A Sept. 14 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston tries to paint the Alexis Debat faked-interview scandal as a "liberal media" problem because he served as "the main source for some of the AP's and ABC's stories." But Huston downplays the fact that conservatives got hoodwinked by him as well.
For instance, the conservative Counterterrorism Blog loved the heck out of Debat:
One of the premier experts in Washington on Pakistan, Alexis Debat of the Nixon Center and ABC News, traveled again to Pakistan last month and gave a briefing yesterday to invitees. Alexis is a daily CTB reader, and we've traded valuable background information and timely intelligence. He met there with numerous government officials and non-governmental personnel, including those in league with the terrorists. His findings and conclusions are extremely troubling, not only for the future of Pakistan but also for the future of a democracy in Afghanistan.
Further, a Sept. 2 WorldNetDaily article cited Debat as the source of a claim that the Pentagon has rejected a strategy of "pinprick strikes" against Iran's nuclear facilities and plan on "taking out the entire Iranian military." A Sept. 2 NewsMax article similarly repeated Debat's claim.
Huston went on to add:
So, what the heck is going on with editors these days? It seems they are all out to lunch while liars like Jason Blair, Jack Kelly, Michael Finkel, and Stephen Glass -- the list goes on and on -- just make things up out of their rear ends and publish their lies with little notice from those who are supposed to be the media's fact-checkers.
But NewsBusters itself has its own favorite fabulist, whom it has cited long after he was discredited.
As we've detailed, a May 2006 post by Noel Sheppard touted a claim by Amir Taheri about "a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims." Sheppard added: "The question is: will America’s media report this? ... [W]here is the media outrage concerning this extremely heinous move by the current extremists in Iran?" The story was quickly retracted; the only alert NewsBusters gave to its readers about it was quietly appending a note about the retraction to Sheppard's post five days later but not otherwise publicizing it.
(In a delicious bit of irony, two months earlier, Joshua Sharf had included Taheri in a list of "real Middle East expert[s]" the Washington Post should be consulting.)
Amazingly, Taheri's lack of credibility has not kept conservatives -- and NewsBusters -- from citing him as a credible source: An Aug. 8 post by Tom Blumer touted an OpinionJournal.com column by Taheri. Neither Blumer nor OpinionJournal.com mentioned Taheri's previous fact-free debacle.
Also, Huston's mention of "Jack Kelly" is presumably referring to Jack Kelley, a USA Today reporter busted for fabricating parts of several articles. Contrary to Huston's suggestion, Kelley's work was conservative-friendly; as we've noted, WorldNetDaily printed an article by him and featured his writing about the Middle East, praising him as one of only a "few correspondents with background in the area who jetted in for a few weeks and left before they became tainted with the political correctness required of the resident media set."
Before Huston hurls any more smears at the media for taking the word of non-credible people, NewsBusters might want to clear its own closet of fabulists.
Kessler Fluffs Discredited Author's New Book Topic: Newsmax
In an Aug. 23 article, NewsMax's Ronald Kessler promoted Ed Klein's new unauthorized bio of Katie Couric. It must not be selling that well, because Kessler uses a Sept. 12 article to promote it again, complaining that "the mainstream media have virtually ignored" the book.
Missing from both articles is the likely reason people might be ignoring Klein's book -- Klein's previous book, a hatchet job on Hillary Clinton, mentioned only in passing in the Aug. 23 article and not at all on Sept. 12. Indeed, the Couric book looks to be another Klein hatchet job. From Kessler's Aug. 23 article:
As Klein tells it, one of Couric's shortcomings and a reason "CBS Evening News" remains in third place is Couric's unabashed liberal agenda.
"I think the lesson of Fox News' success is a good lesson," Klein tells me. "Couric and the people around her at CBS are really out of touch with mainstream America.
"She hangs out with Steve Tyler of Aerosmith in Nantucket. That says everything. It's the old Chablis-and-cheese liberalism. People don't want to get their news from somebody who wears open-toed shoes, wears purple eye shadow, and who hangs out with Steve Tyler of Aerosmith at night. They want somebody more serious, more trained, more culturally attuned to what's going on in the world."
Meanwhile, Klein reports, Couric wasn't interested in spending time with her husband Jay Monahan when he was dying of colon cancer. That tells everything one needs to know about her character.
To be sure, their marriage was on the rocks, in part because of her overwhelming need to outshine him.
Although she is too superficial to have deep liberal convictions, Couric's liberal image has hurt her as well, Klein says.
"She's a sort of classic limousine liberal. She is a good friend of Hillary Clinton. She got her publicist from Hillary. Her executive producer on "CBS Evening News," Rick Kaplan, is an old, old friend of Bill who slept at the White House many times while Clinton was in office."
But, Klein notes, "She's not one of these dyed-in-the wool ideologues. I think she's not deep enough and profound enough a person for that. She's more of a knee-jerk liberal. And I think her liberalism infuses everything in her life, including her work. But the thing that really has done her in is more her lack of the proper temperament and training for the job she holds than her ideology."
Yep, Klein is showing the same kind of hatred toward Couric that he showed toward Hillary. And he wonders why his book isn't selling.
While my employer was spending weeks and months contacting every single daily newspaper in the country to gather information for its special report on syndicated columnists, the Media Research Center's idea of a "special report" consists of cherry-picking blog quotes.
The MRC's goal was to depict Huffington Post as riddled with "less than honorable and respectable verbiage" and lacking "accuracy and civility." In a Sept. 13 NewsBusters post promoting the report, "study" author Tim Graham called HuffPo "the Obnoxious Roommate of the Liberal Media Elite."
Lest Graham and his fellow NewsBusters bloggers get too high and mighty about being the last bastion of "accuracy and civility" in the blogosphere, it's worth noting that the roster of contributors to NewsBusters have included a defender of a terrorist who plotted to bomb a California mosque and a field office of Republican congressman, as well as a man who is obsessed with his penis. As far as less than honorable" writing is concerned, NewsBusters have called Daily Kos posters "crypto-nazis," likened Hillary Clinton to North Korea's Kim Jong Il, and heartily endorsed an attack on Keith Olbermann that called him a "moron" and "hung like a thumbtack." And its commenters have a certain anti-journalist bent.
Further, the numerous false and misleading claims NewBusters has featured belie any claim to "accuracy" it might dare to imply through Graham's "study."
In a Sept. 12 NewsBusters post, Robin Boyd makes a strange attempt to discredit an ABC/BBC/NHK poll of Iraqi citizens that demonstrates she knows little about how polling works. Boyd stires:
First of all - the sample size. The number of Iraqis questioned for the poll was approximately 2100 people. 2100 people in a country with an estimated population of 27,499,638 according to the CIA Factbook. That means the poll results were from 1/1000 of the population. How can a sample size that small even be considered partially representative of the population?
Boyd offers no evidence that the poll's sample size deviates from standard polling practice. In fact, sample sizes for national polls in the U.S. typically cover 1,000 to 1,500 respondents. Using a sample size larger than that for a country with 1/10th the population of the U.S. would seem to make the Iraqi poll more accurate than a U.S. poll, would it not?
(Boyd also fails to note that the CIA Factbook population is off by a couple million due to all the war refugees.)
Next - the polling companies. The polls were managed by D3 Systems of Vienna, VA and KA Research Ltd of Istanbul. Both polling companies work with an all-Iraqi staff from in-country. I have no way of knowing the ulterior motives of the Iraqi staff members but recalling the number of "in-country" media stringers who have been involved with insurgents makes one wonder. Both companies have performed similar surveys for ABC and BBC prior to this one.
Here, Boyd is making a sloppy stab at guilt by association that she knows she has no evidence to back up.
Boyd went on to cite allegedly positive poll results that that weren't reported because "the media reports the poll results that make America look bad and ignore the results that point to progress. Typical." Josh Marshall, meanwhile, does his own analysis and finds even more troubling numbers than have been reported by anyone, including Boyd.
CNSNews.com has done a better job of late of writing balanced articles, but a pair of Sept. 12 articles served up uncountered conservative attacks.
The first, by Kevin Mooney, featured Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's attacks on "Congressional Democrats who respond to pressure from far-left groups such as Moveon.org" to criticize Gen. David Petraeus. Mooney made no apparent effort to contact a Democrat to respond to McConnell's attacks.
The second, by Randy Hall, started with a bit of labeling bias, pitting "liberal activist group MoveOn" against "conservative non-profit group" Freedom's Watch. (Both organizations bought full-page ads in the New York Times to express their respective positions on the war, but only one is "activist"?) Hall went on to quote Freedom's Watch's Brad Blakeman and the MRC's Tim Graham bashing the MoveOn ad, but no criticism whatsoever of the Freedom's Watch ad; Hall did note that "Calls seeking comment from MoveOn regarding the Freedom's Watch advertisement were not returned by press time."
By contrast, a Sept. 13 article by Nathan Burchfiel on an upcoming anti-war protest makes sure to include information on a conservative counter-protest, and a Sept. 13 article by Monisha Bansal on Democratic Rep. Jane Harman's suggestion that the U.S. could do more to stop al-Qaeda is countered by stating that "White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend noted that 'two-thirds of al Qaeda's leadership from 9/11 has been captured or killed.'"
We're hoping that CNS is not slipping back into old, biased habits.
WND Matt Sanchez Silence Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has added a Sept. 13 article and column to the list of dispatches it has published by Iraq correspondent Matt Sanchez. WND has yet to tell its readers of Sanchez's gay-porn past nor how someone with such a history is allowed to work for WND despite Joseph Farah's declaration that someone with a similar history would not be employed by WND because "WorldNetDaily hires only serious and experienced journalists with the highest standards of ethics – both in their professional lives and their personal lives."
-- While Warner Todd Huston demands that Fred Thompson be judged on what he meant, not what he said, Mark Finkelstein declares Barack Obama "a not-ready-for-prime-time player" on what he thinks Obama said, not what he meant.
-- Brent Baker complains (in the CyberAlert, too) that Katie Couric spent more time covering the death of a parrot than covering wayward Hillary Clinton fundraiser Norman Hsu. But neither Couric nor Baker (nor anyone else at NewsBusters or the MRC, for that matter) have spent any time whatsoever covering wayward Mitt Romney fundraiser Alan Fabian.
-- Similarly, Dave Pierre complains that the LA Times devoted little coverage to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa after a commission "fined the mayor $5,200 for 30 campaign violations related to his 2003 run for a District council seat." See previous item.
-- Jason Aslinger bashes CBS' Andrew Cohen for criticizing the reduction in post-9/11 civil liberties because he "does not credit that policy for the prevention of further terrorist attacks" and for "complain[ing] about the claimed 'unconstitutionality' of Guantanomo Bay" while failing to cite "the deterrent effect of the facility." Aslinger offers no evidence to support his cause-effect assertions. Aslinger asserts that only "legal eggheads" care about such things, concluding: "The contrast in approaches could not be more distinct: the Bush Administration has taken clear, decisive, tangible action - while Cohen would convene a terror summit."
-- Noel Sheppard is surprised that a conservative columnist would write a column supporting the conservative postiion on global warming.
In a Sept. 11 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard attacked Salon.com editor Joan Walsh for backing up her claim that Katie Couric's CBS Evening News reports from Iraq were "softball" and a "puff piece drop in" (attacked by Sheppard in a previous post) by linking to a video from MoveOn.org. Sheppard asserted:
So, the editor of one of the leading ezines in the country is actually defending her position concerning Couric, Petraeus, and the war in Iraq by using a video created by an extreme leftwing organization like MoveOn the day after it published an ad in the New York Times so disgraceful that many Democrats came out against it.
... even though in the immediately preceding paragraph, he quoted Walsh calling the MoveOn ad "marred, in my opinion, by the right-baiting play on Petraeus as 'Betray us.' "
The title of Sheppard's post? "Is Salon’s Editor in Bed With MoveOn?"
Given that Sheppard is in bed with Marc Morano, he may not be the right person to be raising such issues of coziness.
Newsbusters criticized Frank Rich for criticizing Couric (whom they used to hate until she did her Petraeus-eye view). Somehow male Couric critics and male MoveOn fans -- lefty blogosphere skeptic Matt Bai loves MoveOn -- aren't "in bed" with the group. Try to find some new ways to say I'm too nice to MoveOn, OK, Noel? My daughter's kind of alarmed.
As such, your apparent disagreement with "Betray Us" by no means mitigates your continued use of MoveOn to buttress your position. Though you might not like the breath emanating from the person snoring next to you, he still appears to be your bedmate ...
All that give-and-take, and we can't get Mr. Sheppard to acknowledge our existence (let alone correct all the mistakes and misleading assertions he's made.) And we know they know we exist, since they're stealing our ideas.
So, Noel, is Marc Morano's breath minty fresh? Do tell ...
Posted by Terry K.
at 7:11 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 11:36 PM EDT
Massie Again Repeats Bogus Immigration Statistic Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've previously noted Mychal Massie's embrace of Rep. Steve King's claim that 25 Americans are killed by illegals every day, half of whom by murder and the others mostly by drunken driving -- a total of 9,000 a year -- despite the fact that a cursory examination shows that the number has no basis in reality. Massie peddles it once again in his Sept. 11 WorldNetDaily column attacking Rudy Giuliani for making the logical point that because illegal immigration is considered a civil offense, it isn't a crime by legal definition (as well as "Robert Pape and the professorial elite" for his claims about Islamic terrorism and Earl Ofari Hutchinson for -- well, we don't know why since Massie never explains):
Giuliani, Pape and Earl Ofari Hutchinson should try explaining to the remaining family members of 9/11 victims and the parents of the children murdered by illegals in Newark just how their positions make sense. Let them explain themselves to the remaining family members of approximately 9,000 Americans killed and murdered by illegals every year.
Apparently for Massie, the number is just too good to fact-check.
Aaron Klein is not the only ConWeb reporter with his own coterie of sources he can reliably count on to spout the (Republican) party line.
In a Sept. 10 article, NewsMax's Ronald Kessler marshals his Mighty Wurlitzer to denounce Robert Draper’s new book "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush," for committing the sin of being critical of the Bush administration (for which Kessler is heavily in the tank). Kessler quotes a pair of his old faithfuls -- Andy Card and Brad Blakeman -- to nitpick the book and express "embarrassment" that the White House chose to cooperate with such an author. Blakeman, for his part, happily obliges:
"Draper looks disheveled on TV, and he is critical because the media expects it, and it sells books,” said Blakeman, who is president and CEO of Freedom’s Watch, a new conservative group. “They gave this guy access when he clearly was not qualified.”
“Any company or agency knows that you don’t reward people with access if they are ether incompetent or have a predisposition to trash you, yet this author was given access to the president.”
In fact, far from having "a predisposition to trash" the president, Draper has issued praise for Bush. In a Salon interview, Draper addressed the accusations of critics like Card, Blakeman and Kessler:
I did have a deal with the White House, and that is that I would write a fair-minded, nonjudgmental literary narrative of Bush's presidency, and I think I've delivered that. I do think that the writer of that piece, Richard Wolffe, whom I know and admire, is right that the book has thrown the White House off message when Bush is trying to turn the page on a lot of things. That's not my book's intention. Its intention is to be a lasting book, and I told the president that when I was making my pitch to him -- a book that was not just for and about the news cycle.
Draper went on to offer an honest assessment of the president:
And it's amazing to me that people refuse to acknowledge that he has any gifts at all. But those who are in a room can feel it. And among them is that Bush has a very pungent personality. He has these scruffy charms about him. He doesn't really put on airs. The guy you see is the guy he is, pretty much. Sure, he has a variety of shortcomings, and they've hamstrung his presidency in a variety of ways. But one thing that became meaningful to me in doing that book is that I interviewed people who have been working for Bush over the years -- they love this guy. I don't just mean that they admire him. I don't just mean they are in awe of him. I mean they really love him and would take a bullet for him. I've spent a lot of time now with a lot of elected officials and the people who work for them, and you can't always say that about them.
But beyond the fact that Bush is charming and there's this incredible loyalty that is cultivated between him and his subordinates, he has a surprising intellect. A guy who reads Cormac McCarthy isn't a dummy. And a guy who can listen to an economist talk about a tax scheme and just eviscerate the guy because he doesn't seem to really understand what he is talking about and there's a loose thread in his argument cannot be intellectually lazy. I think that what's difficult to reconcile is this man's brightness with his capacity for incuriosity.
What's wrong with this as far as Kessler, et al, are concerned? Draper appears to care about the truth, whereas they only want hagiography.
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has been hyping a purported break-in at the house of Kathleen Willey (who just happens to have a book coming out), purportedly by the Clintons (and, of course, failing to mention Willey's utter lack of credibility on such matters). WND followed that up with a break-in claim by Clinton-basher David Schippers.
These purported, loosely documented incidents have prompted WND's Joseph Farah to go into Clinton-paranoia mode. In his Sept. 11 column, Farah asserts:
I lived through the Clintons in the 1990s and survived with the scars to prove it.
Yes, my offices were repeatedly burglarized during those years. (They never were before or since!) What was taken? Nothing. Even my post office box was broken into once. Imagine someone breaking into a post office to steal mail from only one box! And, of course, I was one of many who faced the wrath of the Clintons' political audits – one of many. Those were the bad, old Clinton years.
I am not eager to return to those days.
Of course, Farah offers no evidence to support the break-in claim.
Farah also runs to Willey's defense, claiming she has suffered from "unfair characterization" but not mentioning the facts behind her lack of credibility.
Looks like Farah is firing up WND to act as a Clinton-hating 2.0 machine, just like NewsMax -- or perhaps even worse, given NewsMax's recent efforts to appear more mainstream.
A Sept. 10 NewsMax column by Ronald Kessler promoting John Podhoretz's new book "World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism," states the following:
The outcome of World War IV is still in doubt — not because we don’t have the capability to defeat terrorists but because our effort is being undermined by our own people and the "defeat industry," as writer Amir Taheri has put it.
Taheri, you will recall, was the man behind the claim that the Iranian parliament passed a law that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims. Taheri's claim was heavily promoted by conservatives -- until it was proven to be false.
Taheri's lack of credibility, though, hasn't stopped conservatives like Kessler from approvingly citing him.
Kinsolving's Continuing Problem With the Facts Topic: WorldNetDaily
Why can't Les Kinsolving get basic facts straight?
During the Sept. 10 White House press briefing, Kinsolving centered a question around Media Matters (my employer,) calling it "financially supported by George Soros." But as Media Matters has pointed out, Soros has never given money to Media Matters, either directly or through another organization.
Of course, Kinsolving still thinks that Bill Clinton was "indicted, tried and found guilty of both perjury and obstruction of justice," so he's clearly unemcumbered by the truth.
Kinsolving also rattled off a list of right-wing radio hosts who Media Matters has "denounced." Among them was a name transcribed by the White House as "Forts," presumably Neal Boortz. But in the Sept. 11 WND article featuring Kinsolving's questions, "Forts" remains. That shows you the level of editorial scrutiny at WND, on top of Kinsolving's own.