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Saturday, March 24, 2007
Pot, Kettle, Black
Topic: NewsBusters

A March 23 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd details less-than-respectful responses by commenters at Huffington Post to the news that White House press secretary Tony Snow will be undergoing surgery.

Given that NewsBusters posters and commenters have a history of hostility toward journalists -- even hoping they get gravely injured covering the Iraq war -- this is not a subject to which we'd think Shepherd would want to draw attention. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Friday, March 23, 2007
WND's New One-Source Wonder
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh has apparently been made the designated inheritor of Jon Dougherty's legacy of one-sided and one-source stories (as his slanted work on the Melissa Buskeros case demonstrates). A March 23 WND article by Unruh reports on a Kansas state senator's complaint against a judge with alleged "financial ties to the attorney of notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller and others while ruling in Tiller's favor in a criminal case" without making any apparent effort to contact the judge or his representatives for a response.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:00 PM EDT
Credit Where It's Due
Topic: NewsBusters

It's no surprise to see Noel Sheppard rhapsodizing in a March 23 NewsBusters post over Glenn Beck's anti-Rosie O'Donnell rant. It may, however, surprise some of his readers to learn where his source material came from.

The transcript segments look just like the ones that appeared in a Media Matters item on Beck's rant. And the audio clip of the rant being hosted on the NewsBusters website sounds suspiciously like Media Matters' audio clip.

But nowhere does Sheppard credit Media Matters. The only credit he lists is "Ian at Hot Air." But Ian's Hot Air post links to the Media Matters audio clip and properly adds, "(audio and transcript provided by Media Matters)."

Granted, we work at Media Matters, so we notice this kind of stuff. But you'd think Sheppard would want to link to Media Matters' feed instead of pilfering it to host on NewsBusters, if only to jack up Media Matters' bandwidth fees.

After all, without Media Matters, Sheppard wouldn't have a post, and he would be forced to spend more time copying and pasting press releases from James Inhofe.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:55 PM EDT
The Stretch Armstrong Award
Topic: Newsmax

We don't really have this award, but Michael Reagan certainly deserves something for the most desperate attempt we've seen to pin a scandal -- in this case, the Walter Reed scandal -- on the Democrats. From his March 16 NewsMax column:

The fact of the matter is that those veterans forced to live in substandard quarters and receiving extraordinary medical care were victims, not of the Army, but of the federal bureaucracy which operates under rules and restrictions dictated by the Congress when it was under the control of the Democrats. 

Wow. Just ... wow. Needless to say, Reagan offers no evidence to back up this claim.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EDT
Sheppard, NewsMax (and WND) Drink Inhofe's Kool-Aid
Topic: NewsBusters

Both NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard and NewsMax signed on to do the bidding of Sen. James Inhofe (and his lackey, Marc Morano) by reliably regurgitating Inhofe's press release claiming that, during his Senate testimony about global warming, Al Gore "refused" to take Inhofe's "Personal Energy Ethics Pledge," in which he demanded that Gore "consume no more energy for use in [his] residence than the average American household by March 21, 2008."

In fact, Inhofe, apparently forgetting that he was no longer a committee chairman, repeatedly interrupted Goreas he tried to answer Inhofe's demand that he take the pledge -- one Inhofe himself has demonstrated no evidence of following -- as he explained his purchase of wind energy and other green energy that does not produce carbon dioxide, his efforts to be "carbon neutral" and to install solar panels at his home, all of which meets Inhofe's requirement of "reducing ... fossil fuel-based home energy usage."

So, Noel, NewsMax ... how does that Kool-Aid taste?

UPDATE: WorldNetDaily slurps from the cup as well in a March 23 article, lavishing attention on Inhofe's statements but failing to quote Gore's testimony at all, saying only that "the record shows Gore refused." WND's idea of "the record"? Inhofe's press release.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:28 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2007 1:50 AM EDT
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Judicial Watch Misleads on Attorneys-Travel Office Comparison

A March 20 commentary by Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton does what we recommended and what nobody else associated with the Media Research Center will do -- compare the Bush administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys to the Clinton administration's firing of the the White House travel office employees. But Fitton leaves out details to make the travel office firings, and thus the Clinons, worse.

While conceding that, like the attorneys, the travel office employees "served at the pleasure of the president," Fitton asserted that they "did not deserve to be fired" because they were "long-time career employees" and office director Billy Dale "had been in his position since the Clinton administration." Fitton also claimed that "the Clinton White House manufactured bogus allegations against the employees"; in fact, even independent counsel Robert Ray noted in his final report on the travel office imbroglio that there was "evidence of financial mismanagement" at the travel office at the time of the firings.

Fitton also asserted that "Hillary was nearly indicted for lying to a grand jury about the firings." In fact, Ray ruled that "there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Clinton's statements to this Office or to Congress were knowingly false."

And of course, Fitton couldn't end things without citing the bogus eight-equals-93 comparison.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:04 PM EDT
Kessler Fluffs Bush, Wonders Why He Won't Call
Topic: Newsmax

NewsMax's Ronald Kessler continues his Bush-fluffing work with a March 21 article that dials up the old (misleading) conservative talking points on the U.S. attorney firing scandal.

Out of the box, Kessler claims that "the firings were no more improper than the Clinton administration's dismissal of 93 U.S. Attorneys in 1993." But as we've detailed, there are important differences. He then claims that "a fair reading of the emails relating to the firings makes it clear that, rightly or wrongly, the eight were singled out because of job performance." Unless you count refusal to press bogus voter fraud claims against Democrats a "job performance" issue, that's not exactly true either.

But then Kessler seems to start complaining that despite all his suck-up for the administration, Bush officials won't give him the time of day:

To be sure, the liberal media will always try to portray a Republican president in a bad light. But reporters who are fed behind-the-scenes tidbits find it harder to write one-sided stories.

One of those "reporters who are fed behind-the-scenes tidbits" Kessler is referring to is, presumably, himself.; after all, we already know of his propensity for writing "one-sided stories" for the benefit of the Bushies. He adds that "even when it has a good case to make, the White House sometimes fails to communicate it to conservative supporters." Again, that's a presumed reference to himself.

Still, getting blown off like he has won't stop Kessler from his appointed Bush-fluffing rounds; he makes sure to point out that "like Ronald Reagan, President Bush will one day be seen as one of the great presidents because he has made us safer," citing his own hugely fluff-laden, post-November election buck-up-little-Republican-campers column as evidence.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
NewsMax Takes Bait on Gore Attack
Topic: Newsmax

A March 20 NewsMax article regurgitates verbatim a press release from Sen. James Inhofe claiming that Al Gore committed a "clear violation" of Senate committee rules by not submitting copies of his committee testimony 48 hours before.

But what NewsMax and Inhofe (via Marc Morano) don't report is that the committee chairman has the discretion to waive or ignore that requirement. Further, Sen. Barbara Boxer has noted that at least four Republicans have violated that same rule without apparent protest from Inhofe.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:11 PM EDT
CNS Finally Tells Other Side of Attorney Story
Topic: finally does some substantive reporting on the Democrats' side of the fired U.S. attorneys story. Well, "reporting" may be a bit of a stretch; what a March 21 CNS article by Susan Jones mostly does is pull items out of a press release issued by Harry Reid. While Jones allows the majority of the claims to stand unchallenged, she also makes sure to inform us that she's pulling it from a "news release" and that these are Democratic "talking points" -- something we suspect Jones doesn't point out when she rewrites press releases by Republicans.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:49 PM EDT
Despite Claims, NewsMax Still Clinton-Bashing
Topic: Newsmax
More evidence contradicting Christopher Ruddy's claim that he's mellowed about the Clintons: NewsMax is promoting R. Emmett Tyrrell's new Clinton-bashing book with a rapturous review by Paul Crespo ("immensely informative and highly readable") and by giving it away with new subscriptions to its magazine.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EDT
We Get Letters
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From a reader:

I'm just commenting on this piece criticisind WND's treatment  of the Melissa Busekros case. Although I agree that Bob Unruh has, in some regards, exaggerated the situation with hyperbole (e.g. it is not definite that the State wants to take away the other Busekros children, but the fact that they want to have the parental practises assessed and the accusations made by the Jugendamt against the family indicate that this is a strong possibility in the future), some of the criticism of him here is unfair.

Let me just place myself in context. I am an atheist, home-educating mother of four children living in Germany.  Although I am not German, I am fluent in that language and am very familiar with German educational and social nuances. I am also involved in a legal dispute with our local school authorities, due to the fact that our children are home-educated.

Back to the blog article in question. Although compulsory schooling was introduced by the Weimar republic, it was possible to fulfil this requirement by attending a private school or by being tutored at home. Thus, as Unruh correctly states, public education was not mandatory before the Nazi era.

The Reischsschulgesetz (school law) introduced in 1938 eliminated both these possibilities, making the State school the only recognisable form. It also introduced Schulzwang (enforced schooling), which made it possible for the police to take children to school, something that still happens today in Germany. Although, after the Second World War, private schools were once
again legalised, the requirements for starting private schools are very restrictive.

Although I am aware that one should be careful of slinging the "Nazi" label around, it is also true that the kind of statist mindset that led to the rise of the Nazis is still very present in Germany.

Maybe I am wrong, but isn't this blog entry a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Is the author of the entry being biased him or herself? Basically, homeschoolers are "pro-homeschool ideologues" (the use of this term is what makes me question the author's own unbiasedness), it would be ridiculous for them to be anything else. Even when they are, like me, ex-schoolteachers.

I agree that journalists should be careful of becoming advocates. I would also be interested if the author of this blog entry has made anything of both sides of the story. They are freely available on the webpage of the Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit, which has documentation of court cases and statements by representatives of the state.

To respond: My problem with WND is not that its writers are homeschoolers or have a pro-homeschool bias but, rather, that they won't honestly admit that they have this bias (among others), portraying it instead as their brand of "new media." My rhetoric is no stronger than what they themselves use. If Unruh would tell the full story of the Buskeros case -- which involves talking to the other side, which, aside from copying quotes from a Spiegel article, he has yet to do -- I would have no problem. But since he chooses to gather his information almost exclusively from one side of the case and portray the other side only has described by the side he associates with, we have a problem with journalistic integrity and credibility.

While I try to tell the other side of the story of cases that I take on, it's very difficult to do in the Buskeros case because it is taking place in a non-English-speaking country and I've forgotten pretty much all of the two years of German I took in high school. Thus, it behooves those who call themselves journalists -- as Unruh does -- to make the effort to tell a full and fair version of the story. Unruh has not done so, and that's what I'm pointing out

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 1:28 AM EDT
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
MRC To Honor Limbaugh
Topic: Media Research Center

So the Media Research Center is going to give its inaugural "William F. Buckley, Jr. Award for Media Excellence" to Rush Limbaugh. A few things come to mind:

1) Are repeating misleading claims, making misogynistic and racist statements and smearing people really the MRC's idea of "media excellence"?

2) Apparently so; also appearing at the 20th Anniversary Gala at which Limbaugh will receive his award is Ann Coulter, just a few weeks after most people (but not the MRC) criticized Coulter for calling John Edwards a "faggot."

3) How does William F. Buckley -- whose demeanor is the polar opposite of Limbaugh's -- feel about someone like Limbaugh being honored in his name?

Posted by Terry K. at 7:47 PM EDT
CNS Still Not Telling Full Story on Attorney Firings
Topic: claims that it "endeavors to fairly present all legitimate sides of a story," but it has yet to do so in the story of the eight fired U.S. attorneys.

In a March 20 article on conservatives who complain that conservatives who break laws or ethical standards are treated harsher than liberals or Democrats who violate the same offenses, Fred Lucas offers balanced explanation on all cases raised, but he gives short shrift to the attorneys case. While Lucas allows the American Enterprise Institute's Norman Ornstein to rebut the discredited claim that the firing of the eight attorneys is equivalent to President Cinton's replacement of all 93 U.S. attorneys when he took office by pointing out that it's "a false analogy," he lets another claim by Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid stand unrebutted -- that it's merely a "perceived scandal" because of "the Bush administration's defensive handling of questions."

A March 20 article by Susan Jones, meanwhile, embraces the 8-equals-93 analogy:

A number of conservatives also note that while the Bush administration has been blasted for firing eight out of 93 U.S. attorneys, the Clinton administration got a free pass when it fired all 93 U.S. attorneys in 1993 -- for political reasons, conservatives insist. (Liberal websites make a distinction between Clinton firing 93 U.S. attorneys at the beginning of his administration -- normal housecleaning, they say; and Bush firing 8 in the middle of his -- political maneuvering, they insist.)

Jones doesn't note Ornstein's statement in Lucas' article that the 8-equals-93 claim is "a false analogy," which happens to debunk her claim that only "liberal websites" (gee, is she perhaps referring to us?) are making that distinction. The AEI's not exactly "liberal," after all.

UPDATE: The bogus 8-equals-93 talking point is one that the rest of the MRC seems to have abandoned. The best Scott Whitlock could do in a March 20 NewsBusters post was complain that ABC used the "visual aid" of a stack of paper to represent the 3,000 pages of emails released by administration officials. Whitlock asserted that this was part of ABC's "campaign to have Attorney General Alberto Gonzales fired."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:00 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2007 5:22 PM EDT
NewsMax Loves the Lord (Monckton)
Topic: Newsmax

A March 19 NewsMax article bites on the same press release that Noel Sheppard did about Lord Monckton's debate challenge to Al Gore. But unlike Sheppard, somebody at NewsMax made the effort to go beyond the press release. It's biased, of course, but at least the effort was made.

NewsMax repeats Monckton's claim, originally made in his London Telegraph article -- NewsMax reported on it last November, and it's where its non-press release stuff comes from -- challenging an apparent claim in a 2001 United Nations, changed from a 1996 report, that there was no "warm period" during the Middle Ages. But as George Monbiot reported in the Observer, Monckton was comparing apples and oranges: the graph in the U.N. report Monckton criticized measured global temperatures, while Monckton was citing European temperatures.

Monbiot, by the way, calls Monckton's article "a mixture of cherry-picking, downright misrepresentation and pseudo-scientific gibberish," adding, "There is scarcely a line in Lord Monckton's paper which is not wildly wrong." NewsMax didn't note that, just as Sheppard didn't.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:56 AM EDT
Monday, March 19, 2007
The Powers That Mislead
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Doug Powers signs onto to the discredited 8-equals-93 meme. From his March 19 column:

The Democrat freak-out to the eight firings was immediate, loud and annoying – I mean, worse than usual. Some Republicans are now getting on board in calling for Gonzales' firing or resignation.


What did we hear from Democrats when Bill Clinton had Janet ''Why's That Guy Going Into The Women's Restroom?'' Reno fire all U.S. attorneys – all 93 of them? We heard nothing except the sound of crickets, pierced occasionally by intern giggles and ice rattling in Ted Kennedy's Chivas tumbler.

Of course, as we've detailed, there is a difference between the replacement of attorneys at the start of a new administration, as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush also did (which Powers doesn't note), and firing attorneys the administration itself first appointed for apparently not being partisan enough.

That link in the Powers excerpt goes to a 1998 National Review article by Robert Bork, who simlarly claimed that "suddenly fired all 93 U.S. attorneys" but not that Reagan got rid of 'em too.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:55 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2007 5:05 PM EDT

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