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Thursday, September 17, 2009
Schlafly Pads Anti-Obama Protest Numbers
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The tea party march down on Pennsylvania Avenue on Sept. 12 was not only impressive in its size (estimates range from 1 million to 2 million Americans) but also because of the messages on the handmade signs they carried. They proved the marchers were authentic grass roots, not astroturf.

-- Phyllis Schlafly, Sept. 16 WorldNetDaily column

Of course, those "estimates" are coming from people who have an interest in padding the numbers.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:17 PM EDT
The Whitewash Continues: WND Downplays Accusations Against Taitz
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We have the answer to our question. WorldNetDaily will report on the accusation that Orly Taitz suborned perjury -- but only in the most perfunctory way possible.

An unbylined Sept. 17 WND article tackles the allegation -- but only after  allowing Taitz to claim without challenge that "doubters should be questioning Obama, not her" and dismissing attacks on Taitz as merely "various accusations" that "have been cluttering the blogosphere in recent weeks."

It's only in the 13th paragraph  -- after the non-news of rehashing yet again the eligibility case against Obama -- that WND actually gets around to the actual news of detailing Larry Sinclair's allegation that Taitz suborned perjury. WND makes sure to note that Sinclair's "allegations that Obama shared cocaine with him were undermined by a reported failed lie detector test" -- a display of incredulousness WND did not show in originally reporting Sinclair's claim in early 2008. WND then quotes Taitz dismissing the claim because "a person cannot just come from the street and file a declaration or an affidavit. ... It has to be filed by a party to the action. Either I, as an attorney for the plaintiffs, or attorney for the defendants, assistant U.S. attorney, would file something."

At no point does WND quote Taitz denying the allegation itself.

Interestingly, WND also reports a similar claim "purportedly" from Lucas Smith , "the individual who has reported obtaining a Kenyan birth certificate for Obama," that Taitz asked him to "lie under oath about information that I had no knowledge of at the time I was in Africa." WND offers no direct refutation of that claim by Taitz, either.

WND then quotes Taitz saying, "There was a rumor that there was some complaint filed with the [California] bar and I was disbarred. None of it is true." While it may not be true that Taitz has been disbarred, it is indisputably true that a complaint against her has been filed in the California bar. WND has yet to report on that complaint, and fails to correct Taitz here (as we've detailed).

The entire article reads like something WND was shamed into writing, built around a Taitz blog post and padded with standard WND anti-Obama boilerplace. WND makes no attempt whatsoever to verify the claims Taitz makes.

As much as WND editor Joseph Farah touts that he's "not afraid of the truth" and how "we consistently break stories they don't dare break," he and WND have shown themselves to be quite afraid of the truth about Taitz. Perhaps that's because WND has quite the little birther factory going -- from which WND is profiting handsomely -- and it doesn't dare break the inconvenient truth of Taitz's incompetence as a lawyer lest it interfere with lining Farah's pockets.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:59 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2009 12:03 PM EDT
Stanek Turns Pro-Life Shooting Victim Into Martyr
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jill Stanek's Sept. 16 WorldNetDaily column plays up the shooting death of Jim Pouillon, a Michigan anti-abortion protester killed along with another man who was not an anti-abortion activist. Stanek starts off by downplaying the killings of eight abortion doctors and workers by anti-abortion zealots, claiming they were "aborted" rather than murdered. Stanek takes a stunningly dismissive attitude toward them, as if condoning their murders:

Harlan Drake allegedly killed another man the same morning he killed Jim for a totally unrelated reason, they say, as if to dilute the magnitude of Jim's murder.

Oh yeah, we say, and what about Eric Rudolph, who not only killed two abortion workers in a Birmingham clinic firebombing but also planted bombs at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta and the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian bar?

Blah, blah, blah. It will never end.

But Stanek is much more interested in creating martyrdom for Poullion: "I hope Jim's family sees it that way – more jewels in a dazzling crown as he assumes a place of prominence in heaven with the other martyrs." She repeats claims that he was "a selfless, soft-spoken, kind-hearted man" and that he "needed a portable oxygen tank and leg braces" to carry out his activism, going on to call Poullion "he sort of person the other side likes to pick off" -- even though there's no evidence that his alleged killer was involved in the pro-choice movement.

Stanek might want to hold back a bit on granting Poullion sainthood. Criticism of  Poullion's methods has come from an unlikely source -- the right-wing, Davbid Horowitz-operated Newsreal blog, where David Forsmark writes:

Jim Pouillon is a poor choice for a cause to choose as a martyr, both because of who he was—and the stubborn things called facts about the nature of the crime spree that claimed his life.

Jim Pouillon was a dark, and deeply disturbed man.  Any dealings I had with him were extremely unpleasant as he tried to force his way into campaigns I was working for.  When I denied him access to my candidates, he threatened to picket them– even though they were pro-life– until they sat down with him.  So much for principle.  Whether the problems were caused by a physical problem, a mental imbalance, or just his own personal demons, I won’t attempt to diagnose.

Pouillon was known for shouting vile things while carrying his signs—and not just at adults.  He picketed a Catholic school in Owosso, yelling at students that there were “whores” inside.  He was known for directly shouting to or at children who were entering places he was picketing.

Sources I trust implicitly tell me Pouillon taunted a pro-choice candidate’s pre-teen son about having discovered the body of his mother who had committed suicide a few years before. Pouillon didn’t deserve to be shot and killed, but that should have warranted a good thrashing– at the very least.

In short, Pouillon did a lot more than just carry his signs around.

However, it is understandable that there is a little bit of martyr envy from the beleaguered pro-life side, after seeing their most fervent opponents lionized by the media, despite glaring moral faults.

Jim Pouillon didn’t drive his Oldsmobile off a bridge and deliberately leave a friend to die.

Nor was he the nation’s foremost profiteer of legal infanticide.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

However, Jim Pouillon did not create jobs in his community, either.

Regardless of the pros and cons of Jim Pouillon, the pro-life “leaders” in their rush to use Pouillon’s death to their advantage, cheapen life and betray their cause by treating Mike Fuoss’s life as meaningless– an inconvenient truth that gets in the way of a good story, that as such, must be ignored.

We must be better than this – and truer to our principles.  When pro-lifers assign more value to one life than another, it’s a betrayal of our most sacred prinicple.  It’s uncomfortably close to what the abortionist does.

Indeed, Stanek gives short shrift to that other victim, claiming he was killed "for a totally unrelated reason, they say, as if to dilute the magnitude of Jim's murder."

Not only has Stanek put the value of Jim Poullion's life above those her fellow anti-abortion activists have killed, she put it above that of another person killed by the same man on the same day, just because he wasn't an anti-abortion activist.

There's something deeply disturbing in that. Too bad Stanek doesn't think so.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:16 AM EDT
WND Promotes Discredited IBD Poll
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 16 WorldNetDaily audio interview by Radio America's Greg Corombos of Investor's Business Daily associate editor Terry Jones touts the "major findings" of a new IBD poll claiming that "Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington."

Corombos failed to mention the fact that, as we've noted, poll analyst Nate Silver has detailed the reasons why the poll is not credible: lack of disclosed methodology, biased questions, dubious conducting of the survey, incomplete results, and general incompetence on the part of IBD's pollster.

If WND editor Joseph Farah is going to demand that anyone who writes about WND contact him for a rebuttal, shouldn't his reporters also be obtaining more than one side of the story before their reports are published?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:59 AM EDT
Taitz Accused of Suborning Perjury: Will WND Report?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily uncritically promoted Larry Sinclair's claims that he did drugs and had sex with Barack Obama. Will it do the same for Sinclair's latest blockbuster allegation?

Probably not, since it involves WND's favorite sacred cow, Orly Taitz.

David Weigel details how Sinclair has filed an affidavit claiming that Taitz told him to testify at a court hearing "that three (3) member (sic) of Obama’s church were murder (sic)," adding that Taitz told him that "You testifying that three (3) members of Obama’s church were murdered will help me establish that expedited delivery is necessary because people wind up dead over Obama."

Sinclair's affidavit also contains references to "Lucas," whom Weigel says is Lucas Smith, who -- through Taitz -- filed an affidavit WND has been touting swearing that a "Kenyan birth certificate" Smith claims to have is authentic, despite the fact that it has been discredited by none other that WND itself.

If WND is willing to pretend that Smith's "Kenyan birth certificate" is real because there's an affidavit claiming it is -- as we've noted, references to the certificate being discredited in WND articles are increasingly buried when the fact that Taitz is filing discredited documents in court is the real news -- will it also accept Sinclair's allegations against Taitz as true because he filed an affidavit? After all, WND still considers Sinclair to be credible, as far as we know; to this day, it hasnever bothered to verify his Obama-related allegations, and WND has never retracted his articles, which it proudly admitted was "sleaze." (Oh, and he filed court papers, too.)

Or will WND disappear it, just like every other bit of negative information about Taitz?

UPDATE: WND surprisingly does an article -- which buries the lead and demands that people not attack Taitz, but offers no denial of Sinclair's claim. We examine it here.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:20 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 17, 2009 12:03 PM EDT
NewsBuster Won't Criticize Fellow NewsBusters for Touting Inflated Protest Numbers
Topic: NewsBusters

In a September 15 NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor complains that an MSNBC report on inflated attendance figures for the anti-Obama 9/12 protest "focused on an old photograph that had been circulating on some minor conservative blogs showing a huge crowd for the Sept. 12 march."

But as County Fair's Jamison Foser points out, the promotion of inflated protest attendance figures  was not limited to "minor conservative blogs" -- NewsBusters' very own Matthew Sheffield and Tom Blumer promoted them as well. Unsurprisingly, Poor is giving his fellow NewsBusters a pass.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:20 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Baseless 9/12 Protest Attendance Number of the Day
Topic: Horowitz

Estimates vary, as they always do, as to how large the crowds were, but the general consensus seems to have settled at one million, and possibly as high as two million.

-- Tim and Alissa Birkel, Sept. 15 Newsreal post

What is this "consensus" the Birkels are referring to? We have no idea.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:10 PM EDT
NewsBusters Touts Discredited IBD Poll
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 16 NewsBusters post by Rich Noyes touts a "new Investor’s Business Daily poll of more than 1,300 physicians" finding that "nearly two-thirds (65%) don’t back ObamaCare, more than 70% say the government cannot provide insurance coverage for 47 million additional people and save money without harming quality, and 45% of doctors say they 'would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement' if the liberal health care plan passes."

But while Noyes takes National Public Radio to task for citing a poll "funded by a pro-ObamaCare group," he was silent about the methodology or any other relevant information about the IBD poll.

As Nate Silver details: (H/t County Fair):

[T]he Investors' Business Daily poll purporting to show widespread opposition to health care reform among doctors is simply not credible. There are five reasons why:

1. The survey was conducted by mail, which is unusual. The only other mail-based poll that I'm aware of is that conducted by the Columbus Dispatch, which was associated with an average error of about 7 percentage points -- the highest of any pollster that we tested.

2. At least one of the questions is blatantly biased: "Do you believe the government can cover 47 million more people and it will cost less money and th quality of care will be better?". Holy run-on-sentence, Batman? A pollster who asks a question like this one is not intending to be objective.

3. As we learned during the Presidntial campaign -- when, among other things, they had John McCain winning the youth vote 74-22 -- the IBD/TIPP polling operation has literally no idea what they're doing. I mean, literally none. For example, I don't trust IBD/TIPP to have competently selected anything resembling a random panel, which is harder to do than you'd think.

4. They say, somewhat ambiguously: "Responses are still coming in." This is also highly unorthodox. Professional pollsters generally do not report results before the survey period is compete.

5. There is virtually no disclosure about methodology. For example, IBD doesn't bother to define the term "practicing physician", which could mean almost anything. Nor do they explain how their randomization procedure worked, provide the entire question battery, or anything like that.

My advice would be to completely ignore this poll. There are pollsters out there that have an agenda but are highly competent, and there are pollsters that are nonpartisan but not particularly skilled. Rarely, however, do you find the whole package: that special pollster which is both biased and inept. IBD/TIPP is one of the few exceptions. 

Don't expect Noyes to tell his readers about this.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:35 PM EDT
WND Orly Taitz Whitewash Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

What doesn't Bob Unruh report in his Sept. 15 WorldNetDaily article on a case "being handled by attorney Orly Taitz" on Barack Obama's "eligibility under the Constitution's demand for a 'natural born citizen' in the White House"?

He writes that Taitz "joined by Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation," but he doesn't point out that Kreep did so because two of the people Taitz was representing dropped her as a lawyer and sought representation from Kreep because they believed Taitz is "in over her head."

He didn't report that one of those plaintiffs, Wiley Drake, has prayed for Obama's death.

He didn't report that Taitz has refused to sign the change-of-attorney form that would officially let Drake and his fellow plaintiff to change their lawyer from Taitz to Kreep, then filed a motion to dismiss them as plaintiffs, then started bickering with Kreep.

He didn't report whether Taitz, in filing a "Kenyan birth certificate" for Obama that its provider, "under threat of perjury," claims is "the genuine article," also filed evidence reported by WND that the document is a fraud.

He didn't report until the 34th paragraph that WND found the document to be a fraud.

He didn't reporton the possible legal jeopardy Taitz faces for knowingly filing fraudulent documents in court while failing to file known evidence that they are fraudulent.

In other words, the whitewash continues -- WND will not tell the truth about Orly Taitz.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:11 PM EDT
Did WND Get Punk'd on ACORN Attack?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The lead story on WorldNetDaily right now is a Sept. 15 article by Alyssa Farah detailing out "An ACORN worker in San Bernardino, Calif., says she built the groundwork for a case of self-defense, then picked up a gun and shot her former husband," according to "a new video released on Andrew Breitbart's website."

Unmentioned is the fact that ACORN appears to be pulling a funny on the videographers, who have been on a spree of entrapping ACORN workers while posing as a pimp and prostitute seeking money to fund a prostitution operation.

As an ACORN press release details:

When the actors approached Ms. Kaelke with their provocative costuming and outlandish scenario, she could nottake them seriously. So she met their outrageousness with her own personal style of outrageousness. Shematched their false scenario with her own false scenarios.

"They were not believable", said Ms. Kaelke of the two actors. "Somewhat entertaining, but they weren't evengood actors. I didn't know what to make of them. They were clearly playing with me. I decided to shock them asmuch as they were shocking me. Like Stephan Colbert does – saying the most outrageous things with a straightface." While her sense of humor might not be funny to many people, the fact is that she spun false scenario afterfalse scenario and the videographer ate them up.

For example, in response to the set-up by the filmmakers in which they say they are trying get the young womanaway from her abusive pimp, she responds that she was abused by her former husband as well (true) and that sheshot and killed him (false). He is very much alive and living near Barstow, CA.

However, this is taken as the gospel truth, not just in the film itself, but also by several "news" personalities,indicating that no journalistic standards were applied to making the video or vetting it for broadcast.

It appears WND did no such fact-checking either.

ACORN goes on to point out that edited the video placed on its website to delete exculpatory claims made by ACORN workers. WND makes no mention of that, either, let alone demand that release the unedited video.

Further, at no point does Farah indicate that she contacted ACORN for a response to her story -- even though her father, WND editor Joseph Farah, regularly complains that news organizations that write articles about WND don't contact him for rebuttal.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:35 AM EDT
New Article: The ConWeb's Obama Speech Freak-Out
Topic: The ConWeb
Putting hatred before the facts, ConWeb writers baselessly assumed that President Obama would indoctrinate students -- despite the fact that the speech's theme of encouragement was made clear from the beginning. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 AM EDT
MRC Analysis of Protest Coverage Curiously Incomplete
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Rich Noyes has issued a "report card" of how major media outlets covered the 9/12 anti-Obama protests. But Noyes' analysis is curiously incomplete.

For instance, Noyes noted the performance of only one newspaper, the New York Times, which "buried the protests on page A37 of Sunday’s paper." Noyes didn't mention what the Washington Post did -- perhaps because it broke the MRC's liberal-bias template by putting the protest on the front page. (Not that fellow MRC employee Tim Graham was satisfied with it, of course.)

Noyes didn't do any relevent comparison, complaining only that the Times' "932-word story [on the protest] was only slightly longer than the 724-word story the paper granted back in March to an ACORN protest with only 40 participants." But that protest was in the New York metro area and thus more directly relevant to its core readers than a larger protest outside of NYC.

A more direct comparison would to a similarly sized 2002 anti-war protest. As Media Matters noted, while the Times published a photo of the anti-Obama protest in its front page -- something Noyes failed to mention -- it did not do so for the anti-war protest; the articles for both protests were inside the A section.

Noyes also downplayed the extent to which Fox News fawned over the protest. He wrote: "By far, Fox News offered the most detailed coverage, with a two-hour midday program on Saturday plus regular updates throughout the day, and FNC stuck to presenting the protesters’ point of view, not denigrating them."

Noyes fails to note that Fox News did a lot more than present the protesters' point of view -- it promoted the bejeezus out of the protest, to the point where it was an essentially an unofficial sponsor. That's some serious straying over the line from news into advocacy, but it earned Fox News an "A" for coverage from Noyes.

Hiliariously, Noyes downgraded Fox News' rating on tone of coverage to an"A-" apparently for a single comment by Geraldo Rivera that Noyes called a "sour note." After all, balanced coverage of conservatives is not what Noyes and and his MRC buddies want -- nothing less than completely positive, sycophantic coverage will do.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:04 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Topic: NewsBusters
Jamison Foser appropriately calls "the dumbest media-bias claim of the day" Tim Graham's NewsBusters post complaining that the Washington Post's obit on Patrick Swayze mentioned his "drag-queen turn" in "Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" before his role in "Red Dawn," "a movie about American teens fighting a resistance against a Soviet invasion of the United States." Graham goes on to huff: "There are clearly no fortysomething Reaganites working in the Washington Post newsroom."

Posted by Terry K. at 5:13 PM EDT
WND, CNS Still Can't Get It Right on Crowd Estimates
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Two ConWeb agencies that have published inflated attendance figures for Saturday's anti-Obama tea party protest take another stab at it.

WorldNetDaily -- which previously treated unverified inflated numbers as real -- follows up with a Sept. 14 article by Chelsea Schilling that is little more than a compilation of various claims about attendance without any further investigation into them, or making it clear that the higher numbers are all provided by groups involved in the protest who have an interest in promoting the higher figures.

Schilling wrote that FreedomWorks "is still working on trying to get an estimate," but failed to note that a false claim that ABC had reported that more than 1 million were at the protest was traced to FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe., meanwhile, sent its previous repeating of discredited FreedomWorks numbers down the memory hole for a Sept. 15 article by Penny Starr stating that the attendance figure "is a matter of media speculation because no government agency makes official estimates of crowd sizes for such events." Much of Starr's article is devoted not to examining the protest numbers -- or pointing out that FreedomWorks got it wront -- but to examining crowd estimates for President Obama's inauguration.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:15 PM EDT
Newsweek Offends Geller By Telling Both Sides of The Story
Topic: Newsmax

Pamela Geller's Sept. 14 Newsmax column is one long screed against Newsweek for doing what Geller won't -- tell both sides of the Rifqa Bary story.

Geller complained that the Newsweek article stated that "Muslim scholars say that in Islam, there’s no such thing as an honor killing for apostasy," asserting that "Newsweek was conflating two distinct Islamic practices: honor killing and the killing of apostates." She doesn't mention that it appears that Bary -- who claims her Muslim parants want to kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity -- is the one conflating the two, as news reports featuring references to "honor killings" indicate. As Richard Bartholomew notes:

The girl gives a rather strange interpretation of what an “honour killing” is for; rather than being the remedy for a perceived dishonour suffered by a family, she tells the journalist that to kill her would be an especially ”great honour” because she is the the first Christian in her family for “150 generations” and it would show her family’s love for Allah (Lorenz concurs with a “yes” at 5:03). This seems to me to be a garbled “Christianized” understanding of the phenomenon, making it into something like a human sacrifice.

Geller has conflated the two as well.

Geller goes on to complain that Newsweek described a "33-page memorandum that Rifqa’s attorney, John Stemberger, filed about the Noor Islamic Center’s connection with Islamic terrorists and radical elements" as being filled with "innuendo and provocative allegations." In fact, Newsweek supports its claims:

Among them: that the center is connected to an FBI terror probe (which the FBI denies) and that its CEO has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood (which, along with every other allegation, the Noor Center denies). The mosque is actually regarded as mainstream and regularly hosts interfaith events.

Has Geller ever reported that the FBI has discredited this report? We suspect not.

Geller's sole source for contradicting the Newsweek article is "Jamal Jivanjee, Rifqa’s friend and confidante." But Geller offers no independent confirmation of these claims; Jivanjee is clearly too close to the situation to be objective. Indeed, Geller has been a mouthpiece for Rifqa and her supporters, taking all of their claims atfact value while making no apparent effort to independently verify them.

Why is Geller so afraid of the other side being told? That she is so intent on trying to discredit an article that commits the apostasy (as far as Geller is concerned) of telling both sides of the story belies a certain insecurity about the side of the story she's on.

Geller declares of Rifqa: "As a high-profile apostate, she is Islamists’ highest value target right now." If she's "high-profile," it's anti-Muslim activists like Geller that made her one. Which means she's partially culpable for any harm that comes Rifqa's way.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:25 AM EDT

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