NewsBusted Topic: Media Research Center
Looks like we're gonna have to keep an eye on NewsBusters, the Media Research Center's group blog. It's proving to be as biased and error-prone as its parent:
-- Tim Graham in an Aug. 29 post on labeling at the Washington Post: "Ever notice how liberals like the Posties won't use 'pro-life' too much, because that would be calling the liberals 'anti-life'? Or they use 'anti-abortion,' but almost never 'pro-abortion'?"
The MRC, of course, has no problem using those loaded labels, as a CNSNews.com article from today conveniently details. CNS prefers the terms "pro-life" and "pro-abortion," as well as other labels designed to make conservatives look good and liberals look bad, as ConWebWatch has previously noted.
-- An Aug. 28 post by Vinny Fiore claims that antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan is "insisting" that "America is not a country worth dying for." But those aren't the words she said; rather, she said, "This country is not worth dying for," and there's evidence that the country Sheehan is talking about is Iraq, not the United States.
If that seems like nitpicking, note that later in his post, Fiore berates Sheehan for making "obvious misstatements" about President Bush. After quoting Sheehan as saying that Bush "always said that if you are not for us, you are against us," Fiore adds: "Bush has never said the above in relation to the American public. He has always said, though, to governments that do not take a proactive hand in defeating terrorism, that 'Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorist [sic].'"
-- An Aug. 26 post by Dan Gainor implies that concerns that a mercury-based preservative in children's vaccines are linked to autism are merely "radical environmentalist claims." In fact, you'll find articles about the subject on NewsMax and WorldNetDaily, not known for being radical environmentalists.
For instance, June 2003 WND article, reproduced from the late Moonie-owned magazine Insight (also not known for radical environmentalism), claimed that "vast majority of finger-pointing [about the causes of autism] has been directed at childhood vaccines as the culprit." And an April 2003 NewsMax column by Michael Arnold Glueck and Robert J. Cihak -- Chiak is is a past president of the conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons -- quoted a study that found "a strong correlation ... between dosage of thimerosal from childhood vaccines and the incidence of autism, speech disorders, and cardiac arrest."
Discover the Name-Calling Topic: The ConWeb
So, the giant pulsing brain that is David Horowitz's DiscoverTheNetworks.org has gotten around to posting its funhouse-mirror profile of my employer, Media Matters. Frankly, we're a bit disappointed, and for reasons other than the article's distortions and factual errors (which are no surprise).
Despite the fact that Richard Poe, managing editor of DTN's Moonbat Central blog, doesn't like me, I somehow escaped being singled out in DTN's Media Matters profile. Then again, I'm still waiting for a reponse from Poe to ConWebWatch's deconstruction of his 10-part WorldNetDaily series that involves something other than personal attacks on me.
Of course, if I had actually gotten any facts wrong in my article, Poe would have screaming it all over Moonbat Central by now.
Filtering the News Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah starts off his Aug. 29 column this way:
In another time and place, in a universe that seems sometimes far, far away, I was a member of the Old Guard.
I was part of the Media Elite, that effete corps of impudent snobs who filtered the news for the American people.
In fact, I had arisen to the very top of the food chain – the elite of the Media Elite, the small club of those who actually ran newsrooms in major metro dailies.
We're not sure that being the editor of a dying Los Angeles Herald-Examiner (shut down in 1989) qualifies as "the very top of the food chain."
But Farah is implying that because he's no longer part of the "Old Guard" media, he's not "filtering the news for the American people." Wrong -- the very act of operating a news service is the act of filtering the news. If you are deciding what news is important to your readers -- which WND does every day via selection of articles and their placement on the page -- you are filtering the news. Just because Farah's WND uses a different filter than other news organizations (one with a predeliction toward lies, distortions and an embrace of convicted felons) doesn't mean news isn't being filtered.
Which makes Farah, by his own definition, the same "impudent snob" he was in his pre-WND days.
ConWeb Ignores Lawsuit's Withdrawal Topic: WorldNetDaily
Remember that lawsuit last fall claiming that a California teacher was allegedly forbidden to teach about the Declaration of Independence to his students because it mentioned God? Well, never mind.
Via Americans United, we learn that teacher Stephen Williams has withdrawn his lawsuit against the Cupertino, Calif., school district, and both sides have dismissed all claims. Williams resigned from his teaching position a few days later.
Williams was represented by the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, which declared in a press release announcing Williams' lawsuit that it was about "whether it's unconstitutional to read the Declaration of Independence in public school." But, as ConWebWatch has noted, it wasn't about that at all; Williams had a documented history of using his classroom to advance his religious views -- to the point where parents complained and the principal began reviewing Williams' lesson plans and handouts in advance -- and the Declaration of Independence excerpt (not the entire document) was one of several document excerpts Williams was using to demonstrate the Christian origins of the founders of the United States.
WorldNetDaily reprinted the Alliance Defense Fund's press releases without bothering to contact the school district for a response. NewsMax columnists Phil Brennan and Kathleen Antrim repeated the ADF's overblown accusations against the school district.
WND and NewsMax thus far refused to offer any original coverage of the lawsuit's withdrawal, let alone anything equal to their coverage of the ADF's original accusations, even though the ADF has issued another overblown press release on it. The ADF release claims that its agreement with the school district "allows teachers, no matter what their religious beliefs, to use appropriate educational material (including supplemental handouts of historical significance) during instructional time that has religious content," but the San Jose Mercury News points out that "No school policies were altered."
WND has hired ADF general counsel Alan Sears as a columnist. This would seem to guarantee that more overblown ADF allegations will be promulgated by the ConWeb -- and that its failures will be quietly buried.
Massie's Claims Unquestioned by CNS Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 26 CNSNews.com article by Melanie Hunter does a fine job of reproducing a press release from the black conservative group Project 21. And, being a reproduction of a press release, refuses to question any of the assertions made in it.
The big assertion, of course, is that Project 21 member Mychal Massie likened Supreme Court nominee John Roberts to Martin Luther King Jr. That's not really news, since Massie is prone to bizarrely overheated statements, such as likening House minority leader Harry Reid to segregationists Bull Connor and Orval Faubus.
The purpose of the press release was to rebut another press release criticizing Massie's claim, issued by African American Ministers in Action, which Hunter writes is "described as a front group for People for the American Way" (though she doesn't note who's describing it that way). Hunter, meanwhile, describes Project 21 as a "black conservative group" even though it too is a "front group"; it's an arm of the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research.
Sticking with Project 21's script, the only claims from the African American Ministers in Action press release that appear in Hunter's article are the two short sentences Project 21 put in its press release; it includes the AAMIA claim that "John Roberts is no Martin Luther King, Jr." without any explanation of the reasons why AAMIA believes that.
Hunter also faithfully reproduces the statement that Project 21 "takes no position on the confirmation of any particular judicial nominee," but she fails to explore how likening Roberts to a beloved (except, ironically, by some conservatives) public figure such as King could be construed as anything other than an call to confirm Roberts.
New WND Columnist, Same Old Agenda Topic: WorldNetDaily
Alan Sears, head of the conservative legal group Alliance Defense Fund, has joined WorldNetDaily as a columnist. (And, coincidence of coincidences, Sears has a new book out.) Which undoubtedly means that WND will run even more of ADF's alarmist press releases of how Christianity is allegedly under attack; here's one WND ran a couple days ago.
We won't, however, hear much about the cases ADF doesn't win. More on that here this weekend.
WND Disingenuous Promo Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Ah, another day, another disingenuous WorldNetDaily promo.
An Aug. 25 promo for the day's Joseph Farah radio show note that his guest is Andrew Breitbart, longtime assistant to gossip Matt Drudge. The article notes that Breitbart's new web site, Breitbart.com, "features Associated Press and Reuters stories, along with the slogan 'Just the news'" and describes Breitbart as "the Internet entrepreneur whose 1-week-old news website is the fastest-growing site in the world."
But nowhere is it explained why Breitbart's site is so popular -- wire articles cited on the Drudge Report now link to Breitbart.com.
Given WND's attacks on the Associated Press and Reuters, why would it promote a web site that has only AP and Reuters copy?
Clinton Equivocation Watch Topic: Newsmax
Does NewsMax employ someone whose full-time job it is to equivocate any bad thing with something a Clinton (or someone close to him) did?
That would explain an Aug. 24 article rather lamely attempting to draw heat away from Pat Robertson's desire to kill Venezuela's Hugo Chavez by dredging up a 1997 call by then-Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos to kill Saddam Hussein, complaining that "the press voiced no objection at all."
If NewsMax had been around in 1997, however, it undoubtedly would have opposed the idea because simply it came from someone in the Clinton administration.
The Evil Marketing of 'The Marketing of Evil' Topic: WorldNetDaily
Well, not really evil; just dishonest.
We've already detailed how the effusive praise WorldNetDaily has forwarded regarding WND managing editor David Kupelian's WND-published book "The Marketing of Evil" appears to be little more than WND founder Joseph Farah calling in favors from his conservative buddies.
Now, an Aug. 24 article pimping the book performs a similar act of dishonesty. The article claims that the book "being met with both rave reviews and occasional fierce condemnation from readers," and examples of both are provided. The "rave reviews" are as rave as billed, but the "occasional fierce condemnation" are extremist rants.
It's a common (but slimy) rhetorical trick to portray the most extreme examples of criticism of what you do as representative of all criticism. It's the same reason why WND's preferred choice to fill its token "Out of Left Field" slot on its commentary page tends to be hard leftists like Robert Scheer and gay-friendly columnists like Deb Price.
No More Conflict-of-Interest Disclosures? Topic: CNSNews.com
Is CNSNews.com backing away from the one journalistic thing it did consistently and well?
On the front of today's CNS front page is the headline "Media Watchdog Report Finds CNN Anchor Has 'Negative View' of Free Market, followed by the promo line: "A report by a watchdog group finds that CNN's Lou Dobbs has a 'negative view' of the free market."
But the following hyperlink, instead of normal text like "Full Story" or "Read News on the Web," reads, "Read the Report." Clicking on it takes you to the Free Market Project -- like CNS, run by the Media Research Center.
Heretofore, CNS has generally done a good job of disclosing conflicts of interest; when it has felt the need to report on the doings of the MRC, it has regularly noted that it too is an MRC division. Is CNS dispensing with that journalistic pretense?
(A side note: CNS describes the decidedly conservative Free Market Project as a "media watchdog" and a "watchdog group," while in two recent articles referencing Media Matters for America (full disclosure: my employer), it adds qualifiers, describing it as a "liberal media watchdog group." But CNS has always had that labeling bias.)
Jefferson Smeared? Topic: Accuracy in Media
In an Aug. 24 Accuracy in Media article, Roger Aronoff seems to be protesting a bit too much about the idea that Thomas Jefferson may have fathered a child with black slave Sally Hemings.
Aronoff correctly notes that other Jefferson relatives could have been involved with Hemings -- but then insists that any claim that Thomas Jefferson hooked up with Hemings is "fake" and a "myth" without offering definitive evidence that he didn't.
And then there the headline on Aronoff's article: "Another Smear of Thomas Jefferson." Why is the suggestion that Jefferson had sex with a black woman considered a "smear"?
Be A Border Patrol Wannabe Topic: Newsmax
"Join the U.S. Border Patrol!" reads the link on NewsMax's front page today. Huh? The Border Patrol is trolling for recruits on a conservative web site?
Well, no. Click the link, and it takes you to NewsMax's store, where you can buy a Border Patrol cap. "Now you can stand on the frontlines of America's battle with illegal immigrants by wearing the US Border Patrol cap," the ad copy states. "Wear the cap everywhere ... and if illegals start running when they see you ... you'll have the last laugh."
Then again, the (actual) Border Patrol may not want recruits who succumb to ad copy like this.