NewsMax joins the ConWeb crowd running to Rush Limbaugh's defense in an Oct. 1 article.
After noting that "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has urged senators to sign a letter calling on Rush Limbaugh’s syndicator to repudiate Rush for calling troops who speak out against the Iraq war 'phony soldiers,'" the article stated that "Rush counterattacked by pointing out that Reid took that comment drastically out of context," adding:
The fact is, Limbaugh pointed out on the air that the “phony soldiers” he referred to were just that – Americans who falsely claim they have been in the Armed Forces and in some cases say they have been to Iraq.
He was specifically referring to Jesse Macbeth, who appeared in a widely seen YouTube video in which he claimed he had been a corporal serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded a Purple Heart. He also described how he and other U.S. soldiers had killed innocent civilians there.
His comments were translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet.
But it was all a lie, Rush said. He had never served in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, he had been discharged from the Army after several weeks of basic training.
“I was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment, Jesse Macbeth,” Rush told his listeners.
NewsMax did not note that nearly two minutes elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment -- said in response to a caller talking about those opposing the Iraq war who "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media" -- and his first mention of MacBeth. In fact, Limbaugh never explicitly linked his "phony soldiers" comment to MacBeth at the time, doing so only after the fact, while defending himself against the outcry caused by his statement.
CNS Signs On to Latest Anti-Abortion Tactic Topic: CNSNews.com
It looks like CNSNews.com has signed on to the anti-abortionists' current tactic: playing up isolated cases of problems at abortion clinics to imply that all abortion clinics are unsanitary.
An Oct. 1 article by Kevin Mooney focuses on a New Jersey clinic closed after state health officials found what Mooney described as "numerous, often morbid, violations."
WorldNetDaily has already reported on this clinic in a Sept. 28 article (and has similarly playedup questionable isolated incidents at other abortion clinics). The WND article also pointed out that this is indeed a specific tactic by anti-abortion activists: "[T]he pursuit of legal action against various abortion businesses also is being encouraged by pro-life concerns, because of the potential for damage to the industry."
Indeed, CNS' Mooney takes the regulatory approach; the lead of his article reads, "New Jersey health officials are not inspecting abortion clinics in that state regularly, apparently because they don't have the resources or the manpower." Mooney devotes much less space to state officials responding to the issue than he does to Marie Tasey, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, whom he quoted as saying, "The current elected officials in power all cater to [the abortionists'] agenda" -- a quote that appeared in the original headline for the article (it was quietly changed mid-morning of Oct. 1).
But Mooney, in focusing only on a single abortion clinic, is -- perhaps deliberately -- overlooking the larger issue. He writes:
The number of "ambulatory care" facilities -- which includes abortion clinics -- in New Jersey has grown from 590 to more than 1,000 in the past few years. Yet the health department's staffing has increased from 125 to 150 in the same period.
But Mooney offers no context for the violations he claims regarding the single abortion clinic vs. the total number of "ambulatory care" facilities. How many facilities that don't perform abortions have had problems? How many total abortion clinics are there in New Jersey? Mooney doesn't say. If there are widesprad violations to be found in other non-abortion "ambulatory care" facilities due to a lack of state regulation and enforcement, then singling out only a single abortion clinic is misleading and disingenuous.
The end of the article reads, "Part II of this story will be published in mid-October." Let's hope Mooney takes a more fair, more comprehensive approach to the issue next time.
Farah's Double Standard on Secret Meetings Topic: WorldNetDaily
In recent days, WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah has been railing against a group he described in a Sept. 20 column as "holding conferences on selling out America's infrastructure to foreign private concerns" after it allegedly barred WND from attending. "If these folks think we'll just leave them alone to conspire in secret about matters of public interest in this country, they have another think coming," Farah thundered. Farah followed up in an Oct. 1 column, again attacking this "secret meeting where plots are hatched to sell off pieces of America's infrastructure to foreigners."
But Farah hasn't told his readers what he's been doing for the past few days: taking part in a secret confab of his own.
Via Salon, we learn that Farah spent his weekend at a Salt Lake City meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive right-wing group that barred all media except friendly ones -- like WND -- from covering its activities. As the Salt Lake Tribune noted, "the only media in attendance will be executives from religious-oriented operations Good News Communication/The Christian Film & Television Commission, Salem Communications Corp. and the editor-in-chief of worldnetdaily.com, an online publication that routinely attacks gay rights, evolution and Democrats."
We've previously noted that Farah is a member of the CNP.
This explains why the only bit of news from the conference -- that evangelicals are threatening to bolt the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani is the presidential nominee -- first surfaced at WND. The Sept. 30 article did not have a byline and did not attribute its claims to anyone, nor did it note Farah's attendance at the CNP meeting -- despite the fact we can deduce that Farah was the source for all of this information (cleared with his CNP overlords, of course) and presumably wrote the article.
That Tribune article, by the way, also reported that Joe Cannon, a former state Republican chairman who recently became editor of the Mormon Church-owned Deseret Morning News, was scheduled to give a speech to the CNP. (What liberal media?) From the Tribune:
Cannon says he will try to interview and write about a few of the people attending, some of whom are friends from his lobbying days.
"I'm not pretending to cover the event," he said. "I believe I can do a service to the readers of our paper by talking to some of these people - and a lot of them are newsmakers."
But the policy council's director Steve Baldwin sees Cannon's invitation differently. "He is a speaker and is part of the program," Baldwin said in an e-mail. "We are closed to the media."
The article goes on to quote Kelly McBride of the journalism think tank the Poynter Institute:
"I have problems with journalists ever attending something and saying that it's not as a journalist or not acting as a journalist," says McBride. "Journalists need to be very clear - either stuff is on the record and it is open for being recorded or it's off the record.
"If it is off the record, there has to be a good journalistic reason," she said, such as protecting a whistle blower.
The bar is even higher when the attendees are public officials and former public officials, McBride said. "Whenever you have high-powered people who are paid by taxpayers, there is an even higher threshold to allowing those people control of what you cover."
Indeed, among those public officials in attendance is Vice President Dick Cheney. and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The Tribune also detailed the secrecy surround the gathering:
Members are told not to discuss the group, reveal the topics discussed in the closed-door meetings, or even say whether or not they are members of the organization.
"You're not supposed to be here," said a grinning Foster Friess, who was pleasant but steadfast in his unwillingness to talk about the group.
An attempted interview with Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum, was interrupted when a volunteer stepped in front of Schlafly and advised her she didn't have to talk to reporters and guided the conservative matriarch by the arm to her next event.
It appears that Farah's demand for openness about covering meetings of public importance doesn't apply to the ones he attends, where he reports only what they want him to report. Farah should explain his double standard to his readers.
Cal Thomas' Egomania About His Column Is Nothing New Topic: The ConWeb
Last week, Cal Thomas wrote a column challenging Media Matters' (my employer) new study depicting how the political balance of syndicated op-ed columnists in America's daily newspapers skews conservative. Specifically, he complained that the number of daily newspapers Media Matters counted regularly running Thomas' column doesn't comport with his own numbers:
Media Matters claims just 306 carry mine (it says 328 carry Will's), ignoring the real numbers by imposing the weekly or monthly frequency standard. Media Matters also apparently didn't count overseas newspapers or USA Today, America's largest circulation newspaper, in which I co-author a column twice monthly with my liberal friend, Bob Beckel. Media Matters asked for my client list to prove my claim. Nice try. Liberals would love to have such a list so they can conduct letter-writing campaigns to remove conservatives, in the name of tolerance, of course. While some columnists have been "rumored" to inflate their numbers (imagine that!), mine are accurate and have been since I started writing this column.
As Media Matters' Paul Waldman responded: "Thomas makes a claim, then refuses to provide evidence. We at Media Matters prefer to stick to the facts."
Thomas' egomania about the number of papers in which his column is printed is nothing new. Back in 2002, we detailed how Thomas teamed up with CNSNews.com and then-reporter Marc Morano to depict one newspaper's cancellation of his column as part of a a nefarious "house cleaning of conservatives at the paper" (even though the paper canceled a liberal columnist at the same time). Morano went on to quote anonymous sources as claiming that "all new hires by the paper have been 'non-conservatives' " and made no apparent effort to permit the newspaper respond to all the claims forwarded against it.
A Sept. 30 NewsBusters post promotes a rant by Mark Levin bashing Media Matters (my employer). Levin "tears in and questions their status as a non-partisan group," Stephenson wrote. "It sounds alot like the same arguement on the ACLU being non-partisan and getting tax payer dollars. Completely biased."
Media Matters, which they set up as a nonprofit, nonpartisan -- that's right -- tax-exempt organization. It's not allowed to get involved in politics. Not bipartisan -- none. It's not allowed to simply be an organization that advances an ideological war because you and I are subsidizing it. It's tax-exempt. And yet, they have never criticized a leftist talk show host on Air America, never. They have never criticized Keith Olbermann, never. And they only criticize the media when the media does a story that is unfavorable to the crime family leaders, which would be Hillary Rotten and BJ Bill Clinton. I believe they are in clear violation of the Internal Revenue Code, the 501(c)(3) status that's been conferred on them. I believe every time they file a tax return telling the government that "we're non-political, non-partisan" and that sign that tax return under penalty of perjury, I believe that they're committing perjury. If there was ever a lawsuit against this group, and there was full discovery of emails and phone logs and testimony under oath or in depositions, the whole game would be up and they they'd be exposed for what they are, which is a criminal enterprise in the sense that they are, in my view, violating the tax code.
Well, let's see ... the MRC is a 501(c)(3) group. It has never criticized a conservative radio host. It has never criticized Fox News for any reason other than being not conservative enough.
Swap the ideological labels in Levin's rant, and he's talking about the MRC. In other words, if Media Matters is a "criminal enterprise," so is the MRC.
Is this a line of reasoning you really want to pursue, John?
MRC Obscures Full Limbaugh Story, Ignores Own History On Giving Benefit of the Doubt Topic: Media Research Center
In a Sept. 28 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker defended Rush Limbaugh against the "misinformation" promoted "by the far-left Media Matters" that "Rush Limbaugh, on Thursday, had called military personnel who served in Iraq and oppose the war 'phony soldiers.'" (Like previous MRC defenders of Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly against my meanie employer, Baker relied in part on overheated posts by Radio Equalizer's Brian Maloney, yet again repeating Maloney's false assertion that Media Matters is "George Soros-funded.") But Baker glosses over the holes in Limbaugh's defense. Baker writes:
On his September 27 radio program, a caller asserted that the media “never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.” Limbaugh interjected: “The phony soldiers.” After the call, Limbaugh proceeded to recount:
Here is a Morning Update that we did recently, talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. They have their celebrities and one of them was Army Ranger Jesse MacBeth.
But -- as Media Matters pointed out when Limbaugh tried to pass off a selectively edited piece of audio of incident as the "entire" segment -- Limbaugh didn't do this "after the call." There was at least a minute and a half gap between Limbaugh's "phony soliders" comment and his first mention of MacBeth, the only "phony soldier" he mentioned by name during the entire show.
Baker then demanded that Limbaugh be given the benefit of the doubt:
At worst, who Limbaugh meant by “phony soldiers” was unclear and so any story should, at the very least, include Limbaugh's explanation and not just presume the hostile spin from a far-left group is a newsworthy take that cannot be contradicted in multi-minute segments with plenty of time to better inform viewers.
What is the MRC's record in similar cases? As we've documented, the most notorious case of the MRC acting worse than it accuses Media Matters of doing is its insistence in a 2005 CNSNews.com article that when Democratic strategist Paul Begala said " They want to kill us, particularly in this city, and New York, and some other places," "they" meant Republicans, not Islamic terrorists. When Begala protested that his words were misinterpreted, then-CNS editor David Thibault called Begala a liar: "There was nothing unclear about what Begala said, and he, as a pundit, should know that words matter. We quoted him accurately." When that argument became too untenable to sustain, Thibault resorted to attacking "Begala's unmistakable and outrageous coupling of terrorists and Republicans."
Begala got no benefit of the doubt from the MRC over an "unclear" statement. Why should it demand that Limbaugh get a pass?
MRC, Maloney Still Can't Get Facts Right Topic: NewsBusters
As it did with Bill O'Reilly, the MRC again farms out its defense of right-wing hosts saying controversial things -- this time, Rush Limbaugh calling anti-war members of the military "phony soldiers -- to Radio Equalizer's Brian Maloney.
In yet another overheated post, Maloney still can't get basic facts right. As he did in his defense of O'Reilly, Maloney insisted that Media Matters (my employer) is "George Soros-funded."
Brian, honey: It's not. And yo, MRC guys: "Research" is in the name of your organization; try it sometime. Coping false claims from bloggers -- even if they are your "friend" -- is not "research."
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch Topic: Media Research Center
A Sept. 28 appearance by the Media Research Center's Rich Noyes on "Fox & Friends" to tout the MRC's demand for CBS and CNN to apologize to Bill O'Reilly followed the template: no co-panelist with an opposing view, and the MRC is never identified as conservative.
Further, "Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy served as a cheerleader for Noyes' viewpoint, saying at one point: "CNN and CBS and MSNBC for that matter as well, why would they get in bed -- essentially, they've stopped reporting. You know, 'We're just going to be spoon-fed by this leftie outfit Media Matters.' " Ironically, he's saying that as he's being spoon-fed by a right-wing outfit.
WND Ignores Full Story of Gun Law Poster Boy Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh is headlined, "Ex-military to be denied gun ownership." That's wildly overstating the issue at hand; the article is about right-wing group Gun Owners of America's fight against a proposed law designed to put enforcement behind federal bans on gun ownership by those with certain mental health conditions. Nowhere does the article state that all "ex-military" would be "denied gun ownership" as the headline blares; rather, GOA head Larry Pratt is complaining that the law would bar gun ownership by "battle-scarred veteran[s] suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," without ever explaining why that's a bad thing.
Unruh went on to uncritically relate a GOA-promoted anecdote:
The GOA cited a recent Pennsylvania case to illustrate the dangers that would be presented.
It was an apparent "offhanded, tongue-in-cheek remark" made by Horatio Miller that got the case started. He allegedly said it could be "worse than Virginia Tech" if someone broke into his car, because of the guns there.
"It is not clear whether he was making a threat against a person who might burglarize his car, or if he was simply saying that the bad guy could do a lot of damage because of the guns he would find there," the GOA said.
Miller, with no criminal record and the holder of a concealed carry permit who had passed rigorous background checks, was ordered never to own or possess a gun again.
"I contacted the sheriff and had his license to carry a firearm revoked. And I asked police to commit him under Section 302 of the mental health procedures act and that was done. He is now ineligible to possess firearms [for life] because he was committed involuntarily," the district attorney reported.
"The comment Miller made was certainly not the smartest thing to say," said the GOA. "But realize, we don't incarcerate people for making stupid statements in this country – at least not yet."
In fact, Horasio Miller -- Unruh got his name wrong, apparently because GOA misspelled it -- is not unacquianted with law enforcement. From a June 23 article in the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News:
It wasn't until after Horasio Miller got in trouble at Harrisburg Area Community College that his neighbors on Green Street in Susquehanna Twp. started to come forward, police said.
Miller, 42, of the 3700 block of Green Street, was committed involuntarily for a mental evaluation after a 12: 30 p.m. Tuesday incident in which Harrisburg police said they found him inside HACC's Cooper Union Building with a 9mm pistol.
Yesterday, Susquehanna Twp. police got warrants for Miller's arrest, charging him with simple assault by physical menace, theft of services and a wiretapping violation, said Police Chief Rob Martin.
Since Miller was committed, police have gotten calls from his neighbors concerning his behavior, Martin said. "In the prior weeks, they were too afraid to call," he said.
Martin said police were told Miller pointed a gun at his landlord sometime in the past few weeks.
Police also served a search warrant on Miller's apartment yesterday, where they found evidence that he had "hacked" into the telephone box at the building and was getting free service, Martin said.
He said police also recovered evidence that Miller had been listening in on phone conversations of other tenants in the building.
Martin said Miller has not been released from the mental evaluation. "Whenever he's released, he will be released right into our custody," the chief said.
Miller's apartment was so dirty that the township has deemed it unfit for human habitation, police said. "It was horrendous," Martin said. "The dirt, the filth, mold, mildew."
Tuesday's incident started when a man, identified as Miller, approached a student in the college cafeteria and said he had guns in his car, police said.
"It would be worse than Virginia Tech if someone broke into my car. I have guns in the car," Fran Chardo, Dauphin County's first assistant district attorney, said the man told the student.
That student told an armed HACC security guard, who called police and watched the man until the officers arrived, HACC spokeswoman Tracy Mendoza said.
Miller, who is not a HACC student, was taken into custody after officers found a 9 mm handgun in his backpack, police said. Police later took a handgun from his car and two firearms from his home, authorities said.
The Dauphin County district attorney's office had the county sheriff revoke the permit Miller had to carry a concealed weapon.
Susquehanna Twp. police said they have been called numerous times about Miller by neighbors, some of whom said he would walk around outside wearing holstered handguns.
Martin said his officers have been called to Miller's apartment building 22 times since 2004.
Half of those calls were made by Miller for minor reasons, such as a lost cell phone or a recovered bicycle, but Martin said the other half were neighbors' complaints about Miller.
Miller was not charged or cited in any of those incidents, Martin said.
After Miller was taken into custody, chief HACC spokesman Pat Early sent an e-mail to the college staff explaining what happened. Early said he did not tell the students or the public about the incident.
"It was something that was handled quickly, quietly. There wasn't anything to tell," Early said.
So, contrary to the GOA's assertion, Miller did not lose his gun privileges merely for making a "stupid statement," and there was a clear reason he was "committed involuntarily."
We found this information about Miller pretty easily, and even got Miller's name right. Why didn't Unruh?
Dick Morris Non-Disclosure Watch Topic: Newsmax
For the second time in a week, Dick Morris has written a NewsMax column attacking Hillary Clinton. And, as with his previousHillary-bashingcolumns, neither of them disclose that Morris is actively working against Hillary's presidential campaign, which undermines his objectivity as a political analyst.
The Media Research Bill O'Reilly Defense Center Topic: Media Research Center
Taking a page from its Ann Coulter defense playbook, a Sept. 27 Media Research Center press release reports that Brent Bozell "is calling upon CBS and CNN to distance themselves from left-wing hate groups and apologize to Bill O’Reilly for their participation in the smear campaign against him, " further referencing "dishonest, far-left, hatemongering organizations such as Media Matters."
So, if Media Matters (my employer) is a "left-wing hate group," doesn't that make the MRC a right-wing hate group?
(Oh, and Bozell falsely claims that Media Matters is "funded by ultra-leftist billionaire George Soros." Doesn't anyone at the MRC do any actual research?)
Now that the Media Research Center has decided to defend Bill O'Reilly, it's time for the folks at NewsBusters to weigh in:
-- Ken Shepherd plays the distraction card by claiming that Keith Olbermann "made a cryptic crack that could be taken to be racially insensitive, if not racist." Missing is how exactly name-checking "Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles" is racist. And shouldn't Shepherd be providing the entire Olbermann transcript so it can be put in its full context?
-- Noel Sheppard endorses Tammy Bruce's defense of O'Reilly, while overlooking the irony of Bruce deploring "the left's" purported campaign to "demonize" those they disagree with while calling those she disagrees with "the Gestapo."
-- Mark Finkelstein seems to think it was OK for Al Sharpton to defend O'Reilly without actually having listened to what O'Reilly said.
-- Sheppard joins O'Reilly in warning against "factually inaccurate statements promulgated by leftwing websites and organizations," but he doesn't explain how O'Reilly's own words are "factually inaccurate."
Brent Baker's Double Standard Topic: Media Research Center
A Sept. 27 NewsBusters post (and CyberAlert item) by Brent Baker attacked coverage "pushed by a far-left group to suppress Bill O'Reilly over a supposedly racist remark." That "far-left group" would be Media Matters (my employer). Baker claimed one TV story " failed to identify the ideology of Media Matters."
If identifying a group's political ideology in the media is so important, why hasn't he or anyone at the MRC complained everytimeFoxNewsfailstoidentify an MRC spokesman who appears on it as conservative? Tim Graham certainly didn't demand it yesterday during his appearance on Neil Cavuto's show. Nor did Brent Bozell during his solo appearance on "Fox & Friends" earlier today.
Despite calling Media Matters' documentation of O'Reilly's remarks a "left-wing smear" (as if one can be "smeared" by one's own words), Baker makes no attempt to discuss or refute O'Reilly's remarks, instead copying-and-pasting a post from Brian Maloney's conservative blog Radio Equalizer hyperbolically declaring it "by far the most disgusting attempt at taking words out of context we've seen in a long time." Maloney (and Baker) cite Juan Williams' defense and support of O'Reilly as some sort of mitigating factor when Williams has been a longtime defender of O'Reilly and thus not exactly unbiased on the issue. Maloney also muffs basic facts, for instance, falsely calling Media Matters "Soros-funded."
In a Sept. 25 NewsMax column, Phil Brennan lashed out against the "mass hysteria over the alleged warming of the planet." He threw a bunch of numbers out to try and back it up. For instance:
Those evil deniers however, have taken the trouble to look at the facts instead of the propaganda from the U.N. and the rest of the global warming fanatics. They point out that the the anthroprogenic sources of CO2 account for exactly 0.11 percent of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. In other words, 99.89 percent of the greenhouse effect has not a damn thing to do SUVs, jet travel, backyard barbecues or any other human activity.
The folks at RealClimate have taken the trouble to look at the facts as well, and they pretty much debunk Brennan's numbers. Don't expect Brennan to report that, of course.