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Monday, June 30, 2008
Slanted Newsmax Headline Watch
Topic: Newsmax

The Associated Press' headline on a June 29 article: "Clark: McCain lacks command experience."

Newsmax's headline on that same AP article: "Gen. Wesley Clark Denigrates McCain's Heroism."

Newsmax doesn't explain how Clark's statement -- as quoted in the article -- that "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war" is a "denigration" of McCain's "heroism."

UPDATE: Newsmax also doesn't explain why it has posted a second version of the AP article with the less biased, more accurate headline "Clark: McCain a Hero, but Lacks Command Experience." The other version remains posted.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:08 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, June 30, 2008 10:59 PM EDT
AIM, Newsmax Gloat Over Hatfill Settlement
Topic: Accuracy in Media

A June 29 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid unsurprisingly praised the U.S. government's multimillion-dollar settlement with Steven Hatfill, whom it had identified as a "person of interest" in the 2001 anthrax attacks but has since cleared of any connection with them. Kincaid has long championed Hatfill's cause.

But Kincaid goes a bit overboard (as he is prone to do) when he declared, "There was never any evidence indicating that Hatfill is anything other than a patriot who tried to help America prepare for the terrorist attacks that were blamed on him." That's not exactly true; as we've noted, Hatfill was involved with training members of the pro-apartheid, neo-nazi Afrikaner Resistance Movement in the 1990s -- not exactly a patriot kind of thing to do.

Newsmax similarly gloats in a June 29 article, declaring that "Newsmax is also vindicated for rising to Hatfill’s defense, having been almost alone among the media in digging out the facts about the infamous anthrax attacks that killed five Americans in 2001." It added that "In a series of articles, including our correspondent Phil Brennan’s 'The Crucifixion of Steven Hatfill,' we told the whole story."

If the "whole story" includes a dollop of hypocrisy, then yeah.

While Brennan rails against "the conspiratorial fantasies of politically motivated left-wing academics and their liberal media stooges" in his article, he paints his own conspiratorial fantasy that victimized Hatfill. On his list were biological arms control expert "Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and her left-wing colleagues," as well as the "out-of-control and pitifully incompetent" FBI.

The June 29 Newsmax article went on to state: "Instead of joining the rest of the media in doling out leaks from the FBI and presenting them as facts, Newsmax took the trouble to dig into the case and reveal the real story to the public." As opposed, say, its reporting on the Clintons.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:32 PM EDT
CNS Ignores McCain's Flip-Flop on Immigration

A June 30 article by Terry Jeffrey reported on John McCain's speech before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, in which he claimed that comprehensive immigration reform is his "top priority -- yesterday, today and tomorrow." Jeffrey went on to note that "In 2006, McCain worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to ensure passage in the Senate of a 'comprehensive' immigration reform bill that would have given illegal aliens a path to citizenship while allowing 200,000 new 'guest workers' to enter the country each year."

But Jeffrey's emphasis on McCain position supporting comprehensive immigration reform ignores the fact that he has spent the past several months running away from that position: During a Jan. 30 debate, McCain said he wouldn't support for the McCain-Kennedy bill if it came up for a vote on the House floor.

So what we have here is a flip-flop -- actually, a flip-flop-flip -- from McCain that Jeffrey didn't call him on. The beginning of uncritical coverage for McCain on CNS? We'll see.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:54 PM EDT
Huston Discovers Subtext
Topic: NewsBusters

Warner Todd Huston is having another fit.

This time, in a June 28 NewsBusters post, he has decided that the Washington Post has "penned an attack on Free Republic." How so? By pointing out that "Freepers are to blame, if not initially responsible, for floating the Barack-is-a-Muslim chain email that so many millions of Americans have found in their email boxes over the last four years." But Huston never disproves that Freepers did, in fact, play a role in forwarding the bogus Barack-is-a-Muslim claims. How can the truth be an attack?

Because there's subtext! Huston repeats an assertion by National Review's Byron York that "the article has a pretty clear subtext, and it is that the exchange of such information on the Internet should be controlled." Of course, being subtext, you can pretty much make up whatever it purportedly is. And people like Huston will swallow it without question -- even as Huston complains that the Post didn't question what was told to it about the Freepers.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:41 AM EDT
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Aaron Klein's trolling of right-wing websites for stuff he can use to smear Barack Obama pays off again with his 39th anti-Obama article for WorldNetDaily (versus just one anti-John McCain article), a June 28 piece seeking to link posts on an Obama community blog to Obama himself. At no point does Klein appear to have considered the idea that the purported "large volume of racist, anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian rhetoric published on the user-friendly MyObama community blog pages" he claims exists might be due in at least some part to right-wing activists who post there for the express purpose of having them be discovered by people like Klein for Obama-smearing purposes (a theory that has been raised elsewhere).

Klein's source for this article was the right-wing blog Little Green Footballs -- noted for its own history of hateful postings and commenters, so it's a touch ironic that Klein is citing it as a credible source to smear Obama. Of course, Klein doesn't identify LGF as a right-wing blog with a motivation to attack Obama (not unlike himself).

Curiously, Klein ends with a quote from another (unlabeled) conservative blogger, Patterico (whose blog name Klein gets wrong; it's "Patterico's Pontifications," not "Patterico Pontific"), who states: "Barack Obama attracts some anti-Semitic supporters. That’s hardly a surprise, nor is it obviously his fault. ... But the fact that he has anti-Semitic supporters, standing alone, says no more about him than the fact that there are white racists supporting John McCain." But Klein has never done an article about McCain's white-racist supporters. Why is that? It couldn't be WND's secret pro-McCain agenda putting the kibosh on that, could it?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EDT
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Sadly, No! and World O' Crap both point out the false premise of Janet Folger's June 24 WorldNetDaily column. Folger asserts that a new Colorado law forbids Christians from criticizing homosexuality and allows men to use women's restrooms; in fact, the law merely adds sexual orientation to the state's non-discrimination law.

If Folger botches the description and intent of this law so badly, it should be no surprise that WND does so as well, given its anti-gay agenda. Indeed, a June 27 article uncritically repeats the claim, attributed to "critics," that the Colorado law "criminalizes expressing biblical beliefs regarding homosexuality" and has been "promoted as an "anti-discrimination" plan favoring alternative sexual lifestyles and gender perceptions."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:29 AM EDT
Ruddy Embroiled in Benefactor's Will Dispute
Topic: Newsmax

A June 24 New York Times article reported on a battle over a bequest in the will of the late Wilson C. Lucom, a wealthy conservative bon vivant who co-founded Accuracy in Media and contributed writings to Newsmax who died in 2006. It seems that Lucom, who was reportedly not especially fond of children during his lifetime, left the bulk of his multimillion-dollar estate to fund the creation of a foundation to aid poor children in Panama, where he spent his final years (while leaving only relatively paltry amounts to his widow and stepchildren). But look who's playing a not-insignificant role in this dispute -- Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy (h/t Sadly, No!):

Lucom also willed $1 million to the Mayo Clinic, which had treated him for cancer. The clinic, in Minnesota, has hired a lawyer to ensure that it gets the money. Other amounts went to former household employees and to friends, including Christopher Ruddy, founder of NewsMax Media, which published many of Lucom's writings online. Ruddy, who owed Lucom more than $1 million at the time of his death, has hired lawyers to represent his interests.


Just days before Lucom died, on June 2, 2006, [Lucom lawyer Richard] Lehman created a trust to administer the children's charity fund. He created it in St. Kitts and Nevis, a Caribbean tax haven where Lucom had gained citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

To create the trust, Lehman and Ruddy used the power of attorney that Lucom had issued to them in case he became incapacitated. But Lucom was still coherent at the time, according to some of those who saw him in the hospital, and the two men acted before they had obtained the necessary letters from doctors saying that Lucom could not make such decisions for himself.

Once the legal battle began, Lehman removed both Ruddy and Hilda Lucom as trustees of the trust, leaving only himself to decide how Wilson Lucom's money would be spent.

Despite Ruddy owing that much money to the man, Lucom appears nowhere in the 2002 prospectus Newsmax filed in preparation for a planned IPO (which never took place).

Lucom's writings seem to have curiously disappeared from Newsmax's archive -- as The Dark Window notes, "Part of the beauty of Lucom's columns is how personal they all are. It's always YOU that will die" -- but through the magic of the Internet Archinve, we can review some of his greatest hits:

  • In a column written shortly after 9/11, Lucom declared: "President Bush must immediately drop the neutron bomb, ending the terrorist war immediately." On who? On "all nations that harbor terrorists."
  • Lucom loved the idea of going nuclear. He wrote in a 2002 column about the idea of going to war with Iraq: "Because thousands of soldiers could get killed fighting the war, all alternatives must be tried to end the war as soon as possible. The longer the war, the more American soldiers killed. This is why Bush must end the war as quickly as possible by threatening to drop the atom bomb." 
  • But bombing was only part of the Lucom Plan. The other part: "raise its presently ineffective offer of $25 million to an amount of ONE BILLION DOLLARS (which would work) for the removal from office of any leader who starts a war or who appears to be developing nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction." 
  • He insisted that "President Clinton and the Democratic members of Congress in 1995 could have prevented the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon." 

Ruddy was indeed quite fond of Lucom. He was a star in Newsmax's abortive 2001 TV show -- er, informericial (which lasted for only one episode). He signed on to Lucom's billion-dollar bounty idea: "Why don’t we, as Wilson Lucom implores, offer $1 billion for Saddam Hussein or bin Laden – dead or alive. Already the State Department offers such bounties, but the reward money is in the tens of millions – not the sort of money that would motivate individuals in foreign countries to risk their lives." Ruddy even went to Panama in November 2002 to chat with "my friend Wilson C. Lucom."

Needless to say, none of the Lucom will controversy -- including Ruddy's role in it and his indebtedness to the Lucom estate -- has made its way to Newsmax readers.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 AM EDT
Saturday, June 28, 2008
WND Runs to Dobson's Defense
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A June 27 WorldNetDaily article portrayed a website called James Dobson Doesn't Speak For Me -- which points out the misleading nature of Focus on the Family's James Dobson's criticism of Barack Obama's statements on religion -- as "a website that bashes prominent Christian leader and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson" and a "campaign to bash Dobson." But WND took an entirely different approach in another campaign in which people asserted that someone didn't "speak for" them.

An Aug. 17, 2005, WND article touted the "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" tour, an effort to counter anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. WND never described Sheehan as the targed of a "campaign to bash" her; indeed, the word "bash" appears nowhere in the article nor an Aug. 28, 2005, follow-up.

WND also misleads in other ways. The article on Dobson, citing an article by American Family Association "news" site OneNewsNow, repeatedly described a woman who allegedly owned the domain name "" before transferring it to Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell a "Obama campaign worker," only in the 17th paragraph describing her as a "onetime Obama campaign worker." But WND leaves out information: The OneNewsNow article noted that the woman, Alyssa Martin, was "an intern in the Obama campaign's 'religious affairs' department" and "is no longer with the Obama campaign." 

Further, in describing Dobson as the victim of "bashing" and repeating anonymous comments from the OneNewsNow that were "running heavily against Caldwell," WND ignores the fact that Dobson's statements have been criticized even by other conservatives, such as Peter Wehner and Jacques Berlinerblau, as well as the fact that Dobson makes one factually false suggestion, that Obama said Dobson "wants to expel people who are not Christians" from the United States.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:52 PM EDT
Friday, June 27, 2008
NewsBusters Misleads on GM
Topic: NewsBusters

A June 27 NewsBusters post by Jeff Poor begins, "General Motors has been in business since 1897."

Not quite: While longtime GM component Oldsmobile was founded in 1897, GM itself was not created until 1908.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:38 PM EDT
MRC's Tunnel Vision on Iraq War Coverage
Topic: Media Research Center

We've previously noted the Media Research Center's tunnel vision on the subject of Iraq war coverage and its insistence on viewing it only through the prism of "liberal media bias." MRC head Brent Bozell demonstrates it again in a June 25 appearance on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" (which followed the template by never identifying Bozell or the MRC as conservative).

Sean Hannity claimed that "a recent New York Times report stated that the media has been covering the war in Iraq less and less because there isn't any bad news to report. ... The only way I can interpret it is just what I said -- the good news, they're not going to report it, the bad news, they'll report it." Bozell concurred: "Countless studies have been done -- we've done studies on this, showing that as things got worse and worse, you had more and more coverage. But suddenly the surge came around and as the surge took off and was successful, the coverage went down." The only explanation offered by Hannity was that the "liberal, left-wing outlets" are "doing it for political reasons." Bozell quickly changed the subject.

In fact, the New York Times story in question highlights reporters' frustration with not being able to get their stories about the war on the air; a statement buried in the article by one correspondent that a decline in the relative amount of violence “is taking the urgency out” of some of the coverage is what's being plucked out and highlighted by Hannity and Bozell. Co-host Alan Colmes noted another major point from the article to Bozell: "The coverage in Iraq has become a lot more expensive because of security risks. ... That's one aspect of this you didn't mention."

And no one on the show mentioned that the Times quoted a Fox News correspondent saying that she had filed only eight reports in six weeks, adding, "The violence itself is not the story anymore." Indeed, as we've noted, Fox News has devoted less time to Iraq in recent months than its cable news rivals CNN and MSNBC. (We've previously detailed that MRC studies of war coverage have excluded Fox News unless the results can be skewed to make Fox look good.)

If Bozell can't talk about declining Iraq war coverage without admitting it's also declining on his favorite news channel as well -- which would seem to disprove his cherished hypothesis that it's being driven solely by the media's liberal bias -- why take him, and the MRC's model of criticism, seriously at all?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT
The Heritage of Farah's Ideals: Playing the Klan Card
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah plays the Klan card in his June 26 WorldNetDaily column, claiming that "today's radical secular agenda promoting absolute separation of church and state was a movement actually birthed by the [Ku Klux] Klan" because Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority opinion in Engel v. Vitale, which banned state officials from composing an official school prayer and requiring its recitation in public schools. Farah attacked Black as "a red-necked bully and coward in a hood and white robes" and a "racist hate monger" who was doing the "bigoted agenda" of the KKK. Farah added: "Black's racist roots have been glossed over by historians, largely because of his rulings in cases like Engle [sic] v Vitale."

As we've noted, history suggests that Black was a member of the KKK out of a combination of political expediency and anti-Catholic animus, not out of racist sympathies and that, KKK membership aside, he was likely no more a "racist hate monger" than the typical white American of that era. Farah conveniently omits that Black's "racist roots" are more credibly contravened by things like joining the unanimous opinion in Brown v. Board of Education as well as in Shelley v. Kramer, which banned racial restrictions on property covenants.

Farah also wrote:

The movement for so-called "separation of church and state" in America began in earnest as an anti-Catholic extremist effort directed by the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was successful at getting one of its own on the Supreme Court at a critical time in history.

This ignores the fact that Catholics, in significant part, didn't attend public schools and set up their own because they had traditionally been controlled by Protestants. So restricting prayer in public schools via Engel v. Vitale affected far more Protestants than Catholics, which would seem to demolish Farah's suggestion that Black's majority opinion in Engel was motivated by anti-Catholicism. (It's even more ironic that Farah is running to the defense of Catholics given WND's own anti-Catholic streak.)

Farah goes on to disingenously claim that "I don't suggest Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, shares the Klan's racist, hateful ideals" -- yeah, right -- then adda, "But I do need to point out they represent the heritage of his ideals." Well, two can play the Klan-invoking guilt-by-association game.

In a March 19 column, Farah wrote: "All things being equal, I'd rather watch the Democrats destroy America for the next four years, holding out hope that a new kind of Republican leadership might arise to fight back in 2012." Farah repeated the assertion in a May 19 column, adding, "I said it, and I mean it." But as blogger David Neiwert has pointed out, that's pretty much the same view taken by ... white supremaists:

In any event, a pattern is already developing, ranging from the Klan fellows who promise that Obama will be shot to the white supremacists who are actually rooting for him to win because they're certain he will fail. We're hearing a lot of language from the racist and "Patriot" right indicating that they expect a Democratic president to enact policies (particularly regarding gun control) that will inspire "civil war." Which means they are looking for excuses to act out.

As always with these folks, there's a lot of projection going on here. Because even if a President Obama follows only the most moderate of liberal agendas, the far right will look upon those policies as cause for "civil war." That was how they responded to Bill Clinton, after all -- a white male Southerner with generally conservative leanings. One can only imagine how a liberal black man from Illinois would fare.

Further, as the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok writes:

With the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate clinched, large sections of the white supremacist movement are adopting a surprising attitude: Electing America’s first black president would be a very good thing.

It’s not that the assortment of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, anti-Semites and others who make up this country’s radical right have suddenly discovered that a man should be judged based on the content of his character, not his skin. On the contrary. A growing number of white supremacists, and even some of those who pass for intellectual leaders of their movement, think that a black man in the Oval Office would shock white America, possibly drive millions to their cause, and perhaps even set off a race war that, they hope, would ultimately end in Aryan victory.

We're not suggesting that Farah shares the racist, hateful ideals as these white supremacists. But we do need to point out they represent the heritage of his ideals.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:21 AM EDT
Dick Morris Bashes Dick Morris
Topic: Newsmax

Dick Morris wrote in a June 24 Newsmax column:

Obama’s tormentors on the right keep invoking the crazy remarks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former terrorist William Ayers to convince people that Obama is some kind of sleeper agent, sent to seduce and destroy our democracy from within.

Some wonder if he is really a Muslim masquerading as a Christian.

The more these extreme charges are leveled against the Democratic nominee, the less attention we focus on the very real radical positions that he has taken, grounds enough for a vote against him.


There is so much in Obama’s record to criticize, and the right does him a service by vilifying him. You don’t have to believe that he is the Manchurian Candidate to realize that he would be way too liberal as a president.

So, who are these people vilifying Obama as a sleeper agent and a Manchurian candidate? Morris doesn't say, but they appear to include ... Dick Morris.

The very day Morris' column was published, Morris appeared on NBC's "Today" to claim, "[T]his whole debate about what kind of president [Sen. Barack] Obama would make has swirled around almost an existential level. Is he sort of a Manchurian candidate? A sleeper agent? Or is he the great hope of the future?" At no point did Morris criticize that line of reasoning.

Morris also suggested Obama was a "sleeper agent" in a May appearance on "The O'Reilly Factor." Morris has also asserted, "[T]he question that plagues Obama is ... Is he pro-American?"

If Morris wants conservatives to stop vilifing Obama, he should try not doing it himself.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:04 AM EDT
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Cliff Kincaid Anti-Obama Frenzy Watch
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Cliff Kincaid, still in anti-Obama frenzy mode, goes the Aaron Klein guilt-by-association route in his June 25 Accuracy in Media column by claiming that "[a]n actual witch who spoke at a “Pagan Pride” festival in San Francisco" has apparently endorsed a Barack Obama-sponsored "pro-U.N." bill to help fight global poverty.

Kincaid also repeats the false suggestion that the bill commits the U.S. to spend $845 billion while pretending that it hasn't been debunked: "As AIM has documented, the bill amounts to a mandate on the federal government to force compliance with the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations." In fact, neither Kincaid nore AIM have ever explained how a bill with no funding mechanism, that doesn't commit the U.S. to a targeted level of spending, and that doesn't give the United Nations the power to impose a tax on the U.S. can be interpreted as committing the U.S. to any funding at all, let alone $845 billion.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:56 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:56 PM EDT
Apparent Intra-ConWeb Plagiarism Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado drew attention early in the Republican primaries as a champion of securing the nation's borders against illegal crossing and fighting against amnesty for illegal immigrants.


With a finger-in-the-chest tone, the congressman asks McCain whether he backpedaled on border security pledges in Chicago, where it was reported the Arizona senator promised an audience of 150 Hispanic leaders "comprehensive immigration reform."

-- June 24 WorldNetDaily article

Tancredo, who drew attention early in the Republican primaries as a champion of securing the nation's borders against illegal crossing and fighting against amnesty for illegal immigrants, questions McCain on whether he is backpedaling on border security.

-- June 25 Newsmax article by Rick Pedraza

Posted by Terry K. at 12:47 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:52 PM EDT
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Secret Pro-McCain Agenda
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah says he's not helping John McCain get elected, but that's exactly what he's doing through his website's relentless attacks on Obama while not giving the same treatment to McCain. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:59 AM EDT

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