Jack Cashill's four-part Clinton Derangement Syndrome special at WorldNetDaily has kicked off, and as we predicted, he's not disappointing, already tossing out a few misleading claims.
Cashill's main point is that, unlike the "vast right-wing conspiracy" Hillary Clinton complained about (which Cashill called "self-parodying"), the Clinton Conspiracy is real:
I hesitate to call this a "left wing" conspiracy as there is no real ideology involved. Indeed, some on the hard left have applauded the work [ex-Rep. Curt] Weldon has done in tracking the steps and missteps that led to Sept. 11.
Properly understood, the Clinton communication stream has resulted from a collaboration, not of ideologues, but of well-placed Democratic activists whose motives involve some combination of fear, greed, spite, wishful thinking and lust for power.
These collaborators did not have to rely on Arkansas state troopers to leak private information. They had – and have – allies working within the FBI, the CIA and the Justice Department.
They have not depended on the generosity of one millionaire for support, like a Richard Mellon Scaife, but rather on an influential cluster of unscrupulous plutocrats called the Democratic Alliance.
Note that Scaife is merely called a "millionaire," while liberal financiers get disparagingly tagged as "unscrupulous plutocrats." Of course, Cashill is wrong; Scaife was never the only funder of conservative causes. Cashill conveniently overlooks family foundations such as Koch, Bradley and Olin that have pumped millions into conservative causes.
Cashill goes on to haul out its favorite conservative bogeyman: "For coordination, they have been able to count on an aggressive and effective George Soros-funded 'watchdog' group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW."
Cashill misleads here, too. As we've pointed out, CREW did not receive Soros money until after scandal-tarred Rep. Bob Ney made the accusation, as CREW's Melanie Morgan said, "We now get money from The Open Society Institute, and it is probably thanks to Bob Ney."
Cashill then compares CREW to Judicial Watch, asserting that "CREW was to function as something of a counterweight to Judicial Watch, the D.C.-based conservative watchdog group" but "has emerged as something of a dirty tricks operation for a truly worrisome cabal known as the Democratic Alliance." Cashill, at this point, offers no evidence that CREW is involved in "dirty tricks" or how its operation differs from the way Judicial Watch attack the Clinton administration.
Cashill also ignores a more significant contrast between CREW and Judicial Watch. As we've noted, as of 2006, CREW has received a mere $100,000 from a Soros-backed group. Meanwhile, from 1997 to 2002, Scaife foundations gave more than $7 million to Judicial Watch.
Cashill does seem to be backing away, though, from his suggestion that the Clintons are to blame for Mark Foley's downfall, saying that "Foley deserved his fate" but questioning "the highly suspect timing of his outing, just six weeks before the critical 2006 elections."
However, Cashill is more than eager to absolve Weldon of allegations that he traded his political influence for lucrative lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter: "Regardless of any charges that may be filed against him, Weldon committed only one unforgivable crime: Investigating the intelligence failures of the Clinton era."
Should be a fun next few days as Cashill continues on his conspiratorial bent.
An Inconveniently Biased Column Topic: Accuracy in Media
An Aug. 15 Accuracy in Media column by Matt Hadro recycles Sen. James Inhofe's attack on Al Gore -- his demand that Gore take a pledge to "consume no more energy for use in my residence than the average American household." Hadro adds: " Also, today, August 15, 2007, marks the 147th day that Gore has failed to embrace the challenge and sign Senator Inhofe’s pledge. Quite an 'inconvenient' truth for the face of the global warming activists."
Hadro neglects to mention that Gore has made significant efforts in offsetting the carbon footprint of his energy usage by purchasing "green energy" at a higher price that regular electricity and installing solar panels at his house. Nor does Hadro mention that Inhofe didn't give Gore a chance to answer his challenge during Senate testimony, repeatedly interrupting Gore's response.
Hadro also wrote:
A study by the Senate EPW Committee reveals that Gore, as the leader of the nationwide crusade against man-made global warming, consumes 191,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year in his Tennessee mansion. The average American household consumes a total of 11,256 kilowatt-hours per year. That’s 12 times less electricity.
Actually, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee doesn't do studies like that. The number Hadro is referring to is the number reported by the AP after the Tennessee Center for Policy Research promoted a different, higher (not to mention unsubstantiated) amount. Hadro likely lifted his claim from the committee's minority spokesperson, serialmisleader Marc Morano.
According to his column, Hadro "is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia." Are such sloppy, biased claims what AIM and AIA think is "journalism" that should be taught to students?
NewsMax Defends Wash. Post Reporter's Attacks on Edwards Topic: Newsmax
The Aug. 12 edition of NewsMax's "Insider Report" does something unusual for the ConWeb: it comes to the defense of a reporter in the dreaded "liberal media." That's because the reporter has done some of NewsMax's work for it through misleading reporting on John Edwards.
The "Insider Report" item focuses on an Aug. 4 Alternet column (which NewsMax erroneously calls "Alter.net") by Alexander Zaitchik attacking Washington Post reporter John Solomon's articles on Edward, in particular Edwards' hedge fund work, real estate dealings and the infamous $400 haircut. NewsMax states:
Zaitchik goes on to cite numerous Solomon stories dealing with Edwards, all accurate and well-researched and all legitimate criticisms of some of John Edward's activities such as his less than savory role in his consulting work in 2005 and 2006 for a hedge fund, his sale of his Georgetown home for $5.2 million or $1.4 million more than he paid for it in 2002.
"Accurate and well-researched"? Not exactly. As Media Matters points out, Solomon's article on the sale of Edwards' house suggests without evidence that the sale was somehow shady without noting that the profit Edwards made on the house was not out of line with the state of the real estate market and the improvements Edwards made to the house while he owned it. In an online discussion about the article, Solomon went even further, baselessly suggesting that Edwards broke campaign finance law in the the sale of the house.
And even Post ombudsman Deborah Howell criticized the tone of Solomon's reporting on Edwards' work for a hedge fund for implying "that consulting for a hedge fund, whose offshore tax havens he has decried, is incompatible with caring about the less fortunate."
Beware when NewsMax praises your work -- that means you're adhering to the conservatives' agenda.
An Aug. 18 NewsBusters post by Michael M. Bates complained that ABC News reported "less than the whole story" by reporting an "incomplete" version of what Ann Coulter said in June about John Edwards. But in pointing out that Coulter's remark that "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" played off remarks Bill Maher made about Dick Cheney, Bates doesn't mention that Coulter misquoted Maher.
As we've pointed out, Maher did not say that "he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack," as Coulter claimed. Rather, he 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."
If Bates is going to accuse one party of misquoting another, shouldn't he note all relevant misquotes?
Foley Scandal Was Clinton's Fault? Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 18 WorldNetDaily article announcied an upcoming four-part series by Jack Cashill purporting to detail "the Clinton-directed targeting and defeat of former Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., the one member of Congress who likely did more to expose Clinton administration culpability in 9-11 than any other." It also states the following:
Cashill points out that the Clintons and their allies have willing media to help in their efforts:
"These same media that functioned – and still do – as a firewall in the service of the Clintons serve now as sappers in the undermining of their enemies.
"With a willing media to trumpet useful messages, this collaboration has effectively ended any number of Republican careers, most recently those of White House staffer Scooter Libby and Reps. Curt Weldon, Tom DeLay and Mark Foley."
It's the Clintons' fault that Foley was trolling for male congressional pages? We can't wait to hear that explanation -- plus the one that holds the Clintons responsible for Scooter Libby's lying before a grand jury and obstructing an investigation, for which a jury agreed that there was enough evidence to convict.
As we'venoted, Cashill has tried to make the case for a Clinton conspiracy against Weldon before in his WND column.
Cashill's most notable journalistic moment, you will recall, was a seven-part WND series in which he declared that James Kopp was innocent of killing a doctor who provided abortions -- a few months before Kopp pleaded guilty to the crime. Cashill also tried to suggest that convicted and admitted Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph was the victim of an FBI conspiracy to attack anti-abortion protesters.
So it's probably safe to take Cashill's overarching Clinton conspiracies with a grain of salt -- though we can't wait to hear how the Clintons forced Foley to chase after young boys.
Joseph Farah just can't help but be biased, it appears.
Farah's Aug. 17 WorldNetDaily column twists Barack Obama's words to claim that Obama said that the U.S. is deliberately bombing civilians in Iraq. Farah, at one point, actually sort of gets the facts right: that Obama "was, in fact, making the point that more U.S. ground troops are needed to avoid the practice of deliberately targeting villages from the air."
Then, two paragraphs later, Farah twists the words again, referring to "Obama's assertion that the U.S. was deliberately 'air-raiding villages' with the intent of killing civilians." Obama, of course, said no such thing -- as Farah himself conceded just two paragraphs earlier.
Farah then goes on to attack the Associated Press for doing a "fact-check" article that vindicates Obama, as if telling facts that support a Democrat is somehow forbidden in Farah's brand of "journalism":
What was more shocking to me as a newsman of 30 years experience was the quick excuse-making and rationalizations offered by the world's largest news-gathering agency, the one that feeds information to thousands of newspapers, websites, radio stations and, thus, has more influence than the New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS combined.
Meanwhile, we're pretty shocked (though not surprised) that someone who repeatedly touts having "30 years experience" in journalism (he's apparently counting his biased advocacy work at WND and the Western Journalism Center as "journalism") is making claims he himself has debunked in the very same column.
It has been widely reported and disputed by some that at least 25 violent crimes per day, including murder, negligent homicide, and rape (especially of children) are being committed by illegal aliens.
Hostetter, of course, makes no effort to dig further into why this is "disputed by some." If he had, he would know that there is some bogus math behind that number, which would have stopped normal people from repeating it no matter how "widely reported" it is.
But not Hostetter. Like Morano's acolytes (and Massie), the number's adherence to his agenda -- not its accuracy -- is all that matters.
NewsBusters Still Silent on Fox News' Wikipedia Hijinks Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 16 NewsBusters post by Matthew Balan is the third NewsBusters post in recent days to reference a website that traces who is editing entries on Wikipedia. Like "Mithridate Ombud" and Matthew Sheffield before him (we we've noted), Balan fails to mention that numerous Wikipedia edits came from the IP address of Fox News (as we've noted).
Balan does, however, take care to point out that CNN's Kiran Chetry is "an alumna of Fox News Channel’s 'Fox & Friends Weekend.'" The man clearly has his priorities straight.
Baker Again Cites Morano's Bogus Statistics Topic: Media Research Center
As he did on Aug. 8, the Media Research Center's Brent Baker again responded to a news report that dares tro be critical of global warming deniers by citing false and unsupported statistics by Marc Morano. In an Aug. 16 NewsBusters post and CyberAlert item, Baker writes in response to an NBC report:
Citing the far-left Union of Concerned Scientists, [NBC reporter Anne Thompson] highlighted their claim that “ExxonMobil gave almost $16 million over seven years to denier groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute.” But as Marc Morano, of the minority staff of the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works, disclosed in a posting, “proponents of man-made global warming have been funded to the tune of $50 BILLION in the last decade or so,” not even counting the impact of one-sided media reporting, “while skeptics have received a paltry $19 MILLION.”
Baker overlooks the absurdity of the numbers he cites. If Baker accepts Thompson's claim that "ExxonMobil gave almost $16 million over seven years to denier groups" -- a number he makes no effort to correct -- that would mean that all other "denier group" activity totals a mere $3 million, an assertion that's absurd on its face.
Indeed, as we've detailed, Morano's $19 million is a single statistic, funding by ExxonMobil to "denier groups," and Morano makes no attempt to include all money spent by such groups. Further, there is no substantiation of the $50 billion figure, and he appears to be blindly throwing in tangental issues such as alternative-fuel development in his accounting of funding for "proponents of man-made global warming" to artificially inflate the figure.
Is Baker (not to mention theotherconservatives who have swallowed these numbers) so desperate to attack global warming that they will peddle any number that discredits it, no matter how clearly absurd?
New Article: Temper-Tantrum Journalism Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily leads a short-lived, passive-aggressive protest against the White House for alleged disrespect of Les Kinsolving. But does Kinsolving's brand of journalism really deserve respect? Read more.
Meet Your Anonymous NewsBusters Bloggers Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 15 NewsBusters post by "Mithridate Ombud" is the second in an apparent series of "Meet Your News Providers," in which she highlights media workers caught doing bad things (this time, allegedly robbing a bank).
Hey, we have a nutty idea: How about "Mithridate Ombud" stepping out from behind his/her pseudonymous identity? (We've tried to out "Ombud" before.) After all, there's little reason to trust the opinion of someone who won't put his or her own name on it -- or perhaps even an organization like the Media Research Center that permits such pseudonymous blogging.
So, how about it, "Mithridate"? Why are you so ashamed to use your real name?
UPDATE: "Ombud" writes in another Aug. 15 post that "a BBC IP address has been tracked down to a recent Wikipedia edit that changed the name of George Walker Bush to George Wanker Bush." "Ombud," like Matthew Sheffield in a earlier post on Wikipedia edits, is silent on the fact that numerous Wikipedia edits came from the IP address of Fox News.
Farah Swallows Morano's Bogus Numbers Too Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah is the latestconservative to mindlessly repeat Marc Morano's bogus statistics regarding funding of global warming opponents vs. proponents. From Farah's Aug. 16 column:
Government and corporations have spent about $50 billion in the last 10 years promoting the hysterical notion that catastrophic, manmade global warming is going to destroy the planet unless we provide Al Gore and his friends with all the power they need to stop it.
On the other hand, real scientists who are even remotely skeptical about these claims are denied positions in academia and grants. By comparison, the climate-change skeptics have spent less than $20 million in those 10 years, according to some estimates.
Farah did attempt to hedge things a bit, throwing in "according to some estimates" though he's citing only one estimate, Morano's. But he embraces Morano's wrongness by claiming that "Government and corporations have spent about $50 billion in the last 10 years." While Morano asserted that "proponents of man-made global warming have been funded to the tune of $50 BILLION in the last decade or so," the source Morano cites in support, Bob Carter, said (without evidence, of course) that it was $50 billion since 1990. That would be 17 years, by the way.
As we've detailed, Morano offers no evidence to back up his claim that "proponents of man-made global warming have been funded to the tune of $50 BILLION," whether it be over 10 or 20 years, and Morano's number of $19 million for "skeptics" is a single statistic -- the amount ExxonMobil has given to conservative organizations over the past two decades -- and not reflective of the total to which skeptics have been funded. Further, that $50 billion amount appears to encompass entire budgets of organizations in which only a small amount of which may have gone to "proponents of man-made global warming," and includes tangental or unrelated numbers such as spending on alternative fuel development.
As a former editor in chief of daily newspapers, I have an exquisitely refined sense of propriety. I frequently served as a highly paid expert witness on newspaper standards and practices. My job often entailed cutting out biased copy from stories before they ever saw the light of day.
Too bad none of that purported "sense of propriety" is reflected at WND, where it appears nobody's job is to "cut out biased copy from stories before they ever saw the light of day" (aswe'verepeatedlydocumented).
NewsMax's Ronald Kessler revved up his fluffingskills for a pair of Aug. 13 articles.
The first weighs in on Karl Rove's resignation. Kessler does a fair bit of Rove-fluffing -- delcaring him "perhaps the greatest political tactician in American history" -- with a bit of his usual Bush-fluffing on the side:
Besides getting a huge advance in a book deal, Rove will be contributing to President Bush's legacy by writing a book that will be more widely read if it comes out when Bush is still president.
As part of shaping Bush's legacy, he is going to be one of the key planners of the Bush library, where he will have a prominent position. Rove is a brilliant student of American history, surpassing the most erudite history professors. He will relish comparing Bush with other presidents.
The other article details a crucial issue of utmost importance: what rich people are reading while vacationing on Nantucket:
In a sign that Americans may be tiring of unremitting negative portrayals of their country, the hottest book this summer on the largely liberal island of Nantucket is "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10."
In featuring the owner of Nantucket bookstore owner Mary "Mimi" Havemeyer Beman, Kessler engages in some serious name-dropping: "Beman's customers range from billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife and Tommy Hilfiger to Teresa Heinz, Bob Wright of NBC, Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, and Brian Williams. Over the years, Princess Grace and Jacqueline Onassis have been customers as well."
Kessler goes on to add:
On the other side of the political spectrum, "Richard Mellon Scaife likes best sellers, fiction and nonfiction best sellers," Beman says. When Ann Coulter's books come out, they are always snapped up.
Nowhere does Kessler disclose that Scaife, as part-owner of NewsMax, is essentially his boss.
-- Oops! WorldNetDaily's Chuck Norris inadvertently reveals the secret agenda of evangelical-promoted Bible-as-history classes in public schools -- to "get God back into your public school." Bartholomew and Ed Brayton catch Norris in the act of walking back that goal changing it to "get the Bible back into your public school" without telling readers. (The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, in reproducing Norris' column, deleted the reference entirely after Brayton called them on it.)
-- Not only did Melanie Morgan overlook an unsubstantiated Clinton smear uttered by her Move America Forward compadre "Buzz" Patterson in her Aug. 10 WND column, she invented a couple new military regulations as well, as Media Matters documents.
Baker Doesn't Think Rove Leaked Plame's Identity Topic: Media Research Center
In an Aug. 14 NewsBusters post and CyberAlert item, Brent Baker was upset that news reports on Karl Rove's resignation "highlighted his 'leaking' of Valerie Plame's name":
On the Plame case, once again, none of the network stories noted that while Rove may have mentioned her employer to reporters, it was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's leak to columnist Robert Novak which got her name and CIA employment into the news media.
Got that? As far as Baker is concerned, Rove didn't leak Plame's identity; he merely "mentioned her employer to reporters."
And, like numerousMRCwriters before him, Baker apparently believes the absurd notion that because Armitage leaked Plame's name to Robert Novak, and Novak was the first to report it ahead of the reporters to whom Rove leaked, that Rove's leak -- er, mentioning of Plame's employment -- somehow magically didn't happen.
UPDATE: As Media Matters reminds us, Rove didn't merely "mention her employer to reporters" -- he served as confirmation of what Armitage told Novak, something Baker fails to mention.