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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Mark Halperin: From Pariah to Prophet at the MRC
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center used to hate ABC's Mark Halperin. He was a favorite target during the 2004 election:

  •  An Oct. 1, 2004, "Media Reality Check" groused that Halperin "panned Bush’s reaction to [John] Kerry’s attacks [during a debate]: 'The President was remarkably angry-seeming a lot of the time...It’s usually not a very becoming posture for a candidate.' " 
  • An Oct. 6, 2004, "Media Reality Check" singled out Halperin for calling Vice President Dick Cheney “gratuitously mean” during a debate with John Edwards when Cheney chastised Edwards’ weak Senate attendance record. 
  • An Oct. 9, 2004, CyberAlert feared that a memo by Halperin noting that "the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done" would mean that ABC would "deliberately correct Bush more often than Kerry." An Oct. 13, 2004, CyberAlert complained that ABC had fact-checked Bush twice as often as Kerry following the issuance of the memo.

All water under the bridge. Now that Halperin is using conservative terms like "old media" and making charges of liberal media bias, Halperin is the MRC's new BFF.

An Oct. 25 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield lovingly detailed how Halperin "provided a resounding endorsement of the idea that the elite American media needs to stop being liberally biased." NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard similarly drooled over Halperin, noting in an Oct. 25 post his "stunning statements about liberal media bias," a follow-up to an Oct. 19 post that repeated claims in The Note, the ABC News political newsletter that Halperin edits, that the "(libeal) Old Media" took daily conference calls with Howard Dean and George Soros as undeniable "proof that the press are colluding with Democrats." (You know, the stuff that NewsMax's James Hirsen took deadly seriously.)

It's the reverse of the treatment that MRC has given to Chris Matthews (as we've detailed). Does this mean that the MRC will concede that maybe Halperin had a valid point in his 2004 memo?

Posted by Terry K. at 11:02 PM EDT
Klein Back to Anonymously Smearing Olmert
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein had been dormant the past few weeks on his smear campaign against Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But he's back on the job: Articles by Klein on Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 cite anonymous "senior IDF officers" to claim that a possible Israeli incursion into Gaza "may be 'watered down' or not approved at all by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for political reasons." 

Meanwhile, Klein remains silent on conservative Israeli president Moshe Katsav's sex scandal, even though he has reported numerous alleged scandals against Olmert.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:30 AM EDT
WND, CNS Misleadingly Defend Morgan's Book
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Both WorldNetDaily and have offered misleading defenses of Melanie Morgan's WND-published, Cindy Sheehan-bashing book regarding lawsuit threats made by Sheehan.

An Oct. 24 WND article noted that Sheehan "was preparing for possible litigation over allegations in the book that she became addicted to "online chat rooms of a pornographic nature" after her son died in Iraq." Morgan's response was, in fact, something of a threat:

"I am totally confident in my level of documentation," Morgan told WND today. "It's locked in a bank vault, and we are prepared to use it should Ms. Sheehan proceed to litigation.

"We hope that doesn't happen for the sake of her family, the Sheehan family," she said, because the documentation is "very graphic in nature.

"We had hoped to spare the family any further uncomfortableness and embarrassment," she said.

WND quoted Morgan as saying, "We wrote the book not to make life uncomfortable for Cindy Sheehan, far from it." But the article failed to note Morgan's history of attacks on Sheehan that suggest a certain desire to, in fact, make Sheehan's life uncomfortable.

Similarly, an Oct. 24 CNS article by Randy Hall quoted Kristen Schremp, a publicist for Morgan and co-author Catherine Moy, as saying, "It's not like this book was written to pick on Cindy Sheehan." But like WND, Hall does not note Morgan's anti-Sheehan activism. He noted that Morgan is "president of the conservative organization Move America Forward" but didn't note that MAF organized a "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" bus tour last year -- something that would be germane, if not essential, to any discussion regarding Morgan's desire to "pick on" Sheehan.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:06 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 2:07 AM EDT
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
WND Columnist: Get a Tattoo, You're Charles Manson
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Talk about guilt by association: In furthering WorldNetDaily's anti-tattoo kick, Richard D. Ackerman, in an Oct. 24 WND column, likens young people who get tattoos to Charles Manson. No, really. After noting that "49 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 to 29" have gotten a tattoo, he writes:

Isn't it just grand to think that 49 percent of our young adults are doing just what Charles Manson, war-torn veterans, convicts, primitive tribal members, rogue bikers, drug addicts and the like have done to themselves?

Frankly, it makes little sense that one would want to mimic the behaviors of people who voluntarily hurt themselves and find no other positive way of expressing themselves except through pain, bleeding and permanent scars.

The irony, of course, is that Ackerman describes himself as "[b]edecked with dragons, skulls, a burning cross, a unicorn, and other mystical images." But he has repented -- he's now a lawyer and the president of the Pro-Family Law Center -- and he considers his tattoos "images of alcoholism, drug abuse, abortion, my Gen-X culture, a disconnect to God, and a desire to express myself through silent rebellion against God and society."

Indeed, Ackerman insists that tattoos, piercings and body modifications are evil:

Body modification always starts off with the premise that ‘I need to express myself.' As with all things evil, self-interest is never a good starting point for any human endeavor. When one modifies the body, it is always to garner attention to the self at the expense of another.

He further states that the devil is likely involved in the choice to get a tattoo (after eliminating the possiblility of "evolution or natural selection" as a motivating factor), because God sure isn't:

Thus, we are left with the possibility that our God, the devil, or culture led him to do this. Given the Biblical precept that the body should be kept pure and without marking, the idea that God silently drove Jon to the tattoo parlor seems unlikely to me. However, I am open to the other two related alternatives.

One thing, however, is missing from Ackerman's column: a little disclosure. Ackerman, formerly with the U.S. Justice Foundation, represented WND in its fight to obtain a permanent Senate Press Gallery pass. And as we've noted, in 2003 and 2004, WND promoted Ackerman's plight when, while at USJF, he was sanctioned by a judge for filing "frivolous" charges against Planned Parenthood affiliates and faced purportedly "crippling sanctions" of up to $75,000 in fines. (Ackerman returned the favor by sucking up to WND, calling it "fair, equal and balanced" and a provider of "truthful, accurate and timely information."

Posted by Terry K. at 8:13 PM EDT
NewsMax's Hirsen Takes The Note Seriously
Topic: Newsmax

NewsMax's James Hirsen -- best known around these parts for falsely claiming that U2 was holding a concert for Rick Santorum -- is making the mistake of trusting The Note, ABC News' political newsletter. 

Hirsen's Oct. 24 column declares:

ABC's Web site, The Note, recently confirmed what many Americans have long suspected: The mainstream media coordinate their coverage with leaders from the Left. 


ABC's site exposed exactly whom the Jurassic journalists have been seeking approval from, and it is not just their editors. The Note explained that the Old Media "can barely contain itself on its secret morning conference calls with Howard Dean and George Soros." 

Conference calls? It appears as though a morning check-in with Soros and Dean has been a routine occurrence. On the particular occasion in question, the accord apparently spread even further. 

"It was agreed just this morning that, yes, we can keep the meta-narrative (‘The Democrats are going to beat Bush and run Congress!!') going for another 19 days, without interruption," The Note reported. 


The Note's "it was agreed" description of the cunning conference call suggested that a bargain between participating parties had been struck. 

Hirsen's description of the alleged Howard Dean-George Soros conference call came from the Oct. 19 edition of The Note. Hirsen ominously concluded: "Guess the Faustian Old Media hate the Grand Old Party so much they are willing to sell their journalistic souls to regain power." 

Hirsen apparently is so desperate to believe the liberal-media myth that he has failed to consider the possibility that the folks at The Note are just funnin' with him.

Or perhaps not. For what do we see in the Oct. 23 Note? An accusation that the "(liberal) Old Media" is "[r]efus[ing] to join the daily morning Ken Mehlman-Rush Limbaugh conference calls, despite repeated invitations."

Surely, Hirsen must know about these calls where the ConWeb get its conservative marching orders -- NewsMax certainly sits in on it, as does WorldNetDaily and Fox News must know about 'em. Heck, maybe Hirsen himself has been a participant a time or two.

After all, we've already documented how NewsMax took its spin points on the Mark Foley case directly from Limbaugh, so The Note's accusation must be at least as true as its claim of "old media" collaborating with. If Hirsen is going to take The Note's accusations of collaboration seriously, shouldn't he admit that his employer is involved in the same kind of coordination?

Or, perhaps, Hirsen could admit The Note played him for a fool. Then again, Hirsen never apologized for his false U2-Santorum story.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:33 AM EDT
Farah Just Can't Stop Making Misleading IRS Claims
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah's Oct. 23 WorldNetDaily column once again revives his old story that "President Bill Clinton was using the Internal Revenue Service as a political attack dog against his adversaries – people like me and a host of organizations critical of his policies."

As we've noted, this is a claim he has had trouble making in court -- and one that Farah can't stop misleading his readers about. Farah claims:

Years later, the Treasury Department reviewed the matter and found, just as I had suspected all along, that the audit of my non-profit organization began when the White House forwarded a complaint to the IRS for investigation. 

But he fails to note that a joint congressional committee, formed in response to complaints by Farah's Western Journalism Center and other groups, found "no credible evidence" that the IRS was biased against anti-Clinton groups. 

Given his antipathy toward the IRS over politically motivated audits, it's very surprising that Farah refuses to acknowlege that the IRS under the Bush administration has been accused of auditing groups, such as the NAACP, that have been critical of the administration. Instead, Farah writes:

In retrospect, I've had many serious beefs with President Bush and his administration. We've challenged his administration on the border, on the Harriet Miers nomination, on his reckless spending, on countless other aspects of his leadership. Yet, to his credit, never once have we faced retribution of this kind – where the awesome power of the federal government is turned loose on dissenting citizens.

Is Farah really so shallow as to be that as long as he and WND are not audited, the Bush adminstration is not conducting politically motivated audits? That's hardly the sign of a good investigative journalist.

Unsurprisingly, WND has never reported on these accusations, apparently believing that the Bush IRS must have a good reason for auditing its critics.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:17 AM EDT
Monday, October 23, 2006
WND's Newest Columnist Is ... Chuck Norris?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's so shocking that WorldNetDaily had to put "No joke!" in the headline announcing it: actor and martial artist Chuck Norris is indeed writing a weekly column for WND.

Of course, it's not Norris' acting skills, martial arts prowess or even the one-liners that ultimately sealed the deal for WND -- it's his right-wing Christianity. And his inaugural column, which attempts to riff on those one-liners, shows that it's a leaden, preachy kind of conservative Christianity:

Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: "Chuck Norris' tears can cure cancer. Too bad he never cries. Ever."

There was a man whose tears could cure cancer or any other disease, including the real cause of all diseases – sin. His blood did. His name was Jesus, not Chuck Norris.

If your soul needs healing, the prescription you need is not Chuck Norris' tears, it's Jesus' blood.

Apparently, WND didn't enough preachy evangelicals on his column roster.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:52 PM EDT
Questions for Corsi
Topic: WorldNetDaily

At the end of yet another attack piece on Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate -- in which he uses the term "lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, and transgender" 10 times, which must be some kind of record -- WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi writes: "Mr. Strickland, the voters in Ohio demand a straight and honest answer in the last two weeks of the gubernatorial campaign."

What a coincidence -- we want some answers to the following from Mr. Corsi:

  • How much is Corsi coordinating with his co-author, Strickland opponent Ken Blackwell, in writing his series of anti-Strickland columns?
  • Is Corsi on the payroll of the Blackwell campaign?
  • How much did Blackwell pay him to co-author his book?
  • Is Corsi writing these attacks on Strickland as part of his book deal?
  • Why did it take Corsi five days after his first anti-Strickland column to disclose his connection with Strickland's opponent?

Straight and honest answers would suffice, sir.

UPDATE: Plunderbund points out the dishonesty and dissembling in Corsi's column.

UPDATE 2: Welcome, WorldNetDaily readers. You can find my response to Corsi's column here. Feel free to browse around the site and learn more about WND.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:22 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, October 26, 2006 2:47 AM EDT
WND Ignores Israeli President's Sex Scandal
Topic: WorldNetDaily

As we've documented, WorldNetDaily Jerusalem reporter Aaron Klein has long been fond of repeating every salacious accusation made against Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert -- from accusations of political corruption to claims that he's the tool of Israel's business oligarchy. Klein's hatred of Olmert is so extreme that he even tried to undermine Olmert's authority during last summer's conflict with Hezbollah.

But there's an even bigger scandal involving a high Israeli official. President Moshe Katsav has been accused of rape, not to mention fraud, illegal wiretapping, bribery and obstruction of justice. He has refused to resign, despite widespread demands to do so.

Yet Klein has never written an article for WND about the accusations against Katsav. In fact, Katsav hasn't even been mentioned in an original WND article since March. Why?

The most likely answer: Katsav is a member of the conservative Likud party, for whom Klein has a history of showing great deference. Klein has served as a conduit for Likud attacks on Olmert, and he even has trouble admitting that Likud is, in fact, conservative.

Everyone loves a good sex scandal; does Klein think his readers won't? Or is writing about a conservative politician's troubles so traumatic for him that he refuses to do it?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:26 AM EDT
NewsBusters Nonsense, Noel Sheppard Edition

NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard was quite the busy beaver this weekend, making several dubious and hypocritical claims:

-- In an Oct. 21 post on the Senate race debate between Hillary Clinton and her opponent, John Spencer, Sheppard noted that "[a]s one would expect, the New York Times gave the win to the Democrat" but that "Dick Morris felt Hillary lost 'big time.' " Sheppard described Morris only as a "former Clinton administration advisor" and not the professional Clinton-hater that he is. Thus, Morris' conclusion would also be "as one would expect," something Sheppard failed to note.

-- In an Oct. 22 post, Sheppard touted the "new highs set by the Dow Jones Industrial Average last week" without noting -- as his fellow MRC'ers did when oil prices hit record highs -- that it's not a record when adjusted for inflation.

-- An Oct. 22 post bashed Bill Maher for criticizing "some of America’s leading conservatives, as well as right-wing think tanks for having been so wrong in their predictions about the Iraq war." Why? Because he "didn’t mention one liberal or left-leaning group that has been just as wrong about events crucial to Americans, including those that have been disseminating consistently bearish views about the economy in the midst of 20 straight quarters of growth." Sheppard adds:

No, Bill, as is typical, you only focus negatively upon conservatives, and refuse to acknowledge when anybody on the other side of the aisle makes a mistake even when it’s glaring.

But Sheppard does exactly what Maher does -- attacks liberal economists and never addresses the issue of whether Maher has a point about conservatives' support for the war. In other words, he's as "shameless" as he accuses Maher of being.

-- Yet another Oct. 22 post yet again falsely claims that a poll's political breakdown of respondents is "skewed" because more Democrats than Republicans were polled. Sheppard complains that "It shouldn’t be hard to find equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats to answer questions, especially when the total sample is only 1,000," but he offers no evidence that equal numbers of Democrats and Repubicans would make a poll more accurate. As we keep pointing out every time Sheppard does this, Republican strategist Rich Galen states that 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." Thus, it skews a poll to have an even number of Democrats and Republicans, as Sheppard demands.

In the poll he cites, he claims "24 percent more Democrats were surveyed than Republicans." But that's a meaningless statistic. What's more important is the percentage breakdown: he provide a percentage breakdown of the respondent breakdown: 282 Republicans, or 29.3%; 349 Democrats, or 36.3%; and 330 Independents, or 34.3%. The breakdown accurately reflects the general population.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:54 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 23, 2006 12:56 AM EDT
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Behind the Kennedy-KGB Claim

An Oct. 20 article by Kevin Mooney plays up a claim in a new book that in the early 1980s, Sen. Edward Kennedy "offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations strategy to counter President Reagan's foreign policy and to complicate his re-election efforts." But not only does Mooney make any apparent attempt to contact Kennedy (or anyone else) for a response to the claim, he fails to disclose the background of the book's author.

Mooney describes Paul Kengor, author of "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism," only as "a political science professor at Grove City College." But he's much more than that: as the title of the book suggests, he's a Reagan hagiographer. Kengor authored the 2004 book "God and Ronald Reagan," which purports to describe "the role Reagan's personal spirituality played in his political career, shaping his ideas, bolstering his resolve, and ultimately compelling him to confront the brutal -- and, not coincidentally, atheistic -- Soviet empire." Kengor also wrote the similarly themed "God and George W. Bush."

Kengor is also executive director of Grove City College's Center for Vision & Values, a think tank and policy center that claims as a goal "advancing freedom with Christian scholarship" and "presupposes that God is sovereign, that man is made in the image of God and is therefore of inestimable and eternal value, and that the God of the Bible is the indispensable starting point for understanding truth."

Kengor has written numerous pro-Bush, pro-Republican and anti-Democrat op-eds, such as a Dec 19, 2005, article that calls Bush "a proven visionary, one that history will not be able to deny," the New York Times "the Grand Central Station for liberal enmity toward the president," and claims that the Times' reporting on the Bush adminstration's warrantless domestic spying program was evidence of "a vast left-wing movement to get George W. Bush." An Oct. 20, 2005, aricle complained that conservatives who opposed failed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers "are likely losing a wonderful opportunity to undercut Roe v. Wade."

As a conservative loyalist, Kengor certainly has the motivation to promote claims that make Democrats look bad. 

Further, Mooney's article offers no evidence that the letter claiming Kennedy's offer to the KGB has been authenticated by Kengor or anyone else (the KGB did have a history of fabricating evidence). As CNS writers often do for conservatives, Mooney apparently accepted Kengor's claims at face value. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, October 22, 2006 12:32 PM EDT
CNS, Your Republican Talking Points Repetition Service
Topic:'s Susan Jones once again serves as a willing conduit for anti-Democrat talking points by copying-and-pasting a Republican Study Committee press release -- Jones even admits it's "straight from the Republicans' press release" -- as an Oct. 20 article of a list of bills allegedly introduced by Democrats in Congress. Jones did the same thing on Oct. 12 with an American Family Association press release, as we've noted.

As she did with the AFA, Jones accepts the RSC's claims at face value, making no attempt to fact-check them or to contact any Democrat for a response -- something that runs contrary to professional journalism.

WorldNetDaily's Ron Strom also did the RSC's bidding by repeating it in an Oct. 21 column falsely claiming that the list was the Democrats' "agenda."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:26 AM EDT
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Farah's Anti-Tattoo Screed
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 20 "news" article by Joseph Farah ostensibly about employers being sued for discrimination against employees with tattoos and piercing -- of which Farah cites only one example -- quickly devolves into a screed against body modification.

Farah declares, "Children – both boys and girls – are staining their bodies with the permanent ink for no better reason than 'everybody is doing it' or 'I thought the picture was cool.' It's not just an urban thing any more, either," and laments that "[t]he tattoo taboo is definitely breaking down." And in case Farah's rant was somehow too subtle, his article is accompanied by pictures of extreme examples of modification, such as a woman whose face is tattooed and a man who has had demonic horn-like indentations implanted in his forehead. 

Farah also makes an inflammatory guilt-by-association claim for which he offers no evidence for: After noting the existence of "children's books like 'Mommy Has a Tattoo' and the 'Tattoo Coloring Book,' " Farah claims:

Just as "Heather Has Two Mommies" is now required reading for kindergartners in some school districts, how long will it be before the tolerance police mandate Phil Padwe's new books. He's the author and illustrator of the two new children's books on tattoos. 

So, getting tattoos is the same thing as being homosexual? And, of course, Farah never names the "some" school districts in which "Heather Has Two Mommies" is "required reading." (And how many kindergarteners read, anyway?)

This is a theme with WND: A January 2004 article by David Kupelian -- which also appears in his book "The Marketing of Evil" attacks today's "insane" youth culture by lumping tattoos and "earrings for males" with "[r]itual scarification and 3D-art implants ... genital beading, stretching and cutting, transdermal implants, scrotal implants, tooth art and facial sculpture," not to mention branding, tongue-splitting, non-medical amputations and "bug-chasing," people who purportedly deliberately try to get infected with the HIV virus (citing a Rolling Stone article on the subject that has been mostly debunked).

Of course, no Kupelian rant is complete without blaming the ills he writes about on the Clintons, and here he drops in a reference to "a traumatized, amoral sociopath of a baby-boomer named Bill Clinton," adding: "If you don't think Bill Clinton's escapades with Monica – covered by the media like the Super Bowl – had everything to do with the explosion of middle-school sexual adventures across America, then open your eyes."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:18 AM EDT
Friday, October 20, 2006
Record-High Hypocrisy Continues
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 20 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd complained that CBS' Katie Couric "the Dow's record close above 12,000."

As we've noted the last time Shepherd did this, the Dow's "record close" is not a record when adjusted for inflation. That's important because Shepherd's MRC cohorts were apoplectic earlier this year when news outlets reported on record high oil prices because they weren't when adjusted for inflation.

UPDATE: Shepherd's article on the same subject at the MRC's Business & Media Institute similarly trumpets that "[t]he Dow Jones Industrial Average set an all time record" without adjusting for inflation.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:34 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, October 20, 2006 4:30 PM EDT
Morgan's Dishonest Rhetorical Tactics
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In her Oct. 20 WorldNetDaily column, Melanie Morgan follows WND's lead by citing only extreme examples of criticism of her new anti-Cindy Sheehan book, "American Mourning," and portraying it as representative of all criticism. Linking to an Oct. 19 WND article claiming that "Cindy Sheehan fans" are "calling one of the authors 'fat.' They are calling another one a 'whore.' They are using the 'b-word' about both of them. And those are the calmer reactions" -- taken from a single comment thread on a liberal website -- Morgan claims that "Cindy Sheehan's supporters are furious that this book has been published, and they are doing everything they can to stop this message from being heard by the American public."

This is a cheap, dishonest rhetorical tactic that WND likes to use; as we've noted, it did so in its promotion of WND managing editor David Kupelian's book "The Marketing of Evil."

Morgan further claims that her book "tells the truth (both the good and the bad) about Cindy Sheehan," but not only does Morgan have a history of harsh criticism of Sheehan, she offers no example of anything good she has written about Sheehan. Further, that Oct. 19 WND article specifically states that Morgan's book is "highly critical of the anti-war figure."

Morgan's use of such dishonest tactics to promote her book belie her claims that her book tells "the truth" and reinforce the perception that it's all about performing a smear job on Sheehan.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:38 AM EDT

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