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Friday, February 15, 2008
Help! Help! He's Being Repressed!
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler's idea of censorship: that his claims didn't get played with his spin.

From Kessler's Feb. 13 Newsmax column:

When FBI agent George Piro recently described debriefing Saddam Hussein for seven months after his capture, he disclosed that the Iraqi dictator admitted his intention to re-start his weapons of mass destruction program within a year.

That plan included developing nuclear weapons capability, according to Saddam.

The revelation should have hit Page One of every newspaper.

Why? Kessler answers: "It would have further justified President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, a key issue in the coming presidential election. But many in the mainstream media could not bear to hear that Bush may have done something right." 

Plus, since this little revelation first appeared in Kessler's recently published book, he would have benefitted from the sales bump. 

What's missing here is any mention of whether Saddam had the capability to do what he intended. Intent is amorphous; everyone intends to do things. But did Saddam have the capability to do anything about his intentions? Kessler doesn't say.

Instead, Kessler whines that his little scoop didn't get blanket coverage in all media. He finally concludes:

Today, we have press censorship similar to what existed in the old Soviet Union, except the censors are journalists themselves, and it’s in reverse: News favorable to the government is suppressed.

Ironically, a day later, a Newsmax article trumpeted how "Newsmax.com has soared in Web traffic."

How, exactly, is Kessler being "suppressed" and censored? Indeed, Kessler has engaged in a bit of self-censorship of his own by reporting only flattering news about the Bush administration. (He probably should have engaged in a little self-censorship, though, when he was creepily fawning over Mitt Romney's wife).

And we can lay pretty good odds that if a Democrat wins the presidency later this year, Kessler will be whining shortly thereafter that "news unfavorable to the government is suppressed."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:49 AM EST
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Newsmax Promotes Someone Else's Meaningless Poll
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax likes to promote its own meaningless opt-in polls (as it did most recently on Feb. 7). Now it's promoting the opt-in polls of others. From a Feb. 13 article:

GodTube.com today announced that despite last night's sweeping victory for John McCain, a stunning new GodTube.com poll reveals that if McCain wins his party's nomination, Christian Conservatives would rather vote for one of the two Democratic candidates.

With a slim 9.1% support for McCain, and Huckabee a long shot for the nomination, Obama has become a viable choice for many Christian Conservatives with 26.3% of the Christian vote, up 8% from last week.

[...]

With religion taking center stage in this year's Presidential election, the GodTube.com (http://www.godtube.com/election), is voted upon by registered users and received more than 40,000 votes within the first week and the number of participants continues to grow with an astounding 11,075 new voters registered this week. GodTube.com is utilizing internet survey techniques to ensure fairness and only includes the leading primary candidates.

To translate that last paragraph: It's an opt-in poll that reflects only the opinions of GodTube users, not "Christian Conservatives" as a whole as it claims. The reference to "internet survey techniques to ensure fairness" appears to be little more than a limit on the number of times a person can vote; as a note on the GodTube election page states, "Votes are limited to ensure quality." There's no indication of what the limit is or how it is limited (login, email, IP address, etc.).

Like Newsmax's poll, the GodTube poll is non-scientific because it is opt-in. Therefore, it has no real applicability outside of the people who chose to participate in it.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:49 PM EST
Graham Obscures Matthews' Non-Liberal Streak
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 14 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham looks at a Washington Post profile of Chris Matthews, kicking off by claiming that Matthews' assertion that the Bush administration has "finally been caught in their criminality" was evidence of "how frankly Matthews dislikes Team Bush." As we noted the first time the NewsBusters crew got their collective knickers in a twist over this, Matthews' statement is not an inaccurate one.

Graham rather quickly glosses over the article's chronicling of "harsh Matthews comments about Hillary" to relate that Matthews' wife has donated to Hillary Clinton's campaign, adding: "This might help people conclude that there's more than sheer emotion when Matthews starts comparing Bill Clinton to Jesus." But Graham fails to note that the article also said this:

Matthews is a Roman Catholic with a strong moralistic streak, which became clear in his constant denunciations of Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair.

"I spent a year going after Clinton because he just wasn't straight with the American people. He used the presidency to protect himself," Matthews says.

Graham should know about this because the MRC promoted Matthews' attacks on Clinton at the time. Still, Graham complained that the article "professed that Matthews isn't easily identified, although many conservatives would disagree."


Posted by Terry K. at 2:27 PM EST
Evidence, Please
Topic: CNSNews.com

A Feb. 14 CNSNews.com article by Evan Moore notes the 10th anniversary of "the controversial Eve Ensler play, 'The Vagina Monologues,'" adding that "conservatives have decried it as a crude production that degrades women -- the exact opposite of what Ensler intended." And indeed, Moore quotes conservatives saying just that. But nowhere does Moore or any of the conservatives he quotes cite any specific content of the play that puroprtedly "degrades women."

Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America is quoted as saying that the play "is intended to push the envelope, and the way it pushes the envelope is by degrading women." Wright again claims the play "egrades and demeans women" and adds, "The role of the feminist movement was to ensure that women were judged by their merits, their capabilities, their experience. Yet 'The Vagina Monologues' reduces women to their private parts, as if that's the only thing that matters." No specifics are given.

Allison Kasic, director of collegiate studies at the Independent Women's Forum, is quoted as saying, "The play is blatantly anti-male [and] glorifies promiscuous behavior ... [This] is not empowering but actually demeans women." But Casic never cites any specific dialogue from the play other than noting that there is "someone on stage yelling 'c--- over and over again."

While Moore quotes supporters of the play, he apparently did not give them an opportunity to respond to Wright's and Kasic's claims that it "demeans women."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 PM EST
WND Admits False Claims, Settles Lawsuit Out of Court
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Remember how WorldNetDaily was portraying the $165 million libel lawsuit filed against it by Tennessee businessman Clark Jones as determining "the future of investigative journalism in the United States"? Remember Joseph  Farah's longtime claim that "this lawsuit would be dropped in a flat second if Al Gore wanted it to be dropped. Understand also that WND did nothing wrong and libeled no one in the publication of this exhaustive series"? Remember Farah's insistence that WND "has made every effort to ensure that its reporting in this series –- and in everything it has covered – was fair, honest, truthful, balanced and accurate"?

Well, never mind.

A Feb. 13 WND article states that the lawsuit has been settled out of court for undisclosed, confidential terms. The article also includes "the text of the settlement statement jointly drafted by all parties in the lawsuit. Both sides agreed to limit comment on the lawsuit to this statement":

"A lawsuit for libel, defamation, false light and conspiracy was filed by Clark Jones of Savannah, Tennessee against WorldNetDaily.com, Tony Hays and Charles H. Thompson II arising out of a press release issued by WorldNetDaily.com on September 18, 2000, and articles dated September 20, October 8, November 24 and December 5, 2000, written by Tony Hays and Charles H. Thompson, II, posted on WorldNetDaily.com's website.

"The original news release by WorldNetDaily.com of September 18, 2000, and the article by Hays and Thompson of September 20, 2000, contained statements attributed to named sources, which statements cast Clark Jones in a light which, if untrue, defamed him by asserting that the named persons said that he had interfered with a criminal investigation, had been a 'subject' of a criminal investigation, was listed on law enforcement computers as a 'dope dealer,' and implied that he had ties to others involved in alleged criminal activity. These statements were repeated in the subsequently written articles and funds solicitations posted on WorldNetDaily.com's website. Clark Jones emphatically denied the truth of these statements, denied any criminal activity and called upon the publisher and authors to retract them.

"Discovery has revealed to WorldNetDaily.com that no witness verifies the truth of what the witnesses are reported by authors to have stated. Additionally, no document has been discovered that provides any verification that the statements written were true.

"Factual discovery in the litigation and response from Freedom of Information Act requests to law enforcement agencies confirm Clark Jones' assertion that his name has never been on law enforcement computers, that he has not been the subject of any criminal investigation nor has he interfered with any investigation as stated in the articles. Discovery has also revealed that the sources named in the publications have stated under oath that statements attributed to them in the articles were either not made by them, were misquoted by the authors, were misconstrued, or the statements were taken out of context.

"WorldNetDaily.com and its editors never intended any harm to Clark Jones and regret whatever harm occurred. WorldNetDaily.com has no verified information by which to question Mr. Jones' honesty and integrity, and having met him, has no claim or reason to question his honesty and integrity. WorldNetDaily.com wishes him well."

As we detailed, WND admitted that it never fact-checked Thompson and Hays' reporting before it published their Gore-bashing article, nor did it even know who the anonymous sources were that made the false claims against Jones -- bad journalistic practice by any definition. As late as Feb. 5 -- nine days ago -- WND wouldn't even concede that Jones denied the claims.

We wonder: Given WND's admission that Thompson and Hays' false claims were "repeated in the subsequently written articles and funds solicitations posted on WorldNetDaily.com's website," will it be going back to each of these articles and adding a prominent correction, or will it simply make them disappear from its archives without explanation? We'll be watching.

This is yet another black eye for WND's reporting. It retracted two articles in 2005 for making false claims and has a long history of shoddy journalism.

The funny thing is that at the end of the article, it links to the donation page to WND's legal defense fund, which states that "WND has never lost such a lawsuit." Time to update that, guys. 

UPDATE: One other funny thing we noticed: WND curiously didn't attach a Digg tag to the story, like it does on the rest of its original news articles, so it can't be tagged (well, not easily, anyway) at the social aggregator site.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2008 7:00 PM EST
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Coulter's Not So Marvelous to MRC After All?
Topic: NewsBusters

We previously noted that a Feb. 9 NewsBusters post called Ann Coulter's CPAC-related speech "marvelous." We just checked the post again, and the word "marvelous" has mysteriously disappeared as a descriptor of Coulter's speech.

It formerly stated that "Townhall.com has the entire marvelous video" of Coulter; now it rather blandly stated that "Townhall.com has the entire speech on video." The original has cycled out of Google Cache, but Wikio still lists the text of the original (here's a screen capture of the Wikio page).

Could it be that even the MRC is tiring of Coulter's antics, which it has defended in the past -- including, in this speech, claiming that  Barack Obama's "first big accomplishment" was "being born half-black" and that he is "one of the least dangerous people I know named Hussein"? Or did she cut too close to the bone on John McCain -- the candidate the MRC will support in the general election despite the current conservative bellaching -- such as claiming that the big difference between McCain and Adolf Hitler was that Hitler "had a coherent tax policy"?

Why is Coulter's speech suddenly no longer "marvelous" in the eyes of the MRC? Inquiring minds want to know... 


Posted by Terry K. at 11:28 PM EST
CNS' Jones Still Ignores Full Story of GOP Earmarks
Topic: CNSNews.com

Last week, we noted that CNSNews.com's Susan Jones wrote about "a Republican call for an immediate moratorium on taxpayer-funded earmarks" without noting that Republicans, when they controlled Congress, had no such concern about earmarks and, in fact, the final GOP-controlled Congress in 2006 approved more earmarks than the Democratic-controlled 2007 Congress.

Jones does it again in a Feb. 13 article, in which she writes about a new GOP "earmark reform" website without noting the Republicans' record on earmarks, which would seem to be germane to the debate.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:18 PM EST
Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 13 NewsBusters post by Kristen Fyfe calls a Washington Post article on polyamory "public relations material for destructive behavior' and "a game plan for redefining marriage" that "can only be described as a Valentine to immorality and provocative behavior." Fyfe concluded by calling it a "promotion of destructive behavior."

Fyfe is invoking the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy; because the article didn't include "comment from social scientists and family experts to discuss the impact of such behavior especially as it relates to children and their overall developmental health," Fyfe appears to have declared -- without evidence -- that the writer, if not the entire Post organization, approves of such behavior.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:24 PM EST
WND Finally Prints Farah's CPAC Speech
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Remember when we noted that CNSNews.com had scooped WorldNetDaily in reporting on WND editor Joseph Farah's appearance at CPAC? Well, WND has finally done something on it -- in the form of Les Kinsolving's Feb. 12 column. In fact, Farah's speech was almost the entirety of Kinsolving's column.

That's odd. Why put in Kinsolving's questionable hands -- where he did little more than copy and paste the speech -- instead of doing it as a news article?


Posted by Terry K. at 1:16 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 1:22 AM EST
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Desperately Seeking Equivocation
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 12 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham follows Noel Sheppard in playing the equivocation card on David Shuster's "pimped out" comment regarding Chelsea Clinton, suggesting that it was OK because NBC has used it in other contexts, such as a tech-loaded bathroom that was a called a "pimped out john" and a reference to a couple who planned to "pimp out" their minivan.

Graham seems to be overlooking one minor detail: Chelsea Clinton is not an inanimate object.

Why is Graham (not to mention the rest of the NewsBusters crew) looking for reasons to say it was perfectly acceptable for Shuster to say "pimped out" instead of condeming him for it?


Posted by Terry K. at 4:46 PM EST
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's time for Hillary to hoist up the trousers of her sansabelt suit, stiffen the old upper lip and make the iron maidens and harridans of the world proud. Hillary possesses all the charm of Grendel's little sister, would he have had one – a trait that would not go unnoticed in dealing with radical Islamic factions, should she employ her true nature.

-- Mychal Massie, Feb. 12 WorldNetDaily column


Posted by Terry K. at 2:31 PM EST
Newsmax Ignores Analyst's Offensive Hillary Hate
Topic: Newsmax

A Feb. 11 Newsmax video (video can't be linked directly) featured an interview with "veteran political consultant" Roger Stone, in which Stone spoke of a "death struggle" for the Democratic presidential nomination resulting in "deep fissures" in the Democratic Party. He went on to call Hillary Clinton "very polarizing in the country" and Barack Obama "a shadow. I can't find anything that he's ever really accomplished."

But at no point did host Ashley Martella identify Stone as a cosnervative, nor did he mention Stone's anti-Hillary activism -- most notoriously, his creation of the alleged group Citizens United Not Timid (put the initials together).

Is Stone a man who can offer credible analysis? Then again, Newsmax thinks Dick Morris is a credible analyst (not to mention financial adviser) ...


Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 AM EST
Sheppard Eqivocates on Shuster-Chelsea
Topic: NewsBusters

Noel Sheppard has a name for the controversy over NBC's David Shuster's suggestion that Hillary Clinton had "pimped out" Chelsea Clinton for her presidential campaign: He declared in a Feb. 10 NewsBusters post that the contretemps is "destined to be called 'Pimp Gate.'"

In other words, Sheppard is invoking the Clinton Equivocation, in which the Clintons are held to a different standard than other people -- in this case, permitted (if not required) to be insulted with impunity.

Sheppard goes on to assert -- without evidence, of course -- that "employees of MSNBC are allowed -- nay, encouraged! -- to debase a Republican whenever the whim overcomes them." But couldn't the same thing be said of Media Research Center employees and liberals? Given Sheppard's own track record, the answer appears to be yes. 

In a Feb. 11 post, Sheppard purports to offer "another example of this hypocrisy" -- not his own, mind you, what he purports MSNBC is engaging in -- a tongue-in-cheek 2006 segment by Keith Olbermann about the Bush twins' partying ways in Argentina. Sheppard haughtily adds: "I ask you: If David Shuster suggesting that Hillary's campaign is pimping out Chelsea is so offensive that he should be suspended, how can this report by Olbermann not have met with similar disdain from the top brass at MSNBC and NBC?"

Sheppard curiously fails to mention that the Bush twins have a long history of party-hearty behavior; as we documented, Jenna Bush was busted for underage drinking on multiple occasions (which the ConWeb did their best to blame everyone but Jenna). 

Sheppard then adds: 'Well, shouldn't it be just as irresponsible and inappropriate to insult a family member of the current president? Or, is that okay if the current president is a Republican?" But will Sheppard refrain from insulting family members if said president were a Democrat? He doesn't say.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:07 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 11:52 PM EST
Monday, February 11, 2008
Kessler Keeps It In the Family
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler's Feb. 11 Newsmax column is an interview with the head of Washington's International Spy Museum -- which just happens to feature prominently in a book about Washington spy haunts written by his wife. Kessler's column is written in such a way to suggest that his wife's book was recently released; in fact, according to the Amazon page for it, the book was published in April 2005. The Amazon page also contains a blurb for the book from ... the head of the International Spy Museum. How convenient.

We can probably take some solace in that Kessler is keeping his fluffing in the family this time, as opposed to, say, Mitt Romney's wife


Posted by Terry K. at 9:16 PM EST
Graham Called on Insensitivity -- By Hannity!
Topic: Media Research Center

When Sean Hannity thinks you're being too insensitive, perhaps you are.

That's the situation Tim Graham found himself in when he appeared on the Feb. 8 edition of Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes," in which he repeated his previous suggestion that David Shuster's stating that Hillary Clinton's campaign was "pimp[ing] out" Chelsea Clinton was something of a justified corrective of previous overly fawning coverage of Chelsea:

GRAHAM: I would say this, however, Sean. Let me disagree with you just a tiny bit. And that is, Chelsea Clinton now is 27 years old. She is not the 13-year-old that moved into the White House. And that problem that -- we have a much greater problem in the United States today, that she's been treated --

HANNITY: But wait a minute, Tim -- but Tim, to pimp out her daughter? You don't find that -- you know what? She's a young lady, and by all accounts -- I gotta be honest. She conducts herself with class, she seems like a nice kid. Leave the children of candidates alone. Leave 'em alone, even if they're campaigning. I think it's out of bounds. Leave Chelsea alone. I don't think it's fair.

GRAHAM: Well, the younger you are, I guess, the less you object. Maybe this -- he should have made this kind of comment on MTV News, and we wouldn't have heard about it. I'm simply saying that, in fact, Sean, the New York TImes, other media outlets have reported on Chelsea and during this campaign cycle with such an adoring tone, they really treat her like Saint Chelsea.

While Hannity didn't identify Graham as a conservative, per the template, Alan Colmes did, and noted the double standard he was following, as Graham continued to peddle his idea of a corrective:

GRAHAM: Well, there is a double standard. Keith Olbermann could come on and say Bush is responsible for killing 3,500 Americans. Or remember when he called Chris Wallace a monkey posing as a newscaster?

COLMES: Well, you want to change the debate here and make it about other people and that you conservatives are the poor, put-upon people. This was a knock at Chelsea Clinton by a reporter and a network you're claiming is left-wing and part of the MoveOn.org crowd. And yet it was a knock against the Clintons. Wasn't it John McCain who also did a joke and said she was the daughter of Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton, that's Chelsea Clinton, and of course he apologized for the joke. These are the things that conseratives are doing, it seems, to knock the Clintons.

GRAHAM: Well, David is not a conservative. I mean, I don't think -- everything you've looked at David Shuster saying in the past five years since he joined MSNBC or whatever, not a conserative. I mean --

COLMES: All right, but the point is --

GRAHAM: -- typical liberal journalist.

[...]

GRAHAM: I'm simply saying I think we do have way too much sensitivity toward Chelsea Clinton. The New York Times again -- this piece that Jodi Kantor wrote last year, where she sort of said, "People were so excited that her lips moved and sound came out." There's just too much worship there.

COLMES: Do you think it's appropriate, what David Shuster said? Are you going to defend his comments?

GRAHAM: No. I'm simply saying there's a hypersensitivity that we treat her like she's 13. I'm saying -- I'm agreeing with you. Why would you ban somebody for saying something like that when, you know, people in our public life --

COLMES: He should get his job back at some point. But Sean is right, that this is -- we shouldn't be going after the kids of candidates and people in office.

(Actually, Media Matters has a notable file on Shuster, contradicting Graham's claim that "everything" Shuster has said at MSNBC is liberal.)

By the way, the July 2007 Times article Graham complains about, while positive, is not nearly so fawning as he portrays. Still, Graham's boss, Brent Bozell, attacked it at the time as portraying Chelsea and Hillary as "two clones of Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way" and scoffed at a description of another Times article about letters Hillary wrote while a college student as "humanizing." The last thing Bozell wants Hillary to be thought of is having human qualities (as we've noted).

Graham continued the attack in a Feb. 10 NewsBusters post, claiming that Shuster's apology "underlines everything that's wrong in Chelsea coverage, the way that she is relentlessly used to offer hosannas to Bill Clinton as a parent (such a role model), not to mention her mother's willingness to stay in the marriage, hmm, perhaps in part due to her career aspirations."

So basically, Graham is saying what we've said about the MRC before: that they are furious whenever anyone says anything remotely nice about the Clintons.


Posted by Terry K. at 5:03 PM EST
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2008 7:26 PM EST

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