Mychal Massie's Jan. 16 WorldNetDaily column attacking Sen. Barbara Boxer's comments to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was predictably rantlike. Also predictable was Massie's failure to note one important fact: When Boxer noted that Rice had no children and thus would not pay a "personal price" for the Iraq war, she also pointed out that she herself would not pay a personal price because "[m]y kids are too old and my grandchild is too young." Does that excuse Boxer's remark to Rice? Not necessarily; but Massie's failure to report Boxer's full statement makes him an irresponsible columnist.
Similarly irresponsible: Massie, in his laundry list of attacks on Democrats, calls Sen. Robert Byrd an "unrepentant former Ku Klux Klan officer." In fact, as Slate's Timothy Noah points out, Byrd has apologized for his Klan past. Further, Massie glosses over Trent Lott's comments that if Strom Thurmond had been elected president on his 1948 Dixiecrat segregationist ticket, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over these years" as "jocund comments made at a birthday party." (By the way, Noah notes that Thurmond said as late as 1998 that "I don't have anything to apologize for" regarding his racism; asked if he thought the Dixiecrats were right, Thurmond said, "Yes, I do.")
Massie manages to keep his thesarus-plundering to a minimum this time, limiting himself to calling Boxer a "petulant harridan" and a "pettifogger."
NewsBusters Continues to Confuse TV, Reality Topic: NewsBusters
The folks at NewsBusters aren't content with taking their cues on media bias from StephenColbert. Now they want U.S. foreign policy to be based on "24."
A Jan. 16 post by Noel Sheppard notes that at the end of one recent episode, terrorists set off a nuclear device in Los Angeles (actually, he doesn't say that for spoiler reasons, but the accompanying screen capture of a mushrooom cloud pretty much gives it away), an "astounding event" after which he "was left speechless for several minutes." Sheppard then launches into an attack on the media:
Yet, upon reflection, I wonder how many people in the media understand how possible what was depicted last evening is. As folks on the nation’s airwaves continue to downplay the seriousness of terrorism, and undermine virtually all of the current Administration’s efforts to thwart conscienceless aggression against Western civilization, have they really pondered the unthinkable? Or, have they all grown complacent as we move continually further and further away from that fateful day in September 2001?
Regardless, this video should be required viewing for all media members who question what's at risk, and whether there really is a war on terror.
Does Sheppard also think that Jack Bauer should be secretary of state? He doesn't say.
UPDATE: Four hours later after gushing about "24," Sheppard criticizes Time magazine for raising the question of whether "24" is "a conservative show."
Accuracy in Media has a new writer, Andy Selepak, and he has a new study on media bias considered important enough by AIM that it's listed in his end-of-column bio and referenced by Selepak in a Jan. 1 column. So we took a look at it.
Selepak's study first appeared Nov. 6 as an "AIM Report" item. It purports to document "perceived bias" in the media. Selepak's conclusion: "With liberals being happy with the media, and because conservatives perceive a general media bias, the study suggests that the media in fact are liberal."
Further, Fox News somehow manages to escape any accusations of being conservative. While Selepak states that "The Fox News Channel has become Republicans' most credible source for the news among television and cable news outlets," that doesn't mean it's necessarily biased: He adds that "to an 'impartial observer,' " Fox News and CNN "were the most objective outlets tested."
Selepak also recycles a conservative trope in his evidence supporting the idea of a liberal media bias: "For example, a survey in 1992 showed that 89% of Washington, DC, journalists voted for President Clinton in the 1992 Presidential election." As we reported more than six years ago, that study really doesn't support that conclusion. The largest group of recipients of the questionnaire for that study was smaller papers often with only one reporter or 'bureau chief' in Washington who focuses on local issues and their local members of Congress, not the national issues that reporters for larger papers focus on, making discussion of how these reporters purported fashioned more favorable coverage for Bill Clinton than George H.W. Bush somewhat irrelevant because those reporters were not covering the presidential election to a significant extent.
Further, in documenting how conservatives find that "the media" has a liberal bias, Selepak fails to note the decades of conservative activism by groups like AIM and the Media Research Center -- and the millions of dollars they raise and spend -- designed to plant that very idea in the minds of conservatives. Such activism, particularly compared to a relative lack of it on the liberal side, would seem to be worth mentioning in a study about perceptions of media bias.
Nevertheless, AIM is apparently prepared to milk this study. Selepak summarizes it further in his Jan. 1 column: "The conclusion is inescapable that journalists' political and social beliefs have seeped into their news reporting. People believe what they see, and what they see is liberal bias. Case closed."
Of course, if you've been spending millions of dollars over 30 years telling people that the media is biased, that has an effect on what people believe they see -- in effect, putting a thumb on the scale of perception. That makes the case not as "closed" as Selepak would like it to be.
Joseph Farah uses his Jan. 15 WorldNetDaily column to plug his upcoming News Expo 2007, during which he promises "debates, interaction, Q&A, open mikes, opportunities to ask questions of newsmakers and newsbreakers alike." He asks:
I'd love to hear your suggestions on the kinds of stories you would like to see examined on the floor of NEWS EXPO 2007.
Which newsmakers would you most like to see?
Which journalists would you most like to meet?
Which bloggers would you most like to participate?
Which authors would you most like to hear?
Let me know.
We have an idea. How about inviting us to participate in a forum in which you or another WND employee defend WND's news coverage? After all, if Farah wants News Expo 2007 to address "certain stories – big stories, important stories – that never seem to get the attention they deserve," we would argue that among those is the journalistic standards of conservative media outlets. If Farah means to turn News Expo into one big lovefest for WND and its idea of stories "that never seem to get the attention they deserve" comes from its misleading list of "Operation Spike" stories, it becomes worthless as the journalistic enterprise that Farah purports it to be.
So, Mr. Farah: Are you really interested in having a News Expo that is "the ultimate extension of New Media involvement in the news"? Let us participate.
P.S. Farah urged early registration this way: "Springtime in Washington is the most attractive time for tourists because it's cherry blossom season. So you've got to plan ahead." But News Expo takes place May 11-12; the expected peak bloom time for cherry blossoms, as suggested by the dates for Washington's National Cherry Blossom Festival, is a month earlier.
Here's something WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein won't be reporting on anytime soon.
Remember Dov Hikind? He's the New York state assemblyman who pops up regularly in Klein's articles to bash Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert; Klein most recently featured Hikind's full-page ads in newspapers demanding that Olmert resign.
It turns out those ads are causing some trouble for Hikind. According to the New York paper The Jewish Week, the ads solicited donations for a group called Yad Moshe. But the ad instructed donors to send money not to the address of the charity but, rather, the headquarters of Hikind’s campaign finance committee. Not only does it apparently violate campaign finance law, it may violate charity law and could case Yad Moshe to lose its tax-exempt status.
Further, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, the head of Yad Moshe, pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 1996 and served 10 months in prison for the felony, not to mention being under investigation earlier this decade for securities fraud, according to The Jewish Week.
As we said, don't count on any of this showing up at WND. Like the extremistbackgrounds of the Kahane supporters he interviews (Hikind is also a Kahane disciple), such adverse information about an political ally simply dosen't exist as far as WND is concerned.
A Jan. 13 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein bashes Democratic Rep. Steven Kagen for having "insulted First Lady Laura Bush, President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and Karl Rove at a White House function for new members." We have no problem with that; Kagen appears to have that coming (though we suspect Finkelstein would be less disdainful of such "vulgar and unseemly actions" had the target been a Democrat). But then, Finkelstein also plays guilt by association -- because Kagen was once "the Allergy Consultant for CNN," that somehow means CNN is to blame for Kagen's remarks as well.
"You can take the man out of CNN - and stick him in Congress - but you can't take the CNN out of the man," Finkelstein writes, adding, "What kind of person would do something like this? The kind of person that CNN would hire to be a consultant."
Unless Finkelstein can prove that 1) Kagen is still CNN's allergy consultant; 2) Kagen was hired by CNN specifically because he was a Democrat; and 3) Kagen's comments for CNN on the subject of allergies were somehow liberally biased (after all, NewsBusters folks are doing their darndest to prove Stephen Colbert right, and the truth about allergies may indeed have a well-known liberal bias), CNN is irrelevant to this particular issue.
A Jan. 13 WorldNetDaily column by Rabbi Daniel Lapin is bad enough -- not only does it essentially claim that anyone who questions the political influence of the religious right is "anti-Christian," it goes on to liken such criticism to anti-Semitism.
But Lapin's presence at WND suggests that WND has signed on for the public rehabilitation of Lapin. As we've detailed, despite its claim to offer "hard-hitting investigative reporting of government waste, fraud and abuse," its coverage of corruption involving such conservatives as Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff was lethargic at best. And WND has never reported on the ties of Lapin's organization, Toward Tradition, to Abramoff (beyond noting Abramoff's presence on the group's advisory board in a 2002 article) -- Abramoff funneled money through the group to influence one political figure.
Far from shunning this scandal-tarred figure, WND ran five columns by Lapin in 2006, featured his support of a TV program that dubiously claimed that Hitler was Charles Darwin's fault, and promoted a blurb he supplied for WND managing editor David Kupelian's book, "The Marketing of Evil."
WND supposedly hates corruption. So why won't it report simple facts about Lapin?
Is NewsMax using its news coverage to oppose President Bush's plan to increase troops in Iraq?
On the heels of Christopher Ruddy's Jan. 11 editorial opposing the troop "surge" comes a Jan. 12 article by Dave Eberhart noting that the "surge" will be "more of a 'trickle' because "[o]ne of the reinforcing combat brigades is not scheduled to deploy to the chaotic country until May of 2007."
Morgan Covers Morgan Controversy for WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
Good news: the Spocko-Melanie Morgan controversy finally graces the website of WorldNetDaily. Bad news: it comes in the form of Morgan's WND column, in which she complains that "liberal censors" are trying to "silence" her and fails to mention either Spocko or the cease-and-desist letter sent by her employer, ABC, that resulted in Spocko's website getting shut down -- which sparked the current criticism of Morgan. She also claims that her critics are "misrepresenting my words" but offers no evidence to support her claim.
Morgan and her fellow radio hosts -- Lee Rodgers, Brian Sussman and Officer Vic -- are scheduled to address the controversy at noon Pacific time today on their San Francisco radio station, KSFO.
Life Imitates 'The Colbert Report' Topic: NewsBusters
Tim Graham concludes his Jan. 12 NewsBusters post complaining that "The Washington Post wanted to send one message loud and clear today: almost nobody supports Bush's Iraq surge" this way:
The Post could clearly state that all of its quotes were real, and all of the stories of skepticism are true, and they are. But news coverage can be completely true and still look slanted against politicians or policies a newspaper doesn't favor. Friday's Post looks tilted to create the most pessimistic appraisal of Bush's chances the newspaper could muster.
In a Jan. 11 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd went after ABC's Charlie Gibson for stating that "millions of Americans have reason tonight to plan on a pay raise" with a proposed increase in the minimum wage. "Only thing is, it's just not true," Shepherd wrote, directing readers to a Jan. 11 MRC Business & Media Institute article in which he explained:
Of course, Gibson’s premise assumed that there are “millions” earning minimum wage, that they earn the same pay for years despite gaining work experience, and that they are dependent on government to improve their lot in life. All of those notions are false.
According to 2005 data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were only 479,000 hourly workers “earning exactly $5.15, the prevailing Federal minimum wage,” while some 1.9 million take in “wages below the minimum.” Those earning less than the minimum for whatever reasons (legal or illegal) would not get a raise with a minimum wage boost.
But Shepherd ignores the people who are making between $5.15 and $7.25 -- all of whom would presumably see some sort of pay raise because of the minimum wage increase. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 5.6 million Americans earn between between the prevailing minimum wage (some states have higher minimum wage than the federal wage) and $7.25, and an additional 7.4 million Americans currently making more than $7.25 are likely to see a "spillover effect" of raised wages because of the higher minimum wage.
Snow: Thank God for (Conservative) Blogs! Topic: NewsBusters
In a Jan. 10 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein recounts "a conference call for bloggers conducted this afternoon by Snow and Brett McGurk [pictured here], the National Security Council's Director for Iraq -- adding, "I had the opportunity to participate on behalf on NewsBusters" -- during which Snow said, "Thank God for blogs." Finkelstein offers no further clarification, so we will be forced to assume a few things.
First, we assume that Snow is thanking God for conservative blogs; we don't think for a moment that a Republican press secretary is praising his Creator for the existence of, say, Daily Kos or Atrios. We can also probably assume, since Finkelstein doesn't make a point of saying how liberal bloggers participated, tjat only conservative bloggers were invited to participate in Snow's "conference call for bloggers." (And given the virtual silence in the conservative blogosphere regarding Spocko, it's safe to assume that his situation never came up in the conference call either, thus permitting an opportunity for Snow to thank God for him, too.) It's highly unlikely that Snow would acknowledge that any liberal blogger plays a role in, in Finkelstein's words, "cutting through the MSM clutter."
And what "MSM clutter" would that be, exactly? When the broadcast networks refused to air the Democratic response to President Bush's address last night? When ABC and NBC uncriticially reported Bush's latest Iraqi troop readiness goal? When a CNN correspondent declared, despite the evidence, that Bush is "very, very popular" in Montana?
Finkelstein has apparently forgotten that not all bloggers are conservative, and liberal bloggers have many of the same bias complaints about the MSM that conservatives do.
'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."