Media Lack-of-Research Center Watch Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard begins an Aug. 29 NewsBusters post by declaring, "Regardless of what Barack Obama said in Denver this evening during his Democrat presidential nomination acceptance speech, it was a metaphysical certitude most mainstream media members would love it."
It's also a metaphysical certitude that regardless of what Obama said, Sheppard would hate it. And indeed, he immediately unleashes a little hate at the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza for liking Obama's speech.
Responding to Cillizza's claim that Obama's speech was "more substance than style; more specifics than rhetorical flourish," Sheppard retorted: "Really, Chris? Could you name some specifics? All I heard was the same laundry list I've been hearing from most Democrat presidential nominees going back to Walter Mondale." Of course, Sheppard offers no specifics of his own. And when Cillizza called the speech "meaty," Sheppard sneered, "You felt this was meaty? Hmmm. I must have been watching a different station." Again, no specifics.
This is the second time in a week that Sheppard served up baseless assertions as "media research."
Another WND Columnist Repeats Dubious Obama Brother Story Topic: WorldNetDaily
In her Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily column, Ilana Mercer joins fellow WND columnist Mychal Massie in repeating the claim that Barack Obama's Kenyan half-brother, George Obama, "subsists on less than a dollar a month" without also noting that George himself has challenged the claim: "They say I live on a dollar a month, but this is all lies by people who don't want my brother to win."
In an Aug. 28 NewsBusters post, Ken Shepherd complained that a Chicago Tribune blogger took aim at John McCain's ad complimenting Barack Obama on winning the Democratic nomination and "scoff[ing] at the [McCain] campaign's "Jekyll [and] Hyde" advertising approach, as if the Arizona Republican can't deem it polite to take a one day holiday from criticizing his opponent while planning on vigorously resuming the next day and every day hence until the general election."
The problem here is that McCain's campaign didn't take a one-day holiday from attacking Obama, which makes McCain's congratulatory ad a tad disingenuous. It's a nice ad, but let's not give McCain more credit than he deserves.
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
Throw another anti-Obama article on the pile: Aaron Klein returns to his guilt-by-association ways in an Aug. 28 article claiming that "A columnist for a Syrian government newspaper has lauded Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden."
Why do we care? Because, Klein claims, "Obama's positive coverage in Syria follows some Syrian-related controversy for the presidential candidate after it was revealed one of his key foreign policy advisers traveled to Damascus where he reportedly urged Syrian officials to fast-track negotiations with Israel." This allows Klein to rehash his previous attack on that adviser, Daniel Kurtzer, as "one of Israel's greatest foes in Washington," complete with critics that Klein again fails to identify as right-wingers like himself.
Needless to say, Klein failed as before to mention that Kurtzer is an Orthodox Jew and the former dean of Yeshiva University, which would seem to clash with Klein's enemy-of-the-people rhetoric.
CNS Channels Right-Leaning AP Writer Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com's Susan Jones usually takes her reporting cues from Republicantalkingpoints. Now, she appears to be taking her cues from a Republican-leaning writer for the Associated Press.
In an Aug. 27 CNS article, Jones asserted that in Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention, "Much of the speech was about Clinton herself -- the 'privilege' of meeting voters on the campaign trail and hearing their stories: 'You taught me so much, you made me laugh, and -- you even made me cry. You allowed me to become part of your lives. And you became part of mine,' she said, according to the text of her speech."
That sounds a lot like AP Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier's analysis of Clinton's speech, which he claimed was "laced 17 times by some variation of the pronoun 'I.' " As we've noted (and others have as well), Fournier has a record of right-leaning "analysis," and even considered working for John McCain's campaign at one point last year.
But both Fournier and Jones missed the mark. As Media Matters points out, of the 21 instances it counted in the speech in which Clinton used "I," at least 13 were not focusing on herself but, rather, making one of three points: her support for Obama's election; the importance of the 2008 election; and who really matters in this election.
Additionally, in listing reaction to Clinton's speech, Jones writes: "On Fox News, it was clear that Greta Van Susteren and Democratic analyst Susan Estrich believed that Clinton, not Obama, should have received the Democratic nomination." How does Jones know it was "clear" Van Susteren and Estrich believed that? She doesn't say; no evidence is offered to support the statement.
Unruh Leaves Important Fact Out of Attack on Pelosi Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh states that "a new letter from 19 Catholic members of Congress" rebukes Democratic House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi for purportedly "mangl[ing] Catholic doctrine" on the subject of abortion.
One little thing Unruh forgot to mention that would put the letter in its proper perspective: Those "19 Catholic members of Congress" are all Republicans, as Human Events points out.
Unruh has a long record of biased reporting at WND. WND also has a record of anti-Catholic attacks, but it's finding of late that a certain amount of pro-Catholic rhetoric suits its political agenda.
Great Moments in Conservative Media Criticism Topic: Media Research Center
In an Aug. 27 NewsBusters post and Aug. 28 MRC CyberAlert item, Brent Baker noted that a CBS reporter described as a "stretch" a John McCain ad taking Barack Obama's claims that Iran is a "tiny" country and doesn't pose a "serious threat" out of context. Baker writes:
CBS then played a clip of Obama on May 18, part of the statement the McCain campaign cited to support its ad: "Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. I mean, think about it, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us."
Sounds like he said what the ad quotes him as having said.
While Obama did call Iran "tiny" and questioned whether it posed "a serious threat," we find that this new McCain ad mangles their context to the point of misrepresenting Obama's statement.
Obama was speaking about whether to negotiate with Iran, which the Bush administration resisted. Obama noted that previous presidents had met with adversaries from the Soviet Union and China that were willing to destroy the United States, but that President Bush refused to meet directly with leaders of smaller global players such as Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.
Rather than dismiss those countries as insignificant, Obama was urging direct talks to engage them.
We find the McCain ad, like the McCain speech before it, is grossly distorting Obama's remarks by suggesting that Obama was dismissing Iran as too small to be taken seriously as a threat. We find the claim in the McCain ad, like the McCain speech before it, to be False.
Is Baker so in the tank for McCain that he refuses to acknowledge a clear and unambiguous factual distortion and instead pretends it's the truth? It appears so.
Twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens, according to 2006 statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. If those numbers are correct, it translates to 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens – more than the U.S. death toll of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. That's more than 30,000 Americans killed by illegal aliens since Sept. 11, 2001.
In fact, as we detailed when WND first repeated King's claim nearly two years ago, it is almost certainly not correct, and the comparison of alleged murders by "illegal aliens" to deaths of soldiers in Iraq is misleading because the soldiers' deaths are taken from a much smaller population -- roughly 200,000 U.S. personnel on duty there, vs. roughly 300 million Americans -- which means the soldiers' death rate is much higher than even WND's alarmist numbers on illegals.
WND is engaging in a chunk of odious dishonesty here. Even though King's claim has been debunked -- and, indeed, was debunked even before WND uncritically reported it in November 2006 -- WND has chosen to pretend that what King says is essentially true and that no one has ever looked into the claim.
In other words, WND is lying to its readers. Again.
Biden Claim Not As Discredited As NewsBusters Wants You to Think Topic: NewsBusters
An Aug. 27 NewsBusters post by Colleen Raezler claimed that Bill Adair of PolitiFact.org "discredited" Joe Biden's claim that John McCain votes with George W. Bush 95 percent of the time. In fact, the section of the "Morning Joe" transcript that Raezler reproduces quotes Adair as saying: "in terms of Biden, the 95 percent is just something where you've got to understand that that's sort of the worse case scenario. He's cherry picking. 95 percent was last year."
The PolitiFact item on the claim, which gives it a "half-true" rating, explains further:
McCain’s 95 percent score was the high-water mark of his presidential support during President Bush’s tenure, and was partly a reflection of the new political calculus in the Democratic-controlled Congress.
But other years, McCain's rating was lower. He supported Bush as infrequently as 77 percent of the time in 2005, and backed the president’s position an average of 89 percent of the time since 2001. By congressional standards, that’s solidly partisan, but hardly marching in lockstep.
So it's not "discredited," as Raezler claims. Incomplete and exaggerated, perhaps, but with a core of truth to it. Unlike, say, McCain's claim that Obama wants to increase the size of government by 23 percent, which PolitiFact has rated a "pants on fire" lie. Indeed, PolitiFact has found a higher percentage of recent claims by McCain to be "half-true" or less than statements by Obama, and no Obama statement has ever been given the "pants on fire" designation.
WND Thinks Common Philosophical Question is Socialist Topic: WorldNetDaily
An Aug. 26 WorldNetDaily article highlights right-wing blogger Gateway Pundit's claim that Michelle Obama's use of the terms "the world as it is" and "the world as it should be" in her Democratic National Convention speech "appear[s] to have been drawn from 'Rules for Radicals,' a book by dedicated socialist Saul Alinsky."
Okay, without getting all elitist and educated and stuff, I can’t help but point out that anyone who’s read a single page of philosophy, ethics or theology has run across the comparison of the “world as it should be” to the “world as it is.” Thousands of writers, all of whom knew how to spell “piqued” and “curiosity,” have used this formulation, and it isn’t any more original to Alinsky than the words “and” and “the.”
But the stupid never stops with [Gateway Pundit blogger] Mr. Hoft, who apparently didn’t even read or understand the two passages he cited. He saw the same two phrases in the speech and was so busy whooping and hollering about his groundbreaking discovery and his literary prowess that he didn’t notice that Michelle and Alinsky use the two phrases in exactly opposite ways — Alinsky calls the “world as it should be” a “fantasy,” whereas Michelle sees it as an ideal to be fought for.
Needless to say, WND also fails to note both that the question is common in philosophy and that Obama's use of it is completely opposite from Alinsky's.
An unsigned Aug. 27 NewsBusters post proudly notes that Bill O'Reilly "cited the Media Research Center's latest special report, 'Obama's Margin of Victory: The Media,' in the midst of the 'Unresolved Problems' segment for his August 26 program." That study claims that broadcast networks are, in O'Reilly's words, "in the tank for Barack Obama."
No doubt the folks at the MRC are equally proud that O'Reilly failed to label the MRC as a conservative group (just one part of Fox News' pro-MRC tilt) and also that he failed to mention a Center for Media and Public Affairs study that -- through its finding that Obama has received more negative broadast network coverage than John McCain -- clashes with the results of the MRC's study.
CNS Repeats Debunked 'Most Liberal Senator' Claim Topic: CNSNews.com
An Aug. 27 CNSNews.com article by Kevin Mooney repeats the misleading claim: "The nonpartisan National Journal ranked the presumed Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and his running mate [Joe] Biden as number one and number three respectively under the category of 'Most Liberal Senator in 2007.'"
As we've noted (as has Media Matters), the National Journal ranking is highly subjective, based on 99 votes selected by the magazine's staff -- for instance, a vote to implement the bipartisan 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations was considered to be "liberal." By contrast, a separate study based on all 388 non-unanimous Senate votes during 2007 produced a different result, ranking Obama and Biden as tied for the 10th most liberal senator.
If a media person dances to music played at the Democratic National Convention, is that evidence of liberal media bias? Matthew Balan seems to think so.
In an Aug. 26 NewsBusters post, Balan noted a CNN report highlighting how CNN analysts Roland Martin, Donna Brazile and Paul Begala dancing to Earth, Wind & Fire songs played in the background during the convention, adding, "I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they like to let loose when they’re not attacking conservatives and Republicans."
Then again, the Republicans probably won't be playing and EW&F tunes at their convention. Daddy Yankee, maybe.
Speaking of whom: We couldn't help but notice that while the MRC folks have ratcheted up their blue-nosing over the vulgar lyrics of, say, Ludacris when they can be tied to Obama, they haven't said a word about the vulgarlyrics of McCain endorser Daddy Yankee.
Newsmax Repeats Misleading Claims About Obama, Abortion Topic: Newsmax
An Aug. 26 Newsmax article by Jim Meyers misleadingly asserts that Barack Obama "fought against a bill protecting the right to life of a baby born alive." Citing David Freddoso's Obama-bashing book, Meyers writes:
In March 2001, a bill was introduced in the Illinois Senate, where Obama was then serving, that stated in part: “A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law.”
The bill came following an investigation of a Chicago-area hospital that left babies born alive to die without medical care.
That's an apparent reference to charges first forwarded by anti-abortion activist Jill Stanek -- which, by the way, were never substantiated.
“This bill was not an abortion law,” Freddoso writes. “It did not confer any right or legal status upon any baby not yet born. This bill had no legal conflicts with Roe v. Wade … Born and living survivors of abortion would be unambiguously considered ‘persons.’ Medically, scientifically, empirically, they were no different from the many premature babies who are born in American hospitals each year.”
In fact, as Media Matters details, the bill was superfluous because state law already made illegal the actions Stanek alleged were taking place. At no point does Meyers note this argument in his article. The fact that such behavior was already illegal and, thus, the proposed law would have made nothing additionally illegal makes the headline on Meyers' article -- "Obama OK'd 'Live Born' Abortion' -- utterly false.
Further, in the section of the speech that Meyers reproduces, Obama specifically refers to "pre-viable fetuses" that cannot survive outside the womb and claimed that the bill would effectively make them "persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to … a nine-month-old child that was delivered to term." "Pre-viable" is not the same thing as "premature" -- a distinction Freddoso and Meyers fail to make.
This isn't the only anti-Obama bias Newsmax is peddling these days: An Aug. 25 article by George J. Marlin indulges in some CNS-style labeling bias by repeatedly describing Joe Biden as "pro-abortion."