A Noel Sheppard Misinformation Compendium Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard has been on quite a tear the past week, spreading all sorts of misleading claims.
As we noted, in a Clinton-bashing Sept. 25 post, Sheppard claimed that most Republicans discouraged "Wag the Dog" claims about Clinton's 1998 missile strikes on Somalia -- even though the host of Sheppard's blog entries, the Media Research Center, did nothing to discourage such talk.
In a Sept. 27 post, Sheppard launched another attack on the Clintons, calling Bill Clinton "Billary" throughout and doing things like saying that they are "a couple that has done a better job of conning Americans than any other since Bonnie and Clyde." As we've also noted, despite purporting to "expose" bias, MRC employees have no problem using biased terminology when they think it's advantageous to them.
Sheppard dishes out all sorts of misinformation in a Sept. 29 post. In attacking Hillary Clinton's statement that "I’m certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled `Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside United States,’ he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team," Sheppard wrote:
What makes this statement by Sen. Clinton so astounding are the following sentences from page 128 of the 9/11 Commission report:
On Friday, December 4, 1998, the CIA included an article in the Presidential Daily Brief describing intelligence, received from a friendly government, about a threatened hijacking in the United States. This article was declassified at our request.
The title of this PDB was “Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks.” Somehow this little piece of history slipped the Senator’s mind. Makes one wonder what Sen. Clinton feels “taken it more seriously” means.
Sheppard failed to note what the 9/11 Commission report stated about Clinton's response to that PDB:
The same day, [counterterrorism chief Richard] Clarke convened a meeting of his CSG [Counterterrorism Security Group] to discuss both the hijacking concern and the antiaircraft missile threat. To address the hijacking warning, the group agreed that New York airports should go to maximum security starting that weekend. They agreed to boost security at other East coast airports. The CIA agreed to distribute versions of the report to the FBI and FAA to pass to the New York Police Department and the airlines. The FAA issued a security directive on December 8, with specific requirements for more intensive air carrier screening of passengers and more oversight of the screening process, at all three New York area airports.
Sheppard returned once again to the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11," which he has unsuccessfullyaddressed in the past. he claimed that "the inaccuracies presented regarding events immediately before 9/11 were conceivably much more fallacious than anything surrounding what occurred in the ’90s." This time, though, we actually have an example of purportedly false depictions of the Bush administration: "Path painted a picture of an extraordinary amount of information coming into the FBI and the CIA in the days just prior to 9/11 that made it seem as if a fool could have connected all the dots" when, according to counterterrorism expert Michael Scheuer, " 'chatter' was indeed higher than normal, but that large volumes of information are always coming into such agencies." Sheppard then asks: "This raises an important question: given the factual misrepresentations of events in 2001 by this docudrama, why didn’t the Bush administration lodge complaints to ABC?" (Italics his.)
So, who exactly in the Bush administration was depicted doing these things that were less flattering than in reality? Sheppard doesn't say. Meanwhile, specific Clinton officials were depicted as doing things that didn't happen in reality. As we've noted, that little scene Sheppard cited is outweighed by Bush administration officials acting more heroically than the historical record shows.
Finally, in a Sept. 30 post, Sheppard claimed that a dustup between conservative William Kristol and Fox News host Shepard Smith "perfectly demonstrated just how wrong folks like Paul Begala and James Carville are when they suggest that Fox News is just a propaganda arm of the Republican Party." So does this mean that the MRC will stop calling CNN liberal because of the presence of Lou Dobbs? Didn't think so.
So Mark Finkelstein thinks Keith Olbermann telling fat jokes about Roger Ailes is "mean-spirited" and "middle-school-worthy." He might want to impart that lesson on the folks who hang out at NewsBusters.
In this thread, commenters call Rosie O'Donnell "The Pig" and "Rosie O'Fatso." This one reprises "The Pig," another poster writes, "I wonder where Rosie stands in the trans-fat issue… hell; maybe Rosie is that, trans-fat", and yet another poster states, "Oh my god, I have the image of a fat, naked, furry Rosie plopping her fat ass into a bathtub!! MAKE IT STOP!!!!!!" A poster in this one asks her, "Is there so much saturated fat running through your brain, that you can't possibly remember?" and another calls her "El Fatso," and a third states, "How does Rosie stay out of the water that long? Won’t her blow-hole dry out?" And a poster in this thread calls her a "giant, bloating, beached whale" while another notes: "Chuck Norris fact: Chuck Norris made Fat Bastard go on a diet, only to discover (after the first 50 lbs. or so) that he was really Rosie O'Donnell in a kilt."
If the NewsBusters denziens can't stop making fat jokes, why should anyone there demand that Keith Olbermann stop?
A Sept. 28 WorldNetDaily article touts its newest advertiser, Zion Oil & Gas -- yet somehow neglects to mention this fact, even as the ad flashes by next to the article. WND regularly violates this core tenet of journalistic ethics.
As we've noted, WND has previously touted Zion Oil, which is drilling for oil and gas in Israel using the Bible as a guide. WND also continues, as it did then, to neglect to note the company's connections to the cousin of WND columnist Hal Lindsey.
It looks like CNSNews.com's targeted candidate for attack is Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha. It started with a partisan attack on Murtha's war record that quoted disgruntled political opponents, the incapacitated and the dead, followed by playing up the Swift Boat-esque claims of his opponents for re-election -- which just happen to nicely coincide with CNS' earlier attack.
A pair of CNS articles continue the trend. A Sept. 29 article by Randy Hall -- co-author of the earlier attack pieces -- strangely goes after a Murtha supporter who has criticized the attack on Murtha's record, particularly his Purple Hearts, by saying that "it matters not whether it's a broken toenail or a slug to the brain" that earns a soldier a Purple Heart. Hall actually serves up a little honesty here, admitting that the attack on Murtha in his previous article was done by "several political opponents," though we suspect Hall refuses to count himself among them, even though he essentially is.
This was joined by a Sept. 29 commentary by CNS editor in chief David Thibault, who is much more explicit about his partisan agenda than Hall, calling him "Mad-Dog Murtha." It's clear from his commentary that Thibault is using CNS to bach Murtha for the simple act of daring to criticize President Bush and the Iraq war, calling him "crass" and "selfish" for doing so and insisting that "politics is behind every word Murtha utters."
Thibault writes: "If Murtha and his ilk lose another national election on Nov. 7, will they finally get a clue and stop politicizing the war in Iraq?" The question makes the assumption that Republicans are not similarly politicizing the war -- neither side of which Thibault offers any evidence to support. In fact, one can say that by attacking Murtha for speaking out, Thibault himself is politicizing the war.
Thibault and CNS have another month to shovel out this sort of bias, so fasten your seat belts.
Florida Rep. Mark Foley has resigned his seat amid allegations of inappropriate e-mails he wrote to a teenage male page.
Foley, a Republican, is a politician whom NewsMax has championed. As we documented, NewsMax editor and CEO Christopher Ruddy donated $1,000 to Foley's campaign in 2003 -- then, two days later, NewsMax published an article laudatory of Foley and his chances in a campaign to seek a U.S. Senate seat.
Initial coverage of Foley's resignation by NewsMax has thus far stuck to wire articles -- the first one of which, as near as we can tell, is the first time NewsMax has mentioned the page e-mail controversy.
Greg Sheffield takes a swipe at my employer in a Sept. 29 NewsBusters post:
Liberal billionaire George Soros is quitting politics, probably putting down that toy to play with some others, like most billionaires with short attention spans. As financier for much of the Left wing's activities, it'll be interesting to see how various liberal groups will deal without a Soros to suckle on, including our friends at Media Matters.
In fact, Media Matters has not received funding directly from a Soros-controlled organization, though it has received funding from a group that has.
But what would Sheffield and the MRC do should the dark day come that it no longer has a, say, Richard Mellon Scaife to suckle on? Do tell, Greg.
Smear-mongering blogger Dan Riehl blunders in on the George Allen n-word controversy with a Sept. 29 NewsBusters post that's a classic misdirection tactic: accusing Allen's opponent, James Webb, of doing the exact same thing. The post is a compliation of claims made by other right-wing bloggers, among them quotes from Webb's works of fiction -- which of course prove nothing about Webb the man, even though Riehl tried to portray it as "basically admitting the N word has flowed from his lips."
Riehl also does what his NewsBusters and MRC colleagues havebashed the "liberal media" for doing in regard to the accusations against Allen: exluded Webb's denial that he has ever "used it as a racial epithet aimed at anyone" or contradictory claims by Webb acquaintances.
WND on O'Reilly: Alarmist, Misleading Claims Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily seems curiously unenthusiastic about promoting after the fact the appearance by news editor Joe Kovacs on the Sept. 27 edition of Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" to discuss the (female) teacher-student sexpidemic! -- there's no summary, transcript of video clip. (Maybe they're still a little touchy about the falling-out between O'Reilly and WND, where O'Reilly's syndicated column got its start.) We don't have the bandwidth to host video, but we have the transcript (corrected against the video), and it shows the thinness of the accusations WND has hurled.
Kovacs began by making alarmist claims:
KOVACS: Bill, we found out this problem is everywhere. It is rampant. It is in big school districts in big cities. It is in little towns all across America. There are teachers who are just preying on their students and having sex with them. They're having sex with them on school campuses. They're having sex with them in their homes. They're having sex with them in the parking lot of Busch Gardens. It's going on everywhere. It's just unbelievable.
When O'Reilly asked Kovacs to "put it in perspective"-- something WND has never done -- Kovacs hedges, offering no data to back up his claims but instead insisting that in the "hundreds of newspapers" they monitor they "saw case after case of women having sex with their students." In other words, it's still solely anecdotal.
Finally, though, we get an inkling of what's behind WND's obsession with female teachers. Kovacs cited research by Kansas State University's Bob Shoop showing that adult females convicted of having sex with male students receive significantly less severe jail sentences (or merely probation) than adult males convicted of having sex with female students.
But Shoop also notes that there is a "proliferation of reporting" about such incidents, which doesn't necessarily correlate into an actual increase in incidents; "There were almost no reports of those events during the time that children actually were abused." The Shoop press release also notes that "no national studies exist to discuss how prevalent a problem it truly is." In other words, WND has no factual basis upon which to declare that female teacher-student sex is "rampant" because they have no baseline (and, as we've pointed out, they are also mixing incidents from 15 years ago with current ones).
Further, a Nov. 29, 2005, USA Today article cited Shoops as a source in claiming that "In the past 18 months, at least 25 cases nationwide involved female teachers molesting students." That's the first solid number we've seen -- WND has never offered one -- which doesn't exactly sound like an epidemic.
Both O'Reilly and Kovacs then appear to decide that the reason these women are getting less jail tme than their male counterparts was that the "glamour-model type" of teacher are somehow flummoxing the judges into doing so. And then O'Reilly gets even more bizarre:
O'REILLY: So look, we have here, I believe, is a decline of standards in the teaching profession. That's what I think is behind this. I think they're getting people in -- because they don't pay teachers a lot in a lot of areas around the country. They're getting people in who are unstable. You have to be unstable to be an attractive woman. OK, you have to be. You'd have to be an emotional mess, to be an attractive woman and then try to stalk a 13-year-old. I mean, there's just no rationalization. So I think it is a drop in standards. Do you have any other reason to explain it?
Yep -- O'Reilly lived up to our billing as the perfect venue for Kovacs' misleading, alarmist claims.
UPDATE: Reworded final graf to make a little more sense.
Farah Wrong on Somalia Withdrawal Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his Sept. 28 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah claimed that Bill Clinton was "seething with nearly uncontrollable inner rage" during his interview with Chris Wallace, adding that "he was, as usual, dead wrong in nearly everything he said." As an example, Farah cited the following:
He also said those who criticized his cut-and-run policies in Somalia wanted him to pack up immediately.
As I cannot think of a single person who fits the category, I suggest Clinton owes us some names.
Glenn Greenwald has several names of Republicans who wanted an immediate withdrawal from Somalia. Anyone think Farah will acknowledge this?
ABC hired reporter Jake Tapper from the partisan left-wing website Salon.com in 2001. On Wednesday night's World News, Tapper patted his old employers on the back by publicizing their unsubstantiated charges "by at least five" accusers that conservative Sen. George Allen used the word "nigger" in his college days at the University of Virginia.
Um, Tim? Isn't "at least five" sources making the same claim sorta the opposite of "unsubstantiated"?
In a Sept. 26 NewsBusters post defending George Allen against a New York Times article detailing the N-word allegations against him by calling them "shaky," Tim Graham notes: "The Times never did more than two paragraphs on the Allen campaign's distribution of an article in which [Allen's Democratic opponent, James] Webb opposed women in combat." But if that's such a horrible thing, why does his employer, the Media Reserarch Center, promote a leading critic of women in combat?
A search of the CNSNews.com search engine for the name Elaine Donnelly returns 77 hits. Donnelly is the president of the Center for Military Readiness, whose signature issue is opposition to women in combat. While Donnelly is mostly quoted offering praise to the military and opposing gays in the military, CNS has devoted articles to the anti-women-in-the-military cause:
A Feb. 27 article featured Donnelly criticizing the Pentagon for "a report on the role of women in the military" and accusing the Army of "assigning women to positions involving combat support and therefore the front lines."
A November 2002 article featured Donnelly attacking an appointee to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services for having ties to a group described as advocating "greater access for women to ground-combat units." According to Donnelly, the group is "led by some of the most doctrinaire advocates of Clinton-era social engineering in the military." Another article a few days later repeats Donnelly's claim.
A May 2004 article quoted Connelly calling photos of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison "exactly what feminists have dreamed of for years ... That demeaning photo of a female soldier with an Iraqi man on a leash - a woman had to have taken that picture." The article, by David Thibault (then CNS managing editor, now editor), goes on to document a bizarre anti-feminist rant by Donnelly:
The feminists to whom Donnelly refers are "the ones who like to buy man-hating greeting cards and have this kind of attitude that all men abused all women. It's a subculture of the feminist movement, but the driving force in it in many cases, certainly in academia," she said.
Although certain feminists would not admit it publicly, "they're probably quite fond" of the photo showing the Iraqi prisoner being held on a leash, said Donnelly. That's "because it is demeaning to a man -- any man."
The MRC has had no apparent problem opposing women in combat before, and it's shown itself to be quite willing to use an extremist to make that case -- which, as Donnelly's rant shows, makes Webb's statements about women in combat 25 years ago (the ones Graham was hoping Webb would get in trouble for saying) seem tame by comparison.
NewsMax Gives Allen The Usual Defense Topic: Newsmax
When in doubt, blame the liberal media.
A Sept. 27 unbylined NewsMax "analysis" examines the case of George Allen. Unsurprisingly, it peddles the usual NewsMax bias, portraying Allen as the victim of a "liberal media" conspiracy:
The liberal media has a lot to worry about Allen. He's a solid Reagan conservative who could be president in 2008.
And by attacking him so stridently now, the major media hopes to possibly knock Allen out of the Senate altogether – making Democratic chances of re-gaining control of the Senate a strong possibility.
NewsMax claims the controversy over Allen is "what he did or did not say 30 years ago as a college student." That's a double standard, of course; NewsMax spent a lot of time being livid over what Hillary Clinton "did or did not say 30 years ago" using witnesses more partisan and less reliable than those accusing Allen of using the N-word, as we've documented.
NewsMax then goes on to quickly dispense of the infamous "macaca" incident by succinctly stating, "He quickly apologized for the gaffe." Well, not exactly; in fact, Allen has offered a series of occasionallycontradictoryexplanations for his use of the word.
The article makes sure to point out that one of the persons accusing Allen of saying the N-word is a Democrat and the other "was a registered Democrat from 1988 until 2004." But as we reported when NewsMax played up allegations that Hillary Clinton called someone a "(expletive) Jew bastard" in 1974, NewsMax never saw fit to point out to its readers that two of the people making the accusation were Clinton's political enemies and the target of the alleged slur was a disbarred lawyer who had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that led to seizures, addiction to prescription pain killers, erratic behavior and memory loss who had written a letter to Clinton begging her forgiveness for saying things about her "without factual foundation."
Under the subhead "Changing, Baseless Allegations," NewsMax noted that political analyst Larry Sabato as restating his claim that he heard Allen say the N-word to merely concluding it "based on the very credible testimony I have heard for weeks, mainly from people I personally know and knew in the '70s." Changing, perhaps, but not exactly baseless.
And to counter a claim that Allen stuffed a severed deer's head into a mailbox at a black-owned house, NewsMax claimed that "two sheriff's deputies in Louisa County who were on the force in the early 1970s said they could not recall any complaints about severed animal heads." But the article does not quote anyone as having reported that incident to authorities at the time, so what the deputies say is irrelevant. So, again, the allegation is still not baseless.
Why is NewsMax investing such effort in defending Allen? Because it promoted him as a top 2008 presidential prospect, as it recounts:
As NewsMax Magazine disclosed in a cover story in the February issue "Star Player for 2008," a survey of 175 Washington insiders, conducted by the National Journal's "The Hotline" and released last year, named Allen as the outright front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2008.
GOP insiders consider Allen the only likely Republican candidate who can win both the nomination and the general election, NewsMax reported.
Then again, as we've also noted, NewsMax defended Bernard Kerik until his corruption proved too much for even NewsMax to ignore.
UPDATE: Remember, too, that NewsMax also defended the heck out of Jeanine Pirro. That's all done now, too; NewsMax ran a Sept. 27 AP article detailing Pirro's attempts to work with -- that's right -- Bernard Kerik to figure out a way to wiretap her philandering husband.
Meanwhile, NewsMax has added a Sept. 28 column by Kathleen Antrim making the same point as the NewsMax analysis: The liberal media is out to get Allen, "the only true Reagan-conservative in a position to win the presidency in 2008."
Perhaps She Should've Brought This Up With Her Therapist Topic: NewsBusters
A Sept. 25 NewsBusters post by Stacy L. Harp (whose day job involves being a publicist for Christian causes) starts off criticizing coverage of a Family Research Council-sponsored gathering of right-wingers in Washington, but for some reason, she turns it into an attack on her own family.
Harp stated that religious-right luminaries like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson " have put their faith into action and many have paid the price by being beaten and battered by the liberal media who have no clue what love for others is like because they are so beholden to their worldview of self-centeredness." She then latched onto that theme, claiming that if the so-called liberal media "could’ve gotten outside of their self-centeredness, then they would be able to see that this whole movement about values and how Christians and conservatives vote is about others and not the self centered “me-generation” that so many of them are a part of." Then it got personal:
I speak as a child of parents who were into themselves, and I know personally the destruction of family through divorce, abuse and immorality that this mentality is based on. The focus of values voters is to bring healing, restoration and hope to those who have been the victims of the others egocentric world.
Ladies and gentlemen in the media, here’s a newsflash for you, get a pen and write this down – “Everything isn’t about YOU”. There are children to be fought for. There are hearts to heal because parents divorce and disregard the impact on their families. There are traditional standards and definitions of marriage that need to be in place, like one man and one woman being the definition of marriage, lest the next generation die out.
Do Harp's parents know she's bad-mouthing them in public? And what do her personal issues have to do with "media research," anyway?