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Thursday, October 6, 2011
MRC Has No Factual Basis On Which To Declare Chavez 'The Networks' Favorite Dictator'
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 30 MRC Culture & Media Institute article by Paul Wilson carries the headline "Hugo Chavez: The Networks' Favorite Dictator." Having made such a declarative, precise statement, surely Wilson must have mounds of emperical evidence to back up his claim, right?

Well, if you are familiar with the MRC's lengthy history of shoddy research, you will not be surprised to find that the answer is no. This is the extent of "research" Wilson has done:

Out of 21 stories on Chavez over the last two years (from Sept 29, 2009 to Sept 29, 2011), precisely 3 of them mentioned Venezuela's strained relations with the United States. Only one of them mentioned human rights abuses in Venezuela.

Two of those stories tended towards trivial and unimportant matters.

That's it. No examination of comparative coverage of other dictators to determine which one was the media's "favorite." And as per usual, Wilson's examination is limited only to the three broadcast networks. There's no mention of Fox News at all; if Wilson had bothered to do anything approaching comprehensive research, he would have found that Fox at one time had its own favorite dictator, the Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo.

Wilson also referenced how "The MRC analyzed media coverage of Chavez from 1998 to 2006" -- curiously linking not to the report but a Fox News article about Chavez that doesn't mention the MRC -- which "found that the networks ignored or whitewashed his radical brand of politics completely, refused to cover his threats against the United States, and positively covered his political stunt of giving oil to the American poor."

Complaining that "the media" (that is, the TV networks) did report on Chavez's "radical brand of politics" in 1998 is disingenuous because he was not as autocratic in 1998 as he is now. Upon taking office, Chavez did introduce some populist democratic reforms in Venezuela.

(We couldn't find a live version of the report on Chavez on the MRC's website; it's referenced near the end of this article by the MRC's Business & Media Institute, but the link no longer works.)

Wilson concludes by asking, "Will the networks acknowledge Hugo Chavez as an anti-American dictator, or will they ignore his anti-American ways once again? A more relevant question to ask would be whether the MRC will ever be able to tell the difference between genuine research and political hack work.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:18 PM EDT
No, Aaron Klein, Obama Did Not March With New Black Panthers
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Aaron Klein -- who is desperate to hype anything even remotely negative about President Obama and his administration -- predictably pounced on the latest negative attack on the president, declaring in an Oct. 3 WND article that "Newly resurfaced photographs show President Obama appearing and marching with members of the New Black Panther Party as he campaigned for president in Selma, Ala., in March 2007," going on to assert that "the photos present new evidence of a possible relationship between Obama and the controversial black extremist group."

Klein is engaging in wishful thinking. The reality -- something that Klein will never report about Obama -- is that the event in question was the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 civil rights march on Selma, which was attended by thousands. Klein offers no evidence whatsoever that Obama interacted with anyone from the NBPP, nor did he mention that among the other attendees was civil rights pioneer Fred Shuttlesworth, whom Obama actually was pictured with (unlike with the misleadingly cropped picture accompanying Klein's article).

Klein also touted how the photos are "reportedly featured in a book set to be released tomorrow by J. Christian Adams, the Department of Justice whistleblower in the New Black Panther Party, or NBPP, voter intimidation case." Klein doesn't mention that Adams has been utterly discredited.

This is what happens when a reporter's ideology comes before telling the truth.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:58 AM EDT
Newsmax's Kessler: Don't Believe Suskind's Obama-Bashing Book
Topic: Newsmax

Unlike the Media Research Center, which flip-flops on the veracity of author Ron Suskind depending upon the party of the president he's writing about, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler maintains a little intellectual consistency. From Kessler's Sept. 26 Newsmax column, headlined "Don't Trust Suskind's New Obama Book":

When reputable publishers bring out books with sensational revelations, it’s hard for the public to discern which books are credible and which mix fact with fiction.

Here’s a handy guide: You can bank on what Bob Woodward says in his books. Ron Suskind's new book, “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,” is being repudiated by key Obama administration people he interviewed.

Kessler goes on to receite some of the same criticisms the MRC did about Suskind's books on the Bush administration, then points out criticism from "Obama administration officials who say they never told Suskind what he attributed to them.

Kessler closes with an unflattering comparison:

In that respect, Suskind mimics author Kitty Kelley. Like Suskind, Kelley engages in prodigious research and interviews primary sources. But then she adds a novelistic touch. In her book “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty,” Kelley claimed that Laura Bush was “known in her college days [at Southern Methodist University] as a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana.”

“If she was the go-to, I missed that,” Pamela Nelson, her Theta Kappa Alpha sister at SMU, told me for my book “Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady.” “I was there. She was the go-to for a lot of things that were uplifting.”

Kelley attributed the claim to Robert Nash, identified as an Austin public relations executive who was a friend of “many” in Laura’s SMU class. Tracked down by Alan Murray of The Wall Street Journal, Nash said that he did not know any of Laura’s SMU classmates. He said he merely told Kelley he had heard a rumor about Laura selling dope.

Kelley went on to claim that after Laura and George Bush married, they would visit Jane Purucker Clarke, one of Laura’s sorority sisters, and her boyfriend Sanford “Sandy” Koufax, the former baseball star, on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and attend “heavy pot-smoking parties.” But Jane Clarke had not met Koufax at the time and was married to John Clem Clarke, the artist.

“The Kitty Kelley story is a lie,” Jane Clarke said.

If Ron Suskind emulates Kitty Kelley, he also fails as a novelist. Good novels are believable.

Ouch. It many be mean, but it's also intellectually consistent. Too bad the MRC is much more interested in following the prevailing winds of partisan politics than exhibiting any intellectual honesty.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:46 AM EDT
NEW ARTICLE: Biting The Hand It Feeds
Topic: pays the Associated Press for the privilege of running AP articles on its website -- while it lambasts the AP as "liberal" and rewrites its headlines to add right-wing bias. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 12:08 AM EDT
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
NewsBusters' Double Standard on 'Drive-By' Rhetoric
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 2 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein is verklempt that former car czar Steve Rattner claimed that Ron Suskind's book critical of the Obama administration "amounts to a drive-by shooting of a president." Offering no evidence that the Obama White House sanctioned Rattner's criticism, Finkelstein blamed Obama for it anyway: "Amazing to see President Hope-and-Change descend to this level of politics.  With the economy in tatters and the inspirational shtick abandoned in favor of smear and attack rhetoric, what does Barack Obama have left to run on?"

Finknelstein followed up the next day similarly verklempt that Rattner wouldn't take it back, again grousing that his words "hardly seemed in the spirit of President Obama's pious call, in his much-touted Tucson memorial speech, for people to speak in a way "that heals, not wounds."

Unmentioned by Finkelstein: The biggest conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh, has been using the very same rhetoric for years -- indeed, he takes pride in having coined the phrase "drive-by media." And his employer, the Media Research Center, doesn't discourage it:

  • NewsBusters bashed "the drive-by media that previously downplayed Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos."
  • Limbaugh used the term "drive-by media" during the MRC's 20th anniversary gala in 2007, and nobody criticized him.
  • Additionally, the 2007 MRC annual awards included the category "Drive By Media Award for Shooting at the Competition."
  • In a report on how Limbaugh is purportedly maligned in the media, the MRC approvingly quoted Limbaugh saying, "I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: ‘Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.’ Somebody’s gotta say it."
  • Brent Baker approvingly highlighted "Limbaugh's slam at the drive-by media."

And, hey, look: An October 2007 NewsBusters post by Finkelstein carries the headline "Rush on 'Morning Joe': Drive-By Media Suppress Good Economic News." At no point did Finkelstein get all verklempt about Limbaugh using the term.

Oops! And we haven't even gotten to Finkelstein advancing the intellectual dishonesty of the MRC's flip-flop on Ron Suskind.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:07 PM EDT
Newsmax's Ponte: Christie's Weight Is a Metaphor
Topic: Newsmax

The award for best right-wing spin on Chris Christie's weight goes to Newsmax's Lowell Ponte, who declares in an Oct. 3 column that Christie's fat functions as a metaphor:

President Chris Christie as a role model could help restore health to our body politic by reminding us daily that gluttonous government is obese and must be put on a strict diet to reduce its unhealthy size.

Uh, yeah.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 PM EDT
MRC Hates Canadians -- Except When They're Bashing Obama
Topic: NewsBusters

The folks at the Media Research Center are getting obsessed with how foreigners dislike President Obama.

Last month, it was Noel Sheppard touting the anti-Obama views of some random Canadian. Now, Tim Graham spends a Sept. 30 NewsBusters post telling us what more Canadians think, more than happy to promote a piece with a "striking first sentence" of “Two and a half years into Barack Obama’s presidency, Obamamania has given way to Obamamisery.”

This is funny, because a in a July 19 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker dismisses the opinion of someone who wrote an "effusive, to put it mildly, love letter to Barack Obama" because he is a "Canadian writer." And in an Aug. 15 post, Graham made sure to inform us that a Huffington Post blogger who called NPR neutral was Canadian and that a journalist the blogger quoted was also Canadian.

Apparently, the only time the MRC wants to hear from Canadians is when they're bashing Democrats.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:38 AM EDT
CNS' Jeffrey Baselessly Suggests Obama's Grandmother Wasn't Discriminated Against

Terry Jeffrey, it seems, cares much more about trying to destroy President Obama than he does about telling the truth.

In his latest example of doing so, he writes in an Oct. 3 article:

First Lady Michelle Obama said at a fundraiser in Providence, Rhode Island, on Friday night that a bank where Barack Obama’s grandmother had worked discriminated against her for nearly two decades “because she was a woman.”

However, the Washington Post reported earlier this year that Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, had been the first female vice president of the Bank of Hawaii.

Meanwhile, Barack and Michelle Obamas’ 2009 tax return, posted on the White House website, indicates the Obamas inherited almost $500,000 worth of the bank’s stock from the president’s grandmother.

What does one have to do with the other? Jeffrey never explains. After all, tge fact that Madelyn Dunham ultimately rose to the bank's management and was eventually paid well does not in any way disprove Michelle Obama's statement that Dunham was discriminated against. Indeed, given that sex discrimination was rampant around the time that Dunham was beginning her banking career, Obama's statement has the ring of truth.

In case Jeffrey's slyly accusatory writing wasn't obvious enough, his overly long headline drove his bogus accusation home: "Michelle: Bank Sex-Discriminated Against Barack’s Grandmom; Tax Returns: Barack Inherited $480,908 in Bank's Stock from Bank's VP (His Grandmom)."

Apparently, Jeffrey no longer cares about being a journalist and is devoting his time to being an Obama-hating hack. Anything for a Drudge link, eh?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:07 AM EDT
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Flashback: WND Loves Obama-Nazi Comparisons
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Hank Williams Jr. got some attention this week for claiming that John Boehner playing golf with President Obama was like "Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu." As ESPN dropped Williams' theme song from "Monday Night Football" in response, Williams rushed to apologize.

Of course, going Godwin on Obama is old hat for WorldNetDaily. We've detailed numerous instances of WND columnists repeatedly sliming Obama by likening him to Hitler and other Nazis. Needless to say, Joseph Farah never punished his writers for making the comparison -- if anything, he gave them bonuses.

Not only is that WND's stock in trade, it defended the practice. A Dec. 3, 2009, WND column by Jerry Kane begins by claiming, "Critics who denounce and slander their colleagues for comparing Barack Obama's meteoric rise to power with that of Hitler's are out of ideas or have too much time on their hands." Kane then defends likening Obama to Hitler: "The cult of personality and hysteria for a charismatic orator are frightening parallels between Obama and Hitler. Like Hitler, Obama too is a phenomenal political figure, extraordinary in American politics. No American politician has made such an impression on Americans. He receives excessive admiration and adoration from his admirers reminiscent of hero worship but with a messianic twist." Kane then plays with words by insisting, "Commentators do not say Obama is Hitler, but they do suggest that a dictator can rise in America and bring about a totalitarian state." Kane ignores the fact that those making the comparison -- like the website that published him -- are doing so for denigration purposes, with the intent to undermine his presidency.

Don't expect Williams' punishment to have any chilling effect on WND. Expect quite the opposite -- they'll whine about freedom of speech and ramp up the Obama-Hitler comparisons even more.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:57 PM EDT
WND's Klein Repeats Bogus Guilt-By-Association Attack on Obama Official
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Last week, we noted that WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein had written an article attacking Obama administration official Jonathan Greenblatt for his ties to the Aspen Institute, which he claims "works closely with" George Soros. Klein failed to note that Aspen's board includes right-wing billionaire David Koch.

Klein returns in an Oct. 1 WND article to hurl more guilt-by-assocation attacks against Greenblatt. He repeats his accusation that the Aspen Institute "works closely with Soros and even was reportedly used by the billionaire in a failed attempt to engineer the defeat of President Bush in the 2004 elections." Again, he fails to mention that Koch is on Aspen's board.

At this point, we know enough about Klein to know that such an omission is anything but accidential -- if it runs counter to his anti-Obama agenda, he will ignore it.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:23 PM EDT
CNS Body Count Watch

After curiously skipping August's body count (though making sure to play politics with that month's devastating crash killing 31 Marines), Edwin Mora returns to his monthly attempts to hang the deaths of U.S. troops in Afghanistan around the neck of President Obama. The headline of Mora's Oct. 3 article: "U.S. War Dead in Afghanistan Have Tripled in Less Than 3 Years Under Obama."

As per usual, the word "Iraq" doesn't appear in Mora's article, meaning that Mora has failed yet again to explain that the casualty rate in Iraq at the height of that war is more than double that of the current casualty rate in Afghanistan.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:03 PM EDT
MRC Downplays Craziness of NRA Chief's Obama-Bashing
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 27 NewsBusters post, Media Research Center senior news analyst Scott Whitlock complained that MSNBC's Chris Matthews "included the National Rifle Association as part of the 'crazy far-right' who 'hate' Barack Obama," asserting that Matthews "bizarrely responded" to a clip of NRA president Wayne LaPierre "deriding the President's stated support of the Second Amendment as a 'big, fat lie.'"

But LaPierre said a lot more than that about Obama, which arguably justified Matthews' response. As the transcript Whitlock includes shows, LaPierre declared that there is "a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country."

That's far beyond Whitlock's understated description of LaPierre's remarks, which heclaims is noting more than "suggesting that Obama is no friend of the Second Amendment."

LaPierre is ranting about massive conspiracies, and Whitlock just doesn't want to acknowledge how crazy that sounds.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:41 AM EDT
WND Works With 'Austria’s Most Notorious Abortionist' To Fearmonger About Vaccine
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his latest attempt to fearmonger about the HPV vaccine, Bob Unruh writes in an Oct. 2 WorldNetDaily article:

Dr. Christian Fiala, who successfully fought the use of the drug in Austria, told WND this week "there is no proof of a causal relationship of HPV and cervical cancer (correlation is not necessarily causation) and there is no evidence that HPV vaccine reduces the overall number of cervical cancer (cases)."

In an email, Fiala called the HPV vaccination plan "a money-making machine without any benefit for patients. But some inherent risks."

Officials report that there have been 17,500 or more "adverse" incident reports that have been made over the last few years because of the use of the vaccination.

Fiala, who fought the idea of vaccination with Gardasil as part of a national health standard in Austria, says he was targeted by the vaccine developers for his findings.

"The doctors involved in vaccine development submitted an official complaint ... accusing me of doing harm to the image of doctors," Fiala said. "The investigation did not go far, because I could show that I fully respect evidence based on medicine. Therefore, the investigation was closed. But it could have cost me the right to [practice] medicine. It was meant as a threat."

Unruh doesn't tell us anything more about Fiala than that. Which is too bad, because it's a fascinating story.

First up, Fiala performs abortions in Austria -- making for a very strange bedfellow for the anti-abortion WND on this story.

And that's not all: The even more anti-abortion website LifeSiteNews penned an article in 2008 calling Fiala "Austria’s most notorious abortionist," claiming that anti-abortion protesters are "enduring his latest infliction of demonic psychological terror from paid clinic escorts, who have in the past abused and assaulted both physically and sexually the praying peaceful protestors."

After claiming without evidence that Fiala's escorts "sexually abuse male and female protestors under his supervision," the article serves up this description of Fiala:

The most notorious and well-known abortionist in Austria, Dr. Christian Fiala has made his life’s work the advancement of abortion in Austria and Europe. He is the chairman of the International Association of Abortion and Contraception Specialists and directs the well-known Gynmed abortion clinics in Vienna and Salzburg. Fiala’s brainchild, the Museum of Abortion and Contraception opened in Vienna in March 2007, and catalogues a history of human effort through the ages devoted to suppressing or destroying the next generation of human life in the womb.

Why would WND team up with an apparently notorious abortion doctor? The rest of Fiala's record may provide an answer to his appeal to WND.

Fiala's denial of the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine is of a piece with his views on HIV and AIDS. In a 2003 article, Fiala claimed that the rate of HIV and AIDS in Africa was grossly overstated because "the major symptom criteria in the African definition for AIDS" is thte same as for diarrhea. Similarly, he has claimed that there is no heterosexual AIDS epidemic in Africa because the population of Uganda has continued to increase despite large numbers of claimed HIV cases there, stating that "the almost hysterical focus on HIV/AIDS in Africa has done much harm over the last two decades."

According an article at the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice, Fiala also appears  in a documentary thatclaims to "poses basic concerns about the actual definitions of those acronyms, the reliability and meaning of HIV tests, the difficulty of HIV transmission, the isolation of HIV, and whether the drugs prescribed to people said to be 'HIV-positive' actually extend their lives or hasten their deaths."

You may remember that the OMSJ -- which appears to deny that HIV and AIDS actually exists -- was cited by Unruh in an earlier article attempting to fearmonger about the HPV vaccine. He repeats many of those fringe claims in his new article, include inflated, unverified claims of deaths caused by the vaccine.

He again hypes that "there have been 17,500 or more 'adverse' incident reports that have been made over the last few years because of the use of the vaccination" without providing any context for the claim.As we've previously noted, the rate of serious adverse effects from taking the HPV vaccine is far lower than that of a single specific adverse reaction to ibuprofen.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:13 AM EDT
Monday, October 3, 2011
When Will NewsBusters Correct Its $16 Muffin Post?
Topic: NewsBusters

A current entry in the "Editor's Picks" on the NewsBusters front page reads, "Washington Post ombudsman refutes media-hyped $16 muffin."

It links to an Oct. 2 Post column by ombudsman Patrick Pexton, who writes that he thought the story of the $16 muffin fowarded by the Department of Justice's inspector "was just a bit too good to be true" -- a suspicion that turned out to be entirely correct. He took Post reporters to task for running with the story without first contacting the hotel where the conference serving the muffins took place for its reaction. The receipts examined by the IG were imprecise, the hotel pointed out, and that the actual cost was $14.72 for both breakfast and an afternoon snack.

In attacking the muffin story as "media hyped," NewsBusters fails to mention that among the media doing the hyping was NewsBusters. As we've detailed, a Sept. 29 post by Noel Sheppard uncritically repeated the $16 muffin story, even though by that time the hotel had provided its own explanation -- and shortly before the DOJ IG itself backed off the claim.

Now that NewsBusters admits the muffin story is bogus, when will it correct Sheppard's post? And when it does, will it publish that correction prominently on the NewsBusters front page, where Sheppard's post first appeared and where NewsBusters' previously stated stance on publishing corrections on the same page the original article appeared on would dictate? Or will it bury it in Sheppard's days-old post and hopes nobody notices?

Posted by Terry K. at 7:19 PM EDT
Cowardly WND Won't Link to Esquire's Reponse To Its Lawsuit
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 30 WorldNetDaily article details WND's response to "Esquire magazine's contention that WND's $250 million defamation case should be dismissed as a frivolous."

What, you didn't know that Esquire had responded to WND's lawsuit? That likely came as news to WND's readers, since WND had studiously ignored its existence until filing its own response.

And WND doesn't want you knowing anything more about Esquire's response that what it wants you to know, because it provides no link to the document in the article, even though it's easily available online.

And if you look at that document, you'll notice that it's dated Aug. 26 -- which means that WND refused to tell its readers about its existence for more than a month, even though WND purports to be a "news" website and Esquire's filing would presumably qualify as "news" important to its readers.

WND is certainly acting like it has something to hide here, like it did when, despite our urging, it refused to post filings on its website during Clark Jones' libel lawsuit against WND -- a lawsuit it settled before trial by admitting what it reported about Jones was completely false, thus avoiding a courtroom defeat.

Skimming over WND's response, we see one obviously cognitively dissonant claim.  At one point, the response argues that Esquire "cannot legitimately contend" that WND editor Joseph Farah and reporter Jerome Corsi are "public figures" for whom the bar of libel and defamation is higher. But elsewhere, the document declares that Farah and Corsi "have not only become 'world-renowned' but have also become the 'go-to' source for information regarding the President’s qualifications and the release of a potentially fraudulent birth certificate." Admitting that you're "world-renowned" would seem to be admission of public prominence that makes you a "public figure," does it not?

At the end of the article, WND helpfully includes links to the video of its June press conference announcing its lawsuit, which gives you another opportunity to watch Farah shut down the press conference rather than answer my question about whether WND-affiliated lawyers supplied Tim Adams with an affidavit for him to sign, as he has claimed.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:53 PM EDT

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