CNS Labeling Bias Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
Wow, the abortion issue is bringing all sorts of bias today. CNSNews.com makes its contribution:
-- An Aug. 1 article by Alison Espach describes Ms. magazine's call for women to sign and online petition stating that "I have had an abortion" the magazine's "latest pro-abortion message" (though Espach lists no previous "pro-abortion messages"), adding that at the end of the petition, "the magazine asks for money." But Espach offers no descriptor at all to the anti-abortion American Life League and fails to note that it too solicits donations.
-- A July 31 article by Melanie Hunter, meanwhile, calls the American Life League a "pro-life group" while devoting all but three paragraphs of her 16-paragraph article on the issue of making a "morning-after" pill available over the counter to opponents of the plan, such as the American Life League.
WND's One-Source Wonder on Abortion Case Topic: WorldNetDaily
If you're going to print accusations of corruption about a grand jury investigation, should you those accused of said corruption to respond to the allegations?
Common sense -- and sound journalistic practice -- says yes. WorldNetDaily says no.
An unbylined Aug. 1 WND article centers on the comments of a single anti-abortion activist, Operation Rescue's Troy Newman, making those accusations after a grand jury in Kansas declined to indict abortion provider George Tiller in connection with the death of a woman who had an abortion at his clinic. Newman claims that Tiller has "effectively bought off" not only the district attorney but the state board that regulates doctors and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius. "We believe the lack of indictment by the grand jury is the result of corruption and cronyism at the local and state level," Newman said.
Not only did WND made no apparent effort to contact Tiller, Sibelius or the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to allow them to respond to Newman's sweeping allegations. Nor does the article allow for the logical argument that the reason the grand jury found no wrongdoing in the woman's death is because there was, in fact, no wrongdoing. Real reporters go that route.
Biased, agenda-driven "reporting" like this, which forwards unsubstantiated personal attacks, seems like a good way to attract libel lawsuits, don't you think?
How many times have we caught ConWeb writers lying about Sandy Berger? Many, manytimes.
The latest offender -- two years after the fact -- is NewsMax's Charles R. Smith, who writes in a July 28 column: "Sandy would later plead guilty to stuffing his underpants with secret documents from the National Archives and destroying a few that might break bad on his days in the Clinton White House."
As we've pointed out before, Berger did not destroy any original documents and was cleared of charges that he withheld material from the 9/11 Commission. And there is no solid evidence that Berger was "stuffing his underpants."
This has been going on for two years. Is the ConWeb not aware of the concept of telling the truth?
We can probably assume that the rest of Smith's column, dedicated to attacking Joe Sestak, a Democrat who's challenging Republican Curt Weldon for his seat in Congress, is similarly factual.
A July 31 CNSNews.com column by Alan Caruba hurls all sorts of unsupported claims and wild accusations. He he starts by calling a Washington Post column by Eugene Robinson "twaddle" and "liberal idiocy," then progresses to the following baseless claims:
-- "To Eugene and his fellow liberals, everything began with and can be blamed upon President Bush. This convenient loss of memory is a common liberal trait."
-- "Another liberal trait is to regard any military response to an attack on the United States or one of its allies as wrong."
-- "Liberals can and do forget anything that does not fit into their view that dictatorships are a necessary evil and that they need to be understood, not condemned."
-- "It is a liberal article of faith that if only the Israelis or Americans would just stop existing, there would not be a problem with Islamic terrorism."
Evidence? Caruba doesn't need any stinkin' evidence! If he says it's true, ipso facto it must be.
NewsBusters Nonsense, Michael Savage Edition Topic: NewsBusters
-- Tim Graham notes that Al Franken's PAC is "plunking some impressive bucks for Democratic House challengers in the Gopher State." Meanwhile, we don't recall reading anywhere on NewsBusters about the "educational" group run by Michael Savage, the Paul Revere Society, reportedly losing its nonprofit status. He's got a much bigger audience than Franken, after all.
-- Greg Sheffield complains that CNN's Wolf Blitzer didn't challenge a Syrian cabinet minister's likening of Israel to the Nazis. How does Sheffield feel about Michael Savage's claim that Blitzer is "the type who would have let children into the gas chamber in order to stay alive an extra day"?
-- Graham takes a whack at Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks' new book, "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq." Oops, wait -- Graham just takes whacks at Ricks, calling him not just "a garden-variety liberal reporter, but a pushy progressive." He says nothing about the actual book itself. (No direct Michael Savage reference here, unless you want to talk about the conservative tendency to attack the messenger, a skill at which Savage is much farther out there than Graham.)
A July 31 NewsMax article by James Hirsen takes the Anti-Defamation League to task for deeming as insufficient Mel Gibson's apology for tossing anti-Semitic slurs while being arrested for drunken driving. But amid all of Hirsen's talk about Gibson's "comprehensive and humble" and "sorrowful and blanket apology," Hirsen forgot to include one thing -- the words Gibson was apologizing for. Even WorldNetDaily has detailed that.
Hirsen similarly fails to reprint the exact words used by Sen. Trent Lott in 2002 regarding Strom Thurmond; he merely paraphrases them as being "construed as meaning that the nation would have been better off if a segregationist's presidential campaign had been successful." By contrast, Hirsen directly quotes controversial statements by Jesse Jackson and Dick Durbin, as well as Christopher Dodd's statements about Robert Byrd (making sure to throw in the obligatory NewsMax reference to Byrd's long-ago KKK past).
As with Ann Coulter, NewsMax seems eager to forgive Gibson his trespasses; another article quotes William Donahue of the Catholic League bashing the ADL for not accepting Gibson's apology, and it has started up yet another meaningless poll on the issue.
KINSOLVING: Since Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans, why is it that the president wants Israel to cut short its war to destroy its infrastructure, since that is what the president pledged to do to all international terrorist organizations after September the 11th?
SNOW: Counselor, the question is argumentative, presumptuous and makes assumptions not in evidence.
Kinsolving then added in his WND article: "WND told Snow the query was a 'network question,' meaning it had come from WorldNetDaily headquarters." Um, so? Is there some level of question from Kinsolving that Snow must answer seriously no matter what? Do other media outlets have this same level of access?
On the other hand, Snow clearly knows what he's dealingwith in Kinsolving.
In its July 30 "Insider Report" (not yet posted online), NewsMax makes a false claim about former congressman Edmund Muskie.
In an "Insider Report" item bashing the Center for National Policy for giving its Edmund S. Muskie Distinguished Public Service Award to Rep. John Murtha -- thus casting a shadow on its claim to be a "non-partisan, non-profit” organization -- NewsMax claimed that Muskie was "the vice presidential running mate of ultra-liberal George McGovern."
In fact, Thomas Eagleton and Sargent Shriver were McGovern's vice presidential running mates in 1972; Muskie ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1972 but withdrew after being perceived as crying while launching a defense of his wife after New Hampshire's Manchester Union Leader printed an article attacking her.
The Disconnect, Junior Division Topic: NewsBusters
The folks at NewsBusters appears to be following in the footsteps of their Media Research Center bosses in developing a psychological disconnect, as its treatment of two certain personalities shows.
Matthew Sheffield starts things off with a July 28 harangue of Keith Olbermann, asking in the headline, "Why is This Man on Television?" Sheffield goes on to bash Olbermann as a "overweening, paranoid leftist" and "a bit of a narcissist" engaging in "bizarre antics, strange demeanor, journalistic ineptitude, and ridiculous pomposity" and making outrageous statements, and questioning the "mental acuity of the folks at MSNBC" for giving him a show. Sheffield further attacks Olbermann for getting facts wrong, which he said highlights the fact that he "most definitely is not ... a qualified journalist."
Now, these are all criticisms (changing "leftist" to "rightist," of course) that can be credibly leveled at Ann Coulter. In fact, change the political polarity and "Olbermann" to "Coulter," and you can post Sheffield's screed at Daily Kos. Yet the boys at NewsBusters continually run to her defense and engage in heroine-worship.
A post later on July 28 by Noel Sheppard illustrates this perfectly. In it, Sheppard complains that in a outdoor segment of "Hardball" during which Coulter made an appearance, MSNBC "decided to film the segment with an audience conveniently stocked with Ann Coulter haters," purportedly believing that "the challenger in the left corner, host Chris Matthews, was going to be outmatched by the challenger in the right corner." In addition to invoking the conservative shibboleth that Matthews is an unrepentant liberal, Sheppard offers no evidence to support his claim that MSNBC deliberately stacked the audience, nor for his later claim that the "people standing behind Coulter [were] strategically placed to always be shaking their heads in disgust on virtually every one of her words." During this appearance, Coulter called Al Gore a "total fag" and got her facts wrong on a South Dakota abortion ban -- which Sheppard failed to highlight.
Coulter and Olbermann engage in arguably similar tactics and traffic in the same kind of rhetorical excesses. So why is Olbermann excoriated while Coulter is given a free pass? Because, as we've noted, the MRC is a conservative advocacy group, not a "research" organization.
Even though Israel is embroiled in military conflict, WorldNetDaily still can't stop pushing its political agenda against Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert -- essentially doing what its writers have criticized liberals as doing to President Bush.
A July 29 article by Aaron Sichel, headlined "Israeli voices say Olmert too weak," continues the trend. In it is featured Michael Widlanski, described by Sichel as "a professor and frequent adviser to Israeli security and foreign policy agencies." A FrontPageMag.com profile of Widlanski (where he has published three articles, which should give you an idea of his right-wing-friendly slant) describes him as a teacher of political communication at the Rothberg School of Hebrew University; his claimed area of expertise is in Arab politics and communication, and WND has previously quoted him in that context.
Sichel doesn't quote Widlanski critiquing Arab media but, rather, engaging in an attack on Olmert's military strategy: "It's slow, it's disordered and it's not very effective." Sichel also quotes him as saying, "Olmert isn't yet able to admit that disengagement didn't work," which WND was undoubtedly happy to hear since it plays into its anti-disengagement agenda. Sichel similarly collects other anti-Olmert and anti-Kadima statements.
Is this sort of political attack really the kind of thing WND, an longtime supporter of Israel, should be doing while Israel is engaged in military action against terrorists?
Bozell's Accusations About Critics Exceed Facts Topic: Media Research Center
Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell has issued an open letter to Rob Owen, president of the Television Critics Association, demanding that the association apologize to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes because "two-thirds of the 150 attendees in the room" at a press event purportedly walked out of Ailes' presentation "in protest of Fox’s 'conservative spin.'" According to Bozell, this "open contempt" for Ailes allegedly showed "personal intolerance and disdain for any point of view that doesn’t reflect their liberal ideology."
Bozell has no knowledge of the motives of the critics who allegedly didn't attend Ailes' presentation, and therefore has no standing upon which to broadly pronounce them guilty of "personal intolerance" of those who don't follow "their liberal ideology" -- and Bozell has no personal knowledge about the critics' political views, either.
Further, doubt as been raised as to the accuracy of the sole news article -- despite implying plural "[s]ources at the meeting," there is only one main documented source, Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin -- upon which Bozell rests his assertion that "two-thirds" of the critics walked out of Ailes' presentation. Oregonian TV critic Peter Ames Carlin, in a letter to Romenesko, claimed that "I have no idea what made [Garvin] think that two-thirds of our colleagues left the room before the Fox News session with Roger Ailes. ... To say the room emptied is simply not true."
Bozell might want to get his facts nailed down a bit further before he makes such overbroad accusations and assumes motives about which he has no personal knowledge.
A July 27 NewsBusters post by Clay Waters claimed that the New York Times "forward[ed] without question a U.N. smear against Israel" in a article quoting a U.N. official saying that it protested to Israel during an Israeli bombing of a U.N. outpost in Lebanon, killing four peacekeepers.
Does that mean that Waters' co-workers at CNSNews.com are equally guilty of smearing the U.N. for running a July 26 article by Julie Stahl that forwarded without question the suggestion that the U.N. was to blame for the peacekeepers' deaths because they were still stationed there?
Good Timing, Ron Topic: Newsmax
As if timed to coincide with our new article on him, NewsMax's Ronald Kessler has written yet another conservative-friendly article. This time, Kessler is serving up the "first interview" with Juan Williams regarding his new book, "Enough The Phony Leaders, Dead-end Movements, and Culture of Failure that are Undermining Black America—and What We Can Do About It."
In the article, Kessler plays up Williams' status as a Fox News contributor over his work as senior correspondent for National Public Radio, states that Williams "lashed out at leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who create support by focusing on 'victimhood'" and throws in his obligatory warm-and-fuzzy to President Bush:
But if black people want to help themselves and break through the culture of victimization, they can look to President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, Williams said. "Here's a president who's actually looking at the fact that these schools that serve an overwhelmingly minority population are failing to properly educate those kids."
Thanks for further confirming our suspicions, Ron.
UPDATE: We forgot to note that Williams' book is published by Crown, the Random House imprint with which NewsMax has a book deal -- a fact Kessler failed to mention. (The Prima imprint mentioned in the NewsMax article is now called Crown Forum.)
So That Explains It! (Part 2) Topic: The ConWeb
We recently noted that conservatives had suddenly become lockstep in their effusive praise of Oliver Stone's new movie "World Trade Center." Turns out there's a reason for that: The New York Times reports that Stone's studio, Paramount, hired Creative Response Concepts -- the folks that helped bring you the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- to market the film to conservatives.