No More Conflict-of-Interest Disclosures? Topic: CNSNews.com
Is CNSNews.com backing away from the one journalistic thing it did consistently and well?
On the front of today's CNS front page is the headline "Media Watchdog Report Finds CNN Anchor Has 'Negative View' of Free Market, followed by the promo line: "A report by a watchdog group finds that CNN's Lou Dobbs has a 'negative view' of the free market."
But the following hyperlink, instead of normal text like "Full Story" or "Read News on the Web," reads, "Read the Report." Clicking on it takes you to the Free Market Project -- like CNS, run by the Media Research Center.
Heretofore, CNS has generally done a good job of disclosing conflicts of interest; when it has felt the need to report on the doings of the MRC, it has regularly noted that it too is an MRC division. Is CNS dispensing with that journalistic pretense?
(A side note: CNS describes the decidedly conservative Free Market Project as a "media watchdog" and a "watchdog group," while in two recent articles referencing Media Matters for America (full disclosure: my employer), it adds qualifiers, describing it as a "liberal media watchdog group." But CNS has always had that labeling bias.)
Jefferson Smeared? Topic: Accuracy in Media
In an Aug. 24 Accuracy in Media article, Roger Aronoff seems to be protesting a bit too much about the idea that Thomas Jefferson may have fathered a child with black slave Sally Hemings.
Aronoff correctly notes that other Jefferson relatives could have been involved with Hemings -- but then insists that any claim that Thomas Jefferson hooked up with Hemings is "fake" and a "myth" without offering definitive evidence that he didn't.
And then there the headline on Aronoff's article: "Another Smear of Thomas Jefferson." Why is the suggestion that Jefferson had sex with a black woman considered a "smear"?
Be A Border Patrol Wannabe Topic: Newsmax
"Join the U.S. Border Patrol!" reads the link on NewsMax's front page today. Huh? The Border Patrol is trolling for recruits on a conservative web site?
Well, no. Click the link, and it takes you to NewsMax's store, where you can buy a Border Patrol cap. "Now you can stand on the frontlines of America's battle with illegal immigrants by wearing the US Border Patrol cap," the ad copy states. "Wear the cap everywhere ... and if illegals start running when they see you ... you'll have the last laugh."
Then again, the (actual) Border Patrol may not want recruits who succumb to ad copy like this.
WND's Kerry Hatefest Lingers Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily just can't stop hating John Kerry.
It was a veritable Kerry-hating machine during the 2004 presidential campaign, spewing distortions and lies at every opportunity. The tradition continues with an Aug. 22 article on gonzo writer Hunter Thompson's funeral. The headline:
WND Hearts Convicted Felons Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 22 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore continues WND's policy of whitewashing the felonious past of Clinton-basher Peter Paul and includes a serious factual error in the process.
Moore follows the standard ConWeb blueprint of playing down Paul's crimes, as it does for his buddy and fellow felon, Aaron Tonken. The factual error comes as Moore plays down Paul's guilty plea for his role in a $25 million stock manipulation scheme involving a company he co-founded with comic-book legend Stan Lee. Moore wrote:
The Clinton Justice Department had him jailed while he was in Brazil and then extradicted to the United States.
In fact, the original indictment against Paul was not issued until June 2001, and he was arrested in Brazil in August 2001 -- months after the Clinton administration left office and, thus, no longer ran the Justice Department.
Moore also wrote that "Paul insists he was doing business in South America, not fleeing justice as some contended," but includes no explanation of why Paul fought extradition from Brazil for two years.
Moore's article is mostly based on an interview with Paul; near as we can tell, Moore made little or no attempt to fact-check Paul's statements.
Look for a full ConWebWatch article later this week on this subject.
NewsMax's Meaningless Poll Topic: Newsmax
An Aug. 20 NewsMax article relies on a meaningless opt-in poll to claim that support for "Bush-bashing Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan" is "actually losing the public opinion battle by a landslide.
NewsMax describes the opt-in America Online poll as "technically unscientific." That technicality being that opt-in polls reflect only the opinions of those who vote in the poll, not a genuine cross-section of the public at large.
WND Lies About Itself Topic: WorldNetDaily
Just how mendacious is WorldNetDaily? It can't even tell the truth in its own self-promotion, even though ConWebWatch caught WND in the same exact lie last year.
An Aug. 20 WND article once again claims that "In its News and Media category, Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, shows WND at No. 1 again this year as it was in 2004." But, as ConWebWatch pointed out when WND made the same claim last year (twice), that ranking is in fact in the "Politics > Conservatism > News and Media" category. Alexa's all-encompassing "News" rankings -- the one WND falsely claims to be tops in -- feature the folks you'd expect: Yahoo, CNN, BBC, etc.
WND also claims that "The Internet market research company Ranking.com also lists WND as the No. 1 website in the category of "News, Web Directories, Headline Indices," but doesn't point out that Ranking.com's rankings are, like Alexa's, based on only a small subset of users that use a browser toolbar and a link exchange system with a counting mechanism built into it and is not necessarily reflective of traffic rankings as a whole.
If WorldNetDaily can't even tell the truth about itself, why trust it to report the news fairly and accurately?
Less Than Softball Topic: Media Research Center
An Aug. 16 Media Research Center CyberAlert item (and matching NewsBusters entry) implied that MSNBC's Chris Matthews' tossed only softball questions during an interview with Cindy Sheehan. Author Brent Baker cited only a portion "from the end of the two segments with Sheehan" in which Matthews asked Sheehan if she was interested in running for Congress.
In fact, Matthews asked about other family members who opposed Sheehan's protest, about her estranged husband, asked, "If your son had been killed in Afghanistan, would you have a different feeling?" and also presented President Bush's case for U.S. involvement in Iraq and asked Sheehan, "You disagree?"
Matthews also followed up the interview with Sheehan with an interview of two women, one an Iraqi national, who disagreed with Sheehan's protest.
Did the MRC's TiVo somehow fail to record these other less-than-softball questions, or is it programmed to retain only the "liberal" stuff?
Yet Another WND Double Standard Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has made a big deal of protester Cindy Sheehan's vow not to pay her income taxes as a protest over the Iraq war. An Aug. 20 article notes, "WND contacted the IRS after Sheehan yesterday reiterated previous statements about not paying her taxes."
But we thought WND loved people who refused to pay their taxes.
WND has been a big promoter of We the People, a group operated by Bob Schulz that believes that the federal government lacks any legal jurisdiction to enforce the income tax, that there is no law that requires Americans to pay the tax, and that the tax is enforced in a manner that violates the U.S. Constitution.
A search for "Bob Schulz" in WND's archive turns up 70 articles. Among them are a 2002 article by Jon Dougherty on a "Truth-in-Taxation" forum held by We the People at which, according to Schulz, "almost 500 detailed legal assertions and supporting evidence were put forth publicly challenging the legal foundations of the tax system"; and a Feb. 1 article touting a victory for Schulz in a lawsuit he filed against the IRS.
Instead of siccing the IRS on Cindy Sheehan, why isn't WND trying to hook her up with Bob Schulz?
Sob Story Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 18 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein tells the sob story of people "forced from their homes" in Gaza through the disengagement and are "not sure where they will go" now that they have been removed from their homes. But Klein also tells why these people don't deserve much sympathy:
The Israeli government has rented thousands of hotel rooms throughout Israel to house about 800 families who defied an Israeli decree to evacuate before Tuesday evening and are instead being forcibly removed from their homes.
Pretty sweet deal for people who forced the Israeli army to come in and "forcibly remove" them.
Even as Klein quotes people saying that "There are families here who didn't get to pack much" and that "Next week, I will be lost and homeless," he mentions the "compensation and relocation packages" the Israeli government offered to residents: "The average family from Gush Katif was offered about $200,000 in compensation." In other words, they created this situation for themselves.
Even so, Klein writes, "Israel's Disengagement Authority is negotiating today with settlement leaders the possibility of re-offering monetary packages. The compensation is expected to be reduced by 30 percent."
While we don't want to get involved in a debate on the merits of the disengagement plan, presenting the Gaza holdouts as deprived people who were "forcibly removed" from their homes with only the clothes on their backs, as Klein halfheartedly does, is disingenuous since the Israeli government gave them plenty of opportunity to properly pack and (non-forcibly) leave.
We suspect that until now, Klein's writings on disengagement have not prominently featured the Israeli government's relocation and compensation plans, if they're mentioned at all.
An Aug. 18 Rasmussen poll notes that President Bush's job approval rating has fallen to "the lowest level ever recorded by Rasmussen Reports." But it's nowhere to be found on WND.
Also, following company policy, WND continues to play down the actions of Israeli extremists. Despite (or maybe because of) having Aaron Klein as its Jerusalem-based reporter, WND has offered no original coverage of the killing of four Palestinians by an Israeli in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria in WND parlance); the killer is also rooting for the asassination of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.
UPDATE: Klein gave the killing a one-paragraph mention buried in the middle of an Aug. 18 article.
Extradite Isikoff? Topic: Accuracy in Media
When he's not hanging out at Accuracy in Media, Cliff Kincaid is president of America's Survival, Inc., a nonprofit group mainly dedicated to attacking the United Nations (the web site proudly proclaims itself a "U.N.-Free Zone"). Its main symbol of defiance, apparently, is a picture of Kincaid in the U.N. medidation room.
Kincaid is currently embarking on a crusade apparently too extreme to mention at AIM: He wants Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff extradited to Afghanistan to face charges in connection with the 15 or so people killed in riots allegedly provoked by an Isikoff article claiming that U.S. military personnel had desecrated the Qurans of prisoners at Guantanamo.
"Blood is on the hands of Newsweek magazine for your unsubstantiated "Koran in the toilet" story that sparked anti-American global riots and the deaths of 17 people," Kincaid wrote to Isikoff on Aug. 10. "Newsweek did enormous damage to the cause of democracy in the Middle East." Kincaid's letter to the Afghan embassy in Washington makes a similar claim and appears to have included petitions with an unknown number of signatures supporting the effort.
A few problems here:
-- The Pentagon itself has confirmed Quran abuses by U.S. military personnel, so that part of Isikoff's article ultimately turned out to be true.
-- The riots may not have been directly connected to Isikoff's article at all; WorldNetDaily reported that the deadly riots "were planned several months ago with the magazine article serving as a convenient trigger." (Granted, this is an article by highly biased WND reporter Aaron Klein, but it indicates that there's other evidence available.)
-- As ConWebWatch has noted, Kincaid took a somewhat different attitude in his statements on the issue for AIM; while regularly denouncing Newsweek for the imbroglio, Kincaid was loath to single out Isikoff by name for criticism, presumably because of all the work Isikoff did in forwarding Clinton-era scandals.
Cliff Kincaid, editor of Accuracy in Media, a conservative non-profit organization that critiques coverage of the news for bias, advised the webloggers who accepted payment to give it back. "I think it is a safe assumption that the liberal media will use the Jarvis allegations to make the case that some bloggers are secretly in the pay of the "religious right." That will undermine their credibility and serve to damage their reputations. It is advisable for those bloggers who have accepted the money to give it back." Kincaid added, "The sponsor should disclose who accepted the payments."
A quick search of the AIM site showed no similar call by Kincaid for Jon Lauck and Jason Van Beek -- two conservative South Dakota bloggers who were paid a total of $35,000 by the campaign of Republican Senate candidate John Thune without disclosing the payments to their readers -- to return the money they were given.
More WND Whitewashing in Gaza Topic: WorldNetDaily
The whitewashing of Jewish extremists in Gaza by WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein continues. In an Aug. 17 WND article, Klein describes the settlement of Kfar Darom as "a religious community at the Jewish Gaza entrance."
But an Aug. 10 Agence France-Presse article, which described Kfar Darom as "arguably the most ideological of Gaza settlements" with "a religious agenda of its own," offered more detail on the kind of "religious community" Kfar Darom is:
Nitza Kahana came from Jerusalem with nine of her 10 children to defend Kfar Darom. Like everybody else in the settlement, she believes that any evacuation can only be temporary.
"Every time the Jews were kicked out, they came back. We're not even talking about hope here, we know that we will come back if Kfar Darom is dismantled," she says.
Her father in law was the revered Rabbi Meir Kahane who was famously assassinated in New York in 1990 and whose other son Rabbi Binyamin Kahane was killed at the beginning of the intifada.
Why won't Klein or WND tell its readers how many of the holdouts in Gaza are sympathizers to the Kach/Kahane Chai movement (created by Meir Kahane), with its history of violence and extremism?