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Credibility Problems

Do ConWeb writers even read the sites they write for? We have to wonder.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/9/2004

Do ConWeb writers read the sites they write for? Do they use any research sources at all that don't conform to their own predetermined spin? We've always wondered that, but it's worth questioning anew after reading the following:

Media Research Center

The MRC's Brent Baker spends the better part of a May 20 CyberAlert beating up on those who calling the current price of gasoline a record, when it's not if you adjust for inflation.

However, when conservatives spent the better part of the 1990s blaming Democrats for being responsible for what they called "the largest tax increase in history" in 1993, the MRC was nowhere to be found, even though records show that -- adjusted for inflation, of course -- a tax increase approved in 1982 by a Republican Congress under the Reagan administration was the largest. It doesn't even correct a 1996 CNN report that ties Bob Dole to it, merely cites it as another out-of-context example of liberal bias.

Similarly, MRC's brethren at made no effort to correct the record, despite printing three (count 'em, three) examples of Republicans calling it exactly that.

Speaking of

A particularly hilarious case of a writer not reading his own Web site occurs at Writer Nathan Burchfiel penned a June 3 story about how "anti-Bush groups are questioning the validity of electronic voting." Burchfiel cites mostly as the opposition but also mentions another group called Verified Voting, as well as a response from one maker of electronic voting systems who dismisses critics as conspiracy theorists. The overall tone of the article is that only liberals oppose electronic voting.

The very same day, CNS ran a commentary piece on the subject that concludes, "Concerned voters everywhere need to research this issue and then vigorously support legislation that will secure the integrity of the election system. Paperless voting is a ticking bomb with potentially explosive Election Day results." It also cites Verified Voting as a group with concerns about electronic voting.

The author of this piece? Jill S. Farrell of the decidedly not anti-Bush Free Congress Foundation. Repeat -- this appeared the very same day as Burchfiel's piece.


In conjunction with a story written for New York Magazine by Alexandra Polier, the woman who was falsely linked to an affair with John Kerry, WND ran one of its infamous opt-in polls, asking, "Did Alexandra Polier get a raw deal from the media linking her to John Kerry?" The lead response, with 33 percent of the vote: "Who gives a flying leap about Alexandra Polier?"

Well, WND sure did. It ran four stories about rumors of the affair. It was so eager to do so, in fact, that it violated its own rule about linking to publications that profit from pornography that it cited the Sun tabloid in London, notorious for running pictures of bare-breasted women. Never mind, of course, that nothing WND ran could be independently verified.

WND should perhaps keep in mind that in its poll, 10 percent of respondents agreed that "media are too quick these days to run with unconfirmed information." By the way, WND merely linked to Polier's New York piece, not lifting it wholesale for its own use like it has done with other stories, and nowhere does WND refute anything Polier has to say -- things like, "I am struck by the pitiful state of political reporting, which is dominated by the unholy alliance of opposition research and its latest tool, the Internet."

-- And does anyone else find the irony in the fact that June 4 WND story on the 50th anniversary conference on the "super-secret" Bilderberg group -- "which many believe conspires semi-annually to foster global government" -- engages in its own form of secrecy by leaving off the byline of its author? You'd think the author of the piece would be proud of his/her scoop of what is allegedly a partial guest list.

Another irony: WND editor Joseph Farah is reportedly a member of his own "super-secret" group, the right-wing Council for National Policy.


The folks at NewsMax trotted out yet again on May 28 the story of the judge, Harold Baer, who ruled that Saddam Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attacks in a lawsuit filed by the families of two 9/11 victims. "We suspect that the reason for the media's near-blackout on the case is because most Americans would consider his findings to be very persuasive," NewsMax writes.

It's not until paragraph 23 -- that would be the second-to-last paragraph -- does NewsMax note: " To be sure, Judge Baer also noted that the case for Iraq's involvement in 9/11 is far from a slam dunk ... "

How can it be both "very persuasive" and "far from a slam dunk"? The mind would boggle, except for the knowledge that it's NewsMax talking here.

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