Accuracy in Media attacks WorldNetDaily! The Media Research Center bashes NBC for not reporting criticism of President Bush! NewsMax accuses Robert Bork of borking! The Harriet Miers nomination is turning the ConWeb topsy-turvy.
By Terry Krepel
How bad does a conservative journalist have to screw up to be criticized by his fellow conservatives?
WorldNetDaily founder and editor Joseph Farah now knows. WND has launched a John Kerry-esque attack -- complete with appearance by Swift Boater and bigot Jerome Corsi -- against Harriet Miers, President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court.
In a badly written Oct. 3 "news" article, Farah claims that Miers "is on record as supporting the establishment of the International Criminal Court, homosexual adoptions, a major local tax increase and women in combat." Farah's evidence for this is a list of "potential agenda items" from a 1999 American Bar Association meeting purportedly submitted by Miers "that included recommendations to develop and establish an International Criminal Court and the enactment of laws and public policy providing that the sexual orientation of adults be no bar to adoption of children." Miers' name is not in the document, and Farah does not offer any evidence that Miers submitted it. Farah cites (but does not reproduce) a memo accompanying the agenda, purportedly signed by Miers, asking meeting delegates to "review this list for items of interest to their constituencies." Farah does not cite any evidence that Miers endorsed any of the items on the agenda, yet claimed anyway that this somehow proves that Miers "is on record as supporting" them.
Even Accuracy in Media saw through this, shaking it loose from its agenda of late, which has been mostly about promoting editor Cliff Kincaid's personal agenda of bashing the United Nations and distorting Newsweek's retracted Quran-in-the-toilet article. Kincaid's group, America's Survival, is trying to get Newsweek writer Michael Isikoff extradited to Afghanistan to face charges over the deaths of people killed in rioting purportedly sparked by the article -- a conflict of interest he has not disclosed to his AIM readers.
An Oct. 4 AIM column by Kincaid called Farah's article "a case of sensational but factually inaccurate reporting," pointing out that Farah's claims are "merely a listing of issues that were supposed to come before a meeting of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association in 1998. There is no evidence that Miers personally endorsed them." Kincaid also unearths the memo accompanying that agenda and noted that "Miers was, in fact, one of 12 officials who signed and submitted the report."
Kincaid seems to have now suddenly remembered AIM's claimed mission as a media watchdog: "Accuracy in Media is urging the conservative media, who could play a constructive role in analyzing her background, to conduct their research in a careful and constructive way and not jump to unwarranted conclusions about her personal views on public policy issues." He seems to want that focused, though, on Miers' nomination "in view of the Bush campaign promise to appoint judges in the tradition of conservatives Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas."
If being taken to the woodshed by one of his fellow conservatives (as opposed to, say, ConWebWatch, which has already documented Farah's record of lies and plagiarism) had any effect on Farah, he hasn't shown it. In a column the day after the AIM column appeared, Farah repeated his distorted accusations in his column.
Farah has also enlisted WND columnist and author Jerome Corsi to lead WND's attack on Miers. Corsi has penned a series of articles about Miers' work with the Texas Lottery Commission and her law firm. While at least some of these allegations have been corroborated, the fact that Corsi was also a leader in the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- which advanced a number of dubious allegations against John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign -- means that anything he says should be approached with caution.
In an Oct. 4 column, Corsi made note of Ben Barnes, a former Texas lieutenant governor linked to a state lottery scandal during the time that Miers was running the lottery commission -- and the guy who claimed that he pulled strings to get a young George W. Bush into the National Guard. In the middle of this, Corsi drops this important statement: "The Barnes melodrama got drowned out by the forged document saga, but to this day nobody has disproved Barnes played the role he said he did."
Corsi might want to forward that little nugget to WND news editor Art Moore, who wrote a September 2004 article repeating accusations that Barnes was a political opportunist who lied about Bush's National Guard record to help promote his upcoming book, elect John Kerry and "make Bush look like the bad person."
Unfortunately, instead of running with that news, Corsi turns disingenuous:
I doubt if the Swift Boat Vets will come back together to pursue this one the only complaint the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ever agreed on was that John Kerry was "Unfit for Command," not that George W. Bush was. Just writing this article should dismiss some of the urban legend that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were just a Bush campaign surrogate.
Corsi is wrong. Corsi essentially admits that he knew this about Barnes' allegations against Bush before the election, and he chose to say nothing at the time. By relentlessly attacking Kerry -- and raising no questions about Bush's military record -- Corsi and the Swift Boat Vets were de facto Bush supporters. And the fact that Corsi wasn't exactly eager to take a few minutes away from his Kerry-bashing to relay this news to the public before the election is more evidence that supporting Bush, if only to defeat Kerry, was his first priority. Corsi and the Swift Boat Vets chose only to attack one candidate when they could have attacked both. In doing so, they benefited the candidate they didn't attack -- Bush.
Disingenuousness aside, Accuracy in Media is not the only ConWeb component driven to atypical behavior by Miers' nomination. (WND's behavior is not atypical; it regularly attacks anyone who strays from its brand of Christian conservatism.)
At the Media Research Center, an Oct. 5 CyberAlert took the NBC Nightly News to task for claiming that "so far, no Republican Senator has joined the chorus of critics" of Miers' nomination. But writer Brent Baker pointed out that the evening newscasts that night on ABC and CBS did note that conservative Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas raised questions about Miers' selection.
And at NewsMax, the headline of an Oct. 7 article reads "Robert Bork 'Borks' Harriet Miers." The first paragraph: "Legendary conservative jurist Robert Bork is 'borking' Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, trashing her nomination as a complete and total 'disaster.'"
The ConWeb is clearly feeling some confusion over how to handle the Miers nomination. Its kneejerk defense of President Bush no matter what is conflicting with its sense of conservative entitlement; not only is Miers an unknown quantity, she's not a member of the Federalist Society-aligned farm system that conservative activists have been grooming for years.
Expect that confusion to continue for a while.