KINSOLVING: Scott, Jack Kelly of The Pittsburgh Post Gazette notes that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act defines a covert agent as someone working undercover overseas. He notes Valerie Plame has manned a desk at the CIA headquarters since 1997, while Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun Times notes that Valerie's husband conceded on CNN that she is not a clandestine officer and hasn't been one for six years, so leaking her CIA connection did not endanger her life or comprise her mission. And my question – I have a follow up – would you or the president or Karl Rove disagree with these two nationally syndicated columnists?
... and tries to get an answer to a question he originally asked back in May about whether President Bush supports contraception:
KINSOLVING: I have one follow up. Nineteen members of Congress from seven states have written a letter to the president saying that they are still waiting for an answer to a May 26th question: Is the president opposed to contraception? And my question is, could they now have an answer to my question? Or do you regard them, too, as not to be dignified with a response?
Scott McClellan still didn't answer it; that's actually a gain for Kinsolving from May, when McClellan said he wouldn't dignify the question with a response.
Book-Bashing, Then and Now Topic: Newsmax
In yet another attempt to give Ed Klein's discredited "The Truth About Hillary" a boost, NewsMax's John LeBoutillier has written a July 18 column called "How Hillary Clinton Controls the Media." In it, he describes "the latest salvo from the Hillary War Machine: a new spin that the book - which has now been in the top ten on the New York Times best-seller list for three straight weeks - is actually "'not doing well.'" He claimed that reporters are using words like "drop-off," "sinking" and "fallen" to describe the book and concluded: "Clearly Team Hillary distributed a new set of Talking Points to their media lap dogs in the MSM."
Or, "Team Hillary" (snicker) could have merely picked up pointers from NewsMax's treatment of Hillary Clinton's autobiography. Here are some headlines from mid-2003 NewsMax articles, when Hillary's "Living History" was released:
That last article was eager to chortle that "Hillary Clinton's recently published, wildly hyped 'memoirs' failed to make the top 25 in non-fiction" at Amazon.com. Currently, Klein's book isn't, either.
No Apology (Yet) Topic: CNSNews.com
It's a new day, and CNSNews.com has neither defended nor apologized for its July 15 story falsely claiming that Paul Begala said that Republicans want "to kill him and his children to preserve tax cuts for the rich." It has, however, added a video of Begala's statement so that all can see how absurd the claim is.
Meanwhile, a July 18 CNS article by Susan Jones on conservatives who oppose laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation follows the doctrine of conservative correctness in its lead:
A conservative group is organizing opposition to a bill that would give special treatment to a group of people based solely on their behavior.
Mild About Harry Topic: WorldNetDaily
As late as 2003, WorldNetDaily greeted the release of a new Harry Potter book or movie with warnings that Harry was leading children into the occult.
A June 2003 commentary by Caryl Matrisciana, producer of a documentary attacking the Potter phenomenon that the WND store used to sell, calls Harry "the young Wiccan" and claims the the books promote "an anti-Christian morality that encourages children to lie, cheat and steal in Harry fashion." A 2001 interview of Matrisciana notes that she thinks the books "cleverly mask the true nature of their contents by repackaging evil in a fascinating, alluring child's world." Another WND article noted that the Christian Film & Television Commission rated the second Harry Potter movie "completely unacceptable for any audience" because of its "strong occult worldview and moral relativism." (The only other movie that year to the "completely unacceptable" rating: "Austin Powers in Goldmember."
The release of the latest Harry Potter book, however, is drawing no response whatsoever from WND -- no original articles, not even an outside link to someone else's story. Maybe WND thinks that since denouncing Harry didn't work, ignoring him might.
The Smear Spreads Topic: Newsmax
In a July 18 NewsMax column, Geoff Metcalf writes: "Partisan disagreements on policy or legislation are anticipated and even healthy. However for an alleged grown-up to tell the young faithful that Republicans want to kill him and his children to maintain tax cuts for the rich is way over the line."
One Smear Is Not Enough Topic: CNSNews.com
We've already noted how a July 15 CNSNews.com article smears the Kennedys. Turns out it falsely smears Paul Begala too.
The lead of the article, written by Jered Ede, claims that Begala said at a gathering of progressive students that Republicans "want to kill me and my children" to preserve tax cuts for the rich. As quoted by Ede:
"They want to kill me and my children if they can. But if they just kill me and not my children, they want my children to be comforted -- that while they didn't protect me because they cut my taxes, my children won't have to pay any money on the money they inherit," Begala said. "That is bulls*** national defense, and we should say that."
But as the Princeton Progressive Review points out, the audio of the speech shows that it's clear that Begala never said that. He uses a string of "theys" that start out referring to the terrorists and end up referring to Republicans, not uncommon in spoken English. Ede and his CNS editors were either unable or unwilling to sort out which was which, then decided to go with the most inflammatory interpretation.
Will CNS run a correction? Let's watch Monday and see.
Michael Savage, Snooty Liberal Know-It-All? Topic: WorldNetDaily
A link headlined "Encyclopedia of snooty, destructive leftists" takes readers from WorldNetDaily's commentary page to the WND Book Service page for Bernard Goldberg's new book, "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37)." A blurb there describes the book as "a rogue's gallery of 100 snooty liberal know-it-alls who are running this country into the ground."
While liberals and celebrities unsurprisingly dominate Goldberg's list, he also throws in a couple of WND's favorite conservatives -- Former judge Roy Moore and radio ranter Michael Savage. Are they now "snooty, destructive leftists" too? (Though Savage makes the list mainly for the offense of making conservatives look bad.)
Poe, Part 7 Topic: WorldNetDaily
Today's Clinton-bashing WorldNetDaily article by Richard Poe (which returns to WND's front page) is dedicated to bashing Kenneth Starr as a crappy prosecutor because he didn't frog-march the Clintons to the pokey and because he didn't declare that Vince Foster had been murdered (despite Poe's own admission that "no one can prove that Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster met his death through foul play. It is quite possible that he committed suicide").
It also attacks the Snopes debunking of the" Clinton body count" (which we previously linked to) because it doesn't include a guy named Miquel Rodriguez, a former associate independent counsel under Starr who quit because, he claimed, Starr was covering up evidence that Foster was murdered (again, despite Poe's admission that "no one can prove that Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster met his death through foul play. It is quite possible that he committed suicide").
Poe again plays the Scaife non-disclosure game; he noted that Starr attemped to quit as independent counsel to accept a deanship at Pepperdine University, but failed to note that Richard Mellon Scaife -- a major donor to Poe's employer, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture -- donated more than $1 million to the Pepperdine school Starr was to become dean of.
Digging Up a Kennedy to Bash Topic: CNSNews.com
When in doubt, bash a Kennedy -- that seems to be CNSNews' motto.
In a effort to counter a claim by author Thomas Frank at a liberal gathering that "Republicans didn't see Hitler as a threat to America until Pearl Harbor," correspondent Jered Ede, in a July 15 CNS article, drags Kennedy patriarch Joseph Kennedy into the fray:
Frank did not mention one of the most vocal opponents of U.S. intervention in World War II: Democrat Joseph P. Kennedy, who was one of Roosevelt's top fundraisers, the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain and father of John F. Kennedy, who would later become America's 35th president.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., the eldest of the ambassador's sons, wrote his father with his own observations of the global conflict. Hitler's "dislike of the Jews ... was well-founded," the younger Kennedy explained in his letter.
"In every revolution, you have to expect some bloodshed. Hitler is building a spirit in his men that could be envied in this country," wrote Kennedy, Jr., expressing an opinion his father shared.
"I was very pleased and gratified at your observations of the German situation, and I think your conclusions are very sound," the elder Kennedy replied to his son.
Perhaps someone should remind Ede that the grandfather of our current president raised money for the Nazis and were convicted of trading with the enemy (you know, the Nazis) in 1942.
Then again, CNS can't leave the Kennedys alone; last year, it was celebrating the 35th anniversary of Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick incident.
Cleaning Up After Tancredo Topic: WorldNetDaily
More evidence that WorldNetDaily is totally in the tank for anti-immigration congressman Tom Tancredo -- it's softening his out-there remarks.
A July 15 WND article by Art Moore takes pains to explain that Tancredo really doesn't want to nuke Mecca in response to the nuclear attack by al-Qaida that WND has been insisting will happen any day now.
Poe, Part 6 Topic: WorldNetDaily Today's WorldNetDaily article by Richard Poe is chock full o' non-disclosure. Poe's main task here is to fluff NewsMax leader Christopher Ruddy and his 1990s reporting on the death of Vincent Foster. Poe describes Richard Mellon Scaife only as the publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which hired Ruddy as a reporter focusing mainly on the Foster death. Poe fails to inform his readers about Scaife's copious funding of conservative causes -- including Poe's employer, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture (the disclaimer remains at the end).
Poe also claims that "Ruddy exercised remarkable restraint in his reporting on Foster's death" in his 1997 book "The Strange Death of Vincent Foster," but fails to point out that even fellow conservative Ann Coulter (who whose defense Poe rushed after a newspaper dumped her column) dismissed Ruddy's book as a "conservative hoax book." Poe also fails to note that Scaife cut off funding to longtime beneficiary The American Spectator after it ran a negative review of Ruddy's book.
(And since Poe goes after Media Matters in his article, I will do what Poe won't and disclose that I am a Media Matters employee, but Media Matters does not fund or have any editorial control over ConWebWatch.)
Also interesting to note: This is the first of Poe's series of commentaries that did not appear on the WND front page, only on the commentary page.
Another WND Ad Disguised As News Topic: WorldNetDaily
For reasons undisclosed to its readers, WorldNetDaily has run yet another ad-disguised-as-a-news-story about evangelist Greg Laurie. WND's July 13 article all but anoints Laurie as the heir to Billy Graham and promotes an upcoming Laurie event.
The article calls Laurie an "exclusive WND columnist," though his archive shows only three columns in 2005. WND also sells Laurie's books.
How much is Laurie paying for these "news" stories without news value? And shouldn't other evangelists be clamoring to get the same deal?
Jesse Lee Peterson's Southern Strategy Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com reported on July 13 comments by conservative tool Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson that it was a "mistake" for Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman to address the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) national convention. But as the Washington Post reported, Mehlman is using his NAACP appearance to apologize for the Republicans' "Southern Strategy" of using race as a wedge issue to appeal to white voters.
Does this mean that Peterson supports the GOP Southern Strategy?
Toensing Non-Disclosure (Again) Topic: WorldNetDaily
A July 14 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore repeats the claims of attorney Victoria Toensing that Karl Rove didn't violate a statute forbidding the exposure of covert agents when he helped out covert CIA operative Valerie Plame to a reporter. Moore fails to point out, as NewsMax did previously, that Toensing is hardly neutral on this issue; she's a close friend of Robert Novak, who wrote a column outing Plame.