MRC's Business & Media Institute Misleads on Oil Prices Topic: Media Research Center
In a Dec. 3 Business & Media Institute item and NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor writes that back in October, "the media were jumping on the $100-barrel bandwagon, warning Americans the worst was ahead," adding, " It has been six weeks since that warning. Oil hasn’t hit $100 a barrel, and the retail price of gasoline is a little more than $3 a gallon." But nowhere does Poor note just how close crude oil prices got to $100 a barrel, which would have undermined his attack on the media as scaremongers.
Poor suggests that oil prices never got much above $90 a barrel as he cited news reports from Nov. 6 that predicted $100 a barrel prices. In fact, the day after those reports, light sweet crude peaked during trading at $98.62 a barrel, closing at $98.10. Then, on Nov. 21, light sweet crude peaked again during trading at an all-time high of $99.29 a barrel.
In other words, the prediction of $100 a barrel oil were not unfounded and, in fact, within a buck of being realized. While it's technically true that "oil hasn’t hit $100 a barrel," Poor is being disingenuous by ignoring that the fact it came to within a dollar of $100 and pretending that because it didn't exactly hit that magic number, those record highs are somehow meaningless.
The MRC has exhibited an obsession with oil prices in the past, as we've noted, insisting that prices weren't at a "record high" because they weren't adjusted for inflation. Poor and friends can't use that excuse these days -- prices are officially in record-high territory.
Kincaid Suddenly Hates Boycotts Topic: Accuracy in Media
Boycotts were once a good idea for Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid. For instance, in a November 2003 column he wrote, "Perhaps the best antidote is to target and boycott actors who lend their names to Hollywood's political propaganda or pass themselves off as politicians or statesmen." And in a June 2005 column, he promoted the idea of a boycott of George Lucas' films because the final film in the "Star Wars" prequel series was purportedly "intended to be a commentary on the Bush Administration and the Iraq War."
In a Dec. 3 column, though, Kincaid is horrified that the Council on American Islamic Relations is pushing an advertiser boycott of Michael Savage: "The modus operandi is as straightforward as it is frightening?pressure companies to stop advertising on the show, and 'The Savage Nation' will go off the air. Hence, a prominent critic of political Islam will be silenced." Well, duh, that's how a boycott works. Was it any less "frightening" when Kincaid endorsed boycotting the works of those whose political views he disagrees with, thus silencing their voice? Nope.
Nevertheless, Kincaid goes on to state: "Whether you like Savage or not, he must not be forced off the air as the result of a special interest political pressure campaign." Apparently, though, it's OK to force liberals off the air as the result of a "special interest political pressure campaign."
Kincaid curiously makes no mention of the fact that, a few days earlier, Savage filed a lawsuit against CAIR citing copyright infringement for using Savage's words against him (or the fact that Savage has a history of suing his critics, thus attempting to silence their voices).
Kincaid goes on to claim: "The issue isn’t whether Savage has been critical of Islam or even whether he has made some extreme statements. The issue is that a special interest group wants to muzzle its political enemies." Yet nowhere in the column does Kincaid note any of the "extreme statements" Savage has made about Islam so people can judge for themselves and, again, this contradicts Kincaid's previously expressed enthusiasm for muzzling political enemies in the form of Hollywood liberals.
Graham STILL Not Over The 'Macaca' Thing Topic: NewsBusters
We've previously noted that the MRC's Tim Graham had a hard time getting over the whole "macaca" thing after it arguably cost George Allen re-election as senator from Virginia in 2006. Apparently he's still not over it.
A Dec. 1 NewsBusters post by Graham claims that because the Washington Post ran a short item noting what S.R. Sidarth -- the campaign staffer for Allen's opponent, Jim Webb, who videotaped Allen calling him "macaca" -- is doing these days, "The Washington Post still relishes the moment that young S.R. Sidarth first launched the 'Macaca' boat."
But wasn't it Allen, not Sidarth, who "launched the 'Macaca' boat" by using the term in the first place? Why is Graham blaming the victim?
Finkelstein Thinks David Broder Is A Liberal Topic: NewsBusters
In a Dec. 2 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein bashed networks who bring on Pat Buchanan to advocate for the conservative viewpoint, insisting, "On foreign policy, Pat sounds like someone auditioning for Secretary of Peace in Pres. Kucinich's cabinet" and adding, "the MSM shouldn't be allowed to get away with faux-balance by passing Pat off as a partisan Republican. He's anything but."
Yet in another post earlier that day, Finkelstein did what he accused others of doing -- assigned a presumed political viewpoint to a pundit without examining the facts.
In the post, Finkelstein declares the Washington Post's David Broder -- who had recommended a McCain-Huckabee Republican ticket -- to be a "Dem-pundit," bashing him as "a Democrat designing a Republican presidential ticket."
The problem is that Broder is the kind of Democrat who, as Media Matters' Jamison Foser points out, attacks Democratic leaders and praises Bush. Which is to say, not much of a Democrat at all.
Finkelstein might want to transfer some of that judgment on who is and is not qualified to be a conservative to apply a little due diligence on who he reflexively labels as liberal. He does, after all, have a history of bashing Chris Matthews as a liberal even though they think alike on certain issues (i.e. hating Hillary).
NewsBusters Keeps Up the Hillary-Hate Topic: NewsBusters
Further confirming our suspicion that the Media Research Center's chief mission these days is to attack anyone who commits the sin of saying something nice about certain people who have the last name of Clinton, a pair of NewsBusters posts deplore the idea that Hillary Clinton reacted well to the standoff at one of her New Hampshire campaign offices.
In a Dec. 1 post, Jason Aslinger was offended that in a Politico article, Hillary "has propped up Hillary Clinton as: 1) being presidential, 2) looking the part, 3) having a unique perspective as a woman, and 4) not being contrived, all because she travelled to New Hampshire and made a couple statements."
Another Dec. 1 post, by Noel Sheppard, called it "nothing less than sick-making" that an Associated Press article -- "almost as if parroting talking points from one of Hillary's campaign workers -- managed to not only give her credit for what local officials in the area did to quickly solve the takeover without any injury or loss of life, but also painted a picture of the junior senator as being presidential in the midst of a crisis." Sheppard went on to sneer: "How disgusting. Honestly, this reads like one of her aides wrote it instead of someone calling himself a journalist. Talk amongst yourselves, for I need to take another shower and disinfect my keyboard."
Sheppard then went on to channel the right-wing conspiracy nuts at Free Republic: "Having staged questions at campaign events and debates, is it possible that Hillary, in the midst of several very bad weeks on the stump, orchestrated this entire crisis to make herself look battle-hardened?"
Wow. Seems like Sheppard's the one who's acting in a disgusting manner.
WND Ignores Savage's History of Suing His Critics Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 30 WorldNetDaily article reports that "[t]rend-setting radio talk show host Michael Savage" has filed a lawsuit against the Council on Islamic-American Relations, claiming that CAIR's alleged use of Savage's rantings to raise money is copyright infringement against Savage. The lawsuit also accuses CAIR of being a "political vehicle of international terrorism" that seeks to do "material harm to those voices who speak against the violent agenda of CAIR's clients." But nowhere does WND note that Savage has a history of filing lawsuits to silence his critics.
In 2003, Savage's syndicator, Talk Radio Network, sued the operators of the websites SavageStupidity.com, MichaelSavageSucks.com, and Take Back The Media for calling for an advertiser boycott of Savage's show, thus "unlawfully interfer[ing] with TRN's business relationships with its advertisers and sponsors." Like the CAIR lawsuit, TRN's lawsuit tries to make an end run around the First Amendment to silence a critic by alleging copyright infringement. The TRN suit also cited "tortious interference with contract," "intentional interference with prospective economic advantage" and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
Interestingly, the only example of "false and malicious" information provided in the lawsuit is the claim that "TRN is owned and operated by 'cult leader Roy Masters.'" The lawsuit responds only: "These statements are false. Roy Masters does not own TRN." But as we've detailed, Masters founded TRN, his son currently runs it, and he has been accused of cult-like behavior.
Though that lawsuit was filed by Savage's syndicator, Savage clearly endorsed it, having previously threatened the boycott leaders on the air:
You rats! You stinking rats who hide in the sewers! You think you can go after my income? You think you can kill my advertisers? You think I'm Dr. Laura? You think I'm gonna roll over like a pussy? You're wrong. I'm going to find out where you get your money from. You live by handouts, all of you. You live off grants, all of you. You're a bunch of beggars, but you don't know how lucky you are. If you continue this, we're going to go after your funding sources. And we will do everything we can within the legal realm to cut off that funding! We are also going to go to the U.S. Justice Department under John Ashcroft! What you are doing is illegal! You think it's 1965 and I'm South Africa? I've got news for you: it's not 1965 and it ain't South Africa! I'll cut your funding off, and if you break the law any further, I'll put you in jail!
Of particular note in the CAIR lawsuit is how Savage's radio work is described as something akin to performance art:
Michael Savage’s show in its introduction promises “psychological nudity”. Savage’s outrage and strong language objecting to the murder of homosexuals and the mutilation and oppression of women under the guise of religion makes much more sense than the CAIR packaged spin that Savage who has repeatedly taken pro-faith views was somehow against a particular religious group in its entirety.
The audience of “The Savage Nation” expects this type of from the heart outrage and when it is directed at a murderer such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his ilk, the piece is far more understandable and far more American mainstream. While the strength of the outrage is remarkable and a hallmark of “The Savage Nation”, the sentiment is shared by a huge number of Americans.
Following in longstanding tradition, WND gives CAIR no opportunity to respond to the lawsuit, nor does it disclose its previous business relationship with Savage, which included publishing his early books under the WND Books imprint.
UPDATE: A Dec. 1 WND article notes that "Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, told WND the group would not comment on the action until the document had been reviewed," but goes on to repeat attacks against CAIR by claiming that "several of CAIR's leaders have been convicted on terror charges since 9/11." WND gave no indication that it gave CAIR a chance to respond to these claims.
Kessler Back in the Romney-Fluffing Saddle Topic: Newsmax
After mostly laying low for the past few months following his penning of an embarassing, creepy love letter to Mitt Romney's wife, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler has roared back with a new round of Romney-fluffing.
A Nov. 29 column insisted that "the case of a killer released by a Mitt Romney judicial appointee won’t likely hurt the GOP candidate the way Willie Horton haunted Michael Dukakis." AFter all, Kessler wrote, "a look at Romney’s record shows that he has neither been soft on crime nor liberal on social issues. As governor, he supported the death penalty in a state that strongly opposes it."
Kessler's Nov. 30 column touted the American Conservative Union's David Keene's endorsement of Romney, proclaiming that "[t]he endorsement is a pivotal moment in the 2008 campaign" and "is likely to galvanize fellow conservatives in Romney’s direction." The column contains such subheads as "Romney — Upfront Conservative," "The Right Man for the Job" and "The Right Change Is Good."
Looks like Kessler's working himself up to another creepy Romney love letter...
Who, Exactly, Published Willey's Book? Topic: WorldNetDaily
Kathleen Willey's book "Target" was published by World Ahead Publishing; early books, at least, have the World Ahead logo on its spine, and the World Ahead website page for the book describes it as being published by "World Ahead Media," as opposed to the WND Books imprint -- a partnership with World Ahead (Aaron Klein's book, for instance, is described on the World Ahead website as being published by WND Books). Early WNDarticles promoting Willey's book described it as being published "by World Ahead Publishing, WND Books' partner."
This is why we found it strange that two recent WND articles, on Nov. 27 and Nov. 30, described Willey's book as being "published by WND Books, an imprint of World Ahead Publishing."
Further, in an interview on Pacifica Radio's "Midweek Politics," Willey said: "As far as WorldNetDaily is concerned, I don't have a problem with what they have published in the past. You know, they gave me the opportunity to write my book."
What happened? Did World Ahead decide it no longer wanted its name to be sullied by this book, given its factual inaccuracies and Willey's credibility problems, and would rather that WND take responsibility for it? After all, WND has been the book's biggest promoter.
This also raises the question of just where the line is between WND and World Ahead. Is it so meaningless that a book can be arbitrarily moved from one imprint to another just a month after it was published? It seems that WND and World Ahead need to publicly explain just how their partnership works.
UPDATE: We heard from "Midweek Politics" host David Pakman, who tells us the page proper for Willey's interview is here.
NewsBuster Peddles Cheap Shots Against Journalists Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 29 NewsBusters post by Seton Motley noted a poll finding that nearly 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, then added: "One wonders if this is the same 90% of correspondents who admitted to voting for President Bill Clinton twice; certainly a great deal of overlap exists between the two polling samples."
Motley apparently decided to let the opportunity for a cheap shot trump the facts. As we've explained, the 1996 poll that fount 89 percent of reporters who cover the federal government voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 (the poll didn't ask about the 1996 vote) was a rather small sample -- only 139 journalists responded. Only 20 percent of the questionnaires sent out went to national news organizations, while the bulk were sent to regional daily papers or even smaller papers with next to no influence in Washington or national journalism.
In ranting about the Iraq survey, Motley sneeringly referred to "these professional seekers of truth and accuracy" who "believe that things are worsening," adding, "The story does not mention if Pew inquired as to their belief in Santa Claus." Motley also attacked the reporters for "esting comfortably in Baghdad's Green Zone, and dispatching the locals to do the heavy lifting," smearing them as "cocoon-conditioned journalists."
Motley overlooks one crucial point: The reporters saying this are or have been in Iraq. Funny, we don't see Motley or anyone else from the MRC trotting over to Iraq to report from there. If the Green Zone is such a cushy "cocoon," there should be no trouble finding an MRC staffer to go, right?
Motley has a definite disconnect like the one we've previously documented the MRC suffering from. In a Nov. 27 Human Events article (posted on NewsBusters), Motley bashes "journalism-by-poll" as done "by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup." As we noted, the MRC has a double standard on polls, refusing to complain about poll results it likes even when the methodology is questionable, though it's quick to attack (falsely or otherwise) the methodology of polls whose results it doesn't like.
Who the heck is Motley, anyway? The MRC director of communications. That explains a lot.
A Nov. 27 WorldNetDaily article kicks off with an outright lie in the headline: "Santa train takes kids to sexy Victoria's Secret." The article itself doesn't even claim that, though it tries hard to make the purported offense as sinister as possible:
The kids' Santa train at the White Flint shopping mall in Bethesda, Md., is giving the tots an eyeful, taking them past a storefront display of "SEXY" lingerie, according to a consumer who complained to the shopping plaza's owners.
Rebecca McMurry called the situation, "Marketing of Evil, Washington suburban style," after she expressed her concern to the owners of the White Flint Mall, without getting satisfaction. She was referring to "The Marketing of Evil" book by David Kupelian, WND's managing editor, which outlines the campaigns responsible for selling sex and violence agendas to the American public.
"I am shocked! This evening my husband and I visited White Flint Shopping Mall and while strolling through window shopping we were greeted by a sleazy display of near pornographic sado-masochistic sexist mannequins in the display windows of Victoria's Secret," she wrote to Mark Lerner, of Lerner Enterprises, the mall's owner.
"It was bad enough for me to be humiliated by the scene, but what about the children, Mr. Lerner? We watched as the little train carried them by those windows. Is this the image that you want to be projected for your mall?" she wrote.
So, in other words, the "train" never takes children to Victoria's Secret, as the headline claims, but merely past it -- just as it drives past every other store in the mall (at least on the level the train runs on). The article offers no evidence that the Victoria's Secret window displays are "pornographic," "sado-masochistic," or "sexist" as the "shocked" shopper asserts. (Sadly, the photos accompanying the article aren't clear enough for us to determine just how sexy the display is, a helpful service WND used to provide.)
WND also reported a claim from the shopper that "the train starts near the Lord & Taylor store, then moves throughout the mall, passing several times in front of the Victoria's Secret lingerie promotions," without noting that the train also passes several times in front of every other store in the mall. WND offers no evidence to support its suggestion that the train makes a specific point to pass by or linger at Victoria's Secret.
WND editor Joseph Farah lives in the Washington, D.C., area, not all that far from this mall (as do we, which is how we know the truth about the train). Why doesn't he go and investigate for himself?
The "controversial children's book" in question is "King and King," which is about, according to Winn, "a prince who, instead of marrying a princess, decides to marry her brother instead." Winn uses this book as the basis of a gotcha question (a recent trend at CNS) for presidential candidates: "Should teachers read the book to second graders as part of the school curriculum? Would you read it -- or have read it -- to your own children?" The results: "Republican hopefuls Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney don't think the book ... should be read to children, but Democrats John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton give it a qualified 'thumbs up.' "
Nowhere does Winn offer any evidence that the book has, in fact, ever been read or proposed to have been read by teachers to second graders as part of the school curriculum.
Winn goes on to quote David Parker, "a Lexington, Mass., parent who has battled his school district over books like 'King and King.'" Not quite; as WorldNetDaily -- which has written numerous articles about Parker -- has noted, Parker's battle was over the book "Who's In A Family?" which "depicted at least two households led by homosexual partners." It's not a fiction book like "King and King"; rather, it shows how "a family can be made up in many different ways." Neither Winn nor Parker explain why that message is so objectionable, though Winn quotes Parker attacking "affirming and embracing and celebrating gay marriage and homosexual conduct in elementary school" -- again, the depiction-equals-approval fallacy at work.
New Article: Rejecting Journalism Topic: WorldNetDaily
Bob Unruh left a career at the Associated Press to work for WorldNetDaily. His WND work, however, contains the kind of bias and attacks that would never have passed muster at the AP. Read more.
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Poll Methodology Topic: NewsBusters
The Media Research Center in general, and NewsBusters in particular, have been quick to attack the methodology of polls that don't mesh with its conservative viewpoint -- witness last year's attack on a poll showing record-low approval ratings for President Bush as being skewed toward Democratic respondents, ignoring the fact that the Democrat-Republican-independent respondent balance accurately reflected that of the American public. But when a flawed poll generates results conservatives like, not a disparaging word can be heard about it.
NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein has been promoting a new Zogby Interactive poll claiming that Hillary Clinton would lose to all of the leading Republican contenders in a head-to-head matchup. In a Nov. 27 post, Finkelstein even went so far as to contact the Zogby folks to counter an attack on the poll by Hillary adviser Mark Penn; they claimed that Penn's criticism is negated by the fact that Hillary's campaign has used Zogby for private polling. Finkelstein followed up with a Nov. 28 post featuring John Zogby himself defending the poll while dismissing a Gallup poll showing more favorable results for Hillary as having been taken nearly two weeks earlier and "a lot can happen in that time span." At no point did Finkelstein mention any problems with Zogby Interactive polls; in fact, in his Nov. 27 post, he touted that "the margin of error in the current [Zogby] presidential poll is only 1%."
In fact, questions have been raised about the methodology of Zogby's interactive polls. As Media Matters notes, Zogby Interactive respondents have previously self-selected themselves to take part in a poll, which makes it something other than the "random sample" considered to be the most scientific way to conduct a poll. Meanwhile, Pollster.com points out that the Zogby Interactive results are anomalous to every other presidential poll. And the Wall Street Journal previously noted Zogby Interactive's horrible results in 2006.
Will anyone at the MRC note this? Not unless Zogby Interactive comes up with a poll that makes Republicans look bad.
CNS' Sham Balance: Even Worse Than We Thought Topic: CNSNews.com
Last week, we described CNSNews' lack of balance in its news articles, as evidenced by its making only token efforts to obtain the other side of a story, then not bothering to follow up tell the full story. Turns out the problem is worse than we thought.
One of the cases we cited was a Nov. 20 article by Nathan Burchfiel quoting two "pro-life activists" claiming that "high abortion rates among black women" are linked to "high levels of 'hopelessness' in African-American communities across the United States." Burchfiel's attempt to "fairly present" the other side was limited to stating that "A spokesman for the Alan Guttmacher Institute did not respond to requests for comment by press time" and pulling statistics off the group's website. We have since heard from the Guttmacher Institute's Rebecca Wind, who told us:
As the primary media contact for the Guttmacher Institute, I want to set the record straight. I sent the attached letter to the editor of CNS News last week, along with the attached e-mail exchange, which clearly shows that we not only responded to requests for comment by press time, but that we set up an interview for Mr. Burchfiel with our director for domestic research, which was cancelled by the reporter due to a family emergency. I have received no response back from the editors of CNS News or Mr. Burchfiel himself at this time.
Burchfiel postponed an interview with a Guttmacher rep, then wrote the story anyway and claimed that "A spokesman for the Alan Guttmacher Institute did not respond to requests for comment by press time"? That manages to be even more egregious than the lack of balance itself.
In a Nov. 26 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham noted that in an appearance on Laura Ingraham's radio show, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw said that Rush Limbaugh "doesn’t want to hear another point of view, except his." Graham responded:
If Brokaw had ever "wasted" an hour of his life listening to Limbaugh, he'd learn that liberal callers are often featured on the Limbaugh program, some times for long periods of time that make conservative callers jealous. He should really learn from others who've made this factual error and actually listen to the program and apologize, as Washington Post columnist William Raspberry did. (See Brent Bozell on that.)
That Bozell column appeared in June 2000, after Limbaugh had been appointed to his (short-lived) post as a Monday Night Fooball commentator. Bozell does not indicate that Raspberry was referring specifically to Limbaugh's treatment of liberals, as Graham suggests; rather, Bozell wrote that Raspberry "several years ago penned a piece slashing Limbaugh to ribbons, then issued a follow-up apology in which he admitted that at the time he wrote the first column, he’d barely listened to Rush, and that once he did so at greater length, found out what he’d heard about him from friends – that Limbaugh was a bigot -- wasn’t true."
Bozell echoed Graham's claim in his Nov. 28 column:
This is beyond dumb. It’s like conservatives claiming that "the whole drill" about Tom Brokaw is he never allowed a female reporter on his newscast. It’s such a heaping pile of wrong that it serves only to discredit the critic as someone who is truly ignorant. Limbaugh regularly engages liberal callers -- always politely when they are polite, and usually politely when they aren’t -- and often at some length. If Brokaw had ever craned his pompous ears to listen to the show before proclaiming a verdict, he’d find....civil discourse.
So, um, where's the proof? Where are the audio clips demonstrating Limbaugh being "polite" to liberals? Where is the breakdown showing that Limbaugh is even more fair and balanced than Fox News?
Looks like it's time for Bozell and Graham's Media Research Center to do some, you know, media research and defend their favorite radio host with actual facts (if they do indeed exist) instead of unsupported assertions, especially given the fact that there's ample evidence demonstrating Limbaugh's hostility to liberals.