Kessler Brings the Fluff Topic: Newsmax Ronald Kessler presumably sets the tone of his work for NewsMax with his first big article after being named NewsMax's chief Washington correspondent -- a June 12 fluff piece on Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman.
That puts him in league with fellow NewsMax fluffmeister Dave Eberhart.
Quote of the Day Topic: NewsBusters
"Howard Kurtz reviews the latest Ann Coulter publicity salvo in his Monday Media Notes column, but fails to ask: why would the harsh remarks of this mere author be seen by the networks as more earth-shaking then, say, the shrillness of Hillary Clinton? Ann Coulter is not about to run for president, so why are her remarks bigger news than when Hillary opens a rhetorical can of fanny-whack?"
-- Tim Graham, June 12 NewsBusters post. That "shrillness" link is to a Brent Bozell column bashing Hillary over her description of the House of Representatives as being "run like a plantation" (despite the MRC's own history of using the metaphor to describe Democrats).
WND In Bed With Fred Phelps? Topic: WorldNetDaily
Is WorldNetDaily willing to overlook the odious protests of U.S. soldiers' funerals by Fred Phelps and his brood from the Westboro Baptist Church in order to embrace his extremist anti-gay agenda?
WND appeared to run to their defense in a June 11 article about an on-air altercation between Fox News host Julie Banderas and the WBC's Shirley Phelps-Roper. The article describes her as someone "who believes America's sinful behavior has resulted in God's cursings rather than blessings" and her church as an "anti-homosexual church" before it gets around to noting the church's funeral protests. (Sounds like David Kupelian's kind of place.) The article also describes Phelps-Roper as "licensed to practice law in Kansas and before the U.S. Supreme Court."
Interestingly, a search of WND's archives turns up no articles about WBC's funeral protests, despite the controversy surrounding them. In fact, a 2003 article also offers apparent support to the church by noting that equipment at a "homosexual webcasting radio station" was zapped by lightning after having another Phelps family member on who "had prayed God would 'strike the station.'" A 2000 WND article, however, sought to tar Al Gore with his association with the "vehemently anti-homosexual" Phelps.
As we've noted, WND and the ConWeb have had trouble condemning Eminem's gay-bashing lyrics, even as they attack his misogynistic ones.
More Bias From Aaron Klein Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein lets his biases show in a June 9 article that goes far beyond the supposed point of the article, which is about the website for the American branch of the Israeli Kadima party allegedly lifting parts of policy summaries from the the Texas Democratic Party's website.
First, Klein attacks Kadima's name, which isn't relevant to the issue at hand: "Some questions even have been raised as to the originality of the Kadima name. The main logo on the Texas site reads, 'Moving Texas Forward.' Kadima is the Hebrew word for 'Forward.'" But the Kadima name was chosen last November, and Klein offers no evidence that the party's name has any relation to the controversy he's writing about.
Secondly, Klein throws in some fact-free criticism of Kadima USA by Dov Hikind, a New York state assemblyman. Responding to a full-page New York Times ad, apparenly placed by the head of Kadima USA, stating that "The American Jewish Community stands as one with the State of Israel and fully supports the Prime Minister's quest for peace," Klein quotes Hikind as calling the statement "[p]ure baloney," but no evidence to contradict the ad is offered.
Klein describes Hikind only as "an outspoken critic of Olmert's planned evacuation of Judea and Samaria," but it turns out he's a bit more than that. A 1999 Village Voice article notes that Hikind is "a combative disciple of Jewish Defense League capo Meir Kahane." As we've detailed, Klein has an aversion to pointing out the Kahane links of the right-wing Israelis he quotes -- or even admitting that they're right-wing.
The ConWeb Hearts Coulter Topic: The ConWeb
Gee, we go out of town for a few days, and Ann Coulter finally says something that even some conservatives find loathsome. The key word here is "some"; the ConWeb appears not to have joined that particular bandwagon. After all, both NewsMax and WorldNetDaily have a business interest in Coulter's success by selling her new book.
And following those business interests, NewsMax repeated Mary Matalin's defense of Coulter, while WND wrote of the widespread criticism of Coulter: "How's this for book publicity?" WND columnist Kevin McCullough also defends Coulter, calling her a martyr "for the well-being of political discourse in general."
Meanwhile, over at Bozell's empire (which, near as we can tell, has no direct business interest in promoting Coulter), CNSNews.com did a fawning interview with Coulter, though it has stayed away thus far from original reporting on the current controversy. At NewsBusters, Mark Finkelstein took offense at the idea that Coulter's bashing of 9/11 widows "amounts to desecration of the graves of the 9/11 victims themselves"; he also suggested that any criticism of Coulter is motivated by jealousy of the money she's making off this controversy. Fellow NewsBuster Noel Sheppard calls the Coulter controversy "left-wing hysteria," adding, "from a publicity standpoint, Coulter must be thrilled about all the free attention these folks have given her."
And the MRC's Tim Graham took Coulter's side, claiming that her critics "did not consider that some of the 9-11 widows she mocked were also champions of political trash talk," adding: "Kristen Breitweiser, the most prominent Bush-trashing 9-11 widow, has sounded like a liberal version of Coulter at times on her huffing and puffing blog at the Huffington Post."
Labeling Ambiguity Alert Topic: CNSNews.com
A June 7 CNSNews.com article by Nathan Burchfiel on the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) dropping the term "social justice" from the criteria used to define the quality of a teacher states that the decision was "hailed by free speech groups." But the only group Burchfiel cites in support of the decision is the the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which is, in fact, a conservative group whose major donors are conservative foundations. Even the National Review admits this; a 2002 article notes that FIRE was founded by a "right civil libertarian." Even though the article states that "It isn't only conservatives who are defended by FIRE," it's clear by the group's promotion there and at CNS that conservatism -- or, more to the point, anti-liberalism -- is FIRE's main emphasis.
Then and Now Topic: WorldNetDaily
"Personally, when I read Gibson's remarks, I laughed out loud. Clearly this was not a threat. ... He was reacting in a predictable style to someone who can't or won't fight fair."
-- Joseph Farah, Sept. 10, 2003, WorldNetDaily column on Mel Gibson's statement about the New York Times' Frank Rich: "I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog."
" ... murderous, hate-filled, venomous, disgusting and loathsome remarks. ... that sick and cowardly threat on the president's life."
-- Joseph Farah, June 7 WorldNetDaily column on New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi's introduction of Sen. Charles Schumer as "The man who, how do I phrase this diplomatically, who will put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it."
Who's Smearing Who? Topic: Accuracy in Media
A June 7 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid attacks Fox News' Shepard Smith for claiming in a Playboy interview that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are an example of stories that "lack veracity" but which serve as news. Kincaid adds, "as if the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had been engaged not in getting out the truth about John Kerry's military career and dubious war crimes charges, but in smearing the Democratic Senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate."
Well, by mostaccounts, the Swifties were doing exactly that -- smearing Kerry with factually dubious and politically motivated accusations. Kincaid offers no evidence that the Swifties were doing otherwise -- nor, to our knowledge, has AIM ever fact-checked the Swifties' claims.
So, Cliff, unless you can come up with a detailed analysis of the Swifties' claims and the veracity thereof, let's not issue a blanket defense of 'em, mmmkay?
Kessler Joins NewsMax, Harbors Delusions About New Employer Topic: Newsmax
Author Ronald Kessler has joined NewsMax as its chief Washington correspondent. Kessler is best known of late for writing two conservative-friendly books: "A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush" and "Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady."
Kessler was well acquianted with NewsMax before this. NewsMax heavily promoted his Laura Bush book, which was offered as a premium for its magazine subscribers; the book was also excerpted in the magazine. And to fill the Clinton-hating prerequesite for NewsMax employement, Kessler dished some alleged dirt on the Clintons in an April interview, painting them as unfriendly to the White House help, unlike the Bushes, and that they favored "gaudy" decorations for the White House. And during the 2004 campaign, NewsMax pulled an unflattering bit about John Kerry from Kessler's 1997 book "Inside Congress: The Shocking Scandals, Corruption, and Abuse of Power Behind the Scenes on Capitol Hill."
But NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy criticized Kessler in a 2002 column:
This week I heard author Ron Kessler say the FBI "disintegrated" under former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
I happen to agree with Kessler.
But I would like to ask, where was Kessler all these years? And the Washington press corps? And Congress?
During the '90s they mostly hid under a rock, timid as they were to challenge the political takeover of the FBI by the Clinton White House.
Bygones are bygones, apparently. Kessler summed up his love for his new employer this way:
"Since I first learned about NewsMax, I’ve admired how, in order to tell the truth about subjects ranging from politics to medicine, it presents factual material that the rest of the media ignore," Mr. Kessler said. "I’m proud to be associated with an operation that practices journalism honestly and fairly."
The Return of Jered Ede Topic: CNSNews.com
Last time we checked, The Carrollton Record, the conservative Johns Hopkins University publication edited by Jered Ede, who last year notoriously misinterpreted Paul Begala for CNSNews.com, was nowhere to be found online.
Well, the Record's online presence has returned, as has Ede, who is miraculously not disgraced by his previous journralistic misadventure. In a May 18 Human Events item, Ede described how the Carrollton Record was allegedly "banned" -- in fact, it was merely banned from distribution in campus dormitories, not from the campus as a whole -- allegedly for Ede's reporting that because a gay-porn director was brought to speak on campus using "school funds," the school was therefore "pay[ing] for its students" to "receive complimentary copies of gay, straight, and lesbian pornography."
We don't know how accurate Ede's claim is, given that his description of where the money to pay the speaker came from is somewhat murky. But given Ede's previous journalistic record, it would not be out of line to assume that Ede's claims are exaggerated and incompletely reported. In fact, one of the very few non-conservative outlets to report the controversy -- which is to say, outlets that report more than one side of the story -- the Student Press Law Center, notes that a representative of the campus group that sponsored the speaker's appearance said there are "a number of inaccuracies" in the story. The SPLC also quotes a Johns Hopkins spokesman saying that only official school publications may be distributed in the dorms, though enforcement appears to be lax.
Remember, Ede has a history of sloppy and slanted journalism, and his story has been spreading around the conservative blogosphere. Ede is presumably happy in the knowledge that it, like much of the conservative media, won't bother looking for an opposing viewpoint.
Cliff Kincaid and Jack Thompson: Together At Last Topic: Accuracy in Media
A June 5 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid praises the new book (well, not quite so new; it was released last November) by Jack Thompson. Kincaid leads by recounting that "sewer-mouth" Howard Stern once called Thompson a "lunatic lawyer," an epithet Thompson now wears with pride.
But despite his current "mission to protect children from the violent and obscene video games, music lyrics, shock jock radio shows, and television programs he says are creating a culture of violence and degradation," Thompson does live up to the "lunatic lawyer" description. Before embarking on his current crusade, Thompson was a rabid anti-Clintonite and even more rabid anti-Janet Reno partisan. As we've detailed, Thompson ran against Reno in 1988 for a district attorney seat in Florida; during the campaign, Reno was unfit for the job because, as a closeted lesbian with a drinking problem, she was great candidate for blackmail by the criminal element. Thompson also, during a public debate during this campaign, presented Reno with a form demanding she fill it out. It read: "I, Janet Reno, am a 1) Homosexual; 2) Bisexual; 3) Heterosexual." Reno was expected to check an appropriate answer. The form went on to say, "If you don't respond by such a date, then you will be deemed to have checked one of the first two boxes."
During the Elian Gonzalez saga in 2000, Thompson was NewsMax's "Man in Miami," filing regular reports. Thompson attempted to blackmail Kendall Coffey, a lawyer for Elian's Miami relatives, in a open letter in which he recounts a certain stripper-biting incident involving Coffey, then added: "I am scheduled to appear today on a national television program to discuss all of the above. Therefore, I would suggest you arrange my meeting with [Eilan's relatives] so that your withholding crucial information from them not be continuing at the time of the broadcast."
Kincaid doesn't mention any of this, nor does he mention that one current target of Thompson's anti-violent-video-game crusade is ... the U.S. military, which developed and gives away the game "America's Army." If Thompson is bashing the military, why isn't he getting the same treatment from conservatives as, say, Jack Murtha? Hmmmm...
Given that Kincaid and Thompson share a obsession with lesbianism, real or imagined (Kincaid's, you'll remember, involves Rachel Maddow), these two should get along just fine.
UPDATE: Edited final paragraph to reflect that while we don't know whether Janet Reno is a lesbian, Thompson is obsessed with the idea that she is.
Equivocating a Massacre Topic: NewsBusters
In a June 4 NewsBusters post, John Armor plays the "But what about...?" game on the alleged Haditha massacre, bringing up for comparison purposes the deaths of dozens of U.S. troops via friendly fire (actually, mistaken bombing) at St. Lo during World War II. Because the New York Times did not cover St. Lo at the time but has covered Haditha, Armor concludes (without evidence) that "today’s Times is a willing participant in the effort to paint the entire American military as murderers," adding that "[e]vents like these happen in wartime."
Armor, however, doesn't bother to point out the major difference between St. Lo and Haditha: St. Lo, by Armor's description, was an accidental attack on U.S. troops; Haditha, by most media reports, was an apparently deliberate attack on civilians.
We can at least take some comfort that Armor merely misleads on his World War II-linked Haditha equivocation, unlike Bill O'Reilly, who simply made stuff up.
SoftballMax Topic: Newsmax
Dave Eberhart is turning into NewsMax's go-to guy for softball interviews. Following up on his delicate treatment of Jack Kemp, Eberhart has penned a June 2 piece (but dated June 3) on Chris Simcox, found of the anti-immigrant Minuteman Project. Here's the lead:
The Southern Poverty Law Center once described controversial Minuteman Civil Defense Corps founder, Chris Simcox, 45, as "a relentless self aggrandizer who comes across with a smug egotism and fiery conviction of a former nobody."
But after a couple of up-close-and-personal sessions with the man whose "Minuteman Movement" has spawned 34 chapters in 30 states, a political action committee, and what Simcox sees as the basis and impetus for a national third party, NewsMax found that the only two words in that line of vitriol that truly apply to the soft-spoken man are "relentless" and "conviction."
Needless to say, there's no mention of Simcox being cited for illegally carrying a loaded weapon of federal parkland (as we've previously noted), nor is there any mention of the racism that lurks around the Minuteman Project (detailed by the SPLC).
Eberhart is joined in his softball-tossing by Ed Sigall, who penned a fawning June 3 NewsMax profile of ABC's John Stossel.
Sexpidemic! (Congressional Division) Topic: WorldNetDaily
It took the word "orgies" -- well, actually, a Republican congressman's accusation of orgies -- but WorldNetDaily has finally sprung into action and showed a little interest in Duke Cunningham scandal-related activities.
A mere month or so after the allegation first surfaced (despite WND's prurientinterest in sexual matters), a June 2 WND article reports on the hookers-and-poker segment of the Cunningham scandal -- but only because Rep. Peter King issued a threat to "launch an investigation into rumors of orgies involving CIA agents at the Watergate Hotel" if New York doesn't get more Homeland Security money.
This is only the fourth mention of Cunningham scandals in an original WND news article since last December, when Cunningham resigned after pleading guilty to taking bribes, despite WND's claim to be "a watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power."