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Thursday, January 8, 2009
Heritage Foundation Chart Misleads on New Deal Unemployment
Topic: Washington Examiner

A "charticle" on the editorial page of the Jan. 7 Washington Examiner (scanned below) is a graph of unemployment rates during the Great Depression -- as supplied by the conservative Heritage Foundation -- in an apparent attempt to forward the right-wing meme that the New Deal did nothing to stop the Depression. But the chart is highly misleading.

First, the numbers priovided, described as "percentage of jobless nonfarm workers," are skewed. As Media Matters points out, government labor statistics from the 1930s did not count those as employed through government work programs as actually being employed. But the numbers here -- which puts "unemployment" above 20 percent from 1931 through 1940 -- are much higher than even those government numbers, not to mention those of other Heritage writers. While the chart pegs unemployment in 1940 at around 21 percent, a Dec. 16 piece by Heritage senior research fellow Ronald Utt states that in 1940, "America's unemployment rate stood at 14.6 percent."

Second, while the chart lists events that have nothing to do with the unemployment rate -- "court packing"? -- it fails to note why unemployment increased in 1938, one even cited by folks like those at the Examiner as evidence that the New Deal failed. In fact, as Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, in 1937 "the Roosevelt administration cut spending and raised taxes, precipitating an economic relapse that drove the unemployment rate back into double digits and led to a major defeat in the 1938 midterm elections. ... F.D.R. thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans; in reality, he was taking big risks with the economy and with his legacy."

UPDATE: The Heritage blog has posted the chart.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:05 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, January 8, 2009 11:34 PM EST
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
CNS Mouths Bush Self-Aggrandizment on Environment

A Jan. 7 article by Fred Lucas uncritically repeats President Bush's claim that his term as president marks "an eight-year commitment to strong environmental protection and conservation ... contrary to the conventional wisdom of many in the news media."

Lucas makes no apparent attempt to contact anyone in "the news media" or any non-conservative environmentalist for their views on Bush's assertion. Rather, he quotes Bush's White House press secretary Dana Perino echoed Bush's claim. He also quotes an "environmental expert and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank," and a "senior legal policy analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation" criticizing a specific Bush order as unnecessary and legally questionable, but they offer no counter to Bush's claims about his environmental record.

Criticism of Bush from the right is hardly a substitute for criticism of Bush from the left, and it hardly makes for a factually balanced article.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:11 PM EST
Porter, WND Still Clinging to Obama Birth Certificate Fantasy
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily columnist Janet Folger Porter is still desperately clinging to the hate-driven, fraudulent fantasy that Barack Obama is not an American citizen. From her Jan. 6 column:

What if an imposter from another country ran for the presidency and won?

What if the media blocked any news of his birthplace and citizenship?

What if the media censorship even blocked paid advertising that tried to expose it?

What if no one had the courage to challenge or verify it?

What if he was inaugurated illegally?

What if the military had to answer to a commander in chief who was illegitimate?

What if every law he signed was invalid?

What if every appointment he made was improper?

What if it all happened on our watch?


Write to the Supreme Court and ask them to do what they took an oath to do: make sure the Constitution is being upheld.

Porter has yet to address the concerns we've raised that she may be misusing the resources of her group Faith2Action for her own personal anti-Obama crusade, either here or at the Faith2Action website.

Meanwhile, Bob Unruh uncritically quotes Porter's rant in a Jan. 6 WND article insisting that "The lingering questions continue to leave a cloud over the impending presidency of a man whose relatives have reported he was born in Kenya and who has decided, for whatever reason, not to release a bona fide copy of his original birth certificate in its complete form."

Of course, neither Unruh nor Porter mention the fact that WND itself declared the birth certificate to be "authentic," adding that the lawsuit on the issue filed by Philip Berg "relies on discredited claims."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:59 PM EST
Kincaid Ignores AIM's Embrace of Luntz's Linguistics
Topic: Accuracy in Media

A Jan. 4 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid accuses Barack Obama of telling "lies" by calling his stimulus plan the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" when it is "mainly designed to bail out state and local governments that have already spent too much taxpayer money." Kincaid cites Republican pollster Frank Luntz complimenting Obama's use of the term and adding, "Our media are not going to fall for this ploy, are they?"

So, with this criticism, you'd think that Kincaid and AIM would eschew all linguistic fanciness, right? Wrong.

Luntz himself is a noted political linguist; as The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg reported in 2006, Luntz was one of the right-wingers who has recently pushed the idea of inaccurately calling the Democratic Party the "Democrat Party." And indeed, there are numerous references to "Democrat Party" on the AIM website.

Hertzberg also noted that Luntz also promoted the term "death tax" for the estate tax. Several references to "death tax" can be found at AIM as well.

If Kincaid is criticizing Luntz's praise of Obama's linguistics as an embrace of "dishonest rhetoric," shouldn't Kincaid and AIM refrain from embracing Luntz's own arguably dishonest linguistics?

Posted by Terry K. at 1:22 PM EST
Obama Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Regarding Rick Warren's decision to give the prayer at Barack Obama's inauguration, assume for a moment that we had just elected a man to be president who, during the campaign, spoke to a rally of the Ku Klux Klan – all the while reassuring us how important his Christian faith is to him. Let's also assume that, during this rally, he told the assembled cone heads that he thinks America should return to the times when only white male landowners were allowed to vote.

The question is, could anyone in America be stupid enough to think that Rick Warren would give the invocation for this guy's inauguration?


On one hand, Obama needs someone who can give him cover with the Christian community. His goal is to hide from them the fact that he is a heretic and moral degenerate.

-- Mark Crutcher, Jan. 6 WorldNetDaily column

Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 AM EST
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Newsmax Again Baselessly Claims Franken 'Vote Grab'
Topic: Newsmax

A Jan. 5 Newsmax article by David Patten is headlined, "Franken's Coup: Anatomy of a Vote Grab," but Patten doesn't really provide that regarding the Minnesota Senate race. Instead, he uncritically repeats claims by the campaign of Al Franken's opponent, Norm Coleman, and other conservatives making various allegations about the race's recount and allows no one to respond.

This is the second time that Patten has baselessly accused Franken of a "vote grab."

As he has previously, Patten claimed that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie "has been criticized for ties to the ACORN voter-registration organization the federal government is investigating for alleged vote fraud, as well as to left-wing billionaire George Soros." But that criticism is coming only from Patten and his right-wing fellow travelers -- as we've noted, those "ties," according to Patten's own reporting, are limited to getting endorsed by ACORN and taking a campaign donation from Soros. (Patten claimed this was evidence of "extensive ties.")

Patten quotes mostly Coleman campaign officials and right-wingers in his article, but does not permit anyone to respond to the claims they make. He also hides the true identity of one person he quotes, "Kevin Hassett of" In fact, Hassett is a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute; Bloomberg merely published his commentary about the Minnesota Senate race.

Patten lets his anti-Franken bias show in other ways as well. He complained that the Minnesota canvassing board "deposed Coleman as the apparent winner" and that Coleman has been victimized by "a nightmarish electoral chronology."

Posted by Terry K. at 5:51 PM EST
NewsBusters Ignores Boss' Link to Domestic Terrorist
Topic: NewsBusters

A Jan. 3 NewsBusters post by Tom Blumer criticizes the Huffington Post for allowing William Ayers to post there, asserting that "The mainstreaming of a domestic terrorist continues apace." Blumer goes on to complain that Ayers' HuffPo bio contains "no mention of his violent Weather Underground history."

If Blumer is so worried about the "mainstreaming of a domestic terrorist," he need not look farther than the organization that publishes his blog posts.

As we've detailed, the Media Research Center has given prominent roles to G. Gordon Liddy -- featured "acceptor" of awards at its annual awards banquet at least twice, judge for the awards at least three times, awards show guest numerous other times -- despite Liddy's record of planned domestic terrorism. The MRC has also whitewashed Liddy's 1994 remarks about how to kill a federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent.

Blumer might want to ask MRC honcho Brent Bozell about his relationship with Liddy before criticizing Ayers any further.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:49 PM EST
New Article: WorldNetDaily Learns to Love the Nazi Smear
Topic: WorldNetDaily
WND not only leads the ConWeb in likening Barack Obama to Hitler and Goebbels, it has actually defended the practice. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 2:14 AM EST
WND Protects Coulter, Ignores Her Book's Errors
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has promoted itself as the only place where one can purchase a copy of Ann Coulter's new book, "Guilty," autographed by the author.

Does that WND will protect Coulter at all costs and refuse to report the truth about the book? It appears so.

A Jan. 5 WND article uncritically repeats Matt Drudge's claim -- from anonymous sources that WND has given no indication that it has verified -- that Coulter has been banned from NBC "for life," despite also noting an on-the-record statement from NBC that Coulter was merely bumped from the "Today" show because the program was overbooked. Still, WND inserts this promo in the story: "Get the book that got Ann Coulter banned from NBC – it's autographed, now in stock and ready to ship!"

Meanwhile, Media Matters has documented numerous factual errors and inflammatory statements in "Guilty," which may have played a role in NBC giving the boot to Coulter. Yet WND makes no mention of this in this article.

WND's only other coverage of the book to date is a Dec. 30 fluff interview with Coulter by Drew Zahn uncritically repeating the book's claims and even Coulter's assertion that the first edition of the book will be a collector's item: "We crashed the book to get it out in time. ... There are a few typographical errors that will be corrected in the second printing; so you definitely want to get the first printing, because it will be like one of those stamps with the airplane upside down!"

Will Coulter use that second edition to correct any of those glaring factual errors and misleading claims? Don't expect WND to hold her accountable.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:48 AM EST
Monday, January 5, 2009
WND's Spiked-Story List Largely Bogus
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has come out with its annual "Operation Spike" list of stories it claims "undeservedly 'spiked' by the establishment press." And as per usual, the list is largely comprised of misleading or bogus claims.

Unsurprisingly, given WND's deranged obsession with it, first place goes to "Charges that Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen of the U.S. and thus constitutionally ineligible to serve as president." Also unsurprisingly, WND fails to mention its own investigation of the issue, which concluded that the "certificate of live birth" released  by the Obama campaign is "authentic" and that Philip Berg's lawsuit claiming that Obama is not a natural-born citizen "relies on discredited claims."

In second place was a "U.S. Senate committee report that hundreds of top scientists have testified they believe claims of man-caused global warming are fraudulent." But as we've noted, the vast majority of the "650 international experts" cited by WND -- from a report issued by Republican Sen. James Inhofe's press chief, Marc Morano -- are recycled from a previous report issued by Inhofe and Morano, a report that was criticized for including a number of people with no expertise in climate science (or science, period). 

The article added that "more than 31,000 scientists, including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s, have signed a massive petition project that challenges belief in man-made global warming." But as we've detailed, that petition has been circulating for more than a decade, and the supporting materials sent by the petition's promoter, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, included an opinion piece that is misleadingly presented as an official-looking peer-reviewed paper.

Under the third-place entry, which asserts that the "true causes of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown ... point directly to the Democratic Party," WND repeats a claim made in September that the mortgage crisis can be blamed on "unsound, politically correct lending practices." As we noted at the time, the claim comes off as a tacit endorsement of the illegal practice of redlining -- a refusal to offer banking services and/or loans in certain areas, something that in practice is racist because those areas were invariably minority-dominated. WND misleadingly claimed that two former officials of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Franklin Raines and James Johnson, are "Barack Obama advisers." In fact, both Raines and the Obama campaign denied that Raines was an Obama adviser, and Johnson quit as an adviser last June.

In fourth place is "Obama's ties to terrorists and extremists" -- another WND obsession of the guilt-by-association kind -- cited as one example Rashid Khalidi, "the anti-Israel Palestinian professor." But WND fails to note that Khalidi also has ties to a group chaired by Obama's Republican opponent, John McCain.

In fifth place was "The campaigns of third-party presidential candidates, and Ron Paul's sensationally successful grass-roots campaign." But WND spiked that story too -- as we've noted, WND's coverage of third-party candidates was minimal at best during the 2008 campaign.

As we've previously noted, it seems that the stories on the "Operation Spike" list were spiked for a reason -- they're designed more to promote WND and Joseph Farah's personal political agenda (and his personal grudges and obsessions) than to advance the cause of actual journalism. 

(P.S. Want more interesting awards? The Slanties are coming next week.)

Posted by Terry K. at 5:49 PM EST
Updated: Monday, January 5, 2009 5:52 PM EST
Noel Sheppard Shocked-By-The-Unshocking Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

From a Jan. 3 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard:


Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine seeing an article at the liberal website the Huffington Post that not only refuted the anthropogenic global warming myth, but also asked Nobel Laureate Al Gore to apologize for the climate hysteria he's caused?

No...neither did I.

In fact, as evidenced by the post Sheppard cites, the Huffington Post publishes a wide range of opinions (including ours). This is just another example of Sheppard professing shock at something that's not all that shocking.

By contrast, NewsBusters, the website for which Sheppard is an associate editor, publishes no opinions that diverge from conservative orthodoxy. Indeed, Sheppard himself has yet to acknowledge, let alone apologize for, the false and misleading claims he has promulgated about global warming.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:12 PM EST
Topic: WorldNetDaily

While we were slacking off over the holidays, Richard Bartholomew has uncovered a few things that we missed over at WorldNetDaily:

-- First, Bartholomew points out that a Dec. 9 WND article promoted a "quarterly magazine of Christian history and biography called Leben," while failing to mention that its editor, Wayne Johnson, is a member of the WND board of directors, as we've noted. (Johnson is also a Rushdoony-ite Christian reconstructionist.) Nor does the article acknowledge that Leben is a WND advertiser, which raises the possibility, if not likelihood, that WND's fluffy "news article" is part of the ad deal. WND has a long history of presenting ads as news.

-- Second, Bartholomew notes WND's promotion of a "Mapping Shari’a in America" project that's so extreme that WND felt the need to tone down the group's anti-Muslim agenda. As Bartholomew adds, "when you need WND to make you sound less excessive you’re probably in trouble."

-- Third, Bartholomew details how a Dec. 31 WND article omits inconvenient facts, stating only that a gunman was "ranting about religion" when he shot and killed a manager of a Colorado ski resort who identified himself as Catholic, which allowed WND to portray the victim as a martyr for Christianity. In fact, reports by more legitimate news outlets state that the shooter had "declared his intent to convert non-Christians" and was reportedly heard to say, "I’m a Christian, and if you’re not a Christian I’m here to convert you." Thus, WND falsely suggested that the shooter was a deranged atheist when, in fact, he was apparantly a deranged Christian. (And remember, WND only recently conceded that Catholics are Christians.)

Posted by Terry K. at 3:01 PM EST
NewsBusters Misleads on Troop Deaths
Topic: NewsBusters

A Jan. 2 NewsBusters post by Michael M. Bates promotes "the fact that last year homicides in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago substantially exceeded the number of deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq," adding: 'If Iraq's a total failure, how does Obama view what's taking place in his own hometown?"

Bates' comparison is a misleading one. Raw numbers are misleading when plucked out of context; the death rate of a given population is the more meaningful number.

As Bates notes, approximately 314 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq in 2008, while there were 509 homicides in Chicago. But the population bases are vastly different -- there are approximately 140,000 soldiers in Iraq, but there are more than 2.8 million residents of Chicago. Therefore, a U.S. soldier is still several times more likely to get killed in Iraq than to be murdered in Chicago.

Bates is following the conservatively-correct line -- also followed by WorldNetDaily, Newsmax and -- of tossing out statistically meaningless numbers to downplay the number of troop deaths in Iraq.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:46 AM EST
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Newsmax, WND Promote Dubious Military Poll
Topic: Newsmax

A Jan. 2 Newsmax article by Rick Pedraza promoted a "survey of more than 1,900 active-duty subscribers to Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times newspapers" in which "six out of 10 active-duty service members said they "are uncertain or pessimistic about President-elect Barack Obama as the nation’s next commander in chief." While Pedraza noted that the poll's "responses are not representative of the opinions of the military as a whole, and that the survey group overall under-represents minorities, women and junior enlisted service members, and over-represents soldiers," that did not appear until the final paragraph of his article.

Indeed, as Media Matters points out, the publishers of the poll have admitted that it was based on voluntary responses by subscribers to Army Times Publishing Co. newspapers rather than a random statistical sample of service members, and that therefore no margin of error can be calculated for the poll. Newsmax is following Military Times' lead in promoting this poll as meaningful when it is not.

A Jan. 3 WorldNetDaily article on the poll similarly buried the fact that the poll is "a voluntary response poll and not a scientific, random sampling" and thus "the responses cannot be considered representative of the opinions of the military as a whole" -- but that didn't keep WND, like Newsmax, from spending the rest of the article pretending that the poll means something. But WND has a history of promoting bogus polls, so it's used to doing that -- never mind that it fails its readers by doing so.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:13 AM EST
Saturday, January 3, 2009
WND Promotes More Bogus Polls As Accurate
Topic: WorldNetDaily

For the second time in a month, WorldNetDaily is promoting an America Online poll about Barack Obama's birth certificate as meaningful despite the fact that it's not accurately reflective of actual American opinion on the issue.

While Bob Unruh's Dec. 31 article admits that the AOL poll is "unscientific," he does not explain (like fellow WND reporter Chelsea Schilling before him) that "unscientific" means that the poll cannot be taken as reflective of actual public opinion on the issue. Nevertheless, Unruh insists that the AOL poll -- which showed a majority agreeing with the idea that there is "any merit" to the largely right-wing alleged controversy about Obama's citizenship peddled by the likes of WND -- "suggests more and more people are having second thoughts about Barack Obama's eligibility to occupy the Oval Office."

Unruh also noted that "a recent WND poll showed "a full 97 percent of nearly 7,200 voters" said "no" to the question "Are you satisfied Obama is constitutionally eligible to assume the presidency?" But Unruh did not note that the WND poll, like the AOL poll, is unscientific and therefore useless as a gauge of opinion because participants are self-selecting and the poll is prone to being skewed (or "freeped") by like-minded activists.

Unsurprisingly, Unruh follows WND policy by refusing to acknowledge a WND report last August finding that the birth certificate released by Obama's campaign is "authentic" and that a lawsuit by Philip Berg on the issue -- a lawsuit noted by Unruh -- "relies on discredited claims."

Posted by Terry K. at 2:35 AM EST

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