Some Scandals Are More Equal Than Others Topic: WorldNetDaily
May 5 articles at both WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com quickly jumped on the news of Rep. Patrick Kennedy's car accident on Capitol Hill. But neither WND nor CNS has run original articles about the latest aspect of the congressional bribery scandal that began with Duke Cunningham, now involving allegations of prostitutes procured for congressmen and links to a top CIA official.
As we've noted, both WND and CNS have a history of disinterest in Republican scandals.
NewsMax, meanwhile, has reported on Hookergate in addition to its Kennedy coverage.
Bono, the lead singer for the band U2, will get to edit the Independent, one of Britain's top newspapers. Will Hillary Clinton edit the New York Times if she decides to run for president?
Sheffield's attempted link makes no logical sense. American newspapers don't do "stunt" editorships. Bono's guest-editing job is being done in the name of charity, not a political party. And why would Hillary's potential presidential candidacy have any relevance to the issue? Couldn't Republicans have, say, John McCain guest-edit the New York Post or program an evening of Fox News?
This is a partisan cheap shot, not media criticism. Then again, partisan attacks presented as media criticism are mostly what the MRC does.
Who's Elitist? Topic: NewsBusters
A May 4 NewsBusters post by Greg Sheffield shows how little he knows about journalism -- and how willing he is to recycle stereotypes.
In critiquing an American Journalism Review column by Rem Rieder suggesting that the White House correspondents' dinner be ended because it makes journalists look like "a wealthy elite, completely out of touch with ordinary Americans," Sheffield pushed the idea that all journalists are elitists. He singled out Reider's claim that the elitist claim is "ridiculous" because "far too many journalists at smaller papers work for hideously low salaries."
Sheffield, by apparently scoffing at that idea, appears to believe that your typical small-town daily and the White House press corps are somehow interchangeable and similarly glitzy and pampered. Sheffield has obviously never worked in journalism. Conservative press-bashers like Sheffield love to tout the high salaries at top papers like the New York Times as being de regieur for journalism -- an April 26 item by Noel Sheppard at the Free Market Project (like NewsBusters, a division of the Media Research Center) highlighted questions about "the pay structure of the Times’ upper management" -- but they don't understand that these are exceptions to the rule. The vast majority of journalists don't make a lot of money; the starting wage for an entry-level reporting position at a small daily newspaper is only slightly above minimum wage. More journalists are having ramen for dinner than are schmoozing at black-tie soirees. (And if they do somehow find themselves at a black-tie soiree, they didn't pay for it out of their own pocket, they rented their tuxes, and they're too busy scarfing down all the free food they can get their hands on to do much quality schmoozing.) Journalism and Washington journalism are two separate things.
Ironically, this stereotyped portrayal comes just a couple days after Sheffield promoted a study that he claimed contradicted the stereotyped "media image" of bloggers.
Sheffield also takes a whack at Rieder for stating that "[t]he WMD fiasco should have been a jolt" to the "smugness" of Washington journalists; he adds, "as if that is what indicates Washington's liberal elite." Sheffield wrote: "The lesson: more attacks on the Bush administration will get rid of that nasty image of being liberal elitists." Sheffield follows another stereotype here in repeating the conservative view that any coverage that reflects negatively on the Bush administration, even if it's true -- which the "WMD fiasco" is -- is an "attack" by "elitist" liberal journalists.
This attitude shows Sheffield's own brand of elitism -- that conservatives in general and President Bush in particular are somehow above criticism, and that any criticism they do encounter can be automatically dismissed as coming from partisan liberal "elitists." We suspect that if a Democrat was president and similar things were going on -- warrantless domestic spying, secret CIA prisons -- Sheffield and the NewsBusters gang would be praising the New York Times and the Washington Post for exposing them rather than attacking the reporters who exposed them. For conservatives, partisanship trumps the truth.
And if attendance at a black-tie soiree is evidence of elitism, what are we to make of the MRC's own annual black-tie soiree? And what did Sheffield wear to it?
But as recently as two years ago, WND took a much different view toward secession. A May 2004 article by Joe Kovocs touted the efforts of a group of Christian activists to move en masse to South Carolina in order to take over the government and then secede from the United States and found a "Christian republic."
WND Sacred Cow Update Topic: WorldNetDaily
As Katherine Harris' links to corrupt defense contractor Mitchell Wade grow increasinglydocumented, WorldNetDaily -- which claims to have "a commitment to exposing corruption, fraud, waste and abuse wherever it is found -- no matter who the perpetrator" -- has yet to do an original article about it.
'Accurate News'? Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax is trying to goad readers into buying a subscription to NewsMax's magazine to their local library. In a letter to readers, editor Christopher Ruddy claims: "Story after story, NewsMax has been out front, with bold, courageous and accurate news."
Pierre's Double Standard Topic: NewsBusters
A May 3 NewsBusters post by Dave Pierre attacks a Glamour magazine article for claiming that one of the "new lies about women's health" is that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer. Pierre wrote: "Is Glamour potentially harming female readers by hiding the truth from them?" He added that among the "medical personnel" Glamour cited to debunk the claim is "Dr. Herb Brown (.pdf file), who has been medical director at Planned Parenthood of San Antonio. Geesh. Conflict of interest, anyone?"
Despite all the links Pierre supplies, nearly all of tham are connected to a single source, the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, headed by Karen Malec. Since the coalition's presumed ultimate goal is to ban abortion, it has a specific interest in promulgating claims of a link between abortion and breast cancer and attacking those who discount it, and anything it puts out is colored by that biased viewpoint.
Another clue to the group's partisan nature: Malec has published her findings in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, whose conservative leanings we've previously documented.
TimesWatch Doesn't Hesitate to Make Dubious Claim Topic: Media Research Center
A May 1 TimesWatch post by Clay Waters, in once again attacking the New York Times for failing to apply the term "liberal" to Hillary Clinton, states: "After all, the paper never hesitates to call conservative senators like Rick Santorum or Sam Brownback or John Cornyn 'conservative.'" But Waters' own statistics in his recent "study" of the Times' coverage of Clinton (you know, the dubious and flawed one) show that to be false.
According to Waters in his Times-Hillary study, the "conservative" label was applied to Santorum in just seven of 95 articles; for Brownback, it was six of 82 articles. Waters does not provide statistics for Cornyn.
In other words, the Times hesitates a lot -- unlike Waters in making this dubious claim.
The Evil of Marketing, Outsourced Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily finally produces its first bylined article on the Ohio university controversy over WND managing editor David Kupelian's book "The Marketing of Evil" -- but it's not by a WND employee.
The May 2 article, which also looks at a previous allegation made against the university librarian at the center of the controversy, is written by Walter Skold, described as "a librarian and independent journalist living in Freeport, Maine." He has written other articles for WND (for instance, here and here), all with a library angle.
Despite being an outsider, Skold does adhere some of WND's "highest editorial standards and practices" by not interviewing anyone from the Ohio school for his article -- a lack of initiative consistent with the rest of WND's coverage of this story.
CNS Doesn't Give A Hoot Topic: CNSNews.com
A May 1 CNSNews.com article by Marc Morano attacks the upcoming movie "Hoot" as, in the words of one person he quoted, "soft core eco-terrorism" for kids. Among the offending scenes, according to Morano, include "environmentally conscious teenage characters vandalizing heavy machinery by stealing parts off of them and flattening tires in order to hinder a development project." Morano makes sure to identify the parties responsible for this travesty: the director (Wil Shriner), author (Carl Hiaasen) and co-producer (Jimmy Buffett, misspelled throughout as "Buffet").
But strangely, despite all the other details he provides on Shriner and Hiaasen, Morano doesn't go into detail on one guilty party, co-producer Walden Media. And this was one party Morano could have really nailed. After all, Walden Media was created to produce family-friendly entertainment, which it most recently did in spades with the conservative-friendly film "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." It's bankrolled by conservative-leaning billionaire Philip Anschutz, who has his fingers in many things, including newspapers. Where's that Anschutz-bashing for straying from the conservative orthodoxy?
It's not as if the folks at the MRC aren't aware of the connection. After all, Tim Graham wrote about it in a NewsBusters post last October.
UPDATE: NewsBusters' Geoffrey Dickens, in a May 1 post, pounds on "Hoot" as an "Eco-Terrorism Movie For Kids," but he fails to mention the Anschutz connection.
WND Resumes Leftist Attack on Olmert Topic: WorldNetDaily
Two May 1 WorldNetDaily articles by Aaron Klein resume his attack from the left on Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and his disengagement plan. The first article digs up a "former Gaza commander and left-wing activist" to bash Olmert and disengagement. The second article resumes Klein's claim that Olmert and his Kadima party are controlled by a cabal of businessmen that run Israel's economy.
That second article includes an anonymous person saying about the billionaire businessmen: "There is so much money being moved and business going on I suppose you do have to question whether it's just their politics or are they gaining financially from what happens in Israel?" Just remember what Klein's boss, Joseph Farah, said about anonymous sources: They're "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better."
Pro-Limbaugh Spin Update Topic: Newsmax
-- Somebody buy NewsMax a thesaurus! The headline of a May 1 article blares, "Newsweek: Rush Limbaugh 'Arrest' Reports Were Bogus." But as the article itself states, Newsweek actually claimed that "the word 'arrest' was misleading." Uh, NewsMax: "Bogus" and "misleading" aren't synonymous.
Of course, the claim that "the word 'arrest' was misleading" is itself a bit misleading because Limbaugh was, in fact, under arrest during his booking and plea.
-- Clay Waters, in a May 1 TimesWatch item, is eager to defend Limbaugh against charges that he's a "hypocrite" for previously suggesting that drug abusers should be jailed. Waters' exculpatory evidence: Limbaugh said it in 1995, which "suggests that perhaps Limbaugh didn't 'regularly' say much about drug users," and that "Limbaugh is talking not about addiction to legal painkillers, but illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin."
-- In a May 1 NewsBusters post, Brian Boyd complained that ABC's "Good Morning America" reported on it "even though there's nothing new to say."
AIM Rehabilitates Scheuer Topic: Accuracy in Media
A May 1 Accuracy in Media article by Cliff Kincaid takes another stab at dubiously asserting that Dana Priest's Washington Post articles about the CIA's secret prisons are "essentially false." This time, Kincaid serves up criticism of the Post articles by former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, who wrote a December 2005 Washington Times column on the issue, as evidence that the stories "damaged our anti-terrorism efforts."
But Scheuer has previously been attacked as not being credible -- by Kincaid himself. In a Dec. 3, 2004, column, Kincaid wrote that Scheuer "made claims that were ludicrous on their face" and "turn[ed]in a rather unimpressive performance" in a "60 Minutes" appearance, though he added that some of Scheuer's claims "echoed our criticism of the agency."
Further, a Dec. 14, 2004, list of AIM's top "underreported/buried stories for 2004" included "[t]he questionable background and qualifications of Michael Scheuer, the former CIA analyst who gave interviews as "anonymous" and criticized the war in Iraq and the war on Islamic terrorism."
And a August 2005 "AIM Report" approvingly quotes Rep. Curt Weldon claiming as a purported example of the CIA's "arrogance" that "[l]ast year, during the presidential election, one of the agents got the approval to write a book to embarrass George Bush during the middle of a campaign" -- a reference to Scheuer's book "Imperial Hubris," originally published anonymously.
Interesting how AIM has transformed yesterday's arrogant, questionable Scheuer to a suddenly authoritative source.