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Thursday, November 15, 2007
MRC Flip-Flops, Defends McCain
Topic: Media Research Center

How times change. As late as August, the Media Research Center (in the personage of Brent Bozell's Aug. 29 column) was deriding John McCain as a "liberal media darling." Now, the MRC is running to McCain's defense.

A Nov. 14 MRC CyberAlert by Brent Baker attacks CNN's Rick Sanchez for "[t]rying to create a scandal over Republican presidential candidate John McCain's failure to rebuke a woman supporter who called Hillary Clinton a 'bitch,'" complaining that "Sanchez's spin matched that of left-wing bloggers." Baker added that Sanchez "haughtily intoned" his report.

A Nov. 15 NewsBusters post by Baker repeats the attack on Sanchez, happily noting that CNN host and Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz (another person the MRC normally despises) stated that the "little incident was pretty badly hyped by Rick Sanchez."

But if the MRC hates McCain for cozying up to the so-called liberal media, why is it defending him now? Why should it care that McCain is embroiled in a controversy? Perhaps because when the chips are down, it will defend any Republican and attack any non-Republican -- thus making it an unofficial adjunct of the Republican National Committee -- as we noted when the MRC flip-flopped on Chris Matthews.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:45 AM EST
Newsmax Mag's Clinton Article Really Is Positive
Topic: Newsmax

So we picked up a copy of the current issue of Newsmax's magazine, the cover story of which is a profile of Bill Clinton's life after the presidency, to see if is really as positive as Christopher Ruddy's recent atypical fawning over the guy suggests.

The answer is yes. The article (not online) has numerous nice things to say about Clinton, noting that he "has reinvented himself as an extrordinary pitchman for charitable causes globally and "never appears at a loss for energy or vision." It offers friendly views of the Clinton Global Initiative and his friendship with former president George H.W. Bush, played down played the usual conservative attack on Clinton's private life and even touted a quote from a psychotherapist who said that "Bill Clinton is the embodiment of the American Dream" for coming from humble circumstances. Even a sidebar profile of "Bill's Ultra-Rich Buddy," Ron Burkle, is told in a straightforward manner.

The only arguably negative parts are a few paragraphs spent on Clinton's "finger-wagging rage" during an intervew with Fox News' Chris Wallace and an accompanying unverified anecdote by Richard Miniter, a conservative author who is not described as conservative, and a sidebar on the post-presidency activities of other former presidents that bashes Jimmy Carter and fails to mention Watergate in regard to Richard Nixon, noting only that he was "[d]isbarred by the State of New York in 1976."

The article was written by Edward Sigall, who, near as we can tell, appears to be this guy -- a person who, despite a long career at the National Enquirer, describes himself as "[o]ne of America’s most respected editors and writers."

In his column in the magazine (also not online; it's a partly rewritten version of his Sept. 14 online column), Ruddy endeavored to draw a line between his Clinton-hating antics of the past and his fawning behavior of today:

Our regular readers may be suprised this month to see Bill Clinton gracing the cover of our newly redesigned magazine. That's because thorugh the years, Newsmax and I have done our share of Clinton-bashing.

Let me make it clear that the focus of our coverage this month is on his years after leaving the White House and how he has remolded the job of a post-president into a powerful private post.

As we've noted, Newsmax still engages in its fair share of Clinton-bashing.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:52 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2007 10:25 AM EST
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
WND Columnist Wrong About Florida Recount
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From a Nov. 5 WorldNetDaily column by Michael Ackley:

Democrats like Mrs. Clinton also refuse to acknowledge the inconvenient truth that every subsequent recount, by every partisan organization, by every nonpartisan organization, by every news organization, concluded that George W. Bush won Florida.

In fact, in at least four different scenarios, Gore would have won Florida. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:11 PM EST
WND Misleads on Holiday Lights
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Gearing up for yet another misleading "war on Christmas," a Nov. 6 WorldNetDaily article claiming that Fort Collins, Colo., is considering "banning red and green lights at the Christmas holiday because they fall among the items that are too religious for the city to sponsor" is misleadingly written. The article is vaguely written enough to leave the impression that such a ban would apply to all displays in the entire city, including private ones, when in fact it only applies to holiday displays on city property.

Further, WND failed to note that the city's holiday display task force recommended numerous "symbols incorporating light" for display on the grounds of the city's museum, including religious symbols WND ought to approve of such as a creche and a menorah.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:50 PM EST
Bozell Can't Stop Lying About Hillary, Part 2
Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell's Hillary mendacity continues: Media Matters reports that in an appearance on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," Bozell claimed that Hillary Clinton "was behind the whole FBI-gates," an apparent reference to FBI files reportedly obtained by the Clinton White House. Unfortunately for Bozell, independent counsel Robert Ray determined that "there was no substantial and credible evidence that any senior White House official, or First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, was involved in seeking confidential Federal Bureau of Investigation background reports of former White House staff from the administrations of President Bush and President Reagan.''

Posted by Terry K. at 2:38 PM EST
Ponte Attacks Matthews, Smears Clinton
Topic: Newsmax

In his Nov. 13 NewsMax column, Lowell Ponte declares that the "now-menopausal" MSNBC host Chris Matthews is "in love" with Barack Obama, claiming that Matthews' expressed approval of a recent speech Obama gave "reflects the sensibility of aging boomers who came of age in the era of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, honorable poet Eugene McCarthy, the Rev. Martin Luther King, anti-Vietnam War protests, the Summer of Love, hippies, and chemically-altered consciousness." Ponte seems to have somehow overlooked the fact that Matthews has asserted that John McCain "deserves to be president," as well as other expressions of support for Republicans and attacks on Democrats that contradict Ponte's description of Matthews as a "liberal baby boomer."

Ponte then writes:

Former President Bill Clinton now describes Hillary’s political rivals as “boys.”

To Northern ears, Mr. Clinton seems merely to be belittling Hillary’s opponents, suggesting that they are behaving like children by “piling on” her.

But to Southern ears — and Bill Clinton was born in the segregated, Democrat-ruled state of Arkansas, whose first ray of civil rights enlightenment came when Republican President Dwight Eisenhower sent troops to integrate Little Rock schools — Clinton’s use of this code word carries a different meaning.

In the racist Arkansas of Bill Clinton’s youth, African-American men were called “boy” to denigrate them and assert white supremacy.

Because Barack Obama is Hillary Clinton’s main rival, the only candidate with high enough popularity and money to overtake her, Bill Clinton’s use of this racist epithet “boy” falls most heavily on him.

The Clintons poll, test, and focus-group everything. So when Bill Clinton aims a racially-loaded word like “boy” at Barack Obama, this is no accident. It is a calculated attempt to evoke white racist feelings at an almost subliminal, subconscious level as a way to help elect Hillary.

Ponte, offers no evidence whatsoever that Clinton was referring to Obama specifically when calling Hillary's opponents as "boys."

Does Ponte also think that the Southern term "good ol' boy" has some kind of "code word" racist connotation as well? Does this mean that when Ronald Reagan referred to "states' rights" in a speech in Mississippi while running for president in 1980, he was also sending a "code word" to "Southern ears"? Do tell, Mr. Ponte.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:07 PM EST
Bozell Can't Stop Lying About Hillary
Topic: Media Research Center


We've noted that in promoting his new anti-Hillary book, Brent Bozell falsely asserted that Time magazine "introduced her to the country as an 'amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.'"

He's still doing it: In a Nov. 13 National Review article, Bozell and Tim Graham wrote that "Time’s Margaret Carlson describing her as 'an amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.'" We'll let TPM's Greg Sargent do the honors this time:

Carlson was actually mocking Hillary supporters for presenting her in such glowing terms. But Bozell and Graham cheerfully told National Review's readers that Carlson herself had presented her in these terms. Even more amusingly, they held this up as proof of the media's liberal bias.

I know, I know, this is just garden variety wingnut mendacity. Standard fare. Low-hanging fruit. Still, it was definitely worth a quick laugh.

Bozell and Graham go on to complain in their National Review article that they and others in the "alternative media" are "blasted as 'Clinton haters' and 'persecutors' straight out of the 'vast right-wing conspiracy'" for "having the temerity to seek the truth." But their book's lead claim is not only false, it's easily proven to be false.

The reason Bozell and Graham are "blasted as 'Clinton haters'" is because, in fact, they are.

UPDATE: Graham defends his and Bozell's quoting of the Time article in a Nov. 14 NewsBusters post, insisting that Carlson "described Hillary that way, and we think it's emblematic of the pro-Hillary media goo" and that entire article shows that "Margaret sounds exactly like the 'gushing and cringe-worthy' Hillary friends that get sent out to spin the media." But that's not what Graham claimed in the National Review article (and their promo copy); they didn't go after the whole article. And Graham's suggestion that because Carlson "described Hillary that way" that it is, ipso facto, an accurate reflection of her personal opinion of Hillary brings to mind Graham's attempt to falsely ascribe the opinions of people quoted in a Washington Post article about Che Guevara to the person who wrote the article.

UPDATE 2: Sargent responds here.

Also worth noting out of Graham's response is this snide aside: "Let’s put aside for a moment the point that Hillary doesn’t come anywhere close to Betty Crocker (she wouldn’t be caught dead making Bill’s dinner every night, when there are servants for that)." And Graham is purportedly offended by being called a "Clinton-hater"?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:41 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 4:06 PM EST
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Kincaid Whitewashes Waterboarding
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In a Nov. 11 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid wrote:

Congress itself has never declared waterboarding to be a form of torture. Perhaps that is because it is not. It makes a terrorist uncomfortable and feel like drowning, but it does not subject him to permanent physical or psychological harm. What's more, the technique reportedly worked in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, admitted mastermind of 9/11, who confessed to other ongoing plots to kill Americans that were apparently stopped.

In fact, there is evidence that waterboarding does, in fact, result in "permanent physical or psychological harm." Further, as we've noted, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's waterboarding produced results that were "debatable," and author Ron Suskind adds that what U.S. interrogators got out of Mohammed after waterboarding were "things that professional interrogators say could have been gotten otherwise."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:54 AM EST
CNS Reports Old News

A Nov. 12 article by Fred Lucas touted "a government report on casualty rates" claiming that "American soldiers died in higher numbers during some of the peace-time years in the 1980s than in recent years when the military has fought conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan." But it wasn't until the end of the article that Lucas mentioned a relevant fact: This report "was first released in June and updated in August."

Lucas is reporting something that was first released at least three months ago.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:09 AM EST
WND Misleads on Abortion Clinic Law
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A certain Nov. 12 WorldNetDaily article carries no byline -- perhaps because it's so slanted that the writer was ashamed to put his or her name to it.

The article is about a proposed law in Oakland, Calif, to require a 8-food "bubble" between women going to abortion clinics and anti-abortion protesters. But that's not how WND described it. Here's the lead:

A proposal moving swiftly toward approval by the Oakland City Council would tell Christians and others who offer an alternative to abortion to "shut up," a public interest law firm says.

The article never clearly states the basic provision of the law -- that it would require an 8-foot buffer between protesters and patients. It quotes only anti-abortion activists, mostly someone from the Pacific Justice Institute, the "public interest law firm" in the lead, who claimd that the law is "the biggest threat to free speech in a generation, and that's not hyperbole."

The article also depicted Oakland councilwoman Jane Brunner as telling reporters that "the ordinance 'would give women the right to make that choice and safely go to the clinic,' without hearing any statements that conflict with the abortion-rights lobby."  In fact, here's what Brunner said, according to an Oct. 23 San Francisco Chronicle article:

"It's a very hard decision for a woman to make to decide if she is going to carry a baby or have an abortion," said Councilwoman Jane Brunner, co-author of the ordinance. "If she decides to get clinical help, she should be able to reach that place without being harassed or scared. This ordinance would give women the right to make that choice and safely go in the clinic."

Brunner said nothing about "statements that conflict with the abortion-rights lobby."

If we were falsely portraying other people's statements, we wouldn't want our name to be associated with it, either. Too bad WND as a whole has no similar sense of shame.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 AM EST
NewsMax Still Hatin' on Hillary
Topic: Newsmax

More reminders that NewsMax hasn't gone totally squishy on the Clintons:

A Nov. 12 column by Barrett Kalellis claimed that Hillary Clinton is "a woman to whom honesty, openness, and forthrightness are strangers" and has "European socialist blood coursing through her veins."

A Nov. 12 column by John LeBoutillier sneeringly referred to Hillary as " this supposedly-smartest woman in the world."

A Nov. 11 "news" article is headlined: "Hillary: I Know Nothing." 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:51 AM EST
Monday, November 12, 2007
Meanwhile ...
Topic: NewsBusters

Oliver Willis catches NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard making yet another malicious claim about Al Gore. In a Nov. 12 post, Sheppard claimed that Gore, who has joined a venture capital firm to guide investments that help combat global warming, "as brilliantly structured himself as a virtual financial hub of international investments associated with so-called global warming solutions whereby he'll benefit financially from any hysterical climate claim uttered by a media member, Hollywood sycophant, United Nations climate panelist, or, deliciously, himself." In fact, Gore is donating his salary to a advocacy group he founded.

As we've detailed, Sheppard has asserted without evidence that the only reason Gore is involved with global warming advocacy is for the money. 

UPDATE: Sheppard updates his post to respond to Willis, whom he calls "someone connected to such a high-profile Clinton campaign front as Media Matters," insisting that "the salary to Gore is totally irrelevant. His connection to the largest venture capital firm in Silicon Valley affords him financial and investment benefits far beyond the salary he’s being paid." Sheppard offers no evidence to support this claim.

Let the record show that Sheppard has never countered anything we have written about him, even though we, like Willis, are employed by Media Matters. We like to think that's because he can't counter the facts.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:11 PM EST
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2007 11:42 PM EST
Speaking Too Soon
Topic: Accuracy in Media

"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."

--  San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 9 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:39 AM EST
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, LimbaughHannity, 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. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:13 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2007 10:26 AM EST
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: " 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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 AM EST

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