AIM: Times Deserved Fake Anthrax Attack Topic: Accuracy in Media
How much does Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid hate the New York Times? His Aug. 16 column suggests that it deserved to be the victim of a fake anthrax attack. Kincaid wrote that "there are some lessons here for the paper, if it will only take some time to consider the implications of what happened." Nowhere does he condemn the attack, calling it nothing more severe than a "terrible prank." And nowhere does Kincaid mention Ann Coulter's facetiously taking credit for the attack, even though he has criticized Coulter's extreme rhetoric in the past.
Kincaid repeats the usual conservative tropes about the surveillance programs that the Times reported on, lamenting, "Why can't the paper realize that it is 'our' nation?" Such a claim, of course, neglects the questionable legality of some of those programs. He also brings up the case of onetime post-9/11 anthrax attack suspect Steven Hatfill, whom Kincaid claims was the victim of a "libelous onslaught" by Times columnist Nicholas Kristof; needless to say, Kincaid fails to mention Hatfill's association with militant white supremacists in South Africa, a connection that AIM has previously downplayed as being merely "anti-communist."
New Article: The ConWeb Ignores A Republican Topic: The ConWeb
There's a Republican running against Joe Lieberman -- why is the ConWeb so reluctant to acknowledge his existence? And will Christopher Ruddy's endorsement of Lieberman mean a slew of fawning NewsMax articles about him? Read more.
Today's Ehud Olmert-undermining hit job by WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein reports (claiming anonymous sources, natch) that "Military intelligence officers here have been asked not to talk to the media without prior authorization from their superiors while some are being petitioned to highlight Israel's gains in Lebanon." Klein has been pushing the unsupported claim that Israel lost the month-long battle against Hezbollah because Olmert restrained the IDF.
Such anonymous sources raise the question of whether Klein is merely serving as a willing conduit by his alleged "military intelligence officials" to get anti-Olmert sentiment into the media. Actually, we should say more anti-Olmert sentiment, as Klein has already demonstrated himself to be a willing conduit for that.
We have to wonder: Would WND permit such reporting if Klein was writing about the U.S. in Iraq instead of Israel? We suspect not.
"Also, if an individual takes on the task of dogging a political campaign with a video camera for the opposition, being held up to scorn doesn't sound like such a bad thing to me."
-- Dan Riehl, in an Aug. 15 NewsBusters post defending Virginia Sen. George Allen after he called a staffer for Allen's re-election opponent, James Webb, who has been videotaping Allen's public appearances, a "macaca."
Fellow NewsBuster Tim Graham, meanwhile, takes the but-the-Post-didn't-report-this approach in his defense of Allen's "supposedly racist" remark.
Meanwhile, Josh Marshall notes what Riehl and Graham don't: that Allen is very likely aware of how offensive the term "macaca" can be.
WorldNetDaily is normally several time zones away from objectivity, yet WND is purporting to offer "[a]n objective examination of increasingly popular Sept. 11 conspiracy theories" in the new issue of its Whistleblower magazine. We're assuming that WND is endeavoring to debunk conspiracy theories, given a lament that "more people found themselves believing the worst about the federal government" and an Aug. 9 article noting that a (liberal) religious publisher is publishing a book theorizing that "the Bush administration planned the events of Sept. 11, 2001, so they could provide justification for going to war with Afghanistan and Iraq."
If so, this would be highly ironic because WND is much better known for promoting conspiracy theories than debunking them. It has given credence to everything from the "Clintonbody count" to alleged plans detailing "the plot for global government and one-world religion." For WND to lament that people are "believing the worst about the federal government" is disingenuous because WND itself has encouraged that belief through its continual attacks on the government, criticizing the IRS (WND's subject header for IRS-related items is "The Power to Destroy") and the Federal Reserve (the previous issue of Whistleblower was dedicated to attacking it as "the fraud of the century").
Given that WND's conservative-libertarian-reconstructionist leanings make it hostile to nearly all aspects of the federal government, why take it seriously as it runs to the government's defense now?
Penis-Obsessed Blogger Posts At NewsBusters Again Topic: NewsBusters
Apparently, an obsession with the phallus is not an obstacle to writing for the Media Research Center -- despite the fact that the MRC also operates an entire subsidiary dedicated to keeping such obsessions off the public airwaves -- because NewsBusters has posted another entry from Jeff Goldstein.
This time, amid an attack on Andrew Sullivan, Goldstein claims that "the overwhelming majority of devoutly religious 'Christianists' and missionaries" have not expressed "a desire to see, say, San Francisco pushed into the sea." Goldstein fails to note that Bill O'Reilly has expressed a desire for San Francisco to be bombed into oblivion by al-Qaida, which is almost the same thing.
And really, is a penis-obsessed guy like Goldstein with issues about homosexuality the best person to write about what Andrew Sullivan has to say?
Klein Back to Undermining Olmert Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 14 WorldNetDaily "news analysis" by Aaron Klein marks a return to his Ehud Olmert-bashing, Israel-undermining ways. Using assertions that are either unsupported or supported only by anonymous sources, Klein claims that "Israel lost the war in Lebanon on all fronts ... largely because Olmert refused to allow the Israeli Defense Forces to do its job."
As we've previously documented, Klein is vehemently anti-Olmert and regularly works to undermine him. That kind of bias hardly makes for trustworthy reporting or "analysis."
UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald notes that Klein isn't alone in unilaterally declaring victory for Hezbollah -- and, thus, doing what conservatives have bashed Iraq war critics for doing: engaging in defeatism by criticizing the head of the country at a time of war.
NewsBusters Makes False Claims About Letters Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 13 NewsBusters post by Dave Pierre claimed that "the majority of the published letters" in the Los Angeles Times regarding an Aug. 5 Times column by Tim Rutten calling for the reopening of a discussion about whether Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" is anti-Semitic in the wake of Gibson's spout of anti-Semitic remarks during a drunk driving arrest -- a column Pierre described as "especially ugly and vitriolic" and "builds the case that anti-Christian and anti-Catholic prejudice is alive and well at the Los Angeles Times" -- "defended Rutten and his hate."
Now, the Times printed four letters; therefore, a "majority" would be more than two. Pierre does finally say as much at the end: "Three letters defended Rutten's bigotry." But that isn't true either. Two of the letters agreed with Rutten's contrention that "the Passion" took an unfair, if not anti-Semitic, view of Jews. Pierre does not explain how supporting that view is "bigotry."
Further, the third letter that Pierre claimed "defended Rutten and his hate" did nothing of the sort. In fact, it suggested that Gibson's alleged anti-Semitism "pales in comparison to the Hollywood Jews who seem to revel in using Christians and Christianity as backdrops for evil." Does that sound like support for Rutten? Nope -- sounds more like support for Pierre's view. That makes it two letters of support for Pierre's side, not one -- and points of view evenly divided, not a "majority" for one side.
Pierre needs to revisit this post and publicly retract what's false.
NewsMax Discloses Its Bias, For Once Topic: Newsmax
In an Aug. 9 column, NewsMax editor and CEO Christopher Ruddy declared that he is "making a donation" to the re-election campaign of Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont. This foreshadows lots of pro-Lieberman, anti-Lamont coverage coming from NewsMax.
At least he declared his donation upfront this time. As we documented, NewsMax promoted the nacent candidacy of Mark Foley for a Senate seat in Florida but didn't disclose that Ruddy had donated to his campaign.
New Conservative Global Warming Meme Topic: NewsBusters
The anti-global warming folks -- apparently feeling a bit sensitive to charges that they are being funded by oil companies and other fossil-fuel purveyors -- have initiated a counterresponse: We don't get that much money from them, and anyway, it doesn't go toward countering the idea of global warming.
An Aug. 13 NewsBusters post by Amy Ridenour demonstrates this approach. Ridenour is CEO of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think-tank responsible for the conservative black group Project 21 and, thus, the hypocriticalMychal Massie (she is also one of the peripheral players in the Jack Abramoff scandal). In reproducing an exchange of letters between her and Long Beach News-Telegram columnist Tom Hennessy rebutting a column he wrote about the Al Gore movie "An Inconvenient Truth." In it, Hennessy had noted that one global warming skeptic, Tim Ball, "is promoted by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which has received funding from ExxonMobil." Ridenour's response:
This makes it appear as though Dr. Ball received cash from us, and by extension ExxonMobil, when in fact all we did was reprint a small amount of his writing on one of our websites.
As it happens, Dr. Ball has never received a penny from us, and our support from ExxonMobil amounts to less than one percent of our budget. This leaves Dr. Ball with zero percent of less than one percent. Not much! Yet, apparently, worthy of note in the press.
This approach manages to be only slightly less head-in-the-sand that fellow NewsBuster Matthew Sheffield's skepticism that ExxonMobil funded the group that paid for an anti-Al Gore video posted to YouTube.
Ridenour also took issue with Hennessy's claim that Ball "is in high demand by the front groups sponsored by the fossil fuel industry":
A more factual description more likely is that, over a two-year period, a retired academic spoke once time each to two of Canada's most prestigious think-tanks, and co-wrote a paper for one of them.
All of this, of course, is obfuscation. Ridenour hammers away at imprecise specific claims in an attempt to undermine larger assumptions that are essentially true. None of what Ridenour has said refutes the fact that fossil-fuel companies are funding conservative groups who promote global warming skepticism. And Ridenour's narrow definition of "in high demand" doesn't mean that Ball is not actively promoting his skeptical views with the help of conservative think tanks like Ridenour's.
Ridenour further attacked Hennessy for "intend[ing] to undermine Dr. Ball's credibility as an honest scientist," but there are some warning flags that Ridenour declines to mention. The DeSmog Blog notes that despite promoting himself as "the first Canadian PhD in Climatology," the record suggests a paucity of published scholarly research on the subject. Another entry makes the point clearer, claiming that "Dr. Ball has not published any research in a peer-reviewed science journal in the last 20 years."
The blog also notes that Ball "has been criss-crossing the country in a campaign to undermine public support for the scientific proof behind human-caused climate change," which suggests that he is in "high demand" by somebody.
NewsBusters' False Suggestion About Wiretapping Topic: NewsBusters
In an Aug. 11 NewsBusters post noting how data intercepts played a role in the foiling of the British terror plot, Greg Sheffield falsely suggests that those critical of the Bush administration domestic spying program opposed all domestic surveillance.
In fact, as Media Matters pointed out when RNC chairman Ken Mehlman similarly claimed that Democrats oppose "NSA technology," such a claim is a straw man. Critics of the NSA eavesdropping program were never opposed to all eavesdropping (and we doubt Sheffield can provide us with a major politican who does believe that); the problem is that the NSA was apparently operating outside the bounds of established U.S. law.
Perhaps Sheffield should lay off the GOP talking points and try the novel approach of reporting facts.
Some Conspiracy Theoires Are More Equal Than Others Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters takes Keith Olbermann to task for "pushing conspiracy theories questioning whether the Bush administration has politically timed terror alerts or the release of terrorism-related stories for political advantage" even as it promotes others, such as the idea that the "mainstream media" is collaborating with Hezbollah.
CNSNews.com has been, among the ConWeb, the most conscientious about disclosing potential conflicts of interests in its news article (though that is something of a low standard since WorldNetDaily and NewsMax basically don't do it at all). The disclosure at the end of an Aug. 11 article by Nathan Burchfiel promoting the results of a poll conducted by a "conservative grassroots organization" called Grassfire.org may well be the most comprehensive we've ever seen on the ConWeb:
(Editor's Note: The Media Research Center, parent organization of Cybercast News Service, has previously utilized the marketing services of Grassfire.net, a for-profit Internet Services Provider affiliated with Grassfire.org. Neither Grassfire.net nor the Media Research Center were contacted about, or exercised any influence over the content or publication of this report.)
While Burchfiel's article doesn't address the fact that Grassfire.org has a point of view to peddle on the issue of immigration and that its poll used biased language such as "illegal alien" to help skew it toward Grassfire's desired results, the disclaimer is a thing of beauty that WorldNetDaily and NewsMax could take lessons from.
In his Aug. 10 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah makes a curious claim: that he was the one who came up with the name "Night Stalker" for serial killer Richard Ramirez while working for the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner:
In fact, I am the guy that dubbed Ramirez as the "Night Stalker." Naming serial killers in California was a big deal. There were lots of them, so editors had many opportunities. Believe it or not, before I came up with "Night Stalker," he was most frequently called the "Valley Intruder." There was no way somebody called the "Valley Intruder" could terrify Los Angeles like this guy did. I knew I could top that one.
We're not sure how true this claim is; a Google search is turning lots of false positives, since actor Jamie Farr was born Jameel Joseph Farah and played a role in the 1970s TV show "Kolchak: The Night Stalker."
Apparently, it's NewsBusters policy never to acknowledge the existence of critics (or, at the very least, us), so Michael Rule used a Free Republic post to respond to our noting of his smear of a dead woman. And even then, it's not much of a response: "Guess I should have praised the LA Times for heading her obit: 'Lifelong Communist Fought for Working People.'"
Rule does not know the deceased (or has given no indication that he does) and, thus, has no personal animus against her. If he has any examples of this woman personally exhibiting "monstrous tyranny," he has not enumerated them. What the LA Times ran is not a news story; it's an obituary. It's hardly an example of "liberal bias" to say nice things about a recently deceased woman. If Rule feels the need to besmirch her memory because all communists must be criticized all the time, whatever. Just don't confuse airing one's personal biases and opinions with "media research," even though that's what NewsBusters does on a regular basis.