Slanties 2007: Bringing SlantieBack
It's time once again to honor the year's most egregious violations of truth, fairness and sanity on the ConWeb.
By Terry Krepel
After all, the beginning of a new year means that it's time for ConWebWatch's annual Slantie Awards, in which we review and celebrate the past year's most egregious violations of truth and sanity on the ConWeb. The winners receive the beautiful imaginary statuette depicted at left -- a much more beautiful artifact, because it exists only in imagination, than the goblet to be issued to the winners of WND's upcoming inaugural Courage in Media Awards (which we won't win because pointing out WND's history of biased and misleading reporting is not WND's idea of "courage").
So, let's get to the awards, shall we?
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Our first award is for the most egregious example of bias in a "news" story. The nominees are:
-- WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein (also a nominee last year) for his continuous, biased attacks on Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. He started off the year by smearing Olmert during Israeli parliamentary elections -- frequently using anonymous sources -- with allegations that included calling his family a seething den of "pacifists" and "army deserters." When that didn't work (Olmert's party won in what Klein dismissed as a "minor election victory"), Klein attacked Olmert from the left, calling him a tool of the oligarchy that controls Israel's economy and, then, suggesting that the name of Olmert's party, Kadima, was lifted from a Democratic Party slogan. When Israel found itself in battle with Hezbollah, rather than rallying to the aid of his country, Klein was highly critical of Olmert's prosecution of the war, digging up more anonymous sources, and even alleged terrorists, to serve as vehicles for his criticism. Quoting terrorists to further his political agenda was also a staple for Klein; he also claimed that a handful of terrorists wanted Democrats to win in November.
-- NewsMax's Ronald Kessler, for being such an unfailing toady for the Bush administration. When Kessler joined NewsMax, he said, "I’m proud to be associated with an operation that practices journalism honestly and fairly." That little delusion -- coupled with the fact that Kessler's last two books were Bush hagiographies -- were an indication of what was to come. He immediately started issuing fluff pieces for Bush's staffers and attacking the administration's perceived enemies, such as John McCain. Such fluff-and-attack tactics grew more intense as the November elections drew closer; he even tried to equivocate the scandal involving Rep. Mark Foley (whom NewsMax supported) and his pursuit of congressional pages by dredging up 30-year-old tales of alleged page misbehavior. Finally, Kessler devolved into scare tactics, asserting without evidence that if they took control of Congress, Democrats "would adopt the Clinton administration's spineless approach to fighting terrorism." When such scare-mongering failed to stop people from voting Democrats into Congress, Kessler devoted his first post-election column to comparing President Bush to Abraham Lincoln.
-- Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid, for its semantics game over secret CIA prisons. As part of a broader attack on the Washington Post for exposing the CIA's secret prisons for holding alleged terrorists for apparent rendition purposes, Kincaid has insisted that those facilities were not "prisons" because ... well, mainly because he thinks "prison" makes the idea of secret detention sound all unseemly and stuff. Then he insists that it's not "an argument over semantics."
-- CNSNews.com's Marc Morano and Randy Hall, for a pair of articles in which suggest that Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha didn't earn his medals in Vietnam and rehashing decades-old scandals to which he was tied. Their main sources for these claims were people who were dead, incapacitated or disgruntled opponents who lost elections to Murtha. CNS editor David Thibault essentially admitted that its attack on Murtha was in retaliation for Murtha's criticism of the Iraq war.
-- WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi for his relentless, if futile, campaign against Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland. First, Corsi was slow to disclose that he co-wrote a book with Strickland's opponent, Ken Blackwell; then, he descended into gay-baiting, at one point writing an article that used the term "lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender" or slight variants a whopping 22 times. All the negativity -- which mirrored Blackwell's own campaign -- may have driven more voters away than it attracted, as Blackwell lost the election by 23 percentage points.
And the winner is ... WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein. He would have received the award for his Olmert-bashing alone, but he has shown himself to be an all-around biased reporter: Not only did he haul out his favorite terrorists to endorse Democrats, he continued with his merry ways of refusing to acknowledge the extremist, violent ties of the people he interviews, as well as implying that Fox News paid a ransom for two kidnapped staffers in Gaza, then denying that he made that implication.
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Our next award is the LoBaido Award for the silliest statement made by a writer for a conservative news Web site (named after Anthony LoBaido, who wrote a post-9/11 column for WorldNetDaily that was so unhinged -- he blamed the attacks on America's immorality since "all that is evil in the world can be found in New York" and, for good measure, called Hillary Clinton "openly Marxist, treasonous and abortion-mongering, occultic" -- WND eventually pulled it from its site). Our nominees:
-- "It is a liberal article of faith that if only the Israelis or Americans would just stop existing, there would not be a problem with Islamic terrorism." -- Alan Caruba, July 31 CNSNews.com column.
-- "While much of the world was watching the forced conversions of two kidnapped Fox News journalists in the Gaza Strip, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took a huge step toward forcing millions of Californians to convert. It's not Islam that Schwarzenegger and the state are forcibly pushing through all schools that accept any public form of financial aid for students. It's paganism. It's the worship of Baal. It's a primitive form of religion that is making a comeback. It's a faith that says sacrifice your sons and daughters on this altar or else." -- Joseph Farah, Aug. 30 WorldNetDaily column mistaking a California law that keeps California schools from receiving public money if they discriminate against gays for -- well, we don't know what he mistook it for.
-- "America's 'tumor' may even turn malignant and erupt into violence. No one is checking backpacks. Does anyone recall the backpack explosion at the Olympics in Atlanta? Crowds are al Qaeda's favorite target." -- Ralph Hostetter, April 28 CNSNews.com column, forgetting that it was anti-abortion extremist Eric Rudolph, not al Qaeda, who set off the Olympics bomb.
-- "Just as 'Heather Has Two Mommies' is now required reading for kindergartners in some school districts, how long will it be before the tolerance police mandate Phil Padwe's new books. He's the author and illustrator of the two new children's books on tattoos." -- Joseph Farah, Oct. 20 WorldNetDaily "news" article on tattoos.
-- "It just so happens -- and this is extremely newsworthy -- that the Democratic plan for Iraq is similar to the one proposed by al Qaeda." -- Cliff Kincaid, Dec. 22 Accuracy in Media column.
-- "Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products." -- Jim Rutz, Dec. 12 WorldNetDaily column.
-- "He paints word pictures on the radio. He uses the radio waves as his canvas. And the artist has perfected his craft in another medium with four best-selling books." -- A Dec. 6 WorldNetDaily article floridly describing abrasive, hate-mongering radio host Michael Savage.
-- "If we should follow the animal world regarding homosexual penguins and thereby regard human homosexual behavior as normal, then we must be consistent and follow the animal world regarding rape, eating our young and eating our neighbors and decriminalize these behaviors as well." Gary DeMar, Nov. 21 WorldNetDaily column.
-- "[Rick] Warren is ready to turn over the spiritual mantle to a man [Barack Obama] who represents the views of Satan at worst or progressive anti-God liberals at best in most of his public positions on the greatest moral tests of our time." -- Kevin McCullough, Nov. 17 WorldNetDaily column.
" 'I scarcely knew my own name; and for a long while I was silent, knowing that it was a time for tears.' St. Jerome penned those words following the sack of Rome by Alaric the Visigoth, who ravished the Eternal City on August 24, Anno Domini 410. I can add nothing to Jerome’s lament. Yesterday’s election has robbed me of speech." -- Richard Poe's reaction to the Republican loss of congressional control, in a Nov. 8 blog post.
"Recently, I came across a list of the eight most notorious serial killers in American history. Each of them made Jack the Ripper look like a piker when it came to murder. ... Except for [Jeffrey] Dahmer, who was killed by a fellow prisoner four years after he entered prison, the one thing they all have in common is that they all lived for at least 10 years after being found guilty of their heinous crimes. ... Which brings us to Al Gore. How is it he is still around, still having media attention paid to him, still trying to pass himself off as one of the big brain people?" -- Burt Prelutsky, Nov. 8 WorldNetDaily column.
-- "Open or suspected homosexuals should never be elected. The problem with homosexuals is that they frequently don't have common sense and don't acknowledge appropriate boundaries. Weird sex, public displays of "affection" and nudity, and sex with youth are built into the "gay" sub-culture. ... We are insane to allow suspected or open homosexuals to assume positions as public officials, pastors, teachers, camp counselors or coaches." -- Linda Harvey, Oct. 3 WorldNetDaily column.
-- "On Wednesday night's World News, Tapper patted his old employers on the back by publicizing their unsubstantiated charges 'by at least five' accusers that conservative Sen. George Allen used the word 'nigger' in his college days at the University of Virginia." -- Tim Graham, unclear on the difference between "unsubstantiated" and "at least five accusers" in a Sept. 28 NewsBusters post and CyberAlert item.
"[President Bush, aka "Dear Jorge"] lied when he said: "Massive deportation of the people here ["the Mexican nationals who have helped lower America's wage rates by 16 percent over the last 32 years"] is unrealistic it's just not going to work." Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society." -- Vox Day, May 15 WorldNetDaily column. (WND later scrubbed the Nazi reference from the column, though Day still stands by it.)
-- "If we continue to preach this gospel of evolution to our children, it is inevitable that we will have no more success with it than did Hitler, Stalin and Mao. It leads inexorably in one direction death, genocide, oppression, darkness, murder. I don't expect atheists to disavow evolution. It is the only faith they have. But it is long overdue that Christians reject it as a malodorous, filthy, contemptuous lie from the pit of hell. After all, where else but hell could Hitler get his inspiration?" -- Joseph Farah, March 23 column.
-- "But that gets to the heart of the question. As a hetero, how can I identify with this situation [of the central relationship conflict in the gay-cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain]? More importantly, why would I want to? I care no more about the love life of homosexuals than I do about the mating habits of aardvarks or why female praying mantises bite the heads off their male suitors. While these may be interesting as points of study, they have no relevance to my life." -- Barrett Kalellis, Feb. 28 NewsMax column.
Whew -- quite a list of nominees. And despite the prevalence of Joseph Farah and Richard Poe's drama-queen post, the winner is ... Jim Rutz of WorldNetDaily for his soy-make-you-gay assertion, something he is having a bit of trouble trying to prove.
We have a couple more Slanties to award. The first is our award for Career Achievement in Conservative Bias, awarded in the past to WND's Jon Dougherty and WND columnist Mychal Massie. This year's award goes to Marc Morano of CNSNews.com. While he was nominated above for his role in smearing John Murtha, he's done so much more, as ConWebWatch has documented:
Morano has moved on to be a member of the communications staff for Republican Sen. James Inhofe on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, where he was even less bound by factual demands than he was at CNS. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Inhofe was the recipient of a pair of CNS articles devoted exclusively to him over a week's span in December.
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Our final award for the evening recognizes the role blogs have played for conservatives. But since they're just as prone to misinformation as the rest of the ConWeb, which calls for a new award: the Blog Botch Award for the most misleading post on the Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog.
This inaugural award goes to ... Dan Riehl, for his false attacks on "macaca" victim S.R. Sidarth. Riehl asserted that Sidarth was "making fun of an Hispanic William & Mary student's death" on an online bulletin board, implying racist intent. But not only did the person identified as Sidarth not make any racially oriented remarks, Riehl couldn't identify the alleged target of the remarks as Hispanic -- and also couldn't confirm that Sidarth himself made the remarks in question. While Riehl ultimately apologized to Sidarth on his own blog, Riehl World View, he didn't do so at NewsBusters -- and NewsBusters allowed Riehl to continue posting, something that normally doesn't happen to people who falsely slander others.
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That concludes our festivities for the evening. Drive your imaginary vehicles home safely, everyone -- that goes double for those of you carting home the hardware. We couldn't do it without you, and we hope (and, perhaps, expect) to see you again next year.