MRC Debunked By ... MRC Topic: Media Research Center
Sometimes the Media Research Center's right hand doesn't know what its ... er, other right hand is doing.
A Sept. 10 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan complained that a CNN "poll on President Obama’s health care speech to Congress on Wednesday significantly oversampled Democrats." Balan later appended a statement from MRC chief Brent Bozell:
CNN has no business airing a ‘poll’ that is straight partisan reaction from those already in the can for ObamaCare. Caveat or no caveat, CNN was dead wrong to run this and on national television proclaim, ‘We have important numbers here.’ It is an embarrassment that their news directors deemed it newsworthy to begin with. This network simply cannot be trusted to cover this hugely important story fairly.
But Balan and Bozell overlooked on crucial aspect of the poll -- it sampled only people who viewed Obama's speech. Balan did note that a CNN article "didn’t mention the over-representation of Democrats until the third paragraph," which stated that the poll "surveyed the opinions of people who watched Wednesday night's speech, and does not reflect the views of all Americans."But Balan didn't note this until the 10th and final paragraph of his original post.
It fell on another MRC division to prove Balan and Bozell wrong. A Sept. 11 CNSNews.com article by Pete Winn not only accurately describes the poll's methodology but does so by quoting a conservative pollster, Kellyanne Conway:
But Conway, who has questioned the validity of numerous polls in the past for being slanted against conservatives, said it would be wrong to question the validity of this CNN poll.
“This is a poll of debate-watchers – not the general population,” the pollster said.
In fact, polls like this one are not designed to sample what the American public at large thinks – they are “a random-call measure of who the audience really was – and what those specific people thought,” she told CNSNews.com.
“To their (CNN’s) enormous credit, they reported it that way,” Conway told CNSNews.com.
“They did not say ‘2 out of 3 Americans now support the president on health-care reform,” Conway said. “What (CNN) said, from the beginning, was ‘2 out of 3 Americans who watched the speech said . . .’”
In this case, she said, Wednesday night’s poll talked to more Democrats simply because Obama’s audience itself leaned overwhelmingly Democratic.
In fact, CNN “went the extra mile” to make it clear that the number of those who identified themselves as Democrats was “8 to 10 percentage points higher than the national Democratic sample would be if this were a survey of voters,” Conway said.
“I can bet the farm, there will be pundits and programs and hosts, who will say, ‘According to the CNN poll, the president has really gotten back on track. Two-thirds of Americans now support his health-care. . .’ No-no. They would be misreading the poll and using the poll for their own purposes.
“But in fairness, CNN did not report it that way,” she added.
Winn even quoted a CNN spokesperson to back it up:
“We can’t control who watched the speech, but we found those people using scientific methods,” a CNN executive, who asked not to be identified, said.
The number of Republicans versus Democrats in the sample will vary depending on which party is in office, the spokesman said.
“It goes back and forth, and back and forth depending on which party controls the White House, but we’ve seen this for a really long time,” the spoksman added.
“In 2005, just after the 2005 State of the Union speech, for example, 52 percent of our sample were Republicans – that’s about 16 points higher than the whole public at that time -- and only 25 percent of the speech-watchers were Democrats, and that’s about 7 points under what you might have expected at that time if you had done a sample of the whole population.”
The analogy is to baseball, according to CNN.
“The audience (for a presidential speech) tends to self-select, like a Yankee audience and a Red Sox audience,” the spokesman said. “Red Sox fans don’t watch Yankee games and Yankee fans don’t watch Red Sox games.”
Winn gets extra points for accurately identifying Conway as a conservative pollster, something CNS has failed to do in the past. But he loses points for writing that "some conservatives in Washington were buzzing about the poll’s sample – and questioning whether it might have been partisan or slanted" and not noting that one of those conservatives was his boss.
So, will Winn's story spread across the rest of the MRC empire, or do Balan and Bozell care more about maintaining their fictional liberal-media-bias tunnel vision than they do about the truth?
CNS Flip-Flops on Immigrants and Health Care Reform Topic: CNSNews.com
Is CNSNews.com flip-flopping in its attacks on President Obama over illegal immigrants and health care reform?
In a Sept. 9 article, Fred Lucas claimed that Obama's claim that illegal immigrants will not be covered by health care reform has been "debunked" because "the proposal provides no mechanism for verifying legal status, making it difficult for insurers and medical personal to know who legally qualifies for federal subsidies under the plan."
But a Sept. 10 CNS article by Terry Jeffrey devises an entirely new rationale of why Obama's claim is false:
It is true that both the House and Senate health care bills as they are now drafted would make illegal aliens ineligible for federally funded health care. But President Obama has stated as recently as last month at a press conference in Mexico that he will seek “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation that will put illegal aliens on a “pathway to citizenship.”
Illegal immigrants won’t get federal health insurance benefits under Obama’s plan because they won’t be illegal immigrants anymore, they will be legal immigrants.
Jeffrey has a history of baselessly conflating comprehensive immigration reform with undefined "amnesty."
Jeffrey curiously makes no mention of his reporter's claims just the day before. Perhaps that's because the claim is not as solid as Lucas asserts it to be.
PolitiFact.com looked into the claim that lack of a verification mechanism means that illiegal immigrants will automatically receive health insurance under reform:
But there are two caveats that keep the Republican assertion from being fully accurate.
The first is if the tax credits are administered through the Internal Revenue Service, there would be built-in scrutiny. For instance, if a system were set up for taxpayers to declare insurance expenses and then receive a refund or a rebate, illegal immigrants couldn't obtain coverage, "because illegal immigrants do not have legitimate Social Security numbers," said Marc Rosenblum, a senior policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, a group that is generally pro-immigration. "Screening out illegal immigrants through the tax system would prevent them from obtaining health care-related subsidies."
The second caveat is that language in the House bill does provide clear authority for the new government official who will run the exchange to set up that verification, as the CRS report notes.
Rosenblum concurs. "The Commissioner could enforce these restrictions in one of two ways: through document- and database-based screening requirements as in the Medicaid system, or by reimbursing health care expenses through tax refunds," he said.
Because the House Republican Conference assertion referred to "any" of the Democratic bills, we also looked through the bill reported by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The bill is generally more vague on these issues, but we did find the following passage, which seems to grant similar authority as the House bill passage cited earlier.
"The Secretary (of Health and Human Services), in consultation with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, shall develop interoperable, secure, scalable, and reusable standards and protocols that facilitate enrollment of individuals in Federal and State health and human services programs. ... The Secretary shall facilitate enrollment of individuals in programs ... through methods which shall include (i) electronic matching against existing Federal and State data to serve as evidence of eligibility and digital documentation in lieu of paper-based documentation; (ii) capability for individuals to apply, recertify, and manage eligibility information online, including conducting real-time queries against databases for existing eligibility prior to submitting applications; and (iii) other functionalities necessary to provide eligible individuals with a streamlined enrollment process."
So let's recap. There is explicit language in the House bill that says illegal immigrants should not receive the subsidized benefits. But we find the Republican conference is right that the legislation does not directly mention verification procedures and, for that reason, it's possible that illegal immigrants who are determined to beat the system might be able to get around the ban. But it's likely that the IRS would, at least indirectly, help to police that. And, the health choices commissioner would have the authority to set up a verification system. On balance, we rate the Republican claim Half True.
CNS does not mention that there are verification measures already existing in federal law that health care reform can take advantage of, or that one reform proposal does in fact provide for a verification system.
Walsh kicks off by attacking changes in immigration law in the 1960s, complaining that they "reflected Democrat support for quotas favoring Third World nations, a broadened amnesty concept, and creation of a family unity provision to bring in the old folks, once the young folks get situated." What Walsh doesn't say, of course, is that the immigration law it replaced -- and, presumably, to which Walsh would like to return -- was largely motivated by racism and eugenics.
Walsh then engages in a bizarre smear of those immigrants from "Third World nations":
Family unity remains a tenet of immigration advocates. Many immigrants, including those from China and Hispanic nations, respect and revere their elderly. Traces of ancestor worship still permeate many of the world’s cultures. For example, a recent issue of Architectural Digest featured a home in China with a floor plan designating a separate suite for “the grandparents.”
Walsh again plays fast and loose with the number of alleged illegal immigrants, claiming that there are "12 million to 36 million illegal aliens currently residing in the United States. Splitting the difference, 24 million illegal aliens could be an acceptable number for calculations." But has we've previously noted, most official estimates are around the low end of that spectrum, and Walsh offers no source for his "36 million" estimate.
He also again misleadingly claims that "45 million to 50 million 'Americans' lack proper health insurance. A guestimate is that half the uninsured are non-citizens." But even conservatives who consider that estimate to be inaccurate, like CNSNews.com, claim that the number includes "9.73 million foreigners" -- which includes people here illegally.
Obama's Uncontroversial Speech Doesn't Stop the Crazy Train Topic: The ConWeb
President Obama's speech is over, nothing controversial was in it, but the ConWeb crazytrain rolls on.
Brent Bozell's Sept. 8 column, appearing after the speech, condemned Obama's speech because, well, it was Obama:
Why is this controversial? What is more American than having her president addressing the young? Reagan did it. So did Bush. The problem is Obama and his administration. There is – always is – a political agenda.
The mission was not to educate, it was to indoctrinate.
Bozell went on to conflate criticism of the overreaction of right-wingers like him to Obama's speech to attacks on all criticism of Obama, then denounced the very idea of public education: "It’s not insane to wonder why our schools should be directed by the government to discuss how the Dear Leader is inspiring the young, and how the Dear Leader can be helped."
A Sept. 11 WorldNetDaily column by Dan L. White similarly attacks the idea of public education, claiming that it allows the governmnet to "control the minds of its citizens and thereby centralize power. And that's how Obama was able to give his speech to millions of captive young minds, subservient to the socialist institution, ready to be led by the master – because of the centralized school system." As if homeschooling -- the "decentralized, individualized and maximized" ideal White presents -- isn't about a similar attempt control the minds of children, this time by parents.
Meanwhile, the ConWeb sought to find partisan intent in Obama's speech where there wasn't any. A Sept. 8 WND article was headlined, "Prez injects politics into school speech," but the article pointed out that Obama "stayed carefully in the encouraging mode during the broadcast portion of the speech" but brought up health care reform in "a conversation with students." WND's headline writer is apparently unclear on the difference between a speech and a conversation.
A Sept. 9 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr similarly tried to find something wrong with this, expressing alarm that Obama "made a pitch for health care reform in a discussion with 40 freshmen." It wasn't until the 14th paragraph that Starr got around to mentioning that "Obama omitted any discussion of health care" during the broadcast speech.
In his Sept. 10 WorldNetDaily column, Bob Just writes that "Too many Americans have forgotten America. And so we must stand and remind them." He then adds: "They don't think 'under God' belongs in our Pledge and don't care what history says on the matter."
Well, history says that when Francis Bellamy, a "Christian socialist," wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892, "under God" did not appear; the words were added by an act of Congress in 1954.
We care what history says on this matter. Does Bob Just?
Defying Boycott, MRC Advertises At WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
The Media Research Center has been, as far as we can tell, completely silent on conservative efforts to boycott WorldNetDaily by protesting those conservative groups who enable it through advertising or renting its mailing list. Perhaps that's because it's one of those enablers.
The MRC is currently running ads at WND. This screenshot is from earlier today:
Will the MRC explain to its readers and supporters why it's financially supporting WND in the face of a conservative boycott?
UPDATE: The MRC apparently bought the whole WND ad package. Here's an inline text ad:
We've regularlynoted the guilt-by-association attacks by WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein to draw links, however tangental, between the Obama administration and various and sundry "socialists" and "radicals." He actually cashed in with his attacks on Van Jones -- but only after Glenn Beck started repeating them.
Klein gives it another shot in a Sept. 8 WND article trying to create a grand unification guilt-by-association theory:
Was Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama's closest advisers, introduced to the president's political circles by her father-in-law, a communist sympathizer who worked with the radical Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis?
Kind of a reach there, Aaron. Do you really despise Obama that much?
A Sept. 10 Newsmax article by Rick Pedraza uncriticially repeats Karl Rove's assertion that President Obama made "glaring misstatements and distortions" during his speech to Congress on health care. In fact, Rove made several misstatements and distortions, which Pedraza failed to point out.
“Obama said people are concerned with setting up death panels to kill off senior citizens, but that’s not what they’re concerned about,” Rove told Fox News. “They’re concerned about the proposal that basically says we’re going to incentivize doctors to sit down with [a patient] and go over end-of-life decisions.”
In fact, as Media Matters has detailed, numerous conservative figures falsely suggested that Obama's health reforms would lead to denial of care for elderly.
Rove doesn’t believe the president when he promises the American people that no one will force anyone to give up their coverage.
“The fact of the matter is the proposal –– which was designed in the House of Representatives –– says if you’re a business you can either continue to provide health care to your employees or you can pay a fine equal to 8.5 percent of your payroll costs. Those companies now are paying for healthcare coverage in excess of 8.5 percent. So, they pay the fine, dump the coverage, and you’re in the government program.”
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office found that the House draft will would cover 2 million more Americans through employer based policies in 2019 than are covered now.
Rove disagrees with Obama when he says his plan will not add to the deficit, but notes the Congressional Budget Office has determined it will add to the deficit in the first 10 years.
But Obama didn't say "his plan will not add to the deficit" -- he said he would not sign a bill that added to the deficit.
CNS Still Whitewashing Lewin Group Topic: CNSNews.com
A Sept. 9 CNSNews.com article by Fred Lucas asserting that several claims President Obama has made about health care reform "have been refuted by non-partisan sources" references a study by "the Lewin Group, a private health care analysis firm claiming that "119.1 million Americans would leave private plans for the public option."
In fact, as we've noted, the Lewin Group is somehwat less than nonpartisan -- it's owned by a health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, which has a stake in not wanting people to switch from private insurance.
A Sept. 10 article by Susan Jones reported that "he Peter G. Peterson Foundation released a study which found that in its second decade, H.R. 3200 would increase federal deficits by more than $1 trillion," but made no mention whatsoever that the study was conducted by the Lewin Group.
Farah Lies About Himself, WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
It's almost cute how WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah will tell the most obvious lies about himself and WND.
He does so again in his Sept. 9 column. After baselessly claiming that "much of the criticism of WND over the last 12 years has been motivated by jealousy," he then asserts, "They don't understand what it is we do. So let me try to explain it":
Unlike any of them, I have been a newsman my entire life. I have never run a "conservative" organization. I don't consider myself a "conservative." I don't consider myself a "political activist." I don't consider myself a "community organizer." I don't consider myself a "Republican." I don't take instruction from any one. I don't have any sacred cows. I am a newsman – as I was for the last 30 years, running daily newspapers in major markets before launching WND in 1997.
Let's break that down, shall we?
1) Farah himself said a month ago he stopped being a "newsman" to become "an activist, a crusader" on the Obama birth certificate issue. Of course, Farah has been an activist and crusader -- not a journalist -- for a long time now.
2) Farah has many sacred cows. His current chief sacred cow is Orly Taitz.
3) Who one considers himself to be does not necessarily mesh with who one actually is. Farah can deny he's a "conservative" and "political activist" all he wants, but that's exactly what he is (though Farah's politics are more accurately described as far right than conservative).
4) You mean the Western Journalism Center -- co-founded by Farah specifically to attack President Clinton and currently serving as an anti-Obama group under Floyd Brown -- is not a "conservative" organization?
Farah knows exactly who he is and what WND is. That he will so blatantly lie to his readers -- in the face of the contradictory evidence surrounding him that is in plain sight for everyone to see -- tells us more about Farah's dishonest, amoral character.
Kincaid: Van Jones 'Bigger Than Watergate' Topic: Accuracy in Media
Cliff Kincaid writes on the Van Jones kerfuffle in his Sept. 8 Accuracy in Media column:
Remember what they asked during the Watergate scandal: What did the President know, and when did he know it? This is a scandal much bigger than Watergate. There are Marxists in the White House.
Really, Cliff? Some obscure White House official holding views Kincaid disagrees with is worse than agents of the president committing a crime against political enemies and the president himself authorizing a cover-up of said crime? Really?
WND Demands Right to Rebuttal -- Which It Rarely Allows In Its Own Reporting Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has been up in arms about reporting critical of WND -- for instance, a report on "The Rachel Maddow Show" -- because WND was not given an opportunity by them to rebut the claims. This showed up on WND's front page over the weekend:
Meanwhile, my colleagues in the news media are having a field day with the story of those attacking WND. They interview all kinds of experts on the subject, but don't bother to ask me about it.
Watch Rachel Maddow at MSNBC for a classic example of this kind of "journalistic responsibility" in action.
Even when WND is the story, no one asks us to respond or debate.
At least Van Jones was given the opportunity to respond to charges that he promoted "conspiracy tales" – not WND, not me!
But not permitting targets to rebut charges appears to be WND's editorial policy.
For instance, a Sept. 8 WND article on Rifqa Bary -- the teenager who fled to a Christian pastor after claiming that her Muslim parents were planning tokill her for converting to Christianity -- is filled with quotes by supporters of Bary accusing her parents of abuse, such as anti-Muslim writers Pam Geller and Robert Spencdr, but no attempt is indicated that WND contacted Bary's parents or their attorney for their side of the story.
Another Sept. 8 article repeating various revisionist prophecy claims by WND author Joel Richardson -- such as that thebiblical Antichrist is the Muslim Madhi -- are not rebutted by anyone with differing views.
Even the article that precipitated some of this new scrutiny of WND-- in which Jerome Corsi suggests that a plan to establish emergency centers for civilians on military bases is just like "concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany"-- no one is given an opportunity to rebut the smear. Indeed, as we noted, even though the sponsor of the bill that would establish those centers, Rep. Alcee Hastings, issued a press release several daysbefore the article's publication outlining his rationale for it, Corsi did not quote it and instead attempted to smear Hastings.
Why should anyone do for Farah and WND what they will not do for the people they reports on?
Posted by Terry K.
at 11:10 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 9, 2009 11:18 AM EDT
Farah Blocked From Birther Speech at CPAC Topic: WorldNetDaily
Jon Henke at the Next Right -- who has called for a boycott of conservative groups that enable WorldNetDaily -- reports that according to an organizer for the annual CPAC conference of conservatives, WND founder Joseph Farah "asked if he could speak on the issue (birther movement), but that isn't something we're interested in."