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Thursday, September 13, 2018
MRC Again Claims That Conservatives Are Accurately Labeled In Battle Between Catholic Factions
Topic: NewsBusters

The Media Research Center has long had a bee in its bonnet regarding stories about conservatives in which the conservatives are accurately labeled as "conservatives." Matthew Balan -- a former MRC "news analyst" who's now freelancing for the MRC's NewsBusters blog -- pushes this again in an Aug. 30 post:

The Washington Post followed the example of AP and The New York Times with a Thursday article that played up the role of conservative Catholics in a controversy involving a former Vatican diplomat's recent "testimony" against Pope Francis.

Long-time Post religioin reporter Michelle Boorstein narrowed her scope and focused exclusively on the involvement of an "influential...conservative Catholic" media in the issue. Boorstein emphasized that "conservative Catholic media outlets have become power players by conveying the anti-Francis point of view." She also zeroed in on the role of "powerful Italian conservatives" in breaking the story.

The correspondent used the "conservative" term a total of 30 times in her write-up. (For a contrast, see Boorstein on April 5, in which she couldn't find a liberal/leftist label for Vermont ice cream barons Ben & Jerry, or "Black Lives Matters supporter DeRay McKesson," or the socialists at Sojourners magazine.)

First: The Post story about the church is specifically abaout political factions inside the Catholic Church, and it's absurd for Balan to be offended that conservatives are accurately labeled as such. Second: The story referencing Ben and Jerry, Mckesson and Sojourners is in a story about fightinbg racism -- unless Balan is conceding that fighting racism is now solely a "liberal" or "leftist" cause these days.

Balan  went on to huff that the Post reporter noted that "the reporting from these conservative 'power players" were akin to "the way in which Breitbart News and Drudge Report have served as media conduits for the brand of conservative American populism led by President Trump." If the Post can easily identify how a 'tight-knit' ideological network can unite to remove a powerful leader, certainly they can understand how conservatives see them and their fellow liberal 'power players' at 'media conduits.'" Of course, Balan's just parroting the anti-media attack from his former employer.

Then -- ironically for a website that fearmongers about George Soros for supporting liberal causes -- Balan complained that the Post story highlighted the role of financier Timothy Busch in conservative Catholic politics and even likening him to the Koch brothers, "controversial siblings involved in right-of-center politics in the U.S."

"Right-of-center"? The word you're looking for is "conservative," Matt.

Two days earlier, Balan complained that "The Associated Press and the New York Timesboth tried to spin a Catholic archbishop's recent exposé about the Church's sex abuse scandal as an ideological attack on Pope Francis from the right." Again, Balan doesn't dispute the ideological battle; he grouses about (arguably accurate) labels.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:48 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2018 8:49 PM EDT
Will WND Columnist Ask The Publisher Of His Column To 'Own Up To Fake News'?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Michael Brown's Aug. 29 WorldNetDailiy column is basically a rant against the "mainstream media" for being too critical of President Trump, insisting that "It’s not just an undisciplined president getting unruly crowds upset about 'fake news.' It’s that your anti-Trump animus is often so loud it drowns out the report you are giving, especially in the context of TV news." As his column is headlined "My appeal to MSM: Own up to fake news," Brown ends with that demand: "It’s just that our nation is so terribly divided today that the last thing we need is fake news. Please help put a stop to it."

Brown does inject some of his faux reasonableness, conceding that "1) I believe there is bias on the right as well as on the left; 2) I believe that the great majority of you take your profession quite seriously and are trying to report accurately; 3) I don’t agree with all of the president’s rhetoric and I regret some of the charges he has brought against you; and 4) I believe the president himself is often the author of inaccurate information." He also admits that "there’s always been some degree of personal bias in the news. And again, I believe the right-wing media are guilty of this as well."

But Brown never insists that the right-wing media "own up to fake news" -- that message is reserved solely for the "mainstream media." Why? Brown depends on the right-wing media to promote his message.

Which is why you will never hear Brown demand that WND -- the publisher of his column -- "own up" to its legacy of publishing fake news.  Brown knows what side his bread is buttered on, and he will never be so gauche as to jeopardize his exposure on a key media outlet by telling the truth and holding it to the same standards he holds the "mainstream media."

In other words, Brown is no different that WND itself, which refuses to acknowledge that its shoddy conspiracy theories and fake news are a key reason why it's circling the drain (again).

Posted by Terry K. at 2:43 PM EDT
CNS Manages To Make McCain's Death All About Hillary (And Vodka)

We can assume that didn't like John McCain any more than its Media Research Center parent did. We can probably assume that's why CNS felt the need to make McCain's death all about ... Hillary Clinton.

An Aug. 27 CNS blog post by Susan Jones carries the ludicrous headline "Hillary Clinton Hopes to Toast McCain with Vodka Shots (A Russian Drink!)." And, yes, Jones is very much obsessed with the Russian vodka thing:

After sharing fond memories of the late Sen. John McCain on Sunday, former Secretary of State Hillary was asked by Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," if she plans to raise a glass to her departed friend and colleague.

"Secretary Clinton, I'm going to leave it there," Todd said at the end of their telephone conversation. "I thank you. I assume you and Lindsey Graham are going to have some vodka shots, and toast the senator," Todd said.

"Well, (laughing) I don't know," Clinton replied. "I hope -- I hope that will happen at some point in the future," Mrs. Clinton said.

"I think the Irishman in John McCain would love for you to celebrate that way," Todd told Clinton -- even though vodka is a Russian drink and McCain was no friend of the Russian government.

Jones seems not to be aware that the best-selling vodka brand in the U.S., Smirnoff, is made in the U.S. despite a Russian heritage. Or that a popular craft vodka is also American-made.

Jones does concede that "McCain and Clinton had previously bonded over vodka," but then takes a shot at McCain: "As for McCain, his Irish ancestry gave him license to tell Irish jokes on the campaign trail, most notably in 2008, when he opened a town hall in Scranton, Pa., with a joke about the drunken Irish O'Reilly twins that fell sort of flat. You can google the actual joke, which hasn't improved with time."

Earlier, Jones wrote a separate "news" article starting with another dig at the deceased: "Sen. John McCain's death was topic A on the Sunday talk shows where the senator was so often a guest." (The MRC hated McCain for appearing a lot on the Sunday shows.) Shse then complained that "Clinton took a dig at conservatives as she praised McCain's bipartisanship," then grumbed that Todd ended his interview with Clinton "with a reference to alcohol" -- the talk about toasting McCain with a vodka that Jones turned into that weird blog post reference above.

Jones also complained -- in another echo of her MRC employer -- that "In July 2017, when he returned to the Senate after having surgery for the cancer that eventually would kill him, McCain made a plea for bipartisanship by taking aim at (conservative) talk-show hosts." Jones didn't rebut McCain's claim that these "bombastic loudmouths" are bad for the country because "our incapacity is their lievelihood."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:11 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
WND Now Enticing Donors With Free Gun Training
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Toward the end of August, Joseph Farah's pitches to save WorldNetDaily from oblivion (again) became ever more dire, suggesting he wasn't going to raise the $100,000 he claimed he needed by the end of the month. But as September arrived, WND was still here, and Farah stopped acting so desperate. That tells us he was doing just fine on fundraising and was lowballing the numbers in order to scare up cash. Of course, Farah has been utterly non-transparent about how much money he's bringing in, so there's no way of knowing for sure. That lack of transparency ought to be a red flag for donors.

Meanwhile, Farah apparently has enough money to fly to Las Vegas from his base in suburban Washington, D.C., where he has a new promotion (since the bitcoin giveaway apparently didn't go over so well), described in his Aug. 31 column:

I’m sitting here with my longtime friend, Ignatius Piazza, founder and director of the amazing, world-class, 550-acre firearms training resort near Las Vegas, Nevada, with an offer you won’t believe.

We were discussing my campaign to save the independent, alternative media – not to mention freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion – from the “Speech Code Cartel,” otherwise known as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, et al.

Piazza was impressed with the way WND visitors and subscribers came through with financial and prayer support for us in the month of August. He not only knows firearms instruction and has built the most fabulous facility out here in the desert, but he also knows his stuff when it comes to marketing.

He said, “Joseph, you need to thank your audience – all of them. You need to give them something of real value as an expression of gratitude.”

“What do you have in mind?” I asked.

“How about offering them a free four-day defensive handgun course at Front Sight – one they can attend any time in the future or even transfer to anyone they like?” he asked.

After letting that sink in, I asked, “How do we do that?”

Much to my shock, he explained all you have to do is go to this special website he would set up exclusively for this WND offer to reserve your place, pay the nominal but mandatory $50 criminal background-check fee for participants, and you’ll be admitted – free – to the incredible four-day defensive handgun course and, almost certainly, will have the time of your life.


I believe everyone needs to know how to defend himself or herself. Like Ignatius, I believe the Second Amendment is America’s guardian of liberty. The best way to defend it is by using it. And that means owning firearms and knowing how to use them.

But all I ask is that you let him tell the story – because no one is more persuasive that Ignatius Piazza of Front Sight.

Take it from me, this is not just some gun range in the desert. It’s like the Disneyland of shooting. See for yourself.

Maybe you’ll be so happy with this incredible offer that you might want to thank me and by sending us another contribution to keep us fighting for liberty and privacy against the “Speech Code Cartel” of Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Apple.

Piazza's Front Sight is an elaborate training facility in rural Nevada featuring "24 outdoor ranges designed for pistol, rifle, and shotgun training; eight simulators, including “shoot houses” that mimic dwelling places; gunsmith facilities; an armory" and more. Given that a four-day course at Front Sight can cost as much as $2,000, giving it away for free to WND readers is quite the deal.

Piazza, though, is an interesting character. A former chiropractor who apparently found his calling in running Front Sight, Piazza has appeared on the show of conspiracy freak Alex Jones (where he also has been a sponsor) and apparently has ties to Scientology.

In other words, he seems like the kind of guy Farah would hang around with. Will it actually help WND? hard to say, since Farah won't tell us what's going on with his finances.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:32 PM EDT
The MRC Loved McCain, Except When He Got in Its Way -- And Doesn't Particularly Love Him Now That He's Dead
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center was never going to miss John McCain upon his death. It has long despised McCain for being a frequent guest on Sunday morning news shows; for instance, Tim Graham ranted in 2013 about how those shows consider him a "dream guest" because he's a "squishy" Republican and has "done 60 Sunday shows just since 2010." Jeffrey Lord similarly huffed that "McCain has every reason to prefer the mainstream media to conservative media precisely because conservative media is more than willing and capable of holding him -- and other Republican ObamaCare supporters -- to task for their bold and deliberate hypocrisy."

The MRC particularly hated him for his decisive vote last year to stop a Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, and even having an incurable brain tumor didn't stop the hate. As one MRC writer put it (in boldface, no less), "Having an illness, no matter how serious, precludes neither the President nor the public from judging Senator McCain’s political acumen on its merits."

It clearly grated on the collective nerves of the MRC that McCain was lionized upon his death. But it had to publish something about it, so it focused on reliving the one time it consistently defended him: the 2008 presidential election, when it's contractually obligated to defend the Republican candidate no matter what -- and then only to defend the honor of McCain's vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

Curtis Houck complained that Vox tweeted that "[y]ou can draw a straight line from John McCain to Donald Trump — through Sarah Palin" and freaked out over Vox misattributing Palin's hockey-mom joke to the wrong speech, then cheered how Vox was "ripped on Twitter" over the claims (meanwhile, the MRC's falsehood that Time Warner Cable was still a part of Time Warner at the time of its merger deal with AT&T remains live and uncorrected, and the MRC still hasn't told us which editors allowed the white nationalist hyperlinks in Tom Blumer's NewsBusters posts to stand).

Kyle Drennen huffed that "Amid glowing tributes to the life and career of Arizona Senator John McCain on Monday, MSNBC took time to use the Republican lawmaker’s passing to trash his 2008 vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin, labeling McCain’s selection of the then-Alaska governor as his 'biggest political mistake.'" Brad Wilmouth similarly whined that "several personalities on both CNN and MSNBC have lamented his selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee in 2008 as a 'mistake'."

You know who else that picking Palin was a mistake? John McCain. Drennen didn't mention that; Wilmouth did note it, though it didn't keep him from insisting on framing his piece as blaming folks on TV for calling it a mistake.

Scott Whitlock rehashed negative 2008 coverage of McCain's campaign as a counter to positive coverage of him after his death, claiming that "journalists weren’t so fond of McCain when he dared to stand in the way of Barack Obama." But can't both be true, that McCain was ultimately a decent person and that he ran a terrible campaign in 2008?

The MRC also worked Trump into it. Tim Graham complained that " published a glowing eulogy video of McCain above a typical expression of disgust at President Trump's failure to behave like a traditional politician and say glowing things about someone you didn't like one bit (and who banned the president from his funeral)." Houck, meanwhile, whined about CNN's alleged "obsession with tying McCain tributes to President Donald Trump, the latter’s attacks on the former, and how McCain was the anti-Trump."

The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens also wrote an unironic piece titled "Media Loved McCain EXCEPT When He Got in Their Way." He failed to point out that this more accurately describes his employer.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:18 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 3:21 PM EDT
WND Columnist Again Misrepresents Genocide Watch on South Africa
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The last time WorldNetDaily columnist Barbara Simpson wrote about South Africa, we caught her making up quotes from anti-genocide activist Gregory Stanton to claim there is a "genocide" of white farmers. A year later, Simpson is still being dishonest regarding Stanton and South Africa.

In her Sept. 2 WND column on the subject, Simpson declares, "Genocide Watch has concluded, 'There is a coordinated campaign of genocide being conducted against white farmers." As with her fake quotes from Stanton, who runs Genocide Watch, Simpson doesn't provide a link to back up the claim.

And as before, we checked into it -- and that quote is fake too. It's apparently taken from a 2013 article at the right-wing FrontPageMag in which what Simpson is claiming is a direct quote of Stanton is actually a paraphrase of what he found in a 2012 investigation (italics added):

In July of 2012, Dr. Gregory Stanton, head of the nonprofit group Genocide Watch, conducted a fact-finding mission in South Africa. He concluded that there is a coordinated campaign of genocide being conducted against white farmers, known as Boers. “The farm murders, we have become convinced, are not accidental,” Stanton contended. "It was very clear that the massacres were not common crimes," he added -- especially because of the absolute barbarity used against the victims. "We don’t know exactly who is planning them yet, but what we are calling for is an international investigation,” he added.

In addition to making up a (another) quote from Stanton, Simpson also censored the fact that Stanton's view on thte situation in South Africa has changed since 2012. Stanton wrote a 2015 article specifically stating in the headline that "'white genocide' is not underway in South Africa."

Further, farm murders and attacksd in South Africa have been on an overall downward trend since their peak in 2002.

The rest of Simpson's was not dissimilar from other WND columnists with a thing for South Africa in the wake of President Trump tweeting about the situation there -- to the point that she cited fellow columnist Ilana Mercer ranting that "White men, women and children are being butchered like animals, their bodies often displayed like trophies by their proud black assassins" -- and lamented that the U.S. isn't accepting white South African farmers as refugees, ultimately declaring, "I only pray we do something to help before there is a widespread bloodbath."

But as we've noted, there already is a bloodbath going on there -- the  black murder rate in South Africa is much higher than for whites. Apparently, that's not an interesting enough cause for Simpson to be concerned with.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:46 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
CNS Censors Trump's Role In Tariffs Pushing Harley Production Overseas

An Aug. 15 article by Emilie Cochran highlghted a question to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about whether "President Donald Trump would like to see a boycott on Harley-Davidson." By way of explaining, Cochran added, "In June, the company announced they would move some production overseas to avoid tariffs from the European Union."

But Cochran didn't mention why Harley is trying to avoid European tariffs: because of Trump's trade war.

Harley explained that the EU tariffs against it were enacted in retaliation for Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The company has already been laying off workers in the U.S., closing a factory and using Trump's corporate tax cut to buy back stock isntead of passing it down to employees.

That seems like important context to report. But we know that CNS doesn't like to report when Trump or his administration does something negative.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:18 PM EDT
WND Columnist Once Again Mansplains Why 'Radical Feminism' Is To Blame For Immature Men
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The last time we checked in on WorldNetDaily columnist Carl Jackson, he was mansplaining that because feminists are sluts, men don't have to act mature (but he didn't explain why it's the job of women to make men mature or why he's relieved men of that responsibility).

Jackson doubles down on that attitude on his Aug. 27 column, which is devoted to attacking "radical feminism" and once again blaming them for the state of manhood:

Sadly, radical feminists leave victims in their wake that are rarely considered. Such is the case with the two individuals I spoke with over the weekend. By the way, they don’t know each other, nor have they ever met. However, they’re perspective as singles of different sexes wanting to marry was eerily similar. Both of them are relatively young, under 30, and attractive. The guy explained to me that the women he encounters don’t want to be tied down. He attributed this to radical feminism. He admitted that although he wanted to settle down, he and his millennial friends felt as though that wouldn’t be possible until he was about 35 years old. Why? That’s how long he and his friends figured it would take for the women they knew to let go of the radical feminist pose in exchange for a husband. In other words, they were waiting until the women were done being played by men. Until then, they figured they’d sit back and play along with the “feminist game.”

Likewise, the female I spoke to had been played by a guy she hoped to settle down with. He was living two separate lives, and when he was caught he explained to both women that he wanted to continue seeing them, but with no strings attached. Thank God my friend didn’t go for that. However, she was convinced that this guy had gotten away with playing the field because ladies today make it so easy for men. Therefore, women like her are forced to sit on the sideline, hoping men will mature enough to want to settle down and marry them. Unfortunately, by ignoring the basic physiological and emotional differences between men and women, feminists have helped cultivate the type of men they claim to despise.

In short, radical feminists haven’t created better men. They’ve created confused and immature little boys that will never grow up, because they don’t have to.

Again, Jackson pretends that men don't have agency, despite eons of Western civilization being largely patriarchial. If men are too immature to properly deal with a relationship, isn't at least half their fault?

Jackson also rants against the existence of the pay gap between men and women, citing a right-wing Heritage Foundation writer blaming "women's intentional job choices" for the gap and asserting that "the “pay gap” argument hasn’t been a major issue for over a half century, but that hasn’t stopped radical feminists from lying to their followers." (Here's an argument that the pay gap does, in fact, exist.)

In other words, Jackson is just doing more mansplaining.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:42 PM EDT
NEW ARTICLE -- The MRC's War on Journalists, Part 1: Katy Tur
Topic: Media Research Center
After priming President Trump's attacks on her, the Media Research Center seems to think that the NBC correspondent deserves to fear for her safety for failing to be a Trump sycophant. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT
Monday, September 10, 2018
WND Gushes Over Putin Visiting Jerusalem's Western Wall, 6 Years After The Fact
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has become rather fond of Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent years -- which became even more prevalent during the Trump presidency, since taking President Trump's side on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election effectively means taking Putin's side.

WND takes that love for a dictator a step further in an Aug. 26 article, in which an anonymous writer tries to shoot down the idea that Putin is anti-Semitic by -- apropos of no particular news hook -- touting a 2012 visit he made to Jerusalem:

He’s been called an anti-Semite.

He was challenged recently by Jewish leaders and American media for blaming so-called “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential election on Jews.

In fact, some Jewish and Christian Bible prophecy watchers suspect he is the infamous of Gog of Ezekiel 38-39 – an anti-Messiah figure they believe leads a last days invasion of Israel along with Persia (Iran) and a coalition of other countries.

Those accusations and suspicions have been made against none of other than Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia.

Yet, Putin maintains a deep and complex relationship with Russian Jews, Israeli leaders and the state of Israel. He also supported the founding of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, even donating his own money, has stated his “fierce opposition to any manifestation of anti-Semitism and xenophobia,” ensured the return of many synagogues to Russian Jews previously seized by the Soviets and in 2015 initiated a law against anti-Semitic biblical commentary.

He has also visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall three times, donning a yarmulke and praying.

Perhaps the most dramatic, surprising and little-known of those visits, his third and most recent, came June 26, 2012, when he made an early morning pilgrimage to both the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall sometime after 2 a.m., saying he did not want to miss out on seeing the two sites that offer a “special feeling.” His first visit came when he as first elected president, the second in 2005, during Passover – all odd behavior for an anti-Semite, blaming Jews for meddling in a U.S. election and for a Gog candidate.

What did Putin pray for during his quiet visit to the Kotel in 2012?

Shortly afterward, an Israeli bystander called out in Russian, “Welcome, President Putin.” Putin approached the man, who explained the importance of the Temple Mount and the Jewish Temple. Putin responded in a video-recorded conversation reported in Chadrei Charedim, an Orthodox Hebrew news site, “That’s exactly the reason I came here – to pray for the Temple to be built again.”

Putin shook the unidentified man’s hand and added with a smile, “I wish you that your prayers will be received.”

A person who witnessed the three-minute conversation said, “I guess he’s is not as closed and tough as we thought.”

The anonymous writer does admit that "tensions between Israel and Russia remain high because of Moscow’s alliance with Iran and the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad." Though, clearly, not so high that WND can't gush over its favorite Russian strongman -- albeit without anyone apparently willing to put their name to it.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:38 PM EDT
CNS Runs Clickbait Ads From Right-Wing Fake News Operation

For the past few months, has been running promotions from a website called TellMeNow. One ad bears the headline "Find Out The 21 Journlalists Who Sold Out America! Never Trust Them!"

The headline on the article itself is slightly less inflammatory: "These 21 Journalists Sold Out Their Profession and America for Hillary Clinton." The first slide rehashes right-wing attacks on ABC's George Stephanopoulos for having worked inthe Clinton adminstration. The second attacks Politico's Glenn Thrush for "asking the Hillary Clinton campaign to fact check his pieces" (by contrast, Newsmax's John Gizzi asked Trump White House officials to fact-check his articles without any blowback whatsoever from TellMeNow).

But strangely, most of the rest of the 21 slides don't even identify what purported offense they committed to get on the list; they're mostly just screenshots of mostly TV personalities and short bios. Some include teasers to the next slide accusing the journalist of never-identified violations. For instance, the slilde before the one for ABC's David Muir states: "Our next slide was voted one of the sexiest men alive in 2014, but his good looks won’t be able to allow him to swindle out of his betrayal to the American public! What makes him even more dangerous is that he had the most airtime in 2012 and 2013!" But the slide for Muir states ashort bio and that "Muir's reporting received the most airtime in 2012 and 2013" -- not exactly evidence of "betrayal to the American public!"

In other words, it's just lame right-wing clickbait from a website that's becoming known for fake news. And like any lame clickbait, the slideshow has no byline, and the website itself has no masthead of who works there. Other articles have presumably fake bylines like "James Conrad" (the guy from the "Kong" movie?) and "Erin Perri."According to the WHOIS database, the owners of the website's domain have been blocked from public access, though it notes that the "Registrant Organization" is a company called Intermarkets, which sells advertising space on mostly conservativef websites such as TellMeNow, the Drudge Report ... and CNS and other Media Research Center websites.

A promotion page on the Intermarkets website for TellMeNow gushes that "TellMeNow leverages proprietary software and a unique perspective to take trending content viral. This is THE destination for the hottest stories and videos on the Web!" Funny, no mention whatsoever of clickbait or the anonymous nature of the operation.

The address provided on the website as a contact is a co-working office in Reston, Va. -- the same Washington, D.C., suburb that, as it so happens, is also where CNS, the MRC and Intermarkets are located.

We tried contacting TellMeNow via email to find out its criteria for putting journalists on the list and why its HQ is in a group office, but we got no reply.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:23 PM EDT
WND Doubles Down on Steve Stockman Conspiracy Theory
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A couple months back, we highlighted how WorldNetDaily has decided to frame the conviction of Steve Stockman -- a former Texas congressman who was so close to WND that it effectively served as his PR shop -- on 23 financial crimes as a "Deep State" conspiracy theory. Well, WND is doubling down on the conspiracy.

The headline of an anonymously written Aug. 19 WND article claims that Stockman was guilty of nothing more than "sloppy bookkeeping." Sotckman has a supporter in Sidney Powell, who recently appeared on Fox News to bizarrely claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's guilty plea on numerous offenses "doesn't even mean that Michael Cohen is guilty."

Naturally, as the "sloppy bookkeeping" claim indicates, WND whitewashes what Stockman actually did:

A significant portion of the criminal indictment focuses on this time frame, charging that Stockman used funds donated to the Center for the American Future, a non-profit set up by an associate, to benefit his political campaign. The Center sent out a newspaper-like mailing to prospective voters contrasting the policy positions of Cornyn and Stockman, but the former lawmaker’s legal defense team argued it did not expressly advocate for him and therefore did not violate FEC law.

In fact, Stockman was accused of, among other things, spending that money for a slew of oddball personal expenses, including tanning salon visits, a new dishwasher and dolphin boat rides. The article also frames misuse of money donated to a Stockman-run charity called Life Without Limits as a "straw donor" issue "similar to ones brought against conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in 2014." In fact, prosecutors said a $350,000 donation to Life Without Limits was diverted to Stockman and two aides, who later pleaded guilty and testified against Stockman; none of the money went for its intended purpose of a "Freedom House" meeting facility for the group.

WND also uncritially quoted Powell complaining that Stockman being imprisoned while awaiting sentencing "is a further outrage calculated to impede his ability to appeal and to break him." In fact, Stockman was deemed to be a flight risk, in part because he uses Bitcoin and burner phones and helped an aide avoid FBI detection for years in Egypt, as well as having government contacts in Egypt, the Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

The article concludes by quoting Stockman's wife calling her husband a "political prisoner" and WND editor Joseph Farah suggested Stockman was targeted because he tried to "defeat the Deep State" in his brief stints as a congressman.

Such dishonest, conspiracy-obsessed reporting does not raise confidence in WND's reporting, casting further doubt on any case Farah and Co. have to offer that it deserves to live.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:52 AM EDT
Sunday, September 9, 2018
MRC Selectively Decides When Context Matters
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Brad Wilmouth went off on people in the media he said were "smearing Fox News host Laura Ingraham as someone who uses her show to promote 'racist' and 'white supremacist' views as they reacted to a commentary she gave on The Ingraham Angle show in which she advocated for merit-based immigration and lamented 'massive demographic' changes." Wilmouth further huffed:

As the various hosts showed skepticism that she was telling the truth in her clarification, they all neglected to inform viewers that even in her original monologue from Wednesday, August 8, she declared that "it's not about race or ethnicity" and quoted President Donald Trump's assertion that "merit-based legal immigration is fantastic."

Instead, it appeared that none of the hosts who were so eager to weigh in and condemn the FNC host could be bothered to actually watch her 13-minute commentary, instead relying on one 30-second clip in which she referred to demographic changes and "in some cases, legal immigration" being a problem.

So context matters, huh? That's usually not the argument the MRC makes when ignoring context advances its right-wing agenda.

For instance, the MRC's Tim Graham recently assailed a PolitiFact fact-check on a Republican challenger to "ultraliberal Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin" claiming that she "opposed displaying the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the National Anthem in our classrooms,"calling it "mostly false" because the claim ignores the context that the bill in question was narrowly tailored and never made it into law: Graham insisted the claim was true on its face, whining: "The website doesn't call itself PolitiContext. It claims to be a Fact Checker."

Thus, the MRC continues its hypocritical stance on whether context matters.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:44 PM EDT
WND's Crowdfunding for Movie of WND-Published Book Remains A Failure
Topic: WorldNetDaily

More than a year ago, WorldNetDaily started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $120,000 to finance pre-production on a film -- not actual production, mind you; this is in part for materials to lure someone to finance production -- based on Anita Dittman's WND-published Nazi-era memoir "Trapped in Hitler's Hell." That included a couple of promotional misfires, like encouraging WND readers to give up their lattes from Starbucks to donate (though the typical WND reader is likely not a Starbucks customer) and stealing another's glory by insisting the film would be just like last year's movie "Dunkirk" (but without Christoper Nolan and the $100 million budget).

Well, WND is still at it. A WND article last month takes a slightly different tack by likening its would-be film to "Unbroken," the 2014 film that told the story of Louie Zemperini's survival in World War II concentration camps, arguing that making films about heroic figures "can sometimes take decades." In doing so, WND basically cribbed from, if not outright plagiarized, the Wikipedia page on "Unbroken.".

  • Wikipedia: "Universal Pictures purchased the rights to the book in January 2011, having already acquired the film rights to Zamperini's life story towards the end of the 1950s."
  • WND: "Universal Pictures bought the book rights in January 2011 to augment the film rights to Zamperini’s life story, which it had already acquired at the end of the 1950s."
  • Wikipedia: "The film received some criticism for omitting Zamperini's fight against alcoholism and PTSD, as well as his Billy Graham-inspired religious conversion."
  • WND: "What you didn’t see was Zamperini’s fight against alcoholism and PTSD, and most significantly his conversion to Christ after attending Billy Graham evangelistic crusade."

The point of invoking "Unbroken" is for WND to claim that "The team behind 'TRAPPED' does not want God’s work in Anita’s life ignored or set aside as was done for 'Unbroken.' That’s why it wants 'TRAPPED' to remain an 'independently' financed film."

Note the scare quotes around "independently," meaning that it knows nothing of the sort will happen. Why else would it feel the need to spend $120,000 to attract someone to fund the actual film?

The article went on to tout how the film is allegedly "well advanced in its successful script development phase" and howDittman an Jan Markell, who co-wrote the book WND is basing the movie on, are among the film's "biggest supporters" and have "not only provided moral support and prayers but have brought early funding for the movie, helping to finance its script development." It also notes George Escobar, vice president of WND Films, claiming that "All the critical issues Anita faced in the 1930s and 40s are coming back," among them being "Fake news being perpetrated like Nazi propaganda, undermining our freedoms."

Unmentioned, of course, is that Dittman has spread her own malicious fake news in likening President Obama to Hitler (a distinction she strangely did not apply to Trump). Or WND's own history of perpetrating fake news.

In the middle somewhere was the admission of failutre: "a GoFundMe campaign for 'TRAPPED' has raised just over $16,000 out of the $120,000 required for film funding expenses that will be used to raise the millions it will cost to make the movie."

That's right -- more than a year of fundraising got the campaign only one-eighth to its goal. And in the three weeks since this article first appeared, it didn't do much better -- the total as of this writing stands at a mere $16,810, raising just $210 in those three weeks.

After begging readers to keep WND alive and finance its promulgation of Seth Rich conspiracy theories -- which after 15 months hasn't even broken the $5,000 mark -- it seems that WND's target audience is suffering from fundraising fatigue. WND's pet project may not survive.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:48 PM EDT
Saturday, September 8, 2018
CNS Cheers Trump Pulling Brennan's Security Clearance

In July, not only parroted the Trump White House line of attack against former CIA director John Brennan for speaking out against President Trump over his infamous press conference, it also joined in the right-wing call for Trump to pull Brennan's security clearance.

So when Trump did indeed pull Brennan's security clearance, CNS couldn't have been happier.

Melanie Arter's article on the revocation -- as you would expect from the unofficial Trump White House stenographer -- contains statements only from Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reading from a statement by Trump. That was followed by an even more fawning post from Susan Jones transcribing an anti-Brannan rant by Mark Levin cheering his revocation because "he has a big mouth, he will never shut up, he'll go on TV and be the kook that he is."

Surprisingly, CNS also offered alternative points of view, albeit in an attempt to portray Brennan as a spiteful Trump-hater. An Aug. 16 article by Jones summarized a Brennan op-ed claiming that Trump's claim there was no collusion with Russia was "hogwash," then does something neither she nor Arter did in their other articles: offering an alternative point of view by dedicating several paragraphs to what Trump has said on the issuse "as a reminder." Arter touted a Republican congressman who called Brennan a "butthead."

A separate article by Patrick Goodenough highlighted for director of national intelligence James Clapper saying that pulling Brennan's security clearance and threatening the pull the clearances of other former intelligence officials like himself for being critical of Trump will help them "sell more books." And Arter finally got around to serving up her version of balance in an article quoting a former National Security Council executive secretary criticizing the revocations.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:32 AM EDT

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