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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Did WND Violate Copyright Law?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The Washington Independent details how WND's anti-Obama "documentary," "A Question of Eligibility," features a video made by Media Matters:

Most of the footage is taken from cable news coverage of the president’s election and first months in office. At the height of its sloppiness, the producers use, in its entirety, a video that Media Matters put together to mock Fox News coverage of the president’s first 100 days. You can spot the rip-off because the blue bars and white text that Media Matters mark the 100 days with are still on the screen. Where the liberal group meant to mock the hyperbolic rhetoric of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and the rest of the network’s line-up, WND treats this like pages from the Gospels.

(Gawker weighs in as well.)

Did WND compensate Media Matters for using this video in its for-profit "documentary"? We suspect not -- WND has a pretty expansive view of what it considers "fair use" when it comes to its own appropriation of others' work, even though it's much more narrow when others use WND's work. And WND did not credit Media Matters on-screen either during the video or during the end credits.

This means that WND is attempting to profit off the work of others without obtaining permission to use that work or even offering credit to the creators -- a clear violation of copyright law. The Media Matters page on which its video resides carries a copyright notice at the bottom.

Wouldn't it be wonderfully ironic if Joseph Farah had to pay Media Matters for the unauthorized use of its Fox News clip?

Posted by Terry K. at 5:38 PM EDT
Corsi Finally Coughs Up Affidavits, But Grandmother Story Remains Shaky
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've detailed how, in promulgating the apparently false claim that Barack Obama's grandmother claimed in a radio interview that Obama was born in Kenya, WorldNetDaily has repeatedly cited the existence of affidavits by the interviewer and a translator backing the claim -- but refused to publish those affidavits.

Now, an Aug. 24 WND article by Jerome Corsi links to the affidavits for the first. But in trying to bolster the case for the authenticity of the claim by Obama's grandmother, Corsi ends up demonstrating just how shaky it is.

Corsi cites only unnamed "critics" as pointing out that versions of the phone call between Anabaptist minister Ron McRae and Sarah Obama "leave out the section in which the interpreter insists she actually meant the birth took place in the U.S." -- even though people like David Wiegel at Slate are on record as debunking the claim. Nevertheless, Corsi attempts to discredit that claim by citing the affidavits of McRae and Kweli Shuhubia, a Kenyan Anabaptist minister. The affidavits were not obtained by WND, as Corsi has previously suggested, but were filed in a lawsuit by birther Philip Berg over Obama's birth certificate.

But McRae's affidavit asserts other things that are questionable and even directly contradictory to known facts, for instance asserting that "contrary to news media propagandas here in the United States, US Senator Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim and not a Christian."

McRae also repeats claims propagated by Corsi last fall, suggesting that he was a source for them: that Obama "sent his foreign policy advisor Mr. Mark Lippert, to Kenya at least three times to advise Mr. [Raila] Odinga on his campaign strategies," and that "everyone in Kenya is well aware that Senator Obama donated over one million American dollars ($1,000,000.00) to his cousin's Mr. Odinga's campaign."

We've detailed how the documents Corsi cited as supporting those claims are discredited. Further, the October 2008 Washington Times op-ed by Mark Hyman that McRae cited for the Lippert claim doesn't support what McRae says; Hyman writes only that "Obama sent his foreign policy adviser Mark Lippert to Kenya in early 2006 to coordinate his summer visit." Further, Hyman's op-ed has been criticized as being "filled with lies and innuendo."

In other words, McRae appears to be a guy who's overly eager to smear Obama and who is too anti-Obama to be trusted. Indeed, McRae stated in his affadavit that his interview was something of a "gotcha" in order to undermine Obama: "With Senator Obama being born in Kenya and not in the United States ... I felt it very important to obtain the testimony of his grandmother as a first hand witness, since it is commonly known throughout Kenya, and especially around the Kisumu area, that Sarah Obama was president when Barack Obama, Jr. was born in Kenya."

Shuhubia (which Corsi claims is "a pseudonym chosen to protect his safety") similarly claims in his affidavit that "It is common knowledge throughout the Christian and Muslim communities in Kenya" that Obama "was born in Mombosa Kenya."

Note that both McRae and Shuhubia cite "common knowledge" for their claims and not actual, substantiated facts. That's another thing that discredits these affidavits.

The "gotcha" factor of McRae's phone conversation with Sarah Obama seems even more clear with Corsi's noting of a report that she is "illiterate and doesn't know when she was born." Corsi goes on to cite another report claiming that Sarah Obama's husband was said to have been angered by the news of Barack Obama Sr.'s marriage to Stanley Ann Dunham, addding that the "Kenyan patriarch's anger over the marriage makes it even more unlikely Ann Dunham would have traveled to Kenya during her pregnancy."

Yet Corsi decides to cling to the story. Why? He cites "two members of Sarah Hussein Obama's Luo tribe who are fluent in the local Luo dialect, Swahlili and English" who allegedly "told WND that after carefully listening to the tape they believe she declared Barack Obama Jr. was born in Mombasa, Kenya, and that she was present at the birth." At no point does Corsi name who these people are, thus making this yet more anonymous sources WND has used to attack Obama.

As for the claim by "critics" that a second interpreter involved in the conversation,Vitalis Akech Ogombe, "clarified that her famous grandson was born in Hawaii, not Kenya," Corsi explains that away by quoting McRae baselessly claiming that Ogombe had "obviously been versed to counter such facts with the purported information from the American news media that Obama was born in Hawaii."

Corsi made no apparent attempt to contact Ogombe for this story.

We knew that Corsi's anti-Obama motivations are nakedly partisan. Now we know that Ron McRae's motivations are just as partisan. Instead of clearing up the issue, Corsi exposes the shaky foundations on which the grandmother story rests -- and that it cannot be considered to be reliable, let alone true.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:51 PM EDT
Guilt-By-Association Gangster Logic
Topic: Horowitz

In an Aug. 24 NewsReal post, David Swindle writes that Media Matters shouldn't be "throwing a fit" over Fox News' comparison of President Obama to Mafia gangsters.

Why? Because Saul Alilnsky associated with gangsters.

No, really. That's why.

Swindle explains that "Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and a good number of their various political operatives have all been schooled in the Saul Alinsky methods of ‘community organizing.' " In other words, it's guilt (or, in this case, gangster) by association.

Swindle then writes:

Here's a question for the Left: how far would you go to get universal healthcare in this country? After all, it's supposedly a plan which will save the lives of millions and help liberate the lower class from the economic totalitarianism inflicted on them by their malevolent Fat Cat CEO taskmasters. How far would you go to save the world? If an influential conservative Senator stood in the way of "reform" and one could do something to embarrass or discredit him then wouldn't it be worth it? After all, we're talking about saving people's lives here. What's one man's reputation compared to millions of lives and the perfect world?

Think about that for a moment and perhaps the gangster comparison isn't quite as outlandish as one might suspect.

What seems to be happening here is that Swindle is justifying the gangster reference as an Alinsky-esque tactic, but failing to acknowledge his own embrace of it.

Here's a question for Swindle: Obama is clearly in your way of wanting to "liberate" Americans from the evil of liberalism. How far would he go to embarrass and discredit him? Would you smear him by calling him a gangster, then justify the smear by playing guilt-by-association? After all, what's one man's reputation in the pursuit of the "perfect world" of conservatism, right?

It seems that Swindle has answered in the affirmative.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 PM EDT
Cain Misleads on Congress and Protesters
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Herman Cain uses his Aug. 24 WorldNetDaily column to decry the "sin tactics" of Democratic politicians "to avoid a real debate or rational discussion," which include "call[ing] opponents names" (italics his). But Cain committed his own sin by misleading or lying about the circumstances those names were called.

Cain writes that when a consistuent asked Rep. Barney Frank "about the Democrats' health care proposal he asked the lady, 'On what planet do you spend most of your time?'" But Cain failed to mention that the constituent was engaged in her own name-calling -- describing health care reform as a "Nazi policy" and holding a picture of President Obama made to look like Hitler -- which prompted Frank's response.

Cain also wrote that "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats have called the town hall meeting attendees Astroturf as opposed to real grassroots – un-American and a bunch of crazies simply because we passionately disagree with Obamacare and DemocratCare." In fact, as we've previously documented, Pelosi did not call protesters "un-American"; she wrote that "Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
New Article: Whitewashing Orly Taitz
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily is too close to the anti-Obama attorney to tell its readers the truth about her increasingly questionable legal work on birth certificate-related issues. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 2:33 AM EDT
Farah vs. Coulter
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah begins his Aug. 24 WorldNetDaily column with a disingenuous claim: "WND provides what I believe to be the broadest forum of political commentary anywhere – not just on the Internet, but anywhere."

In fact, that's true only if your idea of "broad" is right-wing to far right-wing. As we've noted, nearly all of the three dozen or so regular writers on WND's commentary page are conservative, conservative Christian or libertarian -- in practice, there's little real distinction between them -- with only Ellen Ratner and Bill Press as token liberals.

This was the dishonest pretext for  defending WND against Ann Coulter's criticism of WND for its birther obsession, which in Farah's words "included what I consider to be scathing personal indictments of me and the company I direct." The criticism that appears to have hit home for Farah is Coulter's claim that WND is "pushing it to get website hits":

To suggest we did this – that I did this – "to get website hits" and "that no sane person could believe it," is really hitting below the belt. I have grown to expect that sort of insult from the insanely jealous Michael Medved and the delusional Keith Olbermann, but not from Ann Coulter.

Does Ann Coulter think Rush Limbaugh is insane? How about her friend Sean Hannity? While neither has pioneered the story or pursued active investigations, both high-rated talkers, and good friends of Coulter, have skewered Obama about his refusal to release his birth certificate.

But Farah really doesn't respond to Coulter's accusation -- perhaps because it's true.

As we've detailed, WND has positioned itself to profit from the birther story, and getting website hits is a key part of that strategy. That's why WND was so quick to embrace the "Kenyan birth certificate" without bothering to vet it first -- a decision likely driven by a desire to drive traffic as much as Farah's obsessive hatred of Obama. When the certificate was discredited, what little credibilty WND has took a hit as well, and Farah has nobody but himself to blame for that.

Rather than complaining about "below the belt" hits from Coulter -- does she do any other kind? -- Farah needs to apologize for his website's excesses and embrace of false claims and decide whether he wants to be a journalist or an activist.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 AM EDT
Monday, August 24, 2009
Geller Accuses Others of Distortion -- But She's Distorting Too
Topic: Newsmax

In an Aug. 24 Newsmax column, Pamela Geller accuses the "media shills and Islamic machinery in the United States" of distorting the case of Fathima Rifqa Bary, the Ohio teen who fled to a pastor in Florida claiming her parents want to kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity. But Geller is still hurling her own distortions.

Geller's main target of ire is Orlando Sentinel columnnist Mike Thomas, whose column on the Bary case Geller immediately distorted: "Thomas got nothing right. Not one detail. Further, at no point did he consider Rifqa’s testimony. At no point did he consider the consequences of Rifqa’s testimony. At no point did he consider the risk to Rifqa’s life."

Actually, Thomas got numerous facts correct -- facts Geller would rather not have get out, such as pointing out that Bary's father is "a middle-class jeweler with no documented history of abuse and no record of radical actions or beliefs" and noting pictures of Bary in a cheerleader outfit: "Somehow I can't imagine a Muslim extremist allowing his daughter to wear short skirts and shake pompoms in front of a crowd of infidels."

Geller responded to that last point with the nonsequitur: "Thomas knows nothing of honor killings in the West."

Geller went on to complain: "The media reported only the parents’ Islamist narrative — giving Rifqa’s story no air time or ink. They repeated the lies over and over again." But Geller does not know that the parents are lying, or that Rifqa is telling the truth. (Nor do we, for that matter.) Yet Geller has already made up her mind to promote her anti-Islam agenda, which of courses he denies she's doing:

Thomas decries an “anti-Muslim” bias in the media coverage of Rifqa’s case. In fact, there was an anti-Christian bias. The mainstream media vilified the good Christians who provided sanctuary to Rifqa, who sought only to escape her father’s threat to kill her.

Those "good Christians who provided sanctuary to Rifqa" also have cult-like tendencies, which Geller has not seen fit to report to her readers.

Further contradicting herself, Geller concludes with an anti-Islamic rant:

Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Geert Wilders: these truth tellers live under 24-hour guard because of Islamic death threats, which they received because they spoke the truth about Islam. Rifqa Bary has committed a far worse crime from the Islamic perspective: the crime of apostasy. Her testimony is far more dangerous to the stealth jihadists in America.

Rifqa Bary is the highest value target in America. She should be under 24-hour guard. And she should be given a fair shake in the media.

And she's accusing other people of distorting the case?

Posted by Terry K. at 10:16 PM EDT
Topic: Washington Examiner
Media Matters noted that the Washington Examiner published an Aug. 21 op-ed by Newt Gingrich attacking health care reform that identified him as "the founder of the Center for Health Transformation," but did not explain that Gingrich's group receives annual membership fees from several major health insurance companies, which have a financial interest in preventing the implementation of certain aspects of health care reform.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:11 PM EDT
Aaron Klein Guilt-By-Association Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Aaron Klein is still peddling guilt-by-association Obama smears.

His latest attempt is an Aug. 23 article asserting that Obama "participated in a controversial 1990s political party with a socialist agenda." But Klein's assertion of "particiapation" is way overstated: He reports only that, according to a member of the New Party -- the "political party with a socialist agenda" in question -- Obama met with a party subcommittee "to see if his stand on the living wage and similar reforms was the same as ours," and that Obama was not a member of the New Party "in any practical way."

But Klein insisted there was "qualifying language" involved, because  while Obamanever signed a contract to become an official member of the party, the party official said "we simply affirmed there was no need to do so, because on all the key points, the stand of his campaign and the New Party reform planks were practically the same."

Klein has declared seeking the NewParty's endorsement one time equals "participation" in the party, even though he admits Obama was never a member of the party. That's the very definition of guilt by association, which Klein has been engaged in for months even though the 2008 election is long over.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:29 AM EDT
Baker Divines Motives He Can't Possibly Know
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Aug. 23 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker asserts that the fact that Seth Rogen, in the film "Funny People," is wearing a T-shirt that reads "Vote Kerry," with an image of John Kerry, means that "Some in Hollywood, it seems, just can't let go of past political hopes – or at least want to use their films to continue pushing their political preferences."

Baker does not know that. He cannot know that, unless he has attempted to contact Rogen or anyone else involved in the film and asked. Therefore, he is engaging in speculation, not imparting fact.

This is emblematic of the core problem with the Media Research Center's "research" -- it starts with a conclusion and finds evidence to support it -- as demonstrated by its insistence on blaming everything on liberal media bias -- and it engages in mind-reading by attributing motives it can't possibly know.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:03 AM EDT
Palling-Around-With-Terrorists Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah is substitute-hosting the radio show of G. Gordon Liddy this week.



Posted by Terry K. at 1:12 AM EDT
Bartholomew Demolishes WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Over the past week, religious blogger Richard Bartholomew has done an outstanding job of shooting down numerous claims published by WorldNetDaily:

  • He dismantled WND columnist Janet Porter's fearmongering that the government will force all Americans to get swine flu vaccines and will send those who refuse to one of the internment camps the National Guard was seeking employees for (another bogus conspiracy Porter and others at WND bought into).
  • He called out WND for a misleading headline suggesting that the baptism of Barack Obama's mother was somehow illegitimate when, in fact, the baptism in question is an unauthorized one performed in her name by the Mormon Church long after her death.
  • He demolished another example of Joel Richardson's questional biblical scholarship. Richardson had claimed that the army that destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem was actually overwhelmingly comprised of Middle Eastern peoples, not Romans or Europeans, insisting that "the historical evidence is overwhelming." As Bartholomew points out, Richardson doesn't do any actual research on the issue but, rather, "guides us through some of the primary sources and recent secondary literature on the subject. And even here Richardson fails to provide page numbers and his quotes are dubious."Bartholomew adds that such a claim "is part of the Christian Zionist fantasy of an essentialised eternal conflict between east and west, which today pits the USA and Israel against Muslims."
Bartholomew has some insightful writing on religious extremism of all stripes.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 AM EDT
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Sheppard Discredits Himself In Two Paragraphs
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard writes in an Aug. 23 NewsBusters post:

On August 5, Congressman Brian Baird (D-Wash.) likened recent town hall meeting protesters to Nazis:

"What we're seeing right now is close to Brown Shirt tactics. I mean that very seriously."

In the space of two paragraphs, Sheppard has just discredited his own post. As he proves, Baird did not "liken recent town hall meeting protesters to Nazis"; he likened the protesters' tactics to those of Nazis.

Is Sheppard really unable to tell the difference between criticizing a person and criticizing aperson's tactics? Or is he just feigning ignorance in order to throw up a cheap, dirty attack post?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 PM EDT
WND Non-Disclosure Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Aug. 22 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn details how Michael Savage's website "was forced to shut down for nearly an hour" due to a "computer hacker, who had snuck into the webpage's server." Zahn added, "The website's repair crew told WND the hacker had broken in through a feedback portal, requiring the site to be shut down before any further damage was done."

What Zahn doesn't report: Savage's website is hosted by WND. That's a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed, but WND frequently violates journalistic ethics by failing to offer such disclosure.

Zahn also lists a number of people who appear with Savage on a list of people banned from Britain. Conspicuously absent from Zahn's list is Mike Guzovsky, aka Yekutiel Ben Yaacov, a one-time source for WND reporter Aaron Klein who is a sympathizer of the outlawed far-right Kach/Kahane Chai movement in Israel. WND whitewashed Guzovsky's identity, changing the description of him from a "extremist" to a "nationalist," and Klein himself has responded by touting Guzofsky as merely a patriotic Jew who leads "workshops to teach self-defense to Jews" and fails to acknowledge Kahane's violent history or his condoning of fellow Kahanist Baruch Goldstein's 1994 massacre of 29 Arabs at Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Indeed, WND has not mentioned Guzovsky's name, let alone his placement on that list, since May 16, even though WND has done numerous articles on Savage's ban that reference other members of the list.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:24 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, August 23, 2009 10:30 AM EDT
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Mooney Misleads in Bashing Al Gore
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Aug. 21 NewsBusters post, Kevin Mooney touts a new "documentary" purporting to claim that "Scientifically unsound claims about global warming are being used to seduce young students and to cajole lawmakers into accepting the legitimacy of regulatory schemes that restrict the use of fossils fuels." Mooney writes:

Although the British High Court recently ruled in favor of parents who objected to the distribution of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” in the school system, its message of pending man-made climate catastrophe continues to hold sway with students who are interviewed in“Not Evil, Just Wrong."

John Day, the lawyer for British parents who sued the British Department of  Education over Gore’s film, discusses the court ruling in the film and compares actual scientific estimates of climate change contained in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with the assertions made in “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“The judge identified nine aspects of `An Inconvenient Truth,’ nine core errors, where Al Gore either misstated the IPCC or prejudicially exaggerated what they found,” Day said. “For example in relation to the sea level rises which is perhaps the starkest error in Al Gore's film arguably. Al Gore is giving an impression that the sea level is going to rise by 20 feet in a very near future. The IPCC talks about 20 feet sea level rises over millennia, over thousands of years, thousands and thousands of years. And sea level rises by a matter of inches by the end of the century. Now that is a very disturbing misstatement of the science.”

Mooney fails to mention that, as we've detailed, the judge also said many of the claims made by the film were fully backed up by the weight of science. He identified “four main scientific hypotheses, each of which is very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC.”

Further, Gore never claimed that "the sea level is going to rise by 20 feet in a very near future." What he did say is that there would be a 20-foot rise in sea levels if the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets were to melt completely or collapse at an indefinite point in the future.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:56 AM EDT

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