When Matt Drudge published the press release from Virginia Sen. George Allen's campaign about lurid and sexually explicit excerpts from Jim Webb's novels, some WND readers asked why we didn't jump all over the story.
I'll tell you why.
For weeks, operatives within the Allen campaign were shopping this "story."
We were offered all the excerpts if we wanted it as an exclusive. I turned it down flat.
Because it's a non-story.
That certainly lends some credence to our theory that CNSNews.com cooperated with the Allen campaign in promoting the story. If it was shopped to WND, it was almost certainly shopped to CNS, who didn't think it was a "non-story," devoting a whopping four articles to it.
On the other hand, WND used the it-was-shopped claim to try and downplay the Mark Foley story, as demonstrated in an Oct. 10 article. And WND is not necessarily averse to "shopped" stories, as its cozy relationship with the Alliance Defense Fund vividly shows.
Did CNS Conspire With Allen Campaign? Topic: CNSNews.com
An Oct. 27 CNSNews.com article by Monisha Bansal examined Virginia Senate candidate Jim Webb's fiction for purportedly "racist" and "misogynistic" statements. (It's one of threearticles CNS has run today about Webb's fiction.) But did Bansal and CNS work with the campaign of Webb's opponent, Repblican Sen. George Allen, in the process?
The story suggests the possibility of coordination. Bansal notes that she talked to one person on Wednesday and that "Webb's campaign office has not returned multiple calls since Wednesday, seeking comment for this article. But she also notes that Allen's campaign "released a statement late Thursday listing excerpts from the books, charging that they "disturbingly and consistently -- indeed, almost uniformly -- portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these."
Interesting bit of timing there, isn't it? Bansal's article came out just in time to support and promote Allen's press release, and the two accompanying flood-the-zone articles further promote it. You'd almost think that CNS was sitting on the story until Allen could make it an issue.
We have no evidence of this, mind you; but we do think that the obvious timing issues raise questions that, given CNS' tightness with conservatives, CNS needs to answer.
Additionally, Bansal's article quotes only one person who directly responded to the excerpts CNS (and/or the Allen campaign) culled: noted literary critic Mychal Massie of Project 21. Really, now: Is someone who compares Democrats to Orval Faubus and Bull Connor and regularly hurls the Nazi slur (but hypocriticallydenounces Democrats who do the same thing) and has other fits of rhetorical excess really the go-to guy on issues of fiction? (Then again, the guy has forwarded his share of fiction in his WorldNetDaily column.)
UPDATE: CNS has posted another story -- the fourth of the day -- on FictionGate.
Sheppard: Fictional Sex = Foley Scandal Topic: NewsBusters
In an Oct. 27 post, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard really seems to believe that "depictions of homosexuality, and underage sexual activity" in Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb's novels should be given the same media attention as the non-fictional predatory behavior against congressional pages by Republican Rep. Mark Foley:
Given the media frenzy over Mark Foley’s electronic messages to male pages, the question is raised as to whether the press will give these revelations any coverage eleven days before Election Day. Should the fiction writings of a candidate seeking such high office be fair game for scrutiny, or is this a Hail Mary pass the media shouldn’t bother with?
Sheppard also did not list any response from the Webb campaign, apparently because he was too disturbed by the "lurid" content (or too envious of the George Allen staffers who had to document it). Sheppard also fails to similarly equate Republican vice-presidential wife Lynne Cheney with her fictional sex scenes.
Further, Sheppard cited Drudge for his claim (perhaps because it would have seemed too partisan to directly link to Allen's campaign website). What will he do with the knowledge that Drudge apparently endorses the new Bush assassination movie?
In an Oct. 27 WorldNetDaily article on an upcoming vote in Boise, Idaho, on whether to restore an Ten Commandments monument to a city park, Bob Unruh reports without challenge a claim by a supporter of restoring the monument that a monument to Anne Frank and a black history museum are "religious":
[Brandi] Swindell noted that the recent attack on religious monuments extended only to Christianity: a monument to Anne Frank and a Black History Museum remain in the same park from which the Ten Commandments were banned.
"To me that's religious bigotry," she said.
What does black history have to do with religion? Why is honoring a victim of political genocide a "religious" monument? Unruh doesn't explain.
MRC Writers Swallow Bush Claims on Economy Topic: Media Research Center
An Oct. 25 article by Amy Menefee and Julia A. Seymour at thte Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute (and teased in an Oct. 26 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd) promotes misleading economic figures issued by the Bush administration.
Menefee and Seymour repeat without challenge the administration's claim that it created "6.6 million new jobs since August 2003." But, as Media Matters points out, by conveniently setting the baseline at August 2003, they ignore the fact that there was a net loss of 2.6 million U.S. jobs from February 2001 through July 2003. Thus, throughout the Bush presidency, there has been a net gain of only 3.2 million jobs.
Menefee and Seymour also appear to be guilty of selective reporting in claiming that "hourly compensation in non-farm businesses increased 7.7 percent from last year, according to a September 6 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics" and that "even The New York Times reported a “surge in wage-and-salary income in the first half of this year” on August 31." But the Times also reported on August 28 that in terms of real wages -- wages adjusted for inflation -- the median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003.
Then, to confuse the issue even further, Menefee and Seymour spend several paragraphs on a Forbes article detailing how much median income has risen since the 1960s and "the many luxuries the American middle class now enjoys." Well, of course wages have increased over 40 years, but that's irrelevant to the issue at hand -- unless the issue at hand is making President Bush look good.
WND: Michael J. Fox 'Immoral,' 'Outrageous' Topic: WorldNetDaily
From an Oct. 26 WorldNetDaily article plugging the new Hollywood-bashing edition of its Whistleblower magazine:
The spectacle of Michael J. Fox, writhing with Parkinson's Disease, campaigning for Democrat politicians pushing taxpayer-funded embryonic stem-cell research is just the latest example of a stunning trend: With rare exceptions, Hollywood celebrities always seem to champion outrageous or immoral positions on crucial national issues, and to aggressively use their social power and prestige to advance such agendas.
New Article #1: Single-Minded Smears Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi unleashes a series of anti-gay attacks against a candidate for Ohio governor -- but was slow to disclose that he wrote a book with the candidate's opponent. Read more.
Mark Halperin: From Pariah to Prophet at the MRC Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center used to hate ABC's Mark Halperin. He was a favorite target during the 2004 election:
An Oct. 1, 2004, "Media Reality Check" groused that Halperin "panned Bush’s reaction to [John] Kerry’s attacks [during a debate]: 'The President was remarkably angry-seeming a lot of the time...It’s usually not a very becoming posture for a candidate.' "
An Oct. 6, 2004, "Media Reality Check" singled out Halperin for calling Vice President Dick Cheney “gratuitously mean” during a debate with John Edwards when Cheney chastised Edwards’ weak Senate attendance record.
An Oct. 9, 2004, CyberAlert feared that a memo by Halperin noting that "the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done" would mean that ABC would "deliberately correct Bush more often than Kerry." An Oct. 13, 2004, CyberAlert complained that ABC had fact-checked Bush twice as often as Kerry following the issuance of the memo.
All water under the bridge. Now that Halperin is using conservative terms like "old media" and making charges of liberal media bias, Halperin is the MRC's new BFF.
An Oct. 25 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield lovingly detailed how Halperin "provided a resounding endorsement of the idea that the elite American media needs to stop being liberally biased." NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard similarly drooled over Halperin, noting in an Oct. 25 post his "stunning statements about liberal media bias," a follow-up to an Oct. 19 post that repeated claims in The Note, the ABC News political newsletter that Halperin edits, that the "(libeal) Old Media" took daily conference calls with Howard Dean and George Soros as undeniable "proof that the press are colluding with Democrats." (You know, the stuff that NewsMax's James Hirsen took deadly seriously.)
It's the reverse of the treatment that MRC has given to Chris Matthews (as we've detailed). Does this mean that the MRC will concede that maybe Halperin had a valid point in his 2004 memo?
Klein Back to Anonymously Smearing Olmert Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein had been dormant the past few weeks on his smearcampaign against Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But he's back on the job: Articles by Klein on Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 cite anonymous "senior IDF officers" to claim that a possible Israeli incursion into Gaza "may be 'watered down' or not approved at all by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for political reasons."
Meanwhile, Klein remains silent on conservative Israeli president Moshe Katsav's sex scandal, even though he has reported numerous alleged scandals against Olmert.
WND, CNS Misleadingly Defend Morgan's Book Topic: WorldNetDaily
Both WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com have offered misleading defenses of Melanie Morgan's WND-published, Cindy Sheehan-bashing book regarding lawsuit threats made by Sheehan.
An Oct. 24 WND article noted that Sheehan "was preparing for possible litigation over allegations in the book that she became addicted to "online chat rooms of a pornographic nature" after her son died in Iraq." Morgan's response was, in fact, something of a threat:
"I am totally confident in my level of documentation," Morgan told WND today. "It's locked in a bank vault, and we are prepared to use it should Ms. Sheehan proceed to litigation.
"We hope that doesn't happen for the sake of her family, the Sheehan family," she said, because the documentation is "very graphic in nature.
"We had hoped to spare the family any further uncomfortableness and embarrassment," she said.
WND quoted Morgan as saying, "We wrote the book not to make life uncomfortable for Cindy Sheehan, far from it." But the article failed to note Morgan's history of attacks on Sheehan that suggest a certain desire to, in fact, make Sheehan's life uncomfortable.
Similarly, an Oct. 24 CNS article by Randy Hall quoted Kristen Schremp, a publicist for Morgan and co-author Catherine Moy, as saying, "It's not like this book was written to pick on Cindy Sheehan." But like WND, Hall does not note Morgan's anti-Sheehan activism. He noted that Morgan is "president of the conservative organization Move America Forward" but didn't note that MAF organized a "You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy" bus tour last year -- something that would be germane, if not essential, to any discussion regarding Morgan's desire to "pick on" Sheehan.
WND Columnist: Get a Tattoo, You're Charles Manson Topic: WorldNetDaily
Talk about guilt by association: In furthering WorldNetDaily's anti-tattoo kick, Richard D. Ackerman, in an Oct. 24 WND column, likens young people who get tattoos to Charles Manson. No, really. After noting that "49 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 to 29" have gotten a tattoo, he writes:
Isn't it just grand to think that 49 percent of our young adults are doing just what Charles Manson, war-torn veterans, convicts, primitive tribal members, rogue bikers, drug addicts and the like have done to themselves?
Frankly, it makes little sense that one would want to mimic the behaviors of people who voluntarily hurt themselves and find no other positive way of expressing themselves except through pain, bleeding and permanent scars.
The irony, of course, is that Ackerman describes himself as "[b]edecked with dragons, skulls, a burning cross, a unicorn, and other mystical images." But he has repented -- he's now a lawyer and the president of the Pro-Family Law Center -- and he considers his tattoos "images of alcoholism, drug abuse, abortion, my Gen-X culture, a disconnect to God, and a desire to express myself through silent rebellion against God and society."
Indeed, Ackerman insists that tattoos, piercings and body modifications are evil:
Body modification always starts off with the premise that ‘I need to express myself.' As with all things evil, self-interest is never a good starting point for any human endeavor. When one modifies the body, it is always to garner attention to the self at the expense of another.
He further states that the devil is likely involved in the choice to get a tattoo (after eliminating the possiblility of "evolution or natural selection" as a motivating factor), because God sure isn't:
Thus, we are left with the possibility that our God, the devil, or culture led him to do this. Given the Biblical precept that the body should be kept pure and without marking, the idea that God silently drove Jon to the tattoo parlor seems unlikely to me. However, I am open to the other two related alternatives.
One thing, however, is missing from Ackerman's column: a little disclosure. Ackerman, formerly with the U.S. Justice Foundation, represented WND in its fight to obtain a permanent Senate Press Gallery pass. And as we've noted, in 2003 and 2004, WND promoted Ackerman's plight when, while at USJF, he was sanctioned by a judge for filing "frivolous" charges against Planned Parenthood affiliates and faced purportedly "crippling sanctions" of up to $75,000 in fines. (Ackerman returned the favor by sucking up to WND, calling it "fair, equal and balanced" and a provider of "truthful, accurate and timely information."
NewsMax's Hirsen Takes The Note Seriously Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax's James Hirsen -- best known around these parts for falsely claiming that U2 was holding a concert for Rick Santorum -- is making the mistake of trusting The Note, ABC News' political newsletter.
ABC's Web site, The Note, recently confirmed what many Americans have long suspected: The mainstream media coordinate their coverage with leaders from the Left.
ABC's site exposed exactly whom the Jurassic journalists have been seeking approval from, and it is not just their editors. The Note explained that the Old Media "can barely contain itself on its secret morning conference calls with Howard Dean and George Soros."
Conference calls? It appears as though a morning check-in with Soros and Dean has been a routine occurrence. On the particular occasion in question, the accord apparently spread even further.
"It was agreed just this morning that, yes, we can keep the meta-narrative (‘The Democrats are going to beat Bush and run Congress!!') going for another 19 days, without interruption," The Note reported.
The Note's "it was agreed" description of the cunning conference call suggested that a bargain between participating parties had been struck.
Hirsen's description of the alleged Howard Dean-George Soros conference call came from the Oct. 19 edition of The Note. Hirsen ominously concluded: "Guess the Faustian Old Media hate the Grand Old Party so much they are willing to sell their journalistic souls to regain power."
Hirsen apparently is so desperate to believe the liberal-media myth that he has failed to consider the possibility that the folks at The Note are just funnin' with him.
Or perhaps not. For what do we see in the Oct. 23 Note? An accusation that the "(liberal) Old Media" is "[r]efus[ing] to join the daily morning Ken Mehlman-Rush Limbaugh conference calls, despite repeated invitations."
Surely, Hirsen must know about these calls where the ConWeb get its conservative marching orders -- NewsMax certainly sits in on it, as does WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com. Fox News must know about 'em. Heck, maybe Hirsen himself has been a participant a time or two.
After all, we've already documented how NewsMax took its spin points on the Mark Foley case directly from Limbaugh, so The Note's accusation must be at least as true as its claim of "old media" collaborating with. If Hirsen is going to take The Note's accusations of collaboration seriously, shouldn't he admit that his employer is involved in the same kind of coordination?
Or, perhaps, Hirsen could admit The Note played him for a fool. Then again, Hirsen never apologized for his false U2-Santorum story.
Farah Just Can't Stop Making Misleading IRS Claims Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah's Oct. 23 WorldNetDaily column once again revives his old story that "President Bill Clinton was using the Internal Revenue Service as a political attack dog against his adversaries – people like me and a host of organizations critical of his policies."
As we've noted, this is a claim he has had trouble making in court -- and one that Farah can't stop misleading his readers about. Farah claims:
Years later, the Treasury Department reviewed the matter and found, just as I had suspected all along, that the audit of my non-profit organization began when the White House forwarded a complaint to the IRS for investigation.
But he fails to note that a joint congressional committee, formed in response to complaints by Farah's Western Journalism Center and other groups, found "no credible evidence" that the IRS was biased against anti-Clinton groups.
Given his antipathy toward the IRS over politically motivated audits, it's very surprising that Farah refuses to acknowlege that the IRS under the Bush administration hasbeenaccused of auditing groups, such as the NAACP, that have been critical of the administration. Instead, Farah writes:
In retrospect, I've had many serious beefs with President Bush and his administration. We've challenged his administration on the border, on the Harriet Miers nomination, on his reckless spending, on countless other aspects of his leadership. Yet, to his credit, never once have we faced retribution of this kind – where the awesome power of the federal government is turned loose on dissenting citizens.
Is Farah really so shallow as to be that as long as he and WND are not audited, the Bush adminstration is not conducting politically motivated audits? That's hardly the sign of a good investigative journalist.
Unsurprisingly, WND has never reported on these accusations, apparently believing that the Bush IRS must have a good reason for auditing its critics.