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Friday, March 14, 2008
Note to ConWeb: Obama HAS Rejected Pastor's Remarks
Topic: NewsBusters

The headline of a March 13 NewsBusters post by John Stephenson, regarding newly reported controversial remarks regarding 9/11 by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of Barack Obama's church in Chicago, asks: "Will Media Hold Obama To Repudiate His Pastor's Hateful Remarks?" Stephenson asks again in the post: "When will Obama repudiate the message of hate from his own minister, who is a part of his campaign?" he then answers his own question: "Don't expect Obama to repudiate these remarks." Stephenson then proudly states that "FOX has been reporting this like the damning story it is," adding, "Will this story get the legs it should have, or will the media try to sweep it under the rug?"

Sorry to interrupt Stephenson's witchhunt, but Obama has, in fact, specifically disavowed Wright's 9/11 comments that Stephenson is in such high dudgeon about. In fact, he did so nearly a year ago.

A March 14 WorldNetDaily column by Hal Lindsey similarly gins up some outrage over Wright's remarks, then selectively quotes the April 2007 New York Times article in which Obama disavowed the statements:

Note especially Wright's assessment of the attacks on New York, Washington and the skies over Pennsylvania: "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Is this one of those comments Obama's "old uncle" says that he doesn't "always" agree with – or one of those he doesn't find "particularly controversial"?

Not really, says Obama. "It sounds like he was trying to be provocative," he told a New York Times reporter.

What the Times actually wrote (with the relevant part Lindsey didn't include in bold):

On the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later he wrote that the attacks had proved that “people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns.”

Such statements involve “a certain deeply embedded anti-Americanism,” said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative group that studies religious issues and public policy. “A lot of people are going to say to Mr. Obama, are these your views?”

Mr. Obama says they are not.

“The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification,” he said in a recent interview. He was not at Trinity the day Mr. Wright delivered his remarks shortly after the attacks, Mr. Obama said, but “it sounds like he was trying to be provocative.”

Will Stephenson or Lindsey ever acknowledge this? Don't count on it. 

Meanwhile, back at NewsBusters, Mark Finkelstein weighs in: "Raise your hand if you think [CNN's Anderson] Cooper wouldn't be so quick to move on if the Republican presidential nominee had such a close relationship with a pastor of comparably extreme views." 

Wait -- wasn't John McCain recently endorsed by an evangelist who has called the Catholic Church "The Great Whore" and a "false cult system"? Those aren't "extreme views"?

Apparently not, as far as Finkelstein is concerned -- as we've noted, he and his fellow MRC employees have not been particularly moved to denounce Hagee, even though they have a history of criticizing statements they consider anti-Catholic.

UPDATE: Also worth noting is that McCain has as a "spiritual adviser" one Rev. Rod Parsley, who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it, and even claimed that America founded to destroy Islam. We're noting it because nobody at the MRC seems to have an interest in doing so.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:07 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, March 14, 2008 12:13 PM EDT
Chastain Misleads on Obama House Purchase
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 13 WorldNetDaily column by Jane Chastain claimed that Barack Obama "received a suspiciously good deal on the home he bought – around $300,000 less than the asking price – on the very same day that Tony Rezko's wife bought the vacant lot next door for the full asking price. Shortly thereafter, Obama bought part of that vacant lot from the Rezkos to expand his yard. Hmmm!"

In fact, the couple who sold the house to Obama said Obama's $1.65 million bid "was the best offer" and "they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:14 AM EDT
Thursday, March 13, 2008
CNS Attack on Planned Parenthood Continues

A March 13 article by Penny Starr continues her war on a Planned Parenthood-operated website offering sex-related information to teens. Starr features a a director of porn movies praising the website -- and, of course, someone criticizing the "endorsement."

Missing from Starr's article -- and from all of Starr's articles regarding the Planned Parenthood website to date -- is any comment from Planned Parenthood. Starr doesn't even bother to note whether she contacted PP for a response. Sham balance lives!

Posted by Terry K. at 10:28 PM EDT
Good Timing
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's an interesting bit of timing that on the same day we lay out our argument that WorldNetDaily is effectively condoning child abuse by refusing to report on the abusive history of the family at the center of the California homeschooling ruling, WND editor Joseph Farah pens a column arguing that the rise in S&M fetishes has a correlation to the decline in corporal punishment for children.

No, really:

Let's see, tens of millions of children are spanked in the U.S. and maybe a few thousand people in San Francisco like whips and chains. I'm willing to bet it's the latter who were not spanked. And that's why they want it.

In fact, I can prove that spanking doesn't lead to S&M.

Is spanking on the decline in our society? Yes.

Is S&M on the increase? Yes.

It used to be that practically everyone spanked their kids. That's the way it was 40 years ago. It was normal and healthy. "Spare the rod, spoil the child," was the conventional wisdom of the day, and there were precious few S&M bars around in those days. In fact, no one even knew what S&M was.

But with the popularity of Benjamin Spock's child-rearing tips came a decline in spanking. Within a decade, came the rise of sexual deviancy in all forms.

Farah concludes by declaring, "God says parents should spank their children and be firm disciplinarians."

It sounds like Farah would be proud of Phillip Long's brand of discipline and that WND ought to be proud to report it in detail. So why won't it?

Posted by Terry K. at 2:43 PM EDT
Topic: NewsBusters

In a shocking turn of events, a March 12 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard -- who has a long history of not disclosing the conservative, energy industry-funded nature of groups who oppose action on global warming -- made a small concession to the idea of full disclosure by describing the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is buying attack ads on Al Gore, as "conservative."

Bravo, Mr. Sheppard! Maybe next time you can deign to tell your readers that CEI has accepted funding from energy companies like ExxonMobil. We know full disclosure is a painful thing for someone not used to offering it, but you'll feel much better once you do.

Further, while Sheppard attacks "the dangers inherent in policies advocated by Nobel Laureate Al Gore," nowhere does Sheppard baselessly accuse Gore of being a global warming activist just for the money. Does this mean that Sheppard has accepted the latter half of our put-up-or-shut-up challenge to him to offer actual evidence for his claim about Gore?


Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 AM EDT
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Downward Spiral
Topic: WorldNetDaily
First was the libel lawsuit. Then there was the embrace of never-verified claims about Barack Obama. Now WND is effectively condoning child abuse by whitewashing a California family's dysfunctional home life in order to advance its pro-homeschooling agenda. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 AM EDT
This Is Whitewashing?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In a March 12 WorldNetDaily article headlined "Israeli media whitewashing 'peace partner'?" Aaron Klein writes:

The Israeli media today portrayed the assassinated planner of last week's Jerusalem shooting massacre as a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group even though he is a well-known activist from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, WND has learned.

The U.S. considers Fatah to be moderate. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government has been holding regular negotiations with Abbas' officials in line with last November's U.S.-backed Annapolis Summit, which seeks to create a Fatah-led Palestinian state by the end of the year.

How, exactly, is that "whitewashing"? After all, Islamic Jihad sounds much more sinister than Fatah.

Real whitewashing is, say, obscuring the fact that one's sources are violent right-wing extremists.

There's another issue with Klein's article, as well as a March 7 article in which he first claimed that the alleged planner of the attack, Muhammad Shehadi, as belonging to Fatah: He doesn't quote anyone on the record saying it.

The March 7 article cites only anonymous "senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials" as making the claim, adding that "According to Palestinian security officials familiar with Shehadi, after losing the 2006 election as a Fatah leader, Jihadi worked for about six months for the Islamic Jihad terror group but then switched back to Fatah." Klein's March 12 article repeats a claim that "Shehadi is a well-known Fatah activist who ran unsuccessfully in the 2006 Palestinian elections as a local Fatah legislator from Bethlehem," but he offers no attribution for the claim.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:11 AM EDT
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Funny, We Don't Recall ...
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March 12 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham writes: "Geraldo Rivera of Fox News keeps proving the ideological diversity of the FNC staff on his book tour attacking opponents of illegal immigration."

Funny, we don't recall anyone at the MRC saying that Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs keep proving the ideological diversity of the CNN staff.

Elsewhere on NewsBusters, Ken Shepherd is put out that a picture of Tucker Carlson in a Washington, D.C., commuter paper carried the caption "Go ahead: Slap him in your imagination." Does this mean Shepherd now denounces (and rejects) the Slap Hillary website?

Posted by Terry K. at 6:48 PM EDT
The Evil of Marketing, Redux
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 12 WorldNetDaily article on the lawsuit filed by former Ohio college librarian Scott Savage against the school and faculty members who criticized him repeats the misleading claim that Savage was accused of "sexual harrassment" for recommending that students read right-wing books such as WND managing editor David Kupelian's "The Marketing of Evil."

As we detailed at the time, Savage was accused of "harassment based on sexual orientation," not "sexual harassment." The "sexual harassment" claim came from misleading press releases by the Alliance Defense Fund, which defended Savage then.

If you'll remember, WND and the ADF had an apparently cozy relationship which WND milked to promote Kupelian's book. So it's not surprising that at the end of the March 12 article is a promo for the book, which is "available, autographed and personalized, from WorldNetDaily's online store."

WND also curiously offers no background of Savage's currrent attorney, Tom Condit, who appears to be a right-wing activist attorney in the tradition of the ADF. An article at the anti-abortion group Operation Save America website describes Condit as "a pro-life lawyer from Cincinnati, Ohio." He is a graduate of the ADF's National Litigation Academy, which "provides volunteer and allied attorneys with intensive training to effectively battle the ACLU and serve the Body of Christ." He has also represented parents "who claim their daughter was coerced into an abortion by an adult boyfriend with the connivance of Planned Parenthood employees."

Posted by Terry K. at 4:48 PM EDT
WND Doesn't Tell Other Side of Savage's Lawsuit
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 11 WorldNetDaily article on a judge's dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Michael Savage against the Council on Islamic-American RelationsCouncil on Islamic-American Relations -- as did a March 7 article on the subject -- didn't report CAIR's arguments for dismissal, even though it went into lengthy detail about Savage's accusations against CAIR.

Both articles stated that "The San Francisco-based talker originally accused the organization of copyright violations, but later amended the action to include allegations the group 'has consistently sought to silence opponents of violent terror through economic blackmail, frivolous but costly lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and abuses of the legal system' " and offered a point-by-point detailing of Savage's claims. But WND reported only that the judge in the case "was 'leaning toward tossing out' the action" without explaining why beyond stating that "she found free speech arguments persuasive."

According to the Associated Press article on which WND claimed its March 7 article was based:

But the judge said she found "persuasive" CAIR's arguments that free speech protections allowed the organization to use the clip to criticize and comment on Savage's views even if the content is used for fundraising purposes.

CAIR's attorney Thomas Burke argued that a federal appeals court validated that position in 1986 when it said the Moral Majority could use Hustler Magazine's unflattering parody of the religious group's founder Rev. Jerry Falwell to raise money for a legal fund.

"Michael Savage is just unwilling to accept criticism going the other way," Burke said outside court. "This lawsuit is about punishing CAIR for criticizing him."

None of this found its way into WND's articles. Similarly, as we've noted, WND has never mentioned Savage's history of suing his critics, nor has it disclosed its previous business relationship with Savage, which included publishing his early books under the WND Books imprint.

Given WND's unfortunate history of trusting people who sling mud at their favorite targets, it would behoove WND to try a little actual journalism for once and not blindly accept smears as fact -- especially from the likes of Michael Savage.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 PM EDT
Ted Baehr Misleads About Anti-Evolution Film Criticism
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Richard Bartholomew reports that Ted Baehr is engaging in a bit of hypocrisy in his March 10 WorldNetDaily column, in which he expressed upset that "A reporter even posed as a minister to sneak into a church screening" of Ben Stein's new anti-evolution, pro-creationism film, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." In fact, the reporter in question, the Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore, received a legitimate invitation to the screening from the film's marketers, which the issuer then tried to revoke. Further, there's no evidence that Moore misrepresented himself as a minister to get into the film.

Bartholomew points out that back in 2004, Baehr was upset that anti-Kinsey activist Judith Reisman was kept out of screening of the film "Kinsey." 

Moore himself has noted that the movie's makers "didn't want non-Christian opinion-makers" to attend pre-release screenings because they only want "lots of like-minded preachers and lay-people 'reviewing' it before I do, aka The Passion of the Christ."

WorldNetDaily is parroting the producers' line perfectly: Joseph Farah dutifully puffed the movie in his March 4 column, declaring Stein "my old friend and colleague" and proclaiming his film "exposé-tainment at its best."

Farah also goes on to note that Stein interviews "the scientists who are dogmatic about evolution"; similarly, Baehr writes that "Ben Stein takes on atheists and Darwinian evolutionists like Richard Dawkins and exposes the fact that they are logically challenged." But both Farah and Baehr fail to note that Stein obtained those interviews under false pretenses

Posted by Terry K. at 1:32 AM EDT
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
About Those Credentials ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 10 WorldNetDaily article expressed outrage that WND's Jerome Corsi was "barred ... from attending a news conference in which Secretary Mary Peters defended the controversial Bush administration program allowing Mexican trucks to travel freely on U.S. roads." The article also included a defense of WND from editor Joseph Farah:

"WND sent a New York-based reporter to Washington to cover an area within his specialization, only to be turned away by bureaucrats for not being 'credentialed,'" said Joseph Farah, WND's founder and editor.

"WorldNetDaily is credentialed by the Senate Press Gallery to cover the Capitol. WorldNetDaily is credentialed to cover the White House. WorldNetDaily is a member in good standing of the Washington Press Club. Our reporter on the scene is a Harvard Ph.D and best-selling author. WorldNetDaily is one of the largest news sources in the world, larger than any newspaper websites except the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today. If those credentials aren't good enough, I’d sure like to know which journalists were permitted in the Department of Transportation hearing."

It's rather amusing to see Farah tout that it's "credentialed by the Senate Press Gallery to cover the Capitol" as evidence that it's a legitimate news organization. As we noted, back in 2002 when WND was hectoring the Senate Press Gallery into giving WND that credential, one of the arguments it made was that the gallery's standards were so low that credentials had already been given to "official government mouthpieces such as Egypt's Al-Ahram and China's Xinhua News Agency."

Further, as we learned in the Jeff Gannon case -- and as proven by the possessor of WND's White House press credential, Les Kinsolving -- the bar for obtaining White House press credentials is not terribly high.

Maybe Secretary Peters knows all about WND's unfortunate record of false reporting and Corsi's own record of using WND to attack a former friend. Maybe that's why Corsi and WND didn't get in the door.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:00 PM EDT
CNS Writer Misrepresents 'Path to 9/11' Controversy
Topic: NewsBusters

What happens to stories so bad that even CNS won't run them? They apparently end up at NewsBusters.

A March 11 NewsBusters post by CNS reporter Kevin Mooney (which does not appear at CNS) misrepresents the controversy over the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" and leaves out facts about ABC/Disney's purported refusal to market a DVD of the series. Mooney writes:

Disney’s unwillingness to make the film available on DVD suggests Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger is working to advance his own political interests at the expense of shareholders, Tom Borelli, a portfolio manager with the Free Enterprise Action Fund contends. Iger has been a consistent and steady contributor to Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.), Borelli pointed out. He also asked Disney officials to explain why they have thus refused to sell the film rights to Lionsgate.

1) Mooney never explains what the Free Enterprise Action Fund or why its manager is making a political statement about it. From the fund's website:

Left-wing social and political activists are harnessing the power, resources and influence of publicly-owned corporations to advance their social and political agendas. (1) Frustrated by their failure to advance their agendas in the public political process, these activists use capitalism against capitalism under the guise of “corporate social responsibility” and “socially responsible investing.” (2) Their movement threatens shareholder value and the American system of free enterprise.

Leveraging its status as an institutional shareholder in hundreds of America’s largest companies, the Fund aims to defend free enterprise from the Left’s use of capitalism against capitalism.

2) Mooney and Borelli never explain why Disney should allow Lionsgate to distribute the DVD when Disney has its own distribution arm. Further, Mooney fails to note that the Hollywood Reporter stated: "Contacted after the meeting, Lionsgate insiders said that there is no serious interest in acquiring the DVD rights to 'Path.'"

Mooney goes on to note that "Top Democratic Party officials, including former members of the Clinton administration, claim the film is laced with inaccuracies. Madeline Albright, the secretary of state under President Clinton, Sandy Berger, the former national security advisor and Bruce Lindsey, a Clinton attorney all expressed strong reservations about the film to Disney," but he doesn't mention specific inaccuracies to which they objected.

Meanwhile, Mooney uncritically repeats Borelli's claim that "The film has come under criticism not because Democratic officials are suddenly concerned about objective facts but because they are concerned about safeguarding President Clinton’s legacy particularly as it pertains to the ineffective counter-terrorism practices in the 1990s that are exposed in the film." Mooney also promotes an upcoming film by "former Los Angles radio host" John Ziegler who claims (without evidence, of course) that "The Path to 9/11" "was easy on the Clinton administration."

Mooney adds:

However, the overriding point the filmmaker hopes most to drive home most in this new documentary – tentatively entitled “Blocking the Path” – is how constrained Clinton became in fighting back against terrorism in the midst of impeachment.

“Clinton was relying on his approval ratings to remain in office,” Ziegler said. “So he couldn’t go after Bin Laden and risk disaster and risk losing American operatives”

Does this mean that Ziegler will detail how Republicans share some of the blame for forcing an impeachment action against Clinton that constrained him in fighting terrorism? Don't count on it.

Mooney, by the way, makes no mention of Ziegler's politics; Ziegler's Wikipedia page calls him "a strong supporter of President Bush's policies following 9/11" and notes that Ziegler describes himself as "more libertarian than conservative, more conservative than liberal."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:39 PM EDT
WND's Simpson Whitewashes Homeschooling Case
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A March 10 WorldNetDaily column by Barbara Simpson engages in the expected overheated rhetoric in the Phillip Long homeschooling case -- "Living in this country today is like being stranded in the middle of a hail storm" -- but Simpson also whitewashes the facts behind the Long case. She writes:

This case came about because of a child welfare investigation in Los Angeles County. Mary and Philip Long were homeschooling their eight children. Mrs. Long is the teacher, but she's not credentialed. The children were also enrolled in the Sunland Christian School as part of an independent study program.

Apparently, one of the children complained to someone about "mistreatment." As part of the investigation, a juvenile court judge found the children were being "poorly educated" (because of homeschooling) but made no changes.

However, lawyers appointed for the children after child advocates got involved pursued the issue. The appeals court then ordered the children to state schools, not permitting them to continue with Sunland school because it (Sunland) "was willing to participate in the deprivation of the children's right to a legal education."

Simpson doesn't mention that courts have found that were was, in fact, mistreatment going on by the father against his children and that the house where the family lived was in "an endangering filthy, unsanitary and unsafe condition, and the minors were chronically filthy, and unsupervised late at night."

Further, the judge did not conclude that the children were being "poorly educated" because they were being homeschooled; the judge made no general statement about the overall quality of homeschooled. Rather, the judge stated that, in this case, the education the children received at home as "lousy," "meager," and "bad," and that the supervision by the Christian school with which the family was affiliated was minimal at best. One child testified that she "was not taught geography or history. Asked if she can add, subtract, multiply and divide, [she] stated she cannot."

Does Simpson really consider such meager so-called homeschooling superior to the public schools she attacks? Or such an abusive family to be the ideal place for children to be raised? Let's hope not.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:19 AM EDT
Monday, March 10, 2008
A Free Ride of Another Kind
Topic: NewsBusters

In a March NewsBusters post, Tim Graham trumpets the Washington Post's tweak of the new book by David Brock and Paul Waldman of Media Matters (disclosure: our employer) about fawning media coverage of John McCain, "Free Ride," that "oops, the title doesn’t match the rough reporting coming out from newspapers on McCain’s alleged hypocrisy (and adultery?) with lobbyists."

Graham, of course, co-wrote with Brent Bozell a book about fawning media coverage of Hillary Clinton, "Whitewash." But what's the headline on this NewsBusters post today by Mark Finkelstein?

'Today' Pans Hil's Obama-for-VP Ploy: Ignorant, Arrogant, Illogical, Condescending

Oops, indeed.

Nevertheless, Graham writes that "the MRC will allow that Hillary Clinton hasn't always received a 'free ride'" (while not offering any examples that it has done so without also trying to explain how that doesn't conflict with his book's thesis). But the promotional copy for "Whitewash" tells a different story:

In Whitewash, L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, America’s largest and most respected media watchdog organization, expose the unprecedented media favoritism that is the real key to Hillary’s political career. Marshalling stunning evidence compiled exclusively by the Media Research Center, the authors show how the media have relentlessly promoted Hillary from the moment in 1992 when Time magazine introduced her to the country as an “amalgam of Betty Crocker, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.”

We're not seeing any equivocating there. (Of course, that description is a bit misleading.)

Graham also purports to elucidate the difference between the MRC and Media Matters (apparently because "Brent would want to avoid having the two groups blurred into identical twins"). Media Matters, Graham writes, "spreads the search for "misinformation" all over radio and the Internet and opinion sections everywhere, trying to make everyone avoid the biased "mainstream" media roaring behind the curtain," while the MRC "tr[ies] to stick to news reporting." That, of course, is why the MRC has studies on Rosie O'Donnell and bloggers at the Huffington Post.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:47 PM EDT

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