MRC Attack on Pelosi Countered by the Truth Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center tried to gin up some controversy last week by making a big deal out of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's statement that Iranians "decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities."
A June 2 MRC press release called the statement a "vicious slander." further quoting MRC chief Brent Bozell as saying, "The Speaker of the House of Representatives slanders our troops in Iraq, whose blood, toil and tremendous sacrifice have led to the great and growing success we have seen there, and the liberal media are silent." A June 2 NewsBusters post by Seton Motley (a version of which was posted at Human Events) insisted that Pelosi engaged in "a clear and willful defamation of our soldiers in Iraq, and a diminution of the great and growing success we have seen there, paid for with their blood, toil and tremendous sacrifice."
But there's one thing Motley and the MRC failed to mention in all their histrionics: What Pelosi said was true.
As Media Matters detailed, major media outlets like CNN, the Washington Post and USA Today reported a couple months back that Iran did, in fact, help broker a cease-fire agreement Sunday between Iraq's government and radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. We don't recall anyone at the MRC complaining about it at the time.
Meanwhile, Motley went on to reference Rush Limbaugh "phony soldiers" comment, claiming that the media was "twisting and contorting the specificity of Limbaugh’s comment into a bogus broad-based slur of any American combatant opposed to the war." That's not exactly true; Limbaugh himself has offered inconsistent explanations for his statement, and in context it can indeed be interpreted as applying to "any American combatant opposed to the war."
The funny thing, of course, is that Motley is complaining about Limbaugh being out of context and "contorted by the media into journalistic libel" when he and the MRC are doing the exact same thing to Pelosi.
Their smear of Pelosi appears to have fizzled -- that's what happens when one is faced with the truth.
A June 5 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh reinforces WND's anti-gay agenda by continuing to distort facts regarding the case of anti-gay activist David Parker. The article uncritically repeats claims by Parker and the anti-gay group acting on his behalf, MassResistance, in demanding that that any reference to homosexuality, including the fact that homosexuals exist, must have an opt-out provision. Unruh quotes only Parker and a legal brief fild by MassResistance; no one is permitted to respond to their claims.
For instance, Unruh uncritically repeats MassResistance's assertion that Parker "told the principal and the city's director of education that he would not leave until the school agreed to negotiate some agreement on the matter [of 'teaching homosexual issues to his son in kindergarten without parental consent']. Rather than negotiate, the officials had Parker arrested and brought to jail, where he spent the night. The next morning he was led into Concord District court in handcuffs," without mentioning that Parker spent the night in jail only because he refused to bail himself out. Nor does Unruh bother to state that the example of "teaching homosexual issues" that was at issue was a book that included gay couples among different types of families -- a book that made no endorsement of gay couples but, rather, simply noted that they exist.
Unruh also baselessly asserts that a judge in the case "had ordered that school officials' work to undermine Christian beliefs is needed to prepare children for citizenship." That's a gross distortion; the judge merely disimissed Parker's lawsuit claiming that the school system violated their constitutional rights by teaching his child that homosexuals exist.
Will Newsmax, WND Tell Full Story of Baseless Obama Rumors? Topic: Newsmax
Both Newsmax and WorldNetDaily have reported on rumors of the purported existence of a video of Michelle Obama using a, in WND's words, "derogatory term for white people ... and went further to criticize a reporter for even asking about it." Newsmax cited GOP prankster Roger Stone, while WND cites a report from Politico blogger Ben Smith on the rumors (but doesn't mention Smith's statement that there's "zero credible evidence" to support the rumor).
Indeed, not only is there "zero credible evidence," Talking Points Memo Election Central notes (citing the conservative National Review) that the rumors may, in fact, be based on a novel about a black presidential candidate.
Will Newsmax and WND tell their readers the full story about these baseless rumors? Don't count on it.
Now that it doesn't matter all that much, Tim Graham uses a June 7 NewsBusters post to raise questions about John McCain (now-rejected) endorser Rev. John Hagee's sincerity in retracting his anti-Catholic comments:
Hagee had made viciously anti-Catholic comments, which he retracted completely (and sort of mysteriously) in a dialogue with the Catholic League. It's mysterious that a minister could hold the classic fundamentalist view that the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon in the Book of Revelation, and then say, oops, I misspoke a little.
As we detailed, Graham and the rest of the MRC were loath to denounce Hagee in early March when his comments became public; he was more concerned about downplaying the similarities between Hagee and former Barack Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright by claiming "there’s a huge difference between someone’s selected pastor of two decades and a new endorser." He does that here too, of course, claming a difference between "Obama’s problem with Jeremiah Wright, his own minister of 20 years, with John McCain’s problem with two evangelical preachers who he sought out for an endorsement, but have never been his pastor." But doesn't the fact that McCain specifically sought out the endorsements of Hagee and Rod Parsley (whose anti-Islam rantings Graham doesn't specifically address) in fact show a problem with the kind of people McCain chooses to surround himself with and actively seeks endorsements from?
A June 7 WorldNetDaily article by Alyssa Farah engages in baseless speculation about whether a "secretive meeting" between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took place at "the secretive Bilderberg conference in Chantilly, Va." Farah attributes this speculation to no one, as one would expect a "news" article to do; instead, she lamely plays a game of guilt by association in claiming that "Hillary Clinton is no stranger to Bilderberg" because her husband has attended previous meetings and she "may have attended the 2006 meeting." Indeed, it seems Alyssa Farah is just channeling the conspiratorial leanings of her father, WND editor Joseph Farah.
WND's obsession with organizations like the Bilderberg Group -- it even sells a book claiming that it, along with other groups like the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, have a goal "to erase the sovereignty of all nation-states and supplant them with global corporate control of their economies under the surveillance of 'an electronic global police state'" -- is particularly ironic since, as we've detailed, Joseph Farah belongs to his own secret organization, the right-wing Council for National Policy.
Eyeblast: Macaca's Revenge Topic: Media Research Center
The MRC's macaca complex is even worse than we thought: they built an entire video-oriented website as a reaction.
From an article in the May edition of the Watchdog, the MRC's print newsletter sent to donors, by Eyeblast executive producer Danny Glover:
In 2006, Democrat James Webb paid less than $1,000 to have a young volunteer track Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia with a video camera. It was the best money Webb ever spent.
The volunteer was named S.R. Sidharth [sic], but he will forever be remembered as “Macaca,” the mocking nickname that Allen gave him in an unguarded moment. Sidharth captured that moment on film, the Webb campaign blasted it over the Internet, and Allen’s popularity collapsed. His once-unimaginable loss to Webb shifted control of the Senate to Democrats.
Look no further than the “Macaca” incident to understand why the Media Research Center launched Eyeblast.tv in April 2008.
Eyeblast is an online community built in part to capture the unguarded moments of liberals on film and blast them over the Internet. The liberal media won’t cover the politically correct confrontations on college campuses, and they suppress stories of liberals behaving badly. Going forward, conservatives will be able to tell the truth about those encounters on Eyeblast.
Yet another reason to doubt the MRC's previous claim that "Eyeblast does not discriminate based upon political view." That, and the headline on Glover's article: "MRC Launches Eyeblast.tv to Battle Liberal Video Presence on Internet."
No mention, of course, of the false smears of S.R. Sidarth by Dan Riehl that the MRC published on NewsBusters.
Newsmax Mag Misleads on Obama, Taxes Topic: Newsmax
A promo for the June issue of Newsmax magazine describes its lead story as an alarmist attack piece essentially predicting -- if the headline "President Obama and the Stock Market Crash" is any indication -- that electing Barack Obama will ruin the stock market. We haven't seen the actual article yet, written by conservative John Fund, but the promo distorts Obama's views on taxes.
The promo states:
Indeed, Obama makes no bones about his plans to go on a tax rampage. Not only would he increase the capital-gains tax rate from 15 percent to as much as 28 percent, he wants to allow the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts to expire in 2010, which effectively raises taxes on Americans by tens of billions of dollars.
This ignores that Obama has said he plans to cut taxes for those making $75,000 a year or less. It also ignores that 28 percent was the capital-gains tax rate throughout the 1990s, which wedon't recall was a horrible time for the economy.
The promo also states:
He also wants to do away with the $102,000 FICA payroll tax cap, which means anyone making over $102,000 would pay an additional 7 percent in taxes on earned income.
In fact, Obama has never said he would "do away" with the current FICA (Social Security) cap. He has suggested raising the current limit and has also suggested he would consider a "donut hole" that would exempt income immediately above the current $102,000 cap from Social Security taxes, then resume taxes above a higher amount, such as $200,000 or $250,000.
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein's 36th anti-Obama article (versus just one attacking John McCain) is a July 5 piece purporting to "clarify" that a Hamas official's criticism of Barack Obama's AIPAC speech "was specifically referring" only to the speech. This gives Klein an opportunity to once again reference his and John Batchelor's interview with a Hamas spokesman, Ahmed Yousef, who "endorsed" Obama. We've raised questions about the obvious partisan motivations of Batchelor and Klein and the extent to which the interview and the circumstances surrounding it were manufactured, as well as how much Yousef actively participated in forwarding Klein and Batchelor's anti-Obama agenda -- questions Klein has thus far failed to publicly address.
Curiously, Klein offers only two very brief paragraphs directly quoting Obama's AIPAC speech, and WND did no other original article on it. Why won't they report the speech in full? What are Klein and WND trying to hide?
As she exits stage left, we hear the haunting melody of Hillita’s fading farewell:
Please weep for me, Clintonistas. The truth is I never left you. Through each primary I changed my image To what the polls said You wanted from me.
Don’t gloat at me, Barackistas. The truth is you came from nowhere. When it was my next You took it from me. Why do this to me? I barely knew you.
Don’t trash-talk me, Obamistas. |The truth is I’m just one of you. I always have been. Now that you’ve ruined me, I’ll need some new perch To keep on cackling. Help rehab me, all you lefties. The truth is you owe it to me.
You mainstream newsies, It’s you who made me In your own image. Now don’t forsake me.
Say what you will, vast right-wingers. The sad truth, I still have Bubba. Or did the last time I thought I saw him. He owes me big-time, That big-mouth loser.
New Article -- Out There, Exhibit 46: Mychal Massie's Thesaurus Topic: WorldNetDaily
Why does the WorldNetDaily columnist use so many big, obscure words? Perhaps to mask his numerous false and misleading assertions -- not to mention that he's spouting claims that originated with a "white nationalist" group. Read more >>
WND Falsely Claims Klein 'Exclusive' Topic: WorldNetDaily
A June 4 WorldNetDaily press release promoting Aaron Klein's attack on Barack Obama's purported Nation of Islam ties starts by declaring:
*** BREAKING NEWS ***
EXCLUSIVE FROM AARON KLEIN
Except that it's not. As Klein himself admitted in his article, it originated from a five-month-old post by right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel (who is none too happy about it).
As we've detailed, Klein offers no evidence that the anonymous (and apparent mole) "former key Obama insider" who is making the claims Klein is parroting can be trusted -- indeed, the fact that the mole is running to right-wingers like Schlussel and Klein is evidence that he/she can't be trusted. Klein's WND boss, Joseph Farah, has said that claims made by anonymous sources are "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better."
Klein's demonstrated hatred of Obama -- which includes apparently conspiring a political hit job with right-wing radio host John Batchelor through their interview of a Hamas official who "endorsed" Obama -- coupled with his recent propensity for rummagingthrough right-wing blogs for any tidbit of anti-Obama sleaze, demonstrates that Klein can't be trusted any more than his anonymous mole source.
Schlussel: Aaron Klein Ripped Me Off! Topic: WorldNetDaily
Right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel has read Aaron Klein's WorldNetDaily article on Barack Obama's purported Nation of Islam connections -- and she's not happy, since she wrote the same thing five months ago.
In a June 4 post, Schlussel points out that Klein's article is 'almost word for word an exact replica of most of my January exclusive." Schlussel adds:
Aaron Klein is notorious for doing this, and for making up information, which he does here. The only information in his plagiarized, non-exclusive "Exclusive" not already reported in exact words and details by me back in January, is information he made up and can't source.
Klein has a habit of dishonesty and making things up. He notoriously made up a "World Net Daily Exclusive," claiming that FOX News paid $2 million dollars to Palestinian terrorists to obtain the release of its two staffers, reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig. Klein was forced to retract the entire story. It was utter fiction.
In my own dealings with Klein--who, in marketing his book and his other "work," has repeatedly identified himself as an Orthodox Jew--the dishonesty is legion. When Klein was upset that I wrote about how another one of his "WorldNetDaily Exclusives" was actually ripped off from liberal website Crooks and Liars and had already been quoted all over the internet, Klein claimed--as his plagiarizing friend, Sean Hannity, often claims--that he doesn't read blogs. A complete lie, since most of what Klein "reports" is repeated carbon copy cut-and-paste of conservative blogs like Sweetness and Light's and BizzyBlog's newsbreaking stories about Barack Obama and other topics.
But what was really notable to me was that Klein e-mailed me his protest on the Jewish Sabbath. This is a guy who not only claims to be an Orthodox Jew but has marketed himself that way and sports a big black velvet yarmulke, a sign of very religious Orthodox observance. But the key requirement to be Orthodox is to keep the Jewish Sabbath, which includes no websurfing and e-mailing or computer use from sundown Friday Night until the nightfall Saturday Night. Then, to pimp his book, he appeared on FOX News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" on an important Jewish holiday, an Orthodox no-no. This guy is a fraud. And he's not honest. I don't judge people by their level of religiosity or even their religion. But I do judge them by their level of integrity, and he ain't got none.
Interestingly, Schlussel is now backing away from the anonymous source that supplied her with her January "exclusive":
My Obama source claims that WND's Aaron Klein approached him, via e-mail, to do this story, and that the source responded in writing that the story was mine and that I already wrote it. Yet Klein ripped me off anyway (and the sleazy source helped him do it, just as he helped Obama win his U.S. Senate race, despite Obama's anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments, and remained silent until recently).
The source also said he agrees with me that Aaron Klein made up the claim that he has NoI sources and that Shakir Muhammad was a Farrakhan bodyguard.
Since they're both very dishonest, it's hard to believe either of them, frankly.
Schlussel concludes: "Hey Aaron, take that yarmulke off. It's as phony as you are."
In a June 4 Newsmax column, Ronald Kessler purports to "reveal the secret to former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s conversion to Bush basher" -- summarized in the headline as "greed" and "liberal pressure."
So, may we safely speculate that greed and conservative pressure were the reasons for Kessler's conversion from McCain basher to McCain fluffer in the span of a few short months?
MRC vs. Real Journalists on Decreased Iraq War Coverage Topic: Media Research Center
One major trope of the Media Research Center is to portray media coverage of the Iraq war as liberally biased. We've previously noted that the MRC's examinations of Iraq war coverage are overly focused on the broadcast networks (a frequent MRC target) and make a point to exclude Fox News (unless it can spin Fox's coverage as "fair and balanced").
One recent example of a flawed MRC examination is a Feb. 28 "Media Reality Check" by Rich Noyes claiming that "[w]hen U.S. casualties began to steadily decline, TV coverage of Iraq dramatically decreased" on the TV networks. That study excluded cable news coverage, uncritically repeated Bush administration talking points claiming that "the President’s surge strategy is well on its way to succeeding," and never proved that correlation equals causation (a common logical fallacy) in this instance -- that the only reason war coverage declined was because U.S. casualties did. Despite that, Brent Baker referenced the study in a June 3 MRC CyberAlert.
Meanwhile, someone without an obvious partisan axe to grind took a look at the same issue of declining news coverage of the war and, unsurprisingly, came to a dramatically different conclusion. In an article in the latest issue of the American Journalism Review, Sherry Ricchiardi actually went out and talked to newspaper and TV news officials (what a concept) and found:
Why the dramatic drop-off? Gatekeepers offer a variety of reasons, from the enormous danger for journalists on the ground in Iraq (see "Obstructed View," April/May 2007) to plunging newsroom budgets and shrinking news space. Competing megastories on the home front like the presidential primaries and the sagging economy figure into the equation. So does the exorbitant cost of keeping correspondents in Baghdad.
No one questioned the importance of a grueling war gone sour or the looming consequences for the United States and the Middle East. Instead, newsroom managers talked about the realities of life in a rapidly changing media market, including smaller newsholes and, for many, a laser-beam focus on local issues and events.
Ricchiardi found that, despite the MRC's suggestion that only Fox News is adequately covering the war, its airtime is getting cut back as well:
John Stack, Fox News Channel's vice president for newsgathering, has no qualms about allotting more airtime to the presidential campaign than to Iraq. "This is a very big story playing out on the screen every night... The time devoted to news is finite," Stack says. "It's a matter of shifting to another story of national interest."
Indeed, Fox News has devoted less airtime on the war in Iraq in recent months than rival cable networks CNN and MSNBC, according to the The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism's State of the News Media 2008 report -- another rpresumed reason the MRC doesn't want to focus too much on cable news.
The Bush administration plays a role as well, according to Ricchiardi:
Americans might care if they could witness more of the human toll. That's the approach the Washington Post's Dana Milbank took in an April 24 piece titled, "What the Family Would Let You See, the Pentagon Obstructs."
When Lt. Col. Billy Hall was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in April, his family gave the media permission to cover the ceremony — he is among the highest-ranking officers to be killed in Iraq. But, according to Milbank, the military did everything it could to keep the journalists away, isolating them some 50 yards away behind a yellow rope.
The "de facto ban on media at Arlington funerals fits neatly" with White House efforts "to sanitize the war in Iraq," and that, in turn, has helped keep the bloodshed out of the public's mind, Milbank wrote in his Washington Sketch feature.
Will the MRC address an examination of Iraq war news coverage based on facts instead of partisan speculation? Don't count on it.
UPDATE: Oops! Forgot to link to the AJR article. It's there now.
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein's 35th anti-Obama article (versus just one attacking John McCain) is a June 3 article claiming that "Barack Obama employed and continues to employ senior staffers who belong to the Nation of Islam, and the presidential candidate has some 'worrying' ties to the controversial group headed by Louis Farrakhan." Klein's only source for this claim is an anonymous "former key Obama insider" -- remember that Klein's boss, Joseph Farah, calls claims made by anonymous sources "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better."
The former insider said he quit, in part, because of Obama's ties to the Nation of Islam and the senator's positions on Israel.
He previously also talked with columnist Debbie Schlussel, who first wrote about the Nation of Islam employees on Obama's staff.
The fact that the purported "former insider" is running to right-wing sources of dubious credibility like Schlussel and WND to peddle his/her claims (anonymously, of course) suggests that he/she was nothing more than a mole out to dig up dirt on Obama. Such an obvious partisan motive makes his claims suspect, as does his anonymity.
Schlussel, by the way, has a history of making bizarre and hateful claims (including accusing a congressman who was simply trying to respond to her attacks against him of stalking her, as we detailed) and may be an even more virulent Obama-hater than Klein.
The Schlussel post from which Klein cribs his article was written way back in January -- more evidence that Klein is doing some desperate mucking around in the fever swamps of right-wing blogs to scrape up Obama sleaze, as we'venoted.
Klein, meanwhile, has shown himself as eager to embrace anyone dishing dirt on Obama -- even apparently conspiring a political hit job with right-wing radio host John Batchelor through their interview of the Hamas official who "endorsed" Obama.
Consider the source -- WND, Klein, Schlussel, and the cowardly anonymous "insider."