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Friday, February 8, 2008
Kessler: From McCain Basher to McCain Fluffer
Topic: Newsmax

Wow, that didn't take long.

It was just five days ago that Ronald Kessler used his Newsmax column to uncritically forward attacks on John McCain, calling him a flip-flopper," largely a creation of the media," "as liberal as a Democrat on many key domestic issues" and a candidate who "owes his victory to the New York Times and the Washington Post."

All is forgiven. Now that McCain is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee -- and, more importantly, now that his favorite fluffee, Mitt Romney, has dropped out of the race -- Kessler turns a 180 (flip-flops, if you will) and wholeheartedly embraces McCain. His Feb. 8 column begins: "John McCain made a sale at the Conservative Political Action Conference."

Kessler continued his fickle fluffing:

What was impressive about McCain’s speech was its sincerity.


He did not claim he would change his positions. He did not try to rewrite his own record, as he has in the past. He said he would listen to what conservatives have to say, and while he might change on some issues, he hoped they would understand if he does not. Finally, by avoiding specifics, the man in line to be the Republican candidate for president made common cause with conservatives.


McCain’s honest approach, coupled with the specter of what would happen if a Democrat became president, were enough to convince the leaders I talked with at CPAC’s VIP reception and elsewhere to support McCain.

Mentions of McCain's supposedly liberal views and affinity for the "mainstream media" are barely touched on. There's no mention at all of McCain's nasty temper, which Kessler has harped on previously. Even David Keene of the American Conservative Union, whose McCain bashing Kessler channeled three days earlier, professed his conversion to Kessler: "I think he approached it in the right way. He didn’t sound phony, he recognized problems, he basically said let’s talk, let’s see if we can’t work our problems out."

Because Kessler apparen't couldn't pass up the opportunity, he gets in one last bit of post-mortem Romney-fluffing for old times' sake. He claimed that Romney's "biggest problem was that he had to run both against his opponents and the mainstream media" and that "few stories mention that he is both a Harvard Law School and a Harvard Business School graduate," and suggested that Romney's choice of CPAC as his dropping-out venue echoed Ronald Reagan.

Kessler also stated that "Romney was the overwhelming favorite of conservatives and especially of strong conservatives." Guess we know what Kessler is now, don't we?

By contrast, fellow Newsmax columnist John LeBoutillier isn't quite so eager to give up his McCain-hating ways, declaring in a Feb. 8 column that "the damage Bush has done to the nation, the military and to the Republican Party will take decades to recover from" and that "Republicans — barring a miracle between now and the September GOP convention in Minneapolis — have picked yet another candidate with the exact same qualities!"

Posted by Terry K. at 3:34 PM EST
Unruh Repeats Anti-Gay Lies About California Law
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 7 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh keeps up his tradition of distorting to the point of falsehood a California law aimed at offering some protection for gays.

Unruh claimed that SB 777 "requires only positive portrayals of homosexual, bisexual, transgender and other alternative lifestyle choices." That is false. As we've detailed, SB 777 adds sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination laws as they apply to schools and requires that schools don't present material that "promotes a discriminatory bias" against those groups covered under the anti-discrimination clause.

Unruh also claimed that SB 777 "effectively banned 'mom' and 'dad' from California schools." He then contradicts himself, as he has done before, noting that "the law is not a list of banned words, including 'mom' and 'dad.'" As he has done before, Unruh allows opponents of the law to paint it in misleading, alarmist terms without allowing supporters of the law to speak or even quoting the law itself. Unruh further offers no factual basis for the opponents' alarmist claims.

As we've noted, Unruh worked for the Associated Press for nearly 30 years before joining WND, and would never have gotten away with the biased reporting he has cranked out for WND had he submitted it to the AP.

While WND has never had particularly high journalistic standards, the fact that a former AP reporter has sunk so low as to peddle such egregiously biased tripe demonstrates that real journalism no longer matters there (if it ever did), and it's agenda uber alles. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:21 AM EST
'Bush's Mexican Truck Babe'?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The teaser headline for a Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily article was this:



The "Mexican truck babe" is Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters. Nowhere in the article does Jerome Corsi call her that.

This sort of inventing things out of whole cloth -- with the twist here of being needlessly disrespectful and insensitive -- is just another example of the rapidly declining journalistic standards at WND. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:05 AM EST
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2008 1:06 AM EST
Thursday, February 7, 2008
CNS Ignores Full Story of GOP Earmarks

A Feb. 7 article by Susan Jones states that "House Republican leaders say they are disappointed that Democrats have rejected a Republican call for an immediate moratorium on taxpayer-funded earmarks (also known as pork-barrel projects or wasteful spending)."  Jones further paraphrased House Minority Whip Roy Blunt as saying that "it's clear that Democrats lack both the will and the appetite to work with Repubicans on an immediate earmark moratorium."

But nowhere does Jones note the Republicans' record on earmarks: As the Politico reported (h/t Media Matters), the Democratic-controlled Congress in 2007 actually approved fewer earmarks than Republican-controlled Congress did in 2006. Further, according to the Politico, while House Republicans have "become the most vocal critics of earmarks," the House Republican conference "blocked a proposal by its leaders to stop seeking earmarks" when the party was in power.

The Jones story follows in CNS' pattern of selective outrage over earmarks; as we noted, a pair of Jan. 24 articles by Lucas criticized earmarks related only to Hillary Clinton -- even suggesting backroom deals that he doesn't prove -- although Republican congressmen who are running for president have also inserted earmarks into federal spending bills.

CNS has noted the Republicans' record on earmarks before, however. A Jan. 28 article by Fred Lucas reported that "Bush never earned a reputation for fiscal prudence, having signed most of the heavy pork appropriations bills sent to him by the Republican-controlled Congress."

Posted by Terry K. at 5:43 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 3:18 PM EST
Romney Gone, Kessler Peddles Anonymous Hillary Smears
Topic: Newsmax
Now this favorite fluffee has dropped out of the presidential race, and it's best that he stops bashing the presumptive Republican nominee -- as his co-workers must now do -- Newsmax's Ronald Kessler has decided to peddle anonymous smears of Hillary.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:35 PM EST
WND's Unruh Keeps Up Anti-Gay Slant
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Bob Unruh keeps up his misleading claims in service of his anti-gay agenda in a Feb. 6 article about a lawsuit against a sex education curriculum in the Montgomery County, Maryland, school district.

Unruh claimed that the curriculum "teaches students homosexuality is innate." But he doesn't tell the full context in which the reference appears -- as a Washington Post article noted, the judge who ruled to uphold the curriculum "said the school board's use of the term 'innate' was defensible, noting that it was couched in a much broader definition of factors that determine sexual orientation."

Curiously, Unruh does not use the word "conservative" anywhere in his article; he describes the Thomas More Law Center, which brought the lawsuit against the school district, only as a group "whose work is funded by donations," even though its causes -- "abortion, pornography, school prayer, and the removal of the Ten Commandments from municipal and school buildings" -- are indisputably conservative.

In keeping with the pattern of his WND reporting, Unruh quotes opponents of the curriculum at length but keeping statements attributed to supporters or school officials to a bare minimum, and he makes no apparent effort to contact school officials to give them the opportunity to respond to the opponents' claims.

Bizarrely, Unruh attributes information in the article to "the Portland, Ore., Examiner." Why is Unruh using an Oregon website for information about a story in Maryland? In fact, there is no such publication as the Portland Examiner; the Portland website is merely a city-themed portal -- of which there are many -- for Examiner newspapers that are located only in San Francisco, Washington and Baltimore.

The Examiner article from which Unruh apparently cribbed doesn't go into much detail about the "innate" question, but it points out what Unruh didn't -- that the lawsuit was brought by "a group of Christian conservatives." While Unruh pulled the more inflammatory quote from a member of the school board saying, "To the other side, I say get out of town, shut up, quit costing Montgomery County taxpayers money for litigation, and we're right and parents believe we're right," he doesn't acknowledge the school board member's other statement, that the opponents "speak for a minority. ... Many do not even live in the county."

(Updated to reflect Unruh's inclusion of the more inflammatory of the school board member's quotes.)

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2008 5:56 PM EST
Finkelstein Hates Huckabee, Loves Romney
Topic: NewsBusters

It's not on the scale of Warner Todd Huston's sycophancy for Fred Thompson, but Mark Finkelstein has let us know who he supports, and who he doesn't, for president.

A Feb. 6 NewsBusters post bashed Mike Huckabee:

Well surprise, surprise!

He danced the complete Kabuki, right down to the mandatory move about considering John McCain for his VP slot. But at the end of the day, Mike Huckabee has admitted the obvious: he'll take the Veep nomination if John McCain offers it.

A little later, Finkelstein followed up:

Mike Huckabee won five races last night. Mitt Romney won seven. Mike Huckabee has 190 delegates. Mitt Romney has 269 [see results here]. The only closed Deep South state left on the primary calendar is Mississippi. Romney has the message and money to compete across the USA.

As a commenter noted in Finkelstein's first post: "What does this have to do with media bias? When did this site turn into the Romney propoganda site?"

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EST
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Sheppard Retains Ability to Be Shocked by Non-Shocking Event
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 6 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard declares that the New York Times has done the "almost unthinkable" by printing a "surprisingly skeptical piece concerning man's role in the liberal bogeyman known as global warming" by John Tierney.

But as we pointed out the last time Sheppard did this (when he called a Tierney column "shocking"), Tierney is a conservative; thus, it's unsurprising that he would take the same denier point of view associated with conservatives such as Sheppard. Further, Sheppard continues to be unfamilar with the idea that newspapers like the Times regularly publish multiple points of view on a given subject -- unlike, say, NewsBusters.

And on a related note, not a peep from Sheppard thus far on our challenge to him to back up his claim that Al Gore is a global warming activist only for the money.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:51 PM EST
Morris Admits He Hates Hillary -- in Public!
Topic: Newsmax

Dick Morris reminds us why he should not be taken seriously as an impartial political analyst in a Feb. 6 Newsmax video:

ASHLEY MARTELLA (host): And on the line with us right now, one of the nation's most prominent political analysts, Dick Morris. Dick, thanks for joining us.

MORRIS: Well, good to be here, actually. I wish it were under better circumstances. I wish we could be declaring Hillary's political obituary, but I guess not.

MARTELLA: You've been pulling for that. Even with all your magic, it's kind of hard to do.

As we've repeatedly noted, Morris all too rarely discloses his anti-Hillary activism.

UPDATE: Adds Newsmax host's name.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:53 PM EST
Updated: Friday, February 8, 2008 1:58 PM EST
New Article: Noel Sheppard's Very Convenient Lie
Topic: NewsBusters
The NewsBusters blogger has repeatedly asserted -- without any real evidence -- that Al Gore is only in global warming activism for the money. Will he put up or shut up? Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 9:18 AM EST
AIM Misrepresents Hillary Photo
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In a Feb. 5 Accuracy in Media column, Jerry Zeifman writes:

I have just seen Hillary Clinton and her former Yale law professor both in tears at a campaign rally here in my home state of Connecticut. Her tearful professor said how proud he was that his former student was likely to become our next President. Hillary responded in tears.

Zeifman, in fact, did not see this. As Media Matters detailed, the photo Zeifman supplied of Clinton purportedly "in tears" was not taken during the introduction by her "tearful professor," as a video of the introduction demonstrates. The original Associated Press caption on the photo described Clinton as "wiping her eye and sipping water to get her cough under control" -- not crying during the introduction.

Hey, guys, you're called Accuracy in Media. Try it sometime. 

We've previously documented Zeifman taking refuge in his claimed status as a "life-long Democrat" -- a claim he makes here as well -- to attack other Democrats.)

Posted by Terry K. at 9:09 AM EST
Huston's Mean Streak
Topic: NewsBusters

Warner Todd Huston calls John Mellencamp "filled with hate" in a Feb. 5 NewsBusters post, but it appears that Huston is the hateful one.

Huston snidely calls him "Johnny Cougar" twice, never mind that Mellencamp hasn't called himself that in, oh, 30 years or so. He also throws in a gratuitous slam at Rolling Stone magazine: "I'm always surprised that anyone who works at Rolling Stone is able to come out of their drug induced stupor long enough to even peck out their little "news" stories on their munchies encrusted keyboards, myself."

Gee, project much, Warner? 

Meanwhile, Tim Graham is complaining about Time's Ana Marie Cox making a "cheap shot" against Rush Limbaugh.  Maybe she was inspired by Huston...

Posted by Terry K. at 12:34 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2008 12:41 AM EST
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
WND Still Misleads on Lawsuit
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 5 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh about the libel lawsuit against it by Tennessee businessman Clark Jones repeats (without credit, of course) some of the news we first reported months ago, then goes downhill and self-serving from there.

Unruh notes that the lawsuit is scheduled for trial in March and concedes that the articles by Charles C. Thompson II and Tony Hays that drew the lawsuit were "researched and [written] under the sponsorship of the Center for Public Integrity" -- things we first reported last November, and which WND has never reported until now.

Unruh then turns the article into a self-serving exercise -- telling only WND's side of the story, painting WND as a First Amendment martyr and focusing narrowly on the side issue of identifying confidential sources when the main claim of Jones' lawsuit is libel. Indeed, Unruh recites the claims WND made against Jones -- that he was a "suspected drug dealer" who "reportedly intervened in a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into narcotics trafficking" -- without even bothering to note, as it has previously, that Jones has denied the claim.

Further, Jones does not mention, as we detailed, the claims of shoddy journalism against Thompson and Hays -- that the reporters declined Jones' request to have a court reporter present during their interview and that Jones has submitted expert testimony that claimed the articles, in the words of one expert, "grossly violated the basic standards of care advocated by professional journalism organizations and practice in reputable newsrooms."

Unruh is equally uncurious about what he does report as well; he noted that WND "does not even know the identity of confidential sources used by the reporters" without offering an explanation why that is the case. Indeed, as we noted, court documents show that WND apparently did no fact-checking on Thompson and Hays' articles -- which makes it difficult for WND to claim the truth as a defense when it can't say with any certainty what the truth is.

This article would seem to demostrate that WND remains tolerant of the type of biased, shoddy reporting that resulted in Jones' lawsuit in the first place.

It's also worth noting that WND has never posted any legal documents on its website or any other evidence that would support claims made in its articles about the lawsuit. However, we have, so judge for yourself.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:03 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2008 3:12 PM EST
Kinsolving Compares Newspaper Apples, Oranges
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 5 WorldNetDaily column by Les Kinsolving takes a certain amount of glee in the fact that the "strongly liberal" Washington Post is losing circulation:

So what is the Post doing about this precipitous loss in circulation and income?

Are you sitting down?

They are raising this price of each copy of the paper from 35 to 50 cents.

This despite the fact that a new daily newspaper competitor. the Examiner, is delivered at homes and available in street boxes – for free.

The Post in this story, "Post newsstand price going up to 50 cents," did not mention this free competing daily – or the fact that the Washington Times still retains its 25 cent price – as well as a smaller but hardly sinking number of avid readers, particularly on Capitol Hill.

Kinsolving adds: "I would suggest that both of these Old Big Media giants [the Post and the New York Times] might, before they lose a quarter million more in circulation, consider some ideological emulation of the conservative New York Post – one of the very very few daily newspapers that recently reported an increase in circulation."

But Kinsolving ignores the fact that the Washington Times and the New York Post are working off of a different economic model than the Washington Post and the New York Times. As we've noted, the WashTimes and the NY Post are perennial money-losers kept in business only by the deep pockets of their conservative billionaire owners. They are not competing in an open business market, while the WaPo and the NYT are -- which tells us that conservative newspaper journalism is not a smart business move. If the Washington Times were actually in the newspaper business to make a profit, it would not still be 25 cents a copy.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:11 PM EST
Will WND Get Its Facts Right on Leprosy?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The new issue of WorldNetDaily's Whistleblower magazine has the theme, "The New Plagues," in which "self-destructive 'alternative lifestyles'" and "out-of-control immigration" are blamed for "long-'vanquished' illnesses [that] are once again ravaging the U.S., puzzling scientists and terrifying millions of victims and their loved ones." Will WND get its facts straight on the issue?

We suspect not. Among the topics covered:

Leprosy, the contagious skin disease evoking thoughts of biblical and medieval times, is now making its mark in the United States, and many believe the influx of illegal aliens is the main factor.

As we detailed, in 2005 WND repeated the false claim -- first made by Madeleine Cosman in an anti-immigrant screed masquerading as a "scientific" article in the conservative Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons -- that more than 7,000 cases of leprosy were reported in the United States in "the previous three years"; in fact, that number is for the past 30 years. WND rehashed the claim in another 2005 article. Given that WND has never bothered to correct that information, it's likely that it has seeped into Whistleblower as well.

The magazine also lists the following article:

 "Chicken-plant workers test 'positive' for TB" – revealing that while 212 out of 765 processing employees were infected, the company said HIV-privacy laws prohibit screening

This is apparently a rehash of a November 2007 WND article. Despite its suggestion that illegal immigrants are responsible for the outbreak -- as we noted wen David Horowitz's Discover the Networks used this article to make that claim -- buried far down is the note that, according to a spokesman for the plant, "despite the large number of foreign-born Hispanic employees working at the Decatur facility, all have been verified as legally working in the U.S."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:52 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2008 1:00 AM EST

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