"Major oil spills have declined dramatically and rarely occur in U.S navigable waters. When was the last time anyone heard of a major U.S. oil spill? Also I don't know where he gets the idea that people associate oil and oceans with spills. To me it seems far more likely that ocean drilling would be associated with these words."
-- Don Irvine, Nov. 8 Accuracy in Media column about questions raised on a $5 million donation to the Smithsonian by the American Petroleum Institute for a project on the world's oceans.
"Heavy-duty bunker fuel oil has washed up on beaches throughout the San Francisco and Marin coastlines all day, leaving purplish sheens on the water, ugly black blobs in the sand, and hundreds of injured or dead birds. Some 9,500 gallons of oil have been contained since a container ship rammed the Bay Bridge and spilled 58,000 gallons of its fuel Wednesday morning."
Bozell's Hillary Blackwash Topic: Media Research Center
How credible can a book be when it can't even agree on its title?
That's the dilemma we face with the new Hillary Clinton-bashing book by Brent Bozell and Tim Graham. The MRC web page promoting the book proclaims it to be "Whitewash: What the Media Won't Tell You About Hillary Clinton, but Conservatives Will," but the book jacket illustrating the page (reproduced at left) reads, "Whitewash: How the Mainstream Media are Paving Hillary Clinton's Path to the Presidency."
The former title, if not official, seems to be the more accurate one according to the promo copy: "To expose the truth about Hillary that the supposedly objective media have buried, Bozell and Graham have interviewed dozens of leading conservatives who are fighting to let Americans hear the whole story: Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, Mary Matalin, Laura Ingraham, Cal Thomas, and many others."
The problem with such an approach is that very few of these people -- Bozell and Graham included -- are interested in "the truth" about the Clintons; they only want to attack and will forward any claim, regardless of its accuracy, to achieve that goal. Indeed, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Levin, Ingraham and Thomas are all on record making false or misleading claims (or just venomous smears) about the Clintons, which doesn't bode well for the veracity of the book. The promo page offers no evidence why, given such unmistakable animus toward the Clintons, the word of these conservatives (the authors included) should be trusted as unassailable fact.
We suspect that one thing incorporated into the book will be a 2006 MRC study by TimesWatch's Clay Waters purporting to claim that the New York Times "has used its seat more as a cheering section for Clinton than as a dispassionate perch for objective observation." But as we documented, the study is full of unsupported claims, opinions stated as facts and examples that provide dubious support at best to his central claim.
In fact, we may be so bold as to say that "opinions stated as facts" will be the defining element of Bozell and Graham's book.
Further, it's also not a good sign when your book's lead piece of evidence is easily debunked. From the promo copy:
In Whitewash, L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, America’s largest and most respected media watchdog organization, expose the unprecedented media favoritism that is the real key to Hillary’s political career. Marshalling stunning evidence compiled exclusively by the Media Research Center, the authors show how the media have relentlessly promoted Hillary from the moment in 1992 when Time magazine introduced her to the country as an "amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes."
Here's what actually appeared in the Jan. 27, 1992, article to which Bozell and Graham are referring:
Friends of Hillary Clinton would have you believe she is an amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa and Oliver Wendell Holmes. She gets up before dawn, even on weekends, and before her first cup of coffee discusses educational reform. She then hops into her fuel-efficient car with her perfectly behaved daughter for a day of good works.
Fortunately, Hillary Clinton, the latest wife to be challenged to fit perfectly into the ill-defined role of political spouse, is more interesting than that.
Time never called her an "amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes," as Bozell and Graham claim; it portrayed Hillary's supporters as making that claim -- and called it overblown. As far as Bozell and Graham are concerned, apparently, it's forbidden for anyone in the media to say anything nice about Hillary. There certainly won't be anything nice about her in their book, given the signs that it's little more than yet another conservative hit job.
UPDATE: The MRC has since swapped out the book cover image for one that has the current subtitle.
Huston Repeats Misleading Claim About Times, Olbermann Topic: NewsBusters
Like fellow NewsBuster Justin McCarthy, Warner Todd Huston misrepresented a claim in a New York Times article about Keith Olbermann's ratings relative to those of Bill O'Reilly to paint it as false when it wasn't. Unlike McCarthy, Huston selectively quoted from the Times article to support his misrepresentation.
In his Nov. 10 NewsBusters post, Huston quotes from the Times article: "Mr. Olbermann has even come tantalizingly close to surpassing the ratings of the host he describes as his nemesis, Bill O’Reilly on Fox News... " But Huston lops off the rest of that sentence: "...at least among viewers ages 25 to 54, which is the demographic cable news advertisers prefer."
Huston does go on to admit that the Times article states that "O'Reilly beats Olbie by '1.5 million viewers over all,'" but he then adds, "and what other REAL measurement is there?" Well, as the article states, if you're buying ads and are not interested in reaching the geratric-leaning audience that O'Reilly draws, the 25-54 demographic is a very real measurement.
CNS Pushes Meme That Democrats Are 'Politically Motivated' Topic: CNSNews.com
A Nov. 9 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones dutifully reported claims from Republican leaders that having numerous congressional votes on measures related to withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq is a "politically movtivated" move on the part of the Democrats who control Congress. Jones gave no apparent opportunity to Democrats to respond to the claims.
As we've detailed, CNS regularly pushes the meme that Democrats are solely motivated by politics while rarely describing Republicans as such.
In a Nov. 10 WorldNetDaily column defending Rudy Giuliani (though it curiously doesn't mention Giuliani's name) as "a mayor who led rather than dithered" after 9/11, Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder wrote:
With the visual acuity of hindsight, the Emergency Response Center could have been constructed differently and in a different location. Different precautions could have been taken to protect first and second responders. But who knew? If we knew when it was going to rain with any degree of certainty, we would never be caught without an umbrella. The city acted on the best available information both before and after the event – and, incidentally, as far as the Emergency Response Center was concerned, various federal agencies were located in the same building and in the vicinity, and they, too, were devastated.
But as author Wayne Barrett points out, there was opposition to putting the New York City Emergency Response Center on the 23rd floor of a building in the World Trade Center coand mplex because the WTC had been the target of a terrorist attack in 1993 was at the top of the the terrorism vulnerability list that his own police department prepared. Further, the head of Giuliani's emergency management office recommended that the center be located in downtown Brooklyn, but Giuliani insisted that it had to be within walking distance of City Hall.
In his Nov. 10 WorldNetDaily column, Ellis Washington declared that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of a state of emergency was "necessary" (though "draconian") because he faced "a crucial Supreme Court decision was to be handed down that could overturn his recent election victory" and a related "tide of anarchy raging throughout Pakistan." Washington endorsed the arrests of "a couple hundred" lawyers "[b]ecause the Supreme Court and their willing minions, the Pakistani bar, has time and time again undermined the rule of law in Pakistan and thus frustrated Musharraf's ability to effectively rule his nation." Washington offers no evidence to support this view. Washington then likened these Pakistani lawyers to the "damn liberal lawyers" in the U.S. who are "directing the war" in Iraq.
In case Washington's views on lawyers wasn't clear enough, he began his column with the Shakespeare quote "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," though he seems to moderate this view by the end and suggests we should "shred the bar cards" of the lawyers instead. Or maybe arrest a couple hundred.
Sheppard Source Fell for Anti-Global Warming Hoax Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 9 NewsBusters post by Amy Ridenour complained that Reuters "tried to make a mountain out of a molehill" by reporting that a number of global warming skeptics fell for a hoax study that purported to claim that "pointing to ocean bacteria as the overwhelming cause of global warming" and, thus, supporting skeptics' claims that global warming is not manmade. Among those who fell for the hoax, Ridenour noted, was "Benny Peiser, who forwards copies of news articles and studies on climate matters to his 'CCNet' e-mail list several times each day. Peiser sent a copy of the hoax study to his list Wednesday without comment and sent out a hoax warning to the list about an hour later."
Turns out that Peiser is a source for a number of claims repeated by NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard (though Sheppard didn't repeat the hoax study). Sheppard cites Peiser as a source here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, among numerous other posts.
Whether or not Ridenour realizes it, what we really got to see here is a glimpse of the skeptics' transmission belt. Lead deniers like Peiser feed any scrap of information, no matter how dubious, to secondary deniers like Sheppard, who is also not interested in entertaining questions about the veracity of these sources, as we've detailed.
Peiser's "claim to fame" in the war on climate change science was a 2005 study that he claimed refuted an earlier study by Dr. Naomi Oreskes. Originally published in the prestigious publication, Science, the Oreskes study looked at 928 research papers on climate change and found that 100% agreed with the scientific consensus. Peiser originally stated in January, 2005 that Oreskes was incorrect and that "in light of the data [Peiser] presented... Science should withdraw Oresekes' study and its results in order to prevent any further damage to the integrity of science." On October 12, 2006, Peiser admitted that only one of the research papers he used in his study refuted the scientific consensus on climate change, and that study was NOT peer-reviewed and was published by American Association of Petroleum Geologists[.] Peiser's incorrect claims were published in the Financial Post section of the National Post, in a May 17, 2005 commentary authored by Peiser himself.
Deniers like Sheppard and Peiser and Marc Morano don't seem to care whether the claims they make are true; all they care about is that they attack a political position they oppose. They pretend they're telling the "truth" about global warming when all they're actually doing is what they accuse their opponents of: playing politics.
UPDATE: EnergySmart (via Orcinus) cites an interview with the anonymous hoaxster, who says:
Its purpose was to expose the credulity and scientific illiteracy of many of the people who call themselves climate sceptics. While dismissive of the work of the great majority of climate scientists, they will believe almost anything if it lends support to their position. Their approach to climate science is the opposite of scepticism.
A Nov. 9 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall claims that "only three State Department employees have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition invaded the country more than four years ago." By Hall fails to mention a certain relevant B-word -- Blackwater.
Blackwater USA serves as the security contractor for State Department employees in Iraq, and has been embroiled in numerous controversies that have resulted in, among other things, the resignation of the State Department’s security chief after a panel found serious lapses in the department’s oversight of such private guards.
None of this is mentioned by Hall, though one would think it would be revelevant to what he wrote about: the security of diplomats in Iraq. But it appears Hall is more concerned with portraying State Department employees complaining about possible forced assignments in Iraq as wusses.
Sheppard Ignores Willey's Lack of Credibility Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 9 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard complains that Kathleen Willey's new book isn't being "welcomed with open arms by evening television magazines like '60 Minutes' and morning shows like 'Today.'" While raising the dark specter of "liberal media bias," Sheppard ignores the more logical explanation: Willey has a history of contradictory claims and, thus, has no credibility as a Clinton accuser.
Not, of course, that forwarding claims by people who lack credibilty has been a problem for Sheppard in the past.
Sheppard also asserts that "only Fox News has even mentioned" Willey's book. Apparently, in Sheppard's handbook of media bias, lengthy appearances ontwo Fox News programs (plus Hannity's radio show) translates to "mention."
'Even the Liberal' (Yet Anti-Union) Denver Post Topic: Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner printed an edited version of our letter regarding its Nov. 7 editorial bashing Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter for signing an executive order permitting state employees to form unions. We noted what the editorial didn't -- that the order is a rather weak one, given that it prohibits state personnel from pressuring employees into joining a union, forbids strikes and binding arbitration, and grants the Colorado legislature the right not to fund provisions in collective bargaining agreements.
But the Examiner edited out one relevant point that we originally wrote. The editorial stated:
Now, even the liberal Denver Post is calling Ritter a modern-day “Jimmy Hoffa,” a “toady to labor bosses” and “a bag man for unions and special interests.” And that was just in the introductory paragraphs of a rare front-page editorial by the Post last Sunday.
Doesn't the fact that the Post opposes the order and called Ritter "a modern-day 'Jimmy Hoffa,' a 'toady to labor bosses' and 'a bag man for unions and special interests'" -- in an editorial on the front page of the paper, no less -- mean the opposite, that the Post is not a "liberal" paper? Indeed, Post owner William Dean Singleton is known to bustunions at the papers he owns. "Liberal" newspapers are not exactly known for doing that.
Farah's Double Standard on Violence-Tainted Advertising Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his Nov. 9 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah announces that he has canceled his subscritption to the Washington Post because it published "a six-page advertising supplement by the totalitarian government of China boasting about its 17th National Congress of the Communist Party." Farah added, "I'll bet no one at the Washington Post even gave a second thought to whether the paper should accept advertising money from a totalitarian police state responsible for unspeakable crimes against its own people."
We've previouslynoted CNSNews' double standard on political books: Conservatives are allowed to rebut claims in books by liberals, but liberals generally don't get a chance to rebut claims in books by conservatives.
CNS keeps it up in a Nov. 7 interview by Terry Jeffrey and Michael Chapman of M. Stanton Evans, author of a new book claiming that "Sen. Joe McCarthy was right about the communist threat and that liberals have ignored the evidence and distorted history." Presented in a Q-and-A format, the questions are of the softball variety, and no apparent effort is made to offer up anyone with a contrasting opinion of McCarthy.
NewsBusters Still Shilling for O'Reilly After All Topic: NewsBusters
Despite its recent shocking correction of claims made by Bill O'Reilly, NewsBusters is still content to pretend that some false claims made by O'Reilly are true. A Nov. 7 post by Justin McCarthy claimed that "O’Reilly also dispelled the false 'New York Times' story that 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' (O’Reilly only said 'MSNBC' without mentioning Olbermann by name) is competitive with 'The O’Reilly Factor.' In fact, 'The Factor' dominates the 8:00 PM slot dwarfing 'Countdown.' "
In fact, as Media Matters points out, the Times article is correct. Its claim that "Countdown" "has even come tantalizingly close to surpassing the ratings ... at least among viewers ages 25 to 54, which is the demographic cable news advertisers prefer" is absolutely true, and O'Reilly's claim that "In the past five weeks, 'The Factor' has beaten them by 225 percent in total audience and 100 percent in the key demo" is misleading. The article also noted that "Most of the time, though, Mr. O'Reilly outdraws Mr. Olbermann by about 1.5 million viewers over all at the same hour, according to Nielsen Media Research," something O'Reilly and McCarthy failed to mention.
CNS Plays Up ENDA Attack, Ignores Provision Contradicting It Topic: CNSNews.com
A Nov. 8 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones on the passage in the House of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act reported that "House Republican leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the bill would undermine state and federal marriage laws across the country." But Jones didn't mention that, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, ENDA includes "a reaffirmation that the Defense of Marriage Act banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage remains intact."
Finkelstein Defends His Attack on Obama's Patriotism By Claiming It Wasn't One Topic: NewsBusters
In response to criticism on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" of his Oct. 20 highlighting of a picture of Barack Obama standing without his hand over his heart at a campaign event during what he first claimed was the Pledge of Allegiance (later corrected to the national anthem), Mark Finkelstein wrote a Nov. 7 NewsBusters post defending his original item.
Fineklstein complained that "the MJ panelists and the Obama campaign have seized on the fact that it was the anthem and not the pledge to excuse Obama's failure to put his hand over his heart. That is a distinction without a difference: the tradition is to place the hand over the heart for the anthem as well as for the pledge." Actually, there is a arguable distinction: it's somewhat more accepted (rightly or not) to not put hand over heart for the national anthem, as the crowd at any given sporting event can attest.
Finkelstein then insisted:
I don't question Barack Obama's patriotism, though it is obvious that he's not enthralled with certain traditional expressions of it that many Americans appreciate.
That's a tad disingenous. By making the effort to highlight this photo on a conservative website, Finkelstein absolutely was questioning Obama's patriotism -- as indicated by the number of comments on the post citing the photo as evidence that Obama is unpatriotic. It's also indicated by his statement that "I found it jarring that Obama, asked about it, went out of his way to state 'I won't wear that pin on my chest' because it was 'a substitute for I think true patriotism.'"
The whole point of conservatives like Finkelstein making a big deal out of Obama not wearing a flag pin or not assuming a specific position during the national anthem is, implicitly or otherwise, to question his patriotism. If not, why bring it up in the first place?
UPDATE: Finkelstein's post has apparently morphed into an anonymous email that (falsely) accuses Obama of not having hand over heart during the Pledge of Allegiance and (presumably) questions his patriotism. In debunking it, the Washington Post has found photos of Obama with his hand over his heart -- which seems to contract Finkelstein's suggestion that Obama hasn't been acting in a patriotic enough manner on the campaign trail. Will he let his NewsBusters readers know about this?