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Friday, April 29, 2011
NewsBusters Falsely Claims Fox News Didn't Promote Birther Claims
Topic: NewsBusters

Writing in an April 28 NewsBusters post about an examination of birther coverage on cable news, Lachlan Markay writes that "Of course even Fox News did its part to debunk the birther nonsense," adding, "The channel's hosts of course played no part in the conspiracy theory."

Media Matters points out that, in reality, numerous Fox News and Fox Business hosts pushed the heck out of that "birther nonsense."

And as Media Matters also notes, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism's examination of birther coverage that Markay takes refuge in examines only prime-time evening shows on the cable networks, not daytime shows where Fox in particular pushed birther claims. Further, in the vast majority of Fox News items on the birther issue, false claims were not challenged or corrected.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:15 PM EDT
WND Moves The Birther Goalposts To ... Adoption!
Topic: WorldNetDaily

With the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate, WorldNetDaily knew what it had to do: Invent ways to cast doubt upon it. And that's exactly what it's trying to do.

An April 28 article by Jerome Corsi expands on his earlier hypersensitive nitpicking to suggest that the certificate is not "legitimate," and another Corsi article nitpicks previous statements by Hawaii officials. But the main way WND is seeking to muddy the waters (today, anyway) is obsessing over the issue of adoption.

An April 28 article by Bob Unruh treats wth great significance a statement by Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, that  Obama was "adopted" by his mother's second husband, Lolo Soetoro. If Obama was formally adopted, Unruh writes, "the mother and father can be changed on an original long-form birth certificate during the adoption process."

WND editor Joseph Farah takes that supposed ambiguity and runs with it:

We can hypothesize, of course, since no member of the media has bothered to ask the question. Let's guess that the adoption took place in Indonesia and Hawaii authorities were never notified. Does that change the reality of the adoption itself? Of course not. But it does invalidate the document we all saw this week for the first time. It is not an accurate reflection of the most basic facts needed to determine Obama's eligibility for the presidency. That document should list Indonesian citizen Lolo Soetoro as his father – not Kenyan Obama.

So here we have a man sitting in the White House who has two fathers – neither of which is able to confer U.S. citizenship on their son.

That's right -- after years of concern over who Obama's real father is, Farah is upset that Obama's real father is actually listed on his birth certificate.

Since it's clear that no evidence will sate the conspiratorial, hatred-driven urges of Farah and WND, why take them seriously?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 PM EDT
MRC Pushes False Equivalence Between Birthers, Truthers
Topic: Media Research Center

An April 26 MRC TimesWatch item by Clay Waters complains that the New York Times has been much harder on anti-Obama birthers than it has on 9/11 truthers, despite the truther stuff being "a far more pernicious anti-Republican conspiracy theory believed by many Democrats." In support of that claim, Waters only a 2006 poll in which "more than half" of Democrats -- well, 50.8% percent -- said it was "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that "people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."

In fact, trutherism was never as "pernicious" on the left as birtherism currently is on the right. As the American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie notes:

At no point were Democrats demanding trutherism from Democratic congressional candidates, much less presidential candidates. Despite the widespread presence of truther beliefs among Democrats, friendly state lawmakers never passed truther-influenced legislation, and trutherism remained on the far fringe of liberal discourse.

By contrast (and this is an important contrast), birtherism is all but an established issue priority within the Republican coalition; GOP presidential candidates will be judged on their adherence to birther conspiracies, and the eventual nominee will have to placate birthers for success. In other words, even with the (formerly?) widespread presence of truther beliefs among Democrats, it's still hard to make a direct comparison between trutherism and birtherism.

The Prospect's Adam Serwer adds than no prominent Republican has come out as forcefully against birtherism than Bill Clinton did in 2007 against truthers.

Waters does concede that the birther claims are "discredited," but the MRC has made virtually no effort to do any meaningful pushback against them.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:41 AM EDT
AIM Brings Back Blogger Whose Post It Had to Retract -- Again
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Remember Allie Duzett? She's the one-time Accuracy in Media intern who wrote a blog post libelously calling Obama administration offical Kevin Jennings a "pedophile," forcing AIM to delete the post and issue a retraction and quasi-apology.

You'd think that exposing it to litigation would be a disincentive for AIM to continue its association with Duzett, but AIM brought her back for a few more posts last September, and she even made her way to the Heritage Foundation as a blogger for a while.

Well, guess who has resurfaced at AIM? Duzett contributed an April 28 blog post titled "Media Bias in Strategic Word Choice." Of course, Duzett does have some experience on that front; her stragetic word choice in smearing Jennings as a "pedophile" was certainly biased (not to mention libelous).

The day before, Duzett wrote another blog post criticizing Tavis Smiley for claiming that Donald Trump was engaging in race-baiting. She responded that "media consumers should know that Smiley’s coverage at PBS comes from an anti-tea party bent that finds racism in those who support small government and disagree with President Obama’s agenda." And Duzett's coverage at AIM comes from an anti-gay bent that finds pedophilia in those who oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:25 AM EDT
Thursday, April 28, 2011
WND Harangues Think Progress Over Tweet It Didn't Like
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Just how thin-skinned are Joseph Farah and WorldNetDaily about criticism? Something as insubstantial as a Twitter post will bring down WND's wrath.

That's the case with an April 26 WND article by Aaron Klein. Responding to a tweet by the liberal blog Think Progress that WND's upcoming cruise to Alaska is the "worst vacation ever," Klein delivered one of his patented guilt-by-association harangues, denouncing Think Progress as a "George Soros-funded advocacy blog that is a project of a radical left think tank with deep ties to the Obama administration."

Also damning evidence against Think Progress: It supposedly "routinely reprints pieces by the Soros-funded Media Matters for America." Klein offers no evidence for this.

Fully half of the Klein's article was copied-and-pasted bullet points from  a report issued by Think Progress' parent, the "radical left think tank" Center for American Progress, containing "Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change." That's just padding; apparently, Klein's outrage wasn't enough to fill out the article.

WND picked an odd occasion to do some disclosure here, adding an editor's note that "Aaron Klein is one of the featured speakers on the 2011 WND cruise to Alaska." Meanwhile, WND routinely hides its conflicts of interest on much more substantive matters.

Remember, this is all over a tweet. Sheesh.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:09 PM EDT
Corsi Invokes Nixon, Then Claims A Lame 'Rosetta Stone'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi was in full conspiratorial mode in reacting to the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate. In an April 27 WND article, he declared that "Obama blinked," adding:

"Public pressure finally forced Obama to do what he did today. Now the game begins," said Corsi. "Nixon thought he could stop the Watergate scandal from unfolding by releasing a few tapes. All that did was fuel the fire."

A birth certificate is the same as the Watergate scandal? Really?

Corsi also tosses in some self-promotion of his upcoming birther book, insisting, "When people read the book, they will see that Obama is not eligible to be president."

Corsi continued his conspiracy-mongering in a separate April 27 column, in which he brought up a new claim:


A key problem for Obama is that birth certificates issued to twin girls born one day later at Kapi'olani hospital, the Nordykes, are the Rosetta Stone of deciphering both Obama's previously released short-form Certification of Live Birth and the newly released purported copy of his long-form birth certificate.

In short, Corsi says the issue is that Obama's birth certificate was given a higher registration number than the Nordyke twins, even though he was born a day earlier. This, supposedly, raises questions because, in addition, Obama's birth "was registered with the Hawaii Department of Health registrar three days earlier" than the Nordyke twins.

We'll invoke Occam's Razor and posit something that appears not to have occurred to Corsi -- that the assigning of registration numbers by the Hawaii Department of Health was done randomly and not done by order of birth or order of arrival in the office. Corsi provides no evidence that the assigning of registration numbers was ever dictated, then or now, by those standards, or that the number order on the Obama and Nordyke birth certificates is a deviation from whatever the practice may have been at the time.

That's not a "Rosetta Stone"; that's bureaucratic procedure.

If Corsi is clinging to such a thin, dubious claim -- and has to resort to dredging up Nixon to attack Obama -- it's highly doubtful that his book will prove much of anything.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:48 PM EDT
Tim Adams Is Back, And Angrier Than Ever
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's favorite election temp worker, Tim Adams, resurfaces in an April 27 article by Joe Kovacs to share his thoughts on President Obama's long-form birth certificate. And boy, is he angry:

Adams, a self-described liberal Democrat who thinks Obama is eligible for office because his mother was American, lamented what he feels is an out-of-control federal government, explaining, "There is a group of men and women who currently are waging multiple, illegal wars, paying off special interests with taxpayer monies, violating every law on the books, and operating as if we were subjects to be dictated to at gunpoint; this must end. Obama's controversy is just a symptom of the overall filth that is Washington. These people must be held accountable, must be punished, and must be removed from power, by whatever means are necessary. As for their excuses, every perp has a f---ing excuse."

Specifically concerning Obama, Adams said, "President Obama's problems as a politician, his active membership and support of a racist, religious group; his friendship with a known terrorist and murderer; his extremism; his use of executive orders; his contempt of the rule of law and the limits of government power; his violence and murder around the world; his failed economic and social policies; his rewarding of his political friends and the active spoils system he operates, the corruption and crime of the Daly machine bunch he came out of in Chicago – none of these have gone away.


Concerning the actual image of what is claimed to be the president's original long-form birth certificate, Adams said, "If this document is indeed valid – and I'm not going into the questions of validity – it proves what I said before, that the so-called COLBs (Certifications of Live Birth) that were posted online over the last three years are in fact forgeries and not State of Hawaii issued documents."

One of the reasons Adams is angry is that, as Kovacs notes, Adams "has claimed he was told by his superiors a long-form birth certificate for Barack Obama did not exist in the Aloha State." Oops! Adams even signed an WND-supplied affidavit attesting to that -- as well as to other claims Adams has no firsthand knowledge of -- but Kovacs makes no mention of it.

Adams' complaint about Obama's purported link to a "racist" group is particularly rich given Adams' own racist links. As we documented, Adams first made his now-discredited claim about the birth certificate on a radio show that claims to "represent a philosophy that is pro-White" while the host was broadcasting from the national conference of the Council of Conservative Citizens, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "white supremacist" "hate group." Kovacs, has he always has, ignores this too.

Adams was never a credible source, no matter how much Kovacs and WND pretended he was, and this utter destruction of his central claim makes that crystal clear. This, of course, won't stop WND from continuing to pretend otherwise.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:12 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:14 AM EDT
Newsmax's Latest Round of Trump-Fluffing, Birth Certificate Edition
Topic: Newsmax

The release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate prompted Newsmax to do what it already seems genetically predisposed to do: give even more fawning coverage to Donald Trump.

Newsmax got the obligatory post-release "exclusive interview" with Trump, in which he called Obama a "very strange president," joined by an article highlighting Rush Limbaugh's praise for Trump.

(Newsmax did manage to come up with the most bizarre take on the birth certificate, an interview with an astrologer who concluded from the information on it that Obama "should have gone into public relations rather than politics.")

Newsmax also engaged in some self-congratulatory Trump-fluffing as well, touting how "Newsmax’s Donald Trump presidential poll has now received more than a phenomenal 1 million responses!" Newsmax didn't say how much it spent to promote the meaningless poll. This was followed by an article stating how Trump is "honored" by the poll results.

As we've noted, Newsmax leaked early poll results to Trump, who then promoted it in interviews as evidence he's a serious presidential candidate.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:18 AM EDT
CNS Puts Anti-Abortion Spin On Obama Birth Certificate
Topic: (along with its parent, the Media Research Center) largely stayed out of the birther wars -- they didn't embrace it, but they made no real effort to debunk it either. Now that President Obama has released the desired long-form birth certificate, CNS is ready to put its own brand of right-wing spin on things.

An April 27 CNS article by editor Terry Jeffrey carries the headline "Birth Certificate Shows: Obama’s Teenage Mom Was Not ‘Punished With a Baby’" -- an invocation of a previous statement by Obama. Jeffrey took this statement somewhat out of context; Obama was answering a question about sex education and sexually transmitted diseases, and he also said in reference to his daughters, "I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16."

Jeffrey continued:

In 1960, when the future President Obama was conceived by a teenager in Hawaii, abortion-on-demand was not legal in that state. A law that had been in place since the 1800s—before Hawaii had become a U.S. territory—was still in force. It was only a decade after Obama’s conception that Hawaii would become the first state in the nation to liberalize its abortion laws.

Jeffrey then cited an anti-abortion TV ad suggesting Obama's mother might have aborted him had abortion been legal because he would have been born into a "broken home" and "abandoned by his father," leaving only a "single mother" who "will struggle to raise him."

Jeffrey concluded: "But now President Obama’s birth certificate is delivering the same message. And it is posted for all of the world to see on Obama's White House website." Well, no -- Jeffrey is simply imposing his far-right anti-abortion agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2011 1:51 AM EDT
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Will WND Admit Its Birther Obsession Was A Lie?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The actual release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate -- which corroborates everything that appeared in the "certificate of live birth" released by the Obama campaign in 2008 -- demonstrates how much of a fraud WorldNetDaily's birther coverage has been.

WND, of course, has been peddling lies about birther issues for years, embracing some of the more fringe claims, such as the fake "Kenyan birth certificate" and the Ron Polarik conspiracy that the original birth certificate Obama released is "criminally fraudulent."

In the past couple of weeks alone, Farah stood behind unproven claims that Obama spent millions of dollars fighting birther lawsuits and thinks the utterly discredited claim that Obama's grandmother said he was born in Kenya is important. He even blatantly lied that "WND never reported that Obama had spent $2 million hiding his birth certificate" when Farah himself made that exact claim.

All of that has now definitively been proven to be a lie. Will WND editor Joseph Farah apologize for promoting every lunatic theory he could find? Hell, no -- he's too busy taking credit, as well as moving the goalposts:

Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, the only news agency that has waged a relentless investigative campaign on questions swirling around the Obama’s eligibility for nearly three years, was elated at the turn of events.

"We're gratified that our work has begun to pay off," he said. "The certificate of live birth is an absolutely vital foundation for determining constitutional eligibility of any president. We look forward to reviewing it like so many other Americans do at this late date. But it is important to remember there are still dozens of other questions concerning this question of eligibility that need to be resolved to assure what has become a very skeptical public concerning Barack Obama’s parentage, his adoption, his citizenship status throughout his life and why he continues to cultivate a culture of secrecy around his life."

We predicted that Farah would do exactly this, which is why he has been trying to move the argument from birth to "eligibility." And Farah is still insisting that Obama's "parentage" is in question, demonstrating that no amount of evidence will satisfy him.

For Farah, the birther stuff is nothing more than Vince Foster redux, and he's running the same attack plan against Obama as he did against President Clinton in the 1990s -- except this time he can make some serious coin by peddling birther trinkets, something he really couldn't do when he ran the Western Journalism Center (except, of course, for that Richard Mellon Scaife cash he got).

Farah and WND have demonstrated that their journalism is driven much more by irrational hatred of Obama than by actual facts. They simply can't be trusted to tell the truth, and they certainly aren't about to let the facts they in their way now.

UPDATE: Farah's not the only one doing some goalpost-moving:

  • Salon gets reaction from Jack Cashill, who insists that "The story of his first two years remains false."
  • TPM talks to Orly Taitz, who complains taht the certificate should read "Negro" and not "African" for the race of Obama's father.
  • Mother Jones gets a hold of Andy Martin, who says  "The pressure for his college records is going to become relentless."
  • Newsmax (of course) touted Donald Trump's victory lap, adding that "Trump called on the president to release his college records and other documents he has so far declined to release."
UPDATE 2: Jerome Corsi has a WND-published book coming out next month called "Where's the Birth Certificate?" Are Corsi and WND scrambling to come up with a new title since the current one is no longer operative?

Posted by Terry K. at 10:11 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 12:56 PM EDT
Les Kinsolving Whining Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's longtime pattern of complaining that the White House press secretary didn't answer a question WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving didn't ask continues with an April 26 artricle:

There'll be no answers right away to questions about the scholarships that Barack Obama was given during college.

The question had been prepared for White House spokesman Jay Carney at today's briefing there, but he declined to allow Les Kinsolving, WND's correspondent at the White House, to ask it.

WND baselessly suggests that Carney knew Kinsolving would ask that question and deliberately avoided it, something for which it provides no evidence.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:58 AM EDT
WND Columnist Attacks Obama For Getting Him Stuck In Traffic
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an especially petty fit of Obama Derangement Syndrome, Eric Golub dedicates his April 27 WorldNetDaily column to denigrating President Obama for committing the offense of inconveniencing Golub.

No, really. Here's how Golub kicks things off:

Obama says he is a Christian. I believe him.

Yet when he says he cares about the concerns of ordinary people, I do not believe him for one moment.

He is the same snob who gives people glimpses of his true character when his guard is down.

This is the man who asked an Iowa corn farmer if he grew arugula.

This is the man who disdainfully turned to his primary opponent and coldly said, "You're likable enough Hillary."

This is a man who would come to Los Angeles on one of the holiest days of the religious Christian calendar and shut down the entire city during rush-hour traffic.

As it turns out, Golub had no grand philosophical statement in which to base his ranting:

My anger was admittedly selfish. Only two miles from my home, an innocent trip to get some lunch turned into a fiasco lasting over an hour. All of the streets were blocked off. Getting home was virtually impossible. Then leaving the house for an appointment that could not be missed proved painful, as a two hour trip took four hours. The first two hours was just leaving Los Angeles.

Golub went on to claim:

Yet others had frustration that was far more important. Christians trying to attend Holy Thursday services at their churches could not get there. People trying to pay homage to God had to take a back seat because one man needed to pay homage to himself.

In fact, Holy Thursday is not a day of required attendance in most Christian churches, so it's unlikely many people were inconvenienced.

Further, traffic was not that big of an issue overall; the Los Angleles Times reported that traffic jams due to Obama's visit was limited to "some parts of the Westside," which the vast majority of metropolitan Los Angeles was unaffected.

Still, Golub is on a rant, and he won't be persuaded otherwise:

As Holy Thursday turned to Good Friday, well wishes are again sent to the Jews and Christians celebrating their beautiful traditions. In the aftermath of Easter weekend, Mr. Obama may wish to consider lowering himself in his own mind to the level of mere mortal.

Obama needs to learn humility. He needs to be more sensitive to those around him, even if they do not earn seven figures and trade carbon offsets. He needs to understand that for the great unwashed masses, the right to liberty and pursuit of happiness come in the form of a religious service.

His actions were selfish, classless and, even more sadly, typical.

I still hope the man had a peaceful Easter, but his attitude toward his fellow men led to a most Unholy Thursday.

Remember, this is all about traffic. That's what WND is left to resort to in order to bash Obama.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:39 AM EDT
Newsmax Cherry-Picks Trump's Ratings To Claim He's "Blowing Away the Competition"
Topic: Newsmax

An April 25 Newsmax article crowed:

Billionaire developer Donald Trump is not only among the frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination – his NBC show “The Celebrity Apprentice” is now blowing away the competition in the ratings.

“Celebrity Apprentice” is now tied as the Number 1 primetime show in the coveted 18-49 demographic, beating ABC and CBS combined, according to ratings released this week.

It ranked first for the week among all 10-11 p.m. programs in the same category and increased its number of viewers by 12 percent.

Notice how Newsmax carefully focuses on a single demographic. Meanwhile, if you consider total ratings, Trump is not doing so well. From TPM:

Trump's April 17 episode drew 7.6 million viewers, down from 8.2 million the previous week and 9.7 million viewers on April 3, right as his birther junket was getting into full swing. But the show's ratings have always been inconsistent -- its first season drew around 20 million viewers a night on average but by 2010, the 10th season of The Apprentice suffered dismal ratings, bringing in about 4 million viewers on average and prompting murmurs it might be canceled. Producers reportedly even filmed multiple endings with different winners for their last episode because their shrinking viewership wasn't enough to merit a live finale.

The numbers have since picked up, but its volatile following makes it difficult to assess the impact of Trump's presidential ambitions on the show's success.

Needless to say, Newsmax doesn't mention the overall trend of declining ratings.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:23 AM EDT
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
WND "Reporting": Still Unfair And Unbalanced
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's idea of "news" typically involves telling only one side of the story, especially if the other side of the story is something it opposes.

And so it is with an April 25 WND article by Bob Unruh on the Independent Payment Advisory Board that's in the health care reform plan. Unruh writes that "critics have described" the board "as the ultimate 'death panel,'" then quotes no less than five of those critics, and even embedded "a video commentary on Obama administration actions." At no point, however, does Unruh make any apparent attempt to permit a representative from the Obama administration -- or anyone, really -- to respond to the criticism.

That may be because much the criticism Unruh uncritically reported is false or misleading. In contrast to claims regurgitated by Unruh that IPAB is "death panels" or "rationing," the truth is that IPAB is specifically prohibited from making "any recommendations to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits." 

A responsible reporter who cares about telling the truth would have reported that. Unruh didn't. But you knew that about Unruh already.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 PM EDT
CNS Joins Bogus Right-Wing Freak-Out Over Lack of Easter Proclamation

An April 26 article by Fred Lucas pushes the right-wing meme that President Obama "did not put out a formal proclamation for Easter--after putting out proclamations for Muslim holidays." But Lucas apparently doesn't know the difference between a presidential statement and a presidential proclamation.

Lucas writes that "the White House released proclamations on Muslim holidays Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-al-Adha." That's false: the White House issued informal statements or messages -- not proclamations -- on those holidays.

Lucas does not report that, as Little Green Footballs' Charles Johnson documented, no president since at least 1980 issued an Easter proclamation -- something you'd think would be germane to the discussion.

A formal presidential proclamation is something quite different from an informal statement or message. Lucas' false conflation of the two demonstrates that either he doesn't understand the difference or is deliberately obscuring the difference to further his right-wing hackery. Either way, he's not practicing what most would recognize as journalism.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:54 AM EDT

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