The MRC's Tim Graham has a bad habit of ascribing political motives to arts reviewers, claiming that the only reason they would praise a liberal-themed production is because they agree with the message, or would pan a conservative-themed production only because they disagree with the message. For instance, we've noted that Graham has criticized reviewers who like the radical rap group the Coup, suggesting that the only reason any reviewer would give the group top ratings is out of sympathy with its left-wing politics.
Graham serves up more arts criticism -- and criticism of the critics -- in two recent posts. In an Oct. 26 post, Graham complained that Washington Post reviewer Desson Thompson gave the film "Bella" -- being touted in conservative circles for, in the words of the MRC's Brent Bozell, being about a woman who considers abortion but "decides to carry her baby to term" -- "was picked to pieces as a cheesy bore" and "panned as an 'endless' fiasco," suggesting this was solely because the film is "vaguely pro-life." By contrast, Graham asserted, Post reviewer Stephen Hunger was "boosting the liberal documentary 'For the Bible Tells Me So' as not only moving but superbly thought out," adding, "Perhaps this is Hunter's way of strolling away from the office heat over his Michael Moore bashing" -- a reference to Hunter's negative review (as praised by Graham) of Moore's film "Sicko."
But doesn't Hunter's negative review of "Sicko" indicate that, in fact, he's driven by the quality of the film, not the message? And isn't Graham a bit too obsessed with a film's political message to give an honest review of a film's overall quality? Indeed, Graham continues: "But couldn't Thomson's criticism be applied to the gay film? Christian families in a liberal film struggle with a gay family member, and they all reconcile and agree the Bible's outdated. Where is the surprise, the dramatic tension in that?" He then praises the New York Times for "pann[ing] the film's artlessness, even as it endorsed its identity politics."
Graham did claim that "it's important that newspaper film critics review a movie first as a work of art, and then perhaps assess the political or cultural or moral messages within" -- which suggests he has a basic understanding of the role of the critic -- but then claimed that the reviewers' reactions to "Bella" and "For the Bible Tells Me So" "seemed to be based strongly on political criteria." Yet Graham offers no evidence to support this claim or to contradict anything Thompson and Hunter stated in their reviews.
Meanwhile, in a Nov. 5 post, Graham suggested that anyone who liked NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams' appearance on "Saturday Night Live" was a member of the media elite (read: liberal media). While Graham's own somewhat tepid assessment of Williams was "solid, not hilarious," TV critics "swoon[ed]" and were "chummy."
Again, Graham seems to be projecting his own personal opinions before a genuine artistic assessment. In a July 21 post, Graham mocked Williams as a "pompous snob" after Williams criticized bloggers as "a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years." Graham likened Williams to a "snobbish, pompous jerk who thinks he's bringing the gift of his enlightenment to all the rubes in their efficiency apartments."
Meanwhile ... Topic: NewsBusters Think Progress and Swampland's Ana Marie Cox give Warner Todd Huston's massive NewsBusters diatribe against the new Eagles album the attention it deserves: Cox suggests that Huston's rant is "the product of some kind of meth-and-Doritos rage binge."
Horowitz Site Falsely Attacks Illegal Immigrants Topic: Horowitz
An item on the Horowitz-operated Discover the Networks site -- under the headline "ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: COSTS, CRIMES, AND THE PROBLEMS IT CREATES" -- selectively quotes from a Nov. 4 WorldNetDaily article on numerous workers at a chicken processing plant in Alabama. DTN clips the following statements from the WND article:
“… Both employees with active TB are Hispanics born in countries where the disease is prevalent, heath officials said.
“… Accompanied by the rise in illegal immigration, tuberculosis is making a comeback in the U.S., often eluding diagnosis by doctors who are unfamiliar with the disease.”
The item goes on to direct readers to "learn more about the many financial, medical, and social costs associated with illegal immigration."
But "illegal immigration" is not an issue here. Nowhere does DTN note, as the WND article did (albeit buried), that according to a spokesman for the plant, "despite the large number of foreign-born Hispanic employees working at the Decatur facility, all have been verified as legally working in the U.S." This undermines DTN's assertion that illegal immigration is responsible for the TB outbreak.
Sheppard Promotes Another Dubious Denier Topic: NewsBusters
In an Nov. 4 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard touts a lecture by "Australian research professor Bob Carter," who purportedly "debunk[s] the hysterical claims regularly espoused by warm-mongers."
Where have we heard that name before? Ah, yes -- Carter was the source for the unsupported and misleading claim by Rep. James Inhofe's flack, Marc Morano, that $50 billion has been spent "on research into global warming since 1990." Sheppard, of course, enthusiastically promoted Morano's load of hooey.
The (Newsmax) Clinton-Hater Is Dead, Long Live the (WND) Clinton-Hater Topic: WorldNetDaily
Is Joseph Farah auditioning for lead Clinton-hater?
A Nov. 3 WND article suggests yes. The unbylined article states that -- as reported first here and elsewhere -- Richard Mellon Scaife "joined the anti-war movement, directing his newspaper in July to call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and watching another of his media prizes, NewsMax.com, embrace Clinton with a surprisingly friendly interview about his new book, 'Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.'" The article went on to claim, "It is nearly impossible to overstate the antagonism that existed between Scaife and Clinton throughout the 1990s," adding that "Everywhere the Clintons looked, they saw Dick Scaife's hand at work," including "funding Joseph Farah's Western Journalism Center before he founded WorldNetDaily." Left unmentioned is that the $330,000 Scaife gave to Farah and his WJC in the mid-'90s went in large part to publicizing the work of Christopher Ruddy -- then with Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, now running the Scaife-funded Newsmax -- attacking Clinton over the death of Vince Foster.
The WND article added as an apparent minor dig at its rival:
Scaife's NewsMax, a popular and once enthusiastically pro-Republican news website co-owned with Christopher Ruddy, who famously investigated the mysterious death of Clinton's deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster and the strange death of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, also began attacking the war in Iraq following Scaife's personal metamorphosis.
WND and Newsmax barely acknowledge each other's existence but will engage in passive-aggressive exchanges -- WND sniping at Newsmax, Newsmax poaching a WND writer. Perhaps Farah and WND see an opening here: While Ruddy and Newsmax seem to be grasping for mainstream media credibility, Farah and WND clearly have no such desire (especially on the credibility part) and appear to be all too eager to step in and be the ConWeb's leading Clinton-haters.
Indeed, we're seeing it already. An Oct. 31 Farah column promoted a series of out-of-context quotes by Hillary Clinton as "100 percent right," adding, "As you're watching Freddy Krueger movies tonight or answering the doorbell for the little ghouls and goblins, consider how close America is to turning over the reins of power to a real monster." And Farah's Nov. 3 column ridiculed the "approximately 49 percent of Americans [who] are ready to gulp the Kool-Aid and vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the next president," calling them "automatons" who have been "intentionally dumbed down."
So you see, even with Ruddy and Scaife realizing they have better things to do with their lives then mounting vitriolic smear campaigns, there's still plenty of Clinton-hate around (even if Newsmax still has plenty of writers who don't agree). And it appears Farah wants WND to serve as its new leading vessel.
Jeffrey Misleads on Waterboarding Topic: CNSNews.com
Doing his part to forward the contradictory conservative talkingpoint that waterboarding is effective yet doesn't the person being waterboarded, in an appearance on the Nov. 1 edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," CNSNews.com editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey said:
JEFFREY: Brian Ross of ABC News reported that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, was broken by our CIA after he was waterboarded, and he, in fact, revealed ongoing Al Qaeda plots against the United States. If the Democrats in the Senate want to ban the procedure by which we got vital information out of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Harry Reid ought to put up a bill right now that says, "Waterboarding is forbidden. What we did to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed may not be done again."
That's not quite what Ross reported. According to Media Matters, on the Nov. 18, 2005, edition of ABC's "World News Tonight," Ross said that "CIA officers say 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed lasted the longest under waterboarding, two and a half minutes, before beginning to talk, with debatable results." And author Ron Suskind adds that what U.S. interrogators got out of Mohammed after waterboarding were "things that professional interrogators say could have been gotten otherwise."
UPDATE: As we've noted, Jeffrey previously tried to downplay the torture aspects of waterboarding in an Oct. 10 column.
-- Tim Graham parrots Sally Bedell Smith's claim that the person who reviewed her book for the Washington Post is "discredited." Turns out Smith herself is discredited, something even the Post reviewer didn't note (but perhaps should have).
-- Noel Sheppard is shocked that a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch would support the Iraq war.
Despite Ruddy's Softballs, Newsmax Still Dishes Clinton Hate Topic: Newsmax
As an apparent reminder that, despite Christopher Ruddy's mellowing, Newsmax hasn't gone completely squishy about the Clintons, Newsmax ran a Nov. 1 column by Michael Reagan begging Democrats to make Hillary Clinton their nominee for president:
So leave her alone, let her cruise her way to the nomination so we Republicans can have the pleasure of dissecting her in the general election campaign.
I know you Democrats don't want to do us Republicans any favors, but just this once let us have our way. Give us the opportunity to give the Republican attack machine another shot at Hillary Clinton. Let her coast to victory in the primaries. We'll take it from there.
At least Reagan admits there is a "Republican attack machine."
Logrolling (And Whitewashing Waterboarding) In Our Time Topic: Newsmax
An Oct. 31 Newsmax article by Ronald Kessler attacking Democrats for for making an issue of waterboarding in the confirmation of Michael Mukasey for attorney general quotes Robert Grenier, the former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, whom Kessler states he talked to "for my book 'The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack,' which comes out Nov. 13."
Newsmax's promotional page at its online store for Kessler's book, meanwhile, features blurbs touting the book, including this one: "Ron Kessler is unique in his ability and willingness to tell the unvarnished truth about what it will take to protect America from the next major terrorist attack. This is a book that every informed and responsible American should read." Who said that? Robert Grenier.
Doesn't it compromise Grenier's objectivity and credibility to promote a book for which he serves as a source?
Indeed, Kessler's entire column seems to be an suggestion that his book will be straining objectivity and credibility and be the kind of Bush administration fluff job he's so adept at providing. At one point, he states: "As normally defined, torture is the infliction of severe pain. While waterboarding causes fear because it simulates drowning, it is painless." Er, not so much.
Kessler also claims:
The technique was used in interrogating Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s field commander or chief of operations, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot.
The technique was used in interrogating Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s field commander or chief of operations, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot.
In both cases, these and other coercive techniques — like subjecting prisoners to frigid temperatures or forcing them to stand for hours — have worked and have led to a takedown of other key al-Qaida operatives when they were planning more attacks.
Again, not so much. The waterboarding of Zubaydah apparently produced a stream of statements from Zubaydah of such dubious quality, according to journalist Ron Suskind, that intelligence officers now widely believe any evidence gleaned from Zubaydah to be utter garbage. And according to ABC News, it produced "debatable results" from Mohammed.
Sheppard Repeats False Claims By Fox's Wallace Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 1 NewsBusters post by serialmisinformer Noel Sheppard repeats a statement that "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace made on the Nov. 1 edition of conservative Steve Malzberg's radio show (boldface is Sheppard's):
WALLACE: Listen, there is bias in the media. I don't disagree with that. Look, the great untold story, do you know how many casualties, one is too many, but do you know how many American soldiers were killed either in direct action or even by accidents in the month of October in Iraq? 34.
And now that's a, if you're a parent of one of those people, it's a tragedy. But having said that, that story is untold. I haven't heard it any place except Fox News. And, and, you know why? Because there are members of the mainstream media who don't like good news coming out of Iraq, and the fact is the surge is working. Is it creating a Jeffersonian democracy? No. Have those guys gotten together and created political reconciliation? No. But is the situation on the ground, in the street, whether it's Baghdad or Anbar province, is it demonstrably safer than it was three, four months ago? Absolutely. And you don't see it in the New York Times, and you don't see it in the Washington Post.
Sheppard asserted that this is information known to "[p]eople that don't foolishly depend on the mainstream media for current events," concluding, "Sadly, this is why right-thinking Americans across the fruited plain have stopped holding their breath hoping to see good news from Iraq in those papers, Chris."
In fact, Wallace is wrong. As Conde Nast Portfolio's Mixed Media blog points out:
No, you don't see that story there...if you go looking for it before the month of October has even ended. See, those casualty figures have a funny way of creeping up on you if you start talking them up prematurely. Today, citing the release of the official monthly death toll -- 39, not Wallace's 34 -- both papers noted that it was the lowest such casualty figure since March 2006.
Wallace could be forgiven for missing the Times's story, which was "buried" on page A12, but not the Post's front-pager, headlined, "In Iraq, a Lull or a Hopeful Trend?" According to Nexis, the falling-death-toll story got play in a slew of other newspapers as well as on CBS News, NPR and, yes, CNN.
In other words, the only way Wallace could have not heard it "anyplace except Fox News" is if he gets all his news from his own network.
Any chance Sheppard will correct the record for his NewsBusters readers? Don't count on it.
Feder's Hypocritical Attack on Huckabee Topic: Horowitz
In a Nov. 2 FrontPageMag column, Don Feder attacks Mike Huckabee for being too compassionate to be a conservative. Feder writes:
Eventually, all compassionate politicians get around to slobbering over violent felons. Huckabee is no exception. Wayne Dumond served seven years of a life plus-20-year sentence for the kidnapping/rape of a 17-year-old cheerleader. Dumond claims that while he was awaiting trial, men broke into his home and castrated him. Sadly, he survived.
Shortly after he became governor, Dumond's pardon application crossed Huckabee's desk.
While denying the pardon, Huckabee helped with the parole board by sending the rapist a personal letter disclosing, "My desire is that you be released from prison. I feel that parole is the best way for your reintroduction to society to take place." A 2002 article in the Arkansas Times reports Huckabee's staff worked behind the scenes to secure the rapist's release. Was Huckabee moved after looking into Dumond's eyes and seeing another of society's victims who was just following the American dream?
Ashley Stevens, who Dumond raped, told Huckabee, "If you ever let him out, he's going to do it again." Huckabee was unmoved, even when Stevens thrust her face inches from his and told him: "This is how close I was to Dumond's face for an hour. I'll never forget his face, and you'll never forget mine."
None of that dissuaded Mr. Compassion. Wouldn't you know it, the year after the parole board reintroduced Dumond into society, he moved to Missouri where he sexually assaulted and murdered a 39-year-old woman.
To this day, Huckabee is in a state of denial (unfortunately for him, not one of the early primary states) regarding his role in this tragedy, insisting, "My only official action was to deny his clemency."
Nowhere does Feder mention that the campaign to give Dumond clemency, which Huckabee ultimately supported (though he now denies it) was spearheaded by Feder's fellow conservatives. They wanted Dumond released as a way to attack Bill Clinton, who they claimed denied Dumond parole while Arkansas governor because Dumond's victim, Stevens, was a distant relative of Clinton. An entire wingnut book was written about the case; as we've noted, Newsmax defended Huckabee and attacked Clinton by using the case and attacked Stevens' testimony as unreliable. (This before Newsmax flip-flopped and used Dumond to attack Huckabee's "liberal policy of criminal pardons" earlier this year.)
So, rather than blaming Huckabee for Dumond's release and the subsequent murder he committed, Feder should instead be blaming his fellow conservatives who wanted Dumond released to make Clinton look bad.
Over the last couple weeks, once again, I've seen WorldNetDaily referred to in all the major media as a "conservative website" or as a "conservative news site."
I can't help but scratch my head for two reasons over this knee-jerk description: How could something I created be "conservative" when I reject the label?
Because we read your website, Mr. Farah. And we have repeatedlydocumented WND's conservative leanings (and Farah's refusal to admit that WND is conservative).
The really funny thing about this column is: After Farah declares that he "reject[s] the label" of "conservative," he then passes judgment on people who he claims are not conservative. For someone who purported "reject[s] the label," he sure knows a heck of a lot about it.
Another Shocker: Newsmax Pans Book's Liberal Attacks Topic: Newsmax
In keeping with the dogs-and-cats-living-together nature of Christopher Ruddy's rapprochement with the Clintons, Newsmax continues to do the previously unthinkable. This time, it pans a book on Hillary Clinton for -- shock! -- forwarding poorly researched attacks on liberals.
A Nov. 1 review of Paul Kengor's book "God and Hillary Clinton" -- which lacks a byline and is credited only to "Newsmax Staff" -- did actually mostly praise the book, calling it "tantalizing and important" and asserting "[t]here is much to feast on and much to wonderfully digest in Kengor’s work." Surprisingly, the review points out that Kengor is a "professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, a highly Christian and conservative institution," which hints at where the book is coming from. Even more surprisingly, the review criticizes Kengor for rehashing non-substantive attacks on liberals:
When he sticks to the topic, he is good and clear and illuminating. When he goes after the usual suspects – Kerry, Bill Clinton, Gore, liberal feminist groups, the media, to name a few – devoting pages and pages to their issues, when only one or two paragraph would suffice to set up how those issue affect Hillary Clinton, it diminishes the final product and makes it difficult to find the wheat from the chaff.
He also slips into the habit of projecting without substantiation or in other cases stating something as if it is “wrong” but not explaining clearly why it is wrong. For example, why is it curious that people of different faith would choose to be married outside of a church – in affect, to begin a life together incorporating elements of both of their Christian religions? He constructs the Clinton’s decision to do that (albeit with a Christian minister) as suggestive of a lack of faith. But it misses the mark.
Likewise, he offers no proof – other than a few quotes from a lone pornographer – to support the assertion that electing Clinton would be a boon for that tawdry industry.
There is much convenient speculation on the part of the author, to add bulk to assertions – almost always in the realm of adhering to more potentially controversial aspects of Clinton.
A prime example is describing a six-week program for 400 gifted high school seniors in Arkansas, known as the “Governor’s School.”
Kengor details some of the school’s “post-modern and left-wing curriculum” and notes what was read by students or, when convenient, selects a controversial work that meets his criteria by noting that “in a 1971 work likely read by Governor’s School students.”
Such convenient extrapolations appear throughout the book; sadly, they are not necessary to make the point and, in fact, raise objective questions as to intent.
Newsmax criticizing a conservative book for not being objective? We're verklempt.
It was not all that long ago that NewsMax shamelesslypromoted whatever anti-Clinton book came down the pike. It's shocking to see Newsmax act like, well, a real news organization instead of a propaganda organ.
Remember ex-NewsBusters blogger Cinnamon Stillwell? Sadly, No! notes that she's all upset that, in Sadly, No!'s words, "a half-naked deranged man covered with paint who had an established penchant for burning down anything he could put a match to" made a half-hearted effort to burn down a church in San Francisco.
Apparently, Stillwell would have been much happier if the man had instead, say, tried to blow up a mosque or a congressman's office. 'Cuz she didn't exactly object when a right-wing Jewish extremist tried to do just that.
Huston Bites the Hand That Feeds Him Topic: NewsBusters
It's hard to imagine someone attacking a newspaper owned by Richard Mellon Scaife for not being conservative enough, but Warner Todd Huston manages to do just that in a Nov. 1 NewsBusters post. In it, Huston bashes Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for "sympathetically portray[ing] Hugo Chavez, the America hating dictator of Venezuela, as a victim attacked by mean American boycotters," regarding an article about local effects of a conservative boycott of the Venezuelan-owned oil company Citgo.
Huston goes on to claim that "the Trib-Review wants to help Chavez advertise his propaganda program of selling cheap heating oil to American citizens. Smooth, PT-R, very smooth." He then berates a local Citgo dealer who reminded customers that "they're dealing with local people" (indeed, Huston is too busy hurling insults to get the guy's name right -- it's Mark):
Sorry Mikey, but a real American would hope you lose every penny and have to close your business down... unless you want to buy your oil from a company that is not one of our biggest enemies, of course. It's called patriotism, Mikey. But apparently that is a word that you don't know the meaning of.
Finally, Huston launches into a full-fledged attack on Scaife's newspaper:
It seems clear that, with a libertarian leaning editorial board, patriotism hasn't much of a premium placed on it at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. And this is one of the failings of a libertarian point of view. It leaves no room for such trivial things as patriotism when business is to be conducted. That feeling, though, also leaves no room for taking into account the harm a foreign nation might do to us while conducting that business, as well (just ask the customers of GazProm). So, the PT-R, with it's acclaimed business oriented, libertarian mindset, doesn't care if Hugo Chavez gets a propaganda coup out of the consumers in Pittsburgh. The PT-R pays no mind to the support that such an effort gives a communist dictator who is a vocal enemy of the United States. Nice going Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Check your patriotism at the door and pump away.
As we've previously noted, Scaife-controlled foundations have given nearly $2 million to NewsBusters' parent, the Media Research Center, between 1997 and 2005, a few coins of which have presumably trickled down to Huston as compensation for his NewsBusters contributions.
We're pleasantly surprised that a conservative would break Ronald Reagan's 11th commandmant dare to criticize another conservative -- usually Huston is too busy being a sycophanticapologist for Fred Thompson -- let alone the guy who helps provide an outlet for said conservative's writing.