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Friday, June 27, 2008
Dick Morris Bashes Dick Morris
Topic: Newsmax

Dick Morris wrote in a June 24 Newsmax column:

Obama’s tormentors on the right keep invoking the crazy remarks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former terrorist William Ayers to convince people that Obama is some kind of sleeper agent, sent to seduce and destroy our democracy from within.

Some wonder if he is really a Muslim masquerading as a Christian.

The more these extreme charges are leveled against the Democratic nominee, the less attention we focus on the very real radical positions that he has taken, grounds enough for a vote against him.


There is so much in Obama’s record to criticize, and the right does him a service by vilifying him. You don’t have to believe that he is the Manchurian Candidate to realize that he would be way too liberal as a president.

So, who are these people vilifying Obama as a sleeper agent and a Manchurian candidate? Morris doesn't say, but they appear to include ... Dick Morris.

The very day Morris' column was published, Morris appeared on NBC's "Today" to claim, "[T]his whole debate about what kind of president [Sen. Barack] Obama would make has swirled around almost an existential level. Is he sort of a Manchurian candidate? A sleeper agent? Or is he the great hope of the future?" At no point did Morris criticize that line of reasoning.

Morris also suggested Obama was a "sleeper agent" in a May appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor." Morris has also asserted, "[T]he question that plagues Obama is ... Is he pro-American?"

If Morris wants conservatives to stop vilifing Obama, he should try not doing it himself.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:04 AM EDT
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Cliff Kincaid Anti-Obama Frenzy Watch
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Cliff Kincaid, still in anti-Obama frenzy mode, goes the Aaron Klein guilt-by-association route in his June 25 Accuracy in Media column by claiming that "[a]n actual witch who spoke at a “Pagan Pride” festival in San Francisco" has apparently endorsed a Barack Obama-sponsored "pro-U.N." bill to help fight global poverty.

Kincaid also repeats the false suggestion that the bill commits the U.S. to spend $845 billion while pretending that it hasn't been debunked: "As AIM has documented, the bill amounts to a mandate on the federal government to force compliance with the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations." In fact, neither Kincaid nore AIM have ever explained how a bill with no funding mechanism, that doesn't commit the U.S. to a targeted level of spending, and that doesn't give the United Nations the power to impose a tax on the U.S. can be interpreted as committing the U.S. to any funding at all, let alone $845 billion.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:56 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:56 PM EDT
Apparent Intra-ConWeb Plagiarism Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado drew attention early in the Republican primaries as a champion of securing the nation's borders against illegal crossing and fighting against amnesty for illegal immigrants.


With a finger-in-the-chest tone, the congressman asks McCain whether he backpedaled on border security pledges in Chicago, where it was reported the Arizona senator promised an audience of 150 Hispanic leaders "comprehensive immigration reform."

-- June 24 WorldNetDaily article

Tancredo, who drew attention early in the Republican primaries as a champion of securing the nation's borders against illegal crossing and fighting against amnesty for illegal immigrants, questions McCain on whether he is backpedaling on border security.

-- June 25 Newsmax article by Rick Pedraza

Posted by Terry K. at 12:47 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:52 PM EDT
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Secret Pro-McCain Agenda
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah says he's not helping John McCain get elected, but that's exactly what he's doing through his website's relentless attacks on Obama while not giving the same treatment to McCain. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:59 AM EDT
WND Smears Gay/Straight Alliance As 'Sex Club'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A June 25 WorldNetDaily article baselessly asserted that the purpose of establishing a "Gay/Straight Alliance" club at a South Carolina high school was "for children who want to join a sex club."

In fact, Gay/Straight Alliance clubs are geared toward providing emotional support and education to confront discrimination and homophobia. WND offers no evidence whatsoever to contradict this -- indeed, it seems to want to ensure that the homophobia continues as a part of its anti-gay agenda

The article goes on to describe those who support establishment of the club as "advocates for homosexuality," as well as invoke the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy by tossing around the word "promotion," as in "a club to promote homosexual lifestyle choices to students" and "the annual 'Day of Silence' promotional event for homosexuality." Of course, merely acknowledging that homosexuals exist is not "promotion."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 AM EDT
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
'You Can Trust What We Say and Report'
Topic: Accuracy in Media

People of a certain age and humor preference will remember the Firesign Theater. On one of its albums, there is a political ad parody in which the candidate offers the following reason to vote for him: "Because I never lie, and I'm always right."

Accuracy in Media must have had that in mind while composing the notes for its June 24 AIM Report. After noting the Barack Obama campaign establishment of a "Fight the Smears" website to counter false attacks such as Michelle Obama's purpoted "whitey" tape, AIM adds: "We never made that claim. You can trust what we say and report."

Oh, really?

Can we really trust a writer like Cliff Kincaid, who has repeatedly made the false claim that an anti-global warming bill sponsored by Obama obligates the U.S. to a $845 billion tax and believes that Obama is a Manchurian candidate -- not to mention who also thinks that the beliefs of fictional characters can be scribed to Obama and that lynching is a all-American activity?

AIM has also published columns that falsely claim that Hillary Clinton lied about her daughter's whereabouts on 9/11, misrepresent the past of former Supreme Court justice Hugo Black, mislead about reporting about Democrats, embrace false attacks, repeat bogus statistics, and align AIM with smears by a website operated by the cultlike Moonies. And then there's the AIM study embracing the dubious corellation-equals-causation-fallacy conclusion that the media is liberally biased because people think it is.

Trust what AIM says and reports? Not a chance -- not when it distorts facts and pushes false information.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:48 PM EDT
Farah: Reporters Who Don't Bash Gays Are Arrogant, Fascist
Topic: WorldNetDaily

How deep does WorldNetDaily's hatred of gays go? Just read Joseph Farah's June 25 column.

He begins by asking, "Have you ever opened up your local newspaper and wondered why there is so much coverage of homosexuals and issues of concern to homosexuals? Have you ever wondered why coverage of homosexuals and their cause is so universally positive?" He offers no evidence that this is the case; rather, he appears to be engaging in the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy of assuming that any coverage of gays that is not explicitly negative is positive.

He goes on to assert that newsrooms have been "invaded and taken over by radical activists with a perverse and extreme agenda" that supports "homosexuality and other forms of sexual deviancy" -- such as the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association -- and "ensure favorable coverage of homosexuals and their political agenda." Farah adds:

At previous national conferences, it has been suggested by participants that journalists should not even bother seeking other points of view on homosexuals' issues and stories. It has been suggested that differing points of view should not even be permitted to be aired by their news organizations.

In 2000, CBS correspondent and NLJGA member Jeffrey Kofman made the point: "The argument (is): Why do we constantly see in coverage of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues the homophobes and the fag-haters quoted in stories when, of course, we don't do that with Jews, blacks, et cetera?"

Paula Madison, vice president of diversity at NBC and news director for the NBC New York City affiliate WNBC, added: "I agree with him. I don't see why we would seek out ... the absurd, inane point of view just to get another point of view."

Kofman rejoined: "All of us have seen and continue to see a lot of coverage that includes perspectives on gay issues that include people who just simply are intolerant and perhaps not qualified as well."

But as we've detailed, Farah has no problem with refusing to report "other points of view on homosexuals' issues and stories" his own website. Of course, as we've detailed, it's reversed -- WND repeatedly engages in misleading and even false right-wing attacks on gays while never giving gays and their advocates an opportunity to respond to them. As opposed to Farah's claim that "lamestream media" of gays is "universally positive," WND's coverage of gay issues is universally negative.

And as we've also detailed, Farah is selective about the kind of things that warrant telling both sides of the story. In his book "Stop the Presses!" Farah wrote, "But fundamentally, isn't real journalism about a search for the truth? Isn't that a higher calling than 'fair and balanced'?" Indeed, Farah's "truth" does not compel him to tell his readers all relevant information -- only that which advances his brand of right-wing Christianity.

Farah also rails against journalistic conflicts of interest with the statement, "Hey, I don't care if you sleep with elephants, just don't cover the circus." It should be no surprise that Farah's own website fails that test as well; WND has a long history of refusing to disclose the personal and business interests it has in the people and stories it covers.

Farah is most disingenuous in his bashing of "activists masquerading as journalists" -- as if WND is not an advocacy journalism site. Farah concludes that "activists within the media" are "mapping a route to their own self-destruction and disfranchisement," adding, "In my humble opinion, it couldn't happen to a more arrogant bunch of fascist mind-control freaks." Is he saying that journalists who don't attack gays are arrogant and fascist? It appears so.

But Farah is also an "activist within the media" who thinks certain points of view should not be reported. Guess that makes him an arrogant, fascist mind-control freak too.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:11 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:52 PM EDT
CNS Downplays Conservative 527s, Ignores Independent Anti-Obama Ads

AJune 23 article by Pete Winn downplaying the influence of independent conservative 527 groups as "raised far less money than such groups affiliated with Democrats" failed to note that such independent groups aren't limited to being registered under Section 527 of the tax code.

Indeed, the same day Winn's article appeared, CNS ran an Associated Press article noting ads from independent groups attacking Obama:

Shortly before North Carolina's May 6 primary, the state Republican Party aired a TV ad linking Democratic candidates to Obama, who was described as "too extreme" because of his ties to the retired Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.


In South Dakota, a TV station briefly aired an ad that was edited to show Obama saying, "we are no longer a Christian nation, we are also a Muslim nation." It omitted his saying, in the same speech, that the United States is not solely a Christian nation.

The ad, which included a photo of Obama wearing a turban as part of a traditional outfit given to him in Africa, concluded with a man saying: "It's time for people of faith to stand against Barack Hussein Obama." A group called the Coalition Against Anti-Christian Rhetoric paid for the ad, which stations quickly dropped after the Obama campaign complained.

Winn also singled out for co-producing an anti-McCain ad and "hosting its own pro-Obama campaign events," but failed to mention that MoveOn has decided to shut down its 527 operation, in part because Obama's campaign has expressed its displeasure over such operations. Another liberal-leaning group, Progressive Media USA, abandoned its efforts for the same reason, which Winn also failed to mention.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:41 AM EDT
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Ponte Smears Dems, Lies About Obama
Topic: Newsmax

In a June 23 Newsmax column, Lowell Ponte purported to describe the appeal to Democrats of the anti-McCain "Baby Alex" TV ad -- that Democrats are idiots:

But the political left has an advantage here. The majority of those who vote for Democrats come from that half of our population that has an IQ of 100 or lower.

These sheep neither notice nor care about the irrationality and cynically manipulative nature of this dishonest all-feelings, no-brain ad. It’s no accident that the actress performing this ad spoke her lines like a dimwit, all the better to bamboozle its target audience.

Ponte, you may remember, still thinks Barack Obama attended a madrassa, so he has little room to complain about others being "cynically manipulative" or having a deficit of functioning brain cells.

Ponte then tells a lie in the form of a proposed response ad:

“Hi, Barack Obama. This is Alex. He’s my first. But if you expect him to pay off the $4 trillion in tax increases and extreme government spending you advocate — and to spend most of his working life paying an 83 percent tax rate to fund your socialist schemes — you can’t have him.”

Ponte offers no evidence that Obama wants to raisse tax rates to 83 percent -- perhaps because there isn't any. And we don't know where Ponte got his claim that Obama is planning "$4 trillion in tax increases"; in fact, the only reference to that number we've seen in relation to the federal budget is that $4 trillion is the size of the budget hole that will exist if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to stand past 2010 and if the alternative minimum tax is repealed -- both of which are not only not "socialist schemes" but favored by conservatives like Ponte.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center
An appearance by Amy Menefee of the MRC's Business and Media Institute on the June 21 edition of "Fox & Friends Weekend" followed the template in that she appeared solo. The video supplied by NewsBusters includes only statements by Menefee and edits out everything else, making it impossible to determine how closely the rest of the template -- Fox News hosts tossing softball questions to cue up the MRC rep's talking points -- is being followed.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:05 AM EDT
Who Ripped Off Who?
Topic: Newsmax

"Obama Would Leave America Unprotected" -- headline of Ronald Kessler's June 23 Newsmax column

"Obama Plan Aids Terrorists, Imperils U.S." -- headline of Dick Morris' June 23 Newsmax column

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EDT
Monday, June 23, 2008
Cliff Kincaid Anti-Obama Frenzy Watch
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Cliff Kincaid's latest bit of commie-obsessed anti-Obama frenzy is a June 22 Accuracy in Media column in which he insists that a "patriotic" Barack Obama ad is "false advertising" because it doesn't mention "his childhood mentor, Communist Frank Marshall Davis."

Kincaid repeats his assertion that  Davis' "'poetry' is viciously anti-American," citing an April 30 column he wrote. But the only evidence Kincaid provided that Davis' poetry was "anti-American" was a piece in which Davis railed against "sniping Dixie lynchers/In the jungles of Texas and Florida." So it's anti-American to oppose lynching? Does Kincaid think there's not enough lynching these days?

Kincaid also repeats his previous false claim that an Obama-sponsored "extreme pro-U.N." bill in the Senate commits the U.S. to spending $845 billion to fight global poverty, adding, "Obama and his media backers have been whining for months that I have somehow misinterpreted the provisions of his bill. But they have failed to produce a serious rebuttal of the facts I have presented." In fact, as Media Matters detailed -- and to which Kincaid has not specifically responded that we've seen -- the Global Poverty Act would establish no specific funding source, would not commit the United States to any targeted level of spending, nor would it give the U.N. the power to impose a tax on the U.S.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:40 PM EDT
WND vs. Real Journalists, Part 3
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've noted how WorldNetDaily gave the whitewash treatment to right-wing activist Floyd Brown, failing to mention said right-wing activism and fawningly calling him and his wife "accomplished authors and speakers."

The New York Times, meanwhile, offered a much more honest account of Brown in a June 21 article, noting "his trade of bludgeoning a Democratic candidate for president" and pointing out that he "says it is his calling to tread where the campaign is unwilling to tread in finding malicious gossip on a Democratic nominee."

While WND did a second article on Brown on June 20 noting his gimmicky offer "to stop his political advertising campaign if the Democrat agrees to put himself under the rules of the nation's public finance rules this year," the Times offered hard numbers, noting that Brown's organization,, was "showing $40,000 in the bank between two committees at the end of March for its first-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission," adding, "With most big-money conservative donors remaining cautious, Mr. Brown is focusing more on his political action committees. That could limit his ability to raise large sums. The maximum donation to such entities is $5,000."

A real news organization would tell the full story of Floyd Brown and not just reprint his press releases. WND is not that news organization, for this and other reasons we've documented.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:16 AM EDT
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Aaron Klein's 38th anti-Obama article for WorldNetDaily is a bit of a muddle. He appears desperate to paint as negatively as possible Barack Obama's statement that America is "no longer just a Christian nation," but he offers no evidence that there's anything incorrect or offensive about the statement, beyond various right-wing critics purporting to be offended by it who also don't say exactly what's supposedly incorrect or offensive about it.

Klein went on to claim that Obama statement "echoed similar statements made by Merrill A. McPeak, Obama's military adviser and national campaign co-chairman. As WND reported, in a 2003 interview with The Oregonian newspaper, McPeak seemed to compare evangelical Christians to the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah."

Note the weasel word "seemed to." Klein offers no evidence McPeak actually did make such a comparison, only that he seemed to make it. 

Klein also curiously fails to mention a relevant fact about Obama's opponent, John McCain: that he did in fact call certain right-wing evangelical preachers "agents of intolerance." Why won't Klein hold McCain responsible for that statement, but is trying to gin up a controversy about remarks that he can't back up as being the offensive claim he asserts them to be?

After all, Klein is the guy who absurdly claimed he doesn't have an anti-Obama agenda. Why doesn't he demonstrate it?

UPDATE: It's worth noting that the only way Obama's statement could be even remotely controversial is if it's misquoted to claim that Obama said that America isn't a Christian nation, rather that America isn't just a Christian nation. That's exactly what the headline for Klein's article does -- "Obama: America is 'no longer Christian." Thus, the headline misrepresents Klein (who quoted Obama correctly) to twist his muddled attack even further into an absolutely false claim.

UPDATE 2: WND perpetuates the false claim with its daily poll question: "Is the United States a Christian nation?"

Posted by Terry K. at 12:37 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, June 23, 2008 7:15 PM EDT
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Farah: Durbin 'Anti-Semitic' for Citing Dante's Inferno
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a June 20 column titled "Dick Durbin's anti-Semitic rant," WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah had a most bizarre reaction to the Illinois senator defending Michelle Obama by noting that "The hottest ring in hell is reserved for those in politics who attack their opponents' families":

Since writing that column, it has come to my attention the phrase Durbin used has long and strong anti-Semitic connotations and roots.

The phrases "hottest ring in hell" and "the deepest ring of hell" and "the fourth circle of the ninth ring of hell" were 14th century literary inventions by Dante, author of "The Inferno" and "The Divine Comedy."

In the latter work, Dante reserves that deepest ring of hell for Judecca or la Giudecca – or, in plain English, the Jews.

In Dante's native Italian, the name was "Judecca" or "la Giudecca," the common name for the Jewish quarter of European cities from which they were forbidden to leave. Even the word "ghetto" is believed to be a derivation of this word for Jewish quarter.

Did Dick Durbin know this?

Has he used this phrase in the past?

Is it part of his lexicon?

Is Dick Durbin conducting a subtle form of Jew-baiting here?

Farah gets his Dante wrong in a couple major ways. First, he suggests that "The Inferno" and "The Divine Comedy" are separate works; in fact, "The Inferno" is the first section of "The Divine Comedy."

Second, Farah rather bizarrely ascribes anti-Semitic motives to citing "The Inferno." In fact, the ninth circle of hell is reserved for traitors, and scholars (here, here and here) have interpreted "Judecca," the fourth section of the ninth circle as derivative of Judas, not Jews -- other sections are named after Cain, Antenor and Ptolemy -- and is for those who betray their lords and benefactors. There's a hint of Jewish criticism in Dante's use of the name that arguably would not be out of character for a 14th century Christian; author Stephen Haynes writes that Dante portrays Jews as "a people comprised exclusively of saints and traitors" though there is an "absence of explicit anti-Judaism" in "The Inferno."

For Farah to claim or even suggest that Durbin hates Jews because he cited Dante's Inferno is offensive in the extreme, not to mention libelous. You'd think Farah would be sensitive to such things by now.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:53 PM EDT

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