Topic: Accuracy in Media
"If Jack Bauer were in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq, we would have won by now."
-- Cliff Kincaid, Jan. 10 Accuracy in Media column
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Kessler Obsessed with McCain's Anger
Why is NewsMax's Ronald Kessler obsessed with John McCain's purported anger management problem?
Snow: Thank God for (Conservative) Blogs!
In a Jan. 10 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein recounts "a conference call for bloggers conducted this afternoon by Snow and Brett McGurk [pictured here], the National Security Council's Director for Iraq -- adding, "I had the opportunity to participate on behalf on NewsBusters" -- during which Snow said, "Thank God for blogs." Finkelstein offers no further clarification, so we will be forced to assume a few things.
First, we assume that Snow is thanking God for conservative blogs; we don't think for a moment that a Republican press secretary is praising his Creator for the existence of, say, Daily Kos or Atrios. We can also probably assume, since Finkelstein doesn't make a point of saying how liberal bloggers participated, tjat only conservative bloggers were invited to participate in Snow's "conference call for bloggers." (And given the virtual silence in the conservative blogosphere regarding Spocko, it's safe to assume that his situation never came up in the conference call either, thus permitting an opportunity for Snow to thank God for him, too.) It's highly unlikely that Snow would acknowledge that any liberal blogger plays a role in, in Finkelstein's words, "cutting through the MSM clutter."
And what "MSM clutter" would that be, exactly? When the broadcast networks refused to air the Democratic response to President Bush's address last night? When ABC and NBC uncriticially reported Bush's latest Iraqi troop readiness goal? When a CNN correspondent declared, despite the evidence, that Bush is "very, very popular" in Montana?
Finkelstein has apparently forgotten that not all bloggers are conservative, and liberal bloggers have many of the same bias complaints about the MSM that conservatives do.
'Escalation' vs. 'Surge'
Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 9 MRC CyberAlert item (and Jan. 8 NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker claimed that referring to President Bush's proposed increase of troops in Iraq as an "escalation" was "Democratic terminology," while calling it a "surge" was "more Bush-friendly." Baker doesn't explain why; but as Media Matters points out, the term "surge" implies a shorter-term increase than what has been reported as the expected tenure for the additional troops.
But not all conservatives are on board with that. From Tony Blankley's Jan. 10 Washington Times column:
Baker also doesn't explain why "escalation" is "Democratic terminology" when it's arguably a more accurate term to describe Bush's plans than "surge."
How Times Change
-- Christopher Ruddy, April 7, 2003, NewsMax column
-- Christopher Ruddy, Jan. 11 NewsMax column
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
More Selective Editing From Finkelstein
NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein is becoming quite the master at selectively editing the transcripts he posts to bolster his claims. He does so again in a Jan. 8 post depicting a debate between MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and "smart and plucky" author Bob Kohn (who repeated a false MRC claim about ex-New York Times editor Howell Raines in his WorldNetDaily-published Times-bashing book). From Finkelstein's item:
Finkelstein abruptly ends his transcript there. But the exchange continued, and Scarborough hinted at why he took that position:
Finkelstein apparently doesn't disagree with Scarborough's contention that conservatives regularly complain when a liberal is allowed to weigh in on a conservative issue that most of the country supports.
Finkelstein went on to assert that Scarborough engaged in "panel-packing ... with Kohn left to assert NBC's liberal bias alone," but he doesn't note how Scarborough ended the segment, laughing as he did so:
Finally, in calling Scarborough "so sycophantish, even Keith Olbermann might have been embarassed by it" in defending his network against "charges of liberal bias" by Bill O'Reilly, Finkelstein ignored the claim by panelist Paul Waldman from Media Matters (full disclosure: my employer) that it had found "over 1,100 instances of conservative misinformation" on NBC and MSNBC.
The full clips and transcripts of shows like these are easily found online. Finkelstein should know better than to edit out stuff that conflicts with his argument.
WND Hides Full Story on Berger Report
It should be no surprise by now that WorldNetDaily will avoid telling all the facts about a story when those facts refect poorly on its political agenda. And so it is with a Jan. 9 article on a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report claiming that former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger "went to extraordinary lengths to compromise national security and that the Department of Justice could not assure the 9/11 commission it received requested documents."
A Jan. 10 Washington Post article includes important details that WND didn't:
So, is it "personal virtue and good character" to tell only one side of a story?
So Much for Not Taking a Position on Global Warming
Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 4 Media Research Center press release quotes Brent Bozell: "As anyone who has read our reports knows, the MRC has not taken a position on global warming." We're not sure what "reports" Bozell is referring to, but when the vast majority of MRC's global warming-related content that we've seen is devoted to attacking the idea, it's hard to claim with a straight face that it has "not taken a position."
Take, for example, a Jan. 9 NewsBusters post by Rich Noyes -- no mere blogging schmo, he's the MRC's research director. According to Noyes, the NBC Nightly News, after reporting that the unusually mild winter in some parts of the country on El Nino, "flip-flopped" after "a handful of lilberal complainers" proceded to "whine" and spew "mean-spirited idiocy," "repudiated" the original report. Global warming supporters "whine" and are "mean-spirited"? Nope, no "taking a position" there.
Further, Nightly News host Brian Williams hardly "repudiated" the original report. As the transcript Noyes supplied demonstrates, an updated report served up what Williams called "the rest of the story" (we thought the MRC believed in telling all relevant sides of a story). The report went on to note that "[m]any experts say" global warming "plays a part," adding: "So the unusual warmth in the Northeast could partly be the result of global warming. Indeed, even the heavy snow in the Rockies this year might be partly caused by global warming."
As the italicized phrases show, the report couched the global warming link in large doses of speculation -- hardly the "repudiation" Noyes claims it is; Noyes, meanwhile, offers no evidence that global warming is not involved.
So a top MRC official belittles global warming supporters and attacks a TV network for merely acknowledging the possibility that global warming exists -- and somehow that is not having "taken a position on global warming."
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
WND Still Peddling Dubious 'Darwin=Hitler' Claim
In a Jan. 9 article referencing "Hitler-type 'designer' babies," WorldNetDaily once again brings up D. James Kennedy's program "Darwin's Deadly Legacy." While the article notes that the program was controversial, but failing to go into details:
But as we documented when the program first aired, WND glossed over accusations that Kennedy's Coral Ridge ministry misled one participant about the nature of the program, which was one gist of the criticism from "bloggers Internet-wide as well as the Anti-Defamation League" to which WND alludes. Coral Ridge ultimately agreed to remove that participant from future airings of the program.
Another criticism of the program was that it conflated evolution and social Darwinism and ignored evidence that such concepts preceded Darwin; as one blogger pointed out: "Racism, anti-semitism, and ethnic cleansing long preceded Darwin, and the idea of selection was common to anyone who had domesticated and bred plants and animals."
Even some conservatives criticized the program. One columnist for Alan Keyes' Renew America website wrote, "I felt totally disappointed and regretful that I had recommended this program to Christian families. It appeared hastily put together and thinly disguised to promote authors and their books."
The article also curiously states: "Producer Jerry Newcomb said the show included WND columnist Ann Coulter, who also wrote the bestselling 'Godless: The Church of Liberalism.' " Why attribute that claim to the show's producer? Didn't anyone at WND watch the program?
Finally, the article repeats a defense of the program from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, thus providing another missed opportunity for WND to note Lapin's involvement with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. How does WND ever hope to "personal virtue and good character" if it treats scandal-tarred figures such as Lapin as legitimate conservative spokesmen?
WND Silent on Columnist's Attempt at Censorship
WorldNetDaily is fond of portraying any purported abridgement of religious freedom as "censorship," and it claims to be "faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society." But it has yet to weigh in on one recent censorship attempt involving one of its own columnists.
Perhaps that's because the columnist, Melanie Morgan, is acting as the censor and not the censored. ABC Radio -- the owner of San Francisco station KSFO, the home of Morgan's radio show -- sent a cease-and-desist letter to a blogger named Spocko, who had posted clips of extremist comments made by Morgan, her co-host Lee Rodgers, and other KSFO hosts, claiming that he was violating KSFO's copyright (while ignoring the same doctrine of "fair use" that WND has claimed in its wholesale lifting of stories it takes from other sources and sticks under a WND byline). Shortly thereafter, Spocko's Internet hosting service shut down Spocko's blog.
If WND is truly "faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society," why isn't it running to Spocko's defense? Perhaps because it's more important to bury bad news about one of its columnists.
Monday, January 8, 2007
Who (Really) Is Avigdor Lieberman?
You'd think that a column headlined "Who Is Avigdor Lieberman?" would, you know, tell us who Avigdor Lieberman is.
But Alan Caruba's Jan. 8 CNSNews.com column manages to avoid doing that -- at least, fail to tell the important stuff. While Caruba tells us that Lieberman is a "soft-spoken fellow" who is an Israeli deputy prime minister and who "has been credited with revitalizing Likud," a conservative Israeli party, Caruba doesn't note that Lieberman is a founder and member of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, who thought Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu granted too many concessions to the Palestinians.
Caruba writes that Lieberman "wants the Arabs out of Israel" and "wants Israel's Arabs to take a loyalty oath" and that he "believes Arabs would be happier living among other Arabs." Caruba calls Lieberman "radical," but he doesn't say just how radical an anti-Arab Lieberman is. According to Wikipedia:
This gets closer to a correct answer to the question "Who Is Avignor Lieberman?" than Caruba's fawning, soft-pedaled portrayal.
Owens Won't Admit It
In a Jan. 8 NewsBusters post, Bob Owens -- like his NewsBusters compadre Warner Todd Huston -- is all too eager to distract folks from the fact that his claim that Associated Press source Jamil Hussein didn't exist has been proven to be false. Rather than question why the Iraq Interior Ministry flip-flopped and suddenly confirmed Hussein's existence after weeks of denying it (and folks like him unquestioningly believing it), Owens bashes "the Leftist swarm" for "conflat[ing] Hussein's ability to exist with the veracity of his claims."
Shouldn't Owens be more concerned about why he took the Iraqis' false claim that Hussein didn't exist at face value? As recently as Jan. 3, Owens was chastising the AP for standing by Hussein "even after the Iraqi Interior Ministry Officially stated that the AP's source, Captain Jamil Hussein, simply didn't exist, and that no one by that name ever worked at the two police stations where AP said he did." Yet he apparently feels no need to apologize for trusting someone who was peddling a claim now proven false.
Indeed, now he refuses to take the Interior Ministry at its word:
Wait -- Owens and other conservative bloggers have spent the past month presenting the Interior Ministry's claim that Hussein didn't exist as unimpeachable. Is he suddenly doubting the Interior Ministry now because of its Hussein flip-flop -- or because AP cited it as a source?
If it's the latter, that seems to indicate that Owens is less concerned with accuracy than with the conservative goal of trying to discredit AP.
Owens also bashed the AP for leaving out "a very important detail" listed in Wikipedia on an organization, the Association of Muslim Scholars, cited in one article -- that it is "believed to have strong links with Al-Qaeda terrorists." But Wikipedia's claim is followed by "[citation required], meaning that the claim has not been substantiated, and Owens offers no other evidence. He then claims that AP should have mentioned those "strong alleged tie[s]," ignoring the fact that if they were genuinely "strong," they wouldn't have to be qualified as "alleged."
NewsBusters Selectively Outraged Over Journalist Contact with Terrorists
Robin Boyd is shocked -- shocked! -- that a news service would contact a terrorist. From her Jan. 4 NewsBusters post:
What we want to know is, why isn't Boyd similarly outraged at WorldNetDaily for having similar contact with terrorists?
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