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Friday, September 19, 2008
Kessler Hides Background of Notorious Push-Poller
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 17 Newsmax column by Ronald Kessler begins: "Most polls may be overstating Barack Obama’s support by 5 to 10 percentage points because those surveyed may not be telling the truth about voting for him, ad executive Gabe Joseph III tells Newsmax." Kessler describes Joseph only as "president of ccAdvertising, which conducts polls for a range of candidates and members of Congress."

Turns out Joseph's background is much more interesting -- and notorious -- than that. As TPM Muckraker detailed, Joseph "may be the king of the push poll, in which real-sounding questions with ludicrous premises are asked to plant negative ideas in voters' minds." His company, ccAdvertising, was founded by former Reagan administration official Donald Hodel and has solid Republican ties. TPM continues:

As might be expected of an outfit that profits off of convincing people not to vote, ccAdvertising plays rough. Mother Jones reveals that Joseph once boasted of his firm's ability to "deliver a voter suppression message" to unfriendly voters. And as much as Joseph enjoys talking about the reach of his company's technology, he's not above threatening reporters: "If someone writes something that I don't like, I can make their life—I can make them understand a few things if I choose."

How would you know if you received one of the millions of calls ccAdvertising has made on behalf of clients, all Republican, in the past few months? A robo voice might have asked you, "Do you believe that foreign terrorists should have the same legal rights as American citizens?" or told you that your local Democrat "voted to allow the sale of a broad range of violent and sexually explicit materials to minors."


As hard as ccAdvertising works to smother its targeted voters with calls, it also works to cloak its identity. So if you get a call from ccAdvertising, you won't know it's them. Although the calls tend to disclose through which organization the call was ordered, the name on a recipient's caller ID is generic-sounding, like "Election Research" or, as in the case of the recent calls to Maryland and Tennessee, "P RSRCH 2006." The company maintains a stable of business aliases like those to stay anonymous. It even went so far as to make calls in a couple states under another business' name.

Joseph is unapologetic about his product. "There's no more effective free speech tool than what we do," Joseph told Mother Jones. "That's why people complain. Because we're effective. If it wasn't effective, nobody would say anything."

Yet Kessler wants you to think Joseph is a legitimate pollster. Then again, Kessler sold out his principles in the name of Republican loyalty, so he's not exactly a legitimate reporter.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:07 AM EDT
Thursday, September 18, 2008
MRC Still Hates That Anyone Dares Question Palin
Topic: Media Research Center

As we've noted, the Media Research Center is appalled that anyone would fact-check Sarah Palin and is, in turn, trying to discredit the fact-checkers.

A Sept. 18 MRC CyberAlert item by Brent Baker keeps it up, complaining that of five presumed misstatements by Palin" cited by NRC, "two were remarks made by Palin 'aides,' not Palin herself," and "one, the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' was already dissected eight days ago on the same newscast."

Of course, the "Bridge to Nowhere" claim needs to be continually debunked because Palin keeps saying it.

Baker also wrote:

Up first, how Palin asserted "my job has been to oversee nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas." [NBC's Savannah] Guthrie pounced: "She's wrong. Alaska accounts for only 3.5 percent of America's total energy production, 7.5 percent of oil and gas." Unmentioned by NBC: How the Alaska Resource Development Council's Web site has stated: "Alaska's oil and gas industry" accounts "for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production."

Baker then goes into a long explanation of where Palin took her 20 percent number from, and how the Alaska Resource Development Council's website now states that Alaska's oil and gas industry accounted "for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production (1980 - 2000). Currently, Alaska accounts for nearly 15% of U.S. production."

Baker downplayed the fact that Palin also said that Alaska "produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy," which Guthrie notes Palin has "refined a bit this week" to refer to "oil and gas." (It's in the transcript that Baker attached to the item, though.)

While Baker cited a article on the issue to support his claim, he failed to note that also stated: "Alaska's share of domestic energy production was 3.5 percent, according to the official figures kept by the U.S. Energy Information Administration."

So Baker cut Palin slack for citing numbers from a state website that even he admits "promotes development of Alaska's natural resources" -- and therefore, has an interest in promoting optimistic numbers -- and promotes a slightly more accurate number by that same group to make Palin look like less of an exaggerator. This is the MRC's idea of how a "fact-check" should be?

Posted by Terry K. at 6:58 PM EDT
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Richard Bartholomew points out that a Sept. 16 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein with the alarmist headline "What? Israel to help Muslims carve Quranic verses on Temple Mount" was actually about a plan to "repair and enhance" verses that already exist on and around the the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

And Media Matters notes that Jerome Corsi is still peddling the idea that the released version of Barack Obama's birth certificate is forged -- even though his own employer has thoroughly debunked the claim.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:47 PM EDT
CNS Headline Baselessly Attacks AP

The headline stuck on a Sept. 18 Associated Press article about hackers breaking into a Yahoo! email account that Sarah Palin used for official Alaska state business reads: "Palin's Emails Hacked: A.P. Won't Help Secret Service." That apparently is derived from the following paragraph in the article:

The Secret Service contacted The Associated Press on Wednesday and asked for copies of the leaked e-mails, which circulated widely on the Internet. The AP did not comply.

Given that the leaked emails were "circulated widely on the Internet" -- and given that the AP had no apparent role in the hacking beyond reprinting what the emails said -- why does the AP need to give copies of them to the Secret Service? CNS offers no evidence that the AP had access to any information beyond what was "circulated widely," so it has no real basis to accuse the AP of failing to "help" the Secret Service.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:12 PM EDT
Corsi Ignores McCain's Ties to Fannie, Freddie
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 17 WorldNetDaily article by Jerome Corsi makes a big deal out of Barack Obama taking money from people connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and having former Fannie/Freddie execs as advisers. "In contrast," Corsi writes, "McCain warned of the coming mortgage crisis as he pressed in 2005 for regulatory reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

Nowhere does Corsi bother to mention that John McCain has similar connections to Fannie and Freddie:

  • McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was president of the Homeownership Alliance, a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-led advocacy group which has tried to fend off regulation sought by large private banks and mortgage lenders -- the kind of regulation Davis' boss supports now.
  • Aquiles Suarez, an economic adviser to McCain, was formerly the director of government and industry relations for Fannie Mae. Top McCain aides Charlie Black, Wayne Berman, John Green and  Arther B. Culvahouse Jr. have all lobbied for Fannie and/or Freddie. 
  • While numbers cited by Corsi showed that McCain received $21,500 in donations from those connected with Fannie and Freddie (compared with $126,000 received by Obama), a separate New York Times count found that McCain has received $169,000 from Fannie/Freddie folks.

Of course, if WND actually followed through on boss Joseph Farah's "none of the above" advice, Corsi would have actually noted all this. 

Corsi even slips in a long-debunked attack on Jamie Gorelick, a former Fannie Mae vice chairman:

Gorelick was embroiled in another controversy over an alleged conflict of interest when a 1995 memo she authored as deputy attorney general surfaced while she was a member of the 9/11 commission.

The memo, which became known as the "Gorelick Wall," appeared to establish barriers that barred federal anti-terrorist criminal investigators from accessing various federal records and databases that may have assisted them in their criminal investigations.

In fact, as we've repeatedly noted, that "wall" was first created in 1978, Gorelick's memo actually permitted freer guidelines regarding the exchange of information than what was eventually approved, and John Ashcroft's Justice Department formally reaffirmed those guidelines in August 2001.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:19 AM EDT
New Article: The Palin Brigade
Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb had a mission: Make Sarah Palin look good despite the facts, and impugn the motives of her critics. Mission accomplished. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:40 AM EDT
WND Making Excuses for Palin
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Further conflicting with Joseph Farah's "none of the above" credo, WorldNetDaily is endeavoring to explain away various scandals surrounding Sarah Palin.

A Sept. 16 article by Chelsea Schilling suggested that Palin -- who "has a pro-life voting record and has not indicated support for the morning-after pill" -- was correct to make rape victims pay for police evidence-collection kits because they include "emergency contraception." Schilling then repeats a claim by Feminists for Life, of which Palin is a member, that emergency contraception medications Preven and Plan B "actually act as an abortifacient in many cases by preventing the implantation of an already-fertilized human embryo."

In fact, according to Amanda Marcotte at RH Reality Check, emergency contraception "works the same way as the birth control pill by suppressing ovulation" and, thus, is not an abortifacient since a fertilized egg is not involved.

Another Sept. 16 article by Bob Unruh uncritically repeated claims by the conservative Liberty Legal Institute -- which Unruh describes only as a "Texas law firm" -- that an Alaska investigation into Palin's firing of Alaska public safety commissioner Walt Monegan, allegedly for not firing a state trooper involved in a contentious divorce with Palin's sister, has "lost the appearance of impartiality required under the Alaska Constitution."

Unruh wrote that Palin "has said Monegan declined to cooperate with her budgetary plan for the state and was insubordinate," but didn't note that this is, as TPM Muckraker details, "the third substantive explanation given by Palin for that departure. And, to one degree or another, all those explanations contradict each other." Unruh also writes that "She has said Monegan himself has confirmed that she never asked him to fire the trooper," but not that, according to the Anchorage Daily News, an audio recording shows an aide to Palin "pressuring the Public Safety Department to fire a state trooper embroiled in a custody battle with her sister."

Unruh also plays the idiot messenger here, never bothering to explain why a "Texas law firm" that claims a mission to "protect religious freedoms and First Amendment rights for individuals, groups and churches" would get involved in a state-level dispute in Alaska that does not involve religious freedom. Nor does Unruh ask who is funding the legal work of the Liberty Legal Institute in this case. But incomplete, one-sided reporting is how Unruh rolls.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:17 AM EDT
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
MRC Misstated Gore Then, Defends McCain Now
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 17 NewsBusters post by Jeff Poor complained that an NBC report noting McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin's claim that the BlackBerry was "the miracle that John McCain helped create" didn't also "explore McCain's work on the Commerce committee and any influence he may have had over technological innovations."

By contrast, the MRC quickly distorted Al Gore's 1999 claim that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet" as a congressman into the false assertion that Gore said he "invented the Internet" (as it did in a June 1999 CyberAlert) while ignoring "any influence he may have had over technological innovations." The MRC did its best to perpetuate the falsehood:

  • A February 2000 "Media Reality Check" by Tim Graham complained that Tom Brokaw "did not report Gore's claim to have invented the Internet." Why would he? That's not what he said.
  • An April 2000 "MagazineWatch" by Paul Smith stated: "If Gergen seriously believes people will miss Clinton’s science speeches, he must also believe that Al Gore did invent the Internet."
  • Brent Bozell asserted in a June 2000 column: "Gore portrays himself as the technical genius who invented the Internet."

And Bozell tried to change the subject in an October 2000 column complaining about anyone who tried to correct the record:

He didn't really say he "invented the Internet," they complain, he "took the initiative in creating it." The real point here isn't the complete lack of distinction between "inventing" and "creating" the Internet. It's that Gore said this on March 9, 1999, to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, and Blitzer didn't even blink. He didn't follow up. His eyebrows didn't even move. He just asked another question. The statement went completely unreported on television for ten days. 

A June 2000 CyberAlert referenced "Gore's Internet invention claim."

The MRC clearly wants to keep Holtz-Eakins' claim from turning into a "McCain invented the BlackBerry" meme. Too bad it couldn't be bothered to hold themselves to a similiar standard of accuracy in discussing Gore's claim.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:55 PM EDT
Palin-Philia Watch
Topic: Newsmax

The nomination of Sarah Palin is now the Hungarian Revolution and Six-Day War of American Christians. A mother who chooses not to abort a child with Down's Syndrome. An unashamed believer in God who un-apologetically participates in the all-day-singing-and-dinner-on-the-ground style of country-and-peasant Christianity. This is primordially thrilling to millions of Christians who had grown accustomed to derision and humiliating exile to the back of the American cultural and political bus with no relief, no allies and no redemption this side of heaven.

Make no mistake. The very nomination of Sarah Palin is the revolver in the hand of the [Warsaw] Ghetto Jew and the Molotov cocktail in the hand of the Hungarian Freedom Fighter. If I, as a Jew, am enjoying this dramatic payback, what must the Christians be feeling?

-- Barry Farber, Sept. 16 Newsmax column

Posted by Terry K. at 1:47 PM EDT
NewsBusters: Vulcan Hand Sign = Support for Gay Marriage
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 16 NewsBusters post by Kyle Drennan is headlined, "CBS's Rodriguez Shows Support for Gay Marriage." And how exactly did CBS "Early Show" co-host Maggie Rodriguez perform such a sinister act? Drennen explains:

On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed ‘Star Trek’ actor George Takei and his partner Brad Altman about their wedding following California legalizing gay marriage and asked: "George, how was the wedding? Was it everything you dreamed of?" At the end of the segment, Takei declared: "And may sweet equality live long and prosper," making the Star Trek Vulcan hand sign. Rodriguez showed her solidarity, making the hand sign back and replying: "Let me do it. Same to you." [boldface in original]

No, Rodriguez could not possibly have been a fangirl who couldn't pass up the opportunity to do the Vulcan hand sign with a real, live "Star Trek" actor. Drennen wants you to believe that endorsement of gay marriage was the only possible interpretation.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:21 AM EDT
Newsmax Overly Defends McCain on Computer Use
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 16 Newsmax article by Tim Collie claims that "A campaign ad mocking Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s computer literacy is backfiring on Democratic rival Barack Obama in some very painful ways," going on to assert: "While McCain himself has often joked about his ignorance of email and phone texting, the Vietnam veteran rarely goes into the reason: his hands and fingers were shattered by wartime torture, making it painful to keyboard for any length of time."

In fact, McCain has repeatedly professed his computer illiteracy and has apparently never cited his war injuries in doing so. Further, it responded to Obama's ad not by citing war wounds but by asserting that "John McCain travels with a laptop." Indeed, there are assistive devices out there -- i.e., voice activation -- that allow one to communicate with a computer without a keyboard.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:47 AM EDT
CNS Misleads About Obama's Position on Abortion Law

A Sept. 16 article by Fred Lucas incompletely details Barack Obama's position against an Illinois law "protecting babies who survived abortions."

After noting that Obama had said he opposed the Illinois law because it did not match a federal law on the subject, Lucas noted that "The 2003 version of the state proposal mirrored the federal law in that it had specific language stating that nothing in that law should be construed to undermine the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision."

But as Media Matters noted, a state law containing the same language as the federal law would not have offered the same protection because, as Planned Parenthood has pointed out, there are no federal laws regarding abortion but there are state laws, and a state law that declared it was not "undermining" Roe v. Wade would also need to state it was also not undermining state abortion regulations as well.

Lucas also failed to note Obama's other defense for not supporting a "born alive" law -- that it was unnecessary because the behavior it banned was already illegal.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Irvine Likes Racist Waffles
Topic: Accuracy in Media

A Sept. 15 Accuracy in Media blog post by Don Irvine endorses "Obama Waffles," recently busted at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit for using racial stereotypes to depict Barack Obama.

"The FRC should lighten up and quit bowing to the politically correct mainstream media," Irvine wrote. "If this was so offensive to them then why did they let them vemd [sic] in the first place?" Irvine then adds a link to the Obama Waffles website so readers can "support these entrepreneurs."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:52 PM EDT
Newsmax Columnist Hurls False Obama Claims
Topic: Newsmax

A Sept. 16 Newsmax column by James Humes -- "a former presidential speechwriter" who is now "Schuck Fellow and Visiting Historian at the University of Colorado/Colorado Springs" -- wrote of "Barack Hussein Obama, who was schooled in Kenya home of his Islam-raised father, who had four wives."

In fact, Obama did not visit Kenya until he was 26 years old, in 1988.

Humes also falsely claims that "the jailed racketeer Tony Rezko gave [Obama] a sweetheart deal on buying his house." In fact, the sellers of the house Obama have said they did not cut their asking price because Rezko bought the adjacent lot.

We've previously noted Humes' factually challenged writing. And this guy professes to be a historian?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:09 PM EDT
WND, Newsmax Embrace Claim By Documented Liar
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 15 WorldNetDaily article and a Sept. 16 Newsmax article by Phil Brennan repeated a claim --  made in a New York Post column by Amir Taheri -- that Barack Obama purportedly "has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence." (Brennan also spells Taheri's name wrong.) But neither WND nor Brennan noted Taheri's history of dubious claims.

As we've detailed, Taheri claimed in May 2006 that the Iranian parliament passed a law "that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims." After that quickly made its way around the right-wing Internet, the story was just as quickly debunked, and the paper where Taheri published the claim, Canada's National Post, issued a retraction. WND had noted the spuriousness of Taheri's claim at the time, and Newsmax noted its retraction -- which makes it strange that they would so unquestioningly embrace Taheri's new claim.

TPM Muckraker also notes a review of 1989 book by Taheri pointing out that it "repeatedly refers us to books where the information cited does not exist," and is "capable of generalizations of breathtaking sweep and inaccuracy."

WND followed up with a Sept. 16 article claiming that the Obama campaign's "angry denial" of Taheri's report "essentially confirmed the story." Well, no.

The Obama campaign said that "Barack Obama has consistently called for any Strategic Framework Agreement to be submitted to the U.S. Congress so that the American people have the same opportunity for review as the Iraqi Parliament," and "has never urged a delay in negotiations, nor has he urged a delay in immediately beginning a responsible drawdown of our combat brigades." Taheri, if you'll recall, specifically accused the Obama campaign of negotiating in private with Iraqi leaders, which -- despite what WND wants you to think -- isn't "confirmed" by the Obama statement.

WND again failed to report Taheri's dubious history, or that the Obama campaign also stated that Taheri confused the Strategic Framework Agreement with a separate Status of Forces agreement.

UPDATE: FrontPageMag reprints Taheri's original piece. There's no mention anywhere else at FrontPageMag of Taheri's fact-challenged record.

UPDATE 2: A Sept. 16 NewsBusters post by John Stephenson also repeats Taheri's claim without noting Taheri's fact-challenged record. NewsBusters, if you'll recall, was among the biggest promoters of Taheri's 2006 claim while burying its retraction in an update to the post five days later.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:26 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 3:27 PM EDT

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