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Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Has Anyone At NewsBusters Actually Listened to the Decemberists?
Topic: NewsBusters

A May 20 NewsBusters post by Robert Knight fowards one of the more absurd ideas of the election season: that the 70,000-plus attending a speech by Barack Obama in Portand didn't go to see him but, instead, the Portland-based band the Decemberists, which played before Obama's speech.

Knight declared the Decemberists "actual rock stars," pointing out that the band "has drawn rave reviews from Rolling Stone magazine." (This may be the first instance of an MRC employee referencing Rolling Stone in a non-derogatory manner.) Knight added that "Indie rock Web sites were abuzz with news of the impending concert"; somehow, we can't imagine Knight trolling said websites for the latest news about the Decemberists. Knight concluded by sniffing:

There's nothing wrong with a candidate using celebrity power to draw a crowd, but the media have a responsibility to report their presence. By ignoring the free concert, the Times and other outlets made it appear that 75,000 people were drawn only by Sen. Obama's considerable charisma.

This makes sense only if you, like Knight, know nothing about indie rock in general or the Decemberists in particular.

According to Billboard, the Decemberists' most recent album, "The Crane Wife," sold 151,000 copies in its first two months of release -- healthy numbers for a indie band but not exactly a sign of mass appeal. Billboard goes on to note that the band was "gearing up for a spring trek that will hit 1,500- to 3,000-capacity venues across the United States." A previous tour, Billboard wrote, drew 32,000 people over 18 shows.

That's a sign that the band would in all likelihood not be able to fill a 70,000-seat venue by itself anywhere -- even in Portland. They may be popular in Portland, but not that popular. Knight is just desperately trying to denigrate Obama's popularity.

As a measure of pop-culture cluelessness, Knight ranks slightly below Accuracy in Media's attempt to portray Rufus Wainwright as a "mainstream" artist in order to claim that the music industry was shoving gay musicians down the public's throat.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:53 PM EDT
Folger's Sources
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In her May 20 WorldNetDaly column portraying same-sex marriage as a harbinger for the end of the world (seriously!), Janet Folger cited, as a source to back up the claim, "Jeffrey Satinover, who holds an M.D. from Princeton and doctorates from Yale, MIT and Harvard."

As we detailed when Folger previously cited him, Satinover is an anti-gay psychiatrist who calls homosexuality "psychologically unhealthy," "an inferior way of life,"and a "sociopathy" akin to "grow[ing] up in a Cosa Nostra family,"  adding that "homosexuality--like narcissism--is best viewed as a spiritual and moral illness." Not the person to go to for an unbiased view on the issue, yet Folger loves to cite him anyway.

Folger has been busy of late being inflammatory; as Right Wing Watch noted, in her May 13 WND column, Folger likened supporting Barack Obama to supporting Nazis.

We think that's a step up from authoritatively citing neo-Nazi racists, but we're not sure.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:11 AM EDT
New Article: Shoebat's Story
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Muslim-turned-Christian Walid Shoebat is the star attraction of WorldNetDaily's new anti-Islam book. But WND has kept mum on questions about the veracity of Shoebat's claim to be a former terrorist. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:29 AM EDT
Where's The Outrage?
Topic: NewsBusters

So Warner Todd Huston has his panties in a bunch over an allegedly offensive (to conservatives, at least) Daily Kos thread, adding ominously: "Even more damning, Kos pulled the entire post off the website."

Then, Huston should consider it equally damning that a Free Republic thread on the news of Ted Kennedy's brain tumor has numerous posts deleted from it by a moderator.

Why? As Pandagon notes, the thread was locked at one point with a message from the moderator: "Some of you are a disgrace to this forum, and life is too short to waste cleaning up your messes." (The thread is now apparently open again, headed by the moderator's opaque statement, "It was locked for reasons that should be obvious to everyone by now.")

LiberalLand caught some of those now-presumably deleted Freeper posts on Kennedy that are, shall we say, less than respectful.

Will Huston take Free Republic to task the way he has Daily Kos for its similar damning behavior? Don't count on it. One might even call it a metaphysical certainty that he won't.

UPDATE: The same goes for any mention of Michael Savage playing a Dead Kennedys song out of "some respect" for Ted Kennedy's brain tumor.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:33 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 2:26 PM EDT
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
WND Anti-Obama Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Yet another example of WorldNetDaily's anti-Obama (and de facto pro-McCain) agenda is a May 19 article portraying Barack Obama has having "pooh-poohed the idea that Iran or any of a few other 'tiny' nations around the world offer a serious potential threat to the United States or the free world," compared with the threat posed by the Soviet Union. WND devotes 16 of the article's 23 paragraphs to quoting McCain, right-wing blogger (though not identified as one) Ed Morrissey and even commenters on "a forum on YouTube" attacking Obama.

Further, as is WND style, the article does not quote Obama responding to the criticism, even though his reaction (to McCain's attack, not that of the YouTube commenters) was available prior to WND's posting of its article.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:05 PM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

A May 20 appearance by Brent Bozell on "Fox & Friends" offers a shocking deviation from the template: he doesn't appear solo but is paired with radio host Mike Papantonio.

Even more shocking: While at one point Bozell is introduced only as "president of the Media Research Center" while at the same time Papantonio is described as a "liberal radio host," the segment concludes with one host say, "We thank you guys for representing the right and the left." The MRC's clip of the segment contains only highlights and not the entire segment, so we can't determine if Bozell was identified as a conservative at any other point in the segment. But such acknowledgment that anyone from the MRC is right of center is a rarity on Fox News.

UPDATE: In an appearance on the May 20 edition of "America's Election HQ" -- the MRC's Rich Noyes takes President Bush's side (as does anchor Megyn Kelly) on a controversy over how an interview with NBC was edited. Kelly not only echoed Noyes' talking points, she returns to the template: Noyes appeared solo and is not identified as a conservative.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:50 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 7:05 PM EDT
Klein Absurdly Denies Having Anti-Obama Agenda
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah's May 20 WorldNetDaily column attacked a Congressional Quarterly writer who suggested that WND is promoting John McCain's agenda by repeatedly attacking Barack Obama (which, as we've noted, is arguably true). Showing the class we've come to expect from WND, Farah smears the CQ writer, Shawn Zeller, as "some lightweight staffer," "this little twit," and "a pasty-faced nerd who gets his jollies ripping real reporters from the friendly confines of his CQ office."

One paragraph from Zeller's CQ item caught our eye:

But in an e-mail exchange from Jerusalem, Klein says that it’s absurd to say, as some liberal bloggers have of late, that WorldNetDaily has an anti-Obama agenda. “WND has one agenda: fierce independent reporting that exposes the truth,” he says. “Isn’t it fair to report that the man running for our highest office has some questionable advisers and affiliations? What is not fair is when liberal bloggers call out any reporter who dares expose the truth about their favored presidential candidate.”

To which we say: Yeah, right. But don't take our word for it; just examine Klein's WND article archive. A look at articles Klein has written since the beginning of the year reveals the following count:

Klein articles that attack or reflect negatively on Obama: 24
Klein articles that attack or reflect negatively on McCain: 1

That, of course, doesn't include Obama-bashing articles not written by Klein, of which there are at least as many.

That's irrefutable proof of an anti-Obama agenda. Farah and Klein can deny it -- and likely will -- but you can't spin away hard numbers.

P.S. More evidence: In March, Klein slammed supporters of Obama has having a "malignant messianic infatuation." 

Posted by Terry K. at 9:16 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 9:24 AM EDT
Kinsolving Misleads About WaPo Editorial Page
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In his May 13 WorldNetDaily column, Les Kinsolving bashed the Washington Post's purportedly "very leftist editorial page," later noting the Post's "stubborn decision for leftist op-ed pages (with the slim exception of columnists Krauthammer and Will) and that harrowing editorial page."

Of course, that's not true. As Media Matters has detailed, the Post's editorials have often expressed views similar to those of the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page. And Kinsolving ignored one other conservative Post columnist, Robert Novak, fattening up that "slim exception."

Given this, we can only assume that Kinsolving was thrilled beyond words that the Post ran a May 17 column by conservative writer Kathleen Parker (whose work, by the way, is distributed by the Washington Post Writers Group) essentially calling Obama and John Edwards gay for each other.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:18 AM EDT
Newsmax, WND Swallow Global Warming Petition's Claims
Topic: Newsmax

In a May 19 Newsmax article, Phil Brennan joins Noel Sheppard as an unpaid (or maybe not) press agent for the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine in promoting the group's petition claiming, in Brennan's words, "[a]n incredible 31,072 Americans with university degrees in science, including 9,021 Ph.D.s, have signed a petition that flatly denies Al Gore’s claims that human-caused global warming is a settled scientific fact."

Brennan not only treats the OISM's claims as an undisputed fact that doesn't require verification, he fawns over the group, asserting that "These 31,072 scientists do not believe the world is flat, and they say there is no convincing scientific evidence that so-called greenhouse gasses are causing catastrophic heating of the earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate" and calling petition organizer Frederick Seitz "a towering figure in the world of science."

Like Sheppard, Brennan asks no questions about how the OISM is so certain all of these petition signers are "scientists" or even hold "

These 31,072 scientists do not believe the world is flat, and they say there is no convincing scientific evidence that so-called greenhouse gasses are causing catastrophic heating of the earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate." According to the group's website, it appears to be based on self-reporting with no apparent verification mechanism.

Further, judging by a letter from Seitz on the group's website, it appears that OISM gamed things a bit by sending out information packets to scientists containing only information attacking the idea of global warming. As SourceWatch points out, the 12-page article purporting to be a "review article about the human-caused global warming hypothesis" that had the appearance of a scientific paper but never appeared in a peer-reviewed journal at the time it was sent out. The paper prominently promoted Seitz's ties to the National Academy of Sciences, forcing the NAS to publicly disassociate itself from it. Also, according to SourceWatch, OISM has refused to release information on the number of these mailings that were sent out.

WND jumped on the bandwagon as well with a May 19 article by Bob Unruh, who also showed no evidence of skepticism toward the OISM's claims. Unruh asserted that "between 1999 and 2007, the list of signatures grew gradually without any special effort or campaign" -- even though Brennan reported that "In 2001, OISM circulated what was known as the Oregon Petition," an effort that "gathered an astounding 17,800 signatures."

The level of metaphysical certainty that Sheppard won't report anything that dares to contradict the OISM may reasonably be extended to Brennan and Unruh as well.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:16 AM EDT
Monday, May 19, 2008
Farah Disingenously Claims He's Not Helping McCain
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah has regularly proclaimed that he won't support John McCain for president and won't help him get elected. For instance:

  • "No, I won't be a part of that scenario. McCain could well beat Obama or Clinton. They are deeply flawed candidates. But he will get no help from me." -- May 19
  • "But John McCain won't get any help from me. He won't get my vote." -- May 1

That's a disingenuous claim. Farah is very much "helping" McCain through WND's torrent of articles bashing Barack Obama. A search of WND's archives would easily demonstrate the number of "news" articles critical of McCain is crushed by the number attacking Obama.

Another example is the campaign coverage of WND's Whistleblower magazine. While the issues dedicated to Obama ("THE SECRET LIFE OF BARACK OBAMA") and Hillary Clinton ("QUEEN OF DARKNESS") are comprised solely of attack articles (and, in Clinton's case, repeating long-discredited hatchet jobs), Whistleblower's upcoming edition on McCain, neutrally titled "The Real John McCain," includes articles titled "The conservative case for McCain," "How McCain can woo conservatives and independents," "Leading pro-life group supports McCain," "Making the case for McCain," and "Why conservatives should support McCain."

Yet Farah wants us to believe that this is not "helping" McCain.

His harsh words for McCain himself aside, WND proprietor Farah and WND's chief Obama-bashing reporter Aaron Klein might as well be on McCain's payroll.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:38 PM EDT
Good and Bad From Aaron Klein
Topic: WorldNetDaily

First the good news: In a May 18 WorldNetDaily article, Aaron Klein correctly stated that Barack Obama "term[ed] the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a "constant sore" last week." If you'll recall, an unbylined WND article took Obama's words out of context to falsely claim that he called Israel a "constant sore."

Will WND issue a correction and apology for its previous article, now that Klein has gotten it right? Probably not -- not even after publishing two articles with conflicting, irreconcilable claims. But we'll watch for one anyway.

Now the bad news: The rest of Klein's article is another desperate guilt-by-association smear of Obama, suggesting that using the term "constant sore" means that Obama "borrow[ed] the phraseology of a pro-Palestinian activist and harsh critic of Israel who has been described as a friend of the senator."

Klein repeated a claim from a previous article that Khalidi "dedicated his 1986 book, 'Under Siege,' to 'those who gave their lives ... in defense of the cause of Palestine and independence of Lebanon.'  Critics assailed the book as excusing Palestinian terrorism and claim the dedication is in reference to the Palestine Liberation Organization, which at that time committed scores of anti-Western attacks and was labeled by the U.S. as a terror group[.]" Klein does not identify who these purported "critics" are.

Klein also delves into the murky anonymous-source pool, citing "a professor at the University of Chicago who said he has known Obama for 12 years" who "spoke on condition of anonymity" and other never-identified "sources at the University."

UPDATE: In a previous article, Klein referred to William Ayers, not Khalidi, as a "confessed domestic terrorist." This item has been edited to conform.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:40 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, May 19, 2008 3:42 PM EDT
Sheppard Inconveniently Ignores Truth Behind Anti-Global Warming Petition
Topic: NewsBusters

From a May 18 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard:

The names of over 31,000 American scientists that reject the theory of anthropogenic global warming are to be revealed on Monday.

Although this will occur at the National Press Club in Washington, DC., it seems a metaphysical certitude media will completely ignore the event.

Roughly the same level of metaphysical certainty, we'd guess, that Sheppard won't tell his readers about the agenda of the group pushing the petition, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.

After reprinting the OISM's press release verbatim, Sheppard does take a stab at explaining the petition's background (reflecting his own biases, of course):

Folks should recall that this petition was first circulated in 1999 garnering more than 19,000 signatures. The alarmists discounted its significance because there were some duplicate names, and some of the signatories apparently weren't scientists -- or so the story goes.

With over 31,000 now on the list, all with degrees in science -- including 9,000 PhDs! -- what might this do to the nonsensical premise of there being a consensus concerning this issue?

SourceWatch, meanwhile, offers up a little more background on the OISM's petition than Sheppard seems to want to share with his readers:

The Oregon Petition, sponsored by the OISM, was circulated in April 1998 in a bulk mailing to tens of thousands of U.S. scientists. In addition to the petition, the mailing included what appeared to be a reprint of a scientific paper. Authored by OISM's Arthur B. Robinson, Sallie L. Baliunas, Willie Soon, and Zachary W. Robinson, the paper was titled "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" and was printed in the same typeface and format as the official Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Also included was a reprint of a December 1997, Wall Street Journal editorial, "Science Has Spoken: Global Warming Is a Myth, by Arthur and Zachary Robinson. A cover note signed "Frederick Seitz/Past President, National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A./President Emeritus, Rockefeller University", may have given some persons the impression that Robinson's paper was an official publication of the academy's peer-reviewed journal. The blatant editorializing in the pseudopaper, however, was uncharacteristic of scientific papers.
Robinson's paper claimed to show that pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is actually a good thing. "As atmospheric CO2 increases," it stated, "plant growth rates increase. Also, leaves lose less water as CO2 increases, so that plants are able to grow under drier conditions. Animal life, which depends upon plant life for food, increases proportionally." As a result, Robinson concluded, industrial activities can be counted on to encourage greater species biodiversity and a greener planet[.]


In reality, neither Robinson's paper nor OISM's petition drive had anything to do with the National Academy of Sciences, which first heard about the petition when its members began calling to ask if the NAS had taken a stand against the Kyoto treaty. Robinson was not even a climate scientist. He was a biochemist with no published research in the field of climatology, and his paper had never been subjected to peer review by anyone with training in the field. In fact, the paper had never been accepted for publication anywhere, let alone in the NAS Proceedings. It was self-published by Robinson, who did the typesetting himself on his own computer. (It was subsequently published as a "review" in Climate Research, which contributed to an editorial scandal at that publication.)

None of the coauthors of "Environmental Effects of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" had any more standing than Robinson himself as a climate change researcher. They included Robinson's 22-year-old son, Zachary, along with astrophysicists Sallie L. Baliunas and Willie Soon.


When questioned in 1998, OISM's Arthur Robinson admitted that only 2,100 signers of the Oregon Petition had identified themselves as physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, or meteorologists, "and of those the greatest number are physicists." This grouping of fields concealed the fact that only a few dozen, at most, of the signatories were drawn from the core disciplines of climate science - such as meteorology, oceanography, and glaciology - and almost none were climate specialists. The names of the signers are available on the OISM's website, but without listing any institutional affiliations or even city of residence, making it very difficult to determine their credentials or even whether they exist at all. 

Gee, sounds like the OISM has a certain agenda -- the same one Sheppard has. That increases the metaphysical certitude that Sheppard won't discuss the full truth about this petition.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:21 AM EDT
NewsBusters' Distorted Comparison of Presidential Investments
Topic: NewsBusters

A May 15 NewsBusters post by Terry Trippany has the stated purpose of "Applying the AP's McCain Standard to Barack Obama Shows Sudanese Connections to His Campaign." But that's not what Trippany did.

Here's Trippany's explanation:

AP writer Jim Kuhnhenn is applying a six degrees of separation style standard in trying to accuse John McCain of investing in the Sudan because his wife owned some mutual funds that had holdings in an Indian company that allegedly does business in the Sudan. The far left has picked up on this "AP newsbreak" as evidenced by its front page status at The Huffington Post.

So I decided to play the game myself by looking at the mainstream media's favorite target of obsessive adulation, Barack Obama. My my, would you look at that? When I applied the McCain standard to Barack Obama I quickly discovered that Obama's top contributors are being targeted by activists that are targeting financial companies to divest in the Sudan. Surprised?

But a supporter of a candidate is not the same as the candidate's spouse.

Trippany then distorts things further by directly equating donations by individual employees of a company or organization with the activities of that company:

According to Barack Obama received $544,000 from people associated with or employed by Goldman Sachs. Not good. In 1998 China was set to make its first public offering on the New York Stock exchange via a company called the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC). The deal quickly came under fire because China was financing arms sales to the Sudan and allegedly used Chinese prison laborers to build oil pipelines in the region.

Trippany then called Goldman Sachs "Barack Obama's number one contributor" even though it's individual Goldman Sachs employees who have donated to Obama's campaign. Not the same thing.

Trippany distorts things further by calling the University of California "Obama's number 2 contributor" without the disclaimer that the university itself did not donate -- we're pretty sure that would be illegal -- but individual employees did.

Indeed, the page from which Trippany cribbed this information has at the top of the page in big red letters, "The organizations themselves did not donate," adding,"rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families."

Trippany asserted that the AP's "standard is bogus,"but doesn't note an important piece of informatin from the AP article -- that Obama divested Sudan-related investments from his portfolio a year ago. 

Which explains why Trippany had to resort to the misleading comparison of Obama supporters vs. McCain's wife.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Sunday, May 18, 2008
WND Columnist Lies About Global Poverty Act
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Donald Hank begins a May 17 WorldNetDaily column this way:

Conservatives know that Sen. Barack Obama has recently introduced the Global Poverty Act, which some commentators have said would bankrupt America by giving an additional 0.7 percent of GDP to Third World governments.

That may well be true.

Actually, it's not. As we detailed, the Global Poverty Act would establish no specific funding source, would not commit the United States to any targeted level of spending, and would not give the U.N. the power to impose a tax on the U.S.

Yet Hank goes on to pretend that it does all of these things. In railing against "government-enforced socialist wealth sharing" and claiming that welfare is only about "paying people to live a dangerous lifestyle," Hank adds: 

[B]y politicizing charity and impoverishing Americans (to the tune of over $10,000 per person), the Global Poverty Act would make it more difficult for Christians to continue being the most generous people in the world. Instead, we would make them unwilling donors to the world's most corrupt charity, the U.N. 

But it doesn't. And Hank is irresponsible and deceitful to claim, in the face of facts, that it does.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:52 AM EDT
Farah Still Quasi-Defending Polygamist Cult
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah keeps up his quasi-defense of polygamist cultists in his May 16 WorldNetDaily column. This time around, he's defending the idea that refusing to immunize one's children is a good thing. This is a major WND hobbyhorse; it has long engaged in anti-immunization scare tactics.

In railing against an apparent decision by Texas officials to have the children of the cultists that they have taken into custody vaccinated against the usual diseases, Farah asserted that the parents are "mothers and fathers made conscious and well-informed decisions not to immunize their kids because of the potential for dire health risks." Really? How does Farah know this? Indeed, he offers no evidence that the parents "made conscious and well-informed decisions not to immunize their kids"; in fact, one can plausibly argue that, given that they are members of a polygamist cult, they have a demonstrated history of not making "well-informed decisions."

And, like before, Farah refuses to offer any meaningful criticism of the cult, even though they have acted in ways he purports not to like: "Again, I don't like some of the things that went on in that community. I don't approve of them. There may even have been some laws broken. But there is no evidence being made public to suggest every single mother in the compound abused or neglected her children – or to suggest these poor kids would be better off with the state of Texas as their parent."

Again, as we've noted, it's more important to Farah that parents have the right to do what they want to with their children -- including pawning them off into an illegal polygamist relationship -- than actually punishing said illegal behavior. Farah is willing to condone the abuse of the cult's children to make an anti-government argument, just as he ignores the abuse of children in the Phillip Long homeschooling case in order to make Long a martyr to the homeschooling cause.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 AM EDT

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