AIM Hauls Out the Tabloid Canard Topic: Accuracy in Media
Today's alternate-universe quote of the day comes from Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid, who claimed in a June 21 column floating the idea that a supermarket tabloid's sensational stories about President Bush are "political dirty tricks":
The right may be saddled with the embarrassing Ann Coulter, who accused a group of 9/11 widows of being "witches" and "harpies" and enjoying their husbands' deaths, but the left has to answer for Wayne Madsen, who is sticking by his sensational claim that President George Bush is having an extramarital affair with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Madsen's main offense here is being a source for a supermarket tabloid. Let's see ... Coulter: Hundreds of thousands of books in print, currently at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, appears on Today and Jay Leno. Madsen: Uh ... never heard of him. Not exactly the equivalent that Kincaid wants you to think.
Kincaid also plays the liberal-tabloid-media canard, noting that "one of the main financial sponsors" of American Media, Inc., publisher of the tabloids that are printing the sleazy Bush articles to which Kincaid is taking offense, "is Evercore Partners, an investment firm whose chairman is former Clinton Administration Treasury official Roger C. Altman," darkly suggesting there are "politics involved with the latest attack on Bush."
As we've previously noted, the Evercore-American Media connection is one that the ConWeb likes to haul out when it's convenient, ignoring the fact that the tabs also exposed Jesse Jackson's love child and repeated affair allegations about Bill Clinton. We don't recall Kincaid getting his knickers in a twist about that. In other words, in Kincaid's view, tabloids are truthful when they report nasty gossip about Democrats but are lying when they report nasty gossip about Republicans. (NewsMax has a particularly extreme love-hate relationship with the tabloids.)
A Reminder Topic: Media Research Center
In all of its most recent attacks on Dan Rather -- Brent Bozell's column, his MRC "Profile in Bias," Brent Baker's attacks on farewells dedicated to him, even a September 2005 CyberAlert item in which Rather defends the story -- the Media Research Center never disproves Rather's assertion that there is anything inaccurate in the parts of the Bush National Guard story that had nothing to do with the dubious documents. As Media Matters points out, there is plenty of evidence outside of those documents to support that claim.
Yet, as it continues to paint a broad, misleading brush over Rather, a June 21 NewsBusters item by Greg Sheffield repeats an Alan Caruba column castigating the media doing the same thing to Ann Coulter.
CNS Labeling Bias Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
The headline of a June 21 CNSNews.com article by Alison Espach uses the conservative term "pro-aborts" to describe what the article itself calls "a professional group of abortion providers."
Meanwhile, a June 19 CNS article by Susan Jones provides no ideological descriptor for the American Center for Law and Justice, despite its clear conservative leanings. Perhaps that's because Jones' article is essentially a rewrite of an ACLJ press release, and the only person quoted in it is ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow.
WND Smackdown!, Part 2 Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah uses today's column to respond to Rebecca Hagelin's column yesterday attacking him for attacking the Heritage Foundation (where Hagelin works) and one of its major contributors in his Monday column. This is mostly about posturing -- Farah wants to paint himself as caring only about the issues and anyone who disagrees with him as motivated by money and popularity (as if Farah and WND are never motivated by that).
Farah disingenously paints the conflict as "the nature of WND. How many publishers would permit gratuitous slicing and dicing of themselves by one of their own weekly columnists?" In fact, the nature of WND is to highlight only its most extreme critics and portray them as representative of all its critics; its promotion of David Kupelian's book "The Marketing of Evil" is an example. (Another example: WND has yet to publicly acknowledge the existence of ConWebWatch, perhaps because we engage in fact-based journalistic criticism of WND.)
Farah also fails to mention that Hagelin is a former WND employee, which is likely the only reason WND printed her attack on Farah in the first place. Without that previous professional relationship, it probabaly would not have seen the light of day there.
Timmerman's Faulty Intelligence Topic: Newsmax
A June 21 (but posted today) NewsMax article by Kenneth Timmerman on Rep. Peter Hoekstra's views of intelligence matters repeats an unsubstantiated claim and ignores other facts.
Timmerman wrote that fired CIA agent Mary McCarthy "was identified in the media as having leaked information on the CIA secret prisons to Washington Post reporter Dana Priest." In fact, those reports, issued when the story of McCarthy firing first broke, have since been contradicted; a senior intelligence official told the Washington Post that the CIA "is not asserting that McCarthy was a key source of Priest's award-winning articles last year disclosing the agency's secret prisons."
Timmerman also plays up Hoekstra's claims that the firing of CIA director Porter Goss was "outrageous," blaming an "entrenched bureaucracy" who opposed Goss's efforts to reform the CIA. But Timmerman fails to note one significant factor in Goss' resignation: Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, whom Goss hired as the CIA's number-three man. Investigators are checking to Foggo's possible links to the bribery scandal that brought down Randy "Duke" Cunningham, and the New York Daily News and Newsweek have reported that Goss' failure to deal with Foggo was a factor is his own forced departure.
Just Askin' Topic: NewsBusters
If you're going to criticize a media outlet for conducting an interview of Ted Kennedy and not bring up Chappaquiddick, as Tim Graham does in a June 20 NewsBusters post, does that mean media outlets who interview Laura Bush should be similarly criticized for not noting the fact that she ran a stop sign and killed somebody?
WND Felon Update Topic: WorldNetDaily
A June 20 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore details the latest doings by his Clinton-harrassing, convicted-felon buddy, Peter Paul. And, as he has done before, Moore whitewashes Paul's record of felony convictions.
Moore resorts to legal gobbledygook to describe Paul's most recent felony conviction: "Paul has pleaded guilty to a 10(b)5 violation of the Securities and Exchange Commission for not publicly disclosing control of Merrill Lynch margin accounts that held stocks in his company, Stan Lee Media. He has maintained that everything he did was under the aegis of Merrill Lynch management, compliance officers and corporate securities counsel."
PAUL admitted orchestrating a scheme in which he and others manipulated Stan Lee Media stock, trading it through numerous nominee accounts that hid from the investing public PAUL's ownership and control of large volumes of stock that were being traded. PAUL also admitted that to further the scheme, he sought to inflate and stabilize the price of the stock by instructing market makers in Stan Lee Media stock to execute trades that created a false appearance of constant demand and that concealed from the investing public the fact that PAUL had arranged for large blocks of stock to be sold at substantial discounts in after-hours trading. Finally, PAUL admitted that he had secretly borrowed millions of dollars on margin using as collateral the stock that he had traded through the nominee accounts; in this way PAUL concealed from the investing public that he was effectively liquidating a substantial part of his stock holdings in Stan Lee Media.
Why won't Moore describe Paul's felonies this clearly? Because Paul would lose what little credibility he has if people understood his felony record. Of course, Moore himself loses journalistic credibility every time he regurgitates Paul's claims without doing any fact-checking (which as we've noted, is a problem). Moore appears to be utterly enraptured by anything Paul says, no matter how dubious.
WND Smackdown! Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah, in a June 19 column, attacked Republican Rep. Mike Pence because he supports an immigration reform plan that Farah and Pat Buchanan call "stealth amnesty." Farah further attacked the developers and promoters of that plan, the conservative Vernon K. Krieble Foundation and the Heritage Foundation, and attacked conservatives for "looking for handouts from Helen Krieble and affirmation from the Heritage Foundation."
It got a response: Rebecca Hagelin -- Heritage Foundation vice president and former vice president of communications for WND -- devoted her June 20 column to attacking Farah, claiming that he "makes numerous false charges and engages in character assassination based on sloppy research" and that he "concocts an extremely yellow tale – instead of investigating the facts." Hagelin concluded:
"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story," the saying goes. But Farah has done just that. In the process, he has maligned Mrs. Krieble and Rep. Pence – great Americans making great sacrifices to make America a better place.
There's no question that Joseph Farah is a red-blooded, true-blue American. But on this story, he comes out yellow.
Such direct, detailed criticism of WND in general and Farah in particular is extremely rare on the WND website (for instance, it refuses to publicly acknowledge the existence of ConWebWatch, even though we seem to have prompted a correction there yesterday). One can surmise that the only reason Hagelin's column ran at all is because she's a former WND employee.
WND even ran a letter (which aren't archived and cycle out after a week) criticizing Farah: "I believe your jump from disagreeing with Pence's proposals on immigration to personal attack are harmful to the cause and actually shows a side of you that I had not seen before. It was troubling."
Farah doesn't respond to any of this criticism; instead, he uses today's column for self-promotion, claiming that WND was the first to report the revelation, noted in Ron Suskind's new book, that al-Qaeda was planning to unleash poison gas in the New York subway system (though WND's account was less detailed than Suskind's).
Another Worthess NewsMax Poll Topic: Newsmax
To absolutely nobody's surprise, a statistically meaningless opt-in NewsMax poll found that most people like Ann Coulter.
A June 19 NewsMax article claims that the poll reveals "that Americans overwhelmingly support Coulter and strongly disagree with her critics." The article claimed that the poll drew "more than 90,000 respondents from sites across the Web, such as Drudge Report and The New York Times" -- read: NewsMax bought ads on these sites and, presumably, other conservative leaning sites and blogs -- but it doesn't say that the poll is meaningless because opt-in polls have no scientific validity. The article also does not reveal the full list of websites on which NewsMax advertised the poll, but you can assume that they are mostly conservative websites (the New York Times being thrown in as a ringer), thus further skewing the poll's numbers.
Nor does it reveal that the poll is, in reality, just a marketing tool to gather e-mail addresses for its mailing list.
The article claims that "NewsMax will provide the results of this poll to major media and share them with radio talk-show hosts across the country," but we can bet that NewsMax will not tell those hosts that the numbers mean nothing.
WND Gives Olmert the Clinton Treatment Topic: WorldNetDaily
During the Clinton years, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah touted as fact the so-called "Clinton body count," the discredited notion that Bill Clinton is responsible for the deaths of dozens of people.
It looks like WND is using that same smear tactic against Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. Here's the lead of a June 19 WND article by Aaron Klein:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli officials should be tried as accessories to murder for facilitating the transfer in recent days of a cache of American weapons to Force 17, the presidential guard units of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
That's it -- no "according to [insert party here]," which violates most known journalistic precepts. Not until the eighth paragraph does Klein finally attribute this statement, to "the leadership of Manhigut Yehudit, a faction of the opposition Likud party."
And nowhere does Klein does explain what the Manhigut Yehudit faction is -- a conservative faction inside the similarly conservative Likud Party (and we know how much Klein hates to admit that Likud is conservative). Violent (and assassinated) right-wing activist Meir Kahane's son, Binyamin (also assassinated), issued a 1997 commentary titled 'Manhigut Yehudit." The faction also favors the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, just like WND does -- Pollard's wife, Esther, spoke at the group's 2005 annual dinner, and it offers prayer cards for him. Similarly, Klein has written numerousWNDarticles promoting the idea of releasing Pollard.
WND has already tried to swift-boat Olmert. It's only logical that the Clinton-smear treatment would be next.
UPDATE: WND has quietly updated Klein's article; it now begins with "Some Israeli politicians charge..."
WND Changing Its Mission? Topic: WorldNetDaily
Is WorldNetDaily backing off its original claimed mission to be a "watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power"? Possibly (and not a bad idea, actually, considering that WND doesn't fulfill it).
A June 14 e-mail by managing editor David Kupelian seems to indicate a shift at WND from watchdogging to the Superman principle, proclaiming itself a defender of truth, justice and the American way. Seriously -- the e-mail is headlined, "Help restore truth, justice and the American way in 60 seconds." That's how long it takes for readers to encourage two friends to get on WND's news alert mailing list. Of course, they get plenty of ads for WND products along with those news alerts, something Kupelian fails to mention.
Kupelian portrays WND as a component of a "courageous, truthful and independent press – one that boldly exposed evil, rather than enabling it at every turn as today's elite media do":
This nation would be utterly transformed, almost like magic. Abortion would be outlawed if the press reported on that industry honestly. The radical gay-rights agenda would lose its mainstream support, and the "constitutional separation of church and state" would be universally seen for what it really is – pure fiction. You get the idea. If we had a truly dedicated, truth-oriented news media, America would quickly become a radically better and more unified nation.
That kind of news organization –- and I don't mean to brag –- is exactly how many Americans have come to regard WorldNetDaily.com.
NewsMax Gallops to Coulter's Defense Topic: Newsmax
A June 17 NewsMax article insists that, despite Ann Coulter's statement that Rep. John Murtha was "[t]he reason soldiers invented 'fragging,'" it's "blatantly untrue" that she suggested fragging Murtha. Says NewsMax:
She did not suggest that Murtha, long out of the military service, should be killed by a grenade because his men considered him deserving of death -- which is what fragging means -- she was describing him as the kind of leader soldiers have good reason to distrust.
But not only does NewsMax offers no evidence that anyone claimed that Coulter said Murtha should be "killed by a grenade," thus confusing the issue by throwing in an extraneous, fictional element, it contradicts its own claim by defining "fragging" as "deserving of death," then contradictorily claiming that the issue was "distrust" -- which was not in the definition NewsMax provided.
NewsMax then follows it by repeating the hair-splitting defense of the remark -- "she didn't say that she wanted to kill Murtha, she'd didn't say that she thought he should be killed, and she didn't say that she thought Murtha should have been fragged" -- by the conservative blogger who first reported the remarks, who then wrote: "Is that hair splitting?"
We're so confused. Is NewsMax really that desperate to defend Coulter?
About Those Double Standards... Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters writers have expressed concern over alleged "double standards." But they mislead and show their own double standards by doing so.
In a June 16 post, Warner Todd Huston complained that it took "nearly a month" for the House of Representatives to oust Rep. William Jefferson from the House Ways and Means Committee, while Sen. Trent Lott was "taken out as majority leader in a mere 15 days" after making a "supposedly racist" comment regarding Strom Thurmond.
But the two situations are not analogous. The action against Jefferson was taken by his fellow congressmen and led by his fellow Democrats; Lott resigned voluntarily without official action being taken against him.
While Huston recounts Lott's comment, he downplays it as "supposedly racist" and a "silly little comment" without offering the context of why it was considered "supposedly racist." As most people know, when Lott said that "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years" if Thurmond was elected president in 1948, Huston doesn't note that in 1948, Thurmond was running on a segregationist ticket.
Huston also oddly claims that an Associated Press article's noting that the House action against Jefferson was "unprecedented" was tantamount to defending him: "In fact the whole article is couched in the flavor of how badly kindly ‘ol Mr. Jefferson is being treated by all those mean folks in the House."
And, in contrast to Democrats leading the action to strip Jefferson of his committee seat, the ConWeb was defending Lott and downplaying and mitigating his statement (not to mention twisting the words of a Democratic senator as a distraction). Perhaps Huston ought to look into that double standard.
(And we also found it sadly amusing that a commenter who pointed some of this out in the thread on this item was immediately attacked as a "leftist Jew-hating shill.")
Another June 16 post, by Greg Sheffield, highlights a NewsMax item by Steve Malzberg complaining that Coulter's violence-inciting comments have received much more play in the "liberal press" than an obscure trade publication columnist's suggestion to Coulter: "Would it kill you to do us all a favor and kill yourself?" To which Sheffield adds: " think the double standard extends beyond just Coulter."
Ironically, Sheffield posted this about the time it was revealed that Coulter said that Rep. Jack Murtha is "[t]he reason soldiers invented fragging."
If you're going to denounce a columnist who urged that Coulter kill herself, shouldn't you also denounce Coulter herself for encouraging violence against a congressman (or encouraging the poisoning of a Supreme Court justice)? Given the fact that Coulter makes these statements without impunity, isn't it hypocritical to bash someone else who engages in the same level of rhetoric?
Unsurprisingly, no concern has been raised thus far at NewsBusters over Coulter's statement. Do that, Mr. Sheffield, and then perhaps you can credibly attack others doing the exact same thing.
WND Columnist Misleads on Ohio Gov. Race Topic: WorldNetDaily
A June 16 WorldNetDaily column by Fred Taub touts the puported inevitiability of Ken Blackwell being electeed Ohio governor. "Blackwell will not only be the next governor of Ohio, but will be the first black governor outside the south," Taub confidently declared, adding that Democratic opponent Ted Strickland faces "the illusion of a victory" and that money spent on Strickland's campaign will be "diverting dollars away from actual contestable states."
Taub conveniently fails to note that according to the latestpolling, Strickland leads Blackwell by 16 points.