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Thursday, October 12, 2006
NewsBusters vs. Reality
Topic: NewsBusters

The AP tried to characterize Bush as a "tepid" supporter of Speaker Hastert and directly said that "half the country" wanted Hastert to resign.


So, um, WHERE do they get this "half the country" statistic? Out of their rear-ends, that's where.

Maybe we might be near the truth to say half the registered voters might have said that they want Hastert to resign, but CERTAINLY not half the country. Not even half the country votes in the first place! And, it is highly doubtful that half the electorate even knows who Denny Hastert is to even want him to resign.

No, this "half the country" statistic is a figment of the AP's fever swamp imagination.

-- Warner Todd Huston, Oct. 12 NewsBusters post 

About half of Americans believe the scandal over former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley's contacts with teenage congressional pages should cost House Speaker Dennis Hastert his leadership post, according to a CNN poll released Monday.

The poll, conducted Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corp., found that 52 percent of the 1,028 adults interviewed think Hastert should step aside. Thirty-one percent said they think he should keep his post, and 17 percent had no opinion.

-- CNN, Oct. 10 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:16 PM EDT
ConWeb Promotes Dubious AP Article on Reid
Topic: The ConWeb

So, how's the rest of the ConWeb promoting the dubious AP article about Harry Reid?

WorldNetDaily latched onto the article as well, without reporting the questions about the article's central claim that Reid cleared $1.1 million in a land deal. It also promoted the AP's claim that Reid hung on the AP reporter doing the article without the reporter's history of misleading articles about Democrats.

NewsMax ran the AP article under the headline, "Sen. Harry Reid: $1 Million in Shady Land Deal.", meanwhile, gets all snarky in a front-page blurb:

Bias? Hmmm. The "Foley scandal" gets another mention on the front page of Thursday's Washington Post, but you'll have to turn to page A-3 to see the article headlined "Reid Land Deal Under Scrutiny." The sub-head makes it sound like this is nothing more than a question of "disclosure requirements.

CNS does no actual article on it but, rather, a "News This Hour" brief. It repeats the dubious claim that Reid "collect[ed] $1.1 million" on the deal --but, like the rest of the ConWeb, fails to note the questions raised about the claim.

Also note the scare quotes around "Foley scandal," reflecting CNS' desire to pretend that there is no scandal since it involves Republicans (as we've previously noted).

Posted by Terry K. at 6:19 PM EDT
NewsBusters' Double Standard on the AP
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters is quick to attack the Associated Press when it reports anything seen as reflecting poorly on conservatives or the Bush administration -- for example, Al Brown's Oct. 12 post bashing the AP for "spreading disinformation" through a "dishonest" headline on the Army's plans to maintain current troop levels in Iraq through 2010. But what happens when the AP issues misleading information that reflects poorly on Democrats?

Why, it promotes it, of course -- then criticize folks for not similarly giving it big play. From an Oct. 11 post by Terry Trippany:

Did you happen to go home from work this evening and miss this AP Exclusive?


Not too surprisingly the exclusive AP story didn’t make its way onto the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post web editions yet (at the time of this posting). You can search for it however. It appears that the powers that be in our lib friendly newsrooms are too busy pushing speculative studies with inflated numbers of deaths for the war in Iraq.

But the article Trippany is promoting -- claiming that "Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn’t personally owned the property for three years, property deeds show" -- has problems. As TPM Muckraker points out, that claim isn't true:

Reid made a $700,000 profit on the sale, not $1.1 million. Also, the story, by the AP’s John Solomon, makes it sound as if Reid got money for land he didn't own. But that's not the case. It purports to show that Reid collected $1.1 million on the sale of land he didn’t own.

Yet, as Solomon obliquely acknowledges, Reid, who had bought the land along with a friend in 1998, transferred his ownership in the land to a limited liability company in 2001. The company, which was composed solely of this land owned by Reid and his friend, in turn sold the land in 2004. That's when Reid collected his $1.1 million share of the sale. Since Reid had originally put down $400,000 on the sale, his profit was $700,000, not the full $1.1 million, as Solomon states in his lead.

And, as Media Matters notes, AP reporter John Solomon has previously written misleading reports by Solomon about Senate Democrats, including Reid.

Yet, NewsBusters has chosen not to point out these problems to its readers -- solely because the article's target is a Democrat instead of a Republican. Double standard, anyone?

UPDATE: NewsBusters' Clay Waters, Greg Sheffield and Scott Whitlock also promote the AP's allegations at face value without noting the questions raised about them. Waters also notes Reid's "hanging up on an AP reporter questioning him about the deal" without noting that reporter's history of reporting misleading claims about Reid.

UPDATE 2: Tim Graham joins in, again without noting questions about the article's accuracy.

UPDATE 3: Brent Baker comes to the party. 

Posted by Terry K. at 3:28 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, October 12, 2006 9:18 PM EDT
CNS Press Release Reproduction Watch

An Oct. 12 article by Susan Jones regurgitates a list of claims by the conservative American Family Association that makes several dubious claims about "what conservatives can expect if Democrats regain control of Congress." Among them:

-- A push to make homosexual marriage and polygamy legal in all 50 states.

-- Only liberal judges will be appointed. They will create laws to implement the social agenda liberals cannot get passed through the legislative process.

-- Liberals will make the killing of the unborn more difficult to stop.

-- Liberals will continue to try to rid our society of Christian influence, including any reference to God in our Pledge and on our currency.

-- An increase in taxes to push new social programs.

-- Passing a new "hate crimes" law making it illegal to refer to homosexuality in a negative manner.

Jones reported the AFA's assertions uncritically, making no attempt to fact-check the AFA's claims nor permitting a Democrat to respond. In other words, Jones is doing PR work for the AFA.

This is reminiscient of the 2004 presidential, when CNS refused to fact-check claims made by Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth against John Kerry because CNS agreed with the Swift Boaters' anti-Kerry agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 PM EDT
WND Solicits for Legal Fund, Won't Disclose Donors
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 9 WorldNetDaily article once again pleads for donations to WND's legal defense fund. And once again, it makes unsubstantiated claims about Al Gore supporter Clark Jones' lawsuit against WND. As we've documented, WND and editor Joseph Farah have made numerous unsubstantiated claims about Jones and the lawsuit.

There is one way WND could address this whole thing fairly and transparently, as we've proposed: post all court filings in the case on its website and open the books on its legal defense fund to the public and disclose its donors. WND has yet to respond to either request.

As the saying goes, if you have nothing to hide, you hide nothing.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:49 AM EDT
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

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