MRC Abandons Armstrong Williams Topic: NewsBusters
A Feb. 9 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock noted that MSNBC had on "syndicated talk show host Armstrong Williams to bash Limbaugh over the issue of how much power the radio star has within the GOP." Unmentioned by Whitlock: Williams is a conservative.
Very much mentioned by Whitlock, though:
Williams has been a somewhat less prominent figure since an incident in 2005 in which it was revealed that he had been paid $240,000 to promote President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act on his syndicated television show. According to a January 5, 2005 USA Today article, the host said he didn't recall mentioning the agreement on air.
That appears to be the first time the MRC has used this against Williams or even mentioned it in a critical way. After all, nobody -- especially fellow conservatives -- is permitted to say anything negative about the sainted Limbaugh. (Whitlock does note that Rep. Phil Gingrey found that out the hard way.) When the MRC has mentioned it in the past, it was to minimize Williams' transgressions in the face of allegedly more serious scandals involving liberals:
A January 2005 CyberAlert wasn't happy that Keith Olbermann "insisted on Monday night that the case of Armstrong Williams taking money from the Bush administration combined with the CBS panel finding no political bias behind CBS's hit job on President Bush, discredits the idea of any liberal media bias."
A January 2006 column by Brent Bozell noted that "The liberal media made loud grunts and noises over columnist Armstrong Williams," and concedes that "If a columnist is working for a government program or entity, it’s always best to disclose to readers your involvement, so they can judge your point of view more fully." Bozell then immediately plays the equivalence game: "But where is that media-ethics crowd erupting with the same outrage when liberal journalists – even major liberal journalists – cut ethical corners and feather their own political nests?"
Bozell plays the same equivalence game in a November 2006 column, noting that liberals "complained when conservative P.R. man Armstrong Williams struck a deal with the Department of Education to promote the Bush 'No Child Left Behind' policy," then adding: "But the same left-wing crowd that claims to hate propaganda seems to be offering nothing but flowers and best wishes for the November launch of al-Jazeera English."
We've previously noted that the MRC's news operation, CNSNews.com, ignored the Williams scandal when it first broke. But in October 2008, CNS quoted Williams questioning the "credibility" fo Gwen Ifill for moderating a vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin when Ifill had authored a bookon black politicians in the "age of Obama." CNS did not note the pot-kettle-black irony of Williams' claim.
Meanwhile ... Topic: NewsBusters
Last week, County Fair's Jamison Foser pointed out a certain lack of reading comprehension skills on the part of NewsBusters' Tom Blumer, who asserted in a Feb. 4 post that a paragraph in a Washington Post article about Tom Daschle was actually about Tim Geithner. Blumer has since responded to Foser -- and still gets the facts wrong.
FrontPageMag Peddles Falsehoods on Illegal Immigrant Criminals Topic: Horowitz
A Feb. 9 FrontPageMag article by Alyssa A. Lappen makes the wildly fraudulent statement that "Illegal aliens account for most federal prison inmates, too, according to many studies." Lappen's source for this is an article in the right-wing City Journal that doesn't directly make that claim.
In fact, as we've noted, statistics from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics show that 6.4 percent of all state and federal inmates at midyear 2005 were "noncitizens." In case it's unclear to Lappen, that number is nowhere near "most."
Lappen also writes: "Immigration cases made up 57% of 'all new federal criminal cases brought nationwide' in March 2008, according to Syracuse University-affiliated analysts. They include hundreds of thousands of criminals[.]" While the first claim is true, according to the New York Times article she quotes, the second is decidedly not: the Times reports there were 9,350 new immigration prosecutions in March 2008, not "hundreds of thousands."
Bozell Ignores CNS' Suppression of ABC Response Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell has finally responded to the letter by ABC spokesperson Kerry Smith over Bozell's attack on ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Bozell accused Smith of acting "inadequately, disingenuously and indeed dishonestly" and "accusing me of intentional deceit in this serious matter." But at no point in his letter does Bozell mention, much less respond to, the specific accusation of "deceit" that Smith detailed.
As we've detailed, after Bozell accused ABC of refusing to respond publicly to his claim that Stephanopoulos was, in Bozell's words, engaging in "a clear violation of journalistic ethics" by holding daily talks with longtime friends James Carville, Paul Begala and Rahm Emanuel, Smith pointed out that days before Bozell's ABC-bashing letter came out, ABC gave a statement to Bozell's news operation, CNSNews.com, on the issue for a story that CNS killed. Further, as we've also detailed, CNS editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey confirmed (albeit buried in a weekend story) that this allegation was true (Jeffrey claimed a purported "conflict of interest"). Jeffrey also stated that CNS did not inform Bozell of ABC's response until after ABC had raised the issue of CNS' killed story.
The accompanying MRC press release claims that Smith was "hurling false allegations at Bozell and the MRC" -- but like Bozell it failed to note that the one accusation of deceit Smith cited was largely true.
Bozell is still wrong in claiming that ABC didn't respond to his original accusations, and his silence on that matter tells us that he knows he was busted on that but is too stubborn and/or arrogant to admit he was wrong.
Nevertheless, Bozell accuses ABC of engaging in the same behavior he himself is exhibiting:
Finally and most importantly is the matter at hand – the damaged institutional memory at ABC News, especially apparent among you senior executives. You suffer from collective amnesia. Mr. Stephanopoulos, Mr. Begala, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Carville ran the 1992 Clinton campaign and labored together as Democratic strategists and message makers both before and after Clinton’s election. To not even address this fact, and how there just might be even an appearance of impropriety, suggests your institutional memory only goes back to the day Mr. Stephanopoulos came aboard.
Bozell's institutional memory, meanwhile, appears to go back only two days -- ignoring the fact that his own news organization has copped to its role in the deception that ABC accuses him of.
Further, at no point does Bozell and the MRC provide a copy of, or otherwise link to, Smith's original letter, presumably lest his readers learn about the deception Bozell would rather keep on the down-low.
Newsmax Columnist Defends O'Reilly, Doesn't Mention His Offense Topic: Newsmax
A Feb. 8 Newsmax column by S.E. Cupp -- an apparent Ann Coulter wannabe (as the accompanying picture of her suggests) who has written a book titled "Why You're Wrong About the Right -- asserted that a New York Times editorial described Bill O'Reilly as "an example of anti-immigration racism," calling the charge "libelous -- and entirely inaccurate." But at no point does Cupp identify or explain the O'Reilly remark the Times cited that led to that conclusion.
The Times had written, "Google the words 'Bill O’Reilly' and 'white, Christian male power structure' for another YouTube taste of the Fox News host assailing the immigration views of 'the far left' (including The Times) as racially traitorous." Indeed, if you do so, you will find a 2007 statement by O'Reilly on his radio show claiming that "The New York Times wants ... to change the white, Christian male power structure. That's what they want."
Since Cupp does not acknowledge the statement O'Reilly made, she really has no basis upon which to claim that the Times' highlighting of the statement is "libelous -- and entirely inaccurate." Indeed, O'Reilly himself has painted himself as a "misunderstood" victim even as he has failed to explain the statement.
How can Cupp defend O'Reilly when she fails to acknowlege what he originally said?
NewsBusters Baselessly Accuses Maddow of 'Anti-Religious Bias' Topic: NewsBusters
A Feb. 6 NewsBusters post by Jeff Poor follows in the footsteps of WorldNetDaily by accepting alarming claims by a Republican senator at face value while dismissing the facts that contradict him.
Poor accuses Rachel Maddow of "anti-religious media bias" by correcting Republican Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate floor rant about how a clause in the stimulus bill that bars federal funding for school facilities that are primarily or exclusively used for religious purposes infringes on freedom of religion. And how was Maddow being "anti-relgious"? By pointing out that similar clauses have appeared in federal funding bills "for 46 years."
Instead, Poor focused on the fact that Maddow "cut out over two minutes in the middle of DeMint's speech to take him out of context." But since DeMint's basic premise was flawed, two minutes of DeMint ranting about how, in Poor's words, "the bill was susceptible to a potential lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union" would have added nothing to Maddow's take.
Poor also claims that "According to a spokesman from DeMint's office, this provision is completely different." But Poor offers no documentation to support this claim; rather, he links to a article he wrote for MRC's Culture & Media Institute that makes the same inflammatory claim as DeMint without noting the clause's long history of appearing in federal funding bills.
CNS Sheepishly Confirms ABC's Claim of Killed Story Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com rarely posts original articles over the weekend, but it did so Feb. 7, with an article by Fred Lucas that -- if you scroll way to the end -- addresses ABC's allegation that CNS killed a story that would have contained ABC's response to Media Research Center chief (and CNS president) Brent Bozell's accusation that ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos was engaging in "a clear violation of journalistic ethics" by holding daily talks with longtime friends James Carville, Paul Begala and Rahm Emanuel.
The article starts off with ABC's denial that Stephanopoulos is "advis[ing]" Emanuel or the Obama White House and disputing the tone of the Politico article that launched this, and Bozell still insisting that Stephanopoulos is and essentially calling ABC spokeswoman Emily Lenzner a liar: "If the story is not true, one would expect George Stephanopoulos and ABC to loudly, unequivocally, immediately and unrelentingly denounce Politico for running an untrue story. Instead, they’re attacking me for simply repeating what Politico said."
But it's not until the 22nd paragraph of the article that we get to the real meat of this story: that ABC did, in fact, criticize the Politico story in its comments to CNS that were not published at the time they were made -- and are, presumably, the comments that lead off this Feb. 7 article. The article then addresses ABC's specific allegation against CNS:
The ABC letter also noted that CNSNews.com, as part of its own reporting on the issue, had been in contact with the network’s media relations staff. Smith said ABC “cooperated immediately” with an “on the record response,” but had “since learned from your reporter that his story was killed.”
Terry Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of CNSNews.com, said in a statement Friday, Feb. 6, why a CNSNews.com story on the ABC statement did not run earlier.
“I decided on Friday, January 30, that I did not want to run a story about a dispute between CNSNews.com’s parent organization and ABC News because it presented a conflict of interest for us,” Jeffrey said. “I made the decision in consultation with our managing editor.”
“I did not discuss this decision with MRC President Brent Bozell, nor did I inform him about the fact that we had considered running a story and not done so, or of the substance of the statement ABC provided to reporter Fred Lucas until the afternoon of Thursday, February 5,” Jeffrey said.
Lucas and Jeffrey work in the same office, yet Lucas has to rely on an apparently prepared statement from Jeffrey to tell CNS' side of the story? Jeffrey's statement was not released publicly, as far as we know.
Further, Jeffrey did not let Bozell know about ABC's statement to CNS "until the afternoon of Thursday, February 5" -- that is, after ABC's letter pointing that CNS had killed the story was sent and, perhaps more to the point, posted by Politico's Michael Calderone.
There's also no direct admission by Bozell that he erred in claiming that ABC has been silent on the issue, and that perhaps his left hand should have known what his right hand was doing. Indeed, this article is the only place within the MRC empire that this issue has even been addressed -- buried at the bottom of a report posted on the slowest readership day of the week. Yet the MRC front page still features Bozell's bogus attack on ABC with the headline: "Bozell to ABC President: You Must Publicly Address Stephanopoulos' Apparent Conflict of Interest."
Also, Jeffrey's claim that CNS reporting on the Bozell-ABC spat 'presented a conflict of interest for us" rings a bit hollow, since CNS generally has little problem promoting corporate initiatives -- indeed, CNS news stories haveregularlyrepeatedclaimsmade by MRC and its sister organizations, and its mission statement touts that "Study after study by the Media Research Center, the parent organization of CNSNews.com, clearly demonstrate a liberal bias in many news outlets." Isn't the whole point of CNS to help promote the conservative agenda of its owner? It's a little too late for Jeffrey -- who, as we've noted, has a long conservative pedigree -- to declare independence and fret about journalistic ethics now.
It seems that CNS was willing to sit on the truth of ABC's response, which proved a key contention by Bozell wrong, until ABC called them out on it. That's a more serious ethical breach than the purported "conflict of interest" between CNS and Bozell.
A Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh uncritically repeats claims by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice that a clause in a provision in the stimulus bill that bans federal funding of construction of school facilities whose primary purpose is religious is an "attempt to censor religious speech and worship on school campuses across the nation." Unruh makes no apparent attempt to seek out a response to Sekulow and Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, whom Unruh also quotes opining on the issue.
Too bad, because Sekulow and DeMint appear to be lying.
As Media Matters details, the clause to which Sekulow and DeMint are referring specifically addresses higher education -- Sekulow and Unruh imply that it applies to public schools -- and the provision is nearly identical to provisions included in numerous other bills passed by Congress, including those passed when the Republicans were in the majority.
Further, at no point do Unruh, Sekulow, and DeMint explain how the clause specifically bans "organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Catholic Student Ministries, Hillel and other religious groups" from using public facilities. The clause clearly states that funding is banned for facilities used exclusively or substantially for a "religious mission," which does not apply to, as DeMint suggests, dorm rooms, let alone facilities that religious groups might use that are also made available to other campus groups.
In short, Unruh is merely regurgitating right-wing scare tactics, which, unfortunately, we've come to expect from him.
In an effort to give credit where credit is due, it's worth pointing out that a couple of ConWeb outlets have demonstrated the possible existence of a conscience by actually debunking false smears regarding Barack Obama.
A Jan. 19 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid stated that some conservative blogs were "claiming without evidence that Leon Panetta, the former Clinton chief of staff and incoming CIA director, has a radical daughter named Linda who associates with Hugo Chavez and other Latin American revolutionaries." She's not -- Kincaid is surprisingly conciliatory toward her, allowing her to tell her views (which actually aren't so "radical"). Even more surprisingly, Kincaid adds: "But even if Leon Panetta had a left-wing daughter or son, it’s difficult to believe this would be the kind of thing that would be covered up to this extent. After all, why should Panetta―or any parent, for that matter―be held responsible for the views or activities of a child."
That doesn't keep Kincaid, though, from touting what he claims at the top of his column to be "obscure and hidden left-wing connections of members of the new Obama Administration."
A Jan. 31 WorldNetDaily article highlights a claim that the Obama White House was planning "to have soldiers pledge allegiance to the president instead of the nation and its Constitution" -- then pointed out that "the Department of Defense knew nothing about the 'issue.'"
Even more surprisingly, WND busted one of its favorite people of late -- Orly Taitz, who has filed numerous lawsuits "challenging Obama's qualifications for the Oval Office under the Constitution's requirement that the president be a 'natural born' citizen" -- as promoting the bogus rumor. Unfortunately, WND then lets Taitz explain why it's only logical that "we believe everything bad, illegal and unconstitutional when it comes to Obama."
The article also claims that "In fact, WND has reported in the past on Obama's desire to change some ideas in the Constitution." But as we've detailed, WND has lied about Obama's statements regarding the Constitution.
So WND knows how to tell the truth about Obama. If only it knew how to tell its readers the truth about Obama's birth certificate.
NewsBusters: Still Proving Stephen Colbert Right Topic: NewsBusters
As we'vepreviouslynoted, the Media Research Center seems determined, in its Javert-like obsession over any perceived slight to conservatives, to be the living embodiment of Stephen Colbert's statement that "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." In that spirit, a couple of NewsBusters posts choose to interpret reality as, yes, liberal bias.
Kyle Drennen, in a Feb. 6 post, has decided that CBS is "defend[ing]" the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Why? Because of a report stating that "President Bush said repeatedly he wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo, where suspected terrorists were being held indefinitely without trial. Turns out it was his own vice president who stood in the way," and because it corrected the claim made by former Vice President Dick Cheney that 61 former Guantanamo detainees have returned to terrorism by pointing out that "only 18 have been confirmed."
At no point does Drennen contradict any of the claims made by the CBS report; rather, he seems to be complaining that CBS is committing bias by reporting the truth.
Scott Whitlock has a similar freak-out over factual reporting in another Feb. 6 post, taking offense at NBC's "Today" for noting the popularity of President Obama as demonstrated by the various Obama tsochkes available, huffing that the show "decided to fawn over the branding of the new President" and was "marveling at the new Obama-related products." Again, no contradiction of the facts, merely offense that the undeniable fact of Obama's popularity was acknowledged in a news report.
WND Ignores MRC's Alleged Deception in ABC Attack Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn uncritically repeats claims by Brent Bozell and the Media Research Center that "ABC's George Stephanopoulos conducts a teleconference each morning with Democratic strategists," but it ignores the bigger scandal: that ABC accused the MRC of burying ABC's response to a MRC subsidiary answering questions about the issue so that Bozell could claim that ABC refused to respond.
While Zahn cited a letter to Bozell by Kerry Smith, senior vice president of editorial quality at ABC News, and provides an opportunity for Bozell to respond to selected claims raised by Smith, there's no mention of the serious claim Smith makes:
Furthermore, last Friday, a reporter from CNS News, which was founded by you and continues to be directly affiliated with the MRC, contacted our media relations staff for a piece he'd been assigned to write on this very topic. We cooperated immediately and provided him an on the record response. We have since learned from your reporter that his story was killed.
As we've noted, this raises the question of whether the CNS story was killed so that Bozell could claim that ABC refused to respond -- an accusation the MRC has failed to acknowledge, let alone respond to, on its website or anywhere else.
Wouldn't Bozell and the MRC want to defend their honor in the face of such an accusation if they felt that it was wrong? Yet it has been silent -- and WND's Zahn allowed them to continue their silence.
Regarding Bozell's original assertion that "ABC News must address this publicly and comprehensively": That now applies to Bozell and the accusation that his organization killed a story in order to perpetuate a false attack.
WND's Washington Seizes on Ginsburg's Illness to Bash Her Topic: WorldNetDaily
Anyone whose main sources of comfort are "the Bible, WorldNetDaily and the Michael Savage radio show" has problems dealing with reality. And Ellis Washington comes through again with his whacked-outright-wingstylings in his Feb. 7 WND column marking Ruth Bader Ginsburg's recent cancer surgery by spreading lies about her.
Washington cites "an interesting article on Justice Ginsburg by Edward Whelar," and proceeds to repeat alleged "facts" in the article that Washington makes no apparent attempt to fact-check -- even though they have been debunked long ago. Let's examine a few, as quoted by Washington:
1. Protecting prostitution. Citing Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972), and Roe v. Wade (1973) as judicial precedent in support of prostitution, Ginsburg theorized that federal laws against prostitution "are subject to several constitutional and policy objections. Prostitution, as a consensual act between adults, is arguably within the zone of privacy protected by recent constitutional decisions." Ginsburg proposed that the federal laws against prostitution be repealed.
In fact, Ginsburg merely stated that an argument could be made that the act of prostitution is constitutionally protected. When the issue arose during Ginsburg's 1993 confirmation hearings, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch agreed that the sentence could not be construed as a stated position, much less a belief: "You were making an academic point. I understand. I'm not trying to indicate that you were justifying prostitution."
Certainly, as a law professor, Washington understands what an academic legal point is. Uh, right?
2. Protecting bigamy. Throughout her long legal career, Ginsburg has considered laws prohibiting the rights of bigamists "of questionable constitutionality since it appears to encroach impermissibly upon private relationships."
In fact, Ginsburg questioned the constitutionality of legislation that restricted the right to vote or hold office of bigamists or "persons cohabiting with more than one person." Ginsburg wrote that the provision "appears to encroach impermissibly upon private relationships" and recommended that it "be narrowed to avoid conflict with constitutionally protected privacy interests."
6. Reducing the age of consent to 12. Ginsburg had recommended legislative changes that would reduce the age of consent for statutory rape under federal law from 16 to 12.
In fact, Ginsburg advocated no such thing. Ginsburg's report noted a 1973 Senate bill as an example of legislation that rejected the "traditional sex discriminatory fashion" in which the United States Code defined rape. The bill laid out three circumstances as constituting rape, including that "the other person is, in fact, less than twelve years old." But Ginsburg cited the bill only for the purposes of noting its gender-neutral language and did not address the merits of the clause regarding "age of consent."
As we noted above, Washington does indeed claim to be a law professor. Anyone unfortunate enough to have to learn law from him has our sympathies.
Aaron Klein Carries Water for Netanyahu Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has long been a hater of outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- even trying to destabilize him during an Israeli military action -- and a promoter of right-wing Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu.
So it's no surprise that Klein would be touting Netanyahu less than a week before Israeli national elections. In a Feb. 5 WND article, Klein highlights how Netanyahu allegedly "secretly issued a stern warning to Hamas that if its rocket campaign continues once he's in power, he will not hesitate to eliminate the terror group's leadership in both the Gaza Strip and Syria." Klein offers no on-the-record confirmation of this story.
Also unsurprisingly, Klein fails to identify the right-wing political leanings of Netanyahu and his Likud party, describing Netanyahu only as a "opposition leader."
The article, however, mentions nothing about the alleged cost of the standards, making Newsmax's assertion that the standards are "costly" completely baseless. Further, the article points out that Obama is not ordering new standards, just that previously established standards be followed:
Laws on the books already require new efficiency standards for household and commercial appliances. But they have been backlogged in a tangle of missed deadlines, bureaucratic disputes and litigation. In essence, Obama's intent is to say that legal deadlines must be met, with priority being given to those standards that are likely to yield the best pocketbook savings for consumers.