Media Matters notes that NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield was part of the army of right-wing bloggers who promoted the false claim that Barack Obama muffed a statistic about the gas mileage of Japanese cars.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
Then and Now, Fake But Accurate Edition
"The claim that CBS's forged documents were 'fake but accurate' has been subjected to well-deserved derision."
-- War Blog, FrontMageMag, Sept. 24, 2004"The statistics in his article were incorrect, but the points the article makes about liberal hypocrisy and liberal racism were not."
-- David Horowitz, May 10 FrontPageMag blog entry on Lawrence Auster's FrontPageMag article on "the legal lynching of the Duke students," in which he misinterpreted federal statistics to falsely assert that were no rapes of black women by white men in 2005.
A Dare Accepted
Dear Mr. Farah:
In your May 11 WorldNetDaily column, you note that your April 16 article on the alleged health hazards of compact fluorescent lights is used as an "example" of a fallacious charge on Snopes. You write:
We'll take you up on that dare.
You did, in fact, suggest the "nonsense" that "An environmental clean-up crew needs to be called in to deal with the mercury dispersed by one broken CFL bulb." Quoting from your April 16 article:
Further, while the Ellsworth American newspaper article you apparently lifted the Bridges story from quotes a spokesman for Maine's Department of Environmental Protection points out that it "isn’t necessary to hire professionals at all” for a light bulb and quotes the state toxicologist as saying it would be unlikely that a person could contract mercury poisoning from the levels of mercury found in Bridges’ daughter’s room, you included none of that information in your article. By listing only the $2,000 cleanup job as an option for cleaning up the broken bulb, you committed bias by omission and created a highly misleading -- if not, in the words of Snopes, "fallacious" -- article.
If the "original article" that you claim "not a word of ... has been altered" is the Ellsworth American article, you did indeed "alter" it by not completely reporting all the relevant claims it made -- specifically, that a $2,000 cleanup job is not the only option Bridges has.
That newspaper article also noted that Bridges has "spent roughly two to three hours a day over the past several weeks, talking on the phone and in person and contacting local papers to get the word out on what she believes are dangerous light bulbs." Is WorldNetDaily one of the news outlets to whom Bridges shopped her story?
You conclude your column by stating: "Long story short: Learn to trust those with track records of honesty, integrity and standards. WND has those traits." No, it doesn't; Refusal to report crucial, complete information -- information you failed to include in your original article on CFLs -- is not the hallmark of a news organization that puts into practice "honesty, integrity and standards."
Thursday, May 10, 2007
WND Hypes 'Anti-God' Starbucks Cups, Buries 'Pro-God' Cups
A May 6 WorldNetDaily article reported that Starbucks had a coffee cup in its "The Way I See It" series of quotes that included what it called an "anti-God" quotation. WND followed up the next day with an opt-in poll asking, "What do you think of the so-called "anti-God" message on Starbucks coffee cups?" The third-place answer, with 21 percent, was, "I bet Starbucks would not print a quote promoting the belief in the God of the Bible."
Nowhere did it note the fact that, as Pandagon pointed out, Starbucks does, in fact, have cups with "pro-God" sayings.
Pandagon's post appeared in the morning of May 9; WND followed up on the evening of May 9 with an article by Joe Kovacs proclaiming: "Starbucks markets more anti-God cups." Kovacs cites only one other "anti-God" cup that didn't appear in the previous WND article: a quote from humorist Joel stein stating that "Heaven is totally overrated" and that "They're basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell." Kovacs even cited the results of WND's opt-in poll on the issue -- but didn't mention that the gripe out that Starbucks wouldn't promote God or the Bible.
It's not until the 16th paragraph of his article that Kovacs notes that "Starbucks provided WND with some cup messages that could be viewed as 'pro-God.' " One of them, though, is from 'Purpose-Driven Life" mogul Rick Warren, whom WND is currently feuding with.
Doesn't the fact that Starbucks offers "pro-God" cups negate criticism over the "anti-God" cups? Or is Kovacs' and WND's goal to attack and marginalize anything that could be considered criticism of Christianity? They don't say.
CNS Follows WND's Template, Misleads on Fluorescent Bulbs
A May 10 CNSNews.com article by Fred Lucas took a page out of WorldNetDaily's notebook to make misleadingly alarmist claims about compact fluorescent lights. Focusing on the that WND's Joseph Farah did -- that of the Brandi Bridges family -- stating that "Bridges dropped a fluorescent bulb in her daughter's room and it shattered, leaving potentially unsafe levels of mercury inside the rug. At the suggestions of the state's Department of Environmental Protection, she now has to pay $2,000 for a professional environmental clean up. Her seven-year-old daughter sleeps in the family room, as her room is sealed off by plastic."
But like Farah, Lucas descends into scaremongering and ignored information showing that the Bridges case was overblown. Like Farah, Lucas fails to mention that, according to the newspaper article from which they both apparently took their claims about the Bridges case, another spokesman for Maine's Department of Environmental Protection points out that it "isn’t necessary to hire professionals at all” for a light bulb, and that the specialist who responded to Bridges’ broken bulb was trained to respond to chemical spills and to clean up such spills to "appropriate standards."
Lucas wrote that "In Bridges' case, the shattered glass couldn't be easily removed from the carpet and reached a level of 1,939 ng/m3 (monograms per cubic meter) in the single area. For her daughter's entire room, the levels in the air were well below 300, considered the threshold for safety." But the newspaper reported the rest of the story:
Lucas also failed to mention that, acccording to the newspaper, Bridges "spent roughly two to three hours a day over the past several weeks, talking on the phone and in person and contacting local papers to get the word out on what she believes are dangerous light bulbs." Was CNS one of the news outlets Bridges contacted in her media blitz?
WND Promotes Skewed Abstinence Poll
A May 8 WorldNetDaily article promoted a "Zogby Poll done for the National Abstinence Education Association" which claimed that "nine out of 10 parents agree being sexually abstinent is best for their child's health and future and, mostly, believe the message to wait is lost when sex education teaches the use of contraceptives." The article quotes Valerie Huber, the association's executive director, as saying that the poll "also reveals the preference for abstinence-only education programs rises sharply – from 40 percent to 60 percent – when parents understand that sex education programs encompassing contraceptives do encourage sexual activity."
But a closer look at the poll shows it to be, in essence, a push poll designed to elicit that response.
Of course, since the National Abstinence Education Association paid Zogby for this poll, the entire point is to obtain results that conform with their agenda, and a look at the poll questions show how that was done. Before the survey got to the que4stion asking whether "Sex Education classes in public schools should place more emphasis on promoting abstinence rather than on condom and other contraceptive use" (question 18), respondents were targeted with a series of questions with scary, unsupported and/or unexplained claims:
The poll questions also, without evidence, unfavorably compare comprehensive sex education with abstinence-only sex ed:
The poll offers respondents no evidence for its attacks on comprehensive sex ed, nor does it raise questions about the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex ed (remember who paid for the poll). Indeed, a week after the polling was completed, a congressional study reported that abstinence-only sex ed does not keep teenagers from having sex, nor does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom.
In other words, the Zogby study is too biased to be meaningful to anyone other than pro-abstinence, anti-comprehensive sex ed activists.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Speaking of Pots and Kettles ...
A May 9 NewsBusters post (and Times Watch item) by Clay Waters claimed it was a "pot meets kettle" moment when the New York Times described the New York Post and Fox News as being "known for their right-wing political bent and racy tone." Waters writes: "Strange how the Times never cops to its own undeniable liberal bias, yet doesn't hesitate to label Fox News as right-wing or conservative."
And it's equally strange how Waters offers no evidence to contradict the Times' claim. He and his MRC buddies just can't quite admit that Fox News skews right. Perhaps doing so would jeopardize the fawning coverage Fox gives to them.
New Article: Scaring Grandma
WorldNetDaily wants you to believe that a new hate-crime law will result in your grandmother getting thrown in the slammer for "sharing the Gospel of Jesus." Unless granny is a bullhorn-wielding anti-gay activist, don't worry about it. Read more.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Press Release Journalism Watch
A May 7 NewsMax article is a regurgitation of a press release by the conservative Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) recounting the case of Arizona community college instructor Walter Kehowski, who was purportedly placed on administrative leave for, in NewsMax's words, "simply sending out an e-mail to colleagues containing George Washington’s 'Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1789.' " The NewsMax article contains only FIRE's side of the story and makes no attempt to contact anyone at the college.
What neither NewsMax or FIRE want you to know is Kehowski's history of promoting inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric -- which, along with his repeated violations of school email policy, is a more likely culprit behind his purported woes than e-mailing Washington’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation. After all, when the white "racialist" websites American Renaissance and VDARE are running to your defense -- as they have for Kehowski in the past -- the issue is bigger than George Washington.
The AmRen site reproduced a November 2004 Arizona Republic article stating that Latino faculty members have accused Kehowski of using his college computer "to send discriminatory messages and to create a Web site with links to White supremacist sites."
AmRen adds at the end of the article, "Tell Mr. Kehowski and Glendale Community College to stand firm," providing emails for both.
The column Kehowski forwarded titled "California’s Being Invaded, Too—By Hispanic Holidays" is a March 2003 article at VDARE by Joe Guzzardi, in which he bashes "Mexican celebrations that will dominate California school calendars and guarantee a steady stream of dopey newspaper articles."
In a Dec. 10, 2004 VDARE article, Guzzardi noted the Kehowski controversy and defended his column: "I merely observed that school age Mexican-Americans would be better served spending their time mastering English instead of participating in Cinco de Mayo celebrations." Guzzardi goes on to quote Kehowski at length, noting that he conducted "several interviews" with the professor. According to Guzzardi, Kehowski attacked the college's "Dia de la Raza" event -- which he described as sort of an anti-Columbus Day -- claiming that the school was "endorsing an explicitly racist event" and proposing a "a celebration of Columbus Day and Western culture" instead.
Glendale Community College's school newspaper reported that Kehowski's emails also included statements like, "It’s time to acknowledge and celebrate the superiority of Western civilization" and "the half truths of…multiculturalism and diversity versus the full truth of its anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-American and ultimately anti-White Marxist agenda."
Also unmentioned by NewsMax or FIRE is the fact that, as reported by the Arizona Republic, school district chancellor Rufus Glasper has noted that Kehowski has "continued to disregard district policies despite previous sanctions and directives. Kehowski was suspended without pay for five days in September 2005 for a similar violation."
Given such a lack of honesty from FIRE about Kehowski's history and views, NewsMax may want to rethink its support of Kehowski -- and its refusal to fact-check FIRE's press releases.
Sheppard's Weasel Words (And Censorship)
A May 8 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard begins this way: "If Democrats had accused former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) last year of earmarking funds that could help real estate investments owned by his wife, would the media have reported it?" He continued: "Well, the Associated Press published a story Monday about current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) possibly earmarking funds that would benefit her husband's investments around the San Francisco Bay."
We've highlighted the weasel words above to show that Sheppard has no evidence that the earmarked money actually does benefit Pelosi's husband's investments. And in a fit of censorship, Sheppard chopped from his version of the article comments from Pelosi's office that put the situation in context: "Aides to the San Francisco Democrat denied any connection, noting that the waterfront improvements were requested by the Port of San Francisco and the four rental properties in question are at least a mile away."
Given that a mile typically comprises 12 to 16 city blocks, that's a long walk from Pelosi's investments to the port, making it unlikely that Pelosi would benefit.
Sheppard also did a censorship job in quoting from a New York Post article about the earmark, repeating Republican congressman Jeb Hensarling's statement, "The appearance is obviously not good, and she needs to be forthcoming about how this impacts her financial interest," but deleting the next paragraph in which the Post writes, "He didn't offer proof that Pelosi would benefit." Sheppard also excised a statement from Pelosi's spokesman:
Sheppard also quoted from a Congressional Quarterly article in which an anonymous "senior Republican aide" says, "If Tiger Woods teed a ball up at Pelosi’s million-dollar rental property, he could easily hit the earmark in two strokes, with a slight draw to avoid the water." That's an absurd claim, which Sheppard should know since he specifically censored the part stating that that the property is more than a mile away. We don't know of any golf courses with a par-2, 1,800-yard green; perhaps Sheppard does.
UPDATE: Media Matters has more on just how false that Tiger Woods comparison is.
NewsMax Pimps Meaningless Imus Poll
A May 7 NewsMax article promotes the results of its latest poll, on Don Imus. Nowhere does NewsMax inform its readers that it's an opt-in poll whose results are meaningless as an indicator of overall national opinion. This applies to pretty much every "Internet poll" that NewsMax promotes.
While the aricle details results for questions such as "Should Imus make a media comeback to radio & TV airwaves?" and "Do you believe Al Sharpton has any credibility attacking Imus?" it doesn't share the results of the final question: "Who did you vote for in the 2004 election?" Perhaps NewsMax knows if that was made public, the poll would be revealed for the biased sham it is.
Monday, May 7, 2007
CNS Ignores False Claim by Romney
A May 7 CNSNews.com article by Kevin Mooney featured several conservatives who praised Mitt Romney's commencement address at Pat Robertson-founded Regent University, where he stated that, in Mooney's words, "Americans who embrace self-sacrifice over self-absorption in the form of committed marriages help to set America apart from Europe." But nowhere did Mooney mention the false claim Romney made during the speech:
Did Romney confuse reality with an Orson Scott Card novel or a French comedy film? Will Mooney (or anyone else at CNS) muster up the interest to find out, or will they continue to pretend he didn't say it?
Sheffield's Double Standard on Dual-Tier Stock
Matthew Sheffield's May 7 NewsBusters defense of Rupert Murdoch's bid for Wall Street Journal owner Dow Jones reminds us: In all of Sheffield's fulminations over the New York Times Co.'s dual-tier stock structure, not once has he noted that Dow Jones has a similar structure, with the Bancroft family controlling 64 percent of the company.
So, Matt: If dual-tier stock is bad for the Times, why isn't bad for Dow Jones?
WND's News Expo Dies A Quiet Death
Remember WorldNetDaily's News Expo? WND announced it back in January as "an interactive conference event for news breakers, news shakers, news makers and news junkies," the place where "some 1,500 journalists, bloggers, publishers, authors and news consumers are expected to gather to participate in the breaking of news, the analysis of events and the discussion of trends," held at "the biggest hotel ballroom in the nation's capital." Ann Coulter was tapped for the keynote address, and it would also feature a "10th anniversary party for the leading independent news source on the Net – WorldNetDaily.com." Even a battle of the bands was planned to pick a musical act for the event. WND editor Joseph Farah breathlessly promoted the idea in a January 15 column: "Together, in one giant room – the biggest in Washington – you'll rub shoulders with top newsmakers, top journalists, top bloggers, top authors as well as top exhibitors and sponsors from the world of media and publishing." (Farah also erroneously described the May 11-12 event as occurring during D.C.'s cherry blossom season.) Farah exhorted his readers: "[Y]ou should make your plans to attend right now as a show of support to me and WND. We need to make this event a big success if, indeed, it is to continue as an annual tradition and if it is to have the impact we envision."
Uh, never mind.
The big event is a week away, and there's nary a word about it on the WND website. Indeed, the last mention of it at WND is March 9, at the bottom of an article by Aaron Klein, who had been scheduled to be part of the lineup. The expo's website redirects to the website promoting WND's 10th anniversary, where there's also nary a mention of the event. And it's missing from WND's calendar of anniversary events.
Yep, we'd say it's dead, ceased to be, bleedin' demised, bereft of life, joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-Expo.
What happened? Given that WND hasn't mentioned it in two months, it certainly isn't about to enlighten its readers as to why. We suspect there was a cost-benefit ratio problem: If we recall correctly, the admission price for the full weekend including the banquet at which Coulter was to speak was more than $600, a lot to pay for hanging out with B- and C-list right-wingers (Coulter's a A-list right-winger, but we doubt she would be hanging around the entire weekend). Other featured guests had included Hal Lindsey and Jerome Corsi; Corsi was to take part in the one event that could be described as not explicitly right-wing -- a debate with professor Robert Pastor over the idea of a European Union-like "North American Community," which Corsi virulently opposes. (We proposed a debate between us and Farah over WND's style of news coverage, but we never heard back.)
Other WND anniversary initiatives, meanwhile, seem to be going apace. We haven't heard much about the Courage in Media Awards lately either, but the website's still live, so we'll assume that's still a going proposition, even though the award was to have been given out at News Expo. And the Caribbean cruise is still promoted on the WND website, where at least you get some nice Caribbean scenery for your money that helps to make up for being stuck on a boat with Joseph Farah and David Kupelian.
Buy through this Amazon link and support ConWebWatch!
Accuracy in Media
Capital Research Center
Free Congress Foundation
Media Research Center
The Daily Les
Western Journalism Center
Support Bloggers' Rights!