Update: A Tale of Two Prevaricators
The ConWeb goes a lot easier on Jack Kelley than it did on Jayson Blair -- but then, WorldNetDaily printed a Kelley story. Plus: The ConWeb mimics the White House on Richard Clarke, the latest Kerry-bashing, the cost of ConWeb advertising, and more.
By Terry Krepel
The ConWeb has stayed far away from the story of former USA Today reporter (and evangelical Christian) Jack Kelley, who, according to an investigation by the newspaper, fabricated key portions of several stories. NewsMax has run only a single wire story, while WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com has run no original stories on Kelley's fabrications.
Contrast that to the ConWeb's treatment of former New York Times reporter-slash-fabricator (and not an evangelical Christian) Jayson Blair. Database searches for Blair's name turns up 75 hits at WND, 12 hits at CNS and 82 at NewsMax.
WND, it turns out, has extra reason to stay away from the Kelley scandal -- it published one of his stories in its magazine.
In the November 2001 issue of Whistleblower magazine, with the theme of "Jihad: The Radical Islamic Threat to America," WND ran a Kelley story on "the secret world of suicide bombers," which a WND article summarizes (the story itself is not on the WND Web site) as a profile of "the Hotari family as they prepare for a party to celebrate the killing of 21 Israelis earlier in the month by their son, a suicide bomber." The story, WND claims, "paints a surreal picture of an entire culture that revolves around farming and harvesting youthful suicide terrorists."
Additionally, WND ran a March 2001 story -- part of a series written by Judy Lash Balint ("a Jerusalem-based writer and journalist (and) an associate of the Israel Media Resource Agency") on alleged intimidation of reporters in the Middle East to make them pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel -- praising Kelley as one of only a "few correspondents with background in the area who jetted in for a few weeks and left before they became tainted with the political correctness required of the resident media set" who have provided "the best factual reporting from the new intifada":
WND may want to go back and double-check to see how "accurate" Kelley's work really was, given his record and the fact that WND seems to be getting that kind of reputation, what with admitting it plagiarized a story and all.
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The ConWeb has done a fine job of following the White House script on the Richard Clarke controversy -- short on analysis of what he actually said and long on bashing the guy who has criticized President Bush's handling of terrorism. Some of the more egregious examples, grouped by organization:
WorldNetDaily: A March 23 story complains that "The '60 Minutes' interview (with Clarke) has raised ethical concerns for not disclosing the connection between Clarke's book publisher, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster, and CBS News. Both are owned by Viacom," conveniently overlooking WND's own ethically questionable history of not disclosing its financial interests in people it writes "news" stories about. (Like this March 11 story featuring an anecdote from a book on the faith of Ronald Reagan -- nowhere does it explicitly say that WND published the book.)
A March 30 story imported from Moonie-owned Insight magazine claims "Many of former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke's friends are saying his anti-Bush diatribe has cost him his credibility" -- but doesn't name or quote any of these alleged "friends." Writer J. Michael Waller also has an axe to grind, calling Clarke "righteously angry" and his book a "revenge tale" and frets that Clarke's book "is generating headlines around the world that diminish U.S. standing in the middle of the global war on terrorism." But then, Waller writes, resorting to that old standby, it's all Clinton's fault: "Until just two months before the attack, nearly all the senior counterterrorism and intelligence officials on duty at the time were holdovers from the Clinton administration."
CNSNews.com: Writer Susan Jones relies on a slightly different standby -- it's all the liberal media's fault -- in a March 26 story which complains that of the hundreds of stories on Clarke's accusations found in Lexis/Nexis, only two cite an attack on Clarke by Republican senator Christopher Shays, who said "Clarke was part of the problem before Sept. 11 because he took too narrow a view of the terrorism threat." A March 25 on a MoveOn.org ad featuring Clarke, also penned by Jones, gets a bit snarky at the end: "The White House and other Bush defenders have released documents and transcripts that cast serious doubt on Clarke's credibility, but many Democrats -- including MoveOn.org -- are taking Clarke at his (latest) word."
NewsMax: Another standby -- in this case, selective reporting -- resurfaces in a March 26 story in which Senate majority leader Bill Frist accused Clarke of perjury and telling "two entirely different stories under oath" to the 9/11 Commission and 2002 testimony to the House and Senate intelligence committees. What NewsMax doesn't tell you is that Frist later not only backed off his perjury accusations but admitted he had no idea whether were any inconsistencies at all in Clarke's testimony.
Media Research Center: The MRC folks are obsessed with painting Clarke as not credible, as summed up in a March 25 "Media Reality Check" headline that "Network Reporters Treat the Former Anti-Terrorism Advisor’s Testimony As Authoritative, Not Biased" and in the article itself that "the Bush administration’s efforts to counter him were portrayed as petty and calculated." You mean they weren't? And Brent Bozell just had to put his two cents in, complaining that Clarke got better treatment from that darn liberal media than Gary Aldrich. (Aldrich himself makes the same argument over at NewsMax.)
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Enough Clarke-bashing. What's the latest on the Kerry-bashing front?
-- NewsMax happily reports that ""Mr. Kerry, accompanied by the press, went into a sporting-goods store and bought an athletic supporter."
-- Another NewsMax story quotes someone claiming to be a neighbor of Kerry's on Boston's Beacon Hill as saying "I think he's the rudest, ugliest, most arrogant man I've ever met."
-- WorldNetDaily is appalled that Kerry "made a stop at a Catholic church during his Idaho vacation Sunday to attend Mass, loudly arriving 11 minutes late and wearing a ski suit."
-- CNSNews.com is trying to make mountains out of a molehills. One story alleges that a guy who appeared with Kerry on TV 33 years ago lied about his military record. Another tries to pin down whether or not Kerry attended a 1971 meeting at which a plot to assassinate U.S. senators was allegedly discussed, despite CNS' own disinterest about what George W. Bush was doing around the same time.
-- There's a reason NewsMax has backed off trying to link Kerry with Jane Fonda: Most people don't get it. According to a survey reported on by NewsMax March 19, hardly anyone linked Fonda to her anti-Vietnam War activities. But it works the other way too: Attempts by some Democrats to link the job-creation record of President Bush with that of Herbert Hoover are falling flat because more people confused him with former FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover than linked him to the Great Depression. And 3 percent of respondents thought he had something to do with vacuum cleaners.
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What does it cost to advertise on the ConWeb? We have an answer.
Both NewsMax and WorldNetDaily have some of their advertising slots marketed by a company called Intermarkets, which also handles advertising for several other conservative sites like the Drudge Report, Human Events and the American Spectator (despite that conservative concentration, it also handles ads for RefDesk.com, the alternative weeklies owned by the Village Voice and John Gray, Mr. "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" himself). The Drudge Report has its own (more expensive) rate card, but here's the freight to get on Intermarkets' other "News Channel" sites: as of this writing (CPM, by the way, stands for 1,000 impressions):
As part of its pitch to plug its sites, Intermarkets offers an interesting little piece of research: a Nielsen//NetRatings study that puts both WND and NewsMax in the top five "Current Events and Global News Sites For Those Donating Money to A Political Campaign or Party."
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We haven't heard much about the Terri Schiavo case lately, but a March 30 story by Sarah Foster shows WorldNetDaily is still keeping up with it the same way it's always been -- changing her name to Terri Schindler-Schiavo and treating everything her parents (the Schindlers) say as newsworthy and accurate.
And WND insists on calling its coverage of the Schiavo case "comprehensive" when, to my knowledge, it has never done an interview with her husband, whom Foster along with the Schindlers -- and, therefore, WND -- have made out to be the villain.
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Silliest ConWeb columnist quote of the month:
"In a word, Sean Hannity is ... adorable. There, I said it. Might as well get right out there in the open for all the world to read. Sean is intelligent, genuinely kind, correct on the issues ... and drop-dead gorgeous."
-- Rebecca Hagelin, WorldNetDaily, March 23