Did Webb Really 'Defend' Penis-In-Mouth Incident? Topic: NewsBusters
An Oct. 28 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd attacking the Washington Post for not including an example in one of Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb's novels in which a father greets his 4-year-old son by putting the boy's penis in his mouth, Shepherd claimed that by claiming that claiming that it was "not a sexual act," Webb was defending the practice, calling Webb "quick to defend arguable incest."
That is misleading; nowhere has Webb been quoted endorsing the practice. What Webb, in fact, defended is the inclusion of that incident in his book, not the incident itself. Yet, in a comment on the post, Shepherd adds:
Maybe in that culture it is not. But it says something that the first thing to spring to his mind in an interview is to DEFEND it rather than say, "Yeah, it's pretty sick, but that's part of their culture."
Mind you, this is apparently merely a passing mention in Webb's book -- neither Shepherd nor the CNSNews.com article he quoted offer any indication that it is anything more than that, let alone that Webb's book endorses or celebrates the practice.
This whole Webb fiction controversy -- shopped by the George Allen campaign and eagerly lapped up by Media Research Center arms such as NewsBusters and CNSNews.com -- appears to be yet another example of the depiction-equals-approval fallacy. Shepherd appears to believe that because Webb didn't condemn the act he depicted, he must therefore approve of it. Again, that's a logical fallacy for which he has no evidence.
Shepherd is susceptible to peddling such faulty logic; he did so in an August post claiming that because the Washington Post didn't explicitly condemn the acts of dumpster-diving it depicted in a article, it "glorifie[d]" them.
Graham Channels Biased Corsi on Strickland Topic: NewsBusters
An Oct. 28 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham complained that the Washington used "one paragraph" to "dispose" of the accusation made by Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell that his Democratic opponent, Ted Strickland, allegedly knowingly hired as a campaign manager a man who had been convicted on indecency charges four years earlier, declaring, "This scandal deserves its own story." As background on the case, Graham cites ... Jerome Corsi.
Graham links to a Oct. 25 Corsi article on the Human Events website that similarly overstates the case against the campaign manager in the way that Corsi's articles on the issue for WorldNetDaily do (as we've documented).
But Graham fails to note that Corsi is not exactly an unbiased reporter here: he co-wrote a book with Blackwell. Human Events also fails to point that out as well.
Graham also engages in the conservative game of downplaying the Mark Foley scandal by comparison, repeating a Post article's claim that "No one interviewed for this article could cite any instance in which Foley had sex with a former page." Graham conveniently misses the point of the article, which is that Foley actively and repeatedly cultivated relationships with congressional pages over a period of years that "if a boy seemed willing to go along, some conversations [by Foley with the pages] grew more sexual." The Strickland staffer's behavior, by comparison, occurred four years before his employment by Strickland, did not occur during his employ and was expunged from his record. Given this, Graham (and Corsi, for that matter) needs to explain how Foley and Strickland are equivalent.
Sheppard Follows the Conservative Playbook Topic: NewsBusters
An Oct. 27 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard complained that CNN followed "the liberal media playbook" in its coverage of the James Webb fiction non-scandal. Which raises the question: Has Sheppard followed the conservative media playbook in his coverage? Let's see...
Inappropriate comparison to a much bigger scandal to inflate its importance? Yup: Sheppard compared Webb's fiction to the Mark Foley scandal. But wait -- wasn't Sheppard, just a few short weeks ago, dismissing the Foley scandal as "one virtually unknown congressman’s sexual indiscretions"?
Refusing to make a more appropriate comparison? Yup: In his first post on the issue, Sheppard made no mention of the sex-in-literature skills of, say, Lynne Cheney. In this post, he attacks CNN for bringing up Cheney's literary efforts, bashing it as "extraordinarily expedient" in using part of the "iberal media playbook." Actually, that's what is known as context; Sheppard might want to check out that concept sometime.
Attacking Webb for defending himself? Yup: Here, Sheppard depicts the allegedly offensive scenes Webb defended as "illuminating surroundings or defining a character or moving a plot" as CNN's giving "the offended Democrat an extraordinary amount of print-space to explain his or her position." That is, by the way, not something Sheppard himself did in his first post, since he apparently feels that Democrats should not be allowed to defend themselves.
Ignoring evidence that makes Republicans look bad? Yup: In addition to pretending there are not Republican equivalents to what Webb has done, Sheppard also has not mentioned evidence that the George Allen campaign shopped the story and that his MRC colleagues at CNSNews.com have eager promoters of the story with the Allen campaign's possible help.
When Matt Drudge published the press release from Virginia Sen. George Allen's campaign about lurid and sexually explicit excerpts from Jim Webb's novels, some WND readers asked why we didn't jump all over the story.
I'll tell you why.
For weeks, operatives within the Allen campaign were shopping this "story."
We were offered all the excerpts if we wanted it as an exclusive. I turned it down flat.
Because it's a non-story.
That certainly lends some credence to our theory that CNSNews.com cooperated with the Allen campaign in promoting the story. If it was shopped to WND, it was almost certainly shopped to CNS, who didn't think it was a "non-story," devoting a whopping four articles to it.
On the other hand, WND used the it-was-shopped claim to try and downplay the Mark Foley story, as demonstrated in an Oct. 10 article. And WND is not necessarily averse to "shopped" stories, as its cozy relationship with the Alliance Defense Fund vividly shows.
Did CNS Conspire With Allen Campaign? Topic: CNSNews.com
An Oct. 27 CNSNews.com article by Monisha Bansal examined Virginia Senate candidate Jim Webb's fiction for purportedly "racist" and "misogynistic" statements. (It's one of threearticles CNS has run today about Webb's fiction.) But did Bansal and CNS work with the campaign of Webb's opponent, Repblican Sen. George Allen, in the process?
The story suggests the possibility of coordination. Bansal notes that she talked to one person on Wednesday and that "Webb's campaign office has not returned multiple calls since Wednesday, seeking comment for this article. But she also notes that Allen's campaign "released a statement late Thursday listing excerpts from the books, charging that they "disturbingly and consistently -- indeed, almost uniformly -- portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these."
Interesting bit of timing there, isn't it? Bansal's article came out just in time to support and promote Allen's press release, and the two accompanying flood-the-zone articles further promote it. You'd almost think that CNS was sitting on the story until Allen could make it an issue.
We have no evidence of this, mind you; but we do think that the obvious timing issues raise questions that, given CNS' tightness with conservatives, CNS needs to answer.
Additionally, Bansal's article quotes only one person who directly responded to the excerpts CNS (and/or the Allen campaign) culled: noted literary critic Mychal Massie of Project 21. Really, now: Is someone who compares Democrats to Orval Faubus and Bull Connor and regularly hurls the Nazi slur (but hypocriticallydenounces Democrats who do the same thing) and has other fits of rhetorical excess really the go-to guy on issues of fiction? (Then again, the guy has forwarded his share of fiction in his WorldNetDaily column.)
UPDATE: CNS has posted another story -- the fourth of the day -- on FictionGate.
Sheppard: Fictional Sex = Foley Scandal Topic: NewsBusters
In an Oct. 27 post, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard really seems to believe that "depictions of homosexuality, and underage sexual activity" in Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb's novels should be given the same media attention as the non-fictional predatory behavior against congressional pages by Republican Rep. Mark Foley:
Given the media frenzy over Mark Foley’s electronic messages to male pages, the question is raised as to whether the press will give these revelations any coverage eleven days before Election Day. Should the fiction writings of a candidate seeking such high office be fair game for scrutiny, or is this a Hail Mary pass the media shouldn’t bother with?
Sheppard also did not list any response from the Webb campaign, apparently because he was too disturbed by the "lurid" content (or too envious of the George Allen staffers who had to document it). Sheppard also fails to similarly equate Republican vice-presidential wife Lynne Cheney with her fictional sex scenes.
Further, Sheppard cited Drudge for his claim (perhaps because it would have seemed too partisan to directly link to Allen's campaign website). What will he do with the knowledge that Drudge apparently endorses the new Bush assassination movie?
In an Oct. 27 WorldNetDaily article on an upcoming vote in Boise, Idaho, on whether to restore an Ten Commandments monument to a city park, Bob Unruh reports without challenge a claim by a supporter of restoring the monument that a monument to Anne Frank and a black history museum are "religious":
[Brandi] Swindell noted that the recent attack on religious monuments extended only to Christianity: a monument to Anne Frank and a Black History Museum remain in the same park from which the Ten Commandments were banned.
"To me that's religious bigotry," she said.
What does black history have to do with religion? Why is honoring a victim of political genocide a "religious" monument? Unruh doesn't explain.
MRC Writers Swallow Bush Claims on Economy Topic: Media Research Center
An Oct. 25 article by Amy Menefee and Julia A. Seymour at thte Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (and teased in an Oct. 26 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd) promotes misleading economic figures issued by the Bush administration.
Menefee and Seymour repeat without challenge the administration's claim that it created "6.6 million new jobs since August 2003." But, as Media Matters points out, by conveniently setting the baseline at August 2003, they ignore the fact that there was a net loss of 2.6 million U.S. jobs from February 2001 through July 2003. Thus, throughout the Bush presidency, there has been a net gain of only 3.2 million jobs.
Menefee and Seymour also appear to be guilty of selective reporting in claiming that "hourly compensation in non-farm businesses increased 7.7 percent from last year, according to a September 6 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics" and that "even The New York Times reported a “surge in wage-and-salary income in the first half of this year” on August 31." But the Times also reported on August 28 that in terms of real wages -- wages adjusted for inflation -- the median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003.
Then, to confuse the issue even further, Menefee and Seymour spend several paragraphs on a Forbes article detailing how much median income has risen since the 1960s and "the many luxuries the American middle class now enjoys." Well, of course wages have increased over 40 years, but that's irrelevant to the issue at hand -- unless the issue at hand is making President Bush look good.
WND: Michael J. Fox 'Immoral,' 'Outrageous' Topic: WorldNetDaily
From an Oct. 26 WorldNetDaily article plugging the new Hollywood-bashing edition of its Whistleblower magazine:
The spectacle of Michael J. Fox, writhing with Parkinson's Disease, campaigning for Democrat politicians pushing taxpayer-funded embryonic stem-cell research is just the latest example of a stunning trend: With rare exceptions, Hollywood celebrities always seem to champion outrageous or immoral positions on crucial national issues, and to aggressively use their social power and prestige to advance such agendas.
New Article #1: Single-Minded Smears Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi unleashes a series of anti-gay attacks against a candidate for Ohio governor -- but was slow to disclose that he wrote a book with the candidate's opponent. Read more.
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?
Klein Back to Anonymously Smearing Olmert Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein had been dormant the past few weeks on his smearcampaign 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.
WND, CNS Misleadingly Defend Morgan's Book Topic: WorldNetDaily
Both WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com 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.