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Friday, May 1, 2009
NewsBusters Chooses to Trust A Convicted Killer
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 30 NewsBusters post by Brad Wilmouth runs to the defense of Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, who in a speech on the House floor called the claim that the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard was a hate crime (Shepard was gay) a "hoax" and insisting it was merely a robbery gone bad. Wilmouth cited a 2004 segment of ABC's "20/20" which, in Wilmouth's words, "made a credible case that Shepard was targeted by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson not because of anti-gay sentiment, but because McKinney was high on methamphetamines, giving him unusual violent tendencies as well as a desire for cash to buy more drugs." The main proponents of this claim are the killers themselves.

But Wilmouth overlooks a couple things conflicting with such a conclusion, which, as we've detailed, has been embraced by right-wingers in an effort to oppose giving hate-crime protections to gays.

First, McKinney attempted a "gay panic" defense during his trial. Second, he has given multiple, conflicting accounts of what happened the night of Shepard's murder. Third, he's a convicted felon and a murderer -- not exactly the most trustworthy guy.

As a Wyoming police detective who worked on the Shepard case said: "Only three people know what really happened that night. ... One of them is dead and the other two are known liars and convicted felons -- murderers."

Further, as the Matthew Shepard Foundation has stated, the ABC report omitted the contents of McKinney's in-custody interview a few days after Shepard's death. That transcript shows "an un-rehearsed and unemotional anti-gay account of the events before, during, and after leaving Matt tied to the fence," according to the foundation.

We've detailed how numerous right-wingers have chosen to trust a convicted felon and murderer rather than examine all the facts of the Shepard case. Add Wilmouth to the list.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:09 AM EDT
Thursday, April 30, 2009
CNS Non-Disclosure Watch
Topic: CNSNews.com

An April 30 CNSNews.com article by Edwin Mora touts the pending delivery of a Cardinal Newman Society petition opposing a speech by President Obama at Notre Dame to the school without noting that Brent Bozell, head of the Media Research Center, CNS' parent organization, is on the Cardinal Newman Society board of directors.

Similarly, an April 30 CNS column by editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey references the Cardinal Newman Society petition without noting his boss is on the group's board.

On a related non-disclosure, an April 30 CNS article by Fred Lucas uncritically repeats the claim that waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed provided the U.S. "with information that allowed the U.S. government to foil a terror cell 'tasked' with flying a jet into a building in Los Angeles" without noting the fact that the Bush administration claimed that the Los Angeles plot was foiled a year before Mohammed was captured.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:26 PM EDT
Rush Limbaugh Anal Sex Watch
Topic: The ConWeb

As if to promote our new article, Rush Limbaugh has graced us with yet another reference to anal sex:

I mean, General Motors is caving. General Motors has bent over grabbed the ankles. Chrysler has bent over, grabbed the ankles. What are we supposed to do here? Everybody's scared of Obama. Everybody's scared of the government.

Unsurprisingly, NewsBusters and WorldNetDaily are silent, as they have always been.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:15 PM EDT
O'Leary Buys Another Zogby Poll, WND Promotes It
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 28 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn touts a "new Zogby poll" that was "commissioned by the O'Leary Report" claiming that "no government control of the Internet, no 'Fairness Doctrine' managing talk radio and if newspaper companies fail as a profitable means of disseminating news, then let them die, because Americans will not support a bailout."

What isn't clear from Zahn's article: Brad O'Leary bought himself another poll. 

What the heck is the O'Leary Report? Apparently, it's a newsletter published by O'Leary that, based on the edition posted on his website, is little more than fits of Obama-bashing designed to promote O'Leary's WND-published books, the most recent one being -- surprise! -- an attack on the possible reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine (even though nobody's actually planning to do that).

It's not until the 23rd paragraph of Zahn's article that O'Leary is even mentioned, and Zahn makes no effort to point out that O'Leary is, in fact, the guy behind the O'Leary Report.

O'Leary has a long history of buying Zogby polls (previously purchased under the name of ATI-News, O'Leary's barely existent news aggregator) to promote his books and views -- as we've detailed, the poll questions are manipulated to the point of including misleading and even false claims, so that O'Leary gets the responses he wants in order to further his right-wing attacks.

We couldn't find a link to the actual poll data -- which would have the actual questions that were asked -- at either WND or the O'Leary Report. That O'Leary hasn't make the data public suggests he has something to hide here too.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:09 AM EDT
NewsBusters Touts Misguided Anti-Olbermann Petition
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 29 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd touts a right-wing petition demanding that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann give up the raise in his new contract because MSNBC's parent company, General Electric, obtained a "$126 billion taxpayer-funded bailout." Shepard seems unconcerned that the people behind the petition are hiding behind a veil of secrecy.

Nor does Shepherd seem interested in the financial facts of both Olbermann's raise (from $4 million a year to $7.5 million) and the GE bailout.

First, the GE division for which Olbermann works, NBC Universal, is a profitable operation, having made $391 million in the first quarter of 2009 alone with MSNBC in particular credited with "significant profit gains." NBC Universal can very much afford to throw a couple million more at the host of MSNBC's highest-rated program.

Second, the $126 billion figure cited is not a total "bailout" but, rather, more of a credit line. As the Bloomberg article to which the petition links shows, GE has tapped only $41 billion of it. Further, none of that bailout is going to Olbermann or even NBC Universal; it's being used for the company's financial unit, GE Capital which operates independently of NBC Universal.

The petition also ignores the fact that unlike, say, AIG, GE as a whole is a profitable company, having made $2.9 billion in the first quarter even with the problems at GE Capital, which is expected to pass the federal government's "stress test" for financial institutions.

To sum up: GE can afford to pay someone who helps to generate income for his employer in a profitable division even more money, and do so with its own money. Can Shepherd say that about the AIG bonuses?


Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EDT
WND Lack-of-Disclosure Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We know WorldNetDaily doesn't care much for such niceties as basic journalistic ethics, with its repeated failures to disclose personal or business interests in the subjects it covers.

Thus, you will not be surprised that a fluffy April 28 WND profile by Alyssa Farah of homeschooling activist Michael Farris fails to disclose that Farah is a student at Patrick Henry College, of which Farris is founding president and chancellor.

Farah also serves up the following quote by E. Ray Moore Jr., founder of the anti-public-school group Exodus Mandate:

"As recently as June 2008 I was present in the Los Angeles Court of Appeals courtroom when Michael Farris wrapped up the defense case for rights of homeschooling in California and uttered these simple but immortal words, to the court, 'Your honor, you can't stop parents from doing good to their children,'" Moore recalled. 

Farah didn't mention the particulars of that case, better known as the Rachel L. case. As we've detailed, the father was a control freak who regularly physically abused his children, didn't want his children to have birth certificates and believed that educating children outside the home exposes them to "snitches." Further, the homeschool education the children did receive was found to be highly deficient, and the girl at the center of the case had reportedly been sexually abused by a friend of the family. Unsurprisingly, WND hid much of this from its readers as it championed the family as a model for homeschooling. (And WND's support of a father who would deny his children birth certificates is rather ironic given its obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate.)

Yet somehow, Farris apparently believed these parents were "doing good to their children." And Farah apparently didn't feel the need to round out her fluffy profile with incovenient facts proving otherwise.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 AM EDT
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Newsmax Misleads Again on Obama Inauguration Costs
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax has found a new way to mislead about the cost of Barack Obama's inauguration.

In the very first item detailing Obama's alleged "gaffes and gimmicks" during his first 100 days in office, Newsmax claims: "In his inaugural address, Obama calls on Americans to adopt a spirit of sacrifice, which apparently doesn’t include his own coronation. The $49 million cost of his swearing-in ceremony is triple the cost of Bush’s first inaugural."

In fact, Bush's first inauguration cost $40 million. Last time we checked, $49 million is not triple $40 million.

As we noted, Newsmax used to claim that Obama's inauguration cost "early four times what George Bush’s inauguration cost four years ago" -- or did until people figured out the 2005 inauguration figure didn't include security costs that were in Obama's number.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:48 PM EDT
WND Hides Full Truth About Chaplain
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We all know that WorldNetDaily keeps its readers in the dark about facts that interfere with its right-wing agenda -- its obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate is just one example.

Another example of this is WND's longtime promotion of Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Navy chaplain who defied orders by praying in Jesus' name at non-religious public events -- a cause celebre promoted by evangelical fundamentalist Christians -- and was ultimately court-martialed. WND has whitewashed his situation by misleadingly claiming he was court-martialed because he appeared "a White House function in March 2006 at which he wore his uniform and prayed 'in Jesus' name'"; in fact, it was a protest at the White House, not a "White House function," and he had received clear orders from his superiors not to wear his uniform at media events or political protests. He was court-martial for disobeying an order, not for praying in Jesus' name.

WND has generally refused to give its readers an honest account of the other side of the story. As artciulated by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, demands to pray "in Jesus' name" interferes with the free exercise of religious freedom in the military. Further, as noted by military history Bob Bateman, the events that activist chaplains like Klingenschmitt want to pray "in Jesus' name" at "have nothing to do with religion, and enlisted men of all religions are required to be there," and that the effect of allowing chaplains to go beyond a nonsectarian prayer coulde be to "take the simple step of just not inviting the chaplain at all."

You won't find these arguments at WND -- at least, not unless Klingenschmitt or his sympathizers are responding to it. Indeed, MRFF president Mikey Weinstein is named in only two WND articles -- both of which are columns by Klingenschmitt attacking him.

Nor has WND offered the account of Klingenschmitt's former superior at Naval Station Norfolk, Norm Holcomb:

“I was the dishonored ex-chaplain’s supervisor for the past 2 years,” Holcomb wrote in his message. “I found him to be totally untruthful, unethical and insubordinate. He was and is contemptuous of all authority. He was not court martialed for praying in Jesus’ name. I sent him out in uniform every week to pray at various ceremonies and functions. He always prayed in uniform and in Jesus’ name. He was never told that he could not pray in Jesus’ name. In fact, the issue of prayer had nothing at all to do with his dismissal from the Navy. He disobeyed the lawful order of a senior officer. I am sure that you understand that Navy Regulations forbid any of us, regardless of rank or position, to appear in uniform in support of any political or partisan event.”

Holcomb goes on to say, “He appeared in direct support of a political event, demonstrating contempt for the order of his Commanding Officer and Naval Regulations that we all swear that we will abide by…. The ex-chaplain is a man without honor and you have accepted his story and in doing so you have had ‘the wool pulled over your eyes.’"

That goes double for anything that makes Klingenschmitt look bad. So don't expect WND to breathe a word about a prayer Klingenschmitt issued the other day that sounds a lot like a death threat (h/t Gawker):

Let us pray. Almighty God, today we pray imprecatory prayers from Psalm 109 against the enemies of religious liberty, including [Americans United for Separation of Church and State executive director] Barry Lynn and Mikey Weinstein, who issued press releases this week attacking me personally. God, do not remain silent, for wicked men surround us and tell lies about us. We bless them, but they curse us. Therefore find them guilty, not me. Let their days be few, and replace them with Godly people. Plunder their fields, and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants, and remember their sins, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Praying for the deaths of one's critics, however much WND likely sympathizes with the sentiment, doesn't make for good PR. So expect WND to hide this from its readers it as it has the full truth about Klingenschmitt.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:18 AM EDT
FrontPageMag Falsely Suggests Obama Behind Attacks on Writers
Topic: Horowitz

Just because Andrew Walden is trying to talk some sense into conspiracy-prone Obama-haters by pointing out the folly of their Barack Obama birth certificate obsession doesn't mean he himself is not an conspiracy-prone Obama-hater.

An April 28 article by Walden published by FrontPageMag falsely suggests that Obama is behind the efforts of "Iraqi-British ex-Baathist billionaire" Nadhmi Auchi (who has links to Tony Rezko and thus, according to right-wing guilt-by-association reasoning, to Obama himself, though the only evidence Walden to that effect is that they purportedly met once at a party) to squelch criticism of him by Walden and others by threatening to file libel lawsuits in British courts, where the libel threshold is lower than in the U.S. The article carries the headline "Obama's Chilling Crew" -- which also appears on the version of the article on Walden's own website, Hawaii Free Press -- which creates the false suggestion that Obama is funding or somehow supporting Auchi's efforts.

While Walden doesn't further that impression in the article itself, neither does he dispel it. Thus, the misleading headline continues to mislead, and Walden is presumably quite happy about that.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:07 AM EDT
Aaron Klein's New Book: More Right-Wing Whitewash
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has just released a new book, "The Late Great State of Israel" (published by WND Books, natch), which purports to document "how enemies within and without threaten the Jewish nation's survival." We haven't read the book yet (WND, shockingly, has not deemed us worthy of a review copy), but WND's promotion for the book does a good job of hiding the right-wing slant Klein is known for -- remember, he declared a mass murderer who was also an AWOL Israeli soldier to be a victim, "murdered" by the "mob of Palestinians" that had witnessed the man shoot and kill four Arabs on a bus with no provocation.

For that, we have to go to other sources that aren't so shy about pretending they aren't biased. For instance, the right-leaning Israeli National News/Arutz Sheva:

The author details how leftist, Labor Zionist leaders often stab the country in the back while trying to minimize Israel's religious-Zionist population. He argues that Israel's evacuation of Gush Katif in 2005 and its drive to create a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and sections of Jerusalem are, in large part, aimed at destroying religious-Zionism, but that such actions will have devastating consequences for Israel.

And the right-leaning YNet News:

Klein became motivated to begin this project following Israel's 2005 disengagement of Gaza under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's helm. He could not accept the International media's portrayal of Jewish settlers in Gaza being fundamentalists living on stolen Arab land.

[...]

In an interview to Ynetnews, Klein said: “It was Israel that led the charge in legitimizing Yasser Arafat, bringing him out from exile in Tunis and providing him and his Fatah gang with a fiefdom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from which to wage jihad against the Jews.
 
"Now, Israel's policy is enhancing the same Fatah movement while also working to legitimize Hamas, by, among other things, negotiating with the Islamist group and failing to defeat Hamas militarily”.
 
Klein is also very critical of the United States funding and legitimizing Hamas in the International community. “Israel remains committed to negotiating a Palestinian state- in talks strongly urged on by the Obama administration- with a 'peace partner' whose official institutions indoctrinate its citizens with intense anti-Jewish hatred and violence” Klein told Ynetnews.

As we've detailed, Klein has long sought to whitewash Israeli right-wingers in the West Bank and Gaza, from hiding the extremist and violent Kahanist pasts of settlers in Gaza to desperately trying to prove that those perpetrating violence on Palestinians in the West Bank didn't actually live there. His new book, it appears, is just one more step in whitewashing right-wing Israeli extremists.

Of course, Klein has already declared his opposition to Obama by hurling numerous guilt-by-association attacks at him -- including trying to link him to Hamas through an "endorsement" by a Hamas spokesman. At the same time, Klein refused to bash John McCain the way he did Obama for having ties to Rashid Khalidi.

We can presume that the right-wing tone Klein has taken in his WND reporting is duplicated in his book. Just don't expect Klein to admit he's a right-winger, of which there apparently aren't any of in Israel.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:38 AM EDT
MRC Won't Say the Obvious About Media Study
Topic: Media Research Center

In separate NewsBusters post, the Media Research Center's Tim Graham and Brent Baker have highlighted a claim from a Center for Media and Public Affairs study that President Obama has received more coverage and "more positive assessments" in evening news broadcasts in his first 50 days in office than President Bush or President Clinton.

While both noted that only 13 percent of references to Obama on Fox News' "Special Report"were positive (compared to approximately 60 percent on the network evening news broadcasts), they have refused to acknowledge what that means -- namely, that Fox News' anti-Obama bias is much more pronounced than the networks' pro-Obama bias.

Graham, in quoting the Washington Post article on the CMPA study, did mention another piece of evidencefrom the study that shows Fox News' extreme bias: Obama's personal qualities drew more favorable coverage than his policies, with 32 percent of the sound bites positive on CBS, 31 percent positive on NBC and 8 percent positive on Fox. But even that didn't move Graham to put two and two together. (Baker didn't mention it at all.)

We shouldn't be surprised -- after all, the MRC has a history of being in denial about the obvious fact that Fox News has a pronounced right-wing bias -- much more so, as the CMPA study illustrates, than the so-called mainstream media leans left.

We tested this thesis further by searching for any references to another piece of evidence: the assertion made by Bill Shine, Fox News' senior vice president for programming, that the channel is making itself to be a "voice of opposition" to Obama's policies.

Guess what? We couldn't find any at the MRC main site or at NewsBusters.

Instead, the MRC is trying to push its lbieral-bias-is-at-the-root-of-everything agenda. It's reduced to complaining in an April 27 press release that the media won't uncritically repeat right-wing talking points -- that Obama's a socialist radical who wants to nationalize the entire economy. The first paragraph manages to cram in the word "radical" three times to describe Obama:

President Barack Obama has put forward policies representing the most radical government intervention in the free market in American history, with more proposals for even greater government interference on the way. But according to the Media Research Center (MRC), DURING Obama’s first 100 days in office the media have steadfastly refused to report this. In fact, rather than challenging the President’s radical policies, network news reporters have often celebrated Obama’s radical agenda.

But as the CMPA study states, the media have, in fact, criticized Obama's policies -- just not using the right-wing rhetoric the MRC wants. Which prety much destroys Brent Bozell's assertion that "The liberal media’s dedicated defense of Obama knows no bounds." 

Will Bozell & Co. give the media credit for that? Don't count on it.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:14 AM EDT
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
CNS Misleads Again on Covering of Symbols
Topic: CNSNews.com

We've previously detailed how CNSNews.com has repeatedly claimed that the Obama administration asked Georgetown University to cover up specific religious symbols before a speech by President Obama, despite a complete lack of evidence that the administration asked the university to anything beyond covering up the university's "signs and symbols."

CNS is still pushing this non-story, however. An April 28 article by Penny Starr quotes a Republican congressman as being "disturbed" by "President Barack Obama’s request to have the symbolic name for Jesus Christ – IHS – covered from a pediment that was visible behind him when he spoke at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall on April 14." Starr went on to repeat the claim that "The Obama administration asked school officials to cover the symbol, which was done by placing a piece of plywood painted black over it."

Again, for Starr's benefit: CNS has never presented evidence that the Obama administration made specific demands to cover up specific symbols at Georgetown. Absent that evidence, any assertion or suggestion that the administration did is, simply, a lie.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:25 PM EDT
Wheeler Hides Facts About Tedisco Race
Topic: Newsmax

In his April 27 Newsmax column, Scott Wheeler claims with a straight face -- much as he did in fundraising emails -- that even though Democrat Scott Murphy defeated Republican Jim Tedisco in a special election for a House seat in New York, it was a "dramatic rebuke" of President Obama. How so? Because "just five months earlier, the very same district gave Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand a 24-point margin of victory."

Unsurprisingly, Wheeler fails to mention that a month before the election, Tedisco held a double-digit lead in polls over Murphy -- a lead that disappeared in no small part because of the harshly negative ads attacking Murphy that the organization of which Wheeler is executive director, the National Republican Trust PAC, ran. Indeed, one poll found that only 12 percent of voters said the ads they saw for Tedisco made them more likely to support the Republican, to 28 percent who said they became less likely to support him. Questions were also raised about the veracity of claims the PAC made about Murphy.

Wheeler's PAC spent more than $819,000 on ads that drove voters away from its favored candidate -- but don't expect Wheeler to admit that little fact.

Wheeler also asserted that "Tedisco conceded with class compared to the way Democrats handle such matters," but he cited no examples whatsoever of Democrats purprotedly acting less than classy. Wheeler was silent about the amount of class Norm Coleman has demonstrated or whether he will call for Coleman to follow Tedisco's classy lead.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:55 PM EDT
NewsBusters Repeats Dubious KSM Claim
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 27 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd repeats a post by right-wing blogger Patterico criticizing the Los Angeles Times for failing to note that "recently declassified memos confirm that waterboarding [Khalid Shaikh Mohammed] was key to disrupting a plot to fly airplanes into the tallest skyscraper in Los Angeles."

Both Shepherd and Patterico fail to mention that there's significant doubt about that claim. As we've detailed, the Bush administration has claimed that the Los Angeles plot was foiled a year before Mohammed was captured.

It appears that the Times was showing restraint by refusing to report a claim about which reasonable doubt has been raised.

Anyone think Shepherd or Patterico will give the Times credit for that? We thought not.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:24 AM EDT
Examiner's '10 Worst Ideas' Peddle More Misinformation
Topic: Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner's "10 worst ideas of the week" is proving to be a regular source of right-wing misinformation -- no wonder they won't put it on the website, leaving it only in print editions of the paper. Let's see what they got wrong this week, shall we?

No. 1 in the April 26 edition was a claim that "prominent scientist" Christopher Monckton was "disinvited" from a House committee hearing by Democrats "who don't welcome his doubts about the legitimacy of global warming." As we've noted, Monckton is a not a scientist; he's a journalilst by training. Further, Monckton has peddled dubious claims of his own, making him a less-than-credible witness.

In third place was criticism of Democrats for deciding to use the "reconciliation" process to push health care reform through Congress. The Examiner adds: "But reconciliation is supposed to be for reconciling different dollar amounts, not for major policy changes. In short, it's a major procedural abuse." Nowhere is it noted that when Republicans controlled Congress, they repeatedly used reconciliation to push through numerous initiatives that had nothing to do with "reconciling different dollar amounts," like tax-cut bills.


Posted by Terry K. at 8:57 AM EDT

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