NewsBusters Complains CNN Cites Liberal Group's Numbers -- But Doesn't Challenge Them Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 3 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan complains that CNN's Rick Sanchez "cited the National Priorities Project’s figures" on the amount of money the U.S. has spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, "but did not mention their left-wing ideology."
But Balan did not challenge the National Priorities Project’s figures. So if its numbers are accurate -- as Balan suggests by his silence on the issue -- why does the group's political leanings matter?
WND Solicits for Legal Defense Fund -- But Won't Come Clean About Book Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 3 WorldNetDaily article by David Kupelian is a solicitation for WND's legal defense fund regarding claims over its CAIR-bashing "Muslim Mafia" book. But Kupelian has not been forthcoming about it, which should give pause to any potential donor.
"Muslim Mafia" is built around interns working undercover and CAIR and stealing documents. Kupelian writes:
Although CAIR contends Chris Gaubatz stole the documents, WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah has previously explained in a letter to Congress that the CAIR material was legally obtained by the young investigator, who had been asked by CAIR officials "to shred documents he believed might be criminal evidence … and involve matters of national security."
"On advice from counsel, he collected those documents and preserved them. None of the documents were 'stolen,'" Farah said. "They were, in fact, handed to him by CAIR employees for destruction. All of the documents are available for review by appropriate law-enforcement authorities and, in fact, some have already been provided to them."
Farah concluded by saying Gaubatz's "patriotic activities within CAIR, an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator, were done on advice of counsel at every step, and were in accordance with District of Columbia and Virginia state law."
But WND thus far has not named the attorneys who advised it regarding "Muslim Mafia,' nor has it publicly detailed the legal precedents upon which WND's claim that the documents are not stolen rests.
There are other things going on behind the scenes as well that Kupelian has thus far failed to disclose. A Nov. 2 WND article by Art Moore reveals that another organization funded the "research" that resulted in "Muslim Mafia":
[Co-author] Dave Gaubatz told WND the "research project pertaining to CAIR was conducted in a professional and legal manner."
He said it was "funded by a high profile U.S. organization with very close ties to senior law enforcement and U.S. government officials."
Gaubatz said he cannot name the group now, but noted it is not SANE, the Society of Americans for National Existence, as widely believed.
"This organization is very professional, and every step of the research was coordinated with their legal team and senior personnel," he said. "From the very onset of the research, our researchers observed intelligence in CAIR documents which appeared to be national security concerns."
Moore, bizarrely, doesn't ask his boss, Joseph Farah, about this mysterious funder, even though he, as the publisher of the book, must know who it is. Such is the self-serving nature of reporting on yourself. Moore also doesn't admit the obvious: This is all a promotional strategy for the book.
There's another hole in the case that's not being publicly addressed. Moore writes:
CAIR claims that as "David Marshall," Chris Gaubatz signed a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement in which he agreed he would not divulge to others any trade secrets, confidential information or other proprietary data. Politico reported, however, CAIR officials say they can't find the agreement Gaubatz allegedly signed.
But at no point has Chris Gaubatz denied signing a confidentiality agreement. And given the clandestine nature of the operation, one can easily speculate that Gaubatz, in his document-stealing frenzy, made the confidentiality agreement he signed disappear somehow. Moore curiously didn't pursue that.
People should refrain from donating to WND's legal defense fund until they know who funded the undercover operation that resulted in the book -- and whether they will be contributing to legal defense efforts as well.
They should also refrain from donating until they are aware of all the facts in the case. Precedent calls for such prudence.
WND similarly solicited legal defense donations regarding the libel lawsuit filed against it by Clark Jones, a Tennessee car dealer and supporter of Al Gore, regarding articles WND published before the 2000 presidential election that made claims about him he asserted were false. WND fought the lawsuit for seven years, even though -- as we detailed -- WND made no effort to fact-check the articles before publishing them. (They were written by outside writers, not WND employees, and were purchased from the authors for publication.)
Then, shortly before the case was to go to trial in March 2008, WND abruptly settled the lawsuit, in part by admitting that "no witness verifies the truth of what the witnesses are reported by authors to have stated. Additionally, no document has been discovered that provides any verification that the statements written were true." WND also stated: "Discovery has also revealed that the sources named in the publications have stated under oath that statements attributed to them in the articles were either not made by them, were misquoted by the authors, were misconstrued, or the statements were taken out of context."
WND admitted publishing false claims about Jones, something it could have avoided by fact-checking before publication instead of years after the fact. This means WND has a history of failing to perform due diligence, resulting in serious financial and reputational costs to the organization.
WND has never provided a public explanation of why it fought Jones' lawsuit for seven years -- using defense fund money to do so -- when it knew or should have known he was right all along.
Such lack of accountability should be a red flag to any potential contributor to WND's legal defense fund.
Mychal Massie's Nov. 3 WorldNetDaily column is one long, hateful, thesaurus-looting screed against President Obama, set off by his midnight visit to Dover Air Force Base to honor fallen troops returning from Afghanistan. Massie is too hateful to see it that way:
Offended and outraged by his display, I wanted to tell him that while America's enemies may view him as pusillanimous or as the equivalent of that which a jester's liripipes factually represent (i.e., two ears and a tail) – I viewed him as a cheap pettifogger who feigns qualities that conceal his true incertitude. I wanted to tell him that he was reducing the office, which should have been his ne plus ultra for good – to a sinister darkness that rivaled Erebus himself.
"Erebusic" is one of Massie's favorite five-dollar words. He later uses the word "contumacious."
Massie also claimed that "Other presidents have performed said act in private without cameras and/or reporters," which is not true, since the previous president did not go to Dover.
Massie's sputtering rage is so great that he resorts to one of his employer's favorite smears, linking Obama to the Antichrist:
I would also remind him that there is "One" greater than he and the agenda he shares in compliance with his handlers. And the faith of us believers persuades us that he is but the penultimate ephemera preparatory to the zeitgeist that must exist prior to the unveiling of the ultimate evil. In the final analysis, he is potentially the next to the end before that which our Scriptures call the Tribulation Period begins – either way, as an ephemera he is a matter of no lasting significance.
Too bad Massie is too busy thumbing through his thesaurus to make his anger coherent.
Newsmax Goes Back to the Vadum Well Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax teed up its election coverage of the New Jersey governor's race -- as it did during the Minnesota Senate recount -- by having Matthew Vadum make vague, baseless accusations. From a Nov. 3 article by David Patten:
"There has been a reported surge in absentee balloting, which might be suspicious but isn't necessarily proof of anything," Vadum tells Newsmax.
"There has been a reported surge in absentee balloting, which might be suspicious but isn't necessarily proof of anything," Vadum tells Newsmax.
Vadum and his Capital Research Center have a long record of making false and misleading attacks.But they're misleading falsehoods that favor Newsmax's bias, so that appears to be OK with Patten.
Meanwhile... Topic: Washington Examiner
Media Matters catches the Washington Examiner embracing misleading math in attacking the amount of money spent per job created under the stimulus package. The Examiner's claim of $230,000 spent per job saved or created ignores the value of the work produced and other ancillary jobs created as a result.
Newsmax Kills Pat Boone's 'Tenting' Column; Will WND? Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax has now completely removed Pat Boone's "tenting" column, in which he called for, "figuratively, but in a very real way," a fumigation, or "tenting," of the "varmints" in the Obama White House. This comes after Newsmax took the half-measure of removing links to the column from its website but keeping the column itself live. Newsmax has thus far not explained to its readers why it deleted Boone's column, which it similarly failed to do regarding the John L. Perry column advocating a military coup against Obama.
Meanwhile, Boone's column is still alive and kicking at WorldNetDaily. But given that WND writers have repeatedly likened President Obama to both Nazis and the Antichrist (and even defends such smears) -- not to mention restored an attack by Ann Coulter on Helen Thomas that Coulter's syndicators edited out -- Joseph Farah and Co. likely see nothing wrong with Boone's eliminationist rhetoric.
Perhaps Farah might want to explain why he allows Boone's column to remain on his website when his fellow right-wingers have determined it to be too offensive.
UPDATE: Media Matters has a copy of the now-deleted Boone column from Newsmax.
CNS Auditioning Another Dubious Story Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com is auditioninganother story: the idea that requiring Americans to have health insurance is unconstitutional.
A Nov. 2 CNS article features an interview by CNS editor in chief Terry Jeffrey of Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who asserts that such a provision is not "constitutionally justifiable." Another Nov. 2 article, by Fred Lucas attacked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for having "dismissed concerns that the Constitution does not give the federal government the power to force individuals to purchase items the government wants them to purchase."
While the Lucas article notes that the Congressional Research Service " did not arrive at a definitive answer" on the issue, completely missing from these articles is the view of legal experts who aren't conservative -- or, more to the point, legal experts who disagree with CNS' predetermined conclusion.
As Media Matters notes, University of California-Irvine law professor Erwin Chemerinsky stated, "Under an unbroken line of precedents stretching back 70 years, Congress has the power to regulate activities that, taken cumulatively, have a substantial effect on interstate commerce." And Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar and Fordham Law School dean William Treanor debunked conservatives' argument that the individual mandate could be considered a "taking" in violation of the Fifth Amendment.
Farah Downplays Swine Flu, Fearmongers About Vaccine Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah spends his Nov. 2 WorldNetDaily column alternately downplaying fears about H1N1 flu and spreading fears about the H1N1 vaccine. Farah begins with the downplaying:
U.S. deaths have surpassed 1,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Nearly 5,000 have died worldwide, according to WHO.
That sounds bad.
But is it worth the hysteria?
What is it about these deaths that have government health bureaucracies apoplectic?
Is it time for a little context?
What happens when we turn to the same sources to compare deaths due to swine flu with other leading causes of preventable deaths?
Worldwide, nearly 3,000 people die from malaria every day.
Worldwide, nearly 6,000 people die from AIDS every day.
Farah doesn't acknowledge the main differences: Unlike malaria, swine flu is not confined to Third World countries, and AIDS, unlike swine flu, is not an airborne disease.
Farah then writes that "malaria could be eradicated much easier and more economically. But the most effective weapon in the arsenal against malaria, DDT, has been banned in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world, even though it saved the lives of tens of millions, because of pseudo-scientific hysteria about alleged, unproven environmental effects."
In fact, contrary to Farah's claims that DDT's effects on the environment are "unproven," it has been found to cause cancer, endocrine disruption and adversely affect the immune system (though some studies claim otherwise).
Now, on to the fearmongering:
While no one disputes DDT's absolute effectiveness against malaria, there are no studies that prove the H1N1 vaccine actually prevents swine flu. In addition, many doctors consider it to be dangerous because it contains aluminum, a toxic metal, thimerosal, a mercury toxin and is believed to contain a squalene product that can injure the immune system.
In other words, the swine flu vaccine may not prevent people from getting the swine flu and it may well cause other problems more serious than the swine flu. The cure could well be worse than the disease.
Since 2001, no new vaccine licensed by FDA for use in children has contained thimerosal as a preservative and all vaccines routinely recommended by CDC for children under six years of age have been thimerosal-free, or contain only trace amounts, except for some formulations of influenza vaccine. Unfortunately, we have not seen reductions in the numbers of children identified with autism indicating that the cause of autism is not related to a single exposure such as thimerosal.
But that's not good enough for Farah:
I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to make medical decisions.
I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to make rational public health decisions.
I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to play doctor or, worse yet, play God.
I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to make decisions that affect the lives and the health of my loved ones.
Does Farah think he's more trustworthy than the government on life-and-death decisions? Given WND's fearmongering about swine flu vaccine, we'll take our chances elsewhere.
Hostetter Misleads on Self-Identifying Conservatives Topic: Newsmax
In a column published Oct. 28 at Newsmax and Oct. 30 at Accuracy in Media, Ralph Hostetter writes: "With conservatives at 40 percent and moderates at 36 percent, slightly more than three-quarters of the nation in total identify themselves as an electorate that has made a major move to the right, leaving liberals at 20 percent of the voting public."
But as we've previously noted, research also shows that a significant number of people who self-identify as "conservatives" don't necessarily hold conservative beliefs.
The headline of a Nov. 1 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein promises a lot: "Surprise! Guess who visited White House," with the subhead, "Lots of infamous names on logs, Obama in full-court denial mode."
But Klein's article is much tamer -- so much so it barely registers as news. Klein's big scoop is that "Malik Zulu Shabazz, national chairman of the radical New Black Panther Party, refused to confirm or deny to WND whether he visited the White House since President Obama took office, despite his name appearing on a recent administration disclosure." Klein's statement that the White House has noted that Shabazz and other infamous names on the list "were 'false positives' – names that make you think of a well-known person, but are actually someone else" is quite old news, having been released by the White House on Oct. 30.
A statement of fact is not a "full-court denial," something Klein and WND do not seem to understand. And the White House claim is entirely plausible given that, as ABC's Jake Tapper notes, ther are 59 listings for Malik Shabazz at whitepages.com. Klein curiously fails to mention that.
That's it for actual news in this article; Klein pads out his article with recycled attacks on Shabazz.
Experts come in, actually envelope the whole dwelling in a giant tent — and send a very powerful fumigant, lethal to the varmints and unwelcome creatures, into every nook and cranny of the house. Done thoroughly, every last destructive insect or rodent is sent to varmint hell. In a day or two, the grand house is habitable again.
I believe — figuratively, but in a very real way — We need to tent the White House!
For reasons only the current occupant can explain, he purposely has brought a whole flock of social and political voracious varmints with him into our White House. He doesn’t own it; he hasn’t even rented it; we the people simply have given him the keys and invited him to live there for four years, making it convenient to serve us better, to carry out our expressed wishes for our country.
To the dismay of millions of us, this occupant seems to think we need an emperor.
Our White House is being eaten away, from within. We urgently need to throw a “tent” of public remonstration and outcry over that hallowed abode, to cause them to quake and hunker down inside. And then treat the invaders, the alien rodents, to massive voter gas — the most lethal antidote to would-be tyrants and usurpers.
We must clean house — starting with our own White House.
WorldNetDaily has also published Boone's column. But WND doesn't care about truth, and hateful anti-Obama rhetoric is rife. But Newsmax actually showed some responsibility by removing Perry's column (though not to the point where it apologized to its readers for publishing it in the first place).
Will Newsmax show the same quasi-responsibility here by curbing Boone's eliminationist rhetoric?
UPDATE: Newsmax appears to have placed Boone's column in some sort of weird stealth mode -- the column is still live, but it's been removed from Boone's column archive.
Kessler Ignores Facts to Defend Fox News Topic: Newsmax
Ronald Kessler uses his Oct. 28 Newsmax column to defend Fox News from criticism by the Obama administration, claiming: "If Obama and his aides actually watched Fox, they would see that its news coverage — as opposed to its commentary programs — really is fair and balanced."
If Kessler actually watched Fox, he would know that it most definitely is not "fair and balanced." Nor Kessler explain how reciting Republican talking points, which Fox is pronetodo, is "fair and balanced."
Kessler also asserts: "The press ganged up on the Bush administration, but Bush never tried to isolate a news outlet." Well, actually, yes, it did, as did other prominent Republicans during the Bush administration.
Kessler also throws in some non-Fox News-related misinformation, claiming that "Obama and the Democrats have entirely shut out the Republican leadership from participation in drafting healthcare legislation that will affect one-sixth of the economy." That's not true either.
MRC Suddenly Unconcerned About Journalists at Partisan Political Events Topic: Media Research Center
In a Oct. 30 MRC TimesWatch item (and Nov. 1 NewsBusters post), Clay Waters defends John Stossel's speaking at an upcoming "tea party" event in Arkansas because ... a New York Times reporter attended a pro-choice march 20 years ago.
No, really. After writing that a Times article "suggested that Stossel’s scheduled appearance in front of a conservative group is a rare foray of a journalist into a partisan political event that vindicates the White House’s attacks on Fox News," Waters brought up "Former Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who marched in a pro-choice rally in April 1989."
Of course, the situation is not analogous; Greenhouse merely attended a political event, while Stossel is speaking at one.
Doesn't it demonstrate the weakness of Waters' argument that he has to go back all the way to 1989 to find something to bolster it? And isn't telling that the MRC, which criticized Greenhouse's behavior in 1989, is now seeking to justify Stossel's behavior?
WND Hides Details on Fetal-Cell Skin Cream Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 28 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn regurgitates a press release by the anti-abortion group Children of God for Life claiming that a company's anti-aging skin creams "were developed from the tissues of an aborted baby." But Zahn makes no effort to go beyond the press release's claims beyond attempting to contact the company making the cream. If he had, he would have learned there's much more to the story.
For instance, there's no mention of the original journal report on the Swiss-based research that apparently led to creation of the cream (a link to which Children of God for Life includes in its press release). That report, from the journal Experimental Gerontology, describes fetal cells as having "a high potential for the treatment of acute and chronic wounds of the skin in humans," with a specific focus on leg ulcers. CoGfL does not state a position on fetal cell-based treatments used to heal chronic skin wounds.
Since CoGfL and WND didn't see fit to quote the journal report, there's no mention of the fact that not only does the report state that the fetal sample was obtained "with informed and written consent and approval from the local Medical School Ethics Committee, the report has a section that discusses the "Ethical aspects of working with human fetal cells":
Although there is a high medical support for developing cellular based therapies to reach as many patients as possible, there exists a governing political controversy. Scientists and medical doctors have used fetal tissue since the 1930’s as a means to understand cell biology and as an essential tool in the development of vaccines. The 1954 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to immunologists who developed the polio vaccine using cultures of human fetal kidney cells. The drastic change in the political environment changed in 1988 when scientists began using fresh fetal tissue and cells for transplantation into patients with Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, the Reagan administration (US government) declared a moratorium on all federal funding for fetal tissue research. Advances for fetal cell research were then left only to the ‘‘private sector” where there is no medical peer-review of adapted therapies. Indeed, if research on whole-cell bio-processing of many fetal tissues could have continued, there certainly would have been advances in the amount of tissue necessary for developing efﬁcient therapies (such as with fetal skin where only one organ donation is necessary to allow for cellular expansion to develop over 900 million fetal skin constructs). In Switzerland and most countries, the fetal skin is considered as an organ donation by law. This process is highly regulated including federal approval for tissue biopsy, stocking and transplantation and ethics committee approval of the procedure and all information for the donor.
Further, neither CoGfL nore Zahn explain that Neocutis, the company selling the cream, is a miniscule player; Zahn hints at it by stating the company has "estimated annual sales of in excess of $2 million." In a beauty-products industry with more than $20 billion in sales, that's barely a ripple.
And as one review of the company notes (and the company's website confirms), Neocutis products are available only through a physician, so it's not like one can run down to Macy's and pick up a tube. The review also points out that Neocutis was "founded in 2003 as a spin off from the medical school of the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland," and the company's focus is "wound healing, dermatology and skin care."
So, far from CoGfL's claim that the Neocutis is motivated by "pure vanity," the requirement of going through a physician to obtain the products indicates that Neocutis has other things on its mind. Too bad CoGfL and Zahn couldn't be bothered to mention that.
(Thanks to an alert ConWebWatch reader for the heads-up.)
Joseph Farah's Oct. 31 WorldNetDaily column is another whine-fest about how the rest of the media is being mean to WND over the birther issue, and this time he's issuing threats:
I believe I have been far too kind to my colleagues in the rest of the media.
I have been playing Mr. Nice Guy.
Well, Mr. Nice Guy has been around this business for 30 years and knows where a lot of bodies are buried.
And if I have to redirect some of my attention toward reporting on the media, I will do it.
Consider that a warning.
Consider this a shot across the bow.
Uh, when has Farah ever been nice?
Well, to people who hold his same far-right views, sure -- see WND's Orly Taitz protection racket. But this is a man who condones the murder of adulterers and advocates censorship through the return of the Hollywood blacklist. As we've detailed, Farah in 2004 described John Kerry as "a privileged rich boy," "traitorous," "rotten to the core," and, of course, "truly dangerous ... truly contemptuous ... truly egomaniacal ... truly without character ... truly transparent as a political huckster and charlatan." Oh, and he called an Obama White House adviser "toga head."
This is "Mr. Nice Guy"?
What set Farah off this time was Bill O'Reilly talking about birthers:
There was pompous old Bill O'Reilly again this week attacking one of his favorite targets – "birthers."
He had two guests on with him – neither one cognizant of the facts surrounding the Barack Obama eligibility questions. Both of them happily nodded in agreement to most of the tripe emanating from O'Reilly's big, ill-informed mouth.
Night after night, show after show, network after network this goes on.
This is journalism?
Whatever happened to "fair and balanced"?
Whatever happened to getting other points of view?
Whatever happened to the idea of interviewing those with whom you disagree?
Whatever happened to the notion of representing honestly the opinions of others?
I'm getting flat-out sick of it.
Really? If so, Farah might want to keep his reporters and columnists (and himself) from engaging in those very same behaviors. As we've detailed, WND's articles are not "fair and balanced," and its reporters frequently do not gather other points of view. Nor does it honestly represent the opinions of others, as, John Holdren and Chai Feldblum, among others, know all too well.
Needless to say, a few paragraphs after he whines about "representing honestly the opinions of others," Farah misrepresents facts, complaining that "Not one of these cable networks, let alone the Associated Press, New York Times, Los Angeles Times or the major networks, has reported the significance of the fact that Michelle Obama admitted her mother-in-law gave birth out of wedlock." But that's not what she did -- An Oct. 27 WND article by Aaron Klein dug up a quote of Michelle Obama saying "during a July 2008 round table at the University of Missouri" that Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, "was very young and very single when she had him." That's not the admission Obama was born "out of wedlock" Farah portrays it as or even "contradicted previous claims President Obama made about the circumstances of his birth,": as Klein writes, since it could also describe that Dunham was estranged from her husband at the time. Farah and Klein have simply chosen to interpret it that way.
Farah seems to be oblivious to the fact that petulant screeds like this and sloppy, biased reporting -- on top of Farah's inability to handle criticism -- are precisely the reason why WND isn't treated with respect, nor does he seem to realize that there are other reasons as well, such as repeatedly reportingliesasfact.
Then again, maybe Farah does know this, and refuses to acknowledge it publicly for fear of becoming even more discredited. Either way, it's not a way to earn the respect he so desperately craves.