Shocker: Finkelstein Sorta Concedes Matthews Isn't a Total Liberal Topic: NewsBusters
Is Mark Finkelstein admitting reality about Chris Matthews?
As we've noted, Finkelstein has often used his NewsBusters posts to bash Matthews as an evil, unrepentant liberal (one post, for instance, accused Matthews of taking a "plunge off the Olbermann end of the pool"), despite the copious evidence to the contrary.
But Finkelstein seems to finally be conceding the truth. In a Dec. 27 post noting Matthews's statement that he has a "conservative gut" but liberal beliefs on some social issues, Finkelstein adds: "In fairness, I have heard Matthews express the odd conservative sentiment, as when he praises the way Rudy Giuliani got tough on crime in NYC or blasts Hillary's big-government giveaways."
Good job, Mark -- NewsBusters has taken a small step toward reality and fairness. Now if you can get Noel Sheppard to stop smearing Al Gore ...
MRC Turns on Halperin Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center loved Mark Halperin a year ago.
In an Oct. 31, 2006, "Media Reality Check," Rich Noyes touted how Halperin -- then with ABC News, now with Time magazine -- "admitted that the media elite have a bias problem." The MRC even gave Halperin a year-end "Recognizing the Obvious Award for Admitting There's Liberal Media Bias."
How times change. Brent Bozell's Dec. 25 column turns on Halperin with a vengence, excoriating Halperin's claim that Hillary Clinton is "held to a different standard." Bozell offers no evidence to contradict Halperin's claim; rather, he excoriates Halperin as a liberal shill with an "ardor about a Hillary-betraying media" who has "connections to the Clintons" and who just happens to be "the son of ultraliberal Morton Halperin, who not only served in Bill Clinton’s administration, but helped found the Center for American Progress, Hillary’s think tank and government in exile."
And no, Bozell didn't mention his organization's previous praise of Halperin, nor did the MRC mention Halperin's damning liberal associations in praising him in 2006.
The MRC turned on Halperin rather quickly. It's such a fickle mistress.
NewsBusters' Warner Todd Huston continues his Fred Thompson sycophancy by using a Dec. 26 post to promote a Human Events column by Jed Babbin making a dubious claim about the purported bias of the Associated Press.
The AP's crime, according to Babbin? Reporting the news -- specifically that Tom Tancredo, upon his quitting his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, endorsed Mitt Romney, which the AP described as a "stinging setback" and "a disappointment to Thompson." Babbin countered:
There is a small problem with the AP story: the facts. Tancredo did endorse Romney, but Thompson actually benefited from Tancredo’s withdrawal, possibly more than Romney did.
Why? Because Tancredo's state chairman in Iowa joined Thompson's campaign. Not reporting this, Babbin insisted, was "the functional equivalent of an attack ad directed at Thompson." Babbin offers no evidence to support this claim other than calling the chairman "the sort of worker bee a campaign likes to have on its side."
But, worker bee or not, Tancredo never polled more than 2 percent in Iowa. Why would Thompson benefit from this guy when Tancredo apparently didn't?
Such specious evidence, of course, didn't keep Huston from using Babbin's column as evidence that the AP is "an unpaid arm of the Democrat [sic] Party."
Huston's Outrage Knows No Holiday Topic: NewsBusters
Warner Todd Huston is outraged, in a Dec. 25 NewsBusters post, that the Google logo for the day features "a bow and candy cane": "Google doesn't want to cause any outrage by using the words 'Merry Christmas.'"
Uh, Warner, show us any previous instance in which the various holiday and tribute tweakings of the Google logo over the years has included any words other than Google. Otherwise, you look like a silly, paranoid, uncharitable goose on this wonderful Christmas Day.
Dude, you've had a long year of expressing misinformation, misplaced outrage, and Fred Thompson sycophancy. Use the holidays to get some rest.
Aaron Klein Gets Basic Facts Wrong Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 24 WorldNetDaily column by Aaron Klein attacked "a widely circulated piece by Associated Press writers Dion Nissenbaum and Cliff Churgin" for "paint[ing] a picture that squarely blames Israel" for the plight of Christians in Bethlelem.
Klein gets a basic fact wrong. Nissenbaum and Churgin don't work for the AP; they work for McClatchy Newspapers.
Now, here's a challenge for WND: Should it decide to correct Klein's factual error, will it admit the error to its readers -- as the vast majority of news outlets do when they correct a factual error in their news copy -- or will it silently make the change without alerting its readers? (We have screenshots, so we can document any before-and-after work.) The same error appears in a version of Klein's column appearing at Ynetnews.com.
Klein also misrepresents Nissenbaum and Churgin's article, though we don't expect WND to correct that. Klein writes, "The piece implied the wall caused the crash of Bethlehem's economy and prompted Christians to flee." Klein knows from implying things, since he got caught implying that Fox News paid a ransom for two of its journalists kidnapped in Gaza and had to walk it back, all the while insisting that he never implied such a thing: "I cannot stand idly by while others misrepresent and falsify my words to wrongly smear America's best cable news network."
That hasn't stopped Klein from misrepresenting Nissenbaum and Churgin's reporting, though. In fact, they offered some evidence for their suggestion -- the pastor of a Baptist church in Bethlehem, who said, "Building of the wall has prevented people from finding work. People see there are better opportunities outside the country," and a sociologist who said, "The answer is not religious. ... Rather it's a political, economic phenomenon, and unless there is political stability and economic prosperity, the more skilled, prosperous Palestinians will be leaving — both Christians and Muslims."
While Klein goes on an anti-Muslim tirade, implying (there's that word again) that Nissenbaum and Churgin laid no blame on Muslims for tensions in Bethlehem, he fails to note that the article did state this: "The steady influx of Muslims has brought more conservative values to Bethlehem and created periodic tensions, especially among Christians, who sometimes feel like a beleaguered minority."
Klein offers no evidence that the border wall did not play a factor in Bethlehem's decline, instead blaming those filthy Muslims: "Israel built the barrier five years ago. But Bethlehem's Christian population started to drastically decline in 1995, the very year Arafat's Palestinian Authority took over the holy Christian city in line with the U.S.-backed Oslo Accords."
Klein is in no position to judge others' reporting when he can't even get basic facts straight in his own.
UPDATE: WND took the coward's way out, correcting Nissenbaum and Churgin's employer to McClatchy -- though at this writing there's still a reference to "the AP piece" -- while not telling its readers of the change or admitting Klein got it wrong in the first place. (Ynet has changed it too, also without noting the change.) And as we promised if WND addressed this in a dishonest manner, here's a screenshot of Klein's original, false claim.
I guess we can take this as a sign that someone at WND (and, apparently, Ynet) reads ConWebWatch, even if they would never admit it publicly or give us any credit for pointing out the shortcomings in their editorial processes. It's a Christmas miracle!
UPDATE 2: Here's a screenshot of the original Ynet article (via Google cache) with with the AP references.
NewsBusters Begs MSM To Attack Huckabee Topic: NewsBusters
Here's a twist: A NewsBusters blogger is begging the media to attack a conservative.
A Dec. 23 post by John Stephenson notes a report that Mike Huckabee received a $35,000 consulting fee from "an embryonic stem cell research group," then asks, "I've been curious as to why no major MSM outlet has picked up on this? I wonder if Tim Russert will ask something about it on Meet the Press?" Stephenson adds: "So how will this make his social defenders feel? Will they look elsewhere? This news so far isn't registering in the MSM. Will it be ignored as if he is the media darling?"
We don't know. We want to know why NewsBusters is trying to put the brakes on Huckabee's surge in the polls. And we wonder: If and when "the MSM" does pick up on this story, will NewsBusters bash said MSM for going negative on a conservative?
UPDATE: In a similar vein, a Dec. 25 post by Mark Finkelstein, rather than showing outrage over an attack on a Republican presidential candidate, actually praises the Politico for offering "some snarky fun" with a "populist pop quiz" that challenges readers "to guess whether it was John Edwards or Mike Huckabee who made the variety of class-warfare claims listed."
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.