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Thursday, May 31, 2007
NewsMax Selectively Quotes Politico on Kessler
Topic: Newsmax

Another tidbit from NewsMax's March 27 "Insider Report":

[We heard ...] THAT NewsMax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler has garnered attention - and praise - from a prominent political blogger for his online article about Mitt Romney and his wife Ann.

In an item headlined "Talk about a must-read," Jonathan Martin of writes: "I don't even know where to begin. This Ronald Kessler story about the Romneys has so much to offer.

"Go read the whole thing now."

Kessler was also the author of the in-depth profile "Romney to the Rescue," the cover story of NewsMax Magazine's April issue.

But Martin's Politico post didn't endorse Kessler's article on Ronmey for the reason NewsMax wants you to think. Here's what Martin wrote after "Go read the whole thing now":

First off, Kessler is clearly infatuated with Ann Romney.  I'm not even sure what a "good carriage" is, but he says she has that to go with a "rosy complexion, square jaw, and blond mane."    Like I said, he's quite taken.   

In case you don't believe me...

"When she is not flashing her truly unbelievable smile, she may lower her eyes demurely. But Ann Romney is not demure — she may be modest, but she isn't meek. She is unpretentious, but she isn't shy. She lowers her eyes, thinking, and then looks up directly at her interviewer and dazzles him with that smile."

Ok, at this point the gov may be getting a little worried.  Frankly, I was also.

In other words, it's a must-read to observe Kessler's creepy sycophancy of Ann Romney (which we've noted). NewsMax similarly ignores the comments of another Politico writer, Ben Smith, who was even more mesmerized by Kessler's purple prose. NewsMax also doesn't note that the above passage Martin quoted was edited out of Kessler's article.

Martin continues:

Kessler goes to lengths to show how influential Ann Romney is with her husband.  She even weighs in on staff hires, he writes.

Which is revealing and fascinating.  But it also makes what Mitt said after the news of his wife's Planned Parenthood contribution broke look even worse.  Recall -- "her positions I don't think are terribly relevant to my campaign."

Ann Romney also says both are pro-life, which evidently means both have switched their stance on the issue.  But she also says that her husband was "always been personally pro-life," but then says on the matter, "Well, you know what?  He did change his mind." Perhaps she meant as it relates to his policy/governmental views and not just personal opinion, but the contradiction don't look good.  

In other words, Kessler essentially caught Romney in a flip-flop that he won't admit is one. This is, after all, the guy who insists that "While all the leading candidates have changed position on a range of issues, Romney has made a clear change on only one issue" (as we've also noted).

Posted by Terry K. at 3:30 PM EDT
You Read It Here First
Topic: Newsmax

Remember last week, when we warned that NewsMax would soon plug the results of a biased, meaningless poll on immigration? The first item in NewsMax's May 27 "Insider Report" reads:

By a margin of more than 23 to 1, Americans overwhelmingly oppose the Senate's plan for immigration reform, an Internet poll sponsored by NewsMax reveals.

Respondents in the poll - which drew more than 100,000 participants - also said they would oppose any 2008 presidential candidate who supports the Kennedy-McCain plan.

Nowhere does NewsMax indicate that the poll was an opt-in poll promoted on conservative websites, which makes it inherently unreliable as a indicator of public opinion as a whole, and it was promoted by NewsMax by disparaging the immigration plan, which distorts the results even further.

Also, while NewsMax provides the results for six of the poll's seven questions in the "Insider Report," it omits the seventh: "Who did you vote for in the 2004 election?" That's presumably because the number of poll respondents who voted for Bush is much higher than the 51 percent of the population that actually did, and disclosing that would betray the poll's bias.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
CNS Labeling Watch
A May 30 article by Nathan Burchfiel on Media Matters' (my employer) study on coverage of religion in the media labeled Media Matters as a "liberal media watchdog" but applied no descriptor at all to the conservative Culture and Media Institute, which criticized the study.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:00 AM EDT
Klein Finally Acknowledges Israeli President's Sex Scandal
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Good news: Months after the fact, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has finally told his readers that Israeli President Moshe Katsav is "embroiled in a rape scandal."

Bad news: That's all he has to say about Katsav; the reference is buried in a May 30 article about former prime minister Shimon Peres wanting to replace Katsav. In it, Klein claims that Peres was pushing "a scheme to intimidate Knesset members and get Peres elected" and that he "repeatedly has come under fire by critics for policies and plans many say would greatly undermine Israel's security."

Klein has attacked Peres before. In March, he wrote an article accusing Peres of "accused of falsifying his official biography on Israel's Knesset website to claim he served in the military and temporarily headed the Jewish state's navy." 

So we have a juicy rape allegation against Katsav, and Klein would rather devote himself to documenting a resume discrepancy? Yep. As we've previously noted, Katsav is a member of Klein's favorite political party, the conservative Likud; that is likely the reason Klein has been skittish about reporting on Katsav, while he's reported on numerous corruption allegations against (non-Likud) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:16 AM EDT
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Kessler Already Attacking Thompson, Still Fluffing Romney
Topic: Newsmax

Well, that was quick. Just a few hours after it was reported that Fred Thompson will officially explore running for president, NewsMax's Ronald Kessler has an article up attacking Thompson as lazy, a supporter of campaign finance reform, and nowhere near the cool dude that Mitt Romney is. Indeed, here Kessler resumes his obsequious, creepy fluffing of Romney:

  • "In contrast to Thompson, looking at the leading presidential candidates from both parties, none comes close to having the accomplishments of Mitt Romney."
  • "As governor, all of Romney's actions fit the conservative mold, even more so than those of Ronald Reagan. "
  • "While all the leading candidates have changed position on a range of issues, Romney has made a clear change on only one issue. "
  • "If Romney's Mormon beliefs make him gullible, Christians and Jews must be equally gullible. After all, they believe that men parted the Red Sea and walked on water, that Jesus paid taxes with coins from a fish's mouth, that a drop of oil burned for eight days, and that Mary gave birth to Jesus as a virgin."
  • "As for the claim that Romney is too perfect, that's another misconception: Romney doesn't have a dog."

Wow. Just ... wow.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:49 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 3:40 PM EDT
MRC Softball Week At Fox News Continues
Topic: Media Research Center

It must be MRC softball question week at Fox News.

Times Watch's Clay Waters appeared May 29 on "Your World" to discuss the New York Times' purported lack of reporting on Hugo Chavez's crackdown in Venezuela. Not only was it a solo appearance, like many other MRC appearances on Fox News, and not only was it never noted that the MRC is a conservative group (which Fox News rarely, if ever, points out), guest host David Asman -- as he did the day before with the MRC's Dan Gainor, encouraged and parroted Waters' talking points:

ASMAN: I was just going to say, we go back in history to a guy named Herbert Matthews in the '50s, who was the one who created the myth about Fidel Castro. He was reporting for the New York Times. It looks like history is repeating itself.


ASMAN: So the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The enemy, in this case, being Bush, for both Chavez and the New York Times.

WATERS: Sorta like that, yes.

ASMAN: But can you get -- but that's pretty outrageous if you think about it.


ASMAN: You know, meanwhile, we should mention that the New York Times did have space for -- here's a rally in Kabul, Afghanistan. They also had a rally in Germany about globalization that was featured on page A3, I believe, a big photo of -- there it is, there's a picture from that rally. No pictures, two sentences in the New York Times about what happened in Venezuela.

And, of course, no effort made to get the New York Times to respond to Waters' (and Asman's) claims.

How much does the MRC pay Fox News to get such favorable, unchallenged coverage?

Posted by Terry K. at 11:33 AM EDT
New Article: A Record-High Obsession
Topic: Media Research Center
Out There, Exhibit 42: When is a record high not a record high? When the Media Research Center decides it needs to be indexed for inflation (or not). Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:19 AM EDT
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Folger's False Scare Tactics
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Janet Folger's May 28 WorldNetDaily column includes a buttload o' scare tactics.

After portraying a handful of blog comments as representative of how all gays feel about the death of Jerry Falwell, Folger invoked "75-year-old grandmother Arlene Elshinnawy" again. As we've detailed, Elshinnawy is not the meek, ordinary grandmother that Folger portrays -- she's an anti-gay, anti-abortion activist in thrall to bullhorn-wielding street preachers. Folger also writes:

However, if two 16-year-old Crystal Lake girls say an unkind word about homosexuals and pass out a few flyers to their classmates, they are in "violation of an Illinois state hate crime statute." They face felony charges and are locked up in juvenile detention while bail is denied.

Via Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, we learn that Folger is not telling the full story about this case. It turns out that the girls were not merely "saying an unkind word about homosexuals and passing out a few flyers to their classmates," as Folger wants you to think:

Two female 16-year-old Crystal Lake South High School students face hate-crime charges after allegedly plastering their high school’s halls and distributing anti-gay fliers directed towards a fellow student in the school’s parking lot.

The actions against their former male friend landed the two girls in juvenile court on May 15, after being arrested by Crystal Lake police on May 11. Both, unnamed due to their ages, also face charges of obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct, and one teen faces an additional charge of resisting a police officer.

McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi told Windy City Times that despite arguments being made by many locals about the right to free speech, what the two girls did is clearly a hate crime.

 They had the intent to alarm and disturb another, and they were successful in that,” Bianchi said. “In alarming and disturbing, they also committed a hate crime. Their words ... were directed against a specific individual of a certain sexual orientation.”

Bianchi would not comment on the exact wording of the flier because it is evidence. However, other sources quote those who have viewed the flier as containing a picture of the male student kissing another male, with the wording “God hates fags.”

And for good measure, Folger also throws in some scare tactics about the federal hate-crimes bill, asserting that its passage will result in "16-year-old girls imprisoned and ministers' graves desecrated. It's Catholic mothers murdered, and the thought police in schools. What do you want the future to look like?"

Of course, that's not true either. In fact, the bill states: "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution." 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:24 PM EDT
Screed of the Day
Topic: Newsmax

Barry Farber's May 29 NewsMax column is an anti-media screed made more entertaining by the fact that he appears to be serious:

I don't know what octane of self-esteem surges within when you become officially an insurance agent, an investment banker, a union painter or an executive in dry-wall hanging or industrial abrasives. I can reliably report, however, that when you land a regular job involving TV cameras, microphones or a job in newspapers or magazines, especially if you re privileged to write under your own byline; you feel exalted. You feel a palpable superiority to most of the rest of mankind.

How, now, do you express that elevation? You don't run around telling plumbers and welders, "Hey. I'm better than you!" Instead, some media stars may take the opinions they associate with those under-classes and flay those opinions with the whiplash of their keenly-felt superiority. The masses are, let's say, rather proud of America.

That's the cue for that certain media lion to growl, "Well, I guess that's about par for ordinary folks like you down there but I'm way up here and it's my duty to tell you a thing or two. This America that you little folks think is so great has a lot of problems, short-comings injustices, and evils. And you'd better be glad people like me are smart enough and brave enough and thoughtful enough to grab you by the collar and beat up on you and your feeble, banal opinions and reach over your head and try to right all those shameful American wrongs."

One man and one woman are the ideal beginning of a family! Illegal aliens are against the law! Beer, OK; pot, no! God Almighty has a role in our lives! Oh, what fun it is to flatten these flowers of orthodoxy under the steamroller of their vastly more valid and sophisticated insights.

Farber goes on to add that "The media hates to report anything from eastern Europe because they love America, George W. Bush and America's pro-liberation policy."

Posted by Terry K. at 4:57 PM EDT
MRC on Fox: Another Challenge-Free Appearance
Topic: Media Research Center

With the May 28 appearance by Dan Gainor, director of the MRC's Business and Media Institute, on "Your World," The Media Research Center chalked up yet another friendly appearance on Fox News.

The segment featured Gainor joined by two other panelists, Fox News reporters Brenda Buttner and Terry Keenan, as well as guest host David Asman. As we've detailed, Fox News hosts tend to avoid asking tough questions of MRC representatives, and Keenan in particular has previously championed the MRC's talking points. Further, BMI was not described as the conservative group it is.

Interestingly, the video of Gainor's appearance posted on NewsBusters is cut off after the first question. Perhaps that's because after the MRC cut off the clip, Asman, Buttner and Keenan went on to reinforce Gainor's talking points regarding alleged hyping of high gas prices:

ASMAN: So, Brenda, is it hype, or is it the real thing?

BUTTNER: Well, I don't think it's hype that we report on gas prices. Nothing affects Americans' bottom line -- more Americans than that. But the real issue is that it's not -- what's not reported is when the gas prices go down. When they go down, do we then say to the oil companies, "Hey, you should get a break"? Or when they go down, do we report how much you're saving? No, it's always the only negative way. And the other thing is that many in the liberal media report that the gas prices are basically because we have a terrible economy, and that's not true at all.

ASMAN: And Terry, they also talk about it all being the price of oil, when so much of has to do with the price of gasoline, which means refined oil. That's a different thing.

KEENAN: Right, and that's what we've seen this year. While oil prices are up 18 percent, the refining costs are up about 35 percent, and that's why we're seeing gasoline prices back to where they were post-Katrina. But I agree with Dan. I mean, the cost of other things, including milk -- a gallon of milk, your education, your insurance costs, your health care costs have gone up far more rapidly than the price of gasoline, but nobody talks about that and, you know, nobody tells the milkman to give back his money.


ASMAN: And Terry, you know, for all the problem with the refineries, I don't see Democrats talking about deregulation to make it easier for refineries to come on line.

BUTTNER: No. I mean, who in their right mind would build a new refinery these days, with all the problems getting permits, with the refining margins coming down?

This is apparently the kind of "fair and balanced" coverage the MRC loves to see -- in which the "journalists" agree with them.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:52 PM EDT
NewsBusters' Flexible Standards
Topic: NewsBusters

Does NewsBusters hold its fellow conservatives to the same standard it holds the rest of the media?

Generally, no. We've already documented how it promoted a false report, then buried the fact that it was false, and how a NewsBusters blogger falsely smeared someone but couldn't be bothered to apologize for them. Now, there's another example of how conservatives who make errors are treated with kid gloves.

A May 27 NewsBusters post by Lynn Davidson played up claims by right-wing bloggers Little Green Footballs and Ace of Spades, who "questioned its veracity" of a memo used by the Washington Post and "harsh anti-war critic and former CIA and State Department employee Larry Johnson" in raising questions about distribution of food for U.S. troops in Iraq because the memo "used a Lenox china flag-cluthing eagle collectible figurine  on tan emblem for the header's graphics." An update on May 28 noted that another conservative blogger received "confirmation from the Baghdad Embassy ... that the content of the memo is real."

But Davidson fails to mention what in between the accusations of fakery and confirmation of authenticity. As Glenn Greenwald details, the right-wing bloggers loudly insisted that the memo was fake; one blog, Flopping Aces -- which provided Davidson with the evidence of confirmation that she accepted -- asserted that "Larry Johnson, that ViPer with a serious case of the BDS, is at it again peddling a forged document." And Ace of Spades insulted another blogger who refused to retract his memo-based claim, calling him a "fucking idiot." And upon the realization that the memo in question was, in fact, authentic, Greenwald writes that there have been "no apologies to Johnson or The Washington Post for impugning their integrity, from what I have seen." Greenwald adds:

And so we have but the latest in an endless series of right-wing-blogger outbursts of accusatory bile and claimed discoveries of wrongdoing and fraud where the only fraud and wrongdoing is from the blogger-accusers themselves.

So, we wonder: Shouldn't NewsBusters demand that its fellow conservative bloggers adhere to the same standards of accuracy as the "formerly mainstream media" it loves to criticize, especially after promoting a claim originated by those bloggers that turned out to be false? If it's going to denounce, say, Rosie O'Donnell for uncivil behavior, shouldn't it similarly denounce Ace of Spades for his personal attacks and profanity, especially over a charge that proved to be utterly false?

So, NewsBusters: Where are your standards? And will you admit to having more than one set?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:06 AM EDT
Monday, May 28, 2007
Power Line = 'Center Right'
Topic: NewsBusters

This tells you a good chunk about what you need to know about where NewsBusters (and the Media Research Center) is coming from and how seriously their media criticism should be taken:

In a May 27 NewsBusters post, Tom Blumer described the notoriously hard-right, Bush-lovin' blog Power Line as "center-right." 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:23 AM EDT
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Kuiper Omits Motivation for Anti-Media Matters Column
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Tom Kuiper spends his May 25 WorldNetDaily column attacking Media Matters (my employer). Not once does he mention what is presumably the real reason for his tirade: Media Matters busted Kuiper, pointing out that his compilation of Hillary Clinton quotes, "I've Always Been a Yankees Fan," used quotes that even Kuiper himself can't verify are factual, and that the assertion that Kuiper built his book around -- that Hillary was pandering to New York voters when she claimed to be a Yankees fan -- is in fact true; her Yankees fandom has been documented long before she ran for Senate in New York.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:07 PM EDT
Saturday, May 26, 2007
MRC Still Won't Criticize Imus, Misleadingly Attacks Maher
Topic: Media Research Center

We've previously noted that the Media Research Center has a lot of trouble bringing themselves to criticize the racist remarks that got Don Imus fired.

The MRC keeps up the trend with a May 24 press release delcaring that Bill Maher's remarks about religion make Imus "look like a saint." In addition to the MRC's tacit approval of Imus calling women's basketball players "nappy-headed hos," it eliminates the context in which Maher made his remarks. The press release reprinted only the salacious stuff:

“‘We weren’t having sex, officer, I was performing a very private Mass, here in my car. I was letting my rod and staff comfort him. Take this and eat of it, for this is my roommate Barry. … And for all those who believe there is a special place for you in Kevin.”

But it made no mention of the context. As the clip shows, Maher was criticizing the late Jerry Falwell's hateful rhetoric toward gays:

MAHER: Jerry Falwell found out that you could launder your hate through the cover of God's will. He didn't hate gays; God did. All Jerry Falwell's power came from name-dropping God, and gay people should steal that trick. You know what? Don't say you want something because it's your right as a human being. Say you want it because it's your religion. Gay men have been going at things backward. Forget civil rights and just make gayness a religion. I mean, you're kneeling anyway.

The press release also quotes Robert Knight, director of the MRC’s Culture and Media Institute, as saying: "Maher is entitled to his vile views, but he’s not entitled to an endless ride on the airwaves courtesy of Time-Warner. ... If Don Imus’s offensive racial joke was too much for the public to bear, certainly Maher’s sickening description of the Mass and Communion as graphic homosexual sex acts is beyond the pale." But Maher's show doesn't appear on "the airwaves"; it appears on pay cable late at night. Imus' radio show, by contrast, appeared on public airwaves during the morning hours.

WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, recycled the MRC's press release into a May 25 article that, of course, made no effort to contact Maher or HBO for a response. WND added to its article by noting that "Maher stirred controversy two years ago when he said Christians suffer from a neurological disorder that 'stops people from thinking.' " But the quote of Maher that followed did not single out Christians:

"We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies. I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological disorder. If you look at it logically, it's something that was drilled into your head when you were a small child. It certainly was drilled into mine at that age. And you really can't be responsible when you are a kid for what adults put into your head."

So, WND: Any Christians "flying planes into a building" lately?

The 2005 WND article from which that quote was taken actually broadened it somewhat, claiming Maher targeted "Christians and others who are religious," but it also stated, "Maher explained that he was not singling out evangelicals, but was targeting all 'religious' people."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:49 AM EDT
Friday, May 25, 2007
Save the Country, Buy A Cheap Flag Pin From WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From a May 25 WorldNetDaily article:

America is under attack like never before, from terrorists abroad to moral relativists within, but WND readers are grabbing an opportunity to say it still is the last, best hope for living in freedom, making WND's new United States National Flag Lapel Pin a runaway bestseller at


The United States, now in its third century, faces the hate of international terrorists bent on imposing their lifestyle on freedom-lovers worldwide, the attacks from its own citizens who want to denigrate or destroy its Christian foundations, and an invasion by millions who have crossed its border illegally.

But WND readers are jumping at the chance to wear the faithful depiction of the America flag, a die-struck jewelry piece that tells family, friends and even strangers, of their loyalty.

Given the fact that the pin costs just $2, it's highly likely that the pin is not American-made -- something that would presumably play a factor in the "patriotism" of owning such a pin. The article does not disclose the pin's country of origin, nor does it say exactly how many pins WND is selling that would cause it to describe the pin as a "runaway bestseller."

Further, the article fails to explain how buying a flag pin from WND (or anywhere else, for that matter) is any sort of antidote for the woes it describes. After all, one can be a loyal, patriotic American and not be a fundamentalist Christian, the only kind of Christianity WND recognizes as real.

Can you say "cheap stunt to cash in on patriotism"? We knew you could.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:33 PM EDT

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