In the middle of a July 23 WorldNetDaily rant against "homosexual propaganda" in the movies as exemplified by the new film "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder (no, not that one; this one's the editor of Baehr's Movieguide website) be felt the need to attack Barack Obama:
This week, the leading "progressive" candidate in the Democratic Party, Barack Obama, reiterated his support for teaching sex education to children in kindergarten. Since Obama, like the filmmakers behind "Chuck and Larry," also supports same-sex marriage, we assume this means that he wants to teach homosexuality to children as young as five.
In fact -- if Baehr and Snyder had bothered to look up what Obama actually said, rather than "assume" what he meant -- Obama emphasized that sex ed for kindergarteners would be "age appropriate" and be focused on inappropriate touching by strangers as a way to protect children from sexual predators (as we've previously pointed out).
Apparently, Baehr was too busy denouncing homosexuality as an "evil sin" to do any actual research for his column.
Graham Misleads on Blogger Who Misleads Topic: NewsBusters
A July 23 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham attacks the Washington Post for alelgedly calling an anti-immigrant blogger in Virginia a "mouse-pushing crackpot" in a profile of the man -- even though he admits that the article points out "that he can’t be dismissed as a crackpot if he’s actually shaping public policy" in the county where he lives.
But even that misstates what the Post article said: that the blogger, Greg Letiecq, "is not some mouse-pushing crackpot with a keyboard and an Internet connection. In the past 18 months, Letiecq has leveraged his blog to help elect allies, kill off opponents' campaigns and shape local public policy. Peers call his site the most influential local blog in Virginia." Yes, the article specifically said that Letiecq "is not some mouse-pushing crackpot."
Graham then goes on to defend Letiecq from the accusation that he claimed, in the Post's words, that "Illegal immigrant ice cream vendors might be spreading leprosy in Manassas" and that Letiecq's blog "often mak[e] up in passion what it lacks in proof." Graham wrote: "On the weird-sounding item on leprosy in your ice cream, the actual blog item doesn’t sound as weird as Miroff's freak-show carnival barking would suggest. "
In fact, the actual blog item -- headlined "You Want Leprosy With That?" and attacking food cart vendors as disease-ridden illegals -- is based on a recitation of claims made in a 2005 WorldNetDaily article taken about a Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons report by Madeleine Cosman attacking illegal immigrants. As we've reported, the JAPS is little more than a conservative publication gussied up with a medical spin, published by the equally conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
Further, Letiecq unquestioningly repeats Cosman's claim that "in the past three years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy" -- a claim that has been proven false. Letiecq also links to a 2004 Rutherford Institute column by John Whitehead making the same claim.
So, Graham doesn't think it's "weird" to repeat false claims to support inflammatory accusations? Sheesh.
At Last: CNS Applies 'Filibuster' to GOP Topic: CNSNews.com
A July 20 CNSNews.com article by Nathan Burchfiel finally breaks his previous aversion to the word and uses the term "filibuster" to describe the GOP's actions on a bill to mandate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Good thing, too, since a July 23 CNS article once again, as it has before, mentioned the "filibustering" of some Bush judicial nominees.
In a July 17 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard claimed to be concerned that Bill O'Reilly might be unfairly targeting Daily Kos as "one of the worst examples of hatred America has to offer" in O'Reilly's efforts to get JetBlue to disassociate itself from Daily Kos' annual convention by citing selected website entries:
Were these statements made by DKos diarists, or in the comments sections? There is indeed a difference that shouldn’t be ignored, or we are acting exactly like that which offends us.
If, on the other hand, such statements were representative of management’s views, O’Reilly should have made a stronger case to prove that. For instance, were the offensive comments made by Moulitsas or any of the major contributors? On the days the vitriol he cited occurred, what percentage of the comments did this hate-speech represent?
What should always be kept in mind concerning message boards at political websites is that a percentage of the commentary is likely going to be offensive to management and contributors. Without stepping on any toes, there are many comments made at NB message boards that I completely disagree with, and don’t condone in any way. I imagine the same happens at O’Reilly’s website, too.
As such, in the Internet Era, I think individuals and corporations must be careful in attaching too much relevance to what occurs at message boards unless it can be demonstrated that management either shares or condones such views.
But Sheppard made no effort to investigate O'Reilly's claims to see if, in fact, they were by diarists or commenters. In fact, as Media Matters pointed out, all of the examples O'Reilly cited did indeed come from commenters, not diarists.
In a July 20 post, Sheppard praises O'Reilly for being "[d]epending on which side you believe ... extremely or moderately successful" in getting JetBlue to disassociate itself from Daily Kos. Nowhere does Sheppard mention that O'Reilly pulled his inflammatory Daily Kos statements from commenters, not diarists -- a behavior Sheppard purported to deplore just three days earlier. Instead, Sheppard joins in the attacking of Daily Kos:
However, it seems incontrovertible at this point that this is clearly a Democrat campaign website now. They do fundraisers, invite candidates to write diaries, hold conventions with said candidates, etc.
As such, Daily Kos clearly walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck. With that in mind, it's time for Markos to grow up a little bit, and recognize that if he wants to play with the big boys, he's going to have to play by big boy rules.
Sheppard shouldn't have even bothered to write that July 17 post if he was going to immediately ignore the standards he set for himself in it.
David Limbaugh's July 20 column -- printed at WorldNetDaily and NewsMax -- was a disingenous attack on Chris Matthews.
Limbaugh started off by claiming that Matthews' appearance on "The Tonight Show" should be required viewing for "[t]hose who deny the overwhelming liberal bias of the mainstream media." Limbaugh conveniently forgets thatMatthews was a reliable basher of President Clinton. Limbaugh himself once praised Matthews as "usually fair to Republicans and intellectually honest."
Limbaugh then noted that Jay Leno stated that "God told him [Bush] that we should fight this war," adding, "Matthews said Bush needed 'a little humility.' Even Abraham Lincoln, Matthews said, didn't claim to have God on his side in the Civil War." Limbaugh responded: "While I can't prove a negative, I am confident Bush never said that God is on our side in this war – though it wouldn't bother me if he had – or that God directed him to attack Iraq." But he never quotes Bush directly on what he has actually said on the subject, only paraphrasing that "[h]e has said he continually prays for divine guidance and reads the Bible every day."
George Bush has claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a senior Palestinian politician in an interview to be broadcast by the BBC later this month.
Mr Bush revealed the extent of his religious fervour when he met a Palestinian delegation during the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egpytian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."
Mr Bush went on: "And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it."
While the White House has denied Shaath's account, Limbaugh should have noted that Leno and Matthews have a basis for making such a claim about Bush; instead, he attacks Matthews for "distorting the truth" by "unequivocally implying that Bush has claimed to get his marching orders directly from God and that that is scary – as if he's in some kind of spiritual trance."
Limbaugh quoted Matthews as saying, "I think we gotta be damn skeptical of this crowd, because on WMD, on the connection to 9/11, on the surge … on the torture, on every step of the way we've been given misinformation to the point now, we just did a poll, a fifth of the American people believe we found weapons of mass destruction when we got there. They're still indoctrinated. … How do we get all this misinformation? From the top, unfortunately. It's a sad thing." To respond, Limbaugh goes into full disingenousness mode:
"The administration never said Iraq attacked us on 9/11. It never said there was an operational relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida, just that there was a relationship, which there was. ... If two-fifths of the American people believe Iraq attacked us on 9/11, it isn't Bush's fault, because he never said that." Limbaugh narrowly defines his response, focusing only on Bush. In fact, Vice President Dick Cheney has tried to tie Iraq to al-Queda and 9/11.
"Only grassy-knoll nutcakes and anti-military types believe the 'brass' authorized systematic abuse of enemy combatant detainees." Limbaugh doesn't mention a 2002 memo by Justice Department lawyer John Yoo that pushed previous limits on "interrogation techniques" by narrowly defining what was torture. The Justice Department's advocacy of ways to seek ways to make such so-called "enhanced interrogation" permissible can very well be seen as coming from the "brass."
"And if one-fifth of the people believe we found new WMD stockpiles (we clearly did find old WMD), it isn't because Bush said so. Yet Matthews says this 'misinformation' came from 'the top,' meaning Bush. But he knows that Bush has never said we've found WMD there. Never. He's said quite the opposite. This one isn't even arguable." Limbaugh again draws his question narrowly, saying that because Bush never said, nobody said it. In fact, there's an important related issue: numerouswarsupporters -- and, thus, Bush supporters, have claimed that Saddam had WMD and that they were moved to Syria just before the war. While the Bush administration has denied this claim, shouldn't Limbaugh be taking his fellow conservatives to task for forwarding such misinformation that reflects badly on the Bush administration?
Matthews actually has a point, and rather than acknowledging that, Limbaugh merely attacked him by not telling his own readers the full truth.
Media Mythbusters Making Its Own Myths Topic: Washington Examiner
A new website has launched, Media Mythbusters -- promoted in a July 19 Washington Examiner column by Lorie Byrd -- with the goal of purporting to "debunk myths that take hold as a result of inaccurate or irresponsible media reports." But the website and the folks behind it are apparently intent on building a few myths of their own.
The first myth involves the partisan nature of the website. Ideologies are kept under wraps and most language is neutral, but site leader Byrd of the Wizbang blog -- as well as the rest of the declared contributors -- are all conservatives, and their target is the media they deride as liberal. Don't look for any myths promulgated by, say, Fox News here. Don't expect a section on Amir Taheri, who used conservative-leaning papers (aided by conservative blogs like NewsBusters) to spread the false claim that the Iranian parliament passed a law that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear colored badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.
Indeed, the list of subjects covered (listed on the blog) -- Rathergate, Stephen Glass, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- reads like a who's who of conservative attacks on the "liberal" media. And even then, there's a lot more myth-making than truth happening. Indeed, many of the entries appear to be copied-and-pasted out of conservative blogs.
For instance, Byrd claimed in her Examiner column that the "Sunni burning six" story -- in which the Associated Press reported that several Iraq Sunnis were burned alive, a story corroborated by an Iraqi police captain named Jamil Hussein -- "was retracted, and that 'Capt. Jamil Hussein' was a pseudonym." But nowhere in Media Mythbusters' Jamil Hussein section does it unequivocally state that the AP retracted the story.
Further, in the Jamil Hussein section is a copy of a blog entry by Michelle Malkin asserting that because parts of four mosques were still standing, they were not "destroyed" as the AP reported; nowhere does the entry note that at least one of those mosques had its dome blown off -- which arguably fits the description of "destroyed."
The site is in a wiki format and presumably subject to change. We have doubts about how much change will actually occur, though, or whether any balance will be brought to the site. While the site's front page states, "Many of the Media Mythbusters contributors are members of the New Media with experience debunking and/or reporting on questionable reporting from major media outlets," it then adds, "Only approved contributors will be allowed to post at the Media Mythbusters site" -- something of a departure from a true wiki, which has fewer restrictions on contributors.
So, in the future, look for Media Mythbusters to become a cudgel to bash the "mainstream" (read: "liberal") media -- and for ConWebWatch never to become an "approved contributor," despite our own historyofbustingmediamyths.
A July 20 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones states that former CNS editor-in-chief David Thibault has died of cancer. Our condolences go to his family and friends.
Jones writes of Thibault: "Under his leadership, the fledgling Cybercast News Service thrived and grew into a real journalistic powerhouse in the 'new media.'" At the risk of speaking ill of the dead, we note that Thibault was responsible for a few lowlights as well:
Thibault vociferously defended CNS' efforts to smear Democratic strategist Paul Begala, falsely claiming that Begala had said that Republicans are trying to kill him and his family.
Thibault similarly praised CNS' attacks on Rep. John Murtha, promoting smears advanced by defeated political opponents and other disgruntled and dead folks. Thibault even attempted to argue that CNS wasn't a conservative news organization.
Thibault insisted that Jeff Gannon -- the former Talon News employee discovered to be a conservative shill who moonlighted in the sex trade -- was no conservative because he was a "homosexual hooker" and that the only reason Gannon was singled out was that he "would have betrayed the liberal cause with conservative-slanted writing."
Lest you think this is too harsh, we remind you that upon Peter Jennings' death in 2005, the first response of the Media Research Center was to remind its readers that "[t]he MRC's archive is packed with documentation of liberal bias from Peter Jennings."
Bates Falsely Attacks Sun-Times Columnist Over Obama Topic: NewsBusters
A July 20 NewsBusters post by Michael M. Bates offers a misleading defense of Mitt Romney's bashing of Barack Obama's support of age-appropriate sex education by misleadingly attacking a Chicago Sun-Times column and hiding details about Obama's plan.
Bates referred to the July 20 Sun-Times column by Lynn Sweet, which asserted that Romney "is twisting benign comments Obama made about sex education." Bates wrote: "Ms Sweet notes that Obama emphasized that sex education needs to be "age appropriate." Left unstated is what exactly that means." Bates later asked: "What about parents who don't want schools teaching these concepts? How easy would it be for them to opt out and would their children be stigmatized if they did?"
In fact, Sweet did explain what "age appropriate" sex education is: "Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Obama backs teaching youngsters about inappropriate touching by strangers. And Obama would let parents opt out of a sex education course."
Bates concludes: "Ms Sweet is wrong about how benign all this is." And Bates is wrong in failing to report all the facts in his attack on Sweet and Obama.
Aaron Klein Bias Watch (Update) Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has been keeping up his right-wing biases of late:
-- A July 19 article repeats an attack on Israeli President Shimon Peres by the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, but failed to note that the group's right-wing leanings. Klein reported that the Rabbinical Congress for Peace asked for Peres to "repent" for calling on the Jewish state to evacuate strategic territory the they fear will be used by terrorists to attack Israel. Klein has offered no evidence that the congress ever asked Peres' predecessor, conservative Likud party member Moshe Katsav, to "repent" for his actions in a sex and rape scandal -- but as we've documented, Klein has all but refused to report on Katsav even as he repeatedly attacks Peres.
-- We've previously detailed how Klein is so desperate to attack Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he did so from the left, painting him as a tool of Israeli business interests. A July 19 article serves up another take on that, asserting that "Nineteen families control one-third of Israel's economy, including much of the Jewish state's news media" and -- even more offensive to Klein -- "support major leftist Israeli organizations" and give "campaign contributions to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and foundations associated with newly installed Israeli President Shimon Peres."
This comports with his complete abandonment of his onetime pledge to "report in an unbiased manner." Klein threw off those shackles of balance once and for all in a July 11 screed in which he ranted against "leftist" Israelis. The column was headlined "The Israeli left unmasked," but all that was really unmasked was Klein's identity as a biased, partisan journalist who can't be trusted to tell the full truth (as if we didn't alreadyknowthat).
UPDATE: Klein also made an appearance on al-Jazeera, which WND links to but does not host (here and here). WND offers no explanation as to why one of its correspondents would appear on a channel that its founder and owner has called a "quasi-news, quasi-propaganda news service that isn't terribly useful" that has "connections with Islamist terrorists around the globe."
A July 19 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard asks: "A federal judge has just dismissed Valerie Plame Wilson's lawsuit against members of the Bush administration. Will this be the lead story of this evening's newscasts?"
Well, probably not, since -- as Sheppard pointed out -- the lawsuit was dismissed on procedural issues, not on the merits of the case. The better question is: How will NewsBusters cover the dismissal?
If early posts are any indication, it appears relevant issues will be ignored. Missing from Sheppard's excerpt of the article he linked to the fact that the judge who dismissed the suit stated that he did not rule on the merits of the case, and Plame's lawsuit "pose[s] important questions relating to the propriety of actions undertaken by our highest government officials."
Ken Shepherd, meanwhile, repeated another blogger's false claim that "the offending party, Richard Armitage, wasn't even involved in the suit" -- followed quickly by an update noting that Armitage was indeed a defendant. Shepherd also obsseses over "initial reports" from the Associated Press that omitted information he considered important, thus showing his cluelessness over how the AP and other wire services operate in regard to breaking news -- that is, the focus in initial reports is on getting the basic information itself out first, then fleshing out the story in later updates.
(Shepherd's mention of Armitage is a remnant of another obsession of his -- the false, absurd belief that because that because Armitage leaked Plame's name to Robert Novak, and Novak was the first to report it ahead of the reporters to whom Libby leaked, that Libby's leak somehow magically didn't happen.)
And the headline of Mark Finkelstein's post says all you need to know about it: "NY Times Headline on Plame Lawsuit Dismissal Doesn't Mention Her Name!"
Missing from all of these posts, though, was the revelation that the judge, John D. Bates, is a Bush appointee who has previously ruled in favor of Vice President Dick Cheney. Why should NewsBusters have noted this? Because its writers were, as we've documented, quite upset when news outlets didn't state that two judges who ruled against the Bush administration's "policy of holding a sleeper cell suspect at a military brig without redress in civilian courts" were Clinton appointees. If the judge's appointment history was relevant then, why is it suddenly irrelevant now?
UPDATE: Sometime overnight, the exclamation point was eliminated from Finkelstein's headline.
The Procedural Maneuver That Dare Not Speak Its Name Topic: CNSNews.com
Nathan Burchfiel's aversion to the word "filibuster" as it applies to Senate Republicans' blocking of attempts to set a withdrawal date for U.S. troops from Iraq continues in a July 19 article in which he again mentioned the Republicans' "procedural maneuver that would have required a 60-vote majority to end debate," but failed to note that the "procedural maneuver" is better known as a filibuster.
Indeed, when Democratic senators used the same "procedural maneuver" to block votes on Republican judicial nominees they didn't like, CNS was not shy about calling that a filibuster:
An Oct. 31, 2005, article described Judicial Watch's "lawsuit against the U.S. Senate over the use of judicial filibusters," further stating: "The Democrats used the threat of a filibuster -- unlimited debate that can only be stopped by a vote of 60 senators -- to convince the Senate's Republican leadership not to call for votes on the challenged nominees."
A June 24, 2003, article noted "the Democrats' strategy of filibustering judicial nominees they do not have enough votes to defeat."
A Feb. 5, 2003, article pondered whether Democrats "will launch a partisan filibuster against of those [judicial] nominees."
A Feb. 19, 2004, article stated that "a majority of voters" in a poll "rejected Senate Democrats' filibuster strategy against President Bush's judicial nominees."
See? CNS does know what "filibuster" means. Why won't it apply the word to Republicans?
AIM Ignores Questions About Alger Hiss Topic: Accuracy in Media
A July 19 Accuracy in Media "AIM Report" by Wes Vernon attacks those who defend accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss. Among the evidence Vernon cites as proof Hiss was a Soviet spy is taken from Herb Romerstein's book on the declassified Soviet cables from World War II, known as the Venona documents:
In a March 30, 1945 message (decrypted in August of 1969) the Washington D.C. Residentua reported to Moscow headquarters on a meeting between "illegal" Resident Akhmerov and an agent for military intelligence called "Ales." In reading the message, "one sees clearly that 'Ales' was Alger Hiss."
Summing it up to AIM, Romerstein puts it this way: "When you read the Venona documents, you sort it out that he [Hiss] was a longtime agent of [Soviet] military intelligence, which is precisely what Chambers said. And [Hiss] says he received a medal from Vyshinski when he was in Moscow right after the Yalta conference, and that he went on the American plane from Yalta to Moscow. And there [was] only a handful of people on that plane. And none of the others could possibly be Ales, including the man who was Secretary of State [Edward Stettinius]. And so it's just ridiculous that it could be anybody but [Hiss]."
Vernon does not acknowledge that doubt has been raised about whether Ales was Hiss. In particular, a recent American Scholar article by Kai Bird and Svetlana Chervonnaya that posits that Henry Wilder Foote, then-assistant to secretary of state Edward Stettinius, was Ales.
The whole Alger Hiss/Whitaker Chambers thing has been a minor obsession at AIM this week. A July 16 article by Cliff Kincaid features the opening of a library of Chambers' papers. While Kincaid cites Romerstein's book as proof that "decoded Soviet messages identified Hiss as working for Soviet military intelligence," he doesn't mention Ales specifically or that there is doubt about the ID of Hiss as Ales, as forwarded in Romerstein's book.
A July 18 NewsMax article by Stuart Stogel is headlined: "Third World Socialists Find Home at Trump World Tower." But the ambassadors Stogel names as living in the building next to the United Nations hail from ... China, India, Romania and -- yes -- Iraq.
Actually, the article itself doesn't make that claim; some lazy headline writer plucked the phrase out Stogel's first paragraph: "Donald Trump represents unbridled capitalism, and his excesses in wealth and flash would make any socialist from a Third World nation flinch." Stogel describes the residents as "officials from an eclectic group of nations."
NewsMax's headline writers have a strange definition of what "third world socialists" are. And if Iraq is a seething den of "third world socialists," why is the U.S. helping them?
Gore Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard's case of Gore Derangement Syndrome is starting to spread through the rest of NewsBusters.
A July 18 NewsBusters post by Pam Meister repeats a claim that the Chilean sea bass served at the wedding of Al Gore's daughter is a threatened species, calling it "yet another addition to the annals of the 'do as I say crowd.'" In fact, Chilean sea bass can be harvested sustainably to the extent that those eco-freaks at Whole Foods Market sell it.
Beating up Al Gore over fish served at a wedding? These folks are desperate.
In a July 18 CNSNews.com article on Republican efforts to block efforts in the Senate to set a date for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Nathan Burchfiel wrote that "Republicans used a procedural maneuver available to the minority party to requare a 60-vote majority to move the bill forward."
Um, dude, it's called a "filibuster." Why use a dozen words when one will do? Brevity is a virtue in journalism, remember?
Interestingly, the word "filibuster" appears nowhere in Burchfiel's article (nor in a companion piece in which he similarly references the mysterious provision that "allow[s] the minority party to require a 60-vote majority on controversial issues"). This comports with other members of the media who refuse to use the term to describe the Republicans' actions, even though it accurately describes what they're doing.