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Friday, June 27, 2008
MRC's Tunnel Vision on Iraq War Coverage
Topic: Media Research Center

We've previously noted the Media Research Center's tunnel vision on the subject of Iraq war coverage and its insistence on viewing it only through the prism of "liberal media bias." MRC head Brent Bozell demonstrates it again in a June 25 appearance on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" (which followed the template by never identifying Bozell or the MRC as conservative).

Sean Hannity claimed that "a recent New York Times report stated that the media has been covering the war in Iraq less and less because there isn't any bad news to report. ... The only way I can interpret it is just what I said -- the good news, they're not going to report it, the bad news, they'll report it." Bozell concurred: "Countless studies have been done -- we've done studies on this, showing that as things got worse and worse, you had more and more coverage. But suddenly the surge came around and as the surge took off and was successful, the coverage went down." The only explanation offered by Hannity was that the "liberal, left-wing outlets" are "doing it for political reasons." Bozell quickly changed the subject.

In fact, the New York Times story in question highlights reporters' frustration with not being able to get their stories about the war on the air; a statement buried in the article by one correspondent that a decline in the relative amount of violence “is taking the urgency out” of some of the coverage is what's being plucked out and highlighted by Hannity and Bozell. Co-host Alan Colmes noted another major point from the article to Bozell: "The coverage in Iraq has become a lot more expensive because of security risks. ... That's one aspect of this you didn't mention."

And no one on the show mentioned that the Times quoted a Fox News correspondent saying that she had filed only eight reports in six weeks, adding, "The violence itself is not the story anymore." Indeed, as we've noted, Fox News has devoted less time to Iraq in recent months than its cable news rivals CNN and MSNBC. (We've previously detailed that MRC studies of war coverage have excluded Fox News unless the results can be skewed to make Fox look good.)

If Bozell can't talk about declining Iraq war coverage without admitting it's also declining on his favorite news channel as well -- which would seem to disprove his cherished hypothesis that it's being driven solely by the media's liberal bias -- why take him, and the MRC's model of criticism, seriously at all?


Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT
The Heritage of Farah's Ideals: Playing the Klan Card
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah plays the Klan card in his June 26 WorldNetDaily column, claiming that "today's radical secular agenda promoting absolute separation of church and state was a movement actually birthed by the [Ku Klux] Klan" because Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority opinion in Engel v. Vitale, which banned state officials from composing an official school prayer and requiring its recitation in public schools. Farah attacked Black as "a red-necked bully and coward in a hood and white robes" and a "racist hate monger" who was doing the "bigoted agenda" of the KKK. Farah added: "Black's racist roots have been glossed over by historians, largely because of his rulings in cases like Engle [sic] v Vitale."

As we've noted, history suggests that Black was a member of the KKK out of a combination of political expediency and anti-Catholic animus, not out of racist sympathies and that, KKK membership aside, he was likely no more a "racist hate monger" than the typical white American of that era. Farah conveniently omits that Black's "racist roots" are more credibly contravened by things like joining the unanimous opinion in Brown v. Board of Education as well as in Shelley v. Kramer, which banned racial restrictions on property covenants.

Farah also wrote:

The movement for so-called "separation of church and state" in America began in earnest as an anti-Catholic extremist effort directed by the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was successful at getting one of its own on the Supreme Court at a critical time in history.

This ignores the fact that Catholics, in significant part, didn't attend public schools and set up their own because they had traditionally been controlled by Protestants. So restricting prayer in public schools via Engel v. Vitale affected far more Protestants than Catholics, which would seem to demolish Farah's suggestion that Black's majority opinion in Engel was motivated by anti-Catholicism. (It's even more ironic that Farah is running to the defense of Catholics given WND's own anti-Catholic streak.)

Farah goes on to disingenously claim that "I don't suggest Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, shares the Klan's racist, hateful ideals" -- yeah, right -- then adda, "But I do need to point out they represent the heritage of his ideals." Well, two can play the Klan-invoking guilt-by-association game.

In a March 19 column, Farah wrote: "All things being equal, I'd rather watch the Democrats destroy America for the next four years, holding out hope that a new kind of Republican leadership might arise to fight back in 2012." Farah repeated the assertion in a May 19 column, adding, "I said it, and I mean it." But as blogger David Neiwert has pointed out, that's pretty much the same view taken by ... white supremaists:

In any event, a pattern is already developing, ranging from the Klan fellows who promise that Obama will be shot to the white supremacists who are actually rooting for him to win because they're certain he will fail. We're hearing a lot of language from the racist and "Patriot" right indicating that they expect a Democratic president to enact policies (particularly regarding gun control) that will inspire "civil war." Which means they are looking for excuses to act out.

As always with these folks, there's a lot of projection going on here. Because even if a President Obama follows only the most moderate of liberal agendas, the far right will look upon those policies as cause for "civil war." That was how they responded to Bill Clinton, after all -- a white male Southerner with generally conservative leanings. One can only imagine how a liberal black man from Illinois would fare.

Further, as the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok writes:

With the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate clinched, large sections of the white supremacist movement are adopting a surprising attitude: Electing America’s first black president would be a very good thing.

It’s not that the assortment of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, anti-Semites and others who make up this country’s radical right have suddenly discovered that a man should be judged based on the content of his character, not his skin. On the contrary. A growing number of white supremacists, and even some of those who pass for intellectual leaders of their movement, think that a black man in the Oval Office would shock white America, possibly drive millions to their cause, and perhaps even set off a race war that, they hope, would ultimately end in Aryan victory.

We're not suggesting that Farah shares the racist, hateful ideals as these white supremacists. But we do need to point out they represent the heritage of his ideals.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:21 AM EDT
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
Topic: CNSNews.com

AJune 23 CNSNews.com 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 MoveOn.org 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, ExposeObama.org, 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

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