WorldNetDaily and NewsBusters have enlisted in the effort to perpetuate the myth that there were much more people at Saturday's tea party protest than there actually was.
A Sept. 12 WND article by Chelsea Schilling and Alyssa Farah reports that "crowd estimates vary from as low as 60,000 to 70,000 according to ABC News to a high of 2 million by London Daily Mail." But the Daily Mail's estimate is not sourced and is more ambivalent that Schilling and Farah admit.
The Daily Mail article states that "Up to two million people marched to the U.S. Capitol," leaving open the possiblity that the actual number is much lower. Elsewhere in the article, a photo caption reads, "Tens of thousands of people converged on Capitol Hill on Saturday to protest against government spending" -- which suggests that it has little actual faith in that higher number.
Nev ertheless, the headline on the WND article demonstrates where its sympathy lies: "A million or more rock Washington." And Schilling and Farah begin with the hyperbolic claim that the protest "could be the biggest protest ever – potentially dwarfing the Million Man March and the Promise Keepers Rally," which did in fact attract hundreds of thousands.
But as the Washington Post reports: "Authorities in the District do not give official crowd estimates, but Saturday's throng appeared to number in the many tens of thousands."
Meanwhile, a Sept. 12 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield stated: "Estimates for crowd sizes are starting to come in. We're talking at least a million people, folks." Sheffield linked to a post on Michelle Malkin's blog stating that "ABC News reporting crowd at 2 million." But as a later update to Malkin's post noted, ABC reported no such thing; in fact, it reported a crowd of "approximately 60,000 to 70,000 people," citing the DC fire department.
WND Fails to Fully Retract Another False Article Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've previously noted how, in April 2008, WorldNetDaily published an article about a 13-year-old Texas girl who claimed she was beaten over a sign she made for a history class calling for an end to illegal immigration remains on its website uncorrected, despite the fact that WND published another article the next day pointing out that the girl fabricated the story.
Well, the WND brand of incomplete retraction of false claims has reared its ugly head again.
On Aug. 29, WND published an article about Heather Lawrence, a "16-year-old Junior ROTC member" who "saw a teachable moment and took it" when, she claimed, she saw a fellow student wearing a hijab "refusing to participate" in the Pledge of Allegiance. "Take that thing off your head and act like you're proud to be an American," Lawrence said she told her.Lawrence then claimed she was "suspended for five days" from school over the incident.
The problem? It's mostly not true. As the St. Petersburg Times reported on Aug. 31, Lawrence did indeed mouth off to the Muslim girl, but she fabricated that part of the story that she claimed to have seen the girl not take part in the Pledge of Allegiance. An investigation turned out that Larence never left her homeroom and, according to the school principal, "could not have seen what she said she saw."
WND was a little slow to pick up on this. It was not until late on Sept. 1 that WND ran an article relating the St. Petersburg paper's account -- taking care not to mention the Muslilm girl's status as an innocent victim but making sure to relate Lawrence's father's assertion that he still believes his daughter.
But WND's original Aug. 29 article has not been updated to indicate that Lawrence's story is bogus. Thus, anyone who reads that article has no idea that Lawrence's claim has been completely discredited.
Such insufficient effort to correct a false claim is, sadly, emblematic of WND's cavalier indifference to the truth. It apparently sees nothing wrong with publishing false claims that it makes no effort to correct -- and it typically won't do so unless threatened with a libel suit. Just ask Clark Jones.
It appears that, after months of attempting in vain to counter the worst anti-Obama impulses of his fellow right-wingers, David Horowitz has decided to embrace them.
A Sept. 11 Obama-bashing FrontPageMag article by Horowitz carries the headline "The Manchurian Candidate," illustrated with this front-page image:
Horowitz thus contradicts his earlier criticism -- from just four months ago -- of far-right critics like WorldNetDaily's David Kupelian: "Obama is a machine politician and whatever dangers he represents (and as I see it there are many) are dangers because they reflect the heart and soul of today's Democratic Party, not because he is a Manchurian candidate or a closet Islamist, as more than a few conservatives seem to think."
Apparently so, because he also appears to be content with echoing Rush Limbaugh.
Horowitz apes Limbaugh in a Sept. 11 NewsReal post claiming that Obama "lied not once in his Health Care speech but twice — and not on inconsequential issues, but big ones." The first one he cites:
The lies were direct and were compounded by the fact that he accused others of lying because they called him on his lies. Joe Wilson who sat on the congressional committees which reviewed the amendments that were then killed which would have required people to prove they’re citizens. Of course!
But Wilson is wrong to call Obama a liar for asserting that health care reform won't cover illegal immigrants -- FactCheck and PolitiFact have demonstrated it.
Horowitz goes on to assert: "The Democrats are for death panels. Of course they are. ... Of course if you’re going to have one Big Brother — single payer system — ration health care, you’re going to have death panels. There’s no other option." FactCheck and PolitiFact have debunked that claim too.
Horowitz's post is headlined "Brazen Democrats Defend White House Liar." It is much more brazen for Horowitz to assert that claims repeatedly demonstrated to be false are the truth.
All Horowitz needs to do now is go full birther, and the transformation will be complete.
NewsBuster Reads Beck's Mind, Finds It Pure Topic: NewsBusters
Jeff Poor has apparently read Glenn Beck's mind, and he declares it to be filled with only the purest of intent.
Responding in a Sept. 11 post to Alex Pareene's item on 9/11 at Gawker that calls "a hate-and-expletive-filled anti-President George W. Bush, anti-conservative and anti-Glenn Beck attack," Poor takes issue with criticism of Beck's 9/12 Project and Pareene's assertion that "On 9/12, people in New York (and DC) did not feel as 'great' as Glenn Beck. ... They felt scared and confused and depressed. Many of them were drunk. And only an idiot or an actual terrorist would want to always feel like it was 9/12/01.":
Pareene and other left-wing critics of Beck's 9-12 Project have totally misunderstood Beck's intent. It's not to create euphoria, but as the Web site explains, it "is designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001" and overcome political divides.
How does Poor know what "Beck's intent" is for the 9/12 Project? He doesn't. Indeed, given that most of us who remember 9/11 remember the accompanying fear and uncertainty of the days immediately following it, for Beck to want to "bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001" must logically include bringing back that same sense of fear -- which, it can be argued, has nothing to do with overcoming political divides but, rather, exacerbating them.
Nevertheless, without any actual knowledge of "Beck's intent," Poor has declared it to be only the purest.
WND's Washington Falsely Conflates Social Darwinism, Evolution Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a Sept. 12 WorldNetDaily column bashing Obama appointee Cass Sunstein, Ellis Washington asserts that "Sunstein's entire legal philosophy and worldview is encapsulated" in part by "Social Darwinism [evolution]."
But evolution, a biological process, is not the same thing as social Darwinism, which is not biological. As we detailed in 2006 when WND was promoting Coral Ridge Ministries' misleading attempt to tie evolution to Hitler, anti-evolutionists have long conflated social Darwinism with evolution, even though Charles Darwin himself never advocated such a thing. Indeed, the racism and ethnic cleansing pejoratively associated with social Darwinism existed long before Darwin.
MRC Debunked By ... MRC Topic: Media Research Center
Sometimes the Media Research Center's right hand doesn't know what its ... er, other right hand is doing.
A Sept. 10 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan complained that a CNN "poll on President Obama’s health care speech to Congress on Wednesday significantly oversampled Democrats." Balan later appended a statement from MRC chief Brent Bozell:
CNN has no business airing a ‘poll’ that is straight partisan reaction from those already in the can for ObamaCare. Caveat or no caveat, CNN was dead wrong to run this and on national television proclaim, ‘We have important numbers here.’ It is an embarrassment that their news directors deemed it newsworthy to begin with. This network simply cannot be trusted to cover this hugely important story fairly.
But Balan and Bozell overlooked on crucial aspect of the poll -- it sampled only people who viewed Obama's speech. Balan did note that a CNN article "didn’t mention the over-representation of Democrats until the third paragraph," which stated that the poll "surveyed the opinions of people who watched Wednesday night's speech, and does not reflect the views of all Americans."But Balan didn't note this until the 10th and final paragraph of his original post.
It fell on another MRC division to prove Balan and Bozell wrong. A Sept. 11 CNSNews.com article by Pete Winn not only accurately describes the poll's methodology but does so by quoting a conservative pollster, Kellyanne Conway:
But Conway, who has questioned the validity of numerous polls in the past for being slanted against conservatives, said it would be wrong to question the validity of this CNN poll.
“This is a poll of debate-watchers – not the general population,” the pollster said.
In fact, polls like this one are not designed to sample what the American public at large thinks – they are “a random-call measure of who the audience really was – and what those specific people thought,” she told CNSNews.com.
“To their (CNN’s) enormous credit, they reported it that way,” Conway told CNSNews.com.
“They did not say ‘2 out of 3 Americans now support the president on health-care reform,” Conway said. “What (CNN) said, from the beginning, was ‘2 out of 3 Americans who watched the speech said . . .’”
In this case, she said, Wednesday night’s poll talked to more Democrats simply because Obama’s audience itself leaned overwhelmingly Democratic.
In fact, CNN “went the extra mile” to make it clear that the number of those who identified themselves as Democrats was “8 to 10 percentage points higher than the national Democratic sample would be if this were a survey of voters,” Conway said.
“I can bet the farm, there will be pundits and programs and hosts, who will say, ‘According to the CNN poll, the president has really gotten back on track. Two-thirds of Americans now support his health-care. . .’ No-no. They would be misreading the poll and using the poll for their own purposes.
“But in fairness, CNN did not report it that way,” she added.
Winn even quoted a CNN spokesperson to back it up:
“We can’t control who watched the speech, but we found those people using scientific methods,” a CNN executive, who asked not to be identified, said.
The number of Republicans versus Democrats in the sample will vary depending on which party is in office, the spokesman said.
“It goes back and forth, and back and forth depending on which party controls the White House, but we’ve seen this for a really long time,” the spoksman added.
“In 2005, just after the 2005 State of the Union speech, for example, 52 percent of our sample were Republicans – that’s about 16 points higher than the whole public at that time -- and only 25 percent of the speech-watchers were Democrats, and that’s about 7 points under what you might have expected at that time if you had done a sample of the whole population.”
The analogy is to baseball, according to CNN.
“The audience (for a presidential speech) tends to self-select, like a Yankee audience and a Red Sox audience,” the spokesman said. “Red Sox fans don’t watch Yankee games and Yankee fans don’t watch Red Sox games.”
Winn gets extra points for accurately identifying Conway as a conservative pollster, something CNS has failed to do in the past. But he loses points for writing that "some conservatives in Washington were buzzing about the poll’s sample – and questioning whether it might have been partisan or slanted" and not noting that one of those conservatives was his boss.
So, will Winn's story spread across the rest of the MRC empire, or do Balan and Bozell care more about maintaining their fictional liberal-media-bias tunnel vision than they do about the truth?
CNS Flip-Flops on Immigrants and Health Care Reform Topic: CNSNews.com
Is CNSNews.com flip-flopping in its attacks on President Obama over illegal immigrants and health care reform?
In a Sept. 9 article, Fred Lucas claimed that Obama's claim that illegal immigrants will not be covered by health care reform has been "debunked" because "the proposal provides no mechanism for verifying legal status, making it difficult for insurers and medical personal to know who legally qualifies for federal subsidies under the plan."
But a Sept. 10 CNS article by Terry Jeffrey devises an entirely new rationale of why Obama's claim is false:
It is true that both the House and Senate health care bills as they are now drafted would make illegal aliens ineligible for federally funded health care. But President Obama has stated as recently as last month at a press conference in Mexico that he will seek “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation that will put illegal aliens on a “pathway to citizenship.”
Illegal immigrants won’t get federal health insurance benefits under Obama’s plan because they won’t be illegal immigrants anymore, they will be legal immigrants.
Jeffrey has a history of baselessly conflating comprehensive immigration reform with undefined "amnesty."
Jeffrey curiously makes no mention of his reporter's claims just the day before. Perhaps that's because the claim is not as solid as Lucas asserts it to be.
PolitiFact.com looked into the claim that lack of a verification mechanism means that illiegal immigrants will automatically receive health insurance under reform:
But there are two caveats that keep the Republican assertion from being fully accurate.
The first is if the tax credits are administered through the Internal Revenue Service, there would be built-in scrutiny. For instance, if a system were set up for taxpayers to declare insurance expenses and then receive a refund or a rebate, illegal immigrants couldn't obtain coverage, "because illegal immigrants do not have legitimate Social Security numbers," said Marc Rosenblum, a senior policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, a group that is generally pro-immigration. "Screening out illegal immigrants through the tax system would prevent them from obtaining health care-related subsidies."
The second caveat is that language in the House bill does provide clear authority for the new government official who will run the exchange to set up that verification, as the CRS report notes.
Rosenblum concurs. "The Commissioner could enforce these restrictions in one of two ways: through document- and database-based screening requirements as in the Medicaid system, or by reimbursing health care expenses through tax refunds," he said.
Because the House Republican Conference assertion referred to "any" of the Democratic bills, we also looked through the bill reported by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The bill is generally more vague on these issues, but we did find the following passage, which seems to grant similar authority as the House bill passage cited earlier.
"The Secretary (of Health and Human Services), in consultation with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, shall develop interoperable, secure, scalable, and reusable standards and protocols that facilitate enrollment of individuals in Federal and State health and human services programs. ... The Secretary shall facilitate enrollment of individuals in programs ... through methods which shall include (i) electronic matching against existing Federal and State data to serve as evidence of eligibility and digital documentation in lieu of paper-based documentation; (ii) capability for individuals to apply, recertify, and manage eligibility information online, including conducting real-time queries against databases for existing eligibility prior to submitting applications; and (iii) other functionalities necessary to provide eligible individuals with a streamlined enrollment process."
So let's recap. There is explicit language in the House bill that says illegal immigrants should not receive the subsidized benefits. But we find the Republican conference is right that the legislation does not directly mention verification procedures and, for that reason, it's possible that illegal immigrants who are determined to beat the system might be able to get around the ban. But it's likely that the IRS would, at least indirectly, help to police that. And, the health choices commissioner would have the authority to set up a verification system. On balance, we rate the Republican claim Half True.
CNS does not mention that there are verification measures already existing in federal law that health care reform can take advantage of, or that one reform proposal does in fact provide for a verification system.
Walsh kicks off by attacking changes in immigration law in the 1960s, complaining that they "reflected Democrat support for quotas favoring Third World nations, a broadened amnesty concept, and creation of a family unity provision to bring in the old folks, once the young folks get situated." What Walsh doesn't say, of course, is that the immigration law it replaced -- and, presumably, to which Walsh would like to return -- was largely motivated by racism and eugenics.
Walsh then engages in a bizarre smear of those immigrants from "Third World nations":
Family unity remains a tenet of immigration advocates. Many immigrants, including those from China and Hispanic nations, respect and revere their elderly. Traces of ancestor worship still permeate many of the world’s cultures. For example, a recent issue of Architectural Digest featured a home in China with a floor plan designating a separate suite for “the grandparents.”
Walsh again plays fast and loose with the number of alleged illegal immigrants, claiming that there are "12 million to 36 million illegal aliens currently residing in the United States. Splitting the difference, 24 million illegal aliens could be an acceptable number for calculations." But has we've previously noted, most official estimates are around the low end of that spectrum, and Walsh offers no source for his "36 million" estimate.
He also again misleadingly claims that "45 million to 50 million 'Americans' lack proper health insurance. A guestimate is that half the uninsured are non-citizens." But even conservatives who consider that estimate to be inaccurate, like CNSNews.com, claim that the number includes "9.73 million foreigners" -- which includes people here illegally.
Obama's Uncontroversial Speech Doesn't Stop the Crazy Train Topic: The ConWeb
President Obama's speech is over, nothing controversial was in it, but the ConWeb crazytrain rolls on.
Brent Bozell's Sept. 8 column, appearing after the speech, condemned Obama's speech because, well, it was Obama:
Why is this controversial? What is more American than having her president addressing the young? Reagan did it. So did Bush. The problem is Obama and his administration. There is – always is – a political agenda.
The mission was not to educate, it was to indoctrinate.
Bozell went on to conflate criticism of the overreaction of right-wingers like him to Obama's speech to attacks on all criticism of Obama, then denounced the very idea of public education: "It’s not insane to wonder why our schools should be directed by the government to discuss how the Dear Leader is inspiring the young, and how the Dear Leader can be helped."
A Sept. 11 WorldNetDaily column by Dan L. White similarly attacks the idea of public education, claiming that it allows the governmnet to "control the minds of its citizens and thereby centralize power. And that's how Obama was able to give his speech to millions of captive young minds, subservient to the socialist institution, ready to be led by the master – because of the centralized school system." As if homeschooling -- the "decentralized, individualized and maximized" ideal White presents -- isn't about a similar attempt control the minds of children, this time by parents.
Meanwhile, the ConWeb sought to find partisan intent in Obama's speech where there wasn't any. A Sept. 8 WND article was headlined, "Prez injects politics into school speech," but the article pointed out that Obama "stayed carefully in the encouraging mode during the broadcast portion of the speech" but brought up health care reform in "a conversation with students." WND's headline writer is apparently unclear on the difference between a speech and a conversation.
A Sept. 9 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr similarly tried to find something wrong with this, expressing alarm that Obama "made a pitch for health care reform in a discussion with 40 freshmen." It wasn't until the 14th paragraph that Starr got around to mentioning that "Obama omitted any discussion of health care" during the broadcast speech.
In his Sept. 10 WorldNetDaily column, Bob Just writes that "Too many Americans have forgotten America. And so we must stand and remind them." He then adds: "They don't think 'under God' belongs in our Pledge and don't care what history says on the matter."
Well, history says that when Francis Bellamy, a "Christian socialist," wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892, "under God" did not appear; the words were added by an act of Congress in 1954.
We care what history says on this matter. Does Bob Just?
Defying Boycott, MRC Advertises At WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
The Media Research Center has been, as far as we can tell, completely silent on conservative efforts to boycott WorldNetDaily by protesting those conservative groups who enable it through advertising or renting its mailing list. Perhaps that's because it's one of those enablers.
The MRC is currently running ads at WND. This screenshot is from earlier today:
Will the MRC explain to its readers and supporters why it's financially supporting WND in the face of a conservative boycott?
UPDATE: The MRC apparently bought the whole WND ad package. Here's an inline text ad:
We've regularlynoted the guilt-by-association attacks by WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein to draw links, however tangental, between the Obama administration and various and sundry "socialists" and "radicals." He actually cashed in with his attacks on Van Jones -- but only after Glenn Beck started repeating them.
Klein gives it another shot in a Sept. 8 WND article trying to create a grand unification guilt-by-association theory:
Was Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama's closest advisers, introduced to the president's political circles by her father-in-law, a communist sympathizer who worked with the radical Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis?
Kind of a reach there, Aaron. Do you really despise Obama that much?
A Sept. 10 Newsmax article by Rick Pedraza uncriticially repeats Karl Rove's assertion that President Obama made "glaring misstatements and distortions" during his speech to Congress on health care. In fact, Rove made several misstatements and distortions, which Pedraza failed to point out.
“Obama said people are concerned with setting up death panels to kill off senior citizens, but that’s not what they’re concerned about,” Rove told Fox News. “They’re concerned about the proposal that basically says we’re going to incentivize doctors to sit down with [a patient] and go over end-of-life decisions.”
In fact, as Media Matters has detailed, numerous conservative figures falsely suggested that Obama's health reforms would lead to denial of care for elderly.
Rove doesn’t believe the president when he promises the American people that no one will force anyone to give up their coverage.
“The fact of the matter is the proposal –– which was designed in the House of Representatives –– says if you’re a business you can either continue to provide health care to your employees or you can pay a fine equal to 8.5 percent of your payroll costs. Those companies now are paying for healthcare coverage in excess of 8.5 percent. So, they pay the fine, dump the coverage, and you’re in the government program.”
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office found that the House draft will would cover 2 million more Americans through employer based policies in 2019 than are covered now.
Rove disagrees with Obama when he says his plan will not add to the deficit, but notes the Congressional Budget Office has determined it will add to the deficit in the first 10 years.
But Obama didn't say "his plan will not add to the deficit" -- he said he would not sign a bill that added to the deficit.