Ed Brayton examines WorldNetDaily's recent attack on the Bible Literacy Project curriculum -- led by an April 10 article by Bob Unruh and column by Alabama state Sen. Beason, who is an adviser for a competing Bible curriculum program, the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools -- for not being right-wing enough. Brayton calls WND's attack "false and illogical," taking quotes out of context and playing guilt by association by recycling ad hominem arguments and guilt-by-association attacks on Charles Haynes, one of 40 people that reviewed the project's content.
Surprisingly, WND published a substantive response to its attacks in the form of an April 15 column by Bible Literacy Project general editor Cullen Schippe. Schippe points out that WND's attacks are "deeply misinformed and contain falsehoods and misleading, out-of-context statements":
Despite Beason's insistence, "The Bible and Its Influence" has never been supported or endorsed by the ACLU or People for the American Way. This statement is absolutely wrong. Yet our course has never suffered a legal challenge, because it is widely acknowledged that it is both respectful of the Bible as a sacred text and completely First-Amendment-safe for public schools.
Beason argues that a reference to renowned Christian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" is irrefutable evidence of the Bible Literacy Project's promotion of communism. But the textbook, which explains the influence of the Bible on Western literature, history and culture, actually points out the murderous legacy of communism (page 65).
By the way, neither Beason nor Unruh disclosed Beason's status as an adviser for a competing cuirriculum in their articles. But then, WND has always had a problem with disclosing conflicts of interest.
By the way, Chuck Norris is also a promoter of the evangelical-leaning National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools; last year, we wrote about his having to walk back the claim (read: inadvertently telling the truth) that the goal of the program is to "get God back into your public school."
'Liberals Defend the Candidates by Attacking the Debate Moderators' -- But Bozell Did Too Topic: CNSNews.com
An April 18 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones noting criticism by "a liberal advocacy group" of moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos during the April 16 ABC Democratic presidential debate carried the headline "Liberals Defend the Candidates by Attacking the Debate Moderators." Nowhere did Jones note that such a tactic is not unusual -- conservatives also have criticized moderators and broadcasters of debates involving Republican presidential candidates when things did not go to their liking.
Indeed, Jones' boss, Media Research Center president Brent Bozell, did just that in his Dec. 4, 2007, column (also published at CNS), in which he attacked CNN over a Repubican debate.
Beginning by asking, "Is CNN capable and professional enough to host presidential debates?" Bozell insisted that "We can’t expect CNN to be an honest broker" because one questioner turned out to be "a Hillary Clinton supporter, and not just a supporter, but a man whose name was listed as part of the Clinton campaign’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Steering Committee." Bozell ominously added: "Shades of the Dan Rather Memogate story."
It’s a lose-lose for CNN. If somehow we were to accept that no one, absolutely no one at CNN knew this man’s political identity, what does this say about the professionalism of CNN? To believe that CNN didn’t know is to conclude that CNN is an incompetent news organization.
But ABC arguably pulled a similar trick on Obama during its debate, playing a question from a voter asking Obama "if you believe in the American flag" without disclosing that questioner was on record as opposing Obama in a New York Times article.
Her boss might not like it, but Jones shouldn't be pretending that only liberals criticize the media for political purposes.
Armstrong Williams Fluffs HUD Chief, Ignores Scandals Topic: Newsmax
An April 17 Newsmax column by Armstrong Williams is sycophantically complimentary of outgoing Housing and Urban Development secretary Alphonso Jackson, depicting the controversies surrounding him as unrelated to his performance:
In sports, coaches similar to Secretary Jackson are in tough positions. The team wins and the credit goes to the “star player.” Not the coach of course, but the home-run hitter, perfect shooter, or lightning-fast running back. However, if the team loses, it’s the coach that’s often attributed blame.
Washington is no different.
When Secretary Jackson’s initiatives led the nation towards its housing goals, he surely deserved coach of the year; but critics call foul once and the secretary’s vast, sometimes even record-breaking accomplishments are somehow passed over.
Williams claimed that "a recent [Washington] Post story blam[ed] him for the housing and mortgage crisis facing this country," going on to call the article "mean spirited and way out of bounds." In fact, the story doesn't do that but, rather, suggests that he made things worse because he did little to react to it:
In late 2006, as economists warned of an imminent housing market collapse, housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson repeatedly insisted that the mounting wave of mortgage failures was a short-term "correction."
He pushed for legislation that would make it easier for federally backed lenders to make mortgage loans to risky borrowers who put less money down. He issued a rule that was criticized by law enforcement authorities because it could increase the difficulty of detecting and proving mortgage fraud.
[C]ritics say an equally significant legacy of his four years as the nation's top housing officer was gross inattention to the looming housing crisis.
They contend that Jackson ignored warnings from within his agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose inspector general told Congress that some of the secretary's efforts were "ill-advised policy" and likely to put more families at risk of losing their homes.
Williams glancingly refers to "[t]he inspector’s general’s investigation into favoritism of Mr. Jackson and other allegations" but offers no further detail of the allegations. Williams also wrote that "sometimes his often shoot-from-the-hip remarks have gotten him into controversial waters and have alienated him from many of his would be allies." But he didn't mention that the two are directly linked: Jackson had claimed during a speech that he how he once had killed a contract award because the contractor had disparaged his friend President Bush, which set off an investigation into favoritism at HUD. Jackson is now facing a broader investigation into contract favoritism, especially after Jackson testified before Congress that he didn't intervened in contracts.
Toward the end of his column, Williams writes: "I must admit for full disclosure that Secretary Jackson has been a friend for many years and I’ve been fortunate to watch him up close and cover him in many of our media forums. However, my admiration for him doesn’t color my written or broadcast commentary." Yeah, right.
Klein Finally Reports Obama's Opposition to Hamas Topic: WorldNetDaily
Back in January, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein launched the first of his guilt-by-association attacks on Barack Obama, citing anonymous sources (remember what Klein's boss, Joseph Farah, has said about anonymous sources) purporting to be concerned that one adviser to Obama's campaign, Robert Malley, wants Hamas to be included in Middle East negotiations.
One thing Klein didn't report: Obama is opposed to negotiations with Hamas. From a March 3 Reuters article (h/t Media Matters):
Obama, hoping to win his party's nomination to face likely Republican nominee Sen. John McCain in the November presidential election, said his willingness to meet with foes "does not include Hamas."
"You can't negotiate with somebody who does not recognize the right of a country to exist so I understand why Israel doesn't meet with Hamas," Obama told reporters during a campaign stop in San Antonio, Texas.
Such a statement effectively discredits Klein's attempts to portray Obama as a support of Hamas -- yet Klein continued his attempts to connect the two, all the while failing to tell readers of Obama's opposition to Hamas. Articles by Klein on Feb. 24, Feb. 25, March 10, March 11, March 20, March 23, March 25, March 25, March 26, March 28, and March 30 all referenced Obama's purported guilt-by-association support of Hamas without reporting Obama's denouncement of Hamas -- or indeed, any indication Klein made an effort to obtain a statement from the Obama campaign regarding his stance on Hamas. Of course, if he had, Klein wouldn't have had anything to write about for several days.
A March 22 WND article reported Obama's statement that "Hamas is a terrorist organization, responsible for the deaths of many innocents, and dedicated to Israel's destruction, as evidenced by their bombarding of Sderot in recent months. I support requiring Hamas to meet the international community's conditions of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and abiding by past agreements before they are treated as a legitimate actor." But this article is unbylined, meaning it was not written by Klein.
This means that even after WND reported Obama's denouncement of Hamas, Klein wrote six articles trying to portray Obama as a Hamas supporter.
It's not until an April 14 article that Klein finally told his readers the truth: that "Obama called Hamas a 'terrorist organization' that should remain isolated until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel." Of course, this was in the midst of yet another guilt-by-assocation attempt to smear Obama as a Hamas supporter, this time by claiming that "Ahmed Yousuf, Hamas' top political adviser in the Gaza Strip" was endorsing Obama.
We've previously documented Klein's willingness to hide facts from his readers (i.e., the violent, extremist agenda of his right-wing buddies) in order to promote his political agenda. By hiding Obama's denouncement of Hamas for months while he was trying to paint Obama as a Hamas supporter, Klein shows just how desperate -- and dishonest -- of a "reporter" he is.
Speaking of WND's Anti-Gay Agenda ... Topic: WorldNetDaily
Almost as if to hammer home the fact of its (mostly) anti-gay agenda, an April 16 WorldNetDaily article repeats Bob Unruh's unsupported claim that the "Daily of Silence" is a "homosexual-lifestyle promotion." Indeed, if one is being silent, how can one be "promoting" a "homosexual lifestyle"?
The article goes on to regurgitate a Liberty Counsel press release alleging "complaints from parents and students about a wide range of misbehaviors or misrepresentations presented by schools" without detailing any of those complaints, thus making it impossible for anyone to verify (we're pretty sure WND didn't bother to do so, which it does whenever the story is too good to ignore; see Sinclair, Larry).
The Liberty Counsel press release concludes: "Please pray that students will be protected from forced indoctrination by GLSEN, especially next week, and that the truth will prevail." But it offers no evidence that "forced indoctrination" is, in fact, occuring.
New Article: WorldNetDaily's (Mostly) Anti-Gay Agenda Topic: WorldNetDaily
WND has no problem distorting and outright lying about gays and laws barring discrimination against gays. So why did it hire a man with a gay-porn past as a correspondent? Read more >>
Trippany Unhappy That Media Favors New News to Old News Topic: NewsBusters
In an April 16 NewsBusters post, Terry Trippany is upset that the media won't follow her conservative agenda and continue to bash Barack Obama over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, even though there has been nothing new to report on it for weeks, instead having the temerity to focus on something happening now, Pope Benedict's U.S. visit:
What better way to take the pressure off of Barack Obama’s Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy than to reignite the flames of the Catholic Church priest sex scandal? Finally, a target has appeared that is worthy of the left’s criticism and utter disdain. If only he had visited 2 or 3 weeks back.
Trippany moves on from that to being offended that nobody (read: nobody except conservative activists like herself) was bashing Hillary Clinton for her Elton John fundraiser when "six short months ago Elton John stood defending himself from charges of child pornography." Of course, he wasn't; he was merely the owner of a photograph taken by a respected photographer that had been seized from an art gallery on suspicion of being child porn. (It was ruled not to be.) But Trippany's conspiratorial overstatement machine ran wild anyway:
Don’t believe me? You can view the celebrated picture yourself on Radar online, a Web magazine that just happens to be run by Yusef Jackson (son of Jesse Jackson) and big time Clinton friend, supporter and contributor to Democrat causes and both Clinton campaigns, Ron Burkle.
Where’s the outage on that one?
Well, if we need some excess outrage (for Democrats, of course, never a conservative), we can always count on Trippany.
Puff Piece on Jenna Bush Not Puffy Enough for Blumer Topic: NewsBusters
In an April 16 NewsBusters post, Tom Blumer expresses his outrage that "what is supposed to be a puff piece" about Jenna Bush on the MSNBC website mentions that "she was twice charged with misdemeanors for alcohol-related offenses":
Not only did the classless [author Mike] Celizic decide to bring forth news of minor misdemeanors that is almost seven years old (note how he omitted 2001, the year of the offenses, when Ms. Bush was 19), he brought up nothing else about her time at UT.
So, for the record, Mike, here is what Wikipedia has that you didn't have the decency to include:
She attended the University of Texas at Austin where she was a legacy member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority (her mother, First Lady Laura Bush, is also a Theta).
..... Jenna graduated from UT with a degree in English in 2004.
Apparently, in Mike Celizic's world, telling readers about the noble things a daughter of George Bush has done is less important than citing the minor blemishes in her distant past -- even in a puff piece.
Shame on you, sir.
Only at NewsBusters, it seems, would being a legacy member of a college sorority be considered "noble."
You may recall that the ConWeb was way too eager to blame anyone but Jenna Bush herself for said alcohol-related offenses.
CNSNews.com, Newsmax (reprinting the CNS article) and WorldNetDaily all bite on a Judicial Watch press release, regurgitating its claims that Elton John's recent fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's campaign was illegal because John is a foreign national and prohibited from contributing to a U.S. presidential campaign. None of the articles makes an effort to contact Clinton's campaign or offer any contradictory view.
Further, none of the outlets mentions -- presumably because Judicial Watch didn't put it in the press release -- that John McCain held a campign fundraiser in London last month. As the Washington Post reported, an invitation sent out by the campaign says the fundraiser was organized "by kind permission of Lord Rothschild OM GBE and the Hon. Nathaniel Rothschild." Gee, sounds like a foreign national contributing to a presidential campaign to us.
Indeed, we could find no reference whatsoever to McCain's fundraiser on the Judicial Watch website. Is that because JW is slipping back into its old double-standard ways of attacking the Clintons and nobody else? Perhaps, since it knows that the ConWeb will just mindlessly repeat whatever Clinton-bashing it spews out.
The Capital Research Center's Matthew Vadum tries again to attack Media Matters (disclosure: our employer) in an April 15 NewsBusters post, claiming it's a "George Soros-funded character assassination factory" and insisting there is "powerful circumstantial evidence that suggests Soros funds MM at least indirectly."
Um, how can evidence be both "powerful" and "circumstantial"? Doesn't the fact that Vadum is resorting to circumstantial evidence to support his claim demonstrate that it is, in fact, not powerful?
Vadum claims regarding Media Matters chief David Brock's chairmanship of Progressive Media USA, a group separate from Media Matters that intends to criticize John McCain's record during the presidential election season: "At last he has publicly unmasked himself as a partisan political operative, as opposed to a mere liberal ideologue." Vadum doesn't note that the precedent for such "partisan political operative" activism was set by ... the Media Research Center:
MRC chief Brent Bozell served as chief fund-raiser for Pat Buchanan's 1992 Republican presidential bid.
CNSNews.com then-editor in chief Scott Hogenson spent the 2004 election year working for the Republican National Committee.
Vadum also serves up his own rather hilarious version of what Media Matters does: "Media Matters relies on what could be called a Leninist approach, complete with paid professional revolutionaries, in an ongoing effort to shame Americans who deal in ideas into embracing, or at least not opposing, their political agenda. This tack motivates the faithful and silences opponents." Huh?
Vadum also claims that Media Matters, "media content analysis ... mau-mauing the media into mouthing the politically correct platitudes that pass for profound insights on the far left." How is that any different from what the MRC does from the "far right"? Vadum doesn't say.
An April 14 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh repeats attacks by the anti-gay group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality on the play "The Vagina Monologues, repeating claims that the "radical feminist" play "celebrates a lesbian rape-seduction, underage drinking, and a lesbian adult asking highly inappropriate sexual questions to [a] six-year-old" Unruh also weirdly fixates on the idea that play author Eve Ensler is "identified in some reports as a bisexual"; the headline references the "[b]isexual's program."
Unruh does not report the context in which these alleged incidents occur in the play, let alone how it purportedly "celebrates" what it depicts. Nor does Unruh bother to talk to Ensler or anyone who defends the play. Unruh also fails to explain why the play is suddenly being attacked now when it has been around for 10 years.
The article also attacks Oprah Winfrey, "who has advocated for Democratic presidential candidate Baracak Obama and promoted a New Age religion in recent weeks too," for being a part of a celebration of the play, where she was "to perform a monologue written for her by author Eve Ensler." But the article offers no evidence that a monologue was "written for" Winfrey.
Unruh has a long history of writing slanted articles for WND that uncritically repeat conservative attacks, and this is just another one.
WND Works Its Terrorist Gimmick Again Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has been making use of Aaron's Klein trust-the-terrorist-to-reinforce-conservative-talking-points gimmick again.
An April 13 article by Klein quoted "Hamas' top political adviser in the Gaza Strip," Ahmed Yousuf, as calling Jimmy Carter a "noble person" whose planned meeting with Hamas would help the terror organization "engage with the world community." An April 14 article, headlined "Terrorists want this candidate to win presidency," featured Yousuf "express[ing] 'hope' Sen. Barack Obama will win the presidential elections and 'change' America's foreign policy" to right-wing radio host (and Klein buddy) John Batchelor.
Does Yousuf know that Klein, Batchelor and WND are using him as a pawn to reinforce conservative attacks against Democrats? How do they know Yousuf isn't using them to bring about the re-election of Republicans? After all, Osama bin Laden did exactly that in 2004 by putting out a message before the presidential election that was interpreted as an endorsement of John Kerry; CIA analysts agreed that "bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's [Bush's] reelection."
Waters Misleads on Gorelick Memo Topic: Media Research Center
Just as the folks at the Media Research Center continue to repeat the discredited claim that Richard Armitage was the first, or the only, person to leak Valerie Plame's identity, they take refuge in another canard: that Clinton Justice Department official Jamie Gorelick was the person who created the "wall" keeping the CIA and FBI from sharing information, thus allegedly contributing to 9/11.
In an April 13 "review" printed in the New York Post of Eric Lichtblau's book "Bush's War," Clay Waters repeats that canard again, stating: "[M]uch ardor is spent defending 'well respected' Clinton Justice Department official and 9/11 commission member Jamie Gorelick against Attorney General John Ashcroft's 'McCarthyesque' accusations. (Former Attorney General John] Ashcroft claimed a Gorelick memo helped build the 'wall' between intelligence officers and criminal investigators, preventing their sharing counterterrorism information.)"
Waters leaves out the context of Ashcroft's claim, as well as the problems with it. Aswe'venoted, the "wall" was created in 1978, not in 1995, when Gorelick issued a set of guidelines regarding it. Further, Ashcroft's own deputy attorney general formally reaffirmed Gorelick's 1995 guidelines just a month before 9/11. And the manner in which Ashcroft made his accusation against Gorelick arguably was "McCarthesque" -- through a document that Ashcroft had conveniently declassified for presentation during his testimony before the 9/11 Commission.
The Post, meanwhile, obfuscates over Waters' identity, stating only that he is "director of Times Watch, a division of the Media Research Center." Nowhere is it mentioned that the MRC is a conservative group, or that Waters' Times Watch is dedicated to attacking the New York Times, which employs Lichtblau, the author of the book Waters was ostensibly reviewing. Thus, Waters is hardly an impartial reviewer.
In an April 14 Newsmax column trying to paint Barack Obama as "an Ivy League snob, a left-wing elitist who thinks he is better than rural people," John LeBoutillier list among "recent events" that allegedly "paint a picture of a guy definitely out of the mainstream" the assertion that Obama "has refused to salute the American flag during the Pledge of Allegiance."
But LeBoutillier gets the attack all wrong. First, it was the national anthem, not the Pledge of Allegiance (as we noted, NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein originally got it wrong). Second, nobody is required to "salute" during the Pledge or the national anthem. Third, the bone of contention, per Finkelstein, is that Obama didn't put his hand over his heart (not "salute") during the national anthem (not the Pledge) -- something that is not required by federal law but merely suggested as customary. And even that claim about Obama is misleading.
P.S. Isn't it just precious to hear a Vanderbilt scion accusing someone of being an "elitist"?
Will Sheppard Hold His Boss To Same Standard He Holds Gore? Topic: NewsBusters
An April 12 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard bashed Al Gore because he gave a speech "with specific instructions for no press members to be allowed through the doors." Fair enough. But will he criticize his MRC boss for his involvement in an organization that loves to hide from the press?
Brent Bozell's own bio identifies him as member of the Council for National Policy, a group of the nation's most prominent social conservativves with a penchant for secrecy -- meeting behind closed doors at undisclosed locations, featuring speakers that include presidential whose words rarely leave the room they were spoken in. Reporters lacking ties to conservatives are not allowed through the doors, and those reports that are made public are limited to what CNP honchos want publicized; WorldNetDaily was a willing participant in that self-censorship, as we've noted.
If Brent Bozell can keep reporters out of his little group, why can't Gore keep reporters from his speech? Will Sheppard excoriate his boss for engaging in the same behavior as Gore?
As Sheppard himself might say, there's a metaphysical certitude that won't happen. As such, move along ... nothing to see here.