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Thursday, November 1, 2007
NewsBusters: Criticism of Fake FEMA News Conference Is 'Arrogant'
Topic: NewsBusters

From an Oct. 31 NewsBusters post by Kyle Drennen:

In his "Final Word" on Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced a fake news conference held by FEMA officials in the wake of the California wildfires. Not content to just say the staged conference was a bad mistake, Schieffer decided to be as arrogant and condescending as possible:

The fake FEMA news conference was merely a "bad mistake"? Drennen then goes for the equivocation card:

Schieffer went on to denounce the "softball questions" asked by FEMA employees who posed as reporters. It is interesting to note that Schieffer did not condemn ABC host George Stephanopoulos in similar fashion when the former Clinton advisor touted an email from the Clinton campaign during a discussion of the September 26 Democratic debate on "Good Morning America." It is also unlikely we will hear a word from Schieffer about MSNBC host and debate moderator, Chris Matthews, writing a campaign speech for Barack Obama one day prior to Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

How are these equivalent situations? Unlike FEMA, Stephanopoulos and Matthews did not stage anything and present it as something it wasn't.

Going on to accuse Schieffer of not giving "any credit to FEMA for the successful response to the wildfires," Drennen concluded:

Well, FEMA did do a good job helping victims during this disaster, but the mainstream media has been determined to only look for what went wrong.

Is Drennen so ideologically wed to the Bush administration that he can't offer an honest criticism of an obviously stupid move and must denigrate those who do criticize it as "arrogant and condescending" people who "only look for what went wrong." Well, it was wrong, dude! Why shouldn't it be criticized? More importantly, why won't Drennen or anyone else at the MRC criticize it as anything harsher than a "mistake"? We suspect if this happened under a Democratic administration, we'd never hear the end of it from Drennen and the boys.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 AM EDT
New Article: WorldNetDaily On Trial
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WND hasn't told its readers the full story of the libel lawsuit filed against it by a Tennessee businessman. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:09 AM EDT
Shocker: Newsmax's Softball Interview With Bill Clinton
Topic: Newsmax

No wonder Christopher Ruddy has been trying to downplay Newsmax's history of animosity toward the Clintons: He wanted to snag an interview with Bill Clinton.

In a move that will surely stun longtime Newsmax readers, Ruddy did, in fact, snag that interview -- and, if an Oct. 31 article is any indication, lobbed softballs at the former president. Ruddy writes:

There is no doubt Bill Clinton has broken the mold of what we expect from a former president.

And there is also no question that in the past Bill Clinton has engendered considerable controversy. But there should be little disagreement today that he is doing exemplary work and is acting as a positive force for the United States.

Ruddy notes that he "interviewed former President Clinton about his post-presidency. In this exclusive Newsmax interview, Clinton discusses his extensive charity efforts, repeats his call for mandatory AIDS testing in some countries, and vows that if Hillary is elected president, he 'will do whatever she asks me to do.' " Some of the less-than-harsh questions Ruddy asked of Clinton:

  • Your book “Giving” is just out and has soared to the top of the best-seller lists. Do you think you have touched a nerve among Americans who want to embrace the concept?
  • Do you feel the heart incident made you focused on your spiritual side? How has your own religious faith played a role in your global work today?
  • The AIDS crisis is a huge problem devastating Africa and other parts of the lesser-developed world. How is the Clinton Foundation making a difference?

Further, the new issue of Newsmax magazine has made Clinton its cover boy in what appears to be a mostly positive article on "the controversial political and cultural powerhouse who is redefining what it means to be an ex-president."

This is a far cry from the late 1990s, which Ruddy and Newsmax were feeding conspiracy theories against Clinton.

Indeed, Ruddy has mellowed considerably about the Clintons (even if Newsmax hasn't). As we've noted, Ruddy was quoted in February as saying, "Clinton wasn't such a bad president. ... In fact, he was a pretty good president is a lot of ways, and Dick [conservative moneybags and Newsmax financial backer Richard Mellon Scaife] feels that way today." In September, Ruddy praised Clinton's book "Giving." And just yesterday, Ruddy wrote of Hillary Clinton: "Today, Hillary does not generate the same animus she did during the 1990s. ... Running one of the leading Web sites for GOP readers in the nation, I know that Hillary does not evoke the anger she once did."

How is the He-Man Clinton-Haters Club -- of which Ruddy was once a prominent member and several Newsmax writers, like John LeBoutillier and Dick Morris, still hold card-carrying memberships -- going to take all this? Not well, we suspect.

UPDATE: The New York Times is also shocked.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:12 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2007 7:05 PM EDT
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Poe Distorts 'Bloggergate,' Ignores Breaches By Conservative Bloggers
Topic: Newsmax

An Oct. 18 NewsMax article by Richard Poe asserted that "left-wing bloggers" are being subsidized "with illegal Democrat campaign contributions, laundered through ostensibly 'non-partisan' non-profit groups." But he distorts reality and ignores similar Republican practices in order to support his so-called "Bloggergate." Poe writes:

The first evidence of Bloggergate emerged in January 2005 when the two most prominent left-wing bloggers on the Internet — Jerome “The Blogfather” Armstrong of MyDD and DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas Zuñiga — both admitted to getting cash from Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

In fact, as Slate points out, Armstrong didn't blog for the six months that he was on Dean's payroll, and that Moulitsas "posted a somewhat grumpy disclosure on his site's front page during the same period." Slate adds: "If the two men were journalists, those disclosures would be woefully insufficient. But Armstrong and Moulitsas aren't journalists. Nor does having a blog make someone a journalist."

Further, Poe fails to mention that conservative bloggers have been "getting cash" from Republican campaigns as well. As we've noted, in 2004, two bloggers in South Dakota were paid a total of $35,000 by the campaign of John Thune, a Republican who was running for Senate. But unlike Armstrong and Moulitsas, neither provided any disclaimer on their blogs during the election that they were on Thune's payroll. Yet somehow, that's not "Bloggergate"-worthy as far as Poe is concerned.

Poe then wrote that "Republican blogger Michael B. Brodkorb of Minnesota, assailed by piranha-like swarms of leftist bloggers, revealed that his tormentors were on the take." But Poe doesn't mention that Brodkorb was "assailed" for a Bloggergate-like offense: while serving as a consultant for Senate candidate Mark Kennedy, Brodkorb used his blog to promote Kennedy's campaign and that of other Republican candidates for whom he consulted (but did not disclose to his readers) despite a previous assertion that he would not do so.

Poe also tries to smear the Center for Independent Media, the funder of the website that exposed Brodkorb's conflicts of interest (and which once shared office space with Media Matters, my employer). Poe described the CIM this way:

Because CIM fellowships expire after three months, CIM "fellows" are always on the hot seat. If CIM is satisfied with the blogger's performance, it will renew his fellowship. Otherwise, it will not. Plainly, CIM bloggers have much to gain if they toe the party line — and much to lose if they fail to satisfy their benefactors.

Poe offers no evidence that the CIM coerces its bloggers into "toeing the party line," as he suggests. (Also note that Poe has described the CIM-funded bloggers as "on the take" while Brodkorb was the victim of "piranha-like swarms" who merely pointed out that he was similarly, if not more egregiously, on the take.)

Left unsaid is how the CIM compares to similar organizations on the right, such as the Young America's Foundation's National Journalism Center and Accuracy in Media's American Journalism Center (link currently busted).

Posted by Terry K. at 2:36 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 3:03 PM EDT
Despite Evidence, NewsBusters Still Insists Matthews Is 'Shill for the Democrats'
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 31 NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy begins: "It is no secret that Chris Matthews is a shill for the Democrats and adamantly opposed to the Iraq War." Well, not quite; as we've documented, Matthews repeatedly bashed President Clinton during the 1990s to the MRC's delight, and the MRC (and McCarthy as well, we presume) has ignored Matthews' more recent praise of President Bush, which counters McCarthy's assertion that Matthews is "a shill for the Democrats."

McCarthy also asserts that Matthews "accused the Bush administration of engaging in 'criminality'" without noting that this is a factually accurate statement, and "inquired if Rudy Giuliani is 'a little bit Fascist'" without noting that Matthews suggested that he endorsed Giuliani's brand of fascism -- an implicit endorsement of Giuliani that also belies McCarthy's "shill for the Democrats" claim.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:12 PM EDT
Ruddy: 'Hillary Does Not Generate the Same Animus She Did During the 1990s'
Topic: Newsmax

In an Oct. 30 NewsMax column, Christopher Ruddy tries to portray himself as the voice of conservative reason. In an attempt to "peel away this onion of misperceptions" on the idea that "Hillary so frightens the GOP base — they will come out in droves for [Rudy Giuliani] on election day," Ruddy writes:

Today, Hillary does not generate the same animus she did during the 1990s. She’s modified her positions and image. Running one of the leading Web sites for GOP readers in the nation, I know that Hillary does not evoke the anger she once did.

Which makes us wonder if Ruddy reads his own website. As we've documented, Newsmax remains a hotbed of Hillary hate, led by columnists Dick Morris, John LeBoutillier and Stephen R. Smith. Indeed, as we've repeatedly pointed out, Morris has continued to write column after column of attacks on Hillary's campaign without disclosing that he is also serving as an activist against her campaign, which discredits him as an impartial analyst of the 2008 election.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:54 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 12:55 AM EDT
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Is Klein Rooting for Olmert's Death?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 29 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein claimed: "Palestinian terrorists today expressed frantic concern for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's health following media reports he would hold a news conference announcing the diagnosis of a medical ailment," prostate cancer. Klein claimed that "WND's Jerusalem bureau received calls from almost a dozen terrorists, including senior leaders, asking whether the online news agency had any information about Olmert's illness and expressing concern for the prime minister," but he offers no evidence to support the claim and quotes only an anonymous "leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades" allegedly expressing concern about Olmert.

If the "terrorists" want Olmert to live -- and given Klein's implication through his schmoozing-with-terrorists gimmick that we should want the opposite of what the terrorists want, as well as Klein's longtime hostility to Olmert to the point of trying to undermine his government during a time of war -- it's only reasonable to assume that Klein wants Olmert to die from his disease.

Will he be honest and forthright about that desire in his WND articles? Time will tell.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:18 PM EDT
Huston Smears McGovern, Doesn't Understand AP
Topic: NewsBusters

It started with John Stephenson's callousness toward illegal immigrants, and Hate Week at NewsBusters rolls on with an Oct. 30 post by Warner Todd Huston needlessly attacking a George McGovern museum merely because the Associated Press had an article about it.

Insisting that "A South Dakota museum devoted to the political career of far-left Democrat George McGovern registered 5,000 fewer visitors last year than a Wisconsin museum devoted to mustard," Huston writes, "why is the AP pushing this thing? Could it be because of their affinity for McGovern's extreme left views? Do they want to urge people to attend to be exposed to McGovern's failed ideas of the past?" concluding, "So, AP, I have to say, don't bother me with the loser from 1972."

What Huston is really saying, of course, is that in his perfect little media world, liberals would be ignored unless they could be disparaged.

Huston also exhibits a fundamental ignorance of how the AP works. AP is a cooperative, which means that a majority of items it distributes are generated by the newspapers, broadcasters and others who are AP subscribers. The McGovern story apparently began life as a Oct. 17 article ($) in the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic newspaper, and the AP merely picked up the article for redistribution on its wires. It can safely be assumed that the AP did not "push" this article any more than the hundreds of others AP distributes on any given day -- unless, of course, Huston is arguing there mere distribution is "pushing," which parallels the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy. In fact, individual news organizations make their own decisions on what specific AP copy to use or not use.

Further, given that this is a two-week-old story by a (presumed) AP affiliate, it's not exactly breaking news. Indeed, the Oct. 28 Chicago Sun-Times version of the AP article to which Huston linked shows that it was placed in the paper's travel section -- in other words, it was not used for political purposes but as a travel idea. And given the shortness of the item (four paragraphs), it was likely used as a filler article (if it indeed appeared in print, which is not clear from the web version of the article). Huston didn't tell his readers any of this.

Remember that reference to a mustard museum earlier? Huston wasn't done working that:

Sorry, AP, but that just isn't very much. I worked at a museum in my youth and 25,000 would have had us in tears.

So, here is a little perspective about the Mustard Museum I mentioned.

The Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin says that they welcomed 30,000 visitors last year. Yes, you read that correctly. A museum that showcases thousands of brands of mustard drew more people than the McGovern Museum.

A condiment is more popular than George McGovern.

Now, can we say that mustard has "a lot of friends around the country and world"?

How, exactly, does Huston's partisan smearing of McGovern fulfill the MRC's "media research" mission? We don't know either.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:56 PM EDT
NewsBusters: No Sympathy Permitted for Illegals
Topic: NewsBusters

From an Oct. 29 NewsBusters post by John Stephenson:

I don't want to sound heartless towards the many victims of the California wildfires,

But you will anyway, right, John?

but this L.A. Times piece is just a sob story shilling for illegal alien sympathy!

Yep. Having sympathy for illegal immigrants is a horrible thing. Next thing you know, people will want to treat them as human beings! That obviously cannot happen, as far as Stephenson is concerned.

Stephenson concludes by lamenting, "The article is one of the most transparent sympathy pieces I've seen in quite a while." Indeed, sympathy does seem to be an alien emotion to Stephenson. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:01 AM EDT
Monday, October 29, 2007
Armitage-O-Philia Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 29 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein complained that during an interview with Valerie Plame, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough "the name of the State Department official who first disclosed her identity was never uttered," whom Finkelstein claimed was Richard Armitage.

As we've repeatedly documented, Armitage was not the one who "first disclosed" Plame's identity. Karl Rove and Scooter Libby also leaked Plame's identity to reporters, and Robert Novak -- to whom Armitage leaked -- confirmed Plame's identity with Rove. Novak was merely the first to report Plame's identity, but that does not mean that Armitage was the first to disclose it.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:21 PM EDT
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We missed Aaron Klein's appearance on Fox News' "Red Eye," but he apparently did a good job of promoting his terrorist-chat schtick. (We suspect Klein was never asked about his own whitewashing of right-wing terrorists.) News Hounds has nominated one of Klein's statements for its "Outrageous Quote of the Week": "...not one US military, member of the military, was killed in Iraq for the first time since 2004 this past week, and almost no one's talking about it." and minutes later "In Iraq there were no casualties in the Al-Anbar Province last week, or in Iraq, US casualties..."

And at last check, Klein was winning.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 PM EDT
Conservative Media Dishonesty: The List
Topic: The ConWeb

An Oct. 8 American Thinker article by Randall Hoven lists 101 instances of "media dishonesty" -- a list almost entirely devoid of conservatives. Hoven writes:

I did receive a few complaints for not having "conservatives" on the list. There turns out to be a good reason for that: there just aren't that many who pass the criteria for clear dishonesty in the public debate. It is probably also related to the fact that so few journalists are conservative. Some people did send me "conservative" candidates for my list, but they told me more about the submitters  than the people on the list. I suspect Media Matters was the ultimate source of most or all of them.

So, to help Mr. Hoven out, here are some examples of conservative media dishonesty that we've documented, using the same criteria Hoven cited on his list:

1. Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily, plagiarism, undisclosed conflict of interest (2005). More than half of a WND article written by founder and editor Farah was copied without attribution from a Reuters article; the other half features a company Farah didn't disclose was a WND advertiser.

2. WorldNetDaily, fell for hoax (2005). WND reported that Terri Schiavo's husband sold the rights to his story to CBS for a TV movie. Turns out WND got its information from an April Fool's post on a blog.

3. WorldNetDaily, fabrication (2004). Claimed that  Teresa Heinz Kerry, donated millions to "radical, anti-American groups" through an organization called the Tides Center. In fact, Heinz's donations were earmarked for specific environmental causes. Called on the falsehood, WND then peddled the logical distortion that "it is accurate to say that donors to Tides are indeed supporting all of its causes" because "donors to the Tides Foundation pay approximately 10 percent above and beyond the amount grant recipients get for administrative fees and overhead to Tides."

4. Aaron Klein, WorldNetDaily, fabrication (2004). Klein falsely suggested that the charity Islamic Relief had ties to terrorists and that the orphans for whom it was raising money didn't exist. WND was forced to retract the article and apologize to the charity.

5. Jack Cashill, WorldNetDaily, fabrication (2002). Wrote a seven-part WND series suggesting that James Kopp was innocent of killing abortion doctor Barnett Slepian and was framed by liberal government officials "determined ... to protect the abortion industry." Six months after the series ran, Kopp confessed to killing Slepian.

6., misrepresentation (2005). An article asserted that when Democratic strategist said at a Democratic gathering that "They want to kill us, particularly in this city, and New York, and some other places," he was referring to Republicans, not -- as is clear from the context of Begala's remark -- Islamic terrorists. When Begala tried to set the record straight, then-CNS editor-in-chief David Thibault essentially called Begala a liar.

7. Dan Riehl, NewsBusters, fabrication (2006). Riehl asserted that S.R. Sidarth, the target of George Allen's infamous "macaca" statement, was "making fun of an Hispanic William & Mary student's death" on a University of Virginia discussion board; in fact, the person posting under Sidarth's name did not "make fun" of the students, merely linking to an article about it and offering no other comment.

8. Media Research Center, misrepresentation (1994). The MRC pasted quotes together -- one ellipsis represented a 28-page span -- from a book by former New York Times editor Howell Raines to falsely portray him as insulting Ronald Reagan's intelligence by the statement "Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it." In fact, Raines was referring to Reagan's fly-fishing skills.

9. Christopher Ruddy, NewsMax, fabrication (2000). Claimed that Bill and Hillary Clinton were selling their Chappaqua, N.Y., house because their neighbors have put the home under 24-hour video surveillance on the off-chance of being able to sell something to supermarket tabloids. His source? Anonymous sources "at some of America's most notorious supermarket tabloids."

10. James Hirsen, NewsMax, fabrication (2005). Claimed that U2 was "[t]eaming up with the legendary rock group U2 for a one-night only appearance." In fact, Santorum's campaign had merely purchased tickets for the concert to resell to donors. NewsMax then corrected the article without alerting readers to the fact that it had been changed or apologizing for its error, then misleadingly claimed that "NewsMax had never claimed that U2 or Bono were holding their concert for Santorum."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 AM EDT
Sunday, October 28, 2007
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

An Oct. 26 appearance by MRC's Business & Media Institute director Dan Gainor on the Fox Business channel (part 1, part 2) to chat up how businesses are aiding victims of the Southern California wildfires shows what we suspected: The same template for MRC appearances on Fox News is being applied to MRC appearances on Fox Business. As happens so often with MRC representatives on Fox News, Gainor appears solo on Fox Business, and neither he nor the BMI are identified as conservative.

Meanwhile, the template continues on Fox News: An Oct. 21 appearance by BMI's Amy Menefee on "Fox & Friends" (part 1, part 2) discussing "the media’s obsession with the 'R' word, Recession," is a solo appearance, and nowhere is mentioned that she or BMI are conservative.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 PM EDT
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Sheffield Thinks All Liberals Are Socialists
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 27 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield asserts that "a recent study of Facebook profiles of BBC employees finds, surprise surprise, that Britain's taxpayer-funded network is utterly dominated by socialists."

Well, no. The Daily Mail article he cites as evidence does not use the word "socialist" -- which describes a specific political view; it uses the word "liberal" instead, as the excerpt of the article Sheffield quoted makes clear. Most of those self-identified "liberals" "either vote Lib- Dem ... or Labour," according to the article. Sheffield offers nothing to back up his suggestion that either Labour or the Liberal Democrat parties in Britain are explicitly socialist parties, or any other explanation of British politics -- or that the Daily Mail is a conservative newspaper that actually supported Hitler and Mussolini through much of the 1930s -- to put these statistics in perspective.

And as we've suggested, Sheffield offers no evidence to support his contention that "liberal" and "socialist" are interchangeable terms.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:32 PM EDT
Sheppard Brownnoses Inhofe
Topic: NewsBusters

An Oct. 26 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard starts this way:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, delivered a startling and historic two hour speech on the Senate floor Friday about "recent developments which are turning 2007 into a ‘tipping point' for climate alarmism." 

Given that the Senate adjourned at 1:47 p.m. ET on Oct. 26 and no global warming-related items were on the agenda that day, Inhofe's speech has all the earmarks of having been made post-adjournment to an empty chamber for the benefit of C-SPAN cameras -- which makes it not terribly "startling" and rather less than "historic."

Sadly, Sheppard can't take his nose out of Inhofe's you-know-what to tell his readers the context of that speech. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:17 AM EDT

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