Ronald Kessler's Feb. 11 Newsmax column is an interview with the head of Washington's International Spy Museum -- which just happens to feature prominently in a book about Washington spy haunts written by his wife. Kessler's column is written in such a way to suggest that his wife's book was recently released; in fact, according to the Amazon page for it, the book was published in April 2005. The Amazon page also contains a blurb for the book from ... the head of the International Spy Museum. How convenient.
We can probably take some solace in that Kessler is keeping his fluffing in the family this time, as opposed to, say, Mitt Romney's wife.
Graham Called on Insensitivity -- By Hannity! Topic: Media Research Center
When Sean Hannity thinks you're being too insensitive, perhaps you are.
That's the situation Tim Graham found himself in when he appeared on the Feb. 8 edition of Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," in which he repeated his previous suggestion that David Shuster's stating that Hillary Clinton's campaign was "pimp[ing] out" Chelsea Clinton was something of a justified corrective of previous overly fawning coverage of Chelsea:
GRAHAM: I would say this, however, Sean. Let me disagree with you just a tiny bit. And that is, Chelsea Clinton now is 27 years old. She is not the 13-year-old that moved into the White House. And that problem that -- we have a much greater problem in the United States today, that she's been treated --
HANNITY: But wait a minute, Tim -- but Tim, to pimp out her daughter? You don't find that -- you know what? She's a young lady, and by all accounts -- I gotta be honest. She conducts herself with class, she seems like a nice kid. Leave the children of candidates alone. Leave 'em alone, even if they're campaigning. I think it's out of bounds. Leave Chelsea alone. I don't think it's fair.
GRAHAM: Well, the younger you are, I guess, the less you object. Maybe this -- he should have made this kind of comment on MTV News, and we wouldn't have heard about it. I'm simply saying that, in fact, Sean, the New York TImes, other media outlets have reported on Chelsea and during this campaign cycle with such an adoring tone, they really treat her like Saint Chelsea.
While Hannity didn't identify Graham as a conservative, per the template, Alan Colmes did, and noted the double standard he was following, as Graham continued to peddle his idea of a corrective:
GRAHAM: Well, there is a double standard. Keith Olbermann could come on and say Bush is responsible for killing 3,500 Americans. Or remember when he called Chris Wallace a monkey posing as a newscaster?
COLMES: Well, you want to change the debate here and make it about other people and that you conservatives are the poor, put-upon people. This was a knock at Chelsea Clinton by a reporter and a network you're claiming is left-wing and part of the MoveOn.org crowd. And yet it was a knock against the Clintons. Wasn't it John McCain who also did a joke and said she was the daughter of Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton, that's Chelsea Clinton, and of course he apologized for the joke. These are the things that conseratives are doing, it seems, to knock the Clintons.
GRAHAM: Well, David is not a conservative. I mean, I don't think -- everything you've looked at David Shuster saying in the past five years since he joined MSNBC or whatever, not a conserative. I mean --
COLMES: All right, but the point is --
GRAHAM: -- typical liberal journalist.
GRAHAM: I'm simply saying I think we do have way too much sensitivity toward Chelsea Clinton. The New York Times again -- this piece that Jodi Kantor wrote last year, where she sort of said, "People were so excited that her lips moved and sound came out." There's just too much worship there.
COLMES: Do you think it's appropriate, what David Shuster said? Are you going to defend his comments?
GRAHAM: No. I'm simply saying there's a hypersensitivity that we treat her like she's 13. I'm saying -- I'm agreeing with you. Why would you ban somebody for saying something like that when, you know, people in our public life --
COLMES: He should get his job back at some point. But Sean is right, that this is -- we shouldn't be going after the kids of candidates and people in office.
(Actually, Media Matters has a notable file on Shuster, contradicting Graham's claim that "everything" Shuster has said at MSNBC is liberal.)
By the way, the July 2007 Times article Graham complains about, while positive, is not nearly so fawning as he portrays. Still, Graham's boss, Brent Bozell, attacked it at the time as portraying Chelsea and Hillary as "two clones of Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way" and scoffed at a description of another Times article about letters Hillary wrote while a college student as "humanizing." The last thing Bozell wants Hillary to be thought of is having human qualities (as we've noted).
Graham continued the attack in a Feb. 10 NewsBusters post, claiming that Shuster's apology "underlines everything that's wrong in Chelsea coverage, the way that she is relentlessly used to offer hosannas to Bill Clinton as a parent (such a role model), not to mention her mother's willingness to stay in the marriage, hmm, perhaps in part due to her career aspirations."
So basically, Graham is saying what we've said about the MRC before: that they are furious whenever anyone says anything remotely nice about the Clintons.
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 11 WorldNetDaily column by Chelsea Schilling called Hillary Clinton a "clown" for having purportedly "cried three times to gain voter sympathy." Schilling claimed Hillary answered one questioner with "a pathetically contrived tremble" and anonther with "crocodile tears," as if she could divine Hillary's true emotions. Schilling also tosses out a casual smear of John Edwards as "Miss Sunshine Breck."
Schilling, by the way, is WND's assistant commentary editor.
A Feb. 11 column by Doug Powers, meanwhile, likens the Clintons to "that one couple that just wouldn't leave" your party, even when "it's 3 a.m., the food and drinks are all gone, the kids' piggy banks are missing, the wife's panty drawer has been pillaged."
the funny thing is, WND also has a column by Craig R. Smith in which he complained about "abuse" and " ad hominem attacks" -- on President Bush, of course, curiously ignoring his colleagues' abuse and ad hominem attacks on the Clintons. He writes, "I wonder if the Democrats have ever taken a moment out of hating George Bush to consider the long-term damage they will have inflicted on the presidency by attacking everything President Bush said or did," without ever acknowledging that people like him did the exact same thing to Bill Clinton during his presidency.
WND Gets Scooped on Farah's CPAC Panel Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah appeared on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Confrence over the weekend. While WND reported he would be there, with David Horowitz and Andrew Breitbart, "addressing the imminent threat to the First Amendment of 'Fairness Doctrine' legislation that will be introduced if Democrats recapture both houses of Congress and the presidency this fall," it has yet to report what he said. That means WND got scooped on its own story by CNSNews.com:
"I am hear [sic] to warn you of what is going to happen to the First Amendment if the Democrats retain control of both houses of Congress and if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama become president," said Joseph Farah, editor of WorldNetDaily, a popular Web site among conservatives. The First Amendment would be threatened, he said.
Speaking at the conference, which is sponsored by the American Conservative Union, Farah said, "Come January 2009, if Hillary Clinton is in the White House and Harry Reid is still running the Senate and Nancy Pelosi is still cleaning the House, they are going to pass a law bringing back the so-called Fairness Doctrine. It won't make a bit of difference if Barack Obama is president."
"They don't want debate, they don't want a multitude of voices ... they want control," Farah said. "That's what they think they will get if they get back the Fairness Doctrine.
"We are dealing with a neo-fascist mentality here," he said.
You'd think he'd be proud to share the details of his CPAC appearance with his readers. Apparently not.
Perhaps that's because Farah still wants you to believe that -- despite spouting conservative talking points at a conservative confab and even recently writing a "love letter" to his "beloved conservatives" -- that he's not a conservative.
Shocker: WND Prints Relatively Unbiased Article -- About Obama Topic: WorldNetDaily
How overwhelming is the Barack Obama phenomenon? Even WorldNetDaily has trouble getting cynical about it.
A Feb. 9 WND article by Art Moore on an Obama appearance in Seattle brought out what messaianic comparisons that would otherwise be blasphemous at WND:
If the messiah were to schedule a mid-workday appearance on short notice at Seattle's Key Arena, one could hardly expect much more than the 18,000 passionate souls who waited in line for hours before pressing the sports venue to its capacity yesterday, forcing several thousand more to be turned away.
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama eschews the savior language used to describe his campaign for the White House, but it seemed rather natural when he interrupted 50 minutes of occasional soaring rhetoric to toss a bottle of water to a fainting woman in the throng below, then calmly gave out orders to ensure she was well.
One day before Washington's caucuses – which suddenly gained heft following the virtual dead heat with Sen. Hillary Clinton on Super Tuesday – the freshman Illinois lawmaker thrilled a boisterous crowd that encapsulated the uncommon enthusiasm for a campaign many view as a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.
Aside from some grousing about a lack of specifics in Obama's policies, Moore was shockingly positive. WND rarely fails to ignore an opportunity to bash a Democrat -- indeed, it has already run severalarticles attacking Obama's pastor and his Chicago church -- and Moore himself is better known for whitewashing liars and felons who have anti-Clinton smears to peddle.
Does this indicate a sea change at WND? No, and here's why:
1) WND has pulled this before. WND had long bashed "Purpose-Driven Life" pastor Rick Warren, then Moore did a deferential three-part interview with Warren. The same day the final part of the interview was posted, WND editor Joseph Farah was bashing him yet again.
2) WND, if nothing else, is pro-conservative and anti-liberal, and its readers would not tolerate any deviation from that, as its poll of the day indicates. On the question "What do you think is causing such enthusiasm for Barack Obama?" the top answer by far is "He's been able to dupe countless Americans with empty slogans even though he's inexperienced and his policies would be disastrous for our liberty and security."
NewsBusters Loves To See Clintons Insulted Topic: NewsBusters
The folks at NewsBusters are speaking out on David Shuster's statement on MSNBC about Chelsea Clinton -- that it "seem[s] like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way" for her mother's presidential campaign -- and his subsequent apology and suspension. And they seems to sorta like the idea that Chelsea was smeared in this way.
Noel Sheppard couldn't be bothered to actually criticize the remark beyond calling it "over-the-top," as opposed to his claim that "MSNBC representatives make disgracefully offensive comments about President George W. Bush on a daily basis." Not that he offered evidence that this actually happens, mind you. (By the way, Noel, we're still waiting for you to put up or shut up about your smears of Al Gore.)
Tim Graham, meanwhile, seems to believe that Shuster's insult, though "rude," is something of a corrective measure that's entirely justified because "[t]he media spent the 1990s using Chelsea and Gore kids to improve the public image of the Clintons and the Gores." Graham fails to mention, of course, that Chelsea Clinton and Al Gore III were under 18 during the Clinton administration. Does this mean that Graham endorsed (if not heartily guffawed at) Rush Limbuagh's slam of the 13-year-old Chelsea as the White House dog?
This is just another example of how much the Media Research Center enjoys seeing liberals insulted, even as they howl when conservatives face similar treatment. After all, not only did the MRC defend Ann Coulter's right to call John Edwards a "faggot" last year, it invited her shortly thereafter to be a main attraction at its annual "Dishonors Awards" banquet.
MRC chief Brent Bozell, meanwhile, keeps up the double standard in his Feb. 7 column, taking purported offense that Barack Obama was "endorsed by MoveOn.org, the screechy hard-left group that distinguished itself last year by taking out newspaper ads denouncing our commander in Iraq as 'General Betray Us,'" and won a poll at thye "radical" Daily Kos, where among the tens of thousands of blog posts exists one that calls private security contractors in Iraq "mercenaries."
But Bozell's not bothered by Coulter's smears. Not one bit. He's probably chortling as we speak over Coulter's latest insult-ridden CPAC appearance. As is, we can presume, the rest of the MRC crew.
UPDATE: Indeed, a Feb. 9 post credited to "NB Staff" (though it reads like a Noel Sheppard work) calls Coulter's CPAC speech "marvelous." So I think we've confirmed that last statement.
UPDATE 2: John Stephenson merely found Schuster's remark "politically incorrect, and possibly derogatory"; is Stephenson waiting for details about about Chelsea's sex life to determine conclusively that it actually is derogatory? Noel Sheppard, meanwhile, plays the equivocation card, digging up a Keith Olbermann quote saying that President Bush "pimped out" Gen. David Petraeus for political purposes. Of course, Sheppard never addresses the substance of Olbermann's charge.
Posted by Terry K.
at 12:39 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 11:04 PM EST
Shapiro Misleads on Obama and Pakistan Topic: CNSNews.com
In his Feb. 7 syndicated column, reprinted at CNSNews.com and WorldNetDaily, Ben Shapiro claimed that Barack Obama "has suggested unilaterally invading Pakistan."
That's a distortion; Obama, in fact, said: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will."
By not including the full context of Obama's statement, Shapiro falsely suggested that Obama would "unilaterally" invade Pakistan without provocation. You'd think that the Harvard Law education he touts would have taught him better than to do that.
Kessler: From McCain Basher to McCain Fluffer Topic: Newsmax
Wow, that didn't take long.
It was just five days ago that Ronald Kessler used his Newsmax column to uncritically forward attacks on John McCain, calling him a flip-flopper," largely a creation of the media," "as liberal as a Democrat on many key domestic issues" and a candidate who "owes his victory to the New York Times and the Washington Post."
All is forgiven. Now that McCain is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee -- and, more importantly, now that his favorite fluffee, Mitt Romney, has dropped out of the race -- Kessler turns a 180 (flip-flops, if you will) and wholeheartedly embraces McCain. His Feb. 8 column begins: "John McCain made a sale at the Conservative Political Action Conference."
Kessler continued his fickle fluffing:
What was impressive about McCain’s speech was its sincerity.
He did not claim he would change his positions. He did not try to rewrite his own record, as he has in the past. He said he would listen to what conservatives have to say, and while he might change on some issues, he hoped they would understand if he does not. Finally, by avoiding specifics, the man in line to be the Republican candidate for president made common cause with conservatives.
McCain’s honest approach, coupled with the specter of what would happen if a Democrat became president, were enough to convince the leaders I talked with at CPAC’s VIP reception and elsewhere to support McCain.
Mentions of McCain's supposedly liberal views and affinity for the "mainstream media" are barely touched on. There's no mention at all of McCain's nasty temper, which Kessler has harped on previously. Even David Keene of the American Conservative Union, whose McCain bashing Kessler channeled three days earlier, professed his conversion to Kessler: "I think he approached it in the right way. He didn’t sound phony, he recognized problems, he basically said let’s talk, let’s see if we can’t work our problems out."
Because Kessler apparen't couldn't pass up the opportunity, he gets in one last bit of post-mortem Romney-fluffing for old times' sake. He claimed that Romney's "biggest problem was that he had to run both against his opponents and the mainstream media" and that "few stories mention that he is both a Harvard Law School and a Harvard Business School graduate," and suggested that Romney's choice of CPAC as his dropping-out venue echoed Ronald Reagan.
Kessler also stated that "Romney was the overwhelming favorite of conservatives and especially of strong conservatives." Guess we know what Kessler is now, don't we?
By contrast, fellow Newsmax columnist John LeBoutillier isn't quite so eager to give up his McCain-hating ways, declaring in a Feb. 8 column that "the damage Bush has done to the nation, the military and to the Republican Party will take decades to recover from" and that "Republicans — barring a miracle between now and the September GOP convention in Minneapolis — have picked yet another candidate with the exact same qualities!"
Unruh Repeats Anti-Gay Lies About California Law Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 7 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh keeps up his tradition of distorting to the point of falsehood a California law aimed at offering some protection for gays.
Unruh claimed that SB 777 "requires only positive portrayals of homosexual, bisexual, transgender and other alternative lifestyle choices." That is false. As we've detailed, SB 777 adds sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination laws as they apply to schools and requires that schools don't present material that "promotes a discriminatory bias" against those groups covered under the anti-discrimination clause.
Unruh also claimed that SB 777 "effectively banned 'mom' and 'dad' from California schools." He then contradicts himself, as he has done before, noting that "the law is not a list of banned words, including 'mom' and 'dad.'" As he has done before, Unruh allows opponents of the law to paint it in misleading, alarmist terms without allowing supporters of the law to speak or even quoting the law itself. Unruh further offers no factual basis for the opponents' alarmist claims.
As we've noted, Unruh worked for the Associated Press for nearly 30 years before joining WND, and would never have gotten away with the biased reporting he has cranked out for WND had he submitted it to the AP.
While WND has never had particularly high journalistic standards, the fact that a former AP reporter has sunk so low as to peddle such egregiously biased tripe demonstrates that real journalism no longer matters there (if it ever did), and it's agenda uber alles.
The teaser headline for a Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily article was this:
The "Mexican truck babe" is Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters. Nowhere in the article does Jerome Corsi call her that.
This sort of inventing things out of whole cloth -- with the twist here of being needlessly disrespectful and insensitive -- is just another example of the rapidly declining journalistic standards at WND.
CNS Ignores Full Story of GOP Earmarks Topic: CNSNews.com
A Feb. 7 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones states that "House Republican leaders say they are disappointed that Democrats have rejected a Republican call for an immediate moratorium on taxpayer-funded earmarks (also known as pork-barrel projects or wasteful spending)." Jones further paraphrased House Minority Whip Roy Blunt as saying that "it's clear that Democrats lack both the will and the appetite to work with Repubicans on an immediate earmark moratorium."
But nowhere does Jones note the Republicans' record on earmarks: As the Politico reported (h/t Media Matters), the Democratic-controlled Congress in 2007 actually approved fewer earmarks than Republican-controlled Congress did in 2006. Further, according to the Politico, while House Republicans have "become the most vocal critics of earmarks," the House Republican conference "blocked a proposal by its leaders to stop seeking earmarks" when the party was in power.
The Jones story follows in CNS' pattern of selective outrage over earmarks; as we noted, a pair of Jan. 24 articles by Lucas criticized earmarks related only to Hillary Clinton -- even suggesting backroom deals that he doesn't prove -- although Republican congressmen who are running for president have also inserted earmarks into federal spending bills.
CNS has noted the Republicans' record on earmarks before, however. A Jan. 28 article by Fred Lucas reported that "Bush never earned a reputation for fiscal prudence, having signed most of the heavy pork appropriations bills sent to him by the Republican-controlled Congress."
Romney Gone, Kessler Peddles Anonymous Hillary Smears Topic: Newsmax
Now this favorite fluffee has dropped out of the presidential race, and it's best that he stopsbashing the presumptive Republican nominee -- as his co-workers must now do -- Newsmax's Ronald Kessler has decided to peddle anonymous smears of Hillary.
WND's Unruh Keeps Up Anti-Gay Slant Topic: WorldNetDaily
Bob Unruh keeps up his misleading claims in service of his anti-gay agenda in a Feb. 6 article about a lawsuit against a sex education curriculum in the Montgomery County, Maryland, school district.
Unruh claimed that the curriculum "teaches students homosexuality is innate." But he doesn't tell the full context in which the reference appears -- as a Washington Post article noted, the judge who ruled to uphold the curriculum "said the school board's use of the term 'innate' was defensible, noting that it was couched in a much broader definition of factors that determine sexual orientation."
Curiously, Unruh does not use the word "conservative" anywhere in his article; he describes the Thomas More Law Center, which brought the lawsuit against the school district, only as a group "whose work is funded by donations," even though its causes -- "abortion, pornography, school prayer, and the removal of the Ten Commandments from municipal and school buildings" -- are indisputably conservative.
In keeping with the pattern of his WND reporting, Unruh quotes opponents of the curriculum at length but keeping statements attributed to supporters or school officials to a bare minimum, and he makes no apparent effort to contact school officials to give them the opportunity to respond to the opponents' claims.
Bizarrely, Unruh attributes information in the article to "the Portland, Ore., Examiner." Why is Unruh using an Oregon website for information about a story in Maryland? In fact, there is no such publication as the Portland Examiner; the Portland website is merely a city-themed portal -- of which there are many -- for Examiner newspapers that are located only in San Francisco, Washington and Baltimore.
The Examiner article from which Unruh apparently cribbed doesn't go into much detail about the "innate" question, but it points out what Unruh didn't -- that the lawsuit was brought by "a group of Christian conservatives." While Unruh pulled the more inflammatory quote from a member of the school board saying, "To the other side, I say get out of town, shut up, quit costing Montgomery County taxpayers money for litigation, and we're right and parents believe we're right," he doesn't acknowledge the school board member's other statement, that the opponents "speak for a minority. ... Many do not even live in the county."
(Updated to reflect Unruh's inclusion of the more inflammatory of the school board member's quotes.)
He danced the complete Kabuki, right down to the mandatory move about considering John McCain for his VP slot. But at the end of the day, Mike Huckabee has admitted the obvious: he'll take the Veep nomination if John McCain offers it.
Mike Huckabee won five races last night. Mitt Romney won seven. Mike Huckabee has 190 delegates. Mitt Romney has 269 [see results here]. The only closed Deep South state left on the primary calendar is Mississippi. Romney has the message and money to compete across the USA.
As a commenter noted in Finkelstein's first post: "What does this have to do with media bias? When did this site turn into the Romney propoganda site?"
Sheppard Retains Ability to Be Shocked by Non-Shocking Event Topic: NewsBusters
A Feb. 6 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard declares that the New York Times has done the "almost unthinkable" by printing a "surprisingly skeptical piece concerning man's role in the liberal bogeyman known as global warming" by John Tierney.
But as we pointed out the last time Sheppard did this (when he called a Tierney column "shocking"), Tierney is a conservative; thus, it's unsurprising that he would take the same denier point of view associated with conservatives such as Sheppard. Further, Sheppard continues to be unfamilar with the idea that newspapers like the Times regularly publish multiple points of view on a given subject -- unlike, say, NewsBusters.
And on a related note, not a peep from Sheppard thus far on our challenge to him to back up his claim that Al Gore is a global warming activist only for the money.