WorldNetDaily complains about being lumped in with providers of "fake news" -- even as it's serving up fake news to its readers. Read more >>
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
MRC's Bozell Trying to Make Political Hay Over Facebook's Fake-News Fight
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has long endeavored to make Facebook's fight against fake news a politically charged one, and is not interested at all in having an honest discussion about it.
So when Facebook announced it would be partnering with the Associated Press, Snopes, FactCheck.org, ABC News, and PolitiFact -- all signatories to Poynter’s International Fact Checking Code of Principles -- to target fake news, it worked to make that a partisan issue as well. MRC chief Brent Bozell's initial response to the Facebook announcement was relatively restrained, but he made his political point:
No mention of course, of how Bozell and his group of right-wingers apparently intimidated Facebook so much earlier this year in trying to capitalize on claims that Facebook's trending-news feed was alleggedly biased that it was afraid to make fixes to its news feed during the election that would have curbed fake news on Facebook lest Bozell's brigade use them as a political pinata again.
In other words, Bozell helped create the current fake-news problem, and he has yet to own up to it.
Nevertheless, this is most certainly not the last Bozell has to say on the issue. On Dec. 18, MSNBC's Joy Reid accused Bozell and other conservatives of "essentially sort of conceding the fact that a lot of the things that are put out on the right aren't real, but he wants them to be prominent in people's feeds."
It's an overstated claim but not inaccurate, given Bozell's fervent desire to politicize the issue. Still, the MRC freaked out anyway. Brad Wilmouth huffed: "Reid did not mention concerns by conservatives that Politifact and other third-party groups that would assist Facebook in its fact-checking have a substantial liberal bias, raising doubts about whether they could be trusted to fact-check evenhandedly between right-wing and left-wing news sources."
Then Bozell predictably chimed in, adding a graguitous side shot at former CNN president Jonathan Klein, who was a panelist on Reid's show:
I didn't essentially sort of concede diddly. I expressed that while 'fake news' does exist, and is a problem, and should be stopped, it is also true that there are those on the left politicizing the issue for partisan political gain, and when liberal outlets are assigned fact-checking oversight, that in itself becomes a new problem. I cannot think of a better example than the blather by Joy Reid on Sunday. Her statement was completely false. Should I call it 'fake news'? As for Jon Klein, who cares what he thinks? You can't fall lower than having the title 'former CNN.'
By the way, despite all of their whining, neither Bozell nor the MRC has definitively proven that any of the websites Facebook is using in its fake-news initiative are "liberal outlets." That's simply an extension of its war on facts driven by the need to cover up for Trump's constant lies.
(As part of that, the MRC's Tim Graham on Dec. 16 touted an attack on PolitiFact by right-winger Mollie Hemingway, which is little more than pedantic hair-splitting over Planned Parenthood and mammograms.)
Bozell then ran to the cozy confines of Fox Business to deny what he said earlier about fake news existing and being an actual problem:
The MRC cited as evidence an article from the Daily Caller, which got its traffic counts from Alexa -- considered to be a bit dubious -- and which apparently didn't factor traffic counts before the election and traffic referrals from Facebook.
Also, as we've noted, NewsBusters most certainly did push fake news during the election, in the form of the bogus Fox News story about Hillary Clinton's purportedly imminent indictment.
Bozell then invoked the dark specter of "ultra-liberal billionaire" George Soros and complained that it's the left, not him, that's politicizing the fake news issue:
The MRC never issued a full correction or apology for promoting the bogus Fox News story. Unless Bozell can fully come to terms with his own organization's role in pushing fake news for the benefit of Trump, he has no moral high ground he can occupy on this issue.
WND Repeats Botched Attacks on Media Matters
Let's see how much Bob Unruh gets wrong in just the first two paragraphs of his Dec. 6 WorldNetDaily article, shall we?
The first paragraph links as evidence to a 2013 WND article by Aaron Klein, who was attacking a Media Matters e-book debunking myths about Benghazi. Klein did indeed dispute theclaim that the talking points were "edited to preserve a criminal investigation," he does not prove it wrong -- he offered only contradictory speculation. Media Matters pointed that out again in an article critiquing Klein's own Benghazi book published in 2014.
Unruh's claim that Media Matters was "caught fabricating quotes to smear a Hillary Clinton critic" is itself a falsehood. He linked to a 2014 WND article noting a separate Media Matters critique of Klein's Benghazi book, taking issue with a statement that Klein "suggested that [former CIA deputy director Michael] Morell was ‘given’ his new job at the consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies (co-founded by Philippe Reines, a Clinton adviser), ‘in exchange for his silence in the talking points scandal.'” WND huffed in response: "Klein’s book never states Morell was 'given' his job, nor does the quote 'in exchange for his silence in the talking points scandal' appear anywhere in the book."
In fact, as we documented at the time, the following line appears on page 177 of Klein's "The Real Benghazi Story": "Morell later reemerged as a counselor to Beacon Global Strategies, a consult group particularly close to Hillary Clinton. Was Morell given this job in exchange for his silence in the talking points scandal?" Apparently WND didn't read the book it published.
The claim that Brock said Media Matters "admitted his nonprofit organization defended Clinton from political attack" is simply bad reporting. Unruh links to a June 2015 article by Cheryl Chumley making the claim.
But Chumley quotes Brock discussing how "our organizations ... have led the way in exposing the fraudulence of the Benghazi investigation itself." As he hinted at -- and which Chumley apparently didn't understand because she didn't look into the statement -- Brock runs a number of organizations, one of which is Correct the Record, whose pro-Hillary bent has been pronounced. It's also run separately from Media Matters and has a different tax status that permits increased political advocacy.
(We'd also add that Media Matters is "far-left" only in the eyes of far-righters like Unruh.)
After these two paragraphs of fake news, Unruh uniroinically complains that Media Matters is changing its focus to more closely examine fake news, going on to whine: "Media Matters’ idea of 'fake news,' however, is more along the lines of the Drudge Report; WND, the online news pioneer that is approaching its 20th anniversary; Breitbart; and other Internet media outlets that compete successfully with America’s establishment media."
Well, yes, because WND publishes so much of it. Remember when WND columnist Jack Cashill published a badly Photoshopped picture to back up his utterly false claim that a picture of a young Barack Obama and his grandparents was itself badly Photoshopped (except that the photo he claimed wasn't Photoshopped somehow contained Obama's knee)? Good times.
(Disclosure: I used to work for Media Matters.)
CNS' Mel Gibson Fanboy Strikes Again
CNSNews.com blogger Mark Judge has proven himself to be a serious Mel Gibson fanboy, promoting his new and planned film projects while remaining utterly silent about his ugly personal history of anti-Semitism and viciousness toward an ex-girlfriend.
Judge performs this feat again in a Dec. 12 CNS blog post touting how Gibson's new film "Hacksaw Ridge" was nominated for three Golden Globe awards. Judge obsequiously added: "Gibson won the Golden Globe for best director in 1995 for “Braveheart,” then went on that year to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director."
What he doesn't mention, of course, is that ugly past, even though "Hacksaw Ridge" is considered to be something of a comeback film for Gibson from all of that.
Monday, December 19, 2016
WND's Farah Complains Trump Critics Are Behaving Like He Did Against Obama
Joseph Farah rants in his Dec. 16 WorldNetDaily column:
Unprecedented? Has Farah forgotten his big lobbying effort in 2008 to try to get the Electoral College not to vote for Barack Obama, in which WND coordinated thte sending of more than 3,600 letters to electors begging them to excercise their "sworn duty" to find out whether Obama was born in the U.S.?
Farah unironically continues:
"Unproven, unsubstantiated, sourceless"? There's more proof of Russian meddling into the election process than there was that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery. (which, by the way, is even more "unproven, unsubstantiated, sourceless" because the Cold Case Posse is refusing to make all of its so-called evidence public.)
Undaunted, Farah keeps writing:
But isn't whipping up the opposition, trying to interfere with the peaceful transition of power and manufacturing "fake news" in the form of the birther conspiracy exactly what Farah and WND were trying to do this time eight years ago?
Farah concludes, again unironically:
Substitute Trump's name for Obama's, and Farah is talking about himself and his operation. Farah is on record as saying, "Obama has never been my president. I have steadfastly refused to acknowledge him as such. He is undeserving of the honorific. To this day, I am unconvinced he is even eligible for office."
And the end -- getting Obama out of office by hook or crook, by any means necessary -- has always justified the means for Farah and WND, which included likening him to Hitler and the Antichrist, telliing lie after lie about the president, and every other smear they could dream up, no matter that it destroyed what credibility WND had in the process.
Farah is effectively complaining that Trump's critics are acting like he does toward Obama. Such hypocrisy.
The MRC's Terminology Issues
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Brad Wilmouth has issues with terminology in the media.
In a Dec. 10 post, he complains that anti-abortion activists were accurately described as "anti-abortion":
Wilmouth doesn't explain why "anti-abortion" isn't an accurate description of activists who oppose abortion. He also doesn't explain why "pro-life" should be used in the media instead, even though it's a vague, fuzzy term that doesn't have that harsh "anti" phrase in it and is designed to make anti-abortion activists appear less strident
Two days later, Wilmouth was ranting about a different terminology issue:
But if Pruitt is denying the scientific consensus that climate change is real -- he co-wrote at National Review that the "debate is far from settled" -- doesn't that make him, in fact, a denier?
Also, Wilmouth provides no support for his claim that "denier" is a "liberal" invented term.
Wilmouth also rehashed his abortion terminology complaint from earlier, and he made it clear that his goal is not neutral terminology but terminology that skews to his side of the ledger:
In fact, "pro-abortion" is an inaccurate phrase because people who support abortion do not demand that every woman have one; they simply want to make the option available. Meanwhile, the ultimate goal of many "pro-life" activists is to outlaw abortion as much as possible, if not completely, which makes "anti-abortion" a very accurate term.
No, WND, Arpaio-Zullo Presser Did Not Vindicate Birthers
WorldNetDaily teased the Dec. 15 press conference by Joe Arpaio and Mike Zullo by rehashing a lot of the old, discredited birther hits. We got more of the same from the press conference itself -- not that WND will tell you that, of course.
Instead, Bob Unruh breathlessly wrote in a Dec. 15 WND article:
Well, no. As birther myth-buster Dr. Conspiracy explains:
In several instances, Zullo misrepresents the facts to make things sound suspicious, and as he has done in previous presentations, he carefully words things that technically say one thing, but leave the impression of something else. He says something extremely suspicious: that the Italian forensic laboratory claimed that if they had a larger sample size, the probability that Obama’s document is a forgery would increase, but of course that would only be true if there were consistency in the sample and variation from the Obama certificate, which one wouldn’t know without looking at the sample.
Dr. Conspiracy points out that Arpaio and Zullo have so far refused to make any of its supporting evidence for its current birther claim public beyond the video -- specifically, the analyses from Reed Hayes (who, as we've noted, is a handwriting expert, not a digital document expert) and the Italian forensic laboratory Forlabs. If Arpaio and Zullo are so certain their evidence is solid, why not make it public? Unruh doesn't bother to answer the question, nor did he note that Arpaio refused to take questions during the press conference.
Unruh also completely ignored how Zullo botched one key part of his evidence. We've noted that the purported anomalies in the PDF of the Obama birth certificate that Zullo, Corsi and others have pounced on are easily replicated by scanning the image into a Xerox Workcentre 7655 multifunction printer -- something WND has never told its readers about. Dr. Conspiracy notes that Zullo touched on that in his presentation: "Zullo goes to some lengths to emphasize that the Xerox machine which he admits replicates 'some' of the characteristics of the Obama PDF is irrelevant to this new analysis, but he fails to acknowledge that in previous presentations, he claimed that those same characteristics, now known as normal, were marks of forgery."
Zullo also doesn't explain how Obama's nefarious forces could have gotten Johanna Ah’nee's birth certificate to crib images from since, as Dr. Conspiracy notes, Ah'nee's certificate came to the posse through Corsi.
So Zullo still doesn't know what he's talking about -- which, as before, puts a cloud over his purported fundings. But Unruh is willing to overlook such things to keep the birther conspiracy alive (after months of silence for fear of hurting Donald Trump's presidential campaign).
As a bonus, WND is laughably promoting Corsi's "Where's the Birth Certificate" as being "vindicated" by Arpaio and Zullo (see image above). In fact, Corsi's book was written well before, and released about three weeks after, Obama released his long-form birth certificate that was the subject of the Arpaio-Zullo investigation; it contains no information about the long-form certificate. Thus, the findings -- even if they were legitimate -- cannot possibly vindicate anything in Corsi's book.
The image also insists that Corsi's book was a "No. 1 Bestseller," even though Obama's release of his birth certificate decimated sales of the book. WND does not explain when, and on what planet, Corsi's book was ever a "No. 1 Bestseller."
Sunday, December 18, 2016
MRC Rehashes Bogus 2012 Defense of Romney Donor
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's resident (and rather lame) New York Times-bashing attack dog, Clay Waters, strikes again in a Dec. 9 post, complaining that the Times treated Chuck Jones -- the head of the union at the Carrier plant in Indiana where Donald Trump is claiming he stopped jobs from being sent to Mexico -- too sympathetically after Trump unleashed a Twitter attack on Jones after he pointed out that Trump overstated the number of jobs he supposedly saved:
In fact, VanderSloot wasn't just a "private citizen" who had simply donated to Romney -- he was a national finance co-chairman for Romney's campaign. As far as VanderSloot being combative and litigious, Waters can ask Mother Jones about that; and at the time the statement was made, VanderSloot was known as an opponent of gay rights (though his views have apparently changed since, and he's being combative and ligitious toward anyone who claims he's anti-gay).
Also, the "litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement" quote comes from BuzzFeed, not the Obama campaign. So, no, Waters hasn't improved his research skills over the years.
Obama Derangement Syndrome Watch, Mychal Massie Edition
-- Mychal Massie, Dec. 12 WorldNetDaily column
Saturday, December 17, 2016
CNS' Trump Stenography Continues
CNSNews.com has made its journalistic stand clear: It will be a lapdog and stenographer for Donald Trump and his administration. Here's the latest examples of CNS' stenography for Trump and his supporters and spokespeople, where its reporters uncritically transcribe what they say and call it "news" or present their view as the only reasonable one:
CNS' Trump boosterism isn't limited to stenography. Barbara Hollingsworth managed to find the "Democrat Leader of Alabama Senate" who will vouch for attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions' lack of racism and conducted a lengthy interview with him.
So, yes, CNS is totally on the Trump bandwagon -- a position that works if CNS wants to portray itself as the inverted-pyramid division of a right-wing activist organization it actually is, but not as the independent journalisitic organization it wants people to think it is.
WND's Farah Still Sucking Up to Breitbart
WorldNetDaily is trying to make itself relevant again by clinging to the coattails of Breitbart, which has the right-wing website mojo WND abandoned years ago. WND editor Joseph Farah has already obsequiously defended Breitbart and publisher Steve Bannon over its inflammatory content.
Farah tries to glom onto Breitbart again in his Dec. 6 column about Kellogg's pulling its advertising from Breitbart:
Farah provides no evidence Kellogg's has ever advertised on WND, so he's giving up no advertising revenue by making his declaration. A good thing, since WND's finances are apparently in such dire straits that Farah had to beg for money from readers earlier this year.
Farah's column, though, seems to have resulted in what he was seeking: a favorable mention on Breitbart, which touts Farah's "generous endorsement of Breitbart’s #DumpKelloggs boycott." Nothing like free publicity, eh, Joe?
Friday, December 16, 2016
CNS Writer Keeps Up His Tim Tebow Obsession
The Media Research Center has a bit of a thing for largely failed pro athlete Tim Tebow (because he's overtly Christian, doncha know), touting his accomplishments however minor (His first at-bat in the minor leagues was a homer!) and making sure to keep mum about the fact that as a pro athlete, he's less than stellar (.194 batting average in the Arizona Fall League).
But since there's little going on in Tebow's present to write about these days, Michael Morris, the chief Tebow-touter at CNSNews.com, has decided to dip into a little Tebow nostalgia, reliving the one shining moment of Tebow's NFL career:
The fact that Morris had to go to the web adjunt of a syndicated daytime talk show hosted by Harry Connick Jr. for this tidbit shows just how obsessed he is with Tebow.
WND Freaking Out Over Lobbying of Presidential Electors (Like WND Did in 2008)
Bob Unruh intoned in a Dec. 12 WorldNetDaily article: "The resounding 306 electoral votes Donald Trump earned on Election Day and Hillary Clinton’s concession speech seem a distant memory now as the Democratic Party nominee, President Obama and others employ various measures to keep Trump out of the Oval Office or at least delegitimize his presidency." Among those "measures" is lobbying of the Electoral College to get Trump electors to change their votes.
Unruh doesn't mention that WND attempted to do that very thing in 2008 -- employing various measures to keep Obama out of the Oval Office or at least delegitimize his presidency. As we've documented, key among those was a "FedEx letter drive directed at individual electors" to get them to change their pro-Obama votes over birtherism. WND touted how it "was able to track down addresses for all 538 electors" so readers could pay WND money to spam them with bulk letters demanding that they change their vote.
WND editor Joseph Farah asserted in promoting this letter campaign (which grossed WND a tidy sum, which made it just as much a business venture as political statemenet) that "never before has there been serious concern about the eligibility of the winning candidate" and "If there is any doubt, electors have a sworn duty to find out."
Farah will never say such a thing now, of course. Unruh's article notes that 29 electors want to learn more "information on the allegations that Russia was working on behalf of Donald Trump."But instead of praising the electors' "sworn duty to find out" if the charges are true, he denounced electors who "reject the voters’ wishes" and repeated earlier attacks on the CIA findings.
Unruh even tried to blame the Democratic Party for reported death threats to electors, writing that "The Democratic campaign to refuse to recognize the 2016 election will of America has included threats to the electors." The WND article to which Unruh links to back up the charges does not claim that any Democrat, prominent or otherwise, issued a death threat or encouraged anyone else to do so.
WND's Garth Kant followed up by going into full freak-out mode in an article tagged "Hillary Junta" and headline "SHOCKING SCHEME TO STEAL THE PRESIDENCY":
Like his WND co-worker, Kant also failed to mention that his employer engaged in a similar scheme to steal the presidency in 2008. Still he uniroincally huffs:
You know, like WND did in 2008.
Kant followed up with an article cheering an "informal survey of voters in the Electoral College" showing they're unlikely to change votes. But wierdly, Kant doesn't mention the Russian hacking that may have gotten Trump elected -- the main concern electors have expressed.
Like Unruh, Kant claims without evidence that Democrats are "threatening" electors. And, again, he doesn't mention that his employer lobbied the Electoral College in 2008.
Newsmax Opposes Time Warner-AT&T Merger
Newsmax will oppose the proposed merger of Time Warner and AT&T. It broke that news in the strangest way -- not by reporting it directly but by quoting Fox Business quoting Newsmax's Christophery Ruddy talking about it. From a Dec. 7 Newsmax article by Greg Richter:
Richter (and Gasparino) also made sure to include Ruddy's connections to President-elect Donald Trump:
Gasparino noted that President-elect Donald Trump is opposed to the deal, and said Ruddy "has close ties with Trump. He was at Mar-a-Lago during Thanksgiving. He was asked by Donald Trump who he should pick for secretary of state
"This guy has Trump's ear, so he is going use that ear to try to kill this deal."
As befits a media mogul trying to stop a deal regarding one of his alleged competitors and with the president-elect's ear, Newsmax has been cranking out op-eds and articles attacking the deal:
But there's also a Dec. 12 Newsmax article that lists "several issues on which Democrats and Trump agree," one of which is "Preventing the merger of AT&T and Time Warner."
That means Ruddy and Newsmax are once again putting its conservative credentials in danger (as if being a buddy of Bill Clinton wasn't enough).
UPDATE: But then, this appears to be a play to get better and increased carriage of Newsmax TV. Earlier this year, Newsmax was embroiled in a dispute with Dish Network over placement of the channel there (which mainly came down to Newsmax wanting to stop paying Dish Network to air it). Newsmax promoted negative news about Dish Network during the dispute.
AT&T-owned DirecTV also dropped Newsmax TV in August -- which somehow didn't get mention in the above articles opposing the merger -- presumably because of a similar dispute over paying for carriage. It has since published negative news about DirecTV too.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
WND Defends Trump -- And Russia -- Over Hacking Allegations
WorldNetDaily has taken a shine to Russia's Vladimir Putin in recent years. One WND columnist defended Putin's prosecution of the punk band Pussy Riot and insisted that Putln is "simply a Russian nationalist, doing his best to strengthen his own country’s interests." And WND editor Joseph Farah effectively cheered Putin's aggressive military actions in Ukraine against Hillary clinton's criticism of it: "And is it wrong for a leader of a modern state to seek to restore greatness to his own country? ... Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if Hillary’s party took such an attitude toward their own country?"
So it seems WND's fealty toward Russia is based in part on reflexive liking of whatever Hillary criticizes. Which means it's not really a surprise that WND is taking Donald Trump's -- and Russia's -- side over allegations by the CIA and other intelligence experts that Russians meddled in the U.S. presidential election for the apparent purpose of helping Trump win.
WND kicked off defense mode with an article highlighting the Trump transition team "disputing the truthfulness" of the CIA report. Farah then throws the intelligence community under the bus -- despite the fact that he presumably relies on parts of that same intelligence community to feed him stuff for his G2 Bulletin (the front page of which currently says nothingabout the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election system).
Farah's Dec. 12 column is a list of "11 reasons not to trust Obama's CIA," all of which are personal attacks on CIA director John Brennan and none of which have anything to do witih what the CIA reported about Russia. One of those attacks is that "One of the FBI’s former top experts on Islam says Brennan converted to Islam years ago in Saudi Arabia." That ex-FBI guy is John Guandolo, who -- as we noted when WND first touted this claim in 2013 -- is a serial philanderer and adulterer who jeopardized a federal investigation by having sex with a witness and trying to get her to donate money to a right-wing "anti-terrorism" organization.Farah, of course, doesn't mention that Guandolo has no credibility, and Snopes points out the claim has never been substantiated.
Nevertheless, Farah rants about Brennan: "He’s a partisan. He’s either a clueless nutcase or just a very dangerous person to have leading agencies like Homeland Security and the CIA. Best case scenario: He’s a partisan hack. Worst case scenario: He’s an anti-American kook who has spilled more security secrets than Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen combined – maybe throw Julius and Ethel Rosenberg into the mix, too."
Farah followed up the next day with another list column, this one on "9 facts you should know about these 'Russian hacks'." This time Farah is mostly either making excuses for the Russians ("No one is alleging that the Russians hacked into election computers to change votes"; "America hacks other nations for its own purposes. ... All nations do") and actively praising them for their hacks ("this would be exposing the truth of something the Democrats were trying to hide"). He concludes by complaining, "Do you see why this whole imbroglio over Russian hacks is of less concern to me than what the hacks in the Democratic Party and establishment U.S. media are doing with it?"
In other words, Farah's OK with foreign interference in the U.S. election system because it benefited his candidate.
WND's Greg Corombos called on ostensible hawk Frank Gaffney to comment, and he suddenly stopped being a hawk because, as with Farah, the Russian hacks benefited his candidate:
Unlike Farah, though, Gaffney did concede that the situation needed to be investigated and admitted that "Putin is a dangerous adversary, not a man we can safely do business with."
WND columnist Michael Brown cheered the idea that people seem top trust Trump more than the CIA, declaring that "it’s easy to think that the information linked from unnamed CIA sources is unreliable." He added, "We also should bear in mind that the source for the Russian hacking claims is the liberal, mainstream media, which has also taken a big credibility hit in recent months."
Meanwhile, WND's whitewashing of the incident continued apace:
Yep -- it's clear the Russkies have a good friend in Joseph Farah and his WND.
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