The New Clinton Conspiracy Topic: Accuracy in Media
In an April 18 "special report" at the Richard Mellon Scaife-funded Accuracy in Media, Cliff Kincaid declares that Media Matters (disclosure: my employer) is "a front organization for Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign." But Kincaid needs to work on his conspiracy-mongering to make it more factual and less hypocritical.
Kincaid doesn't explain why, if Media Matters is a "front organization" for Clinton, Media Matters has regularly defended John Edwards and Barack Obama against instances of conservative misinformation.
Kincaid claims that "In the Media Matters world, where Hillary rules, you are not supposed to say anything seriously or comically critical of the former First Lady" -- using as an example of the "comically critical" Don Imus' description of Hillary as Satan. But he doesn't explain why there is no mention on the Media Matters site of one of the most conservative-beloved examples of Hillary-bashing, in a "Saturday Night Live" skit from January.
Kincaid claims that Keith Olbermann's use of Media Matters items on his MSNBC "Countdown" show "puts in question the 'independence' of MSNBC in the Imus matter." But he doesn't explain why the Media Research Center's heavy presence on Fox News does not similarly call into question the "independence" of Fox News.
Kincaid plays up connections between Media Matters and George Soros, but AIM has a history of downplaying its links to Richard Mellon Scaife.
Kincaid misrepresented a Media Matters item about him, claiming that Media Matters had "falsely impl[ed] that I had fabricated a letter from the Afghan Ambassador" and "rushed into print with this defamatory item without checking the facts beforehand. Then it refused to retract or apologize after being caught." In fact, Media Matters merely pointed out that "the letter as posted on the America's Survival website [operated by Kincaid] consisted of separate elements cobbled together from various sources" and that "Kincaid had provided no acknowledgment that the document he posted was an electronic collage and certainly no explanation for why he had not simply posted a photographic reproduction of the letter."
WND, CNS Ignore Full Story of Arrested Grandmas Topic: WorldNetDaily
April 18 articles by WorldNetDaily (by Bob Unruh) and CNSNews.com (by Fred Lucas) hype the opposition to a federal hate-crime bill by highlighting the idea that grandmothers will be jailed for, in Unruh's words, "sharing the Gospel of Jesus on a Philadelphia public sidewalk." But neither Unruh nor Lucas tell the full story of these women.
Lucas led off his article by noting "grandmother of 10" Linda Beckman "went to jail overnight for publicly objecting to a homosexual rights rally in Philadelphia." While that's a little closer to the truth than Unruh got, it's still not the full story. Beckman and Arlene Elshinnaway -- both of whom are featured in commercials opposing the bill being pushed by the anti-gay grouup Faith2Action (led by WND columnist Janet Folger), which is the source of the "jail grandma" hype Unruh and Lucas bought into.
In Elshinnaway's commercial, she says she "attended a homosexual event in Philadelphia," where she "to share the gospel of Jesus Christ." Accompanying footage shows her standing alone on a street corner handing out pamphlets, implying that was doing when she was arrested. Beckman similarly claims in her commercial that she "was arrested on a public sidewalk of Philadelphia for sharing the gospel" and shows her, like Elshinaway, standing alone on a street corner handing out pamphlets. She concludes, "Sending grandmothers to jail goes too far."
In fact, they are not merely standing on a street corner handing out pamphlets when they were arrested. Both she and Beckman are part of the so-called "Philadelphia 11," led by Repent America's Michael Marcavage, who were arrested briefly for interrupting a gay festival in Philadelphia in October 2004. As we've detailed, Marcavage -- with a bullhorn -- and his group tried to interrupt a stage performance with their preaching, and were arrested only after they refused to go to an area on the edge of the event. The charges against them were eventually dropped; while Beckman says her commercial that she "faced 47 years behind bars," even the attorney for the gay event the protesters interrupted doubted they would actually face anything more severe than probation. The group was not passively "sharing the Gospel of Jesus on a Philadelphia public sidewalk."
Neither Unruh nor Lucas tell the full story of the Repent America arrests, presumably because it would interfere with the "jail grandma" narrative.
UPDATE: Beckman is less a typical grandmother and more of a right-wing activist; she has a record of arrests for blockades of abortion clinics.
And more links from us: The extremist activism of Repent America's Michael Marcavage, and Janet Folger's trust in the word of a convicted killer with a history of lying over that of law enforcement officials.
Bozell Bitter Over Pulitzers Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell started his April 18 column by asking, "Conservatives often ponder why more young conservatives don’t go into journalism." Perhaps because conservatives tend to put ideology over the pursuit of journalistic truth, as evidenced by the MRC giving an award to Rush Limbaugh (for "media excellence" and "outstanding leadership in the conservative movement," not "journalism").
Bozell then launches into a rant over the recently awarded Pulitzer Prizes, complaining that they have a liberal agenda. In attacking the award for commentary given to Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bozell dug up a column in which she cited "unindicted liars walking the halls of the Bush White House," adding, "Tucker can’t deliver a shred of evidence to support the accusation of a presidential 'lie.' " But Bozell offers no evidence that it was submitted for consideration by the Pulitzer judges; in fact, since it was written only a month ago, it couldn't have been.
Bozell also deplored giving the National Reporting prize given to Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe, for his reporting on President Bush's use of 'signing statements' to assert his controversial right to bypass provisions of new laws. "This underlines that heavy usage of a story on left-wing publicity machines like Air America and the Huffington Post apparently wins you major Pulitzer considerations," he added. Note that Bozell is not attacking the accuracy of the reporting but, rather, that "left-wing publicity machines" used it. The better question is, why didn't "right-wing publicity machines" use it? Are such signing statments somehow less offensive to conservative sensibilities if a Republican president signs them? Because we certainly would have never heard the end of it from Bozell and Co. if Clinton had been caught using them to the same extent that Bush did.
Further, Bozell lumped the New York Times' Maureen Dowd on "the liberal list" of recipients of the commentary prize. But Dowd won her prize in 1999, when she was advancing conservative anti-Clinton talking points in her columns. For example, in one of her prize-winning columns, Dowd called Clinton the "Animal House President," adding, "If he escapes again, he will grope again." Another column called Clinton a "sex addict." How is that different from what Bozell himself wrote about Clinton at that time? (Beyond Dowd's belief that Clinton shouldn't have been impeached over sex, that is.)
Slantie Bob Hates Journalistic Fairness Topic: WorldNetDaily
Bob Unruh, as we've detailed, has chosen not to burden his reporting for WorldNetDaily with the time-honored journalistic precept of fairness. An April 17 WND article by Unruh continues that tradition, yet again presenting only one side of an issue (presumably the one he supports), this time on a "federal 'hate speech' proposal." Unruh uses opponents of the proposal to frame it, depicting it as a law "that already has been used to send grandmothers to jail for their 'crime' of sharing the Gospel of Jesus on a Philadelphia public sidewalk." Indeed, the article is headlined, " 'Jail grandma' hate speech debate begins."
As he has done manytimesbefore, Unruh makes no attempt whatsoever to fairly present the views of supporters of the proposal, let alone deign to actually talk to one.
An April 16 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock on "reliably left-wing" Keith Olbermann becoming co-host of a sports show on NBC is ominously headlined "Liberal Bias Invades NFL." We suspect that neither Whitlock -- nor anyone else at the MRC -- was running around screaming "Conservative Bias Invades NFL!" when Rush Limbaugh was hired by ESPN.
As if to illustrate that point, Whitlock linked to a June 2000 column by his boss, Brent Bozell, which not only failed to lament the arrival of "conservative bias" in the NFL with Limbaugh's hiring but complained that one sportswriter critical of Limbaugh's selection "refused to separate politics from sports." Of course, that's the same thing Whitlock is failing to do here. (Limbaugh himself similarly failed to do so, which cost him his ESPN job.)
Whitlock goes on to ask: "Will the [Washington] Post and other liberal media organizations decry Olbermann’s selection?" But he does not note that, unlike Limbaugh prior to ESPN, Olbermann has a notable track record in sports broadcasting.
Mychal Massie was in rare form today. In his April 17 WorldNetDaily column, Massie stated that Don Imus "doesn't need me to defend him, and this piece is in no way intended to do so." Massie then, of course, goes on to do precisely that:
However, no matter how insulting his comments were, they didn't sanction rape, murder, drugs and killing police. Albeit off color, they were said in the context of what he annually earned CBS $20 million for doing – being an edgy, push the line, condescending, fading radio personality. His words weren't six plus minutes on a CD that glorified drugs, guns, and bump and grind.
Note to Massie: If you're equivocating Imus' remarks, you're defending him.
Massie also gets mean -- and gets some of his facts wrong -- in the apologies he demands from liberals. For instance, he demanded that "The DNC apologizes for encouraging liberal black Marylanders to pelt former senatorial candidate Michael Steele with Oreo cookies, which represented the crudest of racial epithets." But Massie offers no evidence that the DNC or anyone else "encourag[ed] liberal black Marylanders to pelt" Steele with Oreos, and Steele himself has told conflicting accounts of the purported incident.
Massie also asserts that Bill Maher said that "Vice President Cheney should have been assassinated while in Afghanistan." In fact, Maher said: "I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact." That's not explicit advocacy.
Massie offers no evidence to support other claims that he claims a "cacophony of race mongers" has made:
-- that "Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, John Murtha and Charlie Rangel" have voiced "vicious insults and false accusations they continue to smear upon our brave military men and women, and their families."
-- that "Harry Reid and Joe Biden" hurled "racist insults" at Justice Clarence Thomas.
-- that "Shock jock John "Sly" Sylvester" engaged in "nakedly racist name-calling of Powell and Rice on his Madison, Wis., radio show." Who?
(This, by the way, from a guy who loves to smear Democrats by likening them to Bull Connor, so Massie knows from race-mongering.)
Massie went on to call Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "Two of the nation's foremost immoralists" and further called Obama "black genocide-advocating. But Massie's greatest flight of thesauricfancy was reserved for a certain New York Times columnist:
Where were Jackson and Sharpton when the openly bigoted, white harridan Maureen Dowd wrote a racist, poisonous screed against Justice Thomas? Can there be a more specious hate-filled attack on a black man than the coded, cozened speech Dowd intentionally smeared him with when she accused him of being a slave to his most base and reprobate physical urges? ("Could Thomas be right?" June 25, 2003) Mine was the lone voice in a July 2003 article that defended him. Today, Dowd continues her verbal flatulence with impunity.
Again, Massie offers no evidence of Dowd's statements to back up his claim.
In an April 17 NewsMax column, Ronald Kessler allowed GOPAC to make misleading claims about the U.S. attorney firing scandal:
"You put in place this effort to focus on a troop surge and to get some real momentum for the administration's policy in Iraq, and there's some signs that that momentum is beginning to take hold, that there's some success on the ground," Steele said. "And all of a sudden — boom. You take three steps back with something that's within the prerogative of the executive branch to do, and that is to hire and fire those at-will employees for whatever reason.
"Bill Clinton fired 93 of them, for goodness sake, and no one blinked an eye. George Bush fired eight in the second term, and you think it's Armageddon."
Thus, the Democrats turned innocuous, if poorly handled, firings into a front-page story.
As we've detailed, the 8-equals-93 argument is bogus. And both Kessler and Steele ignore the fact that Justice Department offiicals, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, have made conflicting, misleading and/or false claims about how and why the attorneys were replaced, which makes things rather beyond "innocuous."
Klein Hides Full Story on Israeli Land Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein used an April 16 WorldNetDaily column to defend his previous reporting on a claim that "[l]and in Jerusalem owned by a Jewish group and purchased primarily using Jewish donor funds has been used for the illegal construction of dozens of Palestinian apartment buildings, a refugee camp and a United Nations school."
But Klein never reported the full scope of the issue at hand. Similarly, the New York Times has reported that a significant percentage -- 39 percent -- of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians. That would seem to be a relevant thing to note -- at least, if would be if Klein wasn't a hopelesslybiased writer.
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.
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.
CNS Balance: 'Liberal' vs. 'Non-Profit Organization' Topic: CNSNews.com
An April 16 CNSNews.com 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."
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?
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.
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.
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 badhabit of treating meaningless online polls as legitimate news.
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.