In a Dec. 15 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard declared White House press secretary Tony Snow to have "class, integrity and decency" for apologizing to NBC's David Gregory for calling him a "partisan" because he read statements from the Iraq Study Group report. Sheppard concluded: "How refreshing. Now, try to imagine a member of the press being as gracious."
Better yet, try to imagine a NewsBusters poster being as gracious. In a Dec. 8 post on the original Snow-Gregory exchange, Matthew Sheffield called Gregory "petulant" and his ISG quotes "out of context," then bashed Gregory and other reporters for "asking captious, leading questions that no public spokesperson is ever going to answer."
Will Sheppard gently prod his NewsBusters bud to serve up a similarly "gracious" apology?
CNS Overlooks Conservativism of Israeli Pols Topic: CNSNews.com
Two Dec. 15 CNSNews.com articles ignore or inadequately explain the conservative political affiliations of the Israeli politicans they quote.
An article by Kevin Mooney quoting "senior Israeli politician" Uzi Landau does note that Landau is "a member of the opposition Likud Party," but Mooney doesn't explain that Likud is conservative or what it is in "opposition" to -- the center-left Kadima party headed by Ehud Olmert. (Nor, interestingly, does Mooney identify the political persuasion of The Century Foundation, which appears to be a liberal-leaning group; as we've noted, CNS is typically more diligent about identifying liberal groups as such.)
Julie Stahl, meanwhile, offered no political affiliation for Israeli lawmaker Yuval Steinitz in an article featuring his call to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and ship its leaders to the Gaza strip. Turns out he's in Likud, too.
NewsBusters: Proving Stephen Colbert Right Topic: NewsBusters
In a Dec. 13 NewsBusters post, Terry Trippany tells the Associated Press how to write a news story: Don't include anything that makes the Bush administration sound bad.
Trippany decided to deconstruct an AP report on military recruiting, declaring, "One can’t help but note how the AP reporter spins the good news story of recruitment success into a negative screed about American pessimism over the war in Iraq and dissatisfaction with the way President Bush is handling the effort." So she turned it into two articles, one a "biased screed," the other the real story.
But Trippany's good-news version of the story conveniently omits certain realities that would be germane, if not essential, to an article about military recruiting, namely 1) the U.S. is fighting a war; 2) that war is unpopular with the majority of Americans; and 3) most Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of the war. Too negative, you see. Makes Repubicans look bad. Can't have that.
Trippany thus proves Stephen Colbert right: reality really does have a liberal bias. And that's what our friends at the MRC are fighting to save us from.
AIM Likens French News Channel to Al-Jazeera Topic: Accuracy in Media
A Dec. 13 Accuracy in Media column by Andy Selepak felt the need to liken the new French news channel, France 24, to al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based channel AIM is seeking to censor. Selepak writes that "it appears that the new channel is designed, like Al-Jazeera, to counter American influence in the world. It also seems designed to give us a more sympathetic view of those behind international terrorism," concluding that "Like Al-Jazeera, France 24 looks like another government-funded propaganda operation of dubious value." Selepak seems to show disdain for the fact that "France 24 is available in Washington D.C. to Comcast cable subscribers"; is AIM looking to censor that, too?
Selepak also bizarrely claims that "U.S. seems to be practically disarmed" in "the current global media environment." We're not sure what the heck that means, considering the global influence of Hollywood movies and even the reach of CNN's international channel.
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has fired up his mighty Wurlitzer once again -- the same one where he keeps his terrorist buddies when he needs to cue up a Democrat-bashing quote -- and lo and behold, he found a New York politician to bash Ehud Olmert.
A Dec. 14 article features the comments of New York state assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is demanding Olmert's resignation. Nowhere does Klein state what, if any, special expertise Hikind has that makes him a credible critic of Olmert (beyond buying full-page ads in Jewish newspapers making the same argument) or anything else regarding Hikind's background and political affiliation -- seemingly essential background information given that the vast majority of WND's readers are not Jewish and not from New York.
As we reported the last time Klein cited him, a 1999 Village Voice article described Hikind as "a combative disciple of Jewish Defense League capo Meir Kahane." And we know how Klein has previously whitewashed the Kahane movement's violent history. Hikind is also, like Klein, an opponent of the Olmert-led disengagement plan of writhdrawing from Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.
Indeed, this is the 11th WND article -- all but two of which carry Klein's byline -- in which Hikind is quoted. Among them:
A March 2005 article by Klein stated that Hikind was one of a group fo Americans who "moved ... for three days" to an Israeli settlement in Gaza "protest Israel's planned withdrawal this summer from Gaza and parts of the West Bank." Hikind is the only person Klein quoted in the article. Klein wrote about a second Hikind-led visit to Gaza a few months later, as well as Hikind's unauthorized entry into post-evacuation Gaza in August 2005.
In a May 2005 article touting Gaza as, of all things, a tourist destination just a few months before the Israeli pullout from Gaza began, Klein quoted Hikind as saying, ""Of course I would recommend people vacation in Gush Katif [settlement in Gaza]. I felt completely safe while I was there."
A May 2006 article quoted Hikind bashing Olmert and claiming he is "establish[ing] a coalition to sponsor public information campaigns about what he called the dangers of an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, and to lead solidarity missions to communities Olmert seeks to evacuate."
Hikind was Klein's main source on a June 2006 smear piece claiming that the U.S. branch of Olmert's Kadima party plagiarized parts of its website from a state Democratic Party website.
So, it appears that Hikind is little more than a politician with an ax to grind (against a country where he is not an elected official) who has a kinship with a reporter who opposes the same things -- Olmert and disengagement -- as him. And Klein has a reliable quote-spouter when he feels the need to smack Olmert around.
In his December 13 WorldNetDaily column, Judge Roy Moore attacked newly elected congressman Keith Ellison because he "shocked many Americans by declaring that he would take his oath of office by placing his hand on the Quran rather than the Bible."
But as was repeatedly pointed out when Dennis Prager made the same accusation, the official swearing-in of members of Congress is not done on a Bible or a Quran -- or any religious book, for that matter -- it's done en masse. Members occasionally pose for photos with their hand on a Bible, but there is nothing official about them, and they are unrelated to the actual swearing-in.
MRC's Double Standard on Gotcha Questions Topic: NewsBusters
In a Dec. 12 NewsBusters post, Scott Whitlock baselessly speculated that CNN's Bob Franken "seemed downright embarrassed to be reporting the fact that Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes incorrectly responded to a correspondent’s question of who, Shiite or Sunni, primarily comprise al-Qaeda." Whitlock also suggested that CNN was wrong to note "examples of Republicans flubbing such quizzes." But in 1999, when then-candidate for president George W. Bush, in Franken's words, "flubbed a similar impromptu quiz about world leaders," the MRC was eager to deflect attention from it by noting examples of Democrats doing the same thing.
In a Nov. 9, 1999, CyberAlert, Brent Baker noted that "ABC's World News Tonight jumped on how George W. Bush could not identify some obscure world leaders" (those of Chechnya, India or Pakistan, which given subsequent events are not exactly "obscure"), then claimed that the show had not noted an incident in which "Gore could not answer some farm questions posed by Diane Sawyer on 20/20."
A Dec. 12 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein attacks Media Matters blogger Eric Alterman (disclosure: I work for Media Matters) for being "one angry guy" who "vents his bile" and whose "anger burns so brightly that it blots out his substance." As evidence, Finkelstein cites an Alterman column in which he calls David Horowitz "crazy," the Wall Street Journal editorial page "a sorry joke," and a column "so bad it could have been written by Charles Krauthammer."
This complaint, it should be noted, comes from someone who is on record likening Hillary Clinton to Kim Jong Il and a crocodile, not to mention calling Rep. John Murtha a megalomaniac.
Sounds like someone has his own issues with "anger" and "bile" that he might want to deal with before making accusations about others.
New Article: Curt Weldon's Mouthpieces Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax's Kenneth Timmerman is the latest to allow the defeated Republican congressman to spin his conspiracy theories unchallenged and un-fact-checked -- a bad thing, because Weldon's hanging out with people the CIA considers liars. Read more.
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.
CNS Continues PR Work for Inhofe Topic: CNSNews.com
Is CNSNews.com becoming the PR division of Rep. James Inhofe's office?
Last week, we noted that CNS devoted an article exclusively to Inhofe's views on the Iraq Study Group report. Now, a Dec. 12 CNS article by Randy Hall touted Inhofe's praise of a United Nations report that he says pours "cold water" on "global warming alarmism." Inhofe is the only person Hall contacted for reaction to the U.N. report.
Why all the attention given to this particular congressman? Perhaps because former CNS reporter Marc Morano is now a member of Inhofe's communications staff. Morano and Hall, by the way, teamed up earlier this year on a smear job on Rep. John Murtha.
CNS Notes DeLay Left Congress, Doesn't Say Why Topic: CNSNews.com
A Dec. 11 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones on former Rep. Tom DeLay's new blog referenced DeLay's "farewell address to Congress on June 8." But Jones failed to explain why DeLay left Congress. That, of course, would be because DeLay was indicted on charges related to laundering illegal campaign contributions.
Jones also failed to update the article to reflect developments on DeLay's blog -- namely that comments were suspended after, in the words of TPM Muckraker, "his invitation in his inaugural post to 'speak truth to power' was taken too literally by visitors."
In an Oct. 6 CNSNews.com article by Nathan Burchfiel on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's efforts to get the Secret Service to release its records of prominent conservative Christian leaders' visits to the White House, among the featured quotes was from Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition:
Lafferty added that CREW is a "front group" funded in part by billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros.
"Obviously, everyone on the list is considered a threat," she said. "Anyone who is a threat, Soros and his people go after.
"Soros is a very wealthy, manipulative, evil person who is trying to direct the outcome of this election, and he is going after Christians," Lafferty said.
But a Dec. 11 CNS article by Susan Jones featuring quotes by CREW executive director Melanie Sloan criticizing the re-election of Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, despite the fact that he's under federal investigation for bribery, fails to mention Soros, though Jones does call CREW "a liberal-leaning government watchdog group."
We've previously noted that NewsMax and WorldNetDaily suffered from similar amnesia about links between CREW to Soros -- noting it when CREW criticizes Republicans and ignoring it when CREW criticizes Democrats.
No Compassionate Conservatives Allowed at NewsBusters Topic: NewsBusters
Is the idea of "compassionate conservatism" being kicked to death in the parking lot? First, WorldNetDaily scowled at a TV station that sought help for illegal immigrants who were burned out of their home; now NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein seems to be declaring that real conservatives aren't compassionate.
In a Dec. 10 post, Finkelstein declared: "Those looking for a true conservative to enter the Republican presidential field might be feeling a bit perplexed in the wake of Sam Brownback's performance on this morning's Fox News Sunday." One of Brownback's offenses, according to Finkelstein: he "[s]eemingly described himself as a 'compassionate conservative.'" Finnkelstein added:
Brownback went on to describe himself as "conservative on economic and fiscal and moral and social and compassionate conservative issues." Conservative on compassionate conservative issues? An enigmatic statement that some might interpret as meaning he is opposed to big-government compassionate conservatism as practiced by Pres. Bush. But, in its context, I read it as saying he identifies as a compassionate conservative, which might come as troubling news to more traditional conservatives.
It's "troubling" for a conservative to show compassion? That seems to be a repudiation of George W. Bush's presidency, to which he was elected proclaiming himself as a "compassionate conservative." Or is "compassion" permissible only when government money is not involved? Does this mean that conservatives of Finkelstein's ilk are searching for the 2008 candidate who shows the least amount of compassion for his fellow man?
WND Still Schizophrenic About Libel Lawsuit Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily is still schizophrenic about the libel lawsuit filed against it by Tennessee businessman Clark Jones.
A Dec. 8 article by Bob Unruh details its main claim that WND should not be held liable for the articles:
That appellate order then was followed by the appellate court statement that the reporters "were freelance reporters engaged by the Defendant WorldNetDaily.com, Inc. [WND] to write a series of articles about the Plaintiff's alleged activities which were published, with extensive notoriety, by WND, and were prima facie defamatory."
But there has been no trial, no jury, and no conclusions that the reporters actually had been "engaged," that the stories were "published," "with extensive notoriety" and were "prima facie defamatory." The appellate court opinion simply stated those disputed issues as fact, the court filing said.
"In spite of the statement of the court of appeals … the record on appeal presents evidence all of which is of one accord and indisputable in establishing that WND did not 'engage' appellants to write the articles that are the subject of the instant case. Instead, appellants did the investigation and wrote the articles, without WND even having knowledge that the articles were being written or the investigation being done, and, after the articles were finished, the appellants contacted WND and asked WND to post the articles on WND's website for dissemination," the statement said.
So WND is still claiming that it's innocent because it didn't commission the articles but merely reprinted them.
But then, Unruh writes:
WND's rights would be similar, "if not exactly the same," as a news publisher, it said.
"Literally, myriad cases could be cited from this Court, from courts of other states and from the federal forum, including the United States Supreme Court, to establish how very fundamental and very vital, to our existence as a Nation, extraordinary protection of the First Amendment rights of the press is," the filing said.
So, which is it? Is WND standing by the articles, or is it trying to disassociate itself from them? Logic would seem to dictate that it can't do both.
Unruh also adds:
WND argued that if the only news that is reportable is from an identified source, the First Amendment rights of every U.S. citizen will be damaged.
"The inability to claim that the information from the source whose identity remains confidential is truth, … dictates that the reporter and/or the third-party website provider must defend the defamation claims in the face of an irrefutable presumption that the reported and/or website-posted information is false," WND said.
If the court orders controlling in the WND case now had been in place during Watergate, not even the Washington Post could have assumed the risk of publishing anything from Deep Throat, the petition said.
(UPDATE: We forgot to note that this contradicts Farah's previous view of anonymous sources: "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better.")
But back to schizophrenia: A Dec. 9 article by Unruh notes that "alarmingly, the number of Internet-based journalists in prison for their work has doubled in just three years." Unruh then goes on to quote Joseph Farah:
"It's not WorldNetDaily on trial in Tennessee, it's the First Amendment," said Farah. "Where in heaven's name have the American Civil Liberties Union and the big media been for the last six years as our little company carries the full load of responsibility for defending something as basic to our country's founding principles as freedom of the press?"
Farah continued: "Not only is this a huge defamation case in terms of possible judgments, it is also huge because it involves critical reporting about the 2000 presidential election. Politically protected speech and reporting doesn't get much more basic than that."
Wait -- we thought WND was insisting that it was responsible for the content of those articles. We're confused. Pick one of the other, guys.
A side note: Both articles appeal for donations to WND's legal defense fund, claiming, "WorldNetDaily’s only recourse in this lawsuit is to fight every step of the way in its pursuit of truth." But Unruh lets a little truth slip through in the Dec. 8 article, explaining a bit why after so many years, WND is suddenly obsessed by it:
The order at issue concluded that an appeal by [reporters Tony] Hays and [Charles C.] Thompson should be dismissed, "together with the appeals of WND and (defendant Rebecca) Hagelin" [then WND's communications director] with costs assessed to those parties.
The problem there is that WND and Hagelin didn't file an appeal, the new court filing said.
Oops! Unruh offers no explanation as to why no appeal was filed or if one should have been, which seems to belie its claim to "fight every step of the way." As we've noted, WND went 3 1/2 years -- from December 2002 to July 2006 -- without publishing a news article about it. Could that lack of response to the lawsuit be the reason that WND has ignored our challenge to publish all legal documents from it on the Web?
And, by the way, despite the loving detail Unruh gives WND's side of the story, in neither of these articles does he talk to Jones or his representatives to give them a fair representation; his description of the other side is limited to quotes from the lawsuit and rulings.