With the arrival of the verdict in the Scooter Libby case, Media Matters conveniently posted a guide to myths and falsehoods about the case to look out for in news coverage. And right on cue, the ConWeb seemed determined to touch on as many of them as it could.
A March 6 post by Mark Finkelstein made a big deal out of there not being an underlying crime (irrelevant since Libby was charged with obstructing the investigation into whether there was an underlying crime) and that Richard Armitage, not Libby leaked Valerie Plame's name to Robert Novak (also irrelevant -- Libby and Armitage, along with Karl Rove, did leak the name to journalists prior to Novak's printing of it). Finkelstein added that for CBS' Bob Schieffer "[t]o claim, without citing a single damning fact, not only that this is going to hurt the Vice-President 'very badly,' but that the harm will extend to the Bush administration at large, smacks of a smear" ignores a particular "damning fact" or two: that Libby was the chief of staff for the vice president, and he was convicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
A March 6 post (and March 7 CyberAlert item) by Brent Baker also irrelevantly brought up Armitage.
A March 7 post by Finkelstein claimed that "neither Cheney nor Libby could have 'leaked' Plame's identity since it was, thanks to Richard Armitage, already out there." Again, since Libby has been documented chatting up Plame's identity with at least two journalists prior to the publication of Novak's column, he did, in fact, "leak" Plame's identity.
A March 7 post by Scott Whitlock also irrelevantly noted that Plame "had her identity revealed to reporter Bob Novak by an administration critic, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage."
A March 7 post by Tim Graham also mentions Armitage, as well as suggesting that Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, aren "far from victims" because the "have made two book deals and a movie deal." Graham also asked: "But if campaigns to discredit critics were illegal, how many Clinton administration officials would have gone to jail?" But, of course, Libby wasn't convicted of trying to discredit a critic; he was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice.
A March 7 post by Dave Pierre -- you guessed it -- makes a big deal out of Armitage.
In a March 7 column, Phil Brennan stated that "Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed to determine if a specific law concerning the exposure of the identity of members of the intelligence community, in this case the CIA, was violated in the case of one Valerie Plame Wilson." In fact, Fitzgerald was not limited to investigate only possible violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act; the Department of Justice granted Fitzgerald broad "plenary" authority to investigate the "alleged unauthorized disclosure" of Plame's identity.
A March 6 article makes an even more irrelevant reference to Armitage: recounting a conversation between Armitage and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward. Like the others, WND doesn't mention that Libby was also disclosing Plame's identity to reporters before Novak revealed it in his column.
Like rodents deserting a sinking ship, former Clinton intimates seem to be abandoning the the lumbering S.S. Hillary Clinton for the sleek new racing yacht Barack Obama.
What was that NewsMax head Christopher Ruddy was saying about Hillary not getting the "intensity" of "hate" that Bill Clinton got?
The Clinton "intimate" being referred to here is for Clinton White House special counsel Greg Craig. NewsMax adds that Craig played a "most notorious role" as "as Juan Gonzalez's attorney in his fight to seize Juan's son Elian and take him back to Fidel Castro's Cuba." The article goes on to describe how "a terrified Elian was seized from his Miami family relatives by gun-waving federal agents who smashed in the door of his house and stuck a gun in his 6-year-old face."
As we noted at the time, NewsMax said a lot of inflammatory things about Elian's seizure, more than a few of them overblown and contradicted by evidence.
MRC Solo Again on Fox News (Update) Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Tim Graham made an appearance today on Fox News. As in other recent Fox News appearances by MRC representatives, Graham was alone, with no other panelist to counter his claims.
UPDATE: The MRC's Rich Noyes appeared on Fox News later in the day to discuss the same subject as Graham -- Fox News' efforts to gin into a scandal the revelation that a New York Times reporter paid money to a teenage boy who was engaging in Internet pornography in order to gain his trust and write a story about him and, ultimately, get him out of that lifestyle. Unlike Graham, Noyes didn't appear alone; he was joined by ... another conservative, John Fund.
Where's this "fair and balanced" coverage of which Fox News speaks?
New Article: An Offensive Double Standard Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center is normally eager to marshal its forces against those who make remarks it considers offensive. So why won't the MRC criticize Ann Coulter? Read more.
WorldNetDaily continues its self-centered attitude toward website blocking by the military in a March 6 article by Bob Unruh that quotes WND editor Joseph Farah as saying, "WND has proved its willingness to fight for freedom of speech in the past and we will uphold that tradition in the future no matter what the cost," while failing onceagain to note that WND is far from the first mainstream website that the military has blocked its troops from seeing.
If Farah is so willing to "fight for freedom of speech," why won't he and Unruh fight for military access to other websites that are in the same situation as WND?
Bozell Weighs In on Maher -- But Not Coulter Topic: Media Research Center
A March 6 New York Post article quoted Media Research Center president Brent Bozell thusly regarding Bill Maher's comments on Dick Cheney: "Bill Maher is a vile and repugnant human being. ... Anyone who wishes for the death of the vice president in a time of war is, at best, a very sick puppy."
But Bozell has thus far not found the time to weigh in on Ann Coulter's "faggot" remark and the status of her scheduled appearance at the MRC's 20th Anniversary Gala.
That may be because Bozell is buddy-buddy enough with Coulter to do jointappearances on Sean Hannity's radio show.
C'mon, Brent. Is "faggot" not "vile and repugnant"? Is Coulter not "a very sick puppy"? Inquiring minds who genuinely care about media bias want to know.
UPDATE: A March 6 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock calls Coulter's remark a "slur" but refuses to pass judgment on it, complaining instead that "Good Morning America" focused on Coulter and not Maher. He concluded: "Regardless of what one thinks of conservative author and pundit Ann Coulter’s comments, shouldn’t Bill Maher, who is a well known liberal author and pundit, receive similar scrutiny for his 'mean spirited' comments about a failed assassination attempt on the Vice President?" Of course, the MRC has not given to Coulter similar scrutiny -- or much scrutiny at all for that matter -- to that it has given Maher.
The Silence Continues Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center -- which is planning to feature Ann Coulter at its 20th Anniversary Gala on March 29 -- has officially remained silent about Coulter's "faggot" slur. Will the MRC honor its invitation to Coulter, thus condoning her slur, or will it follow the lead of fellow watchdog group, Accuracy in Media, which is discontinuing the sale of her books at its online store?
Then again, silence appears to be the MRC's official policy on Coulter, who has played a role at MRC's annual banquet each of thepastfouryears. A search of the MRC archives turns up no mention whatsoever, let alone criticism, of two of Coulter's most notorious statements -- that "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in [Supreme Court] Justice [John Paul] Stevens' creme brulee" and "My only regret with [Oklahoma City bomber] Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
Can we assume by its silence that the MRC finds no offense whatsoever in Coulter's slurs and threats?
NewsMax Slants Global Warming Article Topic: Newsmax
A March 5 NewsMax article repeats the claim reported in a National Geographic News article that melting of polar ice caps on Mars proves that "the current warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun."
But as with NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard, NewsMax failed to mention the massive holes in this theory that National Geographic documented -- namel, that not only does it apparently fail to take into account changes in Mar's orbit and tilt that would affect changes in Mars' climate, it dismisses the greenhouse effect.
NewsMax also repeats a report from the Danish National Space Center which claims that "the Earth’s climate is strongly influenced by cosmic rays from exploded stars." But previous reports on this claim also note, unlike NewsMax, that these findings may not transfer to natural conditions outside the controlled laboratory environment.
A March 4 NewsBusters post by Tom Blumer uncriticially quoted a statement by House Republican Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "demand[ed] to have regular use of a luxurious C-32 for flights to her San Francisco home and other official trips."
In fact, as has been amplydocumented, there is no evidence beyond anonymous claims that Pelosi "demanded" a "luxurious" plane. House Sergeant at Arms Bill Livingood has explained that it was he who requested Pelosi have access to military aircraft capable of flying nonstop between Washington, D.C., and California.
CNS Reports Coulter Criticism, But ... Topic: CNSNews.com
A March 5 CNSNews.com article by Melanie Hunter reported conservative criticism of Ann Coulter's "faggot" remark. While it, unlike an earlier CNS article, actually reprinted the full remark, the article does not mention the reaction of CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, whose 20th Anniversary Gala on March 29 Coulter is scheduled to be featured at.
Hunter would have had to go, what, down the hall to get Brent Bozell's reaction? (CNS is located inside MRC headquarters in Alexandria, Va.)
The MRC's silence on hosting Coulter's next high-profile gig is interesting.
Meanwhile, another NewsBusters blogger plays the Coulter equivocacy game. This time, it's Justin McCarthy accusing John Edwards of hypocrisy for criticizing Coulter while initially standing by two bloggers for his campaign who had made inflammatory statements before he hired them. Hey, Justin, shouldn't you check into why your MRC bosses lambasted those bloggers but won't say a peep about Coulter?
Non-MRC ConWeb Reaction Mixed on Coulter Topic: The ConWeb
We know that the Media Research Center is havingproblems being critical of Ann Coulter's "faggot" remark. How's the rest of the ConWeb doing?
WorldNetDaily is retreating to the same equivocation mode as NewsBusters. The first original WND article on Coulter's remark is a March 5 column by Tom Flannery whose criticism of Coulter is mostly sarcastic and portrays her as a victim of political correctness:
There are some things you just can't say, not even in jest. And at the top of that list right now is anything derogatory about the "gay" lifestyle or, worse yet, anything that is considered a slur against homosexuals, a protected class of people with special rights which entitle them to live free from all offense.
Flannery claimed that there was a "larger cultural context in which she made her remarks regarding Edwards" and that "the media once more ignored the salient argument she was making to focus instead on the sensational aspect of the language she used." He added that "the same liberal elites who are calling for the public condemnation of Ann Coulter have been largely silent about John Edwards' anti-Christian bloggers."
NewsMax, meanwhile, has posted wirearticles calling Coulter's remark a "slur," but its lead article right now is an article that regurgitates a NewsBusters item on Bill Maher's remarks about Dick Cheney. That item, by the way, falsely portrays Maher's 2001 remarks about the 9/11 hijackers: "Maher got in trouble once before with his televised comments. After the 9/11 attacks, Maher said on his ABC show "Politically Incorrect" that the hijackers were 'warriors' and not 'cowards.'"
In fact, as even the NewsBusters post got right, it was Dinesh D'Souza -- whose new blame-America book NewsMax hasflacked -- who said the hijackers were "warriors," to which Maher responded: "We (the United States) have been cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."
At Accuracy in Media, however, the tone is much different. In a March 5 column, Cliff Kincaid tore into Coulter, calling her remark "[t]he political equivalent of Britney Spears shaving the hair off her head," adding that "Coulter must be a liberal infiltrator whose purpose is to give conservatism a bad name." He also announced that AIM's online store was discontinuing sales of Coulter's books.
UPDATE: Kincaid has added a second column denouncing the equivocation of Coulter's slur with Maher's statement on Cheney, though not entirely for the best reasons: "Such a comparison brings conservatives down to the liberal level. It says that conservatives are incapable of maintaining higher standards." He goes on to question whether Fox News "is serving the interests of the conservatives it claims to represent" for running "trash" as the new show "Red Eye," hosted by "a blogger for the liberal Huffington Post" and "a former college sex columnist whose blog is peppered with obscenities."
CNS Also Downplaying Coulter Comment Topic: CNSNews.com
NewsBusters isn't the only MRC division eager to downplay or equivocate Ann Coulter's calling John Edwards a"faggot." A March 5 CNSNews.com article by Payton Hoegh on Coulter's CPAC speech leads with her attacks on Al Gore. It's not until the fourth paragraph that Hoegh alludes to "[h]er much-publicized 'faggot' comment in relation to former senator and 2008 Democratic Party presidential hopeful John Edwards," but not only does he not repeat the full comment in context, he writes only that it "drew a much cooler response" from the audience.
In fact, as the video shows, while Coulter's slur drew an initial gasp from the audience, it then drew a fairly hearty appaluse -- not exactly a "cool" response.