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Friday, March 13, 2009
Examiner Hides Funding of Anti-Union Study
Topic: Washington Examiner

Numerous Washington Examiner articles -- a March 5 editorial, a March 6 article by Kevin Mooney, a March 6 "Opinion Zone" article, a March 11 editorial, and a March 13 column by Republican Rep. Howard McKeon -- have touted a study by Anne Layne-Farrar claiming that, in the words of one article, "Every three percentage point gain in union membership would be accompanied by a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate the following year." Most of these articles offer some variation on a neutral description of Layne-Farrar's background -- in Mooney's words, "an economist with LECG, a non-partisan Chicago-based economic consulting group."

None of the articles, however, mention one pertinent fact: As Media Matters detailed, Layne-Farrar's study was funded by anti-union groups. A press release issued by the HR Policy Association announcing the results of Layne-Farrar's study, "Funding for the Study was provided by the Alliance to Save Main Street Jobs." The release further states that the alliance "is chaired by HR Policy Association and includes the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the Associated Builders and Contractors, The International Council of Shopping Centers, the Real Estate Roundtable, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce."

Then again, to have mentioned this would have meant that the Examiner is acknowledging that it's serving as the PR arm of those very same anti-union forces.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:43 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, March 13, 2009 2:26 PM EDT
Russ Douthat Meets the Heathers
Topic: NewsBusters

Newly minted New York Times columnist Ross Douthat doesn't pass NewsBusters chief Heather Tim Graham's purity test:

But is Mr. Douthat (pronounced DOW-thut) really a conservative, or is he the kind of conservative only the New York Times could love? Their own story says pick (B), a sort of kid brother of David Brooks[.]


Would the New York Times announce it’s hired a "liberal writer" for the op-ed page and then declare they "steer away from partisanship or doctrine," are "squishy" on a "woman’s right to choose," and "frequently criticized Democrats"? Why aren’t they honest and report they’ve hired another "Republican moderate columnist"?

Maybe he won't always write something moderate. But Douthat was also hailed by David Frum in his "Limbaugh cult" Newsweek cover story as someone like him, someone who has the courage and wits to tell conservatives the Reagan era is toast:

"We’re at the end of the Reagan era. We’re at a point in time when we’re about to start redefining....the nature of the Republican Party, in response to what the country needs." He’s not a "Reagan Republican," but a "post-Reagan Republican."

Conservatives might suggest that’s about as acceptable to hear as black liberals being told that the Obama era is "post-racial."

Perhaps Graham should convince his MRC colleagues down the hall at to serve as an example for the Times and hire a liberal as a columnist.

UPDATE: Actually, CNS is engaging in a little Heathering of its own over Douthat. Its headline on a March 12 AP article: "NY Times Hires Its Version of A Conservative to Write Op-Ed Column." That, of course, wasn't the headline the AP sent out the story with; that -- "NY Times Hires Young Conservative Op-Ed Columnist" -- strangely remains here as a subhead.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:24 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, March 13, 2009 9:35 AM EDT
New Article: WorldNetDaily's War on Wikipedia
Topic: WorldNetDaily
A summary of the week's events: In yet another attack on the popular website, WND's Aaron Klein builds a story around a user trying to edit Barack Obama's Wikipedia page, but doesn't disclose that he told that person what to do -- and then WND scrubs all references to that user from Klein's story. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:43 AM EDT
Erik Rush: Obama Is Like Prison Rapist
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Despite the evidence that Obama was a closet communist, at this point I presumed he'd have settled into being something slightly more to the left than Bill Clinton and work his evil incrementally.


Indeed – like the proverbial cellblock rapist, our president is "ramming" as much of his Marxist agenda down our collective throats as quickly as he can. One would think he fears that someone might come around the corner at any second and catch him.

-- Erik Rush, March 12 WorldNetDaily column

Posted by Terry K. at 12:10 AM EDT
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Did Newsmax Writer Fabricate Obama Quote?
Topic: Newsmax

A March 11 Newsmax column by James Humes writes regarding a bust of Winston Churchill loaned to the U.S. government by Great Britain that President Obama had returned to the British Embassy:

That offensive act without explanation gave substance to the reported story that when President Obama walked into the Oval Office for the first time and saw the Churchill piece, he said, “Get that goddam thing out of here.”

Humes doesn't say where this Obama quote was supposedly"reported"; indeed, a search of both Google and Nexis uncovers no evidence of it.

Is Humes making this quote up? We don't put it past him given the smear he unleashes immediately after: "Perhaps Obama, who grew up in Kenya, took umbrage at Prime Minister Churchill’s actions in 1953 of wiping out the Mau-Mau, the Kenyan terrorists who made a specialty of slitting throats of sleeping white and Black Kenyans."

Humes also can't get his facts straight (a problem he has).  He states that the bust was "a gift from the British people"; in fact, as Newsweek reports, the bust was " a loaner from former British prime minister Tony Blair following the September 11 attacks."

Meanwhile, Humes wasn't done smearing Obama. He asserted that "President Obama took over a hundred years of diplomatic asset known as the 'special relationship' and smashed it into smithereens," adding, "Barack Hussein Obama (who insisted that his Arabic middle name be included in the inaugural oath) has instructed the State Department to play kissy-face with Syria, Iran, the PLO, and the Taliban."

UPDATE: Oh, and Obama didn't "gr[o]w up in Kenya," either. Another Humes lie (which has repeated before).

Posted by Terry K. at 5:16 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2009 5:55 PM EDT
Quote of the Day

It is now clear to me - although I have absolutely no reason to know this to be true - that Hillary agreed not to blow up the Democratic convention in Denver if she became Secretary of State.

-- Rich Galen, March 11 column

Posted by Terry K. at 3:18 PM EDT
The Return of Mark Hyman -- And His False Claims
Topic: Washington Examiner

You may remember Mark Hyman from his heyday as a right-wing Sinclair Broadcasting commentator, during which he peddled all sorts of false and misleading claims.

Well, he's back. In a March 10 Washington Examiner column, Hyman served up a laundry list of anti-Obama attacks -- including some false ones.

In recent days, there were attacks against CNBC hosts Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer, a prominent Obama supporter. The pair articulated on-air what millions of Americans are thinking: Obama’s economic policies are seriously damaging America.

Santelli said he understood the threat when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs publicly stated, “I’m not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives…” What Gibbs may have hoped to instigate is anybody’s guess.

In fact, Santelli himself backed off his false claim that Gibbs "threatened" him when confronted on it by NBC's Matt Lauer.

Hyman also wrote that "Prosecutors and sheriffs in the swing state of Missouri who backed Obama threatened to prosecute anyone behind information they – as a self-appointed 'truth squad' -- judged to be inaccurate." In fact, as we noted at the time, those prosecutors and Sheriffs made no such threat, and the chief promoter of this claim was Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, a John McCain supporter.

Hyman didn't go only after Obama; he wrote, "The Clinton Administration repeatedly used dirty tricks against 'enemies,'" listing among them "White House Travel Officer [sic] Director Billy Dale." In fact, as we've detailed, independent counsel Robert Ray concluded that because Dale and other employees of the travel office worked at the pleasure of the president, President Clinton had the legal right to fire them without cause. Further, there was indeed evidence of financial mismanagement in the travel office under Dale, though Dale was later found not guilty of criminal charges filed over it.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:43 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2009 1:43 PM EDT
Even Kessler Agrees Klein's Smear Was Unfair
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've previously noted Aaron Klein's attempt to smear Chas Freeman, the now-former nominee head the National Intelligence Council, by claiming he has "business ties to Osama bin Laden's family." Now we've gotten support for our contention from a most unlikely source.

From Ronald Kessler's March 11 Newsmax column otherwise critical of Freeman:

To be sure, a few of the criticisms leveled against Freeman were unfair.

The fact that Freeman had business dealings with a construction firm owned by Osama bin Laden’s family was a non sequitur. Years before bin Laden began attacking American interests, his family severed ties with him when Saudi Arabia expelled him and confiscated his assets.

Klein, of course, never botherred to report that part of it, all the better to smear Freeman.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2009 9:31 AM EDT
Tattoos = Porn?
Topic: Media Research Center

A March 11 MRC Culture & Media Institute column by Matt Philbin (excerpted at NewsBusters) -- headlined "How Mainstream Is Porn? Just Ask Body Art Barbie" -- uses the new "Totally Stylin' Tattoos Barbie" doll to make a bizarre, unfounded link between tattoos and porn:

So logically, today we have "Tramp Stamp Barbie," accurately reflecting the aesthetics of our porn-sodden culture. "Sex sells," and it always has. What's fairly new is that it's selling to the grade school set.


From here, the path is clear: next year comes "Urban Ken" with shaved head, baggy pants and barbed wire ink around his neck. Then, "Body Piercing Barbie" and "Pole Dance Barbie." Finally the "Malibu Dream House" will be updated into "Secluded San Fernando Valley Rental Dream House."

Philbin apparently also doesn't like cartoon characters who aren't Barbie-white -- he bashes Dora the Explorer as "the most excruciatingly multicultural cartoon star not under contract to PBS" and as "a repository of feminist ideas about child-rearing. She’s an adventurer in non-gender-specific clothes. No tea parties or doll houses for her!"

Posted by Terry K. at 1:19 AM EDT
WND Bogus Poll Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a March 6 WorldNetDaily column, Glenn Sacks and Robert Franklin bashed a poll claiming that a high number of mothers were angry with their spouses:

In the social science field this is known as a "SLOP" – a Self-selected Listener Opinion Poll. Four out of five of those receiving surveys didn't respond. The ones who did are more likely to have an ax to grind or be angry – exactly the response the magazine claims its survey revealed. This data cannot be credibly applied to the average mom or family.

WND reporter Chelsea Schilling apparently doesn't read the website she works for, because she treats the same kind of poll as newsworthy.

In a March 10 WND article, Schilling touts how "an MSNBC unscientific online survey" gave President Obama an "F" for job performance. Calling the poll "unscientific" is the only hint Schilling provides to its bogus, SLOP-like nature. It's an opt-in poll with no apparent evidence that respondents are barred from voting more than once, making it wholly unreliable and, in the words of Sacks and Robinson, cannot be credibly applied to the average American.

WND loves to publish these kinds of stories -- indeed, Schilling herself has frequently reported the results of bogus polls as if they meant something. Apparently, Joseph Farah believes this sort of thing contributes to his "reputation and credibility." Well, yeah -- just not the way he thinks it does.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EDT
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Deep Thought
Topic: Horowitz
Should a guy who has written a book about "the left's romance with tyranny and terror" be proud of his own association with an unrepentant terrorist?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:55 PM EDT
We Cross The Pond
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald cites ConWebWatch in reporting on the WorldNetDaily/Wikipedia controversy.

UPDATE: And we're linked to in Hebrew too! Ynet is operated by the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot. (Here's its English site.)

Posted by Terry K. at 12:19 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:52 PM EDT
The Farah Media Smear Machine
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah unleashes his vitriolic lashing-out strategy at WorldNetDaily's critics yet again in a March 11 column that attempts to defend Aaron Klein over his attacks on Wikipedia.

Needless to say, he begins by taking out his frustrations on little ol' me. Endeavoring to smear me as a "fulltime anti-WND blogger" (as if that's a bad thing), Farah asserts that I "claim[ed] falsely that Klein himself was the Wikipedia user dubbed Jerusalem21. In fact, Klein's Jerusalem bureau research assistant is Jerusalem21. Oooooooh. Big scandal, right?"

First, Farah is lying; I never asserted that Klein was Jerusalem21. Here's what I wrote in my original post: "'Jerusalem21' is either Klein or someone close to him acting on his behalf, if not his direction." I merely presented the facts of the case -- which Farah does not contradict -- and offered the two most likely possible conclusions, one of which Klein and Farah were forced to admit was correct.

Second, the "scandal" is not that Klein was the man behind Jerusalem21; it's that he didn't follow sound journalistic practice by disclosing this to his readers. Instead, he left the false impression that he had no personal connection to Jerusalem21. If Klein had done proper disclosure about his relationship to Jerusalem21, this "scandal" would never have taken off like it did.

Third, if this is the non-scandal Farah claims it is, why did WND scrub all references to Jerusalem21 from Klein's articles?

Fourth, Farah fails to address the other part of this "scandal" -- the utter hypocrisy of complaining about removal of negative information from Obama's Wikipedia page when Klein (or Jerusalem21) has been similarly quick to remove critical information from Klein's own Wikipedia page.

Nevertheless, Farah continues to hurl insults: He claims I was taking "libelous shots at Klein" (as noted above, a lie) and adding, "Normally no one pays too much attention to Krepel, recognizing him for what he is – an ideological crusader masquerading as a press watchdog, determined to expose the slightest break in the ranks of the Obama media amen chorus."This is Farah's M.O. -- denigrate, discredit and destroy his critics, even when he can't actually prove they got anything wrong.

And Farah whines, again: "What's odd about this tempest in a teapot is that even if what Krepel and company had written were true, that Klein himself had made the submissions on Wikipedia and reported on it, what is the big deal? What is the scandal? What would be wrong with doing first-hand research of this kind and reporting on it?"

Two things: lack of disclosure and scrubbing of the original articles after publication without alerting readers to it. What about that does Farah not understand? Has he been away from the real world of journalism so long that he no longer grasps such concepts? Does Farah have the guts to defend such egregious violations of journalistic ethics? We suspect not -- publicly, anyway.

If Farah has no problem dishing it out attacks on Obama and other people he doesn't like, he should be able to take it when criticism comes back his way. But as his history demonstrates, he can't.

Neither Farah nor Klein can point to a false claim I've made about this controversy (when they aren't making it up one, anyway). They seem to think beligerent bluster will throw me off their scent. In this case, bluster equals cowardice.

What are they afraid of? Why can't Farah admit that some (if not most) criticism of him and WND is legitimate? Why can't Klein have the same live-and-let-live philosophy on his own Wikipedia bio that he demands be done to Obama's bio?

Farah demonstrates even more cowardice by refusing to link to my original ConWebWatch item on Klein. That's not surprising -- Farah similarly deleted links to ConWebWatch in an op-ed I submitted to WND in response to a previous attack on me by Farah (in which he denigrated me as a "talent-challenged slug").

Farah then writes: "I tell you all this because, in my business, reputation and credibility constitute our lifeblood. And, I know from personal experience that when your reputation and credibility is being gang-raped like this – even by people with no reputation or credibility of their own – it causes real damage."

Well, guess what? I have a reputation and credibility to uphold as well. I research what I write about, I back up my claims, and I will defend myself against false and unfounded accusations like the ones Farah is spewing.

I stand by what I wrote about Klein's Wikipedia stories; I'm merely reporting what WND won't. Farah, meanwhile, has not only lied about what I've written, he has already demonstrated he doesn't trust his own reporter or his readers by surreptitiously scrubbing Klein's stories after publication.

So, which one of us has "no reputation or credibility of their own"?

UPDATE: Cross-posted with minor alterations at Huffington Post.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:34 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 7:13 PM EDT
Klein Claims He's Not Jerusalem21 -- And Scrubs His Story
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Aaron Klein has responded to Gawker over our report on the unusual and undisclosed closeness between Klein and "Jerusalem21," the nom de wiki of the Wikipedia contributor around whom Klein built an article to claim that references to the birth certificate issue on Barack Obama's Wikipedia page were being swiftly deleted:

First, I am not "Jerusalem21," but I do know the Wikipedia user (he works with me and does research for me), and I worked with him on this story, which focused on investigating allegations I had received from others of Wikipedia scrubbing Obama's page. I wanted to personally oversee whether indeed criticism of Obama was being deleted. For your information, often investigative journalists engage in exactly this kind of testing – like seeing if they can bypass mandatory disclosures while donating to a candidate (several newspapers did this prior to the November election), or if they can register a dog to vote in Illinois. Thus, even if I had personally edited Obama's page as a test to investigate allegations of scrubbing, this is entirely legitimate journalistic practice.

Then again, reporters typically fully disclose the extent of their involvement in such stunts in their articles -- something Klein did not do until we reported on it and it spread across the Internet (Pandagon, Wired's Threat Level, Gawker/Valleywag). His obviously close relationship to "Jerusalem21" should have been disclosed.

Of course, even Klein's begrudging disclosure here is not sufficient. How do we know for sure that "Jerusalem21" is not Klein? Why take Klein's word for it? After all, the only thing "Jerusalem21" edited at Wikipedia before this is Klein's own bio -- where we know any criticism of Klein is swiftly deleted -- and Klein is still obscuring "Jerusalem21's" real identity, for which he has not given a reason.

Klein further defends his story: "My article from yesterday noted what is clearly a major trend at Wikipedia and is a very legitimate piece. ... Do not simply and misleadingly update your article just by stating that I know 'Jerusalem21' and leaving in the defamatory portrayal that I somehow invented a controversy, when indeed there is indisputably a much wider, documented trend."

But as we also noted, Klein failed to provide proper context. In neither of his articles -- his original one, plus a follow-up -- did Klein mention that a separate Wikipedia page exists regarding Obama birth certificate conspiracies. Nor does he acknowledge that other Wikipedia pages are similarly monitored by editors and critical claims deleted -- like Aaron Klein's.

Klein sent a similar response to Threat Level. As blogger Kevin Poulsen sums it up:

What's missing from this treatise on investigative journalism is the reporter's obligation to disclose when he's engineered events on which he's reporting. In a follow-up e-mail, Klein acknowledges that he should have made that disclosure, but suggests he's guilty of nothing more than an accidental omission in a hastily written story.

"It just slipped my mind," he writes.


That's a lot of mind-slippage. You'd think at some point in the writing, Klein would have a revelation, slap his head and say, "Silly me! Here I am writing about my researcher following my instructions, and I'm making it sound like I don't even know the guy! Glad I caught that."

Further, if Klein is so proud of this story and his association with "Jerusalem21," why did remove all references to "Jerusalem21" after the fact? As Threat Level noted, as of early afternoon on March 10, Klein's original article "was scrubbed clean of the name Jerusalem21, who's now referred to only as 'one Wikipedia user.'" There is no notice on the article to indicate that it has been altered from the original -- another thing a real, conscientious journalist would do.

Fortunately for you (though perhaps less so for Klein), we saved a copy of the original. We're pretty sure Klein's follow-up originally referenced "Jerusalem21" as well, but that's been scrubbed too.

Given that Klein is still obfuscating about "Jerusalem21" and has significantly changed his article(s) after publication without informing readers he did so, why trust Klein on anything?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:06 AM EDT
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
WND's War on Wikipedia
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Aaron Klein's current sock-puppet assault on Wikipedia is far from the only instance of WorldNetDaily's attacks on the website.

In December, WND editor Joseph Farah let loose an anti-Wikipedia screed after someone had edited his Wiki bio to claim he was "noted homosexual." Farah called Wikipedia "wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever known," a "vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit," "a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution," a "wholly unreliable website run by political and social activists promoting their own agenda" and, last but not least, "pseudo-journalistic terrorism and character assassination." You know, kinda like WND itself.

Last May, WND accused Wikipedia of promoting pornography for including "detailed photos of nude homosexual men engaging in sex acts and a variety of other sexually explicit images and content" for, among other things, offering the definition of a "fluffer" and including an image of the European cover of the 1976 Scorpions album "Virgin Killer," which features a naked girl. At no point does WND concede that the images and content occur in the context of an encyclopedia, or that child nudity is not the same thing as child pornorgraphy. WND promoted the story with the blurb, "Wikipedia or Wikipornia?" As one observer put it, WND demonstrates "a shocking misunderstanding of how Wikipedia actually works."

Posted by Terry K. at 4:50 PM EDT

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