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Friday, September 29, 2006
Ruddy's Favorite Politician Resigns
Topic: Newsmax

Florida Rep. Mark Foley has resigned his seat amid allegations of inappropriate e-mails he wrote to a teenage male page.

Foley, a Republican, is a politician whom NewsMax has championed. As we documented, NewsMax editor and CEO Christopher Ruddy donated $1,000 to Foley's campaign in 2003 -- then, two days later, NewsMax published an article laudatory of Foley and his chances in a campaign to seek a U.S. Senate seat.

Initial coverage of Foley's resignation by NewsMax has thus far stuck to wire articles -- the first one of which, as near as we can tell, is the first time NewsMax has mentioned the page e-mail controversy.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:16 PM EDT
Speaking of Suckling ...
Topic: NewsBusters

Greg Sheffield takes a swipe at my employer in a Sept. 29 NewsBusters post:

Liberal billionaire George Soros is quitting politics, probably putting down that toy to play with some others, like most billionaires with short attention spans. As financier for much of the Left wing's activities, it'll be interesting to see how various liberal groups will deal without a Soros to suckle on, including our friends at Media Matters.

In fact, Media Matters has not received funding directly from a Soros-controlled organization, though it has received funding from a group that has.

But what would Sheffield and the MRC do should the dark day come that it no longer has a, say, Richard Mellon Scaife to suckle on? Do tell, Greg.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:58 PM EDT
Riehl's Double Standard
Topic: NewsBusters

Smear-mongering blogger Dan Riehl blunders in on the George Allen n-word controversy with a Sept. 29 NewsBusters post that's a classic misdirection tactic: accusing Allen's opponent, James Webb, of doing the exact same thing. The post is a compliation of claims made by other right-wing bloggers, among them quotes from Webb's works of fiction -- which of course prove nothing about Webb the man, even though Riehl tried to portray it as "basically admitting the N word has flowed from his lips."

Riehl also does what his NewsBusters and MRC colleagues have bashed the "liberal media" for doing in regard to the accusations against Allen: exluded Webb's denial that he has ever "used it as a racial epithet aimed at anyone" or contradictory claims by Webb acquaintances.

Shouldn't NewsBusters practice what it preaches?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:48 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 29, 2006 5:13 PM EDT
WND on O'Reilly: Alarmist, Misleading Claims
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily seems curiously unenthusiastic about promoting after the fact the appearance by news editor Joe Kovacs on the Sept. 27 edition of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" to discuss the (female) teacher-student sexpidemic! -- there's no summary, transcript of video clip. (Maybe they're still a little touchy about the falling-out between O'Reilly and WND, where O'Reilly's syndicated column got its start.) We don't have the bandwidth to host video, but we have the transcript (corrected against the video), and it shows the thinness of the accusations WND has hurled.

Kovacs began by making alarmist claims:

KOVACS: Bill, we found out this problem is everywhere. It is rampant. It is in big school districts in big cities. It is in little towns all across America. There are teachers who are just preying on their students and having sex with them. They're having sex with them on school campuses. They're having sex with them in their homes. They're having sex with them in the parking lot of Busch Gardens. It's going on everywhere. It's just unbelievable.

When O'Reilly asked Kovacs to "put it in perspective"-- something WND has never done -- Kovacs hedges, offering no data to back up his claims but instead insisting that in the "hundreds of newspapers" they monitor they "saw case after case of women having sex with their students." In other words, it's still solely anecdotal.

Finally, though, we get an inkling of what's behind WND's obsession with female teachers. Kovacs cited research by Kansas State University's Bob Shoop showing that adult females convicted of having sex with male students receive significantly less severe jail sentences (or merely probation) than adult males convicted of having sex with female students.

But Shoop also notes that there is a "proliferation of reporting" about such incidents, which doesn't necessarily correlate into an actual increase in incidents; "There were almost no reports of those events during the time that children actually were abused." The Shoop press release also notes that "no national studies exist to discuss how prevalent a problem it truly is."  In other words, WND has no factual basis upon which to declare that female teacher-student sex is "rampant" because they have no baseline (and, as we've pointed out, they are also mixing incidents from 15 years ago with current ones).

Further, a Nov. 29, 2005, USA Today article cited Shoops as a source in claiming that "In the past 18 months, at least 25 cases nationwide involved female teachers molesting students." That's the first solid number we've seen -- WND has never offered one -- which doesn't exactly sound like an epidemic. 

Both O'Reilly and Kovacs then appear to decide that the reason these women are getting less jail tme than their male counterparts was that the "glamour-model type" of teacher are somehow flummoxing the judges into doing so. And then O'Reilly gets even more bizarre:

O'REILLY: So look, we have here, I believe, is a decline of standards in the teaching profession. That's what I think is behind this. I think they're getting people in -- because they don't pay teachers a lot in a lot of areas around the country. They're getting people in who are unstable. You have to be unstable to be an attractive woman. OK, you have to be. You'd have to be an emotional mess, to be an attractive woman and then try to stalk a 13-year-old. I mean, there's just no rationalization. So I think it is a drop in standards. Do you have any other reason to explain it? 

Yep -- O'Reilly lived up to our billing as the perfect venue for Kovacs' misleading, alarmist claims.

UPDATE: Reworded final graf to make a little more sense.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 29, 2006 4:29 PM EDT
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Farah Wrong on Somalia Withdrawal
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his Sept. 28 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah claimed that Bill Clinton was "seething with nearly uncontrollable inner rage" during his interview with Chris Wallace, adding that "he was, as usual, dead wrong in nearly everything he said." As an example, Farah cited the following:

He also said those who criticized his cut-and-run policies in Somalia wanted him to pack up immediately.

As I cannot think of a single person who fits the category, I suggest Clinton owes us some names.

Glenn Greenwald has several names of Republicans who wanted an immediate withdrawal from Somalia. Anyone think Farah will acknowledge this?

Posted by Terry K. at 6:22 PM EDT
Five Sources = 'Unsubstantiated'
Topic: NewsBusters

From a Sept. 28 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham:

ABC hired reporter Jake Tapper from the partisan left-wing website in 2001. On Wednesday night's World News, Tapper patted his old employers on the back by publicizing their unsubstantiated charges "by at least five" accusers that conservative Sen. George Allen used the word "nigger"  in his college days at the University of Virginia.

Um, Tim? Isn't "at least five" sources making the same claim sorta the opposite of "unsubstantiated"?

UPDATE: This somehow made the CyberAlert, too.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:40 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 28, 2006 4:48 PM EDT
On Opposing Women in Combat
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 26 NewsBusters post defending George Allen against a New York Times article detailing the N-word allegations against him by calling them "shaky," Tim Graham notes: "The Times never did more than two paragraphs on the Allen campaign's distribution of an article in which [Allen's Democratic opponent, James] Webb opposed women in combat." But if that's such a horrible thing, why does his employer, the Media Reserarch Center, promote a leading critic of women in combat?

A search of the search engine for the name Elaine Donnelly returns 77 hits. Donnelly is the president of the Center for Military Readiness, whose signature issue is opposition to women in combat. While Donnelly is mostly quoted offering praise to the military and opposing gays in the military, CNS has devoted articles to the anti-women-in-the-military cause:

  • A Feb. 27 article featured Donnelly criticizing the Pentagon for "a report on the role of women in the military" and accusing the Army of "assigning women to positions involving combat support and therefore the front lines."
  • A November 2002 article featured Donnelly attacking an appointee to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services for having ties to a group described as advocating "greater access for women to ground-combat units." According to Donnelly, the group is "led by some of the most doctrinaire advocates of Clinton-era social engineering in the military." Another article a few days later repeats Donnelly's claim.

A May 2004 article quoted Connelly calling photos of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison "exactly what feminists have dreamed of for years ... That demeaning photo of a female soldier with an Iraqi man on a leash - a woman had to have taken that picture." The article, by David Thibault (then CNS managing editor, now editor), goes on to document a bizarre anti-feminist rant by Donnelly:

The feminists to whom Donnelly refers are "the ones who like to buy man-hating greeting cards and have this kind of attitude that all men abused all women. It's a subculture of the feminist movement, but the driving force in it in many cases, certainly in academia," she said.

Although certain feminists would not admit it publicly, "they're probably quite fond" of the photo showing the Iraqi prisoner being held on a leash, said Donnelly. That's "because it is demeaning to a man -- any man." 

The MRC has had no apparent problem opposing women in combat before, and it's shown itself to be quite willing to use an extremist to make that case -- which, as Donnelly's rant shows, makes Webb's statements about women in combat 25 years ago (the ones Graham was hoping Webb would get in trouble for saying) seem tame by comparison.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:48 AM EDT
NewsMax Gives Allen The Usual Defense
Topic: Newsmax

When in doubt, blame the liberal media.

A Sept. 27 unbylined NewsMax "analysis" examines the case of George Allen. Unsurprisingly, it peddles the usual NewsMax bias, portraying Allen as the victim of a "liberal media" conspiracy:

The liberal media has a lot to worry about Allen. He's a solid Reagan conservative who could be president in 2008.

And by attacking him so stridently now, the major media hopes to possibly knock Allen out of the Senate altogether – making Democratic chances of re-gaining control of the Senate a strong possibility.

NewsMax claims the controversy over Allen is "what he did or did not say 30 years ago as a college student." That's a double standard, of course; NewsMax spent a lot of time being livid over what Hillary Clinton "did or did not say 30 years ago" using witnesses more partisan and less reliable than those accusing Allen of using the N-word, as we've documented.

NewsMax then goes on to quickly dispense of the infamous "macaca" incident by succinctly stating, "He quickly apologized for the gaffe." Well, not exactly; in fact, Allen has offered a series of occasionally contradictory explanations for his use of the word. 

The article makes sure to point out that one of the persons accusing Allen of saying the N-word is a Democrat and the other "was a registered Democrat from 1988 until 2004." But as we reported when NewsMax played up allegations that Hillary Clinton called someone a "(expletive) Jew bastard" in 1974, NewsMax never saw fit to point out to its readers that two of the people making the accusation were Clinton's political enemies and the target of the alleged slur was a disbarred lawyer who had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that led to seizures, addiction to prescription pain killers, erratic behavior and memory loss who had written a letter to Clinton begging her forgiveness for saying things about her "without factual foundation."

Under the subhead "Changing, Baseless Allegations," NewsMax noted that political analyst Larry Sabato as restating his claim that he heard Allen say the N-word to merely concluding it "based on the very credible testimony I have heard for weeks, mainly from people I personally know and knew in the '70s." Changing, perhaps, but not exactly baseless.

And to counter a claim that Allen stuffed a severed deer's head into a mailbox at a black-owned house, NewsMax claimed that "two sheriff's deputies in Louisa County who were on the force in the early 1970s said they could not recall any complaints about severed animal heads." But the article does not quote anyone as having reported that incident to authorities at the time, so what the deputies say is irrelevant. So, again, the allegation is still not baseless.

Why is NewsMax investing such effort in defending Allen? Because it promoted him as a top 2008 presidential prospect, as it recounts:

As NewsMax Magazine disclosed in a cover story in the February issue "Star Player for 2008," a survey of 175 Washington insiders, conducted by the National Journal's "The Hotline" and released last year, named Allen as the outright front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2008.

GOP insiders consider Allen the only likely Republican candidate who can win both the nomination and the general election, NewsMax reported.

Then again, as we've also noted, NewsMax defended Bernard Kerik until his corruption proved too much for even NewsMax to ignore. 

UPDATE: Remember, too, that NewsMax also defended the heck out of Jeanine Pirro. That's all done now, too; NewsMax ran a Sept. 27 AP article detailing Pirro's attempts to work with -- that's right -- Bernard Kerik to figure out a way to wiretap her philandering husband.

Meanwhile, NewsMax has added a Sept. 28 column by Kathleen Antrim making the same point as the NewsMax analysis: The liberal media is out to get Allen, "the only true Reagan-conservative in a position to win the presidency in 2008."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 28, 2006 2:46 PM EDT
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

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