Aaron Klein's current sock-puppet assault on Wikipedia is far from the only instance of WorldNetDaily's attacks on the website.
In December, WND editor Joseph Farah let loose an anti-Wikipedia screed after someone had edited his Wiki bio to claim he was "noted homosexual." Farah called Wikipedia "wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever known," a "vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit," "a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution," a "wholly unreliable website run by political and social activists promoting their own agenda" and, last but not least, "pseudo-journalistic terrorism and character assassination." You know, kinda like WND itself.
Last May, WND accused Wikipedia of promoting pornography for including "detailed photos of nude homosexual men engaging in sex acts and a variety of other sexually explicit images and content" for, among other things, offering the definition of a "fluffer" and including an image of the European cover of the 1976 Scorpions album "Virgin Killer," which features a naked girl. At no point does WND concede that the images and content occur in the context of an encyclopedia, or that child nudity is not the same thing as child pornorgraphy. WND promoted the story with the blurb, "Wikipedia or Wikipornia?" As one observer put it, WND demonstrates "a shocking misunderstanding of how Wikipedia actually works."
As editor Joseph Farah himself has demonstrated, WorldNetDaily's reaction to information they don't like is to attempt to discredit and destroy the source of that information.
A March 9 WND article by Drew Zahn attacking the credibility of the Snopes.com urban legend-debunking site and accusing it of a "political or social bias" follows that pattern. Why attack Snopes? It contradicts WND by declaring Barack Obama to be a natural-born American, and it called out Farah for making baselessly alarmist claims.
To counter Snopes on the birth certificate issue, Zahn uncritically quotes false and misleading claims by Orly Taitz, who has filed numerous lawsuits over the issue, claiming that "His paternal grandmother in Kenya and the ambassador of Kenya made statements that he was born in Kenya." In fact, the claim about Obama's grandmother is based on a conversation selectively edited to make it appear as if she made the claim, and WND itself has reported that Kenyan Ambassador Peter Ogego says he was misquoted on the issue and that he never said Obama was born in Kenya.
Zahn also uncritically repeats Taitz's baseless attack on FactCheck.org, asserting that it "claim[ed] to have examined Obama's birth certificate and found it valid. Neither the state of Hawaii, nor Obama has ever released such birth certificate." In fact, FactCheck claimed to have examained the certificate of live birth released by the Obama campaign. Unsurprisingly, Zahn fails to note that WND itself delcared that certificate to be valid.
Zahn goes on to parrot Farah's 2007 attack on Snopes -- but since it's a one-sided account, Zahn doesn't bother to tell the full truth.
As we reported at the time, WND published an alarmist article by Farah on the purported hazards of compact flourescent light bulbs, focusing on the case of a woman who claimed she faced a $2,000 clean-up bill after a bulb broke. Farah failed to mention evidence that a four-figure cleanup of a broken CFL is overkill. Snopes cited Farah's article as an example of a fallacious claim. That got Farah's dander up, and he insisted that it was "ludicrous" for Snopes to claim he suggested that "An environmental clean-up crew needs to be called in to deal with the mercury dispersed by one broken CFL bulb" (despite Farah's enthusiastic promotion of the woman's alarmist claims to that effect) and that "Everything in the story is 100 percent accurate and truthful – and not a word of the original story has been altered" (ignoring the fact that he selectively quoted from the original article, thus introducing factual misrepresentation into his own by telling only one side of the story).
Zahn bizarrely reframes the issue, asserting that "Snopes was investigating claims that the Environmental Protection Agency was covering over safety concerns with compact fluorescent light bulbs" and that Snopes somehow erred by citing the EPA guidelines on how to dispose of a broken CFL. At no pointdid Farah then, or Zahn now, offer evidence to contradict those EPA guidelines.
Farah concluded that 2007 column by laughably asserting that, unlike Snopes and Wikipedia, WND has the "traits" of "honesty, integrity and standards." Zahn demonstrates yet again, through failing to fact-check those whose views he's promoting, that WND has none of those traits.
Uncriticially repeating claims by the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies, March 9 Newsmax article by David Patten promotes the mandated use of the federal E-Verify system to check the eligibility status of employees and complains that such a requirement was "deleted by Democratic leaders" from the stimulus bill. But Patten fails to note concerns about the error rate of E-Verify databases.
As Media Matters details, several government reports have suggested that E-Verify does not have the level of accuracy needed to be truly useful, and that it contains errors that can misidentify millions of qualified workers, especially foreign-born citizens, as being potentially ineligible for employment.
WorldNetDaily's vision of news has turned rather apocalyptic of late.
A March 8 article by Drew Zahn touts how you can be "quietly preparing to survive catastrophe" by purchasing "high-yielding vegetable seeds sealed for long-term storage and awaiting a family's need to grow its own food." WND's front page currently features an ad by a similar company promoted with the line, "Why almost everyone's wrong on coming food shortage."
Another March 8 article promotes claims by David Wilkerson, "best-selling author and founder of a major ministry to teens" as well as author of the evangelical book "The Cross and the Switchblade," of his vision of "fires raging through New York City" that "will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires – such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago. ... We are under God’s wrath." What WND didn't report, as Richard Bartholomew noted, is that Wilkerson has been making such predictions for at least 35 years. WND liked it so much it repeated Wilkerson's claims in a March 9 article.
The MRC launched a fusillade against the Associated Press for daring to report Rush Limbaugh's remark that President Obama's health-care plan will "be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care bill," asserting that it was "liberal propaganda to help demonize Rush Limbaugh." MRC chief Brent Bozell also demanded in a letter to AP Washington bureau chief Ron Fouriner that the AP issue "both an apology to Rush Limbaugh and an immediate update to correct the record."
Bozell brought up a two-month-old Fox News article suggesting that Democrats planned to name any health-care bill after Kennedy as evidence that "Democrats themselves who first suggested this naming months ago, not Rush Limbaugh or any other conservative for that matter" and that the AP was negligent.
Nowhere in either the press release or the letter does Bozell quote what Limbaugh actually said.
Fournier caught on to Bozell's spin; according to a NewsBusters post, Fournier replied:
Saying that a bill should be named after Sen. Kennedy is different from saying the bill will be named after the late Sen. Kennedy. (As Rush Limbaugh put it, "Before it’s over, it’ll be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill.")
In that NewsBusters post, Bozell likened the AP article to Phony Soldiers, Part II":
In October 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led a cabal of liberal Senators in a completely fraudulent attack against Rush fashioned in just the same way - deceitfully taking his words out of context and trumping up a subsequent smear campaign. The left is at it again.
Let's remember the MRC's record of deceitfully taking people's words out of context:
The MRC patched together several quotes from a book by former New York Times editor Howell Raines to make it falsely appear that Raines was insulting Ronald Reagan. The MRC stood by that for nine years before being forced to issue a "clarification."
The MRC is still standing by its 2003 Quote of the Year, a statement in a Boston Globe magazine article by Charles Pierce that "Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to [Mary Jo Kopechne] in her old age," claiming that it's ludicrous sycophancy when Pierce himself has pointed out that in context it was meant, and read by non-MRC employees, as harsh criticism of Kennedy.
Seems to us that Charles Pierce is due an apology long before Limbaugh is.
Richard Poe gets away from ranting about redesigned currency and being a drama queen and gets back to what he does best: rant about liberals. In a March 8 Newsmax article, Poe issues a screed against "radical organizer" Saul Alinsky and, unsurprisingly, issues a few baseless smears along the way against favorite targets like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Poe's article is centered around Sanford Howitt's 1989 bio of Alinsky, "Let Them Call Me Rebel." Poe bizarrely writes, "Ironically, Obama’s name does not appear in the book." Given that Alinsky died in 1972, when Obama was 11, and Poe's own concession that "Obama never met Alinsky," there's no irony whatsoever in the lack of connection between Obama and Alinsky.
Poe also claims that Hillary Clinton was "seduced" by Alinsky: "She met Alinsky through a radical youth group, run by her Methodist church. Later, she interviewed Alinsky for her senior thesis in college -- a 75-page analysis of Alinsky’s organizing methods." Yeah, nothing bespeaks "radical" like being a Methodist.
Poe fails to mention that Clinton concluded her thesis by rejecting Alinsky's methods as a large-scale method for social change: "Alinsky's conclusion that the ‘ventilation’ of hostilities is healthy in certain situations is valid, but across-the-board ‘social catharsis’ cannot be prescribed."
Clinton further wrote in her 2003 autobiography that while she agreed with some of Alinsky's ideas, "we had a fundamental disagreement. He believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn't." Poe doesn't mention that, either. He was apparently too busy trying to paint Alinsky as "amoral."
Aaron Klein Double Standard (And Bad Reporting) Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 6 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein begins: "Officials in Jerusalem are quietly scratching their heads in wonderment as to why the White House did not release an official statement condemning yesterday's tractor terrorist rampage here, the third attack of its kind in recent months."
At no point does Klein offer any evidence that this is a concern by anyone but him. Nowhere does he identify any "officials in Jerusalem" who are asking this question -- even anonymously.
Klein also answers his own question later in the article by reporting that the Arab "terrorist" killed no one or even inflicted anything beyond "minor injuries" in the police officers in the police car the "terrorist" overturned with his front-end loader. (The "terrorist" himself was "shot by police and an armed taxi driver" and later died.)
Klein has a history of double standards on so-called "terrorist rampages." In contrast to his reporting here, he painted an AWOL Israeli soldier who shot and killed four Arabs without apparent provocation on a bus in Gaza as a victim who was "murdered" by a "mob of Palestinians" who observed the shooting.
Is Aaron Klein Writing About Himself? Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 8 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein asserts that Wikipedia editors "has been deleting within minutes any mention of eligibility issues surrounding Barack Obama's presidency, with administrators kicking off anyone who writes about the subject," citing the experience of "Wikipedia user 'Jerusalem21'" in trying to add the information to Obama's page.
What you won't learn from Klein's article: "Jerusalem21" may very well be Klein himself.
As the posting history of "Jerusalem21" demonstrates, the only other Wikipedia article "Jerusalem21" has edited is the one on ... Aaron Klein. Indeed, "Jerusalem21" created the article on Klein and added numerous links and pictures. This alone strongly suggests that "Jerusalem21" is either Klein or someone close to him acting on his behalf, if not his direction.
Don't take our word for it. Here are a couple comments from the discussion area for Klein's Wiki page and its puffery-laden claims:
"We might surmise that the subject is once again editing his own article."
"This article in its current state is absolute garbage. It reads as a total puff piece and was obviously heavily influenced by Klein himself and cronies/sockpuppets at WND."
Full disclosure: We've previously attempted to add factual information about Klein to his page that we've previously reported at ConWebWatch -- much of which was deleted by "Jerusalem21." Ironically, it appears that Klein is guilty of doing the exact same thing to our edits that he's accusing Wikipedia editors of doing to the edits by "Jerusalem21."
Now it's Klein's turn to disclose. Is he "Jerusalem21," or is that person acting on Klein's orders? He needs to stop pretending he's not writing about himself.
UPDATE: An alert ConWebWatch reader alerts us that Klein fails to mention the existence of an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the Obama citizenship conspiracy.
UPDATE 2: NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard regurgitates Klein's story. But then again, Sheppard also embraced a guy who believes in 9/11 conspiracy theories.
UPDATE 3: We've published an expanded version of this post over at Huffington Post.
It's apparently obtuseness weekend at NewsBusters.
First we had Tim Graham unable to properly identify what remark Rush Limbaugh that many found offensive. Now we have Noel Sheppard writing about White House press secretary Robert Gibbs' sparring with critics, then adding, "Anything to distract the nation from a deteriorating economy and the obvious lack of a plan to do anything about it I guess."
Apparently, that stimulus bill was not a plan to do something about the economy.
MRC Branch Advances Anti-Global Warming Fallacies Topic: Media Research Center
A March 4 MRC Business & Media Institute article by Julia Seymour complains about the "media myth" of global warming, but Seymour's article perpetuates a different set of myths.
Seymour cites how "Temperatures have plummeted to record or near-record lows in 32 states this winter" and "a global warming protest in Washington, D.C. was buried by nearly a foot of snow" as evidence that "the Earth is cooling," adding, "Even record low temperatures, record snowfalls and snow in odd places didn’t stop the network media from worrying about the threat of global warming."
In fact, as we've noted, there's no correlation between briefly cold temperatures or snowy weather in isolated parts of the country and long-term climate trends. Even global warming denier Patrick Michaels agrees with that.
Seymour also suggested that temperaures in 2008, which she wrote was "the coldest year since 2000," was further evidence that the earth is cooling. Seymour fails to note that 2008 was the 10th warmest year on record or that, in fact, the earth has not cooled over the past decade.
Tim Graham devotes two NewsBusters posts to misplaced outrage. Can you find it?
"On Friday night's Hardball, Chris Matthews showed how willing he was to carry Democrat water on their manufactured outrage at Rush Limbaugh for mentioning 'that great liberal lion' Ted Kennedy."
"What? Most of the news media call Ted Kennedy a 'liberal lion.' How is this some sort of deep, dark personal insult?"
Uh, Tim? The "liberal lion" statement isn't the problem. It's Limbaugh's crack that President Obama's health care reform will be "called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care bill," suggesting that he's rooting for Ted Kennedy's death.
How obtuse can Graham be to not figure out the insult Limbaugh dished out?
UPDATE: Graham's MRC colleague Brent Baker, at least, gets the insult correct, though he unsurprisingly dismisses it as "supposedly outrageous" and "Phony Soldiers II" and plays the equivocation game by listing "recent personal attacks against Limbaugh from media and left-wing political figures."
Noel Sheppard is joining the right-wing crowd eager to baselessly blame President Obama for the stock market downturn.
In a March 6 NewsBusters post, Sheppard touts Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal articles detailing the decline of the Dow Jones Industrial Average since Obama was inaugurated, asking: "will media ever blame current economic conditions on Obama, or will they continue to point fingers at George W. Bush despite his residence being in Texas?"
But as Media Matters details, Bloomberg and the Journal (not to mention Sheppard) ignored long-term trends -- specifically, that the Dow was on a downward trajectory months before the election and inauguration. Further, Sheppard, like Newsmax and CNSNews.com before him, ignore events not related to Obama that have driven the market lower.
Indeed, Sheppard seems quite desperate to blame the recession on anyone but President Bush; he starts by stating that "Obama was inheriting a recession that some believe began as far back as December 2007." Sheppard neglects to mention that among those "some people" placing the recession's start at that particular point are the committee of economists responsible for dating the nation's business cycles.
All of which, unsurprisingly, runs counter to what NewsBusters have written. For instance:
A Jan. 14 post by Jack Coleman was offended by the idea that President Bush, "who served in neither the presidential administration before his, nor the Congress, had anything to do with creating the 'mild economic downturn' that began weeks after he took office."
A July 2008 post by Tom Blumer was even more offended that Obama said at the time the U.S. was in a recession: "Of course, we're not in a recession yet, because there hasn't even been one official quarter of negative growth, let alone two." Blumer might want to revisit that post.
But NewsBusters embraces such double standards. Don't expect Sheppard to act any differently.
NewsBusters Gives CNBC Anchor's Stupidity A Pass Topic: NewsBusters
In a March 5 NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor approving cites CNBC anchor Jeff Macke's claim that the Obama administration "has created a country full of 330 million people who all want to make $249,000 a year, lest they want to become one of the ‘wealthy,' who apparently the government hates." Poor curiously fails to note the stupidity of Macke's statement.
As Slate's Daniel Gross points out, the U.S. tax structure is marginal. Because Obama has not proposed a tax increase on the first $250,000 of income, and Obama's proposed tax increases apply to amounts past $250,000, the tax liability on that first $250,000 is not affected by the tax increases. Thus, Macke's claim that we "all want to make $249,000 a year" is stupid because the tax liability on that amount is not affected by having income over that amount.
As Gross summed it up: "That dentist eager to slash her income from $320,000 to $250,000 would avoid the pain of paying an extra $2,100 in federal taxes. But she'd also deprive herself of an additional $70,000 in income!"
Examiner Mindlessly Repeats Discredited Obama Attack Topic: Washington Examiner
A March 5 Washington Examiner editorial asserts that as senator, "Barack Obama was compiling a voting record described by the National Journal – not exactly a charter member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy – as 'the most liberal' in the U.S. Senate."
It's too bad that the Examiner's editorial writers don't venture outside their conservative bubble. If they did, they would know that the National Journal's ranking has been discredited -- and methodology, not ideology, is to blame. The National Journal's ranking was based only on a subjectively chosen select number of votes, not all relevant votes. In contrast, a separate study by political science professors Keith Poole and Jeff Lewis, using every non-unanimous vote cast in the Senate in 2007 to determine relative ideology, placed Obama in a tie for the ranking of 10th most liberal senator.