Introducing ConWebWatch's awards for achievements in conservative media bias.
By Terry Krepel Posted 1/5/2004
The most obvious question is, why? In a world glutted with awards of innumerable kinds, why add to the list?
First, because we can. Second, the Slantie Awards encapsulates what ConWebWatch is about -- breaking through the fiction that conservative news web sites are more "fair and balanced" than the allegedly liberal news organizations they often criticize. Reviewing a year's worth of distortions, slants and lies by these "news" organizations provides unmistakable evidence of what they are really about.
Thus, the 2004 Slantie Awards, honoring achievements of the previous year in conservative media bias. On with the evening's festivities ...
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Our first Slantie is for the most egregious example of bias in a "news" story. The nominees are:
NewsMax and WorldNetDaily, for their coverage of the Rush Limbaugh drug scandal. Both organizations have employed opposite tactics to those they used when a certain Democratic president found himself in similar scandals -- criticizing initial reports on the case as tabloid trash when they once praised the tabloids for salacious information they once counted on, smearing Limbaugh's accuser as being motivated by greed when it refused to take Bill Clinton's accusers to task despite the same evidence against them. In addition, the WND and NewsMax have used slanted stories and outright lies to puff up Limbaugh and attack his accusers.
CNSNews.com, NewsMax and WorldNetDaily, for its rush to judgment in its heavy criticism of NBC's Peter Arnett for making comments critical of the U.S.-led war effort in Iraq on Iraqi TV while remaining mostly silent about the arguably more serious offense of compromising American military security by Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera when he detailed U.S. troop movements during a broadcast.
WorldNetDaily, for its nearly total abandonment of whatever journalistic principles it may have had in favor of allowing what its book division is publishing to drive what gets covered on WND's news pages. This began with the launch of the book division and its subsequent fawning coverage of Katherine Harris and reached new heights in 2003 when WND abandoned even its hands-off policy on President Bush by running stories critical of his administration on the Iraq war to coincide with the release of a book on the subject by a WND reporter . . . which stopped appearing when the book's promotion window passed.
WorldNetDaily, for its hostile counter-coverage of the release of Hillary Clinton's book. From reviving old accusations to downplaying its success to running a picture of it in the science-fiction section of a bookstore, WND had no interest in covering her with anything resembling fairness.
And the Slantie goes to ... NewsMax and WorldNetDaily for their Rush Limbaugh coverage. Given that they are a source for a lot of what appears on conservative talk radio -- and that WND's Joseph Farah co-wrote a book with Limbaugh -- nobody was expecting scrupulously fair coverage from NewsMax and WND on Limbaugh. They have lived up to that to the point of embracing tactics they deplored (and deploring tactics they embraced) during the Clinton years.
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Our next Slantie is for the silliest statement made by a writer for a conservative news Web site. We're considering naming this the LoBaido Award, in honor of Anthony LoBaido, who wrote a post-9/11 column for WorldNetDaily that was so unhinged -- he blames the attacks on America's immorality since "all that is evil in the world can be found in New York" and, for good measure, calls Hillary Clinton "openly Marxist, treasonous and abortion-mongering, occultic" -- WND eventually pulled it from its site. The nominees:
"Whether those in the militant homosexual lobby regard themselves as adherents of Marxism or communism is difficult to say; I'm guessing that only the most candid among these radicals would admit to such beliefs, with the majority choosing to publicly deny their ideology and dress it up as something it is not, in the hope of furthering their agenda." -- Scott Hogenson, CNSNews.com, in a column equating gay marriage with communism.
"I say: Free Clara Harris. We need more women like her. Live like her. If I were on that jury, I would find Clara Harris not guilty. After she was sprung, I'd give her a medal. She did the world a favor. She may have acted emotionally. She may be sorry for what she has done. But, frankly, she did the right thing. That creep deserved what he got." -- Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily on the case of a woman who mowed down her adulterous husband with her car.
"What’s considered the largest anti-war demonstration in American history took place on November 15, 1969, when an estimated 250,000 people attended a rally in Washington, D.C. to protest the war in Vietnam. An estimated 203,000,000 people did not attend." -- CNSNews.com in an attempt to spin anti-war protests.
"Rush may have started with pain-killers for his back. But he may very well have become addicted to them for the pain in his heart and soul. Can you imagine confronting the exquisitely-subsidized liberal establishment day after day, year after year on its home turf, without a support group? Can you imagine enduring the vile hatred of the left on every issue upon which you dare to speak out? Can you imagine the hate mail, the organized campaigns to silence your voice, the personal attacks?" -- Craige McMillan in WorldNetDaily.
WorldNetDaily "is a general-interest news service read and appreciated by people of every faith and no faith, people of every political persuasion and no political persuasion some 5 million worldwide." -- Joseph Farah, WND editor.
And the Slantie goes to ... Joseph Farah for claiming WND is "a general-interest news service." That statement is so demonstrably far from the truth that Farah himself must have found it hard to keep a straight face as he wrote that.
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Our final award of the evening is a special Slantie Award for Career Achievement in Conservative Bias. This goes to a reporter with a consistent record of biased and slanted "news" reports that fly in the face of time-honored journalistic practice.
This year's winner is ... Jon Dougherty of WorldNetDaily. All manner of one-source articles and rewritten press releases have appeared under his byline during his tenure at WND. He did his duty and plugged Jesse Lee Peterson (the black guy named Jesse who's servicably conservative) without disclosing WND's financial interests in him. He promoted the release of a conservative activist from jail without noting the victims he swindled. Most egregiously, he painted an anti-abortion activist who operates a Web site that lists abortion doctors and crosses their names off when they are killed as merely a misunderstood victim of mean ISPs who keep taking his sites offline. Dougherty still writes a column for WND, but his byline has disappeared of late from WND's news pages, even if the slanted stories haven't.
Honorable mention goes to Jim Burns of CNSNews.com, whose reports about Otto Reich have repeatedly glossed over his controversial background and simplified to the point of distortion the reasons why some were opposed to his appointment to a top State Department post. (A side note: Shortly after ConWebWatch's article on Burns appeared, his byline disappeared from CNS. Coincidence?)
An awards ceremony will be held at a later date in the back corner booth of the Union Street Cafe in Dardanelle, Arkansas. Make your reservations now.