Topic: The ConWeb
Who will take home the hardware for the year's worst reporting and most outrageous quotes in the right-wing media? Read more >>
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Heritage Responds -- But Raises Even More Questions
Topic: Washington Examiner
Not only did we write here about the Washington Examiner's publication of a Heritage Foundation chart that cited unusually high figures for Depression-era umemployment, we wrote to the Examiner about it. The Examiner has printed the letter -- accompanied by a response from Heritage’s William Beach. But Beach's response creates even more misperceptions.
Beach writes: "Heritage cites widely accepted census data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics." But the chart in question doesn’t use BLS numbers; its source is listed as "Bureau of the Census, Bicentennial Edition Historical Statistics of the United States Colonial Times to 1970 Part 1." The BLS website offers much different numbers for the time period in question than does the Heritage chart; for instance, BLS lists 1933 unemployment as 24.9 percent, while the Heritage chart of census-sourced numbers places it well above 35 percent. Beach offers no explanation for the discrepancy, or why it chose the much higher census numbers over BLS.
Beach then cites George Mason University economist Alex Tabarrok to back up his claim that counting people in government work programs as unemployed "remains standard practice." But a 1983 Journal of Economic History article by Gene Smiley (who has been published by the libertarian Independent Institute, where Tabarrok is research director) states that "Since World War II the BLS does not count as unemployed those employed in any type of government relief programs."
Beach also writes that the BLS "didn't treat CCC workers, prisoners or anyone else who got only 'three hots and a cot' as being a government employee": Why is Beach putting CCC workers -- who did actual work for their "three hots and a cot" and took part more or less voluntarily -- in the same category as prisoners working involuntarily for much less than minimum wage and as the result of having committed a crime? Does he really think the two are the same? Or is Beach so anti-government that he considers any form of government compensation to be illegitimate, even if one worked for it?
In short, Beach didn't answer our questions and raised even more questions about Heritage's motivation in promoting questionable statistics.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch
A Jan. 13 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh reads like a primer for students of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, making an effort to touch on as many alleged Clinton scandals as possible while failing to tell the truth about any of them.
Unruh devotes the bulk of his article to uncritically repeating the anti-Clinton bile of Larry Klayman, "a top Washington watchdog who years ago founded the Judicial Watch organization to monitor government activities and pursue prosecution of illegal government behavior." Of course, as we've noted, WND and other conservatives tended to lose interest in Klayman when his attention turned to Republican misbehavior.
Unruh features Klayman's assertion that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that is holding hearings on Hillary clinton's nomination as secretary of state "apparently is making a determined effort to prevent any discussion of her 'Chinagate' or 'Filegate' scandals." But neither Unruh or Klayman note that those supposed scandals have already been investigated with no official finding of wrongdoing by Clinton.
Under the so-called "Chinagate" scandal, according to Unruh, "technology companies allegedly made donations of millions of dollars to various Democratic Party entities, including President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, in return for permission to sell high-tech secrets to China," with a focus on Bernard Schwartz and his Loral Space & Communication Ltd. But according to an investigation, a team of federal prosecutors headed by Charles LaBella turned up "not a scintilla of evidence–or information–that the president was corruptly influenced by Bernard Schwartz."
Under Filegate, Unruh writes, Bill and Hillary Clinton "were accused of violating the privacy rights of their perceived political enemies by wrongly accessing and misusing the FBI files of Reagan and first Bush administration staffers, among others." In fact, independent counsel Kenneth Starr exonerated both of them of complicity in the matter, saying "while there are outstanding issues that we are attempting to resolve with respect to one individual [we] found no evidence that anyone higher [than White House security officials Craig Livingstone or Anthony Marceca] was in any way involved in ordering the files from the FBI. Second, we have found no evidence that information contained in the files of former officials was used for an improper purpose."
Unruh also repeated a previous false claim made by WND:
In fact, as we've detailed, Polk did not back up any of Zeifman's "major claims" against Hillary Clinton -- that Clinton's brief was "fraudulent," that "Clinton deliberately ignored the then-recent case of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who was allowed to have a lawyer during the impeachment attempt against him in 1970," that "Clinton bolstered her fraudulent brief by removing all of the Douglas files from public access and storing them at her office, enabling her to argue as if the case never existed," and that "Clinton was collaborating with allies of the Kennedys to block revelation of Kennedy-administration activities that made Watergate 'look like a day at the beach.'" Indeed, WND itself reported only that "Polk confirmed the Clinton memo ignored the Douglas case, but he could not confirm or dispel the claim that Hillary removed the files," adding that Polk considered Clinton's alleged exclusion of the Douglas precedent "more stupid than sinister."
Again, WND ignores the fact that Zeifman has materially changed his story regarding Clinton. Zeifman now claims he fired Clinton, but 11 years ago he told the Scripps Howard News Service, "If I had the power to fire her, I would have fired her."
Unruh also adds: "Then there was Travelgate, when the staff of the White House travel office was fired to make way for Clinton cronies." As we've noted, independent counsel Robert Ray has cleared the Clintons of wrongdoing there too, stating that "The Travel Office employees served at the pleasure of President Bill Clinton, and they were subject to discharge without cause," further adding, "Even were cause a prerequisite for the employees' discharge, there was, at the time the firings occurred, evidence of financial mismanagement in the Travel Office."
Finally, while Unruh notes that the Clinton Foundation "reportedly has taken in at least $46 million from Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments, such as Kuwait, Brunei, Oman and Italy," he fails to note that Judicial Watch, when it was headed by Klayman, accepted millions of dollars from foundations controlled by right-wing moneybags Richard Mellon Scaife. Nor does Unruh state where the funding for Klayman's new organization, Freedom Watch, is coming from (though there's no reason not to assume that Klayman remains on the Scaife teat).
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Criticism of Bloggers
The boys at NewsBusters like to ridicule criticism of bloggers in the mainstream media. Among recent examples:
Yet we've no criticism, let alone mention, of this statement by a prominent media figure:
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
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:
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:
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!!!"
UPDATE: Sadly, No! weighs in as well.
Porter Hearts Shoebat, Peddles False Claims
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.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Feulner Misleads on Japan's Economy
Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner writes in a Jan. 13 CNSNews.com column:
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
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.
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:
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 fetid cesspool of Obama hatred 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.
Zeifman Misleads on Social Security
Topic: Accuracy in Media
Actually, according to Media Matters:
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
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.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Clinton Derangement Syndrome Watch
-- Doug Powers, Jan. 12 WorldNetDaily column
Huston: I Love Censorship!
Warner Todd Huston engages in the Depiction-Equals-Approval Fallacy in a Jan. 12 NewsBusters post attacking the Los Angeles Times for doing a story on an art exhibit in a Vietnamese-American enclave that includes communist symbols.
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:
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
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?
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 Hearts Ziegler, Too
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.
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