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Tuesday, September 25, 2007
CNS' Depiction-Equals-Approval Variations

Apparently, CNS' Susan Jones has been boning up on variations of the depiction-equals-approval fallacy, because she has employed them in two recent articles.

In a Sept. 21 article, Jones asserted that because Sen. Hillary Clinton didn't vote for an amendment condemning a ad critical of Gen. David Petraeus, "she refused to support Gen. Petraeus or condemn the personal attacks on him." As we noted, Jones made no attempt to document Clinton's reasons for voting against it, nor did Jones note that Clinton voted for another amendment that did, in fact, denounce the ad (as well as Republican attacks on Democratic members of the military). Jones was pushing the logical fallacy that the only acceptable way to express disapproval of the MoveOn ad was to vote for that particular amendment -- something for which she offers no evidence to back up.

Jones threw in a related logical fallacy in a Sept. 25 article on conservative criticism of a "leather fair" in San Francisco; Jones asserted: "The City of San Francisco sanctions the event by shutting down several city blocks and providing police for security." Jones offers no support for her claim that providing city services for a public event is the same thing as offering "sanction" for that event, nor any evidence that San Francisco would refuse to "sanction" a Christian-oriented event that would require the same city services.

This appears to be yet more evidence that fair and balanced journalism is not a priority under new CNS editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:44 PM EDT
CNS Didn't Identify Group As Anti-Union

A Sept. 25 article by Randy Hall on the United Auto Workers' strike against General Motors quoted Bret Jacobson of the Center for Union Facts, but Hall offered no descriptor of the group. As Jacobsen's comments demonstrated --  "the union appears to be trying to hold onto the 1950s with all it's got," the strike "endangers one of the major employers that feed and clothe their members," "It's sad that an auto union can't steer toward the 21st century" -- the Center for Union Facts is an anti-union organization.

Indeed, the group is operated by Rick Berman, lobbyist for various business-backed front groups. It refuses to divulge who its funders are.

CNS has been more forthright about the center's biases in the past: A May 11 article called the center "one of the leading opponents of union leadership, and a March 23 article by Hall listed it among "union critics." And a February 2006 CNS article promoting the founding of the center noted that "Berman's critics complain that his advocacy groups are funded by the industries that benefit from their activities."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:23 AM EDT
WND Runs to Defense of Convicted Child Killer/Homeschooler
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 23 unbylined WorldNetDaily article attempts to portray a Texas woman convicted in connection with the death of a 4-year-old she was planning to adopt as a victim of anti-Christian discrimination, but the article leaves out parts of the story in an apparent attempt to make the woman look more like a victim.

Hannah Overton was convicted of capital murder Sept. 8 in the death of 4-year-old Andrew Burd. The boy died after Overton fed him a mixture of Cajun seasoning in water, and Overton failed to promptly seek medical attention for him. Overton was sentenced on to life in prison. Her husband, Larry, also faces charges in the boy's death.

The WND article attempts a revisionist history of the case, asserting that "those who know the Overtons best aren't buying the prosecution's story and, in fact, believe evidence was distorted and doctored by district attorney's office, police department, child protective services and the news media to railroad the homeschooling, Christian couple." 

The article claims that " the prosecutors used videotape images of Andrew asleep in his bed, taken from a camera placed in the room, the parents say, for the safety of their children. The recordings show Andrew sleeping on a bed stripped of a mattress. The video was shown in the courtroom by the prosecution in an effort to establish a pattern of abuse by the parents."

But evidence shows that Overton does, in fact, have a pattern of abuse. From an Oct. 20, 2006, KRIS-TV article:

Hannah Overton said she put Andrew in the bath to warm him up, but it did not work. While talking to Corpus Christi police, Hannah Overton changed her story.

"Mrs. Overton stated she fixed two sippy cups with the chili with the water and forced Andrew to drink it. The first cup to teach him a lesson, and the second as a form of punishment. At that time, Andrew fell over, hit his head and then threw up. She then picked him up and 'beat the s*** out of him,' " the affidavit states.

The report said Hannah came to the realization about what she'd done. She called her husband Larry Overton, who took the child to a health clinic, but Andrew died at Driscoll Children's Hospital. Before his death, doctors noticed even more problems.

"Andrew had what appeared to be a cigarette burn mark on his right arm, along with some bruising to the arm and leg area," doctor reports state. "Medical staff also advised that Andrew had what appeared to be scratches along the stomach and neck area."


A hearing is scheduled for Friday to determine what happens to the Overton's other four children, who are currently staying with family members. According to court documents, the Overton children told investigators little Andrew underwent stricter punishment in the home.

Isaac, 7, also told police that his brother, Andrew, is the one who got in more trouble and was never doing antyhing right. Isaac said Andrew had to stay in his room, and his mother watched him through the 'security camera' which was pointed at his bed.

Another of the Overton's children noticied problems as well. Isabel, 5, told investigators, "He gets no food, has to stay in bed, and does not get to go on trips. Isabel indicated on one occasion Andrew had to stay in bed for two nights and he could not even get up to go to the bathroom, and he had to 'poop' in the bed."

She too mentioned that the Overtons made sure Andrew stayed in bed by watching him on the camera.

As for the punishments for the Overton children, they too would get pepper or soap in their mouths for lying. The kids all seem to know there are consequences for lying or getting in trouble. 

WND mentions none of this. Rather, it quotes the Overtons' pastor as claiming that "the Overtons' story about the events leading up to Andrew's death has been consistent and unwavering from the beginning." The pastor then "paints a picture of an emotionally troubled Andrew who may have also brought physical illness to the Overton family from his previous foster home."

WND also asserts that Overton "rushed [Andrew] to the hospital within one hour and 49 minutes of becoming symptomatic. Prosecutors claim it took her three hours and grilled her about not calling 911." That's a generous -- and slanted -- way of describing it. Here's how the Corpus Christi Caller-Times put it:

During the trial, prosecutors questioned why Overton and her husband made several phone calls but none to 911, and delayed taking the boy to a clinic for more than 1 1/2 hours. One of the doctors who treated the boy that day testified their delay in seeking help reduced his chances for survival.

When polled, all 12 jurors said they found her guilty because of her failure to act.

WND seems to be turning into the Cinnamon Stillwell of Christian homeschoolers -- they must be defended and whitewashed, no matter how heinous their offenses. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 AM EDT
Kessler Fluffs Freedom's Watch Again, Avoids Funding Questions Again
Topic: Newsmax
A Sept. 23 NewsMax article by Ronald Kessler is the third he's written in the past month promoting the conservative pro-war group Freedom's Watch. And, as in the other two, Kessler demonstrates a suspicious lack of curiosity about the group's funding, even though 1) he declares in his new article that Fredom's Watch's funding "exceeds that of" (offering no evidence of that, of course) and 2) all he has to do to tell his readers the sources of that funding is copy and paste from his employer's website -- which, as we've detailed, reveals that one major funder is John Templeton Jr., a financier with ties to NewsMax.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:05 AM EDT
Monday, September 24, 2007
Graham Falsely Dismisses 'Pro-Rather' Column
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 24 NewsBusters post comparing two Washington Post columns about Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS, Tim Graham writes that Eugene Robinsion's column "takes up the pro-Rather side, barely acknowledging Rather's phony documents en route to suggesting Rather 'makes a valid argument about the larger issue,' that CBS was cowardly in defending the story because corporations don't challenge the government like they used to, as in the golden days of the 'Pentagon Papers.'"

In fact, Robinson pointed out that "Internet bloggers noticed that the documents didn't look as if they had been produced by Nixon-era technology -- that in fact they looked as if they might have been written using Microsoft Word software," and he he took Rather to task for continuing to insist that the documents in question are genuine, writing, "come on, Dan, they're 'shakier than cafeteria jello.'" That's "barely acknowledging" the issue?

Graham also leaves out one crucial component of the "larger issue" Robinson was addressing: As Robinson wrote, "The point of the story, that Bush got kid-gloves treatment while he was avoiding Vietnam in the Air National Guard, didn't rest entirely on the disputed documents." As we've noted, this is a point the Media Research Center has been loath to highlight.

By contrast, Graham excerpts at length the "anti-Rather" column by Charles Lane, which repeatedly attacks Rather. Graham does note that "Lane was editor of The New Republic when Stephen Glass loaded that magazine with phony quotes and stories, so that either makes him the voice of experience, or a strange scold."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:51 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2007 5:44 PM EDT
Meanwhile ...
Topic: Washington Examiner
One of the reasons we suspect that the Washington Examiner's Rowan Scarborough was, um, encouraged to write a (somewhat) more balanced account of Michael Sulick's return to the CIA is that the day before it appeared in the paper, we wrote a letter to the Examiner criticizing the bias of his original article. The Examiner prints our letter today.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:38 PM EDT
Kupelian Ignores Fundamentalist's Link to Yates Case
Topic: WorldNetDaily

On Aug. 14, WorldNetDaily published an article by David Kupelian that appeared in the July issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine, devoted to attacking psychiatric drugs. which he promoted on radio shows on Sept. 4 and Sept. 14. The article seeks to explain "why so many Americans today are 'mentally ill,' " insists that mental illness is actually spiritual illness that can be "cured" not by psychiatric druge but by getting right with Kupelian's fundamentalist God. Kupelian adds that only "rarely" are there "appropriate times and places to use these medications," adding: "We would do better to stop blaming all our psychological-spiritual problems on chemical imbalances."

One of the cases Kupelian cites is that of Andrea Yates, who killed her five children. Kupelian cited testimony in which Yates claimed to have been possessed by Satan, which he blamed on the antidepressant she was taking; after the Yates case, Kupelian wrote, the drug's maker 'quietly added 'homicidal ideation' to the drug's list of 'rare adverse events.'"  

But Kupelian doesn't mention one crucial part of Yates' history: her and her husband's links to a fundamentalist Christian preacher Michael Woroniecki. As the Court TV Crime Library details:

Yet soon after Noah was born, Andrea began to have violent visions: she saw someone being stabbed. She thought she heard Satan speak to her. However, she and her husband had idealistic, Bible-inspired notions about family and motherhood, so she kept her tormenting secrets to herself. She didn't realize how much mental illness there was in her own family, from depression to bipolar disorder—which can contribute to postpartum psychosis.  In her initial stages, she remained undiagnosed and untreated.  She kept her secrets from everyone.

Rusty introduced Andrea to a preacher who had impressed him in college, a man named Michael Woroniecki. He was a sharp-witted, sharp-tongued, self-proclaimed "prophet" who preached a simple message about following Jesus but who was so belligerent in public about sinners going to hell (which included most people) that he was often in trouble. He even left Michigan, according to Mugshots, to avoid prosecution.


Woroniecki spent a lot of time in his street sermons and letters to correspondents judging them for their sins and warning them about losing God's love. In particular, he emphasized that people were accountable for children, and woe to the person who might cause even one to stumble.  He once stated, "I feel like I need a sledge hammer to get you to listen." He denounced Catholicism, the religion with which Andrea had grown up, and stressed the sinful state of her soul.

He also preached austerity, and his ideas were probably instrumental in the way the Yateses decided to live. As Andrea had one child after another, she took on the task of home-schooling them with Christian-only texts and trying to do what the Woroniecki and his wife, Rachel, told her.

"From the letters I have that Rachel Woroniecki wrote to Andrea," says Suzy Spencer on Mugshots, "it was, 'You are evil.   You are wicked.  You are a daughter of Eve, who is a wicked witch.  The window of opportunity for us to minister to you is closing.  You have to repent now.'"

According to a former follower, the religion preached by the Woronieckis involves the idea that women have Eve's witch nature and need to be subservient to men. The preacher judged harshly those mothers who were permissive and who allowed their children to go in the wrong direction. In other words, if the mother was going to Hell for some reason, so would the children.

After two more children had come along, Rusty decided to "travel light," and made his small family sell their possessions and live first in a recreational vehicle and then in a bus that Woroniecki had converted for his religious crusade and sold to them.


She continued to correspond with the Woronieckis and to receive their warnings. They thought it was better to kill oneself than to mislead a child in the way of Jesus—a sentiment she would repeat later in prison interviews.

Not surprisingly, she sank into a depression. She was lonely. She tried to be a good mother, but the pressures were building. 

By using Yates as an example, Kupelian suggests that Yates would have been fine if only she'd let Jesus "cast out" the voices in her head by embracing Kupelian's fundamentalist view of the world. But Yates was already in thrall to a fundamentalist street preacher -- the kind WorldNetDaily writers have lionized when they lead aggressively disruptive anti-gay protests -- who did nothing to help her and may have actually exacerbated her illness.

But that would have disproved his point and ruined his article. No wonder Kupelian didn't mention it. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2007 1:16 AM EDT
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Scarborough's CIA Follow-Up More Balanced, Still Biased
Topic: Washington Examiner

Rowan Scarborough's Sept. 21 Washington Examiner follow-up article on the return of Michael Sulick manages not to be as blatantly slanted as his first effort announcing it on Sept. 14, but it's still pretty clear where Scarborough's sympathies lie.

Scarborough begins the article by featuring Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra's objections to Sulick's return, calling it "a decision made by Gen. [Michael] Hayden [the current CIA director] that is clearly a poke in the eye of his predecessor, Porter Goss, but more importantly it’s a stick in the eye of the president." Hoekstra added, "Sulick did undercut Porter and Porter’s agenda and thereby undercut the president’s agenda." Scarborough doesn't explain further, even though he's suggesting that by rehiring Sulick, Hayden is not following "the president's agenda."

Only after getting this attack out of the way does Scarborough attend to the fact that "The CIA Thursday provided a fierce defense of the veteran covert officer." But then he returns to his previous mode of painting Goss as a great reformer whose plans faced "stiff opposition from the Langley headquarters." This is followed by quoting Hoekstra asserting, "It’s clear under Gen. Hayden that reform will not take place. ... He’s made his decision that he will buy in with the group of people at the CIA who believed there are no problems at the CIA." Again, no evidence is offered by Scarborough or Hoekstra to support the assertion that CIA employees "believe there are no problems at the CIA" or that the only way to solve those alleged problems was to do whatever Goss ordered.

So, to sum up: Scarborough still loves Goss and hates Sulick, but was possibly, um, encouraged by the Examiner to write a more balanced article about Sulick's rehiring. Scarborough's biases are not as nakedly expressed as they were in his first article, but they are unmistakbly there.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:26 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 23, 2007 12:30 AM EDT
Saturday, September 22, 2007
NewsBusters Still Obsessed With Mildly Hurt Jena Six Victim

A Sept. 21 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard continues NewsBusters' growing obsession with the white victim in the Jena Six case, insisting that "the name of the white boy who was beaten by the 'Jena 6,' Justin Barker, is rarely mentioned, and the assault which precipitated the arrest of the '6' is either ignored, or downplayed."

But Sheppard fails to highlight that Barker spent only a very brief time in the hospital being treated for his injuries in the assault, and he doesn't mention at all the fact that the evening of the assault, Barker felt well enough to attend a high school ring ceremony.

Nor does Sheppard address one of the sailient issues in the case: that the Jena Six originally faced attempted murder charges for an attack in which the victim was essentially treated and released.

While Sheppard invokes the Duke rape case to show how the media likes to focus on the victim, he fails to mention a more appropriate comparison: prosecutorial misconduct. In addition to the attempted-murder charge, the conviction of one of the Jena Six, Mychal Bell, was overturned because the judge ruled Bell not have been charged in adult court.

In another Sept. 21 post, Sheppard praised a column by Kansas City Star sportswriter Jason Whitlock -- whom Sheppard proudly noted had "called Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton terrorists during April's Don Imus controversy" -- for writing that that Barker "was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes." Sheppard put the statment in boldface and harrumphed, "As NewsBusters noted, media have almost universally ignored or downplayed this." But immediately after that statement -- which Sheppard copied-and-pasted but did not boldface -- Whitlock also noted that Barker "sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack." That, presumably, is not something Sheppard wants highlighted.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:04 AM EDT
AIM has Trouble Backing Up Claim That Bush-National Guard Report Was 'Bogus'
Topic: Accuracy in Media

A Sept. 21 Accuracy in Media column by Roger Aronoff on Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS described the 2004 CBS report on President Bush's National Guard service supported in part by questionably sourced memos as making "explosive but false charges" and was "bogus almost from start to finish."

But as we've noted, nowhere to our knowledge has AIM examined every claim made in the CBS report in detail to determine their accuracy what evidence exists to support them -- and what claims were rendered "false" by the questionable documents. The only article Aronoff links to in support of his assertion is a Cliff Kincaid column citing the Thornburgh-Boccardi report's description of one misleading claim. But one claim is not the entire CBS story.

Aronoff and Kincaid may work for Accuracy in Media, but he shows no apparent interest in venturing beyond right-wing talking points by explicitly outlining for its readers everything what was accurate, or not, in the CBS report -- something it joins the Media Research Center in strangely shying away from.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:37 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, September 22, 2007 12:38 AM EDT
Friday, September 21, 2007
NewsMax Falsely Takes Credit for Breaking Sulick Story
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 21 NewsMax article declared that "NewsMax’s Kenneth R. Timmerman broke the story on Monday that CIA Director Michael Hayden was bringing back Michael J. Sulick, three years after he left the Agency to protest reforms being put in place by then-CIA Director Porter Goss."

Actually, no. Timmerman's first report on Sulick was on Sept. 17; the Washington Examiner's Rowan Scarborough beat him out, filing his account on Sept. 14. Sure, it was a highly biased account, but he did get the scoop before Timmerman.

The NewsMax article, ironically, is based on a new Examiner article by Scarborough on Sulick. More on that later.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:37 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2007 11:32 PM EDT
CNS Ignores Boxer Amendment, Attacks Hillary

A Sept. 21 article by Susan Jones described Sen. Hillary Clinton as "among the 25 liberal senators voting no" on an amendment by Republican Rep. John Cornyn denouncing's ad criticizing Gen. David Petraeus. Jones went on to speculate that Clinton "may be trying to mollify the group that has criticized for her cautious, 'centrist' stance on the Iraq war."

Nowhere in the article does Jones mention another amendment brought before the Senate, by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. That amendment cited not just the MoveOn ad but also Repubican attacks on Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Max Cleland to condemn condemning "all attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably" in the military. Since she did not mention the amendment itself, Jones also did not mention that Clinton joined 50 senators in voting in favor of it, and that nearly all Republicans voted against it. (Because of the way votes on Iraq-related amendments are set up, it would have required 60 votes to pass.)

Jones also serves up her own interpretation of Clinton's vote on the Cornyn amendment: "In other words, she refused to support Gen. Petraeus or condemn the personal attacks on him." In fact, with her vote on the Boxer amendment, she did exactly what Jones demanded she do. But since Jones has apparently decided that the Boxer amendment doesn't exist -- or that the Republicans' votes against it can be similarly interpreted as a refusal "to support Gen. Petraeus or condemn the personal attacks on him" -- Jones' attacks on Clinton stand unchallenged.

Further, Jones reported that House Minority Leader John Boehner "insisted that House members from both parties 'deserve the opportunity to express their support for General Petraeus and to condemn the despicable attacks launched against this honorable man by a radical left-wing poltiical organization." But she did not report that earlier this year, referring to a Democratic-backed nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's troop increase in Iraq, Boehner declared that a "nonbinding resolution is nothing more than political theater."

Posted by Terry K. at 5:07 PM EDT
NewsBuster: La Raza 'Analogous' to KKK (Update)
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 21 NewsBusters post on the National Council of La Raza's criticism of a Kansas City parks board member who has expressed her support of the anti-immigration group the Minutemen, Richard Newcomb called La Raza "an organization analogous to the Ku Klux Klan in that it promotes the advancement of one race over another."

Unless Newcomb has some evidence that La Raza has been lynching white people, his analogy is a tad off. Indeed, given the number of racists and neo-Nazis who support the Minutemen, Newcomb may in fact be describing the wrong organization as "analogous to the Ku Klux Klan."

Newcomb also objected to a news article's description of the Minutemen as advocating "vigilante patrolling of the Mexican border," though he offers no response other than calling the Minutemen "an organization set up to assist in enforcing U.S. law." In fact, Minutemen members have engaged in vigiliantism.

UPDATE: The post has been edited to remove the reference to the KKK, though the copy of the post at Newcomb's personal blog retains it. But the post still begins by asking, "Can the Associated Press distinguish between racial supremacy groups and civil rights groups?" suggesting that La Raza is the former (and, thus, analogous to the KKK).

UPDATE 2: Here's a screen shot of Newcomb's original La Raza-smearing statement at NewsBusters.

UPDATE 3: It's worth noting that NewsBusters has not alerted its readers to the fact that the post has been substantively edited from its original posting. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, September 22, 2007 10:06 AM EDT
CNS Labeling Bias Watch

Another sign that may be regressing to a more biased view of journalism: A Sept. 20 article by Matt Purple repeatedly invokes the term "pro-abortion" to describe Sen. John Kerry and others that the rest of the world more accurately describes as "pro-choice."

Then again, as we've detailed, CNS has regularly used "pro-abortion" and "pro-life."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:12 AM EDT
Will CNS Return To Its Old, Slanted Ways?

We suspect that one impetus for the Media Research Center to hire Human Events' Terry Jeffrey as editor is his TV talking-head experience, which can be leveraged to promote the website. And lo and behold, Jeffrey pops up on the Sept. 19 edition of CNN's "The Situation Room."

And lest anyone think that Jeffrey's arrival means a continuation of the moderation and we'd previously noted occuring under interim editor Patrick Goodenough (now returned to the international desk), don't count on it -- as we've detailed, his record doesn't show evidence of such a thing. In his "Situation Room" appearance, Jeffrey sounded all the movement-conservative notes, criticizing Rudy Giuliani, defending Dick Cheney, and promoting the Bush administration's economic policy (except for the parts, like the Medicare prescription benefit, that "disappointed conservatives like me").

And CNS' new "On the Spot" video is apparently going to be all about trying to corner Democratic politicians on misleading claims. A group of videos posted Sept. 20 feature reporter Nathan Burchfiel buttonholing Democratic congressman on the cherry-picked claim that "violence has been down in the [Iraq] region in the past three months as a result of the troop surge" in ad hoc interviews on what appears to be the little subway system that runs between the Capitol and congressional office buildings.

Such interviews appear to be more about trying to corner the congressmen into making an embarassing off-message statement than eliciting actual useful information from them. That appears to be the one thing CNS learned from George Allen's "macaca" debacle -- its attempt to use Jim Webb's fiction against him, in conjunction with Allen's campaign, came off as the desperate move it was.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:00 AM EDT

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