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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Kessler Still Hearts Waterboarding
Topic: Newsmax

The headline of a Dec. 10 Newsmax articles read, "Waterboarding Is Not Torture." The former article cites; The latter article rehashes Newsmax's Ronald Kessler's claims that "Torture is normally defined as the infliction of severe pain, and while waterboarding induces fear because it simulates drowning, it does not inflict pain" -- a claim that has been debunked -- and that "Waterboarding was used only when the CIA believed a second wave of terrorist attacks was imminent" and "the information they ultimately provided helped stave off attacks that could have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people" -- a questionable claim, as we also noted.

This article was juxtaposed in Newsmax's "Inside Cover" section by a wire article in which an interrogator of a suspect who was waterboarded called the technique torture.

So, who are you going to believe? A Bush fluffer who has an interest in downplaying waterboarding, or the guy who actually did the deed? 


Posted by Terry K. at 10:51 AM EST
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

A Dec. 10 appearance by the MRC's Rich Noyes on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" followed the template in that Noyes appeared solo, though O'Reilly did note that the MRC is conservative.

O'Reilly, in his "Talking Points Memo" section, mentioned the MRC's Dec. 4 "Media Reality Check" claiming that the networks have reduced their coverage of Iraq because the U.S. is doing better there, but he did not mention the Project for Excellence in Journalism study finding that Fox News' coverage of the Iraq war was much less than other cable networks at a time when the U.S. was doing badly there -- and, in fact, had covered Anna Nicole Smith more intensely than the war during that time. The MRC similarly makes no mention of the PEJ study in its report.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:27 AM EST
Timmerman Peddles Neocons' CIA Conspiracy Theory
Topic: Newsmax

With the revelation that the recently released National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran stopped developing nuclear weapons in 2003, conservatives have been frantically spinning those results. Chief among the spinners is Newsmax's Kenneth Timmerman, who has dragged a conspiracy theory into the mix.

In a Dec. 4 article, Timmerman claimed that the report "was coordinated and written by former State Department political and intelligence analysts — not by more seasoned members of the U.S. intelligence community" and that the claim that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program "is based on a single, unvetted source who provided information to a foreign intelligence service and has not been interviewed directly by the United States." Timmerman then goes on to bash each of the analysts he claims were responsible for the NIE.

Timmerman builds on the conspiracy in a Dec. 6 article, in which he claims that Republicans "suspect that 'shadow warriors' opposed to the president are skewing the intelligence for political ends." Gee, what a coincidence -- Timmerman just happens to have published a book called "Shadow Warriors" in he makes that very same claim. 

Timmerman goes on to quote an anonymous (of course) source as saying, "This is CIA pay-back to the president for having made them, not FBI, take the rap for the failures that led up to 9/11." 

The idea that doves in the intelligence community are deliberately undermining the Bush administration for political purposes underpins not only Timmerman's book but also Rowan Scarborough's book "Sabotage: America's Enemies in the CIA." Funny, we don't recall them considering the idea that the Bush aministration is acting with political motives as well. Noted neocon John Podhoretz has made a similar claim.

Timmerman and Scarborough, if you'll recall, teamed up to bash Michael Sulick, a longtime CIA official who fell out of favor under CIA director Porter Goss and returned to the agency after Goss left. Both Timmerman and Scarborough remain big supporters of Goss. (Scarborough, a reporter for the Washington Examiner at the time, wrote a less inflammatory article a few days later, then "retired" from the Examiner shortly afterwards.)

The funny thing about that is that Newsmax's Ronald Kessler -- himself no slouch in the Bush-fluffing and CIA-lionizing department -- has his own version of the Sulick episode that doesn't quite jibe with that of fellow Newsmaxer Timmerman. In a Dec. 8 article claiming that the person responsible for destroying CIA tapes of coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects was Jose Rodriguez Jr., the head of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations under Goss, Kessler wrote:

At the same time, some CIA operatives suggest that Rodriguez felt he could get away with ordering the destruction on his own because CIA management was so dysfunctional under Goss. Goss surrounded himself with a tight circle of former Capitol Hill aides who engaged in ego battles with widely admired and successful CIA officers.

 One example was Stephen R. Kappes, a former Moscow and Kuwait Station chief who played a pivotal role in secret talks that led Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya to give up his program to develop weapons of mass destruction. Kappes resigned from the CIA when Patrick Murray, who was chief of staff to Goss, ordered Kappes to fire his deputy, Michael Sulick, after Sulick criticized Murray over the nasty way he had treated another CIA officer. [Goss replacement Michael] Hayden has since brought Kappes back to the agency, promoting him to deputy director.

Hmmm. That's not the story Timmerman and Scarborough told. Will we see an intra-Newsmax war over just how much Goss sucked as DNI?


Posted by Terry K. at 1:24 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2007 12:35 AM EST
Monday, December 10, 2007
Will WND Tell Its Readers Killer Was Homeschooled?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

(Updated)

We're learning more about Matthew Murray, the man believed to have killed four people outside a Colorado church and at a missionary training school. The AP is reporting:

Matthew Murray lived there along with a brother, Christopher, 21, a student at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla. In a search warrant affidavit, investigators said Matthew Murray attended a home-based computer school and had worked at his computer for three to five hours a day for the past two years.

A neighbor, Cody Askeland, 19, said the brothers were home-schooled, describing the whole family as "very, very religious."

Meanwhile, a Dec. 10 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh also includes information on Murray's background -- but not the fact that he was homeschooled.

As we've detailed, WND has a problem reporting on homeschoolers gone bad, even though it is eager to report bad news about public (government) schools. Also, as we've noted, Unruh's own children are homeschooled (as are WND editor Joseph Farah's), so he's as unlikely to report bad news about them as he is likely to defend them.

UPDATE: A Dec. 11 unbylined WND article ever-so-briefly notes that Murray was homeschooled, but it's buried far down in the article, and it certainly doesn't dwell on the subject. The article goes on to quote from a discussion board what will likely be the way WND will explain away the homeschooling stuff: "Two words: DEMONIC POSSESSION."

We've previously noted how WND blamed Andrea Yates' killing of her children on her use of antidepressants, ignoring that Yates and her husband were followers of an ultra-fundamentalist street preacher. 


Posted by Terry K. at 10:50 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 12, 2007 11:25 AM EST
Gore Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 10 WorldNetDaily column by Joseph Farah noting a "United Kingdom court ruling smacking down Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' as shameless political fantasy unfit for schoolchildren" praised the person under whose name the suit was filed as "the UK parent-hero, Stuart Dimmock," who is "one obscure parent who battled, like David vs. Goliath, the national education establishment in the United Kingdom and won!"

This continued a theme Farah established in his Dec. 8 column, in which he called Dimmock "the father of a secondary school student who would have been victimized by the decision of the education bureaucrats. May God increase his flock."

Farah then attacked Gore for pointing out the forces behind Dimmock's lawsuit:

[W]hat Al Gore did was to make scurrilous and unsubstantiated accusations about the concerned parent who brought the case to court, at some personal sacrifice, to protect his child from the mental abuse of being forced to watch "An Inconvenient Truth."

Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider questioned in a Washington Post online blog whether Dimmock paid for his legal expenses himself or got help from others. Since she could not determine the answer to this question puzzling her, she determined that Dimmock's "motives are quite suspect."

If this is not a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I don't think I've ever seen one.

But as we've pointed out -- and Farah didn't -- Dimmock did, in fact, have some powerful interests behind him: The UK Observer reported that Dimmock's case was supported by a powerful network of business interests with close links to the fuel and mining lobbies, as well as conservative British politicians.

Farah also fails to note that the British judge who ruled on the scientific "errors" also found (as we noted) that "An Inconvenient Truth" is "broadly accurate" in its presentation of climate change and that "four main scientific hypotheses" put forward in the film are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]." WND similarly failed to note this in its original report on the ruling, which erroneously claimed that 11 inaccuracies were found (only nine were).


Posted by Terry K. at 12:01 PM EST
Updated: Monday, December 10, 2007 12:14 PM EST
Sheppard Still Lacks Evidence for Greedy Gore Hypothesis
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard had an easy time of writing the headline for a Dec. 9 post: He just lifted it from the British Daily Mail article he cites. And the hed -- "Gore Criticised for Lining His Own Pockets" -- just happens to fit in with Sheppard's big conspiracy theory, that Al Gore doesn't care about acrtually fighting global warming and is an activist merely for the money. It's a claim for which, as we've noted, Sheppard has yet to provide any solid evidence, and he offers none here, despite a headline tailor-made for him.

Sheppard gleefully reported the claim in the Daily Mail article that a speech Gore gave in Britain was boring and he "was being very precious and demanded his own VIP room before the event." Sheppard exclaimed in response: "How long has NewsBusters been telling you that this whole charade is about Gore getting rich?" adding, "When will people learn that the only cause Al Gore has ever been concerned with is himself?"

But Sheppard doesn't note that the Daily Mail is a right-wing paper and the person the Daily Mail quoted making the accusation is anonymous, so this is yet another example of dubious evidence that doesn't exactly support his claim of Gore's purported greediness.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:30 AM EST
Sunday, December 9, 2007
AIM Still Trying to Smear WaPo Reporter
Topic: Accuracy in Media

More than two years after the Washington Post's Dana Priest first reported on the existence of secret CIA-run prisons for suspected terrorists, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize, Accuracy in Media is still attacking her reporting and engaging in personal attacks on her.

A Dec. 4 AIM Report -- unbylined, but probably written by Cliff Kincaid, Priest's chief AIM nemesis, as we've previously reported -- starts by going the personal-attack route, citing her speaking fees to assert that winning the Pulitzer "has been quite lucrative" for priest. AIM goes on to claim that Priest's story plagiarized the work of British journalist Stephen Grey, who had reported on the secret prisons a year and a half earlier.

AIM then swiftly undermines its own accusation:

Regarding Dana Priest of the Post, Grey told AIM that he had "no contact" with her prior to her Pulitzer Prize-winning "secret prisons" story and that he had "hardly worked" that angle before that point." He added that "…it would be hard to argue that I did her spadework. For the record, I think she richly deserved her Pulitzer." In the past, Priest has declined to comment on the identity of her sources of information. AIM left a telephone message for Priest, asking whether she was familiar with Grey's work before she wrote her "secret prisons" story.  She did not respond.

And, in true ConWeb fashion, AIM decided that what Grey told them is irrelevant:

The issue is not whether they had personal contact but whether Priest advanced the story beyond what Grey had already written, and whether their efforts have made Americans more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

For his part, Grey's book doesn't give Priest credit for uncovering very much. In fact, he notes only that Priest made a "specific allegation that Eastern Europe had been used for secret jails." This is hardly Pulitzer Prize-winning material.

It's clear that he doesn't credit her for breaking the "secret prisons" story because he believes he is the one who did so. In fact, Grey refers to his own May 17, 2004, New Statesman article as a "long piece" that uncovered "a whole network of terrorist prisoners."

So Grey's claim that he "hardly worked" the secret prison story seems mainly designed to avoid being tough on Priest for borrowing from his work on the subject.

AIM also replayed Kincaid's old semantics card -- that although the facilities in question were secret and people were imprisoned, they weren't really secret prisons -- bashing Priest's "tabloid treatment of the controversy" by "referring to places where terrorists were held as a 'covert prison system,' a 'hidden global internment network,' a 'secret detention system,' and 'secret prisons.'" AIM added: "She also referred to the CIA using 'a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe,' a clear attempt to imply that the U.S. had established a system of gulags." It's also a clear attempt to establish the fact that the CIA, uh, used a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe. It's a fact that even AIM itself doesn't dispute. Why shouldn't it be reported? And why does AIM apparently think such a simple, uncontested fact should be suppressed?


Posted by Terry K. at 11:22 AM EST
Saturday, December 8, 2007
NewsBusters Misleads on Prof's Hillary Link
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec. 7 NewsBusters post by Seton Motley attacks a politicial science professor who was not appropriately effusive about Mitt Romney's religion speech as a "Hillary plant" -- because, apparently, anyone who didn't call the speech the greatest thing since sliced bread must automatically be assumed to be on Hillary's payroll -- but he doesn't tell the full story.

Motley wrote that Costas Panagopoulos was "rightly (if only partially) identified as 'a political science professor at Fordham University,'" adding:

There is only one little problem with going to this guy for his thoughts on all things either Romney, Republican or Rodham: he is an ex-Hillary Clinton staffer.

How do we know this?  How did we ferret out this subterranean knowledge?  We checked his website's biography.  Second paragraph, first sentence.

We are positively exhausted after the extensive, laborious effort to track down this tidbit.

We checked the bio too, and it seems that Motley was too tuckered out from his effort to properly cite and put into context Panagopoulos' link to Hillary. From the bio:

Dr. Panagopoulos was selected by the American Political Science Association as a Congressional Fellow during 2004-2005, and he served in the office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).

What is the APSA congressional fellows program? It describes itself as "the nation's oldest and most prestigious congressional fellowship. ... For nine months, select political scientists, journalists, doctors, federal executives and international scholars gain 'hands on' understanding of the legislative process by serving on congressional staffs." The program as it applies to political scientists like Panagopoulos "give[s] early- to mid-career political scientists an opportunity to learn more about Congress and the legislative process through direct participation."

In other words, Hillary didn't hire Panagopoulos; he was on a research fellowship that placed him in her office, and it likely didn't matter to him which member of Congress he worked for. In fact, one could argue that it was in recognition of Panagopoulos' skills as a political scientist that he was placed with such a high-profile congressperson as Clinton. For Motley to dismiss Panagopoulos as a "Hillary plant" is disingenous and even false, since he offers no evidence that Clinton is sending Panagopoulos out to speak for her.

While Motley bashes Panagopoulos' "analytical stylings" on Romney's speech, he doesn't contradict any of them, and the one quote Motley cites -- in which he points out that Romney was trying "to placate voters who are apprehensive about him as a Mormon or as a flip-flopper" and added, "But I am not convinced he was successful in doing either" -- is not exactly a partisan observation.

We've previously noted Motley's cheap shots against journalists. If he keeps this up, he will earn himself a place with Mark Finkelstein, Noel Sheppard and Warner Todd Huston as the subject of a highly coveted NewsBusted profile.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 PM EST
WND Treats Another Misleading Folger Claim As Truth
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The last time WorldNetDaily treated columnist Janet Folger's claims as fact, we discovered that they actually ranged from highly exaggerated to utterly false. So when WND authoritatively cited Folger again, the logical thing to do is investigate whether Folger was exaggerating here too -- WND certainly won't do this, since it made clear its preference for right-wing talking points over the truth.

In a Dec. 7 article -- in which we previously pointed out its biased descriptions of an anti-discrimination law and an anti-gay preacher who opposes it -- WND stated:

WND columnist Janet Folger earlier warned in a commentary called "Pastors: Act now or prepare for jail," that in New Hampshire, a crime that typically carries a sentence of 3 1/2 years was "enhanced" to 30 years because a robber shouted an anti-homosexual name at his victim.

The article linked to an April 24 column in which Folger wrote:

Robbing someone outside a convenience store is a Class-B felony in New Hampshire, which typically carries a sentence of three and a half to seven years in state prison along with a $4,000 fine. But according to Assistant County Attorney Roger Chadwick, if convicted of a "hate crime" (shouting an anti-homosexual name), the sentence becomes "enhanced" by 23-26 1/2 years – turning a three-year sentence into a 30-year sentence.

Oh, and it's not a hypothetical. According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, John Guimond, 23, faced those charges. He was charged with stealing a cell phone from a homosexual man, 24, and his underage "male partner" (a statutory rape violation), after approaching them in a parking lot.

Stealing is a bad thing to do. But keep in mind, no weapon was used, no injury sustained. Just that mean name – something far, far worse. Think about it for a minute. If saying a mean anti-homosexual word adds an additional 23-26 ½ years to a sentence, and people live to around 80, that penalty is one-fourth of your life for the words you say. And while this was in addition to a robbery penalty, how much of a jump would it really be to penalize the speech "infraction" alone? And just what constitutes an "anti-gay epithet"? Would an "anti-gay epithet" be to say, "Homosexuality is a sin," or "Homosexuals should repent"? What if you informed someone that "Homosexuality is harmful to your health"? If I were you, I wouldn't try it in New Hampshire.

Folger fails to mention one important detail: Guimond was never sentenced on the hate-crime charge. As a March 10, 2005, Manchester, N.H., Union Leader article reported (h/t Good As You), Guimond pleaded guilty to the robbery charge in exchange for dropping two other hate crime-related charges. Indeed, it appears that prosecutors decided that the evidence ultimately didn't sustain the hate-crime charges. From the article:

"I think he targeted them for the usual reasons that someone would target another for a robbery," said Assistant County Attorney Shawn Sweeney, who prosecuted Guimond. "He was stealing from them."

In other words, the criminal justice system worked as it was supposed to by ultimately dropping a charge for which the prosecution apparently had insufficient evidence, something Folger -- and WND -- curiously (but, sadly, not suprisingly) failed to tell their readers.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, December 8, 2007 1:01 AM EST
Friday, December 7, 2007
WND Still Spinning Anti-Gay Preacher's Claims
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Nearly two years ago, we detailed how WorldNetDaily was selectively reporting the case of an Philadelphia anti-gay activist and his followers who were arrested while protesting at a gay street festival. WND is still doing it.

A Dec. 7 WND article reported that "Michael Marcavage, of Repent America, says his organization has members who were jailed for proclaiming their Christian beliefs on public streets in Philadelphia." This is a highly biased description of events that WND makes no effort to correct. In fact, Marcavage tried to interrupt a performance during the gay festival with his anti-gay preaching and then disobeyed a police order to move to the perimeter of the Outfest to avoid the potential for violence, resulting in the arrests of Marcavage and his fellow protesters. (The charges were later dropped.)

WND does go on to state that "a number of members of his organization chose to proclaim their biblically based belief that homosexuality is wrong at a city-sponsored "gay" fest in Philadelphia. They were arrested and jailed, even threatened with prison sentences decades long, for proclaiming their beliefs." But nowhere does it mention that Marcavage tried to disrupt the event and then disobeyed the police.

The article goes on to misleadingly depict a proposed federal law that would grant anti-discrimination protections for gays, claiming that it would "apply penalties for politically incorrect 'thoughts.'" The misleading continued when it claimed the law "would have expanded hate-crime laws that now address race to include crimes committed against anyone in new special classes based on their gender or sexual orientation." As is WND policy on such stories, no supporter of the law was permitted to respond to WND description of it or the numerous critics of the law the article cites.


Posted by Terry K. at 7:23 PM EST
Updated: Friday, December 7, 2007 7:38 PM EST
Meanwhile ...
Topic: NewsBusters
Media Matters' Eric Boehlert reminds us that before the hue and cry over a general who asked a question during the Nov. 29 CNN/YouTube Republican debate was later found to have tenuous connections to Hillary Clinton's campaign, Brad Wilmouth declared in a NewsBusters post immediately after the debate that it "largely lived up to its promise to be a debate fitting for Republican voters as the vast majority of the questions used were asked from a conservative point of view."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:32 PM EST
New Article -- NewsBusted: The Huston File
Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters' Warner Todd Huston goes above and beyond to peddle misinformation and shill for Fred Thompson. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:26 AM EST
Kessler Remains Uninterested in Freedom's Watch Funding
Topic: Newsmax

We've previously noted Ronald Kessler's disinterest in the funding for the conservative group Freedom's Watch, even as he touts that it purportedly has more funding than the George Soros-funded MoveOn.org.

Kessler does so again in a Dec. 6 Newsmax article:

Freedom’s Watch has moved into its headquarters that were once occupied by the Washington Capitals on 9th Street NW in Washington. The 10,000 square feet of office space is laid out like Bloomberg’s offices, with lots of open space and few closed offices. The facilities include a so-called newsroom with plasma television monitors covering one wall and a television studio that will be used to broadcast programs nationally.

 Since late August, Freedom’s Watch has spent $15 million on television, radio, and print ads. The targets have been anti-war critics who support a quick retreat from Iraq, MoveOn.org’s ad suggesting that Gen. David Petraeus betrayed the American people, and Columbia University’s decision to invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak.

 Conservatives have long wondered why no one has stepped forward to provide as much funding to push their issues as the left-of-center MoveOn.org operations started by George Soros.

The new non-profit organization is designed to fill that void: Its funding will exceed that of entities that have been underwritten by Soros.

Again, Kessler shows no interest in telling his readers where the money to pay for these swank offices he's slobbering over is coming from -- even though, as we noted, he could easily have found out by reading his own website. One of those key funders is John Templeton Jr., son of John Templeton, whose financial analysis NewsMax has been touting for years.

Kessler also repeated the false claim that MoveOn.org was "started by George Soros"; as we've previously noted, it was founded in 1998 by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd. Soros gave money to the group starting in 2003.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:51 AM EST
Thursday, December 6, 2007
TimesWatch Misleads on Vacation Home Story
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Dec. 5 TimesWatch post (and MRC CyberAlert item) about a speech by New York Times executive editor Bill Keller on divisions in the American electorate, Clay Waters noted that Keller said "another defender of the national interest posted maps to my apartment -- and my publishers' -- on the internet, for the benefit of any lunatics who wanted to drop by and set us straight," prompting Waters to add: "This from the editor of the paper that in June 2006 showed how to find the weekend homes of Vice President Cheney and former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld."

What Waters didn't note (but Glenn Greenwald did): The Times had published even more detailed information about the Clintons' house in Chappaqua, N.Y. (which we don't recall Waters objecting to), the Rumsfeld and Cheney house info had been published several months earlier in the Washington Post -- and Newsmax -- to no similar hue and cry, and the Times had Rumsfeld's permission to take pictures of his house.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:54 PM EST
Brennan Repeats Debunked Global Warming Stat
Topic: Newsmax

In his Dec. 4 Newsmax column, done as a letter from Mother Nature to Al Gore, Phil Brennan writes:

This notion that mankind can be forced to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2 by reducing its carbon footprint — I love these disingenuous terms you invent to bolster your shabby case — is sheer nonsense, based as it is on the false notion that human activities are mainly responsible for the buildup of the greenhouse gas CO2 in the atmosphere.

Now Al, you know that the principal greenhouse gas is water vapor which accounts for about 95 percent of all the greenhouse gases floating around out there.

The other 5 percent is composed of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide, and various others including CFCs, with carbon dioxide being by far the greatest greenhouse gas contributor among them at 3.6 percent.

But carbon dioxide as a result of man's activities accounts for barely 3.2 percent of that, thus only 0.12 percent of all the greenhouse gases in total.

As we noted the last time Brennan made this assertion, RealClimate has debunked these statistics, calling them not only false but "irrelevant and not very sensible."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 PM EST

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