The headline the Associated Press put on an Oct. 15 article: "Clinton Would Offer Iran Incentives."
The headline NewsMax put on it: "Hillary Goes Soft on Iran."
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
AIM's Gore Derangement Syndrome
Topic: Accuracy in Media
The New York Times' Paul Krugman has a column today headlined "Gore Derangement Syndrome." The latest victim of this affliction on the ConWeb side is Accuracy in Media's Roger Aronoff.
Aronoff starts off his Oct. 12 column by claiming that the Nobel Peace Prize is "a joke, something that should be fodder for late-night comedians" because Al Gore won it. He then joins the ConWeb parade of citing a British court ruling that found "11 inaccuracies" -- apparently it's nine now; can't the right-wingers get the statistics right? -- though unlike, say, Noel Sheppard, Aronoff did actually note that the court also found that the film was "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact."
Aronoff also asserted that "Gore's history of lying could also be fair game" should he decide to run for president. As evidence, Aronoff notes that "AIM previously published the '17 Lies of Al Gore.'" Well, one of ConWebWatch's very first acts upon its founding was to debunk a significant portion of that article. In it, Reed Irvine had listed among the "lies":
As we pointed out, he never claimed to "uncover the pollution at Love Canal," only to hold the first congressional hearings on it; he was merely repeating what he thought a reporter had written about "Love Story" (and Gore did indeed serve as a model for one of the characters); and no less than Vinton Cerf, the guy who arguably did create the Internet, said that "I think it is very fair to say that the Internet would not be where it is in the United States without the strong support given to it and related research areas by the vice president in his current role and in his earlier role as senator."
Aronoff then tries to downplay AIM's error-filled history on this, claiming that a Vanity Fair article noting the inaccuracy of the attacks against Gore boiled down to "nitpicking the media about misquoting Gore on creating or inventing the Internet." But nowhere does Aronoff mention that AIM called Gore's proclaimed involvement in the Internet a lie -- a claim that itself is a lie.
That's a strange stance for someone working for an organization called Accuracy in Media to take.
Vox Day: Jews 'Have Worn Out Their Welcome'
Day writes that the apology sought from Coulter by "left-wing Jewish interest groups" "would appear to be an extraordinarily silly demand, except for the fact that Vanity Fair has recently announced that a remarkable 51 percent of the Vanity Fair 100 Power List are Jewish in a country in which Jews make up approximately two percent of the population. Jews also make up seven percent of the current House of Representatives, 13 percent of the Senate, and, according to John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of 'The Israel Lobby,' roughly 100 percent of George W. Bush's foreign policy advisers." Day adds:
Day's column is a bit muddled. He appears to support Israel, but dislikes the Israel lobby: "As for Israel's survival, not only are the Israeli Defense Forces perfectly capable of defending the nation against a fourth-rate military power like Iran, but it has the Lord God of Israel on its side. Israel simply doesn't need the U.S. military to fight its battles for it." But Day's writing that "Jews have worn out their welcome in literally dozens of countries over the centuries" seems to condone at some level actions taken against Jews. Is that what he really wants to say?
Then again, this is a guy who served up the Holocaust as a positive precedent for dealing with illegal immigrants.
UPDATE: Vox says the "left-wing Jewish interest groups" aren't demanding an apology from Coulter; the spokesman he cited is demanding that TV shows "stop inviting Ann Coulter to comment on politics." Duly noted; a call for an apology would be futile anyway, since Coulter apologizes for nothing she says and has willing defenders for it all. Vox also goes on to explain his stance on things Jewish ("generally pro-Jew and pro-Israel," not so much the "Israel lobby"), which still doesn't quite explain why he decided to assert that "Jews have worn out their welcome in literally dozens of countries over the centuries."
CNS' Misleading Questions to Congress
We've noted that CNSNews.com has taken to Capitol Hill to ambush congressman with questions (starting out by hitting them up on the underground subway system that links the Capitol to congressional office buildings). CNS has been keeping it up, and the questions have become more slanted and less reflective of reality.
An Oct. 11 article by Monisha Bansal on a congressional battle over whether to grant retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who cooperated with the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program reported: "Cybercast News Service hit Capitol Hill Wednesday to ask members of Congress if they would support giving the companies immunity, with the following question: 'Should the government ever prosecute communications companies for helping the government intercept international communications with suspected al Qaeda links in the years after 9/11?'"
The wording of the question -- which fails to mention the words "retroactive" and "illegal" -- ignores the fact that the telecom companies wouldn't need immunity if the behavior in question wasn't illegal. It also ignores the flip side of that: allegations that telecom companies such as Qwest were retaliated against by the federal government because they refused to cooperate.
Similarly, an Oct. 3 article by Monisha Bansal and Nathan Burchfiel on the amending of a defense authorization bill to extend hate crimes legislation to cover sexual orientation and gender identity noted, "Some observers think the hate crimes legislation goes beyond criminalizing actions and actually criminalizes points of view." Who are those "some people"? Bansal and Burchfiel don't tell us. Then they forwarded their question of the day: "On Tuesday, Cybercast News Service hit Capitol Hill to ask members of Congress if the government should criminalize points of view and which views should be criminalized."
Nowhere did Bansal and Burchfiel note -- as the Democratic members of Congress the questioned pointed out -- that the amendment has an religious exemption.
CNS' goal with these ambush interviews, as we noted, appears to be to catch liberal politicians making an embarassing off-message statement. Otherwise, the questions would be more factual and balanced.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Michelle Malkin Is 'Center-Right'?
An Oct. 13 NewsBusters post by Tom Blumer criticized the Wall Street Journal for its "antagonism" toward "center-right blogs" in an editorial pointing out that "conservative bloggers" had "claimed the Frost kids shouldn't have been on Schip in the first place. As it turns out, they belonged to just the sort of family that a modest Schip is supposed to help."
Now, the leading attack dogs against the Frost family have been Michelle Malkin (last seen skulking around the Frosts' Baltimore to see if it was too ritzy for SCHIP) and Dan Riehl (last seen smearing the Frosts as "a couple of mostly spoiled brats who became parents and never felt compelled to take responsibility for themselves"). On what planet are these folks "center-right"? Blumer's, apparently.
Refusing to concede that his right-wing compatriots went too far and peddled false claims in attacking the Frosts, Blumer himself contributes to the smear by repeating unverified claims about the Frosts' vehicles:
Of course, he has no way of knowing if the vehicles were bought used, so he maliciously presumes they were all bought new. So what should the Frosts be permitted to drive instead? How much must they be limited to spending on transportation? Blumer does not offer an answer.
Blumer overlooks one important point, as Greg Sargent notes: "When even the chronically dishonest WSJ editorial page denounces you for dishonesty on an issue it more or less agrees with you about, you're pretty far around the bend."
Sheppard Inconveniently Misleads Miller
NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard carried his misinformation campaign against Al Gore to Dennis Miller's radio show, repeating the claim that a British court found "nine material scientific falsehoods" in the Al Gore film "An Inconvenient Truth" without mentioning that the court also found that “four main scientific hypotheses" in the film are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC” or that one of the alleged "falsehoods" is a false conflation of two unrelated statistics. Sheppard also claimed without evidence that Gore's only motivation for making the movie was to cash in on Hurricane Katrina -- a longtime Sheppard smear against Gore -- which even Miller was compelled to correct.
From the Oct. 12 edition of Miller's show:
In an Oct. 13 NewsBusters post containing the audio, Sheppard frets that "I've debated whether or not this should be posted" out of concern over "seemingly shameless self-promotion." We have to wonder if perhaps Sheppard's real concern is that we, his biggest fans, would call him out on yet more false and misleading claims.
CNS' Biased Reporting on Gore's Nobel Peace Prize
In yet another sign that CNSNews.com's agenda is shifting toward more biased journalism, its coverage of Al Gore receiving the Nobel Peace Prize comprised largely of criticism of the award.
Over the course of three articles published on Oct. 12, CNS made no apparent effort to contact any supporter of Gore, quoting only from news articles for quotes from Gore and the Nobel citation, a "statement congratulating Gore" from the Sierra Club, and a full-page ad in the New York Times encouraging Gore to run for president.
The bulk of the articles, meanwhile, feature comments from no less than eight "critics of Al Gore" and "skeptics of man-made climate change" -- Steven Milloy, Timothy Ball, Patrick Michaels, Myron Ebell, Iain Murray, Amy Ridenour, Mario Lewis, and the MRC's Business & Media Institute. Most of these are described as having "told Cybercast News Service" their comments.
How such slanted covereage serves CNS' self-described mission to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story" was not addressed by CNS.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
WND Channels Stephen Colbert
This paragraph in an Oct. 12 WorldNetDaily article on David Horowitz's defense of Ann Coulter's remark that Jews need to be converted to Christianity and that Christians are "perfected Jews" stood out to us (since it mentions our employer):
In other words, the problem is not that Coulter said what she said; the problem is that Media Matters accurately quoted what she said and served them up for wider distribution. Or, as Stephen Colbert put it: "Hatemongers like Media Matters take innocent statements like mine, Rush Limbaugh's, John Gibson's, and Bill O'Reilly's and make them offensive by posting them on the Internet, allowing the general public to hear words that were meant for people who already agree with us. Hey, Media Matters, you want to end offensive speech? Then stop recording it for people who would be offended."
And if Media Matters is a "pro-Democrat lobby," that must mean that the Media Research Center is a "pro-Republican lobby."
Indeed, WND appears to have no problem with what she said. In today's reader poll asking, "What are your thoughts on Ann Coulter's comments about Jews becoming Christians?" two responses lead by a landslide: "Ann had the courage to speak the truth – God bless her!" and "The attacks against her show how hostile American culture has become toward the Christian evangelical outlook."
The poll also serves up another possible response: "Ann underestimated the extreme sensitivity of Jews – she could have explained herself a little better." Yeah, when one's religion has been the target of a couple of millenia of eliminationist rhetoric -- which, in essence, is what Coulter is spouting -- as well as outright genocide, it does make one unreasonably sensitive.
Farah Still Mum About CNP Ties
An Oct. 12 WorldNetDaily column by Joseph Farah referenced "James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and representatives of other Christian groups got together in Salt Lake City, pledging not to support a Republican nominee who was not 'pro-life,' " to which Farah added parenthetically: "another huge national story broken first, by the way, right here in WND."
As we pointed out upon the appearance of the original article, the reason this story was "broken first" at WND is because Farah attended the Council for National Policy meeting at which this was discussed -- a meeting which other media were barred by CNP officials from covering and the public was barred from attending. It's not exactly a scoop if nobody else is permitted to cover it.
Farah's coziness with the CNP almost certainly means that the CNP told Farah to some extent what he could write -- a major violation of journalistic ethics, as his Farah's refusal to disclose to his readers that he did, in fact, attend the CNP meeting in the first place. Instead of bragging about "another huge national story broken first," Farah needs to explain to his readers why he belongs to such a secretive group and how he has ingratiated himself to the extent that he coordinates these so-called "scoops" with the group's leadership.
Friday, October 12, 2007
WND Joins Parade of Inconvenient Misreporting
Joining Noel Sheppard and CNSNews.com in failing to fully report a British court's ruling on the Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" is WorldNetDaily, which claimed in an Oct. 12 article that "a British High Court ruling that found 11 serious inaccuracies in the documentary." In fact, as even Sheppard was forced to admit, the court found nine inaccuracies.
WND fails to report the complete ruling, which stated that that "four main scientific hypotheses" put forward in "An Inconvenient Truth" are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC."
CNS: Deutsch Faking His Offense at Coulter Remarks
An Oct. 12 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones rather unsubtly suggests that CNBC's Donny Deutsch is faking his offense at Ann Coulter's remark that "We just want the Jews to be perfected."
Jones wrote that "Coulter later told Deutsch, who claimed to be personally offended, that she did not mean to offend him." Later, Jones added: "NBC's Today show interviewed CNBC's Deutsch in person on Friday morning, stoking his professed outrage to keep the controversy going."
Nowhere does Jones note that there is, in fact, a legitimate reason for Deutsch to have been offended by Coulter's remark: As he told Coulter, Deutsch is Jewish. And nowhere does Jones note that Coulter herself has a financial interest to create and "keep the controversy going": she has a new book out.
CNS Inconveniently Misreports British Court Ruling on Gore Movie
An Oct. 12 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall featuring attacks on Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize by his "critics" incompletely reported on a British court ruling. Hall writes:
But Hall didn't report the full ruling from that case -- that the judge also ruled that "four main scientific hypotheses" put forward in "An Inconvenient Truth" are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC." As we noted, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard similarly misreported the ruling. (We also noted that one of the purported "material falsehoods" is a false conflation of two different calculations.)
Hall also wrote: "Then on Thursday, the BBC aired a report claiming that Gore knew his 'alarmist' movie presented 'false facts,' because he feared any uncertainty in his film would only fuel opponents of global warming regulation." In fact, the video report Hall cites -- which is about the above court ruling -- makes that assertion without any supporting evidence, something Hall presumably would not let stand had such a statement been made about a pet conservative cause.
Sheppard Peddles More Misleading Gore Claims
Noel Sheppard just can't stop peddling misleading claims about Al Gore.
In an Oct. 9 NewsBusters post, Sheppard claimed that "a British court has determined that Al Gore's schlockumentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' contains at least eleven material falsehoods." Sheppard, as he frequently does, credits Marc Morano for this information. But at least one of those purported "material falsehoods" is misleading.
Sheppard regurgitated: "The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration." In fact, Sheppard is trying to conflate two different calculations: Gore predicted a 20-foot (7m) rise in sea levels if the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets were to melt completely or collapse at an indefinite point in the future. The 40 cm (23 inches) figure comes from a February 2007 United Nations IPCC report, which projected a maximum 23-inch sea-level rise before 2100 as a result of rising temperatures.
But two days later, Sheppard posted a "correction": apparently, the judge "listed only nine key scientific errors" in the movie. Sheppard doesn't explain who is to blame for the error -- the right-wing think tanks for whom Sheppard serves as a stenographer or Sheppard himself pulling false claims out of a certain bodily orifice. Sheppard tried to cover up his faulty reporting by hurling insults, calling the movie "this piece of detritus that should never have been allowed by the Motion Picture Association of America or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be marketed as a documentary."
Funny thing, though: Sheppard doesn't report what else the judge ruled about "An Inconvenient Truth." As reported by the London Times (via Fox News, so it must be true):
Oops! And especially oopsie after Sheppard lectures the press to tell the full story lest they are "abdicting their solemn responsibility to the public in order to advance an agenda." For Sheppard, though, telling his readers the full truth about this case was too, um, inconvenient.
Sheppard keeps up his fictitious slant in an Oct. 11 post on a conservative group asking that the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences revoke the Oscars "An Inconvenient Truth" won, he noted that "only Investor's Business Daily and the Washington Times reported the errors in Gore's film to American print readers." But Sheppard again failed to report to his readers that the film's four main hypotheses are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC.”
Color us unsurprised.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Suddenly, NewsBusters Loves Tabloid Journalism
NewsBusters used to hate tabloid journalism:
But now that a tabloid is reporting something NewsBusters wants to hear, they want more. An Oct. 10 post by Jason Aslinger happily reports that "Ann Coulter did her best to drop a bomb on the October 10 episode of 'Tucker' " by repeating a National Enquirer claim that "John Edwards had an 18-month affair while on the campaign trail." While Aslinger does note that "this allegation must be met with a healthy degree of skepticism," he nevertheless demands that the media cover it anyway:
In other words, NewsBusters was against tabloid journalism before it was for it.
The more interesting question, though, is this: Will the rest of the ConWeb -- which has either embraced or denounced the tabloids as it suited their agenda -- pick up on the claim? NewsMax in particular has had a flip-flopping relationship with tabloids.
Jeffrey Misleads on Waterboarding
The headline of an Oct. 10 CNSNews.com column by Terry Jeffrey asks, "Is Waterboarding Ever Right?" then scares and misleads to suggest it is.
Jeffrey starts by serving up two hypotheticals to compare. The first is of a soldier who shoots a suicide bomber; the second, which suggests Jeffrey has watched way too much "24" and has worn out his copy of "Black Sunday," offers up that "al-Qaida cell has hidden a bomb inside the stadium where tens of thousands will gather that day for the Super Bowl," learned when "A caller in Pakistan dials a number in the United States. A U.S. spy satellite intercepts the call; an NSA computer records it," though "the computer has no warrant and no probable cause to believe this call will produce evidence of a crime." Jeffrey then tells of "Madame President" receiving purported counsel on the situation from "Attorney General Charles Schumer," who says, "They intercepted this guy's call without a warrant," and "National Security Advisor Sandy Berger," who "nods knowingly."
But Jeffrey doesn't mention that the FISA law under which such calls would be monitored allows the government to receive warrants retroactively.
Jeffrey then writes:
But by focusing only on a single news report on Mohammed that said what Jeffrey wanted to hear, he conveniently ignores questions about the effectiveness of coercive interrogation techniques -- including waterboarding -- used on Mohammed and others. Media Matters noted that an Aug. 13 August New Yorker article on the CIA's interrogation program reported that "even supporters" of the CIA's interrogation and detention program "acknowledge that much of the information that coercion produces is unreliable" and that "[w]hen pressed, one former top agency official estimated that 'ninety per cent of the information was unreliable.' " During Mohammed's interrogation, the article adds, he "claimed responsibility for so many crimes that his testimony became to seem [sic] inherently dubious":
Jeffrey concludes by innocuously describing the waterboarding of Mohammed as "pouring water on Mohammed's head."
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