Bruce Rheinstein wrote to inform us that he is not NewsBusters contributor Mithridate Ombud, as we claimed in a recent article. The article has been corrected accordingly.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Monday, February 20, 2006
'Purported' DeLay-Abramoff Ties?
A Feb. 18 NewsMax article by Dave Eberhart on a pro-TomDeLay TV ad that also attacks liberal philanthropist George Soros claims the ad was a counter to an ad "that focused on purported ties between DeLay and fallen super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff." Later in the article, Eberhart writes: "That ad featured purported information about the connections between DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges."
If, to Eberhart, "purported" means "solidly documented," then, yeah.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
A Little Insight
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Tim Graham published a guest post on the CBS News Public Eye blog that offers, according to Graham's promotion of it on NewsBusters, "a small sense of how we answer the questions and critiques we've received over the almost 20 years the MRC has been taping and transcribing and exposing." But it raises a few more questions about the MRC's methods.
Graham makes a surprising admission: that "the great majority of what we watch and read is not noticeably unfair or inaccurate." So taken to its next logical point, this means that the media is not so rife with liberal bias as Graham and his co-workers would have you believe.
Yet, this doesn't stop Graham from making broad overgeneralizations about the media. The most egregious one is the assumption that everyone who works in the media is as liberal and as activist as liberal activist Danny Schechter:
The Danny Schechters of the world, weaned on sixties radicalism, have the network resumes. He’s worked at ABC, at CNN, and made documentaries and series for PBS. Most of us as young conservative journalists never considered sending a resume to these outlets.
This analogy would make a little more sense if Graham could serve up examples of demonstrated bias on the part of Schechter while a network employee. And Schechter's "documentaries and series for PBS" may not even be classifed as news.
Even though the facts don't support the "liberal media bias" meme, Graham supports it anyway. This gives us a little more than a "small sense" of how the MRC operates.
(Full disclosure: I work for that other media research group, Media Matters; I also have a (bad) link to Schechter's MediaChannel.org on the ConWebWatch front page but no other connection to Schechter.)
Repeating a False Claim
Topic: The ConWeb
Via Atrios, we learn that the New York Times issued a correction for its repeating of a claim in Kate O'Bierne's feminist-bashing book "Women Who Make the World Worse" that feminist professor Catharine MacKinnon said that "All heterosexual intercourse is rape." As the Times and Snopes point out, MacKinnon has denied saying that, and it's a statement repeated by conservatives to discredit her.
This sounds like the sort of thing that the anti-feminist ConWeb would be eagerly repeating. So we checked and found the following examples of this trope:
-- Glenn Sacks repeats the claim in a Nov. 6, 2001 CNSNews.com column. (We also found a bizarre March 3, 1999 "humor" item by David Burge imagining MacKinnon as a stripper at a "feminist" strip club to benefit President Clinton's legal defense fund.)
-- A Jan. 28, 2001, WorldNetDaily article by Julie Foster claims that MacKinnon "argues that male sexual desire can be compared to rape -- whether women consent to sex or not."
-- David Kupelian repeats the claim in a Sept. 15, 2003, article claiming that MacKinnon "in her recent book compares male sexual desire to rape – whether women consent to sex or not." Kupelian repeats it again in an April 7, 2005, article.
Dubious Paternity Fraud Claim
A Feb. 18 WorldNetDaily article makes claims about paternity fraud that the evidence it cites doesn't support.
The unbylined article claims that "one state that examined the problem found as many as 30 percent of those paying child support were, indeed, not the biological fathers of the children being supported," later citing a "comprehensive study" by the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Men.
But the commission's November 2005 report doesn't study paternity fraud. Discussion of paternity fraud takes up roughly half a page in the 43-page report (on page 22) ; the bulk of the report looks at other fatherhood-related issues and male victims of domestic violence. Rather than a "comprehensive study," the report merely cites claims from "The Blood Bank Association, and Lee Newman, administrator of Safe-NH" as well as "Carnell Smith, a paternity fraud expert who administers http://www.paternityfraud.com."
Safe-NH is a New Hampshire-based group that appears to have as its main purpose increasing the profile of domestic abuse against men. According to its search engine, the only reference to "paternity" on its website is a link to a website called PaternityFraudDNA, which has a page that claims: "Year after year the Blood Bank Association of America reports that about 30% of paternity tests they conducted were negative, almost one out of three!"
Additionally, there appears to be no such thing as the "Blood Bank Association of America" or, as the New Hampshire study stated, the "Blood Bank Association"; there is something called the American Association of Blood Banks, but no freely available information there (some content is behind a subscription wall) offers information about paternity test results.
In other words, the New Hampshire report is repeating secondhand statistics from people and organizations with a bias on the issue.
In addition to being secondhand, the statistic is likely not representative of all child custody/support cases. It is logical to presume that paternity tests are conducted only in cases where paternity has become an issue, and that because there is a dispute, there is likely to be a significant number of negative results. Applying this subgroup to all child custody/support cases -- as WND does with the subhead "30% of those named as fathers bilked of child support unjustly" -- ignores what is likely the majority of cases where paternity is not in dispute.
WND is jumping on the bandwagon of something that may not even be that much of an issue.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Aaron Klein Whitewash Watch
We've lost count of the number of times he has done this, but WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein once again references Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs without mentioning the 1994 massacre of Arabs there by Baruch Goldstein, an acolyte of the Kahane extremists whose history Klein loves to whitewash.
A Feb. 17 NewsMax article regurgitates a Washington Times article claiming that "Democrats have taken nearly 10 percent more in campaign contributions from lobbyists than Republicans since 1990," claiming that this "deflates Democratic claims that Republicans have created a 'culture of corruption' in Congress."
Actually, this claim deflates nothing. Unless NewsMax and the WashTimes can demonstrate that lobbyist money given to Democrats in 1990 was as tainted with quid pro quo as Jack Abramoff's donations to Republicans, this statistic is irrelevant and meaningless.
An Expanded Challenge to WND
A Feb. 17 WorldNetDaily article making a plea for donations to WND's legal defense fund again cites unsupported assertions regarding a libel lawsuit filed against WND by Clark Jones, a supporter of Al Gore. The headline derogatorily calls Jones a Gore "crony" -- an assertion repeated in a quote by WND managing editor David Kupelian, who refers to "fighting Al Gore's cronies in court" -- and repeated WND editor Joseph Farah's baseless assertion that "Understand that this lawsuit would be dropped in a flat second if Al Gore wanted it to be dropped. ... Understand also that WND did nothing wrong and libeled no one in the publication of this exhaustive series." The article also claims that WND has defended itself from the lawsuit "at great cost."
So we will expand our challenge to Farah and WND to demonstrate full transparency regarding the Jones lawsuit. Not only do we challenge WND to display all legal documents filed in the case on the WND website, we challenge it to open its books to show the costs of defending itself as well as a complete list of donations to the legal defense fund so that WND's donors can be assured that the money is going where WND says it is.
Waddaya say, guys?
Bozell's Fake Outrage
Topic: Media Research Center
The MRC's Brent Bozell has condemned Bryant Gumbel's statement on HBO's "Real Sports" that the Winter Olympics has "a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention." Saying that "Gumbel’s remarks reek of racism and arrogance,” Bozell added:
What if Gumbel had said ‘a paucity of whites makes the NBA look like a Democratic convention?’ Rush Limbaugh was roundly denounced by the media when he made allegedly racist remarks about a football player. So where are the media condemnations now against Gumbel?
Bozell's criticism is cynical and meaningless because he defended Limbaugh's 2003 remark that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was getting a free pass because "the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." In an Oct. 3, 2003, column -- in which he mis-paraphrases Limbaugh by saying that "liberal sports reporters are blinded by a desire to see a black quarterback succeed"; Limbaugh said "the media" but didn't narrow it down any further at the time of his remarks -- Bozell said that Limbaugh was correct and that he was getting a bum rap for being a racist:
There are countless examples – we’ve all heard them – of commentators, columnists, and editorial writers agitating for more black coaches and quarterbacks in the NFL.
If Bozell doesn't think Limbaugh was being racist, then he has no basis for asserting Gumbel is racist. And anyway, how does he know Gumbel wasn't joking? That defense seems to work for Ann Coulter, and MRC has raised no known objection to any of her inflammatory remarks.
Here's the MRC spin on the Dick Cheney-Brit Hume interview, as described in a Feb. 16 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker (and repeated in a Feb. 16 CyberAlert): Other journalists are jealous that Hume got the interview, so they're taking shots at the "integrity" of Hume and Fox News (never mind that there's copious evidence of the conservative-friendly slant of both Hume and Fox News).
Baker also implies further anti-Fox bias because some broadcast networks cropped video cliips to hide the Fox News logo (though they did credit Fox News with a line of text). Baker should demonstrate that this practice applies only to Fox News clips before suggesting bias. Or jealousy.
UPDATE: Added Media Matters links to articles showing Hume's and Fox News' conservative bias.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Show Your Work, WND
WorldNetDaily is putting its inimitable spin on Dick Cheney shooting a hunting companion. A Feb. 15 article by Joe Kovacs reports on a song by Jill Sobule that, in Kovacs' words, suggests that "the vice president was hunting with a male companion as part of a homosexual love story."
Kovacs also lists what he calls "[o]nline reaction from those who have heard the song," but doesn't say where this reaction came from. Aren't journalists supposed to tell readers where they get their information from?
Yes, they are. But then again, Kovacs pulled information for a previous article on teacher-student sex from a gossip site.
And then again, too -- as we've repeatedly established -- WND isn't exactly journalism.
Farah vs. Gore, The Next Round
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah has penned yet another column hatin' on Al Gore. At the end of it, he adds an "important postscript" about the libel lawsuit filed against WND by Gore supporters over a Gore-bashing series WND ran before the 2000 election. Farah again makes the following claim:
Understand that this lawsuit would be dropped in a flat second if Al Gore wanted it to be dropped. Understand also that WND did nothing wrong and libeled no one in the publication of this exhaustive series.
But as we previously noted, Farah has never offered any objective evidence to back up either of those claims, nor has WND offered any unfiltered evidence from this lawsuit.
Our previous challenge still stands: Since very few of WorldNetDaily's readers have access to the court records of Hardin County, Tennessee, where the lawsuit was filed (and where we assume it still resides), WND should prove that it has aspirations beyond promoting its editor's worldview (or is it a grudge?) and post all court filings in the case -- not just the ones that make WND look good or Gore look bad -- on the WorldNetDaily website. This way, readers can judge for themselves how ethically WND behaved or whether Gore (or, more accurately, Clark Jones, the guy who filed the lawsuit and claims he was libeled) has a case.
How about it, Mr. Farah?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Cliff Kincaid's Fact-Free Criticism
Topic: Accuracy in Media
A Feb. 15 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid declares that former Rep. Bob Barr is not a true conservative because he has been caught consorting with the likes of MoveOn, Al Gore and the ACLU in criticizing the NSA's domestic spying program. But never once does Kincaid defend the program.
That's because Kincaid was off making unsupported allegations elsewhere in his column. He wrote that "the ACLU favors the legalization of the possession and distribution of child pornography, as well as the legalization of dangerous drugs." Proof, please?
Then, Kincaid launched into another defense of Steven Hatfill, the "person of interest" suspected but never charged in the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. While Kincaid insists that Hatfill "is a patriot who believes in fighting the war on terrorism," it's worth noting that neither Kincaid nor anyone else at AIM has seriously addressed the fact that Hatfill has a history of associating with right-wing racist militants in South Africa (beyond whitewashing the connection as "politically incorrect").
P.S.: CJR Daily notes another recent example of Kincaid's inaccuracies.
CNS Smears Union Workers
A Feb. 14 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones suggested that unionized hotel workers are lazy and unambitious. The lead of Jones' article:
Instead of looking for better jobs or job training, the nation's hotel workers are seeking more money and better benefits from the jobs they already have with the world's big hotel chains.
Jones offers no evidence that working in a hotel is a necessarily transient position or so awful that a "better jobs or job training" is preferable.
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