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Monday, April 16, 2007
Double Standard Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 16 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham takes "Doonesbury" to task for making the following observation about the 2008 presidential race: "On the GOP side, the three front-runners, Giuliani, McCain, and Gingrich have five divorces among them, four of them really messy, and all of them involving adultery. On the Democratic side, the three front-runners, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, have no divorces or infidelities." Graham's response:

Trudeau is here is playing around with facts. Start with the point that Newt Gingrich isn’t actually a declared candidate for president. In some polls, he places third, but not in others. Using Mitt Romney, for example, would ruin the "joke."

This all sounds like the kind of argument liberals used in the mid-1990s to deflect attention from Bill Clinton’s private life, mocking conservative leaders for having bad marriages.

It also sounds like Graham's eagerness to change the subject from Don Imus to Al Sharpton.

Graham goes on to complain, noting the Washington Post's placement of "Doonesbury" next to "Opus" on the Sunday comic page: "Trudeau isn't even attempting to be funny most of the time, since it gets in the way of the diatribes, and Opus man Berkeley Breathed is routinely funny, even when he mocks conservatives." We would posit that a writer for a blog that publishes "Gaggle" lacks some room to complain about the humor level of comics.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:47 PM EDT
CNS Balance: 'Liberal' vs. 'Non-Profit Organization'

An April 16 article by Randy Hall claimed that a new study questioning the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education programs "has drawn sharp comments from both sides of the sex education issue." Those sides, according to Hall: a "liberal group" and "a medical non-profit organization."

The "liberal group" is Advocates for Youth, which describes itself as "dedicated to creating programs and advocating for policies that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health." We're not sure why that makes the group "liberal."

The "medical non-profit organization" is the Medical Institute for Sexual Health. An NPR article describes the Medical Institute as a group that "advises conservative groups on medical issues." Hall fails to note that the group is pro-abstinence to the point that it favors for adults "abstinence outside of a life-long mutually monogamous relationship such as marriage."

Sounds like a conservative group to us. And Hall, by his own rule for labeling Advocates for Youth, should have labeled it as conservative or, conversely, given the "non-profit" label to Advocates for Youth as well. So why didn't he? Presumably, to make the pro-abstinence group sound more authoritative and the Advocates for Youth look politically motivated.

UPDATE: More labeling bias from CNS: An April 16 article by Payton Hoegh fails to identify the Collegiate Network as conservative. Hoegh stated that "The Collegiate Network says on its website that it "focuses public awareness on the politicization of American college and university classrooms" without also noting the group's website also calls itself "The Home of Conservative College Journalism Since 1979."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:32 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2007 3:11 PM EDT
'Gaggle' Smears Diane Sawyer
Topic: NewsBusters

The April 16 edition of NewsBusters' "Gaggle" cartoon, drawn by Greg Sheffield, falsely portrays Diane Sawyer calling Larry Elder a "right-wing fascist." In fact, she called him -- horrors! -- a "conservative radio host." (Though Mark Finkelstein was offended by even that.) We're not sure where the humor is to be found by putting words into Sawyer's mouth and turning a truthful statement by her into a smear.

The sad thing is, there are people out there who will, as a result of this, think that Sawyer really did call Elder a "right-wing fascist." Why are conservatives so bothered by being labeled as conservative?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
Sheppard's Blind Spot on Insults
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 15 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard complained that "when the New Black Panther Party leader Malik Shabazz called Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin a 'political prostitute' on Thursday’s “O’Reilly Factor,” the media largely ignored the event."

Sheppard makes no mention of the comparative coverage given when Glenn Beck called Cindy Sheehan "a pretty big prostitute." Or when Michael Savage called Barbara Walters a "double-talking slut." Or when Savage called Diane Sawyer a "lying whore." In fact, we don't recall seeing any outrage whatsoever from Sheppard from those remarks -- just as we haven't seen any evidence of Sheppard specifically criticizing Don Imus' "nappy-headed hos" remark.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:01 AM EDT
WND Still Likening Non-Homeschoolers to Nazis
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 15 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh keeps up his tradition of smearing anyone who allegedly objects to homeschooling as Nazis by dropping references to Nazis and Hitler in asserting the purported motivations of German objections to homeschooling. For instance, Unruh describes "homeschool families under attack from a government that has held the activity illegal since before the Nazi juggernaut failed to conquer the world," later adding that "Adolf Hitler issue[d] the dictate when his government, in one of its first actions when he came to power, took control of all educational institutions and issues." Unruh seems to want to imply that the German government is a bunch of Nazis, a claim for which he has no actual evidence, since, as we've noted, he has never talked to anyone from the German government for any article -- or any source that wasn't pro-homeschooling, for that matter -- in his series on German homeschooling.

Unruh also includes a number of unverifed and unchallenged claims in his article, mostly made by Michael P. Farris, cofounder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and president of Patrick Henry College, a higher-education school for Christian homeschoolers. Unruh reports a claim, presumably from Faris, that one German family "s paying a fine each month for refusing to turn children over to a mandatory public school system that advocates alternative sexual lifestyle choices and promotes other beliefs objectionable to Christians." But neither Unruh nor Faris offer evidence that the curriculum the family is allegedly protesting "advocates alternative sexual lifestyle choices" -- a presumed code word for homosexuality. As we've also noted, discussion of homosexuality in schools does not equal "advocacy."

Unruh also claims that, according to Faris, "the largely Muslim Turkish population in Germany numbers in the millions, and members have not assimilated." He then quotes Faris saying, "What we were told was in many German cities the de facto legal authority is (Muslim religious) sharia law, not German law." Again, neither Unruh nor Faris offer any evidence to back up their claims.

Unruh's pro-homeschooling bias -- his own children are homeschooled -- is continuing to keep him from telling the full, fair and honest story about the German issue. And it's not as if the roughtly 30 years Unruh spent at the Associated Press before joining WND didn't teach him how to do that.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:37 AM EDT
Sunday, April 15, 2007
WND Promotes Another Meaningless Poll
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 14 WorldNetDaily article promotes Fred Thompson as the winner of a "presidential poll conducted by the American Family Association." Nowhere does it state that the AFA poll is an opt-in, online poll that is meaningless as an accurate gauge of presidential preferences (or anything else). Still, WND felt the need to put a false patina of credibility on it, claiming that it "allowed people to cast only a single vote in one party for president." So does WND's own online poll, but that doesn't make it accurate either.

As we've documented, WND has a bad habit of treating meaningless online polls as legitimate news. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:16 PM EDT
Graham: Change the Subject, Please
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 14 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham criticized the Washington Post's Colbert King for a column dedicated "to bashing Don Imus and anyone who would shift the subject to vicious rap lyrics. ... He didn't want anyone changing the subject to Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson either." Graham asks: "So the natural question is: has Colbert King ever criticized a rapper? Or Al Sharpton?"

The natural question we're thinking of is: Why is Graham so eager to change the subject away from Imus? As we've noted, the MRC has made no official statement on Imus' remarks, preferring to attack Sharpton and Jackson. The quiet emanating from the MRC is approaching deafening levels.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:18 PM EDT
Kincaid Flip-Flops on Imus
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In an April 9 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid pointed out that Don Imus made his remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team "only a few weeks" before the annual meeting of MSNBC parent General Electric. After noting that "Accuracy in Media will be there," Kincaid added:

Do you think GE chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt is going to want to answer questions in front of hundreds of shareholders about why his subsidiary puts Imus on the air? And why NBC News personalities like Tim Russert regularly appear on the show?

Sounds like Kincaid wants Imus gone and was raring to confront the suits about it, right? 

Wrong. Just three days later, after MSNBC (and CBS) fired Imus, Kincaid wrote another column calling NBC officials "cowardly" for firing Imus. He further declared that the "get-Imus campaign" because it was "designed to get [Jesse] Jackson and [Al] Sharpton more face time in the media." And, contradicting his attack on Russert for appearing on Imus' show, Kincaid now says "Tim Russert in particular ought to be ashamed of himself for not standing by his long-time friend."

So, Cliff, which is it? We're confused. 

Kincaid also calls Media Matters (disclosure: my employer) a "George Soros-funded group." It's not. Perhaps we can start calling AIM a "Richard Mellon Scaife-funded group."

Posted by Terry K. at 4:57 PM EDT
Sheppard: Imus Firing 'Deplorable,' Endorses Revenge
Topic: NewsBusters

What's Noel Sheppard saying here in this April 14 NewsBusters post?

In a piece posted at his blog Wednesday – obviously before CBS radio decided to fire Imus – and deliciously titled “If the Left takes Imus, We’ll take Rosie,” DeLay described this deplorable event in a way that only he could whilst issuing a reciprocal call to arms: 

Looks to us like he's calling Don Imus' firing "deplorable." Sheppard makes no judgment in this post on what Imus said.

And yes, DeLay is calling for revenge for the firing of Imus by trying to get Rosie O'Donnell fired. And yes, Sheppard concurs, calling DeLay's idea "absolutely delicious," adding: "They didn’t call him 'The Hammer' for nothing, folks."

In another April 14 post, Sheppard declared it "fabulous" that a black sportswriter called Jesse Jackson and Al Sharprton "terrorists." Again, Sheppard does not criticize what Imus said; while he refers to "this disgraceful Don Imus affair," it appears that, again, he is complaining that Imus got fired.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:15 AM EDT
Saturday, April 14, 2007
NewsBusters Get Touchy About Labeling
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 14 NewsBusters post by Lynn Davidson the "media coverage" (though citing only TV Week and gossip website TMZ) on the new game show Tucker Carlson is hosting displays annoyance that Carlson was described as a "conservative MSNBC pundit and famed bow-tie aficionado." Davidson retorts: "TVWeek didn’t refer to Keith Olbermann as 'famed big-browed liberal.' " This would be relevant if Olbermann was using his apparently abnormally large brows as a way to get media attention, like Carlson did with his bow tie. And to back up her claim about labeling, Davidson dug up a TV Week blog entry from four months ago to support her claim about Olbermann not being labeled "liberal."

Similarly, Davidson also objects to Carlson being called a conservative: "If TMZ were familiar with Carlson and his views, they would know that Carlson thinks we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq and isn’t fond of the choices for 2008, but in any way indicating that those on the right can have diversity of political views would ruin the typical media portrayal of them." Davidson further objects: "TMZ doesn’t label Chris Matthews and Olbermann 'left wing' or 'liberal.' " But as we've pointed out, Matthews has done at least as many non-liberal things as Carlson has non-conservative things. Thus, Davidson failed to follow her own rule about being "familiar with Matthews and his views" before judging his political leanings. But that would ruin the typical conservative potrayal of him.

In a similar vein, an April 13 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein complained that ABC described Larry Elder as a "conservative radio host" even though, he writes, "on his own site Elder describes himself as a 'libertarian' and 'a blend of fiscal conservative and social liberal.' " Finkelstein then adds: "Of course we all know how many times the MSM has described Al Sharpton as a "liberal" in the course of his innumerable appearances over the last week or so: that would be precisely zero, at last count."

Since Finkelstein, per Larry Elder, has set website self-description as the standard by which the media should describe someone's political leanings, let's look at Sharpton's online bio. Hmmm ... nope, we don't see the word "liberal" anywhere.

While we're at it, let's look at Keith Olbermann's online bio. Nope, no "liberal" there either. Or "left-wing" for that matter. Sorry, Lynn.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:55 PM EDT
Speaking of Omitting Important Information ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 13 WorldNetDaily article was critical of the "press" -- actually, a Dallas TV station and the Associated Press -- for reporting on abuses in a high school program about the Holocaust that "purposely omitted from the reports" that "[t]he abuses took place last year" and "[t]here have been no reports of such abuses in the program this year."

This appears to be an attempt to plug Joseph Farah's new book by suggesting that WorldNetDaily doesn't do such things when, of course, it does.

In December 2005, for instance, WND reported -- or, to be more accurate, rewrote press releases from the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel -- on a case in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, where a school was accused of changing the lyrics to "Silent Night" for a holiday program. Nowhere in the original article, a follow-up article, a column by Joseph Farah or two columns by Jerry Falwell (who operates Liberty Counsel) could the truth about the situation be found: The revised lyrics sung to "Silent Night" were, in fact, part of the plot of a play the school was performing -- ironically, a play described as having been performed by churches across the country.

It can credibly be claimed that WND purposely omitted from its reports the full truth because it merely rewrote Liberty Counsel's press releases and made no effort to do any of its own reporting, which would have cleared the situation up. WND is being hypocritical in complaining about journalistic behavior WND itself has engaged in.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:47 AM EDT
Friday, April 13, 2007
NewsMax Headline Bias Watch
Topic: Newsmax

The headline Reuters put on an April 13 article: "Rove in new controversy over e-mails."

The headline NewsMax put on the Reuters article: "Democrats On Karl Rove Witch Hunt." 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:15 PM EDT
NewsMax Uses Blog Commenters to Attack Hillary
Topic: Newsmax

In an April 12 article claiming that Hillary Clinton "will try to make more political hay out of the Don Imus controversy by visiting Rutgers University," NewsMax heaped more scorn on Hillary by using anonymous blog commenters to attack her:

After Hillary’s planned trip to Rutgers was reported by the New York Daily News’ blog Mouth of the Potomac, one posted comment read: "The Queen of Pander strikes again.”

Another read: "Maybe she’ll go to Duke University next?”

Why are the anonymous comments on a blog so newsworthy? For the ConWeb, it appears to be a way to attack enemies is a tactic we're seeing the ConWeb more lately; for instance, a March 14 WorldNetDaily article by Joe Kovacs repeats the statements several pseudonymous online commenters bashing Katie Couric. The apparent purpose of doing so is to serve as a firewall plausible deniability, to permit the likes of WND and NewsMax to put such attacks and other such sentiments it agrees with into wider circulation while claiming they themselves weren't actually saying that, they were just reporting what was posted on a blog. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:15 AM EDT
Salvato Defends Imus, Attacks Rutgers Players

In an April 13 column, Frank Salvato declared that Don Imus is a victim of "Progressive-Left and the one-world Socialists among us" because they have "have used bullying tactics to infringe upon the guaranteed right of free speech under the First Amendment" and are "attempting to establish a shadow rule of law based on the Marxist-Leninist Communist-Socialist principles of political correctness." Salvato called Imus' remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team "a completely unimportant statement made by a shock jock that could have been rectified with the turn of a radio dial."

Salvato then goes on to attack the Rutgers players because they might own music by rap artists who say offensive things:

If I could divine one truth from this "scandal" it would be to find out what CDs are in the personal music collections of each of the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team. Something tells me that in each, there are CDs from rap music artists that offer words and sentiments that eclipse the so-called offensive words of Don Imus. In the existence of these CDs within their collections lays the ultimate hypocrisy of political correctness. 

Well, no, it doesn't. Salvato misses the point of the outrage over Imus: He applied a derogatory term to a group of women who not only were not engaging in negative behavior but who played for a national championship in their sport. They did nothing to warrant being called "nappy-headed hos," yet Salvato is implying they deserve it because they might listen to offfensive rap lyrics, even though their musical tastes are irrelevant to the issue.

Much more relevant -- and illuminating -- is the fact that Salvato won't criticize Imus. But that's a problem other conservatives have as well.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:37 AM EDT
MRC Equivocates on Imus, Criticizes Sharpton Instead
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center would rather attack Al Sharpton than criticize Don Imus.

There's no official MRC statement about Imus, but its writers and bloggers have used the occasion of Sharpton's criticism of Imus to bash Sharpton:

  • Brent Bozell, in an April 12 column, called Sharpton "the usual cast of professional victims" and asked " But where were these people when the subject was gangsta rap?" 
  • An April 12 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock rehashed Sharpton's involvement in the Tawana Brawley case. 
  • An April 12 NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy trumpeted how ABC's "The View" "discussed the lack of moral authority from Imus’ most visible critic, Reverend Al Sharpton."
  • Another April 12 post by Whitlock complained that "NBC reporter David Gregory spent almost 15 minutes of air time discussing the radio host's firing with the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson." 

While Sharpton is certainly deserving of criticism, particularly in the Tawana Brawley case, for MRC writers to change the subject and engage in that rather than any substantive criticism of Imus -- who made the remark that set all of this off in the first place -- looks like a decided unwillingness to take any definitive stand on Imus at all. Perhaps someone from the MRC would like to explain why it's tippy-toeing around Imus.

Sharpton isn't the only target getting bashed instead of Imus: In an April 12 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker bashed Keith Olbermann for "smeared conservative talk radio as 'racist,'" claiming that anyone who didn't find Rush Limbaugh's descripton of Barack Obama as "Halfrican" is "humor-challenged since Limbaugh's 'Halfrican-American' quip was obviously a play on 'African-American,' since Obama had a white mother and an African father, not a charge that he's only half American." But 1) Baker offers no evidence that Olbermann said that "halfrican-American" suggested Obama was "only half American"; and 2) conservative San Francisco radio station KSFO host Brian Sussman apologized for calling Obama "Halfrican," stating, "[A]gain, this is one that I've apologized for and I've mentioned that my comments were insensitive." Hey, Brent, could you explain one more time why this is funny?

In an April 12 post, Tim Graham -- perhaps channeling convicted felon and Clinton-hater Peter Paul -- tried to get a little conspiracy-mongering going, claiming that those calling for Imus' firing were doing the bidding, if not following the explicit instructions, of Hillary Clinton:

Who is happier today at Don Imus removed from MSNBC than Hillary Clinton? Who else at MSNBC would be as harshly critical of Hillary as Imus? Without Imus, Hillary's path to the White House will be smoother. This might explain why some of the Hillary-founded left-wing media-watchdogging clones were so fierce in taking Imus down. 

Dan Riehl promulgated his own conspiracy theories in an April 12 post, asserting that the "Get-Imus Movement" will be fuel for a movement to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Of course, it wouldn't be a Riehl post if there weren't some false claims invovled; he noted "[a] liberal Congress already quick to hurl subpoenas at the AG for normal firings" though, in fact, they were anything but normal; and he repeated the claim that Nancy Pelosi was planning to visit Iran, something she has denied.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:26 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, April 13, 2007 1:56 AM EDT

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