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.
ConWeb Ignores Reality on Firing Back At Aurora Shooter Topic: The ConWeb
Various ConWeb outlets have been pushing the idea that had someone with a gun been in the audience at the Aurora, Colo., theater where James Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and wounded dozens, they could have stopped Holmes before the carnage became too much:
A WorldNetDaily article by Chelsea Schilling highlights how the company that operates the theater where Holmes allegedly carried out his massacre bans all handguns. She quotes Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert as saying, “Well it does make me wonder, you know with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying that could’ve stopped this guy more quickly?”
Lowell Ponte wrote in a July 19 Newsmax column: "What the mainstream media will not speculate about is that this shooter could have been stopped immediately if most law-abiding Colorado citizens in that movie theater had themselves been armed."
Ron Meyer wrote in a July 21 CNSNews.com blog post (boldface is his): I cannot help but think, if one person in that audience was carrying a gun with them, that person could have saved lives. Unfortunately - despite what some of the Left have said - this tragedy is an example of the importance of our Second Amendment Rights."
All of these people are ignoring the reality of the circumstances of the Aurora shooting. As Slate's David Weigel details:
[Holmes] wore a bulletproof vest, helmet, and gask mask, and entered a movie theater that was playing The Dark Knight Rises—so the room was dark and loud. He tossed a "gas canister" that went off and would have obscured the vision of anyone looking back at him.
You've got dark, panic, an enclosed space, and some kind of painful gas. No one's in any position to get the jump on the shooter. No one has a place to hide from him—he has a perfect vantage point of every seat. And he's wearing protective gear.
So, I think the answer for Gohmert is: No. No one was in an ideal position to pull a Dirty Harry on the man shooting at him/her in a panicked theater.
Any chance the ConWeb will acknowledge these factors in calling for wider firearms availability in theaters? Probably not.
Flashback: When John Derbyshire Advocated Killing Chelsea Clinton Topic: The ConWeb
John Derbyshire's column in which he recommended that parents tell their children to be wary of black people -- which has been universally denounced and resulted in his firing from National Review -- is hardly the first time he's gotten in trouble for his writing.
In 2001, we reported on Derbyshire's National Review column in which he argued that Chelsea Clinton should be killed to remove "the taint" of her father. He later insisted that his column was "partly tongue in cheek."
ConWeb Is OK With Making Fun of Michelle Obama's Looks Topic: The ConWeb
For all the conservative whining about liberal incivility (see Sheppard, Noel), they certainly feel no need to keep their own incivility in check (see Bozell, Brent). Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner's comments about Michelle Obama's "large posterior" set off a whole new round of it on the ConWeb.
Accuracy in Media's Don Irvine tweeted in Sensenbrenner's defense: "Butt she does."
In a later tweet, he linked to a video of the song "Baby Got Back," adding, "All this talk about Michelle Obama's rear has me thinking of this."
NewsBusters, meanwhile, seems a bit put out that it's considered rude to make fun of another's supposed looks. In a Dec. 22 "open thread" post headlined "No Joking About Michelle's 'Posterior,'" the anonymous writer mused, "Would these sites be this solicitious of the FLOTUS when she belongs to the Other Party?" If so, would NewsBusters be as blase about it as it is about Obama's looks?
And then there's Mychal Massie, best known these days for frothing at the mouth over Michelle Obama, a.k.a. "Buttzilla." Massie ranted in twitterese: "cngrsman is spot on moose-chelle does have fat arse she shud keep it in mind whn she tells us wat 2 eat."
Massie followed that up with: "spkg of flotus buttzilla's tractor butt I'm tired of my tax$$ paying $15K a day 2 her makeup person i wud feel same even if makeup helped."
Something tells us that Massie is a lonely single man -- we can't imagine any woman putting up with such misogyny.
NEW ARTICLE: A Hard Right Turn Topic: The ConWeb
Tim Groseclose's methodology, which paints pretty much every media out as liberal, is still as flawed as it was six years ago. But now, he's written about book about it -- and the ConWeb loves it. Read more >>
Flashback: How The ConWeb Covered 9/11 Topic: The ConWeb
How did the ConWeb initially react to the events of Sept. 11, 2001? Pretty much the way you'd expect them too. Let's take a look back:
The bodies weren't even cold yet before WorldNetDaily and Newsmax were finding ways to blame President Clinton. WND found a convenient anonymous source to blame Clinton (thus demonstrating that Aaron Klein, while Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy attacked "the ever clever bastard" Clinton for seeking to "destroy America's intelligence agencies," like WND citing an anonymous source as backup. Accuracy in Media, meanwhile, used 9/11 to peddle its conspiracy theory regarding the crash fo TWA Flight 800.
Newsmax was particularly offended that President Bush's actions might be implicated as a cause of 9/11. One article ranted: "How depraved can the liberal media be? How despicable? How utterly anti-American?" Then-Newsmax columnist Dan Frisa called the New York Times "despicable traitors" for suggesting such a thing. (Apparently, it wasn't treasonous or un-American to blame Clinton.) Phil Brennan declared that "I have a few suggestions for Mr. Bush about who he ought to put in the nation's cross hairs: Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Andrea Mitchell, the New York Times, Mary McGrory, The Washington Post and all the other Benedict Arnolds* in the anti-American media rat pack mindlessly attacking President Bush." The asterisk after Arnold keys the reader to a footnote that reads: "I ought to apologize to the memory of Benedict Arnold for lumping him in with this disloyal media scum - he was a genuine American hero before his betrayal - something that can't be said about the president's media critics, the majority of whom never wore a uniform."
Another Newsmax article went into full Bush-worship mode: "The president has been eloquent. He has been confident. Real Americans support him 100 percent."
Then-WND columnist Hugh Hewitt was particularly small-minded in his post-9/11 support for those in high office, writing: "If last November's vote had gone the other way, and vice president Gore had been the man to face this awful challenge, I pray that I would have supported him at this crucial juncture – in my columns and on my radio and television shows." In other words, just a week after 9/11, Hewitt was as eager to use it as a cudgel had those in office been Democrats as he was to use it against critics of President Bush.
The ConWeb also worked to deify Barbara Olson, the right-wing author who was on one of the planes that crashed on 9/11. WND, Newsmax and CNSNews.com all took part in the hagiography, which was mostly about making money on her death by peddling her books to a grieving readership
Newsmax targeted then-ABC host Bill Maher for his statement that "lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away" is cowardly, while "Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly" -- until it figured out that it agreed with him.
Finally, how can we forget Anthony LoBaido's unhinged rant at WND blaming America for 9/11? LoBaido declared that "America has killed over 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 years old with our anti-Saddam sanctions" and tried to make the argument that America deserved to be attacked and suffer massive loss of life:
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.
LoBaido earned extra points for his reference to "the openly Marxist, treasonous and abortion-mongering, occultic Hillary."
This is one of the few times WND eventually decided that something was too crazy for its website. While WND editor Joseph Farah initially defended LoBaido's right to say what he said, the column was quietly deleted from the WND website a few months later without explanation or apology. Of course, nothing ever goes away on the Internet, including LoBaido's screed.
It's that screed that inspired us to name the annual ConWebWatch Slantie Award for most unhinged statement made by a ConWeb writer after LoBaido.
ConWeb Editor Smackdown on Medicare Topic: The ConWeb
CNSNews.com editor Terry Jeffrey mounted a major defense of Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed changes to Medicare in his May 18 column. Insisting that "Ryan's Medicare reform plan is not radical change," Jeffrey wrote:
First, it would not in any way impact Medicare for people 55 or over today. They would keep the current system.
Second, younger Americans would have more than a decade to get ready for the new system.
This does not get America back to 1965, when seniors were not dependent on the government for health care. They will still be dependent.
But it will introduce a little market discipline into the system, where instead of having the government ration care -- like they do in completely socialistic systems -- people will have some latitude to pick and choose what type of plan they want to purchase.
Not so eager to defend Ryan's Medicare plan, however, is Newsmax editor Christopher Ruddy, who in his May 26 column certainly does not agree with Jeffrey that this is "not radical change":
Unfortunately, not only does the Ryan Medicare reform package fail to provide the safeguards that, to my mind, are essential if we are to fulfill our nation’s commitment to seniors, but also it actually proposes that the current Medicare program be replaced with a new “premium support” voucher system for all those currently under age 55.
Today, Americans in the Medicare program are able to get basic coverage, which they can supplement with Medicare Advantage or private health insurance if they choose. But under the Ryan plan, this system will end in 2021 and all Americans who turn 65 that year and after will be given vouchers to purchase health insurance on their own.
If this plan is enacted into law, Medicare eventually will become fully privatized after the current program, which will remain in place for all those age 55 and over, is phased out.
An obvious question immediately arises when considering Ryan’s plan: Will the dollar amount of the vouchers enable the seniors of tomorrow to buy a level of health care that today’s Medicare beneficiaries enjoy? The answer to that is no.
According to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the Ryan plan, “Beneficiaries would . . . face higher premiums in the private market for a package of benefits similar to that currently provided by Medicare. Moreover, the value of the voucher would grow significantly more slowly than CBO expects that Medicare spending per enrollee would grow under current law.”
Simply put, the Ryan plan will cut Medicare spending dramatically by reducing the level of care that the program provides to current beneficiaries. It effectively shifts more of the financial burden onto the shoulders of the private sector and forces individual seniors to pay more out of pocket for their healthcare than they do today.
Ruddy goes on to assert that "Congressional Republicans should take a common-sense approach to reform," adding: "In my view, rampant fraud, abuse, and waste have been the hallmarks of the Medicare system. It is poorly administered. If Congress and the states worked diligently in reducing these excesses, the program would work effectively."
Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell, meanwhile, is just making stuff up. In a May 27 appearance on "Fox & Friends," Bozell claimed that Ryan's plan provides "a 70 percent increase in Medicare," while "Obama is taking $500 billion out of Medicare." In fact, Ryan's plan keeps Obama's cuts and increases out-of-pocket costs for seniors.