A Dec. 4 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh keeps up his brand of "journalism" by subjectively misdescribing a California law on diversity, allowing opponents of the law to frame the issue and refusing to allow any supporter of the law to react to the criticism.
The article's headline set the tone by exclaiming "Homosexodus!" -- an apparent attempt to capitalize on its similarly silly "Sexpidemic" head. Unruh goes on to call the law in question a "newly mandated homosexual indoctrination program." In fact, all the bill essentially does is add "sexual orientation" to a list of characteristic California schools are not allowed to "promote a discriminatory bias" against. By repeating the "homosexual indoctrination" canard, Unruh is invoking the depiction-equals-approval fallacy, and he offers no evidence here beyond the assertions of opponents that the law does, in fact, result in "homosexual indoctrination" -- something Unruh would never have gotten away with had he written this article for his former employer, the Associated Press.
Unruh quotes numerous opponents of the law, most egregiously WND columnist Olivia St. John, who claimed in a Dec. 3 column -- without evidence, of course -- that the law will result in the state force-feeding children perverse material and videos vile enough to garner an R-rating in the local multiplex."
(St. John's column goes on to state -- which Unruh unquestioningly quotes: "When it comes to actively promoting sin to public school children, the homosexuals are light years ahead of adulterers, fornicators and substance abusers, who haven't yet implemented student-run organizations to convince children that such lifestyle choices are normal." What place does this have in a "news" article? What journalism school taught Unruh that this was a good, fair, balanced thing to put in one?)
While Unruh quotes state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell as saying the law "simplifies and clarifies existing civil rights protections for California students," he immediately allows another critic to attack the claim. O'Donnell's statement was apparently pulled by Unruh from a "a notice to all 'county and district superintendents'"; there is no evidence that Unruh contacted O'Donnell for a response. Unruh also pulled a quote from the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Sheila Kuehl -- whom he describes as a "Santa Monica Democrat, who lives an openly homosexual lifestyle" -- from a newspaper; there's no indication Unruh contacted her, either. Didn't want to catch those gay cooties over the phone, apparently.
This is an appallingly biased, unfair article by someone who has touted his long journalistic experience. But, sadly, it's par for the course for WND, who apparently has no problem printing such misleading tripe.
CNSNews.com seems to be gravitating toward a favorite Republican candidate -- and it ain't Mike Huckabee.
CNS has run three articles that are arguably critical of Huckabee in the past couple of days:
A Dec. 4 article by Fred Lucas reported that "some of [Huckabee's] Republican Party opponents are criticizing his record on illegal immigration as being un-conservative and not in line with what American voters want from their next president."
A Dec. 5 article by Randy Hall stated: "A group that opposes interaction between religion and government Tuesday accused Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. of violating federal tax law by using the school's resources to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The group also asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate."
A Dec. 5 article by Nathan Burchfiel began: "As former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee surges in polls against other Republicans seeking the 2008 presidential nomination, fiscal conservatives are taking a closer look at his record and expressing concerns about his approach to taxes and other economic issues."
By contrast, Mitt Romney is getting much gentler treatment. A Dec. 5 article by Kevin Mooney repeats claims from "Rev. Lou Sheldon and other Christian leaders who do not see Romney's religious beliefs as a major impediment to his attaining the Republican presidential nomination. " Buty Mooney never really delves into the nature of historical criticism of Mormonism by evangelicals beyond noting Sheldon's observation that "[t]raditionally, many Christians have thought of Mormonism as a cult," and he gets the name of Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and longtime critic of Mormonism, wrong (calling him "Al Moulder").
Mooney cited Mohler in the context of ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asking Huckabee if he agreed with Mohler's view that Mormonism contradicts the basic tenets of Christianity -- a view for which Mooney offered no elaboration. If a prominent evangelical like Mohler holds such a view, why is CNS -- a news service that primarily caters to conservatives and evangelicals -- trying to paper it over instead of detailing it for its readers?
WND Ignores Own Reporting on Bossie Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 4 WorldNetDaily article reported on a lawsuit threat against CNN by David Bossie and the group he heads, Citizens United. Among the offenses for which Bossie and his group are seeking "a formal apology and public retraction" that Bossie is a "dirty trickster."
But evidence to support that claim can be found in WND's own reporting. As we've noted, WND reported in 1998 on Bossie's anti-Clinton shenanigans in the 1990s -- which included allegations of stalking a Whitewater witness and attempts to steal documents related to various Clinton scandals, on top of his release of doctored transcripts of former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell that got Bossie canned from the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, where he worked as an investigator for anti-Clinton Rep. Dan Burton. Writer David Bresnahan stated in his lead that sources on the that committee wondered whether Bossie "was either extremely incompetent or was intentionally trying to sabotage investigations."
WND makes no mention of this -- even though WND originally reported it. Indeed, the article noted that Bossie was "a former chief investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight" without mentioning that he lost the job for doctoring the Hubbell transcripts.
NewsBusters Silent on NRO Reporting Scandal Topic: NewsBusters
While the folks at NewsBusters have been incredibly eager to report on questions about the veracity of Scott Thomas Beauchamp's columns for The New Republic, they have been silent about a similar scandal: apparently false claims in a military blog on National Review Online.
W. Thomas Smith Jr., who writes for The Tank blog for NRO, has been forced to backpedal on claims that between 4,000-5,000 Hezbollah gunmen had "deployed to the Christian areas of Beirut in an unsettling 'show of force'" and that "some 200-plus heavily armed Hezbollah militiamen" occupied a "sprawling Hezbollah tent city" near the Lebanese parliament.
The latest NewsBusters attack on Beauchamp is a Dec. 4 post by Bob Owens, who claimed the whole episode shows "just how disreputable the magazine truly is," even citing criticism of Beauchamp in a Media Matters column by Bob Bateman. Even though Bateman also touches on the NRO controversy, Owens doesn't clip it and doesn't say a word about it anywhere else in his post. Does Owens this National Review is now "disreputable" because Smith did the same thing he accused Beauchamp of doing? He doesn't tell us.
C'mon, NewsBusters, give us something. At least tell us why Beauchamp is so much more awful than Smith because he's a liberal...
Bush 'Vindicted' By Stem Cell Advance? Not Quite Topic: Media Research Center
In a Dec. 3 NewsBusters post and Dec. 4 MRC CyberAlert item, Brad Wilmouth claimed that "scientific advancements on stem cell research have vindicated George W. Bush's resistance to destroy actual embryos."
Well, not exactly: In a Dec. 3 Washington Post op-ed, James A. Thomson, one of the lead researchers in the scientific advancement Wilmouth referenced -- reprogramming skin cells to act like stem cells without the use of embryos -- took columnist Charles Krauthammer to task for suggesting the same thing:
Far from vindicating the current U.S. policy of withholding federal funds from many of those working to develop potentially lifesaving embryonic stem cells, recent papers in the journals Science and Cell described a breakthrough achieved despite political restrictions. In fact, work by both the U.S. and Japanese teams that reprogrammed skin cells depended entirely on previous embryonic stem cell research.
Thomson supports legislation to expand embryonic stem cell research and points out that "It remains to be seen whether reprogrammed skin cells will differ in significant ways from embryonic stem cells."
NewsBusters Ratches Up Clinton Conspiracy-Mongering Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters must've gotten a new shipment of tinfoil hats, because they're all about the Clinton conspiracy-mongering right now.
First, as we noted, a Dec. 1 post by Noel Sheppard asked if Hillary staged the hostage standoff at one of her New Hampshire campaign offices "to make herself look battle-hardened."
Now, a Dec. 3 post by Tim Graham goes old school in trying to resurrect an moldy Clinton scandal by starting with the headline, "Was the Report on Rudy's Mistress Security Squad a 'Dirty Trick'?":
In Monday’s Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz is noting how Rudy Giuliani uses the "liberal media" as a foil in his campaign, and also offers the latest in a trend of adding prominence to his old WashPost colleagues at The Politico website for their scoop on Giuliani’s use of public money (for his security detail) for his messy private life (visits to his mistress in the Hamptons). Giuliani called the story "totally false," five years old, and a "debate-day dirty trick."
Kurtz did not ask about that "liberal media" and their double standard: that the public moneys wasted on enabling adultery was always a distasteful right-wing trash-for-cash story when the Clintons were in the spotlight (Troopergate, anyone?), and that a five-year-old Clinton adultery story was always something the liberal media would regard as news no one needed to read.
As we've previously detailed, the Troopergate story is mostly debunked -- not because it was a "five-year-old story" but because the troopers tended to back off their claims when actually testifying under oath. And Graham seems not to understand the difference between unverified, if not unverifiable, accusations by people with a personal grudge toward the subject (as the troopers were with Clinton) and documented evidence (as with Giuliani).
Graham does, to his credit, try to sorta tamp down the idea that the nefarious Hillary was behind the Giuliani story, adding that "A liberal media outlet can be aggressively anti-Republican without needing assistance from a rival campaign." But calling the Politico a "liberal media outlet" ignores the Politico's attacks on Democrats and its symbiotic relationship with the conservative Drudge Report.
Feder Dishonestly Defends Himself Against SPLC Topic: Horowitz
In a Dec. 3 FrontPageMag article, Don Feder attacks the Southern Poverty Law Center for attacking him in a Nov. 1 item noting Feder's appearance at a conference in Latvia run by a group called Watchmen on the Walls, which the SPLC calls "anti-gay." Feder never contradicts this assertion about Watchmen on the Walls -- which there is ample evidence to support -- instead claiming that "Most of the 2-day conference ('The War on Christians And The Values Voter in 2006') had nothing to do with homosexuality, but focused on attacks on Christians from the courts, Hollywood, the news media, etc."
One of the speeches Feder gave at the Latvian conference is essentially a "we need more white babies" speech; another attacks Hollywood for issuing "toxins far more lethal" than "chemical waste or nuclear waste," one of them being "[t]he normalization of homosexuality."
Feder then dishonestly attacks the SPLC's depiction of him. Feder writes:
As for my dangerous liaisons ("Feder is involved with several extremist groups"), SPLC noted that I'm a member of the advisory board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform "an anti-immigrant group whose leader has compared immigrants to bacteria."
The "bacteria" stuff refers to a 1997 Knight-Ridder article on FAIR founder John Tanton. "Bacteria" was the way the author of the article characterized Tanton's views on immigration. Tanton himself never used the word.
In fact, here's what the March 17, 1997, Knight Ridder article said about Tanton:
He founded FAIR in 1979 after others in the zero-population movement declined to take on the hot topic. In his characteristically blunt manner, Tanton explained his obsession with immigration, likening the flood of humanity to America's shores over the past 400 years to a plate of bacteria in a medical lab.
"You put a bug in there and it starts growing and gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And it grows until it finally fills the whole plate," Tanton said. "It uses up the medium. And then maybe it crashes and dies."
Yet somehow, in Feder's eyes, Tanton didn't say the word "bacteria," so it's OK.
Feder is also a little shaky on the facts. He goes on to refer to "Arkansas' Fayetteville State University"; it's in North Carolina.
Klein Sat on Story to Protect His Book Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 3 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein -- with the misleading headline "Israel covered up murder by Abbas' group?" -- begins: "Did Israel deliberately hide Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' organization's responsibility for the murder of a Jew until the completion of last week's U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit?"
Why, WorldNetDaily would never do such a henious thing as delay reporting something for political reasons, would it?
Well, actually, yes.
A Nov. 30 article describing how "the leftist British lawmaker George Galloway abruptly booted WND's Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein and radio talk-host Rusty Humphries from his London office and handed them over to Parliament police, claiming the two were Zionist operatives who had breached security by falsely presenting themselves as reporters" includes this particularly interesting nugget:
The entire fiasco, which occurred in June, was recorded on audio tape.
Klein, author of the recently released book "Schmoozing with Terrorists," said he and Humphries had refrained from releasing the tape until after the publication of "Schmoozing" for fear Klein would lose some Hamas sources.
Once Klein did go public with it, he immediately raced to Fox News to tell his story. The guy's got a book to sell, y'know. And now that it's in print, it's apparently no big deal for him to burn his sources -- which makes you wonder about the veracity of the book. After all, who's going to believe a Palestinian militant who claims that Klein libeled him in his book? Seems to us that the chatting-up-terrorists gimmick gives Klein perfect license to write whatever he wants, true or not -- who's going to make the effort to contact his terrorist buddies to fact-check it?
So, what's the difference between waiting a few days to report something so as not to jeopardize peace talks and waiting six months to report something to protect a reporter's sources, at least until said reporter's book (making him and his employer a little coin) was printed? The latter is arguably more dishonest.
But given that "Schmoozing with Terrorists" itself is based on a dubious gimmick, such dishonesty is par for the course for Klein and WND.
MRC's Business & Media Institute Misleads on Oil Prices Topic: Media Research Center
In a Dec. 3 Business & Media Institute item and NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor writes that back in October, "the media were jumping on the $100-barrel bandwagon, warning Americans the worst was ahead," adding, " It has been six weeks since that warning. Oil hasn’t hit $100 a barrel, and the retail price of gasoline is a little more than $3 a gallon." But nowhere does Poor note just how close crude oil prices got to $100 a barrel, which would have undermined his attack on the media as scaremongers.
Poor suggests that oil prices never got much above $90 a barrel as he cited news reports from Nov. 6 that predicted $100 a barrel prices. In fact, the day after those reports, light sweet crude peaked during trading at $98.62 a barrel, closing at $98.10. Then, on Nov. 21, light sweet crude peaked again during trading at an all-time high of $99.29 a barrel.
In other words, the prediction of $100 a barrel oil were not unfounded and, in fact, within a buck of being realized. While it's technically true that "oil hasn’t hit $100 a barrel," Poor is being disingenuous by ignoring that the fact it came to within a dollar of $100 and pretending that because it didn't exactly hit that magic number, those record highs are somehow meaningless.
The MRC has exhibited an obsession with oil prices in the past, as we've noted, insisting that prices weren't at a "record high" because they weren't adjusted for inflation. Poor and friends can't use that excuse these days -- prices are officially in record-high territory.
Kincaid Suddenly Hates Boycotts Topic: Accuracy in Media
Boycotts were once a good idea for Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid. For instance, in a November 2003 column he wrote, "Perhaps the best antidote is to target and boycott actors who lend their names to Hollywood's political propaganda or pass themselves off as politicians or statesmen." And in a June 2005 column, he promoted the idea of a boycott of George Lucas' films because the final film in the "Star Wars" prequel series was purportedly "intended to be a commentary on the Bush Administration and the Iraq War."
In a Dec. 3 column, though, Kincaid is horrified that the Council on American Islamic Relations is pushing an advertiser boycott of Michael Savage: "The modus operandi is as straightforward as it is frightening?pressure companies to stop advertising on the show, and 'The Savage Nation' will go off the air. Hence, a prominent critic of political Islam will be silenced." Well, duh, that's how a boycott works. Was it any less "frightening" when Kincaid endorsed boycotting the works of those whose political views he disagrees with, thus silencing their voice? Nope.
Nevertheless, Kincaid goes on to state: "Whether you like Savage or not, he must not be forced off the air as the result of a special interest political pressure campaign." Apparently, though, it's OK to force liberals off the air as the result of a "special interest political pressure campaign."
Kincaid curiously makes no mention of the fact that, a few days earlier, Savage filed a lawsuit against CAIR citing copyright infringement for using Savage's words against him (or the fact that Savage has a history of suing his critics, thus attempting to silence their voices).
Kincaid goes on to claim: "The issue isn’t whether Savage has been critical of Islam or even whether he has made some extreme statements. The issue is that a special interest group wants to muzzle its political enemies." Yet nowhere in the column does Kincaid note any of the "extreme statements" Savage has made about Islam so people can judge for themselves and, again, this contradicts Kincaid's previously expressed enthusiasm for muzzling political enemies in the form of Hollywood liberals.
Graham STILL Not Over The 'Macaca' Thing Topic: NewsBusters
We've previously noted that the MRC's Tim Graham had a hard time getting over the whole "macaca" thing after it arguably cost George Allen re-election as senator from Virginia in 2006. Apparently he's still not over it.
A Dec. 1 NewsBusters post by Graham claims that because the Washington Post ran a short item noting what S.R. Sidarth -- the campaign staffer for Allen's opponent, Jim Webb, who videotaped Allen calling him "macaca" -- is doing these days, "The Washington Post still relishes the moment that young S.R. Sidarth first launched the 'Macaca' boat."
But wasn't it Allen, not Sidarth, who "launched the 'Macaca' boat" by using the term in the first place? Why is Graham blaming the victim?
Finkelstein Thinks David Broder Is A Liberal Topic: NewsBusters
In a Dec. 2 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein bashed networks who bring on Pat Buchanan to advocate for the conservative viewpoint, insisting, "On foreign policy, Pat sounds like someone auditioning for Secretary of Peace in Pres. Kucinich's cabinet" and adding, "the MSM shouldn't be allowed to get away with faux-balance by passing Pat off as a partisan Republican. He's anything but."
Yet in another post earlier that day, Finkelstein did what he accused others of doing -- assigned a presumed political viewpoint to a pundit without examining the facts.
In the post, Finkelstein declares the Washington Post's David Broder -- who had recommended a McCain-Huckabee Republican ticket -- to be a "Dem-pundit," bashing him as "a Democrat designing a Republican presidential ticket."
The problem is that Broder is the kind of Democrat who, as Media Matters' Jamison Foser points out, attacks Democratic leaders and praises Bush. Which is to say, not much of a Democrat at all.
Finkelstein might want to transfer some of that judgment on who is and is not qualified to be a conservative to apply a little due diligence on who he reflexively labels as liberal. He does, after all, have a history of bashing Chris Matthews as a liberal even though they think alike on certain issues (i.e. hating Hillary).
NewsBusters Keeps Up the Hillary-Hate Topic: NewsBusters
Further confirming our suspicion that the Media Research Center's chief mission these days is to attack anyone who commits the sin of saying something nice about certain people who have the last name of Clinton, a pair of NewsBusters posts deplore the idea that Hillary Clinton reacted well to the standoff at one of her New Hampshire campaign offices.
In a Dec. 1 post, Jason Aslinger was offended that in a Politico article, Hillary "has propped up Hillary Clinton as: 1) being presidential, 2) looking the part, 3) having a unique perspective as a woman, and 4) not being contrived, all because she travelled to New Hampshire and made a couple statements."
Another Dec. 1 post, by Noel Sheppard, called it "nothing less than sick-making" that an Associated Press article -- "almost as if parroting talking points from one of Hillary's campaign workers -- managed to not only give her credit for what local officials in the area did to quickly solve the takeover without any injury or loss of life, but also painted a picture of the junior senator as being presidential in the midst of a crisis." Sheppard went on to sneer: "How disgusting. Honestly, this reads like one of her aides wrote it instead of someone calling himself a journalist. Talk amongst yourselves, for I need to take another shower and disinfect my keyboard."
Sheppard then went on to channel the right-wing conspiracy nuts at Free Republic: "Having staged questions at campaign events and debates, is it possible that Hillary, in the midst of several very bad weeks on the stump, orchestrated this entire crisis to make herself look battle-hardened?"
Wow. Seems like Sheppard's the one who's acting in a disgusting manner.
WND Ignores Savage's History of Suing His Critics Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 30 WorldNetDaily article reports that "[t]rend-setting radio talk show host Michael Savage" has filed a lawsuit against the Council on Islamic-American Relations, claiming that CAIR's alleged use of Savage's rantings to raise money is copyright infringement against Savage. The lawsuit also accuses CAIR of being a "political vehicle of international terrorism" that seeks to do "material harm to those voices who speak against the violent agenda of CAIR's clients." But nowhere does WND note that Savage has a history of filing lawsuits to silence his critics.
In 2003, Savage's syndicator, Talk Radio Network, sued the operators of the websites SavageStupidity.com, MichaelSavageSucks.com, and Take Back The Media for calling for an advertiser boycott of Savage's show, thus "unlawfully interfer[ing] with TRN's business relationships with its advertisers and sponsors." Like the CAIR lawsuit, TRN's lawsuit tries to make an end run around the First Amendment to silence a critic by alleging copyright infringement. The TRN suit also cited "tortious interference with contract," "intentional interference with prospective economic advantage" and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
Interestingly, the only example of "false and malicious" information provided in the lawsuit is the claim that "TRN is owned and operated by 'cult leader Roy Masters.'" The lawsuit responds only: "These statements are false. Roy Masters does not own TRN." But as we've detailed, Masters founded TRN, his son currently runs it, and he has been accused of cult-like behavior.
Though that lawsuit was filed by Savage's syndicator, Savage clearly endorsed it, having previously threatened the boycott leaders on the air:
You rats! You stinking rats who hide in the sewers! You think you can go after my income? You think you can kill my advertisers? You think I'm Dr. Laura? You think I'm gonna roll over like a pussy? You're wrong. I'm going to find out where you get your money from. You live by handouts, all of you. You live off grants, all of you. You're a bunch of beggars, but you don't know how lucky you are. If you continue this, we're going to go after your funding sources. And we will do everything we can within the legal realm to cut off that funding! We are also going to go to the U.S. Justice Department under John Ashcroft! What you are doing is illegal! You think it's 1965 and I'm South Africa? I've got news for you: it's not 1965 and it ain't South Africa! I'll cut your funding off, and if you break the law any further, I'll put you in jail!
Of particular note in the CAIR lawsuit is how Savage's radio work is described as something akin to performance art:
Michael Savage’s show in its introduction promises “psychological nudity”. Savage’s outrage and strong language objecting to the murder of homosexuals and the mutilation and oppression of women under the guise of religion makes much more sense than the CAIR packaged spin that Savage who has repeatedly taken pro-faith views was somehow against a particular religious group in its entirety.
The audience of “The Savage Nation” expects this type of from the heart outrage and when it is directed at a murderer such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his ilk, the piece is far more understandable and far more American mainstream. While the strength of the outrage is remarkable and a hallmark of “The Savage Nation”, the sentiment is shared by a huge number of Americans.
Following in longstanding tradition, WND gives CAIR no opportunity to respond to the lawsuit, nor does it disclose its previous business relationship with Savage, which included publishing his early books under the WND Books imprint.
UPDATE: A Dec. 1 WND article notes that "Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, told WND the group would not comment on the action until the document had been reviewed," but goes on to repeat attacks against CAIR by claiming that "several of CAIR's leaders have been convicted on terror charges since 9/11." WND gave no indication that it gave CAIR a chance to respond to these claims.
Kessler Back in the Romney-Fluffing Saddle Topic: Newsmax
After mostly laying low for the past few months following his penning of an embarassing, creepy love letter to Mitt Romney's wife, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler has roared back with a new round of Romney-fluffing.
A Nov. 29 column insisted that "the case of a killer released by a Mitt Romney judicial appointee won’t likely hurt the GOP candidate the way Willie Horton haunted Michael Dukakis." AFter all, Kessler wrote, "a look at Romney’s record shows that he has neither been soft on crime nor liberal on social issues. As governor, he supported the death penalty in a state that strongly opposes it."
Kessler's Nov. 30 column touted the American Conservative Union's David Keene's endorsement of Romney, proclaiming that "[t]he endorsement is a pivotal moment in the 2008 campaign" and "is likely to galvanize fellow conservatives in Romney’s direction." The column contains such subheads as "Romney — Upfront Conservative," "The Right Man for the Job" and "The Right Change Is Good."
Looks like Kessler's working himself up to another creepy Romney love letter...