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Thursday, February 12, 2009
James Hirsen's Tantrum
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax's James Hirsen -- if you'll remember, he's the guy who falsely claimed that U2 was "teaming up with" right-wing senator Rick Santorum when, in fact, Santorum's campaign merely bought U2 concert tickets to resell to donors -- let loose an anti-Obama and anti-Democrat screed in his weekly "Left Coast Report" column.

In ranting against the stimulus bill, Hirsen referenced "House Reeker Nancy Pelosi" and claimed that "President Obama is doing his un-level best to terrify folks with predictions of 'catastrophe' if his gargantuan-sized taxpayer stickup fails."

Hirsen also stated: "The mainstream media are willing allies in the president’s propaganda feed." That's rather rich coming from a writer for a website that's a willing ally in the right-wing propaganda feed (as is Hirsen himself).

Hirsen's little screed concludes: "But the real catastrophe is going to happen if the entranced segment of the public doesn’t snap out of it before our beloved America has to change her name to USSA." Uh, yeah.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:08 AM EST
New Article: Brent Bozell's Evasion
Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center accused ABC of refusing to respond to its attack on George Stephanopoulos -- but the MRC's news division killed a story that would have contained ABC's response. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 2:11 AM EST
Noel Sheppard Shocked-By-The-Unshocking Watch
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard expresses surprise that a Republican media consultant was allowed on CNN to "deride media darlings Al Gore and Paul Krugman in virtually the same sentence."

Sheppard does this kind of thing a lot.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:09 AM EST
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
WND Repeats Bogus Obama Attack
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 10 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn stated: "As WND reported, the president's proposed stimulus package restricts school campuses that accept building funds from permitting 'sectarian instruction' or 'religious worship' in structures built or modernized with the federal money."

As we've documented, that is a lie. The bill restricts money from going to public facilities whose primary purpose is "sectarian instruction" or "religious worship"-- as public funding has been restricted from for decades.

We'd ask WND to discipline or fire Zahn, but telling lies about Obama is WND's raison d'etre these days.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 PM EST
O'Leary Promotes His Own Misleading Poll
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Feb. 11 WorldNetDaily column by Brad O'Leary touts "a recent poll conducted by ATI-News and Zogby International" purporting to demonstrate that President Obama's stiumulus plan is unpopular with voters. But the poll questions, as described are clearly skewed to provide a negative impression of the plan to those being polled:

  • "Some people say that the nearly one-trillion dollars in debt and subsequent interest incurred by the stimulus bill during an economic downturn will make the recovery hard to achieve. Do you agree or disagree?"
  • "Some Republicans say the Obama stimulus package spends too much and stimulates too little. Do you agree or disagree?"
  • "Most Republicans oppose the currently proposed stimulus bill supported by President Obama because they say there is too much money being spent for non-stimulus items. Do you agree or disagree that too much money is being spent on items that won't improve the economy?"

Poll respondents only heard the views of Republicans and "some people" about the stimulus, not the other side. That makes the poll biased and, thus, unreliable.

Further, readers don't learn until reading O'Leary's bio tag at the end of the column at O'Leary is president of ATI-News. As we've noted, ATI News is merely an aggregator of other news websites and generates no original content, and O'Leary is author of the WorldNetDaily-published Obama-bashing speculative fantasy "The Audacity of Deceit." So O'Leary clearly has a biased agenda to push, as if the Zogby poll he commissioned wasn't evenough proof of that.

O'Leary further demonstreates his disregard for the truth by also citing "a snap poll of Americans was taken by America Online" in which, "according to the 207,000 Americans who responded, he got an 'F.'" As we've previously detailed, AOL polls are opt-in and susceptible to "freeping" -- the practice of organizing like-minded voters to skew an online poll, as practiced by the right-wing Free Republic -- so its results are even more unreliable than that Zogby poll.

O'Leary's shoddy polling and biased agenda proves nothing. He should leave the polling to real pollsters.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:39 AM EST
WND, CNS Repeat False Claim About Stimulus
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily and have joined Newsmax in the right-wing echo chamber of falsehoods regarding a claim forwarded in a Bloomberg commentary about the stimulus bill.

A Feb. 9 WND article by Bob Unruh uncritically repeated Betsy McCaughey's assertion that the provision in the stiumulus bill would bring about "likelihood of rationed care – or a health care system that simply provides treatment when it determines the cost-benefit ratio for the treatment and the patient meets its guidelines." Similarly, a Feb. 10 CNS article by Susan Jones claimed that the provision "creates a National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, 'designed to monitor your treatments, to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective,' as a commentary on the Bloomberg news wire reported on Monday."

And a Feb. 11 CNS article by Fred Lucas repeats McCaughey's assertion that the provision is about "coercing doctors to limit care" while making no apparent attempt to seek out anyone to respond to the claim.

Unruh, Jones and Lucas -- much like Newsmax's David Patten -- all fail to fact-check McCaughey's claim. In fact, language in the House bill that McCaughey referenced does not establish authority to "monitor treatments" or restrict what "your doctor is doing" with regard to patient care but, rather, 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."

That's a trifecta of ConWeb bamboozelement. Is it any wonder that they're not treated seriously as reliable news sources?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:04 AM EST
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

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