MRC: Stop Covering Foley Scandal! Topic: Media Research Center
The MRC doesn't want Republicans to look bad. It declared the Mark Foley story over with sometime last week, and is absolutely irked that others don't feel the same way. Thus, it has declared that anyone who covers the Foley scandal from here on out is a biased liberal who wants the Republicans to lose in November:
And after the weather, what was Today's featured story of the half-hour? The growing nuclear threat with grave international implications? Come on. It was Foley Time! First a reporter, then Chris Matthews interviewed by Lauer and putting the worst possible spin on things for Republican prospects.
What could account for the short shrift NBC gave the North Korean nuke? You don't suppose it could have anything to do with the fact that when the focus is on national security, Americans tend to look to Republicans, whereas if Today can talk about a Republican sex scandal and highlight a lack of leadership . . .
In case you thought the Foley story was wrapping up on Friday, be warned that both Time and Newsweek weren't buying that. They wanted a chance to build its place in history/Republican infamy.
-- Tim Graham, Oct. 9 NewsBusters post and CyberAlert item
Friday's CBS Evening News led again with the Foley/page scandal, even though the two stories aired offered virtually no fresh information, as anchor Katie Couric justified the news judgment by declaring the issue is “still the talk of the town,” “is not going away” and “is overshadowing every other election issue for the moment” -- all self-fulfilling assessments sustained by the decisions of Couric and her media colleagues.
-- Brent Baker, Oct. 6 NewsBusters post and Oct. 9 CyberAlert item
Over the past few days, WorldNetDaily engaged in numerous examples of the depiction-equals-endorsement fallacy as it relates to homosexuality.
An Oct. 4 article stated as fact that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "signed a bill terminating the last vestige of traditional marriage," a bill that would allow allow domestic partners to file personal income taxes by checking either "married filing jointly" or "married filing separately" categories. The article forwards the claim from "those assessing the results of this year's state legislature" that Schwarzenegger "has failed to fully protect school children from the 'gay' agenda"-- misleading since the article cites only two conservative groups and no non-conservatives to support it. The article also cited a "weblog participant" -- in fact, a poster at the right-wing Free Republic -- as describing the bill as "lesbolation," concluding that "California really needs a political enema."
An Oct. 7 follow-up article seems to endorse anarchy, declaring that "'Don't trust the courts' is what supporters of traditional marriage are saying." Again, only conservatives are quoted, and their claims are not countered.
An Oct. 5 article declared that "[t]he Philadelphia School District has launched a new advance in the battle to indoctrinate school children into the 'gay' agenda" by establishing a "Gay and Lesbian History Month." The article quotes a anti-homosexual activist claiming without evidence that "even elementary school phonics cards have been through the 'gay' editing process." But no examples of the "Gay and Lesbian History Month" are offered, let alone how depictions of gays and lesbians equals "indoctrinat[ing] school children into the 'gay' agenda."
In an Oct. 6 article misleadingly headlined "'Gay' groups: We have rights to your children!" WND claimed that "[a] collection of 'gay' organizations has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Massachusetts lawsuit, claiming they have every right to teach their doctrine to grade-school students." In fact, the brief -- as quoted by WND -- states that "Parental rights, according to the brief filed this week, "have never meant that a parent can demand prior notice and the right to opt a child out of mere exposure to ideas in the public schools that a parent disapproves of."
Nevertheless, WND quotes unchallenged a claim from a "pro-family" group that homosexuals want to "push their message on children," adding that the "true agenda" of the sponsors of the brief "is apparent in the demands that the state has a legal obligation to teach homosexual issues to young children in the public schools."
Kathleen Antrim's article read more like a press release than any sort of "review" of the book "American Mourning." That may because serving as a press agent for a friend was the whole point: The article did not disclose that, according to Antrim's own website, Antrim appears every other Monday on the San Francisco radio show of the book's co-author, Melanie Morgan. Antrim's closeness to Morgan makes her enthusiasm for Morgan's book a tad suspect.
Because Antrim was in press-agent mode, she also failed to disclose Morgan's biases against Cindy Sheehan, a subject of the book. As chairwoman of the group Move America Forward, Morgan led a "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" tour in 2005. Morgan has, in her columns for right-wing website WorldNetDaily, called Sheehan "shameless" and someone who "hold[s] a twisted hatred of this country."
Additionally, Morgan's book is published by the book division of WorldNetDaily, which has its own special hatred of Sheehan; in November 2005, it published a article and photo that falsely portrayed a book-signing by Sheehan as a failure when, in fact, Sheehan sold and signed 100 copies of her book at the event.
Sheehan is certainly not above criticism. But rather than being a book that, in Antrim's words, "touches the very essence of American culture," the background of Morgan and her publisher indicates that "American Mourning" has all the earmarks of a hatchet job on Sheehan.
More than half of Americans -- 52 percent, including 29 percent of Republicans -- believe that House Speaker Dennis Hastert was aware of Congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate messages to teenage Congressional pages and tried to cover it up, according to the latest Newsweek Poll. Only 24 percent say he did not.
NewsMax's headline, however, reads: "Poll: GOP Voters Backing Hastert." That requires not only an extrapolation that since 29 percent of Republicans say Hastert tried to cover up Foley's misdeeds 71 percent thought otherwise, but a willful disregard of the poll's actual findings.
One really has to work to find good news for Republicans in this poll, and God bless 'em, NewsMax did.
WND Columnist Cites Biased Anti-Gay Research Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Oct. 7 WorldNetDaily column by Olivia St. John ("a freelance writer with almost 20 years of experience as a home educator") fails to point out the anti-gay background of a researcher whose statistics she cites. St. John writes:
Contrary to the homosexual assertion that heterosexual molestations outnumber those committed by homosexuals, Yale and Harvard-connected psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover states that "careful studies show that pedophilia is far more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals."
St. John's calling Satinover "connected" to Yale and Harvard is a bit of resume-padding done in order to enhance Satinover's patina of credibility. According to Satinover's CV, any connection to Yale and Harvard in fields related to the study of homosexuality was long ago; he received a master's degree in clinical psychology from Harvard in 1973 and served a residency and fellowship at Yale in the mid-1980s.
Satinover's anti-gay bias makes his research suspect. For instance, according to an interview with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality -- a group that advocates therapy regimens to change homosexual orientation -- calls homosexuality "psychologically unhealthy," "an inferior way of life,"and a "sociopathy" akin to "grow[ing] up in a Cosa Nostra family," adding that "homosexuality--like narcissism--is best viewed as a spiritual and moral illness."
Further, in accepting the views of Satinover that "pedophilia is far more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals," St. John also ignores research that gay men are no more likely than heterosexual men to perpetrate child sexual abuse and that that figures showing "male pedophiles are more likely to molest boys than girls" are not evidence that gay men are more likely to abuse children than straight men because they conflate men who abuse boys with gay men.
We hope such biased claims as she inserted into her column are not what St. John is serving up as she homeschools her children.
NewsBusters Muffs Fact on Keillor Topic: NewsBusters
The October 6 edition of NewsBusters' "Weekend Captionfest" -- a weekly feature in which posters are invited to write derogatory captions about liberals -- features a photo of director Robert Altman and "radio personality" Garrison Keillor. Matthew Sheffield added "NPR" in brackets before "radio personality."
But Keillor does not work for National Public Radio. As the "Prairie Home Companion" website to which Sheffield linked "NPR" shows, Keillor's program is produced by Prairie Home Productions and distributed by American Public Media, neither of which is National Public Radio.
We understand how such an error could come about, given that American Public Media produces and distributes programs that appear on many NPR-affiliated stations. But the Media Research Center is supposed to be monitoring public radio for "liberal bias" and presumably is aware of the difference between NPR and companies that supply programs to public radio stations. Still, it's a sloppy error.
CNS Misleads on Pelosi and Unemployment Topic: CNSNews.com
An Oct. 6 CNSNews.com article by Nathan Burchfiel misleadingly portrayed House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's remarks about the latest employment statistics by not offering any details about the statistics themselves.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday criticized Republicans for being optimistic about the Labor Department's September jobs report showing an increase in jobs, a jump in average hourly income and a decrease in unemployment.
"President Bush and Republicans continue to claim that the economy is on the right track," Pelosi said in a news release. "This once again demonstrates how out of touch Republicans are, because the U.S. economy is not delivering for middle-class families."
But Burchfiel's article offers no context that would explain why Pelosi would criticize an "optimistic jobs report," thus, possibly intentionally, making her look silly for criticizing a decrease in the unemployment rate.
As Pelosi's press release also notes -- but Burchfiel doesn't -- statistics showed that only 51,000 jobs were created in September; economists generally agree that 150,000 jobs a month need to be created to keep pace with population growth. Burchfiel also failed to note that the reason the September unemployment rate went down was an upward revision in the number of jobs created in August, not for what happened in September.
Another Double Standard: Oil Prices vs. Dow Highs Topic: Media Research Center
Remember when the Media Research Center folks were obsessed with the idea that the record-high oil prices of earlier this year weren't actually records when adjusted for inflation? That obsession is overlooked when the "record" numbers make the Bush administration look good.
NewsBusters posts by Ken Shepherd on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5 touted the "record high" for the Dow Jones Industrial Average; on Oct. 5, Shepherd pointed out the Dow's "third straight record high." An Oct. 6 article by Shepherd at the MRC's Business & Media Institute states, "The Dow Jones average closed at a record high for the third consecutive trading day."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, adjusted for inflation, is down 17 percent from its all-time high on January 14, 2000. It would need to rise another 2,378 points to set a new record, adjusted for inflation. It is only when no adjustment is made for inflation that the Dow can be said to have closed at a record high on October 3, 2006, as has been widely reported in the media.
If the MRC is going to demand that oil prices be compared with adjusted-for-inflation figures -- indeed, an April 22 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker called it "the only competent way to measure any price over time" -- shouldn't it do the same for all economic indicators?
CREW vs. Judicial Watch: The ConWeb Double Standard Topic: CNSNews.com
The ConWeb has their long knives out for Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.
An Oct. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh described CREW as "funded by billionaire George Soros" before he even served up the group's name. In describing CREW's Freedom of Information Act request seeking details on visits by nine leading religious-right figures to the Bush White House, Unruh quoted two of those figures attacking CREW's request as a "publicity stunt" by "left-wing bullies" but did not quote anyone from CREW itself. An Oct. 6 CNSNews.com article by Monisha Bansal quoted Andrea Lafferty of the conservative group Concerned Women for America calling CREW a "front group" for Soros, further calling Soros "a very wealthy, manipulative, evil person who is trying to direct the outcome of this election, and he is going after Christians."
The ConWeb's eagerness to denounce CREW by denouncing one of its donors runs in stark contrast to its treatment of another legal organization. A search of the online archives of both WND and CNS show no reporting at all on the links between the conservative legal group Judicial Watch -- famous for its numerous lawsuits against the Clinton administration -- and right-wing financier Richard Mellon Scaife.
As CNN reported, Judicial Watch received $550,000 from Scaife-controlled foundations in 1997 alone. According to SourceWatch, from 1997 to 2002, Scaife foundations gave more than $7 million to Judicial Watch.
Meanwhile, as we've noted, CREW has received a mere $100,000 from a Soros-backed group.
The funding of legal groups wasn't an issue for the ConWeb before. Why start now?
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.