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Monday, January 5, 2009
WND's Spiked-Story List Largely Bogus
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has come out with its annual "Operation Spike" list of stories it claims "undeservedly 'spiked' by the establishment press." And as per usual, the list is largely comprised of misleading or bogus claims.

Unsurprisingly, given WND's deranged obsession with it, first place goes to "Charges that Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen of the U.S. and thus constitutionally ineligible to serve as president." Also unsurprisingly, WND fails to mention its own investigation of the issue, which concluded that the "certificate of live birth" released  by the Obama campaign is "authentic" and that Philip Berg's lawsuit claiming that Obama is not a natural-born citizen "relies on discredited claims."

In second place was a "U.S. Senate committee report that hundreds of top scientists have testified they believe claims of man-caused global warming are fraudulent." But as we've noted, the vast majority of the "650 international experts" cited by WND -- from a report issued by Republican Sen. James Inhofe's press chief, Marc Morano -- are recycled from a previous report issued by Inhofe and Morano, a report that was criticized for including a number of people with no expertise in climate science (or science, period). 

The article added that "more than 31,000 scientists, including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s, have signed a massive petition project that challenges belief in man-made global warming." But as we've detailed, that petition has been circulating for more than a decade, and the supporting materials sent by the petition's promoter, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, included an opinion piece that is misleadingly presented as an official-looking peer-reviewed paper.

Under the third-place entry, which asserts that the "true causes of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown ... point directly to the Democratic Party," WND repeats a claim made in September that the mortgage crisis can be blamed on "unsound, politically correct lending practices." As we noted at the time, the claim comes off as a tacit endorsement of the illegal practice of redlining -- a refusal to offer banking services and/or loans in certain areas, something that in practice is racist because those areas were invariably minority-dominated. WND misleadingly claimed that two former officials of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Franklin Raines and James Johnson, are "Barack Obama advisers." In fact, both Raines and the Obama campaign denied that Raines was an Obama adviser, and Johnson quit as an adviser last June.

In fourth place is "Obama's ties to terrorists and extremists" -- another WND obsession of the guilt-by-association kind -- cited as one example Rashid Khalidi, "the anti-Israel Palestinian professor." But WND fails to note that Khalidi also has ties to a group chaired by Obama's Republican opponent, John McCain.

In fifth place was "The campaigns of third-party presidential candidates, and Ron Paul's sensationally successful grass-roots campaign." But WND spiked that story too -- as we've noted, WND's coverage of third-party candidates was minimal at best during the 2008 campaign.

As we've previously noted, it seems that the stories on the "Operation Spike" list were spiked for a reason -- they're designed more to promote WND and Joseph Farah's personal political agenda (and his personal grudges and obsessions) than to advance the cause of actual journalism. 

(P.S. Want more interesting awards? The Slanties are coming next week.)

Posted by Terry K. at 5:49 PM EST
Updated: Monday, January 5, 2009 5:52 PM EST
Noel Sheppard Shocked-By-The-Unshocking Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

From a Jan. 3 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard:


Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine seeing an article at the liberal website the Huffington Post that not only refuted the anthropogenic global warming myth, but also asked Nobel Laureate Al Gore to apologize for the climate hysteria he's caused?

No...neither did I.

In fact, as evidenced by the post Sheppard cites, the Huffington Post publishes a wide range of opinions (including ours). This is just another example of Sheppard professing shock at something that's not all that shocking.

By contrast, NewsBusters, the website for which Sheppard is an associate editor, publishes no opinions that diverge from conservative orthodoxy. Indeed, Sheppard himself has yet to acknowledge, let alone apologize for, the false and misleading claims he has promulgated about global warming.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:12 PM EST
Topic: WorldNetDaily

While we were slacking off over the holidays, Richard Bartholomew has uncovered a few things that we missed over at WorldNetDaily:

-- First, Bartholomew points out that a Dec. 9 WND article promoted a "quarterly magazine of Christian history and biography called Leben," while failing to mention that its editor, Wayne Johnson, is a member of the WND board of directors, as we've noted. (Johnson is also a Rushdoony-ite Christian reconstructionist.) Nor does the article acknowledge that Leben is a WND advertiser, which raises the possibility, if not likelihood, that WND's fluffy "news article" is part of the ad deal. WND has a long history of presenting ads as news.

-- Second, Bartholomew notes WND's promotion of a "Mapping Shari’a in America" project that's so extreme that WND felt the need to tone down the group's anti-Muslim agenda. As Bartholomew adds, "when you need WND to make you sound less excessive you’re probably in trouble."

-- Third, Bartholomew details how a Dec. 31 WND article omits inconvenient facts, stating only that a gunman was "ranting about religion" when he shot and killed a manager of a Colorado ski resort who identified himself as Catholic, which allowed WND to portray the victim as a martyr for Christianity. In fact, reports by more legitimate news outlets state that the shooter had "declared his intent to convert non-Christians" and was reportedly heard to say, "I’m a Christian, and if you’re not a Christian I’m here to convert you." Thus, WND falsely suggested that the shooter was a deranged atheist when, in fact, he was apparantly a deranged Christian. (And remember, WND only recently conceded that Catholics are Christians.)

Posted by Terry K. at 3:01 PM EST
NewsBusters Misleads on Troop Deaths
Topic: NewsBusters

A Jan. 2 NewsBusters post by Michael M. Bates promotes "the fact that last year homicides in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago substantially exceeded the number of deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq," adding: 'If Iraq's a total failure, how does Obama view what's taking place in his own hometown?"

Bates' comparison is a misleading one. Raw numbers are misleading when plucked out of context; the death rate of a given population is the more meaningful number.

As Bates notes, approximately 314 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq in 2008, while there were 509 homicides in Chicago. But the population bases are vastly different -- there are approximately 140,000 soldiers in Iraq, but there are more than 2.8 million residents of Chicago. Therefore, a U.S. soldier is still several times more likely to get killed in Iraq than to be murdered in Chicago.

Bates is following the conservatively-correct line -- also followed by WorldNetDaily, Newsmax and -- of tossing out statistically meaningless numbers to downplay the number of troop deaths in Iraq.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:46 AM EST
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Newsmax, WND Promote Dubious Military Poll
Topic: Newsmax

A Jan. 2 Newsmax article by Rick Pedraza promoted a "survey of more than 1,900 active-duty subscribers to Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times newspapers" in which "six out of 10 active-duty service members said they "are uncertain or pessimistic about President-elect Barack Obama as the nation’s next commander in chief." While Pedraza noted that the poll's "responses are not representative of the opinions of the military as a whole, and that the survey group overall under-represents minorities, women and junior enlisted service members, and over-represents soldiers," that did not appear until the final paragraph of his article.

Indeed, as Media Matters points out, the publishers of the poll have admitted that it was based on voluntary responses by subscribers to Army Times Publishing Co. newspapers rather than a random statistical sample of service members, and that therefore no margin of error can be calculated for the poll. Newsmax is following Military Times' lead in promoting this poll as meaningful when it is not.

A Jan. 3 WorldNetDaily article on the poll similarly buried the fact that the poll is "a voluntary response poll and not a scientific, random sampling" and thus "the responses cannot be considered representative of the opinions of the military as a whole" -- but that didn't keep WND, like Newsmax, from spending the rest of the article pretending that the poll means something. But WND has a history of promoting bogus polls, so it's used to doing that -- never mind that it fails its readers by doing so.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:13 AM EST
Saturday, January 3, 2009
WND Promotes More Bogus Polls As Accurate
Topic: WorldNetDaily

For the second time in a month, WorldNetDaily is promoting an America Online poll about Barack Obama's birth certificate as meaningful despite the fact that it's not accurately reflective of actual American opinion on the issue.

While Bob Unruh's Dec. 31 article admits that the AOL poll is "unscientific," he does not explain (like fellow WND reporter Chelsea Schilling before him) that "unscientific" means that the poll cannot be taken as reflective of actual public opinion on the issue. Nevertheless, Unruh insists that the AOL poll -- which showed a majority agreeing with the idea that there is "any merit" to the largely right-wing alleged controversy about Obama's citizenship peddled by the likes of WND -- "suggests more and more people are having second thoughts about Barack Obama's eligibility to occupy the Oval Office."

Unruh also noted that "a recent WND poll showed "a full 97 percent of nearly 7,200 voters" said "no" to the question "Are you satisfied Obama is constitutionally eligible to assume the presidency?" But Unruh did not note that the WND poll, like the AOL poll, is unscientific and therefore useless as a gauge of opinion because participants are self-selecting and the poll is prone to being skewed (or "freeped") by like-minded activists.

Unsurprisingly, Unruh follows WND policy by refusing to acknowledge a WND report last August finding that the birth certificate released by Obama's campaign is "authentic" and that a lawsuit by Philip Berg on the issue -- a lawsuit noted by Unruh -- "relies on discredited claims."

Posted by Terry K. at 2:35 AM EST
Friday, January 2, 2009
Newsmax Promotes Misleading 'Double Counting' Issue in Minn. Recount
Topic: Newsmax

A Dec. 31 Newsmax article by David Patten on the Al Franken-Norm Coleman Minnesota Senate race recount uncritically repeats a claim by Republican Sen. John Cornyn that Franken "is falsely declaring victory based on an artificial lead created on the back of the double counting of ballots," adding that "Minnesotans will not accept a recount in which some votes are counted twice, and I expect the Senate would have a problem seating a candidate who has not duly won an election."

Patten makes no attempt to explain the "double counting" issue -- perhaps because if he did, he'd have to reveal that it's not an issue at all.

As Nate Silver at explains, the issue is based around the fact that voters who cast ballots on election day that could not be read by the vote scanner were required to cast a duplicate ballot. But for the recount, the original ballots, not the duplicates, were counted. Coleman is claiming discrepancies between the original vote count and the recount as evidence that "double counting" was taking place. But as Silver points out:

Coleman's proposed remedy is that original ballots should be thrown out in any instances where they can't be paired with duplicates. If that remedy is adopted, then each of two things will happen: (#1) The state will prevent some ballots from being double-counted, and (#2) The state will also throw out some perfectly legal ballots. The process of identifying potential double-counted ballots is simply too imprecise to have the one thing without the other.

Can these two harms be weighed against one another? Suppose that if you rule on Coleman's behalf, you'll prevent 20 votes from being counted twice, but also throw out 20 legal votes. Most of us would probably not consider that to be a productive trade-off. But what if you could prevent 30 votes from being double-counted, in exchange for throwing out 10 legal ballots? Does the trade-off then become acceptable? Should you double-count 50 ballots if it prevents one voter from having his vote thrown out? Or, does the right of a voter to have his vote counted inherently trump that of the risk of counting some other voter's ballot twice?

By not explaining the duplicate ballot issue, Patten falsely suggests the issue has legitimacy when, in fact, it appears it's just a tactic by Coleman and fellow Republicans to forestall a Franken victory.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, January 3, 2009 2:36 AM EST
Cashill Still Clinging to His Obama Conspiracy Theory
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've detailed how conspiracy theorist extrordinaire Jack Cashill has been peddling the notion that William Ayers ghost-wrote Barack Obama's book "Dreams From My Father," despite a dearth of tangible evidence to support the claim.

Cashill is still clinging to his conspiracy in a Jan. 1 WorldNetDaily column, insisting that it's "the most consequential literary hoax of our time." Needless to say, Cashill's evidence is still circumstantial and speculative, still weirdly focusing on a purported shared love of nautical references by both Ayers and Obama, while "my own memoir on race, 'Sucker Punch,' makes no reference at all, metaphorical or otherwise, to any of the above words save 'current' and 'tides.'"

Cashill still hasn't apologized for falsely claiming that anti-abortion extremist James Kopp was innocent of killing abortion doctor Barnett Slepian, so don't expect to back down from this anytime soon. Part of being a conspiracy theorist, it seems, is that you blithely ignore all the stuff you get wrong.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EST
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
CNS Promotes Anti-Gay Activists, Buries the Lede

A Dec. 24 article by Pete Winn is an unbalanced account of a non-binding United Nations vote to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide devoting nearly the entirety of its space to anti-gay activists who oppose the vote.

Winn also fails to fully detail the agenda of the two anti-gay activists he quotes.  Gary Bauer is described only as a "former GOP presidential candidate" and "president of American Values," but he fails to note that American Values is a right-wing group, and Bauer himself has made wild accusations about a purported "militant homosexual movement."

Winn further describes Thomas Jacobson only as a "[c]onservative U.N. analyst ... who works for the conservative Focus on the Family." But Focus on the Family is a notoriously anti-gay group as well, and Jacobson himself has complained about previous U.N. proposals to decriminalize homosexuality: “What they are saying with this proposed treaty is that a person may practice any form of sexual behavior that is consensual with any other person ... with no reference to marriage, no reference to responsibility to any children which come forth from that union, and no limitation on the types of behavior."

Winn also buries the lede by putting a note that "More than 70 U.N. members currently outlaw homosexuality -- many of them Islamic nations" and Jacobson's statement that “What’s really going to make the huge difference is if the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) countries and the other developing countries, especially from Africa – and we would hope from Latin America -- will stand their moral ground against this,” near the end of the article.

It's surprising that self-proclaimed Christians would accept the Islamic view on anything, let alone count on their support on a "moral ground" issue. Do Bauer and Jacobson actually endorse the Islamic view of homosexuality, which in many Islamic countries is punishible by death? Winn doesn't follow up.

Isn't it newsworthy that Christian activists appear to be embracing extreme Islamic views on an issue? Winn doesn't think so.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:02 PM EST
Does Aaron Klein Hate Olmert More Than He Does Hamas?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've detailed Aaron Klein's hatred for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- from trying to swift-boat Olmert in the run-up to an election to actively undermining his authority during an Israeli military action in Lebanon ( something WorldNetDaily and its writers did not tolerate regarding criticism of President Bush during the Iraq war) -- for not being right-wing enough.

So why is Klein running to the defense of Olmert's government now during Israel's military action in Gaza?

We've already noted that Klein has uncritically parroted Israeli government claims in bashing Hamas. Klein does so again in a Dec. 29 article, proclaiming "one precision strike hit a building of Gaza's Islamic University" that he claimed was being misreported in the media as striking a "women's wing" at the university. Klein again uncritically quotes an Israeli government spokesman defending the airstrike. Klein also uncritically quotes various Islamic activists describing the alleged activist bent of the university -- even though two days earlier he was bashing Hamas for issuing misleading claims about the number of casualties in Gaza.

Surprisingly, we've not heard from Klein -- not yet, anyway -- that the Israeli bombing of Gaza was a ploy to bolster Olmert's Kadima party in upcoming elections, as others have. Klein once accused Olmert of promoting peace talks with Syria to save his "flailing government," calling it an attempt "to distract from mounting domestic dissatisfaction regarding his government's management of the war in Lebanon."

It appears that this time around, Klein actually hates Israel's enemies more than Israel's leader. But where will that leave Klein's terrorist buddies, one important part of Klein's mighty Wurlitzer?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:05 AM EST
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Kinsolving Peddles Global Warming Bamboozlement
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Les Kinsolving's Dec. 30 WorldNetDaily column uncritically parrots the claims of the likes of Marc Morano that "Six hundred and fifty scientists from all over the world have challenged the global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and by former Vice President Al Gore."

But as we've noted, the list of 650 scientists promoted by Morano and Kinsolving merely is an extension of a previous report that was criticized for including a number of people with no expertise in climate science (or science, period).

Posted by Terry K. at 6:21 PM EST
Does Kincaid Think Soros Burned Down Palin's Church?
Topic: Accuracy in Media

From a Dec. 29 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid:

We had asserted during the campaign that “Palin is a target and possibly in harm’s way because she is being perceived as someone who can take a bold stand against George Soros and his nightmare vision and turn the country around on such critical [culture of life] issues.” Soros is a major funder of the Democratic Party and its causes, including abortion and homosexual rights. Soros also funds groups promoting legalization of drugs and rights for prostitutes and criminals.

It turns out that Palin was in harm’s way. Her home church in Alaska, the Wasilla Bible Church, which had been criticized by liberal media outlets as too conservative on matters such as abortion and homosexuality, was badly damaged in an arson fire on December 12. There were no injuries or deaths related to the incident but five women and children were inside the church when the fire started. Agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation but no arrests have been made.

Soros, who is dedicated to destroying traditional values in America in the name of an “open society,” is a convicted inside trader and major funder of the Center for American Progress, whose president, John Podesta, is a co-chair of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Soros personally contributed $50,000 to the Obama Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Palin is not easily intimidated and can continue to be a major spokesperson on cultural and social problems.

Is Kincaid implying that Soros burned down, or had a role in burning down, Palin's church? The juxtapositions here make it seem like that's the impression Kincaid wants to create.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:32 AM EST
Monday, December 29, 2008
Noel Sheppard Shocked-By-The-Unshocking Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

We've previously detailed Noel Sheppard's uncanny ability to be surprised by things that aren't very surprising. He again engages in a form of this in a Dec. 27 NewsBusters post, in which Sheppard asks, "Can you imagine a major American newspaper publishing the headline '2008 Was the Year Man-made Global Warming Was Disproved'?" Sheppard adds that "the British Telegraph published a piece Saturday most climate alarmists on this side of the Atlantic would never dare," which he claims supports "the view that foreign press outlets are more willing to present both sides of this debate."

What Sheppard doesn't tell you: The London Telegraph is a conservative-leaning paper owned until recently by Conrad Black, the article in question is an opinion column, and the columnist (whom Sheppard curiously fails to name), Christopher Booker, has a history of spreading misinformation not only about global warming but also about asbestos -- Booker has peddled the false claim that some types of asbestos don't cause cancer.

Sheppard doesn't explain how a conserative opinion columnist in a conservative newspaper peddling conservative talking points, and misleading ones at that, is representative of telling "both sides of the debate."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:40 AM EST
Aaron Klein, Propagandist
Topic: WorldNetDaily

With the Israeli military action against Hamas in Gaza, Aaron Klein has turned propagandist, bashing claims made by Hamas while uncritically promoting claims by the Israeli government.

A Dec. 27 WND article by Klein focuses on "Hamas' and the Palestinian Authority's long and sordid histories of greatly inflating casualty figures, complaining that news reports on casualties in Gaza failed to note that "the casualty numbers were provided by Hamas."

By contrast, Klein uncritically repeated claims by the Israeli Defense Forces about "some of the targets hit," that "the IDF maintains it tried to minimize casualties," and that the IDF strikes "were predicated on precise intelligence amassed in recent months to target specific Hamas facilities." Klein also quotes a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saying that "Hamas has a major propaganda interest in highlighting civilian casualties while at the same time minimizing the number of Hamas combatants killed."

A real journalist might have noted that Israel, as the other combatant, has a propaganda interest in downplaying civilian casualties in its airstrikes. But that's not Klein's job here. His goal is to make Israel look good and Hamas look bad -- which makes him a propagandist, not a journalist.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:08 AM EST
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Aaron Klein's Annual Misleading Bethlehem Rant
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's Christmas time again, and you know that that means: time for Aaron Klein to disingenuously claim about other media reporting (not his own, of course) about Bethlehem.

A Dec. 24 WorldNetDaily column by Klein contains his apparently annual carping -- he melodramatically targets "but the cold deceit of the mainstream media, which, like clockwork, file misleading reports from this important Christian city every year" -- and like last year, he misleads about what he's criticizing (though, unlike last year, it doesn't appear that he got basic facts wrong, such as the name of the news agency he was attacking). His main problem is that the media doesn't parrot his right-wing agenda in which Israelis the right-wing ones, anyway) are always correct and justified in their behavior and all Muslims are always wrong.

Klein's first target is a Associated Press article on life in Bethlehem that he claims improperly describes the security wall erected by the Israelis. He accuses the writer (putting "journalist" in scare quotes to describe her) of claiming that the wall "encircle[s]" Bethlehem. In fact, the AP writer did not do that; she only described one property as being "surrounded on three sides by a gray cement wall."

Klein also claims that the writer's "main contention" was that "Palestinians in Bethlehem are suffering economically, and this is Israel's fault," which "couldn't be further from the truth." In fact, the AP article makes no such claim; rather, the writer makes no explicit claims about the economy of Bethlehem as a whole and points out how the wall has been disruptive to some but that residents are adapting.

Klein also engages in some whitewashing here by downplaying the impact of the fence: "Actually, unless one enters the city from the area interfacing Jerusalem, a traveler coming in from any other entrance will not even encounter the barrier." Klein concludes with a dissertation on Palestinian and Muslim aggression in Bethlehem.

The notion of Klein complaining about the biased reporting of others is laughable given the extreme bias of his own reporting. Most recently, as we've detailed, Klein has been whitewashing and explaining away violence by right-wing Israeli settlers in the West Bank against Palestinians. Klein has avoided reporting on it since even as the violence continues.

And Klein's whitewashing continues: In a Dec. 26 article, Klein quotes West Bank settler David Haivri, whom he benignly describes only as the "Shromron Community Council liason." As we've detailed, Haivri (or Ha'ivri) -- whom Klein has sympathetically portrayed in the past -- is a far-right activist aligned with Meir Kahane's movements who, in a CNN documentary, refused to criticize a plot by Jewish extremists to detonate a bomb outside a Palestinian girls' school.

If Klein is so offended by the "cold deceit" of the media, shouldn't he stop engaging in it himself?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:17 AM EST

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