NewsBusters to Media: Don't Investigate Bush Topic: NewsBusters
It's not often you hear conservatives insist that the news media not investigate something, but that's what Noel Sheppard does in a March 22 NewsBusters post.
In attacking the Oregonian newspaper for seeking the release of "documents that could prove the existence of a potentially illegal domestic spying program," Sheppard claims: "The Oregonian has no pony in this race. Instead, it is clearly muckraking without regard to how it might impact national security and the war on terror."
Sheppard then argues that the Oregonian shouldn't investigate this case because "neither Congress nor the Supreme Court has yet determined the legality or illegality of this terrorist surveillance program" (using the Bush administration's preferred term for the eavesdropping program). He adds: "Shouldn’t it wait until such a determination has been made before filing a lawsuit over documents that might end up having been legally obtained?"
Sheppard missed the part where the Oregonian said that the documents it's seeking could "prove the existence of a potentially illegal domestic spying program." And the lack of a determination about legality certainly didn't keep conservatives from making myriad accusations of illegal behavior against President Clinton. For instance, do a search for "clinton and perjury" on the MRC's search engine, and you get 194 results, despite the fact that Clinton was never convicted of, let alone indicted for, perjury.
New Article: The Disconnect Topic: Media Research Center
A Media Research Center official insists that the media has a liberal bias, even as he admits that most news reports the MRC watches aren't biased. Read more.
Swift-Boating Olmert, Part 2 Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein moved into the next level of attacking acting Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, using a March 21 article to repeat accusations against Olmert's family -- specifically, according to the headline, as "pacificsts" and "army deserters." WND hurling dubiously sourced accusations at a candidate -- gee, where have seen that before?
Klein gives Olmert representatives no space to specifically respond to the accusations, but does provide three paragraphs (out of a 24-paragraph article) to a representative of Olmert's Kadima party to call the accusations "inappropriate and immature" -- followed by a quote from "an Israeli-based political consulting firm" claiming that a candidate's family is fair game.
Sounds a lot like the falseaccusations WND made against John Kerry's wife during the 2004 presidential campaign.
Double Standard Watch Topic: Accuracy in Media
In a March 20 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid was in high dudgeon about "the illegal leak of classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about the NSA surveillance program into planned al-Qaeda operations on U.S. soil." Kincaid added that at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), "[m]any applauded when I called for Risen to be prosecuted for publishing information benefiting al Qaeda."
First, Kincaid offered no evidence that disclosure of the NSA surveillance program benefited al Queda. Second, Kincaid's AIM colleagues were much less concerned about the possible illegality of another disclosure: the leaking of Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee memos in 2004, which conservatives pounced on as alleged evidence that Democrats colluded with special interest groups to block conservative judicial nominees. In three AIM articles by Notra Trulock on the case, on March 9, March 12 and April 27, 2004, the leak's legality is never discussed, despite the fact that the disclosure of the leaked documents resulted in the resignation of the person most prominently linked to the stolen memos, Manuel Miranda, from the staff of Sen. Bill Frist and a number of investigations into the theft, including one by the Justice Department. In fact, Trulock complained on March 12 that "[s]uch an investigation is unprecedented" and asserted that "these memos are only the tip of the iceberg."
Where was Kincaid's concern when these memos were leaked under questionable legal circumstances?
Swift-Boating Olmert Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has apparently decided to give acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the John Kerry treatment.
A March 20 article by Aaron Klein uses anonymous sources to allege that an investigation of alleged "multiple charges of corruption and illegal appointments" by Olmert is "being delayed until after next week's elections in which Olmert is running for top office." There are no on-the-record quotes in the article at all; Klein cites "a source close to the report" and "a spokesman for the Likud party," which stands to benefit from Klein's attack on Olmert (who is running in the Kadima party). Nobody from Olmert's side is given a chance to respond.
Klein and WND have long opposed Olmert and supported his opponent, Likud candidate Benjamin Netanyahu. A March 15 article accused Olmert of staging a military raid "to boost acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's campaign ahead of elections later this month." Klein added: "Israeli analysts have pointed out Olmert, who lacks a military background, has been loosing some ground on security issues to other candidates, particularly to Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, known for his tough stance against Palestinian terrorism." A Feb. 7 Klein article featured another anonymous source accusing Olmert of staging an evacuation of Jewish homes in the West Bank "as a tactic to win votes from leftist Israelis by demonstrating he is capable of withdrawing Jews from the West Bank."
UPDATE: What was it that WND editor Joseph Farah said about things said by anonymous sources? Ah, yes: he said they are "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better."
Selective Reporting Topic: Newsmax
In a March 17 article, NewsMax reported on a claim by Rep. Curt Weldon that Osama bin Laden is dead, but failed to note another newsworthy item from the same interview in which Weldon made that claim: Weldon's claims about the defense intelligence operation Able Danger appear to be falling apart, including a central claim that a chart that purportedly Able Danger identified 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta by photo prior to 9/11:
He [Weldon] now says that he's not sure the chart had a picture of Atta, as he has sometimes maintained, and that he has been relying on the memory of an intelligence analyst who helped produce it.
Meanwhile, other key players in the story, including [national security adviser Stephen] Hadley, contradict Weldon, saying they never saw Atta's picture. Moreover, several government investigations have failed to find any documentation so far that the program had identified hijackers before the attacks, and Weldon has begun to allow that there are parts of his story that may not be proven.
NewsMax has played up the Able Danger allegations and repeated several dubious claims regarding it, as we've noted (here and here).
More Abramoff Avoidance from WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's lack of interest in the Jack Abramoff scandal, despite its claim to be a watchdog of government corruption, comes in no small part because the scandal touches some of its favorite people. As we've noted, that list includes Rep. Katherine Harris (WND published her book) and Rep. Richard Pombo (WND editor Joseph Farah co-wrote a book with him).
Another person on the list is Rabbi Daniel Lapin. BlatherWatch reports (via TPM Muckraker) that Lapin is having financial difficulties, as evidenced by Lapin's organization, Toward Tradition -- of which Abramoff is a former chairman, and through which Abramoff funneled money to influence politicians -- leaving its rented offices to move into Lapin's home.
WND has run numerous commentaries by Lapin, most recently a pair of articles in February. WND also printed a Lapin commentary in the December 2005 issue of its Whistleblower magazine. Lapin contributed a blurb for WND managing editor David Kupelian's book, "The Marketing of Evil." WND promoted the launching of Toward Tradition in a 2002 article that also noted Abramoff's presence on the advisory board.
Given its numerous contacts with people involved in the Abramoff scandal, WND should own this story. Instead, it's running a protection racket to shield their roles from public view. Not exactly watchdogging, is it?
CNS Wags the Dog Topic: CNSNews.com
A March 17 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall looks at how "officials from the Bush administration fended off reporters' assertions that the main goal of "Operation Swarmer" was political, not military, in nature." Which is funny, because about this time seven years ago (and even after 9/11), CNS writers were making the same allegation regarding President Clinton:
-- "What has not sunk in as yet is the fact that America is at war – and it is a war – not merely to save Clinton's political skin by driving his scandals of the front pages but to supply him with the kind of legacy for which he desperately craves." -- James Henry, April 19, 1999
-- "Fearing a loss in ratings, the WH network rushed 'Kosovo Hope' into production, ordering an unprecedented full year of episodes. Based on the pilot series 'The Bosnia Hillbillies,' it was reportedly hand-picked by network chief Bill Clinton." -- David Burge, May 7, 1999
-- "In order to divert attention from his own impeachment trial, Clinton, in typical 'wag the dog' fashion, started the military bombing of Baghdad." -- Lisa Dean, May 3, 1999
-- "Was it Clinton's plan to 'wag the dog' with a war in order to shift media and public attention away from his personal, contempt-of court, campaign-finance, and espionage-coverup scandals? If so, it certainly succeeded." -- Phyllis Schlafly, April 29, 1999
-- "Clinton's bombing of Yugoslavia is a "wag the dog" scheme that has successfully diverted media coverage away from China's espionage and the Clinton Administration's cover-up, and away from the connection between China's campaign cash and its acquisition of U.S. missile technology." -- Phyllis Schlafly, April 15, 1999
-- "As the summer drew to a close in August, and Bill had to testify before the grand jury, Wag the Dog #1 followed. Ms. Madeleine [Albright] had been lied to about Monica but she blindly stayed with her boss as she got on the airwaves to tell us the bombings weren't wagging the dog but a sustained effort to rid Osama Bin Laden of his capability to harm the U.S. and it's worldwide presence. No one knew how to pronounce his name or who he was, but Bill and Maddie promised it was in the country's vital security interest. Whatever happened to that Bin Laden guy anyway? ... And then it happened again. Yes, Wag the Dog #2. This time it was Saddam Hussein who was threatening our vital national interest. Again, Bill was jeopardizing the lives of our military men and women. ... Now it's Wag the Dog #3, except this time it's not a person whose name we can't pronounce but a place we can't pronounce or find-Kosovo. Again, our military men and women are put in harm's way for political salvation." -- Timothy N. Tardibono, March 26, 1999
-- "Do you remember the Persian Gulf War and the women POWs that say they were raped as part of their torture? You've trashed the women's movement enough already, are you going to force NOW to again be deafeningly silent this time about women being raped and tortured to fulfill your 'wag the dog' games?" -- Timothy N. Tardibono, April 16, 1999
-- "But coming at the height of the controversy over Monica Lewinsky, the news media thought his actions resembled the scripting of the movie 'Wag the Dog,' staging military action to deflect attention from his personal problems at home. In retrospect, they were right because Bill's record on confronting terrorism -- or rather, his lack of one -- since that address, makes one wonder just how sincere and comprehending he was about the true threat of terrorism." -- Paul Weyrich, Dec. 5, 2002
My favorite picture of our two daughters is one I took in Galway, Ireland, in 1992. The photo captures them – 7 and 12, respectively – on their way to school, looking smart and proper in their jumpers, sweaters and natty little ties.
In the Ireland of 2006, you would have to look mighty hard to find this kind of imagery. In this, the age of the automobile and open rebellion against the old order, schoolgirls wear slacks now, uniform only in their slovenliness and their increasing broadness abeam.
Girls who wear slacks are slovenly and rebellious?
Milosevic Revisionism Topic: CNSNews.com
In apparent honor of Slobodan Milosevic's death, a March 16 CNSNews.com commentary by Julia Gorin ("a contributing editor to JewishWorldReview.com, where she has been chronicling the enduring fallout from the Balkan wars") described Milosevic's Yugoslavia as a "sovereign, emerging post-Communist democracy" where "rumors of genocide and ethnic cleansing" have "proved false."
Gorin's website leads us to a March 13 JewishWorldReview.com article on Milosevic's death, where she claims she's "not a fan of Milosevic, as I am an anti-socialist," but she sure seems to be rooting the guy on. She called Milosevic's tribunal at the Hague a "kangaroo court" and asserted that he had "embarrassed on a daily basis" the prosecutors in the case. She also claims that the Serbs that Milosevic led are merely "less guilty than their enemies."
Actual ConWeb Watchdogging Topic: CNSNews.com
Well, this is new -- an original conWeb report on the Duke Cunningham/MZM scandal.
A March 16 CNSNews.com article by Sherrie Gossett actually advances coverage of the scandal a bit, noting that a former intelligence analyst, William L. Cruse, will be interviewed by investigators. According to Gossett, whistleblower Cruse has claimed that "intelligence data was deliberately falsified over several years in order to justify the purchase of certain U.S. military weapons systems" in part from MZM.
This puts CNS ahead of WorldNetDaily and its hollow claim to be a watchdog of government corruption.
NewsMax's Slanted Attack on Olbermann Topic: Newsmax
A March 16 NewsMax article by Carl Limbacher Jr. on the feud between Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann was a predictably O'Reilly-loving, Olbermann-bashing piece, calling Olbermann's ratings "paltry" and at one point claiming that "O'Reilly's 4 a.m. repeat show regularly draws a larger audience than Olbermann's first-run prime-time cablecast."
But Limbacher also falsely portrayed the feud as one-sided, with only the obsessed Olbermann taking shots at "ratings king" O'Reilly. Limbacher fails to mention, for example, O'Reilly's threat (later acted upon) to sic "Fox security" on a caller to his radio show who mentioned Olbermann's name.
Limbacher also dubiously claimed that Olbermann "even has his show producers taping O'Reilly's nationally syndicated radio show looking for gaffes to replay on 'Countdown.'" In fact, Olbermann gets many of his O'Reilly clips from Media Matters (my employer). Limbaugh also fails to note any of the O'Reilly quotes Olbermann has featured.
Additionally, Limbacher fails at full disclosure, quoting "legendary news broadcaster George Putnam" without noting that Putnam is a NewsMax columnist.
Beyond the Clinton Equivocation Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax can equivocate anything -- even death threats -- and it doesn't have to resort to a Clinton analogy, as it frequently does.
In a March 16 article, NewsMax responded to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's claim that she and fellow justice Sandra Day O'Connor been the target of death threats, as well as Ann Coulter's "joking" that Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned, this way:
Neither Ginsburg, O'Connor nor the AP complained in 1994, when liberal commentator Julianne Malveaux "joked" about Clarence Thomas: "I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early, like many black men do, of heart disease."
Of course, wishing an unhealthy diet on someone is hardly the same as wishing for deliberate poisoning or threatening that Ginsburg and O'Connor "will not live another week."
Then and Now Topic: Media Research Center
From a March 14 Baltimore Sun article on a Baltimore radio station dropping Rush Limbaugh's show:
Tim Graham, an analyst with the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group, also played down the significance of the Limbaugh cancellation in Baltimore. "If you have 600 stations, losing one market is not something to worry about. If you go from 600 to 500, then you have a story," Graham said.
That's not the way the MRC used to feel about these things. In 2001, MRC division CNSNews.com declared that it was news that one of the more than 500 newspapers that carried Cal Thomas' column dropped it, advancing claims that it was evidence that it was evidence of a "house cleaning of conservatives at the paper."
Has the MRC decided that it doesn't need to have a cow over every perceived conservative slight? Well, not totally; that's what NewsBusters is for. There, Graham appears annoyed by the mere existence of Keith Olbermann.