A major theme at NewsBusters the past few days is accusing the MSM of withholding negative news about Democrats until after the November elections, presumably to give the Dems a better shot at winning. The lead target of this is Rep. John Murtha. This little conspiracy theory is best summed up by Tim Graham in a Nov. 18 post:
For about a year, John Murtha was portrayed by the liberal media as a bold Marine hero of the anti-war movement. So why did they almost never mention Murtha's sleazy role as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam probe? And why is it important now? If the question was Murtha's fitness to be House Majority Leader, surely it was known that Murtha was running for that post before the midterm elections. The media withholding this story line until it fit with the timing of the Democratic Party's mainstream defines a liberal media bias. It was certainly considered bad form when our CNSNews.com wrote about it in January:
But as we detailed back then, CNS editor in chief David Thibault essentially admitted that the stories were a partisan attack on Murtha in retaliation for his anti-war stance, and they were seen as such by pretty much everyone, given that the main sources for those articles were Murtha's political enemies. And the issue of Murtha running for the majority leader post was moot before the election because he first had to win re-election and the Democrats had to take control of the House (a prospect that the MRC boys were discounting at the time, if we remember correctly). Of course, as we've noted, CNS kept up its partisan attacks on Murtha before the election by giving lots of attention to Murtha's critics.
Farah Silent on Pombo's Corrpution Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his Nov. 17 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah lamented losses in the November midterm election by three "members of Congress who understand the Constitution and abide by it." One of them was Rep. Richard Pombo, Farah's co-author on the book "This Land Is Our Land" (and contradicting standard WND practice, Farah does disclose this):
Pombo is chairman of the House Resources Committee, where he spent much of his time trying to overhaul one of the most ridiculous pieces of legislation in the history of our country – the Endangered Species Act.
Pombo was targeted with millions of dollars by environmentalist extremist groups that don't really care about conservation or endangered animals but do care about government control and political power.
After all the shock expressed by Americans over eminent domain in the last two years, men like Pombo, who have been fighting for personal property rights for decades, should have been returned to power, not turned out. But this was a strange election cycle, indeed. It was quite an upset.
He is a good man. He will be missed not just by people in his congressional district, but by all freedom-loving Americans.
But by dismissing Pombo's loss as the result of "a strange election cycle" and being the target of "environmentalist extremist groups," Farah fails to acknowledge another noteworthy reason he lost: allegations of corruption. Pombo has beenlinked to disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and accused of using federal funds to pay for a 10-day family trip in an RV through several national parks. In fact, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) -- whom WND authoritatively cited for its allegations of corruption against John Murtha -- called Pombo one of the 13 most corrupt Members of Congress.
Is Aaron Klein Abetting Military Sedition in Israel? Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 17 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein is the latest in a line of articles to cite anonymous Israeli military sources to criticize Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and his prosecution of the fight against extremists in Gaza.
This made us think of an April column by the Washington Times' Tony Blankley, in which he suggests that retired U.S. military officials are guilty of sedition for criticizing the Bush administration's prosecution of the Iraq war. As support, Blankley cites the Uniform Code of Military Justice:
Article 88 -- Contempt toward officials Text.
"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."
This got us to wondering: Does Israel's military have similar sedition laws? The anonymous "military officials" certainly have as their goal the undermining of Olmert's authority to wage war as a head of state -- an undermining Klein is all to happy to abet given his own longtimehostility toward Olmert.
We're not familiar enough with the Israeli military to know for sure. But if military criticism of civilian leaders is considered seditious and treasonous in the U.S., it most likely is similarly so in Israel as well. As as we've previously noted, WND writers have previously denounced criticism of Bush's conduct of the Iraq war; why should that policy change just because WND doesn't like the person in charge?
It's nice (we think) to discover that we're on the same wavelength as NewsMax's Ronald Kessler.
Coinciding nicely with our new item detailing Kessler's Bush administration sycophancy, Kessler serves up a new NewsMax article that reinforces our view. This time, he's featuring Republican strategist Mary Matalin insisting that "[t]he Democrats' takeover of Congress is the 'last gasp of liberals' " and complaining that the Bush administration has gotten "credit for nothing that goes right and blame for everything that goes wrong."
Huston Still Misleads on Murtha Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 17 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston repeats his unsupported contention that Rep. John Murtha is "extreme," then misleadingly described his position on Iraq. Huston wrote that the media "refused to portray Murtha's position as 'extreme', even as he supports pulling out of Iraq immediately."
But as we noted, Murtha's position on Iraq is to pull out at the "earliest practicable date" -- which, despite Huston's suggestion, is not synonymous with "immediately."
McCullough: Obama 'Represents the Views of Satan' Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his Nov. 17 WorldNetDaily column, Kevin McCullough goes on a tirade against Sen. Barack Obama. Headlined "Why is Obama's evil in Rick Warren's pulpit?" and taking off on an invitation for Obama to speak at the church where the "Purpose-Driven Life" author is pastor, McCullough asks "Why would Warren marry the moral equivalency of his pulpit – a sacred place of honor in evangelical tradition – to the inhumane, sick and sinister evil that Obama has worked for as a legislator?" McCullough adds: "Warren is ready to turn over the spiritual mantle to a man who represents the views of Satan at worst or progressive anti-God liberals at best in most of his public positions on the greatest moral tests of our time."
Why is McCullough engaging in such a bizarre anti-Obama rant? He is a supporter of abortion rights and gay marriage. In McCullough's pretty little mind, this comes out as Obama's "long history of defying the intended morality of Scripture," supporting "the advance of the radical homosexual activist lobby in its pursuit to destroy traditional marriage" and "continued funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in our nation's inner cities, which are performing genocide against the populations of African Americans living there." McCullough adds that Obama "has also solidly backed the advancement of all "hate crimes" legislation, which ultimately may be used to silence clergy who believe according to their own convictions that homosexual behavior is wrong and preach so from biblical texts," but he offers no evidence that this is the case.
McCullough concludes by asking his readers to "call Rick Warren and ask him why Barack Obama's evil worldview will be given the high honor of addressing the faithful."
McCullough has previously attacked Obama. In a July 21 column, he claimed that Obama "implied that Bush wanted to take away the right of black people to cast a vote" during a speech before the NAACP. This gave him license to launch into the old right-wing talking point trope that Democrats opposed the civil rights movement, adding "This is part of what makes Barack Obama's willful misleading of the attendees to the NAACP so laughable, so sinister, so evil.
In a Nov. 5, 2004, column, McCullough wrote of one pastor's support for "Barrack [sic] Obama, who by every measure is someone who supports the radical homosexual agenda, partial-birth abortion, and even born-alive abortion."
From our where-are-they-now file: Marc Morano, former CNSNews.com reporter and current director of communications for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (that would be on the Republican side of things, meaning that he may be looking for a new job very shortly), was in Kenya this week for the United Nations conference on climate change. As we've noted, Morano has used his Senate job to make misleading claims about global warming -- he and his boss Sen. James Inhofe, oppose the idea that humans have anything to do with global warming.
A Nov. 14 Associated Press article notes that Morano is keeping up the fight:
A spokesman for the U.S. senator who described global warming as a hoax showed up at a gathering of believers Tuesday, claiming scientific dissent on the issue was being suppressed and demonized.
One scholar shot back that the Senate aide must be living on another planet. The exchange took place at the UN conference on climate change, which has drawn more than 5,000 diplomats, activists and scientists to consider new steps in combating global warming.
"The skeptics who get vocal are vilified," said Marc Morano, director of communications for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee chairman, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, has enraged environmentalists by calling global warming alarmist and a hoax.
Morano was invited to be part of a panel discussion on how best to convey the issue of climate change in the media. His fellow panelists, including Jules Boykoff of Pacific University in Oregon, argued that skeptics actually get too much attention in the press.
"The shrillness of these skeptics and their numbers have been on the decline," Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, told The Associated Press before the panel discussion.
But Morano referred to the two-week UN conference as an "echo chamber" where "the media and climate alarmists demonize climate skeptics."
Morano continues to bring the same standard of accuracy and fairness to his Senate job as he did at CNS. Remember, he co-wrote CNS' attacks on John Murtha earlier this year, which hauled out the disgruntled and the dead to smear Murtha.
Reality-Checking the 'Reality Check' Topic: Media Research Center
A Nov. 15 Media Research Center "Media Reality Check" by Rich Noyes lapses into Republican talking points -- not necessarily reflective of reality -- by describing Rep. John Murtha's proposal for withdrawal from Iraq as a "cut-and-run prescription" and "defeatism." Nowhere does Noyes actually state what exactly Murtha's proposal was -- to withdraw troops at the "earliest practicable date," nor does Noyes explain how withdrawal at the "earliest practicable date" equals "cut and run."
Noyes also claims that "ABC’s John Donvan, who fawned over Murtha in a January 2 Nightline interview, contended that by disagreeing with Murtha, 'the White House and its supporters set out to immediately smear Murtha’s standing as an American.' " But Noyes doesn't repeat what the White House said about Murtha's proposal, which lends credence to that description. Then-White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Murtha was "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party" and "surrender[ing] to the terrorists."
Noyes also noted that "Karl Rove criticized Murtha and John Kerry’s defeatism" treating defeatism as an uncontested fact (as did another reference to "Murtha's defeatist rhetoric") rather than as merely Rove's opinion. Noyes also failed to repeat Rove's specific claim -- perhaps because it was false. As Time's Joe Klein noted, Rove was accusing Murtha and Kerry of wanting to "cut and run" -- the playbook from which Noyes cribbed -- adding that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi wouldn't have been nailed if we had pulled out of Iraq. Klein adds:
Rove's assertion was scurrilous and inaccurate. Al-Zarqawi had been eliminated through terrific intelligence work and air power, neither of which required a substantial U.S. ground presence in Iraq.
Noyes' article is a "reality check" only if you consider Republican talking points to be reality.
Cashill Still Peddling Weldon Conspiracy Theory Topic: WorldNetDaily
Conspiracy maven and Curt Weldon promoter (but we repeat ourselves) Jack Cashill spends his Nov. 16 WorldNetDaily column flogging once more his latest conspiracy theory (which we've previously detailed) that former Clinton administration officials conspired to cause Weldon to lose his congressional seat to Democrat Joe Sestak.
Nothing really new here -- the usual false attacks on Sandy Berger, denigration of Sestak as a tool of the conspiracy. And once again, Cashill downplays the federal investigation into Weldon's influence-peddling calling it "dirty" that it was exposed a few weeks before the election and suggesting it was part of the larger anti-Weldon conspiracy plot. (Cashill never actually offers any evidence to contradict the influence-peddling claims.) This time, though, Cashill dragged his longtime TWA Flight 800 conspiracy-mongering into the picture, recounting the time Cashill showed Weldon his film on that conspiracy, "Silenced" (though Cashill fails to note in his column that he was the one who made "Silenced").
Cashill also writes of his attempts to get other media interested in his efforts to tie the Weldon investigation into his larger conspiracy theory:
I attempted to contact both [Greg] Gordon of the McClatchy papers and the local Pennsylvania newspaper, the Delco Times. I left messages telling them there was more to this plot than met the media's blinkered eye. I got no response from either.
Gee, why could that be? Perhaps because Cashill has a history of dubious conspiracy theories, such as his claiming that anti-abortion extremist James Kopp was framed in the shooting death of an abortion doctor shortly before Kopp pleaded guilty to shooting the doctor.
NewsBusters: Murtha Is An 'Extremist' Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 16 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston repeatedly insists that Rep. John Murtha is "extremist," but he doesn't say exactly what makes him so beyond his urging of a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq -- hardly an "extreme" position.
Huston complains that the media, unlike himself, aren't calling Murtha "extremist" (despite his own lack of support for the term), at one point comparing Murtha to Trent Lott by attacking a newspaper for "resurrecting Trent Lott's troubles from 2002." But Huston never states what exactly Lott's "troubles from 2002" are either. That, of course, would be Lott's praise of Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist Dixiecrat presidential run -- a much more "extreme" position to take than withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
New Article: Scare Tactics and Fluff Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax's Ronald Kessler did what he could to help Republicans win the election -- sycophantically portraying his friends in the Bush administration, and demonizing Democrats and congressional pages. Read more.
WND's Disingeuous Defense of Fox Hostage Story Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily is trying to dance around the implications of Aaron Klein's article claiming that $2 million in ransom was paid for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped in Gaza last summer.
In a response to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes' denial that Fox News paid a ransom for the release of Centanni and Wiig, WND editor Joseph Farah responded:
"We stand 100 percent behind Aaron Klein's story today about the release of kidnap victims Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.
"The statement by Roger Ailes completely distorts what our story carefully reported. Nowhere in our story did we ever allege, as Ailes' statement said, that Fox News paid $2 million for release of the terrorist hostages."
Ailes was quoted as saying: "I just saw an article on the internet from WorldNetDaily.com by Aaron Klein which claims we paid $2 million in hostage money during the Centanni & Wiig kidnapping crisis. The story is absolutely 100% false. Not a cent of hostage money was paid, and it was never considered ..."
"In fact," said Farah, "what we reported is 100 percent accurate – that some of those believed to be involved with the kidnappings say they received money. Period. No one in the story even suggested the money originated with Fox.
"Roger Ailes says the story is 100 percent false. But he is alleging it says something it clearly does not say.
"Further, Fox News executives and spokesmen had two weeks to provide a response to WND before the story was published. They understood in advance what would be published and repeatedly refused to make a statement on the record. Off the record, they did not deny it was possible money was paid by another party."
Farah is being disingenuous. While Klein's article doesn't explicitly state that the money allegedly received by the terrorists came from Fox News -- as we noted, a claim based on a single anonymous "senior leader of one of the groups suspected of the abductions" who refused to confirm that his group was involved -- Klein never explicitly states that the money did not come from Fox and never states where it actually did come from, despite Farah's claim that "No one in the story even suggested the money originated with Fox."
The article clearly suggests that the money did, in fact, come from Fox -- an implication Farah fails to acknowledge. This implication is further fed by Klein's statement that a Fox spokesperson "could not provide an official statement about whether Fox was aware of money paid to free its two employees" and that the spokesperson said that "it was possible money was paid."
WND is putting a lot of trust in the words of terrorists; it should hope that it won't come back to bite them. It might a good time for another solicitation for WND's legal defense fund.
NewsBusters Rags on Poll Result It Doesn't Like Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 14 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock rags on CNN's Bill Schneider for stating that the country has "no confidence" in the Bush administration based on a USA Today/Gallup poll that showed President Bush's job approval rating at 33 percent with a disapproval rating of 62 percent. Added Whitlock: "Of course, Schneider didn’t mention that the poll he was referring to sampled only "1004 national adults," as opposed to registered or likely voters. Both of which, would have resulted in more conservative findings."
But Whitlock doesn't explain why the opinions of non-voting citizens are less valid than those of "registered or likely voters," beyond apparently being more liberal. A cross-section of "national adults" does, after all, cover the entire nation -- why is that a bad thing? Nor does he explain why "only" 1,004 respondents is an insufficient or invalid sample for a poll -- in fact, the sample size of many polls is 1,000 or less.
NewsBusters frequently complains that poll results aren't conservative enough, despite the fact that pollsters are using standard sample sizes (as above) and political breakdowns that accurately reflect the American population (see Noel Sheppard).
-- The latest issue of NewsMax magazine, which touts Rudy Giuliani's possible presidential bid and suggests that it "may become the playbook for the Giuliani presidential campaign."
"Giuliani 'Unacceptable' for President, Conservatives Say"
-- A Nov. 15 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall, which features a claim by Colleen Parro, executive director of the Republican National Coalition for Life, that Giuliani is "absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances" as a presidential candidate because of his support for abortion rights and "the issues of the homosexual movement."
Fox News Channels WorldNetDaily; WND Whacks Fox News Topic: WorldNetDaily
The Huffington Post has published a copy of a Nov. 8 internal memo at Fox News in which correspondents were told: "And let's be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled Congress."
Sounds like someone may have been a bit enamored of Aaron Klein's WorldNetDaily article dubiously claiming that terrorists (well, three of 'em) endorsed a Democratic victory in the midterm elections.
That's a bit ironic, because Klein has a new WND article up claiming that Fox paid terrorists $2 million for the release of Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, Fox News employees who were abducted in Gaza last summer. Now, this is a Klein article, after all, so the claim is factually shaky -- his only source is an anonymous "senior leader of one of the groups suspected of the abductions" who won't even confirm that his group was involved. That's hardly solid-gold evidence. Further, Klein quotes the State Department as denying that Centanni and Wiig were ransomed, though a Fox News spokesperson is noncommittal.
As we've noted, Klein seems to have quite a cozy relationship with his enemies, and Klein seems to have never considered the possibility that they're playing him for a fool.
Posted by Terry K.
at 1:41 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 11:19 AM EST