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Thursday, February 15, 2007
Brennan's "Analysis" Is Faulty
Topic: Newsmax

From a Feb. 15 NewsMax "analysis" by Phil Brennan:

As a blizzard of snow and ice pummels the Northeast after trouncing the Midwest, and waves of Arctic cold fronts drop much of America below sub freezing weather, the $64,000 question is, Where is Al Gore?

Gore claims that global warming is an immediate problem facing the United States and the world, and places like New York and Chicago could feel like Caribbean haunts.

If there is any doubt that God has a sense of humor, it has to be dispelled by a headline in Wednesday's Drudge Report: "House hearing on 'warming of the planet' canceled after ice storm."

But as Media Matters pointed out, weather conditions in a given location at a given time do not prove or disprove the fact that global warming is occuring, despite what conservatives like Brennan say.

The logical extension of Brennan's argument, should he choose to follow it, is here.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:15 PM EST
WND Tells One-Sided Story on Hate Crimes Bill
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 15 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh features unsupported and unchallenged attacks against a proposed congressional "hate crimes" bill. The beginning of Unruh's article sets the tone, under the headline "Diss a 'gay'? Go to jail!":

Two Christians in Australia have been indicted for criticizing Islam, and another for criticizing Zionism. A filmmaker has been threatened with arrest for using the word "homosexual" rather than "gay." Now a German priest faces jail time for publicly criticizing abortionists, and in Holland, "fornicators" and "adulterers" are protected classes and cannot be criticized.

All courtesy of the concept of federal "hate crimes" legislation, which unless defeated soon could be mandatory in the United States, warns a rising chorus of critics.

Throughout the article, Unruh allows the bill to be characterized and disparaged by its critics. Nowhere does Unruh offer an objective description of the bill or allow its proponents to speak for it.

Unruh features as an opponent of the bill Michael Marcavage of the anti-gay group Repent America, who makes the unsupported claim that "Truth is not allowed as evidence in hate crimes trials." Unruh later notes that "some of [Repent America's] members already have served jail time simply for proclaiming the biblical message" (italics his). This is presumably a reference to the group members' arrest for disrupting a gay event in Philadelphia (charges that were later dropped), which WND turned into a cause celebre. As we've detailed, WND's reporting on the issue was slanted and failed to tell the full version of events -- that Marcavage (carrying a bullhorn) and his protesters staged their demonstration in front of a stage at the event, in the middle of a performance, and refused an order to go to an area on the edge of the event. Not exactly the simple "proclaiming the biblical message" that Unruh portrayed it.

UPDATE: Similarly, another Feb. 15 WND article claiming that "lawyers are arguing whether the words 'natural family, marriage and family values' constitute 'hate speech' " tells only the anti-gay side of the story. Further, WND does not disclose that attorney and repentant tattoo bearer Richard Ackerman, one of the attorneys for the anti-gay side, once represented WND, let alone that WND pimped Ackerman's defense against charges that he filed frivolous lawsuits against Planned Parenthood.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:53 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 15, 2007 6:38 PM EST
Weyrich Repeats False Pelosi Claims
Topic: Free Congress Foundation

A Feb. 13 column by the Free Congress Foundation's Paul Weyrich (reprinted at NewsMax) repeats the discredited claim that Nancy Pelosi asked for a large, luxurious jet to fly to California and back.

"The Washington Times broke the story that the Speaker was demanding a 747 with seating for 40, a middle compartment with a bed and a desk for, in this case, whoever is the host," Weyrich wrote. But the Times' claim has never been substantiated on the record; in fact, the House Sergeant at Arms, not Pelosi, requested a plane that would be able to fly nonstop from Washington to San Francisco.

Weyrich also wrote:

Given that Ms. Pelosi is two heartbeats from the Presidency, I felt perhaps her request was not unreasonable. That is, until I learned the following: the plane former Speaker Hastert used is capable of flying 3,700 nautical miles without refueling. That is well beyond the requirement for a San Francisco to Washington D.C flight. No, that wasn’t good enough. She wanted the larger aircraft.

In fact, the plane Hastert used can make it coast-to-coast without refueling only under optimal conditions.

Weyrich then complained: "Her people attacked the messenger for breaking the story. The Washington Times, you see, is right-wing trash." The problem here is not that the Washington Times is "right-wing trash"; it's that it's incorrect, unsubstantiated trash.

Further, nowhere does Weyrich acknowledge that the White House took Pelosi's side on this issue; press secretary Tony Snow said that she needs an Air Force plane to travel between Washington and her home district for security reasons.

UPDATE: Accuracy in Media picked up Weyrich's column.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 15, 2007 6:48 PM EST
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Quote of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

"[Rudy Giuliani] supports the continued homosexualization of America in all of its insidious forms."

-- Joseph Farah, continuing his obsession with Teh Gay in his Feb. 14 NewsMax column.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:42 PM EST
NewsBusters' Favorite Anti-Global Warming Activist
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 14 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard regurgitates an interview with Timothy Ball, whom Sheppard says "should be familiar to many conservatives as one of the leading international skeptics of man’s role in global warming." Sheppard similarly promoted more claims by Ball in a Feb. 5 post.

We've previously reported on NewsBusters' love of Ball, which excludes any reference to alleged ties to oil companies and a paucity of of published scholarly research on the subject by him.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:08 PM EST
MRC Embraces Tapper's Incomplete Quoting of Hillary
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Feb. 13 MRC CyberAlert item (and NewsBusters post), Brent Baker praises ABC's Jake Tapper for "broach[ing] a subject few, if any, mainstream journalists have dared: How Senator Hillary Clinton's current claims that her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution was not an endorsement of war do not match what she said in 2002":

In the World News version of his story, Tapper pointed out how "a month before her vote on the Iraq War, she said this:" Viewers then heard Clinton on the September 15, 2002 Meet the Press: "I can support the President. I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it's in the long-term interests of our national security." But, Tapper noted, "Now, she says this:" He ran a clip of her in Berlin, New Hampshire on Saturday: "I gave him authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth, and I said this is not a vote to authorize preemptive war."

In fact, as Media Matters points out, Clinton did specifically argue in favor of inspections during the very "Meet the Press" interview from which Tapper quoted. Further, in a Senate floor speech before the 2002 vote, Clinton stated explicitly that she expected the White House to push for "complete, unlimited inspections" and that she did not view her support for the measure as "a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption or for unilateralism."

In other words, Tapper got it wrong, and Baker applauded Tapper getting it wrong. Does the MRC have a lesser standard of accuracy for the Clintons than it does for conservatives?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 PM EST
WND Still Likening Non-Homeschool-philes to Nazis
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has latched onto a case in which a homeschooled German girl who purportedly was "suddenly was snatched from her home by a SWAT team of police officers and sent to a psychiatric ward for her 'school phobia.'" In WND style, the articles on the case by Bob Unruh offer no substantiation of the charge beyond statements by mostly anonymous members of a German homeschooling association, and no apparent attempt has been made by Unruh to contact German education officials regarding the veracity of the claims.

Part of this crusade by WND is repeatedly reminding readers that homeschooling in Germany was banned under the Nazi regime -- thus suggesting that anyone, German or non-German, who criticizes homeschooling is a Nazi, as we've previously noted. WND has kept up the smear. From a Feb. 13 article by Unruh quoting a conveninently anonymous spokesperson for the German homeschooling group:

Officials there said historically the German phobia about homeschooling began with Adolph Hitler, whose design was to control the minds of children as they grew, leaving them with only his worldview.

"The 'Jugendamt' (youth welfare office) has its origin in the German Nazi state," the German group said. "German Wikipedia writes about the Jugendamt: 'In 1939 the Jugendamt [was] adopted ... as a part of government in the NS-state control of child-education. The Jugendamt controlled and observed families and children politically from their birth."

A spokesman for the group told WND, "Today the Jugendamt … is free to take the children away from their parents when in their opinion the child's welfare is jeopardized. A false accusation of neighbors is sometimes sufficient to capture the children from their parents."

Given that Unruh has never told the other side of this story, assuming motives on the part of German officials and letting their critics speak for them is not just presumptuous, it's bad journalism. Unruh worked for the Associated Press for nearly 30 years; he knows better.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:10 AM EST
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Aaron Klein's Mighty Wurlitzer Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 12 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein features criticism of Israel prime minister Ehud Olmert by the Rabbinical Congress for Peace. But as in the past, nowhere does Klein describe the congress' conservative, anti-Olmert agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 PM EST
Coulter Behaves; NewsBusters Shocked
Topic: Newsmax

The folks at NewsBusters may be the only people on the planet who are worried that Ann Coulter isn't aggressive enough.

A Feb. 8 post by Geoffrey Dickens expressed dismay that Coulter was "surprisingly chummy" during a "Today" show face-off with Michael Eric Dyson. A Feb. 12 post by Tim Graham, similiarly concerned by the "remarkably docile debate" between Coulter and "left-wing author and academic" Dyson, did some follow-up and found something disturbing:  Coulter provided a a dust-cover blurb for Dyson's new book. That, of course, gave entree for Graham to loot the MRC archives for Dyson items, plus profess shock at "Dyson's high praise of the autobiography of the black Muslim leader Malcolm X" in a Newsweek article.

Dickens and Graham overlook the possibility that Coulter's "docile" performance could be a realization on her part that her shock-jock-conservative schtick was no longer selling. Or that she, in fact, had nothing to sell: The paperback version of "Godless" won't be out for a few more months and, thus, she had no reason to draw attention to herself. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:29 AM EST
New Article: Accuracy for Moonies?
Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media defends the Unification Church-owned website that repeated a false smear of Barack Obama, then reprints a screed by its editor. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 AM EST
Monday, February 12, 2007
WND Press-Release Journalism Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 12 WorldNetDaily article -- based on a Discovery Institute press release -- touts the addition of another 100 people with doctorates who have signed the institute's petition declaring the skepticism of the theory of evolution.

As we've noted, WND has written similar articles about the petition in the past, obscuring the fact that many of the signatories hold doctorates in fields other than biology that have little or no contact with evolutionary theory.

This time, the article does note that those eligible to sign the list include "scientists who have a Ph.D in engineering, mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry or one of the other natural sciences," but it doesn't explain what qualifies someone with a Ph.D. in non-biological fields as engineering, mathematics and computer science to offer an informed opinion about a biological process.

The WND article goes a step further than the Discovery Institute release, delcaring that the list of signatories "truly is a "Who's Who" of prominent scientists in the world today," further stating, "The list represents the most educated people in the world from all branches of science." WND offers no evidence to support these claims.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:24 PM EST
Ladies and Gentlemen, Your NewsMax Audience
Topic: Newsmax

From the Feb. 11 NewsMax "Insider Report":

The idea of it may be a non-starter to some – even Savage admits he has little chance of being elected to the nation's highest office – but many NewsMax readers believe he should make the run anyway.

A recent NewsMax online survey finds that some 94 percent of respondents said they would vote for Savage in a Republican primary.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 PM EST
NewsBuster Weirdly Obsessed with LA Times and Obama
Topic: NewsBusters

As part of his ongoing coverage of how much space the Los Angeles Times devotes to Barack Obama, Dave Pierre notes in a Feb. 11 NewsBusters post that the paper devoted "1,215 words on page A17" to Obama's announcement that he was running for president. He adds: "In truth, there was actually more than this. There was also a 16-square-inch, full-color photo of Obama prominently displayed on the front page" (boldface and italics his). 

With his typographical flourishes, Pierre makes that sound much more ominous than it actually is. Pretty much every newspaper in America runs color photos on the front page, so that's not exactly news. And a "16-square-inch" photo sounds big only if you don't know anything about newspapers. The typical broadsheet newspaper page is 12 by 21 inches, for a total of 252 square inches. Thus, the photo of Obama on the Times front page takes up well under 10 percent of the page (as the picture of the photo Pierre helpfully supplies amply illustrates).

The bigger problem from a design standpoint is that Obama is looking off the newspaper page, which is generally considered bad form in layout (though some argue otherwise).

Pierre also provides links to his previous posts on what he called "the LA Times-Obama love affair." Is someone a little too obsessed with this?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:55 PM EST
Sunday, February 11, 2007
CNS Mum on Bad Stuff in Backgrounds of Morris, Bossie

A Feb. 9 article by Fred Lucas on the upcoming Hillary Clinton-bashing documentary by Dick Morris and David Bossie includes biographical information about Morris' and Bossie's backgrounds -- but not negative information.

"Morris was a long-time political advisor to Clinton and ran the former president's successful 1996 reelection campaign but has since become a vocal critic of both Clintons," Lucas writes. But he offers no information on how Morris left his position with the Clintons -- he resigned after it was disclosed that a $200-an-hour hooker had a long-term relationship with Morris.

Lucas writes of Bossie: "Bossie is familiar with Clinton controversies. He was a chief investigator for a U.S. Senate probe into the Whitewater affair and was later an investigator for a House probe into President Clinton's 1996 campaign finances." Similarly, Lucas did not note the reason Bossie was no longer employed as a congressional investigator: He heavily edited publicly released transcripts of phone conversations by convicted Clinton official Webb Hubbell, omitting exculpatory information. As we've noted, even WorldNetDaily suggested at the time that such behavior showed that Bossie was "either extremely incompetent or was intentionally trying to sabotage" the House GOP investigation into Clinton.

Such information, had Lucas reported it, might have clued CNS readers into the reckless, vendetta-driven nature of Bossie and Morris. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:07 AM EST
Saturday, February 10, 2007
WND's Double Standard on Campus Ministries
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Remember a few months back when WorldNetDaily made a big to-do about Georgetown University kicking non-Catholic ministries off campus, even suggesting that by doing so the school was not "Christian"?

It turns out that in 2000, the Baylor University Board of Regents decided to make the Baptist Student Ministries the only chartered denominational organization on campus. And currently, Baylor is embroiled in a battle over whether to allow non-Baptist groups the same on-campus privileges as Baptist organizations. Last week, Baylor's student senate voted in favor of it.

Even though the Baylor situation is similar to that of Georgetown's, WND has never written about it, then or now. WND editor Joseph Farah did, however, lambaste Baylor in a July 2001 column for allegedly not being accomodating enough to homeschooled students.

Similarly, we have seen no evidence that the Alliance Defense Fund -- which, according to WND, wrote a letter to Georgetown officials asking the school to reconsider its decision removing non-Catholic ministries from campus -- taking any similar action against Baylor or taking a position on allowing non-Baptist groups on the Baylor campus.

Have WND and ADF simply overlooked this, or are they taking an unspoken position that evangelical Protestantism is the only true Christian religion and thus off limits for criticism? 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:36 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, February 10, 2007 12:42 AM EST

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