Great Moments in Conservative Media Criticism Topic: Media Research Center
In an Aug. 27 NewsBusters post and Aug. 28 MRC CyberAlert item, Brent Baker noted that a CBS reporter described as a "stretch" a John McCain ad taking Barack Obama's claims that Iran is a "tiny" country and doesn't pose a "serious threat" out of context. Baker writes:
CBS then played a clip of Obama on May 18, part of the statement the McCain campaign cited to support its ad: "Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. I mean, think about it, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us."
Sounds like he said what the ad quotes him as having said.
While Obama did call Iran "tiny" and questioned whether it posed "a serious threat," we find that this new McCain ad mangles their context to the point of misrepresenting Obama's statement.
Obama was speaking about whether to negotiate with Iran, which the Bush administration resisted. Obama noted that previous presidents had met with adversaries from the Soviet Union and China that were willing to destroy the United States, but that President Bush refused to meet directly with leaders of smaller global players such as Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.
Rather than dismiss those countries as insignificant, Obama was urging direct talks to engage them.
We find the McCain ad, like the McCain speech before it, is grossly distorting Obama's remarks by suggesting that Obama was dismissing Iran as too small to be taken seriously as a threat. We find the claim in the McCain ad, like the McCain speech before it, to be False.
Is Baker so in the tank for McCain that he refuses to acknowledge a clear and unambiguous factual distortion and instead pretends it's the truth? It appears so.
Twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens, according to 2006 statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. If those numbers are correct, it translates to 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens – more than the U.S. death toll of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. That's more than 30,000 Americans killed by illegal aliens since Sept. 11, 2001.
In fact, as we detailed when WND first repeated King's claim nearly two years ago, it is almost certainly not correct, and the comparison of alleged murders by "illegal aliens" to deaths of soldiers in Iraq is misleading because the soldiers' deaths are taken from a much smaller population -- roughly 200,000 U.S. personnel on duty there, vs. roughly 300 million Americans -- which means the soldiers' death rate is much higher than even WND's alarmist numbers on illegals.
WND is engaging in a chunk of odious dishonesty here. Even though King's claim has been debunked -- and, indeed, was debunked even before WND uncritically reported it in November 2006 -- WND has chosen to pretend that what King says is essentially true and that no one has ever looked into the claim.
In other words, WND is lying to its readers. Again.
Biden Claim Not As Discredited As NewsBusters Wants You to Think Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 27 NewsBusters post by Colleen Raezler claimed that Bill Adair of PolitiFact.org "discredited" Joe Biden's claim that John McCain votes with George W. Bush 95 percent of the time. In fact, the section of the "Morning Joe" transcript that Raezler reproduces quotes Adair as saying: "in terms of Biden, the 95 percent is just something where you've got to understand that that's sort of the worse case scenario. He's cherry picking. 95 percent was last year."
The PolitiFact item on the claim, which gives it a "half-true" rating, explains further:
McCain’s 95 percent score was the high-water mark of his presidential support during President Bush’s tenure, and was partly a reflection of the new political calculus in the Democratic-controlled Congress.
But other years, McCain's rating was lower. He supported Bush as infrequently as 77 percent of the time in 2005, and backed the president’s position an average of 89 percent of the time since 2001. By congressional standards, that’s solidly partisan, but hardly marching in lockstep.
So it's not "discredited," as Raezler claims. Incomplete and exaggerated, perhaps, but with a core of truth to it. Unlike, say, McCain's claim that Obama wants to increase the size of government by 23 percent, which PolitiFact has rated a "pants on fire" lie. Indeed, PolitiFact has found a higher percentage of recent claims by McCain to be "half-true" or less than statements by Obama, and no Obama statement has ever been given the "pants on fire" designation.
WND Thinks Common Philosophical Question is Socialist Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 26 WorldNetDaily article highlights right-wing blogger Gateway Pundit's claim that Michelle Obama's use of the terms "the world as it is" and "the world as it should be" in her Democratic National Convention speech "appear[s] to have been drawn from 'Rules for Radicals,' a book by dedicated socialist Saul Alinsky."
Okay, without getting all elitist and educated and stuff, I can’t help but point out that anyone who’s read a single page of philosophy, ethics or theology has run across the comparison of the “world as it should be” to the “world as it is.” Thousands of writers, all of whom knew how to spell “piqued” and “curiosity,” have used this formulation, and it isn’t any more original to Alinsky than the words “and” and “the.”
But the stupid never stops with [Gateway Pundit blogger] Mr. Hoft, who apparently didn’t even read or understand the two passages he cited. He saw the same two phrases in the speech and was so busy whooping and hollering about his groundbreaking discovery and his literary prowess that he didn’t notice that Michelle and Alinsky use the two phrases in exactly opposite ways — Alinsky calls the “world as it should be” a “fantasy,” whereas Michelle sees it as an ideal to be fought for.
Needless to say, WND also fails to note both that the question is common in philosophy and that Obama's use of it is completely opposite from Alinsky's.
An unsigned Aug. 27 NewsBusters post proudly notes that Bill O'Reilly "cited the Media Research Center's latest special report, 'Obama's Margin of Victory: The Media,' in the midst of the 'Unresolved Problems' segment for his August 26 program." That study claims that broadcast networks are, in O'Reilly's words, "in the tank for Barack Obama."
No doubt the folks at the MRC are equally proud that O'Reilly failed to label the MRC as a conservative group (just one part of Fox News' pro-MRC tilt) and also that he failed to mention a Center for Media and Public Affairs study that -- through its finding that Obama has received more negative broadast network coverage than John McCain -- clashes with the results of the MRC's study.
CNS Repeats Debunked 'Most Liberal Senator' Claim Topic: CNSNews.com
An Aug. 27 CNSNews.com article by Kevin Mooney repeats the misleading claim: "The nonpartisan National Journal ranked the presumed Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and his running mate [Joe] Biden as number one and number three respectively under the category of 'Most Liberal Senator in 2007.'"
As we've noted (as has Media Matters), the National Journal ranking is highly subjective, based on 99 votes selected by the magazine's staff -- for instance, a vote to implement the bipartisan 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations was considered to be "liberal." By contrast, a separate study based on all 388 non-unanimous Senate votes during 2007 produced a different result, ranking Obama and Biden as tied for the 10th most liberal senator.
If a media person dances to music played at the Democratic National Convention, is that evidence of liberal media bias? Matthew Balan seems to think so.
In an Aug. 26 NewsBusters post, Balan noted a CNN report highlighting how CNN analysts Roland Martin, Donna Brazile and Paul Begala dancing to Earth, Wind & Fire songs played in the background during the convention, adding, "I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they like to let loose when they’re not attacking conservatives and Republicans."
Then again, the Republicans probably won't be playing and EW&F tunes at their convention. Daddy Yankee, maybe.
Speaking of whom: We couldn't help but notice that while the MRC folks have ratcheted up their blue-nosing over the vulgar lyrics of, say, Ludacris when they can be tied to Obama, they haven't said a word about the vulgarlyrics of McCain endorser Daddy Yankee.
Newsmax Repeats Misleading Claims About Obama, Abortion Topic: Newsmax
An Aug. 26 Newsmax article by Jim Meyers misleadingly asserts that Barack Obama "fought against a bill protecting the right to life of a baby born alive." Citing David Freddoso's Obama-bashing book, Meyers writes:
In March 2001, a bill was introduced in the Illinois Senate, where Obama was then serving, that stated in part: “A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law.”
The bill came following an investigation of a Chicago-area hospital that left babies born alive to die without medical care.
That's an apparent reference to charges first forwarded by anti-abortion activist Jill Stanek -- which, by the way, were never substantiated.
“This bill was not an abortion law,” Freddoso writes. “It did not confer any right or legal status upon any baby not yet born. This bill had no legal conflicts with Roe v. Wade … Born and living survivors of abortion would be unambiguously considered ‘persons.’ Medically, scientifically, empirically, they were no different from the many premature babies who are born in American hospitals each year.”
In fact, as Media Matters details, the bill was superfluous because state law already made illegal the actions Stanek alleged were taking place. At no point does Meyers note this argument in his article. The fact that such behavior was already illegal and, thus, the proposed law would have made nothing additionally illegal makes the headline on Meyers' article -- "Obama OK'd 'Live Born' Abortion' -- utterly false.
Further, in the section of the speech that Meyers reproduces, Obama specifically refers to "pre-viable fetuses" that cannot survive outside the womb and claimed that the bill would effectively make them "persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to … a nine-month-old child that was delivered to term." "Pre-viable" is not the same thing as "premature" -- a distinction Freddoso and Meyers fail to make.
This isn't the only anti-Obama bias Newsmax is peddling these days: An Aug. 25 article by George J. Marlin indulges in some CNS-style labeling bias by repeatedly describing Joe Biden as "pro-abortion."
Beaches, Brothers and Mychal Massie Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his Aug. 26 WorldNetDaily column, Mychal Massie repeats the conservative talking point that Barack obama recently vacationed at "an exclusive, private beach in Hawaii that most of those who support him could not afford."
Massie also attacks Obama for "allow[ing] his half-brother George to live in a mud hut in Nairobi on less than $12 – that's right – less than $12 a year." That claim -- which surfaced in an Italian Vanity Fair article repeated in a Republican smear ad -- has been challenged by none other than George Obama himself: "They say I live on a dollar a month, but this is all lies by people who don't want my brother to win."
Massie does repeat his conservative talking points well -- he even runs to the defense of John McCain over the how-many-houses-does-he-own gaffe, defining the issue as "class envy," asserting that "McCain may not have known at that precise moment the number of homes (or condos) he owns in 'specific legal terms,'" adding that "it is common for upper-income couples, including politicians, to have pre-marriage documents that are unimaginable for most people to comprehend due to their complexity." He also throws in "McCain met and married a woman from a family of means. Unlike some former Democrat presidential nominees, he has not made a career of marrying uber-wealthy widows."
Sheppard Shocked Once More By Non-Shocking Event Topic: NewsBusters
We remain impressed by Noel Sheppard's apparently bottomlessability to be shocked by the non-shocking.
In an Aug. 25 NewsBusters post, Sheppard declared it "astonishing" that CNN's Lou Dobbs would declare that "My colleagues in the national media are absolutely biased, in the tank supporting the Obama candidacy while claiming the mantle of objectivity."
An Aug. 26 Newsmax article by James H. Walsh ("a former federal prosecutor and U.S. German Marshall Fund scholar") falsely claimed that a bill sponsored by Barack Obama, the Global Poverty Act, "would impose a global tax of 0.7 percent of gross national product (GNP) on the United States."
In fact, as we've repeatedlynoted when Accuracy in Media promoted the claim, the Global Poverty Act has no funding mechanism, doesn't commit the U.S. to a targeted level of spending, and doesn't give the United Nations the power to impose a tax on the U.S.
In his Aug. 25 WorldNetDaily column, Craig R. Smith envisions Barack Obama as "our first hip-hop president":
I can only imagine how the world will embrace the leader of the free world when he introduces other foreign leaders with, "give it up for my man Vladimir." Giving "props" for joining us in a treaty. Or the first lady Michelle talking about "my man" the "daddy of my babies" when referring to the president. That should go over well everywhere from 10 Downing Street right on down to the streets of the Middle East.
The use of ghetto slang during the primaries and even today may be a clear indication just how the Obamas intend to "roll" if given the privileged seat in the Oval Office.
I can see it now. Air Force One decked out with "22s" and spinners. Maybe even a set of hydraulics. Watching the hip-hop president in the Oval Office with his baseball cap on backwards coping a gansta lean in the big chair. Should be really pimp, don't you think? Cool man, real cool. Instead of giving away presidential cuff links to guests, as is the custom, he will offer "bling bling."
I imagine a whole group of special advisers to the president sitting around the Oval Office discussing policy. Kanye West, 50 Cent and maybe even Eminem (to keep the diversity thing going), all sharing their life experiences with the prez to assist him in understanding his "peeps."
After a few months on the job he can refer to his cabinet members as his "bitches." Hey don't get angry at me. Take a listen to any hip-hop song, and that is the type of endearing language you will hear. A group of playas that have no respect for the country. The same country that affords them a lifestyle most people only dream of, and all they can do is endlessly complain about it. Barack is very good at putting America down. Just like his hipster homeboys.
CNS' Jeffrey Uses the 'Non-Partisan' Labeling Dodge Topic: CNSNews.com
In an Aug. 25 CNSNews.com article on Joe Biden's alleged "pro-tax career," Terry Jeffrey cited "the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union" as a source. In fact, the NTU is a conservative-leaning group that in the past has aligneditself with other conservative groups such as the American Conservative Union, the Center for Individual Freedom and the Capital Research Center.
Ironically, while Jeffrey was doing this, his MRC colleagues at NewsBusters were bashing ABC for "profil[ing] a left leaning organization, but only cit[ing] them as 'non-partisan.'" Seems like Jeffrey and Co. should address this issue in their own house before calling others out on it.
Kincaid Way Too Excited to Mix Sex Into His Obama-Hate Topic: Accuracy in Media
Cliff Kincaid has latched onto an old perversion to take his Obama-bashing excitement to a whole new level: lurid sex.
No doubt panting hard as he wrote it, an Aug. 24 Accuracy in Media column by Kincaid repeats claims that alleged Barack Obama "mentor" Frank Marshall Davis "was a bisexual engaged in 'sordid' sexual activities and had repeated sexual encounters with a 13-year-old girl." His source: an article in the conservative UK newspaper the Telegraph stating that Davis wrote a pornographic novel under a pseudonym that included those activities. It doesn't matter if what Davis wrote was fiction, Kincaid declares: "Whether the book Sex Rebel is entirely based on Davis or not, the controversy certainly demonstrates that Davis had a perverted sexual interest and should not have been trusted as a mentor for any young person."
Kincaid is essentially playing the same card Republicans tried to play against congressional candidate Jim Webb in 2006, by portraying sexually explicit scenes in Webb's works of fiction as reflective of Webb himself. (CNSNews.com bought heavily into this meme, if you'll recall.) Kincaid cannot prove Davis actually did any of the stuff he wrote about.
How obsessed is Kincaid about incorporating kinky sex into his Obama-hate? he complains that Obama's "40-page so-called rebuttal" to Jerome Corsi's factually challenged anti-Obama book "makes no mention of Davis’s Sex Rebel book and his interest in pornography."
Wow, Kincaid seems unsually interested in this newfound sex aspect. Does that raise questions about Kincaid's own private life?
Kincaid also whines that David Maraniss, who wrote a Washington Post profile of Obama's years in Hawaii, "completely ignores the fact that Davis was Obama’s mentor and adviser for a significant number of those years." Kincaid adds:
Asked about this striking omission in his Post article, Maraniss told AIM that “My reporting conclusion was the role of ‘Frank’ had been hyped out of all proportion, both by Obama himself in his book and some others later. He did not play a role in really shaping Obama.”
This “conclusion,” of course, fails to let the readers decide, based on what Obama and others have reported. And he does not explain how he came to this conclusion.
If Maraniss "told AIM" about this, why didn't Kincaid or anyone else at AIM ask him to explain? Apparently Kincaid and his crew couldn't tear themselves away from the lurid sex long enough to ask.