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Saturday, January 20, 2007
Another Selectively Edited Finkelstein Transcript
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard apparently hasn't had that talk we recommended he have with Mark Finkelstein -- you know, about selectively editing the transcripts he posts on NewsBusters. Because Finkelstein has done it again.

In a Jan. 19 post, Finkelstein claims that the Wall Street Journal's John Fund "had something of a nuclear showdown" with MSNBC's Chris Matthews:

Said Fund, speaking of the build-up to the Iraq war: "The administration said there were weapons of mass destruction. They never claimed the United States was in imminent danger."

Matthews: "They did make the claim they [Iraq] had a nuclear weapon."

Fund: "No!! They did not claim they had a nuclear weapon! Give me the statement!

Matthews had none. The most he could muster was an Iraqi claim of a delivery system -- not of a weapon itself.

Not quite. Here's the section of "Hardball" transcript that Finkelstein condensed down to what Matthews could purportedly "muster":

MATTHEWS: They explained – the administration – that they had a delivery system, an airplane that would deliver it to North America. That was a big part of the case they made.
 
FUND: One, if they -- if they developed a nuclear weapon, they said they had a delivery system. They didn’t claim Iraq had a nuclear weapon.
 
MATTHEWS: They said don’t wait for the smoking gun because there’ll be a mushroom cloud. They used all the language of fear and imminent danger.

That was a reference to Condoleezza's Rice statement in late 2002 that "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Further (but not noted by either Matthews or Finkelstein) the Bush administration did claim that Iraq had nuclear weapons. Vice President Dick Cheney said the following a few days before the Iraq war started, on the March 16, 2003, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press":

CHENEY: We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. 

After truncating that section, Finkelstein then resumed his transcript:

Fund: "Chris, do you believe North Korea has a nuclear weapon?"

Matthews, after some serious dead air: "I don't know."

Fund: "You don't?? We know they do! They've announced it!!"

Matthews: "OK. But what's the point? What's the point here?"

Finkelstein abruptly ends his transcript there, adding "Oh, I don't know: perhaps that Chris should get his facts straight before venturing into his next facedown with John Fund!" But the exchange continued, in which Matthews explained his point:

 FUND: The point is –
 
MATTHEWS: OK, we’re not going to war with North Korea, I’ve noticed.
 
FUND: No.
 
MATTHEWS: OK. Why are we going to war, even thinking about it with Iran, then?
 
FUND: We’re not thinking about going to war. We are trying to put --
 
MATTHEWS: Good.
 
FUND: -- diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran so they don’t even think about it.
 
MATTHEWS: Well, that would be good. But I’m afraid that’s a threat that if it doesn’t work, we could go to war, that’s what I’m afraid of.

So, to sum up: Matthews' question of "What's the point?" applied not to whether North Korea's nuclear weapons actually existed, as Finkelstein implied by his selective editing of the transcript, but to why we're engaging in more aggressive postures toward Iran, which to our knowledge does not have nuclear weapons, than with North Korea, which apparently does. And more selective editing obscured the fact that Matthews did offer evidence (and that other evidence exists) for his claim that the Bush administration did link nuclear weapons to Saddam's Iraq. 

Further, Finkelstein lets Fund off the hook for his claim that the Bush administration "never claimed the United States was in imminent danger." That is only true in a very narrow technical sense; in fact, President Bush did call Iraq an "urgent threat"; Vice President Dick Cheney called Iraq a "mortal threat"; and other senior White House officials assented when reporters applied the "imminent threat" characterization. 

(And as to Fund's claim that "We’re not thinking about going to war" with Iran, Jerome Corsi at WorldNetDaily begs to differ.)

Finkelstein seems to be under the impression that he is free to distort with impunity the words of people with whom he doesn't agree (as he has done on previous occasions). But he also forgets that other people watch the same shows he does and can describe in detail his distortions.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:16 AM EST
Friday, January 19, 2007
CNS Still Slanting Abortion Articles
Topic: CNSNews.com

Susan Jones and Payton Hoegh were doing so well. In their Jan. 19 CNSNews.com article on the upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wade, they start out by countering the "pro-life" moniker with "pro-choice," a term CNS has generally steered clear of in the past.

But then, about halfway through the article, Jones and Hoegh abandon "pro-choice" for the inaccurate and loaded "abortion advocates." In fact, pro-choicers advocate the right to abortion, which is not the same thing as advocating abortions themselves.

It's not quite as slanted as CNS' previous efforts in covering the abortion issue, but it's still a slant.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:07 PM EST
Speaking of Pertinent Information ...
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard keeps up his war on Keith Olbermann -- he has previously called Olbermann "a disgrace, and the idea that any major media outlet would give him a daily platform to spew his vitriol from is similarly so" -- in a January 18 post taking Olbermann to task for his criticism of "24." Sheppard suggests that Olbermann is "formulating these opinions without all of the pertinent information available."

Besides accusing Olbermann of suffering from "obvious paranoia" (a slightly less harsh assessement than the "disturbing," "offensive" and "despicable" epithets Sheppard has previously hung on him), Sheppard takes particular offense to Olbermann's singling out of a NewsBusters post recommending that a "24" scene in which terrorists set off a nuclear device in Los Angeles "should be required viewing for all media members who question what's at risk and whether there really is a war on terror":

Yet, when a conservative writer “wonder[ed] how many people in the media understand how possible what was depicted [in Tuesday’s ‘24' episode] is,” and if “they really pondered the unthinkable,” KO suggested such person is addle-minded enough to believe that “somewhere in this country there really is a cheerleader who will never die, there's at least one real-life talking dog, and a mother and a daughter who patter back and forth like the Gilmore Girls.”

But Sheppard leaves out some of that "pertinent information" he speaks so highly of: The "conservative writer" who penned that post is none other than Sheppard himself. Strangely, he doesn't link to it.

The fact that you're defending your own writing is something readers ought to know, doncha think, Noel?


Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 AM EST
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Sadly, No! points out that Thomas D. Kuiper, in a Jan. 18 WorldNetDaily column, claimed that "when President Bush had been in office less than four months, Hillary Clinton was already blaming him for environmental changes" when, in fact, the Clinton statement Kuiper cites doesn't mention Bush.

Kuiper is the author of "I've Always Been A Yankees Fan: Hillary Clinton in Her Own Words," which, as we've noted, is not necessarily so.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:52 PM EST
'Terrorist Surveillance Program'
Topic: Media Research Center

A Jan. 18 CyberAlert item (and Jan. 17 NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker claimed that referring to what Baker called the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" as "domestic spying" and "domestic eavesdropping" was a "network habit," as well as "loaded and inaccurate."

But "Terrorist Surveillance Program" is at least as loaded and inaccurate. As we've noted, that term is the Bush administration's preferred terminology, something Baker fails to acknowledge. And "domestic eavesdropping" is indeed a component of the program, given that one end of the phone call being tapped is in the United States. Further, the name itself is misleading because the NSA does not know for sure that the subject of surveillance is, in fact, a terrorist when surveillance begins.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:46 PM EST
Morris Apologizes; Will NewsMax Tell Its Readers?
Topic: Newsmax

As we noted, NewsMax ran Dick Morris' Jan. 17 column in which he falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama voted against an ethics reform provision. Morris has now apologized for his blunder.

How will NewsMax handle it? Will it run Morris' apology, or will it simply make the faulty column magicially disappear without explanation, as it does with all too many of its errors?

UPDATE: NewsMax has replaced the column with Morris' correction. We have, however, saved a copy of the incorrect column here


Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2007 10:35 PM EST
New Article: They Attacked (or Ignored) Spocko's Brain
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily -- self-proclaimed champion of "new media" and defender of anonymous sources -- ignores an attempt to shut down a blogger critical of WND columnist Melanie Morgan, leaving it to Morgan herself to misleadingly address it. And a NewsBusters blogger simply regurgitates Morgan's attacks. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:14 AM EST
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Morris' Latest Blunder
Topic: Newsmax

NewsMax reprints Dick Morris' column in The Hill in which he claims that Barack Obama "made his first misstep a few days ago when he joined only a handful of Democrats in opposing a Senate reform banning the increasingly widespread practice of legislators hiring their family members on their campaign or PAC payrolls."

But he didn't. As Media Matters details, Obama actually voted against a measure to table (i.e., postpone and thus effectively kill) the bill, not the bill itself.

That Morris can't get simple facts straight sorta puts into perspective his inability to correctly prognosticate.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:39 PM EST
Still Fibbing About Plame
Topic: NewsBusters

A Jan. 16 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock attacked an ABC "Good Morning America" report on the Scooter Libby trial as skipping "important facts,"  then counters with his own version of the "facts" that turn out to be, uh, less than factual. Whitlock wrote:

[ABC's Claire] Shipman neglected to cite some extremely salient facts in her report. For starters, there’s no mention of the fact that [Joseph] Wilson’s wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame, actually sent Wilson on the trip to Africa.

In fact, according to the Wikipedia entry on Wilson to which Whitlock later links, the farthest the committee went in stating as "established fact" was that "Valerie Plame suggested her husband travel to Niger to look into" claims of attempted purchases of uranium by Iraq. In case Whitlock isn't aware, "suggested" is not the same thing as "sent."

Whitlock linked to Wikipedia in support of his claim that "the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report essentially saying that everything Joseph Wilson said was a lie" (he linked to a Power Line entry as well). But that's not exactly true either. According to Media Matters:

[W]hile the CIA initially interpreted Wilson's findings as confirmation of Iraq's supposed efforts to acquire uranium from Niger, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) interpreted his findings as confirmation that the Niger claim was not credible. As Media Matters further noted, the Senate Intelligence Committee reached no conclusion about the credibility of Wilson's July 6, 2003, New York Times op-ed describing his fact-finding mission to Niger. 


Posted by Terry K. at 2:46 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 4:41 PM EST
Illegal Alien Sex Fiends!
Topic: Accuracy in Media

So reads the headline (minus the exclamation point) of Andy Selepak's Jan. 16 Accuracy in Media column.

Sorry, Andy, it's just not as snappy as "Lust-filled women on sex rampage with your kids."


Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EST
Massie Crops Boxer's Remarks
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Mychal Massie's Jan. 16 WorldNetDaily column attacking Sen. Barbara Boxer's comments to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was predictably rantlike. Also predictable was Massie's failure to note one important fact: When Boxer noted that Rice had no children and thus would not pay a "personal price" for the Iraq war, she also pointed out that she herself would not pay a personal price because "[m]y kids are too old and my grandchild is too young." Does that excuse Boxer's remark to Rice? Not necessarily; but Massie's failure to report Boxer's full statement makes him an irresponsible columnist.

Similarly irresponsible: Massie, in his laundry list of attacks on Democrats, calls Sen. Robert Byrd an "unrepentant former Ku Klux Klan officer." In fact, as Slate's Timothy Noah points out, Byrd has apologized for his Klan past. Further, Massie glosses over Trent Lott's comments that if Strom Thurmond had been elected president on his 1948 Dixiecrat segregationist ticket, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over these years" as "jocund comments made at a birthday party." (By the way, Noah notes that Thurmond said as late as 1998 that "I don't have anything to apologize for" regarding his racism; asked if he thought the Dixiecrats were right, Thurmond said, "Yes, I do.")

Massie manages to keep his thesarus-plundering to a minimum this time, limiting himself to calling Boxer a "petulant harridan" and a "pettifogger."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 AM EST
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
NewsBusters Continues to Confuse TV, Reality
Topic: NewsBusters

The folks at NewsBusters aren't content with taking their cues on media bias from Stephen Colbert. Now they want U.S. foreign policy to be based on "24."

A Jan. 16 post by Noel Sheppard notes that at the end of one recent episode, terrorists set off a nuclear device in Los Angeles (actually, he doesn't say that for spoiler reasons, but the accompanying screen capture of a mushrooom cloud pretty much gives it away), an "astounding event" after which he "was left speechless for several minutes." Sheppard then launches into an attack on the media:

Yet, upon reflection, I wonder how many people in the media understand how possible what was depicted last evening is. As folks on the nation’s airwaves continue to downplay the seriousness of terrorism, and undermine virtually all of the current Administration’s efforts to thwart conscienceless aggression against Western civilization, have they really pondered the unthinkable? Or, have they all grown complacent as we move continually further and further away from that fateful day in September 2001?

Regardless, this video should be required viewing for all media members who question what's at risk, and whether there really is a war on terror.

Does Sheppard also think that Jack Bauer should be secretary of state? He doesn't say.

UPDATE: Four hours later after gushing about "24," Sheppard criticizes Time magazine for raising the question of whether "24" is "a conservative show."


Posted by Terry K. at 4:50 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 7:18 PM EST
AIM's New Bias Study
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media has a new writer, Andy Selepak, and he has a new study on media bias considered important enough by AIM that it's listed in his end-of-column bio and referenced by Selepak in a Jan. 1 column. So we took a look at it.

Selepak's study first appeared Nov. 6 as an "AIM Report" item. It purports to document "perceived bias" in the media. Selepak's conclusion: "With liberals being happy with the media, and because conservatives perceive a general media bias, the study suggests that the media in fact are liberal."

No, really.

Further, Fox News somehow manages to escape any accusations of being conservative. While Selepak states that "The Fox News Channel has become Republicans' most credible source for the news among television and cable news outlets," that doesn't mean it's necessarily biased: He adds that "to an 'impartial observer,' " Fox News and CNN "were the most objective outlets tested."

Selepak also recycles a conservative trope in his evidence supporting the idea of a liberal media bias: "For example, a survey in 1992 showed that 89% of Washington, DC, journalists voted for President Clinton in the 1992 Presidential election." As we reported more than six years ago, that study really doesn't support that conclusion. The largest group of recipients of the questionnaire for that study was smaller papers often with only one reporter or 'bureau chief' in Washington who focuses on local issues and their local members of Congress, not the national issues that reporters for larger papers focus on, making discussion of how these reporters purported fashioned more favorable coverage for Bill Clinton than George H.W. Bush somewhat irrelevant because those reporters were not covering the presidential election to a significant extent.

Further, in documenting how conservatives find that "the media" has a liberal bias, Selepak fails to note the decades of conservative activism by groups like AIM and the Media Research Center -- and the millions of dollars they raise and spend -- designed to plant that very idea in the minds of conservatives. Such activism, particularly compared to a relative lack of it on the liberal side, would seem to be worth mentioning in a study about perceptions of media bias. 

Nevertheless, AIM is apparently prepared to milk this study. Selepak summarizes it further in his Jan. 1 column: "The conclusion is inescapable that journalists' political and social beliefs have seeped into their news reporting. People believe what they see, and what they see is liberal bias. Case closed." 

Of course, if you've been spending millions of dollars over 30 years telling people that the media is biased, that has an effect on what people believe they see -- in effect, putting a thumb on the scale of perception. That makes the case not as "closed" as Selepak would like it to be.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:41 AM EST
Monday, January 15, 2007
We Have A Suggestion
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah uses his Jan. 15 WorldNetDaily column to plug his upcoming News Expo 2007, during which he promises "debates, interaction, Q&A, open mikes, opportunities to ask questions of newsmakers and newsbreakers alike." He asks:

I'd love to hear your suggestions on the kinds of stories you would like to see examined on the floor of NEWS EXPO 2007.

Which newsmakers would you most like to see?

Which journalists would you most like to meet?

Which bloggers would you most like to participate?

Which authors would you most like to hear?

Let me know.

We have an idea. How about inviting us to participate in a forum in which you or another WND employee defend WND's news coverage? After all, if Farah wants News Expo 2007 to address "certain stories – big stories, important stories – that never seem to get the attention they deserve," we would argue that among those is the journalistic standards of conservative media outlets. If Farah means to turn News Expo into one big lovefest for WND and its idea of stories "that never seem to get the attention they deserve" comes from its misleading list of "Operation Spike" stories, it becomes worthless as the journalistic enterprise that Farah purports it to be.

So, Mr. Farah: Are you really interested in having a News Expo that is "the ultimate extension of New Media involvement in the news"? Let us participate.

P.S. Farah urged early registration this way: "Springtime in Washington is the most attractive time for tourists because it's cherry blossom season. So you've got to plan ahead." But News Expo takes place May 11-12; the expected peak bloom time for cherry blossoms, as suggested by the dates for Washington's National Cherry Blossom Festival, is a month earlier.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:20 AM EST
Updated: Monday, January 15, 2007 10:21 AM EST
Stuff You Won't Read at WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Here's something WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein won't be reporting on anytime soon.

Remember Dov Hikind? He's the New York state assemblyman who pops up regularly in Klein's articles to bash Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert; Klein most recently featured Hikind's full-page ads in newspapers demanding that Olmert resign.

It turns out those ads are causing some trouble for Hikind. According to the New York paper The Jewish Week, the ads solicited donations for a group called Yad Moshe. But the ad instructed donors to send money not to the address of the charity but, rather, the headquarters of Hikind’s campaign finance committee. Not only does it apparently violate campaign finance law, it may violate charity law and could case Yad Moshe to lose its tax-exempt status.

Further, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, the head of Yad Moshe, pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 1996 and served 10 months in prison for the felony, not to mention being under investigation earlier this decade for securities fraud, according to The Jewish Week.

As we said, don't count on any of this showing up at WND. Like the extremist backgrounds of the Kahane supporters he interviews (Hikind is also a Kahane disciple), such adverse information about an political ally simply dosen't exist as far as WND is concerned. 


Posted by Terry K. at 1:41 AM EST

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