MRC Likens Obama to 'Duke' Cunningham Topic: Media Research Center
A March 3 MRC "Media Reality Check" by Tim Graham creates its own reality by likening Barack Obama's connection to on-trial businessman Tony Rezko to notoriously corrupt congressman 'Duke' Cunningham's cronyism with lobbyists:
Jury selection began today in Chicago in the trial of Syrian-born businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a major supporter of Barack Obama. Two days before the 2006 elections in which Democrats won by running against a “culture of corruption,” Chicago newspapers revealed that Obama purchased a home that summer for $1.6 million, but only because Rezko’s wife bought an adjoining parcel for $625,000 to complete the deal. Rezko was already under federal investigation for kickback schemes.
To a political opponent, this might resemble a lobbyist’s sweetheart deal like the one that started Rep. Duke Cunningham’s political decline, where a lobbyist paid $700,000 more for Cunningham’s home than his own sale price months later.
A "political opponent" like, say, Graham?
But the Obama-Rezko house controversy is nothing like Cunningham's hidden house kickback. Obama made no profit and, indeed, paid what is considered a fair market rate for his house. None of the charges on which Rezko faces trial involve Obama. And, as TPM Muckraker points out, "no substantial evidence has surfaced" to support the claim that "Obama ever did anything for Rezko in return for his purchase of the side yard or all those contributions" to Obama's political campaigns. That contradicts Graham's snarky aside: "How many lunches would a lobbyist have to buy to equal Rezko’s $625,000 parcel purchase?"
Graham claimed that Obama was able to buy the house "only because Rezko’s wife bought an adjoining parcel for $625,000 to complete the deal." But that's not necessarily true; as TPM Muckraker notes:
The main suspicion has been that Rezko's purchase of the side yard at the seller's asking price allowed Obama's purchase of the house to go through since the seller insisted on closing both properties on the same day. But both Obama and Rezko have said that someone else had bid on the side yard, raising the bidding to the asking price. If that's the case, then Obama could have bought the house without Rezko's involvement. And Obama has said that his family has stayed off the side yard and never used it for family activities.
While TPM Muckraker notes that there are unanswered questions about the purchase of the house and lot, Graham has simply assumed the worst interpretation for Obama without detailing the actual facts involved.
Graham also curiously fails to note that Cunningham is a Republican. We can't imagine why...
The Rest of the Homeschooling Story, Ignored By WND Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've previously noted how WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh played the Nazi card in likening a California ruling ordering a family's homeschooled children to attend regular school to "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." We also presumed that Unruh wasn't telling the full story about this case because, well, that's what Unruh does.
Indeed, we were right. The AMPS blog has uncovered what appears to be the complete court ruling about this case and a related case involving the family, and it includes numerous details about the case that Unruh failed to report, presumably because they interfered with his effort to portray homeschoolers as the noble victims of Nazi-like oppression.
Unruh had written:
The judges ruled in the case involving the Longs the family failed to demonstrate "that mother has a teaching credential such that the children can be said to be receiving an education from a credentialed tutor," and that their involvement and supervision by Sunland Christian School's independent study programs was of no value.
Nor did the family's religious beliefs matter to the court.
But according to the court ruling, the parents claimed that Sunland Christian School was a "charter school" without any evidence that it was, as defined by state law. The ruling also pointed out that the parents were depriving their children "of an education in a public or private full-time day school setting, or by a credentialed tutor, through the ruse of enrolling them in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent."
Further, Sunland's "involvement and supervision" appears to have been minimal at best; the school's administrator said "he makes visits to the parents' home about four times a year," and "the children in the family reported to the Department of Children and Family Services social worker that they were given tests at the end of some school years and they took the tests at the Sunland Christian School." Such minimal supervision by Sunland arguably does render it as having "no value."
While Unruh stated that the family has homeschooled their children "because of various anti-Christian influences in California's public schools" -- he later adds the father's assertion that "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" -- the court ruling states:
Over the years, the parents of the children have given various reasons for not sending the children to school. Although previously they have stated they do not believe in the policies of the public school system, more recently they have asserted that they home school because of their religious beliefs. The father also recently opined that educating children outside the home exposes them to "snitches."
The ruling concludes: "Given this history of this family, which we need not discuss here, permitting the parents to educate the children at home by means of a credentialed tutor would likely post too many difficulties for the tutor." What is that history? The related ruling supplied by AMPS, involving the California DCFS' case against the family, details:
The family’s third contact with the juvenile court came when a petition was filed in November 1993 for the same five children plus minor Rachel. According to a Department report in the instant case and a Department report in a 2001 matter involving this family, the six minors were found to be persons coming within the provisions of section 300 on the basis of the following sustained allegations: the parents’ home was dangerous to the minors in that it included, but was not limited to, approximately 60 guns, rifles and/or assault weapons; black powder in an unsecured location; and live ammunition, shells, and magazines, all of which was within access of the minors, and the guns and ammunition were in close proximity to each other. Further, the minors’ home was found to be in [*9] an endangering filthy, unsanitary and unsafe condition, and the minors were chronically filthy, and unsupervised late at night. Additionally, the parents unlawfully concealed the whereabouts of the children from the Department and father willfully gave false information to the court concerning the whereabouts of the children. Eventually all of the minors were released to mother’s care.
The fifth and current involvement of the Department with this [*10] family came as the result of minor Rachel’s contact with the Los Angeles Police Department, Wilshire Division, on January 26, 2006, when she asked to be picked up because she was tired, hungry and had no place to live. She was fourteen years old at the time. She had run away from the family home on October 29, 2005. Rachel told the Department social worker that she was tired of living under father’s house rules. She stated father would hit her with a stick, hanger or shoe if she did not follow his rules. She said he will not let her wear pants at home and she had to wear skirts or dresses, not let her wear makeup, and not let her attend public school. Rachel also reported that Leonard C. repeatedly molested her when she was between the ages of four and nine. He repeatedly groped her and would come into her room when she was in bed and put his finger into her vagina. She said she told the parents about it when she was 12 years old but they did not believe her. She stated the man still comes to the house occasionally and she worries that he might begin molesting her sister Mary Grace. She stated she engages in selfmutilation (cutting herself with a razor blade) and has problems with [*11] depression, but her parents will not send her to therapy because father tells her that speaking with him is all the therapy she needs. She stated she would never be all right with father now because she has been sexually active. She stated she would continue to run away if she is forced to live at home. The social worker reported that Rachel’s situation was similar to her sister Elizabeth’s, who also ran away, wanted to attend public school, objected to father’s house rules, was removed from the home for physical and emotional abuse, and complained that father dominates everyone in the house, including mother.
In the meantime, on January 27, 2006, a visit to the parents' two-bedroom home in Lynwood revealed it was very cramped with the family's belongings, the hallway had a dresser and plastic boxes piled almost to the ceiling and they partially blocked the door to the children's bedroom, which had no door on it. The yard was laded with junk that presented a fire hazard and breeding ground for vermin.
By the [29*] time of the May 18, 2006, adjudication hearing, Rachel was living with her sister Elizabeth. The Department was having difficulty securing a clothing allowance for Rachel because a birth certificate for her was needed but the parents continued to assert there was no birth certificate. Because the parents were not willing to sign an affadavit stating where and when Rachel was born, the Department indicated Rachel would be required to have a bone test done to determine her age, and for that, a medical or court order was necessary.
Rachel stated she is attending public school and likes it. She stated she does not have the same knowledge that the other students in her class have and she is working to catch up to them. Asked how much time she spent each day on being school at the parents' home, she stated "sometimes two hours. [*27] Sometimes half an hour. It depended on what homework it was."
These are the people Unruh is painting as victims of state oppression -- whitewashing their real background in the process.
If Unruh was turning in slanted, incomplete copy when he worked for the Associated Press, as he does for WorldNetDaily, no wonder he doesn't work there anymore.
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 CNSNews.com 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.
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, evidencesuggests 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?
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.
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 CNSNews.com 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."
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"?
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):
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 repeatedlydiscredited 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?
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.
Richard Bartholomew catches Don Feder -- whose work for FrontPageMag.com 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."
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 untrustworthysource of information, and this is yet another example.
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 repeatedlydistorted 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.)
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.
Kessler Drops the Journalistic Figleaf Topic: Newsmax
Ronald Kessler's partisan cover is officially completely blown (as if we didn't knowthatalready).
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.