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Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Hatchet Job Alert
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WND Books, WorldNetDaily's book division, is publishing a new book next month co-written by right-wing radio host (and WND columnist) Melanie Morgan. Called "American Mourning," it's being promoted as telling "the whole truth about Cindy Sheehan." Given that things promoted by WND as being the "whole truth" usually aren't (Diana Lynne's book on the Terri Schiavo case comes immediately to mind), we have our doubts.

The prime piece of evidence is the bias of co-author Morgan. She is the chairman of Move America Forward, which bills itself as a "pro-troops" group. Last year, it sponsored the "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" bus tour; as The Hill reported, "Sheehan is the main villain in Move America Forward’s war narrative." Morgan's columns also contain much anti-Sheehan rhetoric:

  • A December 2005 column lists Sheehan as among those who "hold a twisted hatred of this country."
  • A column from March wrote of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez: "Apparently he cringed at the notion that Cindy Sheehan might outdo him in shameless conduct." 
  • An April column called Sheehan part of a "a leftist jihad on our campuses that tolerate only one point of view." 
  • A June column referenced "the generation of Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan and anti-war activists protesting at the funerals of military personnel" despite the fact that Sheehan does not protest at military funerals (that would be these guys).
  • Morgan is so eager to be "pro-troops" that she has forwarded dubious claims and falsehoods about the war.

In a July 7 column, Morgan claims that she "truly ha[s] empathy for" Sheehan, but it's not what we're seeing from her. Will Morgan really serve up the "whole story" of Cindy Sheehan? Given her track record, we wouldn't count on it.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:20 AM EDT
Monday, September 18, 2006
CNS Ignores Other Side of the Story

A Sept. 18 article by Randy Hall details a report by a "conservative think tank" that claims that "[l]abor leaders have established a close relationship with anti-American, anti-war activists." But Hall fails to obtain any response from labor leaders to the study.

Hall uncritically repeats the report's claims, by the anti-union National Legal and Policy Center, such as referring to antiwar groups as "tight and incestuous" and "shadowy" and a demand that "Congress should repeal the forced-dues collection clause in the National Labor Relations Act ... so rank-and-file union members are not required to subsidize subversion."

Hall does quote "Toby Chaudhuri, communications director at the Campaign for America's Future - which Horowitz claims is a 'union-funded' group" as claiming that "the conflict in Iraq was caused by different partnership than the one discussed in the report," but 1) Chaudhuri's group is not a union organization and therefore not a primary target of the NLPC report, and 2) Hall does not quote Chaudhuri as responding to the report's conclusions but, rather, a small part of it that allows Hall to portray Chauduri as a radical -- thus reinforcing the NLPC's anti-union attack.

Will Hall bother to do a follow-up with a response to this report from union officials, and let their remarks stand without being countered by the NLPC, as Hall allowed their report to stand unchallenged here? Don't count on it.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:07 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 18, 2006 6:24 PM EDT
Sheffield Still Misrepresenting 'Path to 9/11' Criticism
Topic: NewsBusters

As he did earlier, NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield is continuing to misrepresent liberal criticism of the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11." In a Sept. 18 post, approvingly citing a Wall Street Journal op-ed by the show's screenwriter and producer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, Sheffield refers to "left-wing critics who tried to censor a film that portrayed Democrats in any kind of a bad light."

As we noted before, the problem "The Path to 9/11" is not that was "portrayed Democrats in any kind of a bad light"; it's that it portrayed Democrats in a false light. Sheffield apparently does not understand the difference between the two.

Interestingly, the subhead on Nowrasteh's op-ed misleadingly reads, "My sin was to write a screenplay accurately depicting Bill Clinton's record on terrorism." The problem, of course, is that he didn't. Apparently, Nowrasteh doesn't understand the difference either.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:03 PM EDT
WND Ignores Schindler-Randall Terry Split
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Here's something we didn't learn about from WorldNetDaily: The Schindler family -- Terri Schiavo's parents and siblings -- and Randall Terry, who served as a spokesman and activist for the Schindlers during the Terri Schiavo controversy, have apparently had a falling out.

A Sept. 2 article on the right-wing North Country Gazette by June Maxam attacks Terry for invoking the Schiavo case in soliciting fund for his campaign for a state legislature seat in Florida (which he decisively lost). According to Maxam, the conservative "grassroots" group RightMarch used a letter purportedly signed by Bob Schindler, Terri's father, to raise money for Terry's campaign:

Bob Schindler didn't write that letter. Randall Terry has used the name of Bob Schindler and Terri without authorization, a misappropriation of name. This is the individual who has sued his opponent for what he claims is slander and decried the so-called tactics of Jim King. Terry tactics are no better; in fact, they're far worse.

The misuse and misrepresentation by Randall Terry of the Schindler name has caused the family to place a disclaimer notice at the web site for the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation, proclaiming "Fraudulent Fundraising Alert!" The notice says "There is presently a solicitation letter being circulated that falsely implies that a member of the Schindler family is requesting donations for a political candidate. Any sources soliciting contributions in the name of the Schindler family is unauthorized, misleading and totally disingenuous".

Maxam further attacks RightMarch for "exploit[ing] Terri Schiavo in order to raise money for their own causes." Further, she even brings in Gary McCullough, who she describes as Terry's "best friend," into it, calling him, Terry, and RightMarch head William Greene, claiming that all of them are using methods "akin to snake oil sales tactics and not only exploit Terri Schiavo but desecrate her name."

Maxam is very much on the Schindlers' side here; she claimed Michael Schiavo "used and abused the Schindlers" and called Terry's primary opponent, James King, "almost singlehandedly responsible for the death of Terri Schiavo for his refusal to support legislation which would have saved her life."

As we noted, WorldNetDaily didn't mention any of this. To the contrary, in an Aug. 12 article, it touted Terry's candidacy by reporting on his use of a Bill Clinton impersonator in phone calls to voters. WND threw in various resume bullet points about Terry, noting that he "is the author of six best-selling books and "has spent time in jail for his peaceful civil disobedience operations while with Operation Rescue in the 1980s and 1990s."

What you won't find in this article, though, is any mention of his connection to the Schiavo case. As we reported, Terry and McCullough played a notable role in bringing the Schiavo case into public consciousness in 2003.

But, as we also reported, WND news editor Diana Lynne's book on the Schiavo case, despite being promoted as "comprehensive," failed to mention Terry and McCullough at all. In our report on Lynne's book, we speculated that Lynne's reason for doing so was to downplay the Schindlers' connection to anti-abortion extremists like Terry and McCullough or the amount of behind-the-scenes orchestration that went on to publicize the Schiavo case. But now, we have to wonder something else: that the Schindlers no longer wanted to be associated with Terry, and Lynne was more than happy to expunge him from her (biased) version of the historical record. That whitewashing seems to have drifted into WND as a whole with its failure to mention Terry's Schiavo work in its Aug. 12 article.

And poor Bob Unruh thinks he's working for a "news" organization that provides an "unfiltered lens."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 AM EDT
Sunday, September 17, 2006
NewsBusters Repeats GOP Talking Points -- Literally
Topic: NewsBusters

Rather than filtering Republican talking points through its particular lens -- as we've detailed the Media Research Center doing in the past -- NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard goes straight to the source in a Sept. 16 post and simply quotes a RNC press release attacking Rosie O'Donnell.

You have to admit: It does save money to just repeat the RNC talking points instead of rewriting them. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:41 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 18, 2006 12:41 AM EDT
Saturday, September 16, 2006
WND Still Misrepresenting Calif. Bills
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Even as Joseph Farah descends into paranoia over the issue of proposed gay-related laws in California, his WorldNetDaily continues to distort and misrepresent those laws.

A Sept. 16 WND article uncritically states that the bills "have been approved by a pro-gay legislature." It described one proposal as a plan that would "arbitrarily withhold state funds from any school district that did not adequately promote the state 'model policy' on transsexuality, bisexuality or homosexuality," adding that another bill "would spend $250,000 to mandate "tolerance education" by promoting those alternative sexual lifestyle choices." As we've noted, this line of reasoning -- in fact, it's taken straight from a conservative group opposing the bills -- makes the logically fallacious assumption that non-criticism of homosexualtiy is the same thing as "promoting" it.

As we've documented, WND has consistently presented this issue only from the point of view of those who oppose it.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:46 AM EDT
Farah Ramps Up the Paranoia
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah's Sept. 16 WorldNetDaily column returns to the scene of his rhetorical crime of blowing up a desire to be "rid" of religious extremists like Farah who have distorted and misled about homosexuality-related bills in California -- as expressed in an Online Journal article by Mel Seesholtz -- into a threat to kill him, despite Seesholtz's explicit statement that that wasn't his intent.

Farah again referred to Seesholtz's "thinly veiled call for my death, along with James Dobson's" and "a nutcase calling for my head" -- despite the fact that he links to a letter to WND by Seesholtz, in which he writes:

Nowhere in my essay – or in my life – have I ever called for anyone to be killed. …


Aside from being taken out of context, when did "rid" become "kill"? To be sure, I would like to "rid" the U.S. Senate of politicians such as Rick Santorum, but certainly wish the man no physical harm.

Farah never acknowledges this explicit claim, so lost is he in his paranoid fantasy. Instead, he continues his personal attack on Seesholtz; in addition to calling him a "nutcase," Farah says he "has turned the vilification of Christians and the promotion of same-sex marriage into something of a cottage industry" and calls him "Ward Churchill of the pro-perversion, anti-Christian crowd." Farah's rant also expands to homosexuality as a whole: "Since homosexuals don't reproduce naturally, they need to recruit – not to be their children, mind you, but to be their prey"

Farah continues to misrepresent the bill that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed that would have prohibited school textbooks from "reflecting adversely" on a large list of various minority groups, including gays. Farah repeats the claims of WND's "news" articles on the issue -- biased articles, as we've documented -- that the bill would "mandated sexual indoctrination of kids from kindergarten on up," claiming, "This is not as [sic] education. This is homosexual reproduction." Farah added:

It's scary that California came as close as it did to imposing by force the values of the Mel Seesholtzes of the world on innocent little schoolchildren who have no need to hear about what homosexuals do in the privacy of their bedrooms, in the bathhouses, in the public restrooms and up on Brokeback Mountain.

Let's be honest; there's only one reason to teach kindergarteners about sexual perversion – and that is to raise a new generation of pliable sexual victims of that perversion.

You can couch this immorality in creative public-relations language. You can put any shade of lipstick on that pig you choose. But, at the end of the day, you know what is in the heart, minds and souls of those pushing their sick agenda down the throats of the innocent little schoolchildren.

Farah concluded that "Schwarzenegger made the right call when he terminated the bill with extreme prejudice." Anyone get the feeling that Farah wants to exercise a certain "extreme prejudice" upon gays, not to mention Seesholtz? Is the reason why Farah has chosen to interpret Seesholtz's article as a death threat because he secretly (or maybe not so secretly) wants to be "rid" of homosexuals in the very same manner?

UPDATE: Seesholtz has posted his own response at Online Journal, which is apparently the unexpurgated version of the the letter WND published. 

Posted by Terry K. at 2:27 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, September 17, 2006 11:36 PM EDT
Friday, September 15, 2006
Topic: NewsBusters

Tim Graham lets his partisan bias show in a Sept. 15 NewsBusters post in which he repeatedly refers to Robert Casey Jr., the Democratic opponent for Sen. Rick Santorum's seat, as "Bobby Casey."

As The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:

The Santorum campaign constantly refers to their challenger as "Bobby Casey Jr." Using the diminutive is meant to remind voters that Mr. Casey's political career is a function of the fact that he is the son of the late governor.

If your job is to "expose and combat" bias, should you really be forwarding biased terminology in your own commentary?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:56 PM EDT
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

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