NewsBusters Flip-Flops on Popularity of Politicians Topic: NewsBusters
A Sept. 2 NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein expresses shock that "Andrea Mitchell has suggested that the intensity of Palin's popularity . . . could be a bad thing," adding, "Andrea can bask in the glory of her Reverse Alchemy Award: turning the gold of Palin's popularity into lead."
But isn't that what Finkelstein and the rest of his NewsBusters cohorts have been doing to Barack Obama ever since the message (read: talking point) came down from on high (read: McCain campaign headquarters) that Obama is merely a Paris Hilton-like celebrity, meaning that his popularity ... is a bad thing. Count the references to "Obamessiah" (including by Finkelstein himself) and "Obama celebrity" on NewsBusters for a clue.
Speaking of Utter Shamelessness ... Topic: Media Research Center
A Sept. 2 Media Research Center press release howls about the "utter shamelessness" of "the leftist media" for not reporting only positive things about Sarah Palin. The MRC does know from utter shamelessness.
While the press release offers a blanket indictmenty of "leftist media" coverage, it offers only two examples. The first was CNN's John Roberts asking whether "the role of vice president" would detract from Palin caring for an infant with "Down's [sic] syndrome." Roberts was attacked as having "dove right down to the bottom" by asking this. The release also cited ABC "Good Morning America" anchor Bill Weir asking essentially the same question; he was portrayed as engaging in "brutality."
But right-wingers are asking this too. From a Sept. 2 WorldNetDaily column by Olivia St. John:
Last April, when Palin gave birth to her fifth child, she dutifully returned to her work as governor after three days. A few years prior, while serving as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she kept her infant daughter in a car seat under her desk while she worked in her office.
At a time when many former feminists cry foul upon realizing they were duped into thinking they could do it all, few seem to be asking if Palin can do it all.
Does the MRC think St. John is diving to the bottom too?
The release also claimed that "the announcement of the preganacy of Gov. Palin's 17 year-old daughter Bristol elicited more of the same low-rent reporting," but no examples are offered. Again, St. John:
Bristol Palin, the 17-year-old, unmarried daughter of Sarah Palin, is pregnant. Although she plans to keep the baby and marry the father, her immoral shortcoming is still clear for the nation (and world) to see. Is it possible that her very busy, avowedly-feminist mother, the governor of Alaska and presumptive Republican vice-presidential candidate, could have made a moral difference, had she been more available for her daughter?
Is St. John being "low-rent"? Will the MRC denounce her too, or will it just stick to the script (and the fund-rasing mantra) and bash the "leftist media" even though the evidence that it offered of the crimes it purportedly committed is scanty at best?
Looks like the latter. The release quotes Brent Bozell ranting: "These alleged journalists are again demonstrating what utter charlatans they are. ... These are not reporters, these are hypocritical left-wing advocates using their First Amendment rights as clubs to bludgeon and abuse this fine woman with the lowliest attacks they can drum up."
Speaking of hypocritical: Eight months ago, as we noted, Bozell was attacking pregnant teen Jamie Lynn Spears as a "loser" and bashing Spears mom because "she doesn’t know diddly about parenting celebrity children."
UPDATE: Bozell's Sept. 2 column touches on the same talking points but with different adjectives, this time calling Roberts' question "intensely ugly and personal." For good hateful measure, Bozell throws in a reference to the misleading and subjective National Journal ranking of Barack Obama as "the most liberal Senator."
CNS Uncritically Repeats False McCain Claim Topic: CNSNews.com
A Sept. 1 CNSNews.com article by Susan Jones uncritically repeated John McCain's claim that his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, "was in elected office when Sen. [Barack] Obama was still a local community organizer." While Jones goes on to list the experience of both Palin and Obama, which hints that Palin was not "in elected office" while Obama was a community organizer, at no point does she note that McCain's claim is false.
Ronald Kessler keeps up his McCain flip-flop in an Aug. 31 Newsmax column, asserting that "John McCain is both a master politician and genuine" as demonstrated by his choosing of Sarah Palin as vice president:
In choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain wooed women voters to his side, lent sparkle to his own persona, and created excitement and media buzz about his candidacy. In selecting a vice presidential candidate with impeccable conservative credentials, he energized conservatives who were lukewarm about his run and now say they will work for him.
Most important, in demonstrating that he is true to his conservative voting record, McCain showed that he is the real thing.
Meanwhile, Kessler resorted to the same old misleading attacks on Barack Obama:
In contrast, when Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, there was a disconnect between many of the sentiments he expressed and his own record and previous positions during the primaries.
Suddenly, we heard that Obama would eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and would cut taxes on 95 percent of working families. While calling for an end to partisan bickering, he engaged in partisan attacks throughout much of his speech. Suddenly, Obama was for oil drilling as a “stop-gap measure.” Suddenly, he was full of praise for America, its soldiers, and its values.
That is not the Obama who sat for 20 years in the pews of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.’s church, where the pastor said America created the AIDS virus to kill off blacks.
“Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run,” Wright said. “America is still the No. 1 killer in the world.”
Nor were Obama’s comments consistent with Michelle Obama’s statement that, for the first time in her adult life, she is proud of her country.
Kessler offers no evidence to back up his claims, which seem painfully ironic given Kessler's own massive flip-flop on McCain. In fact, for instance, contrary to Kessler's claim, as far back as June, Obama was saying that he would not raise capital gains taxes on individuals with income of less than $250,000.
Double Standard on Pregnant Teens Topic: NewsBusters
Jacob S. Lybbert writes in a Sept. 1 NewsBusters post:
I think I've got it now. These are the MSM rules when dealing with the personal lives of national candidates and/or members of their family:
Given the chance to publicly embarrass and humiliate a Republican candidate's 17 year old daughter, do it.
If it's a moralizing former Democratic candidate for president, well, leave that to the National Enquirer.
Today, to head off the many tawdry rumors being passed back and forth between the Daily Kos diarists and their plagiarists in the MSM, the McCain camp announced that Governor Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant.
Um, when did the MSM report on any of the Palin pregnancy rumors? (The Times of London, right-leaning and Murdoch-owned, doesn't count.) Indeed, this story didn't make the MSM until the McCain camp made this announcement about the daughter's pregnancy.
Nevertheless, Lybbert goes on:
Unfortunately for the Palin's, they can count on increased scrutiny and criticism of their parenting and their daughter. Stay tuned as the schaedenfreudists of the left laugh about the "irony" of a social conservative with a pregnant daughter. The truth is, these types of things happen to the best of parents--even parents like the Palins.
How does Lybbert know that Sarah Palin and her husband are "the best of parents"? he doesn't say.
Besides, this newfound laid-back treatment of pregnant teenagers conflicts with the MRC's previous attitude on the subject. From MRC chief Brent Bozell's Dec. 28, 2007, column:
The year ended with the news that Britney’s 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn Spears, a star of the children’s channel Nickelodeon, was pregnant.
Had the youngest Spears sister been cast as a tawdry teenage tramp on “Desperate Housewives,” her real-world behavior would be seen as less scandalous. But Jamie Lynn Spears has been a fairly wholesome star on Nickelodeon since she joined the kiddie sketch-comedy show “All That” at the tender age of 11. She’s currently the cool title character of the show “Zoey 101,” set at a boarding school, a show watched by millions of grade-schoolers. So much for role models.
At the center of this vortex is the mother, Lynne Spears, who had her publishing contract “delayed indefinitely” for a book on parenting celebrity children, now that it’s painfully apparent she doesn’t know diddly about parenting celebrity children. The Spears family and their long trail of tabloid embarrassments make them some of 2007's biggest losers.
Got that? Jamie Lynn Spears is a "loser," but Bristol Palin is being unfairly embarrassed in public, even though both engaged in the exact same behavior.
UPDATE: Mark Finkelstein weighs in: "Yes, teenagers have sex, including children of the prominent and pro-life. Does ABC mean to imply that Sarah Palin is [a] poor mother? Bristol Palin ... is keeping the baby and marrying the father. Shouldn't we be celebrating those choices and the mother who instilled the values they reflect?" We wonder: Did Finkelstein celebrate Jamie Lynn Spears' choice?
Will WND Confront Israel Insider? Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've noted that WorldNetDaily conceded last week that the faked-Obama-birth-certificate conspiracy meme has no basis in fact. From the Aug. 23 WND article:
A separate WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic. The investigation also revealed methods used by some of the bloggers to determine the document was fake involved forgeries, in that a few bloggers added text and images to the certificate scan that weren't originally there.
That a right-wing, Obama-hating news organization would admit a truth that doesn't make Obama look bad is admirable. That it chose to bury said truth in the 12th paragraph of an article is not.
This is yet more evidence of the failure of WND as a news organization. Given how big a deal the fake-birth-certificate story is in right-wing circles, shouldn't WND have made this investigation more prominent instead of dismissing it in a single paragraph buried in another article? It's yet another example where ideology trumps the facts.
Indeed, WND itself is guilty of promote the fake-birth-certificate story, having reported just three weeks earlier that "Israel Insider is reporting 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."
Israel Insider -- as we've detailed, a far-right, anti-Obama website just like WND -- is still pushing the story, criticizing a FactCheck.org that WND also cited as evidence that the story is bogus.
So, here's an integrity test for WND. Will it publish an article solely dedicated to detailing the results of its own investigation and specifically countering the claims of Israel Insider and its ilk? Will it deviate from its anti-Obama agenda long enough to be fully honest with its readers? Or will it bury this story and simply stop reporting on it, pretending it no longer exists even as its fellow right-wingers continue to promote it?
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"?
CNS Misleads on Climate Change Report Topic: CNSNews.com
An Aug. 26 CNSNews.com 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 misleadingclaims 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.
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 wroteafive-partseries 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.
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 factcheck.org 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.
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.