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Sunday, May 7, 2006
(Really Old) Press Release Journalism Watch
Topic: Newsmax
A May 7 NewsMax article announcing Glenn Beck's new CNN Headline News program is a reproduction of the press release that announced the show. That press release was issued April 10, nearly a month ago.

Talk about "old news."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:48 PM EDT
Tech Stuff
Topic: The ConWeb
We've added a FeedBurner RSS feed (large orange icon at bottom of right column). Through that, you can bookmark links to ConWebBlog items on del.icio.us, for those of you who are into that.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 PM EDT
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Happy Birthday, WND!
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily marked its ninth anniversary yesterday. Let's count the misleading statements and outright lies made in the article and Joseph Farah column celebrating it, shall we?

"We basically started WorldNetDaily in semi-secret," says Chief Executive Officer and Editor Joseph Farah. "It began as something of a cottage industry – a total experiment, without grand ambitions or lofty business plans."

This conflicts with Farah's statement in his column that "Elizabeth and I had grand aspirations from the start."

"To this day, WND is the No. 1 'conservative website' in the world, according to Alexa.com," he points out. "There's just one problem with that. There's nothing 'conservative' about WND. In fact, it's quite a radical idea. It doesn't promote a political agenda. It seeks the truth. It doesn't adhere to a party line. It reports the news with uncompromising tenacity and fierce independence. In fact, it's radical about independence. Anyone who has ever read WND for more than a week can see that."

As we've documented, WND very much hews to a conservative, anti-Democrat agenda, which is actually far-right enough to be considered Christian reconstructionist.

While there is no "independent news" category, there is Alexa's "News and Media" ranking, where WND gets another No. 1 classification.

WND has repeatedly lied about this; it's the Society > Politics > Conservatism > News and Media ranking.

We believe in investigative reporting into government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse.

Not if it involves Republicans.

We believe we must be credible, relentless and fiercely independent to succeed. And we believe the truth will set all of us free.

WND retracted two articles last year because they contained false claims, apparently based on the partisan and personal beliefs of WND reporters and editors rather than the facts. WND regularly plagiarizes the work of others, and it regularly presents ads as "news" and steers news articles to the benefit of advertisers. It also regularly runs news releases from conservative groups nearly verbatim and with their claims unanswered by the targets of said press releases. And it repeatedly fails to disclose its personal and business links to the people and organizations it covers.

Farah also states: "And, with our 9th anniversary today, we kick off what I see as a 19-month celebration of our first decade on the Net. From now through December 2007, we're planning conferences, parties, galas and other festivities to mark the occasion."

Here's a challenge for WND and Farah: If you really believe that "the truth will set all of us free," how 'bout inviting ConWebWatch to some of those events? What better way to demonstrate your commitment to the truth than by openly dealing with your most knowledgeable observer? C'mon, WND, waddaya say?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, May 6, 2006 1:26 AM EDT
Friday, May 5, 2006
Some Scandals Are More Equal Than Others, Part 2
Topic: CNSNews.com
We've previously noted that neither CNSNews.com nor WorldNetDaily had yet, before today, reported on the congressional hookers-and-limos scandal, even though they both quickly jumped on the less important accident woes of Rep. Patrick Kennedy. With developments in both stories occurring today, how did they fare?

CNS made Kennedy its lead story, adding an article on his decision to go into rehab and a commentary by editor in chief David Thibault raised the Chappaquiddick bogeyman -- calling Patrick Kennedy "the Son of Chappaquiddick" and adding, "It's clear the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" -- even though Patrick Kennedy's accident did not resemble that of his father lo those 37 years ago.

On the resignation of Porter Goss -- who has been tied into the burgeoning hookers-and-limos scandal -- as CIA director, CNS had only a seven-paragraph article by Melanie Hunter, far down its front page from the Kennedy stuff, that quoted only Goss, President Bush and House speak Dennis Hastert and did not mention the scandal.

WND also led with the Kennedy story, updating its article from earlier in the day to include the rehab angle. Like CNS, WND also brings up Chappaquiddick, even though it's unrelated. Les Kinsolving also asked about Kennedy during the White House press briefing.

WND's article on Goss' resignation leads with the White House spin that it was "latest of a series of moves to reinvigorate the Bush administration" even though no reason for his resignation has been made public. But later in the article, WND does mention the hookers-and-limos question, linking to articles from Harper's and Daily Kos. But WND doesn't link to the go-to site for scandal info, TPM Muckraker. Perhaps that's becuase TPMm is actually doing what WND merely claims to do (but doesn't): "exposing corruption, fraud, waste and abuse wherever it is found – no matter who the perpetrator."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:04 PM EDT
Fetus vs. Alien
Topic: NewsBusters
A May 5 NewsBusters item by Ken Shepherd accuses the Washington Post of "clinical coldness" for using the term "fetus" rather than "unborn child" in an article. Posters in the item's thread complained that the term "fetus" is dehumanizing.

If dehumanization is such an issue, why do NewsBusters writers refer to illegal immigrants as "aliens"? That term is arguably as dehumanizing as "fetus," if not more so since, unlike "alien," "fetus" is a recognized medical term.

A search of NewsBusters shows 28 items in which the term "illegal aliens" appears. Leading by example is MRC boss Brent Bozell, who most recently used the term in columns on April 19 and May 3.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:56 PM EDT
Some Scandals Are More Equal Than Others
Topic: WorldNetDaily
May 5 articles at both WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com quickly jumped on the news of Rep. Patrick Kennedy's car accident on Capitol Hill. But neither WND nor CNS has run original articles about the latest aspect of the congressional bribery scandal that began with Duke Cunningham, now involving allegations of prostitutes procured for congressmen and links to a top CIA official.

As we've noted, both WND and CNS have a history of disinterest in Republican scandals.

NewsMax, meanwhile, has reported on Hookergate in addition to its Kennedy coverage.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:27 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, May 5, 2006 1:31 PM EDT
Illogical Link Watch
Topic: NewsBusters
From a May 5 NewsBusters post by Greg Sheffield:

Bono, the lead singer for the band U2, will get to edit the Independent, one of Britain's top newspapers. Will Hillary Clinton edit the New York Times if she decides to run for president?

Sheffield's attempted link makes no logical sense. American newspapers don't do "stunt" editorships. Bono's guest-editing job is being done in the name of charity, not a political party. And why would Hillary's potential presidential candidacy have any relevance to the issue? Couldn't Republicans have, say, John McCain guest-edit the New York Post or program an evening of Fox News?

This is a partisan cheap shot, not media criticism. Then again, partisan attacks presented as media criticism are mostly what the MRC does.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:23 AM EDT
Who's Elitist?
Topic: NewsBusters
A May 4 NewsBusters post by Greg Sheffield shows how little he knows about journalism -- and how willing he is to recycle stereotypes.

In critiquing an American Journalism Review column by Rem Rieder suggesting that the White House correspondents' dinner be ended because it makes journalists look like "a wealthy elite, completely out of touch with ordinary Americans," Sheffield pushed the idea that all journalists are elitists. He singled out Reider's claim that the elitist claim is "ridiculous" because "far too many journalists at smaller papers work for hideously low salaries."

Sheffield, by apparently scoffing at that idea, appears to believe that your typical small-town daily and the White House press corps are somehow interchangeable and similarly glitzy and pampered. Sheffield has obviously never worked in journalism. Conservative press-bashers like Sheffield love to tout the high salaries at top papers like the New York Times as being de regieur for journalism -- an April 26 item by Noel Sheppard at the Free Market Project (like NewsBusters, a division of the Media Research Center) highlighted questions about "the pay structure of the Times’ upper management" -- but they don't understand that these are exceptions to the rule. The vast majority of journalists don't make a lot of money; the starting wage for an entry-level reporting position at a small daily newspaper is only slightly above minimum wage. More journalists are having ramen for dinner than are schmoozing at black-tie soirees. (And if they do somehow find themselves at a black-tie soiree, they didn't pay for it out of their own pocket, they rented their tuxes, and they're too busy scarfing down all the free food they can get their hands on to do much quality schmoozing.) Journalism and Washington journalism are two separate things.

Ironically, this stereotyped portrayal comes just a couple days after Sheffield promoted a study that he claimed contradicted the stereotyped "media image" of bloggers.

Sheffield also takes a whack at Rieder for stating that "[t]he WMD fiasco should have been a jolt" to the "smugness" of Washington journalists; he adds, "as if that is what indicates Washington's liberal elite." Sheffield wrote: "The lesson: more attacks on the Bush administration will get rid of that nasty image of being liberal elitists." Sheffield follows another stereotype here in repeating the conservative view that any coverage that reflects negatively on the Bush administration, even if it's true -- which the "WMD fiasco" is -- is an "attack" by "elitist" liberal journalists.

This attitude shows Sheffield's own brand of elitism -- that conservatives in general and President Bush in particular are somehow above criticism, and that any criticism they do encounter can be automatically dismissed as coming from partisan liberal "elitists." We suspect that if a Democrat was president and similar things were going on -- warrantless domestic spying, secret CIA prisons -- Sheffield and the NewsBusters gang would be praising the New York Times and the Washington Post for exposing them rather than attacking the reporters who exposed them. For conservatives, partisanship trumps the truth.

And if attendance at a black-tie soiree is evidence of elitism, what are we to make of the MRC's own annual black-tie soiree? And what did Sheffield wear to it?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, May 5, 2006 1:00 AM EDT
Thursday, May 4, 2006
Double Standard on Secession
Topic: WorldNetDaily
A May 4 WorldNetDaily column by Yeh Ling-Ling (executive director of Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America, an anti-immigration group) worries that because of immigration from Mexico, the southwest part of the United States could secede.

But as recently as two years ago, WND took a much different view toward secession. A May 2004 article by Joe Kovocs touted the efforts of a group of Christian activists to move en masse to South Carolina in order to take over the government and then secede from the United States and found a "Christian republic."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:21 PM EDT
WND Sacred Cow Update
Topic: WorldNetDaily
As Katherine Harris' links to corrupt defense contractor Mitchell Wade grow increasingly documented, WorldNetDaily -- which claims to have "a commitment to exposing corruption, fraud, waste and abuse wherever it is found -- no matter who the perpetrator" -- has yet to do an original article about it.

That's no surprise: As we've documented, WND has been loath to report on Republican scandals. Plus, WND published Harris' book, and reporting the truth would negatively impact sales.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:29 PM EDT
New Article: Rushing to Spin
Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb gallops to Rush Limbaugh's defense once more by repeating his lawyer's spin and deflecting all criticism. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:56 AM EDT
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
'Accurate News'?
Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax is trying to goad readers into buying a subscription to NewsMax's magazine to their local library. In a letter to readers, editor Christopher Ruddy claims: "Story after story, NewsMax has been out front, with bold, courageous and accurate news."

There are lots of words that can be used to describe NewsMax's coverage, but "accurate" is not one of them. Remember the fake Clinton house sale? The fake U2 concert for Rick Santorum? Its dubious attacks on the media? Its in-kind contributions to Republicans? Its misleading attacks on Democrats? Ruddy's donation to a candidate he later touted in NewsMax?

We could go on all day.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:44 PM EDT
Labeling Bias Watch
Topic: CNSNews.com
A May 3 CNSNews.com article by Monisha Bansal describes the Center for American Progress as "left-wing" but offers no descriptor for the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:51 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 2:14 PM EDT
Pierre's Double Standard
Topic: NewsBusters
A May 3 NewsBusters post by Dave Pierre attacks a Glamour magazine article for claiming that one of the "new lies about women's health" is that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. Pierre wrote: "Is Glamour potentially harming female readers by hiding the truth from them?" He added that among the "medical personnel" Glamour cited to debunk the claim is "Dr. Herb Brown (.pdf file), who has been medical director at Planned Parenthood of San Antonio. Geesh. Conflict of interest, anyone?"

Despite all the links Pierre supplies, nearly all of tham are connected to a single source, the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, headed by Karen Malec. Since the coalition's presumed ultimate goal is to ban abortion, it has a specific interest in promulgating claims of a link between abortion and breast cancer and attacking those who discount it, and anything it puts out is colored by that biased viewpoint.

Another clue to the group's partisan nature: Malec has published her findings in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, whose conservative leanings we've previously documented.

As Pierre would say: Geesh.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:14 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 3, 2006 4:15 PM EDT
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
TimesWatch Doesn't Hesitate to Make Dubious Claim
Topic: Media Research Center
A May 1 TimesWatch post by Clay Waters, in once again attacking the New York Times for failing to apply the term "liberal" to Hillary Clinton, states: "After all, the paper never hesitates to call conservative senators like Rick Santorum or Sam Brownback or John Cornyn 'conservative.'" But Waters' own statistics in his recent "study" of the Times' coverage of Clinton (you know, the dubious and flawed one) show that to be false.

According to Waters in his Times-Hillary study, the "conservative" label was applied to Santorum in just seven of 95 articles; for Brownback, it was six of 82 articles. Waters does not provide statistics for Cornyn.

In other words, the Times hesitates a lot -- unlike Waters in making this dubious claim.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:25 PM EDT

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