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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Examiner Repeats Discredited Right-Wing Memes
Topic: Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner's Feb. 8 list of the "10 worst ideas of the week" featured in first place the bogus claim that a provision in the stimulus bill regarding funding construction on college campuses forbids religious expression.

In fifth place was a attack on the Employee Free Choice Act -- which it calls "The Union Thug Advancement Act -- falsely claiming that it will "end secret ballots on union representation elections"; it doesn't.

Any chance that next week's "10 worst ideas" will list among them the dangers of repeating discredited right-wing tropes? 

Posted by Terry K. at 1:14 AM EST
Newsmax Repeats Right-Wing 'Expert's' Falsehood
Topic: Newsmax

We've previously noted Newsmax's propensity for having "experts" weigh in on President Obama's initiatives without bothering to inform readers about the uniform right-wing tilt of those "experts."

It does so again in a Feb. 10 article by David Patten, in which "experts tell Newsmax" that a provision in the stimulus package "will set America on the road to socialized medicine, involve the government in your choice of a doctor, and inevitably trigger another funding crisis that will be used to justify still greater federal intervention in America’s healthcare industry."

One slight problem: It's not true.

Patten cites two "experts" to bolster his claim. One is Betsy McCaughey, whom Patten fluffs as "the former New York lieutenant governor who has made healthcare reform her life’s work" (a claim that appears to be lifted from McCaughey's Wikipedia page). Patten regurgitates McCaughey's claim that the provision "creates a new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, to 'guide' decisions your doctor makes about your healthcare. She writes 'enforcing uniformity goes too far.'"

That's false. As Media Matters details, the provision does not establish authority to monitor treatments or restrict what your doctor is doing with regard to patient care; rather, it addresses establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have complete, accurate information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."

If McCaughey can't tell the truth about the subject to which she has purportedly dedicated her "life's work," she's not much of an "expert," is she?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:35 AM EST
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Selective Outrage Over 'Radical' Protests
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 10 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock complained that a "Good Morning America" segment on "a radical housing group run by CEO Bruce Marks ... glossed over the extreme actions" of the group. Among those actions, Whitlock claims, are "picket[ing] outside the schools of children whose parents work for banks that are not acquiescing to the group's demands."

But Whitlock failed to note that similar tactics are employed by anti-abortion protesters:

On Tuesday, July 18th, for the first time in ten years, protesters arrived on Dr. Joseph Booker's block in Jackson, Mississippi. They went door to door, ringing bells and telling people that their neighbor, the state's last abortion provider, is a baby killer. A few weeks before that, protestors showed up at the Raleigh, North Carolina, home of Susan Hill, the owner of the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the clinic where Booker works. Soon the death threats started coming. "There is a feeling that things are ramping up," Hill says. "The protestors that we see in various places are more vocal, screaming, not just protesting."

Is there a difference between the two groups' tactics? Not really. Yet we can't recall anyone at the MRC similarly taking offense at such tactics when anti-abortion protesters use them.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 PM EST
Aaron Klein (and Janet Porter) Desperate Obama Smear Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Aaron Klein's guilt-by-association obsession with trying to link Barack Obama to communists continues with a Feb. 8 WorldNetDaily article in which he cites "the leader of the Communist Party USA" as claiming that Obama is "considering" a "radical agenda to nationalize the U.S. financial system, the Federal Reserve Bank, and private industries."

Klein somehow fails to mention that the leader of the Communist Party USAis not a member of the Obama administration and cannot be plausibly portrayed as speaking for Obama.

Why does Klein do this? Apparently to fuel the right-wing fantasies of people like WND columnist Janet Folger Porter.

As if motivated by a Pavlovian response, Porter's Feb. 10 column cites Klein's article in an effort to prove Obama is a communist -- she seems to have given up for the time being her agitation for the release of Obama's birth certificate, perhaps by a desire to tamp down the possibly illegal use of her organization, Faith2Action, in promoting her anti-Obama fanaticism -- happily stating that "the leader of the Communist Party USA is doing Communist cartwheels because he believes that it's his Communist agenda that's being embraced."

Porter also repeats a claim by somebody named Tom Fife, who purports that during a visit to Russia in the early '90s, a diehard communist told him of a man named Barack who was being groomed to be a U.S. president and was "one of us, a Soviet." Porter admits that "I can't prove whether it's true or not," then claims that "There have been attempts to discredit Fife with made up details." So obviously she believes it, whatever the facts may be. Indeed, it seems that it doesn't to Porter at all whether the story is true -- it smears Obama, so that's enough for her.

But then, telling the truth has never been Porter's strong suit, has it?

UPDATE: Wonkette sends some ridicule Porter's way.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:02 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:32 PM EST
Kessler Uncritically Repeats Lies About Obama, Stimulus
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax's Ronald Kessler appears to have little problem with letting false or misleading claims he quotes in his columns regarding Barack Obama stand uncorrected.

He does so again in his Feb. 9 column, in which he quotes Ken Klukowski, " a legal expert who consults for major conservative interest groups," as saying of Obama: "Remember, Barack Obama has spoken out in terms of redistributive justice and considered it a shame that the Warren Court, which is the most liberal court in American history, did not engage in wealth redistribution."

That is false -- Obama never said that. As we've repeatedly noted, the context of Obama's words clearly demonstrate that he said the civil rights movement relied too much on the court system to advance its agenda instead of promoting change from the bottom up, i.e., legislatively, and that the Warren Court did not address it was a sign that it was not as radical as right-wingers have claimed it to be.

In a Feb. 10 column, Kessler uncritically passes along a claim by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan that "spending stimuluses were tried in Japan in the 1990s and in America in the 1930s, but they never have worked." In fact, as Media Matters has pointed out, New Deal and Japanese stimulus packages were shown to fail only when their implementation was abandoned in an attempt to reduce deficits.

Kessler also repeats Ryan's claim that "7 percent of the money gets spent this year and 31 percent next year. The majority of the money doesn’t even get spent for two or three years." In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, 64 percent of the stimulus is scheduled to be spent by the end of fiscal year 2010.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:28 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 12:19 AM EST
MRC Abandons Armstrong Williams
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 9 NewsBusters post by Scott Whitlock noted that MSNBC had on "syndicated talk show host Armstrong Williams to bash Limbaugh over the issue of how much power the radio star has within the GOP." Unmentioned by Whitlock: Williams is a conservative.

Very much mentioned by Whitlock, though:

Williams has been a somewhat less prominent figure since an incident in 2005 in which it was revealed that he had been paid $240,000 to promote President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act on his syndicated television show. According to a January 5, 2005 USA Today article, the host said he didn't recall mentioning the agreement on air.

That appears to be the first time the MRC has used this against Williams or even mentioned it in a critical way. After all, nobody -- especially fellow conservatives -- is permitted to say anything negative about the sainted Limbaugh. (Whitlock does note that Rep. Phil Gingrey found that out the hard way.) When the MRC has mentioned it in the past, it was to minimize Williams' transgressions in the face of allegedly more serious scandals involving liberals:

  • A January 2005 CyberAlert wasn't happy that Keith Olbermann "insisted on Monday night that the case of Armstrong Williams taking money from the Bush administration combined with the CBS panel finding no political bias behind CBS's hit job on President Bush, discredits the idea of any liberal media bias."
  • A January 2006 column by Brent Bozell noted that "The liberal media made loud grunts and noises over columnist Armstrong Williams," and concedes that "If a columnist is working for a government program or entity, it’s always best to disclose to readers your involvement, so they can judge your point of view more fully." Bozell then immediately plays the equivalence game: "But where is that media-ethics crowd erupting with the same outrage when liberal journalists – even major liberal journalists – cut ethical corners and feather their own political nests?"
  • Bozell plays the same equivalence game in a November 2006 column, noting that liberals "complained when conservative P.R. man Armstrong Williams struck a deal with the Department of Education to promote the Bush 'No Child Left Behind' policy," then adding: "But the same left-wing crowd that claims to hate propaganda seems to be offering nothing but flowers and best wishes for the November launch of al-Jazeera English."

We've previously noted that the MRC's news operation,, ignored the Williams scandal when it first broke. But in October 2008, CNS quoted Williams questioning the "credibility" fo Gwen Ifill for moderating a vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin when Ifill had authored a bookon black politicians in the "age of Obama." CNS did not note the pot-kettle-black irony of Williams' claim.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:23 AM EST
Meanwhile ...
Topic: NewsBusters
Last week, County Fair's Jamison Foser pointed out a certain lack of reading comprehension skills on the part of NewsBusters' Tom Blumer, who asserted in a Feb. 4 post that a paragraph in a Washington Post article about Tom Daschle was actually about Tim Geithner. Blumer has since responded to Foser -- and still gets the facts wrong.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:06 AM EST
FrontPageMag Peddles Falsehoods on Illegal Immigrant Criminals
Topic: Horowitz

A Feb. 9 FrontPageMag article by Alyssa A. Lappen makes the wildly fraudulent statement that "Illegal aliens account for most federal prison inmates, too, according to many studies." Lappen's source for this is an article in the right-wing City Journal that doesn't directly make that claim.

In fact, as we've noted, statistics from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics show that 6.4 percent of all state and federal inmates at midyear 2005 were "noncitizens." In case it's unclear to Lappen, that number is nowhere near "most."

Lappen also writes: "Immigration cases made up 57% of 'all new federal criminal cases brought nationwide' in March 2008, according to Syracuse University-affiliated analysts. They include hundreds of thousands of criminals[.]" While the first claim is true, according to the New York Times article she quotes, the second is decidedly not: the Times reports there were 9,350 new immigration prosecutions in March 2008, not "hundreds of thousands."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:33 AM EST
Monday, February 9, 2009
Bozell Ignores CNS' Suppression of ABC Response
Topic: Media Research Center

Brent Bozell has finally responded to the letter by ABC spokesperson Kerry Smith over Bozell's attack on ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Bozell accused Smith of acting "inadequately, disingenuously and indeed dishonestly" and "accusing me of intentional deceit in this serious matter." But at no point in his letter does Bozell mention, much less respond to, the specific accusation of "deceit" that Smith detailed.

As we've detailed, after Bozell accused ABC of refusing to respond publicly to his claim that Stephanopoulos was, in Bozell's words, engaging in "a clear violation of journalistic ethics" by holding daily talks with longtime friends James Carville, Paul Begala and Rahm Emanuel, Smith pointed out that days before Bozell's ABC-bashing letter came out, ABC gave a statement to Bozell's news operation,, on the issue for a story that CNS killed. Further, as we've also detailed, CNS editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey confirmed (albeit buried in a weekend story) that this allegation was true (Jeffrey claimed a purported "conflict of interest"). Jeffrey also stated that CNS did not inform Bozell of ABC's response until after ABC had raised the issue of CNS' killed story.

The accompanying MRC press release claims that Smith was "hurling false allegations at Bozell and the MRC" -- but like Bozell it failed to note that the one accusation of deceit Smith cited was largely true.

Bozell is still wrong in claiming that ABC didn't respond to his original accusations, and his silence on that matter tells us that he knows he was busted on that but is too stubborn and/or arrogant to admit he was wrong. 

Nevertheless, Bozell accuses ABC of engaging in the same behavior he himself is exhibiting:

Finally and most importantly is the matter at hand – the damaged institutional memory at ABC News, especially apparent among you senior executives.  You suffer from collective amnesia.   Mr. Stephanopoulos, Mr. Begala, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Carville ran the 1992 Clinton campaign and labored together as Democratic strategists and message makers both before and after Clinton’s election.  To not even address this fact, and how there just might be even an appearance of impropriety, suggests your institutional memory only goes back to the day Mr. Stephanopoulos came aboard.

Bozell's institutional memory, meanwhile, appears to go  back only two days -- ignoring the fact that his own news organization has copped to its role in the deception that ABC accuses him of.

Further, at no point does Bozell and the MRC provide a copy of, or otherwise link to, Smith's original letter, presumably lest his readers learn about the deception Bozell would rather keep on the down-low. 

Posted by Terry K. at 6:59 PM EST
Newsmax Columnist Defends O'Reilly, Doesn't Mention His Offense
Topic: Newsmax

A Feb. 8 Newsmax column by S.E. Cupp -- an apparent Ann Coulter wannabe (as the accompanying picture of her suggests) who has written a book titled "Why You're Wrong About the Right -- asserted that a New York Times editorial described Bill O'Reilly as "an example of anti-immigration racism," calling the charge "libelous -- and entirely inaccurate." But at no point does Cupp identify or explain the O'Reilly remark the Times cited that led to that conclusion.

The Times had written, "Google the words 'Bill O’Reilly' and 'white, Christian male power structure' for another YouTube taste of the Fox News host assailing the immigration views of 'the far left' (including The Times) as racially traitorous." Indeed, if you do so, you will find a 2007 statement by O'Reilly on his radio show claiming that "The New York Times wants ... to change the white, Christian male power structure. That's what they want."

Since Cupp does not acknowledge the statement O'Reilly made, she really has no basis upon which to claim that the Times' highlighting of the statement is "libelous -- and entirely inaccurate." Indeed, O'Reilly himself has painted himself as a "misunderstood" victim even as he has failed to explain the statement.

How can Cupp defend O'Reilly when she fails to acknowlege what he originally said? 

Posted by Terry K. at 3:40 PM EST
NewsBusters Baselessly Accuses Maddow of 'Anti-Religious Bias'
Topic: NewsBusters

A Feb. 6 NewsBusters post by Jeff Poor follows in the footsteps of WorldNetDaily by accepting alarming claims by a Republican senator at face value while dismissing the facts that contradict him.

Poor accuses Rachel Maddow of "anti-religious media bias" by correcting Republican Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate floor rant about how a clause in the stimulus bill that bars federal funding for school facilities that are primarily or exclusively used for religious purposes infringes on freedom of religion. And how was Maddow being "anti-relgious"? By pointing out that similar clauses have appeared in federal funding bills "for 46 years."

Instead, Poor focused on the fact that Maddow "cut out over two minutes in the middle of DeMint's speech to take him out of context." But since DeMint's basic premise was flawed, two minutes of DeMint ranting about how, in Poor's words, "the bill was susceptible to a potential lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union" would have added nothing to Maddow's take.

Poor also claims that "According to a spokesman from DeMint's office, this provision is completely different." But Poor offers no documentation to support this claim; rather, he links to a article he wrote for MRC's Culture & Media Institute that makes the same inflammatory claim as DeMint without noting the clause's long history of appearing in federal funding bills.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:38 PM EST
CNS Sheepishly Confirms ABC's Claim of Killed Story
Topic: rarely posts original articles over the weekend, but it did so Feb. 7, with an article by Fred Lucas that -- if you scroll way to the end -- addresses ABC's allegation that CNS killed a story that would have contained ABC's response to Media Research Center chief (and CNS president) Brent Bozell's accusation that ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos was engaging in "a clear violation of journalistic ethics" by holding daily talks with longtime friends James Carville, Paul Begala and Rahm Emanuel.

The article starts off with ABC's denial that Stephanopoulos is "advis[ing]" Emanuel or the Obama White House and disputing the tone of the Politico article that launched this, and Bozell still insisting that Stephanopoulos is and essentially calling ABC spokeswoman Emily Lenzner a liar: "If the story is not true, one would expect George Stephanopoulos and ABC to loudly, unequivocally, immediately and unrelentingly denounce Politico for running an untrue story. Instead, they’re attacking me for simply repeating what Politico said."

But it's not until the 22nd paragraph of the article that we get to the real meat of this story: that ABC did, in fact, criticize the Politico story in its comments to CNS that were not published at the time they were made -- and are, presumably, the comments that lead off this Feb. 7 article. The article then addresses ABC's specific allegation against CNS:

The ABC letter also noted that, as part of its own reporting on the issue, had been in contact with the network’s media relations staff. Smith said ABC “cooperated immediately” with an “on the record response,” but had “since learned from your reporter that his story was killed.”
Terry Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of, said in a statement Friday, Feb. 6, why a story on the ABC statement did not run earlier.
“I decided on Friday, January 30, that I did not want to run a story about a dispute between’s parent organization and ABC News because it presented a conflict of interest for us,” Jeffrey said. “I made the decision in consultation with our managing editor.”
“I did not discuss this decision with MRC President Brent Bozell, nor did I inform him about the fact that we had considered running a story and not done so, or of the substance of the statement ABC provided to reporter Fred Lucas until the afternoon of Thursday, February 5,” Jeffrey said. 

Lucas and Jeffrey work in the same office, yet Lucas has to rely on an apparently prepared statement from Jeffrey to tell CNS' side of the story? Jeffrey's statement was not released publicly, as far as we know.

Further, Jeffrey did not let Bozell know about ABC's statement to CNS "until the afternoon of Thursday, February 5" -- that is, after ABC's letter pointing that CNS had killed the story was sent and, perhaps more to the point, posted by Politico's Michael Calderone.

There's also no direct admission by Bozell that he erred in claiming that ABC has been silent on the issue, and that perhaps his left hand should have known what his right hand was doing. Indeed, this article is the only place within the MRC empire that this issue has even been addressed -- buried at the bottom of a report posted on the slowest readership day of the week. Yet the MRC front page still features Bozell's bogus attack on ABC with the headline: "Bozell to ABC President: You Must Publicly Address Stephanopoulos' Apparent Conflict of Interest." 

Also, Jeffrey's claim that CNS reporting on the Bozell-ABC spat 'presented a conflict of interest for us" rings a bit hollow, since CNS generally has little problem promoting corporate initiatives -- indeed, CNS news stories have regularly repeated claims made by MRC and its sister organizations, and its mission statement touts that "Study after study by the Media Research Center, the parent organization of, clearly demonstrate a liberal bias in many news outlets." Isn't the whole point of CNS to help promote the conservative agenda of its owner? It's a little too late for Jeffrey -- who, as we've noted, has a long conservative pedigree -- to declare independence and fret about journalistic ethics now.

It seems that CNS was willing to sit on the truth of ABC's response, which proved a key contention by Bozell wrong, until ABC called them out on it. That's a more serious ethical breach than the purported "conflict of interest" between CNS and Bozell.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:36 PM EST
Your WND Lie of the Day
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh uncritically repeats claims by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice that a clause in a provision in the stimulus bill that bans federal funding of construction of school facilities whose primary purpose is religious is an "attempt to censor religious speech and worship on school campuses across the nation." Unruh makes no apparent attempt to seek out a response to Sekulow and Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, whom Unruh also quotes opining on the issue.

Too bad, because Sekulow and DeMint appear to be lying.

As Media Matters details, the clause to which Sekulow and DeMint are referring specifically addresses higher education -- Sekulow and Unruh imply that it applies to public schools -- and the provision is nearly identical to provisions included in numerous other bills passed by Congress, including those passed when the Republicans were in the majority.

Further, at no point do Unruh, Sekulow, and DeMint explain how the clause specifically bans "organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Catholic Student Ministries, Hillel and other religious groups" from using public facilities. The clause clearly states that funding is banned for facilities used exclusively or substantially for a "religious mission," which does not apply to, as DeMint suggests, dorm rooms, let alone facilities that religious groups might use that are also made available to other campus groups.

In short, Unruh is merely regurgitating right-wing scare tactics, which, unfortunately, we've come to expect from him.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:17 AM EST
Shocker: ConWeb Debunks (Some) Obama Smears
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In an effort to give credit where credit is due, it's worth pointing out that a couple of ConWeb outlets have demonstrated the possible existence of a conscience by actually debunking false smears regarding Barack Obama.

A Jan. 19 Accuracy in Media column by Cliff Kincaid stated that some conservative blogs were "claiming without evidence that Leon Panetta, the former Clinton chief of staff and incoming CIA director, has a radical daughter named Linda who associates with Hugo Chavez and other Latin American revolutionaries." She's not -- Kincaid is surprisingly conciliatory toward her, allowing her to tell her views (which actually aren't so "radical"). Even more surprisingly, Kincaid adds: "But even if Leon Panetta had a left-wing daughter or son, it’s difficult to believe this would be the kind of thing that would be covered up to this extent. After all, why should Panetta―or any parent, for that matter―be held responsible for the views or activities of a child."

That doesn't keep Kincaid, though, from touting what he claims at the top of his column to be "obscure and hidden left-wing connections of members of the new Obama Administration."

A Jan. 31 WorldNetDaily article highlights a claim that the Obama White House was planning "to have soldiers pledge allegiance to the president instead of the nation and its Constitution" -- then pointed out that "the Department of Defense knew nothing about the 'issue.'"

Even more surprisingly, WND busted one of its favorite people of late -- Orly Taitz, who has filed numerous lawsuits "challenging Obama's qualifications for the Oval Office under the Constitution's requirement that the president be a 'natural born' citizen" -- as promoting the bogus rumor. Unfortunately, WND then lets Taitz explain why it's only logical that "we believe everything bad, illegal and unconstitutional when it comes to Obama."

The article also claims that "In fact, WND has reported in the past on Obama's desire to change some ideas in the Constitution." But as we've detailed, WND has lied about Obama's statements regarding the Constitution.

So WND knows how to tell the truth about Obama. If only it knew how to tell its readers the truth about Obama's birth certificate.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 AM EST
Sunday, February 8, 2009
NewsBusters: Still Proving Stephen Colbert Right
Topic: NewsBusters

As we've previously noted, the Media Research Center seems determined, in its Javert-like obsession over any perceived slight to conservatives, to be the living embodiment of Stephen Colbert's statement that "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." In that spirit, a couple of NewsBusters posts choose to interpret reality as, yes, liberal bias.

Kyle Drennen, in a Feb. 6 post, has decided that CBS is "defend[ing]" the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Why? Because of a report stating that "President Bush said repeatedly he wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo, where suspected terrorists were being held indefinitely without trial. Turns out it was his own vice president who stood in the way," and because it corrected the claim made by former Vice President Dick Cheney that 61 former Guantanamo detainees have returned to terrorism by pointing out that "only 18 have been confirmed."

At no point does Drennen contradict any of the claims made by the CBS report; rather, he seems to be complaining that CBS is committing bias by reporting the truth.

Scott Whitlock has a similar freak-out over factual reporting in another Feb. 6 post, taking offense at NBC's "Today" for noting the popularity of President Obama as demonstrated by the various Obama tsochkes available, huffing that the show "decided to fawn over the branding of the new President" and was "marveling at the new Obama-related products." Again, no contradiction of the facts, merely offense that the undeniable fact of Obama's popularity was acknowledged in a news report.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:57 AM EST

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