Compare and Contrast Topic: NewsBusters
"There was more good news about the economy today. The Conference Board announced that consumer confidence is now at its highest level since May 2002. Yet, on Tuesday’s 'Hardball,' host Chris Matthews just couldn’t admit on television – with people watching – that the economy is actually doing well. Instead, he stuttered, stammered, and referred to the current economic condition as 'not terrible.'" -- Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, March 29
"Matthews made his comments in response to guest Ron Christie -- a former special assistant to President Bush and former policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney -- who asked: "When do you ever hear people in the media come out and say the economy is strong in this country?" Christie later continued: '[W]hy doesn't the media, why don't we sit and have a conversation on Hardball and say, "Let's talk about some of the good things [about the economy]"?' As an example of the 'good news" reported on MSNBC and Hardball, Matthews stated: "Every single night on this network, we produce on the half-hour, the latest stock averages. We show Nasdaq's doing well and Dow's [Industrial Average] doing well and the economy's doing well. We don't produce bad news on this show.'" -- Media Matters, March 22
Update Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've updated our examination of WorldNetDaily's biased coverage of the Israeli elections to add Aaron Klein's reports from yesterday. Today, Klein pens another article; again, he downplays Kadima's win as "a slim majority," despite the fact that Kadima won approximately eight more Knesset seats (out of 120) than the second-place party.
As he did yesterday, Klein repeats the claim "Israeli government coalitions ruled by a leading party with less than 40 seats – which is now the case with Kadima – tend to be unstable and short-lived" but doesn't include the context that no Israeli party has ever won a majority and ruling coalitions have always been formed.
And again, Klein puts his right-wing bias on display by regurgitating yet again the purportedly alarming prospect that Kadima will withdraw Israel from part of the West Bank, overlooking the fact that a decided minority of Israeli voters did not support the parties that oppose such a withdrawal. As Haaretz wrote: Center-Left 62-66 seats, Right 48-51.
As we noted in our update, Klein and WND are reporting what they want to see, not what is actually happening.
Less-Than-Wholeness, Part 3 Topic: WorldNetDaily
Diana Lynne's March 29 WorldNetDaily article on the Terri Schiavo case is a rehash of her (and the Schindler family's) smears against Michael Schiavo. Lynne makes no effort to tell Michael's side -- a longtime reluctance we've previously documented.
A note at the top of the article states that this article is "an excerpted speech delivered to the student body of North Greenville University in North Greenville, S.C.," by Lynne. Is it too much to expect someone who claims to be an editor for a news organization to tell a story fairly, especially to a group of impressionable college students? Apparently so.
Less-Than-Wholeness, Part 2 Topic: WorldNetDaily
In her second Schiavo commentary of the week, Diana Lynne continues her disingenous attack on Jon Eisenberg. Citing Eisenberg's claim that "For the religious Right, Terri Schiavo was a tool to be used," Lynne wrote: "In my column yesterday, I explained how the simple chronology of the Schiavo case proved the exact opposite – Terri Schiavo was a tool used by the liberal Left."
Well, no. As we noted last time, Lynne never denied nor disproved Eisenberg's claim; she has merely claimed that "right-to-die" forces were working on the Terri Schiavo before "right-to-life" forces got involved with it. Chronology does not disprove Eisenberg's claim; perhaps Lynne is playing that angle up to obscure that fact.
Additinally, Lynne has also not proved that the "liberal Left" was involved in the case. The ACLU is not "liberal Left," no matter how often Joseph Farah wants to believe it is; nor does Lynne offer any evidence that George Felos or any of the other "right-to-die" organizations that worked on Michael Schiavo's side are "liberal Left."
Lynne also tries to paint the entire push to add advance-directive statutes in every state as some vast left-wing conspiracy, but all she does is play guilt by association by throwing around the names of liberal bogeymen like George Soros and Bill Moyers. She never proves the allegedly inherent left-wingness of advance directives.
We also noticed that WND is still calling Lynne's book on the Schiavo case "comprehensive," which it isn't.
And again, Lynne fails to mention Randall Terry or Gary McCullough.
Smile-A-While Topic: WorldNetDaily
Your laugh of the day, courtesy of WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah's March 28 column:
Well, it just so happens that I did spend 30 years working in the old newspaper business when the standards of writing, reporting and accuracy were somewhat higher than they are today. In fact, I ran some of those great old papers – some of them substantially bigger than the Boston Herald, by the way.
I've tried to bring those old-fashioned standards and practices to the New Media. In fact, I think I'm alone in having done that. (Maybe someone could straighten me out if I'm unfairly overlooking worthy competition.)
WND Promotes Netanyahu Topic: WorldNetDaily
In putting together our article on Aaron Klein's WorldNetDaily coverage of the Israeli election, we were aware that Klein hadn't come through on one aspect of his campaign of attacking Ehud Olmert: the fawning pro-Benjamin Netanyahu article. Today, he fills that void by sneaking one in under the wire of today's election.
A March 28 article by Klein uncritically repeats Netanyahu's claim that "Without a strong Likud, we will not have sovereignty in Jerusalem." Most of the rest of Klein's article is rehash of previous articles attacking Olmert's Kadima party for suggesting a division of Jerusalem -- though for the first time, Klein acknowledges that Netanyahu's Likud party is "expected to come in third place at today's ballots." But even then, Klein tried to put a positive spin on that bit of bad news, claiming that "low voter turn out and the largely unpolled younger voters could sway elections in Likud's favor." As we previously noted, WND is playing up the claim that polls showing Likud behind are inaccurate.
WaPo's Howie Kurtz solves what he calls a "minor mystery" of who is behind FireDavidGregory.com. Turns out it was one of those nefarious NewsBusters, Ian Schwartz. Howie shouldn't take too much pride in his findings, though, since anyone could've discovered it doing a whois of the domain.
Sheffield is wrong. A WhoIs search for the owner of FireDavidGregory.com reveals it to be registered under a company called Domains by Proxy, a company whose purpose is to obscure the owners of domain names. Schwartz's name is nowhere to be found in the WhoIs listing. That's why Kurtz called it a "minor mystery," Matt.
Pre-Emptive Excuse Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily is linking to an article claiming that "the margin of error of pre-election polls presented to the Israeli public is too large to show an accurate picture of what will unfold on Election Day."
Why? Becuase Israeli election polls are showing the Kadima party winning, and the anti-Kadima WND needs to have an excuse at the ready to explain why its preferred party, Likud, is as far down as third place in some polls.
Jerome Corsi, Plagiarist? Topic: WorldNetDaily
As part of the fallout over Ben Domenech's plagiarism, Ann Coulter wannabe Debbie Schlussel (remember her? She's the one who thinks that two phone calls from a congressmen she criticized is the same thing as stalking) reminds us (via Crooks and Liars) that she has previously accused WorldNetDaily columnist and author Jerome Corsi of stealing portions of one of her columns. After complaining, she got WND to add a link to her column from Corsi's piece.
As an ex-WND columnist, Schlussel should know that Corsi was just following the example of his boss, Joesph Farah.
More Less-Than-Wholeness Topic: WorldNetDaily
With the first anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death coming up, we had a feeling that Diana Lynne would surface to write some more about the case (and, hopefully, to sell a few more copies of her book). And we were right. A March 27 column by Lynne attacks Jon Eisenberg's book "Using Terri," which described the right wing's support of the Schiavo case (and which we cited in our critique of Lynne's book). For all of Lynne's attacks, there are a couple things worth noting:
-- Despite Lynne's claim that "Eisenberg's book is a misleading, disingenuous case of the pot calling the kettle 'black,' " and that "Schiavo was a right-to-die case five years before it became a right-to-life case," Lynne never denies or disproves Eisenberg's basic assertion that the religious right used the case for their own purposes.
-- Despite Lynne's diversionary tactic of detailing what was spent on the attorneys for Michael Schiavo to counter Eisenberg's claims that the religious right spent "between $400,000 and $500,000" backing Terri Schiavo's parents, the Schindlers, Lynne appears to concede this number as the truth -- which would be the first time that Lynne has acknowledged this. In her book, she never cited the funding for that side, disingenuously describing it as "a grass-roots effort." Lynne also concedes here that Wesley Smith was "an unpaid adviser to the Schindlers"; in her book, she cited Smith's writings but failed to disclose his adviser status.
-- It appears that Lynne is about to drag George Soros into this; apparently, a Clinton connection couldn't be found or fabricated. After describing Soros as "the Daddy Warbucks of left-wing political campaigns and numerous left of center causes," she claims that "Employing Eisenberg's methodology, George Soros conspired to cause Terri's death." But Lynne fails to mention -- as she similarly failed to do in her book -- the contributions of pro-life extremists Randall Terry and Gary McCullough. C'mon, Diana, if you're going to dismiss Michael Schiavo attorney George Felos as having a "fascination with death and dying," you might want to mention that McCullough was the media consultant for a convicted killer and condoned his act of murder.
This looks to be a week-long series from Lynne. We'll check in again when she does.
Neil Who? Topic: NewsBusters
A March 24 NewsBusters post by Brad Wilmouth asserted that Keith Olbermann hit a "new low" for naming Barbara Bush the day's "worst person in America" for earmarking a donation to a Hurricane Katrina relief fund to purchase software from her son Neil's software company. Wilmouth wrote that Olbermann "neglected to mention that the Bush family had also given other donations without any requirement as to how the money should be spent."
The amazing thing is that anyone at the MRC knows who Neil Bush is. Despite his history of shady business dealings and a more sordid personal life than Bill Clinton's, the MRC has had next to nothing to say about him. Of the four mentions of him in the MRC database, three (here, here and here) are from 1992, all of which ponder whether the media will play up alleged Clinton scandals as they did Neil Bush's connection to a failed S&L. The fourth mention, from 2000, repeats the 1992 allegations.
There are only two mentions of Neil Bush on CNSNews.com: An article from February that noted he had spoken to the same Saudi Arabia group to which Al Gore had made remarks critical of U.S. abuse of Arabs, and a 2001 almanac item in which we learn that Neil shares a birthday with former Journey lead singer Steve Perry.
WND Fails to Disclose Blackwell Deal Topic: WorldNetDaily
Remember when we noted WorldNetDaily's sudden concern for Republican corruption in Ohio (as opposed to its utter disinterest in Republican-link corruption elsewhere), which seemed to serve no purpose other than to boost Ken Blackwell's campaign for Ohio governor? It turns WND had another motive for its pro-Blackwell coverage: WND is publishing Blackwell's new book.
That would be "Rebuilding America," co-written with Jerome Corsi (yes, the revisionist-minded bigot). WND Books has Blackwell's book scheduled for release in May, which means that in all likelihood, Blackwell was under contract with WND in January, at the time WND published its first Ohio-corruption articles -- a fact it did not disclose to its readers.
The Society of Professional Journalists' ethics code dictates that journalists should "avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived" and "disclose unavoidable conflicts."
The problem here is that WND promotes itself as providing journalism, which it clearly does not. Shilling for your authors, after all, is not journalism.
UPDATE: The same goes for Tom Tancredo, who has been featured in WND articles without the disclosure that he too is writing a WND-published book.
Sheppard's Criticism of AP Misfires Topic: NewsBusters
A March 24 post by Noel Sheppard argues (not terribly persuasively) that an Associated Press article from the previous day that reported Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff (Sheppard erroneously calls him "Alan") saying that the deal giving control of operations at six U.S. ports to Dubai government-owned DP World "could have helped implement stronger security at many ports where the U.S. now has limited influence" is a "quite a flip-flop" from the AP's Feb. 11 article first noting the deal and Dubai's links to terrorism. Sheppard admonished the AP: "Maybe if you had interviewed Chertoff on February 11 rather than Chuck Schumer ... the deal would have gone through, and America would not only be potentially safer, but also would not have appeared xenophobic to its friends and enemies."
Sheppard fails to note the blindingly obvious fact that if Chertoff hadn't waited until now to make this point, long after the deal has been scuttled, perhaps it wouldn't have blown up like it did. Nor does Sheppard note that the AP's Feb. 11 article also noted the Bush administration's side of the story, that it "considers the UAE an important ally in the fight against terrorism since the suicide hijackings," adding that "shipping experts" have pointed out "DP World's strong economic interest in operating ports securely and efficiently" and that "even under foreign control, U.S. ports will continue to be run by unionized American employees." You wouldn't know from Sheppard's portrayal of it, but the AP article is actually well balanced.
Posters on the thread to Sheppard's item pointed out another flaw in his reasoning: that Chertoff wasn't a part of the process that led to the original federal decision to approve the deal, as noted in a Feb. 26 Washington Post article.
And there's yet another flaw: By only noting Schumer's opposition to the deal, Sheppard ignores the fact that the controversy was also fueled by Sheppard's conservative fellow travelers, such as Michael Savage and WorldNetDaily. As we've noted, Sheppard previously falsely claimed that only the "Antique Media and the Left" opposed the DP World deal.
Farther down in the thread, forced to defend his post, Sheppard shares his (and, apparently, MRC's) view of research:
I'm not sure our charge here is to always connect every dot. Many of my editors are frequently reminding me that it is sometimes better to allow the reader to reach his/her own conclusions. If not, aren't we similar to that which we find offensive?
Well, Noel, it might help if you had done enough research in the first place, so that those dots connect to the solid foundation of truth rather than the shifting sands of uninformed, biased opinion.
'There Is No MSM' Topic: The ConWeb
In his thoughts on the Ben Domenech debacle, PressThink's Jay Rosen makes this important comment:
But in fact there is no MSM. No one answers for it. It has no address. And no real existence independent of the dreary statements in which it is bashed. Therefore it is not a term of accountability, which is one reason it's grown so popular. No one's accountable; therefore all rants can be right. If you're a blogger, and you write things like, "The MSM swallowed it hook, line and sinker," you should know that you have written gibberish.
Something for the ConWeb to think about. Not that they will, of course -- they're too invested in the MSM concept as a convenient target to abandon it.