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Sunday, September 16, 2007
Sheppard: Warbloggers Are 'Extreme Right'
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 16 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard praised the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz for calling it "a step forward" that President would meet with conservative pro-war bloggers even though, as Sheppard wrote, "it seemed almost a metaphysical certitude the President would be lambasted for catering to the extreme right."

Is Sheppard really calling warbloggers "extreme right"? By applying Sheppard's own logic -- as demonstrated by a Sept. 15 post in which he declared that Keith Olbermann's questioning of why John Edwards ran an ad immediately after President Bush's address on Iraq, adding, "I don't think I'm saying anything unknown to the audience, I don't think he would have gotten a hard time from this particular network," as an admission that MSNBC is liberally biased -- the answer is yes.

Sheppard also ignored that Kurtz's praise of conservatives isn't as surprising as he depicted: last week, he declared that Fox News is "entitled" to "pose[] as a news organization and puts out dangerous misinformation [and] is a cheerleader for the Bush administration, that it is misinforming our society." 

Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 PM EDT
WND Still Pushing Folger's Less-Than-Factual Anti-Gay 'Facts'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily is still promoting Janet Folger's not-so-factual "facts" about "hate crimes" laws being used to silence anti-gay protesters.

In a Sept. 12 article, Bob Unruh -- as he has done in the past -- cited Folger's laundry list of purported descriptions of "arresting people for stating their religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong" as "the facts." But as we've detailed, Folger and Unruh leave out the full context of the incidents. There's another incident on the list we seem not to have covered:

Madison, Wis. David Ott, a former homosexual, was arrested for a "hate crime" for sharing his testimony with a homosexual at a gas station. He faced a $10,000 fine and one year behind bars. Seven thousand dollars in legal fees later, [he] was ordered to attend re-education classes at the University of Wisconsin conducted by a lesbian. 

Folger and Unruh don't state that the incident is not a recent one; it dates to 1997. And as the court's summary of the case shows, Ott was not "arrested for a 'hate crime'"; he was charged with disorderly conduct with a "hate crime" modifier -- not the same thing. (h/t Snopes comment thread.)

Ott's case has apparently been a anti-gay rallying point for some time. From the June 28, 1999, issue of of the Moonie-run conservative Insight magazine:

Meet David Ott, a former homosexual who approached a practicing homosexual and engaged in conversation. David, holding his toddler at the time, was making no threats but merely disagreeing. A few months later he got a knock on the door and a court summons. He was charged and convicted of a "hate crime" and sentenced to a reeducation class led by a lesbian whose opening premise was, "Homosexuality is normal." It cost Ott more than $7,000 in legal fees to fight the alleged "hate crime" of disagreeing. Seven thousand dollars for disagreeing? So much for freedom of speech. 

There is no easily available independent information about the Ott incident, but we can assume by their track record that Folger and Unruh are misrepresenting what happened and leaving out important information.

This information has been added to our article on Folger. 

Posted by Terry K. at 2:06 PM EDT
Examiner's Scarborough Attacks New CIA Official
Topic: Washington Examiner

In a Sept. 14 Washington Examiner article, national security reporter (and former Washington Times writer) Rowan Scarborough disparagingly portrays new CIA clandestine service head Michael J. Sulick.

Scarborough's attack comes in a defense of former CIA director Porter Goss, calling Sulick "a CIA retiree who left Langley in 2004 to protest reforms launched" by Goss; the article's headline reads, "Spy who left CIA in huff returns as head of clandestine service." Scarborough goes on to describe the "huff" incident this way:

In an incident that symbolized Goss' rocky tenure at CIA, Sulick quit in November 2004 as associate deputy director of operations (now the clandestine service) rather than except a transfer to New York.

Goss and his team of ex-congressional aides were trying to transform the clandestine service into a more productive branch and decided to replace Sulick with their own appointee. Sulick called Goss' chief of staff a "Hill puke," tossed a memo at the aide and stalked out of the room. 

Scarborough offers no attribution for this version of events -- unusual since it is not common knowledge or necessarily the undisputed depiction of what happened. The "Hill puke" statement has also been reported by Time and the Weekly Standard; both attributed the claim to anonymous sources, all the more reason for Scarborough to state where his version of events is coming from.

Further, Scarborough's simplistic description of the event -- leaving the impression that a hot-headed Sulick fought Goss' noble attempts to make the CIA "more productive" -- leave out details other have reported about Sulick's relationship with the CIA under Goss. Here's Time's description of things:

[Stephen] Kappes [then-clandestine service chief] and his deputy, Sulick, complained in a meeting with Goss and Patrick Murray, Goss's chief of staff, about Murray's pointed critique of a Sulick memo laying out a proposed D.O. outreach program for members of Congress. Twice in that session, Sulick tossed pieces of paper at Murray. After Goss left for another meeting, Sulick, who is in his 50s and is a Vietnam vet, told Murray, who is 40, that he wasn't going to be treated like some "f___ing Democratic Hill puke," says a CIA source. Disturbed by the episode, Murray asked Kappes a few days later to reassign Sulick. Kappes refused, and the two took their dispute to Goss, who told both men to work things out. The matter festered over a weekend, and when Kappes came to work on Monday, he told Goss he and Sulick would be resigning. Goss tried to persuade Kappes to stay on, says a CIA source, but both men quit anyway.  

Kappes has also returned to the CIA as deputy director; we're guessing that grates on Scarborough's nerves as much as Sulick's return.

Note that Scarborough in his article did not identify Murray by name, calling him only "Goss' chief of staff." Murray, the former Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, was indeed one of several of what the Washington Post called "Hill staff members" who followed Goss, a former congressman, to the CIA. The Post added that these staffer were "not well regarded by senior officials because they lack managerial and operational experience, and are believed to have treated career officers disrespectfully."

Further, Newsweek reported:

One former CIA official told NEWSWEEK that Murray leaned on him more than once to declassify information so he could use it to "embarrass the Democrats." Murray was irritated when the agency declined. He regarded much of the CIA as a nest of obstructionist bureaucrats, time-servers who had schemed to undermine the administration's policies—especially in Iraq. 

There's a lot that Scarborough left out of his article. But he's apparently in the tank for Goss and filled with animosity for career CIA employees like Sulick and Kappes. In a Human Events interview with Scarborough to promote Scarborough's new book, "Sabotage: America’s Enemies Within the CIA," Jed Babbin summarized the book as "mak[ing] the case that the CIA is a rogue agency, not answerable to the president. That they’re not following his policies or trying to support him in this war." Scarborough went on to say in the interview: "When Porter Goss took over the CIA in 2004, really trying to reform it, what happened? He died by a million leaks. It was a cut every day, until Porter Goss by 2006 actually was forced out."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:58 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 16, 2007 1:11 PM EDT
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Ruddy Dares to Praise Clinton At NewsMax
Topic: Newsmax

We've previously noted that NewsMax's Christopher Ruddy has said surprisingly nice things about the Clintons -- but in other publications, not at NewsMax. He's finally brought some of that praise to his own website.

In a Sept. 14 column, Ruddy says nice things about Bill Clinton's new book, "Giving":

Clinton’s “Giving” turned out to be quite a surprise, detailing from cover to cover his sojourn on behalf of his own and other charities.

As the title says, the former president offers examples of “how each of us can change the world.” Clinton’s focus, interestingly enough, is on individuals, private charities, corporations, churches — all working together to prevent disease and alleviate poverty, among other worthy causes.


Clinton is sharing the great philosopher Maimonides’ wisdom: "Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat a lifetime." The former president writes that “one of the greatest gifts anyone can give is a useful skill.”

In Clinton’s vision, governments play a role, but it is certainly a secondary role.

Wait a minute. Let me check the cover again. Did Newt Gingrich write this book?

No, it is not my imagination. Bill Clinton did indeed pen this.

And the praise continues, even though Ruddy describes himself as "a frequent Clinton critic." He does take a slam at another Democratic president, though:

And unlike Jimmy Carter, Clinton has refrained from using his post-presidential position to attack the United States, coddle with our enemies by endorsing sham elections like that in Venezuela and making Israel the bogeyman for all the world’s ills.

But don't worry, Clinton-haters -- NewsMax still employs John LeBoutillier, Charles Smith and Dick Morris, so its readers are still getting their minimum daily requirement of Clinton-bashing. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:26 AM EDT
Friday, September 14, 2007
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's coziness with Fox News continues.

Brent Bozell appeared on the Sept. 13 edition of "Fox News Live," and TimesWatch's Clay Waters appeared on the Sept. 14 edition of Fox & Friends. Both appearances were solo, with no ideological counterpart to balance, and neither Bozell nor Waters (or the MRC itself) was identified as conservative.

UPDATE: The MRC's Tim Graham appeared solo on the Sept. 14 edition of "The O'Reilly Factor" to tout his cherry-picking attack on the Huffington Post. Deviating from Fox News policy, O'Reilly did identify the MRC as conservative.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:37 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, September 15, 2007 12:42 AM EDT
Alexis Debat vs. Amir Taheri
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 14 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston tries to paint the Alexis Debat faked-interview scandal as a "liberal media" problem because he served as "the main source for some of the AP's and ABC's stories." But Huston downplays the fact that conservatives got hoodwinked by him as well.

For instance, the conservative Counterterrorism Blog loved the heck out of Debat:

One of the premier experts in Washington on Pakistan, Alexis Debat of the Nixon Center and ABC News, traveled again to Pakistan last month and gave a briefing yesterday to invitees. Alexis is a daily CTB reader, and we've traded valuable background information and timely intelligence. He met there with numerous government officials and non-governmental personnel, including those in league with the terrorists. His findings and conclusions are extremely troubling, not only for the future of Pakistan but also for the future of a democracy in Afghanistan.

Further, a Sept. 2 WorldNetDaily article cited Debat as the source of a claim that the Pentagon has rejected a strategy of "pinprick strikes" against Iran's nuclear facilities and plan on "taking out the entire Iranian military." A Sept. 2 NewsMax article similarly repeated Debat's claim.

Huston went on to add:

So, what the heck is going on with editors these days? It seems they are all out to lunch while liars like Jason Blair, Jack Kelly, Michael Finkel, and Stephen Glass -- the list goes on and on -- just make things up out of their rear ends and publish their lies with little notice from those who are supposed to be the media's fact-checkers.

But NewsBusters itself has its own favorite fabulist, whom it has cited long after he was discredited.

As we've detailed, a May 2006 post by Noel Sheppard touted a claim by Amir Taheri about "a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims." Sheppard added: "The question is: will America’s media report this? ... [W]here is the media outrage concerning this extremely heinous move by the current extremists in Iran?" The story was quickly retracted; the only alert NewsBusters gave to its readers about it was quietly appending a note about the retraction to Sheppard's post five days later but not otherwise publicizing it.

(In a delicious bit of irony, two months earlier, Joshua Sharf had included Taheri in a list of "real Middle East expert[s]" the Washington Post should be consulting.)

Amazingly, Taheri's lack of credibility has not kept conservatives -- and NewsBusters -- from citing him as a credible source: An Aug. 8 post by Tom Blumer touted an column by Taheri. Neither Blumer nor mentioned Taheri's previous fact-free debacle.

Also, Huston's mention of "Jack Kelly" is presumably referring to Jack Kelley, a USA Today reporter busted for fabricating parts of several articles. Contrary to Huston's suggestion, Kelley's work was conservative-friendly; as we've noted, WorldNetDaily printed an article by him and featured his writing about the Middle East, praising him as one of only a "few correspondents with background in the area who jetted in for a few weeks and left before they became tainted with the political correctness required of the resident media set."

Before Huston hurls any more smears at the media for taking the word of non-credible people, NewsBusters might want to clear its own closet of fabulists.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:11 PM EDT
Kessler Fluffs Discredited Author's New Book
Topic: Newsmax

In an Aug. 23 article, NewsMax's Ronald Kessler promoted Ed Klein's new unauthorized bio of Katie Couric. It must not be selling that well, because Kessler uses a Sept. 12 article to promote it again, complaining that "the mainstream media have virtually ignored" the book.

Missing from both articles is the likely reason people might be ignoring Klein's book -- Klein's previous book, a hatchet job on Hillary Clinton, mentioned only in passing in the Aug. 23 article and not at all on Sept. 12. Indeed, the Couric book looks to be another Klein hatchet job. From Kessler's Aug. 23 article:

As Klein tells it, one of Couric's shortcomings and a reason "CBS Evening News" remains in third place is Couric's unabashed liberal agenda.

"I think the lesson of Fox News' success is a good lesson," Klein tells me. "Couric and the people around her at CBS are really out of touch with mainstream America.

"She hangs out with Steve Tyler of Aerosmith in Nantucket. That says everything. It's the old Chablis-and-cheese liberalism. People don't want to get their news from somebody who wears open-toed shoes, wears purple eye shadow, and who hangs out with Steve Tyler of Aerosmith at night. They want somebody more serious, more trained, more culturally attuned to what's going on in the world."


Meanwhile, Klein reports, Couric wasn't interested in spending time with her husband Jay Monahan when he was dying of colon cancer. That tells everything one needs to know about her character.

To be sure, their marriage was on the rocks, in part because of her overwhelming need to outshine him.


Although she is too superficial to have deep liberal convictions, Couric's liberal image has hurt her as well, Klein says.

 "She's a sort of classic limousine liberal. She is a good friend of Hillary Clinton. She got her publicist from Hillary. Her executive producer on "CBS Evening News," Rick Kaplan, is an old, old friend of Bill who slept at the White House many times while Clinton was in office."

But, Klein notes, "She's not one of these dyed-in-the wool ideologues. I think she's not deep enough and profound enough a person for that. She's more of a knee-jerk liberal. And I think her liberalism infuses everything in her life, including her work. But the thing that really has done her in is more her lack of the proper temperament and training for the job she holds than her ideology."

Yep, Klein is showing the same kind of hatred toward Couric that he showed toward Hillary. And he wonders why his book isn't selling.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:18 AM EDT
Compare and Contrast
Topic: Media Research Center

While my employer was spending weeks and months contacting every single daily newspaper in the country to gather information for its special report on syndicated columnists, the Media Research Center's idea of a "special report" consists of cherry-picking blog quotes.

The MRC's goal was to depict Huffington Post as riddled with "less than honorable and respectable verbiage" and lacking "accuracy and civility." In a Sept. 13 NewsBusters post promoting the report, "study" author Tim Graham called HuffPo "the Obnoxious Roommate of the Liberal Media Elite."

Lest Graham and his fellow NewsBusters bloggers get too high and mighty about being the last bastion of "accuracy and civility" in the blogosphere, it's worth noting that the roster of contributors to NewsBusters have included a defender of a terrorist who plotted to bomb a California mosque and a field office of Republican congressman, as well as a man who is obsessed with his penis. As far as less than honorable" writing is concerned, NewsBusters have called Daily Kos posters "crypto-nazis," likened Hillary Clinton to North Korea's Kim Jong Il, and heartily endorsed an attack on Keith Olbermann that called him a "moron" and "hung like a thumbtack." And its commenters have a certain anti-journalist bent.

Further, the numerous false and misleading claims NewBusters has featured belie any claim to "accuracy" it might dare to imply through Graham's "study."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:13 AM EDT
Thursday, September 13, 2007
NewsBusters' Boyd Mindlessly Attacks Poll
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 12 NewsBusters post, Robin Boyd makes a strange attempt to discredit an ABC/BBC/NHK poll of Iraqi citizens that demonstrates she knows little about how polling works. Boyd stires:

First of all - the sample size. The number of Iraqis questioned for the poll was approximately 2100 people. 2100 people in a country with an estimated population of 27,499,638 according to the CIA Factbook. That means the poll results were from 1/1000 of the population. How can a sample size that small even be considered partially representative of the population?

Boyd offers no evidence that the poll's sample size deviates from standard polling practice. In fact, sample sizes for national polls in the U.S. typically cover 1,000 to 1,500 respondents. Using a sample size larger than that for a country with 1/10th the population of the U.S. would seem to make the Iraqi poll more accurate than a U.S. poll, would it not?

(Boyd also fails to note that the CIA Factbook population is off by a couple million due to all the war refugees.)

Boyd continues:

Next - the polling companies. The polls were managed by D3 Systems of Vienna, VA and KA Research Ltd of Istanbul. Both polling companies work with an all-Iraqi staff from in-country. I have no way of knowing the ulterior motives of the Iraqi staff members but recalling the number of "in-country" media stringers who have been involved with insurgents makes one wonder. Both companies have performed similar surveys for ABC and BBC prior to this one.

Here, Boyd is making a sloppy stab at guilt by association that she knows she has no evidence to back up.

Boyd went on to cite allegedly positive poll results that that weren't reported because "the media reports the poll results that make America look bad and ignore the results that point to progress. Typical." Josh Marshall, meanwhile, does his own analysis and finds even more troubling numbers than have been reported by anyone, including Boyd.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:46 PM EDT
Unbalanced Attacks at CNS
Topic: has done a better job of late of writing balanced articles, but a pair of Sept. 12 articles served up uncountered conservative attacks.

The first, by Kevin Mooney, featured Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's attacks on "Congressional Democrats who respond to pressure from far-left groups such as" to criticize Gen. David Petraeus. Mooney made no apparent effort to contact a Democrat to respond to McConnell's attacks.

The second, by Randy Hall, started with a bit of labeling bias, pitting "liberal activist group MoveOn" against "conservative non-profit group" Freedom's Watch. (Both organizations bought full-page ads in the New York Times to express their respective positions on the war, but only one is "activist"?) Hall went on to quote Freedom's Watch's Brad Blakeman and the MRC's Tim Graham bashing the MoveOn ad, but no criticism whatsoever of the Freedom's Watch ad; Hall did note that "Calls seeking comment from MoveOn regarding the Freedom's Watch advertisement were not returned by press time."

By contrast, a Sept. 13 article by Nathan Burchfiel on an upcoming anti-war protest makes sure to include information on a conservative counter-protest, and a Sept. 13 article by Monisha Bansal on Democratic Rep. Jane Harman's suggestion that the U.S. could do more to stop al-Qaeda is countered by stating that "White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend noted that 'two-thirds of al Qaeda's leadership from 9/11 has been captured or killed.'"

We're hoping that CNS is not slipping back into old, biased habits. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EDT
New Article: Cashill's Cornucopia of Clinton Conspiracies
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily columnist Jack Cashill puts the Clintons at the center of his conspiracy theories, and getting proven wrong doesn't stop him. Read more.

(Reminder: We now have social-networking links on all recent ConWebWatch articles and blog posts. Feel free to make use of them!)

Posted by Terry K. at 9:05 AM EDT
WND Matt Sanchez Silence Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has added a Sept. 13 article and column to the list of dispatches it has published by Iraq correspondent Matt Sanchez. WND has yet to tell its readers of Sanchez's gay-porn past nor how someone with such a history is allowed to work for WND despite Joseph Farah's declaration that someone with a similar history would not be employed by WND because "WorldNetDaily hires only serious and experienced journalists with the highest standards of ethics – both in their professional lives and their personal lives."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:35 AM EDT
NewsBusters Nonsense
Topic: NewsBusters

-- While Warner Todd Huston demands that Fred Thompson be judged on what he meant, not what he said, Mark Finkelstein declares Barack Obama "a not-ready-for-prime-time player" on what he thinks Obama said, not what he meant.

-- Brent Baker complains (in the CyberAlert, too) that Katie Couric spent more time covering the death of a parrot than covering wayward Hillary Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu. But neither Couric nor Baker (nor anyone else at NewsBusters or the MRC, for that matter) have spent any time whatsoever covering wayward Mitt Romney fundraiser Alan Fabian.

-- Similarly, Dave Pierre complains that the LA Times devoted little coverage to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa after a commission "fined the mayor $5,200 for 30 campaign violations related to his 2003 run for a District council seat." See previous item.

-- Jason Aslinger bashes CBS' Andrew Cohen for criticizing the reduction in post-9/11 civil liberties because he "does not credit that policy for the prevention of further terrorist attacks" and for "complain[ing] about the claimed 'unconstitutionality' of Guantanomo Bay" while failing to cite "the deterrent effect of the facility." Aslinger offers no evidence to support his cause-effect assertions. Aslinger asserts that only "legal eggheads" care about such things, concluding: "The contrast in approaches could not be more distinct: the Bush Administration has taken clear, decisive, tangible action - while Cohen would convene a terror summit."

-- Noel Sheppard is surprised that a conservative columnist would write a column supporting the conservative postiion on global warming.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:58 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Bedtime for Noel
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 11 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard attacked editor Joan Walsh for backing up her claim that Katie Couric's CBS Evening News reports from Iraq were "softball" and a "puff piece drop in" (attacked by Sheppard in a previous post) by linking to a video from Sheppard asserted:

So, the editor of one of the leading ezines in the country is actually defending her position concerning Couric, Petraeus, and the war in Iraq by using a video created by an extreme leftwing organization like MoveOn the day after it published an ad in the New York Times so disgraceful that many Democrats came out against it.

... even though in the immediately preceding paragraph, he quoted Walsh calling the MoveOn ad "marred, in my opinion, by the right-baiting play on Petraeus as 'Betray us.' "

The title of Sheppard's post? "Is Salon’s Editor in Bed With MoveOn?"

Given that Sheppard is in bed with Marc Morano, he may not be the right person to be raising such issues of coziness. 

UPDATE: Walsh responds:

Newsbusters criticized Frank Rich for criticizing Couric (whom they used to hate until she did her Petraeus-eye view). Somehow male Couric critics and male MoveOn fans -- lefty blogosphere skeptic Matt Bai loves MoveOn -- aren't "in bed" with the group. Try to find some new ways to say I'm too nice to MoveOn, OK, Noel? My daughter's kind of alarmed. 

... and Sheppard responds right back:

As such, your apparent disagreement with "Betray Us" by no means mitigates your continued use of MoveOn to buttress your position. Though you might not like the breath emanating from the person snoring next to you, he still appears to be your bedmate ...

All that give-and-take, and we can't get Mr. Sheppard to acknowledge our existence (let alone correct all the mistakes and misleading assertions he's made.) And we know they know we exist, since they're stealing our ideas.

So, Noel, is Marc Morano's breath minty fresh? Do tell ...

Posted by Terry K. at 7:11 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 11:36 PM EDT
Topic: NewsBusters

Allow us to state for the record that the name of NewsBusters' new "comedy show" might be a little, er, fresher if we hadn't thought of it two years ago (and used it as recently as three months ago).

Not sayin', just sayin'...

Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 PM EDT

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