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Sunday, June 22, 2008
Farah: Durbin 'Anti-Semitic' for Citing Dante's Inferno
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a June 20 column titled "Dick Durbin's anti-Semitic rant," WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah had a most bizarre reaction to the Illinois senator defending Michelle Obama by noting that "The hottest ring in hell is reserved for those in politics who attack their opponents' families":

Since writing that column, it has come to my attention the phrase Durbin used has long and strong anti-Semitic connotations and roots.

The phrases "hottest ring in hell" and "the deepest ring of hell" and "the fourth circle of the ninth ring of hell" were 14th century literary inventions by Dante, author of "The Inferno" and "The Divine Comedy."

In the latter work, Dante reserves that deepest ring of hell for Judecca or la Giudecca – or, in plain English, the Jews.

In Dante's native Italian, the name was "Judecca" or "la Giudecca," the common name for the Jewish quarter of European cities from which they were forbidden to leave. Even the word "ghetto" is believed to be a derivation of this word for Jewish quarter.

Did Dick Durbin know this?

Has he used this phrase in the past?

Is it part of his lexicon?

Is Dick Durbin conducting a subtle form of Jew-baiting here?

Farah gets his Dante wrong in a couple major ways. First, he suggests that "The Inferno" and "The Divine Comedy" are separate works; in fact, "The Inferno" is the first section of "The Divine Comedy."

Second, Farah rather bizarrely ascribes anti-Semitic motives to citing "The Inferno." In fact, the ninth circle of hell is reserved for traitors, and scholars (here, here and here) have interpreted "Judecca," the fourth section of the ninth circle as derivative of Judas, not Jews -- other sections are named after Cain, Antenor and Ptolemy -- and is for those who betray their lords and benefactors. There's a hint of Jewish criticism in Dante's use of the name that arguably would not be out of character for a 14th century Christian; author Stephen Haynes writes that Dante portrays Jews as "a people comprised exclusively of saints and traitors" though there is an "absence of explicit anti-Judaism" in "The Inferno."

For Farah to claim or even suggest that Durbin hates Jews because he cited Dante's Inferno is offensive in the extreme, not to mention libelous. You'd think Farah would be sensitive to such things by now.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:53 PM EDT
Kincaid Complains Fox News Isn't Using His Obama Smears
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Cliff Kincaid's June 19 Accuracy in Media column is headlined, "Why is Fox News Protecting Obama?" It would more accurately be headlined, "Why Isn't Fox News Using My Obama Smears?"

In it, Kincaid complains that, yes, various Fox News personalities" have "deliberately ignored" his guilt-by-association smears of Barack Obama as a secret communist via his alleged link to purported "Stalinist agent" Frank Marshall Davis. He further complains that "even one prominent 'conservative' news service" won't use his stuff either.

But as we detailed, Kincaid paints only a one-dimensional negative portrait of Davis as a raging commie; as Mike Chasar wrote, Davis was not the card-carrying Communist Kincaid portrays him as and spent the 1930s as an anti-Roosevelt Republican -- presumably a position even Kincaid could sympathize with.

Remember, Kincaid is a guy who lied about the provisions of a bill Obama sponsored to fight global poverty and thinks that views held by fictional characters are the same as views held by Obama. Such anti-Obama monomania makes Kincaid a less-than-reliable source -- which may the answer to Kincaid's question about why Fox News won't use his stuff.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:00 AM EDT
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Henry Lamb Needs To Acquaint Himself With TurboTax
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a June 21 WorldNetDaily column arguing against "progressive" taxation, Henry Lamb offers up the following hypothetical:

Here is Mr. Ten-Forty. On the first day of April, he began collecting his bank statements, receipts and his IRS forms. The instruction book is at least four times longer than the U.S. Constitution. Aside from the several pages of forms in the package, he has to download half-a-dozen additional forms. After investing at least 15 hours of frustrating effort, looking for every possible deduction, he discovers that he must pay 28 percent of his income to the government. Had he earned more income, he would have been punished by having to pay an even higher rate.

1) Why is Mr. Ten-Forty waiting until two weeks before taxes are due before starting work on his taxes? Sounds like he's a horrible procrastinator.

2) Has this fellow never heard of TurboTax? Such tax programs automatically search for possible deducations, meaning that the guy doesn't have to expend "at least 15 hours of frustrating effort" doing so.

3) Lamb fails to tell us that if Mr. Ten-Forty is getting taxed at the 28 pecent level, his net taxable income falls between $78,850 and $164,550 (for 2008). In other words, he's not exactly poor, and his actual income is even more than that since he has taken "every possible deduction."

If a guy with that much income insists on doing his taxes by hand and refuses to make use of either an accountant, a tax service like H&R Block or a program like TurboTax -- all of which can advise him on further deductions he can take or other ways he can shield his income from taxation -- he's got worse problems than Lamb presenting him as someone we should feel sorry for. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:01 AM EDT
WND Does Bidding of Anti-Global Warming Group
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh repeats his advocacy for the the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine with a June 19 article that once again touts the OISM's anti-global warming petition it claims was "officially endorsed by tens of thousands of other scientists."

As we detailed, the OISM petition collected its signatures over a period of more than a decade and counts signatories with degrees in "sicence" -- Unruh makes sure to quote OISM chief Art Robinson adding that the number also includes "more than 9,000 Americans with Ph.D.s in science and therefore professional educational credentials" -- without making distinctions as to whether those degrees are actually relevant to disciplines related to global warming.

Unruh quotes only Robinson in his article and presents his claims at face value, adding only that "A spokeswoman for the United Nation's Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon declined to respond to WND questions" as if the U.N. chief was the only person qualified to answer Robinson's claims. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:10 AM EDT
Friday, June 20, 2008
Waters Repeats Debunked 'Most Liberal Senator' Claim
Topic: Media Research Center

In a June 20 TimesWatch item and NewsBusters post, Clay Waters reacts to a claim in a New York Times article claiming that an Obama campaign is designed to "addresses the problems Mr. Obama needs to address and tacks him back to the center": "'Back to the center?' Was Obama, the most liberal Senator, ever in the center?" Waters adds a link to the National Journal's 2007 vote rankings, which called Obama "most liberal."

In fact, as Media Matters points out (and as we've previously noted), the National Journal ranking is highly subjective, based on 99 votes selected by the magazine's staff -- for instance, a vote to implement the bipartisan 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations was considered to be "liberal." By contrast, a separate study based on all 388 non-unanimous Senate votes during 2007 produced a different result, ranking Obama as tied for the 10th most liberal senator.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:30 PM EDT
WND Invokes Godwin's Law Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's been a while since WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh likened likened critics of homeschooling to Nazis. He returns to form in a June 19 WND article in which he points out in the lead paragraph that homeschooling in Germany "has been illegal since Hitler's golden days in 1938."

The ostensible purpose of Unruh's article (beyond throwing the Nazi smear, anyway) is to relay a purported quote of a German judge who allegedly described homeschooling as "comparable to a trucker who repeatedly gets behind the wheel drunk." But Unruh doesn't quote the judge directly; he quotes a German homeschooling advocate as saying that the judge said that. Unruh offers no evidence that he made any attempt to independently verify what the judge actually said.

That also comports with Unruh's and WND's history of one-sided reporting on the issue -- quoting only homeschooling advocates and framing issues to their benefit. Remember, as we've detailed, WND has chosen to condone a family's documented history of child abuse in order to paint them as martyrs to the homeschooling cause.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:45 AM EDT
NewsBusters Ignores McCain's Campaign Financing Flip-Flop
Topic: NewsBusters

Three separate NewsBusters posts reference Barack Obama's alleged "pledge-breaking" or "flip-flop" on faking federal funds to finance his campaign for the general election.

None mention the fact that John McCain performed his own flip-flop on public financing in the primary. As Media Matters and Josh Marshall point out, McCain joined the public financing for the primary when his campaign was on the ropes -- even apparently taking out a loan to fund his campaign using the promise of federal funds as collateral -- then decided he wanted to pull out after his campaign became successful. McCain has long since exceeded those primary spending limits, and Federal Election Commission chairman David Mason has taken the position that McCain cannot legally withdraw from the public financing system without FEC approval (the FEC is inoperative these days because of a dispute between President Bush and Congress over adding new members).

Isn't McCain's flip-flop relevant to this discussion? NewsBusters doesn't think so. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:46 AM EDT
Will Chastain Hold WND Accountable?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In her June 19 WorldNetDaily column, Jane Chastain encourages her readers to get involved with media activism:

When is the last time you wrote or called a journalist, editor, reporter, news director or producer? Most people never do. They just complain about bias in the media but will not lift a finger or flip the lid on a cell phone to do anything about it.

Most journalists want to be considered "good" journalists. Having spent the lion's share of my professional life in a newsroom, I can tell you that we are extremely sensitive to legitimate criticism. However, we get very little of it.


Many years ago, I read that a television network considers that each caller represents the views of 10,000 viewers, so few will pick up the phone.

When making a call, the important thing to remember is this: Be courteous. Make your complaint or comment short and specific. Whenever possible, include, the date, time, program or article, reporter, etc. and what was wrong, slanted or unbalanced about the piece.


Do your favorite newspapers, journalists and television news broadcasts a favor. Hold them accountable!

All of this, of course, is targeted only at "the liberal bias of the news media." None is targeted at the "news" organization that prints her column; indeed, Chastain praises WND for its misleading "Operation Spike" year-end compilation, adding, "When you hear about an important story that is spiked, you need to jump on it immediately!"

But WND is one of the greatest offenders in the area of media bias. We've repeatedly detailed WND's history of running biased, misleading or just plain false information.

Is Chastain holding WND accountable in the same way she holds the "liberal media" accountable? We suspect not, given that she still allows her column to appear there.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:53 AM EDT
Thursday, June 19, 2008
CNS Repeats False Claim on Gore's Electricity Usage

A June 19 article by Randy Hall repeats the Tennessee Center for Policy Research's claim that Al Gore's electricity usage has increased. Hall clearly takes the side of the TCPR:

  • He fails to identify it as a conservative group, though CNS generally makes an effort to put ideological labels on such groups.
  • He accepted the TCPR's claims at face value, even though, as Sadly, No! points out, TCPR offers no documentation to support its claims.
  • Hall does offer a response from a Gore spokesman, but it's buried under 11 paragraphs of attacks, is taken from a newspaper article (Hall, by contrast, talked to the TCPR), and Hall allows the TCPR to respond to Gore's criticism by saying that "the Center stands behind its data" even though, again, the Center has offered no supporting documentation.

Further, Hall didn't check his numbers. He cited a February 2007 CNS article that repeated previous (unsubstantiated) TCPR claims that Gore's home "consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses an entire year." But the numbers in that story contradict the claims TCPR is making now.

In the Feb. 27, 2007, CNS article, Susan Jones reported the TCPR's claim that Gore's home in 2006 "devoured nearly 221,000 kWh -- more than 20 times the national average." But Hall reported that "Gore's mansion ... used 213,210 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity" in 2007, which the NCPR said had "increased more than 10 percent."

Last time we checked, 213,210 was less than 221,000. The TCPR is wrong, and CNS needs to issue a correction. (Again, h/t Sadly, No!).

Meanwhile, Newsmax just reprinted the TCPR's press release, false 10 percent increase claim and all.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:59 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2008 3:02 PM EDT
WND Gets Letters
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Every once in a great while, WorldNetDaily will permit criticism of it to grace its pages. It did so a few days ago in the form of a letter to the editor; we'll reprint it here since WND's letters cycle out after a week:

Just a quick question ...

Was the 27-year-old that beat the baby boy to death a straight man? Is that why the couple who happened to not be straight and who also tortured a boy, received the larger font headline and was placed above the 27-year-old male/boy beating story?

I really appreciate your site and visit it everyday, but I find your bias appalling! As a conservative man, it's this type of constant, subtle bigotry that makes my life a bit more complicated when I have to explain to others why I can be a conservative and a homosexual.

I grew up as a Baptist in southern Oregon, and even I am not stupid enough to think that a homosexual warrants more scorn and attention for torture, etc., than a heterosexual does. Whoever does these disgusting things is the lowest of the low.

I do realize that bashing people (even subtly) who are different than you is good for your business and can keep the web hits and money coming in, but it certainly doesn't make you more spiritual. And guess what. Just because I happen to be homosexual doesn't make me more likely than you to molest or torture. Is that a new revelation for you, or would this not matter because it doesn't fit your religious agenda?


We would point out another difference as well: WND did its own article on the "not straight" couple accused of abuse, while the "straight man" was relegated to an outside link.

Tellingly, WND made no public response to this. Otherwise, it would have to own up to its anti-gay agenda, which it appears to have no intention of doing.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:19 AM EDT
WND Whitewashes Floyd Brown
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Part of WorldNetDaily's hate-Obama agenda is to whitewash the background of anyone who attacks him (just like it has done with disreputable types who peddle unverified anti-Clinton tales). Thus, a June 17 WND article portrays Floyd Brown, purveyor of an anti-Obama ad, as merely the "spokesman for a political action committee" who along with his wife are "accomplished authors and speakers" who "write a weekly column." 

WND curiously fails to tell its readers about Brown's right-wing activist background, most notoriously as the creator of the Willie Horton ad attacking Michael Dukakis, as well as a pay-phone line featuring edited excerpts of telephone conversations between Clinton and Arkansas lounge singer Gennifer Flowers. Republican George H.W. Bush called the phone line "the kind of sleaze that diminishes the political process," and even prominent GOP adviser Mary Matalin says, "I'm not a big fan of Floyd Brown."

Why did WND refuse to tell its readers of Brown's background? Perhaps, like its work for Kathleen Willey and Peter Paul, WND felt the need to clean up his image for public consumption in order to misleadingly portray him as more virtuous than, in this case, the Obama supporters attacking Brown over an ad that smears Obama by misleadingly portraying him as a Muslim.

So yet again, WND proves Joseph Farah a liar by acting to benefit the McCain campaign. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:25 AM EDT
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
'Calmed and Reasoned Understanding'
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Responding to a New Yorker profile of Keith Olbermann noting that Olbermann's response to network questions over why he was telling President Bush to "shut the hell up" in a "special comment" was, "Because I can't say, 'Shut the f_ _ _ up,' that's why, frankly," Don Irvine wrote in a June 17 Accuracy in Media blog post: "So much for calmed and reasoned understanding in the media."

This from somebody who employs Cliff Kincaid, a man who thinks Barack Obama is a Manchurian candidate and who ascribes the beliefs of fictional characters to Obama.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:29 PM EDT
Newsmax Repeats Sham McCain Supporter List
Topic: Newsmax

A June 15 Newsmax article regurgitated a list, provided by John McCain's campaign, of "prominent Democratic and unaffiliated leaders and activists who have joined Citizens for McCain, a new grassroots effort headed by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to rally Americans of all political parties to support McCain's candidacy." Newsmax made no effort to dig further into the list to provide evidence these McCain supporters being Democrat, unaffiliated, or even prominent.

TPM Election Central did, however. Their conclusion:

The list is a bit of a sham. A look at some of these "Democrats and independents" shows that it's a stretch to tout their support for the Republican as anything at all unusual.

Some of the "Democrats" and "Independents" on the list already have often supported Republicans in the past, suggesting that there's little if any meaning to their support for McCain over Obama. And others have a history of hostility towards the Democratic Party that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to take them seriously as genuine cross-over supporters.

Of particular note is list member and "former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Frye." As TPM describes him:

Here's why he ran in the first place: Dem Gov. Bob Wise had been damaged after having been caught having an affair with Frye's wife. (When Wise withdrew from the race, Frye's star faded and he received less than one-percent of the vote.)

The Charleston Gazette has more on Frye, as does Wonkette and The Daily Show.

But will Newsmax tell its readers about the sham aspect of McCain's list? Somehow we kinda doubt it.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:20 AM EDT
New Article: Love Like (Demographic) Winter
Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb raises the alarm about declining birth rates and embraces the idea (if not the fervent hope) that only white Christians will, and must, continue to breed. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:33 AM EDT
WND Hate-Obama Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A June 16 WorldNetDaily article unleashes another guilt-by-association attack on Barack Obama, and surprisingly, Aaron Klein's byline is not on it.

The unbylined article claims that "An American citizen who returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein to become minister of electricity has called for support of the terrorist insurgency and claims to have contributed the maximum amount under the law to the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama." But the donation is the only direct connection WND makes to Obama -- in other words, yet another desperate guilt-by-association attack, the kind WND writer Klein has become infamous for. 

By contrast, WND has provided no original coverage of Clayton Williams, a fundraiser for John McCain's campaign who once compared rape to the weather: "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it." (Williams' fundraiser was canceled after word of this statement got out.)

Either WND agrees with this sentiment, or it's refusing to treat McCain the way it does Obama -- which appears to run counter to WND editor Joseph Farah's insistence that he won't help McCain get elected. But by refusing to hold McCain to the same relentlessly negative standard he's holding Obama -- plus the fact there isn't a "No McCain" bumper sticker on sale next to the "NObama" sticker WND sells --  that's exactly what Farah is doing.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:25 AM EDT

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