Kessler Drops the Journalistic Figleaf Topic: Newsmax
Ronald Kessler's partisan cover is officially completely blown (as if we didn't knowthatalready).
In a Feb. 29 Newsmax video, Kessler essentially regurgitates conservative talking points, despite being introduced by host Ashley Martella as "one of America's premier journalists." But there's no actual journalism going on here, just conservative bloviating:
Kessler says of Barack Obama: "I just don't think people want a person with a radical agenda in the White House. I think the more they learn about Obama, the more they're going to be scared of taking a chance on someone with his ultra-liberal record."
Kessler also said the New York Times article on John McCain has "coalesced conservatives who were sort of going around in circles about him. You know, they're not incredibly enthusiastic yet about him, but they're starting to see the light, that it's either McCain or we get some radical liberal in the White House. And, you know, we have to get real; these are the choices." Who's "we," Ron?
Meanwhile, in another NewsMax video, Martella interviewed Michael Savage about his lawsuit against the Council of American-Islamic Relations, in which he allows Savage to uncritically claim, "I defended myself by suing them for copyright violation. ... They have sued virtually anybody who's ever said anything about Muslims they don't like." Martella didn't mention Savage's own history of suing people who have criticized him.
WND Omits Facts on Group Arrested at Gay Event Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 28 WorldNetDaily article uncritically repeats claims about a group of Christians, led by street preacher Julian Raven, arrested at an, in WND's words, "event celebrating homosexual behavior" in Elmira, N.Y. The article states:
At issue is the arrest of several Christians at a "gay pride" event is Wisner Park in Elmira in 2007. Julian and Gloria Raven and several others entered the park to pray silently for the participants of the event celebrating homosexual behavior.
"It seems oxymoronic to say that by walking silently in a public park, with heads bowed, these people somehow disturbed the peace," [Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Joel] Oster said. "From the sit-ins of the 1960s to today, courts have repeatedly ruled that the police cannot arrest those who peacefully express their message in public places."
While the facts of the case make it seem relatively minor, the ADF said the issue is nothing less than the United States' freedoms of speech and religion.
[Raven] said his team of Christians then went into the park, and they were arrested within three or four minutes.
He said if the situation is left unchallenged, the city of Elmira will be in the position of being able to control the content of people's messages in a lawful assembly – or even thoughts if they are nearby.
"We didn't say boo to a goose, still we were arrested," he said.
"Obviously, they caused a disruption to an event that was taking place," [Assistant Police Chief Mike Robertson] said.
But Raven confirmed to WND the Christians did not approach a single person, did not speak to anyone and did not even make any audible statements until after they were arrested.
But WND failed to include one important fact that contradicts Raven's assertions that he wasn't causing a "disruption": As we noted when WND columnist Janet Folger similarly distorted the facts about this story, the Elmira Star-Gazette reported that Raven's group did its silent praying directly in front of the stage, thus backing up Robertson's assertion that the group "caused a disruption." Further, the newspaper reported, the protesters were quickly released and returned to the event, though not in the park -- another fact that doesn't appear in WND's article.
This kind of factually deficient coverage follows in WND's tradition of painting any group of Christians that disrupts a gay event as, by definition, innocent and omitting facts that make them look bad.
Rowan Scarborough's Back Topic: Washington Examiner
Remember how Rowan Scarborough abruptly "retired" from the Washington Examiner eight months after joining it, shortly after we caught him writing an egregiously biased "news" article featuring a disparaging portrait of CIA official Michael Sulick?
Well, Scarborough's back -- at his former home, the Washington Times. And he brought his bias back there as well: Media Matters notes that a Scarborough article for the Times used anonymous sources to attack Barack Obama as causing "trepidation" among "[m]embers of Washington's military and defense establishment" and distorted Obama's comments about taking action against terrorist targets in Pakistan.
NewsBusters Finds Nothing Wrong With Cunningham's Obama Smears Topic: NewsBusters
The denziens of the Media Research Center rarely see a problem when a conservative makes misleading or false or claims about liberals, or even ones that threaten violence -- witness the MRC's repeateddefense of Ann Coulter.
So it's no surprise that NewsBusters can't find anything wrong with radio host Bill Cunningham's tirade against Barack Obama in an introduction for John McCain at a campaign appearance, and was even upset that McCain disavowed Cunningham's vitriol.
Brent Baker, in a Feb. 27 post, calmly noted that Cunningham "dared to utter Barack Obama's middle name and call him 'a hack' Chicago politician" and claimed that media criticism of his performance as damaging McCain was "Damage the media assumed needed undoing."
A Feb. 27 post by Matthew Sheffield touted how Cunningham claimed "John McCain threw me under a bus -- under the Straight Talk Express," which Sheffield added was a reference to "McCain's pretentiously named campaign bus."
Geoffrey Dickens complained that a "Hardball" panel "gripe[d]" about Cunningham's performance, adding, "Like an offensive-line blocking for their quarterback Chris Matthews and the rest of Wednesday night's 'Hardball' panel game-planned to protect Barack Obama from what they saw as the coming 'vicious' and 'nasty' attacks from Republican sack artists in the fall."
And Matthew Balan was alarmed about, as his headline neatly summarized, "Two Straight Nights of Bashing Bill Cunningham on CNN." Balan then strained to avoid being offended by Cunningham's words:
[CNN's John] King explained that "one of the reasons, we are told, that Senator McCain wanted to denounce this quickly was that Bill Cunningham used the word prophet about Barack Obama and then used the word Hussein, his middle name, twice. Clearly, the McCain campaign took this as some way to suggest again, as others have, that Barack Obama is or was a Muslim." Even if King’s statement about McCain and/or his campaign was accurate, it’s odd to conclude that using the word "prophet" and the middle name "Hussein" in an attack on Obama is a hint that the Illinois senator "is or was a Muslim."
Then what's the point of bringing it up in the first place, let alone repeating it as often as Cunningham does? Please explain.
Then again, this is a crew that has yet to find anything offensive in Coulter's repeated death threats, so we're talking about a rather desensitized group of folks.
CNS Ratchets Up Attack on Planned Parenthood Topic: CNSNews.com
Penny Starr follows up her misleading, unbalanced attack on a teen-targeted Planned Parenthood website in a Feb. 28 article stating: "After reviewing materials posted on Planned Parenthood's teenwire.com Web site at the request of Cybercast News Service, three House Republicans are calling for the termination of Planned Parenthood's federal funding."
Nowhere does Starr state the qualifications, if any, the three congressmen in question -- Doug Lambourn (CO), Steve King (IA) and Joseph Pitts (PA) -- have for passing judgment on sexual education material for adolescents. Nor does Starr include any viewpoints in response to the congressmen's claims, or indicate that she spoke to any Democratic members of Congress. There's also no note that she tried to contact Planned Parenthood for a response, furthering the sham balance nature of Starr's attack on the group.
Among the "content from the site" reviewed by the congressmen, Starr wrote, were "graphic illustrations from 'Behind the Fig Leaf,' a slide show depicting the differing 'styles' of male and female genitalia." No explanation is offered as to why such a presentation -- Starr makes no claim that it's inaccurate or misleading -- should be considered offensive or, in King's words, "advocating promiscuity" and "damaging American culture."
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Sleaze Machine Topic: WorldNetDaily
WND's promotion of never-verified sex-and-drugs claims involving Barack Obama is just the latest in a long line of factually dubious smears of Democratic presidential candidates. Read more >>
Kessler Makes False Obama Tax Claim Even More False Topic: Newsmax
A Feb. 27 Newsmax column by Ronald Kessler states of Barack Obama: "He also co-sponsored a Senate bill to spend at least $845 billion a year to fight global poverty."
As we noted, the bill in question -- which Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid falsely claims "commit[s] the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid" -- contains no spending requirement or tax. And Kessler can't even get the smear right: Kincaid's false claim asserted that the $845 billion the bill purportedly commits the U.S. to is over 13 years, not per year as Kessler claims.
Kessler also throws out the usual misleading conservative distortions of Obama, repeating previous attacks on his church and claiming, "Like a 6-year-old kid who wants to be friends with everyone on the block, Obama has said he would offer prompt negotiations with anti-American despots."
WND Still Misleads About Terri Schiavo Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 27 WorldNetDaily article on Barack Obama saying that it was a mistake for Congress to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case follows in WND's tradition of misleading claims about the case and bias toward Schiavo's parents, the Schindlers, and against her husband, Michael.
For instance, the article stated that "Michael Schiavo said his wife was suffering from bulimia nervosa at the time of the still-unexplained 1990 collapse that left her injured. He alleged verbal abuse can trigger the eating disorder, and he accused Terri's father of such abuse, a charge described by family members as 'offensive.' " It continued:
The accusation appeared to be an attempt to turn the tables on the family, who in 2002 uncovered a report of a full-body bone scan done on Terri that indicated she had sustained several broken bones and led the interpreting radiologist to conclude she was the victim of abuse.
This suggestion that Michael Schiavo abused Terri is, by contrast, not countered by any statement from him, let alone the facts.
As one observer pointed out, the radiologist's observations are "pure speculation"; indeed, "the radiologist does note this in the report by stating that the abnormal areas could also be caused by cancer, infection, or infarcts."
The article stated that the claim about the bone scan came from "Diana Lynne, who authored 'Terri's Story: The Court-Ordered Death of an American Woman.'" Unmentioned is the confict-of-interest fact that Lynne was an employee of WND at the time the book -- rife with pro-Schindler, anti-Michael bias, as we detailed -- was published.
The article also states: "Michael Schiavo was awarded a judgment of $750,000 for continuing care for his wife, but WND reported court records show he spent $456,816 of the total on lawyers pursuing her death." This ignores what was spent on lawyers on behalf of the Schindlers, which even Lynne was forced to admit was in excess of $400,000, after writing disingenuously in her book of the Schindlers' side being only a a grass-roots effort."
In a Feb. 27 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd claimed that "CBS liberal <s>hack</s> legal analyst Andrew Cohen" "erroneously smeared [Karl] Rove with responsibility for the Valerie Plame leak," insisting that Richard Armitage "took responsibility for the leak."
As we have repeatedlypointedout whenever a NewsBusters writer makes this claim, Shepherd is trying to falsely portray Armitage as the only person responsible for leaking Plame's identity. As we've noted, Rove and Scooter Libby also leaked her identity to reporters, and Robert Novak -- to whom Armitage leaked and who was merely the first among the leaked reporters to to report it -- confirmed Plame's identity with Rove.
Tom Blumer goes a step farther than fellow NewsBuster Tim Graham in criticizing the Washington Times for dumping "homosexual" and "illegal alien" as preferred terms (you know, like every other legitimate news organization in the country): Blumer asserts in a Feb. 27 post that "Washington Times editor John Solomon has begun selling out to politically correct and objectively inaccurate language," adding, "The reason for the Times to even exist is slowly but surely being eliminated."
So use of loaded political terms is the reason the Times exists, and not because it's a money pit for a cult leader? (Blumer doesn't explain why the terms being newly embraced are "politically correct and objectively inaccurate.")
Blumer was then somehow moved to pen a paean to retired Times editor Wesley Pruden, sung to the tune of Chicago's "Harry Truman":
America needs you, Wesley Pruden Wesley could you please come home? The new guy's really bad, A PC flack gone mad. So Wesley please come back and save the paper we all know and love.
Um, yeah, whatever ...
Still, this seems like the perfect time for Graham and Blumer to be touting the fact that MRC news division CNSNews.com still embraces "homosexual" and "illegal alien." Right?
A Feb. 26 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr features criticism by conservatives of a Planned Parenthood website aimed at providing "medicially accurate sexual health information for teens on the Internet" (as well as engages in a bit of sham balance by stating that "Repeated requests for interviews with Planned Parenthood and teenwire.com staff by Cybercast News Service were not answered," though we can be virtually assured that should anyone from Planned Parenthood respond to the article, we won't see an update on it).
Starr focuses on the site's claim that "viewing pornography is a normal and 'safer' way of enjoying sex and in particular its telling a "young male viewer of pornography that masturbating while looking at pornography was not cheating on his girlfriend." This brings out not only the usual anti-pornography responses, as well as five paragraphs devoted to Ted Bundy:
Perhaps the most dramatic case of the damage pornography can apparently cause to some individuals was revealed when James Dobson of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group, met with serial killer Ted Bundy the day before he was executed on Jan. 24, 1989.
Bundy, who killed at least 28 females, including the 12-year-old girl whose death led to his arrest and conviction, requested the interview with Dobson.
"As a young boy of 12 or 13, I encountered, outside the home, in the local grocery and drug stores, soft core pornography," Bundy told Dobson, adding that "the most damaging kind of pornography - and I'm talking from hard, real, personal experience - is that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces - as I know only too well - brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe."
Bundy said he didn't blame pornography and took full responsibility for the brutal rape and murder of more than two dozen women, but he said it is a contributing factor that caused him and other violent offenders' to act out.
"I'm no social scientist," Bundy said, "and I don't pretend to believe what John Q. Citizen thinks about this, but I've lived in prison for a long time now, and I've met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography - deeply consumed by the addiction."
Nowhere does Starr note that questions have been raised about Bundy's statements to Dobson. Nted true-crime author Ann Rule wrote about the interview in her book on Bundy, "The Stranger Beside Me" (p. 446-7):
Two agendas were met with that videotape. Dr. Dobson believed that smut and booze triggered serial killers, and he had the premiere serial killer to validate his theories. Ted wanted to leave behind a legacy of his wisdom and humanity's guilt. He was guilty, yes, but we were guiltier because we allowed pornography to be sold. We walked by newsstands and did not demand that filthy literature be confiscated and outlawed.
I don't think pornograph cause Ted Bundy to kill thirty-six or one hundred or three hundred women. I think he because addicted to the power his crimes gave him. And I think he wanted to leave us talking about him, debating the wisdom of his words. In that, he succeeded magnificently.
The blunt fact is that Ted Bundy was a liar. He lied most of his life, and I think he lied at the end.
Rule adds (p. 448):
Ted Bundy's interview with James Dobson accomplished one thing that troubled me. During the weeks after Ted was executed, I heard from a number of young women. Sensitive, intelligent, kind young women wrote or called me to say that they were deeply depressed because Ted was dead. One college student had watched the Dobson tape on television and felt moved to send flowers to the funeral parlor where Ted's body had been taken. "He wouldn't have hurt me," she said. "All he needed was some kindness. I know he wouldn't have hurt me ..."
Even in death, Ted damages women. They have sent for the Dobson tape, paying the $29.95 fee, and watch it over and over. They see compassion and sadness in his eyes. And they feel guilty and bereft. To get well, they must realize that they were conned by the master conman. They are grieving for a shadow man that never existed.
Graham Ignores CNS Style on 'Homosexual' Topic: NewsBusters
In a Feb. 26 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham is unhappy that the Washington Times will stop using "homosexual" as a preferred reference and will instead use "gay," and well as replace "illegal alien" with "illegal immigrant." New Times editor John Solomon, Graham writes, "wants the Times to join the 'mainstream' in using sensitive terminology on homosexuality and illegal immigration," adding that "whatever the reigning liberal sensibilities are in our news template, often defined by minority journalist groups, are defined as 'neutral.' "
It would have been instructive for Graham to note what the stylebook of sister MRC organization CNSNews.com says on the subject. For instance, it's pretty clear that preferred use of "homosexual" is CNS house style, as this article's cumbersome use of "homosexual leader" and "homosexual activist group" illustrates; nowhere does the word "gay" appear outside quotes or organization names.
Similarly, a search for "illegal alien" at CNS brings up 334 hits, indicating that it's a favored term there as well.
If Graham is so proud of using those terms -- and he certainly appears to be -- why not fully defend use of "homosexual" and "illegal alien"? Why not proclaim that the MRC's news division is the last bastion of it? It's how they roll; they ought to embrace it.
Aaron Klein Mighty Wurlitzer Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a Feb. 26 WorldNetDaily article, Aaron Klein hauls out one of his favorite sources, the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, to reliably bash Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
As we've detailed, the Rabbinical Congress is one of the sources Klein trots out whenever he needs to attack Olmert, never mentioning that it's a right-leaning group that has a huge pre-existing chip on its shoulder against Obama. As an example of how right-wing the group is, Klein has also uncritically quoted that group's executive director as saying that Hurricane Katrina was "a consequence of the destruction of Gush Katif [a group of Jewish communities in Gaza] with America's urging and encouragement" of Olmert's withdrawal of Israel from Gaza.
A Feb. 26 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall focused on a booklet by a coalition including the National Education Association aimed at protecting the well-being of students, including "those at higher risk because of their sexual orientation." Hall quotes from a press release about the booklet, then quotes from an "e-mail statement" by "pro-family" group the Family Research Council, which attacks the booklet as a part of "promotion of homosexuality" and "indoctrinating impressionable school children," and smears the NEA as having "left-wing fanaticism."
So Hall just cribbed from a couple of press releases. He made no apparent effort to contact anyone with the NEA to respond to the FRC's charges or to contact the FRC to substantiate their claim that information about homosexuality is "promotion" of it, thus invoking the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy.
This article is an example of lazy press-release journalism with a conservative bias, since the FRC gets the last word and no one is given a chance to respond to them.
A link on today's FrontPageMag front page leads to the Discover the Networks article on the Islamic Society of North America. The article notes the group's criticism of torture and waterboarding and the statement, "Torture, like human trafficking, is unlawful and immoral no matter what the circumstances."