Republican Noise Machine" as "fringe radical left-wing activists" promulgating "a fuming, ranting, bizarre compendium of half-truths and no-truths."
Times change. In his June 15 column defending Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto's hard-hitting questions during an interview with President Bush, Bozell cites "Fox-defending blogger 'Johnny Dollar'" as an authority in attacking Washington Post writer Dan Froomkin, who had attacked Cavuto as a "Bush campaign contributor" (falsely, Dollar claims; Cavuto merely donated to the Republican Party).
BTW, Bozell has never said what information from ConWebWatch fell under the "half-truths and no-truths" categories.
(Full disclosure: I work for David Brock's Media Matters, but ConWebWatch is independent of Media Matters.)
New Article: Double Secret Hypocrisy
Topic: The ConWeb
From the Out There file: The ConWeb was quite put out when Senate minority leader Harry Reid mentioned "a problem" in the FBI file of a Bush judicial nominee. No such reservations were voiced a few years back when "secret" information purportedly incriminating Bill Clinton appeared ... on the ConWeb. Read more.
A Little Less Restrained
A June 14 article makes it clear that, even though it thus far has refrained from reprinting the most lurid allegation, NewsMax will pump up Edward Klein's Hillary-bashing book.
In the article, NewsMax makes two significant changes to the June 14 USA Today article it recycles:
-- It deletes the paragraph stating that "The liberal-leaning mediamatters.org says the book contains 'factual errors, misleading claims, and gay-baiting sexual innuendo.'"
-- It adds a completely new paragraph: "In fact, Klein is far from a conservative hatchet man. He's the former editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine, and author of the best sellers 'The Kennedy Curse' and 'Farewell, Jackie.'"
Additionally, NewsMax fails to note that while Klein may not be an obvious "conservative hatchet man," his collaborator on the book, NewsMax columnist John LeBoutillier, is.
(Full disclosure: I work for Media Matters.)
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
CNS Press Release Source Acknowledged
Perhaps chastened by ConWebWatch's documentation of its reliance on press releases by conservative legal groups, a June 14 CNSNews.com article by Jared Ede helpfully provides a link to the actual Liberty Counsel press release from which he lifted quotes by LC president Mathew Staver.
NewsMax Restrains Itself
NewsMax has been unusually selective about the excerpts it promotes from the new book "The Truth About Hillary."
After an intial flurry of revelations -- and the subsequent debunking of them, showing author Edward Klein to be a shoddy, scandal-mongering researcher -- NewsMax got real quiet, going several days without a story plug, a rather tame one regarding "bred-in-the-bone leftist" Susan Thomases.
Sure, we could expect that NewsMax would not report the book's documented errors -- even though it proclaimed Kitty Kelley's book on the Bush family "prematurely imploded" after a single source recanted her participation in it. After all, it doesn't want to annoy columnist John LeBoutillier, who had a hand in Klein's book.
But NewsMax has also declined to reprint the most lurid allegation from the book to date, a claim (anonymous, of course) reported by Matt Drudge that Bill Clinton raped Hillary, resulting in the conception of daughter Chelsea Clinton.
Very surprising for a "news" organization that has shown little restraint in smearing the Clintons in the past.
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