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Saturday, September 6, 2008
WND Gushes Over Palin; Does Farah Know?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Does Joseph Farah have any control at all over what happens on his own website? It appears not.

As we've detailed, Farah's message of voting for "none of the above" -- that is, don't elect Barack Obama or John McCain -- is canceled out by WorldNetDaily's news coverage, which attacks Obama but uncritically peddles McCain talking points. McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as vice president makes the split even more clear.

Farah grudgingly admitted in a Sept. 4 column that "I have to admit, I like Sarah Palin. In fact, if she were at the top of the ticket, I would probably vote for her myself," but the problem is that "she's not on the top of the ticket. Sadly, she is window dressing for the ascension of John McCain to the presidency," who he insists is "a radical extremist on illegal immigration."

While Farah grumbled, WND's news pages went orgasmic over the selection of Palin. 

  • "A star is born," trumpeted the headline on a Sept. 4 article by Art Moore, who gushed that Palin "rose above the expectations birthed last week when John McCain stunned the nation by choosing the Alaska governor as his running mate." 
  • A Sept. 3 article by Moore uncritically reported that "six female Republican leaders denounced 'the outrageous smear campaign'" against Palin, failing to note that McCain's own national campaign co-chair, former eBay chairman Meg Whitman, said that it was "the right thing to do" for the media to dig into the background of someone who is "running for the highest office in the land" and that she didn't detect any sexism in the news coverage.
  • A Sept. 5 article by Moore profiled members of Alaska's delegation at the Republican National Convention, who declared "bring it on" to "reporters probing every nook and cranny of their popular governor's life and work." Moore also defended the McCain campmaign against allegations that Palin was not properly vetted prior to her selection and downplayed claims that Palin fired the state's public safety commissioner "because he refused to dismiss the governor's brother-in-law, a state trooper going through a messy divorce with her sister," adding that "Other members of the state's delegation contend it's clear Monegan should have fired the trooper for gross misbehavior, such as driving drunk on the job and Tasing a young teen." Moore does not substantiate those claims.

WND has not been reticent in the past about manipulating news content on its website to promote a particular agenda, so there's no excuse for Farah to stop now. Does David Kupelian -- who has endorsed McCain -- have such an iron grip on news operations that Farah is afraid to cross him?

Or it could be that Farah is merely playing a cynical game and secretly wants McCain to win after all. Either way, it would seem to make him an extrordinarily dishonest journalist and businessman.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:52 AM EDT
WND Repeats Unverified Savage Claim
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 3 WorldNetDaily article uncritically repeated a claim that "Michael Savage's new autobiography, self-published and available on the website, has surpassed the sales of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent publication, 'Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters.'" The article added: "Officials for Savage's radio show, which is heard by an estimated 8-10 million listeners weekly, confirmed to WND that publicly available sales totals for Pelosi's book after one week were about 2,300, and while they wanted to withhold exact numbers, sales of 'Psychological Nudity' had surpassed that significantly in its first week."

WND offers no information about how it "confirmed" Savage's numbers, given Savage's desire to "withhold exact numbers." Since the book is self-published, outside verification would be difficult if not impossible; WND provides no reason why readers should implicitly trust Savage's accounting.

The article adds a quote from Savage's actual press release, which states, "The power of talk radio and the Internet is once again being ignored by the failing publishing and newspaper industries." The article does not explain how having purportedly greater sales than Pelosi is a meaningful measure of anything, let alone "the power of talk radio and the Internet."

Further, Savage's bashing of the "failing" publishing industry is odd, given that Savage's four previous books were made available through publishing houses -- WND's book division and Thomas Nelson. Typically, one resorts to self-publishing only when a publishing house will not otherwise take the book. After all, if Savage's book sales were really as good as he claims they are, he'd still be with a real publisher, right?

Posted by Terry K. at 10:25 AM EDT
NewsBusters Splits Hairs to Attack Palin Fact-Checks
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters appears to be opening a new front in attacking insufficiently positive coverage of Sarah Palin -- nitpicking fact-checks of her claims.

A Sept. 5 post by Lyndsi Thomas asserted that a fact-check of Palin's Republican National Convention speech by CNN "needs a little fact checking of its own."

One of the statements in Palin's speech that CNN found "false" was her claim that she "stood up to the special interests and the lobbyists." To negate this claim, Feyerick said, "Palin was the Wasilla mayor to hire a Washington lobbyist, securing $11 million in special funding for the town." However, Palin prefaced this particular statement by saying "This was the spirit that brought me to the governor's office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau," signifying that her claim of standing up to special interests, lobbyists and big oil companies took place when she became governor.

In other words, she was for it before she was against it, and that's a distinction Thomas doesn't think is worthy of note.

Thomas also complains that CNN notes that "as governor, Palin asked Congress for $453 million for earmarks" but "hardly mentions Obama's requests for earmarks, including one for his wife's hospital." But Obama hasn't run an anti-earmark crusade like Palin has.

In a similar nitpicking vein, a Sept. 5 post by Michael M. Bates takes issue with Palin's claim that when she decided to sell a state-owned jet, "I put it on eBay." The Tribune points out that "Palin's statement implied the plane was sold through the online auction site," when in fact it didn't sell on eBay and was ultimately sold through other means. Bates didn't like that approach, choosing to go ultra-literal:

So what part of Palin's claim doesn't fly?  She didn't assert the plane sold on eBay, merely that "I put it on eBay."  Seems like the Tribune, in its eagerness to expose the "real Sarah," came to an incorrect conclusion and not one supported by the governor's original contention.

Bates might want to mention that to John McCain, who declared that Palin "took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — made a profit." See, he thinks "put on eBay" means "sold on eBay" too!

McCain, by the way, embellished the false claim with a second one -- that plane was sold at a profit. In fact, the state lost a half-million dollars on the deal.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:05 AM EDT
Friday, September 5, 2008
WND's Mercer Fails to Call Palin Kid 'Bastard'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We pondered the other day whether WorldNetDaily columnist Ilana Mercer would have the courage of her declared convictions of bringing back "shame – deep, abiding disgrace" for pregnant teenagers and to "bring back the pejorative 'bastard'" for their offspring in relation to the case of Bristol Palin.

We have our answer: no.

In her Sept. 5 column, Mercer fails to use the word "bastard," instead referring to Bristol's "out-of-wedlock pregnancy." (Ineffibly Victorian of her, as Mark Finkelstein might say.) That's the extent of Mercer's criticism of Bristol. As for her mother, Mercer complained mildly that Sarah Palin issued an "excessively exuberant press release" about Bristol's pregnancy, then adding, " Last night, Sarah Palin made no unnecessary allusions to her daughter's condition. No unappetizing details were disclosed."

(Then again, Mercer also previously stated her support for shotgun weddings, so she also likely approves of Levi Johnston.)

Indeed, Mercer slavered all over Sarah Palin: "She's a pit-bull with lipstick, all right – lipstick, and sharp stilettos. A potent mix of style and substance." She even approved of Palin's attacks on Obama: "Neither has Sarah any qualms about savaging 'Our Opponent' – first she depersonalized her rival, rendering him nameless, and then moved in for the kill."

Remember, Mercer also defended Michael Vick for dogfighting and thinks the children of those teen girls being married off in that polygamist cult are "frolicking in the open air on a large compound, doing [their] daily chores and feasting on hearty homegrown fare."

Posted by Terry K. at 4:07 PM EDT
The Finkelstein File
Topic: NewsBusters

The Republican National Convention seems to have fired up Mark Finkelstein's propensity for making misleading claims.

In a Sept. 4 NewsBusters post, Finkelstein ridiculed DNC chairman Howard Dean for referencing an "informal focus group" of his wife and "five women [who] work for her and some of them are Republicans" to gauge reaction to Sarah Palin's RNC speech. "Move over, Rasmussen, and let Howard take over!" Finkelstein sneered, adding, "Any polling experts out there?  Wondering what the margin of error might be on a non-anonymous, five-person sample exclusively composed of people who rely on your family for their livelihood."

Of course, Dean never claimed his little group to be an accurate representation of opinion -- his use of the word "informal" might have clued Finkelstein into that. But, via TPM, let's check in with some actual focus groups whose methodology may be a little closer to Finkelstein's liking, for reaction to Palin's speech:

  • The independents in a voter panel assembled by the Detroit Free Press appeared to be less than impressed by Palin's speech.
  • Two different focus groups of Nevada women who had supported Hillary Clinton showed that they "were impressed with Palin's speaking ability and poise. But they were hardly convinced that she was qualified to be vice president, or that she truly represented the 'change' they were looking for, especially in light of what was deemed an overly harsh "sarcasm" pervading her address."

In a Sept. 5 post, Finkelstein played the conservative card of favorably comparing U.S. troop deaths in Iraq to, say, murders in a given American city, citing a report claiming 123 people were murdered in Chicago over the summer, "nearly double the number of soldiers killed in Iraq over the same time period." Finkelstein adds: "Will some enterprising MSM member ask Obama if he'll call for a police surge to protect the lives of his own Illinois constitutents?"

As we and others have noted, such death comparisons are misleading because they don't take into account the population base from which the numbers are taken. In this case, the 123 murders in Chicago took place in a population of 2.8 million; the half-that-number deaths of U.S. soldiers took place in a population of about 150,000 troops stationed there. This means the death rate of the soldiers in Iraq is still several times higher than the murder rate in Chicago.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:33 PM EDT
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've lost track of exactly how many anti-Obama articles WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has written -- it's well over 50 by now. Add to the long list a Sept. 4 article playing the guilt-by-association angle, citing praise for Barack Obama and criticism of John McCain in "Iranian state-run media" as indicative of ... something.

Ultimately, of course, it's indicative of nothing but Klein's and WND's obsessive anti-Obama agenda. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:26 AM EDT
Newsmax Flip-Flops on Prosecuting Ex-Presidents
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 4 Newsmax article by Jim Meyers relates the apparently shocking news -- complete with video -- that Joe Biden said that he and Barack Obama "could bring criminal charges against the Bush administration if they are elected in November."

Things used to be different at Newsmax on the subject of a new administration investigating a previous administration. From a dejected-sounding Jan. 10, 2001, article by Wes Vernon:

The damage is done. So there will be no prosecutions.

That is the expected approach of the incoming Bush administration on the Communist Chinese espionage, the stealing of U.S. nuclear weapons secrets, illegal campaign contributions to the Democrats by Chinese operatives, and the allegations of the sharing of secrets with the Chinese government by U.S. defense contractors who were also Democratic contributors.

There's also this from July 1, 2001:

President Bush's poll numbers have begun to slide recently and at least one Democratic-leaning pundit thinks it's because he's let the Clintons off the hook even as new allegations of corruption against Bill, Hillary and Roger Clinton continue to swirl.

And this from March 19, 2002:

Yet despite ample evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Clinton family members, there's been no Andersen-like blanket indictments of the Clinton administration - or, for that matter, of anyone at all.


Employees at Arthur Andersen, not to mention the rest of us, are entitled to know why the Justice Department has come down on the accounting firm like a ton of bricks while ignoring less politically convenient prosecutions.

Or this, from Jan. 13, 2002:

Now that the Washington scandal machine has Bush in its crosshairs, it's time for the president to make sure the rules apply to both sides equally - and if that means prosecuting Bill and Hillary Clinton, so be it.

And here's an Aug. 28, 2002, article by Phil Brennan:

The Bush administration is moving to quash any public airing of such scandalous pardons as that of fugitive Marc Rich, and the sleazy activities of first brother Roger Clinton in trying to arrange pardons-for-a-fee for convicted felons.

And a critic alleges that it is a result of "a tacit agreement between the Clintonites and the Bushites not to probe too deeply into each others affairs.”

Detect a pattern here? Newsmax wanted Clinton to fry, but is recoiling in horror that the Bush administration might be held accountable for its behavior. Double standard much?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
CNS' Jones Shows Her 'Liberal Media' Bias

A Sept. 4 article by Susan Jones carries the headline "Liberal Media Responds to Pitbull Palin." But it's misleading -- the headline is written in a way to suggest the "liberal media" is using "Pitbull Palin" as a pejorative. In fact, in her Sept 3 acceptance speech, self-proclaimed hockey mom Palin described herself that way, noting that "the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is "lipstick."

Further, Jones offers no evidence that the media outlets she lists are "liberal." (Yes we know it's a matter of faith that conservatives like Jones believe there is such a thing as a "liberal media," but we beleive in the journalistic principle of offering actual facts to back up one's words.) She quotes from the New York Times, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. But he also cites "one comment on the liberal Daily Kos Web site," as well as the definitely-not-liberal-media New York Post.

P.S. Jones doesn't note it, but the conservative-leaning Boston Herald used "Pit bull Sarah Palin" in the headline of its story on Palin's speech, further undercutting her suggestion that only the "liberal media" is using that term.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:33 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 5, 2008 2:00 AM EDT
Biden Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: Newsmax

One of the innumerable TV talking heads made the prescient observation last week that Sen. Joe Biden “doesn’t have an off button.” He doesn’t have a lot of other buttons, either, like an honesty button, a non-partisan button, or a modesty button.

What he does have is a big ego button, a narcissism button, a windbag button, an arrogance button, a phony button, and a huge B.S. button.

Senator Hairplugs and Capped Teeth — he has more than a shark — has been around Washington longer than anyone can remember, and like his running mate, went right from law school to pursuing a political career, which tells you something about their real experience and motivation.

-- Barrett Kalellis, Sept. 3 Newsmax column

Posted by Terry K. at 1:08 AM EDT
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Unruh Still Leaving Important Fact Out of His Attack on Pelosi
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 2 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh reprises his attack on Nancy Pelosi for claiming that "the Catholic Church, of which she claims membership, never has been able to define the start of a human life," this time highlighting criticism of a Catholic bishops group. Unruh noted that "19 Catholic members of Congress suggested Pelosi offer a correction," but failed to mention, as before, that all 19 are Republicans.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:33 PM EDT
Quote of the Day
Topic: Newsmax

Welcome back, Dad, even if you’re wearing a dress and bearing children this time around.

-- Michael Reagan, Sept. 4 Newsmax column declaring Sarah Palin the "new Ronald Reagan."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:10 PM EDT
Who Are The New Victorians Again?
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 3 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein writes: "Be grateful for small things. [NBC's] Ann Curry didn't call Bristol Palin's baby 'illegitimate' or a 'bastard.'  She settled for 'out-of-wedlock.'" He adds: "Out of wedlock?  How ineffably Victorian."

Finkelstein fails to note that there are right-wingers for whom "out of wedlock" is not nearly Victorian enough. As we've noted, Ilana Mercer wrote in a June 27 WorldNetDaily column:  

Resurrect shame – deep, abiding disgrace. While you're at it, whatever became of the shotgun wedding? Bring back the pejorative "bastard." I don't like it; it's hurtful, but it had its uses. So does hurt. With hurt come hard-won insights. The prospect of bearing a bastard once forced a parent to think: Do I want my child to bear this burden? Do I want for myself the status of an unwed, untaught mother? Expel pregnant girls; don't cater to them and kit them out.

Let's not pretend that right-wingers have totally abandoned their pejorative views of teen pregnancy just because they're afraid to criticize their new right-wing star, even as Finkelstein strives to put his best spin on it: "As a technical matter, whenever the baby was conceived, isn't Bristol 'having' the child 'in wedlock'"?

We know Finkelstein won't apply those words to Bristol Palin; how about Ilana Mercer?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:58 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 4, 2008 3:02 PM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 2 appearance by the MRC Culture & Media Institute's Kristen Fyfe on Fox News' "America's Election HQ" to discuss media coverage of Sarah Palin followed the template: Fyfe appeared solo and is not identified as a conservative.

Fox performs the same favor for Brent Bozell on the Aug. 4 edition of "Fox & Friends." Indeed, co-host Steve Doocy helpfully obscured Bozell's slant in plugging it: "If you want to track the media bias, you can go to, it's for insight, or" As if the only possible media bias out there is liberal.

Bozell also claimed that "they are allowing sleazemeisters at the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos to run the news divisions on the networks by running stuff that they run first and say, well, the bloggers ran this, so we're going to talk about it. No, you're continuing to give airtime to lies when you do something like that." He offered no example of a "lie" reported at Kos or HuffPo that later appeared on a network news broadcast. Remember, MRC employees were demanding that the mainstream media report on the National Enquirer's claims about John Edwards' affair long before the rumors were confirmed.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:29 PM EDT
WND Ignores One GOP Woman's View of Palin Coverage
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 3 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore states that "six female Republican leaders denounced 'the outrageous smear campaign'" against Sarah Palin, adding that "Carly Fiorina, a top John McCain adviser, said the Republican party 'will not stand by while Governor Palin is subjected to sexist attacks.'"

Moore fails to note that another prominent female McCain supporter, national campaign co-chair and former eBay chairman Meg Whitman, said of the media's coverage of Palin:

"I actually think it's completely fair for the media to vet Sarah Palin," Whitman said, adding that it was "the right thing to do" for the media to dig into the background of someone who is "running for the highest office in the land."

Asked directly whether there had been any media sexism, she replied: "I wouldn't say there really has."

Of course, that would have interfered with Moore's (and WND's) pro-McCain agenda.

UPDATE: A Sept. 3 Washington Examiner article does the same thing.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:06 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 5, 2008 8:10 PM EDT
Caruba Falsely Claims Earth is Cooling

In his Sept. 2 column, Alan Caruba wrote: "The Earth is not warming. It has been cooling for a decade."

Well, no. As Media Matters noted, British meterological experts and researchers point out that "[t]emperatures are continuing to rise" and states that "[a] simple mathematical calculation of the temperature change over the latest decade (1998-2007) alone shows a continued warming of 0.1° C per decade." Further, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports that "[t]he eight warmest years in the [global] GISS record have all occurred since 1998, and the 14 warmest years in the record have all occurred since 1990."

Posted by Terry K. at 7:31 AM EDT

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