Today's MRC Spin Point Topic: Media Research Center
A levee being overtopped and a levee being breached are two distinct and unrelated events:
-- "[NBC's] Lisa Myers, however, recognized the meaning of words and how water flowing over a levee, topping it, is not the same thing as a breaching, the collapse of a levee, which is what occurred." -- Brent Baker, NewsBusters, March 3, repeated in an MRC CyberAlert
-- "[Fox News anchor Brit] Hume set up the discussion by referring to the difference between “breaching,” when a levee fails and what Bush said in an interview was not anticipated, and 'topping,' when some water goes over a levee which remains intact, of which the National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield had raised as a possibility." -- Brent Baker, NewsBusters, March 2, repeated in a March 3 CyberAlert
-- "On the Thursday March 2 Countdown show, Olbermann ran a story by NBC's Lisa Myers, which had already run earlier on the NBC Nightly News, in which Myers played a clip of meteorologist Maxfield warning administration officials that flood waters from Katrina posed a risk of the levees being 'topped,' which Myers accurately distinguished from a 'breach' through further discussion with Mayfield." Brad Wilmouth, NewsBusters, March 2, repeated in a March 3 CyberAlert
-- "There’s no getting around it. Chris Matthews hears what he wants to hear even when the facts are right in front of him. After showing the video of President Bush being briefed by Max Mayfield saying: "I don’t think anybody can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that’s obviously a very, very grave concern," Matthews took that as evidence that Bush lied when he said no one anticipated the breach of the levees." Geoffrey Dickens, NewsBusters, March 2, repeated in March 3 CyberAlert
-- "Critics of the Bush administration have promoted video of an Aug. 28, 2005, teleconference between emergency management officials and the president as proof that the White House was warned that levees around New Orleans would likely fail against Hurricane Katrina. But a closer examination of the recording and transcript shows no mention that the Crescent City's levees would be breached. ... Further comparison of the video to the transcript by Cybercast News Service indicates that Mayfield's quote, which was not transcribed accurately, came from a discussion of the possibility that water from Katrina's storm surge might flow over the tops of the levees, not that the levees might fail." -- Jeff Johnson, CNSNews.com, March 3
In fact, a topped levee is generally a precursor to that levee being breached:
-- "The likely locations and impact of levee overtopping must be addressed. This is a particularly difficult task, because the hydraulics problem created by levee overtopping is a multi-dimensional, unsteady flow problem. Further, when a levee is overtopped, it may breach, so complete analysis also includes the components of a dam-failure analysis." -- Army Corps of Engineers
-- "According to preliminary information from NSF, ASCE, and LSU, most of the levees and floodwall breaches on the east side of New Orleans were caused by overtopping, as the storm surge rose over the tops of the levees and/or their floodwalls and produced erosion that subsequently led to breaches." -- House Select Committee on Katrina
New Article: The Clinton Equivocation Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax has mastered the art of deflecting bad news about the Bush administration and conservatives by claiming that the Clintons did it first and worse. Read more.
Cashill Joins WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
So Jack Cashill will be writing a weekly column for WorldNetDaily. He might want to use one of those columns to explain why he wrote a seven-part series for WND portraying admitted abortion-doctor killer James Kopp as an innocent man.
Press Release Journalism Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 2 WorldNetDaily article demonstrates once again WND's Achilles' heel: depending on press releases for news and lacking initiative to flesh out what the press release doesn't say (as WND has amply demonstrated with its "war on Christmas" coverage).
The WND article describes the arrest of an American, Peter Waldron, in Uganda. The article states that "family and friends" of Waldron call the charges against Waldron "trumped-up," but 1) nobody in the article is quoted as actually saying that, and 2) the only person quoted in the article is Waldron friend Dave Racer, whom WND admits "issued a press release on the arrest." That release, excerpted on Racer's website, is apparently where the "trumped-up" quote comes from. Thus, it appears that the article tells only what Racer wants told about Waldron.
For the rest of the story, we must go to blogger Robert Bartholomew, who points out that Waldron's theology "draws explicitly on Rousas Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism." Rushdoony's brand of conservatism mirrors the views of WND editor Joseph Farah, as we've noted.
We have no knowledge of or opinion about the validity of the charges against Waldron. We do know that while WND's reporting on the issue (if you call rewriting a press release "reporting") has been outclassed by a blogger with fewer resources.
Indignant Editing Topic: Newsmax
In his March 2 review of David Horowitz's professor-bashing book, NewsMax's Phil Brennan selectively quotes a Time magazine article that called Horowitz "a clear and ruthless thinker. What he says has an indignant sanity about it."
Brennan leaves out the first part of the quote, which reads: "Horowitz is angry and polemical."
NewsBusters Dishonestly Attacks Poll Topic: NewsBusters
Two Feb. 28 NewsBusters posts referencing a CBS News poll showing record-low approval ratings for President Bush, by Brent Baker and Rich Noyes (Baker's post was repeated as a CyberAlert item), both make a big deal of how the poll, in Noyes' words, "sampled a much higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans" and implied that this was yet another example of liberal bias. Did it ever occur to Baker and Noyes why CBS would have a reason for doing a poll with that particular sampling other than its purported political bias?
Apparently not. The answer to why CBS did the poll the way they did comes to us from another MRC division, CNSNews.com, which published a March 1 column by Republican strategist Rich Galen that noted the following:
CBS had a sample of 1,018 respondents which they weighted to reflect 28 percent Republicans; 37% Democrats; and 34% Independents. Not likely voters, but adults in the American population.
In the general population, those who claim to be Democrats outweigh those who claim to be Republicans by 7 to 9 percentage points.
In other words, a poll that sampled an equal number of Republicans and Democrats would not be an accurate reflection of the general population. Any chance Baker and Noyes will impart that information to its readers? Don't count on it.
The New Meme Topic: NewsBusters
A March 1 NewsBusters post by Rich Noyes (which we somehow suspect will end up in tomorrow's CyberAlert) firms up the current dishonest MRC meme -- that the "liberal media" is responsible for speculation about civil war in Iraq.
Somehow, Noyes neglects to mention the fact that Fox News has done its share of civil war speculation -- even suggesting that it would be "a good thing" -- and MRC division CNSNews.com ran a Feb. 28 commentary by Daniel Pipes appearing to root for one.
NewsMax Headline Bias Alert Topic: Newsmax
An Associated Press article posted March 1 at NewsMax (but curiously carrying a March 2 date) boasts the headline "Senate Weakens USA Patriot Act." But the word "weaken" does not appear anywhere in the article. In fact, the article states that the law's revisions add "new protections for people targeted by government investigations." Additionally, the article notes that critics of the revised law "insisted the new protections were cosmetic."
Quote of the Day Topic: Newsmax
Throwing his hat in the ring for Slantie candidacy is NewsMax columnist Barrett Kalellis, who writes in a Feb. 28 column purporting to explain "What Straights Think About Gays":
But that gets to the heart of the question. As a hetero, how can I identify with this situation [of the central relationship conflict in the gay-cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain]? More importantly, why would I want to? I care no more about the love life of homosexuals than I do about the mating habits of aardvarks or why female praying mantises bite the heads off their male suitors. While these may be interesting as points of study, they have no relevance to my life.
Selective Outrage on Rooting for Iraq Civil War Topic: NewsBusters
In a March 1 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein asks, "Is Chris Matthews rooting for civil war in Iraq? It's hard to interpret his words otherwise." He adds that Matthews was "hoping for the worst."
But Finkelstein ignores that folks such as Fox News (which asked "All-Out Civil War in Iraq: Could It Be a Good Thing?") and conservative-leaning Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes (in a Feb 28 commentary at NewsBusters sister site CNSNews.com) are also apparently rooting for an Iraq civil war. Pipes claims that an Iraq civil war "would be a humanitarian tragedy but not a strategic one," noting that it would "[r]educe coalition casualties in Iraq" and "[r]educe Western casualties outside Iraq."
Sexpidemic!: The Sequel Topic: WorldNetDaily
You knew it was coming: an issue of WorldNetDaily's Whistleblower magazine dedicated to a purported epidemic of teacher-student sex. Sadly, WND doesn't use the "sexpidemic" word they stuck on previous articles on the topic; rather, it's called "Predators."
Citing a "seemingly endless stream of reports of female school teachers having sex with their underage male students" in a March 1 promo article, WND claims that "a recent, federally funded study concludes the problem of school teachers molesting students dwarfs in magnitude the clergy sex-abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church." The article later elaborates in a way that undercuts the claim: "ccording to a major 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education – by far the most in-depth investigation to date – millions of children might be victims of sexual misconduct by teachers or other public school employees." (Italics ours.)
Presumably, the magazine will reproduce WND's list of alleged teacher-student sex offenses -- which, as we've previously explained, was lifted from a gossip website and includes cases at least 15 years old. And, presumably, WND will not explain why it focuses only on female teacher-male student sex.
And it's probably also safe to presume that WND will offer no more evidence that this is any more of a problem than the alleged "war on Christmas" -- which, as we've documented, was largely generated by press releases from conservative legal organizations that outlets such as WND cheerfully regurgitated.
ConWeb Splits on Port Deal Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb's opinions on the Dubai Ports World deal to operate at six U.S. ports has splintered.
NewsMax, after some initial ambiguity and despite individual columnists agitating against it (such as Geoff Metcalf and John LeBoutillier), is coming out for the deal. NewsMax's position was apparently solidified when Rush Limbaugh came out in favor of the deal, as described in a Feb. 27 article. Having thus received its marching orders, NewsMax is engaging in its usual tactics, like a Feb. 28 article highlighting a talking head claiming that Dubai Ports World will operate only nine of the 300 U.S. port terminals, adding, "Only in the American press does a 3 percent share of operations constitute 'taking control.'"
The Media Research Center hasn't picked an apparent direction as a whole, but its NewsBusters bloggers appear to be leaning toward supporting the deal, with posts such as highlighting CNN's Lou Dobbs' claim that DPW is trying to silence him, a false claim by Noel Sheppard that the "Antique Media and the Left" are the only ones who care about the issue and a lecture from Sheppard claiming that because "there have now been numerous revelations about who actually controls security at these ports regardless of the management, it might have been beneficial for all concerned if [Associated Press reporter Ted] Bridis [who did some early reporting on the issue] had done a little more research on this subject in order to impart a more accurate reflection of the facts that was less inflammatory."
Refuting Sheppard's claim about the "Antique Media and the Left" is WorldNetDaily, which has been highly critical of the deal. Between Les Kinsolving pointing out the UAE's links to the 9/11 terrorists to citing a conservative poll to Joseph Farah denouncing President Bush as either "tone deaf or brain dead" (but will Farah denounce his ol' buddy Rush for supporting it?) to Jerome Corsi listing presidential brother Neil Bush's links to the UAE (though we don't recall Neil Bush's past peccadilloes being considered newsworthy by WND before), WND has made its opposition quite clear.
The Evil Marketing of 'The Marketing of Evil' Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 28 WorldNetDaily article promoting WND managing editor David Kupelian's book "The Marketing of Evil" -- which cited excerpts from "hate mail" he claims to have received -- Kupelian is quoted as saying that "what's so interesting about all this hate mail is that to date, no one has actually identified a single factual error in 'The Marketing of Evil.' All they can do is get upset and call me a Nazi or a devil or Ann Coulter. But they can't point to where I'm wrong." (Italics his.)
That's because Kupelian's book isn't about facts; it's about assertions and conclusions, which are opinion and therefore not objectively true or not true. For Kupelian to claim that there have been no identified factual errors in the book is disingenous because that's not the point of the book.
The article also employs another disingenous technique -- quoting only the most extreme examples of criticism of Kupelian to present them as representative of all criticism. WND has done this before in regard to Kupelian's book, as we've noted. We've critiqued a Kupelian essay that later appeared in his book, and the fact that we did not suggest that he burn in hell or resort to similar inflammatory rhetoric would presumably warrant a response from Kupelian -- yet we've heard nothing. (Anytime you're ready, David, just drop us a line.)
Isn't using such disingenuous techniques to market Kupelian's book just as evil as what Kupelian writes about?