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Monday, May 18, 2009
A Tale of Two Media Studies
Topic: Media Research Center

Last week, the Media Research Center released a report claiming that network news programs have "failed as watchdogs, raising few doubts about Obama’s agenda and showering every major policy initiative with positive press," asserting that "The networks lavished good press on every major initiative of the early Obama administration, including the massive stimulus package, all of the various bailouts, health care, stem cells, the environment and foreign policy."

That conflicts with the findings of a Center for Media and Public Affairs study stating that while Obama has received "better press than his immediate predecessors," it "hasn’t precluded heavy criticism of his policies" -- "On the broadcast networks fewer than two out of five evaluative soundbites (39%) praised his policies and proposals."

While CMPA's study evaluated only the first 50 days of Obama's presidency while the MRC evaluated the first 100 days, it's unlikely that CMPA's 61 percent negative critiques by networks of Obama's policies somehow morphed into the MRC's "lavished good press."

We've detailed how MRC studies tend to be tainted by its right-wing bias, a pattern that appears to be continuing here. Indeed, much of the report appears to be complaining that the networks didn't unquestioning repeat right-wing talking points. From the exexutive summary:

Obama's first 100 days were defined by massive spending, aggressive intervention in the private sector and proposals for a huge expansion of the federal government. Yet none of the networks aired a single story on whether Obama’s policies were pushing the U.S. toward socialism, and no reporter used the term “socialist” to describe Obama.

Not only that, network reporters never used the word “liberal” to describe either Barack Obama or his agenda during the first 100 days.

MRC also claims that "The networks applauded Obama’s decision to use taxpayer money to fund embryo-destroying stem cell research (82% positive coverage)." By contrast, CMPA notes that "praise for his health care proposals and new stem cell research policy brought balanced coverage overall (50% positive)."

Somebody's not correct here -- odds are it's the MRC.

The MRC goes on to criticize the networks for merely reporting facts that it would rather not see reported. For instance, the report notes: "On the February 14 CBS Evening News, correspondent Barry Petersen asserted that the Japanese economy failed to rebound in the 1990s because the Japanese stopped their massive spending program too soon — and that the U.S. should brace for even greater government spending than the $787 billion stimulus bill." The MRC doesn't dispute the claim, which numerous economists agree with; it attacks CBS for reporting it in the first place.

Reporting inconvenient facts and refusing to regurgitate right-wing talking points are not evidence of "bias," something the MRC doesn't seem to understand.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
ConWeb Touts Dubious Abortion Poll
Topic: The ConWeb

The ConWeb is unsurprisingly rushing to embrace a new Gallup poll portraying a major shift on abortion -- those who identified themselves as "pro-life" jumped from 44 percent in 2008 to 51 percent this year, while those who identified themselves as "pro-choice" declined from 50 percent in 2008 to 42 percent this year.

NewsBusters' Tom Blumer declared in a May 15 post, "What a difference a radical, in your face, abortion-promoting president makes," citing examples of "Obama's appalling abortion-supporting record" and asserting that "the ascendance of Dear Leader Barack Obama has unmasked what being 'pro-choice' on abortion is all about."

WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, cited an "analyst" -- in fact, someone from Concerned Women for America, which opposes abortion and thus cannot be counted on to offer anything resembling objective "analysis" -- similarly assertd that the numbers are "a reaction to the realization what a true "pro-choice" position means to President Barack Obama." Newsmax gave lead-story play to an Associated Press article on the poll.

But the sharp year-to-year swing -- particularly on an issue that has seen few sharp swings in Gallup polling -- may indicate a problem with the poll. As Media Matters' Jamison Foser noted:

Gallup says the large swing from a year ago is attributable entirely to a 10-percentage-point increase in Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who call themselves pro-life. But that 10-point increase can only result in the overall swing Gallup claims has occurred if more people are Republican or lean Republican today than a year ago. That's possible, but is inconsistent with other polling that shows fewer Americans than ever consider themselves Republicans. Until Gallup releases the full data, its press release shouldn't be taken particularly seriously.

Meanwhile, Ed Kilgore at adds:

After eight years of constant excitement among right-to-lifers about getting that fifth vote on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, that prospect is now pretty distant. And instead, Americans have been exposed to a constant wailing of alarms about Obama being "the most pro-abortion president in history," determined, somehow, to expand abortion rights. That Republicans and Republican-leaning independents might polarize on the subject isn't terribly surprising or necessarily significant.

Of course, since the poll has numbers they can get behind, the ConWeb will continue to take it quite seriously.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:20 AM EDT
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Your WND Obama Lie of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A May 16 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn begins by stating that "Barack Obama has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. is "no longer a Christian nation," but waits until the 27th paragraph to put Obama's words in context -- that he once said, "Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers," adding that "We should acknowledge this and realize that when we're formulating policies from the statehouse to the Senate floor to the White House, we've got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community."

By framing the article around a statement taken out of context and burying the proper context, Zahn demonstrates himself to be a liar -- and, thus, an ideal WorldNetDaily employee.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 PM EDT
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Richard Bartholomew highlights the latest addition to the WorldNetDaily store, a book claiming that the Beatles' popularity "is at least partly explained ... by a pact John Lennon made with the Devil." The book also claims that "the 'death clues' long associated with Paul McCartney were actually subliminal messages hinting at Lennon's fate."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:29 AM EDT
Corsi Just Can't Stop Lying About Obama
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jerome Corsi, it seems, is incapable of doing basic, complete research.

For reasons unbenownst to us, Corsi has decided to revisit Barack Obama's relationship with ACORN, even though it's irrelevant to anything going on now and arguably wasn't all that relevant during last year's election. In a May 13 WorldNetDaily article dedicated to portraying ACORN as originating in "a revolutionary strategy developed by two Columbia University sociologists in the 1960s," Corsi writes: "In 1992, while he was working as a community organizer in Chicago, Obama headed the Chicago operations of Project Vote!, an ACORN effort to register voters nationally."

As we've repeatedly pointed out, Project Vote was a separate entity from ACORN in 1992; as ACORN itself stated, "Project Vote had no more connection to ACORN than it did with dozens of other national and local organizations with which it partnered on local registration drives." Project Vote has since become a part of ACORN.

Corsi also asserts that ACORN is "funded heavily by George Soros through his Open Society Institute." That's not exactly true either; as NPR has noted, other organizations and even the federal government are on record as providing more money to ACORN than the Open Society Institute.

In an April 14 follow-up article, Corsi repeats the false claim that Project Vote was "an ACORN effort to register voters nationally" in 1992. He also engages in another misleading claim:

While the Obama administration's $787 economic stimulus package did not funnel federal funds to ACORN by name, the bill signed by the president included some $2 billion for non-profit "neighborhood stabilization" non-governmental organizations. Some of those funds could be allocated to ACORN to buy abandoned or foreclosed homes in impoverished neighborhoods, with the intent to rehabilitate them for resale or rental.

WhileCorsi surprisingly admits that the stimulus package "did not funnel federal funds to ACORN by name" -- as some of Corsi's ConWeb-ites have falsely asserted -- his claim that some of the stimulus funds "could be allocated to ACORN" is highly misleading. As the article to which Corsi links as support for his claim details, that claim is listed as "barely true":

If Democrats were trying to steer money to ACORN, say ACORN leaders, they sure picked an odd way to do it. ACORN has never done this type of foreclosure work, and according to ACORN's chief organizer, they don't plan to.

In response to Boehner's statement, ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis stated: "We watch with bemusement as he tries to gin up opposition to progressive solutions to America's deep economic crisis by accusing ACORN of doing something we have never done. We have not received neighborhood stabilization funds, have no plans to apply for such funds, and didn't weigh in on the pending rule changes."

Sister organization ACORN Housing Corp. has developed some housing in several cities, but it also has never done any foreclosure work.

"We theoretically could apply," said Richard Hayes, director of strategic projects for ACORN Housing. "But we would have to compete like everyone else. There is no guarantee we would be chosen."

Corsi fails to acknowledge ACORN's statements on the issue in his article. Because Corsi can't be bothered to tell the full truth about this issue, there's no reason to trust his reporting on it -- remember, we've documented him telling numerous lies about Obama. We do wonder, however, to what end Corsi is rehashing this -- for another Whistleblower magazine article, perhaps?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:10 AM EDT
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Shorter Matthew Balan
Topic: NewsBusters
Al Gore said he waited two years to criticize the Bush administration when, in fact, he waited only a year and eight months. Liar! Gore is just like Dick Cheney!

Posted by Terry K. at 9:48 AM EDT
Humes, Newsmax Still Won't Apologize for False Obama Quote
Topic: Newsmax

In March, we reported how Newsmax columnist James Humes asserted -- without any substantiation whatsoever -- that President Obama said of a bust of Winston Churchill on the Oval Office, "Get that goddam thing out of here."Humes was eventually forced to walk it back and admit it "was never fully substantiated, despite frequent repetition on radio talk shows," though he named no radio host who had advanced the claim -- but not before Newsmax itself approvingly cited it, correction-less, in a March 15 "Insider Report."

Now, Humes has penned his first Newsmax column since then, a May 15 piece on how George Washington was a cooler guy than Abraham Lincoln. While Humes references Obama's reverence for Lincoln, at no point does Humes apologizes for falsely smearing Obama over the purported Churchill quote, let alone offer any substantiation for even the walked-back claim that he heard it frequently repeated on talk radio.

You'd think that person who holds the titles of historian and scholar that he claims to have would care enough about factual accuracy to correct the record and apologize for repeating a false claim -- or would have refrained from reporting it in the first place without more solid documentation than the word of mysterious radio hosts. Humes, apparently, is not that kind of historian and scholar.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:34 AM EDT
Friday, May 15, 2009
Your WND Hate-Crimes Lie of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From a May 15 WorldNetDaily column by Robert Knight, the former director of the MRC's Culture & Media Institute who is now with Coral Ridge Ministries as "senior writer and Washington, D.C., correspondent":


Listen to Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., who read a list of paraphilias (unorthodox or perverse sexual urges) that will be covered under the "sexual orientation" portion of the [hate-crimes] bill:

"'The term sexual orientation,' this proposed amendment said, 'as used in this act, or any amendments made by this act, does not include apotemnophilia, asphyxophilia, autogynephilia, coprophilia, exhibitionism, fetishism, frotteurism, gerontosexuality, incest, kleptophilia, klismaphilia, necrophilia, partialism, pedophilia, sexual masochism, sexual sadism, telephone scatalogia, toucherism, transgenderism, transsexual, transvestite, transvestic fetishism, urophilia, voyeurism, or zoophilia.'"

Knight is lying. Hastings was not describing the "list of paraphilas ...  that will be covered under the "sexual orientation" portion of the bill. As Knight later suggests (but doesn't outright state), Hastings is reading a rejected amendment by  Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert that would have put that list into the bill as exemptions from protection.

Knight further lies by omission by not stating that the reason the amendment was rejected is because  the bill already has a specific definition of "sexual orientation," and none of those "paraphilias" falls under it.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:26 PM EDT
'The Axis of Liberal Media Bias'
Topic: Accuracy in Media

K. Daniel Glover has found the conspiracy!

In a May 13 Accuracy in Media blog post, Glover claims that "a Brigham Young University political scientist has confirmed that the axis of liberal media bias runs straight from lefty blogs into the mainstream press." How so? According to the BYU professor's survey of of "more than 200 journalists":

Despite equal awareness [of liberal and conservative bloggers], journalists spend more time reading posts in the liberal blogosphere.

For example, more journalists know about Michelle Malkin than Talking Points. Yet twice as many journalists actually read Talking Points than read Michelle Malkin.

Both Glover and the BYU professor appear to be erroneously assuming that Malkin and TPM are equivalent. Malkin's website is a blog written almost entirely by herself that is almost entirely opinion and not original, reported news. TPM, on the other hand, started as a blog but is now a full-blown news organization with several employees that regularly gathers and reports original news. In other words, there is more to read at TPM than there is at Malkin's website.

So, the conspiracy, the "axis of liberal bias," is that working journalists read more news websites than opinion blogs? We don't get it.

Nevertheless, Glover goes on: "Lefty bloggers and liberal journalists undoubtedly will dismiss the finding because it does not, and cannot, prove cause and effect. But the hostile online encounter I had recently with a former co-worker is all the proof I need." That co-worker complained about Obama-bashing, which Glover declared sounded like "something he might have read on a liberal blog -- the sweeping generalization about talk radio with no evidence to support it," as opposed to the "'Bush Derangement Syndrome' documented so thoroughly by Malkin, Charles Krauthammer and others."

Of course, there is ample evidence to support claims of Obama-bashing on right-wing talk radio -- Glover apparently doesn't want to admit it.

This is what Glover is hanging his conspiracy on. Sad, isn't it?


Posted by Terry K. at 12:49 PM EDT
Meanwhile, Over At HuffPo...
Topic: The ConWeb
We have a review of Mark Levin's new book, "Liberty and Tyranny," up at Huffington Post.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EDT
NewsBusters Hides Fox News' Deception
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters has joined Newsmax in hiding a blatant case of deception on the part of Fox News. A May 14 post by Noel Sheppard asserted that Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins "happened upon" Janeane Garofalo "at a Starbucks in Boston" and asked about her calling tea party protesters racists.

In fact, as the Washington Independent detailed, at no point did Jenkins give his name to Garofalo or identify himself as working for Fox News, which would seem to be a serious breach of journalistic ethics.

And Sheppard doesn't explain how following Garofalo around with a video camera and radio host in tow qualifies has having "happened upon" her at a Starbucks. Others might call that lying and stalking.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:47 AM EDT
WND's Rush: Sykes, Hilton are Obama 'Surrogates'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his May 14 WorldNetDaily column, Erik Rush called Wanda Sykes and Perez Hilton "surrogates" of President Obama who "instill fear into the collective American subconscious." Rush offered no evidence that Sykes and Hilton are working under the direct orders of Obama or are speaking for him -- the common definition of surrogate.

Rush goes on to lament: "Since Obama took office, any pretense of shame, propriety or decorum has gone out the window." So true, as Rush himself as demonstrated -- someone who calls Obama a prison rapist and his attorney general a piece of shit clearly has no pretense of shame, propriety or decorum.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:47 AM EDT
Thursday, May 14, 2009
At WND, Extremist Is Now A 'Nationalist'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

When the list of people banned from visiting Britain was released last week, we noted that trusted Aaron Klein source Mike Guzovsky, aka Yekutiel Ben Yaacov, was on the list. Richard Bartholomew went on to note that WND initially accepted the description of Guzovsky as a "Jewish extremist."

Not any more. The May 5 WND article to which Bartholomew links has been edited, and it now describes Guzovsky as a "Jewish nationalist" -- a description repeated in a May 13 WND article by Art Moore. WND has not indicated why it made the change, let alone inform readers that it was done in the first place.

Apparently, endorsing the killing of people you don't agree with -- the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and calling Baruch Goldstein a "hero" for massacring 29 Arabs is just "nationism" -- is just benign, patriotic "nationalism" in WND's eyes.

Does WND have the guts to publicly defend Guzovsky and his extremism and tell its readers the full truth about him? We doubt it -- Aaron Klein has already tried to whitewash his buddy's history.

This is just another reason why it's foolish to trust WND.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:38 AM EDT
CNS Misleads on Health Care Reform Criticism

As we've just detailed, has developed a disturbing habit of refusing to tell the whole story. Here's another example.

A May 13 CNS article by Matt Cover purports to cite criticisms by "Big Labor" -- that is, SEIU -- who "accuses the group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR) of 'swift-boating' President Obama’s health-care agenda in new ads which highlight what CPR says are the downsides of government involvement in health care." But Cover fails to explain the full nature of SEIU's criticisms.

Cover writes:

The union accused Scott and CPR of mischaracterizing the views of two doctors, Dr. Brian Day, president of the Canadian Medical Association, and British oncologist Dr. Karol Sikora. SEIU claims that neither man is opposed to universal health care, stating that CPR twisted the doctors’ words in its ad campaign.
“The advertisement further deceives viewers by blatantly misrepresenting the positions of two physicians,” the SEIU states in a letter to stations airing the ads. “While the advertisement paints both as opponents of any role for government in health care reform, in reality, just the opposite is true.”

But according to the SEIU action alert Cover is presumbaly citing, SEIU issued a more detailed criticism that Cover doesn't acknowledge:

The advertisement further deceives viewers by blatantly misrepresenting the positions of two physicians. While the advertisement paints both as opponents of any role for government in health care reform, in reality, just the opposite is true. Both physicians are in fact supporters of universal health care. What they are opposed to is the U.S.'two-tiered' system that already rations health care based on the ability to pay. In fact, Mr. Scott misrepresented Dr. Day's comments, and Dr. Day openly mocked the ineffectiveness of the U.S. health care system. What Dr. Day is opposed to is Canada's outdated funding model, not Canada's healthcare system. Dr. Day actually advocates reform of the funding structure to preserve Canada's healthcare system, not dismantle it.

Cover then allowed Scott to issue a parsed response:

But Scott said the Conservatives for Patients' Rights ad never suggested the doctors did oppose government health-care -- it portrayed the comments only as being those of British and Canadian doctors and patients discussing, in their own words, their experience with government-run health-care systems.

Scott said his ad does not oppose “any role for government,” but does say any proposed reform which would give government control over health care decisions– “the first step,” he said, “towards socialized medicine.”

Cover did the same thing with another SEIU claim:

The labor union also accuses CPR of “misleading” television viewers about a new federal council created as part of congressional Democrats’ $787 billion stimulus spending bill – the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.
“Mr. Scott makes a specific claim: ‘Not only could a government board deny your choice in doctors, but it can control life and death for some patients.’ This statement is demonstrably false,” the union said.

But the full claim reads:

Mr. Scott makes a specific claim: "not only could a government board deny your choice in doctors, but it can control life and death for some patients." This statement is demonstrably false. In reality, the powers of this so-called "government board" are clearly defined and cannot do what Mr. Scott claims. The statutory authority of the Council specifically excludes the power "to mandate coverage, reimbursement, or other policies for any public or private payer." It is worth noting that even under President Bush, the National Institute of Health already had an annual budget of $355 million to conduct precisely this type of research. Plainly, this has not led to the sort of catastrophic consequences in America that Mr. Scott warns against.

Cover allows Scott to give a similarly parsed response:

Scott, meanwhile, said his ad discusses the potential effects of the establishment of a government health board, saying the Comparative Effectiveness Council is “the first step in government health care” -- not that it would control health decisions.
Specifically, the ad states: “It’s (the Council is) not so innocent, it’s the first step in government control over your health-care choices,” Scott says in the ad. “Not only could a government board deny your choice in doctors, but it can control life and death for some patients.”

Nowhere do Cover or Scott acknowledge SEIU's claim that the health board is specifically barred from  mandating coverage or health decisions.

Meanwhile, Cover describes Scott as a "former Columbia/HCA Healthcare Association CEO" but failed to note that Scott was ousted from the company in 1997 over accuastions that Columbia/HCA overbilled state and federal health programs, for whcih t he company eventually paid a $1.7 billion fine. Cover alsofails to explain while SEIU referred to the ads by Scott's group as "swift-boating": it hired the same conservative PR firm that aided Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:23 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, May 14, 2009 9:28 AM EDT
New Article: Half-Stories and Non-Stories
If isn't trying to make an anti-Obama mountain out of a molehill of news, it's hiding the full story of how a terrorist plot was foiled and refusing to disclose its ties to a group agitating against Obama's planned appearance at Notre Dame. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:52 AM EDT

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