CNS' Sham Balance: Even Worse Than We Thought Topic: CNSNews.com
Last week, we described CNSNews' lack of balance in its news articles, as evidenced by its making only token efforts to obtain the other side of a story, then not bothering to follow up tell the full story. Turns out the problem is worse than we thought.
One of the cases we cited was a Nov. 20 article by Nathan Burchfiel quoting two "pro-life activists" claiming that "high abortion rates among black women" are linked to "high levels of 'hopelessness' in African-American communities across the United States." Burchfiel's attempt to "fairly present" the other side was limited to stating that "A spokesman for the Alan Guttmacher Institute did not respond to requests for comment by press time" and pulling statistics off the group's website. We have since heard from the Guttmacher Institute's Rebecca Wind, who told us:
As the primary media contact for the Guttmacher Institute, I want to set the record straight. I sent the attached letter to the editor of CNS News last week, along with the attached e-mail exchange, which clearly shows that we not only responded to requests for comment by press time, but that we set up an interview for Mr. Burchfiel with our director for domestic research, which was cancelled by the reporter due to a family emergency. I have received no response back from the editors of CNS News or Mr. Burchfiel himself at this time.
Burchfiel postponed an interview with a Guttmacher rep, then wrote the story anyway and claimed that "A spokesman for the Alan Guttmacher Institute did not respond to requests for comment by press time"? That manages to be even more egregious than the lack of balance itself.
In a Nov. 26 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham noted that in an appearance on Laura Ingraham's radio show, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw said that Rush Limbaugh "doesn’t want to hear another point of view, except his." Graham responded:
If Brokaw had ever "wasted" an hour of his life listening to Limbaugh, he'd learn that liberal callers are often featured on the Limbaugh program, some times for long periods of time that make conservative callers jealous. He should really learn from others who've made this factual error and actually listen to the program and apologize, as Washington Post columnist William Raspberry did. (See Brent Bozell on that.)
That Bozell column appeared in June 2000, after Limbaugh had been appointed to his (short-lived) post as a Monday Night Fooball commentator. Bozell does not indicate that Raspberry was referring specifically to Limbaugh's treatment of liberals, as Graham suggests; rather, Bozell wrote that Raspberry "several years ago penned a piece slashing Limbaugh to ribbons, then issued a follow-up apology in which he admitted that at the time he wrote the first column, he’d barely listened to Rush, and that once he did so at greater length, found out what he’d heard about him from friends – that Limbaugh was a bigot -- wasn’t true."
Bozell echoed Graham's claim in his Nov. 28 column:
This is beyond dumb. It’s like conservatives claiming that "the whole drill" about Tom Brokaw is he never allowed a female reporter on his newscast. It’s such a heaping pile of wrong that it serves only to discredit the critic as someone who is truly ignorant. Limbaugh regularly engages liberal callers -- always politely when they are polite, and usually politely when they aren’t -- and often at some length. If Brokaw had ever craned his pompous ears to listen to the show before proclaiming a verdict, he’d find....civil discourse.
So, um, where's the proof? Where are the audio clips demonstrating Limbaugh being "polite" to liberals? Where is the breakdown showing that Limbaugh is even more fair and balanced than Fox News?
Looks like it's time for Bozell and Graham's Media Research Center to do some, you know, media research and defend their favorite radio host with actual facts (if they do indeed exist) instead of unsupported assertions, especially given the fact that there's ample evidence demonstrating Limbaugh's hostility to liberals.
Clinton-Hater (And Video Game Hater) Faces Disbarment Topic: Newsmax
One of the more rabid Clinton-haters back in the 1990s was Jack Thompson. Featured at Newsmax -- where he served as its "Man in Miami" during the Elian Gonzalez saga -- Thompson was particularly enamored of Janet Reno, once running against her for a Florida prosecutor position; during a debate, he handed her a form stating "I, Janet Reno, am a 1) Homosexual; 2) Bisexual; 3) Heterosexual" and demanded that she check one or "you will be deemed to have checked one of the first two boxes." Thompson also tried to blackmail the lawyer for Elian's Miami relatives, claiming he would "appear ... on a national television program" to discuss the lawyer's dalliances with a stripper if the lawyer did not arrange a meeting with Elian's relatives for him.
At the end of the Clinton administration, with no Janet Reno to kick around anymore, Thompson remade himself as a crusader against video games, filing lawsuits against game manufacturers on behalf of families claiming the games directly resulted in the deaths of players, even pursuing action against the U.S. military because the America's Army game it gives away as a recruitment tool is purportedly a dangerous shooter-type game that will breed violent youths.
But it looks like Thompson's sue-happy ways have caught up with him. G4 reports that Thompson is facing a ethics trial this week by the Florida bar, spurred by complaints regarding Thompson’s professional conduct in court cases against the video game industry. GamePolitics adds:
Thompson’s bid to block the trial failed last week when U.S. District Court Judge Adalberto Jordan dismissed his suit against the Florida Bar and Judge Dava Tunis, the referee appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to preside over the case.
Thompson’s attempt to add myself and the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) as co-defendants in that federal suit also failed.
Over the weekend, Thompson turned to the Florida Supreme Court in an apparent effort to block this morning’s trial from moving forward. In one court filing Thompson asserted that he was willing to accept a 90-day suspension of his license to practice law. The embattled attorney claimed that such an offer had been on the table, but that the Florida Bar was now seeking his permanent disbarment.
A second document appeared to outline a lawsuit against the State of Florida, which has authority over the Florida Bar. Thompson claims that the Bar’s pursuit of him is motivated by his Christian activism and is designed to silence his outspokenness.
Playing the victim to the end, apparently.
Kotaku has a short history of Thompson's legal shenannigans.
Klein's Spectrum: Conservative to Right-Wing Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein claimed that "Knesset members across the political spectrum slammed commitments made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at today's U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit." But he quotes only conservative Knesset members -- not that he identifies them as such, of course.
Klein tries to confuse the issue by stating that "[Ehud] Olmert's Kadima party is held together by alliances with the leftist Labor, religious Shas and Russian Yisroel Beitenu [sic] parties." But Klein doesn't quote anyone from Labor. The "religious" Shas party is arguably conservative since it primarily represents ultra-orthodox Jews. Yisrael Beiteinu is a right-wing party.
Klein quotes the following Knesset members bashing Olmert:
Zevulun Orlev, chairman of the right-wing National Union party.
Eli Yishai, head of the Shas party.
Benny Elon of the National Union party.
So Klein's version of the Israeli political spectrum is conservative to ... more conservative. We've previouslynoted Klein's extreme aversion to using the word "conservative" to describe conservatives.
More Old News: WND Still Won't Question Willey's Credibility Topic: WorldNetDaily
Continuing WorldNetDaily's old-news theme, a Nov. 27 article by Art Moore once again rehashes Kathleen Willey's allegations against the Clintons without mentioning Willey's lack of credibility and history of lying to prosecutors.
Waters Misleads on Times' Recession Article Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 27 NewsBusters post by Clay Waters claimed that a New York Times article "displayed plenty of pessimism about the U.S. economy after years of foreign-financed easy money" and that an accompanying graphic showed that the Times "no doubt wanted to convey ... a fearful, sinking feeling among U.S. consumers" that the economy is heading for a recession.
But Waters failed to note that, as Media Matters details, the Times article examines both the good and bad sides of the economy, as well as good and bad effects of a possible recession, and does not describe a recession as a foregone conclusion. In fact, the article points out: "It is worth bearing in mind that the American economy has a history of unexpected resilience in the face of supposedly grim prospects. Moreover, some parts of the economy are enjoying good times, notably farmers able to cash in on the making of ethanol," adding, "The most likely outcome envisioned by many is a slowdown or a mild recession." This would seem to contradict Waters' claim that the article is filled only with "pessimism."
The longer version of Waters' post on TimesWatch adds an excerpt from the article that includes the "unexpected resilience" line but not the statement that "a slowdown or a mild recession" is the "most likely outcome."
Klein Still Can't Say the C-Word Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein features a protest in Israel against the Israeli-Arab summit in Annapolis, Md., claiming that "Israelis across the country today protested Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's attendance" at the summit and "Nationalist groups handed out flyers against Annapolis." But nowhere does Klein note that the leaders of the protest, as quoted in his article, are all conservatives or right-wingers. Nor does he define what "nationalist" means -- presumably, right-wing.
Klein quoted "Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha council of Jewish settlements" without noting that the Yesha Council opposed Israel's disengagement policy, an arguably conservative position that Klein has expressed enormous sympathy for through his reporting (as we've noted). Klein also quoted "Knesset Member David Rotem of the Yisrael Beitenu party" without noting that Yisrael Beitenu is a right-wing party.
Another featured speaker is Shaul Goldstein, whom Klein blandly describes only as a "spokesman for a major West Bank Jewish community." Turns out Goldstein is quite telegenic -- he appeared on CNN in 2003. And it appears that, according to a may 2006 Israeli National News article, Goldstein is the mayor of the Gush Etzion community (why couldn't Klein report that?). From the article, which reported on video showing unflattering depictions of members of the Yesha Council:
In one segment, aired by Yinun Magal on Channel 10 TV Monday night, Gush Etzion Mayor Shaul Goldstein is seen directing his own evacuation. He is seen being held by two soldiers, with a pained look on his face as a snapshot is taken with a camera he handed one of the soldiers. "Did it come out?" he asked the photographer. Upon confirmation, he was carried ten feet and put down gingery [sic] at the door of the synagogue.
Asked by Magal during the newscast about his behavior, Goldstein said that he did not want to walk out on his own two feet, but also did not want to burden the police and therefore only made them carry him "four cubit, about two meters," he said. "He didn't explain the necessity of having the incident photographed though," Magal said.
Funny, we don't recall Klein reporting any of this at WND...
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported that "Four right-wing activists were arrested Wednesday during a protest against the Annapolis conference at the entrance to Jerusalem." Klein made no mention of arrests, and he certainly didn't mention anything about anyone being "right-wing." We've previously noted Klein's reluctance to describe his favorite Israeli conservatives as, well, conservative.
Gore Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard continues his obsession with Al Gore's money, making increasingly wild accusations against him while never supporting his bedrock claim against the guy.
A Nov. 22 post once again rehashed Gore's employment with a venture capital firm, once again suggesting that Gore took the job only for the money. Sheppard concluded: "In the end, folks, with every breath he takes, and every move he makes, Al Gore is the embodiment of the liberal motif "Do As I Say, Not As I Do!" Another Nov. 22 post claims that "irrefutable evidence mounts that Nobel Laureate Al Gore's climate alarmism is about nothing other than lining his supposedly green pockets with green currency."
But as we've noted, despite his repetitiousaccusations, Sheppard has never offered any direct, substantive evidence that "Gore's climate alarmism is about nothing other than lining his supposedly green pockets with green currency." Instead, one might more rationally conclude that it is Sheppard who's all about lining his pockets with "green currency" by making these unsubstantiated allegations on a blog where he serves as a paid editor and whatever secret lucre global warming "skeptics" are sending his way.
One Nov. 26 article goes the Godwin's Law route by repeating homeschoolers' claims that German officials are acting like Nazis -- a favorite WND trope from earlier this year. As before, WND made no apparent attempt to allow said German officials to respond to the allegation.
Another Nov. 26 article by Art Moore rehashes the Peter Paul case one more time while yet again failing to note that Paul is a convicted felon.
501(c)(3) organizations like the Media Research Center -- of which NewsBusters is a part -- aren't supposed to endorse candidates, but NewsBusters writers are making their preferences known. And these days, they don't like Mike Huckabee, given the frequency of how they're likening him to Democratic presidential candidates.
We've previously noted that Tim Graham claimed that Huckabee "sounded like Hillary" on the issue of "tuition breaks for illegals." Now, a Nov. 25 post by Mark Finkelstein claims that in an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Huckabee "indulging in some class-warfare rhetoric that would have been the envy of" John Edwards.
Finkelstein offers no evidence that Huckabee's "populist message" -- pointing out that "the economy, while doing great for the people on Wall Street, is not necessarily translating down to the guys handling the bags and selling the tickets and serving you Cokes on the airplane" -- is factually false. Yet he attacks Huckabee by saying his message is calculated to "appeal to the liberal media" and that he is "sow[ing] the whirlwind in GOP circles, all the better from the MSM perspective."
One has to wonder: What is it about Huckabee that MRC's conservatives hate? If hard-core social conservative Huckabee isn't conservative enough for them, who is? Judging by Warner Todd Huston's sycophancy, Fred Thompson.
WND Article Promoting Flawed Study Gets Canadian Politician In Trouble Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 24 WorldNetDaily article reports: "A Canadian political party leader's posting of a WND article on homosexuality has brought him before the country's Human Rights Commission to face accusations he was motivated by 'hate and defamation.'" The article described the study:
The 2002 WND story posted online by [Ron] Gray [of the Christian Heritage Party] cited a study published in the Regent University Law Review by Steve Baldwin, executive director of the Council for National Policy in Washington, D.C. Titled, "Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement," the study found child molestation and pedophilia occur far more commonly among homosexuals than among heterosexuals on a per capita basis.
"Overwhelming evidence supports the belief that homosexuality is a sexual deviancy often accompanied by disorders that have dire consequences for our culture," Baldwin wrote.
"It is difficult to convey the dark side of the homosexual culture without appearing harsh," wrote Baldwin. "However, it is time to acknowledge that homosexual behavior threatens the foundation of Western civilization – the nuclear family."
The April 2002 WND article about the study, by Jon Dougherty, details findings in the study but, in true WND style, doesn't allow anyone to rebut it with the same amount of detail. Unfortunately for Gray and WND, the study is based on a flawed assumption that homosexuality is equivalent to pedophilia.
As Mark E. Pietrzyk detailed, research shows that the vast majority of adult males who molest boys have no interest in adult homosexual relationships. According to researcher Gene Abel, "only 21 percent of the child molesters we studied who assault little boys were exclusively homosexual. Nearly 80 percent of the men who molested little boys were heterosexual or bisexual, and most of these men were married and had children of their own."
Further, People for the American Way points out, the study is "refuted by longstanding research on the sexual abuse of children" and "constitutes yet another effort by Religious Right groups to exploit the Catholic Church controversy to advance their anti-gay agenda."
WND Repeats False Claim About Stem Cells Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a Nov. 24 article, WorldNetDaily attributes to conservative activist and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson the claim that "[a]t least 70 conditions already are being treated with stem cells."
As we've detailed, this is false. This number -- forwarded by anti-embryonic stem cell researcher David Prentice in a list of ailments purportedly treatable by adult stem cells -- has been discredited; FDA-approved adult stem cell treatments are available for only nine diseases.
The WND article also excerpts a New York Times article quoting James Thompson, leader of a team of researchers that found a way to turn ordinary human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without using a human embryo. as saying that the research supercedes the need for embryonic stem cells -- or, in WND's words, "the war is virtually over." But the article did not note that in a Times article the day before in which it is attributed to Thompson and a Japanese researcher making the same discovery that that "it would be premature to abandon research with stem cells taken from human embryos."
NewsBusters Hatin' on Illegal Immigrants Topic: NewsBusters
A pair of NewsBusters took time out from their holiday weekend to throw a little hate in the direction of illegal immigrtants.
A Nov. 24 post by Warner Todd Huston tries to downplay the humanity of immigrants by bashing a California sheriff who had praised an illegal immigrant who had stayed with a pair of accident victims until help arrived. "[T]hat this one illegal did something morally right even while he was breaking our laws, does not erase all the illegalities and law breaking that every other illegal immigrant has done over the last 30 years," Huston snarled. "Nor does it erase the fact that this particular illegal was breaking the law even as he was nice enough to help the little boy and his mother."
Huston then tries to downplay his own hate:
Estrada says that illegals get "demonized." I can agree with that. Sometimes anti-illegal immigrant activists get a bit carried away with how supposedly evil illegal immigrants really are. A dispassionate review of this issue can easily agree that illegals are sometimes overly "demonized." Then the Sheriff says they "do a lot of good." No one is saying all they do is necessarily bad, you know? Illegally immigrating here is the bad thing, but it does not follow that all illegal immigrants are somehow bad people because of it. But, like I said, even if they are basically good people, that inherent goodness does not absolve them of their lawbreaking.
But if Huston is opposed to "demonizing" illegal immigrants, why is he so worked up about the thought that anyone would praise them?
In a similar vein, a Nov. 24 post by Tim Graham is upset that Mike Huckabee doesn't want to demonize illegal immigrants, complaining that Huckabee "sounded like Hillary" on the issue of "tuition breaks for illegals," an apparent reference to the DREAM Act, which would permit in-state tuition rates for immigrants who arrived illegally in the U.S. as children.
Huckabee said, "If your government at the federal level is so incompetent that it fails to secure the border, you don't then grind your heel into the face of a 6-year-old child over it." Graham apparently has no problem with doing that.
A Nov. 23 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein promotes an "alternative plan" for dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Called the Israeli Initiative, it essentially comes down to paying Palestinians to leave the West Bank and Gaza and for Israel to officially annex those areas. While Klein asserts that the plan "has already gained broad backing, including from some leftist lawmakers and U.S. politicians," he never states one specific fact: The plan is being advanced by conservatives.
Klein describes Benny Elon, lead promoter of the initiative, only as "chairman of the National Union party and ... a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee." The National Union party is a right-wing party, and Elon has been a longtime opponent of the Israeli disengagement plan and other plans for peace promoted by non-conservatives, which Klein also doesn't mention. Klein also describes plan supporter Benjamin Netanyahu is described as a "[o]pposition leader" and "chairman of the Likud party" without noting that Likud is also a conservative-leaning party.
As we've detailed, Klein has a problem labeling conservatives as such.
Further, while Klein suggests that Elon's plan is a new one, WND wrote about it way back in 2002. In contrast to Klein's claim that the plan "has already gained broad backing," Wikipedia notes that a 2005 survey found that Elon's plan had no more public support than Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, and that Elon's National Union party got only 7 percent of the vote in the 2006 Israeli elections.
Recent CNSNews.com articles make a mockery of its purported mission to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story" by making only token efforts to obtain the other side of a story, then not bothering to follow up tell the full story.
A Nov. 21 article by Pete Winn on a planned boycott of the upcoming movie "The Golden Compass" reatures two conservative activists who "told Cybercast News Service" their objections to the movie. The other side, meanwhile, was represented by an excerpt from a 2002 interview with the author of the book on which the movie is based and an excerpt from an Australian newspaper interview with one of the actresses in the film. Winn made no apparent effort to contact anyone involved with the film for a specific response to the boycott threat.
A Nov. 20 article by Nathan Burchfiel quoted two "pro-life activists" claiming that "high abortion rates among black women" are linked to "high levels of 'hopelessness' in African-American communities across the United States." Burchfiel's attempt to "fairly present" the other side was limited to stating that "A spokesman for the Alan Guttmacher Institute did not respond to requests for comment by press time" and pulling statistics off the group's website. Was this story so time-sensitive that it couldn't wait for a live person from the Alan Guttmacher Institute to respond? Hardly.
A Nov. 16 article by Melanie Hunter featured a campaign by "[t]he nation's largest pro-life group" to urge Congress "to stop giving taxpayer dollars to organizations that perform abortions by passing one of two bills designed to ban the funding of abortion." Hunter made no apparent effort to contact an actual "organization that perform abortions" for a response; instead, she copied a statement from the Planned Parenthood website.
A Nov. 14 article by Burchfiel was almost entirely devoted to pushing a report from MRC sister organization Business & Media Institute claiming that "Major news outlets are largely ignoring personal responsibility in their coverage of a recent increase in loan foreclosures." Not until the final paragraph is it noted that "Representatives for the NBC 'Nightly News,' ABC 'World News' and CBS 'Evening News' did not respond to requests for comment by press time Tuesday." Again, this was not a time-sensitive article that needed to be pushed out as quickly as possible. And the absence of a follow-up article suggests that Burchfiel has made no further attempt to give the networks a fair opportunity to respond.
CNS' lack of balance is more evident in a series of articles it published on speakers at a recent gathering of the conservative Federalist Society. But while remarks by unabashedly conservative Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and John Roberts and President Bush weren't countered by any opposing view, the speech by Rudy Giuliani, who has a record of being less than conservative, was. Kevin Mooney wrote that "Some pro-life and Second Amendment advocates in attendance felt Giuliani's address was deliberately crafted to avoid directly addressing some of their central concerns."
By contrast, a July 31 article by Hutner covered a speech by Sen. Chuck Schumer before the American Constitution Society, the Federalist Society's liberal counterpart -- and Hunter contacted the leader of a conservative legal group for a response.
And there are still CNS articles that don't even make the pretense of telling the other side. A Nov. 21 article by Susan Jones on a California law that forbids employers from using state funds to deter union organizing tells only of business interests trying to overturn the law; Jones makes no indication that she even bothered to contact any supporter of the law for a response.
All of this further confirms our suspicions that CNS is pulling further right -- and more biased and unfair -- under new editors Terry Jeffrey and Michael Chapman.