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Monday, March 3, 2008
Man Whose Words WND Distorted Fights Back
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We weren't the only ones who noticed that WorldNetDaily turned a newspaper's story on the conviction of street preacher Julian Raven into a misleading piece of pro-Christian propaganda: Robert Siglin, who prosecuted the case, is very unhappy. From WND's letters page (letters cycle out after a week):

Re:"Christians organized to pay big bucks – for praying!"

To refresh your recollection, you wrote on your website: "The prosecutor, Robert Siglin, said the city was concerned for public safety, and that's why the Christians were arrested. During closing arguments he said speech freedoms don't matter when 'public order' is an issue."

This was in regard to the Christians who disrupted an event in Elmira, N.Y.

In the spirit of truth and integrity, I thought I would clarify your blatantly uninformed and propaganda-filled comments about my theory of the case. You obviously have no idea what occurred and just took the Star-Gazette story and changed some words around of those who don't mirror the views of your group.

My argument was that we would not have any freedoms if we did not have a democracy! We would not have a democracy without public order. The first thing we lose when democracy turns into anarchy is our liberties.

Mr. Raven and his group were given every opportunity to spread their gospel and preach the word of God, but he and his followers took things too far and put innocent people at risk who would have been caught in the crossfire. Trouble did not find them; they went looking for it!

It is terribly ironic that the freedoms and rights you speak of are not respected, but used to fit some agenda. That group used the freedoms of speech and religion as a sword to disrupt the right of speech and assembly of others who they do not agree with, and now they want to use those rights as a shield to prevent them from facing the consequences of their actions. If roles were reversed, the people of the gay-pride event would have been arrested.

The bottom line is public safety and innocent people were placed in harm's way, and, as a result, the instigators were arrested. The laws of the State of New York frowns upon those who want to disrupt peaceful assemblies. This has nothing to do with content; it has to do with conduct. So, now that you have my actual stance – which is not what you quoted, I anticipate this error will not occur in the future.

Robert D. Siglin Esq., assistant Chemung County district attorney

It's unusual that WND would print such a letter since it typically doesn't acknowledge criticism of its reporting. Perhaps because it is on a streak of its reporting being repeatedly discredited that it decided to address the issue in some form. But the question is, will WND do anything about it? Will WND correct the article to remove the bias, and will it publicly acknowledge those changes? We'll be watching.

As we've noted, this episode demonstrates just how untrustworthy WND has become. Will Joseph Farah ever step up and apologize to his readers for such sloppy work? 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 AM EST
Graham's Faulty Comparison
Topic: NewsBusters

A March 2 NewsBusters post by Tim Graham begins: "The American left claims to hate how Ann Coulter makes a fortune with calculated outrageousness. What will they say about Mark Morford?"

Graham's comparison would make more sense (or, actually, any sense at all) if he had offered any evidence that Morford, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, has amassed a Coulter-like fortune from his "calculated outrageousness" -- which, given that he's a newspaper columnist who hasn't authored a book and hasn't racked up nearly 200 appearances on a single cable channel alone, in all likelihood he has not.

Graham goes on to claim that a Chronicle article -- about which he put "news" in scare quotes -- "incorrectly claimed Rush Limbaugh regularly recites Obama’s full name." Not only does Graham offer no evidence to back up his claim, Limbaugh is on record using Obama's middle name as early as January 2007.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 AM EST
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Meanwhile ...
Topic: Horowitz

Richard Bartholomew catches Don Feder -- whose work for is replete with dishonesty and hypocrisy -- making another dishonest claim. This time, in a Feb. 27 FrontPageMag column, Feder claims that "Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, their prophetess, considered non-Aryans 'a great biological menace to the future of civilization.' " In fact, the terms "Aryan" and "non-Aryan" do not appear in the Sanger book from which Feder plucked this quote; further, Sanger was describing "the hordes of irresponsibility and imbecility" as the "great biological menace."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:38 PM EST
WND Still Omitting Key Facts on Group Arrested at Gay Event
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It seems to be a theme of late: WorldNetDaily distorting facts to make right-wing Christians look good and anyone who holds them accountable for their behavior look bad.

WND continues its PR work for Elmira, N.Y., street preacher Julian Raven in a March 1 article that largely cribs an Elmira Star-Gazette article on the convictions of Raven and three other activists for disorderly conduct for disrupting a gay festival -- or, in WND's words, an "event celebrating homosexual behavior."

The misleading starts with the headline: "Christians ordered to pay big bucks – for praying!" The "big bucks" in question, in fact, are a $100 fine plus $95 in court costs for each offender. Raven's lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund probably have that in their petty cash drawer.

And, of course, merely "praying" was not the issue here. While WND repeatedly depicts the offense Raven's group committed as only "praying," nowhere does it describe the specific circumstances in which the group did so. Which is strange, because the Star-Gazette -- from which it cribbed -- did: "The four protesters claimed their right to free speech was violated when they were arrested June 23 after laying prostrate on the lawn in front of a temporary stage in the park."

WND also claimed that "The newspaper reported [Elmira City Judge Thomas Ramich] called Raven reckless for even going to the park." That's false. From the Star-Gazette:

Ramich said in his decision that Julian M. Raven, the leader of the protest group, was being reckless when he inserted the four into the midst of the event participants.

"The midst" being, of course, in front of the stage, which WND never mentions.

WND seems to be going out of its way lately to demonstrate once and for all that it's an untrustworthy source of information, and this is yet another example.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:36 AM EST
Unruh Plays the Nazi Card Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've previously noted WorldNetDaily writer Bob Unruh's fondness for likening any and all suspected critics of homeschooling to Nazis.

He does it again in a Feb. 29 article, in which he claims that a ruling ordering that children of a California couple that had been homeschooled be enrolled in a public or private school "The words echo the ideas of officials from Germany, where homeschooling has been outlawed since 1938 under a law adopted when Adolf Hitler decided he wanted the state, and no one else, to control the minds of the nation's youth." 

Unruh goes on to state:

The father, Phillip Long, said the family is working on ways to appeal to the state Supreme Court, because he won't allow the pro-homosexual, pro-bisexual, pro-transgender agenda of California's public schools, on which WND previously has reported, to indoctrinate his children. 

As we have previously reported, WND and Unruh have repeatedly distorted the intent and meaning of California laws meant to protect gay students. Nowhere does Unruh offer evidence that these laws are "pro-homosexual."

Unruh selectively quotes from the ruling against the parents in order to present state education officials in the harshest possible light. He does not provide a link to a copy of the full ruling, nor does WND offer a copy itself. (Thanks to Larry Sinclair, we know that WND is capable of posting copies of legal documents; no explanation is offered as to why it did not do so in this case.)

Posted by Terry K. at 2:20 AM EST
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Where's The Outrage?
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has normally been quick to pounce on those who expresses what it considers anti-Catholic bias:

  • A key part of Brent Bozell's attack on two bloggers hired last year by John Edwards' presidential campaign was statements by the blogger critical of the pope: "Bill Donohue at the Catholic League waved the red flag of anti-Catholic bigotry." Bozell has even (misleadingly) accused Katie Couric of anti-Catholic bias.
  • Last June, Noel Sheppard accused ABC's "The View" of taking "anti-Catholic positions." 
  • Michael Chapman noted that "Robin Williams riffed on Catholic priests as pedophiles on NBC's June 18 Tonight Show with Jay Leno, proving that anti-Catholic bigotry is alive and well and condoned among Hollywood's elite, and apparently among the liberal media as well." 
  • Dave Pierre attacked ABC for running a segment on the "Pope Joan" legend, which he called "a slanderous tool to tarnish the Catholic Church and degrade Catholics." 

Yet as of this writing, no MRC division -- not even NewsBusters -- has seen fit to even mention the endorsement of John McCain by evangelist John Hagee, who, as heretofore MRC fave Bill Donohue himself has pointed out, "has a long record of Catholic bashing." Bozell himself is a Catholic so you'd think he'd be particularly sensitive to this and be moved to criticism. But so far, it looks like the MRC will follow the lead of the MSM and play down McCain's embrace of Hagee, even as they made a bigger deal out of Louis Farrakhan's (unsolicited) endorsement of Barack Obama.

It appears religious conviction will be unable to trump political expediency in this case, even for Bozell. McCain is a Republican, after all, and despite criticism of McCain for not being conservative enough, the MRC will fall in line and promote his candidacy.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:36 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, March 1, 2008 11:01 AM EST
Kessler Drops the Journalistic Figleaf
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler's partisan cover is officially completely blown (as if we didn't know that already).

In a Feb. 29 Newsmax video, Kessler essentially regurgitates conservative talking points, despite being introduced by host Ashley Martella as "one of America's premier journalists." But there's no actual journalism going on here, just conservative bloviating:

Kessler says of Barack Obama: "I just don't think people want a person with a radical agenda in the White House. I think the more they learn about Obama, the more they're going to be scared of taking a chance on someone with his ultra-liberal record."

Kessler also said the New York Times article on John McCain has "coalesced conservatives who were sort of going around in circles about him. You know, they're not incredibly enthusiastic yet about him, but they're starting to see the light, that it's either McCain or we get some radical liberal in the White House. And, you know, we have to get real; these are the choices." Who's "we," Ron?

Meanwhile, in another NewsMax video, Martella interviewed Michael Savage about his lawsuit against the Council of American-Islamic Relations, in which he allows Savage to uncritically claim, "I defended myself by suing them for copyright violation. ... They have sued virtually anybody who's ever said anything about Muslims they don't like." Martella didn't mention Savage's own history of suing people who have criticized him.

UPDATE: Added direct link to Savage video.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, March 4, 2008 4:56 PM EST
Friday, February 29, 2008
WND Omits Facts on Group Arrested at Gay Event
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 28 WorldNetDaily article uncritically repeats claims about a group of Christians, led by street preacher Julian Raven, arrested at an, in WND's words, "event celebrating homosexual behavior" in Elmira, N.Y. The article states:

At issue is the arrest of several Christians at a "gay pride" event is Wisner Park in Elmira in 2007. Julian and Gloria Raven and several others entered the park to pray silently for the participants of the event celebrating homosexual behavior.


"It seems oxymoronic to say that by walking silently in a public park, with heads bowed, these people somehow disturbed the peace," [Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Joel] Oster said. "From the sit-ins of the 1960s to today, courts have repeatedly ruled that the police cannot arrest those who peacefully express their message in public places."

While the facts of the case make it seem relatively minor, the ADF said the issue is nothing less than the United States' freedoms of speech and religion.


[Raven] said his team of Christians then went into the park, and they were arrested within three or four minutes.

He said if the situation is left unchallenged, the city of Elmira will be in the position of being able to control the content of people's messages in a lawful assembly – or even thoughts if they are nearby.

"We didn't say boo to a goose, still we were arrested," he said.


"Obviously, they caused a disruption to an event that was taking place," [Assistant Police Chief Mike Robertson] said.

But Raven confirmed to WND the Christians did not approach a single person, did not speak to anyone and did not even make any audible statements until after they were arrested.

But WND failed to include one important fact that contradicts Raven's assertions that he wasn't causing a "disruption": As we noted when WND columnist Janet Folger similarly distorted the facts about this story, the Elmira Star-Gazette reported that Raven's group did its silent praying directly in front of the stage, thus backing up Robertson's assertion that the group "caused a disruption." Further, the newspaper reported, the protesters were quickly released and returned to the event, though not in the park -- another fact that doesn't appear in WND's article.

This kind of factually deficient coverage follows in WND's tradition of painting any group of Christians that disrupts a gay event as, by definition, innocent and omitting facts that make them look bad.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:16 PM EST
Rowan Scarborough's Back
Topic: Washington Examiner

Remember how Rowan Scarborough abruptly "retired" from the Washington Examiner eight months after joining it, shortly after we caught him writing an egregiously biased "news" article featuring a disparaging portrait of CIA official Michael Sulick?

Well, Scarborough's back -- at his former home, the Washington Times. And he brought his bias back there as well: Media Matters notes that a Scarborough article for the Times used anonymous sources to attack Barack Obama as causing "trepidation" among "[m]embers of Washington's military and defense establishment" and distorted Obama's comments about taking action against terrorist targets in Pakistan.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:30 AM EST
NewsBusters Finds Nothing Wrong With Cunningham's Obama Smears
Topic: NewsBusters

The denziens of the Media Research Center rarely see a problem when a conservative makes misleading or false or claims about liberals, or even ones that threaten violence -- witness the MRC's repeated defense of Ann Coulter.

So it's no surprise that NewsBusters can't find anything wrong with radio host Bill Cunningham's tirade against Barack Obama in an introduction for John McCain at a campaign appearance, and was even upset that McCain disavowed Cunningham's vitriol.

Brent Baker, in a Feb. 27 post, calmly noted that Cunningham "dared to utter Barack Obama's middle name and call him 'a hack' Chicago politician" and claimed that media criticism of his performance as damaging McCain was "Damage the media assumed needed undoing."

A Feb. 27 post by Matthew Sheffield touted how Cunningham claimed "John McCain threw me under a bus -- under the Straight Talk Express," which Sheffield added was a reference to "McCain's pretentiously named campaign bus."

Geoffrey Dickens complained that a "Hardball" panel "gripe[d]" about Cunningham's performance, adding, "Like an offensive-line blocking for their quarterback Chris Matthews and the rest of Wednesday night's 'Hardball' panel game-planned to protect Barack Obama from what they saw as the coming 'vicious' and 'nasty' attacks from Republican sack artists in the fall."

And Matthew Balan was alarmed about, as his headline neatly summarized, "Two Straight Nights of Bashing Bill Cunningham on CNN." Balan then strained to avoid being offended by Cunningham's words:

[CNN's John] King explained that "one of the reasons, we are told, that Senator McCain wanted to denounce this quickly was that Bill Cunningham used the word prophet about Barack Obama and then used the word Hussein, his middle name, twice. Clearly, the McCain campaign took this as some way to suggest again, as others have, that Barack Obama is or was a Muslim." Even if King’s statement about McCain and/or his campaign was accurate, it’s odd to conclude that using the word "prophet" and the middle name "Hussein" in an attack on Obama is a hint that the Illinois senator "is or was a Muslim." 

Then what's the point of bringing it up in the first place, let alone repeating it as often as Cunningham does? Please explain. 

Then again, this is a crew that has yet to find anything offensive in Coulter's repeated death threats, so we're talking about a rather desensitized group of folks. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:15 AM EST
Updated: Friday, February 29, 2008 1:25 AM EST
Thursday, February 28, 2008
CNS Ratchets Up Attack on Planned Parenthood

Penny Starr follows up her misleading, unbalanced attack on a teen-targeted Planned Parenthood website in a Feb. 28 article stating: "After reviewing materials posted on Planned Parenthood's Web site at the request of Cybercast News Service, three House Republicans are calling for the termination of Planned Parenthood's federal funding."

Nowhere does Starr state the qualifications, if any, the three congressmen in question -- Doug Lambourn (CO), Steve King (IA) and Joseph Pitts (PA) -- have for passing judgment on sexual education material for adolescents. Nor does Starr include any viewpoints in response to the congressmen's claims, or indicate that she spoke to any Democratic members of Congress. There's also no note that she tried to contact Planned Parenthood for a response, furthering the sham balance nature of Starr's attack on the group.

Among the "content from the site" reviewed by the congressmen, Starr wrote, were "graphic illustrations from 'Behind the Fig Leaf,' a slide show depicting the differing 'styles' of male and female genitalia." No explanation is offered as to why such a presentation -- Starr makes no claim that it's inaccurate or misleading -- should be considered offensive or, in King's words, "advocating promiscuity" and "damaging American culture."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:16 PM EST
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Sleaze Machine
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WND's promotion of never-verified sex-and-drugs claims involving Barack Obama is just the latest in a long line of factually dubious smears of Democratic presidential candidates. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 9:26 AM EST
Kessler Makes False Obama Tax Claim Even More False
Topic: Newsmax

A Feb. 27 Newsmax column by Ronald Kessler states of Barack Obama: "He also co-sponsored a Senate bill to spend at least $845 billion a year to fight global poverty."

As we noted, the bill in question -- which Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid falsely claims "commit[s] the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid" -- contains no spending requirement or tax. And Kessler can't even get the smear right: Kincaid's false claim asserted that the $845 billion the bill purportedly commits the U.S. to is over 13 years, not per year as Kessler claims.

Kessler also throws out the usual misleading conservative distortions of Obama, repeating previous attacks on his church and claiming, "Like a 6-year-old kid who wants to be friends with everyone on the block, Obama has said he would offer prompt negotiations with anti-American despots." 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EST
WND Still Misleads About Terri Schiavo
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 27 WorldNetDaily article on Barack Obama saying that it was a mistake for Congress to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case follows in WND's tradition of misleading claims about the case and bias toward Schiavo's parents, the Schindlers, and against her husband, Michael.

For instance, the article stated that "Michael Schiavo said his wife was suffering from bulimia nervosa at the time of the still-unexplained 1990 collapse that left her injured. He alleged verbal abuse can trigger the eating disorder, and he accused Terri's father of such abuse, a charge described by family members as 'offensive.' " It continued:

The accusation appeared to be an attempt to turn the tables on the family, who in 2002 uncovered a report of a full-body bone scan done on Terri that indicated she had sustained several broken bones and led the interpreting radiologist to conclude she was the victim of abuse. 

This suggestion that Michael Schiavo abused Terri is, by contrast, not countered by any statement from him, let alone the facts.

As one observer pointed out, the radiologist's observations are "pure speculation"; indeed, "the radiologist does note this in the report by stating that the abnormal areas could also be caused by cancer, infection, or infarcts."

The article stated that the claim about the bone scan came from "Diana Lynne, who authored 'Terri's Story: The Court-Ordered Death of an American Woman.'" Unmentioned is the confict-of-interest fact that Lynne was an employee of WND at the time the book -- rife with pro-Schindler, anti-Michael bias, as we detailed -- was published.

The article also states: "Michael Schiavo was awarded a judgment of $750,000 for continuing care for his wife, but WND reported court records show he spent $456,816 of the total on lawyers pursuing her death." This ignores what was spent on lawyers on behalf of the Schindlers, which even Lynne was forced to admit was in excess of $400,000, after writing disingenuously in her book of the Schindlers' side being only a a grass-roots effort."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:49 AM EST
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Armitage-O-Philia Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

In a Feb. 27 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd claimed that "CBS liberal  <s>hack</s> legal analyst Andrew Cohen" "erroneously smeared [Karl] Rove with responsibility for the Valerie Plame leak," insisting that Richard Armitage "took responsibility for the leak."

As we have repeatedly pointed out whenever a NewsBusters writer makes this claim, Shepherd is trying to falsely portray Armitage as the only person responsible for leaking Plame's identity. As we've noted, Rove and Scooter Libby also leaked her identity to reporters, and Robert Novak -- to whom Armitage leaked and who was merely the first among the leaked reporters to to report it -- confirmed Plame's identity with Rove.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:17 PM EST

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