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Friday, September 15, 2006
Feel the Hate
Topic: Media Research Center

Here's what the Media Research Center has had to say about Keith Olbermann this week alone:

-- A "drive-by bomb-thrower" from the "ratings purgatory that is his own Countdown on MSNBC" who was "[l]ike a baseball player - rescued from the nether reaches of the minor leagues and brought up to the Yankees - who cuts his hair, shaves the shaggy mustache and minds his grammar in his first TV interview." -- Mark Finkelstein, NewsBusters, Sept. 15

-- A purveyor of "odiousness." -- Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, Sept. 15

-- "embarrassing and utterly disgraceful comments ... vitriol ... atrocious behavior." -- Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, Sept. 14

-- "a ratings plea disguised as a Countdown report ... [an] attempt at rational thought." -- P.J. Gladnick, NewsBusters, Sept. 13

-- "apparently sober" -- MRC front page, Sept. 12

-- "the worst performance by a supposed press representative in recent memory ... mean-spirited and unacceptable ... despicable and disgraceful even for him." -- Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, Sept. 12

-- "one of his most vitriolic attacks on the President." -- Brad Wilmouth, Sept. 11 NewsBusters post and Sept. 12 MRC CyberAlert.

-- "Like they say about statistics, there are lies, damn lies . . . and Olbermann." Mark Finkelstein, NewsBusters, Sept. 11

And this is "media research" ... how, exactly?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:27 PM EDT
More Anti-Olmert Activism from WND's Klein
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 14 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein continues his partisan attacks on Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. This time, Klein trots out former Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon to demand that Olmert resign immediately.

What Klein fails to report is Ya'alon is a right-winger (remember Klein's aversion to identifying Israel's right-wingers as such) with a history of opposing Olmert's policies -- as Klein himself reported in July 2005, Ya'alon opposes the "disengagement" policy Olmert championed of moving Israeli settlers out of the West Bank and Gaza. Klein also fails to note that, as the New York Sun reported, Ya'alon is angling for Olmert's job.

And since Klein isn't going to tell his readers that Ya'alon is a right-winger, he certainly isn't going to detail just how right-wing Ya'alon is. For instance, Ya'alon said in 2002: "The Palestinian threat harbors cancer-like attributes that have to be severed. There are all kinds of solutions to cancer. Some say it's necessary to amputate organs but at the moment I am applying chemotherapy."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:04 AM EDT
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The False Meme Rolls On
Topic: NewsBusters

Conservatives really are serious about misrepresenting the Clinton administration's objection to "The Path to 9/11," it seems. This time, the offender is Matthew Sheffield in a Sept. 14 NewsBusters post, who wrote that "ABC came under assault from the left in this country for even thinking to air something critical of the Clinton administration's role in the leadup to 9/11."

No, Matt -- the problem is not that "The Path to 9/11" was "critical"; it's that it was false.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:15 PM EDT
Another Columnist Who Can't Tell the Difference Between Unflattering and False
Topic: The ConWeb

Add another name to those conservatives conflating unflattering with false and misleading regarding Clinton administration complaints over "The Path to 9/11": syndicated columnist Larry Elder. From his Sept. 14 column:

Besides, the docudrama comes down hard on the Bush administration for dawdling during its eight months before 9/11.

In one scene, for example, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice demotes counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, clearly showing the Bush administration's failure to give bin Laden top priority. But did anyone in the Bush administration send letters to ABC demanding revisions -- or else?

As we noted, the Clinton administration wasn't complaining about unflattering (but factually accurate) portrayals; they were complaining about factually inaccurate and misleading portrayals. Elder, like Brent Bozell, WorldNetDaily and Lowell Ponte before him, can't figure out the difference --  possibly because the show's factual inaccuracies about the Bush administration make him look better than the historical record shows.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:17 PM EDT
CNS Labeling Bias Alert, Plus a Double Standard

A Sept. 14 article by Susan Jones on a conservative group's call for more "constitutionalist" judges uncritically uses the term "terrorist surveillance program," the Bush administration's preferred terminology for its warratless eavesdropping.

Jones also glibly dismisses criticism of one controversial Bush judicial nominee. Jones noted that nominee Michael Wallace was "declared 'not qualified' by the American Bar Association," then added in parentheses: "bunch of liberals, conservatives note." Jones fails to note, let alone contradict, the ABA's reasons for giving Wallace that unanimous "not qualified" rating -- doubts about his commitment to equal justice; misgivings about his impartiality and open-mindedness; and the potential that Wallace may use his position and legal skills to "change or modify the law to reflect his person views rather than rely upon and apply existing precedent."

Curiously, in the very next paragraph, Jones touts the fact that the ABA gave a "qualified" rating to another judicial nominee, Terrence Boyle, as a counterweight to conflict-of-interest charges surrounding him. Why doesn't Jones dismiss Boyle's ABA rating as offered up by a "bunch of liberals" as she did for Wallace's? She doesn't say.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:31 PM EDT
Another Christian Activist Joins WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 14 WorldNetDaily article announces that ex-Associated Press staffer Robert Unruh, "a veteran reporter with almost three decades' experience working for the world's largest news organization," has joined WND.

Given that WND editor Joseph Farah hates the AP -- as we've noted, Farah has attacked the AP for not giving WND the credit Farah thinks it deserves for stories AP has run, even though WND regularly lifts AP copy to put under its own byline without paying for that use, or sometimes without giving the proper credit that WND has demanded of AP -- Unruh's journalistic bona fides were not all that important to Farah. What likely got Unruh the gig was his conservative Christianity.

The article downplays that, noting only that Unruh and his wife have "two homeschooled children" -- another point in his favor since Farah's children are homschooled as well -- and adding "They work with the startup branch of Christ the King Community Church in Gilpin County [Colorado], a casino haven where fewer than 4 percent of the people attend a church."

But WND doesn't note Unruh's history of religious activism, which you'd think Farah would be proud of. From an April 4, 2005, AP article:

A school district has agreed to let a Gilpin County fifth-grader hand out materials at her school promoting a religious club.

The agreement reached last week in U.S. District Court resolved a lawsuit the girl’s parents had filed against Gilpin County RE-1 School District.

The district also agreed to pay $1 in damages and $10,500 in attorneys’ fees and costs to the family of Patricia and Robert Unruh, who is a newsman for the Associated Press in Denver.

Lawyers for both sides said they were pleased with the agreement.

Robert and Patricia Unruh said in their lawsuit that their daughter tried to pass out invitations to her Bible club during non-class hours at Gilpin County Elementary School but was stopped after Principal Deb Benitez said she had received complaints from other parents.

Benitez tried to resolve the dispute by distributing the materials to families who did not object. The Unruhs sued, saying other groups such as the Girl Scouts could advertise by handing out literature to students.

The school has agreed to let the girl’s mother advertise her Vacation Bible School in designated areas.

“The solution provides for relief for students, not just Mrs. Unruh, but all students and recognizes the First Amendment rights for all students,” said the family’s attorney, Michael J. Norton.

The AP article seems to contradict WND's assertion that Unruh homeschools his children, unless Unruh was so aggrieved by the school's efforts to thwart his family's efforts to prostelytize in public schools that he pulled them out.

And, like NewsMax's Ronald Kessler before him, Unruh shows that he has certain delusions about his new employer's journalistic standards:

"While I've enjoyed many experiences in wire service work, I'm more than excited to be able to work with the next level of journalists reporting the world through the unfiltered lens of WorldNetDaily," Unruh said. "While WND already has the best report on the Internet, there are many additional stories that, I believe, should be told and I hope to be working on some of those."

Of course, WND is anything but "unfiltered," as its copiously slanted -- and occasionally false -- "journalism" has been exposed time and time again.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:10 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 14, 2006 6:15 PM EDT
Farah Thinks Writer Wants to Kill Him
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 13 WorldNetDaily column by Joseph Farah is one big rant that is, by turns, vitrolic and paranoid.

The focus, inasmuch as there is one, is on an Online Journal article by Mel Seesholtz criticizing religious-right groups for their virulent opposition to proposed California laws regarding homosexuality-related education bills in California. Farah hyperbolically starts out:

It's been a while since the Romans made sport of feeding Christians to the lions, but there's a terrible new Colosseum-style feeding frenzy emerging – a new bloodlust for eliminating the plague of uppity Christians right here in the U.S. 

You think I'm exaggerating?

Farah then goes on to quasi-summarize Seesholtz's article, noting that "I, for one, stand accused by Seesholtz of lording over WorldNetDaily, which, in turn, stands accused of 'deceptive and misleading' reporting on the legislation that was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger."

But rather than addressing that, Farah hones in on a statement by Seesholtz which Farah has taken to mean that Seesholtz wants Farah killed:

And what is the penalty for such crimes in the eyes of this academic who also teaches in the American Studies and Science, Technology and Society programs while feeding at the Pennsylvania public trough?

Apparently, the penalty for opposition to Seesholtz's ideas about "equality" and "respect" is death.

Here's how he concludes his rather lengthy indictment of what he characterizes as "the Christian Right":

"A very wise woman recently asked me, 'Who will rid us of the evil lunatics?'"

His answer: "We will. We must. Public education and a civil civilized society depend upon it."

Farah then launches a personal attack on Seesholtz, a university professor: "Apparently, the little hatemonger is developing some new courses of study for the unsuspecting skulls full of mush who attend Penn State: 'Religion in American Life and Thought,' a class in which I'm certain students will get a most unbiased point of view from their teacher."

Meanwhile, Farah never denies Seesholtz's claim that WND's coverage of the California legislation is "deceptive and misleading." That's because, as we first detailed, it most certainly is. On the other hand, Farah may actually believe that WND's deceptive and misleading coverage is actually the truth (which we've also noted). Amid all of his vitriol against Seesholtz, Farah descends into treating the claims issued by a conservative group about the legislation is if it was true:

Seesholtz sees no difference between opposition to California legislation that would indoctrinate all schoolchildren – from kindergarten up – in the merits of homosexuality, transsexuality and bisexuality without their parents' permission and the use of religion to justify rape.


Pennsylvanians, let me suggest you have a Ward Churchill in your midst – a hateful little man obsessed with stamping out any and all opposition to the forced homosexualization of America. 

Wow. Seesholtz may have been over the top in his rhetoric -- he links to a pair of ConWebWatch articles to back up his claims about Farah "lording over" WND, and we suspect he picked up our reporting on WND's biased reporting as well -- but Farah manages to trump him by ranting about "the forced homosexualization of America" and declaring that Seesholtz wants to kill him. It's all so hateful -- as the whole slanted, anti-gay tone of WND's articles on this issue -- that you have to wonder if Farah, in fact, wants to be "rid" of homosexuals in the same manner that he accuses Seesholtz of wanting to be rid of Christians. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:18 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Where's Evidence That Bush Was Unfairly Bashed in 9/11 Miniseries?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

One of the claims of conservative defenders of ABC's "The Path to 9/11" is that the Bush administration was as misleadingly portrayed as the Clinton administration. For instance:

  • "Last night's episode included scenes that were not flattering to the Republican Bush administration, which took over eight months before the 9/11 attacks." -- Sept. 12 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore, the same article that whitewashed scriptwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh's conservative politics.
  • "The film doesn't play favorites, and the Bush administration takes its lumps as well. Condoleezza Rice, for one, takes a hit." -- Brent Bozell, Sept. 6 column.
  • "'The Path to 9/11' also depicted President George W. Bush's administration in an unfavorable light, but Republicans made no similar totalitarian threat against ABC." -- Lowell Ponte, Sept. 13 NewsMax column.

But both Bozell and WND are conflating "not flattering" -- which nobody disputes; it's hard to quibble with an unflattering depiction of events if it's factually accurate -- with false and misleading, which is what the Clintonites were complaining about. Neither WND nor Bozell offer any examples of misleading or inaccurate depictions of Bush administration officials or their actions in "The Path to 9/11," as Clintonites did of their depictions.

That may be because, to the contrary, the Bushies are shown as acting more heroically than the historical record shows. As Media Matters documents, President Bush and his administration are shown as being more proactive against terrorist threats and, on 9/11 itself, quicker to call for shooting down terrorist-hijacked planes than the facts warrant. One might even call it flattering.

Have we heard conservatives -- who, in their attacks on the CBS miniseries on the Reagans, to be sticklers for historical accuracy -- demand that "The Path to 9/11" tell the truth about the Bush administration? Nope -- because those falsehoods make Republicans look good.

UPDATE: Added Lowell Ponte quote. 

Posted by Terry K. at 6:19 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 10:13 PM EDT
CNS Suddenly Tells the Truth About GOP Hearings

A Sept. 13 article by Susan Jones begins:

In 13 states this summer, Republican lawmakers held "field" hearings on immigration reform, trying to get a sense of where voters stand on the issue.

On Tuesday, the Republican committee chairmen reported their findings to the Republican Policy Committee -- prompting complaints from Democrats, who called Tuesday's Republican-only gathering a "sham hearing."

That's not a point of view CNS offered up when it covered one of those hearings. As we documented, in an Aug. 17 article, CNS writer Kevin Mooney misleadingly claimed that the entire House Judiciary Committee was involved in those field hearings, even though he quoted only Republicans in his article, unquestioningly repeating their spin points on immigration.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:41 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 5:42 PM EDT
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Is Ann Coulter Writing for the MRC?
Topic: Media Research Center

The promotion on the daily CyberAlert at the top of the front page of the Media Research Center website has grown noticeably more hostile of late. First, this Coulteresque writer bashed the man who told Sen. Joe McCarthy "Have you no sense of decency?" as "liberal and dishonest." Today, he/she is suggesting that Keith Olbermann was drunk when he excoriated President Bush on his Sept. 11 show:










As before, the item to which it links is not nearly so hateful as the front page indicates; it merely calls Olbermann's lecture "one of his most vitriolic attacks on the President." And while the anonymous blurb-writer asserted that "Olbermann, of course, presented no evidence to back up his claims," the MRC presented no evidence to contradict Olbermann's claims.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:50 PM EDT
'On Either Side' = Attack on Bush
Topic: Media Research Center

How ultra-sensitive are the employees of the Media Research Center to any real or perceived criticism of President Bush? Take this Sept. 12 CyberAlert item (and NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker. Otherwise laudatory of CBS' Craig Ferguson for expressing a "refreshing attitude" for his "overall unashamed sentiment and appreciation for our country" in a monologue on his late-night show, Baker couldn't shake the feeling that there was liberal bias lurking about:

I could have done without the criticism of “all the rascals and the scoundrels on either side of political debates, all across who try and claim this awful, awful day as something they own,” which could be seen as a cryptic shot at President Bush since it matches a liberal talking point about him -- but Ferguson's overall unashamed sentiment and appreciation for our country was pleasing to hear on a broadcast television network.

Yes, Baker apparently believes that criticism of crass, opportunistic behavior on either side of political debates is focused only on Bush; he seemed undisturbed that non-Republicans were also targeted by that "crypic shot." What part of "on either side" does Baker not understand?

Posted by Terry K. at 4:46 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 4:53 PM EDT
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Sept. 12 NewsBusters post (and matching TimesWatch post), The MRC's Clay Waters does a fine job of summing up conservatives' attitude toward inaccurate portrayals of Democrats in ABC's "The Path to 9/11." In the midst of excoriating the New York Times for "adopt[ing] the POV of the Clintonians that tried to stop ABC from airing the miniseries," Waters quotes the Times noting the film's very first scene shows lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta getting on the wrong airline, Waters succintly describes his reaction:


There you have it -- proof that at the MRC, media accuracy only matters some of the time. Sure, they love to trot out Brent Bozell's grudging claim that inaccurate parts of the miniseries should be edited, but as we detailed, the MRC never acted on it and spent most of its time beating up Democrats who dared to request an accurate portrayal -- and then had a fit over being accused of a double standard when they weren't as harsh on "The Path to 9/11" as they were on a 2003 Reagan miniseries.

Does this mean the next time the MRC gets its knickers in a twist about a portrayal of conservatives that it doesn't we get to dismiss it with a hale and hearty "So?" just like Waters?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:00 PM EDT
WND Whitewashes Nowrasteh's Conservatism
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 12 WorldNetDaily article featuring an after-the-fact defense of the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" by Cyrus Nowrasteh, its screenwriter and chief producers, glosses over the real controversy over the show -- Nowrasteh's conservative politics.

Before Moore even addresses that, though, he and Nowrasteh get in their digs at Clinton administration officials who protested the show's false portrayals of them. Moore cited 'unprecedented pressure from former President Clinton, his aides and top Democratic Party leaders that resulted in edits," then quoted Nowrasteh as saying, "To lose only a minute [due to the edits] is a success, is a victory. ... I think ABC stood tall." Nowrasteh also lamented the elimination of a "masterfully directed sequence" that falsely portrayed Clinton-era national security adviser Sandy Berger hanging up on CIA director George Tenet as Tenet sought permission to go ahead with a capture of Osama bin Laden, even though Nowrasteh himself admitted it was "a conflation of events" and the setup of the scene -- a visual sighting of bin Laden being cornered in his compound -- never happened in real life. Moore also repeated his earlier misleading description of Robert "Buzz" Patterson, one of Nowrasteh's sources for his screenplay, as a "a former military aide to President Clinton" when, as we've detailed, Patterson is in fact a Clinton-bashing conservative activist.

It's not until the 22nd paragraph that Moore touches on the issue of Nowrasteh's political leanings by repeating the claims of Huffington Post blogger Max Blumenthal that a "secret right-wing network" was behind the ABC miniseries, and that was "produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias." But rather than detail Blumenthal's allegations any further, Moore states that "Nowrasteh dismissed the criticism" and quoted Nowrasteh as saying, "This project was generated at ABC at the highest network levels" -- a "denial" that denies nothing Blumenthal reported about Nowrasteh's conservative activism.

Remember that Moore is the same WND writer who's in charge of whitewashing and falsifying Peter Paul's long criminal history in order to play up Paul's attacks on the Clintons, so it's no surprise that Moore would perform a similar service regarding Nowrasteh's conservative politics.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:07 PM EDT
On 'Poetic License'
Topic: Media Research Center

In his Sept. 11 MRC CyberAlert, Brent Baker mostly repeated his Sept. 8 NewsBusters post defending his boss Brent Bozell from Keith Olbermann naming him "Worst Person in the World." (We say "mostly" because rather than repeating his claim that this very blog may have inspired Olbermann's awarding of the honor to Bozell, he lumped us in with unnamed "left-wing bloggers.") This gives us a chance to address one more Baker claim that we missed in our last analysis of his post.

If you'll recall, Olbermann (as we did) pointed out Bozell's double standard on the issue of factual accuracy in TV docudramas; in 2003, he smacked around CBS for "'adding' to the historical record" in a miniseries about Ronald Reagan, but merely stated that ABC had taken "poetic license with history" on the "Path to 9/11" miniseries. In the NewsBusters post, Baker responded, "Olbermann ignored how saying the movie takes 'poetic license' is criticism"; for the CyberAlert, that was tweaked to state, "Olbermann ignored how saying the movie takes "poetic license" is acknowledging inaccuracies."

But Baker misses the point: The problem is not that noting "poetic license" isn't "acknowledging inaccuracies," it's that "poetic license" is the harshest thing Bozell had to say about those inaccuracies in "The Path to 9/11." By contrast, in his Oct. 23, 2003, column castigating CBS for inaccuracies in "The Reagans" miniseries, Bozell called it "dramatic and quite fictional," said that "no one should expect ... lessons" about "leadership of Ronald Reagan" "to come from leftist Hollywood," asserted that "Hollywood will never catch a glimpse of Reagan’s moral vision," and concluded by stating, "Inquiring minds should also remember that CBS chief Les Moonves won’t be making any Clinton-bashing TV movies." 

Bozell may have suggested that inaccuracies in "The Path to 9/11" be edited, but he made no effort to push or fight for those edits, and he certainly didn't castigate the "Path to 9/11" producers for their inaccuracies they way he bashed the producers of "The Reagans" for theirs. That's the double standard Baker apparently can't see.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:15 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 12:38 AM EDT
Monday, September 11, 2006
Meanwhile, at NewsMax's Bush-Fluffing Department ...
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler continues his Bush hagiography efforts with a Sept. 11 article featuring some serious, unchallenged fawning over Bush by Frances Townsend, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. How fawning? Take this quote for instance: "The president, not just by his words but by his actions and his decisions, has made perfectly clear that first and foremost in his mind is personal commitment to protecting the American people — even if it results in criticism of him personally."

And Kessler himself puts it this way:

In effect, Bush operates as the CEO of the war on terror, pushing countries to cooperate, keeping track of terrorists, asking tough questions, and guiding the agencies responsible for combating terrorism.

No wonder Kessler didn't challenge anything Townsend said; he agrees with it all.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:37 PM EDT

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