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Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Klein Fails to Admit Earlier False Claim on Fox Kidnapping
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Remember when WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein reported that the kidnappers of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig were "independent Palestinian gunmen" affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades? Never mind!

Klein hews closer to actual facts in an Aug. 22 article, reporting that "an unknown Palestinian terror organization" called the Holy Jihad Battalion has taken responsibility for kidnapping Centanni and Wiig. Klein fails to reference his earlier, erroneous claim, which he attributed to "leaders of the Al Aqsa Martys Brigades terror group." Well, shoot, if you can't trust a terrorist to tell you the truth, who can you trust?

Nevertheless, Klein continues to trust terrorists in his new article, authoritatively citing "the leader of a terror group that claims it represents the interests of al-Qaida" as making claims about why Centanni and Wiig were kidnapped, though Klein does not directly link this group to the kidnapping.

Klein further claims that "Analysts are speculating the group is a front for al-Qaida," though he quotes no analysts actually doing so. As we've noted, Klein relies heavily on anonymous and unsubstantiated claims, usually in the service of attacking Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.

(UPDATE: Speaking of which, here's today's anti-Olmert article from Klein.)

Posted by Terry K. at 3:22 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 3:36 PM EDT
CNS Spins for George Allen

An Aug. 23 article by Susan Jones serves up a heapin' helping of favorable coverage of Republican Sen. George Allen, who sparked controversy by calling a staffer of Indian descent for his Democratic opponent, James Webb, who had been videotaping Allen's public appearances, a "macaca."

First, Jones tried to portray the controversy as over with the lead: "Sometimes controversy has a short shelf-life, and that appears to be the case with Sen. George Allen, the Virginia Republican who's running for re-election." Jones then offered a most charitable explanation for Allen's comment:

Allen was making the point that instead of visiting many parts of Virginia, Webb is simply sending a cameraman to record the competition.

This claim is unattributed -- understandable, since Jones seems to be on her own here in advancing this theory. In fact, Allen himself is on record with a different explanation: that in saying, "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," he was simply saying, "Just to the real world. Get outside the Beltway and get to the real world." Allen, as far as we know, has not claimed that the cameraman is Webb's proxy. Further, Jones offers no evidence that Webb has, in fact, refused to appear in "many parts of Virginia."

Having papered over that controversy, Jones went on to portray Webb's campaign as "cash-strapped" and dependent upon "media messengers, such as the Washington Post, which has run repeated stories about what some Allen supporters consider a manufactured controversy."

Jones has certainly done her part to play into that claim. Does that mean she's an "Allen supporter" too?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:51 PM EDT
A Reminder
Topic: NewsBusters

An Aug. 22 NewsBusters post by Dan Riehl takes offense at the idea at the suggestion that the reason the kidnapping of two Fox News employees in Gaza has not gotten the press conservatives think it deserves is because Fox News is generally hostile to the rest of the news media.

Let us take this opportunity to remind Riehl that his fellow NewsBusters are lusting to see footage of ABC's Bob Woodruff getting blown up and NewsBusters readers have asserted that Woodruff deserved to get blown up.

While we don't like to see journalists kidnapped (being former journalists ourselves), right-wingers have generally been so hostile to journalists -- as illustrated above -- that we are perversely amused when they demand sympathy for a conservative-friendly journalist in trouble. Riehl's own blog, Riehl World View, is an example; while Riehl himself appears to have refrained from editorial comment on Woodruff's injuries, the first comment on a Riehl post about the incident reads, "Shame they are taking away the time and attention of the good doctors from the soldiers."

If the alleged lack of coverage of the Fox News kidnappings is based solely on ideology, that's wrong. But Riehl must certainly be aware that if the kidnapping victims worked for, say, CBS instead of Fox News, a significant number of people on his side of the political spectrum -- including commenters at blogs he posts to -- would be rooting for the kidnappers to serve up the Daniel Pearl treatment.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:51 AM EDT
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Quote of the Day
Topic: Newsmax

"I know both individuals personally, Mel and Christ — and my friend Mel is no anti-Semite."

-- Pat Boone, Aug. 22 NewsMax column, in which he "literally and reverentially" asks people to "Lay off of Mel Gibson, for Christ's sake!"

Somewhat less interesting is Boone's Aug. 17 column, in which he attacked the Senate because it "failed – again – to abolish the 'death tax,' the so-called estate tax." Boone mysteriously fails to mention how much money his estate will save after his death from the elimination of the estate tax.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:57 PM EDT
NewsBusters: Time Mentioned Our Book!
Topic: NewsBusters

An Aug. 22 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham seems to forgive a Time profile of Hillary Clinton for the offense of being "sometimes gooey" because it mentions the new anti-Clinton book he and Brent Bozell are writing. (And Graham actually describes his book as "anti-Clinton," refreshingly dispensing with the pretense that it's anything other than a partisan hit job.)

The book, by the way, is titled "Whitewash: How the News Media are Paving Hillary Clinton's Path to the Presidency" and is due out in September 2007. Such a title suggests that one prominent feature of it will be Clay Waters' report on how the New York Times allegedly drools all over Hillary -- which we debunked as being full of dubious and unsupported claims.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:44 PM EDT
WND Buries the Lead on Hitler-Darwin Claim
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Aug. 22 WorldNetDaily article -- the second WND article to promote an upcoming video issued by evangelical activist D. James Kennedy "linking Darwin to Hitler and the contemporary abortion industry" -- focuses mostly on "attacks" on the video by bloggers. But WND buries the actual news to come out of this: that one person who appears in the video not only doesn't ascribe to that theory, he was inserted without his permission.

The article claims that Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, was "targeted" by bloggers for appearing in the video. The article offers only one link to such criticism, the blog Pharyngula. The article noted that Collins is a "theistic evolutionist" who "explained that he had been interviewed by Coral Ridge [Kennedy's ministry] about his book, and the taping was inserted into the program without his advance knowledge," and quoted Coral Ridge as saying that "Collins' comments weren't sought in an advocacy role" and "is not presented as an advocate of the Darwin-Hitler thesis." But that's buried further down in the article, obscuring the apparent deception of Collins being used in the video without his consent.

The article also notes that "blog criticism attacked him for appearing on the special, then offered a half-hearted apology," but the Pharyngula link the article supplies offers a much more straightforward apology from the blog's PZ Myers than the article suggests: "I apologize to Dr Collins for assuming he was a party to this creationist video, and I hope he sues those frauds."

Interestingly, the article treats the Darwin-Hitler link as incontrovertible fact rather than a provocative, partisan thesis promoted by right-wing Christians. An accompanying photo of a emaciated prisoners at a World War II concentration camp carries the caption: "The results of Darwin's theories."

This video is not the first time that WND has promoted a Darwin-Hitler link. In a March 23 column, WND editor Joseph Farah called evolution "a malodorous, filthy, contemptuous lie from the pit of hell" and cited an article purporting to illustrate "how the genocidal mania of Hitler could only be built on a foundation of evolution." (That may explain why WND is treating the Darwin-Hitler claim as fact.) And a July 1 column by Tom Flannery claimed, "The idea of a superior race eliminating all 'inferiors' on the basis of evolutionary dogma originated not with Hitler, but with Darwin. Not surprisingly, this was an idea also enthusiastically embraced by the racist and eugenicist Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood."

(A follow-up post by Myers notes: "I've been linked to by WorldNetDaily. Hoo-weee, you should see the sewage in my mailbox now.")

Posted by Terry K. at 1:54 PM EDT
Monday, August 21, 2006
CNS Questions Poll That Contradicts Conservative Agenda

An Aug. 21 article by Nathan Burchfiel promotes the concerns raised by "pro-life advocates" who attacked a NARAL Pro-Choice America poll finding that a majority of respondents agree that "we need to keep politicians and government out of women's personal decisions about whether or not to have an abortion." According to the article, the poll is "inconsistent with numerous other surveys indicating that most Americans prefer that abortion be less available," ostensibly because only "registered and likely voters" were polled. This means that the "the poll was unable to gauge the general population's opinion." Burchfiel quoted one person, the National Right to Life Committee's Susan Muskett, as saying, "I think you just need to consider this is a poll that's released by a pro-abortion group."

But just 10 days ago, Burchfiel reported on an immigration-related poll by a "conservative grassroots organization" without noting the group's anti-immigration agenda as a factor that could skew the poll's findings. As we noted, the group's poll did indeed skew toward reinforcing its agenda by using biased language such as "illegal alien" (though Burchfiel included a wonderful disclaimer about the pollster's relationship to the Media Research Center, CNS' parent).

We would ask why a conservative news outlet scrutinizes polls that promote non-conservative views more severely than those that promote conservative views, but it's all pretty self-explanatory, isn't it?

Posted by Terry K. at 6:05 PM EDT
WND vs. The Rest of the World on Kidnapped Journalists
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Shortly after the Aug. 14 kidnapping of Fox News correspondent Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig in Gaza, a WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein proclaimed:

Sources in the Al Aqsa Brigades told WND "independent Palestinian gunmen" affiliated with their group carried out the kidnapping "completely on their own."

(Meanwhile, radio host Rusty Humphries -- a WND columnist on whose show Klein regularly appears -- takes Klein's assertion even further, declaring that he "believes it is the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorist group which has kidnapped" Centanni and Wiig.)

But that's not the story being reported by folks not working for WND. An Aug. 20 Associated Press article, posted at Fox News, points out that "all the militant groups have denied involvement and no demands have been issued."

Somebody's wrong here -- is it the Associated Press or is it Klein? Well, Klein does have a history of letting his ideology get ahead of the facts and tarring Palestinans and Muslims every chance he can; WND was forced to retract a Klein article linking an Islamic charity to terrorists and accusing it of making a fraudulent appeal for money. That certainly casts a shadow over Klein's reporting.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:50 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 21, 2006 4:07 PM EDT
Speaking of Deadly Fantasies ...
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Aug. 21 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein harrumphs over a editorial cartoon depicting Ann Coulter being shot at by airport security after she "absolutely refuses to give up her bottle of hydrogen peroxide":

Let's play one of our favorite games: 'Imagine.' Imagine that a conservative columnist had drawn a cartoon depicting a liberal woman icon as the target of a hail of police and military bullets.

OK, let's do that, Mark. Let's imagine that a conservative icon had lamented that Timothy McVeigh didn't blow up the New York Times building or expressed a desire to poison a Supreme Court justice. Oh, wait -- we don't have to imagine that because Coulter has done both of those things (and more). Coulter's own deadly fantasies -- and the failure of conservatives like Finkelstein to condemn them -- arguably set the stage for others to express similar fantasies about her, something Finkelstein fails to address. 

Finkelstein doesn't expect anyone to condemn this cartoon because of the purported liberal bias of the MSM. But Finkelstein won't condemn Coulter because of his clear bias; if it's OK for Coulter to fantasize about killing people, why is it not OK for others to fantasize about killing Coulter?

Posted by Terry K. at 11:11 AM EDT
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Conservative Stockholm Syndrome?
Topic: NewsBusters

When a conservative wanders off the conservative reservation -- that is, criticizes President Bush -- those still on the reservation must find a way to intellectually divorce themselves from that person's view. Which brings us to Tim Graham's Aug. 20 post regarding Joe Scarborugh's "Is Bush An Idiot?" segment on his MSNBC show last week (or, more specifically, the Washington Post's article on it). Graham comes up with the dumbest excuse ever to discount Scarborough's viewpoint -- Stockholm syndrome:

What [Post writer Peter] Baker does not consider what one might call the Scarborough Syndrome: being a conservative host inside a liberal network -- not to mention a liberal network that has a history of changing prime-time hosts like socks -- might compel you to being more critical of Bush and conservatives.

Graham also suggests that Scarborough's point of view isn't worth listening to because Scarborough "often buried his viewers in tabloid piffle like the unending JonBenet Ramsey case, which isn't exactly honoring the intellect of your viewers."

Perhaps, by serving up such ludicrous claims, it's Graham and the Media Research Center who should be ignored instead of Scarborough. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, August 20, 2006 8:08 PM EDT
WND Changing Position on Executing Adulterers?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Back in January 2003, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah penned a column asserting that the estranged husband of Clara Harris, who died when Harris ran him over with her car, "deserved what he got" because he was cheating on her and that Harris "did the right thing" by killing him. A new WND article, though, seems to exhibit some moderation on that position.

An Aug. 19 article by intern Chelsea Schilling reports that "a 34-year-old mother of two young children" in Iran faces execution by stoning "after being found guilty of committing 'adultery.' " It's not clear why "adultery" is in scare quotes here; while Schilling cites critics of Iran's use of strict Sharia law who point out that "adultery" under Sharia describes any intimate (not necessarily sexual) relationship between a married woman and a man to whom she is not married, she also notes that the woman's husband and brother were sentenced to short prison sentences for killing the woman's lover.

But given that back in 2003, Farah was lamenting that "there's no penalty any more for adultery," shouldn't WND be rejoicing that that someone was being put to death for the crime of adultery? Farah also called for a return to the days when "courageous clerics and wise elders practiced excommunication, disfellowshipping and shunning of moral reprobates who didn't put their families first." Is that not what's going on here?

The only difference we see is that Farah presumably would rather that adulterers be killed under Christian justice instead of Islamic justice. That, and perhaps he considers being run over with a car to be a more humane form of execution than stoning.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 PM EDT
Saturday, August 19, 2006
The New Legal Standard
Topic: NewsBusters

Another semi-prominent blogger (along with penis-obsessed Jeff Goldstein) has joined the NewsBusters stable -- Dan Riehl of Riehl World View. In an Aug. 19 post (cross-posted from his blog), Riehl attacks the New York Times and liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald for agreeing with the federal district court decision ruling that the Bush adminstration's warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional because of reports that some people were "distancing themselves from the decision’s reasoning and rhetoric." That report comes from the Times itself, which Riehl bashes elsewhere in his post as among "purportedly professional sources of anti-Bush rhetoric" and displaying "agenda driven shallowness" and "caring not a wit about what does or doesn't make good legal sense." Which makes us wonder why the Times is suddenly so trustworthy on questions about the ruling.

Riehl accuses the Times and Greenwald of ignoring the "evolution of American Law. ... What mattered was that they were reading the outcome they wanted; how our legal system went about getting there was just so much grist for the mill" (he also calls Greenwald a "superficial hack"). But that's exactly how Riehl appears to be approaching the ruling. He clearly opposes it, presumably because he is not the outcome he wanted, since it contracts a policy the Bush administration supports; he offers no reason to oppose it other than that the Times and Greenwald support it. We suspect that if the judge had upheld the surveillance program, Riehl would be praising it up and down, and if the Times had similarly reported that people were "distancing themselves from the decision’s reasoning and rhetoric," he would be bashing it for promoting "anti-Bush rhetoric."

Riehl is no less "agenda driven" than he accuses the Times and Greenwald of being. It's not good form to attack others for allegedly engaging in the same behavior that you yourself are engaged in, as Mychal Massie has so ably demonstrated.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:16 PM EDT
NewsBusters: Your Bush Talking Points Echo Chamber
Topic: NewsBusters

An Aug. 19 NewsBusters post by Lyford Beverage is headlined "The Early Show Continues To Mis-label Terrorist Surveillance Program," but it might has well be labeled "NewsBusters Continues to Repeat Bush Talking Points on Surveillance Program."

As we've previously noted, NewsBusters in general and Beverage in particular has been fond of repeating the Bush talking point of calling the NSA warrantless surveillance program a "terrorist surveillance program," which is misleading: the NSA does not know for sure that the subject of surveillance is, in fact, a terrorist when surveillance begins.

Beverage's argument is that "The Early Show" is being "inaccurate or incomplete" in referring to the program as a "domestic surveillance program" (an argument he has also previously made). Beverage then tries to parse the definition of "domestic," claiming:

The program is not, despite the mainstream press' continued insistence, a "domestic" surveillance program. The NSA is not monitoring American's domestic calls without warrants, or at least, if they are, that has not been made public. That's not what the program being talked about covers. The NSA is monitoring overseas communications of suspected terrorists and terrorism supporters. If some of those communications are into the United States, they're continuing to monitor. That doesn't make the conversations "domestic."

But if "some of those communications are into the United States," that makes the call, at least in part, domestic. Beverage then switches to the term "entirely domestic conversations," which is deliberately muddying the issue, then insists that "The program that has been talked about and discussed is not about surveilling Americans." If one end of the call is in the United States, then an American is, in fact, being surveilled.

Note to Mr. Beverage: Rebuffing a claim with political talking points isn't exactly "newsbusting." 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:38 AM EDT
Friday, August 18, 2006
NewsBusters vs. Reality
Topic: NewsBusters

"Sadly, yes, my brother is a Republican ... he's running for lt. governor of Pennsylvania. If he'd watch my show, I'm sure he would be convinced of the error of his ways ..."

-- "Gaggle" cartoon, NewsBusters, Aug. 18

" And a special nod to my brother Jim Matthews, my little brother, my younger brother, who this weekend won the Republican endorsement for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. ... Our family is very proud of him."

-- Chris Matthews, "Hardball," Feb. 13

"If I ever knew that Chris Matthews' brother Jim Matthews is the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, I had forgotten. "

-- Mark Finkelstein, NewsBusters post, Aug. 17

"My -- my brother -- and I always like to remind people of this, although I am not involved at all -- is running for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania as a Republican. He is a Republican."

-- Chris Matthews, "Hardball," July 12

Posted by Terry K. at 2:58 PM EDT
Kessler's Fluff du Jour
Topic: Newsmax
An Aug. 17 NewsMax article by Bush administration fluffmeister Ronald Kessler gives the softball profile treatment to Kevin Sullivan, the new White House communications director. Kessler unironically allows Sullivan to do his job, quoting him as saying, "The president has such great humanity, and he's so good with people, and the public doesn't see that enough."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:40 PM EDT

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