Faulty MRC Analysis Topic: Media Research Center
An excellent example of why the Media Research Center fails as a credible media "watchdog" is a Jan. 12 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard. In it, he lambastes ABCs Martin Bashir for a "Nightline" segment in which, in Sheppard's words, he "brought on an Arkansas 'abortionist' to sell America the virtues of this oftentimes ghastly procedure." Why the scare quotes around "abortionist"? Sheppard never explains; it's a perfectly accurate term for what the doctor does and, indeed, what the doctor, William Harrison, calls himself. Perhaps Sheppard wanted Bashir to work words like "evil" or "minion of Satan" in there somehow.
The rest of Sheppard's article is excerpts from the transcript of Bashir's segment interspersed with Sheppard's comments imputing motives to Bashir that the transcript excerpts doesn't even support:
-- Sheppard claimed that Bashir "got political" when all Bashir did was state that Harrison's concern "is no longer with critics and protesters but with the prospect of Judge Samuel Alito being confirmed." Harrison is the one who "got political," not Bashir.
-- Sheppard claimed that "Bashir then depicted a gruesome position against adoption as an alternative to abortion." In fact, he lets the doctor speak for himself and highlights the fact that Harrison doesn't mention adoption as an alternative.
-- Sheppard then said that "Bashir then sold the necessity of abortion in our nation"; in fact, he asked the following question of the abortion doctor: "Roe v. Wade was originally conceived as an opportunity for women to have choice. But you seem to be suggesting that the women that you see actually have no choice." How is that "selling the necessity of abortion"?
-- Sheppard claimed that "Bashir concluded by painting a picture of abortion being a way for women to be "born again.'" While Bashir says it here first in response to Harrison's claim that a woman who has undergone an abortion has been "given her life back," Harrison originally made the claim in a Nov. 29 Los Angeles Times article, from which the idea to have him on "Nightline" presumably sprung.
Putting words into people's mouths and ascertaining purported motives, as Sheppard does here, is hardly the stuff of serious media analysis. If the MRC wants to continue to be taken seriously as a media analyst and not just a source for conservative complaints about the media, it should more closely scrutinize NewsBusters posts such as these before making them public. After all, the small army of NewsBusters posters, while for the most part not MRC employees, are operating under the MRC name and reflect on the entire organization.
Misleading NewsMax Headlines Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax builds smears into a couple recent headlines:
-- A Jan. 11 article on the trial of Democratic activists accused of slashing the tires on vans rented by Republicans carries the headline "'Kerry's Criminals': Democrats on Trial." But the term "Kerry's criminals" appears nowhere in the article; the person being quoted, apparently, is the NewsMax employee who wrote the headline.
-- In an attempt to link Hillary Clinton to recent inflammatory remarks made by singer Harry Belafonte, a Jan. 12 article carries the headline "Hillary Clinton to Fundraise with Harry Belafonte." But that's not quite true; as the article itself states, Clinton and Belafonte are merely scheduled to be in the same place, "an awards ceremony given by the Children’s Defense Fund, a liberal interest group," at the same time. Belafonte is not raising money for Clinton, as the headline implies.
The short answer, for many members of the Judiciary Committee, is yes.
It appears that the first paragraph actually answers the teaser on the CNS front page that links to the Fact-O-Rama: "There aren't many better opportunities for senators to get face time on national television than as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee grilling a Supreme Court nominee. Could it be that the senators harbor greater ambitions?"
That's just how Horowitz operates -- facts are secondary. He has now admitted that he has no evidence to back up two of the stories he has told multiple times to back up his charges that political bias is rampant in higher education. Horowitz, of course, has a longpattern of embellishing or just making up educational bias claims.
And on his blog, he has corrected yet another claim.
Between this and employee Richard Poe's history of dubious claims and non-disclosure of the Scaife money that funds him, why believe anything that comes out of the Horowitz organization?
No Resting in Peace Topic: Media Research Center
We've previously pointed out how the folks at NewsBusters give deceased conservative journalists an "RIP" bon voyage while not extending the same courtesy to those to don't reinforce the MRC's conservative ideology (like Peter Jennings). The death of New York Times reporter David E. Rosenbaum has received the same non-treatment from NewsBusters, with recognition only from Tim Graham, who noted only that a questioner in a Washington Post online chat suggested that Rosenbaum was assassinated.
This ignoring of Rosenbaum's death comes despite the fact that the MRC has praised his work in the past. An August 2003 CyberAlert called a article he co-wrote on Howard Dean "a solid, balanced piece" (except for the part about the purported conflict of Dean being a "fiscal conservative" yet favoring universal health insurance).
But the MRC has also branded Rosenbaum as a liberal as well, such as naming him runner-up for its 1997 "Bryant Gumbel Journalism Fellowship Award (for Liberal Advocacy)," presumably for daring to suggest that Republicans were in favor of "crippling Medicare and Medicaid." Rosenbaum also ran afoul of the MRC in 1996 for the brazenly suggesting that "a strong commitment to public schools" in the 1996 Democratic platform was a "middle ground" position.
And following a 1994 Rosenbaum analysis of the independent counsel Lawrence Walsh's final report of the seven-year, $40 million Iran-Contra investigation, the MRC wanted to know why he didn't write an analysis of "Walsh's documented financial extravagance." That's a charge we don't recall the MRC making about Kenneth Starr's investigation of Bill Clinton, which cost at least as much as Walsh's investigation.
Speaking of Bias by Omission... Topic: Media Research Center
In claiming in his Jan. 11 column that the underreporting of in-kind costs of a Hillary Clinton fund-raiser (for which her 2000 campaign recently paid a $35,000 fine) was "no tiny boo-boo in oversight," Brent Bozell not only offers no evidence that the underreporting was deliberate, he fails to note that Clinton's campaign manager was cleared of charges that he deliberately underreported the fund-raiser costs. Additionally, Bozell failed to note that the two people who have been pushing this claim are convicted felons angling to reduce their own jail sentences.
ABA Recommendations Suddenly Meaningful Again Topic: Free Congress Foundation
Has the Free Congress Foundation changed its mind about the American Bar Association's recommendations on judicial candidates?
The FCF used to be opposed to attaching any importance to ABA recommendations. As Tom Jipping, then-director of the FCF's Center for Law and Democracy, wrote in a March 2001 FCF commentary, "the quality of the ABA's work on such matters is even more suspect." He added:
Having the playing field unequal, with the ABA enjoying a huge advantage over everyone else, was accomplishing something the political left found very important. Could it be that the ABA's input produced not just objective information about candidates' competence but subjective information about candidates' politics?
Likewise no Senator has responded meaningfully to the fact that the American Bar Association ("ABA") Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously accorded Judge [Samuel] Alito its highest rating: "Well Qualified."
Thus, the ABA Committee clearly conferred its highest approbation upon Judge Alito's nomination by evaluating his merits - not his personal views, the positions he took on behalf of clients, his practicing Roman Catholicism or his allegedly dangerous conservatism.
Let's dispense with the mindless and often vicious negativism and, as the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary did, consider the nominee's merits.
Half the Story on Abramoff Topic: Newsmax
Both NewsMax and CNSNews.com want you to think that Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean is lying when he said that "There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money." In a Jan. 9 article, NewsMax claimed that Dean told a "fib"; a Jan. 9 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones merely regurgitated the flawed claim by the National Republican Senatorial Committee that Senate Democrats took money from "Jack Abramoff, his associates, and Indian tribe clients."
But Dean's claim is basically true: While Abramoff may have directed money through "associates and Indian tribe clients" to Democrats, all money donated under Abramoff's name went to Republicans; none went to Democrats. And as we've noted, the NRSC list lumps in donations by the PAC of Abramoff's former employer that Abramoff may have had nothing to do with.
Don't expect the ConWeb to explain the full truth to its readers.
Klein's Whitewashing Continues Topic: WorldNetDaily
With his Jan. 7 follow-up article on Yekutel Ben Yaacov's plan to create an "autonomous Jewish entity" in the West Bank, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein not only fails to report Ben Yaacov's history of violent extremism, he whitewashes his mentor, Meir Kahane, in the process.
As we've noted, blogger Richard Bartholomew has identifed Ben Yaacov as Mike Guzovsky, a one-time leader of the now-outlawed Kach/Kahane Chai movement in Israel, a group with a history of violence. Guzovsky/Ben Yaacov is on record as praising Baruch Goldstein for massacaring 29 Arabs in 1994.
Klein tells you none of this, even though he reports that the offices of Ben Yaacov's group were raided by Israeli security officials. You'd think Ben Yaacov's history of violence and support of terrorism might be worth mentioning as an logical explanation for the amount of police and military force used in the raid. He does, however, report the following:
In 1989, the late author and Knesset member Rabbi Meir Kahane, a mentor of Ben Yaacov, attempted to found the State of Judea, a Jewish state in Judea and Samaria. That effort eventually fell through.
Describing Kahane as merely an "author and Knesset member" nicely obscures Kahane's own history of racism and violence, so much so that his Kach party (which lived on as Kahane Chai after his 1990 assassination) was declared a terrorist organization by Israel. We suspect there's a lot more about Kahane's "State of Judea" that Klein isn't telling us.
How is it that Klein thinks asking God to kill Ariel Sharon is "fringe," yet the violent extremist backgrounds of people like Kahane and Ben Yaacov are not worth mentioning? Klein has a history of this.
NewsBusters No Longer Hearts Chinese Media? Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 7 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield laments that MSN has, obeying the Chinese government, started censoring blog posts.
But we thought you NewsBusters guys were big fans of the way the Chinese government does its media.
Getting Serious Topic: Newsmax
Having the likes of Wes Vernon and Jon Dougherty do its reporting, NewsMax has for years been far behind its competitors WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com in original non-opinion news. It may be starting to get serious: A Jan. 7 article on possible fallout from the fact that Duke Cunningham was secretly taping conversations for the feds has on its byline Paul Rodriguez, the former editor of the Moonie-run Insight magazine (killed off as a print publication in 2004, it lives on as a website). It's a surprisingly well-done story too, with only a couple of paragraphs far down in the article complaining that the Jack Abramoff scandal hasn't focused enough on Democrats (ignoring the fact that Abramoff did the vast majority of his personal dealings with Republicans, therefore that's where the focus is).
While Rodriguez does have those conservative-Moonie ties, he at least has a reporting pedigree to match Christopher Ruddy himself. That may not be saying much, but it beats the heck out of folks like Vernon and Dougherty, especially if NewsMax hopes to be taken somewhat seriously as a news source.
Rodriguez shared a byline with Anthony Kimery, who appears to have a history of focusing on homeland security issues (and was a contributing writer to Insight). He also appears to have written some Clinton-era scandal-mongering, though we don't know for sure since the links have gone bad.
Sharon Death Wish: Once 'Fringe," Now Acceptable? Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a July 2005 WorldNetDaily article, Aaron Klein reported on a group of what he called "fringe activists" who were "calling for angels of death to kill Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and thwart his Gaza withdrawal plan." Klein took great pains to paint anyone involved in the ceremony as "fringe," adding at one point:
Participants in the ceremony are not mainstream leaders in the anti-withdrawal campaign, which distanced itself from the Pulsa Dinura [ceremony, in which "God is asked to curse a sinner, usually an enemy of the Jewish people"]. Some participants have previously been accused of serving as provocateurs and damaging the settlement cause.
But WND has been quite slow to criticize Pat Robertson for suggesting that Sharon's massive stroke was a retaliation from God because Sharon allegedly was"dividing God's land." In fact, a Jan. 6 WND online poll shows that a majority of WND readers appear to have no problem with Robertson's statement.
Why is WND so squeamish about the Sharon death wish but not about Robertson's claim of divine retribution?
Klein Hides Background of Violent Extremists -- Again Topic: WorldNetDaily Bartholomew notes that WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein is again covering up the background of the Israeli right-wing extremists he interviews. It turns out that the "northern Samaria resident” Klein quoted in a Jan. 6 WND article as advocating the creation of an "autonomous Jewish entity" in Judea and Samaria (as Klein insists on calling it; it's better known to the rest of the world as the West Bank) is actually a terrorist and former leader of the extremist Kach/Kahane Chai movement, responsible for the deaths of numerous people.