Responding to a claim by Phil Donahue that his MSNBC talk show was canceled 'because of my political posture; my stance against the war" and that "Our ratings entitled us to be nurtured not canceled," Michael M. Bates retorted in a May 11 NewsBusters post: "Just needed a little nurturing, heh, Phil? How much nurturing is necessary when a show draws, as Donahue's did on at least one occasion, a puny 0.1 rating, an indicator that only 137,000 households are watching?" Bates added that the claim is "part of the truth, Donahue-style."
Bates doesn't say where he got his ratings statistic from. But the Associated Press reported that at the time his show was canceled, Donahue averaged 446,000 viewers, up 28 percent from a year eariler, which would seem to support Donahue's claim.
In other words, it's the truth, NewsBusters style.
Remember that April 25 WorldNetDaily article making the misleading claim 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"? Turns out that story has been hanging around a lot longer than we thought.
A spam e-mail making the rounds in the military community serves as a reminder that facts can be flexible when they are launched anonymously into the vast void of cyberspace.
The e-mail, entitled, “Some very interesting statistics: Military losses, 1980 through 2006,” states that more U.S. service members died on active duty during the eight years of the Clinton administration, when there were no major U.S. military conflicts, than in the first six years of the George W. Bush administration, during which the military was fighting two large-scale wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The e-mail offers year-by-year U.S. military death totals from all causes — operations, illness, accidents, suicides, etc. — from 1980 through 2006.
The data supposedly were taken from a periodically updated Congressional Research Service report on the subject, which in turn is based on statistics compiled by the Pentagon’s Defense Manpower and Data Center.
There’s just one problem: The figures listed in the email are wrong. They vary markedly from the figures published in the cited CRS source document.
But some simple math using the figures listed on page 7 of the CRS report reveals that the figures for several of the years under Clinton are inflated, while figures for some of the years under Bush are downplayed.
Snopes has also debunked the military deaths email as well.
Yes, it appears WND used this false spam email as the basis for its own article, despite touting the work as "a WND investigation."
WND's main contribution appears to be using correct fatality numbers to arrive at its conclusion. But as we detailed, comparing raw fatality numbers, as WND and the spam email did, fails to take in account the total number of military members among which the deaths occured. In fact, the rate of military fatalities was higher in 2005, the latest year for which full fatality statistics were available, than at any other time in the 26-year time frame examined.
Curiously, none of this history is mentioned by WND -- perhaps because while WND corrects the email's faulty numbers, it embraces its faulty premise.
This isn't the first time the ConWeb has based articles on spam email. In 2004, Newsmax simply reprinted the contents of a spam -- faulty numbers and all -- purporting to list the differences between counties that voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and those that went for Al Gore.
WND Again Fails to Report Obama's Opposition to Hamas Topic: WorldNetDaily
A May 9 WorldNetDaily article reported that Barack Obama's campaign "severed ties with" informal adviser Robert Malley after it was revealed that he "had been in regular contact with Hamas," but nowhere is it explicitly stated that Obama opposes negotiation with Hamas. While the article quotes an adviser to Republican John McCain claiming that Obama "surrounds himself with advisers that contradict his stated policies," the actual fact of Obama's opposition to Hamas is never stated.
As we've detailed, WND has made a concerted effort to tie Obama to Hamas, frequently failing to mention that Obama opposes negotiation with Hamas.
By contrast, WND has not devoted an original article to the fact that Doug Goodyear, McCain's choice to manage this year's Republican National Convention, is a lobbyist whose firm has worked for the repressive military junta in Burma (just a external link).
Just read your bit about Matthew Sheffield's comments regarding Wikipedia and thought you might be interested in a few other areas where the left-vs.-right issue has come out. I'll mostly focus on Arbitration cases that have arisen in the last year or so that might be interesting to you.
First off, you may find this entertaining - it is an Arbitration case that banned Matt Sanchez, aka user Bluemarine, from the site for egregious conflict of interest, homophobic slurs, and general obnoxiousness. Click into the Discussion page to see more comments, and I'd recommend looking at the subpages as well - it's quite the entertaining read.
Waterboarding - is it torture or not? This is somewhat linked to the above Free Republic issue - one of the participants here is probably a sockpuppet of the central figure in that case.
Rachel Mardsen has been a regular source of irritation as well; I'm sure you heard about the recent flap over Wiki founder Jimmy Wales and she having a fling and her doing her usual thing after he broke it off, but the article has a long history, including another Arbitration case that I believe is linked from its talk page. The article was once deleted, restarted, deleted again, restarted, and has been regularly "massaged" by certain users with a conservative bent - if not Marsden herself, then close supporters.
Ronald Kessler's anti-Obama frenzy continues in a May 8 Newsmax column attacking the new pastor of Obama's church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
And just what are Rev. Otis Moss' offenses, according to Kessler? Describing certain Biblical figures as "thugs" in sermons and "prais[ing] a rapper with a criminal record as a prophet":
To applause, Moss approvingly cites Tupac Shakur, a “gangsta” rap star with a long arrest record.
Most Americans look to places of worship for inspiration and moral and spiritual guidance. Moss’ message is the opposite. Claiming Shakur’s message speaks to our “current condition,” Moss blurs the distinction between right and wrong: He says those who don’t get that a rapper like Shakur is a prophet and biblical figures are thugs are confined by “bourgeois paradigms.”
You will not be surprised to learn that nowhere does Kessler quote what Tupac lyrics Moss repeated to his parishoners.
Kessler is also taking the "prophet" quote out of context. From an April 30 AP article:
In his Easter sermon at Trinity, Moss stood in front of the choir and talked of "ghetto prophets."
He recited lyrics from Shakur's "Thugz Mansion," calling the late rapper "neither a saint nor demon, but all human."
He mocked those who dismiss rap music, saying it isn't "neatly packaged for our middle-class digestion" and rappers shouldn't be overlooked because of "coarse language and ragged subject-verb agreement" or a "proclivity for ghetto-istic conduct."
Sounds like Moss is referring to Kessler. Here's a sample lyric from "Thugz Mansion":Is that not a sentiment Kessler can endorse?
I need a place to rest my head with the little bit of homeboys that remains, cause all the rest dead Is there a spot for us to roll, if you find it I'll be right behind ya, show me and I'll go How can I be peaceful? I'm comin from the bottom Watch my daddy scream peace while the other man shot him I need a house that's full of love when I need to escape the deadly places slingin drugs, in thug's mansion
Is that not a sentiment Kessler can endorse? Apparently not, since he takes the opportunity to slam Obama yet again: "What kind of moral leadership can be exercised by a man who sends his kids to listen to sermons denouncing America and whites and now calling Moses a thug and praising a convicted rapper as a prophet?"
We can similarly question the trustworthiness of a reporter who has spent much of the past year creepily drooling over Mitt Romney and, in particular, his wife.
WND Misleads on 'Ex-Gay' Tiff, Then Scrubs Reference to Discredited Researcher Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a May 9 WorldNetDaily article, Bob Unruh misleads on information surrounding a tiff between "homosexual activist" Wayne Besen and gay conversion therapy proponent Warren Throckmorton.
Unruh claimed that Besen "attribut[ed] the crime of rape to the 'sickness' of the ex-'gay' movement" by "equat[ing] the reports of the crime of 'corrective rape' in which 'heterosexual male pupils rape lesbian pupils, believing that this will make them heterosexual,' with the work of ministries to homosexuals who desire to leave that lifestyle." -- even though he later quotes Besen as saying (well, quoting Throckmorton quoting Besen) that "these extreme cases do not represent the so-called 'ex-gay' movement in general." Unruh quotes Throckmorton calling Besen's statements "confusing" and "outrageous."
Of course, Unruh knows from outrageous comparisons, having regularly likened anyone he perceives as critical of homeschooling to Nazis.
Unruh also repeated a claim that Besen "earlier denied the truth of an attack on members of an ex-'gay' ministry even though police confirmed it happened":
As WND reported earlier, Wayne Besen, of an organization called Truth Wins Out, had accused members of Parents and Friends of ExGays of fabricating a story about a homosexual attacking the group's booth at the Arlington County Fair in Virginia in 2007.
Police, however, confirmed to WND that the incident did take place, and the attacker was escorted by officers off the fairgrounds.
In fact, according to the September 2007 WND article to which Unruh links:
"One officer told me today he was on patrol at the Fair when a woman approached him and told him a man had knocked over pamphlets at the PFOX booth and assaulted another man there. The officer then spoke to the alleged victim. He did not want to press charges and therefore no written report was filed," said a statement issued by John Lisle, media relations officer for the Arlington County police department.
"Based on the description the officer was given, he located the suspect at the Fair. Another officer escorted that gentleman off the Fair grounds," his statement continued.
Police did not "confirm the incident happened"; the officer confirmed only that the incident had been reported. No evidence is offered that the person who was "escorted ... off the Fair grounds" did, in fact, have any involvement in the alleged incident, only that he fit the description of a person described as a suspect in the incident.
Unruh then went on to quote an unnamed poster to the article on Besen's website in which he makes his allegations that said of Besen, "Wayne, I am sad to say that you have become the ... Fred Phelps of the left." While Unruh refuse to name him, that poster does in fact have a name: Alan Chambers, president of Exodus Internation, an evangelical group that helps people "overc[o]me unwanted same-sex attraction."
But what's that ellipsis doing there in Chambers' comment? Chambers didn't put it there, WND did -- and in fact did so after Unruh's article was first posted.
A check of the Google cache reveals that Unruh had included Chamber's full comment: "I am sad to say that you have become the Paul Cameron and Fred Phelps of the left."
A quote of Throckmorton from his blog -- "When Paul Cameron links gays and teacher-student sex, he is rightly denounced and dismissed. In my opinion, this post from Besen is the same kind of tactic" -- also appeared in the original and was later replaced by ellipses. Unruh's statement that "Paul Cameron has issued some controversial statements regarding the lifestyle" was also disappeared. There is currently no mention whatsoever of Cameron in the version of Unruh's article currently posted on WND.
Who is Cameron, exactly? He's the guy responsible for the oft-cited claim that gays have a shorter life span than heterosexuals -- a claim that has long since been discredited.
Why did WND scrub all mention of Cameron from Unruh's article? Perhaps because certain members of WND's upper management still think he's a trusted source. WND columnist Jane Chastain has twicecited Cameron's research, as have several other WND news articles and columnists (here, here, here, here and here); WND even printed a 2004 commentary by Cameron. No WND article references any criticism whatsoever of Cameron's research.
What WND has done is deleted facts from an article not because they weren't true (after all, WND has no problem with publishinglies) but because somebody decided that nothing negative about Cameron should appear in the article. So who is it that doesn't want WND readers to know the truth about Paul Cameron? Is it Joseph Farah? David Kupelian? Did Unruh himself have second thoughts?
Inquiring minds want to know...
UPDATE: Here's a PDF of the original version of Unruh's article.
The headline on Warner Todd Huston's May 9 NewsBusters post howls: 'Outrageous: McClatchy Praises Terrorist's 'Charity Work'." Huston writes:
McClatchy had their hearts go aflutter over Sadr's "humanitarian aid" imagining it to be the "other" softer side of the terror chieftain giving Sadr a nice little bit of free positive publicity quite despite the truth of his murderous actions.
Don't you love how they give legitimacy to "Sadr City's main humanitarian organization"? This is Muqtada al Sadr we are talking about here. He is 100% backed by one of our biggest enemies in the world, Iran. Yet, here is McClatchy acting as if the Sadrists are a legitimate "humanitarian aid" group.
This is shameless pandering to a murderer and terrorist.
Sadr is no humanitarian. He couldn't care less about people other than how he can use them to continue his terrorist activities. Let's put it this way: if a child predator gives a child some candy, should we praise the molester for selflessly feeding the children? Obviously, the molester's motives are to rape the child, so the food is a lure not an altruistic gift! This is the same with Sadr and his henchmen. They are holding a bit of candy out so that they may further rape the people of Iraq.
But, to McClatchy, Sadr is a really good guy because of this supposed "charity work."
Of course, the McClatchy article in question doesn't "praise" al-Sadr or call him "a really good guy"; rather, it points out that he is what passes for a functioning government in that area and that public support for his charity work is undermining the U.S. military in Iraq. Huston included excerpts from the article in his post -- all taken out of context. Here's what Huston didn't excerpt:
Sadr, the fiery anti-American Shiite cleric, has again emerged as the U.S. military's No. 1 problem in Iraq, as his followers wage an increasingly bloody struggle with American soldiers for control of impoverished, militia-infested Sadr City.
Analysts point out that Hezbollah's military wing is much more disciplined than Sadr's younger and more fractured movement. But Sadr's charity work helps to maintain popular support for his movement even as its confrontations with U.S. and Iraqi forces plunge places such as Sadr City deeper into chaos.
"It's a reflection of the existing vacuum and the extremely poor capacity of the state to step in and provide these services," said Peter Harling, an Iraq expert with the International Crisis Group, a conflict-resolution think tank.
International aid workers and ordinary Iraqis say that the U.S.-backed Iraqi government is sitting on billions of dollars meant for humanitarian projects. Shiite and Sunni militias have stepped in to fill the gap, assuming control of basic services in neighborhoods they control.
"We would be glad if the government could really provide services," said Ibrahim al Jabri, who oversees the Sadr organization's humanitarian projects in eastern Baghdad, including Sadr City.
"But until now there is nothing provided by the government. It's not possible just to leave people waiting."
Iraqi government efforts to help war victims, by contrast, are a bureaucratic morass. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has established a committee to help Iraq's war widows, who are eligible to receive monthly assistance payments of $40 to $80. But advocates say that cases take months or years to wind through the system, and very few applicants end up receiving help.
Lt. Col. Frank Curtis of the 432 Civil Affairs Battalion in Sadr City is trying to jumpstart reconstruction efforts and help Iraqi officials spend the allocated money for the area. Now they get about 70 people a day at the center.
He acknowledged that the Mahdi Army may pay money to families but said that people are tired of its intimidation campaigns.
"Maybe they pay that money, but what the populace tells us and the sheiks tell us is that basically what they do is they steal their money and restrict where they're allowed to go," he said. "Everybody out there has to pay for the right to live in their home."
Warner, honey: Reporting something does not equal approval of what is being reported. But falselyconflatingthetwo is something MRC writers seem to enjoy doing.
Klein Decides What Olmert Is 'Implying' Instead of Actually Quoting Olmert Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a may 9 WorldNetDaily article about a "bribery and corruption case" involving Israeli prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Aaron Klein wrote:
The Israeli leader denied any wrongdoing in the case, which has dominated headlines here this week and has prompted politicians from across the political spectrum to call for Olmert to step down.
"I never took bribes, I never took a penny for myself," said Olmert.
His comments, however, imply money was indeed exchanged.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported in an article appearing more than 12 hours before Klein's:
On Thursday, Olmert said all the cash he received -- put at hundreds of thousands of dollars by one judicial source -- was legitimate support from New York financier Morris Talansky to fund various election campaigns over nearly a decade from 1993.
In a terse six-minute address, Olmert said Talansky funded his two successful campaigns for mayor of Jerusalem in 1993 and 1998, an unsuccessful bid to lead the right-wing Likud party in 1999 and a further internal Likud election in 2002. He also said the American "helped me cover deficits" after elections.
Curiously, Klein chose to "imply" what Olmert said, rather than report what Olmert actually said -- that the money from Talansky funded his political campaigns but didn't go to Olmert personally.
Why would Klein put words in Olmert's mouth when he had actual words from Olmert to quote? Who knows? Perhaps AKlein was trying to make Olmert look as sinister as possible -- Klein does have an obvious hatred for the guy, even trying to undermine him during a time of war -- and claiming to report what Olmert "implied" made him look even more sinister.
Klein's attempt to "imply" Olmert is doubly laughable given that Klein himself has implied things that have gotten him into trouble. In November 2006, he implied that a $2 million ransom for the release of two Fox News journalists who had been kidnapped in Gaza was paid by Fox News itself. Klein vehemently insisted that he "never claimed Fox News paid money," but as we pointed out, he never explicitly stated in his original article that Fox News didn't pay the ransom.
Further, as he has done in his previous reporting on Olmert, Klein continues his aversion to accurately labeling right-wingers, describing Likud only as the "opposition party" while using "leftist" and "extreme leftist" to label other parties mentioned in his article.
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch Topic: Media Research Center
MRC chief Brent Bozell appeared May 9 on "Fox & Friends." Following the template, Bozell appears solo and is not identified as a conservative.
Referencing the murky endorsement of Barack Obama by Hamas, Bozell said, "Wasn't it bin Laden who endorsed John Kerry in '04? And when Republicans talked about that, liberals said, 'Oh, well, that's awful. That's dirty politics. You can't talk about that." In fact, as Ron Suskind wrote, bin Laden's pre-election 2004 videotape, which conservatives portrayed as an endorsement of Kerry but contained no explicit endorsement, was actually "designed to assist the President's reelection."
Farah Demands Credit He Doesn't Deserve Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah wants credit, dammit! From his May 9 WorldNetDaily column:
Yesterday, a story reported exclusively in WND became the hottest topic in the country as Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama sparred over a statement by a Hamas leader that sounded much like an endorsement of the latter.
There were hundreds of stories about the political feud in print. The story led most TV and radio newscasts in the late afternoon. It was the buzz of many talk shows from coast to coast.
All of these stories, newscasts and talk shows have one amazing thing in common: Not one mentioned the context of Hamas' kind words about Obama, the forum in which they were made, or the name of the only news agency that published them.
Um, wasn't this statement made on John Batchelor's radio show before it was reported on WND? Strangely, there's no mention of Batchelor -- who certainly deserves at least part of the credit -- anywhere in Farah's column.
Of course, Farah doesn't explain why a Hamas spokesman would chat up pro-Israel, anti-Hamas activists like Batchelor and WND's Aaron Klein, let alone why a Hamas spokesman would willingly contribute to their anti-Obama agenda, or why anyone should take the words of a Hamas spokesman at face value.
Farah goes on to whine:
They don't like to acknowledge the impact WND and the New Media are actually having on our society including our political system.
It is indecent and shameful that other media people would overlook his work in this way. They overlooked his original story. It wasn't deemed important enough to be picked up by any other news agency. Only when it was picked up by a presidential candidate was it ever mentioned again. But, even then, not one other media enterprise had the common decency to explain the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of that story's origin.
But I won't accept that.
If the Big Media won't credit WND for its stories, maybe I should not credit them for theirs.
'An Unusually Misguided Display of Anti-Porn Hysteria' Topic: WorldNetDaily
Someone who can speak somewhat authoritatively on porn weighs in on Chelsea Schilling's manufactured Wikipedia pornscandal. From Fleshbot (NSFW, since they show the pictures Schilling is too afraid to):
Not only is this an unusually misguided display of anti-porn hysteria—anyone looking for free unblocked smut can do a lot better than Wikipedia—but their complaints show a shocking misunderstanding of how Wikipedia actually works. It's completely created, edited and policed by its users —i.e. anyone and everyone—and if there's a problem the users are the ones who fix it.
Take that infamous 1976 Scorpions album cover, which could be considered child pornography: it might have been banned, but one could also argue that it has some sort of historical relevance. If the community doesn't agree, then the community of Wikipedia users can remove it ... which they eventually did. (Here's the discussion about it, which predates the WND article.)
Tattling to the FBI about nudie pics on the internet is like complaining to Congress about evolution. Hating it enough won't make it go away. Besides, one way or another people have to learn about strippers—so it's either on Wikipedia or in a strip club. Take your pick.
Meanwhile, Schilling's latest article claims once again that "the FBI is reviewing the image" of the Scorpions album cover without offering any actual evidence it is, in fact, doing so. Schilling also repeats the results of WND's meaningless opt-in poll on the subject.
Yet another example of Aaron Klein's biased reporting: A May 8 article on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's alleged involvement in a "very serious criminal investigation" is his second in three days to feature it. But as we've noted, Klein has never done an article on the rape scandal involving former Israeli President Moshe Katsav (and has mentioned it only in passing) -- presumably because Katsav is a member of the right-wing Likud Party, with whom Klein sympathizes.
Klein continues his aversion to accurately labeling right-wingers, describing Likud only as the "opposition party" while throwing out "leftist" and "extreme leftist" for other parties mentioned in his article.
New Article: Schmoozing With Smearmongers Topic: WorldNetDaily
Why is a member of Hamas chatting up -- and endorsing Barack Obama with -- conservative radio host John Batchelor and right-wing WorldNetDaily writer Aaron Klein, who are pro-Israel and anti-Hamas? Read more >>
In a May 7 WorldNetDaily article, Chelsea Schilling follows up on her alarmist "Wikipornia" article accusing Wikipedia of peddling "sexually explicit images and content" but failing to explain that they appear in the context of an encyclopedia.
This time, Schilling focuses on a single image, the non-U.S. cover of the Scorpions' 1976 album "Virgin Killer," calling it a "photo of a nude adolescent that could violate federal child-pornography laws."
But Schilling does not explain that child nudity is not the same as child pornography, as some parents can attest. Pornography, child or adult, involves "sexually explicit conduct" or images on websites that "exist for the sexual stimulation of viewers." Given that Wikipedia is not a porn site (no matter how much Schilling and Matt Barber want to potray it as one), and given that the picture's primary use in Wikipedia is for illustrative purposes, not for "the sexual stimulation of viewers," Schilling would have a hard time pressing a federal child-porn investigation.
Of course, Schilling never explains any of this -- she's too busy trying to manufacture controversy and distort facts by smearing Wikipedia as a porn merchant.
UPDATE: A couple other things worth noting about Schilling's article:
-- She claims "the FBI is now reviewing" the photo, but she offers no evidence -- i.e., a quote from an FBI spokesman -- that this is, in fact, the case. Schilling's previous article stated, though, that Matt Barber "said he will be contacting the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's office to determine whether Wikipedia may be engaging in the dissemination of illegal obscenity." Is that what she's going by?
-- She concludes: "In a WND poll related to that story, the No. 1 response at more than 47 percent had readers saying Wikipedia is clearly violating U.S. obscenity laws and should face prosecution." As we've detailed, since WND polls are opt-in, the results have no basis in reality and are not a reliable indicator of anyone's opinion on anything.
It wasn’t enough that journalists’ opinions (just forget the facts, ma’am) were choking out the sunlight in journalism like kudzu vine. Those opinions not only had to be seen and heard, they also had to be followed by the folks who make things happen.
The next leap, from influencers of action to takers of actions, was a short hop.
Today, the goal of insatiable pseudo-journalists has metastasized from being among the elite to being an equal of the elite who not only decide what’s to be done but actual do the doing.
Put more clearly, the accepted standard for failure among today’s aspiring, and aspired, pseudo-journalists is to become ineffectual, or, God forbid, irrelevant.
Assisting them in those pursuits, it became acceptable to write the news as those manipulators wished the world to appear, to make the soil of society more fertile for the seed of their ideological agenda.
Wearing self-deceiving blinkers like that, it’s no wonder today’s pseudo-journalists don’t get it, don’t get it why they, and the politicians cozying up to them, are the only ones left who have much respect for them or even take them seriously anymore.
What’s happened is that these pseudo-journalists have sucked the life’s blood out of journalism, and turned what was once a noble and respected profession into an empty husk.
Not to Perry. Instead, he concludes that "It is the leftists who are robbing this country of its genuine journalism," offering no evidence to back it up and refusing to examine the role his employer has played in debasing "genuine journalism" (something Perry has a habit of doing).