A May 30 NewsBusters post by Brad Wilmouth uncritically repeats Karl Rove's claim that Richard Armitage "was the actual leaker" of Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.
As we've detailed when NewsBusters has previously made this claim, Rove did discuss Plame's identity with reporters prior to Robert Novak reporting it in July 2003. Armitage was Novak's main source, but Rove confirmed it to Novak.
Kincaid Works Commies Into Anti-McClellan Conspiracy Topic: Accuracy in Media
Like that kid in "The Sixth Sense" who sees dead people, Accuracy in Media sees communists. So it's no surprise that Kincaid works up a commie angle as his contribution to the conservative war against Scott McClellan.
In his May 29 AIM column, Kincaid claims that because the publisher of McClellan's book, Peter Osnos, once worked for liberal journalist I.F. Stone, McClellan is obviously "reading from a script prepared by Osnos & Company and the far left." Kincaid adds:
Osnos is the key to understanding the network that is working behind-the-scenes. A former national news editor of the Post, Osnos was an assistant to I.F. Stone in the 1960s. Stone postured as an independent radical writer but was exposed as a Soviet agent in the transcripts of Soviet messages known as the Venona intercepts and by other sources.
Former Soviet KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin had identified Stone as a Soviet agent, but under pressure from Stone’s friends in the media later backed away from that precise description. However, in his book, The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West, Kalugin still identified Stone as a “fellow traveler” of the Soviet Union who “made no secret of his admiration for the Soviet system” over a period of many years and had regular contacts and lunches with him.
But Kincaid fails to acknowledge that the alleged evidence linking Stone to work as a Soviet agent is dubious at best.
Kincaid's claim that the Venona transcripts "exposed" Stone as a Soviet agent apparently comes from his buddy Herbert Romerstein, which whom Kincaid penned an article purporting to link Barack Obama to various commies (which WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi ate up without bothering with journalistic niceities like fact-checking). As the New York Times points out:
Charges against Stone, who died in 1989, first surfaced seven years ago, when Oleg Kalugin, a retired K.G.B. general, implicated Stone as having been a Soviet agent. The allegation was received skeptically, and Kalugin subsequently denied it, saying that Stone was merely a friendly "contact" of the K.G.B.'s. But Romerstein -- drawing on the Venona documents -- argues that Stone had a relationship during the Second World War with a K.G.B. agent named Vladimir Pravdin who served as a TASS correspondent in Washington. In 1944, according to Romerstein, Pravdin cabled his superiors in Moscow that Stone, whose code name was "Blin" -- the Russian word for pancake -- would continue to talk to him only if he were paid. Stone and Pravdin continued to meet, which proves to Romerstein's satisfaction that Stone must have been paid.
Stone, who had no access to classified information, can't have been an important agent, if he was indeed a Soviet agent of any kind. But he is a crucial figure to Romerstein precisely because he remains an icon to those Romerstein sees as the legatees of the Popular Front. To show that a hero of left-wing journalists, prized for his incorruptibility and "independence," was in fact a paid Soviet informant is to strike close to the heart of the enemy.
Romerstein is decidedly politially motivated to smear Stone, as well as obviously an obsessive anti-Communist, which arguably taints his claims.
Meanwile, Eric Alterman adds: "Despite continuous FBI surveillance of Stone's daily activities and a dogged desire by J. Edgar Hoover to nail him for something, not a single shred of evidence ever emerged to support any spy allegations against him." Alterman further states:
If ex-post facto anonymous FBI conclusions are correct, Stone, a working journalist, had lunch with the Tass correspondent in 1945, back when the United States was still nominally allied with the Soviet Union, having no way of knowing the man's secret identity as a KGB agent. Later, during the 1960s, he had occasional lunches with the Soviet press attaché, who, also unbeknownst to him, turned out to work for the KGB. Remember, it's a journalist's job to seek information and trade opinions with representatives of foreign governments. Remember, Izzy had no access to classified information whatever. Remember, the FBI hounded him for decades seeking to find something to pin on him and found nothing. They could not even connect him in any way to the Communist Party of either the United States or the Soviet Union, though they tried mightily.
What's more, in order to make it appear as if [Myra] MacPherson [author of a biography of Stone] has “hanged” Stone, [reviewer Paul] Berman ignores the following, which appears in exactly the same paragraph in the book that he finds so damning: "Did he [Kalugin] have actual information that Stone had ever cooperated with Soviet intelligence? 'No.'" Kalugin said Stone “was just useful like dozens of other [journalistic] contacts.” When Paul writes that Stone would "perform tasks" -- that is, "find out what the views of someone in the government were or some senator on such and such an issue" -- he does not note that Kalugin cannot remember a single thing of importance that Stone might have said. Stone, said Kalugin, was merely "on the fringe" and "just useful, like dozens of other [media] contacts I had." In contrast, he averred to MacPherson, "I knew one guy from Time magazine, for instance. That was a big thing." Kalugin also offers up his opinion that Stone "was a true liberal and not a Communist ... He would not hurt or damage the United States."
For Kincaid to continue to insist that Stone was unambiguously a Soviet agent is to repeat a false claim. Perhaps Kincaid needs to adjust his meds so he's not seeing commies where they don't really exist.
WND Joins the Anti-McClellan Conspiracy Topic: WorldNetDaily
A May 29 WorldNetDaily article rehashes claims that "Billionaire George Soros, funder of elite causes and critic of most things conservative, has been linked by a blogger to former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's hate-Bush book" through his alleged involvement with the parent company of the book's publisher. But WND, like the MRC's Brent Baker before it, fails to offer any actual evidence that Soros had any direct involvement with McClellan's book, nor does it mention that the publisher, Perseus Books Group, also runs the Basic Books imprint that has published numerous books by conservative authors.
Speaking of Baker, a May 30 NewsBusters post by him rehashes some of his previous claims about the book's publisher while again failing to mention the conservative books Perseus publishes. Baker also calls McClellan's book an "anti-Bush screed" while not exhibiting any evidence that he has actually read it, let alone proving any claims in it are false.
Weyrich Repeats Misleading Attack on Bible Textbook Topic: Free Congress Foundation
A July 29 column by Paul Weyrich, reprinted at Newsmax, repeats a misleading attack on the Bible Literacy Project and its textbook "The Bible And Its Influence." As we noted, WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh wrote an attack on the book in April, based almost entirely on accusations made by Alabama state senator Scott Beason. WND also published a column by Beason, which Weyrich cites (and apparently based his column on).
Weyrich fails to mention that WND also published a response to Beason by Bible Literacy Project general editor Cullen Schippe, who counters many of Beason's claims, pointing out that they are "are deeply misinformed and contain falsehoods and misleading, out-of-context statements." For instance, both Beason and Weyrich overly focus on one consultant for the book, Charles Haynes. But as Schippe pointed out, Haynes was just one of 40 reviewers of the book.
Further, like Unruh and WND, Weyrich failed to mention Beason's status as an adviser for a competing Bible cuirriculum, as Schippe also pointed out.
Weyrich said he "endorsed the [Bible Literacy] Project," then added: "Now that I have been made aware of what this Project is really about, thanks to Sen. Beason, I hereby withdraw my endorsement. Once again liberals stole what began as a worthwhile initiative. This is worse than public schools without God." Weyrich might want to try getting the actual facts before bailing out.
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein's anti-Obama article count is now up to 33 (versus just one attacking John McCain) with twoarticles on controversial comments made by what Klein claims is a "spiritual adviser" to Obama.
By contrast, Klein has never reported on controversial comments made by McCain spiritual adviser John Hagee -- even moreevidence that Klein is acting as an anti-Obama, pro-McCain partisan rather than an objective reporter.
Here's the lead of a May 29 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones:
With a straight face Thursday morning, Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said he wrote his critical and unflattering book about the Bush administration, believing that it "might help move us beyond the destructive partisan warfare" in Washington.
Does Jones have any evidence to suggest a reason McClellan wouldn't speak with a straight face? She doesn't offer any in her article, which suggests she doesn't have any -- which further suggests she's dishing out a partisan attack against McClellan, and the suggestion is lying is one she shouldn't be making at all.
The MRC's attacks on Scott McClellan's new book have been in line with conservative talking points -- he's bitter, the liberal media is biased, pretending that the uniform talking points weren't coordinated, etc.
But it took a big leap toward the conspiratorial with a May 29 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker, in which he asserts that McClellan's publisher, Public Affairs Books, "has a roster of authors who are nearly all liberals and/or liberal-leaning mainstream media figures, including six books by far-left bank-roller George Soros," and the imprint's publisher, Peter Osnos, "pens a weekly column for the left of center The Century Foundation," where he once "denounced Rush Limbaugh as “bombastic, aggressive, and mean." Further, Baker adds:
PublicAffairs is part of the Perseus Books Group, which also owns Nation Books, “a project of The Nation Institute” which publishes the magazine of the same name, and Vanguard Press, whose home page now features The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a new book by Vincent Bugliosi that “presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq.”
What Baker doesn't tell you: Perseus Books Group also owns Basic Books, a conservative imprint that has publishedseveralbooksby William F. Buckley Jr., as well as titles by Dinesh D'Souza, Linda Chavez, and DavidFrum, as well as "a conservative manifesto" that aims to "save the environment from the environmentalists" and a book that paints Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential run as "one of the major political turning points of the twentieth century: The policy positions and electoral strategies of that campaign have become standard tenets of Republican politics."
(Sadly, No! serves up a summation of Baker's post here.)
So the idea that Perseus is exclusively a left-wing publisher is bogus, as if that has any bearing on the accuracy of information presented in McClellan's book. Still that didn't keep Mark Finkelstein from asserting in a May 29 post that "there's every reason to wonder whether Soros isn't behind McClellan's manifesto."
Meanwhile, on a somewhat less conspiratorial note, Alex Koppelman at Salon shoots down a May 28 NewsBusters post by Rich Noyes complaining that the memoir by Ari Fleischer, another former Bush press secretary, did not get comparable media attention to McClellan's because "Fleischer did not take pot shots at his former employer, but did include some telling examples of the liberal bias of press." Koppelman writes:
Noyes says that "TV coverage the week after Fleischer’s book was released was limited to just eight interviews, none given that much prominence." It's an odd take, because according to Noyes Fleischer appeared on all three major cable news networks -- specifically, he appeared three times on Fox News, the highest-rated news network, and twice on runner-up CNN -- and on two out of the three network morning shows, which are a plum spot. Most authors would commit unspeakable acts for that kind of coverage.
As so often happens when people with little or no experience in the actual news business criticize it, the critics' lack of knowledge has led to a fundamental flaw in their argument. A former White House press secretary coming out and slagging his former boss and former colleagues is news, especially when he offers revelations about the workings of the White House. That's why McClellan's book has gotten so much coverage, and the same thing would have happened in the Clinton administration.
Fleischer's book, too, was devoid of any new information of real substance. In a biting review of it for the New York Times, critic Michiko Kakutani wrote that the book was "essentially a collection of talking points hastily pasted together with large slatherings of the vitriol and exasperation the author seems to have accumulated ... It's an extended exercise in Mr. Fleischer's spinning his own earlier spin."
In other words, Noyes is complaining that a book making newsworthy revelations is getting more attention than a book that didn't.
New Article -- Clinton Derangement Syndrome: The Evidence Topic: The ConWeb
Hillary Clinton's presidential run has inspired the ConWeb to spew all manner of hatred at her and her husband (again). Read more >>
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his 31st WorldNetDaily article attacking Barack Obama (versus just one attacking John McCain), Aaron Klein claims in a May 28 WND article that "inconsistencies remain regarding the much-touted military service of the presidential candidate's family."
Klein has not applied a similar level of scrutiny to gaffes made by McCain -- yet moreevidence that Klein is acting as an anti-Obama, pro-McCain partisan rather than an objective reporter.
UPDATE: It appears that Klein is sleazing his way down the right-wing blog chain for his Obama smears now. Sadly, No! reports that Dan Riehl (best known for his false smears of S.R. Sidarth) and Sweetness and Light are on this story as well. This does comport with Klein's recent reliance on right-wing blogs to fuel his Obama dirt.
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch Topic: Media Research Center
A May 28 appearance by the MRC's Brent Bozell on "Fox & Friends" gives Bozell an opportunity to spout the conservative line on Scott McClellan's new book ("he's bitter and he's cashing in.") While Bozell appears opposite radio host Mike Papantonio (with whome he has appeared before), the incomplete clip on NewsBusters (which edits out Papantonio) shows that "Fox & Friends" adheres to at least one part of the template: Papantonio is introduced as a "Barack Obama supporter" while Bozell is introduced only as "Media Research Center founder and president" with no mention of his conservative leanings.
Aaron Klein's anti-Obama article tally is up to 30 now (as opposed to just one article critical of John McCain). This time, Klein gleans from right-wing blogs for his attacks.
The first article details how Obama "has been caught in an apparent gaffe" over which relative helped to liberate which Nazi concentration camp; Klein cites three different right-wing blogs to support his claim. Klein did not note that McCain has made verbal gaffes as well -- given that they involve things like foreign policy and defense rather than personal anecdotes, McCain's are arguably more serious.
Klein's second article rehashes an alleged deletion of a sentence of a speech Obama gave from a transcript on Obama's website -- also plucked from a right-wing blog.
Klein's reliance on right-wing blogs for Obama-bashing story ideas is just moreevidence that Klein is a biased writer with an anti-Obama agenda.
UPDATE: Media Matters offers a compedium of McCain's gaffes on foreign policy, which WND has largely ignored.
Huston Rants Against Garrison Keillor Topic: NewsBusters
Warner Todd Huston uses a May 28 NewsBusters post to rant against "A Prairie Home Companion" host Garrison Keillor over his inability, as expressed in a recent newspaper column, to understand what is inherently patriotic about riding a motorcycle. Despite attacking Keillor's column as a "screed," Huston was in full screed mode himself, referencing "Lake Blowbegone" and calling Keillor a "pseudo-intellectual" wfho associates with "tea-drinking, pinky finger lifted, emasculated, lefties." (Of course, a "psudo-intellectual," unlike Huston, would know that putting a comma after "emasculated" is grammatically incorrect.)
If Huston want to do some, you know, actual research into Keillor, he might want to check out last Saturday's edition of "A Praire Home Companion," in which Keillor devotes the "News from Lake Wobegon" to Memorial Day and reads a moving Memorial Day sonnet -- both done in ways that even Huston might approve.
Has Jerome Corsi Ever Actually Listened to the Decemberists? Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily blunders in late to the Obama-Decemberists party, in the form of a May 27 article by Jerome Corsi that begins: "A hip rock band that features the Soviet national anthem and communist-inspired lyrics was on stage to open for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama at his record-breaking Portland, Ore., rally that attracted 75,000."
We suspect that Corsi has never heard of the Decemberists before this mini-controversy erupted and wouldn't know a "hip rock band" if one walked up to him and gave him a Masonic handshake.
Corsi rehashes Robert Knight's errant assertion that people at a Portland rally at which the Decemberists played before an Obama speech were there to see the band, not Obama. Corsi counters the claim that the band is "a relatively unknown independent folk-rock group that plays small clubs at local Portland nightclubs" by noting that "the band has appeared on national television."
Corsi also went on to play WND's favorite game, guilt by association, asserting that "What remains undisputed is the group's pro-communist image" and noting the band's "unfinished song with communist-style lyrics" endorsing Obama (though Corsi never explains what "communist-style lyrics" are supposed to be).
Shouldn't a writer who criticizes a band's music have actually listened to that band before issuing his criticism? Corsi shows no evidence that he has -- or that he has ventured beyond conservative blogs for the information he threw in his article.
Apparently, Joseph Farah and John Hagee are not friends anymore.
In his May 27 WorldNetDaily column, Farah surprisingly throws Hagee -- who, as we noted, Farah has described as "my friend," who has written a column for WND and whose books are available for sale at WND's online store -- under the bus over Hagee's assertion that Hitler was doing God's will to get Jews to move to Palestine. Farah begins his column this way:
John Hagee certainly has some unusual ideas.
I'm glad he no longer writes for WND, as he once did regularly, because upon learning he believes Adolph Hitler was God's instrument to get the Jews back to the Middle East, I would be sorely tempted to discontinue his column.
For once, I can't fault John McCain for rejecting his endorsement.
Farah then quickly moves on to defend another evangelical pastor whose endorsement McCain has flip-flopped on -- Rod Parsley:
Parsley, pastor of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, stands accused of calling Islam an "anti-Christ religion." He is also quoted as saying he would like to see "this false religion [Islam] destroyed." He also described Islam's prophet Muhammad as "the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil."
To which I say: "Yeah, where's the controversy?"
Look, I know WND has Muslim readers around the world. I hear from many of them who agree with me on many of my positions. But, when you get right down to basics, I am a Christian who believes in the Bible. And the Bible tells me that all religions not biblically based are false religions and anti-Christ religions that need to be destroyed.
That's not to say we believe in destroying the human beings. Christians seek to convert Muslims to Christianity by sharing the Gospel of love and forgiveness.
As to Muhammad being "the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil," I would have to agree, again. All false religions, by definition, are evil to biblical Christians. That's what the Bible says.
Farah also says, "In fact, the only disagreement I would have with Parsley is in his endorsement of McCain!"
Farah goes to great pains to differentiate Hagee and Parsley:
It's one thing to reject and marginalize Hagee for what he said, which startled me in its crude insensitivity and questionable biblical analysis. It's another thing to take the same approach to Parsley, whom, I believe is expressing the spiritual convictions of the vast majority of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians in America – as well as the Bible they revere.
While Farah fulminates about McCain in his column, it's important to remember that WND has never done a news article about the controversial statements made by either Hagee or Parsley -- which plays into WND's de facto pro-McCain agenda, however much Farah disingenuously denies he's helping McCain.
Even though Farah appears to be throwing Hagee under the bus here, WND's virtual blackout on the controversy over Hagee's words demonstrate that Farah and Hagee may still be at least somewhat buddy-buddy after all -- enough to work parallel on a shared anti-Obama agenda, anyway.
WND Repeats False Attacks on Day of Silence Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's habit of repeating claims without bothering to verify them for accuracy frequently comes back to bite it (see Jones, Clark, and Sinclair, Larry).
A May 19 WND article by Chelsea Schilling unquestioningly repeated anti-gay group Mission America's claims about its attempts to, as the headline asserts, "squash" the Day of Silence event designed to show support for gay students victimized by violence and bullying (we've previously noted that Schilling asserted without evidence that the event is "pro-homosexual"). Schilling went on to detail "some incidents that took place during the silent protests and were reported by Mission America," making no apparent attempt to fact-check Mission America's claims.
Well, somebody did fact-check those a couple of those claims -- Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor popular in conservative circles whom WND approvingly quoted earlier this month in the midst of attacking gay activist Wayne Besen. Throckmorton didn't like what he found.
Schilling wrote, apparently cribbing straight from Mission America:
Kirksville, Mo.: A parent told Mission America that the Kirksville High School principal and superintendent laughed when she asked if her child could be excused from participating in the school's Day of Silence. According to the organization, she said, "They called me a narrow-minded bigot and refused to give excused absences."
Curious, I called the Kirksville High School Superintendent of schools, Pat Williams about the allegation of name-calling. When I read the account to him, he said, “That’s absolutely false. I did not use that language with any parent or in response to any inquiry.”
He told me that a couple of parents called to express disagreement with the Day of Silence and one mother met in person with him but he did not express any judgment about the mother’s views. He further explained that the matter of an excused absence would be at the discretion of the building principal.
Randy Michael, principal of Kirksville High School also took strong exception to the Mission America source. He said flatly, “That’s not true” when I read the allegation to him. He said he received “two or three” complaints about the event and at least one request for an excused absence which was denied. He explained that there was no basis for an excused absence since no student was compelled to participate in the Day of Silence.
He said both the Day of Silence and Day of Truth [a conservative Christian response to the Day of Silence organized by the consdervative Alliance Defense Fund] were observed in accord with the same standards. Students were required to speak if called on by a teacher. Also, no student could force their materials on others, but could give cards or information out if asked. “Neither day disrupted education,” Mr. Michael said.
I emailed Linda Harvey at Mission America to see if I could interview the parent involved but she declined to provide more information or contact the person who made the allegation. The Kirksville administrators were not aware of any allegations surrounding the Day of Silence until I called. In my opinion, the the information provided by Mr. Williams and Mr. Michael and the fact that the school district also allowed the Day of Truth detract from the credibility of the anonymous allegation.
Schilling also wrote:
Also in Phoenix, at Desert Ridge High School, Arizona Republic reported that between 200 and 250 students stayed home. A parent who objected to the observance hosted a pool party for students who refused to participate. The father, Randy Bellino, told a Phoenix television station that someone sent a text message threatening to shoot his son, and police questioned a group of homosexual students who silently sat across the street from his home.
I talked to Detective Steve Berry at the Mesa Police Department who said the Mesa Police received a call from a student who heard a rumor that someone was planning a shooting on the Day of Silence. No targets were identified. The text message was not a threat but rather a report of the rumored planned shooting. Essentially, Det. Berry said the threat was a rumor that was passed through the grapevine, but there was no text threat directly made toward anyone. Thus, the KPHO.com report is misleading in that no student group was ever identified as responsible. The WND report is misleading in that the boy in question did not actually receive a text message with a threat, according to Det. Berry, who read the police report to me.
Throckmorton concludes: "And those were just the first two bulletpoints. I guess you can’t believe everything you read." That same warning applies to a lot of things one reads at WorldNetDaily.
UPDATE: Tweaked description of Throckmorton; he doesn't specifically advocate gay conversion therapy (but defends the right of those to seek it out).