NewsBuster Peddles Cheap Shots Against Journalists Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 29 NewsBusters post by Seton Motley noted a poll finding that nearly 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, then added: "One wonders if this is the same 90% of correspondents who admitted to voting for President Bill Clinton twice; certainly a great deal of overlap exists between the two polling samples."
Motley apparently decided to let the opportunity for a cheap shot trump the facts. As we've explained, the 1996 poll that fount 89 percent of reporters who cover the federal government voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 (the poll didn't ask about the 1996 vote) was a rather small sample -- only 139 journalists responded. Only 20 percent of the questionnaires sent out went to national news organizations, while the bulk were sent to regional daily papers or even smaller papers with next to no influence in Washington or national journalism.
In ranting about the Iraq survey, Motley sneeringly referred to "these professional seekers of truth and accuracy" who "believe that things are worsening," adding, "The story does not mention if Pew inquired as to their belief in Santa Claus." Motley also attacked the reporters for "esting comfortably in Baghdad's Green Zone, and dispatching the locals to do the heavy lifting," smearing them as "cocoon-conditioned journalists."
Motley overlooks one crucial point: The reporters saying this are or have been in Iraq. Funny, we don't see Motley or anyone else from the MRC trotting over to Iraq to report from there. If the Green Zone is such a cushy "cocoon," there should be no trouble finding an MRC staffer to go, right?
Motley has a definite disconnect like the one we've previously documented the MRC suffering from. In a Nov. 27 Human Events article (posted on NewsBusters), Motley bashes "journalism-by-poll" as done "by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup." As we noted, the MRC has a double standard on polls, refusing to complain about poll results it likes even when the methodology is questionable, though it's quick to attack (falsely or otherwise) the methodology of polls whose results it doesn't like.
Who the heck is Motley, anyway? The MRC director of communications. That explains a lot.
A Nov. 27 WorldNetDaily article kicks off with an outright lie in the headline: "Santa train takes kids to sexy Victoria's Secret." The article itself doesn't even claim that, though it tries hard to make the purported offense as sinister as possible:
The kids' Santa train at the White Flint shopping mall in Bethesda, Md., is giving the tots an eyeful, taking them past a storefront display of "SEXY" lingerie, according to a consumer who complained to the shopping plaza's owners.
Rebecca McMurry called the situation, "Marketing of Evil, Washington suburban style," after she expressed her concern to the owners of the White Flint Mall, without getting satisfaction. She was referring to "The Marketing of Evil" book by David Kupelian, WND's managing editor, which outlines the campaigns responsible for selling sex and violence agendas to the American public.
"I am shocked! This evening my husband and I visited White Flint Shopping Mall and while strolling through window shopping we were greeted by a sleazy display of near pornographic sado-masochistic sexist mannequins in the display windows of Victoria's Secret," she wrote to Mark Lerner, of Lerner Enterprises, the mall's owner.
"It was bad enough for me to be humiliated by the scene, but what about the children, Mr. Lerner? We watched as the little train carried them by those windows. Is this the image that you want to be projected for your mall?" she wrote.
So, in other words, the "train" never takes children to Victoria's Secret, as the headline claims, but merely past it -- just as it drives past every other store in the mall (at least on the level the train runs on). The article offers no evidence that the Victoria's Secret window displays are "pornographic," "sado-masochistic," or "sexist" as the "shocked" shopper asserts. (Sadly, the photos accompanying the article aren't clear enough for us to determine just how sexy the display is, a helpful service WND used to provide.)
WND also reported a claim from the shopper that "the train starts near the Lord & Taylor store, then moves throughout the mall, passing several times in front of the Victoria's Secret lingerie promotions," without noting that the train also passes several times in front of every other store in the mall. WND offers no evidence to support its suggestion that the train makes a specific point to pass by or linger at Victoria's Secret.
WND editor Joseph Farah lives in the Washington, D.C., area, not all that far from this mall (as do we, which is how we know the truth about the train). Why doesn't he go and investigate for himself?
The "controversial children's book" in question is "King and King," which is about, according to Winn, "a prince who, instead of marrying a princess, decides to marry her brother instead." Winn uses this book as the basis of a gotcha question (a recent trend at CNS) for presidential candidates: "Should teachers read the book to second graders as part of the school curriculum? Would you read it -- or have read it -- to your own children?" The results: "Republican hopefuls Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney don't think the book ... should be read to children, but Democrats John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton give it a qualified 'thumbs up.' "
Nowhere does Winn offer any evidence that the book has, in fact, ever been read or proposed to have been read by teachers to second graders as part of the school curriculum.
Winn goes on to quote David Parker, "a Lexington, Mass., parent who has battled his school district over books like 'King and King.'" Not quite; as WorldNetDaily -- which has written numerous articles about Parker -- has noted, Parker's battle was over the book "Who's In A Family?" which "depicted at least two households led by homosexual partners." It's not a fiction book like "King and King"; rather, it shows how "a family can be made up in many different ways." Neither Winn nor Parker explain why that message is so objectionable, though Winn quotes Parker attacking "affirming and embracing and celebrating gay marriage and homosexual conduct in elementary school" -- again, the depiction-equals-approval fallacy at work.
New Article: Rejecting Journalism Topic: WorldNetDaily
Bob Unruh left a career at the Associated Press to work for WorldNetDaily. His WND work, however, contains the kind of bias and attacks that would never have passed muster at the AP. Read more.
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Poll Methodology Topic: NewsBusters
The Media Research Center in general, and NewsBusters in particular, have been quick to attack the methodology of polls that don't mesh with its conservative viewpoint -- witness last year's attack on a poll showing record-low approval ratings for President Bush as being skewed toward Democratic respondents, ignoring the fact that the Democrat-Republican-independent respondent balance accurately reflected that of the American public. But when a flawed poll generates results conservatives like, not a disparaging word can be heard about it.
NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein has been promoting a new Zogby Interactive poll claiming that Hillary Clinton would lose to all of the leading Republican contenders in a head-to-head matchup. In a Nov. 27 post, Finkelstein even went so far as to contact the Zogby folks to counter an attack on the poll by Hillary adviser Mark Penn; they claimed that Penn's criticism is negated by the fact that Hillary's campaign has used Zogby for private polling. Finkelstein followed up with a Nov. 28 post featuring John Zogby himself defending the poll while dismissing a Gallup poll showing more favorable results for Hillary as having been taken nearly two weeks earlier and "a lot can happen in that time span." At no point did Finkelstein mention any problems with Zogby Interactive polls; in fact, in his Nov. 27 post, he touted that "the margin of error in the current [Zogby] presidential poll is only 1%."
In fact, questions have been raised about the methodology of Zogby's interactive polls. As Media Matters notes, Zogby Interactive respondents have previously self-selected themselves to take part in a poll, which makes it something other than the "random sample" considered to be the most scientific way to conduct a poll. Meanwhile, Pollster.com points out that the Zogby Interactive results are anomalous to every other presidential poll. And the Wall Street Journal previously noted Zogby Interactive's horrible results in 2006.
Will anyone at the MRC note this? Not unless Zogby Interactive comes up with a poll that makes Republicans look bad.
CNS' Sham Balance: Even Worse Than We Thought Topic: CNSNews.com
Last week, we described CNSNews' lack of balance in its news articles, as evidenced by its making only token efforts to obtain the other side of a story, then not bothering to follow up tell the full story. Turns out the problem is worse than we thought.
One of the cases we cited was a Nov. 20 article by Nathan Burchfiel quoting two "pro-life activists" claiming that "high abortion rates among black women" are linked to "high levels of 'hopelessness' in African-American communities across the United States." Burchfiel's attempt to "fairly present" the other side was limited to stating that "A spokesman for the Alan Guttmacher Institute did not respond to requests for comment by press time" and pulling statistics off the group's website. We have since heard from the Guttmacher Institute's Rebecca Wind, who told us:
As the primary media contact for the Guttmacher Institute, I want to set the record straight. I sent the attached letter to the editor of CNS News last week, along with the attached e-mail exchange, which clearly shows that we not only responded to requests for comment by press time, but that we set up an interview for Mr. Burchfiel with our director for domestic research, which was cancelled by the reporter due to a family emergency. I have received no response back from the editors of CNS News or Mr. Burchfiel himself at this time.
Burchfiel postponed an interview with a Guttmacher rep, then wrote the story anyway and claimed that "A spokesman for the Alan Guttmacher Institute did not respond to requests for comment by press time"? That manages to be even more egregious than the lack of balance itself.
In a Nov. 26 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham noted that in an appearance on Laura Ingraham's radio show, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw said that Rush Limbaugh "doesn’t want to hear another point of view, except his." Graham responded:
If Brokaw had ever "wasted" an hour of his life listening to Limbaugh, he'd learn that liberal callers are often featured on the Limbaugh program, some times for long periods of time that make conservative callers jealous. He should really learn from others who've made this factual error and actually listen to the program and apologize, as Washington Post columnist William Raspberry did. (See Brent Bozell on that.)
That Bozell column appeared in June 2000, after Limbaugh had been appointed to his (short-lived) post as a Monday Night Fooball commentator. Bozell does not indicate that Raspberry was referring specifically to Limbaugh's treatment of liberals, as Graham suggests; rather, Bozell wrote that Raspberry "several years ago penned a piece slashing Limbaugh to ribbons, then issued a follow-up apology in which he admitted that at the time he wrote the first column, he’d barely listened to Rush, and that once he did so at greater length, found out what he’d heard about him from friends – that Limbaugh was a bigot -- wasn’t true."
Bozell echoed Graham's claim in his Nov. 28 column:
This is beyond dumb. It’s like conservatives claiming that "the whole drill" about Tom Brokaw is he never allowed a female reporter on his newscast. It’s such a heaping pile of wrong that it serves only to discredit the critic as someone who is truly ignorant. Limbaugh regularly engages liberal callers -- always politely when they are polite, and usually politely when they aren’t -- and often at some length. If Brokaw had ever craned his pompous ears to listen to the show before proclaiming a verdict, he’d find....civil discourse.
So, um, where's the proof? Where are the audio clips demonstrating Limbaugh being "polite" to liberals? Where is the breakdown showing that Limbaugh is even more fair and balanced than Fox News?
Looks like it's time for Bozell and Graham's Media Research Center to do some, you know, media research and defend their favorite radio host with actual facts (if they do indeed exist) instead of unsupported assertions, especially given the fact that there's ample evidence demonstrating Limbaugh's hostility to liberals.
Clinton-Hater (And Video Game Hater) Faces Disbarment Topic: Newsmax
One of the more rabid Clinton-haters back in the 1990s was Jack Thompson. Featured at Newsmax -- where he served as its "Man in Miami" during the Elian Gonzalez saga -- Thompson was particularly enamored of Janet Reno, once running against her for a Florida prosecutor position; during a debate, he handed her a form stating "I, Janet Reno, am a 1) Homosexual; 2) Bisexual; 3) Heterosexual" and demanded that she check one or "you will be deemed to have checked one of the first two boxes." Thompson also tried to blackmail the lawyer for Elian's Miami relatives, claiming he would "appear ... on a national television program" to discuss the lawyer's dalliances with a stripper if the lawyer did not arrange a meeting with Elian's relatives for him.
At the end of the Clinton administration, with no Janet Reno to kick around anymore, Thompson remade himself as a crusader against video games, filing lawsuits against game manufacturers on behalf of families claiming the games directly resulted in the deaths of players, even pursuing action against the U.S. military because the America's Army game it gives away as a recruitment tool is purportedly a dangerous shooter-type game that will breed violent youths.
But it looks like Thompson's sue-happy ways have caught up with him. G4 reports that Thompson is facing a ethics trial this week by the Florida bar, spurred by complaints regarding Thompson’s professional conduct in court cases against the video game industry. GamePolitics adds:
Thompson’s bid to block the trial failed last week when U.S. District Court Judge Adalberto Jordan dismissed his suit against the Florida Bar and Judge Dava Tunis, the referee appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to preside over the case.
Thompson’s attempt to add myself and the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) as co-defendants in that federal suit also failed.
Over the weekend, Thompson turned to the Florida Supreme Court in an apparent effort to block this morning’s trial from moving forward. In one court filing Thompson asserted that he was willing to accept a 90-day suspension of his license to practice law. The embattled attorney claimed that such an offer had been on the table, but that the Florida Bar was now seeking his permanent disbarment.
A second document appeared to outline a lawsuit against the State of Florida, which has authority over the Florida Bar. Thompson claims that the Bar’s pursuit of him is motivated by his Christian activism and is designed to silence his outspokenness.
Playing the victim to the end, apparently.
Kotaku has a short history of Thompson's legal shenannigans.
Klein's Spectrum: Conservative to Right-Wing Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein claimed that "Knesset members across the political spectrum slammed commitments made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at today's U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit." But he quotes only conservative Knesset members -- not that he identifies them as such, of course.
Klein tries to confuse the issue by stating that "[Ehud] Olmert's Kadima party is held together by alliances with the leftist Labor, religious Shas and Russian Yisroel Beitenu [sic] parties." But Klein doesn't quote anyone from Labor. The "religious" Shas party is arguably conservative since it primarily represents ultra-orthodox Jews. Yisrael Beiteinu is a right-wing party.
Klein quotes the following Knesset members bashing Olmert:
Zevulun Orlev, chairman of the right-wing National Union party.
Eli Yishai, head of the Shas party.
Benny Elon of the National Union party.
So Klein's version of the Israeli political spectrum is conservative to ... more conservative. We've previouslynoted Klein's extreme aversion to using the word "conservative" to describe conservatives.
More Old News: WND Still Won't Question Willey's Credibility Topic: WorldNetDaily
Continuing WorldNetDaily's old-news theme, a Nov. 27 article by Art Moore once again rehashes Kathleen Willey's allegations against the Clintons without mentioning Willey's lack of credibility and history of lying to prosecutors.
Waters Misleads on Times' Recession Article Topic: NewsBusters
A Nov. 27 NewsBusters post by Clay Waters claimed that a New York Times article "displayed plenty of pessimism about the U.S. economy after years of foreign-financed easy money" and that an accompanying graphic showed that the Times "no doubt wanted to convey ... a fearful, sinking feeling among U.S. consumers" that the economy is heading for a recession.
But Waters failed to note that, as Media Matters details, the Times article examines both the good and bad sides of the economy, as well as good and bad effects of a possible recession, and does not describe a recession as a foregone conclusion. In fact, the article points out: "It is worth bearing in mind that the American economy has a history of unexpected resilience in the face of supposedly grim prospects. Moreover, some parts of the economy are enjoying good times, notably farmers able to cash in on the making of ethanol," adding, "The most likely outcome envisioned by many is a slowdown or a mild recession." This would seem to contradict Waters' claim that the article is filled only with "pessimism."
The longer version of Waters' post on TimesWatch adds an excerpt from the article that includes the "unexpected resilience" line but not the statement that "a slowdown or a mild recession" is the "most likely outcome."
Klein Still Can't Say the C-Word Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Nov. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein features a protest in Israel against the Israeli-Arab summit in Annapolis, Md., claiming that "Israelis across the country today protested Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's attendance" at the summit and "Nationalist groups handed out flyers against Annapolis." But nowhere does Klein note that the leaders of the protest, as quoted in his article, are all conservatives or right-wingers. Nor does he define what "nationalist" means -- presumably, right-wing.
Klein quoted "Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha council of Jewish settlements" without noting that the Yesha Council opposed Israel's disengagement policy, an arguably conservative position that Klein has expressed enormous sympathy for through his reporting (as we've noted). Klein also quoted "Knesset Member David Rotem of the Yisrael Beitenu party" without noting that Yisrael Beitenu is a right-wing party.
Another featured speaker is Shaul Goldstein, whom Klein blandly describes only as a "spokesman for a major West Bank Jewish community." Turns out Goldstein is quite telegenic -- he appeared on CNN in 2003. And it appears that, according to a may 2006 Israeli National News article, Goldstein is the mayor of the Gush Etzion community (why couldn't Klein report that?). From the article, which reported on video showing unflattering depictions of members of the Yesha Council:
In one segment, aired by Yinun Magal on Channel 10 TV Monday night, Gush Etzion Mayor Shaul Goldstein is seen directing his own evacuation. He is seen being held by two soldiers, with a pained look on his face as a snapshot is taken with a camera he handed one of the soldiers. "Did it come out?" he asked the photographer. Upon confirmation, he was carried ten feet and put down gingery [sic] at the door of the synagogue.
Asked by Magal during the newscast about his behavior, Goldstein said that he did not want to walk out on his own two feet, but also did not want to burden the police and therefore only made them carry him "four cubit, about two meters," he said. "He didn't explain the necessity of having the incident photographed though," Magal said.
Funny, we don't recall Klein reporting any of this at WND...
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported that "Four right-wing activists were arrested Wednesday during a protest against the Annapolis conference at the entrance to Jerusalem." Klein made no mention of arrests, and he certainly didn't mention anything about anyone being "right-wing." We've previously noted Klein's reluctance to describe his favorite Israeli conservatives as, well, conservative.
Gore Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard continues his obsession with Al Gore's money, making increasingly wild accusations against him while never supporting his bedrock claim against the guy.
A Nov. 22 post once again rehashed Gore's employment with a venture capital firm, once again suggesting that Gore took the job only for the money. Sheppard concluded: "In the end, folks, with every breath he takes, and every move he makes, Al Gore is the embodiment of the liberal motif "Do As I Say, Not As I Do!" Another Nov. 22 post claims that "irrefutable evidence mounts that Nobel Laureate Al Gore's climate alarmism is about nothing other than lining his supposedly green pockets with green currency."
But as we've noted, despite his repetitiousaccusations, Sheppard has never offered any direct, substantive evidence that "Gore's climate alarmism is about nothing other than lining his supposedly green pockets with green currency." Instead, one might more rationally conclude that it is Sheppard who's all about lining his pockets with "green currency" by making these unsubstantiated allegations on a blog where he serves as a paid editor and whatever secret lucre global warming "skeptics" are sending his way.
One Nov. 26 article goes the Godwin's Law route by repeating homeschoolers' claims that German officials are acting like Nazis -- a favorite WND trope from earlier this year. As before, WND made no apparent attempt to allow said German officials to respond to the allegation.
Another Nov. 26 article by Art Moore rehashes the Peter Paul case one more time while yet again failing to note that Paul is a convicted felon.
501(c)(3) organizations like the Media Research Center -- of which NewsBusters is a part -- aren't supposed to endorse candidates, but NewsBusters writers are making their preferences known. And these days, they don't like Mike Huckabee, given the frequency of how they're likening him to Democratic presidential candidates.
We've previously noted that Tim Graham claimed that Huckabee "sounded like Hillary" on the issue of "tuition breaks for illegals." Now, a Nov. 25 post by Mark Finkelstein claims that in an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Huckabee "indulging in some class-warfare rhetoric that would have been the envy of" John Edwards.
Finkelstein offers no evidence that Huckabee's "populist message" -- pointing out that "the economy, while doing great for the people on Wall Street, is not necessarily translating down to the guys handling the bags and selling the tickets and serving you Cokes on the airplane" -- is factually false. Yet he attacks Huckabee by saying his message is calculated to "appeal to the liberal media" and that he is "sow[ing] the whirlwind in GOP circles, all the better from the MSM perspective."
One has to wonder: What is it about Huckabee that MRC's conservatives hate? If hard-core social conservative Huckabee isn't conservative enough for them, who is? Judging by Warner Todd Huston's sycophancy, Fred Thompson.