An Oct. 24 Newsmax article by Nat Helms featured conservative Heritage Foundation panelists who claimed that "The U.S. election process is under siege from liberal election officials trying to wrestle it away from the electorate," but Helms whitewashed the history of one panel participant, Hans von Spakovsky.
Von Spakovsky, an expert on voter integrity issues and the Bush administration’s point man in the Justice Department, drew the ire of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and CNN political analyst Jeffrey Toobin in 2006 for supporting photo IDs for voters and questioning the validity of felons on Georgia’s voter lists.
Kennedy told the Associated Press that requiring photo ID’s hurt black voters. Toobin accused von Spakovsky in “The New Yorker” magazine of secretly targeting black voters to gain a Republican advantage in Georgia.
The truth is vastly different, said von Spakovsky, who said he was interested only in protecting the system from schemes taking advantage of lax voter registration laws.
Helms makes no effort to present the other side of the story on any of the claims made during the panel, and that includes von Spakovsky's version of the Georgia case.
In fact, as Slate's Dalia Lithwick details, von Spakovsky has a long history of acting in a partisan manner on voting issues, acting against Democratic interests and in favor of Republican ones. Regarding the Georgia law von Spakovsky championed, Lithwick states that "State and federal courts later found that statute unconstitutional."
Helms also writes that "Democrats killed a law this year that would have ensured that all military absentee ballots would be sent home via Express Mail instead of languishing for three weeks via regular mail. The Democrats sided with the postal service union, which opposed the measure," then quoted another panelist, "Virginia lawyer, Republican activist, and party consultant" Roman Buhler, as saying, "They clearly don't want the military to vote." In fact, as the Armed Forces Press Service points out, all properly submitted absentee ballots are counted in every general election, meaning that arrival time is irrelevant.
Graham Just Can't Quit Tim Mahoney Topic: NewsBusters
Cover Tim Mahoney's adultery, dammit!
That's the central message of Tim Graham's Oct. 24 post, which, like a previous Graham post, expresses annoyance that Florida congressman Mahoney's adultery isn't on the lips of people the same way the page-buggering of the man Mahoney replaced in Congress, Mark Foley. This time around, he compains that Mahoney was rated by Newsweek as slightly more dignified than the outright lie told by Sarah Palin about the Troopergate scandal.
Graham went on to whine that "Time and Newsweek blatantly enjoyed the Mark Foley scandal two years ago, and Foley’s face "graced" the cover of Newsweek," adding: "Foley wasn't just a massive story, it was also the subject of major media polls. Newsweek assertively polled and found that 52 percent thought House Speaker Dennis Hastert tried to cover it up." Graham fails to note that there was, in fact, actual evidence that Hastert and the Republican House leadership knew about Foley's inappropriate behavior toward pages for years but did little about it.
I dare not question Obama's messianic status, or I too might become a victim of media assassination (like Joe the Plumber) or Secret Service investigation (like Jessica Hughes). Apparently the most efficient method of establishing the credentials of the Messiah is to beat the holy crap out of any critics. This sends the message to the rest of the world that awkward and unvetted questions are bad, evil and sinful. And if the Messiah blurts out an inconvenient truth, such as telling Joe the Plumber that his modest and hard-earned wealth will be "spread around," then the angels … er, the media, hastily covers up the mistake by assassinating Joe. Clever.
According to the link Lewis supplied, Hughes did not "question Obama's messianic status"; in fact, she was accused of making a death threat toward Obama and, subsequently, was paid a visit by the Secret Service, which investigates all perceived death threats against presidential candidates.
Timmerman Signs On to Obama Birth Certificate Lie Topic: Newsmax
An Oct. 24 Newsmax article by Kenneth Timmerman promotes Philip Berg's lawsuit over Barack Obama's birth certificate and accepts Berg's argument that the Obama campaign's failure to respond to the lawsuit means that everything Berg accuses is true.
Timmerman does some token reporting of the other side of the story -- citing "respected conservative blogger Ed Morrissey" as calling the Berg lawsuit a "conspiracy theory" and stating at the bottom of the article that Berg's "credibility was tarnished by work he did for the far-left '9/11 for the Truth' campaign"-- but the bulk of the article is dedicted to building Berg's credibility.
Nowhere does Timmerman note that FactCheck.org found that the birth certificate released by the Obama campaign "meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship," or that even his right-wing rivals at WorldNetDaily have declared that "WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic" and that "Berg's lawsuit relies on discredited claims."
That's shoddy reporting on the part of Timmerman, who has clearly decided how he wants this story to turn out, facts be damned.
UPDATE: A Philadelphia judge has dismissed Berg's lawsuit, calling Berg's attempts to use certain laws to gain standing to pursue his claim that Obama was not a natural-born citizen -- favorably portrayed by Timmerman -- "frivolous and not worthy of discussion."
McCain Volunteer Admits Attack Hoax; Will ConWeb Care? Topic: The ConWeb
On Oct. 23, the ConWeb pounced on a McCain campaign volunteer's claim that she was mugged and attacked, including having a "B" carved onto her cheek, in Pittsburgh because her alleged assailant spotted a McCain bumper sticker on her car. CNSNews.com and Newsmax did articles, while NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard, in a post with the screaming headline "Obama Supporter Maims McCain Volunteer, Will Media Care?" howled: "it's going to be very interesting to see how this disgusting incident gets reported by Obama-loving media."
But with the "victim" now admitting the attack was a hoax, how will the ConWeb react?
CNS posted an updated story, though the original story remains posted and has not been updated to state that the attack in a hoax.
Newsmax and Sheppard are silent thus far.
UPDATE: Sheppard has updated his post to note the hoax, but leaves his original histrionics intact. Will he ever apologize for not applying even a smidge of skepticism to the woman's claims before touting them so enthusiastically?
UPDATE 2: Newsmax has posted an updated article, but the original remains posted without any notice that it's a hoax.
'Reality Check' Unreality: MRC Obfuscates McCain Ad Criticism Topic: Media Research Center
An Oct. 23 Media Research Center "Media Reality Check" by Rich Noyes claims that "from the end of the primaries (June 4) through October 21 ... the networks aired nearly three times as many stories criticizing McCain's ads (84) as hitting Obama's (32)." But by including statistics from as far back as June, Noyes hides the fact that McCain's advertising has been much more negative in recent weeks than Obama's.
Apart from complaints about the accuracy of campaign ads, network reporters often disdained the negative tone of ads. Again, McCain was on the receiving end of nearly three times as many stories scolding his supposed negativity (66) as Obama (26). But according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project's review of ads from June 4 to October 4, and taking into account ads that include both positive and negative messages, "the tone of the McCain and Obama campaigns has been absolutely identical."
Analysis from the Wisconsin Advertising Project of Sen. John McCain’s advertising for the week of September 28 to October 4 shows, in fact, that all McCain campaign advertising did have significant negative content – either spots that were comprised completely of attacks on the Democratic nominee or ones that combined attacks on Sen. Barack Obama with some talk about Sen. McCain’s own plans.
Further, Noyes offers no breakdown of when in the time period examined those stories were aired. But as the WAP demonstrates, McCain has been more harshly negative than Obama in recent weeks, so it can be assumed that most of the coverage of McCain's negative advertising also happened in recent weeks, not in June as Noyes implies. Thus, Noyes distorts reality by falsely portraying McCain's and Obama's ads as equally negative throughout the entire campaign.
WND Still Repeating Corsi's Bogus Claims Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 23 WorldNetDaily article repeats Jerome Corsi's claims that Barack Obama "raised almost $1 million" for Kenya's Raila Odinga, despite the fact that, as we detailed, the document Corsi offers as the only evidence to support the claim is clearly fake.
Neither WND nor Corsi have responded to ConWebWatch's debunking of Corsi's documents; they have neither retracted the articles nor offered further evidence to support their claims.
In noting that Corsi "has been dispatched to Hawaii to uncover the truth of the senator's Hawaiian birth," the article fails to mention that two months ago, "a WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic."
WND Again Forgets It Discredited Philip Berg Topic: WorldNetDaily
Another WorldNetDaily article promotes the lawsuit filed by Philip J. Berg against Barack Obama regarding Obama's birth certificate while failing to mention that two months earlier, WND declared that Berg's lawsuit "relies on discredited claims" and that a "WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic."
Will Bozell Apologize to CNN for Assuming Malicious Intent? Topic: Media Research Center
As we detailed, the fluff-laden interview of Sarah Palin by CNN's Drew Griffin was not fluffy enough for Brent Bozell and the Media Research Center. Taking issue with Griffin's taking a National Review article out of context, Bozell unleashed a tirade, claiming that Griffin and CNN "are out to destroy Sarah Palin" and accused them of "journalistic malpractice," further demanding an apology.
An Oct. 23 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan details Griffin's response -- that he didn't not intentionally take the National Review article out of context, but that "I wanted to keep the interview moving. So, I got to the heart...of York’s article...which is -- you’re a successful governor. Why aren't you getting that message out, which she answered."
This leaves two questions:
1) Will Bozell and the MRC accept Griffin's explanation?
2) More importantly, will Bozell apologize to Griffin and CNN for presuming malicious, anti-Palin intent for the way Griffin phrased the question? Bozell has been silent about the rest of the interview, which has been described as "McCain-friendly" to the point that Griffin asked few challenging questions and essentially apologized for asking Palin about Troopergate.
If Bozell would like to look a little less thuggish, an apology is in order.
"To its credit, CNN has gone out of its way to address and clarify the error on two separate occasions. We acknowledge this effort and are confident that the network has given proper gravity to the mischaracterization and taken proactive steps to correct it.
"We also take Drew Griffin and CNN at their word - that this mistake was not intended to mislead viewers to think a conservative magazine had trashed Gov. Palin. Conservatives have endured hundreds - even thousands - of examples of the media deliberately distorting our words and positions. In this case, there was not a deliberate attempt.
"As far as the Media Research Center is concerned, this case is closed."
Craige McMillan dedicates his Oct. 23 WorldNetDaily column to promoting Philip Berg's lawsuit over Barack Obama's birth certificate, apparently oblivious -- intentionally or otherwise -- to the fact that his employer declared that Berg's lawsuit " relies on discredited claims."
In addition to smearing Obama supporters as "inbred East Coast fools" and treating baseless speculation as something that is "probably very close to the mark," McMillan channels Hal Lindsey in claiming a conspiracy behind FactCheck.org's debunking of the fake-birth-certificate claim:
As for factcheck.org and it's assurances that the short form "certification" of birth is real, that organization is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Obama's former sugar daddy, the Annenberg Foundation. Come to think of it, isn't the Annenberg Foundation the same organization that unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers used to "spread the wealth around"?
NewsBusters on Palin's $150,000 Wardrobe: Dismiss, Attack Topic: NewsBusters
The boys at NewsBusters are eager to change the subject away from Sarah Palin's $150,000 wardrobe -- at least, when they're not attacking anyone who brings it up.
Kyle Drennen tried to do the former: "What exactly is the difference between Sarah Palin getting her clothes at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and Obama getting his clothes at Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdale’s?" Well, Obama didn't have the DNC pay for his clothes, and there's no evidence he's spending $150,000 a month on them.
Matthew Balan chose the latter route, declaring that CNN's Jack Cafferty was suffering from "Palin Derangement Syndrome" after he brought it up: "Jack, you’ve had a tough time recently, between your wife’s recent death and the unscheduled surgery. Isn’t about time that you just let the subject of Sarah Palin go?"
And Brent Baker sniffed that it's all "another media-generated controversy."
By contrast, here are the search results on NewsBusters for "john edwards haircut." No concern that we could find about it being a "media-generated controversy."
UPDATE: Clay Waters added that the New York Times "compiled an online slide show featuring Palin in various outfits, with photos accompanied by catty commentary." By contrast, Waters happily pointed out that Times columnist Maureen Dowd "grabbed hold of Edwards' hair and yanked on it" in a 2007 column.
Waters then went the distraction route: "Also at NRO, Lisa Schiffren explains why this was money well spent for the GOP."
WND's Sanchez Misleads on Military Poll Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 23 WorldNetDaily column by Matt Sanchez touted a Military Times poll that, in Sanchez's words, "showed John McCain defeating Barack Obama by 68 percent to 23, if the members of the United States military were electing the next president. That's nearly a 3-to-1 gap." Sanchez didn't tell his readers about the flaws in the poll.
Military Times stated that the poll was "a voluntary survey of 4,293 active-duty, National Guard and reserve subscribers and former subscribers to Army Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times and Air Force Times," adding:
The results of the Military Times 2008 Election Poll are not representative of the opinions of the military as a whole. The group surveyed is older, more senior in rank and less ethnically diverse than the overall armed services.
Military Times further stated:
McCain’s majority wanes among women and disappears altogether among black respondents.
Nearly eight out of 10 black service members indicated they intend to vote for Obama despite his lack of military service and despite McCain’s record as a naval aviator and prisoner of war in Vietnam.
In other words, it's not a reliable, scientifically conducted poll. Sanchez shouldn't pretend it is.
Newsmax Flip-Flops on Obama Birth Certificate Topic: Newsmax
A couple days ago, we detailed how Newsmax's Lowell Ponte bought into the lie that Barack Obama's birth certificate is fake, ignoring the evidence -- even by his fellow right-wingers at WorldNetDaily -- that it's real.
Newsmax seems to have had a change of heart. An Oct. 22 article by David Patten attacking Obama for being the "most secretive Democratic presidential candidate ever" also, in a stab at balance, cited examples in which "the Obama campaign has offered to provide additional information to reporters if they have specific questions or issues," one of them being ... the birth certificate:
When Internet rumors began to fly that perhaps Obama was born outside the United States, for example, the campaign released images of a birth certificate that verified his birthplace as Honolulu, Hawaii. When that led to suggestions the birth certificate had been altered, the campaign again responded, allowing reporters to examine the actual birth certificate, complete with raised seal. (In late July, according to FactCheck.org, a researcher uncovered an announcement of Obama’s birth in the August 13, 1961 edition of the Honolulu Advertiser).
Patten might want to send an email to Ponte or something to alert him of this stunning news ... that everyone else but Ponte knows.
Is WND Taking Blinders Off About Purported Michelle Obama Tape? Topic: WorldNetDaily
Is WorldNetDaily conceding it chose to be suckered by African Press International?
An Oct. 22 article by Bob Unruh strikes a skeptical tone for the first time at WND about API's claim that it has an auditotape of an interview it claims it conducted with Michelle Obama, highlighting Fox News' denial that it was negotiating with API for the "embarrassing recordings." Unruh even calls it an "alleged conversation" and refers to "purported 'Michelle Obama tapes.'"
That's a change from WND's previous reporting on the issue, which uncritically took API at its word despite obvious red flags about its credibility. WND has a history of believing the worst about Obama and presenting it as fact, then not retracting and apologizing when it turns out to be false. But that's what happens when you put a political agenda before journalism.
The blinders aren't completely off, though -- Unruh notes that API's alleged lawyer, attorney, Philip Berg, is "coincidentally pursuing a court challenge over Barack Obama's birthplace" but fails to mention that WND previously delcared that Berg's lawsuit "relies on discredited claims." (WND has an amnesia problem about that.)