A Sept. 8 CNSNews.com column by Dan Gainor criticizes the idea of nonprofit journalism, in particular bashing the website ProPublica. Making a big deal out of how ProPublica is funded by a family, the Sandlers, with a history of donating to liberal-leaning causes, Gainor cherry-picks stories off the site to claim that ProPublica has "an obvious left-wing tilt."
This ignores that ProPublica has also highlighted that John Edwards lied in denying his affair to reporters, tried to find out who was running Detroit while Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was in jail.
"Imagine how far the media might go without free-market constraints," Gainor then ponders. "Now envision a world where left-wing donors like the Sandlers or George Soros underwrite whole media outlets staffed with journalists out to 'make a difference.'"
But remember where Gainor's op-ed is being published: at a nonprofit media outlet underwritten by right-wing donors like Richard Mellon Scaife.
CNSNews.com is a division of the Media Research Center (as is Gainor's employer, the Business & Media Institute), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. He's benefiting from the same kind of journalistic funding mechanism he asserts would be "scary" if liberals did it. He accuses ProPublica of being "staffed up with activist journalists from some of the best-known outlets in the country," but are CNS' writers any less "activist"? (Answer: No, they'renot.)
Oh, the irony. If Gainor finds nonprofit journalism so "scary," he should exit the MRC hothouse.
Graham Need Not Worry That Gibson Will Be Too Tough on Palin Topic: NewsBusters
In a Sept. 8 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham worried that ABC's Charlie Gibson will be too tough with Sarah Palin in their upcoming interview. "He has been anything but piranha-like with Barack Obama ... so the possibility of a seriously biased contrast is there if Palin gets a Russert roasting, and is not swooned over Obama-style as a symbolic test of American progress."
In fact, not only does Gibson have a record of tossingsoftballs to John McCain, he's already acquiesced to the Palin camp by declaring in advance he won't ask any questions about her family. Graham fails to mention any of this.
Graham goes on to complain that the media are allegedly looking into National Enquirer-promoted claims of a rumored Palin affair after ignoring the Enquirer's reports on John Edwards' affair. Needless to say, a couple months ago, Graham was all but demanding that the mainstream media repeat the Enquirer's reports on Edwards (as we've noted).
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
How anti-Obama are Aaron Klein and WorldNetDaily? Even when Obama does nothing wrong, he must be attacked.
That explains Klein's Sept. 7 article, suggesting it was "momentary confusion" that Obama mistakenly referred to "My Muslim faith" in a discussion about attacks on him falsely claiming he's a secret Muslim. Unsurprisingly, Klein uses this meaningless slip-up as yet another opportunity to regurgitate irrelevant claims that Obama had been registered in a school in Indonesia as a child. As we've noted whenever Klein does this, Klein is trying to conflate activity by Obama the child with Obama the adult -- sorta like blaming children who dreamed of being cowboys or ballerinas for not being cowboys or ballerinas when they grew up.
Klein thinks he's being a hotshot, hard-hitting reporter by doing this, but he actually looks like a desperate, hate-driven polemicist.
Kincaid Overstates Palin's 'Journalist' Experience Topic: Accuracy in Media
Cliff Kincaid joins Newsmax's James Hirsen in overstating Sarah Palin's journalistic credentials in a Sept. 7 Accuracy in Media column:
But nobody should underestimate Palin, a journalist herself before she went into politics. She should be able to handle any barbs sent her way. More than most, she should understand the journalism “profession” and its liberal bias.
Yeah, because being a sports reader for a TV station for a couple years after graduating college told her all she needed to know about the "liberal media"...
Meanwhile ... Topic: WorldNetDaily World O'Crap tells us what WorldNetDaily didn't in an Aug. 30 article about two teenagers arrested at the Democratic national Convention for "protesting Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's support for abortion on public sidewalks." Turns out the teens apparently underwent indoctrination by a group of hardline anti-abortion activists that believes "provoking passersby is a critical strategy for the anti-abortion movement to succeed." Which suggests that there was a lot more going on with those teens, beyond writing on sidewalks, that WND didn't feel the need to tell us.
WND Misleads and Lies About Library's 'Erotic' Children's Books Topic: WorldNetDaily
The headline of a Sept. 5 WorldNetDaily article carries the biggest lie of the piece: "Libraries push 'erotic' children's books." The article offers no evidence that libraries "push" "erotic children's books," unless WND's definition of "push" is merely making books available.
The article itself, as does the headline, repeatedly conflates children's books with young-adult books, making no distinction between the two, by claiming that "A group of citizens is outraged at a growing number of sexually explicit children's books offered at local public libraries." No evidence is offered that any "children's book" offers "erotic" or "sexually explicit" content. Nor does WND or Citizens Against Pornography, who it cites as making this claim, make the case that the titles it singled out as "shocking" and containing "erotic" messages are "children's books." After all, a book with the title "Sexual Decisions: The Ultimate Teenage Guide" -- among the titles Citizens Against Pornography objects to -- is obviously not a "children's book."
Another book on the list is "Alice on Her Way" by Phyllis Naylor; the article notes that the earliest books in the Alice series are geared toward second graders and quotes a parent as saying, "By the time she's in middle school, there is stuff that just isn't for the eyes of an 11-year-old. ... You look at the cover and there's this little blonde-haired girl with braces smiling. It's just too sexually explicit."
One review says of the book: "Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's tender, wonderful Alice series — 20 books strong, and popular with both boys and girls — began following Alice as a tentative 8-year-old. Now she's a high school sophomore, dealing with driving lessons, best friends, and sex ed, all in a way that's heartwarming and, thankfully, not the least bit cloying." Another review sums up the book: "Alice McKinley takes a school trip to NYC, falls in love with Sam and then decides to break up with him, goes through a church-sponsored sex education class, and gets her driver's license."
So "Alice on Her Way" is not geared toward 8-year-olds, or even 12-year-olds. And it's probably a good bet that if the earlier books contain so-called "erotic" content, it's age-appropriate.
Another book on the list is "Looking for Alaska" by John Green -- again, no rationale is provided for calling it a "children's book." Indeed, it's not. As the author himself states (taken from a bluenose library-bashing site that helpfully counts each and every instance of objectionable words in the book -- "Fellatio: 11; Bitch: 13; Breasts, Boobs: 12; Butt: 7; Fart: 1" and so on -- as well as the book's juciest excerpts), the book is geared for readers age 14 and up, which makes it very much not a "children's book."
To WND's credit, it breaks it usual one-sidedstance on such issues and quotes library officials who are specifically talking about teen books, not "children's books." But still, the rest of it falsely portrays teen books as "children's books."
Unruh Continues to Mislead On Planned Parenthood 'Lies' Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 4 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh repeats the unsupported claim, first made a year ago, that Planned Parenthood officials "incorrectly accused" anti-abortion activists of having a "well-documented history of advocating violence against both persons and property." Unruh again asserts that the claims "apparently were drawn from an old court case against Scheidler and the League brought by the National Organization for Women on behalf of abortion clinics nationwide. But any accusation in that case later was turned into a 'legal nullity,' ...because of the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions to reject the claims on votes of 8-1, and 8-0."
But as we noted the last time Unruh reported this, declaring something a "legal nullity" doesn't mean they didn't happen in the first place. Further, the Supreme Court didn't reject the claims as never having happened at all; it rejected them as constituting a violation under the federal RICO organized crime statute.
In the article, Unruh and the activists in question, the Pro-Life Action League, its leader, Joe Scheidler, and his son Eric, offer no evidence that any specific claim made by Planned Parenthood is false or that anything declared a "legal nullity" didn't actually happen -- just a lot of baseless asserting by Eric Scheidler and other anti-abortion activists that Planned Parenthood "has been granted a license to lie" because their libel suit against Planned Parenthood was mostly dismissed after a judge ruled that Planned Parenthood's statements were protected under a new Illinois state law that offers greater legal protection to citizens speaking out on issues.
Sheppard's Interview Double Standard Topic: NewsBusters
In a Sept. 5 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard freaks out about Oprah Winfrey purportedly refusing to interview Sarah Palin (the truth: Oprah doesn't use her show for electoral politics, her personal endorsement of Obama aside).
Nowhere does Sheppard mention that Palin isn't doing interviews at all -- at least, not unless they're fluffy and unchallenging. So we can probably expect Sheppard to be granted his interview with Palin shortly -- after all, we know he will never ask why Palin's being kept in hiding out of fear she might be asked tough questions.
WND Jumps on False DNC Flag Story -- And Prolongs the Lie Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn carries the false headline, "Dems trash U.S. flags at DNC convention." The article asserts that "Following their national convention in Denver last week, Democratic organizers heaped up thousands of unused U.S. flags, allegedly to throw them away." While Zahn includes a denial from Democratic officials, it falls short of what those officials actually have said, allowing Zahn to portray the allegations as true when they're not.
Zahn claims the story came from "a Denver Post blog" and from Fox News, but doesn't report that it originated with the McCain campaign. As the Huffington Post reports:
"The campaign says the flags were recovered from Invesco Field after the Democrats concluded their convention there," Fox News reported, "and they are going to be used as part of the warm-up ceremonies before McCain takes the stage" for a rally in Colorado Springs, Col.
But according to a senior official involved in organizing the Democratic convention, the McCain camp is simply lying about the flags.
"All of the flags at Invesco were picked up and put in bags and into storage, along with the unused flags and campaign signs. The flags were going to be donated, and the signs were going to be sent out to be used elsewhere," the official said, speaking anonymously since he was not authorized to talk to the press.
Fox News' Carl Cameron and Bonney Kapp reported that they had "been told" that "a vendor at Invesco Field found the flags, which were going to be thrown out, and turned them over to the McCain campaign."
The Democratic convention official says that's not true.
"It's pretty reprehensible on their part," he said. "Someone made an assumption, took the flags, and essentially lied about what was going to happen to them. I mean, c'mon, we were never ever going to throw out flags."
Emails to three McCain spokespersons inquiring where the flags were found and how the McCain campaign obtained them were not returned.
So, it appears someone associated with the McCain campaign stole the flags from the Democrats. Given WND's pro-McCainagenda, don't expect the truth to be told to its readers when a lie reads so much better.
Zahn, by the way, is a WND news editor who also touts himself to be a freelance "author, editor, speaker, guest preacher, and home-educating father of twelve," adding, "Authors, publishers, businesses, and students have benefited from his editing experience." His employment at WND, however, seems to demostrate the low priority Zahn puts on reporting facts -- which is too bad, because a couple weeks ago he wrote an article that actually told a positive fact about Obama that contradicted WND's agenda of lying about Obama. That sort of thing has apparently been beaten out of him between then and now.
WND Gushes Over Palin; Does Farah Know? Topic: WorldNetDaily
Does Joseph Farah have any control at all over what happens on his own website? It appears not.
As we've detailed, Farah's message of voting for "none of the above" -- that is, don't elect Barack Obama or John McCain -- is canceled out by WorldNetDaily's news coverage, which attacks Obama but uncritically peddles McCain talking points. McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as vice president makes the split even more clear.
Farah grudgingly admitted in a Sept. 4 column that "I have to admit, I like Sarah Palin. In fact, if she were at the top of the ticket, I would probably vote for her myself," but the problem is that "she's not on the top of the ticket. Sadly, she is window dressing for the ascension of John McCain to the presidency," who he insists is "a radical extremist on illegal immigration."
While Farah grumbled, WND's news pages went orgasmic over the selection of Palin.
"A star is born," trumpeted the headline on a Sept. 4 article by Art Moore, who gushed that Palin "rose above the expectations birthed last week when John McCain stunned the nation by choosing the Alaska governor as his running mate."
A Sept. 3 article by Moore uncritically reported that "six female Republican leaders denounced 'the outrageous smear campaign'" against Palin, failing to note that McCain's own national campaign co-chair, former eBay chairman Meg Whitman, said that it was "the right thing to do" for the media to dig into the background of someone who is "running for the highest office in the land" and that she didn't detect any sexism in the news coverage.
A Sept. 5 article by Moore profiled members of Alaska's delegation at the Republican National Convention, who declared "bring it on" to "reporters probing every nook and cranny of their popular governor's life and work." Moore also defended the McCain campmaign against allegations that Palin was not properly vetted prior to her selection and downplayed claims that Palin fired the state's public safety commissioner "because he refused to dismiss the governor's brother-in-law, a state trooper going through a messy divorce with her sister," adding that "Other members of the state's delegation contend it's clear Monegan should have fired the trooper for gross misbehavior, such as driving drunk on the job and Tasing a young teen." Moore does not substantiate those claims.
WND has not been reticent in the past about manipulating news content on its website to promote a particular agenda, so there's no excuse for Farah to stop now. Does David Kupelian -- who has endorsed McCain -- have such an iron grip on news operations that Farah is afraid to cross him?
Or it could be that Farah is merely playing a cynical game and secretly wants McCain to win after all. Either way, it would seem to make him an extrordinarily dishonest journalist and businessman.
WND Repeats Unverified Savage Claim Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Sept. 3 WorldNetDaily article uncritically repeated a claim that "Michael Savage's new autobiography, self-published and available on the MichaelSavage.com website, has surpassed the sales of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent publication, 'Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters.'" The article added: "Officials for Savage's radio show, which is heard by an estimated 8-10 million listeners weekly, confirmed to WND that publicly available sales totals for Pelosi's book after one week were about 2,300, and while they wanted to withhold exact numbers, sales of 'Psychological Nudity' had surpassed that significantly in its first week."
WND offers no information about how it "confirmed" Savage's numbers, given Savage's desire to "withhold exact numbers." Since the book is self-published, outside verification would be difficult if not impossible; WND provides no reason why readers should implicitly trust Savage's accounting.
The article adds a quote from Savage's actual press release, which states, "The power of talk radio and the Internet is once again being ignored by the failing publishing and newspaper industries." The article does not explain how having purportedly greater sales than Pelosi is a meaningful measure of anything, let alone "the power of talk radio and the Internet."
Further, Savage's bashing of the "failing" publishing industry is odd, given that Savage's four previous books were made available through publishing houses -- WND's book division and Thomas Nelson. Typically, one resorts to self-publishing only when a publishing house will not otherwise take the book. After all, if Savage's book sales were really as good as he claims they are, he'd still be with a real publisher, right?
NewsBusters Splits Hairs to Attack Palin Fact-Checks Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters appears to be opening a new front in attacking insufficiently positive coverage of Sarah Palin -- nitpicking fact-checks of her claims.
A Sept. 5 post by Lyndsi Thomas asserted that a fact-check of Palin's Republican National Convention speech by CNN "needs a little fact checking of its own."
One of the statements in Palin's speech that CNN found "false" was her claim that she "stood up to the special interests and the lobbyists." To negate this claim, Feyerick said, "Palin was the Wasilla mayor to hire a Washington lobbyist, securing $11 million in special funding for the town." However, Palin prefaced this particular statement by saying "This was the spirit that brought me to the governor's office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau," signifying that her claim of standing up to special interests, lobbyists and big oil companies took place when she became governor.
In other words, she was for it before she was against it, and that's a distinction Thomas doesn't think is worthy of note.
Thomas also complains that CNN notes that "as governor, Palin asked Congress for $453 million for earmarks" but "hardly mentions Obama's requests for earmarks, including one for his wife's hospital." But Obama hasn't run an anti-earmark crusade like Palin has.
In a similar nitpicking vein, a Sept. 5 post by Michael M. Bates takes issue with Palin's claim that when she decided to sell a state-owned jet, "I put it on eBay." The Tribune points out that "Palin's statement implied the plane was sold through the online auction site," when in fact it didn't sell on eBay and was ultimately sold through other means. Bates didn't like that approach, choosing to go ultra-literal:
So what part of Palin's claim doesn't fly? She didn't assert the plane sold on eBay, merely that "I put it on eBay." Seems like the Tribune, in its eagerness to expose the "real Sarah," came to an incorrect conclusion and not one supported by the governor's original contention.
Bates might want to mention that to John McCain, who declared that Palin "took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — made a profit." See, he thinks "put on eBay" means "sold on eBay" too!
McCain, by the way, embellished the false claim with a second one -- that plane was sold at a profit. In fact, the state lost a half-million dollars on the deal.
WND's Mercer Fails to Call Palin Kid 'Bastard' Topic: WorldNetDaily
We pondered the other day whether WorldNetDaily columnist Ilana Mercer would have the courage of her declared convictions of bringing back "shame – deep, abiding disgrace" for pregnant teenagers and to "bring back the pejorative 'bastard'" for their offspring in relation to the case of Bristol Palin.
We have our answer: no.
In her Sept. 5 column, Mercer fails to use the word "bastard," instead referring to Bristol's "out-of-wedlock pregnancy." (Ineffibly Victorian of her, as Mark Finkelstein might say.) That's the extent of Mercer's criticism of Bristol. As for her mother, Mercer complained mildly that Sarah Palin issued an "excessively exuberant press release" about Bristol's pregnancy, then adding, " Last night, Sarah Palin made no unnecessary allusions to her daughter's condition. No unappetizing details were disclosed."
(Then again, Mercer also previously stated her support for shotgun weddings, so she also likely approves of Levi Johnston.)
Indeed, Mercer slavered all over Sarah Palin: "She's a pit-bull with lipstick, all right – lipstick, and sharp stilettos. A potent mix of style and substance." She even approved of Palin's attacks on Obama: "Neither has Sarah any qualms about savaging 'Our Opponent' – first she depersonalized her rival, rendering him nameless, and then moved in for the kill."
Remember, Mercer also defended Michael Vick for dogfighting and thinks the children of those teen girls being married off in that polygamist cult are "frolicking in the open air on a large compound, doing [their] daily chores and feasting on hearty homegrown fare."
The Republican National Convention seems to have fired up Mark Finkelstein's propensity for making misleading claims.
In a Sept. 4 NewsBusters post, Finkelstein ridiculed DNC chairman Howard Dean for referencing an "informal focus group" of his wife and "five women [who] work for her and some of them are Republicans" to gauge reaction to Sarah Palin's RNC speech. "Move over, Rasmussen, and let Howard take over!" Finkelstein sneered, adding, "Any polling experts out there? Wondering what the margin of error might be on a non-anonymous, five-person sample exclusively composed of people who rely on your family for their livelihood."
Of course, Dean never claimed his little group to be an accurate representation of opinion -- his use of the word "informal" might have clued Finkelstein into that. But, via TPM, let's check in with some actual focus groups whose methodology may be a little closer to Finkelstein's liking, for reaction to Palin's speech:
The independents in a voter panel assembled by the Detroit Free Press appeared to be less than impressed by Palin's speech.
Two different focus groups of Nevada women who had supported Hillary Clinton showed that they "were impressed with Palin's speaking ability and poise. But they were hardly convinced that she was qualified to be vice president, or that she truly represented the 'change' they were looking for, especially in light of what was deemed an overly harsh "sarcasm" pervading her address."
In a Sept. 5 post, Finkelstein played the conservative card of favorably comparing U.S. troop deaths in Iraq to, say, murders in a given American city, citing a report claiming 123 people were murdered in Chicago over the summer, "nearly double the number of soldiers killed in Iraq over the same time period." Finkelstein adds: "Will some enterprising MSM member ask Obama if he'll call for a police surge to protect the lives of his own Illinois constitutents?"
As we and others have noted, such death comparisons are misleading because they don't take into account the population base from which the numbers are taken. In this case, the 123 murders in Chicago took place in a population of 2.8 million; the half-that-number deaths of U.S. soldiers took place in a population of about 150,000 troops stationed there. This means the death rate of the soldiers in Iraq is still several times higher than the murder rate in Chicago.
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've lost track of exactly how many anti-Obama articles WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has written -- it's well over 50 by now. Add to the long list a Sept. 4 article playing the guilt-by-association angle, citing praise for Barack Obama and criticism of John McCain in "Iranian state-run media" as indicative of ... something.
Ultimately, of course, it's indicative of nothing but Klein's and WND's obsessive anti-Obama agenda.