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Monday, April 2, 2007
NewsBusters Takes Bait, Repeats False Drudge Claim
Topic: NewsBusters

From an April 2 NewsBusters post by Mithridate Ombud:

Drudge mentions that during a live press conference in Baghdad, CNN "reporter" Michael Ware heckled John McCain. Video from the event is sure to follow. What will be interesting to see is who in the mainstream press covers it. Will it be covered on CNN? Will the press gossip blogs mention it? Or will this be swept under the rug as usual?

But oops! Drudge's post is anonymously sourced, citing only an unnamed "official." And double oops! Ware denies it. And triple oops! Footage of the press conference in question shows Ware saying nothing at all, let alone "heckling" anyone.

Yet strangely, Ombud did not update his/her post to include any of this information.

A later April 2 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan reports that Ware pointed out that he didn't even get to ask a question during the press conference. Balan noted that "Ware had criticized McCain and the congressional delegation in his report," but that's irrelevant to the issue at hand -- whether Ware "heckled" McCain at the press conference.  While Balan noted that there "was no indication of heckling or laughing of any kind" during the brief excerpt of the conference that CNN ran, he does not mention the Raw Story item with more footage of the press conference and Ware's silence. And nowhere does Balan acknowledge Ombud's earlier post repeating Drudge's false claim.

Will NewsBusters ever get around to admitting that Ombud (and Drudge) were wrong? Or, like the last time it relayed false information, will such an admission be belated and buried?  

Posted by Terry K. at 9:03 PM EDT
Graham Still Thinks 8 Equals 93
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 1 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham praises Wall Street Journal columnist Mark Lasswell for comparing the Bush administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys to the dismissal of 93 U.S. attorneys by the Clinton administration when it took office despite the fact that, as we've detailed, there is no comparison.

Graham goes on to further praise the columnist for noting that ABC's George Stepahnoploulos, while serving in the Clinton administration, opposed the hiring of one of those fired attorneys, Jay Stephens (a Republican -- a fact neither Lassell nor Graham point out, and something that would explain why Stepahnoploulos would be opposed to Stephens), to investigate the collapse of Madison Guaranty, an Arkansas savings and loan whose collapse was a component of the Whitewater scandal. Graham added: "Ironically, when the Stephens law firm later found no serious criminal offense in Whitewater, the Clintonistas began touting it everywhere -- and still do to this day."

Even more ironically, according to a search of the MRC and archives, this appears to be the very first mention of Stephens' report -- better known as the Pillsbury report -- by the Media Research Center. As summarized by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons in "The Hunting of the President":

Based on the Clintons' sworn interrogatories, interviews with forty-five other witnesses,  and some two hundred thousand documents, the report concluded  that the president and first lady had told the truth about their  Whitewater investment: The Clintons were passive investors who  were misled about the actual status of the project by Jim McDougal  almost from the start. ... The Pillsbury Report found no evidence that Whitewater's losses had been subsidized by taxpayers  in the savings and loan bailout. But even if they were, it concluded,  the Clintons were not at fault.

Instead of making demands of Stephanopoulos, perhaps Graham should explain why the MRC was so loath to tell its readers about evidence that exonerated the Clintons during Whitewater -- or anytime, really.

UPDATE: Graham informs us that the MRC has in fact previously (if briefly) mentioned the Pillsbury report, in a item in a February 1996 MediaWatch. But that item declared that it was a "public relations line" that the report cleared the Clintons, though it offers no evidence to the contrary. Our basic point -- that the MRC ignored or minimized evidence that exonerated the Clintons -- still stands.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:12 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:53 PM EDT
Klein Again Whitewashes Israeli Extremists
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 1 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein reported on claims that former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek "ratted out fellow Jews to the British occupiers of pre-State Israel, even once trying to have former prime minister Menachem Begin arrested." But Klein was vague about what was going on in pre-state Israel at the time.

Klein noted that "Kollek mostly ratted out the Irgun," a group he described only as "a paramilitary and activist group that carried out retaliatory attacks against Arab terror and was considered by some to be politically conservative," adding: "The Irgun broke away from the Haganah, another Zionist activist group, out of protest for the Haganah's socialist leanings and policy of restraint in the face of Arab attacks." Begin was head of the Irgun for several years.

What Klein doesn't note is that the Irgun was more than "a paramilitary and activist group" that was "politically conservative": it was, arguably, a terrorist group. Most notoriously, Irgun was responsible for a 1946 attack on the King David hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 people died.

We're not taking sides here, just pointing out that once again, Klein is whitewashing the record of right-wing extremists. His failure to tell the whole story of the Irgun and its violent history leaves out a key component of Kollek's possible motivation for "ratting out" the group to the British and, thus, is doing his readers a disservice. But, of course, Klein has been guilty of this same disservice all through his tenure at WND.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:37 AM EDT
Saturday, March 31, 2007
The MRC In (And Out Of) Context
Topic: Media Research Center

A March 30 NewsBusters post excerpts Rush Limbagh's speech accepting the William F. Buckley, Jr. Award for Media Excellence at the Media Research Center's 20th Anniversary Gala the night before:

Media Research Center was at the beginning, and set a standard, and had the guts to go after the left. And now, Brent and his organization are being copied. For once, it's the left that's bringing up the rear. Except they do it far differently than the way Brent's organization does. They lie. They take things out of context. And one of the problems with this is that the mainstream media, which again, I call the Drive By Media does not listen to my show, or anybody else's show.

This is presumably a potshot at Media Matters (disclosure: our employer), though he offers no evidence that Media Matters has, in fact, taken Limbaugh out of context. Judge for yourself.

Meanwhile, it's false to suggest that the MRC has never taken anyone's comments out of context:

It has taken Howell Raines out of context.

It has taken Chris Matthews out of context. 

It has taken Katie Couric out of context. 

It has taken Joe Klein out of context. 

It has taken John Chancellor out of context. 

And those are just the low-hanging fruit. There are plenty more out-of-context examples and misrepresentations to be found for anyone will to dig a little deeper.

It would seem that the "standard" the MRC has set is taking people out of context. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:10 AM EDT
Friday, March 30, 2007
CNS Follows WND's Biased Lead on Buskeros Case
Topic: has taken a stab at weighing in on the Melissa Buskeros case. But like WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh, the March 30 CNS article by Eva Cahen quotes only pro-homeschooling sources and makes no apparent effort to contact German officials for their side of the story.

So, is what German officials have to say not a "legitimate side" of this story, or what?

Posted by Terry K. at 5:45 PM EDT
NewsMax Stands By Its Favorite Crazy Person
Topic: Newsmax

A March 30 NewsMax article defended Andy Martin's evidence-free claim -- made in a March 28 NewsMax column -- that Barack Obama has "locked ... away" his white grandmother "in his racist closet", calling him "one of the most racist politicians in America today" and accusing him of trying to hide his white heritage.

Nowhere does NewsMax note Martin's history of mental illness and anti-Semitism that call into question Martin's veracity on ... well, on anything, really. Nor does NewsMax explain why it would run a column by a person with such a history.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:18 PM EDT
Klein Finally Notes Months-Old Israeli Rape Scandal
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 29 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein is not notable for its main subject matter -- allegations of resume-fudging by Israeli politician Shimon Peres. Rather. what's notable is that it's the first time Klein has mentioned (though not until the final paragraph) the months-old "rape scandal" involving Israeli president Moshe Katzav.

Why is resume-fudging more important to Klein than rape allegations against a high-ranking official, you ask? As we've noted, this is likely because Katzav belongs to the conservative Likud party, which Klein loves, while Peres is a member of the center-left Kadima party, which Klein hates.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:16 AM EDT
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The ConWeb's Favorite Crazy Person
Topic: Newsmax

First, it was Melanie Morgan co-author Catherine Moy who fell for actual mentally ill person Andy Martin's ravings about Barack Obama. Now, NewsMax has posted a March 28 column by Martin claiming that Obama has locked away his white grandmother, in "one of the cruelest and most mendacious political kidnappings this nation has ever seen," in order to downplay his whiteness. Media Matters has more.

What is it about the ConWeb and demonstrably certifiable whackjobs? Remember, NewsMax (along with the Horowitz empire) was infatuated with Melrose Larry Green, too.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:56 PM EDT
Attorney-Firing Defense of the Day: Carter Did It!
Topic: NewsBusters

A March 29 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston makes the following declaration:

Of course, we on Newsbusters know that the ginning up of this "scandal" is all smoke and mirrors meant solely as an attack on president Bush, to weaken him and to further destroy the GOPs chances in 2008.

We also all know that every president has the Constitutional right to fire any or all the U.S. Attorneys just like Clinton did.

But whether the Bush administration had the right to fire U.S. attorneys is not the issue. And Bush did not fire those eight attorneys "just like Clinton did," as we've detailed.

Then, Huston throws out a defense that may be even more lame than the Clinton-did-it defense: Carter did it!

But, it wasn't just Clinton, apparently. Even Jimmy Carter while in the White House fired an attorney that was making things too warm for one of the members of his party, making the action purely political in nature. And he lied about it to the people.

Huston's source for this claim is a March 27 Human Events article featuring the assertions of David Marston, who was removed as a U.S. attorney in Philadelphia in 1978. But a 1978 Time magazine article on the controversy reveals something that neither Human Events nor Huston noted: Marston is a Republican. Time further described Marston as "an outright political appointee who hunted headlines as vigorously as he hunted official corruption in both parties."

The article also quoted then-House Speaker Tip O'Neill calling Marston "a Republican political animal" who took office "with viciousness in his heart and for only one reason -- to get Democrats."

The Carter-did-it defense is just the latest in an ever-shifting line of Bush administration defenses proffered by NewsBusters.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:24 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2007 1:26 AM EDT
Speaking of False Facts ...
Topic: NewsBusters

A March 28 NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy repeats the latest false meme about the eight fired U.S. attorneys -- that they were dismissed for legitimate causes.

After taking Rosie O'Donnell to task for confusing judges and attorneys in her criticism of the firings, McCarthy adds: "As previously noted, there were plausible and very defensible reasons for the firings of at least three U.S. attorneys," linking back to a previous post on the subject, in which he claimed that fired U.S. attorney Carol Lam "did not aggressively prosecute illegal alien criminals," which "concerned even Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein." But as we noted then, Lam was never confronted by anyone at the Department of Justice about her alleged record on prosecuting "illegal alien criminals" before she was fired.

Perhaps that's why McCarthy tried to peddle a new sub-talking point -- that "ne reason for Carol Lam’s dismissal was her failure to prosecute gun crimes." But given that, according to the link he supplies as evidence, this claim was made by Justice officials at the same time they accused Lam of being lax on immigration, there's a pretty good chance that it's just as bogus. Indeed, as TPM Muckraker notes, when the FBI's bureau chief in San Diego was asked about the given rationales for her ouster (that she pursued corruption cases to the detriment of gun and border prosecutions), he responded, "What do you expect her to do? Let corruption exist?" (Lam prosecuted ultra-corrupt congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.)

Posted by Terry K. at 1:44 AM EDT
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy Confirmed
Topic: WorldNetDaily

As if timed to support our new article about the ConWeb using the depiction-equals-approval fallacy to declare that anyone who isn't anti-gay must be pro-gay, a March 28 WorldNetDaily commentary by Matt Barber is headlined "Pro-'gay' bullies pick up the pace. Besides trafficking in hateful rhetoric (i.e. "left-wing storm troopers") and stereotypes, Barber makes this bizarre assertion about what a "hate crimes" statute would do:

All things being equal, this means that if your 5-foot-2-inch grandmother were attacked in her home and a 6-foot-4-inch homosexual linebacker who likes to wear lipstick and high-heels were attacked by the same assailant, the "gay" linebacker would be treated as more valuable to society, and the crime would officially be considered more egregious.

A "homosexual linebacker who likes to wear lipstick and high-heels"? What the hell is Barber talking about?

Posted by Terry K. at 5:09 PM EDT
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: Newsmax

The Clinton-hate revival continues at NewsMax with a March 28 interview by Phil Brennan of. R. Emmett Tyrrell, author of "The Clinton Crack-Up." Here are some of the leading slowpitch-softball questions Brennan tossed Tyrrell's way:

-- You paint a picture of a thoroughly despicable human being in describing Bill Clinton. Reading the first two chapters makes one feel as if he were in a cesspool. How accurate a depiction is that?

-- In regard to his wife, are we going to see her ruthless, or Bruno, side or will that remain behind the scenes?

-- Most Democrat candidates today are essentially socialists, but Hillary embraces the fascist political philosophy - the mixed state pioneered by Benito Mussolini, doesn't she?

-- Given the Clinton modus operandi, do you expect that Hillary's people will go to work on Obama behind the scenes and he'll never know where it's coming from?

(That last question ignores evidence that the opposite may be true -- that right-wing operatives are smearing Obama and pinning the blame on Hillary.)

For his part, Tyrrell responds by claiming Bill Clinton is "on a par with Anna Nicole Smith" for being a celebrity "because of his wrongdoing" and adding, "I did compare [Hillary] to Mussolini in the book. At least she has nicer hair."

This is part of NewsMax's promotion of Tyrrell's book, which seems to contradict NewsMax publisher Christopher Ruddy's assertions that he's not as anti-Clinton as he used to be.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:58 PM EDT
New Article: The Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy
Topic: The ConWeb

Does mere description of something -- like, say, homosexuality -- without condemning it constitute endorsement of it? The ConWeb seems to think so. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:28 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 9:29 AM EDT
WND Columnist Trusts Mendacious Convicted Killers
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily columnist Janet Folger, in a March 27 column, thinks that we should take the word of convicted killers. Arguing against hate-crime laws, she claimed that Matthew Shepard wasn't killed because he was gay:

And guess what? Both killers have now confessed that their motive in attacking Shepard wasn't any animosity for his sexual behavior, they killed him for…money for drugs. What do you know? The poster child for "hate crimes" wasn't even the victim of one. Funny how that never came up in the 13,500 "Mathew Shepard" news stories, massive TV coverage, two major Hollywood specials, three TV movies, and a play.

In fact, as we've detailed, it takes not only a hefty chunk of conservative revisionism that fits a template conservatives eagerly want to believe, but a certain willful ignorance of the court record, to believe that Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson killed Shepard over "money for drugs":

  • McKinney and Henderson have a long record of lying.
  • The hate-crime aspect was corroborated at trial.
  • McKinney attempted a "gay panic" defense during his trial.

Then again, the folks at WND have a bad habit of placing their trust in convicted felons.

Folger is founder and president of the anti-gay, anti-abortion group Faith2Action, so she clearly has an interest in keeping this particular meme alive; after all, it helps in dehumanizing process to smear Shepard as a druggie. But is it really worth her placing trust in unreliable convicted killers to do so? 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:03 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 2:00 PM EDT
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
WND Mum on Op-Ed Writer's Place on WND Board
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 27 WorldNetDaily column by Richard Botkin ends with no blurb whatsover describing who he is. So, who is this mysterious man? He's a member of the WND board of directors.

Botkin's most recent WND op-ed prior to this, in November 2005, includes a bio stating that Botkin "leads a small group of dentists and physicians to Cambodia each November for a two-week mission" but not his position on the WND board. Other previous Botkin op-eds do mention his WND board membership.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:22 PM EDT

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