A Feb. 26 CNSNews.com article by Penny Starr features criticism by conservatives of a Planned Parenthood website aimed at providing "medicially accurate sexual health information for teens on the Internet" (as well as engages in a bit of sham balance by stating that "Repeated requests for interviews with Planned Parenthood and teenwire.com staff by Cybercast News Service were not answered," though we can be virtually assured that should anyone from Planned Parenthood respond to the article, we won't see an update on it).
Starr focuses on the site's claim that "viewing pornography is a normal and 'safer' way of enjoying sex and in particular its telling a "young male viewer of pornography that masturbating while looking at pornography was not cheating on his girlfriend." This brings out not only the usual anti-pornography responses, as well as five paragraphs devoted to Ted Bundy:
Perhaps the most dramatic case of the damage pornography can apparently cause to some individuals was revealed when James Dobson of Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group, met with serial killer Ted Bundy the day before he was executed on Jan. 24, 1989.
Bundy, who killed at least 28 females, including the 12-year-old girl whose death led to his arrest and conviction, requested the interview with Dobson.
"As a young boy of 12 or 13, I encountered, outside the home, in the local grocery and drug stores, soft core pornography," Bundy told Dobson, adding that "the most damaging kind of pornography - and I'm talking from hard, real, personal experience - is that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces - as I know only too well - brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe."
Bundy said he didn't blame pornography and took full responsibility for the brutal rape and murder of more than two dozen women, but he said it is a contributing factor that caused him and other violent offenders' to act out.
"I'm no social scientist," Bundy said, "and I don't pretend to believe what John Q. Citizen thinks about this, but I've lived in prison for a long time now, and I've met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography - deeply consumed by the addiction."
Nowhere does Starr note that questions have been raised about Bundy's statements to Dobson. Nted true-crime author Ann Rule wrote about the interview in her book on Bundy, "The Stranger Beside Me" (p. 446-7):
Two agendas were met with that videotape. Dr. Dobson believed that smut and booze triggered serial killers, and he had the premiere serial killer to validate his theories. Ted wanted to leave behind a legacy of his wisdom and humanity's guilt. He was guilty, yes, but we were guiltier because we allowed pornography to be sold. We walked by newsstands and did not demand that filthy literature be confiscated and outlawed.
I don't think pornograph cause Ted Bundy to kill thirty-six or one hundred or three hundred women. I think he because addicted to the power his crimes gave him. And I think he wanted to leave us talking about him, debating the wisdom of his words. In that, he succeeded magnificently.
The blunt fact is that Ted Bundy was a liar. He lied most of his life, and I think he lied at the end.
Rule adds (p. 448):
Ted Bundy's interview with James Dobson accomplished one thing that troubled me. During the weeks after Ted was executed, I heard from a number of young women. Sensitive, intelligent, kind young women wrote or called me to say that they were deeply depressed because Ted was dead. One college student had watched the Dobson tape on television and felt moved to send flowers to the funeral parlor where Ted's body had been taken. "He wouldn't have hurt me," she said. "All he needed was some kindness. I know he wouldn't have hurt me ..."
Even in death, Ted damages women. They have sent for the Dobson tape, paying the $29.95 fee, and watch it over and over. They see compassion and sadness in his eyes. And they feel guilty and bereft. To get well, they must realize that they were conned by the master conman. They are grieving for a shadow man that never existed.
Graham Ignores CNS Style on 'Homosexual' Topic: NewsBusters
In a Feb. 26 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham is unhappy that the Washington Times will stop using "homosexual" as a preferred reference and will instead use "gay," and well as replace "illegal alien" with "illegal immigrant." New Times editor John Solomon, Graham writes, "wants the Times to join the 'mainstream' in using sensitive terminology on homosexuality and illegal immigration," adding that "whatever the reigning liberal sensibilities are in our news template, often defined by minority journalist groups, are defined as 'neutral.' "
It would have been instructive for Graham to note what the stylebook of sister MRC organization CNSNews.com says on the subject. For instance, it's pretty clear that preferred use of "homosexual" is CNS house style, as this article's cumbersome use of "homosexual leader" and "homosexual activist group" illustrates; nowhere does the word "gay" appear outside quotes or organization names.
Similarly, a search for "illegal alien" at CNS brings up 334 hits, indicating that it's a favored term there as well.
If Graham is so proud of using those terms -- and he certainly appears to be -- why not fully defend use of "homosexual" and "illegal alien"? Why not proclaim that the MRC's news division is the last bastion of it? It's how they roll; they ought to embrace it.
Aaron Klein Mighty Wurlitzer Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a Feb. 26 WorldNetDaily article, Aaron Klein hauls out one of his favorite sources, the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, to reliably bash Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
As we've detailed, the Rabbinical Congress is one of the sources Klein trots out whenever he needs to attack Olmert, never mentioning that it's a right-leaning group that has a huge pre-existing chip on its shoulder against Obama. As an example of how right-wing the group is, Klein has also uncritically quoted that group's executive director as saying that Hurricane Katrina was "a consequence of the destruction of Gush Katif [a group of Jewish communities in Gaza] with America's urging and encouragement" of Olmert's withdrawal of Israel from Gaza.
A Feb. 26 CNSNews.com article by Randy Hall focused on a booklet by a coalition including the National Education Association aimed at protecting the well-being of students, including "those at higher risk because of their sexual orientation." Hall quotes from a press release about the booklet, then quotes from an "e-mail statement" by "pro-family" group the Family Research Council, which attacks the booklet as a part of "promotion of homosexuality" and "indoctrinating impressionable school children," and smears the NEA as having "left-wing fanaticism."
So Hall just cribbed from a couple of press releases. He made no apparent effort to contact anyone with the NEA to respond to the FRC's charges or to contact the FRC to substantiate their claim that information about homosexuality is "promotion" of it, thus invoking the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy.
This article is an example of lazy press-release journalism with a conservative bias, since the FRC gets the last word and no one is given a chance to respond to them.
A link on today's FrontPageMag front page leads to the Discover the Networks article on the Islamic Society of North America. The article notes the group's criticism of torture and waterboarding and the statement, "Torture, like human trafficking, is unlawful and immoral no matter what the circumstances."
WND Piles On the Guilt-By-Association Smears of Obama Topic: WorldNetDaily
The sex-and-drugs smear didn't work out so well, so WorldNetDaily is looking to smear Barack Obama through guilt by association.
It tried earlier this week by claiming, in a Feb. 24 article by Aaron Klein, that Obama "worked" with a "confessed domestic terrorist" (un-sensationalized: he was a board member for a nonprofit group, which also had as a board member someone who was in a radical group in the 1960s).
WND tries it again in a Feb. 25 article by Jerome Corsi claiming that a picture of Obama in African garb "raised questions about Obama's links to Kenya, which has Muslim neighbors on several fronts, and was home to Obama's father." The source cited for these purported concerns is Jack Wheeler, who used WND a few weeks ago to smear John McCain as a "nutcase wack job" who "collaborat[ed] with his Communist captors" in Vietnam and Hillary Clinton for her purported "well-known bisexuality and her lesbian affair with her beautiful assistant." So Wheeler is hardly a trustworthy source.
Corsi also rather tenuously claims that since the tribal garb Obama was wearing tribal garb in a country that is "almost entirely Sunni Muslim," "in that sense the Somali elder garb is also Islamic."
Are Corsi and WND really this desperate to smear Obama? Given WND's embrace of Larry Sinclair's never-verified and apparently false claims, we'd have to say yes.
MRC Stoops to Defend Rove Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center seems a little desperate to defend Karl Rove from an allegation made on CBS' "60 Minutes" that he played a role in targeting the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Seligman.
The first NewsBusters post on the subject, by Kyle Drennen, was offended that one Republican state attorney general who asked Congress to investigate Seligman's prosecution was not Republican enough for him.
This was followed by a NewsBusters post (destined to be a CyberAlert item) by Brent Baker, who claimed that Fox News' "undermined" "60 Mintues' " assertions -- but reporting Rove's reaction to the piece hardly constitutes "undermining."
Baker also highlighted a post on the American Spectator website by Quin Hillyer, who repeated the claims about the not-Republican-enough attorney general and attacked the piece as displaying "the worst journalistic ethics I have ever seen in my life" and asserting that "60 Minutes now has good reason to look up to the National Enquirer as a exemplar of journalistic ethics and accuracy." Nowhere is it noted that Hillyer is hardly one to comment on the journalistic ethics of others given that the American Spectator engaged in its own Enquirer-esque aspirations through its dumpster-diving, Scaife-bankrolled Arkansas Project to smear Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
Over the past couple of years, Newsmax's Phil Brennan has been aggressively defending soldiers accused in the Haditha massacre. Too aggressively, in fact: Newsmax has already retracted one claim Brennan made.
After PBS' "Frontline" did an episode on Haditha, Brennan insisted in a Feb. 20 article that the program "distorted the real picture by omitting crucial facts." On Feb. 25, Newsmax printed a response to Brennan's piece from "Frontline" story editor Catherine Wright:
Mr. Brennan is wrong in his assertion that FRONTLINE portrayed Haditha as peaceful and free of insurgents prior to the arrival of the Marines, while Newsmax and other media had reported the city to be firmly under insurgent control. In fact, what we reported is that Haditha was a "serene oasis" and "a popular vacation spot" before the war, but that "by the fall of 2005, nearly three years into the war, Haditha was war torn, and Sunni insurgents were in complete control."
We were frankly surprised by the article, given that the reaction from the Marines we?ve heard from, including many in 3/1 has been overwhelmingly positive.
At the end was Brennan's response to Wright, in which he walked back most of his criticisms -- "I was wrong to infer that Frontline misrepresented the extent of insurgent control of Haditha" -- and stating:
The Frontline documentary was on the whole stunningly accurate and went a long way toward destroying the media-fed portrayal of the November 19, 2005 battle in Haditha as a mindless massacre of innocent civilians, and I praise Frontline for what they have done.
CNS Lets Kincaid Lie About Obama, Global Poverty Bill Topic: CNSNews.com
In a Feb. 25 CNSNews.com article by Pete Winn uncritically quoted Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid as saying about the Global Poverty Act, a bill sponsored by Barack Obama that conservatives are trying to scuttle: "The bill doesn't specifically mention a global tax. ... No one is suggesting that Sen. Obama has officially called for the imposition of a global tax."
In fact, Kincaid has done exactly that. In a Feb. 12 AIM article -- headlined "Obama's Global Tax Proposal Up for Senate Vote" -- Kincaid claimed that the bill "makes levels of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations. .... The legislation would commit the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid, which amounts to a phenomenal 13-year total of $845 billion over and above what the U.S. already spends," adding, "A global tax will clearly be necessary to force American taxpayers to provide the money."
A Feb. 13 AIM press release promoting Kincaid's accusations referred in the headline to "Obama's Socialist-Oriented Global Tax Bill."
Kincaid repeated the claim that the bill "commits the U.S. to spending $845 billion to eradicate poverty in the rest of the world" in a Feb. 20 AIM article, further calling it Obama's "$845 million earmark."
Sinclair Fails Polygraph -- So Why Is WND Still Promoting Him? Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Feb. 24 WorldNetDaily article states that Larry Sinclair -- who claims that he did drugs and had sex with Barack Obama -- "reportedly failed two polygraph tests administered by the website WhiteHouse.com."
But for some reason, the article then goes on to repeat in detail Sinclair's allegations -- as if Sinclair hadn't just been discredited -- and linked to a copy of the lawsuit Sinclair filed against Democratic officials.
The article also adds: "Repeated call and emails to the Obama campaign by WND staff have elicited no responses to the charges." The article doesn't explain why Obama should have to respond to charges that are apparently fictional.
No word on whether this will put a crimp on WND's public relations campaign on Sinclair's behalf. Will WND apologize to Obama for printing unfounded allegations without first making an effort to see if they were true (which landed them in a heap o' trouble from which it extricated itself just a couple weeks ago)? Don't count on it.
But now that this little diversion has fizzled out in WND's hands, it's moved onto another Obama attack -- this time, guilt by association. Indeed, nowhere does reporter Aaron Klein (he of the notoriousbiasproblems) offer any evidence that Obama holds any of the views of those he is purported to have however briefly appeared in the same room with.
Meanwhile, Vox Day picks up on Sinclair's allegations in his Feb. 25 column, apparently unaware that Sinclair failed a lie detector test. Day goes on to suggest that it's "nothing more than the latest fire drill by Team Clinton practicing its usual politics of personal destruction." But doesn't that mean that WND is doing the Clintons' bidding by repeating Sinclair's claims? What would self-described Clinton-hater Joseph Farah have to say about that? (And no, he hasn't responded to our request for an interview.)
And Michael Ackley bashes the New York Times' "self-serving ethics" on its John McCain story, apparently forgetting that Farah considers WND's reporting of unverified and apparently untrue claims about Obama a prime example of its "professional journalism standards."
An Anti-Revisionist's Revisionist History Topic: NewsBusters
In a Feb. 24 NewsBusters post, Tom Blumer attacked an Associated Press article because it allegedly "linked criticism of [Barack] Obama's patriotism strictly to conservatives, rewrote the history of the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry," and "played a game of misdirection regarding the candidate's failure to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem." But Blumer is involved in his own revisionist history.
Responding to the idea that "criticism of Obama's patriotism" is being pushed only by conservatives, Blumer claimed that "The 'conservative consultants' are smart enough to know that you don't have to be a conservative to take umbrage at the Obamas' statements and actions." But he offers no evidence of non-conservatives taking offense at Obama'spurported indiscretions. Further, he failed to take note of the conservative consultant quoted in the article, Roger Stone, as the creepy mind behind an anti-Hillary group with the acronym C.U.N.T. Does Blumer approve of such activism by a Republican consultant?
Blumer then claimed that the Swift Boat Veterans' accusations against John Kerry in 2004 "in fact, were far from 'unsubstantiated.' With very rare and relatively insignificant exceptions, the allegations of the Swifts' stand unrefuted," further claiming that the "correct definition" of "swift boating" is "telling the truth about Democrats." In fact, the Swift Boat Veterans got numerous things wrong.
Blumer also asserted that the article "engages in classic misdirection" regarding the issue of whether Obama at one public appearance didn't put his hand over his heart during thte national anthem by noting, "It has been repeatedly reported that the moment came during the Pledge of Allegiance, but that's not the case." Blumer responded: "That's not the topic. What about what Obama actually did or didn't do during the anthem? Martin Finkelstein at NewsBusters was among those who correctly noted that the photograph involved was taken during the national anthem, and explained the significance of the incident." He further insisted: "Obama wasn't doing what most Americans instinctively do during the national anthem."
Talk about revisionist: Blumer gave Mark Finkelstein a new first name!
Blumer suggests that whether or not Obama put his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem is a distinction without a difference. But as Finkelstein himself admitted in the post to which Blumer links, he got it wrong and didn't at first "correctly note that the photograph involved was taken during the national anthem":
NOTE: The original version of this item, based on a reader submission, stated that the photo was apparently taken during the Pledge of Allegiance. I've now located the original "Time" image, whose caption states that it was taken during the National Anthem.
Finkelstein certainly thought there was a difference, or else he wouldn't have bothered to correct it.
Blumer offers no evidence that the hand-over-heart rate among Americans for the national anthem is equal to or higher than the rate for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Aaron Klein Works His Gimmick Topic: WorldNetDaily
How slow a week was it for WorldNetDaily Jerusalem reporter Aaron Klein? He was apparently bored enough to ask his terrorist buddies about anti-war statements made by ... Sharon Stone.
As we've detailed, Klein has built an entire book around this chatting-up-terrorists gimmick, in which he quotes these guys saying things that just happen to reinforce conservative views of terrorism, not mentioning the possibility that he's being used by them, or that it's in the terrorists' interests to keep conservatives in power in the U.S. by catering to their (and Klein's) expectations.
Joseph Farah Is Larry Sinclair's PR Man Topic: WorldNetDaily
It is not normal behavior for news organizations to hire a PR firm to promote news articles, particularly ones in which the claims made in it have not been substantiated.
But WorldNetDaily is no normal "news" organization.
Yesterday, WND sent out a press release on behalf of its PR firm, M. Sliwa Public Relations -- operated by Maria Sliwa, sister of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, which WND has previously retained to promote books from its publishing operation -- to tout WND editor Joseph Farah's Feb. 22 column claiming that Larry Sinclair's accusations against Barack Obama, which WND has unskeptically promoted and even admitted is "sleaze," are so much worse that what the New York Times published about John McCain. Indeed, the press release's headline screams:
FARAH'S LATEST OBAMA BOMBSHELL
Leaves McCain Scandal in the Dust
As we've noted, WND has offered no evidence whatsoever to support Sinclair's claims, or even suggested that it made an effort to find any -- which puts it in a position similar to the one that resulted in WND having to settle a libel lawsuit by admitting that it published false information and didn't fact-check its reporting before publishing it.
The press release repeats Farah's disingenuous claim that he "is an independent journalist who supports neither Obama nor McCain, and says WND will continue to report both stories regardless of whether he supports either candidate." Again, as we've noted, WND has covered the Times/McCain story only in the context of attacking the Times for running it, whereas it has accepted Sinclair's claims against Obama at face value.
Further, Farah doesn't just not support Obama; he's openly hostile to him. Farah has used guilt by association to smear Obama as a communist and stated that the idea of Obama as president "scare[s]" him. He has smeared Democrats as "socialist race-baiters and phony feminists." Any suggestion that Farah's non-support for Obama translates to "independent" neutrality is absurd.
WND's press release also makes Farah available for interviews about the Obama-sinclair story. We've put in a request to Sliwa's firm to interview Farah, particularly about the unseemliness of a "news" organization hiring a PR firm to promote an unsubstantiated political smear. We'll see what happens.
MRC Tries to Bury Times-McCain Story Topic: Media Research Center
Media Research Center employees are doing their best to pretend the New York Times article on John McCain is false (though they make no effort to prove it so) and meaningless:
TimesWatch's Clay Waters insists at NewsBusters athat the story is, in the words of his headline, "dying on the vine," making sure to hit those conservative talking points about the article, "anonymous sources" and "nine-year-old allegations."
Mark Finkelstein hit those same talking points, citing "anonymous, disgruntled former associates as sources" who were "dredging up old stories."
A NewsBusters post promoting a Brent Bozell appearance on C-SPAN notes that "Bozell speaks of the Bill Keller New York Times disaster."
Noel Sheppard insists With each passing moment, it appears the New York Times laid a big egg with its hit piece on John McCain."
Rich Galen, at CNSNews.com, dismisses it as "nothing more than coffee-machine gossip, inference, speculation, and conjecture," as well as "the journalistic equivalent of a blogger sitting in his basement feeding out rumors to the internet over his dial-up connection."
Tim Graham plays the distraction card by accusing Times editor Bill Keller of adultery. Graham doesn't explain how this is relevant to to the veracity of the Times story.
Brent Bozell called it "rumor and gossip, fit to print only for the likes of the National Enquirer."
By the way, telling "old stories" wasn't a problem for the MRC a couple years ago, when it used CNSNews.com to attack Democrat John Murtha's 40-year-old war record and 25-year-old scandal ties.
Newsmax Again Ignores That McCain Defender Is On McCain Payroll Topic: Newsmax
In the Feb. 21 "Newsmax.TV Minute" video, host Ashley Martella called Robert Bennett, who defended John McCain from a New York Times article, "a prominent Democrat" and a "Democratic Party attorney" without noting that McCain hired Bennett specifically to address issues raised by the story. Further, despite Martella's suggestion, there appears to be no evidence that Bennett was employed by the "Democratic Party."
From the video:
MARTELLA: Even a prominent Democrat is slamming the New York Times for a hit job on John McCain. Democratic Party attorney Robert Bennett, who represented Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones scandal, calls the front-page story shameless. Without naming any sources or offering any evidence, the Times suggests McCain had an illicit relationship with a female lobbyist eight years ago.
This is the second time that Newsmax has touted Bennett's Democratic ties in his defense of McCain and ignored that Bennett is on McCain's payroll.