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Tuesday, April 15, 2008
'Powerful Circumstantial Evidence'
Topic: NewsBusters

The Capital Research Center's Matthew Vadum tries again to attack Media Matters (disclosure: our employer) in an April 15 NewsBusters post, claiming it's a "George Soros-funded character assassination factory" and insisting there is "powerful circumstantial evidence that suggests Soros funds MM at least indirectly."

Um, how can evidence be both "powerful" and "circumstantial"? Doesn't the fact that Vadum is resorting to circumstantial evidence to support his claim demonstrate that it is, in fact, not powerful?

Vadum claims regarding Media Matters chief David Brock's chairmanship of Progressive Media USA, a group separate from Media Matters that intends to criticize John McCain's record during the presidential election season: "At last he has publicly unmasked himself as a partisan political operative, as opposed to a mere liberal ideologue." Vadum doesn't note that the precedent for such "partisan political operative" activism was set by ... the Media Research Center:

  • MRC chief Brent Bozell served as chief fund-raiser for Pat Buchanan's 1992 Republican presidential bid.
  • then-editor in chief Scott Hogenson spent the 2004 election year working for the Republican National Committee.
  • And the MRC itself reguarly serves as an echo chamber for Republican talking points.

Vadum also serves up his own rather hilarious version of what Media Matters does: "Media Matters relies on what could be called a Leninist approach, complete with paid professional revolutionaries, in an ongoing effort to shame Americans who deal in ideas into embracing, or at least not opposing, their political agenda. This tack motivates the faithful and silences opponents." Huh?

Vadum also claims that Media Matters, "media content analysis ... mau-mauing the media into mouthing the politically correct platitudes that pass for profound insights on the far left." How is that any different from what the MRC does from the "far right"? Vadum doesn't say.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:32 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 1:34 PM EDT
WND Attacks 'Vagina Monologues'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 14 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh repeats attacks by the anti-gay group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality on the play "The Vagina Monologues, repeating claims that the "radical feminist" play "celebrates a lesbian rape-seduction, underage drinking, and a lesbian adult asking highly inappropriate sexual questions to [a] six-year-old" Unruh also weirdly fixates on the idea that play author Eve Ensler is "identified in some reports as a bisexual"; the headline references the "[b]isexual's program."

Unruh does not report the context in which these alleged incidents occur in the play, let alone how it purportedly "celebrates" what it depicts. Nor does Unruh bother to talk to Ensler or anyone who defends the play. Unruh also fails to explain why the play is suddenly being attacked now when it has been around for 10 years.

The article also attacks Oprah Winfrey, "who has advocated for Democratic presidential candidate Baracak Obama and promoted a New Age religion in recent weeks too," for being a part of a celebration of the play, where she was "to perform a monologue written for her by author Eve Ensler." But the article offers no evidence that a monologue was "written for" Winfrey.

Unruh has a long history of writing slanted articles for WND that uncritically repeat conservative attacks, and this is just another one. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:28 AM EDT
WND Works Its Terrorist Gimmick Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has been making use of Aaron's Klein trust-the-terrorist-to-reinforce-conservative-talking-points gimmick again.

An April 13 article by Klein quoted "Hamas' top political adviser in the Gaza Strip," Ahmed Yousuf, as calling Jimmy Carter a "noble person" whose planned meeting with Hamas would help the terror organization "engage with the world community." An April 14 article, headlined "Terrorists want this candidate to win presidency," featured Yousuf "express[ing] 'hope' Sen. Barack Obama will win the presidential elections and 'change' America's foreign policy" to right-wing radio host (and Klein buddy) John Batchelor.

Does Yousuf know that Klein, Batchelor and WND are using him as a pawn to reinforce conservative attacks against Democrats? How do they know Yousuf isn't using them to bring about the re-election of Republicans? After all, Osama bin Laden did exactly that in 2004 by putting out a message before the presidential election that was interpreted as an endorsement of John Kerry; CIA analysts agreed that "bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's [Bush's] reelection."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:37 AM EDT
Monday, April 14, 2008
Waters Misleads on Gorelick Memo
Topic: Media Research Center

Just as the folks at the Media Research Center continue to repeat the discredited claim that Richard Armitage was the first, or the only, person to leak Valerie Plame's identity, they take refuge in another canard: that Clinton Justice Department official Jamie Gorelick was the person who created the "wall" keeping the CIA and FBI from sharing information, thus allegedly contributing to 9/11.

In an April 13 "review" printed in the New York Post of Eric Lichtblau's book "Bush's War," Clay Waters repeats that canard again, stating: "[M]uch ardor is spent defending 'well respected' Clinton Justice Department official and 9/11 commission member Jamie Gorelick against Attorney General John Ashcroft's 'McCarthyesque' accusations. (Former Attorney General John] Ashcroft claimed a Gorelick memo helped build the 'wall' between intelligence officers and criminal investigators, preventing their sharing counterterrorism information.)"

Waters leaves out the context of Ashcroft's claim, as well as the problems with it. As we've noted, the "wall" was created in 1978, not in 1995, when Gorelick issued a set of guidelines regarding it. Further, Ashcroft's own deputy attorney general formally reaffirmed Gorelick's 1995 guidelines just a month before 9/11. And the manner in which Ashcroft made his accusation against Gorelick arguably was "McCarthesque" -- through a document that Ashcroft had conveniently declassified for presentation during his testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

The Post, meanwhile, obfuscates over Waters' identity, stating only that he is "director of Times Watch, a division of the Media Research Center." Nowhere is it mentioned that the MRC is a conservative group, or that Waters' Times Watch is dedicated to attacking the New York Times, which employs Lichtblau, the author of the book Waters was ostensibly reviewing. Thus, Waters is hardly an impartial reviewer.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:32 PM EDT
LeBoutillier Repeats False Obama Attack
Topic: Newsmax

In an April 14 Newsmax column trying to paint Barack Obama as "an Ivy League snob, a left-wing elitist who thinks he is better than rural people," John LeBoutillier list among "recent events" that allegedly "paint a picture of a guy definitely out of the mainstream" the assertion that Obama "has refused to salute the American flag during the Pledge of Allegiance."

But LeBoutillier gets the attack all wrong. First, it was the national anthem, not the Pledge of Allegiance (as we noted, NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein originally got it wrong). Second, nobody is required to "salute" during the Pledge or the national anthem. Third, the bone of contention, per Finkelstein, is that Obama didn't put his hand over his heart (not "salute") during the national anthem (not the Pledge) -- something that is not required by federal law but merely suggested as customary. And even that claim about Obama is misleading.

P.S. Isn't it just precious to hear a Vanderbilt scion accusing someone of being an "elitist"?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:06 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, April 14, 2008 3:42 PM EDT
Will Sheppard Hold His Boss To Same Standard He Holds Gore?
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 12 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard bashed Al Gore because he gave a speech "with specific instructions for no press members to be allowed through the doors." Fair enough. But will he criticize his MRC boss for his involvement in an organization that loves to hide from the press?

Brent Bozell's own bio identifies him as member of the Council for National Policy, a group of the nation's most prominent social conservativves with a penchant for secrecy -- meeting behind closed doors at undisclosed locations, featuring speakers that include presidential whose words rarely leave the room they were spoken in. Reporters lacking ties to conservatives are not allowed through the doors, and those reports that are made public  are limited to what CNP honchos want publicized; WorldNetDaily was a willing participant in that self-censorship, as we've noted.

If Brent Bozell can keep reporters out of his little group, why can't Gore keep reporters from his speech? Will Sheppard excoriate his boss for engaging in the same behavior as Gore?

As Sheppard himself might say, there's a metaphysical certitude that won't happen. As such, move along ... nothing to see here. 

Posted by Terry K. at 12:58 AM EDT
Sunday, April 13, 2008
WND Anti-Gay Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily is still misleading readers about California anti-discrimination laws for gays in schools: An April 11 article refers to "California's mandated homosexual indoctrination programs for public schools" -- no evidence is offered that any "indoctrination" is taking place -- and again calls the bill in question, SB777, "a legislative plan to mandate only positive messages about homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality in public schools," which is a logical fallacy that assumes any non-negative depiction of homosexuality is automatically positive.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:23 AM EDT
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Corsi Still Misrepresenting Kerry's Vietnam Record
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an April 10 WorldNetDaily article, Jerome Corsi -- co-author of the Kerry-bashing book "Unfit for Command" -- bashes John Kerry again for "assert[ing] he served two tours of duty in Vietnam," without actually disproving that he didn't. Corsi writes:

This counts as his "first tour of duty in Vietnam" his service on the guided-missile frigate USS Gridley following his completion of 16 weeks of officer candidate school at the U.S. Naval Training Center in Newport, Rhode Island, on December 16, 1966.

He was on the Gridley from June 1967 to June 1968.

But it was Feb. 9, 1968, when the Gridley set sail for Western Pacific deployment where the guided-missile frigate performed guard duty for airplanes operating in the China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin.

Specifically, Kerry's tour of duty on the Gridley would be described as service on a deep fleet ocean vessel, involving no combat.


The Gridley operated in the Western Pacific, but was "in a fighting zone" arguably only for a time far off the coast of Vietnam, and then only for less than five weeks while Kerry was aboard.

What Corsi doesn't tell you: His own "Unfit for Command" co-author, John O'Neill, has conceded that Kerry's service on the Gridley was indeed "recorded as combat theater duty" and that for this service Kerry was "given credit by the Navy for serving in Vietnam."

Corsi never states his definition of a Vietnam "tour of duty"; he seems to be saying that only a full 12-month stint in Vietnam under combat conditions can be considered a "tour of duty," but he never actually states that -- thus undercutting the raison d'etre of his article. Then again, he references "the discoveries about his career made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential election" without disclosing in the article that he was co-author of  the Swift Boat Vets' book, "Unfit for Command."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:24 AM EDT
Friday, April 11, 2008
AIA's Kline Selectively Cites Article About Poll
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In an April 8 Accuracy in Media article, Accuracy in Academia's Malcolm Kline writes:

The latest survey on academic bias has sent academics into their usual state of denial despite evidence of same that frequently stares them right in the face. “Taken together, 40 percent of the Americans in the survey said professors often use their classrooms as political platforms,” Robin Wilson of the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on April 4th of a Gallup poll.

“When that many Americans think this happens often, higher ed has a problem,” says S. Robert Lichter, director of its Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University. Higher ed doesn’t feel that way:

• “The more you have less real experience on a campus, the more likely you might be to buy this ambient background belief,” Jeremy D. Mayer, director of the master's program in public policy at George Mason says.

• “The farther away you are from academe, the more worried you are about what goes on,” Harvard sociologist Neil R. Gross says.

Actually, proximity may prove correct a maxim of author M. Stanton Evans. He outlines what he calls “Evans’ law of inadequate paranoia”: “No matter how bad you think things are, they’re worse.”

But Kline doesn't the full context of the statements he plucked from the Chronicle of Higher Education article. The lead of it stated: "The older Americans are, and the less time they have spent on a college campus, the more likely they are to believe that professors are politically biased."

Kline also clipped the quote from Mayer. He went on to say: "If you have never been in a college classroom, the fantasies and hyped-up expectations promulgated by David Horowitz and others may seem plausible descriptions of the typical American campus."

Why would Kline do this? Perhaps to hide the article's suggestion that the main way older and non-college-educated people would agree with Gallup's question "How often do you believe that college professors use their classrooms as a platform for their personal politics?" would be through the millions of dollars spent by and on behalf of conservatives such as Horowitz -- and Accuracy in Academia, the AIM offshoot of which Kline is executive director -- to promote that very idea.

Thus, it would seem that all this poll does is confirm the work of Kline and other conservatives to push the idea of academe as hopelessly liberal -- and that their millions have had an effect on persuading people with no recent contact with higher education, or no contact at all, to swallow their side.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:36 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, April 11, 2008 3:37 PM EDT
Sheppard Downplays His Gore-Bashing
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 11 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard begins: "For years, NewsBusters has reported on Al Gore's financial interests in advancing global warming hysteria around the world."

Actually, NewsBusters (read: Sheppard) has done much more than that: As we've detailed, he has alleged -- without offering evidence -- that Gore is into global warming activism purely to make a profit.

Sheppard offers no evidence of that here, either, of course -- thus contining to forsake our challenge to support his claim. Instead, he makes a big deal out of Gore admitting "to having 'a stake' in a number of green 'investments' that he recommended attendees put money in," adding "as he tours the world demanding nations stop burning fossil fuels, he will financially benefit if they follow his advice and move to technologies that he has already invested in."

Sheppard offers no evidence that Gore is behaving any differently from any other activist in advising people to invest in things they have admitted they have a financial stake in. Indeed, Sheppard writes that Gore is acting "like an investment advisor or stock broker giving a seminar to prospects and clients."

So what, exactly, is Sheppard's problem, besides an apparent personal dislike of Gore?

UPDATE: Newsmax's Phil Brennan regurgitates Sheppard's post. Like Sheppard, Brennan fails to explain why Gore's behavior is beyond the pale.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, April 11, 2008 6:24 PM EDT
Stanek Misleads on 'Expelled'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 10 WorldNetDaily column by Jill Stanek, like Matt Barber over at, praises the new anti-evolution film "Expelled." And, like Barber, Stanek misleads about the participation of atheists in the film. Stanek writes:

One complaint Darwinist scientists interviewed for "Expelled" have not lodged is that the filmmakers applied Michael Moore cut-and-paste editing to make them look bad. The film includes many of their long, uninterrupted thoughts.

In fact, "Darwinist scientists" have complained about their portrayal in the film: Richard Dawkins, for example, has stated that a "thought experiment" is falsely depicted as his actual beliefs, and PZ Myers has claimed that his participation in the film was obtained under false premises.

And contrary to Stanek's claim that "two Darwinian defenders, who accepted payment to talk like buffoons on the film, tried to bust into a private screening in Minnesota" and that "Myers then disrupted an "Expelled" conference call with reporters the next day," Myers points out that the signup for the private screening "was publicly linked on the web, where any idiot could get to it" and that the press conference was "a carefully controlled, closed environment in which they would spout their nonsense and only take questions by email," during which the film's producer's "they mentioned the secret code ... for the two way calls."

Stanek's statement that "According to an 'Expelled' press release, the 'Expelled' controversy held the No. 1 slot in the blogosphere all day March 24, as registered by Nielson's [sic] BlogPulse, and garnered over 800 Technorati results" is also misleading; according to Myers, "near as I can tell ... it was my exposure of their hypocrisy that was #1."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:28 AM EDT
Thursday, April 10, 2008
NewsBusters Mum on Bilal Hussein's Acquittal
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters has attacked Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, arrested in Iraq on suspicion of terrorism-related acts, numerous times over the years. Al Brown cited a columnist who claimed Hussein "looks like an accessory to murder." John Stephenson claimed Hussein "made a reputation staging anti-war propaganda photos" and cited a blogger who likened him to Josef Goebbels, then called the AP's complaint that the military had never charged Hussein with a specific crime "whining." Ken Shepherd insisted that the AP should not allowed to even report on the Hussein case. Dan Riehl alleged: "Does Hussein sound like someone with a press credential trying to get out of Fallujah, or more like a terrorist sympathizer running for his life, trying to go undetected - and bashing the US military the first chance he gets?"

With such interest in Hussein, you'd think that NewsBusters would be interested in the fact that, as the AP reported:

An Iraqi judicial committee has dismissed terrorism-related allegations against Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein and ordered him released nearly two years after he was detained by the U.S. military.

But no -- not a peep about this news development has been posted on NewsBusters, even though we're approaching 24 hours after the news first broke. Apparently they're too busy primping for their big party tonight. Or perhaps it contradicts their previous the-guy's-a-terrorist narrative too much for them to acknowledge.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:05 AM EDT
Barber Shills for Anti-Evolution Film

Matt Barber expands his repertoire somewhat, from gay-bashing to anti-evolution attacks, in an April 8 column published at in which he sings the praises of Ben Stein's new anti-evolution film "Expelled."

Barber called the film "intellectually honest" without noting claims by atheist PZ Myers that he was interviewed for the film under false pretenses. Barber also repeated the movie's presentation of atheist Richard Dawkins as theorizing that an "alien life form" was responsible for the creation of the universe; in fact, as Dawkins has explained:

[M]y science fiction thought experiment -- however implausible -- was designed to illustrate intelligent design's closest approach to being plausible. I was most emphaticaly NOT saying that I believed the thought experiment. Quite the contrary. I do not believe it (and I don't think Francis Crick believed it either). I was bending over backwards to make the best case I could for a form of intelligent design. And my clear implication was that the best case I could make was a very implausible case indeed. In other words, I was using the thought experiment as a way of demonstrating strong opposition to all theories of intelligent design.

Barber regurgitates the film's premise that "secular elitists in academia, the media and the courts chew up and spit out anyone who dares to question the gospel according to Charles Darwin" without noting that Myers was barred from entering an advance screening of the movie in which he appears, even though he followed established procedure in gaining admittance. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:30 AM EDT
Matt Sanchez vs. Gawker
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his April 9 WorldNetDaily column bashing Absolut vodka over that ad with a 19th century map (which fails to mention the fact that it ran only in Mexico), Matt Sanchez (you know, that Matt Sanchez) throws out an odd slam: "The eternally astonished, over at The Gawker, are quick to label anyone who is offended by the insult to national sovereignty a xenophobe." That was regarding a Gawker post quipping of a possible Absolut boycott over the ad (remember, again, it ran only in Mexico): "That's fine with us. Xenophobes don't need to be drinking in the first place."

What's behind this slam of a New York-centric blog the vast majority of WND readers probably doesn't even know exists, let alone would be caught dead reading?

Apparently, Sanchez has decided that everyone at Gawker is gay. From an April 7 Gawker post:

A certain right-wing blogger has a question for us, via email: "Are all of the contributors to Gawker homosexuals, because there's a level of superciliousness that must be directly tied to sexual frustration and the inability to bond with other human beings." Whoa! We'll have him know that Gawker employs a veritable handful of heterosexuals. This guy was ostensibly upset that our coverage of Absolut's pro-Mexico ad  (which the company has now apologized for) was not quite xenophobic enough. But what led this Republican internet soldier to target us in our vulnerable gay spot? It's probably his own past as a gay porn star—that does have a tendency to color one's perceptions.

Gawker thengets tangled in a email exchange with Sanchez. Sample statement by Sanchez: "If you think Mexico City would allow two dudes to get married if politicians wearing sombreros repossessed the Southwest, than you probably believe that a woman who has an operation to look like a man, is still a man when the woman is expecting her first baby."

Finally, Sanchez declares:

The Gawker is the modern day version of Playgirl, a "straight" publication gay men feel good about buying because they're tired of low quality faggy stuff the pink media puts out.

And then writes some more emails.

Funny, this weird passive-aggressive gay obsession never surfaces in his WND writings. Perhaps that's because, as far as we know, Joseph Farah has yet to publicly address why they hired a correspondent with a publicly known gay-porn past -- the kind of "seriously compromised personal life" that should presumably disqualify him from employment there because "WorldNetDaily hires only serious and experienced journalists with the highest standards of ethics – both in their professional lives and their personal lives."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2008 12:31 AM EDT
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
WND's Non-Retraction Retraction
Topic: WorldNetDaily


WorldNetDaily's front page currently has a link to a TV station's report that a 13-year-old girl who claimed that she was "beaten and threatened" after displaying a sign protesting illegal immigration apparently made up the story and faces a charge of false reporting.

There's no mention of WND's own story from earlier in the day unquestioningly regurgitating the girl's claim that "21 classmates attacked and beat her in response to a sign she made for a history class calling for an end to illegal immigration." It is no longer linked from the front page, but -- even though the story has now apparently been proven false -- WND has not, as of this writing, updated the story to reflect that.

Will WND print a retraction, update the story, or simply make it disappear and pretend it never existed? We'll be watching.

(We have a PDF that we'll post for posterity's sake if WND chooses the third option. Think of it as blackmail in the cause of responsible journalism.)

UPDATE: WND has now done its own article on the false report, but the old article remains posted, with no indication that it has been proven false, not even a link to the new article.

Curiously, though WND leaves out the details about how the girl made up the story. From the TV station article WND originally linked to:

After Melanie's accusations, administrators reviewed school survellience videotape of the incident - which, instead of showing students beating or attacking her, showed Bowers scratching herself on her arms, face, and neck, and walking through the halls of the school calmly long after she claimed the incident happened.

After Melanie's parents were presented with that information and the video, the school confronted Melanie, and she admitted that she made the story up.

Of course, WND has a history of not reporting newsy details when it's not in their interest to do so.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:56 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2008 10:39 PM EDT

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