A Nov. 23 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard highlights how "Palin documentarian John Ziegler has called for NBC to fire" Norah O'Donnell, noting, "So contemptuous of the former Alaska Governor is O'Donnell that she actually went to a Palin book signing event last week armed with crib notes to attack fans of the outspoken conservative." Ziegler himself similarly notes the incident in the item on his personal website to which Sheppard links: "This query is especially relevant given her shameful performance while covering a Palin book signing in Michigan where she went out of her way to embarrass a teenage girl who was just there to see the political superstar up close and personal."
Sheppard failed to note that what McDonnell did -- ask people in line at a Palin book-signing about Palin's view on political issues, which the fans were generally unaware of -- was essentially what Ziegler did last year, commissioning Zogby to do a poll asking Obama voters about issues related to the election and declaring that "Just 2% of voters who supported Barack Obama on Election Day obtained perfect or near-perfect scores on a post election test which gauged their knowledge of statements and scandals associated with the presidential tickets during the campaign."
Of course, given that Ziegler is a right-wing supporter of Palin, the questions were misleading, and he is a foul-mouthed thug with anyone who challenges him.
Ziegler, needless to say, doesn't see the similarity. From his website: "For the record, while some have tried to compare the two, my interviews with Obama voters on election day were fundamentally different from what O'Donnell did, if only because I am not an alleged 'news' reporter and they were backed up with scientific data."
Still, it's a stunt that Ziegler has pulled in the past, and Sheppard should have noted it.
NewsBusters and other Media Research Center divisions have served asenthusiasticshills for Ziegler's biased projects.
WND Tries to Spin Its Way Out of 'Muslim Mafia' Document Capitulation Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily must have labored all weekend to figure out a way to spin its apparent legal capitulation in agreeing to return documents purloined from CAIR -- used in the WND-published book "Muslim Mafia" -- back to CAIR.
And spin WND does. The most obvious sign that WND feels rather sheepish about returning the documents is that there is no story with that as its sole focus. Rather, WND's spin is buried in a Nov. 22 article by Art Moore that is a fluffy profile of the lawyer for co-author David Gaubatz.
It's not until the ninth paragraph -- after touting how the lawyer, Martin Garbus, is a "First Amendment advocate who has represented the likes of Ronald Reagan, Nelson Mandela and Andrei Sakharov" -- that Moore gets around to his buried lead, the news of the agreement to return the purloined documents to CAIR. And it's a response that reads like it's been filtered through lawyers:
Garbus told WND the material will be returned, and a proposed order filed Thursday indicates both sides have agreed.
He argues there's "no point in having a fight over the right to distribute documents that have already been distributed."
"My client had this material for a long time, and I presume during that long time other people saw it," Garbus said. "So whatever use is being made of the document, I presume has already been made."
CAIR contends the documents were stolen, but Garbus believes that's "not an issue with respect to whether or not the book should be published." David Gaubatz insists the research described in his book, including securing the documents, "was conducted professionally and legally" in cooperation with law enforcement officials. Relevant material is in the hands of the FBI, he said.
"The agreement to return the documents is hardly, as CAIR officials have irresponsibly suggested publicly, an admission the material obtained in this investigation was stolen. We believe the documents and recordings were all obtained legally," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, the parent company of WND Books, which published "Muslim Mafia." "Many of those documents have already been turned over to law-enforcement authorities – not typically the practice of those interested in 'stealing' things. I know the defendants in this lawsuit would prefer to see all the material handed over to law enforcement for review before being returned to CAIR."
Farah added: "But, remember, what is being returned to CAIR are documents that were headed for CAIR's shredder. Once CAIR was eager to dispose of them. Now, suddenly, the group is treating them like they are the crown jewels. Go figure."
"Further, ultimately, there is only one reason the defendants didn't decide to fight CAIR in the courtroom as a matter of principle," said Farah. "That's because the cost of their defense would have been so high it would have wiped them out financially. That's the sad truth of American justice. An extremist group with foreign backing can press litigation against American citizens with impunity. It's an example of economic terrorism."
Of course, if WND actually believed it had a case here, it wouldn't be hiding the news about the document return in an unrelated story, would it?
In line with the declaration of poverty, the article concludes with a plea for readers to donate to WND's legal defense fund. But as we've detailed, there are too many unanswered questions about the legal case WND is making in defense of Gaubatz to make any donation a risky proposition.
Further, WND might have more money to spend of legal defense of Gaubatz if he hadn't spent seven years fighting a libel lawsuit against WND it knew or should have known had merit, rather than making a correction at the outset.
Jeffrey's Claim That Senate Bill Funds Abortion Debunked Topic: CNSNews.com
Media Matters details how Terry Jeffrey's claim in a Nov. 19 CNSNews.com article that the Senate health care reform bill "would mandate federally subsidized abortion" is false. In fact, the section of the bill Jeffrey cited explicitly prohibits the use of federal funds to provide coverage for abortions that are currently restricted under Hyde, and requires segregation of non-federal funds from federal funds to pay for those procedures in a manner similar to that used in many states that cover such abortions under the federally subsidized Medicaid program.
Will CNS publish a correction? It's not exactly known for doing so.
For someone who claims to have a law degree and works as a law professor, James Hirsen seems to lack a grasp of the finer points of the law.
In his Nov. 20 Newsmax column, Hirsen writes that the photo of Sarah Palin that recently appeared on the cover of Newsweek was originally shot for Runner's World magazine, and the photographer's contract allegedly stated that photos from that session were "under embargo" -- not to be used by anyone other than Runner's World -- until August 2010. Hirsen then writes, "It appears that the sale to Newsweek was illegal."
No, it wasn't. A violation of a contract is not the same thing as a violation of law. No criminal statute address the sale of photos. Newsweek will not be hauled into court -- nor will anyone else -- to be arraigned on charges of selling or buying an allegedly embargoed photo. Violations of contracts, when they do enter the court system, are handled in civil court, not criminal court.
Hirsen does seem to understand that, stating that the photographer or his agency "may have violated provisions of his contract for some fast cash from the magazine." But that didn't keep Hirsen from calling it "illegal."
Then, even as Hirsen narrowed down the alleged culprit in this case to the agency that sold the photo to Newsweek, he found a way to attack Newsweek anyway, insisting that the "big question with respect to Newsweek is whether or not anyone there knew that Adams, the photographer, was not contractually free to sell the picture" -- despite quoting a Newsweek spokesman saying that the magazine was "not aware of any issues with it."
Hirsen then snarks: "Isn’t it comforting to know that when Newsweek violates journalistic ethics they do so in a gender-neutral way?" This from a guy with a long history of violating journalistic ethics by repeatedly failing to disclose his close relationship with Mel Gibson even as he wrote numerous fawning articles at Newsmax about the actor and his projects.
Aaron Klein Mighty Wurlitzer Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
As we've detailed, New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind is a handy source whenever WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein feels the need to bash anyone critical of Israeli right-wingers in general or Jewish settlements in occupied territory in particular.
This time, Klein farms out his Mighty Wurlitzer work to Samuel Sokol, who tout in a Nov. 20 WND article how Hikind "laid the cornerstone for the second phase of a new Jewish construction project in the Nof Tzion neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem." Oh, and of course, Hikind also 'asserted banning Jews from building in neighborhoods was segregation. He expressed wonder that an African-American president would endorse such a policy in the 21st century."
No mention, of course, of Hikind being a longtime disciple of right-wing Israeli extremist Meir Kahane, since Klein apparently doesn't think an organization that drives followers to murder is extreme.
Joseph Farah's Thin Skin (and Denial of the Obvious), Day 2 Topic: WorldNetDaily
For the second day in a row, Joseph Farah is so apoplectic that someone would dare criticize WorldNetDaily that he can't get his facts straight.
Farah's target in his Nov. 21 column is an Anti-Defamation League report, "Rage Grows in America: Anti‑Government Conspiracies." After noting that the ADL states that "Some even compared the Obama administration’s intentions to Nazi eugenics programs," Farah proudly notes, "Well, to the aforementioned, I plead guilty."
But then, after defending his pro-Jewish bona fides by stating that is "asked to speak to more Jewish audiences, including many chapters of the B'nai Brith, both in the U.S. and Canada, than Christian audiences" and that his "coverage and analysis of the Middle East has been hailed by Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as thousands of other prominent Jewish leaders in Israel and the U.S.," he writes, "If that's the new definition of anti-Semitism in America, I guess I am one."
But the ADL is not accusing Farah or WND of anti-Semitism -- indeed, the word is nowhere to be found in the report's introduction or its section on the birthers, where WND figures prominently. The focus of the ADL report is on anti-government conspiracies, which WND is undoubtedly guilty of propagating.
Nevertheless, Farah takes this opportunity to lie about himself and WND: "Of course, no one at WND to my knowledge has ever said Obama wasn't born in the U.S. or suggested he was born in Kenya."
Does Farah really think is readers are that stupid? Between this and his longtimedenial of the painfully obvious fact that WND has a right-wing bias -- a myth he tried to perpetuate again in his previous column -- it appears so.
The Truth About O'Leary's Misleading Polls Is Too Much For Him to Bear Topic: Washington Examiner
Brad O'Leary spent an entire Nov. 19 Washington Examiner column responding to Media Matters' highlighting of his skewed Zogby polls and, more specifically, his racially charged poll question regarding Mark Lloyd:
The author of this "racially charged" language is none other than Obama's Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd himself. Here is what he said at the 2005 Conference on Media Reform: Racial Justice:
"This - there's nothing more difficult than this. Because we have really, truly good white people in important positions. And the fact of the matter is that there are a limited number of those positions.
"And unless we are conscious of the need to have more people of color, gays, other people in those positions we will not change the problem. We're in a position where you have to say who is going to step down so someone else can have power."
I find it equal parts troubling and incredible that in 21st Century America there could be anyone, much less a high-level federal appointee, who thinks the government should be forcing hirings-and-firings at private companies based solely on race and sexual preference.
Media Matters, evidently, is only outraged that someone would dare report the matter or ask America's opinion about it. Or maybe Media Matters thinks it is unfair to hold a presidential appointee responsible for something he said just four years ago.
O'Leary, however, did not include any of that background -- which the vast majority of respondents would have no knowledge of without it -- in asking his poll question, which was this:
Federal Communications Commission Chief Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd wants the FCC to force good white people in positions of power in the broadcast industry to step down to make room for more African-Americans and gays to fill those positions. Do you agree or disagree that this presents a threat to free speech?
Also problematic for O'Leary is that the question, as asked, is false. At no point does Lloyd advocate using the FCC to "force good white people" in the broadcast industry out.
O'Leary has only himself to blame for his false, out-of-context framing of Lloyd's statement. And he's a veritable laugh riot in coming to Zogby's defense:
I choose to do polling with Zogby because they've been among the most accurate pollsters for the past two decades. I find that Zogby does very well in balancing my questions to remove any conservative or other bias that may exist. When you're searching for the truth, it does no good to rig the outcome.
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.)
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 peddledlies 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.
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.
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.
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"?
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.
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).
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.