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Tuesday, March 4, 2008
MRC Finally Mentions Hagee Controversy
Topic: Media Research Center

Five days after the fact, the endorsement of John McCain by anti-Catholic evangelist John Hagee finally gets some attention by the Media Research Center.

A March 4 article by Josiah Ryan focused on the endorsement and pointed out other controversial statements. But apparently in an effort to prove that its faux balance is bipartisan, no apparent effort is made to contact McCain's campaign for a response beyond what it stated last week, when it distanced McCain from Hagee's views but did not renounce the endorsement.

By contrast, a March 4 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker mentioned it only in passing but was not so eager to discuss the issue, instead complaining that a statement in which Gloria Steinem allegedly "ridiculed John McCain's years as a prisoner of war" did not get more play. Baker also put the word "controversy" in scare quotes to describe Bill Cunningham's attack on Barack Obama last week.

As we've noted, the MRC is usually Johnny-on-the-spot to denounce statements it considers anti-Catholic. Its actions here, though -- contradicting its own history of behavior and even Brent Bozell's own Catholicism -- recall its refusal to criticize Ann Coulter even when she wishes death upon her political enemies.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EST
Inaccuracy in Academia
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In a Feb. 28 Accuracy in Media article endeavoring to paint Franklin Roosevelt as a racist, Accuracy in Academia (an AIM sister group) executive director Malcolm Kline misleads about Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black's Ku Klux Klan ties:

To top it all off, Roosevelt was the first president to put a Klansman on the U. S. Supreme Court-a move that Woodrow Wilson is never known to have contemplated. Although FDR proclaimed ignorance of this colorful aspect of Hugo Black's past when asked about it in the 1930s, the justice himself offered a far different recollection in a 1968 memo.

"President Roosevelt, when I went up to lunch with him, told me there was not reason for my worrying about my having been a member of the Ku Klux Klan," Justice Black remembered. "He said that some of his best friends and supporters he had in the state of Georgia were strong members of that organization."

"He never, in any way, by word or attitude, indicated any doubt about my having been in the Klan, nor did he indicate any criticism of me for having been a member of that organization," Black wrote. "The rumors and statements to the contrary are wrong."

Now there's a twist on the old "some of my best friends are..." dodge of charges of racial prejudice. Don't expect this chapter in Black History to be taught in many classrooms or lecture halls anytime soon, in February or any other month.

As we've noted, evidence suggests that Black was a member of the Klan for a couple of years in the 1920s -- when the Klan was undergoing a resurgence by expanding its targets to Catholics, Jews and foreigners -- out of a combination of political expediency and anti-Catholic animus, not out of racist sympathies. Kline curiously fails to mention Black's record of championing civil rights, presumably because it would interfere with his narrative.

Kline followed up with a Feb. 29 article -- like the first, regurgitated from Bruce Bartlett's guilt-by-association book "Wrong On Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past" -- branding Woodrow Wilson as a racist. Nowhere does Kline offer evidence that Wilson or Roosevelt (or Black, for that matter) were any more extreme in their racial views than that of the general white population in the United States at the time.

Isn't a group called Accuracy in Academia supposed to care about, you know, accuracy in academia instead of rehashing conservative talking points?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:57 AM EST
Waters Downplays Anti-Immigrant Strain of Anti-Illegal Activism
Topic: NewsBusters

A March 3 NewsBusters post (and TimesWatch item) by Clay Waters bashed a New York Times article for "blithely refer[ring] to anti-immigration movements, without bothering to clarify that what most protestors oppose is illegal immigration, not immigration per se," adding, "Get the hint? If you are against illegal immigration today, you are akin to 'nativist,' violent, racist mobs from over a century ago."

But Waters ignores that, as we documented, there is a not-insignificant strain of anti-illegal-immigration activists -- prominent enough to be published on the ConWeb -- who also oppose legal immigration and want to return to the time in the 1920s when legal immigration to the U.S. was all but shut down (and racist and eugenicist arguments were made to do so). While such arguments today may not be explicitly racist, they can certainly be described as xenophobic.

Waters wants us to believe that all anti-illegal-immigration activists support legal immigration, which is not neccesarily the case, perhaps to an extent Waters may not want to acknowledge.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 AM EST
Monday, March 3, 2008
CNS Channels Drudge

The Drudge Report used the headline "Hillary: Obama Not Muslim 'As Far As I Know' ... " to link to a "60 Minutes" clip in which, in fact, Hillary Clinton responds "Of course not" to Steve Kroft's question, "You don't believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim?" adding, "you know, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that." Clinton went on to answer "Right. Right" to Kroft's statement, "And you said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not a Muslim." Kroft went on to ask, "You don't believe that he's a Muslim or implying, right?" to which Clinton responded, "No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know."

So Drudge's headline is wrong; Clinton never questioned Obama's professed Christian faith. So what does the headline on a March 3 article by Susan Jones on Clinton's "60 Minutes" interview read?

You guessed it: "Obama Not Muslim 'As Far As I Know,' Hillary Says."

While Jones correctely reported Clinton's answer to Kroft's first question, she falsely suggested that Clinton's "as far as I know" response was to the question about "taking Sen. Obama at his word" rather than to the question "You don't believe that he's a Muslim or implying, right?"

Jones does flatly state, "Obama is not Muslim. He is Christian," but then adds that "lately," Obama "is going out of his way to emphasize his Christian faith." She doesn't mention that her own employer has tried to obscure Obama's faith, such as a Feb. 25 article by Fred Lucas on "Muslim supporters of Sen. Barack Obama." Lucas could not bring himself to unequivocably state Obama's faith, saying only, "Obama has professed his Christian faith, although his father is a Muslim."

UPDATE: Media Matters has more

Posted by Terry K. at 2:53 PM EST
Updated: Monday, March 3, 2008 10:42 PM EST
Vox Plays the Nazi Card
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Vox Day must have inhaled Bob Unruh's Nazi smear, for he regurgitates his own version in his Marcy 3 WorldNetDaily column:

This is particularly significant in light of an appeals court's decision to declare war on the homeschooling families of California. The school Nazis are not the least bit concerned with educating the children, but rather making sure that it is their values that are instilled into the state's children, not the parents', and so have transformed the public schools from purported centers for collective learning into avowed intellectual death camps. 

Thus is the problem with treating WND as a reliable news source. Day offers no evidence whatsoever -- even Unruh's slanted account -- to support his claim that California has "declare[d] war on the homeschooling families." But what do you expect in a column headlined "Note to parents: Let schools burn"?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:19 AM EST
Updated: Monday, March 3, 2008 9:25 AM EST
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

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