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Friday, October 3, 2008
CNS Ignores Armstrong Williams' Conflict of Interest Scandal

An Oct. 2 article by Matt Hadro criticizing vice presidential debate moderator Gwen Ifill for purporting writing a "pro-Obama book" states: "Armstrong Williams, conservative talk show radio host, told Fox News that the book deal 'brings her credibility in doing this into question.'" But Hadro fails to note Williams' own history of conflict of interest: He received $240,000 in federal money to promote the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" policy in his columns and on his TV show, which he failed to disclose at the time.

Hadro also failed to note the apparent conflicts of interest upcoming presidential debate moderators Tom Brokaw and Bob Schieffer have with the McCain campaign and President Bush, respectively.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:24 PM EDT
Did Michael Reagan's Daughter Get A Mortgage She Can't Afford?
Topic: Newsmax

In attacking "fear-mongering" regarding the financial bailout in his Oct. 2 Newsmax column, Michael Reagan complained of "attempts to panic us into believing that the banks had no money to lend, and credit was dried up and loans were almost impossible to get," adding:

We knew that was untrue because our daughter, Ashley, had just qualified and easily obtained a mortgage on a $360,000 townhouse from a small local bank. The bank had foreclosed on the house and was stuck with a defaulted mortgage of $560,000. Ashley, who is 25 and a schoolteacher, got the townhouse for $200,000 under what the bank held in bad paper.

How can a 25-year-old teacher -- who typically don't make all that much money and is likely paying off student loans to boot -- afford to by a $360,000 townhouse? What is she getting paid? Did dad co-sign and/or put up a sizable down payment? Because we're pretty sure the typical 25-year-old teacher could not get a mortgage by herself, period, let alone one for a $360,000 house (which, by the way, is well above the national median home price).

Let's say that, for the sake of argument, that Reagan's daughter put up a $60,000 down payment, which would give her a $300,000 mortgage. At the time we checked, a $300,000 30-year fixed loan in California (where we presume Reagan's daughter lives) carried an annual interest rate of 6.22%.Plugging those numbers into a payment calculator, that gives us a monthly payment of $1,841. Lenders typically recommend that a mortgage not exceed approximately 28 percent of total income.

25-year-olds are historically not excellent credit risks, and teaching, especially for those just starting out in the profession like Reagan's daughter is, is not a historically well-paying job. The only logical conclusions for the existence of this mortgage:

  • It's not as big as the typical mortgage because of an unusually large down payment due to a contribution by Michael Reagan, or perhaps an inheritance from her grandfather;
  • the daughter is making an extraordinary amount of money for a teacher just a few years out of college; or
  • Michael Reagan, who is presumably better paid and thus a better credit risk, has co-signed the mortgage.

What we're saying is that there are clearly extenuating circumstances surrounding this mortgage that Reagan hasn't told us about. We seriously doubt that a 25-year-old single teacher who is not Michael Reagan's daughter could get that same mortgage.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:34 PM EDT
Ron Kessler Scaremongering Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler asserts in an Oct. 1 Newsmax column claims that Republicans failing to to take the lead on the financial bailout could lead to Barack Obama winning, and you know what that means -- more baseless scaremongering by Kessler about how purportedly weak Obama is on terrorism:

This financial mess has favored Barack Obama in the polls. If Republicans continue to oppose the rescue package, they will hand Obama and Democrats in Congress a win in the November election.

If that happens, we will see a push to weaken national security measures, including tools the FBI and CIA need to develop clues to terrorist plots. As outlined in the Newsmax article The Secret to Why We Have Not Been Attacked. Go here now.], McCain understands the need for these tools. Obama does not.

As important as our economy is, our survival is more important. Al-Qaida wants to wipe us out with nuclear weapons. If the FBI’s and CIA’s hands are tied behind their backs, we will lose the fight to protect ourselves and preserve our way of life.

That link goes to a Sept. 10 Kessler column with even more anti-Obama scaremongering, baselessly claiming that Obama "would roll back the clock and take away tools necessary not only to connect the dots but also to find them in the first place" (those tools allegedly being a key reason to "why we have not been attacked," along with President Bush's general studliness).

Kessler also gets a key fact wrong on the bailout, asserting that "Democrats are mainly responsible for this financial mess" because "the Democrats passed the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which required banks to lend in the low-income neighborhoods where they obtain deposits." In fact, experts have said that approximately 80 percent of high-priced subprime loans were offered by financial institutions that are not subject to the CRA.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EDT
Bozell Repeats 'Largest Tax Increase' Canard
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Sept. 30 column that purports to attack the (so-called liberal) media's role as "the guardians of 'fact,'" Brent Bozell doesn't bother sticking to the facts himself, stating that President Clinton "passed the largest tax increase in American history, right down to the middle class."

As we've noted whenever the MRC pushes this canard, the facts show that a 1982 tax increase signed by President Reagan was bigger on an adjusted-for-inflation basis.(And we know how important it is at the MRC to adjust for inflation.)

Posted by Terry K. at 2:00 AM EDT
Will WND Mention Brokaw, Schieffer's GOP Leanings?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

So WorldNetDaily ran two articles by Bob Unruh highlighting that Gwen Ifill, moderator of the vice presidential debate, has a conflict of interest because she's writing a book about racial politics in "the age of Obama" (despite the claim, no evidence is offered that it's a "pro-Obama book") and thus cannot be a fair moderator. Additionally, WND's Les Kinsolving pressed the issue (using a poor baseball analogy) at a White House press briefing.

What do you think the odds are that Unruh and Kinsolving, let alone anyone at WND (even that guy who purports to claim he doesn't want John McCain to win) will raise a similar ruckus over impartiality questions about the moderators for the two remaining presidential debates, Tom Brokaw and Bob Schieffer? After all, Brokaw serves as a liaison to the McCain campaign, while Shieffer, while Schieffer as a personal relationship with Bush and his brother was a former Bush business partner.

If WND's track record is any indication, they won't mention this at all.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 AM EDT
Thursday, October 2, 2008
New Article: Why I Criticize Joseph Farah and WorldNetDaily
Topic: WorldNetDaily
In case you missed it, we reprint our response to Joseph Farah's attack on us over that Huffington Post article. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:44 PM EDT
Are 'Christian Missionaries' Paying for Corsi's Trip to Kenya?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 2 WorldNetDaily article states that "WND author and staff writer Jerome Corsi has arrived in the Kenyan capital to investigate Sen. Barack Obama's ties to the prime minister, Raila Odinga," adding:

Corsi came at the invitation of Christian missionaries who contend the rise of Islam in the African nation has been spurred by an agreement Odinga signed with Muslim leaders in an effort to win the presidency last December. Odinga lost but now shares power with the Kenyan president to appease Islamic leaders.

Who, exactly, are these "Christian missionaries"? What organization do they belong to? Are they paying for Corsi's trip? Why are they associating themselves with Corsi, who has only partisan intent in his trip? By facilitating, if not paying for, Corsi's trip, are these "missionaries" implicitly endorsing John McCain and, thus, potentially violating federal election laws that prohibit political endorsements by religious figures?

Lest anyone doubt Corsi's (and WND's) partisan intent in his trip, the article adds:

Corsi also plans to utilize contacts in Kenya and the Kenyan media to set up a private meeting with Obama's "lost brother," George Hussein Onyango Obama, who was featured in a London Telegraph story.

George Obama said he lives on $12 a year in a six-by-nine-foot shack in the shantytown of Huruma on the outskirts of Nairobi, according to the Italian edition of Vanity Fair.

Obama met his brother on two trips to Africa, according to the Telegraph, including during the Illinois Democrat's 2006 fact-finding tour. Corsi said he is carrying a $1,000 check for George Obama from WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah.

WND fails to note that, as we've previously noted, the Times of London has reported that George Obama has disputed that reporting: "It seems there are people who want to destroy me and my family. ... They say I live on a dollar a month, but this is all lies by people who don’t want my brother to win.” George Obama has also said, "I was brought up well. I live well even now. The magazines, they exaggerated everything."

Since Farah purports to want "none of the above" to win (despite mounting evidence showing the opposite), will Farah also be cutting a check to the half-sister that Cindy McCain is trying to keep hidden?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:20 PM EDT
MRC: Asking Palin What She Reads = Calling Her An 'Ill-Informed Dolt'
Topic: Media Research Center

In trying to portray Katie Couric as having "patronizingly challenge[d] & lecture[d]" Sarah Palin during their series of interviews, Brent Baker asserted in an Oct. 1 MRC CyberAlert that Couric was calling Palin "an ill-informed dolt" by asking, "What newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?" Baker added: "Couric wouldn't let go: 'Like what ones specifically?' and 'Can you name a few?'"

Baker doesn't explain how asking someone what publications they read equals accusing someone of being an "ill-informed dolt." Nor does he mention that, as the transcript he attaches makes clear, the reason Couric "wouldn't let go" of the question is because Palin wouldn't give a straight answer to it:

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

COURIC: Like what ones specifically, I'm curious that you-?

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name a few?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested it seems like, "Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?" Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

Does Baker think this was too tough a question for Palin or that she was somehow justified in refusing to offer a list of what she reads?

Posted by Terry K. at 10:55 AM EDT
Kincaid Still Obsessed With Maddow
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Cliff Kincaid apparently can't get over his obsession with Rachel Maddow's sexual orientation. From a Sept. 30 AIM Report:

Meanwhile, the culture war is back, and it is clear that most of the controversy over [Sarah] Palin is being driven largely by feminists in the media. On MSNBC, a lesbian feminist, Rachel Maddow, is leading the assault. She is the latest addition to the far-left lineup at this poor excuse for a cable “news” channel.


THIS REPORT NOTES THE ROLE OF LESBIAN FEMINIST RACHEL MADDOW OF MSNBC IN spearheading the media attack on Palin. According to her website, Maddow is 35 years old and lives in New York City and rural Western Massachusetts with her “partner,” artist Susan Mikula.  She also hosts a show on the Air America network, where she has examined other Palin “scandals” such as Palin’s fondness for hunting. Meanwhile, MSNBC demoted liberals Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. They were told they couldn’t be “news” anchors anywhere, just hosts of their own shows and commentators. I told Bill Triplett of Variety magazine that the move was evidence that MSNBC is acknowledging a liberal bias that has gone way over the line. He quoted me as saying, “MSNBC is finally waking up to the fact that their credibility has been suffering with those two characters as anchors. Their coverage has become a laughingstock, and they’re going to have to do more (than pulling Olbermann and Matthews) to restore their credibility.” I said that MSNBC had a right to move in a hard-left direction, but that “their actions with Olbermann and Matthews suggest they realize they went too far.” I think they will also eventually realize that giving Maddow a show was a mistake as well.


The AIM Report also rehashes Kincaid's admiration for noted misogynist Marc Rudov.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:12 AM EDT
Palin-Philia Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Doug Wead uses his Oct. 1 Newsmax column to devise a novel excuse for Sarah Palin's dismal performance in her interviews with Katie Couric: Ted Kennedy couldn't handle unscripted questions either.

No, really:

It is stunning to see the emotionally charged hatred of the media toward Sarah Palin. Of course, Wolf [Blitzer] had seen such moments of ditziness. Ted Kennedy cannot do interviews well. His handling of handpicked, family friend, Roger Mudd’s softball question in November 1979 cost him the presidency. It was a moment far more deadly than [CNN's Jack] Cafferty’s desperately hyped vignette of Palin and Couric.

When I interviewed Ted Kennedy several years ago, all my questions had to be submitted in advance. When after the scripted interview he showed me around his office, I asked him something about his children’s drawings on the wall and the whole room froze in horror.

An unscripted question.

I can still see the daggers in the eyes of the staffers. I almost blurted out, “I withdraw the question; I withdraw the question. I didn’t know.” But we all lingered while he painfully groped for an answer. And I felt very, shamefully guilty.

So now we're supposed to believe Palin is like Ted Kennedy, whom Wead goes on to describe as having "of the most stellar careers in the U.S. Senate"?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:15 AM EDT
Aaron Klein Palin-Philia Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an Oct. 1 WorldNetDaily article uncritically repeating attacks by the McCain campaign on a blogger who mockingly pointed out that Sarah Palin essentially endorsed Hamas by praising its victory in Palestinian elections, Aaron Klein used the kerfuffle to once again reference his own interview (along with fellow right-winger John Batchelor) with Hamas official Ahmed Yousuf (whose spelling he can't get straight -- he also spells it "Yousef"), who said he "hopes" Barack Obama is elected. He added: "Yousef's statements were construed by many U.S. commentators as a Hamas endorsement of Obama."

(Klein, by the way, has yet to answer questions we've raised about that interview -- specifically, the knowledge of and extent of willing participation by Yousef in Klein’s and Batchelor’s right-wing, anti-Obama agenda.)

Klein fails to mention that another Hamas official essentially retracted the "endorsement," according to a June 4 Reuters article:

“Obama’s comments have confirmed that there will be no change in the U.S. administration’s foreign policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters in Gaza.

“The Democratic and Republican parties support totally the Israeli occupation at the expense of the interests and rights of Arabs and Palestinians,” he said.

“Hamas does not differentiate between the two presidential candidates, Obama and McCain, because their policies regarding the Arab-Israel conflict are the same and are hostile to us, therefore we do have no preference and are not wishing for either of them to win,” Zuhri said.

Klein has previously tried to play down Zuhri's remarks, asserting that Zuhri "clarified" in a later interview with him that "he was specifically referring to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's pro-Israel speech" at AIPAC on June 4. Klein baselessly portrayed the statement as not contradicting Yousef’s "endorsement."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:34 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, October 2, 2008 2:13 AM EDT
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Fighting Media Bias, Or Reciting McCain Talking Points?
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In a Sept. 30 Accuracy in Media blog post claiming that the New York Times fired a "partisan shot aimed at hurting the McCain campaign," Rep. Lamar Smith wrote:

In an article from September 24, the Times alleged that embattled mortgage company Freddie Mac paid McCain campaign manager Rick Davis for consulting services through last month.  Citing unnamed sources, the article clearly suggested wrongdoing on the part of Davis and, by extension, Sen. McCain. 

First, the Times’ insinuations are false. Davis separated from his consulting firm in 2006 and has not received a salary there since that time. 

Second, the Times omitted key facts from their reporting. Davis was never a lobbyist for Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae and, in fact, has not served as a registered lobbyist in several years. 

In fact, the Times never claimed Davis himself was paid by Freddie Mac; rather, the article stated that Davis' firm was contracted to receive the money, adding that "took a leave from Davis & Manafort for the presidential campaign, but as a partner and equity-holder continues to benefit from its income." In claiming that "Davis was never a lobbyist for Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae," Smith ignores the fact that Davis was, as the Times article noted, the head of an advocacy group funded by Fannie and Freddie with the purpose of opposing regulation of the entities, which Smith seems to think is not "lobbying."

Smith is merely regurgitating the McCain campaign's denials of the Times article, not to mention uncritically mouthing the campaign's claims that the Times is a "partisan" publication. Further, by focusing only on this single article, Smith ignores the evidence revealed since then that suggest Davis continues to have ties to his firm -- namely that Davis is still listed as an officer of the company and has maintained other financial connections to it.

Smith claims to be battling "the problem of media bias," but all he's really doing is reciting McCain talking points.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 PM EDT
Kessler Hauls Out the Scaremongering
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler is up to his old scare tactic of baselessly portraying Democrats as the preferred candidate of terrorists in his Sept. 30 Newsmax column.

Kessler quotes "former top FBI counterterrorism analyst" Frederick Stremmel as claiming that "Al-Qaida or affiliated groups probably will attack the United States in the months after the election to 'welcome' the new president," adding:

Al-Qaida knows that an attack before the election would help elect Republican Sen. John McCain, Stremmel says. The terrorists would prefer Democratic Sen. Barack Obama because they believe he would “swing the pendulum back” to more lenient anti-terrorism policies, Stremmel says.

“The months following the election or inauguration of the new administration is prime time for an attack,” he says. “They will want to impact the new administration and its policies. There is a history of Islamic terrorists wanting to make life miserable for successive administrations.”

That is why al-Qaida attacked the U.S. less than eight months after President Bush took office.

Kessler added a similar claim by "former FBI profiler" James R. Fitzgerald:

Al-Qaida knows that, if it attacked before the election, “It would get McCain elected,” Fitzgerald says. “For obvious reasons, they would much prefer Obama.”

Kessler, Stremmel and Fitzgerald offer no actual evidence that Al-Qaeda "prefers Obama" or that Obama favors "more lenient anti-terrorism policies." Indeed, one major piece of evidence Kessler fails to cite demonstrates the opposite. As we've noted, author Ron Suskind in his book "The One Percent Doctrine," reported that CIA analysts agreed that a videotaped message by Osama bin Laden's that surfaced just before the 2004 presidential election "was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection." Conservatives promoted the video as bin Laden's expression of support for John Kerry -- and, thus, played into bin Laden's hands.

If history is any indication, look for much more scaremongering by Kessler as we get closer to the election.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:31 PM EDT
CNS Still Treating Alveda King's Honorary Doctorate As Real

A Sept. 30 article by Mary Jane O'Brien about an interview by CNS editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey of anti-abortion activist Alveda King repeatedly refers to her as "Dr. Alveda King" and "Dr. King." The problem, as we pointed out last time CNS did this: King has apparently not earned any doctorate degree.

As biographies of King on several websites state, King "received her honorary Doctorate of Laws from Saint Anselm College."As a Saint Anselm publication details, in 2001 she "was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree for her extraordinary efforts as an advocate for education reform and improvement of race relations and for her passionate participation in the political and academic arena following the great challenges of her young life." While it's an honor, it's not a real doctorate.

King does not hold a doctorate she has earned, as far as we can determine; even if she had, Associated Press journalistic style dictates that the "Dr." honorific is given only to medical doctors.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EDT
Newsmax Promotes John Fund's Dubious Book
Topic: Newsmax

John Fund has released an "revised and updated" version of his factually challenged 2004 book "Stealing Elections" in time for the 2008 election, publicized in a Sept. 28 Newsmax article by Dave Eberhart.

And promote he does, regurgitating Fund's claim that "miscounts and voter fraud scandals everywhere from Seattle to Miami have rocked elections during the past several years — and, in very bad news for the election next month — many of the problems have not been resolved."

Eberhart claims that "Fund details Obama’s involvement with ACORN throughout his career," but there are questions about Fund's veracity. As Media Matters details, Fund claims that "ACORN also runs something called "Camp Obama," which trains campaign volunteers in the same tactics that Obama honed as a community organizer" -- but the newspaper article Fund cites as evidence of his claim makes no mention of ACORN. In fact, Camp Obama is run by the Obama campaign to train volunteers how to recruit voters for Obama.

Eberhart also states that Fund's book addresses "how ACORN led 'the worst case of voter-registration fraud' in Washington State’s history." This appears to be a reference to a 2007 case of seven ACORN workers who were indicted in Seattle in 2007 for submitting more than 1,700 voter registration forms that were found to be fraudulent, many of which bore the names of celebrities or "nonexistent people." But as Media Matters also points out, no votes were cast under those fradulent voter registrations.

Despite Fund's additional dubious reporting, Eberhart's article serves up several points at which one can buy the book from Newsmax's store.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:10 AM EDT

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