WND Lies About Itself Topic: WorldNetDaily
Just how mendacious is WorldNetDaily? It can't even tell the truth in its own self-promotion, even though ConWebWatch caught WND in the same exact lie last year.
An Aug. 20 WND article once again claims that "In its News and Media category, Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, shows WND at No. 1 again this year as it was in 2004." But, as ConWebWatch pointed out when WND made the same claim last year (twice), that ranking is in fact in the "Politics > Conservatism > News and Media" category. Alexa's all-encompassing "News" rankings -- the one WND falsely claims to be tops in -- feature the folks you'd expect: Yahoo, CNN, BBC, etc.
WND also claims that "The Internet market research company Ranking.com also lists WND as the No. 1 website in the category of "News, Web Directories, Headline Indices," but doesn't point out that Ranking.com's rankings are, like Alexa's, based on only a small subset of users that use a browser toolbar and a link exchange system with a counting mechanism built into it and is not necessarily reflective of traffic rankings as a whole.
If WorldNetDaily can't even tell the truth about itself, why trust it to report the news fairly and accurately?
Less Than Softball Topic: Media Research Center
An Aug. 16 Media Research Center CyberAlert item (and matching NewsBusters entry) implied that MSNBC's Chris Matthews' tossed only softball questions during an interview with Cindy Sheehan. Author Brent Baker cited only a portion "from the end of the two segments with Sheehan" in which Matthews asked Sheehan if she was interested in running for Congress.
In fact, Matthews asked about other family members who opposed Sheehan's protest, about her estranged husband, asked, "If your son had been killed in Afghanistan, would you have a different feeling?" and also presented President Bush's case for U.S. involvement in Iraq and asked Sheehan, "You disagree?"
Matthews also followed up the interview with Sheehan with an interview of two women, one an Iraqi national, who disagreed with Sheehan's protest.
Did the MRC's TiVo somehow fail to record these other less-than-softball questions, or is it programmed to retain only the "liberal" stuff?
Yet Another WND Double Standard Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has made a big deal of protester Cindy Sheehan's vow not to pay her income taxes as a protest over the Iraq war. An Aug. 20 article notes, "WND contacted the IRS after Sheehan yesterday reiterated previous statements about not paying her taxes."
But we thought WND loved people who refused to pay their taxes.
WND has been a big promoter of We the People, a group operated by Bob Schulz that believes that the federal government lacks any legal jurisdiction to enforce the income tax, that there is no law that requires Americans to pay the tax, and that the tax is enforced in a manner that violates the U.S. Constitution.
A search for "Bob Schulz" in WND's archive turns up 70 articles. Among them are a 2002 article by Jon Dougherty on a "Truth-in-Taxation" forum held by We the People at which, according to Schulz, "almost 500 detailed legal assertions and supporting evidence were put forth publicly challenging the legal foundations of the tax system"; and a Feb. 1 article touting a victory for Schulz in a lawsuit he filed against the IRS.
Instead of siccing the IRS on Cindy Sheehan, why isn't WND trying to hook her up with Bob Schulz?
Sob Story Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 18 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein tells the sob story of people "forced from their homes" in Gaza through the disengagement and are "not sure where they will go" now that they have been removed from their homes. But Klein also tells why these people don't deserve much sympathy:
The Israeli government has rented thousands of hotel rooms throughout Israel to house about 800 families who defied an Israeli decree to evacuate before Tuesday evening and are instead being forcibly removed from their homes.
Pretty sweet deal for people who forced the Israeli army to come in and "forcibly remove" them.
Even as Klein quotes people saying that "There are families here who didn't get to pack much" and that "Next week, I will be lost and homeless," he mentions the "compensation and relocation packages" the Israeli government offered to residents: "The average family from Gush Katif was offered about $200,000 in compensation." In other words, they created this situation for themselves.
Even so, Klein writes, "Israel's Disengagement Authority is negotiating today with settlement leaders the possibility of re-offering monetary packages. The compensation is expected to be reduced by 30 percent."
While we don't want to get involved in a debate on the merits of the disengagement plan, presenting the Gaza holdouts as deprived people who were "forcibly removed" from their homes with only the clothes on their backs, as Klein halfheartedly does, is disingenuous since the Israeli government gave them plenty of opportunity to properly pack and (non-forcibly) leave.
We suspect that until now, Klein's writings on disengagement have not prominently featured the Israeli government's relocation and compensation plans, if they're mentioned at all.
An Aug. 18 Rasmussen poll notes that President Bush's job approval rating has fallen to "the lowest level ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports." But it's nowhere to be found on WND.
Also, following company policy, WND continues to play down the actions of Israeli extremists. Despite (or maybe because of) having Aaron Klein as its Jerusalem-based reporter, WND has offered no original coverage of the killing of four Palestinians by an Israeli in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria in WND parlance); the killer is also rooting for the asassination of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.
UPDATE: Klein gave the killing a one-paragraph mention buried in the middle of an Aug. 18 article.
Extradite Isikoff? Topic: Accuracy in Media
When he's not hanging out at Accuracy in Media, Cliff Kincaid is president of America's Survival, Inc., a nonprofit group mainly dedicated to attacking the United Nations (the web site proudly proclaims itself a "U.N.-Free Zone"). Its main symbol of defiance, apparently, is a picture of Kincaid in the U.N. medidation room.
Kincaid is currently embarking on a crusade apparently too extreme to mention at AIM: He wants Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff extradited to Afghanistan to face charges in connection with the 15 or so people killed in riots allegedly provoked by an Isikoff article claiming that U.S. military personnel had desecrated the Qurans of prisoners at Guantanamo.
"Blood is on the hands of Newsweek magazine for your unsubstantiated "Koran in the toilet" story that sparked anti-American global riots and the deaths of 17 people," Kincaid wrote to Isikoff on Aug. 10. "Newsweek did enormous damage to the cause of democracy in the Middle East." Kincaid's letter to the Afghan embassy in Washington makes a similar claim and appears to have included petitions with an unknown number of signatures supporting the effort.
A few problems here:
-- The Pentagon itself has confirmed Quran abuses by U.S. military personnel, so that part of Isikoff's article ultimately turned out to be true.
-- The riots may not have been directly connected to Isikoff's article at all; WorldNetDaily reported that the deadly riots "were planned several months ago with the magazine article serving as a convenient trigger." (Granted, this is an article by highly biased WND reporter Aaron Klein, but it indicates that there's other evidence available.)
-- As ConWebWatch has noted, Kincaid took a somewhat different attitude in his statements on the issue for AIM; while regularly denouncing Newsweek for the imbroglio, Kincaid was loath to single out Isikoff by name for criticism, presumably because of all the work Isikoff did in forwarding Clinton-era scandals.
Cliff Kincaid, editor of Accuracy in Media, a conservative non-profit organization that critiques coverage of the news for bias, advised the webloggers who accepted payment to give it back. "I think it is a safe assumption that the liberal media will use the Jarvis allegations to make the case that some bloggers are secretly in the pay of the "religious right." That will undermine their credibility and serve to damage their reputations. It is advisable for those bloggers who have accepted the money to give it back." Kincaid added, "The sponsor should disclose who accepted the payments."
A quick search of the AIM site showed no similar call by Kincaid for Jon Lauck and Jason Van Beek -- two conservative South Dakota bloggers who were paid a total of $35,000 by the campaign of Republican Senate candidate John Thune without disclosing the payments to their readers -- to return the money they were given.
More WND Whitewashing in Gaza Topic: WorldNetDaily
The whitewashing of Jewish extremists in Gaza by WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein continues. In an Aug. 17 WND article, Klein describes the settlement of Kfar Darom as "a religious community at the Jewish Gaza entrance."
But an Aug. 10 Agence France-Presse article, which described Kfar Darom as "arguably the most ideological of Gaza settlements" with "a religious agenda of its own," offered more detail on the kind of "religious community" Kfar Darom is:
Nitza Kahana came from Jerusalem with nine of her 10 children to defend Kfar Darom. Like everybody else in the settlement, she believes that any evacuation can only be temporary.
"Every time the Jews were kicked out, they came back. We're not even talking about hope here, we know that we will come back if Kfar Darom is dismantled," she says.
Her father in law was the revered Rabbi Meir Kahane who was famously assassinated in New York in 1990 and whose other son Rabbi Binyamin Kahane was killed at the beginning of the intifada.
Why won't Klein or WND tell its readers how many of the holdouts in Gaza are sympathizers to the Kach/Kahane Chai movement (created by Meir Kahane), with its history of violence and extremism?
New Article: NewsMax's Hillary Hobgoblins Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax has no intention of extending its kid-glove coverage of Jeanine Pirro to Hillary Clinton; otherwise, it would have to treat Clinton's "old news" the same way it's treating Pirro's. Read more.
Oh, No! Not Them!
A link currently on the WorldNetDaily's front page promoting a book it's selling, James Ussher's 17th-century tract "Annals of the World," describes the book this way: Real history, untampered with by 'them.'
More MRC Distortions About Air America Topic: Media Research Center
The good news about the Media Research Center's Aug. 15 press release once again attacking the New York Times for "a three-week blackout of the mounting Air America scandal": Unlike last week's press release on the subject, it correctly notes that the person at the center of the scandal is no longer Air America's chairman.
The bad news is that it contradicts itself. After making the "blackout" allegation, the press release notes that the Times did report on it after all (but dismissed it as "a small story with a misleading headline published in its regional edition").
No evidence is offered, however, that the article's headline was "misleading." For details, we have to trudge on over to the MRC's TimesWatch site. The actual offense, according to TimesWatch's Clay Waters, is that the Times didn't put "Air America" in the headline:
Not that the headline or subhead of the story actually mention "Air America," mind you. Instead it reads: "Bronx Boys Club's Finances Investigated -- Officials Look Into Loans Made to a Liberal Radio Network." The two words "Air America" presumably couldn't fit into that 15-word space.
Waters is also offended that the article "picks up the scandal from the boys club end, not emphasizing the juicy Air America angle." Perhaps that's because the central figure linking Air America to the boys club scandal left Air America more than a year ago, and Air America is making efforts to repay the money loaned to it from the club even though it's not legally obligated to.
That sounds like a good story. Why isn't the MRC emphasizing that part of it?
Self-Congratulatory Lies Topic: Newsmax
In an overly self-congratulatory Aug. 15 column, NewsMax editor Christopher Ruddy tells two lies, one big and one small.
The small one: In a little dig at WorldNetDaily and its regular pleas for cash even though it's ostensibly a for-profit company, Ruddy claims that "Already NewsMax.com is the leading online news site with a conservative perspective. And we have accomplished this in a short time, without asking for donations, while building a profitable media enterprise."
That's not quite true. In an abortive 2001 attempt to establish a TV presence via informercials, NewsMax went the public-TV route of giving trinkets in return for donations, as ConWebWatch has noted. It created something called the Off-the-Record Club, in which donors -- er, members received "a special audio tape briefing from a top expert, insider or VIP – giving you an insider's perspective you won't get from the major media" in exchange for $25 a month to "help NewsMax to buy national TV air time to expand our reach." NewsMax also sought donations to buy airtime the weekend before the November 2004 election to air the anti-John Kerry film "Stolen Honor" on TV stations across the country (NewsMax has refused to disclose how much this airtime cost, which may be in violation of election law since airing "Stolen Honor" was clearly a partisan election activity).
The big lie: Ruddy claims NewsMax has done "comprehensive coverage of the new book on Sen. Hillary Clinton by author Edward Klein, 'The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President.'"
"The Counter Clinton Library is alive and well and about to launch a major new direct mail campaign this September to 400,000 prospective donors," former Congressman John Leboutillier tells NewsMax.
The erroneous report was based on an interview with one of the group's partners, who announced he was "giving up" on the project.
But Leboutillier says other project organizers outvoted him and still plan to proceed full speed ahead.
What's interesting: It took LeBoutillier four days to get LeBoutillier's reaction (thus fulfilling our prediction that you wouldn't see much on it at NewsMax until a positive spin could be put on it); and though NewsMax publishes LeBoutillier's weekly column, the article couldn't get his name quite right (the "B" was not capitalized).
Perjury, or Not? Topic: Media Research Center
Here's one thing we noted in looking over the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters.
Vinny Fiore, in making a NewsMax-like defense of Jeanine Pirro in an Aug. 10 post, misleadingly describes what President Clinton did in his Whitewater investigation-related testimony: "It is common knowledge that what Clinton did was commit perjury before a Grand Jury." Well, no. Perjury has a specific legal definition, and to be a perjurer, one must have been convicted of perjury. Lying under oath is not, legally, the same thing as perjury. As Fiore himself later writes, Clinton was found in civil contempt of court, not perjury.
Looks like the ConWeb has its marching orders. Even as Fiore complains about New York Times "hit pieces against Pirro," look for even more hit pieces against the Clintons by people like Fiore.
Record-High Obsession Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's obsession with the fact that today's skyrocketing gas prices aren't historical records when adjusted for inflation surfaces yet again in CyberAlerts on Aug. 12 and Aug. 15.
As ConWebWatch has noted, the MRC has expressed no similar outrage over the fact that conservatives regularly describe the 1993 tax increased passed under President Clinton as the largest in history, when in fact a tax increase passed under President Reagan is the largest (adjusted for inflation, of course).