Busted! The Truth About MRC's Distortions Topic: Media Research Center
Media Matters has done some heavy lifting to get the facts about some recent Media Research Center-related distortions.
The April 22 edition of Fox News' "Hannity" was dedicated to telling "the history of liberal media," with a big assist from the MRC, which stated that it "made available to Fox News Channel producers video clips from our archive going back more than 20 years and they are scattered throughout the hour – as are soundbites from MRC President Brent Bozell." As Media Matters details, the Hannity special was littered with distorted, out-of-context quotes that purportedly prove "liberal bias," including Katie Couric's "The Gipper was an airhead" quote we have previously called the MRC out on.
The MRC's Business & Media Institute produced an April 19 report by Julia Seymour complaining that news reports aren't blaming President Obama for higher gas prices. As Media Matters documents, those news reports are telling the truth -- no legitimate energy expert links the moritorium on deep-water oil drilling to higher oil prices.
Undaunted by the facts, Seymour churned out another article saying basically the same thing.
Newsmax's favorite bitter ex-CIA agent is back again, this time given a video platform for his bitterness.
An April 22 Newsmax article by Dan Weil and Kathleen Walter features a video interview of Kent Clizbe, in which he not only denounces President Obama's actions in Libya, he goes birther:
On a separate issue, Clizbe says Americans have a right to be concerned about whether Obama was born in the United States.
“There’s a constitutional mandate that lays out exactly the qualifications for any president,” he says. “In the past, the press has served as vetters for these issues.” But this time around, the press hasn’t come through, Clizbe says.
“President Obama needs to be vetted. What exactly is in his background, who knows? But he hasn’t been vetted. The birth certificate is just one tiny issue in a much larger vetting question.”
The apparent purpose of this interview of Clizbe is to promote his upcoming book, "Willing Accomplices: How KGB Covert Influence Agents Created Political Correctness and Destroyed America." The website for the book -- which appears to be self-published; the listed publisher, Andemca Publishing, lists only his book and Clizbe as the only named contact -- rants about "Progressives' and Obama's Hate-America-First politics" and "Obama's America-Sucks Political Platform."
In the interview but not noted in the accompanying article, Clizbe asserts that "the whole political philosophy of political correctness was created by the KGB, a covert influence campaign that they began in the 1920s under Lenin, and their goal was to destroy American exceptionalism, and they did that very well." Clizbe does add that "there's no evidence that President Obama is controlled by the KGB."
Of course, in the 1920s America was hardly a world power and "American exceptionalism" had not been much of an issue at that time, so it's highly unlikely that Lenin and the KGB (which was not established until the 1950s) would concern themselves with targeting America so soon after the Russian Revolution.
A free excerpt of Clizbe's book suggests more of the Obama-hate he has previously peddled; he has, after all, perviously smeared the president as a Soviet tool. He writes in the book:
Obama is the first president to apologize repeatedly for America’s sins against foreign countries, and to speak disparagingly against the country that elected him. Obama’s cool, detached Elite attitude, loathing the “bitter clingers” of the heartland, is a living testament to the power and success of Muenzenberg’s covert influence operations.
It's strange that Newsmax would embrace such a rabidly right-wing book given that it has been trying to moderate itself over the past few years. Is Newsmax backsliding to its Clinton-era-style rage and conspiracy-mongering? Its hearty embrace of Donald Trump's birtherism suggests so.
NewsBusters Pretends Birtherism Is Only A 'Fringe-Right' Issue Topic: NewsBusters
An April 21 NewsBusters post by Matt Hadro complains that a CNN contributor didn't state that "the GOP has a problem on its hands with 'birther' rhetoric from the fringe-right." Perhaps that's because birther rhetoric has ceased being a "fringe-right" issue.
Significant numbers of Republicans -- a majority in one recent poll -- hold birther views, and birther obsessive Donald Trump has become a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination.
Apparently, Hadro thinks half the Republican party is "fringe right." But don't his NewsBusters colleagues love to Heather those who aren't?
Farah Is Still Lying About Legal-Fee Claim Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah, it seems, is not done berating his latest critic.
The war of words between him and Salon over WND's claims about how much money President Obama has purportedly spent fighting birther lawsuits gets another go in Farah's April 23 column, which carries the headline "Last word about Salon."
True to petulant form, Farah wastes no time trying to denigrate Salon's Justin Elliott, the target of his ire, as a "George Soros-linked blogger," a "Soros apparatchik," and "the little Soros crony." This apparently refers to Elliott's stint writing for the Campus Progress blog, published by the Soros-funded Center for American Progress; Farah offers no evidence that Elliott's current employer, Salon (or his previous employer, Talking Points Memo), have any Soros links. Following Farah's logic, we should be calling Farah a Richard Mellon Scaife apparatchik.
As he has before, Farah is spreading more birther falsehoods. He concedes what the facts show, stating that "We don't know exactly how much money Obama has spent hiding public documentation about his nativity story," but he also states, "WND never reported that Obama had spent $2 million hiding his birth certificate."
That is a bald-faced lie. Not only has WND, as the blog Barackryphal detailed, repeatedly claimed or suggested that Obama has spent a large amount of money fighting birther lawsuits, Farah himself said so in his Dec. 9, 2010, column, explicitly stating that "Obama has spent at least $2 million fighting efforts to release his birth certificate."
Even when you limit Farah's statement to the three Chelsea Schilling-penned articles in which the claim was promulgated, it's still a lie. As we documented, two of the articles asserted all of the money was paid to Obama's "top eligibility lawyer" -- something Schilling's evidence does not support.
Don't expect Farah to issue a formal correction on this obviously false claim -- you know how he gets about that.
CNS Misleads On Asthma Risk From Coal Topic: CNSNews.com
An April 19 CNSNews.com article by Matt Cover highlights a claim by President Obama that coal could create "the kinds of air pollution" that is "creating asthma for kids," retorting:
Asthma, however, is not caused by coal, or the emissions from coal-fired power plants, as the president suggested. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the true cause of asthma is unknown, although scientists believe it is caused by a confluence of genetic and environmental factors or early viral infections.
A 2001 study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that two coal-powered plants in Chicago were responsible for 2,800 asthma attacks per year. Likewise, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that "Substantial scientific evidence" has linked air pollutants like sulfur dioxide -- a compound released when coal is burned -- to respiratory problems. Specifically, the AAFA states that "People prone to allergy, especially those with allergic asthma, can be extremely sensitive to inhaled sulfur dioxide."
Coal-burning plants also produce nitrogen oxides. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, "Nitrogen oxides play a major role in the formation of ground-level ozone (or smog) in the summertime. Smog triggers millions of asthma attacks each year in the U.S., and worsens or causes other respiratory ailments."
Cover did concede that "The NIH did say that respiratory irritants, such as air pollution, can trigger an asthma attack," then added, "but not that air pollution causes the disease."
MRC's Bozell Heathers All Over NYT's Brooks Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell's April 20 column is one massive Heathering of New York Times columnist David Brooks for not being slavishly devoted to right-wing talking points in his appearances on NPR as a regular segment with liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.
Bozell claims Brooks' main goal is to "please his bosses at the New York Times – and let’s not forget his check-signers at NPR and PBS." Never mind that Bozell is doing the same thing to his MRC donors by railing against Brooks.
Bozell concludes by huffing:
Anyone who wonders why conservatives and Republicans are so disgusted with the tilt of public broadcasting (and its sedate, self-satisfied civility) should begin with the notion that David Brooks is “balance.” If liberals weren’t cowards who feared losing TV debates, they’d hire a real conservative to engage in some serious Friday night discussions on PBS and NPR.
That's a tactic Bozell himself is not eager to embrace. His regular appearances on Fox News -- particularly his weekly slots on "Hannity" and "Fox & Friends" -- rarely include a liberal counterpoint to his right-wing rantings. When will Bozell allow someone to challenge him in person on Fox, or does his contract forbid such full debate?
AIM Wants Trump To Go Even More Birther Topic: Accuracy in Media
Carol A. Taber writes in an April 19 Accuracy in Media column about how much she approves of Donald Trump's raging birtherism, and says it's time to take the next step:
Trump has a spine, which is why he is gaining momentum and has pulled way ahead of the pack. Now we must convert that momentum into action. Instead of passing judgment about who is crazy or sane on the issues of the birth certificate and the Social Security number, we must ask Obama to show his hand, and we then must forensically test whatever he has, or he must fold. Forensics testing is not an outlandish idea; as distasteful as this analogy might be — a sordid affair vs. a serious Constitutional issue — forensics testing of a blue dress a few years ago revealed another set of lies of a young U.S. president, also attempting to defraud the public.
Because of the irregularities and unanswered questions outlined above, certainly the American people have a right to know whether the birth record that supposedly establishes the eligibility of their president is un-tampered with. And they also have a right to know whether the social security number that he has been using is genuinely his or stolen. Use of another person’s social security number is a felony.
Between this and Roger Aronoff's softball interview of Jack Cashill, it appears that AIM is fully aboard the Obama conspiracy crazy train.
WND Race-Baits Over McDonald's Beating Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has apparently decided to do a little weekend race-baiting.
WND's front page currently contains a link to a video -- the raw video, not news coverage of it -- of someone being beaten by a group of females. WND's headline: "Black-on-white beating inside McDonald's."
While there have been reports of an investigation of the incident as a hate crime, it turns out the real story may be more complicated. It appears that the beating victim was actually a transgender woman, and the beating was over bathroom use.
Given WND's hostility toward the transgendered, WND should be endorsing this beating, not going the racial route.
Cashill Still Thinks Christopher Andersen Proved Him Right Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his April 21 WorldNetDaily column, Jack Cashill peddles yet again his conspiracy theory that Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama's first book, calling on his usual source for backup:
The reader need not take my word for this. Christopher Andersen, in his 2009 book, "Barack and Michele: Portrait of an American Marriage," makes the same case based on interviews with Obama's friends in Chicago, quite possibly with Ayers himself.
A celebrity biographer with impeccable mainstream credentials, Andersen argues that, at "Michelle's urging," a "hopelessly blocked" Obama "sought advice from his friend and Hyde Park neighbor Bill Ayers."
What attracted the Obamas were "Ayers' proven abilities as a writer." Noting that Obama had already taped interviews with many of his relatives, Andersen elaborates, "These oral histories, along with his partial manuscript and a trunkload of notes were given to Ayers."
As we've previously detailed, this is circular logic -- Andersen's book on the Obamas cites Cashill as part of his backup for his claims about Obama's "Dreams From My Father." Further, Andersen himself backed away from Cashill's theory in a CNN interview during which he explicitly said, "I definitely do not say he [Ayers] wrote Barack Obama's book."
If Cashill is going to continue to blatantly misrepresent what Andersen has said and wrote, why believe anything else he has to say?
WND's Corsi Lies About Obama's Record on Immigration Topic: WorldNetDaily
Jerome Corsi falsely asserts in an April 17 WorldNetDaily article that President Obama "has resisted any and all measures to secure the U.S. border with Mexico."
That is a complete lie. In fact, the Associated Press has reported that "the U.S.-Mexico border is more fortified now than it was even five years ago. Far more agents patrol it, more fences, barriers and technology protect it and taxpayers are spending billions more to reinforce it." The AP also reported that "Obama's administration has moved immigration investigators to the border and begun inspecting southbound train cargo to help stem cash and weapons flowing to Mexican drug cartels."
Further, USA Today reported that a joint operation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies that launched in September 2009 "has resulted in the arrest of 270,000 illegal border crossers, the seizure of 1.6 million pounds of marijuana and the recovery of $13 million in cash in the border's Tucson Sector."
Corsi went to claim that Obama's purported lack of border enforcement can be traced to "the Democratic Party's expectation that the surge in Hispanic population will represent an electoral advantage for Democratic candidates seeking public office." Corsi offers no evidence to back up this claim.
If Corsi can lie so casually and blatantly, why trust anything he has to say in his upcoming Obama-bashing birther book?
Farah To Appear On Fox; Lack Of Principles All Around Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah has loved to complain that he can't get on Fox News because of his birther proclivities and other WND escapades -- but he has also complained that one investor in Fox News' owner is a Saudi prince, and he does not take the principled stand of forbidding WND employees from appearing as a protest against such involvement.
Anyway, Farah will appear on Fox Business tonight -- his first appearance on a Fox News network in quite some time and, as Media Matters points out, evidence that Fox News no longer his standards prohibiting birthers on its networks.
So we have a network without principles inviting a guest without principles. Sounds like a match made in heaven.
Newsmax Fawns Even More Over Trump, If That's Possible Topic: Newsmax
Now that Newsmax has finally admitted the obvious-to-everyone fact that it's working with Donald Trump to promote his presidential ambitions, it just keeps sliding further and further into the tank for the guy.
In an April 20 column, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy is a big, slobbering wet kiss to Trump. He complained that it was "unfair" for news organization to examine "every little company that Trump has been associated with that had a lawsuit, bankruptcy, or other problem" because it ignores "Trump’s fantastic business success that has yielded him a multibillion-dollar net worth."
Ruddy then asserts, "Make no mistake about it — Donald Trump is the real McCoy. ... Trump holds a reputation as a pragmatic man who gets things done. He is also politically savvy — as he is demonstrating with a remarkable rise in GOP polls."
Despite his fawning prose, Ruddy insists, "Newsmax has not endorsed any GOP candidate — including Trump — for president. We are giving all of these candidates a platform to talk to our readers about the big issues facing us."
But Newsmax his done much more for Trump than give him a platform: Led by fluffer-in-chief Ronald Kessler, it has actively promoted the idea of him as president.
That PR-style promotion appears to be rewarded with closer-than-usual access to Trump. That is obvious in an April 21 article by Jim Meyers that furthers Trump's side of the story in his feud with Karl Rove.
Meyers cites an anonymous "Newsmax source" who attended a meeting Trump had with "about a half-dozen heavyweight Republican donors in Manhattan — largely hedge-fund guys — about his political ambitions," during which he "spent the first 10 minutes talking not about Obama but rather, about Rove, angrily referring to him several times as 'the loser' and the man who’s destroying the Republican Party." Meyers also noted that Trump "donated mega-bucks to Rove’s political committees last year."
So who was that mysterious "Newsmax source"? For all we know, it may be Trump himself. It's clear that this story was written with the aid of Team Trump, and it's unlikely to have run at all if Trump hadn't signed off on it beforehand.
Has Newsmax given this extensive of a "platform" to any other Republican presidential candidate? Not that we've seen. Ruddy -- who has not devoted any significant writing, let alone an entire column, to any other potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate besides Trump -- should stop the pretensse that it hasn't taken sides when it clearly has.
Setting Joseph Farah Straight Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah April 18 WorldNetDaily column is a rebuttal to a Media Matters detailing various birther myths and falsehoods. Despite Farah's claim to be "setting Media Matters straight," Farah perpetuates deceptions and misleading claims that hide the actual truth.
Farah asserts that the birth certificate Obama's campaign released "would likely not have been sufficient proof to get the young Obama signed up in Little League, if he had been living in Hawaii rather than Indonesia at the time of his eligibility for competitive sports." In fact, as FactCheck.org points out, that certificate is good enough for the State Department in satisfying legal requirements for proving citizenship and obtaining a passport.
Farah then claims that "This is a document that Hawaii has routinely handed out to register births occurring elsewhere, even out of the country, on the basis of an affidavit filed by a parent or grandparent." In fact, the right-wing organization Farah founded, the Western Journalism Center, reported that Hawaii does not provide birth certificates that say children born out of state were born in Hawaii or at a specific location in Hawaii.
Farah then dissembles on the grandmother stuff:
In a recorded interview Oct. 16, 2008, Sarah Hussein Obama does indeed seem to suggest he was. While it is true her translators insist repeatedly that she was mistaken, insisting he was born in Hawaii, the grandmother herself is clearly heard to say "Mombasa." It's hardly conclusive evidence of anything, but it is of some interest given the highly unlikely scenario that the grandmother traveled to Hawaii to witness the birth of a grandson to an American woman, when her financially struggling son, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., had already produced offspring with a Kenyan wife.
In fact, people who have listened to the tape issued by Obama-hating pastor Ron McRae, like FactCheck.org, have reported:
[I]t was McRae — not Sarah Obama — who said the future president was born in Kenya. McRae’s leading questions were relayed to her through a translator, since she spoke in her native Luo language, not English. Later, the part of the conversation that Berg omitted was revealed. And it makes clear that Sarah Obama misunderstood McRae at first, and tried repeatedly to correct McRae’s misunderstanding, saying emphatically: "He was born in America!"
Farah rebuts Media Matters' pointing out that WND peddled a fraudulent Kenyan birth certificate as real by asserting, "To the contrary, WND was the first news agency to proclaim the alleged Kenyan birth certificate produced by Orly Taitz as 'probably not authentic.'" Farah is being disingenous; the disavowal came only after several days of presenting it as real, even claiming that "WND was able to obtain other birth certificates from Kenya for purposes of comparison, and the form of the documents appear to be identical" -- which contradicted WND's later claim that "WND obtained several samples of Kenyan birth certificates in use around Aug. 4, 1961, the date of Obama's birth, showing differences" from the certificate it suggested was real. Farah has not explained that contradiction, nor has he explained why he published a "birth certificate" he couldn't bother to authenticate beforehand.
Farah also take refuge in the eligibility argument: "But if his father was a Kenyan visiting student, as Obama claims, and his mother was Stanley Ann Dunham, it's doubtful either of his parents were in a position to confer even run-of-the-mill U.S. citizenship on their son – he because of foreign citizenship and she because of her age." That relies on a definition of "natural born citizen" that requires both parents be citizens -- a definition no modern U.S. court has validated. Further, the idea that Obama's mother could not confer citizenship upon him because of her age at birth is important only if Obama was not born in the United States. There are no age requirements for conferring citizenship on a child born in the U.S. to an American citizen; indeed, current interpretation of the 14th Amendment is that a child born in the U.S. is an American citizen regardless of the citizenship status of his parents.
Farah probably knows all of this. He simply chooses to deceive and mislead about the facts in order to further his anti-Obama agenda. And he thinks he's setting others "straight" on the birther issue?
(Disclaimer: I'm employed by Media Matters, but it has no editorial control over ConWebWatch.)
Bozell's New Group Acting With Malicious Intent Topic: Media Research Center
Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell has been quietly building a political action group on the side. Called For America, it claims to be "a non-profit 501(c)4 organized to educate Americans about traditional and contemporary American values, to relentlessly fight the growth of government, to oppose any substitute to freedom and self-government, to promote individual liberty and excellence, to promote economic opportunity, and to move America toward her founding principles."
For America launched its first major public action -- a malicious one. During President Obama's Facebook town hall, For America directed its followers to overwhelm the Facebook page hosting it by repeatedly posting a message to "repeal Obamacare," which caused the page to crash and make it unavailable for actual participants.
Bozell and his group are proud of their malicious prank. From the Daily Caller:
“As the comments grew on the town hall page we marveled at the speed and volume of posts from ForAmerica supporters,” said Bozell. “Within a few minutes, the town hall page was taken down and labeled ‘unavailable,’ and it was down for at least 39 minutes. When it was restored no new comments were allowed for several more minutes. We are only beginning to see the untapped power of this growing, formidable online army.”
According to Greg Mueller, an adviser for the group, “ForAmerica has amassed a very active and engaged online conservative army that engaged in a Facebook bracketing operation. The Obama folks have proven they are very good at new media, but there’s a new team in the game. We overloaded it with comments from that grassroots operation, which we believe disrupted the site for close to 40 minutes.”
The group urged supporters to post their own messages, but a number of people used their recommended language, which was “It’s not a tough choice, Mr. President. You have added $3.5 TRILLION to the debt already, the first thing we should do is repeal Obamacare!”
You did it ForAmerica! Did you hear?! ABC News, LA Times and other media reports show how ForAmerica FB fans crashed Obama's Facebook Townhall page today. Read it for yourself! Not to shabby for a days work! Congrats and thank you for getting involved!
Bozell's CNSNews.com even promoted the malicious prank in an April 21 article by Fred Lucas, noting that it asked questions of Facebook but not that informed Facebook that CNS is run by the same guy who deliberately tried to crash their website.
So it seems Bozell is no longer satisfied with his shoddy brand of "media research" -- he's moving on to intentionally destructive attacks on the president of the United States.
Can we stop taking him seriously as a so-called media analyst now?
UPDATE: Americablog raises questions about the For America/Daily Caller version of events, points out that you really can't crash a single Facebook page through the de facto denial-of-service attack For America claims it launched. The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis responds by stating he only reported what he was told.
Regardless of what actually happened, the fact that For America is taking pride in its claimed disruption of Obama's town hall is sufficient evidence of the group's malicious intent.
WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh keeps up his history of misleading about a gun violation in an April 19 article on the violator's release from prison.
Unruh writes that David Olofson "has been released from his 30-month prison term to begin rebuilding his life," quoting only a defense of Olofson from the right-wing group Gun Owners of America, who claimed that Olofson's conviction of "knowingly transferring an unregistered machine gun – a gun which fired a burst and jammed" was a "gross miscarriage of justice" because "Gun owners call that a malfunction." Unruh adds that Olofson is "an information technology professional with a wife and three children" and added further defense of Olofon from his lawyer.
As he repeatedlyhasbefore, Unruh refuses to tell his readers the full story of Olofson's conviction, focusing only on his defense that a gun he had loaned to a prospective buyer that fired "several bursts of multiple rounds" was merely malfunctioning and was not a fully automatic weapon.
Unruh claimed that "ATF officials have declined to speak with WND on the record," but he could have easily gotten the prosecution's case from other sources, such as this May 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article:
U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert said Olofson knew or should have known the gun in question fired automatically.
"This was a man who has considerable knowledge of weapons, considerable knowledge of machine guns," Clevert said. "Mr. Olofson, in this court's view, has shown he was ignoring the law."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Haanstad noted that Olofson had two previous gun-related convictions, including carrying a concealed weapon with his children trick-or-treating. He also noted that Olofson was reprimanded for corrupting Army computers and perhaps providing militia groups access to sensitive information.
People can legally own fully automatic, military-type M-16 rifles, but they must have a federal license and cannot transfer it to someone else.
According to court records, Kiernicki turned the rifle's firing selector to the third position, pulled the trigger, and three bullets fired with each pull. Then the weapon jammed. The automatic gunfire was reported to police, who contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Kiernicki testified Olofson told him the third position was for automatic firing, but it jammed, court records indicate. He also testified Olofson told him he had fired the weapon on the automatic setting at that same range without a problem, according to the records.
Clevert said the key was not what parts were in the weapon but whether it operated in automatic mode. He played a video used at trial showing ATF agents firing Olofson's weapon in automatic mode. He also noted that in one ATF test, the rifle didn't fire automatically when military-grade ammunition was used.
Haanstad said Olofson had provided weapons and ammunition to so many people he couldn't keep track. A search of his home turned up books on converting rifles to fully automatic, and e-mail on his computer showed he bought M-16 parts, records show.
Olofson had contact with vigilante groups and professed to be part of the sovereign movement, which doesn't acknowledge federal laws as applying to them, Haanstad said.
Unruh has demonstrated himself once again to be a lazy, biased reporter. But you knew that already.