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Tuesday, September 23, 2008
MRC's Double Standard on Partisan Prosecutors
Topic: Media Research Center

A lengthy Sept. 23 NewsBusters post by Jason Aslinger defends Sarah Palin's decision to stonewall the "so-called" Troopergate investigation, citing "the obvious bias underlying the entire investigation" and "a series of biased statements" made by "[t]he democrat legislator in charge of the probe, Hollis French." That's a big flip-flop on the part of the Media Research Center, which a decade ago defended Clinton-era independent counsel Kenneth Starr from accusations that he was acting in a partisan manner -- and seem to indicate a partisan prosecutor was a good thing (at least, if that partisanship benefited conservatives).

A January 1998 CyberAlert, for example, complained that "Dan Rather has spent four years incessantly tagging Starr as 'the Republican special prosecutor.'" A September 1998 CyberAlert asserted that raising questions about Starr's conduct as a "White House diversionary strategy."

An April 1998 column by Brent Bozell was annoyed that "For years, liberal media figures have drubbed independent counsel Kenneth Starr as a partisan, carrying every James Carville attack, pointing fingers at Starr's speect as Pat Robertson's Regent University, his thoughts of filing an amicus brief in the Paula Jones case, his legal representation of tobacco companies and school choice advocates." He then jumped to Starr's defense by painting him as, if nothing else, less partisan than special prosecutors investigating Republicans:

But if the public doesn't know all the facts about Bill Clinton, how can they know all the facts about Ken Starr? How can a polling sample of 1,000 average Americans judge the fine legal points of the Starr team's (unknown) case?

[...]

Who do the people in these polling samples have to compare Kenneth Starr to? The media never asked about partisanship by Lawrence Walsh who indicted Caspar Weinberger four days before the 1992 election.

[...]

Nor was this a tactic whe media used for Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, who invited Ted and Ethel Kennedy to witness his swearing-in ceremony in 1973, and loaded his staff with former aides of Robert Kennedy's Justice Department and people who ran for office as Democrats and served as chairmen of Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. In all their stories questioning Starr, the networks have never once explored the partisanship of Starr's predecessors, whose partisanship was demonstrably more pronounced.

So, it appears that the MRC believes it was a bad thing for the Clinton administration to cite Starr's partisanship as a reason to be less than cooperative with his investigation because of his partisanship, it's a good thing for Palin to stonewall Hollis French. That just pretty much screams "double standard," doesn't it?


Posted by Terry K. at 2:25 PM EDT
CNS Misleads Again About Obama's Position on Abortion Law
Topic: CNSNews.com

A Sept. 22 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr on Obama campaign criticism of an ad attacking him as a "despicable lie" fails to completely report Obama's history on the issue at hand.

Starr repeated claims that "the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Act, along with a Roe-v-Wade shield amendment identical to the language added to the federal version of the bill" without noting that, as we've detailed, a state law containing the same language as the federal law would not have offered the same protection because federal laws do not regulate abortion as state laws do. Thus, a state law that declared it was not undermining Roe v. Wade -- the provison cited by anti-abortion activists as the identical clause in both the state and federal laws in question -- would also need to specifically state it was also not undermining relevant state abortion regulations as well.

Starr also failed to mention Obama's other defense for not supporting a "born alive" law -- that it was unnecessary because the behavior it banned was already illegal, meaning that such a law would be a political statement instead of a new prohibition. She further fails to note that in 2005, a "born alive" law did pass in Illinois that specifically stated that it would not affect "existing federal or state law regarding abortion," a clause missing from earlier versions of the bill.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:32 AM EDT
Corsi Still Hiding Raines' Denial of Obama Link
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've previously asked whether Jerome Corsi would back off the disputed claim that former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines is an adviser to Barack Obama. We have our answer: nope.

A Sept. 22 WorldNetDaily article by Corsi repeats that claim that Raines is an Obama adviser in the midst of accusing him of "receiv[ing] preferential home loans as industry favors." Again, nowhere does Corsi note that both Raines and the Obama campaign have denied that Raines is an Obama adviser.

Wouldn't that be an important thing to report? Corsi doesn't think so. Which is why we've pointed out how closely Corsi's shoddy reporting tracks that of his employer.

By contrast, a Sept. 23 CNSNews.com article by Matt Cover and Matt Hadro on Raines notes the denial -- in fact, it's noted twice. But it also claims that "Raines reportedly earned $90 billion during his time as Fannie Mae’s CEO," which we're pretty sure is wrong.

(UPDATE: CNS has now corrected that to a more logical "$90 million.l")


Posted by Terry K. at 9:03 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:14 PM EDT
Kincaid Defends McCain by Smearing WaPo
Topic: Accuracy in Media

A Sept. 22 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid is a mess of wild attacks against the Washington Post, accusing it of telling "whoppers." But Kincaid himself is engaged in his own tall-tale telling.

Noting that a John McCain attacking Barack Obama claiming that former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines is "advis[ing]" Obama is based on a statement in a Post article, Kincaid then attacks a Post fact-check that told the full story:

It seems that the Post “fact-checker,” Michael Dobbs, realized that her story was extremely damaging to Obama. So he went back to [Anita] Huslin [author of the Post profile of Raines where this claim originated] for a different version of the conversation and got her to say that Raines’s advice to Obama was about “general housing, economy issues.”

But wait. Didn’t Huslin report that Raines said that he was advising Obama on “mortgage” issues? Remember that her story said that Raines had “taken calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.”

Isn’t this as plain as the nose your face? Do words mean what they say?

But this would mean that the McCain ad against Obama was true. And the Post couldn’t permit itself to come to this conclusion.

Having gotten Huslin to somewhat change her story about what she had previously reported, Dobbs reported that Huslin also now believed that Raines’s advice was “Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific” and, therefore, the McCain ad was misleading.

Please understand what is happening here. Dobbs was so determined to find McCain guilty of airing an inaccurate ad that he had to take issue with the reporting of his own paper that was the basis of the ad. The only way he could find McCain guilty of running a misleading ad was to find his own paper guilty of running a misleading story. This was the price that had to be paid to save Obama from a messy situation.

Huslin got the message and changed her story so that Dobbs could bash McCain. This is how bad the bias has become at the Post. It is embarrassing the lengths to which the paper will go to protect Obama.

But that's not what the fact-check said:

Since this has now become a campaign issue, I asked Huslin to provide the exact circumstances of the quote. She explained that she was chatting with Raines during the photo shoot, and asked "if he was engaged at all with the Democrats' quest for the White House. He said that he had gotten a couple of calls from the Obama campaign. I asked him about what, and he said 'oh, general housing, economy issues.' ('Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific,' I asked, and he said 'no.')"

By Raines's own account, he took a couple of calls from someone on the Obama campaign, and they had some general discussions about economic issues. I have asked both Raines and the Obama people for more details on these calls and will let you know if I receive a reply.

Kincaid has no evidence that Dobbs somehow coerced Huslin and "got her to say" something different than what she reported and "change her story," as he suggests, let alone that anything was done specifically to "prote t Obama." Kincaid also offers no evidence, other than Huslin's apparently somewhat overstated claim, that taking a couple calls from someone in the Obama campaign makes Raines an "adviser" on the level the McCain portrays it.

Rather than demonstrating how "embarrassing the lengths to which the paper will go to protect Obama," Kincaid has instead demonstrated the embarrassing lengths he will go to smear anyone who gets in his way of promoting hard-right conservatives like Sarah Palin (and, thus, John McCain).


Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 AM EDT
Monday, September 22, 2008
Meanwhile, Over At HuffPo...
Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've written a brief history of WorldNetDaily at Huffington Post.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:19 PM EDT
Who Said Palin Wanted to 'Burn' Books?
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Sept. 22 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham claimed that "Brent Bozell's latest culture column explored how liberal nitpickers landed in Alaska and quickly jumped to conclusions that any right-wing, Jesus-loving politician must be a book-burner." But despite Bozell's mention of "'anti-censorship' activists, perpetually filled with visions of a trash can full of burning books" and an "imaginary book-burning torch," there's no evidence whatsoever that anyone accused Sarah Palin wanted to "burn" books.

Further, in his column, Bozell misleads on the question from Palin that led to the book-banning (not "burning") criticism of her. Bozell writes that "Palin dared to ask the town librarian what would happen if anyone objected to an inappropriate book. She merely inquired," but that's not how the librarian, Mary Ellen Eammons, and others in Wasilla, Alaska, put it:

In December 1996, Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman, that Palin three times asked her -- starting before she was sworn in -- about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose.

Emmons told the Frontiersman she flatly refused to consider any kind of censorship. Emmons, now Mary Ellen Baker, is on vacation from her current job in Fairbanks and did not return e-mail or telephone messages left for her Wednesday.

When the matter came up for the second time in October 1996, during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla housewife who often attends council meetings, was there.

Like many Alaskans, Kilkenny calls the governor by her first name.

"Sarah said to Mary Ellen, ’What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?" Kilkenny said.

Bozell doesn't mention that the church Palin attended at the time she was mayor, the Wasilla Assembly of God, did show interest in censoring books, particularly one written by a local minister called "Pastor, I Am Gay."

Bozell also misleads a bit on the fight in Nampa, Idaho, about whether the books "The Joy of Sex" and "The Joy of Gay Sex" should be generally available in the library or hidden in an office and released only to those specifically requesting them. Bozell wrote that "parent activist, Randy Jackson, was stunned to hear in 2005 that these books were lying around on the library tables for any child to page through." We've highlighted the word "hear" to point out that the evidence against the book is hearsay: As the Idaho Statesman reported, "Randy Jackson began campaigning to remove the two books from Nampa's library after a friend's teenager saw the book 'The Joy of Gay Sex' on a library table in late 2005."

Nevertheless, Bozell huffed: "Immediately, one wonders: Who were the two who felt it appropriate to display this garbage in a public library, in front of children?" But Bozell offers no evidence that the library itself displayed the book.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:28 PM EDT
Corsi Pushes Discredited Claim About Obama, Fannie Mae
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've previously noted that Jerome Corsi's reporting on alleged connections between Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and Barack Obama's campaign ignores the fact that John McCain's campaign also has Fannie/Freddie connections. It looks like Corsi may have gotten something else wrong as well.

Corsi's Sept. 17 WorldNetDaily article asserted that former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines has "close ties to Obama" and "currently advises Obama on housing policy." Well, not so much, it appears: According to Politico's Ben Smith in a Sept. 18 post, Raines issued a statement saying, "I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters." Obama's campaign also denied a link.

Still, Corsi wrote a Sept. 20 WND article portraying Raines as having "perpetrated an Enron-like accounting scandal as chief executive officer of Fannie Mae." Corsi repeated his claim that Raines is a "current Obama housing adviser," citing as apparent evidence a Washington Post article claiming that Raines takes "calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters."

But as Smith pointed out, that claim is not specifically attributed to anyone, "the kind of blind sourcing that suggests the source was Raines." And nowhere does Corsi note the denials of Raines and the Obama campaign that Raines is a "current Obama housing adviser," even though they appeared two days before Corsi's article was published.

Remember WND editor Joseph Farah was whining that a small newspaper in Kansas wouldn't print a full retraction of an incorrect claim about WND in a letter to the editor? Here's a chance to demonstrate that he and WND take all false claims seriously, and that he's a better and more responsive editor than that guy in Kansas, by fulling retracting and apologizing for Corsi's article.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 2:31 AM EDT
Is O'Leary Ashamed Of His Publisher?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The two websites Brad O'Leary is using to publicize his new, factually challenged Obama-bashing book, "The Audacity of Deceit" -- for instance, he claims that Obama "supported withholding emergency medical aid for babies who survive an abortion!!!!" which we've noted is categorically false -- have most of the usual things: a profile of the author, a link to buy the book, etc. But one thing is missing -- any mention of who published the book.

Could that be because it's published by WND Books?

Indeed, O'Leary's blackout of any mention of WND is total: the buy-the-book link on his website goes not to the WND store but to Amazon, and he's using not WND's favorite publicist Maria Sliwa, who has promoted previous WND books, but his own direct-marketing company.

For an author like O'Leary to refuse to make use of the major promotional resources of his publisher is unusual. But for O'Leary to utilize a code of silence by not even mentioning who his publisher is is even more so.

What is O'Leary afraid or ashamed of? There are plenty of reasons. This year alone, WND settled a libel lawsuit earlier this year by admitting it published false claims, and it has condoned child abuse in a family of homeschoolers. WND has published articles that are not only arguably anti-Catholic but also favorable toward polygamist cults.

We would point out WND's publishing of numerous false claims about Barack Obama as one possible reason, but since O'Leary repeats many of those claims in his book, we sadly doubt that's a factor. 

So actual shame may not be a factor -- perhaps just a desire not to be too aligned to the right-wing wackos at WND. If so, that's not exactly a show of gratitude on O'Leary's part for the company that published hisa book, is it?


Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT
The Shame of Joseph Farah
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah's Sept. 20 WorldNetDaily column is a massive tantrum at a small newspaper in Kansas that wouldn't do as he dictated.

Turns out this paper, the Pittsburg Morning Sun ("I didn't know there was a Pittsburg, Kansas," Farah sneered, further smearing the paper as "some rag") printed a letter to the editor that Rep. Steve King took his false claim that illegal immigrants in the U.S. kill 12 people a day from WND. Actually, as Farah states, "In fact, WND's 2006 report on this matter – not that illegals commit crimes, but that they kill 12 Americans a day – was clearly attributed to him as the source."Farah continues:

I was hopeful the editor-publisher of the Morning Sun would recognize he had printed a letter that is defamatory, prejudiced, incendiary and just verifiably untruthful and retract it and apologize for it. Having been an editor and publisher of daily newspapers much bigger and more influential than the Pittsburg Morning Sun, I was actually confident of being able to reason with Stephen Wade. I was wrong.

He wrote back to me suggesting I pen a letter to the editor in response. Facts were not important to him. Reality is not important to him. Stephen Wade, like so many other media types in this strange new world, seems to think everything is just a matter of opinion. And that's scary.

Funny -- that's Farah's outlook on life as well, for he treats false and misleading claims in WND in exactly the same way Wade did. For instance, when WND published an article by Bob Unruh and a column by Scott Beason making numerous false and misleading claims about a public school Bible curriculum called "The Bible and Its Influence," did Farah run any corrections? Nope -- it ran an op-ed by an editor of the curriculum debunking it that is not linked to from the other articles.

And when Clark Jones wanted WND to retract false claims it published about him, did Farah print a correction? Only after seven years of fighting a libel lawsuit Jones filed, only to abruptly settle it just before it was to go to trial.

A false claim that a 13-year-old girl was beaten for a sign she made for a history class calling for an end to illegal immigration remains live on the WND site with no indication whatsoever that WND has published a separate article pointing out that the girl fabricated the story.

Indeed, we've documented numerous false and misleading claims WND has published over the years -- claims WND has made no effort to correct. By the way, Farah has never publicly declared anything we've written about him or WND to be "defamatory, prejudiced, incendiary and just verifiably untruthful"-- which tells us that we're right.

WND's own pathetic record on accuracy notwithstanding, Farah decides to climb on his high horse and get pissy with the Pittsburg Morning Sun:

So I wrote to Wade's bosses at GateHouse Media in New York demanding a retraction and apology – so far to no avail. Bottom line: I may have to sue these people, costing them and me a lot of money, just to motivate them to do what decent journalistic and business ethics should motivate them to do.

Imagine now, if you will, how ordinary Americans feel when they get slimed.

I have something of a public profile.

I have financial and legal resources.

I have the ability to call out the errors and bad behavior of people.

I make a habit of doing just that – it's my job.

Nevertheless, because of arrogance or ignorance or stubbornness or pettiness, this little newspaper in this little town refused to do the right thing.

Too bad Farah can't get as incensed about his own publication's falsehoods as he does about that of a small paper in Kansas, isn't it?

Farah is a horrible journalist (not to mention plagiarist) who credibility is lacking most completely when he judges other journalists, holding them to standards he himself has no interest in upholding. Wade did the exact same thing Farah has done in similar situations -- but he thinks he deserves special treatment. He has repeatedly failed to do the "right thing" he now demands Wade do for him. How arrogant.

The shame of Joseph Farah is that he's so utterly shameless in his hypocrisy. Indeed, we've previously noted Farah's similar whining.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:14 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2008 1:26 AM EDT
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Huston Wrong About Pat Oliphant
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 21 NewsBusters post attacking a Pat Oliphant editorial cartoon, Warner Todd Huston calls Oliphant the "political cartoonist of the Washington Post."

Wrong -- he is a syndicated cartoonist unattached to a specific newspaper. (Tom Toles is the Post's in-house editorial cartoonist.) His cartoons appear on the Post's website and occasionally in the paper itself They also appear at the Yahoo! News site and 500 other publications worldwide, but Huston found that unworthy of note.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:17 PM EDT
WND Misleads on Obama, Abortion
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a Sept. 20 WorldNetDaily article pushing back against a Barack Obama campaign ad that criticized an ad accusing him of "letting infants die" as a "despicable lie," Drew Zahn writes:

Obama did, however, vote against Illinois born-alive infant-protection bills four times, as Jessen's ad claims.

Obama has often said, and his own website repeats, that he would have supported the Illinois state law protecting those born-alive infants if it had had a "neutrality" clause like the federal version, which states the law specifically is not intended to impact the status of babies before birth.

As WND reported earlier, however, documentation uncovered by Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee reveals Obama did vote against a version of the Illinois law that was the same as the federal law, contrary to what the candidate has stated.

Zahn fails to tell the whole story of Obama's opposition to the "born alive" law anti-abortion activists were pushing in Illinois. As we've noted, a state law containing the same language as the federal law would not have offered the same protection because federal laws do not regulate abortion as state laws do. Thus, a state law that declared it was not undermining Roe v. Wade -- the provison cited by anti-abortion activists as the identical clause in both the state and federal laws in question -- would also need to specifically state it was also not undermining relevant state abortion regulations as well.

Zahn also failed to mention Obama's other defense for not supporting a "born alive" law -- that it was unnecessary because the behavior it banned was already illegal, meaning that such a law would be a political statement instead of a new prohibition.

Zahn further fails to note that in 2005, a "born alive" law did pass in Illinois that specifically stated that it would not affect "existing federal or state law regarding abortion," a clause missing from earlier versions of the bill.

This misleading attack on Obama -- largely driven by WND columnist Jill Stanek -- has been a staple of recent WND "news" coverage of Obama as a way to make the false claim that Obama supports "infanticide."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:14 AM EDT
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Palin-Philia Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Parallels abound between Gov. Sarah Palin’s quest to be a heartbeat from the U.S. presidency and Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power in Great Britain.

[...]

Like Thatcher, she is tough talking and outspoken. Palin’s actions speak louder than her words.

In 1979, Thatcher’s plain speaking on Conservative plans to cut taxes and regulations on business galvanized the party’s base and she was elected prime minister. Her vision of “a man’s right to work as he will, to spend what he earns to have the state as servant not master” inspired her country.

Three decades later, Palin has likewise energized her party and has become a rallying point. Would a Vice President Palin be a future Margaret Thatcher?

-- James Humes, Sept. 18 Newsmax column.

We've previously noted Humes' factually challenged writing for Newsmax. 


Posted by Terry K. at 11:35 PM EDT
CNS Misleads Again on Obama Staff Pay
Topic: CNSNews.com

A Sept. 18 CNSNews.com article by Fred Lucas asserts that Barack Obama "pays his own female Senate staffers, on average, only 78 percent of what he pays male staffers," suggesting that this conflicts with Obama's stance supporting equal pay for women.

As we pointed out the last time Lucas made this claim, that's a false conflation of issues. Lucas provides no evidence that women in Obama's office are being paid less than men with the same amount of experience doing the same job -- which is what the issue of pay equity is all about. (Pandagon weighs on on the issue as well.)


Posted by Terry K. at 11:16 AM EDT
Michael Reagan: Bring Back Redlining!
Topic: Newsmax

Michael Reagan has declared in his Sept. 18 Newsmax column that Democrats are responsible for the current financial crisis. Why? Because the Clinton administration got rid of redlining:

To find the donkey, you need to go back to the Clinton administration, which decided that everybody and his kid brother was entitled to a mortgage even when they didn’t begin to qualify for a home loan.

In saner days, banks designated certain areas as no-loan zones — depressed neighborhoods where lending money to potential home buyers was not just a risky investment, but a certain future foreclosure.

Critics of the practice called it “redlining,” and President Clinton and his chums on Capitol Hill decided that banks should no longer act like banks and lend money only to home buyers who could afford to handle the monthly payments. Now all bets would be off and people not the least bit creditworthy — and speculators — would be entitled by law to obtain mortgages even when it was obvious they couldn’t afford to handle them.

Actually, redlining as people who aren't Michael Reagan understand it -- a refusal to offer banking services and/or loans in certain areas, which in practice was racist because those areas were invariably minority-dominated -- has been illegal for decades. The Clinton administration merely stepped up enforcement of anti-redlining laws.

Does Reagan really want to bring back redlining and its attendant racism? It sure appears so.

A Sept. 19 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn makes essentially the same argument as Reagan, blaming "unsound – though politically correct – lending practices" but avoiding the term "redlining."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Friday, September 19, 2008
Does Aaron Klein Want to Disenfranchise Israeli Arabs?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 18 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein begins:

Did fewer than 15,000 Arabs just determine who will serve as Israel's next prime minister?

That may be the case following Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's slim win here by just 431 votes in yesterday's primary for the leadership of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima party. The primary elections had a high Arab turnout.

The overall tone of Klein's article is one of offense that Arabs were allowed to vote in an Israeli election inthe first place, even though Klein concedes they are "regular citizens" -- if Klein wasn't offended, why would he make such a big deal out of it?

We already know that Klein is sympathetic to right-wing Israeli views, but this indication of anti-Arab sentiment puts Klein in league with far-right Israelis such as Meir Kahane's now-outlawed Kach (and successor Kahane Chai) party, which advocated the explusion of Arabs from Israel. We've previously noted Klein's kid-glove treatment of Kahanists, downplaying their history of violence.

Klein's beliefs also appear to be in line with those of Avigdor Lieberman's right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which wants to strip Israeli citizenship from Arabs living in the West Bank.

Klein needs to honestly and publicly admit the right-wing biases that are all too clear in his writing so his readers can determine how much to trust his reporting.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:36 PM EDT

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