WND Again Tiptoes Into Letting Others Criticize It Topic: WorldNetDaily
For the second time in the past few months, WorldNetDaily has printed a letter in which its reporting skills are questioned. While the earlier criticism was unusual in that it was substantive (though appeared only in its letters section and was deleted after a week), the new criticism appears as the Jan. 4 "letter of the week," though it falls into its usual approach of painting its most extreme critics as representative of all its critics. (Evidence: WND has all but refused to publicly acknowlege anything we've documented.)
The subject was the new issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine, with the subject of "Witchcraft in America." The author of the criticism, "Dr. Ivy," unfortunately undercuts her credibility by beginning her letter by recounting her pagan and Wiccan credentials. Front-loading that allows her to be dismissed as a nut (and a pagan one, too!) in the minds of WND's target audience. Indeed, a letter posted Jan. 5 (letters cycle out after a week) stated that the list of credentials "had me literally rolling on the floor with laughter."
Once that's out of the way, though, Dr. Ivy accurately portrays WND's modus operandi, proclaiming the Whistleblower witchcraft issue as the product of "little minds who did no insightful research on the subject, nor spoke with any of the leading, and often times more public, high priestesses or high priests, much less spoke with any of the reputable leaders of the several schools of Wicca in just the United States alone." Dr. Ivy continues:
I could go on and on with this diatribe, but I already "suspect" that you've made up your mind for the sole purpose of "sensationalism" and making money by propagating outright falsehoods, and have already "turned" your attention away from this letter before even reaching this point.
IF, and that's a very big "if," on the other hand, you recognize that your presentation regarding Wicca is lacking in validity and is heavily weighted with falsehoods and absolute inaccuracies against this "belief," than, if you should wish, you may contact me or any nationally recognized leader of Wicca. I'm certain that every reasonable effort would be made to "correct" the absolutely horrid inaccuracies presented in the article that you published.
However, at the risk of offending you and your supposed "staff," I doubt that you have the wherewithal and integrity to attempt any such contact, much less making an admittance to having presented an inaccurate "picture" of Wicca and making apologies for such offense.
It's true that WND cares little about accuracy and fairness when there's an agenda to push, as we've copiouslydocumented. It's all too likely that, given WND's track record, this issue of Whistleblower is dedicated only to bashing witchcraft and paganism, cherry-picks quotes in order to make it look bad, and offers no one in the movement a fair opportunity to respond.
It's more than likely that Dr. Ivy's letter is the end of contrary views WND will publish on the subject -- and all but certain that WND will never publicly address the shortcomings in its reporting.
Why Won't Farah Address WND's Hiring of Matt Sanchez? Topic: WorldNetDaily
In his Jan. 5 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah attacks Mitt Romney for supporting "special government-created rights based on sexual behavior or proclivities." Farah argues that "Christian employer[s]" must be allowed to fire employees who engage in such behavior: "Somehow, Romney defines laws like this as expansions of freedom. I define them as strict new state control over your property rights and heinous violations of your morality."
Which raises the question: Why is Matt Sanchez still employed by WorldNetDaily?
After all, as we've detailed, Sanchez is an admitted gay porn actor and suspected male escort -- the kind of "sexual behavior or proclivities" of which Farah is presumably intolerant. Yet Sanchez is currently employed as WND's Iraq correspondent. Why is that? Why did Farah, as a "Christian employer," lower his moral standards to hire Sanchez? Did Sanchez's pro-war views trump misgivings about his personal morality?
Surely a moral man, as Farah claims to be, would give his readers an honest answer to that question -- yet he has not in the four and a half months that Sanchez has worked for WND. Why?
Newsmax writers took stabs at post-mortems on the Iowa caucuses -- mostly by trying out future attacks and more hysterical Hillary-bashing.
A Jan. 4 column by John LeBoutillier claimed that "A full 70 percent of her party is against" Hillary Clinton. Similarly, a Jan. 4 column by Lowell Ponte asserted that "71 percent — nearly three in four — of those participating in Iowa’s Democratic caucuses voted against her, an astonishing repudiation." Neither made a similar comparison about Republicans, i.e., that three in four Republicans voted against Mitt Romney.
Speaking of Romney, chief Newsmax Romney-fluffer Ronald Kessler weighed in with a sour-grapes column suggesting that Mike Huckabee's win over Romney was a "fluke" and that Romney "ran into a perfect storm arrayed against his candidacy." Kessler renewed his attacks on Huckabee, claiming that "Clearly, Iowa voters gave little thought to whether Huckabee could win the White House," adding that Romney isn't a flip-flopper: "Romney has made a clear change on only one issue."
Newsmax editor Christopher Ruddy, meanwhile, proclaimed Barack Obama "president-elect" (adding, "He will go on to win the nomination and the presidency on this issue, if Republicans don't wake up and smell the coffee") while also testing out attack lines we can expect Newsmax will put to use should Obama progress further in the race. He claimed that Obama "no doubt, placed calls" to "George Soros for all the behind-the-scenes help" and concluded: "We conservatives may also discover after the South Carolina primary that Mr. Obama is the likely Democratic nominee and that the "dreaded” Hillary has been replaced by the most left-wing Democratic nominee in memory." Look for more attacks like this if Obama's success continues.
AIM, Farah Heart Waterboarding Topic: Accuracy in Media
It must have been talking points handout week in the ConWeb, because two ConWeb outlets feel the need to proclaim that waterboarding is not torture.
A Jan. 2 WorldNetDaily column by Joseph Farah kicked it off, insisting that Americans are stupid:
Many Americans are simply confused about the real definition of torture. Since so little sacrifice is required of most Americans today and because so few have ever experienced combat, they equate momentary discomfort or fear with torture. They are not the same.
My definition of torture is simple: It involves physical or mental abuse that leaves lasting scars. Cutting off fingers, toes, limbs – that would be torture. Forcing prisoners to play Russian roulette – that would be torture. Sticking hot pokers in the eyes of prisoners – that would be torture.
But a few seconds of dripping water on a prisoner's face? That's not torture to me.
A Jan. 3 AIM Report spouts a remarkably similar line:
The word "torture," as groups like CCR bandy about the term, doesn't mean what most people think it means. It has become a politically loaded term that left-wingers associate with anything that makes an accused terrorist feel uncomfortable. One of the most objectionable procedures is said to be pouring water over the face of a suspected terrorist. It is a matter of opinion whether this practice, known as waterboarding, is torture or not. Calling it torture doesn't make it so.
Waterboarding doesn't leave any lasting physical or psychological damage, which is usually the mark of torture. And its use cannot necessarily be considered a violation of the Constitution, U.S. laws or U.N. treaties. It has reportedly been successful in forcing confessions of terrorist plots.
As we've previously noted, there is evidence that waterboarding can, in fact, result in "lasting physical or psychological damage," in Kincaid's words. As we've also noted, the results gained from waterboarding have been questioned.
The AIM Report also stated that, quoting author Jack Goldsmith, the Clinton Justice Department "signed off on the CIA's original rendition program of snatching people from one country and taking them to another for questioning, trial, and punishment." That ignores the full story; as the New York Times reported (via Media Matters), renditions were carried out under much more restrictive rules before 9/11 than after it under the Bush administration. For instance, under the original rules, the transfers of individual prisoners required review and approval by interagency groups led by the White House, and were usually authorized to bring prisoners to the United States or to other countries to face criminal charges. Meanwhile, under Bush, the CIA has been authorized to transfer prisoners to other countries solely for the purpose of detention and interrogation.
CNS Splits Huckabee Criticism, Response Into Two Articles Topic: CNSNews.com
Two Jan. 4 CNSNews.com articles by Susan Jones could -- and perhaps should -- have been combined into one since they weigh in on the same subject.
The first article puts an attack on Mike Huckabee by conservative actvist Richard Viguerie in its headline: "Huckabee Described As 'Christian Socialist'." Jones adds criticism by Rush Limbaugh that Huckabee isn't conservative.
But rather than giving Huckabee space in that article to respond, it's shunted off to a separate article, in which he responds to "Rush Limbaugh's comments that Huckabee is not a true Ronald Reagan conservative." The articles do not link to each other or otherwise acknowledge that there are both details of the criticism and a detailed response from Huckabee.
It's an odd way of handling the story and not helpful to readers. CNS otherwise had been doing an generally better job of offering fairer and more balanced journalism since we called it out on its bias a couple months ago.
Kincaid Embraces Faulty Hannity Attack on Hillary Topic: Accuracy in Media
In the "Cliff's Notes" section of the Jan. 3 "AIM Report," Cliff Kincaid "salute[d]" Fox News' Sean Hannity "for having the courage to tackle this controversy" of "Hillary’s work in a communist law firm" last month on his show "Hannity's America." But as Media Matters points out, Hannity incompletely used the reporting of the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein on the issue, omitting excupatory evidence and balance that Gerstein included.
After noting Gerstein's claim that "To the former first lady’s enemies and political opponents, her summer at the Treuhaft firm is yet another indication that radical ideology lurks beneath the patina of moderation she has adopted in public life," Kincaid then demonstrated himself to be an enemy of Hillary by begging Republican presidential candidates to throw the issue at Hillary: "Will Republicans now tackle it? And will the Fox News Channel, as it drifts to the left, return to the issue?"
And we thought Accuracy in Media was all about, you know, accuracy in media. And we thought AIM was a nonprofit organization that isn't allowed to take positions on political candidates.
Warner Todd Huston spent an entire Jan. 3 NewsBusters post berating Reuters for getting the name of the Wiesenthal Center wrong.
But does a guy who regularly mislabels conservative newspapers as liberal and repeatedly called a guy named Mark "Mikey" have any room to complain about the factual errors of others? We would suggest not.
Remember how WorldNetDaily engaged in some slightly shady techniques to promote David Kupelian's book "The Marketing of Evil"? They're still at it. A Jan. 3 WND article promoting the book begins this way:
The message in "The Marketing of Evil" by David Kupelian certainly has attracted its share of venom, including an unsigned comment, "Will you do me a favor and kill yourself?" and another from Ryan, "I'm SO VERY GLAD I'm not you! Get hit by a bus, please!"
But the article never states where these purported comments came from or offers any evidence that they were not made up by WND marketers. Given that the item is packaged to look like a WND "news" article, one expects a higher standard than repeating (if that's what they're doing) unverified comments.
And apparently to demonstrate that it's not above pushing its own brand of venom, the article adds a rebuttal it claims was taken from the book's page on Amazon.com: "This book surely is like holy water dashed on vampires. The vampires being the undead leftists sucking the morality out of humanity like blood. If you hate truth, you will not comprehend this book. If you love it, this book is a must read."
But as we've noted, Kupelian has a somewhat shaky relationship with the truth. In addition to violating journalism ethics standards in turning a story into a blatant promotion for the book, Kupelian used "The Marketing of Evil" to repeat claims about sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (taken from rabid anti-Kinsey activist Judith Reisman) that are either distorted or false.
Further, the headline of the article calls Kupelian a "best-selling author" even though no evidence offered of "The Marketing of Evil" being a best-seller anywhere but at the WND bookstore -- and even then, the proof is suspect. The article states that Kupelian's book "was selected to head the Top Ten list this week at Shop.WND.com." Not that it is the best-seller; it was "selected to head the Top Ten list." By whom?
Here's yet another difference between our employer and those other guys.
In a Jan. 1 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham asserted that the Washington Post's Dana Milbank "claim[ed] improbably" that "The press will savage [Hillary Clinton] no matter what, pretty much." Graham cited only three examples to counter Milbank's claim, insisting that "It simply does not matter how many times Hillary Clinton gets tea and sugar cubes from Cynthia McFadden on ABC, or supportive see-her-website publicity from CNN’s Candy Crowley, or how many reporters are cued to ask her what makes her tear up."
Meanwhile, in noting the same Milbank comment, Media Matters points out that among those who have "savage[d]" Hillary is Milbank himself.
Further, as we noted, a study by one of the MRC's favorite conservative-leaning researchers, the Center for Media and Public Affairs, found that the majority of Hillary coverage on TV news has been negative. Graham doesn't say a thing about that.
UPDATE: Greg Sargent notes yet another incident of press hostility toward Hillary.
A Dec. 31 Newsmax column by Ronald Kessler touting "another year without a terrorist attack" rehashes false and misleading attacks on "the media and liberal politicians" he has previously made.
When the FBI foiled a plot to blow up John F. Kennedy International Airport in June 2007, the New York Times buried the story on page A37 of its final edition. In the dream world of the editors of the New York Times, such threats to America are far less important than the fact that 75-year-old Andrea Mosconi has a job of playing violins in a museum in Italy to keep them in shape, a feature which the Times played on page one the same day.
Kessler ignores the full story. As Times public editor Clark Hoyt noted, "the accused men were a long way from action and that despite the apocalyptic comments of the U.S. attorney, their ability to carry out an attack on the airport was very much open to question," which is what Times editors cited for putting the story inside, as well as being "mindful of a history in which terrorism cases have been blown out of proportion."
Kessler also states that "The USA Patriot Act has torn down the so-called wall imposed by Attorney General Janet Reno, a wall that prevented FBI agents from sharing information with each other and with the CIA." But as we've previously noted, the "wall" between the FBI and CIA was originally erected in 1978 and renewed in August 2001 under Republican Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Further, Kessler claims that "presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama last August voted against revising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow NSA to continue to monitor calls by foreign terrorists without a warrant even if all parties are situated overseas." As we detailed the last time Kessler did this, Clinton, Obama, and other Democrats who opposed the bill did not do so because they opposed revising FISA in the manner Kessler wanted; rather, the main point of contention was court oversight of the warrantless wiretapping program. Democrats wanted meaningful court oversight; Republicans didn't. Kessler mentions nothing about the court oversight controversy.
Speaking of Rewriting History ... Topic: NewsBusters
In a Dec. 31 NewsBusters post, Seton Motley attempts a revisionist version of the Iran-Contra affair, as seen through the eyes of the film "Clear and Present Danger," the plot of which he insists isn't directly comparable to Iran-Contra. He goes on to bash "liberal historian[s]" for making that comparison, then adds:
Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan gets to the bottom of it and at the film's close begins his blockbuster testimony before Congress. After which we are sure a great many members of the fictitious Administration, including the President, would be soon thereafter frog-marched in shackles out of the White House -- as they were shown throughout the film to be clearly guilty.
By contrast, the Iran-Contra affair occurred, in actuality and not on a Hollywood lot, during the Ronald Reagan Administration. In which outmoded and outdated weapons were sold to Iran, with the proceeds therefrom going to fund Contra rebels fighting the Communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
‘Twas at the time a titanic scandal, at least according to Congressional Democrats and the media. But after seven years of thorough, partisan investigation, Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh ended up with a grand total of zero (0) upheld convictions. Meaning try as he might, Walsh could not prove any actual wrongdoing was committed by anyone.
In fact, according to Lawrence Walsh's Iran-Contra report, the sentences of Richard Secord (making false statements to Congress), Carl Channell (conspiracy to defraud the United States) and Thomas Clines (underreporting his earnings to the IRS) appear to have been upheld and served.
Further, the reasons other convictions were not upheld had little to do with failing to prove "any actual wrongdoing." As the Walsh report details, most principals were pardoned -- some even before being sentenced -- and those whose sentences were overturned, such as Oliver North and John Poindexter, were not done for lack of proof but, rather, because there were questions about the use of immunized testimony.
Looks like there was plenty of "actual wrongdoing" proven by Walsh. Will Motley correct himself?
CNS' Jeffrey Channels WND's Hatred of Public Schools Topic: CNSNews.com
The questions asked of Mike Huckabee in a Dec. 28 CNSNews.com interview by editor in chief Terry Jeffrey demonstrated an anti-public education bias we've typically seen at WorldNetDaily. Here are some of Jeffrey's questions:
Can you point to the language in the U.S. Constitution that authorizes the federal government to have a Department of Education or be involved in primary and secondary education?
But in principle, you agree with President Reagan that the Department of Education is unconstitutional and the federal government really shouldn't be involved in primary and secondary education?
Do you think that No Child Left Behind Act is constitutional?
Let me ask you a question of basic fairness: All across America, there are working and middle class families, where sometimes both the mother and father are working, and a lot of times the mother is going into the workforce precisely because she wants to make the tuition money to send her child to a religious school, because she doesn't like the moral climate in the public school. She doesn't like what they teach about sex education, for example. She doesn't like what they teach about alternative lifestyles, for example. She thinks, in fact, the parents in fact believe, that the public school is a source of moral corruption for their child. Therefore, they feel that they have a moral duty to do everything they can to liberate that child from that public school and put that child in a learning environment where the teachers and the school administration share their moral vision. So, they scrape and they sacrifice and they save and they just get by, and they drive an old car, and they live in a smaller house, and they just get by on their mortgage, and then that family is not only taxed local property and income taxes to support the public schools that they will not patronize, but they are now taxed by the federal government to support a $70 billion federal Department Education that also supports that local public school. Do you think that's fair to that family?
You don't believe that public schools in America often try to indoctrinate children with a different value system than their parents are trying to teach them at home?
Governor, our whole system of government is based on an understanding of natural law that comes from God. The Declaration of Independence says that our rights are inalienable and we are endowed with them by our Creator. Shouldn't our public schools at least recognize that there is a God, and that our rights come from God, and that the ultimate source of our law is God?
Jeffrey also does some strange parsing, alternately referring to "parochial school or a Christian school" and "Christian schools, and Catholic schools" (in context, Jeffrey appears to be equating "parochial" with "Catholic"). Does he not think Catholics are Christian? That's an attitude we've seen at WND, too.
Sheppard, Newsmax Shocked by Non-Shocking Event Topic: NewsBusters
In a Jan. 1 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard expressed his purported shock that "the New York Times of all entities published a rather shocking piece pointing fingers at folks like Nobel Laureate Al Gore for being part of a group of 'activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists who selectively monitor the globe looking for newsworthy evidence of a new form of sinfulness, burning fossil fuels.'" Sheppard effused further: "Checking that link to make sure it really goes to a Times piece? I understand, I've checked it about nine times, and I still don't believe it." He finally concludes: "After all, it will truly be a happy new year if newspapers like the Times regularly publish articles tearing to shreds the deceptions fostered by Gore and his sycophants."
Newsmax was somewhat more professional about its purported shock in a Jan. 1 article, calling it "clear evidence that the climate of opinion on alleged global warming is shifting in favor of skeptics, especially since it comes from the New York Times, until now a fervent acolyte of climate change guru Al Gore and his doctrine of ongoing and disastrous climate change."
While both Sheppard and Newsmax note that the Jan. 1 Times article in question was written by Times columnist John Tierney (though Sheppard refers to him only as an "author" and buries his identity far down in his post), neither bother to mention one pertinent piece of information: Tierney is a conservative, and it's therefore unsurprising that he would take the same denier point of view associated with conservatives such as Sheppard and Newsmax.
Nor do Sheppard and Newsmax seem aware that newspapers like the Times regularly publish multiple points of view on a given subject -- which is more than can usually be said about NewsBusters or Newsmax. They might want to try it sometime.
WND Ignores Pyramid Scheme Aspect of 'Liberty Dollars' Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily has published four articles on the raid of a company that issued "Liberty Dollars," an alternative form of currency -- on Nov. 16, Nov. 17, Dec. 1, and Dec. 27. All of these articles have several things in common -- they copoiously quote Liberty Dollar officials and supporters, they limit response to federal officials on the raid to pointing out their opposition to alternative currency (WND hates the Federal Reserve, so this unfairness is unsurprising), and they ignore one key component of the feds' case against the Liberty Dollar.
As the affidavit supporting the raid and seizure states (h/t Reason, David Neiwert), the folks behind the Liberty Dollar were essentially running the enterprise as a "multi-level marketing scheme," giving the company and its associates a profit for putting the coins into circulation.
Rather than reporting that, WND does things like the Nov. 17 article by Bob Unruh, who quotes company founder Bernard von NotHaus at length and makes no apparent effort to contact federal officials to respond to Von NotHaus' claims (i.e., "Make no mistake, the FBI and Secret Service raid on the Liberty Dollar ... was a direct assault against the U.S. Constitution and your right to own and use gold and silver in any way you choose"). It's yet another example of unblanaced journalism by a reporter with a long history of it and who ought to know better.
Gore Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: NewsBusters
"In a year when a charlatan -- one that has done absolutely zip, zero, zilch to solve the various wars raging across the globe, several involving his native country -- can win a Nobel Peace Prize, nothing should come as a shock."
As an added bonus, later in the post Sheppard takes offense to a statement in a Dallas Morning News editorial declaring the illegal immigrant "Texan of the Year" that opposition to illegal immigration in part "derives from racist sentiment." Sheppard never bothers to actually disprove the statement -- perhaps because he can't -- so he instead fumes that "the issues of terrorism and national security in this piece were totally ignored."