A Question for the MRC Topic: Media Research Center
If Chris Matthews really is the unrepentant, biased liberal the MRC loves to portray him as, why was Matthews the first major media person with whom Tom DeLay broke the news that he was resigning from Congress?
CNS Buries, Spins DeLay's Corruption Links Topic: CNSNews.com
Two April 4 CNSNews.com articles by Susan Jones about the resignation of Tom DeLay from Congress were less than eager to note DeLay's links to congressional corruption scandals -- and then, when it was broached, to repeat DeLay's spin on it.
The first Jones article appeared to take offense that "a report posted on the Washington Post website Tuesday described DeLay as 'succumbing to scandal.'" Jones then told the tale of DeLay's indictment with a barely disguised attack on the legal process:
A Texas grand jury -- one of several called to hear the evidence against him -- finally indicted DeLay last year on conspiracy and money laundering charges stemming from campaign fund-raising technicalities. A Texas judge later threw out the conspiracy charge.
Jones then inserts a little more pro-DeLay, anti-Democrat spin: "Abramoff has not publicly accused DeLay of corruption, nor has his former aide Rudy. But the congressman's close ties to those two men has given Democrats all the political ammunition they need." As we've previously noted, CNS regularly portrays Democrats as being motivated only by the prospect of political gain.
In Jones' second article, she puts DeLay's attack on the guy he's no longer running against ahead of any mention of corruption, waiting until the ninth paragraph to bring it up. Jones also repeated without challenge that "DeLay said the Left has tried to brand him with guilt by association."
Ironically, in a separate April 4 article -- which repeats criticism by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson of Rep. Cynthia McKinney over an altercation with Capitol Police -- Jones repeats Peterson's guilt-by-association attack against McKinney:
He said McKinney could have defused the situation by apologizing for not wearing the special pin that identifies members of Congress. "Instead, she held a press conference flanked by known racists such as Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, and members of the NAACP.
"The real racists here are Cynthia McKinney and her racially divisive supporters," Peterson said.
Myers also states: "The Clintons had used the White House to court fund-raisers, putting up political supporters in the Lincoln Bedroom. The Bushes, on the other hand, have given overnight privileges only to dignitaries, family members and longtime friends." In fact, the Bush Lincoln Bedroom guest list between 2000 and 2004 included "at least nine of his biggest campaign fund-raisers," according to the Associated Press.
Myers claims that the "Hillary Clinton supporters" at Vanity Fair are "attacking" Kessler's book as a "valentine" to Mrs. Bush filled with "fluffball quotes" and "dubious factoids." Myers hasn't exactly proved VF wrong here; the fact that NewsMax is selling the book is more evidence of that. And Myers' claim that VF is a seething den of "Hillary Clinton supporters" is undercut by the fact that, as NewsMax itself reported, VF published the first excerpts from Edward Klein's dubious Hillary-bashing book that NewsMax loved so much.
Checking In With Cinnamon Topic: NewsBusters
Remember back in January, when we profiled Cinnamon Stillwell, the NewsBusters contributor who had defended right-wing Jewish extremist and convicted bombing plotter Earl Krugel? (Read about it here and here.) We thought we'd check in to see what she's up to these days.
Not much beyond the usual right-wing causes, it turns out. But interestingly, she hasn't posted anything at NewsBusters since around the time we posted the profile of her.
Oddly, though, she has linked to our posts about her on the "media" page of her personal website. But she hasn't responded to it anywhere that we know of.
Who's Cynical? Topic: NewsBusters
In an April 2 NewsBusters post bashing Newsweek for daring to examine the issue of illegal immigration from the perspective of "the plight of illegal immigrants," Mark Finkelstein wrote that it was "cynical" for Newsweek to observe that CNN anchor Lou Dobbs' ratings have gone up with his crusade on the issue.
But just three days earlier, NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield was making a similarly "cynical" observation about MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's increased ratings amid his battle with Bill O'Reilly. The headline on Sheffield's post: "Olbermann Cashes in on Feud with O'Reilly."
NewsBusters clearly has no problem peddling such alleged cynicism. So why take offense when Newsweek does it?
Flashback: When the ConWeb Loved McKinney Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb's has thrown its reporting energies into documenting Rep. Cynthia McKinney's alleged hitting of a Capitol Police officer. CNSNews.com has generatedthreearticles out of it; WorldNetDaily has printed an article and a column by Les Kinsolving on it. (NewsMax has thus far run only Associated Press articles on the incident.)
But there was a time when the ConWeb was respectful of McKinney's opinions -- of course, she was bashing Al Gore at the time. Prior to the 2000 presidential election, McKinney assailed Gore for having a low "Negro tolerance level" because "I've never known him to have more than one black person around him at any given time." As ConWebWatch previously noted, NewsMax soberly reported McKinney's statement, while CNS and WND didn't find it offensive enough to note.
Ironically, WND's Kinsolving now cites her Gore statement as evidence that she's "looney," an assessment we could find no record of Kinsolving making at the time.
Morgan Falsely Defends Kaloogian Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 31 WorldNetDaily column by Melanie Morgan tosses out several red herrings and misleading claims to defend her buddy at Move America Forward, Howard Kaloogian.
Morgan claims that in during the 2004 presidential election, "mainstream media anchors and reporters openly expressed their contempt for Bush and laid bare their adoration for the liberal Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry," but she offers no evidence of it. Then she claimed that "the media is back to smear campaigns against Republicans" -- right before she smeared Francine Busby, the Democratic candidate in the California House race for the seat of disgraced Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, as an "extremely liberal anti-war Democrat" and an "abortion militant." Kaloogian is one of 14 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the seat; Morgan says only that Kaloogian is "on the other side" of Busby and fails to mention the other 13 candidates.
Morgan then delves into the meat of her column -- portraying the mini-controversy over a picture on Kaloogian's website labeled as having been taken in Baghdad, when in fact it was taken in Istanbul, as "an innocent mistake" turned into an "international firestorm" by a "liberal news media ... determined to destroy him."
Less-Than-Wholeness, Part 5 Topic: WorldNetDaily
Diana Lynne's bias never stops.
In her March 31 WorldNetDaily article on the case, Lynne's failure to present the Terri Schiavo case fairly continues. She resumes her quest to paint Michael Schiavo as a vicious monster who "seeks to settle some scores" in his new book, "incessantly taking swipes at the Schindlers' faith and ridiculing pro-life advocates"; by contrast, the Schindler family is portrayed as using its book to "introduce us to the fun-loving and compassionate Terri Schiavo, comparatively few people had the pleasure of knowing prior to her injury than after." Lynne writes that the Schindlers offer "more details they consider incriminating evidence against Michael Schiavo," but she doesn't give Michael Schiavo a chance to respond to them.
Lynne also writes that Michael Schiavo "echoes the conspiracy theory espoused by one of his attorneys, Jon Eisenberg, in his book, "Using Terri," disingenuously adding: "A WND analysis published earlier this week exposed the hypocrisy of the book's central theme and the lack of documentation supporting it." No, it didn't; Lynne never disproved Eisenberg's claim that the religious right used the Schiavo case for its own ends. (Lynne might also have noted that she herself wrote that flawed "analysis.")
This article is accompanied by another unbylined article (but more than likely written by Lynne, who is currently WND's point person on the Schiavo case and related issues) about the Schindler family's foundations "devoted to activism on behalf of the disabled." In it is the line: "Bobby Schindler said people should read Diana Lynne's book." In other words, it's official confirmation that Lynne has taken sides and can't be trusted to tell this story fairly.
That tells you all you need to know about Lynne's lack of perspective and her refusal to offfer a fair and complete portrayal of the Schiavo case.
Today's Less-Than-Wholeness Topic: WorldNetDaily
In today's WorldNetDaily Schiavo article du jour, Diana Lynne tears herself away from explicitly smearing Michael Schiavo long enough to detail a case in Zimbabwe, which she describes has having "eerie parallels" to the Terri Schiavo case.
The main parallel we're seeing, though, is Lynne's one-sided treatment of the story. Lynne describes the victim, a 42-year-old man who was struck by lightning eight years ago and who died in December 2005, as "a perfect double for actor Kiefer Sutherland." As in her Schiavo coverage, Lynne focuses on only one side of the story, that of the man's mother; nobody on the other side -- the man's wife or his doctors -- was interviewed for the article, and the mother's demonization of them is accepted unquestioningly by Lynne.
A quick Googling turned up no objective account of this story elsewhere (here's a non-objective one), making it next to impossible to fact-check. Perhaps that was the point of digging up a story from Zimbabwe.
Smearing Al Gore Never Gets Old Topic: NewsBusters
A March 30 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham complaining that "No one requires Hillary to apologize when she clumsily hops over the line of rhetorical civility," Graham made the following claim: "We saw in the 2000 election cycle that one way national reporters protected Democratic presidential contender Al Gore was to ignore wild or embarrassing things he said in public." As evidence, Graham linked to a March 1999 MRC item complaining that "Al Gore's gotten a free pass on gaffes."
First, March 1999 is not quite the "2000 election cycle." Second, Graham ignores that by the time we actually reached the 2000 election cycle, some of the items of the MRC's list were routinely bandied about in the media. Third, some of Gore's alleged "gaffes" weren't gaffes at all -- something we don't recall the MRC ever reporting to its readers.
One of the alleged gaffes is Gore's statement that "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."We can go back to the very first ConWebWatch article in April 2000 for proof that it's actually true, confirmed by the "father of the Internet" himself, Vinton Cerf.
Also on the list "Gore told Time's Karen Tumulty he and Tipper were the inspiration for Erich Segal's novel Love Story." Also essentially true -- author Erich Segal confirmed that Gore was a model for the lead character -- but the MRC's depiction of the claim is false. Gore wasn't bragging about it; according to the New York Times, Gore said he had heard that author Erich Segal had said that and that was "all I know."
Additionally, the MRC claimed that Gore said "he was a farm boy who plowed steep hillsides with mules." As Bob Somerby points out, that's true, too, confirmed by arguably hostile Regnery-published Gore biographer Bob Zelnick.
If one is going to make accusations of bias, it helps to have facts on hand. In this case, Graham and the MRC don't.
NewsBusters' Scarf Obsession Topic: NewsBusters
Poor Mark Finkelstein. He really does seem to think that anyone wearing a black-and-white scarf is expressing solidarity with the Palestinians.
He did it last December, when Matt Lauer wore one. And he does it again in a March 30 NewsBusters post, in which a college student being interviewed on TV was shown wearing one. The post is categorized as "humor," but Finkelstein seems deadly serious about the alleged threat: In the post's comments thread, he noted: "I don't think there's any doubt this is a Palestinian scarf. What wraps it up for me is the fringe, which is very typical of the keffiyeh."
In looking for a conspiracy, Finkelstein seems to ignore the idea that black-and-white is a popular color combination and, more often than not, a scarf is just a scarf.
Love the Felon, Part 2 Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 29 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore checks in again on his favorite felon, Peter Paul. Moore depicts just how desperate Paul is for attention -- apparently, he is "producing three different documentaries, including a theatrical release planned for the third quarter of 2007 that aims to have the kind of election-season buzz generated by Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11.'"
Moore gives Paul the attention he craves -- after all, Paul's mission coincides with that of WND's, to smear the Clintons -- and in exchange for Paul's dose of Clinton-bashing, Moore obliges by once again (as he did in a article last August) whitewashing Paul's criminal record. Moore repeats Paul's lame claim that his late-70s conviction for cocaine possession and an attempt to bilk Cuban dictator Fidel Castro of $8 million was "politics."
Moore also whitewashes Paul's current felony, and gets a date wrong to boot. Moore writes, " In 2001 he pleaded guilty to one count of violating Securities and Exchange Commission regulations on the trading of his stock." In fact, Paul's plea was in March 2005; 2001 was when Paul fled the country to avoid prosecution, fighting extradition to the U.S. for two years. And Moore's description of Paul's current felony makes it sound much more benign than it is. From the U.S. attorney who prosecuted Paul:
PAUL admitted orchestrating a scheme in which he and others manipulated Stan Lee Media stock, trading it through numerous nominee accounts that hid from the investing public PAUL's ownership and control of large volumes of stock that were being traded. PAUL also admitted that to further the scheme, he sought to inflate and stabilize the price of the stock by instructing market makers in Stan Lee Media stock to execute trades that created a false appearance of constant demand and that concealed from the investing public the fact that PAUL had arranged for large blocks of stock to be sold at substantial discounts in after-hours trading. Finally, PAUL admitted that he had secretly borrowed millions of dollars on margin using as collateral the stock that he had traded through the nominee accounts; in this way PAUL concealed from the investing public that he was effectively liquidating a substantial part of his stock holdings in Stan Lee Media.
Paul faces up to 10 years' imprisonment, a maximum fine of $5 million, or two times the greater of the gross gain or gross loss resulting from his crime, believed to be in the neighborhood of $25 million.
You can see why Moore wants to make Paul and his felony sound benign. Anyone else with Paul's criminal record would have no credibility, even in WND's eyes -- but since Paul is dishing on the Clintons, WND is all too willing to suspend reality and treat him as a credible witness.
Compare and Contrast Topic: NewsBusters
"There was more good news about the economy today. The Conference Board announced that consumer confidence is now at its highest level since May 2002. Yet, on Tuesday’s 'Hardball,' host Chris Matthews just couldn’t admit on television – with people watching – that the economy is actually doing well. Instead, he stuttered, stammered, and referred to the current economic condition as 'not terrible.'" -- Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, March 29
"Matthews made his comments in response to guest Ron Christie -- a former special assistant to President Bush and former policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney -- who asked: "When do you ever hear people in the media come out and say the economy is strong in this country?" Christie later continued: '[W]hy doesn't the media, why don't we sit and have a conversation on Hardball and say, "Let's talk about some of the good things [about the economy]"?' As an example of the 'good news" reported on MSNBC and Hardball, Matthews stated: "Every single night on this network, we produce on the half-hour, the latest stock averages. We show Nasdaq's doing well and Dow's [Industrial Average] doing well and the economy's doing well. We don't produce bad news on this show.'" -- Media Matters, March 22
Update Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've updated our examination of WorldNetDaily's biased coverage of the Israeli elections to add Aaron Klein's reports from yesterday. Today, Klein pens another article; again, he downplays Kadima's win as "a slim majority," despite the fact that Kadima won approximately eight more Knesset seats (out of 120) than the second-place party.
As he did yesterday, Klein repeats the claim "Israeli government coalitions ruled by a leading party with less than 40 seats – which is now the case with Kadima – tend to be unstable and short-lived" but doesn't include the context that no Israeli party has ever won a majority and ruling coalitions have always been formed.
And again, Klein puts his right-wing bias on display by regurgitating yet again the purportedly alarming prospect that Kadima will withdraw Israel from part of the West Bank, overlooking the fact that a decided minority of Israeli voters did not support the parties that oppose such a withdrawal. As Haaretz wrote: Center-Left 62-66 seats, Right 48-51.
As we noted in our update, Klein and WND are reporting what they want to see, not what is actually happening.