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Monday, September 1, 2008
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Questionable Claims
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Warner Todd Huston has been very forcefully fighting back against claims that newly named Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin may have faked the pregnancy and that the child is actually her teenage daughter's.

An Aug. 30 post delcared the claim an "absurd calumny," "garbage,""lies," and a "nutcase theory." What evidence does Huston offer to counter the claim and support his attacks? Um ... none.

Huston upped his attacks in an Aug. 31 post, again calling it a "nothing but a lie" but also calling it a "scurrilous claim" and adding, "Next thing we know, the Kossacks and DUers are going to expect us to believe that Big Foot and some gray aliens were the attendants at the birth!" This time, Huston takes a stab at debunking it: "All the speculation on whether Governor Palin was pregnant is easily put to rest by the eyewitness account of Elizabeth Eubanks from April 29 of this year. Eubanks was in an airport in Fairbanks waiting for a flight when she unexpectedly saw Governor Palin in the airport also waiting for a flight."

Huston's specifying the April 29 date of Eubanks' post is meaningless since Palin (as far as we know) had the baby on April 18 (as fellow NewsBuster Tim Graham noted in a May 20 post) and Eubanks notes in her post that Palin "has since had her baby." Rather, Eubanks writes that she saw a pregnant Palin "in March." Indeed, as the Daily Kos post cited by Huston notes, Palin didn't announce her pregnancy until early March, when she "said she's already about seven months along." So Eubanks' account doesn't disprove the currently circulating accusations.

So, is the accusation true? We have no idea, but we do know that Huston bellowing that it isn't true doesn't make it so. Further, Huston's aggressive attempts to shout it down flies in the face of NewsBusters' treatment of dubious claims against Democrats.

As we've detailed, NewsBusters was quick to promote the National Enquirer's claim that John Edwards had an affair long before Edwards admitted to it, even though MRC officials had previously denounced rumors about unsavory behavior by Republicans as "it to print only for the likes of the National Enquirer." Further, an Aug. 22 post by P.J. Gladnick uncritically repeated the claim that the birth certificate Barack Obama released is fake. As we've noted, even Huston's fellow right-wingers at WorldNetDaily have debunked it, though you wouldn't know that by reading NewsBusters.

Huston might turn his attention away from Palin and toward telling the world the truth about Obama's birth certificate. Or is that a fake story he doesn't think is an "absurd calumny"?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:34 AM EDT
Sunday, August 31, 2008
CNS Misleads on Climate Change Report

An Aug. 26 article by Kevin Mooney asserts that "New scientific evidence suggests there is a stronger link between solar activity and climate trends on Earth than there is with greenhouse gases." But the article obfuscates the agenda of the researcher involved and provides no meaningful opportunity for the other side to respond.

The article showcases the claims of Fred Singer, a global warming "skeptic" who has a history of making misleading claims about global warming and has ties to the oil industry. Singer's report is not "new"; it was first published in March (by the right-wing Heartland Institute) under the aegis of Singer's own group, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, which means it's also not a peer-reviewed study.

Mooney offers some token criticism of Singer's theory that the sun's cosmic rays are what causes global warming, but that criticism does not come in direct response to Singer's report. Mooney cites Jay Gulledge, a senior scientist with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, as citing "an article in Nature magazine" -- but that article was published in 2004.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:13 PM EDT
Cashill: Orwell Warned Us About Obama
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jack Cashill serves up a bit of Obama Derangement Syndrome his Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily column:

Although best known for his novels, "1984" and "Animal Farm," George Orwell was a political essayist of the first order. Writing 60 years ago or more, he all but predicted what might be called "the Obama Delusion."

Cashill claims that Obama's supporters are "delusional" and in particular attacks "those with a postgraduate education, Obama's strongest demographic by far," because he thinks smart people have no business running government, quoting Owell's warning of "a hierarchical society where the intellectual can at last get his hands on the whip."

Cashill gets a few style points for attempting a more sophisticated attack on Obama than the usual antichrist/Nazi smears typically found at WND. Cashill also hurls the usual Obama-bashing:

Indeed, in his embrace of internationalism, illegal immigration, anti-war activism, abortion, black liberation theology and gay rights, not to mention his refusal to wear an American flag pin, Obama would seem to be the very incarnation of what Orwell called "the whole left-wing ideology."


To be fair, rhetorical hot air has sustained many a career in both parties, but no ship in American political history has sailed further on "pure wind," on the pufferies of "hope" and "change," than Obama's.

While we're on the subject of Cashill, let's play a little catch-up. Back in July he wrote a five-part series for WND promoting the re-election of Phill Kline as a district attorney in Kansas so he could continue to wage a legal war against Planned Parenthood and abortion doctor George Tiller. Of course, nowhere in these articles does he mention Kline's own ethical problems -- namely, that he doesn't show up for work that much and doesn't live in the county where he works as required by law -- instead railing that the "abortion industry" gets a "free pass" in Kansas and that "only Kline's election as district attorney can prevent that "pass" from becoming permanent – and not just in Kansas." As we've noted, Cashill has a history of ignoring or whitewashing Kline's problems.

Instead, Kline didn't even make it out of the Republican primary for the seat, losing big on Aug. 6 (receiving only 40 percent of the vote) to Steve Howe, one of several prosecutors Kline fired when he took the district attorney job. From the Kansas City Star:

During the primary campaign, Howe cast himself as the “career prosecutor” and Kline as the “career politician.”

Howe contended that politics had played too great a role in the decision-making process of the office under Kline. Also, he said, Kline spent too much time away from the office on activities related to abortion.

The Star also noted that "Independent groups from outside Kansas are thought to have spent more than $100,000 to keep Kline’s candidacy alive" -- unheard of for a county-level position. As another Star article noted, the manager of Kline's campaign is the head of an Ohio-based anti-abortion group; her previous claim to fame was promoting Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ."

Cashill makes no mention whatsoever of any of this, and there's no mention of Kline's primary loss anywhere on WND, even though it has promoted his jihad against PP and Tiller.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:57 AM EDT
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Keeping Conservative Secrets = 'Integrity'
Topic: NewsBusters

RedState's Eric Erickson declares in an Aug. 29 NewsBusters post (cross-posted at RedState):

CBN's David Brody is on the phone with CNN right now getting himself drummed out of the conservative movement.


Well, he's on peddling what happened at a private meeting at the with regards to Palin.

Why is that a problem? Apparently because the CNP is Fight Club:

This is a huge no-no, guests are invited under the condition that meetings remain private to keep conversations candid and open.

I've attended CNP and I know darn well to never talk about what went on.

As we've noted -- and as Erickson confirms -- CNP, a cabal of right-wing leaders, preferes to operate in the shadows, surfacing only when it wants to send a message, as WorldNetDaily editor (and CNP member) Joseph Farah did when he reported from a CNP that he attended (and from which real members of the media were barred from atending) that evangelicals would bolt the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani was the presidential nominee.

CNP is a group who keeps an iron-fisted control on information, so it should not necessarily be presumed, as Erickson does, that Brody broke the omerta. But if he did, what's next? Does he wake up one morning to find Alan Colmes' head in his bed?

But also note that Erickson said that Brody was "getting himself drummed out of the conservative movement" for, essentially, telling the truth. He then offers up a bit of baseless speculation:

I suspect, frankly, that Brody has fallen for Obama and does not really care. Even has been tougher on Obama's infanticide position than David Brody has.

Career is one thing, David. Integrity is something else. On the upside, I hear Brock is hiring.

This is why the term "conservative journalism" is something of a contradiction. To Erickson, being a conservative comes before being a journalist -- loyalty is all, the truth comes second -- which is the opposite of what a good journalist should be. Erickson and other conservatives wouldn't tolerate secrecy from a liberal group, so why does he acquiesce to demands of secrecy from a right-wing organization?

Further, given the fact that the CNP will allow only "reporters" who acquiesce to its secrecy demands and put politics before journalistic principles to attend its meetings, what does that say about the CNP's, and Erickson's, respect for Brody's journalistic integrity? Not much, we suspect -- after all, it essentially equivocates Brody, who's trying to break out of the right-wing ghetto despite being employed by CBN, with a liar and plagiarist like Farah. Is that the company Brody wants to keep if he wants to be seen as a legitimate journalist?

As for Erickson questioning Brody's "integrity": What does it say about Erickson's integrity that he's willing to submit to the demands of a secretive organization and to put loyalty before truth? That makes him a less-than-credible media critic.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:40 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, August 30, 2008 10:43 AM EDT
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."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:14 AM EDT
Friday, August 29, 2008
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."

Posted by Terry K. at 5:26 PM EDT
About That Holiday ...
Topic: NewsBusters

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:53 PM EDT
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:16 AM EDT
CNS Channels Right-Leaning AP Writer
Topic:'s Susan Jones usually takes her reporting cues from Republican talking points. 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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:21 AM EDT
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:24 AM EDT
Thursday, August 28, 2008
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.

Um, no, Brent. What say you,

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:46 PM EDT
WND Repeats Bogus Illegal Immigrant Murder Statistic
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Aug. 27 WorldNetDaily article claims:

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:32 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, August 29, 2008 1:22 AM EDT
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 "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.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:10 AM EDT
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."

We'll let Sadly, No! handle the response:

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:08 AM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:25 AM EDT

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