One prominent feature of the ConWeb is what we call the Depiction=Approval Fallacy, which holds that any behavior depicted by a media outlet that does not explicitly condemn that behavior, by default, approves of that behavior. It's a logical fallacy because failure to express disapproval does not mean approval. This is seen most often in gay-related issues, in which outlets such as WorldNetDaily often criticize things as, say, "pro-homosexual" simply because they aren't explicityly anti-homosexual.
It's also one of the arguments conservatives use in making accusations of liberal bias. NewsBusters helpfully provides a nice example of this in an Aug. 16 post claiming the the Washington Post "glorifies" what he called "liberal suburban dumpster divers who call themselves 'freegans' " by writing an article about the trend.
But Shepherd fails to note that the article points out that grocery stores throwing out the food disapprove of the practice, not least because they believe it's not fit to be eaten. The article also notes one dumpster-diver who "said he does not eat out of the dumpster because he believes privileged people should not take free food from people who need it"; he instead gives the food he finds that way to the homeless.
A longer version of Shepherd's article on the MRC's Business & Media Institute website complains that the article "didn’t include any law enforcement officials or inform her readers of any criminal penalties a so-called 'freegan' can rack up when foraging for expired foodstuffs." Still, Shepherd offers no evidence that the lack of such information automatically means that dumpster-diving is being "glorified."
Kincaid Opposes HPV Vaccine? Topic: Accuracy in Media
Does Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid oppose giving a vaccine to stop the human papilloma virus (HPV) -- which can lead to cervical cancer in women -- to young people? That's the vibe we're getting from Kincaid's Aug. 17 AIM column. While most of the column is dedicated to calling research on an AIDS vaccine a waste of money, Kincaid notes the following:
There are also calls to force young people to take a new vaccine, Gardasil, to combat the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer in women.
Kincaid certainly seems to oppose any mandatory vaccination -- something that would put him in league with many conservatives. But some conservatives take that opposition further; as The New Republic notes, some conservatives see the vaccine as a license for promiscuity and oppose giving it to young people altogether. Does Kincaid think that too? He doesn't say.
An Aug. 17 NewsMax article provides us with the spectacle of Phil Brennan -- best known around these parts for his poorly written, factually dubious attack on Bill Moyers -- first drooling over David Horowitz's questionably sourced book "The Shadow Party," then tossing softballs at Horowitz in a Q-and-A.
Brennan starts off by predictably praising "The Shadow Party," writing of the book's purported claims about George Soros: "He might just be the most dangerous man in America, a frenzied leftist ideologue with both a surfeit of the money – an estimated $33 billion - and the brains needed to use his money skillfully to impose his twisted will on the United States and the world." Brennan also notes that the book details "a network of private think tanks, foundations, unions, stealth political action committees, and other front groups that exist only to carry out Soros' sinister plans for America and the world."
The last half of Brennan's article is dedciated to an interview of Horowitz himself. Brennan tosses such hard-hitting questions as "Just how dangerous is George Soros?" and "What is Soros ultimate aim?" Horowitz responds in kind with his anti-Soros spiel, including the following bons mots:
-- "He has overthrown many governments – he's gotten away with a lot."
-- "He regards the Bush administration as a radical administration. He has this hatred of George Bush. Bush-hatred is a displacement of hatred for the United States."
-- "George Soros has put together what is really epic making on his part – he's put together an organization – a shadow party that consists of anti-American billionaires, mob-run unions and government unions, 60s radicals who want a revolution in this country, and the heart of the Democratic party apparatus."
Of coruse, there's no mention of that other Shadow Party run by that other billionaire political activist -- Richard Mellon Scaife, funder of both NewsMax and the Horowitz organization.
And we're still waiting on that "effective" response to come from Horowitz and co-author Richard Poe regarding Media Matters' takedown of their book's dubious claims. It must really be effective.
In an Aug. 17 NewsBusters post endeavoring to defect criticism of George Allen's "macaca" comment, Tim Graham joins Allen in beating up on S.R. Sidarth's haircut, using a Washington Post article explaining that the style is "popular in Spain" as the basis:
(Counter-spin to the Post: if Allen was joking about Sidarth being a representative of Hollywood-screenwriter Jim Webb, joking about the exotic Hollywood lifestyle vs. Virginia's, does not the fancy Spain-hair prove the oh-so-cosmopolitan point a bit?)
Graham not only offers no evidence that Allen was referring to the "exotic Hollywood lifestyle," he tips his hand to how the Republicans will attack Webb: as an elitist Hollywood type who's not a "real" Virginian. Graham, of course, fails to note that by the same standard, the California-born Allen is arguably not a "real" Virginian either.
And does Graham really find it so out of character for a young person to have a trendy hairstyle that he needs to bash it as " fancy Spain-hair" and "oh-so-cosmopolitan"?
An Aug. 17 CNSNews.com article by Kevin Mooney misleadingly claims that the entire House Judiciary Committee is involved in field hearings designed to promote the House version of an immigration reform bill and attack the Senate's version of the bill.
Mooney starts the article by writing, "Key provisions of the border security bill passed by the U.S. Senate are 'meaningless' according to the House Judiciary Committee, which is holding a field hearing on the bill in El Paso, Texas, Thursday." Later, he wrote, "The House committee is also concerned that the Senate bill would inhibit local sheriffs and police departments that want to help enforce immigration laws. Mooney further attributes a statement attacking the border fence provision in the Senate bill to the entire committee.
In fact, as the Hotline details, these field hearings are being operated only by the Republicans on the committee, not the entire committee. (Perhaps the fact that the only committee members Mooney quotes are Republicans might have clued him into that.) While the press release issued by committee chairman James Sensenbrenner, from which Mooney pulled his quote criticizing the Senate's border fence provision, obscures the fact that the statement is coming only from the committee's Republicans, the partisan nature of the statement should have set off an alarm bell or two for Mooney as well.
In other words, this is a Republican spin item being passed off as a "news" article.
Yet Another Reason Not to Trust Dick Morris Topic: Newsmax
There are, of course, many reasons not to trust Dick Morris -- his high error rate on prognostication and his obsessive hatred of the Clintons chief among them -- but there's another: His attacks on his former clients. Bill Clinton has been the biggest target of Morris' disgruntlement, but his Aug. 9 column offered up another ex-client he doesn't mind trashing in public, Ned Lamont:
In the general election, Lieberman can paint Lamont (a former client of mine) as the rich, light-weight dilettante he is (heir to the fortune of J.P. Morgan's partner) and can focus on the broad range of his legislative agenda.
If Morris is going to talk smack about you as soon as he's out of your employ, why even bother hiring him in the first place?
What WND Investors Are Up To These Days Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 16 Minneapolis Star Tribune article details the fugitive status of one Robert Beale, for whom an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to appear for his federal trial on tax evasion charges.
As we've noted, Beale was an investor in WorldNetDaily, sitting on its board of directors for several years. (He is no longer on the board.) A June 2003 WND article detailed Beale's fight with with the state of Minnesota over taxes.
Beale is the father of Theodore Beale, better known to WND readers as columnist Vox Day.
Klein Uses Terrorist to Attack Olmert Topic: WorldNetDaily
Today's attack on Ehud Olmert by WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein enlists the enemy to make his point. Klein quotes the "chief rocket coordinator for the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank" as saying that Israel's military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon was a "failure," Olmert's statements of victory are "delusional," and as a topper, that Israel's army is "full of gay soldiers."
Klein sure seems to be on unusually good terms with the enemy. He is certainly able to channel them for his own anti-Olmert purposes.
NewsBusters Makes Misleading Claim About Greenfield Topic: NewsBusters
In an Aug. 16 NewsBusters post, Greg Sheffield claimed that CNN's Jeff Greenfield "compared Israel to a whole host of history's evil people," including Nazis. But the transcript he attaches as evidence doesn't support the claim.
In an appearance on Don Imus' radio show, according to Sheffield's transcript, Greenfield said:
I’ve never heard it explained adequately how you solve a problem where two different people think God gave them the same piece of land. I mean, what actually, we’ve seen how you’ve made progress. And what happens is, at some point, and I don’t just mean in the Middle East, at some point, to be blunt about it, somebody gives up something. You don’t conquer them, you know, like Germany and Japan after World War II.
DeKlerk gave up, in the best possible sense, South Afirca – he said, ‘we can’t keep this going any more.’ The colonial forces, the British and French and others said we can’t run this part of the world anymore.
Essentially Mikhail Gorbachev gave up that malicious dream of a totalitarian state could change the world.
And in the American south, the white southerners, the segregationists, they were made to give up, said you know what, we can’t do this anymore. So the question I get is, who gives up what?
Sheffield doesn't offer enough transcript to provide the full context of what Greenfield said, but it's clear that Greenfield is not making a direct comparison of Israel to Nazis (or imperial Japanese, or Soviets, or apartheid-era South Africa) that Sheffield claims. What Greenfield appears to be saying is that neither Israel nor Hezbollah will be able to declare total victory over the other in the way the Allies did over Germany and Japan after World War II. Greenfield's analogy presumably applies just as much to Hezbollah as to Israel; in other words, if Greenfield is calling Israeli Nazis, he's calling Hezbollah that, too.
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?