Framing the Debate Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 24 NewsBusters post by Michael Rule accuses CBS of trying to "frame the debate" over the NSA wiretapping program as "'domestic spying' and warrantless wiretaps," as if it was fictional that there weren't domestic spying and warrantless wiretaps going on.
Rule also quoted ex-NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden as insisting that the eavesdropping wasn't "domestic spying" without pointing out that Hayden is trying to "frame the debate" as much as Rule accuses CBS of doing, if not more. As a government official trying to defend the program, Hayden has a highly interest in framing the debate, and Rule should acknowledge that.
Let's not give the Bush administration a pass and assume it's telling the truth just because it's Republican, OK, Mike?
Compelling vs. Factual Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 23 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard complained the no TV network "did justice to the extraordinarily compelling description of the NSA eavesdropping program" by former NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden. NBC was singled out by Sheppard for ignoring "the most compelling statement made today by Gen. Hayden: 'Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the al Qaeda operatives in the United States, and we would have identified them as such.'"
But "compelling," alas, is not the same as "factual." As Media Matters notes, Hayden never substantiates his claim that warrantless wiretapping would have prevented 9/11, and that the U.S. had information in hand that could have stopped 9/11 had bureaucratic snafus not gotten in the way.
A lot of things are compelling, but that doesn't make them factual. Doesn't Sheppard know that yet?
Yeah, It's Stunning, All Right Topic: Newsmax
A Jan. 24 NewsMax article summarizes a "stunning analysis" by Victoria Toensing in the Wall Street Journal that repeats the false claims she made -- such as Jamie Gorelick's wall (a favorite NewsMax canard) and the FISA law's alleged inapplication to modern electonic eavesdropping -- even after Media Matters debunked Toensing's claims.
Thibault responded to criticism from New York Times columnist Frank Rich by bringing up the Jayson Blair scandal: "Frank, you haven't forgotten the scandal in which Blair fabricated quotes, whole interviews and plagiarized from other news sources for articles that your paper's editors gladly published without practicing any due diligence, have you?" Thibault added that "CNSNews.com was, proudly, the first news organization to report on the existence of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004."
But as ConWebWatch has documented, CNS obscured the Swift Boat Veterans' political ties and made no effort to fact-check the group's claims against John Kerry.
Thibault also pretended that he and CNS aren't partisan operatives, responding again to Rich: "But I haven't worked at the Republican National Committee in nine years Frank. And before that job, I spent five years in the liberal newsroom of WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. I guess y'all must have missed that little point on my bio, eh?"
This ignores the fact that CNS has a long history of pro-conservative, anti-liberal activism disguised as journalism -- as does Thibault, who has lied about Paul Begala, declared that Jeff Gannon is "no conservative," and attacked supporters of John Kerry as "chumps," "simply naive" and accused them of holding an "unfortunate political mindset that cares not a whit about the cultural erosion in America." He also said: "I want George Bush to win re-election."
Naaah, Thibault's not a partisan conservative at all.
Thibault, by the way, offers no evidence that WJLA is "liberal" beyond the standard conservative presumtpion that because it's "mainstream" media, it must be liberal.
NewsMax Back to Supressing Scaife Link Topic: Newsmax
A Jan. 23 NewsMax article recounts an item by Editor & Publisher columnist Greg Mitchell about an editorial by the Richard Mellon Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review endorsing a U.S. pullout from Iraq. NewsMax insists on calling him "Richard M. Scaife" and adds that he "has been named by Time magazine as one of the most influential Americans and was recently listed in the Financial Times as one of the world’s 25 most influential billionaires."
While NewsMax repeats Mitchell's statement that Scaife is "one of the chief funders of conservative think-tanks and activist causes around the country," it failed to tell its readers one significant fact: One of the "activist causes" Scaife funds is NewsMax, as ConWebWatch first reported back in 2002 and which NewsMax first acknowledged on its website only last year, after the New York Times pointed it out.
Two Levels of Wrong Topic: WorldNetDaily
Craig R. Smith manages to work multiple levels of wrongness into this paragraph in his Jan. 23 WorldNetDaily column:
Back in the 1990's, President Bill Clinton (with sidekick Al [Gore]) used these same "illegal" searches on at least one American citizen, Aldridge Aims. Mr. Aims hadn't called al-Qaida or Hezbollah. In fact, he was an American on American soil. But he was selling secrets to our enemies. Clinton authorized the surveillance of Aims without a warrant. Thankfully he did. Aims now sits in a federal prison for the rest of his life so he can't hurt America any more.
Aside from painfully misspelling Aldrich Ames' name, Smith is wrong to claim that the Ames-related warrantless searches were "illegal." They were not illegal in 1993, when they were conducted. The FISA law that governs such searches did not cover them until 1995.
New Article: Out There, Exhibit 37: Betraying the Lost Cause Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax trashes the Confederacy in order to trash the Clintons once more. How will that go over with its conservative readers? Read more.
Stillwell Hides Background (Again) Topic: NewsBusters
Cinnamon Stillwell -- she of the Israeli extremist whitewashing -- checks in again with a Jan. 22 NewsBusters post, copiously citing a group called MEMRI as claiming that the recent Osama bin Laden audiotape was mistranslated by "the media," implying that this was done deliberately (this is a site that criticizes "the media," after all).
What Stillwell fails to report (in this instance, anyway) is that MEMRI has been criticized as a group that specializes in translating articles that portray Arabs and Muslims in a negative light.
So we're guessing by Stillwell's new post that NewsBusters has no problem with someone who apparently sympathizes with violent extremists writing for them.
Lack of Disclosure Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
A Jan. 20 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall on state funding restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas identifies Planned Parenthood as "the nation's most frequent provider of abortions." But Hall applied no descriptors to the anti-abortion groups featured in the article, the Texas Alliance for Life and STOPP International, not even describing them as "pro-life" groups.
Texas Alliance for Life's agenda is probably easy enough to figure out by name alone, but STOPP International's isn't, and it would seem to be an important one to note that is relevant to this article: STOPP has a specific agenda to attack Planned Parenthood, which perhaps colors what they have to say just a tad.
Sell, Sell, Sell Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily abandons the pretense of pretending an ad is a "news" article with a Jan. 21 article headlined "Meet WND's newest advertiser." WND goes about it in a strange way, though.
WND editor Joseph Farah is quoted as stating: "We value our advertisers. ... They make it possible for millions of readers to get their news for free – news often found nowhere else." But nowhere in the article is the advertiser (Right Wing Stuff) actually named, though it states what it sells ("the largest selection of liberal-baiting merchandise on the Net"). Meanwhile, WND has treated other advertisers as providers of actual news. WND apparently values some advertisers more than others.
Should Gay Actors Be Allowed to Portray Christians? Topic: WorldNetDaily
It's not often we see a ConWeb editor contradict an atricle elsewhere on his website, but WorldNetDaily has such an example. A Jan. 20 WND article describes an alleged furor over the fact that gay actor Chad Allen portrayed a Christian missionary in the newly released movie "End of the Spear." The article asks whether it is "appropriate ... to portray a missionary martyr using an activist who blatantly promotes anti-Christian values and could use the film to further his agenda."
But the article links to WND editor Joseph Farah's Jan. 19 review of "End of the Spear." Farah enthusiastically endorsed the film -- "It's powerful. It's moving. It's suspenseful. It's beautiful. It's horrifying. It's evidence that miracles still happen in this sometimes beautiful, sometimes horrifying world in which we live" -- but if Farah was offended that a gay man acted in the film, he didn't show it in his review.
And this is a guy whose website will use the word "gay" only in scare quotes. This is a guy who wrote in his Jan. 16 column:
Notice the subtle way the struggle by blacks is equated with agitation by "the homeless" and homosexuals. This is Marxist Indoctrination 101.
If Farah has no apparent problem with a gay man successfully portraying a Christian missionary, why should anyone else?
CNS Attacks on Murtha Continue Topic: CNSNews.com
Lest you thought CNSNews.com was done attacking John Murtha, a Jan. 20 article by Jeff Johnson tries to link him to Code Pink, a group reviled by conservatives for its anti-war protests outside Walter Reed Medical Center (CNS previously reported on those). The only actual link is that Murtha had his picture taken with Code Pink members when they visited his office.
The article's headline -- "Code Pink Praises Murtha, Picketed Military Hospital" -- vaguely implies that Murtha joined Code Pink in its Walter Reed protests. Johnson also quotes Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, as insisting that Murtha was "embracing Code Pink," but he doesn't say what qualifies her to speak out on this issue. (Hint: She's a conservative, and WorldNetDaily books her speaking engagements.) Additionally, CMR's signature issue is opposing the placement of women in combat situations, which has nothing to do with Murtha or Code Pink.
But if having your photo taken with someone equals "endorsing" that person's views, as Johnson and Donnelly appear to claim, why hasn't CNS, to our knowledge, mentioned this?
NewsBusters Misleads on Abramoff Contributions Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 20 NewsBusters post by Vinny Fiore misled readers on the accuracy of a claim made by Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell.
Fiore claimed that Howell wrote "the truth" when she stated in a Jan. 15 column that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties" and that Democrats "have gotten Abramoff campaign money." In fact, that is a broad, misleading statement that ignores the fact that money donated under Abramoff's name went only to Republicans.
While Fiore stated that Howell's "most recent response to her liberal critics ... basically us[ed] the facts," Fiore ignored those facts when he stated:
So when the Washington Post, a well-respected liberal organ writes of Democratic corruption in Congress--and with Jack Abramoff to boot--it is the equivalent of shining daylight on the vampiric left, who cannot brings themselves to admit that they, too, are as guilty as any Republican in what will turn into the next "something-gate" in Washington.
Fiore's claim that Democrats "are as guilty as any Republican" in the Abramoff scandal is contradicted by the facts as noted by Howell:
While Abramoff, a Republican, gave personal contributions only to Republicans, he directed his Indian tribal clients to make millions of dollars in campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.
Records from the Federal Elections Commission and the Center for Public Integrity show that Abramoff’s Indian clients contributed between 1999 and 2004 to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats.
Yes, despite the fact that twice as many Republicans as Democrats received money from "Abramoff's Indian clients," coupled with the fact that Abramoff "gave personal contributions only to Republicans," Fiore still believes that Democrats "are as guilty as any Republican." Go figure.
And we thought the MRC cared about accuracy in its media criticism.
UPDATE: Full disclosure: My employer, Media Matters, has been critical of Howell on this issue.