Over the last couple weeks, once again, I've seen WorldNetDaily referred to in all the major media as a "conservative website" or as a "conservative news site."
I can't help but scratch my head for two reasons over this knee-jerk description: How could something I created be "conservative" when I reject the label?
Because we read your website, Mr. Farah. And we have repeatedlydocumented WND's conservative leanings (and Farah's refusal to admit that WND is conservative).
The really funny thing about this column is: After Farah declares that he "reject[s] the label" of "conservative," he then passes judgment on people who he claims are not conservative. For someone who purported "reject[s] the label," he sure knows a heck of a lot about it.
Another Shocker: Newsmax Pans Book's Liberal Attacks Topic: Newsmax
In keeping with the dogs-and-cats-living-together nature of Christopher Ruddy's rapprochement with the Clintons, Newsmax continues to do the previously unthinkable. This time, it pans a book on Hillary Clinton for -- shock! -- forwarding poorly researched attacks on liberals.
A Nov. 1 review of Paul Kengor's book "God and Hillary Clinton" -- which lacks a byline and is credited only to "Newsmax Staff" -- did actually mostly praise the book, calling it "tantalizing and important" and asserting "[t]here is much to feast on and much to wonderfully digest in Kengor’s work." Surprisingly, the review points out that Kengor is a "professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, a highly Christian and conservative institution," which hints at where the book is coming from. Even more surprisingly, the review criticizes Kengor for rehashing non-substantive attacks on liberals:
When he sticks to the topic, he is good and clear and illuminating. When he goes after the usual suspects – Kerry, Bill Clinton, Gore, liberal feminist groups, the media, to name a few – devoting pages and pages to their issues, when only one or two paragraph would suffice to set up how those issue affect Hillary Clinton, it diminishes the final product and makes it difficult to find the wheat from the chaff.
He also slips into the habit of projecting without substantiation or in other cases stating something as if it is “wrong” but not explaining clearly why it is wrong. For example, why is it curious that people of different faith would choose to be married outside of a church – in affect, to begin a life together incorporating elements of both of their Christian religions? He constructs the Clinton’s decision to do that (albeit with a Christian minister) as suggestive of a lack of faith. But it misses the mark.
Likewise, he offers no proof – other than a few quotes from a lone pornographer – to support the assertion that electing Clinton would be a boon for that tawdry industry.
There is much convenient speculation on the part of the author, to add bulk to assertions – almost always in the realm of adhering to more potentially controversial aspects of Clinton.
A prime example is describing a six-week program for 400 gifted high school seniors in Arkansas, known as the “Governor’s School.”
Kengor details some of the school’s “post-modern and left-wing curriculum” and notes what was read by students or, when convenient, selects a controversial work that meets his criteria by noting that “in a 1971 work likely read by Governor’s School students.”
Such convenient extrapolations appear throughout the book; sadly, they are not necessary to make the point and, in fact, raise objective questions as to intent.
Newsmax criticizing a conservative book for not being objective? We're verklempt.
It was not all that long ago that NewsMax shamelesslypromoted whatever anti-Clinton book came down the pike. It's shocking to see Newsmax act like, well, a real news organization instead of a propaganda organ.
Remember ex-NewsBusters blogger Cinnamon Stillwell? Sadly, No! notes that she's all upset that, in Sadly, No!'s words, "a half-naked deranged man covered with paint who had an established penchant for burning down anything he could put a match to" made a half-hearted effort to burn down a church in San Francisco.
Apparently, Stillwell would have been much happier if the man had instead, say, tried to blow up a mosque or a congressman's office. 'Cuz she didn't exactly object when a right-wing Jewish extremist tried to do just that.
Huston Bites the Hand That Feeds Him Topic: NewsBusters
It's hard to imagine someone attacking a newspaper owned by Richard Mellon Scaife for not being conservative enough, but Warner Todd Huston manages to do just that in a Nov. 1 NewsBusters post. In it, Huston bashes Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for "sympathetically portray[ing] Hugo Chavez, the America hating dictator of Venezuela, as a victim attacked by mean American boycotters," regarding an article about local effects of a conservative boycott of the Venezuelan-owned oil company Citgo.
Huston goes on to claim that "the Trib-Review wants to help Chavez advertise his propaganda program of selling cheap heating oil to American citizens. Smooth, PT-R, very smooth." He then berates a local Citgo dealer who reminded customers that "they're dealing with local people" (indeed, Huston is too busy hurling insults to get the guy's name right -- it's Mark):
Sorry Mikey, but a real American would hope you lose every penny and have to close your business down... unless you want to buy your oil from a company that is not one of our biggest enemies, of course. It's called patriotism, Mikey. But apparently that is a word that you don't know the meaning of.
Finally, Huston launches into a full-fledged attack on Scaife's newspaper:
It seems clear that, with a libertarian leaning editorial board, patriotism hasn't much of a premium placed on it at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. And this is one of the failings of a libertarian point of view. It leaves no room for such trivial things as patriotism when business is to be conducted. That feeling, though, also leaves no room for taking into account the harm a foreign nation might do to us while conducting that business, as well (just ask the customers of GazProm). So, the PT-R, with it's acclaimed business oriented, libertarian mindset, doesn't care if Hugo Chavez gets a propaganda coup out of the consumers in Pittsburgh. The PT-R pays no mind to the support that such an effort gives a communist dictator who is a vocal enemy of the United States. Nice going Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Check your patriotism at the door and pump away.
As we've previously noted, Scaife-controlled foundations have given nearly $2 million to NewsBusters' parent, the Media Research Center, between 1997 and 2005, a few coins of which have presumably trickled down to Huston as compensation for his NewsBusters contributions.
We're pleasantly surprised that a conservative would break Ronald Reagan's 11th commandmant dare to criticize another conservative -- usually Huston is too busy being a sycophanticapologist for Fred Thompson -- let alone the guy who helps provide an outlet for said conservative's writing.
In his "Final Word" on Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced a fake news conference held by FEMA officials in the wake of the California wildfires. Not content to just say the staged conference was a bad mistake, Schieffer decided to be as arrogant and condescending as possible:
The fake FEMA news conference was merely a "bad mistake"? Drennen then goes for the equivocation card:
Schieffer went on to denounce the "softball questions" asked by FEMA employees who posed as reporters. It is interesting to note that Schieffer did not condemn ABC host George Stephanopoulos in similar fashion when the former Clinton advisor touted an email from the Clinton campaign during a discussion of the September 26 Democratic debate on "Good Morning America." It is also unlikely we will hear a word from Schieffer about MSNBC host and debate moderator, Chris Matthews, writing a campaign speech for Barack Obama one day prior to Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.
How are these equivalent situations? Unlike FEMA, Stephanopoulos and Matthews did not stage anything and present it as something it wasn't.
Going on to accuse Schieffer of not giving "any credit to FEMA for the successful response to the wildfires," Drennen concluded:
Well, FEMA did do a good job helping victims during this disaster, but the mainstream media has been determined to only look for what went wrong.
Is Drennen so ideologically wed to the Bush administration that he can't offer an honest criticism of an obviously stupid move and must denigrate those who do criticize it as "arrogant and condescending" people who "only look for what went wrong." Well, it was wrong, dude! Why shouldn't it be criticized? More importantly, why won't Drennen or anyone else at the MRC criticize it as anything harsher than a "mistake"? We suspect if this happened under a Democratic administration, we'd never hear the end of it from Drennen and the boys.
Shocker: Newsmax's Softball Interview With Bill Clinton Topic: Newsmax
No wonder Christopher Ruddy has been trying to downplay Newsmax's history of animosity toward the Clintons: He wanted to snag an interview with Bill Clinton.
In a move that will surely stun longtime Newsmax readers, Ruddy did, in fact, snag that interview -- and, if an Oct. 31 article is any indication, lobbed softballs at the former president. Ruddy writes:
There is no doubt Bill Clinton has broken the mold of what we expect from a former president.
And there is also no question that in the past Bill Clinton has engendered considerable controversy. But there should be little disagreement today that he is doing exemplary work and is acting as a positive force for the United States.
Ruddy notes that he "interviewed former President Clinton about his post-presidency. In this exclusive Newsmax interview, Clinton discusses his extensive charity efforts, repeats his call for mandatory AIDS testing in some countries, and vows that if Hillary is elected president, he 'will do whatever she asks me to do.' " Some of the less-than-harsh questions Ruddy asked of Clinton:
Your book “Giving” is just out and has soared to the top of the best-seller lists. Do you think you have touched a nerve among Americans who want to embrace the concept?
Do you feel the heart incident made you focused on your spiritual side? How has your own religious faith played a role in your global work today?
The AIDS crisis is a huge problem devastating Africa and other parts of the lesser-developed world. How is the Clinton Foundation making a difference?
Further, the new issue of Newsmax magazine has made Clinton its cover boy in what appears to be a mostly positive article on "the controversial political and cultural powerhouse who is redefining what it means to be an ex-president."
Indeed, Ruddy has mellowed considerably about the Clintons (even if Newsmax hasn't). As we've noted, Ruddy was quoted in February as saying, "Clinton wasn't such a bad president. ... In fact, he was a pretty good president is a lot of ways, and Dick [conservative moneybags and Newsmax financial backer Richard Mellon Scaife] feels that way today." In September, Ruddy praised Clinton's book "Giving." And just yesterday, Ruddy wrote of Hillary Clinton: "Today, Hillary does not generate the same animus she did during the 1990s. ... Running one of the leading Web sites for GOP readers in the nation, I know that Hillary does not evoke the anger she once did."
How is the He-Man Clinton-Haters Club -- of which Ruddy was once a prominent member and several Newsmax writers, like John LeBoutillier and Dick Morris, still hold card-carrying memberships -- going to take all this? Not well, we suspect.
Poe Distorts 'Bloggergate,' Ignores Breaches By Conservative Bloggers Topic: Newsmax
An Oct. 18 NewsMax article by Richard Poe asserted that "left-wing bloggers" are being subsidized "with illegal Democrat campaign contributions, laundered through ostensibly 'non-partisan' non-profit groups." But he distorts reality and ignores similar Republican practices in order to support his so-called "Bloggergate." Poe writes:
The first evidence of Bloggergate emerged in January 2005 when the two most prominent left-wing bloggers on the Internet — Jerome “The Blogfather” Armstrong of MyDD and DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas Zuñiga — both admitted to getting cash from Howard Dean's presidential campaign.
In fact, as Slate points out, Armstrong didn't blog for the six months that he was on Dean's payroll, and that Moulitsas "posted a somewhat grumpy disclosure on his site's front page during the same period." Slate adds: "If the two men were journalists, those disclosures would be woefully insufficient. But Armstrong and Moulitsas aren't journalists. Nor does having a blog make someone a journalist."
Further, Poe fails to mention that conservative bloggers have been "getting cash" from Republican campaigns as well. As we've noted, in 2004, two bloggers in South Dakota were paid a total of $35,000 by the campaign of John Thune, a Republican who was running for Senate. But unlike Armstrong and Moulitsas, neither provided any disclaimer on their blogs during the election that they were on Thune's payroll. Yet somehow, that's not "Bloggergate"-worthy as far as Poe is concerned.
Poe then wrote that "Republican blogger Michael B. Brodkorb of Minnesota, assailed by piranha-like swarms of leftist bloggers, revealed that his tormentors were on the take." But Poe doesn't mention that Brodkorb was "assailed" for a Bloggergate-like offense: while serving as a consultant for Senate candidate Mark Kennedy, Brodkorb used his blog to promote Kennedy's campaign and that of other Republican candidates for whom he consulted (but did not disclose to his readers) despite a previous assertion that he would not do so.
Poe also tries to smear the Center for Independent Media, the funder of the website that exposed Brodkorb's conflicts of interest (and which once shared office space with Media Matters, my employer). Poe described the CIM this way:
Because CIM fellowships expire after three months, CIM "fellows" are always on the hot seat. If CIM is satisfied with the blogger's performance, it will renew his fellowship. Otherwise, it will not. Plainly, CIM bloggers have much to gain if they toe the party line — and much to lose if they fail to satisfy their benefactors.
Poe offers no evidence that the CIM coerces its bloggers into "toeing the party line," as he suggests. (Also note that Poe has described the CIM-funded bloggers as "on the take" while Brodkorb was the victim of "piranha-like swarms" who merely pointed out that he was similarly, if not more egregiously, on the take.)
Despite Evidence, NewsBusters Still Insists Matthews Is 'Shill for the Democrats' Topic: NewsBusters
An Oct. 31 NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy begins: "It is no secret that Chris Matthews is a shill for the Democrats and adamantly opposed to the Iraq War." Well, not quite; as we've documented, Matthews repeatedly bashed President Clinton during the 1990s to the MRC's delight, and the MRC (and McCarthy as well, we presume) has ignored Matthews' more recent praise of President Bush, which counters McCarthy's assertion that Matthews is "a shill for the Democrats."
McCarthy also asserts that Matthews "accused the Bush administration of engaging in 'criminality'" without noting that this is a factually accurate statement, and "inquired if Rudy Giuliani is 'a little bit Fascist'" without noting that Matthews suggested that he endorsed Giuliani's brand of fascism -- an implicit endorsement of Giuliani that also belies McCarthy's "shill for the Democrats" claim.
Ruddy: 'Hillary Does Not Generate the Same Animus She Did During the 1990s' Topic: Newsmax
In an Oct. 30 NewsMax column, Christopher Ruddy tries to portray himself as the voice of conservative reason. In an attempt to "peel away this onion of misperceptions" on the idea that "Hillary so frightens the GOP base — they will come out in droves for [Rudy Giuliani] on election day," Ruddy writes:
Today, Hillary does not generate the same animus she did during the 1990s. She’s modified her positions and image. Running one of the leading Web sites for GOP readers in the nation, I know that Hillary does not evoke the anger she once did.
Which makes us wonder if Ruddy reads his own website. As we've documented, Newsmax remains a hotbed of Hillary hate, led by columnists Dick Morris, John LeBoutillier and Stephen R. Smith. Indeed, as we've repeatedlypointedout, Morris has continued to write column after column of attacks on Hillary's campaign without disclosing that he is also serving as an activist against her campaign, which discredits him as an impartial analyst of the 2008 election.
Is Klein Rooting for Olmert's Death? Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 29 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein claimed: "Palestinian terrorists today expressed frantic concern for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's health following media reports he would hold a news conference announcing the diagnosis of a medical ailment," prostate cancer. Klein claimed that "WND's Jerusalem bureau received calls from almost a dozen terrorists, including senior leaders, asking whether the online news agency had any information about Olmert's illness and expressing concern for the prime minister," but he offers no evidence to support the claim and quotes only an anonymous "leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades" allegedly expressing concern about Olmert.
If the "terrorists" want Olmert to live -- and given Klein's implication through his schmoozing-with-terrorists gimmick that we should want the opposite of what the terrorists want, as well as Klein's longtime hostility to Olmert to the point of trying to undermine his government during a time of war -- it's only reasonable to assume that Klein wants Olmert to die from his disease.
Will he be honest and forthright about that desire in his WND articles? Time will tell.
Huston Smears McGovern, Doesn't Understand AP Topic: NewsBusters
It started with John Stephenson's callousness toward illegal immigrants, and Hate Week at NewsBusters rolls on with an Oct. 30 post by Warner Todd Huston needlessly attacking a George McGovern museum merely because the Associated Press had an article about it.
Insisting that "A South Dakota museum devoted to the political career of far-left Democrat George McGovern registered 5,000 fewer visitors last year than a Wisconsin museum devoted to mustard," Huston writes, "why is the AP pushing this thing? Could it be because of their affinity for McGovern's extreme left views? Do they want to urge people to attend to be exposed to McGovern's failed ideas of the past?" concluding, "So, AP, I have to say, don't bother me with the loser from 1972."
What Huston is really saying, of course, is that in his perfect little media world, liberals would be ignored unless they could be disparaged.
Huston also exhibits a fundamental ignorance of how the AP works. AP is a cooperative, which means that a majority of items it distributes are generated by the newspapers, broadcasters and others who are AP subscribers. The McGovern story apparently began life as a Oct. 17 article ($) in the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic newspaper, and the AP merely picked up the article for redistribution on its wires. It can safely be assumed that the AP did not "push" this article any more than the hundreds of others AP distributes on any given day -- unless, of course, Huston is arguing there mere distribution is "pushing," which parallels the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy. In fact, individual news organizations make their own decisions on what specific AP copy to use or not use.
Further, given that this is a two-week-old story by a (presumed) AP affiliate, it's not exactly breaking news. Indeed, the Oct. 28 Chicago Sun-Times version of the AP article to which Huston linked shows that it was placed in the paper's travel section -- in other words, it was not used for political purposes but as a travel idea. And given the shortness of the item (four paragraphs), it was likely used as a filler article (if it indeed appeared in print, which is not clear from the web version of the article). Huston didn't tell his readers any of this.
Remember that reference to a mustard museum earlier? Huston wasn't done working that:
Sorry, AP, but that just isn't very much. I worked at a museum in my youth and 25,000 would have had us in tears.
So, here is a little perspective about the Mustard Museum I mentioned.
The Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin says that they welcomed 30,000 visitors last year. Yes, you read that correctly. A museum that showcases thousands of brands of mustard drew more people than the McGovern Museum.
A condiment is more popular than George McGovern.
Now, can we say that mustard has "a lot of friends around the country and world"?
How, exactly, does Huston's partisan smearing of McGovern fulfill the MRC's "media research" mission? We don't know either.
In an Oct. 29 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein complained that during an interview with Valerie Plame, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough "the name of the State Department official who first disclosed her identity was never uttered," whom Finkelstein claimed was Richard Armitage.
As we've repeatedlydocumented, Armitage was not the one who "first disclosed" Plame's identity. Karl Rove and Scooter Libby also leaked Plame's identity to reporters, and Robert Novak -- to whom Armitage leaked -- confirmed Plame's identity with Rove. Novak was merely the first to report Plame's identity, but that does not mean that Armitage was the first to disclose it.
We missed Aaron Klein's appearance on Fox News' "Red Eye," but he apparently did a good job of promoting his terrorist-chat schtick. (We suspect Klein was never asked about his own whitewashing of right-wing terrorists.) News Hounds has nominated one of Klein's statements for its "Outrageous Quote of the Week": "...not one US military, member of the military, was killed in Iraq for the first time since 2004 this past week, and almost no one's talking about it." and minutes later "In Iraq there were no casualties in the Al-Anbar Province last week, or in Iraq, US casualties..."