MRC Falsely Portrays Coverage of Shoe-Thrower Topic: Media Research Center
A Dec. 16 MRC CyberAlert item (and NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker, under the headline "CBS and ABC Tout Shoe-Thrower as 'Celebrity' and 'Folk Hero,'" confuses reporting facts with taking sides by falsely framing the the TV networks as celebrating the guy who threw his shoes at President Bush. But it's clear from the reports Baker excerpts that the networks are reporting on the thrower's popularity in Iraq, which even Baker tacitly admits between the lines.
Usually rude protesters who disrupt events by throwing objects at state leaders don't earn media celebrations, but instead of being embarrassed by their Iraqi media colleague who, as he spewed venomous hatreds, dangerously threw his shoes at President Bush on Sunday in Baghdad, ABC and CBS on Monday night championed his popularity amongst Iraqis. ABC put "Folk Hero?" on screen as fill-in anchor Elizabeth Vargas trumpeted how Muntathar al-Zaidi has "become an instant celebrity to many of his countrymen" while CBS anchor Katie Couric hailed how "many Iraqis are calling him a hero" before reporter Elizabeth Palmer snidely concluded: "Al-Zaidi should do jail time, said the Iraqi bloggers, because he missed."
From London, ABC's Jim Sciutto maintained: "Shoes have become a new symbol of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. And the Iraqi reporter who threw them, Muntathar al-Zaidi, a folk hero." Sciutto touted how "more than 100 lawyers volunteered to defend him. It was a heroic way to say goodbye to Bush, said one Iraqi." Though Sciutto at least noted how "some Iraqis are embarrassed," he countered: "Still, in news coverage, on new fan Web sites, in Arabic text messages, the overwhelming sentiment: giddy satisfaction."
CBS Palmer, also from afar in London, asserted "al-Zaidi's become an instant hero. Today, thousands demonstrated for his release."
Once more, to make it clear to Baker: The networks are reporting what happened in Iraq. Baker's the one spinning facts into bias -- but that's the skewed tunnel vision through which the MRC views everything.
Indeed, the MRC is quite put on that the media is even reporting this at all. Posts on NewsBusters highlight the coverage without pointing out any factual errors -- which tells us that they object to any coverage of it.
Caruba: Get Off My Lawn, Damn Kids! Topic: CNSNews.com
In his Dec. 15 CNSNews.com column, Alan Caruba takes time out from lying about global warming to complain about kids today, with their computers and their casual sexes and their voting for Obama:
While growing up, the Millennials led a busy, structured life in the 90s and this first decade of a new century. Their parents were devoted to them and the feeling was returned. They were told they were smart and to be inclusive and tolerant of all races, religions and sexual orientations. They were accustomed to being team players and they took being connected 24/7 for granted via cell phones and the Internet. This was a generation that was thoroughly nurtured.
It was and is a generation that was deep-fried in every environmental notion, no matter that its science was lacking or deliberately false. Surrounded by the benefits of technology, they have been told that much of it threatens the future of the planet.
As their parents came of age in the Reagan era of the 1980s, they grew up during the feckless years of the Clinton administration, questioning their parents about the sexual dalliance of the President while deluged with cultural messages that casual sex called “hooking up” was acceptable.
When George W. Bush became President, they would witness, not only 9/11, but the governmental debacle in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the torment of a strange “war against terror” being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. At home, there was no terror, but few would or could make any connection between those active conflicts and the steady degrading of the threat al Qaeda represents.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the Millennials were entranced by the message of “change” offered by President-elect Obama, excited by the prospect of electing the first Afro-American President, and expecting, as my New Orleans friends like to say, to let the good times roll on.
Norman Thomas, a former U.S. Socialist Party candidate for President in the 1940s, predicted that, “The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But, under the name of ‘liberalism’, they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”
That day has arrived. Barack Obama is its standard-bearer.
A Dec. 15 Newsmax article by Tim Collie examining whether Senate Republicans will "filibuster on controversial [judicial] nominees" from Barack Obama fails to note that Republicans leaning toward filibustering opposed the practice when Democrats used the strategy for a few of President Bush's nominees.
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has been more blunt, promising to “lead a filibuster if the nominee is the kind of radical leftist who decides cases based on empathy rather than the Constitution or the law. And if that’s what he intends to do, then I’ll try to get my colleagues to join in that as well,” Kyle said in a speech to the Federalist Society in November.
But as Right Wing Watch notes, in 2005 Kyl supported the "nuclear option," which would have wiped out the right to filibuster judicial nominees.
Collie also cites statements made by Curt Levey, an attorney executive director of the conservative Committee for Justice, in a Washington Post article. But as Media Matters notes, Levey also told the Post (though Collie doesn't quote it) that Republican senators should "play hardball" on Obama's judicial nominees. Nowhere does Collie mention that the CFJ previously called filibusters by a minority of senators to block judicial nominations "unconstitutional."
Could Joseph Farah be the most thin-skinned journalist on the planet? We've recently noted Farah's freak-out over a blogger for a weekly newspaper in Wisconsin making the (entirely accurate) observation that WND "is not an acceptable source of information."
Farah let loose another freak-out in a Dec. 14 column (note that it was posted on the evening of Nov. 14; Farah couldn't wait until the usual 1 a.m. ET posting time for new commentary secton items). The target of Farah's ire this time: Wikipedia. Why? Someone had changed the Wikipedia page on Farah to call him a "noted homosexual."
That's actually rather hilarious, given Farah's previous freak-outs about gay people and his website's anti-gay agenda. But Farah was too far gone in freak-out mode to see the humor.
Thus, all Farah has to offer instead is an screed calling Wikipedia a "wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever known," a "vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit," a "wholly unreliable website run by political and social activists promoting their own agenda" and a "a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution," not to mention pushers of "pseudo-journalistic terrorism and character assassination."
That's even more hilarious, because those same things can be said about WND.
"Wholesale purveyor of lies and slander"? "Vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit"? Just ask Barack Obama. WND has promoted numerous lies about Obama, and WND's Jerome Corsi used bogus documents to falsely impugn him. WND enlisted former Nazis to smear Obama as a Nazi. And Farah and his website are engaging in journlaistic fraud by pimping claims that Obama wasn't born in America when it declared months ago that the birth certificate submitted by Obama's campaign is "authentic."
All of which make it, yes, a "wholly unreliable website run by political and social activists promoting their own agenda" (as we've detailed).
Farah even claims, "I actually had to threaten a libel suit against Wikipedia to get the site to remove the previous attempt at defamation." Farah clearly doesn't understand how Wikipedia works. According to a Wikipedia comment thread on Farah's complaints, a Wikipedia editor noticed Farah's screed and made corrections accordingly. Farah does not state whether he made any attempt to correct or complain (or threaten a libel suit) prior to grinding out his currrent column.
(Given Farah's record on libel lawsuits, he might not want to actually go there. And no, Farah has never threatened us with a libel lawsuit nor otherwise contradicted anything we've wrote, which hopefully speaks to our accuracy in reporting on WND.)
Considering that Farah once called us a "talent-challenged slug," the man definitely knows his way around "pseudo-journalistic terrorism and character assassination." It appears that while Farah loves to dish out the insults, he can't take them in return.
Farah concludes by calling Wikipedia "an electronic graffiti board under the control of high-tech Crips and Bloods." If so, then WND is run by the same gang, with Farah as its chief thug.
Remember, this is all about some anonymous prankster calling Farah a "known homosexual." How thin-skinned is that?
In his Dec. 13 WorldNetDaily column, Ellis Washington asserted that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich "up to a few days ago was a good friend and a close political ally of President-elect Barack Obama."
That contradicts the known and documented history of relations between Blagojevich and Obama. As we've detailed, the Washington Post reported that while Obama worked on Blagojevich's campaign in 2002 and endorsed his re-election in 2006, the two were not close: "They sometimes used each other to propel their own careers but privately acted like rivals." The post also stated: "The two men have not talked for more than a year, colleagues said, save for a requisite handshake at a funeral or public event. Blagojevich rarely campaigned for Obama and never stumped with him. The governor arrived late at the Democratic convention and skipped Obama's victory-night celebration at Chicago's Grant Park."
Does that say "good friend and a close political ally" to anyone? Only, apparently, to Washington.
Washington also asserted that "Obama knows that he is neck-deep into the Blagojevich seat-selling scheme; after all, it is Obama's Senate seat that is for sale." That also contradicts known facts; prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has specifically said that the criminal complaint against Blagojevich "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct."
Would You Take Financial Advice From This Man? Topic: WorldNetDaily
As we've noted, WorldNetDaily in July launched Red Alert, a "global financial strategies newsletter" headed by Jerome Corsi. The newsletter was described as being for "for people of wealth and those who want to be people of wealth," specifically, those with "assets of $1 million or more to protect" or income of "$85,000 a year or more." It proposes to offer "the insights and behind-the-scenes reports and deep analysis of one of America's top political thinkers, journalists, commentators and financial gurus."
More recently, Corsi has predicted that "within one year, even an economic failure like President Herbert Hoover will look like a genius when compared to the failures we are likely to see from a President Obama." Corsi seems to be mixing some of his bogus-document fantasies in with his predictions.
Corsi has also gloated over financial problems faced by media companies: "The only good news this week is that the death throes of the mainstream media have begun in earnest."
It's important to note that Corsi's financial background is not in finance itself but it marketing. Corsi's bio on Red Alert states:
For 25 years, Corsi worked with banks throughout the U.S. and the world developing financial services marketing companies to assist banks in establishing broker/dealers and insurance subsidiaries to provide financial planning products and services to their retail customers. Corsi developed three third-party financial services marketing firms that reached annual gross sales levels of $1 billion in annuities and equal volume in mutual funds.
The distinction between finance and financial marketing is important, because Corsi appears to have been less than successful in the former.
As the Boston Globe detailed, Corsi was a principal in a group that launched an investment venture in Poland in 1995 that eventually lost about $1.2 million, much of it raised from a group of about 20 Minnesota investors -- at least two of whom received a court judgment against Corsi and the other principals but had yet to collect any money from Corsi because, according to one investor, Corsi's assets "had been moved into his wife's name . . . There was nothing to get out of him."
Corsi, meanwhile, had little to say beyond "no comment."
Still, the question must be raised given this history: Is Corsi a person from whom one should really be taking financial advice? Then again, he might be a better source on such things than, say, Dick Morris.
WorldNetDaily isn't the only ConWeb outlet who's peddling a cruise for its readers to buy.
For the second year in a row, WND is offering a Caribbean cruise; it claims it "has managed to put together an absolutely memorable, first-class Western Caribbean cruise, and yet charge half the cost of some cruises currently being promoted by similar organizations."
Featured guests on the WND cruise include Joseph Farah, Jerome Corsi, Aaron Klein and David Kupelian -- which might explain why WND had to cut the price to get people to join.
This is the cruise Farah has previously promoted as an opportunity to "plot the counterrevolution," adding that the idea "might be considered seditious after Jan. 20." Farah also claims: "And there's nothing like getting together with people who share your dread to kick around ideas not just about survival, but about fighting back, about overcoming, about victory." Yeah, nothing says "counterrevolution" like a Caribbean cruise. Rather Brooks Brothers riot-ish, actually.
Newsmax, meanwhile, has its own cruise from Rome to London planned to mark the website's 10th anniversary. Featured guests include Christopher Ruddy, Dick Morris, Ronald Kessler, and Dr. Russell Blaylock. Ruddy states:
Our meetings will be “off the record”— letting experts and insiders tell you what is really going on in the media, Washington, healthcare, Wall Street, and more.
We’ll discuss the hottest political issues facing the country in this post-election period, the most profitable opportunities in financial markets today, and life-enhancing strategies for greater health and longevity.
You will have one-on-one face time with me and our experts and celebrity friends. Plus, have all your questions answered by our distinguished faculty.
Isn't the whole "off the record" thing a bit odd for something that claims to be a journalistic website? And since when did Ruddy and Morris, et al, become "faculty"?
FrontPageMag Falsely Impugns AP Photographer Topic: Horowitz
The case of Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein was a cause celebre among right-wingers a couple years ago. Some of them still haven't gotten over it.
One of them is David Paulin, who uses a Dec. 12 FrontPageMag article (which also appears at American Thinker and his own blog) to express dismay that Hussein was given an International Press Freedom Award after spending two years detained by the U.S. military in Iraq without ever being charged.In the process, Paulin repeats unsubstantiated claims about Hussein.
Paulin asserted that Hussein "hobnobbed easily with pro-Saddam loyalists and al-Qaida terrorists," which purportedly gave him "the uncanny ability to show up just as an attack occurred." No evidence is offered to support the claim. Paulin added that "To some, Hussein's photos raised troubling questions about the AP's hiring practices and objectivity." Paulin does not say who "some" are.
But anti-war liberals and media elites saw things differently. Hussein was a dedicated photojournalist doing his job – getting all sides of a story – only to be unjustly imprisoned without formal charges. One AP lawyer, apparently unaware Iraq was not a peaceful democracy but at war, even complained that Hussein was being denied “due process.”
It was a common complaint among liberals: Hussein had been denied “due process.”
Paulin does not mention why "due process" was a "common complaint": Hussein was never charged with a crime during his time in custody. Nor does Paulin explain why he apparently believes Hussein should have been denied "due process" and why he thinks it's acceptable to imprison a journalist without charges for two years.
Paulin also writes: "After two years in prison, he escaped the possibility of a criminal trial when he was freed under a general amnesty that took effect seven months ago." That's misleading; according to Hussein's attorney, Scott Horton: "When we say 'amnesty,' it’s usually an executive act. This was a judicial amnesty based on a review of the complete court record."
An Iraqi Judicial Commission reviewing his case took ten days to reach a conclusion: No basis existed for the terrorism-related charges which had been brought against him. The conclusion was a sweeping repudiation of accusations U.S. military figures have brought against him, backed by no evidence, but by a handful of strangely motivated American wingnut bloggers.
Paulin then snarked:
Hussein, during his live comments, also noted that Iraq was one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists. He was certainly right about that. More than 180 Iraqi journalists and media workers have died during the war – many targeted for asking too many questions or simply because they worked for Western news organizations. Obviously, none worked in the risk-free environment that Hussein did.
Again, Paulin offers no evidence that Hussein faced no risks in his photography, or that his relationship to terrorists is any more chummy that that of, say, Aaron Klein (whom we don't see Paulin ranting about).
Oddly enough, Paulin claims to be a journalist. You wouldn't know it from this little factually deficient attack.
NewsBusters Misleads on WaPo Article on Obama, Blago Topic: NewsBusters
A Dec. 12 NewsBusters post by Michael M. Bates objects to the premise of a Washington Post article, as stated by its headline: "Obama Worked to Distance Self From Blagojevich Early On." Bates counters that "Obama - far from distancing himself early on - played a key role in electing the now disgraced governor," falsely suggesting that the Post didn't report in detail on the history between Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich.
In fact, the Post article did give a substantive account of their shared history, including the fact that Obama worked on Blagojevich's 2002 campaign:
Even though they often occupied the same political space -- two young lawyers in Chicago, two power brokers in Springfield, two ambitious men who coveted the presidency -- Obama and Blagojevich never warmed to each other, Illinois politicians said. They sometimes used each other to propel their own careers but privately acted like rivals. Blagojevich considered Obama naive and pretentious and dismissed his success as "good luck." Obama disparaged Blagojevich for what he viewed as his combativeness, his disorganization and his habit of arriving at official events half an hour late.
About all Blagojevich and Obama shared was searing ambition, which is what occasionally brought them together. Obama recognized that a Democratic governor could help him pass legislation and build his résumé in anticipation of a U.S. Senate run, so he helped Blagojevich's campaign as an informal adviser. Once Blagojevich was elected, he and Obama formed an awkward, arranged marriage: Obama passed a steady succession of legislation and built his reputation as a power player in Springfield; Blagojevich signed the bills and took the center seat at celebratory news conferences.
Now, why wouldn't Bates acknowledge this simple fact? Perhaps because he wouldn't have an item otherwise.
Your Bob Unruh Bad Journalism Alert Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah likes to tout his WorldNetDaily reporter Bob Unruh as "a 30-year veteran of the Associated Press." That overlooks the fact that his WND work would never pass muster if he had turned it in to the AP, as we've detailed.
Case in point: We've repeatedlydebunked WND's assertion that Barack Obama, in a 2001 radio interview, said that the Constitution is "flawed in that it does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth" and that the Supreme Court's failure to address "redistributive change" is a failure of that court. In fact, Obama never said either thing.
Yet, what do we find in a Dec. 12 article by Unruh?
Obama said in a 2001 radio interview the Constitution is flawed in that it does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth.
Obama told Chicago's public station WBEZ-FM that "redistributive change" is needed, pointing to what he regarded as a failure of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in its rulings on civil rights issues in the 1960s.
The Warren court, he said, failed to "break free from the essential constraints" in the U.S. Constitution and launch a major redistribution of wealth.
Unruh merely copied and pasted this false assertion from the October WND article where it was first made.
It is false. Unruh knows (or ought to) that it is false. Yet there it is, in an article under his name.
That Unruh permits this to happen, or does it himself, demonstrates that he learned nothing in those 30 years at the AP that his boss loves to tout as evidence of his credibility. As long as Unruh continues to peddle such falsehoods, he has no credibility.
And as long as it continues to repeat such easily debunked falsehoods without bothering to correct the record, neither does WorldNetDaily.
Examiner Misleads on Clinton, Travel Office Topic: Washington Examiner
Conservatives just can't let go of the Clinton Travel Office non-scandal.
In an effort to claim that a quick confirmation of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state would be a"gross dereliction of duty," a Dec. 12 Washington Examiner editorial states: "And let’s not forget that she was cited by the Independent Counsel for giving false testimony in her role as First Lady in the infamous White House travel office firings."
But it's the Examiner that has forgotten a few important things. As we've detailed, independent counsel Robert Ray also stated:
The evidence, however, is insufficient to show that Mrs. Clinton knowingly intended to influence the Travel Office decision or was aware that she had such influence at this early stage of the Administration. To a real degree, her interest in the matter was first generated by [Harry] Thomason's intervention, and then overstated by him to others. Thus, absent persuasive, corroborated, and admissible evidence to the contrary, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Clinton's statements to this Office or to Congress were knowingly false.
Further, the Examiner fails to note another important conclusion of Ray's report: "The decision to fire the Travel Office employees was a lawful one. The Travel Office employees served at the pleasure of President Bill Clinton, and they were subject to discharge without cause."
Can't the Examiner invent some new Clinton non-scandals to repeat ad nauseam?
Shocker: Kessler Defends -- And Praises! -- Obama Topic: Newsmax
After his months-long smearcampaign during the presidential race, the last thing we thought we'd see was Newsmax's Ronald Kessler coming to Barack Obama's defense -- and even praising the guy. But Kessler has done just that, albeit in something of a backhanded way.
In a Dec. 8 column, Kessler shoots down the conspiratorial assertion from the likes of WorldNetDaily that Obama is not a native-born American:
For months, I have been bombarded by e-mails claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya and therefore does not meet the constitutional requirements to be president. I have also received hundreds of e-mails from readers asking why I do not expose the truth about his birth.
The truth is that Obama was born in Hawaii.
Kessler adds regarding lawsuits on the issue from folks like Philip Berg:
If there were any basis for Berg’s claims, one would think that the John McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee would have supported the lawsuit or at least blasted out e-mails touting the case. In fact, a McCain campaign aide told me that McCain campaign lawyers had looked into the allegations about Obama’s birth and found them to be bogus.
You would also think that Berg would be happy to be interviewed about the case by a journalist like me. But although he agreed to an interview at the conservative dinner, he has since failed to respond to my voicemails and e-mails asking for him to call.
Instead, Berg has stayed within the comfy confines of WND and right-wing readio for his interviews, where he knows he won't face any tough -- or even mildly skeptical -- questions.
Of course, that's just common sense. The real shocker is Kessler's Dec. 11 column, in which he states that "Barack Obama is getting high marks from the intelligence community for the way he responds to daily intelligence briefings." He adds:
"Obama is a quick study," says one intelligence official. "He absorbs a lot of information, digests it, and asks strategic questions."
"He has a way of being reflective about what we give him," says another intelligence official.
This appears to contradict Kessler's own pre-election assertions, in which he promoted claims (albeit by someone whom Kessler fails to identify as a McCain campaign official) that Obama's election "will endanger the country by making us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks."
At the same time, intelligence officials are troubled by the fact that Obama decided against appointing John Brennan, a deputy to former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, to be director of the CIA because Brennan served at the agency when it supposedly used torture as an interrogation technique.
The news that Brennan was Obama’s leading candidate provoked an outcry from left-leaning Obama supporters. In fact, the CIA does not believe outright torture produces reliable results and has never used it. Frightening prisoners with waterboarding is another matter. The technique was used on three terrorists, including Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s field commander or chief of operations, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot.
In both cases, these and other coercive techniques — like subjecting prisoners to frigid temperatures or forcing them to stand for hours — have worked and have led to a takedown of other key al-Qaida operatives when they were planning more attacks that could have killed tens of thousands of Americans.
In fact, as we noted the last time Kessler made this claim, the waterboarding of Zubaydah reportedly produced a stream of statements of such dubious quality, according to journalist Ron Suskind, that intelligence officials now believe any evidence gleaned from Zubaydah to be worthless. Further, waterboarding produced "debatable results" from Mohammed.
Still, Kessler laments: "Since terrorists are now aware that they will not be drowned, the technique has become useless."