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Friday, October 5, 2007
Flashback: WND, NewsMax Took Senator Out of Context
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The Media Research Center isn't the only ConWeb component to have falsely smeared those they don't agree with.

As we documented, back in 2002, as attempted revenge for the controversy over Trent Lott's remarks about Strom Thurmond, WorldNetDaily seized on remarks made by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray about Osama bin Laden. Murray said that that bin Laden has been "out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that. ... We've got to ask, why is this man so popular around the world? ...Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty?"

But WND, in conjunction with NewsMax twisted Murray's words and claimed that she was"prais[ing]" bin Laden. NewsMax declared Lott's comments "far less offensive" than Murray's. WND's Joseph Farah chortled: "Now there are several ways to attack (Murray's) statement – so many, in fact, it's difficult to know where to begin." Using WND's "news" pages to smear her and take her out of context, of course, is just one of them.

Like the MRC, WND and NewsMax have run to the defense of Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh over their recent controversial statements -- indeed, the ConWeb has galloped to Limbaugh's defense every time he has gotten into trouble. And like the MRC, they're hypocrites in doing so.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:38 PM EDT
Who's Behind Abortion-Breast Cancer Study? (Update)
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article reported that "A new study shows that abortions can be classified as carcinogens, because the number of breast cancer cases can be predicted reasonably accurately based on the number of abortions in a given population." But the group behind the study has a murky background, and the study was published in a conservative journal.

The study was conducted by Patrick S. Carroll, which WND described as being with "London-based research institute PAPRI." What is that? PAPRI stands for Pension and Population Research Institute, which is so low-profile it doesn't even have a website. What does it do? We're not really sure. A Nexis search uncovered little information about the group; a December 2001 article in the journal GP describes the PAPRI as "a charitable trust with educational aims" and Carroll as an "actuarial researcher." Indeed, Carroll seems to be PAPRI's only employee: He's the only one quoted as representing it, mostly in either press releases by anti-abortion groups touting his abortion-breast cancer research or letters to the editor to British newspapers regarding population issues In a February 2006 letter to the UK Observer, Carroll blamed government policies for the low British birth rate -- "The National Health has offered hormonal contraceptives free of charge since 1973. The slump in the birth rate has followed closely this government measure. Eighty per cent of British abortions are paid for by the NHS" -- adding, "When men have the higher salary, there is less of a financial hurdle to clear to parenthood. Pressure for more women in top jobs will further depress the birth rate."  A 1993 article in the Independent of London cites an Alan Smallbone as "chairman of the trustees of the Pension and Population Research Institute."

Carroll published a previous study trying to establish an abortion-breast cancer link in 2001. A article stated that it was "commissioned by a British pro-life group." the British group Life. That appears to be this group; it argues against abortion even in cases of rape and fetal deformity. That's a red flag; a "pro-life group" would only be interested in funding research that attacks abortion, which makes the results suspect. Indeed, in his new study, Carroll states: "Particular thanks are due to the charities LIFE and The Medical Education Trust, which funded the research." The Medical Education Trust appears to be another British anti-abortion group; it lists among its publications "Induced Abortion: Hazards to Health and Future Motherhood." WND does not mention that "pro-life" groups funded Carroll's research.

And what better place to get a bought-and-paid-for study published than the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, where Carroll's study appeared? As we've detailed, the JAPS is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a conservative-leaning group that likes to put its politics ahead of sound research. Most notoriously, the JAPS published a 2003 anti-immigrant screed by Madeleine Cosman that falsely claimed "in the past three years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy," which she blamed on illegal immigration; in fact, 7,000 is the cumulative number of cases over the past 30 years (as we've detailed).

If Cosman's rant made it through the JAPS' purported peer review, one has to look at Carroll's work with similar skepticism.

UPDATE: An Oct. 5 article by Randy Hall reports on Carroll's study, but like WND, he doesn't note that it was funded by two anti-abortion groups. And like WND, Hall quotes Karen Malec, president of the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer -- which is touting the study -- making unsupportable, overblown claims. Hall writes that according to Malec, the study "re-confirms what many scientists acknowledge in private but won't mention in public ... because they fear the potential medical liability involved." WND, meanwhile, quotes Malec saying that "abortions are highly, highly, carcinogenic" and that "It's time for scientists to admit publicly what they already acknowledge privately among themselves – that abortion raises breast cancer risk – and to stop conducting flawed research to protect the medical establishment from massive … lawsuits."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:19 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, October 5, 2007 9:16 AM EDT
Thursday, October 4, 2007
WND Joins Misleading Limbaugh Bandwagon
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From an Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article regarding Rush Limbaugh's controversial "phony soldiers" remark:

None of the calls for repudiation or apology, however, contain a transcript of Limbaugh's remarks. That's because other than the two words "phony soldiers," it wouldn't be possible to make the case that Limbaugh was maligning anti-war soldiers generally. He was, in the context of Wednesday's commentaries, specifically addressing the case of Jesse MacBeth, an anti-war activist who claimed to have witnessed atrocities as a Purple Heart recipient in the Army Rangers.

But WND doesn't serve up a transcript either. Perhaps that's because, far from not making "the case that Limbaugh was maligning anti-war soldiers generally," a transcript would show that nearly two minutes elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment -- made in response to a caller talking about those opposing the Iraq war who "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media" -- and his first mention of MacBeth.

If a transcript would have made it impossible to claim that Limbaugh "was maligning anti-war soldiers generally," why didn't WND supply or link to one with its article?

Posted by Terry K. at 6:20 PM EDT
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From an Oct. 4 Salt Lake Tribune editorial:

Dick Cheney may be the most powerful vice president in American history. He also is one of the most secretive, and he has dedicated much of his career to concentrating power in the hands of the president. 

This triple combination explains why last week's closed meeting of conservative activists in Salt Lake City gave people the creeps. And why many journalists in Utah and around the country are amazed or aghast that Deseret Morning News Editor Joe Cannon, until last year a lobbyist and chairman of the Republican Party in Utah, would agree not only to address this shadowy group, but to abide by its gag order not to talk or write publicly about what was said. 

When fraternity boys meet for shrouded rituals, nobody cares. But when professional spinners and policy wonks with an obvious political agenda meet in private with the vice president of the United States, people naturally wonder what's going on and what might come of it. 

Nor was Cheney the only public official to meet with the Council for National Policy. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Richard Greco, Jr., assistant secretary of the Navy, also spoke to the group.

The public has more than a passing interest in what these folks had to say, which is why it would have served that interest to have the meetings open to the public. News organizations also have a vested interest in maintaining public access to public officials and the people who want to influence and be influenced by them.

As we detailed, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah also attended this same CNP meeting, and his only report from it was an unbylined, unsourced article -- printed as Farah was, ironically, railing against another group for not allowing a WND reporter in.

Farah needs to explain to his readers how his acquiesence to CNP officials in keeping the proceedings of the Salt Lake meeting secret meshes with his proclaimed opposition to leaving officials "alone to conspire in secret about matters of public interest in this country."

UPDATE: An Oct. 4 WND article by Jerome Corsi attacks Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius for "participating in the secretive Bilderberg annual meeting in Turkey." Corsi does not mention the secretive CNP meeting his boss attended.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:15 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2007 6:37 PM EDT
Noel Sheppard's Disgraceful Gore Smear
Topic: NewsBusters

One person we didn't include on the list of victims of Media Research Center smears, but easily could have, is Al Gore.

We've previously noted how NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard has baselessly accused Gore of being a global warming activist only for the money -- indeed, he admitted in a Sept. 25 post, "NewsBusters readers are aware that one of my contentions concerning global warming alarmism is that those involved are doing it for the money," a claim for which he offers no evidence of (that some, including perhaps Gore, have made money on global warming is not evidence that are "doing it for the money"; otherwise, it could just as easily be asserted that Sheppard, since the MRC pays him to write his attacks on global warming, is similarly only "doing it for the money"). Sheppard keeps up the smear in an Oct. 3 post.

Under the headline, "Al Gore Getting Rich Spreading Global Warming Hysteria With Media’s Help," Sheppard writes:

Americans willing to look at the manmade global warming debate with any degree of impartiality and honesty are well aware that those spreading the hysteria have made a lot of money doing so, and stand to gain much more if governments mandate carbon dioxide emissions reductions.

In fact, just two months ago, ABC estimated soon-to-be-Nobel Laureate Al Gore's net worth at $100 million, which isn't bad considering that he was supposedly worth about $1 million when he watched George W. Bush get sworn in as president in January 2001.

Talk about your get-rich-quick schemes, how'd you like to increase your net worth 10,000 percent in less than seven years?

But the ABC report to which Sheppard refers did not cite Gore's global warming activism as the source of his fortune -- in fact, the report didn't mention global warming at all:

After his failed presidential run, a bearded and embattled Gore signed on as an adviser with a then-obscure Internet company called Google.

He went on to join the board of Apple, then he started his own profitable cable company and an asset management firm.

Now, according to a new article in Fast Company magazine, the former U.S. vice president is worth at least $100 million.

"I think he feels that he's doing things that are innovative and transformational and in sectors, which he thinks are in badly need of change, and I think he's enjoying being right," said Ellen McGirt, a Fast Company writer.

Sheppard has often attacked those who write things he doesn't agree as "disgraceful." That's a fitting description of Sheppard's false smear of Gore.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 PM EDT
MRC Misleads on SCHIP Funding
Topic: Media Research Center

An Oct. 3 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd attacked an Associated Press reporter for "her biased coverage of President Bush's veto of the Democratic proposal to boost SCHIP by a whopping $35 billion over five years." Shepherd countered:

And what about the fact that President Bush would be fine with a $5 billion increase over five years -- simple math tells us that's a healthy $1 billion-a-year on average. Indeed, given current spending levels, a $5 billion increase would amount to a 20 percent hike in spending, hardly a draconian cut in taxpayer spending.

In fact, as Media Matters reported, a Congressional Budget Office study found that "maintaining the states' current programs under SCHIP would require funding of $39 billion for the 2007-2012 period." SCHIP's current budget is $25 billion over those five years; Bush's additional $5 billion would bring that total up to $30 billion -- $9 billion short of what is needed to maintain the program at current levels.

Similarly, an Oct. 3 Business & Media Institute report by Amy Menefee claimed that "Bush wanted to expand SCHIP by about $5 billion over the next five years (a 20-percent funding increase) as opposed to the bill passed by the Senate and House, which would have added $35 billion over the same period (a 140-percent increase)" without noting the CBO figures showing that Bush's funding "increase" would underfund the program as it's currently set up.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:04 AM EDT
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Quote of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

"In actuality, the pro-life movement is the most peaceful social justice movement in American history." -- Jill Stanek, Oct. 3 WorldNetDaily column.

Barnett Slepian, David Gunn, Robert Sanderson and Emily Lyons must surely take comfort in that statement.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:47 PM EDT
CNS on Limbaugh: Still Wide of the Mark
Topic: just can't seem to get the facts right on Rush Limbaugh, though it's nudging slightly closer to the truth.

Following up on an article the day before that mischaracterized the controversy over Limbaugh's recent remarks, an Oct. 3 article by Nathan Burchfiel and Monisha Bansal again said that "Limbaugh used the term 'phony soldiers' in setting up a story about Jesse Macbeth, a former soldier who was recently sentenced to five months in prison for obtaining veterans' benefits by falsifying his military records" [emphasis ours]. That is a slight change from yesterday, which unequivocally stated that Limbaugh used "phony soldiers" "to describe Jesse Macbeth."

The Oct. 3 article added that "Limbaugh clarified on his radio show that he was referring specifically to Macbeth and others like him" -- again, a slight change fom the day before, which claimed that Limbaugh "explained" what he was referring to.

This at least adds the element of doubt about Limbaugh's comments, but CNS again fails to note that nearly two minutes elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment -- made in response to a caller talking about those opposing the Iraq war who "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media" -- and his first mention of MacBeth. In fact, Limbaugh never explicitly linked his "phony soldiers" comment to MacBeth at the time he said it, doing so only after the fact. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:28 AM EDT
New Article: The MRC's Smear Factory
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center defended Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh by attacking its liberal counterpart, Media Matters, as a "left-wing smear machine." But the MRC has its own long history of smears. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:31 AM EDT
WND Embraces Judge-Tampering?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 2 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore described a "scandal-plagued Hollywood fundraiser," but Moore is not likely using that term to describe the story's subject, Peter Paul. That's because, as we've detailed, Moore is the hagiographer for multiple convicted felon Paul, to whom Moore applies his usual fawning description of "business mogul."

Moore's article focused on the transcript of a videotape purportedly depicting Hillary Clinton "committing felonies related to" the aforementioned "scandal-plagued Hollywood fundraiser," which Paul threw in 2000 for the benefit of the Clintons, that was "received by hand-delivery" to a "Clinton-appointee" judge that had presided over the 2005 trial of David Rosen, the finance director of Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, on campaign finance violations. The transcript -- delivered by "Douglas Cogan, a regular contributor to who has followed the case closely and helped produce a documentary"; he's better known to Freepers as Doug from Upland -- demands that the judge "hold a hearing to determine if the Department of Justice was in contempt of court when it failed to release the video it held from 2001 to April 11 of this year."

Pardon our possible ignorance of court procedure, but are third parties permitted to "hand-deliver" case materials directly to a judge? Isn't such direct contact with a judge considered illegal tampering? Is there not an established legal procedure for filing such requests in the court system?

Of course, it goes without saying that Moore once again failed to mention Paul's status as a convicted felon awaiting sentencing for masterminding a $25 million stock-manipulation scheme, or that he fled the country to escape prosecution and fought extradition back to the U.S. for two years.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:10 AM EDT
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Cherry-Picking = 'Comprehensive'
Topic: NewsBusters

From an Oct. 2 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd:

It doesn't take you a comprehensive Media Research Center study to know that the Huffington Post is a leftist site. Of course, MRC/NewsBusters' Tim Graham did such a study, but it's common knowledge in the media that HuffPo skews leftward.

In fact, Graham's "study" wasn't "comprehensive" at all but, rather, a cherry-picking of a mere 19 blog posts Graham deemed offensive out of the tens of thousands to be found at HuffPo.

The fact that they think cherry-picking is the same thing as doing a "comprehensive" study explains all you need to know about the MRC.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:02 PM EDT
NewsMax Deletes Reason for Horowitz Being Named 'Worst Person'
Topic: Newsmax

In an Oct. 1 FrontPageMag commentary, David Horowitz claimed that the reason Keith Olbermann named him "Worst Person in the World" on Sept. 28 was that he "organize[d] a nation-wide campus effort called 'Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,' which will be held on over 100 campuses on October 22-26." Horowitz downplayed the real reason for making Olbermann's list: He had tried to pass off a still from a Dutch film as factual documentation of "a woman being buried up to her neck in preparation for an Islamic stoning in Iran." (Horowitz called it a "misunderstanding.")

In NewsMax's version of Horowitz's commentary, however, the reference to his misrepresentation of the photo was deleted entirely, transforming Horowitz's downplaying of the main reason Olbermann put him on the "Worst Person" list into a false assertion that the only reason Olbermann did so was to attack "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" itself.

Both versions include Olbermann's statement, "Keep plugging away, Mr. Horowitz. Let’s go on spending billions to stoke up religious hatred and send our kids to die on the battlefield." But Horowitz deleted the rest of Olbermann's statement: " ... so we can prevent Dutch actresses from having to do scenes in which their characters are buried alive, in a movie."

Horowitz's column was already a misreprentation of the facts, but NewsMax managed to make it worse.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:18 PM EDT
CNS Joins in Pushing Limbaugh's Spin
Topic: hops on the MRC bandwagon of defending Rush Limbaugh. The lead of an Oct. 2 CNS article by Nathan Burchfiel and Fred Lucas states:

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is under fire from liberal media critics and some Democrats in Congress for using the term "phony soldiers" to describe Jesse Macbeth, who was sentenced to five months in prison for falsifying his military records. 

It's presented as if there is no question whatsoever about whom Limbaugh was referring with the term "phony soldiers" -- which there is. While Burchfiel and Lucas note that "Media Matters claims that Limbaugh used the 'phony soldiers' term to describe all soldiers who have spoken out against the war," they never explain the nature of the controversy. Rather, they go on to note: "Limbaugh has explained on his talk-radio show that the "phony soldiers" comment was taken out of context and that he was referring specifically to Macbeth and others like him."

In fact, nearly two minutes elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment -- made in response to a caller talking about those opposing the Iraq war who "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media" -- and his first mention of MacBeth. In fact, Limbaugh never explicitly linked his "phony soldiers" comment to MacBeth at the time he said it, doing so only after the fact, while defending himself against the outcry caused by his statement.

In other words, it's unclear at best who exactly Limbaugh was "phony soldiers" at the time he said it, and any declaration that the only possible interpretation of the remark is that it referred to soldiers who told fake stories -- as Lucas and Burchfiel have done here -- is just after-the-fact spin.

Another Oct. 2 CNS article, by Susan Jones, comes closer to the truth, stating: "Limbaugh has devoted considerable air time to explaining that his 'phony soldiers' comment was not intende[d] to impugn troops who oppose the war, as Democrats say it was. Limbaugh says he was referring to a specific 'phony soldier' who was sentenced to five months in prison for falsifying his military records." By noting what Limbaugh said he "intende[d]" to say, Jones acknowledges there is a question of interpretation, which Burchfiel and Lucas do not.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:39 AM EDT
NewsMax Parrots Rush's Spin
Topic: Newsmax

NewsMax joins the ConWeb crowd running to Rush Limbaugh's defense in an Oct. 1 article.

After noting that "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has urged senators to sign a letter calling on Rush Limbaugh’s syndicator to repudiate Rush for calling troops who speak out against the Iraq war 'phony soldiers,'" the article stated that "Rush counterattacked by pointing out that Reid took that comment drastically out of context," adding:

The fact is, Limbaugh pointed out on the air that the “phony soldiers” he referred to were just that – Americans who falsely claim they have been in the Armed Forces and in some cases say they have been to Iraq.

He was specifically referring to Jesse Macbeth, who appeared in a widely seen YouTube video in which he claimed he had been a corporal serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded a Purple Heart. He also described how he and other U.S. soldiers had killed innocent civilians there.

His comments were translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet.

But it was all a lie, Rush said. He had never served in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, he had been discharged from the Army after several weeks of basic training.

“I was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment, Jesse Macbeth,” Rush told his listeners. 

NewsMax did not note that nearly two minutes elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment -- said in response to a caller talking about those opposing the Iraq war who "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media" -- and his first mention of MacBeth. In fact, Limbaugh never explicitly linked his "phony soldiers" comment to MacBeth at the time, doing so only after the fact, while defending himself against the outcry caused by his statement.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 AM EDT
Monday, October 1, 2007
CNS Signs On to Latest Anti-Abortion Tactic

It looks like has signed on to the anti-abortionists' current tactic: playing up isolated cases of problems at abortion clinics to imply that all abortion clinics are unsanitary.

An Oct. 1 article by Kevin Mooney focuses on a New Jersey clinic closed after  state health officials found what Mooney described as "numerous, often morbid, violations."

WorldNetDaily has already reported on this clinic in a Sept. 28 article (and has similarly played up questionable isolated incidents at other abortion clinics). The WND article also pointed out that this is indeed a specific tactic by anti-abortion activists: "[T]he pursuit of legal action against various abortion businesses also is being encouraged by pro-life concerns, because of the potential for damage to the industry."

Indeed, CNS' Mooney takes the regulatory approach; the lead of his article reads, "New Jersey health officials are not inspecting abortion clinics in that state regularly, apparently because they don't have the resources or the manpower." Mooney devotes much less space to state officials responding to the issue than he does to Marie Tasey, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, whom he quoted as saying, "The current elected officials in power all cater to [the abortionists'] agenda" -- a quote that appeared in the original headline for the article (it was quietly changed mid-morning of Oct. 1).

But Mooney, in focusing only on a single abortion clinic, is -- perhaps deliberately -- overlooking the larger issue. He writes:

The number of "ambulatory care" facilities -- which includes abortion clinics -- in New Jersey has grown from 590 to more than 1,000 in the past few years. Yet the health department's staffing has increased from 125 to 150 in the same period.

But Mooney offers no context for the violations he claims regarding the single abortion clinic vs. the total number of "ambulatory care" facilities. How many facilities that don't perform abortions have had problems? How many total abortion clinics are there in New Jersey? Mooney doesn't say. If there are widesprad violations to be found in other non-abortion "ambulatory care" facilities due to a lack of state regulation and enforcement, then singling out only a single abortion clinic is misleading and disingenuous.

The end of the article reads, "Part II of this story will be published in mid-October." Let's hope Mooney takes a more fair, more comprehensive approach to the issue next time.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:36 PM EDT

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