A Jan. 4 NewsMax article notes for the umpteenth time that Sen. Robert Byrd was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
In this five-paragraph article, this non-news is mentioned twice -- in the first paragraph, in which concern is faked that "an 89-year-old former Klansman third in the line of presidential succession," and in the final paragraph, which does something NewsMax usually avoids: it notes that "He has admitted that his membership in the organization was 'wrong.' "
Did the Pope Really Say That? Topic: WorldNetDaily
From a Dec. 22 Catholic News Agency article on a speech by Pope Benedict XVI:
"At this point," he added, "I cannot fail to mention my concern over 'de facto' couples. ... When new legislation is created that relativizes marriage, the rejection of the definitive bond gains, so to speak, juridical endorsement." Moreover, "relativizing the difference between the sexes ... tacitly confirms those bleak theories which seek to remove all relevance from a human being's masculinity or femininity, as if this were a purely biological matter."
The Holy Father affirmed that, "herein is a contempt for corporeality whence it follows that man, in seeking to emancipate himself from his body (from the 'biological sphere'), ends up by destroying himself."
Against those who say that "the Church should not involve herself in these matters, we can only respond: does man not concern us too?" The church and believers "must raise their voices to defend man, the creature who, in the inseparable unity of body and spirit, is the image of God."
What WorldNetDaily, in a Dec. 28 article quoting the above, said the pope said:
In his most powerful statements to date on issues involving sexual morality, Pope Benedict XVI said homosexuals end up destroying themselves so the Church has a duty to speak out on moral issues that affect the very spiritual and physical lives of man.
Not quite. The pope didn't say that "homosexuals end up destroying themselves": he said that endorsement of same-sex unions -- " 'de facto' couples" in his words -- is a sign of "contempt for corpeality" in which "man ... ends up by destroying himself." Even though what WND may not be that far from what the pope believes, WND went far beyond the pope's actual words to make a claim his words don't support.
And Michael Savage bought into WND's misinterpretation.
Micah Morrison Resurfaces Topic: Washington Examiner
We see that Micah Morrison has contributed a two-part series to the Washington Examiner on what he called an "alleged conspiracy scheme of staggering proportions" involving a prominent class-action law firm. We haven't seen or heard from Morrison in quite a while; he has apparently left the employ of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, where he contributed notable amounts of Clinton-bashing copy. Besides freelancing, he is now an adviser to the Tenet Shareholder Committee, dedicated to bringing "corporate reform and improved performance to Tenet Healthcare Co., currently the second-largest private hospital company in the country."
As far as we're concerned, Morrison will always be remembered for his hilariously parsed defense of himself against claims made about his visits to Arkansas in Joe Conason and Gene Lyons' "The Hunting of the President": "This writer never was 'swaggering' around a Hot Springs fishing camp carrying 'semiautomatic pistols' or 'making noisy public displays' of dislike toward President Clinton in 'public places' -- or anywhere else for that matter."
There's A Reason They Were 'Underreported' Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 3 WorldNetDaily article details WND's annual "Operation Spike" list of "underreported stories of the last year." As always, the stories reflect WND's conservative agenda, with a special emphasis this year on things designed to sell other WND products or are, in fact, not real stories at all.
In first place is the purported merger of the U.S., Mexico and Canada into a North American "superstate" -- which, conveniently, the new issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine just happens to be about (and over which WND's Joseph Farah and Jerome Corsi are currently engaged in a flame war with conservative radio host Michael Medved).
In second place is the "wave of murders and other crimes by illegal aliens." in which it repeated the claim that "more Americans were murdered this year by illegal aliens than the combined death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since those military campaigns began." As we reported, the statistics WND used to back that claim are dubious, if not outright wrong.
In third place: Sexpidemic! "In one of the most sensational stories of the year, WND documented dozens of cases of female teachers having sex with their underage students – both male and female." But as we pointed out, WND offered serious evidence whatsoever that these are anything more than isolated cases over a period of 15 years.
In fourth place: Aaron Klein's terrorist buddies claiming that they wanted Democrats to win the midterm elections. The article claims that "it was obvious the terrorists would prefer the Democrats,"which ignores the fact that in the 2004 presidential election, intelligence agencies have concluded that Osama bin Laden's release of a videotape before the 2004 election -- which conservatives portrayed as an endorsement of John Kerry -- was in fact designed to get President Bush re-elected. The article further asserts that "WND alone among the major media actually canvassed key terror leaders." Wrong; it only talked to three, hardly a representative sample.
It seems these stories were "spiked" for good reason: They serve only to bolster Joseph Farah's personal and political agenda (or, in the case of Sexpidemic!, certain apparent proclivities we'd rather not know about).
Another piece of ConWeb work we overlooked during the holidays: Lowell Ponte's Dec. 27 NewsMax column on Gerald Ford. It's entertainingly laden with all sorts of liberal-bashing and conspiracy-mongering, such as claiming that "Democrats had controlled the Congress by one-party rule, not unlike Mexico's authoritarian PRI, since the early 1950s."
Ponte then portrays Richard Nixon as the victim of a "relentless campaign of propaganda by smear and innuendo" by the "liberal media" as revenge for Nixon's 1972 landslide re-election victory:
For leftists who had spent decades infiltrating and taking control of America's mainstream media, this humiliation by an anti-communist president was intolerable. If Nixon and conservative Republicans could not be defeated at the ballot box, the media determined to remove him by coup d'etat.
The Watergate burglary, Ponte wrote, was "a genuine crime but the kind of lawbreaking that Democratic presidents had engaged in routinely since the reign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt." Allegations in the media, he added, were "typically trivial or mere hearsay." Yeah, 30 Nixon administration officials being convicted on Watergate-related crimes is so trivial.
From there, it's a quick hop, skip and jump to bashing Jimmy Carter: "But the disaster of the media coup against Nixon and the ascent of Carter continues to plague America today." Why? Because Carter "withdrew U.S. support from the shah of Iran"; as a result, "Carter is responsible for 9/11 and the nearly 3,000 Americans who died in the World Trade Center other terrorist attacks that day."
Ponte adds, without evidence: "Carter's record inflation stole half the life savings of every American family." He then brings his readers in for a gentle landing: "But the nightmare of Carter's presidency was replaced in 1980 by the glorious sunrise of President Ronald Reagan."
Ponte's column carries the headline "President Ford and the Media's Revisionist History," but by glossing over the numerous Watergate crimes, Ponte appears to be the one serving up the revisionist history.
UPDATE: Oh, and did we mention that Ponte called Carter an "anti-Semitic incompetent"?
While doing only light blogging during the holidays, we totally missed the ongoing saga of WorldNetDaily columnist Jim Rutz trying to prove that soy makes you gay. As promised, in his Dec. 26 column, Rutz hones in on that claim. It's pretty clear that Rutz is cherry-picking studies to focus on the most alarming claims.
It's also clear that Rutz has no respect for homosexuals. He repeatedly invokes gay stereotypes and conservative anti-gay rhetoric in his column:
"Against my better judgment, I took a national TV interview last week. They handed a bowl of soy stuff to a guy in the studio audience. After he had munched for thirty seconds, the host asked him, 'Well, you startin' to feel kinda swishy yet?' Good comedy, but highly misleading."
"No study says that soy dooms a child to homosexuality, but it's not hard to believe that at some point during pregnancy babies are hardwired for sexual preference."
"In other words, a girl-chasing, football-playing college boy won't go gay even if he becomes a vegetarian or snacks all day on soy energy bars."
"My larger concern is that the increasing number of less robust 15-year-olds who are already "struggling with their sexual identity" will be shoved over that thin line into homosexuality. No, they won’t wake up some morning with floppy wrists and a nasal lisp, but they may begin to gravitate toward social circles where they feel more comfortable — and less expected to be rowdy or brag about a string of sexual conquests. And once a teen is ensconced in a homosexual milieu, breaking free from it could mean abandoning his best friends."
So "bragging about a string of sexual conquests" is somehow preferable to homosexuality? Somehow, we suspect that Rutz's boss, family man Joseph Farah, will not find that amusing.
UPDATE: Sadly, No! and its commenters simultaneously debunk and ridicule Rutz. And Seed Magazine points out that not only is there no research to indicate that soy consumption decreases penis size or makes people gay, "[t]here is some marmoset research showing that infants fed with soy formula milk experience puberty normally and have the same penis length as their twins," as well as greater testis weight. Seed adds:"Take that, James Rutz: Soy gives you big balls."
Ronald Kessler's latest Republican fluff piece for NewsMax is a Jan. 3 profile of HUD secretary Alphonso Jackson built around his claims that "black leaders like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Julian Bond are doing a disservice to blacks by perpetuating an ideology of victimhood." (That's becoming a recurring theme for Kessler, having previously addressed it in an October interview with Juan Williams, whom he suggested was the "black Ann Coulter.") At one point, Kessler quotes the words of the secretary's father: " 'Never take anything that you didn't earn,' his father told Alphonso. 'That's close to stealing.' "
Needless to say, Kessler makes no mention of Jackson's behavior that appears to contradict his father's adage. A September 2006 inspector general's report found that Jackson urged staff members to favor friends of President Bush when awarding HUD contracts (though it found no direct proof that Jackson's staff obeyed). His chief of staff told investigators that Jackson "personally intervened with contractors whom he did not like . . . these contractors had Democratic political affiliations," according the report. Indeed, he told a gathering in Dallas in April that he didn't award one contract, even though the contractor won the bidding, because the contractor said he didn't like Bush. (Jackson later claimed he "lied.")
So Jackson is either a liar or a crony (or both). Would his father be proud of that? And shouldn't Kessler have mentioned this to his readers?
WorldNetDaily columnist Mychal Massie regularly invokes the sordid details of the personal lives of those blacks he does not like. For instance, in a Sept. 19 column, he claimed that Jesse Jackson"paraded your pregnant mistress around the White House" (not to mention claiming that Jackson serves "the 'god' of chaos, deceit, lies, whore-mongering, dysfunction, greed and resentment"). And he suggested that the victim of a hail of 50 bullets from New York policemen had it coming to him because he "at the very best, left behind children out of wedlock and a life of crime, drugs and guns. ... He had no real job and no real prospects for the future."
But in his Jan. 2 WND column, Massie eulogizes James Brown as "a man who elevated himself leagues above his humble beginnings" offering a message of "self-motivation and meritocracy" with nary a mention about Brown's troubled private life, which included arrests for drugs and domestic abuse, for which he at one point received a six-year prison sentence (serving 2 1/2 years; he was later pardoned).
If Jesse Jackson's private life is worth mentioning, why not James Brown's? Because it would mess with Massie's narrative.
NewsMax vs. WND on Gerald Ford Topic: WorldNetDaily
A special splash page on NewsMax's website stated of former President Gerald Ford, whose funeral was today: "Mr. President, thank you for healing our nation."
The folks at WorldNetDaily were not feeling nearly as generous: A Jan. 2 column by Joseph Farah asks: "Not to put too fine a point on it, but, when was Ford ever right about anything?"
This comes on top of a Dec. 29 column by Star Parker disapproving of Ford's kind of "healing" because it led to the election of Jimmy Carter:
President Ford may have been a fine gentleman who soothed the nerves of a rattled nation, but his brief presidency became a bridge to nowhere. The major problems confronting the nation were not attended to. And the door was opened to Jimmy Carter, who campaigned as an outsider and healer who would bring new integrity to Washington.
The next four nightmare years are there for all to read about.
Parker then goes on to bash Barack Obama for having those same characteristics:
What seems to carry the day for Obama is that he is perceived as a healer and soother.
He's multiethnic. He talks about the importance of bipartisanship and new political thinking.
However, as we're being healed and soothed, a real world turns about us where deeds rather than words tell us who we're really dealing with.
Huston Trusts A Documented Liar Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 1 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston proclaimed that "it's about time some American news source describes how well most of Iraq is doing since the US led overthrow of Saddam's regime" because that purported development "escapes too many in the western media who's [sic] only goal seems to be to attack America in general and George W. Bush n [sic] particular." Huston then went on to praise the New York Post for reporting that "Iraq is no worse than any other country in the region as far as it being safe to create and sustain a business. And it is fast becoming one of the most desirable places to do so with the stability and friendliness to business the US has offered potential investors." Huston concluded: "At least, once in a great while, we do get a story here and there that tells us some truth. Good going New York Post."
But this wasn't a news article by the New York Post; it was a Dec. 26 column by Amir Taheri. As we reported, Taheri was the source for a claim reported by Canada's National Post that the Iranian parliament passed a law that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims." But that claim could not be substantiated, and the National Post was forced to retract the article. (We also noted that NewsBusters promoted Taheri's claim, then buried the retraction where nobody would see it.)
Further, Taheri is backed by Benador Associates, a public relations firm that represents several neoconserative politicians and advisers, so he presumably has a vested interest in making Iraq look as good as possible.
If Huston is really looking for someone to "tell us some truth," he would do much better than to link himself to a discredited shill like Amir Taheri.
Graham on Liberal Music, TV: It Stinks! Topic: NewsBusters
As we've noted, the Media Research Center's Tim Graham has a bit of a problem with liberal artists getting any kind of positive review; apparently, he believes that the only reason that critics would like liberal-leaning art or music or film is because the critics themselves are liberal too, and that said praise equals an endorsement of the views of the artist.
Which brings us to a pair of Dec. 30 NewsBusters posts by Graham in which he disapprovingly of critics citing liberal-leaning works as among the best of 2006. The first post complains that Washington Post critics "were dropping some liberal (and radical, even Marxist) politics into their choices," and that one music critic in particular "had two liberal/radical Bush-hater favorites on his Best list." That would be the Dixie Chicks and the Coup; Graham then cites noted music critic Brent Bozell's less-than-glowing review of the Coup ("politically noxious") in which he, like Graham, disapproved of the group because he didn't like their politics. Graham goes on to take Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac to task for his name -- it was taken from the line "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," from the song "Me and Bobby McGee" -- and for the offense of having San Francisco hippies as parents.
Another Dec. 30 post by Graham took offense at Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker selecting Keith Olbermann and the addition of Rosie O'Donnell to "The View" as among his best TV of 2006. Graham adds: "It's quite knee-jerk of Tucker to assert that Rosie is the apostle of 'common sense' and the ninja of 'barbed wit.' She agrees with me, therefore she is brilliant and witty. And her conservative opponent eats paste."
No less knee-jerk, we would venture to say, than automatically presuming there is no artistic merit in art that does not toe the conservative line.
UPDATE: Graham's review of the reviewers continues: A Dec. 31 post cites "more guess-what-I'm-liberal picks of the Washington Post arts writers," bashing one for preferring "the knocking-boots Jesus of 'The Last Temptation of Christ' " over "the 'troubling' literal approach" of "The Passion of the Christ." (Did Jesus "literally" have that much blood in him?) We also learn that Graham is not a Fugazi fan.
A Jan. 1 post attacks another Post writer because she purportedly "celebrated the new ballet where George W. Bush assaults women and kills them." He then cites his Dec. 18 review of the Post's review, once again assuming without evidence that a positive review of a work of art equals endorsement of the political views contained therein.
And another Jan. 1 post complains that Time's picks for the top political cartoons of the year "certainly have a liberal tilt" because "Republicans and conservatives are mocked "while "[n]one of them mock American liberals."
The death of Gerald Ford has brought some weird grandstanding behavior on the part of NewsMax. It has started up a petition to name a new Navy destroyer after the former president. The odd thing about this is that Ford was a moderate Republican -- the kind conservatives like those at NewsMax typically loathe -- but that hasn't stopped Dave Eberhart, in a Dec. 28 article, from touting Ford as "that unique personality who bound the nation's wounds and set it back on a flank speed course for greatness" and approvingly citing "a groundswell of support in Congress to name a great warship after him."
NewsMax also trots out Jerry Zeifman, who makes a point of declaring himself a Democrat yet again as he uses a Dec. 29 column to praise Ford as "the most nonpartisan and ethical president in my life time" and attack "the current left wing of our Democratic Party." As we've previously noted, Zeifman is one of those "Democrats" who likes only Republicans and wrote a book claiming that "Kennedy loyalists" such as Hillary Rodham obstructed Richard Nixon's impeachment to protect the reputation of John Kennedy -- a bit of conspiracy-mongering readers might want to know as he bashes the New York Times for "assail[ing Ford] for the pardon of Richard Nixon."
The Sexpidemic! obsession continues at WorldNetDaily, with a Dec. 28 article asserting that there is a "classroom sexpidemic of women teachers raping underage boys is not going ignored by Hollywood." As always, the "evidence" for this is its anecdotal list of incidents that fails to note that some items date back more than 15 years -- hardly indicative of a current "sexpidemic."
The article also ponders "if Hollywood has a love affair with themes about underage boys seeking sex with older women." But the support for this is equally specious; the article names only four films over a 35-year time span, plus one storyline from the TV show "Dawson's Creek," as evidence of this "love affair."
Given WND'sobsession with this subject, one wonders if it's really itself WND is accusing of a "love affair" with teacher-student sex.
We're not known for our respect for Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid -- in fact, we're amused to no end by his obsession with homosexuality. But he is one of the few conservatives willing to criticize conservative celebrities for their crass behavior, such as Ann Coulter.
In his Dec. 25 AIM column, Kincaid takes on another conservative celeb, shock jock Erich "Mancow" Muller, criticizing Fox News for giving him a show. We've long been baffled by NewsMax's love for Mancow, and Kincaid calls NewsMax out on it (though we're about two years ahead of him):
Despite Muller's sleazy background, the conservative-oriented Newsmax.com website ran a positive story about his new Fox show and his career. The story made no mention of his history of filthy routines.
Kincaid doesn't mention it, but Mancow has even deeper conservative links than Fox News. Mancow's radio show is syndicated by Talk Radio Network, which also syndicates such conservative stalwarts as Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham. In order to target Mancow, Kincaid should also target TRN as well. (More about TRN and its operators here.)
Or perhaps not. Kincaid's Dec. 26 column writes of Rush Limbaugh's admisison that he promoted Republicans who abandoned conservative principles in theh 2006 midterm elections because he didn't want Democrats to win: "It's no wonder that the website of 'independent conservative' Michael Savage seized on Limbaugh's comments, saying they constituted an admission that he had been deceiving his listeners about the Republican betrayal."
Of course, Savage is just as inflammatory as Mancow, in his own special way. Given that Kincaid has already taken on Ann Coulter, why not Savage's boss as well for hiring Mancow?
Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research notes that we incorrectly stated that Congress was under Republican control in 1982; in fact, Republicans controlled only the Senate, while Democrats controlled the House.
It's also worth noting that Ridenour had no apparent problem with the focus of our entry on Christopher Adamo's claim that 1993 saw the "largest tax increase in history": that the biggest tax increase in history (adjusted for inflation) was signed by a Republican president (and approved by a Republican Senate).