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Monday, March 9, 2009
Richard Poe's Anti-Alinsky Screed
Topic: Newsmax

Richard Poe gets away from ranting about redesigned currency and being a drama queen and gets back to what he does best: rant about liberals. In a March 8 Newsmax article, Poe issues a screed against "radical organizer" Saul Alinsky and, unsurprisingly, issues a few baseless smears along the way against favorite targets like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Poe's article is centered around Sanford Howitt's 1989 bio of Alinsky, "Let Them Call Me Rebel." Poe bizarrely writes, "Ironically, Obama’s name does not appear in the book." Given that Alinsky died in 1972, when Obama was 11, and Poe's own concession that "Obama never met Alinsky," there's no irony whatsoever in the lack of connection between Obama and Alinsky.

Poe also claims that Hillary Clinton was "seduced" by Alinsky: "She met Alinsky through a radical youth group, run by her Methodist church. Later, she interviewed Alinsky for her senior thesis in college -- a 75-page analysis of Alinsky’s organizing methods." Yeah, nothing bespeaks "radical" like being a Methodist.

Poe fails to mention that Clinton concluded her thesis by rejecting Alinsky's methods as a large-scale method for social change: "Alinsky's conclusion that the ‘ventilation’ of hostilities is healthy in certain situations is valid, but across-the-board ‘social catharsis’ cannot be prescribed."

Clinton further wrote in her 2003 autobiography that while she agreed with some of Alinsky's ideas, "we had a fundamental disagreement. He believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn't." Poe doesn't mention that, either. He was apparently too busy trying to paint Alinsky as "amoral."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:27 PM EDT
Aaron Klein Double Standard (And Bad Reporting) Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 6 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein begins: "Officials in Jerusalem are quietly scratching their heads in wonderment as to why the White House did not release an official statement condemning yesterday's tractor terrorist rampage here, the third attack of its kind in recent months."

At no point does Klein offer any evidence that this is a concern by anyone but him. Nowhere does he identify any "officials in Jerusalem" who are asking this question -- even anonymously.

Klein also answers his own question later in the article by reporting that the Arab "terrorist" killed no one or even inflicted anything beyond "minor injuries" in the police officers in the police car the "terrorist" overturned with his front-end loader. (The "terrorist" himself was "shot by police and an armed taxi driver" and later died.)

Klein has a history of double standards on so-called "terrorist rampages." In contrast to his reporting here, he painted an AWOL Israeli soldier who shot and killed four Arabs without apparent provocation on a bus in Gaza as a victim who was "murdered" by a "mob of Palestinians" who observed the shooting.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:20 AM EDT
Is Aaron Klein Writing About Himself?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 8 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein asserts that Wikipedia editors "has been deleting within minutes any mention of eligibility issues surrounding Barack Obama's presidency, with administrators kicking off anyone who writes about the subject," citing the experience of "Wikipedia user 'Jerusalem21'" in trying to add the information to Obama's page.

What you won't learn from Klein's article: "Jerusalem21" may very well be Klein himself.

As the posting history of "Jerusalem21" demonstrates, the only other Wikipedia article "Jerusalem21" has edited is the one on ... Aaron Klein. Indeed, "Jerusalem21" created the article on Klein and added numerous links and pictures. This alone strongly suggests that "Jerusalem21" is either Klein or someone close to him acting on his behalf, if not his direction.

Don't take our word for it. Here are a couple comments from the discussion area for Klein's Wiki page and its puffery-laden claims:

  • "We might surmise that the subject is once again editing his own article."
  • "This article in its current state is absolute garbage. It reads as a total puff piece and was obviously heavily influenced by Klein himself and cronies/sockpuppets at WND."

Full disclosure: We've previously attempted to add factual information about Klein to his page that we've previously reported at ConWebWatch -- much of which was deleted by "Jerusalem21." Ironically, it appears that Klein is guilty of doing the exact same thing to our edits that he's accusing Wikipedia editors of doing to the edits by "Jerusalem21."

Now it's Klein's turn to disclose. Is he "Jerusalem21," or is that person acting on Klein's orders? He needs to stop pretending he's not writing about himself.

UPDATE: An alert ConWebWatch reader alerts us that Klein fails to mention the existence of an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the Obama citizenship conspiracy.

UPDATE 2: NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard regurgitates Klein's story. But then again, Sheppard also embraced a guy who believes in 9/11 conspiracy theories.

UPDATE 3: We've published an expanded version of this post over at Huffington Post.

UPDATE 4: This is not the first attack WND has made against Wikipedia.

UPDATE 5: Klein denies he's Jerusalem21 -- but WND has scrubbed his story of all references to Jerusalem21.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:10 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 11:44 AM EDT
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The Obtuseness Continues
Topic: NewsBusters

It's apparently obtuseness weekend at NewsBusters.

First we had Tim Graham unable to properly identify what remark Rush Limbaugh that many found offensive. Now we have Noel Sheppard writing about White House press secretary Robert Gibbs' sparring with critics, then adding, "Anything to distract the nation from a deteriorating economy and the obvious lack of a plan to do anything about it I guess."

Apparently, that stimulus bill was not a plan to do something about the economy.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:38 AM EST
MRC Branch Advances Anti-Global Warming Fallacies
Topic: Media Research Center

A March 4 MRC Business & Media Institute article by Julia Seymour complains about the "media myth" of global warming, but Seymour's article perpetuates a different set of myths.

Seymour cites how "Temperatures have plummeted to record or near-record lows in 32 states this winter" and "a global warming protest in Washington, D.C. was buried by nearly a foot of snow" as evidence that "the Earth is cooling," adding, "Even record low temperatures, record snowfalls and snow in odd places didn’t stop the network media from worrying about the threat of global warming."

In fact, as we've noted, there's no correlation between briefly cold temperatures or snowy weather in isolated parts of the country and long-term climate trends. Even global warming denier Patrick Michaels agrees with that.

Seymour also suggested that temperaures in 2008, which she wrote was "the coldest year since 2000," was further evidence that the earth is cooling. Seymour fails to note that 2008 was the 10th warmest year on record or that, in fact, the earth has not cooled over the past decade.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:51 AM EST
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Graham Misses the Insult
Topic: NewsBusters

Tim Graham devotes two NewsBusters posts to misplaced outrage. Can you find it?

  • "On Friday night's Hardball, Chris Matthews showed how willing he was to carry Democrat water on their manufactured outrage at Rush Limbaugh for mentioning 'that great liberal lion' Ted Kennedy."
  • "What? Most of the news media call Ted Kennedy a 'liberal lion.' How is this some sort of deep, dark personal insult?"

Uh, Tim? The "liberal lion" statement isn't the problem. It's Limbaugh's crack that President Obama's health care reform will be "called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care bill," suggesting that he's rooting for Ted Kennedy's death.

How obtuse can Graham be to not figure out the insult Limbaugh dished out?

UPDATE: Graham's MRC colleague Brent Baker, at least, gets the insult correct, though he unsurprisingly dismisses it as "supposedly outrageous" and "Phony Soldiers II" and plays the equivocation game by listing "recent personal attacks against Limbaugh from media and left-wing political figures."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:57 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, March 7, 2009 11:57 PM EST
Sheppard Joins the Fallacy
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard is joining the right-wing crowd eager to baselessly blame President Obama for the stock market downturn.

In a March 6 NewsBusters post, Sheppard touts Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal articles detailing the decline of the Dow Jones Industrial Average since Obama was inaugurated, asking: "will media ever blame current economic conditions on Obama, or will they continue to point fingers at George W. Bush despite his residence being in Texas?"

But as Media Matters details, Bloomberg and the Journal (not to mention Sheppard) ignored long-term trends -- specifically, that the Dow was on a downward trajectory months before the election and inauguration. Further, Sheppard, like Newsmax and before him, ignore events not related to Obama that have driven the market lower.

Indeed, Sheppard seems quite desperate to blame the recession on anyone but President Bush; he starts by stating that "Obama was inheriting a recession that some believe began as far back as December 2007." Sheppard neglects to mention that among those "some people" placing the recession's start at that particular point are the committee of economists responsible for dating the nation's business cycles. 

All of which, unsurprisingly, runs counter to what NewsBusters have written. For instance:

  • A Jan. 14 post by Jack Coleman was offended by the idea that President Bush, "who served in neither the presidential administration before his, nor the Congress, had anything to do with creating the 'mild economic downturn' that began weeks after he took office."
  • A July 2008 post by Tom Blumer was even more offended that Obama said at the time the U.S. was in a recession: "Of course, we're not in a recession yet, because there hasn't even been one official quarter of negative growth, let alone two." Blumer might want to revisit that post.

But NewsBusters embraces such double standards. Don't expect Sheppard to act any differently.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:19 AM EST
Friday, March 6, 2009
NewsBusters Gives CNBC Anchor's Stupidity A Pass
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March 5 NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor approving cites CNBC anchor Jeff Macke's claim that the Obama administration "has created a country full of 330 million people who all want to make $249,000 a year, lest they want to become one of the ‘wealthy,' who apparently the government hates." Poor curiously fails to note the stupidity of Macke's statement.

As Slate's Daniel Gross points out, the U.S. tax structure is marginal. Because Obama has not proposed a tax increase on the first $250,000 of income, and Obama's proposed tax increases apply to amounts past $250,000, the tax liability on that first $250,000 is not affected by the tax increases. Thus, Macke's claim that we "all want to make $249,000 a year" is stupid because the tax liability on that amount is not affected by having income over that amount.

As Gross summed it up: "That dentist eager to slash her income from $320,000 to $250,000 would avoid the pain of paying an extra $2,100 in federal taxes. But she'd also deprive herself of an additional $70,000 in income!"

Posted by Terry K. at 3:15 PM EST
Examiner Mindlessly Repeats Discredited Obama Attack
Topic: Washington Examiner

A March 5 Washington Examiner editorial asserts that as senator, "Barack Obama was compiling a voting record described by the National Journal – not exactly a charter member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy  – as 'the most liberal' in the U.S. Senate."

It's too bad that the Examiner's editorial writers don't venture outside their conservative bubble. If they did, they would know that the National Journal's ranking has been discredited -- and methodology, not ideology, is to blame. The National Journal's ranking was based only on a subjectively chosen select number of votes, not all relevant votes. In contrast, a separate study by political science professors Keith Poole and Jeff Lewis, using every non-unanimous vote cast in the Senate in 2007 to determine relative ideology, placed Obama in a tie for the ranking of 10th most liberal senator.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:04 AM EST
Obama Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Obama has declared war on America.


I am not ready to surrender the greatest nation in the history of the world to a tin horn tyrant who never outgrew his adolescent communist stage.



Obama is fine with burning the bridge of prosperity behind him because he has his wealth, but he didn’t earn it the “old way” — he got his the easy way, by trading favors from his public office for private ones and using his elected office to sell books about himself.

If he had gotten it the hard way, like many of the people he plans to take from, he would have too much respect for their work ethic to take from them their resources to buy votes that increase his power and his lot.

-- Scott Wheeler, March 5 Newsmax column

Posted by Terry K. at 1:24 AM EST
Correlation-Equals-Causation Fallacy Watch

A March 5 article by Matt Cover is based around the implication that Barack Obama is responsible for the tanking economy: "In fact, Obama’s rise has seemed to accompany the economy’s fall." But Cover never offers any direct evidence that the two are related, nor does he acknowledge events outside of Obama's control that are much more likely factors.

For instance, Cover wrote:

On Feb. 9, the president made two campaign-style stops in South Bend and Elkhart, Ind. Obama made the case for government stimulus in his first national news conference, saying that only government could save the economy.


The following day, the NYSE lost 210 and the NASDAQ lost 51 points, with the NYSE shedding $400 billion the next day.

In fact, stock analysts did not tie those market declines to Obama's comments. A Feb. 10 New York Times article stated: "Investors had been expecting the Obama administration to unveil a shock and awe solution on Tuesday for the nation’s hobbled banking system. But the main reaction was disappointment as the new plan raised more questions than it answered, sending stock markets and the shares of banks assumed to be holding toxic assets sharply lower."

Cover has written several problematic CNS articles lately. He has taken Obama's words out of context, peddled false claims about the stimulus bill, and issued vaguely written attacks on Obama's economic plan.

Meanwhile, Newsmax follows in these same footsteps with a March 5 article by Greg Brown on its MoneyNews website suggesting a similar correlation: "Since Barack Obama was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, stocks have tumbled to record lows — with investors losing an estimated $2.5 trillion in market value." But like Cover, Brown offers little evidence to back up his suggestion.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:12 AM EST
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Editor & Publisher reports that the latest version of the Sacramento Union has shut down.

As we've noted, WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah is a former editor of the original Union and was an adviser on the 2004 re-launch as a magazine (re-re-launched as a weekly paper in 2006).

The latest iteration was conservative-leaning but, by the end, heavily relied on propaganda pieces from right-wing think tanks.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:06 PM EST
Newsmax Headline Watch
Topic: Newsmax

The headline the Associated Press put on a March 5 article: "Census Bureau said behind schedule for 2010 count."

The headline Newsmax put on that same article: "White House-Controlled Census Behind Schedule."

The Newsmax headline repeats a false Republican talking point. In fact, the White House is not "controlling" the census; the article itself states that the Obama administration has said "the Census Bureau would not be removed from the Commerce Department."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 PM EST
MRC Double Standard Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March 4 NewsBusters post, Matthew Balan complains that during an appearance by Eric Burns, president of "the left-wing organization Media Matters for America" (disclosure: my boss) on CNN, anchor Rick Sanchez "failed to mention the political leanings of Media Matters."

This complaint might have some validity if Media Research Center ever bothered to insist that Fox News identify it as a conservative group when MRC representatives appear on the channel.

UPDATE: Balan's post appears in the March 5 MRC CyberAlert.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:39 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2009 2:40 PM EST
Kessler Misleads on Labor Law
Topic: Newsmax

In a March 4 Newsmax column agitating against the Employee Free Choice Act, Ronald Kessler writes: "Under labor relations laws, workers for the past 75 years have had the right to choose by secret ballot whether to sign up to join a union."

In fact, workers do not "the right to choose by secret ballot whether to sign up to join a union"; that choice is made by the employer. As Media Matters summarizes, under current law, a union that shows it has the support of a majority of workers can represent the workers if their employer voluntarily agrees to recognize the union, without holding such an election. The choice to have a secret-ballot election is the employer's, not the workers'.

Kessler also falsely states that the EFCA "would deprive workers of the right to a secret ballot." In fact, it would merely move the choice to have a secret-ballot election from the employer to the workers.

Further, Kessler uncritically states that "When given the right to choose by secret ballot, employees generally reject unions" without also noting why that might be. Employers regularly use anti-union tactics such as intimidating workers, firing workers, and threatening to shut down factories and businesses. Kessler also uncritically writes that the EFCA "subjects the employee to possible intimidation and retaliation if he does not go along and sign up to join the union" without mentioning that, according to the National Labor Relations Board, the vast majority of complaints over alleged unfair labor practices are filed against employers, not unions.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:02 AM EST

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