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Saturday, March 15, 2008
MRC Finally Mentions Hagee -- Then Equivocates
Topic: NewsBusters

We've detailed how the Media Research Center has generally ignored the controversy surrounding the endorsement of John McCain by anti-Catholic evangelist John Hagee. Tim Graham finally mentions Hagee in a March 15 NewsBusters post -- then tries to equivocate it away:

If you have liberal friends who try to rebut you and say that the same networks that had largely ignored Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright also ignored John McCain being embraced by harshly anti-Catholic evangelist John Hagee, you can first say that there’s a huge difference between someone’s selected pastor of two decades and a new endorser.

Graham then notes network coverage and concludes: "McCain satisfied the Catholic League that he had rejected Hagee's whore-of-Babylon wheezing." What Graham doesn't address is why the MRC is essentially ignored the controversy until now, even though it's normally quick to pounce on any perceived anti-Catholic bias in the media, or why the Catholic League's satisfaction with McCain's rejection of Hagee's statements (though not his endorsement) was worth noting but not the Catholic League's original criticism two weeks earlier.

Does this mean the Clinton Equivocation is morphing into the Obama Equivocation? 

We've theorized that Graham, Brent Bozell and Co., by giving McCain a pass, are putting aside their religious faith in service of partisan politics -- they don't want to be seen as attacking the presumtive Republican candidate for president, even though they would in all likelihood have jumped on the McCain story if he hadn't yet clinched the nomination.

Meanwhile, the MRC folks have jumped all over the controversy over Wright's words -- and, in contrast to Graham's meek acquiescence to the Catholic League's acceptance of McCain's quasi-rejection, seem to think that no condemnation Obama makes, no matter how strong, is not enough.

A March 15 post by John Stephenson concedes that Obama made a "STRONG condemnation," then insists that there are "holes in Obama’s repudiation," and finally huffing, "I’m not convinced." Stephenson doesn't explain what, if anything, Obama can do to satisfy him.

An earlier post by Stephenson likened Wright to the notorious gay-haters at the Westboro Baptist Church -- if we're going to play the equivocation game, it should be noted that Stephenson offers no evidence that any member of Wright's church, Obama included, travels around the country hurling slurs at funerals -- but he makes no mention of Hagee and McCain spiritual adviser Rod Parsley, whose combined history of statements certainly approach the Westboro-esque.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:26 AM EDT
What Aaron Klein Didn't Dispute
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 13 article by Ari Berman in The Nation cites WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein as a prime source of smears against Barack Obama. In a March 14 WND column, Klein fired back.

Berman singled out a Feb. 24 WND article in which Klein played guilt-by-association by trying to tie Obama to a former '60s radical with whom Obama had once served on a nonprofit group's board and to a pro-Palestinian activist, Rashid Khalidi, to whom that board awarded a grant.

Klein tried the technicality approach: "I never reported Khalidi was an Obama adviser. I also never stated anywhere as fact that Khalidi was employed by the PLO. ... I fairly note Rashid Khalidi has denied working for the PLO." But it's clear that Klein wanted to leave in the impression that Khalidi worked for the PLO in his Feb. 24 article: Klein's statement that Khalidi "reportedly has worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization" appeared in the second paragraph, but his statement that "Rashid Khalidi at times has denied working directly for the PLO" doesn't appear until paragraph 20.

Klein also clearly wanted to leave the impression that Obama has some sort of close relationship with both Khalidi and former Weather Underground radical William Ayers, even though Klein proves nothing beyond serving on a board with Ayers that awarded a grant to Khalidi's group. Yet Klein insisted that this somehow ads up to Obama having "relationships with extremely questionable, terrorist-supporting, anti-American elements."

Even as he plays the victim by claiming Berman "attempt[ed] to smear my factual reporting," Klein unloads a truckload of smears himself. He calls The Nation "a small-circulation extreme leftist magazine popular with philosophy majors and owners of vegan restaurants in Manhattan's East Village" that "has reportedly lost money in all but three or four years of its operation and is said to be sustained in large part by donations." (We suspect that WND's recent libel lawsuit settlement will not be positively impacting its financial situation.) He called Berman's article a "drunken tirade" and a "lying rant" and Berman himself "hysterical" and an "Obama-hack" who is "a symptom of a malignant messianic infatuation with Obama evidenced by the drive-by media for whom Obama can do no wrong." Sounds like Klein has some issues with Obama, which means we can see more smears from him like his Feb. 24 article.

Klein further claimed, among numerous other unsupported accuations, that Berman "falsely depicts my public relations representative, Maria Sliwa, as a 'Christian publicist,' when she is no such thing." In fact, according to an article in the Christian magazine Charisma:

Sliwa dusted off a Bible a Christian friend had given her as a wedding present and for the first time dug into the Scriptures with an open mind. She discussed spiritual concerns with her friend, who invited her to a Pentecostal church on Long Island, where she surrendered her life to Christ. "I got radically saved," she says.

Several weeks later she was baptized in the Holy Spirit at Christian Pentecostal Church. "It gave me a new boldness I never had," she says. "I knew then my whole life would be devoted to the Lord."

So Sliwa is a Christian and a publicist, which, in fact, does make her a "Christian publicist."

Never challenged by Klein, however, is the section in which Berman links to a ConWebWatch article as support:

Klein made a name for himself by getting terrorists to say nice things about Democrats and allying himself with extremist elements of the Israeli right, whom he frequently quotes as sources in his articles--when he bothers to quote anyone at all. Klein originally called Hillary Clinton the "jihadist choice for president," but when Clinton stumbled, he turned his fire to Obama, attempting to expose his so-called "terrorist connections."

While Berman seems to have overstated things a bit, so does Klein. And let the record show that Klein has never challenged, let alone contradicted, anything we have written about him.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:20 AM EDT
Friday, March 14, 2008
Not All Anti-Catholicism Offends Bozell
Topic: Media Research Center

Brent Bozell has dedicated his March 13 column to bashing comedian Lewis Black for making what he called anti-Catholic statements. "Now, on the cusp of the Easter celebration, it’s Catholic-hunting season again," Bozell fumed.

But while Bozell and the rest of his MRC crew regularly attacks perceived anti-Catholicism (as we've noted), no MRC employee, Bozell included, has seen fit to denounce John McCain for accepting the endorsement of anti-Catholic evangelist John Hagee.

Why won't Bozell do what would be logical for him, as an activist Catholic, to do? Perhaps because he and the MRC must avoid doing anything to jeopardize Repubican chances in November, no matter how much it pains them to defend a Repubican presidential candidate it considers insufficiently conservative. Had Hagee's endorsement occured before McCain clinched the nomination, the MRC would be beating it into the ground in order to boost more conservative candidates.

In other words, Bozell is sacrificing his religious faith for partisan politics. That doesn't exactly make him a good Catholic, does it?


Posted by Terry K. at 2:08 PM EDT
WND Downward Spiral Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

 A March 13 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh on the Phillip Long homeschooling case in California remains silent about Long's control-freak history. Unruh and WND thus continue to effectively condone child abuse.

And, of course, Unruh indulges in another of his obsessions, likening anyone who isn't sufficiently supportive of homeschooling to Nazis.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:41 PM EDT
On Adding Context
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March 12 NewsBusters post, Matthew Sheffield wrote regarding media analysis pieces about why Eliot Spitzer did what he did: "[A]n article like this would never be written trying to 'add context' to a Republican plagued by a sex scandal. Mark Foley or Bernard Kerik would have killed to get such press."

But Foley and Kerik got great press from the ConWeb, at least until the depths of their offenses proved too much for even them to continue to whitewash.

As we detailed, Newsmax and WorldNetDaily initially portrayed Foley as the victim of "radical activists," the "Clinton War Room" and groups funded by George Soros, and CNSNews.com did its best to try and distract people away from it. Even NewsBusters' own Mark Finkelstein forwarded the idea that the revelation of Foley's dalliances with teenage male congressional pages was "part of a calculated campaign to keep the story in the news and inflict maximum political damage on the GOP."

As for Kerik, Newsmax was his biggest booster upon his nomination as homeland security secretary, decrying revelations about his past as "unverified" and "journalistic hatchet jobs." And Kerik's extramarital affairs were arguably the least of Kerik's problems (though the fact the apartment where Kerik carried on said affairs was supposed to be for the use of 9/11 cleanup workers was decidedly egregious); being linked to the mob, for instance, was a tad more important.

If Sheffield feels that a journalistic void exists for "context" articles that explain away conservative scandals, why doesn't he fill it? His "news" compadres at CNS would presumably be happy to publish them.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EDT
Note to ConWeb: Obama HAS Rejected Pastor's Remarks
Topic: NewsBusters

The headline of a March 13 NewsBusters post by John Stephenson, regarding newly reported controversial remarks regarding 9/11 by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of Barack Obama's church in Chicago, asks: "Will Media Hold Obama To Repudiate His Pastor's Hateful Remarks?" Stephenson asks again in the post: "When will Obama repudiate the message of hate from his own minister, who is a part of his campaign?" he then answers his own question: "Don't expect Obama to repudiate these remarks." Stephenson then proudly states that "FOX has been reporting this like the damning story it is," adding, "Will this story get the legs it should have, or will the media try to sweep it under the rug?"

Sorry to interrupt Stephenson's witchhunt, but Obama has, in fact, specifically disavowed Wright's 9/11 comments that Stephenson is in such high dudgeon about. In fact, he did so nearly a year ago.

A March 14 WorldNetDaily column by Hal Lindsey similarly gins up some outrage over Wright's remarks, then selectively quotes the April 2007 New York Times article in which Obama disavowed the statements:

Note especially Wright's assessment of the attacks on New York, Washington and the skies over Pennsylvania: "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Is this one of those comments Obama's "old uncle" says that he doesn't "always" agree with – or one of those he doesn't find "particularly controversial"?

Not really, says Obama. "It sounds like he was trying to be provocative," he told a New York Times reporter.

What the Times actually wrote (with the relevant part Lindsey didn't include in bold):

On the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later he wrote that the attacks had proved that “people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns.”

Such statements involve “a certain deeply embedded anti-Americanism,” said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative group that studies religious issues and public policy. “A lot of people are going to say to Mr. Obama, are these your views?”

Mr. Obama says they are not.

“The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification,” he said in a recent interview. He was not at Trinity the day Mr. Wright delivered his remarks shortly after the attacks, Mr. Obama said, but “it sounds like he was trying to be provocative.”

Will Stephenson or Lindsey ever acknowledge this? Don't count on it. 

Meanwhile, back at NewsBusters, Mark Finkelstein weighs in: "Raise your hand if you think [CNN's Anderson] Cooper wouldn't be so quick to move on if the Republican presidential nominee had such a close relationship with a pastor of comparably extreme views." 

Wait -- wasn't John McCain recently endorsed by an evangelist who has called the Catholic Church "The Great Whore" and a "false cult system"? Those aren't "extreme views"?

Apparently not, as far as Finkelstein is concerned -- as we've noted, he and his fellow MRC employees have not been particularly moved to denounce Hagee, even though they have a history of criticizing statements they consider anti-Catholic.

UPDATE: Also worth noting is that McCain has as a "spiritual adviser" one Rev. Rod Parsley, who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it, and even claimed that America founded to destroy Islam. We're noting it because nobody at the MRC seems to have an interest in doing so.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:07 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, March 14, 2008 12:13 PM EDT
Chastain Misleads on Obama House Purchase
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 13 WorldNetDaily column by Jane Chastain claimed that Barack Obama "received a suspiciously good deal on the home he bought – around $300,000 less than the asking price – on the very same day that Tony Rezko's wife bought the vacant lot next door for the full asking price. Shortly thereafter, Obama bought part of that vacant lot from the Rezkos to expand his yard. Hmmm!"

In fact, the couple who sold the house to Obama said Obama's $1.65 million bid "was the best offer" and "they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:14 AM EDT
Thursday, March 13, 2008
CNS Attack on Planned Parenthood Continues
Topic: CNSNews.com

A March 13 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr continues her war on a Planned Parenthood-operated website offering sex-related information to teens. Starr features a a director of porn movies praising the website -- and, of course, someone criticizing the "endorsement."

Missing from Starr's article -- and from all of Starr's articles regarding the Planned Parenthood website to date -- is any comment from Planned Parenthood. Starr doesn't even bother to note whether she contacted PP for a response. Sham balance lives!


Posted by Terry K. at 10:28 PM EDT
Good Timing
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's an interesting bit of timing that on the same day we lay out our argument that WorldNetDaily is effectively condoning child abuse by refusing to report on the abusive history of the family at the center of the California homeschooling ruling, WND editor Joseph Farah pens a column arguing that the rise in S&M fetishes has a correlation to the decline in corporal punishment for children.

No, really:

Let's see, tens of millions of children are spanked in the U.S. and maybe a few thousand people in San Francisco like whips and chains. I'm willing to bet it's the latter who were not spanked. And that's why they want it.

In fact, I can prove that spanking doesn't lead to S&M.

Is spanking on the decline in our society? Yes.

Is S&M on the increase? Yes.

It used to be that practically everyone spanked their kids. That's the way it was 40 years ago. It was normal and healthy. "Spare the rod, spoil the child," was the conventional wisdom of the day, and there were precious few S&M bars around in those days. In fact, no one even knew what S&M was.

But with the popularity of Benjamin Spock's child-rearing tips came a decline in spanking. Within a decade, came the rise of sexual deviancy in all forms.

Farah concludes by declaring, "God says parents should spank their children and be firm disciplinarians."

It sounds like Farah would be proud of Phillip Long's brand of discipline and that WND ought to be proud to report it in detail. So why won't it?


Posted by Terry K. at 2:43 PM EDT
Disclosure!
Topic: NewsBusters

In a shocking turn of events, a March 12 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard -- who has a long history of not disclosing the conservative, energy industry-funded nature of groups who oppose action on global warming -- made a small concession to the idea of full disclosure by describing the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is buying attack ads on Al Gore, as "conservative."

Bravo, Mr. Sheppard! Maybe next time you can deign to tell your readers that CEI has accepted funding from energy companies like ExxonMobil. We know full disclosure is a painful thing for someone not used to offering it, but you'll feel much better once you do.

Further, while Sheppard attacks "the dangers inherent in policies advocated by Nobel Laureate Al Gore," nowhere does Sheppard baselessly accuse Gore of being a global warming activist just for the money. Does this mean that Sheppard has accepted the latter half of our put-up-or-shut-up challenge to him to offer actual evidence for his claim about Gore?

Victory!


Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Downward Spiral
Topic: WorldNetDaily
First was the libel lawsuit. Then there was the embrace of never-verified claims about Barack Obama. Now WND is effectively condoning child abuse by whitewashing a California family's dysfunctional home life in order to advance its pro-homeschooling agenda. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 AM EDT
This Is Whitewashing?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a March 12 WorldNetDaily article headlined "Israeli media whitewashing 'peace partner'?" Aaron Klein writes:

The Israeli media today portrayed the assassinated planner of last week's Jerusalem shooting massacre as a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group even though he is a well-known activist from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, WND has learned.

The U.S. considers Fatah to be moderate. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government has been holding regular negotiations with Abbas' officials in line with last November's U.S.-backed Annapolis Summit, which seeks to create a Fatah-led Palestinian state by the end of the year.

How, exactly, is that "whitewashing"? After all, Islamic Jihad sounds much more sinister than Fatah.

Real whitewashing is, say, obscuring the fact that one's sources are violent right-wing extremists.

There's another issue with Klein's article, as well as a March 7 article in which he first claimed that the alleged planner of the attack, Muhammad Shehadi, as belonging to Fatah: He doesn't quote anyone on the record saying it.

The March 7 article cites only anonymous "senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials" as making the claim, adding that "According to Palestinian security officials familiar with Shehadi, after losing the 2006 election as a Fatah leader, Jihadi worked for about six months for the Islamic Jihad terror group but then switched back to Fatah." Klein's March 12 article repeats a claim that "Shehadi is a well-known Fatah activist who ran unsuccessfully in the 2006 Palestinian elections as a local Fatah legislator from Bethlehem," but he offers no attribution for the claim.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:11 AM EDT
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Funny, We Don't Recall ...
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March 12 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham writes: "Geraldo Rivera of Fox News keeps proving the ideological diversity of the FNC staff on his book tour attacking opponents of illegal immigration."

Funny, we don't recall anyone at the MRC saying that Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs keep proving the ideological diversity of the CNN staff.

Elsewhere on NewsBusters, Ken Shepherd is put out that a picture of Tucker Carlson in a Washington, D.C., commuter paper carried the caption "Go ahead: Slap him in your imagination." Does this mean Shepherd now denounces (and rejects) the Slap Hillary website?


Posted by Terry K. at 6:48 PM EDT
The Evil of Marketing, Redux
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 12 WorldNetDaily article on the lawsuit filed by former Ohio college librarian Scott Savage against the school and faculty members who criticized him repeats the misleading claim that Savage was accused of "sexual harrassment" for recommending that students read right-wing books such as WND managing editor David Kupelian's "The Marketing of Evil."

As we detailed at the time, Savage was accused of "harassment based on sexual orientation," not "sexual harassment." The "sexual harassment" claim came from misleading press releases by the Alliance Defense Fund, which defended Savage then.

If you'll remember, WND and the ADF had an apparently cozy relationship which WND milked to promote Kupelian's book. So it's not surprising that at the end of the March 12 article is a promo for the book, which is "available, autographed and personalized, from WorldNetDaily's online store."

WND also curiously offers no background of Savage's currrent attorney, Tom Condit, who appears to be a right-wing activist attorney in the tradition of the ADF. An article at the anti-abortion group Operation Save America website describes Condit as "a pro-life lawyer from Cincinnati, Ohio." He is a graduate of the ADF's National Litigation Academy, which "provides volunteer and allied attorneys with intensive training to effectively battle the ACLU and serve the Body of Christ." He has also represented parents "who claim their daughter was coerced into an abortion by an adult boyfriend with the connivance of Planned Parenthood employees."


Posted by Terry K. at 4:48 PM EDT
WND Doesn't Tell Other Side of Savage's Lawsuit
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 11 WorldNetDaily article on a judge's dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Michael Savage against the Council on Islamic-American RelationsCouncil on Islamic-American Relations -- as did a March 7 article on the subject -- didn't report CAIR's arguments for dismissal, even though it went into lengthy detail about Savage's accusations against CAIR.

Both articles stated that "The San Francisco-based talker originally accused the organization of copyright violations, but later amended the action to include allegations the group 'has consistently sought to silence opponents of violent terror through economic blackmail, frivolous but costly lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and abuses of the legal system' " and offered a point-by-point detailing of Savage's claims. But WND reported only that the judge in the case "was 'leaning toward tossing out' the action" without explaining why beyond stating that "she found free speech arguments persuasive."

According to the Associated Press article on which WND claimed its March 7 article was based:

But the judge said she found "persuasive" CAIR's arguments that free speech protections allowed the organization to use the clip to criticize and comment on Savage's views even if the content is used for fundraising purposes.

CAIR's attorney Thomas Burke argued that a federal appeals court validated that position in 1986 when it said the Moral Majority could use Hustler Magazine's unflattering parody of the religious group's founder Rev. Jerry Falwell to raise money for a legal fund.

"Michael Savage is just unwilling to accept criticism going the other way," Burke said outside court. "This lawsuit is about punishing CAIR for criticizing him."

None of this found its way into WND's articles. Similarly, as we've noted, WND has never mentioned Savage's history of suing his critics, nor has it disclosed its previous business relationship with Savage, which included publishing his early books under the WND Books imprint.

Given WND's unfortunate history of trusting people who sling mud at their favorite targets, it would behoove WND to try a little actual journalism for once and not blindly accept smears as fact -- especially from the likes of Michael Savage.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 PM EDT

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