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Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Then and Now
Topic: NewsBusters

Now that the National Enquirer has been vindicated for revealing John Edwards' affair last October, liberals in the media are having to explain why they ignored this story for many months.

-- Noel Sheppard, Aug. 10 NewsBusters post

Tabloids Gone Wild: Palin in the Checkout Counter Crosshairs


Take your change and sexist attacks on a woman we'd be heaping praise upon if she was a Democrat.

-- Noel Sheppard, Sept. 3 NewsBusters post

Note that in the tabloid-cover montage that accompanies Sheppard's post, the name of the publication with the headline "Sarah Palin's DARK SECRETS!" has been cropped out. That's the National Enqurier, Sheppard's favorite publication just a few short weeks ago. It's the ConWeb's tabloid double standard at work.

UPDATE: Warner Todd Huston grumbles: "And the smear train rolls onward... now the National Enquirer is set to publish a front-pager claiming that Governor Sarah Palin has had a sexual affair outside of her marriage to husband Todd Palin." But less than a month ago, Huston was defending the honor of the Enquirer and its "basically true" reporting on Edwards against "the Old Media deciding when something is officially 'news.'"

Posted by Terry K. at 8:15 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 9:00 PM EDT
NewsBusters Rushes to Palin's Defense
Topic: NewsBusters

The folks at NewsBusters have their ration of Sarah Palin Kool-Aid, and they're drinking deeply.

-- A Sept. 3 post by Matthew Sheffield suggested that CNN's Campbell Brown will "go down as the next Dan Rather in the halls of liberal bias infamy" because of an interview with McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds in which he repeatedly refused to give a straight answer to Brown's question of what kind of foreign-policy experience or even "one decision that she made as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard." Sheffield put his own spin on it, of course, asserting that Brown "repeatedly attacked Bounds over Sarah Palin's supposed lack of qualifications" and failing to note that Bounds never bother to actually answer the question he was asked. Sheffield also portrayed it as some kind of vindication that in a later segment on CNN, "Brown admitted that Palin had, in fact, deployed the Alaska National Guard to fight forest fires."

-- A Sept. 3 post by Kerry Picket complained that Chris Matthews portrayed Palin was "a member of Alaska’s Independence party," even after "Howard Fineman mentioned he received documentation from the McCain campaign showing Palin had been a registered Republican since 1982 and never a member of the Alaskan Independence party," finally declaring, "The connection to Palin still remains weak." Picket doesn't mention that Palin's husband was an actual member in the party or that Palin apparently attended the party's convention with her husband in 1994. (UPDATE: And also sent video messages to the party's 2006 and 2008 conventions and "visited" the 2000 convention.)

Picket added: "If the media is so interested in fringe movements candidates were actually involved in, the currently ignored Annenberg papers provide all the information needed." But they're not being ignored; they're being sifted through right now -- and it's all boring:

There are boxes and boxes of documents on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a multi-million dollar non-profit project designed to improve public education in Chicago. Much of the paper in the CAC collection released Tuesday [August 26] and reviewed thus far appears to be routine correspondence.


Most of the documents that journalists have reviewed thus far deal with correspondence and budget issues.

That report adds: "The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was set up to support school reform, promote literacy, teacher training and community involvement in Chicago Public Schools." Picket seems to think such things are "fringe."

-- A Sept. 3 post by Terry Trippany desperately tries to spin Palin's laughing along with a radio host's depiction of another Alaska politician, Lyda Green, as a "cancer" (Green is a cancer survivor) and a "bitch." Trippany insists that things are "woefully out of context" and that "Palin appeared to be caught off guard and gave a short laugh while [radio host Bob] Lester continued to criticize Green." Trippany then tries to make the case that Green really is a bitch:

The interview focused around Lyda Green's attempt to delay the start of the Senate's legislative session to coincide with the start time of Sarah Palin's state of the state address. A month earlier Palin had requested and received approval from the House for a special 6:00 p.m. start time so that she could attend her son Track's Army boot camp graduation to the infantry. Green was well aware of this fact and appeared to be stonewalling as some sort of plan to make life difficult for Governor Palin. This became evident as the excuses for not being able to make the 1:00 p.m. scheduled start of the Senate legislative session began to fall apart. All of this was explained by Palin in the full uneditied clip of her radio interview.

Nice one. Trippany fails to mention the bio of Palin's radio buddy, Bob Lester:

Today I find myself working the morning shift on 106.5 K-Whale. It has been the best radio job I have ever had, unless you count that one gig where I was the intern for an all-lesbian station in Switzerland I worked at as a lotion applicator. No, wait a minute…that’s my favorite masturbation fantasy….never mind.

Food: Anything raw or cooked,
Drink: Milk. (Honestly…especially breast milk…I miss mom.)
TV show: Deadliest Catch.
Movie: Asian prison sluts in heat part 4. (Although part 3 is a close second.)

Wouldn't professional prude Brent Bozell be going after this guy if he wasn't so hypocritical about such things?

-- A Sept. 3 post by Warner Todd Huston uncritically repeated McCain operative Steve Schmidt's assertion that "the media has deluged the campaign with demands that it provide DNA samples to 'prove' that baby Trig is the true offspring of vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin." As TPM notes, quoting a political "insider":

First of all, that's the first time I've heard anyone in the campaign/political press throw out the notion of paternity tests. So Schmidt is to blame for bringing that issue into the mainstream. If anyone is smearing the candidate, it's Schmidt. This is as cynical a tactic as I've ever seen in politics.

Secondly, how can it be a "smear" if it was during an off the record lunch with McCain campaign aides?

Thirdly, hey, colleagues, you're on notice: Steve Schmidt does not respect "off the record." Watch your backs, my friends.

Wasn't NewsBusters a few days ago touting how keeping conservative secrets is the epitome of journalistic integrity?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:34 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 4, 2008 1:35 AM EDT
Ponte: Media Is Racist for Noting Palin Hubby's DUI
Topic: Newsmax

Lowell Ponte takes a massive leap of logic, not to mention common sense, in his Sept. 2 Newsmax column:

[Sarah Palin's] husband, the liberal media reported, back in the 1980s got a ticket for driving “under the influence.”

This seemingly trivial story is actually the opening wedge of a multi-pronged orchestrated left-wing attack designed to appeal to the racism that has always been at the heart of the Democratic Party.

Palin’s husband, you see, is part Native American. His ancestors include Inuits, i.e., Eskimos. But if this fact enters the news untinted by left-wing bias, it would show Gov. Palin to be inclusive, non-racist, and noble — qualities the media intends to prevent voters from seeing.

The liberal media is therefore falsely implying that Palin’s husband is alcoholic, and from there it will echo those left-wing blogs who paint him with the “drunken Indian” racist stereotype long promoted by Democrats.

Huh? When has any major media figure -- or even a minor one -- claimed that Todd Palin's DUI was a direct result of being of Eskimo descent? And when have Democrats ever described Native Americans as "drunken Indians"? We challenge Ponte to substantiate his claims.

Ponte also drops a reference to "honest watchdog group[s] such as the Media Research Center" -- even though, you know, they're not -- which tells you just how much of the right-wing Kool-Aid Ponte has been swilling these past few days.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:54 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 12:57 PM EDT
NewsBusters' Double Standard on AP Candidate Advice
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Aug. 27 NewsBusters post, P.J. Gladnick was complaining that the Associated Press "flat out offered helpful campaign tips to Barack Obama," to which Gladnick added, "I don't know why these AP writers don't just go on the Obama campaign payroll."

Well, there's a new AP article out, and it's offering helpful campaign tips to ...  John McCain.

Will Gladnick urge the writer of this article to join the McCain campaign payroll? Don't count on it. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:09 AM EDT
Newsmax's Hirsen Puffs Up Palin's 'Sports Reporter' Experience
Topic: Newsmax

Here's a fun piece of desperate Palin puffery, courtesy of James Hirsen in his Sept. 2 Newsmax column:

Sarah Palin's Reporter Experience Gives Mainstream Media the Jitters

Prior to serving in elective office, Sarah Palin, John McCain's pick for his running mate, was a sports reporter.

Known by her maiden name, Sarah Heath, she worked for KTUU, an affiliate of NBC in Anchorage, Alaska.

Having been a point guard in high school basketball, Palin was able to handle play-by-play analysis of college basketball games. She also reported on other sports including the Iditarod dog sled race.

According to People magazine, she once admonished former L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to relax more.

Palin's experience as a journalist should really come in handy when the mainstream press start brandishing their long knives, hoping for the Alaska governor to make a geographic error or mispronounce the name of an obscure world leader.

So, Palin's couple years of work 20 years back as a sports reader for a local TV station in Alaska is supposed to give "the mainstream press" and longtime reporters for national news organizations the "jitters" ... how, exactly?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:12 AM EDT
New Article: Joseph Farah vs. WorldNetDaily
Topic: WorldNetDaily
If the WND founder is so committed to his "None of the Above" campaign opposing both Barack Obama and John McCain, why is his website's news coverage attacking only Obama while promoting McCain's campaign talking points? Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:30 AM EDT
Kincaid Peddles False Obama Birth Certificate Claim, Misleads on Palin 'Troopergate'
Topic: Accuracy in Media

From Cliff Kincaid's Sept. 2 Accuracy in Media column:

DailyKos got the leak from the Obama campaign of the candidate’s alleged birth certificate, an announcement intended to put to rest all of the questions about whether Obama is a natural-born citizen and passes the basic constitutional requirement to be president. Is the document real? I have not seen any investigative reporters from the major media assigned to this story. Instead, they’re sniffing around Palin’s family, which is something they had no desire to do while John Edwards was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife. 

In contrast to the Palin story, which will probably continue for weeks, the Obama birth certificate controversy has been left alone by the major media. They have simply assumed¯because they favor his candidacy¯that Obama, with a history of being moved from country to country under different names, is a legitimate U.S. citizen. A lawsuit has been filed challenging Obama’s qualifications to be president and some bloggers say the birth certificate is a fraud. But it’s not an issue for the major media. They would rather examine photos of Bristol Palin’s tummy.

In fact, the Obama birth certificate has been investigated and declared authentic by sources ranging from to WorldNetDaily. It's only far-right nutters like Kincaid and Israel Insider that are still pedding this soundly discredited claim.

Kincaid also misleadingly oversimplifies Palin's "troopergate" controversy, claiming it is only about Palin being "under investigation for trying to fire a state trooper who threatened members of her family," adding, " trying to fire a trooper who threatened your family doesn’t strike most people as improper or illegal." Josh Marshall provides the full context, pointing out that the trooper in question is Palin's ex-brother-in-law "who's embroiled in a bitter custody and divorce battle with Palin's sister":

Most people who are familiar with the ugliness that often spills out of custody and divorce cases know to take accusations arising out of the course of them with a grain of salt unless you know a lot about the people involved. And if you look closely at the case there are numerous reasons to question the picture drawn by the Palin family.


The Palin family had a feud with Wooten prior to her becoming governor. They put together a list of 14 accusations which they took to the state police to investigate -- a list that ranged from the quite serious to the truly absurd. The state police did an investigation, decided that 5 of the charges had some merit and suspended Wooten for ten days -- a suspension later reduced to five days. The Palin's weren't satisfied but there wasn't much they could do.

When Palin became governor they went for another bite at the apple.


The available evidence now suggests that she 1) tried to have an ex-relative fired from his job for personal reasons, something that was clearly inappropriate, and perhaps illegal, though possibly understandable in human terms, 2) fired a state official for not himself acting inappropriately by firing the relative, 3) lied to the public about what happened and 4) continues to lie about what happened.

Will Kincaid tell his readers the full truth about Palin's "troopergate"? We'd do it ourselves, but AIM has shut off the comment thread for Kincaid's column. Why? Perhaps because Kincaid's tired of AIM commenters confronting him with actual facts (as the lengthy comment thread on this Aug. 27 Kincaid column illustrates).

Posted by Terry K. at 12:13 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Meanwhile ...
Topic: Media Research Center

CJR notes that it was just a few short months ago that the Media Research Center was complaining that the media was paying too little attention to Sarah Palin's kids.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:09 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 11:09 PM EDT
Obama Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Another of my late grandmother's many sayings was: "Sometimes it's hard to tell which is worse – the smell from the pile in the pasture or the flies it draws." Thus, in 21 words, she summed up my thoughts, feelings and disgust for the Obamas and their view of America.

Mychal Massie, Sept. 2 WorldNetDaily column

Posted by Terry K. at 4:40 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 5:53 PM EDT
NewsBusters Flip-Flops on Popularity of Politicians
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 2 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein expresses shock that "Andrea Mitchell has suggested that the intensity of Palin's popularity . . . could be a bad thing," adding, "Andrea can bask in the glory of her Reverse Alchemy Award: turning the gold of Palin's popularity into lead."

But isn't that what Finkelstein and the rest of his NewsBusters cohorts have been doing to Barack Obama ever since the message (read: talking point) came down from on high (read: McCain campaign headquarters) that Obama is merely a Paris Hilton-like celebrity, meaning that his popularity ... is a bad thing. Count the references to "Obamessiah" (including by Finkelstein himself) and "Obama celebrity" on NewsBusters for a clue.

Is there a difference? We don't see one.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:16 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 4:20 PM EDT
Speaking of Utter Shamelessness ...
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 2 Media Research Center press release howls about the "utter shamelessness" of "the leftist media" for not reporting only positive things about Sarah Palin. The MRC does know from utter shamelessness.

While the press release offers a blanket indictmenty of "leftist media" coverage, it offers only two examples. The first was CNN's John Roberts asking whether "the role of vice president" would detract from Palin caring for an infant with "Down's [sic] syndrome." Roberts was attacked as having "dove right down to the bottom" by asking this. The release also cited ABC "Good Morning America" anchor Bill Weir asking essentially the same question; he was portrayed as engaging in "brutality."

But right-wingers are asking this too. From a Sept. 2 WorldNetDaily column by Olivia St. John:

Last April, when Palin gave birth to her fifth child, she dutifully returned to her work as governor after three days. A few years prior, while serving as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she kept her infant daughter in a car seat under her desk while she worked in her office.

At a time when many former feminists cry foul upon realizing they were duped into thinking they could do it all, few seem to be asking if Palin can do it all.

Does the MRC think St. John is diving to the bottom too?

The release also claimed that "the announcement of the preganacy of Gov. Palin's 17 year-old daughter Bristol elicited more of the same low-rent reporting," but no examples are offered. Again, St. John:

Bristol Palin, the 17-year-old, unmarried daughter of Sarah Palin, is pregnant. Although she plans to keep the baby and marry the father, her immoral shortcoming is still clear for the nation (and world) to see. Is it possible that her very busy, avowedly-feminist mother, the governor of Alaska and presumptive Republican vice-presidential candidate, could have made a moral difference, had she been more available for her daughter?

Is St. John being "low-rent"? Will the MRC denounce her too, or will it just stick to the script (and the fund-rasing mantra) and bash the "leftist media" even though the evidence that it offered of the crimes it purportedly committed is scanty at best?

Looks like the latter. The release quotes Brent Bozell ranting: "These alleged journalists are again demonstrating what utter charlatans they are. ... These are not reporters, these are hypocritical left-wing advocates using their First Amendment rights as clubs to bludgeon and abuse this fine woman with the lowliest attacks they can drum up."

Speaking of hypocritical: Eight months ago, as we noted, Bozell was attacking pregnant teen Jamie Lynn Spears as a "loser" and bashing Spears mom because "she doesn’t know diddly about parenting celebrity children."

UPDATE: Bozell's Sept. 2 column touches on the same talking points but with different adjectives, this time calling Roberts' question "intensely ugly and personal." For good hateful measure, Bozell throws in a reference to the misleading and subjective National Journal ranking of Barack Obama as "the most liberal Senator."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:37 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 11:36 PM EDT
CNS Uncritically Repeats False McCain Claim
A Sept. 1 article by Susan Jones uncritically repeated John McCain's claim that his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, "was in elected office when Sen. [Barack] Obama was still a local community organizer." While Jones goes on to list the experience of both Palin and Obama, which hints that Palin was not "in elected office" while Obama was a community organizer, at no point does she note that McCain's claim is false.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:19 AM EDT
Ron Kessler McCain-Fluffing Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler keeps up his McCain flip-flop in an Aug. 31 Newsmax column, asserting that "John McCain is both a master politician and genuine" as demonstrated by his choosing of Sarah Palin as vice president:

In choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain wooed women voters to his side, lent sparkle to his own persona, and created excitement and media buzz about his candidacy. In selecting a vice presidential candidate with impeccable conservative credentials, he energized conservatives who were lukewarm about his run and now say they will work for him.


Most important, in demonstrating that he is true to his conservative voting record, McCain showed that he is the real thing.

Meanwhile, Kessler resorted to the same old misleading attacks on Barack Obama:

In contrast, when Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, there was a disconnect between many of the sentiments he expressed and his own record and previous positions during the primaries.

Suddenly, we heard that Obama would eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and would cut taxes on 95 percent of working families. While calling for an end to partisan bickering, he engaged in partisan attacks throughout much of his speech. Suddenly, Obama was for oil drilling as a “stop-gap measure.” Suddenly, he was full of praise for America, its soldiers, and its values.

That is not the Obama who sat for 20 years in the pews of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.’s church, where the pastor said America created the AIDS virus to kill off blacks.

“Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run,” Wright said. “America is still the No. 1 killer in the world.”

Nor were Obama’s comments consistent with Michelle Obama’s statement that, for the first time in her adult life, she is proud of her country.

Kessler offers no evidence to back up his claims, which seem painfully ironic given Kessler's own massive flip-flop on McCain. In fact, for instance, contrary to Kessler's claim, as far back as June, Obama was saying that he would not raise capital gains taxes on individuals with income of less than $250,000.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EDT
Monday, September 1, 2008
Double Standard on Pregnant Teens
Topic: NewsBusters

Jacob S. Lybbert writes in a Sept. 1 NewsBusters post:

I think I've got it now. These are the MSM rules when dealing with the personal lives of national candidates and/or members of their family:

Given the chance to publicly embarrass and humiliate a Republican candidate's 17 year old daughter, do it.

If it's a moralizing former Democratic candidate for president, well, leave that to the National Enquirer.

Today, to head off the many tawdry rumors being passed back and forth between the Daily Kos diarists and their plagiarists in the MSM, the McCain camp announced that Governor Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant.

Um, when did the MSM report on any of the Palin pregnancy rumors? (The Times of London, right-leaning and Murdoch-owned, doesn't count.) Indeed, this story didn't make the MSM until the McCain camp made this announcement about the daughter's pregnancy.

Nevertheless, Lybbert goes on:

Unfortunately for the Palin's, they can count on increased scrutiny and criticism of their parenting and their daughter. Stay tuned as the schaedenfreudists of the left laugh about the "irony" of a social conservative with a pregnant daughter. The truth is, these types of things happen to the best of parents--even parents like the Palins.

How does Lybbert know that Sarah Palin and her husband are "the best of parents"? he doesn't say.

Besides, this newfound laid-back treatment of pregnant teenagers conflicts with the MRC's previous attitude on the subject. From MRC chief Brent Bozell's Dec. 28, 2007, column:

The year ended with the news that Britney’s 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn Spears, a star of the children’s channel Nickelodeon, was pregnant.

Had the youngest Spears sister been cast as a tawdry teenage tramp on “Desperate Housewives,” her real-world behavior would be seen as less scandalous. But Jamie Lynn Spears has been a fairly wholesome star on Nickelodeon since she joined the kiddie sketch-comedy show “All That” at the tender age of 11. She’s currently the cool title character of the show “Zoey 101,” set at a boarding school, a show watched by millions of grade-schoolers. So much for role models.

At the center of this vortex is the mother, Lynne Spears, who had her publishing contract “delayed indefinitely” for a book on parenting celebrity children, now that it’s painfully apparent she doesn’t know diddly about parenting celebrity children. The Spears family and their long trail of tabloid embarrassments make them some of 2007's biggest losers.

Got that? Jamie Lynn Spears is a "loser," but Bristol Palin is being unfairly embarrassed in public, even though both engaged in the exact same behavior.

UPDATE: Mark Finkelstein weighs in: "Yes, teenagers have sex, including children of the prominent and pro-life. Does ABC mean to imply that Sarah Palin is [a] poor mother? Bristol Palin ... is keeping the baby and marrying the father. Shouldn't we be celebrating those choices and the mother who instilled the values they reflect?" We wonder: Did Finkelstein celebrate Jamie Lynn Spears' choice?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:41 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 1, 2008 5:43 PM EDT
Will WND Confront Israel Insider?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've noted that WorldNetDaily conceded last week that the faked-Obama-birth-certificate conspiracy meme has no basis in fact. From the Aug. 23 WND article:

A separate WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic. The investigation also revealed methods used by some of the bloggers to determine the document was fake involved forgeries, in that a few bloggers added text and images to the certificate scan that weren't originally there.

That a right-wing, Obama-hating news organization would admit a truth that doesn't make Obama look bad is admirable. That it chose to bury said truth in the 12th paragraph of an article is not.

This is yet more evidence of the failure of WND as a news organization. Given how big a deal the fake-birth-certificate story is in right-wing circles, shouldn't WND have made this investigation more prominent instead of dismissing it in a single paragraph buried in another article? It's yet another example where ideology trumps the facts.

Indeed, WND itself is guilty of promote the fake-birth-certificate story, having reported just three weeks earlier that "Israel Insider is reporting that analysts working separately have determined the birth certificate posted on the Daily Kos website and later on Sen. Barack Obama's 'Fight the Smears' campaign website is fraudulent."

Israel Insider -- as we've detailed, a far-right, anti-Obama website just like WND -- is still pushing the story, criticizing a that WND also cited as evidence that the story is bogus.

So, here's an integrity test for WND. Will it publish an article solely dedicated to detailing the results of its own investigation and specifically countering the claims of Israel Insider and its ilk? Will it deviate from its anti-Obama agenda long enough to be fully honest with its readers? Or will it bury this story and simply stop reporting on it, pretending it no longer exists even as its fellow right-wingers continue to promote it?

We shall see.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:30 AM EDT

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