The ConWeb's Big Prison Pork Freakout Topic: The ConWeb
When the Washington Post reported last week that the federal government had decided to stop serving pork to federal prison inmates, citing unpopularity and cost, it quoted Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations saying that the decision would prompt anti-Islam groups would spin the decision into a case of the federal government acting under pressure from Muslims, adding: “This is just the kind of thing that drives them crazy. ... It will stoke the fires of Islamophobia based on the usual conspiracy theories.”
Cue the ConWeb, which used the Post story to build their own articles, done in their own biased style.
Newsmax gave its story the full top-of-front-page treatment on Oct. 9:
The article, by Greg Richter, made sure to prominently mention CAIR.
CNSNews.com gave it a "CNSNews.com Staff" byline that also prominently featured CAIR, but took Hooper's comment out of context, claiming that he "warned that it might spark 'Islamophobia.'" Well, no, Hooper warned specifically that anti-Islam groups like CNS would do that.Curiously, CNS cited only the unpopularity angle, failing to mention the government's claim that pork was too pricey -- a strange omission given how close an eagle eye CNS normally keeps on government spending.
WorldNetDaily was a little late to the party, with an Oct. 13 article by Douglas Ernst (like fellow WNDer Cheryl Chumley, someone for whom the Washington Times apparently wasn't right-wing enough) going straight for the conspiratiorial angle:
The Obama administration wants Americans to believe federal prisoners are so unlike the rest of the world they even hate bacon.
The federal Bureau of Prisons is removing pork products from its menu. The decision will affect 200,000 inmates.
Ernst also made sure to mention CAIR but, like Newsmax, didn't mention Hooper's statement about the Islamophobia that would come from anti-Muslim groups over the decision -- you know, like WND.
The ConWeb's 'Porn Addiction' Defense for Josh Duggar Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb is seeking to absolve Josh Duggar of responsibility for his actions -- which include molesting his sisters and having an account at the affair-facilitating Ashley Madison website -- by promoting the right-wing idea that pornography is addictive, which is what Duggar himself blamed his behavior on (until he didn't).
In an Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily article, Greg Corombos interviews professional gay-basher Matt Barber, who gets space to blame Duggar's woes on porn, declaring it "a gateway drug that leads people to act on their fantasies." and insisting that the mere act of viewing pornography is adultery.
Because Barber is also an Obama-basher, he drags politics into the issue, lamenting that "The problem in this Obama administration is there is no one at the Department of Justice who has any interest in going after obscene material and going after these pornographers and so forth."
Meanwhile, an Aug. 27 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr claimed that "Addiction to pornography affects millions of men and women in the United States, and many of those people identify themselves as Christians, according to a 2014 survey produced by a Christian organization dedicated to fighting pornography and sexual addiction." But the survey never defines, medical-wise or otherwise, what it means by "addiction" (other than a question to respondents if they thought they were addicted to pornography "based on your understanding of an 'addiction'") and seems to suggest that its definition of an "addict" is someone who views pornography as infrequently as once a month.
Starr's article doesn't mention Duggar, but it's clear that the article was written in response to Duggar's situation, to which CNS has devoted no original coverage.
Meanwhile, actual experts in the field generally dismiss the idea that pornography can be an "addiction," at least as we understand how addictions work. The Huffington Post reports:
A large study from neuroscientists at UCLA found that when people are shown erotic images, the brain's normal addiction reactions are reversed.
In the brain, porn "addiction" looks the opposite of addictions like cocaine, smoking cigarettes and gambling -- and therefore should be treated with different therapies.
Typically, addicts show increased brain reactions to the object of addiction. However, the new findings, which were published this week in the journal Biological Psychology, showed that people who struggled with excessive pornography consumption had decreased brain reactions when viewing porn.
So if porn functions differently from other addictions, as the findings suggest, it would be logical for them to be treated differently.
"Some people clearly struggle to regulate their porn viewing habits, but it is important to know why," Dr. Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist at the university and the study's lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email. "Calling it an 'addiction' may be harming patients, so we should require healthcare workers to provide treatments supported by research."
What, actual research on the subject? The ConWeb won't cotton to that.
But articles avoid the idea that Duggar may not actually be "addicted" to porn after all, despite what he sorta claims. As Bill Maher suggested, maybe he's "just horny" and isn't "cut out to be married."
The ConWeb won't buy that either -- not as long as it needs to get prominent Christians off the hook for their sex-fueled behavior by blaming it on a mythical "addiction."
NEW ARTICLE -- 2014 Slanties: 11 Years A Slantie Topic: The ConWeb
The war of ConWeb aggression has continued unabated. It's time to once again honor the biased and bizarre from the past year. Read more >>
NEW ARTICLE: Begging Off A Benghazi Bungle Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb promoted the "60 Minutes" story on Benghazi. After its implosion, they try to spin the issue -- or, in the case of the Media Research Center, ignore it entirely. Read more>>
ConWeb's Climate Change Deniers Get It Wrong on Arctic Ice Topic: The ConWeb
Reports of increased Arctic Sea ice brought out the usual climate change deniers in the ConWeb to trumpet the news:
NewsBusters serial misinformer Tom Blumer touted "the cold, hard fact of growing Arctic ice cover, as well as its possible implications," as reported by British newspapers like the Daily Mail, adding: "As is all too often the case, in certain matters affecting things here in the United States, if we didn't have news from Britain, we wouldn't have any real news at all."
Newsmax's Melanie Batley similarly promoted how "An unusually cold Arctic summer has resulted in almost a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice compared to the same time last year, bucking predictions that global warming would result in the disappearance of the ice cap by 2013." She also cited the Daily Mail.
But as Media Matters documents, Arctic ice was at a record low last year, so a large percentarge increase of the kind conservative outlets are reporting is not unexpected, and the recent historical trend shows that Arctic ice is in decline and this year's numbers still fall short of the average over the past 30 years. Neither Blumer nor Batley mentioned the historical trend.
Further, Blumer might want to widen his British newspaper reading horizons to include the Guardian, which points out that "When it comes to climate science reporting, the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph are only reliable in the sense that you can rely on them to usually get the science wrong." The Guardian adds: "Every year when the weather acts to preserve more ice than the previous year, we can rely on climate contrarians to claim that Arctic sea ice is 'rebounding' or 'recovering' and there's nothing to worry about."
CNSNews.com's Barbara Hollingsworth -- who we last saw at the Washington Examiner promoting bogus statistics about tea party rally attendance -- devoted a Sept. 13 article to attacking Al Gore for repeating a prediction that Arctic ice could disappear by this year, repeating claims that there is "a 60 percent increase in the polar ice sheet. "Hollingsworth made no mention of the Guardian's statement that given the historical trend, "an ice-free Arctic appears to be not a question of if, but when."
What The ConWeb Ignores About Fired Newspaper Editorial Writer Topic: The ConWeb
Drew Johnson -- the Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial writer who was fired after publishing an Obama-bashing editorial headlined "Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President" -- has been making the tour of the right-wing media, where his unsubstantiated claim that political pressure caused his firing have found a receptive audience. WorldNetDaily and Newsmax have uncritically repeated Johnson's claims, and even the Daily Caller's Jeff Poor (a former Media Research Center staffer) has given Johnson a pass. The result: creation of the impression that Johnson is a victim of the "liberal media."
But these ConWeb sources have all failed to report a couple of pertinent facts that back up the Times Free Press' claim that Johnson was fired for violating newspaper policy, not because of politics.
First, the Times Free Press is one of the very few newspapers, if not the only one, that runs two separate editorial pages each day -- the liberal-leaning Times page and the conservative-leaning Free Press page. That's a legacy from when there were two separate newspapers in Chattanooga. Johnson was editor of the conservative page, and his departure does not mean any diminishing, let alone the end, of conservative opinion in the Chattanooga newspaper.
Second, the ConWeb has been utterly loath to mention who owns the Chattanooga paper. It's WEHCO Media, which also owns the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The head of WEHCO is Walter Hussman Jr., who made his biggest splash in the newspaper industry in the 1980s by engaging in a newspaper war in Little Rock, ultimately defeating and merging with his own newspaper the rival paper owned by deep-pocketted giant Gannett. It was under Hussman that the two newspapers in Chattanooga -- the Free Press and the Times, the latter formerly owned by the Ochs family of New York Times fame -- were combined and allowed to keep their separate editorial pages.
As the Arkansas Times points out, "Hussman's sympathies — indeed much of his game plan for his own newspaper building strategies came from the former Free Press owner — are not generally with those of the New York Times." Indeed, the Democrat-Gazette's editorial page is headed by Paul Greenberg, a conservative who's perhaps most notorious for his Clinton-bashing during the 1990s.The American Journalism Review has reported that Hussman says the best part of his day is "proofing the paper's stridently conservative editorial page."
It's lazy and dishonest for the ConWeb to shove Johnson's firing into its tired "liberal media" narrative. A conservative-leaning newspaper owner, after all, doesn't fit their agenda.
(Disclosure: I'm a former employee of the Democrat-Gazette.)
NEW ARTICLE: Getting Schooled On Context Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb takes President Obama's remarks on religious schools in Northern Ireland out of context -- and they find themselves getting called on it by an unlikely critic. Read more >>
ConWeb Takes Gay Marriage Decisions Poorly, As Expected Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb reacted to the Supreme Court decisions overturning the Defense of Marriage Act dismissing a challenge to the overturning of California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 pretty much the way you'd expect.
Accuracy in Media chairman Don Irvine tweeted, "The country just went to hell in a handbasket.'
Purportedly objective CNSNews.com reporter Penny Starr ranted: "Sad day for our nation -- already on the path to a fallen civilization. If Obama gets another left-wing SCOTUS judge America is doomed."
WorldNetDaily responded with a heavily biased article by Bob Unruh, with the demeaning headline "Black robes 'delegitimize' Supreme Court," that quotes a plethora of anti-gay activists lamenting the decisions.It's not until the final four paragraphs of his 39-paragraph article that Unruh bothers to quote anyone expressing support for the decision.
In fact, there was no real effort at making a constitutional case against a duly enacted piece of legislation, passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support and signed by a Democratic Party president, Bill Clinton.
What actually happened at the Supreme Court was that five justices decided – and wrote in their opinion – that anyone who opposes same-sex marriage does so for no other reason than bigotry against homosexuals.
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
The Supreme Court virtually declared an open season on those with whom the 5-4 majority disagree.
We are no longer relevant. What we think no longer counts. We are, after all, bigots who only want to demean homosexuals.
But Farah is a bigot who demeans homosexuals (except for that one he hired to cheerlead for the Iraq War). Remember his paranoid rant about "the forced homosexualization of America" that came in response to a critic who called him out on WND's dishonest reporting on LGBT-related bills in California?
Farah appears to be demonstrating one again that there's no reasoning with a person who thinks anyone who issues a legitimate criticism of his and WND is out to get him.
The ConWeb Ignores, Buries Rand Paul's Flip-Flop on Civil Rights Act Topic: The ConWeb
During an April 10 speech at Howard University, a historically black school, Republican Sen. Rand Paul said that he has "never wavered" in his "support of civil rights or the Civil Rights Act." Which is simply not true. Paul has argued that the public acommodations clause of the Civil Rights Act shouldn't apply to private businesses -- in other words, he thinks that business should be able to discriminate by race.
But the ConWeb really doesn't want you to know about any of that.
A Newsmax article by Todd Beamon highlighted Paul statement on the Civil Rights Act, obliquely following that by noting, "He added that he did 'question some of the ramifications' of the act on business."
By contrast, a CNSNews.com article by Melanie Hunter made no mention whatsoever of Paul's statement or the fact that it contradicts his previous stance.
A WorldNetDaily article by Taylor Rose mentioned Paul's contradiction, but only in the final paragraph of his 24-paragraph article. For some reason, Rose devoted part of his article to Peter Brimelow, "financial journalist, author and founder of the immigration restrictionist website VDARE," calling Paul's outreach a waste of time because "Republicans will cut the programs so many blacks [and other minorities] are dependent on."
Rose's description of Brimelow's VDARE as "immigration restrictionist" is misleading -- in fact, it's basically a white supremacist website. The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that VDARE "regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites."
ConWeb Latches Onto Misleading Claim About MSNBC Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb readily embraced a too-good-to-check statistic from a Pew Research Center study of the media: that 85 percent of MSNBC's airtime is devoted to "opinion."
WorldNetDaily's Drew Zahn dishonestly rounded up the number to "nearly 90 percent" -- of course, it's equally near to 80 percent, but Zahn clearly didn't want to go there. Newsmax's Bill Hoffmann asserted, "If you’re looking for straight and unbiased news reporting, you may want to avoid MSNBC."
And the number was practically made for the Media Research Center, and indeed, Brent Bozell issued a snotty press release on the subject:
“Pick any Orwellian nickname you want: the Ministry of Truth, the Department of Agitation and Propaganda, but don’t dare call MSNBC a news organization. No legitimate news outlet spends 85% of its airtime pushing leftist commentary. Pravda would be proud.
“Both CNN and Fox News have close to a 50/50 news/commentary split. We have said time and time again that MSNBC in not a news network. Their absurd 15/85 split is a vindication of every single criticism we’ve leveled against them.
“MSNBC is a deeply unserious organization and should never have been placed under the ‘news’category on any cable system’s guide. They’ve Lean[ed] Forward right off the cliff of credibility. What a farce.”
Since that number was too good to check, the ConWeb couldn't be bothered to do one simple thing: find out how Pew made this determination. Salon's Alex Pareene did:
That’s a bit of a misuse of the word “opinion,” which does not, in this case, refer to liberal punditry, but rather to all interviews and other segments that involve people talking instead of live reports or reported “packages.” That kind of programming is common because it’s cheap, and MSNBC and Fox do not actually pay many people to do “reporting” — they are cable “talking about the news” channels, basically. But don’t assume reported pieces are intrinsically superior to commentary. Some of that “opinion” programming is informative and useful in a way that live shots of, say, poop boats are decidedly not. And some of that programming is “Morning Joe,” the talking head equivalent of a poop boat.
It also overlooks the fact that, even though Pew gives Fox News credit for 45 percent of its content being "factual reporting," that does not equal unbiased reporting. Fox's ostensible "news" anchors are prone to spoutingbiasedopinions, and it has a historyofshortchanging the Obama administration on airtime.
But thte ConWeb doesn't care about facts, not when it has an official-sounding number.
NEW ARTICLE -- Out There, Exhibit 57: The Jefferson Freakouts Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb just can't deal with the idea that Thomas Jefferson may have fathered a child with one of his slaves. Plus: WorldNetDaily's Ellis Washington embraces a discredited book about Jefferson. Read more >>
NEW ARTICLE -- 2013 Slanties: Oppa Slantie Style Topic: The ConWeb
Biased reporting, wild claims, bizarre conspiracy theories -- it must be time to review the year in the ConWeb. Hey, sexy lady, let's do this! Read more >>
Anti-Muslim Activist Victimizes Blogger With DMCA Complaint Topic: The ConWeb
Richard Bartholomew -- a friend of ConWebWatch who writes the excellent Bartholomew's Notes on Religion blog -- had a run-in with British anti-Muslim activist Charlie Flowers, and it temporarilly shut down his blog.
Bartholomew had written a blog about Flowers in which he quoted comments Flowers made on his Facebook page. In retaliation, Flowers contacted Bartholomew's U.S.-based hosting company and filed a complaint under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The host shut down Bartholomew's site, restoring it only after Bartholomew deleted the offending Flowers post. Bartholomew declined to file a counterclaim because it would make his home address available to Flowers, who has clearly demonstrated himself to be vindictive.
Bartholomew correctly points out, "The notion that someone should be able forbid any quotation of their words is manifestly absurd, and if applied generally would make any kind of journalism impossible."
What Would A ConWeb Writer Have to Do to Get Fired? Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb was, unsurprisingly, incredibly happy that Yahoo Washington bureau chief David Chalian was fired from his job for being caught on a hot mic saing that Mitt Romney was "happy to have a party with black people drowning." For example:
NewsBusters' Matt Sheffield, who broke the story (but originally falsely identified Chalian's voice as that of an ABC News employee) declared that Chalian's remark was "the perfect example of the pervasive anti-Republican bias Mitt Romney faces in his bid to unseat President Barack Obama." Sheffield later touted Chalian's firing, then bashed NPR's Gwen Ifill for defending him.
WorldNetDaily columnist Diana West called Chalian's remark "a race-bait too far."
The thing is, though: Such firings for making outrageous remarks very rarely happen in the ConWeb, where writers are simply not held to the same standards as those in the so-called "mainstream media." The most outrageous remarks and unprofessional journalistic behavior have not only gone unpunished but have been rewarded in some cases.
In 2009, CNSNews.com reporter Penny Starr called Harry Reid a baby-killer by likening him to King Herod. She's still employed as a reporter.
In 2005, WND was forced to retract a story by Aaron Klein that falsely smeared the charity group Islamic Relief by claiming it is linked to terrorism and accusing it of making a fraudulent appeal for money for orphans that don't exist. Not only is Klein still employed by WND, he now hosts a talk show on a New York radio station.
in 2009, WorldNetDaily's Erik Rush likened President Obama to a cellblock rapist. Not only does WND still publish his columns, Rush was named "Vice President of Administration and Strategic Alliances" for Pink Pagoda Girls USA, a group that claims to be "involved in rescuing baby girls in the People’s Republic of China from infanticide as a result of that nation’s 'one child per family' policy."
In 2011, WorldNetDaily executive news editor Joe Kovacs utterly botched a story by claiming that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan's name came up "at least nine times on [Supreme Court] dockets involving Obama eligibility issues" stemming from her connection as Obama's former solicitor general. In fact, none of those docket items has anything to do with "eligibility issues." Kovacs remains employed at WND, still dutifully transcribing pearls of wisdom from his idol, Rush Limbaugh.
In 2006, NewsBusters blogger Dan Riehl led a personal attack on a Democratic campaign tracker who was the target of Virginia Senate candidate George Allen's notorious "macaca" remark, falsely accusing him of making racial slurs. Riehl remained a regular blogger at NewsBusters for the next year and a half; he later became a regular blogger at Breitbart.com. Earlier this year, he hurled sexually explicit tweets at Salon editor Joan Walsh, which has not affected his blogging status at Breitbart.
In 2001, WND published a column by Anthony LoBaido in which he blamed America for the 9/11 attacks: "All that is evil in the world can be found in New York: MTV, the United Nations, the U.N. abortion programs, the Council on Foreign Relations, New Age Church of St. John the Divine, WallStreet greed, Madison Avenue manipulation and of course more confirmed AIDS cases than the rest of America combined. Let's remember the filthy sodomite gay parade last summer in New York." WND editor Joseph Farah defended LoBaido's right to say what he did, and WND has continued to publish him ever since. (That column, though, was mysteriously deleted without explanation.)
The only direct dismissal for a beyond-the-pale statement we can recall in our 12-plus years of monitoring the ConWeb is Newsmax columnist John L. Perry, who was dropped after a 2009 column in which he rooted for a military coup to resolve the "Obama problem."
For anyone in the ConWeb to chortle over Chalian's dismissal is utterly hypocritical, since none of these right-wing "news" organizations holds their employees to the same standards.
UPDATE: Remember, the head of the MRC, Brent Bozell, has set the extremist bar pretty high by calling Obama a "skinny ghetto crackhead." If nobody at the MRC was outraged by that, it's no wonder that Penny Starr is feeling a lot of job security.