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Friday, May 18, 2007
The Folly of Relying On NewsMax For Research
Topic: NewsBusters

In a May 17 NewsBusters post aimed at countering Geraldo Rivera's claim that illegal immigrants are "hard-working people, law-abiding, family people, socially-conservative people in many ways," Mark Finkelstein cited a "recent NewsMax article, which in turn relies on confirmation by a former senior special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service," claiming among other things that "Ninety-five percent of warrants for murder in Los Angeles, Calif. are for illegal aliens." Finkelstein added: "So how about it, Geraldo? Do you refute those figures[?]"

Well, if Geraldo won't, we will. 

The "recent NewsMax article" is, in fact, a March 15 column by George Putnam making the highly dubious claim that "illegal aliens are killing more Americans than the Iraq war." NewsMax brands Putnam as , but he's also a hard-core conservative who starred in an anti-pornography propaganda film in the 1960s (produced by future S&L scandal generator Charles Keating) that features Putnam giving "a dramatic reading from the novel Sex Jungle, one of a multitude of erotic paperbacks written under the name 'Don Elliott' by science fiction luminary Robert Silverberg."

As far as the "Ninety-five percent of warrants for murder in Los Angeles, Calif. are for illegal aliens" goes, well, not so much. As Snopes points out, that figure is for outstanding murder warrants; it does not mean, as Putnam and Finkelstein are implying, that 95 percent of murders in Los Angeles are committed by illegals. That number is likely is unusually high because, well, they're illegal and they can fairly easily escape back across the Mexican border.

And the "former senior special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service" who purportedly verified those figures is, in fact, Michael Cutler, who now works for the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies. So the guy clearly has an agenda and in interest in pushing such dire numbers, something both Putnam and Finkelstein might have mentioned. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:09 AM EDT
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Context, Please (Update)
Topic: NewsBusters

Yep, we suspected right -- Mark Finkelstein's ellipses in a May 16 NewsBusters post on Chris Matthews eliminates a lot of context, according to our check of the transcript of the edition at hand of "Hardball."

Here's Finkelstein's quote of Matthews focusing on John McCain:

MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Last night in Columbia, South Carolina, the two GOP frontrunners showed profiles in courage: McCain opposing torture, Giuliani defending abortion rights. . . Here's Senator McCain on the issue of torture last night; I was very taken with these words . . . You know, I don't offer strong opinions all the time on this show [of course not], I usually bow to the guests. But I am so taken with that . . . I know he scored, Chuck [NBC political director Todd] no points last night but he scored one with me . . . Anybody's who's ever been in uniform is against torture, and it's the pencil necks, if you will, the armchair generals who always like wars a lot except when they or their family members might be in those wars.

The ellipsis between the first and second statements is, in fact, about a 10-minute gap. The first statement was made during the show's introduction, while the second statement was made at the start of the second segment.

Finkelstein lops off the relevent part of the third statement, thus eliminating the context of exactly why Matthews was "so taken" with McCain's opposition to torture. Here's Matthews' full statement:

MATTHEWS: You know, I have to tell you, I don't offer strong opinions all the time on this show -- I usually bow to the guests -- but I am so taken with that, Chuck, so taken with that, Jonathan, because of all the men on that stage, he's the one who has served in combat.  He shows the sign of torture in his arms.  You can see where his arms were pinned back in the way he can‘t use them now. He apparently can't even comb his hair, this guy. He can't raise his hand. We were told, "Don't ask the candidates to raise their hands," in their debate out in California.  And there he is saying torture must not be American. And all the other guys played to that crowd down there -- there was hooting and hollering for blood down there -- saying they were for "enhanced interrogation," all enjoying it.  And this guy -- I know he scored no points, Chuck, last night, but he scored one with me. He stood alone.

Finkelstein portrayed McCain's (and Matthews') anti-torture position as "liberal." We're not seeing it.

UPDATE: We forgot to note that Finkelstein ended his post by complaining that  Matthews "opened the show by referring to AG Alberto Gonzales as a Bush 'henchman.'" You mean skulking around a hospital trying to get a seriously ill attorney general to sign off on an unconstitutional eavesdropping program is not henchman-like behavior?

Posted by Terry K. at 7:13 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, May 18, 2007 8:00 PM EDT
Corsi Leaves WND to Pursue Prez Bid
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A May 17 WorldNetDaily article states that Jerome Corsi "resigned as a WND staff reporter Monday" and "has joined the Constitution Party and is willing to explore a serious pursuit" of that party's presidential nomination.

Corsi has most recently been obsessed with opposition to a transportation corridor in Texas because it would facilitate further trade between the U.S. and Mexico and, thus, purportedly help bring about something else Corsi opposes, a European Union-esque "North American Community" between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

We, of course, know Corsi as the guy who skewed stories on Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a fleeing illegal immigrant and issued repeated smears against a Democratic candidate for Ohio governor (Corsi had co-written a book with the Republican candidate). Oh, and he also withheld exculpatory information about a critic of President Bush until after the 2004 election and told terrorists how to blow up New York City with a nuclear bomb.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:35 PM EDT
Compare and Contrast
Topic: Newsmax

We like to give credit where credit is due, and a May 17 NewsMax article by Dave Eberhart is an interesting and mostly balanced read about the "Night to Honor Israel" events across the country being sponsored by controversial evangelical minister John Hagee and whether Hagee's aggressively pro-Israeli stance actually benefits Israel.

Compare this to WorldNetDaily's coverage, which has been limited to promoting Joseph Farah's appearance as keynote speaket at one "Night to Honor Israel" event this Sunday. Nowhere does WND mention Hagee's involvement in the event; Farah has previously described Hagee as "my friend" and has been a WND columnist.

Though Farah's "many journalism awards" are touted in the article, there's nothing award-winning happening here. Farah and WND are, simply, too close to Hagee to offer any sort of complete, honest coverage of this event -- or of Hagee. 

NewsMax doesn't get off scot-free either; Eberhart specifically mentions Sunday's "Night to Honor Israel" event but not Farah's keynote appearance at it, and he uncritically repeats promotional boilerplate about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), where Hagee recently gave a speech, without mentioning any of the controversies surrounding AIPAC's aggressive support of Israel, such as an espionage scandal.

Though WND is trying to carve a niche in covering Christian and Israel issues (however distorted and biased), NewsMax stomped WND in covering an issue that WND is actually involved with.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:59 PM EDT
Attack on Matthews Lacks Support, Context
Topic: NewsBusters

A May 16 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein is bothered that "the only two moments" that Chris Matthews "singled out for praise" during Tuesday's GOP candiate debate "were when candidates adopted liberal positions: McCain opposing torture and Rudy sticking up for abortion."

First, Finkelstein doesn't explain why an anti-torture stance is liberal, or if there is any flaw in Matthews' claim that "Anybody's who's ever been in uniform is against torture, and it's the pencil necks, if you will, the armchair generals who always like wars a lot except when they or their family members might be in those wars."

Second, Finkelstein fails to note that Matthews has a history of endorsing Giuliani's less liberal stances, even expressing a preference for Giuliani's brand of fascism.

We also know that Finkelstein likes to selectively quote Matthews. We'll be checking Finkelstein's excerpts against the full transcript to see if he left out any appropriate context. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:41 AM EDT
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
CNS Labeling Watch

A May 16 article by Monisha Bansal labels supporters of a proposal to expand "payroll tax refunds to the poor as a means of helping them afford higher education" as "liberal groups," while an opponent of the proposal is described as "a group that advocates limited government."

In other words, a conservative group. Why didn't Bansal just call it that? Perhaps because, by applying a political term to one side of the issue and not the other, it continues CNS' longstanding practice of not labeling conservatives as "conservatives" while labeling liberals as such.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:10 PM EDT
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Bartholomew does a nice job of religious-based WorldNetDaily monitoring: Not only does he tell us about the organizations Joseph Farah will be addressing this weekend, he details the background of a Polish official approvingly quoted in a WND article and ponders the influence of WND columnist Chuck Norris on the Virginia Tech shooter.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:25 PM EDT
New Article: Oy, Moy
Topic: The ConWeb
Catherine Moy touts her credentials as an "award-winning journalist," but her recent work -- biased and relying on questionable sources and unsupported claims -- likely won't win much of anything. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 AM EDT
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Huston Ignores Christian-Linked Bombers
Topic: NewsBusters

In a May 15 NewsBusters post, Warner Todd Huston notes Denver Post columnist Dick Kreck says a commenter has "got a point" that, in response to right-wing Colorado radio host "Gunny Bob" Newman's assertion that all Muslims in the U.S. should "be required by law to wear a GPS tracking bracelet at all times" (Huston claims the comment was made "satirically" but offers no evidence to back it up), that Christians should be similarly fitted the tracking devices since Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who plotted the Oklahoma City bombing, were Christians as well. Huston responds:

Um, no Mr. Kreck the leftist poster at CMM does NOT "got a point".

Neither McVeigh nor Nichols ever claimed that their bombing was done at the behest of their religion. The Oklahoma bombers were run of the mill, anti-government types, NOT religious zealots. And, even if they had been religious zealots, they were but two of billions of Christians NONE of the rest of whom have bombed anything for their religion.

Well, actually, it could be argued that abortion clinic, gay bar, and Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph is a Christian. It could similarly be argued that abortion doctor murderer James Kopp was acting on his Christian beliefs.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:36 PM EDT
More Bias From Slantie Bob
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A May 15 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh asserted that "None of the 19 candidates currently seeking appointment to fill a vacancy in the Idaho Supreme Court was willing to confirm support for a series of statements drawn directly from the state's constitution, according to the Idaho Values Alliance."

The headline on Unruh's article reads, "Judge wannabes refuse to endorse constitution." But a "gotcha" questionnaire by a conservative group is not the same as a state constitution. And as is Slantie Bob's style, Unruh quotes only members of the Idaho Values Alliance and makes no apparent attempt to contact any of the candidates the group's questionnaire targeted or an impartial political analyst to explain the political motivation of such a questionnaire or the candidates' refusal to respond to it.

In other words, Unruh has not written a news article; he has written a press release for the Idaho Values Alliance. Shouldn't the IVA be paying him for that service (and if the IVA is -- and they may as well be -- shouldn't Unruh disclose that)? And shouldn't a self-proclaimed journalist aspire to more than that?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:59 PM EDT
Here We Go Again, Indeed
Topic: NewsBusters

In a May 14 NewsBusters post (and May 15 CyberAlert item), Brent Baker claimed that "media outlets cannot resist again hyping dire stories about the supposed 'record high' price of a gallon of gas when, adjusted for inflation, the current $3.10 average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is still lower than in 1981."

It's important to remember that, as we've previously noted, the interest of Baker and the MRC in the accuracy of "record high" claims vis-a-vis adjustments for inflation depends on whether adjusting for inflation makes Republicans look good and/or Democrats look bad.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:46 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 3:48 PM EDT
Kessler Fluffs Romney
Topic: Newsmax

NewsMax's Ronald Kessler appears to be trying to wean himself his Bush-fluffing ways -- that little gravy train won't be running for much longer -- by glomming onto a new person to fluff: Mitt Romney.

The process of shifting started in February, when Kessler detailed the "striking similarities between George W. Bush and Mitt Romney." It exploded with a pair of May 14 articles. the first is a heavy defense of Romney, in which Kessler backed his anti-abortion claims, asserting that "Romney as governor took pro-life stands, which is far more important than what he said in 1994 during a debate with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, presented what might described as cheapskate ways ("Instead of buying popcorn at a movie theater, Romney has been known to pop it in advance and take it with him") as a positive character trait ("Imagine Romney with a veto pen in his hand") and proudly noted that not only "among the leading Republican candidates, Romney is the only one still married to his first wife," a friend reports that Romney "confided to him before marrying Ann that they planned to consummate their marriage after the ceremony." Kessler also states:

Still, the media focus on atmospherics, Romney's Mormon religion, and his change in position on abortion, rather his record of accomplishment and character. In the last analysis, character is what voters care about, Karl Rove has told me.

Because, you know, Karl Rove is all about character. 

In the other article containing a few brief items, Kessler extends his fluff work to the rest of Romney's family, getting a little dig at the competition in the process: "In contrast to Rudy Giuliani's two children, who are estranged from him, all five of Mitt Romney's sons are campaigning for him." Kessler adds that Romney's kids have "Gap-ad good looks."

And speaking of digs, another item in the article takes yet another shot at John McCain's alleged temper problem. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:18 AM EDT
Monday, May 14, 2007
Biting-The-Hand-That-Feeds-Us Watch
Topic: The ConWeb

Yes, conservative Angela McGlowan is advertising on this website. Why? She wanted to, and who are we to turn down advertising revenue? We generally don't reject ads; the only one we have rejected advertised something that looked a lot like a pyramid scheme. (You can buy a ad here too, BTW.)

In a effort to learn more about our advertiser, we read a May 14 interview of Angela McGlowan by Lisa De Pasquale. In it, McGlowan claims:

It was not until recently, and after the release of Bamboozled, that the most awful and disgusting campaigns have been lodged against me. From Media Matters to pornographic chat rooms, liberals have tried to use every means to discount and destroy my efforts to educate Americans on the lies of liberal agenda.

Aside from the clumsy attempt to link Media Matters (my employer) to porn, the fact is that the most recent mention of McGlowan at Media Matters occurred in July 2006, several months before "Bamboozled" came out; Media Matters has mentioned McGlowan a total of only three times since 2004.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:20 PM EDT
Huston Battles 'Lies' With Dubious Claims
Topic: NewsBusters

A May 14 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston claimed that a Washington Times op-ed by Alex Gerber is "filled with lies," but Huston promotes a couple deceptions himself to attack the op-ed.

Huston claimed that Gerber "ignored all the evidence that says more armed people in a given area actually lowers gun violence," adding, "I would not claim to know that, should other students have been armed, fewer would have died, but the evidence that more guns means fewer gun crimes is strong enough that the idea should be considered sensible. Whereas the opposite, that posited by Gerber, simply is not as logically deducible. But, either way, no one will know unless the idea is tried." In support of his claim, Huston linked to an interview with researcher John R. Lott Jr., who wrote the book "More Guns, Less Crime." But Lott's thesis has been criticized for alleged flaws in his methodology and unsubstantiated claims. (And we haven't even gotten to the whole Mary Rosh thing.)

Huston adds:

And, I have to say, it has always amazed me that "Doctors" like Gerber get in such high dudgeon over 15,000 some murders a year, but they don't bother their self-righteous selves about the 39,189 auto deaths in the US. (see US murder rates since 1965 here See 2005 auto accident stats here) How are guns more dangerous than autos at this rate?

Has Huston never heard of safety improvements in autos or anti-drunk driving campaigns, signs that people have in fact been in "high dudgeon" over vehicle fatalities? Indeed, the auto accident statistics to which Huston links shows definite improvement over the years; while the number of fatalities have increased, the rate of deaths per capita and per miles traveled has decreased. Huston also plucked the wrong statistic out that report -- 39,189 is the number of fatal accidents in 2005, not the number of victims (which for 2005, including pedestrians, was 43,443).

Posted by Terry K. at 1:58 PM EDT
Unruh Gets Even More Dishonest About Grandmas
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh managed to top himself in a May 12 article by offering his most dishonest take yet on the arrested-grandmothers case. After claiming that "the "Thought Police" already have prosecuted Christians," Unruh wrote:

One Philadelphia woman, Arlene Elshinnawy, 75, and grandmother of three, was holding a sign: "Truth is hate to those who hate the truth," before she was hauled off by police officers, according to reports.

"According to reports"? Of course, other reports -- known in the trade as factually accurate reports -- state that Elshinnawy was part of a group led by a guy with a bullhorn who interrupted a gay festival and failed to obey a police order to move.

The article to which this claim is appended is headlined "Bill requires hiring 'gays,' cross-dressers," despite Unruh offering no evidence whatsover of what the headline implies -- that every business must have a gay or cross-dresser working for them. As is Unruh's practice of biased journalism, he quotes only opponents of the issues at hand and unfairly frames the controversy in the language of those opponents.

An unbylined May 12 WND article, meanwhile, tries to play the depiction-equals-approval fallacy card by claiming that a university that purportedly designated a restroom as being for "transgenders" is "participati[ng] in the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle." Of course, accomodation and promotion are two separate things.

The article also deceptively cropped a newspaper quote. From the WND article:

The wire reported wrote: "Leah Barrett, the BSU student union's director, said she told a group of student lawmakers the new restroom would be suitable … for transgender students."

In fact, the ellipsis deleted the context of what the restrooom is for. From an Oregonian article on the issue (deleted text in bold):

Leah Barrett, the BSU student union's director, said she told a group of student lawmakers the new restroom would be suitable for people with disabilities, for families -- and for transgender students.

In other words, it's not only for transgender students -- it's your ordinary unisex restroom. And WND is the news organization that its founder and editor insists has a track record of "honesty, integrity and standards"?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:09 AM EDT

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