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Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Ponte Responds to Clark's Non-Smear With Smear of Clark
Topic: Newsmax

In his June 30 Newsmax column, Lowell Ponte claimed that "a retired U.S. Army general who supports Barack Obama viciously attacked presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s military credentials."

Actually, no, Gen. Wesley Clark did not "viciously attack" John McCain, though you wouldn't know it from Ponte, who repeated Clark statement that "I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president" without providing the context in which he said it -- that Clark was specifically responding to CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer's statement that unlike McCain, Obama has not "ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down."

Ponte responded to Clark's statement that McCain "hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall" and has never “held executive responsibility” over troops in wartime" by asserting that "McCain dropped bombs on North Vietnam before being shot down and spending five years under torture as a prisoner of war" and "McCain, whose father and grandfather were U.S. Navy admirals, led the largest squadron in the U.S. Navy" -- neither of which disproves what Clark said.

Despite never proving that Clark's comments about McCain's military record were vicious or an attack, let alone factually inaccurate -- as well as neglecting to mention that Clark also said, "I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the Armed Forces as a prisoner of war" -- Ponte asserted that "the press needs to tell Americans who Gen. Wesley Clark really is" ... then launched into is own vicious attack on Clark.

Ponte called Clark's military career "not stellar" and steeped with "mediocrity" -- sneeringly adding, "Like Bill Clinton, Wesley Clark was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford" -- until, as commander of Texas' Fort Hood, he " 'lent' 17 pieces of armor and 15 active service personnel under his command to what became Clinton’s extermination of the Branch Davidians." Ponte added, "Immediately after he went along with the Clintons’ potentially-illegal weapons request for Waco, Wesley Clark’s flat, fading career began an incredible meteoric rise."

Ponte concludes by rehashing smears of Clark by David Hackworth, a now-deceased retired colonel who has had his own troubles -- running a brothel and gambling hall for his troops in Vietnam while allegedly facilitating a black market for military script, yet still managing to obtain an honorable discharge -- so perhaps he's not quite the person for Ponte to be citing.

Needless to say, Ponte's position that a presidential candidate's military record can't be criticized is a flip-flop from 2004, when he cozied up to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and denigrated Kerry's Vietnam service. (Ponte also thinks that Kerry's neckties are "a secret signal of support to the Muslim world.")

Posted by Terry K. at 5:27 PM EDT
More Anti-Planned Parenthood Bias At CNS

A July 1 article by Andrew Tashjian and Michael Gryboski features "black pro-life leaders" attacking Planned Parenthood. The authors quote five different pro-lifers but make no apparent attempt to contact Planned Parenthood for a response; they merely spend two paragraphs of their 24-paragraph article quoting from Planned Parenthood's website.

This follows in CNS' longtime reporting bias against Planned Parenthood, devoting space to lengthy attacks on it while not giving the group any meaningful opportunity to respond.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:36 PM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

An appearance by the MRC's Tim Graham on the June 29 edition of "The O'Reilly Factor" follows the template: Graham appears solo, and neither he nor the MRC are identified as conservative.

In the segment, Graham baselessly asserts that Barack Obama is somehow linked to a Chicago Tribune editorial arguing for a repeal of the Second Amendment:

GRAHAM: I think he needs to be asked this question. I think the news media ought to say, "Your hometown newspaper has now suggested the Second Amendment should now be repealed. Do you agree with the Chicago Tribune?" And let him denounce the Chicago Tribune. We'd like to see that happen. But , yeah, clearly, Obama's position is definitely involved.

How, exactly, is Obama's position on guns "involved" with what a newspaper chooses to put on its editorial page? Graham doesn't say.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:39 AM EDT
CNS Smears Dems on Social Security

A July 1 article by Susan Jones begins: "It must be an election year, because Democrats are once again raising the Social Security issue to scare older Americans."

By contrast, we're pretty sure Jones has never begun an article by writing, "It must be an election year, because Republicans are once again raising the issue of terrorism to scare Americans."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
WND Thinks Obama Worships Hindu Idol
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's smears of Barack Obama don't just come from Aaron Klein; they appear in unbylined articles as well, like a June 27 article headlined, "Is Obama devotee of monkey-god idol?"

The actual article doesn't follow the headline's suggestion that Obama worships a "monkey-god idol" -- Obama merely carries "a smaller version of the Lord Hanuman good-luck charm" with him. Lord Hanuman, WND writes, is a "Hindu monkey-god idol."

The article curiously fails to mention what else Obama carries around with him for luck. They include a bracelet belonging to an American soldier deployed in Iraq, a gambler's lucky chit, a and a tiny Madonna and child.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:19 AM EDT
When Auto-Replace Goes Hilariously Wrong
Topic: The ConWeb

From the Arkansas Blog:

The nutty American Family Association, not busy enough censoring TV programs and such, has programmed its OneNewsNow website, including news searches, to replace the word "gay" in every use with homosexual.

You know where this is going don't you? Don't believe me? Actual search result here, with lead paragraph from top item.

Homosexual breaks Greene's US record in 100 at trials

Jun 29, 2008 ... Tyson Homosexual got quite a fright in his first race Saturday. He set a record in his second. Homosexual broke Maurice Greene's American ...

For those of you who don't read the sports pages: The reference is to Tyson Gay, the former UA sprinter, who just ran the fastest 100 meters ever.

UPDATE: The Washington Post talks to OneNewsNow news director, who says, "We don't object to the word 'gay' " except "when it refers to people who practice a homosexual lifestyle." And the "G" word has "been co-opted by a particular group of people." But numerous words have been co-opted over the centuries; why focus on un-co-opting this particular one?

That's an argument we've heard before. The Washington Times used to claim that the reason it wouldn't use "gay" was to fight "against Orwellian abuse of the English language" and for "preservation of the language." (The Times has since changed its policy and is now using"gay" like everyone else does.)

In the ConWeb, generally refuses to use the word "gay," and WorldNetDaily uses it only in scare quotes. Neither have publicly explained their reasons for doing so. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:43 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 11:27 PM EDT
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

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