In a March 27 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd gives the ol' college try to resusitating a dead Republican talking point: that the Bush administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys is the same thing as President Clinton dismissing all 93 U.S. attorneys at the start of his administration -- something Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush also did.
After noting that Time's Karen Tumulty stated that the U.S. attorney story deserved "a massive commitment of journalistic resources," Shepard added:
In 1993, Time magazine didn't show the same interest in blowing up the Clinton/Reno firings into a story the public would care about.
MRC/NB's Tim Graham did some digging in Time magazine's coverage as archived by Nexis and found anything but "massive" coverage from Time. In fact, the magazine practically surpressed yawns over possible political calculations behind the firings:
Of course, as we've detailed, the 8-equals-93 analogy is highly flawed.
A March 27 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones on the estate tax quoted only an opponent of the tax, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt, so we can assume that this all came from a press release somewhere. So devoted was Jones to regurgitating the press release that she unquestioningly repeated a false assertion by Blunt: that the 55 percent top rate the estate tax would return to in 2011 if no congressional action is taken in the meantime is "unprecedented."
In fact, that rate has much precedent: 55 percent was the top rate before legislation was passed in 2001 to gradually lower the rate over the next nine years, dropping to zero in 2010.
Further, that 55 percent was/will be the maximum estate tax rate, yet Blunt and Jones portray the it as if it was the only rate; no other rates are mentioned. Blunt and Jones also fail to mention that most people do not pay an estate tax; currently, the first $2 million of an estate is not taxed, meaning that estates worth less than $2 million pay no estate tax at all.
NewsMax is promoting its latest opt-in poll, in which 68 percent said Newt Gingrich was their candidate for president in 2008. While NewsMax does describe the poll as an "Internet poll" and "unscientific," it misleadingly claims that an "overwhelming number of Americans" support Gingrich, which contradicts real polls, which show only a small minority who support Gingrich.
NewsMax, if you'll recall, justloves its meaningless polls, which it "will provide the results of this poll to major media and share them with radio talk show hosts across the country" despite their meaninglessness.
Bogus U.S. Attorney Talking Point of the Day Topic: NewsBusters
Now that the 8-equals-93 argument is no longer operative (not to mention totally bogus), NewsBusters has latched onto a new -- and similarly bogus -- defense for the Bush administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys: Even the liberal Dianne Feinstein was concerned about one prosecutor's record.
From a March 23 post by Justin McCarthy cheering on Bill O'Reilly's similar defense:
The mainstream media hinted that the administration fired San Diego attorney Carol Lam for prosecuting former Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. What they failed to report is that Ms. Lam did not aggressively prosecute illegal alien criminals. Her lax approach concerned even Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein.
Ken Shepherd repeated that talking point in a March 26 post:
Largely left by the wayside in mainstream media reporting have been legitimate deviations the fired attorneys exhibited from Bush Justice Department priorities, such as immigration enforcement -- for instance, San Diego-based attorney Carol Lam's prosecution of immigration cases reportedly bothered the decidedly unconservative Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) -- and pushing for the death penalty in capital cases.
That link in Shepherd's item goes to a March 25 Associated Press article that noted Feinstein's concern about Lam's record on immigration cases. But it also includes a line that Shepherd didn't pass along to his readers: "Feinstein has said her concerns on that front were subsequently satisfied and that it's 'bogus' to use her letter as evidence supporting Lam's dismissal."
Indeed, if the Bush Justice Department was concerned about Lam's record on immigration cases, it didn't show it. Similarly unmention by either McCarthy or Shepherd is a March 14 AP article noting that when Feinstein contacted the Justice Department with her concerns about Lam, she received a reply from associate deputy attorney general William Moschella, in which he described Lam's immigration smuggling caseload as rising "favorably" in 2006.
So, if Lam's immigration caseload was rising "favorably," that seems to undercut the argument advanced by O'Reilly, McCarthy and Shepherd that Lam was fired for lax immigration enforcement.
UPDATE: TPM Muckraker details Lam's record on immigration and the Justice Department's apparent lack of discussion of the issue with Lam before firing her -- thus further undermining the talking point.
Catherine Moy -- co-author with radio host and WorldNetDaily columnist Melanie Morgan of a Cindy Sheehan-bashing book -- seems to be enamored with sensational claims that are poorly sourced or not sourced at all.
We see that an article she wrote for her blog on Morgan's website, repeated on the website of Gathering of Eagles, a group that led a counter-protest of sorts during a recent anti-war protest, repeats the claim that there was a "30,000-strong crowd of pro-troop supporters" taking part. But as Sadly, No! points out, despite Gathering of Eagles' claims and suggestions to the contrary, the National Park Service no longer offers official estimates for crowd gatherings on the Mall in Washington, and evidence suggests that the total number of Eagles who did show up is someewhat less than 30,000.
Earlier this year, Media Matters caught Moy taking the word of a genuine crazy person ranting about Barack Obama. Given that, plus Moy's promotion of an unconfirmed (and unconfirmable) attendance number, we can only wonder how solid the claims in her and Morgan's anti-Sheehan book are.
A March 23 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd details less-than-respectful responses by commenters at Huffington Post to the news that White House press secretary Tony Snow will be undergoing surgery.
Given that NewsBusters posters and commenters have a history of hostility toward journalists -- even hoping they get gravely injured covering the Iraq war -- this is not a subject to which we'd think Shepherd would want to draw attention.
WND's New One-Source Wonder Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh has apparently been made the designated inheritor of Jon Dougherty's legacy of one-sided and one-source stories (as his slanted work on the Melissa Buskeros case demonstrates). A March 23 WND article by Unruh reports on a Kansas state senator's complaint against a judge with alleged "financial ties to the attorney of notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller and others while ruling in Tiller's favor in a criminal case" without making any apparent effort to contact the judge or his representatives for a response.
It's no surprise to see Noel Sheppard rhapsodizing in a March 23 NewsBusters post over Glenn Beck's anti-Rosie O'Donnell rant. It may, however, surprise some of his readers to learn where his source material came from.
The transcript segments look just like the ones that appeared in a Media Matters item on Beck's rant. And the audio clip of the rant being hosted on the NewsBusters website sounds suspiciously like Media Matters' audio clip.
But nowhere does Sheppard credit Media Matters. The only credit he lists is "Ian at Hot Air." But Ian's Hot Air post links to the Media Matters audio clip and properly adds, "(audio and transcript provided by Media Matters)."
Granted, we work at Media Matters, so we notice this kind of stuff. But you'd think Sheppard would want to link to Media Matters' feed instead of pilfering it to host on NewsBusters, if only to jack up Media Matters' bandwidth fees.
After all, without Media Matters, Sheppard wouldn't have a post, and he would be forced to spend more time copying and pasting press releases from James Inhofe.
We don't really have this award, but Michael Reagan certainly deserves something for the most desperate attempt we've seen to pin a scandal -- in this case, the Walter Reed scandal -- on the Democrats. From his March 16 NewsMax column:
The fact of the matter is that those veterans forced to live in substandard quarters and receiving extraordinary medical care were victims, not of the Army, but of the federal bureaucracy which operates under rules and restrictions dictated by the Congress when it was under the control of the Democrats.
Wow. Just ... wow. Needless to say, Reagan offers no evidence to back up this claim.
Both NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard and NewsMax signed on to do the bidding of Sen. James Inhofe (and his lackey, Marc Morano) by reliably regurgitating Inhofe's press release claiming that, during his Senate testimony about global warming, Al Gore "refused" to take Inhofe's "Personal Energy Ethics Pledge," in which he demanded that Gore "consume no more energy for use in [his] residence than the average American household by March 21, 2008."
In fact, Inhofe, apparently forgetting that he was no longer a committee chairman, repeatedly interrupted Goreas he tried to answer Inhofe's demand that he take the pledge -- one Inhofe himself has demonstrated no evidence of following -- as he explained his purchase of wind energy and other green energy that does not produce carbon dioxide, his efforts to be "carbon neutral" and to install solar panels at his home, all of which meets Inhofe's requirement of "reducing ... fossil fuel-based home energy usage."
So, Noel, NewsMax ... how does that Kool-Aid taste?
UPDATE: WorldNetDaily slurps from the cup as well in a March 23 article, lavishing attention on Inhofe's statements but failing to quote Gore's testimony at all, saying only that "the record shows Gore refused." WND's idea of "the record"? Inhofe's press release.
Judicial Watch Misleads on Attorneys-Travel Office Comparison Topic: CNSNews.com
A March 20 CNSNews.com commentary by Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton does what we recommended and what nobody else associated with the Media Research Center will do -- compare the Bush administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys to the Clinton administration's firing of the the White House travel office employees. But Fitton leaves out details to make the travel office firings, and thus the Clinons, worse.
While conceding that, like the attorneys, the travel office employees "served at the pleasure of the president," Fitton asserted that they "did not deserve to be fired" because they were "long-time career employees" and office director Billy Dale "had been in his position since the Clinton administration." Fitton also claimed that "the Clinton White House manufactured bogus allegations against the employees"; in fact, even independent counsel Robert Ray noted in his final report on the travel office imbroglio that there was "evidence of financial mismanagement" at the travel office at the time of the firings.
Fitton also asserted that "Hillary was nearly indicted for lying to a grand jury about the firings." In fact, Ray ruled that "there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Clinton's statements to this Office or to Congress were knowingly false."
And of course, Fitton couldn't end things without citing the bogus eight-equals-93 comparison.
Kessler Fluffs Bush, Wonders Why He Won't Call Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax's Ronald Kessler continues his Bush-fluffing work with a March 21 article that dials up the old (misleading) conservative talking points on the U.S. attorney firing scandal.
Out of the box, Kessler claims that "the firings were no more improper than the Clinton administration's dismissal of 93 U.S. Attorneys in 1993." But as we've detailed, there are important differences. He then claims that "a fair reading of the emails relating to the firings makes it clear that, rightly or wrongly, the eight were singled out because of job performance." Unless you count refusal to press bogus voter fraud claims against Democrats a "job performance" issue, that's not exactly true either.
But then Kessler seems to start complaining that despite all his suck-up for the administration, Bush officials won't give him the time of day:
To be sure, the liberal media will always try to portray a Republican president in a bad light. But reporters who are fed behind-the-scenes tidbits find it harder to write one-sided stories.
One of those "reporters who are fed behind-the-scenes tidbits" Kessler is referring to is, presumably, himself.; after all, we already know of his propensity for writing "one-sided stories" for the benefit of the Bushies. He adds that "even when it has a good case to make, the White House sometimes fails to communicate it to conservative supporters." Again, that's a presumed reference to himself.
Still, getting blown off like he has won't stop Kessler from his appointed Bush-fluffing rounds; he makes sure to point out that "like Ronald Reagan, President Bush will one day be seen as one of the great presidents because he has made us safer," citing his own hugely fluff-laden, post-November election buck-up-little-Republican-campers column as evidence.
A March 20 NewsMax article regurgitates verbatim a press release from Sen. James Inhofe claiming that Al Gore committed a "clear violation" of Senate committee rules by not submitting copies of his committee testimony 48 hours before.
But what NewsMax and Inhofe (via Marc Morano) don't report is that the committee chairman has the discretion to waive or ignore that requirement. Further, Sen. Barbara Boxer has noted that at least four Republicans have violated that same rule without apparent protest from Inhofe.
CNS Finally Tells Other Side of Attorney Story Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com finally does some substantive reporting on the Democrats' side of the fired U.S. attorneys story. Well, "reporting" may be a bit of a stretch; what a March 21 CNS article by Susan Jones mostly does is pull items out of a press release issued by Harry Reid. While Jones allows the majority of the claims to stand unchallenged, she also makes sure to inform us that she's pulling it from a "news release" and that these are Democratic "talking points" -- something we suspect Jones doesn't point out when she rewrites press releases by Republicans.
Despite Claims, NewsMax Still Clinton-Bashing Topic: Newsmax
More evidence contradicting Christopher Ruddy's claim that he's mellowed about the Clintons: NewsMax is promoting R. Emmett Tyrrell's new Clinton-bashing book with a rapturous review by Paul Crespo ("immensely informative and highly readable") and by giving it away with new subscriptions to its magazine.