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Saturday, October 8, 2011
WND Cheerfully Repeats Judicial Watch's Smears of Michelle Obama
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Bob Unruh dutifully regurgitates right-wing attacks on Michelle Obama in his Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article highlighting Judicial Watch's claim that a "family safari" to Africa was a waste of taxpayer money. Unruh uncritically repeats Judicial Watch'as attack while making no apparent effort to obtain any other side of the story that disagrees with WND's anti-Obama agenda -- a dereliction of journalism we're all too familiar with from Unruh.

But as Media Matters points out, then-first lady Laura Bush went on a similar "family safari" to Africa in 2005 with her adult twin daughters to no apparent criticism from Judicial Watch (nor from WND). Judicial Watch also baselessly classifies Obama's visit to Nelson Mandela as "tourism" even though he's a former head of state.

Unruh makes a point of claiming that, according to Judicial Watch, "the costs of the military airplane used for the trip were in the range of $425,000." In fact, according to ABC, a senior White House official called the figure "misconstrued and out of context." ABC also debunks another Judicial Watch claim dutifully repeated by Unruh, that Malia and Sasha Obama were listed as "senior staff" on the trip -- that was a designation of the section of the plane where they sat, not of the people who sat there. Neither Unruh nor Judicial Watch explain why they think it would be better for you children to sit away from their mother.

When you uncritically repeat some activist's outlandish claims like Unruh does, you tend to overlook such things.

But that's just the beginning of Unruh's perfidy here. He goes on to reference how "The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom touted the $10 million in public money Michelle Obama has spent on her 'vacations'":

"Branding her 'disgusting' and 'a vacation junkie,' [reports] say the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been indulging in five-star hotels, where she splashes out on expensive massages and alcohol," the London paper said.

The report said Michelle Obama is believed to have taken 42 days of vacation in the last year, including a respite in Spain that cost $375,000 and a $2,000-a-night ski trip to Vail, Colo.

But the Daily Mail report in question takes its information from the National Enquirer, which in turn cites no verifiable sources. Anonymous, unverifiable sourcing may be a staple of supermarket tabloids and shady British newspapers (not to mention WND), but it's hardly sound journalism.

(The Daily Mail has also had recent problems with plagiarism and false reporting, things WND is not unfamiliar with as well.)

Unruh even tosses in some long-discredited claims about Nancy Pelosi, claiming that Judicial Watch found that "taxpayers spent $101,000 for in-flight food and alcohol for her during that time period." In fact, the money was not spent "for her"; the money covered congressional delegations arranged through Pelosi's office, some of which included Republican members of Congress.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:25 AM EDT

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