A March 14 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker again latches onto the misleading meme that the Bush's administration's firing of eight federal prosecutors for partisan reasons is smaller deal than President Clinton doing something that Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush have done. Baker also repeats the false claim first advanced by the Wall Street Journal that fired Washington prosecutor John McKay "ignored very real evidence of voter fraud" in the 2004 Washington governor's race. In fact, as we noted when Mark Finkelstein cited that heavily flawed editorial, McKay did investigate but found "no evidence of voter fraud."
Then, in a March 14 appearance of Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," Brent Bozell spouts this stuff once more, laughably prefacing it by stating, "I'm not here to carry the water for Bush administration."
On the other hand, this is the first appearance by an MRC representative on Fox News in the pastfewweeks in which he is in danger of facing questions from someone who is an ideological opposite.
How many things are wrong with this March 14 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh about alleged " 'gay' indocrination"? Let us count the ways:
-- Unruh claims the school in question held "a "gay" indoctrination seminar and that students were "exposed to the pro-homosexual propaganda," but he offers no examples of what was allegedly taught, let alone why it's "indoctrination."
-- Unruh's use of the term "pro-homosexual" is an apparent use of the depiction-equals-approval fallacy, the baseless assumption that because something is not criticized, it is endorsed.
-- Unruh's only source for the article is Concerned Women for America. He quotes a representative from the school district, but that quote came from CWA and was, in fact, cribbed from a CWA press release. Unruh himself made no effort to contact the school district for a response.
-- Unruh links to a previous article he wrote in which schools are "teaching homosexuality to children." The Feb. 24 article claimed that a Massachusetts judge "order[ed] that it is reasonable, indeed there is an obligation, for public schools to teach young children to accept and endorse homosexuality" -- an another apparent invocation of the depiction-equals-approval fallacy. But that article, as well as Unruh's summation of it in the March 14 article, offers no link to the ruling itself but describes it in the most dire, slanted terms. An example: 'And, he said, since history "includes instances of … official discrimination against gays and lesbians … it is reasonable for public educators to teach elementary school students … different sexual orientations.'" What is Unruh snnipping out that needs three ellipses to shape the ruling to his desired presentation?
To sum up: Unruh wrote a lazy, one-sided article full of loaded language and unbalanced, trumped-up claims. Is that anyone's definition of good journalism outside of Joseph Farah's dictates in WND's offices?
A March 14 Media Research Center "Media Reality Check" asks the following question: "How can firing eight be a 'crisis' and firing 93 be not worth a solitary mention?"
It doesn't tell readers the answer -- par for the course for the MRC, which is still mindlessly repeating the Bush administration line on this story. Indeed, spouting Bush talking points is what the MRC does.
Finkelstein Joins the Bandwagon Topic: NewsBusters
Mark Finkelstein joins the MRC's faulty-conservative-meme bandwagon with a March 14 NewsBusters post that asserted that ABC, in an interview with Hillary Clinton over the Bush attorney firings, had "an obligation to let viewers know that her husband's administration had itself peremptorily fired more than ten times that many US attorneys."
To counter Clinton's description of the difference between the Bush firings and "her husband's administration" replacing U.S. attorneys at the start of the administration -- "When a new president comes in, a new president gets to clean house" -- Finkelstein responded, "But as the Wall Street Journal had documented in an editorial this morning, The Hubbell Standard, it is simply untrue that 'everybody did it' as Hillary suggests." But that editorial contains numerous documented and apparent factual errors, one of which Finkelstein repeated.
The Journal editorial claimed that the Clinton administration's action was "unprecedented" because "Previous Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, had both retained holdovers from the previous Administration and only replaced them gradually as their tenures expired." But in a Washington Post online chat, Stuart Gerson, assistant attorney general under George H.W. Bush and acting attorney general for the first weeks of the Clinton administration, said: "It is customary for a President to replace U.S. Attorneys at the beginning of a term. Ronald Reagan replaced every sitting U.S. Attorney when he appointed his first Attorney General." (h/t: Talking Points Memo.)
Other apparent errors and omissions in the Journal editorial, as noted by Media Matters:
-- It described one fired attorney, John McKay, as a Democrat when he appears to be a Republican and falsely claimed that McKay didn't investigate Republican allegations of voter fraud in the 2004 Washington gubernatorial race (the Democrat was declared the winner by 129 votes) when, in fact, he did and found "no evidence of voter fraud."
-- It claimed that, after the Clinton purge, " 'Friend of Bill' Paula Casey as the U.S. Attorney for Little Rock" in order to avoid an investigation into "the Clintons' Whitewater dealings," adding, "Ms. Casey never did bring any big Whitewater indictments." But the editorial failed to note that Charles A. Banks, the U.S. attorney whom Casey replaced, had himself resisted investigating the Whitewater matter, reportedly in defiance of pressure from George H.W. Bush administration officials in search of a pre-election issue with which to tar challenger Clinton. Further, none of the special/independent counsels that were later appointed saw fit to indict the Clintons on Whitewater-related charges.
That's a lot of errors, omissions and contradictory information for a single editorial. Perhaps Finkelstein might want to find a more accurate source of information.
CNS Still Silent on MRC Link to Coulter Topic: CNSNews.com
A March 14 CNSNews.com article by Nathan Burchfiel on "the aftermath of Ann Coulter's controversial remarks about presidential candidate John Edwards focuses mainly on "liberals in the blogosphere" who are rallying to encourage newspapers to drop Coulter's column and for companies to pull their ads from Coulter's website.
This makes yet another instance in which CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, has yet to make an official statement about Coulter's remarks, let alone criticize her -- despite the fact that Coulter is scheduled to appear at the MRC's 20th Anniversary Gala on March 29, a mere two weeks away. Wouldn't such an appearance, coupled with its silence on her "faggot" slur, leave the unmistakable impression that Brent Bozell and the MRC crew condones Coulter's remarks?
Kessler Serves Up Fluff, Counter-Fluff Topic: Newsmax
A March 13 NewsMax article by Ronald Kessler that seeks to downplay alleged FBI misuse of post-9/11 laws on gathering intelligence as "wildly overblown" includes another item at the end -- countering the fluff of his FBI defense -- about the case of two Border Patrol agents imprisoned for shooting at a fleeing illegal immigrant then covering up the incident. He claims that "in orchestrating a campaign to pardon former Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and others carefully omit" the fact that "a law enforcement officer may lawfully shoot only if he believes that an individual is about to kill or seriously harm the officer or another human being":
Knowing the shooting was unjustified, the two agents then collected the spent shell casings, failed to report the shooting, and covered it up in reports.
A jury heard the evidence and convicted them of assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Contrary to what Rohrabacher has said, the case did not depend on the word of the drug smuggler. A federal judge sentenced [Ignacio] Ramos to 11 years in prison and [Jose] Compean to 12 years in prison.
The case comes down to a simple fact: Law enforcement officers do not have the right to summarily punish those they think have committed crimes.
Speaking of Nauseating ... Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell dutifully repeats those conservative talking points on the U.S. attorney scandal:
“The replacement of federal prosecutors, who are political appointees in the first place, happens with nearly every Administration yet the liberal media are treating Bush’s actions as some sort of shocking political scandal – poppycock! The Bush Administration fired eight—eight!—U.S. attorneys while the Clinton Administration fired 93 of them. The liberal media are screaming about Bush but, by and large, yawned about Clinton. The double standard is nauseating.
“The Washington Post says, Bush ‘Firings Had Genesis in White House.’ Well, so did the Clinton firings, but The Post called those routine. The New York Times has hyped the Bush and Gonzales story but completely ignored the Clinton-Reno firings. And so have ABC’s Good Morning America, ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson, and other top liberal media.
“The liberal media are promoting the agenda of liberal Democrats on this attorneys’ issue, and the double standard, the rank hypocrisy is evident for the world to see. This type of grossly slanted coverage only further erodes the credibility of the networks and the top newspapers.”
No, what's nauseating (if not exactly surprising) is seeing Bozell ignore basic facts and distort others for the sole reason of protecting a Republican administration. What Bozell won't tell you:
Replacing all attorneys in the middle of a presidential term, as was reportedly considered by the Bush administration, is something not even Clinton did.
Evidence is mounting that the eight (er, we mean "eight!") fired attorneys were canned for prosecuting too many Republicans and not enough Democrats.
Bush is making use of a provision that allows the Justice Department to appoint interim attorneys without district court or congressional approval -- slipped into a Patriot Act reauthorization bill without debate -- that Clinton did not have to install attorneys known more for political connections to Bush than prosecuting prowess.
Is it any wonder few people outside the conservative community take the MRC seriously when Bozell so aggressively departs from the truth?
P.S.: A March 14 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones similarly toes the corporate line by repeating the faulty talking point and ignoring the facts.
P.P.S. McClatchy further explains why the Clinton situation is not analogous to the current situation.
New Article: Godwin's Waiting Room Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily uses a German incident to smear supporters of public education as Nazis -- but its bedrock claim about Hitler being responsible for mandatory education in Germany may not even be true. Read more.
Meanwhile ... Topic: CNSNews.com Media Matters details how a March 13 CNSNews.com commentary by Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch fails to tell the full story about Barack Obama's "questionable behavior" regarding stock purchases -- namely, that once he realized his blind trust had invested in companies with business before the federal government, he sold the stocks at a loss.
CNS Unearths Christian Coin Dealer Topic: CNSNews.com
Who knew there was a fundamentalist Christian activist who was a coin dealer?
Randy Hall did, and he quotes the guy in a March 9 CNSNews.com article. Hall found the dealer, Troy Thoreson, spouting the usual right-wing stuff about the U.S. Mint's moving "In God We Trust" to the edge of the new presidential dollar coin:
"When this story first started to develop from the U.S. Mint, I could see the writing on the wall," said Thoreson, whose primary expertise is in dealing with modern coins.
Not only would this be the first time since 1866 that the national motto would not appear on the front or back of American dollar coins, but there would also be some "godless coins" since a number of them would accidentally go through the stamping process without having "In God We Trust" imprinted on them, he noted.
Thoreson offered a suggestion to those who decide to boycott the new coins - boycott the earlier dollar coins too.
"If the U.S. populace really wants to make a statement here - because these coins have little or no numismatic value - what they should do is find any 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollars or any 2000 Sacagawea dollars they have laying around," Thoreson said.
"Take them to your bank and turn those in as a protest about not having 'In God We Trust' on the front or the back of the new coins," he said. "That will drive the government crazy, because the banks are going to send them right back to the Federal Reserve, which is trying to get rid of them.
"And if you're a collector, you just need three of these coins: one with the inscription printed properly, one with the inscription accidentally printed upside-down and one of those that have no inscription at all," Thoreson added. "Get your one example of each and take the rest back down to the bank."
One question that Hall appears not to have asked: Does Thoreson so object to these new dollar coins that he would not deal in them, even if the government caves to his demands and withdraws it, thus increasing the numismatic value of those coins?
This, by the way, was the second article in two days on the issue, following a March 8 article by Susan Jones.
Whitlock Misleads on Attorney Firings (Update) Topic: NewsBusters
A March 13 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock complained that ABC reported on the apparently politically motivated firings of several federal prosecutors by the Bush administration, but "when President Clinton fired 93 attorneys at the beginning of his first term, ABC never mentioned the story."
But the two situations are not analogous. Clinton replaced all federal prosecutors upon entering office, and Whitlock notes no evidence that Clinton was retaliating against any or all of them for specific reasons, other than repeating the MRC's own contemporanous speculation that "Clintonites made the move to take U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens off the House Post Office investigation of Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski." Meanwhile, the Bush administration's firing of several prosecutors comes in the middle of Bush's second term, and evidence is mounting that they were let go for partisan reasons -- prosecuting too many Republicans and not enough Democrats.
Whitlock did not note whether ABC reported President Bush's similar firing of most U.S. attorneys when he took office in 2001 -- a much more analogous situation to Clinton's -- nor did he even mention that Bush, in fact, did fire those prosecutors. Whitlock also failed to mention another analogous situation: the Washington Post's report that the Bush administration considered replacing all federal prosecutors in 2005.
UPDATE: Brent Bozell's March 13 column makes the same misleading conflation, with the added deception of mentioning nothing about why the Bush firings have become a controversy. Like Whitlock, Bozell also fails to mention that like Clinton, Bush replaced most U.S. attorneys when he took office and considered replacing them all again in 2005.
This stuff's coming on quite suddenly. Was there, like, some meeting among the Conservative Elite earlier this week to hammer out this meme (and to ignore its logical inconsistency)?
UPDATE 2: It would appear so -- and Fox News sat in on it. Brent Baker, in a new post, praised Brit Hume for "scolding his media colleagues for how 'news stories reporting that the Bush administration had considered firing all 93 U.S. attorneys across the country [in 2005] failed to mention that that is exactly what Bill Clinton did soon after taking office back in 1993.' " Of course, this is another misleading comparison: Bush's proposal of replacing all the attorneys that he himself had appointed four years earlier was something that not even Clinton did.
However, it may be the closest we get to the MRC admitting that Bush followed in Clinton's footsteps on this issue.
UPDATE 3: Another post by Baker falsely conflates Clinton's attorney replacement with the current round of Bush's replacements (and doesn't report that Bush did the same thing Clinton did in 2001 and thought about doing it in 2005).
None of these NewsBusters posts, by the way, mention the current circumstances under which the attorneys are being replaced -- under a provision snuck into the USA Patriot Act reauthorization that allows the Justice Department to appoint interim prosecutors without district court or congressional authorization. That's not a power Clinton had.
MRC, aka The Fox News Defense Society Topic: Media Research Center
As we've previouslydetailed, the Media Research Center will never admit that Fox News is conservatively biased, despite the copious evidence to support the claim, and will defend Fox News against such accusations.
The MRC pulls that duty once again over the controversy regarding Nevada Democrats' pulling out of a presidential candidate debate sponsored by Fox News. A March 12 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker take Fox News' side, down to echoing the channel's attack on "radical fringe" groups who it blames for undoing the debate; Baker drops references to "the far Left" and "left-wing activists." Baker obsequiously adds that "[t]he idea that Fox runs biased debates is a bum rap" because it co-hosted two Democratic presidential candidates in 2003 and nobody complained then and that the Nevada Democratic Party's stated reason for withdrawing -- Fox News CEO Roger Ailes' deliberate confusion of Barack Obama with Osama bin Laden -- was a "thin reed" to grasp on because it was "a joke that basically mocked President Bush."
Baker then decalared:
Journalists who care about their profession should be appalled by such reasoning and repudiate the campaign to silence their brethren at Fox News, but the debate cancellation has so far been given relatively slight coverage from the other networks. And some of those journalists who work for other news organizations need to ask Senators Edwards and Reid whether or not they share the far Left’s belief that the Fox News Channel is nothing but a GOP mouthpiece.
It's impossible to imagine that the establishment media would be so silent if conservatives or Republicans were working to ostracize a liberal media outlet.
It's similarly impossible to imagine that Baker would be taking the same position he is now if "conservatives or Republicans were working to ostracize a liberal media outlet"; in fact, he'd probably be compiling the anecdotal evidence to support the effort. After all, encouraging conservatives to ostracize "liberal media outlets" is the MRC's raison d'etre.
NewsMax Spins Romney's Abortion Flip-Flop As Reaganesque Topic: Newsmax
More evidence that Mitt Romney is sewing up the crucial NewsMax endorsement: A March 12 article that spins his flip-flop on abortion following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan. The article lists other politicians who "shifted on abortion as they set their sights on the presidency," but the headline reads, "Mitt Romney Like Ronald Reagan on Abortion Switch."
In a March 11 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein noted Fox News host Brit Hume's reaction to John Edwards' refusal to partiticipate in a Nevada presidential candidate debate sponsored by Fox News -- and ultimately cancellation of the debate after the Nevada state Democratic party refused to participate. Hume said that it's "a shrewd political move by him" because "what Edwards knows is that while he may be at war against Fox News, Fox News is not and cannot be at war with him." Finkelstein called Hume's statement "a fair-and-balanced comment reflecting an appreciation of real politik."
But while Finkelstein noted "pressure from liberal netroots and organizations such as Move.on" on Democrats to pull out of the debate, he didn't mention the stated reason Nevada Democrats gave for ultimately doing so -- Fox News honcho Roger Ailes' deliberate confusion of Barack Obama with Osama bin Laden. Nor did Finkelstein note the reaction of Fox News vice president David Rhodes to the news, in which he, as noted by Tim Graham in a March 9 post, attacked Nevada Democrats as being "controlled by radical fringe out-of-state interest groups." Sounds like a couple of people at Fox News are "at war" with certain Democrats. (Graham noted the cancellation of the debate but minimized Ailes' Obama comment: "It's a dumb-Bush joke, and Democrats object. And don't they know CNN has confused the names twice?")
Finkelstein also didn't note that there's at least one more presidental candidate who is "at war" with a media outlet. That, of course, is Mitt Romney: He has claimed that the "mainstream media" is attacking him "with hammer and tong" because he is "the conservative candidate."