A Delightful Understatement Topic: Accuracy in Media
Don Irvine engages in a delightful bit of understatement in a Jan. 10 Accuracy in Media blog post about recent "turmoil at the Washington Times," stating that the Times "has struggled to become financially viable during its entire 26 year exietence [sic]."
Huston Misleadingly Shoots Down One Conspiracy Theory, Mum On Another Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 10 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston howls that the Anchorage Daily News is "continuing to pursue the idiotic and insulting claim that Sarah is not the real mother of son Trig," calling it a "ridiculous conspiracy theory that only idiots, hatemongers and fools could believe" and accusing the paper of "spreading hateful rumors about Governor Palin." Huston then claimed that the Daily News editor "feigned innocence and points his finger at bloggers and people on the left that have persisted with their own interest in this stupid story."
Huston's rantings might be taken seriously if his employer had not taken part in promoting ridiculous conspiracy theories about Barack Obama -- namely, the one about Obama's birth certificate.
NewsBusters' P.J. Gladnick wrote severalposts promoting the supposed birth certificate controversy, most recently on Oct. 23, and comment threads on NewsBusters posts are replete with references to it. At no point does he, or any other NewsBusters writer, expose the false nature of it.
Huston also misrepresents what Daily News executive editor Pat Dougherty has written about the controversy. Huston apparently just copied-and-pasted the same thing an anti-McClatchy (the Daily News' owner) blog did from Dougherty's blog on the issue, that the goal was "report the facts of Trig's birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all," as well as parts of a press release from Palin's office criticizing the paper. But neither Huston nor the anti-McClatchy blog noted the following response, which Dougherty said he sent to Palin:
Lisa Demer started reporting. She received very little cooperation in her efforts from the parties who, in my judgment, stood to benefit most from the story, namely you and your family. Even so, we reported the matter as thoroughly as we could. Several weeks ago, when we considered the information Lisa had gathered, we decided we didn't have enough of a story to accomplish what we had hoped. Lisa moved on to other topics and we haven't decided whether the idea is worth any further effort.
Even the birth of your grandson may not dissuade the Trig conspiracy theorists from their beliefs. It strikes me that if there is never a clear, contemporaneous public record of what transpired with Trig's birth, that may actually ensure that the conspiracy theory never dies. Time will tell.
First, no story has, in fact, recently been published by the Daily News on the subject, which means Palin and Huston are attacking the Daily News for simply asking questions.
Second, Huston fails to acknowledge the fact that Palin is refusing to answer those questions, which helps to fuel the "conspiracy theory" among those people he likens to Holocaust deniers. As we've heard from the likes of WorldNetDaily regarding the Obama birth certificate non-controversy: If it can be so easily proven that Sarah Palin is Trig's mother, why doesn't she, you know, prove it?
Does Huston think Obama should release his full birth certificate? If so, he has no standing to complain about the conspiracy theories of others, or to defend Palin for withholding information.
UPDATE: Huston has written at Renew America that the birth certificate issue is irrelevant because "the will of the people is supreme": "Obama's foreign birth, if it comes to be true, will undermine his presidency. But better to have a single president's legitimacy undermined due to his actions than to undermine the entire electoral process." But as near as we can tell, he has not shared this opinion with his NewsBusters readers.
A Jan. 9 CNSNews.com article by Nicholas Ballasy takes a stab at forwarding the current right-wing meme of denouncing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as insufficient to pull America out of the Great Depression.
In an apparent attempt to counter Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman's claim that FDR "did not spend what was needed" to get people "back to work" during the Great Depression, Ballasy asserts: "Despite the $500 billion spend under FDR through various programs, the unemployment rate in the United States did not significantly decrease until after the U.S. officially entered World War II in 1941." This is then followed by government unemployment statistics from the era.
But those statistics -- which show an unemployment rate decrease from 24.9 percent in 1933 to 14.3 percent in 1937 -- prove Ballasy wrong. How is an a drop of 40 percent not "significant"? Ballasy doesn't explain.
Further, Ballasy fails to note that the federal government's 1930s unemployment statistics are misleading because they did not count those working in government work programs as employed -- which means that the unemployment rate was even lower in 1937 than the statistics show, and that Ballasy will admit.
UPDATE: CNS also claimed in a Dec. 9 article by Matt Hadro that "government data show that FDR's programs did not substantially reduce unemployment," also without an explanation as to why a 40 percent-plus drop in unemployment between 1933 and 1937 is not considered "substantial."
MRC Hearts John Ziegler, Hides His Biased Agenda Topic: Media Research Center
We've previouslyreported on John Ziegler, right-wing radio host turned filmmaker who has on his resume a so-called documentary with a false premise at its center: that the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" was factually accurate. As we've also noted, Ziegler has another film in progress, which aims to portray all supporters of Barack Obama as uninformed idiots and Sarah Palin as a victim of the big, bad liberal media.
To that end, Ziegler released a clip of an interview he did with Palin, in which she appears to blame everyone but herself for her election loss. And just as various tendrils of the Media Research Center eagerlypromoted Ziegler's previous film, it now shills for Ziegler's new project.
NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard immediately jumped on the bandwagon, promoting the clip as posted on the new right-wing Big Hollywood blog, sycophantically adding, "It goes without saying we at NewsBusters look forward to seeing more from Ziegler and Big Hollywood." Sheppard describes Ziegler only as a "documentarian."
A Jan. 8 CNSNews.com article by Melanie Hunter-Omar offers similar treatment, feting Ziegler as a "documentary filmmaker" and citing how "12 Obama voters were interviewed right after they cast their vote to determine how the media coverage influenced their knowledge of what actually happened during the presidential campaign" to prove the supposed ignorace of Obama voters.
Neither Sheppard nor Hunter-Omar mention the entirely germane fact that Ziegler is a conservative activist. Nor do they mention the fact that a Zogby poll commissioned by Ziegler to prove his point contains misleading statements -- or his foul-mouthed behavior toward Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com for committing the sin of pointing that out.
But the MRC loves abusive behavior -- when it's committed by right-wingers against their purported enemies, anyway. When Ziegler acted petulant during an appearance with MSNBC's David Shuster, Sheppard found it a hoot that Ziegler called Shuster "a joke" and "an alleged newsperson" for his "anti-Sarah Palin bias," helpfully offering time stamps for the attached video clip so viewers can skip to Ziegler at his most insulting.
Writing about the same interview, Scott Whitlock acted a little more professional, calling the interview "contentious" and Ziegler "incredulous," but Whitlock was still more than happy to highlight Sheppard's post pointing out that "Ziegler also derided Shuster as a 'joke' and publicly called out MSNBC as 'clearly the pet network of Barack Obama.'"
As before, at no point do Whitlock or Sheppard identify Ziegler as a conservative activist.
For a more balanced take on Ziegler's interview, Crooks and Liars points out what Sheppard and Whitlock didn't: that Shuster pointed out that Palin has said that Ziegler's "decision to post excerpts out of context on YouTube led to misleading reports." C&L's John Amato accurately adds: "You see, with guys like Ziegler--when he's confronted with facts that disprove his propaganda, he gets abusive."
Porter Still Hiding Info About Her Anti-Obama Crusade Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 8 WorldNetDaily article touts a bit of agitprop promoted by Faith2Action's Janet Folger Porter as the "Obama commercial they don't want you to see," in that several TV networks "refused to sell her time for a 60-second commercial." But WND makes no attempt to answer questions about Porter's activism on this issue.
As we've detailed, Porter appears to be using Faith2Action resources for her personal anti-Obama crusade without disclosing where the line is between Faith2Action and her anti-Obama activism, or whether funds donated to Faith2Action are being improperly used toward this crusade.
A domain is named at the end of the hilariously overdramatic ad, obamaforgery.com, which redirects to a page on the Faith2Action website. But according to the WHOIS database, the owner of the domain is hidden, listed only as owned by "Domains by Proxy."
The page itself names "attorney Philip J. Berg" as among those who readers should "learn more about and consider supporting the work of." But as we noted, Porter and Faith2Action appear to have financial connections to Berg that neither have adequately disclosed.
In the WND article, Porter mentioned "donors who contributed the funding that was to be used for the ads," but those donors are not identified.
Thus, Porter lends further obfuscation to her crusade. If she's demanding that Obama release information about himself, shouldn't she more forthcoming about her political backers, and where the line is between her personal crusade and Faith2Action?
In a Jan. 8 column, Joseph Farah declares WorldNetDaily to be "Obama Watch Central," insisting that "WND will be at the forefront of chronicling the continuing subterfuge we can expect from the incoming administration as well as Congress and the Supreme Court." Farah then adds: "Does this mean WND won't be 'fair' to Obama? No."
OK, we think we're done laughing now.
WND's coverage of Obama, as we've documented, has been one long parade of unfairness, lies and hate -- to the point where Farah will lie about one of WND's very few instances of actually showing fairness to Obama in order to perpetuate his own Obama-hate.
If Farah and WND were truly interested in fairness, it would not be publishing the rantings of cranks like Hilmar von Campe and Jack Cashill.
If Farah and WND were truly interested in fairness, they would not repeatedly publish writers who call Obama a Nazi.
If Farah and WND were truly interested in fairness, they would acknowlege and publicly retract their mistakes whyen they are pointed out, instead of smearing their critics and perpetuating litigation aimed at forcing WND to do what's right.
But Farah and WND won't do this.
Rather than perpetuate the facade of being a "vigilant watchdog on government waste, fraud, abuse and corruption," Farah should just come out and admit what being "Obama Watch Central" really means, as WND has already amply demonstrated:
Ponte's Democrat Derangement Syndrome Flares Up Again Topic: Newsmax
Lowell Ponte engages in another fit of Democrat Derangement Syndrome, using his Jan. 7 Newsmax column to hurl all sorts of baseless accusations regarding Al Franken's victory in the Minnesota Senate race recount.
Ponte baselessly asserts that the state canvassing board that oversaw the recount is "liberal" and "controlled by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, an ultra-liberal Democrat with close ties to the controversial far-left activist group ACORN." In fact, as Media Matters detailed, both Franken's Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, and Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved of the canvassing board's makeup, which included two judges appointed by Pawlenty, one of whom formerly worked for the Minnesota Republican Party.
Further, as we've noted, even Ponte's fellow travelers at Newsmax have offered no evidence of Ritchie's "close ties" to ACORN beyond a campaign endorsement.
Ponte also writes:
In one notorious case, a partisan Democrat precinct chief reportedly discovered a pile of absentee ballots in the trunk of her own car. All of these, according to early reports, were votes for Franken. She later denied that the ballots had been beyond the control of safeguards designed to prevent ballot tampering, and she denied that all had been votes for Franken.
But there's no evidence that there's a shred of truth to this story, and even Coleman's lawyer has said he's satisified there was no ballot-tampering regarding the purported incident.
Ponte uncritically regurgitates Coleman's various arguments regarding ballots. He also repeats state canvassing board member G. Barry Anderson's assertion that "very likely there was a double counting" of spoiled original and legally required duplicate ballots without also noting that Anderson is the member who's the former Republican Party employee.
Because this is a full-blown onset of Democrat Derangement Syndrome, Ponte can't keep himself from personally attacking Franken, calling him "former failed talk host for Air America Radio and minor star on NBC's comedy show 'Saturday Night Live.'" Ponte neglects the fact that Franken was also a longtime writer for "SNL," for which he received seven Emmy awards. Ponte apparently thinks such an achievement is "minor."
Bozell Runs to Coulter's Defense -- Again Topic: Media Research Center
We've previouslydetailed the long love affair between Brent Bozell's Media Research Center and Ann Coulter, and its history of refusing to criticize anything she says, no matter how offensive. So it's no surprise that Bozell leaps to Coulter's defense yet again.
In a Jan. 6 MRC press release, Bozell completely swallows the anonymous, unverified claims made by Matt Drudge that Coulter was "banned for life" from NBC as indicated by her getting bumped from the "Today" show (even though she was rebooked two days later): "Ann, as a veteran banee from NBC, I can well attest to the fact that you will, in fact, survive this ordeal." Well, we've never appeared on NBC, but we don't go around claiming we've been "banned." Rebooking aside, Bozell rants against NBC:
“As for NBC, I have only one question: Have you lost your collective mind? Every broadcast network, yours included, is bleeding to death, your audiences abandoning you by the millions. The biggest body leaving is conservatives who correctly see you as having abandoned any pretense of objectivity in favor of a leftist political agenda. And how do you respond? By banning one of the best-known conservative voices in America. This is your commitment to political balance and the very idea of free speech, and the reason why, when the last of you leaves the building, you need to remember to turn out the lights.”
In his Jan. 7 column, Bozell demonstrates his utter hypocrisy on the issue. After citing "a list of inflammatory liberals who are welcomed on the TV morning shows," Bozell writes:
Call Coulter outrageous, call her a bomb-thrower, even state she goes beyond the pale of civility, if that’s your read. But do not assign that label to Coulter and then present your on-air love and kisses and giggles to all the public leftist hate-spewing that far exceeds any perceived incivility by Coulter. That is utterly transparent liberalism, and utterly transparent hypocrisy.
Doesn't that work the other way, too? If Bozell is going to get all apoplectic over the idea that controversial liberals appear on TV, shouldn't he treat Coulter the same way? Nope -- rather, he defends Coulter as being "fun for conservatives."
Just as he has defended Coulter all along, no matter what she says.
As we've wondered previously: Does Coulter have some sort of blackmail material on Bozell that makes him act so reflexively?
On the Jan. 5 edition of MSNBC's "Countdown," Keith Olbermann named WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah that day's "Worst Person in the World" over his claim that none of the "forgery experts" contacted by WND "could report conclusively that the electronic image" of Barack Obama's birth certificate "was authentic or that it was a forgery" -- which contradicts an August 2008 WND article calling the certificate "authentic."
CNS Bush Rehabilitation Series Continues Topic: CNSNews.com
Is CNSNews.com looking to rehabilitate President Bush as he leaves office? It appears so.
A day after penning a article uncritically promoting President Bush's claim that he has had "an eight-year commitment to strong environmental protection and conservation ... contrary to the conventional wisdom of many in the news media," CNS' Fred Lucas wrote a Jan. 8 article featuring Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley "praising the often-maligned foreign policy of President George W. Bush."
Lucas devotes a single paragraph to what he claims "Obama and other Democrats" have said about Bush's foreign policy -- the only word directly quoted is "cowboy," and he doesn't identify who said it -- and no response to Hadley's claims was apparently sought. Thus, claims by Hadley such as "History will remember George W. Bush as a president who never wavered, kept the nation safe, and brought the blessing of liberty to millions around the world" are allowed to stand unchallenged.
Dick Morris' Jan. 6 Newsmax column claims the following about Barack Obama's proposed stimulus plan:
Under Obama's plan, the majority of American voters would pay no federal income taxes but would get money from the government instead. That is, these "refundable tax credits" are basically welfare checks — and Obama's plan would leave the most of us collecting, not paying.
Obama's plan — he'd give all couples a $1,000 refundable tax credit and all single people $500 — would funnel more than $50 billion to the lowest half of the country, thereby completely wiping out their total federal tax liability. In most cases, it would trigger a "refund" welfare check.
In one stroke, this would transform the majority of voters from taxpayers into tax eaters, and leave an increasingly small minority to pay the bill. Regardless of whether this is good economics, it is very dangerous politics.
In fact, a tax credit for low-income wage-earners would not "completely wip[e] out their total federal tax liability." In fact, all wage-earners also pay Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes, and many pay federal excise taxes on gasoline, which a $1,000 tax credit would likely not "wipe out."
Meanwhile, a Jan. 7 Newsmax column by Morris regurgitates claims by Republican Norm Coleman's Minnesota Senate campaign that Democrat Al Franken is stealing the election by winning the recount and shills for a Republican lawyers' group on Coleman's side:
As John F. Kennedy once said, "sometimes partisanship demands too much." Watching Al Franken and the Democrats steal this election, vote by vote, is a horrific sight that makes a mockery of the electoral process, the fundamental element in our democracy.
If this travesty is allowed to stand, it essentially means that any close election constitutes an open invitation to steal the victory.
We must not allow the Minnesota Democrats to get away with this election heist. The Republican National Lawyers Association is litigating the issue and needs all the support they can get to fund their court case.
Morris repeats the claims that "fraudulent, duplicate ballots" were counted, but as we've detailed, the duplicate ballot issue is largely bogus, and weeding out the purported duplicate ballots would mean that legitimately cast ballots would also be eliminated. Further, as Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com, notes, Morris and Coleman are baselessly assuming that fraud is the only possible reason for the existence for those "duplicate ballots" being counted.
Jamison Foser at County Fair notes a Jan. 7 NewsBusters post by Kerry Picket blasting Leon Panetta for his "pathetic excuses in 1996 over why several hundred FBI background reports on American citizens were obtained by Craig Livingstone." The problem, according to Foser:
Picket apparently doesn't realize that Panetta wasn't White House chief of staff when Craig Livingstone was hired, or when the files were obtained. He was chief of staff in 1996, when the investigations began, which is why he commented on them.
So, to sum up: Leon Panetta wasn't responsible for "Filegate," in which no laws were broken. As a result, Newsbusters' Kerry Picket thinks we can't count on Panetta to keep the nation safe. Got it?
Will Newsmax Note Rebuttal to Coulter? Topic: Newsmax
A Jan. 7 Newsmax article by Phil Brennan reported on an analysis by "far left attack dog Media Matters for America" (disclosure: my employer) detailing numerous false and misleading statements in Ann Coulter's new book, "Guilty," claiming that the article "unmasks some of the left’s sleaziest tactics." (Tellingly, Brennan offerds no link to the Media Matters article so his readers can judge for themselves.) Brennan then gives Coulter an opportunity to respond to selected claims Media Matters makes about "her meticulously researched book."
Media Matters has now rebutted Coulter's claims, pointing out that her response compounds the original documented falsehoods she made.
So, the question now is: Does Brennan have enough journalistic integrity to inform his readers about this rebuttal? Or is he so invested in his obvious hatred for Media Matters -- he also quotes "widely respected pollster Frank Luntz" calling it "one of the most destructive organizations associated with American politics today," failing to note that Luntz is a conservative and the statement appears to be a petty reaction to Media Matters' coverage of Luntz -- that he will hide the truth from his readers?
Heritage Foundation Chart Misleads on New Deal Unemployment Topic: Washington Examiner
A "charticle" on the editorial page of the Jan. 7 Washington Examiner (scanned below) is a graph of unemployment rates during the Great Depression -- as supplied by the conservative Heritage Foundation -- in an apparent attempt to forward the right-wing meme that the New Deal did nothing to stop the Depression. But the chart is highly misleading.
First, the numbers priovided, described as "percentage of jobless nonfarm workers," are skewed. As Media Matters points out, government labor statistics from the 1930s did not count those as employed through government work programs as actually being employed. But the numbers here -- which puts "unemployment" above 20 percent from 1931 through 1940 -- are much higher than even those government numbers, not to mention those of other Heritage writers. While the chart pegs unemployment in 1940 at around 21 percent, a Dec. 16 piece by Heritage senior research fellow Ronald Utt states that in 1940, "America's unemployment rate stood at 14.6 percent."
Second, while the chart lists events that have nothing to do with the unemployment rate -- "court packing"? -- it fails to note why unemployment increased in 1938, one even cited by folks like those at the Examiner as evidence that the New Deal failed. In fact, as Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, in 1937 "the Roosevelt administration cut spending and raised taxes, precipitating an economic relapse that drove the unemployment rate back into double digits and led to a major defeat in the 1938 midterm elections. ... F.D.R. thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans; in reality, he was taking big risks with the economy and with his legacy."
CNS Mouths Bush Self-Aggrandizment on Environment Topic: CNSNews.com
A Jan. 7 CNSNews.com article by Fred Lucas uncritically repeats President Bush's claim that his term as president marks "an eight-year commitment to strong environmental protection and conservation ... contrary to the conventional wisdom of many in the news media."
Lucas makes no apparent attempt to contact anyone in "the news media" or any non-conservative environmentalist for their views on Bush's assertion. Rather, he quotes Bush's White House press secretary Dana Perino echoed Bush's claim. He also quotes an "environmental expert and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank," and a "senior legal policy analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation" criticizing a specific Bush order as unnecessary and legally questionable, but they offer no counter to Bush's claims about his environmental record.
Criticism of Bush from the right is hardly a substitute for criticism of Bush from the left, and it hardly makes for a factually balanced article.