A Record Obsession Topic: Media Research Center
With the current jump in oil and gas prices, the Media Research Center has renewed its insistence that the prices are not records:
-- An April 20 CyberAlert item by Brent Baker claimed that "the broadcast networks have been falsely trumpeting nominal oil prices as a 'record high.'"
-- An April 22 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker claimed that "Friday night the three broadcast network evening newscasts again hyperventilated over the 'record' high price for a barrel of oil, though adjusted for inflation, the only competent way to measure any price over time, current $75 per barrel oil is $12 short of the real record high set in January of 1981."
As we've previously noted, the MRC has not been similarly interested in correcting those conservatives who called a Democrat-sponsored 1993 increase the largest in history when, adjusted for inflation, a Reagan-era tax increase was the largest.
Joseph Farah, Victim Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his April 22 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah claims that "they're after me, again." In this case, "they" are People for the American Way, which Farah calls "the group that wins the award for having the most deceptive name" and "Norman Lear's brown shirts," and Media Matters, whom Farah calls "David Brock's leather-clad storm troopers." Both groups, Farah says, are "monitoring my dangerous writings."
In fact, both PFAW and Media Matters are merely accurately quoting what he said, so it's unclear exactly what the problem is.
(Full disclosure: I work for Media Matters and I co-wrote the article in question. Additionally, not only do I own no leather clothing, I believe I can safely say without violating work disclosure rules that possession of leather clothing is not a condition of employment at Media Matters.)
Godwin's Law notwithstanding, let's examine Farah's claim regarding Media Matters. Farah complains that "Media Matters goes on ad nauseum about my assertion, 'without any evidence,' that there are 20 million to 30 million illegal aliens in this country rather than the official number of 12 million."
1) In fact, only one paragraph of the item is devoted to rebutting this claim. More space is devoted to documenting Farah's claim that the "one-worlders" of the Council on Foreign Relations have a plan to merge the United States, Mexico, and Canada by 2010 and suggested that President Bush's proposed guest worker program is part of this plan.
2) Farah contradicts himself by first claiming that he has provided evidence of his claim "countless times in writing at WND" -- though he doesn't link to any of those claims -- then following it with the statement, "I'm guessing, too":
Heck, nobody asked me for any evidence, which I have provided countless times in writing at WND. Rep. Tom Tancredo, chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, agrees with my numbers. To my knowledge, it's the government that hasn't provided any evidence to support its official numbers. If someone can tell me how the government "counts" so-called "undocumented immigrants," I'd really like to know. Given the fact that these people are, by definition, "undocumented," I assume the government is guessing.
I'm guessing, too. But, while I have no vested interest in guessing high, the government most definitely has a vested interest in guessing low. So take your pick. Either way, it's far too many.
3) Actually, Farah does have a "vested interest in guessing high"; his outlier claim brings attention to him and WND. And in claiming that Tancredo "agrees with my numbers," Farah fails to disclose another vested interest: WND is publishing Tancredo's new book.
If Farah thinks that accurately quoting him is the same thing as being out to "get" him, well, whatever. But then, where would Farah be if he couldn't play the victim when it suits him?
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann highlighted a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll which shows President Bush's approval rating "plummeting even further" and, as the Countdown host observed, "for the first time in the Bush presidency," the President's approval rating among Republicans has fallen below 70 percent. This straight citing of Fox News contrasts with Olbermann's regular attacks on FNC with nearly every mention of the network on his show.
Meanwhile, we're wondering why the MRC hasn't torn apart this Fox News poll the way it did a CBS poll in March that showed a similar low rating for Bush? Does the MRC believe that since Fox News has come up with the same number, it must be true?
Wilmouth also repeats Brent Baker's silly claim that Olbermann "mocked" non-journalist Tony Snow's "journalistic integrity."
WND Still AWOL on Harris Implosion Topic: WorldNetDaily
Last month, we noted that WorldNetDaily had basically ignored news of Katherine Harris' swiftly imploding Senate campaign (though it did serve up an outside link to the story at one point). That record remains unchanged: Even with the exposure of the astronomical cost of a dinner Harris had with a scandal-plagued defense contractor (and the relatively miniscule donation to a fundamentalist Christian ministry Harris made to make up for it), WND has yet to do an original news article on Harris' problems.
'Journalistic Integrity'? Topic: NewsBusters
In an April 20 NewsBusters post on MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's report on the possibility that Fox News' Tony Snow is under consideration to be the next White House press secretary, Brent Baker wrote that Olbermann "ridiculed the journalistic integrity of Snow and FNC."
Snow hasn't worked as a journalist for years, if ever; Snow's bio describes his previous newspaper work as being either an editorial writer or a columnist -- neither of which is exactly journalism. Nor is being host of Fox News Sunday. Since Snow has apparently never been an actual journalist -- which, in the general sense of the term, involves news-gathering, not opinion-mongering -- he has no "journalistic integrity" to ridicule.
As for Fox News' "journalistic integrity," Media Matters will tell you lots of things that Baker won't.
UPDATE: Baker's item is repeated in the MRC's CyberAlert.
Farah Peddles Misleading Claim Topic: WorldNetDaily
In an April 13 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah repeats the claim, made by Bob Carter in a London Telegraph article, that "global temperatures have not increased at all in the last eight years." Farah claims that Carter's article "demonstrat[es] oh, so clearly, that all this global-warming rhetoric is just so much hot air."
Not exactly. As Media Matters points out, Carter's claim is misleading. While no year since 1998 -- the hottest year on record -- has been as hot, five different years since 1998 (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005) have seen warmer temperatures than any year preceding 1998, and 2005 is the second-hottest year on record.
For good measure, Farah repeats the misleading claim in an April 19 Al Gore-bashing column, claiming that "the central thesis behind all this scaremongering is false!" Of course, Farah has a deeply personal hatred of Gore (as witnessed by the legal defense fund he plugs at the end of the column, a fund he has thus far declined to be transparent about), so any pronouncements in that direction may safely be dismissed as driven by animus.
Mostert: Please Feed Me Government Propaganda Topic: Accuracy in Media
In an April 19 Accuracy in Media column -- a column sprinkled with CAPITALIZED WORDS, as demonstrated by its headline, "Why the American Media No Longer Even Knows HOW To Report 'NEWS'" -- Mary Mostert issues many opinions about news reporting on the Iraq war and journalism in general. For instance, she claims that the news media "simply do not know what news IS nor have they ever been taught how to report it. Instead, they have been trained from elementary school through journalism school how to report their opinions – not facts." She further claimed without evidence that the war is "reported largely from a protected hotel in Baghdad." Mostert concludes: "If you want to know what the military is doing in Iraq, your best source of information is the Department of Defense or the various military websites maintained by troops IN Iraq."
That would be the same Department of Defense that claimed that Pat Tillman was killed in battle when in fact he was accidentially killed by his fellow troops. And it's part of an administration that has undeniably misled Americans about the nature of the Iraq threat before the war.
We've written about Mostert before, noting her previous embrace of dubious facts.
More Disclosure! Topic: WorldNetDaily
Is somebody at WorldNetDaily reading ConWebWatch? Could be, because for the second time in the past few days, WND has -- in a change from previous policy, as we've longdocumented -- properly disclosed the WND ties of the people it covers.
In an April 19 article, WND actually begins by introducing Craig Smith as a "WND author and columnist." The only flaw is that WND didn't identify Smith as head of Swiss America Trading, a major WND advertiser. Still, this is a big step up from earlier this month, when WND not only didn't disclose Smith's WND ties, it didn't disclose that one of Smith's Swiss America employees wrote the article.
Does this mean that WND has decided that it has some shred of journalistic decency after all, after years and years of abuse? For the sake of honest journalism, let's hope so.
The New Meme: "Anti-Bush" Pulitzers Topic: NewsBusters
An April 19 NewsBusters post by Greg Sheffield claims that this year's Pulitzer Prizes were "given to anti-Bush journalism." This is a presumed reference to the New York Times' James Risen and Eric Lichtblau winning for disclosing the Bush administration's secret, possibly illegal domestic surveillance program and the Washington Post's Dana Priest winning for exposing the CIA's secret interrogation sites around the world.
This is a talking point that NewsBusters has been harping on since the Pulitzers were announced. Rather than being bothered by such dubious actions, NewsBusters has abandoned its watchdog status and has gone into full partisan mode, defending the Bush administration:
-- Noel Sheppard wrote that "three of the recipients wrote stories about top-secret military information that conceivably compromised America’s War on Terror." Sheppard apparently has no evidence that they actually did.
-- Brent Baker wrote that the Pulitzers were given to "reporters who exposed -- and thus undermined -- secret anti-terrorism efforts." Again, no hard evidence was offered that anything was, in fact, "undermined."
Baker also beat up on Pulitzer winner Robin Givhan, "a Washington Post critic who mocked Vice President Cheney's outdoor apparel and ridiculed the supposed 1950s-era clothing worn by then-Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' kids." Is Baker suggesting that Cheney wasn't dressed "to operate a snow blower" when he was at Auschwitz? Well, no; apparently, merely saying it is offense enough, as Baker called it a "notorious hit piece." Baker also fails to mention Givhan's critiques of Democratic fashion, such as Cynthia McKinney's hair.
Author Bails on Own Book; Will WND? Topic: WorldNetDaily
Another strike against WorldNetDaily's favorite book: Even the guy who wrote "I've Always Been a Yankees Fan," a collection of purported Hillary Clinton quotes, isn't vouching for the authenticity of the quotes contained therein. Thomas Kuiper said on CNN that he "can't verify" that the quotes are "100 percent true."
What do think the chances are that WND will report this development to its readers? Of course, WND publishes books by felons and liars, so this may not be a deterrent.
Aaron Klein's Selective Memory Topic: WorldNetDaily
In an April 18 WorldNetDaily article on Jews celebrating Passover at "the Tomb of the Patriarchs -- the second holiest site to Judaism," Aaron Klein yet again rehashes the history of Hebron, the West Bank town where the tomb is located, without noting the 1994 massacre of Arabs at the tomb by Baruch Goldstein.
Misleading Headline Alert Topic: Newsmax
An April 19 Associated Press article, as posted on NewsMax, has the headline, "Tom DeLay Conspiracy Charge Tossed Out." That's misleading; as the article itself states, what actually happened was that an appeals court upheld the dismissal of a conspiracy charge against Tom DeLay back in December. The other two charges against DeLay -- a money-laundering charge and another conspiracy charge -- still stand, as they have since they were filed.
WND Embraces Dubious Clinton Quote Book Topic: WorldNetDaily
In recent weeks, WorldNetDaily has been heavily plugging a new book of Hillary Clinton quotes, titled "I've Always Been a Yankees Fan," which it sells in its store. The book's title claim, as described in a March 16 WND article:
How about the her claim, while running for the U.S. Senate in New York, about being a lifelong Yankees fan. Only problem – she grew up in Chicago rooting for the Cubs.
That's false; she's a fan of both the Yankees and the Cubs. As Media Matters points out, Clinton's Yankee fandom has been long documented.
WND also claims that the quotes are taken from "extensive, attributed sources." But Media Matters notes that chief among those "extensive, attributed sources" are numerous anti-Clinton tomes whose veracity is dubious at best and can be counted on to have a hostile, biased (and, therefore, possibly inaccurate) take on anything Clinton says. The book's introduction was supplied by professional Clinton-basher Dick Morris, which is another clue to the book's intent.
NewsMax Smears Zinni Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax defends the Bush administration by attacking its critics in an April 18 article:
Former CENTCOM Commander, Gen. Anthony Zinni - who has called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign because of his alleged incompetence in running the Iraq war - admitted six years ago that he made the disastrous decision to have the U.S.S. Cole use the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling, where the ship was blown up by al Qaeda terrorists.
Worse still, at least one report indicates that Gen. Zinni may have played a role in an August 1998 leak that tipped off Osama bin Laden to an impending U.S. cruise missile attack - allowing the top terrorist to escape.
NewsMax makes no attempt in the article to respond to Zinni's criticism of Rumsfeld.