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Friday, April 11, 2008
Stanek Misleads on 'Expelled'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 10 WorldNetDaily column by Jill Stanek, like Matt Barber over at CNSNews.com, praises the new anti-evolution film "Expelled." And, like Barber, Stanek misleads about the participation of atheists in the film. Stanek writes:

One complaint Darwinist scientists interviewed for "Expelled" have not lodged is that the filmmakers applied Michael Moore cut-and-paste editing to make them look bad. The film includes many of their long, uninterrupted thoughts.

In fact, "Darwinist scientists" have complained about their portrayal in the film: Richard Dawkins, for example, has stated that a "thought experiment" is falsely depicted as his actual beliefs, and PZ Myers has claimed that his participation in the film was obtained under false premises.

And contrary to Stanek's claim that "two Darwinian defenders, who accepted payment to talk like buffoons on the film, tried to bust into a private screening in Minnesota" and that "Myers then disrupted an "Expelled" conference call with reporters the next day," Myers points out that the signup for the private screening "was publicly linked on the web, where any idiot could get to it" and that the press conference was "a carefully controlled, closed environment in which they would spout their nonsense and only take questions by email," during which the film's producer's "they mentioned the secret code ... for the two way calls."

Stanek's statement that "According to an 'Expelled' press release, the 'Expelled' controversy held the No. 1 slot in the blogosphere all day March 24, as registered by Nielson's [sic] BlogPulse, and garnered over 800 Technorati results" is also misleading; according to Myers, "near as I can tell ... it was my exposure of their hypocrisy that was #1."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:28 AM EDT
Thursday, April 10, 2008
NewsBusters Mum on Bilal Hussein's Acquittal
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters has attacked Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, arrested in Iraq on suspicion of terrorism-related acts, numerous times over the years. Al Brown cited a columnist who claimed Hussein "looks like an accessory to murder." John Stephenson claimed Hussein "made a reputation staging anti-war propaganda photos" and cited a blogger who likened him to Josef Goebbels, then called the AP's complaint that the military had never charged Hussein with a specific crime "whining." Ken Shepherd insisted that the AP should not allowed to even report on the Hussein case. Dan Riehl alleged: "Does Hussein sound like someone with a press credential trying to get out of Fallujah, or more like a terrorist sympathizer running for his life, trying to go undetected - and bashing the US military the first chance he gets?"

With such interest in Hussein, you'd think that NewsBusters would be interested in the fact that, as the AP reported:

An Iraqi judicial committee has dismissed terrorism-related allegations against Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein and ordered him released nearly two years after he was detained by the U.S. military.

But no -- not a peep about this news development has been posted on NewsBusters, even though we're approaching 24 hours after the news first broke. Apparently they're too busy primping for their big party tonight. Or perhaps it contradicts their previous the-guy's-a-terrorist narrative too much for them to acknowledge.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:05 AM EDT
Barber Shills for Anti-Evolution Film
Topic: CNSNews.com

Matt Barber expands his repertoire somewhat, from gay-bashing to anti-evolution attacks, in an April 8 column published at CNSNews.com in which he sings the praises of Ben Stein's new anti-evolution film "Expelled."

Barber called the film "intellectually honest" without noting claims by atheist PZ Myers that he was interviewed for the film under false pretenses. Barber also repeated the movie's presentation of atheist Richard Dawkins as theorizing that an "alien life form" was responsible for the creation of the universe; in fact, as Dawkins has explained:

[M]y science fiction thought experiment -- however implausible -- was designed to illustrate intelligent design's closest approach to being plausible. I was most emphaticaly NOT saying that I believed the thought experiment. Quite the contrary. I do not believe it (and I don't think Francis Crick believed it either). I was bending over backwards to make the best case I could for a form of intelligent design. And my clear implication was that the best case I could make was a very implausible case indeed. In other words, I was using the thought experiment as a way of demonstrating strong opposition to all theories of intelligent design.

Barber regurgitates the film's premise that "secular elitists in academia, the media and the courts chew up and spit out anyone who dares to question the gospel according to Charles Darwin" without noting that Myers was barred from entering an advance screening of the movie in which he appears, even though he followed established procedure in gaining admittance. 


Posted by Terry K. at 10:30 AM EDT
Matt Sanchez vs. Gawker
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his April 9 WorldNetDaily column bashing Absolut vodka over that ad with a 19th century map (which fails to mention the fact that it ran only in Mexico), Matt Sanchez (you know, that Matt Sanchez) throws out an odd slam: "The eternally astonished, over at The Gawker, are quick to label anyone who is offended by the insult to national sovereignty a xenophobe." That was regarding a Gawker post quipping of a possible Absolut boycott over the ad (remember, again, it ran only in Mexico): "That's fine with us. Xenophobes don't need to be drinking in the first place."

What's behind this slam of a New York-centric blog the vast majority of WND readers probably doesn't even know exists, let alone would be caught dead reading?

Apparently, Sanchez has decided that everyone at Gawker is gay. From an April 7 Gawker post:

A certain right-wing blogger has a question for us, via email: "Are all of the contributors to Gawker homosexuals, because there's a level of superciliousness that must be directly tied to sexual frustration and the inability to bond with other human beings." Whoa! We'll have him know that Gawker employs a veritable handful of heterosexuals. This guy was ostensibly upset that our coverage of Absolut's pro-Mexico ad  (which the company has now apologized for) was not quite xenophobic enough. But what led this Republican internet soldier to target us in our vulnerable gay spot? It's probably his own past as a gay porn star—that does have a tendency to color one's perceptions.

Gawker thengets tangled in a email exchange with Sanchez. Sample statement by Sanchez: "If you think Mexico City would allow two dudes to get married if politicians wearing sombreros repossessed the Southwest, than you probably believe that a woman who has an operation to look like a man, is still a man when the woman is expecting her first baby."

Finally, Sanchez declares:

The Gawker is the modern day version of Playgirl, a "straight" publication gay men feel good about buying because they're tired of low quality faggy stuff the pink media puts out.

And then writes some more emails.

Funny, this weird passive-aggressive gay obsession never surfaces in his WND writings. Perhaps that's because, as far as we know, Joseph Farah has yet to publicly address why they hired a correspondent with a publicly known gay-porn past -- the kind of "seriously compromised personal life" that should presumably disqualify him from employment there because "WorldNetDaily hires only serious and experienced journalists with the highest standards of ethics – both in their professional lives and their personal lives."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2008 12:31 AM EDT
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
WND's Non-Retraction Retraction
Topic: WorldNetDaily

(Updated)

WorldNetDaily's front page currently has a link to a TV station's report that a 13-year-old girl who claimed that she was "beaten and threatened" after displaying a sign protesting illegal immigration apparently made up the story and faces a charge of false reporting.

There's no mention of WND's own story from earlier in the day unquestioningly regurgitating the girl's claim that "21 classmates attacked and beat her in response to a sign she made for a history class calling for an end to illegal immigration." It is no longer linked from the front page, but -- even though the story has now apparently been proven false -- WND has not, as of this writing, updated the story to reflect that.

Will WND print a retraction, update the story, or simply make it disappear and pretend it never existed? We'll be watching.

(We have a PDF that we'll post for posterity's sake if WND chooses the third option. Think of it as blackmail in the cause of responsible journalism.)

UPDATE: WND has now done its own article on the false report, but the old article remains posted, with no indication that it has been proven false, not even a link to the new article.

Curiously, though WND leaves out the details about how the girl made up the story. From the TV station article WND originally linked to:

After Melanie's accusations, administrators reviewed school survellience videotape of the incident - which, instead of showing students beating or attacking her, showed Bowers scratching herself on her arms, face, and neck, and walking through the halls of the school calmly long after she claimed the incident happened.

After Melanie's parents were presented with that information and the video, the school confronted Melanie, and she admitted that she made the story up.

Of course, WND has a history of not reporting newsy details when it's not in their interest to do so.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:56 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 10:39 PM EDT
Sheffield Ignores That 'Wiki Wars' Go Both Ways
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 9 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield paints a skirmish on the Wikipedia page for Absolut vodka over the mentnion of a (conservative-led) controversy over an ad Absolut ran in Mexico that portrayed much of the southwestern U.S. as part of Mexico, per an early 19th century map, as part of "the front of the Wiki Wars, the ideological battle for the soul of Wikipedia." Sheffield asserted that "it seems left-wingers at the online encyclopedia site are angry that anyone would want to mention Absolut's reconquista controversy in the vodka maker's article." Sheffield concluded by claiming that "a perfect example of how there's no need to cede dominance of the critically important resource of Wikipedia to the left." This is an update of sorts to a March 31 post in which Sheffield claimed that Wikipedia is liberal-dominated, thus giving liberals an advantage in the "war for the political metanarrative."

Sheffield ignores, however, that the "Wiki War" goes both ways. As TPM's Greg Sargent noted, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler was actively trying to scrub from his Wikipedia page references to his Obama-bashing reporting that addressed the controversy over his claim (denied by the Obama campaign and retracted by William Kristol) that Barack Obama attended a church service in which Rev. Jeremiah Wright allegedly said inflammatory things. It's a rather puffery-laden page, which suggests that Kessler or a surrogate makes an effort to maintain said puffery, at least until finally giving up over the Obama stuff. Similarly, the Wikipedia page for WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein is also puffery-laden and suspciously criticism-free (well, it was criticism-free until we took a crack at it); note the scrubbing activities of unregistered users (those identified only by IP address) and a certain "Jerusalem21" in the page's history.

For Sheffield to portray aggressive Wikipedia editing as a provice solely of "left-wingers" is inaccurate, and he might want to admit that sometime.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:44 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 4:48 PM EDT
Mychal Massie Cites VDare -- Twice!
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's not often that a black man cites the self-proclaimed "white nationalist" website VDare.com to support his arguments. But Mychal Massie is apparently no ordinary black man.

In his April 8 WorldNetDaily column, Massie cites not one but two VDare blog items by Steve Sailer to buttress his argument that Michelle Obama is a "bitter" woman "driven by anger, resentment and blind racial entitlement."

This would be the same Steve Sailer who has written in defense of the Pioneer Fund, an organization designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its support over the years of the work of white supremacists, eugenicists, and others dedicated to proving the genetic superiority of certain races. The same Steve Sailer who runs the Human Biodiversity Institute, which has been called a eugenics think tank. The same Steve Sailer who wrote of blacks stranded in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina: "The plain fact is that they tend to possess poorer native judgment than members of better-educated groups. Thus they need stricter moral guidance from society."

Sailer is presumably taking great pleasure in being treated as a authority on racial issues by Massie. And Massie seems quite happy to give Sailer that opportunity.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:28 PM EDT
New Article -- Out There, Exhibit 45: Armitage-O-Philia
Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters just can't stop falsely claiming that Richard Armitage was the first, or the only, person involved in outing Valerie Plame. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EDT
Us Vs. CRC
Topic: Capital Research Center

The Capital Research Center's Matthew Vadum responds to our critique of his NewsBusters posts on Al Gore:

Unfortunately, though, you appear to have missed the point of the post. Let me explain.

In that entry and in the April 1 item (cross-posted here) I wrote that Al Gore, the former Vice President-cum-tycoon who is now worth much more than $100 million, is trying to create an artificial market in the U.S. for the right to generate carbon dioxide emissions.

[...]

However, for reasons known only to Gore and his handlers, he is now denying the obvious, namely, that he stands to profit from the expansion of carbon trading.

But Vadum offers no evidence that, denials aside, Gore will profit from this, nor does Vadum contradict Gore's denial.

Vadum, meanwhile, misses our point: he never proves his implication that the only reason Gore is a global warming activist, as previously articulated by NewsBusters stablemate Noel Sheppard, is to make a killing.

Ultimately, Vadum states more than he can actually prove. His repeated stating of Gore's current wealth suggests he doesn't think Gore deserves it or any future earnings, which indicates his own hidden agenda.

Vadum goes on to note that we "are affiliated with Media Matters for America, an in-your-face group headed by admitted liar David Brock, and known for its hyperbolic hairsplitting, half truths, and somewhat entertaining sophistry." At the risk of further hair-splitting, we repeat: We just work there, and ConWebWatch is entirely separate from Media Matters.

Vadum then invites us to read the CRC's profile of Media Matters. Let's count the false and misleading statements in the profile's summary:

Media Matters for America is an aggressively liberal nonprofit that claims the mainstream media deliberately promotes “conservative disinformation” and must be exposed in order to protect a gullible public. The group is headed by David Brock, a former conservative journalist who switched sides and now targets his former allies using donations from George Soros and other wealthy liberal activists and foundations.

1) It's "conservative misinformation," not "conservative disinformation."

2) The assertion that Media Matters "claims the mainstream media deliberately promotes 'conservative disinformation'" is itself hyperbolic (which Vadum professes to hate). Substitute "conservative" for liberal," and the statement "claims the mainstream media deliberately promotes liberal disinformation' and must be exposed in order to protect a gullible public" more precisely describes the mission of the Media Research Center.

3) Media Matters has not received "donations from George Soros," directly or through another group. (Of course, CRC has little room to talk, having received millions from the usual conservative foundations and donors, including Mr. Moneybags himself, Richard Mellon Scaife.

The report itself -- a large chunk of which is a hyperbolic attack on David Brock, not Media Matters itself -- is similarly slippery with the facts, so yeah, we did "enjoy" reading it ... for the entertainment value. It's too biased and pejorative to be of real use to anyone who is not a right-wing fellow traveler. "Somewhat entertaining sophistry" indeed.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:34 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, May 4, 2009 2:42 PM EDT
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Compare and Contrast
Topic: NewsBusters

Media is Absent on Medal of Honor Awardees

-- headline on April 8 NewsBusters post by John Stephenson.

Wonder whose idea it was to schedule a Medal of Honor award ceremony at the White House at the same time as the Petraeus hearings?

All three cable nets broke away from hearings coverage to carry the ceremony live.

-- April 8 Talking Points Memo post by David Kurtz

UPDATE: Stephenson adds: "The media finally wakes up and starts covering this.  I wonder how much Newsbusters had to do with that." We would guess nothing -- as noted above the cable news networks covered it live, and the newspaper websites that dominate his above-linked search would generally not have made the story available on their websites until the morning paper was published. Stephenson appears to have a fundamental misunderstanding about how the newspaper industry works -- and the broadcast media, since he ignores that the cable nets covered it live.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:26 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 4:52 PM EDT
NewsBusters Slightly Less Bitter Over Pulitizers
Topic: NewsBusters

Fresh off his not-so-breaking news about Fox News' cancellation of John Gibson's show, Matthew Sheffield starts of an April 8 NewsBusters post this way:

It's not often you'll hear a right-leaning media critic say this: I agree with the Pulitzer Prize committee this year, at least when it comes to the award the committee gave to Investor's Business Daily's Michael Ramirez for his excellent cartooning work.

Why would it be unusual for a conservative to praise an prominent award given to a fellow conservative? Sheffield doesn't explain.

Sheffield then prints excerpts of an April 2007 column by his boss, Brent Bozell, complaining that the Pulitzers are "biased against right-leaning columnists." But as we noted at the time about this bitter rant, Bozell misleadingly complained (and Sheffield repeats the section here) that there was only one female conservative who had won the Pulitzer for commentary. In fact, when the New York Times' Maureen Dowd won her prize in 1999, she was advancing anti-Clinton talking points in her columns that conservatives like Bozell and Sheffield could heartily endorse.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:28 PM EDT
Shocker: Kessler Debunks Joe McCarthy Revisionism
Topic: Newsmax

Here's a shocker: There appears to be one part of the conservative agenda Bush-fluffer extrordinaire Ronald Kessler won't sign on to.

In an April 7 Newsmax column, Kessler called attempts by some conservatives to "vindicate the late Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy and his campaign to expose Soviet spies in the U.S. government" -- he doesn't name names, but they include Ann Coulter, M. Stanton Evans and Accuracy in Media -- "dangerous." Why? "The FBI agents who were actually chasing those spies have told me that McCarthy hurt their efforts because he trumped up charges, unfairly besmirched honorable Americans, and gave hunting spies a bad name." Kessler adds:

The problem was that the people McCarthy tarnished as Communists or Communist sympathizers were not the real spies. Often, the information McCarthy used came from FBI files, which were full of rumor and third-hand accounts. 

[...]

While McCarthy said he would protect the names of witnesses, their names were leaked to the press, [Senate associate historian Donald] Ritchie says. Only half a dozen of the witnesses turned up in the VENONA intercepts, all minor figures in McCarthy’s investigations, he notes.

In the end, says Ritchie, “Not one of the 500 witnesses went to jail for perjury or contempt of Congress, whereas a lot of people who testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Senate Internal Security subcommittee were investigated, prosecuted and convicted, and served jail time. Yet McCarthy was constantly accusing people of having committed perjury and urging the Justice Department to prosecute them.”

[...]

Efforts to vindicate McCarthy by people who have never caught a spy ignore the fact that rather than helping the cause of dealing with the spy threat, he harmed it.

By sanctioning McCarthy’s intimidating tactics and dishonest charges against innocent Americans, revisionists dangerously invite history to be repeated, imperiling all of us.

Ouch. How will Coulter, Evans, et al, handle this?


Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 9:19 AM EDT
WND Misleads on Zeifman's Hillary-Bashing, Ignores His Conflicting Firing Claims
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 7 WorldNetDaily article begins: "Details of Hillary Clinton's firing from the House Judiciary Committee staff for unethical behavior as she helped prepare articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon have been confirmed by the panel's chief Republican counsel."

Except that most of them weren't. 

The article states that "Franklin Polk backed up major claims by Jerry Zeifman, the general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee who supervised Clinton's work on the Watergate investigation in 1974." According to the article, "Polk confirmed Clinton wrote a brief arguing Nixon should not be granted legal counsel due to a lack of precedent."

But, in fact, the article does not claim that Polk backed any of Zeifman's "major claims" -- that Clinton's brief was "fradulent," that "Clinton deliberately ignored the then-recent case of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who was allowed to have a lawyer during the impeachment attempt against him in 1970," that "Clinton bolstered her fraudulent brief by removing all of the Douglas files from public access and storing them at her office, enabling her to argue as if the case never existed," and that "Clinton was collaborating with allies of the Kennedys to block revelation of Kennedy-administration activities that made Watergate 'look like a day at the beach.'" 

Indeed, the article states only that "Polk confirmed the Clinton memo ignored the Douglas case, but he could not confirm or dispel the claim that Hillary removed the files," adding that he considered Clinton's alleged exclusion of the Douglas precedent "more stupid than sinister."

Further, WND repeats the claim that Zeifman "fired Clinton from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation" without mentioning (as we've noted) that in 1998, Zeifman claimed that he didn't fire Clinton because he didn't have the power to do so.

WND also reprints an article by Dan Calebrese of North Star Writers, from which WND lifted the bulk of its article. Calebrese similarly claimed that Zeifman "sign[ed Hillary's] termination papers" without noting that Zeifman has previously claimed he didn't fire her because he didn't have the power to do so.

Indeed, none of Zeifman's major attacks on Hillary have been independently corroborated. And Zeifman's flip-flop about whether he fired Hillary would seem to make him an unreliable witness. 


Posted by Terry K. at 12:41 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 12:43 AM EDT
Monday, April 7, 2008
Not-So-Breaking News
Topic: NewsBusters

In an April 7 NewsBusters post, Matthew Sheffield solemnly informs us: "Fox News has canceled its long-running show 'The Big Story' which originally featured John Gibson."

But as the New York Times article to which Sheffield linked makes clear, the cancellation happened on March 12. Nowhere does Sheffield indicate that he's relating an event that happened nearly a month ago.

Insert snarky remark here about not keeping up with the news.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:31 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 12:21 AM EDT
The Gore-Bashing Baton Passes At NewsBusters
Topic: NewsBusters

Now that Noel Sheppard has apparently decided not to accept our challenge to support his unsubstantiated claim that Al Gore is into global warming activism only for the Benjamins, it was inevitable that someone else would pick up that misleading lilttle ball.

Enter Matthew Vadum, editor of Organization Trends and Foundation Watch, two newsletters issued by the conservative Capital Research Center. In an April 1 NewsBusters post, Vadum claimed that Gore was "profiteering" on global warming by heading a private equity firm that invests in "green" companies and technology. "Little is known about his shadowy firm’s finances, where it gets funding and what projects it supports," Vadum asserts, without explaining if all private-equity firms are, or should be, held to the same standard. He also derisively calls Gore "Saint Albert of Carthage, Tennessee."

Vadum kept up the hate in a April 6 post, starting with a false claim off the bat -- that Gore famously claimed to have invented the Internet." (We debunked this eight years ago.) Vadum claimed that a spokesman gave "a snotty response" when he denied Vadum's profiteering allegations.

Vadum went on to call Gore's global warming activism a "Chicken Little routine" and he suggests throughout that Gore is only doing this for the money. But correlation does not equal causation: because Gore is making some money related to his global warming activism does not mean that it's the only reason he's doing it. (We thought that conservatives believed making money was a good thing.) Nowhere does Vadum offer evidence that his beliefs are not sincere.

Vadum even attacks Gore's speaking fees:

And let’s not forget that Gore now makes $175,000 a speech. Are people paying Gore not to talk about global warming, his policy forte, in his speeches? He sure isn’t making that kind of money for his oratory by enthralling crowds with fascinating tales from his time as Vice President of the United States, an office a previous holder once described as not being worth “a bucket of warm p---.” By comparison, the rhetorical gifts of both Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale go for a more affordable $30,000 (per speech), or less.

We would argue that Vadum, as an employee of a right-wing think tank that has attacked Gore, is doing it for the money to a greater extent than Gore is.

UPDATE: Welcome, visitors from CRC. We respond to Vadum here.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:21 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, April 11, 2008 7:06 PM EDT

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