The MRC's efforts to downplay inflammatory statements by right-wing preachers continues apace: A March 24 NewsBusters post by Justin McCarthy states:
['The View" co-hosts Joy] Behar and Whoopi Goldberg justified Barack Obama’s connection to Jeremiah Wright by pointing to Bush’s association with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and their many controversial remarks. It could be a valid point if Falwell or Robertson were Bush’s pastor for 20 years. Neither of them ever were.
As we've noted, the MRC has been apologists for Falwell's history of statements -- as well as those made by John McCain endorsers John Hagee and Rod Parsley, calling them insignificant (when they mention them at all) compared to those made by Wright.
On a related front, a March 24 NewsBusters post by Seton Motley (reprinted at Human Events) accuses the media of engaging in a "Plan to Protect Obama" without noting the MRC's own Plan to Protect McCain by downplaying remarks by the pastors who have endorsed him. In fact, Motley doesn't mention Hagee, Parsley or any other right-wing pastor at all. And Tim Graham complained that, during an interview with Obama, CNN's Larry King "didn’t ask a single question about [Wright] until 32 minutes had elapsed on the show, and then devoted just 20 minutes to it." Which, of course, is 20 minutes more than Graham has spent on Hagee and Parsley.
WND Adds Reporter Who Shares Its Bias Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 23 WorldNetDaily article announced that it has added Chelsea Schilling, a former WND reporting intern and current (apparent part-time) assistant commentary editor, "as a full-time general assignment reporter upon her graduation from college in May." The article touts her "perfect 4.0 grade point average in pursuit of her journalism degree."
So, what can we expect from Schilling? Will her work be any more fair and balanced and accurate than that of, say, Bob Unruh? A perusal through the ConWebWatch archives during the time of Schilling's WND reporting internship suggests not:
Schilling has unquestioningly parroted Alliance Defense Fund press releases without making an effort to gather the full story.
Schilling called Hillary Clinton a "clown" for having purportedly "cried three times to gain voter sympathy." Schilling claimed Hillary answered one questioner with "a pathetically contrived tremble" and anonther with "crocodile tears," as if she could divine Hillary's true emotions. Schilling also tossed out a casual smear of John Edwards as "Miss Sunshine Breck."
Further, the other two news outlets with which Schilling has claimed professional experience -- USA Radio Network and the Sacramento Union -- are both conservative (the latter with its own bias problems).
That's what you have to look forward to when Schilling goes full-time -- in other words, exactly what we've come to expect from WND. A perfect GPA doesn't make you less biased.
AIM Tries Playing the Manchurian Card on Obama Topic: Accuracy in Media
A March 18 AIM Report tries to play the Manchurian Candidate card against Barack Obama. It carries the headline, "Is Barack Obama A Marxist Mole?" and claims there is "mounting public concern about a candidate who has come out of virtually nowhere" that he's, well, a commie.
It's largely a rehash of a Feb. 18 column by Cliff Kincaid making a big deal out of the claim that an Obama mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, was purportedly an unrepentant commie. The AIM Report builds on that by ramping up the anti-communist paranoia with subheads like "Fellow Travelers" and "The Nature Of The Threat" and, most ominously, "OBAMA’S SECRET SOCIALIST CONNECTIONS."
Kincaid and AIM seem a tad desperate to portray Obama as a secret commie, since portraying him as a secret Muslim didn't work out so well.
WND Repeats Personal Smear of Schaeffer Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 21 WorldNetDaily article by Art Moore is aimed at attacking Frank Schaeffer, son of late "evangelical thinker" Francis Schaeffer, and Moore is not afraid to throw a personal smear or two in the mix.
Moore was responding to an article by Frank Schaeffer "in the Baltimore Community Times" -- in fact, it first appeared at the Huffington Post -- stating that the controversial statements made by Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are no different from those made by "thousands of right-wing white preachers," who say, "as my dad often did, that we are, 'under the judgment of God.' They call America evil and warn of imminent destruction. By comparison Obama's minister's shouted 'controversial' comments were mild."
Moore makes no apparent attempt to contact Frank Schaeffer to explain himself or respond to criticism -- a practice familiar those who have observed his whitewashing of professional Clinton-bashers Peter Paul and Kathleen Willey. Indeed, Schaeffer's basic point is never rebutted. Rather, he cites a personal attack "evangelical writer and social critic Os Guinness," who panned Frank Schaeffer's book on his break with the evangelical movement in a Christianity Today article:
Guinness says the "real truth is that Franky, as he then called himself, was spoiled. He was more like a poster child for Benjamin Spock than the son of 'fundamentalist missionaries.'"
"Having been born well after his sisters, and having survived polio as a child, he was rarely challenged, disciplined, or denied," he writes. "As a result, he grew up a 'little Napoleon,' as some of the L'Abri students called him. He would boast that he could twist his parents around his little finger, and time and again he proved it."
That's right -- personal attacks, not intellectual arguments, are an acceptable form of rebuttal in a WND "news" article.
A March 23 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard cited a poll by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research claiming that a majority of people poll said that Barack Obama's speech on race and the controversial statements made by his pastor made them "less likely" to vote for him. This, Sheppard said, contradicts "media member after media member" who "gushed over Barack Obama's performance in Philadelphia on Tuesday."
But what the heck is InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research, and what is the Southern Political Report, which first reported the poll? We've never heard of 'em.
Turns out that InsiderAdvantage and the Southern Political Report are both divisions of a company called Internet News Agency, the chairman and CEO of which is Matt Towery. Towery is -- according to his bio at the conservative Townhall.com, where he writes a weekly column -- is a former "campaign chairman for Newt Gingrich and chief strategist for numerous national political campaigns." He is also a "former National Republican legislator of the year."
In other words, he appears to be exactly the kind of guy who has an interest in advancing the idea that Obama's speech hurt him.
Indeed, the poll has a major hole in it: While it accounts for those who were aware of Obama's speech and the situation regarding his pastor, it does not further break down responses for those to actually watched the speech. The press release on the poll does sort of acknowledge this:
Barack Obama’s speech about race on Tuesday impressed many who witnessed it or read it. But most of America did neither, and many of them -- white and black -- were less persuaded of the speech’s capacity to heal racial wounds, or to put the issue of race behind Obama as he continues his quest for the White House.
The release goes on to add: "It’s easy to read too much into this poll." Yet that's what Sheppard seems to be trying to do.
Why didn't Sheppard mention any of this? Perhaps because it would undermine his own argument against liberal media bias.
Presumably WND understands that by taking explicit sides in a political race -- not to mention equating political candidates to terrorists in a manner more suited to partisan hacks than a "news" organization -- it gives up any remaining credibility as a news source, that its news reports on said race will be forever seen as trafficking in bias. Of course, WND has always done this, as its repeated, factually dubious (if not outright false) attacks on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama attest.
Needless to say, a real news organization would never sell such a bumper sticker.
Apparently, with the admission that it published false information about Al Gore, Joseph Farah and Co. have stopped caring about the issue of bias, or even the truth. It's a site that peddles lies, distortions and hate, and damn proud of it.
A March 21 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh claiming that "The Canadian government has ordered a Christian ministry that teaches doctrine and the differences between Christians and cults shut down because its reference materials were 'critical' of the beliefs of those who are not Christian" is curiously vague on some details.
Unruh talks only to Lorri MacGregor, head of MM Outreach Media Ministries, formerly MacGregor Ministries, who claims she was forced to move her operation to the United States as a result of the alleged problems in Canada. Unruh does not talk to any representative of the Canadian government; heck, there's not even a mention of which specific government agency purportedly had a problem with MacGregor's ministry.
Would Unruh have been able to get away with such a one-sided, one-source article if he had still been working for the Associated Press? Absolutely not.
Unruh also whitewashes MacGregor's group, painting it as a benign group that criticizes, among other things, "fads" in church worship, "including a 'creeping Eastern mysticism' appearing in some churches," with a particular focus on Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. But Unruh doesn't mention the numerous other groups MacGregor objects to -- such as Catholics. One article on MacGregor's website calls the Catholic Church an "idolatrous Harlot" and "deceivers." Another denounced the Catholic veneration of Mary.
Does this mean that, by giving MacGregor such fawning coverage, that Unruh is anti-Catholic too? After all, we've seen evidence of WND's anti-Catholicism before, most recently in its silence on John McCain endorser John Hagee's Catholic-bashing, so it wouldn't be surprising.
MacGregor's ministry has also attacked Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church -- of particular issue for WND since it has had relationships with some of the church's operations in the past, relationships it has never quite renounced -- indeed, last year WND uncritically praised the Washington Times without mentioning anything about Moon.
Unruh has a history of telling only one side of the story; add this one to the list.
MRC's Knight Joins the Equivocation Party Topic: Media Research Center
We've noted that even as writers at the Media Research Center demanded that Barack Obama break off all ties with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, they refused to distance themselves from Jerry Falwell over his numerous controversial statements.
That equivocation continues in a March 20 piece (published at CNSNews.com and Townhall.com) by Robert Knight, director of the MRC's Culture and Media Institute. Responding to a Washington Post column by Michael Gerson in which he likened Wright to "my friend Jerry Falwell," which Knight called "scurrilous" and "vile." Knight claimed:
First, unlike Wright, Jerry Falwell was no hater. After his most controversial moment, when he blamed pro-abortion and pro-homosexual groups for 9-11 as God’s punishment on America for abandoning moral standards, he apologized. In his many years of opposing abortion and homosexual activism, he also offered the good news that Christ died for everyone and that no one is beyond the possibility of grace. He did not use profanity, nor did he repeatedly degrade any group of people the way Wright routinely castigated white people. He did not spin wild conspiracy theories, such as Wright’s conjecture that the U.S. government created AIDS to wipe out black people.
So all's forgiven because Falwell "apologized"? In fact, Falwell's "apology" was a rather tepid one:
"I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says 'living by God's principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,'" he said.
Falwell said he believes the ACLU and other organizations "which have attempted to secularize America, have removed our nation from its relationship with Christ on which it was founded."
"I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812," he said.
Falwell told CNN: "I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."
In other words, it's more of a non-apology apology, since he didn't retract the basic claim, only the "impression" he left.
And wasn't the "Clinton Chronicles" video, which Falwell hawked in late-night infomercials, a bunch of "wild conspiracy theories"?
Like his boss Brent Bozell, Knight is a longtime apologist for Falwell. In a May 2007 CMI column eulogizing Falwell, Knight proclaimed that "The Rev. Falwell did a lot of things well, ticking off liberals right up to the end" and asserted that Falwell's critics were "utterly distorting his Christian message into a caricature of hate."
As near as we can tell, neither Knight nor anyone else at CMI has mentioned the anti-Catholic rantings of John McCain endorser John Hagee -- thus fitting in with the rest of the MRC.
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
At least Eliot Whoremonger paid for his adulterous sex. Bill Clinton, in only one of reportedly hundreds of extra-marital affairs, paid nothing to a White House intern whom he had perform oral sex on him while he was telephoning a congressman in the Oval Office.
And, in one of the most unbelievably stupid and morally bankrupt actions ever undertaken by any serious candidate for the White House, Hillary actually invited this enormously oversexed rogue to campaign for her – until what surely have been his predictable antics caused another Bill Clinton national sensation. Reportedly, Hillary's desperate campaign advisers finally persuaded her to rein him in.
But, if Hillary possibly wins both the nomination and the presidency, is there any reasonable person willing to predict that the Hillary Clinton administration will never, ever have any sex scandals (I mean from anybody else except heavily Secret-Serviced Slick Willie)?
All this is why Mrs. Clinton should now withdraw her candidacy. I say this out of concern for her insurmountable problem, since she has stayed married to Slick through so much of his serial adulteries.
Klein's Weasel Words on Malley Topic: WorldNetDaily
Here's a bit of biased weasel-wording we haven't yet covered regarding Aaron Klein's attacks on Robert Malley. Klein also claims, in both his original Malley-bashing WorldNetDaily article in January and the March 20 rehashing:
In an op-ed in the Washington Post in January coauthored by Arafat adviser Hussein Agha, Malley – using what could be perceived as anti-Israel language – urged Israel's negotiating partner, [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas, to reunite with Hamas.
"A renewed national compact and the return of Hamas to the political fold would upset Israel's strategy of perpetuating Palestinian geographic and political division," wrote Malley.
He further petitioned Israel to hold talks with Hamas.
"An arrangement between Israel and Hamas could advance both sides' interests," Malley wrote.
Klein does not explain why this -- especially the claim that "An arrangement between Israel and Hamas could advance both sides' interests" -- "could be perceived as anti-Israel language" or who, exactly, perceives its to be so. Nowhere does Klein offer any evidence to contradict Malley's claim that Israel has a "strategy of perpetuating Palestinian geographic and political division" or that "An arrangement between Israel and Hamas could advance both sides' interests."
In fact, in the Washington Post op-ed, Malley explains his reasons why a peace agreement must involve Hamas as well as Israel and the Palestian Authority -- none of which Klein offers any response to, let alone explain why it "could be perceived as anti-Israel language."
Klein's weasel phrase is so amorphous to be meaningless, yet smear-worthy -- which seems to be Klein's objective in saying it.
UPDATE: Sadly, No! has more on Klein. Quote of note: "We note as though in passing that the person in this equation with the strongest avowed array of friendly and productive business relations with Islamic terrorists is, you know, Klein."
Pierre Keeps His Anti-Catholic Outrage Blinders On Topic: NewsBusters
We've noted that Dave Pierre is among the Media Research Center writers who gets himself all worked up about perceived anti-Catholic bigotry -- except when it comes from a right-wing evangelist who endorses a Republican presidential nominee.
Pierre does it again in a March 20 NewsBusters post, in which he bashes a Los Angeles Times writer who allegedly " mocked Catholic belief, ridiculed the sacraments, and derided the Church." There's no mention of John McCain endorser John Hagee, who arguably did the same thing when he called the Catholic Church "the Great Whore" and a "false cult system."
MRC Defends Obama Attack Video As 'Accurate' Topic: Media Research Center
A March 21 MRC CyberAlert item by Brent Baker (taken from a NewsBusters post) is headlined, "CBS Castigates McCain Staffer for Accurate Obama/Wright Video." Baker claims that the video in question "simply intersperses clips of Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright," then bashes CBS for "twist[ing] Obama into a victim, a task made easier by the feckless McCain campaign."
In fact, as TPM describes it, the video -- created by an official at the Salem Radio Network, syndicator of such conservative hosts as Bill Bennett, Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved -- "incendiary" and "racially-charged" and "uses the controversial words of Barack Obama's pastor to tar Obama as unpatriotic." The video also contains footage of Malcolm X, who has nothing to do with this presidential campaign.
How is that "accurate"? Baker doesn't say.
And what is the "feckless" thing McCain's did that Baker is fretting about? It suspended the staffer who promoted the video on a Twitter feed; according to a McCain official, "We have been very clear on the type of campaign we intend to run and this staffer acted in violation of our policy."
Why is Baker ashamed of a Republican trying to hold his campaign to a higher standard? He doesn't explain that, either.
Unruh Uncritically Repeats More Anti-Gay Claims Topic: WorldNetDaily
Bob Unruh has a bad habit of uncritically repeating stories that mesh well with his agenda and, in his eyes, are just too good to fact-check.
A March 19 WND article by Unruh, reporting on the stridently anti-gay comments made by Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern, follows in this pattern. Unruh repeats a claim by Kern and her legal representative, the right-wing Thomas More Law Center, that her comments were "taped secretly." In fact, as Pandagon points out, the meeting at which she made those remarks was a public meeting, and as an elected official, Kern should have reasonably expected that any remarks she makes in such a setting would be made public.
In fact, everything in Unruh's article that came from Kern or the Thomas More Law Center is repeated uncritically -- Unruh talks to no critic of Kern's remarks for a response. (Didn't want to get any gay cooties, apparently.) Which is ironic because Unruh quotes WND managing editor David Kupelian as claiming that gays are engaging in an intimidation strategy against Kern, which features as a tactic "No dialogue, no debate."
As we've noted, lack of dialogue and debate is a tactic Unruh and WND have engaged in when writing about gay and homeschooling issues -- regularly refusing to interview anyone holding opposite views from them or allow them to rebut claims made by their preferred side.
In a largely self-serving March 20 Newsmax column, Ronald Kessler touts his prescience in attacking Barack Obama's pastor before it was cool. In it, he cites a March 18 Washington Post column by Richard Cohen calling Kessler a "(reputable) anti-Obama columnist." But is that really true?
Not so much -- certainly not in his Newsmax career. By being so clearly biased against Obama, Kessler, by definition, cannot be reputable.
We've already listed the ways in which Kessler has slanted his coverage of Obama to exclude information that would benefit Obama; a reputable journalist would have fully reported all sides of the story. Kessler has all but declared that his intent is to destroy Obama; he has specifically stated, "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."
Indeed, he concludes his column by stating, "Now that the truth is out, the idea that Obama could ever be elected president is a joke." That was the point all along, wasn't it?
Further, Kessler has never returned to his claim that Obama attended a specific church service after vaguely defending the claim in a "clarification," even when New York Times columnist William Kristol, who cited Kessler, retracted the claim.
Kessler has a long, long history of disreputable bias at Newsmax. Further, the flip-flop he must make to support John McCain after spending months bashing him (and fluffing vanquished opponent Mitt Romney) tells us that he's not a reputable journalist who sticks to his facts but one who flows with the prevailing Republican winds.
We've noted back in January how WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein attacked (using anonymous sources) Robert Malley, who has advised Barack Obama's campaign, without giving him an opportunity to respond. Klein rehashes the charges once more in a March 20 article, again failing to offer Malley a response or any other view of him or bothering to correct his distortions.
Klein called Malley "an Obama foreign policy adviser." But according to PolitiFact.com, "Obama’s campaign states that while Malley has offered advice and opinions on a couple occasions, he is not a formal adviser." PolitiFact also points out that "in position papers and interviews, Obama has said he does not think the United States should be talking to Hamas," a position Malley has advocated. Klein copiously details Malley's advocacy for talks with Hamas but has never noted that Obama does not support it.
Meanwhile, Klein fails to acknowledge that Malley has, in fact, responded to attacks on him. From a Feb. 20 article in the Jewish newspaper the Forward:
Robert Malley, a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton on Arab-Israeli affairs, told the Forward that the attacks on him by some supporters of Israel have “crossed the line.”
Malley, who now heads the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group, emphasized his strong support for Israel and explained his views on the need to engage in talks with Iran and Syria.
Malley recently received support from five Jewish former U.S. government officials who are known to be strong supporters of Israel. Former national security adviser Sandy Berger and former State Department officials Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Aaron David Miller and Daniel Kurtzer released their open letter defending Malley on February 12.
Responding to what they call “a series of vicious, personal attacks” against Malley, the former officials wrote: “These attacks are unfair, inappropriate and wrong.”
The letter is particularly noteworthy because, according to press reports, Berger and Indyk have been advising Obama’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, on Middle East policy.
The letter adds that while disagreements on policy exist, there is no disagreement regarding the special relationship between America and Israel: “We have worked with Rob closely over the years and have no doubt he shares this view and has acted consistent with it.”
In a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Israel Policy Forum two weeks ago, Malley said he does not believe Obama will talk to Hamas or Hezbollah if elected president.
Despite Malley having responded to such charges, Klein repeated his attacks in articles on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 without noting Malley's response, in addition to the March 20 article.
Klein also cited a New York Review of Books article by Malley which Klein described as "largely blaming Israel for the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David in 2000 when Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern sections of Jerusalem and instead returned to the Middle East to launch an intifada, or terrorist campaign, against the Jewish state," adding, "Malley's contentions have been strongly refuted by key participants at Camp David ... all of whom squarely blamed Arafat's refusal to make peace for the talks' failure." But the Forward notes:
This article was considered controversial, since mainstream policy analysts in Israel and America had pointed to Arafat as having sole responsibility for the failed talks. Later, however, other scholars and former officials voiced similar views to those of Malley.
We were able to find this rather easily, thanks to the magic of the Internet. Why can't Klein, who purports to be an actual journalist?