Thought Experiment Topic: NewsBusters
Using the same NewsBusters logic that declares that the media should no longer cover the Dick Cheney shooting incident because a majority of the public doesn't think it's news, shouldn't Brent Baker, Noel Sheppard, et al., be agitating for an end to the Iraq war since a majority of Americans believe it's a mistake?
Inaccuracy in Media Topic: Accuracy in Media
In a Feb. 21 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid wrote that columnist Molly Ivins is "an identified plagiarist. ... But she's still carried nationally by Creators Syndicate."
The Rest of the Story Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 21 WorldNetDaily article touts a petition signed by "[m]ore than 500 scientists with doctoral degrees ... expressing skepticism about Darwin's theory of evolution." Buried deep down in the article is a hint of information about the meaninglessness of the petition, noting that among the signers are those with doctorates in mathematics and computer science, disciplines that have nothing to do with supporting or disproving evolution.
It also includes many with more modest positions, like Thomas H. Marshall, director of public works in Delaware, Ohio, who has a doctorate in environmental ecology. The Discovery Institute says 128 signers hold degrees in the biological sciences and 26 in biochemistry. That leaves more than 350 nonbiologists. ...
Of the 128 biologists who signed, few conduct research that would directly address the question of what shaped the history of life.
Of the signers who are evangelical Christians, most defend their doubts on scientific grounds but also say that evolution runs against their religious beliefs.
Several said that their doubts began when they increased their involvement with Christian churches.
Some said they read the Bible literally and doubt not only evolution but also findings of geology and cosmology that show the universe and the earth to be billions of years old.
Foley-Fluffing at NewsMax Topic: Newsmax
A Feb. 21 NewsMax article by Dave Eberhart features the comments of Christopher Ruddy's favorite politician, Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), on the issue of an Arab-owned company operating in U.S. ports.
Foley, you'll recall, has been the beneficiary of much fawning NewsMax coverage -- and the recipient of a 2003 campaign donation from Ruddy, NewsMax's editor, president and CEO, two days before NewsMax ran an article praising him.
Correction Topic: NewsBusters
Bruce Rheinstein wrote to inform us that he is not NewsBusters contributor Mithridate Ombud, as we claimed in a recent article. The article has been corrected accordingly.
'Purported' DeLay-Abramoff Ties? Topic: Newsmax
A Feb. 18 NewsMax article by Dave Eberhart on a pro-TomDeLay TV ad that also attacks liberal philanthropist George Soros claims the ad was a counter to an ad "that focused on purported ties between DeLay and fallen super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff." Later in the article, Eberhart writes: "That ad featured purported information about the connections between DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges."
A Little Insight Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Tim Graham published a guest post on the CBS News Public Eye blog that offers, according to Graham's promotion of it on NewsBusters, "a small sense of how we answer the questions and critiques we've received over the almost 20 years the MRC has been taping and transcribing and exposing." But it raises a few more questions about the MRC's methods.
Graham makes a surprising admission: that "the great majority of what we watch and read is not noticeably unfair or inaccurate." So taken to its next logical point, this means that the media is not so rife with liberal bias as Graham and his co-workers would have you believe.
Yet, this doesn't stop Graham from making broad overgeneralizations about the media. The most egregious one is the assumption that everyone who works in the media is as liberal and as activist as liberal activist Danny Schechter:
The Danny Schechters of the world, weaned on sixties radicalism, have the network resumes. He’s worked at ABC, at CNN, and made documentaries and series for PBS. Most of us as young conservative journalists never considered sending a resume to these outlets.
This analogy would make a little more sense if Graham could serve up examples of demonstrated bias on the part of Schechter while a network employee. And Schechter's "documentaries and series for PBS" may not even be classifed as news.
Even though the facts don't support the "liberal media bias" meme, Graham supports it anyway. This gives us a little more than a "small sense" of how the MRC operates.
(Full disclosure: I work for that other media research group, Media Matters; I also have a (bad) link to Schechter's MediaChannel.org on the ConWebWatch front page but no other connection to Schechter.)
Repeating a False Claim Topic: The ConWeb
Via Atrios, we learn that the New York Times issued a correction for its repeating of a claim in Kate O'Bierne's feminist-bashing book "Women Who Make the World Worse" that feminist professor Catharine MacKinnon said that "All heterosexual intercourse is rape." As the Times and Snopes point out, MacKinnon has denied saying that, and it's a statement repeated by conservatives to discredit her.
This sounds like the sort of thing that the anti-feminist ConWeb would be eagerly repeating. So we checked and found the following examples of this trope:
-- Glenn Sacks repeats the claim in a Nov. 6, 2001 CNSNews.com column. (We also found a bizarre March 3, 1999 "humor" item by David Burge imagining MacKinnon as a stripper at a "feminist" strip club to benefit President Clinton's legal defense fund.)
-- A Jan. 28, 2001, WorldNetDaily article by Julie Foster claims that MacKinnon "argues that male sexual desire can be compared to rape -- whether women consent to sex or not."
-- David Kupelian repeats the claim in a Sept. 15, 2003, article claiming that MacKinnon "in her recent book compares male sexual desire to rape – whether women consent to sex or not." Kupelian repeats it again in an April 7, 2005, article.
Dubious Paternity Fraud Claim Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 18 WorldNetDaily article makes claims about paternity fraud that the evidence it cites doesn't support.
The unbylined article claims that "one state that examined the problem found as many as 30 percent of those paying child support were, indeed, not the biological fathers of the children being supported," later citing a "comprehensive study" by the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Men.
But the commission's November 2005 report doesn't study paternity fraud. Discussion of paternity fraud takes up roughly half a page in the 43-page report (on page 22) ; the bulk of the report looks at other fatherhood-related issues and male victims of domestic violence. Rather than a "comprehensive study," the report merely cites claims from "The Blood Bank Association, and Lee Newman, administrator of Safe-NH" as well as "Carnell Smith, a paternity fraud expert who administers http://www.paternityfraud.com."
Safe-NH is a New Hampshire-based group that appears to have as its main purpose increasing the profile of domestic abuse against men. According to its search engine, the only reference to "paternity" on its website is a link to a website called PaternityFraudDNA, which has a page that claims: "Year after year the Blood Bank Association of America reports that about 30% of paternity tests they conducted were negative, almost one out of three!"
Additionally, there appears to be no such thing as the "Blood Bank Association of America" or, as the New Hampshire study stated, the "Blood Bank Association"; there is something called the American Association of Blood Banks, but no freely available information there (some content is behind a subscription wall) offers information about paternity test results.
In other words, the New Hampshire report is repeating secondhand statistics from people and organizations with a bias on the issue.
In addition to being secondhand, the statistic is likely not representative of all child custody/support cases. It is logical to presume that paternity tests are conducted only in cases where paternity has become an issue, and that because there is a dispute, there is likely to be a significant number of negative results. Applying this subgroup to all child custody/support cases -- as WND does with the subhead "30% of those named as fathers bilked of child support unjustly" -- ignores what is likely the majority of cases where paternity is not in dispute.
WND is jumping on the bandwagon of something that may not even be that much of an issue.
Aaron Klein Whitewash Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily We'velostcount of the number of times he has done this, but WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein once again references Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs without mentioning the 1994 massacre of Arabs there by Baruch Goldstein, an acolyte of the Kahane extremists whose history Klein loves to whitewash.
Non-News Alert Topic: Newsmax
A Feb. 17 NewsMax article regurgitates a Washington Times article claiming that "Democrats have taken nearly 10 percent more in campaign contributions from lobbyists than Republicans since 1990," claiming that this "deflates Democratic claims that Republicans have created a 'culture of corruption' in Congress."
Actually, this claim deflates nothing. Unless NewsMax and the WashTimes can demonstrate that lobbyist money given to Democrats in 1990 was as tainted with quid pro quo as Jack Abramoff's donations to Republicans, this statistic is irrelevant and meaningless.
An Expanded Challenge to WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 17 WorldNetDaily article making a plea for donations to WND's legal defense fund again cites unsupported assertions regarding a libel lawsuit filed against WND by Clark Jones, a supporter of Al Gore. The headline derogatorily calls Jones a Gore "crony" -- an assertion repeated in a quote by WND managing editor David Kupelian, who refers to "fighting Al Gore's cronies in court" -- and repeated WND editor Joseph Farah's baseless assertion that "Understand that this lawsuit would be dropped in a flat second if Al Gore wanted it to be dropped. ... Understand also that WND did nothing wrong and libeled no one in the publication of this exhaustive series." The article also claims that WND has defended itself from the lawsuit "at great cost."
So we will expand our challenge to Farah and WND to demonstrate full transparency regarding the Jones lawsuit. Not only do we challenge WND to display all legal documents filed in the case on the WND website, we challenge it to open its books to show the costs of defending itself as well as a complete list of donations to the legal defense fund so that WND's donors can be assured that the money is going where WND says it is.
Bozell's Fake Outrage Topic: Media Research Center
The MRC's Brent Bozell has condemned Bryant Gumbel's statement on HBO's "Real Sports" that the Winter Olympics has "a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention." Saying that "Gumbel’s remarks reek of racism and arrogance,” Bozell added:
What if Gumbel had said ‘a paucity of whites makes the NBA look like a Democratic convention?’ Rush Limbaugh was roundly denounced by the media when he made allegedly racist remarks about a football player. So where are the media condemnations now against Gumbel?
Bozell's criticism is cynical and meaningless because he defended Limbaugh's 2003 remark that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was getting a free pass because "the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." In an Oct. 3, 2003, column -- in which he mis-paraphrases Limbaugh by saying that "liberal sports reporters are blinded by a desire to see a black quarterback succeed"; Limbaugh said "the media" but didn't narrow it down any further at the time of his remarks -- Bozell said that Limbaugh was correct and that he was getting a bum rap for being a racist:
There are countless examples – we’ve all heard them – of commentators, columnists, and editorial writers agitating for more black coaches and quarterbacks in the NFL.
Maybe that wasn’t what got Rush in trouble. Maybe it was that he had the temerity to slam the “liberal” sports writers. But again Rush makes a defensible point: many sports writers are liberal and use their sports forums to agitate politically.
If Bozell doesn't think Limbaugh was being racist, then he has no basis for asserting Gumbel is racist. And anyway, how does he know Gumbel wasn't joking? That defense seems to work for Ann Coulter, and MRC has raised no known objection to any of her inflammatory remarks.