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Friday, September 8, 2006
Dick Morris Issues Disingenous Attack
Topic: Newsmax

Yes, we know -- calling Dick Morris disingenous is redundant. But he lives up to it again in a Sept. 8 NewsMax article in which he criticizes "Bill Clinton and his allies" for criticizing the inaccuracies in ABC's "The Path to 9/11."

But never once does Morris address the specific claim being made by the Clintonites -- that a key scene depicting Osama bin Laden as being cornered and the administration refusing to OK his capture -- is entirely made up.

Once more, Morris lets his pathological Clinton hatred get ahead of the facts. Again, a redundancy to point out.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:37 PM EDT
Bozell Favors Editing 9/11 Miniseries -- But Not At MRC Site
Topic: Media Research Center

As an aside in a Sept. 8 NewsBusters post about "The Path to 9/11," Tim Graham says of his boss, Brent Bozell: "Brent still believes that if ABC corrects its docudrama if it doesn't have documentation for something being challenged, it's doing the right thing."

But where? Nowhere on the MRC website, that's for sure. No MRC press release has been issued thus far to that effect.

Bozell apparently made this pro-editing statement on the Sept. 6 edition of MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," when he said that ABC should "edit" or "correct" scenes "that do not have any bearing on reality." But that appearance is not noted on the NewsBusters blog -- which usually makes note of Bozell's TV appearances -- nor is it currently noted on the "MRC In the News" page, which stops at Aug. 25. (The MRC front page lists only the three most recent MRC media cites, and if the Scarborough clip was there, it has apparently cycled out.)

NewsBusters does offer a video of Bozell's appearance on the Sept. 8 edition of "Fox & Friends" -- but then, Bozell changes his tune. He attacked criticism of "The Path to 9/11" as "classic Team Clinton spin," adding that "perhaps 2 percent of it was wrong, perhaps 2 percent is debatable":

BOZELL: But what does that leave you with? That leaves you with about 96 percent of the movie that's accurate and that no one is disputing. It is sobering, it is frightening, and I think it's disgraceful that people are playing politics with this in the Clinton camp.

Bozell says nothing here about editing the film for accuracy.

If Bozell is as in favor of editing as Graham claims he is -- which would, in fact, put him in league with fellow conservatives like Bill Bennett and Richard Miniter -- why won't the MRC admit to it and issue an official statement to that effect?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:50 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, September 8, 2006 3:10 PM EDT
Sheppard Tries to Change the Subject Again
Topic: NewsBusters

In a pair of posts on Sept. 7, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard tries to change the subject again as a diversion from criticism of the factual accuracy of "The Path to 9/11" by dragging Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" into. Sheppard's basic point is that nobody forced Moore to fix any factual errors in his movie. As Sheppard states in one post:

Moore was not compelled by a political party to re-edit it. Former President Clinton didn’t call the marketing company involved in the distribution of “Fahrenheit 911” and demand changes be made. The cable companies that have aired this schlockumentary since it was released to them haven't been required to amend its contents to better portray historical events.

Sheppard fails to point out in both posts that "Fahrenheit 9/11" was privately distributed and admission was charged to see it, while "The Path to 9/11" will be aired on free, federally regulated public broadcast airwaves. Privately distributed productions are not subject to any federal standards, and other privately distributed productions can counter it; as we've noted, conservatives made no less than three films to rebut "Fahrenheit." Broadcasters using public airwaves, however, are subject to some level of regulation.

Sheppard also fails to note that Disney, whose Miramax subsidiary produced "Fahrenheit 9/11," refused to distribute it, forcing Miramax to find another distributor. That's arguably a form of censorship, though it did ultimately receive wide distribution. And discredited Clinton-hater David Bossie (producer of one of those aforementioned "Fahrenheit" rebuttal movies) did attempt to censor the movie, filing a federal lawsuit to kill advertising for it as a purported violation of federal election laws.

Sheppard's attempts at diversion fail to conceal the fact -- just as it didn't earlier in the day, when he claimed that ABC's docudrama was only a movie, which would seem to contradict his whining about "Fahrenheit" -- that "The Path to 9/11" is still factually inaccurate, something that Sheppard apparently has no problem with. 

Posted by Terry K. at 2:13 AM EDT
Riehl Irony
Topic: NewsBusters

You gotta love the irony of someone who baselessly smears people passing judgment on others, but here we have Dan Riehl in a Sept. 8 NewsBusters post weighing in on Scholastic's decision to withdraw and revise its "Path to 9/11" materials to more accurately reflect reality. Quoth Riehl: "This is getting entirely out of hand. What a crock. This is disgusting."

Funny, that's what we thought about what his baseless attacks on S.R. Sidarth. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:38 AM EDT
Another Anonymous Klein Attack on Olmert
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 7 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein once again uses anonymous sources to attack Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. This time, unnamed "Israeli military leaders" are criticizing Olmert for lifting an aerial blockade against Lebanon.

As we've noted, Klein regularly uses anonymous sources to level attacks against Olmert, casting a shadow on his reporting.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:26 AM EDT
Thursday, September 7, 2006
Kincaid Dissembles Again on Secret Prisons
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Apparently, we won't be getting that apology from Cliff Kincaid.

In a Sept. 7 Accuracy in Media column, Kincaid again dissembles and parses about the CIA secret prison issue. This time, he takes on reports that President Bush admitted that the secret prisons exists. Au contraire, Kincaid says:

Leave it to Bob Schieffer, the former CBS Evening News anchorman, to admit the truth as he was being interviewed about the speech by new anchor Katie Couric on the Wednesday broadcast. "He never used the term 'prison,'" said Schieffer.

But if the President didn't use the word, then how can the media report that he did so? It's called "interpretive reporting." It's been taught in journalism classes for decades. 

In other words, because Bush didn't say the magic words, those "secret prison" magically don't exist as far as Kincaid is concerned -- just as he did when he attacked Washington Post reporter Dana Priest for exposing these nonexistent "secret prisons" in the first place. He will admit, though, that "a secret CIA program to interrogate terrorists, including the architects of 9/11, did exist" and that "the President acknowledged that the CIA has maintained an interrogation "program" in which "a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States," but Kincaid never says what the difference is between that and a "secret prison."

Kincaid also repeats his claim that "AIM contended, and still does, that the story was essentially false," but again, he won't explicitly say why it's "false" to use the term "secret prison" when 1) it was secret and 2) people were imprisoned.

Kincaid is playing a game of sematics: He refuses to call them "secret prisons," so therefore, it's wrong for anyone else to call them that. 

Posted by Terry K. at 7:16 PM EDT
Speaking of Outrageous ...
Topic: NewsBusters

From a Sept. 7 NewsBusters post by Dan Riehl:

Just heard a quick news report make that claim on WABC radio out of NYC while in the car. No statement or confirmation from Disney at this time. The report claimed at least one scene drawing criticism from Dems may be altered.

If so, this is outrageous.

No, Dan, smearing S.R. Sidarth and not apologizing for it is outrageous. Clean your own house first, dude.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:47 PM EDT
Bozell's Double Standard
Topic: Media Research Center

Here's what Brent Bozell has to say about a certain TV "docudrama":

Hollywood should never call its historical fiction "meticulously researched." Rather, they should be forced to carry a disclaimer at the bottom of the screen saying "We made some of this stuff up."

Half of our dismay at this messy crossroads of entertainment and propaganda should be directed at Hollywood, which should be greeted with a shaker of salt every time a movie is "Based On a True Story." ... To those Americans who get their history from the movies (and their news from the late-night comedians), we can only plead: read a book, or a newspaper, or else please don’t bother to vote.


What’s worse in this film are what the producers and writers are "adding" to the historical record.


Nobody said those fictional "history" movies can’t be very political. And very dishonest.

No, this wasn't about "The Path to 9/11" -- this is from an Oct. 23, 2003, column about a planned CBS miniseries on Ronald Reagan. After CBS pulled it from the schedule and shunted it to Showtime, Bozell crowed: "for once, conservative pressure, and the national outcry of Reagan-loving Americans, was the deciding factor in a program’s cancellation."

Bozell is much more sanguine about error-filled "docudramas" when the falsehoods are told about Democrats. From Bozell's Sept. 6 column:

Serious scholars of current events, not to mention some of those named in the film, may take issue with parts of this presentation. The movie is based on the report of the 9/11 Commission, which itself is not infallible in its conclusions on what went wrong and what needs to fixed. Moreover, up front the moviemakers note it has composite characters and manipulates the time of events for a better movie experience. As a "docudrama" it has taken certain poetic license with history.

When Reagan was the target, Bozell insisted Hollywood "made some of this stuff up." When Democrats were being defamed, Hollywood was taking "poetic license with history." Nice double standard there, Brent.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:37 PM EDT
Six Against None

A Sept. 7 article by Susan Jones on a proposed no-confidence vote on secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, promoted by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, quoted six Republican congressmen attacking the resolution but failed to quote a single supporter of it -- not even Boxer. The end of the article reproduces the resolution; Jones added that "it reflects many of the Democratic arguments advanced on the Senate floor Wednesday."

In other words, a somewhat lazy way out. None of the Republicans Jones quoted actually address the allegations in the resolution; their focus, as Jones wrote (and abetted), was to portray it as "political grandstanding."

Posted by Terry K. at 2:18 PM EDT
Sheppard Walks Back Inaccurate Post on 9/11 Miniseries
Topic: NewsBusters

Remember Noel Sheppard's eager-to-smear NewsBusters post attacking critics of ABC's 9/11 miniseries? Well, never mind.

A Sept. 7 NewsBusters post by Sheppard walks back some of those claims. After hearing from Michael Scheuer (who, if you'll recall, is "no friend of the Bush administration!"), Sheppard seems to be conceding that a scene in the miniseries in which the CIA and Northern Alliance purportedly have Osama bin Laden surrounded only to have the operation called off by the Clinton White House is not as accurate as he previously suggested.

Then, after channeling Scheuer for some more Richard Clarke-bashing, Sheppard tries to change the subject:

Finally, on a personal note, it appears necessary to clear up some misunderstandings about the focus I have given to this issue the past couple of days. The truth is that I have not yet seen “The Path to 9/11,” and, frankly, have no opinion on it. How can one have an opinion on something one hasn’t seen?

In reality, that has been my point from the start.


Well, it appears this has happened with “The Path to 9/11,” and all those guilty of rendering an opinion without having seen it should be ashamed of themselves. This is especially true of those in the blogosphere that have fanned the fires of discontent concerning this program before it even aired.


In the end, “The Path to 9/11” is just a made-for-television docudrama…nothing more, nothing less.

We suspect that Sheppard didn't feel the same way about the Reagan miniseries that was similarly assailed before its airing (by conservatives).

Sheppard, however, makes no attempt to correct his other inaccurate claims, such as falsely stating the circumstances surrounding the Sandy Berger case or his straw-man claim about Think Progress' post on the miniseries.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:10 PM EDT
Beverage Misses the Point
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 6 NewsBusters post by Lyford Beverage claims that it is "non-news" that President Bush acknowledged that the CIA operates secret prisons:

To the extent that the CIA prisons were "secret," they remain secret today. The fact that the President had never officially announced that prisoners were being held by CIA operatives in undisclosed locations is not remotely the same as stating that anyone was unaware of the fact that prisoners were being held in undisclosed locations by CIA operatives. 

Beverage might want to chat with Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid about the news value of Bush's admission; he's been demanding proof of these prisons for months now. He also might want to check with his fellow NewsBusters, who thought it was a bad thing when the Washington Post reported it.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
'Liberal and Dishonest'
Topic: Media Research Center

From the Media Research Center front page earlier today:













The CyberAlert item that this is promoting offers no evidence to support the claim that Joseph Welch is "liberal and dishonest" -- in fact, it doesn't even make that claim at all, let alone that he "mocked" McCarthy when saying it. From the item:

Olbermann concluded by his own historical comparison, asking Bush: "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" an echo of remarks made by Joseph Welch to 1950s Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The guy who writes the copy for the MRC front page is apparently unconstrained by even fewer factual bounds on his rhetoric than the MRC's researchers.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:44 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 6, 2006 6:45 PM EDT
Apology, Please
Topic: Accuracy in Media

CNN reports:

President Bush on Wednesday for the first time acknowledged the use of secret CIA prisons outside U.S. borders to hold top suspects captured in the war on terrorism.

We presume that Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid is currently drafting his apology to the Washington Post's Dana Priest, who had written stories about the secret prisons that Kincaid repeatedly called "false" and unsubstantiated.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:37 PM EDT
Another Flawed Defense of 9/11 Miniseries
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 5 NewsMax column by James Hirsen puts forth a flawed defense of the upcoming ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11." Hirsen claimed that the show is "thoroughly sourced and exposes information that former members of the Clinton administration had previously tried to suppress." Hirsen does not address the claims that scenes in the miniseries are factually inaccurate.

Hirsen writes:

"Path" highlights the pivotal moment when the CIA and Northern Alliance had bin Laden surrounded and sought the necessary approval from the Clinton administration to go in and arrest the al-Qaida leader. The administration's refusal to authorize bin Laden's capture was apparently for political reasons.

In fact, that scene, as depicted in the miniseries, never happened. According to former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke:

1. Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.

2. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was no where near the alleged bin Laden camp and did not see UBL.

3. Contrary to the movie, the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.

Even Thomas Kean, the 9/11 Commission co-chairman who served as a "senior consultant" for the miniseries, says the scene is mere speculation and not fact:

Kean himself questioned the accuracy of the miniseries. Asked about a key scene in which the Clinton administration is accused of blocking a surefire chance to kill Osama bin Laden, Kean said, “I don’t think the facts are clear” about those events, and that while ABC had “chose to portray it this way,” “my memory of it is that it could have happened any number of ways.”

Hirsen also states:

Clinton colleagues Richard Ben-Veniste and John Podesta reportedly expressed their extreme displeasure about the way the docudrama portrays the Clinton administration. Their frustration likely stems from the extensive efforts that were taken to keep the information from being made public.

Jamie Gorelick, former deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration and creator of the notorious wall that was erected between the FBI and CIA, served as a 9/11 Commission panel member. Because of potential conflicts of interest, the propriety of Gorelick's membership on the panel was questionable.

Hirsen offers no specific evidence to back up his claim that Ben-Veniste and Podesta -- or anyone else -- tried to "suppress" information from becoming public.

Further, Hirsen's claim that Gorelick was the "creator of the notorious wall that was erected between the FBI and CIA" is false, as we've repeatedly noted.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:05 PM EDT
NewsBusters Defends ABC 9/11 Miniseries
Topic: NewsBusters

As criticism of the upcoming ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" mounts over its alleged inaccuracies regarding the Clinton administration, the ConWeb is rushing to defend the program -- and attack the critics.

A Sept. 6 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard, for example, is all about attacking the critics, dismissing them as "Michael Moore devotees." First, Sheppard cites Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, "the outspoken proprietor of Daily Kos," calling the series a "piece of fiction." Sheppard retorts: "That’s some truly objective review-work there, isn’t it? Wouldn’t every movie and television critic have an easy job if all he or she had to do was reference the opinions of others rather than actually see the film or program in question? Imagine the time you’d save!" Sheppard did not note that non-conservatives, and even people depicted in the show, can't get preview copies of it so they can judge for themselves. Has Sheppard seen it? If so, perhaps he can explain how he got a copy; if not, why is he defending a show he hasn't seen?

Sheppard also accused Moulitsas of committing a "cardinal sin of journalism," forgetting the fact that Moulitsas has never proclaimed himself to be a journalist.

Sheppard then reported that "Kos then listed reasons why the miniseries was presenting falsehoods. Nowhere did Markos inform the reader that this analysis was apparently made by former counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke ." Yet, rather than refuting Clarke's specific criticisms (which he doesn't repeat for the benefit of his readers), Sheppard assailed Clarke's credibility, repeating one critic (Michael Scheuer, who Sheppard insists is "no friend of the Bush administration!") calling him "a risk-averse poseur."

Sheppard also assailed a claim by Think Progress' Judd Legum that a scene in the miniseries depicting Osama bin Laden as being cornered and the Clinton administration refusing to give final approval to capture him, "never happened" and was "completely made up" by screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh. Sheppard then created a straw man, falsely claiming that Legum was denying that there was no plan: "Does it sound like Nowrasteh 'completely made up' this plan?"

Additionally, Sheppard tried to rewrite history by falsely stating the circumstances surrounding the Sandy Berger case, claiming that Berger "was so intent on covering up the missteps of the Clinton administration that he actually stole documents from the National Archive just prior to testifying before the Commission." In fact, as we've repeatedly noted, Berger took no original documents.

It appears that Sheppard is committing a "cardinal sin of journalism" by not getting his facts straight before writing his post. (Hey, if he thinks Kos is a journalist, he must think he is one too. Scary.)

Posted by Terry K. at 1:31 PM EDT

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