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Saturday, July 29, 2006
The Disconnect, Junior Division
Topic: NewsBusters

The folks at NewsBusters appears to be following in the footsteps of their Media Research Center bosses in developing a psychological disconnect, as its treatment of two certain personalities shows.

Matthew Sheffield starts things off with a July 28 harangue of Keith Olbermann, asking in the headline, "Why is This Man on Television?" Sheffield goes on to bash Olbermann as a "overweening, paranoid leftist" and "a bit of a narcissist" engaging in "bizarre antics, strange demeanor, journalistic ineptitude, and ridiculous pomposity" and making outrageous statements, and questioning the "mental acuity of the folks at MSNBC" for giving him a show. Sheffield further attacks Olbermann for getting facts wrong, which he said highlights the fact that he "most definitely is not ... a qualified journalist."

Now, these are all criticisms (changing "leftist" to "rightist," of course) that can be credibly leveled at Ann Coulter. In fact, change the political polarity and "Olbermann" to "Coulter," and you can post Sheffield's screed at Daily Kos. Yet the boys at NewsBusters continually run to her defense and engage in heroine-worship.

A post later on July 28 by Noel Sheppard illustrates this perfectly. In it, Sheppard complains that in a outdoor segment of "Hardball" during which Coulter made an appearance, MSNBC "decided to film the segment with an audience conveniently stocked with Ann Coulter haters," purportedly believing that "the challenger in the left corner, host Chris Matthews, was going to be outmatched by the challenger in the right corner." In addition to invoking the conservative shibboleth that Matthews is an unrepentant liberal, Sheppard offers no evidence to support his claim that MSNBC deliberately stacked the audience, nor for his later claim that the "people standing behind Coulter [were] strategically placed to always be shaking their heads in disgust on virtually every one of her words." During this appearance, Coulter called Al Gore a "total fag" and got her facts wrong on a South Dakota abortion ban -- which Sheppard failed to highlight.

Coulter and Olbermann engage in arguably similar tactics and traffic in the same kind of rhetorical excesses. So why is Olbermann excoriated while Coulter is given a free pass? Because, as we've noted, the MRC is a conservative advocacy group, not a "research" organization.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:49 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, July 29, 2006 11:39 AM EDT
More WND Undermining
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Even though Israel is embroiled in military conflict, WorldNetDaily still can't stop pushing its political agenda against Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert -- essentially doing what its writers have criticized liberals as doing to President Bush.

A July 29 article by Aaron Sichel, headlined "Israeli voices say Olmert too weak," continues the trend. In it is featured Michael Widlanski, described by Sichel as "a professor and frequent adviser to Israeli security and foreign policy agencies." A profile of Widlanski (where he has published three articles, which should give you an idea of his right-wing-friendly slant) describes him as a teacher of political communication at the Rothberg School of Hebrew University; his claimed area of expertise is in Arab politics and communication, and WND has previously quoted him in that context.

Sichel doesn't quote Widlanski critiquing Arab media but, rather, engaging in an attack on Olmert's military strategy: "It's slow, it's disordered and it's not very effective." Sichel also quotes him as saying, "Olmert isn't yet able to admit that disengagement didn't work," which WND was undoubtedly happy to hear since it plays into its anti-disengagement agenda. Sichel similarly collects other anti-Olmert and anti-Kadima statements.

Is this sort of political attack really the kind of thing WND, an longtime supporter of Israel, should be doing while Israel is engaged in military action against terrorists?

Posted by Terry K. at 10:09 AM EDT
Friday, July 28, 2006
Bozell's Accusations About Critics Exceed Facts
Topic: Media Research Center

Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell has issued an open letter to Rob Owen, president of the Television Critics Association, demanding that the association apologize to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes because "two-thirds of the 150 attendees in the room" at a press event purportedly walked out of Ailes' presentation "in protest of Fox’s 'conservative spin.'" According to Bozell, this "open contempt" for Ailes allegedly showed "personal intolerance and disdain for any point of view that doesn’t reflect their liberal ideology."

Bozell has no knowledge of the motives of the critics who allegedly didn't attend Ailes' presentation, and therefore has no standing upon which to broadly pronounce them guilty of "personal intolerance" of those who don't follow "their liberal ideology" -- and Bozell has no personal knowledge about the critics' political views, either.

Further, doubt as been raised as to the accuracy of the sole news article -- despite implying plural "[s]ources at the meeting," there is only one main documented source, Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin -- upon which Bozell rests his assertion that "two-thirds" of the critics walked out of Ailes' presentation. Oregonian TV critic Peter Ames Carlin, in a letter to Romenesko, claimed that "I have no idea what made [Garvin] think that two-thirds of our colleagues left the room before the Fox News session with Roger Ailes. ... To say the room emptied is simply not true."

Bozell might want to get his facts nailed down a bit further before he makes such overbroad accusations and assumes motives about which he has no personal knowledge.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:43 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 28, 2006 5:55 PM EDT
The Cash-From-Cads Conundrum
Topic: Newsmax

A July 27 NewsMax article repeats a New York Post item making a big deal out of Hillary Clinton not returning a campaign donation from the philandering husband of Christie Brinkley.

As with the Post, NewsMax makes no indication of whether it will enforce a similar marital-fidelity standard on all donors to every political candidate. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 AM EDT
Thursday, July 27, 2006
This Is A Smear?
Topic: NewsBusters

A July 27 NewsBusters post by Clay Waters claimed that the New York Times "forward[ed] without question a U.N. smear against Israel" in a article quoting a U.N. official saying that it protested to Israel during an Israeli bombing of a U.N. outpost in Lebanon, killing four peacekeepers.

Does that mean that Waters' co-workers at are equally guilty of smearing the U.N. for running a July 26 article by Julie Stahl that forwarded without question the suggestion that the U.N. was to blame for the peacekeepers' deaths because they were still stationed there?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:35 PM EDT
Good Timing, Ron
Topic: Newsmax
As if timed to coincide with our new article on him, NewsMax's Ronald Kessler has written yet another conservative-friendly article. This time, Kessler is serving up the "first interview" with Juan Williams regarding his new book, "Enough The Phony Leaders, Dead-end Movements, and Culture of Failure that are Undermining Black America—and What We Can Do About It."

In the article, Kessler plays up Williams' status as a Fox News contributor over his work as senior correspondent for National Public Radio, states that Williams "lashed out at leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who create support by focusing on 'victimhood'" and throws in his obligatory warm-and-fuzzy to President Bush:

But if black people want to help themselves and break through the culture of victimization, they can look to President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, Williams said. "Here's a president who's actually looking at the fact that these schools that serve an overwhelmingly minority population are failing to properly educate those kids."

Thanks for further confirming our suspicions, Ron.

UPDATE: We forgot to note that Williams' book is published by Crown, the Random House imprint with which NewsMax has a book deal -- a fact Kessler failed to mention. (The Prima imprint mentioned in the NewsMax article is now called Crown Forum.)

Posted by Terry K. at 2:14 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 28, 2006 3:56 PM EDT
So That Explains It! (Part 2)
Topic: The ConWeb
We recently noted that conservatives had suddenly become lockstep in their effusive praise of Oliver Stone's new movie "World Trade Center." Turns out there's a reason for that: The New York Times reports that Stone's studio, Paramount, hired Creative Response Concepts -- the folks that helped bring you the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- to market the film to conservatives.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 PM EDT
New Article: Ronald Kessler's House of Fluff
Topic: Newsmax
The formerly respected journalist brings his Bush hagiography skills to NewsMax, praising the White House and attacking its critics. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:57 AM EDT
At Long Last, A WND Lawsuit Update
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A July 26 WorldNetDaily article marks the first time in 3 1/2 years that WND has written a news article about the lawsuit filed against it by Tennessee businessman Clark Jones over an 18-part series of Al Gore-bashing articles. Based on the links at the bottom of the article, this is the first news article that WND has published on the case since December 2002. A lot has happened in those 3 1/2 years that WND hasn't told us about. For instance, the December 2002 article describes WND as being represented by the U.S. Justice Foundation in the case; WND's current attorney, according to the new article, is Larry Parrish. (WND, to our knowledge, has never publicly explained why the change was made.) We are presuming him to be the Memphis-based attorney by that name who is currently seeking appointment as Tennessee attorney general. A WBIR-TV news article describes Parrish as "an anti-obscenity advocate" who "in the 1970s prosecuted the stars and producers of the adult film "Deep Throat" in Memphis." While the WND article describes him as a "media lawyer," his FindLaw profile doesn't list media law as one of his specialties. A July 17 Memphis Commercial Appeal editorial endorsing candidates for local judicial candidates chose the incumbent, D'Army Bailey, for a circuit court seat in which Parrish was a challenger: "Parrish questions Bailey's judicial performance and ethics. However, we have to seriously question the ethics of a challenger who uses a case he has before Bailey as a campaign vehicle to attack the judge."

 The article is also heavy on pro-WND spin, as you might imagine. The headine calls it a "free-press lawsuit," and the only people apparently contacted in connection with the article are Parrish and WND editor Joseph Farah. Ironically, Farah is uoted as saying that "WorldNetDaily has made every effort to ensure that its reporting in this series –- and in everything it has covered – was fair, honest, truthful, balanced and accurate."

Such a one-sided story that WND has a vested interest in spinning to its benefit -- not to mention begging for money at the end of it -- is, by definition, neither fair nor balanced, a contrast to Farah's alleged mandate. How can WND possibly approach such balance? By posting all legal documents in the case on its website, as we've previously challenged WND to do. Needless to say, we've never gotten an answer.

Posting those documents might help to explain why WND has been virtually silent about this lawsuit for the past 3 1/2 years. Unless there's something in there that it doesn't want made public...

Posted by Terry K. at 12:33 AM EDT
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Crass Book Promotion
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jim Gilchrist and Jerome Corsi started their promotion tour for their new book by trying to profit off the victims of 9/11 -- their first stop was Ground Zero in New York, as a July 26 WorldNetDaily article notes.

The article quotes Gilchrist as once again making the mostly false claim that "The terrorist hijackers on 9-11 were in this country illegally." Perhaps making such a dubious claim while promoting a book on the backs of thousands of dead victims of terrorism might explain why there were what WND called "angry, shouting protesters" at their little photo op.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:29 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 11:34 PM EDT
ConWeb Jumps on Critic's Claim
Topic: Newsmax

Both NewsMax and NewsBusters have seized upon the claim by Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin that about two-thirds of the 150 critics present at a gathering left the room before Fox News chief Roger Ailes took the stage for a presentation, with several “voicing their scorn for what they say is Fox News’ conservative spin.”

But doubt has been raised about Garvin's claim. Another critic present at the gathering wrote to Romenesko and noted: "I have no idea what made him think that two-thirds of our colleagues left the room before the Fox News session with Roger Ailes." Garvin responded with his own letter to Romenesko standing by his claim.

NewsBusters has updated its post to reflect the question about Garvin's claim; NewsMax has not.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:59 PM EDT
The Undermining Resumes
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein was a good boy for a few weeks, but the WorldNetDaily Jerusalem reporter has returned to his undermining tactics against Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. A July 25 Klein article once again brings up Olmert's plan to withdraw from the West Bank. Uh, Aaron, there's a war going on -- how about reporting on that instead of undermining your country's leader with your own political agenda?

Speaking of strange takes on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, a July 26 article by Julie Stahl appears to blame the deaths of four United Nations peacekeepers killed in an Israeli attack on their outpost on ... the United Nations. The article's headline: "Kofi Annan Could Have Ordered Peacekeepers to Leave."

Posted by Terry K. at 2:06 PM EDT
NewsBusters Defends O'Reilly Over False Claim
Topic: NewsBusters

A July 26 NewsBusters post by Brad Wilmouth (repeated in a July 26CyberAlert) railed against Keith Olbermann for viciously smearing" Bill O'Reilly over his false claim that Americans massacred German troops in World War II at Malmedy -- in fact, Americans were the ones massacred by Nazis. Wilmouth claimed that "O'Reilly later corrected his mis-statement."

But did O'Reilly really issue a correction? Here's what O'Reilly said on the May 31 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, a day after he made the false claim in a debate with Wesley Clark: "In the heat of the debate with General Clark, my statement wasn't clear enough. ... After Malmedy, some German captives were executed by American troops." Claiming he "wasn't clear enough" is hardly a correction, much less an apology -- something one might think would be in order after falsely accusing Americans of committing a war atrocity. Would this "correction" be acceptable to Wilmouth and the MRC if it came out of the mouth of, say, Chris Matthews? We doubt it.

Wilmouth then defends O'Reilly, claiming that he "had no motive to intentionally fabricate a claim specifically about Malmedy." But while Wilmouth further claims that Olbermann "chose to attribute the worst possible motives to the FNC host's statement," motivation is not an issue here; it's a matter of properly correcting a false claim. And even if ascribing motives was an issue, how is Olbermann any different from the MRC? Wilmouth and his co-workers ascribe nefarious motives -- i.e., "liberal bias" -- to its political enemies on a regular basis. That comes from the top; Brent Bozell insists that the New York Times is motivated by a "left-wing agenda" (or is it a "far left-wing agenda"?). And Wilmouth's bretheren at regularly assume that Democrats act only for purely political reasons, an assumption it refuses to make about Republicans.

In other words, Wilmouth is criticizing Olbermann for doing the exact same thing his employer does.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:29 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 1:26 PM EDT
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
We Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means
Topic: NewsBusters
A July 25 NewsBusters post by Geoffery Dickens begins:

So there you are enjoying your morning coffee, perusing Sports Illustrated’s Web site for the latest training camp information on your favorite NFL team and then whammo, you get hit with liberal bias. Is anyplace safe from it?

So what was SI writer Peter King's grave offense? Recommending in an opinion column that his readers go see Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

Since when is expressing an opinion "liberal bias"?

Posted by Terry K. at 6:03 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 6:07 PM EDT
NewsMax Promotes WND Book -- And Its Dubious Claims
Topic: Newsmax

NewsMax and WorldNetDaily typically have very little to do with each other publicly -- and have even fired a few pot shots at each other -- but NewsMax has signed on to promote and sell the new WND-published book on the Minutemen by Jim Gilchrist and Jerome Corsi, complete with a fawning review of the book by Phil Brennan. Thus, NewsMax is promoting the same dubious claims regarding the book and its authors as WND.

A July 25 NewsMax article touts the claim that "The real number of illegal aliens in the U.S. is not 12 million, as the federal government claims, but closer to 30 million." No evidence is offered to support the claim. Similarly, a July 25 article by Gilchrist and Corsi calls the 30 million number "an estimate documented in our book" but, again, no documentation is offered here.

The NewsMax article also repeats the claim that "A number of the terrorist hijackers on 9/11 were in this country illegally" -- actually, it's a slightly more accurate version of the claim at WND that all of the 9/11 hijackers were here illegally. In fact, all 19 hijackers entered the U.S. legally, though two had overstayed their visas and were thus illegal at the time of 9/11.

UPDATE: WND did not publish the Gilchrist-Corsi book; World Ahead Publishing, best known for its questionable book of purported Hillary Clinton quotes, did. It appears that the wall between WND and NewsMax still stands.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:03 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 11:36 PM EDT

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