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Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Reality-Checking the 'Reality Check'
Topic: Media Research Center

In yet another attempt to tamp down the Mark Foley scandal, the Media Research Center issued an Oct. 11 "Media Reality Check" by Tim Graham comparing news coverage of the Foley scandal with Democratic congressman Mel Reynolds' sex scandal more than a decade earlier. (Hint: Graham would not have done this if there was more coverage about Reynolds.) Graham tried to put a misleading, objective patina on the otherwise partisan claims:

There are obviously some differences in the two sex scandals. Foley’s Web interactions were with a congressional page, while Mel Reynolds was dealing with a minor in private. But Foley’s scandal is based on sex talk, while Reynolds not only had an active sex life with one teen, he was trying to add more teen sex partners.

But Foley's "Web interactions" weren't with "a congressional page"; they were with numerous pages. Some other differences Graham failed to note:

  • Unlike Reynolds, Foley preyed on congressional pages under the supervision of Congress.
  • Unlike Reynolds' Democratic superiors in the House, Foley's Republican superiors were warned of his predatory behavior years before and apparently did nothing about it.

Graham also does not break down his story list into stories only about Foley's actions and stories about Repubican inaction on Foley, arguably separate stories.

Graham's version of reality appears to be what is in need of a "reality check."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:01 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 6:02 PM EDT
WND Twofer: Deflecting Foley Scandal, Sliming Election Opponent of WND-Published Author
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 11 WorldNetDaily article serves up the most bizarre spin yet on the Mark Foley scandal, suggests that Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland's vote of "present" seven years ago on a 1999 House resolution condemning a study on child sexual abuse is somehow equivalent to Foley's serial preying on congressional pages.

The article misdescribed the study as "an American Psychological Association study supporting 'nonnegative sexual interactions between adults and adolescents.' " It is not "an American Psychological Association study"; the study merely appeared in a journal published by the APA. Nevertheless, the article repeatedly calls it an "APA study."

Also, the study does not "support[] 'nonnegative sexual interactions between adults and adolescents.' " Rather, according to the study's abstract, the study reviewed 59 previous studies to test the belief, held by "[m]any lay persons and professionals," that "child sexual abuse (CSA) causes intense harm, regardless of gender, pervasively in the general population." It found that "Self-reported reactions to and effects from CSA indicated that negative effects were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and that men reacted much less negatively than women."

Further, the study's conlcusions contradict WND's claim that it "supports" adolescent-adult sex:

In this sense, the findings of the current review do not imply that moral or legal definitions of or views on behaviors currently classified as CSA should be abandoned or even altered. The current findings are relevant to moral and legal positions only to the extent that these positions are based on the presumption of psychological harm.

While one conclusion of the study is that not all instances of adult-adolescent sex are automatically "abuse," it does not endorse adult-adolescent sex as WND claims. WND also claims that "The APA study claimed scientific evidence established that sex between adults and underage minors might be positive for children"; in fact, the study makes no such claim. It merely states that some victims of childhood sexual abuse perceived their experiences as positive, which is a reason for researchers to take "a more thoughtful approach" when examining the issue.

WND goes on to claim without evidence that "Strickland's refusal to vote 'yea' has been interpreted as implicit support for pedophilia," but it does not report Strickland's previous comments defending his vote on the resolution, as stated in a 2005 Athens News article:

Strickland, who has publicly defended his HCR 107 vote in the past, reaffirmed Wednesday that he considers that his vote was cast "in support of the victims of abuse."

Strickland said at the time of the vote that he could not in good conscience support the resolution, because it declared that anyone who has had a childhood sexual relationship with an adult can never have a healthy and loving sexual relationship in later life, and is likely to become a sexual abuser him- or herself.

The congressman has argued that this is unfair to victims, and rules out the possibility of healing. He has also questioned, as a trained psychologist, whether most of his House colleagues even understood the specialized study they voted to condemn.

He added Wednesday that while he could have skipped the vote, he chose to vote "present" so that "my constituents would know that I wasn't just playing hooky."

While the article notes that "Strickland is the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Ohio running against Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell," it fails to disclose that WND is supporting Blackwell's candidacy through its publication of his book earlier this year (WND has a problem making such conflict-of-interest disclosures) and other previous articles attacking Blackwell's opponents. Nor does it note that Strickland has a double-digit lead over Blackwell in polls.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:02 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 4:13 PM EDT
Sheppard Shocked to Discover You Can Get Sued for Lying About Someone
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 11 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard appears to be stunned that a court ruled against a woman who was awarded $11.3 million in a lawsuit against another woman who used Internet forums to falsely accuse her of being a "crook," a "con artist" and a "fraud." Sheppard notes: "Without question, this decision has startling ramifications for Internet denizens, bloggers, and message board posters, as it makes it quite clear that folks can’t just write whatever they want regardless of facts with total impunity." He concluded: "As Sgt. Esterhaus used to say, 'Let’s be careful out there.'"

Well, yes, Sheppard might very well want to "be careful out there." After all, he is the one who reported a claim that Iran was requiring non-Muslims to wear badges, then did nothing to note that the story turned out to be false. Sheppard has also peddled all sorts of misinformation.

And while he's at it, Sheppard might want to foward a copy of his post to Dan Riehl.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:31 PM EDT
Update: Letter to the Editor
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The Washington Examiner has printed our letter to the editor regarding Kathleen Antrim and Melanie Morgan.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 PM EDT
New Article: A Clinton in Every Conspiracy
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily works to debunk 9/11 conspiracy theories, despite its own love of conspiracy theories -- especially if a Clinton can be thrown in. WND's also casting George Soros as the apple of its conspiratorial eye. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:48 AM EDT
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Sheppard Misleads on Poll Breakdown
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 10 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard is apoplectic that in a Washington Post/ABC News poll, in his words, "41 percent more Democrats were questioned for this survey than Republicans," claiming that it is "absolutely shameful that any polling organization would do such a poor job of evenly distributing respondents by political affiliation."

But Sheppard fails to note that the poll sample -- in actual numbers, 38 percent Democrats; 27 percent Republicans -- is a lot closer to reality than he depicts it. As we pointed out the last time the MRC attacked a poll for questioning too many Democrats, even Republican strategist (and columnist for the MRC's Rich Galen admits that "[i]n the general population, those who claim to be Democrats outweigh those who claim to be Republicans by 7 to 9 percentage points." It skews the poll to have an even number of Democrats and Republicans, as Sheppard demands.

Sheppard adds:

By contrast, in last month’s poll, the breakdown was 33 percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans, and 30 percent Independents.

With this in mind, should it be at all surprising that President Bush’s job approval dropped by 3 percentage points since the September poll? Or that approval for the job Bush is doing in Iraq dropped by six points, and for the war on terror by eight?

But given that the number of Democrats and Republicans sampled in last month's poll is almost even -- contrary to the normal general-population breakdwon -- that makes that poll the outlier, rather than the new poll.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:11 PM EDT
Who's Blackmailing Who?
Topic: Accuracy in Media

An Oct. 9 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid is titled "Homosexual Blackmail on Capitol Hill," but it appears that Kincaid is the one who wants to engage in it.

Kincaid takes to task "radical gay activist" Michael Rogers, who he quotes as decrying "closeted" Republican homosexuals "who have been helping to facilitate that anti-gay agenda." But then, Kincaid states:

What Rogers is saying is that secret Republican homosexuals are working behind-the-scenes to sabotage a conservative pro-family agenda in the Congress. They are acting more like Democrats than Republicans, if indeed they are Republicans.

That is quite clearly not "what Rogers is saying." How did Kincaid twist "facilitate that anti-gay agenda" to "sabotage a conservative pro-family agenda"?

Kincaid goes on to insinuate that being gay is incompatible with being Republican: "They are acting more like Democrats than Republicans, if indeed they are Republicans."

Kincaid concludes: "For the sake of honest and open government, not to mention protection of the children, the secret Capitol Hill homosexual network must be exposed and dismantled." That gets him close to the territory of WorldNetDaily's Linda Harvey, who demanded that gays be purged from politics completely.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:34 AM EDT
It's Clinton's Fault!
Topic: Newsmax

Well, that didn't take long. An Oct. 9 NewsMax article by Dave Eberhart declares that the only person to blame for North Korea's nuclear test is Bill Clinton, even though he has not been president for five years.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall offers context that Eberhart doesn't regarding Clinton and North Korea. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:28 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2006 9:01 PM EDT
Monday, October 9, 2006
Breaking: MRC Wants Non-Conservative to Rest in Peace
Topic: NewsBusters

The Media Research Center has no love for non-conservative journalists. As we've noted, the death of ABC's Peter Jennings brought no "Rest in Peace" tag from the MRC (and, in fact, the MRC used the occasion to attack his alleged liberalism, the publicity over which shamed it into issuing a proper condolence note), while the deaths of two conservative-friendly writers earned an "RIP" condolence.

So, it's a bit of a surprise to see that Tim Graham, in an Oct. 9 NewsBusters post on the death of New York Times writer R.W. Apple, actually state, "May he rest in peace," before resorting to standard MRC procedure by slapping around Apple's corpse, bashing him for the offense of exhibiting "a fair amount of Manhattan ultraliberalism in his public career."

After all, in the MRC's eyes, death is no excuse for being a liberal. At least now it's showing a few manners about it.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:43 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 9, 2006 3:06 PM EDT
Setting What Record Straight?

An Oct. 9 commentary by J.P. "Jack" London, chairman and president of defense contractor CACI International, defends his company against "baseless" allegations raised in the documentary "Iraq for Sale" the CACI was involved for "torture for profit." London claims that the film "indiscriminately slanders as war profiteers private contractors, including CACI, which answered our government's call for help."

Problem is, CNS has never reported on the documentary or its claims. Nor does London detail the specific allegations the film makes against his company. Thus, there's no basis upon which to evaluate London's claims.

London is free to write his "setting the record straight" commentary, but CNS should have provided some context for it so its readers understand the controversy, rather than running it apropos of nothing.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:28 PM EDT
MRC: Stop Covering Foley Scandal!
Topic: Media Research Center

The MRC doesn't want Republicans to look bad. It declared the Mark Foley story over with sometime last week, and is absolutely irked that others don't feel the same way. Thus, it has declared that anyone who covers the Foley scandal from here on out is a biased liberal who wants the Republicans to lose in November:

And after the weather, what was Today's featured story of the half-hour? The growing nuclear threat with grave international implications? Come on. It was Foley Time! First a reporter, then Chris Matthews interviewed by Lauer and putting the worst possible spin on things for Republican prospects.


What could account for the short shrift NBC gave the North Korean nuke? You don't suppose it could have anything to do with the fact that when the focus is on national security, Americans tend to look to Republicans, whereas if Today can talk about a Republican sex scandal and highlight a lack of leadership . . .

-- Mark Finkelstein, Oct. 9 NewsBusters post

In case you thought the Foley story was wrapping up on Friday, be warned that both Time and Newsweek weren't buying that. They wanted a chance to build its place in history/Republican infamy.

-- Tim Graham, Oct. 9 NewsBusters post and CyberAlert item

Friday's CBS Evening News led again with the Foley/page scandal, even though the two stories aired offered virtually no fresh information, as anchor Katie Couric justified the news judgment by declaring the issue is “still the talk of the town,” “is not going away” and “is overshadowing every other election issue for the moment” -- all self-fulfilling assessments sustained by the decisions of Couric and her media colleagues.

-- Brent Baker, Oct. 6 NewsBusters post and Oct. 9 CyberAlert item

Posted by Terry K. at 2:16 PM EDT
Depiction-Equals-Endorsement Fallacy Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Over the past few days, WorldNetDaily engaged in numerous examples of the depiction-equals-endorsement fallacy as it relates to homosexuality.

An Oct. 4 article stated as fact that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "signed a bill terminating the last vestige of traditional marriage," a bill that would allow allow domestic partners to file personal income taxes by checking either "married filing jointly" or "married filing separately" categories. The article forwards the claim from "those assessing the results of this year's state legislature" that Schwarzenegger "has failed to fully protect school children from the 'gay' agenda"-- misleading since the article cites only two conservative groups and no non-conservatives to support it. The article also cited a "weblog participant" -- in fact, a poster at the right-wing Free Republic -- as describing the bill as "lesbolation," concluding that "California really needs a political enema."

An Oct. 7 follow-up article seems to endorse anarchy, declaring that "'Don't trust the courts' is what supporters of traditional marriage are saying." Again, only conservatives are quoted, and their claims are not countered.

An Oct. 5 article declared that "[t]he Philadelphia School District has launched a new advance in the battle to indoctrinate school children into the 'gay' agenda" by establishing a "Gay and Lesbian History Month." The article quotes a anti-homosexual activist claiming without evidence that "even elementary school phonics cards have been through the 'gay' editing process." But no examples of the "Gay and Lesbian History Month" are offered, let alone how depictions of gays and lesbians equals "indoctrinat[ing] school children into the 'gay' agenda."

In an Oct. 6 article misleadingly headlined "'Gay' groups: We have rights to your children!" WND claimed that "[a] collection of 'gay' organizations has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Massachusetts lawsuit, claiming they have every right to teach their doctrine to grade-school students." In fact, the brief  -- as quoted by WND -- states that "Parental rights, according to the brief filed this week, "have never meant that a parent can demand prior notice and the right to opt a child out of mere exposure to ideas in the public schools that a parent disapproves of."

Nevertheless, WND quotes unchallenged a claim from a "pro-family" group that homosexuals want to "push their message on children," adding that the "true agenda" of the sponsors of the brief "is apparent in the demands that the state has a legal obligation to teach homosexual issues to young children in the public schools." 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT
Letter to the Editor
Topic: WorldNetDaily

To: Washington Examiner

Re: "Good mourning, America" by Kathleen Antrim, Oct. 6

Kathleen Antrim's article read more like a press release than any sort of "review" of the book "American Mourning." That may because serving as a press agent for a friend was the whole point: The article did not disclose that, according to Antrim's own website, Antrim appears every other Monday on the San Francisco radio show of the book's co-author, Melanie Morgan. Antrim's closeness to Morgan makes her enthusiasm for Morgan's book a tad suspect.

Because Antrim was in press-agent mode, she also failed to disclose Morgan's biases against Cindy Sheehan, a subject of the book. As chairwoman of the group Move America Forward, Morgan led a "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" tour in 2005. Morgan has, in her columns for right-wing website WorldNetDaily, called Sheehan "shameless" and someone who "hold[s] a twisted hatred of this country."

Additionally, Morgan's book is published by the book division of WorldNetDaily, which has its own special hatred of Sheehan; in November 2005, it published a article and photo that falsely portrayed a book-signing by Sheehan as a failure when, in fact, Sheehan sold and signed 100 copies of her book at the event.

Sheehan is certainly not above criticism. But rather than being a book that, in Antrim's words, "touches the very essence of American culture," the background of Morgan and her publisher indicates that "American Mourning" has all the earmarks of a hatchet job on Sheehan.

(More here.) 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:16 AM EDT
Sunday, October 8, 2006
NewsMax Desperately Spins Poll
Topic: Newsmax

Here's the lead of an Oct. 8 NewsMax article:

More than half of Americans -- 52  percent, including 29 percent of Republicans -- believe that House Speaker  Dennis Hastert was aware of Congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate messages  to teenage Congressional pages and tried to cover it up, according to the latest Newsweek Poll. Only 24 percent say he did not. 

NewsMax's headline, however, reads: "Poll: GOP Voters Backing Hastert." That requires not only an extrapolation that since 29 percent of Republicans say Hastert tried to cover up Foley's misdeeds 71 percent thought otherwise, but a willful disregard of the poll's actual findings.

One really has to work to find good news for Republicans in this poll, and God bless 'em, NewsMax did.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:19 PM EDT
WND Columnist Cites Biased Anti-Gay Research
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 7 WorldNetDaily column by Olivia St. John ("a freelance writer with almost 20 years of experience as a home educator") fails to point out the anti-gay background of a researcher whose statistics she cites. St. John writes:

Contrary to the homosexual assertion that heterosexual molestations outnumber those committed by homosexuals, Yale and Harvard-connected psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover states that "careful studies show that pedophilia is far more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals."

St. John's calling Satinover "connected" to Yale and Harvard is a bit of resume-padding done in order to enhance Satinover's patina of credibility. According to Satinover's CV, any connection to Yale and Harvard in fields related to the study of homosexuality was long ago; he received a master's degree in clinical psychology from Harvard in 1973 and served a residency and fellowship at Yale in the mid-1980s.

Satinover's anti-gay bias makes his research suspect. For instance, according to an interview with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality -- a group that advocates therapy regimens to change homosexual orientation -- calls homosexuality "psychologically unhealthy," "an inferior way of life,"and a "sociopathy" akin to "grow[ing] up in a Cosa Nostra family,"  adding that "homosexuality--like narcissism--is best viewed as a spiritual and moral illness."

Further, in accepting the views of Satinover that "pedophilia is far more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals," St. John also ignores research that gay men are no more likely than heterosexual men to perpetrate child sexual abuse and that that figures showing "male pedophiles are more likely to molest boys than girls" are not evidence that gay men are more likely to abuse children than straight men because they conflate men who abuse boys with gay men.

We hope such biased claims as she inserted into her column are not what St. John is serving up as she homeschools her children. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:48 AM EDT

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