In a Jan. 8 NewsBusters post, Bob Owens -- like his NewsBusters compadre Warner Todd Huston -- is all too eager to distract folks from the fact that his claim that Associated Press source Jamil Hussein didn't exist has been proven to be false. Rather than question why the Iraq Interior Ministry flip-flopped and suddenly confirmed Hussein's existence after weeks of denying it (and folks like him unquestioningly believing it), Owens bashes "the Leftist swarm" for "conflat[ing] Hussein's ability to exist with the veracity of his claims."
Shouldn't Owens be more concerned about why he took the Iraqis' false claim that Hussein didn't exist at face value? As recently as Jan. 3, Owens was chastising the AP for standing by Hussein "even after the Iraqi Interior Ministry Officially stated that the AP's source, Captain Jamil Hussein, simply didn't exist, and that no one by that name ever worked at the two police stations where AP said he did." Yet he apparently feels no need to apologize for trusting someone who was peddling a claim now proven false.
Indeed, now he refuses to take the Interior Ministry at its word:
This is a fascinating "fact," in that Kazamiyah Hospital does not have a morgue, but instead a freezer, as stated by the same Iraqi General that now vouches for Jamil Hussein's existence. Any dead at Kazamiyah Hospital are transported by the police to the Medical Jurisprudence Center at Bab Almadham. Is this general credible, or not? I'll leave that for you to decide.
Wait -- Owens and other conservative bloggers have spent the past month presenting the Interior Ministry's claim that Hussein didn't exist as unimpeachable. Is he suddenly doubting the Interior Ministry now because of its Hussein flip-flop -- or because AP cited it as a source?
If it's the latter, that seems to indicate that Owens is less concerned with accuracy than with the conservative goal of trying to discredit AP.
Owens also bashed the AP for leaving out "a very important detail" listed in Wikipedia on an organization, the Association of Muslim Scholars, cited in one article -- that it is "believed to have strong links with Al-Qaeda terrorists." But Wikipedia's claim is followed by "[citation required], meaning that the claim has not been substantiated, and Owens offers no other evidence. He then claims that AP should have mentioned those "strong alleged tie[s]," ignoring the fact that if they were genuinely "strong," they wouldn't have to be qualified as "alleged."
NewsBusters Selectively Outraged Over Journalist Contact with Terrorists Topic: NewsBusters
Robin Boyd is shocked -- shocked! -- that a news service would contact a terrorist. From her Jan. 4 NewsBusters post:
Okay - Reuters has email contact with Mullah Omar, Taliban chief, fugitive, terrorist, etc. and reports it as if it is no big deal. What the heck is wrong with this picture? Where did Reuters get the email address from - Omar's MySpace page? Has Reuters shared this email address with the authorities - i.e. the military hunting for terrorists? Or is the email addy for personal communication only. Which Reuters' employee was involved with the email communication?
Why do we continue to tolerate this blatant terrorist enabling so-called media organization? These journalists are responsible for "telling us the story" from the front of the war on terror. I just didn't realize it was only the terrorists' story they were interested in promoting.
What we want to know is, why isn't Boyd similarly outraged at WorldNetDaily for having similar contact with terrorists?
As late as last April, WorldNetDaily's mission statement read:
"WorldNetDaily.com is an independent newssite created to capitalize on new media technology, to reinvigorate and revitalize the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty, an exponent of truth and justice, an uncompromising disseminator of news.
"WorldNetDaily.com performs this function by remaining faithful to the central role of a free press in a free society: as a watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power - the mission envisioned by our founders and protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution."
"WorldNetDaily.com Inc. is an independent news company dedicated to uncompromising journalism, seeking truth and justice and revitalizing the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty. We remain faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society – as a light exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power.
"We also seek to stimulate a free-and-open debate about the great moral and political ideas facing the world and to promote freedom and self-government by encouraging personal virtue and good character."
We're guessing that WND is downplaying the stuff about being an "exponent of truth and justice" and "uncompromising disseminator of news" because, as we've repeatedlydocumented, it's neither of those things.
The "personal virtue and good character" blather is new, though, a reflection of its recent efforts to position itself as a moral arbiter, such as its dishonest flogging of Sexpidemic! But wouldn't WND have shown "personal virtue and good character" by telling its readers that it had made such a substantial change to its mission statement?
However, if WND did that, it would also have to require its staff to live up to that standard as well. Is Joseph Farah showing "personal virtue and good character" by plagiarizing the work of others and peddling dubious statistics? Is Aaron Klein showing "personal virtue and good character" when he undermines the government of the country where he lives during a time of war?
Farah and the rest of WND's staff are presumably good enough Christians to know the story of the woman accused of adultery brought before Jesus for judgment, which by Old Testament law was death by stoning; Jesus replied, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." WND should similarly get its own house in order before casting moral judgment on others.
Even More Conservative Media Blunders Topic: The ConWeb
Glenn Greenwald serves up a nice little list of dubious and outright false claims conservative bloggers have made of late. Let us bring the ConWeb into the mix and add a few more to that list:
-- Dan Riehl's false claim at NewsBusters that S.R. Sidarth made racial slurs.
-- WorldNetDaily's false claim -- taken from a April fool's post at Gawker and presented as fact -- that Michael Schiavo sold the TV movie rights to the Terri Schiavo story.
-- NewsMax's false claim that U2 was holding a fund-raiser for Rick Santorum, followed by its false denial that it never made the claim.
-- Aaron Klein's vitriolic, error-laden attack on an Islamic charity, which WorldNetDaily was forced to retract.
-- WND author Paul L. Williams' apparently false attacks on Canada's McMaaster University, which WND has only partially retracted thus far.
Greenwald writes of the bloggers: "They operate in a credibility-free zone where there are never any consequences for their mistakes because the partisans who read them will always dismiss every one of these unfair smears on the media as well-intentioned." Indeed, we've seen no evidence that anyone at NewsMax, WND or the MRC has suffered any consequences as a result of the above false claims.
Warner, Al, Bob, Greg: Just Admit It Topic: NewsBusters
Warner Todd Huston, in a Jan. 5 NewsBusters post, was eager to change the subject upon the news that Iraqi officials, after weeks of denying, now admits that Jamil Hussein -- source for several Associated Press articles -- does in fact exist. Rather than admitting that he and his fellow conservative bloggers were wrong and questioning the veracity of those officials whose word they treated as gospel, Huston insisted that "it is not yet assured that this person is, indeed, the 'capt. Jamil Hussein' the AP used as a source" and that "it's only a start toward solving the controversies surrounding this AP story." He goes on to list "central points of the story" that do not include "Why did the Iraqi Interior Ministry deny Hussein's existence for weeks, then suddenly change their minds?"
NewsBusters posters Al Brown, Bob Owens and Greg Sheffield were among the most vocal proponents of the now-discredited AP-Hussein story; none of them have posted a thing at NewsBusters on the subject since the Interior Ministry's flip-flop. Will they ever correct the record and admit that they were wrong, like they demand when "mainstream" journalists make mistakes?
Finkelstein Misleads on Matthews' 'Anger' Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 4 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein claims there was a "a very rare display of real anger" between Chris Matthews and Matt Lauer during MSNBC's coverage of the swearing-in of the new Democratic-controlled Congress. In Finkelstein's words (boldface and italics are his):
Lauer: "Well, but, you say they're going to try to finesse it. In reality, Chris, they don't have a choice. What are they going to do, suggest they cut funding while troops are still in the ground in Iraq? They can't do that."
That got Matthews's Irish up. Clearly flashing some anger, he responded: "Well, that's a political assessment by you, Matt. I think the Democrats have to decide whether they want to climb aboard this catastrophe or not."
That transcript, and the video Finkelstein supplies, conveniently cuts off at that point -- thus avoiding having to show evidence that undermines his claim about Matthews' "anger." Here's the full excerpt of what Matthews said:
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s a political assessment by you, Matt. I think the Democrats have to decide whether they wanna climb aboard this catastrophe or not. Do they want to be partners in the continued war in Iraq? That’s a tough call. I agree with you. It’s a tough call to say, “We’re gonna stand up to the president, say he cannot fight the war the way he wants to fight it.” But the other alternative is that they go along with the war, and they become partners in this war for the next two years.
That's right -- mere seconds after Matthews was purportedly "angry" with Lauer, Matthews said to him, "I agree with you." That doesn't sound very angry to us. And even the truncated video Finkelstein supplies doesn't exactly show the anger he claims is there; the boldfacing and italicizing he added to the transcript isn't reflected in what they say.
Finkelstein tries to finesse it by claiming, "Matthews later struck a more conciliatory tone with Lauer, but the initial anger was unmistakable." Well, no. If Finkelstein had supplied his readers with the full video, they would have seen that, too.
Finkelstein has been on a Matthews-bashing tear of late, insisting that Matthews is a unreformed liberal (despite ampleevidence to the contrary):
From a Jan. 3 post: " As a former aide to Tip O'Neill, Chris Matthews is accustomed to offering advice to Democratic Speakers of House.
A Jan. 5 post asks, "Has anyone checked the video to see if Chris Matthews was part of Cindy Sheehan's noisy protest that brought Rahm Emanuel's press conference to a halt the other day at the Capitol? Because Matthews has been on an absolute anti-war rampage."
Another Jan. 5 post attacks Matthews through NBC's Andrea Mitchell: "With due respect to Mitchell, whose scrappiness I admire, if someone won't admit that Chris Matthews is liberal, why should we believe her when she tells us it's raining?"
Right back atcha, Mark: If you can't admit that Matthews has also attacked liberals and praised Republicans, why should we think that you're anything more than a demagogic automaton?
UPDATE: Finkelstein's biased misinformation continues: In a Jan. 6 post, he takes a swipe at NBC for its "official line" that Iraq is in a "civil war." But he -- either here or in a Nov. 27 post by him to which he links in support -- offers no evidence to refute NBC's claim.
NewsMax Still Promotes Misleading Claim on Pelosi Topic: Newsmax
A link on today's NewsMax front page reads, "Nancy Pelosi Doesn't Want You to Read This." It goes to a promotion for the November 2005 edition of NewsMax Magazine, which featured Peter Schweizer's liberal-bashing book "Do As I Say (Not As I Do)." At the top of the claims listed from Schweizer's book is:
California Democrat Nancy Pelosi receives large-scale financial support from organized labor – while she and her husband own a vineyard and stakes in a hotel and a restaurant chain that are all non-union shops.
As we reported, that's highly misleading. Not only does Pelosi treats her workers better than unionized vineyard workers, offering them higher-than-union wages, Pelosi is prohibited by law from helping her workers unionize. Further, Schweizer hilariously claimed that he's not obligated to research the claims he makes for their accuracy, which raises questions about the other claims in his book.
We predicted that NewsMax would do nothing to correct Schweizer's claim. It's nice to be proven right.
Kinsolving Hides Source of HUD Chief's Quote Topic: The Daily Les
According to a Jan. 5 WorldNetDaily article, Les Kinsolving asked the following question at a Jan. 4 White House briefing:
There's a news report quoting the Secretary of HUD, [Alphonso] Jackson, as saying that 'Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Julian Bond have created an industry. If we don't become victims, they have no income. White folks have nothing to do with the fact that seven out of every 10 black children born in this country are born out of wedlock and we have more black males in prison than we do in college.' And my question: Does the president disagree with this statement by his Secretary of HUD?
But neither Kinsolving nor WND disclose the source of that "news report": a fluff piece by Ronald Kessler at WND's rival, NewsMax. While, unlike NewsMax, WND reported Jackson's claim that he refused to award a government contract to a winning bidder who didn't like Bush, the article dismissed it as merely one of the "blunt expressions of his opinions" rather than the admission of cronyism WND purports to be opposed to when it purports a desire to expose "wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power."
In a media release dated June 8, 2006, regarding The Dunces of Doomsday, WND Books/Cumberland House Publishing made statements, including a statement contained in The Dunces of Doomsday, referring to the theft of 180 pounds of nuclear material at McMaster University, the infiltration of McMaster University by terrorists, and consequent risk to the public.
Those statements were without basis in fact. WND Books/Cumberland House Publishing unreservedly retract the statements in the June 8, 2006 media release and apologize to McMaster University.
WND made similar claims about McMaster University (a school in Hamilton, Ontario) in a June 5 article promoting "The Dunces of Doomsday" -- claims presumably also contained in the book. But the article is still live on the WND site, and no "disclaimer" (read: retraction) has been forthcoming there. Why is only the press release retracted and not the claim in Williams' book and the WND article? After all, the information in the press release presumably came from the book and/or the WND article. Curious.
Even more curious, WND hasn't reported a thing about the controversy between Williams and McMaster University -- something apparently serious enough that Williams has set up a legal defense fund, which claims that Williams "has been sued by McMaster University for $4 million plus punitive damages" and alleges the lawsuit has been "fuelled by Islamic contributions." The site further describes Williams as "such a true man of God. He is so dedicated to educate both Christians and Jews to what he knows is about to hit American soil." It adds: "Besides the funds Paul needs all the prayer warriors praying for this situation."
The website hasn't been updated since June, however, and the "disclaimer" at the WND Books site seems to be evidence that McMaster has a solid argument, and that Williams has lost a legal action somewhere along the way. When will it be applied to the WND site proper, as well as Williams' book?
A Jan. 4 NewsMax article notes for the umpteenth time that Sen. Robert Byrd was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
In this five-paragraph article, this non-news is mentioned twice -- in the first paragraph, in which concern is faked that "an 89-year-old former Klansman third in the line of presidential succession," and in the final paragraph, which does something NewsMax usually avoids: it notes that "He has admitted that his membership in the organization was 'wrong.' "
Did the Pope Really Say That? Topic: WorldNetDaily
From a Dec. 22 Catholic News Agency article on a speech by Pope Benedict XVI:
"At this point," he added, "I cannot fail to mention my concern over 'de facto' couples. ... When new legislation is created that relativizes marriage, the rejection of the definitive bond gains, so to speak, juridical endorsement." Moreover, "relativizing the difference between the sexes ... tacitly confirms those bleak theories which seek to remove all relevance from a human being's masculinity or femininity, as if this were a purely biological matter."
The Holy Father affirmed that, "herein is a contempt for corporeality whence it follows that man, in seeking to emancipate himself from his body (from the 'biological sphere'), ends up by destroying himself."
Against those who say that "the Church should not involve herself in these matters, we can only respond: does man not concern us too?" The church and believers "must raise their voices to defend man, the creature who, in the inseparable unity of body and spirit, is the image of God."
What WorldNetDaily, in a Dec. 28 article quoting the above, said the pope said:
In his most powerful statements to date on issues involving sexual morality, Pope Benedict XVI said homosexuals end up destroying themselves so the Church has a duty to speak out on moral issues that affect the very spiritual and physical lives of man.
Not quite. The pope didn't say that "homosexuals end up destroying themselves": he said that endorsement of same-sex unions -- " 'de facto' couples" in his words -- is a sign of "contempt for corpeality" in which "man ... ends up by destroying himself." Even though what WND may not be that far from what the pope believes, WND went far beyond the pope's actual words to make a claim his words don't support.
And Michael Savage bought into WND's misinterpretation.
Micah Morrison Resurfaces Topic: Washington Examiner
We see that Micah Morrison has contributed a two-part series to the Washington Examiner on what he called an "alleged conspiracy scheme of staggering proportions" involving a prominent class-action law firm. We haven't seen or heard from Morrison in quite a while; he has apparently left the employ of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, where he contributed notable amounts of Clinton-bashing copy. Besides freelancing, he is now an adviser to the Tenet Shareholder Committee, dedicated to bringing "corporate reform and improved performance to Tenet Healthcare Co., currently the second-largest private hospital company in the country."
As far as we're concerned, Morrison will always be remembered for his hilariously parsed defense of himself against claims made about his visits to Arkansas in Joe Conason and Gene Lyons' "The Hunting of the President": "This writer never was 'swaggering' around a Hot Springs fishing camp carrying 'semiautomatic pistols' or 'making noisy public displays' of dislike toward President Clinton in 'public places' -- or anywhere else for that matter."
There's A Reason They Were 'Underreported' Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 3 WorldNetDaily article details WND's annual "Operation Spike" list of "underreported stories of the last year." As always, the stories reflect WND's conservative agenda, with a special emphasis this year on things designed to sell other WND products or are, in fact, not real stories at all.
In first place is the purported merger of the U.S., Mexico and Canada into a North American "superstate" -- which, conveniently, the new issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine just happens to be about (and over which WND's Joseph Farah and Jerome Corsi are currently engaged in a flame war with conservative radio host Michael Medved).
In second place is the "wave of murders and other crimes by illegal aliens." in which it repeated the claim that "more Americans were murdered this year by illegal aliens than the combined death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since those military campaigns began." As we reported, the statistics WND used to back that claim are dubious, if not outright wrong.
In third place: Sexpidemic! "In one of the most sensational stories of the year, WND documented dozens of cases of female teachers having sex with their underage students – both male and female." But as we pointed out, WND offered serious evidence whatsoever that these are anything more than isolated cases over a period of 15 years.
In fourth place: Aaron Klein's terrorist buddies claiming that they wanted Democrats to win the midterm elections. The article claims that "it was obvious the terrorists would prefer the Democrats,"which ignores the fact that in the 2004 presidential election, intelligence agencies have concluded that Osama bin Laden's release of a videotape before the 2004 election -- which conservatives portrayed as an endorsement of John Kerry -- was in fact designed to get President Bush re-elected. The article further asserts that "WND alone among the major media actually canvassed key terror leaders." Wrong; it only talked to three, hardly a representative sample.
It seems these stories were "spiked" for good reason: They serve only to bolster Joseph Farah's personal and political agenda (or, in the case of Sexpidemic!, certain apparent proclivities we'd rather not know about).
Another piece of ConWeb work we overlooked during the holidays: Lowell Ponte's Dec. 27 NewsMax column on Gerald Ford. It's entertainingly laden with all sorts of liberal-bashing and conspiracy-mongering, such as claiming that "Democrats had controlled the Congress by one-party rule, not unlike Mexico's authoritarian PRI, since the early 1950s."
Ponte then portrays Richard Nixon as the victim of a "relentless campaign of propaganda by smear and innuendo" by the "liberal media" as revenge for Nixon's 1972 landslide re-election victory:
For leftists who had spent decades infiltrating and taking control of America's mainstream media, this humiliation by an anti-communist president was intolerable. If Nixon and conservative Republicans could not be defeated at the ballot box, the media determined to remove him by coup d'etat.
The Watergate burglary, Ponte wrote, was "a genuine crime but the kind of lawbreaking that Democratic presidents had engaged in routinely since the reign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt." Allegations in the media, he added, were "typically trivial or mere hearsay." Yeah, 30 Nixon administration officials being convicted on Watergate-related crimes is so trivial.
From there, it's a quick hop, skip and jump to bashing Jimmy Carter: "But the disaster of the media coup against Nixon and the ascent of Carter continues to plague America today." Why? Because Carter "withdrew U.S. support from the shah of Iran"; as a result, "Carter is responsible for 9/11 and the nearly 3,000 Americans who died in the World Trade Center other terrorist attacks that day."
Ponte adds, without evidence: "Carter's record inflation stole half the life savings of every American family." He then brings his readers in for a gentle landing: "But the nightmare of Carter's presidency was replaced in 1980 by the glorious sunrise of President Ronald Reagan."
Ponte's column carries the headline "President Ford and the Media's Revisionist History," but by glossing over the numerous Watergate crimes, Ponte appears to be the one serving up the revisionist history.
UPDATE: Oh, and did we mention that Ponte called Carter an "anti-Semitic incompetent"?
While doing only light blogging during the holidays, we totally missed the ongoing saga of WorldNetDaily columnist Jim Rutz trying to prove that soy makes you gay. As promised, in his Dec. 26 column, Rutz hones in on that claim. It's pretty clear that Rutz is cherry-picking studies to focus on the most alarming claims.
It's also clear that Rutz has no respect for homosexuals. He repeatedly invokes gay stereotypes and conservative anti-gay rhetoric in his column:
"Against my better judgment, I took a national TV interview last week. They handed a bowl of soy stuff to a guy in the studio audience. After he had munched for thirty seconds, the host asked him, 'Well, you startin' to feel kinda swishy yet?' Good comedy, but highly misleading."
"No study says that soy dooms a child to homosexuality, but it's not hard to believe that at some point during pregnancy babies are hardwired for sexual preference."
"In other words, a girl-chasing, football-playing college boy won't go gay even if he becomes a vegetarian or snacks all day on soy energy bars."
"My larger concern is that the increasing number of less robust 15-year-olds who are already "struggling with their sexual identity" will be shoved over that thin line into homosexuality. No, they won’t wake up some morning with floppy wrists and a nasal lisp, but they may begin to gravitate toward social circles where they feel more comfortable — and less expected to be rowdy or brag about a string of sexual conquests. And once a teen is ensconced in a homosexual milieu, breaking free from it could mean abandoning his best friends."
So "bragging about a string of sexual conquests" is somehow preferable to homosexuality? Somehow, we suspect that Rutz's boss, family man Joseph Farah, will not find that amusing.
UPDATE: Sadly, No! and its commenters simultaneously debunk and ridicule Rutz. And Seed Magazine points out that not only is there no research to indicate that soy consumption decreases penis size or makes people gay, "[t]here is some marmoset research showing that infants fed with soy formula milk experience puberty normally and have the same penis length as their twins," as well as greater testis weight. Seed adds:"Take that, James Rutz: Soy gives you big balls."