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Thursday, November 5, 2009
CNS Puts 'Public Option' in Scare Quotes

A Nov. 5 article by Fred Lucas makes an interesting editorial decision by referencing "the government-run plan, which Democrats call 'the public option.'"

Yes, Lucas is putting scare quotes around "public option" (much like WorldNetDaily does with the word "gay"). And he fails to explain that "government-run" to describe the public option is phraseology that Republican pollster Frank Luntz urges Republicans to use as a way to fight reform.

Further, Lucas' misleads on the level of support New York 23rd District special election winner Bill Owens, a Democrat, has for health care reform. The headline of Lucas' article states, "N.Y. Democrat Wins House Seat on Opposition to Democrats' 'Public Option'."

The article itself is slightly more ambiguous, stating that "Owens at best has hedged on whether he supports a government-run health insurance plan" and quoting a New York Observer article claiming that Owens "does not support a public option available to anyone."

In fact, Owens' position appears to have evolved on the public option; as Media Matters noted, in October Owens said the public option in the Democratic reform bill was "reasonable."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:20 PM EST
Newsmax Unable to Spin Kerik Plea Deal
Topic: Newsmax

What's this -- an original Newsmax article reporting on Bernard Kerik without injecting its slobbering pro-Kerik bias into it?

That's right. A Nov. 4 Newsmax article by Jim Meyers states that "is expected to accept a plea bargain agreement on federal corruption charges that would put him behind bars for at least 27 months, according to published reports."

It is rather difficult to put a positive spin on that. And Meyers isn't as honest as he should have been, failing to note that Kerik is a Newsmax columnist or that Newsmax has been running a months-long rehabilitation campaign on his behalf. Meyers also doesn't note, as the New York Post did, that his prison time under the reported plea bargain is "more than double the time he would have faced if he'd done the same thing two years ago."

UPDATE: Remember what Newsmax said about Kerik in its fawning magazine profile just two months ago -- portraying him as the innocent victim of "overzealous federal prosecutors" who is "fighting for his innocence with a criminal guillotine hanging over his head."

Oh, and the Kerik Legal Trust website returns a message in your browser header that reads, "SITE DOWN."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:36 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, November 8, 2009 10:13 PM EST
MRC Ignores Holes in Anti-Abortion Convert's Story
Topic: Media Research Center

A Nov. 2 MRC Culture & Media Institute article by Carolyn Plocher claims that the media is ignoring the story of Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood official in Texas who resigned her post after, she claims, watching an ultrasound of an abortion procedure. But Plocher is ignoring a few things too -- like questions about the veracity of her story.

As Amanda Marcotte at Double X writes:

Johnson seems to be selling a story that's a tad too pat, too close to what anti-choicers want to hear.


Johnson worked at a clinic that provides abortion, amongst other things. Therefore, she's probably seen a whole lot of ultrasound-enabled abortions. Providing ultrasound is standard part of an abortion, because gestational age determines the exact procedure, and whether or not the clinic can even do it. Anyone who has worked in or even spoken to someone about working in a clinic knows that there's not a lot of mystery around the procedure, and so Johnson's story of a sudden revelation about the nature of abortion simply doesn't seem possible. Indeed, I should remind you that 99.9 percent of clinic workers who see ultrasounds and provide abortions don't have sudden, suspicious religious conversions. Most of them feel pretty damn good about giving women the freedom to choose.

Plocher also writes about the restraining order Planned Parenthood is seeking against Johnson and the Coalition for Life, the anti-abortion group she's affiliated with now: "What could the organization possibly have to hide? Maybe racists trying to kill black babies or employees advising girls to deny statutory rape." In fact, reports:

A copy of Planned Parenthood's petition for the restraining order obtained by Salon suggests it might not be as simple as these commentators claim. The document says that Johnson was put on a performance improvement plan on Oct. 2 of this year. That same day, she was allegedly seen "removing items from the Health Center." Days later, Johnson was allegedly seen copying "confidential files." Some time later, a physician from another city who occasionally works for Planned Parenthood's Bryan clinic reported that a protester from 40 Days for Life, a campaign that aims for a constant, around-the-clock presence in front of targeted clinics and is also linked to Coalition for Life, said that they "knew that the physician worked for [Planned Parenthood] in Bryan."

The petition additionally claims that Johnson told a nurse practitioner who works for Planned Parenthood that she had passed along the provider's résumé, home address and phone number to Coalition for Life. Johnson also reportedly told a clinic employee that "something big" was going to take place this past weekend during the finale of the organization's latest 40-day protest, although the big something apparently never materialized. 

There's a lot more going on here than Plocher reports. So what does Plocher have to hide?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:27 AM EST
NewsBusters Offended That Newspaper Covers Local News
Topic: NewsBusters

Matthew Sheffield notes in a Nov. 4 NewsBusters post that the Los Angeles Times was "downplaying two Republican gubernatorial victories (state-wide) and playing up two House races won by Democrats," adding, "Sometimes spotting liberal bias is like shooting fish in a barrel."

One of those races was in California. Los Angeles is in California. So, basically, Sheffield is criticizing the Los Angeles Times for covering local news.

That's "liberal bias"?

Posted by Terry K. at 6:50 AM EST
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Meanwhile ...
Topic: Media Research Center
Media Matters' Simon Maloy points out that the Media Research Center's press release giving "The 'Dewey Defeats Truman Awards' for the Most Incompetent Political Reporting of This Year's Election" to various "journalists who insisted that the only recipe for Republican success was to run away from the conservative agenda" in the New York 23rd District congressional race would have made more sense had the conservative candidate actually won.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:57 PM EST
New Article: The MRC's Deceptive Defense of Limbaugh
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center blurs the line between apparently false racially charged statements attributed to Rush Limbaugh and undeniably true ones to falsely suggest that Limbaugh has never made any such statements. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:38 PM EST
NewsBusters Complains CNN Cites Liberal Group's Numbers -- But Doesn't Challenge Them
Topic: NewsBusters

A Nov. 3 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan complains that CNN's Rick Sanchez "cited the National Priorities Project’s figures" on the amount of money the U.S. has spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, "but did not mention their left-wing ideology."

But Balan did not challenge the National Priorities Project’s figures. So if its numbers are accurate -- as Balan suggests by his silence on the issue -- why does the group's political leanings matter?

Posted by Terry K. at 10:57 AM EST
WND Solicits for Legal Defense Fund -- But Won't Come Clean About Book
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Nov. 3 WorldNetDaily article by David Kupelian is a solicitation for WND's legal defense fund regarding claims over its CAIR-bashing "Muslim Mafia" book. But Kupelian has not been forthcoming about it, which should give pause to any potential donor.

"Muslim Mafia" is built around interns working undercover and CAIR and stealing documents. Kupelian writes:

Although CAIR contends Chris Gaubatz stole the documents, WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah has previously explained in a letter to Congress that the CAIR material was legally obtained by the young investigator, who had been asked by CAIR officials "to shred documents he believed might be criminal evidence … and involve matters of national security."

"On advice from counsel, he collected those documents and preserved them. None of the documents were 'stolen,'" Farah said. "They were, in fact, handed to him by CAIR employees for destruction. All of the documents are available for review by appropriate law-enforcement authorities and, in fact, some have already been provided to them."

Farah concluded by saying Gaubatz's "patriotic activities within CAIR, an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator, were done on advice of counsel at every step, and were in accordance with District of Columbia and Virginia state law."

But WND thus far has not named the attorneys who advised it regarding "Muslim Mafia,' nor has it publicly detailed the legal precedents upon which WND's claim that the documents are not stolen rests.

There are other things going on behind the scenes as well that Kupelian has thus far failed to disclose. A Nov. 2 WND article by Art Moore reveals that another organization funded the "research" that resulted in "Muslim Mafia":

[Co-author] Dave Gaubatz told WND the "research project pertaining to CAIR was conducted in a professional and legal manner."

He said it was "funded by a high profile U.S. organization with very close ties to senior law enforcement and U.S. government officials."

Gaubatz said he cannot name the group now, but noted it is not SANE, the Society of Americans for National Existence, as widely believed.

"This organization is very professional, and every step of the research was coordinated with their legal team and senior personnel," he said. "From the very onset of the research, our researchers observed intelligence in CAIR documents which appeared to be national security concerns."

Moore, bizarrely, doesn't ask his boss, Joseph Farah, about this mysterious funder, even though he, as the publisher of the book, must know who it is. Such is the self-serving nature of reporting on yourself. Moore also doesn't admit the obvious: This is all a promotional strategy for the book.

There's another hole in the case that's not being publicly addressed. Moore writes:

CAIR claims that as "David Marshall," Chris Gaubatz signed a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement in which he agreed he would not divulge to others any trade secrets, confidential information or other proprietary data. Politico reported, however, CAIR officials say they can't find the agreement Gaubatz allegedly signed.

But at no point has Chris Gaubatz denied signing a confidentiality agreement. And given the clandestine nature of the operation, one can easily speculate that Gaubatz, in his document-stealing frenzy, made the confidentiality agreement he signed disappear somehow. Moore curiously didn't pursue that.

People should refrain from donating to WND's legal defense fund until they know who funded the undercover operation that resulted in the book -- and whether they will be contributing to legal defense efforts as well. 

They should also refrain from donating until they are aware of all the facts in the case. Precedent calls for such prudence.

WND similarly solicited legal defense donations regarding the libel lawsuit filed against it by Clark Jones, a Tennessee car dealer and supporter of Al Gore, regarding articles WND published before the 2000 presidential election that made claims about him he asserted were false. WND fought the lawsuit for seven years, even though -- as we detailed -- WND made no effort to fact-check the articles before publishing them. (They were written by outside writers, not WND employees, and were purchased from the authors for publication.)

Then, shortly before the case was to go to trial in March 2008, WND abruptly settled the lawsuit, in part by admitting that "no witness verifies the truth of what the witnesses are reported by authors to have stated. Additionally, no document has been discovered that provides any verification that the statements written were true." WND also stated: "Discovery has also revealed that the sources named in the publications have stated under oath that statements attributed to them in the articles were either not made by them, were misquoted by the authors, were misconstrued, or the statements were taken out of context."

WND admitted publishing false claims about Jones, something it could have avoided by fact-checking before publication instead of years after the fact. This means WND has a history of failing to perform due diligence, resulting in serious financial and reputational costs to the organization.

WND has never provided a public explanation of why it fought Jones' lawsuit for seven years -- using defense fund money to do so -- when it knew or should have known he was right all along.

Such lack of accountability should be a red flag to any potential contributor to WND's legal defense fund.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:16 AM EST
Massie Invokes Obama-Antichrist Attack
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Mychal Massie's Nov. 3 WorldNetDaily column is one long, hateful, thesaurus-looting screed against President Obama, set off by his midnight visit to Dover Air Force Base to honor fallen troops returning from Afghanistan. Massie is too hateful to see it that way:

Offended and outraged by his display, I wanted to tell him that while America's enemies may view him as pusillanimous or as the equivalent of that which a jester's liripipes factually represent (i.e., two ears and a tail) – I viewed him as a cheap pettifogger who feigns qualities that conceal his true incertitude. I wanted to tell him that he was reducing the office, which should have been his ne plus ultra for good – to a sinister darkness that rivaled Erebus himself.

"Erebusic" is one of Massie's favorite five-dollar words. He later uses the word "contumacious."

Massie also claimed that "Other presidents have performed said act in private without cameras and/or reporters," which is not true, since the previous president did not go to Dover.

Massie's sputtering rage is so great that he resorts to one of his employer's favorite smears, linking Obama to the Antichrist:

I would also remind him that there is "One" greater than he and the agenda he shares in compliance with his handlers. And the faith of us believers persuades us that he is but the penultimate ephemera preparatory to the zeitgeist that must exist prior to the unveiling of the ultimate evil. In the final analysis, he is potentially the next to the end before that which our Scriptures call the Tribulation Period begins – either way, as an ephemera he is a matter of no lasting significance.

Too bad Massie is too busy thumbing through his thesaurus to make his anger coherent.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:35 AM EST
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Newsmax Goes Back to the Vadum Well
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax teed up its election coverage of the New Jersey governor's race -- as it did during the Minnesota Senate recount -- by having Matthew Vadum make vague, baseless accusations. From a Nov. 3 article by David Patten:

"There has been a reported surge in absentee balloting, which might be suspicious but isn't necessarily proof of anything," Vadum tells Newsmax.


"There has been a reported surge in absentee balloting, which might be suspicious but isn't necessarily proof of anything," Vadum tells Newsmax.

Vadum and his Capital Research Center have a long record of making false and misleading attacks.But they're misleading falsehoods that favor Newsmax's bias, so that appears to be OK with Patten.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:56 PM EST
Topic: Washington Examiner
Media Matters catches the Washington Examiner embracing misleading math in attacking the amount of money spent per job created under the stimulus package. The Examiner's claim of $230,000 spent per job saved or created ignores the value of the work produced and other ancillary jobs created as a result.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:42 PM EST
Newsmax Kills Pat Boone's 'Tenting' Column; Will WND?
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax has now completely removed Pat Boone's "tenting" column, in which he called for, "figuratively, but in a very real way," a fumigation, or "tenting," of the "varmints" in the Obama White House. This comes after Newsmax took the half-measure of removing links to the column from its website but keeping the column itself live. Newsmax has thus far not explained to its readers why it deleted Boone's column, which it similarly failed to do regarding the John L. Perry column advocating a military coup against Obama.

Meanwhile, Boone's column is still alive and kicking at WorldNetDaily. But given that WND writers have repeatedly likened President Obama to both Nazis and the Antichrist (and even defends such smears) -- not to mention restored an attack by Ann Coulter on Helen Thomas that Coulter's syndicators edited out -- Joseph Farah and Co. likely see nothing wrong with Boone's eliminationist rhetoric.

Perhaps Farah might want to explain why he allows Boone's column to remain on his website when his fellow right-wingers have determined it to be too offensive.

UPDATE: Media Matters has a copy of the now-deleted Boone column from Newsmax.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:20 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 4:37 PM EST
CNS Auditioning Another Dubious Story
Topic: is auditioning another story: the idea that requiring Americans to have health insurance is unconstitutional.

A Nov. 2 CNS article features an interview by CNS editor in chief Terry Jeffrey of Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who asserts that such a provision is not "constitutionally justifiable." Another Nov. 2 article, by Fred Lucas attacked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for having "dismissed concerns that the Constitution does not give the federal government the power to force individuals to purchase items the government wants them to purchase."

While the Lucas article notes that the Congressional Research Service " did not arrive at a definitive answer" on the issue, completely missing from these articles is the view of legal experts who aren't conservative -- or, more to the point, legal experts who disagree with CNS' predetermined conclusion.

As Media Matters notes, University of California-Irvine law professor Erwin Chemerinsky stated, "Under an unbroken line of precedents stretching back 70 years, Congress has the power to regulate activities that, taken cumulatively, have a substantial effect on interstate commerce." And Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar and Fordham Law School dean William Treanor debunked conservatives' argument that the individual mandate could be considered a "taking" in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:58 AM EST
Farah Downplays Swine Flu, Fearmongers About Vaccine
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah spends his Nov. 2 WorldNetDaily column alternately downplaying fears about H1N1 flu and spreading fears about the H1N1 vaccine. Farah begins with the downplaying:

U.S. deaths have surpassed 1,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Nearly 5,000 have died worldwide, according to WHO.

That sounds bad.

But is it worth the hysteria?

What is it about these deaths that have government health bureaucracies apoplectic?

Is it time for a little context?

What happens when we turn to the same sources to compare deaths due to swine flu with other leading causes of preventable deaths?

Worldwide, nearly 3,000 people die from malaria every day.

Worldwide, nearly 6,000 people die from AIDS every day.

Farah doesn't acknowledge the main differences: Unlike malaria, swine flu is not confined to Third World countries, and AIDS, unlike swine flu, is not an airborne disease.

Farah then writes that "malaria could be eradicated much easier and more economically. But the most effective weapon in the arsenal against malaria, DDT, has been banned in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world, even though it saved the lives of tens of millions, because of pseudo-scientific hysteria about alleged, unproven environmental effects."

In fact, contrary to Farah's claims that DDT's effects on the environment are "unproven," it has been found to cause cancer, endocrine disruption and adversely affect the immune system (though some studies claim otherwise).

Now, on to the fearmongering:

While no one disputes DDT's absolute effectiveness against malaria, there are no studies that prove the H1N1 vaccine actually prevents swine flu. In addition, many doctors consider it to be dangerous because it contains aluminum, a toxic metal, thimerosal, a mercury toxin and is believed to contain a squalene product that can injure the immune system.

In other words, the swine flu vaccine may not prevent people from getting the swine flu and it may well cause other problems more serious than the swine flu. The cure could well be worse than the disease.

First, some flu vaccines do not contain thimerosal. Second, as the CDC states:

Since 2001, no new vaccine licensed by FDA for use in children has contained thimerosal as a preservative and all vaccines routinely recommended by CDC for children under six years of age have been thimerosal-free, or contain only trace amounts, except for some formulations of influenza vaccine.  Unfortunately, we have not seen reductions in the numbers of children identified with autism indicating that the cause of autism is not related to a single exposure such as thimerosal. 

But that's not good enough for Farah:

I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to make medical decisions.

I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to make rational public health decisions.

I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to play doctor or, worse yet, play God.

I don't know about you, but I don't trust the government to make decisions that affect the lives and the health of my loved ones.

Does Farah think he's more trustworthy than the government on life-and-death decisions? Given WND's fearmongering about swine flu vaccine, we'll take our chances elsewhere.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:05 AM EST
Hostetter Misleads on Self-Identifying Conservatives
Topic: Newsmax

In a column published Oct. 28 at Newsmax and Oct. 30 at Accuracy in Media, Ralph Hostetter writes: "With conservatives at 40 percent and moderates at 36 percent, slightly more than three-quarters of the nation in total identify themselves as an electorate that has made a major move to the right, leaving liberals at 20 percent of the voting public."

But as we've previously noted, research also shows that a significant number of people who self-identify as "conservatives" don't necessarily hold conservative beliefs.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:01 AM EST

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