The ConWeb is buying into the conservative spin -- much of it lacking any sort of solid documentation -- regarding Nancy Pelosi's quest for an airplane.
The biggest offender is NewsMax, whose Feb. 8 article on it is chock full of unsubstantiated claims. It cited "some sources" as "claiming that Pelosi demanded access to the C-32, which seats 45 and has a stateroom for the primary passenger, a conference facility, an entertainment system and three convertible beds."
NewsMax also played up Minority Whip Roy Blunt's statement that the plane Pelosi purportedly wants to use is a "Flying Lincoln bedroom,” citing the Washington Times and adding, "But most people do not fly cross-country with a bedroom." In fact, nowhere has anyone -- including NewsMax -- confirmed on the record that Pelosi is seeking that particular airplane.
Meanwhile, the folks at NewsBusters have embraced these same unsubstantiated allegations. A Feb. 8 post by Mark Finkelstein reported that a TV discussion of the issue noted that "Pelosi was seeking a plane that could fly her home to California non-stop. But as many readers have pointed out, that in no way justifies the need for the behemoth Pelosi has been seeking." But he doesn't note that there's no evidence to support the anonymous claim that Pelosi was seeking a "behemoth." Another Finkelstein post referenced Pelosi's "quest for a big plane."
Similarly, a Feb. 8 post by Scott Whitlock reported Pelosi's "request for access to an extravagant plane," and a post by Brad Wilmouth referenced "Pelosi's efforts to acquire access to a larger jet than what her predecessor used" -- both without noting the lack of evidence to back up that claim.
And in an appearance on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," the MRC's Tim Graham, a guest on the show, did nothing to contradict Sean Hannity when he described the large plane as "the plane she is asking for"; in fact, he snarkily added that Pelosi "maybe she needs those 42 seats for all the children adn grandchildren that always surround her." Graham went on to complain that "the media really doesn't deal in facts these days; they deal in mood music" -- again, not noting the claim that Pelosi is seeking a huge plane is hardly an established "fact."
UPDATE: A Feb. 9 CNSNews.com column by Frank Salvato treats the "request" by "Pelosi's people" to "upgrade the aircraft" to something more "impressive" as fact, not as a unverified accusation.
UPDATE 2: A Feb. 8 MRC CyberAlert treated Pelosi's "efforts to acquire access to a larger military jet than what her predecessor used" as fact and not an anonymous accusation.
In a Feb. 8 WorldNetDaily column criticizing alleged attacks on scientists who oppose the idea of global warming, Craige McMillan wrote:
Just ask George Taylor, a scientist at Oregon State University who believes that the temperature variations we see today are the result of entirely natural variations that have occurred throughout the earth's history and will continue to occur in the future.
Unfortunately for George Taylor, he holds a title that the global warming industry covets: State Climatologist. In fact, Oregon's governor, Democrat Ted Kulongoski, wants Taylor removed from that position. He furthermore wants the position made into one that the governor appoints. State Democratic Sen. Brad Avakian agrees. He is introducing legislation to accomplish this. His concern is that global warming is so important to state policy that the governor needs a climatologist to act as a consultant. Make that a climatologist who agrees with the governor.
1) Taylor is not the “state climatologist.” Oregon abolished the position in 1989. He was bestowed the title by Oregon State University, not by Gov. Kulongoski or the state of Oregon.
2) Taylor is not a “climatologist.” Taylor is a meteorologist. He does not possess a PhD or have a background in climatology.
3) He will not be fired. Taylor will not lose his job or income, which comes from Oregon State University. He will merely be stripped of his title, which he never earned but claims to retain. Gov. Kulongoski has the right to appoint a climatologist who is an expert in the field and adheres to the state’s climate policies.
What are the chances we'll see McMillan issue a correction on this? We're guessing low.
UPDATE: In a Feb. 8 CNSNews.com article, Fred Lucas similarly reported that "[a] dispute erupted this week in Oregon, where Gov. Ted Kulongoski is considering firing the state's climatologist George Taylor, who has said human activity isn't the chief cause of global climate change."
In a Feb. 8 NewsBusters post (and TimesWatch item) asserting that a New York Times article "falsely claim[ed] that Senate Republicans "blocked the debate" over an Iraq war resolution, Clay Waters made a false claim of his own:
Republicans blocked the debate?
[Times reporter Jeff] Zeleny again ignored the fact that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not allow votes on two Republican alternatives that would probably pass the Senate with the 60 votes required. In other words, it's Democrat Reid, not Republicans, who is "blocking" a fuller debate on Iraq.
In fact, Reid did offer to bring both Republican alternatives up for a vote -- just not on the terms Republicans want. Republicans offered to bring up all four proposed resolutions on a straight up-or-down vote, but Republicans want to preserve the right to filibuster the Democratic resolutions by holding them to a 60-vote standard.
While Democrats are, in the process of all this, arguably blocking a vote on one Republican resolution that might pass with 60 votes (as Waters notes later), it is false to say that Reid "will not allow votes" on the Republican resolutions; he just won't allow the kind of vote Republicans prefer.
NewsMax's Ronald Kessler has been continuing to engage in his favorite pastimes: fluffing conservatives and obsessing over John McCain's alleged anger management problems.
A Feb. 8 potpourri of items covers both ends: fluffing defeated Sen. George Allen for a possible run for Virginia governor, as well as promoting a "liberal activist" company's "grabby video" about McCain, adding that "McCain's opponents would love to capture McCain's out-of-control temper on video."
Kessler also sneaks in one more pastime: potshots at Democrats. Here, he quotes an anonymous "senior GOP aide" complaining about the alleged lack of bipartisanship the Democrats are offering Republicans: "No amendments allowed. No advance notice of changes to bill text. Little advance distribution of bill text. We Republicans may not have been angels to the Democrats, but we never did this — and certainly not on legislation as big as the 100-hour agenda."
In fact, in 1995, amendments were restricted or prohibited under the GOP-controlled Congress with several of the legislative proposals stemming from the GOP's Contract with America.
Meanwhile, a Feb. 6 Kessler article was a fluff piece on Jim Cramer, coming somewhat suspiciously soon after a Slate article bashing Cramer's stock-picking skills.
WND Crops Snow's Ridicule of Kinsolving Topic: The Daily Les
A Feb. 7 WorldNetDaily article on Les Kinsolving's daily questions to White House press secretary Tony Snow sticks to the straight answers Snow gave, ignoring Snow's ridicule of Kinsolving's questions.
Kinsolving recited WND's cause celebre, the case of the convicted Border Patrol agents, asking if the procedures President Bush claims he needs to follow in considering the pardon of the agents that conservatives have been agitating for were "followed when President Jerry Ford pardoned President Nixon even before he was tried; when President Carter pardoned all those draft resisters?" WND omitted the first part of Snow's response, as detailed in the official White House transcript: "You know, that is one of the most preposterous comparisons I've ever heard."
And on the question of whether "the president believe[s] that Texas Republican Poe, another Republican congressman, and hundreds of thousands of petition signers on this issue are all wrong" in their criticism of the case, WND printed only Snow's response that "I think what the president has done is spend more money on border security than any president in American history." In fact, there was a contentious exchange between Snow and Kinsolving. From the transcript:
SNOW: You have just conflated two entirely different stories, Les, and I want to congratulate you for it. I think what the President has done is spend more money on border security than any President in American history. And there have been more --
KINSOLVING: But the wall -- why isn't the wall in the budget? The wall was cut out.
SNOW: It's a fence, and it is in the budget. Sorry.
KINSOLVING: The report is that it's not.
SNOW: No, the report is about how much can be afforded, and that is a fiscal question.
Shouldn't WND readers be alerted to how little respect Snow apparently has for Kinsolving -- or Kinsolving's silly grandstanding?
MRC Edits Out Matthews 'Fascism' Reference Topic: Media Research Center
The MRC CyberAlert version of Rich Noyes' Feb. 7 NewsBusters post on Chris Matthews' F-bomb deletes Noyes' misleading citing of Matthews' reference to "fascism" and Rudy Giuliani. In fact, the word "fascism" is nowhere to be found, let alone a correct contextual quoting of it.
How can the MRC possibly defend its attempted deception? This flagrant instance of intellectual dishonesty?
UPDATE: On the other hand, this version also states the magic (factual) words much more clearly than the NewsBusters version: that Matthews was "praising the 'great job' Rudy Giuliani did in cleaning up New York City."
MRC, Just Admit It: Matthews Hearts Giuliani Topic: NewsBusters
Why is the Media Research Center and its affiliated writers so unable to admit the simple truth that Chris Matthews likes Rudy Giuliani?
In a Feb. 7 NewsBusters post on Matthews' dropping the F-bomb on Don Imus' show, Rich Noyes noted that Matthews "prais[ed] the 'great job' Rudy Giuliani did in cleaning up New York City -- which Matthews again suggested was done with just 'a pinch' of fascism." But Noyes, like fellow NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein, fails to quote the full context in which Matthews made the comment -- delcaring that he likes that kind of "fascism." Here's the full quote of Matthews on Imus, as taken from the video Noyes supplied:
MATTHEWS: I think he [Giuliani] did a great job. I'm sorry. And I think the country wants a boss like that. You know, a little bit of fascism there. Just a little bit. Just a pinch of it.
See? Matthews loves Giuliani. Is it really so painful and damaging to the MRC's worldview (and its cherished Matthews-is-liberal meme) that it can't just come right out and say that? Must Finkelstein and Noyes hide behind their purported offense at his use of the word "fascist" to avoid admitting that fact to their readers?
UPDATE: Media Matters (disclosure: my employer) has noted Matthews' "fascism" comment. Finkelstein should be happy now.
NewsMax Scoops WND; WND Steals from NewsMax Topic: WorldNetDaily
In the late afternoon of Feb. 5 (though dated Feb. 6), NewsMax posted an "exclusive interview" by Phil Brennan with Michael Savage, who declared that he was thinking about running for president.
(The first four digits of the six-digit number before the ".shtml" at the end of a NewsMax URL indicates the time an article; before that are three file levels that indicate day, date and year. Hence, the "2007/2/5/161823" in this item's URL tells us NewsMax posted it at 4:18 p.m., or 16:18 on a 24-hour clock, on Feb. 5.)
At 7:53 p.m. on Feb. 5, WorldNetDailiy -- who published Savage's first three books under its WND Books imprint (Savage stayed at Thomas Nelson after WND's publishing deal with Nelson ended) -- posted a rewritten version of the NewsMax article -- only NewsMax isn't credited. The article states that Savage's comments came in "an online interview." The word "NewsMax" is nowhere to be found.
Doesn't that violate WND's own expressed standards for lifting material -- that it's "fair use" as long as the original author of the item is credited? It would appear so. WND was probably feeling a little miffed that its rival scooped WND on one of their boys.
Of course, as we've noted, WND is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of "fair use" when if suits them, while heaping indignation on those who don't credit WND to its satisfaction.
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.