In a largely self-serving March 20 Newsmax column, Ronald Kessler touts his prescience in attacking Barack Obama's pastor before it was cool. In it, he cites a March 18 Washington Post column by Richard Cohen calling Kessler a "(reputable) anti-Obama columnist." But is that really true?
Not so much -- certainly not in his Newsmax career. By being so clearly biased against Obama, Kessler, by definition, cannot be reputable.
We've already listed the ways in which Kessler has slanted his coverage of Obama to exclude information that would benefit Obama; a reputable journalist would have fully reported all sides of the story. Kessler has all but declared that his intent is to destroy Obama; he has specifically stated, "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."
Indeed, he concludes his column by stating, "Now that the truth is out, the idea that Obama could ever be elected president is a joke." That was the point all along, wasn't it?
Further, Kessler has never returned to his claim that Obama attended a specific church service after vaguely defending the claim in a "clarification," even when New York Times columnist William Kristol, who cited Kessler, retracted the claim.
Kessler has a long, long history of disreputable bias at Newsmax. Further, the flip-flop he must make to support John McCain after spending months bashing him (and fluffing vanquished opponent Mitt Romney) tells us that he's not a reputable journalist who sticks to his facts but one who flows with the prevailing Republican winds.
We've noted back in January how WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein attacked (using anonymous sources) Robert Malley, who has advised Barack Obama's campaign, without giving him an opportunity to respond. Klein rehashes the charges once more in a March 20 article, again failing to offer Malley a response or any other view of him or bothering to correct his distortions.
Klein called Malley "an Obama foreign policy adviser." But according to PolitiFact.com, "Obama’s campaign states that while Malley has offered advice and opinions on a couple occasions, he is not a formal adviser." PolitiFact also points out that "in position papers and interviews, Obama has said he does not think the United States should be talking to Hamas," a position Malley has advocated. Klein copiously details Malley's advocacy for talks with Hamas but has never noted that Obama does not support it.
Meanwhile, Klein fails to acknowledge that Malley has, in fact, responded to attacks on him. From a Feb. 20 article in the Jewish newspaper the Forward:
Robert Malley, a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton on Arab-Israeli affairs, told the Forward that the attacks on him by some supporters of Israel have “crossed the line.”
Malley, who now heads the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group, emphasized his strong support for Israel and explained his views on the need to engage in talks with Iran and Syria.
Malley recently received support from five Jewish former U.S. government officials who are known to be strong supporters of Israel. Former national security adviser Sandy Berger and former State Department officials Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Aaron David Miller and Daniel Kurtzer released their open letter defending Malley on February 12.
Responding to what they call “a series of vicious, personal attacks” against Malley, the former officials wrote: “These attacks are unfair, inappropriate and wrong.”
The letter is particularly noteworthy because, according to press reports, Berger and Indyk have been advising Obama’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, on Middle East policy.
The letter adds that while disagreements on policy exist, there is no disagreement regarding the special relationship between America and Israel: “We have worked with Rob closely over the years and have no doubt he shares this view and has acted consistent with it.”
In a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Israel Policy Forum two weeks ago, Malley said he does not believe Obama will talk to Hamas or Hezbollah if elected president.
Despite Malley having responded to such charges, Klein repeated his attacks in articles on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 without noting Malley's response, in addition to the March 20 article.
Klein also cited a New York Review of Books article by Malley which Klein described as "largely blaming Israel for the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David in 2000 when Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern sections of Jerusalem and instead returned to the Middle East to launch an intifada, or terrorist campaign, against the Jewish state," adding, "Malley's contentions have been strongly refuted by key participants at Camp David ... all of whom squarely blamed Arafat's refusal to make peace for the talks' failure." But the Forward notes:
This article was considered controversial, since mainstream policy analysts in Israel and America had pointed to Arafat as having sole responsibility for the failed talks. Later, however, other scholars and former officials voiced similar views to those of Malley.
We were able to find this rather easily, thanks to the magic of the Internet. Why can't Klein, who purports to be an actual journalist?
Huston Finds Another (Misleading) Way to Equivocate Topic: NewsBusters
A March 19 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston bashed Kansas City Star columnist Charles Coulter, who had been, in Huston's words, "scolding any of us who take offense" at controverisal statements by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's former pastor. Huston then tries to play the equivocation card:
What if a southern Senator, say a fellow like Trent Lott, was running for president. Let's imagine that Trent Lott had a 20-year-long, intimate relationship with the Grand Wizard of the Mississippi KKK. What would people then be saying of Trent Lott? In fact, we don't have to wonder too much because only a few short years ago Trent Lott was chased from his position of power in the Senate merely for saying a few nice things about a man who had been a segregationist decades ago -- but had not been so outspokenly racist in decades.
Of course, Lott didn't "merely" say "a few nice things about a man who had been a segregationist decades ago." He actually said: "When Strom Thurmond ran for president [in 1948 on the segregationist Dixiecrat ticket], we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over these years, either."
While Lott may not have had "a 20-year-long, intimate relationship with the Grand Wizard of the Mississippi KKK" per se, he had the next best thing: a long association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group descended from the anti-integration White Citizens Councils of the 1950s that has been called the "uptown Klan."
Huston goes on to smear Coulter:
Coulter is one of those responsible for forcing blacks in America, people who have lived in this country since day one, many of whom today have been native-born Americans for many generations, to being passed up by Mexican immigrants who have only really made their mark in the last 30 years in the USA.
If you want to see someone holding blacks down, look at a liberal like Charles Coulter who seems to find no reason to let blacks in America "off the plantation," as the saying goes. Look at a man who excuses the vitriol and turmoil that suppresses the confidence that blacks have to move forward.
Huston offers no evidence, beyond what the misfiring synapses in his own fevered brain tell him, to support these charges.
Huston's last bit of equivocation, regarding anti-Catholic evangelist John Hagee's endorsement of John McCain, contained blatantly false claims.
Was New Black Panther Endorsement of Obama Genuine? Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've previously noted a March 18 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein about a endorsement of Barack Obama by the New Black Panther Party, which Klein described as "an anti-American government, anti-white and virulently anti-Semitic black supremacist party," that was posted to Obama's website. Klein claimed to have talked to Malik Zulu Shabazz, NBPP national chairman, who allegedly "his organization's endorsement of Obama in an interview with WND." Klein repeated Shabazz's claims in a March 19 article noting that the Obama campaign yanked the page.
But there's one thing missing from Klein's article: any evidence that anyone from the NBPP posted the page on Obama's website. While Klein quotes Shabazz as saying, "The Obama camp's move to remove our blog doesn't mean much because I understand politics. We still completely support Obama as the best candidate," Klein does not state that Shabazz or anyone else with the NBPP is responsible for creating it.
Klein suggests that the Obama campaign condoned the NBPP page until it was publicized, but as a writer at Daily Kos points out, it's easy to create a support page at Obama's website.
It's possible that someone other than the NBPP posted that endorsement on the Obama website -- heck, maybe Klein himself created it to give him something to write about. After all, Klein does have a longrecord of obscuring the truth about his sources.
New Article: Selective Religious Outrage Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center is offended by anti-Catholic statements -- unless they're made by a prominent right-wing evangelist who has endorsed a Republican presidential candidate. Read more >>
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein is still doing his tiny part to destabilize Ehud Olmert's coalition government in Israel.
In a March 17 WND article, Klein repeated the "unprecedented criticism" of Shas party spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef by his son, Rabbi Jacob Yosef. Shas -- which Klein surprisingly describes as "ultra-Orthodox" despite his longtimeaversion to labeling Israeli conservatives with something that indicates said conservativism -- is a part of Olmert's coalition. As Klein hastens to add, "If Shas bolts, Olmert's coalition government could fall apart, precipitating new elections." That seems to be precisely what Klein wants to achieve by writing this article.
Klein, however, serves up his usual lack of context and balance. Nowhere does Klein state in what form the younger Yosef made his statements against his father -- did he issue a press release? Did Klein talk to him personally? Klein also does not allow the elder Yosef or anyone from Shas an opportunity to respond.
Klein does note that the younger Yosef is "a member of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, a coalition of more than 350 Israeli rabbinic leaders and pulpit rabbis," and stated that the congress has previously attacked Shas and Olmert. But we we've detailed, the RCP is a key on Klein's mighty Wurlitzer, which he hauls out when he needs to attack Olmert. As per usual, Klein does not note the RCP's historical animosity to Olmert.
Analysts at the Media Research Center have studied TV news coverage of the Iraq war from the beginning, even before the first bombs fell on Baghdad in March 2003. The record shows the networks have trumpeted bad news — setbacks for the U.S. coalition and allegations of misdeeds by American troops — while minimizing good news such as the success of the 2007 troop surge and acts of heroism by U.S. soldiers.
But nearly all of the 11 studies Noyes cites are focused only on the broadcast networks or a specific network -- twofocus only on ABC (one of those solely on ABC anchor Peter Jennings), twofocus only on NBC (one solely on then-NBC reporter Peter Arnett). One study focused only on cable news coverage. None offer a comprehensive look at all "TV news coverage of the Iraq war."
Why so little focus on cable news? Perhaps because it doesn't want to be put in the position of having to criticize conservative-friendly (not to mention MRC-friendly) Fox News. MRC, after all, has a historyofrunning to Fox News' defense.
The lone cable news-focused MRC study of Iraq war coverage, in December 2006, made Fox News look good: It claimed that, unlike MSNBC and CNN, Fox News "was better able to balance the bad news with more optimistic news of U.S. achievements in Iraq," unashamedly rehashing Fox News' "fair and balanced" slogan. The study does not state whether news events in Iraq from the period of time studied warranted the "balance" that Fox News provided and the MRC lauded.
One MRC study, issued Feb. 28, claimed that "[w]hen U.S. casualties began to steadily decline, TV coverage of Iraq dramatically decreased" on the TV networks. That study, like nearly all of the others, excluded cable news coverage, and it uncritically repeats Bush administration talking points claiming that "the President’s surge strategy is well on its way to succeeding."
The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism's State of the News Media 2008 report, however, showed this trend of declining coverage was not limited to the purportedly liberal news networks: It found that Fox News "spent less time on the war in Iraq" than CNN and MSNBC, and it was "more oriented to crime, celebrity and the media than its rivals." (h/t Think Progress.)
The MRC does not mention this, nor does it note Fox News' previous hostility toward airing negative Iraq war coverage:
John Gibson claimed that those who criticized news channels for obsessive coverage of Anna Nicole Smith's death while minimizing Iraq war coverage (like Fox News) were suffering from "news-guy snobbery."
Bill O'Reilly, responding to a previous PEJ study with similar findings for Fox News, defended the lack of coverage of negative Iraq war news by asserting that it does not "highlight every terrorist attack because we learn nothing from that. And that's exactly what the terrorists want us to do." O'Reilly also asserted, without evidence, that "CNN and MSNBC are actually helping the terrorists by reporting useless explosions. ... I'm not gonna cover every bomb that goes off in Tikrit, because it's meaningless."
These studies are not unlike a lot of other MRC studies -- they are driven too much by the MRC's conservative bias to be trusted without question.
A March 19 CNSNews.com article by Lois Owen described a New York state proposal regarding abortion as a "pro-abortion" bill and its supporters "pro-abortion activists." Those on the other side of the issue were described as "pro-life." This follows CNS' usual labeling bias on the issue.
In related repeat of labeling bias, a March 19 article by Susan Jones pitted "gun control advocates" against "Second Amendment supporters." Jones offers no evidence that "gun control advocates" do not support the Second Amendment.
If Obama really meant any of this rhetoric about healing racial divisions – in any of his speeches over many months of campaigning – he would have quit his hate-spewing minister and his Church of Slurs a long time ago.
It wasn’t hard to disagree with Jerry Falwell. As a Catholic I could easily disagree with many of his theological positions. I didn’t always agree with him on politics, either. But these disagreements never reached the point of enmity because I could applaud him for so much more.
Every obituary in the mainstream press has regurgitated Falwell’s ill-timed statement after 9/11 for which he was condemned by liberals and conservatives alike, and for which he would later apologize. That is part of the historical record, and deserved inclusion. But for his enemies it deserved to be far more than that. It needed to be the centerpiece of his obituary, that which by its essence would define Falwell as an extremist, at the virtual exclusion of his manifold achievements.
ConWeb Makes Misleading Claims About Obama's Church's Website Topic: The ConWeb
A March 16 NewsBusters post by John Stephenson howled that Barack Obama's church, Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ (which Stephenson called "Trinity Baptist"), "removed the 'black values' from their about us page! the new pastor bringing a new vision and vaules system? Lets hope so, but lets not forget the values they adopted before and are rooted in."
A March 16 WorldNetDaily article similarly claimed: "A black Chicago church attended by Democrat presidential frontrunner Barack Obama has removed from the "About Us" page of its website a section outlining a radical belief system for blacks."
Both Stephenson and WND failed to note that the "Black Value System" can be found on its own page on the church's website. (h/t Media Matters)
Phil Brennan, in a March 18 Newsmax article, also misleadingly claimed that "a racially-charged section on the 'Black Value System' from the church’s Web site (www.tucc.org) and its 'About Us' page," then sorta got it right: "However, the church’s Web masters apparently neglected to remove a link to the Black Value System at the bottom of its home page." Who said it was neglect?
It's rather amusing to see WND in particular describe the "Black Value System" as "radical," since among its components, as WND itself listed them, are "Dedication to the Pursuit of Education," "Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence," and "Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect." What's so "radical" about that?
WorldNetDaily has apparently decided that Barack Obama must be brought down at all costs. WND posted a trio of Obama-bashing articles late on March 18:
An article by Aaron Klein -- who has made previous guilt-by-association attacks on Obama -- claiming that "an anti-American government, anti-white and virally anti-Semitic black supremacist party has endorsed the presidential candidate."
A claim that Obama's church "is launching a new elementary school that is named after an African revolutionary and promises not to give children the alphabet, reading and writing, but "African-centered teaching."
An assertion that "the Democrat [sic] senator could become haunted by his call last year to fire radio host Don Imus, who had referred to women on the Rutgers basketball team as 'nappy-headed hos.'"
The "black supremacist" article is especially hypocritical on WND part; as we noted, WND gave Ron Paul an opportunity to explain away a donation to his campaign by a white supremacist and has refused to inform its readers about a report detailing numerous bigoted attacks appearing in a newsletter issued under Paul's name.
WND has a decided lack of credibility -- as a news organization as a while, but particularly in attacking Obama. Last month, it embraced sex-and-drug allegations by a man whose claims WND apparently never bothered to fact-check, even enlisting its PR firm to promote them. But it sheepishly backed away from the claims after the man failed a polygraph test. WND has never explained to its readers why it staked so much on the man's never-verified claims -- nor has it explained why it fought a libel lawsuit by a supporter of Al Gore for seven years before finally admitting that it published false claims and abruptly settling the lawsuit.
Further, for all of its fulminating over Obama, WND has ignored Republican John McCain's recent link to controversial pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley -- perhaps because WND, which sells books written by both Hagee and Parsley, doesn't think they are controversial.
Given WND's lack of credibility, will the ultimate price of bringing down Obama be destroying WND as well? Lies, smears -- it apparently doesn't matter to Joseph Farah; Obama must go down, Farah seems to have decreed, even if Farah's own website, robbed of what little integrity it has left as continues its journalistic death spiral, goes down with it.
Just Asking ... Topic: WorldNetDaily
Does a news organization that has in the past month or so settled a libel lawsuit by admitting it published false claims, as well as promoting never-verified allegations by a man who failed a lie-detector test, have any right to call itself "truthful," as David Kupelian does in a March 18 WorldNetDaily letter begging people to join its mailing list?
As should be expected from someone with a history of attacks on Barack Obama, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler used his March 18 column to criticize Obama's speech on race matters and the controversial statements made by his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
In his eloquent speech in Philadelphia, Obama sought to distance himself from that record while retaining support from blacks who — as my friend Fox News commentator Juan Williams puts it — revel in looking at themselves as victims.
As in the past, Obama carefully parsed his words. Without specifically saying he heard these extremist comments, Obama acknowledged hearing comments by his longtime minister, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., that “could be considered controversial.”
“Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views?” Obama asked. “Absolutely — just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”
In making that remark, Obama maligned the vast majority of clergymen who would never utter the kind of anti-American hatred that Wright spews forth on a regular basis.
Obama went on to malign the many black churches that would never condone featuring such hatred in their services.
Obama also acknowledged in his speech that "a similar anger exists within segments of the white community" on racial issues, but Kessler didn't refer to that as a victim mentality -- in fact, he didn't mention that at all.
Also, nowhere does Kessler mention the controversy over his March 16 column, in which his claim that Obama attended a church service in which Wright made inflammatory remarks has been disputed by the Obama campaign. Newsmax added a passive-aggressive "clarification" in which it stood by the claim, not acknowledging that New York Times columnist William Kristol, who repeated Kessler's assertion, has retracted it.
(Meanwhile, Jim Davis, the writer of the August 2007 Newsmax article from which Kessler took his claim, now specifically claims Obama attended an early-morning service before leaving for a speech in Miami. The Newsmax "clarification" does not make a claim as to which service Obama is purported to have attended that day, nor have Kessler or Newsmax further addressed the issue.)
WND Keeps Blackout on Homeschooling Family's History Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 17 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh continues his refusal to detail the dysfunctional history of the California family at the center of a court ruling regarding homeschooling.
As we've detailed, Unruh has refused to tell his readers the history of abuse in the family of Phillip Long, which leaves the impression that Unruh and WND condone such abuse in the service of promoting the cause of homeschooling.
As Unruh has frequently done in the past, Unruh plays the Nazi card, claiming that that those he perceives as critics of homeschooling "echoed the ideas of officials from Germany, where homeschooling has been outlawed since 1938 under a law adopted when Adolf Hitler decided he wanted the state, and no one else, to control the minds of the nation's youth."
UPDATE: Let's give Unruh a little credit, though; for the very first time, he links to a copy of the appeals court ruling (though not the Dependency Court's ruling containing the full history of the family), while treating it as something that was revealed in a Facebook group of opponents of the ruling (it wasn't; the AMPS blog posted a copy on March 2). Of course, nowhere does he note that the court ruling stated that the homeschooling education the Long children have been receiving was described as "lousy," "meager" and "bad," nor did he note the shifting excuses the parents have given for not sending their children to a real school, as cited in the ruling.
CNS Still Won't Let Planned Parenthood Respond Topic: CNSNews.com
A March 18 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr reported on a Republican congressman's proposed effort to "prohibit funding for Planned Parenthood." While Starr also quotes a Democratic congresswoman defending Planned Parenthood, the bulk of the article is tilted toward the Republican's arguments. Further, while Starr has audio of the Republican, Mike Pence, her quoting of the Democrat, Lois Capps, is restricted to "a statement to Cybercast News Service."
As has been Starr's pattern in herrecentattacks on Planned Parenthood, there is no evidence offered that she made any effort to give PP officials an opportunity to respond.