Update: An Apology That Will Never Come
Will the ConWeb report the clearing of a British politician as loudly -- or at all -- as it blared the allegation he was taking bribes from Saddam Hussein? Plus: WorldNetDaily takes time from denouncing the ACLU to cite it as a source, conservatives abstain from the facts in defending abstinence-only programs, and more.
By Terry Krepel
Back in 2003, the ConWeb jumped all over allegations that George Galloway, a British member of Parliament, was accused of taking bribes of as much as $500,000 a year from Saddam Hussein, based on a report in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph.
WorldNetDaily ran two stories and an Ann Coulter column featuring the original accusation (Coulter's columns before July 2004 have been deleted not only from WND but the conservative opinion site Townhall.com and Coulter's personal site, but it's still up here). NewsMax ran two stories mentioning it. CNSNews.com ran four stories. Accuracy in Media gave it a mention. FrontPageMag.com also did a feature.
As ConWebWatch noted, when the Christian Science Monitor ran a similar story and then retracted it, only AIM took note of the Monitor's retraction; the rest of the ConWeb ignored it. ConWebWatch even took grief from the Media Research Center's Tim Graham for pointing out that the MRC-operated CNSNews.com failed to note the Monitor's retraction despite the four stories it had previously posted about Galloway.
Now, Tim Graham has something else for his employer to ignore. On Dec. 2, Galloway was awarded £150,000 in libel damages ($291,000) from the Daily Telegraph in a British court. The Telegraph was also ordered to pay Galloway's legal costs; both sides were estimated to have spent about £1.2 million ($2.3 million). The court ruled that the allegations were "seriously defamatory" of Galloway and noted that he "did not ... have a fair or reasonable opportunity to make inquiries or meaningful comment upon them [the documents on which the Telegraph based its report] before they were published."
As its non-coverage of the Monitor's retraction would indicate (and even though its saturation bashing of CBS over similarly questionable documents used for a news story ought to indicate otherwise), the ConWeb (even AIM) has failed to take note of this decision. Don't expect it to, either -- admitting these kinds of mistakes is something NewsMax, WorldNetDaily, et al., simply refuse to do.
The Telegraph's executive editor, Neil Darbyshire, was quoted as saying some curious things. "It has never been the Telegraph's case to suggest that the allegations contained in these documents are true," Darbyshire said. The allegations were printed because "raised some very serious questions at a crucial stage in the war against Iraq. The Telegraph did not and could not perform a detailed investigation into their contents."
Sounds a lot like the standard ConWeb modus operandi, doesn't it? As NewsMax has done with the Clintons and WorldNetDaily did with John Kerry, truth is of secondary importance to a juicy allegation.
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If WorldNetDaily hates the American Civil Liberties Union so much, why does WND keep using the ACLU to back up positions it supports?
WND's search engine turns up 35 references to the ACLU in the past month alone. WND chief Joseph Farah, in a single Nov. 30 column alone, calls the ACLU "extremist persecutors," an "evil organization," "dangerously seditious" and, just to make sure he hadn't slandered it, a "degenerate group of God-hating perverts." The headline of Farah's Nov. 17 column blared: 'The ACLU must be destroyed," as Farah wrote: "It is an organization in league with all of America's enemies. It is an organization that hates God, hates what is right, decent and morally upright. It is an organization in league with the Devil, as far as I am concerned." The latest issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine is dedicated to attacking the ACLU, which it calls "the most subversive organization in America."
So it's surprising that in a Dec. 5 story by WND news editor Ron Strom on proposed additions to the USA Patriot Act, Strom quite uncritically notes that "The American Civil Liberties Union has analyzed the draft of the bill and lists several new government powers it would establish," then lists the ACLU's analysis.
There's no reference at all to how much WND hates the ACLU, the "dangerously seditious" and "evil organization" that "hates what is right."
WND wants to have it both ways. It needs the ACLU as a convenient target to publicly pillage -- unless it agrees with WND, at which time WND will happily promote what the ACLU has to say.
The recent report by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman detailing misinformation being taught to students in abstinence-only sex education program drew a lot of attacks on the ConWeb, though none on the substance of the study itself.
A Dec. 2 CNSNews.com story provides response by conservatives to the report -- but all of them attack Waxman personally as "a vocal proponent of more federal dollars being spent on condom-distribution programs" and "the same individual that has been defending the federal funding of flirting classes," not addressing what's actually in the report.
WorldNetDaily columnist Kevin McCullough goes a step further in a Dec. 3 column, claiming that some of what was cited in the report as misinformation was actually true.
"It seems some of the "objectionable facts" that Waxman's "investigators" spent time focusing on were whether or not women can become sterile from an abortion, whether or not condom failure rates are 15 percent or 30 percent, and whether or not it is possible for a teen to become pregnant through mutual masturbation," McCullough wrote. All of these facts are easily provable ..."
Getting pregnant through masturbation is a "fact"? Despite his claim that this is "easily provable," McCullough doesn't. And that was the one item for which we'd love to see proof.
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Add another to the list of authors of dubious tomes issued by WND Books or its successor, Nelson Current.
I.C. Smith is the author of "Inside: A Top G-Man Exposes Spies, Lies, and Bureaucratic Bungling in the FBI," coming out under the Nelson Current imprint. In it, according to the promotional blurb, "A former special agent gives an insider’s account of many of the FBI’s most well known, though least understood, triumphs and failures throughout the past three decades."
It turns out that Smith worked for while in Arkansas, and you know what that means -- Clinton gossip. The Arkansas Times notes that among the dirt Smith dishes in his book is that "Bill Clinton was an unprincipled pol with a fast zipper."
As the Times further notes: "Lots of anonymous second-hand accounts of Clinton’s sex life. That tends to be a good formula for national book sales." But anonymous and second-hand, especially if it involves a Clinton, is more than good enough for the folks at WND and Thomas Nelson.