In an April 6 NewsBusters post suggesting that Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria violated federal law, Noel Sheppard asks:
Imagine if you will that in September 1996, just days after America launched a missile strike on Baghdad to expand the “no fly zone,” Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich met with Saddam Hussein to discuss foreign policy matters without the permission of President Clinton.
Would the media have vociferously discussed the possibility that Gingrich had violated federal law in doing so?
Do you think the media would have been as forgiving of Speaker Gingrich if he had so behaved when Clinton was president?
Fortunately, neither we nor Sheppard have to imagine such a scenario. In March 1997, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich went to China without the authorization of the Clinton administration, where he warned China's top leaders that the United States would intervene militarily if Taiwan was attacked -- a position presumably not authorized by Clinton. As Glenn Greenwald notes, the media didn't get particularly worked up about that.
Further, as Greg Sargent points out, conservatives such as Pat Buchanan and John Boehner who have criticized Pelosi's visit endorsed Gingrich's trip to China.
So, Noel, there you go. Not that we expect you to update your post or do anything to acknoweldge it.
UPDATE: Sargent adds that Gingrich went to Israel in 1998 and made statements that directly contradicted Clinton administration policy -- yet is criticizing Pelosi, who in fact has not significantly diverged from Bush administration policy on Syria.
NewsBusters Logic Topic: NewsBusters
In an April 6 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard tells us that it's "disgraceful" and "hostile" for Air America's "Young Turks" to question Jackie Mason about his views on global warming and the Middle East, yet it's apparent not "hostile" for Mason to write a book calling anyone who doesn't agree with him (i.e., liberals) "schmucks."
We Get (And Reply To) Letters Topic: WorldNetDaily
Obama, Iraq & Failing Anti-War Effort!
Those of you in the anti-war movement have helped the pro-troop organization Move America Forward to go up on the television airwaves today with a new ad that takes on those who are undermining our heroic troops and their missions.
At YouTube the patriotic Move America Forward television ad that takes the anti-war crowd (including Cindy Sheehan and Martin Sheen) to task has become a hit - earning a 4.5 star rating out of 5 stars.
You've become so despicable in your actions that America is now turning against you. You are failing.
You promised 100,000 marchers for the "March on the Pentagon" but your march was a total bust with only a few thousand protestors turning out to show solidarity with the terrorists, and speaking out against the fight for freedom.
Leading anti-war senator, Barack Obama, announced this weekend that Congress will not insist on a timetable for withdrawal and surrender in Iraq after all. You've even turned off the more moderate members of your community who have helped me to be able to get this message sent out to you.
We will no longer tolerate the anti-war crowd subjecting America to more terrorist attacks as a result of the defeat-retreat-surrender policies you advocate.
You already have blood on your hands for emboldening the terrorists to kill our troops, we won't let you endanger innocent American citizens here at home.
When you burn American soldiers in effigy you show us which side in the war on terror you stand on, and it's obviously not with America and our military men and women.
We won't back down as you try to appease the forces of Islamic terrorism. We won't allow you to dishonor our troops as you try to reignite a Vietnamized-culture in America.
Melanie Morgan Chairman, Move America Forward www.MoveAmericaForward.org
* * *
Dear Ms. Morgan:
I am in receipt of your letter calling me a member of "the anti-war movement" who advocates a "defeat-retreat-surrender" policy, "appease[s] the forces of Islamic terrorism," "burn[s] American soldiers in effigy" and has "blood on [my] hands for emboldening the terrorists to kill our troops."
But ConWebWatch is not a political advocacy website; it is a media criticism website. I have never publicly advocated an "anti-war" position -- or any other position on the war.
In fact, all I have done nothing to warrant receiving such a letter from you -- except point out examples of your bias, dishonesty and misleadingclaims. In none of these reports, however, have I criticized your position on the Iraq war.
I do not understand the nature of your hostility toward me. Are you really suggesting that any criticism of you is criticism of the Iraq war? If so, isn't that a bit narcissistic of you? And even if I wasn't a specific target of your letter, is taunting and smearing your ideological opposites really a mature way to advance the national debate about the war and its consequences?
All I care about is truth in journalism. It appears, sadly, that all you care about is lashing out at anyone who dares to point out your biased and error-ridden claims.
In an April 5 NewsBusters post, Justin McCarthy misportrays the comments of CBS correspondent Allen Pizzey as criticizing "John McCain’s optimistic statements on Iraqi progress." In fact, it's clear from the interview segment that McCarthy added to his post -- but doesn't otherwise acknowledge -- Pizzey was pointing out that during McCain's recent visit to Iraq while making such statements, he was part of "a large convoy of heavily armed vehicles." Pizzey added:
The last one had a sign on it saying "Keep back 100 yards. Deadly force authorized." Every single car that they approached or passed pulled over and stopped, because that's the way it is. When one of those security details goes by, every ordinary person gets the hell out of the way, in case they get shot. If he did walk around that market, and I didn't see him do it, and he didn't announce he was going to do it, you can bet your life there were an awful lot of soldiers deployed to make sure that nobody came near that place. He's talking rubbish. And he should not get away with it.
In further claiming that Pizzey "completely ignored some positive signs in Iraq in his grim report last month," McCarthy linked to a March 19 post noting a report by Pizzey in which, McCarthy asserted, "Pizzey did not bother to mention reports that insurgent attacks dropped 80 percent since President Bush announced the surge." McCarthy's source for this claim: Anonymous sources at WorldTribune.com, a website that's a side project of Washington Times official Robert Morton. (As Morton's bio reads: "He also organized the re-launch of Insight on the News in November 2005." And we know a credible source of reporting Insight is.) In fact, according to a March 13 UPI article:
The Pentagon said sectarian violence between Baghdad's Sunnis and Shiites has decreased in recent weeks but bombings and other attacks carried out by Sunni insurgents have not slowed.
Yes, UPI is also part of the Washington Times empire, so its reporting is a bit suspect. But a March 30 Pentagon briefing notes that while sectarian violence has decreased -- albeit not by 80 percent, the claim that McCarthy clings to -- "attack levels against coalition forces have remained constant." So it appears that the evidence is lacking to fully support the claim that McCarthy made.
In an April 3 NewsMax interview with Tom DeLay, Paul Crespo failed to challenge DeLay's claim that "Every charge that has been brought against me has been dismissed as frivolous." In fact, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct did, in fact, admonish DeLay regarding incidents of a golf fundraiser that "created an appearance that donors were being provided special access to you regarding the then-pending energy legislation," as well as "intervention in a partisan conflict in the Texas House of Representatives using the resources of a Federal agency" that raised "serious concerns under House standards of conduct that preclude use of governmental resources for a political undertaking."
Crespo did eventually note that "DeLay was indicted in 2005 on charges of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws" and that they are still pending -- but didn't point out that this also contradicts DeLay's claim that "every charge" against him has been "dismissed as frivolous."
Crespo also let DeLay spin about the origin of his nickname, "the Hammer":
It was the Washington Post that gave me the nickname "The Hammer." They couldn't believe that we were so effective without breaking member's legs and arms to make things happen because that's the way [the Democrats] operated. That is the way that they acted when they were in the majority… The nickname "Hammer" doesn't fit the way that I ran the whip operation nor my leadership office. They just don't get it.
In fact, DeLay has celebrated the nickname. The New York Times reported that a $2,000-a-table tribute dinner held by DeLay supporters in Washington, D.C., in May 2005 included numerous references to DeLay's nickname: "Mr. DeLay was served a red-white-and-blue cake festooned with sparklers and plastic hammers -- a reference to his nickname, the Hammer -- while the band played 'If I Had a Hammer.' " And contradicting DeLay's claim that "The nickname 'Hammer' doesn't fit the way that I ran the whip operation nor my leadership office," Congressional Quarterly has reported that that if Republican House members defied DeLay's leadership, "punishment" or "threats" would follow, or committee memberships could be put in jeopardy.
An April 5 CNSNews.com article by Nathan Burchfiel joins NewsBusters and NewsMax in repeating global warming denier Lord Monckton's request for a debate with Al Gore. Like NewsBusters and NewsMax, CNS makes no attempt to balance or counter any of the claims Lord Monckton has made.
While Burchfiel writes that "the two have squared off before in a series of articles published in London's Sunday Telegraph in November 2006," he fails to point out that, in fact, Gore was debunking claims Monckton made in his Telegraph piece. From Gore's op-ed:
First, Monckton claims that Dr James Hansen of Nasa said that the temperature would rise by 0.3C and that the sea level would rise by several feet. But Hansen did not say that at all, and the claim that he did is extremely misleading. In fact, Dr Hansen presented three scenarios to the US Senate (high, medium, and low). He explained that the middle scenario was "most plausible" and, as it turned out, the middle scenario was almost exactly right.
Further, as we've noted (but the CNS, NewsMax and NewsBusters haven't), Monckton's claims have also been debunked by British Guardian columnist George Monbiot, calling his claims "a mixture of cherry-picking, downright misrepresentation and pseudo-scientific gibberish."
New Article: The Bogus Defense of the Day Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters tries out new excuses for the Bush administration's firing of U.S. attorneys that are just as dubious as the 8-equals-93 defense. Read more.
NewsMax Bashes Pelosi, But Not Republicans Doing Same Thing Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax is joining the rest of the ConWeb in bashing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for visiting Syria while giving Republicans a free pass.
An April 4 NewsMax article did note that "Republican Sen. Arlen Specter" was among those congressmen who have visited Syria, the headline still read,"Nancy Pelosi Embraces Terror State."
An April 4 column by Phil Brennan, meanwhile, smears Pelosi by suggesting she is "comfortable in the company of butchers — she's long been an ardent supporter of those members of the abortion industry who have killed 40 million unborn babies without a murmur of protest from the present speaker of the House" and concludes: " Come home Nancy, and leave the business of wartime diplomacy to the adults." Nowhere does Brennan mention that Repubican congressmen have similarly visited Syria.
Klein's Terrorist Buddies Weigh In on Pelosi Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein's mighty Wurlitzer creaks to life and -- voila! -- he finds that "members of terror organizations" (well, two of them, anyway) approve of Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria, or so he claims in an April 4 WorldNetDaily article. While Klein notes that "a congressional delegation including three Republicans traveled to Damascus," he apparently did not ask his terrorist buddies what they thought about GOP visits to Syria -- or did and failed to pass on their responses in favor of smearing Pelosi.
If you'll remember, Klein pulled the same stunt before the November 2006 election, claiming that terrorists endorsed the election of Democrats. And like before, there's no explanation of why we should trust the words of terrorists as Klein does -- after all, while Klein wrote in 2004 that Yasser Arafat "is hoping John Kerry wins the presidential election in November" and conservatives asserted that an Osama bin Laden video released before the 2004 presidential election was spun by conservatives as an endorsement of Kerry, it was later revealed that bin Laden's message was designed to assist the President's reelection.
The headline on this article hilariously calls Klein's reporting a "shocker!" Why? Isn't this the kind of story Klein always grinds out? It's not shocking at all.
CNS Singles Out Pelosi for Criticism of Syria Visit, Downplays GOP Visit Topic: CNSNews.com
An April 4 CNSNews.com article by Julie Stahl features criticism of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for visiting Syria to meet with officials there. While Stahl notes that "three Republican congressmen" have also visited Syria, she does not name those congressmen nor note any criticism specifically directed toward those Republicans beyond lumping them in with Bush's criticism of Pelosi.
Stahl quoted "Arab affairs expert" Mordechai Kedar of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies "near Tel Aviv" as saying that Pelosi "understands nothing in the Middle East" and that her visit is "a hammer to hit President Bush," but she exhibits no evidence that she asked Kedar if the visits by the "three Republican congressmen" were similarly "a hammer to hit President Bush."
In addition to downplaying visits by Republicans, Stahl also fails to note that at least one Republican congressman's visit to Syria was apparently done "in cooperation with the [Bush] administration," which would seem to undercut any criticism of Pelosi's visit.
WND Still Navel-Gazing About Website Blocking Topic: WorldNetDaily
An April 3 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh reports that the Navy is no longer blocking access to WND on military servers. But as he has in his previous reporting on the issue, Unruh onceagain fails to note the fact that the military blocks access to numerous websites other than WND.
You'd think that would be a relevant fact to someone who worked for the Associated Press for 30 years. Or that the issue would make WND want to crusade for free military access to all websites. But you'd be wrong.
An April 3 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham not only takes the Washington Post to task for writing something nice about "long-time avant-garde hippie" Yoko Ono (what, he couldn't work "dirty" in there somewhere?), Graham also snickers at Ono's art. Noting that Ono, who was in Washington for the cherry blossom festival, encouraged "public participation in art by having people write their wishes on a piece of paper and tie it to one of her peace trees," Graham added: "How scribbling a wish on paper is 'art' is anyone's guess. Is it art if you bring your calligraphy pen?"
As the Post article noted, the project is "part of the artist's long-standing efforts to encourage public participation in artmaking." Why is that a bad thing -- or bad art?
Graham goes on to note that one of Ono's "peace trees" is on the grounds of the "federally funded Hirshhorn Museum," meaning that "once again, the conservative taxpayer is offering their involuntary support for fuzzy-headed liberal art projects in the nation's capital." Are conservatives like Graham really that threatened by a tree? And really, it's no less "involuntary support" than, say, renaming an airport after Ronald Reagan. See, Tim, it works both ways.
WorldNetDaily has been touting the work of some dubious "experts" of late.
The new issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine -- dedicated to scaremongering over vaccines -- includes the following article:
"Doctors' group opposes all vaccine mandates." The 4,000-member Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, established in 1943, has called for a moratorium on the government forcing any vaccines on the American people, warning, "Our children face the possibility of death or serious long-term adverse effects"
As we've detailed, the AAPS is little more than a conservative advocacy group whose views WND has touted in the past. Think about it: Does it really make logical medical sense to never vaccinate anyone?
In an April 2 column bashing Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani for being too nice to gay people, Janet Folger cites Jeffrey Satinover in support of her claim that "homosexual sex is three times more dangerous than smoking." (Italics hers.) but as we've noted when another WND columnist cited him, Satinover is an anti-gay psychiatrist who calls homosexuality "psychologically unhealthy," "an inferior way of life,"and a "sociopathy" akin to "grow[ing] up in a Cosa Nostra family," adding that "homosexuality--like narcissism--is best viewed as a spiritual and moral illness."
Neither Satinover nor the AAPS are exacly reliables source of objective research. Yet WND and its columnists want you to believe otherwise.
NewsMax has printed another Barack Obama-bashing column by "Internet journalist, broadcaster, and critic" (not to mention crazy person) Andy Martin, this time suggesting that Obama supports the idea of slavery reparations because he has endorsed a candidate for Chicago alderman who supports reparations. Martin also calls Obama's supporters "ignorant suckers."
Of course, an a person's endorsement of a candidate does not necessarily constitute endorsement of all views held by that candidate. After all, just because NewsMax runs Martin's columns doesn't mean that NewsMax endorses, say, Martin's anti-Semitic views or his offer to buy the Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune and other papers and TV stations (no mention of where the money would come from to pay the $35 a share he's offering).
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?