Half the Story on Abramoff Topic: Newsmax
Both NewsMax and CNSNews.com want you to think that Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean is lying when he said that "There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money." In a Jan. 9 article, NewsMax claimed that Dean told a "fib"; a Jan. 9 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones merely regurgitated the flawed claim by the National Republican Senatorial Committee that Senate Democrats took money from "Jack Abramoff, his associates, and Indian tribe clients."
But Dean's claim is basically true: While Abramoff may have directed money through "associates and Indian tribe clients" to Democrats, all money donated under Abramoff's name went to Republicans; none went to Democrats. And as we've noted, the NRSC list lumps in donations by the PAC of Abramoff's former employer that Abramoff may have had nothing to do with.
Don't expect the ConWeb to explain the full truth to its readers.
Klein's Whitewashing Continues Topic: WorldNetDaily
With his Jan. 7 follow-up article on Yekutel Ben Yaacov's plan to create an "autonomous Jewish entity" in the West Bank, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein not only fails to report Ben Yaacov's history of violent extremism, he whitewashes his mentor, Meir Kahane, in the process.
As we've noted, blogger Richard Bartholomew has identifed Ben Yaacov as Mike Guzovsky, a one-time leader of the now-outlawed Kach/Kahane Chai movement in Israel, a group with a history of violence. Guzovsky/Ben Yaacov is on record as praising Baruch Goldstein for massacaring 29 Arabs in 1994.
Klein tells you none of this, even though he reports that the offices of Ben Yaacov's group were raided by Israeli security officials. You'd think Ben Yaacov's history of violence and support of terrorism might be worth mentioning as an logical explanation for the amount of police and military force used in the raid. He does, however, report the following:
In 1989, the late author and Knesset member Rabbi Meir Kahane, a mentor of Ben Yaacov, attempted to found the State of Judea, a Jewish state in Judea and Samaria. That effort eventually fell through.
Describing Kahane as merely an "author and Knesset member" nicely obscures Kahane's own history of racism and violence, so much so that his Kach party (which lived on as Kahane Chai after his 1990 assassination) was declared a terrorist organization by Israel. We suspect there's a lot more about Kahane's "State of Judea" that Klein isn't telling us.
How is it that Klein thinks asking God to kill Ariel Sharon is "fringe," yet the violent extremist backgrounds of people like Kahane and Ben Yaacov are not worth mentioning? Klein has a history of this.
NewsBusters No Longer Hearts Chinese Media? Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 7 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield laments that MSN has, obeying the Chinese government, started censoring blog posts.
But we thought you NewsBusters guys were big fans of the way the Chinese government does its media.
Getting Serious Topic: Newsmax
Having the likes of Wes Vernon and Jon Dougherty do its reporting, NewsMax has for years been far behind its competitors WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com in original non-opinion news. It may be starting to get serious: A Jan. 7 article on possible fallout from the fact that Duke Cunningham was secretly taping conversations for the feds has on its byline Paul Rodriguez, the former editor of the Moonie-run Insight magazine (killed off as a print publication in 2004, it lives on as a website). It's a surprisingly well-done story too, with only a couple of paragraphs far down in the article complaining that the Jack Abramoff scandal hasn't focused enough on Democrats (ignoring the fact that Abramoff did the vast majority of his personal dealings with Republicans, therefore that's where the focus is).
While Rodriguez does have those conservative-Moonie ties, he at least has a reporting pedigree to match Christopher Ruddy himself. That may not be saying much, but it beats the heck out of folks like Vernon and Dougherty, especially if NewsMax hopes to be taken somewhat seriously as a news source.
Rodriguez shared a byline with Anthony Kimery, who appears to have a history of focusing on homeland security issues (and was a contributing writer to Insight). He also appears to have written some Clinton-era scandal-mongering, though we don't know for sure since the links have gone bad.
Sharon Death Wish: Once 'Fringe," Now Acceptable? Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a July 2005 WorldNetDaily article, Aaron Klein reported on a group of what he called "fringe activists" who were "calling for angels of death to kill Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and thwart his Gaza withdrawal plan." Klein took great pains to paint anyone involved in the ceremony as "fringe," adding at one point:
Participants in the ceremony are not mainstream leaders in the anti-withdrawal campaign, which distanced itself from the Pulsa Dinura [ceremony, in which "God is asked to curse a sinner, usually an enemy of the Jewish people"]. Some participants have previously been accused of serving as provocateurs and damaging the settlement cause.
But WND has been quite slow to criticize Pat Robertson for suggesting that Sharon's massive stroke was a retaliation from God because Sharon allegedly was"dividing God's land." In fact, a Jan. 6 WND online poll shows that a majority of WND readers appear to have no problem with Robertson's statement.
Why is WND so squeamish about the Sharon death wish but not about Robertson's claim of divine retribution?
Klein Hides Background of Violent Extremists -- Again Topic: WorldNetDaily Bartholomew notes that WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein is again covering up the background of the Israeli right-wing extremists he interviews. It turns out that the "northern Samaria resident” Klein quoted in a Jan. 6 WND article as advocating the creation of an "autonomous Jewish entity" in Judea and Samaria (as Klein insists on calling it; it's better known to the rest of the world as the West Bank) is actually a terrorist and former leader of the extremist Kach/Kahane Chai movement, responsible for the deaths of numerous people.
Still Hiding the Truth Topic: WorldNetDaily
The question was not whether WorldNetDaily and NewsMax would run stories on Hillary Clinton's campaign paying a $35,000 fine for underreporting in-kind contributions from a 2000 fund-raiser. The question was whether they would continue their longstanding policy of refusing to report on the long criminal record of Hillary's main accuser in this case, Peter Paul.
They did. Nary a word about Paul's list of previous felonies or the fact that he's awaiting sentencing on yet another felony graces either article.
CNS Press Release Journalism Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
A Jan. 5 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones regurgitates a press release from STOPP International -- which claims as its mission: "We intend to cause such discontent with Planned Parenthood programs that it will have no choice but to close its doors and get out of town!" -- claiming that "the abortion chain works hard to prevent and limit the births of minority children."
Jones' idea of "balance" was to copy a couple sentences from Planned Parenthood's website. No apparent attempt was made by Jones to contact Planned Parenthood for a specific response to STOPP's allegations.
NewsBusters Stenography Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 4 NewsBusters post by Lisa Fabrizio does a fine job of regurgitating a National Republican Senatorial Committee list of "Senate Democrats who’ve accepted cash from [Jack] Abramoff and/or his clients." But that's not quite true; as the Hotline blog points out, Abramoff himself donated only to Republicans, not any of the Democrats on the list. Additionally, some of the money claimed to have been donated by Abramoff's "clients" was actually donated by the political action committee of the company Abramoff worked for, Greenberg Traurig -- described by Hotline as "a huge bipartisan legal/lobby firm" -- and neither the NRSC nor Fabrizio offer any evidence that Abramoff had a hand in those donations.
UPDATE: NewsBusters' MRC stablemates at CNSNews.com also regurgitate the NRSC release in a Jan. 5 article by Melanie Hunter, who also fails to note that none of that money came from Abramoff himself.
Didn't WND Get the Press Release? Topic: WorldNetDaily
While WorldNetDaily has more than 400 articles in its archive mentioning Terri Schiavo and the battle over her life, it has yet to do an original article on the case of Tirhas Habtegiris, a 27-year-old cancer patient at Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, Texas, who was removed from her ventilator last month because she couldn't pay her medical bills. She died 15 minutes later.
AIM vs. Soros Topic: Accuracy in Media
A Jan. 2 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid rants against George Soros, claiming that, among other things. "Soros has put some of his massive fortune into press groups like Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), the Fund for Investigative Journalism, and Center for Investigative Reporting." Conspicuously absent from Kincaid's column is any mention of Richard Mellon Scaife, the conservative moneybags who put some of his massive fortune into organizations such as the American Spectator and, um, Accuracy in Media.
UPDATE: AIM issued a press release condensing Kincaid's column -- and again failing to mention the millions AIM has received from Scaife.
NewsMax's New Anti-Hillary Topic: Newsmax
Eight minutes after posting a Jan. 3 article claiming that Nixon son-in-law Ed Cox would not run against Hillary Clinton for her New York Senate seat, NewsMax used another article to anoint former Yonkers mayor James Spencer as "Republican frontrunner in the race to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate." This comes a couple weeks after Jeanine Pirro's NewsMax-fluffed campaign against Hillary imploded.
In Spencer, NewsMax has something it really didn't have with Pirro -- a veritable font of anti-Clinton comments:
And unlike Mrs. Pirro - who, during her four month campaign, seldom criticized Mrs. Clinton for anything beyond her presidential ambitions - Spencer made it clear he doesn't intend to pull any punches, especially when it comes to the former first couple's failures in the war on terror.
Look for NewsMax to repeat every Hillary-bashing word Spencer spouts, no matter how inaccurate. For instance, in this article NewsMax quotes Spencer as criticizing Clinton deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick, "who erected the notorious 'wall of separation' that prevented intelligence agencies from sharing information with law enforcement"; Spencer adds the alleged wall "shows they were trying to apply that silly, appeasing, liberal mentality that also made our intelligence agents abroad check back with the pinheads in Washington before they could take any action." Of course, as we've notedeverytime NewsMax makes this claim, Gorelick didn't erect that "wall."
Stuff We Missed Topic: Media Research Center
A couple things that we overlooked while away from home base for the holidays:
-- A Jan. 3 MRC CyberAlert by Brent Baker (repeating a Dec. 21 NewsBusters post) praised CBS for quoting Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman as taking the Bush administration's position on the Bush administration's domestic spying without a warrant -- that is, that "the program is essential to U.S. national security" and that the disclosure of the possibly illegal spying "has damaged critical intelligence capabilities." But Media Matters notes that Harman also said something that CBS (and Baker) didn't report: "Like many Americans, I am deeply concerned by reports that this program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed."
-- Mithridate Ombud responded to our post about his/her post touting the UCLA study purportedly conclusively proving liberal media bias. He/she asks: "So you're saying that someone who was or is a conservative can't possibly conduct a study on anything that examines bias in the media? ... And by that logic, wouldn't it be fair to say that liberals can't report news fairly?" Well, Mr/Ms. Ombud, you and other conservatives already assume that "liberals can't report news fairly," so you also have to presume that conservatives can't be fair journalists either (which I demonstrate here on a regular basis). As long as you push the idea of your ideological opposites being biased, you open the door to the idea of your side being biased as well. Admit that conservative journalists are as biased as the liberal journalists you love to condemn, Mr/Ms. Ombud, and we'll have gotten somewhere.
Misleading Poll Touted Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 3 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard touts a Rasmussen Reports poll that found that “Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States" as an example of how "the nation doesn’t feel the Bush administration is doing anything wrong." A Dec. 28 NewsBusters post by John Armor touted the poll as well, as did a Dec. 28 WorldNetDaily article.
But the poll question apparently (based on this article; you have to pay to see the actual poll data) failed to point out one important aspect of this program: The intercepts are conducted without warrants or any apparent court oversight. Putting that in the question would likely produce a different result.