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Wednesday, December 6, 2006
CNS' New Style Tic
Topic:'s Susan Jones is trying out a new style convention. From a Nov. 30 article:

"Progressive" (liberal) Christian groups, attempting to dilute the political influence of their conservative brethren, are speaking up when conservative Christian leaders speak out.

From a Dec. 6 article:

On Tuesday, leaders of various "progressive" (liberal) organizations -- including Americans United,, and the Campaign for America's Future -- gathered in Washington to organize support for the Democratic agenda.

We're not sure what the point is, but Jones is also on record, in an Oct. 30 article, using the inaccurate and derogatory term "Democrat Party."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:24 PM EST
WND's New One-Source Wonder
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Is WorldNetDaily's Joe Kovacs looking to step into the one-source-wonder shoes left behind by Jon Dougherty?

A Dec. 5 WND article by Kovacs repeats Dick Morris' unsupported assertion that should Hillary Clinton be elected to the presidency in 2008, "she won't use her married name of Clinton, but rather, her maiden name of Rodham." Not only does Kovacs make no apparent attempt to contact Clinton's office to respond to the claim, he also fails to note that Morris is hardly an objective or even reliable source about the Clintons. For instance, Media Matters has detailed how, in the course of attacking Clinton in his "rebuttal" to her "Living History" autobiography, Morris made numerous claims that contradicted things he had previously said about her and Bill Clinton.

Interestingly, NewsMax cribbed from the same Morris appearance on Fox News in which he made that claim. Like Kovacs, NewsMax didn't give Clinton a chance to respond or note Morris' hatred of the Clintons, but NewsMax at least had the good sense to not put a byline on it.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EST
Mychal Massie's Word of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Mychal Massie's thesaurus-rummaging for his Dec. 5 WorldNetDaily column turned up the following adjective to describe Al Sharpton: "endozoic."

Massie then goes on to suggest that Sean Bell, the man killed in a hail of 50 bullets from New York police officers, had it coming to him: "The death of Bell, was, in a word, the tragic (even if predictable) end of a wasted life. ... Bell, at the very best, left behind children out of wedlock and a life of crime, drugs and guns. It is doubtful (albeit unconfirmed at this writing) if he finished high school. He had no real job and no real prospects for the future." But in a CYA move, Massie added: "And no, I'm not saying he should have been gunned down by police in the street – unless they were acting in self-defense." Uh, sure...

Posted by Terry K. at 1:32 AM EST
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Kincaid Still Dissembling on Secret Prisons
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Cliff Kincaid uses his Dec. 5 Accuracy in Media column to make yet another attempt at explaining why those CIA secret prisons aren't really "secret prisons" and that President Bush never acknowledged their existence. And he doesn't succeed any more better than his previous attempts.

Much of Kincaid's latest effort -- as with his previous efforts -- is based on pure assertion, this time backed up by a press briefing by White House press secretary Tony Snow saying (nearly two months ago), "I don't believe anybody has ever talked about secret prisons. That is a -- they've talked about detention facilities. Whether they qualify as secret prisons, or not, I don't know." Despite Snow's "I don't know" qualifier, Kincaid then insisted that "Bush never acknowledged or admitted the existence of any secret prisons." Kincaid concluded: "That's why Snow responded that what the President actually said is that these were people who were detained. Snow was right. The media were wrong."

Kincaid began his column by writing, "We have talked about it before many times, and we have to talk about it again." We know the feeling. As long as Kincaid insists there were no CIA secret prisons (even though people were imprisoned, and it was kept secret), we have to write about his little semantic games.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:31 PM EST
WND: No Compassion Allowed for Illegal Immigrants
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 5 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh attacks a West Palm Beach, Florida, TV station for soliciting donations of goods for two families left homeless after a fire destroyed their home. Why is that a bad thing? Because the families entered the country illegally.

Unruh repeatedly complains that the station did not identify the families as "illegal aliens." The word "alien" appears six times in the article and photo caption, while the word "immigrant" appears only once in the article and once in the headline. Lest we think that WND is merely objectively reporting a story (something it has rarely been accused of), look at how it framed this question:

An assignment editor with the station, David Gould, was contacted by WND and asked how the station decides which stories to become advocates for, why the original report didn't note the families are illegals, should the station be soliciting on behalf of those who are breaking the law and how it is decided when reporters should admonish viewers as to how they should respond.

Since it's Unruh's byline on this article, it's presumably Unruh who asked these questions. This is a guy who worked for the Associated Press for nearly 30 years?

The compassion-free zone for anyone who's not a) an American citizen or b) a Christian extends to today's WND poll, which asks, "What do you think of a TV station raising money for illegals burned out of home?" At last check, the leading answer by a wide margin was, " I hope any money they raise goes for one-way airfare home."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:48 AM EST
Meanwhile ...
Topic: NewsBusters

Gal Beckerman at CJR Daily reminds us what the whole Associated Press "authorized source" controversy that NewsBusters is promoting is really all about:

It is important to get to the truth here. But the point is that the bloggers and the U.S. Army, who reflexively denied the initial account, did so not because they were concerned with accuracy. They picked on it because they saw a chance to use a potentially false story -- though it seems clear now that it might be true after all -- as a way of throwing into question all the reporting from Iraq and, more specifically, undermining the characterization of the situation in the country as abysmal.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:30 AM EST
Finkelstein Misleads on Murtha's 'Megalomania' (?)
Topic: NewsBusters

Mark Finkelstein is just not gonna admit that Rep. John Murtha has a point about the situation in Iraq. From Finkelstein's Dec. 4 NewsBusters post:

'Today' invited John Murtha in for a victory lap this morning, and the Dem congressman from PA responded with breathtaking megalomania seasoned with anti-Americanism. Calling America "the enemy" in Iraq, he preened over having been "way ahead" and demanded the US now "take my advice."

Finkelstein then repeats himself, throwing that M-word out again: "Murtha later took his megalomania one step further. After calling the United States 'the enemy' in Iraq, he claimed 'it's time to take my advice.' " But Finkelstein's claim that Murtha "call[ed] the United States 'the enemy' in Iraq" is taken out of context. Here's what Murtha actually said, according to the video attached to the item:

MURTHA: We're adding to terrorism because we're the occupiers. We've become the enemy, and we're caught in a civil war. Who's paying the price --

MATT LAUER: But if you have a weak government there that can't quite protect its own people, doesn't it become a safe haven for terrorism?

MURTHA: It's the opposite. They'll get rid of the terrorists. The terrorists are there because of us. There was no terrorism before we went it. There was no Al Qaeda. There was no weapons of mass destruction. They have come there because the United States is the target. We're inciting terrorism by being in Iraq. We need to change direction, we need to redeploy our troops, and a very small percentage of people in this country are paying the sacrifice. It's easy to sit back here, Matt, and say "Stay the course." It's chaos already. We lost nine or 10 people over the weekend, Americans, and the Iraqis been killed -- mass killings by the Iraqis, so it's time to take my advice.

As you can see, what Murtha said is a lot different that what Finkelstein claimed he said. And it certainly isn't "megalomania"; such demonizing makes it hard to take Finkelstein seriously, however much he likes to tout that he "recently returned from Iraq" (where he used his platform to attack imaginary claims that American politicians want "abrupt withdrawal" of U.S. troops from Iraq).

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EST
Monday, December 4, 2006
Al Brown Won't Stop Hiding Truth About AP
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec. 4 NewsBusters post by Al Brown not only fails to give the Associated Press' side of the story in asserting that the AP's reporting from Iraq is "discredited" -- as is his habit -- he goes on to insist that a New York Times article on the controversy doesn't ask "the most troubling question of all: whether or not al Qaeda propagandists are using the Western media to foment civil war in Iraq." (Italics his.)

Of course, nowhere does Brown offer any evidence that the AP is, in fact, using "al Qaeda propagandists" in its reporting. He also doesn't ask why the U.S. military or the Iraqi government is inherently more trustworthy as a source of "authorized" information about goings-on in Iraq. In fact, Brown goes on to laud the efforts of the Iraq Interior Ministry in discrediting any source it doesn't approve of as not offering "real, true news," claiming that it has a "legitimate interest in seeing that rumors and disinformation propagated by their enemies are not being published as 'news.' "

All of Brown's fulminations that the AP is reporting "rumors and disinformation" ignores the fact that the AP found witnesses to the burning of six Sunnis and is standing by one source for that story, Jamil Hussein. Why is it so difficult for Brown to admit that little fact? Perhaps because by ignoring something that less than black-and-white, he's able to throw words like "discredited" around, even though no such determination has been made by anyone without a partisan (conservative bloggers) or personal (CENTCOM and the Iraq Interior Ministry) stake in the story.

Is it too much to ask for Brown to admit the full truth about the AP? Apparently so.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:10 PM EST
Lack of Disclosure Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 2 WorldNetDaily article promoting the latest anti-liberal children's book by Katharine DeBrecht fails to note that it has a business relationship with the book's publisher, World Ahead Publishing. As a Nov. 28 WND article notes, World Ahead will be "exclusive distributor of WND Books beginning Jan. 1, 2007."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:26 AM EST
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Bartholomew details the background of Charl van Wyk, author of a new WorldNetDaily-published book which purports to make "a biblical, Christian case for individuals arming themselves with guns." Turns out he's linked to an evangelist named Peter Hammond, who apparently once took his children out on Halloween to shoot paintballs at trick-or-treaters, because they consider Halloween to be an "occult holiday celebrating human sacrifice, witches and goblins."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:07 AM EST
NewsBusters Still Not Telling AP's Side of the Story
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec.. 3 NewsBusters post by Al Brown continues NewsBusters' streak of ignoring or downplaying the other side of the story regarding the Associated Press' use of what Brown calls a "bogus" source, Jamil Hussein, in stories from Iraq. The Boston Herald columnist bashing the AP at least notes that AP is standing by its story -- but Brown doesn't include that in his excerpt of the column.

A Dec. 3 NewsBusters post by Robin Boyd takes a similar tack, pounding the AP for using "one of the unauthorized sources from CentCom's list." Why is it CentCom's business what sources the AP uses? It's not like the U.S. military has a stellar record of telling journalists the truth.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 AM EST
Sunday, December 3, 2006
FrontPageMag Misleads About Democratic Intel Staffer
Topic: Horowitz

In a Dec. 1 article attacking the New York Times for "publicizing classified information that undermines our allies in the War on Terror," Ben Johnson wrote:

The closest the administration has come to plugging the source of these covert disclosures came when the House Intelligence Committee suspended Democratic staffer Larry Hanauer upon suspicions he leaked a classified National Intelligence Estimate report on Iraq. However, last week outgoing Chairman Pete Hoekstra, R-MI, dropped an investigation and "restored" Hanauer’s security clearance.

But Johnson failed to tell the whole story about Hanauer's suspension and reinstatement -- namely, that there was never any substantive evidence linking Hanauer to the NIE leak -- only that he requested a copy of the NIE shortly before the Times wrote about it, and even though Hanauer swore out an affadavit stating that he played no role in the leak. In fact, Republican Rep. Ray LaHood admitted on Fox News that Hanauer's suspension was done in retaliation "because Jane Harman [a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee] released the Duke Cunningham ... report."

While Johnson implies guilt on Hanauer's part, even the Washington Post article to which he links points out that Hanauer signed that affidavit. Johnson offers no evidence that Hanauer played any role in the leak.

Johnson, you may recall, was the author of a error-filled report about Teresa Heinz Kerry's charitable giving. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:20 PM EST
Another Shocker: WND Allows Atheist to Rebut Articles
Topic: WorldNetDaily

What has gotten into the ConWeb? It's coming down with a severe case of fair journalism. First, CNS debunks a false conservative talking point; now, WorldNetDaily allows one of the targets of its "news" coverage to comment -- and lets it stand without additional comment.

Not just any target, mind you; we're talking Michael Newdow, the atheist best known for trying to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance -- and who also briefly sued WND for libel in 2003 (Newdow later dropped the lawsuit).

So, it's surprising to see on WND's commentary page a Dec. 2 column by Newdow in which he criticizes WND's reporting of his legal actions to remove "In God We Trust" as a national motto as "quite misleading." From his column:

WND's assertion that "Newdow has admitted that ... [he] ... wants to ... install his own belief system that does not acknowledge God" is similarly misleading. By focusing on the elimination of "acknowledgments" of God's existence, it is implied that it is atheism ("his own belief system") that I seek to have government endorse. But the fact is that if the government adhered to my atheistic views and claimed that God is a myth, I would demand the elimination of that assertion as well. The "belief system" I'm striving to uphold is the one based on equality, not on any religious opinion – including my own. The real question is not why I am fighting for that "belief system" (i.e., equality), but why others are fighting against it.

That I'm for "[b]anning references to God or Christianity in the public sphere" is yet another bogus contention. Let me be clear on this: I want God and Christianity in the public sphere.


But the right of individuals and groups to voice their own religious opinions is very different from the "right" to have the government join them in their endeavors. In fact, that posited "right" is no right at all; it is precisely what the Establishment Clause prohibits. In other words, when it comes to religious issues, that "public sphere" belongs only to the public, not the government.

Granted, WND buried Newdow's column on a low-readership weekend, but the fact that it not only ran it as a archived column rather than a letter to the editor that will disappear within a week, but also ran it unchallenged, says something (though we're not sure what) about a possible change in WND's standards. Are they tacitly admitting their articles were wrong or misleading? That's not something WND normally does; as we've noted, when WND's Aaron Klein suggested that Fox News paid a ransom for two kidnapped reporters, it went on the defensive, took refuge in word-parsing and denied that Klein suggested such a thing (though he did). If it means that WND is taking its journalistic endeavors a little more seriously -- and accurately -- that's a good thing.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 AM EST
Saturday, December 2, 2006
NewsBusters Again Ignores AP's Defense of Story
Topic: NewsBusters

While NewsBusters' Greg Sheffield doesn't share fellow NewsBuster Tim Graham's "macaca" obsession, he does share his penchant for ignoring inconvenient facts.

In a Dec. 2 post claiming that the Associated Press "used a government source that doesen't exist," Sheffield excerpted a UK Guardian article stating that the Iraq government "wants to make sure the AP and other media outlets cannot get away with similar fraudulent activity" by forming a "press monitoring unit." But Sheffield's excerpt of the Guardian article in his post stops when it gets to AP's defense:

AP rejected the accusation and said it does not pay for information. In a statement, AP's executive editor Kathleen Carroll said the reporter concerned had been in regular contact with the Captain for more than two years, often meeting in his police station in west Baghdad. Other witnesses to the attack had also been interviewed.

"The Iraqi spokesman said today that reporting on the such atrocities 'shows that the security situation is worse than it really is.' He is speaking from a capital city where people are gunned down in their cars, dragged from their homes or blown apart in public places every single day," said Ms Carroll.

"Good reporting relies on more than government-approved sources. We stand behind our reporting."

NewsBusters bloggers have a history of downplaying or ignoring AP's claims and reporting in standing by its story of six Sunnis burned alive and its source, Jamil Hussein.

Further, in placing his faith in military authorities, Sheffield ignores the U.S. military's history of distortion of news from Iraq, as David Neiwert details:

The cold reality, backed up by case after case, is that the information being released by the American military in Iraq for the duration of this misbegotten war has been not merely PR on steroids, but a psy ops operation targeting the Iraqi population only tangentially. Its chief target all along has been the American public.

The first people to come into conflict with such operatations have always been journalists, particularly those trying honestly to do their jobs. This has always been the case, and will always be so.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:02 PM EST
Graham Praises Will's Column, Fails to Note It's Misleading
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec. 1 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham praised George Will for writing a "brutal column" about Virginia Sen.-elect Jim Webb and "scouring him for being rude to President Bush at a reception" (though was critical of him for waiting until after the election to do so and bashing Will for "scouring Sen. George Allen ... seven days before the election"). But Graham failed to note the misleading nature of Will's column on Webb.

As Media Matters and Greg Sargent point out, in describing an exchange between Webb and President Bush, Will omitted a phrase uttered by Bush that would help to explain to readers why Webb was somewhat testy with the president. Will wrote:

Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."

Sargent noted:

Will cut out the line from the President where he said: "That's not what I asked you." In Will's recounting, that instead became a sign of Bush's parental solicitousness: "The president again asked 'How's your boy?' "

Will's change completely alters the tenor of the conversation from one in which Bush was rude first to Webb, which is what the Post's original account suggested, to one in which Webb was inexplicably rude to the President, which is how Will wanted to represent what happened.

Graham also continues his obsession with the George Allen "macaca" incident, bashing not only Will but the Weekly Standard for being critical of Allen before the election, in which he lost to Webb: "As with the Weekly Standard and their George Allen-bashing cover this fall, when you help make the 'Macaca majority,' then you should look in the mirror before despairing over the man you helped usher in."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, December 2, 2006 10:36 AM EST

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