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Monday, October 30, 2006
WND (Lack of) Journalistic Ethics Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 30 WorldNetDaily article by David Bradshaw features a person with something called the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, who accuses the government of having a "keep-gold-weak policy." That person is also quoted as saying "Gold prices could double to $1,200 per ounce in the short term to then run up as high as $3,000 per ounce over the next five years"; Bradshaw adds that he says that "in an exclusive interview this week" with WND's Joseph Farah.

It's not disclosed anywhere in the article -- only in the URL of the link to it -- but that interview is available from Swiss America -- a gold-trading company that is one of WND's major advertisers and sponsor of WND's BizNetDaily site. Further, as we've previously noted, Bradshaw is not a WND employee or even a journalist; he works for Swiss America, where he edits the Real Money Perspectives newsletter.

In other words, this is not a "news" article -- it's an ad. 

"Highest editorial standards and practices," anyone? 


Posted by Terry K. at 9:33 AM EST
Corsi's Double Standard
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jerome Corsi continues hammering away at Ted Strickland. An Oct. 28 WorldNetDaily column yet again recycles the claim that Strickland hired a campaign manager for his 1998 re-election campaign who, four years earlier, had been convicted on a charge of public indecency. Again, Corsi overstates his claim, calling the man a "convicted criminal sex offender" while not noting that the charge on which he was convicted was, in fact, a fourth-degree misdeameanor -- in other words, it's not as serious as Corsi and his co-author-slash-Strickland opponent Ken Blackwell have made it out to be.

Corsi, meanwhile, has been silent on a similar situation facing his buddy Blackwell: While Blackwell served as Ohio state treasurer, his office hired a man who had a history of arrests -- one for robbery, two for cocaine possession; he was sentenced to probation and drug treatment on one of the possession charges -- and was kept on after Blackwell was alerted to the man's criminal record. Further, three months after the man left his job there, he was sentenced to four years in prison for sexually abusing a girl.

It appears that the Blackwell-linked employee had a much more severe criminal record than the Strickland-linked employee. If it was OK for Blackwell to hire a convicted criminal -- as Corsi's silence about it indicates it is -- why wasn't it OK for Strickland?

We also noted that Corsi has ceased using the name of the offending Strickland employee, even though he used it in a earlier column. Why? Perhaps because the misdeameanor Corsi keeps writing about was officially expunged from the man's criminal record and it may not be, you know, legal to be publicly distributing expunged records. Which may be also why Corsi is protecting the identity of the "Ohio Concerned Citizen" who is his main source for these accusations. While Corsi insists that "[t]he information given me by Ohio Concerned Citizen in the past has been true and verifiable," such use of an anonymous violates WorldNetDaily's policy against using anonymous sources (as articulated by Joseph Farah in a January 1999 WND column: "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better"). Of course, as we've noted with WND's Aaron Klein, stated policy and practice are two very different things; anonymous sources appear to be quite permissible when needed to achieve WND's agenda.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:24 AM EST
Sunday, October 29, 2006
We Digg It
Topic: The ConWeb
For those readers into such things, we've added to the ConWebBlog RSS feed the ability to link items to Digg.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:27 PM EST
NewsMax's Misleading Claims on Stem Cells
Topic: Newsmax

Opponents of embryonic stem cell research have latched onto a new scare tactic: tumors!

An Oct. 25 NewsMax article largely regurgitating Rush Limbaugh's take on a political ad featuring parkinson's disease victim Michael J. Fox's support for embryonic stem cell research threw out the tumor claim:

In an Oct. 23 story in Canada's Globe and Mail, researchers at the University of Rochester were said to have encountered what the newspaper called the "two extremes that have met in one dazzling, yet devastating experiment.

 "Researchers there have for the first time essentially cured rats of a Parkinson's-like disease using human embryonic stem cells. But 10 weeks into the trial, they discovered brain tumors had begun to grow in every animal treated.

 "Here we have this method that works so well to reverse the symptoms of Parkinson's," said lead investigator Steven Goldman, "But no matter how you look at it, it's an expanding mass and that's bad news."

Experts say that this has been the result in all cases when embryonic stem cells were used on lab animals. They develop tumors, some cancerous. 

That's a somewhat selective quoting of the Globe and Mail article, and it suggests that because one experiment failed, all research should cease. In fact, the article states that "scientists have always known that any stem cell therapy could result in an uncontrolled growth of cells that could give rise to cancer" -- a far cry from NewsMax's claim that anonymous "experts say" that tumors results in "all cases" -- and noted "the possibility that the years-old and scant stem lines available to government researchers in the United States may also have had tumourigenic properties from the start that skewed the experiment." The article also notes that scientists are now "redoing the experiment" to attempt another method of retarding uncontrolled cell growth.

Michael Reagan, in an Oct. 27 NewsMax column, made a similar claim, adding, "Thus far, that is the sole fruit of ESC research – fatal brain tumors."

A Sept. 26 NewsMax column by Michael Arnold Gluek and Robert J. Cihak -- both members of the conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, as we've noted -- threw out another misleading claim: that "human embryonic stem cells have not cured a single human medical condition. That's as in none, nada, zero; not experimentally, or in controlled clinical trials, or in general medical use." But Gluek and Cihak don't say that this is because embryonic stem cells were not isolated until November 1998 and, thus, relatively little research has been done, while adult stem cell research has had many years of a head start on research. As the International Society for Stem Cell Research states, "Because human embryonic stem cells were isolated relatively recently, and therefore we know less about them, it is currently more difficult to work with human systems than mouse."

The Gluek-Cihak coolumn also calls supporters of embryonic stem cell research "bigots" because they are "loudly intolerant of other beliefs and add injury to insult by extracting our tax money to support their activities." 


Posted by Terry K. at 11:42 AM EDT
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Did Webb Really 'Defend' Penis-In-Mouth Incident?
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 28 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd attacking the Washington Post for not including an example in one of Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb's novels in which a father greets his 4-year-old son by putting the boy's penis in his mouth, Shepherd claimed that by claiming that claiming that it was "not a sexual act," Webb was defending the practice, calling Webb "quick to defend arguable incest."

That is misleading; nowhere has Webb been quoted endorsing the practice. What Webb, in fact, defended is the inclusion of that incident in his book, not the incident itself. Yet, in a comment on the post, Shepherd adds:

Maybe in that culture it is not. But it says something that the first thing to spring to his mind in an interview is to DEFEND it rather than say, "Yeah, it's pretty sick, but that's part of their culture." 

Mind you, this is apparently merely a passing mention in Webb's book -- neither Shepherd nor the CNSNews.com article he quoted offer any indication that it is anything more than that, let alone that Webb's book endorses or celebrates the practice. 

This whole Webb fiction controversy -- shopped by the George Allen campaign and eagerly lapped up by Media Research Center arms such as NewsBusters and CNSNews.com -- appears to be yet another example of the depiction-equals-approval fallacy. Shepherd appears to believe that because Webb didn't condemn the act he depicted, he must therefore approve of it. Again, that's a logical fallacy for which he has no evidence.

Shepherd is susceptible to peddling such faulty logic; he did so in an August post claiming that because the Washington Post didn't explicitly condemn the acts of dumpster-diving it depicted in a article, it "glorifie[d]" them.


Posted by Terry K. at 7:45 PM EDT
Graham Channels Biased Corsi on Strickland
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 28 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham complained that the Washington used "one paragraph" to "dispose" of the accusation made by Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell that his Democratic opponent, Ted Strickland, allegedly knowingly hired as a campaign manager a man who had been convicted on indecency charges four years earlier, declaring, "This scandal deserves its own story." As background on the case, Graham cites ... Jerome Corsi.

Graham links to a Oct. 25 Corsi article on the Human Events website that similarly overstates the case against the campaign manager in the way that Corsi's articles on the issue for WorldNetDaily do (as we've documented).

But Graham fails to note that Corsi is not exactly an unbiased reporter here: he co-wrote a book with Blackwell. Human Events also fails to point that out as well. 

Graham also engages in the conservative game of downplaying the Mark Foley scandal by comparison, repeating a Post article's claim that "No one interviewed for this article could cite any instance in which Foley had sex with a former page." Graham conveniently misses the point of the article, which is that Foley actively and repeatedly cultivated relationships with congressional pages over a period of years that "if a boy seemed willing to go along, some conversations [by Foley with the pages] grew more sexual." The Strickland staffer's behavior, by comparison, occurred four years before his employment by Strickland, did not occur during his employ and was expunged from his record. Given this, Graham (and Corsi, for that matter) needs to explain how Foley and Strickland are equivalent.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:53 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, October 28, 2006 11:58 AM EDT
Sheppard Follows the Conservative Playbook
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 27 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard complained that CNN followed "the liberal media playbook" in its coverage of the James Webb fiction non-scandal. Which raises the question: Has Sheppard followed the conservative media playbook in his coverage? Let's see...

Inappropriate comparison to a much bigger scandal to inflate its importance? Yup: Sheppard compared Webb's fiction to the Mark Foley scandal. But wait -- wasn't Sheppard, just a few short weeks ago, dismissing the Foley scandal as "one virtually unknown congressman’s sexual indiscretions"?

Refusing to make a more appropriate comparison? Yup: In his first post on the issue, Sheppard made no mention of the sex-in-literature skills of, say, Lynne Cheney. In this post, he attacks CNN for bringing up Cheney's literary efforts, bashing it as "extraordinarily expedient" in using part of the "iberal media playbook." Actually, that's what is known as context; Sheppard might want to check out that concept sometime.

Attacking Webb for defending himself? Yup: Here, Sheppard depicts the allegedly offensive scenes Webb defended as "illuminating surroundings or defining a character or moving a plot" as CNN's giving "the offended Democrat an extraordinary amount of print-space to explain his or her position." That is, by the way, not something Sheppard himself did in his first post, since he apparently feels that Democrats should not be allowed to defend themselves.

Ignoring evidence that makes Republicans look bad? Yup: In addition to pretending there are not Republican equivalents to what Webb has done, Sheppard also has not mentioned evidence that the George Allen campaign shopped the story and that his MRC colleagues at CNSNews.com have eager promoters of the story with the Allen campaign's possible help.

To quote Sheppard himself: Mission Accomplished! 


Posted by Terry K. at 11:31 AM EDT
Farah: Allen Campaign Shopped Webb Fiction Story
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From Joseph Farah's Oct. 28 WorldNetDaily column:

When Matt Drudge published the press release from Virginia Sen. George Allen's campaign about lurid and sexually explicit excerpts from Jim Webb's novels, some WND readers asked why we didn't jump all over the story.

I'll tell you why.

For weeks, operatives within the Allen campaign were shopping this "story."

We were offered all the excerpts if we wanted it as an exclusive. I turned it down flat.

Why?

Because it's a non-story.

That certainly lends some credence to our theory that CNSNews.com cooperated with the Allen campaign in promoting the story. If it was shopped to WND, it was almost certainly shopped to CNS, who didn't think it was a "non-story," devoting a whopping four articles to it.

On the other hand, WND used the it-was-shopped claim to try and downplay the Mark Foley story, as demonstrated in an Oct. 10 article. And WND is not necessarily averse to "shopped" stories, as its cozy relationship with the Alliance Defense Fund vividly shows.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:53 AM EDT
Friday, October 27, 2006
Did CNS Conspire With Allen Campaign?
Topic: CNSNews.com

An Oct. 27 CNSNews.com article by Monisha Bansal examined Virginia Senate candidate Jim Webb's fiction for purportedly "racist" and "misogynistic" statements. (It's one of three articles CNS has run today about Webb's fiction.) But did Bansal and CNS work with the campaign of Webb's opponent, Repblican Sen. George Allen, in the process?

The story suggests the possibility of coordination. Bansal notes that she talked to one person on Wednesday and that "Webb's campaign office has not returned multiple calls since Wednesday, seeking comment for this article. But she also notes that Allen's campaign "released a statement late Thursday listing excerpts from the books, charging that they "disturbingly and consistently -- indeed, almost uniformly -- portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these."

Interesting bit of timing there, isn't it? Bansal's article came out just in time to support and promote Allen's press release, and the two accompanying flood-the-zone articles further promote it. You'd almost think that CNS was sitting on the story until Allen could make it an issue.

We have no evidence of this, mind you; but we do think that the obvious timing issues raise questions that, given CNS' tightness with conservatives, CNS needs to answer.

Additionally, Bansal's article quotes only one person who directly responded to the excerpts CNS (and/or the Allen campaign) culled: noted literary critic Mychal Massie of Project 21. Really, now: Is someone who compares Democrats to Orval Faubus and Bull Connor and regularly hurls the Nazi slur (but hypocritically denounces Democrats who do the same thing) and has other fits of rhetorical excess really the go-to guy on issues of fiction? (Then again, the guy has forwarded his share of fiction in his WorldNetDaily column.)

UPDATE: CNS has posted another story -- the fourth of the day -- on FictionGate.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:47 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, October 27, 2006 7:35 PM EDT
Sheppard: Fictional Sex = Foley Scandal
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 27 post, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard really seems to believe that "depictions of homosexuality, and underage sexual activity" in Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb's novels should be given the same media attention as the non-fictional predatory behavior against congressional pages by Republican Rep. Mark Foley:

Given the media frenzy over Mark Foley’s electronic messages to male pages, the question is raised as to whether the press will give these revelations any coverage eleven days before Election Day. Should the fiction writings of a candidate seeking such high office be fair game for scrutiny, or is this a Hail Mary pass the media shouldn’t bother with?

Sheppard also did not list any response from the Webb campaign, apparently because he was too disturbed by the "lurid" content (or too envious of the George Allen staffers who had to document it). Sheppard also fails to similarly equate Republican vice-presidential wife Lynne Cheney with her fictional sex scenes.

Further, Sheppard cited Drudge for his claim (perhaps because it would have seemed too partisan to directly link to Allen's campaign website). What will he do with the knowledge that Drudge apparently endorses the new Bush assassination movie?


Posted by Terry K. at 3:52 PM EDT
Black History Is a Religion?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an Oct. 27 WorldNetDaily article on an upcoming vote in Boise, Idaho, on whether to restore an Ten Commandments monument to a city park, Bob Unruh reports without challenge a claim by a supporter of restoring the monument that a monument to Anne Frank and a black history museum are "religious":

[Brandi] Swindell noted that the recent attack on religious monuments extended only to Christianity: a monument to Anne Frank and a Black History Museum remain in the same park from which the Ten Commandments were banned.

"To me that's religious bigotry," she said.

What does black history have to do with religion? Why is honoring a victim of political genocide a "religious" monument? Unruh doesn't explain.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:39 AM EDT
MRC Writers Swallow Bush Claims on Economy
Topic: Media Research Center

An Oct. 25 article by Amy Menefee and Julia A. Seymour at thte Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (and teased in an Oct. 26 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd) promotes misleading economic figures issued by the Bush administration.

Menefee and Seymour repeat without challenge the administration's claim that it created "6.6 million new jobs since August 2003." But, as Media Matters points out, by conveniently setting the baseline at August 2003, they ignore the fact that there was a net loss of 2.6 million U.S. jobs from February 2001 through July 2003. Thus, throughout the Bush presidency, there has been a net gain of only 3.2 million jobs.

Menefee and Seymour also appear to be guilty of selective reporting in claiming that "hourly compensation in non-farm businesses increased 7.7 percent from last year, according to a September 6 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics" and that "even The New York Times reported a “surge in wage-and-salary income in the first half of this year” on August 31." But the Times also reported on August 28 that in terms of real wages -- wages adjusted for inflation -- the median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003.

Then, to confuse the issue even further, Menefee and Seymour spend several paragraphs on a Forbes article detailing how much median income has risen since the 1960s and "the many luxuries the American middle class now enjoys." Well, of course wages have increased over 40 years, but that's irrelevant to the issue at hand -- unless the issue at hand is making President Bush look good.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:17 AM EDT
Thursday, October 26, 2006
WND: Michael J. Fox 'Immoral,' 'Outrageous'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From an Oct. 26 WorldNetDaily article plugging the new Hollywood-bashing edition of its Whistleblower magazine:

The spectacle of Michael J. Fox, writhing with Parkinson's Disease, campaigning for Democrat politicians pushing taxpayer-funded embryonic stem-cell research is just the latest example of a stunning trend: With rare exceptions, Hollywood celebrities always seem to champion outrageous or immoral positions on crucial national issues, and to aggressively use their social power and prestige to advance such agendas. 


Posted by Terry K. at 10:22 PM EDT
Corsi Responds
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We asked some questions of WorldNetDaily columnist Jerome Corsi regarding his relationship with Ken Blackwell; Corsi uses his Oct. 26 column to respond.

We respond to Corsi's response here


Posted by Terry K. at 2:55 AM EDT
New Article #2: Who's On the Payroll?
Topic: The ConWeb
ConWeb writers promote their (Republican) candidates so much, they may as well be employed by the campaign. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:24 AM EDT

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