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Wednesday, July 6, 2005
WND's Double Standard on Erroneous Speculation
Topic: WorldNetDaily
A July 5 WorldNetDaily article states: "Flagged by Islamic groups as a probable hate crime, a burned Quran found at the doorstep of a Virginia mosque turned out to be a case of a Muslim who wasn't sure how to properly dispose of his religion's sacred book."

We're still waiting for WorldNetDaily to give similar treatment to another erroneous-suspicion case. The death of a Coptic Christian family in New Jersey was heavily promoted by WND as the work of Islamic terrorists, but WND abandoned the story when it became clear that the killings were in fact motivated by robbery by two apparent non-Muslims.

WND also printed a July 5 column by Michelle Malkin on the subject; she called the burned-Quran case "a symbol of the knee-jerk penchant among some civil-rights groups and their enablers to cry racism, claim discrimination, and criticize U.S. law enforcement authorities for not doing enough to stop 'hate crimes.'"

But like WND, Malkin also promoted speculation that the Coptic family's death was an anti-Christian hate crime perpetrated by Muslims (here and here). Malkin did eventually apologize for her erroneous speculation. Will WorldNetDaily apologize for doing the exact same thing?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2005 12:19 AM EDT
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
One Less Brick in the Wall
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Journalistic integrity at WorldNetDaily continues its last throes (as Dick Cheney might say).

A July 5 WND article tells us that "Swiss America Trading Corp. is launching today its "Operation Divest Terror." Nowhere in the article is it noted that Swiss America is a "chief sponsor" of WND chief Joseph Farah's radio show.

On a related note, Craig Smith, head of Swiss America, writes a weekly column for WND. His tagline describes him as an "author, commentator and popular media guest" without noting his connection to Swiss America, let alone Swiss America's business relationship with WND.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:52 AM EDT
New Article: Off the Hook
Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax follows the ConWeb script and abandons a subject when it stops being of use to its agenda -- but not before breathlessly promoting wild, and possibly false, allegations. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 AM EDT
Monday, July 4, 2005
Press-Release Journalism
Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax overplayed the value of comments by an evangelical minister who took offense that Rev. Billy Graham said something nice about the Clintons.

The June 27 article played up comments by National Clergy Council president Rev. Rob Schenck, who "walked out on Rev. Billy Graham during the second night of his Queens, New York crusade" after Graham "yielded the stage to Bill Clinton and suggested his wife Hillary should be president." NewsMax noted that Schenck "told the Christian Wire Service" his comments.

But the Christian Wire Service is not a "news" service like the Associated Press; it is a distributor of press releases for conservative groups, as its client list attests. Its front page notes: "$65 is what we charge to transmit your 400-words-or-less press release." Schenck's comments originated here in a press release.

It is part of the Christian Communication Service, founded by Gary McCullough, who has worked with Operation Rescue and was a spokesman for the Schindler family and a media adviser to another Schindler family spokesman, fellow Operation Rescue operative Randall Terry, during the Terri Schiavo crisis. A statement on the website describes its mission:

Since 1989, Gary McCullough has worked full-time to see that pro-life and pro-family organizations and individuals are afforded the opportunity for their messages to reach more people through mass media.

NewsMax didn't report comments told to a news organization; it rewrote a press release.

WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, ran an op-ed by Schenck on Graham on July 1, claiming it was an "Exclusive WorldNetDaily Commentary," without noting that it too originated as a press release.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:03 AM EDT
Friday, July 1, 2005
O'Connor Roundup
Topic: The ConWeb
How did the ConWeb initially cover Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement?

WorldNetDaily: Its initial story puts ConWeb balance into play; its look at "activists gearing up for a fierce confirmation battle" quoted four conservatives and one ACLU representative who focused on "individual liberties," not exactly a liberal position. Pounded out eight stories. The stories that focused on liberals' views tended to promote more alarmist statements (featuring "ominous vacancy" in a headline, another headline misleadingly claiming that Sen. Ted Kennedy "Threatens to Oppose Supreme Court Nominee" when that statement is qualified in the story's lead) than those that focused on conservatives' views.

Another story engages in some subtle bias by portraying conservatives as concerned about "sanctity of life, the family and the Ten Commandments" and "the rule of law and the Constitution." Writer Susan Jones then adds "Likewise, liberal groups want a nominee who will protect their interests" and lists comments regarding abortion, gay rights and the environment. A man-on-the-street piece, surprisingly, was not only not conservatively slanted but actually leaned liberal; five people expressing support for a liberal nominee were quoted, compared to three expressing support for a conservative nominee.

NewsMax: Almost all Associated Press wire copy, except for a press release from the Republican National Committee. And, of course, renewed sales plugs for the issue of its magazine on the Supreme Court (one topic: "Why a top constitutional scholar is arguing that Bush should “pack” the Supreme Court").

Posted by Terry K. at 11:06 PM EDT
NewsMax Stops the Theft?
Topic: Newsmax
At last check, NewsMax has removed the sticky-note-type box at the top of its front page.

Could this mean that NewsMax reads ConWebWatch? (Not that it follows any of our other advice.)

Posted by Terry K. at 3:57 PM EDT
Story Count
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Number of original WorldNetDaily articles noting California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's opposition to the removal of a large cross on Mount Soledad, near San Diego: 4 (here, here, here and here)

Number of original WorldNetDaily articles noting Cunningham's involvement in which a defense contractor paid an inflated price for Cunningham's house (which the lobbyist later sold at a loss), or that Cunningham's Washington residence is on a yacht owned by the contractor, or that Cunningham improperly sold $595 knives with the congressional seal on them: 0

So much for WND's claim of being "a watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:22 PM EDT
Wall? What Wall? (Part 2)
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Consider the wall between news and advertising at WorldNetDaily, noted as crumbling a few months back, completely obliterated.

A June 30 article headlined "Next big home-based biz opportunity?" is everything that it sounds like it will be -- a plug for "a few good partner-distributors" to operate vending machines. It's presented as any other "news" story, lacking any disclaimer of being an ad it clearly is; in fact, the top of the story calls it a "WorldNetDaily Exclusive," like its other original "news" stories do.

If WND has so few journalistic ethics as to dress up such an obvious ad in the guise of a news story, why should anyone trust anything else that passes for "news" coverage at WND as not being bought and paid for? Are conservative legal groups like Liberty Counsel and the American Center for Law and Justice paying for the fawning recycled-press-release coverage WND gives them? How about Move America Forward? Or Voice of the Martyrs?

If WND is at all interested in salvaging what little journalistic reputation it has left, it must clearly explain to its readers where the line is between news and advertising -- if, indeed, there is one at all.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, July 1, 2005 10:54 AM EDT
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Today's ConWeb Rewritten Press Release Roundup
Topic: The ConWeb
Today's ConWeb stories that began life as a press release from a conservative legal group:

-- WorldNetDaily, "Student gets F grade for mentioning God." Press release from the American Center for Law and Justice.

--, "Same-Sex Couple Accuses Innkeepers of Discrimination." Press release from Liberty Counsel.

-- WorldNetDaily, "Lesbians target innkeeper over same-sex 'wedding.'" Press release from Liberty Counsel.

Bonus press release-generated article:

--, "Gun Rights Group Calls 'Assault Weapons' Ban 'Gun Registration Scheme.'" Press release from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:25 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, June 30, 2005 5:29 PM EDT
New Article: The Truth About NewsMax
Topic: Newsmax that it doesn't care about the truth. It will deceive and lie to its readers to shill Ed Klein's Hillary-bashing book. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:52 AM EDT
Another Thing You Won't Read at WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily
From Max Blumenthal's account of the College Republican National Convention:

On June 24 conventiongoers were treated to speeches from conservative stars like House majority leader Tom DeLay; antitax zealot Grover Norquist, who called Senator John McCain a "nut job" for compromising on Bush's judge picks; and black right-winger Jesse Lee Peterson, who announced that "most black people--not all, but most--can't think for themselves."

WorldNetDaily, of course, is the inadequately disclosed publisher of Peterson's book and keeper of his speaking engagements.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:17 AM EDT
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Massie Falsely Attacks FBI Documents
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily columnist (and Slantie winner) Mychal Massie falsely casted doubt on documents upon which Sen. Richard Durbin based his claim (for which he has since apologized) that U.S. treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was akin to Nazis and other brutal dictators.

Ini his June 28 column, Massie claimed Durbin's statement was "based on an unsubstantiated – and as yet unseen – FBI report." He later claimed Durbin cited an "alleged FBI report."

In fact, the documents cited by Durbin -- released by the federal government through a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union -- are publicly available. Only Massie has questioned their authenticity.

In his June 21 WND column, Massie discounted the claim Durbin cited of a prisoner who had torn his hair out after suffering alleged abusive treatment: "Prisoners who are freezing or suffering from heat exposure do not pull their hair out, but unstable psychotics do."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:50 PM EDT
NewsMax Steals from ConWebWatch?
Topic: Newsmax
The new-article tag from ConWebWatch's front page:

The special-alert tag at the top of NewsMax's newly redesigned front page:

Look vaguely familiar? We thought so, too. We'd sue, but we lifted our GIF somewhere on the 'Net about five years ago. We'll savor the irony, though.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:52 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 12:55 AM EDT
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Stuff WND Won't Report
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Don't look for WorldNetDaily to tell its readers the following anytime soon:

-- Via Josh Marshall, we learn that Florida Rep. Katherine Harris, WND Books' first author and beneficiary of sycophantic WorldNetDaily "news" coverage, may get pulled into a burgeoning scandal involving a defense contractor called MZM, exposed by Marshall as being very, very generous to another congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Not only did Harris receive $32,000 in campaign contributions from the company and its employees, she has a history of receiving tainted contributions.

-- A June 26 column by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dennis Roddy notes that Bijan Sepasy, president of the Iranian Freedom Foundation founded by WND columnist and author Jerome Corsi (WND editor Joseph Farah is a board member), used to be a lobbyist for the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose overthrow Corsi is trying to agitate. WND's only reference to Sepasy ignores his lobbying work and describes him only as "an Iranian-American born in Iran and naturalized as a U.S citizen."

Roddy quotes conservative author Kenneth Timmerman, who questioned the effectiveness of Corsi's group between Sepasy's background and Corsi's intrusion:

"Jerry Corsi is unknown to the Iranian community and the pro-democracy movement in Iran," Timmerman said. "Until he published a book on Iran. That has made some people suspicious of his motives."

Roddy also quotes another Iranian democracy activist (who is not only Iranian and not allied with former employees of the Islamic government, her father is currently imprisoned in Iran) as saying that while Corsi tries to dominate the debate in an already fracuous Iran democracy movement, "none of us ever gets heard. That's what freaks me out. No one's willing to speak to us. But they bring someone like Jerry Corsi? When did Jerry Corsi end up knowing more than I do?"

EDIT: Fixed Cunningham's name; it's Randy, not Randall.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:34 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 1:04 AM EDT
LeBoutillier Lies About Podhoretz
Topic: Newsmax
In a June 27 NewsMax column chastising conservatives for not supporting Edward Klein's anti-Hillary book, John LeBoutillier selectively quotes comments by one conservative to advance the false claim that he didn't read Klein's book.

From LeBoutillier's column:

Another GOP strategist, said he "wanted to take a shower" after reading the book. He obviously did not read a page of it because, if anything, the book repeats much of what has previously been published elsewhere.

In fact, this unnamed "GOP strategist" is New York Post columnist John Podhoretz who made it clear in his June 22 column that he did indeed read the book. The full quote:

This is one of the most sordid volumes I've ever waded through. Thirty pages into it, I wanted to take a shower. Sixty pages into it, I wanted to be decontaminated. And 200 pages into it, I wanted someone to drive stakes through my eyes so I wouldn't have to suffer through another word.

Like the rest of NewsMax, LeBoutillier does not address the tons of documented errors in the book.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:19 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 3:56 PM EDT

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