False Equivalence at NewsBusters Topic: NewsBusters
In a Feb. 3 NewsBustsers post, Kyle Drennen suggested hypocrisy on the part of Citizens for Reponsiblity and Ethics in Washington (whose name Drennen gets wrong, calling it "Citizens for Responsibilities and Ethics") spokesman Melanie Sloan. Sloan had said regarding Tom Daschle that he engages in "the more sophisicated kind of lobbying we have in Washington, where he's a consultant. ... Maybe the truth of the matter is, you need some of those Washington insiders to make your new government work." Drennen then pointed out that in 2005, Sloan was quoted as saying that the indictment of Tom DeLay "demonstrates the culture of corruption among the congressional leadership that has become a cancer on our country."
Drennen conveniently ignores two major differences between DeLay and Daschle. First, Daschle was not a sitting senator, having lost re-election in 2004; DeLay was a sitting congressman. Second, Daschle was not accused of any crime regarding his lobbying activities -- though Drennan suggests that both DeLay and Daschle were engaged in "ethics scandals" of similar magnitude -- while DeLay faces criminal charges over his alleged behavior. As the 2005 column Drennen cited described the charges against DeLay:
DeLay's indictment comes on the heels of charges that top political aide Jim Ellis and veteran fundraiser John Colyandro illegally funneled $190,000 in corporate contributions to candidates for the Texas legislature in 2002 through the national Republican Party. "The indictment charges DeLay with conspiring with Ellis and Colyandro to violate the Texas Election Code by contributing corporate money to certain candidates for the Texas Legislature," said the statement from DA Ronnie Earle. "It describes a scheme whereby corporate, or 'soft,' money was sent to the Republican National Committee where it was exchanged for 'hard' money, or money raised from individuals, and sent to those candidates." The probe initially focused on violations of Texas election law but was recently broadened to include conspiracy charges. DeLay's modus operandi — the ruthless accumulation of money and favors to benefit corporate interests and far-right Republicans — may ultimately secure his demise.
Questions about unpaid taxes, which Daschle faced, are several orders of magnitude lower than a criminal indictment regarding illegal money-laundering. Drennen appears not to know the difference.
An annual subscription to Jerome Corsi's Red Alert "premium online newsletter" costs $99. And what do you get for that premium sum? Apparently, the rantings of Cliff Kincaid, which is offered for free elsewhere.
A Feb. 2 WorldNetDaily preview of this week's Red Alert brings us the shocking news that Obama wants to build support for his economic stimulus plan among his fellow Democrats. Not that shocking, you say? It is when the rhetorical stylings of Corsi and Kincaid are applied:
President Obama has been using persuasive public relations techniques to sell his economic stimulus plan to hard-core supporters, Jerome Corsi's Red Alert reports.
The administration is attempting to influence public opinion using media-management techniques geared toward a YouTube and iPod generation.
"Obama's television and radio addresses are designed to maintain and manipulate a hard-core group of people who can be called upon to support his policies no matter how unpopular he becomes," Cliff Kincaid, editor of Accuracy in Media, told Red Alert.
"These are the Obamatons of the Obama nation," Kincaid said. "Like the media, they are gripped with Obamamania, a psychological state of mind that views the new U.S. president as not only a national but a global savior."
Janet Folger Porter is not known for her ability to tell the truth, and she proves it again in her Feb. 3 WorldNetDaily column in which she repeats discredited claims about the proposed stimulus package.
Porter asserted that "President Obama's plan set aside over $4 billion in his stimulus package for controversial community groups such as ACORN." That's false -- as we've repeatedlynoted, the stimulus package doesn't even mention ACORN by name, let alone "set aside" any money to it. Further, ACORN officials have pointed out that it's not even eligible for that money.
Porter also asserts that the stimulus will mean "Millions for illegal aliens since no proof of citizenship is required to get it." That's false too -- as we've also repeatedlynoted, Social Security numbers are needed to qualify for the tax credits in the bill.
Obama Hate Central: WND Falsely Claims Obama Will Cut Pentagon Budget Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 1 WorldNetDaily article by Jerome Corsi asserted that "The Obama administration asked the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2010 by $55 billion, more than 10 percent of last year's $512 billion defense budget."
That is false. In fact, as Media Matters has detailed, Obama wants to increase the Pentagon's budget from $513 billion this year to $527 billion in the next fiscal year. The so-called "cut" is from the Pentagon's budget proposal of $584 billion.
Defending Wall Street is not exactly a popular move these days, but Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy does it in a Feb. 2 column:
I am not going to defend Wall Street excesses. It is unclear to me if these bonuses are excessive. But let’s put all of this into perspective.
America’s economy is the engine of the global economy. We represent less than 5 percent of the world’s population and a disproportionate 25 percent of the world’s GDP. We remain the reserve currency of the world.
Wall Street has played a major role in American capitalism. Its executives should be well compensated.
I am not angry at Wall Street because the current economic crisis was not caused by Wall Street. And Wall Street is not prolonging the pain.
Our economic problems have emanated from Washington and from the Federal Reserve.
Ruddy goes on to attack President Obama's stimulus plan, claiming that "Even illegal aliens can collect checks of up to $1,000."
That's false. As we've noted, the Associated Press, which first reported the claim and attributed it to an anonymous " top Republican congressional official," now points out that "the measure indicates that Social Security numbers are needed to claim tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple. It also expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens."
Another Meaningless Huston Rant Topic: NewsBusters
Warner Todd Huston thought he had something going in a Feb. 2 NewsBusters post:
Apparently, President Barack Obama thought that Jessica Simpson's weight was something he needed to make fun of during his pre-Super Bowl interview with Matt Lauer on NBC Sunday. Seriously. Obama called Jessica Simpson a fatty on national TV.
Lauer displayed for the audience the cover of a recent issue of the tabloid entertainment magazine US Weekly that featured the President's wife and daughters and also had an insert photo pushing a story about singer Simpson.
As he viewed the cover, Obama decided to smack the singer down for "in a weight battle."
It seems a bit low of the President of the United States to so offhandedly slam a mere entertainer, doesn't it? Is this something that a good politician would do? What did Simpson ever do to Obama?
What Huston neglects to tell his readers: Obama was simply reading what was on the cover of the magazine "Inside Jess' Weight Battle."
Even getting caught not checking the transcript against the video -- it originally falsely claimed that Obama said Simpson was "losing a weight battle" -- didn't curb his indignance in an update at the end of the post: "It does not alter my point, however, that Obama was commenting on Simpson's weight. Saying someone is 'in a weight battle' is not very much different than saying they are fat." Again, Huston failed to acknowledge that Obama was merely reading what the cover said, despite insisting that "we need to have the record correct on what the President said."
Huston's known for his misleading and ultimately meaningless rants, and this is just another one.
AIM Repeats Discredited Claim on Stimulus Bill Topic: Accuracy in Media
A Feb. 1 Accuracy in Media column by Pamela Meister repeats the false claim that illegal immigrants are eligible for tax credits in the stimulus bill:
Part of the economic stimulus bill that was just passed by the House (except for House Republicans and 11 Democrats who voted against it), includes “tax credits” of $500 per person and $1,000 per couple. (Note: if the recipients pay no taxes, it’s not a credit, it’s a handout.) Apparently the wording specifically disqualifies “nonresident aliens” – Washington-speak for illegals – people with no Social Security numberscould still get the cashola:
Undocumented immigrants [liberal reporter-speak for illegals] who are not eligible for a Social Security number can file tax returns with an alternative number. A House-passed version of the economic recovery bill and one making its way through the Senate would allow anyone with such a number, called an individual taxpayer identification number, to qualify for the tax credits.
In other words, it doesn’t disqualify illegal aliens. Awesome. Why bother having borders anymore?
In fact, the version of the Associated Press article Meister cites to support her claim has been retracted and corrected. The updated version of the AP article now points out that "in fact the measure indicates that Social Security numbers are needed to claim tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple. It also expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens."
Meanwhile, Over At HuffPo... Topic: WorldNetDaily
We have a new article at Huffington Post summarizing the conspiratorial history of WorldNetDaily columnist Jack Cashill, who appeared on Glenn Beck's Fox News show last week.
A Feb. 2 NewsBusters post by Kyle Drennen indulges in the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy by writing about a CBS report on the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran and headlining it, "CBS 'Early Show' Celebrates Anniversary of Iranian Revolution."
Drennen offers no evidence that there was any "celebrating" on CBS' part going on or that it was anything other than a straightforward report.
CNS Repeats Misleading Claim on EFCA Topic: CNSNews.com
A Feb. 2 CNSNews.com article by Pete Winn on the Employee Free Choice Act notes that supporters of the bill have pointed out that it "will not eliminate the ability for workers to choose to have a secret ballot election," which is followed by a paraphrased retort, passed along uncritically, by Michael Eastman, executive director of labor relations at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that "business has never said that secret ballots would be forbidden."
In fact, numerous opponents of the bill have repeatedlyclaimed that the EFCA eliminates secret ballots, and worse.
Further, even if one interprets "business" very narrowly as applying only to paid business lobbyists, that's wrong too. Eastman himself asserted in a U.S. Chamber blog post that the EFCA "would effectively do away with secret ballot elections in union organizing." Another Eastman blog post sermonizes about the secret ballot and falsely asserts that "Workers would lose a vital privacy protection - the ability to vote in a secret ballot election - if Card Check became law."
Yet, Winn does not challenge or correct Eastman's statement.
NewsBusters Ignores Its Own Abortion Labeling Guidelines Topic: NewsBusters
In a Jan. 30 NewsBusters post taking offense at a anti-abortion ad being described as "anti-abortion," Ken Shepherd writes that "our very own NewsBusters Style Guide has this mandate for our contributors: 'Refer to both sides [of the abortion debate] using their preferred language, pro-life and pro-choice.'"
Shepherd then goes on to suggest that the use of "anti-abortion" is "pejorative." He doesn't explain why that is -- he's even called out on it by the target of the post, Christianity Today, an editor of whom responded in a update by declaring himself "Proud to be anti-abortion." But more importantly, does NewsBusters actually follows this style tip?
We found afewposts that make use of "anti-abortion," and Dave Pierre declares that "The goal of the pro-life movement is to eliminate elective abortions," which certainly sounds anti-abortion to us. We also found a couple more that express similar annoyance with the "anti-abortion" term, like this post from Tim Graham, again without explaining why.
CNS' Jeffrey Fails to Challenge Stanek Topic: CNSNews.com
In a Jan. 29 interview, CNSNews.com editor in chief fails to challenge claims made by anti-abortion activist Jill Stanek, even though some have been proven false or unsubstantiated.
Jeffrey allows Stanek to repeat her story of how she "held a premature baby" that had allegedly survived an abortion "in her arms for forty-five minutes as the child struggled for life and then died." In fact, the Illinois Department of Public Health investigated Stanek's claims but could not substantiate them.
Jeffrey and Stanek also have the following exchange:
Jeffrey: So what did you do?
Stanek: First of all, I asked the hospital privately to stop, and when it wouldn’t then asked the attorney general of Illinois to get involved, who was a pro-life Republican—no pro-abort agenda. After an investigation, he determined that there was no law being violated. Meanwhile, on the federal level--
Jeffrey: Let’s focus on that point for a minute. The pro-life Republican attorney general of Illinois--
Stanek: Jim Ryan.
Jeffrey: He researched this. They looked into this. They didn’t just like casually dismiss this.
Stanek: It took them eight months.
Jeffrey: Eight months they looked into this?
Stanek: It was not just a casual decision.
Jeffrey: So the question was: Do we have a law that we can enforce to stop this hospital from taking a baby who may have been 22 weeks old who was delivered through an induced labor and tossing them in a soiled linen room to die.
Stanek: Right, there was none.
Jeffrey: The law of Illinois did not protect this child.
In fact, state law did already mandate lifesaving measures for premature babies. The July 2000 letter from Ryan's office on the investigation does not claim what Stanek purportedly witnessed was legal; it claimed that it could find no evidence to substantiate it.
Later, both Jeffrey and Stanek push the point that a proposed "born alive" law in Illinois was opposed by then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama even though it "essentially identical to the federal bill" in that it declared that it did not impinge on Roe v. Wade. In fact, according to abortion-rights advocates, because federal law does not regulate abortion, being merely "idential" to the federal "born alive" law was not enough to fully ensure that a state law would not impinge on Roe; it would also have to make explicit reference to Illinois law and make clear that it would not affect access to abortion under Illinois law.
Stanek then claimed that this "was a totally new argument that had never come up before--and was bogus." That's debatable, given that, as Planned Parenthood of Illinois points out, the Illinois "born alive" law didn't pass until 2005, when it specifically addressed both federal and state law.
A good reporter would have challenged Stanek on her claims -- after all, she has a history of peddling dubious or false clames, as well as making inflammatory attacks. But Jeffrey -- because he apparently shares Stanek's views on both abortion and Obama -- lets them pass unimpeded by reality.
You how just pointing out a simple fact will set some people off? Aaron Saltzman ("an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia") is the set-offee in a Jan. 29 Accuracy in Media blog post.
Saltzman declares that a Los Angeles Times writer, Janet Hook, is "using literary spin to bolster her personal political message" by noting that the House vote on the stiumulus package "passed on a strict party-line vote" and that President Obama "had worked hard to gain bipartisan support" for the package. Let the intern explosion begin:
So poor President Obama, despite valiant efforts to convince Republicans to abandon the fiscal policies that brought an extraordinarily low 4% unemployment rate through the Bush-43 years, was unable to re-educate a single member of the House minority. What a bummer.
Saltzman also seems to forget that those same policies have resulted in the current economic situation. Nevertheless, he goes on to personally attack the reporter:
Janet Hook is entitled to her opinions. She can talk about her assessment of HR 1 all she wants with her friends, her family, on a blog, etc. If she was an editorialist, or a columnist, or worked for an analytical magazine like Newsweek or Time she would have every right to preach away about her partisan perceptions of Republican ignorance and the Democrat godliness.
But she’s not an editorialist. She is not writing to her friends and family, or on a blog. And she does not work for Newsweek, Time, or any similar publication. She is a reporter—a reporter for the second largest, and fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country. She has a responsibility to give an objective report—not assessment or analysis—of the facts as they happened. It is not in her job description to flower up her phrasing with buzzwords or strategic phrasing, nor should it ever be.
Hook is an irresponsible reporter, and should be called out early and often for her transgressions.
Remember, this is all because Hook told the truth -- that the House stimulus package split down party lines, and Obama tried to recruit Republicans to vote for it.
Saltzman concludes by urging readers to send an email to Hook "and tell her to stop the spin." How about sending an email to Saltzman and tell him to cut back on the caffeine and temper his right-wing rage?
In a Jan. 31 NewsBusters post touting Bernard Goldberg's new anti-liberal, anti-Obama book "A Slobbering Love Affair," Rich Noyes includes a lengthy excerpt from the book -- one that contains a misleading claim.
As Media Matters points out, in the section of the book Noyes excerpted, Goldberg made a big deal that CBS' "The Early Show" aired a segment on "Five Things You Should Know About Barack Obama," but he failed to note that five days later, the show aired a segment listing "Five Things You Should Know" about John McCain.
Noyes fails to note Goldberg's misleading claim, perhaps too enraptured in how "fun" the book is. Indeed, Noyes revels in Goldberg's statement that "you can't make this crap up" while ignoring the fact that Goldberg did actually make up some of that crap. As Media Matters also details, Goldberg included a doctored conversation between Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw that falsely portrays them asserting that "there's a lot about him [Obama] we don't know."