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Thursday, August 14, 2008
Aaron Klein Labeling Aversion Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Keeping up his longtime aversion to specifically stating the ideological orientation of right-wing Israeli politicians, an Aug. 13 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein noted that two members of the Knesset who allegedly attempted to claim "ownership of a Jewish-owned Jerusalem property that had been illegally settled by local Arabs" were members of the National Union party, but not that the party is, as Wikipedia states, a right-wing party.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:08 PM EDT
Speaking of Apologies ...
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has ratcheted up a little outrage against Newsday columnist Jenna Kern-Rugile, who suggested that conservative radio hosts played a role in the shooting deaths of two people at a Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee. An Aug. 14 MRC press release quotes Brent Bozell howling:

"Yesterday's Newsday column was absolutely despicable, and they should be ashamed and embarrassed for having printed it.

"Jenna Kern-Rugile's wretched words were nothing more than an in-print character assassination of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, a foray into absurd Leftist delusions of links between them and the vile murderer in a Tennessee church this past July 27.

"This is not a freedom of speech issue. This is Newsday giving this woman a license to assault these fine men in print, accusing them of complicity in murder.

"Newsday should immediately publish a full retraction, and an abject and absolute apology to those defamed by this woman's wretched words. And Ms. Rugile should never again appear in their pages."

We have an idea: Before demanding an apology from others who tie conservative rhetoric to violence, the MRC should apologize for accepting ads over the past year on its NewsBusters website from, which sells a shirt that reads, "Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required." Only then will the MRC have any moral authority to address this issue.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:35 PM EDT
CNS Labeling Bias Watch

An Aug. 14 article by Penny Starr on a ballot measure in South Dakota to ban abortions uses the inaccurate descriptor "pro-abortion" for a group opposed to the measure and the euphemistic descriptor "pro-life" for the anti-abortion groups supporting it.

This follows CNS' longtime labeling bias on the issue.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EDT
New Article: The Newsmax Democrat
Topic: Newsmax
For a self-proclaimed "lifelong Democrat," Jerry Zeifman sure spends a good chunk of his time bashing his alleged fellow Dems on the ConWeb. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:27 AM EDT
AIM Strikes Back
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Bethany Stotts takes us to task in an Aug. 12 Accuracy in Media column for noting that in an earlier item she wrote, she seemed to be ignoring that John Hagee appeared to be retracting his apologies for his hateful remarks about Catholics and blaming Hurricane Katrina on God's desire to smite gays. She writes:

"Stotts ignores that Hagee’s new apparent defense of his inflammatory remarks—and more specifically, his claim that his critics ‘do not understand the Bible view’—seems to contradict his previous retraction of them,” Krepel writes.

The author then goes on to quote Pastor Hagee’s apology about his comments connecting Hurricane Katrina with God’s wrath on homosexuals.

Krepel fabricates a sense of contradiction, underplaying Hagee’s consistent stance on his belief in God’s sovereignty.


Pastor Hagee said at the 2008 CUFI summit that “It is deeply troubling to pick up a newspaper and read sweeping condemnations of things you did in fact say but which are not new or controversial to those who believe in an all-powerful God who is sovereign and intervenes in human history.”

In both instances, Pastor Hagee was consistent in his assertions about God’s sovereignty and control over human events.

The question is not whether Hagee was consistent in invoking "God’s sovereignty and control over human events"; it's whether his insistence that his critics "do not understand the Bible view" means that Hagee still believes the claim he had to publicly retract because of those critics -- that God sent Katrina to smite gays.

As for Hagee's statements about Catholics, Stotts notes "If Pastor Hagee were intent on 'attacking' Catholics, it wouldn’t make much sense to invite them to his Summit. During the banquet Pastor Hagee recognized Bill Donohue and two other Catholic leaders as his honored guests." Stotts added an excerpt from Hagee's Christians United for Israel speech in which he proclaimed his "greater understanding" of Catholics, adding, "Perhaps Krepel didn’t actually listen to Pastor Hagee’s speech?"

Well, we never claimed to be going by anything beyond AIM's own video of excerpted remarks by Hagee and others from the CUFI event. But we'll concede the point that Hagee genuinely appears to want a rapprochement with Catholics.

Stotts wasn't done with us, however: 

Krepel’s column is most dishonest in that not only does he focus on unrelated—and unfounded—topics, but criticizes this correspondent for getting distracted by the very purpose of my original article. “Perhaps because she was too busy trying to decouple Hagee from McCain, even though prominent McCain supporter Joe Lieberman was a featured speaker at Hagee’s CUFI event,” writes Krepel. Mr. Krepel thereby shows that he either failed to grasp the original message of the article or intends to mislead his audience about AIM’s reporting. 

He writes,

“Would Stotts let Obama get away with Barack Obama, for instance, claiming that a close adviser who, say, spoke at an event that also featured Rev. Jeremiah Wright was acting "independent" from him? We suspect not.”

Regardless of the arrogance communicated by his claim to know how a person he has never met would act in a hypothetical situation, Krepel’s argument is logically inconsistent.

We can agree to disagree about to what extent Hagee is McCain's Rev. Wright. But it's not at all arrogant to forward the claim that Stotts has a interest in minimizing the McCain-Lieberman-Hagee triumverate to benefit McCain -- indeed, that seemed to be the whole point of her original article. And certainly these sorts of double standards, real or hypothetical, exist on both sides of the political spectrum -- Stotts might want to have a chat with her AIM seniors on the subject of political scandals reported in supermarket tabloids. And besides, as Peggy Noonan might say, it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

Stotts concludes by claiming that we "focus more on fitting Accuracy in Media’s reporting to a preconceived ideological model rather than the dissemination of truthful and accurate information." But by immediately labeling us as a "left-wing blog," she does the exact same thing, never mind that we don't endorse candidates or advocate for political viewpoints, left-wing or otherwise.

Finally, nowhere does Stotts link in her column to the article of ours that she's criticizing. What's up with that? 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 AM EDT
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Just Asking ...
Topic: NewsBusters

Last December, when a man took hostages at a Hillary Clinton campaign office in New Hampshire, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard wondered if Hillary "orchestrated this entire crisis to make herself look battle-hardened."

Is Sheppard similarly wondering if the shooting death of the Arkansas Democratic Party chairman was staged by Democratic officials in order to generate a sympathy vote?

Posted by Terry K. at 10:30 PM EDT
WND Still Misleads on Christian Textbook Lawsuit
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Aug. 12 WorldNetDaily article misleadingly claims that a court ruling means that the University of California "discriminate against coursework done by high school students that includes a Christian viewpoint," further claiming that the ruling "concluded the UC system was correct to reject courses from major book publishers, including Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books, a Florida publishing powerhouse, because they include a Christian perspective."

In fact, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, "U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking."

The unbylined WND article goes on to misleadingly assert: "According to the lawsuit, a variety of textbooks with supplemental perspectives were accepted – just not those with a Christian perspective." In fact, according to the Chronicle (and not mentioned by WND):

[T]he university has approved many courses containing religious material and viewpoints, including some that use such texts as "Chemistry for Christian Schools" and "Biology: God's Living Creation," or that include scientific discussions of creationism as well as evolution.

UC denies credit to courses that rely largely or entirely on material stressing supernatural over historic or scientific explanations, though it has approved such texts as supplemental reading, the judge said.


Another rejected text, "Biology for Christian Schools," declares on the first page that "if (scientific) conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong," Otero said.

He also said the Christian schools presented no evidence that the university's decisions were motivated by hostility to religion.

The WND article also failed, as did a previous article, to explain or justify a biology textbook that does not put science first.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:33 PM EDT
Massie Demands the Right To Be A Gluttonous Pig
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In the process of bashing Barack obama's statement that "I don't believe that America is what it could be [or] what it once was" in his Aug. 12 WorldNetDaily column, Mychal Massie writes:

When a presidential candidate says, "[We] Americans can't drive our SUVs and [cannot] eat as much as we want and [cannot] keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to be okay." When he states emphatically that this will not be the case under his leadership – I submit that we can conclude what kind of country he believes America "could be." The problem is, that's not the kind of country our Founding Fathers envisioned nor is it the kind of nation a majority of Americans want to live in.

Really? The Founding Fathers wanted Americans to needlessly waste natural resources and stuff our faces until achieving a Creosote-esque explosion? We don't recall seeing that in the Federalist Papers.

Indeed, Massie's column is filled with ludicrous statements. Like this one: "America today is no longer a nation where her sovereignty is honored. Illegal aliens are not to be called what they are, but rather undocumented immigrants." But if they lack proper documentation and are immigrating, they are, in fact, undocumented immigrants. 

Massie also asserts: "Today, businesses like Tyson Foods disallow long-standing national holidays, such as Labor Day – choosing instead to honor Muslim holidays – as if America should be beholding to same." In fact, as even WND reported, a single Tyson plant moved an employee holiday from Labor Day to Eid al-Fitr at the request of the workers there. Are workers not allowed to choose what holiday to have off if the management agrees to it?

And it wouldn't be a Massie column if he didn't throw in some big ol' five-dollar word. Today's word is "picrotoxin":

Obama has absorbed the barbiturates of hatred, class envy, redistribution of wealth and government control. So extreme are the levels of said anti-American toxins in his core being, it's doubtful there exists picrotoxin in sufficient supply to save him and the country from his political poisoning should he win the presidency.

Massie's Obama-hate has been at Derangement Syndrome levels for a while now.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:31 AM EDT
Bozell's Tabloid Double Standard (And A Bunch of Misleading Claims)
Topic: Media Research Center

Brent Bozell goes on a remarkable run of misstatements in his Aug. 12 column while ranting against the media for not taking a supermarket tabloid's claims about John Edwards' affair at face value, as well as purported disparate treatment of Republican scandals:

Ask yourself: what did Rev. Ted Haggard's use of drugs and male prostitutes in Colorado have to do with the national Republican Party?

Who says he did? Not the media (in the U.S., anyway). Plug in "ted haggard republican" into Google, and the first hit is an article from the British newspaper the Guardian claiming that "The Republican party today was assessing the potential political fallout" from the Haggard scandal." The second is a satirical article from The Onion claiming that Haggard "revealed Wednesday that he was repeatedly molested by an unnamed Republican congressman in the late 1990s," adding, "Authorities have not acted on Haggard's allegations, saying that Republicans are often accused of wrongdoings simply because so many of them lead secret gay or criminal lifestyles." The only other article from a news organization, real or otherwise, on the first page of Google's results is a Rocky Mountain News article noting that Haggard has "direct access to President Bush," noting that "Republicans - who have leaned enormously on the vote of conservative Christians in recent years - already reeling from a series of congressional scandals." That would seem to answer Bozell's question.

Or Mark Foley's dirty Internet messages to congressional pages?

We'll let the New York Times answer that one: "Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues."

What did Larry Craig's shoe placement in an airport bathroom in 2007 have to do with the Republican Party as a whole? The media treated that story as a much larger scoop than John Edwards cheating on the wife dying of cancer.

Let's see ... one case involved (at the time) unverified rumors promoted by a supermarket tabloid of someone who holds no political office and ceased being a candidate several months ago, the other involved an on-the-record guilty plea of a sitting congressman. Further, Edwards' affair is reported to have occured in 2006; Elizabeth Edwards' recurrence of breast cancer, which she may or may not be "dying" from, was revealed in March 2007.

[T]he very same media that almost immediately spread unproven trash on John McCain's alleged "romantic" relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman because the source was the allegedly professional New York Times now remained as quiet as a cabin full of Carthusian monks.

First, the Times never claimed McCain and Iseman had an affair; rather, the article noted that "Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself" and that "to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity."

Second, Bozell was singing a different tune about his new favorite supermarket taboid of choice just a few short months ago. Back in February, Bozell was attacking the Times over the McCain-Iseman story for being -- wait for it -- "fit to print only for the likes of the National Enquirer."

Bozell isn't slagging the "the likes of" the Enquirer now. Double standard much?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:34 AM EDT
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
New WND Bumper Sticker More or Less Endorses McCain
Topic: WorldNetDaily

None of the above? Never mind.

In apparent contradiction of WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah's "none of the above" campaign, WND is now selling a new bumper sticker: "Better an imperfect Republican than a perfect socialist."

The WND store page for the sticker tries hard to put a positive spin on it: "If you're not convinced McCain is right for the job, but think anyone would be better than Obama , this bumper sticker is perfect for expressing that position." (Bold and underlined type in the original.)

This -- on top of WND's hands-off-McCain news policy and managing editor David Kupelian's endorsement of McCain -- undercuts even further Farah's "none of the above" campaign (and related book), not to mention contradicts its own lame "McCain Not Able" sticker.

Farah needs to stop pretending that he and his company haven't taken sides and just tell everyone to vote for McCain already.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:57 PM EDT
Finkelstein: Obama's 'New Economy' = Commie Central Planning
Topic: NewsBusters

Has Mark Finkelstein been reading a little too much Cliff Kincaid?

Seems so. Finkelstein forwards a different take on Kincaid's Barack-Obama-is-a-secret-commie meme in an Aug. 11 NewsBusters post by making the logical leap that a statement in an Obama commercial referencing a "new economy" means that Obama embraces communist-style central planning:

If Barack Obama makes it to the White House, perhaps he should appoint Chris Matthews Commissar of Gosplan, the Commission charged with developing the economy's Five Year Plans.  The Hardball host, back from vacation, displayed the enthusiasm of a dutiful apparatchik in praising an Obama ad that in turn amounted to a pitch for central planning.


I find the ad threatening and sinister as hell.  "A new vision for our economy"?  Thanks, but I like the old vision.  You know, the one based on capitalism and free markets in which millions of consumers, through billions of transactions, decide what goods and services are provided and what price they're willing to pay.  "America's future is in our hands"?  Translation: in big government's hands.  What could be less cheerful than that? But Matthews and [Andrea] Mitchell dug it.

All hail the inevitable triumph of the centrally planned economy!

When, exactly, did Obama endorse central planning? Finkelstein doesn't say -- perhaps because Obama never has. Perhaps Finkelstein needs to take his fevered brain on vacation.

But Finkelstein isn't the only person drawing an MRC paycheck currently trying to link Obama to communists. An Aug. 12 article by Fred Lucas goes the Aaron Klein guilt-by-association route by playing up praise for Obama in a Communist Party newspaper.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:31 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 3:35 PM EDT
Gainor Misleads on 4-Day Workweek

An Aug. 11 column by Dan Gainor, head of the MRC's Business & Media Institute, falsely claims that a 4-day workweek for governmental employees equals "either ... a 25-percent increase in taxes or a 20-percent cut in services." Gainor doesn't explain how that can be, given that those governmental workers are actually putting in the same number of hours.

Nevertheless, Gainor goes on:

It’s simple math. If you pay to use government services five days a week and you only get four, that’s 20 percent less government for the same amount of money. (Or even more money if they raise your taxes at the same time.) While there is a strong case to cut government by 20 percent, it should include a 20-percent reduction in taxes.
Not likely. Instead, government continues to grow and what we get for our money continues to shrink.

Gainor seems not to have considered the possibility that governmental agencies would stagger those 4-day workweeks so that an office can remain open for a full five workdays.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:24 PM EDT
AIM's Tabloid Double Standard
Topic: Accuracy in Media

An Aug. 11 Accuracy in Media blog post by Don Irvine defends the honor of the National Enquirer over the John Edwards affair. After quoting New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt saying that the Enquirer issed "one sensational report after another" and noting that the Times "did not want to regurgitate the Enquirer’s reporting without verifying it," Irvine added: "Note the condescending attitude of Hoyt by equating the Enquirer with the gutter." (He then declares that "I am no fan of the Enquirer.")

But AIM had a much different view when the Enquirer and sister tabloids were repeating a claim that President Bush was having an affair with Condoleezza Rice and "shocking information about how the Bush Administration has failed to respond to terrorist threats." From a June 2006 AIM column by Cliff Kincaid:

While no conclusions can be made at this point about the politics involved with the latest attack on Bush, it should be noted that one of the main financial sponsors of [Enquirer owner] American Media, Inc. is Evercore Partners, an investment firm whose chairman is former Clinton Administration Treasury official Roger C. Altman. 

So how does ownership of the Enquirer by a former Clinton crony figure into its reporting on Edwards' affair? Irvine and Kincaid don't say. AIM thus joins the rest of the ConWeb in their selective outrage against supermarket tabloids, denouncing them when they report unflattering things about conservatives and treating them as legitimate when they report unflattering things about liberals.

But if we are now to believe that everything in the Enquirer is unquestionably true, then this must be too:


Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal.

Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe.

Will Irvine and Kincaid vouch for the Enquirer here as well?

Speaking of Kincaid, he spends his Aug. 11 column trying to steer the conversation his (creepily obsessed) direction, insisting that Barack Obama being a secret commie is a much bigger deal than Edwards:

The John Edwards affair is a chilling reminder that Democratic cover-ups can succeed, with the help of the media, and that even the most sophisticated “investigative” reporters are prepared to overlook potential Democratic scandals.


The implication of the Edwards scandal is that, if ABC News’s top investigative reporter could take Edwards’ side, without any serious checking of the facts, then other candidates may be concealing scandals and hoping and planning to get away with it.

Not that AIM and Kincaid haved worked all that hard to uncover any Bush administration scandals, mind you.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:21 AM EDT
Kessler's Cut-And-Paste Double Fluff
Topic: Newsmax

In writing a fawning Aug. 11 Newsmax profile of Richard Grenell, Bush-appointed spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Ronald Kessler wrote that "Grenell has advised four U.S. ambassadors — John D. Negroponte, John C. Danforth, John R. Bolton, and Zalmay Khalilzad the current U.S. ambassador — on the formulation and articulation of U.S. policy at the United Nations."

Does that sound familiar? It should, because that comes almost word-for-word from Grenell's official bio:

Mr. Grenell has advised four U.S. Ambassadors - John D. Negroponte, John C. Danforth, John R. Bolton and Zalmay Khalilzad - on the formulation and articulation of United States policy at the United Nations.

That phrase from his bio also appears on Grenell's Wikipedia page. Apparently, Kessler was so busy fluffing Grenell that he had time only to cut-and-paste Grenell's background.

Curiously, this appears to be the same exact article by Kessler that Newsmax posted five days earlier. The only difference between the two that we noted is that the newer one includes a picture of Grenell. What gives? Is Grenell so nice that Kessler fluffed him twice?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:41 AM EDT
Monday, August 11, 2008
Timmerman Mum on Political Agenda of Vet 'Reporters'
Topic: Newsmax

An Aug. 10 Newsmax column by Ken Timmerman highlights a "group of eight citizen-soldier-reporters" who "returned to Iraq last week as civilians to embed as reporters with their former units, to tell the story of recent successes in the war they believe the media is not accurately reporting to the American people."

That's the closest that Timmerman gets to hinting at the agenda of the "citizen-soldier-reporters" he is featuring. The group is associated with Vets for Freedom -- which, as Salon details, not only supports the Iraq war but "has a remarkable number of ties -- some previously unreported -- to Republicans generally and John McCain's campaign specifically. And it has run attack ads against Barack Obama." Timmerman quotes VFF leader Pete Hegseth as part of the group but fails to note, as Salon did, that Hegseth has campaigned for John McCain. Salon adds:

Under the Pentagon's standards for Iraq embeds, the people that Vets for Freedom is sending to Iraq qualify as journalists. Six of them have impeccable military credentials but no reporting experience, with clippings largely limited to Op-Eds. A would-be embed, however, needs only to provide the military's public affairs officers with three samples of published or broadcast work, and proof that he or she is credentialed by a publication. Three conservative media outlets -- the Weekly Standard, National Review Online and – have provided the eight members of VFF's Iraq team with credentials.


From the mission statement that appears on VFF's Web site, it's also clear that the purpose of what it has dubbed the "Back to Iraq" trip fits within the bounds of journalism, albeit advocacy journalism of the foregone-conclusion variety, strident conservative division. "Its [sic] essential for the American people to know the facts about what is happening in Iraq. Some media outlets, and certain politicians, still fail to assess the situation objectively; so Vets for Freedom is heading Back to Iraq to let them know what has been accomplished, what still needs to be done, and how we should proceed in order to attain sustainable security in Iraq."

But VFF's representatives in Iraq are political activists first, and journalists second. Or third.


VFF's decision to embed reporters does raise concerns for experts in media ethics. Christopher Hanson, an associate professor at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism who researches media-military relations and who covered the first Gulf War, says that "subsidized journalism" funded by nonprofits "is on the rise across the political spectrum." He doesn't think that's necessarily a bad thing as long as there's full disclosure of the funding. But he also thinks that VFF's case brings with it a different set of issues. "If essentially you have reporters who are the founders and the activists in the organization, then getting credentialed and going with preconceptions ... and then going out and campaigning, that's highly questionable, and that deserves scrutiny. It seems to me that to some extent the question is, Is there any chance that any of them change their views or is it simply a kind of a fraud?" Hanson said, cautioning that he doesn't know the group's intentions and is not accusing them of fraud.

"It's not independent journalism," says Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute. "If I were [VFF], I'd be saying, 'Gosh, the Army should be paying me PR fees.'"

Timmerman reports none of this about the VFF "citizen-soldier-reporters" he features in his article.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:58 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, August 14, 2008 1:34 AM EDT

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