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Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Perhaps She Should've Brought This Up With Her Therapist
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 25 NewsBusters post by Stacy L. Harp (whose day job involves being a publicist for Christian causes) starts off criticizing coverage of a Family Research Council-sponsored gathering of right-wingers in Washington, but for some reason, she turns it into an attack on her own family.

Harp stated that religious-right luminaries like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson " have put their faith into action and many have paid the price by being beaten and battered by the liberal media who have no clue what love for others is like because they are so beholden to their worldview of self-centeredness." She then latched onto that theme, claiming that if the so-called liberal media "could’ve gotten outside of their self-centeredness, then they would be able to see that this whole movement about values and how Christians and conservatives vote is about others and not the self centered “me-generation” that so many of them are a part of."  Then it got personal:

I speak as a child of parents who were into themselves, and I know personally the destruction of family through divorce, abuse and immorality that this mentality is based on. The focus of values voters is to bring healing, restoration and hope to those who have been the victims of the others egocentric world.

Ladies and gentlemen in the media, here’s a newsflash for you, get a pen and write this down – “Everything isn’t about YOU”. There are children to be fought for. There are hearts to heal because parents divorce and disregard the impact on their families. There are traditional standards and definitions of marriage that need to be in place, like one man and one woman being the definition of marriage, lest the next generation die out.

Do Harp's parents know she's bad-mouthing them in public? And what do her personal issues have to do with "media research," anyway?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:30 PM EDT
NewsBusters Misleads about Gergen
Topic: NewsBusters

Two NewsBusters items -- a Sept. 25 post by Al Brown and a Sept. 26 Gaggle cartoon -- misleadingly portrayed David Gergen, in an appearance on NBC's Nightly News, as offering a blanket defense of President Clinton regarding his interview with Chris Wallace. Brown described him only as a "former Clinton staffer"; the Gaggle cartoon, by Greg Sheffield, portrays Nightly News anchor Brian Williams saying of Gergen, "He used to work for Bill Clinton. We both agree that what Clinton did was not that bad, especially since Gergen taught him that."

Neither post notes Gergen's history of working for Republicans, specifically his seven years in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan adminstrations. And Media Matters has documented instances of Gergen serving up conservative misinformation. This suggests he's not exactly a liberal shill.

Another Sept. 26 NewsBusters post, by Brent Baker (repeated as a CyberAlert item), doesn't label Gergen but highlights only Gergen's statements defending Clinton in his Nightly News appearance. In fact, Gergen also said that "the question, from Chris's point of view, I'm sure, was legitimate" and noted that "there are some Republicans salivating over that clip because you don't usually see a President that angry, even a former one."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:20 PM EDT
Life Imitates 'The Daily Show'

JON STEWART: Let's put aside any of the emotional aspects of the discussion. Talk about the substance of what Clinton was saying during the interview.

SAMANTHA BEE: Absolutely, Jon. The president, his neck bulging and forehead veins atwitter, flailed his arms in frenzied swatting like some crazed silverback gorilla. The one-time commander in chief now reduced to a spastic ball of rage, his grunts decipherable only to Jane Goodall --

STEWART: Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, Sam, I'm sorry. I understand that people take it as an emotional moment, but with regard to the issues -- this president invaded a couple of countries, hasn't gotten to bin Laden yet -- has anyone looked at the facts behind what Clinton was saying?

BEE: Oh, oh, OK, the facts. Let's see here ... we've got anger ... rage ... presidential spittle ... Incredible Hulk-esque ... no, I don't have anything about the facts per se, Jon, but I got the substance.

STEWART: Without hearing the facts.

BEE: Jon, I'm a seasoned reporter. I learned to listen with my eyes. The former president said more with his face than his mouth ever could. Trust me, Jon, the man's guilty. 

-- "The Daily Show," Sept. 25

A Gold Star in the Sunday Morning News Program business is to be the topic of conversation on the MONDAY morning news programs. Using that as the benchmark, Chris Wallace's Fox Sunday show was a smash hit.

Which is what we thought Wild Bill Clinton was going to do to Wallace with that eye-bulging, neck-vein-popping, finger-pointing tirade which lacked only a scream at the end to equal the satisfaction we get when we listen to the Ride of the Valkyries finish in a ear-bursting, cymbal-clashing major chord.

-- Rich Galen, column, Sept. 27 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:37 AM EDT
NewsMax's Misguided Defense of O'Reilly
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 25 NewsMax article launched a defense of Bill O'Reilly's new book "Culture Warrior" by attacking Media Matters' deconstruction of the book's errors and attacks -- but never actually getting around to disproving anything in the Media Matters review. (The article has a " Wires" byline, though we could not find -- nor could we imagine -- any self-respecting wire service serving up such an article.)

First on NewsMax's agenda, though, is attack mode. It makes sure to bash Media Matters as "lef-wing" and "developed with the help of the George Soros-backed advocacy organization, Center for American Progress" (gotta throw in that Soros bogeyman, doncha know).

Then it starts going off the tracks. The article asserts that Media Matters "led the way Monday" with its review -- but it was posted to the Media Matters site on Friday, three days earlier. NewsMax then states:

According to Media Matters, "Culture Warrior" is "replete with factual errors, rank hypocrisy, and ad hominem attacks directed at anyone who has crossed swords with O'Reilly."

In fact, the Fox News Channel anchor writes about what he sees as a fierce culture war between those who embrace traditional values and those who want to change America into a "secular-progressive" country.  And he warns that those who ignore the threat that the secular-progressive movement poses do so at their own peril.

But NewsMax's description of the book contradicts nothing that Media Matters wrote about it; nowhere in the article does NewsMax address any of the specific claims Media Matters made. The article adds that "a look at what he has to say in the book about some of those he targets shows that in the end, he is 'fair and balanced.'" But the excerpts NewsMax cites don't exactly bear that out; for instance, it quotes O'Reilly calling Al Franken "a man without scruples, a far-left fanatic whose brand of unbridled hatred is sound-bite ready and media friendly,"  Michael Moore "[t]he clown prince of the secular-progressive movement" and  Bill Moyers "Perhaps the farthest-left broadcaster in the history of television." That sounds a lot more like the "ad hominem attacks" Media Matters describes than the "fair and balanced" descriptions NewsMax seems to think they are.

But the whole point of this exercise is to sell books. NewsMax is unloading "Culture Warrior" for $4.99 plus a free trial subscription to its magazine that you must opt out of in order to avoid being charged $39 for a year's subscription.

(Full disclosure: I am a Media Matters employee.) 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:30 AM EDT
CNS' Double Standard on Partisan Hearings

A pair of Sept. 26 articles by Susan Jones made a point of including Republican disparagement of Monday's hearing on the Iraq war by the Democratic Policy Committee -- something CNS has been loath to do in regard to similar hearings held by Republicans.

The first Jones article called the hearing "a Democrats-only 'oversight' hearing" and noted that "The Democratic Policy Committee held hearings on the Iraq war simply for partisan gain, the Republican National Committee said," adding:

The RNC also noted that the Democratic Policy Committee -- established in 1947 to conduct research and track votes -- has never held hearings or conducted investigations until Reid and Dorgan took over and expanded the DPC's mission.

A second Jones article also gave Republicans a platform to disparage the hearing:

But Carolyn Weyforth, press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), told Cybercast News Service that the hearings are "just another political move by the Democrats."

But in August, CNS offered up a much different treatment for Republican-only field hearings on immigration. As we documented, an Aug. 17 article by Kevin Mooney unquestioningly repeated GOP spin points on immigration and misleadingly claimed that the entire House Judiciary Committee was involved in the field hearings when, in fact, only the Republican members were involved. A Sept. 13 article by Jones on a hearing summarizing the findings of those field hearings, however, did give space to Democrats who called it a "sham hearing" (as we also noted).

Still, there's an imbalance, and CNS has shown itself to be much more willing to take Republican claims at face value. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:00 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Quote of the Day
Topic: Free Congress Foundation

Not quite as good as "sexual indoctrination centers" and "sexualized activists ... stalking their parents," but still worth noting:

The liberals have the three major broadcast networks; they have PBS; they have CNN, MSNBC and Bloomberg on cable; they have the powerful voices of THE WASHINGTON POST, LOS ANGELES TIMES and NEW YORK TIMES. We have the Fox News Channel (which only seeks to present both sides and is not outright conservative) and talk radio.

-- Paul Weyrich, Free Congress Foundation commmentary, Sept. 26.

Media Matters has a slightly different view of Fox News than Weyrich does.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:08 PM EDT
Beyond the Valley of the Description-Equals-Promotion Fallacy
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily still has no intention of offer fair and balanced coverage of the California education bills issue, even as the opponents of the bills who WND love to quote make increasingly bizarre claims about them. From a Sept. 26 WND article featuring Campaign for Children and Families head Randy Thomasson:

"If Arnold Schwarzenegger signs these bills, we will be calling on people to leave the governor's race blank on their ballot and calling upon pro-family people to remove their children from the government school system," Thomasson said.

Life in California under these bills would mean that "children would not go to school anymore, they would go to sexual indoctrination centers for six hours a day. They would come home sexualized activists at an early age, stalking their parents and radically changing the society we live in."

AB 606 would allow the state to financially destroy local schools unless those districts trained all their teachers to promote transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality as "good" and "natural" for children as young as ages four and five, Thomasson said.

Thomasson's depiction is allow to stand unchallenged, despite his obvious distortions and unhinged rhetoric.

WND describes CCF only as a "family group" despite its clear conservative ties. It also repeats its misleading description of a signed law that added "sexual orientation" to the non-discrimination provisions any group accepting state money must abide by as a mandate "to promote those alternative choices."

And needless to say, WND permits nothing to counter Thomasson's views, even as far out there as they are.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:31 PM EDT
Riehl Weighs In on George Allen
Topic: NewsBusters

Via TBogg, we learn of the latest shenannigans by our ol' buddy (and NewsBusters poster) Dan Riehl. At his own blog, Riehl is claiming that Sen. George Allen is undergoing a "lynching" via revelations of his history of making racist remarks; below a picture of one of Allen's (white) accusers with his (black) wife, but before he details said accuser's CV -- as if that's relevant to the conversation; are people with Ph.D's in anthropology not qualifed to speak on racial issues? -- Riehl adds: "It's a little difficult to imagine he's the type of guy one would want to hang around the pond and crack wise with about race...." As TBogg points out, the accuser wasn't "hanging around the pond" with Allen; he had come to pick up a puppy.

This, remember, from a guy who was eager to falsely smear S.R. Sidarth as a racist. And yes, he's still listed as a NewsBusters blogger. Riehl, apparently, is the kind of blogger the MRC likes.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:31 PM EDT
Four days after WorldNetDaily did so and six days after the original column ran, finally addresses the controversy between columnist Michelle Malkin -- whose Sept. 20 column attacking the Associated Press CNS ran -- and the AP. But, like WND, it did so in a biased fashion, running only Malkin's response to the AP (in which AP's original response is buried) while not letting AP's response stand on its own.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:13 PM EDT
New Article: AIM's Game of Semantics
Topic: Accuracy in Media
AIM's Cliff Kincaid claims that the CIA is not operating secret prisons, even though they were secret and people were imprisoned. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:03 AM EDT
Monday, September 25, 2006
What 'Some' Say

A Sept. 25 article by Susan Jones about an classified intelligence report that reportedly asserts that the Iraq war has heightened increased the terrorist threat -- which focuses less on that conclusion than on the fact that it was leaked classified information -- concludes by claiming: "Some say the leak to the New York Times may have been timed to bolster the Democrats' Monday hearing." Jones quotes nobody making this claim.

We have to wonder: Do any of the "some" claiming this reside outside of the Media Research Center's offices? 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:30 PM EDT
Wag the (Clinton-Bashing) Dog
Topic: NewsBusters

In a rather selective attack on President Clinton's statements during a "Fox News Sunday" interview with Chris Wallace, Noel Sheppard used a Sept. 25 NewsBusters post to narrowly focus on Clinton's claims that when Clinton launched an attack on Sudan in 1998 at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, "Clinton had performed these attacks to distract the American people from his extracurricular activities much as in the movie Wag the Dog." Sheppard was quick to do some quote-mining to dismiss the claim: "Were there high-ranking Republicans that piled on this assertion? Hardly."

Sheppard does not appear to have checked the archives of his employer. The Media Research Center, in fact, did pile on this assertion by criticizing media outlets who dismissed it.

In an Aug. 21, 1998, CyberAlert, Brent Baker noted that "every network did raise the "Wag the Dog" scenario" in their coverage of the Sudan bombing strike. But Baker seemed unhappy that "CBS questioned the lack of "bipartisan patriotism." When ABC's George Stephanopoulos said that "Yesterday White House advisers were saying that one of the reasons the President was wary of a giving a more fulsome, elaborate apology Monday night was because he was afraid of projecting weakness in the face of potential hot spots around the world and now we know why," Baker responded: "Who really believes that? Instead, Clinton’s now ridiculed."

A Sept. 7, 1998, MRC MediaWatch began "Three days after admitting a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton authorized cruise-missile attacks on suspected terrorist sites in Afghanistan and Sudan. Was this attack intended to divert attention from Monicagate?" The MRC seemed to concur: "If the timing had been a cynical damage control strategy, it surely worked in the short run: From Thursday to Sunday, the evening shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN carried 78 stories on the attack to just six Lewinsky pieces." The item also appeared to criticize those who tried to supported that theory:

Media and Republican figures initially questioned the attack’s timing, but the backlash came quickly. In Time’s daily Internet update, Frank Pellegrini reported: "Although Clinton-haters Newt Gingrich and Dan Burton have avowed their support of the strike, Republicans Arlen Specter and Dan Coats did not shy from the low road."

The item further attacked ABC's Ted Koppel for saying that it "is, in the final analysis, unthinkable" to "doubt [Clinton's] word on this occasion": "But Koppel did not find it "unthinkable" in 1991 to charge that the 1980 Reagan campaign delayed the release of American hostages in Iran. Nor was it "unthinkable" days before the 1992 election to wonder if the Bush administration secretly armed the Iraqis before the Gulf War."

In an Aug. 10, 1999, MagazineWatch item, Tim Graham beat up on a U.S. News & World Report writer who claimed that a "reporter who demanded to know if Defense Secretary William Cohen had seen the movie Wag the Dog" was a sign of "the reliable inanity of the Washington press corps."  Graham responded by suggesting that dismissing the "Wag the Dog" claim meant dismissing any questions about the Sudan strike: "Reporters who lapped up Peter Arnett’s tales of bombing Iraqi baby-milk factories found it somehow suddenly unpatriotic to follow up on this still largely unknown story."

Before Sheppard continues to push his claim that "Wag the Dog" speculation about Clinton was discouraged and shouted down by Republicans themselves, he might want to do a little more research.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:48 PM EDT
CNS Still Silent on Malkin-AP Spat

Even though Michelle Malkin's syndicate has apparently sent out to those media outlets who print her column -- of which is one -- a letter from the Associated Press reacting to Malkin's Sept. 20 column (which CNS ran) attacking AP as well as Malkin's reponse to it, and even though fellow conservative website WorldNetDaily has already run that response (but framed it in a biased manner), CNS has still not acknowledged the controversy surrounding Malkin's column.

What was that about CNS vowing to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story"?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:05 PM EDT
Sunday, September 24, 2006
The Sexpidemic! Jihad Rolls On
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Beware when Joseph Farah writes a "news" article. It will undoubtedly include numerous journalisic breaches up to and including plagiarism, as we've detailed.

Thus, it's no suprise that the first thing wrong in a Sept. 23 Farah-penned WorldNetDaily article is the headline. It reads:

School strip searches mandated by House
With student molestations skyrocketing, lawmakers demand weapon in drug fight

First, as even the article itself states, the House bill in question does not "mandate" strip searches; rather, as even Farah himself describes it, it would require schools to "develop policies for searching students, or face the loss of some federal funding," and it would provide immunity for teachers and administrators regarding those searches. Mandating a policy on strip searches is not the same thing as mandating the searches themselves.

Second, Farah offers no objective documentation to support the idea that "student molestations" are, in fact, "skyrocketing." What he offers instead is a qualified claim: that "student molestations seem to be reaching epidemic proportions in schools across America" (italics ours). In fact, all WND has done is compile anecdotal examples and attempt to pass them off as a "trend."

Farah states that "WND has documented the incidents of teacher-student sex throughout the country – particularly the new trend of female teachers molesting male students." But, as we've pointed out, this list was cribbed from a gossip site and stretches back more than 15 years, which hardly makes it a "new trend." And again, there's no explanation of why WND is placing such a focus on "female teachers molesting male students."

Farah concludes: "WND news editor Joe Kovacs, who has spearheaded the research on this trend, is scheduled to appear Wednesday on "The O'Reilly Factor" on the Fox News Channel to discuss the issue." Given O'Reilly's history of misinformation, that seems like the perfect venue for Kovacs.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 PM EDT
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Robert Beale (WorldNetDailiy investor and Vox Day's dad) is still on the lam, a fugitive from justice from tax evasion charges. His co-defendent in the case, the president and COO of the company Beale operates, was found guilty of aiding and abetting Beale's tax evasion.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 AM EDT

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