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Friday, May 6, 2011
CNS' Jeffrey Loves Zeros, Not Journalistic Standards

Here is the bulk of Terry Jeffrey's May 5 article:

Uncle Sam’s Latest Line of Credit: $1,888,174,000,000.00 Spent Out of $1,900,000,000,000.00

Of the $1,900,000,000,000.00 increase in federal borrowing authority approved by President Barack Obama and Congress last February, the federal government now has just $11.826 billion left, according to the U.S. Treasury. The other $1,888,174,000,000.00 has been borrowed and spent.

As of the close of business on Wednesday, the federal debt subject to the legal limit equaled $14,282,174,000,000.00. The debt limit--set in a law signed by President Obama on Feb. 12, 2010--is $14,294,000,000,000.00.

The $1,888,174,000,000.00 in new debt the government has accumulated just since Feb. 12, 2010, equals $16,064 for every household in the United States (based on the Census Bureau’s estimate of 117,538,000 households in the country).

There's no journalistic reason to substitute "trillion" for the series of zeroes Jeffrey chooses to use. That's a political judgment done solely to illustrate CNS' right-wing, anti-Obama agenda.

And Lachlan Markay wonders why CNS gets pegged as "conservative activists" instead of journalists. (Hint: It's because that's what they are.)

Posted by Terry K. at 1:53 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, May 6, 2011 1:54 PM EDT
WND Promotes 'Son of Hamas' As Shoebat Denounces Him
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily loves the heck out of Walid Shoebat, even though numerous questions have been raised about his self-proclaimed background as a purported Palestinian terrorist.

WND also loves the heck out of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a Hamas leader who spied for Israel and converted to Christianity. WND has quoted him in stories and sells his book in its online store. WND recounted Yousef's story in offering his book for a special price in a May 4 article:

It's almost too amazing to be true: A stranger hands a New Testament to a longtime Hamas insider and heir-apparent to the terror organization's power structure, he opens it up, reads it – and is changed forever:

"I thought, 'Wow, this guy Jesus is really impressive! Everything He says is beautiful! … Every verse seemed to touch a deep wound in my life. It was a very simple message, but somehow it had the power to heal my soul and give me hope."

Those are the words of Mosab Hassan Yousef, whose explosive new book just debuted and shot up immediately to the top of the best-seller charts. And today only, WND readers can get "Son of Hamas" for only $4.95 – an incredible $22 discount off the regular $26.99 price!

While WND was publishing that, Yousef was being attacked by, of all people, Walid Shoebat.

In a Pajamas Media article, Shoebat attacks Yousef as a "double agent":

During the initial contact within Israel’s Maskubia (Jerusalem’s central prison), Mosab agreed to collaborate in exchange for Israel not targeting his father. After years of providing valuable intelligence, in 2007 Mosab declared his conversion to Christianity, moved to California, and went public with his story. His tale was a sensation, drawing attention and praise from U.S. pro-Israel organizations. But his tale has since been revealed to be a “long con,” the evidence coming from when he speaks publicly in Arabic.

Mosab did not convert to what the West would recognize as Christianity, but to a fiery, Palestinian brand of the faith that is vehemently anti-Israel. According to Mosab, his main goal in coming to the U.S. is to infiltrate the main source of international support for Israel: the American church.


Mosab is now touring churches to end Israel’s lifeline. Many Jews and Christians in the West are unable to determine friend from foe in the Mideast; they are not able to read what is said in Arabic. They must seek translations, and must be aware of double agents like Mosab.

As Richard Bartholomew notes, however, this may be litle more than professional jealousy: "Mosab is also a professional rival to Shoebat on the church pundit circuit: Shoebat bills himself as an expert on terrorism, based on the fact he once planted a bomb for the PLO in the 1970s – and even that is dubious. Mosab, in contrast, has real inside knowledge of Hamas, and he’s avoided the kind of extravagant pronouncements that make Shoebat look increasingly absurd." Shoebat also provides no original sources for the statements he's accusing Yousef of making.

It seems that WND will have to choose at some point between Yousef and Shoebat. Either choice would not reflect well: Yousef's criticism runs counter to the right-wing Israelophilia WND espouses, and Shoebat has little to offer but hate and venom. That's more in line with WND sensibilities, but it does nothing for WND's credibility problems.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:43 PM EDT
NewsBusters: ProPublica Doesn't Hate Obama Enough
Topic: NewsBusters

A May 3 NewsBusters post by Lachlan Markay attacks ProPublica as "a libber non-profit news outlet" ("libber"? Is that some new technical term?) that "has little interest in exerting itself in investigations of liberal politicians - let alone the Obama White House (where there is certainly plenty to investigate)." Markay then cites a Marvin Olasky column that similarly complains that ProPublica applies "almost no pressure on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave." and serves up only "Nerf ball throws."

Here are just a few ProPublica articles critical of the Obama administration that Markay and Olasky have missed:

  • ProPublica has criticized the Obama administration for not living up to its promises of transparency.
  • It labeled a claim by Obama on the effects of the stimulus "half true."
  • It has documented the failure of an Obama administration program to modify mortgages.

Markay's main complaint, though, is that the Pulitzer-winning ProPublicais not described as liberal, while NewsBusters' sister organization,, is identified as "conservative activists." But Markay seems not to understand that CNS has amply demonstrated itself to be little more than an ideological organization masquerading as a "news" outlet and that its reporters are, in fact, conservative activists.

Is ProPublica ambushing politicians with loaded gotcha questions like CNS does? No. Is ProPublica attacking the content of museum exhibits, like CNS does? No. Is ProPublica redefining words to fit its agenda, like CNS does? No.

Markay's real complaint, it seems, is that ProPublica doesn't hate Obama as much as he does. That's hardly a basis for legitimate media criticism.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:04 PM EDT
WND Censors Criticism Of It From Bill Press Column
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily is incredibly intolerant of any criticism of it, no matter how factual and legitimate. That intolerance also applies to syndicated columnists.

One of WND's token liberal voices (whose presence at WND appears to be for the sole purpose of allowing Joseph Farah to misleadingly claim that his website carries "widest ideological spectrum of political commentary anywhere on the Internet") is the syndicated column of Bill Press. In his column last week, he wrote:

Barack Obama was born at 7:24 p.m. on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is an American citizen. He is the legitimate president of the United States.

Of course, even production of this long form, which they’ve been demanding, will still not satisfy Donald Trump, Joseph Farah, Orly Taitz, or other members of the Obama Hate Machine, because they don’t care about the truth. They’re just out to destroy Barack Obama.

But when that column was posted at WND, the references to Farah and Taitz were deleted, and the sentence rewritten to reference only "Donald Trump and other members of the Obama Hate Machine."

Yes, WND is so thin-skinned that it will censor and rewrite the words of others to keep that criticism from spreading. We learned that first-hand a couple of years ago, when the column we submitted in response to Joseph Farah's attack on us was stripped of links to ConWebWatch and a reference to rival Newsmax.

(h/t reader L.C.)

Posted by Terry K. at 2:19 AM EDT
Thursday, May 5, 2011
MRC Reacts To Couric Departure With Immaturity
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has reacted to the departure of Katie Couric as CBS Evening News anchor with a very special fit of immaturity.

After Couric's departure was announced, the MRC issued a petulant press release quoting MRC chief Brent Bozell saying he "has launched a national search committee and is soliciting recommendations for the next CBS Evening News anchor," going on to sneer:

"CBS likes people with charisma – like Charlie Sheen, maybe? He too is looking for work. Or someone with "CBS depth" – so how about Britney Spears? Or maybe someone who is sweet, perky and – oh wait a minute, you tried that already.

"Instead of making any rash decisions, we urge you to postpone your decision and give us a chance to weigh in.  And after the committee convenes, I will return to announce our recommendation.

"Let the search begin! But don't wait too, too long. The ratings footsteps you hear are Al Gore's Current TV gaining."

By "search committee," Bozell actually meant he would post it on the MRC's Facebook page and let readers hurl insults. And that they did. An April 28 NewsBusters post provided the top 10 choices, all of whom are right-wing radio hosts or people associated with Fox News, very few of whom could plausibly be considered journalists. Listed under "entertaining suggestions" were:

  • “Casper the Ghost … nobody saw Katie anyhow.”
  • “Trump’s hairpiece would make a better journalist than Katie.”
  • “Well if you are talking about a replacement on the same level as Couric, a microwave should do just fine.”
  • “The Teleprompter of the United States of America (TOTUS). Since CBS pretty much just repeats what is read off the Teleprompter, I say make it a news anchor.”
  • “The Geico Cave Man … it’s so easy, a cave man could do it.”
  • “A pet rock … it’s twice as intelligent, more entertaining, and you don’t’ have to pay it.”
  • “It doesn’t matter cause if you want true reporting, you will be watching Fox News anyways.”

Way to privilege the hatred of your followers, MRC.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, May 5, 2011 2:31 PM EDT
WND Reduced To Insulting Obama's Father
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Now that WorldNetDaily's main objective of getting President Obama to release his long-form birth certificate has been achieved, it's been scrambling to fill the Obama-hate vacuum. Its latest strategy on that front: smear Obama's father.

Jack Cashill dedicated his May 4 column to bashing Barack Obama Sr. by sifting through his immigration documents, prompting this nasty bit of dehumanizing the president:

As the immigration documents confirm, Obama Sr.'s coupling with Stanley Ann Dunham, the mom, was no Kumbaya moment.

If the relationship symbolized anything, it symbolized third-world eagerness to exploit mindless liberal idealism, and that was not the kind of story line that would get a president elected.

Cashill later describes Obama Sr.'s relationship with Dunham as "statutory rape."

As disgusting as that is, Pamela Geller manages to go even further in her May 5 WND column, bashing Obama Sr. as "a con man from Kenya" and declaring that, because Obama Sr. apparently had a wife in Kenya at the time he married Dunham, Barack Obama is "illegitimate," adding, "There is no way the founders of this great nation intended for an illegitimate child of a foreign bigamist to attain the highest, most powerful position in the new land." Geller then segues into the factually deficient WND argument that Obama is not a "natural born citizen."

Geller also  touted how she "broke the story of how the first birth document Obama produced, the Certification of Live Birth that he posted to his farcically titled blog, 'Fight the Smears,' was an altered document." In fact, as we detailed, the source Geller cited as the basis for this claim, "Techdude," has had his credentials and analysis called into question.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:48 AM EDT
CNS Body Count Watch

It's a new month, and that means a new body-count tally from's Edwin Mora. This month's report declares that U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan "are currently on a pace to make 2011 the deadliest year of the war."

As per usual, Mora refuses to utter the word "Iraq," thus hiding from his readers the fact that the troop casualty rate in Afghanistan is far outpaced by the peak casualty rate during the Iraq war. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:09 AM EDT
Farah Still Dubiously Claiming WND Is Bigger Than MSNBC
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily marked its 14th anniverary in a self-congratulatory May 3 article in which Editor Joseph Farah makes this boast:

"WND burst onto the Internet scene in 1997 – a completely different environment that it is today," said Joseph Farah. "Back then there were no bloggers – the word was unknown. MSNBC was the largest website in the world. Today it ranks well below WND in traffic."

As we pointed out the last time Farah claimed this, the available evidence shows quite the opposite. A September 2010 report by Hitwise places MSNBC third among news sites and makes no mention of WND. eBizMBA also ranks MSNBC third among news sites, while WND did not make the top 15. On the eBizMBA list of political websites, Newsmax is ranked fifth but, again, WND did not make the top 15.

Any chance Farah will inform his readers of the basis for his claim and publish the data to back it up? Don't count on it.

Farah is also quoted as saying: 

WND had almost no detractors for the first couple of years of its existence. Today there are websites solely devoted to attacking and criticizing virtually everything WND publishes. It's a completely different world.

That's presumably a reference to us -- we are, after all, the first and largest website dedicated to critiquing right-wing news websites. But Farah couldn't even get that right: We are not "solely devoted" to WND. There's lots of stuff about Newsmax and the Media Research Center here too.

Still, we appreciate the stealth mention. This means Farah knows we exist and that he reads us (or, at least, pays someone to read us).

Posted by Terry K. at 2:28 AM EDT
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
MRC: "J. Crew Goes Gay Crew"
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center is not done slapping around clothing retailer J. Crew for not being heterosexual enough.

In a May 3 MRC Culture & Media Institute article, Matt Philbin declared that CMI 'was onto something" with its ranting last month about how a picture of a boy with pink toenails in a J. Crew ad was "transgendered child propaganda." How so? Because J. Crew has used an actual gay person in an ad!

No, really:

A May 2, 2011, online story places 'J. Crew at Center of Gay Economics With Openly Gay Model.' The company's May 2011 catalog 'features employees as models, including a gay designer with his boyfriend, who are described as 'Happy Together.''

Although J. Crew didn't comment, ABC's report noted that 'gay advocates applaud what they say is a strong message.'

Philbin concluded: "So J. Crew is consciously angling for the 'LGBT' market, but there's no agenda behind marketing materials featuring a little boy with hot pink toenails?"

Philbin doesn't explain why gay people, perceived or otherwise, are not allowed to be depicted in advertising.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:51 PM EDT
Trump Gains Another Newsmax Champion
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax has yet another emerging champion of Donald Trump's presidential ambitions: James Hirsen.

In an April 25 column, Hirsen touted how "it seems that even if Trump weren’t serious when he initially began talking about the GOP nomination, he is now," adding that the Republican establishment "have had to come to grips with the Trump reality."

Hirsen fawned almost Ronald Kessler-like over Trump,  stating that "Trump has skillfully injected into the public discussion an air of legitimacy" on the birther issue, and that "voters are largely resonating to his appealing rhetorical spunk, which is perceived to be sorely lacking in the GOP leadership as well as in several of the other Republican alternatives."

Hirsen continued his Trump-fluffing in his May 2 column, coming to his defense from the Trump jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Hirsen declared the jokes to be "an assault from the president himself," naming celebrities who "snickered on cue" at the "unimaginative one-liners." Hirsen huffed, "What is significant is that the WHCD has traditionally been used to poke fun at members of the media and at the White House, not at an outside third party."

Because of these so-called attacks, Hirsen wrote, "Trump is now able to relate to Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in a way few others can."

Hirsen, it seems, really wants to give Kessler a run for his money in the Trump-fluffing department.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:14 PM EDT
Les Kinsolving Whining Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The whining continues: A May 3 WorldNetDaily article complains that "The White House has bypassed a question about what the Arab world thinks regarding the reported death of Osama bin Laden over the weekend" from WND's Les Kinsolving, adding that "Press spokesman Jay Carney declined to allow the question to be asked."

As before, WND offers no evidence that Carney deliberately passed up Kinsolving because he knew Kinsolving would ask that question, as the article suggests. Also as before, WNDoffers no evidence that Kinsolving has earned the noblesse oblige to called on at every single White House press briefing, no matter how inane or biased his question is likely to be.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:43 AM EDT
NewsBusters Unhappy People Are Saying Nice Things About Obama
Topic: NewsBusters

At the Media Research Center, saying something nice about President Obama is the same thing as being liberally biased -- even when it involves the death of Osama bin Laden. So the boys at NewsBusters are strictly policing that:

  • A May 2 post by Tom Blumer complained that the New York Times was "not waiting for history to play out" because a photo caption stated that "there was little question that Mr. Obama's presidency had forever been changed" because of bin Laden's death.
  • Mark Finkelstein got all huffy when Donny Deutsch declared that "I have never seen a more commanding Commander-in-Chief": "But presumably Donny was sentient in 1982 when Reagan told Gorbachev what to do with his wall.  And surely Deutsch was around in 2001 when George W. Bush made his impromptu bullhorn speech at Ground Zero itself."
  • Noel Sheppard was perturbed that the Huffington post's Howard Fineman declared that "Obama just proved himself -- vividly, in almost Biblical terms -- to be an effective commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States." So he dismissed the idea that killing bin Laden was important: "The man seen by some as the biggest threat to international security was taken out Sunday, and markets collectively yawned. Quite contrary to Fineman's raves, this was hardly Biblical. Traders of oil - and, in particular, gold - certainly didn't feel our world suddenly became safer without bin Laden's existence."
  • Matthew Balan groused that NPR called the death of bin Laden a "game changer politically."

NewsBusters is just as upset that former President Bush might be taken to task for not capturing bin Laden under his watch. Ken Shepherd expressed annoyance that Time's Joe Klein noted that Bush "deserves both credit and blame" for bin Laden's capture, the blame part coming from "Bush's decision to divert attention from the goal by going to war in Iraq."

Shepherd responded: "But if Afghanistan was and always has been a special forces war -- even under Bush -- how was engaging in a more conventional military operation in Iraq a diversion?" Gee, perhaps because Iraq was a much larger operation and troops were pulled from Afghanistan to focus on Iraq?

Shepherd continued: "Even if it diverted public attention, is Klein arguing the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence establishment cannot handle two military theaters of operation at a time?" Given that the Taliban re-established itself in Afghanistan while the U.S. was focusing on Iraq, that could be a valid argument.

Kyle Drennen similarly complained that NBC's Richard Engel called the Iraq war "a distraction from the United States' original mission to find Bin Laden, stop Al Qaeda, and prevent another 9/11," adding that "Anchor Brian Williams did not label the piece as commentary." Does Drennen really think that is merely an opinion rather than documented fact?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:00 AM EDT
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
NEW ARTICLE: Newsmax Gets Trumped
Topic: Newsmax
Led by Ronald Kessler, the website has been an enthusiastic promoter of Donald Trump's presidential ambitions, a connection that appears to be fueled by more than a little behind-the-scenes schmoozing. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 3:25 PM EDT
WND Clings To Layers Conspiracy On Birth Certificate
Topic: WorldNetDaily

On April 28, WorldNetDaily shot down the idea that the existence of layers in the PDF version of President Obama's long-form birth certificate was evidence of fraud. It even stated, "While there may be other challenges to the document's authenticity that bear further scrutiny, it appears that the 'layer argument' can be easily explained," and cited a commenter at the far-right website Free Republic as backup.

Well, forget about that. WND -- in an apparent desperate attempt to find something, anything to discredit Obama -- has changed its mind.

A May 1 WND article by Bob Unruh quotes a "computer document expert" claiming there are "anomalies inconsistent with a simple scanning process, and there is evidence it has been manipulated, but there's no way to determine exactly what may have been modified." But buried in Unruh's article is the evidence that destroys the big conspiracy, citing the report by "expert" Ivan Zatkovich:

"All of the overlays were of a higher resolution than the background layer," the report said. "This suggests that the overlays [were] created to enhance that content (i.e. make the text darker and/or the edges sharper). The only two plausible explanations for this pattern of layers is: 1. Someone was changing the content of both the text and the stamps. 2. Someone was systematically enhancing the black text layers for legibility, and then enhancing the stamp overlays separately for legibility."


Zatkovich told WND that the White House image "has specific content extracted from that base layer and enhanced."

He said, "This was done through an explicit operation to edit and/or enhance the printing in the document. There is no ambiguity here. There was an explicit action by a person to modify the document. … Mostly like to enhance the legibility, but still an explicit action none the less."

In short: The certificate was scanned into a computer and sharpened in Photoshop before being saved as a PDF. Of course, Unruh waits until the 17th paragraph -- well after the scaremongering about alleged manipulation -- before bothering to report that.

Meanwhile, a separate May 1 article attempted to discredit one expert who was "the first forensics analyst to weigh in on the validity of the document" by digging up a positive review of a book about Obama's presidential campaign he allegedly wrote on

Of course, by the same standard, WND is not credible because it puts its anti-Obama agenda before the truth. But don't look for WND to apply that standard to itself.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:27 PM EDT
AIM Ramps Up Its Birther Conspiracy
Topic: Accuracy in Media

WorldNetDaily is not the only ConWeb outlet for which the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate will not be enough. Carol A. Taber keeps the conspiracy going in an April 29 Accuracy in Media column.

Taber asserts that Obama's birth certificate being supposedly "out of sequence with the Nordyke twins’ numbers" is an "iindication of forgery," then claims (italics hers):

So why did he fight not to release it?  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Obama wasn’t hiding anything that is on the present long form birth certificate. The evidence indicates that what he is hiding is that his long form birth certificate may not be genuine.

Previously, Taber was cheering on Donald Trump to go even more birther than he already was.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:50 AM EDT

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