ConWebBlog: The Weblog of ConWebWatch

your New Media watchdog

ConWebWatch: home | archive/search | about | primer | shop

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Mychal Massie's Word of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his Jan. 23 column, Mychal Massie blows his thesauric wad in the first paragraph, dropping the words "oleaginousness" and "viscidity."

Nothing so exotic in the rest of his column, which complains that white people who died in recent winter storms didn't get the attention that the black victims of Hurricane Katrina did. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:19 PM EST
NewsMax Ignores Mancow's History of Stunts In Promoting His Anti-Stunt Initiative
Topic: Newsmax

From a Jan. 24 NewsMax article:

Radio "shock jock" Erich "Mancow" Muller has announced that he is creating the "Foundation For Responsible Radio” in response to the water intoxication death of Jennifer Strange, whose tragic death was the result of what Mancow calls a "voyeuristic FM radio stunt.”


"Small markets feel the need to do this to get ratings and it is wrong,” said Mancow. "Voyeuristic Radio has died or gone to satellite . . . America doesn’t want this stuff.”

Nowhere is it mentioned that Mancow has his own history of voyeuristic stunts, such has shutting down traffic on the San Francisco Bay Bridge so his sidekick could get a haircut or having live cows delivered to competitors' radio shows. (Not to mention his Playboy interview, which may not be a stunt but is totally voyeuristic.)

As we've noted, NewsMax has a thing for Mancow.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:50 PM EST
Sheppard Shocked by Non-Shocking Event, Part 2
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Jan. 24 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard purports to be gobsmacked that a conservative newspaper columnist would criticize Democrats.

"Here’s something you don’t see every day: a columnist at a liberal newspaper saying bad things about Democrats," Sheppard writes. But the columnist in question, the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby, is a conservative and has been for years. He continues:

No, folks. This isn’t from the National Review, the Weekly Standard, or the Washington Times. This really is an article by Jeff Jacoby, who writes for a paper owned by The New York Times Company.

Jacoby has written for the Globe since 1994. It would be more shocking for the sun to rise in the morning. It would be even more shocking for to follow in the Globe's footsteps and hire a liberal columnist to balance its conservative roster of commentators.

Sheesh. Is this going to turn into an ongoing series?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:01 PM EST
The Screed Factor Grows
Topic: NewsBusters

More liberal-bashing masquerading as media criticism from Mark Finkelstein, in a Jan. 24 NewsBusters post:

According to his Wikipedia entry, "Obama studied for two years at Occidental College in California and then transferred to Columbia University where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations." What kind of world-view do you think was inculcated in international-relations major Obama at hyper-liberal Columbia?

I'm disappointed Robin didn't ask the obvious follow-ups: "OK, you majored in international relations. But were you a member of the chess club? Ever been to Epcot Center?"

And this is "exposing and combatting liberal bias" ... how?

UPDATE: It continues: Noel Sheppard declares Keith Olbermann to be "irrelevant" and a "gross caricature of a newsman," and expresses glee that a Fox News spokesman "deliciously disparaged" CNN's Anderson Cooper as "the Paris Hilton of television news."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:32 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 1:13 PM EST
NewsBuster vs. NewsBuster
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Jan. 23 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard railed against Keith Olbermann for taking a statement from a Democrat at face value:

Amazing. So, in Olbermann’s bizarre world, when a Democrat denies wrongdoing, he or she must be believed. However, he certainly doesn’t afford the same courtesy for Republicans.

Meanwhile, a few posts up from Sheppard, Mark Finkelstein was, uh, taking the words of a Republican -- specifically, White House press secretary Tony Snow -- at face value. Finkelstein got a chance to participate in another Snow press conference for bloggers (only conservative bloggers were invited, presumably):

I had a chance to ask a question this time around, and chose to focus on recent events in Iraq. After referring to the headlines that have been made by the recent arrest of some 600 militiamen in Iraq, I noted a lesser-publicized report that the Iraqi army had arrested a senior aide to Moktada al-Sadr, Sheikh Abdul al-Hadi Darraji. He was arrested last Friday in a raid on a Baghdad mosque near Sadr City.

I asked Snow whether those events signal that we have in some way turned the corner in obtaining the willingness of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in going after Shia militias, and if so, how have we been able to achieve this?

Tony's answer was optimistic: "The proof is in the pudding, and the arrest you just mentioned is of enormous significance. What the president has said to the prime minister is that you have to make sure that the law applies equally to everybody. If you're going to go after Sunni insurgent groups, you're going to have to do the same thing to Shia militia - and that's what's happened. And I think it's been pretty clear that the prime minister has said to the militias 'you know what? you're on your own now. You really cannot operate outside the law.'"

Finkelstein went on to list other "highlights" of the press conference, mostly boilerplate such as "Tony emphasized that there is no desire to federalize education, but hold schools accountable." Not a skeptical word to be found on Finkelstein's part, unlike his post earlier in the day in which he ascribed sordid, nefarious motives to Hillary Clinton's comments on TV, purporting to detect "insincere laughter" and "meretricious mirth."

We might take Finkelstein, Sheppard and Co. more seriously as media critics if they didn't engage in the very same behavior they claim to despise when Democrats do it.

UPDATE: Fixed link to Finkelstein item.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:16 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 5:51 PM EST
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
NewsBusters Gets Screed-Happy
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters bloggers have been on a tear of late in promoting liberal-bashing as being the same thing as "exposing and combatting liberal bias." We noted Warner Todd Huston's anti-Keith Olbermann screed yesterday; here are a few other examples from today.

-- Noel Sheppard, Jan. 23 post:

Certainly, it comes as no great surprise that this happened. However, reading it in print makes it all the more nauseating.

Former Vice President Al Gore’s schlockumentary about imminent doom to our planet if all Americans except for him and his liberal, hypocritical, millionaire friends don’t stop driving cars and flying on airplanes has been nominated for an Academy Award.


Will it be any surprise when this farcical political advertisement wins, and Al Gore is standing in front of all the fawning, cheering, hypocritical liberal elites who use likely ten times as much energy per year as the average American does?

Someone please direct me to the nearest restroom. 

-- Mark Finkelstein, Jan. 23 post:

If Hillary isn't quite getting out the long knives, let's just say she's oiling the scabbard. As we noted earlier, on this morning's "Today" Clinton drew an invidious comparison between herself and John Edwards, referring to him as "on the sidelines" while she's in "the arena."

-- Finkelstein, another Jan. 23 post:

As [ABC's Meredith] Vieira beginning ticking off the awful adjectives: "strident, cold, scripted, phony," Hillary burst into this political season's most insincere laughter.

Check out Hillary's meretricious mirth in this video clip.

Meredith took note of Clinton's feigned frivolity: "You're laughing at that. Advisors have said that they want to humanize you. Why do people seem to have that perception of you after knowing you for 15 years."

Ouch. Being told that your handlers want to "humanize" you has got to hurt. And it was hard to mistake the implication of Vieira's mention of "15 years"? Hillary, at least in your case, familiarity really does breed contempt.

Hillary began by alluding to her two successful senate campaigns in New York, where she encountered the same kinds of "attitudes and stereotypes." For the record, I think Hillary gets way too much credit for winning there. In New York, registered Dems outnumber Republicans by 2 million, and Hillary ran first against a 'C'-list opponent and then against a virtual non-entity who didn't really bother to campaign.


Hillay didn't quite make the 'L' hand sign, but the message was unmistakable: "Johnny, why don't you go back to New Orleans, pound some more nails, and leave the driving to me?"

What's the difference between this kind of Hillary- and Gore-bashing and the kind of stuff you see on zillions of conservative blogs? Not much. How is this "exposing and combatting liberal bias"? It's not. Is being a repository for such screeds what the MRC wants out of NewsBusters? (Especially considering that the MRC already has a screedmeister in Brent Bozell.)

Posted by Terry K. at 6:57 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 7:02 PM EST
CNS Labeling Bias Alert

Perhaps we spoke too soon about's stabs at balance.

A Jan. 23 CNS article by Kevin Mooney highlighted what he called the "left-wing positions" of the Union of Concerned Scientists, but he does not detail the conservative links of those attacking the UCS, which Mooney describes only as "critics." Among those groups:

Mooney also made no apparent attempt to contact any UCS official to respond to the claims made by the "critics."

Posted by Terry K. at 5:01 PM EST
Hard-Hitting Finkelstein
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Jan. 22 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein notes that he has "hit Chris Matthews hard here in recent weeks" and decides to "give him credit for flashing some real reporter's instincts in going after Hillary aide Howard Wolfson."

"Hitting him hard" is not the phrase that comes to mind when thinking of Finkelstein's treatment of Matthews; misrepresenting and distorting Matthews' words is more like it.

And it's interesting that tough questioning of a Democrat is portrayed by Finkelstein as "flashing some real reporter's instincts." We suspect that Finkelstein has never used those words to describe tough questioning of a Republican, instead dismissing it as a hostile reporter showing liberal bias.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:27 AM EST
Monday, January 22, 2007
Screed of the Day
Topic: NewsBusters

Warner Todd Huston started out his Jan. 22 NewsBusters post about a Washington Post article on the choice of Rich Little to headline the White House Correspondents Dinner, apparently to apologize for Stephen Colbert's appearance last year, with the usual conservative huffiness. "Being nice (to a Republican) simply isn't an option to the Washington Post, it appears ... Only the anti-Bush media could see a desire to be less mean spirited as something to lament," Huston sniped, adding, "Why does the comedian for this dinner have to be 'edgy' and have 'searing political humor'? Can't he just be funny?"

But when the Post mentioned conservative bete noire Keith Olbermann, Huston went apoplectic:

Obscenely, the Post quotes the unhinged sports guy, Keith Olbermann-- one of the most shrill purveyors of mean in the media today -- as saying that the press corp has gone soft on Washington over the choice of Little. It is as if Olbermann's is a noteworthy, thoughtful point in the story.

That's more or less how MSNBC host Keith Olbermann read it; he nominated the entire correspondents' association as his "Worst Person in the World" on his program last week.

Olbermann is proof that one need not be worthy of what we term "fame" today. In days gone by he would have been scorned as "infamous" and would not be celebrated as a celebrity or be awarded any measure of "fame." No one would want to be like him and no one would admit to watching him, either.

Funny, we thought Paris Hilton was "proof that one need not be worthy of what we term 'fame' today." And Huston's "scorned as 'infamous' " jab and following screed equally applies to Ann Coulter.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:27 PM EST
NewsMax Not Disclosing Morris' Anti-Hillary Activism
Topic: Newsmax

Via Media Matters, we learn from Robert Novak that Dick Morris is "asking for a contribution between $25 and $100 or more to finance a critical film documentary of Sen. Hillary Clinton," citing the Swift Boat Veterans as a precedent.

Such activism would seem to conflict with Morris' punditry and prognostication, particularly as it relates to the 2008 presidential race. Yet Morris' NewsMax columns of Jan. 20 and Jan. 21 -- in which he is critical of Clinton's campaign and talks down her chances of winning the nomination -- do not disclose Morris' anti-Hillary activism.

Shouldn't NewsMax disclose Morris' anti-Hillary stance to readers so they can judge for themselves how seriously to take his anti-Hillary comments?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:23 PM EST
Sheppard Shocked by Non-Shocking Event
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Jan. 21 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard claimed it was "shocking" that Chris Matthews referred to Hillary Clinton as "Dukakis in a dress" on "The Chris Matthews Show," thus calling her "a female incarnation of one of the biggest left-wing failures in decades."

But it's not as shocking as Sheppard professes to think: Matthews has called Clinton "Dukakis in a dress" at least four times previously. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:34 AM EST
CNS Takes a Stab at Balance

We haven't written much on's news coverage lately -- that's because CNS seems to be making a concerted effort to offer at least somewhat balanced coverage. This might have to do with the recent promotion of Patrick Goodenough, a former CNS international bureau chief, to managing editor. We don't recall the last time we singled out a Goodenough article for bias or bad reporting, which suggests that he's applying those standards across CNS.

That's not to say CNS doesn't fall back to its old ways on occasion. For instance, a Jan. 4 article by Susan Jones is essentially a Traditional Values Coalition press release that attacks a congressional proposal to add restrictions on lobbying efforts -- or, according to the TVC as reported by Jones, "an aggressive plan to 'muzzle' conservative groups through lobby reform" -- without offering any opposing view, let alone a neutral description of the legislation.

By contrast, a Jan. 16 article by Monisha Bansal on the same subject gave space to a group supporting the bill, though it presented 12 paragraphs of argument against it before getting to the proponents. It's still somewhat slanted -- what we've come to expect from the ConWeb -- but it did present both sides of the story, something that doesn't happen with Jones' press release-based grind-'em-out items.

Jones' Jan. 19 follow-up on the vote on the bill, however, goes back to old patterns by quoting only Republicans and conservative groups.

Telling the whole story, and not regurgitating press releases, is what truly serves readers, whatever their political affiliation. We hope CNS continues to improve on this front until it genuinely lives up to its mission statement to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 AM EST
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Update: WND Still Rewriting ADF Press Releases
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily never completely stopped rewriting press releases from the Alliance Defense Fund, even after we detailed WND's symbiotic relationship with the conservative legal group. But WND has upped its efforts of late to serve as ADF's public relations division.

A Jan. 20 WND article closely tracks an ADF press release on a Cleveland purportedly arrested outside an abortion clinic because "someone inside was "annoyed" with the sound of the business owner's voice," and it obtains additional quotes from an ADF attorney. No apparent effort was made to contact the other side in the case.

A Jan. 5 article by Chelsea Schilling featuring several cases the ADF is handling agaisnt school districts made featured comments by ADF officials and stuck with telling the ADF's side of the story. And Schilling even went further in one case; in reciting one press release-derived incident, she writes without citation or challenge that one student "politely" informed a school official "of their First Amendment right to peacefully express their views." Again, no apparent attempt was made to contact those school districts involved for the other side of the story.

Is rewriting press releases without bothering to obtain the other side of the story "encouraging personal virtue and good character"?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:01 PM EST
NewsBusters Spin Stark
Topic: NewsBusters

Tim Graham isn't the only NewsBusters post that can't get past George Allen's loss of his Virginia Senate seat. Its posters are now taken to spinning an incident during that campaign in order to attack an Allen critic.

Mike Stark is an activist blogger who, a few weeks before the November election, tried to confront Allen over rumors of alleged spousal abuse; in doing so, Allen staffers roughly wrestled Stark to the ground. But NewsBusters posters have taken to telling their own version of the story.

In a Jan. 15 post, Noel Sheppard described Stark as "the blogger that pushed a George Allen supporter at a campaign event in late October ... and ended up getting wrestled to the ground as a result." In support of that, Sheppard linked to a YouTube video of a series of photos purportedly showing Stark "shov[ing] an Allen supporter, then asking at one point, "Is he trying to spit?" Sheppard mentions nothing about the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Slantie winner Dan Riehl takes it even farther in a Jan. 20 post, claiming that Stark "physically assaulted a campaign worker only to ask Allen if he had 'spit on his wife,' " linking again to a series of photos purporting to show the "assault" and not noting the context in which Stark asked his question.

Neither Riehl nor Sheppard offer any evidence beyond those photos -- which prove nothing in and of themselves -- that Stark maliciously did anything physical or was trying to do anything more than get past an Allen campaign worker. Further, the newspaper that shot those photos, the Fredricksburg, Va., Free Lance-Star, reported of particlar segment of the incident that "Stark pushed toward the senator, [and Allen staffer] Dan Allen pushed back." Nobody claimed at the time that Stark "assaulted" anyone.

But then, consider the source(s) -- Riehl regularly makes false claims, and Sheppard regularly misrepresents issues (his comment came in a post spinning Melanie Morgan's extremist remarks). 


Posted by Terry K. at 11:15 AM EST
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Another Selectively Edited Finkelstein Transcript
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard apparently hasn't had that talk we recommended he have with Mark Finkelstein -- you know, about selectively editing the transcripts he posts on NewsBusters. Because Finkelstein has done it again.

In a Jan. 19 post, Finkelstein claims that the Wall Street Journal's John Fund "had something of a nuclear showdown" with MSNBC's Chris Matthews:

Said Fund, speaking of the build-up to the Iraq war: "The administration said there were weapons of mass destruction. They never claimed the United States was in imminent danger."

Matthews: "They did make the claim they [Iraq] had a nuclear weapon."

Fund: "No!! They did not claim they had a nuclear weapon! Give me the statement!

Matthews had none. The most he could muster was an Iraqi claim of a delivery system -- not of a weapon itself.

Not quite. Here's the section of "Hardball" transcript that Finkelstein condensed down to what Matthews could purportedly "muster":

MATTHEWS: They explained – the administration – that they had a delivery system, an airplane that would deliver it to North America. That was a big part of the case they made.
FUND: One, if they -- if they developed a nuclear weapon, they said they had a delivery system. They didn’t claim Iraq had a nuclear weapon.
MATTHEWS: They said don’t wait for the smoking gun because there’ll be a mushroom cloud. They used all the language of fear and imminent danger.

That was a reference to Condoleezza's Rice statement in late 2002 that "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Further (but not noted by either Matthews or Finkelstein) the Bush administration did claim that Iraq had nuclear weapons. Vice President Dick Cheney said the following a few days before the Iraq war started, on the March 16, 2003, edition of NBC's "Meet the Press":

CHENEY: We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. 

After truncating that section, Finkelstein then resumed his transcript:

Fund: "Chris, do you believe North Korea has a nuclear weapon?"

Matthews, after some serious dead air: "I don't know."

Fund: "You don't?? We know they do! They've announced it!!"

Matthews: "OK. But what's the point? What's the point here?"

Finkelstein abruptly ends his transcript there, adding "Oh, I don't know: perhaps that Chris should get his facts straight before venturing into his next facedown with John Fund!" But the exchange continued, in which Matthews explained his point:

 FUND: The point is –
MATTHEWS: OK, we’re not going to war with North Korea, I’ve noticed.
MATTHEWS: OK. Why are we going to war, even thinking about it with Iran, then?
FUND: We’re not thinking about going to war. We are trying to put --
FUND: -- diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran so they don’t even think about it.
MATTHEWS: Well, that would be good. But I’m afraid that’s a threat that if it doesn’t work, we could go to war, that’s what I’m afraid of.

So, to sum up: Matthews' question of "What's the point?" applied not to whether North Korea's nuclear weapons actually existed, as Finkelstein implied by his selective editing of the transcript, but to why we're engaging in more aggressive postures toward Iran, which to our knowledge does not have nuclear weapons, than with North Korea, which apparently does. And more selective editing obscured the fact that Matthews did offer evidence (and that other evidence exists) for his claim that the Bush administration did link nuclear weapons to Saddam's Iraq. 

Further, Finkelstein lets Fund off the hook for his claim that the Bush administration "never claimed the United States was in imminent danger." That is only true in a very narrow technical sense; in fact, President Bush did call Iraq an "urgent threat"; Vice President Dick Cheney called Iraq a "mortal threat"; and other senior White House officials assented when reporters applied the "imminent threat" characterization. 

(And as to Fund's claim that "We’re not thinking about going to war" with Iran, Jerome Corsi at WorldNetDaily begs to differ.)

Finkelstein seems to be under the impression that he is free to distort with impunity the words of people with whom he doesn't agree (as he has done on previous occasions). But he also forgets that other people watch the same shows he does and can describe in detail his distortions.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:16 AM EST

Newer | Latest | Older

Bookmark and Share

Get the WorldNetDaily Lies sticker!

Find more neat stuff at the ConWebWatch store!

Buy through this Amazon link and support ConWebWatch!

Support This Site

« January 2007 »
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31

Bloggers' Rights at EFF
Support Bloggers' Rights!

News Media Blog Network

Add to Google