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Monday, November 27, 2006
This Is A Depiction Of A Martyr?
Topic: NewsBusters

A Nov. 27 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston claimed that an Associated Press article on Malachi Ritscher -- who doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire as an apparent protest of the Iraq war -- was "sympathetic" to Ritscher, 'lioniz[es]" him and "tries its darndest to turn this man into an anti-war hero," claiming it is "filled with quotes from his admiring friends and laments about his 'cause.' " Huston writes that "The AP also goes to pains to make readers believe that 'Malachi' Ritscher might not have been mentally disturbed in an obvious attempt to legitimize his final action," then goes on to wax indignant about Ritscher's "rather unbalanced mental state," not to mention his "utter lack of knowledge about the political system our Founding Fathers created."

But nowhere does Huston actually quote from the AP article. That may be because the article, in fact, does not "lionize" Ritscher. It points out the circumstances surrounding his death:

It took five days for the Cook County medical examiner to identify the charred-beyond-recognition corpse. Meanwhile, Ritscher's suicide went largely unnoticed. It wasn't until a reporter for an alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader, pieced the facts together that word began to spread.

The article also quotes the man as calling Ritscher "a very lonely and tragic man," and notes that "Mental health experts say virtually no suicides occur without some kind of a diagnosable mental illness."

Perhaps what irks Huston so about this article is that it didn't didn't come to the conclusion he wanted it to -- that Ritscher is a loon whose death was meaningless and, therefore, must be ignored. In fact, the article reaches no conclusion; it raises the martyr angle but provides enough details of his mental history to let readers reach their own conclusions.

Perhaps the idea that someone -- especially a news service like AP -- won't follow his conservative beliefs and dismiss other beliefs out of hand and will come to their own conclusions is what irks Huston the most. Not exactly the stuff of quality media criticism.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:49 PM EST
Updated: Monday, November 27, 2006 9:23 PM EST
Civil War in Iraq? Finkelstein Doesn't Say Why It's Not
Topic: NewsBusters

A Nov. 27 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein chastises NBC for calling the sectarian violence in Iraq a "civil war":

The MSM has experienced embarrassing episodes of premature declaration before, notably in Florida 2000. Is the case stronger here? Is this quibbling over terminology, or is there something larger at stake?

Note also [Matt] Lauer's statement that NBC News consulted with "a lot of people," and that McCaffrey chose to "weigh in on the side of calling this a civil war." That seems to suggest that there was another "side" among people NBC consulted who took the opposing view. But Today never told us who they were or what they had to say.

Finkelstein certainly seems to disapprove of NBC using the "civil war" terminology, as his flip reference to the 2000 election indicates. But he fails to offer any argument for why it shouldn't be used. If one is going to attack the logic of others -- and, specifically, attack them for not substantiating their claim -- shouldn't one offer a logical, substantiated claim in response?

A tag at the end of the item notes that "Finkelstein recently returned from Iraq." But the articles he wrote for about his trip were puff pieces mostly concerned with attacking the idea of immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq -- something no major U.S. politican has pushed. He did, however, quote Iraqi deputy prime minister Barham Salih as saying that "extremist forces were trying to push Iraq into all-out civil war, and he predicted that in the next few weeks, the Iraqi government would have to make some very serious choices."

So Finkelstein appears to know that using "civil war" to describe the situation in Iraq is not an outlandish assertion, since he used it himself. So why not defend his argument instead of resorting to flip claims about "premature declaration"?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:33 AM EST
Is Clinton-Bashing Making A Comeback?
Topic: NewsBusters

With Republicans at least partially out of power, conservatives seem to be returning to that old standby, mindless Clinton-bashing. A Nov. 26 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein shows the thinking on this subject that we can look forward to. After a Des Moines Register reporter showed some "delightful Midwestern understatement" by noting that Hillary Clinton "is believed to be weighing a campaign for the Democratic nomination," Finkelstein added: "Indeed. And in tonight's Nature documentary, a ravenous crocodile was believed to be weighing a run at the wildebeest crossing the river."

Comparing Hillary to a crocodile: Charming, Mark.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:08 AM EST
Sunday, November 26, 2006
WND Still Suddenly In Love With CREW
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Remember when WorldNetDaily dismissed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as tainted by funding from George Soros when CREW publicized allegations of inappropriate email conversations between Republican Rep. Mark Foley and congressional pages -- only to conveniently forget the Soros connection when CREW when after Democratic Rep. John Murtha? WND did it again.

A Nov. 25 article notes that CREW "is trying to make sure Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings does not rise to the chairmanship of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence without the public knowing the full record surrounding his 1989 impeachment as a federal judge." As with its previous Nov. 13 article on Murtha, nowhere does WND mention that CREW has received money from Soros. 

But the next time CREW goes after a Republican, look for WND's selective memory to kick in again. 

Posted by Terry K. at 2:02 AM EST
Saturday, November 25, 2006
MRC's Double Standard on Shady Pasts
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Nov. 21 column attacking the media's treatment of Rep. John Murtha, "someone thoroughly tainted with that odor of corruption," Brent Bozell writes:

In January, the Cybercast News Service reported a story that made Murtha’s ethical problems clear. In a 1980 video of the FBI’s Abscam sting investigation, Murtha told the FBI agents posing as Arabs that he wouldn’t take money up front, but might “change his mind” later “after we’ve done some business.” In the end, he was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator. He wasn’t convicted of a crime, or even charged, but the tape makes clear that Murtha was amenable to making corrupt deals if the right circumstances emerged.

So what did the media do? They largely ignored these charges as they touted Murtha’s plausibility as a voice against the war. On the networks, Murtha was interviewed as a great sage, and Abscam went unmentioned.

First, Bozell fails to disclose that CNS is a division of his Media Research Center. Second, as we've detailed, the CNS article was a partisan attack designed to undercut his credibility as a critic of the Iraq war; CNS editor David Thibault essentially admitted as such. And third, Bozell and the MRC takes a much different attitude when the less-than-stellar pasts of conservatives are discussed.

In a Nov. 15 MRC CyberAlert, Brent Baker recounted how in 1994, NBC's Tom Brokaw "hammered Gingrich in a snide and negative ten-minute Dateline NBC hit piece":

Brokaw pushed every negative button. Gingrich had a "long streak" of "casually reckless" remarks. He admitted "he smoked pot" and "got a marriage deferment" to avoid service in Vietnam. He went to first wife Jackie's hospital room "the day after her cancer surgery" to discuss divorce terms. He made a "very ominous" charge that FDA chief David Kessler threatened to ruin businesses. And his "well-heeled admirers," called "Newt Incorporated," showed he was already ethically compromised, since voters would think donors "were trying to buy his heart if not his vote, at the least."

Bozell and his employees clearly don't like it when the shady pasts of their ideological soulmates are detailed. What gives them the right to demand that their ideological enemies be treated the same way?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 PM EST
Friday, November 24, 2006
NewsMax Columnist Plays on Emotions to Oppose Minimum Wage Hike
Topic: Newsmax

A Nov. 21 NewsMax column by Robert J. Cihak -- one of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons-linked "Medicine Men" with Michael Arnold Glueck -- embarks on a novel attack on a raise in the minimum wage: It keeps his developmentally disabled daughter from getting a job. However, Cihak offers no actual evidence of this.

While Cihak does cite Thomas Sowell in support of his claim, he is more prone to making baseless assertions such as, " Yes, minimum wage laws do protect — they protect people such as my daughter from working — and they protect unions and other workers from competition by the lesser skilled." In fact, studies have shown that previous minimum wage increases have not resulted in any significant loss of jobs.

Cihak concludes:

All Ruth [Cihak's daughter] can give me is her trust and love. What more can I ask of her?

But of you, dear reader, I ask you to remember the harm done her and others by minimum wage laws.

We thought conservatives weren't supposed to appeal to emotions the way they regularly accuse Democrats of doing.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:11 PM EST
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
New Article: Implications Have Consequences
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein implies that Fox News paid a $2 million ransom for two kidnapped journalists -- then denies that he implied it. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:29 AM EST
Tim Graham's Macaca Moment -- Er, Month
Topic: NewsBusters

Every time someone brings up George Allen and the "macaca" thing, the MRC's Tim Graham can reliably be counted upon to drop a NewsBusters post complaining about it. Well, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson mentioned "macaca" in a column today discussing Michael Richards' racist rant, and like clockwork, Graham weighs in with a Nov. 22 NewsBusters post rushing once more to Allen's defense:

It doesn't matter how many black friends George Allen has, how many black people endorsed him for re-election, how many blacks have denied they ever saw a racist bone in George Allen's body. There is, in the minds of The Washington Post crowd, a seething "Segregation Forever" George Wallace in there inside his head, and it doesn't matter if there's evidence to the contrary. They're going to just keep fiendishly pushing the "Macaca" button as if it proves Allen is forever tainted with a scarlet "R" for racist.

But Graham misses the point -- that the same could probably have been said of Richards before his rant was captured on video. Graham also ignores that there is, in fact, a racist connotation to the word "macaca," and that Allen does have a weird fascination with all things Confederate (despite having been raised in southern California), which is associated with racism and slavery.

Finally, in full pot-kettle-black mode, Graham then states that "the most ridiculous liberal Post columnist today is actually Ruth Marcus -- another former Post reporter -- who composed an entire hypersensitive column excoriating President Bush for removing the '-ic' from 'Democratic' Party on the campaign trail."

No more ridiculous than pretending that Allen's "macaca" remark was totally innocent, and not only because Graham's fellow NewsBusters posters regularly use the term "Democrat Party," as Noel Sheppard did two days ago. And no more hypersensitive than, say, the blog banning a commenter for using the word "theocracy" to describe the aim of some conservative Repubicans.

And certainly no more ridiculous or hypersensitive than indignantly complaining every time someone mentions "macaca." 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:16 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 10:46 AM EST
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Mychal Massie's Word of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Last time we checked in with Mychal Massie, he introduced us to the (nonexistent) word "Erebusic." In his Nov. 21 WorldNetDaily column, he throws a couple more 50-cent words at us:

sanious marplots


Seeing what springs from Massie's thesaurus-rummaging is much more interesting than his columns themselves. 

Posted by Terry K. at 6:32 PM EST
Riehl Ranting
Topic: NewsBusters

Notoriously inaccurate blogger Dan Riehl -- last seen here falsely smearing George Allen "macaca" target S.R. Sidarth -- turns in his first NewsBusters post in a month, a complaint that the New York Times failed to note that a group of day laborers who had filed a lawsuit against a Long Island town accusing town officials of harrassing them filed as "John Does" out of fear of retaliation by law enforcement or immigration authorities. First, Riehl serves up his usual ranting:

Isn't that an unusual, if not telling aspect of the story? You don't even have to identify yourself to get justice in America today? Because you might not be a citizen? I suppose anyone in the world can walk into an American court and allege discrimination, maybe al Qaeda will be next.

Then, he adds a little Clinton fear-mongering on the side:

As an aside, with Bush on board with the open borders crowd, it could easily lead to animosity toward the GO [sic] in 08, or even a third party candidate for President in 08, splitting the vote on the Right and welcoming Hillary into the White House. Arguably, it was Perot who may have helped elect a Clinton the first time around.

We'd complain about NewsBusters deigning to publish such a ill-informed screedmeister like Riehl, but he serves a much higher purpose of an example of the kind of people the MRC believes are qualified to speak for it. And besides, Riehl's general idiocy makes NewsBusters that much entertaining to read.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:16 PM EST
Anti-Gay Tirade of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Nov. 21 WorldNetDaily column by Gary DeMar likens homosexuality to rape and a dog returning to its own vomit. The ostensible trigger for this tirade was a "children's book about two male penguins that raise a baby penguin" that he says is "being pushed as a homosexual primer to soften up young minds for the more scholarly propaganda." DeMar chooses to extrapolate an argument that some animal species engage in homosexual behavior to all animal behavior, saying that if we accept some as "natural," we must accept all:

If we should follow the animal world regarding homosexual penguins and thereby regard human homosexual behavior as normal, then we must be consistent and follow the animal world regarding rape, eating our young and eating our neighbors – and decriminalize these behaviors as well.

DeMar heads a group called American Vision, whose mission is "Equipping and Empowering Christians to Restore America’s Biblical Foundation." You'll find the usual anti-gay stuff there, such as a call to boycott Wal-Mart because it donated to a "homosexual organization promoting same-sex marriage in the workplace."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:34 AM EST
Monday, November 20, 2006
Heartwarming Kessler Sycophancy
Topic: Newsmax

A Nov. 20 NewsMax article by Ronald Kessler breaks away from his typical Bush sycophancy to tell the heartwarming tale of the nearly $1 million Lynne Cheney has made for charity by writing children's books. But it wouldn't be Kessler without a little sucking up to Bush:

As noted in my book "Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady," Laura's favorite course at Southern Methodist University was a one-semester review of children's literature taught by Dr. Harryette Ehrhardt.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:02 PM EST
Klein Dissembles About His Fox News-Hostage Ransom Article
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a Nov. 20 WorldNetDaily column, Aaron Klein is "horrified" that his Nov. 14 article on a $2 million ransom allegedly paid for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped in Gaza last summer, was widely interpreted to mean that Fox News itself paid the ransom.

"My report made very clear the sources did not know where the money originated. No source stated or implied the money came from Fox News," Klein wrote, adding:

Unfortunately, many used my article to claim Fox News paid the ransom – a contention I never made or implied. As the researcher of this piece, I can state categorically I don't believe Fox News paid any money or knew any money was paid. As outlined in my article, the indications are the exchange was brokered by a government or political party since certain quid pro quos were reportedly made, such as assurances against further kidnappings of Americans.

The problem is that, his purported caveats notwithstanding, Klein did not "make it clear"; nowhere in his original article did he explicitly state that Fox News was not the source of the alleged ransom. Even though Klein insists that "[n]o source stated or implied the money came from Fox News," his article is indeed murkily written enough to imply exactly that (as we previously noted).

Klein also states that "Off the record, Fox News sources admitted it was possible the terror gangs were paid off by an entity involved in the negotiations and that the news channel did not know about it." But Klein never told his readers that "the news channel did not know about" the ransom. From the article:

A spokeswoman for Fox News Channel told WND she could not provide an official statement about whether Fox was aware of money paid to free its two employees.

A source at Fox told WND many parties were involved with the freedom of Centanni and Wiig, including the U.S. government, and that it was possible money was paid.

And while Klein repeatedly claims in his column that the source of the ransom money was "unknown," the word "unknown" does not appear in his original article. In fact, he writes that one terrorist official "said he 'knows' the money came from the U.S. as part of a deal to free Centanni and Wiig but could not identify exactly which organization or government entity transferred the cash" -- which can certainly be interpreted as an implication of Fox News.

Klein then switches to suck-up mode, claiming, "I am horrified people have falsified and misrepresented my article to attack Fox News," and adding that "I have enormous respect for [Fox News chief Roger] Ailes." He laments that
"Unfortunately, many used my article to claim Fox News paid the ransom – a contention I never made or implied." (Again, he did imply it.) Klein concluded:

I was not asked by WND nor Fox News Channel to print this clarification. In fact, both news organizations seem to have largely moved on. But as a reporter, I cannot stand idly by while others misrepresent and falsify my words to wrongly smear America's best cable news network.

Is Klein looking to get a job with Fox News someday? He might have a better chance if he would just stop being so defensive and admit that his article suggested that Fox News paid the ransom, even if he didn't actually say that Fox did. He can then devote even more of his attention to smearing Ehud Olmert.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:34 AM EST
Updated: Monday, November 20, 2006 1:17 PM EST
Farah Finally Notices Politically Motivated Bush IRS Audits
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his Nov. 18 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah expresses his displeasure that the IRS is conducting an audit of a church for its criticism of the Iraq war and other Bush administration policies. Reminding us that "I was a victim of just this kind of official harassment at the hands of the IRS during the Clinton administration," Farah concluded, "It is no more justifiable for a Republican administration to use the IRS as a political attack dog than it is for a Democratic White House. It is no more constitutional. It is no more moral. It is no more American when perpetrated by President Bush's administration."

What took him so long to figure this out?

A year and a half ago, we noted that the Bush IRS was accused of conducting politically motivated audits of groups, such as the NAACP, that had been critical of the Bush administration; a month ago, we noted other groups being targeted. But Farah has not recognized that controversy. It's only when a church was involved -- albeit a church whose pastor, Farah writes, "sounds like a polar opposite of me in many ways" -- that he suddenly is concerned about it.

It's not that hard to scoop WND, but given that it considers itself "a watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power," we'll take pride in a year-and-a-half-long jump start.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:17 AM EST
Anti-Gay WND Writer Misleads on S. Africa HIV
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Nov. 16 WorldNetDaily article by Mary Jo Anderson on a vote to legalize same-sex marriage in South Africa almost exclusively features criticism of the decision -- not surprising giving the author's anti-gay bias; she wrote a anti-gay marriage book (sold by WND, of course) called "Male and Female He Made Them" -- but she also includes some misleading, incomplete information.

Anderson wrote:

Medical workers also questioned the new law.

South Africa has over five million HIV-positive citizens, including infants born with the virus. Criticism swirls around the government's failure to treat sufficient numbers of HIV patients with appropriate drugs.

"They keep on moving the goalposts over the number of people receiving anti-retroviral drugs," noted Diane Kohler Barnard, the health spokeswoman for the Democratic Alliance, an opposition party to the ruling African National Congress.

A couple of problems: The "medical worker" Anderson quotes is not questioning the same-sex marriage law; she's questioning the availability of AIDS-fighting drugs, which Anderson doesn't indicate has anything to do with the new law.

Further, Anderson's attempt to bring up HIV seems a very clumsy to work in the filthy-gay angle without discussing the facts involving the demographics of HIV victims in Africa -- which indicate an epidemic among heterosexuals. Her noting of "infants born with the virus" belies that clumsiness; in fact, according to the international charity AVERT, the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women was 30.2 percent -- a clear indicator that HIV in South Africa is not limited to the homosexual community. Further:

  • One research study states that "[t]he pattern of HIV transmission in our region has changed from homosexual to heterosexual."
  • A 2002 article in the International Journal of Epidemiology states: "Since establishing a foothold in South Africa, the heterosexual HIV epidemic has had a distinctive character—‘explosive' spread with no sign of a ‘saturation' plateau and predominance in women at younger age." 

Since heterosexuals in South Africa are apparently much more at risk for HIV than gays, there was no reason for Anderson to bring it up in a story about gay marriage, other than to take a gratuitous, inaccurate guilt-by-association swipe at gays.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 AM EST

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