Then and Now Topic: NewsBusters
Back in September, NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein was defending ex-FEMA director Michael Brown from Katie Couric:
Chorus-leader Couric first grilled FEMA Director Michael Brown. Criticized about the lack of law and order, Brown said that by Sunday there would be 30,000 National Guard troops on the ground. That wasn't good enough for Katie, who after saying she didn't want to "belabor the point" went on to do just that, carping that "it seems like a pretty long lag time."
Katie then turned to the lack of funding to improve the levee system. "Why weren't federal funds allocated for that?"
Brown: "with all due respect to you, I'm focused on life-saving efforts now."
A clenched-jaw Couric cut him off rudely: "but that might have saved lives, Mr. Brown."
If you look in the dictionary next to 'disgruntled', expect to find a photo of former FEMA Director Michael Brown. As the Today show graphic read, "Michael Brown Blames White House," and NBC Evening News host Brian Williams was there to record every embittered word, with nary a nuanced question that might have probed Brown's account of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
Again, you might have thought that a reporter trying to present a balanced picture would have asked Brown how much of the responsibility could rightly be laid at his own feet. But Williams was content to let Brown cast all the blame at the White House.
What changed? Brown is no longer a Bush administration employee, and in criticizing the White House, he's violating the conservative dogma (apparently held by Finkelstein) that the Bush administration does no wrong.
Falsely Defending 'Intelligence Summit' Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa Lappen asserts that allegations that Michael Cherney (misspelled here as "Cheney"), the "industrial magnate and Israeli philanthropist" who helped fund the "intelligence summit" featuring Bill Tierney's interpretation of tapes featuring Saddam Hussein, has ties to the "Russian Mafiya" have been "already disproved and dismissed." The only evidence presented to support the claim is a link to a Jan. 11 FrontPageMag article -- also written by Ehrenfeld and Lappen -- purporting to make that case. But Ehrenfeld and Lappen fall short here too, with claims such as "Over the next several years, courts, law enforcement agencies and even Interpol exonerated Cherney of all rumored illegal activities across Europe and Israel" unsupported by any actual evidence to back them up and alleged "massive official documentation proving Cherney’s innocence" not specifically cited.
The FrontPageMag article also notes that Cherney was to receive "the first Distinguished Service Award granted by the Intelligence Summit." As National Review's Byron York noted, Cherney's organization, the Michael Cherney Foundation, is listed as the Summit's only "Platinum Sponsor," meaning Cherney contributed at least $100,000 to the event. So essentially, he was paying to give himself an award, a fact unnoted by Ehrenfeld and Lappen.
The writers also claim that the "intelligence community" was "attempting to discredit this conference." Yet conference participants have engaged in credibility-damaging behavior, such as Tierney's claim that God has helped him find purported weapons sides in Iraq, as we've noted and even conservatives such as NR's York also pointed out.
This, incidentally, is the first mention of Tierney and the "intelligence summit" in a WND article.
UPDATE: This info has been added to our article on Tierney.
Klein's Labeling Bias Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein repeatedly calls groups such as the Israel Policy Forum and Americans for Peace Now as "leftist," but it describes the American Israel Public Affairs Committee only as "powerful" despite its apparent conservative leanings (which it denies).
This follows a pattern we've observed of Klein regularly using terms such as "liberal" or "leftist" -- but rarely "conservative" or "rightist" -- in his Israel-related articles.
A search of the WND archives shows that the word "conservative" appears in only seven Klein articles, and he is applying that word to a political figure in only one apparent instance, a reference to "Conservative Rabbi Avraham Reisner" in a July 2004 article. But in this case, he may also be referring to the Conservative branch of Judaism, as described by Klein in an April 2005 article. The word "rightist" appears in only one Klein article, in a quote.
The word "leftist," meanwhile, shows up in 33 WND articles; an example is a Jan. 4 article that describes one group as "an extreme leftist Israeli organization" and a politician as a "[f]ar-leftist Israeli lawmaker."
Of course, given Klein's history of whitewashing the violent history of the extremists he lovingly covers, such behavior is not surprising.
P.S. In his mention of AIPAC, Klein also neglected to note the fact that a Defense Department analyst pleaded guilty to giving classified information to AIPAC lobbyists.
False Equivalence Alert Topic: NewsBusters
A Feb. 24 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd (expanded upon at the MRC's Free Market Project) asks why the media reported the connections Enron officials had with the Bush administration when the company collapsed, while it paid less attention to the fact that the CEO of scandal-ridden Fannie Mae "served in the Clinton White House and was speculated to be on presidential hopeful John Kerry’s short list for Treasury secretary."
Ummm ... because the Bush administration was in office at the time of the Enron collapse, while the Clinton admininistration has been out of office for five years and discussion of Kerry's cabinet picks is moot because he didn't win the election?
New Article: Some Conservatives Are More Equal Than Others Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb ignores doubts -- raised by their fellow conservatives -- about the credibility of Bill Tierney's claims about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Read more.
Preview: Bad WND Reporting Topic: WorldNetDaily
We'll have a detailed report on this next week, but we wanted to note this Feb. 22 WorldNetDaily article by Joseph Farah purporting to be an "analysis of Justice Department statistics." This article is a mess. it doesn't support the claims Farah makes -- specifically, that "the most likely victim of a hate crime in the U.S. is a poor, young, white, single urban dweller," emphasis on "white" -- the headline implies something the article doesn't support, and Farah ignores statistics from the federal study he cites that don't support his predermined conclusion, like any mention of sexual orientation as a motivating hate-crime factor.
In other words, it's basically the same junk journalism WND engages in. Stay tuned.
Equivocation of the Day Topic: NewsBusters
A Feb. 23 NewsBusters post by John Matthews claims that the Associated Press press was wrong (and, of course, biased) to highlight a "secret agreement" between the Bush administration and Dubai Ports World to take over the operation of six U.S. ports because such secret deals are routine.
Another Silencer Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell followed the MRC script in his Feb. 22 column, downplaying the news value of the vice president shooting a guy in the face. He bashed Time and Newsweek for putting "a dying story already eight days old" on its cover, adding: "But we already know every single bit of the story, having heard it hundreds of times over the last week."
Bozell also played the Clinton Equivocation game by noting that while the Cheney shooting was on the newsmagazine covers, "White House lawyer Vince Foster shooting himself dead in 1993 was not." Bozell engages in a bit of heresy here -- not by resorting to the Clinton Equivocation, but by stating that Foster committed suicide when conservatives all know that Bill 'n' Hil whacked him.
CNS Labeling Bias Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
A Feb. 22 CNSNews.com article by Monisha Bansal wrote about "the liberal League of Conservation Voters," but offered no descriptor for the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, which she quoted as criticizing the LCV's allegedly Democratic-leaning agenda.
SourceWatch calls CEI "neoliberal," but it describes the group "an ideologically-driven, well-funded front for corporations opposed to safety and environmental regulations that affect the way they do business," which sounds pretty conservative to us.
Thought Experiment Topic: NewsBusters
Using the same NewsBusters logic that declares that the media should no longer cover the Dick Cheney shooting incident because a majority of the public doesn't think it's news, shouldn't Brent Baker, Noel Sheppard, et al., be agitating for an end to the Iraq war since a majority of Americans believe it's a mistake?
Inaccuracy in Media Topic: Accuracy in Media
In a Feb. 21 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid wrote that columnist Molly Ivins is "an identified plagiarist. ... But she's still carried nationally by Creators Syndicate."
The Rest of the Story Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 21 WorldNetDaily article touts a petition signed by "[m]ore than 500 scientists with doctoral degrees ... expressing skepticism about Darwin's theory of evolution." Buried deep down in the article is a hint of information about the meaninglessness of the petition, noting that among the signers are those with doctorates in mathematics and computer science, disciplines that have nothing to do with supporting or disproving evolution.
It also includes many with more modest positions, like Thomas H. Marshall, director of public works in Delaware, Ohio, who has a doctorate in environmental ecology. The Discovery Institute says 128 signers hold degrees in the biological sciences and 26 in biochemistry. That leaves more than 350 nonbiologists. ...
Of the 128 biologists who signed, few conduct research that would directly address the question of what shaped the history of life.
Of the signers who are evangelical Christians, most defend their doubts on scientific grounds but also say that evolution runs against their religious beliefs.
Several said that their doubts began when they increased their involvement with Christian churches.
Some said they read the Bible literally and doubt not only evolution but also findings of geology and cosmology that show the universe and the earth to be billions of years old.
Foley-Fluffing at NewsMax Topic: Newsmax
A Feb. 21 NewsMax article by Dave Eberhart features the comments of Christopher Ruddy's favorite politician, Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), on the issue of an Arab-owned company operating in U.S. ports.
Foley, you'll recall, has been the beneficiary of much fawning NewsMax coverage -- and the recipient of a 2003 campaign donation from Ruddy, NewsMax's editor, president and CEO, two days before NewsMax ran an article praising him.
Correction Topic: NewsBusters
Bruce Rheinstein wrote to inform us that he is not NewsBusters contributor Mithridate Ombud, as we claimed in a recent article. The article has been corrected accordingly.