Kincaid Hearts WND's Stenography Topic: Accuracy in Media
We've previously described how two different news organizations treated Cliff Kincaid's attempts to portray Barack Obama as a secret commie: WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi swallowed Kincaid's assertions without question, while the Washington Post's Dana Milbank applied the skepticism such claims deserve.
Guess which version Kincaid prefers? From his May 25 AIM column:
Thanks to Joseph Farah’s WorldNetDaily and his excellent reporter, Jerome R. Corsi, many people are learning the basic facts about these relationships. Corsi covered the release of two reports on the subject through my America’s Survival, Inc. organization.
There are many in the liberal and conservative media who want desperately to avoid this subject. The liberals want to protect Obama. The “conservatives” avoiding the subject don’t want to be accused of “McCarthyism” if they mention it. But thanks to Farah’s WorldNetDaily and other new media outlets, the story is coming out and won’t be ignored.
That's not a surprise -- of course Kincaid would prefer a news organization that swallowed everything he said hook, line and sinker, not asking any pesky questions about his partisan motivations or even bothering to verify his claims. And Corsi and WND are all too happy to oblige -- after all, they didn't ask any questions when Larry Sinclair made his false claims against Obama, either.
WND Uncritically Quotes Writer Who Likens Homosexuality to Incest, Polygamy Topic: WorldNetDaily
A May 7 WorldNetDaily article uncritically repeated claims by an author who likens homsexuality to incest and polygamy -- a claim repeated in a May 13 WND article.
The May 7 article was devoted entirely to summarizing a "open letter" by Robert A.J. Gagnon reacting to a controversy over University of Toledo associate vice president for human resources Crystal Dixon, who was fired allegedly over an article she wrote taking "great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims'" because "thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle" and because gays are well-educated and have higher-than-average incomes; she went on to call homosexuality a "revolt" against "God's divine order."
The unbylined May 7 article described Gagnon as "[a]n author who wrote two books about homosexuality," adding" "He holds degrees from Princeton, Harvard and Dartmouth and wrote the 'Sexuality' entry for the 'New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics,' the same entry for the 'Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of Scripture,' and dozens of other such articles. He's written for 'Theology Matters,' 'Catholic Biblical Quarterly' and 'Journal of Biblical Literature.'" From the article:
Gagnon said the closer parallels to adult-committed homosexual relations are not ethnicity or gender but, rather, adult-committed incestuous unions and adult-committed polysexual unions.
"Given your full affirmation of homosexual activity, you are left with Oprah Winfrey's conclusion after meeting some economically upscale, adult-committed polygamists for a 2007 show: 'The best part of doing this job … [is that] I come in with one idea and then I leave a little more open about the whole idea. And what I realize … is that in every situation there are people who give things a bad name," Gagnon wrote.
"Give America more exposure to upscale, adult-committed polygamous bonds (and adult-committed incestuous bonds) and American will learn to be more tolerant of such bonds, as Oprah has," he wrote. "Those who dismiss a polygamy analogy and an incest analogy on the grounds that polygamy and incest always produce 'demonstrable harm' are simply responding out of their 'polyphobia' and 'incest-phobia.' And then you can suspend peole who say critical things about such relationships, once you overcome your own prejudices," he said.
"An environment that provides increased opportunities for and fewer negative sanctions against same-gender sexuality may both allow and even elicit expression of same-gender interest and sexual behavior. ... There is evidence for the effect of the degree of urbanization of residence while growing up on reported homosexuality. This effect is quite marked and strong for men," the study said.
Gagnon warned, too, of results indicating that when homosexuality is supported, homosexuality increases. He said that should be a warning to voters in the U.S.
If either Democrat candidate gains the White House, he said, "They're going to run down the homosexual agenda: Hate crimes, employment non-discrimination, remove the federal marriage [act], gay marriage will be instituted."
"Then anyone who disagrees or has reservations … will be regarded legally as the equivalent of a virulent racist," he said.
As befits WND's anti-gay agenda, no apparent effort is made to allow anyone to respond to Gagnon's claims.
Gagnon's "open letter" goes even farther than what WND quoted. In it, he calls homosexuality "an impulse-related condition" and titles one section, "Why is homosexual practice wrong?" He concluded: "My point is that if you find adult-committed incest and adult-committed polyamory offensive on formal or structural grounds, you should find adult-committed homosexual practice even more offensive."
For all of the theological credentials WND cited, questions have been raised about his conclusions (which, of course, WND fails to acknowledge). For instance, as one Amazon.com reviewer writes regarding the Gagnon co-authored book "Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views": "Technically he's telling the truth, but to those of us with linguistic training and training in the Biblical languages, he's being intellectually dishonest or he didn't check an important claim in a source he didn't cite." And a blogger writes of Gagnon's argument that the book of Genesis explains why homosexuality is wrong:
Unfortunately, Dr. Gagnon's argument is built on sand, namely the unstated assumption that the author(s) of the Book of Genesis got the history right (to say nothing of the biology). From everything I've ever learned in school and elsewhere, we have no reason to regard the scriptural tales of Adam and Eve as anything more than speculation. And yet, on the basis of this ahistorical, pre-scientific speculation of 3,000 years ago, we have the effrontery to direct present-day gay and lesbian adults to remain alone and celibate throughout their lives.
As one might expect, Gagnon also hangs around in right-wing anti-gay circles. He served as a speaker for the Illinois Family Institute's "Love and Truth" campaign (alongside presentations titled "How the gay movement endangers and corrupts children" and "The severe health risks of homosexual behavior"). And a 2004 WND article featured criticism from Gagnon of an "annual convention of American religion scholars" that featured "sessions favorable toward sadomasochism, transvestism, transsexualism and polyamory":
"One wonders what is next for the Gay Men's group at AAR – the promotion of incest, 'pedosexuality' and bestiality?" Gagnon asked in a written critique. "There is certainly little or nothing in the presenters' theology that would lead away from such ultimate absurdities."
Farah praised Gagnon as a "courageous whistleblower" for exposing the meeting, describing it as an example of "just how low our culture has plummeted, just how completely our institutions have been subverted, just how evil men's hearts are and just how blind we as a society have become to the depravity that surrounds us."
P.S. In an weird little sidelight, Gagnon on his website defends use of the term "homosex" in his writing:
I prefer to use it such expressions as pro- or anti-homosex rather than to make use of pro- or anti-homosexual. The latter expressions are open to abuse because the term homosexual can refer to a homosexual person. The present debate about homosexual practice is not a debate about whether one should be pro- or anti-homosexual persons. All believers are called on to love persons with a homoerotic proclivity or, for that matter, any other sexual "orientations" that are at variance with Scripture. To oppose a person's self-destructive behavior is not the smae thing as opposing the person. Indeed, to support a person's self-destructive and other-destructive behavior is, in effect, to oppose the person, albeit unwittingly. True love works in the best interests of those who experience homoerotic desires.
Matt Sanchez spends his May 24 WorldNetDaily column pointing out Barack Obama's "gay problem" -- that is, he opposes a ban on gay marriage and supports, in Sanchez's words, "mainstreaming the marginal" (you know, treating gays like everyone else). Sanchez further claims that "Eliminating 'don't ask, don't tell' [in the military] is an invitation to give priority to the self-serving activism of 'out and proud' over the self-sacrificing commitment of 'just doing my job'" (without citing any evidence to support the claim, of course).
Needless to say, nowhere is it mentioned -- nor, indeed, has it ever been mentioned on WND -- that Sanchez used to work in gay porn.
Doesn't that history make Sanchez's attack a little, you know, hypocritical? And don't both Sanchez and WND look more than a bit dishonest for failing to disclose a relevant piece of factual information?
Graham Misleads on 2000 Recount Topic: NewsBusters
In a May 25 NewsBusters post, Tim Graham asserts that the upcoming HBO movie "Recount" "aims to mislead the public into believing Al Gore won the presidency in 2000, when every recount (even the liberal media’s) found otherwise."
In fact, as we've previously noted, the National Opinion Research Center recount, funded by a consortium of news organizations including the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, found that Gore won Florida in four different counting scenarios.
Graham also suggests that the "Recount" movie has a liberal slant because "liberal media consultants" were hired for their help with the script, among them Jake Tapper, who wrote a book on the 2000 Florida turmoil. But a July 2003 MRC CyberAlert said of the book: "To be fair, Tapper’s book was supposedly also pretty tough on Al Gore." (We've previously noted the MRC's attempts to dismiss Tapper as a liberal.)
UPDATE: Brent Baker gets in on the misleading fun, insisting that "both recounts conducted by major media outlets in 2001 determined George W. Bush would have won anyway" and that anyone who claims otherwise is "re-writing ... history." Baker, unlike Graham, does try to quantify things, claiming that "George W. Bush still would have won under either legally possible recount scenario which could have occurred" and citing a Gore win under "a scenario which never could have occurred." But Baker, like the November 2001 CyberAlert item from which he cribs, never explains how he concluded that the two recount scenarios he cites in which Bush won are the only "legally possible" ones.
Aaron Klein's 27th Obama-bashing article (versus just one critical of John McCain) is a May 23 piece accusing Barack Obama of "misrepresenting" his relationship with "pro-Palestinian activist and harsh critic of Israel" Rashid Khalidi. In rebutting Obama's claim that he has "had conversations" with Obama and little more, Klein claims that "Obama's relationship with Khalidi goes beyond conversation." His lead piece of evidence: "Sources at the university told WND that Khalidi and Obama lived in nearby faculty residential zones and that the two families dined together a number of times. The sources said the Obamas even babysat the Khalidi children."
Yep, it's anonymously sourced. And remember what Klein's boss, Joseph Farah, said about claims made by anonymous sources: that they're "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better." Still, Klein does make regular use of anonymous sources -- even granting anonymity to terrorists.
Klein's article also contains the subhead "Israel a 'constant sore'" -- referring to WND's false claim that Obama made such a assertion in an interview.The article itself, meanwhile, correctly states that "Obama termed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a 'constant sore'" (while also referencing a previous desperate attempt by Klein to smear Obama by claiming he stole the term from Khalidi). By clearly asserting its willingness to repeatedly smear Obama with a false claim, WND demonstrates it clearly has no intention of reporting actual facts to its readers.
Wonkette notes that conservative bloggers such as Michelle Malkin are insisting that what TV cook Rachael Ray is wearing around her neck in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial is a Palestinian kaffiyeh scarf.
Believe it or not, this has happened before: As we noted, NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein has accused accused "Today" host Matt Lauer of expressing support for the Palestinians by wearing a black-and-white-checked scarf, and has also accused a random civilian on TV of the same.
WND vs. Real Journalists, Part 2 Topic: WorldNetDaily
Nowhere is the distinction between WorldNetDaily and real news organizations clearer when both cover the same story.
A May 22 WND article by Jerome Corsi claimed that Barack Obama purportedly has "extensive ties with extreme anti-American elements, including agents of the Moscow-controlled Communist Party USA, in Hawaii and Chicago," citing a report by "two experienced internal security investigators." One of those is Cliff Kincaid, whom Corsi calls an "investigative journalist."
We'll pause while you laugh.
Kincaid, of course, is the Accuracy in Media writer who is in the midst of a full-froth anti-Obama frenzy, making false claims and ascribing opinions made by fictional characters to Obama himself. While Corsi does note Kincaid's ties to AIM and his own little anti-United Nations group, America's Survival Inc., nowhere does he point out Kincaid's obvious partisan agenda.
(The cover of Kincaid's report rather laughably insists, presumably in a window-dressing effort to hide political advocacy behind its nonprofit tax status, that "nothing in this report shall be construed as an attempt to influence any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office or any political party." Why else would Kincaid be doing this report if he wasn't trying to influence a political campaign?)
The other "experienced internal security investigator" on the case is Herbert Romerstein, whom Corsi describes as "a former investigator with the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities." A 1999 New York Times profile, meanwhile, depicts Romerstein as something more than that: an obessed anti-communist, so much so that he informed on his high school teachers and classmates who were Communists and worked for a notorious blacklisting publication. Romerstein has been accused by the son of muckraking journalist I.F. Stone of hurling tainted and distorted evidence in portraying Stone as a Soviet spy.
Corsi treats Kincaid and Romerstein's claims as serious, uncontested fact, refusing to apply skepticism where it is necessary, nor does Corsi apply an ideologicial label either even though there is clear ideological motivation. Corsi also fails to make any apparent effort to gather any response from anyone to their charges.
For a more realistic treatment of the Washington event at which Kincaid and Romerstein released their report, we must turn to The Washington Post, where Dana Milbank wrote in a May 23 article:
These and many other implausible accusations were offered by a group of conservatives yesterday -- including a living relic from the House Committee on Un-American Activities -- in a Capitol Hill basement. The charges ranged from the absurd to the merely questionable, but anybody who watched the Swift Boat campaign of 2004 make John Kerry look like a war criminal knows that's not the point.
The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy took a blow with Hillary Clinton's collapse. But it is regrouping, and finding plenty of sinister things to say about Obama -- even if he didn't trade cattle futures.
The group, assembled by something called America's Survival Inc., gathered in the basement of Ebenezer Coffee House at Second and F streets NE. They shared the stage with a big drum set, and posters documenting items they would seek to tie to Obama: an SDS newsletter from 1969 (when he was 7), and a police killing from 1970 (when he was 8).
"We believe that any public figure with links to foreign and hostile interests should be asked to explain those associations," the organizer, Cliff Kincaid, told about two dozen conservatives and a few reporters. "In the case of Obama, a relatively new figure on the national scene, we submit the facts suggest that he would have serious difficulty getting a security clearance in the United States government. An FBI background check was once used to examine one's character, loyalty to the United States, and associations."
But the star of the show was the ancient Herbert Romerstein, who once plied his trade for the Un-American Activities committee. "We decided to start going back and seeing what things influenced him even before he was born," Romerstein announced without a trace of irony, before tying Obama to the Communist Party of the 1930s in Hawaii and Soviet spies on the island. "This is the atmosphere that young Barack Obama grew up in."
The smoking gun? Obama's "mentor" during his teens, according to Kincaid, was "a key member of a Soviet-controlled network that was sponsored by Moscow and active in Hawaii."
These accusations fall somewhere between guilt by association and guilt by invention, but the accusers were just getting started.
"It's clear that the communists and the socialists are backing him," Kincaid confirmed.
The questions continued: "The Obama-Muslim connection . . . the background of Michelle Obama . . . How he gave $23,000 to this church . . . Was it connected with Tony Rezko . . . the results from Gary, Indiana, which were so late in being released."
It was beginning to sound like a UFO convention. But the panelists took it seriously, firing questions back at the audience. "Was Barack Obama working for Bill Ayers?" Kincaid wondered aloud. Romerstein demanded: "How come for 20 years he sat in the pews and listened to a raving anti-American racist? How did he bring his two young children to this church to hear Wright rave on?"
A responsible journalist would have taken the history of political smears and the history of the accusers into account as an indicator of how serious to take said accusers' claims. Milbank did; Corsi didn't. To this, of course, we can also take into account the reporters' reputations as well. Milbank is a somewhat snarky writer; Corsi turns his personal grudges into "news" articles.
And that's the difference (well, one, anyway) between a real news organization and WND.
As we've noted, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has denied that he has an anti-Obama agenda, despite the crushingweight of evidence to the contrary (indeed, Klein's anti-Obama-article-to-anti-McCain-article ratio has just increased to 27-to-1).
If Klein really wants to demonstrate that he will attack John McCain with the fervor (and questionable sourcing) he has unleashed upon Obama, here's an assignment for him, provided he's not too afraid to take it: Interview right-wing Israelis (his kind of people) -- or any Israelis, for that matter -- to get their reaction to now-denounced McCain supporter Rev. John Hagee's claim that Adolf Hitler was a "hunter" sent by God and tasked with expediting God's will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel. Ask them what McCain's pursuit of an endorsement by someone who makes such a claim portends for U.S.-Israeli relations if McCain is elected president. Heck, Klein even might want to get his terrorist buddies to opine on Hagee's statement.
Waddaya say, Aaron -- will you do it, or are too biased (or afraid) to bother? Or is your boss too close to Hagee to ever publish criticism of him?
Finkelstein Confuses McCain Talking Points With Facts Topic: NewsBusters
In a May 22 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein continued the MRC's hypersensitivity to any reference, real or imagined, to John McCain's age by asserting that "Barack Obama has delighted in playing the age card—see 'lost his bearings,' 'wander around,' and multiplementions of McCain's 'half-century of service.'"
Finkelstein has no factual evidence to support this. If Finkelstein had put in a half-century of service to something, wouldn't he want to be honored for it? The claim that Obama's "losing his bearings" comment was a reference to McCain's age comes from ... McCain's campaign. And the notion that "wander around" is also a McCain age reference comes from ... Finkelstein's own fevered brain.
WND Still Whitewashing Calif. Homeschooling Case Topic: WorldNetDaily
A May 20 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh continues to disingenously report on the court case involving a California family ordered to stop homeschooling its children.
Strangely, Unruh is now refusing to name the family at the center of the case, even though he has done so in previous articles. He writes: "Since the case originated with a juvenile court proceeding, some of the arguments and briefs have remained confidential, because of the standard for handling juvenile proceedings. Other briefs have been released publicly."
But Unruh doesn't report why the case originated in a "juvenile court" in the first place: As we reported, one of those documents "released publicly" details that the father was accused of abusing their children, and the state dependency court ruled there was evidence that was in fact happening. Further, the court detailed the poor education the parents were providing to their children.
This is information Unruh has either whitewashed or failed to report at all to his readers. Indeed, Unruh goes on to write: "The original opinion arose from a dependency case brought in juvenile court. In the process, attorneys assigned by the court to the family's two younger children sought a court order for them to be enrolled in a public or qualifying private school" -- without noting that the court has detailed the "lousy," "meager," and "bad" quality of the education the parents were providing to their children.
The same misleading, incompletely reported claims also appear in an unbylined May 22 WND article.
Unruh and WND are still manipulating this story, hiding important facts from its readers in order to portray an accused child abuser as a martyr for the cause of homeschooling.
CNS Plays Gotcha With Hispanic Lawmakers Topic: CNSNews.com
A May 22 CNSNews.com article by Peggy Starr plays gotcha with a trio of Democratic Hispanic lawmakers "who spoke Wednesday about alleged anti-immigrant coverage by conservative media outlets," describing them as "not aware of a recent State Department travel alert warning Americans about military-like 'combat' along the southern U.S. border in Mexico, where Americans are being kidnapped and murdered."
Starr does not explain the relevance of border violence to the issue of coverage of immigration in the media. Further, buried in the article are statements from all three members of Congress questioned -- Reps. Robert Menendez, Luis Guiterrez and Hilda Solis -- that make it clear that, contrary to what the lead of her article suggests, they are all aware of the problem of border violence.
It appears that Starr's article is nothing more than a "gotcha" exercise -- as we've detailed, CNS is doing more such articles targeting Democratic lawmakers in order to catch them off guard in the hope of gathering an incriminating quote to use against them.
Meanwhile, Starr does little regarding the actual report on "alleged anti-immigrant coverage by conservative media outlets" that prompted this little gotcha exercise beyond a paragraph at the end summarizing it. (Disclosure: the report was issued by an affiliate of Media Matters, our employer.)
MRC: Linking Parsley to McCain Is 'Left-Wing Attack' Topic: NewsBusters
A May 22 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock declared in its headline that an ABC News story on controversial attacks on Islam by Rev. Ron Parsley -- who has endorsed John McCain and who McCain calls a spiritual adviser -- is a "left-wing attack." The article continued:
"Good Morning America" on Thursday picked up an attack on John McCain that has grown popular in left-wing media outlets and turned it into a Brian Ross investigation of the senator's "pastor problem."
While Whitlock conceded that McCain "sought the reverend's support in February 2008," he insisted that "McCain is not a member of Parsley's World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio." Whitlock then invoked the MRC's standard equivocation defense on issues regarding Parsley and that other controversial McCain endorser, John Hagee: "McCain's associations with Parsley are rather slight, despite the misleading 'McCain's pastor' headline. However, [Barack] Obama went to [Jeremiah] Wright's church for 20 years." Whitlock went on to attack ABC reporter Brian Ross (boldface his):
Ross also slammed McCain for being "apparently unconcerned about what Parsley stands for." In contrast, during the March segment, although Ross featured Wright's more extreme statements, he wasn't as harsh on the Democratic candidate. Instead, he rather weakly observed, "With a powerful voice and his strong words, Reverend Wright can be a mesmerizing presence."
So, if linking Parsley to McCain is a "left-wing attack," doesn't that make attempts to tie Wright to Obama a "right-wing attack"?
P.S. As of this writing, no NewsBusters writer has seen fit to mention the current state of (lack of) relations between McCain and Rev. John Hagee. Apparently, they consider that a "left-wing attack" too.
-- A May 19 article by Chelsea Schilling declared: "Nationwide outrage against public school participation in the 'gay'-friendly 2008 Day of Silence resulted in hundreds of students boycotting the observance and some administrators canceling pro-homosexual activities." Schilling offered no objective evidence, other than the personal opinion of anti-gay activist Linda Harvey, that the "Day of Silence" is "pro-homosexual."
-- Apparently taking its cue from Warner Todd Huston's anti-gay rant, a May 21 article reported on a South Carolina high school principal's plan to resign "following a demand to launch a student club to promote homosexuality." Again, no objective evidence is offered beyond personal opinions that the Gay-Straight Alliance Club "promote[s] homosexuality."
WND has reported extensively on the nationwide campaign by homosexual clubs to inject homosexuality into public schools.
Such clubs typically are cited as the sponsors of the annual "Day of Silence" promotional event for homosexuality.
Knight Backtracks A Bit on Decemberists, Then Launches New Attack Topic: CNSNews.com
Robert Knight has retooled his use of the Decemberists to attack Barack Obama.
Knight rewrote his earlier NewsBusters post -- in which he, demonstrating his lack of knowledge about the band, essentially claimed that a 70,000-plus crowd in Portland came to see the Decemberists (a band with a relatively small following, even in Portland) and not Obama -- for a May 22 CNSNews.com column. Knight backed off that uninformed insinuation, conceding that "it is safe to assume that most people came out for the Obama rally."
But this time, he leads off with the claim, lifted from Wikipedia, that the band "often opens its own shows with the National Anthem of the now-defunct Soviet Union."
Knight never answers the obvious question: "So what?" Nor does he explain why this should be considered more offensive than, say, John McCain endorser John Hagee proclaiming that Hitler was a "hunter" who was tasked with expediting God's will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.
Former Democratic President Bill Clinton also traveled to Israel for a historic celebration. But, being always a petty, point-scoring opportunist, Clinton exited the main door of Air Force One to greet Israeli leaders in front of news cameras while requiring Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to exit by a rear door.
The liberal mainstream media depicted Gingrich as reacting petulantly to Clinton’s action. But the real victim of Clinton’s childish political act was not Gingrich but Israel.
The safety of the Jewish state depends on America’s unwavering bipartisan support.
By forcing America’s highest ranking Republican to the back of the bus, Bill Clinton signaled that he put an egotistical adolescent gesture of American politics above a life-or-death symbolic reaffirmation of unified American support for Israel.
This Clinton insult to ally Israel was shameful.
1) The "historic celebration" in question was the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Why does Ponte think this was a "celebration"?
2) Gingrich was depicted as "reacting petulantly" because he did, in fact, act petulant. Gingrich cited the incident as a reason he and the then-Republican-controlled Congress sent Clinton a continuing resolution they knew he would not sign, thus forcing a partial government shutdown. Further, as Clinton officials pointed out at the time, Gingrich was allowed to take his wife on the trip, while other officials' wives were bumped because there was no room on the plane, hardly the sign of an "insult."
3) Since when is Gingrich -- or, more to the point, Gingrich's ego -- synonymous with the state of Israel?