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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Kessler Misleads on FISA Vote
Topic: Newsmax

An Aug. 16 NewsMax column by Ronald Kessler claimed that "Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's greatest vulnerability in the general presidential election" is "their vote against revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)":

In voting this month against the measure, both senators opposed a continuation of the government's longstanding ability to monitor, without a warrant, calls between terrorists situated in foreign countries.

What if these two Democratic presidential candidates prevailed? If Osama bin Laden placed a call to an al-Qaida member in London to arrange a nuclear hit on Manhattan, a warrant would first have to be obtained. By the time that happened, the call would have been over.

But Kessler offers no evidence that either Clinton or Obama ever specifically opposed the government's "ability to monitor, without a warrant, calls between terrorists situated in foreign countries." In fact, as Media Matters notes, Clinton voted in favor of a version of the bill -- introduced by Democrats -- that would have reversed a reported ruling limiting the administration's ability to intercept certain foreign-to-foreign communications without a warrant. The bill Clinton voted against was a much broader bill to amend FISA to give the administration authority to intercept certain domestic-to-foreign communications without a warrant.

Further, as the New York Times reported, the bill that was passed "could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records."

Kessler adds:

Even using FISA's emergency provision, it takes at least two days to prepare the paperwork and obtain all the necessary approvals. Because a call was not intercepted in time, millions of Americans could have been killed.

"You can't go back and ask for a FISA for a conversation that's already occurring," says a counterterrorism operative. "That's the fundamental issue. When they pick up on a U.S. conversation, they can't tell these two guys who are talking: ‘Hey, hold on a minute while we go get a FISA.' A conversation is a conversation; it happens, and then it's lost."

In fact, FISA has long allowed the government to obtain warrants for wiretapped conservations up to 72 hours after the conversation has taken place.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 PM EDT
Gladnick Doesn't Think Rove Leaked Plame's Identity, Even Though He Did
Topic: NewsBusters

Call it Rove Denial Syndrome.

An Aug. 19 NewsBusters post by P.J. Gladnick, in declaring that San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford is suffering from "Rove Derangement Syndrome" for his rant against Karl Rove, in which he says, among other things, that Rove "intentionally commit[ted] treason by leaking the name of a CIA agent to reporters in an insidious attempt to silence critics of your boss' horribly failed war." Gladnick responds:

Committed treason for leaking the name of Valery [sic] Plame? Oh yeah, that must have been why Karl Rove was indicted by Patrick Fitzgerald on May 12 of last year. Or was that Richard Armitage who really did leak that name but which the left has conveniently tossed down the memory hole? 

But Rove did leak Plame's identity to reporters -- in fact, he served as confirmation of hte information for columnist Robert Novak, who first went public with the name. Rove also leaked to then-Time reporter Matthew Cooper.

This follows a long pattern of NewsBusters writers trying to shove all blame for the leak of Plame's identity onto Armitage, peddling the absurd notion that because Armitage leaked Plame's name to Robert Novak, and Novak was the first to report it ahead of the reporters to whom Rove (and Scooter Libby) leaked, Rove's and Libby's leaks somehow magically didn't happen.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:15 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 9:19 AM EDT
Cashill Smears Sestak
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's Part 2 of Jack Cashill's Clinton Derangement Syndrome series for WorldNetDaily, so the question is: How does he mislead in this episode? By smearing Curt Weldon's opponent for his House seat, Joe Sestak.

Cashill calls Sestak "a former vice admiral forced into retirement for what the U.S. Navy charitably called 'poor command climate.' " But he lets the smear stand without telling the full story. (Cashill did the same thing in a November 2006 WND column.) In fact, here's what the Delco Times -- which Cashill cites authoritatively elsewhere in his article -- reported about Sestak's military service

Retired Capt. Mark Rogers, however, thinks such criticisms come from men who weren’t as smart and didn’t like working as hard as Joe Sestak made them toil.

"He never worked anybody any harder than he worked himself," said Rogers, who was Sestak’s commander on the USS Underwood.

Sestak, Rogers said, was brilliant and went on to surpass him in rank, but they remained good friends.

"I’m a die-hard Republican," Rogers told me yesterday. "I voted for George Bush. In the military we’re not Republicans or Democrats, we’re just sailors who serve. That was what Joe was all about."

The Times also quoted critics of Sestak, but none of them "would talk about Sestak without a promise of anonymity." Brave folks, eh?

Cashill also claimed that Mary O. McCarthy, a Sestak donor, was "recently fired from the CIA after failing a polygraph on leaked classified information in regards to CIA prisons overseas." In fact, as Media Matters has detailed, McCarthy has denied that she was the source of the Washington Post's November 2006 report by reporter Dana Priest regarding the CIA's secret detention operations. Moreover, the Post has reported that "a senior intelligence official said the agency is not asserting that McCarthy was a key source of Priest's award-winning articles last year disclosing the agency's secret prisons." The CIA has acknowledged only that McCarthy was dismissed for "knowingly and willfully shar[ing] classified intelligence," and that Priest was among the journalists McCarthy allegedly contacted.

What fresh falsehoods and misleading claims will Cashill serve up in tomorrow's segment? Stay tuned... 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:38 AM EDT
Monday, August 20, 2007
WND Columnist Hearts Michael Vick, Sorta Defends Dogfighting
Topic: WorldNetDaily

There aren't many people running to the defense of Michael Vick these days following his arrest on dogfighting charges. But one who has is WorldNetDaily columnist Ilana Mercer -- who paints Vick as a misunderstood manly-man and even quasi-defends dogfighting as part of a noble tradition of "blood sport." From Mercer's Aug. 17 column:

Dog fighting, which has been outlawed in all 50 states, is certainly uncivilized and cruel (although not everything that is immoral ought to be illegal). But even more uncivilized than Vick's alleged dog fighting violations has been the zeal among media pack animals to convict him. Vick is not a thief, a murderer or a rapist. Neither has he defrauded anyone. He is a gifted athlete – and an obviously aggressive young man, who may have channeled his abundant aggression into a blood sport, as men have done throughout time.

The English relished dog fighting for centuries. Fox hunting is still a much cherished way of life in rural England, and, some argue, beneficial to conservation "and a method of pest control." The same animal-rights activists who've successfully lobbied to have dog fighters declared felons are gunning for hunters. These activists consider hunting a blood sport, too. To them, the toreo – the Spanish bullfighter – is worse than a terrorist.

Mercer goes on to claim that "Animal-rights activists share a humanity-hating agenda with environmentalists," concluding: "Human beings ought to care for and be kind to animals, but a civilized society is one that never threatens a man's liberty because of the callousness with which he has treated the livestock he owns."

Posted by Terry K. at 5:32 PM EDT
Farah Falsely Ties Heinz Kerry to Tides -- Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Maybe we can call this Kerry Derangement Syndrome.

An Aug. 20 WorldNetDaily article by Joseph Farah, reporting on a "Soros-backed media outlet" -- the IndyMedia network of websites -- that suggested that a federal nuclear-terror drill "may be a 'false flag' operation leading to the detonation of a real nuclear device to set the stage for martial law," claims that " has also received support from Teresa Heinz Kerry's Tides Foundation."

In fact, Heinz Kerry does not sit on Tides' board of directors, so it can't really be "Teresa Heinz Kerry's Tides Foundation." As we detailed the last time Farah and WND tried to falsely portray the relationship between Heinz Kerry and Tides, foundations controlled by Heinz Kerry have donated money to Tides, but that money is earmarked for specific environmental projects in Pennsylvania. Farah offers no evidence whatsoever that any money Heinz Kerry donated to Tides sent to IndyMedia.

This goes to show just how much of a bitter, angry, hateful man Farah is that he still feels compelled to tell lies about Heinz Kerry three years after her husband lost the race for the presidency.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:47 PM EDT
Cashill Misleads on CREW
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jack Cashill's four-part Clinton Derangement Syndrome special at WorldNetDaily has kicked off, and as we predicted, he's not disappointing, already tossing out a few misleading claims.

Cashill's main point is that, unlike the "vast right-wing conspiracy" Hillary Clinton complained about (which Cashill called "self-parodying"), the Clinton Conspiracy is real:

I hesitate to call this a "left wing" conspiracy as there is no real ideology involved. Indeed, some on the hard left have applauded the work [ex-Rep. Curt] Weldon has done in tracking the steps and missteps that led to Sept. 11.

Properly understood, the Clinton communication stream has resulted from a collaboration, not of ideologues, but of well-placed Democratic activists whose motives involve some combination of fear, greed, spite, wishful thinking and lust for power.

These collaborators did not have to rely on Arkansas state troopers to leak private information. They had – and have – allies working within the FBI, the CIA and the Justice Department.

They have not depended on the generosity of one millionaire for support, like a Richard Mellon Scaife, but rather on an influential cluster of unscrupulous plutocrats called the Democratic Alliance.

Note that Scaife is merely called a "millionaire," while liberal financiers get disparagingly tagged as "unscrupulous plutocrats." Of course, Cashill is wrong; Scaife was never the only funder of conservative causes. Cashill conveniently overlooks family foundations such as Koch, Bradley and Olin that have pumped millions into conservative causes.

Cashill goes on to haul out its favorite conservative bogeyman: "For coordination, they have been able to count on an aggressive and effective George Soros-funded 'watchdog' group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW."

Cashill misleads here, too. As we've pointed out, CREW did not receive Soros money until after scandal-tarred Rep. Bob Ney made the accusation, as CREW's Melanie Morgan said, "We now get money from The Open Society Institute, and it is probably thanks to Bob Ney."

Cashill then compares CREW to Judicial Watch, asserting that "CREW was to function as something of a counterweight to Judicial Watch, the D.C.-based conservative watchdog group" but "has emerged as something of a dirty tricks operation for a truly worrisome cabal known as the Democratic Alliance." Cashill, at this point, offers no evidence that CREW is involved in "dirty tricks" or how its operation differs from the way Judicial Watch attack the Clinton administration.

Cashill also ignores a more significant contrast between CREW and Judicial Watch. As we've noted, as of 2006, CREW has received a mere $100,000 from a Soros-backed group. Meanwhile, from 1997 to 2002, Scaife foundations gave more than $7 million to Judicial Watch.

Cashill does seem to be backing away, though, from his suggestion that the Clintons are to blame for Mark Foley's downfall, saying that "Foley deserved his fate" but questioning "the highly suspect timing of his outing, just six weeks before the critical 2006 elections."

However, Cashill is more than eager to absolve Weldon of allegations that he traded his political influence for lucrative lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter: "Regardless of any charges that may be filed against him, Weldon committed only one unforgivable crime: Investigating the intelligence failures of the Clinton era." 

Should be a fun next few days as Cashill continues on his conspiratorial bent.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:26 AM EDT
An Inconveniently Biased Column
Topic: Accuracy in Media

An Aug. 15 Accuracy in Media column by Matt Hadro recycles Sen. James Inhofe's attack on Al Gore -- his demand that Gore take a pledge to "consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household." Hadro adds: " Also, today, August 15, 2007, marks the 147th day that Gore has failed to embrace the challenge and sign Senator Inhofe’s pledge. Quite an 'inconvenient' truth for the face of the global warming activists."

Hadro neglects to mention that Gore has made significant efforts in offsetting the carbon footprint of his energy usage by purchasing "green energy" at a higher price that regular electricity and installing solar panels at his house. Nor does Hadro mention that Inhofe didn't give Gore a chance to answer his challenge during Senate testimony, repeatedly interrupting Gore's response.

Hadro also wrote:

A study by the Senate EPW Committee reveals that Gore, as the leader of the nationwide crusade against man-made global warming, consumes 191,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year in his Tennessee mansion. The average American household consumes a total of 11,256 kilowatt-hours per year. That’s 12 times less electricity. 

Actually, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee doesn't do studies like that. The number Hadro is referring to is the number reported by the AP after the Tennessee Center for Policy Research promoted a different, higher (not to mention unsubstantiated) amount. Hadro likely lifted his claim from the committee's minority spokesperson, serial misleader Marc Morano.

According to his column, Hadro "is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia." Are such sloppy, biased claims what AIM and AIA think is "journalism" that should be taught to students?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:12 AM EDT
Sunday, August 19, 2007
NewsMax Defends Wash. Post Reporter's Attacks on Edwards
Topic: Newsmax

The Aug. 12 edition of NewsMax's "Insider Report" does something unusual for the ConWeb: it comes to the defense of a reporter in the dreaded "liberal media." That's because the reporter has done some of NewsMax's work for it through misleading reporting on John Edwards.

The "Insider Report" item focuses on an Aug. 4 Alternet column (which NewsMax erroneously calls "") by Alexander Zaitchik attacking Washington Post reporter John Solomon's articles on Edward, in particular Edwards' hedge fund work, real estate dealings and the infamous $400 haircut. NewsMax states:

Zaitchik goes on to cite numerous Solomon stories dealing with Edwards, all accurate and well-researched and all legitimate criticisms of some of John Edward's activities such as his less than savory role in his consulting work in 2005 and 2006 for a hedge fund, his sale of his Georgetown home for $5.2 million or $1.4 million more than he paid for it in 2002.

"Accurate and well-researched"? Not exactly. As Media Matters points out, Solomon's article on the sale of Edwards' house suggests without evidence that the sale was somehow shady without noting that the profit Edwards made on the house was not out of line with the state of the real estate market and the improvements Edwards made to the house while he owned it. In an online discussion about the article, Solomon went even further, baselessly suggesting that Edwards broke campaign finance law in the the sale of the house.

And even Post ombudsman Deborah Howell criticized the tone of Solomon's reporting on Edwards' work for a hedge fund for implying "that consulting for a hedge fund, whose offshore tax havens he has decried, is incompatible with caring about the less fortunate." 

Beware when NewsMax praises your work -- that means you're adhering to the conservatives' agenda. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:13 AM EDT
NewsBusters Complains That Coulter Is Misquoted -- Not That She Misquoted Maher
Topic: NewsBusters

The Media Research Center just can't stop running to the defense of poor, helpless Ann Coulter.

An Aug. 18 NewsBusters post by Michael M. Bates complained that ABC News reported "less than the whole story" by reporting an "incomplete" version of what Ann Coulter said in June about John Edwards. But in pointing out that Coulter's remark that "If I'm gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot" played off remarks Bill Maher made about Dick Cheney, Bates doesn't mention that Coulter misquoted Maher.

As we've pointed out, Maher did not say that "he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack," as Coulter claimed. Rather, he said: "I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow. ... I'm just saying that if he did die -- other people -- more people would live."

If Bates is going to accuse one party of misquoting another, shouldn't he note all relevant misquotes? 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 AM EDT
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Foley Scandal Was Clinton's Fault?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Aug. 18 WorldNetDaily article announcied an upcoming four-part series by Jack Cashill purporting to detail "the Clinton-directed targeting and defeat of former Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., the one member of Congress who likely did more to expose Clinton administration culpability in 9-11 than any other." It also states the following:

Cashill points out that the Clintons and their allies have willing media to help in their efforts:

"These same media that functioned – and still do – as a firewall in the service of the Clintons serve now as sappers in the undermining of their enemies.

"With a willing media to trumpet useful messages, this collaboration has effectively ended any number of Republican careers, most recently those of White House staffer Scooter Libby and Reps. Curt Weldon, Tom DeLay and Mark Foley."

It's the Clintons' fault that Foley was trolling for male congressional pages? We can't wait to hear that explanation -- plus the one that holds the Clintons responsible for Scooter Libby's lying before a grand jury and obstructing an investigation, for which a jury agreed that there was enough evidence to convict.

As we've noted, Cashill has tried to make the case for a Clinton conspiracy against Weldon before in his WND column.

Cashill's most notable journalistic moment, you will recall, was a seven-part WND series in which he declared that James Kopp was innocent of killing a doctor who provided abortions -- a few months before Kopp pleaded guilty to the crime. Cashill also tried to suggest that convicted and admitted Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph was the victim of an FBI conspiracy to attack anti-abortion protesters.

So it's probably safe to take Cashill's overarching Clinton conspiracies with a grain of salt -- though we can't wait to hear how the Clintons forced Foley to chase after young boys.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:44 AM EDT
Friday, August 17, 2007
Farah Contradicts Himself, Misrepresents Obama
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah just can't help but be biased, it appears.

Farah's Aug. 17 WorldNetDaily column twists Barack Obama's words to claim that Obama said that the U.S. is deliberately bombing civilians in Iraq. Farah, at one point, actually sort of gets the facts right: that Obama "was, in fact, making the point that more U.S. ground troops are needed to avoid the practice of deliberately targeting villages from the air."

Then, two paragraphs later, Farah twists the words again, referring to "Obama's assertion that the U.S. was deliberately 'air-raiding villages' with the intent of killing civilians." Obama, of course, said no such thing -- as Farah himself conceded just two paragraphs earlier.

Farah then goes on to attack the Associated Press for doing a "fact-check" article that vindicates Obama, as if telling facts that support a Democrat is somehow forbidden in Farah's brand of "journalism":

What was more shocking to me as a newsman of 30 years experience was the quick excuse-making and rationalizations offered by the world's largest news-gathering agency, the one that feeds information to thousands of newspapers, websites, radio stations and, thus, has more influence than the New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS combined.

Meanwhile, we're pretty shocked (though not surprised) that someone who repeatedly touts having "30 years experience" in journalism (he's apparently counting his biased advocacy work at WND and the Western Journalism Center as "journalism") is making claims he himself has debunked in the very same column.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:05 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 17, 2007 1:05 PM EDT
Hostetter Repeats Bogus Information Stats
Topic: Newsmax

It's Bogus Information Week on the ConWeb, and Marc Morano's bogus stats aren't the only ones being peddled.

Following in Mychal Massie's footsteps, E. Ralph Hostetter repeated a set of false stats on illegal immigration. From Hostetter's Aug. 15 NewsMax column:

It has been widely reported and disputed by some that at least 25 violent crimes per day, including murder, negligent homicide, and rape (especially of children) are being committed by illegal aliens.

Hostetter, of course, makes no effort to dig further into why this is "disputed by some." If he had, he would know that there is some bogus math behind that number, which would have stopped normal people from repeating it no matter how "widely reported" it is.

But not Hostetter. Like Morano's acolytes (and Massie), the number's adherence to his agenda -- not its accuracy -- is all that matters.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:02 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 17, 2007 1:08 PM EDT
Thursday, August 16, 2007
NewsBusters Still Silent on Fox News' Wikipedia Hijinks
Topic: NewsBusters

An Aug. 16 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan is the third NewsBusters post in recent days to reference a website that traces who is editing entries on Wikipedia. Like "Mithridate Ombud" and Matthew Sheffield before him (we we've noted), Balan fails to mention that numerous Wikipedia edits came from the IP address of Fox News (as we've noted).

Balan does, however, take care to point out that CNN's Kiran Chetry is "an alumna of Fox News Channel’s 'Fox & Friends Weekend.'" The man clearly has his priorities straight.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:52 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2007 7:53 PM EDT
Baker Again Cites Morano's Bogus Statistics
Topic: Media Research Center

As he did on Aug. 8, the Media Research Center's Brent Baker again responded to a news report that dares tro be critical of global warming deniers by citing false and unsupported statistics by Marc Morano. In an Aug. 16 NewsBusters post and CyberAlert item, Baker writes in response to an NBC report:

Citing the far-left Union of Concerned Scientists, [NBC reporter Anne Thompson] highlighted their claim that “ExxonMobil gave almost $16 million over seven years to denier groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute.” But as Marc Morano, of the minority staff of the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works, disclosed in a posting, “proponents of man-made global warming have been funded to the tune of $50 BILLION in the last decade or so,” not even counting the impact of one-sided media reporting, “while skeptics have received a paltry $19 MILLION.” 

Baker overlooks the absurdity of the numbers he cites. If Baker accepts Thompson's claim that "ExxonMobil gave almost $16 million over seven years to denier groups" -- a number he makes no effort to correct -- that would mean that all other "denier group" activity totals a mere $3 million, an assertion that's absurd on its face.

Indeed, as we've detailed, Morano's $19 million is a single statistic, funding by ExxonMobil to "denier groups," and Morano makes no attempt to include all money spent by such groups. Further, there is no substantiation of the $50 billion figure, and he appears to be blindly throwing in tangental issues such as alternative-fuel development in his accounting of funding for "proponents of man-made global warming" to artificially inflate the figure.

Is Baker (not to mention the other conservatives who have swallowed these numbers) so desperate to attack global warming that they will peddle any number that discredits it, no matter how clearly absurd?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:26 AM EDT
New Article: Temper-Tantrum Journalism
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily leads a short-lived, passive-aggressive protest against the White House for alleged disrespect of Les Kinsolving. But does Kinsolving's brand of journalism really deserve respect? Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:16 AM EDT

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