Here's a novel idea -- and one we'd like to see more of.
NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard and activist Mike Stark have done something unprecedented (at least in the history of NewsBusters): had something of a dialogue on the Spocko/KSFO story. Sheppard and Stark asked five questions of the other about the story, then posted the answers on their respective websites -- Sheppard on NewsBusters, Stark on Daily Kos.
We've criticized Sheppard for his telling of the Spocko story, but we commend him and Stark for lowering the hostile-rhetoric level on the issue by engaging in a fairly well-rounded dialogue. Hopefully we'll see more of this from NewsBusters in the future.
Mark Finkelstein has been in a serious liberal-bashing mood lately. This time, in a Jan. 28 NewsBusters post, he praises Fox News' Brit Hume for insulting John Kerry:
Hume wryly unloaded this haymaker on the Massachusetts senator of baleful Gallic mien: "Is it really fair to John Kerry to argue, Bill, that when he's in Switzerland he's away from home?" Brit was alluding to the fact that Kerry had attended an elite Swiss boarding school.
Refereeing the bout, host Chris Wallace declared a "cheap shot," but that didn't stop the panel from dissolving in laughter.
Ironically, Finkelstein spent an earlier post acting aghast that Hillary Clinton "went Mike Tyson on us" by issuing the "threat" that "When you are attacked, you have to deck your opponent, and that is what I believe you do." Finkelstein appears not to have a sense of irony, for he has not noted that comments like Hume's are the kind of thing Clinton was talking about.
What does all this have to do with "exposing and combating liberal bias"? Nothing. But apparently, the folks at MRC seem content to let NewsBusters devolve into a very well-funded Little Green Footballs (or Protein Wisdom, perhaps a more appropriate comparison since Jeff Goldstein was a NewsBusters blogger until the MRC powers-that-be presuambly figured out how much Goldstein likes to talk about his penis).
In a Jan. 27 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard took up the cause of Peter Paul, the corrupt businessman who's suing Hillary Clinton over alleged "campaign finance fraud." But oops! Sheppard makes no mention of the fact that Paul is a convicted felon awaiting sentencing for stock fraud.
Or maybe not so oops! Sheppard used WorldNetDaily as a source for his post; as we've documented, WND has repeatedly whitewashed Paul's long criminal record.
Sheppard went on to add: "Those looking for some background regarding this issue should read a comprehensive analysis of the subject published by the New Media Journal last March." But that seven-part March 2006 series, like WND's reporting, whitewashes Paul's history of criminality. In part two, author and NewsMax columnist Joan Swirsky enables the whitewashing, claiming that it's unfair for Paul to be "solely distinguished by his ethical and legal lapses, specifically two convictions and confession of securities violations."
Swirsky quickly disposes of Paul's conviction on charges of cocaine posession this way: "Throughout the 1970s to the mid-‘80s, Mr. Paul was involved in various ventures, both legitimate and illegitimate – from working with undercover government operatives on an anti-Castro sting to getting indicted and serving prison time." And that allusion to "confession of securities violations" is the only mention of Paul's current troubles -- his guilty plea to $25 million stock fraud scheme (and related fleeing to Brazil to avoid charges, followed by a two-year extradition fight).
Yet, somehow, to Sheppard this is "comprehensive analysis."
An article in that series by Sheppard takes a similar whitewashing approach, then attacks the media for not mentioning Paul's criminality at the time of the 2000 fundraising event hosted by Paul that led to all of this: "[W]hy did its [New York Times] editors think that it wasn’t important to inform the public that it was hosted by a felon, or that the numbers being reported by the Clinton campaign to the FEC concerning its cost were suspect?" Wouldn't a better question be why Sheppard, Swirsky and WND are embracing a convicted felon for the sole purpose of slinging mud at the Clintons?
Another Sheppard-penned article in the series laments the "smears and attacks" on Paul and goes on to compare Paul to Jack Abramoff: "[C]onsider the fact that no member of Congress is believed to have received from Abramoff anywhere near the dollars Hillary took from Paul, and the disparity in press coverage becomes all the more preposterous."
In his NewsBusters post, Sheppard makes an even more preposterous comparison, this time to George Allen and Scooter Libby:
To put this in some perspective, last year, a sitting senator from Virginia, who was considered to be a serious presidential candidate in the future, uttered the word “macaca” at a campaign stop. As a result, the media pounced, the videotape of the event and its transcript was splattered incessantly all over the print and airwaves, and the senator not only lost his re-election bid, but probably also saw his political career come to an end. Furthermore, the media in recent weeks have been giving almost non-stop coverage to the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Vice President's former chief of staff.
By contrast, the media have totally ignored a serious lawsuit against a former president and his senator wife that was originally filed on February 25, 2004.
Think the media would be so mum if McCain, Guiliani, or any major Republican was involved in this action regardless of the merits of the case or this brief?
Of course, the target of Allen's "macaca" slur, S.R. Sidarth, is not a convicted felon (though Dan Riehl tried to falsely make him into something akin to one). And given that Libby's trial did not start until this past week, the media could not have given "almost non-stop coverage" to it in "recent weeks."
Sheppard's emphasis in the final paragraph is curious. Is he tacitly admitting that Paul's allegations against the Clintons are without merit? Is he saying that it doesn't matter if Paul is telling the truth as long at it hurts the Clintons? It seems to show a certain lack of faith in his favorite convicted felon.
More Political Attacks at NewsBusters Topic: NewsBusters
In a Jan. 27 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein fires off another political attack that has nothing to do with NewsBusters' declared mission:
Did anyone really believe that Nancy Pelosi's recent whirlwind visit to Iraq was truly the "fact-finding" mission she billed it to be? I doubt it. But just in case there are some credulous folks out there, here's proof that rather than trying to find facts, Pelosi wanted to promote a political agenda.
Think about it. If Pelosi were truly interested in "finding facts," she might have asked this young analyst about the strides we are making with Sunnis and the cooperation we're receiving against al-Qaeda in Iraq, about new cooperation we're receiving from Shia government leaders in rooting out death-squad leaders -- and what might happen to those efforts if we followed Mr. Murtha's recommendation and "redeployed" our folks to Okinawa.
In other words, if Pelosi really cared, she would have repeated Republican talking points.
The MRC folks do know that such partisan activism bumps up against what the MRC is allowed to do under its 501(c)3 status, right?
You know Dinesh D'Souza's new book "The Enemy at Home" is way out there when the David Horowitz crew is attcking it. Twocolumnists at Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com have launched attacks on it thus far. D'Souza has also been the subject of an interview with FrontPageMag managing editor Jamie Glazov over the book.
Normally known for tossing softballs at his interview subjects -- i.e., David Limbaugh -- Glazov, after a first softball-laden segment, gets aggressive with D'Souza and attempts the feat of attacking him from the right. This leads to inevitable results, like making D'Souza look reasonable by comparison. At one point, Glazov essentially defends Abu Ghraib because we didn't treat the prisoners as bad as Saddam would have (and reveals a slight obsession with women's underwear):
The real significance of Abu Ghraib was that what happened there was a Sunday school class compared to what happened under Saddam Hussein -- and all Iraqis and Arab Muslims know it. What happened at Abu Ghraib was a frat party compared to a history of peoples’ live bodies being passed through human shredders, lowered into boiling baths of acid, people having their kids raped in front of them, and humans having their body parts mutilated while they are alive.
In terms of the torture that is perpetrated by ruthless regimes around the world, any sane human being would only dream of being a prisoner in an American Abu Ghraib.
Personally, I can say with full certainty that I would prefer a woman’s underwear to be placed over my head any day to having my eye sockets cut out, my head crushed in a vice and my limbs mutilated, or my body being torn apart in a meat shredder.
The key significance here is that the horror that exists in the Muslim world over a pair of woman’s underwear being placed on a man’s head is a reflection of that culture’s immorality, not ours. I am obviously not saying that a pair of woman’s underwear on a man’s head should represent a cultural norm. Obviously the guards were engaging in sadistic and juvenile behavior and they should be reprimanded or punished for their conduct accordingly. But there is a larger context here. And that is that the nightmarish dread with which the underwear scene was greeted in the Arab Muslim world reflected the hatred of women and of their sexuality in these societies. It exposed the terror that males experience when confronted with the notion of a woman having power over them, let alone even being an equal. That reality for a male is considered a virtual hell. This reveals the vile misogyny that exists in the Islamic world – and that should be the primary subject of our moral indignation.
After D'Souza calls Glazov on it, pointing out that You cannot defend one kind of wrong by pointing to another kind of wrong, Glazov gets more indignant:
I also don’t understand why you keep saying that I am “defending” Abu Ghraib. It’s easier arguing with straw men I guess. I clearly stated in my last comment that the American guards at Abu Ghraib were engaging in sadistic and juvenile behavior and that they should be punished accordingly.
You accuse me of having a “disgracefully cavalier attitude” about the underwear-on-the-head episode. It’s not the first time in my life I’ve been accused of being cavalier about something and it won’t be the last. But let me tell you something that I don’t have a “disgraceful” cavalier attitude about:
Glazov digresses into a long spiel about how he is "the child of Soviet dissidents" and how his family was terrorized by the Soviet NKVD, which purportedly shows his sensitivity to the issue of torture. Eventally he gets back on point:
The point is that we never stooped to Saddam's level and we don't stoop to Saddam’s level. And it’s hypocritical for Muslims, and anyone else, to suddenly cry foul about our disrespect for the Muslim “shame” culture when no comparable outrage was on display throughout Saddam's reign of terror. And if you can’t grasp that when a bestial and ferocious fury occurs in response to a woman’s pair of underwear being placed on a man’s head, it is connected to a society’s misogyny -- where a terrifying dread exists in the notion of a woman’s equality to a man -- I don’t know what to say.
Later, Glazov launches into an anti-liberal screed:
You stated in our interview, Mr. D’Souza, that the Left loves America in its own way. I would have to disagree. The Left wants to destroy America -- as well as its democratic-capitalist foundations. The America they love will be the one they yearn to build on the ashes of the one that exists, and the one they yearn to destroy. And the one they will build will have no resemblance to the one that exists and to the one whose freedoms they exploit in their effort to destroy it. It will resemble Mao’s China and Stalinist Russia and Castro’s Cuba, and that’s why the Left venerated those tyrannies throughout the 20th Century and offered them its own personal solidarity and affection.
I stand by my statement that the only America that the Left loves is the one that it yearns to build on the ashes on the existing America that is seeks to destroy.
Was making D'Souza look sane the point of Glazov's ranting?
Tim Graham doesn't like the Washington Post's profile of Glenn Beck. Why? Because the author quotes people who criticize Beck. From Graham's Jan. 26 NewsBusters post:
When the Washington Post notices a conservative personality with a front-page Style section profile, they are acknowledged that he may have Arrived. But that doesn't mean the profile will be nice. David Segal's profile of CNN Headline News and syndicated radio host Glenn Beck starts out on the front page as noticing Beck is a tad more moderate in persona than Bill O'Reilly, acknowledging his own faults and finding gray areas, and "he won't offer the righteous condemnations you'd expect from the God-fearing conservative that he constantly reminds viewers he is."
But turn inside, and Segal has profiled Beck for the purpose of a public whipping by leftists over Beck's questioning of Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison: "I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way." Segal lines up the liberal critics:
Is Graham really defending Beck's remarks to Ellison? Since the only appearance of "liberal critics" in the article -- an otherwise sympathetic piece about how he overcame his various demons to become a success -- is over those remarks, it appears so. Just because, say, CNSNews.com wouldn't have been so gauche as to note that Beck has said controversial things doesn't mean that the Post should do that too.
Graham goes on to attack Segal for his other purported offenses against conservatism. Among them:
"He has hailed Che Guevara chic." In fact, Graham is engaging in the depiction-equals-approval fallacy, attacking Segal for writing about an exhibition on the history how the iconic image of Che became commercialized. Graham's February 2006 post in support of this claim portrays the opinions of the people Segal quotes in his article as those of Segal himself.
"He has hailed rapper Teddy Riley of The Coup for making Bolshevism a hoot." Segal's offense here, per Graham, is that he put The Coup's latest album in his list of top 10 albums of 2006, noting that it "mixes revolutionary politics, humor and sweet beats" and calling it "[s]mart and catchy, a rare double." Graham went on to suggest that Segal (as well as fellow Post critic J. Freedom du Lac, who also liked the Coup album) put the album on the list only out of symapthy toward the group's political views. As we noted when Graham first attacked Segal over this selection, Graham puts his faith instead in the rap reviews of Brent Bozell.
It seems that Graham does have it in for David Segal.
In a Jan. 25 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard bizarrely suggests that stating certain facts in a CNN report "appeared to be rather anti-Semitic potentially in an attempt to deflect criticism for Carter himself expressing anti-Semitic views in his controversial book":
On Tuesday night, Carter spoke to students at Brandeis University. CNN’s report on this speech during the 7PM EST installment of Wednesday's “The Situation Room” appeared to be rather anti-Semitic potentially in an attempt to deflect criticism for Carter himself expressing anti-Semitic views in his controversial book (video available here, h/t Hot Air).
Early in her report, correspondent Carol Costello stated: “Standing before a Jewish audience, he at times looked hurt, defiant and charming…Jimmy Carter faced controversy head on at the historically Jewish Brandeis University.”
According to an April 28, 2006, article on this subject by the Jewish publication Forward, only 50 percent of Brandeis students are Jewish. As such, Costello’s statement that Carter was “standing before a Jewish audience” at a “historically Jewish” university is not completely accurate, and some might say anti-Semitic.
In fact, referring to Brandeis as "historically Jewish" is indeed accurate. From the university's website:
Brandeis was founded in 1948 as a nonsectarian university under the sponsorship of the American Jewish community to embody its highest ethical and cultural values and to express its gratitude to the United States through the traditional Jewish commitment to education.
That "50 percent of Brandeis students are Jewish" at present doesn't undercut that description. That's like saying that, for example, Baylor University is not a "historically Baptist" university because less than half of its student body is currently Baptist.
And given that Carter was speaking a "historically Jewish" university to discuss a book that is highly critical of Israel, logic would dictate that the audience would be heavily Jewish. Sheppard offers no evidence to contradict the claim.
Even if you suspend reality and grant Sheppard's assertion that CNN's claims about Brandeis and Carter's audience are "not completely accurate," how are they "anti-Semitic" as Sheppard suggests? We don't know; he doesn't back it up with anything.
WND Still Silent on Israeli President's Sex Scandal Topic: WorldNetDaily
As we've reported previously, Israeli president Moshe Katsav has been accused of numerous offenses, including rape -- a scandal WorldNetDaily Jerusalem reporter Aaron Klein has ignored, presumably because Katsav is a member of the conservative Likud party, even though he has reported numerous corruption allegations against (non-Likud) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Katsav has now been suspended from office for three months while prosecutors prepare a case against him. Still, neither Klein nor WND have offered an original article detailing the allegations.
Meanwhile, at CNSNews.com, a Jan. 24 article by Julie Stahl reports on Katsav's suspension from office, but it fails to note that he is a member of Likud.
CNS Spins for FBI on Foley Report Topic: CNSNews.com
A Jan. 24 CNSNews.com article by Nathan Burchfiel on the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General report on how the FBI handled the Mark Foley matter took a strangely pro-FBI spin, burying or ignoring mistakes made by the organization. Here's Burchfiel's lead:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation acted "within the range of discretion" in deciding not to investigate sexually charged Internet conversations between former Rep. Mark Foley and a former congressional page, the Justice Department has concluded.
Critics are unhappy, however, and called Tuesday for congressional hearings into the matter.
The article continued on that tack by describing exculpatory findings regarding the FBI. It's not until the 9th paragraph is it hinted that the report contains anything critical about the FBI's handling of the case. The Washington Post, meanwhile, led its article on the report with that criticism -- that the FBI should have taken "some follow-up steps" when it learned about the emails.
Burchfiel's article, however, offers no mention whatsoever of the report's other major finding -- that anonymous Justice and FBI officials had falsely told the media that the group that first forwarded the Foley emails to the FBI, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), that the messages supplied by CREW had been "heavily redacted" and that the group had refused to provide further information. In fact, according to the report, the only thing removed from the messages was the identity of the person to whom the communications had been forwarded, and that the "redactions in the e-mail did not factor into the FBI's decision to decline to investigate the matter."
Burchfiel also writes:
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) claimed responsibility for leaking the emails. It said it sent the emails to the FBI in July and released them to the media only after it became clear the agency did not plan to investigate.
That's not quite true. In fact, the first public airing of Foley-related communications with pages came from ABC News, not CREW. According to a CNN timeline of the scandal, CREW did not go public with its Foley emails until the day after the initial ABC report, and CREW's first press release on the matter (from Sept. 29, 2006, the day after the ABC report), did not mention that it had been in possession of Foley-related emails. It was not until Oct. 2 that it disclosed that it had forwarded Foley emails to the FBI, which were different from the messages ABC reported on.
We're still amazed that Dan Riehl is still allowed to post at NewsBusters after his S.R. Sidarth debacle, but hey, if they allowed only people who could present their arguments cogently and honestly, we'd be out of business.
Which brings us to Riehl's Jan. 24 post, in which he, in a classic pot-kettle-black moment, calls Sen. Jim Webb "something of an obfuscater when it comes to the truth." As evidence, Riehl claims that "a poll Webb used to claim the military doesn't support the war actually favors increasing troop numbers, as proposed by Bush." Not exactly true:
Webb never mentions a poll in his State of the Union rebuttal.
The poll Riehl is using to back up his claim, a Military Times poll that found, among other things, that "Almost half of those responding think we need more troops in Iraq than we have there now," was released Dec. 29 -- several days before President Bush announced his plan for adding troops to Iraq. Thus, it could not be an endorsement of "increasing troop numbers, as proposed by Bush." There's no indication that the poll asked how many troops were favored by those who supported more troops.
Riehl later wrote:
He claimed a majority of the military doesn't support the effort in Iraq, that's untrue.
Almost half of those responding think we need more troops in Iraq than we have there now.
Either way, Webb's claim is false based upon the disclaimer with the poll.
The results should not be read as representative of the military as a whole;
We're not sure exactly what the heck he's trying to say here. His quote from the poll on more troops in Iraq doesn't support his claim that a majority of the military doesn't support the effort in Iraq is "untrue." And the poll has three questions that could conceivably be interpreted asking about "support" of "the effort in Iraq" that don't quite support Riehl's claim:
50 percent "thought success in Iraq was likely," down from 84 percent in 2004.
"For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it."
"[O]nly 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003."
Riehl then claims that Webb is wrong no matter what because the poll disavows itself from being "representative of the military as a whole." But doesn't that mean that Riehl's claims are wrong, too? If all Riehl has to disprove Webb is a poll that doesn't claim to be accurate, why did he even bother to write this in the first place?
We're so confused. And not just because NewsBusters continues to allow Riehl to post there.
Radio "shock jock" Erich "Mancow" Muller has announced that he is creating the "Foundation For Responsible Radio” in response to the water intoxication death of Jennifer Strange, whose tragic death was the result of what Mancow calls a "voyeuristic FM radio stunt.”
"Small markets feel the need to do this to get ratings and it is wrong,” said Mancow. "Voyeuristic Radio has died or gone to satellite . . . America doesn’t want this stuff.”
Nowhere is it mentioned that Mancow has his own history of voyeuristic stunts, such has shutting down traffic on the San Francisco Bay Bridge so his sidekick could get a haircut or having live cows delivered to competitors' radio shows. (Not to mention his Playboy interview, which may not be a stunt but is totally voyeuristic.)
Sheppard Shocked by Non-Shocking Event, Part 2 Topic: NewsBusters
In a Jan. 24 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard purports to be gobsmacked that a conservative newspaper columnist would criticize Democrats.
"Here’s something you don’t see every day: a columnist at a liberal newspaper saying bad things about Democrats," Sheppard writes. But the columnist in question, the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby, is a conservative and has been for years. He continues:
No, folks. This isn’t from the National Review, the Weekly Standard, or the Washington Times. This really is an article by Jeff Jacoby, who writes for a paper owned by The New York Times Company.
Jacoby has written for the Globe since 1994. It would be more shocking for the sun to rise in the morning. It would be even more shocking for CNSNews.com to follow in the Globe's footsteps and hire a liberal columnist to balance its conservative roster of commentators.
Sheesh. Is this going to turn into an ongoing series?
More liberal-bashing masquerading as media criticism from Mark Finkelstein, in a Jan. 24 NewsBusters post:
According to his Wikipedia entry, "Obama studied for two years at Occidental College in California and then transferred to Columbia University where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations." What kind of world-view do you think was inculcated in international-relations major Obama at hyper-liberal Columbia?
I'm disappointed Robin didn't ask the obvious follow-ups: "OK, you majored in international relations. But were you a member of the chess club? Ever been to Epcot Center?"
And this is "exposing and combatting liberal bias" ... how?
UPDATE: It continues: Noel Sheppard declares Keith Olbermann to be "irrelevant" and a "gross caricature of a newsman," and expresses glee that a Fox News spokesman "deliciously disparaged" CNN's Anderson Cooper as "the Paris Hilton of television news."
In a Jan. 23 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard railed against Keith Olbermann for taking a statement from a Democrat at face value:
Amazing. So, in Olbermann’s bizarre world, when a Democrat denies wrongdoing, he or she must be believed. However, he certainly doesn’t afford the same courtesy for Republicans.
Meanwhile, a few posts up from Sheppard, Mark Finkelstein was, uh, taking the words of a Republican -- specifically, White House press secretary Tony Snow -- at face value. Finkelstein got a chance to participate in another Snow press conference for bloggers (only conservative bloggers were invited, presumably):
I had a chance to ask a question this time around, and chose to focus on recent events in Iraq. After referring to the headlines that have been made by the recent arrest of some 600 militiamen in Iraq, I noted a lesser-publicized report that the Iraqi army had arrested a senior aide to Moktada al-Sadr, Sheikh Abdul al-Hadi Darraji. He was arrested last Friday in a raid on a Baghdad mosque near Sadr City.
I asked Snow whether those events signal that we have in some way turned the corner in obtaining the willingness of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in going after Shia militias, and if so, how have we been able to achieve this?
Tony's answer was optimistic: "The proof is in the pudding, and the arrest you just mentioned is of enormous significance. What the president has said to the prime minister is that you have to make sure that the law applies equally to everybody. If you're going to go after Sunni insurgent groups, you're going to have to do the same thing to Shia militia - and that's what's happened. And I think it's been pretty clear that the prime minister has said to the militias 'you know what? you're on your own now. You really cannot operate outside the law.'"
Finkelstein went on to list other "highlights" of the press conference, mostly boilerplate such as "Tony emphasized that there is no desire to federalize education, but hold schools accountable." Not a skeptical word to be found on Finkelstein's part, unlike his post earlier in the day in which he ascribed sordid, nefarious motives to Hillary Clinton's comments on TV, purporting to detect "insincere laughter" and "meretricious mirth."
We might take Finkelstein, Sheppard and Co. more seriously as media critics if they didn't engage in the very same behavior they claim to despise when Democrats do it.