It's not often you see conservatives running to the defense of what is, for all intents and purposes, a group of paid mercenaries, but that's what NewsBusters' Jeff Poor does with a pair of posts defending Blackwater USA.
An Oct. 3 post -- a rewriting of an item he did for MRC's Business & Media Institute -- lamented that only ABC's "World News" was the only network evening newscast to note that "no official under Blackwater’s protection has ever been killed" and quoted Republican Rep. Chris Shays thanking Blackwater "for doing a perfect job in protecting the people you’re required to protect." An Oct. 4 post by Poor bashed CBS for not noting Blackwater's "heroic" rescue of the Polish ambassador to Iraq from an insurgent attack.
Of course, nowhere did Poor mention Blackwater's copious family ties to conservative Republicans.
NewsMax Caught Making False Haditha Claim Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax has been one of the leading defenders of the Marines accused in the Haditha massacre, to the point that it has started a legal defense fund for them. But it has undermined that defense by making a false claim about the case.
A Sept. 5 article by Phil Brennan alleged that a video shot from an unmanned aerial vehicle "was heavily edited by government investigators." Brennan claimed that the video "was a small, carefully edited part of what the Scan Eagle transmitted during its daylong surveillance flight over the battle scene on Nov. 19, 2005. And shockingly, the approximately one hour of edited footage was the only Scan Eagle footage provided to the Marines’ defense teams by the prosecution." Brennan further claimed that prosecutors engaged in "deliberate editing of the video to show the defendants in the worst possible light." Brennan attributed these claims to an anonymous "Marine intelligence expert."
In a September 5th story “Haditha Video Doctored by Investigators” by Phil Brennan, NewsMax.Com reported that a video taped from a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle that purported to show the action that took place in Haditha when 24 Iraqi civilians and insurgents were killed was heavily edited by government investigators and the entire video withheld from the defense.
We further alleged that what we termed “The deliberate editing of the video to show the defendants in the worst possible light,” as a Marine intelligence expert told Newsmax.
These allegations are incorrect and NewsMax regrets having reported them.
In a letter to NewsMax., Marine Lt. Col, Sean Gibson wrote that "all of the footage of Scan Eagle surveillance of the area that day was provided to all defense counsel teams involved.”
We believe the video did indeed show that the Marines had encountered insurgents and had taken appropriate action. We believe the video evidence was important in helping exonerate several of the Marines present from charges they engaged in misconduct during the incident.
We've previously noted that NewsMax is normally reluctant to issue corrections for its errors and has corrected articles without informing readers they have been changed. Hopefully, this is a sign that it will admit responsiblity for its mistakes, as news organizations are supposed to do.
This is especially important since a significant portion of Brennan's reporting on Haditha is anonymously sourced. One has to wonder what other claims Brennan has reported don't hold up to factual scrutiny.
MRC Attacks Matthews' 'Left-Wing Skew' (Update) Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has decided that -- despite much evidence to the contrary -- Chris Matthews has a "left-wing skew" and perhaps should not be the moderator of an upcoming Republican debate.
In an Oct. 5 post, Ken Shepherd claimed that, as a recent example of purported "left-wing skew," Matthews "seethed" that "The Bush administration has "finally been caught in their criminality." But how is that bias, given that members of theadministration have, in fact, been caught in criminality? That's just a statement of fact.
Shepherd also instructed his readers to check the NewsBusters archives for "a compendium of Matthews bias." But as we've detailed, those archives contain numerous posts by Mark Finkelstein taking Matthews out of context and making him look more biased than the facts support.
The MRC's Rich Noyes then appeared on Fox News' "The Big Story with John Gibson" to further push the meme that Matthews' statement of fact is somehow biased. Gibson got the quote wrong, falsely asserting that Matthews "just called our President a criminal." Noyes made no effort to correct Gibson. (These are the folks, mind you, who have bashed Media Matters for taking Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh out of context. Apparently, accused liberals don't deverve the privilege of being accurately quoted.)
Adhering to the template, Noyes appeared solo, and the MRC was not described as conservative. Noyes claimed without evidence that NBC is "going to just drop any pretense that they're a fair and balanced network. They're going to cater to a left-wing crowd."
UPDATE: An Oct. 6 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker serves up more purportedly damning evidence of Matthews' bias: Liberals attended his party! The horror!
Flashback: WND, NewsMax Took Senator Out of Context Topic: WorldNetDaily
The Media Research Center isn't the only ConWeb component to have falsely smeared those they don't agree with.
As we documented, back in 2002, as attempted revenge for the controversy over Trent Lott's remarks about Strom Thurmond, WorldNetDaily seized on remarks made by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray about Osama bin Laden. Murray said that that bin Laden has been "out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that. ... We've got to ask, why is this man so popular around the world? ...Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty?"
But WND, in conjunction with NewsMax twisted Murray's words and claimed that she was"prais[ing]" bin Laden. NewsMax declared Lott's comments "far less offensive" than Murray's. WND's Joseph Farah chortled: "Now there are several ways to attack (Murray's) statement – so many, in fact, it's difficult to know where to begin." Using WND's "news" pages to smear her and take her out of context, of course, is just one of them.
Like the MRC, WND and NewsMax have run to the defense of Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh over their recent controversial statements -- indeed, the ConWeb has galloped to Limbaugh's defense everytime he has gotten into trouble. And like the MRC, they're hypocrites in doing so.
Who's Behind Abortion-Breast Cancer Study? (Update) Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article reported that "A new study shows that abortions can be classified as carcinogens, because the number of breast cancer cases can be predicted reasonably accurately based on the number of abortions in a given population." But the group behind the study has a murky background, and the study was published in a conservative journal.
The study was conducted by Patrick S. Carroll, which WND described as being with "London-based research institute PAPRI." What is that? PAPRI stands for Pension and Population Research Institute, which is so low-profile it doesn't even have a website. What does it do? We're not really sure. A Nexis search uncovered little information about the group; a December 2001 article in the journal GP describes the PAPRI as "a charitable trust with educational aims" and Carroll as an "actuarial researcher." Indeed, Carroll seems to be PAPRI's only employee: He's the only one quoted as representing it, mostly in either press releases by anti-abortion groups touting his abortion-breast cancer research or letters to the editor to British newspapers regarding population issues In a February 2006 letter to the UK Observer, Carroll blamed government policies for the low British birth rate -- "The National Health has offered hormonal contraceptives free of charge since 1973. The slump in the birth rate has followed closely this government measure. Eighty per cent of British abortions are paid for by the NHS" -- adding, "When men have the higher salary, there is less of a financial hurdle to clear to parenthood. Pressure for more women in top jobs will further depress the birth rate." A 1993 article in the Independent of London cites an Alan Smallbone as "chairman of the trustees of the Pension and Population Research Institute."
Carroll published a previous study trying to establish an abortion-breast cancer link in 2001. A CNSNews.com article stated that it was "commissioned by a British pro-life group." the British group Life. That appears to be this group; it argues against abortion even in cases of rape and fetal deformity. That's a red flag; a "pro-life group" would only be interested in funding research that attacks abortion, which makes the results suspect. Indeed, in his new study, Carroll states: "Particular thanks are due to the charities LIFE and The Medical Education Trust, which funded the research." The Medical Education Trust appears to be another British anti-abortion group; it lists among its publications "Induced Abortion: Hazards to Health and Future Motherhood." WND does not mention that "pro-life" groups funded Carroll's research.
And what better place to get a bought-and-paid-for study published than the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, where Carroll's study appeared? As we've detailed, the JAPS is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative-leaning group that likes to put its politics ahead of sound research. Most notoriously, the JAPS published a 2003 anti-immigrant screed by Madeleine Cosman that falsely claimed "in the past three years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy," which she blamed on illegal immigration; in fact, 7,000 is the cumulative number of cases over the past 30 years (as we've detailed).
If Cosman's rant made it through the JAPS' purported peer review, one has to look at Carroll's work with similar skepticism.
UPDATE: An Oct. 5 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall reports on Carroll's study, but like WND, he doesn't note that it was funded by two anti-abortion groups. And like WND, Hall quotes Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer -- which is touting the study -- making unsupportable, overblown claims. Hall writes that according to Malec, the study "re-confirms what many scientists acknowledge in private but won't mention in public ... because they fear the potential medical liability involved." WND, meanwhile, quotes Malec saying that "abortions are highly, highly, carcinogenic" and that "It's time for scientists to admit publicly what they already acknowledge privately among themselves – that abortion raises breast cancer risk – and to stop conducting flawed research to protect the medical establishment from massive … lawsuits."
From an Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article regarding Rush Limbaugh's controversial "phony soldiers" remark:
None of the calls for repudiation or apology, however, contain a transcript of Limbaugh's remarks. That's because other than the two words "phony soldiers," it wouldn't be possible to make the case that Limbaugh was maligning anti-war soldiers generally. He was, in the context of Wednesday's commentaries, specifically addressing the case of Jesse MacBeth, an anti-war activist who claimed to have witnessed atrocities as a Purple Heart recipient in the Army Rangers.
But WND doesn't serve up a transcript either. Perhaps that's because, far from not making "the case that Limbaugh was maligning anti-war soldiers generally," a transcript would show that nearly two minutes elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment -- made in response to a caller talking about those opposing the Iraq war who "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media" -- and his first mention of MacBeth.
If a transcript would have made it impossible to claim that Limbaugh "was maligning anti-war soldiers generally," why didn't WND supply or link to one with its article?
Dick Cheney may be the most powerful vice president in American history. He also is one of the most secretive, and he has dedicated much of his career to concentrating power in the hands of the president.
This triple combination explains why last week's closed meeting of conservative activists in Salt Lake City gave people the creeps. And why many journalists in Utah and around the country are amazed or aghast that Deseret Morning News Editor Joe Cannon, until last year a lobbyist and chairman of the Republican Party in Utah, would agree not only to address this shadowy group, but to abide by its gag order not to talk or write publicly about what was said.
When fraternity boys meet for shrouded rituals, nobody cares. But when professional spinners and policy wonks with an obvious political agenda meet in private with the vice president of the United States, people naturally wonder what's going on and what might come of it.
Nor was Cheney the only public official to meet with the Council for National Policy. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Richard Greco, Jr., assistant secretary of the Navy, also spoke to the group.
The public has more than a passing interest in what these folks had to say, which is why it would have served that interest to have the meetings open to the public. News organizations also have a vested interest in maintaining public access to public officials and the people who want to influence and be influenced by them.
As we detailed, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah also attended this same CNP meeting, and his only report from it was an unbylined, unsourced article -- printed as Farah was, ironically, railing against another group for not allowing a WND reporter in.
Farah needs to explain to his readers how his acquiesence to CNP officials in keeping the proceedings of the Salt Lake meeting secret meshes with his proclaimed opposition to leaving officials "alone to conspire in secret about matters of public interest in this country."
UPDATE: An Oct. 4 WND article by Jerome Corsi attacks Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius for "participating in the secretive Bilderberg annual meeting in Turkey." Corsi does not mention the secretive CNP meeting his boss attended.
Noel Sheppard's Disgraceful Gore Smear Topic: NewsBusters
One person we didn't include on the list of victims of Media Research Center smears, but easily could have, is Al Gore.
We've previously noted how NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard has baselessly accused Gore of being a global warming activist only for the money -- indeed, he admitted in a Sept. 25 post, "NewsBusters readers are aware that one of my contentions concerning global warming alarmism is that those involved are doing it for the money," a claim for which he offers no evidence of (that some, including perhaps Gore, have made money on global warming is not evidence that are "doing it for the money"; otherwise, it could just as easily be asserted that Sheppard, since the MRC pays him to write his attacks on global warming, is similarly only "doing it for the money"). Sheppard keeps up the smear in an Oct. 3 post.
Under the headline, "Al Gore Getting Rich Spreading Global Warming Hysteria With Media’s Help," Sheppard writes:
Americans willing to look at the manmade global warming debate with any degree of impartiality and honesty are well aware that those spreading the hysteria have made a lot of money doing so, and stand to gain much more if governments mandate carbon dioxide emissions reductions.
In fact, just two months ago, ABC News.com estimated soon-to-be-Nobel Laureate Al Gore's net worth at $100 million, which isn't bad considering that he was supposedly worth about $1 million when he watched George W. Bush get sworn in as president in January 2001.
Talk about your get-rich-quick schemes, how'd you like to increase your net worth 10,000 percent in less than seven years?
But the ABC report to which Sheppard refers did not cite Gore's global warming activism as the source of his fortune -- in fact, the report didn't mention global warming at all:
After his failed presidential run, a bearded and embattled Gore signed on as an adviser with a then-obscure Internet company called Google.
He went on to join the board of Apple, then he started his own profitable cable company and an asset management firm.
Now, according to a new article in Fast Company magazine, the former U.S. vice president is worth at least $100 million.
"I think he feels that he's doing things that are innovative and transformational and in sectors, which he thinks are in badly need of change, and I think he's enjoying being right," said Ellen McGirt, a Fast Company writer.
Sheppard has often attacked those who write things he doesn't agree as "disgraceful." That's a fitting description of Sheppard's false smear of Gore.
MRC Misleads on SCHIP Funding Topic: Media Research Center
An Oct. 3 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd attacked an Associated Press reporter for "her biased coverage of President Bush's veto of the Democratic proposal to boost SCHIP by a whopping $35 billion over five years." Shepherd countered:
And what about the fact that President Bush would be fine with a $5 billion increase over five years -- simple math tells us that's a healthy $1 billion-a-year on average. Indeed, given current spending levels, a $5 billion increase would amount to a 20 percent hike in spending, hardly a draconian cut in taxpayer spending.
In fact, as Media Matters reported, a Congressional Budget Office study found that "maintaining the states' current programs under SCHIP would require funding of $39 billion for the 2007-2012 period." SCHIP's current budget is $25 billion over those five years; Bush's additional $5 billion would bring that total up to $30 billion -- $9 billion short of what is needed to maintain the program at current levels.
Similarly, an Oct. 3 Business & Media Institute report by Amy Menefee claimed that "Bush wanted to expand SCHIP by about $5 billion over the next five years (a 20-percent funding increase) as opposed to the bill passed by the Senate and House, which would have added $35 billion over the same period (a 140-percent increase)" without noting the CBO figures showing that Bush's funding "increase" would underfund the program as it's currently set up.
CNS on Limbaugh: Still Wide of the Mark Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com just can't seem to get the facts right on Rush Limbaugh, though it's nudging slightly closer to the truth.
Following up on an article the day before that mischaracterized the controversy over Limbaugh's recent remarks, an Oct. 3 article by Nathan Burchfiel and Monisha Bansal again said that "Limbaugh used the term 'phony soldiers' in setting up a story about Jesse Macbeth, a former soldier who was recently sentenced to five months in prison for obtaining veterans' benefits by falsifying his military records" [emphasis ours]. That is a slight change from yesterday, which unequivocally stated that Limbaugh used "phony soldiers" "to describe Jesse Macbeth."
The Oct. 3 article added that "Limbaugh clarified on his radio show that he was referring specifically to Macbeth and others like him" -- again, a slight change fom the day before, which claimed that Limbaugh "explained" what he was referring to.
This at least adds the element of doubt about Limbaugh's comments, but CNS again fails to note that nearly two minutes elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment -- made in response to a caller talking about those opposing the Iraq war who "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media" -- and his first mention of MacBeth. In fact, Limbaugh never explicitly linked his "phony soldiers" comment to MacBeth at the time he said it, doing so only after the fact.
New Article: The MRC's Smear Factory Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center defended Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh by attacking its liberal counterpart, Media Matters, as a "left-wing smear machine." But the MRC has its own long history of smears. Read more.
An Oct. 2 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore described a "scandal-plagued Hollywood fundraiser," but Moore is not likely using that term to describe the story's subject, Peter Paul. That's because, as we've detailed, Moore is the hagiographer for multiple convicted felon Paul, to whom Moore applies his usual fawning description of "business mogul."
Moore's article focused on the transcript of a videotape purportedly depicting Hillary Clinton "committing felonies related to" the aforementioned "scandal-plagued Hollywood fundraiser," which Paul threw in 2000 for the benefit of the Clintons, that was "received by hand-delivery" to a "Clinton-appointee" judge that had presided over the 2005 trial of David Rosen, the finance director of Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, on campaign finance violations. The transcript -- delivered by "Douglas Cogan, a regular contributor to FreeRepublic.com who has followed the case closely and helped produce a documentary"; he's better known to Freepers as Doug from Upland -- demands that the judge "hold a hearing to determine if the Department of Justice was in contempt of court when it failed to release the video it held from 2001 to April 11 of this year."
Pardon our possible ignorance of court procedure, but are third parties permitted to "hand-deliver" case materials directly to a judge? Isn't such direct contact with a judge considered illegal tampering? Is there not an established legal procedure for filing such requests in the court system?
Of course, it goes without saying that Moore once again failed to mention Paul's status as a convicted felon awaiting sentencing for masterminding a $25 million stock-manipulation scheme, or that he fled the country to escape prosecution and fought extradition back to the U.S. for two years.
It doesn't take you a comprehensive Media Research Center study to know that the Huffington Post is a leftist site. Of course, MRC/NewsBusters' Tim Graham did such a study, but it's common knowledge in the media that HuffPo skews leftward.
In fact, Graham's "study" wasn't "comprehensive" at all but, rather, a cherry-picking of a mere 19 blog posts Graham deemed offensive out of the tens of thousands to be found at HuffPo.
The fact that they think cherry-picking is the same thing as doing a "comprehensive" study explains all you need to know about the MRC.