Accuracy in Academia Responds, Sorta Topic: Accuracy in Media
We're probably a little behind the curve on this, but we just noticed what passes for a response by Accuracy in Academia to our item detailing how AIA's Malcolm Kline selectively quoted from a Gallup poll about academic bias in order to bolster his own views. Here it is in its entirety, from AIA's front page:
David Brock protégé Terry Krepel takes issue with Accuracy in Academia executive director Mal Kline’s take on the Cold War on Campus.
That's it. No attempt to defend, justify, explain or even apologize -- you'd think that an organization focused on academia would respond with something, you know, academic -- just a dismissal of the criticism as coming from a "David Brock protégé" (never mind the fact that ConWebWatch was founded four years before the creation of Media Matters).
Furthering the evasiveness, AIA didn't even bother to link to the actual post. Rather, it links to a Technorati page that excerpts only a portion of it and doesn't exactly direct readers to the original (there's a link, but it's not obvious that it's clickable).
Between Kline's original, misleading article and this evasive response, we have to wonder how AIA gets taken seriously.
FrontPageMag: McCain Can't Be Criticized Because He's A Veteran Topic: Horowitz
Dan Rabkin's April 24 FrontPageMag article is a laughably overbroad attack against the New York Times, which he claims "has now run two front-page articles smearing American war heroes."
The first, according to Rabkin, was a February story that "attempted to brand Sen. John McCain a philandering, lobbyist-bedding, crook." Rabki ncalled it a "a low-grade attack on a decorated veteran" that "was a revealing demonstration of its deep-seated contempt for the military." But the article did not address McCain's military service beyond a single description of him as a "Vietnam war hero." What Rabkin appears to be saying is that decorated military veterans in politics should not be criticized at all. Yet he writes for a website that repeatedlyattacked a "decorated veteran" who ran for president in 2004. Where's his criticism of that?
The second Times article Rabkin objects to is the recent story that, in Rabkin's words, "suggests that dozens of 'decorated war heroes' are simply a 'media Trojan horse' – puppets of the Defense Department who only support the war because they are profiting from it." Rabkin takes on logical leaps from there, claiming that "Indeed, these military veterans’ biggest sin, in the paper’s eyes, seems to be their voicing displeasure with the liberal media establishment personified by the New York Times." and adding, "Equally contemptible to the Times is that these military men have sided with their government in a time of war."
Rabkin finally concludes: "If you support your nation in a time of war, you are doing the Pentagon’s dirty work. American military veterans deserve more respect for their years of committed service." But we see no evidence that he thinks John Kerry deserves respect for his years of committed service, since he writes for a website that tried to discredit said service. After all, if mere criticism of military service is his threshold -- as Rabkin seems to be claiming here -- then he must defend Kerry as he has McCain.
Who the heck is Dan Rabkin, anyway? According to his end-of-column bio, he claims to be "a Middle Eastern Affairs and National Security analyst based in Toronto, Canada. He was Canada’s 2005 Governor General’s Medalist." No further details are offered about where, if anywhere beyond op-ed pieces, he does his analyzing. And what's that "Canada’s 2005 Governor General’s Medalist" thingie? That's apparently an award given to, as this University of Windsor writeup of Rabkin's award details, "the undergraduate student with the highest academic ranking in his graduating class," where he "receive[d] an A+ in every one of his 40 courses." And it was a "Silver Medal," which the Governor General's office describes as being for undergraduate students.
In other words, he's just a fairly recent college grad spouting enough right-wing talking points to get some cheap praise from the likes of the Horowitz empire.
Aaron Klein takes yet another stab at smearing Barack Obama by association, this time with an April 27 article claiming that associate Tony Rezko "was bailed from jail last week in part with surety posted by a pro-Palestinian activist who penned an open letter in Obama's church newsletter that labeled Israel an 'apartheid' regime and claimed the Jewish state worked on an 'ethnic bomb' that kills 'blacks and Arabs.' "
As per usual, Klein offers no evidence whatsoever that Ali Baghdadi is acquainted with or has even met Obama, which makes the story nothing more than one in a long line of desperate Klein smears of Obama.
An April 25 WorldNetDaily article regurgitates the results of a "poll" by the right-wing American Policy Center claiming to find that "overwhelming majorities opposing the concept, plans and ideas" of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Security and Propserity Partnership/North American Union. But it wasn't a real poll at all, despite WND's efforts to portray it otherwise as it cribbed from the APC's press release about it:
The poll of one million American households revealed that 58 percent of the households contacted had not heard of the SPP.
"It is important to note that APC did not select households that might represent specific ideological positions," the group said. "The chosen households represented neither conservative nor liberal positions. Instead the recipients were a wide [variety] of Americans who live in the direct path of the proposed Trans Texas/NAFTA Corridor, from Texas to Minnesota."
Normal polls don't contact "one million American households." What this tells us -- though WND and APC don't explicitly bother to do so -- that this poll was merely a mass mailing in which people had to respond to be counted -- that is, an opt-in poll, which are notoriously unreliable.
The APC press release sheds a little more light on how the "poll" was conducted:
The survey, titled “Do Americans Support a North American Union” asked a series of questions concerning the SPP and the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC). The survey package also included a four-page report prepared by APC entitled “NAU Fact Sheet,” providing details about the SPP, the TTC and how these programs are being implemented quietly, behind closed-door meetings like the one just completed in New Orleans.
So the only information these respondents had at hand regarding the SPP/NAU was information supplied by the APC itself -- which opposes the NAU. (APC chief Tom DeWeese belongs to the Coalition to Block the North American Union.) Nowhere that we could find does APC make public the materials it sent to those "one million American households," nor does it state what percentage of those households responded to the survey.
Which makes the survey's key claim -- that 58 percent of those who chose to respond to the survey had not heard of the NAU prior to APC's mass mailing, but 90-plus percent oppose its provisions -- even more bogus than the rest of the survey. The only thing that 58 percent had to make judgments on the issue was APC's "fact sheet" attacking it -- which, by the way, concludes:
The SPP is an invastion of our culture and our economy. It's about the redistribution of American wealth and industry. It will represent the end of over 250 years of an historic experiment -- unless Americans across the nation say no -- now.
Given that, is it really surprising that 90-plus percent of respondents oppose the NAU? After all, angered people are the ones likely to be motivated enough to mail back the APC's survey.
Nowhere does WND mention that APC opposes the NAU; rather, it benignly portrays APC as "a grassroots activist group in Washington that asked a series of questions about the SPP, the Trans Texas Corridor transportation project and other issues."
Newsmax Flip-Flops on Kitty Kelley's Bush Bio Topic: Newsmax
We've noted that when Kitty Kelley released her gossipy book on the Bush family back in 2004, Newsmax worked hard to discredit it, denouncing Kelley as a "poison pen celebrity biographer" and the book itself as a "rumormongering ... screed" filled with "outrageous and unsubstantiated claims."
That's why it's a surprise to see Newsmax columnist Lev Navrozov using Kelley's book as a reference to attack President Bush in his April 25 column:
In September 2004, Kitty Kelley published a 704-page volume entitled “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty." It is worth reading because it is a collection of facts based on historical records told with utter simplicity and without any prejudice on the author’s part.
On Page 101, it says that when the Bushes were asked why they had moved to Texas, their answer was that in oil-rich Texas they “just wanted to make a lot of money quick.”
They did not say what they needed a “lot of money” for (quick!). One presumes that a “lot of money quick” was assumed by them to be instant paradise.
Education at Ivy League universities (such as Yale) required money and was also a way to obtain a “lot of money.”
When George W. Bush was being prepared for Yale at the prep school in Andover, one of his assignments was to write an essay about a sad experience in his life, and he chose to write about his sister’s death. He used the word “tears” and wanted another word for “tears.” According to Kelley's book, in a dictionary, he found the verb “to tear,” meaning “to lacerate.” So he wrote: “And the lacerates ran down my cheeks.”
For a child of 5, learning to read, this could be just funny. But it was 1962, George W. Bush was 16, and preparing for Yale.
Is Bush now so hated at Newsmax that it's OK for a book it once called a "rumormongering ... screed" to be cited approvingly? Apparently so.
WND Misleads on Military Deaths Topic: WorldNetDaily
An unbylined April 25 WorldNetDaily article declared that "a WND investigation has revealed" that "annual U.S. military casualties overall during the first six years of the Bush administration are well below the average for the 26-year period beginning in 1980." But WND cherry-picks the numbers to make them look as good as possible.
The first clue to WND's deception is the date range chosen. Why go back to 1980? Because, as the Department of Defense data WND gleaned its information from demonstrates, it allows WND to throw some high fatality numbers into the mix to counterbalance the very low fatality numbers during the Clinton administration. That allows WND to promote the 2,392 "in 1980, the last year of President Jimmy Carter's administration" while ignoring, say, the 758 fatalities in 2000. Indeed, the only mention of Clinton-era fatalities is the year with the highest number, 1,213, "just 649 fewer than in 2005, the hottest year of the Iraq war."
The second clue is that WND compares total fatalities by year without factoring in the total number of military personnel employed by the military by year. Doing so generates a death rate, which is a more accurate and direct way to compare fatalities than raw numbers. Under that standard, WND's claims don't add up.
For instance, in 2005, the total death rate per 100,000 military personnel was 116.6. But in 1980, the death rate was lower: 110.7. (As Media Matters calculated, the death rate in 2000 was a mere 50.0.) Indeed, the 2005 death rate is the highest of all complete years on the DOD's list (2006 numbers do not include fatalities after Nov. 22, 2006).
WND also appears to be lowballing other war fatality figures as well:
Iraqi military deaths since the beginning of the war are estimated at between 4,900 and 6,375, while Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated at between 82,856 and 90,390.
WND does not state where this information came from, making it difficult to verify. The Iraqi civilian death number appears to have been taken from the Iraq Body Count website. But the IBC counts only deaths that have reported in the media; according to Wikipedia, "The IBC admits that their count is an undercount due to their stringent requirement for the death to be recorded by the media."
Meanwhile, a Wikipedia count shows 3,530 members of the Iraqi Security Forces have been killed, but also that 6,490 Iraqi police have been killed. Since the police have been a prime target of insurgents in Iraq, it's a bit disingenuous of WND to exclude them from its fatality count.
Of course, this entire article is a bit disingenous -- which is exactly the point of publishing it.
This isn't the first time WND has tried to downplay military deaths in Iraq; in November 2006, Joseph Farah -- repeating Rep. Steve King's inaccurate numbers -- asserted that "more of their fellow citizens – men, women and children – were murdered this year by illegal aliens than the combined death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since those military campaigns began."
Noel Sheppard, Jim Cramer -- and Hugo Chavez Topic: NewsBusters
Taking a break from mindless attacks on Al Gore, NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard has spending time of late attacking what he calls "the international disaster of ethanol," blaming it for a rise in food prices. (Though, of course, he does work some Gore-bashing into this as well, blaming him for casting "the tie-breaking vote in the Senate requiring this oxygenate be added to gasoline" in 1994.)
In an April 26 post, Sheppard praises as "delicious" (italics his) Jim Cramer's assertion that removing the ethanol additive mandate will cause prices to "plummet." Um, wasn't Cramer the same guy who, in March, told people to hold onto their Bear Stearns stock even though it had fallen from $171 a share to $62 in the previous two months, and insisted that Bear Stearns was "not in trouble" even though, a week later, it was sold to Bank of America for a paltry $2 a share? Yep, as Sheppard co-worker (and NewsBusters blogger) Jeff Poor detailed on MRC sister site Business & Media Institute. So why believe anything Cramer has to say?
Sheppard's opposition to ethanol also puts him in league with another figure of some notoriety -- Hugo Chavez:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says a U.S. push to boost ethanol production during a world food crisis is a "crime."
The socialist leader says he is concerned that so much U.S.-produced corn could be used to make biofuel, instead of feeding the world's poor.
Chavez said Saturday that the corn needed to fill an average car with ethanol would be enough to feed seven people for a year.
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.
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.
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 Mercerdefended Michael Vick against the dogfighting charges against him because "all animals are property."
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."
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?
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.
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?
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.'"
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.