Even More Conservative Media Blunders Topic: The ConWeb
Glenn Greenwald serves up a nice little list of dubious and outright false claims conservative bloggers have made of late. Let us bring the ConWeb into the mix and add a few more to that list:
-- Dan Riehl's false claim at NewsBusters that S.R. Sidarth made racial slurs.
-- WorldNetDaily's false claim -- taken from a April fool's post at Gawker and presented as fact -- that Michael Schiavo sold the TV movie rights to the Terri Schiavo story.
-- NewsMax's false claim that U2 was holding a fund-raiser for Rick Santorum, followed by its false denial that it never made the claim.
-- Aaron Klein's vitriolic, error-laden attack on an Islamic charity, which WorldNetDaily was forced to retract.
-- WND author Paul L. Williams' apparently false attacks on Canada's McMaaster University, which WND has only partially retracted thus far.
Greenwald writes of the bloggers: "They operate in a credibility-free zone where there are never any consequences for their mistakes because the partisans who read them will always dismiss every one of these unfair smears on the media as well-intentioned." Indeed, we've seen no evidence that anyone at NewsMax, WND or the MRC has suffered any consequences as a result of the above false claims.
Warner, Al, Bob, Greg: Just Admit It Topic: NewsBusters
Warner Todd Huston, in a Jan. 5 NewsBusters post, was eager to change the subject upon the news that Iraqi officials, after weeks of denying, now admits that Jamil Hussein -- source for several Associated Press articles -- does in fact exist. Rather than admitting that he and his fellow conservative bloggers were wrong and questioning the veracity of those officials whose word they treated as gospel, Huston insisted that "it is not yet assured that this person is, indeed, the 'capt. Jamil Hussein' the AP used as a source" and that "it's only a start toward solving the controversies surrounding this AP story." He goes on to list "central points of the story" that do not include "Why did the Iraqi Interior Ministry deny Hussein's existence for weeks, then suddenly change their minds?"
NewsBusters posters Al Brown, Bob Owens and Greg Sheffield were among the most vocal proponents of the now-discredited AP-Hussein story; none of them have posted a thing at NewsBusters on the subject since the Interior Ministry's flip-flop. Will they ever correct the record and admit that they were wrong, like they demand when "mainstream" journalists make mistakes?
Finkelstein Misleads on Matthews' 'Anger' Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 4 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein claims there was a "a very rare display of real anger" between Chris Matthews and Matt Lauer during MSNBC's coverage of the swearing-in of the new Democratic-controlled Congress. In Finkelstein's words (boldface and italics are his):
Lauer: "Well, but, you say they're going to try to finesse it. In reality, Chris, they don't have a choice. What are they going to do, suggest they cut funding while troops are still in the ground in Iraq? They can't do that."
That got Matthews's Irish up. Clearly flashing some anger, he responded: "Well, that's a political assessment by you, Matt. I think the Democrats have to decide whether they want to climb aboard this catastrophe or not."
That transcript, and the video Finkelstein supplies, conveniently cuts off at that point -- thus avoiding having to show evidence that undermines his claim about Matthews' "anger." Here's the full excerpt of what Matthews said:
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s a political assessment by you, Matt. I think the Democrats have to decide whether they wanna climb aboard this catastrophe or not. Do they want to be partners in the continued war in Iraq? That’s a tough call. I agree with you. It’s a tough call to say, “We’re gonna stand up to the president, say he cannot fight the war the way he wants to fight it.” But the other alternative is that they go along with the war, and they become partners in this war for the next two years.
That's right -- mere seconds after Matthews was purportedly "angry" with Lauer, Matthews said to him, "I agree with you." That doesn't sound very angry to us. And even the truncated video Finkelstein supplies doesn't exactly show the anger he claims is there; the boldfacing and italicizing he added to the transcript isn't reflected in what they say.
Finkelstein tries to finesse it by claiming, "Matthews later struck a more conciliatory tone with Lauer, but the initial anger was unmistakable." Well, no. If Finkelstein had supplied his readers with the full video, they would have seen that, too.
Finkelstein has been on a Matthews-bashing tear of late, insisting that Matthews is a unreformed liberal (despite ampleevidence to the contrary):
From a Jan. 3 post: " As a former aide to Tip O'Neill, Chris Matthews is accustomed to offering advice to Democratic Speakers of House.
A Jan. 5 post asks, "Has anyone checked the video to see if Chris Matthews was part of Cindy Sheehan's noisy protest that brought Rahm Emanuel's press conference to a halt the other day at the Capitol? Because Matthews has been on an absolute anti-war rampage."
Another Jan. 5 post attacks Matthews through NBC's Andrea Mitchell: "With due respect to Mitchell, whose scrappiness I admire, if someone won't admit that Chris Matthews is liberal, why should we believe her when she tells us it's raining?"
Right back atcha, Mark: If you can't admit that Matthews has also attacked liberals and praised Republicans, why should we think that you're anything more than a demagogic automaton?
UPDATE: Finkelstein's biased misinformation continues: In a Jan. 6 post, he takes a swipe at NBC for its "official line" that Iraq is in a "civil war." But he -- either here or in a Nov. 27 post by him to which he links in support -- offers no evidence to refute NBC's claim.
NewsMax Still Promotes Misleading Claim on Pelosi Topic: Newsmax
A link on today's NewsMax front page reads, "Nancy Pelosi Doesn't Want You to Read This." It goes to a promotion for the November 2005 edition of NewsMax Magazine, which featured Peter Schweizer's liberal-bashing book "Do As I Say (Not As I Do)." At the top of the claims listed from Schweizer's book is:
California Democrat Nancy Pelosi receives large-scale financial support from organized labor – while she and her husband own a vineyard and stakes in a hotel and a restaurant chain that are all non-union shops.
As we reported, that's highly misleading. Not only does Pelosi treats her workers better than unionized vineyard workers, offering them higher-than-union wages, Pelosi is prohibited by law from helping her workers unionize. Further, Schweizer hilariously claimed that he's not obligated to research the claims he makes for their accuracy, which raises questions about the other claims in his book.
We predicted that NewsMax would do nothing to correct Schweizer's claim. It's nice to be proven right.
Kinsolving Hides Source of HUD Chief's Quote Topic: The Daily Les
According to a Jan. 5 WorldNetDaily article, Les Kinsolving asked the following question at a Jan. 4 White House briefing:
There's a news report quoting the Secretary of HUD, [Alphonso] Jackson, as saying that 'Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Julian Bond have created an industry. If we don't become victims, they have no income. White folks have nothing to do with the fact that seven out of every 10 black children born in this country are born out of wedlock and we have more black males in prison than we do in college.' And my question: Does the president disagree with this statement by his Secretary of HUD?
But neither Kinsolving nor WND disclose the source of that "news report": a fluff piece by Ronald Kessler at WND's rival, NewsMax. While, unlike NewsMax, WND reported Jackson's claim that he refused to award a government contract to a winning bidder who didn't like Bush, the article dismissed it as merely one of the "blunt expressions of his opinions" rather than the admission of cronyism WND purports to be opposed to when it purports a desire to expose "wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power."
In a media release dated June 8, 2006, regarding The Dunces of Doomsday, WND Books/Cumberland House Publishing made statements, including a statement contained in The Dunces of Doomsday, referring to the theft of 180 pounds of nuclear material at McMaster University, the infiltration of McMaster University by terrorists, and consequent risk to the public.
Those statements were without basis in fact. WND Books/Cumberland House Publishing unreservedly retract the statements in the June 8, 2006 media release and apologize to McMaster University.
WND made similar claims about McMaster University (a school in Hamilton, Ontario) in a June 5 article promoting "The Dunces of Doomsday" -- claims presumably also contained in the book. But the article is still live on the WND site, and no "disclaimer" (read: retraction) has been forthcoming there. Why is only the press release retracted and not the claim in Williams' book and the WND article? After all, the information in the press release presumably came from the book and/or the WND article. Curious.
Even more curious, WND hasn't reported a thing about the controversy between Williams and McMaster University -- something apparently serious enough that Williams has set up a legal defense fund, which claims that Williams "has been sued by McMaster University for $4 million plus punitive damages" and alleges the lawsuit has been "fuelled by Islamic contributions." The site further describes Williams as "such a true man of God. He is so dedicated to educate both Christians and Jews to what he knows is about to hit American soil." It adds: "Besides the funds Paul needs all the prayer warriors praying for this situation."
The website hasn't been updated since June, however, and the "disclaimer" at the WND Books site seems to be evidence that McMaster has a solid argument, and that Williams has lost a legal action somewhere along the way. When will it be applied to the WND site proper, as well as Williams' book?
A Jan. 4 NewsMax article notes for the umpteenth time that Sen. Robert Byrd was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
In this five-paragraph article, this non-news is mentioned twice -- in the first paragraph, in which concern is faked that "an 89-year-old former Klansman third in the line of presidential succession," and in the final paragraph, which does something NewsMax usually avoids: it notes that "He has admitted that his membership in the organization was 'wrong.' "
Did the Pope Really Say That? Topic: WorldNetDaily
From a Dec. 22 Catholic News Agency article on a speech by Pope Benedict XVI:
"At this point," he added, "I cannot fail to mention my concern over 'de facto' couples. ... When new legislation is created that relativizes marriage, the rejection of the definitive bond gains, so to speak, juridical endorsement." Moreover, "relativizing the difference between the sexes ... tacitly confirms those bleak theories which seek to remove all relevance from a human being's masculinity or femininity, as if this were a purely biological matter."
The Holy Father affirmed that, "herein is a contempt for corporeality whence it follows that man, in seeking to emancipate himself from his body (from the 'biological sphere'), ends up by destroying himself."
Against those who say that "the Church should not involve herself in these matters, we can only respond: does man not concern us too?" The church and believers "must raise their voices to defend man, the creature who, in the inseparable unity of body and spirit, is the image of God."
What WorldNetDaily, in a Dec. 28 article quoting the above, said the pope said:
In his most powerful statements to date on issues involving sexual morality, Pope Benedict XVI said homosexuals end up destroying themselves so the Church has a duty to speak out on moral issues that affect the very spiritual and physical lives of man.
Not quite. The pope didn't say that "homosexuals end up destroying themselves": he said that endorsement of same-sex unions -- " 'de facto' couples" in his words -- is a sign of "contempt for corpeality" in which "man ... ends up by destroying himself." Even though what WND may not be that far from what the pope believes, WND went far beyond the pope's actual words to make a claim his words don't support.
And Michael Savage bought into WND's misinterpretation.
Micah Morrison Resurfaces Topic: Washington Examiner
We see that Micah Morrison has contributed a two-part series to the Washington Examiner on what he called an "alleged conspiracy scheme of staggering proportions" involving a prominent class-action law firm. We haven't seen or heard from Morrison in quite a while; he has apparently left the employ of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, where he contributed notable amounts of Clinton-bashing copy. Besides freelancing, he is now an adviser to the Tenet Shareholder Committee, dedicated to bringing "corporate reform and improved performance to Tenet Healthcare Co., currently the second-largest private hospital company in the country."
As far as we're concerned, Morrison will always be remembered for his hilariously parsed defense of himself against claims made about his visits to Arkansas in Joe Conason and Gene Lyons' "The Hunting of the President": "This writer never was 'swaggering' around a Hot Springs fishing camp carrying 'semiautomatic pistols' or 'making noisy public displays' of dislike toward President Clinton in 'public places' -- or anywhere else for that matter."
There's A Reason They Were 'Underreported' Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 3 WorldNetDaily article details WND's annual "Operation Spike" list of "underreported stories of the last year." As always, the stories reflect WND's conservative agenda, with a special emphasis this year on things designed to sell other WND products or are, in fact, not real stories at all.
In first place is the purported merger of the U.S., Mexico and Canada into a North American "superstate" -- which, conveniently, the new issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine just happens to be about (and over which WND's Joseph Farah and Jerome Corsi are currently engaged in a flame war with conservative radio host Michael Medved).
In second place is the "wave of murders and other crimes by illegal aliens." in which it repeated the claim that "more Americans were murdered this year by illegal aliens than the combined death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since those military campaigns began." As we reported, the statistics WND used to back that claim are dubious, if not outright wrong.
In third place: Sexpidemic! "In one of the most sensational stories of the year, WND documented dozens of cases of female teachers having sex with their underage students – both male and female." But as we pointed out, WND offered serious evidence whatsoever that these are anything more than isolated cases over a period of 15 years.
In fourth place: Aaron Klein's terrorist buddies claiming that they wanted Democrats to win the midterm elections. The article claims that "it was obvious the terrorists would prefer the Democrats,"which ignores the fact that in the 2004 presidential election, intelligence agencies have concluded that Osama bin Laden's release of a videotape before the 2004 election -- which conservatives portrayed as an endorsement of John Kerry -- was in fact designed to get President Bush re-elected. The article further asserts that "WND alone among the major media actually canvassed key terror leaders." Wrong; it only talked to three, hardly a representative sample.
It seems these stories were "spiked" for good reason: They serve only to bolster Joseph Farah's personal and political agenda (or, in the case of Sexpidemic!, certain apparent proclivities we'd rather not know about).
Another piece of ConWeb work we overlooked during the holidays: Lowell Ponte's Dec. 27 NewsMax column on Gerald Ford. It's entertainingly laden with all sorts of liberal-bashing and conspiracy-mongering, such as claiming that "Democrats had controlled the Congress by one-party rule, not unlike Mexico's authoritarian PRI, since the early 1950s."
Ponte then portrays Richard Nixon as the victim of a "relentless campaign of propaganda by smear and innuendo" by the "liberal media" as revenge for Nixon's 1972 landslide re-election victory:
For leftists who had spent decades infiltrating and taking control of America's mainstream media, this humiliation by an anti-communist president was intolerable. If Nixon and conservative Republicans could not be defeated at the ballot box, the media determined to remove him by coup d'etat.
The Watergate burglary, Ponte wrote, was "a genuine crime but the kind of lawbreaking that Democratic presidents had engaged in routinely since the reign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt." Allegations in the media, he added, were "typically trivial or mere hearsay." Yeah, 30 Nixon administration officials being convicted on Watergate-related crimes is so trivial.
From there, it's a quick hop, skip and jump to bashing Jimmy Carter: "But the disaster of the media coup against Nixon and the ascent of Carter continues to plague America today." Why? Because Carter "withdrew U.S. support from the shah of Iran"; as a result, "Carter is responsible for 9/11 and the nearly 3,000 Americans who died in the World Trade Center other terrorist attacks that day."
Ponte adds, without evidence: "Carter's record inflation stole half the life savings of every American family." He then brings his readers in for a gentle landing: "But the nightmare of Carter's presidency was replaced in 1980 by the glorious sunrise of President Ronald Reagan."
Ponte's column carries the headline "President Ford and the Media's Revisionist History," but by glossing over the numerous Watergate crimes, Ponte appears to be the one serving up the revisionist history.
UPDATE: Oh, and did we mention that Ponte called Carter an "anti-Semitic incompetent"?
While doing only light blogging during the holidays, we totally missed the ongoing saga of WorldNetDaily columnist Jim Rutz trying to prove that soy makes you gay. As promised, in his Dec. 26 column, Rutz hones in on that claim. It's pretty clear that Rutz is cherry-picking studies to focus on the most alarming claims.
It's also clear that Rutz has no respect for homosexuals. He repeatedly invokes gay stereotypes and conservative anti-gay rhetoric in his column:
"Against my better judgment, I took a national TV interview last week. They handed a bowl of soy stuff to a guy in the studio audience. After he had munched for thirty seconds, the host asked him, 'Well, you startin' to feel kinda swishy yet?' Good comedy, but highly misleading."
"No study says that soy dooms a child to homosexuality, but it's not hard to believe that at some point during pregnancy babies are hardwired for sexual preference."
"In other words, a girl-chasing, football-playing college boy won't go gay even if he becomes a vegetarian or snacks all day on soy energy bars."
"My larger concern is that the increasing number of less robust 15-year-olds who are already "struggling with their sexual identity" will be shoved over that thin line into homosexuality. No, they won’t wake up some morning with floppy wrists and a nasal lisp, but they may begin to gravitate toward social circles where they feel more comfortable — and less expected to be rowdy or brag about a string of sexual conquests. And once a teen is ensconced in a homosexual milieu, breaking free from it could mean abandoning his best friends."
So "bragging about a string of sexual conquests" is somehow preferable to homosexuality? Somehow, we suspect that Rutz's boss, family man Joseph Farah, will not find that amusing.
UPDATE: Sadly, No! and its commenters simultaneously debunk and ridicule Rutz. And Seed Magazine points out that not only is there no research to indicate that soy consumption decreases penis size or makes people gay, "[t]here is some marmoset research showing that infants fed with soy formula milk experience puberty normally and have the same penis length as their twins," as well as greater testis weight. Seed adds:"Take that, James Rutz: Soy gives you big balls."
Ronald Kessler's latest Republican fluff piece for NewsMax is a Jan. 3 profile of HUD secretary Alphonso Jackson built around his claims that "black leaders like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Julian Bond are doing a disservice to blacks by perpetuating an ideology of victimhood." (That's becoming a recurring theme for Kessler, having previously addressed it in an October interview with Juan Williams, whom he suggested was the "black Ann Coulter.") At one point, Kessler quotes the words of the secretary's father: " 'Never take anything that you didn't earn,' his father told Alphonso. 'That's close to stealing.' "
Needless to say, Kessler makes no mention of Jackson's behavior that appears to contradict his father's adage. A September 2006 inspector general's report found that Jackson urged staff members to favor friends of President Bush when awarding HUD contracts (though it found no direct proof that Jackson's staff obeyed). His chief of staff told investigators that Jackson "personally intervened with contractors whom he did not like . . . these contractors had Democratic political affiliations," according the report. Indeed, he told a gathering in Dallas in April that he didn't award one contract, even though the contractor won the bidding, because the contractor said he didn't like Bush. (Jackson later claimed he "lied.")
So Jackson is either a liar or a crony (or both). Would his father be proud of that? And shouldn't Kessler have mentioned this to his readers?
WorldNetDaily columnist Mychal Massie regularly invokes the sordid details of the personal lives of those blacks he does not like. For instance, in a Sept. 19 column, he claimed that Jesse Jackson"paraded your pregnant mistress around the White House" (not to mention claiming that Jackson serves "the 'god' of chaos, deceit, lies, whore-mongering, dysfunction, greed and resentment"). And he suggested that the victim of a hail of 50 bullets from New York policemen had it coming to him because he "at the very best, left behind children out of wedlock and a life of crime, drugs and guns. ... He had no real job and no real prospects for the future."
But in his Jan. 2 WND column, Massie eulogizes James Brown as "a man who elevated himself leagues above his humble beginnings" offering a message of "self-motivation and meritocracy" with nary a mention about Brown's troubled private life, which included arrests for drugs and domestic abuse, for which he at one point received a six-year prison sentence (serving 2 1/2 years; he was later pardoned).
If Jesse Jackson's private life is worth mentioning, why not James Brown's? Because it would mess with Massie's narrative.
NewsMax vs. WND on Gerald Ford Topic: WorldNetDaily
A special splash page on NewsMax's website stated of former President Gerald Ford, whose funeral was today: "Mr. President, thank you for healing our nation."
The folks at WorldNetDaily were not feeling nearly as generous: A Jan. 2 column by Joseph Farah asks: "Not to put too fine a point on it, but, when was Ford ever right about anything?"
This comes on top of a Dec. 29 column by Star Parker disapproving of Ford's kind of "healing" because it led to the election of Jimmy Carter:
President Ford may have been a fine gentleman who soothed the nerves of a rattled nation, but his brief presidency became a bridge to nowhere. The major problems confronting the nation were not attended to. And the door was opened to Jimmy Carter, who campaigned as an outsider and healer who would bring new integrity to Washington.
The next four nightmare years are there for all to read about.
Parker then goes on to bash Barack Obama for having those same characteristics:
What seems to carry the day for Obama is that he is perceived as a healer and soother.
He's multiethnic. He talks about the importance of bipartisanship and new political thinking.
However, as we're being healed and soothed, a real world turns about us where deeds rather than words tell us who we're really dealing with.