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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
WND's Disingeuous Defense of Fox Hostage Story
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily is trying to dance around the implications of Aaron Klein's article claiming that $2 million in ransom was paid for the release of Fox News employees Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped in Gaza last summer.

In a response to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes' denial that Fox News paid a ransom for the release of Centanni and Wiig, WND editor Joseph Farah responded:

"We stand 100 percent behind Aaron Klein's story today about the release of kidnap victims Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig.

"The statement by Roger Ailes completely distorts what our story carefully reported. Nowhere in our story did we ever allege, as Ailes' statement said, that Fox News paid $2 million for release of the terrorist hostages."

Ailes was quoted as saying: "I just saw an article on the internet from by Aaron Klein which claims we paid $2 million in hostage money during the Centanni & Wiig kidnapping crisis. The story is absolutely 100% false. Not a cent of hostage money was paid, and it was never considered ..."

"In fact," said Farah, "what we reported is 100 percent accurate – that some of those believed to be involved with the kidnappings say they received money. Period. No one in the story even suggested the money originated with Fox.

"Roger Ailes says the story is 100 percent false. But he is alleging it says something it clearly does not say.

"Further, Fox News executives and spokesmen had two weeks to provide a response to WND before the story was published. They understood in advance what would be published and repeatedly refused to make a statement on the record. Off the record, they did not deny it was possible money was paid by another party."

Farah is being disingenuous. While Klein's article doesn't explicitly state that the money allegedly received by the terrorists came from Fox News -- as we noted, a claim based on a single anonymous "senior leader of one of the groups suspected of the abductions" who refused to confirm that his group was involved -- Klein never explicitly states that the money did not come from Fox and never states where it actually did come from, despite Farah's claim that "No one in the story even suggested the money originated with Fox."

The article clearly suggests that the money did, in fact, come from Fox -- an implication Farah fails to acknowledge. This implication is further fed by Klein's statement that a Fox spokesperson "could not provide an official statement about whether Fox was aware of money paid to free its two employees" and that the spokesperson said that "it was possible money was paid."

WND is putting a lot of trust in the words of terrorists; it should hope that it won't come back to bite them. It might a good time for another solicitation for WND's legal defense fund.

UPDATE: Edits for clarity and link additions. 

Posted by Terry K. at 7:02 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2006 1:26 AM EST
NewsBusters Rags on Poll Result It Doesn't Like
Topic: NewsBusters

A Nov. 14 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock rags on CNN's Bill Schneider for stating that the country has "no confidence" in the Bush administration based on a USA Today/Gallup poll that showed President Bush's job approval rating at 33 percent with a disapproval rating of 62 percent. Added Whitlock: "Of course, Schneider didn’t mention that the poll he was referring to sampled only "1004 national adults," as opposed to registered or likely voters. Both of which, would have resulted in more conservative findings."

But Whitlock doesn't explain why the opinions of non-voting citizens are less valid than those of "registered or likely voters," beyond apparently being more liberal. A cross-section of "national adults" does, after all, cover the entire nation -- why is that a bad thing? Nor does he explain why "only" 1,004 respondents is an insufficient or invalid sample for a poll -- in fact, the sample size of many polls is 1,000 or less.

NewsBusters frequently complains that poll results aren't conservative enough, despite the fact that pollsters are using standard sample sizes (as above) and political breakdowns that accurately reflect the American population (see Noel Sheppard).

Posted by Terry K. at 6:35 PM EST
ConWeb vs. ConWeb
Topic: Newsmax

"Yes, Rudy Can Win"

-- The latest issue of NewsMax magazine, which touts Rudy Giuliani's possible presidential bid and suggests that it "may become the playbook for the Giuliani presidential campaign." 

"Giuliani 'Unacceptable' for President, Conservatives Say"

-- A Nov. 15 article by Randy Hall, which features a claim by Colleen Parro, executive director of the Republican National Coalition for Life, that Giuliani is "absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances" as a presidential candidate because of his support for abortion rights and "the issues of the homosexual movement."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:32 AM EST
Fox News Channels WorldNetDaily; WND Whacks Fox News
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The Huffington Post has published a copy of a Nov. 8 internal memo at Fox News in which correspondents were told: "And let's be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled Congress."

Sounds like someone may have been a bit enamored of Aaron Klein's WorldNetDaily article dubiously claiming that terrorists (well, three of 'em) endorsed a Democratic victory in the midterm elections. 

That's a bit ironic, because Klein has a new WND article up claiming that Fox paid terrorists $2 million for the release of Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, Fox News employees who were abducted in Gaza last summer. Now, this is a Klein article, after all, so the claim is factually shaky -- his only source is an anonymous "senior leader of one of the groups suspected of the abductions" who won't even confirm that his group was involved. That's hardly solid-gold evidence. Further, Klein quotes the State Department as denying that Centanni and Wiig were ransomed, though a Fox News spokesperson is noncommittal.

As we've noted, Klein seems to have quite a cozy relationship with his enemies, and Klein seems to have never considered the possibility that they're playing him for a fool.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:41 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 11:19 AM EST
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Quote of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Mychal Massie, from his Nov. 14 WorldNetDaily column:

Liberals will do what they do best: bankrupt the moral climate, raise taxes, attempt to institute Erebusic social programs, and emasculate our military.  

"Erebusic" is not a word (the dictionary tells us so). Massie is presumably referring to Erebus, a mythological creature who is the "embodiment of primordial darkness" and is "used metaphorically for Hades itself." What Massie appears to be saying is that Democratic social programs (he doesn't name which ones) will create hell on earth.

This is what passes for thoughtful conservative commentary at WorldNetDaily. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:15 PM EST
CNS Pushes Criticism of Plan Nobody Has Advanced, Day 2

For the second day in a row, Mark Finkelstein leads a article by quoting an Iraqi official criticizing something that no prominent U.S. politician has forwarded -- immediate removal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Finkelstein's Nov. 14 CNS article begins:

A quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq "would be a great gift to terrorist groups," a spokesman for Iraq's Shi'ite-led government said here.

As we noted when Finkelstein wrote yesterday of an Iraqi official who opposed an "abrupt withdrawal of American troops from Iraq," the closest thing Finkelstein as cited to support such a claim is one Democratic politician's desire for "phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq over a four to six month period" -- hardly "abrupt" or "quick."

And again, as he did in his previous article, Finkelstein quotes his subject as saying something that contradicts the claim he leads with. This time, the quote is that "We have received messages from some of the [party] leaders that they are not going to have such a [precipitous] pull-out."

Again: If it's not that big of an issue -- as the people Finkelstein is talking to clearly indicate -- why is Finkelstein leading with it for the second day in a row?

Posted by Terry K. at 7:30 PM EST
Richard Poe, Drama Queen
Topic: Horowitz

We missed this earlier, but here's the reaction of Richard Poe to last week's elections, taken from his personal blog:

Election 2006: Words Fail Me

“I scarcely knew my own name; and for a long while I was silent, knowing that it was a time for tears.” St. Jerome penned those words following the sack of Rome by Alaric the Visigoth, who ravished the Eternal City on August 24, Anno Domini 410.(1)

I can add nothing to Jerome’s lament. Yesterday’s election has robbed me of speech.(2)

The numbers refer to written footnotes to the items he links to.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:42 PM EST
Suddenly, NewsMax Loves CREW, Too
Topic: Newsmax

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EST
Ruddy Hangs With Lieberman, Donates to Shaw
Topic: Newsmax

From Christopher Ruddy's Nov. 14 NewsMax column:

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 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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:54 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 9:28 AM EST
Monday, November 13, 2006
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:29 PM EST
CNS Pushes Criticism of Plan Nobody Has Advanced

A Nov. 13 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?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:53 PM EST
Suddenly, WND Loves CREW
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a Nov. 13 WorldNetDaily article rehashing Rep. John Murtha's role as an alleged "unindicted co-conspirator" in the 25-year-old Abscam scandal, WND also notes:

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, CREW, questioned Pelosi's endorsement of Murtha, listing the congressman in its report "Beyond DeLay: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and five to watch)."

"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.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:21 PM EST
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:54 AM EST
Saturday, November 11, 2006
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:47 AM EST
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:08 AM EST

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