AIM Takes Refuge in Dubious Study Topic: Accuracy in Media
In an appearance on CNBC's "Kudlow and Co." (not dated on the AIM website -- it may be from June 22) discussing an MSNBC.com article about journalists donating to political causes -- which conservatives have been hyping -- Accuracy in Media's Roger Aronoff said that the article was consistent with "numerous surveys, such as the famous Freedom Forum survey in the '90s that showed 89 percent of the Washington reporters voted for Clinton."
As we've previously reported, it is -- in that that Freedom Forum survey had an equally tiny survey response sample (133; the MSNBC had 144). The Freedom Forum survey is also flawed as an indicator of how all "Washington reporters" because the survey sample wasn't representative of what most people consider to be the Washington press corps. Only one-fifth of the survey participants were from major media; many were from regional newspapers or one-person Washington bureaus who are focused on reporting on their local congressmen for their employers and have next to no influence in Washington politics.
But as we saw with the Media Research Center (which similarly promotes the Freedom Forum survey numbers to justify its existence), methodology is irrelevant when the big numbers support the ConWeb's cause, at least for anyone who doesn't look closely at those numbers.
Sheppard Demonstrates How Silly Kneejerk Bias Accusations Can Be Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard was full of indignance in a June 24 NewsBusters post. A "Meet the Press" panel, he declared, was "the usual twenty minutes of Bush-bashing, Hillary sycophancy, and attacks on all politicians with an 'R' next to their names."
The problem? He doesn't support his claim that the people on the panel were motivated by liberal bias -- or even that they were liberal.
Sheppard started off by asserting that "Tim Russert stocked his panel exclusively with liberals: David Broder of The Washington Post, John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, Gwen Ifill of PBS’ Washington Week, and syndicated columnist Roger Simon." But he offers no supporting evidence that any of these folks are liberals; in fact, there is much evidence to support the idea that Broder is not liberal, and Harwood and Simon are not necessarily the kneejerk liberals Sheppard wants you to think they are.
Sheppard then claimed that "after Russert read an article published by the Associated Press which was somewhat critical of Hillary Clinton (D-New York), the panel felt compelled to defend her." Judging by what Sheppard highlighted, the panel made several observations about Clinton that can be easily supported by observation, from stating "Mrs. Clinton has done extremely well in every appearance that I’ve covered" to "after eight years of George Bush, the American people want competence this time, not likability." Sheppard proved none of the statements he highlighted to be incorrect, yet he insisted this was "Absolutely disgraceful Hillary sycophancy that wasn’t present three weeks ago when there were conservatives on the panel to refute these overtly liberal sentiments." If these statements were so egregious, shouldn't Sheppard himself disprove them?
This was followed by, according to Sheppard, "uninterrupted bashing of every Republican presidential candidate." Again, he makes no attempt to disprove anything said. For instance, Russert noted that one state official for Rudy Giuliani's campaign is "headed to prison on charges of distributing cocaine." Is Sheppard denying that? Does he think it's not relevant to discuss? How about the revelation that Giuliani didn't bother to show up for meetings of the Iraq Study Group, of which he was a member, in order to rake in cash making speeches? Not true or irrelevant?
What Sheppard seems to be saying -- with his regular disregard of facts that get in the way of his narrative -- is that all praise of Democrats by anyone on TV is liberal bias, as well as all criticism of Republicans. Is this any way to run a media watchdog group?
Middle Eastern terrorists sure seem to love the attention that WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein lavishes on them with his gimmicky terrorists-endorsing-Democrats series of articles.
That love continues in a June 25 WND article in which Klein brags that a June 20 article Klein wrote about U.S. weaponry and equipment being allegedly seized during this month's takeover of the Gaza Strip was "displayed prominently" on "Hamas' official websites." That article quoted only "Hamas members" as making that claim and offering no outside verification of it.
One has to wonder: Isn't Klein's time better spent doing actual reporting instead of bragging about how much terrorists love to read his stuff?
A June 25 WorldNetDaily column by Jerome Corsi takes a stab at floating a new Clinton conspiracy: The allegedly suspicious liquidation of the Clintons' blind investment trust.
"Bill and Hillary Clinton have raised eyebrows on Wall Street by liquidating a multi-million dollar stock portfolio just ahead of what may be a major stock market downturn," Corsi wrote, adding, "If the Clintons stock liquidation of their blind trust assets turns out to have been made at a DJIA high, questions are certainly going to be asked about their prescient market timing." Corsi concluded by claiming that "the question" about the Clintons' stock sale "is certain to be, 'What did the Clintons know, and when did they know it?'"
But Corsi also cited evidence about the current investment environment that would seem to support a sale of stock, specifically stating that "the parallels between Black Monday, Oct. 19, 1987, and today are striking. For most of 1987, the stock market hit one record close after another, much as the market has in 2007." Despite framing the Clintons' stock sale as an evil conspiracy, Corsi in fact justified it.
Instead of asking why the Clintons sold their stock, maybe Corsi should be wondering why he doesn't follow suit.
WND Touts Claim in Gerth-Van Natta Book Topic: WorldNetDaily
The headline on a June 21 WorldNetDaily article -- "Hillary book: WND beat Gore in 2000" overstates the actual claim made in the article -- that Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta's book "Her Way" states that "Some law-enforcement officials and journalists believe that stories in 2000 by (Joseph) Farah's WorldNetDaily on then-presidential candidate Al Gore's political dealings in Tennessee, which were picked up by smaller papers in the state, played a role in Gore's loss."
So we wondered: What else does the book say about the ConWeb?
First, it's worth noting that Gerth and Van Natta didn't exactly vouch for the accuracy of those articles, over which one of the subjects of those stories is suing WND. The authors prefaced that statement with: "And whether or not what they published was true, it had undeniable impact."
These statements came in the context of Gerth and Van Natta tracing how right-wingers such as Farah and Christopher Ruddy leveraged the nacent Internet in the late 1990s for the purpose of attacking the Clintons. They described WND founder Joseph Farah as a "self-described 'Clinton-hater' " -- something else that WND mysteriously decided wasn't worth noting to its readers -- and erroneously described WND as being headquarted in northern Virginia. In fact, WND has long maintained its corporate headquarters in Oregon; only Farah lives in Virginia (Centreville, to be exact).
More interesting is Gerth and Van Natta's more extensive look at Christopher Ruddy and NewsMax. A couple things are incompletely reported: They portray conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife as someone who "was publishing Ruddy's articles" attacking Clinton in his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review without noting that Ruddy was a staff writer for the paper, and they wrote that Ruddy's "articles about [Vincent] Foster's death were promoted by Farah's Western Journalism Center" without also noting that Scaife gave the WJC $330,000 for the purpose of facilitating reporting and publicity of those articles.
Gerth and Van Natta wrote that Ruddy noted Matt Drudge website was linking to his articles and "took him out for a drink at a bar in Los Angeles. Ruddy figured that he and his friends who disliked the Clinton administration 'could have a bigger impact' with their own Web site."
Gerth and Van Natta continue:
Scaife was supportive of Ruddy but not yet excited about the potential of the new media venture. "He didn't gravitate to it immediately," Ruddy recalled, so instead the conservative journalist landed his first seed money ($25,000) from the family of William J. Casey, the former head of the CIA under President Reagan.
Ruddy called his venture NewsMax and knew time was of the essence. "I wanted to start NewsMax while the Clinton impeachemnt was under way." So the site, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, went live in September 1998. By then Scaife had decided to invest $2 million, about 13 percent of Ruddy's initial capital. The fact that Ruddy could raise $15 million for his startt-up in nine months demonstrates the ease with which journalists could attract enormous funding from wealthy conservatives.
Detecting a pattern here? For all the blather about WND and NewsMax being "new media" (and Farah's aversion to being called a conservative, though Gerth and Van Natta describe Farah as saying how the Internet "revealed the opportunities for conservatives to get their message out in a media environment dominated by liberal-leaning journalists"), one key reason for their formation was to attack the Clinton administration.
There's nothing new about attack journalism, folks, though Farah and Ruddy might want you think otherwise. And remember, neither WND or NewsMax were forthcoming about their sources of funding until we detailedthem.
Finally, the WND article described Gerth and Van Natta's "Her Way" as a "best-selling book." Not exactly; according to the Los Angeles Times, "Her Way" sold just 7,000 copies in its first 10 days of release.
UPDATE: Joseph Farah regurgitates the article in his June 25 WND column -- claiming that the mention of the WND series in Gerth and Van Natta's book gives the claim that it cost Gore the election "more crediblilty" while omitting the fact that Gerth and Van Natta didn't vouch for its accuracy. Farah also erroneously calls "Her Way" a "bestselling book."
Here's a twist on the not-so-secret desire of some conservatives for a white-only immigration plan. A June 22 WorldNetDaily column by Tristan Emmanuel is talking about Canada, but he claims the U.S. is going down Canada's path by letting in too many non-white people:
I'm a Canadian, and we don't have an "illegal alien" problem. However, we suffer from something just as bad – a form of Anglo-Saxon self-hatred. We call it multiculturalism. This is the politically correct way of saying white, English-speaking culture is bad.
So when white people tolerate the cultures of others, it's "hatred" of "white culture"? That's novel.
Ellis Washington's Still on the Plantation Topic: WorldNetDaily
Remember last year, when conservatives threw a fit after Hillary Clinton described the Republican-run House of Representatives as being run like a "plantation" -- despite conservatives' longhistory of using the "planation" metaphor to attack liberals?
You will not be surprised to learn that this double standard continues. From a June 23 WorldNetDaily column by Ellis Washington toasting Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas' birthday:
If Justice Thomas is truly a great man, as I contend here, then why is he so hated by his own people? Like Prometheus, Elijah, David, Socrates, Jesus, St. Augustine, Galileo, Beethoven, Wilberforce, Booker T. Washington, Einstein, Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa and other iconoclasts, Justice Thomas refused to stay on the plantation or have his mind shackled by political mediocrities, subservient thinking or slavish liberal orthodoxy.
Indeed, this appears to be one of Washington's favorite metaphors. He wrote an entire May 5 column on "plantation liberalism," in which he went on to put words in Sen. Barbara Boxer's mouth by stating the following regarding Boxer's "wickedly racist" statement that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would not "pay a particular price" on the Iraq war by not having "an immediate family" that would be eligible to fight in it:
It was vile rhetoric filled with racism and hatred that a black woman "made it" without acknowledging the aid of white liberal paternalism; that a black woman "made it" without giving due consideration to liberals and their omnipresent civil rights and affirmative action programs. ... You can hear it in the tenor of Sen. Boxer's words as if she were saying, "Who does she think she is?" "Well, I'm going to show this uppity little wench who really is the boss!"
Washington offered no evidence that Boxer was targeting Washington's race or even mentioned Rice's race in her remarks.
MRC Seizes on Donation Story to Smear Journalists Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center reacted to an MSNBC.com article detailing the mostly Democratic political donations of journalists pretty much the way you'd expect -- by ignoring the details and declaring that the article vindicates the MRC's raison d'etre.
In a June 21 NewsBusters post, Pam Meister delcared that this means "87% of those journalists on the list giving to causes and politicians on the left side of the aisle." NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd repeated the claim. But the article does not claim to be a comprehensive list of donations -- while 144 donations are documented, "there appear to be far more than 144 donating journalists." MSNBC added:
The final list represents a tiny percentage of the working journalists in the nation. Daily newspapers alone employ about 60,000 full-time journalists. Approximately 30,000 work in television news jobs and 10,000 in radio news.
That's not, however, stopping the MRC from touting the article as fully representative of all journalists. A June 21 MRC press release quote MRC chief Brent Bozell as saying, "This story re-confirms what we’ve been documenting for years—that most of America’s newsrooms are infested with liberals and that this mindset, in countless ways, spills over into the news coverage, producing liberally biased news stories on a variety of issues: Iraq, taxes, immigration, government, culture, the arts. You name it."
Is dehumanizing journalists to the point of likening them to vermin who do nothing but "infest" really helpful to the media bias debate? We don't.
A June 22 CyberAlert item by Brent Baker, however, quickly mentions -- then quickly ignores -- one salient point ignored by his colleagues: "most of those found by Dedman work in local markets, for opinion-oriented publications or hold non-news coverage positions such as music reviewer or copy editor." Indeed, as CBS' Brian Montopoli writes:
For starters, these aren't all political journalists - a quick review of the list reveals a travel writer, classical music critic, and sports statistician, among others. I'm not sure how the political beliefs of a sports statistician are particularly relevant to a discussion about ideological media bias - I'd be more concerned about him being a Yankee fan.
But rather than explaining how liberal bias can insidiously seep into sports statistics (remember, Bozell did say "you name it," so that bias must be there), Baker goes on an archive-plundering binge of statements and polls about alleged liberal media bias, including a Freedom Forum poll we've previously debunked.
While shrieking about the news organization employees' political donations to Democrats, all of these MRC employees, however, were silent about the donations to Republicans. Escaping the MRC's notice, for instance, was Fox News "O'Reilly Factor" producer Ann Stewart Banker, who gave $5,000 to a Republican PAC.
So, seizing on the story to promote its agenda, obscuring flaws in methodology, hateful rhetoric, and pretending that conservative journalists aren't biased -- yep, par for the course for the MRC.
Let's count the biased claims in this June 21 WorldNetDaily article by Naomi Laine, shall we?
First off, it's essentially a press release for the right-wing gun-rights group Gun Owners of America, promoting its claims against a bill that would allow states to more easily flag the mentally ill in criminal databases so that they appear in gun-sale background checks. Laine writes in her lead paragraph: "The House of Representatives has fast-tracked new legislation to 'improve' the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by allowing doctors to now decide who can own firearms." Yes, Laine put the word "improve" in scare quotes.
Laine writes that "soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder would be classified as mentally ill and given the same opportunity to own firearms as convicted felons: None," without offering any reason why that's a bad thing.
Laine writes of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, sponsor of the legislation, that her "own husband was killed in a random shooting on a commuter train in New York City in 1993." That understates the situation; in fact, McCarthy's husband was just one of six people killed by Colin Ferguson -- who had mental health evinced by his decision to defend himself during his trial on the shootings -- on a Long Island Rail Road train in 1993. Further, McCarthy's son was seriously wounded in the incident.
Laine also writes:
Tech student Seung-Hui Cho was not flagged when he purchased guns, although the state of Virginia knew Cho had been ordered to undergo mental health treatment. No evidence indicates that Cho could have been stopped from opening fire on classmates had the new changes been in place at the time of the shooting.
A Virginia judge in December 2005 deemed Cho "an imminent danger to himself because of mental illness"; Cho purchased the guns he used in his April 2007 shooting spree in Febraury and March 2007. Had Cho's mental illness been entered in the gun-check database, those guns might not have been sold to him and he could indeed have been "stopped from opening fire on classmates."
WND Peter Paul Sycophancy Watch (Update) Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Art Moore onceagain does the bidding of convicted felon Peter Paul, reporting on Paul's latest attack on Hillary Clinton in a June 21 article without mentioning Paul's lengthy criminal record the fact that Paul is currently awaiting sentencing for a stock-manipulation scheme and is essentially trying to take the Clintons down with him. Moore also makes no apparent attempt to contact anyone on the Clinton side for a response.
Heck, even CNSNews.com, reporting on the same subject, noted Paul's criminal record and noted an attempt to contact the Clinton side of things.
Are Moore and WND so in bed with Paul that they are willing -- if not eager -- to violate journalistic principles and refuse to tell the full story in an honest manner for the sole purpose of a cheap shot at the Clintons? As we've already demonstrated, it would appear so.
UPDATE: A June 22 article by Moore further confirms the in-bed aspect of WND and Paul -- it's now hosting the purported "smoking gun" video that Paul has been yelping about of late. Moore does note this time that "The Clintons' longtime attorney David Kendall has not replied to WND's request for comment on Paul's videotape," but he once again glosses over Paul's criminal record, noting only that the tape in question was involved in a "related securities case" against Paul but not mentioning that Paul fled the country to avoid prosecution in the "securities case" -- a $25 million stock manipulation scheme -- fought extradition for two years, pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and is awaiting sentencing.
BBC Bashed for Soliciting Troop Movements; What About Fox? Topic: NewsBusters
A June 21 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield claimed that the BBC's soliciting from Iraqi civilians tips on British and American troop movements is a sign of the BBC's "self-admitted systemic left-wing bias." But Sheffield didn't mention similar violations by Fox News, most notoriously Geraldo Rivera's revealing revealing U.S. troop movements during a Fox News broadcast (which NewsBusters parent, the Media Research Center, could scarcely be bothered to acknowledge).
Another instance of Fox News' dubious war coverage has surfaced. Josh Rushing, former spokesman for U.S. Central Command operations in Iraq (and now correspondent for Al-Jazeera) notes in a new book that one Fox News reporter showed in a report where the weak spot was on an Abrams tank. Rushing added: "Although I'm sure other networks weren't blameless, Fox News, ironically, earned the worst reputation for their carelessness with Department of Defense ground rules for embedded media—and possible Coalition lives." Rushing also noted that one of the network's reporters was such a sycophant that he "would ask before a live interview what questions I wanted him to ask."
Down has also been the direction of CBS's ratings since the Tiffany Network made perky partisan and former co-host of NBC's "Today" show Katie Couric its evening news anchor.
Couric was and is notorious for injecting a Democratic political bias into almost everything she says. On NBC she once famously referred to President Ronald Reagan as an "airhead."
As we pointed out when the Media Research Center tried to pull the same stunt, Couric's 1999 remark is being taken out of context. Couric was, in fact, repeating what was being claimed about Edmund Morris' then-just-released biography of Ronald Reagan, which early news reports -- not just Couric -- stated had called Reagan an airhead.
NewsMax's Double Standard on Disclosure Topic: Newsmax
A June 19 NewsMax article claimed that "Bill and Hillary Clinton’s ties to InfoUSA Chairman Vinod Gupta have raised conflict-of-interest concerns over the firm’s links to CNN" because InfoUSA recently purchased Opinion Research Corp., which provides CNN with polling services. NewsMax cited an article that claimed "CNN cited results of an Opinion Research poll that showed Hillary Clinton gaining momentum among liberal voters, without disclosing that the pollster is owned by a company whose owner is working to elect her," adding another writer's claim that "just the perception of a potential conflict of interest could hurt a media organization's credibility."
Such concerns about conflicts of interest do not appear to trouble NewsMax's operations. The most glaring example of this is Dick Morris, who repeatedlyattacks Hillary Clinton in his NewsMax columns without disclosing in those columns that he is working to defeat her (even though he regularly discloses that he has worked for Mike Huckabee in columns that mention him).
Is NewsMax not worried about its "credibility" over this conflict of interest? Perhaps it would be if it had some credibility to begin with.
Kessler Repeats Buchanan's Falsehoods About Hillary Topic: Newsmax
In a June 18 NewsMax article featuring an interview with Clinton-bashing author Bay Buchanan, Ronald Kessler uncritically repeated false and misleading claims peddled by Buchanan in her new book, which Kessler called "the best analysis of the presidential candidate" compared with "two recent books," presumably those by Carl Bernstein and Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta. Kessler wrote:
Hillary Clinton's claim that she thought she was voting for more diplomacy when she voted to authorize use of force in Iraq is part of a pattern that suggests to Bay Buchanan that we are all fools for having let her advance to the point where she is running for president.
"It's inconceivable that somebody would vote for a resolution that's called 'Authorization of the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq,' and yet you would be thinking you might be voting for something that didn't put armed forces in Iraq," Buchanan tells me with her trademark staccato delivery.
If Hillary really thought she was not voting to go to war, "Why would she have supported the war for the next two-and-a-half years?" Buchanan asks.
In fact, in her floor speech before the vote on the October 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, Clinton acknowledged that approval of the resolution could "lead to war," adding that she expected the White House to push for "complete, unlimited inspections" and that she did not view her support for the measure as "a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption or for unilateralism."
Of all of Hillary's prevarications, Buchanan says, none is so clear-cut or shocking as the fact that on national TV, Hillary claimed that when two airplanes hit the World Trade Center, her daughter Chelsea was at Battery Park near the towers, where Chelsea heard and saw the catastrophe unfold.
Hillary's arrogance was so profound that she did not coordinate the story with Chelsea, who wrote an article for Talk in which she described what she had been doing that day. According to Chelsea, she wasn't jogging at the World Trade Center. Rather, she was miles away in a friend's apartment on Park Avenue South. She watched the events unfold on TV.
In fact, Clinton did not say that Chelsea "was at Battery Park near the towers, where Chelsea heard and saw the catastrophe unfold"; rather, she said that Chelsea "was going to go around the towers."