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Wednesday, September 3, 2008
NewsBusters' Double Standard on AP Candidate Advice
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Aug. 27 NewsBusters post, P.J. Gladnick was complaining that the Associated Press "flat out offered helpful campaign tips to Barack Obama," to which Gladnick added, "I don't know why these AP writers don't just go on the Obama campaign payroll."

Well, there's a new AP article out, and it's offering helpful campaign tips to ...  John McCain.

Will Gladnick urge the writer of this article to join the McCain campaign payroll? Don't count on it. 

Posted by Terry K. at 11:09 AM EDT
Newsmax's Hirsen Puffs Up Palin's 'Sports Reporter' Experience
Topic: Newsmax

Here's a fun piece of desperate Palin puffery, courtesy of James Hirsen in his Sept. 2 Newsmax column:

Sarah Palin's Reporter Experience Gives Mainstream Media the Jitters

Prior to serving in elective office, Sarah Palin, John McCain's pick for his running mate, was a sports reporter.

Known by her maiden name, Sarah Heath, she worked for KTUU, an affiliate of NBC in Anchorage, Alaska.

Having been a point guard in high school basketball, Palin was able to handle play-by-play analysis of college basketball games. She also reported on other sports including the Iditarod dog sled race.

According to People magazine, she once admonished former L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to relax more.

Palin's experience as a journalist should really come in handy when the mainstream press start brandishing their long knives, hoping for the Alaska governor to make a geographic error or mispronounce the name of an obscure world leader.

So, Palin's couple years of work 20 years back as a sports reader for a local TV station in Alaska is supposed to give "the mainstream press" and longtime reporters for national news organizations the "jitters" ... how, exactly?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:12 AM EDT
New Article: Joseph Farah vs. WorldNetDaily
Topic: WorldNetDaily
If the WND founder is so committed to his "None of the Above" campaign opposing both Barack Obama and John McCain, why is his website's news coverage attacking only Obama while promoting McCain's campaign talking points? Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:30 AM EDT
Kincaid Peddles False Obama Birth Certificate Claim, Misleads on Palin 'Troopergate'
Topic: Accuracy in Media

From Cliff Kincaid's Sept. 2 Accuracy in Media column:

DailyKos got the leak from the Obama campaign of the candidate’s alleged birth certificate, an announcement intended to put to rest all of the questions about whether Obama is a natural-born citizen and passes the basic constitutional requirement to be president. Is the document real? I have not seen any investigative reporters from the major media assigned to this story. Instead, they’re sniffing around Palin’s family, which is something they had no desire to do while John Edwards was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife. 

In contrast to the Palin story, which will probably continue for weeks, the Obama birth certificate controversy has been left alone by the major media. They have simply assumed¯because they favor his candidacy¯that Obama, with a history of being moved from country to country under different names, is a legitimate U.S. citizen. A lawsuit has been filed challenging Obama’s qualifications to be president and some bloggers say the birth certificate is a fraud. But it’s not an issue for the major media. They would rather examine photos of Bristol Palin’s tummy.

In fact, the Obama birth certificate has been investigated and declared authentic by sources ranging from to WorldNetDaily. It's only far-right nutters like Kincaid and Israel Insider that are still pedding this soundly discredited claim.

Kincaid also misleadingly oversimplifies Palin's "troopergate" controversy, claiming it is only about Palin being "under investigation for trying to fire a state trooper who threatened members of her family," adding, " trying to fire a trooper who threatened your family doesn’t strike most people as improper or illegal." Josh Marshall provides the full context, pointing out that the trooper in question is Palin's ex-brother-in-law "who's embroiled in a bitter custody and divorce battle with Palin's sister":

Most people who are familiar with the ugliness that often spills out of custody and divorce cases know to take accusations arising out of the course of them with a grain of salt unless you know a lot about the people involved. And if you look closely at the case there are numerous reasons to question the picture drawn by the Palin family.


The Palin family had a feud with Wooten prior to her becoming governor. They put together a list of 14 accusations which they took to the state police to investigate -- a list that ranged from the quite serious to the truly absurd. The state police did an investigation, decided that 5 of the charges had some merit and suspended Wooten for ten days -- a suspension later reduced to five days. The Palin's weren't satisfied but there wasn't much they could do.

When Palin became governor they went for another bite at the apple.


The available evidence now suggests that she 1) tried to have an ex-relative fired from his job for personal reasons, something that was clearly inappropriate, and perhaps illegal, though possibly understandable in human terms, 2) fired a state official for not himself acting inappropriately by firing the relative, 3) lied to the public about what happened and 4) continues to lie about what happened.

Will Kincaid tell his readers the full truth about Palin's "troopergate"? We'd do it ourselves, but AIM has shut off the comment thread for Kincaid's column. Why? Perhaps because Kincaid's tired of AIM commenters confronting him with actual facts (as the lengthy comment thread on this Aug. 27 Kincaid column illustrates).

Posted by Terry K. at 12:13 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Meanwhile ...
Topic: Media Research Center

CJR notes that it was just a few short months ago that the Media Research Center was complaining that the media was paying too little attention to Sarah Palin's kids.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:09 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 11:09 PM EDT
Obama Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Another of my late grandmother's many sayings was: "Sometimes it's hard to tell which is worse – the smell from the pile in the pasture or the flies it draws." Thus, in 21 words, she summed up my thoughts, feelings and disgust for the Obamas and their view of America.

Mychal Massie, Sept. 2 WorldNetDaily column

Posted by Terry K. at 4:40 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 5:53 PM EDT
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.

Is there a difference? We don't see one.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:16 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 4:20 PM EDT
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."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:37 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 11:36 PM EDT
CNS Uncritically Repeats False McCain Claim
A Sept. 1 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.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:19 AM EDT
Ron Kessler McCain-Fluffing Watch
Topic: Newsmax

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EDT
Monday, September 1, 2008
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?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:41 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, September 1, 2008 5:43 PM EDT
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 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?

We shall see.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:30 AM EDT
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

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