In a repeat of the phenomenon (read: hypocrisy) we saw at WorldNetDaily, NewsMax is sing the praises of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington now that it is going after a Democrat.
Earlier this year, NewsMax was attacking CREW for its links to liberal financier George Soros, as in this July article by James H. Walsh. Just a month or so ago, NewsMax's James Hirsen was trying to discredit the page-chasing accusations against Mark Foley by bashing CREW as "a group financed in part by George Soros" (though, as we've noted, CREW has received only a fraction of the money that NewsMax benefactor Richard Mellon Scaife has given to Judicial Watch).
But now, in a Nov. 13 article, NewsMax is promoting CREW's criticism of corruption allegations related to Democratic Rep. John Murtha. And, as with WND's similar article, there's no mention of the the Soros link to CREW that they used to try yand discredit the group just a month ago.
I was honored to join Sen. Lieberman and his wife Hadassah for their election night celebration in Hartford, Connecticut.
Joe Lieberman is an exemplary individual and public servant. The Democratic Party and the country are going to be well served by this newborn "independent" fighting in the U.S. Senate for the values that make America a better, safer place.
As we've noted, Ruddy announced his intention to donate to Lieberman's campaign. The Center for Responsive Politics doesn't show that donation -- but it shows him donating $800 to Florida Rep. Clay Shaw's campaign earlier this year.
And, like Mark Foley in 2003, Shaw got a little positive NewsMax coverage along with his donation from Ruddy. An Oct. 23 article details Shaw's unusual touting of his connections to Bill Clinton -- normally anathema to a conservative like Ruddy, who spent much of the 1990s attacking Clinton any way he could. NewsMax also ran numerous wire articles that mention Shaw, such as a May 8 Associated Press article noting that Shaw "is on the cusp of realizing a political dream, transforming his 25 years of service and clout into one of the most powerful jobs in Washington" but fighting against a torrent of bad news that "amounts to a nightmare for GOP lawmakers."
Ruddy's support of Shaw despite Shaw's embrace of Clinton could be signaling a thawing of his hatred of everything Clinton. Another sign: He actually deigns to come close to saying something nice about Hillary Clinton in his column:
Hillary comes out of 2006 strong because she increased her vote draw and did well in Republican areas of New York. She will set her sights directly on the White House. Her biggest obstacle? Fellow Democrats of the Howard Dean-MoveOn.org wing of the party don't like Hillary and don't like the fact she is a Johnny-come-lately to criticizing Bush's Iraq policy.
While Ruddy then goes on to say that she could take a lesson from Lieberman "on how to be authentic," that may be the nicest thing Ruddy -- and NewsMax -- has ever written about someone with the last name of Clinton. Don't expect such a detente to hold if Clinton runs for the presidency in 2008, though.
Bizarre Political/Music Connection of the Day Topic: Free Republic
We found it interesting that Chad Castagana, the person arrested for allegedly sending fake anthrax to several anti-war celebrities, journalists, and politicians, is suspected of being a poster at the conservative site Free Republic.
Here's something even more interesting: The Free Republic name under which he supposedly posted under, "Marc Costanzo," also happens to be the name of a member of the Canadian pop-punk-rap band Len, who had a hit several years back with the relentlessly happy "Steal My Sunshine" (and then promptly disappeared off the face of the earth).
Is there a connection? We have no idea. We hope not, because we like that song.
CNS Pushes Criticism of Plan Nobody Has Advanced Topic: CNSNews.com
A Nov. 13 CNSNews.com article by Mark Finkelstein -- the NewsBusters blogger who is on a junket of sorts to Iraq -- features an interview with Iraqi deputy prime minister Barham Salih. Finkelstein leads with Salih's claim that "[a]n abrupt withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would be a 'disaster for Iraqis and for the region.' " But no prominent politician has proposed an "abrupt withdrawal of American troops from Iraq."
Finkelstein tries to conflate calls by Democrats for "change direction in Iraq" to mean that, noting that "Sen. Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat in line to assume the chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called Monday for a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq over a four to six month period." But that is not "abrupt withdrawal."
Finkelstein also notes that "Salih repeated that an abrupt U.S. troop withdrawal 'would be utterly disastrous,' but he also said he did not think that would happen." So what's the point? Why is a proposal nobody has made and the subject of his article doesn't believe will happen the focus of his article?
"Future House Speaker Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. Murtha, one of the most unethical members of Congress, shows that she may have prioritized ethics reform merely to win votes with no real commitment to changing the culture of corruption," said CREW's executive director, Melanie Sloan.
Sloan said not only is Rep. Murtha beset by ethics issues, but the New York Times reported Oct. 2 he has consistently opposed ethics and earmark reform.
But wait -- wasn't WND bashing CREW just a month ago for being "a George Soros-sponsored organization" after it pushed for an investigation of disgraced Republican Rep. Mark Foley? Wasn't it playing up quotes from conservatives calling CREW's attacks on Foley a "publicity stunt" by "left-wing bullies"?
Yep and yep. WND does the same thing with the ACLU -- bash it except when it's useful to WND's agenda.
Efforts to Pretend That Haggard Isn't Conservative Continue Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've previously noted how segments of the ConWeb have tried to portray disgraced Rev. Ted Haggard as not being a genuine conservative because of his support for action against global warming. The latest entry in that category comes in the form of a Nov. 11 WorldNetDaily column by Charles McVety, in which he blames Haggard's environmental agenda (though not his gay-sex-and-meth activities) in part for Republican losses in the midterm elections.
Under Haggard, McVety wrote, "evangelicals had joined forces with environmentalists who are well-known for being ungodly and sexually immoral." This was wrong, not just for the obvious ungodly and sexually immoral reasons, but also because "God warns us numerous times in Scripture to never subvert His precepts with that of man or earth." McVety concluded, "Haggard assisted in exalting the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi to power. He was led astray and is now suffering tremendously. We need to pray for him and pray for protection for us."
McVety, by the way, is not an American, which would seem to make his pronouncements about American politics less than essential. He's president of Canada Christian College and head of the Canada Family Action Coalition, which seems to be against all the things you'd expect a similar American conservative group like the Family Research Council to be against.
WND Still Promoting Dubious Terrorists-Endorse-Dems Article Topic: WorldNetDaily
The lead of a Nov. 10 WorldNetDaily article sums up Aaron Klein's quoting of "senior terrorist leaders" who puportedly endorsed a Democratic victory in Tuesday's elections this way:
Before the elections, terrorist leaders in the Middle East all but formally endorsed a Democratic victory in the mid-term congressional vote.
Wrong. As we pointed out, Klein interviewed only three "senior terrorist leaders," one of whom is in exile in Ireland -- hardly a representative number. Klein also failed to note that CIA analysts found that Osama bin Laden released a tape prior to the 2004 election that was "clearly designed to assist" the re-election of President Bush, which indicates that terrorists seem to prefer the Republicans' approach to terrorism.
Bozell's Bitter Post-Election Column Topic: Media Research Center
Could Brent Bozell's Nov. 9 post-elecction column have been more bitter and whiny? We doubt it.
He leads off with the claim, "In 25 years of looking at the national media, I have never seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news -- and non-news -- by the national media," but he offers no objective evidence to support it. He then cranks up the whine:
When gas prices approached historic highs over the summer, the media couldn’t stop talking about the inept Republicans and failed Bush administration policies. Then gas prices plummeted. Celebratory coverage? Nah. Any credit to the Republican party or this administration? None whatsoever.
Bozell offers no evidence that Republicans or the Bush administration, in fact, did not contribute to the record highs (which, if you'll remember, the MRC expended copious energy denying that they were record highs when you adjusted for inflation) or had anything to do with the drop in gas prices.
Bozell then moved on to deny that the Mark Foley case was a legitimate issue in the campaign: " The dominant issue of the fall campaign on network television wasn’t the issues, unless you consider Mark Foley’s creepy Internet messages an “issue,” in which case, boy howdy, did the news media agree with you." He then complained that "nobody cares" about Rep. William Jefferson, "the Democrat caught by the feds stuffing some 90 grand in payola in the freezer at his Washington home."
He knows better than that: As the case of Bill Clinton, in which Republican smear-mongering didn't succeed until Monica Lewinsky showed, sex scandals almost always trump money scandals (even though 90K in the freezer was a nice hook). Further, the larger issue in the Foley case, which Bozell ignores, is that Republican higher-ups were apparaently aware of Foley's predatory behavior toward congressional pages but did nothing about it.
Bozell also makes the following claim:
Since Pelosi was elected as the House Democratic leader in November of 2002, all the way through to late October of 2006, the networks have not once described her as a “liberal.” You read that correctly. Not once. That’s not news coverage. That’s a four-year masquerade party.
That's a very selective framing of the situation. Media Matters framed it another way: In response to an assertion in ABC's The Note that the media will "fail to describe [Pelosi] as 'ultra liberal' or 'an extreme liberal,' which would mirror the way [former Republican House Speaker Newt] Gingrich was painted twelve years ago," a search of major media found no significant disparity between coverage of Pelosi in 2006 and coverage of Gingrich in 1994, which includes the respective ideological noting; in fact, there were numerous references to Pelosi as "unabashedly liberal" and one of the "more liberal Democrats."
Bozell has been in this kind of whiny mood ever since Republicans got thumped in Tuesday's election; he also issued a press release insisting that "the election was a loss for the Republican Party, but it was emphatically not a loss for conservatives or those on the political right," adding that "numerous conservative ideas and the principles of the political right were victorious all over the country." But to claim that, Bozell ignores that South Dakota voted down a near-total ban on abortion, two other states rejected parental notification laws, Missouri approved a ballot initiative in support of stem cell research, and six states approved initiatives to raise the minimum wage.
At the end of a Nov. 9 NewsMax column in which he engages in the typical conservative post-election Democrat-bashing blah-blah -- for instance, he calls Democrats "historically the party of the slave owners, Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, and Bull Connor" -- Lowell Ponte called the "unelected liberal media" the election's "biggest winner," adding, "Our freedom now depends on honest alternative media such as NewsMax."
Here are some recent examples of that "honest alternative" news that NewsMax offers:
-- Ronald Kessler -- NewsMax's highest-profile writer, hired in an attempt to provide it with gravitas -- repeatedlymisled and engaged in scare tactics in order to attack Democrats and fluff President Bush.
-- NewsMax misled on the issue of John Kerry's "botched joke," downplaying or ignoring his apology.
A Nov. 8 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker recounted a 1991 Media Research Center claim that CBS "smear[ed]" defense secretary designee Robert Gates by linking him "to the Iran-Contra affair through tabloid-style innuendo" and reporting a (leftist, Baker says) analyst's claim that "The worst case is that Bob Gates participated in a coverup. The best case is that Bob Gates is a hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil bureaucrat who watched all this information come through his office and looked the other way."
We're not sure exactly what Baker is opposing here. Gates was, in fact, a CIA official during the Iran-contra affair. If he needs more evidence of this, all he needs to do is toddle on over to MRC sister site CNSNews.com, where today's "Fact-O-Rama" is dedicated to Gates' role in Iran-contra:
Gates was an early subject of Independent Counsel's investigation … into the Iran-Contra activities of CIA officials. This investigation received an additional impetus in May 1991, when President George H. W. Bush nominated Gates to be director of Central Intelligence.
Gates consistently testified that he first heard on October 1, 1986, from Charles Allen, the national intelligence officer who was closest to the Iran initiative, that proceeds from the Iran arms sales may have been diverted to support the Contras. Other evidence proves, however, that Gates received a report on the diversion during the summer of 1986 from DDI Richard Kerr.
The issue was whether Independent Counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates was deliberately not telling the truth when he later claimed not to have remembered any reference to the diversion before meeting with Allen in October.
This investigation was substantially completed by September 3, 1991, at which time Independent Counsel determined that Gates' Iran-Contra activities and testimony did not warrant prosecution.
Were Baker's CNS brethren "smearing" Gates too by noting his Iran-contra role? He doesn't say.
The first post-election columns by WorldNetDaily columnists Jerome Corsi and Jack Cashill strangely stay away from politics, failing to address the fact that the candidates for whom they advocated -- Ken Blackwell and Curt Weldon, respectively -- were soundly defeated on Tuesday.
Instead, each return to previous obsessions: Corsi on Iran, Cashill on Flight 800 conspiracies.
We noted before the election that ConWeb writers had done enough work in support of specific candidates that they might as well have been on the campaign's payroll. Let's look at the fruit of their efforts:
Prelutsky Likens Gore to Serial Killers Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a flourish of rhetoric that is both bizarre and clumsy, Bert Prelutsky uses his Nov. 8 WorldNetDaily column to liken Al Gore to serial killers. Noting that a handful of infamous serial killers "all lived for at least 10 years after being found guilty of their heinous crimes," he then writes: "Which brings us to Al Gore. How is it he is still around, still having media attention paid to him, still trying to pass himself off as one of the big brain people?"
Prelutsky also recycled a couple of old discredited smears about Gore, writing: "It was bad enough when he was claiming to be the model for the boy in 'Love Story' and even worse when he was claiming credit for the Internet." As we pointed out a very long time ago, 1) Gore was merely repeating a newspaper article in which the claim was made and that was "all I know"; 2) "Love Story" author Erich Segal has, in fact said that Gore was a model for the lead male character; and 3) Gore actually does deserve some credit for the legislative role he played in laying groundwork for the modern version of the Internet.
Malkin Misleads on Voter Fraud Topic: WorldNetDaily
In her Nov. 8 syndiated column (which appears at WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com), Michelle Malkin attacked the Democrats' purported "pre-emption strategy" of "[c]all[ing] into question the results of the midterms even before Election Day had begun," calling it "a phony vehicle to sow seeds of doubt, paranoia and chaos as substitutes for action."
But, as she did when she portrayed Democrats as "unhinged," Malkin ignored the fact that Republicans and conservatives have made the same exact claims, as seen here, here, and here. And before the 2004 election, NewsMax and Robert Novak were claiming that Democrats were planning to steal it.
Is Malkin saying that Republicans who accuse Democrats of voter fraud are also using "a phony vehicle to sow seeds of doubt, paranoia and chaos as substitutes for action"?
UPDATE: Joseph Farah does the same thing in his Nov. 9 column, claiming that "Democrats, and their allies in places of influence, reserve charges of voting fraud exclusively for elections in which they lose."
Kessler's Bush-Fluffing Kicks Into High Gear Topic: Newsmax
His scare tactics having failed, Ronald Kessler uses his post-election Nov. 8 NewsMax column doing what he does best: fluffing President Bush and comparing him to Abraham Lincoln, Warren Buffett, and Harry Truman:
Like Warren Buffett, Bush keeps his eyes on the horizon. Buffett invests in companies he believes have long-term growth potential and holds on to those stocks regardless of short-term price fluctuations, negative media coverage, and downgrades by stock analysts. Today, Buffett is the second richest American with $40 billion in assets.
Bush isn't particularly interested in his place in history, either. Like any good CEO, he simply wants results and views challenges as opportunities. But he is also aware of how transitory opinion polls can be.
When Truman left office, his approval rating stood at 25 percent. Yet today, because of his firm approach to national security, Truman — whom the press portrayed as a simpleton — is viewed as one of the great presidents.
Similarly, the media have portrayed Bush as a buffoon, a religious fanatic, or a monster with the temerity to topple a man who had killed 300,000 people, not to mention liberating 50 million people.
In the same way, Democratic papers and critics disparaged Abraham Lincoln as a "dictator, ridiculed him as a baboon, damned him as stupid and incompetent . . ." according to Stephen B. Oates' book, "With Malice Toward None."
This is the thing to remember about Kessler's work for NewsMax: He's not doing "reporting," he's creating Bush hagiography.