HuffPo Volleys Back to MRC's Motley Topic: Media Research Center
Huffington Post's Seth Colter Walls serves up the nextchapter of the Seton Motley saga in a Oct. 5 article. Walls points out that evidence that undergirded the claim, advanced by both Motley and the Capital Research Center's Matthew Vadum, that Barack Obama was a lawyer for ACORN, is false because the Project Vote organization for which Obama did serve as a lawyer was not associated with ACORN until two years after Obama's work for the troup ended.
Walls also agrees with us that Motley's refusal to answer questions because they came from Obama's campaign -- which Motley claims is prohibited under the Media Research Center's 501(c)(3) tax status -- is bogus. The IRS states that a 501(c)(3) group "may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates; we fail to see where answering questions raised by a political campaign falls under that restriction.
The Palm Beach Post profiles Newsmax in an Oct. 6 article. One of the interesting tidbits is that it confirms what we had heard but weren't able to document -- that Christopher Ruddy and Richard Mellon Scaife have bought out all other investors and are now the sole owners, with Ruddy as majority owner. (We were the first to report the details of Scaife's involvement in Newsmax back in 2002.)
Ruddy states that Newsmax and related ventures will produce about $25 million in revenue this year. Ruddy is also rather hyperbolically quoted as calling Newsmax "the Fox News of online."
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Favorite Domestic Terrorist Topic: WorldNetDaily
As WND is bashing Barack Obama for his purported ties to William Ayers, Joseph Farah, Aaron Klein and the gang are buddy-buddy with convicted felon and would-be murderer G. Gordon Liddy. Read more >>
Klein Hides Settler Leader's Criminal Record Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein reports that "A prominent leader of the West Bank's Jewish communities has accused Israel's security forces of orchestrating a recent attack on an extreme leftist Israeli professor and then using the attack to demonize West Bank Jews ahead of an expected evacuation of the territory," but fails to offer the background of the leader in question.
Klein wrote regarding the pipe bomb attack on that "extreme leftist Israeli professor," Zeev Sternhell:
Settler leader Daniela Weiss today charged the attack was orchestrated by Israel's Shin Bet Security Services to turn public opinion against the settlers.
"A settler would never have done a thing like that," Weiss said. "It's in Shin Bet's best interest to create this provocation, in order to libel the settlers and thereby pave the way to settlement evacuation."
What Klein doesn't tell you: Weiss' current criminal history. From an Oct. 3 Israel National News article:
Weiss was charged Friday with assaulting a police officer, interfering with legal proceedings and hindering a police officer in the performance of his duty. Police said she harassed and attacked police officers while resisting her own arrest. They also claimed that she "touched" a vehicle which earlier carried three Jews suspected of setting fire to an Arab olive grove at Kadum Thursday.
According to a report in Ynet, police claimed that they were in the process of dusting the car for fingerprints of the suspects and that by touching it repeatedly, Weiss was tampering with evidence. They also claimed that she resisted arrest by lying down under a vehicle and kicking police when they dragged her out from under it. They claim they were using "reasonable force."
Seven other Jews, besides Weiss and Shilo, were arrested after police tore down the outpost of Shvut Ami, near Kedumim. Police forces continued visiting the site of the outpost during the night and prevented youths from re-establishing the point of settlement.
Isn't Weiss' background relevant to the issue of allegations of violence and criminality among Jews in the West Bank, which Klein has been focusedupon of late?
It's also worth noting that in all three of these articles, Klein makes sure to call Sternhell an "extreme leftist Israeli professor." What does his ideology haveto do with it? Is Klein saying the bombing was justified because of his beliefs?
Also, Sternhell is the only person in any of those articles whom Klein has identified by political ideology, even though many of the settlers and their supporters (like Klein) are right-wingers. Indeed, the words "right" or "conservative" are found nowhwere in those articles.
Sarah Palin won the debate with Joe Biden because she came across as the Ronald Reagan candidate.
Like Reagan, Palin projected pride in America, optimism about the future, and determination to reform the government and vanquish our enemies.
Like Reagan, she was at times self-deprecating. Like Reagan, she took a swipe at the mainstream media. And like Reagan, she made it clear she was not afraid to take views contrary to conventional wisdom in Washington.
Fittingly, Palin closed with a reference to Reagan saying that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction.
Palin’s performance confirmed McCain’s vice presidential choice. In the end, people make their decisions on whom to vote for based in large part on character and values. They want to know if the candidate is genuine.
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
In an Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article, Aaron Klein tries to spin away a New York Times article that contradicts accusations by Klein and other Obama-haters of close, intimate ties between Barack Obama and William Ayers. Klein asserted that the Times "key documentation showing Ayers was directly involved in the formation of the board of an education organization on which Obama served as chairman."
In fact, the documentation in question proved nothing.
Klein cited "Steve Diamond, a political science and law professor and a blogger who has posted on Obama" -- Klein buddy and fellow Obama-hater John Batchelor has accused Diamond of dealing with him in a dishonest manner over a baseless allegation made by Diamond that Ayers is heading an Obama "plumbers" operation -- as claiming that a lettersignedby Ayers and another person proves that "Ayers, who conceived and led the organization, submission and implementation of the [Chicago Annenberg Challenge] grant application, was viewed as responsible for composing the board on which Obama served." But the document in question does not mention Obama; it states only guidelines for the CAC board that states that "We are working ... on issues of management and governance to ensure that Chicago's Annenberg Challenge initiative is successful." It's circumstantial at best, despite Klein's and Diamond's assertion that it "proves Ayers was directly involved in forming the board and leadership of the CAC."
Klein goes on to assert that "Many argue it would have been unusual for Ayers not to have been involved in the selection of the chairman of the group he himself founded," but he doesn't name any of these "many" who "argue" this, or offer evidence that any of them are not Obama-haters like Klein himself.
Motley Responds to HuffPo, Still Doesn't Make Sense Topic: Media Research Center
The MRC's Seton Motley used an Oct. 4 NewsBusters post to respond to the Huffington Post article by Seth Colter Walls about Motley's appearance on "Fox & Friends" in which he spewed apaprently false claims about Barack Obama's relationship with ACORN (as we've previously noted). Motley claimed that Walls is "lying" about the MRC:
I was indeed, in the spirit of ingenuous cooperation, "all ears." At the OUTSET of the call, when NO indication as to the content of the questions was yet made known to me. I "abruptly refused to engage in depth" with him the moment I learned of what his queries consisted. Here's why.
As Walls wrote, I said that "(t)he name of our group is Media Research Center," and that we analyze the media. He omitted what I said next, which was that examining the media is our sole mission because we, as a 501(c)3 organization (on the phone, I said something like "by our charter"), are prohibited from doing anything like "respond(ing) to challenges from the Obama campaign."
Leaving out the additional information I provided allowed Walls to paint me as unreasonably unresponsive and uncooperative. I was in fact quite accommodating.
Motley additionally claimed that "most of my information came from Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center," which wrote "an investigative opus on Sen. Obama and his left-wing ties" that "is thoroughly researched, comprehensive and very well written." Motley further stated that he told Walls to contact Vadum, which he claims Walls did not do.
And what does that report say about the CAC? That it's "a non-partisan education and research organization, classiﬁed by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity." So, by Motley's standard, Vadum would have had to have taken the same comment-avoidance dive that Motley did.
We're still confused, though: We understand that 501(c)(3) groups are not permitted to engage in explicit partisan political activity, but where exactly in the 501(c)(3) code does it say that a 501(c)(3) can't even respond to questions raised by a political organization about said group's accuracy? (Disclosure: Our day job is with a 501(c)(3) group, but ConWebWatch is entirely separate from it.)
And somehow this law, which purportedly forbids Motley from answering questions froma political campaign, also permits one of its employees on one of its websites to cheer on one political candidate's negative attacks on another? We're confused.
Motley is obfuscating about this, taking refuge in tax law in order to keep from answering simple questions. That still makes him a bit of a coward.
WND Again Promote False Obama Birth Certificate Claim -- Which WND Has Debunked Topic: WorldNetDaily
After WorldNetDaily debunked the idea that Barack Obama has faked his birth certificate, we wondered if WND would continue to point out that there is no basis to the claim or prentend it never debunked it in the first place.
We have our answer, and it's not the former.
An Oct. 4 WND article by Drew Zahn promoted a lawsuit by "prominent Pennsylvania Democrat and attorney Philip J. Berg" demanding that Obama "produce authorized proof of citizenship." Zahn wrote: "Despite assertions by the Washington Post, FactChecker.org and other organizations that Obama has produced a certified Hawaiian birth certificate, Berg told WND he remains '99.99 percent sure' that the certificate is a fake and he wants a court, not a website, to determine its validity."
Zahn failed to note that among those "other organizations" that have debunked the claim is ... WorldNetDaily. Zahn said so himself in a Aug. 23 article about Berg's lawsuit:
A separate WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic. The investigation also revealed methods used by some of the bloggers to determine the document was fake involved forgeries, in that a few bloggers added text and images to the certificate scan that weren't originally there.
Either Zahn is so stupid he can't remember what he originally wrote about the Berg lawsuit, or he is so dishonest that he will lie to his readers about his own employer demonstrating that Berg's lawsuit has any sort of merit. Either way, he has no business presenting himself as a journalist.
In an Oct. 3 appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends -- which followed the template by not appearing solo and not identifying him as a conservative -- MRC director of communications Seton Motley made numerous claims about Barack Obama's relationship to the group ACORN:
MOTLEY: Barack Obama has three stages of connection with [ACORN], and this probably why the media doesn't want to talk about it. He was a lawyer for the organization. He then served his years as a trainer of activists for the organization. And when he was named chairman of the board by terrorist William Ayers to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, they funneled money to, amongst many other places, ACORN. So there's three stages of relationship with them.
As the Huffington Post's Seth Colter Walls details, the Republican National Committee later emailed out the segment to its list of reporters. But as Walls also points out, Motley got his facts wrong. According to the Obama campaign, Obama was never a lawyer for ACORN, though he did represent a coalition of groups that included ACORN in one case, nor did he ever serve as an ACORN organizer or trainer.
It's not suprising that an MRC employee got the facts wrong (as Motleyhas). What is surprising, however, is what Motley did when Walls asked him about it:
Seton Motley, reached at his Media Research Center office Friday afternoon, abruptly refused to engage in depth with the Obama camp's response to his Fox & Friends segment (after first saying "I'm all ears").
Asked whether he would similarly condemn the Justice Department for joining ACORN in the suit against Illinois, he said, "well, yes I would, but that's not the issue." Before the Obama spokesman's other charges could be detailed, Motley put the brakes on the conversation. "The name of our group is Media Research Center," he said, noting that the only purpose of his effort on Fox was to draw attention to a lack of stories on the matter. "I'm not going to be able to respond to challenges from the Obama campaign."
Instead, Motley recommended that any interested person check out Stanley Kurtz's long article from May in the National Review -- headlined "Inside Obama's Acorn."
But while Kurtz's piece is stuffed with innuendo and plausible-sounding arguments that ACORN and Obama share some broad political objectives, it notably does not prove that Obama ever worked for the group, helped them organize, knew about any instances of voter fraud, or condoned their controversial demonstration tactics.
In fact, the article sometimes suggests the opposite. "Does that mean Obama himself schooled Acorn volunteers in disruptive 'direct action?' Not necessarily," Kurtz judges. Pretty spicy stuff. Elsewhere, when trying to compare Obama's community organizing work to that of ACORN, Kurtz can only manage a weak equivalence: "Part of Obama's work, it would appear, was to organize demonstrations, much in the mold of radical groups like Acorn."
Huh? Why does Motley refuse to accept responsibility for his own words? How does being the Media Research Center preclude Motley from offering evidence to back up his claims or apologizing for getting them wrong, simply because the Obama campaign is trying to correct him? Is he taking refuge in some arcane regulation purportedly governing what nonprofit entitites like the MRC do? (The MRC is a 501(c)3 "non profit research and education foundation.")
If Motley would like to instruct us on the finer points of nonprofit regulations, be our guest. Until he can plausibly explain himself, we will consider him to be a gutless coward. Doesn't being the MRC's director of communications require that one, you know, communicate?
UPDATE: Motley responds to HuffPo here, and we examine it here.
CNS Ignores Armstrong Williams' Conflict of Interest Scandal Topic: CNSNews.com
An Oct. 2 CNSNews.com article by Matt Hadro criticizing vice presidential debate moderator Gwen Ifill for purporting writing a "pro-Obama book" states: "Armstrong Williams, conservative talk show radio host, told Fox News that the book deal 'brings her credibility in doing this into question.'" But Hadro fails to note Williams' own history of conflict of interest: He received $240,000 in federal money to promote the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" policy in his columns and on his TV show, which he failed to disclose at the time.
Hadro also failed to note the apparent conflicts of interest upcoming presidential debate moderators Tom Brokaw and Bob Schieffer have with the McCain campaign and President Bush, respectively.
Did Michael Reagan's Daughter Get A Mortgage She Can't Afford? Topic: Newsmax
In attacking "fear-mongering" regarding the financial bailout in his Oct. 2 Newsmax column, Michael Reagan complained of "attempts to panic us into believing that the banks had no money to lend, and credit was dried up and loans were almost impossible to get," adding:
We knew that was untrue because our daughter, Ashley, had just qualified and easily obtained a mortgage on a $360,000 townhouse from a small local bank. The bank had foreclosed on the house and was stuck with a defaulted mortgage of $560,000. Ashley, who is 25 and a schoolteacher, got the townhouse for $200,000 under what the bank held in bad paper.
How can a 25-year-old teacher -- who typically don't make all that much money and is likely paying off student loans to boot -- afford to by a $360,000 townhouse? What is she getting paid? Did dad co-sign and/or put up a sizable down payment? Because we're pretty sure the typical 25-year-old teacher could not get a mortgage by herself, period, let alone one for a $360,000 house (which, by the way, is well above the national median home price).
Let's say that, for the sake of argument, that Reagan's daughter put up a $60,000 down payment, which would give her a $300,000 mortgage. At the time we checked, a $300,000 30-year fixed loan in California (where we presume Reagan's daughter lives) carried an annual interest rate of 6.22%.Plugging those numbers into a payment calculator, that gives us a monthly payment of $1,841. Lenders typically recommend that a mortgage not exceed approximately 28 percent of total income.
25-year-olds are historically not excellent credit risks, and teaching, especially for those just starting out in the profession like Reagan's daughter is, is not a historically well-paying job. The only logical conclusions for the existence of this mortgage:
It's not as big as the typical mortgage because of an unusually large down payment due to a contribution by Michael Reagan, or perhaps an inheritance from her grandfather;
the daughter is making an extraordinary amount of money for a teacher just a few years out of college; or
Michael Reagan, who is presumably better paid and thus a better credit risk, has co-signed the mortgage.
What we're saying is that there are clearly extenuating circumstances surrounding this mortgage that Reagan hasn't told us about. We seriously doubt that a 25-year-old single teacher who is not Michael Reagan's daughter could get that same mortgage.
Ronald Kessler asserts in an Oct. 1 Newsmax column claims that Republicans failing to to take the lead on the financial bailout could lead to Barack Obama winning, and you know what that means -- more baseless scaremongering by Kessler about how purportedly weak Obama is on terrorism:
This financial mess has favored Barack Obama in the polls. If Republicans continue to oppose the rescue package, they will hand Obama and Democrats in Congress a win in the November election.
If that happens, we will see a push to weaken national security measures, including tools the FBI and CIA need to develop clues to terrorist plots. As outlined in the Newsmax article The Secret to Why We Have Not Been Attacked. Go here now.], McCain understands the need for these tools. Obama does not.
As important as our economy is, our survival is more important. Al-Qaida wants to wipe us out with nuclear weapons. If the FBI’s and CIA’s hands are tied behind their backs, we will lose the fight to protect ourselves and preserve our way of life.
That link goes to a Sept. 10 Kessler column with even more anti-Obama scaremongering, baselessly claiming that Obama "would roll back the clock and take away tools necessary not only to connect the dots but also to find them in the first place" (those tools allegedly being a key reason to "why we have not been attacked," along with President Bush's general studliness).
Kessler also gets a key fact wrong on the bailout, asserting that "Democrats are mainly responsible for this financial mess" because "the Democrats passed the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which required banks to lend in the low-income neighborhoods where they obtain deposits." In fact, experts have said that approximately 80 percent of high-priced subprime loans were offered by financial institutions that are not subject to the CRA.
Bozell Repeats 'Largest Tax Increase' Canard Topic: Media Research Center
In a Sept. 30 column that purports to attack the (so-called liberal) media's role as "the guardians of 'fact,'" Brent Bozell doesn't bother sticking to the facts himself, stating that President Clinton "passed the largest tax increase in American history, right down to the middle class."
As we've noted whenever the MRC pushes this canard, the facts show that a 1982 tax increase signed by President Reagan was bigger on an adjusted-for-inflation basis.(And we know how important it is at the MRC to adjust for inflation.)
Will WND Mention Brokaw, Schieffer's GOP Leanings? Topic: WorldNetDaily
So WorldNetDaily ran twoarticles by Bob Unruh highlighting that Gwen Ifill, moderator of the vice presidential debate, has a conflict of interest because she's writing a book about racial politics in "the age of Obama" (despite the claim, no evidence is offered that it's a "pro-Obama book") and thus cannot be a fair moderator. Additionally, WND's Les Kinsolving pressed the issue (using a poor baseball analogy) at a White House press briefing.
What do you think the odds are that Unruh and Kinsolving, let alone anyone at WND (even that guy who purports to claim he doesn't want John McCain to win) will raise a similar ruckus over impartiality questions about the moderators for the two remaining presidential debates, Tom Brokaw and Bob Schieffer? After all, Brokaw serves as a liaison to the McCain campaign, while Shieffer, while Schieffer as a personal relationship with Bush and his brother was a former Bush business partner.
If WND's track record is any indication, they won't mention this at all.
New Article: Why I Criticize Joseph Farah and WorldNetDaily Topic: WorldNetDaily
In case you missed it, we reprint our response to Joseph Farah's attack on us over that Huffington Post article. Read more >>