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Sunday, April 27, 2008
WND Anti-Gay Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 25 WorldNetDaily article takes another stab at bashing the "Day of Silence" campaign, calling it "pro-homosexual." It claims that the campaign "has been promoted throughout its existence by the special interest group, the massively funded Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network." No evidence is offered that GLSEN is "massively funded."

The article also claims there are "indoctrination effects of school observances of such a day," quoting only opponents of the "Day of Silence," including the anti-gay group Mass Resistance and professional gay-basher Matt Barber, without permitting anyone to respond to those claims.

The article further references "a Massachusetts school district with a well-established reputation of promoting homosexuality." That would be the Lexington, Mass., school district, which has "promoted homosexuality" only in its collective imagination. As we've detailed, this assertion stems from a claim by David Parker, whose kindergarten-age son brought home a book about different kinds of families that included, in WND's previous words, "at least two households led by homosexual partners." That's right -- showing students that gay people merely exist is "promoting homosexuality," as far as WND is concerned.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:58 PM EDT
Baker Flip-Flops on First Amendment
Topic: NewsBusters

In an April 25 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker notes that two North Carolina TV stations have refused to air a political ad attacking Barack Obama. After repeating a quote from one station manager saying, "I think it's offensive, and I'm not real comfortable with the implications around race," Baker adds: "Maybe some citizens of the state are not so 'comfortable' with a local TV executive deciding the First Amendment doesn't apply in North Carolina."

Huh? Doesn't the First Amendment freedom of the press also imply the right not to run something it doesn't want to, for whatever reason?

Indeed, the MRC has previously supported that principle. A March 2007 column by Brent Bozell praised newspaper owners for refusing to "water down their standards" by runnning ads for NC-17-rated movies, since NC-17 movies, by definition, are not "respectable." And Baker himself, in a December 2004 CyberAlert item, didn't seem to think that the "left-wing" United Church of Christ's First Amendment rights were violated when CBS and NBC refused to air its ads.

Or is Baker think it's OK to violate First Amendment rights in order to suppress a "left-wing" view?

UPDATE: Baker's questionable interpretation of the First Amendment made it into the April 28 MRC CyberAlert.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:27 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, April 28, 2008 5:51 PM EDT
Another WND Writer Defends Polygamist Cult
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Earlier this week, WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah offered up a mild defense of the polygamist cult in Texas, mostly in the name of the right of parents to treat children like chattel. Now, another WND columnist, Ilana Mercer, goes full bore in defending the cult and the child-as-parental-chattel concept.

Mercer's April 25 column begins by painting an idyllic picture of cult life as a place where children are "frolicking in the open air on a large compound, doing your daily chores and feasting on hearty homegrown fare," but have now been "torn from their loving mothers" and sent to a world where "you're gagging on a diet of T&A courtesy of MTV and fast-food compliments of your fat foster mom. As the makeshift mom hollers at you to swallow your zombifying meds." In fact, the Texas Department of Child Protective Services has issued strict guidelines to caretakers of the children taken from the polygamist compound, including "No television, movies, Internet and radio especially at first," and no red clothing because the cult believes that red is reserved for Jesus Christ because when he returns, he will be wearing red robes.

Mercer then launches into the child-as-parental-chattel defense, as well as the polygamist cult:

Whether they are "plural" or single, Wicca or just weird, bohemian or bourgeoisie – parents should take the kids and skedaddle when they hear that phrase "in the best interests of the child." It is simply a license for the state to substitute its own judgment for that of the parents. Today, it's polygamist parents – Kool-Aid drinkers is Bill O'Reilly's favored sobriquet. Tomorrow, it'll be the offspring of homeschoolers or global warming deniers.


Whatever are your voyeuristic fantasies about the sex romps on a polygamist commune, of this you can be certain: Relative to the loose, licentious, libertine and precarious foster-care environment, the children seized in the raid on the FLDS property have led a sheltered, chaste life. The gravest abuse still awaits them.

Right. Apparently, in Mercer's view, being stuck in a relationship as a teen girl with multiple co-wives is not "abuse," nor is kicking teen boys out of the cult for specious reasons and into a world for which they have not been prepared in order to reduce the male population inside the cult. Apparently that's OK with her because it's the parents doing the abusing.

Then again, remember that Mercer defended Michael Vick against the dogfighting charges against him because "all animals are property."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:17 AM EDT
Saturday, April 26, 2008
WND Still Telling ACLU Lie
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 26 WorldNetDaily article repeats a lie told in a earlier WND article about Internet filters at Sacramento, Calif. libraries: that "the American Civil Liberties Union said restricting public access to pornography in libraries would be unconstitutional."

As we detailed, the ACLU said no such thing.

The article goes on to claim that the ACLU "is seeking to remove any existing porn filters and use taxpayer money to buy expensive porn-viewing computer desks." But it offers no evidence to support that claim, either. As in the earlier article, no attempt to use actual facts to present the ACLU's side of the Internet filter controversy is made.

While the earlier article was written by Alyssa Farah, WND editor Joseph Farah's daughter, the April 26 article carries no byline, but one can presume that Alyssa Farah wrote it too and perhaps no longer wants such shoddy journalism to be associated with her name (or perhaps prefers to spread lies anonymously). Unlike the earlier article, which made no mention of filters, the new article does identify filters as the the issue, which is a step toward more factual journalism. But considering that Alyssa Farah (plus whatever anonymous WND employees may have worked on it) has made no effort whatsoever to tell this story honestly and truthfully, that's only a tiny step.

Meanwhile, Joseph Farah is whining that he can't get a full retraction and apology when someone makes a false claim about him -- but he won't retract and apologize for the lie his daughter told about the ACLU. Why should anyone listen to him when he won't practice what what he preaches?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:19 PM EDT
Farah vs. CAIR: The 'It's A Joke!' Defense
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah is still be disingenuous about his tangle with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

For the first time, in an April 26 column, Farah acknowledges to his readers that WND printed a column by Paul Sperry on Sept. 27, 2001, that suggested, among other things, telling Afghans that the U.S. has "enlisted Afghani moles to contaminate their water supplies with pig's blood" -- CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper had incorrectly attributed the claim to Farah. But Farah called the fact that CAIR spokesman Nadhira F. Al-Khalili, national legal counsel had pointed this out a "smarmy non-apology," then insisted it was just a harmless joke, as he says he wrote to Al-Khalili:

I continued: "Perhaps a second or third reading of Paul Sperry's column by Hooper and you will help you realize what anyone should be able to comprehend in the context of the complete column – that it was satire. Furthermore, the column was written two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001. I don't know if that date means anything to you. But it was long before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan – meaning the clearly tongue-in-cheek suggestion was for a time much different than now.


"Now you recall, after my name has been tarnished by this lie, that it was actually someone else writing who made the suggestion. But you fail to mention the critical timing of the piece and the fact that it was clearly over-the-top satire.

"Perhaps it has also escaped your attention that viewpoints are expressed every day in WND's commentary section with which I disagree. In fact, unless I write the commentaries, I don't accept any ownership of the ideas expressed in them. We publish columnists every day with whom I disagree vehemently.

"Hooper also made the charge that WND daily published anti-Muslim hatred. He provided one example, from seven years ago, and it was a satirical piece published before CAIR had yet decided something abominable had happened on Sept. 11. In fact, CAIR didn't publicly rebuke the attack on America for another 10 weeks, as I recall. If WND publishes examples of anti-Muslim hatred every day, why would Hooper have to resort to one bad example from seven years earlier? This is your full-time spokesman!"

Sperry also stated, regarding Muslims, that "their religion is driving them to hate Americans, and rewarding them to kill our people." Was Sperry joking about that, too?

Farah is being disingenuous in claiming that "that viewpoints are expressed every day in WND's commentary section with which I disagree." WND carries dozens of columnists -- nearly all of whom (aside from token liberals Bill Press and Ellen Ratner) are right-of-center, like Farah. As we've noted, WND is less a "news" website than a platform to advance the personal views and agenda of its founder and editor -- Farah -- so it's a logical assumption that Farah condones, if not approves, the vast majority of the general views expressed on it. Further, at the time Sperry wrote his column, he was an employee of WND, serving as its Washington bureau chief. It's safe to say that Farah would never have hired Sperry if their worldviews, at the very least, were not similar.

And while Farah singled out Hooper's charge that "WND daily published anti-Muslim hatred," he didn't exactly deny it -- just as he hasn't explicitly disavowed the sentiments in Sperry's column, satirical as they might be. As Richard Bartholomew points out, WND does indeed have a long, consistent history of printing anti-Muslim rhetoric, such as a November 2004 column by Jack Wheeler claiming that "neither the adoption of Islam nor all the intervening centuries since has decreased the addiction Arab men have to pederasty."

Farah also claims, "Knowing the kind of people who listen to Hooper, it is very dangerous to be mislabeled as an anti-Muslim extremist who suggested air-dropping pig's blood over Afghanistan."Bartholomew responds:

Farah wants us to believe that Hooper has put him danger because WND has just published a book of ex-Muslim testimonies (with an Islamic portrait of Muhammad on the cover for good measure), and he is desperate to concoct a controversy around it. His target readers, however, will be perplexed as to why Farah is now trying to distance himself from the anti-Muslim views which he has been feeding them for years. 

That, and pretending to be surprised by the idea that Muslims might be offended by the fact that a new WND-published book, "Why We Left Islam," has an image of Muhammed on it when provoking outrage was the precise reason for doing it in the first place.

Farah has been aggressive about demanding a "retraction and apology" over CAIR's claim. Yet it took WND seven years to admit that it had published false claims about an Al Gore supporter (in which he was labeled a drug dealer and arsonist) and to "regret whatever harm occurred" -- and only then just before a libel lawsuit was to go to trial. What gives Farah the right to demand that his own grievances be addressed any faster than that?

P.S. WND's April 26 "news" article on the Farah-CAIR contretemps fails to mention Sperry's column -- the basis for the entire controversy -- at all. 

P.P.S. In ConWebWatch's eight years of writing about WND, Farah has never once publicly demanded, CAIR-like, that we retract or apologize for anything we wrote. Consider that an endorsement of our veracity.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:17 AM EDT
Sheffield Ignores Conservative Attacks on Free Speech
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 24 NewsBusters post by Matthew Sheffield notes that Chinese lawyers have sued CNN's Jack Cafferty for $1.3 billion over remarks he made that were critical of China. This leads him to conclude: "Cafferty's remarks actually pale in comparison to things he's said in the past about Republicans and yet, demonstrating once again that it is the right that is the biggest defender of free speech, faced no negative repercussions."

Huh? Is Sheffield really equating the Chinese to all liberals? Talk about a logical leap. Sheffield conveniently fails to note NewsBusters' and the MRC's own regular attacks on any Cafferty criticism of Republicans -- apparently, that's not a "negative repercussion." While not a lawsuit, these attacks could be seen as a form of intimidation by a well-funded ideological group with the ultimate goal of getting him off the air.

Sheffield also fails to mention one little thing that pokes a hole in the idea of conservatives as "the biggest defender of free speech": Michael Savage, who has in fact filed at least two lawsuits against his critics in an attempt to shut them up. If liberals have to claim China, shouldn't Sheffield have to claim Savage?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:07 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, April 26, 2008 12:19 AM EDT
Friday, April 25, 2008
Meanwhile ...
Topic: NewsBusters
A blogger at Eye on Fox tells of his (brief) experience as a commenter at NewsBusters: "I added a couple of comments of decidedly liberal perspective. No flames. Nothing nasty. I just expressed my opinion. Didn’t take long before I was banned as a 'troll.'"

Posted by Terry K. at 1:21 PM EDT
Shocker: WND Lets ACLU Respond to Attacks
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily hates the ACLU.

It devoted an entire issue of its magazine to bashing "America's most dangerous group." Joseph Farah himself has ranted: "It is an anti-American organization. It is a group that seeks to destroy all that makes America a unique experiment in freedom. It is an organization in league with all of America's enemies. It is an organization that hates God, hates what is right, decent and morally upright. It is an organization in league with the Devil, as far as I am concerned. And the ACLU is an organization that needs to be isolated, exposed for what it is, recognized for what it is and destroyed if necessary." And Farah's daughter just invented a position that the ACLU purportedly supports.

So it's a bit of a surprise, then, that WND has deigned to allow the ACLU to actually respond to criticism of it. Of course, WND allows only a very narrow defense -- not of anything Farah or other WND "reporters" have written, mind you, but of an April 19 column by Pat Boone attacking the ACLU over the "wall of separation" between church and state.

In the April 25 column -- treated as a "letter of the week" rather than an actual column -- the ACLU's T. Jeremy Gunn dismantles Boone's attacks, and by extension most of WND's attacks, by pointing out how "the ACLU has represented many religious believers – including many Christians – in helping them to exercise their rights to manifest their religion in the public square."

This largely destroys Farah's anti-ACLU crusade as well. Will Farah allow such a thing to stand? Or will he continue to ignore the facts and continue on his ACLU-hating ways? Somehow we suspect the latter.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:25 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, April 25, 2008 12:27 PM EDT
Correlation-Equals-Causation Fallacy Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has latched onto the Republicans' latest talking point: the steep rise in oil and gas prices in the past several months is the fault of the Democrats because they now control Congress.

An April 21 article by Susan Jones uncritically repeated the GOP's accusations of a so-called "Pelosi Premium" without giving Pelosi, or any other Democrat, a chance to respond.

Jeff Poor wrote in an April 22 NewsBusters post:

[W]hen the Democratic-controlled Congress was sworn in on Jan. 7, 2007, the average price of a gallon of gas was $2.32 cents a gallon, according to AAA.

Over the six years (2191 days) Bush was president with a Republican-controlled Congress, the price of gas increased 85 cents per gallon. The price has gone up $1.19 in the 472 days Democrats have controlled Congress.

Neither Poor nor Jones offer any evidence that any act of the 110th Congress -- which would, by the way, have to be approved by a Republican president -- contributed in any way to the rise in gas prices. That's called a correlation-equals-causation fallacy.

Poor and Jones might try getting their noses out of GOP press releases and try being a little more honest.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:25 AM EDT
AIM's Other Guilt-By-Association Attack: Obama's A Commie!
Topic: Accuracy in Media

In an April 23 Accuracy in Media column, Cliff Kincaid keeps up his guilt-by-association attacks on Barack Obama, now claiming that Obama's a secret communist who wants to turn your kids into terrorists (and dope smokers). No, really:

An objective observer might conclude that [William] Ayers, [Bernardine] Dohrn and their comrades are now dedicated to creating a new student and youth movement, like the one they participated in which eventually developed into a full-blown terrorist organization that killed our fellow citizens and tried to eliminate the “Thin Blue Line” of police separating us from the criminals. 

In this new crusade, they not only have an inspiring leader, Barack Obama, who attracts young people with his promise of “change,” but a moneybags named Soros, who has funded causes such as rights for convicted felons and legalization of dope.

Kincaid, of course, has no evidence to prove any of this, just guilt-by-association smears.

Kincaid also claims, "The real issue is whether Obama shares Ayers’ communist views. Obama admitted to exchanging ideas with Ayers on an irregular basis but" -- insert sinister-sounding background music here -- "did not say what those ideas were." Gasp!

Posted by Terry K. at 9:10 AM EDT
WND Lies and Misleads About Library Internet Filters
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 24 WorldNetDaily article by Alyssa Farah creatively reinterprets a debate over Internet content filters on public-access computers in Sacramento, Calif., libraries.

How creative? The term "content filter" doesn't appear anywhere in her article. Instead, Farah has unilaterally decided that the issue is pornography and only pornography. According to her lead paragraph: "Are public library restrictions against pornography access unconstitutional?"

As per the usual WND bias, Farah quotes only opponents of "pornography in libraries" -- that is, supporters of content filters. The other side of the story is represented by a single sentence fragment: "the American Civil Liberties Union maintained the position that restricting public access to pornography in libraries would be unconstitutional."

But Farah offers no evidence that the ACLU said "restricting public access to pornography in libraries would be unconstitutional" in those exact words. That's because it didn't. Farah is lying to her readers.

In fact, a Feb. 25 letter from the ACLU of Northern California contains no such statement or any other explicit endorsement of "pornography in libraries." Rather, the ACLU expressed its opposition to the use of "blocking software" on public Internet computers, pointing out that of the more than 3 million Internet sessions recorded on Sacramento library computers, only 24 complaints were filed regarding Internet content. The ACLU also pointed out that content filters inevitably block legitimate research materials.

None of this information appears in Farah's article.

WND has misled about Sacramento library content filters before, as we've noted; a January 2007 article claimed as fact without supporting evidence: "While pornography itself doesn't 'shoot the bullet' for sex crimes, it does 'cock the trigger,' and Sacramento officials who supervise their public library system have told porn addicts to go ahead and get loaded."

Alyssa Farah is the daughter of WND editor Joseph Farah. Sadly, it appears that she's picking up some of dad's more mendacious qualities.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:18 AM EDT
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Farah's Disingenous Defense Continues
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his April 24 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah plays dumb again, repeating his insistence that "I never suggested, stated, hinted or even thought about air-dropping pig's blood over Afghanistan," as claimed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Ibrahim Hooper, and ponders whether to sue CAIR for libel.

As before, Farah didn't tell his readers the basis for Hooper's claim: A Sept. 27, 2001, WND column by Paul Sperry advocating telling Afghanis that the U.S. has "enlisted Afghani moles to contaminate their water supplies with pig's blood."

While Hooper's claim is inaccurate in that he attributes the statement to Farah, Farah should know that there is a kernel of truth for the claim -- while Farah did not advocate using pig's blood against Muslims, Farah's website did -- yet he won't mention the Sperry column. especially since one can easily argue that WND is a reflection of the personal biases and agenda of its founder and editor, Farah. Hooper and CAIR should properly attribute the claim -- but it's disingenuous for Farah to keep whining about it without acknowledging the factual basis of the complaint.

Farah goes on to complain to the New York Daily News, which first printed Hooper's statement:

I always thought the standard practice was to print accurate and truthful statements about known individuals – named or not. I always thought the standard operating practice was to allow people attacked verbally like this to respond and correct the record. I always thought that once a story or column was challenged, corrections would be made – if they were in order.

But WND regularly attacks people and organizations without giving them an opportunity to respond -- columnist Olivia St. John is just one recent example. And "print[ing] accurate and truthful statements about known individuals – named or not" is simply not WND is known for, despite what Farah would like us to believe -- just ask Clark Jones. Or Barack Obama. Or Islamic Relief. Or Michael Schaivo. Or Teresa Heinz Kerry. Or ...

Posted by Terry K. at 9:31 AM EDT
Aaron Klein Mighty Wurlitzer Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an April 22 WorldNetDaily article, Aaron Klein once again plays his Mighty Wurlitzer and hits the note of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace. This time, he claims the group is "are seeking to counter European funding to leftist Israeli organizations that promote land giveaways."

Klein never describes the RCP as right-wing, although they are, especially in this instance through their countering of "leftist Israeli organizations"; rather, he merely calls the group "a coalition of more than 350 Israeli rabbinic leaders and pulpit rabbis." Indeed, the words "right-wing" or "conservative" appear nowhere in the article -- a Klein aversion we've previously noted.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:41 AM EDT
New Article: Stop the Mendacity!
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily doesn't practice what its founder, Joseph Farah, preaches in his hagiographic book. Instead, he hides behind his Christianity as an excuse to practice crappy journalism. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:31 AM EDT
AIM Still Playing Guilt-By-Association on Obama, Slavery Reparations
Topic: Accuracy in Media

We noted last month how desperate Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid is to smear Barack Obama by suggesting that he supports slavery reparations without offering any actual evidence that he does -- so desperate that one of his crucial pieces of evidence toward that end was that a character on "The West Wing" purportedly based on Obama supported reparations.

AIM keeps it up in an April 21 AIM Report (unbylined, but presumably written by Kincaid) that plays the guilt-by-association card again, claiming that people with whom Obama has had contact with support reparations and thus suggesting that he does too. (Fictional characters are left out of it this time, though.)

Like before, AIM offers no actual evidence that Obama supports reparations or any evidence that it tried to contact Obama's campaign to find out if he did.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:34 AM EDT

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