Los Angeles Times's Tim Rutten is at it again. In an op-ed in today's paper (Wed. 8/6/08), Rutten buttresses a new book by author Ron Suskind and asserts that "Vice President Dick Cheney and his inner circle long have insisted" that Iraq was directly connected to the September 11 attacks.
Rutten's claim is an easy one to debunk. Here's Vice President Cheney in a Meet the Press interview with Tim Russert a mere five days after the September 11 attacks:
RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation? [Sept. 11 attacks]
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.
Does it get any simpler than "No"?
Only if it were accurate. Here's Cheney just two months later on the November 14, 2001, edition of CBS's "60 Minutes II":
GLORIA BORGER (CBS News contributor): Well, you know that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers, actually met with Iraqi intelligence.
CHENEY: I know this. In Prague, in April of this year, as well as earlier. And that information has been made public. The Czechs made that public. Obviously, that's an interesting piece of information.
And here's Cheney just a month after that, on the Dec. 9, 2001, edition of "Meet the Press":
RUSSERT: Do you still believe there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?
CHENEY: Well, what we now have that's developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that's been pretty well confirmed, that he [Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.
While Pierre noted in a September 2006 post that Cheney later backed away somewhat from asserting the Atta-Prague claim was unquestionably true, that doesn't, as Pierre suggests, prove that Cheney stopped trying to link Iraq to al-Qaeda -- in fact, he kept trying, which would seem to prove Rutten right.
WND Doubles Down on Obama Birth Certificate Obsession Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily loves any good, dubiously sourced smear about Barack Obama (see Sinclair, Larry), so it's no surprise that WND has latchedonto the Obama brith certificate conspiracy.
An Aug. 7 article tries to punt that thing a little further down the road, asserting that "analysts working separately have determined the birth certificate posted on the Daily Kos website and later on Sen. Barack Obama's "Fight the Smears" campaign website is fraudulent, and now two different actions have been launched to try and obtain the truth about the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's birth." WND cites as its source the website Israel Insider, without noting its status, with its right-wing, anti-Obama agenda, as the Israeli WorldNetDaily -- which makes Israel Insider's claims as suspect as those made by the website it appears to be modeling itself after.
Not that the target WND readership appears able to make the distinction between truth and lies, mind you. The WND opt-in poll of the day asks, "What do you make of the controversy over Barack Obama's birth certificate?" The top response as of this writing: "Obama's refusal to produce his birth certificate, perhaps triggering a future constitutional crisis, is just another example of his arrogance." Sounds like the situation is ripe for WND readers to issue a few more death threats.
An Aug. 8 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh keeps up WND's anti-gay agenda by permitting only criticism of a California proposal to create a Harvey Milk Day and lying about its provisions.
Unruh asserts that "the California Legislature now is ordering school children to celebrate 'gay' lifestyle choices" and quotes right-wing activists with the Campaign for Children and Families and Capitol Resource Institute as claiming that thebill "will positively portray to children homosexual experimentation, homosexual 'marriages,' sex-change operations, and anything else that's 'in the closet' " and that "Young children will be forced to celebrate the life of a man whose claim to fame is his sexual orientation."
But nowhere does Unruh quote the actual language of the bill. As we've noted, the bill actually states that designates Harvey Milk Day "as having special significance in public school and educational institutions and encourages those entities to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date." The bill orders nothing and the word "order" doesn't even appear in the bill -- thus making Unruh a liar for claiming that it's "ordering school children to celebrate 'gay' lifestyle choices."
And while Unruh uncritically repeats a claim that Milk was "a man whose claim to fame is his sexual orientation," he offers no other information about Milk other than that he was a "San Francisco supervisor who was a homosexual activist" and repeating some CCF-supplied statements by Milk that Unruh quotes the CCF's Randy Thomasson as forwarding a "anti-religious, homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda." Nowhere is it mentioned that Milk was murdered, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, by a former fellow city supervisor, Dan White, or that Milk was the first openly gay man elected to a major political office. In other words, his sexual orientation was not his only "claim to fame."
BMI's Poor Misleads on NBC Reporting Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 7 NewsBusters post (a version of a MRC Business & Media institute item) by Jeff Poor notes an NBC report on the popularity of "big gas-guzzling, greenhouse gas-emitting automobiles made by General Motors" in China, adding:
Less than two months ago, on the June 26 broadcast of "Nightly News," anchor Brian Williams raised the possibility of the auto manufacturer going out of business. The report suggested GM and other American carmakers were unwilling to switch to smaller, more fuel efficient cars, which are in higher demand due to high gas prices.
But the link Poor supplied to back up this claim -- a June 27 BMI article -- does not claim that Williams "suggested GM and other American carmakers were unwilling to switch to smaller, more fuel efficient cars." Indeed, we can't think of anyone has made that claim. The automakers were arguably unwilling to switch when gas was cheap and they were making lots of money selling big SUVs, but Poor can't plausibly claim that anyone is asserting that automakers are unwilling to make the switch now.
The June 27 BMI article, rather, was critical of Williams "rais[ing]the possibility of General Motors (NYSE:GM) going out of business." It mentions nothing about any GM production issues that may have been raised in the NBC report. The video clips from NBC reports supplied with the article don't mention it, either.
WND Misleads on California Commie Ban Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 5 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh is a highly misleading attack on a proposed California bill to remove a ban on communists serving as school employees or renting school facilities. While Unruh claimed that "Democrats in the California Assembly have rejected two amendments that would have allowed schools to fire any employee discovered to be part of an extremist terror network and require users of school facilities to affirm they are not terrorists," he failed to note that the bill still permits the dismissal of any employee who "advocates or is knowingly a member of an organization which during the time of his or her membership he or she knows advocates overthrow of the government of the United States or of any state by force or violence," let alone why that ban is insuffient for the bill opponents it quotes, from the right-wing Capital Resource Institute.
By contrast, a May 16 Sacramento Bee article offered important information regarding the bill that Unruh doesn't, such as that California is the only state that allows public employees to be dismissed for membership in a political party and that there's little evidence that communists have much interest, let alone capability, to overthrow the U.S. government.
Similarly, an Aug. 6 WND article on the bill asserts that it means "Activist communists ... soon will have unfettered rights to California's public schools and facilities" without noting that the bill permits the firing of employees who support the overthrow of the U.S. government.
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch Topic: Media Research Center
An Aug. 7 appearance by the MRC's Rich Noyes on "Fox & Friends" follows the template: Noyes appeared solo, and neither he nor the MRC are identified as conservative.
An Aug. 7 CNSNews.com article by Pete Winn about Barack Obama purportedly "coming out in full support of same-sex marriage" features criticism from "Conservative and pro-traditional marriage groups," including the professional gay-basher Matt Barber. By contrast, an Aug. 6 article by Allison Aldrich featuring "well-known black conservative author and activist Star Parker" asserting that "Americans should question Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) commitment to Christianity based on his 'disregard' for unborn life" includes no response from Obama's campaign or an Obama supporter.
This continues CNS' recent trend of lack of balance in articles that begin with an attack on Obama.
AIM Frets Over WashTimes Cutbacks Topic: Accuracy in Media
Citing a report that the Washington Times is outsourcing its printing operations, Don Irvine writes in an Aug. 7 Accuracy in Media blog post that the paper is "showing signs of financial trouble," adding, "Combine this with the elimination of the Saturday edition earlier this year and it makes me wonder how deep the financial problems are at the paper and how long they will continue to publish."
Irvine falsely suggests that the WashTimes is subject to the same financial model as other newspapers. As we've noted, the Times has never made money and is kept in business only through the deep pockets of its self-proclaimed messiah of an owner. Indeed, it's estimated that the Times has lost at least $2 billion over its 25-year existence.
The question Irvine ishould be asking is not "how long they will continue to publish" but, rather, why financial concerns have become a concern at all for the Moonie Times since they haven't exactly been in the past. Then again, AIM has reportedly benefited in the past from low-cost or volunteer workers supplied by Moon, and AIM has historically not demonstrated much concern over the Moonie connection.
In an Aug. 7 WorldNetDaily column, Joseph Farah bashed Barack Obama for "anti-Semitic" comments he claims were found in a "casual perusal" of Obama's community blog website. (If you believe Obama-hater Aaron Klein was merely casually perusing Obama's website and not scrupulously combing it for inflammatory comments he could use against Obama, we have some oceanfront property in Nebraska we'd like to sell you.)
Farah adds: "If I were running for president, I can assure you I would have standards at least as high as I do for WND content – meaning it is reckless and irresponsible to an extreme to permit such racist, hate-filled content to be published."
If WND has such high standards, why did Farah allow his readers to post death threats against Obama? Or is that Farah's idea of high standards?
New Article: WorldNetDaily, Serial Liar Topic: WorldNetDaily
Building on its long history of lying about Democratic presidential candidates, WND is now making up things about Barack Obama. Read more >>
An Aug. 6 CNSNews.com article by Melanie Hunter-Omar repeats accusations from a "conservative group" that a bill in the California legislature to official designate Harvey Milk Day -- as the article states, "the first openly homosexual person to be elected to public office in a major U.S. city" who was "assassinated by former Board of Supervisor Dan White at San Francisco City Hall" -- "requires public schools to have an official 'Gay Day.'"
But not only does Humter-Omar not permit any supporter of Harvey Milk Day, she offers no further detail about why such a day would be offensive to the "conservative group" in question, the Campaign for Children and Families. Despite the alarmist claim in the headline that the bill would "force schools to honor" Milk, the bill merely designates that day as "as having special significance in public school and educational institutions and encourages those entities to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date."
Indeed, the only possible interpretation the article offers is that the CCF believes that a gay man should receive any official recognition whatsoever.
As we've noted, CCF has a history of anti-gay activism -- they think that protecting gay students under hate-crime laws equals "promoting homosexuality" -- and CNS has previously forwarded CCF anti-gay talking points without rebuttal.
Zeifman Sees Dead People, Puts Words In Their Mouths Topic: Newsmax
The last time we saw NewsmaxDemocrat Jerry Zeifman, he couldn't keep his Hillary Clinton smears straight. Now, in an Aug. 6 Newsmax column, he reveals perhaps too much about his inner life:
On Feb. 22, 2008, I published an article on www.zeifman.com about a dream I had in which Eleanor Roosevelt decried the pandering by a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus to white political leaders.
Sadly, he continues:
On the night the House recessed for a month in a stalemate over high oil prices, Mrs. Roosevelt came again to me in a dream.
Our conversation follows.
Oh, my. And yes, Zeifman goes on to do exactly that -- and it's funny how ol' Eleanor sounds a lot like Zeifman and has strangely detailed knowledge of events that happened long after her death on subjects she was not generally known to have expertise on during her lifetime:
Roosevelt: In 1969, British Petroleum discovered oil on the Alaskan north slope. Soon thereafter it acquired Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) and operates in Alaska under that company's name. By 1982 Sohio's American operations provided almost 80 percent of the BP world wide profits.
BP now enjoys the advantages of OPEC's price fixing, which under our anti-trust laws would be a felonious conspiracy if carried out in the United States. American companies would be illegal under our anti-trust laws.
Also by closing down its American refineries and pursuing OPEC's more profitable price-fixed end of the oil market, BP has now become the world's biggest speculator and "spot" trader in oil futures.
Um, OK. But what Zeifman -- er, Roosevelt really wants to talk about is contemporary politics:
Zeifman: Are you suggesting that Maxine Waters has no partisan motives in advocating the take over of oil companies?
Roosevelt: I am not unaware that she, like Barack Obama and most Black Caucus members, are partisan demonizers of the Bush presidency. But she should have a right, like everyone else in government, to have her recommendations considered on their merits. I am also dismayed that her detractors are assailing her with such epithets as "marxist" and "commie" — which were also used by opponents of both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt to disparage their anti-monopoly policies.
And since Eleanor is acting as Zeifman's parrot in his weirdly fevered dreams -- he had best lay off the pizza and Jagermeister shots before bedtime, it would seem -- she certainly wouldn't be endorsing a Democrat for president:
Although the current media regards anti-trust enforcement as a left-wing Democratic policy the truth is that the greatest opponent of monopolies in our history was Theodore Roosevelt. Known as the "trust-buster," he was the first president to successfully invoke the Sherman Antitrust Act against international cartels. He was also responsible for indicting 45 corporations for violation of anti-trust laws.
I am confident that, as president, John McCain, who proudly describes himself as a "progressive Theodore Roosevelt Republican," will have the spine to enter into a nonpartisan coalition to nationalize domestic oil production as a means of preserving our national security and environment.
Er, is that even actually an endorsement? It is Zeifman's dream, after all, so it must be.
Huston Channels Stephen Colbert Topic: NewsBusters
The folks at NewsBusters are bound and determined to serve as poster children for Stephen Colbert's maxim that reality has a well-known liberal bias. In an Aug. 6 post, Warner Todd Huston throws yet another hissy fit, this time over the Associated Press describing Dick Cheney as "unpopular":
So, I ask you, does "unpopular Cheney" sound more like opinion than it does simple news reporting?
Certainly we can face facts that the liberal press has succeeded in pillorying Vice President Cheney since almost the minute he stepped into the VP Mansion at the United States Naval Observatory. It is, therefore, a fact that Cheney has a low approval rating. But it seems to me that the headline branding Cheney "unpopular" is somewhat unseemly and opinionated as opposed to newsworthy.
That's right -- even though Huston concedes it's a fact that Cheney is unpopular (but somehow thinks Cheney has done nothing to contribute to said unpopularity), it's "opinionated" to mention that fact in a news story.
That's what passes for media criticism at NewsBusters.
WND Article Debunked -- By the MRC Topic: WorldNetDaily
It's unusual for one ConWeb component to publicly correct another, but that's what WorldNetDaily has found itself on the business end of.
An Aug. 5 WND article by Chelsea Schilling asserted:
Is CBS showing bias toward Barack Obama?
The "Late Show with David Letterman" has removed a spoof on Obama from website archives but opted to keep a "Top Ten" list ripping John McCain from the previous evening – and show representatives are denying any knowledge of the missing clip.
Schilling's conspiratorial musings are shot down in surprisingly direct fashion by the Media Research Center's Brent Baker in an Aug. 6 NewsBusters post:
Despite repeated e-mails NewsBusters received late last week apparently spurred by mis-informed postings elsewhere, I've hesitated, since I considered it so ridiculous, to address the allegation that CBS or David Letterman staffers caved to pressure and removed from the Late Show with David Letterman Web site a “Top Ten” list critical of Barack Obama, the “Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident.” But then today World Net Daily put the issue back in play with an article which speculated:
Is CBS showing bias toward Barack Obama? The "Late Show with David Letterman" has removed a spoof on Obama from website archives but opted to keep a "Top Ten" list ripping John McCain from the previous evening -- and show representatives are denying any knowledge of the missing clip.
As a David Letterman fan who has watched his show nearly every night since 1982 -- though I have been disappointed by his recent left-wing political rants on the show -- I can provide a simple explanation which involves no effort to hide the list: The list, prepared for, and presented on, the Tuesday, July 29 show was, as happens many times each year, edited from the program because later interview segments with Kevin Costner and/or Bob Sarlatte ran long. The purpose of the Late Show site is to post highlights from the show and since Letterman's reading of it did not air on the program as broadcast on CBS the list should not have been posted. Yet it was put up, along with video of Letterman reading it (hence why there is YouTube video of it that makes it appear the list did air on the show), by mistake. When that error was realized the list, and matching video, were removed -- as they should have been.
It is not unusual -- I'd guess about once a week -- for a “Top Ten” list which Letterman plugs as coming up after a commercial break to not air. Sometimes that's because he sees the final version of the list during the break and rejects it; other times he reads it but it is cut for time since killing it in post-production is a quick way to reduce the show length by 90 seconds to two minutes without having to chop up an interview session.
Ouch -- WND criticized by one of its own (though Baker fails to properly identify WND as a right-wing organization). How utterly unreliable and non-factual must WND's "reporting" be (andoh, itis) when its fellow ideologues feel compelled to issue smackdowns?
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein's 48th anti-Obama article is yet another guilt-by-association piece, blaming Obama for "racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda" in community blogs on Obama's website, even though he concedes that "The Obama campaign does not monitor all blog material but says it removes offending posts brought to the attention of site administrators" -- and even admits that "Several offensive postings on the Obama site previously noted by WND and some Internet blogs have been removed by the Obama website staff."
Klein claims that "Obama's campaign did not return a WND e-mail request for comment before press time," but there's no indication he went through proper channels to report the offending content before penning yet another attack article for WND.
Of course, there are Obama death threats on the WND site, but Klein probably doesn't want to talk about that.