WND Still Doesn't Support Pro-Lifers' Libel Claim Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 25 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh reported that "pro-life protesters who are opposing the opening of a mega-clinic abortion facility" in Illinois are filing a libel lawsuit against Planned Parenthood for "publicly accusing peaceful pro-life activists of having a record of advocating violence." Unruh repeats claims by the lawyer for the activists, that the acts of violence it cited are a "legal nullity" because the case in which they were cited -- a lawsuit by the National Organization of Women claiming that violent abortion protests fell under federal RICO organized crime statute -- was ruled against by the U.S. Supreme Court.
As we noted when Unruh last reported on this, the fact that the RICO ruling does not necessarily mean the alleged incidents cited as support in that case didn't happen, as Unruh and the "pro-life activsts" appear to be suggesting. None of the specific claims made by Planned Parenthood against Joe Scheidler and his Pro Life Action Network are refuted by Unruh, Scheidler or his attorney. (Scheidler now runs the Pro-Life Action League, which is spearheading opposition to the Illinois clinic.)
The Thomas More Society, the conservative legal group by whom, according to WND, the "lawsuit is being prepared," has not yet posted the lawsuit on its website. One would presume such a lawsuit would specifically refute those claims.
Posted by Terry K.
at 7:56 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 8:01 PM EDT
Ronald Kessler begins his Sept. 26 NewsMax column by claiming, "As Hillary Clinton rises in the polls, her nose grows longer and longer." But it's Kessler who has the proboscis problems.
Kessler started by asserting:
To be sure, she has never had any shame about making stories up out of thin air. After 9/11, Clinton appeared on national TV and claimed that when the two airplanes hit the World Trade Center, her daughter Chelsea was going to jog at Battery Park near the towers, where she heard and saw the catastrophe unfold.
Clinton’s arrogance was so profound that she did not coordinate the story with Chelsea, who wrote an article for Talk in which she described what she had been doing that day. According to Chelsea, she was on the other side of town in a friend’s apartment on Park Avenue South. She watched the events unfold on TV.
Kessler gets the story slightly closer to the truth this time by using something approximating Hillary's actual words from a September 2001 appearance on NBC's "Today": Hillary did indeed say that Chelsea "was going to go down to Battery Park, she was going to go around the towers." The last time Kessler made this claim, he falsely asserted that Hillary said that "Chelsea was actually at the World Trade Center when the bombs -- when the planes hit. She's going to Starbucks. She was jogging around. She heard the crash. She saw the smoke. Oh my God, isn't that scary."
Though he had to change Hillary's words to reflect the truth, Kessler's insistence that what Hillary said contradicts Chelsea still doesn't hold water. He offers no evidence that Chelsea wasn't planning to "jog at Battery Park near the towers."
Kessler also misleadingly describes Chelsea's location. The Talk article stated that Chelsea was in an apartment at Union Square, not "Park Avenue South," the southern terminus of which is at Union Square. (Perhaps Kessler was trying to paint Chelsea as a snobby elitist by linking her with snobby Park Avenue.) And Union Square, also known as the Flatiron district, is not on "the other side of town"; it's about two miles away from the World Trade Center site.
Kessler then stated:
Nor does Clinton’s hypocrisy have any limits. When asked about the recent MoveOn.org ad suggesting that Gen. David Petraeus has betrayed the country, Clinton on "Meet the Press" on Sept. 23 called for an end to such attacks. “I don’t condone anything like that, and I have voted against those who would impugn the patriotism and the service of the people who wear the uniform of our country,” she said.
Yet three days earlier, Clinton had voted against a Senate resolution to condemn the MoveOn.org ad. Her closest competitor, Sen. Barack Obama, voted earlier that day but conveniently missed the vote condemning the ad.
But Kessler omits that, as we've noted, Clinton voted for a similar resolution that criticized not only the MoveOn ad but Republican attacks against Democratic members of the military.
Kessler also wrote:
On Sept. 23, on "Fox News Sunday," Clinton said that she has “fought hard” for body armor . . .” She added, “I’ve stood with my colleagues to fight hard for armored vehicles because we knew that they needed additional protection in Iraq and they weren’t getting it.”
Yet last May, Clinton voted against the emergency supplemental bill to provide $1.6 billion for body armor, including advanced combat helmets; $2.4 billion to help protect against improvised explosive devices; and $3 billion for mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles.
This is cribbed straight from Republican talking points. In fact, Clinton wasn't voting against body armor and combat helmets as Kessler suggests; Clinton said she voted against the bill because it didn't include a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Kessler also doesn't mention that Clinton voted for a previous version of the bill.
Kessler goes on to rewrite other sections of the same Republican National Committee press release from which he lifted the claim about Clinton voting against body armor. Is mindlessly repeating GOP talking points the best Kessler can do?
While We're On the Subject of Things NewsBusters Won't Mention... Topic: NewsBusters
A Sept. 22 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston attacked the Colorado State University student newspaper for its "F*** Bush" headine, calling the paper's editors "anti-intellectual collegians," "low-end compatriots," and "anarchist wannabes" and asserting that they "seemed to imagine that journalism should reflect some trash mouthed, morning disc jockey's schtick instead of serious, reasoned debate."
Yet nowhere on NewsBusters is any condemnation -- or, in fact, any mention whatsoever -- of the following epithets from an arguably anti-intellectual anarchist wannabe: "piece of shit," "worthless bitch," and "worthless whore."
Who said those horrible things? Ted Nugent, about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein, respectively. Nugent also told Clinton to "ride one of these into the sunset," referring to the assault rifle he was holding.
If NewsBusters is going to condemn one offensive epithet directed toward a politician, shouldn't it condemn them all?
Will NewsBusters Mention Jena Six Victim's White-Supremacist Interview? Topic: NewsBusters
We've previouslynoted the complaint at NewsBusters that news reports on the Jena Six case didn't focus sufficient attention on Justin Barker, the (white) victim of a beating by other (black) students. We wonder if NewsBusters will be so eager to draw attention to this:
No sooner did tens of thousands of African-American demonstrators depart the racially tense town of Jena, La., last week after protesting perceived injustices than white supremacists flooded in behind them.
First a neo-Nazi Web site posted the names, addresses and phone numbers of some of the six black teenagers and their families at the center of the Jena 6 case and urged followers to find them and "drag them out of the house," prompting an investigation by the FBI.
Then the leader of a white supremacist group in Mississippi published interviews that he conducted with the mayor of Jena and the white teenager who was attacked and beaten, allegedly by the six black youths. In those interviews, the mayor, Murphy McMillin, praised efforts by pro-white groups to organize counterdemonstrations; the teenager, Justin Barker, urged white readers to "realize what is going on, speak up and speak their mind."
Barker's father, David, said his family did not know the nature of [Nationalist Movement leader Richard] Barrett's group when they agreed to be interviewed, adding, "I am not a white supremacist, and neither is my son."
But Barrett said he explained his group and its beliefs to the Barker family, who then invited him to stay overnight at their home on the eve of last week's protest march.
NewsBusters hasn't mentioned it yet. Wonder if they ever will...
In a Sept. 21 article, Jones asserted that because Sen. Hillary Clinton didn't vote for an amendment condemning a MoveOn.org ad critical of Gen. David Petraeus, "she refused to support Gen. Petraeus or condemn the personal attacks on him." As we noted, Jones made no attempt to document Clinton's reasons for voting against it, nor did Jones note that Clinton voted for another amendment that did, in fact, denounce the ad (as well as Republican attacks on Democratic members of the military). Jones was pushing the logical fallacy that the only acceptable way to express disapproval of the MoveOn ad was to vote for that particular amendment -- something for which she offers no evidence to back up.
Jones threw in a related logical fallacy in a Sept. 25 article on conservative criticism of a "leather fair" in San Francisco; Jones asserted: "The City of San Francisco sanctions the event by shutting down several city blocks and providing police for security." Jones offers no support for her claim that providing city services for a public event is the same thing as offering "sanction" for that event, nor any evidence that San Francisco would refuse to "sanction" a Christian-oriented event that would require the same city services.
This appears to be yet moreevidence that fair and balanced journalism is not a priority under new CNS editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey.
CNS Didn't Identify Group As Anti-Union Topic: CNSNews.com
A Sept. 25 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall on the United Auto Workers' strike against General Motors quoted Bret Jacobson of the Center for Union Facts, but Hall offered no descriptor of the group. As Jacobsen's comments demonstrated -- "the union appears to be trying to hold onto the 1950s with all it's got," the strike "endangers one of the major employers that feed and clothe their members," "It's sad that an auto union can't steer toward the 21st century" -- the Center for Union Facts is an anti-union organization.
CNS has been more forthright about the center's biases in the past: A May 11 article called the center "one of the leading opponents of union leadership, and a March 23 article by Hall listed it among "union critics." And a February 2006 CNS article promoting the founding of the center noted that "Berman's critics complain that his advocacy groups are funded by the industries that benefit from their activities."
WND Runs to Defense of Convicted Child Killer/Homeschooler Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 23 unbylined WorldNetDaily article attempts to portray a Texas woman convicted in connection with the death of a 4-year-old she was planning to adopt as a victim of anti-Christian discrimination, but the article leaves out parts of the story in an apparent attempt to make the woman look more like a victim.
Hannah Overton was convicted of capital murder Sept. 8 in the death of 4-year-old Andrew Burd. The boy died after Overton fed him a mixture of Cajun seasoning in water, and Overton failed to promptly seek medical attention for him. Overton was sentenced on to life in prison. Her husband, Larry, also faces charges in the boy's death.
The WND article attempts a revisionist history of the case, asserting that "those who know the Overtons best aren't buying the prosecution's story and, in fact, believe evidence was distorted and doctored by district attorney's office, police department, child protective services and the news media to railroad the homeschooling, Christian couple."
The article claims that " the prosecutors used videotape images of Andrew asleep in his bed, taken from a camera placed in the room, the parents say, for the safety of their children. The recordings show Andrew sleeping on a bed stripped of a mattress. The video was shown in the courtroom by the prosecution in an effort to establish a pattern of abuse by the parents."
But evidence shows that Overton does, in fact, have a pattern of abuse. From an Oct. 20, 2006, KRIS-TV article:
Hannah Overton said she put Andrew in the bath to warm him up, but it did not work. While talking to Corpus Christi police, Hannah Overton changed her story.
"Mrs. Overton stated she fixed two sippy cups with the chili with the water and forced Andrew to drink it. The first cup to teach him a lesson, and the second as a form of punishment. At that time, Andrew fell over, hit his head and then threw up. She then picked him up and 'beat the s*** out of him,' " the affidavit states.
The report said Hannah came to the realization about what she'd done. She called her husband Larry Overton, who took the child to a health clinic, but Andrew died at Driscoll Children's Hospital. Before his death, doctors noticed even more problems.
"Andrew had what appeared to be a cigarette burn mark on his right arm, along with some bruising to the arm and leg area," doctor reports state. "Medical staff also advised that Andrew had what appeared to be scratches along the stomach and neck area."
A hearing is scheduled for Friday to determine what happens to the Overton's other four children, who are currently staying with family members. According to court documents, the Overton children told investigators little Andrew underwent stricter punishment in the home.
Isaac, 7, also told police that his brother, Andrew, is the one who got in more trouble and was never doing antyhing right. Isaac said Andrew had to stay in his room, and his mother watched him through the 'security camera' which was pointed at his bed.
Another of the Overton's children noticied problems as well. Isabel, 5, told investigators, "He gets no food, has to stay in bed, and does not get to go on trips. Isabel indicated on one occasion Andrew had to stay in bed for two nights and he could not even get up to go to the bathroom, and he had to 'poop' in the bed."
She too mentioned that the Overtons made sure Andrew stayed in bed by watching him on the camera.
As for the punishments for the Overton children, they too would get pepper or soap in their mouths for lying. The kids all seem to know there are consequences for lying or getting in trouble.
WND mentions none of this. Rather, it quotes the Overtons' pastor as claiming that "the Overtons' story about the events leading up to Andrew's death has been consistent and unwavering from the beginning." The pastor then "paints a picture of an emotionally troubled Andrew who may have also brought physical illness to the Overton family from his previous foster home."
WND also asserts that Overton "rushed [Andrew] to the hospital within one hour and 49 minutes of becoming symptomatic. Prosecutors claim it took her three hours and grilled her about not calling 911." That's a generous -- and slanted -- way of describing it. Here's how the Corpus Christi Caller-Times put it:
During the trial, prosecutors questioned why Overton and her husband made several phone calls but none to 911, and delayed taking the boy to a clinic for more than 1 1/2 hours. One of the doctors who treated the boy that day testified their delay in seeking help reduced his chances for survival.
When polled, all 12 jurors said they found her guilty because of her failure to act.
WND seems to be turning into the Cinnamon Stillwell of Christian homeschoolers -- they must be defended and whitewashed, no matter how heinous their offenses.
Kessler Fluffs Freedom's Watch Again, Avoids Funding Questions Again Topic: Newsmax
A Sept. 23 NewsMax article by Ronald Kessler is thethird he's written in the past month promoting the conservative pro-war group Freedom's Watch. And, as in the othertwo, Kessler demonstrates a suspicious lack of curiosity about the group's funding, even though 1) he declares in his new article that Fredom's Watch's funding "exceeds that of MoveOn.org" (offering no evidence of that, of course) and 2) all he has to do to tell his readers the sources of that funding is copy and paste from his employer's website -- which, as we've detailed, reveals that one major funder is John Templeton Jr., a financier with ties to NewsMax.
Graham Falsely Dismisses 'Pro-Rather' Column Topic: NewsBusters
In a Sept. 24 NewsBusters post comparing two Washington Post columns about Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS, Tim Graham writes that Eugene Robinsion's column "takes up the pro-Rather side, barely acknowledging Rather's phony documents en route to suggesting Rather 'makes a valid argument about the larger issue,' that CBS was cowardly in defending the story because corporations don't challenge the government like they used to, as in the golden days of the 'Pentagon Papers.'"
In fact, Robinson pointed out that "Internet bloggers noticed that the documents didn't look as if they had been produced by Nixon-era technology -- that in fact they looked as if they might have been written using Microsoft Word software," and he he took Rather to task for continuing to insist that the documents in question are genuine, writing, "come on, Dan, they're 'shakier than cafeteria jello.'" That's "barely acknowledging" the issue?
Graham also leaves out one crucial component of the "larger issue" Robinson was addressing: As Robinson wrote, "The point of the story, that Bush got kid-gloves treatment while he was avoiding Vietnam in the Air National Guard, didn't rest entirely on the disputed documents." As we've noted, this is a point the Media Research Center has been loath to highlight.
By contrast, Graham excerpts at length the "anti-Rather" column by Charles Lane, which repeatedly attacks Rather. Graham does note that "Lane was editor of The New Republic when Stephen Glass loaded that magazine with phony quotes and stories, so that either makes him the voice of experience, or a strange scold."
Meanwhile ... Topic: Washington Examiner
One of the reasons we suspect that the Washington Examiner's Rowan Scarborough was, um, encouraged to write a (somewhat) more balanced account of Michael Sulick's return to the CIA is that the day before it appeared in the paper, we wrote a letter to the Examiner criticizing the bias of his original article. The Examiner prints our letter today.
Kupelian Ignores Fundamentalist's Link to Yates Case Topic: WorldNetDaily
On Aug. 14, WorldNetDaily published an article by David Kupelian that appeared in the July issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine, devoted to attacking psychiatric drugs. which he promoted on radio shows on Sept. 4 and Sept. 14. The article seeks to explain "why so many Americans today are 'mentally ill,' " insists that mental illness is actually spiritual illness that can be "cured" not by psychiatric druge but by getting right with Kupelian's fundamentalist God. Kupelian adds that only "rarely" are there "appropriate times and places to use these medications," adding: "We would do better to stop blaming all our psychological-spiritual problems on chemical imbalances."
One of the cases Kupelian cites is that of Andrea Yates, who killed her five children. Kupelian cited testimony in which Yates claimed to have been possessed by Satan, which he blamed on the antidepressant she was taking; after the Yates case, Kupelian wrote, the drug's maker 'quietly added 'homicidal ideation' to the drug's list of 'rare adverse events.'"
But Kupelian doesn't mention one crucial part of Yates' history: her and her husband's links to a fundamentalist Christian preacher Michael Woroniecki. As the Court TV Crime Library details:
Yet soon after Noah was born, Andrea began to have violent visions: she saw someone being stabbed. She thought she heard Satan speak to her. However, she and her husband had idealistic, Bible-inspired notions about family and motherhood, so she kept her tormenting secrets to herself. She didn't realize how much mental illness there was in her own family, from depression to bipolar disorder—which can contribute to postpartum psychosis. In her initial stages, she remained undiagnosed and untreated. She kept her secrets from everyone.
Rusty introduced Andrea to a preacher who had impressed him in college, a man named Michael Woroniecki. He was a sharp-witted, sharp-tongued, self-proclaimed "prophet" who preached a simple message about following Jesus but who was so belligerent in public about sinners going to hell (which included most people) that he was often in trouble. He even left Michigan, according to Mugshots, to avoid prosecution.
Woroniecki spent a lot of time in his street sermons and letters to correspondents judging them for their sins and warning them about losing God's love. In particular, he emphasized that people were accountable for children, and woe to the person who might cause even one to stumble. He once stated, "I feel like I need a sledge hammer to get you to listen." He denounced Catholicism, the religion with which Andrea had grown up, and stressed the sinful state of her soul.
He also preached austerity, and his ideas were probably instrumental in the way the Yateses decided to live. As Andrea had one child after another, she took on the task of home-schooling them with Christian-only texts and trying to do what the Woroniecki and his wife, Rachel, told her.
"From the letters I have that Rachel Woroniecki wrote to Andrea," says Suzy Spencer on Mugshots, "it was, 'You are evil. You are wicked. You are a daughter of Eve, who is a wicked witch. The window of opportunity for us to minister to you is closing. You have to repent now.'"
According to a former follower, the religion preached by the Woronieckis involves the idea that women have Eve's witch nature and need to be subservient to men. The preacher judged harshly those mothers who were permissive and who allowed their children to go in the wrong direction. In other words, if the mother was going to Hell for some reason, so would the children.
After two more children had come along, Rusty decided to "travel light," and made his small family sell their possessions and live first in a recreational vehicle and then in a bus that Woroniecki had converted for his religious crusade and sold to them.
She continued to correspond with the Woronieckis and to receive their warnings. They thought it was better to kill oneself than to mislead a child in the way of Jesus—a sentiment she would repeat later in prison interviews.
Not surprisingly, she sank into a depression. She was lonely. She tried to be a good mother, but the pressures were building.
By using Yates as an example, Kupelian suggests that Yates would have been fine if only she'd let Jesus "cast out" the voices in her head by embracing Kupelian's fundamentalist view of the world. But Yates was already in thrall to a fundamentalist street preacher -- the kind WorldNetDaily writers have lionized when they lead aggressively disruptive anti-gay protests -- who did nothing to help her and may have actually exacerbated her illness.
But that would have disproved his point and ruined his article. No wonder Kupelian didn't mention it.
Scarborough's CIA Follow-Up More Balanced, Still Biased Topic: Washington Examiner
Rowan Scarborough's Sept. 21 Washington Examiner follow-up article on the return of Michael Sulick manages not to be as blatantly slanted as his first effort announcing it on Sept. 14, but it's still pretty clear where Scarborough's sympathies lie.
Scarborough begins the article by featuring Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra's objections to Sulick's return, calling it "a decision made by Gen. [Michael] Hayden [the current CIA director] that is clearly a poke in the eye of his predecessor, Porter Goss, but more importantly it’s a stick in the eye of the president." Hoekstra added, "Sulick did undercut Porter and Porter’s agenda and thereby undercut the president’s agenda." Scarborough doesn't explain further, even though he's suggesting that by rehiring Sulick, Hayden is not following "the president's agenda."
Only after getting this attack out of the way does Scarborough attend to the fact that "The CIA Thursday provided a fierce defense of the veteran covert officer." But then he returns to his previous mode of painting Goss as a great reformer whose plans faced "stiff opposition from the Langley headquarters." This is followed by quoting Hoekstra asserting, "It’s clear under Gen. Hayden that reform will not take place. ... He’s made his decision that he will buy in with the group of people at the CIA who believed there are no problems at the CIA." Again, no evidence is offered by Scarborough or Hoekstra to support the assertion that CIA employees "believe there are no problems at the CIA" or that the only way to solve those alleged problems was to do whatever Goss ordered.
So, to sum up: Scarborough still loves Goss and hates Sulick, but was possibly, um, encouraged by the Examiner to write a more balanced article about Sulick's rehiring. Scarborough's biases are not as nakedly expressed as they were in his first article, but they are unmistakbly there.
NewsBusters Still Obsessed With Mildly Hurt Jena Six Victim
A Sept. 21 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard continues NewsBusters' growing obsession with the white victim in the Jena Six case, insisting that "the name of the white boy who was beaten by the 'Jena 6,' Justin Barker, is rarely mentioned, and the assault which precipitated the arrest of the '6' is either ignored, or downplayed."
But Sheppard fails to highlight that Barker spent only a very brief time in the hospital being treated for his injuries in the assault, and he doesn't mention at all the fact that the evening of the assault, Barker felt well enough to attend a high school ring ceremony.
Nor does Sheppard address one of the sailient issues in the case: that the Jena Six originally faced attempted murder charges for an attack in which the victim was essentially treated and released.
While Sheppard invokes the Duke rape case to show how the media likes to focus on the victim, he fails to mention a more appropriate comparison: prosecutorial misconduct. In addition to the attempted-murder charge, the conviction of one of the Jena Six, Mychal Bell, was overturned because the judge ruled Bell not have been charged in adult court.
In another Sept. 21 post, Sheppard praised a column by Kansas City Star sportswriter Jason Whitlock -- whom Sheppard proudly noted had "called Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton terrorists during April's Don Imus controversy" -- for writing that that Barker "was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes." Sheppard put the statment in boldface and harrumphed, "As NewsBusters noted, media have almost universally ignored or downplayed this." But immediately after that statement -- which Sheppard copied-and-pasted but did not boldface -- Whitlock also noted that Barker "sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack." That, presumably, is not something Sheppard wants highlighted.
AIM has Trouble Backing Up Claim That Bush-National Guard Report Was 'Bogus' Topic: Accuracy in Media
A Sept. 21 Accuracy in Media column by Roger Aronoff on Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS described the 2004 CBS report on President Bush's National Guard service supported in part by questionably sourced memos as making "explosive but false charges" and was "bogus almost from start to finish."
But as we've noted, nowhere to our knowledge has AIM examined every claim made in the CBS report in detail to determine their accuracy what evidence exists to support them -- and what claims were rendered "false" by the questionable documents. The only article Aronoff links to in support of his assertion is a Cliff Kincaid column citing the Thornburgh-Boccardi report's description of one misleading claim. But one claim is not the entire CBS story.
Aronoff and Kincaid may work for Accuracy in Media, but he shows no apparent interest in venturing beyond right-wing talking points by explicitly outlining for its readers everything what was accurate, or not, in the CBS report -- something it joins the Media Research Center in strangely shying away from.
Posted by Terry K.
at 12:37 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, September 22, 2007 12:38 AM EDT