Joseph Farah, Activist Journalist Topic: WorldNetDaily
It's becoming a bit clearer now what Joseph Farah's new book "Stop the Presses!" is about.
"If you really want to understand how America's great and unique institution of a free press has been deliberately undermined by radical activists masquerading as journalists, backed by big business and encouraged by big government, you have to examine this phenomenon," says Farah in an April 10 WND book-promoting article alleging that "organized social and political activists ... have invaded America's newsrooms, subverting long-established guidelines and ethics codes calling for accuracy, fairness, balance and the avoidance of conflict of interest in journalism." Farah expands on this in his April 10 column, claiming that in his book he is "revealing, for the first time, the way the press was invaded and taken over by radical activists with a perverse and extreme agenda."
The effect of this is to suggest that Farah and WND have no "activist" agenda and follow those "long-established guidelines and ethics codes calling for accuracy, fairness, balance and the avoidance of conflict of interest in journalism." Nothing could be further from the truth.
The agenda Farah and WND have is even more pronounced than the one he accuses the "lamestream media" of having -- anti-liberal, pro-conservative, anti-Clinton, pro-Tancredo. We've repeatedly documented how WND has no concern for accuracy, fairness, and balance. From Jon Dougherty to Aaron Klein to Bob Unruh to Farah himself, WND's writers has shown a longtime disregard for those concepts. Numerousundisclosedconflicts of interest are also a hallmark of WND's reporting. And as for a "perverse and extreme agenda," condoning murder and blacklisting political opponents would arguably fall under that definition.
In other words, Farah is spouting concepts he has no history of following himself, which makes a book by him advocating such concepts close to worthless.
We'll be doing a full review of Farah's book once we get our hands on one. It appears that Farah has not seen fit to send us a review copy. We don't know why -- after all, we are WND's most incisive observer, and we'd like to see if he bothers to live up to his own purported policy of "accuracy, fairness, and balance" by addressing our criticisms in his book.
NewsBusters Bash Imus' Critics -- But Not Imus Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters writers have been quick to attack the critics of Don Imus' racist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team -- but have been nearly mum about Imus himself:
-- An April 10 post by Clay Waters went after "hatemonger" Al Sharption, declaring that his "inflammatory past" is "far more racially divisive than anything Imus said about a women's basketball team." (He did add that Imus' remark was "denigrating.")
-- Mark Finkelstein wanted to know in an April 10 post: "If Don Imus' racially bigoted remark merited a two-week suspension by MSNBC, for how long will MSNBC and HBO ban Bill Maher after his bit of religious bigotry on today's 'Imus in the Morning'?" (Maher called the Bush administration "Stupid and arrogant, in a way only the religious can be.")
-- In another April 10 post, Finkelstein praised Meredith Vieira for having "the gumption to confront Jesse Jackson with his own record of having made a bigoted statement," Matt Lauer got demerite because he "tiptoed to the edge and backed off when confronting Al Sharpton about his racially-charged past."
-- In a April 9 post, Matthew Balan was unhappy that "CNN spent five minutes on the outrageousness of its daily competition: Don Imus’s remarks on MSNBC describing the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as 'nappy-headed hoes.' " Balan then misleadingly asserted that a CNN guest "got it wrong" when she asserted that occasional Imus sports guy Sid Rosenberg "previously made a racial comment," noting that "Rosenberg was banned from Imus’ show in May 2005, after joking about pop singer Kylie Minogue’s breast cancer diagnosis." While that is true, Rosenberg did, in fact, make a "racial comment" in 2001 that Venus and Serena Williams, rather than having their pictures in Playboy, have "a better shot at National Geographic." He was fired after that comment, then rehired.
-- An April 9 post by Finkelstein complained that "not a discouraging word was heard about Sharpton's history of racially-charged statements and actions that go far beyond" former Sen. George Allen's "gaffe" of calling a staffer for his campaign opponent "macaca." (As we've noted, the MRC folks never quite saw "macaca" as an insult.)
Metcalf Repeats Conservative Talking Points on Pelosi Topic: Newsmax
An April 9 NewsMax column by Geoff Metcalf tries to advance a couple of conservative talking points about Nancy Pelosi.
First, Metcalf claims that "Many are comparing Nancy Pelosi to Neville Chamberlain, the infamous British appeaser," for her visit to Syria. By "many," Metcalf seems to be referring to a single Republican operative quoted by fellow NewsMax columnist Ron Kessler.
Metcalf went on to recite questionable claims about the Logan Act, which is designed to prohibit unauthorized persons from intervening in disputes between the United States and foreign governments, asserting that Pelosi "violate[d] the letter and intent of the Logan Act" and that "if ever anyone qualified for having personified a Logan Act violation; for sure it is Nasty Nancy." But a 1975 State Department memo states that nothing in the Logan Act "would appear to restrict members of the Congress from engaging in discussions with foreign officials in pursuance of their legislative duties under the Constitution."
The Gay-Liberal-Pothead-Commie Axis Topic: Accuracy in Media
An April 7 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid starts like this:
Bill Maher was fired by ABC for suggesting the 9/11 terrorists were brave, and the speculation on cable news is that Rosie O'Donnell might be fired by the network for a rambling monologue hinting that 9/11 was an inside job. Maher's comments can be explained by the fact that he is a pothead, but how does one explain O'Donnell? A comic-turned-commentator, she has no identifiable connection to the marijuana movement.
Kincaid goes on to claim that President Bush's "rather tame remarks" in support of traditional marriage and against gay marriage "are vile and hateful only from the point of view of someone who believes American society has been horribly oppressive." From there, he leaps to ... commies!
The sad fact is that homosexuals, by and large, are on the far-left fringes of American politics and many bear a grudge against a society that they feel has been discriminating against them. John Barron's classic book about the activities of the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB, noted that homosexuals were targeted for recruitment because many led secret lives and were susceptible to blackmail, but also because they were perceived to harbor ill will toward their government because of how shabbily they thought they had been treated. As such, they were considered ripe for picking to the anti-American cause. It is noteworthy that the founder of the gay rights movement, Harry Hay, was a Communist.
Kincaid then adds as a CYA measure: "There is absolutely no evidence of O'Donnell associating with communist causes. But her 9/11 comments suggest a view of the U.S. Government and its leaders as capable of any number of horrible crimes." You mean, like, say, torture?
So what's the big beef about Attorney General Gonzales firing a few U.S. attorneys? Doesn't he have the right? Of course he does. Does he have to justify the firing to anybody, specifically the Democrat Congress? Of course not. Does the Congress have the right to question or investigate the firings — as if Democrats haven't done the same thing many times when they've had the majority? Of course not.
Of course, since nobody has the right to question when U.S. attorneys are fired, what does Boone do? That's right -- question the firing of attorneys under the Clinton administration, claiming that they were "motivated almost certainly by anxiety over some of their investigations pending in what became known as the Whitewater scandal." Nowhere does Boone mention that the Clintons were eventually cleared in the Whitewater scandal.
A few liberal bloggers serve up the category of "It's OK If You're A Republican." That appears to be the message Boone is offering.
An April 9 NewsMax column by Ronald Kessler defends the government's terrorist no-fly watch program from critics who say that, at 400,000 names, the list is needlessly large and contains too many innocent people. Kessler claimed that "Americans are included only if they have been convicted of terrorist activities or are under investigation by the FBI," asserted without evidence that "There is a direct correlation between possible terrorists who are denied entry to the U.S. and the fact that we have not been attacked in over five years," and brushed off concerns over the list being too large:
What the ACLU forgets is that people from other countries do not have a right to enter the U.S. Inevitably, some will be listed in error. But the alternative is to limit the list so much that terrorists can enter the country and pull off another 9/11 attack.
Coincidentially, Kessler's article appears at the same time a case has come to light contradicting it. Walter F. Murphy -- a retired Marine and Princeton law professor emeritus who has criticized Roe v. Wade and supported the appointment of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court -- says he found himself on the terrorist watch list for no other apparent reason than publicly criticizing President Bush.
Don't look for Kessler to address this case anytime soon, unless he can find a way to debunk it.
Sacramento Union Tells a Whopper Topic: WorldNetDaily
We like to check in every once in a while with Joseph Farah's former employer (which he helped run into the ground the first time), the Sacramento Union, to see how the latest attempt at revival is going. (This time around, it's a weekly freebie tabloid.) This revival contains a column called "The Bee Hive," designed to attack the city's daily paper, the Sacramento Bee. The April 6 "Bee Hive" makes the following claim:
The Bee ran a front-page article Mar. 20 by James Rosen of the McClatchy Bureau with the alarmist title, “Military Hits Spending High.” This editorial disguised as news alleged that spending for the War in Iraq is the highest in history, even higher than the costs of U.S. participation in World War II.
This was followed by, in large type, "Too bad the claim is pure fiction." That's because Rosen never made that claim. Here's what Rosen actually wrote (emphasis ours):
As the Iraq war enters a fifth year, the conflict that President Bush's aides once said would all but pay for itself with oil revenues is fueling the highest level of defense spending since World War II.
Even with past spending adjusted for inflation, the $630 billion provided for the military this year exceeds the highest annual amounts during the Reagan-era defense buildup, the Vietnam War and the Korean War.
In other words, Rosen did not include World War II in his calculation.
Rather than making any attempt to disprove Rosen's calculations, the "Bee Hive" article tried to divert attention from it by claiming:
Had Rosen pursued this story without a political agenda and sought a real comparison of U.S. war spending now compared to World War II, he would have examined the relative percentages of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) devoted to each campaign. Rosen did not do this because such a comparison would have contradicted his bias. His numbers are off – and not just by a little bit.
In fact, Rosen did give space to a conservative making the GDP comparison:
James Carafano, a defense analyst at the Heritage Institute in Washington, said military spending isn't nearly as high when compared to the overall size of the U.S. economy.
Current defense appropriations equal about 4 percent of the gross domestic product, Carafano said.
That figure is up from the 3 percent level under Clinton, he added, but still a good bit lower than the 7 1/2 percent share during the Cold War.
"When you have a bigger house, you buy more insurance," Carafano said. "When the nation is worth a lot more, we have to spend more to protect it."
If such wildly partisan, factually deficient reporting is indicative of all Union stories, it may be doomed to extinction yet again.
An April 6 WorldNetDaily article regurgitates a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Robert Turner claiming that Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria may have violated a federal law called the Logan Act that prohibits Americans "without authority of the United States," to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any "disputes or controversies with the United States." But as Media Matters pointed out, Turner -- and thus WND -- did not note that no one has apparently ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act, and any assertion as to its application to a member of Congress is speculative at best. At worst, it's hypocritical, since we don't recall conservatives getting worked up about Republicancongressmen visiting foreign countries and contradicting the foreign policy of the (Democratic) president.
This also gave WND an opportunity to rehash Aaron Klein's coffee klatch with his terrorist buddies (well, just two) claiming that they endorse Pelosi's visit.
Both WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com devoted articles uncritically advancing a Zogby-Judicial Watch poll claiming that a majority of Americans believe there will be "high levels of corruption in the White House" if Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2008. But neither article noted Judicial Watch's history of anti-Clinton activism or the poll's slanted, leading questions.
Judicial Watch is, of course, the Richard Mellon Scaife-funded conservative legal group that filed dozens of lawsuits against the Clinton administration during the 1990s. As we've noted, Scaife has given much more money to Judicial Watch than George Soros has to liberal-leaning legal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Further, given that Judicial Watch paid for the Zogby poll, the poll's questions are tailored to give answers that Judicial Watch wants to hear (and promote). As the Washington Post's Dana Milbank pointed out:
The poll [Judicial Watch leader Tom] Fitton commissioned, actually five questions added to a nationwide poll by Zogby International, was rather loaded in its language. "Some people believe that the Bill Clinton administration was corrupt," one question begins. In another question about Hillary Clinton, every answer included the word "corrupt," and the question was not asked about other candidates so that a comparison could be made.
Indeed, here's the first question:
Some people believe that the Bill Clinton administration was corrupt. Whether or not you believe the Clinton administration was corrupt, how concerned are you that there will be high levels of corruption in the White House if Hillary Clinton is elected President in 2008?
Isn't forwarding slanted polls as representative of reality a form of corruption? What say you, Judicial Watch?
We're getting the feeling that we may need to name our Slantie Award for biased news coverage in honor of WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh.
An April 7 WND article by Unruh on an Oregon gay-rights bill quotes only opponents of the bill making claims that Unruh doesn't support with evidence. No proponents of the bill are allowed to respond to them. In fact, he offers no link to the bill itself -- thus giving his readers an opportunity to read the contents for themselves -- even though he links to the websites of the anti-gay groups he quotes.
This is merely the latest article in which he tellsonlyoneside of the story, or lets that side tell the other side, a technique that almost guarantees inaccurate and biased information.
As we've noted, Unruh previously had a career with the Associated Press, so he knows this isn't good or fair journalism. At least, he should.
Galen Spreads Talking Points About Wash. Post Across Two Mediums Topic: CNSNews.com
An April 6 CNSNews.com column by Rich Galen claimed:
The Washington Post -- not exactly known as a semi-official mouthpiece of the Bush administration -- in a Thursday morning editorial called Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's visit with the president of Syria "foolish;" her statements about a diplomatic breakthrough "ludicrous;" and her "attempt to establish a shadow presidency ... counterproductive."
But as Media Matters pointed out when Galen made similar claims on CNN, the Post editorial omitted key information reported in Post news article that undermined the editorial's attacks on Pelosi. Further, rather than being "not exactly known as a semi-official mouthpiece of the Bush administration," the Post's editorials backed several Bush administration policies and have tended to agree with the unambiguously conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Galen also repeats the talking point that Pelosi said "she brought a message to Mr. Assad from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Israel is ready for peace talks with Syria," which Israeli officials contradicted. In fact, Pelosi's office released a statement in response to the editorial, which asserted that Pelosi also made clear that Israel continued to demand that Syria cut ties with extremist groups, and told Assad that "in order for Israel to engage in talks with Syria, the Syrian government must eliminate its links with extremist elements, including Hamas and Hezbollah."
In an April 6 NewsBusters post suggesting that Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria violated federal law, Noel Sheppard asks:
Imagine if you will that in September 1996, just days after America launched a missile strike on Baghdad to expand the “no fly zone,” Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich met with Saddam Hussein to discuss foreign policy matters without the permission of President Clinton.
Would the media have vociferously discussed the possibility that Gingrich had violated federal law in doing so?
Do you think the media would have been as forgiving of Speaker Gingrich if he had so behaved when Clinton was president?
Fortunately, neither we nor Sheppard have to imagine such a scenario. In March 1997, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich went to China without the authorization of the Clinton administration, where he warned China's top leaders that the United States would intervene militarily if Taiwan was attacked -- a position presumably not authorized by Clinton. As Glenn Greenwald notes, the media didn't get particularly worked up about that.
Further, as Greg Sargent points out, conservatives such as Pat Buchanan and John Boehner who have criticized Pelosi's visit endorsed Gingrich's trip to China.
So, Noel, there you go. Not that we expect you to update your post or do anything to acknoweldge it.
UPDATE: Sargent adds that Gingrich went to Israel in 1998 and made statements that directly contradicted Clinton administration policy -- yet is criticizing Pelosi, who in fact has not significantly diverged from Bush administration policy on Syria.
NewsBusters Logic Topic: NewsBusters
In an April 6 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard tells us that it's "disgraceful" and "hostile" for Air America's "Young Turks" to question Jackie Mason about his views on global warming and the Middle East, yet it's apparent not "hostile" for Mason to write a book calling anyone who doesn't agree with him (i.e., liberals) "schmucks."
We Get (And Reply To) Letters Topic: WorldNetDaily
Obama, Iraq & Failing Anti-War Effort!
Those of you in the anti-war movement have helped the pro-troop organization Move America Forward to go up on the television airwaves today with a new ad that takes on those who are undermining our heroic troops and their missions.
At YouTube the patriotic Move America Forward television ad that takes the anti-war crowd (including Cindy Sheehan and Martin Sheen) to task has become a hit - earning a 4.5 star rating out of 5 stars.
You've become so despicable in your actions that America is now turning against you. You are failing.
You promised 100,000 marchers for the "March on the Pentagon" but your march was a total bust with only a few thousand protestors turning out to show solidarity with the terrorists, and speaking out against the fight for freedom.
Leading anti-war senator, Barack Obama, announced this weekend that Congress will not insist on a timetable for withdrawal and surrender in Iraq after all. You've even turned off the more moderate members of your community who have helped me to be able to get this message sent out to you.
We will no longer tolerate the anti-war crowd subjecting America to more terrorist attacks as a result of the defeat-retreat-surrender policies you advocate.
You already have blood on your hands for emboldening the terrorists to kill our troops, we won't let you endanger innocent American citizens here at home.
When you burn American soldiers in effigy you show us which side in the war on terror you stand on, and it's obviously not with America and our military men and women.
We won't back down as you try to appease the forces of Islamic terrorism. We won't allow you to dishonor our troops as you try to reignite a Vietnamized-culture in America.
Melanie Morgan Chairman, Move America Forward www.MoveAmericaForward.org
* * *
Dear Ms. Morgan:
I am in receipt of your letter calling me a member of "the anti-war movement" who advocates a "defeat-retreat-surrender" policy, "appease[s] the forces of Islamic terrorism," "burn[s] American soldiers in effigy" and has "blood on [my] hands for emboldening the terrorists to kill our troops."
But ConWebWatch is not a political advocacy website; it is a media criticism website. I have never publicly advocated an "anti-war" position -- or any other position on the war.
In fact, all I have done nothing to warrant receiving such a letter from you -- except point out examples of your bias, dishonesty and misleadingclaims. In none of these reports, however, have I criticized your position on the Iraq war.
I do not understand the nature of your hostility toward me. Are you really suggesting that any criticism of you is criticism of the Iraq war? If so, isn't that a bit narcissistic of you? And even if I wasn't a specific target of your letter, is taunting and smearing your ideological opposites really a mature way to advance the national debate about the war and its consequences?
All I care about is truth in journalism. It appears, sadly, that all you care about is lashing out at anyone who dares to point out your biased and error-ridden claims.
In an April 5 NewsBusters post, Justin McCarthy misportrays the comments of CBS correspondent Allen Pizzey as criticizing "John McCain’s optimistic statements on Iraqi progress." In fact, it's clear from the interview segment that McCarthy added to his post -- but doesn't otherwise acknowledge -- Pizzey was pointing out that during McCain's recent visit to Iraq while making such statements, he was part of "a large convoy of heavily armed vehicles." Pizzey added:
The last one had a sign on it saying "Keep back 100 yards. Deadly force authorized." Every single car that they approached or passed pulled over and stopped, because that's the way it is. When one of those security details goes by, every ordinary person gets the hell out of the way, in case they get shot. If he did walk around that market, and I didn't see him do it, and he didn't announce he was going to do it, you can bet your life there were an awful lot of soldiers deployed to make sure that nobody came near that place. He's talking rubbish. And he should not get away with it.
In further claiming that Pizzey "completely ignored some positive signs in Iraq in his grim report last month," McCarthy linked to a March 19 post noting a report by Pizzey in which, McCarthy asserted, "Pizzey did not bother to mention reports that insurgent attacks dropped 80 percent since President Bush announced the surge." McCarthy's source for this claim: Anonymous sources at WorldTribune.com, a website that's a side project of Washington Times official Robert Morton. (As Morton's bio reads: "He also organized the re-launch of Insight on the News in November 2005." And we know a credible source of reporting Insight is.) In fact, according to a March 13 UPI article:
The Pentagon said sectarian violence between Baghdad's Sunnis and Shiites has decreased in recent weeks but bombings and other attacks carried out by Sunni insurgents have not slowed.
Yes, UPI is also part of the Washington Times empire, so its reporting is a bit suspect. But a March 30 Pentagon briefing notes that while sectarian violence has decreased -- albeit not by 80 percent, the claim that McCarthy clings to -- "attack levels against coalition forces have remained constant." So it appears that the evidence is lacking to fully support the claim that McCarthy made.