ConWebBlog: The Weblog of ConWebWatch

your New Media watchdog

ConWebWatch: home | archive/search | about | primer | shop

Sunday, October 14, 2007
CNS' Biased Reporting on Gore's Nobel Peace Prize

In yet another sign that's agenda is shifting toward more biased journalism, its coverage of Al Gore receiving the Nobel Peace Prize comprised largely of criticism of the award.

Over the course of three articles published on Oct. 12, CNS made no apparent effort to contact any supporter of Gore, quoting only from news articles for quotes from Gore and the Nobel citation, a "statement congratulating Gore" from the Sierra Club, and a full-page ad in the New York Times encouraging Gore to run for president.

The bulk of the articles, meanwhile, feature comments from no less than eight "critics of Al Gore" and "skeptics of man-made climate change" -- Steven Milloy, Timothy Ball, Patrick Michaels, Myron Ebell, Iain Murray, Amy Ridenour, Mario Lewis, and the MRC's Business & Media Institute. Most of these are described as having "told Cybercast News Service" their comments.

How such slanted covereage serves CNS' self-described mission to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story" was not addressed by CNS.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:07 AM EDT
Saturday, October 13, 2007
WND Channels Stephen Colbert
Topic: WorldNetDaily

This paragraph in an Oct. 12 WorldNetDaily article on David Horowitz's defense of Ann Coulter's remark that Jews need to be converted to Christianity and that Christians are "perfected Jews" stood out to us (since it mentions our employer):

The controversy began when Media Matters, a pro-Democrat lobby headed by David Brock, noted Coulter's appearance on CNBC's "The Big Idea" with host Donny Deutsch.

In other words, the problem is not that Coulter said what she said; the problem is that Media Matters accurately quoted what she said and served them up for wider distribution. Or, as Stephen Colbert put it: "Hatemongers like Media Matters take innocent statements like mine, Rush Limbaugh's, John Gibson's, and Bill O'Reilly's and make them offensive by posting them on the Internet, allowing the general public to hear words that were meant for people who already agree with us. Hey, Media Matters, you want to end offensive speech? Then stop recording it for people who would be offended."

And if Media Matters is a "pro-Democrat lobby," that must mean that the Media Research Center is a "pro-Republican lobby."

Indeed, WND appears to have no problem with what she said. In today's reader poll asking, "What are your thoughts on Ann Coulter's comments about Jews becoming Christians?" two responses lead by a landslide: "Ann had the courage to speak the truth – God bless her!" and "The attacks against her show how hostile American culture has become toward the Christian evangelical outlook."

The poll also serves up another possible response: "Ann underestimated the extreme sensitivity of Jews – she could have explained herself a little better." Yeah, when one's religion has been the target of a couple of millenia of eliminationist rhetoric -- which, in essence, is what Coulter is spouting -- as well as outright genocide, it does make one unreasonably sensitive.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:16 AM EDT
Farah Still Mum About CNP Ties
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 12 WorldNetDaily column by Joseph Farah referenced "James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and representatives of other Christian groups got together in Salt Lake City, pledging not to support a Republican nominee who was not 'pro-life,' " to which Farah added parenthetically: "another huge national story broken first, by the way, right here in WND."

As we pointed out upon the appearance of the original article, the reason this story was "broken first" at WND is because Farah attended the Council for National Policy meeting at which this was discussed -- a meeting which other media were barred by CNP officials from covering and the public was barred from attending. It's not exactly a scoop if nobody else is permitted to cover it.

Farah's coziness with the CNP almost certainly means that the CNP told Farah to some extent what he could write -- a major violation of journalistic ethics, as his Farah's refusal to disclose to his readers that he did, in fact, attend the CNP meeting in the first place. Instead of bragging about "another huge national story broken first," Farah needs to explain to his readers why he belongs to such a secretive group and how he has ingratiated himself to the extent that he coordinates these so-called "scoops" with the group's leadership.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:35 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, October 13, 2007 12:36 AM EDT
Friday, October 12, 2007
WND Joins Parade of Inconvenient Misreporting
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joining Noel Sheppard and in failing to fully report a British court's ruling on the Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" is WorldNetDaily, which claimed in an Oct. 12 article that "a British High Court ruling that found 11 serious inaccuracies in the documentary." In fact, as even Sheppard was forced to admit, the court found nine inaccuracies.

WND fails to report the complete ruling, which stated that that "four main scientific hypotheses" put forward in "An Inconvenient Truth" are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC."

Posted by Terry K. at 2:30 PM EDT
CNS: Deutsch Faking His Offense at Coulter Remarks

An Oct. 12 article by Susan Jones rather unsubtly suggests that CNBC's Donny Deutsch is faking his offense at Ann Coulter's remark that "We just want the Jews to be perfected."

Jones wrote that "Coulter later told Deutsch, who claimed to be personally offended, that she did not mean to offend him." Later, Jones added: "NBC's Today show interviewed CNBC's Deutsch in person on Friday morning, stoking his professed outrage to keep the controversy going."

Nowhere does Jones note that there is, in fact, a legitimate reason for Deutsch to have been offended by Coulter's remark: As he told Coulter, Deutsch is Jewish. And nowhere does Jones note that Coulter herself has a financial interest to create and "keep the controversy going": she has a new book out.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:44 PM EDT
CNS Inconveniently Misreports British Court Ruling on Gore Movie

An Oct. 12 article by Randy Hall featuring attacks on Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize by his "critics" incompletely reported on a British court ruling. Hall writes:

[Steve] Milloy [publisher of] pointed to a ruling last week in a British court that "An Inconvenient Truth" contains at least nine material falsehoods and can be shown to students only if it is identified as containing "partisan political views" that promote only one side of the global warming argument.

"It is plainly, as witnessed by the fact that it received an Oscar this year for best documentary film, a powerful, dramatically presented and highly professionally produced film," Judge Michael Burton said in his ruling.

However, "it is now common ground that it is not simply a science film - although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion - but that it is a political film," the judge added.

But Hall didn't report the full ruling from that case -- that the judge also ruled that "four main scientific hypotheses" put forward in "An Inconvenient Truth" are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC." As we noted, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard similarly misreported the ruling. (We also noted that one of the purported "material falsehoods" is a false conflation of two different calculations.)

Hall also wrote: "Then on Thursday, the BBC aired a report claiming that Gore knew his 'alarmist' movie presented 'false facts,' because he feared any uncertainty in his film would only fuel opponents of global warming regulation." In fact, the video report Hall cites -- which is about the above court ruling -- makes that assertion without any supporting evidence, something Hall presumably would not let stand had such a statement been made about a pet conservative cause.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:31 AM EDT
Sheppard Peddles More Misleading Gore Claims
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard just can't stop peddling misleading claims about Al Gore.

In an Oct. 9 NewsBusters post, Sheppard claimed that "a British court has determined that Al Gore's schlockumentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' contains at least eleven material falsehoods." Sheppard, as he frequently does, credits Marc Morano for this information. But at least one of those purported "material falsehoods" is misleading.

Sheppard regurgitated: "The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration." In fact, Sheppard is trying to conflate two different calculations: Gore predicted a 20-foot (7m) rise in sea levels if the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets were to melt completely or collapse at an indefinite point in the future. The 40 cm (23 inches) figure comes from a February 2007 United Nations IPCC report, which projected a maximum 23-inch sea-level rise before 2100 as a result of rising temperatures.

But two days later, Sheppard posted a "correction": apparently, the judge "listed only nine key scientific errors" in the movie. Sheppard doesn't explain who is to blame for the error -- the right-wing think tanks for whom Sheppard serves as a stenographer or Sheppard himself pulling false claims out of a certain bodily orifice. Sheppard tried to cover up his faulty reporting by hurling insults, calling the movie "this piece of detritus that should never have been allowed by the Motion Picture Association of America or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be marketed as a documentary."

Funny thing, though: Sheppard doesn't report what else the judge ruled about "An Inconvenient Truth." As reported by the London Times (via Fox News, so it must be true):

Despite finding nine significant errors the judge said many of the claims made by the film were fully backed up by the weight of science. He identified “four main scientific hypotheses, each of which is very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC.”

In particular, he agreed with the main thrust of Gore’s arguments: “That climate change is mainly attributable to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (‘greenhouse gases’).”

The other three main points accepted by the judge were that global temperatures are rising and are likely to continue to rise, that climate change will cause serious damage if left unchecked, and that it is entirely possible for governments and individuals to reduce its impacts.

Oops! And especially oopsie after Sheppard lectures the press to tell the full story lest they are "abdicting their solemn responsibility to the public in order to advance an agenda." For Sheppard, though, telling his readers the full truth about this case was too, um, inconvenient.

Sheppard keeps up his fictitious slant in an Oct. 11 post on a conservative group asking that the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences revoke the Oscars "An Inconvenient Truth" won, he noted that "only Investor's Business Daily and the Washington Times reported the errors in Gore's film to American print readers." But Sheppard again failed to report to his readers that the film's four main hypotheses are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC.”

Color us unsurprised. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:36 AM EDT
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Suddenly, NewsBusters Loves Tabloid Journalism
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters used to hate tabloid journalism:

  • "Tim Graham pointed out to me that CNN had a real attachment to the word ‘lurid’ yesterday [regarding Mark Foley's emails]. As disturbing as this story is, do we need to use tabloid adjectives? If they are going to treat the story like that, why not follow it with pieces on the latest Hollywood scandal or alien abduction? They would do their counterparts at the National Enquirer proud." -- Michelle Humphrey, Oct. 4, 2006
  • "ABC pounded the word "tabloid" in all of their coverage [of Dick Morris' relationship with a prostitute in 1996]. ... But now ABC is the 'tabloid' outlet on the ['D.C. Madam'] Call Girl beat." -- Tim Graham, April 30
  • "Will ABC News admit it was not only misinformed on an easily checked issue, but acted with tabloid journalism to boot?" -- Warner Todd Huston, April 21

But now that a tabloid is reporting something NewsBusters wants to hear, they want more. An Oct. 10 post by Jason Aslinger happily reports that "Ann Coulter did her best to drop a bomb on the October 10 episode of 'Tucker' " by repeating a National Enquirer claim that "John Edwards had an 18-month affair while on the campaign trail." While Aslinger does note that "this allegation must be met with a healthy degree of skepticism," he nevertheless demands that the media cover it anyway:

So now we have a tabloid allegation of marital infidelity by a presidential candidate. And the allegation has been repeated by Ann Coulter on MSNBC - so it's not as if it can be completely ignored at this point.


It is not unprecedented for the press to cover a sex scandal involving a Democratic candidate for presdient. Going way back in time, Senator Gary Hart ruined his presidential chances with an extramarital affair, which received plenty of press coverage at the time.

In this case, though, the question has to be asked: will the mainstream media pursue this allegation at all? If the media is to be consistent in its energized pursuit of sex scandals involving politicians, then it will be beating down doors to either confirm of refute this allegation. But will they? The first thought is that the media would be inclined to ignore the allegation, but the potential boost to the Clinton campaign might give the mainstream media a reason for following this storyline. Time will tell.

In other words, NewsBusters was against tabloid journalism before it was for it.

The more interesting question, though, is this: Will the rest of the ConWeb -- which has either embraced or denounced the tabloids as it suited their agenda -- pick up on the claim? NewsMax in particular has had a flip-flopping relationship with tabloids.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:37 PM EDT
Jeffrey Misleads on Waterboarding

The headline of an Oct. 10 column by Terry Jeffrey asks, "Is Waterboarding Ever Right?" then scares and misleads to suggest it is.

Jeffrey starts by serving up two hypotheticals to compare. The first is of a soldier who shoots a suicide bomber; the second, which suggests Jeffrey has watched way too much "24" and has worn out his copy of "Black Sunday," offers up that "al-Qaida cell has hidden a bomb inside the stadium where tens of thousands will gather that day for the Super Bowl," learned when "A caller in Pakistan dials a number in the United States. A U.S. spy satellite intercepts the call; an NSA computer records it," though "the computer has no warrant and no probable cause to believe this call will produce evidence of a crime." Jeffrey then tells of "Madame President" receiving purported counsel on the situation from "Attorney General Charles Schumer," who says, "They intercepted this guy's call without a warrant," and "National Security Advisor Sandy Berger," who "nods knowingly."

But Jeffrey doesn't mention that the FISA law under which such calls would be monitored allows the government to receive warrants retroactively.

Jeffrey then writes:

So much for hypotheticals.

Water-boarding is an interrogation technique in which a piece of plastic is placed over a subject's face and water is poured on it. The subject feels as if he is drowning, although he is not. According to a report for ABC News by Brian Ross, Richard Esposito and Martha Raddatz: "Its most effective use, say current and former CIA officials, was in breaking Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as KSM, who subsequently confessed to a number of ongoing plots against the United States."

But  by focusing only on a single news report on Mohammed that said what Jeffrey wanted to hear, he conveniently ignores questions about the effectiveness of coercive interrogation techniques -- including waterboarding -- used on Mohammed and others. Media Matters noted that an Aug. 13 August New Yorker article on the CIA's interrogation program reported that "even supporters" of the CIA's interrogation and detention program "acknowledge that much of the information that coercion produces is unreliable" and that "[w]hen pressed, one former top agency official estimated that 'ninety per cent of the information was unreliable.' " During Mohammed's interrogation, the article adds, he "claimed responsibility for so many crimes that his testimony became to seem [sic] inherently dubious":

In addition to confessing to the [Daniel] Pearl murder, he said that he had hatched plans to assassinate President Clinton, President Carter, and Pope John Paul II. Bruce Riedel, who was a C.I.A. analyst for twenty-nine years, and who now works at the Brookings Institution, said, "It's difficult to give credence to any particular area of this large a charge sheet that he confessed to, considering the situation he found himself in. K.S.M. has no prospect of ever seeing freedom again, so his only gratification in life is to portray himself as the James Bond of jihadism."

Jeffrey concludes by innocuously describing the waterboarding of Mohammed as "pouring water on Mohammed's head."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:33 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2007 1:43 PM EDT
New Article: Schmoozing With a Terrorist Whitewasher
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein turns his chatting-up-Muslim-militants gimmick into a book. But there are some terrorists he's not terribly eager to write about. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:26 AM EDT
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
NewsBusters Defends Bloggers Who Attacked SCHIP Family
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters has responded to its misleading reporting on the Graeme Frost family and its SCHIP coverage -- not by telling the truth, but complaining that conservative bloggers are being "smear[ed]" for peddling misleading information -- er, offering "scrutiny" of the Frost family.

In an Oct. 10 post, Ken Shepherd complained that after the bloggers attacked the Baltimore Sun for running "a gauzy profile on Graeme's mom and dad and their push for the Democratic SCHIP expansion," the Sun "is hitting back by attacking conservatives bloggers as heartless and obsessive." Well, yeah, when you're skulking around someone's house to determine if it looks poor enough to qualify for SCHIP, then yeah, that's a good definition of obsessive.

Shepherd glosses over the fact that those conservative bloggers -- including NewsBusters itself -- have peddled misleading and inaccurate claims about the Frosts:

USA Today reported in its October 10 paper that Graeme is a scholarship student and his sister Gemma's tuition at the Park School iscovered by a state education program. Of course, these are two facts might have been noted in initial coverage by the Sun had it been more diligent and skeptical and less interested in promoting liberal Democratic talking points.

But shouldn't NewsBusters' John Stephenson also have noted that as well when he regurgitated a psedonymous Free Republic blogger's claims that the children "attend the very exclusive Park School, which has a tuition of $20,000 a year, per child." Same with the claim that "they live in a 3,000+ square foot home in a neighborhood with smaller homes that are selling for at least $400,000" without also noting that the family bought the house 16 years ago for $55,000.

Perhaps that would have happened if NewsBusters was more diligent and skeptical and less interested in promoting conservative Republican talking points.

UPDATE: An Oct. 10 NewsBusters post and TimesWatch item by Clay Waters takes a similar tack, bashing the New York Times of taking a "hostile tone" for noting that the Frosts "have been attacked by conservative bloggers." But like Shepherd, Waters doesn't acknowledge that his conservative buddies have forwarded misleading information.

UPDATE 2: Waters, in the TimesWatch version, also notes that "Dan Riehl has some questions the Times didn't answer." But he didn't note that Riehl -- best known around these parts for peddling false claims about S.R. Sidarth at NewsBusters -- also smeared the Frosts, calling them "a couple of mostly spoiled brats who became parents and never felt compelled to take responsibility for themselves." Does this mean that Waters, by endorsing Riehl's reporting, also endorses Riehl's smear of the Frosts?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:17 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 6:14 PM EDT
Bozell Lies About the Competition
Topic: Media Research Center

Brent Bozell, in his Oct. 9 column, takes another swipe at the competition, Media Matters (my employer), falsely claiming that it's "George Soros-funded." It's not. Of course, Bozell doesn't have much to say about who pays his salary. (Bonus: Learn how much Bozell and Co. make!)

Bozell attempts to pile on by decrying "the far left at its repugnant worst, perfectly content to destroy a man's reputation through dishonest attacks if it will further its agenda. Josef Stalin would be proud of this movement." No mention, of course, of the MRC's own attempts to destroy reputations through dishonest attacks in order to further its agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:08 PM EDT
CNS Overlooks Full Story of Thompson, Finance Probe

An Oct. 10 article by Fred Lucas quotes conservatives criticizing Fred Thompson for "how the former Tennessee senator handled the 1990s Senate probe into Clinton campaign fundraising corruption." The telling quote comes from Human Events' John Gizzi, who said Thompson "was so passionate about ethics laws that he turned the investigation into a bipartisan investigation for ethics reforms, and in the end had no case."

What does that mean? Lucas doesn't say. But as Media Matters details, Thompson shut down the investigation rather than examine campaign finance violations by Republicans. Not that he didn't try, as Gizzi hints at; The Boston Glob reported in 1997 that "Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, have criticized Thompson for allowing Democrats to spend a week earlier this year examining the dealings of former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour." But ultimately, Thompson refused to let Democrats hold a hearing on Republican fundraising abuses and instead shut down the probe entirely.

So what Gizzi is trying to say is that he's mad at Thompson for not conducting a partisan witch hunt to pile up more dirt on Clinton. Lucas should have explained that better to his readers.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:15 AM EDT
Will NewsBusters Tell Truth About SCHIP Kid's Family?
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 8 NewsBusters post, John Stephenson asserted that the media weren't telling the truth about Graeme Frost, the 12-year-old who delivered a Democratic radio address promotting the SCHIP children's health program, which President Bush recently vetoed. Stephenson claimed the media "swallowed the story whole" about the Frost family -- that the Baltimore family is raising four children on an income of $45,000 a year and relies on SCHIP -- and that news stories "were missing greatly in one major thing, facts."

As evidence, Stephenson cited a Free Republic poster who claimed:

First, Mr. Halsey Frost, Graeme’s father, owns his own woodworking design studio, Frostworks, so his claim that he can’t get health insurance through work is shockingly deceptive. He chooses not to get health care for his family. Second, Graeme and his sister Gemma attend the very exclusive Park School, which has a tuition of $20,000 a year, per child. Third, they live in a 3,000+ square foot home in a neighborhood with smaller homes that are selling for at least $400,000.  

But the Freeper turns out to be fact-challeged as well. Think Progress reports:

1) Graeme has a scholarship to a private school. The school costs $15K a year, but the family only pays $500 a year.

2) His sister Gemma attends another private school to help her with the brain injuries that occurred due to her accident. The school costs $23,000 a year, but the state pays the entire cost.

3) They bought their “lavish house” sixteen years ago for $55,000 at a time when the neighborhood was less than safe.

4) Last year, the Frosts made $45,000 combined. Over the past few years they have made no more than $50,000 combined.

5) The state of Maryland has found them eligible to participate in the CHIP program.

Will Stephenson correct his post and tell the truth about the Frost family? We'll be watching...

Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 AM EDT
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Shepherd Repats Claim Matthews Is 'Brazen Cheerleader' for Hillary
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Oct. 8 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd approvingly repeats Human Events' Jed Babbin's assertion that Chris Matthews "is an over-the-top liberal, a brazen cheerleader for [Hillary] Clinton."

That, of course, is why Matthews has likened Hillary to Madame Defarge, claimed she looked at former Vice President Al Gore with "dead people's eyes," laughed at the suggestion that Clinton would poison Sen. Barack Obama, and said of her, "She has to smile when she puts the knife in."

Also, Shepherd again referred readers to "NewsBusters' comprehensive coverage of Chris Matthews" even though, as we've detailed, it is filled with misleading, out-of-context claims.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:03 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2007 5:03 PM EDT

Newer | Latest | Older

Bookmark and Share

Get the WorldNetDaily Lies sticker!

Find more neat stuff at the ConWebWatch store!

Buy through this Amazon link and support ConWebWatch!

Support This Site

« October 2007 »
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31

Bloggers' Rights at EFF
Support Bloggers' Rights!

News Media Blog Network

Add to Google