We've had a chance to examine the transcript of the "Hardball" episode in which Chris Matthews asked a guest about Rudy Giuliani: "Was he a little bit of a fascist?" And we've had our suspicions confirmed: NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein plucked the comment out of context.
Here's the entire relevant segment:
MATTHEWS: How did he get the pee smell out of that subway?
FORMER REP. SUSAN MOLINARI (R-NY): He stopped -- they -- all of a sudden -- how did he stop the squeegee people from --
MATTHEWS: Well, he got the pee smell out of the phone booths up there. Even phone booths in New York that aren't booths, they're just a place to make a phone call, had that smell around them before -- I think -- having gone to New York enough times, he did clean up that atmosphere in New York.
MOLINARI: You bet he did. He stopped making excuses for people.
MATTHEWS: Well, was he a little bit of a fascist of what? What did he do?
MOLINARI: By making people abide by the law.
MATTHEWS: He made people fear the place.
MOLINARI: He made people fear the law.
MATTHEWS: OK, why do majorities feel that he‘s their enemy?
MOLINARI: I don‘t know. Because what he did was...
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, you do.
MOLINARI: No, I don‘t. Because what he did was restore order. When he reduced crime, where did he reduce crime, in what neighborhoods, Chris? Who was able to walk the streets...
MATTHEWS: I know who suffers from bad crime, people who live in tough neighborhoods, I know that.
MOLINARI: And that was the number one...
MATTHEWS: But that‘s not the feeling you get...
MATTHEWS: That‘s not the feeling you get from minority leaders.
MOLINARI: Rudolph Giuliani was unequivocally a strong supporter of the New York City Police Department. It was a police department that was badly battered in terms of their emotional support that they received from the previous mayor, David Dinkins, and I think that might have something to do with it. But the truth is, that neighborhoods were cleaner, neighborhoods were safer, all of New York City. Go to Times Square today.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, as an out-of-towner, I‘ve got to tell you, it‘s better for me to go when there‘s a city that‘s safer.
Matthews -- in his mode of saying every fool thing that pops into his head -- was defending Giuliani in his own bizarre way. He likes Giuliani's brand of "fascism." Too bad Finkelstein couldn't see fit to note that.
Finkelstein -- still ignoring the context -- follows that post up with a Feb. 6 post bashing Media Matters (full disclosure: my employer) for editing out the "fascist" comment in an item, huffily asking, "How can Media Matters possibly defend its attempted deception?"
Uh, because the item was about Matthews' obssession with "the pee smell"? If Finkelstein can explain how the two are related, he should explain it. We expect to see that about the time he admits that Matthews likes Giuliani.
P.S. We think what Finkelstein's trying to get at is that "fascist" is objectionable no matter the context. But it remains a fact that Matthews used that word in an overall positive context toward Giuliani.
P.P.S.: The MRC's Tim Graham adds in the first comment to Finkelstein's Media Matters post: "I would agree that it's wrong to omit completely an inconvenient truth that dilutes your argument. We hope at MRC to include qualifying comments or facts that make a story more balanced, even if we might not always please liberal critics." Yo, Tim: Ask Mark why he didn't do that with his Giuliani post.
And we'll be looking foward to the next MRC meta-hit piece on Matthews for the misleading statement "Matthews Called Giuliani a 'Fascist'!"
Corsi Ignores Contradiction in Border Patrol Case Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Jerome Corsi reported that Ignacio Ramos, one of the two Border Patrol agents sent to prison for the shooting of a fleeing illegal immigrant and a subsequent cover-up of the incident, was allegedly beaten by other prisoners (though he offers no independent verification of this, just statements from family members). Corsi wrote that "Ramos's family feels that the decision to place him in a medium security prison violates a promise from federal authorities Ramos would be kept in isolation at a minimal security prison."
But a couple weeks ago, Corsi complained when Ramos was in isolation: A Jan. 23 article made a big deal out of Ramos being "held in solitary confinement treated as if he were Charles Manson," even though it's typical for imprisoned law enforcement officers to be placed in isolation for their own protection to keep such incidents from happening, something did not note in his article.
Indeed, the very same relatives who were upset that Ramos was being "held in solitary confinement treated as if he were Charles Manson" are the same ones upset that Ramos was beaten because he wasn't in isolation. Shouldn't Corsi point that out? Shouldn't Corsi find out whether the Ramos relatives' previous complaint about Ramos being isolated resulted in his being put into the general prison population, increasing the risk of attacks on him?
Or is Corsi merely using the relatives only as a source of negative information to attack the prosecution of the case against Ramos and his Border Patrol partner? Given the short shrift Corsi has given to the full story in this case, it seems that Corsi wants to keep the negative info flowing, no matter how contradictory.
UPDATE: Corsi has added confirmation from the prison regarding the attack on Ramos. But he still has not noted that the same Ramos relatives who complained to him that Ramos was "held in solitary confinement treated as if he were Charles Manson" are now complaining that he wasn't.
Finkelstein Misleads on Matthews (Again) Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein continues his misleading out-of-context quoting of Chris Matthews in a Feb. 5 post noting that Matthews asked a guest about Rudy Giuliani: "Was he a little bit of a fascist?"
We haven't checked "Hardball" video or transcripts yet to see what Finkelstein cropped out of Matthews' assessment of Giuliani, but we're pretty sure Finnkelstein performed yet another out-of-context plucking since a few hours earlier on MSNBC, he was singing Giuliani's praises, gushing over his "street cred" on the issue of "protect[ing] this country against the bad guys" -- something Finkelstein makes no mention of, and something that would put Matthews' "fascist" remark in something of a proper perspective of his total assessment of Giuliani.
And given that Giuliani is probably too liberal on social issues for Finkelstein (or anyone else at NewsBusters, for that matter) to ever consider voting for him as president, why does it matter if Matthews, or anyone else, has anything bad to say about the guy?
Dick Morris Non-Disclosure Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
A Feb. 5 CNSNews.com article by Fred Lucas quoted Dick Morris assessing Hillary Clinton's chances of getting the Democratic presidential nomination. But Lucas described Morris only as someone "who ran President Bill Clinton's presidential reelection campaign in 1996" and did not note that Morris is engaging in activism against Hillary Clinton, which would seem to skew his assessment of her.
A Feb. 5 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard approvingly links to a long screed by New York radio host Mark Levin against Keith Olbermann, claiming that "Levin went after Olbermann with guns blazing." Levin's rant was apparently in response to Olbermann naming Levin to his nightly "Worst Person in the World" list for meaninglessly nominating Rush Limbaugh for a Nobel Peace Prize. Some highlights:
Levin calls Olbermann "Keith Overbite," "a mental case and a pervert" a "mental patient pervert type," a "jerk," "fruitcake," "nitwit," "moron," "dummy" and a "sick bastard."
"He's hung like a thumbtack. Keith gets low ratings in bed."
"He's the most impotent person in the world, or maybe the biggest pervert in the world." Describing a New York Post on Olbermann's alleged boorish behavior with women, Levin added: "Well, this is how predators function."
"This guy's a punk, a predator and a pervert. No wonder he loves Bill Clinton."
"There this fledging cable network. We call it MSLSD, because it looks like all the hosts are on LSD. The hosts are a combination of freaks, leftists, Democrats and pseudo-Republicans." He rehashes his description of MSNBC hosts later: "MSLSD is a breeding ground for liberals, pseudo-Republicans, a former drunk and one lifelong pervert and mental case, Keith Overbite."
Levin suggested that Olbermann doesn't believe the Holocaust occurred. In recounting criticism of Olbermann's use of a Nazi salute (but omitting that he was doing it to mock Bill O'Reilly), Levin said of Olbermann, "I assume he believes the Holocaust happened."
Sheppard himself called Olbermann a "disgrace," adding, "You took on the wrong guy, Keith; you're way out of your league." Given that Levin's league appears to be sub-juvenile schoolyard taunting, Olbermann should be glad not to be in that particular league.
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.