Topic: Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media defends the Unification Church-owned website that repeated a false smear of Barack Obama, then reprints a screed by its editor. Read more.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
WND Press-Release Journalism Watch
A Feb. 12 WorldNetDaily article -- based on a Discovery Institute press release -- touts the addition of another 100 people with doctorates who have signed the institute's petition declaring the skepticism of the theory of evolution.
As we've noted, WND has written similar articles about the petition in the past, obscuring the fact that many of the signatories hold doctorates in fields other than biology that have little or no contact with evolutionary theory.
This time, the article does note that those eligible to sign the list include "scientists who have a Ph.D in engineering, mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry or one of the other natural sciences," but it doesn't explain what qualifies someone with a Ph.D. in non-biological fields as engineering, mathematics and computer science to offer an informed opinion about a biological process.
The WND article goes a step further than the Discovery Institute release, delcaring that the list of signatories "truly is a "Who's Who" of prominent scientists in the world today," further stating, "The list represents the most educated people in the world from all branches of science." WND offers no evidence to support these claims.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Your NewsMax Audience
From the Feb. 11 NewsMax "Insider Report":
NewsBuster Weirdly Obsessed with LA Times and Obama
As part of his ongoing coverage of how much space the Los Angeles Times devotes to Barack Obama, Dave Pierre notes in a Feb. 11 NewsBusters post that the paper devoted "1,215 words on page A17" to Obama's announcement that he was running for president. He adds: "In truth, there was actually more than this. There was also a 16-square-inch, full-color photo of Obama prominently displayed on the front page" (boldface and italics his).
With his typographical flourishes, Pierre makes that sound much more ominous than it actually is. Pretty much every newspaper in America runs color photos on the front page, so that's not exactly news. And a "16-square-inch" photo sounds big only if you don't know anything about newspapers. The typical broadsheet newspaper page is 12 by 21 inches, for a total of 252 square inches. Thus, the photo of Obama on the Times front page takes up well under 10 percent of the page (as the picture of the photo Pierre helpfully supplies amply illustrates).
The bigger problem from a design standpoint is that Obama is looking off the newspaper page, which is generally considered bad form in layout (though some argue otherwise).
Pierre also provides links to his previous posts on what he called "the LA Times-Obama love affair." Is someone a little too obsessed with this?
Sunday, February 11, 2007
CNS Mum on Bad Stuff in Backgrounds of Morris, Bossie
A Feb. 9 CNSNews.com article by Fred Lucas on the upcoming Hillary Clinton-bashing documentary by Dick Morris and David Bossie includes biographical information about Morris' and Bossie's backgrounds -- but not negative information.
"Morris was a long-time political advisor to Clinton and ran the former president's successful 1996 reelection campaign but has since become a vocal critic of both Clintons," Lucas writes. But he offers no information on how Morris left his position with the Clintons -- he resigned after it was disclosed that a $200-an-hour hooker had a long-term relationship with Morris.
Lucas writes of Bossie: "Bossie is familiar with Clinton controversies. He was a chief investigator for a U.S. Senate probe into the Whitewater affair and was later an investigator for a House probe into President Clinton's 1996 campaign finances." Similarly, Lucas did not note the reason Bossie was no longer employed as a congressional investigator: He heavily edited publicly released transcripts of phone conversations by convicted Clinton official Webb Hubbell, omitting exculpatory information. As we've noted, even WorldNetDaily suggested at the time that such behavior showed that Bossie was "either extremely incompetent or was intentionally trying to sabotage" the House GOP investigation into Clinton.
Such information, had Lucas reported it, might have clued CNS readers into the reckless, vendetta-driven nature of Bossie and Morris.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
WND's Double Standard on Campus Ministries
Remember a few months back when WorldNetDaily made a big to-do about Georgetown University kicking non-Catholic ministries off campus, even suggesting that by doing so the school was not "Christian"?
It turns out that in 2000, the Baylor University Board of Regents decided to make the Baptist Student Ministries the only chartered denominational organization on campus. And currently, Baylor is embroiled in a battle over whether to allow non-Baptist groups the same on-campus privileges as Baptist organizations. Last week, Baylor's student senate voted in favor of it.
Even though the Baylor situation is similar to that of Georgetown's, WND has never written about it, then or now. WND editor Joseph Farah did, however, lambaste Baylor in a July 2001 column for allegedly not being accomodating enough to homeschooled students.
Similarly, we have seen no evidence that the Alliance Defense Fund -- which, according to WND, wrote a letter to Georgetown officials asking the school to reconsider its decision removing non-Catholic ministries from campus -- taking any similar action against Baylor or taking a position on allowing non-Baptist groups on the Baylor campus.
Have WND and ADF simply overlooked this, or are they taking an unspoken position that evangelical Protestantism is the only true Christian religion and thus off limits for criticism?
Friday, February 9, 2007
WND Press-Release Journalism Watch
A Feb. 9 WorldNetDaily article headlined "Lesbian website retreats from threat" -- which misstates the issue at hand -- appears to have been cobbled together from articles posted on the website of anti-gay group Americans for Truth.
The article goes on to state that a commenter on the blog Pam's House Blend -- not the proprietor of the blog, as the headline falsely suggests -- was banned after making threats to Americans for Truth leader Peter LaBarbera. While twice describing blog proprietor Pam Spaulding as a "lesbian activist," the article described Americans for Truth as a "pro-family" group "which works to publish a message of hope for those caught in the homosexual lifestyle."
No apparent attempt was made by WND to contact Spaulding for a response to allow her to tell her side of the story.
Reagan Wrong on Troop Surge Level
In fact, CNN is correct. According to the Congressional Budget Office, while 21,000 combat troops are being sent to Iraq, they will require as many as 28,000 additional support troops, for a total of more than 48,000. Reagan makes no mention of the CBO report.
Does NewsMax Know What A Journalist Is?
A Feb. 8 NewsMax article described military analyst William Arkin as a "rabid left-wing, antiwar writer," and claimed that a controversial post on his Washington Post blog "have ignited a firestorm among fellow journalists who fully support and admire the men and women serving in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan."
First, Arkin is not a "journalist." He has been a newspaper columnist and a military analyst for NBC, but none of that makes him a journalist, which generally includes some sort of history of straight-news reporting, which he appears not to have.
Second, the only "fellow journalists" NewsMax cites as criticizing Arkin are Michelle Malkin and Bill O'Reilly -- who could each be considered even less of a "journalist" than Arkin. And while NewsMax described Arkin as "left-wing," it does not describe Malkin and O'Reilly as "right-wing."
When one works for NewsMax -- not exactly known for its straight-news reporting -- apparently one tends to forget what a "journalist" is.
ConWeb Repeats Dubious Pelosi Plane Allegations
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.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
WND Columnist Regurgitates Misinformation (CNS, Too)
In a Feb. 8 WorldNetDaily column criticizing alleged attacks on scientists who oppose the idea of global warming, Craige McMillan wrote:
In fact, according to Think Progress:
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."
Pot, Kettle, Black
In a Feb. 8 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham is upset that CNN portrayed allegations of "anti-Catholic" posts by two bloggers hired by John Edwards as "unproven."
This from a guy who can't quite admit that George Allen's calling S.R. Sidarth "macaca" could be interpreted as offensive and/or racist.
Waters Misleads on Iraq Vote
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:
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.
Ron Kessler Fluff Update
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.
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:
Shouldn't WND readers be alerted to how little respect Snow apparently has for Kinsolving -- or Kinsolving's silly grandstanding?
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