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Monday, November 6, 2006
Ponte Cites Discredited Study
Topic: Newsmax

In a Nov. 6 NewsMax column claiming that by voting against Democrats, "you can vote against the Left wing media," Lowell Ponte cites as evidence that there are "lords who rule America's liberal press" who have "unchecked power" by their alleged support of liberal politicians the following:

A 2005 University of California Los Angeles-led study found that 18 of the nation's top 20 media outlets skewed their news coverage significantly to the Left.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said UCLA political scientist Tim Groseclose, the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

Of the two media outlets that did not tilt Left, the UCLA-led study found, the Fox News Channel program "Special Report with Brit Hume" indeed "proved to be right of center," and Fox News is "often cited by liberals as an egregious example of a right-wing outlet."

However, the study continued, ABC's "World News Tonight" and NBC's "Nightly News" – which present themselves as unbiased newscasts - are about as far left of center as the Fox is right of center.

Ponte does not note that the Groseclose study has been discredited because it employed a measure of "bias" so problematic that its findings are next to useless (for instance, it considers the ACLU "liberal") and it lacks citations to scholarly literature on the subject of media bias (yet offers numerous links to right-wing sources). Ponte also fails to note that Groseclose and his co-author, Jeffrey Milyo, have ties to conservative think tanks.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:25 PM EST
Kessler's Scare Tactics
Topic: Newsmax

In his Nov. 6 NewsMax column, Ronald Kessler abandons what little pretense of being a fair reporter he had to further smear Democrats.

Echoing his previous false and misleading attacks on Democrats, Kessler writes:

If the Democrats win control of Congress and their rhetoric and votes are to be believed, they would adopt the Clinton administration's spineless approach to fighting terrorism.

They would gut the USA Patriot Act.

They would stop interception of calls from al-Qaida to and from the U.S.

They would end tracking of terrorists' financial transfers.

They would bestow legal rights on al-Qaida terrorists who are being interrogated about planned plots rights similar to those enjoyed by American citizens.

Finally, they would cut off funds to support the war effort in Iraq, handing al-Qaida a win in what the terrorists themselves have described as a crucial battleground in their effort to defeat America and impose their vision of radical Islam on the world.

No evidence, no analysis -- just scare tactics. This is the guy who has claimed to earn prestigious journalism awards?

As we've detailed, Kessler threw away a distinguished journalism career to commit to NewsMax -- whom he laughably claimed "practices journalism honestly and fairly" -- and Bush hagiography. This just confirms how far away he is from what he tossed aside. If Kessler this his column is an example of "honest and fair" journalism, he is seriously deluded.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:35 AM EST
Farah Gets It Wrong about Klein's Terrorist Buddies
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Nov. 6 WorldNetDaily article promoting Aaron Klein's claim that terrorists want Democrats to win on Tuesday features a rebuttal of a Media Matters item I co-wrote pointing out Klein's regular promotion of previous statements by his stable of terrorists:

David Brock's media watchdogs at Media Matters are fighting mad about what they see as Fox News Channel's promotion of the WND scoop.

Media Matters hyperventilates that Klein "has similarly promoted inflammatory statements by terrorists in the past."
"I think most of the world understood that neither Klein nor WND was 'promoting' what these terrorists had to say," explained WND Editor Joseph Farah. "There is much speculation in the press about what these dangerous people think and want. Our reporter just happens to be one of the very few who is not afraid to ask them questions and report their answers verbatim. That's not promotion. It's good journalism – something about which David Brock and his organization apparently know little."

As we point out in our analysis of Klein's reporting of terrorist statements, Klein clearly has some kind of relationship with them -- after all, as a right-wing Jew, he is their enemy, a writer has no history of fairness toward their views. 

And speaking of "good journalism," Klein has no evidence that the three terrorists he quotes in his article to are representative of the views of all terrorists on the U.S. elections -- yet he and WND are claiming that they are, which is hardly sound journalistic practice. As Media Matters has noted, intelligence agencies have concluded that Osama bin Laden's release of a videotape before the 2004 election was designed to get President Bush re-elected -- something Klein fails to mention in his article. Klein's terrorist buddies could have similarly been feeding him disinformation they know he would use as red meat for his conservative readers because they, in fact, want the Republicans to win.

So let's not pretend that "good journalism" had anthing to do with Klein's article. Klein has a long history of using his reporting for partisan ends, and nothing has changed here.

To that end, we have a challenge for Klein and Farah: Print our detailed criticisms of Klein's reporting on WND, and rebut them point by point. Tell us why we're wrong to note Klein's history of bias and lack of full context. Tell us how three people constitutes an official consensus of the views of hundreds of thousands of terrorists. Tell us how Klein maintains a working relationship with these terrorists when he is their enemy.

You wanna take us? Go ahead on. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:32 AM EST
New Article: Aaron Klein's Terrorist Buddies
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Another election, another excuse for WorldNetDaily's Jerusalem reporter to try to link Democrats to terrorists. Do the terrorists Klein quotes know he's using them, or are they a party to his game? Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:55 AM EST
Kill-The-Messenger Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

When you can't rebut the message, attack the messenger. That's what NewsBusters did regarding a editiorial that appeared in the Army Times and related publications supporting the resignation of Defense Secreatary Donald Rumsfeld, where writers were quick to tar it with the allegedly liberal view of the papers' corporate owner, Gannett:

  • John Stephenson insisted that Army Times and related newspapers were not "professional military publications," adding, "They are now part of the Gannett Group (USAToday) and the writers for these four 'military papers' also work at USAToday!"
  • Michael Bates reiterated the ownership point, also claiming: "Moreover, this isn't the first time these 'military newspapers' have called for Mr. Rumsfeld to be fired.  They also did so two and one-half years ago."
  • Mark Finkelstein claimed that the papers are "nothing more than cogs in the Gannett chain, a member-in-good-standing of the MSM whose flagship paper is the reliably-liberal USA Today." Finknelstein offers no evidence that every Gannett-owned paper must follow the editorial policies of USA Today. Nor does he support his suggestion that getting rid of Rumsfeld is an inherently "liberal" position, after all, numerous Republicans have been critical of Rumsfeld's performance during the war.

WorldNetDaily joined the kill-the-messenger party, playing up in a Nov. 5 article a claim that, as a reporter for Stars and Stripes during the Vietnam War, Army Times editor Robert Hodierne was accused of "treason" for writing about a group of soldiers "who, for a brief time, refused to fight."

WND does not detail the actual article that Hodierne wrote. In it, he writes of an infantry company that lost 23 men and an officer during a day of fighting:

By two p.m. the sixty-one men of Bravo Company were ready to move back into the same area. No one really wanted to go. They just wanted to sit in the shade and be left alone.

The commander, Captain William H. Grayler, explained the situation. There would be no helicopter gunship support. The gunships had more important things to do than support Bravo Company. Air and artillery couldn't be used because the marines were too close. They had no mortars, The infantryman, with his rifle and grenades, was expected to dig out the North Vietnamese.

 WND doesn't explain where, exactly, the "treason" is in Hodierne's article.

UPDATE: Accuracy in Media also hops on the bandwagon. (You'd think this was coordinated or something.) A Nov. 6 column by Cliff Kincaid calls Gannett "important bastion of liberal media power" and attacks USA Today.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:10 AM EST
Updated: Monday, November 6, 2006 8:40 AM EST
Sunday, November 5, 2006
WND vs. Hal Turner
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's latest crusade is an unusual one: attacking an extreme right-wing radio host.

An Oct. 29 WND article reported on "anti-Semitic white supremacist" Hal Turner's statement that he "may have to" assassinate incumbent members of Congress who win re-election Nov. 7. Follow-up articles have noted a federal investigation into Turner's statement and Turner's response that he he was just kidding: "Since I don't actually plan to kill anyone, I didn't bother creating a list of any type."

This line of attack is unusual because typically, the only time WND goes after a right-winger is for not being right-wing enough. Heck, WND published Michael Savage's first two books, then defended Savage after he was canned from his MSNBC show for telling a caller to "get AIDS and die."

Turner, needless to say, is unhappy about the attention. On his website, he calls WND editor Joseph Farah a "filthy hypocrite," linking to our item noting that Farah condoned the killing of an adulterer. Turner concluded: "Hey Joe Farah: FUCK OFF, asshole!"

We're certainly not endorsing any of Turner's views; he's every bit as odious as WND depicts him as being, and then some. But given that Turner has been spouting these views for years -- in 1998, as a regular caller on Sean Hannity's radio show, Turner said that "if it weren't for the white man, blacks would still be swinging from the trees in Africa" -- we wonder what took WND so long to notice.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:43 PM EST
Did Corsi Hurt Blackwell?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The latest polling for the Ohio governor's race shows Democrat Ted Strickland an amazing 36 points ahead of Republican Ken Blackwell, up from a 19-point lead a month earlier. The Columbus Dispatch notes that Blackwell recently "began airing positive commercials after other Republicans said his harsh criticism of Strickland was hurting the entire ticket."

That criticism, of course, centered on sex-related issues regarding Strickland -- his purported homosexuality, the hiring of a person who had once been convicted on indecency charges, a vote on a House bill condemning a sex-related study. As we've noted, all of these issues Blackwell raised were mirrored in a series of articles written by Jerome Corsi -- co-author of a book with Blackwell -- for WorldNetDaily.

Such overaggressive gay-baiting attacks, and the subsequent polling showing plummeting support for Blackwell, raise the question of whether Corsi ended up hurting his friend instead of helping him. He was over the top, at one point writing a column containing the phrase "lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender" or slight variants a whopping 22 times. That may also be why Corsi used his Nov. 3 column to praise Blackwell instead of bashing Strickland -- again, mirroring Blackwell's switch to more positive advertising.

It's two more days before the election, and two more days for Corsi to comment on it. Will Corsi go positive, or will he keep up his negative attacks on Strickland -- and risk hurting Blackwell's performance even further? 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:26 AM EST
MRC: Haggard Was Anti-Global Warming, Not a Real Conservative
Topic: Media Research Center

The ConWeb can't run away fast enough from evangelical Rev. Ted Haggard and his gay-sex-and-meth scandal. At the Media Research Center, they're questioning his conservative credentials.

On Nov. 3 and 4, the front page resurrected a November 2005 column by conservative icon Paul Weyrich complaining that under Haggard's leadership, the National Association of Evangelicals had been on a "leftward drift" by supporting governmental action against global warming. Weyrich hoped that "NAE traditional values - rather than unproven science -- will win the day."

A Nov. 4 NewsBusters post by Amy Ridenour continued the theme:

In light of the recent scandlous allegations regarding evangelical leader Rev. Ted Haggard, many news outlets have been referring to Haggard as a "conservative." Only a small number are mentioning that Haggard also sees himself as a global warming activist -- and definitely not one of the "skeptic" variety.

So, you can't be a conservative and not want to do something about global warming?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:31 AM EST
Getting It Wrong: NY Times and Iraq Nukes
Topic: Media Research Center

Media Research Center writers were eager to deliberately misinterpret a Nov. 3 New York Times article as claiming that Iraq was close to having a nuclear bomb at the time the Iraq war started in 2003:

-- Al Brown, in a NewsBusters post, excitedly claimed that "Saddam Hussein's regime was perhaps only a year away from developing nuclear weapons at the time of the US invasion," calling the Times article "a stunning November Surprise to the Democrats."

-- A Times Watch item by Clay Waters doesn't specifically assign the nuke claim to pre-2003 invasion but claims that it "suggests Bush was right to consider Saddam Hussein a threat," adding that "many [conservatives] think the Times has unwittingly proved Bush right on the matter of the threat dictator Saddam Hussein posed to the world."

Here's the graf in question from the Times article:

Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

It's not very clearly written -- the writer drops three different time periods to which "at the time" could apply -- but it appears that given the order of the paragraph, "at the time" applies to "the Persian Gulf war." It makes even more sense when you consider that at least three U.S. or U.K. government reports concluded that Saddam did not have an active WMD or nuclear program at the time of the 2003 invasion; in fact, those reports also conlcuded that Saddam's nuclear capability was destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War. While Saddam may certainly have wanted WMDs, desire and capability are two different things.

By downplaying or misinterpreting the most logical date that Saddam was "on the verge of building an atom bomb," MRC writers like Brown and Waters do their readers a disservice. Or is their version of attacking "liberal bias" not supposed to be based in fact?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:11 AM EST
Saturday, November 4, 2006
Corsi Recycles False Winter Soldier Claim
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From Jerome Corsi's Nov. 4 WorldNetDaily column:

In co-authoring "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," John O'Neill and I documented that Kerry's insults against the U.S. military trace back to his 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. There, Kerry falsely accused our troops in Vietnam of being an army of Ghengis Khan that were committing unspeakable crimes. Kerry further claimed our military in Vietnam were committing these crimes on a daily basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

Kerry based his claims to the committee on false statements made to a Vietnam Veteran's Against the War set of "hearings" known as "The Winter Soldier Investigation," held in Detroit, Mich., in January and February 1971. In a book entitled "Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation was Robbed of its Heroes and its History," authors B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley documented that much of the testimony given at these mock hearings was fraudulent, much of it given by those who had never served in Vietnam.

In fact, as ConWebWatch has detailed, Burkett's claim that the Winter Soldier testimony was "fraudulent" is based on a claim in a 1978 book by historian Guenter Lewy. He claimed that there was a Naval Investigative Service report that discredited Winter Soldier -- but the Navy can't confirm the existence of the report, and Lewy himself "does not recall if he saw a copy of the naval investigative report or was briefed on its contents."

Hardly a solid, stellar piece of evidence. And Corsi wrote an entire book about Kerry based on evidence such as this, folks.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:57 AM EST
Friday, November 3, 2006
Haggard = McGreevey?

A Nov. 3 article by Susan Jones (who else?) bizarrely equates the burgeoning gay-sex-and-meth scandal involving evangelical leader Ted Haggard with former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey's admission that he is gay:

There was no immediate reaction from homosexual advocacy groups to the allegations surrounding Pastor Ted Haggard, the Christian evangelical leader accused of engaging in extra-marital homosexual trysts -- something he denies. Readers posting comments on one liberal blog were screaming "hypocrisy."

But when former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, was forced out of the proverbial closet two years ago, homosexual advocacy groups praised his courage under pressure, even though McGreevey, as governor, had opposed same-sex marriage.

"The governor's coming out today was no doubt poignant for every member of the lesbian and gay community in New Jersey and, in fact, across America. We all know how difficult it is to come out as openly gay, whether to family or other loved ones. No one could imagine what it's like to come out to 300 million people -- this is totally unprecedented," Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, said at the time.

Steven Fisher, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, told MSNBC-TV: "Coming out is a deeply personal journey, and Gov. McGreevey today showed enormous courage."

But unlike McGreevey, Haggard has yet to admit that he is gay or that he engaged in homosexual behavior; in fact, Jones quotes Haggard as saying that he "never had a gay relationship with anybody." And unlike Haggard, McGreevey wasn't forced out of his position after the gay-related allegations were made public; he resigned as he made them public himself.

So we're not sure how Haggard is like McGreevey at all, unless it was a desperation move by Jones and CNS to equivocate the Haggard allegations with some Democrat. Mark Foley, of course, would have been a much closer comparison, but he's a Republican.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:35 PM EST
MRC Misleads on Olbermann Claim
Topic: Media Research Center

A Nov. 3 Media Research Center CyberAlert item (and NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker falsely suggests that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was wrong to claim, in naming MRC president Brent Bozell as a nominee for Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" segment, that Bozell "wrote the Willie Horton ad." Baker wrote: "Bozell 'wrote the Willie Horton ad'? That 1988 ad, which continues to infuriate liberals, certainly has a lot of fathers."

But Bozell does, in fact, proclaim his involvement in his Nov. 1 syndicated column: "For the record, it was your humble writer here who produced the very first Willie Horton ad." It may not be the specific ad to which Olbermann is referring, but Bozell is clearly taking credit for introducing the Willie Horton issue (though he claims that "[i]t was only when I was shown the final ad that I learned that Willie Horton was black").

Despite what Baker suggests, Olbermann's claim (though not entirely accurate) is not coming from out of nowhere and is based in Bozell's own words.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:42 PM EST
Aaron Klein's Terrorist Buddies
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Nov. 2 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein purports to quote "senior terrorist leaders" who "ay they hope Americans sweep the Democrats into power because of the party's position on withdrawing from Iraq." But Klein is unusually cozy with the terrorists he quotes, and they have a history of popping up to reinforce conservative talking points.

For instance, Jihad Jaara, who Klein describes as "a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades" and who he quotes here as saying, "Of course Americans should vote Democrat," did a cozy sit-down interview with Klein and radio host Rusty Humphries that aired in January.

Abu Ayman, an Islamic Jihad leader in Jenin who Klein quotes as saying that he is "emboldened" by those in America who compare the war in Iraq to Vietnam, is positively chatty with Klein. Just three days earlier, Klein quoted Ayman saying that Ramadan prayers "helped the mujahedeen fighters to mark a great victory" over the U.S. in Iraq.

Upon the death of an American teenager, Daniel Wultz, from injuries suffered in a suicide bombing in Israel in May, Klein reported that Ayman "threatened all Americans and Jews worldwide and expressed regret Wultz was not imediately killed in the blast."

Another terrorist confidante of Klein's is Abu Abdullah of Hamas, whom Klein quotes as saying that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would "convince those among the Palestinians who still have doubts in the efficiency of the resistance." In an Oct. 14 article, Klein quotes Abdullah as claiming that Hamas is "open" to attacking the U.S. And as part of Klein's crusade against Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, he quoted Abdullah in a July 7 article as touting the range of Hamas missiles.

WND was more than happy to play partisan with Klein's article. A Nov. 3 column by Joseph Farah used the article to attack Democrats, claiming that "the terrorists really do want the Democrats to win."

Nowhere in Klein's article does he mention that he may be counterproductive. You may recall that conservatives spun a video released by Osama bin Laden shortly before the 2004 presidential election as evidence that bin Laden supported the election of Democrat John Kerry. In fact, in his book "The One Percent Doctrine," author Ron Suskind reported that CIA analysts agreed that "bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection."

When CNN aired a video of an insurgent sniper in Iraq targeting U.S. soldiers, conservatives rushed to attack CNN for it, claiming that it was airing terrorist propaganda. Yet Klein's frequent consorting with terrorists gets no notice from these same conservatives, though he is doing the exact same thing -- repeating terrorist propaganda. Why?

Do the terrorists Klein hangs out with know that he's just using them, promoting their statements to whip up conservative sentiment against them and to smear the political enemies of Klein and his employer? Or are they in on Klein's game?

UPDATE: Regarding Jarra, Klein notes that he is living in exile in Ireland, but does not explain how he can be a "senior terrorist leader" though he lives so far from the Middle East. Klein has also done a previous interview with Jarra in which he asks if the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades "used pages of the Bible as toilet paper" during a 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

UPDATE 2: Klein also pulled this stunt in 2004, claiming that Yasser Arafat had endorsed John Kerry. 

UPDATE 3: A more thorough examination of Klein's article is here.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:16 AM EST
Updated: Monday, November 6, 2006 5:16 PM EST
Thursday, November 2, 2006
Kessler Can't Stop Misleading on Dems, Patriot Act
Topic: Newsmax

Republican fluffer extrordinaire Ronald Kessler is still pushing his dubious attacks on Democrats. A Nov. 2 NewsMax article by Kessler claims:

In contrast, with the exception of Joe Lieberman and a few others, when it comes to recognizing the threats we face and taking appropriate action, Democrats are in a state of denial. As outlined in an Oct. 31 NewsMax story, Democrats have sought to kill the USA Patriot Act, which FBI agents and CIA officers consider their single most important tool for hunting down terrorists and preventing another 9/11 attack.

As we've detailed, the Kessler-penned article to which he links makes numerous false and misleading claims about Democrats and the Patriot Act.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:39 PM EST
Finkelstein Graduates to CNS

The Media Research Center is apparently not bothered by NewsBusters blogger Mark Finkelstein's long history of misleading, hypocritical, smear-laden, contradictory and biased claims. That just means he's ready to write for the MRC's "news" site,

A Nov. 2 CNS article by Finkelstein forwarded without challenged a claim by the "chief spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq" that the "reason why Americans don't hear as much good news as bad news from Iraq" is because "as soon as we announce [good news], the insurgents will immediately ... target that, in order to discount it." There's no mention of how this explanation conflicts with the standard explanation offered by conservatives like himself -- that the media, not the military, is to blame for the lack of good news from Iraq.

At the end of that article is the following note: "Mark Finkelstein is heading to Iraq later this month and will report for Cybercast News Service from Baghdad and Fallujah."

So, not only is news bias encouraged at the MRC, it's rewarded.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:22 PM EST

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