ConWebBlog: The Weblog of ConWebWatch

your New Media watchdog

ConWebWatch: home | archive/search | about | primer | shop

Saturday, December 8, 2007
NewsBusters Misleads on Prof's Hillary Link
Topic: NewsBusters

A Dec. 7 NewsBusters post by Seton Motley attacks a politicial science professor who was not appropriately effusive about Mitt Romney's religion speech as a "Hillary plant" -- because, apparently, anyone who didn't call the speech the greatest thing since sliced bread must automatically be assumed to be on Hillary's payroll -- but he doesn't tell the full story.

Motley wrote that Costas Panagopoulos was "rightly (if only partially) identified as 'a political science professor at Fordham University,'" adding:

There is only one little problem with going to this guy for his thoughts on all things either Romney, Republican or Rodham: he is an ex-Hillary Clinton staffer.

How do we know this?  How did we ferret out this subterranean knowledge?  We checked his website's biography.  Second paragraph, first sentence.

We are positively exhausted after the extensive, laborious effort to track down this tidbit.

We checked the bio too, and it seems that Motley was too tuckered out from his effort to properly cite and put into context Panagopoulos' link to Hillary. From the bio:

Dr. Panagopoulos was selected by the American Political Science Association as a Congressional Fellow during 2004-2005, and he served in the office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).

What is the APSA congressional fellows program? It describes itself as "the nation's oldest and most prestigious congressional fellowship. ... For nine months, select political scientists, journalists, doctors, federal executives and international scholars gain 'hands on' understanding of the legislative process by serving on congressional staffs." The program as it applies to political scientists like Panagopoulos "give[s] early- to mid-career political scientists an opportunity to learn more about Congress and the legislative process through direct participation."

In other words, Hillary didn't hire Panagopoulos; he was on a research fellowship that placed him in her office, and it likely didn't matter to him which member of Congress he worked for. In fact, one could argue that it was in recognition of Panagopoulos' skills as a political scientist that he was placed with such a high-profile congressperson as Clinton. For Motley to dismiss Panagopoulos as a "Hillary plant" is disingenous and even false, since he offers no evidence that Clinton is sending Panagopoulos out to speak for her.

While Motley bashes Panagopoulos' "analytical stylings" on Romney's speech, he doesn't contradict any of them, and the one quote Motley cites -- in which he points out that Romney was trying "to placate voters who are apprehensive about him as a Mormon or as a flip-flopper" and added, "But I am not convinced he was successful in doing either" -- is not exactly a partisan observation.

We've previously noted Motley's cheap shots against journalists. If he keeps this up, he will earn himself a place with Mark Finkelstein, Noel Sheppard and Warner Todd Huston as the subject of a highly coveted NewsBusted profile.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 PM EST
WND Treats Another Misleading Folger Claim As Truth
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The last time WorldNetDaily treated columnist Janet Folger's claims as fact, we discovered that they actually ranged from highly exaggerated to utterly false. So when WND authoritatively cited Folger again, the logical thing to do is investigate whether Folger was exaggerating here too -- WND certainly won't do this, since it made clear its preference for right-wing talking points over the truth.

In a Dec. 7 article -- in which we previously pointed out its biased descriptions of an anti-discrimination law and an anti-gay preacher who opposes it -- WND stated:

WND columnist Janet Folger earlier warned in a commentary called "Pastors: Act now or prepare for jail," that in New Hampshire, a crime that typically carries a sentence of 3 1/2 years was "enhanced" to 30 years because a robber shouted an anti-homosexual name at his victim.

The article linked to an April 24 column in which Folger wrote:

Robbing someone outside a convenience store is a Class-B felony in New Hampshire, which typically carries a sentence of three and a half to seven years in state prison along with a $4,000 fine. But according to Assistant County Attorney Roger Chadwick, if convicted of a "hate crime" (shouting an anti-homosexual name), the sentence becomes "enhanced" by 23-26 1/2 years – turning a three-year sentence into a 30-year sentence.

Oh, and it's not a hypothetical. According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, John Guimond, 23, faced those charges. He was charged with stealing a cell phone from a homosexual man, 24, and his underage "male partner" (a statutory rape violation), after approaching them in a parking lot.

Stealing is a bad thing to do. But keep in mind, no weapon was used, no injury sustained. Just that mean name – something far, far worse. Think about it for a minute. If saying a mean anti-homosexual word adds an additional 23-26 ½ years to a sentence, and people live to around 80, that penalty is one-fourth of your life for the words you say. And while this was in addition to a robbery penalty, how much of a jump would it really be to penalize the speech "infraction" alone? And just what constitutes an "anti-gay epithet"? Would an "anti-gay epithet" be to say, "Homosexuality is a sin," or "Homosexuals should repent"? What if you informed someone that "Homosexuality is harmful to your health"? If I were you, I wouldn't try it in New Hampshire.

Folger fails to mention one important detail: Guimond was never sentenced on the hate-crime charge. As a March 10, 2005, Manchester, N.H., Union Leader article reported (h/t Good As You), Guimond pleaded guilty to the robbery charge in exchange for dropping two other hate crime-related charges. Indeed, it appears that prosecutors decided that the evidence ultimately didn't sustain the hate-crime charges. From the article:

"I think he targeted them for the usual reasons that someone would target another for a robbery," said Assistant County Attorney Shawn Sweeney, who prosecuted Guimond. "He was stealing from them."

In other words, the criminal justice system worked as it was supposed to by ultimately dropping a charge for which the prosecution apparently had insufficient evidence, something Folger -- and WND -- curiously (but, sadly, not suprisingly) failed to tell their readers.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, December 8, 2007 1:01 AM EST
Friday, December 7, 2007
WND Still Spinning Anti-Gay Preacher's Claims
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Nearly two years ago, we detailed how WorldNetDaily was selectively reporting the case of an Philadelphia anti-gay activist and his followers who were arrested while protesting at a gay street festival. WND is still doing it.

A Dec. 7 WND article reported that "Michael Marcavage, of Repent America, says his organization has members who were jailed for proclaiming their Christian beliefs on public streets in Philadelphia." This is a highly biased description of events that WND makes no effort to correct. In fact, Marcavage tried to interrupt a performance during the gay festival with his anti-gay preaching and then disobeyed a police order to move to the perimeter of the Outfest to avoid the potential for violence, resulting in the arrests of Marcavage and his fellow protesters. (The charges were later dropped.)

WND does go on to state that "a number of members of his organization chose to proclaim their biblically based belief that homosexuality is wrong at a city-sponsored "gay" fest in Philadelphia. They were arrested and jailed, even threatened with prison sentences decades long, for proclaiming their beliefs." But nowhere does it mention that Marcavage tried to disrupt the event and then disobeyed the police.

The article goes on to misleadingly depict a proposed federal law that would grant anti-discrimination protections for gays, claiming that it would "apply penalties for politically incorrect 'thoughts.'" The misleading continued when it claimed the law "would have expanded hate-crime laws that now address race to include crimes committed against anyone in new special classes based on their gender or sexual orientation." As is WND policy on such stories, no supporter of the law was permitted to respond to WND description of it or the numerous critics of the law the article cites.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:23 PM EST
Updated: Friday, December 7, 2007 7:38 PM EST
Meanwhile ...
Topic: NewsBusters
Media Matters' Eric Boehlert reminds us that before the hue and cry over a general who asked a question during the Nov. 29 CNN/YouTube Republican debate was later found to have tenuous connections to Hillary Clinton's campaign, Brad Wilmouth declared in a NewsBusters post immediately after the debate that it "largely lived up to its promise to be a debate fitting for Republican voters as the vast majority of the questions used were asked from a conservative point of view."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:32 PM EST
New Article -- NewsBusted: The Huston File
Topic: NewsBusters
NewsBusters' Warner Todd Huston goes above and beyond to peddle misinformation and shill for Fred Thompson. Read more.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:26 AM EST
Kessler Remains Uninterested in Freedom's Watch Funding
Topic: Newsmax

We've previously noted Ronald Kessler's disinterest in the funding for the conservative group Freedom's Watch, even as he touts that it purportedly has more funding than the George Soros-funded

Kessler does so again in a Dec. 6 Newsmax article:

Freedom’s Watch has moved into its headquarters that were once occupied by the Washington Capitals on 9th Street NW in Washington. The 10,000 square feet of office space is laid out like Bloomberg’s offices, with lots of open space and few closed offices. The facilities include a so-called newsroom with plasma television monitors covering one wall and a television studio that will be used to broadcast programs nationally.

 Since late August, Freedom’s Watch has spent $15 million on television, radio, and print ads. The targets have been anti-war critics who support a quick retreat from Iraq,’s ad suggesting that Gen. David Petraeus betrayed the American people, and Columbia University’s decision to invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak.

 Conservatives have long wondered why no one has stepped forward to provide as much funding to push their issues as the left-of-center operations started by George Soros.

The new non-profit organization is designed to fill that void: Its funding will exceed that of entities that have been underwritten by Soros.

Again, Kessler shows no interest in telling his readers where the money to pay for these swank offices he's slobbering over is coming from -- even though, as we noted, he could easily have found out by reading his own website. One of those key funders is John Templeton Jr., son of John Templeton, whose financial analysis NewsMax has been touting for years.

Kessler also repeated the false claim that was "started by George Soros"; as we've previously noted, it was founded in 1998 by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd. Soros gave money to the group starting in 2003.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:51 AM EST
Thursday, December 6, 2007
TimesWatch Misleads on Vacation Home Story
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Dec. 5 TimesWatch post (and MRC CyberAlert item) about a speech by New York Times executive editor Bill Keller on divisions in the American electorate, Clay Waters noted that Keller said "another defender of the national interest posted maps to my apartment -- and my publishers' -- on the internet, for the benefit of any lunatics who wanted to drop by and set us straight," prompting Waters to add: "This from the editor of the paper that in June 2006 showed how to find the weekend homes of Vice President Cheney and former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld."

What Waters didn't note (but Glenn Greenwald did): The Times had published even more detailed information about the Clintons' house in Chappaqua, N.Y. (which we don't recall Waters objecting to), the Rumsfeld and Cheney house info had been published several months earlier in the Washington Post -- and Newsmax -- to no similar hue and cry, and the Times had Rumsfeld's permission to take pictures of his house.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:54 PM EST
Brennan Repeats Debunked Global Warming Stat
Topic: Newsmax

In his Dec. 4 Newsmax column, done as a letter from Mother Nature to Al Gore, Phil Brennan writes:

This notion that mankind can be forced to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2 by reducing its carbon footprint — I love these disingenuous terms you invent to bolster your shabby case — is sheer nonsense, based as it is on the false notion that human activities are mainly responsible for the buildup of the greenhouse gas CO2 in the atmosphere.

Now Al, you know that the principal greenhouse gas is water vapor which accounts for about 95 percent of all the greenhouse gases floating around out there.

The other 5 percent is composed of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide, and various others including CFCs, with carbon dioxide being by far the greatest greenhouse gas contributor among them at 3.6 percent.

But carbon dioxide as a result of man's activities accounts for barely 3.2 percent of that, thus only 0.12 percent of all the greenhouse gases in total.

As we noted the last time Brennan made this assertion, RealClimate has debunked these statistics, calling them not only false but "irrelevant and not very sensible."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 PM EST
Newsmax Promotes Dubious Abortion-Cancer Study
Topic: Newsmax

A Dec. 4 Newsmax article by Sylvia Hubbard repeated a study claiming that "[h]aving an abortion raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer by at least 30 percent, and is fueling an 'epidemic' of the often fatal disease." But as we've detailed, the study, which originally came out in October, was done by a mysterious British researcher, funded by British anti-abortion groups, and published in a right-leaning publication that fancies itself to be a medical journal.

Hubbard reports none of this. While she does quote a spokesman for the American Cancer Society questioning the findings, she also quotes Jane Orient, managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons -- where the study was published, and whose conservative leanings we've previously documented -- saying she agreed with the findings: "Women need to know that the incidence of breast cancer is rising and it is paralleling the rise in induced abortion. The graphs are very, very clear. There are many strong reasons to believe abortion is a factor."

This suggests that the JAPS cares more about the results of the "research" it publishes rather than following the research wherever it goes. Remember, the JAPS published Madeleine Cosman's factually false anti-immigrant screed, which wildly overstated the number of leprosy cases in the U.S. Perhaps Orient needs to take some time away from justifying whatever lame study appears in her journal -- while ignoring the inherent bias in how it was funded -- and explain why the peer review process the JAPS purports to have didn't catch Cosman's errors (as far as we know, JAPS has never corrected Cosman's article).

Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EST
MRC Builds Huckabee Up, Then Tears Him Down
Topic: NewsBusters

Sometimes, The Media Research Center's right hand doesn't know what its, er, other right hand is doing.

Two Dec. 5 NewsBusters posts -- Scott Whitlock and Kyle Drennen -- criticize various media outlets for negative reporting on Mike Huckabee. Whitlock's first post complained that ABC's Brian Ross "continued his habit of offering up critical takes on Republican front-runners and ignoring Democratic scandals' by reporting on Huckabee's involvement while Arkansas governor in the pardoning of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond, who was later accused of murder after his release. Whitlock was put out that the story got its most recent push from the Huffington Post, which has "very liberal leanings."

Drennen's post similarly complained:

Following two days of positive coverage of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and his front-runner status in Iowa, on Wednesday the CBS "Early Show" decided it was time to tear down the former governor’s campaign: "He's being dogged by new reports that he had a much bigger role in the parole of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond while he was Governor of Arkansas than he had previously been claiming."

Drennen also complained about "the use of the 'Huffington Post' as a legitimate news source, with no mention of it being a left-wing blog routinely filled with hate speech toward conservatives." He linked to fellow MRCer Tim Graham's HuffPo smear job, which, as we've detailed, cites a mere 19 posts out of the tens of thousands on the site to support its claim that HuffPo is "loaded with profanity and crude sexual and excretory metaphors."

But while one MRC division was attacking the networks for attacking Huckabee, another MRC division was, um, attacking Huckabee. As we've noted, has unleashed a handful of articles in the past couple days bashing Huckabee for being not conservative enough. 

The headline on Drennen's item read: "CBS 'Early Show' Builds Huckabee Up to Tear Him Down." The MRC is doing the exact same thing.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 AM EST
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 4 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh keeps up his brand of "journalism" by subjectively misdescribing a California law on diversity, allowing opponents of the law to frame the issue and refusing to allow any supporter of the law to react to the criticism.

The article's headline set the tone by exclaiming "Homosexodus!" -- an apparent attempt to capitalize on its similarly silly "Sexpidemic" head. Unruh goes on to call the law in question a "newly mandated homosexual indoctrination program." In fact, all the bill essentially does is add "sexual orientation" to a list of characteristic California schools are not allowed to "promote[] a discriminatory bias" against. By repeating the "homosexual indoctrination" canard, Unruh is invoking the depiction-equals-approval fallacy, and he offers no evidence here beyond the assertions of opponents that the law does, in fact, result in "homosexual indoctrination" -- something Unruh would never have gotten away with had he written this article for his former employer, the Associated Press.

Unruh quotes numerous opponents of the law, most egregiously WND columnist Olivia St. John, who claimed in a Dec. 3 column -- without evidence, of course -- that the law will result in the state force-feeding children perverse material and videos vile enough to garner an R-rating in the local multiplex."

(St. John's column goes on to state -- which Unruh unquestioningly quotes: "When it comes to actively promoting sin to public school children, the homosexuals are light years ahead of adulterers, fornicators and substance abusers, who haven't yet implemented student-run organizations to convince children that such lifestyle choices are normal." What place does this have in a "news" article? What journalism school taught Unruh that this was a good, fair, balanced thing to put in one?)

While Unruh quotes state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell as saying the law "simplifies and clarifies existing civil rights protections for California students," he immediately allows another critic to attack the claim. O'Donnell's statement was apparently pulled by Unruh from a "a notice to all 'county and district superintendents'"; there is no evidence that Unruh contacted O'Donnell for a response. Unruh also pulled a quote from the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Sheila Kuehl -- whom he describes as a "Santa Monica Democrat, who lives an openly homosexual lifestyle" -- from a newspaper; there's no indication Unruh contacted her, either. Didn't want to catch those gay cooties over the phone, apparently.

This is an appallingly biased, unfair article by someone who has touted his long journalistic experience. But, sadly, it's par for the course for WND, who apparently has no problem printing such misleading tripe.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:20 PM EST
CNS Bashes Huckabee, Boosts Romney
Topic: seems to be gravitating toward a favorite Republican candidate -- and it ain't Mike Huckabee.

CNS has run three articles that are arguably critical of Huckabee in the past couple of days:

  • A Dec. 4 article by Fred Lucas reported that "some of [Huckabee's] Republican Party opponents are criticizing his record on illegal immigration as being un-conservative and not in line with what American voters want from their next president."
  • A Dec. 5 article by Randy Hall stated: "A group that opposes interaction between religion and government Tuesday accused Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. of violating federal tax law by using the school's resources to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The group also asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate."
  • A Dec. 5 article by Nathan Burchfiel began: "As former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee surges in polls against other Republicans seeking the 2008 presidential nomination, fiscal conservatives are taking a closer look at his record and expressing concerns about his approach to taxes and other economic issues."

By contrast, Mitt Romney is getting much gentler treatment. A Dec. 5 article by Kevin Mooney repeats claims from "Rev. Lou Sheldon and other Christian leaders who do not see Romney's religious beliefs as a major impediment to his attaining the Republican presidential nomination. " Buty Mooney never really delves into the nature of historical criticism of Mormonism by evangelicals beyond noting Sheldon's observation that "[t]raditionally, many Christians have thought of Mormonism as a cult," and he gets the name of Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and longtime critic of Mormonism, wrong (calling him "Al Moulder").

Mooney cited Mohler in the context of ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asking Huckabee if he agreed with Mohler's view that Mormonism contradicts the basic tenets of Christianity -- a view for which Mooney offered no elaboration. If a prominent evangelical like Mohler holds such a view, why is CNS -- a news service that primarily caters to conservatives and evangelicals -- trying to paper it over instead of detailing it for its readers?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:17 PM EST
WND Ignores Own Reporting on Bossie
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Dec. 4 WorldNetDaily article reported on a lawsuit threat against CNN by David Bossie and the group he heads, Citizens United. Among the offenses for which Bossie and his group are seeking "a formal apology and public retraction" that Bossie is a "dirty trickster."

But evidence to support that claim can be found in WND's own reporting. As we've noted, WND reported in 1998 on Bossie's anti-Clinton shenanigans in the 1990s -- which included allegations of stalking a Whitewater witness and attempts to steal documents related to various Clinton scandals, on top of his release of doctored transcripts of former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell that got Bossie canned from the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, where he worked as an investigator for anti-Clinton Rep. Dan Burton. Writer David Bresnahan stated in his lead that sources on the that committee wondered whether Bossie "was either extremely incompetent or was intentionally trying to sabotage investigations."

WND makes no mention of this -- even though WND originally reported it. Indeed, the article noted that Bossie was "a former chief investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Oversight" without mentioning that he lost the job for doctoring the Hubbell transcripts.

WND also engaged in its usual non-disclosure of conflicts of interest by listing the books that Bossie has written but not noting that WND published two of them, "The Many Faces of John Kerry" and "Intelligence Failure."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:15 AM EST
NewsBusters Silent on NRO Reporting Scandal
Topic: NewsBusters

While the folks at NewsBusters have been incredibly eager to report on questions about the veracity of Scott Thomas Beauchamp's columns for The New Republic, they have been silent about a similar scandal: apparently false claims in a military blog on National Review Online.

W. Thomas Smith Jr., who writes for The Tank blog for NRO, has been forced to backpedal on claims that between 4,000-5,000 Hezbollah gunmen had "deployed to the Christian areas of Beirut in an unsettling 'show of force'" and that "some 200-plus heavily armed Hezbollah militiamen" occupied a "sprawling Hezbollah tent city" near the Lebanese parliament.

The latest NewsBusters attack on Beauchamp is a Dec. 4 post by Bob Owens, who claimed the whole episode shows "just how disreputable the magazine truly is," even citing criticism of Beauchamp in a Media Matters column by Bob Bateman. Even though Bateman also touches on the NRO controversy, Owens doesn't clip it and doesn't say a word about it anywhere else in his post. Does Owens this National Review is now "disreputable" because Smith did the same thing he accused Beauchamp of doing? He doesn't tell us.

C'mon, NewsBusters, give us something. At least tell us why Beauchamp is so much more awful than Smith because he's a liberal...

Posted by Terry K. at 1:47 AM EST
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Bush 'Vindicted' By Stem Cell Advance? Not Quite
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Dec. 3 NewsBusters post and Dec. 4 MRC CyberAlert item, Brad Wilmouth claimed that "scientific advancements on stem cell research have vindicated George W. Bush's resistance to destroy actual embryos."

Well, not exactly: In a Dec. 3 Washington Post op-ed, James A. Thomson, one of the lead researchers in the scientific advancement Wilmouth referenced -- reprogramming skin cells to act like stem cells without the use of embryos -- took columnist Charles Krauthammer to task for suggesting the same thing:

Far from vindicating the current U.S. policy of withholding federal funds from many of those working to develop potentially lifesaving embryonic stem cells, recent papers in the journals Science and Cell described a breakthrough achieved despite political restrictions. In fact, work by both the U.S. and Japanese teams that reprogrammed skin cells depended entirely on previous embryonic stem cell research.

Thomson supports legislation to expand embryonic stem cell research and points out that "It remains to be seen whether reprogrammed skin cells will differ in significant ways from embryonic stem cells."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:51 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2007 7:21 PM EST

Newer | Latest | Older

Bookmark and Share

Get the WorldNetDaily Lies sticker!

Find more neat stuff at the ConWebWatch store!

Buy through this Amazon link and support ConWebWatch!

Support This Site

« December 2007 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31

Bloggers' Rights at EFF
Support Bloggers' Rights!

News Media Blog Network

Add to Google