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Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Quote of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

"Whenever I see Gore on TV pontificating about his favorite topic, I find myself wondering whatever happened to the grand old tradition of killing, or at least maiming, the messenger."

-- Burt Prelutsky, Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily column  

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 AM EDT
Sheppard on Smearing Clinton: Strike Two
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard takes another whack at bashing the Clintons over Osama bin Laden -- with similarly misleading results.

As we previously noted, in a Sept. 29 post, Sheppard brought up the issue of a December 1998 Presidential Daily Brief warning of potential attacks by bin Laden as an example of Clinton administration inaction, but he failed to note that the 9/11 Commission report stated that the Clinton administration did do numerous things in response to the PDB -- namely, increasing security at major airports.

In an Oct. 2 NewsBusters post, Sheppard gives his attempt at a smear another go. He again suggests that the Clinton administration did nothing in reaction to the PDB, again not reporting what the 9/11 Commission stated. Sheppard then rehashes an alleged opportunity to take out bin Laden in late 1998, but he is so busy trying to furiously attack that he fails to examine the evidence. He notes that the 9/11 Commision report stated that one general had predicted the number of "innocent bystanders who would be killed or wounded" would be "well over 200 and was concerned about damage to a nearby mosque" and that then-counterrorism expert said, "I’m sure we’ll regret not acting last night," then huffed that "the Clinton administration was more concerned with the politics of the Middle East than in preventing the loss of American lives."

At least Sheppard quoted the 9/11 Commission report this time; unfortunately, it's selective quoting. Here's what the report stated about the strike that Sheppard didn't include in his post:

By the end of the meeting, the principals decided against recommending to the President that he order a strike. A few weeks later, in January 1999, [counterterrorism chief Richard] Clarke wrote that the principals had thought the intelligence only half reliable and had worried about killing or injuring perhaps 300 people. Tenet said he remembered doubts about the reliability of the source and concern about hitting the nearby mosque. "Mike" [Scheuer] remembered Tenet telling him that the military was concerned that a few hours had passed since the last sighting of Bin Ladin and that this persuaded everyone that the chance of failure was too great. 

So, even Scheuer -- Sheppard's unimpeachable source -- agreed that the intelligence information had gone bad quickly and was not the ironclad claim Sheppard suggested it was. But if Sheppard had quoted the full 9/11 Commission account, he wouldn't have had a post.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:36 AM EDT
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
NewsMax Gets Marching Orders from Limbaugh
Topic: Newsmax

Rush Limbaugh has decreed that Dennis Hastert must not be forced out as House speaker, so that's what NewsMax thinks too.

An Oct. 3 editorial rushes (so to speak) to Hastert's defense, declaring that "we feel that in the [Mark] Foley matter he has done nothing that can be construed as malfeasance":

It is clear that Hastert and the Republican leadership did not ignore this matter, as minor as it seemed to the media outlets. They instructed Foley to cease communicating with the teenage page.


It is clear, then, that Hastert has acted appropriately, and that the only culprit is Foley himself, who deceived the Republican leadership – and the nation – by adopting a strong public stance against pornography and child exploitation.

NewsMax has also adopted Limbaugh's strategy of blaming Democrats for allegedly exposing Foley's misdeeds:

We also feel there could likely be an untold story behind the sudden revelation of the instant messages so close to Election Day – a story involving Democratic attempts to torpedo the campaign of a Republican almost assured of victory in November. Already Democratic candidates are using the Foley case to buttress their campaigns for Senate and House seats all across the country. How convenient.

Of course, there is no explanation of how this is any different than conservatives' attacks on Bill Clinton during his presidency. Nor does it explain the significance of Foley's misdeeds being revealed by political opponents, if true -- is it somehow less offensive if exposed that way?

NewsMax's editorial is mostly a regurgitation of comments made by Limbaugh. Earlier in the day, it reported on Limbaugh's claim that "the Foley scandal was part of a larger effort by the "Clinton War Room" to hurt the GOP's chances just weeks before election day." A second Limbaugh-inspired article followed, in which he (after hosting Hastert on his show) was quoted exhorting Republicans to "fight back and, led by Hastert, point out how the Democrats continue to avoid the real issues of importance ... and are trying to distract the American people from what essentially is a non-existent agenda on the part of the Democrats to deal with things that really, really matter."

Again, NewsMax fails to ask the obvious -- even if Foley's misdeeds were revealed by political opponents, what bearing does that have on Foley's guilt or innocence or his fitness to hold a congressional seat?

UPDATE: NewsMax later added yet another Limbaugh transcription accusing the "Clinton war room" of being behind Foley's exposure.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:34 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 4, 2006 12:46 AM EDT
Bozell Plays the Clinton Equivocation Card
Topic: Media Research Center

In his Oct. 3 column, Brent Bozell resorts to that old conservative standby, the Clinton Equivocation, in the Mark Foley scandal to accuse Democrats of a double standard:

Since when have the Democrats ever insisted a politician be held accountable for a sex scandal involving a staffer, let alone the politician’s party leaders? Take Senator Durbin. Did he vote on any impeachment counts against President Clinton for perjury or obstruction of justice over Clinton’s sexual relations with intern Monica Lewinsky?

Did Democrats – the party of feminism, the party that hates sexual harassers – demand accountability when President Clinton was accused of putting Kathleen Willey’s hand on his crotch as she asked for a job? Or demand accountability when President Clinton was accused of dropping his pants in front of Paula Jones and asking that state employee to kiss his genitalia?

You know the answers. Let’s continue.

Did Democrats – who must have chortled at the 1996 GOP convention when NBC anchor Tom Brokaw suggested the Republicans don’t think much about “women’s issues” like rape – demand answers from President Clinton when Juanita Broaddrick tearfully recounted to NBC in 1999 how Bill Clinton raped and brutalized her in a Little Rock hotel in the late 1970s?

Nice equivocation there, Brent. Also nice of him to downplay the Foley case as a "sex talk scandal" (though he does say of Foley, "I hope he's prosecuted"). But has Bozell ever spilled much ink decrying ethical lapses by Republicans compared to his repeated blanket denunciations of Democrats? We doubt it.

Which makes him just as guilty of "making national political hay" out of the Foley scandal as he accuses Democrats of doing.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:25 PM EDT
Fat Jokes: A Double Standard, Part 2
Topic: NewsBusters

This time, NewsBusters' Brad Wilmouth weighs in, so to speak, on the pressing issue of Keith Olbermann telling fat jokes about Roger Ailes. Again, no mention of the fact that NewsBusters doesn't exactly discourage its posters from making fat jokes about Rosie O'Donnell.

And if Olbermann's cracks about Ailes reach "new levels in displaying personal insults," as Wilmouth claims, where does that leave the MRC's proud tradition of telling sex jokes about Bill Clinton?

Posted by Terry K. at 11:44 AM EDT
WND Columnist's Anti-Gay Tirade
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an Oct. 3 WorldNetDaily column, Linda Harvey ("founder of Mission America, which monitors and reports on the promotion of homosexuality to youth") calls former Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate contacts with underage congressional pages "typical behavior for homosexuals." Then she launches into an gay-bashing tirade:

Open or suspected homosexuals should never be elected. The problem with homosexuals is that they frequently don't have common sense and don't acknowledge appropriate boundaries. Weird sex, public displays of "affection" and nudity, and sex with youth are built into the "gay" sub-culture. Witness any pride parade, stroll around any predominantly "gay" neighborhood, or visit "GLBT" websites and you quickly see the problem.


We are insane to allow suspected or open homosexuals to assume positions as public officials, pastors, teachers, camp counselors or coaches.  

Harvey opposes not just gays but also "suspected" gays, whatever that means. Perhaps Harvey could share with us the signs of "suspected" gay behavior we should all be so fearful of.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EDT
NewsMax, GOP Talking Point Repository
Topic: Newsmax

NewsMax is doing yeoman's work in purveying Republican spin points.

Bob Woodward's book: Ronald Kessler relayed former White House chief of staff Andrew Card's denial of claims attributed to him in Woodward's new book "State of Denial." James Hirsen, meanwhile, attacked Woodward himself, calling him the "Kitty Kelley of the Beltway."

Mark Foley: After apparently being temporarily stunned by the allegations against the NewsMax (and Christopher Ruddy) favorite, NewsMax has apparently gotten over the shock (which caused it to throw Foley under the bus earlier in the day) and defend Republican honor.

An Oct. 2 article raises the shocking possibility that politics may have played a part in the disclosure of Foley's solicitations of teen male congressional pages. And another article plays a variation of the Clinton Equivocation; here, NewsMax claims that "unlike Republican scandals like Foley's, where shame and resignation were the outcome, the Democrats' shameful behavior were either blithely ignored or jocularly accepted."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 AM EDT
Lack of Disclosure Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 2 WorldNetDaily article promoted the views of Citizens United's David Bossie's views on the Mark Foley scandal, but failed to note that WND published a book by Bossie.

WND has a problem with disclosing its business interests in those it covers. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 AM EDT
Monday, October 2, 2006
It's A Conspiracy!
Topic: NewsBusters

Mark Finkelstein goes conspiracy-mongering in an Oct. 2 NewsBusters post:

Day One: Suspicious-but-not-explict emails.
Day Two: Explicit instant messages, but no evidence Foley met with boys.
Day Four: Instant message indicating Foley was indeed seeking to meet and possibly had already met with a boy.

Foley deserves what he's gotten and what is likely to come. But it seems increasingly plausible that the timed release of information - of ever-escalating seriousness - is part of a calculated campaign to keep the story in the news and inflict maximum political damage on the GOP.

Really, now, Mark -- is all bad news about Republicans the result of a conspiracy? 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:28 PM EDT
NewsMax Throws Foley Under the Bus
Topic: Newsmax

It was just a few short years ago that NewsMax was touting Rep. Mark Foley -- who represented the Florida congressional district where NewsMax's headquarters are located -- as a candidate for a Senate seat, calling him "a solid Republican with strong conservative credentials" and "an American success story in his own right" and concluding, "Perhaps one day Florida's governor will be telling Senate contenders, 'You can be the next Mark Foley.' " (Of course, that was two days after NewsMax editor and CEO Christopher Ruddy donated $1,000 to Foley's campaign.)

Well, forget all that. After Foley's resignation following the revelation of, er, inappropriate communications with underage male congressional pages, NewsMax is ready to disassociate itself from Foley. An Oct. 2 article touts the reportedly likely successor to Foley's candidacy, Joe Negron:

Negron, a Cuban-American, is a no nonsense conservative Republican. Unlike Foley who took a pro-choice position on abortion, Negron is a social conservative as well.

Wait -- wasn't Foley "a solid Republican with strong conservative credentials"?

Another Oct. 2 NewsMax article appears at first to be defending Foley, but in fact, it's defending Republican leaders by parsing why Foley resigned:

An important point as the Mark Foley scandal widens: Ex-Rep. Foley did not resign over e-mails he sent to a House page that Republican leaders knew about months ago, as has been widely reported.

Rather, he decided to step aside in the wake of much more recent revelations about salacious instant messages he sent to one or more House pages.

Democrats have tried to make political hay of the scandal by charging that in not acting after learning of the e-mails in 2005, Republicans may have been guilty of a cover-up.

In fact, the e-mails that have surfaced so far, while inappropriate, were relatively benign compared to the much more sexually explicit instant messages that came to light just last week.

NewsMax similarly headlined an Associated Press article, "Rep. Hastert: Foley 'Deceived Me,Too.' "

Which sounds exactly like today's Republican talking points, as previously expressed by

Posted by Terry K. at 6:24 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 2, 2006 7:41 PM EDT
Sheppard: Fox News Isn't Conservative, Really!
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 2 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard continues his recent push of the strange meme that Fox News isn't conservative. He complained that a New York Times "consistently suggested that FNC was a biased, propaganda arm of the Republican Party without recognizing that the overwhelming majority of Americans see the Times as a biased, propaganda arm of the Democrat [sic] Party."

If, by "the overwhelming majority of Americans," he means "my colleagues and employers at the Media Research Center," Sheppard would a little closer to the mark. Nor does Sheppard acknowledge the evidence that Fox News regularly forwards conservative misinformation and shows a conservative bias.

Sheppard also note what he calls "the Democratic National Committee talking points the Times normally reprints for its readers, or how much of this very article came from such a memo," but he offers no evidence that this is, in fact, occurring.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:05 PM EDT
CNS Pushes Republican Spin Points on Foley

An Oct. 2 article by Susan Jones uncritically forwards the spin from Republican Speaker of the House Denny Hastert that he knew of only one set of communications between Rep. Mark Foley and a teenage congressional page that were "not sexually explicit in nature" and not about another set that was. In fact, the first part of Jones' article is essentially a rewrite of a Hastert press release. Jones also frames any questioning of Hastert's claims as a political argument, stating that "Democrats are questioning the way Republicans handled -- or did not handle -- Foley's improper communications with a House page."

In fact, there are questions about how responsive Hastert was to investigating claims about Foley. A writer to Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo blog sums up with Jones doesn't:

There's a weak excuse emerging from Republicans for Foleygate - they might have known about the e-mails to Rep. Alexander's page, but they never knew about the explicit IMs. Too much of the media coverage right now is centering on that question, as if knowledge of the IMs is the only way to show the leadership was remiss.

But that's irrelevant, and here's why: Once ABC got hold of the e-mails, it took them one day to flush out the IMs. That's what an actual investigation looks like. The Republican leadership simply didn't want to know how bad the Foley situation was. That's just as morally negligent as if they had started digging and found the IMs.

While Jones, toward the end of her article, notes that "The Democratic National Committee noted that Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York -- the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, a group that works to elect Republicans to Congress -- knew 'months ago' that a teenage page had complained about Foley's '"inappropriate communications,' " she frames it as a political argument advanced by Democrats and fails to note that Reynolds allegedly warned Hastert about the Foley e-mails months ago.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:46 PM EDT
AIM: Purge Gays from GOP
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid concludes an Oct. 2 column bashing Republicans for allegedly protecting Rep. Mark Foley this way:

This is the time for conservative media outlets, including the blogs, to insist that the Republican Party and the conservative movement stop protecting homosexuals in its ranks. The pro-homosexual groups in the Republican Party which shielded Foley from legitimate questions about his closeted life should be exposed and discredited.

This reads to us that Kincaid is not only after those who protected Foley, he wants all gays kicked out of the Republican Party. As we've noted, Kincaid has issues with gays.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 PM EDT
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 unsuccessfully addressed 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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 4, 2006 12:05 AM EDT
Sunday, October 1, 2006
Fat Jokes: A Double Standard
Topic: NewsBusters

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? 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:44 PM EDT

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