NewsBusters Repeats Bogus Attack on Obama 'Truth Squad' Topic: NewsBusters
Tom Blumer plays McCain water carrier in a Sept. 29 NewsBusters post, repeating unsubstantiated claims that an Obama "truth squad" in Missouri that includes a prosecutor will "threaten and intimidate" of Obama critics. Blumer howls: "These people are prosecutors. How do prosecutors "respond" to actions they feel violate the law? They prosecute. Most reasonable viewers would have concluded that they were planning to act against 'offenders' in their official capacities."
But as we noted when WorldNetDaily repeated this bogus claim, none of the law enforcement officials on the "truth squad" have said they would use the power of their office to silence critics (a claim Blumer baselessly rejects as "horse manure"). Blumer also fails to note that McCain has members of law enforcement on his "truth squads."
NewsBusters Runs to McCain Campaign Manager's Defense Topic: NewsBusters
A Sept. 26 NewsBusters post by Jacob S. Lybbert complained: "Rather than investigate the campaign donations paid out to Senators Dodd, Clinton, and specifically, Barack Obama, by Fannie Mae and Freddy [sic] Mac, the [New York Times] focused instead on McCain aide Rick Davis's employment by the consulting firm, Davis & Manafort."
Lybbert fails to note that Davis wasn't just employed by Davis & Manafort; he was a key employee of the firm (as the name "Davis" in the "Davis Manafort" name hints at). He also neglects to mention that Davis is much more than an "aide" (or, as he writes later, a "campaign adviser") to McCain; he's McCain's campaignmanager.
Lybbert then uncritically repeats the McCain campaign's response to the story and treats it as fact, without noting evidence that would seem to undercut the campaign's basic claim that Davis has no involvement in his own company -- specifically, that Davis is still listed as an officer of it. And it's since been reported that Davis did, in fact, maintain financial connections to the firm well after the date he claimed he separated himself from it.
"Obama spent two years at Columbia University yet left virtually no fingerprints of his presence there. Could that be because Columbia was where Mr. Obama first met 'mad bomber' William Ayers?" asked Martin.
You may recall Martin from our entanglements with him: He sued us and our employer, Media Matters, for (accurately, it can be reasonably argued) calling him anti-Semitic -- a lawsuit that was laughed out of court (twice), in no small part because he has a long history of lawsuit abuse.
Martin has a history of launching all sorts of Obama smears into the world -- he takes credit for launching the essentially false claim that Obama is hiding his "Muslim religion." As we've previously noted, Martin published a March 2007 article at Newsmax claiming that Obama has "locked ... away" his white grandmother "in his racist closet," calling him "one of the most racist politicians in America today" and accusing him of trying to hide his white heritage.
And Klein is taking the word of this guy as fact? Does he think that because an article is "referenced on multiple other blogs," that automatically makes it true?
NewsBusters Accepts Misleading Defense on Palin 'Road to Nowhere' Topic: NewsBusters
In a Sept. 24 NewsBusters post and Sept. 25 MRC CyberAlert item, Matthew Balan asserted that CNN "desperately tried to criticize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for a 'Road to Nowhere' that was part of the infamous 'Bridge to Nowhere' project," accepting as fact a Palin spokesperson's claim that ""under ordinary circumstances, Governor Palin would not have allowed the Gravina road project to move forward. But given the federal earmark was granted and because the contract for the road was already signed before she got into office, the governor was left no viable alternative."
Turns out that's not exactly true. According to ProPublica:
But the governor did have a viable alternative. Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) signed the contract for the road on Dec. 1, 2006, three days before he left office. Palin could have cancelled that contract upon taking office, according to Alaska Department of Transportation spokesman Roger Wetherell. In such cases, contractors are reimbursed for any expenses incurred in association with the project.
For instance, in her first month in office, Palin cancelled a $18.6 million contract to build a one-lane, 11-mile gravel road out of Juneau. That contract had also been awarded by Murkowski at the end of his term, but Palin, judging the project wasteful and the contract award insufficiently transparent, terminated it. The state reimbursed the contractor for $65,500 in expenses, Wetherell said.
Gov. Palin also had a "viable alternative" when it came to the earmark. It's true that the Gravina Island Highway presented a more difficult case than the Juneau road, which was funded entirely with state money. But it's not true that the earmark forced Palin to spend the money on the road. Palin could have opted not to use the money, and Congress has the power to send it to other federal needs, said Federal Highway Administration spokesman Doug Hecox.
WorldNetDaily's anti-Obama slant continues in a pair of articles accusing the Obama campaign of creating "[a] team of Obama-supporting prosecutors and sheriffs in Missouri" to "pursue legal challenges to any presidential campaign ads deemed to be false or misleading." WND cited a St. Louis TV report and such purportedly authoritative sources as "the blog Gateway Pundit," "Missouri blogger Doctor Bulldog" and "the St. Louis Examiner" (which, as far as we can tell, is not an actual newspaper in St. Louis but a city-based portal web page run by Philip Anschutz's conservative-leaning Examiner newspapers in Washington and San Francisco).
The articles baselessly suggest that this truth squad will use their official positions to legally harrass anyone running ads critical of Obama. WND makes no apparent attempt to contact the Obama campaign or anyone else involved in the truth squad for a response to criticism it published by the National Rifle Association or Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (whom WND fails to identify as a Republican who supports John McCain).
By contrast, the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader reported that "Despite having law enforcement officials on the truth squad, none of them have publicly said they will invoke their official powers to enforce facts about Obama’s record"and pointed out that Blunt was "[u]sing his taxpayer-funded press office to level a political attack" in issuing his response, quoted by WND, in which he called the truth squad "police state tactics."
The News-Leader also reported that "a review of McCain’s own truth squads shows he has a district attorney from New Mexico and the South Carolina attorney general ready to respond to misleading ads from Obama and Democrats in their respective states."
This is all information that was readily available, yet WND chose not to inform its readers about it, even though it's essential to telling the full story here. But then, WND has an anti-Obama, pro-McCainagenda, so it's sadly not surprising.
"I am not an expert on polls," Terry Trippany writes in a Sept. 27 NewsBusters post -- a claim she then proves by touting the results of an opt-in poll as meaningful.
Trippany makes note of an "AOL straw poll that shows John McCain solidly beating Barack Obama in a random sample of hundreds of thousands of readers," adding: "[I]t seems to me that the AOL poll is without the kind of bias that can be injected by pollster samples and then touted by the media as an advantage for Obama. The AOL straw poll has been relatively low profile and you must use a captcha to vote. It has been running for a while now and the results have been fairly consistent. The bias it does have would likely come from the demographics of AOL readers. The poll appears to be an outlier and I have no clue how closely a poll of this type tracks real votes. AOL states that it is not a scientific poll. In other words it just captures the votes that readers put in. Simple."
As we pointed out in 2004 when WorldNetDaily was promoting the AOL poll (which also similarly had the Republican candidate in the lead), opt-in polls are inherently unreliable because the sample is self-selecting and can be easily skewed by activists -- such as the right-wingers at Free Republic, which regularly encourages its readers to vote in opt-in online polls ... like the AOL poll.
Another WND Reporter Covers for McCain on Fannie, Freddie Topic: WorldNetDaily
Good news: A WorldNetDaily news article finally mentions for the first time connections between the McCain campaign and the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac meltdown.
Bad news: It's mentioned only in passing, gets it wrong, and heaps most of the guilt-by-association on Obama.
A Sept. 25 article by Chelsea Schilling discussing the problems at Fannie and Freddie noted that "Both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have come under fire for allegedly having donors and campaign advisers tied to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," then added:
McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was reportedly paid a total of $35,000 a month from 2000 to 2002 by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. McCain told the Times Davis no longer works for the mortgage giants and has had "nothing to do with it" since he left the payrolls.
Unlike fellow WND reporter Jerome Corsi, Schilling actually makes note of this. But not only does she grossly understate the extent of Davis' connection, Schilling gets the amount of time involved wrong. In fact -- as the New York Times reported, Davis was paid that amount -- acting as president of the Homeownership Alliance, an advocacy group funded by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that tried to fend off regulation sought by large private banks and mortgage lenders -- through 2005, not 2002 as Schilling claimed. The Times quoted a former Fannie Mae official stating that "The value that [Davis] brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again."
Schilling also failed to note another connection: Freddie Mac paid the lobbying firm Davis founded $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through August 2008. While campaign officials insist that Davis has had no involvement with his firm while working for the McCain campaign, he's still listed as an officer of the company.
That single paragraph, by the way, is Schilling's only attempt to detail the ties between McCain's campaign. By contrast, Schilling devotes several paragraphs to detailing the Obama campaign's alleged links to Fannie and Freddie.
Schilling leaves out certain important details of the story. For instance, in citing "A Washington Post profile published July 17 said [Franklin] Raines was then playing a role advising the Obama presidential campaign on mortgage and housing policy," Schilling fails to mention -- llike Corsi before her -- that both Raines and the Obama campaign have denied that Raines is an adviser.
Schilling also asserts, "In 2005, McCain warned of the coming mortgage crisis and pressed for regulatory reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," but she fails to point out that McCain has introduced no bills related to banking or housing in the current session of Congress.
If WND boss Joseph Farah doesn't want McCain elected, why are his reporters continuing to cover for McCain?
In a Sept. 25 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd criticizes an Associated Press article on "a newly surfaced YouTube video purportedly showing Palin being prayed over by a Kenyan preacher who asked God to protect Palin from all manner of evil, including witchcraft," complainign that the articleshowed a lack of knowledge about Christianity because it "characterize[d] the Pentecostal church Palin used to attend as simultaneously 'conservative' in biblical teaching and yet outside orthodox Christian belief":
While not all Christians believe in the continuation of spiritual gifts such as prophesy or speaking in tongues, all Christians believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit -- all four gospel accounts describe Jesus as the one who baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit -- it's just a question of how that baptism is defined.
[AP reporter Garance] Burke need only check Amazon.com for a book giving five different perspectives -- including Pentecostal, Catholic, and Reformed/Presbyterian traditions -- on what baptism in the Holy Spirit entails and how it applies to Christians today.
To be sure there are secondary issues of theology on which Pentecostals and non-Pentecostal Christians disagree, but the Associated Press seems unable or unwilling to distinguish those matters from the common ground of orthodox Christian belief that Pentecostals share with other Bible-believing Christians.
In downplaying the witchcraft aspect of the blessing the Kenyan preacher, Thomas Muthee, offered for Palin, Shepherd ignores how Muthee himself has "defined" it. As David Neiwert details, a Times of London article demonstrates that Muthee works on a Salem-like level, in one case declaring a woman to be responsible for one town's ills, thus causing her to be the target of violence and forcing her to flee the town.
Does Shepherd really think Muthee's embrace of full-on witch-hunting is merely a "secondary issue of theology"?
A Sept. 25 Newsmax article by David Alliot on a new Zogby poll that "put John McCain squarely ahead of Barack Obama" contradicts itself in the space of a couple of paragraphs.
Alliot asserts that "The polling was conducted after McCain’s announcement that he would suspending [sic] his campaign," but then states: "The survey was conducted on Sept. 23-25, 2008."
McCain's announcement that he would suspend his campaign was made midday Sept. 24. Therefore, people responding to a poll conducted on Sept. 23 and the morning of Sept. 24 could not have taken McCain's announcement into consideration.
Indeed, Zogby's own press release states that the poll was "half conducted before McCain's announcement Wednesday that he would suspend his campaign to concentrate on the financial crisis and half conducted after the announcement."
Bozell Misleads on Enron 'Coverage' Topic: Media Research Center
In a Sept. 25 appearance on "Fox & Friends" (which follows the template by having Bozell appear solo and not identifying him as a conservative), MRC chief Brent Bozell asserted: "This year -- this year -- there's been more coverage by the networks on Enron, which isn't in the news, than on both of these [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] calamities combined."
That's highly misleading. What Bozell appears to be referring to is a July 28 report by the MRC's Business & Media institute that claimed:
Even in 2008, as the housing market was grinding to a halt, “Enron” was still the business scandal of the day. In the first six months of the year, ABC, CBS and NBC mentioned Enron 18 times and either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac just seven. [emphasis added]
Mentioning Enron, of course, is not the same thing as "covering" Enron, which Bozell accused the media of doing. And it covers only the first six months of 2008, before Fannie and Freddie officially blew up, not current coverage as Bozell suggests.
That BMI report -- which makes no mention of the context in which Enron was "mentioned" in those news reports -- was something of a pre-emptive strike suggesting that problems at Fannie and Freddie were not be covered by the media because the entities were supported by "high-profile Democrats" and they engaged in "socialism in disguise" by championing home loans for lower-income people -- a claim we see echoed now in the ConWeb and elsewhere.
A Sept. 24 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr asserts that "A group of civil rights leaders and conservative congressmen held a press conference on Tuesday to announce proposed legislation that would prohibit knowingly performing or financing abortions based on the race or gender of the unborn child." But Starr quotes no "civil rights leaders" in her article.
Starr's use of "civil rights leaders" is a presumed reference to Alveda King, whom she describes as a "niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." But King is not a "civil rights leader"; she is (or was) a senior fellow at the conservative Alexis de Tocqueville Institution and an anti-abortion activist.
Starr also uncritically refers to King as " Dr. Alveda King" and "Dr. King"; in fact, it appears her doctorate from Saint Anselm College is honorary.
New Article -- Experts Agree: WorldNetDaily Sucks Topic: WorldNetDaily
Don't just take ConWebWatch's word for it -- read what WND's targets and even their fellow conservatives have to say about its brand of journalism. Read more >>
Antoher NewsBuster Falsely Conflates Media Lockouts Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 24 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston wrote of Andrea Mitchell's assertion that Sarah Palin's banning of media from meetings with foreign leaders is not "standard practice":
I find this whole snit that the press is throwing pretty amazing for its hypocrisy. After all, when Barack Obama went over to Europe this Summer to burnish his non-existent foreign policy credentials, he met behind closed doors with Europe's biggest leaders without the press allowed into the room. I don't recall Andrea Mitchell getting all upset then. Nor did she seem to remember it happened with Barack when she was discussing Palin with Maddow.
As NewsBuster Ken Shepherd reminded us all, when Barack met behind closed doors without reporters the Old Media barely even noticed.
In fact, as we detailed, Shepherd falsely conflated what Palin tried to do -- block reporters from covering her photo ops with foreign leaders at the United Nations out of fear she might be asked a question -- with the actual meetings themselves. And Huston does the exact same thing.