'Terrorist Surveillance Program' Topic: Media Research Center
A Jan. 18 CyberAlert item (and Jan. 17 NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker claimed that referring to what Baker called the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" as "domestic spying" and "domestic eavesdropping" was a "network habit," as well as "loaded and inaccurate."
But "Terrorist Surveillance Program" is at least as loaded and inaccurate. As we've noted, that term is the Bush administration's preferred terminology, something Baker fails to acknowledge. And "domestic eavesdropping" is indeed a component of the program, given that one end of the phone call being tapped is in the United States. Further, the name itself is misleading because the NSA does not know for sure that the subject of surveillance is, in fact, a terrorist when surveillance begins.
New Article: They Attacked (or Ignored) Spocko's Brain Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily -- self-proclaimed champion of "new media" and defender of anonymous sources -- ignores an attempt to shut down a blogger critical of WND columnist Melanie Morgan, leaving it to Morgan herself to misleadingly address it. And a NewsBusters blogger simply regurgitates Morgan's attacks. Read more.
NewsMax reprints Dick Morris' column in The Hill in which he claims that Barack Obama "made his first misstep a few days ago when he joined only a handful of Democrats in opposing a Senate reform banning the increasingly widespread practice of legislators hiring their family members on their campaign or PAC payrolls."
But he didn't. As Media Matters details, Obama actually voted against a measure to table (i.e., postpone and thus effectively kill) the bill, not the bill itself.
That Morris can't get simple facts straight sorta puts into perspective his inability to correctly prognosticate.
A Jan. 16 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock attacked an ABC "Good Morning America" report on the Scooter Libby trial as skipping "important facts," then counters with his own version of the "facts" that turn out to be, uh, less than factual. Whitlock wrote:
[ABC's Claire] Shipman neglected to cite some extremely salient facts in her report. For starters, there’s no mention of the fact that [Joseph] Wilson’s wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame, actually sent Wilson on the trip to Africa.
In fact, according to the Wikipedia entry on Wilson to which Whitlock later links, the farthest the committee went in stating as "established fact" was that "Valerie Plame suggested her husband travel to Niger to look into" claims of attempted purchases of uranium by Iraq. In case Whitlock isn't aware, "suggested" is not the same thing as "sent."
Whitlock linked to Wikipedia in support of his claim that "the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report essentially saying that everything Joseph Wilson said was a lie" (he linked to a Power Line entry as well). But that's not exactly true either. According to Media Matters:
[W]hile the CIA initially interpreted Wilson's findings as confirmation of Iraq's supposed efforts to acquire uranium from Niger, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) interpreted his findings as confirmation that the Niger claim was not credible. As Media Matters further noted, the Senate Intelligence Committee reached no conclusion about the credibility of Wilson's July 6, 2003, New York Timesop-ed describing his fact-finding mission to Niger.
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.