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Tuesday, October 7, 2008
CNS Won't Concede Obama Is A Christian

An Oct. 6 article by Julie Stahl -- which seems to have disappeared from the CNS site; a copy is here -- refuses to state as fact that Barack Obama is a Christian.

In claiming that "many" Israelis "have apparently been dissuaded by various fears about Obama among the concerns "some analysts" cited "are the fact that Obama’s middle name is 'Hussein,' which some say indicate he is a Muslim, although he says he is a Christian." In fact, Obama doesn't just "say" he's a Christian; he is one, and Stahl offers no evidence to the contrary -- Obama's middle name is irrelevant to the question. Stahl also fails to name any of the "some" are who "say" this about Obama.

Stahl doesn't even bother to back up her base claim, that "many" Israelis "have apparently been dissuaded by various fears about Obama."

Stahl further listed among these alleged concerns Obama's "willingness to negotiate without preconditions with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad [sic], who openly calls for the destruction of Israel." In fact, Obama never said he would "negotiate" with Ahmadinejad; he said that he would meet with Iranian leaders and that such a meeting "could include" Ahmadinejad.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, October 7, 2008 10:19 AM EDT
IBD Isn't Right-Wing Enough for Kincaid
Topic: Accuracy in Media

How far to the right is Cliff Kincaid? He's bashing Investor's Business Daily for not being conservative enough.

In an Oct. 5 Accuracy in Media column bashing "many of the 'conservatives' in the media" for being "not so conservative after all" because they supported the financial bailout even though it's a "socialist-style bailout scheme," Kincaid went after everyone from Fox News to the Weekly Standard, adding:

The situation is similar over at Investor’s Business Daily (IBD), whose conservative editorial page writers were pressured to endorse a swift federal takeover of the financial sector. As some observers noted, IBD’s “Time to Act” editorial, which backed the socialist-style Paulson plan, severely undercut the credibility of its own editorial series highlighting and criticizing the socialist proposals of Barack Obama. IBD forgot a basic lesson―that socialism is wrong, even when a few corporate Republicans support it for the benefit of Wall Street.

Funny, we figured that the basic lesson here is that Kincaid is so far to the right that he makes the hard-right IBD look liberal by comparison.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:38 AM EDT
Jack Cashill Conspiracy Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Jack Cashill is still hustling for his latest conspiracy, that William Ayers ghost-wrote Obama's book "Dreams From My Father."

His Sept. 25 column came these odd claims presented as evidence: "both [Ayers] and Obama are obsessed with memory and its instability," and both have used "nautical language," noting that Ayers once worked as a merchant seaman. Cashill concluded: "As a writer, especially in the pre-Google era of 'Dreams,' I would never have used a metaphor as specific as 'ballast' unless I knew exactly what I was talking about," suggesting without evidence that Obama would not have used it on his own, as if he had never seen ships while growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii.

In his Oct. 2 column, Cashill sounds disappointed that "the technology is not currently available to do a fully reliable authorship analysis," so again, he peddles his conspiracy, repeating once more the purported shared affininty for nautical references. He even ends his column the same way as the last one but this time stating directly what he had only implied previously: "As a writer, especially in the pre-Google era of 'Dreams,' I would never have used an image as specific as 'ballast' unless I knew exactly what I was talking about. Ayers knew. Obama did not."

He does note: "In Obama's defense, he did grow up in Hawaii. Still, he gives little hint of having spent time at the beach or on any kind of real ship, and yet his memoir is awash in aquatic imagery," adding:

Not everyone writes this way. For instance, my book "Sucker Punch," which is no small part a memoir about race, is silent on the subject of the sea.

"Sucker Punch" makes no reference at all, metaphorical or otherwise, to ships, seas, oceans, calms, storms, wind, waves, horizons, panoramas, or of things howling, fluttering, knotted, ragged, tangled, or murky. None.

This despite the fact that I have likely a deeper relationship with the sea than Obama, having spent a good chunk of every summer of my life at the ocean, and having a summer home on the boundless Lake Erie for the last 20 years.

But again, he has no evidence that Obama couldn't know any aquatic terms with enough familiarity to use them in his writing.

Which tells us where Cashill is at in peddling his little conspiracy -- and how seriously we should (not) take him.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:07 AM EDT
The MRC Still Hatin' On Dead Non-Conservative Journalists
Topic: Media Research Center

Back when NewsBusters first started up in 2005, we noticed the MRC's antipathy for deceased journalists who didn't toe the conservative line, refusing to give them an "RIP" designation, while conservative-friendly writers received such consideration.

The practice continues. An Oct. 4 NewsBusters post by Brent Baker on the recently deceased Osborn Elliott, former editor of Newsweek, bashes Elliott as "a reminder that the Angry Left populated the highest levels of the mainstream news media long before the blogosphere gave them new venues."

As Eric Boehlert at County Fair put it: stay classy, NewsBusters.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:42 AM EDT
Monday, October 6, 2008
HuffPo Volleys Back to MRC's Motley
Topic: Media Research Center

Huffington Post's Seth Colter Walls serves up the next chapter of the Seton Motley saga in a Oct. 5 article. Walls points out that evidence that undergirded the claim, advanced by both Motley and the Capital Research Center's Matthew Vadum, that Barack Obama was a lawyer for ACORN, is false because the Project Vote organization for which Obama did serve as a lawyer was not associated with ACORN until two years after Obama's work for the troup ended.

Walls also agrees with us that Motley's refusal to answer questions because they came from Obama's campaign -- which Motley claims is prohibited under the Media Research Center's  501(c)(3) tax status -- is bogus. The IRS states that a 501(c)(3) group "may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates; we fail to see where answering questions raised by a political campaign falls under that restriction.

Your move, Seton... 

Posted by Terry K. at 6:37 PM EDT
Topic: Newsmax

The Palm Beach Post profiles Newsmax in an Oct. 6 article. One of the interesting tidbits is that it confirms what we had heard but weren't able to document -- that Christopher Ruddy and Richard Mellon Scaife have bought out all other investors and are now the sole owners, with Ruddy as majority owner. (We were the first to report the details of Scaife's involvement in Newsmax back in 2002.)

Ruddy states that Newsmax and related ventures will produce about $25 million in revenue this year. Ruddy is also rather hyperbolically quoted as calling Newsmax "the Fox News of online."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:51 PM EDT
New Article: WorldNetDaily's Favorite Domestic Terrorist
Topic: WorldNetDaily
As WND is bashing Barack Obama for his purported ties to William Ayers, Joseph Farah, Aaron Klein and the gang are buddy-buddy with convicted felon and would-be murderer G. Gordon Liddy. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 1:34 AM EDT
Klein Hides Settler Leader's Criminal Record
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein reports that "A prominent leader of the West Bank's Jewish communities has accused Israel's security forces of orchestrating a recent attack on an extreme leftist Israeli professor and then using the attack to demonize West Bank Jews ahead of an expected evacuation of the territory," but fails to offer the background of the leader in question.

Klein wrote regarding the pipe bomb attack on that "extreme leftist Israeli professor," Zeev Sternhell:

Settler leader Daniela Weiss today charged the attack was orchestrated by Israel's Shin Bet Security Services to turn public opinion against the settlers.

"A settler would never have done a thing like that," Weiss said. "It's in Shin Bet's best interest to create this provocation, in order to libel the settlers and thereby pave the way to settlement evacuation."

What Klein doesn't tell you: Weiss' current criminal history. From an Oct. 3 Israel National News article:

Weiss was charged Friday with assaulting a police officer, interfering with legal proceedings and hindering a police officer in the performance of his duty. Police said she harassed and attacked police officers while resisting her own arrest. They also claimed that she "touched" a vehicle which earlier carried three Jews suspected of setting fire to an Arab olive grove at Kadum Thursday.

According to a report in Ynet, police claimed that they were in the process of dusting the car for fingerprints of the suspects and that by touching it repeatedly, Weiss was tampering with evidence. They also claimed that she resisted arrest by lying down under a vehicle and kicking police when they dragged her out from under it. They claim they were using "reasonable force."

Seven other Jews, besides Weiss and Shilo, were arrested after police tore down the outpost of Shvut Ami, near Kedumim. Police forces continued visiting the site of the outpost during the night and prevented youths from re-establishing the point of settlement.

Isn't Weiss' background relevant to the issue of allegations of violence and criminality among Jews in the West Bank, which Klein has been focused upon of late?

It's also worth noting that in all three of these articles, Klein makes sure to call Sternhell an "extreme leftist Israeli professor." What does his ideology haveto do with it? Is Klein saying the bombing was justified because of his beliefs? 

Also, Sternhell is the only person in any of those articles whom Klein has identified by political ideology, even though many of the settlers and their supporters (like Klein) are right-wingers. Indeed, the words "right" or "conservative" are found nowhwere in those articles.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:10 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 6, 2008 12:11 AM EDT
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Palin-Philia Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Sarah Palin won the debate with Joe Biden because she came across as the Ronald Reagan candidate.

Like Reagan, Palin projected pride in America, optimism about the future, and determination to reform the government and vanquish our enemies.

Like Reagan, she was at times self-deprecating. Like Reagan, she took a swipe at the mainstream media. And like Reagan, she made it clear she was not afraid to take views contrary to conventional wisdom in Washington.


Fittingly, Palin closed with a reference to Reagan saying that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction.

Palin’s performance confirmed McCain’s vice presidential choice. In the end, people make their decisions on whom to vote for based in large part on character and values. They want to know if the candidate is genuine.

In the St. Louis debate, Palin showed she is.

-- Ronald Kessler, Oct. 3 Newsmax column

Posted by Terry K. at 1:50 PM EDT
Aaron Klein Anti-Obama Agenda Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article, Aaron Klein tries to spin away a New York Times article that contradicts accusations by Klein and other Obama-haters of close, intimate ties between Barack Obama and William Ayers. Klein asserted that the Times "key documentation showing Ayers was directly involved in the formation of the board of an education organization on which Obama served as chairman."

In fact, the documentation in question proved nothing.

Klein cited "Steve Diamond, a political science and law professor and a blogger who has posted on Obama" -- Klein buddy and fellow Obama-hater John Batchelor has accused Diamond of dealing with him in a dishonest manner over a baseless allegation made by Diamond that Ayers is heading an Obama "plumbers" operation -- as claiming that a letter signed by Ayers and another person proves that "Ayers, who conceived and led the organization, submission and implementation of the [Chicago Annenberg Challenge] grant application, was viewed as responsible for composing the board on which Obama served." But the document in question does not mention Obama; it states only guidelines for the CAC board that states that "We are working ... on issues of management and governance to ensure that Chicago's Annenberg Challenge initiative is successful." It's circumstantial at best, despite Klein's and Diamond's assertion that it "proves Ayers was directly involved in forming the board and leadership of the CAC."

Klein goes on to assert that "Many argue it would have been unusual for Ayers not to have been involved in the selection of the chairman of the group he himself founded," but he doesn't name any of these "many" who "argue" this, or offer evidence that any of them are not Obama-haters like Klein himself.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:50 PM EDT
Motley Responds to HuffPo, Still Doesn't Make Sense
Topic: Media Research Center

The MRC's Seton Motley used an Oct. 4 NewsBusters post to respond to the Huffington Post article by Seth Colter Walls about Motley's appearance on "Fox & Friends" in which he spewed apaprently false claims about Barack Obama's relationship with ACORN (as we've previously noted). Motley claimed that Walls is "lying" about the MRC:

I was indeed, in the spirit of ingenuous cooperation, "all ears." At the OUTSET of the call, when NO indication as to the content of the questions was yet made known to me. I "abruptly refused to engage in depth" with him the moment I learned of what his queries consisted. Here's why.

As Walls wrote, I said that "(t)he name of our group is Media Research Center," and that we analyze the media. He omitted what I said next, which was that examining the media is our sole mission because we, as a 501(c)3 organization (on the phone, I said something like "by our charter"), are prohibited from doing anything like "respond(ing) to challenges from the Obama campaign."

Leaving out the additional information I provided allowed Walls to paint me as unreasonably unresponsive and uncooperative. I was in fact quite accommodating.

Motley additionally claimed that "most of my information came from Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center," which wrote "an investigative opus on Sen. Obama and his left-wing ties" that "is thoroughly researched, comprehensive and very well written." Motley further stated that he told Walls to contact Vadum, which he claims Walls did not do.

And what does that report say about the CAC? That it's "a non-partisan education and research organization, classified by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity." So, by Motley's standard, Vadum would have had to have taken the same comment-avoidance dive that Motley did.

We're still confused, though: We understand that 501(c)(3) groups are not permitted to engage in explicit partisan political activity, but where exactly in the 501(c)(3) code does it say that a 501(c)(3) can't even respond to questions raised by a political organization about said group's accuracy? (Disclosure: Our day job is with a 501(c)(3) group, but ConWebWatch is entirely separate from it.)

And somehow this law, which purportedly forbids Motley from answering questions froma political campaign, also permits one of its employees on one of its websites to cheer on one political candidate's negative attacks on another? We're confused.

Motley is obfuscating about this, taking refuge in tax law in order to keep from answering simple questions. That still makes him a bit of a coward.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:11 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, October 5, 2008 1:22 AM EDT
Saturday, October 4, 2008
WND Again Promote False Obama Birth Certificate Claim -- Which WND Has Debunked
Topic: WorldNetDaily

After WorldNetDaily debunked the idea that Barack Obama has faked his birth certificate, we wondered if WND would continue to point out that there is no basis to the claim or prentend it never debunked it in the first place.

We have our answer, and it's not the former.

An Oct. 4 WND article by Drew Zahn promoted a lawsuit by "prominent Pennsylvania Democrat and attorney Philip J. Berg" demanding that Obama "produce authorized proof of citizenship." Zahn wrote: "Despite assertions by the Washington Post, and other organizations that Obama has produced a certified Hawaiian birth certificate, Berg told WND he remains '99.99 percent sure' that the certificate is a fake and he wants a court, not a website, to determine its validity."

Zahn failed to note that among those "other organizations" that have debunked the claim is ... WorldNetDaily. Zahn said so himself in a Aug. 23 article about Berg's lawsuit:

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.

Either Zahn is so stupid he can't remember what he originally wrote about the Berg lawsuit, or he is so dishonest that he will lie to his readers about his own employer demonstrating that Berg's lawsuit has any sort of merit. Either way, he has no business presenting himself as a journalist.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:21 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, October 4, 2008 10:21 AM EDT
Seton Motley, Coward
Topic: Media Research Center

In an Oct. 3 appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends -- which followed the template by not appearing solo and not identifying him as a conservative -- MRC director of communications Seton Motley made numerous claims about Barack Obama's relationship to the group ACORN:

MOTLEY: Barack Obama has three stages of connection with [ACORN], and this probably why the media doesn't want to talk about it. He was a lawyer for the organization. He then served his years as a trainer of activists for the organization. And when he was named chairman of the board by terrorist William Ayers to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, they funneled money to, amongst many other places, ACORN. So there's three stages of relationship with them.

As the Huffington Post's Seth Colter Walls details, the Republican National Committee later emailed out the segment to its list of reporters. But as Walls also points out, Motley got his facts wrong. According to the Obama campaign, Obama was never a lawyer for ACORN, though he did represent a coalition of groups that included ACORN in one case, nor did he ever serve  as an ACORN organizer or trainer.

It's not suprising that an MRC employee got the facts wrong (as Motley has). What is surprising, however, is what Motley did when Walls asked him about it:

Seton Motley, reached at his Media Research Center office Friday afternoon, abruptly refused to engage in depth with the Obama camp's response to his Fox & Friends segment (after first saying "I'm all ears").

Asked whether he would similarly condemn the Justice Department for joining ACORN in the suit against Illinois, he said, "well, yes I would, but that's not the issue." Before the Obama spokesman's other charges could be detailed, Motley put the brakes on the conversation. "The name of our group is Media Research Center," he said, noting that the only purpose of his effort on Fox was to draw attention to a lack of stories on the matter. "I'm not going to be able to respond to challenges from the Obama campaign."

Instead, Motley recommended that any interested person check out Stanley Kurtz's long article from May in the National Review -- headlined "Inside Obama's Acorn."

But while Kurtz's piece is stuffed with innuendo and plausible-sounding arguments that ACORN and Obama share some broad political objectives, it notably does not prove that Obama ever worked for the group, helped them organize, knew about any instances of voter fraud, or condoned their controversial demonstration tactics.

In fact, the article sometimes suggests the opposite. "Does that mean Obama himself schooled Acorn volunteers in disruptive 'direct action?' Not necessarily," Kurtz judges. Pretty spicy stuff. Elsewhere, when trying to compare Obama's community organizing work to that of ACORN, Kurtz can only manage a weak equivalence: "Part of Obama's work, it would appear, was to organize demonstrations, much in the mold of radical groups like Acorn."

Huh? Why does Motley refuse to accept responsibility for his own words? How does being the Media Research Center preclude Motley from offering evidence to back up his claims or apologizing for getting them wrong, simply because the Obama campaign is trying to correct him? Is he taking refuge in some arcane regulation purportedly governing what nonprofit entitites like the MRC do? (The MRC is a 501(c)3 "non profit research and education foundation.")

If Motley would like to instruct us on the finer points of nonprofit regulations, be our guest. Until he can plausibly explain himself, we will consider him to be a gutless coward. Doesn't being the MRC's director of communications require that one, you know, communicate?

UPDATE: Motley responds to HuffPo here, and we examine it here.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:09 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, October 5, 2008 1:12 AM EDT
Friday, October 3, 2008
CNS Ignores Armstrong Williams' Conflict of Interest Scandal

An Oct. 2 article by Matt Hadro criticizing vice presidential debate moderator Gwen Ifill for purporting writing a "pro-Obama book" states: "Armstrong Williams, conservative talk show radio host, told Fox News that the book deal 'brings her credibility in doing this into question.'" But Hadro fails to note Williams' own history of conflict of interest: He received $240,000 in federal money to promote the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" policy in his columns and on his TV show, which he failed to disclose at the time.

Hadro also failed to note the apparent conflicts of interest upcoming presidential debate moderators Tom Brokaw and Bob Schieffer have with the McCain campaign and President Bush, respectively.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:24 PM EDT
Did Michael Reagan's Daughter Get A Mortgage She Can't Afford?
Topic: Newsmax

In attacking "fear-mongering" regarding the financial bailout in his Oct. 2 Newsmax column, Michael Reagan complained of "attempts to panic us into believing that the banks had no money to lend, and credit was dried up and loans were almost impossible to get," adding:

We knew that was untrue because our daughter, Ashley, had just qualified and easily obtained a mortgage on a $360,000 townhouse from a small local bank. The bank had foreclosed on the house and was stuck with a defaulted mortgage of $560,000. Ashley, who is 25 and a schoolteacher, got the townhouse for $200,000 under what the bank held in bad paper.

How can a 25-year-old teacher -- who typically don't make all that much money and is likely paying off student loans to boot -- afford to by a $360,000 townhouse? What is she getting paid? Did dad co-sign and/or put up a sizable down payment? Because we're pretty sure the typical 25-year-old teacher could not get a mortgage by herself, period, let alone one for a $360,000 house (which, by the way, is well above the national median home price).

Let's say that, for the sake of argument, that Reagan's daughter put up a $60,000 down payment, which would give her a $300,000 mortgage. At the time we checked, a $300,000 30-year fixed loan in California (where we presume Reagan's daughter lives) carried an annual interest rate of 6.22%.Plugging those numbers into a payment calculator, that gives us a monthly payment of $1,841. Lenders typically recommend that a mortgage not exceed approximately 28 percent of total income.

25-year-olds are historically not excellent credit risks, and teaching, especially for those just starting out in the profession like Reagan's daughter is, is not a historically well-paying job. The only logical conclusions for the existence of this mortgage:

  • It's not as big as the typical mortgage because of an unusually large down payment due to a contribution by Michael Reagan, or perhaps an inheritance from her grandfather;
  • the daughter is making an extraordinary amount of money for a teacher just a few years out of college; or
  • Michael Reagan, who is presumably better paid and thus a better credit risk, has co-signed the mortgage.

What we're saying is that there are clearly extenuating circumstances surrounding this mortgage that Reagan hasn't told us about. We seriously doubt that a 25-year-old single teacher who is not Michael Reagan's daughter could get that same mortgage.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:34 PM EDT

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