Update: Recurring Themes Redux
WorldNetDaily cites more bogus online polls, and NewsMax again cites a eugenicist-loving researcher. Plus: the MRC's double standard on undisclosed backgrounds, the group of black conservatives whose only paid employee is white and the group member who called Harry Reid a racist Mormon, and more.
By Terry Krepel
From the recurring themes department:
-- WorldNetDaily really loves those bogus opt-in online polls, at least when they reflect WND's biases. A Dec. 8 story cites "several online polls" as a reason for a federal prohibition on giving driver's licenses to "illegal aliens." WND even cited its own poll that claimed "over 90 percent of respondents chose an answer that opposed driver's licenses for illegal aliens."
Nowhere is it noted in the story that the polls it cites are unscientific, unreliable and not indicative of actual public opinion on the issue.
As ConWebWatch has previously noted, WND pushes these bogus polls when they advance WND's political agenda; it's only when they don't that it notes the possibility that multiple voting might taint the results.
-- NewsMax really loves a certain researcher who, in turn, loves eugenicists. A Dec. 10 article regurgitates a column by the New York Times' David Brooks that claims that red-state conservatives are outbreeding blue-state liberals.
Or, as NewsMax puts it: "These curious Middle American creatures, it seems, care more about having a family than a summer home in the Hamptons. They tend to have conservative moral values. And ... they're reproducing!"
The problem with Brooks' column, and therefore with the NewsMax article, is that Brooks cites research by Steve Sailer in American Conservative magazine discussing only white birth rates. As ConWebWatch has previously noted -- when NewsMax approvingly reported on another New York Times columnist citing Sailer's research -- Sailer is a contributor to the anti-immigration site VDare.com who has defended the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that has in the past funded research into eugenics and which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a "hate group."
Actually, Sailer does refer to the birth rates of other races in his American Conservative article -- though only obliquely, in the guise of "poorly educated illegal aliens, wrecking the public schools." Sailer frets that "Now illegal immigrants are flocking to other pro-growth red states, such as North Carolina and Georgia, and may eventually turn those states Democratic" in part because of "the Democratic-voting immigrants' very high birthrates."
The downside to looking at media bias from only one side, as the Media Research Center does, is that you look silly when you overlook the exact same form of bias on the other side.
A Dec. 7 CyberAlert points out that ABC's "Good Morning America" featured Kristen Breitweiser and Patty Casazza, whose husbands died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, "to denounce those opposed to the intelligence reform bill, without bothering to mention how both endorsed John Kerry."
On Dec. 10, however, a CyberAlert was too busy complaining that a "CBS Evening News" story on Social Security was too laudatory of the program to notice a similar bias -- in favor of the MRC's views, of course.
The CBS story featured "Tad DeHaven, National Taxpayers Union employee," described as "the poster child for Social Security reform: 28 years old, a college graduate, in the work force for six years, getting married next May, expected to retire in 2042. That's the year Social Security goes broke." DeHaven supports President Bush's push for Social Security privatization: "I don't expect to get anything from Social Security, okay. I don't consider it in terms of my long-term planning and financing. It's not going to be there. That's my assumption."
What CBS failed to tell its viewers -- and what CyberAlert writer Brent Baker failed to point to his readers -- is that the National Taxpayers Union, for whom DeHaven is an economic policy analyst, advocates Social Security privatization. Media Matters for America notes that DeHaven's previous two employers, conservative think tanks the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, also advocate privatization.
If the MRC was genuinely concerned about media bias, it would have told you that.
* * *
While NewsMax finally turned on Bernard Kerik after aggressively touting for homeland security secretary when the allegations of questionable behavior kept piling up, the rest of the ConWeb has been a lot more reticent about actually criticizing the guy.
CNSNews.com began a Dec. 13 story this way: "Former New York City Police Chief Bernard Kerik might have been a good Homeland Security secretary, but the nation will never know." The story, by Susan Jones, added that following Kerik's withdrawal over a "nanny problem" (despite growing suspicions there really wasn't a nanny at all), "Other allegations involving Kerik's personal and professional conduct also have surfaced in various news accounts." Jones never details what they were or why anyone might think that they were; in fact, she quotes Newsweek's Evan Thomas as saying that Kerik made a lot of enemies who were "coming out of the woodwork" after his nomination was announced, thus intimating that the mounting allegations are merely politically motivated attacks.
Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily has run exactly zero "news" stories on the multitude of questions surrounding Kerik, and only columnist Hugh Hewitt has mentioned it at all -- and then, in a Dec. 15 column, promptly dismissed the coverage by non-conservative outlets as "overkill" due to "the desert season for pundits -- a stretch of weeks wherein little moves and thus few targets present themselves."
* * *
It's not only CBS that should be punished for a story about President Bush's National Guard service based on questionable memos. According to a Dec. 14 CNSNews.com story, any news organization that repeated the story ought to receive some kind of punishment as well.
The story quotes Clay Waters, who does the New York Times-bashing site Times Watch for CNS parent the Media Research Center (the story benignly describes Times Watch as "an Internet watchdog group that monitors The New York Times," even though the Times Watch page paints its mission much more specifically: "Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Political Agenda of the New York Times"), as saying that although the Times declined to do its own original story based on the memos because if questioned their authenticity, it ran a front-page story based on the CBS report. Then, as the CBS story started to face criticism and fall apart, "they ran the follow-ups not on the front page but on the back pages."
"Maybe they should be questioning their own fact checking," Waters said in reference to the Times, adding that the newspaper didn't give the story front page attention again "until Dan Rather finally apologized."
Maybe Waters' words can be a lesson for CNS to follow. As ConWebWatch has noted, it ran four stories that featured accusations that British politician George Galloway was taking bribes from Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Since then (as ConWebWatch has also noted), CNS not only has failed to report that the Christian Science Monitor retracted the bribery allegations it made against Galloway, it failed to report that Galloway last month was awarded £150,000 in libel damages ($291,000) over the allegations from the British newspaper -- the same reports on which CNS based its stories.
So, how about it, CNS? Will you give the kind of full coverage to this story that you seem to demand from others, especially now that what you reported has been officially declared libelous?
Project 21, a group of black conservatives, is a favorite source of quotes for the ConWeb. A search of CNSNews.com's database turns up 82 references alone, including a Dec. 10 story quoting a Project 21 member praising new selections for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. WorldNetDaily columnist Mychal Massie -- who believes that "radical, bloodthirsty Muslims and elitist, socialistic liberals are opposite sides of the same coin" -- is a member of Project 21. Project 21 also weighed in on NewsMax's silly attack on CBS' Dan Rather over a reference to "Little Rascals" character Buckwheat.
What the ConWeb won't tell you about Project 21 is that the group has only one paid staffer -- and he's white.
In an article for the online publication the Gadflyer, Joshua Holland notes that Project 21 is a group of black conservative volunteers "willing to do interviews, be quoted for press releases and be available to write for Project 21 publications." David Almasi, the group's lone paid staffer (and white guy), says he serves as "a syndicator, an editor and a scheduler."
Project 21 is a project of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research, well connected to the Bush administration and the conservative foundation money machine. NCPPR's directors, Holland noted, are all white.
Speaking of Project 21's Mychal Massie: He took his fellow conservatives' deliberate mischaracterization of incoming Senate minority leader Harry Reid's criticism of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for writing lousy opinions as somehow "racist" to new, despicable lows.
In a Dec. 14 WorldNetDaily column, Massie not only described Reid as "arrogantly racist," he likened Reid to notorious segregationists "Bull" Connor and Orval Faubus, because siccing dogs and fire hoses on blacks and forcibly opposing equal educational opportunity for all is exactly the same as opining that a judge's legal opinions are "poorly written," don'cha know. And as the piece de resistance, Massie blamed Reid's alleged racism on "his inbred familial heritage" as a Mormon, then goes on to cite racist remarks by Mormons, commenting that Mormons have "posited that blacks were born so because, unlike the white Reid's, blacks weren't obedient in their prior estate."
Yes, the Mormons do have their problems with race, but Massie's citing of it here since he offers no evidence beyond the speculation in his own fevered brain that Reid had any racist intent in his remarks. As a friend of ConWebWatch remarked, Massie's remarks are no different than the folks who spread the ancient, anti-Semitism-fomenting assertion that all Jews are responsible for killing Jesus.
Slantie Award, anyone? Perhaps; it would be Massie's second eligible statement this year. And Massie delivers a reprise of that first statement, which likened liberals to terrorists, in his Dec. 21 column, in which he claims that "American lawyers -- at the expense of American taxpayers -- defend those who would murder our mothers as they nurse," adding: "Sometimes the only way to separate one jihadist from another is by their Birkenstocks."
All of which leads one to wonder why a spouter of such bizarre rhetoric is permitted to speak for a group like Project 21.
(Note: I wrote a version of this item for Media Matters for America.)