A July 23 CNSNews.com article by Kevin Mooney pushes the corporate Media Research Center tunnel vision that the only possible reason that coverage of the Iraq war has declined is because they don't want to report that the surge was a success.
The number of reporters embedded with U.S. forces in Iraq declined dramatically after the surge in U.S. troop strength went full force last year and violence in the country, including U.S. casualties, started to decline.
As a consequence, there have been fewer reporters in the field with U.S. troops in Iraq this year to report on the successes those troops have achieved.
But Mooney mentioned none of the reasons offered by media analysts why Iraq war coverage has declined -- tight newsroom budgets, a focus on other news like the presidential election -- thus forwarding the baseless suggestion that the reason "there have been fewer reporters in the field with U.S. troops in Iraq" was to avoid reporting "the successes those troops have achieved." That baseless suggestion is reinforced by the article's headline: "As Surge in Iraq Succeeded, Embedded Reporters Receded."
If the MRC can't come up with actual evidence to back up this claim, they should stop inferring it.
UPDATE: A July 23 NewsBusters post by Craig Bannister repeats Mooney's claims, baseless suggestion and all. Bannister, by the way, is CNS' communications director; his NewsBusters bio is curiously empty.
WorldNetDaily's stealth pro-McCain agenda is a little less stealth: A July 22 article is little more than a regurgitation of the McCain campign's assertion that the media is, as WND's headline asserts, "twitterpated" over Barack Obama. The article even embeds a McCain campaign video making the same point.
Unsurprisingly, the article makes no mention of any evidence contrary to McCain's talking point -- specifically, CBS' splicing of an interview with McCain to remove a false statement McCain had made.
Hirsen Misleads About Polanski Film Topic: Newsmax
A July 21 Newsmax article by James Hirsen claims that a new documentary about director Roman Polanski and the circumstances surrounding his conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl "attempts to minimize his crime as well as demonize Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, who presided over the case, and has since passed away and is unable to answer charges put forth in the film."
In fact, movie critics generally don't believe the former is true at all. For instance:
"The movie never denies or excuses the facts of the case. Zenovich includes lengthy excerpts from depositions, describing how Polanski gave champagne and Quaaludes to a 13-year-old girl before having sex with her." -- Noel Murray, Onion AV Club
"Filmmaker Marina Zenovich combines court transcripts, expertly chosen archival footage (including key scenes from Polanski’s work) and revelatory interviews with the victim, ADA and defense attorney that persuasively demonstrate Polanski was guilty as sin, yet his conviction was still a miscarriage of justice." -- Geoff Berkshire, Metromix
"What’s clear is that Polanski and Samantha (Gailey) Geimer did indeed engage in physical contact, forced or otherwise. ... Roman Polanski deserves his badge of dishonor, no question about it. This amazing documentary argues that others need to start sporting one as well." -- Bill Gibron, PopMatters
"Mr. Polanski’s guilt isn’t in doubt, arguments about the age of consent notwithstanding." -- Manohla Dargis, New York Times
As far as Hirsen's latter claim -- that the film "demonize[s]" the judge in the case -- that's where the minimizing is taking place. Hirsen makes no mention, let alone a defense, of what caused Judge Rittenbrand to be shown as "demonized" in the film. As Murray wrote, "the judge on the case had proven to be a showboat when TV cameras were around, and neither the defense team nor the prosecutors were sure that he'd hand down a sentence in accord with what they'd negotiated." Gibron added: "It is clear that the judge wanted nothing more than to maintain a certain reputation with the press. He felt pressure to make sure Polanksi merely didn’t 'walk'. Of course, this meant violating every code of judicial ethics that there were by manipulating lawyers into doing what he wanted and reneging on deals that were sealed behind closed courthouse doors."
Without telling the whole story, Hirsen's complaint that "It’s hard to have sympathy for someone who would commit the alleged offenses and then jump bail" apepars more than a little disingenuous.
Another Narrow MRC 'Study' Topic: Media Research Center
A July 21 Media Research Center "Media Reality Check" by Rich Noyes asserts: "A new study by the Media Research Center finds that network evening news coverage of Iraq has fallen 65 percent in the past twelve months — a mere 429 stories so far this year, compared to 1,227 on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows during the first six and a half months of 2007." But like previous MRC "studies" on Iraq war coverage, it's too narrowly focused and based on assumptions it doesn't support.
Noyes asserts that "as the troop surge has dramatically succeeded, the Big Three broadcast networks have shown little interest in documenting how the U.S. military is saving Iraq and achieving a signal victory in the war against terrorism." This baselessly suggests that the only reason media coverage of Iraq decreased was because "the troop surge has dramatically succeeded." In fact, as we've documented, there are numerous other reasons for the decrease in coverage -- tight newsroom budgets, a focus on the election -- that Noyes does not mention.
The MRC once again frames its study narrowly, focusing only on the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC and ignoring cable news coverage. As we've also noted, most similar MRC studies do the same thing in an apparent attempt to shield Fox News from scrutiny -- indeed, as the Pew Research Center has detailed, Fox News in 2007 "spent less time on the war in Iraq" than CNN and MSNBC, and it was "more oriented to crime, celebrity and the media than its rivals."
WND Doesn't Disclose Ties to Savage Topic: WorldNetDaily
A July 22 WorldNetDaily article featured Michael Savage's spin of his assault on those with autism: that "In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out." WND repeated without challenge that "his assertion autism is a 'fraud' and 'a racket' was 'meant to boldly awaken parents and children to the medical community's attempt to label too many children or adults as "autistic"'" -- neither Savage nor WND offer any evidence that this is the case -- as well as his claim that he was "attack[ing] falsely diagnosed cases, the misdiagnosed and the outright fraud artists through a bold parody, and Media Matters rips the parody out of context, stirs up the autism community against me, and here we are!"
While WND noted that Savaged issued "statement on his website" regarding the controversy, it did not disclose -- as first reported here -- that WND hosts Savage's website, nor was it disclosed that WND published two of Savage's books. WND has a longhistory of failing to disclose the business and personal interests it has in the subjects of its news articles.
P.S. Speaking of our employer, we have an item up over there featuring WND's quote of Savage likening Media Matters to HIV.
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch (Plus, Obama Death Threats At WND) Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein's 44th anti-Obama article versus just one anti-McCain article) obsesses over the alleged replacement of an American flag on Barack Obama's campaign plane with the Obama logo. Klein offers no evidence to support his suggestion that this is a big deal.
Meanwhile, the WND poll of the day asks, "What do you think of Obama's removal of the American flag from his aircraft?" The lead answer as of this writing, with 45 percent of the vote, is: "Obama is an anti-American fraud, and this is the proof." Here are some choice comments on the poll thread:
"Obama is a Judas like. leader. ... America as a Nation is too far gone and God is about to turn us over to Obama and those who will lead the nation into perdition. The time is short keep warning others and look for the rapture."
"Well, it seems one more time our so-called change oriented candidate has done exactly that, change. He nor his wife, who I would hate to have as First Lady is AMERICAN. They are here to destroy America and everything it stands for. He no longer bears allegiance to this country, but instead to the Islamic States of the Mideast. He hates the Constitution and will destroy it if, god forbid, he becomes president. The terrorist do not have to take over the country it will happen from within. Obama is the within. He will raise taxes to help HIS people not the American people. He does not care about AMERICANS."
"I don't believe we should be suprised at all that Obama is not flying the Flag anymore. The people of this country, if they elect Obama, will be getting what they ask for."
"I have to agree with all of the anti Obama sentiment posted here today and with the Born Again Christian perspective. I was planning a long post. But no need to. Obama does not have the best interest of the United States in his heart or plans. Obama is a globalist need I say a One World proponent. He has more love and regard for The Interationalle Anthem (Communist Socialist Workers) then he has for The Star Spangled Banner for which he has none. "
"Obama's removal of the flag from his lapel and now from his plane shows clearly that if elected President he will not be able to swear allegiance to this country and its Constitution. He is without a doubt unfit for any office in this country."
"Alibama's logo is representative of the new age, the 'change' he has been vomiting forth. The new world order is reflective of that insipid circle emblem. The US flag is reflective the old order for these marxist puppets."
"Simple logic should tell us that Obama is making every effort to pacify the Muslims of whom he is one. It is strongly suspected that middle eastern muslims have poured millions into his campaign."
"Obama's promise of "hope and change" can only be compared to the mantra used by Hitler. It's also the same sales pitch Obama used when campaigning for his murdering Muslim cousin Raila Odingo in Kenya. And the ONLY people in this country that would benefit from his becoming President are the same kind of people that benefited from Hitler's rise to power and would have benefited if Odingo had been able to conquer Kenya. That is NOT better, it's beyond disgusting."
"This Guy is a racist joke, Him, his wife and friends all haste the USA. Why is he running. It makes me sick that people would consider him for janitor. He is a disservice to all black Americans!!!"
"Quite frankly, anyone who votes for Obama will likely join him in the lake of fire."
"Certainly, the absences of the American Flag indicates Obama's desire to bring about America's decline and his desire to make a one world government."
"The grand 'O' is just a brush stroke away from the hammer & sickle - which is what Barack Obama is really all about anyway."
"Perhaps it's because I'm just finishing a re-reading of the "Left Behind" series, but the description of Sen. Obama's plane truly reminds me of the description of the plane used by the AntiChrist in the series."
"I wonder if some Islamic group has paid his campaign a huge amount of money for him to remove the American flag from his plane. Whoever is in charge of his security detail must have the easiest job in the world. I can't imagine any Muslim extremist who would even think of harming B. Hussein. Osama bin Laden probably has a picture of B. Hussein on the wall of his cave. We need to pray for our country. I believe the Antichrist may be an election away."
"You left out arrogant, conceited and reprobate in your colorful words to describe B. HUSSEIN Obama. I would rather have an hour in the boxing ring with him than a debate."
The thread also includes a couple of death threats against Obama that WND is apparently not bothered enough by to remove:
"Well the OsamaBama logo looks a lot like a stylized target. Hopefully someone will interpret it as one soon."
"I say if the plane does not have a countries identification marking on it, consider it a terriorest aircraft and have a f-16 shoot that sucker down. If we let this slid, the terriorests will have a upper handd, so we cannot tell who is flying that plane, and it should be shot down before it reaches the U.S, coast line."
Does Joseph Farah and the rest of WND endorse these death threats on its website? Do they understand that WND's vehemently anti-Obama reporting policy helps to incite such death threats? Will they ever denounce such threats?
Newsmax Falsely Claims NYT Censored McCain Topic: Newsmax
A July 21 Newsmax article by Jim Meyers about the controversy between John McCain and the New York Times over an opinion piece by McCain carries the false headline: "NY Times Censors McCain Op-Ed."
Even Meyers didn't make that claim; he correctly notes that "The Times’ Op-Ed page editor David Shipley explained that he spurned the McCain piece largely because he wanted to hear more detail on the Republican candidate’s plan for Iraq." But Meyers didn't note -- as did an Associated Press article published by Newsmax a little more than an hour after posting Meyers' article -- that the Times also said in a statement: "It is standard procedure on our op-ed page, and that of other newspapers, to go back and forth with an author on his or her submission. We look forward to publishing Sen. McCain's views in our paper just as we have in the past."
The AP article also noted that "The newspaper said it has published at least seven of McCain's op-ed pieces since 1996"; Meyers made no mention of that.
CNS' Jones Keeps Up Pro-Republican Bias Topic: CNSNews.com
Susan Jones keeps up her pro-Republican bias in a July 21 article that uncritically repeats Republicans' claims about oil drilling in Alaska without rebuttal from Democrats.
As we previously noted, a July 11 article by Jones not only uncritically repeated Republican claims, she twice interrupted a section on Democrats' stands on energy to insert parenthetical claims about what "critics" say about those stands.
Klein Depends on the Stupidity of Terrorists Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a July 16 Q-and-A with the Jerusalem Post, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein outlines why he thinks he can continue to get away with using the words of the terrorists he interviews against them -- they're desperate for publicity and too stupid to figure out what he's doing:
How is it they're willing to talk to you if what you're doing is exposing them? Aren't you killing their lobby, in effect?
Maybe that's the way you see it, but they think I'm doing them a favor - and perhaps I am - by giving them a platform from which to explain themselves. I don't analyze what they say; I quote them, and they are very thankful for this.
You say that you might be doing them a favor. In what way? By getting their message out to like-minded brethren?
I don't think that I'm doing them any favor. I'm saying that they want to get their ideology out there, and so maybe they believe that the best way to do it is to have an open microphone.
So, basically, Klein is counting on terrorists being too stupid to figure out what he's doing. Case in point: Klein and John Batchelor's use of a (possibly unwitting) Hamas spokesman to link Barack Obama to a Hamas "endrosement." Klein has never publicly discussed why a Hamas spokesman would 1) talk to American right-wingers who despise Hamas and 2) endorse Obama before a pair of anti-Obama activists who would promote that endorsement as an attack on Obama.
Klein also paints himself as something of an anointed one who must educate people about terrorists:
From my perspective, what I'm doing is trying to educate people on what the war on terrorism is really about. We often embolden terrorists without even realizing it, through policies of evacuation, withdrawal, dialogue and negotiations. The terrorists are very open about the fact that if you evacuate territory, they are going to use that territory to stage further attacks toward your annihilation.
Klein also continues to demonstrate that he has never considered the possibility that he's being spun by the terrorists. After all, as we've previously noted, Osama bin Laden's so-called endorsement of John Kerry in 2004 was actually designed to keep Bush in office. It may even be that the terrorists are using Klein, and the animosity they can count on from him, for their own purposes.
Klein, of course, continues to paint himself as a daring reporter for chatting up terrorists:
Are you not afraid that these terrorists you interview will kidnap or kill you?
I understand that there's danger in what I'm doing. At the same time, if you look at the kidnappings of journalists in the Palestinian areas, you'll note that they were carried out by masked gunmen - not by a particular terrorist interviewed by a reporter. Believe it or not, when you go in, they protect you.
There's a lot more going on here than what Klein has made public -- for instance, how does Klein's willingness to give terrorists anonymity factor in this little game he's playing?
Klein seems content to play this game -- gaining the confidence of terrorists (that's the only reason to give a terrorist anonymity, right?) yet slagging them at every opportunity when they're not watching. It's a game that can last for only so long.
A July 21 Agence France Presse article, reprinted by Newsmax, stated: "German weekly Der Spiegel said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki backed Obama's withdrawal timetable, but Baghdad has denied the report."
In fact, as we've noted, while an Iraqi spokesman did claim that Maliki's comments were "misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately," that came after Bush administration officials called Maliki's office to complain about Maliki's statement. The New York Times has since verified Der Spiegel's account and the pressure put on Maliki's government by the U.S. to walk back Maliki's comments. And now, the Iraqi official who "denied" Maliki's claim is backing away from that and essentially confirming Maliki's original statement.
Exclusive: WND Now Hosting Michael Savage's Website Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a move as yet unannounced by either WorldNetDaily or radio host Michael Savage, the website michaelsavage.com, now automatically redirects to a subdomain owned by WorldNetDaily, michaelsavage.wnd.com. The wnd.com domain is owned by WND and directs to WND's front page.
The design of Savage's website appears not to have changed with the move.
Savage's radio show is syndicated by Talk Radio Network. As we've detailed, WND has had a synergystic relationship with TRN over the years, promoting its hosts such as Rusty Humphries and Bob Just, as well as publishing Savage's first two books. WND's Oregon offices are located near the headquarters of the Foundation of Human Understanding, a organization (accused of cult-like tendencies) founded by Roy Masters; Masters' son is head of TRN, and Masters himself still does a TRN-syndicated show.
Does WND's takeover of Savage's website portend a larger WND-TRN merger, akin to Salem Communications' purchase of Townhall.com and its subsequent use of the site to promote Salem radio hosts alongside Townhall's regurgitating of columns by conservative writers? We shall see. We'd ask whether TRN wants to be associated with a website with such loose journalistic standards as WND, but then, TRN syndicates Savage, who thinks autism is "a fraud" and merely the result of "a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."
Scruples-free WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah uses his July 21 column to expand on his lie that Barack Obama has a secret plan to create his own SS, this time referencing "Barack Obama's secret $439 billion plan for a mysterious initiative called the 'civilian national security force.'" The dollar figure comes from Farah's assumption that Obama's statement that "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" means that it would receive exactly the same funding as the Department of Defense. Farah seems to have decided that as long as he was making stuff up about Obama, he might as well go all the way.
Farah goes on to claim, "We don't know any more about this plan than we did when Obama announced it July 2 in a speech," going on to claim that it's "some kind of domestic Big Brother program as the chilling words first suggested to me."
Farah still appears to have done no actual research into what Obama said. As we pointed out when Farah first started spreading this lie, a July 8 interview with Military Times details that Obama was talking about "the way the State Department is structured and [Agency for International Development] and all these various agencies." Farah makes no reference to the Military Times interview; while he notes that "a few have suggested" Obama was talking about "a greatly increased commitment to the Foreign Service," Farah quickly dismisses it in order to launch into his conspiracy theory.
Among the alleged "questions raised by this nebulous proposal," Farah writes: "Why do Obama campaign officials not respond to WND's repeated requests for more information about his initiative?" Um, because WND has a history of tellinglies about Obama and smearinghim at every opportunity while John McCain receives relatively benign treatement? Why would Obama want to cooperate with a news organization that sells "NObama" bumper stickers?
Obama's campaign knows that Farah and WND will not treat him fairly. And Farah's willingness to lie about Obama confirms that all the more.
Aaron Klein's 42nd anti-Obama article (versus just one anti-McCain article) tries once again to link Obama to terrorists. The July 20 article claims that "Members of the most active West Bank terror organization are set to serve in security forces being deployed to protect Sen. Barack Obama during his trip to the West Bank." Klein's source: Members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who were "speaking to WND on condition of anonymity."
That's right -- Klein is so cozy with terrorists that he protects their identities. Klein has done this before.
UPDATE: Klein's 43rd anti-Obama article is another piece lifted from right-wing bloggers -- in this case, conservative attacks on Obama's 2001 statement that the 9/11 attacks were motivated in part by "a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers." Klein does not identify any of Obama's critics as conservatives.
Klein also writes: "Obama's piece gained little notice outside the Hyde Park Herald, which covered Obama's district as a Chicago state senator. The Hyde Park area is heavily influenced by the Nation of Islam." Klein offers no evidence to back up this claim -- and he also seems to think that Chicago is a state.
NewsBusters Misleads on Maliki Comments Topic: NewsBusters
A July 20 NewsBusters post by Dave Pierre claims that a Los Angeles Times article stating that Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki has endorsed Barack Obama's 16-month timetable for removing U.S. combat troops from Iraq is "dishonest." Why? Because "the Times makes no mention of the fact that a spokesman for the prime minister immediately disputed the story and said comments from Nouri Maliki in a controversial interview in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine 'were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately.'"
We'll take that as a sign that we can call Pierre dishonest in his criticism. Why? Because Pierre didn't mention that -- according to the Washington Post in an article posted two hours before Pierre's -- the spokesman's comments followed a call to the prime minister's office from U.S. government officials in Iraq. Further, the spokesman did not say what specific comments were "misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately." In other words, it appears that the "dispute" is actually Bush administration damage control.
Further, according to the New York Times (h/t Talking Points Memo), the interpreter forthe article was Maliki's, not Der Spiegel's, and Der Spiegel provided the Times with a tape recording of the interview, which was then independently translated and confirmed the accuracy of the original Der Spiegel account. The Times also details the White House's pressure on the Iraqi government to walk back Maliki's comments.
Will Pierre (or anyone else at NewsBusters) tell readers about all of this? Somehow we doubt it.
If Joseph Farah was capable of a sense of shame, he would apologize.
In a July 15 WorldNetDaily column, Farah sounded the alarm bells about a statement Barack Obama made in a July 2 speech -- "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." Farah went into freak-out mode:
Now, since I've never heard anyone inside or out of government use the phrase "civilian national security force" before, I was more than a little curious about what he has in mind.
If we're going to create some kind of national police force as big, powerful and well-funded as our combined U.S. military forces, isn't this rather a big deal?
I thought Democrats generally believed the U.S. spent too much on the military. How is it possible their candidate is seeking to create some kind of massive but secret national police force that will be even bigger than the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force put together?
Now, maybe he was misquoted by the Congressional Quarterly and the Chicago Tribune. I guess it's possible. If so, you would think he would want to set the record straight. Maybe he misspoke. That has certainly happened before. Again, why wouldn't the rest of my colleagues show some curiosity about such a major and, frankly, bone-chilling proposition?
Are we talking about creating a police state here?
Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic security force bigger and more expensive than that?
If not, why did he say it? What did he mean?
So far, despite our attempts to find out, the Obama campaign is not talking.
Who will Obama appoint to administer this new "civilian national security force"? Where will the money come from? Where in the Constitution does he see justification for the federal government creating such a domestic army?
The questions are endless.
Farah clearly didn't look very hard to find an answer, or he's lying about what Obama said. From a July 8 Military Times Q-and-A (h/t Sadly, No!):
I should add, by the way, that part of the change that I want when it comes to Army and Marine structures is the mix of training that we’re providing and mix of personnel that are in these forces. One of the things I have been so impressed with is the heroic job that our men and women in uniform have done basically on the fly having to train themselves on the spot to function as engineers or function as social workers or function as translators or political consultants. There’s just been a whole bunch of work that has been done that we haven’t prepared people for. They learn on the job, but if anything Iraq should have given us a template for the kinds of skill sets that we’re going to have to provide to our military. And that’s true in Iraq. That’s true in Afghanistan. That also means, by the way, that we’re going to have to, I believe, reconfigure our civilian national security force. In a way that just hasn’t been done.
I mean, we still have a national security apparatus on the civilian side in the way the State Department is structured and [Agency for International Development] and all these various agencies. That hearkens back to the Cold War. And we need that wing of our national security apparatus to carry its weight. When we talk about reinventing our military, we should reinvent that apparatus as well. We need to be able to deploy teams that combine agricultural specialists and engineers and linguists and cultural specialists who are prepared to go into some of the most dangerous areas alongside our military.
Q: WHAT SECRETARY GATES HAS CALLED SOFT POWER.
A: Absolutely, but the only problem with soft power is the term itself makes people think it’s not as strong as hard power. And my point is that if we’ve got a State Department or personnel that have been trained just to be behind walls, and they have not been equipped to get out there alongside our military and engage, then we don’t have the kind of national security apparatus that is needed. That has to be planned for; it has to be paid for. Those personnel have to be trained. And they all have to be integrated and that is something that we have not accomplished yet, but that’s going to be what’s increasingly important in our future to make sure that our military has the support that it needs to do what it does the best, which is fight wars.
Given that this Q-and-A was posted a full week before Farah wrote his false accusations, it would seem that Farah is either incompetent or lazy.
Will Farah tell his readers the truth behind Obama's statements, or is Farah too committed to the lie to ever be honest with his readers and retract his baseless speculation? We suspect, sadly, that the latter is true. After all, WND has already demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that it will spreadlies about Obama, so what's one more on the pile of deceit?
As we said, if Farah was capable of a sense of shame, he would apologize. But he's not, so he won't. Perhaps another libel lawsuit that puts him on the losing side might get his attention.