WND Renews Attacks on Harry Potter Topic: WorldNetDaily
In 2003, upon the release of the book "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," WorldNetDaily engaged in attacks on the book; the most prominent, we noted, was a column by Caryl Matrisciana (producer of an anti-Harry Potter video that, unsurprisingly, WND sells) in which she went all Godwin's Law on us, claiming that the book appropriated several Nazi symbols, then goes on to call Harry "the young Wiccan" and claim that the books promote "an anti-Christian morality that encourages children to lie, cheat and steal in Harry fashion."
WND backed off on the Potter-bashing for a while after that, but with the impending release of the final book, the lure was too much to resist.
A June 27 WND article by Jennifer Carden rehashes the Harry-bashing, repeating unchallenged claims by Matrisciana and another anti-Harry activist, Steve Wohlberg, that the Harry Potter books "make witchcraft look 'cool' and exciting" and that Harry himself "lies a lot, break rules at school, curses, throws temper tantrums, and even drinks 'firewhisky' (he's an underage drinker)." Carden makes no apparent effort to contact other Potter experts for a different perspective.
Also unmentioned by Carden: Matrisciana is married to Patrick Matrisciana, producer of the notorious, discredited film "The Clinton Chronicles," which perhaps tells you all you need to know about her anti-Potter film.
MRC Falsely Portrays Coulter As A Victim Topic: NewsBusters
The latest in the Media Research Center's Ann-Coulter-is-a-victim meme:
-- Geoffrey Dickens referenced Chris Matthews' "now infamous, staging of the Ann Coulter vs. Elizabeth Edwards throwdown."
-- Matthew Sheffield referenced "Chris Matthews's ambush of Ann Coulter."
In fact, it wasn't an "ambush"; Coulter knew in advance that Edwards might call. From today's "Hardball":
DAVID SHUSTER (correspondent): So, how did the Ann Coulter-Elizabeth confrontation happen? Before Tuesday's "Hardball" appearance, MSNBC promoted that viewer comments and questions would be part of the program.
TAMMY HADDAD ("Hardball" executive producer): The Edwards campaign called to ask if it was possible that Elizabeth could talk to Ann Coulter live on the air, and we told them yes.
SHUSTER: In turn, Haddad had a conversation with Coulter.
HADDAD: I talked to Ann before the show and told her that we had gotten a call from the Edwards campaign and that Elizabeth might call in, and she was fine with it.
MRC's Meta-Defense of Coulter Topic: Media Research Center
A June 27 Media Research Center press release touches all the bases that have been percolating at the MRC all day regarding the Elizabeth Edwards-Ann Coulter clash: Coutler is the victim, it's an audition for return of the Fairness Doctrine, and look over there -- Amanda Marcotte! Plus, Brent Bozell ranting about "the iron boot of liberalism" and claiming, "Hugo Chavez does this type of censoring in Venezuela—but in America, we don't." Nowhere does the press release mention what Coulter said to prompt Edwards' confrontation.
Thus, we must assume, by their longsilence on the subject, that Bozell and the MRC approve of Coulter's history of insults and offensive comments.
MRC Still Defending Coulter (Updated) Topic: NewsBusters
As we've previously detailed, Ann Coulter does no wrong in the eyes of the Media Research Center; she can (and will) say the most offensive, outrageous things, and the MRC will not only refuse to criticize her, it will vociferously defend her right to do so, even as it criticizes liberals for doing the same thing (or some lesser version of it).
And so we see it again following the Coulter-Elizabeth Edwards dustup on last night's "Hardball." In a June 26 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham plays the distraction card, complaining that in media reports on the dustup, "no one seems to be questioning Elizabeth Edwards attacking Coulter for the "language of hate" when the Edwards campaign hired Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan as official bloggers, who attacked 'Christofascists,' smeared Pope Benedict as a dictator, and mocked the core doctrines of Christianity as excuses for misogyny." Graham is clearly unable to address Coulter's history of offensive remarks without equivocating them. Aren't they offensive on their face? Perhaps Graham could explain why they're not.
The MRC has a cozy relationship with Coulter, who has served as a judge or featured attraction at the MRC's annual "Dishonors Awards" banquet. Perhaps that's why Graham and the rest of the MRC doesn't dare criticize Coulter.
UPDATE: And it continues: Scott Whitlock complains that ABC edited out Coulter's "zingers" to Edwards. Yeah, calling John Edwards a "shyster" is quite the bon mot. But shouldn't Whitlock be happy that ABC didn't repeat what Coulter said since it proves Elizabeth Edwards' point?
Meanwhile, Noel Sheppard attacks -- you guessed it -- not Coulter but Elizabeth Edwards ("look at the words Mrs. Edwards used. They seem rather scripted and on point, dontcha think?") and Chris Matthews ("Is this how you treat a guest, by springing the wife of a political candidate on her without any warning?"). Sheppard also accuses Matthews of setting the whole thing up "possibly to advance the current Democrat push to squash conservative talk radio."
Bozell Complains About 'In-Kind Contribution' to Gore, Mum on Thompson Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell's latest column claims that NBC Universal's coverage of the Al Gore-led Live Earth concerts is an "enormous in-kind campaign contribution" to Gore, "even as liberals press him to run for president in 2008." Nowhere does Bozell note that Gore has repeatedlydiscouraged talk of his running for president, making such "in-kind contribution" talk meaningless.
Bozell also failed to mentioned another "in-kind contribution" by a major media company to a likely presidential candidate -- probably because the candidate is a Republican. That would be Fred Thompson, who has a daily commentary that's syndicated by Disney/Citadel-owned ABC Radio Networks. Further, Thompson is substitute host and "senior analyst" to Paul Harvey's news and commentary radio show, also syndicated by ABC.
Shouldn't Bozell be more concerned that an all-but-declared candidate like Thompson is getting free airtime (as opposed to Gore, who has not declared any interest)? Or is that OK if you're a Republican?
Sheppard Gives Coulter's Falsehood A Pass Topic: NewsBusters
In a June 26 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard uncritically repeated Ann Coulter's response to a "Good Morning America" query about her suggesting John Edwards was a "faggot": "But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So I've learned my lesson. If I'm gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot." To which Sheppard sarcastically added: "No, Ann…only liberals like Bill Maher can get away with that."
But Sheppard didn't note that Coulter misdescribed what Maher actually said: "I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn't be dying needlessly tomorrow. ... I'm just saying that if he did die -- other people -- more people would live." That's not the same as Maher "wish[ing Cheney] had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
Sheppard regularly gives passes to Coulter on her offensive remarks. As we noted, when Coulter made her "faggot" remark, Sheppard would say only that she made a "remark about John Edwards" but not what it was, let alone offer any condemnation of it.
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."