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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
MRC's Double Standard on Gotcha Questions
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Dec. 12 NewsBusters post, Scott Whitlock baselessly speculated that CNN's Bob Franken "seemed downright embarrassed to be reporting the fact that Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes incorrectly responded to a correspondent’s question of who, Shiite or Sunni, primarily comprise al-Qaeda." Whitlock also suggested that CNN was wrong to note "examples of Republicans flubbing such quizzes." But in 1999, when then-candidate for president George W. Bush, in Franken's words, "flubbed a similar impromptu quiz about world leaders," the MRC was eager to deflect attention from it by noting examples of Democrats doing the same thing.

In a Nov. 9, 1999, CyberAlert, Brent Baker noted that "ABC's World News Tonight jumped on how George W. Bush could not identify some obscure world leaders" (those of Chechnya, India or Pakistan, which given subsequent events are not exactly "obscure"), then claimed that the show had not noted an incident in which "Gore could not answer some farm questions posed by Diane Sawyer on 20/20."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:39 AM EST
Pot, Kettle, Black
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec. 12 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein attacks Media Matters blogger Eric Alterman (disclosure: I work for Media Matters) for being "one angry guy" who "vents his bile" and whose "anger burns so brightly that it blots out his substance." As evidence, Finkelstein cites an Alterman column in which he calls David Horowitz "crazy," the Wall Street Journal editorial page "a sorry joke," and a column "so bad it could have been written by Charles Krauthammer."

This complaint, it should be noted, comes from someone who is on record likening Hillary Clinton to Kim Jong Il and a crocodile, not to mention calling Rep. John Murtha a megalomaniac.

Sounds like someone has his own issues with "anger" and "bile" that he might want to deal with before making accusations about others.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:56 AM EST
New Article: Curt Weldon's Mouthpieces
Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax's Kenneth Timmerman is the latest to allow the defeated Republican congressman to spin his conspiracy theories unchallenged and un-fact-checked -- a bad thing, because Weldon's hanging out with people the CIA considers liars. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:56 AM EST
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Quote of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.

-- Jim Rutz, Dec. 12 WorldNetDaily column

We're with Wonkette: To mock it is futile.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:38 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 3:48 PM EST
CNS Continues PR Work for Inhofe

Is becoming the PR division of Rep. James Inhofe's office?

Last week, we noted that CNS devoted an article exclusively to Inhofe's views on the Iraq Study Group report. Now, a Dec. 12 CNS article by Randy Hall touted Inhofe's praise of a United Nations report that he says pours "cold water" on "global warming alarmism." Inhofe is the only person Hall contacted for reaction to the U.N. report.

Why all the attention given to this particular congressman? Perhaps because former CNS reporter Marc Morano is now a member of Inhofe's communications staff. Morano and Hall, by the way, teamed up earlier this year on a smear job on Rep. John Murtha.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:25 PM EST
CNS Notes DeLay Left Congress, Doesn't Say Why

A Dec. 11 article by Susan Jones on former Rep. Tom DeLay's new blog referenced DeLay's "farewell address to Congress on June 8." But Jones failed to explain why DeLay left Congress. That, of course, would be because DeLay was indicted on charges related to laundering illegal campaign contributions.

Jones also failed to update the article to reflect developments on DeLay's blog -- namely that comments were suspended after, in the words of TPM Muckraker, "his invitation in his inaugural post to 'speak truth to power' was taken too literally by visitors." 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:10 AM EST
Monday, December 11, 2006
Suddenly, CNS Loves CREW

In an Oct. 6 article by Nathan Burchfiel on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's efforts to get the Secret Service to release its records of prominent conservative Christian leaders' visits to the White House, among the featured quotes was from Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition:

Lafferty added that CREW is a "front group" funded in part by billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros.

"Obviously, everyone on the list is considered a threat," she said. "Anyone who is a threat, Soros and his people go after.

"Soros is a very wealthy, manipulative, evil person who is trying to direct the outcome of this election, and he is going after Christians," Lafferty said.

But a Dec. 11 CNS article by Susan Jones featuring quotes by CREW executive director Melanie Sloan criticizing the re-election of Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, despite the fact that he's under federal investigation for bribery, fails to mention Soros, though Jones does call CREW "a liberal-leaning government watchdog group."

We've previously noted that NewsMax and WorldNetDaily suffered from similar amnesia about links between CREW to Soros -- noting it when CREW criticizes Republicans and ignoring it when CREW criticizes Democrats.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:36 AM EST
No Compassionate Conservatives Allowed at NewsBusters
Topic: NewsBusters

Is the idea of "compassionate conservatism" being kicked to death in the parking lot? First, WorldNetDaily scowled at a TV station that sought help for illegal immigrants who were burned out of their home; now NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein seems to be declaring that real conservatives aren't compassionate.

In a Dec. 10 post, Finkelstein declared: "Those looking for a true conservative to enter the Republican presidential field might be feeling a bit perplexed in the wake of Sam Brownback's performance on this morning's Fox News Sunday." One of Brownback's offenses, according to Finkelstein: he "[s]eemingly described himself as a 'compassionate conservative.'" Finnkelstein added:

Brownback went on to describe himself as "conservative on economic and fiscal and moral and social and compassionate conservative issues." Conservative on compassionate conservative issues? An enigmatic statement that some might interpret as meaning he is opposed to big-government compassionate conservatism as practiced by Pres. Bush. But, in its context, I read it as saying he identifies as a compassionate conservative, which might come as troubling news to more traditional conservatives.

It's "troubling" for a conservative to show compassion? That seems to be a repudiation of George W. Bush's presidency, to which he was elected proclaiming himself as a "compassionate conservative." Or is "compassion" permissible only when government money is not involved? Does this mean that conservatives of Finkelstein's ilk are searching for the 2008 candidate who shows the least amount of compassion for his fellow man?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:12 AM EST
WND Still Schizophrenic About Libel Lawsuit
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily is still schizophrenic about the libel lawsuit filed against it by Tennessee businessman Clark Jones.

A Dec. 8 article by Bob Unruh details its main claim that WND should not be held liable for the articles:

That appellate order then was followed by the appellate court statement that the reporters "were freelance reporters engaged by the Defendant, Inc. [WND] to write a series of articles about the Plaintiff's alleged activities which were published, with extensive notoriety, by WND, and were prima facie defamatory."

But there has been no trial, no jury, and no conclusions that the reporters actually had been "engaged," that the stories were "published," "with extensive notoriety" and were "prima facie defamatory." The appellate court opinion simply stated those disputed issues as fact, the court filing said.


"In spite of the statement of the court of appeals … the record on appeal presents evidence all of which is of one accord and indisputable in establishing that WND did not 'engage' appellants to write the articles that are the subject of the instant case. Instead, appellants did the investigation and wrote the articles, without WND even having knowledge that the articles were being written or the investigation being done, and, after the articles were finished, the appellants contacted WND and asked WND to post the articles on WND's website for dissemination," the statement said.

So WND is still claiming that it's innocent because it didn't commission the articles but merely reprinted them.

But then, Unruh writes:

WND's rights would be similar, "if not exactly the same," as a news publisher, it said.

"Literally, myriad cases could be cited from this Court, from courts of other states and from the federal forum, including the United States Supreme Court, to establish how very fundamental and very vital, to our existence as a Nation, extraordinary protection of the First Amendment rights of the press is," the filing said.

So, which is it? Is WND standing by the articles, or is it trying to disassociate itself from them? Logic would seem to dictate that it can't do both.

Unruh also adds:

WND argued that if the only news that is reportable is from an identified source, the First Amendment rights of every U.S. citizen will be damaged.

"The inability to claim that the information from the source whose identity remains confidential is truth, … dictates that the reporter and/or the third-party website provider must defend the defamation claims in the face of an irrefutable presumption that the reported and/or website-posted information is false," WND said.

If the court orders controlling in the WND case now had been in place during Watergate, not even the Washington Post could have assumed the risk of publishing anything from Deep Throat, the petition said.

Quick, somebody alert Robin Boyd

(UPDATE: We forgot to note that this contradicts Farah's previous view of anonymous sources: "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better.") 

But back to schizophrenia: A Dec. 9 article by Unruh notes that "alarmingly, the number of Internet-based journalists in prison for their work has doubled in just three years." Unruh then goes on to quote Joseph Farah:

"It's not WorldNetDaily on trial in Tennessee, it's the First Amendment," said Farah. "Where in heaven's name have the American Civil Liberties Union and the big media been for the last six years as our little company carries the full load of responsibility for defending something as basic to our country's founding principles as freedom of the press?"

Farah continued: "Not only is this a huge defamation case in terms of possible judgments, it is also huge because it involves critical reporting about the 2000 presidential election. Politically protected speech and reporting doesn't get much more basic than that."

Wait -- we thought WND was insisting that it was responsible for the content of those articles. We're confused. Pick one of the other, guys.

A side note: Both articles appeal for donations to WND's legal defense fund, claiming, "WorldNetDaily’s only recourse in this lawsuit is to fight every step of the way in its pursuit of truth." But Unruh lets a little truth slip through in the Dec. 8 article, explaining a bit why after so many years, WND is suddenly obsessed by it:

The order at issue concluded that an appeal by [reporters Tony] Hays and [Charles C.] Thompson should be dismissed, "together with the appeals of WND and (defendant Rebecca) Hagelin" [then WND's communications director] with costs assessed to those parties.

The problem there is that WND and Hagelin didn't file an appeal, the new court filing said.

Oops! Unruh offers no explanation as to why no appeal was filed or if one should have been, which seems to belie its claim to "fight every step of the way." As we've noted, WND went 3 1/2 years -- from December 2002 to July 2006 -- without publishing a news article about it. Could that lack of response to the lawsuit be the reason that WND has ignored our challenge to publish all legal documents from it on the Web?

And, by the way, despite the loving detail Unruh gives WND's side of the story, in neither of these articles does he talk to Jones or his representatives to give them a fair representation; his description of the other side is limited to quotes from the lawsuit and rulings.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:19 AM EST
Updated: Monday, December 11, 2006 9:09 AM EST
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Shocker: AP Uses 'Unauthorized' Sources
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Dec. 10 NewsBusters post, Robin Boyd attacks the Associated Press for -- hold on to your beverages -- using "unauthorized" sources in stories about Iraq, citing as evidence a story in which a source spoke "on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media." Royd adds: "The use of 'anonymous' sources is nothing more than a journalistic ploy to prevent others from verifying the information presented."

Um, so what? "Unauthorized" people talking to the media? Horrors! Is Boyd willing to hold all media to that standard? Because we can think of one reporter whose use of anonymous sources -- who certainly can't be "authorized" in the way Boyd means it -- leaves the AP in the dust. And, as we've noted, it's not as if the "authorized" sources in Iraq have any more credibility. But they are "authorized," and that apparently trumps the truth for Boyd.

Mind you, Boyd is a person who called the Iraq Study Group report "crap," so she's hardly the voice of reason on such things. When she demands that WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein name all of his sources, then we'll think about taking her seriously.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:48 PM EST
Malzberg Resurrects Discredited Comparison
Topic: Newsmax

In a Dec. 7 NewsMax column attacking Jesse Jackson and other critics of Michael Richards' N-word tirade, who he portrayed as "living in Bizarro World," Steve Malzberg wrote:

But Jackson has gone beyond Richards racist comments and has used incident to blast the republican's for re-electing Sen. Trent Lott to a leadership position. Jackson has once again raised objection to Lott's remarks made at a birthday party for Sen. Strom Thurmond which were racially divisive, forcing Lott to resign as incoming Senate majority leader back in 2002.

Lott apologized back then, but let us assume apologies are not sufficient for Jackson, unless he's making them.

It's curious that Jackson would chose to reignite the Lott story. After all, I fail to recall Jackson's outrage when in in 1993, at a birthday party for former Sen. William Fulbright, President Clinton gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the segregationist.

Fulbright was against the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, against the Voting Rights Act and against the Civil Rights Act.

Ah yes . . . Bizarro World at its best.

But the comparison of Lott and Clinton is misleading and irrelevant. As we've repeatedly noted, unlike Lott's statement that if Thurmond had won his segregationist Dixiecrat presidential run in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over these years" -- which Malzberg strangely doesn't detail -- Clinton never implied support for Fulbright's former segregationist views.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:56 PM EST
Saturday, December 9, 2006
WND Revives Clinton Smear, Clinton Smearer
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 8 WorldNetDaily article not only revives an unsubstantiated bit of Clinton-bashing, it revives one of the loonier of the old Clinton-bashers.

The article claims that the novelty store chain Spencer Gifts has removed from its retail website "[p]ornographic ornaments, reportedly similar to those used in the Clinton White House." The source for this claim is Florida lawyer Jack Thompson, who claimed that the "ornaments are similar ... to the ones former FBI Agent Gary Aldrich described in his book, 'Unlimited Access.'"

To our knowledge, Aldrich has never substantiated this claim (beyond a purported photo on one ornament in a later edition of the book). Further, as Margaret Carlson wrote in a July 15, 1996, column:

This is ludicrous. First, the entire press corps sees the tree and would notice three hens fornicating. Second, all the decorations sent in from artists are screened for appropriateness (two were tossed), logged in and photographed in October. Pornographic paraphernalia in the Blue Room has the ring of one of those preschooler fantasies elicited by overeager therapists in the McMartin child-sex-abuse case.

Further, consider the record of the person making this claim. As we've detailed, Jack Thompson is the kind of rabid Clinton-hater that he would buy into Aldrich's claims without question. As we've detailed, Thompson was even more obsessive about Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno, having lost an election to her in 1988; during that election, he claimed that Reno was unfit for the job because, as a closeted lesbian with a drinking problem, she was great candidate for blackmail by the criminal element. Lately, he's been crusading against video games he has deemed too violent, including America's Army, which is given away free by the federal government as a military recruiting tool.

So we have a fringe fanatic making a fringe claim. And WND treats this as legitimate news. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:40 AM EST
Friday, December 8, 2006
Dueling NewsMax Columnists
Topic: Newsmax

The President's father, when he broke down on Monday at a ceremony for his son, Jeb, the outgoing governor of Florida, was actually releasing years of pent-up emotion about his oldest son's massive failure in Iraq.

Bush 41 is no fool. He knows that his obstinate son has severely damaged America and American interests worldwide for years to come. (Not to mention the Bush brand is greatly devalued, too.)

All this emotion came tumbling out. Yes, he loves his son, but he also knows what an embarrassment W has become. It repeats a life-long pattern: Given everything by Mom and Dad, the oldest son repeatedly screws up, but never pays a price for these mistakes. He fails up the ladder, all the way to the Oval Office.

-- John LeBoutillier, NewsMax, Dec. 6

Does everybody on the planet spend time kicking the president of the United States? I ask this because it seems that we are in the midst of an open season on George W. Bush.

I've never seen a presidency where everybody shoots at the president and nobody defends him, except his wife and Tony Snow. People who oppose "waterboarding" the enemy would be happy to see George Bush undergo the ordeal.


What you see in all of this is that there is a complete lack of support and respect for this president, even from the people he has around him. For Gates to come out and say what he did in the confirmation hearings for the job George Bush has given him, is nothing less than sheer ingratitude – if not open contempt for his benefactor.

And he not only takes issue with the president who has appointed him, but does so with impunity. It doesn't matter to him that he gave aid and comfort to the enemy. It doesn't matter to him that it demoralizes the troops in harm's way in Iraq. It's all about him saying what will help him be confirmed as the secretary of defense.

-- Michael Reagan, NewsMax, Dec. 8

Posted by Terry K. at 5:11 PM EST
It's ISG-Bashing Day At WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's commentary page today includes a whopping seven columns attacking the Iraq Study Group report and its authors.

Joseph Farah leads the way with a broadside against ISG co-chairman James Baker, calling him "a legal pimp for Saudi Arabia" and a "Council on Foreign Relations hack." The report itself is called "lying, deceiving" and "evil."

Richard Booker ("a Christian minister and the founder and president of Sounds of the Trumpet Inc. and the Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies located in Houston, Texas") joins Farah in the Baker-bashing, claiming that Baker "identifies" with "an anti-Semitic British official" based on a senior thesis Baker wrote as a Princeton undergraduate.

Melanie Morgan branded the report "a complete failure" and the work of "milquetoast do-gooders and has-been Washington insiders."

WND's "letter of the week" comes from Tim Hirota, who wrote, "it would seem that the methodology of the 'Study Group' consisted of James Baker and Lee Hamilton sitting in front of the TV watching CNN 24/7. The Report reads more like a declaration and terms of surrender." He goes on to called Baker and Hamilton "simple-minded" and insist that "An honest look at the war on terror, viewed both by current standards as well as history," shows that "opinion is nearly unanimous: We are winning in a big way."

Ilana Mercer is slightly more constructive, attacking the report's suggestion that Israel cede control of the Golan Heights.

Two of WND's syndicated columnists -- David Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan -- also joined in the ISG beatdown.

UPDATE: It's worth noting that when these folks bashing the ISG, they're also bashing commisison member Ed Meese, long a conservative hero.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:17 PM EST
Updated: Friday, December 8, 2006 4:09 PM EST
Aaron Klein's Terrorist Buddies Weigh In on ISG
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein reprises his old partisan trick of interviewing alleged "senior terrorist leaders" who support Democratic views or oppose Republican ones. This time, the subject is the Iraq Study Group report. Klein's conclusion: The ISG's "recommendations for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq and for dialogue with Iran and Syria proves 'Islamic resistance' works and America will ultimately be defeated."

This time around, the designated terrorists are Islamic Jihad's Abu Ayman and Abu Abdullah of Hamas -- who both appeared in Klein's last effort, in which they endorsed a Democratic victory in the midterm elections -- along with a new player, Abu Nasser of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Actually, Nasser has appeared in numerous Klein articles issuing reliably inflammatory statements:

  • A July 20 article quoted him as having "hinted" that his group "obtained anti-aircraft missiles, which the group could use to target Tel Aviv International Airport."
  • In a May 15 article, Klein quoted Nasser as saying that the death of a Florida teenager in a suicide bombing at an Israeli restaurant was a "gift from Allah" and revenge against American Jewish support for Israel.
  • A Feb. 21 article featured Nasser as claiming his group would not respect any cease-fire with Israel agreed to by Hamas.

We've previously speculated on the extent to which Klein and the terrorists are collaborating, and whether Klein is merely a dupe or, in fact, a knowing tool of the terrorists. Still, we have to wonder: Given the fact that Klein is a conservative Jew with sympathies toward extreme Israeli right-wingers who oppose Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, and his interview subjects have the stated goal of destroying the country where he lives, why doesn't Klein alert Israeli authorities to these terrorists' whereabouts -- since he obviously knows where to find them -- so the military can be sent in to deal with them?

Perhaps Klein is too cozy and too enamored with the propaganda value (not to mention the value to his journalism career) of his terrorist pals. Klein's gravy train, it seems, is more important than his country's security.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:43 AM EST

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