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Wednesday, April 2, 2008
CNS' One-Sided Attack on Critics of Anti-Evolution Film

An April 2 article by Kevin Mooney and Josiah Ryan is an attack on noted evolutionists Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers because of their criticism of the new anti-evolution film "Expelled."

Note the slanted language: Mooney and Ryan state that Dawkins and Myers "have managed to infiltrate private screenings" of the film and that Myers "managed to intrude upon a telephone press conference call the next day that included Ben Stein, the film's narrator, and the film's producers." Indeed, the article is told from the point of associate producer Mark Mathis; there's no evidence Mooney and Ryan made any attempt to contact Dawkins and Myers to get their side of the story.

Thus, the reporters give Mathis a forum to spin away criticism of his heavy-handedness in refusing to allow critics into pre-release screenings -- they uncritically repeat Mathis' unsupported claim that "for months Myers has been disseminating information through his blog about the film that is not accurate -- claims by Dawkins and Myers that, as Mooney and Myers write, "the film is edited and crafted in a duplicitous and misleading manner that misrepresents their views" and that the film's central thesis that pro-creationist viewpoints are being squelched conflicts with their refusal to allow critics to see the film.

Not only did Mooney and Ryan not bother to talk with Dawkins or Myers, they didn't even go the lazy route of pulling their version of events regarding the screening off their respective websites.

The reporters also serve up detailed conversation from the aforementioned "telephone press conference call" without explaining where they got it. Were they on the call too? Did Mathis give them a transcript? Of course, unmentioned by Mooney and Ryan is that Myers has told his side of the story for this as well, in which he points out that the "press conference call" was "carefully controlled" and questions were taken only by email, which arguably makes it not a "press conference" at all.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:32 PM EDT
WND's Magazine In Full Anti-Obama Frenzy
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The theme of the current issue of WorldNetDaily's Whistleblower magazine is (per its all-caps style) "THE SECRET LIFE OF BARACK OBAMA."  The introduction of a March 31 article plugging the magazine shows the hateful tone of it:

In a few short months, the young and relatively unknown politician Barack Hussein Obama may very well be elevated to the presidency of the United States and command the mightiest military in world history.

Would the eloquent and charismatic Obama unite, inspire and renew a troubled nation, as tens of millions of voters passionately believe? Or is it possible he's a Manchurian candidate – harboring an ominous secret agenda few understand, a man destined to wreak havoc on America should he become president?

Yes, WND came right out and said what Accuracy in Media only quasi-hinted at -- Obama's a Manchurian candidate. It further calls him "one of the most dangerous men ever to be considered for the presidency of the United States of America" and even suggests that he's a "closet Muslim." WND managing editor David Kupelian is quoted as saying:

Obama is a man who reflexively, instinctively, will side with what's wrong and harmful for America, and will oppose what's right and good and wholesome for America. It's uncanny. But this profoundly negative orientation is sugar-coated with a charismatic 'positive' persona and beguiling rhetoric. 

The contents of the magazine feature WND writers who have previously misled about and distorted Obama's record:

  • Obsessive Obama-hater Aaron Klein repeats his claim that the church Obama attends republished a "Hamas terror manifesto"; in fact, it was a Los Angeles Times op-ed.
  • Jane Chastain has previously claimed that Obama "received a suspiciously good deal on the home he bought – around $300,000 less than the asking price." In fact, the sellers of the house said Obama's bid "was the best offer" and that they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land.
  • An article suggesting that the Obama campaign is staging fainting events at Obama rallies -- a dubious assertion even NewsBusters has distanced itself from -- likens Obama to cult leader Jim Jones.

Remember, WND sells a bumper sticker that reads "Defeat Obama, Osama and Chelsea's Mama," so there should be no confusion about WND's agenda and eagerness to distort the facts in order to make the bumper sticker come true.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:40 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 2, 2008 11:36 AM EDT
Examiner Misleads on Conservative College Paper Incident
Topic: Washington Examiner

An April 1 Washington Examiner editorial claimed officials at Johns Hopkins University “first looked the other way in 2006 when hundreds of copies of the Carrolton Record, a conservative student newspaper, were stolen from the library, and then joined in the theft by banning distribution of the paper elsewhere on campus.”

As we noted when this issue first flared up, according to the Student Press Law Center, the Carrollton Record was not banned from distribution on the Johns Hopkins campus, as the editorial implies. A Johns Hopkins spokesman is quoted as saying that only official school publications (which the Record is not) may be distributed in the dorms, though enforcement of the policy appears to have been lax, and that “The Carrollton Record is welcomed to distribute ... at the usual places on campus where periodicals are distributed.”

The Examiner itself also reported this in a May 23, 2006, article.

The editorial also fails to mention that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is a conservative group. Given the obsession with the supposed evils of multiculturalism and “politically correct propaganda mills,” that is not a surprise, though it would have been nice (not to mention factually accurate) to call FIRE a “propaganda mill” as well, as Campus Progress notes.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:58 AM EDT
Mychal Massie Thesaurus Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his April 1 WorldNetDaily column, Mychal Massie drops the phrase "canopic jars of dependence."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 AM EDT
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Swirsky Repeats False Morris Claim
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In an April 1 Family Security Matters column reprinted at Accuracy in Media, Joan Swirsky, in trying to prove that Hillary Clinton "has a few screws loose, if not a few bolts, "repeated Dick Morris' laundry list of purportedly false statements by Hillary Clinton, the lead claim of which is "Hillary's daughter, Chelsea, was jogging around the Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (She was in bed watching it on TV.)"

In fact, Hillary did not make that claim, despite Morris' repeated assertions that she did; she said that her daughter had "gone, what she thought would be just a great jog. She was going to go down to Battery Park, she was going to go around the towers. She went to get a cup of coffee and -- and that's when the plane hit."

As we've noted, Swirsky has previously claimed that Hillary Clinton an "abused wom[a]n" who is not fit to be president because "It is in Hillary’s masochistic nature that once an abusive man apologizes or sweet-talks or threatens or charms or wields his real power, she will cave."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:19 PM EDT
Graham Parrots GOP Talking Point
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March 30 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham wrote that, in reponse to Democratic national Committee chairman Howard Dean's statement calling John McCain "a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years," "The GOP seized upon the term "blatant opportunist" to suggest that Dean is implying McCain is an opportunist for including his POW information in his latest TV ad, with the RNC demanding an immediate apology." Graham asserted, "Now it's the liberals who want to mock an 'opportunistic' focus on Vietnam biography."

Note those weasel words "suggest" and "implying." That's because Dean did not, in fact, call McCain a "blatant opportunist" for citing his Vietnam War record, as Media Matters points out.

Graham also misleads about John Kerry's military service, claiming he served only "three months in Vietnam." In fact, Kerry served in his first tour of duty aboard the USS Gridley in the Vietnam theater prior to his second tour of duty as a swift boat commander. That tour lasted 3 1/2 months until Kerry sought and was granted a reassignment, which he was eligible to do after receiving three Purple Hearts.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:47 PM EDT
'A Great, Great Grandson'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 31 WorldNetDaily article begins this way:

A great, great grandson of successful anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce is addressing the contemporary "slavery" issue, abortion. 

How do they know this person is a "great, great grandson"? The article offers no objective evidence of the man's greatness. He may, in fact, be merely an OK grandson.

Looks like WND needs to hire someone with a great, great -- or even just a basic -- knowledge of grammar and punctuation.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:19 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 12:21 PM EDT
WND Still Misleads About Terri Schiavo -- Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily is still taking sides in the Terri Schiavo case, continuing to repeat dubious accusations that boost the case of the Terri's parents, the Schindlers, and attack her husband, Michael Schiavo, while not giving Michael Schiavo or his attorney an opportunity to respond to them.

A March 31 article repeated a claim from February that "Terri's family ... in 2002 uncovered a report of a full-body bone scan done on Terri that indicated she had sustained several broken bones and led the interpreting radiologist to conclude she was the victim of abuse." 

But as we noted, one observer has pointed out that the radiologist's observations are "pure speculation"; indeed, "the radiologist does note this in the report by stating that the abnormal areas could also be caused by cancer, infection, or infarcts." 

The article also repeats the assertion that "Michael Schiavo was awarded a judgment of $750,000 for continuing care for his wife, but WND reported court records show he spent $456,816 of the total on lawyers pursuing her death." This ignores what was spent on lawyers on behalf of the Schindlers, which even anti-Michael activist (and former WND reporter on the case) Diana Lynne was forced to admit was in excess of $400,000, after writing disingenuously in her book of the Schindlers' side being only "a grass-roots effort." 

WND then falsely claimed that "Terri's death, however, was lauded by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in recent days." Obama absolutely did not "laud" Terri's death; not even WND offers any evidence to support that claim.

Most people would call that such an assertion libel. You'd think, having just admitted publishing false claims (and, presumably, paying a not-insignificant monetary settlement) to settle a libel suit, that WND would be a tad more cautious about such things.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 AM EDT
Monday, March 31, 2008
WND Reporter Still Distorting Schiavo Case
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Diana Lynne demonstrates herself once again to be what we already knew -- hopelessly biased on the issue of Terri Schiavo.

We've repeatedly documented how Lynne's reporting for WorldNetDaily and in a book about the Schiavo case skewed in favor of Terri's parents and against her husband, Michael Schiavo. She repeats the bias in a March 31 WND column marking the third anniversary of Schiavo's death.

In it, Lynne displays overtly the bias she was somewhat more subtle about in her WND "reporting." (Lynne no longer works for WND.) She once again attacks Michael Schiavo, claiming he "warehoused [Terri] in nursing homes and hospices for the next 12 years while he pursued her death," and lionizes Terri's parents, the Schindlers, promoting the foundation they founded as a "cause ... to help people with disabilities and the incapacitated avoid tragedies that reflect what Terri endured." 

The bio at the end of the column touts Lynne's book on the case a "powerful, comprehensive book on Terri Schiavo's life and death." That's false; we've documented numerous facts Lynne chose to ignore in her book.

This is all typical op-ed stuff. The difference is that this is written by a self-proclaimed reporter who skewed her "reporting" into advocacy of an agenda -- a big no-no among real reporters.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 PM EDT
'Scores of Obama Advisors' Are 'Anti-Israel'?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 30 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein heavily implies -- and outright states -- things that he can't prove.

He claims that the "anti-white and virulently anti-Semitic" New Black Panther Party has reposted an endorsement of Barack Obama on Obama's website, thus once again implying that  Obama has accepted the endorsement. Even Klein offrs no evidence of that, just as he offers no evidence that the NBPP itself put the endorsement (or a previous one Klein wrote about) on the site.

As we've noted, it's not that difficult for anyone to post an endorsement page on Obama's website; for all we know, Klein himself posted the page in order to write yet another Obama-hating article.

Klein then states that comments by an NBPP national chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz critical of Israel "follow recent reports highlighting the anti-Israel views of scores of Obama advisors." 

What? Klein apparently thinks Shabazz is an "Obama advisor." There's absolutely no evidence of that.

Klein also provided no evidence that there are "scores of Obama advisors" who are "anti-Israel" -- he lists only four, and most of those are tenuous at best. Among them is Robert Malley, "who has advocated negotiations with Hamas." Klein doesn't explain how urging negotiation with Hamas is "anti-Israel."

As we've documented, Klein hates Obama so much that he's eager to lie about and distort and smear Obama's record, and this article is just another example.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:58 AM EDT
ConWeb Silent on Questions About Its Favorite Ex-Terrorist
Topic: The ConWeb

The ConWeb loved Walid Shoebat when he surfaced in right-wing circles a few years back.

WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah featured him on his radio show (more than once) and wrote a fawning profile of him, a story that dovetails nicely with the typical conservative view of the Middle East:

Walid Shoebat, born in Bethlehem, began attacking Israelis when he was 8 years old, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.

He was, Shoebat says now, an Islamic terrorist in the making – a product of his environment, including schools, media and mosques that preached hatred of Jews.

"I never actually met any Jews," he said. "But in school we were taught from the Quran that they were pigs and monkeys.''

By 15, he had already served time in a Jerusalem prison for participating in an anti-Israel riot. While there, he was recruited into the Palestine Liberation Organization.

At 16, he was chosen to take a loaf of bread, packed with explosives, to blow up the Bethlehem Bank Leumi. His instructions were to place it in a garbage can near the door of the building. But seeing Arab children playing nearby, he decided to throw the bread on the roof where it did little damage.

He once blinded a man during a fight and was "so happy" to learn he was a Jew.

He was also involved in the near-lynching of an Israeli soldier. Though Shoebat and his friends took the soldier's gun and beat him, he managed to escape.

His motivation?

"I wanted to die as a martyr," said. "We were indoctrinated to look forward to heaven.''


Now Shoebat has turned his activism in a completely different direction. He calls himself a Christian Zionist, giving speeches around the country and in Canada, where he made an appearance this week. His ultimate dream, he says, is to go to Israeli prisons to teach Palestinian youngsters Jewish history – a dream he understands is fraught with danger from the people who think as he once did.

WND also spun travails with speaking events and getting into Canada his way. WND columnist Mychal Massie even cites him in an April 2007 column.

But WND isn't the only ones in the ConWeb to have promoted Shoebat:

  • Newsmax, in a lengthy July 2006 profile, declared him a "terror expert" and "a man with a tough message" -- "a former fundamentalist Islamic terrorist who, incredibly, reformed." It printed an interview with Glenn Beck touting that Shoebat would appear in a segement of his TV show called "Exposed: The Extremist Agenda."
  • An October 2006 article touted a speech by Shoebat and another former terrorist. A CNS "Fact-O-Rama" repeated highlights from Shoebat's bio.

But was Shoebat really the badass terrorist he claims to have been? The New York Times writes of Shoebat and two other purported ex-terrorists with whom Shoebat has done speaking tours:

Academic professors and others who have heard the three men speak in the United States and Canada said some of their stories border on the fantastic, like Mr. [Kamal] Saleem’s account of how, as a child, he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights. No such incidents have been reported, the academic experts said. They also question how three middle-aged men who claim they were recruited as teenagers or younger could have been steeped in the violent religious ideology that only became prevalent in the late 1980s.


Arab-American civil rights organizations question why, at a time when the United States government has vigorously moved to jail or at least deport anyone with a known terrorist connection, the three men, if they are telling the truth, are allowed to circulate freely. A spokesman for the F.B.I. said there were no warrants for their arrest.

The Times article also notes that the speeches by Shoebat and the others are little more than Muslim bashing and Christian prostletyzing; according to one critic, "It was just an old time gospel hour — 'Jesus can change your life, he changed mine.' ... That is mixed in with 'Watch out America, wake up America, the danger of Islam is here.' "

The Village Voice adds:

In response, the men have spent significant time trying to prove that they actually did kill people, and that they used to hate Jews as much as the next Muslim extremist. "I planted a bomb in a bank!" insists Shoebat, whose handler, Keith Davies, has threatened a libel suit against The Times over the article that questioned his claims.

That's right: Shoebat is claiming libel against anyone who says he wasn't a terrorist -- as Richard Bartholomew notes, the most absurd libel threat ever. Bartholomew noted that Shoebat has issued a similar libel threat against a blogger who claimed to have talked to a relative of Shoebat, who called his terrorist story "a manufactured fabrication," adding that "The biggest act of 'terror' he ever committed was to glue Palestinian flag on street posts."

It should be no surprise that the controversy over Shoebat's veracity can be found nowhere on the ConWeb. It's mentioned nowhere on the websites that have touted him -- WorldNetDaily, Newsmax or CNS -- even though the story first surfaced two months ago.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, March 31, 2008 1:25 AM EDT
Sunday, March 30, 2008
WND Anti-Gay Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 30 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh makes a big deal out of McDonald's "sign[ing] onto a nationwide effort to promote 'gay' and 'lesbian' business ventures" without explaining what, exactly, is so offensive about it.

Sure, Unruh does a lot of dog-whistle implying regarding McDonald's being a "corporate partner and organization ally" with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce -- Unruh calls the group a "special interest chamber" and "the 'gay' advocacy organization" which is "promoting the LGBT community first and always" and accused McDonald's of supporting "the agenda of the homosexual business lobby." 

Unruh even offers a list of what the NGLCC does, including "disseminate news and information central to the success of LGBT businesses, … ensure increased opportunity and equality for LGBT professionals, … help LBGT businesses gain more procurement opportunities, …. provide strong lobbying efforts for LBGT business causes." But where's the problem? Unruh never says, beyond the article's overall tone of hatred of gays as a whole.

Unruh makes a logical leap when he states, "Other corporate sponsors of the NGLCC include expected names such as Coors Light and Kodak, who have been leaders in advocating homosexuality." Again, he never explains how supporting gay-owned businesses equals "advocating homosexuality."

Unruh also stated: "WND reported earlier when Wal-Mart joined the NGLCC, and how the corporation's income later started declining as Christian organizations reacted to the news." In fact, in the December 2006 WND article to which Unruh links, the cause-and-effect is rather tenuous. In it, anti-abortion activist Flip Benham takes credit for Wal-Mart's post-Thanksgiving sales coming in "0.1 percent below expectations." The article describes Wal-Mart's tie to the NGLCC as an example of its "developing support for the 'gay' agenda" as well as that it has "not fired a homosexual marketing agency." 

What it appears that Unruh and WND, as well as activists like Benham, want to do is blacklist gay businesses. Is that really a responsible or moral thing to do?

Posted by Terry K. at 11:13 AM EDT
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Newsmax Flip-Flops on Media Ownership Conflicts
Topic: Newsmax

In a March 27 Newsmax column, Lowell Ponte notes that one of the private equity firms that has been negotiating a deal to buy radio giant Clear Channel Communications -- which also owns Premiere Radio Networks, syndicator of such consrevative hosts as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh -- is Bain Capital, co-founded by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Ponte writes:

These hosts never told listeners that a company Romney co-founded, and with which he was still involved, was signatory to a 2006 agreement to buy Clear Channel and that completion of this deal was in process during Romney’s presidential run.

Should these hosts tell their listeners about Romney’s tangential connection to the purchase of Clear Channel if bank funding is resolved and this buyout of the broadcast giant gets back on track — and if Gov. Romney becomes Senator McCain’s running mate?

Nothing in Mitt Romney’s potential involvement in this buyout is in any way whatsoever illegal or unethical. The same can be said for honorable Clear Channel hosts who spoke favorably of Gov. Romney.

But in our age of highly charged, hotly polarized partisanship, leftists have demonstrated an eagerness to turn even the tiniest molehill into a mountain of accusation against Republicans, and even against one another.

Caesar’s wife must be above even the slightest suspicion in our era of undue influence and strange political bedfellows.

By bringing light and ventilation to Bain Capital’s and Mr. Romney’s role (if any) in the Clear Channel buyout, we can give McCain more freedom to consider Gov. Romney as a potentially excellent running mate.

Newsmax wasn't so magnanimous when faced with the opposite situation.

As we've noted, back in 2000 Newsmax was absolutely offended that one investor in the company that owns the National Enquirer is "Clinton confidant and one-time Whitewater figure Roger Altman." Citing stories that made Republicans look bad whose facts it didn't dispute, Newsmax huffed: "Watch for the liberal media food chain at work. ... Smear stories in tabloids that bounce up to the networks."

Of course, Newsmax has some tabloid-esque tendencies -- witness Ronald Kessler's endless Obama attacks -- and serves that exact role in the conservative media food chain, promoting "smear stories" that "bounce up" to talk radio and Fox News. And it considered those very same tabloids a reliable source of information when they reported scandalous information about Democrats.

Newsmax in 2000 wasn't calling anyone at the National Enquirer "honorable" or pointing out that their ownership by a former politician was not "illegal or unethical." And it most definitely was trying to turn "the tiniest molehill into a mountain of accusation."

Back then, Newsmax wanted to highlight a media ownership issue to attack it. Now, a Newsmax columnist wants to highlight the issue in order to whitewash it.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:21 AM EDT
Friday, March 28, 2008
Speaking of Corrections ...
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March 28 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham makes a big deal out of liberal blog Think Progress correcting an "inaccurate smear" of John McCain. If Graham and NewsBusters are so big on accuracy, let's see NewsBusters correct the record on the following:

-- Writing about controverisal remarks made by Barack Obama's pastor, John Stevenson wrote, "Don't expect Obama to repudiate these remarks." In fact, Obama already had.

-- Numerous NewsBusters writers have claimed that, in the words of Richard Newcomb on March 6, "it was State Department hack Richard Armitage who actually first mentioned [Valerie] Plame's name." In fact, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby also leaked Plame's identity to reporters; Armitage's leakee, Robert Novak, was merely the first to go public with it.

-- Noel Sheppard's numerous false assertions that Al Gore is a global warming activist only for the money.

-- Sheppard's false claim that "at the beginning of January, just hours before the New Hampshire primary, and days after a devastating loss to Sen. Barack Obama in the Iowa caucuses, Democrat [sic] presidential candidate Hillary Clinton teared-up in front of the camera." She didn't.

-- Scott Whitlock falsely claimed that author Steven Dubner "Touts Abortion as a Way to Reduce Crime." In fact, his research has merely noted that the legalization of abortion reduced overall crime rates.

-- Kyle Drennen accused CBS' Harry Smith of "sounding like a liberal conspiracy theorist" and "reminiscent of left-winger Rosie O’Donnell" for "question[ing] the authenticity of an audio tape of the confrontation between U.S. and Iranian ships on January 6," even though the Pentagon itself has backed away from the implication that the voice on the tape unquestionably came from an Iranian ship.

That's just this year. We're still waiting for NewsBusters sister site to apologize to Paul Begala for falsely claiming in 2005 that he said Republicans were trying to kill him and his family.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:01 PM EDT
Navrozov Misstates NY Times Circulation
Topic: Newsmax

In a March 27 Newsmax column, Lev Navrozov stated: "In 1993, The New York Times had 757,000 readers, and by 2006, the number fell to 529,000."

That's misleading; those numbers are the Times' daily circulation only in the New York metropolitian area. The Times' total circulation has changed relatively little (not for Navrozov's purpose of attacking them the Times as a dying newspaper, anyway), hovering around 1.1 million during that same time period, as the Times shifted to more of a national focus. Circulation of the Sunday Times declined from 1.7 million to 1.6 million.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:29 AM EDT

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