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Monday, September 4, 2006
Farah Defends, Endorses Harris
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah dedicated his Sept. 4 column to defending Florida congresswoman Katherine Harris -- which makes him one of the very few people on the planet to do so. He overlooks a lot of stuff in the process. No mention of, say, Harris' links to scandal-tainted defense contractor Mitchell Wade -- heck, if WND didn't report it, it didn't happen, as far as Farah is concerned. And it didn't, beyond mentioning her in passing in an article last December; the only other appearance by Harris in a WND news article is a June article by Jerome Corsi that is focused on scaremongering about a so-called North American super-state.

No, Farah focused very narrowly on what he called an "L.A. Times hit piece" on Harris. Even though Farah repeated the article's recounting that she "lost a dozen key campaign staffers in the home stretch, advertised endorsements she didn't get and failed to pick up a single recommendation from Florida's leading newspapers," he didn't address that at all; rather, he even more narrowly defended only her statements that the separation of church and state "a lie we have been told" and "so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers," as well her statement that only Christians should serve in Congress because otherwise it will "legislate sin." Harris was "simply representing mainstream evangelical thought," Farah wrote.

Farah also recalled his encounters with her as they worked on her (ghostwritten) book, the first book published under the WND Books imprint (which, despite being what Farah called a "valuable collectors item," the WND store is currently unloading for a low, low $6.95): "I was surprised by the person I met back then – because she wasn't anything like the media depictions of her. She was diminutive. She was attractive. She was extremely bright and warm – not the cold, harsh character I saw on the news throughout the 2000 election dispute."

Farah concluded: "So don't be fooled, Floridians. Do the right thing tomorrow. Vote for Harris." But isn't Farah fooling Floridians as well by failing to address the many other controversies surrounding her? 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:07 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 4, 2006 9:15 PM EDT
Sunday, September 3, 2006
WND Misrepresents Quote on Social Darwinism
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An alert ConWebWatch reader noted that amid all of the work WorldNetDaily undertook to promote a new video by D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries linking Darwinism to Adolf Hitler (and downplay the controversy of Coral Ridge's unauthorized misuse of comments by Human Genome Project director Francis Collins, it misrepresented the views of a scientist on the issue.

From an Aug. 23 WND article:

Even Niles Eldredge, curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said there's a link.

"Social Darwinism," he wrote, "has given us the eugenics movement and some of its darker outgrowths, such as the genocidal practices of the Nazis in World War II – where eugenics was invoked as a scientific rationale to go along with whatever other 'reasons' Hitler and his fellow Nazis had for the Holocaust."

By throwing this quote in, WND conflates social Darwinism and evolutionary theory. But even Coral Ridge didn't misrepresent Eldredge the way WND did. An essay by Tom DeRosa on the Coral Ridge website containing Eldredge's quote notes -- as WND doesn't -- that Eldredge regards social Darwinism "as an illegitimate offspring of Darwin’s theory."

DeRosa ultimately joins WND in conflating social Darwinism and evolution. While he does note that "contemporary apologists of Darwin" make a distiction between the two, he dismisses it: "Today when evolutionists are questioned as to how Darwinian evolution gave birth to Hitler’s Nazism, they immediately want to beg the question, answering that racism has nothing to do with science. They are correct! Racism has nothing to do with science, but it has everything to do with evolution—a fact that is unavoidable."

The distinction is important, since the aim of Kennedy and Coral Ridge is to discredit evolutionary theory as a whole -- not just social Darwinism, a application Darwin did not promote -- by linking it to Hitler.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:47 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 3, 2006 12:12 PM EDT
Saturday, September 2, 2006
Bozell Quits as PTC President
Topic: Media Research Center

Media Research Center president Brent Bozell has quit his other job, president of the Parents Television Council.

While the wire services are focusing on what the PTC has accomplished in pushing for a federal crackdown on allegedly indecent content on TV, they are ignoring Bozell's one notorious failure: his false accusations against World Wrestling Entertainment over the Lionel Tate case, in which a 12-year-old boy killed a 6-year-old girl. Bozell claimed that WWE was liable because the boy was allegedly imitating wrestling moves when he killed the girl.

The PTC was ultimately forced to pay $3.5 million and issue an public retraction and apology to WWE. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:11 PM EDT
Kincaid's Latest Anti-Gay Crusade
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid, a man with a history of bizarre anti-gay crusades -- from obsessing over Rachel Maddow to demanding that homosexual behavior be treated as a public health hazard akin to smoking -- has embarked on a new one: This time, he's claiming that spending money on AIDS research is a waste.

This attempt at a meme first showed up in an Aug. 15 AIM Report item (repeated in an Aug. 17 column by Kincaid, in which he notes that "the U.S. has spent about $200 billion on HIV/AIDS—and an AIDS vaccine—since 1981," but no AIDS vaccine has been found:

Can you imagine any other federal effort of this magnitude that would be spared from serious criticism? The explanation, of course, lies in the fact that spending on AIDS is politically protected. The more money spent, the better. That was the policy under Clinton and it has been continued under Bush. This "bridge to nowhere" gets more money, not less.

(As we previously noted, this is the same article in which Kincaid also opposed mandatory, and even possibly voluntary, use of the cervial cancer-stopping HPV vaccine.)

Kincaid expanded on this idea in an Aug. 23 column called "The AIDS Scam," in which he declared that "the AIDS problem was exaggerated by the United Nations so that more money would flow through the world body and other international channels to combat it." Kincaid also attack Republican Sen. Bill Frist for teaming with Democrats to "expand the fight against global HIV/AIDS":

Senator Frist, a medical doctor, was attacked by the liberal media when he suggested, based on a review of a videotape of the disabled woman, Terri Schiavo, that she deserved a chance to live because she appeared to be conscious. Her husband later pulled the plug on her. But Frist has never been criticized by the major media for jumping on the AIDS bandwagon. To the media, AIDS is a sacred cause, like the U.N. itself. 

As we've noted, the videotape from which Frist made his "diagnosis" was an edited five-minute clip taken from four hours of videotape shot by Schiavo's parents and supporters -- the unedited version of which they have refused to publicly release. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:53 AM EDT
Friday, September 1, 2006
WND Ratchets Up Anti-Gay Rhetoric
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily is really going to town on the anti-gay stuff this week. First, it served up misleading, alarmist rhetoric on a new non-discrimination law in California. Now, it's going after Wal-Mart for joining the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

A Sept. 1 WND article reported that Wal-Mart officials described its affiliation as "just another routine business outreach" and that "other major corporations are doing the same types of things," then ominiously added: "However, conservatives and Christians see it differently." But the only person critical of the decision cited in the article is Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. So, in fact, it's not all "conservatives and Christians" who "see it differently"; it's just WND and the FRC.

And Kevin McCullough, too. WND linked that article to a Sept. 1 WND column by McCullough, who engages a whole host of misleading anti-gay rhetoric, claiming that Wal-Mart is "spending resources in time, attention and money to promote same-gender sexual behavior" and accusing Wal-Mart of "succumbing to the threats" of "hateful activists" and becoming "needlessly ... entangled with ugly radical, sexual activism." McCullough then added a little guilt-by-association smear to the mix:

Why will Wal-Mart spend monetary resources to help fund conferences that promote same-gender sexual behavior? Would they do the same for adulterers? Pedophiles? Men who like sheep?

McCullough also linked to a misleading, hyperbolic FRC flyer that claimed that Wal-Mart is "pander[ing] to radical homosexual activists," "supporting homosexual activism" and "us[ing] consumer dollars to fund radical social activism." The FRC offers no evidence to back up its claim that the NLGCC engages in "radical social activism." Nevertheless, McCullough urged his readers to "[p]rint out this flyer, print out dozens. Hand them out at church, to your neighbors and to the customer service desk of your local Wal-Mart."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:29 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 1, 2006 2:10 PM EDT
Deploring Death Threats Is 'Anti-Conservative'?
Topic: NewsBusters

In his Sept. 1 NewsBusters post (and CyberAlert item) criticizing the Aug. 31 edition of Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show for "[h]osting interviews with three Bush critics from the left," Brad Wilmouth noted that Olbermann "rounded up his big anti-conservative night by naming conservatives Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Senator Conrad Burns as his three nominees for his regular 'Worst Person in the World' segment." While Wilmouth attached "relevant portions" of transcripts to his item, he did not include the transcript to the "Worst Person in the World" segment.

Why is that? At least one nominee engaged in behavior that presumably would be objectionable even if she were not conservative -- Ann Coulter, who titled her latest column attacking Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, "They Shot the Wrong Lincoln."

Is Wilmouth condoning death threats? By calling Olbermann's inclusion of Coulter on that list for that offense "anti-conservative," is Wilmouth saying that it is "conservative" to issue death threats against anyone you disagree with? Sure, conservatives have been stony silent about Coulter's long history of wishing violence on her political enemies, but the idea that this is now official conservative modus operandi is disturbing, to say the least.

Wilmouth might want to clear that up.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:51 PM EDT
WND Again Misrepresents eBay Ban
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 1 WorldNetDaily article -- as did an earlier WND article -- misrepresents an eBay ban on selling teacher's editions of schoolbooks. The second paragraph of the article claims that "teacher's guides for homeschool curricula no longer would be allowed on its auction site."

In fact, as the article itself states several paragraphs later, the ban is inclusive of all teacher's texts, not just those related to homeschooling. That fact, however, never made it to the start of the article.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:10 AM EDT
We Write Letters
Topic: NewsBusters

To: Matthew Sheffield, NewsBusters executive editor

Dear Mr. Sheffield:

In an Aug. 25 NewsBusters post, Dan Riehl asserted that asserted that S.R. Sidarth, the worker for the James Webb campaign whom Sen. George Allen called a "macaca," was "making fun of an Hispanic William & Mary student's death." In fact, not only did the person alleged to be Sidarth not "make fun" of the dead student, Riehl offered no evidence that the student was, in fact, Hispanic. By repeatedly bringing up the dead student's alleged ethnicity, Riehl implied that Sidarth was acting in a racist manner -- something else for which Riehl offered no evidence.

Later on Aug. 25, Riehl issued another NewsBusters post in which he implied that Sidarth may be lying when he told Riehl that he never posted to the discussion board Riehl accuses him of posting on. 

Meanwhile, on his own blog, Riehl was making more serious accusations against Sidarth regarding discussion board posts -- which he was forced to retract because he had no proof that Sidarth, in fact, made those posts.

Given that Riehl made some of these false accusations and implications against Sidarth at NewsBusters, will you be asking Riehl to correct and/or retract his posts and issue an formal, public apology to Sidarth at NewsBusters?


Terry Krepel
Editor, ConWebWatch

Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 AM EDT
Thursday, August 31, 2006
NewsBusters Cites Olbermann-Haters as Source
Topic: NewsBusters

An Aug. 30 NewsBusters post (and Aug. 31 CyberAlert item) by Brent Baker takes Keith Olbermann to task for his "vitriolic personal attack on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld." after noting that Olbermann chastised Rumsfeld because in a speech he "compared critics of the current war in Iraq to those who tried to appease Adolf Hitler and the Nazis before World War II," Baker noted: "In fact, Rumsfeld simply worried about how not all realize how “we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism” from the Islamic world."

That link (which does not appear in the CyberAlert version) goes to a site called Olbermann Watch. In the post Baker links to -- by "Johnny Dollar" (aka Mark Koldys, the pro-Fox News blogger who has previously posted at NewsBusters, a little insider dealing that Baker perhaps should have disclosed) -- Olbermann is described as "infamous," "deplorable," "Krazy Keith," "a consummate opportunist," and "Herr Olbermann." Koldys also called Olbermann's viewers "credulous cretins." Doesn't exactly sound like the place to go for a objective, balanced view of anything regarding Olbermann.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:20 PM EDT
Copy-and-Paste Journalism
Topic: Newsmax

An Aug. 31 NewsMax article read rather strange to our eyes. While its central claim is that the Defense Department "has called on the Associated Press to correct a report that it says mischaracterized a speech by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld," it didn't read like an AP article, which NewsMax is a subscriber to. Though at first glance it seems like an AP-generated article, there are numerous references to "Secretary Rumsfeld" throughout the piece, which is not AP style. Did AP resume its practice of editing AP articles to conform with NewsMax house style (which it has done in the past, for instance, changing "Democratic" to "Democrat")?

As it turns out, the article comes from a Voice of America report -- but NewsMax credits VOA nowhere in the article, which carries a " Wires" byline. As far as we know, VOA does not syndicate its material through AP or any other wire service. NewsMax apparently just copied and pasted the VOA article into its own website.

 According to VOA's terms of use, "Credit for any use of VOA material should be given to, Voice of America, or VOA." It's bad journalistic form to not credit the sources of your information.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:43 PM EDT
WND Keeps Up Misleading, Alarmist Tone on Calif. Law
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily continues to push a misleading, alarmist tone over a new California law adding "sexual orientation" to the non-discrimination provisions that groups receiving state money must abide by. An Aug. 31 WND article begins by claiming that California is promoting a "state-mandated pro-homosexual environment." WND again misleadingly describes the bill, claiming that it is "requiring even Christian colleges where students receive state grants to condone homosexuality, transsexuality and bisexuality" (italics theirs).

The bulk of the article consists of alarmist quotes by Charles B. Lowers, "executive director of the pro-family Considering Homeschool organization":

-- "School-based 'clinics' are expanding … to ensure that your daughters get birth control and abortions without you knowing. Now that the homosexuals are dictating curriculum, 80-90 percent of Christians should be homeschooling, not the other way around."

-- "Public school is no place for innocent little kids. If they don't get molested by the John Karrs who are in the system, their minds and hearts will be molested by the curriculum," he said.

-- "Instead of the traditional three R's in California's public schools, children are learning Rebelliousness, Relativism, and an R-rated lifestyle."

-- In California, the public schools are controlled "by a group of elitist, leftist, homosexual socialists."

Needless to say, no contrary view was included.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:48 AM EDT
NewsMax Nonsense
Topic: Newsmax

-- It must be official NewsMax policy to regularly run an article attacking John McCain. This time around, Bush-fluffer and frequent McCain attacker Ronald Kessler does the deed with an article claiming that McCain "had trouble controlling his anger long before he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam," adding that "the media have run few details of McCain's bouts with malignant melanoma, a deadly form of cancer that can spread quickly throughout the body."

-- NewsMax apparently never gets tired of bringing up Robert Byrd's long-past association with the KKK. It does so again in its Aug. 27 "Insider Report." The article also repeats a misleading claim, first advanced last September, that in his autobiography, "Byrd failed to renounce the Klan – and even defended it, claiming it was largely a men's social organization." In fact, in his autobiography, Byrd has called his Klan involvement "an extraordinarily foolish mistake," adding: "I displayed very bad judgment, due to immaturity and a lack of seasoned reasoning."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 AM EDT
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Speaking of Authoritative Figures ...
Topic: NewsBusters

An Aug. 29 NewsBusters post (and Aug. 30 CyberAlert item) attacked NBC's Brian Williams over his interview of President Bush for citing a comment made by "left-wing professor Michael Eric Dyson," who had earlier claimed that, as Baker put it, "Barbara Bush's suggestion -- that many victims were better off in their new cities -- 'reinforced the reputation of the Bushes as clueless patricians.' " Baker added: "Williams confronted President George W. Bush Tuesday with the insult, as if Dyson is some sort of authoritative figure."

No word yet on what Baker thinks of who Fox News considers an authoritative figure to defend the Bush administration: Don King

Posted by Terry K. at 10:47 PM EDT
NewsMax Tweaks WND Right Back
Topic: Newsmax

A few days back, WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah took NewsMax to task for endorsing Charlie Crist as the Republican nominee in the Florida governor's race over Farah's preferred candidate, Tom Gallagher. NewsMax appears to be responding by pumping up its pro-Crist coverage and its attacks on Gallagher.

An Aug. 29 article portrayed the race as "getting red hot and a bit nasty," then blamed the nastiness on Gallagher: "Gallagher first breached Reagan’s 11th Commandment ("Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of a Fellow Republican") when he released a campaign ad charging that Crist is pro-choice, favors a liberal spending plan, and supports gay civil unions." NewsMax added that "Florida’s Gov. Jeb Bush, who has been unwaveringly neutral, felt the need to enter the fray by coming out publicly to state that Gallagher’s claims were false, saying Crist is a solid conservative."

An Aug. 30 article, meanwhile, promoted polls showing that Crist has "jumped into a big lead" over Gallagher.

Your move, Mr. Farah. We suggest checking into whether Christopher Ruddy has donated to Crist's campaign. After all, Ruddy does have a history of giving favorable news coverage to those he has given cash to.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:36 PM EDT
Rich Noyes Is An Airhead!
Topic: Media Research Center

It's never a good sign when your purportedly exhaustively researched "special report" counts an easily disproved distortion as one of its signature claims.

A new Media Research Center "special report" by Rich Noyes purports to document how new CBS Evening News host Katie Couric "pushed a liberal political agenda during her 15 years as co-host of NBC’s Today." One of its signature claims, as promoted in an Aug. 29 press release announcing the report: "Deploring Ronald Reagan with insults such as 'The Gipper was an airhead!' " In the introduction to the report, Noyes expands this somewhat:

In 1999, Couric decided to begin the Today show by insulting Ronald Reagan: "Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead!" Two days later, the author of the Reagan biography she was supposedly summarizing told Couric she’d gotten it exactly backwards: "Oh, good God, no!" author Edmund Morris upbraided Couric. "He was a very bright man."

In the section of the report substantiating the claim, Noyes includes the original "airhead" quote, a snippet of an interview Couric did with Morris two days later in which Morris denied saying that, and a transcript from a 2002 Couric interview with Ann Coulter, headlined "Couric Re-Writes History," in which Couric takes offense to Coulter's description of the incident in her book "Slander."

What Noyes fails to note is the context in which Couric made the comment. As The Daily Howler's Bob Somerby reported:

Why did Couric say what she did? Because everyone thought it was true. Indeed, despite the picture painted in Slander, many conservatives were slamming Morris for what he had said about Ron.

Noyes' reporting of Morris's denial further obfuscates the fact that, as Somerby reported, many conservatives thought that about the book as well. From an Oct. 13, 1999 (a couple weeks after Couric's statement), Heritage Foundation online chat with Dinesh D'Souza, author of the hagiography "Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader":

Morris' book has been subject to an incredible public whipping. He has virtually no defenders. Even Morris's own reasons for using multiple fictitious characters and for calling Reagan an ignoramus and an apparent airhead sound hollow and ill-considered. When the dust has settled, Reagan will be seen as a great president.

Couric was hardly alone in interpreting that Morris' book called Reagan an "airhead." Yet Noyes and the MRC would rather leave the false impression that a hopelessly biased Couric came up with that on her own.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:26 PM EDT

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