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Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Kincaid Whitewashes Waterboarding
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In a Nov. 11 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid wrote:

Congress itself has never declared waterboarding to be a form of torture. Perhaps that is because it is not. It makes a terrorist uncomfortable and feel like drowning, but it does not subject him to permanent physical or psychological harm. What's more, the technique reportedly worked in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, admitted mastermind of 9/11, who confessed to other ongoing plots to kill Americans that were apparently stopped.

In fact, there is evidence that waterboarding does, in fact, result in "permanent physical or psychological harm." Further, as we've noted, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's waterboarding produced results that were "debatable," 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."


Posted by Terry K. at 9:54 AM EST
CNS Reports Old News
Topic: CNSNews.com

A Nov. 12 CNSNews.com article by Fred Lucas touted "a government report on casualty rates" claiming that "American soldiers died in higher numbers during some of the peace-time years in the 1980s than in recent years when the military has fought conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan." But it wasn't until the end of the article that Lucas mentioned a relevant fact: This report "was first released in June and updated in August."

Lucas is reporting something that was first released at least three months ago.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:09 AM EST
WND Misleads on Abortion Clinic Law
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A certain Nov. 12 WorldNetDaily article carries no byline -- perhaps because it's so slanted that the writer was ashamed to put his or her name to it.

The article is about a proposed law in Oakland, Calif, to require a 8-food "bubble" between women going to abortion clinics and anti-abortion protesters. But that's not how WND described it. Here's the lead:

A proposal moving swiftly toward approval by the Oakland City Council would tell Christians and others who offer an alternative to abortion to "shut up," a public interest law firm says.

The article never clearly states the basic provision of the law -- that it would require an 8-foot buffer between protesters and patients. It quotes only anti-abortion activists, mostly someone from the Pacific Justice Institute, the "public interest law firm" in the lead, who claimd that the law is "the biggest threat to free speech in a generation, and that's not hyperbole."

The article also depicted Oakland councilwoman Jane Brunner as telling reporters that "the ordinance 'would give women the right to make that choice and safely go to the clinic,' without hearing any statements that conflict with the abortion-rights lobby."  In fact, here's what Brunner said, according to an Oct. 23 San Francisco Chronicle article:

"It's a very hard decision for a woman to make to decide if she is going to carry a baby or have an abortion," said Councilwoman Jane Brunner, co-author of the ordinance. "If she decides to get clinical help, she should be able to reach that place without being harassed or scared. This ordinance would give women the right to make that choice and safely go in the clinic."

Brunner said nothing about "statements that conflict with the abortion-rights lobby."

If we were falsely portraying other people's statements, we wouldn't want our name to be associated with it, either. Too bad WND as a whole has no similar sense of shame.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 AM EST
NewsMax Still Hatin' on Hillary
Topic: Newsmax

More reminders that NewsMax hasn't gone totally squishy on the Clintons:

A Nov. 12 column by Barrett Kalellis claimed that Hillary Clinton is "a woman to whom honesty, openness, and forthrightness are strangers" and has "European socialist blood coursing through her veins."

A Nov. 12 column by John LeBoutillier sneeringly referred to Hillary as " this supposedly-smartest woman in the world."

A Nov. 11 "news" article is headlined: "Hillary: I Know Nothing." 


Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:51 AM EST
Monday, November 12, 2007
Meanwhile ...
Topic: NewsBusters

Oliver Willis catches NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard making yet another malicious claim about Al Gore. In a Nov. 12 post, Sheppard claimed that Gore, who has joined a venture capital firm to guide investments that help combat global warming, "as brilliantly structured himself as a virtual financial hub of international investments associated with so-called global warming solutions whereby he'll benefit financially from any hysterical climate claim uttered by a media member, Hollywood sycophant, United Nations climate panelist, or, deliciously, himself." In fact, Gore is donating his salary to a advocacy group he founded.

As we've detailed, Sheppard has asserted without evidence that the only reason Gore is involved with global warming advocacy is for the money. 

UPDATE: Sheppard updates his post to respond to Willis, whom he calls "someone connected to such a high-profile Clinton campaign front as Media Matters," insisting that "the salary to Gore is totally irrelevant. His connection to the largest venture capital firm in Silicon Valley affords him financial and investment benefits far beyond the salary he’s being paid." Sheppard offers no evidence to support this claim.

Let the record show that Sheppard has never countered anything we have written about him, even though we, like Willis, are employed by Media Matters. We like to think that's because he can't counter the facts.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:11 PM EST
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2007 11:42 PM EST
Speaking Too Soon
Topic: Accuracy in Media

"Major oil spills have declined dramatically and rarely occur in U.S navigable waters. When was the last time anyone heard of a major U.S. oil spill? Also I don't know where he gets the idea that people associate oil and oceans with spills. To me it seems far more likely that ocean drilling would be associated with these words."

-- Don Irvine, Nov. 8 Accuracy in Media column about questions raised on a $5 million donation to the Smithsonian by the American Petroleum Institute for a project on the world's oceans.

"Heavy-duty bunker fuel oil has washed up on beaches throughout the San Francisco and Marin coastlines all day, leaving purplish sheens on the water, ugly black blobs in the sand, and hundreds of injured or dead birds.
Some 9,500 gallons of oil have been contained since a container ship rammed the Bay Bridge and spilled 58,000 gallons of its fuel Wednesday morning."

--  San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 9 


Posted by Terry K. at 9:39 AM EST
Bozell's Hillary Blackwash
Topic: Media Research Center

How credible can a book be when it can't even agree on its title?

That's the dilemma we face with the new Hillary Clinton-bashing book by Brent Bozell and Tim Graham. The MRC web page promoting the book proclaims it to be "Whitewash: What the Media Won't Tell You About Hillary Clinton, but Conservatives Will," but the book jacket illustrating the page (reproduced at left) reads, "Whitewash: How the Mainstream Media are Paving Hillary Clinton's Path to the Presidency."

The former title, if not official, seems to be the more accurate one according to the promo copy: "To expose the truth about Hillary that the supposedly objective media have buried, Bozell and Graham have interviewed dozens of leading conservatives who are fighting to let Americans hear the whole story: Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, Mary Matalin, Laura Ingraham, Cal Thomas, and many others."

The problem with such an approach is that very few of these people -- Bozell and Graham included -- are interested in "the truth" about the Clintons; they only want to attack and will forward any claim, regardless of its accuracy, to achieve that goal. Indeed, LimbaughHannity, Coulter, Levin, Ingraham and Thomas are all on record making false or misleading claims (or just venomous smears) about the Clintons, which doesn't bode well for the veracity of the book. The promo page offers no evidence why, given such unmistakable animus toward the Clintons, the word of these conservatives (the authors included) should be trusted as unassailable fact.

We suspect that one thing incorporated into the book will be a 2006 MRC study by TimesWatch's Clay Waters purporting to claim that the New York Times "has used its seat more as a cheering section for Clinton than as a dispassionate perch for objective observation." But as we documented, the study is full of unsupported claims, opinions stated as facts and examples that provide dubious support at best to his central claim.

In fact, we may be so bold as to say that "opinions stated as facts" will be the defining element of Bozell and Graham's book.

Further, it's also not a good sign when your book's lead piece of evidence is easily debunked. From the promo copy:

In Whitewash, L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, America’s largest and most respected media watchdog organization, expose the unprecedented media favoritism that is the real key to Hillary’s political career. Marshalling stunning evidence compiled exclusively by the Media Research Center, the authors show how the media have relentlessly promoted Hillary from the moment in 1992 when Time magazine introduced her to the country as an "amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes."

Here's what actually appeared in the Jan. 27, 1992, article to which Bozell and Graham are referring:

Friends of Hillary Clinton would have you believe she is an amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa and Oliver Wendell Holmes. She gets up before dawn, even on weekends, and before her first cup of coffee discusses educational reform. She then hops into her fuel-efficient car with her perfectly behaved daughter for a day of good works.

Fortunately, Hillary Clinton, the latest wife to be challenged to fit perfectly into the ill-defined role of political spouse, is more interesting than that.

Time never called her an "amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes," as Bozell and Graham claim; it portrayed Hillary's supporters as making that claim -- and called it overblown. As far as Bozell and Graham are concerned, apparently, it's forbidden for anyone in the media to say anything nice about Hillary. There certainly won't be anything nice about her in their book, given the signs that it's little more than yet another conservative hit job.

UPDATE: The MRC has since swapped out the book cover image for one that has the current subtitle. 


Posted by Terry K. at 9:13 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2007 10:26 AM EST
Huston Repeats Misleading Claim About Times, Olbermann
Topic: NewsBusters

Like fellow NewsBuster Justin McCarthy, Warner Todd Huston misrepresented a claim in a New York Times article about Keith Olbermann's ratings relative to those of Bill O'Reilly to paint it as false when it wasn't. Unlike McCarthy, Huston selectively quoted from the Times article to support his misrepresentation.

In his Nov. 10 NewsBusters post, Huston quotes from the Times article: "Mr. Olbermann has even come tantalizingly close to surpassing the ratings of the host he describes as his nemesis, Bill O’Reilly on Fox News... " But Huston lops off the rest of that sentence: "...at least among viewers ages 25 to 54, which is the demographic cable news advertisers prefer."

Huston does go on to admit that the Times article states that "O'Reilly beats Olbie by '1.5 million viewers over all,'" but he then adds, "and what other REAL measurement is there?" Well, as the article states, if you're buying ads and are not interested in reaching the geratric-leaning audience that O'Reilly draws, the 25-54 demographic is a very real measurement.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 AM EST
CNS Pushes Meme That Democrats Are 'Politically Motivated'
Topic: CNSNews.com

A Nov. 9 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones dutifully reported claims from Republican leaders that having numerous congressional votes on measures related to withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq is a "politically movtivated" move on the part of the Democrats who control Congress. Jones gave no apparent opportunity to Democrats to respond to the claims.

As we've detailed, CNS regularly pushes the meme that Democrats are solely motivated by politics while rarely describing Republicans as such.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:26 AM EST
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Mason, Felder Falsely Defend Giuliani
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a Nov. 10 WorldNetDaily column defending Rudy Giuliani (though it curiously doesn't mention Giuliani's name) as "a mayor who led rather than dithered" after 9/11, Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder wrote:

With the visual acuity of hindsight, the Emergency Response Center could have been constructed differently and in a different location. Different precautions could have been taken to protect first and second responders. But who knew? If we knew when it was going to rain with any degree of certainty, we would never be caught without an umbrella. The city acted on the best available information both before and after the event – and, incidentally, as far as the Emergency Response Center was concerned, various federal agencies were located in the same building and in the vicinity, and they, too, were devastated. 

But as author Wayne Barrett points out, there was opposition to putting the New York City Emergency Response Center on the 23rd floor of a building in the World Trade Center coand mplex because the WTC had been the target of a terrorist attack in 1993 was at the top of the the terrorism vulnerability list that his own police department prepared. Further, the head of Giuliani's emergency management office recommended that the center be located in downtown Brooklyn, but Giuliani insisted that it had to be within walking distance of City Hall.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:57 AM EST
WND Columnist Hates Lawyers, Loves Authoritarianism
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his Nov. 10 WorldNetDaily column, Ellis Washington declared that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of a state of emergency was "necessary" (though "draconian") because he faced "a crucial Supreme Court decision was to be handed down that could overturn his recent election victory" and a related "tide of anarchy raging throughout Pakistan." Washington endorsed the arrests of "a couple hundred" lawyers "[b]ecause the Supreme Court and their willing minions, the Pakistani bar, has time and time again undermined the rule of law in Pakistan and thus frustrated Musharraf's ability to effectively rule his nation." Washington offers no evidence to support this view. Washington then likened these Pakistani lawyers to the "damn liberal lawyers" in the U.S. who are "directing the war" in Iraq. 

In case Washington's views on lawyers wasn't clear enough, he began his column with the Shakespeare quote "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," though he seems to moderate this view by the end and suggests we should "shred the bar cards" of the lawyers instead. Or maybe arrest a couple hundred.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:26 AM EST
Sheppard Source Fell for Anti-Global Warming Hoax
Topic: NewsBusters

(Updated)

A Nov. 9 NewsBusters post by Amy Ridenour complained that Reuters "tried to make a mountain out of a molehill" by reporting that a number of global warming skeptics fell for a hoax study that purported to claim that "pointing to ocean bacteria as the overwhelming cause of global warming" and, thus, supporting skeptics' claims that global warming is not manmade. Among those who fell for the hoax, Ridenour noted, was "Benny Peiser, who forwards copies of news articles and studies on climate matters to his 'CCNet' e-mail list several times each day. Peiser sent a copy of the hoax study to his list Wednesday without comment and sent out a hoax warning to the list about an hour later."

Turns out that Peiser is a source for a number of claims repeated by NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard (though Sheppard didn't repeat the hoax study). Sheppard cites Peiser as a source here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, among numerous other posts.

Whether or not Ridenour realizes it, what we really got to see here is a glimpse of the skeptics' transmission belt. Lead deniers like Peiser feed any scrap of information, no matter how dubious, to secondary deniers like Sheppard, who is also not interested in entertaining questions about the veracity of these sources, as we've detailed.

Who is Benny Peiser? DeSmogBlog notes:

Peiser's "claim to fame" in the war on climate change science was a 2005 study that he claimed refuted an earlier study by Dr. Naomi Oreskes. Originally published in the prestigious publication, Science, the Oreskes study looked at 928 research papers on climate change and found that 100% agreed with the scientific consensus. Peiser originally stated in January, 2005 that Oreskes was incorrect and that "in light of the data [Peiser] presented... Science should withdraw Oresekes' study and its results in order to prevent any further damage to the integrity of science." On October 12, 2006, Peiser admitted that only one of the research papers he used in his study refuted the scientific consensus on climate change, and that study was NOT peer-reviewed and was published by American Association of Petroleum Geologists[.] Peiser's incorrect claims were published in the Financial Post section of the National Post, in a May 17, 2005 commentary authored by Peiser himself. 

Deniers like Sheppard and Peiser and Marc Morano don't seem to care whether the claims they make are true; all they care about is that they attack a political position they oppose. They pretend they're telling the "truth" about global warming when all they're actually doing is what they accuse their opponents of: playing politics.

UPDATE: EnergySmart (via Orcinus) cites an interview with the anonymous hoaxster, who says:

Its purpose was to expose the credulity and scientific illiteracy of many of the people who call themselves climate sceptics. While dismissive of the work of the great majority of climate scientists, they will believe almost anything if it lends support to their position. Their approach to climate science is the opposite of scepticism.

Sounds like Sheppard and Morano's M.O. to us.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:15 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, November 11, 2007 12:40 PM EST
Saturday, November 10, 2007
CNS Skips the B-Word
Topic: CNSNews.com

A Nov. 9 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall claims that "only three State Department employees have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition invaded the country more than four years ago." By Hall fails to mention a certain relevant B-word -- Blackwater.

Blackwater USA serves as the security contractor for State Department employees in Iraq, and has been embroiled in numerous controversies that have resulted in, among other things, the resignation of the State Department’s security chief after a panel found serious lapses in the department’s oversight of such private guards.

None of this is mentioned by Hall, though one would think it would be revelevant to what he wrote about: the security of diplomats in Iraq. But it appears Hall is more concerned with portraying State Department employees complaining about possible forced assignments in Iraq as wusses.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:39 AM EST
Sheppard Ignores Willey's Lack of Credibility
Topic: NewsBusters

A Nov. 9 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard complains that Kathleen Willey's new book isn't being "welcomed with open arms by evening television magazines like '60 Minutes' and morning shows like 'Today.'" While raising the dark specter of "liberal media bias," Sheppard ignores the more logical explanation: Willey has a history of contradictory claims and, thus, has no credibility as a Clinton accuser.

Not, of course, that forwarding claims by people who lack credibilty has been a problem for Sheppard in the past.

Sheppard also asserts that "only Fox News has even mentioned" Willey's book. Apparently, in Sheppard's handbook of media bias, lengthy appearances on two Fox News programs (plus Hannity's radio show) translates to "mention."


Posted by Terry K. at 10:43 AM EST
'Even the Liberal' (Yet Anti-Union) Denver Post
Topic: Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner printed an edited version of our letter regarding its Nov. 7 editorial bashing Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter for signing an executive order permitting state employees to form unions. We noted what the editorial didn't -- that the order is a rather weak one, given that it prohibits state personnel from pressuring employees into joining a union, forbids strikes and binding arbitration, and grants the Colorado legislature the right not to fund provisions in collective bargaining agreements.

But the Examiner edited out one relevant point that we originally wrote. The editorial stated:

Now, even the liberal Denver Post is calling Ritter a modern-day “Jimmy Hoffa,” a “toady to labor bosses” and “a bag man for unions and special interests.” And that was just in the introductory paragraphs of a rare front-page editorial by the Post last Sunday.

Doesn't the fact that the Post opposes the order and called Ritter "a modern-day 'Jimmy Hoffa,' a 'toady to labor bosses' and 'a bag man for unions and special interests'" -- in an editorial on the front page of the paper, no less -- mean the opposite, that the Post is not a "liberal" paper? Indeed, Post owner William Dean Singleton is known to bust unions at the papers he owns. "Liberal" newspapers are not exactly known for doing that.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:14 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, November 10, 2007 10:41 AM EST

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