NewsBusters' Meister Just Can't Stop Lying About Plame Topic: NewsBusters
Pam Meister begins her Aug. 3 NewsBusters post by writing, "The saying goes, if you tell a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it." She should know, since telling lies is exactly what she tries to do here.
In her attempt to disprove an assertion that Valerie Plame is an "ex-spy," Meister writes that "it's been established that Plame was not covert at the time that Robert Novak, via (as we now know) Richard Armitage, first mentioned Plame in one of his columns. Her own husband, Joseph Wilson, said as much when he appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzer back in 2005," citing Wilson's statement that "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity." But as Media Matters points out, Wilson was saying that Plame ceased being a clandestine officer "the day that Bob Novak blew her identity."
Meister continues: "In fact, there was no violation of any laws concerning covert agents whatsoever." Her "proof" of this is a February 2005 NewsMax article repeating an assertion by conservative activist Victoria Toensing making that claim. In fact, as Media Matters also points out, the Washington Post op-ed by Toensing that NewsMax referenced makes several false or misleading claims about the case and fails to mention Toensing's longtime friendship with Novak, whcih arguably colors her perception of the case.
Meister also asserted that "Plame was not 'unmasked' as she had no cover to blow. She was, at that point, an analyst with a desk job, not risking her life undercover in Russia or the Middle East." In fact, Fitzgerald found that "It was clear from very early in the investigation that Ms. Wilson qualified under the relevant statute (Title 50, United States Code, Section 421) as a covert agent whose identity had been disclosed by public officials, including Mr. Libby, to the press. From Fitzgerald's "unclassified summary" of Plame's CIA employment history (via Media Matters):
On 1 January 2002, Valerie Wilson was working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as an operations officer in the Directorate of Operations (DO). She was assigned to the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) at CIA Headquarters, where she served as the Chief of a CPD component with responsibility for weapons proliferation issues related to Iraq.
While assigned to CPD, Ms. Wilson engaged in temporary duty (TDY) travel overseas on official business. She traveled at least seven times to more than ten countries. When traveling overseas, Ms. Wilson always traveled under a cover identity -- sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official cover (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA.
At the time of the initial unauthorized disclosure in the media of Ms. Wilson's employment relationship with the CIA on 14 July 2003, Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.
Interestingly, according to her NewsBusters bio, Meister "did her senior thesis on bias in media." By regurtitating false and misleading conservative talking points and ignoring the truth about Plame, Meister is certainly adding to media bias.
Morgan Misrepresents Ron Paul Topic: WorldNetDaily
In her Aug. 3 WorldNetDaily column, Melanie Morgan misrepresented Ron Paul's claims about the relationship of American foreign policy to terrorism:
Quixotic presidential candidate Ron Paul explained on Bill Maher's left-wing cable show that we were responsible for the acts of violence by Islamic jihadists.
According to Paul and others, the bombing of the USS Cole, the 1993 World Trade Center attack and thousands – yes, thousands – of previous acts of terrorism by the jihadists are really our fault. These people are either ignorant of history or are intentionally dishonest in an effort to advance their misguided ideology.
In fact, Paul never said that "we were responsible for the acts of violence by Islamic jihadists"; he specifically assigned blame on the "blowback" of U.S. foreign policy to the policy itself. From the May 25 edition of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher":
PAUL: I think it's been known for quite a few decades that our foreign policy has what the CIA calls blowback. It has unintended consequences. You can go back to 1953, when we put the Shah into power, or us supporting Osama bin Laden and radicalizing the Islamics to go after the Soviets, and that comes back as blowback. Our support for Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. And this comes back to haunt us.
MAHER: I know that some people have tried to get you out of the Republican debates and to just make you go up to the blackboard and write a thousand times, "They hate us for our freedom."
PAUL: That's right.
MAHER: But you won't do that.
PAUL: But we have Mr. Giuliani studying tonight. He's home reading all those books. And he's going to come back and he's going to apologize to me. And he's going to say, "I'm sorry, Ron, I just didn't know that that's the way foreign policy works. I didn't even know that you just can't blame Americans for our foreign policy, that it's the policy that's at fault. It's not the fault of the Americans who are victimized by these evil, monstrous, murderous people who come over and kill us. It's the fault of the policymakers. It's policy that counts."
Morgan also curiously leaves out the fact that Paul is a Republican in an effort to tie him to "left-wing" Maher.
TimesWatch's Clinton Equivocation Topic: Media Research Center
Joining NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield in going into Clinton Equivocation mode on the ties between Rudy Giuliani and Rupert Murdoch -- as detailed in a New York Times article -- is TimesWatch's Clay Waters, who echoed the lament that Bill Clinton's ties to Rick Kaplan are much more important and to downplay the Giuliani-Murdoch link.
Waters was quick to dismiss Giuliani's disproportionate airtime on Fox News: "Since Giuliani has been leading the Republican field in almost all the polls taken so far, it's hardly a surprise that he would also lead in coverage at Fox News. And it's not exactly out of character for Sean Hannity, who is after all paid to have opinions, to favor a particular Republican candidate." Don't expect anyone at the MRC to avoid criticizing, say, Keith Olbermann because he "is after all paid to have opinions."
Waters glossed over Giuliani's efforts to have Time Warner, the cable TV company in New York City, to carry Fox News, saying only that "Giuliani tried (and failed) to convince Time Warner to add the then-fledgling cable channel." In fact, as the Times article noted, the Giuliani administration announced plans to broadcast Fox News on a municipal-run station, an action a federal judge blocked after calling it "special advocacy" to "reward a friend and to further a particular viewpoint."
A blurb currently on the Media Research Center's front page linking to Waters' item carries the headline, "A Double Standard on Media Conflicts." Isn't the real double standard the MRC's refusal to condemn a "media conflict" among conservatives that it purports to find offensive when liberals are involved?
Gladnick Won't Admit That Libby Was Plame Leaker Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 3 NewsBusters post by P.J. Gladnick attacks Alec Baldwin for stating that, in a Huffington Post item on what he'd do if he were president, he would "prosecute whoever is responsible for outing Valerie Plame as a CIA agent" by insisting that Richard Armitage -- and only Armitage -- leaked Valerie Plame's name:
At this point you would think that Baldwin would lash out at the leaker, Richard Armitage, or at Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald for protecting Armitage by failing to prosecute him despite knowing that Armitage was the guilty one from the very beginning of his laughable investigation.
All this outrage and Baldwin still continues to miss the obvious targets of Armitage and Fitzgerald.
Of course, facts won't deter Baldwin from flailing foolishly away. He concludes his blog with another demand for the prosecution of whoever leaked (hint: Richard Armitage) the sacred name of St. Valerie:
And, Alec, you owe us an explanation of how you could write an entire rant about prosecuting whoever leaked Valerie Plame's name without once mentioning the name of the leaker, Richard Armitage, or the Special Counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, who refused to prosecute him.
Nowhere does Gladnick even mention the name Scooter Libby, despite the fact that Libby did in fact also leak Plame's identity to reporters. Gladnick -- like fellow NewsBusters Noel Sheppard and Mark Finkelstein -- is making the absurd argument that because Armitage leaked Plame's name to Robert Novak, and Novak was the first to report it ahead of the reporters to whom Libby leaked, Libby's leak somehow magically didn't happen.
Kincaid's Old-News Attack Topic: Accuracy in Media
An Aug. 1 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid asserts that Rupert Murdoch should "clean house" of the "liberal and left-wing writers" at his newly acquired Wall Street Journal. But Kincaid offers no evidence of "liberal and left-wing" journalism currently being practiced at the Journal; in fact, he spends much of his column attacking someone who hasn't worked at the Journal for 35 years.
A. Kent MacDougall, Kincaid tells us, "declared that Karl Marx was his favorite journalist" and "generated some controversy in the late 1980s when he wrote two articles for the socialist Monthly Review about 'boring from within' at the Journal and the Los Angeles Times." MacDougall's most dastardly deed, according to Kincaid? "MacDougall had boasted in the Monthly Review about how he was able to get front-page articles in the Journal that favorably portrayed left-wing economists and their ideas." Horrors! But, as Kincaid also notes, "He left the Journal in 1972."
Kincaid notes another Journal reporter, Jonathan Kwitny, who allegedly "also achieved notoriety for writing major articles with a left-wing slant." But one of the stories he cites -- "attacking the Reagan Administration's anti-communist effort in El Salvador" -- betrays the old-news aspect of this allegation as well.
The only contemporary evidence Kincaid cites comes not from the Journal's news pages but from its notoriously conservative editorial page -- which apparently aren't conservative enough for Kincaid because of its "radical commitment to open borders and free trade at any cost."
An accompanying press release similarly fails to offer contemporary evidence of the bias he alleges, and it cites the case of MacDougall without noting he hadn't worked for the paper in 35 years.
Sheffield's Clinton Equivocation Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 2 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield takes your usual Clinton Equivocation-style attack, asserting that Bill Clinton's relationship with former CNN head Rick Kaplan is much more important and serious than Rudy Giuliani's relationship with Fox News head Roger Ailes, as detailed in a New York Times article, even though they are quite similar.
While recounting a long list of bullet points about Klein and Clinton, Sheffield would say only that Giuliani and Ailes "are friends and have done a few activities together," not mentioning that one of those activities involved Giuliani presiding over Ailes' marriage. Sheffield asserted that "Kaplan skewed coverage in favor of his friend," but he didn't note that the article's claim that Giuliani has appeared on Fox News more than any other presidential candidate.
Among Sheffield's bullet points of Kaplan's sins was that he "had been a political operative for a liberal presidential candidate before jumping to journalism," but Sheffield failed to note Ailes' history as a conservative political operative and media consultant for three Republican presidents before jumping to journalism.
Ignoring those points allowed Sheffield to claim that the only "dirt" the Times article had was that "Giuliani tried to get his city to carry FNC shortly after its launch when local cable monopoly TimeWarner, then in the process of buying CNN." What Sheffield fails to note: the Giuliani administration said it would broadcast Fox News on a municipal-run station, an action a federal judge blocked after calling it "special advocacy" to "reward a friend and to further a particular viewpoint."
In other words, your classic Clinton Equvocation double standard -- it's offensive to Sheffield when a Clinton does it, but not when a conservative does it.
We nailed Media Mythbusters' Lorie Byrd on a false claim, forced her to issue a correction, and now fellow MMB blogger Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, in a July 29 post, is suggesting we're dishonest.
ConWebWatch who touts themselves as a media watchdog site seems to be very bothered by the fact that the current contributors to Media Mythbusters are all conservative. This is true… However, we launched only a week ago and have had a number of tips from contributors not listed who are liberal. The point to this venture is to expose misrepresentations in the media, falsehoods, mistakes and items that need correction. Frankly, being conservative or liberal has nothing to do with it. Facts are facts and truth is truth. But we would like to thank those detractors linking to us for the exposure and the competition. The more the web keeps the media honest, the better we like it - whether we do the exposing or someone else does. There’s enough work to go around for everyone.
The one item I did take an exception to was the dig at Lorie Byrd and her correction on the Sunni Burning Six story. Lorie candidly did a correction and did what she felt was right - she should be lauded for this, not criticized. When I see ConWebWatch do a correction or retraction, maybe I’ll take them a bit more seriously. Right now it sounds like serious sour grapes.
That's a weird statement: "When I see ConWebWatch do a correction or retraction, maybe I’ll take them a bit more seriously." Is Monroe-Hamilton suggesting we've made false statements? If so, she should back that up; we don't like being accused of something we didn't do. If I have made any significantly false claims, the websites I write about would have made a big stink about it by now in order to discredit me, and, well, they haven't. And by the way, we have issued corrections when we've gotten things wrong (here and here, for example).
And "serious sour grapes"? Please. ConWebWatch been in the misinformation-correction business a lot longer than Media Mythbusters has, so we know what we're doing; in addition, we work for a certain other media watchdog. We do, however, profess amazement that Byrd has such an "in" at a metropolitan daily newspaper that she can commandeer precious free space within to promote her nacent venture, while the rest of us have to write letters to that same paper to get our views across and then hope that the editor decides to print them. The "sour grapes" appear to be on the part of Media Mythbusters for our having caught Byrd in her error.
While we may have been gloating a bit about this, we somehow doubt that Byrd would not have corrected it on her own if we had not written the Examiner -- after all, it was not until that letter was published that Byrd issued her correction. Byrd's claim that the AP "retracted" the "Sunni Burning Six" story would otherwise have become another misleading conservative meme.
P.S.: Monroe-Hamilton asks in another July 29 post: "Why would the media blithely believe sources within our enemies’ ranks?" Good question. Go ask Aaron Klein.
A July 31 CNSNews.com column by Kevin Martin -- a member of the black-conservative group Project 21, just like Erebus-obsessedMychal Massie -- makes misleading claims about auto efficiency and safety, gratutiously slamming the hapless AMC Pacer in the process.
After noting that Barack Obama doesn't drive a hybrid car despite supporting increased fuel efficiency, Martin writes:
I choose to drive a Suzuki Grand Vitara. It gets me 18 miles per gallon inthe city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway. I need an SUV because my job as an environmental contractor requires me to carry both equipment and people to building sites. I can't do that in a hybrid Honda Insight.
Besides, I can't even buy a Honda Insight anymore. Honda discontinued it last year due to poor sales, and it just announced it is discontinuing its Accord hybrid for the same reason.
Aside from falsely suggesting that the Honda insight and Accord are the only hybrids on the market and nobody wants to buy them (has he never heard of the Toyota Prius) Martin is suggesting he would buy a hybrid SUV. Allow us to suggest the Ford Escape, the Mercury Mariner, or (if Martin can afford it, which his wingnut welfare just might do) the Lexus RX400 -- all hybrid SUVs of which beat his Grand Vitara in mileage and can still haul his equipment and people.
Then, after claiming that "approximately 2,000 deaths per year since 1975 can be attributed to smaller vehicles that were downsized to increase their fuel efficiency," Martin adds: "Raising fuel economy requirements again wil make the reincarnation of a car-safety blunder like the AMC Pacer almost a certainty."
Huh? While there were many issues with the Pacer (not the least of which is that Garth drove one), safety was not one of them. In fact, it was designed to incorporate many safety features. It was also not as fuel-efficient as intended; designed around a Wankel engine that GM ended up canceling, the Pacer used heavy, inefficient engines from other AMC cars and actually got somewhat worse mileage than Martin's Grand Vitara.
Martin needs to do a bit more research on hybrids before putting pen to paper again -- and not lie about AMC products.
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell's Aug. 1 column takes a stab at a quasi-defense of Alberto Gonzales -- not by actually defending the guy, but by attacking his attackers, specifically Sen. Charles Schumer, and rather lamely playing the Clinton Equivocation card by rehashing misleading Clinton-scandal talking points. Bozell writes:
How many Democrats would suggest that Hillary Clinton should resign, or should have never run for office, for hiding Rose Law Firm documents from the special prosecutor in the Whitewater investigation for several years (until they were discovered near her private office in the White House quarters)? Special prosecutor Robert Ray found Hillary Clinton provided factually false statements to the special prosecutor in the Travel Office case. Neither Rep. Schumer nor Sen. Schumer cared.
Bozell, of course, leaves out important information in order to bash the Clintons. He offers no evidence that Clinton was deliberately "hiding" the records, nor does he note that the records don't implicate her in any way in the Whitewater scandal. And Bozell conveniently ignores that Ray also ruled regarding the travel office:
The decision to fire the Travel Office employees was a lawful one. The Travel Office employees served at the pleasure of President Bill Clinton, and they were subject to discharge without cause.
[T]he evidence is insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either Mr. Watkins or Mrs. Clinton committed perjury or obstruction of justice during the course of their testimony before GAO, the Congress, and this investigation.
Thus, absent persuasive, corroborated, and admissible evidence to the contrary, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Clinton's statements to this Office or to Congress were knowingly false.
This controversy is supposedly about the dismissal of seven U.S. Attorneys. So where was Chuck Schumer when the Clinton administration dismissed all 93 U.S. Attorneys in 1993? Back then, it was perfectly fine. Now he’s outraged. No one in the “news” media cares about the hypocrisy.
As we've repeatedlydocumented, there's no comparison -- no matter how much Bozell and his MRC minions insist there is -- between the Clinton's dismissal of U.S. attorneys at the start of his administration and the Bush administration's dismissal of attorneys he appointed, apparently because they refused to inject politics into their prosecutions.
Folger Apologizes for Using Neo-Nazi Source Topic: WorldNetDaily
Ed Brayton reports that WorldNetDaily columnist Janet Folger has posted an addendum to her July 24 column in which she apologizes for using a racist neo-Nazi as a source of information. Brayton notes that she doesn't address or correct the other false claims in her column: "I think that speaks volumes - the truth doesn't matter, only the perception that she might be associated with a racist matters."
WorldNetDaily has begun its passive-aggressive protest of Tony Snow. Instead of Les Kinsolving attending White House press briefings, WND is posting on its website "one question from WND, one proposed from among WND's millions of readers and two from Kinsolving." The questions from Kinsolving for July 31 are the frivolous kind we've come to expect from him. Here's one:
In the president's speech to the American Legislative Exchange Council in Philadelphia, the transcript quotes him as saying, on page 7, "I believe you'll be driving to work over the next couple of years in an automobile powered by electricity and it won't have to look like a golf cart. Question: Is that possibly a typo with the word years instead of decades?
That's just a snarky smear of electric cars. Snow certainly does not need to wastte his time answering it.
Meanwhile, in that July 31 article containing the day's questions, WND is engaging in revisionist history regarding its dispute with Snow. WND asserts that "Within one week's time Snow refused to take any Kinsolving questions during three out of four daily White House press briefings" without offering evidence that Snow is legally or traditionally compelled to take questions from Kinsolving.
Further, WND makes no mention all of Snow's base complaing with Kinsolving: that he twisted Snow's words in a WND article. As we've detailed, WND has never addressed this complaint.
We're not exactly sure what all this passive-aggressiveness is supposed to accomplish. Joseph Farah's purported goal is for Snow to treat Kinsolving with respect, but 1) Kinsolving's historyshows he doesn't exactly deserve it; 2) you don't see other reporters whining when mean ol' Tony doesn't treat them with the respect they think they deserve; and 3) WND hasn't addressed Snow's base concern and has, in fact, exaberated it by telling its readers an increasingly misleading story about what happened -- not exactly the best way to get back in Snow's good graces.
Mychal Massie reprises his favorite (non)word in a July 31 WorldNetDaily column comparing "Michael Vick's alleged involvement in dog fighting" with the alleged "40,000 black children a month ... ripped apart in what should be their most sacred sanctuary" -- with a little explanation:
The Erebusic evil of child genocide, black child genocide specifically, must be stopped. And for those Magdalenian liberals who are as unfamiliar with the name Erebus as they are Greek Mythology, Gene Wolf or Anne Rice – abortion is indeed the very personification of the darkness and hell that shadows our society.
The WND database shows five columns in which Massie has used the word -- three in the pastmonth. While the dictionary does note the existence of Erebus, it contains no provision for using the name as a adjective.
A Double Standard on Campaign Hires Topic: NewsBusters
Remember when the MRC folks got all het up over the John Edwards campaign hiring two bloggers for low-level posts who wrote things prior to their hiring that the MRC didn't like? Brent Bozell treated the bloggers' views as Edwards' own, as the headline "John Edwards Maligns Faith" attests. Months after the bloggers were forced to resign, the MRC was still ranting about "John Edwards' bigoted bloggers."
Fast-forward to a July 29 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston regarding another controversial hire by another presidential candidate. But the treatment is much, much different.
Huston reported on the Fred Thompson campaign's hiring of former congressman Spencer Abraham. Described in some news reports as a "campaign manager," Huston declares that "Spence" (as Huston affectionately calls him -- interesting that he feels close enough to Abraham to call him that) "will be a mere campaign advisor and 'ambassador' to Washington, NOT the campaign manager," adding "Abraham is not in the decision making position that other news media is assuming he is going to be." Either way, though, Spence is in a pretty high-level position in the campaign.
Why is that noteworthy? Because Abraham has been accused of being "anti-Israel," not a popular stance in the Republican Party and certainly not a part of the platform of any Republican presidential candidate.
While Huston acknowledges the issue, he doesn't rush to hang Abraham's views around Thompson's neck, as his fellow MRC writers did with Edwards and the bloggers, or even make an effort to confirm or deny that characterization of Abraham's views. Rather, in addition to demonstrating that Abraham will not be in a "decision making position" in Thompson's campaign, Huston digs up several examples to show that "Thompson does not have a record of being anti-Israel," concluding, "Man. None of THAT seems too anti-Israel!!"
Would Huston and the rest of the NewsBusters gang be as charitable if a person with Abraham's views had hired onto a Democratic campaign? As the Edwards case demonstrates, not a chance. It's just another double standard.
New Article: A Nostalgia for Racism Topic: The ConWeb
Will those conservatives who support a return to restrictive 1920s-era immigration laws acknowledge the racist and eugenicist origins of those laws? Read more.
NewsBusters' Matthew Balan went on a tirade Monday, devoting two entire posts to attacking liberal blogger Max Blumenthal, as well as CNN's featuring of Blumenthal's video nailing College Republicans who support the Iraq war but won't enter the military.
Balan's first July 30 post smears Blumenthal as a "left-wing hack" and his video as a "hack job," but he offers no evidence of the "hackery" he accuses Blumenthal of. Balan is also inordinately fond of saying "left-wing"; he makes use of the terms "left-wing Internet clips," "left-wing Internet production," "Blumenthal’s left-wing associations," "the left-wing writer," and "left-wing partisan journalist."
In his other post, Balan again references "Blumenthal latest [sic] left-wing hack job." he also takes issue with the CNN descriptor "a man named Max Blumenthal":
Blumenthal is not merely a "writer" and/or a "man." He has written for "The Nation" magazine, "The Huffington Post," and for "Media Matters for America," the left-wing "watchdog" group. All three institutions are part of the radical left-wing, a label that Blumenthal apparently rejects, as [CNN's Josh] Levs repeated in the first segment.
Crikey! We work for a "radical left-wing" institution? But since the Media Research Center -- where Balan is a news analyst -- is the ideological opposite of Media Matters, doesn't that mean the MRC is a "radical right-wing" institution? And, thus, shouldn't Balan refer to the MRC as that? We will.
Further, Balan gets it wrong by claiming that the College Republicans video was not "Blumenthal['s] latest left-wing hack job." That was posted July 19; Blumenthal's actual latest video, posted July 27, takes a look inside John Hagee's Christians-for-Israel gathering.
UPDATE: Brent Baker toned down Balan's rhetoric in turning the posts into a July 31 CyberAlert item, deleting Balan's "hack" attacks and his description of Media Matters, et al, as "radical left-wing" institutions.