'Escalation' vs. 'Surge' Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 9 MRC CyberAlert item (and Jan. 8 NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker claimed that referring to President Bush's proposed increase of troops in Iraq as an "escalation" was "Democratic terminology," while calling it a "surge" was "more Bush-friendly." Baker doesn't explain why; but as Media Matters points out, the term "surge" implies a shorter-term increase than what has been reported as the expected tenure for the additional troops.
But not all conservatives are on board with that. From Tony Blankley's Jan. 10 Washington Times column:
The expected troop increase in Iraq is not a surge -- a surge being a transient, sudden rise. There is no plausible military theory which would rely on a brief increase in troop strength followed by the immediate withdrawal of such troops from Iraq.
The troops would surely be in theatre for an indefinite period. The words escalation, reinforcements or higher sustained troop levels would all be honest. The word "surge" is deceptive.
Baker also doesn't explain why "escalation" is "Democratic terminology" when it's arguably a more accurate term to describe Bush's plans than "surge."
One press report says that a rift has developed between Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his Pentagon allies, who want a military/American administration, much like MacArthur’s very successful occupation of Japan after World War II, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, who reportedly wants more civil (read State Department) and international (read U.N.) involvement.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has openly stated that he wants the U.N. to administer a post-Saddam Iraq, and the courageous PM has gone on his own little jihad to see this happen.
What are Powell and Blair smoking?
Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the U.N. as being a viable international forum of diplomacy, and find ways to diminish, not increase, its role in world affairs.
-- Christopher Ruddy, April 7, 2003, NewsMax column
One thing appears certain, however: A surge in troop levels is not the answer.
Instead, the United States should seek to create a multinational force or United Nations force that could replace American troops during a phased withdrawal, followed by the creation of a strong and secular military in Iraq, one with close ties to the United States and NATO.
More Selective Editing From Finkelstein Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein is becoming quite the master at selectively editing the transcripts he posts to bolster his claims. He does so again in a Jan. 8 post depicting a debate between MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and "smart and plucky" author Bob Kohn (who repeated a false MRC claim about ex-New York Times editor Howell Raines in his WorldNetDaily-published Times-bashing book). From Finkelstein's item:
Kohn kicked off the exchange with Joe this way:
"I watched NBC Nightly News, and Brian Williams this evening had a story about Bush's proposal to increase troops in Iraq. He had three experts on the air discussing that proposal. Not one of those experts supported Bush's plan. They all were against it. So that's bias."
Scarborough's first ploy was to assert that in light of weak public support for the surge "it's kind of hard to get somebody that's going to go on as an expert that's going to support a troop surge."
Kohn laughed that lame line out of the water: "Oh, come on, Joe. Tell me that NBC News couldn't find one person in Washington, one expert, who could have supported the administration. Give me a break."
Defeated on that notion, Scarborough hit a new low with this outlandish assertion: "I guess the more important question is: should they? When you're talking about a surge where all five Joint chiefs are opposed to it, where 12% of Americans support it?"
Finkelstein abruptly ends his transcript there. But the exchange continued, and Scarborough hinted at why he took that position:
KOHN: Three of—no, that's not fair and balanced. You have three experts on. You can have one of them that supports it.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? I will remember this, Bob, the next time we have a position where conservatives are on the side of 90 percent of the American population, and you complain because NBC News puts one liberal and one conservative on there.
Finkelstein apparently doesn't disagree with Scarborough's contention that conservatives regularly complain when a liberal is allowed to weigh in on a conservative issue that most of the country supports.
Finkelstein went on to assert that Scarborough engaged in "panel-packing ... with Kohn left to assert NBC's liberal bias alone," but he doesn't note how Scarborough ended the segment, laughing as he did so:
SCARBOROUGH: All right. We've got to go. Bob Kohn, I'm usually with you. You're usually on the side of the angels. Tonight, though, we knew that you were so powerful, we teamed up on you three to one, just to prove how liberal we really were. Well, I'm a conservative, right? So I think it's two conservatives, two liberals. But you did a great job. I appreciate you being here tonight. Sorry to team up on you.
Finally, in calling Scarborough "so sycophantish, even Keith Olbermann might have been embarassed by it" in defending his network against "charges of liberal bias" by Bill O'Reilly, Finkelstein ignored the claim by panelist Paul Waldman from Media Matters (full disclosure: my employer) that it had found "over 1,100 instances of conservative misinformation" on NBC and MSNBC.
The full clips and transcripts of shows like these are easily found online. Finkelstein should know better than to edit out stuff that conflicts with his argument.
WND Hides Full Story on Berger Report Topic: WorldNetDaily
It should be no surprise by now that WorldNetDaily will avoid telling all the facts about a story when those facts refect poorly on its political agenda. And so it is with a Jan. 9 article on a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report claiming that former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger "went to extraordinary lengths to compromise national security and that the Department of Justice could not assure the 9/11 commission it received requested documents."
A Jan. 10 Washington Post article includes important details that WND didn't:
The report was issued only by Republicans on the committee, not the entire committee.
WND quoted Republican Rep. Tom Davis as saying that "the Justice Department's assertion that Berger's statements are credible after being caught is 'misplaced,' " but the Post article states: "The Justice Department said yesterday that it had no evidence Berger's actions had deprived the commission of any documents."
Davis is the only person quoted in the WND article and sought no response from Berger or anyone else named in the report. The Post article, in addition to getting a response from the Justice Department, got responses from Berger's attorney and the National Archives.
So Much for Not Taking a Position on Global Warming Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 4 Media Research Center press release quotes Brent Bozell: "As anyone who has read our reports knows, the MRC has not taken a position on global warming." We're not sure what "reports" Bozell is referring to, but when the vast majority of MRC's global warming-related content that we've seen is devoted to attacking the idea, it's hard to claim with a straight face that it has "not taken a position."
Take, for example, a Jan. 9 NewsBusters post by Rich Noyes -- no mere blogging schmo, he's the MRC's research director. According to Noyes, the NBC Nightly News, after reporting that the unusually mild winter in some parts of the country on El Nino, "flip-flopped" after "a handful of lilberal complainers" proceded to "whine" and spew "mean-spirited idiocy," "repudiated" the original report. Global warming supporters "whine" and are "mean-spirited"? Nope, no "taking a position" there.
Further, Nightly News host Brian Williams hardly "repudiated" the original report. As the transcript Noyes supplied demonstrates, an updated report served up what Williams called "the rest of the story" (we thought the MRC believed in telling all relevant sides of a story). The report went on to note that "[m]any experts say" global warming "plays a part," adding: "So the unusual warmth in the Northeast could partly be the result of global warming. Indeed, even the heavy snow in the Rockies this year might be partly caused by global warming."
As the italicized phrases show, the report couched the global warming link in large doses of speculation -- hardly the "repudiation" Noyes claims it is; Noyes, meanwhile, offers no evidence that global warming is not involved.
So a top MRC official belittles global warming supporters and attacks a TV network for merely acknowledging the possibility that global warming exists -- and somehow that is not having "taken a position on global warming."
WND Still Peddling Dubious 'Darwin=Hitler' Claim Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a Jan. 9 article referencing "Hitler-type 'designer' babies," WorldNetDaily once again brings up D. James Kennedy's program "Darwin's Deadly Legacy." While the article notes that the program was controversial, but failing to go into details:
One of the biggest supporters of eugenics was Adolf Hitler, according to a program called "Darwin's Deadly Legacy", a Coral Ridge Ministries production featuring more than a dozen experts in various fields talking about the connections between Darwin's theories, eugenics, Hitler and abortion.
Its premise is that Darwin's thinking changed the world's perception of people, so instead of considering them made in God's image, they became just another organism. Bloggers Internet-wide as well as the Anti-Defamation League launched their criticism in pointed phrases when the airing was announced.
D. James Kennedy, the Coral Ridge founder, suggested, "No Darwin, no Hitler."
But as we documented when the program first aired, WND glossed over accusations that Kennedy's Coral Ridge ministry misled one participant about the nature of the program, which was one gist of the criticism from "bloggers Internet-wide as well as the Anti-Defamation League" to which WND alludes. Coral Ridge ultimately agreed to remove that participant from future airings of the program.
Another criticism of the program was that it conflated evolution and social Darwinism and ignored evidence that such concepts preceded Darwin; as one blogger pointed out: "Racism, anti-semitism, and ethnic cleansing long preceded Darwin, and the idea of selection was common to anyone who had domesticated and bred plants and animals."
Even some conservatives criticized the program. One columnist for Alan Keyes' Renew America website wrote, "I felt totally disappointed and regretful that I had recommended this program to Christian families. It appeared hastily put together and thinly disguised to promote authors and their books."
The article also curiously states: "Producer Jerry Newcomb said the show included WND columnist Ann Coulter, who also wrote the bestselling 'Godless: The Church of Liberalism.' " Why attribute that claim to the show's producer? Didn't anyone at WND watch the program?
Finally, the article repeats a defense of the program from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, thus providing another missed opportunity for WND to note Lapin's involvement with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. How does WND ever hope to "personal virtue and good character" if it treats scandal-tarred figures such as Lapin as legitimate conservative spokesmen?
WND Silent on Columnist's Attempt at Censorship Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily is fond of portraying any purported abridgement of religious freedom as "censorship," and it claims to be "faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society." But it has yet to weigh in on one recent censorship attempt involving one of its own columnists.
Perhaps that's because the columnist, Melanie Morgan, is acting as the censor and not the censored. ABC Radio -- the owner of San Francisco station KSFO, the home of Morgan's radio show -- sent a cease-and-desist letter to a blogger named Spocko, who had posted clips of extremist comments made by Morgan, her co-host Lee Rodgers, and other KSFO hosts, claiming that he was violating KSFO's copyright (while ignoring the same doctrine of "fair use" that WND has claimed in its wholesale lifting of stories it takes from other sources and sticks under a WND byline). Shortly thereafter, Spocko's Internet hosting service shut down Spocko's blog.
Since then, Spocko has launched a new blog, and his audio clips are spreading across the Internet.
If WND is truly "faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society," why isn't it running to Spocko's defense? Perhaps because it's more important to bury bad news about one of its columnists.
Who (Really) Is Avigdor Lieberman? Topic: CNSNews.com
You'd think that a column headlined "Who Is Avigdor Lieberman?" would, you know, tell us who Avigdor Lieberman is.
But Alan Caruba's Jan. 8 CNSNews.com column manages to avoid doing that -- at least, fail to tell the important stuff. While Caruba tells us that Lieberman is a "soft-spoken fellow" who is an Israeli deputy prime minister and who "has been credited with revitalizing Likud," a conservative Israeli party, Caruba doesn't note that Lieberman is a founder and member of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, who thought Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu granted too many concessions to the Palestinians.
Caruba writes that Lieberman "wants the Arabs out of Israel" and "wants Israel's Arabs to take a loyalty oath" and that he "believes Arabs would be happier living among other Arabs." Caruba calls Lieberman "radical," but he doesn't say just how radical an anti-Arab Lieberman is. According to Wikipedia:
In 2002, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Lieberman in a Cabinet meeting saying that the Palestinians should be given an ultimatum that "At 8am we'll bomb all the commercial centers...at noon we'll bomb their gas stations...at two we'll bomb their banks....” In 2003, Ha'aretz reported that Lieberman called for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel to be drowned in the Dead Sea and offered to provide the buses to take them there. In May 2004, he said that 90 percent of Israel's 1.2 million Arabs would "have to find a new Arab entity" in which to live beyond Israel's borders. "They have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost," he said.
This gets closer to a correct answer to the question "Who Is Avignor Lieberman?" than Caruba's fawning, soft-pedaled portrayal.
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?