NewsBusters Nonsense, 1/31 Topic: NewsBusters
-- Tim Graham takes a whack at a Time magazine reporter for "flacking" for a convicted murderer who proclaimed his innocence (later DNA testing showed him to be guilty). Graham's employer has not been bothered by that before. CNSNews.com has run five articles (here, here, here, here, and here) that cite Gary McCullough, mostly in his role as "media coordinator" and spokesman for Terri Schiavo's relatives, and none of them mention McCullough's murderer-flacking history: He was a media consultant to Paul Hill, who was convicted and executed for the murder of a doctor who performed abortions (and is quoted as saying, "Paul Hill is my friend. No, I won't denounce his actions").
-- Mark Finkelstein unearths another insidious example of "liberal media bias" in the woodwork: a sports columnist who was exhibiting "blatant blue state/red state bias" claiming that Detroit is "a real city" because "[y]ou can get the New York Times here", while calling Jacksonville, Fla., a "yahoo town."
-- Lyford Beverage complains that the Washington Post offered an "apparent attempt at humor" on the State of the Union address that is "a mocking, snarky piece, that is ... not close enough to reality to actually be funny." And that differs from NewsBusters' "Gaggle" comic how?
Gays vs. Taxes Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 31 WorldNetDaily article features a same-sex couple who refuse to pay their taxes, claiming discrimination because he is legally prohibited to marry his same-sex partner and therefore unable to claim the tax benefits married couples receive.
Now, WND loves tax protesters. It regularly promotes groups like We the People, group 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.
But rather than offer links to any of its tax-protest articles at the end of the Jan. 31 article, WND instead offered links only to articles on same-sex marriage, such as a 2004 article purporting to explain how "homosexual activists" are trying to "force same-sex marriage on an unwilling nation."
WND did something similar last year, again ignoring its longtime support of tax protesters by trying to sic the IRS on Cindy Sheehan after she vowed not to pay her income taxes as a protest over the Iraq war.
Apparently, only conservatives are allowed to protest paying taxes -- another WND double standard.
It does just that in a Jan. 30 article by Jerry Zeifman attacking Ted Kennedy. Not only does "Former Democratic Chief Counsel" appear in the headline, the tagline describes him as a "lifelong Democrat," and Zeifman himself isn't even five words into his commentary before he is pointing out that he is "a Democrat and former chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee."
So, who is this purported "lifelong Democrat"? The kind of Democrat the Republicans at NewsMax like -- you know, the kind who's actually a Republican. Zeifman is the author of a book called "Without Honor: Crimes of Camelot and the Impeachment of President Nixon," in which he claims, according to a 1996 Washington Post review, that "Kennedy loyalists" such as Hillary Rodham obstructed the Nixon impeachment to protect the reputation of John Kennedy. The Post called the book "an unconvincing, if imaginative, tale of intrigue." Zeifman's conspiracy theories have also popped in such dens of Democratic thought as the New York Post and Judicial Watch. He wrote a 1996 Clinton-bashing commentary for the Wall Street Journal that begins in familiar fashion: "Sadly, as a life-long Democrat and chief counsel of the House Judiciary Committee..."
In other words, like other NewsMax faves like Tammy Bruce and Zell Miller, a Democrat only NewsMax could love.
WND Campaigns for Blackwell Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 30 WorldNetDaily article makes it clearer than ever that the only reason WND has bothered to report on a Republican political scandal in Ohio is that it boosts conservative darling Ken Blackwell.
As we've detailed, despite being a self-proclaimed exposer of government corruption, WND has been essentially AWOL on the two biggest government corruption scandals of recent months, Randy "Duke" Cunningham's bribe-taking and Jack Abramoff's bribe-making. The only Republican-linked scandal it has done any sort of reporting on in recent months is the Ohio "pay to profit" scandal that just happens to implicate many of the Republican challengers to Ken Blackwell's run for governor.
The pro-Blackwell bias was present in the other articles, but WND has stopped trying to hide it in the new article:
Yesterday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a major investigative report disclosing the charges of two prominent Republican lawyers. Jack Morrison and Ray Weber claim their law firms lost virtually all state legal business because they refused to contribute to the campaign of Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.
Petro is the only remaining challenger to Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in the Republican Party gubernatorial election slated for May 2.
Saturday, Blackwell's website published an independent Ohio Republican Party survey showing him with a commanding 10 point lead over Petro, 40 to 30 percent, with 29 percent undecided, despite Petro's $1.6 million television commercial blitz in December and January.
The McLaughlin & Associates research said Blackwell is in a position to extend his lead.
With the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal rocking the Republican Party nationally, the "pay to profit" scandal takes on an additional dimension. The only major Ohio Republican the scandal seems not likely to touch is Blackwell.
"If I could have nailed Blackwell, I would have," [attorney Kenneth] Seminatore told WND. "Believe me, I looked hard, but Blackwell is clean."
If Ken Blackwell emerges as the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Ohio, national pundits believe he will be in a position to carry a reform banner forward for the Republican Party, not just in Ohio, but nationally as well.
Blackwell's campaign ought to be paying for this kind of "news." And WND ought to admit that its "coverage" of the Ohio scandal is little more than a thinly disguised campaign ad for Blackwell.
Propaganda Alert Topic: CNSNews.com
In a Jan. 30 column, CNSNews.com editor David Thibault has informed us that he and his news organization is fully in the tank for the Bush administration (as if we didn't know that already). CNS, he has declared, will be promoting the claims of Georges Sada, author of the new book "Saddam's Secrets: How an Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein." Why? Because Sada "demolishes the myth that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no international threat"; perhaps more importantly, Sada's claims "may or may not be giving Kerry and Pelosi heartburn."
Thibault writes: "It should not surprise any of our readers to learn that Gen. Sada is scheduled to meet on Monday, Jan. 30, with a member of my cracker-jack staff, Sherrie Gossett." Nope -- given the partisan nature of CNS, it doesn't surprise us at all.
What will suprise us, though, is if Gossett and CNS does something other than present Sada's claims at face value -- you know, conduct the interview like a real journalist. Daily Kos outlines some ways to challege Sada here. And while she's at it, Gossett might also want to think about explaining why Sada's book, osensibly dealing with national security issues, is being issued by a religious publisher. Or what Sada is doing hanging out with the same PR agency that handles the likes of Mona Charen, Star Parker, Kenneth Starr, Cal Thomas and Judge Roy Moore. (They call themselves "the oldest and most established Christian-based talent agency in the United States."
Quote of the Day Topic: NewsBusters
"While the impious media will probably plea for Woodruff and Vogt tonight, those of us with a soul will say a prayer for them."
-- Mithridate Ombud of NewsBusters, putting conservatives' hostility toward journalists like ABC's Bob Woodward and Doug Vogt into more perspective. After all, if journalists don't have souls, why feel sorry for them if they are hurt or killed?
Getting It Wrong: The NSA Surveillance Program Topic: NewsBusters
In a Jan. 29 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard takes a whack at the New York Times for an editorial attacking the Bush-approved NSA surveillance program, claiming that the paper "prosecuted its case, and acted as both judge and jury to seal a conviction." Sheppard rebuts the article point-by-point; let's take a look at some of Sheppard's points, shall we?
-- Sheppard claims "the Old Grey Lady criminally decided to out" the surveillance program, which conflicts with his concluding claim criticizing the Times for "convicting people in its publication before they’ve been charged with a crime."
-- Sheppard claims: "The reality is that what the New York Times has reported up to this point has been called into serious question by administration officials including the deputy director of National Intelligence and the former director of the NSA, Gen. Michael Hayden, just this past Monday. As such, the Times here is introducing its own opinions as fact." But Sheppard has no basis on which to authoritatively claim that what Bush administration officials such as Hayden are telling is the truth; he has merely assumed, as has his fellow NewsMax posters, that because the Bush administration is Republican, it's telling the truth, and that because the Times is purportedly liberal, it must be lying.
-- In response to the Times' claim that the surveillance violates the FISA law, Sheppard states that it "is thoroughly ignoring previous administrations that have made exactly the opposite case, including the Clinton administration in Congressional hearings in 1994." That's a false claim. While the hearings Sheppard cites do assert a claim that some spying was legal under FISA, it was made illegal in 1995.
-- Sheppard claims that "there was Congressional oversight over this program inasmuch as high-ranking members of Congress from both sides of the aisle were apprised of the program’s creation, and regularly apprised of its on-going activities." Not entirely true; the members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, have said that the administration likely did not inform them of the operation to the extent required by law, or about the program's full extent.
And as far as "convicting people in its publication before they’ve been charged with a crime" goes, Sheppard might want to thumb through the MRC archives and count how many times its writers have done just that to Bill Clinton.
SympathyBusters Topic: NewsBusters
The folks at NewsBusters have never been all that sad to see a journalist die, as we've documented. Now a NewsBusters commenter, "blogonator," has exonentially upped the hostility level in an otherwise sympathetic post regarding ABC anchor Bob Woodruff, who was injured by a bomb in Iraq:
I must be the only one here with the guts to say what we're all thinking which is that this is one less liberal journalist spreading bs propaganda. Remember, this is war - both here in the us and abroad. Woodruf went to Iraq to present our enemies as victims and be sympathetic - that makes him a facilitator of terror if not an enemy. Now his role has been nutralized ironically by the very people he was aiding. Sure I feel sorry for his family, but now they will see the truth and will see that terror is real and join the fight against it. This is not a sad day.
Human decency? These journalists trivialize the war on terror and the protection of american lives and you CRITICIZE ME? You think this guy was over there to report how well we are doing in Iraq? You really are naive... or worse, a fence sitter. In war, people die - Good guys, bad guys and innocents. This guy was hardly good or innocent. He's an american just like John Walker Lind is. Just because our constitution here keeps us from nailing him, doesn't mean he isn't the enemy. I don't want to see him die. But I think I speak for all us who take terrorism seriously at NB that I hope this guy is incompacitated enough that he won't be returning to "the field of battle"
You accuse me of taking pleasure in their injuries. I don't. All humans come into the world equally. It is tragic that some become lost and seek to destroy that which provided them a safe homeland. Woodruff was a sympathetic character until he fell over the fence. Iraq was his last chance. He could see for himself the justness of our actions and could have walked away from his job as a journalist. He didn't. Sad, yes. Tragic, yes. Did he deserve it, yes. ... I can tell you Woodruff isn't going to return to TV. He likely will have impaired speech and movement, not to mention facial damage. But he's stable and will survive. So we both get our cake and eat it too. One less journalist, 0 fatalities. You probably will not see it that way. Anything short of a full recovery and a return to the lib media will be called an outrage by you.
As I said, this isn't personal. Woodruf obviously made bad decisions. It is these decisions that have led to his family's suffering. Al queda have families too. When will kill them, we are freeing their families and preventing them from following in their foot steps. Same goes for Woodruff. They probably won't become journalists after this for sure.
Dubious Claim Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 29 WorldNetDaily article by James L. Lambert quotes people making dubious claims -- and hides a bunch of other stuff.
The lead of the article claims that "The ever-expanding pornography industry is now targeting America's children." Despite the fact that no self-respecting pornograher is claiming such a thing, Lambert makes the unsupportable assumption that because pornographers are making downloadable adult content playable via the Apple iPod, they are ipso facto "targeting America's children."
The two people Lambert cites as making the claim (which he downgrades later in the article to an "apparent targeting of youth") are Patrick Truman and Judith Reisman. Lambert describes Truman only as a "former Justice Department prosecutor," but he is also a former (if not current) senior legal counsel for the conservative Family Research Council. According to Truman, "Apple has the responsibility to avoid providing porn content." Does that mean Sony has the "responsibility" to avoid showing porn on its TV sets, too?
Reisman is described only as "a veteran federal consultant and former Commission on Pornography member" and gets a "Ph.D." stuck after her name, but she is best known for her obsessive, hyperbolic anti-Kinsey crusade.
Lastly, we know Lambert is not a full-time WND employee. So who is he? Lambert appears to be a "Real Estate Loan Sales agent" who does freelance and opinion pieces for conservative websites, most frequently at AgapePress. Indeed, a version of this article appeared at AgapePress on Jan. 20.
NewsBusters Nonsense du Jour Topic: NewsBusters
-- Brad Wilmouth makes a federal case out of a technicality, claiming Keith Olbermann attacked Bill O'Reilly "for saying something the FNC host did not actually say." In fact, Olbermann's only offense is that he considered MSNBC the equivalent of NBC, ABC and CBS. That's apparently a no-no in MRC land.
-- Mark Finkelstein thinks Ellen Ratner, whose highest-profile regular gig is a weekly column at WorldNetDaily, is part of the "MSM elite." Or is Finkelstein making an overgeneralized assumption that all liberals are "elite"?
-- NewsMax is none too happy with the idea of a new book by "two top New York Times reporters" that will look in part at Hillary Clinton's "enemies" -- NewsMax, of course, being one of them. Maybe NewsMax can take heart in the fact that one of the proposed book's authors, Jeff Gerth, is the same guy whose biasedreporting on alleged Clinton scandals helped fuel the conservative anti-Clinton machine that NewsMax was (and still is) part of.
Today's NewsBusters Nonsense Topic: NewsBusters
-- Tim Graham once again confuses a columnist saying mean things about President Bush with media bias.
-- Mark Finkelstein again fails to note that under Jack Abramoff, Indian tribes directed much more money to Republicans than they did pre-Abramoff.
-- Noel Sheppard attacked a statement by ex-CNN anchor Aaron Brown that many Americans on the left and the right aren't interested in the truth, but simply want news that confirms their viewpoints, adding: "You'd think that it's no more complex than good vs. evil." Sheppard claimed the statement was "shocking for someone who was so clearly dogmatic in his reporting" (though he offered no examples of Brown being "clearly dogmatic") and added: "Sadly, the article didn’t convey whether Brown addressed how he fit in to this hypocrisy." Sheppard also noted that Brown said that for conservatives, "Any criticism of the administration is regarded as hatred of the president and hatred of the country itself." Sadly, Sheppard didn’t convey how he and the MRC fit in to this hypocrisy.
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.