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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
NewsBusters' Favorite Anti-Global Warming Activist
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 14 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard regurgitates an interview with Timothy Ball, whom Sheppard says "should be familiar to many conservatives as one of the leading international skeptics of man’s role in global warming." Sheppard similarly promoted more claims by Ball in a Feb. 5 post.

We've previously reported on NewsBusters' love of Ball, which excludes any reference to alleged ties to oil companies and a paucity of of published scholarly research on the subject by him.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:08 PM EST
MRC Embraces Tapper's Incomplete Quoting of Hillary
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Feb. 13 MRC CyberAlert item (and NewsBusters post), Brent Baker praises ABC's Jake Tapper for "broach[ing] a subject few, if any, mainstream journalists have dared: How Senator Hillary Clinton's current claims that her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution was not an endorsement of war do not match what she said in 2002":

In the World News version of his story, Tapper pointed out how "a month before her vote on the Iraq War, she said this:" Viewers then heard Clinton on the September 15, 2002 Meet the Press: "I can support the President. I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it's in the long-term interests of our national security." But, Tapper noted, "Now, she says this:" He ran a clip of her in Berlin, New Hampshire on Saturday: "I gave him authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth, and I said this is not a vote to authorize preemptive war."

In fact, as Media Matters points out, Clinton did specifically argue in favor of inspections during the very "Meet the Press" interview from which Tapper quoted. Further, in a Senate floor speech before the 2002 vote, Clinton stated explicitly that she expected the White House to push for "complete, unlimited inspections" and that she did not view her support for the measure as "a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption or for unilateralism."

In other words, Tapper got it wrong, and Baker applauded Tapper getting it wrong. Does the MRC have a lesser standard of accuracy for the Clintons than it does for conservatives?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 PM EST
WND Still Likening Non-Homeschool-philes to Nazis
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has latched onto a case in which a homeschooled German girl who purportedly was "suddenly was snatched from her home by a SWAT team of police officers and sent to a psychiatric ward for her 'school phobia.'" In WND style, the articles on the case by Bob Unruh offer no substantiation of the charge beyond statements by mostly anonymous members of a German homeschooling association, and no apparent attempt has been made by Unruh to contact German education officials regarding the veracity of the claims.

Part of this crusade by WND is repeatedly reminding readers that homeschooling in Germany was banned under the Nazi regime -- thus suggesting that anyone, German or non-German, who criticizes homeschooling is a Nazi, as we've previously noted. WND has kept up the smear. From a Feb. 13 article by Unruh quoting a conveninently anonymous spokesperson for the German homeschooling group:

Officials there said historically the German phobia about homeschooling began with Adolph Hitler, whose design was to control the minds of children as they grew, leaving them with only his worldview.

"The 'Jugendamt' (youth welfare office) has its origin in the German Nazi state," the German group said. "German Wikipedia writes about the Jugendamt: 'In 1939 the Jugendamt [was] adopted ... as a part of government in the NS-state control of child-education. The Jugendamt controlled and observed families and children politically from their birth."

A spokesman for the group told WND, "Today the Jugendamt … is free to take the children away from their parents when in their opinion the child's welfare is jeopardized. A false accusation of neighbors is sometimes sufficient to capture the children from their parents."

Given that Unruh has never told the other side of this story, assuming motives on the part of German officials and letting their critics speak for them is not just presumptuous, it's bad journalism. Unruh worked for the Associated Press for nearly 30 years; he knows better.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:10 AM EST
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Aaron Klein's Mighty Wurlitzer Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 12 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein features criticism of Israel prime minister Ehud Olmert by the Rabbinical Congress for Peace. But as in the past, nowhere does Klein describe the congress' conservative, anti-Olmert agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 PM EST
Coulter Behaves; NewsBusters Shocked
Topic: Newsmax

The folks at NewsBusters may be the only people on the planet who are worried that Ann Coulter isn't aggressive enough.

A Feb. 8 post by Geoffrey Dickens expressed dismay that Coulter was "surprisingly chummy" during a "Today" show face-off with Michael Eric Dyson. A Feb. 12 post by Tim Graham, similiarly concerned by the "remarkably docile debate" between Coulter and "left-wing author and academic" Dyson, did some follow-up and found something disturbing:  Coulter provided a a dust-cover blurb for Dyson's new book. That, of course, gave entree for Graham to loot the MRC archives for Dyson items, plus profess shock at "Dyson's high praise of the autobiography of the black Muslim leader Malcolm X" in a Newsweek article.

Dickens and Graham overlook the possibility that Coulter's "docile" performance could be a realization on her part that her shock-jock-conservative schtick was no longer selling. Or that she, in fact, had nothing to sell: The paperback version of "Godless" won't be out for a few more months and, thus, she had no reason to draw attention to herself. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:29 AM EST
New Article: Accuracy for Moonies?
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 AM EST
Monday, February 12, 2007
WND Press-Release Journalism Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:24 PM EST
Ladies and Gentlemen, Your NewsMax Audience
Topic: Newsmax

From the Feb. 11 NewsMax "Insider Report":

The idea of it may be a non-starter to some – even Savage admits he has little chance of being elected to the nation's highest office – but many NewsMax readers believe he should make the run anyway.

A recent NewsMax online survey finds that some 94 percent of respondents said they would vote for Savage in a Republican primary.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 PM EST
NewsBuster Weirdly Obsessed with LA Times and Obama
Topic: NewsBusters

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?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:55 PM EST
Sunday, February 11, 2007
CNS Mum on Bad Stuff in Backgrounds of Morris, Bossie

A Feb. 9 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. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:07 AM EST
Saturday, February 10, 2007
WND's Double Standard on Campus Ministries
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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? 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:36 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, February 10, 2007 12:42 AM EST
Friday, February 9, 2007
WND Press-Release Journalism Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:51 PM EST
Reagan Wrong on Troop Surge Level
Topic: Newsmax

In a Feb. 9 column, reprinted at NewsMax and, Michael Reagan wrote:

According to CNN News on Wednesday, top Senate Democrats called on Senate Republicans to "stop blocking a debate" on President Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq.

"Before sending another 48,000 young Americans into battle, the Congress owes it to our troops, their families, and their communities to have an honest and open discussion about their mission," the Democrats said in a news release.

Ooops! The President is sending about 21,000 new troops, not 48,000; but then, as noted above, the Democrats never let the truth get in their way when playing the demagogue game.

After all, 48,000 sounds scarier than 21,000.

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:11 PM EST
Does NewsMax Know What A Journalist Is?
Topic: Newsmax

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:03 PM EST
Updated: Friday, February 9, 2007 1:04 PM EST
ConWeb Repeats Dubious Pelosi Plane Allegations
Topic: Newsmax

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 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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:17 AM EST
Updated: Friday, February 9, 2007 1:22 PM EST

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