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Thursday, December 20, 2007
Unruh Still Lacks Independent Verification of Homeschooler's Claims
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh is still pushing the claims of homeschooling mom Denise Mafi -- who asserts, in Unruh's words, that she was "ordered by a juvenile court judge to enroll her children in public school or lose custody of them" --  but he still lacks solid independent verification of her claims.

Following up on a Dec. 16 article in which he first reported Mafi's story -- and included no evidence whatsover that he tried to verify her story -- a Dec. 20 article by Unruh is now claiming that Mafi "has abandoned her home, furniture and other possessions to escape the order." The only stab at verification that Unruh concedes is this paragraph:

Mafi has reported, and her recollection of events has been confirmed by attorneys, that Johansen told her homeschooling fails 100 percent of the time and he would not allow it.

What "attorneys" is Unruh talking about? Are they Mafi's attorneys? Why won't he name them or quote them on the record? What is Unruh afraid of?

Further, there is a court record of the case, and Unruh claims that Mafi has been "[C]ounseled by a public defender." Yet while Unruh did include the standard paragraph about how the various officials he purportedly contacted didn't respond or comment, there's no evidence that Unruh has tried to contact the public defender Mafi claims she was counseled by.

Unruh, however, was apparently shamed into including some balance; he noted a defense of the judge in the case by someone "who identified himself as a friend of the judge." This was apparently in response to a Dec. 18 article by Unruh that is essenetially a one-sided attack on the judge by John Yarrington, president of the Utah Home Education Association -- who similarly offers no corroborating evidence vefifying what he claims happened to Mafi or support his accusations against the judge, such as "This guy's nuts. He has no clue. ... He's [stepped] on so many rights it's ridiculous."

In all of these articles, Unruh threw in his standard Godwin's Law paragraph about how such actions are reminiscent of Germany, where homeschooling is "illegal under a law launched when Hitler expressed a desire to control the minds of youth." That references a series of stories he wrote earlier this year in which he made no effort whatsoever to contact German officials for their side of the story.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:13 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, December 22, 2007 8:44 PM EST
Kengor Repeats False Claim About Teacher And Declaration
Topic: Horowitz

In a Dec. 20 FrontPageMag article, Paul Kengor -- a conservative college professor and author of several books including God and George W. Bush and God and Hillary Clinton (his attacks on liberals in the latter were shockingly panned by Newsmax) -- conducted an interview (apparently in connection with the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College, where Kengor teaches) with Charles Kesler, "director of the Salvatori Center at Claremont McKenna College, and one of the nation’s most respected and thoughtful observers on the American Founding," on the subject of "American exceptionalism." Kengor asked the following question:

In November 2004 there was a case in a public school in the San Francisco Bay area in which a teacher claimed that the school principal prohibited him from using the Declaration (and other Founding documents) because it mentioned God. If accurate, was this merely an isolated case of silly secularists in a public school who lost their minds—and thus of little concern to us—or does it point to a real problem that we should be worried about? Is there a prejudice against the religious component in these documents?

As we detailed, the teacher in question had a history of using his classroom to promote his brand of Christianity -- In fact, parents had complained to the school that Williams's teaching "crossed the line into evangelizing," -- and the handouts in question were only the parts of the Declaration that mentioned God, not the entire document. The teacher later withdrew his lawsuit against the school district, and both sides dismissed all claims, and no school policies were changed.

The false claim that the school district prohibited the teacher from handing out the Declaration of Independence "because it mentioned God" came straight from a press release from the teacher's attorneys at the conservative Alliance Defense Fund.

Couldn't Kengor have looked this up, given that there's no doubt about the incident he raises, instead of throwing in the "if accurate" disclaimer? Apparently not, since the truth would have completely undermined his question.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:44 PM EST
Dear Mr. Farah...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Dear Mr. Farah:

In your column today, you attack the Detroit News as "that fish wrapper" for running a column by Kary Moss, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, stating that WND "has suggested that the ACLU is actively working to remove 'In God We Trust' from U.S. currency, fire military chaplains and delete all references to God in America's founding documents." You write:

Here are some facts: WND has never reported any of the things it is alleged to have reported by Kary Moss and her friends at the Detroit News. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

No, WND has never suggested (note that word) the ACLU is actively working to remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency.

No, WND has never suggested the ACLU is actively working to fire military chaplains.

No, WND has never suggested the ACLU is actively working to delete all references to God in America's founding documents.

No, WND has never suggested any of these things – not in its news reports, not in its commentaries, not in its more than 10 years of publishing on the Internet has it suggested any of these things.

You then excerpt a promotion for the anti-ACLU issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine, which states of the ACLU: "Americans' heads are spinning, as they wonder what the next judicial outrage will be: Removing 'In God We Trust' from U.S. currency? Firing all military chaplains? Expunging all references to God in America's founding documents?"

What, exactly, is the loophole you are taking refuge in here? That this statement was not a "suggestion"? That Whistleblower is not the same thing as WND? 

Please explain how the above statement published by WND is not "suggesting" that the ACLU is involved in those activities. Please explain why the above statement is not the same kind of "atrocious and defamatory lie" you accuse the ACLU and the Detroit News of engaging in. Please explain how the above statement -- as well as your frequent assertion that the ACLU is "evil" -- is reflective of a "concern for truth, accuracy and the facts" you claim WND has but the ACLU and the Detroit News don't.


Terry Krepel
Editor, ConWebWatch

Posted by Terry K. at 9:30 AM EST
Corsi's Intimidation Tactics
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Is Jerome Corsi trying to intimidate Jim Gilchrist into dropping his endorsement of Mike Huckabee? It seems so.

As we've noted, a Dec. 15 WorldNetDaily article by Corsi featured nothing but criticism of Gilchrist's endorsement by Gilchrist's fellow anti-immigration activists -- a surprise since Corsi and Gilchrist co-authored a book on the Minuteman movement just a year or so ago (and glossed over the the nature of the split between, and other controversies involving, Gilchrist and fellow Minuteman leader Chris Simcox. This was followed the next day by a Corsi article devoted to Gilchrist's side of the story.

The saga continues: A Dec. 18 article by Corsi reported that Gilchrist "says he will have to reconsider his endorsement of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee after learning the Republican presidential candidate favors allowing illegal aliens to wait only days to receive documents allowing re-entry into the U.S."

This was followed on Dec. 19 by a Corsi article noting that "Gilchrist yesterday went on a series of radio interviews, announcing to listeners he had decided to stick with his endorsement, even though Huckabee's immigration plan was less than perfect" -- accompanied by more detailed criticism of Gilchrist's endorsement from his anti-immigration buddies. Gilchrist maintained his endorsement even though, Corsi wrote, "Gilchrist was shown a Dec. 9 interview Huckabee gave to Chris Wallace of Fox News, two days before Gilchrist's endorsement, in which Huckabee admitted repatriated illegal aliens should only have to wait days, not years, under his Secure America Plan, before they received the legal documents that would permit them to re-enter the United States." Who showed this interview to Gilchrist? Was it Corsi himself?

Corsi's artcles -- in which he appears to praise Gilchrist for reconsidering his endorsement of Huckabee then attacks him when that doesn't happen -- appear to be an attempt to intimidate Gilchrist into withdrawing his endorsement. On no planet is this responsible journalism. If Corsi is sending videos to Gilchrist in order to try and change his views -- also not what anyone would call journalism -- he needs to disclose that, just as he needs to disclose that he and Gilchrist wrote a book together.

Corsi needs to explain himself, since what is going on here seems to be little more than a personal vendetta against an apparent former friend and business partner for not being pure enough in his views. Even though WND is often a bully pulpit in the hands of the likes of Joseph Farah, standards of ethics and morals demand Corsi stop misusing his WND platform to lash out at former acquaintances merely because their views are no longer in lockstep -- and where appears to have crossed the line from a bully pulpit to actual bullying.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:23 AM EST
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tim Graham, Arts Critic
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec. 19 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham is headlined, "Washington Post Yawns at 'Tame' Song 'Fascist Christ'." Of course, the entire newspaper did no such thing; it's merely a claim in a review printed in the Post, and Graham seems to have misinterpreted that, too.

In a review of a Todd Rundgren concert, the Post reviewer noted:

And for a guy pushing 60, Rundgren still works hard, digging into the vocals and closing most songs with a leaping scissors kick. But his promises to "offend each and every person in the room" didn't quite deliver, starting with a tame "Fascist Christ" and ending with a listless jab against -- yawn -- neoconservatives. Sorry; if you want to talk politics in this town, you have to hit a lot harder than that.

Graham responded (again conflating the reviewer's opinion to that of the entire newspaper):

Since when is a song viciously attacking American Christians as fascists considered "tame" and inoffensive? The only arguments in the Post's favor: The song is old (from 1993, hardly the zenith of Christian conservatism), and it's a very lame white rap song.

Graham seems not to have considered that, as the context of the review suggests, the reviewer may have been referring to Rundgren's performance of the song at the concert, not the specific song content itself (though we would concur with Graham's assessment of "Fascist Christ" as a "lame white rap song").

Graham has a habit of finding ways to misinterpret music and other arts reviews -- such as suggesting without evidence that reviews endorse the content of those events they review positively and ascribing the views of people quoted in a review to the reviewer himself.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:06 PM EST
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2008 1:29 AM EST
CNS Loves Morrison's Scandal, Ignores Kline's

A Dec. 19 article by Randy Hall devotes its attention to a sex scandal involving now-resigned Kansas attorney general Paul Morrison. But, following in the footsteps of WorldNetDaily, Hall fails to note apparent improprieties -- including failure to live in the county where he works as mandated by law and allegations that he's not putting in all that many hours at work -- surrounding Phill Kline, whom Morrison defeated for the attorney general post in 2006 and who succeeded Morrison as Johnson County, Kansas, district attorney after leaving office. Like WND, Hall touts Kline's anti-abortion activism, including his aggressive pursuit of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller.

Further, the headline of the article calls Morrison "pro-abortion" -- an inaccurate bit of semantics CNS likes to use.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:16 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2007 10:41 PM EST
Kessler Misleads on FISA Revisions
Topic: Newsmax

In a Dec. 17 Newsmax article repeating Republican Sen. Kit Bond's assertions about what the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran "should have emphasized," Ronald Kessler wrote:

Even more disturbing to Bond are votes by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama last August against revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to take account of technological changes.

“The country was at risk last summer,” Bond says. “We were not able to go up on new targets and obtain new information. The FISA court said in a classified letter to the intelligence community—and I was authorized to say it on the floor—that the FISA process for intercepting communications had been brought to a stop.”

As a result, if Clinton and Obama had prevailed, “We would not have been able to collect signals intelligence from key al Qaeda and other terrorist leaders abroad, calling to their allies in Iraq or perhaps in the United States. Essentially they would’ve shut down the program,” Bond says. “We’d have been out of business.”

In fact, Clinton, Obama, and other Democrats who opposed the bill passed in August did not do so because they opposed revising FISA "to take account of technological changes." As the New York Times reported and Media Matters noted, the main point of contention was court oversight of the warrantless wiretapping program. Democrats wanted meaningful court oversight; Republicans didn't.

Kessler has a long history of misleading his readers about FISA provisions and Democrats' views on them.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:29 AM EST
WND Still Mum on Iraq Correspondent's Gay-Porn Past
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 17 WorldNetDaily article by Matt Sanchez about pregnancies among female American soldiers serving in Afghanistan reminds us that even after several months of Sanchez's employment by WND, WND has never told its readers about his career as a gay porn star, which would seem to conflict with WND editor Joseph Farah's assertion that "WorldNetDaily hires only serious and experienced journalists with the highest standards of ethics – both in their professional lives and their personal lives."

Will Sanchez be weighing on on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy anytime soon? We shall see.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:53 AM EST
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
NewsBusters Is Inconsistent On Using Single Example to Make Blanket Generalizations
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec. 17 NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy suggests that because Fox News did a "softball interview" with Hillary Clinton, it can't possibly be a "right-wing" channel.

Meanwhile, a Dec. 17 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein noted that Chris Matthews "derided" supporters of Hillary Clinton as "castratos" and a "eunuch chorus." But, strangely, he did not follow in McCarthy's footsteps by declaring that this means that MSNBC isn't a liberal channel.

As we've noted, Finkelstein and others at the MRC believe Matthews is a rabid liberal despite copious evidence to the contrary. Indeed, the evidence continues to mount: Media Matters reports that Matthews' negative comments about Hillary far outnumber his positive comments, while his positive comments about Rudy Giuliani outnumber his negative ones. Will Finkelstein and the rest of the MRC ever admit the truth?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:15 PM EST
Will FrontPageMag Admit Conservative Student's Beating Hoax?
Topic: Horowitz

A Dec. 18 FrontPageMag item repeats a Dec. 17 New York Sun article about Francisco Nava, a Princeton student described as "leading a movement to instill conservative moral values among undergraduates" who claimed he was assaulted and had received email threats.

But the Sun has since issued an update, linked to from its original article, stating that Nava "has said that he fabricated the assault, and that he sent e-mail death threats to himself, three other Princeton students, and a prominent conservative professor at Princeton."

A search of FrontPageMag indicates that it has not informed its readers that the alleged beating of Nava was a hoax. Will it ever tell its readers the truth? We'll see.

UPDATE: Media Matters has more details. Also, the Horowitz group Students for Academic Freedom similarly repeats the original Sun article but not that the story is a hoax.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:44 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2007 2:00 AM EST
Shocker: Unruh Talks To Someone Associated With Gays!
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh seems to be expanding his horizons: He includes an entire paragraph in a news article in which it appears he talked to someone who works for a group associated with gays.

In a Dec. 18 article featuring yet another attack on a California law that requires that applies anti-discrimination laws to students -- which, of course, he deliberately misconstrues as "advocating homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and other alternative lifestyle choices" -- includes the following paragraph:

And Ali Bay of Equality California told WND the new law "doesn't require that any specific curriculum be included in California's classrooms." 

We commend Unruh for screwing up his courage to deign to actually speak to someone who is not like him and works for a group that has close ties to gay people. That's one step to becoming a real journalist, which you would nearly three decades with the Associated Press, where he worked before joining WND, would have taught him by now. (As we've documented, it hasn't.)

That and the two preceding paragraphs, though, are the only paragraphs in the article in which an alternative view is permitted. Unruh spends the rest of the article repeating alarmist claims by opponents of the law and suggesting that specific books that he claims "advocat[es] homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and other alternative lifestyle choices" -- an invocation of the depiction-equals-approval fallacy -- are imminent, despite his quoting of Bay that no specific curriculum is required. And Unruh immediately countered the above paragraph by writing:

Technically it is correct that the law doesn't "require inclusion." But opponents say it does now ban anything that can be "perceived" as being discriminatory, up to and including references to "mom" and "dad" or "husband" and "wife."

Unruh, of course, does not permit Bay to specifically address these claims -- perhaps because they are based purely on speculation and Bay would undermine that.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:41 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 9:43 AM EST
ConWeb Duels Over Global Warming Conerence
Topic: Accuracy in Media

For many months, NewsBusters has informed readers that when it comes to current events involving global warming, if you have any interest in learning the facts, or at least a close approximation of them, you must rely upon foreign press outlets.

What transpired on Saturday is a perfect example of this maxim: after the United States got virtually everything it wanted from the United Nations climate change conference in Bali, it gave in to a relatively minor demand from delegates of developing countries.


As NewsBusters mentioned yesterday, this was a HUGE victory for America and the Bush administration, as such nations have been refusing for years to participate in carbon emissions cuts. By holding to its position all day Friday, and threatening this conference with resulting in absolutely nothing after almost two weeks of deliberations, the U.S. forced developing nations to finally accept their responsibility in this matter. 

-- Noel Sheppard, Dec. 16 NewsBusters post

Our national “news” programs have been preoccupied with baseball players on steroids, but they should devote some attention to the Bush Administration’s approval of a plan to put the United Nations on steroids. Apparently looking to leave office with the blessings of the “international community,” the Bush Administration just sold out American interests at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.  


As usual, Americans will pay and get nothing in return. This time, it is worse―a U.S. administration is giving away our sovereignty to unelected bureaucrats and global elitists. 

-- Cliff Kincaid, Dec. 17 Accuracy in Media column 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:56 AM EST
Monday, December 17, 2007
No Bias, Just Hillary-Bashing
Topic: NewsBusters

Mark Finkelstein threw out some red meat for the Hillary-haters at NewsBusters in a Dec. 16 post, hurling all sorts of invective her way, asserting that she was "at her platitudinous worst," that she "exuded all the joie de vivre of an undertaker in a cold December rain," and concluding, "Can a presidential candidate so lacking in the basic tools of the politician's trade be successful?"

Finkelstein can certainly bash the heck out of Hillary if he wants, but how does this fit in with the MRC's purported mission of ferreting out liberal bias? (Unless, of course, Clinton-bashing is now an official MRC mission.) The excuse Finkelstein gave for his diatribe is that news outlets are being critical of Hillary or airing unflattering clips -- which contradicts the thesis of a new book by a certain MRC president.

Finkelstein bashed Hillary again in a Dec. 17 post, asserting she "was in full cackle." He then adds at the end, referring to his earlier post: "To those who might say I'm being unfair, criticizing Hillary for her mirthlessness yesterday and now for her madcap laughter today, I say let's hear it for authenticity . . . and the happy medium." We say the guy hates Hillary so much he's constantly on the prowl for any flimsy excuse to attack her.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:54 PM EST
Has Corsi Betrayed His 'Minutemen' Co-Author?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 15 WorldNetDaily article by Jerome Corsi features numerous figures in the Minutemen anti-immigration movement attacking Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist's endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. But Corsi offered no in-depth examination on controversies involving the Minutemen and the split between its two factions and fails to disclouse his own conflict of interest.

Nowhere does Corsi mention that he co-wrote a book with Gilchrist promoting the Minutemen's efforts. Further, while Corsi gave Gilchrist a chance to discuss the reasons behind his endorsement, they consititute only three paragraphs of Corsi's 23-paragraph article; the vast majority of the remainder are attacks on Gilchrist by others in the anti-immigraiton movement. That would seem to be a betrayal of sorts of Gilchrist by Corsi and a choosing of sides with Gilchrist's former Minuteman partner, Chris Simcox, whom Corsi prominently quotes attacking Gilchrist.

Corsi only lightly touches upon the split between Gilchrist's Minuteman Project and Simcox's Minuteman Civil Defense League, noting only that the groups "split two years ago over funding" and that they are "completely separate organizations of citizen volunteers seeking to curb illegal immigration."

But there's a lot more to the sitution than a "split" over "funding." As the Washington Post reported earlier this year:

Former leaders of the Minuteman Project accuse founder Jim Gilchrist, 58, of using $300,000 of the group's money to support his pet causes, including promoting a book he co-wrote and funding an unsuccessful run for Congress in a 2005 special election. Last month, saying they are the group's board of directors, they took over the Minuteman Project Web site and bank accounts, and fired Gilchrist as president.

Gilchrist fired back with a lawsuit accusing his former associates of defamation. He maintains that they have no standing to fire him from the California-based organization. He also accuses them of hacking into the Minuteman Project's Web site, stealing a donor database and pilfering his personal stationery, all of which the organization relies on to raise money.


This is not the first time the group has fractured. The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps has operated separately from the Minuteman Project since December 2005, after a bitter internal dispute over funding.

David Neiwert has more details on that 2005 dispute.

Meanwhile, Simcox is embroiled in his own funding controversy, as we've noted. Simcox's group has been attempting to build a border fence, promising to its funders that it would be 14 feet high and topped with razor wire. The fence the group has built, however, is a mere cattle fence-like five-strand barbed-wire fence.

WND has not previously reported on these controversies in detail, and Corsi's article appears to be the first instance in which WND has mentioned them at all. Since it looks like Corsi has taken a position against his old co-author, we may see more WND attacks on Gilchrist. But given the prominence that Corsi gave Simcox's attacks on Gilchrist, we may not hear a peep about Simcox's scandal.

In an apparent attempt to make up for all this Gilchrist-bashing, a Dec. 16 article by Corsi is devoted almost entirely to Gilchrist's point of view, in which he explains that his endorsement of Huckabee is conditional, "based on a tough understanding of the former governor's 'Secure America Plan' to oust all illegal aliens, or put them behind bars." But again, Corsi fails to note that he co-wrote a book with Gilchrist. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:45 AM EST
More One-Sided Reporting by Unruh on Homeschooling
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 16 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh uncritically repeats allegations made by a Utah woman who homeschools her children, telling only her side of the story without any apparent effort at verification or giving state officials a fair opportunity to respond.

Unruh reported that Denise Mafi claimed that a judge issued a "threat" that the state "would order her children taken away from her" over a homeschooling dispute purportedly centering on a paperwork issue. Unruh offers no evidence that he verified Mafi's claims; he merely notes that "A WND call to the prosecutor in the case did not get a response, nor did other judicial officials respond to inquiries about the situation." In other words, Unruh did not bother to wait until officials were available to tell their side of the story before publishing his one-sided article.

Unruh went on to liken these state officials to Nazis, stating that "such threats are becoming more and more common in Germany, but that nation still lives by a Nazi-era law that makes homeschooling illegal." This is in reference to a German case in which, as we detailed, Unruh similarly denied officials a fair opportunity to respond and treated homeschoolers' claims as unassailable fact.

Unruh has a history of this kind of unbalanced, unfair reporting, particularly on the issue of homeschooling; Unruh's own children are homeschooled, which makes him clearly biased on the subject (and apparently prone to likening anyone who disagrees as Nazis).

Posted by Terry K. at 1:05 AM EST

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