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Monday, September 7, 2015
AIM's Kincaid Pretty Much The Only One Defending O'Keefe Now
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Project Veritas provocateur and convicted criminal James O'Keefe unveiled his latest trolling operation last week, which consisted of an O'Keefe operative serving as a moderating party between a Hillary Clinton campaign merch table operator and someone who claimed to be Canadian who wanted to buy a couple of Hillary T-shirts, then claiming this was a massive scandal of foreign contributions to Hillary's campaign.

This was so embarrassing, even many conservative outlets ignored the story, and the right-wing Daily Caller pretty much mocked it.

But not Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid. "The law says that foreigners are strictly prohibited from contributing to U.S. political campaigns, and O’Keefe had dramatic evidence of the campaign law violation. The video was played on a television screen for all to see," he thundered in a Sept. 1 column, which was curiously silent about the exact nature of what happened. He complained that media outlets mocked O'Keefe (not mentioning the right-wing outlets that also mocked and ignored O'Keefe), then thundered again:

But those distortions won’t suffice when the video evidence itself can be seen by millions, telling the real story that some in the media try to conceal. As Project Veritas emphasized, the video shows Molly Barker, the Director of Marketing for Hillary Clinton’s national campaign, knowingly breaking campaign finance law by accepting a straw donation from a foreign national.

Kincaid didn't mention that if Hillary's campaign broke the law, O'Keefe's organization did as well.  As the Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi pointed out, Project Veritas broke the law twice by invervening in the transaction between the campaign and the alleged Canadian (Project Veritas doesn't know the identity of the that person, let alone if the person is actually Canadian) and by having its operative make the transaction under a false name.

But the facts don't matter to Kincaid, who declared that "the great number of journalists who showed up was an indication that, when it comes to Hillary, nobody really knows how serious the law-breaking will get. O’Keefe suggested that more evidence against the campaign is yet to come."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:50 PM EDT
Sunday, September 6, 2015
A Short History of the MRC's Semi-Birtherism
Topic: Media Research Center

Bryan Ballas complains in a Sept. 2 NewsBusters post that the Washington Post did an article on right-wing pastor Rafael Cruz's assertion that his son, Sen. Ted Cruz, is eligible to run for president, blaming the author for bringing up "a long settled birther issue" (never mind that it was Rafael Cruz who brought it up and that the Post is merely reporting what he said). Ballas further complained that the Post article noted that "Rafael Cruz himself has made birtheresque jabs at President Obama," adding, "One can only hope this was a filler piece and not the first sign of a long pattern of birther mud slinging."

So the Media Research Center has now decided that birther conspiracy theories are "mud slinging"? That's interestiing, because the MRC never really took that aggressive of a stance regarding birtherism as applied to Obama. While the MRC didn't exactly further Obama birtherism, it also did little to counter it.

Let's take a look back at how the MRC handled Obama birtherism, which mixes semi-denouncements with semi-endorsements:

  • A 2009 post by Clay Waters grumbled that the New York Times "questioned those questioning Obama's birth certificate, his citizenship, and his resulting eligibility for the presidency" while purportedly showing "far more respect to a conspiracy theory many times more incendiary and implausible: That the 9-11 attacks were an inside job, that the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were engineered by President Bush."
  • Another 2009 post by Waters complained that the Times columnist Frank Rich "smeared the Birthers as racist with no evidence." Waters added: "Conspiratorial and wrong? Fair enough. But there's nothing necessarily racist about believing Obama was born in Kenya instead of Hawaii." It was not until 2011 that Waters finally admitted that birtherism is "discredited," and even then Waters was still trying to equivocate by bringing up 9-11 truthers, which no serious Democratic presidential candidate, actual or potential, has ever brought up, unlike with Republicans and birthers.
  • Noel Sheppard took offense in 2009 when someone called Lou Dobbs, then with CNN, an "immigrant-hating, birther-supporting zealot," refusing to admit that birtherism was extreme: "It sure is fascinating watching all manner of media member attack anyone that has the nerve to question the new President, isn't it?"
  • Sheppard took a somewhat different view in a 2011 post complaining that MSNBC "cherry-picked something Mike Huckabee said on Steve Malzberg's radio show in order to depict the possible Republican presidential candidate as a birther" -- but then said it was "relevant" to question why Obama had purportedly refused to release his personal records, which includes his longform birth cert ificate (which hadn't yet been released at the time of this post). Shappard also uncritically repeated Huckabee's assertion that he "disavows birthers" on the first page of his book "A Simple Government." In fact, Huckabee did no such thing; all Huckabee does on the first page is acknowledge that critics claim Obama is "lying about his citizenship" and adds that his book won't be about that because "I don't like to make politics personal."
  • Also in 2011, Mark Finkelstein took exception to columnist Charles Blow's claim that Donald Trump should not be allowed to spout his birther views on TV because "we know that this is not true": "Consider Blow's curious suggestion that the MSM collectively knows various things to be true, and should ban those who disagree.  What else does the MSM 'know is not true'?  Who else should it collectively ban from TV?"
  • In a May 2011 post, it was MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham who was rushing to the defense of the allegation that birthers were racists, asserting that the allegation was "unproven."
  • When its benign birtherism/non-birtherism didn't wash, the MRC also took the interesting position of blaming birtherism on the media -- the "liberal" media, of course, not right-wing outlets like WorldNetDaily who actively promoted birtherism. A 2009 post by Jeff Poor cheered on Rep. Michele Bachmann's assertion that "the left" is pushing birther questions (and her utter lie that "You don't hear people on the right bringing this issue up") under the headline "Bachmann Makes It Clear Who Is Driving the 'Birther' Train: The Media." (WND highlights Bachmann on its "big list of eligibility 'proofers'," which shows that WND considered her an ally to its birther cause.)
  • In a 2012 post, Scott Whitlock calls birther claims "untrue" and notes that CNN's Jake Tapper has pointed this out -- but he's mad that Tapper pointed out that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned with Trump without denouncing those "untrue" claims. Later on in the presidential campaign, Brent Baker whined that news outlets "pounced on Romney for daring to make a birth certificate joke." Baker didn't offer his view on the leigitimacy of birtherism.
  • Jeffrey Meyer used a 2012 post to complain that MSNBC's Chris Matthews "decided to hurl a ridiculous question about birtherism" to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, calling it "an issue that numerous Republicans have disavowed since the beginning."
  • Sheppard took extreme offense to MSNBC's Joan Walsh pointing out that the right-wing Breitbart website had sunk "lower than Andrew Breitbart" by advancing birther claims: "Does Walsh have absolutely no shame or respect for the dead? Is nothing sacred when it comes to getting Barack Obama reelected?" Apparently, birtherism was OK with Sheppard as long as one didn't invoke a dead person's name in criticizing it.
  • Matt Vespa complained in 2013 that "Birtherism isn't all that bad to the liberal media when a rising conservative star may be the target." He then bizarrely blamed birtherism on the media: "If only the press suspended their affection for the 44th president, and wrote these articles affirming Obama’s eligibility – and he is eligible – then perhaps we would’ve been spared the idiocy of Orly Taitz, Joesph Farah, and others, who gave some in the media to label the conservative movement as racist."

Vespa is being dishonest by suggesting that non-conservative media ignored the birther issue: was pointing out that Obama's birth certificate was genuine as far back as August 2008, and the Associated Press reported in November 2008 that the state of Hawaii confirmed that Obama was born there.

If only the MRC had suspended its hatred for the 44th president and wrote articles affirming Obama's eligibility, it would be more likely that the "idiocy" of Taitz, Farah, et al, could have been kept from tarring the right-wing media. But it did not -- after all, letting the accusation hang so that the president was damaged by it was more important than building the credibility of right-wing media.

That strategy has come back to haunt right-wing media as a whole and the MRC in particular. Because the sections of right-wing media that fancy themselves more "respectable," like the MRC (not to mention Fox News, which was also a promoter of birther claims), wouldn't aggressively shoot down the birther conspiracies, birtherism has remained an issue. The MRC's silence back then means it has little basis to complain now.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:11 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 6, 2015 8:16 PM EDT
Saturday, September 5, 2015
CNS Unemployment Numbers Distortion Watch
Topic: has apparently given up on the multi-article attack in promoting bad news and burying or censoring good news about unemployment rates.

As it did last month, CNS' coverage of the latest unemployment numbers is a single article by Susan Jones that spends several paragraphs obsessing over labor participation rates and buying the actual news -- that 173,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1. percent -- to a bullet item at the end of the article.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:23 PM EDT
Friday, September 4, 2015
CNS Editor Endorses Violating The Rule Of Law

Terry Jeffrey's Sept. 2 column carries a headline in the form of an extremely dumb question? "Can a Christian Be a County Clerk in America?"

To any reasonable person, the answer to that is an unqualified yes -- in fact, we can probably take it as a given that the vast majority of county clerks in America are Christian.

But the actual issue here is whether a self-proclaimed Christian in public office has the right to deny public services based on her personal religious beliefs. And Jeffrey has apparently decided that only a Christian who denies the existence of gay rights, or gays period, is the only true Christian, and everyone else is not a real Christian at all.

Which, of course, means that Jeffrey is defending Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis for denying a marriage license for a same-sex marriage, even though it is legal across the country.Jeffrey presents Davis as "a devout Christian, with a moral problem," making sure not to mention the fact that she has been married four times. (Davis' lawyers claim her past doesn't matter.)

Jeffrey whines: "The crusade against Davis aims to establish that if you are a Christian, who believes in Christ's teachings on marriage and will not act against them, you are no longer qualified to serve as a county clerk in the United States."

Jeffrey ignores the fact that Davis' personal preferences are denying the civil rights of others, not to mention violating the rule of law -- something that conservatives normally oppose. Indeed, anti-gay conservatives like Jeffrey have not been rushing to defend Davis:

  • Anti-gay activist Maggie Gallagher states, “There is no way to maintain the rule of law if public officials can ignore direct court orders.”
  • Ryan Anderson, who just wrote a book on "the future of marriage and religious liberty," admits: "The citizens of Rowan County have a right to receive in a timely and efficient manner the various government provisions—including licenses—to which they are entitled. ... Saying your religion requires your entire office to stop issuing marriage licenses to everyone, while perhaps a sincere belief, cannot be reasonably accommodated without placing undue hardships on the citizens unable to receive their licenses in their county and forced to drive to another."

Jeffrey also has a rigidly dogmatic view of Christianity, one that many other Christian denominations do not share. Most Christian denominations do not teach their believers to deny gays civil rights that have been granted by the state. nor do they demand that parishoners who hold public office use that office to enforce church policy.

Thus, Jeffrey's defense of Davis breaks down because it's extremely situational. It doesn't apply to anyone who doesn't share his personal beliefs -- that is, anyone not as rigidly dogmatic, Christian, or anti-gay as he and Davis are. We suspect that a person in public office who was not a dogmatic Christian -- say, a Muslim -- who was using the office to forward his religious views would get quite a different reaction from Jeffrey.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:45 AM EDT
Thursday, September 3, 2015
The ConWeb's 'Porn Addiction' Defense for Josh Duggar
Topic: The ConWeb

The ConWeb is seeking to absolve Josh Duggar of responsibility for his actions -- which include molesting his sisters and having an account at the affair-facilitating Ashley Madison website -- by promoting the right-wing idea that pornography is addictive, which is what Duggar himself blamed his behavior on (until he didn't).

In an Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily article, Greg Corombos interviews professional gay-basher Matt Barber, who gets space to blame Duggar's woes on porn, declaring it "a gateway drug that leads people to act on their fantasies." and insisting that the mere act of viewing pornography is adultery.

Because Barber is also an Obama-basher, he drags politics into the issue, lamenting that "The problem in this Obama administration is there is no one at the Department of Justice who has any interest in going after obscene material and going after these pornographers and so forth."

Meanwhile, an Aug. 27 article by Penny Starr claimed that "Addiction to pornography affects millions of men and women in the United States, and many of those people identify themselves as Christians, according to a 2014 survey produced by a Christian organization dedicated to fighting pornography and sexual addiction." But the survey never defines, medical-wise or otherwise, what it means by "addiction" (other than a question to respondents if they thought they were addicted to pornography "based on your understanding of an 'addiction'") and seems to suggest that its definition of an "addict" is someone who views pornography as infrequently as once a month.

Starr's article doesn't mention Duggar, but it's clear that the article was written in response to Duggar's situation, to which CNS has devoted no original coverage.

Meanwhile, actual experts in the field generally dismiss the idea that pornography can be an "addiction," at least as we understand how addictions work. The Huffington Post reports:

A large study from neuroscientists at UCLA found that when people are shown erotic images, the brain's normal addiction reactions are reversed.

In the brain, porn "addiction" looks the opposite of addictions like cocaine, smoking cigarettes and gambling -- and therefore should be treated with different therapies.

Typically, addicts show increased brain reactions to the object of addiction. However, the new findings, which were published this week in the journal Biological Psychology, showed that people who struggled with excessive pornography consumption had decreased brain reactions when viewing porn.


So if porn functions differently from other addictions, as the findings suggest, it would be logical for them to be treated differently.

"Some people clearly struggle to regulate their porn viewing habits, but it is important to know why," Dr. Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist at the university and the study's lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email. "Calling it an 'addiction' may be harming patients, so we should require healthcare workers to provide treatments supported by research."

What, actual research on the subject? The ConWeb won't cotton to that.

But articles avoid the idea that Duggar may not actually be "addicted" to porn after all, despite what he sorta claims. As Bill Maher suggested, maybe he's "just horny" and isn't "cut out to be married."

The ConWeb won't buy that either -- not as long as it needs to get prominent Christians off the hook for their sex-fueled behavior  by blaming it on a mythical "addiction."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:24 PM EDT
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
WND Will Keep Selling Work of Pastor (And Farah Buddy) Imprisoned for Fraud
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Add another shelf-length entry to WorldNetDaily's fraud-laden bookstore.

In an Aug. 19 WND article, Leo Hohmann reports on Jim Staley, "a Bible teacher and pastor with an international ministry pleaded guilty to 11 counts of financial wire fraud earlier this year and was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in federal prison." Here's Hohmann's account of Staley's crime:

He got into trouble in 2007 while working as a financial adviser, more than three years before he became a full-time pastor. He began selling a life-insurance product that he says he was told was fully insured against loss. It was not. When the market crashed in 2008, the investment was wiped out. And along with it went more than $3.3 million from investors who bought the product through Staley.

This is followed a couple paragraphs later by a statement from the FBI, which pretty much contradicts Hohmann's light-touch telling. It points out that Staley "was well aware that if B & B [Equity, the company for which Staley worked] was unable to secure a buyer for the bundled insurance policies that his clients would lose all their monies invested in the Premium Financing product sold by B & B."

Hohmann also hides the fact that while Staley may not have been a "full-time minister" at the time he sold those life-insurance products, he was trading on his Christian credentials to sell them. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that according to a U.S. attorney on the case, Staley's victims were elderly, and some invested because he was a “nice religious man” who referred to at least several by endearing terms such as “Grandma.”

Hohmann is also silent on Staley's financial problems, which raised red flags among some former supporters. His home was foreclosed on, the Post-Dispatch reported, and he admitted refusing to pay income taxes for years. At the time of his indictement, Staley and his family lived in a 5,000-square-foot, $1 million home he claimed to be renting from a former pro baseball player.

Hohmann never reports that Staley has accepted responsibility for his crimes --  that's because he hasn't. The Post-Dispatch reports that Staley continued to deny responsibility even after entering his guilty plea, and he has repaid just $1,950 -- a tiny fraction of the $3.3 million in restitution he owes to victims -- despite an annual church compensation of $127,000.

But here's where it gets real interesting. Hohmann notes that Staley "taught the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith and has many of his teaching DVDs and books for sale in the WND Superstore." Later in his article, he adds:

Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND, said the company will continue to sell Staley’s teaching videos and books.

“Jim Staley is one of the most gifted Bible teachers I know,” he said. “It’s unfortunate he is being punished for something that took place a long time ago, long before he entered the ministry – charges for which he was previously investigated and cleared by state authorities. I pray Jim comes through this and will be able to hold his family together in this time of great challenge.”

So it seems that Hohmann's whitewashing of Staley's crimes comes straight from his boss (who never explains where and how Staley was "cleared by state authorities"). And why not? Staley and Farah are apparently buddies.

Staley interviewed "my good friend" Farah in a 2011 video, where Farah effusively endorses Staley's ministry and "Sabbath-keeping" teaching: "I believe the Holy Spirit is working through Jim Staley, Passion for Truth Ministries and is doing something across the body of Christ right now in a very real and tangible way." Farah praises the"non-offensive, non-confrontational" way Staley teaches, a way "right out of the Bible that makes it very hard to refute."Farah also touted Staley's "vision for really expanding the audience" and declared that "we need to do everything we can to promote, to prosper Passion for Truth Ministries," and that "it's time to open up the checkbook and let our checkbooks do our thank-yous and our feedback because we're all part of the Passion for Truth Ministries family right now."

Farah went on to pledge WND's resources to "do everything we can to promote your ministry, to promote your events gratis," telling Staley: "I do consider you to be my pastor now because I don't have a local congregation that sees the truth like we do."

So of course Farah wouldn't admit Staley's fraud -- he's too personally invested in Staley to see the truth.

Meanwhile, Staley's videos remain on sale at WND -- another fraudster on WND's bookshelf.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:53 PM EDT
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
How WND Made A Religious Debate -- And A Teacher's Life -- Worse
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Salon excerpts a book by Linda Wertheimer abou teaching religion in a age of tolerance, focusing on an incident in which a teacher in a small Texas school district tried to teach children about Islam and the Middle East, in part, by bringing in a burqa and letting children try it on. The teacher also asked her students to look at examples of political violence around the world and decide if the agitators were freedom fighters or terrorists, in order to demonstrate that perceptions can change from person to person. The teacher had conducted the lesson for years without incident -- until WorldNetDaily found out about it:

The first story broke on a conservative blog, WorldNetDaily, on February 24, 2013. Headlined “Students Made to Wear Burqas—in Texas,” the story linked the burka lesson to a Texas online curriculum that conservatives had attacked for allegedly having a pro-Islam bias. But Peters’s lessons predated the creation of that curriculum, which provides lesson plans to teachers. WorldNetDaily, quoting unnamed students, contended Peters told her students that she was supposed to teach them to refer to Muslims as freedom fighters rather than terrorists. 

Indeed, the WND article by John Griffing contains no named sources, apparently relying on the claims of a single anonymous "student in the class" to back up his claim that students were "made to wear burqas." Griffing made no apparent attempt to contact the school district, further making a mockery of WND editor Joseph Farah's laughable insistence that his reporters "are always encouraged and required to seek out multiple sources and contrary viewpoints in news articles."

Griffing tied the incident (the facts of which he got wrong) to his larger attack on a lesson plan on Islam that was used in Texas schools -- which, as we've documented, was based on a discredited, misinformation-laden chain email.

To our knowledge, WND has never corrected any of the misinformation in Griffing's articles.

Wertheimer reported that as a result of the misinformation spread about the lesson by WND and others, strangers sent e-mails accusing the teacher and the school system of corrupting children and attempting to convert them to Islam. The teacher -- who pointed out there was only one burqa, not several as WND's Griffing suggested -- felt as if her entire 39-year teaching career was under attack and chose to retire at the end of the school year.

WND seems to think it can move blithely, that the misinformation and lies it spreads have no consequences in the real world. But in Texas in 2013, it resulted in unwarranted hate mail and the end of a teacher's career.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:11 PM EDT
MRC's Laughably Anti-Sanger Censorship Crusade of Lies and Out-of-Context Quotes
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's crusade to censor an art exhibit at the Smithsonian by demanding that a bust of Margaret Sanger be forcibly removed from the building -- a crusade MRC has used its "news" division to promote despite the breaches of journalistic ethics this has brought about -- is little more than kneejerk right-wing ranting that relies on lies and out-of-context quotes.

More evidence of this comes in the MRC's email campaign trying to get its followers to endorse its censorship effort. Check out this bit of ranting and egregiously out-of-context quotes the MRC servedup in an Aug. 26 email:

Margaret Sanger was arguably the largest advocate of eugenics in United States history, and her influence lives on in the 700 Planned Parenthood abortion clinics throughout the country -- 79 percent of which are located in predominantly black and Hispanic communities.

Eugenics (the notion and practice of removing “unfit” members of society through selective breeding and sterilization) was Sanger’s largest and most lasting crusade. Here are some of her controversial statements on the matter:

  • “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."
  • “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."
  • “I believe that there should be no more babies.”

The first quote is a favorite for Sanger-haters to take out of context. As we've pointed out, states that that quote belongs in the context of Sanger saying that a minister could debunk the notion, if it arose, that the clinics that were a part of her "Negro Project" bringing birth control to black women in the South aimed to “exterminate the Negro population.” The Washington Post notes that this quote "is frequently taken out of context to suggest Sanger was seeking to exterminate blacks."

The second quote is heavily edited. According to Wikipedia, the full quote is: "Knowledge of birth control is essentially moral. Its general, though prudent, practice must lead to a higher individuality and ultimately to a cleaner race." While the MRC champions individuality,it would rather that be applied to conservative principles and not a woman thinking for herself.

The final quote is ludicrously out of context. It's taken from a 1947 interview in which Sanger was asked about an earlier statement that European women should refrain from having babies for 10 years (this being after a world war that devastated much of Europe). She clarified her answer by saying (the MRC's quote in italics), "Well I suppose a subject like that is really so personal that it is entirely up to the parents to decide, but from my view, I believe there should be no more babies in starving countries for the next ten years."

The MRC's commitment to lying about Sanger starts from the top. In his speech at the tiny pro-censorship rally, MRC chief Brent Bozell -- who also heads ForAmerica, a right-wing group that worked with the right-wing black pastors who are purportedly leading the censorship effort -- said

"Planned Parenthood and others inside this building want to pretend that what we really don't know," said Bozell. We do know. She wrote books, she gave speeches, she wrote letters. She organized organizations like the Negro Project to eradicate blacks, why? Because you weren't quite, human. You were weeds, you were waste. And that couldn't stand in a fixed society. Ladies and gentlemen so did Goebbels. He thought the exact same thing and did the exact same thing through eugenics.”

In fact, there's no evidence Sanger sought to "eradicate blacks" or considered them "weeds" or "waste." As fact-checkers have noted, while Sanger likely held paternalistic attitudes toward blacks that were common during her lifetime, there's no evidence she was an avowed racist or that she coerced black women into using birth control.

And Bozell's eagerness to liken Sanger to Nazis, in addition to being counterfactual -- she was a member of an anti-Nazi committee and claimed her books were burned in Nazi Germany -- it's rather hilarious given the MRC's current outrage over Hillary Clinton making an apparent Nazi allusion about Donald Trump. Apparently, only conservatives are allowed to go Godwin.

The MRC also gave a free past to far-right pastor E.W. Jackson, who lied that Sanger “was a white supremacist” and screeched that “If Margaret Sanger had her way MLK and Rosa Parks would have never been born.” While CNS prominently promoted those statements, it refused to fact-check them because that rally was created by the MRC and ForAmerica for the apparent sole purpose of having CNS cover it as "news," and since it's part of the MRC's propaganda machine, fact-checking a conservative who's spouting the MRC's agenda is not "news" at CNS -- even though Jackson, who claims to be a Christian pastor, is telling demonstrable lies.

But a Christian pastor being caught in a lie is not "news" at CNSNews, just like the right-wing Christian Josh Duggar's peccadilloes were buried as far down as one could do so until we shamed CNS into a little honest coverage.

Again: CNS is simply the MRC's right-wing agenda put into news-article form. Its role as a player in the MRC's Sanger censorship attempt and insistence on presenting lies as truth and refusing to hold the liars accountable is all the evidence one needs of that.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:47 PM EDT
Monday, August 31, 2015
NewsBusters' Dylan Gwinn Whiffs Again
Topic: NewsBusters

Poor Dylan Gwinn. He doesn't seem to know when to give it up.

Gwinn's nasty, uninformed sports-themed blog stylings continue in an Aug. 25 NewsBusters post defending ex-baseball player Curt Schilling's tweet likening Muslims to Nazis, which earned Schilling a suspension from ESPN:

Schilling may understand the reasons for his suspension. Yet, they remain a mystery to me. There is nothing factually inaccurate with the message of the tweet. It in no way compares “Muslims” to Nazis. It compares the number of Muslim “extremists” to the number of German extremists, with the point being that whether you accept the math or not, extremists need not have a numerical majority in any one country or religion in order to take control, and create catastrophic results for the rest of the world.

Which, is absolutely true.

Actually, it's not -- both Schilling and Gwinn got it wrong. As Vox explains:

Muslims are by far the number-one victims of extremist groups such as ISIS: They are the most likely to be killed by ISIS, and they are the most likely to actively fight ISIS. Nazi-era Germans, on the other hand, overwhelmingly supported and fought for the Nazi regime. So in fact the relationship between Nazi-era Germans and Nazi crimes is the exact opposite of the relationship between Muslims and ISIS.

Nevertheless, Gwinn concludes his post by writing, "But of course, truth is always the first casualty." Only in your work, dude.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:16 PM EDT
Deception: CNS Hides MRC's Links To Anti-Sanger Rally It Promoted
Topic: covered the bejeezus out of a tiny rally of "almost two dozen black pastors and leaders of the pro-life movement" demanding that a bust of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger be removed from a Smithsonian exhibit. There was a main article by Penny Starr and Lauretta Brown and five more articles isolating comments by rally speakers.

What's missing from those articles: full disclosure of how much CNS' parent organization and its president contributed to the rally.

The main article identifies rally speaker Brent Bozell only as "chairman of For America." But Starr and Brown failed to mention the important fact that Bozell is also president of CNS' parent, the Media Research Center and is, in fact, at the top of CNS' masthead. (The two articles focused on Bozell's comments do not this, but not until the end of the article.)

Further, none of the six CNS articles mention the fact its parent organization is leading a campaign to get the bust removed.

An Aug. 26 email by the "MRC Action Team" cherry-picked "controversial statements" by Sanger that are ripped out of context, adding:

[A] coalition of black pastors has petitioned the Smithsonian Institute to remove a prominent bust of Sanger from the Congressionally-funded National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. The bust of Sanger appears as part of their “Struggle for Justice” exhibit along with baseball player Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

However, the National Portrait Gallery has refused to comply with this request and continues to memorialize someone who is highly controversial and extremely offensive.

That is why we need your help by calling the Smithsonian Institute directly and asking them to remove this bust!

This was followed by a phone number for the Smithsonian where people can "be sure to let them know that our taxpayer dollars should not be used to honor a woman who wanted to exterminate everyone that she deemed 'unfit'."

The next day, the MRC sent out another email describing how "MRC Action launched a campaign" to remove Sanger's bust, proudly proclaiming that "Over 700 calls poured into the office of the head of The Smithsonian yesterday, prompting them to call and ask that we stop."

That was followed on Aug. 28 by a third email touting more alleged phone calls (it'snever stated how the MRC knows how many people called) and stating, "We cannot stop these calls until the taxpayer-funded bust of Margaret Sanger is removed!" (The MRC offered no evidence that the existence of the Sanger bust is "taxpayer-funded.")

Meanwhile, the Bozell-led For America -- which purports to be a separate organization from the MRC but appears to share the MRC's office address in Reston, Va. -- promoted its role in the rally: "The concerted effort joined ForAmerica with a coalition of black pastors and included a protest in front of the gallery this morning as well as a social media campaign that made “#BustRacism” a trending hashtag."

It looks to us that the MRC and For America, which shares a leader with the MRC, collaborated with the small group of black pastors -- who, as we've noted, appear to already be collaborating with CNS and reporter Penny Starr by uncritically promoting their lie-filled attacks on Sanger -- to manufacture a small event for the main, if not sole, purpose of giving CNS something to cover as "news," which it proceeded to do well beyond its importance.

If true -- and it sure looks that way; the MRC is free to speak up and untangle all of the behind-the-scenes self-dealing that appears to be going on -- CNS is engaging in a serious breach of journalistic ethics, and its failure to fully and honestly disclose its relationship to the rally's organizers makes the situation worse.

As a result, it's painfully clear that CNS is not an independent news organization, it's not a news organization at all -- it's just another cog in the MRC's right-wing propaganda machines. There's simply no reason to any sane person to treat it as legitimate.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:52 AM EDT
Sunday, August 30, 2015
If Media 'Owns' TV Station Shooting, WND Owns Charleston Massacre
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From an Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily article:

Black leader, author and commentator Jesse Lee Peterson is charging the mainstream media bears partial responsibility for the charged circumstances that allowed the on-air murder of a television reporter and her cameraman in Virginia this week. Peterson, an African-American civil-rights leader, talk radio host and WND columnist, believes the media has been stoking the fires of black-on-white racial hatred.

Pointing to the media’s coverage of the recent church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, Peterson argued the press is creating an uncontrollable sense of anger among many blacks.

“To understand how lethal this anger can be, it might pay to look at the phenomenon of the black mass murderer,” Peterson told WND. “You say, what? Black mass murderer? If you are like a lot of people, you think mass murder is a white thing. The media encourage you to do so. This is a riff you hear occasionally from black comics as well, but the perception results from the way the media treat black serial killers, not from the reality on the ground.”


Jack Cashill, a WND columnist and the author of “Scarlet Letters: The Ever Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism,” went even farther than Peterson.

“The media own this tragedy,” Cashill stated bluntly. “For years, they have suppressed the ample news of black on white crime, trumpeted the rare news of white and black crime, and stoked a sense of grievance among black Americans.”


Colin Flaherty, a reporter who has written extensively on racially motivated crimes against whites and the author of “White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It,” agrees “it is absolutely fair to say the mainstream media enabled the black racial hostility that contributed to these murders.”

Unmentioned by WND: Using this same standard, WND is partially responsible for the Charleston massacre.

As we've documented, massacre suspect Dylann Roof's racist rhetoric includes an obsession with George Zimmerman, black-on-white crime and apartheid-era South Africa -- all subjects promoted by WND.

We've also noted that WND did not cover the Charleston massacre the way it's covering the killing of the WDBJ reporters -- as the above article demonstrates, it's playing up the racial aspects of the manifesto of black WDBJ killer Vester Flanagan while burying the white supremacist aspects of Roof's manifesto -- the above image on Flanagan's manfesto has no equivalent in WND's coverage of Roof. WND even dispatched Cashill to claim Roof didn't actually write his manifesto. (Funny, we don't see Cashill doing any writing analysis of Flanagan's manifesto, do we?)

This is the WND editorial agenda as approved from the top. Editor Joseph Farah wrote in his Aug. 27 column:

Why do you suppose Barack Obama was so quick to jump to conclusions about potential racial motivations behind the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, when there were none, and so slow to do so in the case of Vester Lee Flanagan, where they are documented by the attacker himself?

Do I need to explain the difference?

The man who killed Michael Brown was a white police officer acting in self-defense. Any potential for him to continue his career path as a law enforcement officer was doomed by the actions of Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, who sent a legion of investigators to Ferguson to see that justice was done. At the end of the day, Holder was reluctantly forced by the facts on the ground to conclude the white police officer acted justifiably under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, the man who killed reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward was a gay, black man who let the entire world know the motivations for his cold-blooded murders – racial hatred and a vague contention that he had been offended by something his two former colleagues said or did with regard to his identification as “gay.”

Here we have two stark contrasts in cases of shootings involving whites and blacks. There are, of course, hundreds of examples like these. But I am first and mainly interested in suggesting that Obama’s view of such violence is racist.

By contraxt, Farah did not devote a column expressing similar concerns about the Charleston massacre -- it didn't even rate a mention in a column he wrote arguing that June 2015, the month in which the massacre was committed, was "the biggest news month of our generation." Therefore, we can assume that  -- by applying his own standards, given two stark contrasts in cases of shootings involving whites and blacks -- his view of such violence is racist.

Farah goes on to rant: "Obama: Do you have nothing to say about the tragic murders in Virginia besides having your government-paid mouthpieces blame guns?"

Meanwhile, Farah has nothing to say about the Charlreston massacre while his paid mouthpieces blame black people. It's time for Farah to admit the racist slant of his editorial agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:03 PM EDT
Saturday, August 29, 2015
CNS Helps Anti-Discrimination Foes Advance Transgender Bathroom Myth

Reading an Aug. 26 article by Melanie Hunter on right-wing efforts to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston, you'd think it was only about bathrooms:

A group opposed to a proposed ordinance that would allow transgendered people to use any bathroom they consider consistent with their gender identity has launched a radio campaign in Houston, Texas, to defeat the so-called “bathroom ordinance.”

Campaign for Houston, which was organized to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), kicked off its campaign, called No Men in Women’s Bathrooms!, on Monday.

The bathroom ordinance was part of Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s effort to extend discrimination protections to the LGBT community through HERO. It specified that “no business open to the public could deny a transgender person entry to the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity,” the Houston Chronicle reported on May 14, 2014.

“Parker’s Bathroom Ordinance would force businesses and public establishments to allow troubled men, or men who want to start trouble, to use women’s public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. This endangers women and girls and places them in harm’s way,” Campaign for Houston spokesman Jared Woodfill said in a press release.

“There are 8345 registered and convicted sexual predators in Harris County. This just scratches the surface of this dangerous problem. These men could use this ordinance as a legal shield to threaten our mothers, wives and daughters,” Woodfill added.

Funny how Hunter refers to the law as the "so-called 'bathroom ordinance,'" then adopts the terminology herself two paragraphs later.

This being another CNS propaganda effort, Hunter talks only to Woodfill and can't be bothered to contact any supporter of the ordinance. Thus, she deprives her readers of the facts regarding the ordinance -- namely, that the bathroom fearmongering she lets Woodfill engage in is a myth.

There simply is no evidence -- and Hunter certainly never quotes Woodfill offering any -- that similar anti-discrimination ordinances elsewhere have resulted in any increase in male sexual predators exploiting the laws to sneak into women's bathrooms.

Futher, the day before Hunter's article was published, Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg pointed out what Hunter wouldn't: that as Richard Carlbom with the pro-ordinance Houston Unites campaign told the Chronicle: "Nothing in the equal rights ordinance changes the fact that it is -- and always will be -- illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people."

Now, why wouldn't Hunter or Woodfill mention that important fact? Because they're working together to advance propaganda, not to report news. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 AM EDT
Friday, August 28, 2015
MRC's Double Standard on Presidential Interrupters
Topic: Media Research Center

Unsurprisingly, Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell took a dim view of Univision's Jorge Ramos interrupting Donald Trump at a press conference:

Jorge Ramos is a pro-amnesty activist masquerading as a journalist. The stunt he pulled at Donald Trump’s press conference reflects poorly on Univision -- again. Ramos is not a 'reporter' nor does he therefore have the 'right to ask questions.' Ramos embarrassed both himself and his profession by becoming the story with his unseemly antics. Those who expect a fair and honest debate on the policy issues impacting the U.S. Latino community should ignore Jorge Ramos.

Bozell was joined by MRC Latino director Ken Oliver-Mendez, who claimed that "Jorge Ramos clearly crossed the line between reporting and editorializing" and is "operating outside the confines of honest journalism."

It also shouldn't be a surprise, then, that Bozell doesn't feel the same when the interruptor is a conservative and the person being interrupted is a Democratic president.

A search through the MRC archives found no indication that Bozell said anything about a 2012 incident in which conservative Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro heckled President Obama during a news conference -- no declaration that Munro was an activist masquerading as a journalist, or that Munro embarrassed himself and his profession, or that Munro is operating outside the confines of honest journalism, or that conservatives who expect fair and honest journalism should ignore Munro.

Meanwhile, the rest of the MRC was more than happy to cheer Munro's stunt. Clay Waters mocked the New York Times for supposedly being "aghast at the audacity of a reporter from a conservative news site interrupting President Obama's Rose Garden speech."

At Newsbusters, Noel Sheppard tried to temper things by baselessly claiming that "we are by no means condoning Munro's behavior" (even though we could find no criticism of Munro by anyone at the MRC), but then tried to justify that same behavior: "As the Daily Caller is a conservative website, isn't it far more likely Munro doesn't agree with the new immigration policy the current White House resident was presenting that just so happens to be an edict without any approval from Congress?"

Tom Blumer huffed that Munro's stunt was hardly "the first time any reporter has ever shouted a question at a U.S. president out of turn," then touted Munro's defense "as well as sturdy defenses from Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson and Publisher Neil Patel." He concluded by whining of Munro's critics: "What a bunch of flaming, presidential boot-licking hypocrisy."

And Jack Coleman offered his own defense of Munro: "Henceforth the Obama administration might want to signal when questions will be allowed from the media and when reporters will be expected to emulate statuary." We suspect Coleman won't be asking Trump to make that same signal.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:06 PM EDT
WND Brings RFK Jr. Aboard As Anti-Vaxxer Columnist
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may not share the same political views, but they share common cause in promoting discredited anti-vaxxer rhetoric. So WND has rather belatedly welcomed Kennedy to its extremist fold, giving him the full columnist-with-bio treatment for his writings, as shown above. (That bio is so outdated, it refers to his radio show as airing on Air America Radio, which shut down five years ago.)

RFK Jr.'s Aug. 24 WND column is a screed against Forbes magazine for  putting a dent in his conspiracy theory that Poul Thorsen, a Danish scientist accused of stealing $1 million in federal grant money for his own use, is some sort of mastermind in the government/vaccine industry scheme to suppress evidence that vaccines don't cause autism. Here's a snippet showing the general tone of Kennedy's piece:

Dr. Thorsen is one of the co-authors and data manager for two leading foreign studies offered by CDC as the foundation of its claims that vaccines do not cause autism. Only purposeful misstatement or journalistic sloth can account for Willingham’s declaration that Thorsen’s conclusions “have not been called into question.” For over a decade, myriad critics have exposed those studies as brazen fraud.

Among those RFK Jr. as questioning those studies is the Journal for the American Physicians and Surgeons, the publication of the anti-vaxxer-friendly and far-right-fringe Academy of American Physicians and Surgeons -- hardly credible evidence. But as the Forbes article pointed out, Thorsen was not first author or senior author on those studies, which suggests that his contribution to them is not as significant as people like Kennedy claim. Further despite Kennedy's ranting that the Thorsen-linked studies are a "brazen fraud," Forbes points out that the studies and data "have not been called into question (through formal channels) or retracted."

Kennedy takes a cue from his new friends at WND and carefully crafts his outrage to avoid issues actually discussed in the Forbes article, like pointing out how Kennedy has asserted that Thorsen is "on the run from Interpol" despite living and working openly in Denmark (or, apparently, not actually being sought by Interpol), as well as the fact that Thorsen contributed to a paper recently published by an institute named for Kennedy's aunt, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Forbes also notes that Kennedy and other anti-vaxxers aren't attacking Thorsen's research into things not related to vaccines and autism.

Kennedy also ignores Forbes' key argument: "If the charges are true, Thorsen bilked the US government, specifically the CDC, out of millions and used it to buy himself things. How that translates into a willingness to engage in a conspiracy with the CDC remains elusive."

But Kennedy's ability to rant to obfuscate the fact he's not actually responding to the issue shows that he has learned well from his new buddies at WND.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:49 AM EDT
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Ted Cruz Makes MRC Proud By Dismissing Megyn Kelly's Questions As 'Liberal'
Topic: Media Research Center

When Ted Cruz dismissed Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's questions to him on immigration as something a "liberal journalist" would ask, the Media Research Center applauded it. After all, the evasion tactic is straight from the MRC playbook.

The MRC reinforces to conservatives that any tough question would want to ask them is, by definition, a "liberal" question and, thus, does not need to be answered. After all, conservatives know that they will never face tough questions when they appear on Fox News.

Here's how this works in practice, as seen through MRC blog posts and items:

  • Jeffrey Meyer claimed that in an interview with Ben Carson, "CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell repeatedly hit the famed neurosurgeon from the left on abortion," though Meyer never explained how the question O'Donnell asked Carson -- whether he woudl ban abortions in the case of rape, incest, and life of the mother -- was "from the left." Still, Meyer praised Carson for having "pushed back against O’Donnell’s liberal question."
  • Meyer insisted that asking whether the Republian Party has issues with women and minority voters was a "liberal assertion," complaining that in an interview with Republian Gov. Nikki Haley, CBS' O'Donnell "made sure to push the liberal line about whether or not the GOP has a 'problem with women voters?'"
  • Rich Noyes declared that CBS anchor Scott Pelley was pestering House speaker John Boehner with "obnoxious liberal questions," like whether President Obama deserves any credit for an improving economy or if "just sending bills up to the White House that are gonna get vetoed" is an effective way to govern.
  • MRC chief Brent Bozell sneered that during a Republican debate, NBC's Brian Williams "pounded Ron Paul like a haughty Swedish socialist to defend his libertarian views." Bozell offered no examples of these allegedly "haughty Swedish socialist" questions.
  • Bozell's lieutenant, Tim Graham, complained that in the same debate, Williams asked "nasty, shamelessly liberal questions," but the only one he cited was asking Rick Perry if he "struggled to sleep at night" over the idea that any of the 234 inmates on death row executed under Perry's watch might have been innocent. Graham didn't explain how that question is "shamelessly liberal."
  • Rich Noyes wrote that in presidential candidate townhall debates, journalists favor "liberal questions" over "conservative questions." But Noyes offered no definition of what constituted a "liberal question" for thepurposes of his survey, beyond the vague notion that it's something that would "favor liberal causes."

Notice a pattern there? The MRC effectively defines the nebulous "liberal question" to a conservative candidate as nothing more than a tough question that challenges them to explain their views. Because they don't want to answer the question anyway, deflecting it as a "liberal question" gives them an excuse not to answer it, as well as having the side benefit of playing to the base, whom the MRC and other conservative organizations have spent millions of dollars over the past few decades conditioning to despise as "liberal media" any outlet that dares try to ask tough questions of conservatives.

So of course Cruz would invoke the MRC-approved tactic of deflecting a question he didn't want to answer as something a "liberal journalist" would ask, even though the idea that anyone would consider Megyn Kelly a "liberal journalist" strains logic.

But then, the MRC seems content to throw its conservative friends at Fox News under the bus for the sake of ideological purity; it was curiously silent about the questions Fox anchors asked at the recent Republican presidential debate after they proved a little too challenging for some of the candidates. Perhaps it had to stay silent; this was the debate setup the MRC wanted after years of complaints that Republicans were holding debates on non-Fox news channels where they are in danger of those nebulous "liberal" questions.

The MRC conditions conservative candidates to dismiss tough questions as "liberal." Ted Cruz showed the results of that conditioning.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:49 AM EDT

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