Today's NewsBusters Nonsense Topic: NewsBusters
This is threatening to be a regular feature...
-- Mark Finkelstein praises Katie Couric for browbeating Howard Dean for making a factually accurate statement ("Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff went to any Democrat at any time"), then added that "while Abramoff didn't contribute his own money to Dems, he directed his clients, notably Indian casinos, to do so. A classic distinction without a difference." Wrong: Indian tribes who were Abramoff's clients donated much more money to Republicans than they did pre-Abramoff.
-- Noel Sheppard breathlessly reports on the conservative media food chain regarding a "shocking" poll claiming that Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice have similarly negative numbers regarding a 2008 presidential run, which Sheppard claims "the press appear frightened to share with the public":
Rush Limbaugh reported about this during his program yesterday, which means that he had this information in the AM Wednesday. As the Drudge Report posted the story at 10:52 AM EST (assuming I'm doing a good job of converting from GMT!), this makes sense. An hour later, both NewsMax and World Net Daily reported it.
Yeah, if Rush, NewsMax and WND say it's story, then by golly, it must be. We suspect they weren't playing up the fact that Rice's negatives were nearly as high as Hillary's.
New Article: A Highly Compromised Disseminator Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily, self-proclaimed exposer of government corruption, has been all but silent about two big government corruption cases -- Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff. Is it because they're Republicans? Read more.
NewsBusters Nonsense Topic: NewsBusters
-- Lyford Beverage, in a Jan. 25 post, falls for the same fallacy that fellow NewsBuster Michael Rule did -- that anything the Bush administration says is automatically true because they're Republicans. Like Rule, Beverage claims that the NSA's eavesdropping isn't "domestic spying" simply because Michael Hayden said it wasn't.
(UPDATE: Beverage falls for it again in another Jan. 25 post, claiming that the Associted Press has "implicitly called him a liar by continuing to call the program 'domestic spying' when the White House has repeatedly pointed out the inaccuracy of the term.")
-- Clay Waters approvingly reported on an article by David Boaz of the Cato Institute in Reason magazine claiming "an undeniable pattern of media unease in the network and newspaper coverage of the nomination of conservative Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, compared to how those same outlets treated Bill Clinton's 1993 nomination of liberal ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg." But the report, by David Boaz, contains a serious whopper: "Obviously [Byron White's] replacement by the former general counsel of the ACLU was going to 'move the court dramatically to the left.'" Boaz makes no mention of the fact that Ginsburg compiled a largely centrist record on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -- where she served for 12 years after her ACLU stint -- often voting with conservative judges such as Kenneth Starr and Laurence Silberman.
-- Cinnamon "The Terrorist Whitewasher" Stillwell weighs in with a Jan. 25 post linking Pete McCloskey, who is running as a Republican for Richard Pombo's House seat, to Lyndon LaRouche and Holocaust revisionists. Stillwell noted that "Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay’s names are invoked frequently" in articles on McCloskey, but she never says why. That would be because Pombo has been implicated in a Abramoff-like scheme to keep the FDIC from investigating a banking buddy of DeLay's. That seems like it would have been important to mention, but as we know, Stillwell isn't into stuff like that.
-- In a Jan. 24 post, Dave Pierre dismissed Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein, who wrote a column claiming that he didn't support our troops, as the product of a "sheltered, out-of-touch, Hollywood mindset." Pierre might want to rethink that stance: Stein also supports the great conservative cause of cutting off government funding for public broadcasting.
CNS Continues Disingenousness Streak Topic: CNSNews.com
In a Jan. 25 letter to the editor, a CNSNews.com reader named Ed writes: "I find it incomprehensible that you trash fellow Vietnam vets like former Vice President Al Gore, Sen. John Kerry and Rep. John Murtha while glorifying President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who were not in Vietnam." To which the "editor" (presumably editor in chief David Thibault) responded: "Ed, I respect your viewpoint, but Cybercast News Service has never “glorified” the military records of President Bush or Vice President Cheney. It never happened and never will."
That is a disingenous response, one of several such responses emanating from CNS in the wake of its John Murtha hit job. CNS has not defended Cheney's military record because he has no record to defend, having recieved five deferments from military service during the Vietnam era.
While a quick search through CNS' news archive revealed no explicit examples of CNS "glorifying" Bush's military record, CNS attacked anyone who criticized it: It was a early promoter of attacks on CBS' report on Bush's National Guard record based in part on unauthenticated documents (while ignoring other questions about Bush's service not connected to the documents), and it served as an uncritical mouthpiece for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's accusations against John Kerry. Thibault himself was as eager to smear Kerry and CBS as his news service; a Sept. 20, 2004, commentary by him gleefully observed "the credibility of CBS News, its 72-year old anchor Dan Rather and their left wing media and public sycophants spiraling down the drain" and claimed that Kerry "set the events in motion" by saying "Reporting for duty" during his August 2004 acceptance speech, despite the fact that CNS was reporting on the Swift Boat Veterans in May, three months before the convention.
Any chance CNS will offer readers an honest response to its Murtha attack -- you know, that they're unabashed conservatives whose only mission was to attack a critic of a conservative president? Don't count on it.
Framing the Debate Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 24 NewsBusters post by Michael Rule accuses CBS of trying to "frame the debate" over the NSA wiretapping program as "'domestic spying' and warrantless wiretaps," as if it was fictional that there weren't domestic spying and warrantless wiretaps going on.
Rule also quoted ex-NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden as insisting that the eavesdropping wasn't "domestic spying" without pointing out that Hayden is trying to "frame the debate" as much as Rule accuses CBS of doing, if not more. As a government official trying to defend the program, Hayden has a highly interest in framing the debate, and Rule should acknowledge that.
Let's not give the Bush administration a pass and assume it's telling the truth just because it's Republican, OK, Mike?
Compelling vs. Factual Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 23 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard complained the no TV network "did justice to the extraordinarily compelling description of the NSA eavesdropping program" by former NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden. NBC was singled out by Sheppard for ignoring "the most compelling statement made today by Gen. Hayden: 'Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the al Qaeda operatives in the United States, and we would have identified them as such.'"
But "compelling," alas, is not the same as "factual." As Media Matters notes, Hayden never substantiates his claim that warrantless wiretapping would have prevented 9/11, and that the U.S. had information in hand that could have stopped 9/11 had bureaucratic snafus not gotten in the way.
A lot of things are compelling, but that doesn't make them factual. Doesn't Sheppard know that yet?
Yeah, It's Stunning, All Right Topic: Newsmax
A Jan. 24 NewsMax article summarizes a "stunning analysis" by Victoria Toensing in the Wall Street Journal that repeats the false claims she made -- such as Jamie Gorelick's wall (a favorite NewsMax canard) and the FISA law's alleged inapplication to modern electonic eavesdropping -- even after Media Matters debunked Toensing's claims.
Thibault responded to criticism from New York Times columnist Frank Rich by bringing up the Jayson Blair scandal: "Frank, you haven't forgotten the scandal in which Blair fabricated quotes, whole interviews and plagiarized from other news sources for articles that your paper's editors gladly published without practicing any due diligence, have you?" Thibault added that "CNSNews.com was, proudly, the first news organization to report on the existence of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004."
But as ConWebWatch has documented, CNS obscured the Swift Boat Veterans' political ties and made no effort to fact-check the group's claims against John Kerry.
Thibault also pretended that he and CNS aren't partisan operatives, responding again to Rich: "But I haven't worked at the Republican National Committee in nine years Frank. And before that job, I spent five years in the liberal newsroom of WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. I guess y'all must have missed that little point on my bio, eh?"
This ignores the fact that CNS has a long history of pro-conservative, anti-liberal activism disguised as journalism -- as does Thibault, who has lied about Paul Begala, declared that Jeff Gannon is "no conservative," and attacked supporters of John Kerry as "chumps," "simply naive" and accused them of holding an "unfortunate political mindset that cares not a whit about the cultural erosion in America." He also said: "I want George Bush to win re-election."
Naaah, Thibault's not a partisan conservative at all.
Thibault, by the way, offers no evidence that WJLA is "liberal" beyond the standard conservative presumtpion that because it's "mainstream" media, it must be liberal.
NewsMax Back to Supressing Scaife Link Topic: Newsmax
A Jan. 23 NewsMax article recounts an item by Editor & Publisher columnist Greg Mitchell about an editorial by the Richard Mellon Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review endorsing a U.S. pullout from Iraq. NewsMax insists on calling him "Richard M. Scaife" and adds that he "has been named by Time magazine as one of the most influential Americans and was recently listed in the Financial Times as one of the world’s 25 most influential billionaires."
While NewsMax repeats Mitchell's statement that Scaife is "one of the chief funders of conservative think-tanks and activist causes around the country," it failed to tell its readers one significant fact: One of the "activist causes" Scaife funds is NewsMax, as ConWebWatch first reported back in 2002 and which NewsMax first acknowledged on its website only last year, after the New York Times pointed it out.
Two Levels of Wrong Topic: WorldNetDaily
Craig R. Smith manages to work multiple levels of wrongness into this paragraph in his Jan. 23 WorldNetDaily column:
Back in the 1990's, President Bill Clinton (with sidekick Al [Gore]) used these same "illegal" searches on at least one American citizen, Aldridge Aims. Mr. Aims hadn't called al-Qaida or Hezbollah. In fact, he was an American on American soil. But he was selling secrets to our enemies. Clinton authorized the surveillance of Aims without a warrant. Thankfully he did. Aims now sits in a federal prison for the rest of his life so he can't hurt America any more.
Aside from painfully misspelling Aldrich Ames' name, Smith is wrong to claim that the Ames-related warrantless searches were "illegal." They were not illegal in 1993, when they were conducted. The FISA law that governs such searches did not cover them until 1995.
New Article: Out There, Exhibit 37: Betraying the Lost Cause Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax trashes the Confederacy in order to trash the Clintons once more. How will that go over with its conservative readers? Read more.
Stillwell Hides Background (Again) Topic: NewsBusters
Cinnamon Stillwell -- she of the Israeli extremist whitewashing -- checks in again with a Jan. 22 NewsBusters post, copiously citing a group called MEMRI as claiming that the recent Osama bin Laden audiotape was mistranslated by "the media," implying that this was done deliberately (this is a site that criticizes "the media," after all).
What Stillwell fails to report (in this instance, anyway) is that MEMRI has been criticized as a group that specializes in translating articles that portray Arabs and Muslims in a negative light.
So we're guessing by Stillwell's new post that NewsBusters has no problem with someone who apparently sympathizes with violent extremists writing for them.
Lack of Disclosure Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
A Jan. 20 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall on state funding restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas identifies Planned Parenthood as "the nation's most frequent provider of abortions." But Hall applied no descriptors to the anti-abortion groups featured in the article, the Texas Alliance for Life and STOPP International, not even describing them as "pro-life" groups.
Texas Alliance for Life's agenda is probably easy enough to figure out by name alone, but STOPP International's isn't, and it would seem to be an important one to note that is relevant to this article: STOPP has a specific agenda to attack Planned Parenthood, which perhaps colors what they have to say just a tad.