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Saturday, November 21, 2009
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Hacked Email Accounts
Topic: NewsBusters

When an email account belonging to Sarah Palin was hacked last year, NewsBusters was not amused:

  • Dave Pierre complained that the incident was not adequately covered by the media: "Imagine if Barack or Michelle Obama's e-mail had been hacked. Would the reaction from the folks at the Los Angeles Times be so muted? If an Obama were the victim, it's easy to picture Times editor Tim Rutten penning a hissy-fit op-ed, angrily demanding a federal investigation, and trying to formulate how the McCain campaign was directly involved."
  • Mark Finkelstein lamented: "One or more people hack Sarah Palin's email account and publish her private correspondence on the web.  So MSNBC and Politico naturally want to know if. . . Palin did anything wrong and whether there might be anything embarrassing to her in the purloined e-letters." He added: "Let's turn the tables and imagine someone had broken into Obama's email account."
  • Matthew Sheffield devoted a post to how the "feds are zeroing in" on the suspected hacker.

Fast forward to yesterday. Upon the news that email servers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit -- which does research into global warming -- were hacked, NewsBusters expressed no concerns about the apparent illegality of the action. Rather, its writers rooted through them to find anything embarrassing -- even though it previously frowned on people doing exactly that to Palin's hacked email.

Indeed, Noel Sheppard howls that the emails "appear to indicate a conspiracy by some of the world's leading global warming alarmists to falsify temperature data in order to exaggerate global averages." While Sheppard noted a news report that "police had been informed" about the hacking, he expressed no reservation about published illegally obtained information.

Sheppard's lead piece of evidence supporting his "conspiracy" -- an email referencing a "trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline" -- is, of course, not evidence at all. As Real Climate points out: "Scientists often use the term 'trick' to refer to a "a good way to deal with a problem", rather than something that is 'secret', and so there is nothing problematic in this at all."

Further, the author of the email, CRU director Phil Jones, explains:

"No, that's completely wrong. In the sense that they're talking about two different things here. They're talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered -- but they're talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it's just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don't always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years."

Meanwhile, P.J. Gladnick touted the purported "shocking revelations" in the emails without mentioning the apparent illegality involved in obtaining them.

Apparently, NewsBusters believes it's OK to commit crimes against people if you don't agree with their political views.

(P.S. The hacking of Palin's email revealed that she was conducting state business on a private account, arguably a violation of ethics and open government. An Alaska judge declared the practice to be legal because state law didn't address it. NewsBusters has never mentioned this.)


Posted by Terry K. at 12:33 PM EST
Joseph Farah Thin Skin Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah continues to demonstrate his inability to handle criticism in a Nov. 20 WorldNetDaily column, in which he lashes out at liberal writer Max Blumenthal.

Blumenthal had written in a blog item at Huffington Post noting that Sarah Palin, in a speech earlier this month, "cited an urban legend as a 'disturbing trend,' claiming the Treasury Department had moved the phrase 'In God We Trust' from presidential dollar coins. (The rumor most likely originated with a 2006 story on the far-right website WorldNetDaily.)" Farah promptly took umbrage:

Actually, it wasn't "a rumor." It was, what we call in the news business, a fact.

A year later, Congress, alerted to the plan by the original WND story, stopped the plan dead in its tracks, as WND also reported.

That doesn't constitute an "urban legend." That constitutes reporting that led to a policy change.

But Farah appears to be deliberately misinterpreting the claim. It's clear from the context of Blumenthal's blog post (and the Politico article he cites in support of the claim) that Palin portrayed the moving of "In God We Trust" on the presidential series of dollar coins from the face or tail of the coin to the edge as something that is happening right now, rather than something that was proposed and later rejected. That false portrayal is the "urban legend" Blumenthal is referencing. Further, Blumenthal points that out: "In fact, a suggested alteration in its position on the coin was shot down in 2007 after pressure from Democratic Senator Robert Byrd."

Farah fails to mention Blumenthal's additional reporting, nor does he offer any evidence that WND played any significant role in the policy change.

But never mind that -- Farah's in a mood to trash anyone who doesn't praise WND, with all the maturity we've come to expect from him. He repeatedly calls the Huffington Post "the Huffington Puffington Post," smears it as a "pseudo-news organization," and takes a gratuitious swipe at "Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann at MSLSD." He further sneers that this is a "case of political activists posing as journalists calling real journalists political activists."

Really? Is Farah really claiming that the writers in his employ who have peddled lies and hate are "real journalists"? 

Farah wasn't done peddling his delusions. He went on to insist:

WND can truthfully boast it carries the widest ideological spectrum of political commentary anywhere on the Internet or in any newspaper or, for that matter, in any news-opinion forum.

It's true that WND carries noted conservative columnists such as Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan and David Limbaugh. But, unlike the Huffington Puffington Post or any other online or offline publication, it also carries noted liberals such as Bill Press and Nat Hentoff and Ellen Ratner.

Is that "far right"? Or is that "fair and balanced"?

What Farah won't admit in public: This balance he claims is mere window dressing. Bill Press and Ellen Rather are the only liberals appearing among the 50 or so weekly columnists WND currently claims. They are permitted solely so Farah can make this claim. All the rest are conservative, libertarian (Nat Hentoff is a civil libertarian who is anti-abortion, not a liberal) or conservative Christian.

On any given day, liberal opinions by WND columnists are outnumbered at least 7-to-1 by conservative ones. That's not "fair and balanced."

Yet Farah goes on to claim, "I'm not afraid of other viewpoints." Oh, please.

WND is a joke, and Farah's refusal to concede the obvious makes it even more of a joke.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:44 AM EST
Updated: Monday, November 23, 2009 8:38 PM EST
Friday, November 20, 2009
Vote For Us!
Topic: The ConWeb

The 2009 Weblog Awards

We would like to beg you, our readers, to nominate ConWebBlog in the 2009 Weblog Awards. Since there isn't a media category per se and we're not quite political, we're going to aim for the Best Large Blog, defined as having a Technorati authority rating of between 301 and 500 (we're at 440).

ConWebWatch is listed in the comments as a nominee, so what you need to do is click on the "+" icon in that particular comment to indicate your preference.

The nomination phase has been extended to Sunday, so act quickly! We appreciate your support.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:18 PM EST
WND Parrots False GOP Talking Points on Health Care
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Nov. 19 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh uncritically regurgitates House Minority Leader John Boehner's claim that the Senate's health care reform bill contains a monthly "abortion premium."

In fact, there is no such thing. The bill contains a requirement that insurance plans that offer abortion coverage to segregate their funds so that tax dollars aren't used to fund abortion coverage. Further, consumers won't be forced to fund abortions with their premiums because the bill says that every state's health exchange must offer at least one plan that doesn't cover abortion.

Unruh makes no attempt to gather reaction to Boehner's claims from supporters of the bill -- an imbalance that's a longtime pattern of Unruh's.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:28 PM EST
Does Palin Endorse Newsmax's Extreme Anti-Obama Rhetoric?
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax is thrilled to death that Sarah Palin announced that she reads the website:

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax on Tuesday, she offered more praise.

"Let me start off by thanking you [Newsmax] so much for your daily updates,” Palin said. “If it weren't for Newsmax, there'd be a lot of us wondering what the heck was going on that day. . . it is very valuable, very helpful, and I appreciate all that you guys are doing to get a good message out there."

Newsmax is the home of some of the more extreme forms of anti-Obama rhetoric, including John L. Perry's call for a military coup against Obama and Pat Boone's eliminationist rhetoric, calling the Obama administration "varmints" who need to be "figuratively, but in a very real way" poisoned by a "tenting" of the White House.

Does Palin think Newsmax columnists such as Perry and Boone are "helpful" and offering a "good message"?


Posted by Terry K. at 11:03 AM EST
Another Legal Debacle For WND? Author Agrees to Return Purloined CAIR Documents
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Well, it looks like we can stop sending money to WorldNetDaily's legal defense fund.

Talking Points Memo reports that David Gaubatz, co-author of the WND-published, CAIR-bashing book "Muslim Mafia," has apparently agreed to a draft consent order in which he will return all documents and recordings obtained during the time at CAIR spent by Gaubatz's son, who stole the documents while working undercover as an intern. Gaubatz is also enjoined from publishing or otherwise disclosing any of the purloined documents and ordered to pull down any of the documents on blogs or websites he controls.

Poltico reports that Gaubatz's lawyer, Martin Garbus, says Gaubatz will continue to fight the lawsuit even though the legal team concluded it was better not to fight about the preliminary injunction.

WND has been soliciting for its legal defense fund regarding Gaubatz's book on the premise that CAIR material was legally obtained and, in the words of Joseph Farah, "done on advice of counsel at every step, and were in accordance with District of Columbia and Virginia state law." But as we've detailed, WND has not named the attorneys who advised it regarding "Muslim Mafia," nor has it publicly detailed the legal precedents upon which WND's claim that the documents are not stolen rests. WND has also refused to disclose the organization that Gaubatz says funded his investigation.

The court order Gaubatz is apparently agreeing to may also be a tacit admission that Gaubatz's son was violating the confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement he signed when he became employed at CAIR. While CAIR has claimed its can't find a copy of the signed agreement, Gaubatz's son has not denied signing one.

This is shaping up to be another legal debacle for WND. As we documented, WND fought a libel lawsuit filed against it by Al Gore associate Clark Jones for seven years before abrupting settling it just before it was to go to trial, admitting it published false claims about Jones.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:47 AM EST
WND Throws Wash. Times Under the Bus
Topic: WorldNetDaily

That's a fine way to treat a former business partner!

After days of being silent about the goings-on at the Washington Times -- depsite immediately reporting on the demise of a publisher of "homosexual newspapers" -- a Nov. 20 WND article cites "reputable sources within the paper" to claim that the Times "is set to lay off much of its editorial and production staff."

But then, shockingly, WND starts hammering the Times:

  • It points out that it "reportedly has lost billions of dollars in its 27-year history."
  • It reported that paper founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 2002  "told an assembly he was the messiah and the Second Coming of Christ, charged with fulfilling Jesus' unfinished mission," adding that he said at the occasion of the Times' 20th anniversary, "The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world."
  • It noted that now-ousted editor John Solomon last year "announced it would stop using terms such as 'illegal aliens' and 'homosexual,' complying with the same standards of political correctness found at most other daily news organizations." 
  • It references editorial page editor Richard Miniter's discrimination lawsuit against the paper, noting that "Miniter says he was 'coerced' into attending a Unification Church religious ceremony in which a mass wedding was conducted by Moon."

WND has had a previous business relationship with the Times and related publications, as we've detailed, including a content-sharing agreement with now-defunct newsmagazine Insight and the appearance of Joseph Farah's column in the Times' weekly national edition. WND columnist Les Kinsolving even defended the paper by asserting "the fact that the Washington Times was founded by ex-convict and cult leader Sun Myung Moon should not detract from the fact that this daily newspaper has become one of this nation's most influential, and on Capitol Hill, most widely read daily newspapers." Farah did at one point work up the courage to bite the hand that feeds him by criticizing Moon's "coronation ceremony" in a Senate office building. But that was an anomaly until now.

WND's tone here is much different from a May 2007 article fawning over the Times on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, calling it "the major alternative to the mainstream Washington Post, and under the leadership of Wedley [sic: Wesley] Pruden, editor-in-chief, and Managing Editor Francis Coombs, pursues the news of the day with high journalistic standards." No mention of its money pit status or Moon's wackiness.

Despite the broadsides apparently aimed at Solomon's leadership -- after all, "illegal alien" and "homosexual" are still crucial parts of the WND stylebook, though Farah has yet to explain why -- WND is still protective in the Nov. 20 article. At no point does WND describe the Times' political leanings as conservative (it didn't mention it in 2007, either), nor does it mention the Confederacy-revering, white-supremacist-leaning ties of Pruden and Coombs (not to mention Robert Stacy McCain).


Posted by Terry K. at 2:03 AM EST
Updated: Friday, November 20, 2009 2:11 AM EST
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Klein Too Busy Smearing Obama to Correct His Reporting
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've detailed how the arrest of West Bank settler Yaakov (Jack) Teitel on numerous terrorism charges, including the detonation of a pipe bomb outside the house of Israeli professor Zeev Sternhell, contradicts the previous reporting of WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein, who uncritically reported a claim by a settler leader that the Israeli government planted the bomb "to demonize West Bank Jews."

It's been a week now since Teitel's arrest, and Klein has not seen fit to update or correct his reporting -- indeed, Teitel's arrest has been reported nowhere on WND. Klein has, however, found time to write up an article on a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party calling Obama a "racist."

It seems that for Klein, advancing his anti-Obama agenda is more important than telling the truth.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:20 PM EST
CNS Reporter Still Misleading on Judicial Nominee
Topic: CNSNews.com

CNSNews.com's Christopher Neefus goes all in on smearing judicial nominee David Hamilton, using a Nov. 19 article to repeatedly brand him as a "former ACORN fundraiser."

What Neefus fails to report: Hamilton worked for ACORN for only one month out of college.

Neefus has previously refused to tell his readers the full truth about Hamilton and ACORN.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 PM EST
New Article: Ellis Washington's Savage Sycophancy
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily columnist Ellis Washington is now Michael Savage's "authorized biographer," and you know what that means -- acts of literary fellatio likening Savage to Prometheus and even Jesus Christ. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 11:50 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, November 19, 2009 12:34 PM EST
WND Still Lying About Klingenschmitt
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Nov. 18 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh continues WND's history of lying about Gordon Klingenschmitt, calling him a "former U.S. Navy chaplain who was removed from the service after he exercised his right to pray 'in Jesus' name.'" As we've detailed, Klingenschmitt was court-martialed for disobeying an order, not for praying in Jesus' name.

Unruh also uncritically repeats statements by Klingenschimitt and others at a rally protesting a hate-crimes bill that covers sexual preference that misinterpret the bill, statements that claim the bill prohibits merely being criticial of homosexuals. In fact, the bill provides penalties for those who incite violence against homosexuals, not merely reading from the Bible as Klingenschmitt and others did.

Futher, as WND has frequently failed to do, Unruh fails to mention that the bill specifically states that "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the Constitution," which would include the First Amendment protection for freedom of religion.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:52 AM EST
Barry Farber's Fevered Brain
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Barry Farber, in his Nov. 18 WorldNetDaily column, fills his head with right-wing anti-Obama talking points, then hits "puree":

Can you imagine any White House before this one bulging with lovers of Mao Zedong, Karl Marx, teenage homosexual activity, trees and animals having lawyers to sue humans, the ridiculing of free speech (from a stalwart of the FCC, no less), even polygamy? 

And then he goes completely off the rails:

What exactly does CNN mean when it says it's not an American but rather an international network? And are we sure we know what Mike Wallace was saying when he insisted that, as a combat correspondent, he would not tip off American troops even if he learned of an enemy ambush? Maybe we don't want to know.

Um, sure, whatever...


Posted by Terry K. at 12:49 AM EST
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Vote For Us!
Topic: The ConWeb

The 2009 Weblog Awards

We would like to beg you, our readers, to nominate ConWebBlog in the 2009 Weblog Awards. Since there isn't a media category per se and we're not quite poltical, we're going to aim for the Best Large Blog, defined as having a Technorati authority rating of between 301 and 500 (we're at 440).

ConWebWatch is listed in the comments as a nominee (which is where the shameless self-promotion comes in), so what you need to do is click on the "+" icon in that particular comment to indicate your preference.

The nomination phase ends Nov. 20, so act quickly! We appreciate your support.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:10 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 8:12 PM EST
Newsmax Parrots Palin Defender's Misleading Claims
Topic: Newsmax

We already know that Sarah Palin's memoir is filled with falsehoods and distortions, so it's not a surprise to see that it appears a Palin defender is resorting to the same tactics.

A Nov. 18 Newsmax article by Dan Weil features Matthew Continetti's "The Persecution of Sarah Palin," about which he writes:

Continetti said the mainstream political media spread one falsehood after another about Palin including that she:

  • Had been a member of the separatist Alaskan Independence Party (New York Times)
  • Had been a supporter of Pat Buchanan (MSNBC)
  • Faked giving birth to Trig Palin, who was supposedly her grandson (Atlantic Monthly)

Well, let's see:

  • The Times' source for the claim that Sarah Palin belonged to the Alaskan Independence Party was the head of the party. The Times issued a correction after the party chief changed her story.
  • MSNBC's source for Palin being a supporter of Pat Buchanan was ... Pat Buchanan.

So these claims were not invented out of thin air, as Continetti and Newsmax suggest.

As for the claim about Trig Palin, that's largely the work of Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan, not the entire Atlantic Monthly. And as Sullivan points out, he never actually disputed Trig's parentage, but merely "asked her and the campaign to provide easily available proof that she indeed was the biological mother of Trig after her bizarre and incredible stories about her pregnancy and labor. She has failed to produce any such evidence. And she clearly never will."

That's rather ironic given that Newsmax has signed on to demanding that Barack Obama release further proof of his birth.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:41 PM EST
WND Misleads on Pink Slip Campaign
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily offers unsurprisingly positive coverage of its own press conference in which it and Faith2Action's Janet Porter manage to get a few Republican members of Congress to endorse their "pink slip" campaign (and overlook WND's conspiracy-laden website). That means, of course, WND won't tell you the full truth.

The "pink slip" campaign, as we've detailed, features factually inaccurate right-wing talking points sent to all 535 members of Congress.

The WND article touts how the number of pink slips sent "have surged past 5 million," paraphrasing one congressman as saying the number is "staggering, because they weren't from people who were answering a telephone poll and participating in a survey," and that "There is a person behind each one of the slips." But that's misleading too. Divide 5 million by 535, and you get 9,345 -- the number of people who have paid WND $29.95 to do this. That's a far less impressive number than 5 million, so don't expect WND to bring it up.

WND chief Joseph Farah, meanwhile, is still pretending he's really not an activist by promoting the campaign:

"One of the questions I get from colleagues is why a news agency would involve itself in a political advocacy campaign like the 'pink slips' effort. The answer is that I am an American first and a newsman second. I don't want to see the foundations that made this country great and that made the notion of a free press possible destroyed. And that's why we got behind this campaign," he said.

Of course, the more logical -- and more truthful -- answer is that WND has never been a news organization and has always been a political advocacy group, as its eagerness to lie about President Obama amply demonstrates. Further, if WND were an actual news organization that cared about facts, it would not have issued a "pink slip" with such obvious factual errors.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 PM EST

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