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Tuesday, March 7, 2006
New Article: Leading By (Bad) Example, Part 2
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah's own reporting for WorldNetDaily is sadly emblematic of the dubious journalism standards across the entire site. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 AM EST
Monday, March 6, 2006
More Dishonest Poll-Bashing
Topic: Media Research Center
A March 2 MRC "Media Reality Check" by Tim Graham lives up to our prediction that the MRC would continue to dishonestly attack a CBS News poll showing record low job-approval ratings to President Bush.

Graham writes:

As the blogosphere quickly discovered from CBS's online report, CBS "weighted" its sample to reflect an ideal cross-section of American adults. They adjusted the number of self-described Republicans up to 28 percent and Democrats down to 37 percent, and independents with the rest. That's hardly the exit-poll breakdown the networks found on Election Day 2004 (37 percent GOP, 37 percent Democrat, 26 percent independent).

Graham fails to tell his readers that the Democrat-Republican ratio of the CBS poll closely mirrors the general population of registered voters, as Republican strategist Rich Galen pointed out in a March 1 column at MRC sister site Graham also does not explain why a poll methodology based on registered voters is less valid or accurate than one based on likely voters or one based on the voter ratio of the last major election.

Instead, Graham dishonestly attacks the CBS methodology as "biased" despite the fact that there is a solid, logical methodology behind it.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:00 PM EST
NewsBusters Busts NewsBusters
Topic: NewsBusters
A March 6 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard notes that the new issue of Popular Mechanics "took on virtually all of the media myths and misnomers that were so drilled into the citizenry by press representatives that many have become part of the public psyche." And -- though Sheppard doesn't note it -- NewsBusters itself.

Sheppard quotes the Popular Mechanics article debunking claims made by NewsBusters and other MRC affiliates that topping of a levee is a separate and unrelated event to a levee breach: "Most of the New Orleans floodwall failures occurred when water up to 25 ft. high overtopped the barriers, washing out their foundations."

Waddaya think, guys -- time to give up on this spin point?

Posted by Terry K. at 5:55 PM EST
Updated: Monday, March 6, 2006 5:56 PM EST
'Lying or Ignorant'
Topic: editor in chief David Thibault claims in a March 6 commentary that "the president's political and media enemies" are either "lying or ignorant" when they don't follow the official Republican line -- which, as repeated by Thibault, is that overtopping of a levee is a separate and unrelated event from a levee breach.

But given the fact that, as we've noted, overtopping of a levee is often a precursor to a levee breach and the fact that many of the levee breaches in New Orleans were caused by overtopping, it appears to be Thibault who is either "lying or ignorant."

Posted by Terry K. at 4:35 PM EST
What A Surprise
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Richard Bartholomew discovers that WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has been whitewashing the background of yet another right-wing Israeli extremist.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:54 AM EST
Sunday, March 5, 2006
'Just a Little Nuts'
Topic: Media Research Center
In a March 5 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham claims that to write about threats of violence against abortion doctors "is just a little nuts, considering that Dr. Barnett Slepian was the last abortion doctor to be killed in America, and that was eight years ago." Let's look back at how the MRC reacted to Slepian's murder:

-- It complained about a news report noting that "critics charge rhetoric from the anti-abortion movement is helping to incite this kind of murderous violence."

-- It further complained that "liberal environmentalists" weren't being similarly blamed for a radical group that burned down buildings in Colorado at the same time as Slepian's murder, adding that "while the networks have devoted more than 500 news stories since 1993 to violence and threats against abortion clinics, only a handful of stories have touched on hundreds of cases of organized eco-terrorism in the West."

-- In 2003, Graham complained that when news organizations focus on extremists who support Slepian's murder, "the pro-life movement is being demonized on television by its most unrepresentative elements."

-- MRC news division countered coverage of Slepian's death with a January 2002 article about a "pro-life activist" who claimed to have "collected eight thousand examples over the last decade of abortionists participating in criminal activity, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, even murder."

-- The only mention of Slepian's killer, James Kopp, on CNS is a reproduction of a January 2003 statement by an anti-abortion group distancing itself from Kopp.

So, which is more "nuts"? Noting that abortion doctors have ample reason to live in fear of their lives, or dismissing that fear as silly?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 PM EST
They Like Us!
Topic: The ConWeb
Mercury Rising really likes us.

Thanks -- we appreciate it. We don't get this very often, so we'll take it where we can.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:34 AM EST
Saturday, March 4, 2006
WND: GOP Corruption Isn't Real News
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) received the longest prison term ever given to a congressman for corruption and bribery "on a scale unparalleled in the history of Congress." So how does WorldNetDaily, self-proclaimed "watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power," play this story?

With an outside link. On page two.

That's right -- massive corruption involving a Republican doesn't even rate WND's front page. But we already knew that.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:38 AM EST
Friday, March 3, 2006
NewsMax Joins Spin Parade
Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax buys into today's White House (and MRC) spin on the Katrina levee warnings with a March 3 article that not only makes the spin-laden distinction between "topped" and "breached," it clings to the idea that "a videotape of a key meeting between Bush and hurricane officials supports the president’s contention that the breaching of the levees was unanticipated."

But as Media Matters has noted:

First, Bush himself reportedly raised the question of levee breaches as the hurricane hit on August 29, 2005. ... Second, in the early morning of August 29, just before Katrina hit land, the Department of Homeland Security warned the White House that, based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's July 2004 "Hurricane Pam" planning exercise, Katrina could cause levee breaching as well as overtopping.

The NewsMax article fails to address these claims.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:51 PM EST
WND Downplays GOP Scandal Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily
In its continuing effort to downplay Republican-linked scandals, WorldNetDaily serves up the connections of Republican Rep. Katherine Harris -- whose book WND published -- to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff only as a outside link ... then joins that link with a plug for Harris' book.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:23 PM EST
Today's MRC Spin Point
Topic: Media Research Center
A levee being overtopped and a levee being breached are two distinct and unrelated events:

-- "[NBC's] Lisa Myers, however, recognized the meaning of words and how water flowing over a levee, topping it, is not the same thing as a breaching, the collapse of a levee, which is what occurred." -- Brent Baker, NewsBusters, March 3, repeated in an MRC CyberAlert

-- "[Fox News anchor Brit] Hume set up the discussion by referring to the difference between “breaching,” when a levee fails and what Bush said in an interview was not anticipated, and 'topping,' when some water goes over a levee which remains intact, of which the National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield had raised as a possibility." -- Brent Baker, NewsBusters, March 2, repeated in a March 3 CyberAlert

-- "On the Thursday March 2 Countdown show, Olbermann ran a story by NBC's Lisa Myers, which had already run earlier on the NBC Nightly News, in which Myers played a clip of meteorologist Maxfield warning administration officials that flood waters from Katrina posed a risk of the levees being 'topped,' which Myers accurately distinguished from a 'breach' through further discussion with Mayfield." Brad Wilmouth, NewsBusters, March 2, repeated in a March 3 CyberAlert

-- "There’s no getting around it. Chris Matthews hears what he wants to hear even when the facts are right in front of him. After showing the video of President Bush being briefed by Max Mayfield saying: "I don’t think anybody can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that’s obviously a very, very grave concern," Matthews took that as evidence that Bush lied when he said no one anticipated the breach of the levees." Geoffrey Dickens, NewsBusters, March 2, repeated in March 3 CyberAlert

-- "Critics of the Bush administration have promoted video of an Aug. 28, 2005, teleconference between emergency management officials and the president as proof that the White House was warned that levees around New Orleans would likely fail against Hurricane Katrina. But a closer examination of the recording and transcript shows no mention that the Crescent City's levees would be breached. ... Further comparison of the video to the transcript by Cybercast News Service indicates that Mayfield's quote, which was not transcribed accurately, came from a discussion of the possibility that water from Katrina's storm surge might flow over the tops of the levees, not that the levees might fail." -- Jeff Johnson,, March 3

In fact, a topped levee is generally a precursor to that levee being breached:

-- "The likely locations and impact of levee overtopping must be addressed. This is a particularly difficult task, because the hydraulics problem created by levee overtopping is a multi-dimensional, unsteady flow problem. Further, when a levee is overtopped, it may breach, so complete analysis also includes the components of a dam-failure analysis." -- Army Corps of Engineers

-- "Moving forward, the storm surge may overtop and undermine the levees built to contain the water in the outlet canals." -- Suburban Emergency Management Project

-- "According to preliminary information from NSF, ASCE, and LSU, most of the levees and floodwall breaches on the east side of New Orleans were caused by overtopping, as the storm surge rose over the tops of the levees and/or their floodwalls and produced erosion that subsequently led to breaches." -- House Select Committee on Katrina

P.S.: Media Matters has more on why this spin is bogus.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:32 PM EST
New Article: The Clinton Equivocation
Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax has mastered the art of deflecting bad news about the Bush administration and conservatives by claiming that the Clintons did it first and worse. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:57 AM EST
Cashill Joins WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily
So Jack Cashill will be writing a weekly column for WorldNetDaily. He might want to use one of those columns to explain why he wrote a seven-part series for WND portraying admitted abortion-doctor killer James Kopp as an innocent man.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:55 AM EST
Thursday, March 2, 2006
Lust-Filled Women!
Topic: WorldNetDaily
In case you thought we were making up WND's sex-obsessed promo:

Posted by Terry K. at 9:50 PM EST
Press Release Journalism
Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 2 WorldNetDaily article demonstrates once again WND's Achilles' heel: depending on press releases for news and lacking initiative to flesh out what the press release doesn't say (as WND has amply demonstrated with its "war on Christmas" coverage).

The WND article describes the arrest of an American, Peter Waldron, in Uganda. The article states that "family and friends" of Waldron call the charges against Waldron "trumped-up," but 1) nobody in the article is quoted as actually saying that, and 2) the only person quoted in the article is Waldron friend Dave Racer, whom WND admits "issued a press release on the arrest." That release, excerpted on Racer's website, is apparently where the "trumped-up" quote comes from. Thus, it appears that the article tells only what Racer wants told about Waldron.

For the rest of the story, we must go to blogger Robert Bartholomew, who points out that Waldron's theology "draws explicitly on Rousas Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism." Rushdoony's brand of conservatism mirrors the views of WND editor Joseph Farah, as we've noted.

We have no knowledge of or opinion about the validity of the charges against Waldron. We do know that while WND's reporting on the issue (if you call rewriting a press release "reporting") has been outclassed by a blogger with fewer resources.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:00 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, March 2, 2006 4:25 PM EST

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