Sheppard Misunderstands the Concept of Reporting Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard used a pair of Dec. 22 NewsBusters posts to launch screeds against the Associated Press -- and in so doing, demonstrate that he has no concept whatsoever about the concept of news reporting.
In the first post, Sheppard took offense to a list of the year's top stories that described the Iraq war this way:
The "surge" that sent more U.S. troops to Iraq was credited with helping reduce the overall level of violence. But thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of U.S. personnel were killed nonetheless during the year, and Iraqi political leaders struggled to make meaningful progress toward national reconciliation.
Good grief! Was such shameful editorializing either important or appropriate?
After all, the real news concerning Iraq this year is indeed that the surge - despite all the media's advanced and coincident errant pessimism - is working.
That's the story!
So, for Sheppard, noting relevant facts is "editorializing."
Sheppard takes a similar tack in another post, headlined "AP Begs Readers to Put More Democrats in Office Next Year." Of course, the article in question does no such thing; it merely reported on the failure of the Democratic-led Congress to accomplish much of its agenda this year due to Republican obstruction. Sheppard offers no evidence to the contrary -- he can't because it's true -- instead fulminating that it was "disgraceful" for the AP to point this out and that it was "mimicking Democrat [sic] talking points" in doing so.
Sheppard then attacked the article for ending with a quote from Democratic Senate Majority Leader, which Sheppard interpreted as a "final sycophantic exclamation point." Sheppard continued: "Could these folks be any more obvious? Much like a Democrat talking points letter of memorandum, this was actually how this AP article ended -- with a distinct call for more Democrats to be put in office next year."
So every article that quotes a Democrat is an endorsement of "Democrat [sic] talking points"? Doesn't he know that it's the function of a genuinely balanced media to report all points of view? Not that Sheppard has any personal experience in doing so, of course, being an alll-too-willing shill for the likes of James Inhofe and Marc Morano on global warming.
New Article: Brent Bozell's Blackwash Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center chief's new book on Hillary Clinton recites the same old conservative attacks and ignores context and exculpatory evidence. Read more.
We've previously noted Noel Sheppard's mindless repetition of the biased article from James Inhofe's office claiming "over 400 prominent scientists from all over the world" who oppose "the so-called 'consensus' on man-made global warming" without bothering to note that the article came from only one senator and not the entire committee to which he belongs. Sheppard has since moved on to using the report so smack around Al Gore yet again.
In a Dec. 21 NewsBusters post, Sheppard rehashed once more his unproven claim that Gore "likely has made what some estimate is $100 million in the past seven years selling this canard to the public." He then posts an excerpt from a Washington Times article paraphrasing a Gore spokesman as noting that '25 or 30 of the scientists [featured in Inhofe's report] may have received funding from Exxon Mobil Corp." -- the only comment in the article from the other side that responds to the report, which puts it only slightly ahead of WorldNetDaily's reporting on the issue -- followed by a Exxon Mobil spokesman saying, "Recycling of that kind of discredited conspiracy theory is nothing more than a distraction from the real challenge facing society and the energy industry."
All Sheppard does in response is raise his own evidence-free conspiracy theory, claiming offense that "someone who just received a Nobel Peace Prize, and has so much to gain from climate alarmism, could be allowed to dismiss such a report as being solely driven by personal greed." Considering that the Media Research Center pays him to blog about how much he hates Gore and the cause of global warming -- and thus has something to gain from doing so -- personal greed is an issue for Sheppard as well. To keep everyone honest here, perhaps Sheppard needs to detail his MRC compensation for his readers so we can judge just how much "personal greed" is an issue for him.
But nowhere does Sheppard (or the Washington Times) offer any actual evidence to support the assertion that Exxon Mobil's funding of global warming deniers is a "discredited conspiracy theory," or to discredit the Gore spokesman's assertion. Surely Sheppard, Inhofe, or his press flack Marc Morano can come up with a list of all the non-skeptic global warming scientists Exxon Mobil funds.
UPDATE: A Dec. 22 WorldNetDaiy article similarly singles out the Gore spokesman's suggestion that the scientists, in WND's words, "have been bought off," followed by the Exxon Mobil spokesman's "discredited conspiracy theory" retort. But, like Sheppard, WND offers no evidence to discredit the Gore spokesman or support the Exxon Mobil spokesman.
A Dec. 22 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh serves up his updates on the Denise Mafi homeschooling story repeats his assertion that Mafi's "recollection of events has been confirmed by attorneys." But again, has we've noted, Unruh does not disclose who these "attorneys" are, nor does he offer any documentation to support Mafi's version of events.
Unruh does note that "Court officials told WND the comments didn't happen as Mafi reported, but have been unable to provide a transcript to confirm either version." But this is buried in the 14th paragraph of the article -- after Unruh rehashed Mafi's version of events yet again. If Mafi's story is being questioned, why is Unruh still treating it as unassailable fact, and why didn't he put the fact that it's being questioned farther up in the story?
Unruh worked for the AP for nearly 30 years. He (presumably) knows better than to engage in journalism that makes vague, unverified claims.
UPDATE: A Dec. 22 WND column by Olivia St. John repeats the allegations made by Mafi -- calling it "taste of what's to come if the U.S. government continues down the path of European-style socialism" -- despite the fact that Mafi's claims are in dispute.
And St. John demonstrates what Unruh may have been trying to accomplish with his vaguery about attorneys; she writes of an "attorney-confirmed statement" purportedly made by the judge, even though the "attorney" who purportedly confirmed the statement is not on the record and there is no independent verification of the statement -- or any other claims Mafi has made.
A Dec. 20 WorldNetDaily article by Jerome Corsi on Tom Tancredo's withdrawal from the Republican presidential race and his endorsement of Mitt Romney quoted Tancredo spokesperson Bay Buchanan claiming that "Romney has the best plan" for dealing with illegal immigrants. But nowhere does Corsi note that Romney has steadily employed a company that hires illegal immigrants to tend the lawn of his mansion (at least until it made the news).
Corsi also uses this article to snipe once again at apparent former friend Jim Gilchrist for endorsing Mike Huckabee. Corsi makes sure to include Buchanan's criticism of Huckabee's plan on illegal immigration and adds that "Romney now may be able to use the support to deflect criticism of his border policies, just as Gilchrist's endorsement has been useful to Huckabee." And once again, Corsi failed to note that he co-authored a book with Gilchrist.
Corsi appears to trying to bring down both Gilchrist and Huckabee. Another Dec. 20 WND article by Corsi cited a pollster's claim that "The Huckaboom may have crested," and makes sure to ask the question; "Does the endorsement by Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project help or hurt Huckabee?" To Corsi's presumed disappointment, the pollster responded, "I think it will help. ... But I don't think it's definitive."
Unruh Misleads on Global Warming Report Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 21 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh breathelssly began: "A new U.S. Senate report documents hundreds of prominent scientists – experts in dozens of fields of study worldwide – who say global warming and cooling is a cycle of nature and cannot legitimately be connected to man's activities."
But it's not a "U.S. Senate report"; as Unruh himself states in a curiously vaguely fashion later in the article, "The new report comes from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP ranking member." But who is that mysterious "GOP ranking member"? Unruh doesn't say. (It's Sen. James Inhofe, whom Unruh cites later in the article but doesn't identify as the committee's GOP ranking member.
Since it comes from the "GOP ranking member" and not from the entire committee, as Unruh falsely implied in the lead, it's a partisan report -- but Unruh never explicitly states that, either.
Unruh also reflects the bias of the report, and his own biased brand of "journalism," by uncritically repeating its unverified claims -- such as, in Unruh's words, "there probably would be many more scientists making such statements, were it not for the fear of retaliation from those aboard the global-warming-is-caused-by-SUVs bandwagon" -- and making no attempt to gather reaction to it from any of the global warming scientists whose "consensus" the report is trying to debunk.
Meanwhile, it comes as no surprise that Noel Sheppard touts the report in a Dec. 20 NewsBusters post. Since Sheppard has his own biased history on the subject, he similarly ignores the partisan nature of the report, stating only that it was "just published at the United States Senate Committee on Environment & Public works website" but not that it was published only by the Republicans on the committee.
Sheppard also states that "readers are strongly encouraged to review this entire document to learn the truth about what real scientists - those not receiving Oscars, Emmys, and Nobel Peace Prizes - think about this controversial issue," even though the report ignores what "real scientists" have said that contradict the claims in the report.
Graham Uses Biased Wash. Times to Complain About Media Bias Topic: Media Research Center
A Dec. 20 NewsBusters post touts a "review" of Brent Bozell and Tim Graham's Hillary-bashing tome "Whitewash" in the Washington Times. The Dec. 20 Times article, by L.A. Holmes, isn't really a review per se -- Graham, and possibly Bozell, are interviewed for the article, not something that usually happens in book reviews.
The NewsBusters post highlights the following quote from Graham in the article: "Our whole mission ... is to say: These people are not objective. They're not disinterested, the press and people need to see them for what they are." It's a highly ironic statement given that Holmes repeats Graham and Bozell's claims without challenge and makes no apparent effort to talk to anyone with an opposing view, demonstrating that the Times is just as "disinterested" and "not objective" as Graham accuses "these people" of being.
Don't look for Graham and Bozell to call the Times out on that, of course, especially since they're the beneficiaries of such bias.
Klein Still Obscuring Israeli Groups' Right-Wing Ties Topic: WorldNetDaily
In the tradition of his water-carrying for the right-wing Rabbinical Congress for Peace, a Dec. 19 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein repeated a statement by "the New Jewish Congress, the Sanhedrin and the Holy Temple and Temple Mount movements" demanding that the Israeli government be rebuke" for reportedly failing to halt the Hamas terror group from broadcasting live today from the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site." But just as he has done with the Rabbinical Congress, Klein obscures the right-wing leanings of the groups making the statement.
Klein describes the New Jewish Congress only as "a group of religious Zionist leaders here." Israel Today, meanwhile, serves up a more accurate description, describing the group as made up of "right-wing Israeli organizations and movements" that aims to declare "full Jewish sovereignty over all the Land of Israel." (This dovetails nicely with Klein's aversion to identifying Israeli conservatives as conservatives, even though he throws around terms like "left-wing" regularly.)
The Sanhedrin, meanwhile, is described by Klein as "consist[ing] of prominent rabbinic leaders who in 2004 reformed the ancient group of Jewish judges that previously constituted the legislative body of Israel." Klkein rather vaguely added, "The reformed Sanhedrin has been a subject of debate within some Jewish communities." Richard Bartholomew, meanwhile, gets to the point by noting that the Sanhedrin is a "Kahanist theocratic organization founded in 2005, to the excitement of Christian Zionists like Hal Lindsey."
Klein offers no description at all of "the Holy Temple and Temple Mount movements" -- those movements, of which the Sanhedrin is a part, seek the rebuilding of the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount, currently the site of the Dome of the Rock Muslim shrine and the Al-Aqsa mosque -- but he offers a clue in noting that "joint statement was read ... by Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the international department at Israel's Temple Institute and an English spokesman for the various groups that issued today's call." According to Wikipedia, Richman "is known for his involvement in the effort to produce a red heifer, which is a requirement for the rebuilding of the temple."
Why doesn't Klein just explain all these political and religious motivations so that his readers have a clearer view of what's going on? It would seem that Klein doesn't want his readers to know the political aspect of it. By referring to these groups only as "religious" and "Zionist," Klein obscures the politics of his side while using it against Ehud Olmert and other non-conservative Israeli politicians, whom he likes to imagine as not being "religious" and "Zionist."
Unruh Still Lacks Independent Verification of Homeschooler's Claims Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh is still pushing the claims of homeschooling mom Denise Mafi -- who asserts, in Unruh's words, that she was "ordered by a juvenile court judge to enroll her children in public school or lose custody of them" -- but he still lacks solid independent verification of her claims.
Following up on a Dec. 16 article in which he first reported Mafi's story -- and included no evidence whatsover that he tried to verify her story -- a Dec. 20 article by Unruh is now claiming that Mafi "has abandoned her home, furniture and other possessions to escape the order." The only stab at verification that Unruh concedes is this paragraph:
Mafi has reported, and her recollection of events has been confirmed by attorneys, that Johansen told her homeschooling fails 100 percent of the time and he would not allow it.
What "attorneys" is Unruh talking about? Are they Mafi's attorneys? Why won't he name them or quote them on the record? What is Unruh afraid of?
Further, there is a court record of the case, and Unruh claims that Mafi has been "[C]ounseled by a public defender." Yet while Unruh did include the standard paragraph about how the various officials he purportedly contacted didn't respond or comment, there's no evidence that Unruh has tried to contact the public defender Mafi claims she was counseled by.
Unruh, however, was apparently shamed into including some balance; he noted a defense of the judge in the case by someone "who identified himself as a friend of the judge." This was apparently in response to a Dec. 18 article by Unruh that is essenetially a one-sided attack on the judge by John Yarrington, president of the Utah Home Education Association -- who similarly offers no corroborating evidence vefifying what he claims happened to Mafi or support his accusations against the judge, such as "This guy's nuts. He has no clue. ... He's [stepped] on so many rights it's ridiculous."
In all of these articles, Unruh threw in his standard Godwin's Law paragraph about how such actions are reminiscent of Germany, where homeschooling is "illegal under a law launched when Hitler expressed a desire to control the minds of youth." That references a series of stories he wrote earlier this year in which he made no effort whatsoever to contact German officials for their side of the story.
Kengor Repeats False Claim About Teacher And Declaration Topic: Horowitz
In a Dec. 20 FrontPageMag article, Paul Kengor -- a conservative college professor and author of several books including God and George W. Bush and God and Hillary Clinton (his attacks on liberals in the latter were shockingly panned by Newsmax) -- conducted an interview (apparently in connection with the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College, where Kengor teaches) with Charles Kesler, "director of the Salvatori Center at Claremont McKenna College, and one of the nation’s most respected and thoughtful observers on the American Founding," on the subject of "American exceptionalism." Kengor asked the following question:
In November 2004 there was a case in a public school in the San Francisco Bay area in which a teacher claimed that the school principal prohibited him from using the Declaration (and other Founding documents) because it mentioned God. If accurate, was this merely an isolated case of silly secularists in a public school who lost their minds—and thus of little concern to us—or does it point to a real problem that we should be worried about? Is there a prejudice against the religious component in these documents?
As we detailed, the teacher in question had a history of using his classroom to promote his brand of Christianity -- In fact, parents had complained to the school that Williams's teaching "crossed the line into evangelizing," -- and the handouts in question were only the parts of the Declaration that mentioned God, not the entire document. The teacher later withdrew his lawsuit against the school district, and both sides dismissed all claims, and no school policies were changed.
The false claim that the school district prohibited the teacher from handing out the Declaration of Independence "because it mentioned God" came straight from a press release from the teacher's attorneys at the conservative Alliance Defense Fund.
Couldn't Kengor have looked this up, given that there's no doubt about the incident he raises, instead of throwing in the "if accurate" disclaimer? Apparently not, since the truth would have completely undermined his question.
In your column today, you attack the Detroit News as "that fish wrapper" for running a column by Kary Moss, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, stating that WND "has suggested that the ACLU is actively working to remove 'In God We Trust' from U.S. currency, fire military chaplains and delete all references to God in America's founding documents." You write:
Here are some facts: WND has never reported any of the things it is alleged to have reported by Kary Moss and her friends at the Detroit News. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
No, WND has never suggested (note that word) the ACLU is actively working to remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency.
No, WND has never suggested the ACLU is actively working to fire military chaplains.
No, WND has never suggested the ACLU is actively working to delete all references to God in America's founding documents.
No, WND has never suggested any of these things – not in its news reports, not in its commentaries, not in its more than 10 years of publishing on the Internet has it suggested any of these things.
You then excerpt a promotion for the anti-ACLU issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine, which states of the ACLU: "Americans' heads are spinning, as they wonder what the next judicial outrage will be: Removing 'In God We Trust' from U.S. currency? Firing all military chaplains? Expunging all references to God in America's founding documents?"
What, exactly, is the loophole you are taking refuge in here? That this statement was not a "suggestion"? That Whistleblower is not the same thing as WND?
Please explain how the above statement published by WND is not "suggesting" that the ACLU is involved in those activities. Please explain why the above statement is not the same kind of "atrocious and defamatory lie" you accuse the ACLU and the Detroit News of engaging in. Please explain how the above statement -- as well as your frequent assertion that the ACLU is "evil" -- is reflective of a "concern for truth, accuracy and the facts" you claim WND has but the ACLU and the Detroit News don't.
Is Jerome Corsi trying to intimidate Jim Gilchrist into dropping his endorsement of Mike Huckabee? It seems so.
As we've noted, a Dec. 15 WorldNetDaily article by Corsi featured nothing but criticism of Gilchrist's endorsement by Gilchrist's fellow anti-immigration activists -- a surprise since Corsi and Gilchrist co-authored a book on the Minuteman movement just a year or so ago (and glossed over the the nature of the split between, and other controversies involving, Gilchrist and fellow Minuteman leader Chris Simcox. This was followed the next day by a Corsi article devoted to Gilchrist's side of the story.
The saga continues: A Dec. 18 article by Corsi reported that Gilchrist "says he will have to reconsider his endorsement of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee after learning the Republican presidential candidate favors allowing illegal aliens to wait only days to receive documents allowing re-entry into the U.S."
This was followed on Dec. 19 by a Corsi article noting that "Gilchrist yesterday went on a series of radio interviews, announcing to listeners he had decided to stick with his endorsement, even though Huckabee's immigration plan was less than perfect" -- accompanied by more detailed criticism of Gilchrist's endorsement from his anti-immigration buddies. Gilchrist maintained his endorsement even though, Corsi wrote, "Gilchrist was shown a Dec. 9 interview Huckabee gave to Chris Wallace of Fox News, two days before Gilchrist's endorsement, in which Huckabee admitted repatriated illegal aliens should only have to wait days, not years, under his Secure America Plan, before they received the legal documents that would permit them to re-enter the United States." Who showed this interview to Gilchrist? Was it Corsi himself?
Corsi's artcles -- in which he appears to praise Gilchrist for reconsidering his endorsement of Huckabee then attacks him when that doesn't happen -- appear to be an attempt to intimidate Gilchrist into withdrawing his endorsement. On no planet is this responsible journalism. If Corsi is sending videos to Gilchrist in order to try and change his views -- also not what anyone would call journalism -- he needs to disclose that, just as he needs to disclose that he and Gilchrist wrote a book together.
Corsi needs to explain himself, since what is going on here seems to be little more than a personal vendetta against an apparent former friend and business partner for not being pure enough in his views. Even though WND is often a bully pulpit in the hands of the likes of Joseph Farah, standards of ethics and morals demand Corsi stop misusing his WND platform to lash out at former acquaintances merely because their views are no longer in lockstep -- and where appears to have crossed the line from a bully pulpit to actual bullying.
A Dec. 19 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham is headlined, "Washington Post Yawns at 'Tame' Song 'Fascist Christ'." Of course, the entire newspaper did no such thing; it's merely a claim in a review printed in the Post, and Graham seems to have misinterpreted that, too.
In a review of a Todd Rundgren concert, the Post reviewer noted:
And for a guy pushing 60, Rundgren still works hard, digging into the vocals and closing most songs with a leaping scissors kick. But his promises to "offend each and every person in the room" didn't quite deliver, starting with a tame "Fascist Christ" and ending with a listless jab against -- yawn -- neoconservatives. Sorry; if you want to talk politics in this town, you have to hit a lot harder than that.
Graham responded (again conflating the reviewer's opinion to that of the entire newspaper):
Since when is a song viciously attacking American Christians as fascists considered "tame" and inoffensive? The only arguments in the Post's favor: The song is old (from 1993, hardly the zenith of Christian conservatism), and it's a very lame white rap song.
Graham seems not to have considered that, as the context of the review suggests, the reviewer may have been referring to Rundgren's performance of the song at the concert, not the specific song content itself (though we would concur with Graham's assessment of "Fascist Christ" as a "lame white rap song").
Graham has a habit of finding ways to misinterpret music and other arts reviews -- such as suggesting without evidence that reviews endorse the content of those events they review positively and ascribing the views of people quoted in a review to the reviewer himself.
A Dec. 19 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall devotes its attention to a sex scandal involving now-resigned Kansas attorney general Paul Morrison. But, following in the footsteps of WorldNetDaily, Hall fails to note apparent improprieties -- including failure to live in the county where he works as mandated by law and allegations that he's not putting in all that many hours at work -- surrounding Phill Kline, whom Morrison defeated for the attorney general post in 2006 and who succeeded Morrison as Johnson County, Kansas, district attorney after leaving office. Like WND, Hall touts Kline's anti-abortion activism, including his aggressive pursuit of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller.
Further, the headline of the article calls Morrison "pro-abortion" -- an inaccurate bit of semantics CNS likes to use.
Posted by Terry K.
at 11:16 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2007 10:41 PM EST
In a Dec. 17 Newsmax article repeating Republican Sen. Kit Bond's assertions about what the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran "should have emphasized," Ronald Kessler wrote:
Even more disturbing to Bond are votes by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama last August against revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to take account of technological changes.
“The country was at risk last summer,” Bond says. “We were not able to go up on new targets and obtain new information. The FISA court said in a classified letter to the intelligence community—and I was authorized to say it on the floor—that the FISA process for intercepting communications had been brought to a stop.”
As a result, if Clinton and Obama had prevailed, “We would not have been able to collect signals intelligence from key al Qaeda and other terrorist leaders abroad, calling to their allies in Iraq or perhaps in the United States. Essentially they would’ve shut down the program,” Bond says. “We’d have been out of business.”
In fact, Clinton, Obama, and other Democrats who opposed the bill passed in August did not do so because they opposed revising FISA "to take account of technological changes." As the New York Times reported and Media Matters noted, the main point of contention was court oversight of the warrantless wiretapping program. Democrats wanted meaningful court oversight; Republicans didn't.
Kessler has a longhistory of misleading his readers about FISA provisions and Democrats' views on them.