Speaking of Being Independent From Reality ... Topic: NewsBusters
In using an Aug. 7 NewsBusters post to bash the Associated Press for reporting that the 50 percent of Americans who still believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction had become "independent of reality," Noel Sheppard demonstrates why that's the case. He complained that "AP didn’t offer the possibility that many of these believers feel Saddam moved his weapons to Syria or elsewhere before the invasion began" (then again, neither has the Bush administration in any significant manner).
While Sheppard copies segments of the AP article -- only the parts that support his argument, of course -- a couple segments are notable by their absence:
The reality in this case is that after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq.
The Pentagon and outside experts stressed that these abandoned shells [delared to be WMDs by congressmen Rick Santorum and Peter Hoekstra], many found in ones and twos, were 15 years old or more, their chemical contents were degraded, and they were unusable as artillery ordnance. Since the 1990s, such "orphan" munitions, from among 160,000 made by Iraq and destroyed, have turned up on old battlefields and elsewhere in Iraq, ex-inspectors say. In other words, this was no surprise.
Sheppard also fails to acknowledge these facts in his own writing.
First, the Qanaconspiracy. Now, NewsBusters writer Noel Sheppard repeats a couple of dubious claims about the 2000 presidential election.
In the comment thread on an Aug. 5 post about, appropriately enough, 9/11 conspiracies, Sheppard claims that "Bush would have easily won that state if it hadn't been called an hour before the Panhandle polls closed." In fact, as we've previously reported, the first TV network to call Florida for Al Gore did so 11 minutes before the polls closed in the Florida panhandle, and even WorldNetDaily had trouble finding anyone who would confess to being dissuaded from going to the polls because of that.
Sheppard also suggested that "Gore trying to disqualify some military absentee ballots" was an act of "fraud." In fact, the military ballots in question did not meet Florida state election standards by not being postmarked or dated before the day of the election or through some other failing. We thought Sheppard was a rule-of-law kind of guy.
Sheppard also claims: "Democrats still avow that Bush stole the election regardless of the facts at the time, and the number of media outlets that went to Florida in January 2001 to count for themselves only to give the state to Bush." In fact, several of the scenarios under which media outlets counted ballots gave Gore the win in Florida.
An Aug. 4 NewsMax article simultaneously trumpets the fact that a July 31 New Yorker article by Hendrik Hertzberg listed NewsMax as among "influential" websites and aments that a separate New Yorker article by Hendrik Hertzberg claims that NewsMax deliberately uses the erroneous term "Democrat Party" to describe the Democratic Party.
NewsMax's response to that charge is quite disingenuous. It doesn't specifically deny Hertzberg's claim that it "blue-pencils Associated Press dispatches to de-'ic' references to the Party of F.D.R. and J.F.K.," but it claims that "on occasion and rarely, copy editors may have used the colloquial 'Democrat.' "
In fact, not only does NewsMax use the term "Democrat Party" more than rarely -- the term appears in approximately 245 NewsMax articles, according to its search engine -- it has indeed changed "Democratic" to "Democrat" in wire articles. For instance:
An Oct. 20, 2003, AP article on NewsMax uses "The Democrat and Republican parties" and "The Democrat party's database" where the original AP article (a version of which is available via Nexis) used "Democratic."
A July 8, 2004, AP article on NewsMax states: "Elaborate plans are already in the works to protect the Republican and Democrat party conventions in New York and Boston" where the original AP article used "Democratic."
A Dec. 22, 2004, AP article on NewsMax uses "Democrat party officials" and "Democrat stronghold" where the original used "Democratic," but let stand unchanged a reference to "the state Democratic Party."
A Nov. 6, 2002, UPI article on NewsMax states "In three of these cases, Republican incumbents dispatched Democrat incumbents," "the Democrat House leadership," and "Democrat party operatives" where the original article used "Democratic." (We've previously noted NewsMax's rewriting of UPI articles to make them slanted, something the AP presumably doesn't let them get away with.)
Perhaps instead of being disingenuous, NewsMax could explain to its readers why it felt the need to make that change.
While NewsMax no longer appears to be actively changing AP articles to reflect its bias, the writers it publishes regularly use the term; a July 26 column by Phil Brennan, for example, uses the terms "Democrat candidate," "the Democrat party," "[i]n spite of Democrat claims," and "Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi."
An Aug. 4 WorldNetDaily column by Kevin McCullough starts off by making the specious claim that "Liberals love pedophiles, because they must do so to keep their own belief system intact," makes stop at the even more specious claims that "modern liberalism's true goal is the actual eradication of God, moral values, and the ideas of absolute right vs. wrong" and "For liberals to denounce pedophiles, ultimately they would have to denounce, lesbianism, homosexuality, and their particular favorite – adultery" and concludes by again stating that "Liberals love pedophiles."
Nothing like a little fact-free columnizing to get one's day going...
An Aug. 4 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield strangely casts doubt on a fact that makes conservatives look bad. Writing about a Wall Street Journal article on a video attacking Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," Sheffield notes that according to the article, "the video was uploaded [to YouTube] from a person using the computer owned by the DCI Group, a political lobbying firm that (wait for it) has connections with the nefarious ExxonMobil." He then adds: "That may or may not be the case."
Sheffield not only never proves that it's not, he bashes the reporters who wrote the article for being "suspicious ... that non-liberals may be finally starting to use films to carry political messages."
The headline on an Aug. 4 Associated Press article posted at NewsMax reads, "Judge Dismisses Kerry's 'Stolen Honor' Lawsuit." From that, you'd think that John Kerry filed a lawsuit over that biased anti-Kerry movie, right?
Wrong. Here's what the article says:
A federal judge dismissed a filmmaker's defamation suit against Sen. John Kerry, saying remarks linked to Kerry's campaign during the heat of the 2004 presidential race amount to political opinions.
Filmmaker Carlton Sherwood sued Kerry and John Podesta, an aide who ran the Massachusetts Democrat's campaign in Pennsylvania.
Sherwood accused them of blocking the release of his documentary about Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities by labeling Sherwood a "disgraced journalist" and a "Bush hack."
U.S. District Judge John P. Fullam said he found no evidence that Kerry personally made any of the statements, and furthermore, found that they were protected opinions.
That's right -- it was the guy suing Kerry whose lawsuit was thrown out.
Additionally, NewsMax failed to take the full-disclosure route by noting that it purchased airtime on numerous TV stations across the country the weekend before the 2004 presidential election to air "Stolen Honor."
NewsBusters' Greg Sheffield is still hammering away on the Qana conspiracy theory. In an Aug. 4 post, Sheffield lists the evidence he claims supports the theory. His first -- and, therefore, presumably most important -- claim:
The death count at Kana was wildly inflated and reported as fact without any ability of the media to confirm its figures.
As we've previously noted, the death toll after 9/11 was similarly inflated immediately after the event, so this proves nothing.
If that's the best Sheffield's got, we can imagine the veracity of the rest of this claims.
An Aug. 3 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard portrayed a discussion between Alan Colmes and conservative radio host Mark Levin (Sheppard parrots Sean Hannity's description of Levin as "The Great One," then riduculed Colmes for saying, "You know, when I heard 'The Great One,' I thought Jackie Gleason was coming back") as if it were a prize fight:
Colmes tried to recover with his typical left-wing blather about the Mideast conflict:
But this administration has had nothing but disengagement. That's been their policy for the last six years. Clinton was engaged. Carter were engaged. Bush 41 was engaged, with Lawrence Eagleburger. This administration, their policy has been disengagement. Isn't this partly the result of that?
Levin clearly watched videos of his opponent, and was in no way surprised by this strategy. The Great One quickly responded with a series of rights and lefts that Colmes was clearly unprepared for:
LEVIN: Excuse me. Excuse me. Why are you excusing the enemy? Why are you excusing the terrorists?
COLMES: What did I say about the enemy? I'm not talking about the enemy.
LEVIN: Excuse me! Let me finish my...
COLMES: That's not what I said.
LEVIN: Let me finish -- you're blaming George Bush for Hezbollah killing Israelis and...
COLMES: I didn't say that.
Clearly seeing that his opponent was against the ropes, The Great One moved in for the kill:
Excuse me. What do you -- we have 140,000 American troops in Iraq. I would call that engagement! We've got 20,000 American troops in Afghanistan. I would call that engagement!
Eight, nine, ten…The Great One in a first-round knockout.
Let's see -- Levin accused Colmes of saying something he never said (that he was "excusing the enemy"), then used a dishonest misdirection ploy in bringing up Iraq and Afghanistan when Colmes was talking about Israel. How, exactly, is that a "first-round knockout"?
Rather than being an honest fight referee, Sheppard in fact appears to be a pro wrestling referee, the kind who gets so distracted by whatever diversion the heel's cronies are pulling outside of the ring that he's oblivious to the illegal holds the heel is putting on his opponent inside the ring. The WWE could use a guy like Sheppard.
An Aug. 4 NewsMax article by Kenneth Timmerman (posted Aug. 3) buys into the purported Qana conspiracy, repeating claims that photos taken after the bombing were staged.
Timmerman first makes a big deal out of Human Rights Watch revising down its estimate of the death toll in Qana: "It made no apology to Israel for its earlier inflated claims." But inflated death tolls in a mass-death situation like this are not unheard of; a 2003 USA Today article points out that the death toll of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was listed as more than 6,000 at one point before ultimately arriving at the final toll of less than 3,000. Timmerman further asserts without evidence that Human Rights Watch "appears to have played along with the Hezbollah media manipulation."
Timmerman then cites instances of Associated Press and Reuters photos from Qana that a "British blogger" claimed were "staged." Timmerman makes no apparent attempt to contact AP or Reuters for their response -- or even to bother to excerpt their Aug. 1 response to the "staging" claims, in which they claim that such staging is unlilkely, if not impossible. In fact, that AP article detailing their response to the conspiracy charge appears nowhere on NewsMax, which is an AP client.
Apparently, NewsMax is having a flashback to the Clinton years, when conspiracy theories were rampant and the truth was secondary.
-- Noel Sheppard might want to direct some of his rage at the Washington Post for not sufficiently playing up a Marine's lawsuit against John Murtha in-house: Fellow MRC affiliate CNSNews.com gave the story even worse play, burying it in another Murtha article.
-- Tim Graham bashes Ned Lamont as "ultraliberal" and "far left." He then goes on to describe Lamont as being in favor of things like "racial quotas" (linking to Lamont's position paper supporting affirmative action -- apparently, Graham has never heard of the Bakke case, which outlawed quotas as a condition of affirmative action). And we missed the memo that describes "universal pre-school" as part of the evil "ultraliberal" agenda. Graham then lapses into official Bush-speak in describing Bush's domestic spying program as "terrorist surveillance."
Aaron Klein's latest WorldNetDaily attack on Ehud Olmert comes in the form of an Aug. 3 article that quotes a terrorist as claiming that Olmert's plan to continue "unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria in spite of violence in Lebanon and Gaza" amounts to a "victory" for "Palestinian resistance."
Klein and WND's Joseph Farah should ask himself if their relentlessattacksonOlmert are similarly emboldening terrorists against Israel. They should also explain to their readers why they are trying to undermine the head of Israel at a time of war.
CNS Downplays Own Swift-Boating Role Topic: CNSNews.com
An Aug. 3 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall reports that Sen. Max Cleland will attend a rally for Rep. John Murtha "condemning what they call 'Swift Boat' attacks against Murtha." But Hall minimzed his own role in issuing politically motivated attacks against Murtha.
In January, Hall co-wrote with Marc Morano a pair of stories -- which, as we reported, relied on claims made by political opponents and others who are incapacitated or dead -- attacking Murtha's war record and reviving 25-year-old corruption allegations. As we further noted, CNS editor in chief David Thibault essentially admitted that its attack on Murtha was politically motivated: "He has been placed by the Democratic Party and antiwar activists as a spokesman against the war above reproach."
In fact, Hall's attacks on Murtha are featured on the website of the group Vets for the Truth, whose president, Larry Bailey, he quotes in his article as further attacking Murtha.
But Hall mentions none of this in his article, though his Murtha attacks are linked at the end.
It looks like we can expect numerous future articles by Hall channeling Vets for the Truth's attacks on Murtha as the election season continues.
NewsBusters keeps up the drumbeat of smears against war photographers by accusing them of staging photos. The latest is Bob Owens, who in an Aug. 3 post claimed: "Most people viewing this photo, noticing the shattered toy perched precariously on shattered slabs, are even more convinced it was placed there by human hands, most logically the photographer's."
Evidence to back up this claim? Owens has none.
Makes you wonder, as we have previously, whether NewsBusters is less anti-bias and more anti-journalist.
UPDATE: Owens also blogs at Confederate Yankee, where this post was cross-posted. He's one of the main promulgators of the Qana conspiracy theory. We see that he has called John Murtha "America's most disgusting ex-Marine" -- then jumps further into conspiracy territory by suggesting that an AP report on the Haditha massacre was designed to "distract attention from the lawsuits against Murtha."
All of which suggests Owens' point of view is just a tad biased. Something NewsBusters might want to keep in mind before giving him its megaphone again.
Well, that and the fact that his little conspiracy theory keeps getting shot down.
New Article: Out There: The Hard Right Bank of the Mainstream Topic: CNSNews.com
Lurking among the more respectable columnists at CNSNews.com are hard-right conservatives making extreme statements. Read more.