Dan Riehl has been on a misinformation tear of late at NewsBusters.
In a Jan. 31 post, he 1) attacked the New York Times for reporting on a Marine's death in Iraq before the family was notified, but without noting that the Times claims that it expected the military to notify the family before the story ran and that the Times itself tried to contact the family to alert it of the story; 2) accused CBS "journalist/activist" Lara Logan of incorporating "a gruesome al-Qaeda video ... into a news report without attribution" without noting CBS' denial of the claim; and 3) falsely suggested that a "disgusting anti-military screed" by a Washington Post blogger is representative of the entire Washington Post. (Certainly the MRC folks would never say that Riehl's history of misinformation is representative of that of all NewsBusters writers, would they?)
In a Feb. 1 post, Riehl touted a nomination of Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Peace Prize as though it was legitimate; it's not.
In a Feb. 3 post, Riehl misleadingly asserts that a Slate article called claims that Vietnam soldiers were spit on "false." In fact, the article specifically states that "nobody can prove something never happened," acknowledges the existence of anecdotal accounts of such spitting , and notes the lack of any sort of "evidence -- such as a contemporaneous newspaper story or an arrest report -- that documents the sordid event."
Despite his history of false and misleading claims, Riehl is still allowed to post at NewsBusters. Perhaps the Sheffields should explain to NewsBusters readers why that is.
AIM's Double Standard: Dan Rather vs. Insight Topic: Accuracy in Media
In a Feb. 1 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid is eager to defend InsightMag.com for its article that promoted the false claim that Barack Obama attended an extremist Islamic madrassa as a child. Kincaid insisted that the story "cannot be easily dismissed" because Obama's purported Muslim past remains "mysterious" and the CNN report debunking the claim was "hastily-produced and superficial." He added:
Some "progressives" want the public to believe that the story has been proven to be a lie, smear, or hoax. But that is not the case. It is the case that "progressives" want to use this controversy to make conservative media pay for running the story.
But in 2004, Kincaid did exactly that to CBS' Bush-National Guard story -- dismiss it completely because one part was found questionable -- even though many of the allegations raised in the report were not affected by the questionable sourcing of those memos -- and used it to further AIM's attacks on the "liberal media."
For instance, a Sept. 21, 2004, column calimed that CBS was "caught in the middle of a criminal conspiracy, with links to the Kerry campaign, to use forged documents to bring down an American president." But in his column on the Insight article, Kincaid does not note the prediction of The New Republic's Jason Zengerle, made more than a month before the Insight article appeared, that conservatives will "launch a savage and despicable whispering campaign" against Obama "and then blame it all on Hillary" -- a description that fits the Insight story to a T.
A Sept. 30, 2004, column called the report "discredited" and accused CBS' Dan Rather of "going to any length to smear the President of the United States."
An Oct. 1, 2004, column asserted that the report "has all the earmarks of a Democratic Party operation, masquerading as 'news,' in order to evade legal limits on contributions to the John Kerry campaign."
A Nov. 15, 2004, column called the CBS report "phony."
A Feb. 16, 2005, AIM Report called the report "discredited" and "bogus."
Nowhere to our knowledge has AIM examined every claim made in the CBS report in detail to determine the accuracy of each and what evidence exists to support them. Yet Kincaid declares a debunking of an obvious flaw in the Insight report as "superficial." Not exactly a shining example of seeking "accuracy in media."
Nonexistent Argument Used to Back Up HPV Vaccine Claim Topic: NewsBusters
In a Feb. 2 NewsBusters post noting Katie Couric's support of "universal vaccination for the human papillomavirus, HPV, for girls," Mark Finkelstein cited as evidence that the issue is "highly-controversial" and that "[m]any traditionalists are strongly opposed to mandatory vaccinations for girls as young as 11" a column on the subject from the Independent Women's Forum. But in the section of the column Finkelstein excerpts, the author, Charlotte Allen, rails against something no proponent of mandatory HPV vaccination has raised -- that it gives 9-year-olds the green light to have sex. From the column (and Finkelstein's excerpt):
If you think 11 sounds young for sex, how about age 9--the recommended age in some cases?
But there are a few hitches--such as parents who, uh, balk at the idea of telling prepubescent girls that it’s just fine for them to have all the sex they want, ’cuz now they’ll be vaccinated! And isn’t it against the law to have sex with children?
Allen makes another argument (well, copies from a New York Times article on it, anyway) against mandatory vaccination, that it's an expensive vaccine. But Finkelstein didn't excerpt that. The 9-year-olds-having-sex angle is, well, sexier, even if it makes no sense.
P.S.: Finkelstein might want to have a chat with "traditionalist" Texas Gov. Rick Perry (he's "a conservative Christian who opposes abortion rights and stem-cell research using embryonic cells" who "counts on the religious right for his political base," which we're pretty sure is the same thing as "traditionalist"), who just just ordered mandatory HPV vaccination in his state.
Should CNS Add Inhofe Disclaimer? Topic: CNSNews.com
A pair of Feb. 2 CNSNews.com articles on global warming, by Kevin Mooney and Susan Jones, both quote Sen. James Inhofe, described by Mooney as a "global warming skeptic."
Shouldn't CNS be including a disclaimer on the fact that former CNS reporter Marc Morano is now on Inhofe's staff? As we've noted, Inhofe sure seems to be popping up at CNS a lot more these days since he hired Morano.
Another WorldNetDaily article by Jerome Corsi attacking prosecutors in the Border Patrol agent case, another failure to allow prosecutors to respond.
On the other hand, the statement that "Despite repeated attempts, Sutton's office did not return WND phone calls to comment on this story" appears in the fourth paragraph, perhaps the most prominent placement of such a statement we've seen in a Corsi article on the issue.
NewsMax has taken an interesting approach to telling its readers about Dick Morris' anti-Hillary activism: having Ron Kessler write about it. A Feb. 1 article by Kessler details Morris' involvement in a documentary that will "present Hillary's conflicting statements side-by-side and will portray her disingenuous statements and misrepresentations alongside the facts."
Too bad Kessler and Morris engage in a misrepresentation of their own. Kessler writes:
As an example of Hillary's disingenuousness, Morris will feature Hillary's NBC interview with Jane Pauley on Sept. 17, 2001. Trying to engender sympathy, Hillary told Pauley that when the two airplanes hit the World Trade Center, her daughter Chelsea was at Battery Park near the towers.
"She'd gone for what she thought would be a great jog," Hillary said. "She was going down to Battery Park, she was going to go around the towers. She went to get a cup of coffee — and that's when the plane hit."
"She was close enough to hear the rumble," Pauley said.
"She did hear it. She did," Hillary said.
"And to see the smoke . . ."
"That's right," Hillary responded, saying she did not locate her daughter until two hours later.
"At that moment, she was not just a senator, but a concerned parent," Katie Couric said the next day on NBC's "Today."
It was a great tale, but Hillary had made it up from whole cloth. Her arrogance was so profound that she did not coordinate the story with Chelsea, who wrote an article for "Talk" in which she described what she had been doing that day.
According to Chelsea, she wasn't jogging at the World Trade Center. Rather, she was miles away in a friend's apartment on Park Avenue South. She watched the events unfold on TV. Hillary told the story with a straight face.
But Morris is wrong, and Kessler doesn't bother to fact-check him. According to Media Matters:
Clinton never said Chelsea was "jogging near the World Trade Center," as [Thomas] Kuiper [author of "I've Always Been a Yankees Fan," a collection of dubiously sourced purported Hillary quotes] in the press release. Rather, Clinton said Chelsea "was going to go around the towers." Dick Morris made this same false claim in Rewriting History, as Media Matters noted. Kuiper's claim from his book that Sen. Clinton said Chelsea "was in potential danger" is also false. At no point did she suggest that Chelsea was endangered by the attacks.
Moreover, Kuiper misrepresented Chelsea's account of the attacks in claiming that she "contradicted" her mother. From Kuiper's account of Chelsea's retelling of the attacks, one would believe she spent the entire day in her friend's apartment "on the other side of town" and that she did not go to get coffee. A November 9, 2001, UPI article, however, gave a different account:
"When the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, I was 12 blocks away, (and) nothing has been the same since," Clinton wrote in the December/January issue of Talk magazine, on sale Friday in New York.
Clinton had been staying with her high school friend Nicole Davison in her apartment near Union Square for a few days in September before she went to England to study at Oxford. After they had coffee together, Davison went to work and Clinton returned to the apartment.
Davison called Clinton with the news of the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Clinton turned on the television and watched the second plane crash into the second WTC tower, and tried to reach her mother in Washington, but after speaking to her assistant, the phone line went dead.
Chelsea Clinton is the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
Panicked, Chelsea Clinton left the apartment and found herself running toward downtown "in the direction everyone else was coming from," in search of a public telephone. She was desperate to call her mother and her father, who was on a speaking tour in Australia.
Chelsea Clinton was downtown in line at a pay phone when she heard the rumble of the second tower collapsing. Later she found Davison and another friend, and the three spent the day walking uptown. Chelsea Clinton wrote that she had an "irrational medley of thoughts" running through her head.
We figured that NewsMax would have problems telling the truth about Hillary. Who knew it would be starting so early?
And another question: Now that Morris' anti-Hillary activism has been reported at NewsMax, does it think it's now absolved from reporting it every time Morris disparages Hillary (which, we can assume, will be often)?
NewsBusters Doesn't Think 'Fag' Is A Slur? Topic: NewsBusters
In a Feb. 1 NewsBusters post (and TimesWatch item), Clay Waters complained that a New York Times headline describes Joe Biden's remarks about Barack Obama as an "Oops!" while former Rep. Dick Armey "didn't get the benefit of the doubt from Times' headline writers" when he referred to Rep. Barney Frank as "Barney Fag," which the Times headline called a "slur."
Oh, gee, I dunno ... could it be that the term "fag" is, in fact, a slur? Is Waters trying to tell us that it's not?
Meanwhile, none of the words Biden used to describe Obama are, in and of themselves, slurs like "fag" is.
WND Misleads on Library Porn Filters Topic: WorldNetDaily
Here's the lead of a Jan. 31 WorldNetDaily article:
While pornography itself doesn't "shoot the bullet" for sex crimes, it does "cock the trigger," and Sacramento officials who supervise their public library system have told porn addicts to go ahead and get loaded.
Despite presenting that first claim as fact, the article offers no evidence to back it up; in fact, it's merely a repeat of a quote from a conservative legal group -- who similarly offers no evidence for his assertion.
As for the paragraph's second assertion -- that the Sacramento library system has "told porn addicts to go ahead and get loaded" -- it's a wild, misleading overstatement of the facts the article presents (as is the headline: "Let the porn flow, says public library"). What appears to be happening is that, according to that conservative legal group, adult computer users at the library may request that the content filter be turned off. While offering lots of scary rhetoric, the article offers no evidence that Sacramento library computer users are, in fact, getting "loaded" on porn. Indeed, porn filters have a longhistory of filtering out legitimate non-porn websites, something the article doesn't mention.
Another thing the article doesn't include: the other side of the story. While the article states, "Sacramento library officials did not return messages left by WND asking for a response," certainly this was not so time-sensitive an article -- apparently based on a press release from the conservative legal group, the Pacific Justice Institute -- that WND couldn't have shown a little fairness and allowed library officals to respond.
Corsi Doesn't Let Prosecutor Respond Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Jan. 31 WorldNetDaily article by Jerome Corsi on memos that purportedly contradict prosecutors in the case of two Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, imprisoned for shooting at an unarmed illegal immigrant and covering up evidence of the shooting failed to give prosecutors an opportunity to respond.
While Corsi recycles previous statements on the case by prosecutor Johnny Sutton, he makes no apparent attempt to obtain a response from Sutton or his office to the new allegations.
As we've detailed, Corsi and WND have a shoddy record of telling both sides of this story. Since Corsi has interviewed Sutton before, we know he knows how to get a hold of the guy, so there's no excuse -- beyond bias -- for Corsi not to get a response.
UPDATE: In a Feb. 1 article, Corsi did obtain a response from Sutton's office, but that was relegated to only a single paragraph of the 27-paragraph article.
Still No Complete Morris Disclosure Topic: Newsmax
While a Jan. 31 NewsMax column by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann attacking Hillary Clinton did mention "voters who don't like her and don't think she should be president (including us)," there is no mention of the extent to which Morris hates Hillary -- that he's soliciting donations for an anti-Hillary documentary.
How can Morris credibly opine about Hillary's presidential prospects when he's 1) actively working against her and 2) refuses to properly disclose that involvement in his columns? He can't.
After the 1998 election, with its razor-thin victory for Republicans in the House of Representatives, a dozen conservatives informed the Republican Leadership that they would not vote for Gingrich as Speaker under any circumstance. That was when Tom DeLay and others in the GOP Leadership told Gingrich that the ball game was over.
In fact, Republicans lost five seats in the House in 1998 -- hardly a "razor-thin victory."
WND Falsely Accuses Clinton of Flip-Flop Topic: WorldNetDaily
An unbylined Jan. 30 WorldNetDaily article accuses Hillary Clinton of flip-flopping on the Iraq war:
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton Hillary [sic] has told an Iowa audience that she was deceived on the congressional vote to take military action against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, contradicting an earlier video recording in which she testifies that her decision was made based on her own information and intelligence.
But the article makes no mention of evidence that the Bush administration did, in fact, offer misleading evidence to Congress on Iraq. According to a Nov. 19, 2005, FactCheck.org article, noted that one main piece of evidence was a classified National Intelligence Estimate released to members of Congress shortly before its October 2002 vote to authorize action against Iraq:
This so-called National Intelligence Estimate was supposed to be the combined US intelligence community's "most authoritative written judgment concerning a specific national security issue," according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The report was titled "Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction."
Though most of the document remains classified, the "Key Judgments" section and some other paragraphs were cleared and released publicly in July, 2003. The most recent and complete version available to the public can be read on the website of George Washington University's National Security Archive, which got it from the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act.
The NIE as declassified and released by the CIA says pretty much what Bush and his aides were saying publicly about Iraq's weapons - nearly all of which turned out to be wrong:
On one important point the National Intelligence Estimate offered little support for Bush's case for war, however. That was the likelihood that Saddam would give chemical or biological weapons to terrorists for use against the US.
Al Qaeda: The intelligence estimate said that – if attacked and "if sufficiently desperate" – Saddam might turn to al Qaeda to carry out an attack against the US with chemical or biological weapons. "He might decide that the extreme step of assisting the Islamist terrorist in conducting a CBW attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him," the NIE said.
The report assigned "low confidence" to this finding, however, while assigning "high confidence" to the findings that Iraq had active chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, and "moderate confidence" that Iraq could have a nuclear weapon as early as 2007 to 2009.
That was the intelligence available to Congress when the House passed the Iraq resolution Oct. 10, 2002 by a vote of 296-133. The Senate passed it in the wee hours of Oct. 11, by a vote of 77-23. A total of 81 Democrats in the House and 29 Democrats in the Senate supported the resolution, including some who now are saying Bush misled them.
Further, a December 2005 Washington Post article noted that a congressional report had found that "President Bush and his inner circle had access to more intelligence and reviewed more sensitive material than what was shared with Congress when it gave Bush the authority to wage war against Iraq."
If WND does not point out evidence that Congress was "deceived" by the Bush administration about Iraq war intelligence, how can it claim that Clinton was "contradicting" herself by pointing that out?
Answer: She's a Clinton. The old journalistic rules about making factual claims don't apply to the Clintons, as far as WND is concerned.
Massie Defends One Controversial Remark, Ignores Another Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his Jan. 30 column, Mychal Massie defends Virginia lawmaker Frank Hargrove's statement that those advocating a Virginia state resolution that would apologize for slavery should "get over it." But Massie doesn't mention the other, more controversial statement Hargrove is quoted as saying: "are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?" By not mentioning it, is Massie signaling that he approves of that statement?