Rewarding Good Journalistic Behavior Topic: CNSNews.com
Evan Moore was less than happy with our critique of his CNSNews.com article on "The Vagina Monologues," using his personal blog to bash us ("flaming lib") and even our choice of webspace providers. He does appear to concede, though, that our concerns are valid, insisting that he had written what we complained wasn't in the article -- actual evidence that the play "degrades women," not merely assertions by conservative activists -- was edited out by higher-ups. Of course, we judge an article not by what wasn't printed, only by what was.
So, in the interest of promoting good journalistic behavior -- which is what we hope to accomplish by doing what we do; we think our critiques hold up even outside of political considerations -- let us praise Moore for an article that includes proper balance. In a Feb. 19 article, Moore led with assertions from conservatives that the Democratic-led Congress is obstructing the judicial nomination process, then counters by pointing out that President Bush has fallen behind on nominating judges and that more judges have been confirmed when Congress was controlled by Democrats than it was by Republicans.
That's what we like to see, and what readers have a right to expect from a news organization: the full story being told. We operate on a simple principle here -- that the ConWeb should be held no less accountable for its journalism than the MSM. If Moore cares about journalism, he should have no problem with that.
Actually, Elder Bush Did Bash Clinton Topic: Newsmax
In a Feb. 19 Newsmax article bashing the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency as a de facto third term for Bill Clinton, James Humes writes:
True, George H.W. Bush made private fundraising appearances for his son in 2000. But never once did he personally criticize John McCain, Al Gore, or John Kerry. For that matter, he never made any public statements that expressed opposition to his successor’s (Bill Clinton's) policies.
In fact, the elder Bush repeatedly criticized Clinton administration policies while Clinton was in office.
Humes also writes that Bill Clinton called Barack Obama "another Jesse Jackson," putting that phrase in quotes. We could find no instance in which Clinton used the phrase "another Jesse Jackson" to describe Obama. What Humes is presumably referring to is Clinton's noting, after Obama won the South Carolina primary, that Jackson won it as well when he ran for president, but Clinton never specifically called Obama "another Jesse Jackson," as Humes claims.
Humes is described as "professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs" (as well as a "former White House speechwriter"). Shouldn't a college professor have researched his article better than this?
Shrillary is anything but likable – and her voice sounds like a rusty nail scraping a blackboard. I won't comment on her looks – except to say most people are sick to death of seeing her. Period. End of story.
Hillary looks like a robot — like a Stepford Wife. Her latest stand-up stance — with the microphone in one hand and her other arm stretched out like a minister giving a blessing — is yet another phony stance.
Looks like CNSNews.com got its marching orders from the Repubicans regarding the House's failure to pass an extension or permanent approval of the Protect America Act: Portray Democrats as in the grip of trial lawyers since they oppose granting retroactive immunity for phone companies who permitted the government to wiretap suspects without a warrant in apparent contravention of law.
Thus armed, CNS not only hurled columns by Robert Novak and Rich Galen advancing the meme on Feb. 18, a "news" article by Susan Jones pushed it as well. Jones merely uncritically repeated Republicans' Dem-bashing without letting an actual Democrat respond (indeed, only one paragraph of the 20-paragraph article actually quotes a Democrat); House Minority Leader John Boehner is quoted as saying that Democrats are "paying off trial lawyer campaign contributors."
Jones also ignores errors and contradictions made by those she quoted.
While Jones notes that "Democrats say the intelligence community can still go to a FISA court to get warrants," she then paraphrases President Bush making the contradictory claim that "the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will be stripped of their power to authorize new surveillance against terrorist threats abroad." Further, Jones paraphrases Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell as saying that going to a FISA court to get a warrant "reduces speed and agility in gathering information on America's enemies," but she doesn't note that FISA provides for obtaining warrants after surveillance has already begun.
Graham Ignores Conservatives' Smears of Va. Tech Victims Topic: NewsBusters
A Feb. 18 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham bashed a "bizarre" article at "the leftist site Alternet" for not showing "compassion and sympathy for a community after a horrifying mass murder, such as the killings at Northern Illinois University." The article, in Graham's words, "trashed NIU as a mediocre school for mediocre students, and suggested that the "flat" plains of Middle America could make anyone shoot up a school or a post office."
But as with many things, conservatives have led the way in such insensitivity. After last year's Virginia Tech shootings, conservatives regularlyblamed the victims for getting shot, with Mark Steyn even claiming that the school "exemplifies" a "culture of passivity."
Where was Graham's outrage about that? Oh, that's right, there wasn't any.
WND's in the Obama Sleaze Business Topic: WorldNetDaily
Looks like WorldNetDaily will try to do the same thing to Barack Obama as it did to the Clintons -- hurl unverified, sleazy charges.
A Feb. 17 WND article unquestioningly repeats accusations made by one Larry Sinclair that he "he took cocaine in 1999 with the then-Illinois legislator and participated in homosexual acts with him." The article merely repeats Sinclair's claims and links to a YouTube video he made -- even reprintingalawsuit Sinclair filed against Obama containing the allegations -- without examining Sinclair's background or even making much of an effort to get a response from the Obama campaign (it adds at the end at "Calls placed to the Obama campaign were not returned").
Interesting that the bluenoses at WND -- remember, it banned links from its site to Salon.com in 2001 because it ran "erotic art" and moved to a subscription based model, thus it was "sell[ing] porn" -- adds an "editor's note" at the top saying, "The accompanying YouTube video contains sexual language that some will consider offensive. The article itself contains material that is inappropriate for children." Apparently, porn isn't offensive to anyone at WND when it can be used in the service of attacking a political enemy. WND even cynically acknowledges what it's doing by putting "sleaze charge" right in the headline.
It's also interesting that WND reprints Sinclair's lawsuit when it couldn't be bothered to reprint any of the legal papers filed in Clark Jones' libel lawsuit against it (as we had challenged WND to do). WND just settled that lawsuit by admitted it made false claims about Jones (and, presumably, handing over a little cash for damages), thus suggesting an answer to why it wouldn't post any lawsuit documents (though we did). With this article, though, WND continues to demonstrate that it learned nothing from that lawsuit by being a disseminator of charges it suggests are true that it has made no effort to verify.
But then again, WND was -- and still is -- all too willing to repeat claims against the Clintons by people whose veracity, shall we say, leaves something to be desired, from Kathleen Willey to Peter Paul. This is all in the service of a conservative agenda that WND refuses to acknowledge.
Meet the new sleaze, same as the old sleaze...
UPDATE: One blogger notes a couple things WND could have investigated but didn't: Sinclair claims to be a resident of Duluth, Minnesota, but apparently is actually from Texas, and while WND claims Sinclair "says he is a registered Democrat but has never voted for any candidate," he is apparently a Ron Paul supporter.
UPDATE 2: WND has added another article repeating Sinclair's allegations and making no effort to verify anything he has said.
Such smear jobs on Democrats are nothing new for WND: In 2004, it did several articles repeating never-proven tabloid-based claims that John Kerry had an affair.
Media watchers have been wondering how long it will take press representatives to start attacking John McCain now that he's become almost the certain Republican nominee for president.
On February 16, the wait ended, as the Associated Press went on a literally vulgar tirade about the Arizona senator's temper that would make Madonna blush.
The AP used "[t]hree edited f-words in the first six paragraphs," Sheppard claimed, adding, "Sadly, all that vulgarity was a set-up to dissuade voters from considering McCain."
Sheppard ignores the fact that the conservative media has been using McCain's temper as an attack point for months with similarly "vulgar" language. In fact, as early as July 2006, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler was asking if McCain had "the temperament to be president," quoting an anonymous Senate staffer as saying taht "McCain said ‘f— you,' " an anonymous former senator as saying, "McCain used the f-word. ... McCain called the guy a ‘sh--head.' The senator demanded an apology. McCain stood up and said, ‘I apologize, but you're still a sh--head,' " and Newsmax columnist John LeBoutillier as saying, "People who disagree with him get the f--- you."
Contrary to Sheppard's assertion, "press representatives" have been noting McCain's temper for years, but we don't recall Sheppard bashing Kessler for trying to "dissuade voters from considering McCain."
In fact, Sheppard doesn't have to go to the AP, or even Newsmax, to find mention of McCain's temper; he just needs to hang out on NewsBusters' own comment boards.
WND Still Distorting Laws To Fit Its Anti-Gay Agenda Topic: WorldNetDaily
You'd think that being forced to admit it published false information and settling a libel and defamation lawsuit for presumably a not-insignificant amount of money would spur WorldNetDaily into putting more care into the accuracy and fairness of the things it reports. It would appear not.
As it was settling that lawsuit, a Feb. 12 WND article follows in the tradition of previousarticles that distort to the point of falsehood the content of recently passed California laws designed to protect gays at school. It claims without challenge or attribution that the laws "institutionalize the promotion of homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and other alternative lifestyle choices." It also described the laws -- as "sexual indoctrination," again without challenge or attribution.
Has Warner Todd Huston written a post so crazy -- and he's written a bunch -- that even NewsBusters doesn't want it on its site? It apepars so.
On Feb. 16, Huston posted an NewsBusters entry headlined "Is Obama Faking Feinting [sic] Spells at Rallies?" in which, yes, Huston essentially accuses the Barack Obama campaign of staging fainting spells at his rallies to make Obama look sympathetic. Sometime later that day, someone (or something) at NewsBusters made it disappear off the site, blocked by an "Access Denied" message. It's still showing up in Google searches, though. (And here's a screen shot of the Google search containing it.)
Fortunately for posterity's sake, Huston also posted it to two other blogs of his, Publius' Forum and The Reality Check, so we can enjoy his work (complete with misspelling of "fainting" in the headline) in all its crazy glory. And should common sense suddenly get the better of him and those disappear as well, here's Huston's post in its entirety:
BreitbartTV has an interesting little video called “Fired Up and Falling Down: String of Crowd Fainting Incidents Hits Obama Rallies.” This video shows a series of what appears to be a fainting women right up near the stage at different Barack Hussein Obama campaign rallies. And in nearly every case, Obama says the same things, almost as if rehearsed. This has been rumbling for a day or so on the Internet, but the MSM has yet to pick up on it. I wonder why?
It’s an awful big coincidence that all these women keep fainting at Obama campaign rallies isn’t it? And isn’t it odd that they are always right up by the podium? Also, it is so odd that Barack says nearly the same lines in response and that he stops everything to “assist” the fainted?
So, the question arises, are staged feinting spells being created by the Obama campaign to make the audience think that people are so overheated by Obama that they end up feinting? It also creates the impression that the candidate is “caring” when he stops the rally to call for doctors to attend to the woman and for a “water bottle” to be given to her.
It just strains credulity that so many instances in nearly exact detail have been happening spontaneously.
Breitbart captions their video like this:
Los Angeles Times on one of the six recent fainting incidents: “Barack Obama’s first and only rally on election day came to a sudden and lengthy stop when a young woman in the Dartmouth College gym fainted, and was eventually rolled off on a gurney by emergency medical technicians. At first Obama half-narrated the episode, saying soothing things like, ‘She’s OK,’ ‘She’s talking.’ But the longer she lay on the floor, the quieter Obama got, standing on the podium, arms folded, looking worried as the medical crew worked.”
Starts one to thinking, doesn’t it?
The most amazing thing is not that Huston went too far even for NewsBusters; it's that WorldNetDaily has picked up the meme in a Feb. 16 article.
Has it already forgotten that it just settled a big libel suit? Apparently so, since the article uses not one, but two pseudonymous blog commenters to liken Obama to murderious cult leader Jim Jones.
Two Feb. 15 WorldNetDaily articles have a missing component. Can you spot it?
-- The first describes a "new book" (in fact, it came out in 2006) by Lyle Rossiter, in which he claims that the "the ideology motivating [liberals] is actually a mental disorder. It describes Rossiter as an "acclaimed, veteran psychiatrist" and a "board-certified forensic psychiatrist" who "received his medical and psychiatric training at the University of Chicago."
-- The second describes the "Dear Abby" advice column as a "shock jock for promiscuity," citing a report by the Culture and Media Institute that claims that the column takes "a distinctly non-traditional approach toward moral questions." The article described CMI as "designed to 'advance, preserve, and help restore America's culture, character, traditional values, and morals against the assault of the liberal media elite.'"
Nowhere in either of these two articles will you find any ideological descriptor for Rossiter, CMI, or its parent organization, the Media Research Center (which the article also names) -- even though they are obviously conservative-leaning -- the MRC, of course, is part of the ConWeb.
CNS Clumsily Ties Shooting, 'Sexual Indoctrination' Topic: CNSNews.com
a Feb. 15 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones stated that a 14-year-old California boy is being "charged with a hate crime as well as attempted murder for shooting a 15-year-old boy who 'sometimes wore makeup, high heels and other feminine attire,' the Associated Press reported." Jones then quoted "homosexual activists" commenting on the shooting.
After noting that "California is one of only 10 states that protect students from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation" and "one of only five states that protect students from bullying and harassment based on gender identity/expression," Jones then repeats the claims by the conservative Campaign for Children and Families that two recently passed California laws promote "sexual doctrination." While Jones -- unlike WorldNetDaily, which has repeatedly distorted the laws in question -- provided the actual text of the laws, she followed them with CCF's interpretation of what they purportedly "functionally" do.
None of the "homosexual activists" quoted addressed the laws or were given an opportunity to address CCF's interpretation of them. CCF, meanwhile, is not quoted as addressing the shooting. Jones herself suggests, but doesn't explicitly address, a relationship between the hate-crime charge and the new laws, nor does she explain how the laws as she quoted them translate into CCF's alarmist depictions.
Jones tends to assemble her articles from other news sources and press releases, so it's not surprising that the point she's clearly trying to push here -- that bleeding-heart "homosexual activsts" are making this poor shooter face the threat of extra punishment for the thought crime of hating gays (a conservative talking point) and is thus a victim of "sexual indocrination" -- is rather crudely cobbled together, and that no effort is made to reconcile the two disparate topics (the shooting and the laws).
Newsmax has a history of playing games with the circulation numbers of its magazine; we've noted, for instance, that it once claimed it had a "paid circulation" of 250,000 when in fact it was only 59,000.
It does so again in a Feb. 14 article touting how "Newsmax.com has soared in Web traffic," in which it claims that Newsmax magazine has "a paid readership of 600,000." The problem is, "paid readership" is a meaningless metric; the only one that really matters is paid circulation, since readership is difficult to quantify.
In November 2005, Newsmax declared that the magazine's audited paid circulation was 102,695, then added: "NewsMax Magazine estimates this paid circulation gives it a monthly readership in excess of 400,000 persons each month – making it the largest read independent news monthly with a conservative perspective." In other words, Newsmax is claiming that an average of four people read each copy of the magazine.
Factoring that into Newsmax's new claim of "paid readership of 600,000," this apparently means the magazine's paid circulation is around 150,000.
New Article: Liberally Insulting Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has trouble finding anything offensive about an NBC reporter claiming that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by her mother's presidential campaign. But then, it's totally down with Ann Coulter's litany of insults. Read more >>
When FBI agent George Piro recently described debriefing Saddam Hussein for seven months after his capture, he disclosed that the Iraqi dictator admitted his intention to re-start his weapons of mass destruction program within a year.
That plan included developing nuclear weapons capability, according to Saddam.
The revelation should have hit Page One of every newspaper.
Why? Kessler answers: "It would have further justified President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, a key issue in the coming presidential election. But many in the mainstream media could not bear to hear that Bush may have done something right."
Plus, since this little revelation first appeared in Kessler's recently published book, he would have benefitted from the sales bump.
What's missing here is any mention of whether Saddam had the capability to do what he intended. Intent is amorphous; everyone intends to do things. But did Saddam have the capability to do anything about his intentions? Kessler doesn't say.
Instead, Kessler whines that his little scoop didn't get blanket coverage in all media. He finally concludes:
Today, we have press censorship similar to what existed in the old Soviet Union, except the censors are journalists themselves, and it’s in reverse: News favorable to the government is suppressed.
Ironically, a day later, a Newsmax article trumpeted how "Newsmax.com has soared in Web traffic."
How, exactly, is Kessler being "suppressed" and censored? Indeed, Kessler has engaged in a bit of self-censorship of his own by reporting only flattering news about the Bush administration. (He probably should have engaged in a little self-censorship, though, when he was creepily fawning over Mitt Romney's wife).
And we can lay pretty good odds that if a Democrat wins the presidency later this year, Kessler will be whining shortly thereafter that "news unfavorable to the government is suppressed."
Newsmax likes to promote its own meaningless opt-in polls (as it did most recently on Feb. 7). Now it's promoting the opt-in polls of others. From a Feb. 13 article:
GodTube.com today announced that despite last night's sweeping victory for John McCain, a stunning new GodTube.com poll reveals that if McCain wins his party's nomination, Christian Conservatives would rather vote for one of the two Democratic candidates.
With a slim 9.1% support for McCain, and Huckabee a long shot for the nomination, Obama has become a viable choice for many Christian Conservatives with 26.3% of the Christian vote, up 8% from last week.
With religion taking center stage in this year's Presidential election, the GodTube.com (http://www.godtube.com/election), is voted upon by registered users and received more than 40,000 votes within the first week and the number of participants continues to grow with an astounding 11,075 new voters registered this week. GodTube.com is utilizing internet survey techniques to ensure fairness and only includes the leading primary candidates.
To translate that last paragraph: It's an opt-in poll that reflects only the opinions of GodTube users, not "Christian Conservatives" as a whole as it claims. The reference to "internet survey techniques to ensure fairness" appears to be little more than a limit on the number of times a person can vote; as a note on the GodTube election page states, "Votes are limited to ensure quality." There's no indication of what the limit is or how it is limited (login, email, IP address, etc.).
Like Newsmax's poll, the GodTube poll is non-scientific because it is opt-in. Therefore, it has no real applicability outside of the people who chose to participate in it.