Drudge's 'Prank' Claim Countered; Will ConWeb Notice? Topic: WorldNetDaily
Both NewsBusters and WorldNetDaily were quick to report Matt Drudge's claim yesterday that, in WND's words, "the lurid AOL instant messages that led to Republican Rep. Mark Foley's resignation were part of an online prank that mistakenly got into the hands of enemy political operatives."
But this morning, TPM Muckraker reported that the attorney for the congressional page that Drudge accused of pulling the "prank" on Foley called Drudge's story "a piece of fiction," adding, "There is not any aspect of this matter that is a practical joke nor should anyone treat it that way."
Will NewsBusters and WND tell their readers about this development? They haven't yet, and the day's already half over.
Kessler Serves as Hastert Stenographer Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax's Ronald Kessler does his Republican duty and turns in an Oct. 6 interview with House Speaker Dennis Hastert about the Mark Foley scandal that allows nobody to counter Hastert's claims. This is a problem when Kessler quotes Hastert saying clearly false things:
Hastert said he talked with former FBI Director Louis Freeh about heading the investigation into the page scandal, but Freeh said he would have to have the agreement of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
"I ran that by her, and she just wasn't going to do anything," Hastert said.
In fact -- as NewsMax itself reported in a Oct. 6 article -- "Pelosi may have balked at Freeh having an investigative role in the scandal because many Democrats view him as a Republican ally.' Freeh has given thousands of dollars in political contributions to Republicans and attacked the Clinton administration in his 2005 book on his FBI service (which NewsMax promoted). Kessler is silent on Freeh's GOP ties.
AIM Misleadingly Defends Hatfill Topic: Accuracy in Media
An Oct. 6 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid defends Steven Hatfill, once considered a "person of interest" in the post-9/11 anthrax attacks, claiming he was considered a suspect merely because he was "conservative." But he once again fails to document the entire reason that Hatfill may have been considered a suspect in the first place.
Kincaid calls Hatfill "a bioweapons researcher at Ft. Detrick with conservative views" and also claims that "the ACLU, supposedly a friend of those victimized by an American police state, never came to Hatfill's defense. He wasn't their kind of defendant because he was considered too conservative."
But Hatfill isn't just "conservative." As we documented, Hatfill in the 1990s was associated with white supremacist militias in South Africa -- a tie AIM has previously whitewashed as being merely "anti-communist" and "politically incorrect."
Such associations presumably did have a bearing on why Hatfill was considered a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks. Kincaid should honestly discuss and admit it.
New Article: A Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb uses conspiracy-mongering, gay-bashing and other methods to try to divert attention away from the Mark Foley page scandal. Read more.
An Oct. 5 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham falsely claimed that Rep. Barney Frank showed "scandalous tolerance" of a prostitution ring run out of Frank's apartment by a personal aide in the 1980s (dredging up old stories being yet another sign that conservatives are desperately trying to deflect attention away from the Foley scandal). Graham offers no evidence that Frank knew about the ring during the year and a half that it was going on -- after all, to "tolerate" something first requires knowledge of it.
A quick Google search turned up no independent evidence that Frank knew about, and thus "tolerated," the prostitution ring. The aide, Stephen Gobie, claimed Frank knew, but Frank has denied it.
UPDATE: A House ethics committee investigation determined that Frank "did not have either prior or concomitant knowledge of prostitution activities involving third parties alleged to have taken place in his apartment."
As part of CNSNews.com's efforts to deflect attention from the Mark Foley scandal and to get some positive news out there that will make Republicans feel better, an Oct. 5 CNS article by Susan Jones essentially rewrites Republican talking points about Joe Biden.
The funny part is, Jones admits that this is exactly what she's doing:
With Republicans bogged down by the Mark Foley sex scandal -- and Washington buzzing about a Democratic takeover of Congress -- the RNC is asking Americans to take a good look at Sen. Joe Biden, the Delaware Democrat who could end up chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Biden, currently the committee's ranking Democrat, is "often wrong but never in doubt," the RNC said in a "research" brief (also known as "talking points).
And no, Jones didn't contact Biden for reaction. That would have made it an actual news article, which was not the point of this little exercise.
If some right-wing blogger on the Internet chooses to exhaustively research that alias, digging up photos and personal information, then trumpeting the findings in a press release — culminating in a post linked and publicized by a major flotilla of high-visibility right-wing chatterers, including Bozell’s foundation-funded Newsbusters — it is no one else’s responsibility.
Newsbusters doesn’t hire the best. They mimic the standard form of GOP misinformation well enough, but often ruin their efforts with obvious fudges and childlike fibbing.
We've previously noted NewsBusters' attempt to sully the credibilty of ABC's reporting on the Foley case.
WND Misleads on CREW and Soros Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 5 WorldNetDaily article on the Mark Foley scandal pushes the vast left-wing conspiracy meme by describing Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a Washington group that had been pushing for an investigation of Foley long before the scandal broke last week, as "a George Soros-sponsored organization," "Soros-backed" and "Soros-funded." But WND fails to offer all of the facts regarding CREW and Soros.
According to a May 24 Cleveland Plain Dealer article, CREW did not receive any money from a Soros-funded group until January of this year, after CREW had been previously been falsely accused by scandal-ridden Rep. Bob Ney of being a Soros lackey:
"For the longest time, we got no money from George Soros," says Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "We now get money from The Open Society Institute, and it is probably thanks to Bob Ney."
After Ney and his spokesman, Brian Walsh, repeatedly insisted her group was funded by Soros, Sloan brought their claims to Soros' foundation.
"We kept saying, They say you are already funding us. Shouldn't you?' " recalls Sloan, who said the group got its first grant in January.
"We don't get money from Mr. Soros directly. We get it from the Open Society Institute," Sloan says. "I still haven't personally talked to George Soros."
It's worth noting that WND editor Joseph Farah used a similar defense to deflect claims of being a lackey of Richard Mellon Scaife after the Clinton-bashing organization he founded, the Western Journalism Center, accepted $330,000 from Scaife organiazations in the mid-1990s (CREW, by contrast, has received only $100,000 from Soros). from a May 6, 1998, Farah column:
I shouldn't have to say this, but, in an effort to derail the inevitable attacks of the Clinton propaganda machine, I will swear that my organization has received no funding from Scaife or his foundations since early 1995, when they embarked on their so-called "Arkansas Project." Not that it should make any difference, mind you. I'd be happy to accept Scaife's money. There's nothing tainted about it.
Perhaps Farah can explain why Scaife's money isn't "tainted" but Soros' money apparently is.
Elder Recycles Dubious Clinton Racism Claims Topic: WorldNetDaily
Larry Elder's Oct. 5 syndicated column (reprinted at WorldNetDaily) rehashes a pair of questionable racism claims about the Clintons, presenting them as factual and unchallenged. In fact, the accusations -- popular among Clinton-haters in the 1990s -- are factually dubious given the political motivations, credibility problems and conflicting claims made by the accusers.
According to Clinton's bodyguard, Arkansas State Trooper Larry Patterson, Clinton frequently used the "N" word, using it to describe Reverend Jesse Jackson, as well as a local black civil rights leader. Said Patterson, "When [Bill Clinton] had black political leaders in the state and he disagreed with them, he would frequently use the 'N' word."
What about former First Lady and current Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton [D-NY]? She allegedly called Clinton's congressional campaign adviser, who failed to secure her then-boyfriend's 1974 election to Congress, a "f***ing Jew bastard." Not only did Paul Fray -- the target -- go public, so did his wife, as well as campaign aide and businessman Neil McDonald.
Elder fails to note that, regarding the Bill Clinton accusation, Larry Patterson was a political enemy of Clinton who cashed in on his Clinton-hate among right-wingers. As we've noted, NewsMax sold tapes of Patterson making lurid claims against the Clintons.
In their book "The Hunting of the President," Gene Lyons and Joe Conason point out that Patterson "was said to harbor a grudge" against Clinton "for going to Washington without setting [him and a fellow state trooper] up in federal jobs" and because he didn't push a bill funding a state police lobbying group Patterson had helped to found through mandatory dues from state troopers' paychecks. Lyons and Conason also quote Patterson's former supervisor as saying Patterson's "mentality and objective in life was to sleep with as many women as he could. You could not have a conversation with Larry Patterson more than five minutes that sex didn't enter into it and whose britches he was trying to get in. ... If Bill Clinton had a meeting with a woman behind closed doors, Larry assumed it was for the purpose of sex, because that's what it would have been if he had been there."
Regarding the accusation against Hillary Clinton, Elder fails to note that Fray has serious credibility problems. As we've detailed, Fray lost his law license after admitting he was paid to alter a court document. Additionally, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that led to seizures, addiction to prescription pain killers, erratic behavior and memory loss, according to court records. he wrote a letter to Clinton begging her forgiveness for saying things about her "without factual foundation."
While Elder also claims that "campaign aide and businessman Neil McDonald" corroborated the account, author Gail Sheehy reported that McDonald "told me he didn't hear it," according to the New York Daily News.
Bartholomew reports on the background of a book currently being advertised on the WorldNetDaily website that nicely dovetails with WND's editorial philosophy toward Israel -- it claims that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is the Hebrew anti-Messiah.
We have to wonder: Is that what WND Jerusalem reporter (and Olmert-hater) Aaron Klein believes?
ABC News now has obtained 52 separate instant message exchanges, which former pages say were sent by Foley, using the screen name Maf54, to two different boys under the age of 18.
This message was dated April 2003, at approximately 7 p.m., according to the message time stamp.
But blogger William Kerr of Passionate America says that he has identified the former page, that he is 21 now, and that he was 18 at the time the instant messages were exchanged.
That would make ABC's story of an "underage" page being stalked by a predator a story about two consenting adults exchanging instant messages. Did Brian Ross know this, or did he willfully lie in order to run with the story and "get" the Republicans five weeks before the elections?
By focusing on this one claim -- that one of the pages Foley chatted up was 18, not "under 18" -- Brown ignores the entire creepy pattern of Foley chatting up numerous pages.
A better question: Will Brown take Sean Hannity and National Review's Andy McCarthy to task for telling the "willful lie" that Monica Lewinsky was 19 at the time of her dalliance with President Clinton? (In fact, she was 22.)
WND Finds Yet Another Publishing Partner Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article reports that WND has found yet another partner for its WND Books imprint, conservative publisher World Ahead Publishing. The imprint will move there from Cumberland House in early 2007.
This is the third partner WND has had for its book imprint. Founded with Christian publisher Thomas Nelson in 2002 (where the line lives on under the Nelson Current imprint), WND jumped to Cumberland House in 2004.
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.