NewsBusters' Double Standard on Criticism of Bloggers Topic: NewsBusters
The boys at NewsBusters like to ridicule criticism of bloggers in the mainstream media. Among recent examples:
Mark Finkelstein claimed that MSNBC's Mike Barnicle "is back to looking down his nose at bloggers" after stating that "95%,99% of blogging isn't journalism. It's therapy for the blogger."
Tim Graham asserted that NBC's Andrea Mitchell "decried the idea that new media would trouble the President’s first days," citing Mitchell's statment encouraging the "dialing down of all of the sharp criticism that we have on cable talk, on talk radio, from the, you know....the blogosphere."
Warner Todd Huston ridiculed one journalist for saying that "bloggers won't take the time and haven't the ability to, 'sit through town-council meetings and explain to you why your taxes will be going up,'" asserting that the journalist "feels that the masses are idiots that cannot even pronounce pundit much less spell it well enough to become citizen journalists on the Internet." (Though Huston does concede that the journalist is correct "to a degree" in that "the largest majority of folks will not take the time to create a blog, investigate stories, go to public meetings held by local government, write about them, and do all of this consistently and on their own without being paid -- he didn't even want to do it when he was paid.")
Yet we've no criticism, let alone mention, of this statement by a prominent media figure:
Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me.
Perhaps that's because of who said it: Sarah Palin, and she was in the middle of ranting about coverage of rumors that her daughter, not her, is the mother of Trig Palin.
Finkelstein even alluded to the Esquire interview in which Palin made the statement in his criticism of Barnicle, highlighting that Palin "said that—long after the issue had been put to rest—the Anchorage Daily News called her—based on allegations in blogs—to ask whether she was indeed the mother of Trig, her youngest child." But he did not cite Palin's statement about "Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers."
Nor did Finkelstein -- like Huston before him -- tell the full story of the Anchorage Daily News' pursuit of thed Trig story: The paper was trying to shoot down the rumors once and for all, and Palin refused to answer questions about it, thus keeping the rumor mill alive.
Sheppard, Brennan Embrace Pravda Article by 9/11 Truther Topic: NewsBusters
It's not often you see right-wingers treat a discredited Soviet propaganda outfit as credible. But that's exactly what NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard and Newsmax's Phil Brennan do in their attempt to attack global warming.
At issue is a Jan. 11 article on the Pravda website by Gregory F. Fegel asserting that "The earth is now on the brink of entering another Ice Age, according to a large and compelling body of evidence from within the field of climate science." Apparenly oblivious to Pravda's history as the official voice of the Soviet Communist Party (though the current version of the paper, according to Wikipedia, "often takes a nationalist and sensationalist approach"), Sheppard and Brennan were eager to promote this.
Sheppard, in a Jan. 11 post, touts how Fegel's article was "reported by Russia's Pravda" and that it "not only goes quite counter to the junk science being espoused by folks like Nobel Laureate Al Gore and his accomplices James Hansen and Gavin Schmidt, but it has also been regularly proffered by many of the real scientists and climatologists around the world that global warming loving media not only refuse to cite and/or interview, but also disgracefully ridicule as deniers and flat earthers." Similarly, Brennan writes in his Jan. 13 column:
Now comes Gregory F. Fegel writing in Pravda Ru that we are on the brink of a new ice age, a revelation that has shocked many Americans but one that I explained 12 years ago in my series The Icemen Cometh.
According to Fegal, "The earth is now on the brink of entering another Ice Age, according to a large and compelling body of evidence from within the field of climate science. Many sources of data which provide our knowledge base of long-term climate change indicate that the warm, twelve thousand year-long Holocene period will rather soon be coming to an end, and then the earth will return to Ice Age conditions for the next 100,000 years."
Sheppard and Brennan perhaps should have done a little investigating of their new friend before embracing him so wholeheartedly. It seems that Fegel is a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, as revealed in a Aug. 22 Pravda column:
A preponderance of evidence shows that the highest officials of the Bush Administration, in collusion with many other officials from the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, FEMA, NSA, NORAD, New York City officials, air-traffic contollers, airline executives, controlled demolitions experts, computer graphics technicians, media executives, and others together planned and committed the horrible attacks of 9/11/2001 against the Pentagon and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 9/11 attacks were immediately blamed on some bogus 'Arab highjackers', a half dozen of whom were later confirmed to be still alive, and therefore innocent, after the 9/11 attacks.
The USA's long descent into fascism cannot be halted or stopped merely by electing a member of the Democrat Party to the Presidency, or by electing a Democrat majority to Congress. The infiltration and control of the US government by right-wing extremists is far too advanced and complete -- they manipulate our elected officials like puppets on a string, and a great many of our elected officials are themselves part of the fascist establishment. The right-wing takeover of the US government has been a gradual and very successful fascist coup that will not be reversed without a very serious and deadly struggle. Given the history of extreme and indiscriminate violence shown by the ruling junta of the USA, it appears quite obvious to me that restoring democracy to the USA would inevitably require a violent armed Revolution in which the American people are opposed against the forces of the US government and the US military.
We need a Nuremberg-style trial for Treason and Mass Murder for all of the members of the US government, the US military, the US intelligence agencies, and their civilian accomplices in the airline industry and the news media who participated in the murderous crimes of 9/11.
So, Phil and Noel: Do you still want to tout this guy and the publication where he appears?
For Sheppard, the answer is yes. In an update to his post, Sheppard notes that Fegel "has some interesting views about 9/11 that would make Rosie O'Donnell proud," then adds: "How delicious that an America-hating Truther who contributes to Pravda has a firmer grasp of climatology than Nobel Laureate Al Gore, James Hansen, Gavin Schmidt, and most of the folks at the IPCC. Now THAT'S entertainment!!!"
Janet Folger Porter's Jan. 13 WorldNetDaily column touts how "Former PLO terrorist Walid Shoebat – now a pro-Israel Christian – was a guest on my Faith2Action radio program last week."
This is the first reference to Shoebat on WND since last April; the WND store has added the recently released book by Shoebat and co-author Joel Richardson, who also co-wrote the WND-published, Shoebat-promoting "Why We Left Islam."
Since she makes no mention of it here, we can assume that Porter made no on-the-air reference to the controversy surrounding Shoebat's claim to be a "former PLO terrorist" or his fundraising appeals. Then again, WND never has, either.
Porter also writes: "Now, not surprisingly, President-elect Obama is reaching out to meet with the Hamas terrorists. What did you expect? They endorsed him, after all." That's an apparent reference to a unverifed claim that Obama is seeking talks with Hamas -- a claim the Obama has strongly denied.
Too bad Porter couldn't see fit to tell the full truth. But then, Porter also isn't telling the full truth behind her anti-Obama activism.
Feulner Misleads on Japan's Economy Topic: CNSNews.com
Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner writes in a Jan. 13 CNSNews.com column:
Facing a deep recession, the Japanese implemented 10 separate spending stimulus packages between 1992 and 2000. Spending on public infrastructure was a major part of each one. Yet the Japanese economy refused to cooperate. After eight years of “stimulus” Japan’s economic growth was anemic. The Japanese economy grew at an annual rate of only 0.6 percent between 1992 and 2007. During that time, eight countries surpassed Japan’s per capita income. So much for infrastructure stimulus.
Japan's monetary and fiscal stimulus did help to lift the economy. After a recession in 1993-94, GDP was growing at an annual rate of around 2.5% by 1995. But deflation also emerged that year, pushing up real interest rates and increasing the real burden of debt. It was from here on that Japan made its biggest policy mistakes. In 1997 the government raised its consumption tax to try to slim its budget deficit. And with interest rates close to zero, the BoJ [Bank of Japan] insisted that there was nothing more it could do. Only much later did it start to print lots of money.
Feulner cited Japan as a way to prove that "Government stimulus spending can’t manufacture prosperity." But by cherry-picking numbers and ignoring events that don't fit with his storyline, Feulner hides the fact that the truth appears to be otherwise.
Farah's Still Not Telling the Full Truth Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah uses his Jan. 13 WorldNetDaily column to rebut the claim Keith Olbermann cited to name him the "Worst Person in the World" on Jan. 5 -- a claim we first documented -- but Farah is still obfuscating about Barack Obama's birth certificate.
I explained several weeks ago that Olberman, George Soros' front group Media Matters, Democratic members of the Congress and a host of other extremists in the media were suddenly touting a WND report that appeared to suggest an image of Barack Obama's birth certificate on his website was found conclusively to be genuine.
Again, here's the problem with that – especially for those slow to comprehend basic facts.
At that time of that report, the best information WND had suggested the image of Obama's birth certificate was genuine.
Stop right there. The August 2008 WND article in question -- to which Farah again fails to link so his readers can judge for themselves -- did not merely "suggest" that the birth certificate was genuine; it unambiguously stated that it was:
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.
Farah's claim this time around is somewhat less of a lie than Farah's Dec. 20 statement, cited by us and Olbermann, that none of WND's experts "could report conclusively that the electronic image was authentic or that it was a forgery," which utterly contradicts what WND originally reported.
Farah then tries to change the subject: "However, the veracity of that image was never the major issue of contention. Rather, the major issue is where is the rest of the birth certificate – the part that explains where the baby was born, who the delivery doctor was, etc."
Yet WND has spent considerable time covering something that is not a "major issue," while hiding its own previous coverage. For instance, a Dec. 1 WND article by Bob Unruh is devoted to so-called "imaging guru" Ron Polarik's claims that the certificate is "criminally fraudulent." At no point did Unruh mention WND's own reporting that the certificate is authentic. And as recently as Jan. 8, WND promoted an "Obama commercial they don't want you to see," which asserts that the certificate is "an obvious forgery."
In fact, as we've noted, WND has essentially disavowed the existence of that earlier article since its publication, refusing to acknowledge its claims in subsequent reports on the birth certificate issue.
While Farah seems to be suggesting that he no longer stands by the August 2008 article, at no point has he or WND ever explained why. There is no article in the WND database telling readers that its "authentic" claim has been superceded by more recent events.
Further, Farah suddenly pretending that the birth certificate on Obama's website is not a "major issue" because he got caught in a lie about it ignores the crux of the issue.
If that certificate is indeed "authentic" -- that is, found to have been issued by the state of Hawaii, derived from the "full" certificate Farah is panting over, with all of the information needed to meet requirements of residency for purposes such as obtaining a passport, which presumably also meets the requirements for establishing that Obama is a "natural born citizen" -- then demanding release of the "full" birth certificate is moot. (Indeed, FactCheck.org points out that the certificate "has all the elements the State Department requires for proving citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport.")
If this is true -- and Farah has provided no evidence that it's not -- then all of Farah's blather about how "WND has done its part to find out the truth" and how "so many Americans are losing confidence in their government to conduct free and fair elections according to the simple rules laid out in the Constitution" is just that. Does anyone really believe a man who has attacked Obama as "evil" and "an enemy of the Constitution," who has repeatedly lied about Obama, and whose website is a fetidcesspool of Obamahatred is concerned only about constitutional niceties and "the truth"?
Obama has been demonstrated to be a U.S. citizen by all reasonable standards. Farah needs to get over it.
In fact, the voluntary optional private accounts advocated by Clinton, Moynihan, Kerry, and Bush were originally recommended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the founder of Social Security. In 1935, in a written statement to Congress, FDR recommended that the system should eventually include "voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age."
Roosevelt was not advocating that the present system of guaranteed Social Security benefits "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans." Rather, he was proposing that both mandatory contributions and voluntary annuities would eventually eliminate the need for a different fund which was established to provide pension benefits to Americans who were already too old in 1935 to contribute payroll taxes to the Social Security system.
Roosevelt outlined the three major tenets he envisioned for Social Security in the January 17, 1935, speech that Hume quoted. As the Social Security Administration (SSA) has noted, these tenets are: 1) "non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance"; 2) "compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations"; and 3) "voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age."
During 1935 congressional hearings on Roosevelt's Social Security bill, Edwin Witte, executive director of the Committee on Economic Security (CES), clearly stated that the voluntary accounts were intended as a "separate undertaking" meant to "supplement" the compulsory system, not replace it: "The voluntary system of old-age annuities we suggest as a supplement to the compulsory plan." Further, voluntary annuities would be "similar to those issued by commercial insurance companies" -- as Witte explained -- but they would differ from private accounts in that their funds would be deposited into and paid out of the Social Security trust fund, and they would provide a government-guaranteed benefit like mandatory contributions. Prominent contemporary Democrats support Roosevelt's idea of supplemental government-sponsored investment accounts that are paid for by non-Social Security funds, although unlike Roosevelt's plan, these accounts would not be linked to the trust fund.
Zeifman also falsely claimed that President Bush's Social Security privatization plan "called for the investment of no more than 4 percent of revenues." In fact, the plan allowed workers to divert up to 4 percent of their wages into a private account. Since 12.4 percent of a worker's wages are paid into Social Security, that mean as much as one-third of Social Security revenue -- not 4 percent -- would be affected by private accounts.
Zeifman again loudly proclaims, as is his wont, that he's a Democrat, this time stating that he's "a life-long left of center liberal Democrat who once successfully represented 38 AFL-CIO unions in litigation against the Carter administrations unlawful outsourcing of defense production to a number of foreign countries." But he's one of those Newsmax Democrats who claim Democratic membership as a very thin cover to attack them on right-wing websites.
Timmerman Still Promoting Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax's Ken Timmerman is apparently not done promoting the Barack Obama birth certificate conspiracy.
In a Jan. 12 article whose headline misleadingly accuses John Brennan, "Obama’s top terrorism and intelligence advisor," of being involved in a "security breach" -- in fact, as Timmerman eventually reveals, it was a contract employee a firm Brennan heads, not Brennan himself, who was accused of snooping into the passport files of presidential candidates -- Timmerman cites anonymous and unverifiable "sources who tracked the investigation" to claim that the goal of the alleged breaches was to "cauterize" Obama's passport file of "potentially embarrassing information."
After noting that Obama's campaign declared Obama to be "a native citizen of the United States of America," Timmerman adds: "However, 'native citizen' is a colloquialism, not a legal term. It is not the same as 'natural-born citizen,' the requirement to be president set out in Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution." Timmerman also makes a big deal about how "Obama was a foreign national until the age of 18, by virtue of his father’s British then Kenyan citizenship," while barely acknowledging that Obama is a U.S. citizen by virtue of his mother's American citizenship -- not to mention the not-disproven fact the he was born in Hawaii.
At no point does Timmerman reference numerous outside investigations -- from FactCheck.org to WorldNetDaily -- finding that the birth certificate released by Obama's campaign to be authentic.
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
For the price of just 15 cups of coffee – at Starbucks – you can help save Hillary Clinton from having to personally pay off her campaign debt, all while watching Jon Bon Jovi perform.
I picture the evening opening with Hillary sitting in a mud pit with flies buzzing around her head while a weepy Sally Struthers whimpers into the camera, "It takes a village to bail out wealthy politicians whose dreams were dashed … please help!"
Dinner and dancing will follow, and as the DJ plays some up-tempo music, look for Bill Clinton to show off his Samba, Merengue and Cha-Cha moves – also look for Hillary to throw a coffee mug at Bill after she discovers that those aren't dances, but the names of three strippers Bubba brought to the fundraiser.
Unable to accept the time-honored concept that a newspaper would run a story based on its news value, Huston howls that the Times "wants you to celebrate" the "commie art show," baselessly asserting that the paper is "totally oblivious to the hate that should be forever leveled at communism."
Huston also fails to note that, far from being a "commie art show," the exhibit also, according to the Times article, includes "a sideshow of art that was banned in Vietnam and included audio recordings and writings of dissidents in Vietnam."
Huston then takes it a step further by endorsing censorship in America:
Sorry, but those in the Vietnamese community in the L.A. area are absolutely right to immediately squash anyone that wants to help reestablish communist ideology among them. These people are right to hate communism and to want it banished from their lives forever. These people are right to ostracize those that want to soften the hatred for communism.
Communism does not need to have "an open dialog." It needs only to be excoriated and despised. Communism is the single most murderous idea that man has ever spawned and it should be treated like the plague that it truly is.
Needless to say, Huston fails to demonstrate how an art exhibit that includes communist symbols equals "reestablish[ing] communist ideology."
CNS Pushes False Claim on New Deal Unemployment Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com ups the ante in its misleading attack on the New Deal with a Jan. 12 article by Josiah Ryan, who quotes Burt Folsom, "a professor of history at Hillsdale College," saying that "old New Deal didn’t work" and paraphrases Folsom as making the utterly false statement that the New Deal "never did reduce unemployment."
In fact, unemployment dropped more than 40 percent between 1933 and 1937 and -- according to federal employment statistics CNS itself has cited (misleading as they are, since they don't count those in government work programs as employed) -- remained below the 1933 high throughout Franklin Roosevelt's presidency.
That would seem to prove that the New Deal did reduce unemployment, no?
Meanwhile ... Topic: NewsBusters Tapped, County Fair, Black Book, and Oliver Willis, among others, offer their takes on Ken Shepherd's Jan. 8 NewsBusters post complaining that comic books -- specifically, the new issue of Spider-Man, in which Spidey does a terrorist fist bump with Barack Obama -- are "crawling with pro-Obama bias."
Newsmax has joined the Media Research Center on the John Ziegler promotional bandwagon with a Jan. 9 article by Rick Pedraza touting the video of Sarah Palin that Ziegler released. But in uncritically regurgitating Ziegler's claims about media coverage of Palin, Pedraza ignores a couple that are quite clearly false.
Pedraza cited "The intrusive coverage of Palin's 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, in which the media revealed her pregnancy." But as we've noted, the media did not "reveal" Bristol Palin's pregnancy; it was announced by the McCain campaign.
Pedraza also notes that "Palin complaining about coverage of the rumor that she is not the mother of her infant son, Trig. Palin calls the charge 'quite absurd.'" But if the charge is so absurd, why won't Palin answer questions about it in order to put the issue to rest once and for all?
Pedraza also cites "The CBS interview with Katie Couric that tried to poke fun at Palin's inability to cite which newspapers she reads." But no evidence is offered that Couric did any such thing.
needless to say, Pedraza makes no mention whatsoever of Ziegler's shaky grasp on the facts, or his penchant for insultinginterviewers who dare to challenge his claims.
A Delightful Understatement Topic: Accuracy in Media
Don Irvine engages in a delightful bit of understatement in a Jan. 10 Accuracy in Media blog post about recent "turmoil at the Washington Times," stating that the Times "has struggled to become financially viable during its entire 26 year exietence [sic]."
Huston Misleadingly Shoots Down One Conspiracy Theory, Mum On Another Topic: NewsBusters
A Jan. 10 NewsBusters post by Warner Todd Huston howls that the Anchorage Daily News is "continuing to pursue the idiotic and insulting claim that Sarah is not the real mother of son Trig," calling it a "ridiculous conspiracy theory that only idiots, hatemongers and fools could believe" and accusing the paper of "spreading hateful rumors about Governor Palin." Huston then claimed that the Daily News editor "feigned innocence and points his finger at bloggers and people on the left that have persisted with their own interest in this stupid story."
Huston's rantings might be taken seriously if his employer had not taken part in promoting ridiculous conspiracy theories about Barack Obama -- namely, the one about Obama's birth certificate.
NewsBusters' P.J. Gladnick wrote severalposts promoting the supposed birth certificate controversy, most recently on Oct. 23, and comment threads on NewsBusters posts are replete with references to it. At no point does he, or any other NewsBusters writer, expose the false nature of it.
Huston also misrepresents what Daily News executive editor Pat Dougherty has written about the controversy. Huston apparently just copied-and-pasted the same thing an anti-McClatchy (the Daily News' owner) blog did from Dougherty's blog on the issue, that the goal was "report the facts of Trig's birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all," as well as parts of a press release from Palin's office criticizing the paper. But neither Huston nor the anti-McClatchy blog noted the following response, which Dougherty said he sent to Palin:
Lisa Demer started reporting. She received very little cooperation in her efforts from the parties who, in my judgment, stood to benefit most from the story, namely you and your family. Even so, we reported the matter as thoroughly as we could. Several weeks ago, when we considered the information Lisa had gathered, we decided we didn't have enough of a story to accomplish what we had hoped. Lisa moved on to other topics and we haven't decided whether the idea is worth any further effort.
Even the birth of your grandson may not dissuade the Trig conspiracy theorists from their beliefs. It strikes me that if there is never a clear, contemporaneous public record of what transpired with Trig's birth, that may actually ensure that the conspiracy theory never dies. Time will tell.
First, no story has, in fact, recently been published by the Daily News on the subject, which means Palin and Huston are attacking the Daily News for simply asking questions.
Second, Huston fails to acknowledge the fact that Palin is refusing to answer those questions, which helps to fuel the "conspiracy theory" among those people he likens to Holocaust deniers. As we've heard from the likes of WorldNetDaily regarding the Obama birth certificate non-controversy: If it can be so easily proven that Sarah Palin is Trig's mother, why doesn't she, you know, prove it?
Does Huston think Obama should release his full birth certificate? If so, he has no standing to complain about the conspiracy theories of others, or to defend Palin for withholding information.
UPDATE: Huston has written at Renew America that the birth certificate issue is irrelevant because "the will of the people is supreme": "Obama's foreign birth, if it comes to be true, will undermine his presidency. But better to have a single president's legitimacy undermined due to his actions than to undermine the entire electoral process." But as near as we can tell, he has not shared this opinion with his NewsBusters readers.
A Jan. 9 CNSNews.com article by Nicholas Ballasy takes a stab at forwarding the current right-wing meme of denouncing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as insufficient to pull America out of the Great Depression.
In an apparent attempt to counter Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman's claim that FDR "did not spend what was needed" to get people "back to work" during the Great Depression, Ballasy asserts: "Despite the $500 billion spend under FDR through various programs, the unemployment rate in the United States did not significantly decrease until after the U.S. officially entered World War II in 1941." This is then followed by government unemployment statistics from the era.
But those statistics -- which show an unemployment rate decrease from 24.9 percent in 1933 to 14.3 percent in 1937 -- prove Ballasy wrong. How is an a drop of 40 percent not "significant"? Ballasy doesn't explain.
Further, Ballasy fails to note that the federal government's 1930s unemployment statistics are misleading because they did not count those working in government work programs as employed -- which means that the unemployment rate was even lower in 1937 than the statistics show, and that Ballasy will admit.
UPDATE: CNS also claimed in a Dec. 9 article by Matt Hadro that "government data show that FDR's programs did not substantially reduce unemployment," also without an explanation as to why a 40 percent-plus drop in unemployment between 1933 and 1937 is not considered "substantial."