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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
NewsBusters Gives Limbaugh A Pass on Factual Errors
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 16 NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy recounted a phoned-in appearance (solo, of course) by Rush Limbaugh on "Fox & Friends." Limbaugh made false claims, but all McCarthy took him at face value, declaring that Limbaugh wanted "to discuss Harry Reid’s and 40 other Senate Democrats’ smear of Limbaugh."

So what did Limbaugh get wrong?

He asserted that criticism of his "phony soldiers" remark was "based on a total lie." That's not at all clear based on the transcript. Limbaugh can assert all he wants what he meant to say, but that doesn't necessarily make it unassailable fact.

He called Media Matters (my employer) a "George Soros/Hillary Clinton organization," adding, "when we say Media Matters, say Hillary Clinton and George Soros." In fact, Media Matters is not funded by Soros. 

Limbaugh also channels Stephen Colbert: After "Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy stated that "nobody really heard what Imus said until Media Matters brought the tape out and started sending it to different journalists," Limbaugh replied, "That is very key. The people that heard Imus say it didn't care. There was no brouhaha for two days, like my comment with Donovan McNabb. I made it on Sunday. It wasn't until Tuesday the world blew up on it, but that was the local Philadelphia media."

Doocy, meanwhile, asserted that "Media Matters only takes shots at guys like you, at Fox News. They never, ever touch anybody on MSNBC. They never mentioned anybody on CNN." 

By not holding conservatives to the same factual standards it holds non-conservatives, NewsBusters makes itself look hypocritical, not to mention silly. 

Posted by Terry K. at 2:05 AM EDT
Klein's PR Work for Right-Wing Rabbis Continues
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 16 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein continues his PR work from the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, once again repeating the group's attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert without noting that the group is right-leaning or has a history of repeatedly attacking Olmert.

Klein also whitewashes the backgrounds of the rabbis he quotes. For instance, he describes Meir Porush only as "a nationalist Knesset Member." In fact, Porush belongs to the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Israel party; Porush once said Ariel Sharon reminded him of Benito Mussolini.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:35 AM EDT
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sheppard Ignores Dubious History Of Another Denier
Topic: NewsBusters

What a surprise -- another supposed global warming "expert" touted by Noel Sheppard, another failure to tell the full story.

In an Oct. 14 NewsBusters post, Sheppard promoted claims by William Gray -- er, Dr. William Gray, a meteorologist who, according to Sheppard, "was thrust into the limelight as one of the leading hurricane forecasters in the world." According to Sheppard, "Dr. Gray spoke to a group of meteorologists and students at the University of North Carolina telling the audience that the theory of manmade climate change is 'ridiculous' and the product of 'people who don't understand how the atmosphere works.'"

What Sheppard doesn't tell you: That list of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works" also includes Gray himself. As Media Matters details, Gray's research -- which has never been published in any peer-reviewed journal -- contains fundamental misconceptions on the physics of climate.

As we've detailed, Sheppard has a history of inconveniently ignoring the dubious track records of his favorite global-warming-denier sources. 

Will Sheppard tell his readers the truth about Gray? See answer to similar question in previous post.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:58 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 8:59 AM EDT
Sheppard Inconveniently Silent About British Lawsuit Backers
Topic: NewsBusters

We've noted how NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard (among others) touted a British court ruling that there were nine (or is it 11?) errors in Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" without noting that the court also ruled that the movie's "four main scientific hypotheses" are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC." Turns out there's something else that Sheppard and Co. aren't telling their readers.

In an Oct. 9 NewsBusters post, Sheppard decribed the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Stewart Dimmock, only as "a British truck driver." From the UK Observer:

The Observer has established that Dimmock's case was supported by a powerful network of business interests with close links to the fuel and mining lobbies. He was also supported by a Conservative councillor in Hampshire, Derek Tipp.

Dimmock credited the little-known New Party with supporting him in the test case but did not elaborate on its involvement. The obscure Scotland-based party calls itself 'centre right' and campaigns for lower taxes and expanding nuclear power.

Records filed at the Electoral Commission show the New Party has received nearly all of its money - almost £1m between 2004 and 2006 - from Cloburn Quarry Limited, based in Lanarkshire.

The company's owner and chairman of the New Party, Robert Durward, is a long-time critic of environmentalists. With Mark Adams, a former private secretary to Tony Blair, he set up the Scientific Alliance, a not-for-profit body comprising scientists and non-scientists, which aims to challenge many of the claims about global warming.


In 2004 the alliance co-authored a report with the George C Marshall Institute, a US body funded by Exxon Mobil, that attacked climate change claims. 'Climate change science has fallen victim to heated political and media rhetoric ... the result is extensive misunderstanding,' the report's authors said. 

Any chance Sheppard will tell his readers the full story behind the "truck driver" and his well-funded, politically motivated lawsuit? Don't count on it.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:31 AM EDT
CNS' Biased Attack on Schwarzenegger

An Oct. 15 article by Susan Jones uncritically repeats conservative attacks on a new laws signed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that were "backed by the homosexual community," treating their laims as fact and not allowing any rebuttal to them.

Jones apparently merely rewrote a press release from the Campaign for Children and Families, which has a history of anti-gay activism. She treated as fact a claim that one bill "would indoctrinate via school textbooks and activities" about homosexuality by not attributing it to CCF.

While Jones writes that "Supporters said the new law is supposed to eliminate "confusion" about the state's responsibility to ensure that all school programs, textbooks, instructional materials and activities are free from unlawful discrimination," she then permits the CCF to frame the argument, describing the signed bills as disparagingly as possible without any response to that characterization by supporters.

Jones does know how to balance her reporting in at least a token fashion: another Oct. 15 article on Schwarzenegger's signing of a gun identification bill did devote a couple of paragraphs to "gun control groups," much of the article is dedicated to what "Second Amendment supporters" have to say -- a biased bit of labeling CNS has a history of doing.

Also, the article is headlined, "Schwarzenegger Sides With Gun-Control Advocates," which accepts without question the pro-gun framing of the bill. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:05 AM EDT
NewsMax Headline Watch
Topic: Newsmax

The headline the Associated Press put on an Oct. 15 article: "Clinton Would Offer Iran Incentives."

The headline NewsMax put on it: "Hillary Goes Soft on Iran." 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:15 AM EDT
Monday, October 15, 2007
AIM's Gore Derangement Syndrome
Topic: Accuracy in Media

The New York Times' Paul Krugman has a column today headlined "Gore Derangement Syndrome." The latest victim of this affliction on the ConWeb side is Accuracy in Media's Roger Aronoff.

Aronoff starts off his Oct. 12 column by claiming that the Nobel Peace Prize is "a joke, something that should be fodder for late-night comedians" because Al Gore won it. He then joins the ConWeb parade of citing a British court ruling that found "11 inaccuracies" -- apparently it's nine now; can't the right-wingers get the statistics right? -- though unlike, say, Noel Sheppard, Aronoff did actually note that the court also found that the film was "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact."

Aronoff also asserted that "Gore's history of lying could also be fair game" should he decide to run for president. As evidence, Aronoff notes that "AIM previously published the '17 Lies of Al Gore.'" Well, one of ConWebWatch's very first acts upon its founding was to debunk a significant portion of that article. In it, Reed Irvine had listed among the "lies":

  • "He uncovered the pollution at Love Canal."
  • "He and Tipper were models for 'Love Story.'"
  • "He took the initiative in creating the Internet."

As we pointed out, he never claimed to "uncover the pollution at Love Canal," only to hold the first congressional hearings on it; he was merely repeating what he thought a reporter had written about "Love Story" (and Gore did indeed serve as a model for one of the characters); and no less than Vinton Cerf, the guy who arguably did create the Internet, said that "I think it is very fair to say that the Internet would not be where it is in the United States without the strong support given to it and related research areas by the vice president in his current role and in his earlier role as senator."

Aronoff then tries to downplay AIM's error-filled history on this, claiming that a Vanity Fair article noting the inaccuracy of the attacks against Gore boiled down to "nitpicking the media about misquoting Gore on creating or inventing the Internet." But nowhere does Aronoff mention that AIM called Gore's proclaimed involvement in the Internet a lie -- a claim that itself is a lie.

That's a strange stance for someone working for an organization called Accuracy in Media to take.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2007 10:41 AM EDT
Vox Day: Jews 'Have Worn Out Their Welcome'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his Oct. 15 WorldNetDaily column defending Ann Coutler's remarks that Jews should become Christian, Vox Day gets disturbingly anti-Jewish.

Day writes that the apology sought from Coulter by "left-wing Jewish interest groups" "would appear to be an extraordinarily silly demand, except for the fact that Vanity Fair has recently announced that a remarkable 51 percent of the Vanity Fair 100 Power List are Jewish in a country in which Jews make up approximately two percent of the population. Jews also make up seven percent of the current House of Representatives, 13 percent of the Senate, and, according to John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of 'The Israel Lobby,' roughly 100 percent of George W. Bush's foreign policy advisers." Day adds:

America is still quite friendly towards Jews, but the incessant attacks on Christianity by the likes of [Donny] Deutsch, [National Jewish Democratic Council executive director Ira] Forman and [Anti-Defamation League head] Abe Foxman have grown increasingly tiresome. Given this irritating behavior, and the historical fact that Jews have worn out their welcome in literally dozens of countries over the centuries, it is the height of foolishness for a small number of misguided individuals to demand that 80 percent of the American population remain silent about the tenets of its religious faith. 

Day's column is a bit muddled. He appears to support Israel, but dislikes the Israel lobby: "As for Israel's survival, not only are the Israeli Defense Forces perfectly capable of defending the nation against a fourth-rate military power like Iran, but it has the Lord God of Israel on its side. Israel simply doesn't need the U.S. military to fight its battles for it." But Day's writing that "Jews have worn out their welcome in literally dozens of countries over the centuries" seems to condone at some level actions taken against Jews. Is that what he really wants to say?

Then again, this is a guy who served up the Holocaust as a positive precedent for dealing with illegal immigrants. 

UPDATE: Vox says the "left-wing Jewish interest groups" aren't demanding an apology from Coulter; the spokesman he cited is demanding that TV shows "stop inviting Ann Coulter to comment on politics." Duly noted; a call for an apology would be futile anyway, since Coulter apologizes for nothing she says and has willing defenders for it all. Vox also goes on to explain his stance on things Jewish ("generally pro-Jew and pro-Israel," not so much the "Israel lobby"), which still doesn't quite explain why he decided to assert that "Jews have worn out their welcome in literally dozens of countries over the centuries."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:33 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 1:15 AM EDT
CNS' Misleading Questions to Congress

We've noted that has taken to Capitol Hill to ambush congressman with questions (starting out by hitting them up on the underground subway system that links the Capitol to congressional office buildings). CNS has been keeping it up, and the questions have become more slanted and less reflective of reality.

An Oct. 11 article by Monisha Bansal on a congressional battle over whether to grant retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who cooperated with the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program reported: "Cybercast News Service hit Capitol Hill Wednesday to ask members of Congress if they would support giving the companies immunity, with the following question: 'Should the government ever prosecute communications companies for helping the government intercept international communications with suspected al Qaeda links in the years after 9/11?'" 

The wording of the question -- which fails to mention the words "retroactive" and "illegal" -- ignores the fact that the telecom companies wouldn't need immunity if the behavior in question wasn't illegal. It also ignores the flip side of that: allegations that telecom companies such as Qwest were retaliated against by the federal government because they refused to cooperate.

Similarly, an Oct. 3 article by Monisha Bansal and Nathan Burchfiel on the amending of a defense authorization bill to extend hate crimes legislation to cover sexual orientation and gender identity noted, "Some observers think the hate crimes legislation goes beyond criminalizing actions and actually criminalizes points of view." Who are those "some people"? Bansal and Burchfiel don't tell us. Then they forwarded their question of the day: "On Tuesday, Cybercast News Service hit Capitol Hill to ask members of Congress if the government should criminalize points of view and which views should be criminalized."

Nowhere did Bansal and Burchfiel note -- as the Democratic members of Congress the questioned pointed out -- that the amendment has an religious exemption.

CNS' goal with these ambush interviews, as we noted, appears to be to catch liberal politicians making an embarassing off-message statement. Otherwise, the questions would be more factual and balanced.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 AM EDT
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Michelle Malkin Is 'Center-Right'?
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 13 NewsBusters post by Tom Blumer criticized the Wall Street Journal for its "antagonism" toward "center-right blogs" in an editorial pointing out that "conservative bloggers" had "claimed the Frost kids shouldn't have been on Schip in the first place. As it turns out, they belonged to just the sort of family that a modest Schip is supposed to help."

Now, the leading attack dogs against the Frost family have been Michelle Malkin (last seen skulking around the Frosts' Baltimore to see if it was too ritzy for SCHIP) and Dan Riehl (last seen smearing the Frosts as "a couple of mostly spoiled brats who became parents and never felt compelled to take responsibility for themselves"). On what planet are these folks "center-right"? Blumer's, apparently.

Refusing to concede that his right-wing compatriots went too far and peddled false claims in attacking the Frosts, Blumer himself contributes to the smear by repeating unverified claims about the Frosts' vehicles:

The properties the Frosts have acknowledged they own are currently worth at least $400,000. The three vehicles identified by Malkin are a Volvo SUV, a GMC Suburban, and a Ford F250 pickup truck. If all were new at the time of purchase, the Frosts would likely have had to pay at least $100,000 for all three. 

Of course, he has no way of knowing if the vehicles were bought used, so he maliciously presumes they were all bought new. So what should the Frosts be permitted to drive instead? How much must they be limited to spending on transportation? Blumer does not offer an answer.

Blumer overlooks one important point, as Greg Sargent notes: "When even the chronically dishonest WSJ editorial page denounces you for dishonesty on an issue it more or less agrees with you about, you're pretty far around the bend."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:42 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, October 14, 2007 11:43 PM EDT
Sheppard Inconveniently Misleads Miller
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard carried his misinformation campaign against Al Gore to Dennis Miller's radio show, repeating the claim that a British court found "nine material scientific falsehoods" in the Al Gore film "An Inconvenient Truth" without mentioning that the court also found that “four main scientific hypotheses" in the film are "very well supported by research published in respected, peer-reviewed journals and accords with the latest conclusions of the IPCC” or that one of the alleged "falsehoods" is a false conflation of two unrelated statistics. Sheppard also claimed without evidence that Gore's only motivation for making the movie was to cash in on Hurricane Katrina -- a longtime Sheppard smear against Gore -- which even Miller was compelled to correct.

From the Oct. 12 edition of Miller's show: 

MILLER: I like what they're doing in the UK. Tell me a little about -- they're running the film "Incovenient Truth" in the UK now, though -- but I love their civility here. They're demanding what?

SHEPPARD: Yeah, basically now what this judge has determined -- and of course, you have to love the delicious hypocrisy of a British judge on Wednesday declaring this film to have nine material scientific falsehoods, and two days later the Nobel committee giving him an award for the film. I mean, you really can't make that up. You couldn't -- there isn't a writer in Hollywood that could write a better script.

MILLER: It is tasty, isn't it?

SHEPPARD: It's delicious. It's absolutely -- I woke up this morning, Dennis, and certainly we expected that he was going to win this, but a part of me when I went to bed last night thought there has to be some sanity in the world, and I wake up this morning and turn on Fox News and there it is, and I thought I was still asleep and having a nightmare. This is shockingly silly.


My contention here -- one of the things that I find remarkable about one of the falsehoods is the connection between Hurricane Katrina and global warming. And it's my belief -- and I've been writing articles about this for quite some time -- that what really got global warming on the alarmists' radar is indeed Hurricane Katrina and this vision of thousands of New Orleanians, you know,  in the water and, you know, at the Superdome and etc., etc., etc. And along comes Al Gore -- and frankly, we have to give him a lot of credit, I think what he did was brilliant. He recognized the way the media reported Hurricane Katrina back in September and October of '05, he recognized the media had effectively blamed this whole natural disaster on a sitting president and his administration, which is extrordinary --

MILLER: Right.

SHEPPARD: -- and he realized, "I can take this hysteria, turn this into a movie, and make millions of dollars." And now, $100 million later, he's right.

MILLER: Now, to be fair to him, I do believe that he had cobbled together a little, like, Stone Age equivalent of this slide show, as he called it, before then. But --

SHEPPARD: Yeah. He was doing this slide presentation for about 20 years, and of course, nobody picked up the fact that for 20 years he's been saying that we've got about 10 years to solve the problem.

MILLER: But he was at least smart enough to realize there was a tsunami coming, and he did catch the way, figuratively speaking.

SHEPPARD: And Dennis, we both have -- I mean, as capitalists, we have to admire --

MILLER: That is inevitable.

SHEPPARD: -- [unintelligible] make money.

MILLER: I thought the silliest of the nine was No. 7, where he said that seawater was Satan's tears. That seemed a little silly to me. A little simplistic, possibly. 

In an Oct. 13 NewsBusters post containing the audio, Sheppard frets that "I've debated whether or not this should be posted" out of concern over "seemingly shameless self-promotion." We have to wonder if perhaps Sheppard's real concern is that we, his biggest fans, would call him out on yet more false and misleading claims.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:00 AM EDT
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

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