WND and Vallely Topic: WorldNetDaily
Media Matters (full disclosure: my employer) does a good rundown of the ever-shifting story -- heavily promoted by WorldNetDaily -- of Paul Vallely's claim that Joseph Wilson claimed that his wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA well before her outing by Bush administration officials in mid-2003. Let's summarize and expand regarding WND's treatment of the story.
-- WND won't say that Vallely's story has changed from his original claim. In its original Nov. 5 article, WND claimed Vallely said that Wilson told his wife's job "over the course of at least three, possibly five, conversations in 2002."
Vallely retracted most of that claim three days later -- though, of course, that's not how WND's Art Moore put it in a Nov. 8 article. Rather, Moore wrote that Vallely "clarified the number of occasions Wilson mentioned his wife's status ... [a]fter recalling further over the weekend his contacts with Wilson." Vallely is now claiming that Wilson mentioned his wife's occupation only once and "that it likely occurred some time in the late summer or early fall of 2002."
-- Another Nov. 8 WND article (this one unbylined) notes a claim that National Review contributor Victor Davis Hanson said that Wilson had told him of his wife's occupation in a pre-outing green-room conversation. WND added: "But contrary to a report, Hanson said Wilson did not disclose his wife's CIA employment."
Whose mystierous "report" is WND debunking? One by radio host John Batchelor -- on whose show Vallely made his original, mostly retracted claim, Media Matters notes.
-- That same article also quotes Vallely as saying that "There's no personal vendetta here" against Wilson. But WND has never reported Vallely's background. As Media Matters details, Vallely is an official at the conservative Center for Security Policy, whose current president is Washington Times columnist Frank J. Gaffney Jr. Current and former CSP advistory board members include Former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle, and radio host and former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, and former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas J. Feith.
There's a lot of this story WND has not told or otherwise made clear to its readers.
Who's Paranoid? Topic: Newsmax
A Nov. 8 NewsMax article tweaks some Democrats for floating allegations that faulty voting machines would cause the Virginia governor's race to go to the Republican, Jerry Kilgore, instead of the Democrat, Tim Kaine, under the headline "Election Night Deja Vu for Paranoid Dems." "Democrats were all set to cry foul" with "conspiracy theorists running wild at lefty web sites like Democratic Underground and the Daily Kos" when early returns showed Kilgore ahead, NewsMax wrote, adding: "Of course, that was before their candidate won the race."
It's really no different from what NewsMax did before the 2004 presidential election in trying to seed claims that if John Kerry had won, it would have been because Democrats rigged the election. As an article I wrote for Media Matters summarizes, NewsMax was claiming a month before the November 2004 election that "Democrats and their supporters may be laying the groundwork for a massive effort to 'steal' the election come Election Day" and other similar allegations, though the activities it described were 1) legal and 2) also being done by Republicans.
In other words, NewsMax knows quite well the so-called paranoia that it accuses Democrats of promoting, having promoted the same thing itself.
More Michael Schiavo Bashing at WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
Following an unbylined smear of Michael Schiavo a few days ago, WorldNetDaily's Diana Lynne (she of the unbalancedTerriSchaivoreporting for WND) affixed her byline to a Nov. 8 article bashing Schiavo's endorsement of an candidate in the Virginia governor's race based solely on comments on a message board. No word on whether she was responsible for the Nov. 4 article that prominently displayed the American Spectator's smear that Schiavo was "America's most admired widower this side of O.J. Simpson."
Lynne bizarrely adds at the end of her article that "Michael Schiavo joins the ranks of presidential wannabes soaking up the wattage of the political spotlight in Virginia." Huh? When did Michael Schiavo say he was running for president?
Horowitz also announced that Richard Poe is being promoted to "senior fellow, director of research and investigative projects" for Horowitz's CSPC. He adds that Poe will be "taking charge of a new investigative unit at CSPC, which will dig deep into the secrets of the left. It will follow the money trail and expose the left’s hidden agendas and relationships through hard-hitting articles which will appear in FrontPage and DiscovertheNetworks."
CNS Reporter Gets Lazy Topic: CNSNews.com
Do CNSNews.com reporters read the work of their fellow reporters? Apparently not.
A Nov. 7 article by Jeff Johnson brings another attack from conservatives on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding a survey given to elementary school students that contained sexually oriented questions. Johnson quotes Allan Edgar, principal of the Emmanuel Christian School in Manassas, Va., as saying, "They call this an 'inappropriate survey.' ... Well, how did they let this go through without approval (from school officials)?"
If Johnson had read the Nov. 4 article by his colleage Nathan Burchfiel, he would know the answer to that, having interviewed the superintendent of the school district at the center of the controversy:
But Palmdale School Superintendent Dr. Jack Gyves told Cybercast News Service Friday that the school district accepted responsibility for the "inappropriate survey" and apologized to parents before it ever went to court.
The survey was conducted by an outside health services consultant who was conducting research for her dissertation, and Gyves said the questionnaire given to the students "was not the version of the survey that had been approved by the district.
This information appears nowhere in Johnson's story.
Johnson also claims that the ruling results in "denying parents the right to opt their elementary school-age children out of a public school sex survey." There is no evidence of that; as Burchfiel's article notes, a parental consent form was issued as part of the survey, but it didn't mention that there were sexually oriented questions because, as noted above, the school did not know that the questions were included. If Johnson had read Burchfiel's article, he would know this.
Johnson also quotes Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, as saying that "The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the most overruled circuit in the country," which is false and easily fact-checked.
And, of course, we have to wonder: Which CNS employee's kids attend the Emmanuel Christian School in Manassas, Va.? It's a suburb of Washington; CNS HQ is in Alexandria, Va., another DC suburb.
Covert vs. Classified Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax has a bee in its bonnet over the proper description of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame.
On Oct. 29 and again on Nov. 4, NewsMax insisted that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating Plame's outing, said that Plame was not "covert," meaning that any reference to her as such -- NewsMax came up with "more than 3,100" in a Nexis search -- is erroneous.
But the Fitzgerald quote NewsMax uses to support this claim, from his Oct. 28 news conference, doesn't say that Plame wasn't covert:
"I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert. And anything I say is not intended to say anything beyond this: that she was a CIA officer from January 1st, 2002, forward . . . We have not made any allegation that Mr. Libby knowingly, intentionally outed a covert agent. We have not charged that. And so I'm not making that assertion."
In other words, contrary to what NewsMax is putting into his mouth, Fitzgerald has made no determination as to whether Plame was covert.
NewsMax did admit that Fitzgerald said that Plame had "classified" status -- a statement which NewsMax, for some reason, did not want to quote directly; it was replaced by the ellipsis in the above quote -- but then discounted it as "a security status enjoyed by almost everyone who works at the agency."
In the Oct. 29 article, NewsMax adds: "Surely the press will begin issuing its Leakgate retractions any minute now." That statement might have more resonance if NewsMax retracted its claim that it never reported that U2 was holding a fund-raiser for Rick Santorum. C'mon, NewsMax, set an example.
Balance! Topic: CNSNews.com
A Nov. 4 CNSNews.com article does something very few ConWeb articles do -- tell the other side of a story that has become a cause celebre for conservatives without setting it up as a straw man for conservatives to knock down.
The article, by Nathan Burchfiel, serves up the reaction of the superintendent of the California school district at the center of a lawsuit over a questionnaire of elementary-school students that included sexually oriented questions. That lawsuit resulted in the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals dismissing the suit and ruling that "There is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children."
Burchfiel's article quotes the superintendent as criticizing the motives of the parents who sued the school district over the survey, noting that the district had apologized to the parents and admitted that the questions weren't appropriate. It serves as balance to CNS' Nov. 3 article on the case, which carried the headline "Appeals Court Declares Parenthood Unconstitutional, Group Says."
WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, has reported only criticism of the ruling and didn't note the school district's apology or admissions prior to the lawsuit being filed.
No Vote, No Voice Topic: Newsmax
If you don't vote, your opinion doesn't count, NewsMax has decreed.
A Nov. 5 NewsMax article bashes a Gallup poll on Samuel Alito's stance on abortion -- if it becomes clear Alito would vote to reverse the abortion ruling Roe v. Wade, the poll states, Americans would not want the Senate to confirm him, by 53 percent to 37 percent -- for daring to include people who don't vote as part of its sample because, it claims, non-voters skew polls more liberal:
Surveys of "adults" are notorious for yielding more liberal results than surveys of "registered voters." Surveys of "likely voters" tend to trend more conservative still - and are considered the most accurate predictors of election results.
Since non-voting "adults" have opted out of the political process, they're really irrelevant. Their presence in any poll is likely to distort its findings - almost always in favor of the liberal candidate or issue at hand.
But abortion rights are not something that has not been put to a vote. So whether non-voters have been allowed to take part in a poll on the issue is as irrelevant as NewsMax claims non-voting Americans are.
Taking Criticism Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 4 WorldNetDaily "news" article -- in reality, a promo for David Kupelian's WND-published book "The Marketing of Evil" -- singles out negative reviews of the book on Amazon, inferring that the critics are only interested in lowering the book's Amazon rating, sarcastically dismissing such criticism as "brilliant literary critiques." Amazon reviewers who wax rhapsodic over the book, meanwhile, "sound a very different theme – in fact, it's hard to believe they're writing about the same book."
One thing you will not see from Kupelian is any response to his critics, since it's much easier to dismiss the most extreme critics and portray them as representative of all your critics and, therefore, not worth responding to.
Last December, ConWebWatch posted a critique of Kupelian's "media matrix" theory, which is the basis of a chapter of "The Marketing of Evil," which pointed out that WND creates the very same matrixes. Is it brilliant? I'd like to think so. It raises legitimate questions about WND's news operation and its reporting techniques, and it doesn't resort to the type of language you see in the typical Amazon review. To date, neither Kupelian nor anyone else at WND has responded to the article. Then again, Joseph Farah has never admitted, let alone apologized, for his blatant plagiarism, so such refusal to ackowledge even the existence of legitimate criticism of WND is not new.
Why doesn't Kupelian or Farah or anyone else at WND want to defend their website? Y'all know where to find me.
Racial Indignities Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily columnist Mychal Massie is among the Project 21 members lending his comments to a Nov. 4 press release calling for the repudiation of "racial indignities" targeted at politicians.
WND Smears Michael Schiavo -- Again Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has finally abandoned all pretense of being fair to Michael Schiavo in a Nov. 4 article noting his endorsement of a candidate in the Virginia governor's race (the Democratic one; WND would be avoiding this like the plague had Schiavo endorsed the Republican). The article prominently states that Schiavo was "[d]ubbed 'America's most admired widower this side of O.J. Simpson' by American Spectator." WND even put the "America's most admired widower" in the headline.
The Peddler Topic: Accuracy in Media Atrios reminds us of the dubious, rumor-peddling history of Joseph DiGenova, who's currently working through Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid to peddle a new rumor: that sending Joseph Wilson to Niger investigate purported sales of uranium yellowcake to Iraq was actually a "covert operation" against President Bush to undermine the administration's Iraq war policy.
Conspiracy! Topic: Horowitz
In a Nov. 2 entry on the Moonbat Central blog, Richard Poe suggests that commies are conspiring with Democrats to impeach Bush. He has no actual evidence of this, of course, just a couple circumstancial coincidences that cause him to "suspect coordination."
Poe is big on conspiracies, though not real big on actual evidence to support them, as ConWebWatch has detailed.
Defending Student, AND What He Said Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com picks up on the story of the student facing sanctions at a Catholic university for calling homosexuals "subhuman." A Nov. 1 article by Randy Hall notes that the student's defenders have ceased being offended by the remark and are now describing it as an accurate description of homsexual behavior. quoting Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization dedicated to renewing Catholic identity at the church's colleges and universities,
"No doubt Catholic teaching on this subject is unpopular and offends many people who disagree with it," he stated. "But if gay sex is gravely sinful and opposed to the natural order of human sexuality and family life, then to argue that it is beneath human dignity is as accurate as it is provocative."
CNS has used the Cardinal Newman Society as a source before, reproducing a press release from the group back in May that complained that commencement speakers at Catholic colleges weren't Catholic enough.