Jeffrey Misleads on Waterboarding Topic: CNSNews.com
Doing his part to forward the contradictory conservative talkingpoint that waterboarding is effective yet doesn't the person being waterboarded, in an appearance on the Nov. 1 edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," CNSNews.com editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey said:
JEFFREY: Brian Ross of ABC News reported that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, was broken by our CIA after he was waterboarded, and he, in fact, revealed ongoing Al Qaeda plots against the United States. If the Democrats in the Senate want to ban the procedure by which we got vital information out of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Harry Reid ought to put up a bill right now that says, "Waterboarding is forbidden. What we did to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed may not be done again."
That's not quite what Ross reported. According to Media Matters, on the Nov. 18, 2005, edition of ABC's "World News Tonight," Ross said that "CIA officers say 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed lasted the longest under waterboarding, two and a half minutes, before beginning to talk, with debatable results." And author Ron Suskind adds that what U.S. interrogators got out of Mohammed after waterboarding were "things that professional interrogators say could have been gotten otherwise."
UPDATE: As we've noted, Jeffrey previously tried to downplay the torture aspects of waterboarding in an Oct. 10 column.
-- Tim Graham parrots Sally Bedell Smith's claim that the person who reviewed her book for the Washington Post is "discredited." Turns out Smith herself is discredited, something even the Post reviewer didn't note (but perhaps should have).
-- Noel Sheppard is shocked that a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch would support the Iraq war.
Despite Ruddy's Softballs, Newsmax Still Dishes Clinton Hate Topic: Newsmax
As an apparent reminder that, despite Christopher Ruddy's mellowing, Newsmax hasn't gone completely squishy about the Clintons, Newsmax ran a Nov. 1 column by Michael Reagan begging Democrats to make Hillary Clinton their nominee for president:
So leave her alone, let her cruise her way to the nomination so we Republicans can have the pleasure of dissecting her in the general election campaign.
I know you Democrats don't want to do us Republicans any favors, but just this once let us have our way. Give us the opportunity to give the Republican attack machine another shot at Hillary Clinton. Let her coast to victory in the primaries. We'll take it from there.
At least Reagan admits there is a "Republican attack machine."
Logrolling (And Whitewashing Waterboarding) In Our Time Topic: Newsmax
An Oct. 31 Newsmax article by Ronald Kessler attacking Democrats for for making an issue of waterboarding in the confirmation of Michael Mukasey for attorney general quotes Robert Grenier, the former chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, whom Kessler states he talked to "for my book 'The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack,' which comes out Nov. 13."
Newsmax's promotional page at its online store for Kessler's book, meanwhile, features blurbs touting the book, including this one: "Ron Kessler is unique in his ability and willingness to tell the unvarnished truth about what it will take to protect America from the next major terrorist attack. This is a book that every informed and responsible American should read." Who said that? Robert Grenier.
Doesn't it compromise Grenier's objectivity and credibility to promote a book for which he serves as a source?
Indeed, Kessler's entire column seems to be an suggestion that his book will be straining objectivity and credibility and be the kind of Bush administration fluff job he's so adept at providing. At one point, he states: "As normally defined, torture is the infliction of severe pain. While waterboarding causes fear because it simulates drowning, it is painless." Er, not so much.
Kessler also claims:
The technique was used in interrogating Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s field commander or chief of operations, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot.
The technique was used in interrogating Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s field commander or chief of operations, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot.
In both cases, these and other coercive techniques — like subjecting prisoners to frigid temperatures or forcing them to stand for hours — have worked and have led to a takedown of other key al-Qaida operatives when they were planning more attacks.
Again, not so much. The waterboarding of Zubaydah apparently produced a stream of statements from Zubaydah of such dubious quality, according to journalist Ron Suskind, that intelligence officers now widely believe any evidence gleaned from Zubaydah to be utter garbage. And according to ABC News, it produced "debatable results" from Mohammed.
Sheppard Repeats False Claims By Fox's Wallace Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 1 NewsBusters post by serialmisinformer Noel Sheppard repeats a statement that "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace made on the Nov. 1 edition of conservative Steve Malzberg's radio show (boldface is Sheppard's):
WALLACE: Listen, there is bias in the media. I don't disagree with that. Look, the great untold story, do you know how many casualties, one is too many, but do you know how many American soldiers were killed either in direct action or even by accidents in the month of October in Iraq? 34.
And now that's a, if you're a parent of one of those people, it's a tragedy. But having said that, that story is untold. I haven't heard it any place except Fox News. And, and, you know why? Because there are members of the mainstream media who don't like good news coming out of Iraq, and the fact is the surge is working. Is it creating a Jeffersonian democracy? No. Have those guys gotten together and created political reconciliation? No. But is the situation on the ground, in the street, whether it's Baghdad or Anbar province, is it demonstrably safer than it was three, four months ago? Absolutely. And you don't see it in the New York Times, and you don't see it in the Washington Post.
Sheppard asserted that this is information known to "[p]eople that don't foolishly depend on the mainstream media for current events," concluding, "Sadly, this is why right-thinking Americans across the fruited plain have stopped holding their breath hoping to see good news from Iraq in those papers, Chris."
In fact, Wallace is wrong. As Conde Nast Portfolio's Mixed Media blog points out:
No, you don't see that story there...if you go looking for it before the month of October has even ended. See, those casualty figures have a funny way of creeping up on you if you start talking them up prematurely. Today, citing the release of the official monthly death toll -- 39, not Wallace's 34 -- both papers noted that it was the lowest such casualty figure since March 2006.
Wallace could be forgiven for missing the Times's story, which was "buried" on page A12, but not the Post's front-pager, headlined, "In Iraq, a Lull or a Hopeful Trend?" According to Nexis, the falling-death-toll story got play in a slew of other newspapers as well as on CBS News, NPR and, yes, CNN.
In other words, the only way Wallace could have not heard it "anyplace except Fox News" is if he gets all his news from his own network.
Any chance Sheppard will correct the record for his NewsBusters readers? Don't count on it.
Feder's Hypocritical Attack on Huckabee Topic: Horowitz
In a Nov. 2 FrontPageMag column, Don Feder attacks Mike Huckabee for being too compassionate to be a conservative. Feder writes:
Eventually, all compassionate politicians get around to slobbering over violent felons. Huckabee is no exception. Wayne Dumond served seven years of a life plus-20-year sentence for the kidnapping/rape of a 17-year-old cheerleader. Dumond claims that while he was awaiting trial, men broke into his home and castrated him. Sadly, he survived.
Shortly after he became governor, Dumond's pardon application crossed Huckabee's desk.
While denying the pardon, Huckabee helped with the parole board by sending the rapist a personal letter disclosing, "My desire is that you be released from prison. I feel that parole is the best way for your reintroduction to society to take place." A 2002 article in the Arkansas Times reports Huckabee's staff worked behind the scenes to secure the rapist's release. Was Huckabee moved after looking into Dumond's eyes and seeing another of society's victims who was just following the American dream?
Ashley Stevens, who Dumond raped, told Huckabee, "If you ever let him out, he's going to do it again." Huckabee was unmoved, even when Stevens thrust her face inches from his and told him: "This is how close I was to Dumond's face for an hour. I'll never forget his face, and you'll never forget mine."
None of that dissuaded Mr. Compassion. Wouldn't you know it, the year after the parole board reintroduced Dumond into society, he moved to Missouri where he sexually assaulted and murdered a 39-year-old woman.
To this day, Huckabee is in a state of denial (unfortunately for him, not one of the early primary states) regarding his role in this tragedy, insisting, "My only official action was to deny his clemency."
Nowhere does Feder mention that the campaign to give Dumond clemency, which Huckabee ultimately supported (though he now denies it) was spearheaded by Feder's fellow conservatives. They wanted Dumond released as a way to attack Bill Clinton, who they claimed denied Dumond parole while Arkansas governor because Dumond's victim, Stevens, was a distant relative of Clinton. An entire wingnut book was written about the case; as we've noted, Newsmax defended Huckabee and attacked Clinton by using the case and attacked Stevens' testimony as unreliable. (This before Newsmax flip-flopped and used Dumond to attack Huckabee's "liberal policy of criminal pardons" earlier this year.)
So, rather than blaming Huckabee for Dumond's release and the subsequent murder he committed, Feder should instead be blaming his fellow conservatives who wanted Dumond released to make Clinton look bad.
Over the last couple weeks, once again, I've seen WorldNetDaily referred to in all the major media as a "conservative website" or as a "conservative news site."
I can't help but scratch my head for two reasons over this knee-jerk description: How could something I created be "conservative" when I reject the label?
Because we read your website, Mr. Farah. And we have repeatedlydocumented WND's conservative leanings (and Farah's refusal to admit that WND is conservative).
The really funny thing about this column is: After Farah declares that he "reject[s] the label" of "conservative," he then passes judgment on people who he claims are not conservative. For someone who purported "reject[s] the label," he sure knows a heck of a lot about it.
Another Shocker: Newsmax Pans Book's Liberal Attacks Topic: Newsmax
In keeping with the dogs-and-cats-living-together nature of Christopher Ruddy's rapprochement with the Clintons, Newsmax continues to do the previously unthinkable. This time, it pans a book on Hillary Clinton for -- shock! -- forwarding poorly researched attacks on liberals.
A Nov. 1 review of Paul Kengor's book "God and Hillary Clinton" -- which lacks a byline and is credited only to "Newsmax Staff" -- did actually mostly praise the book, calling it "tantalizing and important" and asserting "[t]here is much to feast on and much to wonderfully digest in Kengor’s work." Surprisingly, the review points out that Kengor is a "professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, a highly Christian and conservative institution," which hints at where the book is coming from. Even more surprisingly, the review criticizes Kengor for rehashing non-substantive attacks on liberals:
When he sticks to the topic, he is good and clear and illuminating. When he goes after the usual suspects – Kerry, Bill Clinton, Gore, liberal feminist groups, the media, to name a few – devoting pages and pages to their issues, when only one or two paragraph would suffice to set up how those issue affect Hillary Clinton, it diminishes the final product and makes it difficult to find the wheat from the chaff.
He also slips into the habit of projecting without substantiation or in other cases stating something as if it is “wrong” but not explaining clearly why it is wrong. For example, why is it curious that people of different faith would choose to be married outside of a church – in affect, to begin a life together incorporating elements of both of their Christian religions? He constructs the Clinton’s decision to do that (albeit with a Christian minister) as suggestive of a lack of faith. But it misses the mark.
Likewise, he offers no proof – other than a few quotes from a lone pornographer – to support the assertion that electing Clinton would be a boon for that tawdry industry.
There is much convenient speculation on the part of the author, to add bulk to assertions – almost always in the realm of adhering to more potentially controversial aspects of Clinton.
A prime example is describing a six-week program for 400 gifted high school seniors in Arkansas, known as the “Governor’s School.”
Kengor details some of the school’s “post-modern and left-wing curriculum” and notes what was read by students or, when convenient, selects a controversial work that meets his criteria by noting that “in a 1971 work likely read by Governor’s School students.”
Such convenient extrapolations appear throughout the book; sadly, they are not necessary to make the point and, in fact, raise objective questions as to intent.
Newsmax criticizing a conservative book for not being objective? We're verklempt.
It was not all that long ago that NewsMax shamelesslypromoted whatever anti-Clinton book came down the pike. It's shocking to see Newsmax act like, well, a real news organization instead of a propaganda organ.
Remember ex-NewsBusters blogger Cinnamon Stillwell? Sadly, No! notes that she's all upset that, in Sadly, No!'s words, "a half-naked deranged man covered with paint who had an established penchant for burning down anything he could put a match to" made a half-hearted effort to burn down a church in San Francisco.
Apparently, Stillwell would have been much happier if the man had instead, say, tried to blow up a mosque or a congressman's office. 'Cuz she didn't exactly object when a right-wing Jewish extremist tried to do just that.
Huston Bites the Hand That Feeds Him Topic: NewsBusters
It's hard to imagine someone attacking a newspaper owned by Richard Mellon Scaife for not being conservative enough, but Warner Todd Huston manages to do just that in a Nov. 1 NewsBusters post. In it, Huston bashes Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for "sympathetically portray[ing] Hugo Chavez, the America hating dictator of Venezuela, as a victim attacked by mean American boycotters," regarding an article about local effects of a conservative boycott of the Venezuelan-owned oil company Citgo.
Huston goes on to claim that "the Trib-Review wants to help Chavez advertise his propaganda program of selling cheap heating oil to American citizens. Smooth, PT-R, very smooth." He then berates a local Citgo dealer who reminded customers that "they're dealing with local people" (indeed, Huston is too busy hurling insults to get the guy's name right -- it's Mark):
Sorry Mikey, but a real American would hope you lose every penny and have to close your business down... unless you want to buy your oil from a company that is not one of our biggest enemies, of course. It's called patriotism, Mikey. But apparently that is a word that you don't know the meaning of.
Finally, Huston launches into a full-fledged attack on Scaife's newspaper:
It seems clear that, with a libertarian leaning editorial board, patriotism hasn't much of a premium placed on it at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. And this is one of the failings of a libertarian point of view. It leaves no room for such trivial things as patriotism when business is to be conducted. That feeling, though, also leaves no room for taking into account the harm a foreign nation might do to us while conducting that business, as well (just ask the customers of GazProm). So, the PT-R, with it's acclaimed business oriented, libertarian mindset, doesn't care if Hugo Chavez gets a propaganda coup out of the consumers in Pittsburgh. The PT-R pays no mind to the support that such an effort gives a communist dictator who is a vocal enemy of the United States. Nice going Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Check your patriotism at the door and pump away.
As we've previously noted, Scaife-controlled foundations have given nearly $2 million to NewsBusters' parent, the Media Research Center, between 1997 and 2005, a few coins of which have presumably trickled down to Huston as compensation for his NewsBusters contributions.
We're pleasantly surprised that a conservative would break Ronald Reagan's 11th commandmant dare to criticize another conservative -- usually Huston is too busy being a sycophanticapologist for Fred Thompson -- let alone the guy who helps provide an outlet for said conservative's writing.
In his "Final Word" on Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced a fake news conference held by FEMA officials in the wake of the California wildfires. Not content to just say the staged conference was a bad mistake, Schieffer decided to be as arrogant and condescending as possible:
The fake FEMA news conference was merely a "bad mistake"? Drennen then goes for the equivocation card:
Schieffer went on to denounce the "softball questions" asked by FEMA employees who posed as reporters. It is interesting to note that Schieffer did not condemn ABC host George Stephanopoulos in similar fashion when the former Clinton advisor touted an email from the Clinton campaign during a discussion of the September 26 Democratic debate on "Good Morning America." It is also unlikely we will hear a word from Schieffer about MSNBC host and debate moderator, Chris Matthews, writing a campaign speech for Barack Obama one day prior to Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.
How are these equivalent situations? Unlike FEMA, Stephanopoulos and Matthews did not stage anything and present it as something it wasn't.
Going on to accuse Schieffer of not giving "any credit to FEMA for the successful response to the wildfires," Drennen concluded:
Well, FEMA did do a good job helping victims during this disaster, but the mainstream media has been determined to only look for what went wrong.
Is Drennen so ideologically wed to the Bush administration that he can't offer an honest criticism of an obviously stupid move and must denigrate those who do criticize it as "arrogant and condescending" people who "only look for what went wrong." Well, it was wrong, dude! Why shouldn't it be criticized? More importantly, why won't Drennen or anyone else at the MRC criticize it as anything harsher than a "mistake"? We suspect if this happened under a Democratic administration, we'd never hear the end of it from Drennen and the boys.
Shocker: Newsmax's Softball Interview With Bill Clinton Topic: Newsmax
No wonder Christopher Ruddy has been trying to downplay Newsmax's history of animosity toward the Clintons: He wanted to snag an interview with Bill Clinton.
In a move that will surely stun longtime Newsmax readers, Ruddy did, in fact, snag that interview -- and, if an Oct. 31 article is any indication, lobbed softballs at the former president. Ruddy writes:
There is no doubt Bill Clinton has broken the mold of what we expect from a former president.
And there is also no question that in the past Bill Clinton has engendered considerable controversy. But there should be little disagreement today that he is doing exemplary work and is acting as a positive force for the United States.
Ruddy notes that he "interviewed former President Clinton about his post-presidency. In this exclusive Newsmax interview, Clinton discusses his extensive charity efforts, repeats his call for mandatory AIDS testing in some countries, and vows that if Hillary is elected president, he 'will do whatever she asks me to do.' " Some of the less-than-harsh questions Ruddy asked of Clinton:
Your book “Giving” is just out and has soared to the top of the best-seller lists. Do you think you have touched a nerve among Americans who want to embrace the concept?
Do you feel the heart incident made you focused on your spiritual side? How has your own religious faith played a role in your global work today?
The AIDS crisis is a huge problem devastating Africa and other parts of the lesser-developed world. How is the Clinton Foundation making a difference?
Further, the new issue of Newsmax magazine has made Clinton its cover boy in what appears to be a mostly positive article on "the controversial political and cultural powerhouse who is redefining what it means to be an ex-president."
Indeed, Ruddy has mellowed considerably about the Clintons (even if Newsmax hasn't). As we've noted, Ruddy was quoted in February as saying, "Clinton wasn't such a bad president. ... In fact, he was a pretty good president is a lot of ways, and Dick [conservative moneybags and Newsmax financial backer Richard Mellon Scaife] feels that way today." In September, Ruddy praised Clinton's book "Giving." And just yesterday, Ruddy wrote of Hillary Clinton: "Today, Hillary does not generate the same animus she did during the 1990s. ... Running one of the leading Web sites for GOP readers in the nation, I know that Hillary does not evoke the anger she once did."
How is the He-Man Clinton-Haters Club -- of which Ruddy was once a prominent member and several Newsmax writers, like John LeBoutillier and Dick Morris, still hold card-carrying memberships -- going to take all this? Not well, we suspect.
Poe Distorts 'Bloggergate,' Ignores Breaches By Conservative Bloggers Topic: Newsmax
An Oct. 18 NewsMax article by Richard Poe asserted that "left-wing bloggers" are being subsidized "with illegal Democrat campaign contributions, laundered through ostensibly 'non-partisan' non-profit groups." But he distorts reality and ignores similar Republican practices in order to support his so-called "Bloggergate." Poe writes:
The first evidence of Bloggergate emerged in January 2005 when the two most prominent left-wing bloggers on the Internet — Jerome “The Blogfather” Armstrong of MyDD and DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas Zuñiga — both admitted to getting cash from Howard Dean's presidential campaign.
In fact, as Slate points out, Armstrong didn't blog for the six months that he was on Dean's payroll, and that Moulitsas "posted a somewhat grumpy disclosure on his site's front page during the same period." Slate adds: "If the two men were journalists, those disclosures would be woefully insufficient. But Armstrong and Moulitsas aren't journalists. Nor does having a blog make someone a journalist."
Further, Poe fails to mention that conservative bloggers have been "getting cash" from Republican campaigns as well. As we've noted, in 2004, two bloggers in South Dakota were paid a total of $35,000 by the campaign of John Thune, a Republican who was running for Senate. But unlike Armstrong and Moulitsas, neither provided any disclaimer on their blogs during the election that they were on Thune's payroll. Yet somehow, that's not "Bloggergate"-worthy as far as Poe is concerned.
Poe then wrote that "Republican blogger Michael B. Brodkorb of Minnesota, assailed by piranha-like swarms of leftist bloggers, revealed that his tormentors were on the take." But Poe doesn't mention that Brodkorb was "assailed" for a Bloggergate-like offense: while serving as a consultant for Senate candidate Mark Kennedy, Brodkorb used his blog to promote Kennedy's campaign and that of other Republican candidates for whom he consulted (but did not disclose to his readers) despite a previous assertion that he would not do so.
Poe also tries to smear the Center for Independent Media, the funder of the website that exposed Brodkorb's conflicts of interest (and which once shared office space with Media Matters, my employer). Poe described the CIM this way:
Because CIM fellowships expire after three months, CIM "fellows" are always on the hot seat. If CIM is satisfied with the blogger's performance, it will renew his fellowship. Otherwise, it will not. Plainly, CIM bloggers have much to gain if they toe the party line — and much to lose if they fail to satisfy their benefactors.
Poe offers no evidence that the CIM coerces its bloggers into "toeing the party line," as he suggests. (Also note that Poe has described the CIM-funded bloggers as "on the take" while Brodkorb was the victim of "piranha-like swarms" who merely pointed out that he was similarly, if not more egregiously, on the take.)
Despite Evidence, NewsBusters Still Insists Matthews Is 'Shill for the Democrats' Topic: NewsBusters
An Oct. 31 NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy begins: "It is no secret that Chris Matthews is a shill for the Democrats and adamantly opposed to the Iraq War." Well, not quite; as we've documented, Matthews repeatedly bashed President Clinton during the 1990s to the MRC's delight, and the MRC (and McCarthy as well, we presume) has ignored Matthews' more recent praise of President Bush, which counters McCarthy's assertion that Matthews is "a shill for the Democrats."
McCarthy also asserts that Matthews "accused the Bush administration of engaging in 'criminality'" without noting that this is a factually accurate statement, and "inquired if Rudy Giuliani is 'a little bit Fascist'" without noting that Matthews suggested that he endorsed Giuliani's brand of fascism -- an implicit endorsement of Giuliani that also belies McCarthy's "shill for the Democrats" claim.