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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Is WND Rooting for Riots Over Book Cover?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've previously noted that the only reason for WorldNetDaily to put an image of the prophet Muhammad on the cover of its new WND-published book "Why We Left Islam" is to be provocative (and, of course, boost sales of the book over the ensuing controversy). Indeed, WND is practically begging for Muslims to riot over the cover, and it makes the point that it's the first U.S. book to put Muhammed on the cover every chance it gets.

From an April 29 WND article promoting the book:

Could CAIR's attacks of the book and its Muhammad cover incite a violent reaction? In Muslim countries around the world, mullahs and government officials have demanded that books dealing harshly with Islam be banned and their authors condemned to death. In 2006, the infamous Danish cartoons lampooning Muhammad instigated riots.


"If Muslims rioted around the world after a Danish newspaper published a political cartoon making fun of Muhammad, what will they do in response to this book?" wonders [WND editor Joseph] Farah, himself a former Middle East correspondent of Lebanese and Syrian ancestry.

Shorter WND: Pleeeeeeze can there a violent reaction to our hatchet-job book? Pretty pleeeeeze?

Posted by Terry K. at 5:57 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 6:00 PM EDT
CNS Channels RNC

An April 29 article by Susan Jones regurgitates the Republican National Committee's attacks on an ad by the Democratic National Committee highlighting John McCain's statement that the U.S. needs to maintain a military presence in Iraq for "maybe a hundred" years. Jones not only fails to give the DNC an opportunity to respond to the attack, she also ignores that McCain has flip-flopped on the idea of a military presence in Iraq based on its presence in Korea.

After repeating McCain's statement from the New Hampshire town hall meeting from which his "maybe a hundred" statement claim that "we've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so," Jones adds, "McCain repeatedly has clarified that he does not foresee 100 years of U.S. combat in Iraq -- just a lengthy post-war troop presence."

In fact, on the Nov. 27, 2007, edition of PBS' "Charlie Rose," McCain was asked by Rose if South Korea "is an analogy of where Iraq might be ... in terms of an American presence over the next, say, 20, 25 years, that we will have a significant amount of troops there." McCain replied, "I don't think so." Rose then asked: "Even if there are no casualties?" McCain replied, "No. But I can see an American presence for a while. But eventually I think because of the nature of the society in Iraq and the religious aspects of it that America eventually withdraws."

Isn't that flip-flop newsworthy to Jones and CNS? Doesn't that, as well as the DNC's response to the RNC's complaints that Jones failed to obtain, fall under CNS' stated mission to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story"? Regurgitating press releases is a pretty sure sign that you're not.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:39 PM EDT
WND Touts Shoebat, Ignores Controversy
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 29 WorldNetDaily article touts WND founder Joseph Farah's appearance at the Southern California Strategic Perspectives Conference in May. It also touts the appearance of other speakers, including Walid Shoebat, who it described as having "participated in acts of terror and violence against Israel" and led a "life of violence and rioting in Bethlehem and the Temple Mount" before "realiz[ing] that everything he had been taught about Jews was a lie."

The article makes no mention of the growing controversy surrounding Shoebat's claims to have been a terrorist -- even his own relatives doubt the claim. Shoebat has even bizarrely threatened libel lawsuits against those who report that he wasn't a terrorist.

That's particularly ironic, because the theme of Farah's talk at the conference is "What the 'news' is not telling you." 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:28 AM EDT
WND Still Won't Report Homeschoolers' History of Abuse
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 29 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh on the California homeschooling court case controversy stepped gingerly once again around the issue of the dysfunctional family at the center of the case.

Unruh stated only that "The original opinion arose from a dependency case brought in juvenile court." But as we've documented, Unruh and WND have long refused to tell readers the details of the family at the center of the case -- specifically, that the father has a long history of abusing his children while the mother stood passively by, as documented by the dependency court. Further, the dependency court has documented the shoddy home education the parents were providing the children.

Given WND's longtime salaciousness toward sexual matters in public schools, its squeamishness about delving into the sordid details here is a little odd. But as we've previously noted, Unruh and WND are apparently willing to condone child abuse in the name of protecting homeschooling from its perceived enemies.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:47 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 1:51 AM EDT
Trippany Pleased That BBC Echoes Conservative Smears of Hillary
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 29 NewsBusters post by Terry Trippany states: "The mainstream media types appear to have turned on Hillary Clinton as of late, with the BBC likening her to the knife wielding Alex Forest played by Glen Close in the 1987 movie Fatal Attraction." Trippany then called the smear a "breakthrough."

What Trippany doesn't mention is that the "Fatal Attraction" smear of Hillary originiated on her side of the aisle, with conservative Monica Crowley and conservative-leaning Andrew Sullivan both peddling it earlier this year. So why shouldn't she be happy that the smear has migrated to a wider audience?

We suspect that Trippany is absolutely ecstatic that an NPR reporter also joined in repeating the smear. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:29 AM EDT
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Farah Sorta Defends Polygamist Cult -- Again
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah's quasi-defense of the polygamist cult in Texas continues in his April 29 column, in which he again tries to change the subject from sex crimes to government overreach.

While insisting that "I don't approve of this cult. I don't approve of polygamy. I don't approve of child brides," Farah again seems willing to condone it all, claiming, "The chances are very good there would be more evidence of child sexual abuse in government schools than has been produced at the Yearning for Zion Ranch."  He listed such benign evidence previously made public about the cult, such as "disturbed bed linens" and "12 of the kids have chicken pox" without mentioning a story on WND's own front page: that 31 of the 53 teenage girls in the cult that the state took into custody either have been or currently are pregnant.

Farah then rattles off some statistics:

According to the experts, 62 percent of girls are sexually abused by the age of 18 – outside the YFZ Ranch.

According to the experts, 31 percent of boys are sexually abused by the age of 18 – outside the YFZ Ranch.

According to the experts, most rape victims are under 12 years old – outside the YFZ Ranch.

Huh? Who are these "experts" Farah is citing? He doesn't say. Perhaps because they don't exist.

According to the National Institute of Justice, one out of three females and one out of five males have been victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18 years; among females, almost 30 percent of all forcible rapes occur before the age of 11 years. All of these numbers are much lower than the ones from Farah's "experts."

Farah claims to "believe in the rule of law" and not to "approve of polygamy." But polygamy is against the law in all U.S. states. Therefore, on that count alone he should be applauding the breakup of a polygamist cult. But he's not.

Why? As we previously theorized, Farah is willing to condone the abuse of the cult's children to prove a larger point about parental rights, just as he has turned a blind eye to the abused children in the California family at the center of a homeschooling lawsuit WND has turned into a cause celebre.

Which is to say, he doesn't actually believe in the rule of law after all. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:12 AM EDT
WND Mag's Hillary Hatchet Job
Topic: WorldNetDaily

On the heels of its smear job on Barack Obama, WorldNetDaily's Whistleblower magazine lets its Hillary-hate flag fly in its latest issue, unsubtly titled "Queen of Darkness." Setting the tone, Hillary is likened to the "malevolent cyborg" in "The Terminator," and WND managing editor David Kupelian asserts that "Hillary Clinton is a pathologically lying chameleon for whom nothing is sacred but her own aggrandizement."

But most of the Whistleblower attacks appear to be little more than warmed-over hatchet jobs from the '90s and before:

  • "Clintons to face fraud trial" by Art Moore, documenting a little-publicized scandal currently plaguing both Bill and Hillary

This appears to be another rehashing of the Peter Paul case. Moore is a longtime Paul sycophant, and don't expect him to be any more honest about Paul's long criminal history than he has in the past (which is to say, not honest at all).

  • "Hillary's 'fraudulent' Watergate brief" by Art Moore, on revelations Hillary Clinton was fired years ago for allegedly colluding with the Kennedys against Nixon

This is presumably about Jerry Zeifman's Hillary-bashing claims. Will Moore tell his readers that Zeifman's current assertion that he fired Hillary from the Watergate committee staff -- his central claim here -- contradicts his 1998 assertion that he didn't have the power to fire Hillary?

  • "The real story behind the Clinton body count" by New York Times best-selling author Richard Poe 

This is how desperate WND is to smear Hillary -- the discredited Clinton body count is back. This appears to be Poe's 2005 WND article on the subject; we noted at the time that Poe, a longtime Clinton conspiracy-monger, conveniently ignores exculpatory evidence.

  • "Hitler, Stalin ... and Clinton?" A New York Post poll ranked Bill and Hillary among the most evil in history 

Another whiff of desperation. This hoary smear dates all the way back to 1999. WND is treating a gamed opt-in poll on the website of a conservative newspaper as gospel. Godwin's law lives! 

It's difficult to be outraged when WND has to dig so deep and so desperately for smears. 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:45 AM EDT
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. 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:40 AM EDT
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 repeatedly attacked 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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:35 AM EDT
Monday, April 28, 2008
WND Guilt-By-Association Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:47 PM EDT
WND Repeats Bogus Survey Results
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:48 PM EDT
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:15 AM EDT
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."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:09 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, April 28, 2008 1:52 AM EDT
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.

Delicious, indeed.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EDT
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

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