We've noticed an upswing of late in the ConWeb presenting clearly biased sources as authoritative, as we're seeing with WND's embrace of a conservative group's propaganda to fight gay-related bills in California. Here are a couple more examples:
-- A Sept. 4 NewsMax article claiming that Republican Sen. Rick Santorum "crush[ed]" Democratic challenger Bob Casey in a joint appearance on "Meet the Press" cited only a single source to support the claim: a pro-Santorum blogger.
-- A Sept. 4 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard about liberal criticism of an upcoming ABC miniseries based on the 9/11 Commission report notes that critics have complained that "the writer/producer of this series, Cyrus Nowrasteh, is an admitted conservative that is supposedly a friend of Rush Limbaugh’s." In trying to claim that Nowrasteh is, rather, not "at all biased in his viewpoints," Sheppard cites ... an softball interview with him by Jamie Glazov at FrontPageMag.com.
Glazov is FrontPageMag's champion creampuff-tosser; he turned in a particularly softball-laden performance with fellow David Horowitz employee Richard Poe in order to promote Poe and Horowitz's new, highly flawed book, "The Shadow Party."
WorldNetDaily continues on its merry way of misrepresenting a series of bills in gay-related bills in California.
A Sept. 5 WND article states without qualification that "a series of bills approved by the Legislature ... would turn the California public school system into 'sexual indoctrination centers.'" Again, the only source of information for the article is the conservative Campaign for Children and Families, which opposes the law.
The article again repeats the highly misleading claim that a law signed last month "will require private schools including Christian colleges and others to promote homosexuality if any of their students receive state grants." In fact, the law merely adds "sexual orientation" to a non-discrimination clause for groups receiving state money. It similarly repeated the claim that two proposed bills would "promote transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality to children as young as kindergarten without their parents' permission."
The article states that another bill would "would spend $250,000 to turn 10 schools into 'sexual indoctrination centers,' officials said." The article doesn't delineate who the "officials" are who said it, leaving the false impression that it was state officials. In fact, nobody but opponents such as the CCF are making such overheated claims.
The article also links to the CCF site, claiming that "Full information on the bills" can be found there. Full information to make distorted and false claims, perhaps. Just because WND found everything it needed to falsely attack the bills at the CCF site doesn't mean CCF has the "full information" on them.
Meanwhile, the article doesn't offer any links to the actual text of the bills in question. The bills themselves, not CCF's biased interpretation of them, have the "full information." (We link to those bills here.)
Tim Graham vs. Media Matters Topic: Media Research Center
A Sept. 3 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham starts off by bashing a post by Brendan Nyhan at the American Prospect's Horse's Mouth blog about liberal media watchdogs, but he ultimately ends up taking a dishonest shot at Media Matters (full disclosure: my employer).
Graham makes the following claim:
MRC is not in the business of objecting to a liberal getting to speak on a newscast. We do not think that when a liberal gets to open their mouth on air, liberal bias has been committed. Often, we are pointing out that the liberal attitude isn't coming from a liberal think tank spokesman or a Democratic politician -- it's coming from an "objective" journalist like Katie Couric.
MRC is asking the news media to balance liberal viewpoints with conservative viewpoints. We don't generally say liberals should be removed from the air. This line is especially odd from Fritz or Nyhan, considering anyone who pays attention to Media Matters knows it's an aggressive promoter of taking conservatives off the air.
This was followed later by:
Once again, anyone who visits Media Matters will see that its focus isn't always on "misinformation." It's often, alert Ben Fritz, mere offense at conservative speech. Take these examples from their short list of recent items:
Robertson: "Osama bin Laden may be one of the true disciples of the teaching of the Quran ... because he's following through literally word-for-word what it says"
Hannity: "[M]aking sure Nancy Pelosi doesn't become the [House] speaker" is "worth ... dying for"
Coulter on Sen. Chafee: "They Shot the Wrong Lincoln"
Even this one: On Fox, boxing promoter Don King defended Bush on Katrina, claimed African-Americans supported Kerry in 2004 "because they didn't know any better"
In short, what Graham is claiming is that the MRC never criticizes liberals for saying liberal things, whereas Media Matters regularly criticizes conservatives for saying conservative things. Graham is, in a word, wrong.
A quick tour through NewsBusters shows how wrong he is. There, one will find numerous instances of writers taking mere offense at liberal speech -- or merely for not being conservative. In the past few days alone, targets have included Bill Maher (here and here), Keith Olbermann (a favorite target: "It is quite safe to say that most conservatives recommend the first change be the immediate cancellation of 'Countdown,' and the termination of its host"), Jane Smiley, Neal Gabler (another favorite target) and Al Gore.
Further, NewsBusters was the place where Dan Riehl posted his false accusations against S.R. Sidarth -- for which Riehl has yet to apologize there.
(Yes, we know what Graham is going to say: NewsBusters is just a blog, it's not official MRC research, most of its writers aren't MRC employees. But it's done under the MRC name and operated by MRC employees, which indicates at least tacit MRC approval of what's written there. It might want to keep that in mind, especially given the potentially libelous implications of Riehl's posts on Sidarth.)
Further, Graham seems to miss the point of the Media Matters items he cites as taking "mere offense at conservative speech." Take, for instance, this item on Graham's list, "Coulter on Sen. Chafee: 'They Shot the Wrong Lincoln.' " Is Graham saying that threatening the life of a political opponent -- a fellow Republican to Graham and Coulter, mind you -- is acceptable "conservative speech"? Because we sure don't see him being all that offended by it (or any of Coulter's other death threats, as far as we know). It seems to me that this is the kind of speech that anyone, liberal or conservative, should be offended by. Graham apparently thinks differently.
Graham also offers up this description of Media Matters vs. Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR): "MMFA is the liberal Democrat establishment, while FAIR is ultra-left." Does this mean that the MRC is the conservative Republican establishment, while Accuracy in Media is "ultra-right"? (Though AIM, unlike the MRC, has denounced Coulter's extreme rhetoric.)
Essentially, Graham is accusing Media Matters of doing the same thing his own employer does. Hardly a winning argument.
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah dedicated his Sept. 4 column to defending Florida congresswoman Katherine Harris -- which makes him one of the very few people on the planet to do so. He overlooks a lot of stuff in the process. No mention of, say, Harris' links to scandal-tainted defense contractor Mitchell Wade -- heck, if WND didn't report it, it didn't happen, as far as Farah is concerned. And it didn't, beyond mentioning her in passing in an article last December; the only other appearance by Harris in a WND news article is a June article by Jerome Corsi that is focused on scaremongering about a so-called North American super-state.
No, Farah focused very narrowly on what he called an "L.A. Times hit piece" on Harris. Even though Farah repeated the article's recounting that she "lost a dozen key campaign staffers in the home stretch, advertised endorsements she didn't get and failed to pick up a single recommendation from Florida's leading newspapers," he didn't address that at all; rather, he even more narrowly defended only her statements that the separation of church and state "a lie we have been told" and "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," as well her statement that only Christians should serve in Congress because otherwise it will "legislate sin." Harris was "simply representing mainstream evangelical thought," Farah wrote.
Farah also recalled his encounters with her as they worked on her (ghostwritten) book, the first book published under the WND Books imprint (which, despite being what Farah called a "valuable collectors item," the WND store is currently unloading for a low, low $6.95): "I was surprised by the person I met back then – because she wasn't anything like the media depictions of her. She was diminutive. She was attractive. She was extremely bright and warm – not the cold, harsh character I saw on the news throughout the 2000 election dispute."
Farah concluded: "So don't be fooled, Floridians. Do the right thing tomorrow. Vote for Harris." But isn't Farah fooling Floridians as well by failing to address the many other controversies surrounding her?
WND Misrepresents Quote on Social Darwinism Topic: WorldNetDaily
An alert ConWebWatch reader noted that amid all of the work WorldNetDaily undertook to promote a new video by D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries linking Darwinism to Adolf Hitler (and downplay the controversy of Coral Ridge's unauthorized misuse of comments by Human Genome Project director Francis Collins, it misrepresented the views of a scientist on the issue.
Even Niles Eldredge, curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said there's a link.
"Social Darwinism," he wrote, "has given us the eugenics movement and some of its darker outgrowths, such as the genocidal practices of the Nazis in World War II – where eugenics was invoked as a scientific rationale to go along with whatever other 'reasons' Hitler and his fellow Nazis had for the Holocaust."
By throwing this quote in, WND conflates social Darwinism and evolutionary theory. But even Coral Ridge didn't misrepresent Eldredge the way WND did. An essay by Tom DeRosa on the Coral Ridge website containing Eldredge's quote notes -- as WND doesn't -- that Eldredge regards social Darwinism "as an illegitimate offspring of Darwin’s theory."
DeRosa ultimately joins WND in conflating social Darwinism and evolution. While he does note that "contemporary apologists of Darwin" make a distiction between the two, he dismisses it: "Today when evolutionists are questioned as to how Darwinian evolution gave birth to Hitler’s Nazism, they immediately want to beg the question, answering that racism has nothing to do with science. They are correct! Racism has nothing to do with science, but it has everything to do with evolution—a fact that is unavoidable."
The distinction is important, since the aim of Kennedy and Coral Ridge is to discredit evolutionary theory as a whole -- not just social Darwinism, a application Darwin did not promote -- by linking it to Hitler.
Bozell Quits as PTC President Topic: Media Research Center
Media Research Center president Brent Bozell has quit his other job, president of the Parents Television Council.
While the wire services are focusing on what the PTC has accomplished in pushing for a federal crackdown on allegedly indecent content on TV, they are ignoring Bozell's one notorious failure: his false accusations against World Wrestling Entertainment over the Lionel Tate case, in which a 12-year-old boy killed a 6-year-old girl. Bozell claimed that WWE was liable because the boy was allegedly imitating wrestling moves when he killed the girl.
Kincaid's Latest Anti-Gay Crusade Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid, a man with a history of bizarre anti-gay crusades -- from obsessing over Rachel Maddow to demanding that homosexual behavior be treated as a public health hazard akin to smoking -- has embarked on a new one: This time, he's claiming that spending money on AIDS research is a waste.
This attempt at a meme first showed up in an Aug. 15 AIM Report item (repeated in an Aug. 17 column by Kincaid, in which he notes that "the U.S. has spent about $200 billion on HIV/AIDS—and an AIDS vaccine—since 1981," but no AIDS vaccine has been found:
Can you imagine any other federal effort of this magnitude that would be spared from serious criticism? The explanation, of course, lies in the fact that spending on AIDS is politically protected. The more money spent, the better. That was the policy under Clinton and it has been continued under Bush. This "bridge to nowhere" gets more money, not less.
(As we previously noted, this is the same article in which Kincaid also opposed mandatory, and even possibly voluntary, use of the cervial cancer-stopping HPV vaccine.)
Kincaid expanded on this idea in an Aug. 23 column called "The AIDS Scam," in which he declared that "the AIDS problem was exaggerated by the United Nations so that more money would flow through the world body and other international channels to combat it." Kincaid also attack Republican Sen. Bill Frist for teaming with Democrats to "expand the fight against global HIV/AIDS":
Senator Frist, a medical doctor, was attacked by the liberal media when he suggested, based on a review of a videotape of the disabled woman, Terri Schiavo, that she deserved a chance to live because she appeared to be conscious. Her husband later pulled the plug on her. But Frist has never been criticized by the major media for jumping on the AIDS bandwagon. To the media, AIDS is a sacred cause, like the U.N. itself.
As we've noted, the videotape from which Frist made his "diagnosis" was an edited five-minute clip taken from four hours of videotape shot by Schiavo's parents and supporters -- the unedited version of which they have refused to publicly release.
A Sept. 1 WND article reported that Wal-Mart officials described its affiliation as "just another routine business outreach" and that "other major corporations are doing the same types of things," then ominiously added: "However, conservatives and Christians see it differently." But the only person critical of the decision cited in the article is Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. So, in fact, it's not all "conservatives and Christians" who "see it differently"; it's just WND and the FRC.
And Kevin McCullough, too. WND linked that article to a Sept. 1 WND column by McCullough, who engages a whole host of misleading anti-gay rhetoric, claiming that Wal-Mart is "spending resources in time, attention and money to promote same-gender sexual behavior" and accusing Wal-Mart of "succumbing to the threats" of "hateful activists" and becoming "needlessly ... entangled with ugly radical, sexual activism." McCullough then added a little guilt-by-association smear to the mix:
Why will Wal-Mart spend monetary resources to help fund conferences that promote same-gender sexual behavior? Would they do the same for adulterers? Pedophiles? Men who like sheep?
McCullough also linked to a misleading, hyperbolic FRC flyer that claimed that Wal-Mart is "pander[ing] to radical homosexual activists," "supporting homosexual activism" and "us[ing] consumer dollars to fund radical social activism." The FRC offers no evidence to back up its claim that the NLGCC engages in "radical social activism." Nevertheless, McCullough urged his readers to "[p]rint out this flyer, print out dozens. Hand them out at church, to your neighbors and to the customer service desk of your local Wal-Mart."
Deploring Death Threats Is 'Anti-Conservative'? Topic: NewsBusters
In his Sept. 1 NewsBusters post (and CyberAlert item) criticizing the Aug. 31 edition of Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show for "[h]osting interviews with three Bush critics from the left," Brad Wilmouth noted that Olbermann "rounded up his big anti-conservative night by naming conservatives Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Senator Conrad Burns as his three nominees for his regular 'Worst Person in the World' segment." While Wilmouth attached "relevant portions" of transcripts to his item, he did not include the transcript to the "Worst Person in the World" segment.
Why is that? At least one nominee engaged in behavior that presumably would be objectionable even if she were not conservative -- Ann Coulter, who titled her latest column attacking Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, "They Shot the Wrong Lincoln."
Is Wilmouth condoning death threats? By calling Olbermann's inclusion of Coulter on that list for that offense "anti-conservative," is Wilmouth saying that it is "conservative" to issue death threats against anyone you disagree with? Sure, conservatives have been stony silent about Coulter's long history of wishing violence on her political enemies, but the idea that this is now official conservative modus operandi is disturbing, to say the least.
WND Again Misrepresents eBay Ban Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 1 WorldNetDaily article -- as did an earlier WND article -- misrepresents an eBay ban on selling teacher's editions of schoolbooks. The second paragraph of the article claims that "teacher's guides for homeschool curricula no longer would be allowed on its auction site."
In fact, as the article itself states several paragraphs later, the ban is inclusive of all teacher's texts, not just those related to homeschooling. That fact, however, never made it to the start of the article.
To: Matthew Sheffield, NewsBusters executive editor
Dear Mr. Sheffield:
In an Aug. 25 NewsBusters post, Dan Riehl asserted that asserted that S.R. Sidarth, the worker for the James Webb campaign whom Sen. George Allen called a "macaca," was "making fun of an Hispanic William & Mary student's death." In fact, not only did the person alleged to be Sidarth not "make fun" of the dead student, Riehl offered no evidence that the student was, in fact, Hispanic. By repeatedly bringing up the dead student's alleged ethnicity, Riehl implied that Sidarth was acting in a racist manner -- something else for which Riehl offered no evidence.
Later on Aug. 25, Riehl issued another NewsBusters post in which he implied that Sidarth may be lying when he told Riehl that he never posted to the discussion board Riehl accuses him of posting on.
Meanwhile, on his own blog, Riehl was making more serious accusations against Sidarth regarding discussion board posts -- which he was forced to retract because he had no proof that Sidarth, in fact, made those posts.
Given that Riehl made some of these false accusations and implications against Sidarth at NewsBusters, will you be asking Riehl to correct and/or retract his posts and issue an formal, public apology to Sidarth at NewsBusters?
NewsBusters Cites Olbermann-Haters as Source Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 30 NewsBusters post (and Aug. 31 CyberAlert item) by Brent Baker takes Keith Olbermann to task for his "vitriolic personal attack on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld." after noting that Olbermann chastised Rumsfeld because in a speech he "compared critics of the current war in Iraq to those who tried to appease Adolf Hitler and the Nazis before World War II," Baker noted: "In fact, Rumsfeld simply worried about how not all realize how “we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism” from the Islamic world."
That link (which does not appear in the CyberAlert version) goes to a site called Olbermann Watch. In the post Baker links to -- by "Johnny Dollar" (aka Mark Koldys, the pro-Fox News blogger who has previously posted at NewsBusters, a little insider dealing that Baker perhaps should have disclosed) -- Olbermann is described as "infamous," "deplorable," "Krazy Keith," "a consummate opportunist," and "Herr Olbermann." Koldys also called Olbermann's viewers "credulous cretins." Doesn't exactly sound like the place to go for a objective, balanced view of anything regarding Olbermann.
An Aug. 31 NewsMax article read rather strange to our eyes. While its central claim is that the Defense Department "has called on the Associated Press to correct a report that it says mischaracterized a speech by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld," it didn't read like an AP article, which NewsMax is a subscriber to. Though at first glance it seems like an AP-generated article, there are numerous references to "Secretary Rumsfeld" throughout the piece, which is not AP style. Did AP resume its practice of editing AP articles to conform with NewsMax house style (which it has done in the past, for instance, changing "Democratic" to "Democrat")?
As it turns out, the article comes from a Voice of America report -- but NewsMax credits VOA nowhere in the article, which carries a "NewsMax.com Wires" byline. As far as we know, VOA does not syndicate its material through AP or any other wire service. NewsMax apparently just copied and pasted the VOA article into its own website.
WND Keeps Up Misleading, Alarmist Tone on Calif. Law Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily continues to push a misleading, alarmist tone over a new California law adding "sexual orientation" to the non-discrimination provisions that groups receiving state money must abide by. An Aug. 31 WND article begins by claiming that California is promoting a "state-mandated pro-homosexual environment." WND again misleadingly describes the bill, claiming that it is "requiring even Christian colleges where students receive state grants to condone homosexuality, transsexuality and bisexuality" (italics theirs).
The bulk of the article consists of alarmist quotes by Charles B. Lowers, "executive director of the pro-family Considering Homeschool organization":
-- "School-based 'clinics' are expanding … to ensure that your daughters get birth control and abortions without you knowing. Now that the homosexuals are dictating curriculum, 80-90 percent of Christians should be homeschooling, not the other way around."
-- "Public school is no place for innocent little kids. If they don't get molested by the John Karrs who are in the system, their minds and hearts will be molested by the curriculum," he said.
-- "Instead of the traditional three R's in California's public schools, children are learning Rebelliousness, Relativism, and an R-rated lifestyle."
-- In California, the public schools are controlled "by a group of elitist, leftist, homosexual socialists."
-- It must be official NewsMax policy to regularly run an article attacking John McCain. This time around, Bush-fluffer and frequent McCain attacker Ronald Kessler does the deed with an article claiming that McCain "had trouble controlling his anger long before he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam," adding that "the media have run few details of McCain's bouts with malignant melanoma, a deadly form of cancer that can spread quickly throughout the body."
-- NewsMax apparently never gets tired of bringing up Robert Byrd's long-past association with the KKK. It does so again in its Aug. 27 "Insider Report." The article also repeats a misleading claim, first advanced last September, that in his autobiography, "Byrd failed to renounce the Klan – and even defended it, claiming it was largely a men's social organization." In fact, in his autobiography, Byrd has called his Klan involvement "an extraordinarily foolish mistake," adding: "I displayed very bad judgment, due to immaturity and a lack of seasoned reasoning."