Stuff We Missed Topic: Media Research Center
A couple things that we overlooked while away from home base for the holidays:
-- A Jan. 3 MRC CyberAlert by Brent Baker (repeating a Dec. 21 NewsBusters post) praised CBS for quoting Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman as taking the Bush administration's position on the Bush administration's domestic spying without a warrant -- that is, that "the program is essential to U.S. national security" and that the disclosure of the possibly illegal spying "has damaged critical intelligence capabilities." But Media Matters notes that Harman also said something that CBS (and Baker) didn't report: "Like many Americans, I am deeply concerned by reports that this program in fact goes far beyond the measures to target Al Qaeda about which I was briefed."
-- Mithridate Ombud responded to our post about his/her post touting the UCLA study purportedly conclusively proving liberal media bias. He/she asks: "So you're saying that someone who was or is a conservative can't possibly conduct a study on anything that examines bias in the media? ... And by that logic, wouldn't it be fair to say that liberals can't report news fairly?" Well, Mr/Ms. Ombud, you and other conservatives already assume that "liberals can't report news fairly," so you also have to presume that conservatives can't be fair journalists either (which I demonstrate here on a regular basis). As long as you push the idea of your ideological opposites being biased, you open the door to the idea of your side being biased as well. Admit that conservative journalists are as biased as the liberal journalists you love to condemn, Mr/Ms. Ombud, and we'll have gotten somewhere.
Misleading Poll Touted Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 3 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard touts a Rasmussen Reports poll that found that “Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States" as an example of how "the nation doesn’t feel the Bush administration is doing anything wrong." A Dec. 28 NewsBusters post by John Armor touted the poll as well, as did a Dec. 28 WorldNetDaily article.
But the poll question apparently (based on this article; you have to pay to see the actual poll data) failed to point out one important aspect of this program: The intercepts are conducted without warrants or any apparent court oversight. Putting that in the question would likely produce a different result.
Non-Disclosure Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Thus far, WorldNetDaily has run a Jan. 2 article and a Jan. 3 column by Jack Cashill promoting Joel Miller's new book, "Size Matters: How Big Government Puts the Squeeze on America's Families, Finances, and Freedom." Nowhere is it disclosed that Miller is a former WorldNetDaily editor and that his publisher, Thomas Nelson, is a former business partner with WND in its WND Books imprint. (After the partnership ended, Thomas Nelson continued the division under the Nelson Current imprint -- of which Miller is senior editor -- while WND found a new co-publisher for the WND Books imprint, Cumberland House.)
Downplaying Domestic Terrorism Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a Jan. 2 WorldNetDaily column, WND editor Joseph Farah accuses the media of downplaying reports of alleged domestic terrorism. He lists examples of what he calls "law enforcement officials and the press establishment going out of their way to downplay even the possibility of terrorism."
Conspicuously missing from Farah's list is the case of William Krar of Tyler, Texas, who Ain 2003 was found in possession of nearly two pounds of a cyanide compound and other chemicals that could create enough poisonous gas to kill everyone inside a space as large as a big-chain bookstore or a small-town civic center. Authorities also discovered nearly half a million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers and remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases, plus pamphlets on how to make chemical weapons, and anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-government books.
Yet WND has run only one original article on Krar, a December 2003 article following Krar's arrest -- but nothing since. Why hasn't WND focused on this case?
Perhaps because it couldn't find a Muslim connection. WND apparently believes that only Muslims are terrorists and that any Muslim who commits an act of violence is therefore, by definition, a terrorist. In his column, Farah states:
I recall how any possibility that the Beltway sniper attacks were connected with terrorism was dismissed. It turned out they were carried out by two Muslims.
Farah implies that the sniper attacks were terrorism simply because John Allan Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were Muslims, an accusation he has made before (as ConWebWatch has noted). But Muhammad and Malvo weren't Islamic terrorists; their motivation was apparently money and revenge.
But as we've noted, if WND can't demonize Muslims, it will lose interest in a story.
WND also sympathizes with at least some of Krar's views. The WND article on Krar notes that he "has not paid taxes since 1988." WND regularlyreports the stories of people who believe that paying income tax is voluntary and not mandatory or who consider the refusal to pay taxes a legitimate form of protest.
Kincaid's Gay Obsession Watch Topic: Accuracy in Media
As we somehow knew he would, Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid weighs in on "Brokeback Mountain" in a Jan. 2 column. Kincaid establishes the column's tone in the first sentence: "The media are showing their pro-homosexual bias with their excessive coverage of the 'Cowboy Sweethearts' movie, Brokeback Mountain." He adds that the movie is "another breakthrough for the homosexual lobby, which still manages to transform their deadly and dangerous lifestyle into something considered mainstream and even attractive."
Then and Now Topic: Newsmax
In a series of bizarre comments that show the depth of the failed thinking at the nation's premier intelligence service, the former head of the CIA unit charged with capturing or killing Osama bin Laden said on Sunday that the terror mastermind was a "remarkable," "great" and "admirable" man.
"He's really a remarkable man," former CIA agent Michael Scheuer told NBC's "Meet the Press."
The man who ran the Central Intelligence Agency's Bin Laden desk during the 1990s is accusing President Clinton of giving the CIA carte blanche to circumvent U.S. law and interrogate terrorist suspects in any way the agency saw fit - a directive that led to the establishment of secret CIA prisons on foreign soil.
"We asked the president what we should do with the people we capture," recalled Michael Scheuer, who headed up the agency's Bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, in an interview Wednesday with the German newsmagazine Die Zeit.
Larry Klayman Returns Topic: WorldNetDaily
Wonder what Clinton-harrassing lawyer Larry Klayman has been up to lately? After leaving Judicial Watch (where his conservative buddies ignored him after he started filing lawsuits against Republicans) and getting stomped in an election for a Senate seat in Florida, Klayman has now signed on with another law firm and making more dubious claims.
A Dec. 30 WorldNetDaily article reports that Klayman is representing a Florida family who blames the death of their 9-year-old son on the state's Department of Children and Families because the agency tried to force the family to seek treatment for the boy's bone cancer over the family's objections. The family claims that the boy's cancer was too advanced at the time it was discovered and that chemotherapy and radiation would not help their son.
The strange thing about this article is that it's the most balanced original piece WND has published in months. While writer Ron Strom devotes most of the article to statements by the boy's parents and Klayman (typical Klayman statemen: "DCF thought they knew better. ... They caused the death of a young child and caused a tremendous amount of emotional distress") and includes only token comments from DCF officials, Strom's telling of the circumstances surrounding the boy's death casts doubt over whether Klayman has a case. He writes that the boy died en route to a hospital after the DCF allegedly demanded that the boy be evaluated following complaints that the parents were denying the boy pain medication based on their religious beliefs, but offers no evidence that the boy would have survived had he not been moved.
The question is obvious: How did WND let an article that tells both sides of the story slip through a system that typically permits only the most biased pieces to see the light of day?
Kincaid noted that after his call for a stop-gay-sex public-service campaign, he "was contacted for an interview by someone with Q Television World News on the Q Television Network. I declined after discovering that this is yet another homosexual channel." He continued: "This programming poisons our culture. But most commentators are reluctant to say this."
Kincaid concludes with a fine example of whining:
My count shows that the homosexuals now have two networks devoted exclusively to their cause. And what about conservatives? We used to have Fox News Channel. Now it runs global warming specials featuring Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and its news coverage is being manipulated by a Saudi Prince and investor in the Fox parent company to benefit global Islam.
A Biased WND Editor Topic: WorldNetDaily
The next time you hear conservatives complaining about media bias, keep in mind a Dec. 28 column by Joe Kovacs, executive news editor for WorldNetDaily. Here, he displays plenty of bias that has undoubtedly spilled over into its news coverage.
Kovacs refers to anti-war protesters as "crazy Froot Loops from the leftward land of silliness." He claims that " Sandy 'Burglar' Berger had found a novel way to preserve classified documents by pickling them in his pants and socks" despite the fact that there's no evidence of Berger smuggling documents via his socks. He throws in an unflattering photo of Hillary Clinton with the caption, "Did Hillary suddenly realize she's still married to Bill?" He repeats a dubious claim (promoted by WND, by the way, as a bigger story than a corrupt congressman) that a book signing by anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan's was a failure; after noting Sheehan's claim that she sold all the books at that signing and that she "got writer's cramp signing them," Kovacs adds: "The loneliest, most publicized book-signing in history, and Cindy gets cramps. I think there's a cure for that. It's called deportation."
Remember, Kovacs is an executive news editor, which means he presumably has some input into WND's news coverage -- what is covered and how. Even though Kovacs takes a jab at USA Today "suggesting it has 'editorial standards,'" we already know all about WND's journalistic standards, which Kovacs also presumably plays a part in promoting.
Remember this column the next time Joseph Farah insists that WND isn't conservative.
NewsBusters News Topic: Media Research Center
A couple tidbits from NewsBusters:
-- A Dec. 27 post by Mark Finkelstein laments that the hosts of NBC's "Today" have stopped playing along with Ann Coulter's provocative schtick. The rest of us, meanwhile, lament that the bookers at "Today" take her seriously enough to put her on the show in the first place.
-- In a Dec. 28 post commenting on a New York Times article about Christian film criticism, Tim Graham takes issue with one person's assertion in the article that conservative Christians would have protested showing "Schindler's List" because of the nudity. Graham wrote: "Some might have protested the necessity of nudity to the storyline, but I doubt anyone suggested it 'should not be shown.' Did anyone?"
In so many words, yes. Oklahoma Rep. Tom Coburn attacked NBC for airing an uncut version of "Schindler's List," saying that NBC had taken network television "to an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity" by airing the movie. He said the broadcast should outrage parents and "decent-minded individuals everywhere." Coburn later claimed that he meant that the film should have been broadcast later in the evening.
Posted by Terry K.
at 11:49 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 12:11 PM EST
WND Hides Rest of Falwell Story Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 27 WorldNetDaily article noting that the Los Angeles Times corrected a claim made in an op-ed that Rev. Jerry Falwell "claimed that Ellen DeGeneres played a role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina because she was the host of the Emmy Awards ceremony preceding both events." The WND article stated that "Falwell frequently has been criticized for frank comments on cultural and religious issues," then cited as an example Falwell's statements attacking the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."
We would insert a comment here about how a real news organization would have noted that relevant fact, but we've already established that WND isn't a real news organization.
UPDATE: Dave Pierre at NewsBusters also mentions this in a Dec. 25 post -- and also fails to note Falwell's similar statement.
We're not excusing the LA Times for not catching the false claim in the first place, but the faux outrage by WND and Pierre hides the fact that, given that he has made a similar statement, such a claim by Falwell is not as far-fetched as they want you to believe.
Posted by Terry K.
at 11:20 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 11:54 AM EST
Defending Dick Morris Topic: Newsmax
A Dec. 25 NewsMax article runs to the defense of Dick Morris after the New York Times panned Morris' "Condi vs. Hillary" book by rather lamely claiming that Morris isn't the only one who, in the review's words, "clearly has some unresolved issues with Hillary Clinton."
NewsMax fails to note that, in addition to his unresolved Hillary issues, Morris has a dismalhistory of political prognostication.
Posted by Terry K.
at 1:59 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 11:23 AM EST
'Rape of the Marlboro Man' Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 27 WorldNetDaily column by David "Matrix" Kupelian is at least the fifth commentary WND has published attacking "Brokeback Mountain," and the first to claim that the film is about "raping the 'Marlboro Man,' that revered American symbol of rugged individualism and masculinity." Kupelian goes on to claim the the movie's goal is to "desensitize us to the immoral and destructive reality of what we're seeing, while fervently coaxing us into embracing that which we once rightly shunned."
Bonus points to Kupelian for likening homosexuality to drug use and pedophilia:
I guarantee Hollywood could make a movie about a man and his drug dealer, or an adult-child sexual relationship, that would pull on our emotions and create some level of sympathy for the characters. Furthermore, in at least some cases, it would make us doubt our conscience – a gift directly from God, the perception of right and wrong that he puts in each one of us – our inner knowing that this was a totally unhealthy and self-destructive relationship.
As I said at the outset, Hollywood has now raped the Marlboro Man. It has taken a revered symbol of America – the cowboy – with all the powerful emotions and associations that are rooted deep down in the pioneering American soul, and grafted onto it a self-destructive lifestyle it wants to force down Americans' throats.
'This Beautiful Black Woman" Topic: Media Research Center
A Dec. 23 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham notes that a Washington Post magazine profile on Republican lobbyist Angela McGlowan "never mentioned what makes this beautiful black woman different from the norm -- that Republican resume."
We somehow suspect that Graham has never referred to any black female Democrat -- say, Donna Brazile -- as a "beautiful black woman."