ConWebBlog: The Weblog of ConWebWatch

your New Media watchdog

ConWebWatch: home | archive/search | about | primer | shop

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Meanwhile ...
Topic: NewsBusters

Media Matters' Simon Maloy details how NewsBusters' Tim Graham expresses outrage that the New York Times committed the conservatively incorrect sin of reporting criticism of the killing of geese in order to increase airline safety, he treats a parody Facebook page supporting the geese, which has a total of 15 followers, as something serious and of national concern.

Graham now has a note at the top of his post saying, "I should have noticed that the "Stop the Goose Holocaust" page on Facebook is an animal-rights parody."


Posted by Terry K. at 10:10 PM EDT
Another Aaron Klein Guilt-By-Association Classic
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Gulit-by-association maestro Aaron Klein turns in another stellar effort in which he intimates much wrongdoing but proves absolutely nothing.

Here's how Klein's July 13 WorldNetDaily article starts:

A federal bill that seeks to restore voting rights in national elections to felons released from prison previously was a pet project of the radical Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign was briefed on state laws governing voting-rights restoration for former felons encountered during general voter-registration drives.

The information comes as a study released this week by Minnesota Majority, a watchdog group, found the six-month election recount that determined Al Franken won the Minnesota Senate seat may have been decided by convicted felons who voted illegally.

Klein offers no evidence whatsoever there's anything wrong with restoring voting rights to "felons released from prison" or advising former felons of their voting rights. Indeed, there's nothing at all wrong with it. Whether it was a "pet project" of ACORN is utterly irrelevant -- just another desperate attempt at guilt by association.

Regarding the claim that "convicted felons who voted illegally" gave the win to Franken, Klein fails to report evidence debunking the Minnesota Majority "study."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that "[i]nitial reviews by state and local officials, however, indicate that the problem may be far smaller than the group found in a recent study being championed by the Minnesota Republican Party." The Star Tribune added that "the group's reports are likely inflated and hard to verify because of difficulties determining whether the suspected felon voters had their voting rights restored, if they knew they were ineligible to vote, or if they were actually the people whose names appear on voter rolls."

MinnPost quoted a county election official saying that "much of their data is not good," adding, "Of the 475 cases Minnesota Majority questioned, 270 examples were just not accurate":

There are reasons for so many inaccuracies, Carruthers said. For example, because of data privacy laws, Minnesota Majority was able only to get year of birth of many of the people they claimed had voted illegally. But, for the group to be sure it had the right individual, it would have needed the actual date of birth.

“In a state with so many Johnsons,’’ said [county prosecutor Phil] Carruthers, “you have many people with the same name born in the same year. You have to have date of birth, to be sure you have the right person.’’

[...]

Additionally, Carruthers said, Minnesota Majority would not have had access to changes in sentencing. For example, a person who initially had been sentenced to 10 years of probation may have had that probation reduced during the period of the sentence. At that point, the individual’s civil rights - including the right to vote - would have been restored.

Of course, Klein doesn't believe in telling the truth when the truth interferes with his anti-Obama agenda.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:40 PM EDT
WND's White House Coverage Is About Kinsolving, Not White HOuse
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Most news organizations, when covering a press briefing, treat what is said by the person in the briefing as news. WorldNetDaily, however, is more concerned about whether its "reporter" gets to ask questions.

Thus, WND's coverage of White House press briefings is totally centered around whether Les Kinsolving is called on. Such is the case in a July 13 article complaining that Kinsolving, "WND's correspondent at the White House and the second most senior reporter on the beat, was bypassed today at the daily news briefing with press secretary Robert Gibbs."

This descended into a third-person view of the situation: "Kinsolving, who has been at the post since he began covering the executive branch during the Nixon administration, reports that he has been excluded from daily access to the White House more under President Obama's spokesman, Gibbs, than during the tenures of any of the 14 other press secretaries with whom he has worked." Who did Kinsolving say this to? Why is he unable to report this himself?

The answer is that Kinsolving is not, in fact, a "reporter." As Eric Boehlert has noted, Kinsolving is a radio host who pushes right-wing talking points masquerading as questions. He hasn't done any real reporting in years and certainly doesn't do any for WND, where his byline appears only on an opinion column.

WND helpfully serves up the questions Kinsolving would have asked, which only proves the point that Kinsolving isn't interested in actual reporting:

Kinsolving was prepared to ask: "Does the president think it was right -- or wrong -- for the authors of Medicare to exempt Congress?" and "Does the president agree or disagree with officials of the Health and Human Services agency advisory committee on blood safety and availability, who in a 9-6 vote decided against allowing MSM (men who have sex with men) to donate blood?"

Kinsolving has a longtime obsession with homosexuality, repeatedly denouncing what he calls the "Sodomy Lobby."

As Boehlert pointed out, Kinsolving is similar to Helen Thomas in that they are both opinion-based writers and not actual reporters. While WND has repeatedly demanded that Kinsolving be accorded respect for being "the second most senior reporter" in the White House briefing room, it offered no such respect to Thomas; for instance, when the syndicator of Ann Coulter's column eliminated a description of Thomas as an "old Arab," WND restored it.

Meanwhile, WND launched a hissy fit -- well, more to the point, a lawsuit -- over not getting as many seats as it demanded for the White House Correspondents Dinner. WND claimed it "needed three tables in order to bring its personnel and distinguished guests to the event, [to honor] Les Kinsolving's tenure as a distinguished White House correspondent, and his daughter, Kathleen Kinsolving Willmann, has just written a book about his career, entitled 'Gadfly.' " When WND didn't get what it wanted, Joseph Farah took his ball and went home and wouldn't even allow Kinsolving to attend.

Boehlert and others have noted that an offensive comment by Thomas caused her to hastily give up her seat in the briefing room, while Kinsolving makes similarly outrageous comments -- like promoting birther conspiracy theories -- without any apparent repercussion, let alone cries for him to lose his press pass.

Neither Kinsolving nor WND seem to have put two and two together -- that it's questions like those (not to mention WND's vehemently anti-Obama agenda) that keep him and his employer from being taken seriously by Gibbs. Or, indeed, anyone else.

(Cross-posted at Media Matters.)


Posted by Terry K. at 11:52 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, July 15, 2010 12:24 AM EDT
WND Promotes Communist Newspaper's Bogus Monkey Story
Topic: WorldNetDaily

As right-wing as WorldNetDaily is, you wouldn't think they would be uncritically promoting a story that originated in the official communist newspaper of China.

Yet here is a July 11 WND article stating:

Afghanistan's Taliban terrorists are training monkeys to shoot American soldiers with automatic weapons, according to British and Chinese media agencies.

In the Taliban stronghold of Waziristan, journalists took pictures of some "monkey soldiers" holding AK-47s and Bren light machine guns.

The official People's Daily in China explained the emergence of "monkey soldiers" as just another facet of "asymmetrical warfare."

WND treats this story seriously, even providing historical context by claiming that "in the 1920s, Russian dictator Josef Stalin ordered his scientists to breed a half-ape, half-man super-army that would be impervious to pain and not fussy about rations." No attempt is made to investigate the story's veracity.

Of course, it's less than true. From Stars & Stripes' Rumor Doctor:

The Rumor Doctor asked NATO officials whether these killer monkeys have yet been encountered on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

“We have absolutely nothing that leads us to believe that this tale could be even remotely based in reality,” said NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.

Given WND's compulsion to lie, it's no surprise that it would promote a bogus story -- even choosing to trust communists in doing so.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:10 AM EDT
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Simple Answers to Simple Questions
Topic: Accuracy in Media

A July 12 Accuracy in Media column by Jim Kouri carries the headline question:

Justice Department Whistleblower Ignored by News Media. Why?

Because J. Christian Adams is a partisan hack who has no firsthand evidence to back up his claims.

This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions.

(Concept stolen from Atrios.)


Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 PM EDT
Quote of the Day
Topic: NewsBusters

Jeff Poor writes in a July 12 NewsBusters post:

Surprises come unexpectedly sometimes.

No kidding. Most of the time, you see those surprises coming a mile away...


Posted by Terry K. at 6:16 PM EDT
CNS Columnist Praises Silly Documentary
Topic: CNSNews.com

A July 12 CNSNews.com column by Ken Connor touts a documentary called "Generation Zero," which he claims is "based upon the premise that the indulgent parenting style of the Greatest Generation produced the self-centered risk-takers ultimately responsible for the collapse of 2008."

Actually, as Media Matters points out:

This denies reality. It is in fact the conservative movement that has regularly supported the power of personhood for corporations, and the resulting dissolution of personal responsibility for corporate decisions. In fact, one of the producers of this very film is David Bossie. Bossie is behind Citizens United, the conservative activist group who recently won a Supreme Court case that affirmed the power of political speech for coporations like Citizens United (the case was decided 5-4 with the justices regularly categorized as conservative voting in the affirmative).

It might be possible, maybe, that Bossie is secretly one of those corporate loving hippies in disguise. But I'm doubtful.

nevertheless, Connor thinks this biased, ahistorical little film is Very Important.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:29 PM EDT
NewsBusters Offended That 'Only Pro-Gay Side' of Story Was Told
Topic: NewsBusters

The headline of a July 12 NewsBusters post sums up Scott Whitlock's lament: "No Balance Required? MSNBC Features Only Pro-gay Side of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Debate."

Interestingly, Whitlock didn't describe the other side of the debate as "anti-gay." Nor can we remember any Media Research Center employee describe opposition to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell as "anti-gay" even though it appears to consider support of repeal as "pro-gay," as Whitlock demonstrates.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:33 AM EDT
WND Headline: 'Obama Hates America. Why?'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A promotion for the latest issue of WorldNetDaily's Whistleblower magazine carries this headline:

That, of course, is a bald-faced lie, and they know it. Perhaps the headline should be: "WND can't do a story about Obama without lying. Why?"

The lying continues in the article itself by taking Obama quotes out of context to make a false conclusion:

"America is – is no longer, uh, what it could be – what it, it once was. And I say to myself, I don't want that future for my children."  – Barack Obama to a 7-year-old girl asking why he wanted to be president, Elkhart, Indiana, Aug. 6, 2008

Whether Barack Obama is apologizing about America to a 7-year-old child or to European and Muslim world leaders, after 18 months as president there is no longer any doubt about which direction he's taking America: Down.
  • "Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail."  – President Barack Obama in Cairo, Egypt, June 3, 2009
  • "Whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower."  – President Obama at close of two-day nuclear-security summit in Washington, D.C., April 13, 2010
  • "[The world] cannot depend as much on the U.S. as it did in the past." – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to the BBC, June 25, 2010

By every objective measure, it's clear that President Obama and those surrounding and guiding him are firmly committed to ending, once and for all, America's economic, military and moral leadership in the world.

The purported antidote is not telling the truth -- as one might expect from a self-proclaimed "news" organization, but this very issue of Whistleblower, which managing editor David Kupelian describes as "the antidote to Obama and his vision of a dependent, enfeebled, American socialist utopia. ... It transports readers to the real America – the nation they loved as a child, the 'shining city on a hill' our founders gave us and the Pilgrims dreamed about and courageously pursued."

The funny thing is, Kupelian shares the same idea about the country as Obama, as expressed in the first out-of-context quote -- that America is no longer "what it once was."

Actually, there's another funny thing going on here. As one of the premiums for subscribing to its overpriced magazine, WND will give you ... a copy of Glenn Beck's ridiculous novel, "The Overton Window."

Which makes it only slightly more ridiculous than WND's compulsion to lie about Obama.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:05 AM EDT
Monday, July 12, 2010
CNS' Starr Still Hiding Facts on Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Topic: CNSNews.com

A July 9 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr offers another skewed view of crisis pregnancy clinics, this asserting that a new congressional bill will "restrict the speech of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers by regulating the advertising they do."

In fact, all the bill does is forbid ads that "create the impression that such person is a provider of abortion services if such person does not provide abortion services." While Starr quotes this provision in herarticle, at no point does she or any of the "pro-life" people she quotes explain how that provision equates to "restricting the speech of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers."

As she has before, Starr omits the fact that numerous crisis pregnancy centers have been found to give out misleading or false information about abortion or even acted in a "controlling and intimidating" manner to the client. Starr did quote from the websites of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood for their views on crisis preganancy clinics, as well as a press release from the member of Congress who introduced the legislation, but she appears not to have actually talked to anyone who supports the legislation.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:43 PM EDT
Sheppard Baselessly Ridicules Maddow
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard asserts in a July 11 NewsBusters post: "Channeling her inner Nancy Pelosi, Rachel Maddow on Sunday actually said extending unemployment benefits is 'the most stimulative thing you can do' to help the ailing economy." Sheppard went on to call Pelosi's original claim to that effect "one of the most inane statements ever uttered by a House Speaker in American history," adding, "Does Maddow actually BELIEVE that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy, or was she just mimicking Pelosi and repeating Democrat talking points?"

But Sheppard is too busy ridiculing Maddow and Pelosi to mention that economists agree that, yes,  unemployment benefits do in fact stimulate the economy.

Another thing Sheppard was too busy doing to tell the truth  was attacking Maddow for "falsely stat[ing] that Obama inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit." Sheppard contorts the facts thusly:

After all, on March 14, 2008, then Sen. Obama voted in favor of the 2009 budget which authorized $3.1 trillion in federal outlays along with a projected $400 billion deficit. The 51-44 vote that morning was strongly along party lines with only two Republicans saying "Yes."

When the final conference report was presented to the House on June 5, not one Republican voted for it.

This means the 2009 budget was almost exclusively approved by Democrats, with "Yeas" coming from current President then Sen. Obama, his current Vice President then Sen. Joe Biden, his current Chief of Staff then Rep. Rahm Emanuel, and his current Secretary of State then Sen. Hillary Clinton.

As such, when Maddow says, "They put all that stuff on the deficit, $1.3 trillion sitting there as -- in a deficit when Obama took over," the "They" were Democrats INCLUDING Obama. 

How is this possibly something he inherited when his Party ramrodded the original budget through Congress with virtually no Republican approval -- save Bush's signature, of course -- and the highest members of the current Administration -- including the president himself!!! -- supported it when they were either in the Senate or the House?

Sadly, Maddow's math doesn't incorporate this inconvenient truth.

Of course, Sheppard doesn't mention that Bush could have vetoed any of those bills, but chose not to. Bush had the final say, and that was to sign those spending bills, thus making them his responsibility.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:55 PM EDT
Pat Boone Regurgitates Kagan Distortions
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Pat Boone's July 10 WorldNetDaily column is largely a regurgitation of false and misleading right-wing talking points about Elena Kagan. For instance:

While serving as dean of the Harvard Law School (one of Obama's alma maters), Kagan tossed military recruiters off campus, protesting the legally mandated military policy of "don't ask, don't tell." In so doing, she was in violation of federal law (the Solomon Amendment).

She then sought to have the Amendment overturned, but the Supreme Court, on which she now seeks to serve, repudiated her 8-0. Not even liberal Justice Stevens (whom she hopes to replace) agreed with her activist stance.

Wrong. Kagan never "tossed military recruiters off campus"; she prohibited them from using the law school's careers office. Students had access to military recruiters during that semester via the alumni office, and military recruiting at the school was not affected. Further, Kagan did not act "in violation of federal law during that one-semester prohibition; the Solomon Amendment had been overturned by an appeals court, which gave her the legal rationale to institute the prohibition.

There's also this:

While at Princeton, Kagan authored a paper expressing sympathy for the plight of the Socialist Party, and Judicial Watch quotes her: "The story is a sad but also chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America." 

In fact, Kagan did not "express sympathy for the plight of the Socialist Party"; she merely wrote a historical examination about the decline of socialism in New York in the early 20th century.

And then there's Boone's curious description of Kagan as an "otherwise nice woman who likes her softball." Playing the gay-baiting dog whistle, are we, Pat?

UPDATE: Newsmax has also posted Boone's column, but it deletes the reference to Kagan being an "otherwise nice woman who likes her softball."


Posted by Terry K. at 8:57 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, July 12, 2010 10:42 AM EDT
Kessler's Unverifiable Attack: An Update
Topic: Newsmax

A few weeks back, we wrote about a column by Newsmax's Ronald Kessler, which he and John M. Palatiello, president of the Business Coalition for Fair Competition, attack the Obama administration for allegedly "changing government rules to prevent agencies from using private firms in order to reduce costs." Palatiello cited "a small business man up in Peekskill, New York, who is a food service catering company. ... And he had a contract pulled from him and brought in-house," but offered no other identifying information in which his story could be verified.

Well, we heard from a man who claims to be the guy in Peekskill. He didn't want the email reprinted, but he assures us he exists and his situation is real.

We're willing to take him at his word, but we're also willing to venture this situation is not unique under, or even a direct result of, the Obama administration; there are likely other instances of similar contract issues that happened under previous administrations. And Kessler and Palatiello could have avoided letting their partisan agenda show by offering verifiable evidence that the Obama adminstration is behaving in a fashion different than other administrations.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:48 AM EDT
Sunday, July 11, 2010
WND Promotes Hate Group's Attack on Kagan
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A July 10 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn promotes an attack on Elena Kagan by the far-right anti-gay group MassResistance.

WND, of course, didn't mention that MassResistance is far-right or anti-gay. And it definitely didn't mention that the Southern Poverty Law Center placed MassResistance among "anti-gay" groups on its list of active hate groups.

As we've detailed, WND has regularly served as the press agent for MassResistance.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, July 11, 2010 10:11 PM EDT
Reagan Doesn't Get NASA's Diplomacy Mission
Topic: Newsmax

Michael Reagan writes in his July 9 Newsmax column:

NASA administrator Charles Bolden recently told Al Jazeera English that President Obama "wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with the dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering."

After hearing this statement, my deepest fears about the dangerous priorities being put forth by this administration were confirmed.

Could someone please explain to the hard-working men and women of NASA, or, even more importantly to us as taxpayers who fund the agency, why the leader of that organization is being asked to essentially serve as a diplomat?

Where in NASA's mission statement does it discuss the role of the agency in making nations "feel good"?

With such an egregious misuse of resources, personnel and priorities, I hardly know where to start.

But as Slate's Christopher Beam points out, NASA has always had a diplomacy mission:

Bolden chose his words poorly when he said the goal was to make Muslim nations "feel good." But his statement revealed a truth about NASA that's rarely articulated by public officials: One of its main missions is now—and always has been—public relations.

When NASA was first created in 1958, it served several purposes. The United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a Cold War, so the space race was partly about defense—whoever controlled the skies controlled the world. But it was also symbolic: Landing on the moon before the Soviets represented the triumph of American technology and innovation. It was also an opportunity for the United States to win fans across the globe. There's a reason Neil Armstrong didn't call the moon landing one giant leap for the United States of America.

[...]

The Shuttle-Mir Program, a U.S.-Russia collaboration announced in 1993, fostered good relations between former rivals. The International Space Station was another opportunity for cooperation with Russia, Japan, and the European Space Agency. Obama puts even more emphasis on international relations. An administration report on national space policy released last week promises that exploration projects will help "all nations and peoples—space-faring and space-benefiting." It also assures allies that "there shall be no national claims of sovereignty over outer space or any celestial bodies." In more concrete terms, the administration's current plans for human space travel—a stop by an asteroid by 2025, followed by an eventual (and still very hypothetical) trip to Mars—would likely include other nations, and U.S. officials have reportedly reached out to China about joint space efforts.

In context, using NASA to reach out to the Muslim world doesn't sound all that crazy. Bolden may have put that goal in patronizing terms. But the core idea—that space efforts represent an opportunity for cooperation with countries in the Middle East—is a compelling one. Iran has a space program, as do Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Inviting them to join the International Space Station or to collaborate on bilateral projects would be win-win.

Reagan also claims that "this story is also going to fuel the rumors that abound when it comes to the president and affinity for and preferential treatment of the Islamic world." So if Reagan knows the rumors are false, what, if anything, is Reagan doing to debunk them? Nothing, we suspect.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 AM EDT

Newer | Latest | Older

Bookmark and Share

Get the WorldNetDaily Lies sticker!

Find more neat stuff at the ConWebWatch store!

Read my blog on Kindle

Support This Site

« July 2010 »
S M T W T F S
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Bloggers' Rights at EFF
Support Bloggers' Rights!

News Media Blog Network

Add to Technorati Favorites

Add to Google

Subscribe in Bloglines

Add to My AOL