An April 9 NewsMax column by Ronald Kessler defends the government's terrorist no-fly watch program from critics who say that, at 400,000 names, the list is needlessly large and contains too many innocent people. Kessler claimed that "Americans are included only if they have been convicted of terrorist activities or are under investigation by the FBI," asserted without evidence that "There is a direct correlation between possible terrorists who are denied entry to the U.S. and the fact that we have not been attacked in over five years," and brushed off concerns over the list being too large:
What the ACLU forgets is that people from other countries do not have a right to enter the U.S. Inevitably, some will be listed in error. But the alternative is to limit the list so much that terrorists can enter the country and pull off another 9/11 attack.
Coincidentially, Kessler's article appears at the same time a case has come to light contradicting it. Walter F. Murphy -- a retired Marine and Princeton law professor emeritus who has criticized Roe v. Wade and supported the appointment of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court -- says he found himself on the terrorist watch list for no other apparent reason than publicly criticizing President Bush.
Don't look for Kessler to address this case anytime soon, unless he can find a way to debunk it.
Sacramento Union Tells a Whopper Topic: WorldNetDaily
We like to check in every once in a while with Joseph Farah's former employer (which he helped run into the ground the first time), the Sacramento Union, to see how the latest attempt at revival is going. (This time around, it's a weekly freebie tabloid.) This revival contains a column called "The Bee Hive," designed to attack the city's daily paper, the Sacramento Bee. The April 6 "Bee Hive" makes the following claim:
The Bee ran a front-page article Mar. 20 by James Rosen of the McClatchy Bureau with the alarmist title, “Military Hits Spending High.” This editorial disguised as news alleged that spending for the War in Iraq is the highest in history, even higher than the costs of U.S. participation in World War II.
This was followed by, in large type, "Too bad the claim is pure fiction." That's because Rosen never made that claim. Here's what Rosen actually wrote (emphasis ours):
As the Iraq war enters a fifth year, the conflict that President Bush's aides once said would all but pay for itself with oil revenues is fueling the highest level of defense spending since World War II.
Even with past spending adjusted for inflation, the $630 billion provided for the military this year exceeds the highest annual amounts during the Reagan-era defense buildup, the Vietnam War and the Korean War.
In other words, Rosen did not include World War II in his calculation.
Rather than making any attempt to disprove Rosen's calculations, the "Bee Hive" article tried to divert attention from it by claiming:
Had Rosen pursued this story without a political agenda and sought a real comparison of U.S. war spending now compared to World War II, he would have examined the relative percentages of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) devoted to each campaign. Rosen did not do this because such a comparison would have contradicted his bias. His numbers are off – and not just by a little bit.
In fact, Rosen did give space to a conservative making the GDP comparison:
James Carafano, a defense analyst at the Heritage Institute in Washington, said military spending isn't nearly as high when compared to the overall size of the U.S. economy.
Current defense appropriations equal about 4 percent of the gross domestic product, Carafano said.
That figure is up from the 3 percent level under Clinton, he added, but still a good bit lower than the 7 1/2 percent share during the Cold War.
"When you have a bigger house, you buy more insurance," Carafano said. "When the nation is worth a lot more, we have to spend more to protect it."
If such wildly partisan, factually deficient reporting is indicative of all Union stories, it may be doomed to extinction yet again.
An April 6 WorldNetDaily article regurgitates a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Robert Turner claiming that Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria may have violated a federal law called the Logan Act that prohibits Americans "without authority of the United States," to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any "disputes or controversies with the United States." But as Media Matters pointed out, Turner -- and thus WND -- did not note that no one has apparently ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act, and any assertion as to its application to a member of Congress is speculative at best. At worst, it's hypocritical, since we don't recall conservatives getting worked up about Republicancongressmen visiting foreign countries and contradicting the foreign policy of the (Democratic) president.
This also gave WND an opportunity to rehash Aaron Klein's coffee klatch with his terrorist buddies (well, just two) claiming that they endorse Pelosi's visit.
Both WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com devoted articles uncritically advancing a Zogby-Judicial Watch poll claiming that a majority of Americans believe there will be "high levels of corruption in the White House" if Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2008. But neither article noted Judicial Watch's history of anti-Clinton activism or the poll's slanted, leading questions.
Judicial Watch is, of course, the Richard Mellon Scaife-funded conservative legal group that filed dozens of lawsuits against the Clinton administration during the 1990s. As we've noted, Scaife has given much more money to Judicial Watch than George Soros has to liberal-leaning legal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Further, given that Judicial Watch paid for the Zogby poll, the poll's questions are tailored to give answers that Judicial Watch wants to hear (and promote). As the Washington Post's Dana Milbank pointed out:
The poll [Judicial Watch leader Tom] Fitton commissioned, actually five questions added to a nationwide poll by Zogby International, was rather loaded in its language. "Some people believe that the Bill Clinton administration was corrupt," one question begins. In another question about Hillary Clinton, every answer included the word "corrupt," and the question was not asked about other candidates so that a comparison could be made.
Indeed, here's the first question:
Some people believe that the Bill Clinton administration was corrupt. Whether or not you believe the Clinton administration was corrupt, how concerned are you that there will be high levels of corruption in the White House if Hillary Clinton is elected President in 2008?
Isn't forwarding slanted polls as representative of reality a form of corruption? What say you, Judicial Watch?
We're getting the feeling that we may need to name our Slantie Award for biased news coverage in honor of WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh.
An April 7 WND article by Unruh on an Oregon gay-rights bill quotes only opponents of the bill making claims that Unruh doesn't support with evidence. No proponents of the bill are allowed to respond to them. In fact, he offers no link to the bill itself -- thus giving his readers an opportunity to read the contents for themselves -- even though he links to the websites of the anti-gay groups he quotes.
This is merely the latest article in which he tellsonlyoneside of the story, or lets that side tell the other side, a technique that almost guarantees inaccurate and biased information.
As we've noted, Unruh previously had a career with the Associated Press, so he knows this isn't good or fair journalism. At least, he should.
Galen Spreads Talking Points About Wash. Post Across Two Mediums Topic: CNSNews.com
An April 6 CNSNews.com column by Rich Galen claimed:
The Washington Post -- not exactly known as a semi-official mouthpiece of the Bush administration -- in a Thursday morning editorial called Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's visit with the president of Syria "foolish;" her statements about a diplomatic breakthrough "ludicrous;" and her "attempt to establish a shadow presidency ... counterproductive."
But as Media Matters pointed out when Galen made similar claims on CNN, the Post editorial omitted key information reported in Post news article that undermined the editorial's attacks on Pelosi. Further, rather than being "not exactly known as a semi-official mouthpiece of the Bush administration," the Post's editorials backed several Bush administration policies and have tended to agree with the unambiguously conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Galen also repeats the talking point that Pelosi said "she brought a message to Mr. Assad from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Israel is ready for peace talks with Syria," which Israeli officials contradicted. In fact, Pelosi's office released a statement in response to the editorial, which asserted that Pelosi also made clear that Israel continued to demand that Syria cut ties with extremist groups, and told Assad that "in order for Israel to engage in talks with Syria, the Syrian government must eliminate its links with extremist elements, including Hamas and Hezbollah."
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.