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Monday, October 2, 2006
A Noel Sheppard Misinformation Compendium
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard has been on quite a tear the past week, spreading all sorts of misleading claims.

As we noted, in a Clinton-bashing Sept. 25 post, Sheppard claimed that most Republicans discouraged "Wag the Dog" claims about Clinton's 1998 missile strikes on Somalia -- even though the host of Sheppard's blog entries, the Media Research Center, did nothing to discourage such talk.

In a Sept. 27 post, Sheppard launched another attack on the Clintons, calling Bill Clinton "Billary" throughout and doing things like saying that they are "a couple that has done a better job of conning Americans than any other since Bonnie and Clyde." As we've also noted, despite purporting to "expose" bias, MRC employees have no problem using biased terminology when they think it's advantageous to them.

Sheppard dishes out all sorts of misinformation in a Sept. 29 post. In attacking Hillary Clinton's statement that "I’m certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled `Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside United States,’ he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team," Sheppard wrote:

What makes this statement by Sen. Clinton so astounding are the following sentences from page 128 of the 9/11 Commission report:

On Friday, December 4, 1998, the CIA included an article in the Presidential Daily Brief describing intelligence, received from a friendly government, about a threatened hijacking in the United States. This article was declassified at our request.

The title of this PDB was “Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks.” Somehow this little piece of history slipped the Senator’s mind. Makes one wonder what Sen. Clinton feels “taken it more seriously” means.

Sheppard failed to note what the 9/11 Commission report stated about Clinton's response to that PDB:

The same day, [counterterrorism chief Richard] Clarke convened a meeting of his CSG [Counterterrorism Security Group] to discuss both the hijacking concern and the antiaircraft missile threat. To address the hijacking warning, the group agreed that New York airports should go to maximum security starting that weekend. They agreed to boost security at other East coast airports. The CIA agreed to distribute versions of the report to the FBI and FAA to pass to the New York Police Department and the airlines. The FAA issued a security directive on December 8, with specific requirements for more intensive air carrier screening of passengers and more oversight of the screening process, at all three New York area airports. 

Sheppard returned once again to the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11," which he has unsuccessfully addressed in the past. he claimed that "the inaccuracies presented regarding events immediately before 9/11 were conceivably much more fallacious than anything surrounding what occurred in the ’90s." This time, though, we actually have an example of purportedly false depictions of the Bush administration: "Path painted a picture of an extraordinary amount of information coming into the FBI and the CIA in the days just prior to 9/11 that made it seem as if a fool could have connected all the dots" when, according to counterterrorism expert Michael Scheuer, " 'chatter' was indeed higher than normal, but that large volumes of information are always coming into such agencies." Sheppard then asks: "This raises an important question: given the factual misrepresentations of events in 2001 by this docudrama, why didn’t the Bush administration lodge complaints to ABC?" (Italics his.)

So, who exactly in the Bush administration was depicted doing these things that were less flattering than in reality? Sheppard doesn't say. Meanwhile, specific Clinton officials were depicted as doing things that didn't happen in reality. As we've noted, that little scene Sheppard cited is outweighed by Bush administration officials acting more heroically than the historical record shows.

Finally, in a Sept. 30 post, Sheppard claimed that a dustup between conservative William Kristol and Fox News host Shepard Smith "perfectly demonstrated just how wrong folks like Paul Begala and James Carville are when they suggest that Fox News is just a propaganda arm of the Republican Party." So does this mean that the MRC will stop calling CNN liberal because of the presence of Lou Dobbs? Didn't think so.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 4, 2006 12:05 AM EDT

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