Media watchers have been wondering how long it will take press representatives to start attacking John McCain now that he's become almost the certain Republican nominee for president.
On February 16, the wait ended, as the Associated Press went on a literally vulgar tirade about the Arizona senator's temper that would make Madonna blush.
The AP used "[t]hree edited f-words in the first six paragraphs," Sheppard claimed, adding, "Sadly, all that vulgarity was a set-up to dissuade voters from considering McCain."
Sheppard ignores the fact that the conservative media has been using McCain's temper as an attack point for months with similarly "vulgar" language. In fact, as early as July 2006, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler was asking if McCain had "the temperament to be president," quoting an anonymous Senate staffer as saying taht "McCain said ‘f— you,' " an anonymous former senator as saying, "McCain used the f-word. ... McCain called the guy a ‘sh--head.' The senator demanded an apology. McCain stood up and said, ‘I apologize, but you're still a sh--head,' " and Newsmax columnist John LeBoutillier as saying, "People who disagree with him get the f--- you."
Contrary to Sheppard's assertion, "press representatives" have been noting McCain's temper for years, but we don't recall Sheppard bashing Kessler for trying to "dissuade voters from considering McCain."
In fact, Sheppard doesn't have to go to the AP, or even Newsmax, to find mention of McCain's temper; he just needs to hang out on NewsBusters' own comment boards.
WND Still Distorting Laws To Fit Its Anti-Gay Agenda Topic: WorldNetDaily
You'd think that being forced to admit it published false information and settling a libel and defamation lawsuit for presumably a not-insignificant amount of money would spur WorldNetDaily into putting more care into the accuracy and fairness of the things it reports. It would appear not.
As it was settling that lawsuit, a Feb. 12 WND article follows in the tradition of previousarticles that distort to the point of falsehood the content of recently passed California laws designed to protect gays at school. It claims without challenge or attribution that the laws "institutionalize the promotion of homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and other alternative lifestyle choices." It also described the laws -- as "sexual indoctrination," again without challenge or attribution.
Has Warner Todd Huston written a post so crazy -- and he's written a bunch -- that even NewsBusters doesn't want it on its site? It apepars so.
On Feb. 16, Huston posted an NewsBusters entry headlined "Is Obama Faking Feinting [sic] Spells at Rallies?" in which, yes, Huston essentially accuses the Barack Obama campaign of staging fainting spells at his rallies to make Obama look sympathetic. Sometime later that day, someone (or something) at NewsBusters made it disappear off the site, blocked by an "Access Denied" message. It's still showing up in Google searches, though. (And here's a screen shot of the Google search containing it.)
Fortunately for posterity's sake, Huston also posted it to two other blogs of his, Publius' Forum and The Reality Check, so we can enjoy his work (complete with misspelling of "fainting" in the headline) in all its crazy glory. And should common sense suddenly get the better of him and those disappear as well, here's Huston's post in its entirety:
BreitbartTV has an interesting little video called “Fired Up and Falling Down: String of Crowd Fainting Incidents Hits Obama Rallies.” This video shows a series of what appears to be a fainting women right up near the stage at different Barack Hussein Obama campaign rallies. And in nearly every case, Obama says the same things, almost as if rehearsed. This has been rumbling for a day or so on the Internet, but the MSM has yet to pick up on it. I wonder why?
It’s an awful big coincidence that all these women keep fainting at Obama campaign rallies isn’t it? And isn’t it odd that they are always right up by the podium? Also, it is so odd that Barack says nearly the same lines in response and that he stops everything to “assist” the fainted?
So, the question arises, are staged feinting spells being created by the Obama campaign to make the audience think that people are so overheated by Obama that they end up feinting? It also creates the impression that the candidate is “caring” when he stops the rally to call for doctors to attend to the woman and for a “water bottle” to be given to her.
It just strains credulity that so many instances in nearly exact detail have been happening spontaneously.
Breitbart captions their video like this:
Los Angeles Times on one of the six recent fainting incidents: “Barack Obama’s first and only rally on election day came to a sudden and lengthy stop when a young woman in the Dartmouth College gym fainted, and was eventually rolled off on a gurney by emergency medical technicians. At first Obama half-narrated the episode, saying soothing things like, ‘She’s OK,’ ‘She’s talking.’ But the longer she lay on the floor, the quieter Obama got, standing on the podium, arms folded, looking worried as the medical crew worked.”
Starts one to thinking, doesn’t it?
The most amazing thing is not that Huston went too far even for NewsBusters; it's that WorldNetDaily has picked up the meme in a Feb. 16 article.
Has it already forgotten that it just settled a big libel suit? Apparently so, since the article uses not one, but two pseudonymous blog commenters to liken Obama to murderious cult leader Jim Jones.
Two Feb. 15 WorldNetDaily articles have a missing component. Can you spot it?
-- The first describes a "new book" (in fact, it came out in 2006) by Lyle Rossiter, in which he claims that the "the ideology motivating [liberals] is actually a mental disorder. It describes Rossiter as an "acclaimed, veteran psychiatrist" and a "board-certified forensic psychiatrist" who "received his medical and psychiatric training at the University of Chicago."
-- The second describes the "Dear Abby" advice column as a "shock jock for promiscuity," citing a report by the Culture and Media Institute that claims that the column takes "a distinctly non-traditional approach toward moral questions." The article described CMI as "designed to 'advance, preserve, and help restore America's culture, character, traditional values, and morals against the assault of the liberal media elite.'"
Nowhere in either of these two articles will you find any ideological descriptor for Rossiter, CMI, or its parent organization, the Media Research Center (which the article also names) -- even though they are obviously conservative-leaning -- the MRC, of course, is part of the ConWeb.
CNS Clumsily Ties Shooting, 'Sexual Indoctrination' Topic: CNSNews.com
a Feb. 15 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones stated that a 14-year-old California boy is being "charged with a hate crime as well as attempted murder for shooting a 15-year-old boy who 'sometimes wore makeup, high heels and other feminine attire,' the Associated Press reported." Jones then quoted "homosexual activists" commenting on the shooting.
After noting that "California is one of only 10 states that protect students from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation" and "one of only five states that protect students from bullying and harassment based on gender identity/expression," Jones then repeats the claims by the conservative Campaign for Children and Families that two recently passed California laws promote "sexual doctrination." While Jones -- unlike WorldNetDaily, which has repeatedly distorted the laws in question -- provided the actual text of the laws, she followed them with CCF's interpretation of what they purportedly "functionally" do.
None of the "homosexual activists" quoted addressed the laws or were given an opportunity to address CCF's interpretation of them. CCF, meanwhile, is not quoted as addressing the shooting. Jones herself suggests, but doesn't explicitly address, a relationship between the hate-crime charge and the new laws, nor does she explain how the laws as she quoted them translate into CCF's alarmist depictions.
Jones tends to assemble her articles from other news sources and press releases, so it's not surprising that the point she's clearly trying to push here -- that bleeding-heart "homosexual activsts" are making this poor shooter face the threat of extra punishment for the thought crime of hating gays (a conservative talking point) and is thus a victim of "sexual indocrination" -- is rather crudely cobbled together, and that no effort is made to reconcile the two disparate topics (the shooting and the laws).
Newsmax has a history of playing games with the circulation numbers of its magazine; we've noted, for instance, that it once claimed it had a "paid circulation" of 250,000 when in fact it was only 59,000.
It does so again in a Feb. 14 article touting how "Newsmax.com has soared in Web traffic," in which it claims that Newsmax magazine has "a paid readership of 600,000." The problem is, "paid readership" is a meaningless metric; the only one that really matters is paid circulation, since readership is difficult to quantify.
In November 2005, Newsmax declared that the magazine's audited paid circulation was 102,695, then added: "NewsMax Magazine estimates this paid circulation gives it a monthly readership in excess of 400,000 persons each month – making it the largest read independent news monthly with a conservative perspective." In other words, Newsmax is claiming that an average of four people read each copy of the magazine.
Factoring that into Newsmax's new claim of "paid readership of 600,000," this apparently means the magazine's paid circulation is around 150,000.
New Article: Liberally Insulting Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has trouble finding anything offensive about an NBC reporter claiming that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by her mother's presidential campaign. But then, it's totally down with Ann Coulter's litany of insults. Read more >>
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."
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.
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."
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."
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 twoarticles in 2005 for making false claims and has a longhistory 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.
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...
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.
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.