Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd on Monday criticized the bonuses given to executives of American International Group Inc. and suggested that the government could tax the recipients to recoup some or all of the payouts.
But it was Dodd who inserted language in the $787 billion stimulus bill that exempts the bonuses from taxation.
In fact, as Media Matters details, Dodd's amendment actually limited AIG bonuses, and it did not provide an exemption from any limits on bonuses agreed to before February 11.
Deep Thought Topic: NewsBusters
Now that he's blown the lid off the "great cabal of underground left-wing plotters," does Warner Todd Huston have the guts to take on the Council for National Policy? Or will he cower because his NewsBusters boss is a member?
In her March 17 WorldNetDaily column, Janet Folger Porter offers a formal mea culpa for unciritically repeating the false claim that members of David Wilkerson's New York church made thousands of sandwiches just before 9/11: "There were sandwiches. There were lots of them. But they were not made prior to Sept. 11."
But she's not apologizing for peddling Wilkerson's dire prophecy: "I wish I could say that because I was wrong on the sandwiches detail the rest of Pastor David Wilkerson's warning was also invalid, but I don't believe that is the case." Of course, Porter fails to note that Wilkerson has been making such predictions for at least 35 years.
We don't suppose we'll be seeing an apology from Porter anytime soon for repeating unsubstantiated fantasies about President Obama being a communist-groomed Manchurian candidate, but it may be too much to ask Porter to tell the full truth.
Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid has devoted two recent columns to demanding that a book publisher perform an act of censorship and cancel publication of a book. Why? Kincaid doesn't like the author or the message.
Kincaid is all het up about Mark Rudd's autobiography in which he describes his 1960s radicalism., which is to be published later this month by the Rupert Mordoch-owned publisher HarperCollins. Kincaid writes in a March 10 column: "This is nothing less than an effort by Murdoch’s company to use its resources to promote this communist terrorist and his communist views to millions of Americans, especially young people and students. It is morally wrong and runs the risk of setting the stage for the creation of another violence-oriented student movement."
In a March 12 column, Kincaid conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism; Kincaid claims that Rudd's "anti-Semitism apparently was an outgrowth of his anti-Americanism," though he offers evidence of Rudd doing no more than being critical of Israel's relationship with America and showing support for a Palestinian nation. Again, Kincaid demands that HarperCollins "kill the Rudd book."
The irony here is that Kincaid is demanding that others be censored when he himself is quick to hurl censorship accusations when it comes to his own views. For instance, in a 2007 column, Kincaid asserted that reviving the Fairness Doctrine will "intimidate, harass and censor the conservative media." The AIM archive contains many more examples.
Kincaid concluded that 2007 column by asserting that "Conservatives have to remain committed to freedom of speech and freedom of information." Except, it appears for Mark Rudd.
P.S. We aren't endorsing Rudd's views; we simply oppose censorship as a general principle.
NewsBusters Rants About Jon Stewart Topic: NewsBusters
Jon Stewart is sending the boys at NewsBusters into new fits of anti-liberal bluster.
A March 15 post by Noel Sheppard ludicriously described the faceoff between CNBC's Jim Cramer and Stewart as a "Battle Between Socialism and Capitalism." That's only if you call deficient reporting "capitalism" and criticism of deficient reporting "socialism." Even more ludicrously, Sheppard goes on to defend CNBC's deficient reporting:
For example, Stewart finds it inappropriate that CNBC personalities interview and/or quote CEOs and CFOs concerning what's going on at their respective companies because they're clearly presenting facts and figures that are almost exclusively painting a positive picture regardless of accuracy.
Well, should company representatives therefore not be interviewed by anyone? Should the presumption be that every representative of every corporation is biased and therefore can't be trusted?
If such is the case, shouldn't the same be true of everyone in America including politicians? After all, doesn't anyone that goes in front of a camera or behind a microphone have an agenda, even including comedians such as Stewart who are stepping into the political and economic arenas?
Let's be clear: CNBC is indeed a financial news network. As such, it reports information about companies when it is made available the bulk of which comes from the companies in question.
Is there any other way of doing it?
Well, yeah -- talking to analysts who can provide indications that those comapnies are not telling the truth and can provide fact-based countervailing views. It's called telling both sides of the story -- apparently Sheppard has never heard of the concept.
Sheppard goes on to while: "what else should a financial outlet such as CNBC do to ensure the information it is presenting is accurate? And, why should it be the only one under such pressure?" Uh, because its specialty is financial news, and company CEOs have been using the network as a platform to whitewash criticism?
Sheppard then asserts that Stewart's attack on CNBC is "about personalities Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer making negative comments about Obama's economic policies, and the left can't have that." In fact, Stewart first criticized bad reporting at CNBC in the form of Cramer's claim that Bear Stearns was "not in trouble" less than a week before the company collapsed in March 2008, long before Obama was elected.
And guess what? NewsBusters did too, the same day Stewart did. So where, exactly, is the problem here?
Meanwhile, in a March 16 post, Tim Graham has a cow over the idea that Stewart is expressing a populist sentiment, bashing the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz for calling Stewart an "populist avenging angel."Kurtz, Graham claimed, "failed in this story to consider that Stewart wasn’t an 'avenging angel' for populists, but a transparent shill for liberal Obama-lovers." Like Sheppard, Graham fails to grasp that the issue is not ideological.
Did WND Bankroll Orly Taitz's Stunt? Topic: WorldNetDaily
A March 14 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn touts how Obama birth certificate obsessive Orly Taitz "confronted" Chief Justice John Roberts "with legal briefs and a WND petition bearing names of over 325,000 people asking the court to rule on whether or not the sitting president fulfills the Constitution's 'natural-born citizen' clause." Zahn added that a Secret Service agent accompanying Roberts "accepted two suitcases of documents and pledged to deliver them to Roberts," among them "[t]he WND petition, consisting of 3,300 pages of names – over 325,000 in all – of people demanding the Supreme Court hear the Obama eligibility case."
But as we've detailed, the WND petition is highly secretive and apparently problematic -- the signees are not publicly posted, and there's no apparent verification mechanism to prevent people from signing it more than once or the use of fictitious names. Nor are signers apparently screened for being of legal voting age. Further, there is no evidence whatsoever there are actually the number of signatures on the petition that WND claims.
Given that you and I cannot obtain basic information about this petition, and WND has failed to make such information available to its readers, how did Orly Tatiz get a hold of it?
This smells of a WND-orchestrated stunt. Zahn doesn't disclose how Taitz obtained the signatures on WND's petition, but given the logistics of printing out "3,300 pages of names," the only possible conclusion is that WND teamed up with Taitz -- and perhaps paid some expenses to cover Taitz's trip from California to Idaho, where Roberts spoke -- to create this story.
As with Aaron Klein's Wikipedia-bashing stunt, in which he has now admitted that he set in motion the events he wrote about, the issue is one of disclosure. WND still hasn't told its readers that Klein's articles were altered after publication to remove references tracing Klein to his manipulation, and WND hasn't disclosed its role in supplying Taitz with a copy of its petition.
News organizations are supposed to report the news, not create it. And if they do, they're supposed to fully disclose their role in doing so. WND has done neither.
It's time for WND to man up and start telling the full truth to its readers.
CNS Quotes Republican PR Firms to Bash Dems Topic: CNSNews.com
A March 16 CNSNews.com article by Matt Cover claims that "top advertising and public relations executives told CNSNews.com" that "The Democratic Party is engaged in 'street theater' in its latest campaign against conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh." Cover fails to mention that those PR firms have conservative leanings.
Cover describes Shirley & Banister Public Affairs fawningly as "one of Washington, D.C.’s top political media relations firms" and quotes VP and "media adviser" Diana Banister disparagingly claiming Democrats are "just going to try and tear down everybody, between now and 2010 and 2012. They're going to use their money to do these snarky comments and ad campaigns." But Banister has a record of donating to Republicansand conservative causes, and her PR firm -- headed by longtime conservative activist Craig Shirley -- has a similar record of working for Republicans and conservatives.
The other firm Cover cites, 5W Public Relations ("a Top 20 public relations firm"), has conservative ties as well. According to Wikipedia, agency chief Ronn Torossian is the former media director for the Christian Coalition, and the firm has worked on behalf of numerous evangelical Christians, such as John Hagee and Benny Hinn.
WND, Newsmax Do PR for Judicial Watch Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily and Newsmax served as public-relations agents for Judicial Watch by uncritically repeating their allegations of abuse of military plane privileges by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi without making any effort whatsoever to tell the other side of the story.
WND's Chelsea Schilling hewed the closest to Judicial Watch's press release in a March 10 article, regurgitating Judicial Watch's description of itself as "the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption" and failing to note its history of disproportionate attacks against Democrats.
David Pattten was similarly acquiescent to Judicial Watch in a March 11 Newsmax article, describing it as as "the nonprofit organization that exposes government waste and corruption" and saying nothing about its anti-liberal bias.
Not only did Schilling and Patten both fail to seek comment from Pelosi or anyone else, they both repeated the same anecdotes from Judicial Watch's press release without telling the full story. For instance, both cited a email from from one Pelosi staffer, as described by Patten:
In one instance, a House staffer shot off an e-mail to Air Force officials stating: "It is my understanding there are no G5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable...The speaker will want to know where the planes are."
In fact, as Media Matters and ABC News detail, that particular email came in reference to planes available for bipartisan trips by congressional delegations -- not the speaker's personal travel. Further, many of those congressional delegations included Republicans, which Schilling and Patten also fail to mention.
Meanwhile, Schilling botches the background of the plane issue, writing: "Since Sept. 11, Pelosi has received what the Air Force refers to as 'shuttle service,' allegedly due to concerns for security." False; in fact, the speaker of the House, not Pelosi personally -- who has been speaker only since 2007 -- has received that service since the 9/11 terror attacks. It means that Pelosi's predecessor, Republican Dennis Hastert, took advantage of that privilege as well.
Schilling also uncritically repeats Judicial Watch's claim that "In recent years, Pelosi has reportedly requested a C-32 plane for her travels. The aircraft is a luxurious version of the Boeing 757-200 commercial intercontinental airliner and costs $22,000 an hour to operate." In fact, according to FactCheck.org:
She does not routinely fly about in a 757-size jet that she demanded from the Air Force. She normally flies on the same type of executive jet as her Republican predecessor.
Pelosi has used the Air Force equivalent of a Boeing 757 to fly between Washington, D.C., and her San Francisco district. But she has done so exactly once, when no smaller aircraft was available, according to Air Force spokesman Eric Sharman. At other times she flies in a much smaller, 12-seat executive jet, the same type used by her Republican predecessor, Dennis Hastert.
Telling the full story, it seems, is beyond the journalistic capabilities of both Schilling and Patten.
Tim Graham's on the Heathering trail again, using a March 15 NewsBusters post to once more bash columnist Kathleen Parker for insufficient adherence to conservative dogma. Parker's offense this time is a column suggesting that the decline of newspapers is linked to demonizing of them by conservative "non-journalists."
In the middle of his anti-Parker rant, Graham drops a curious parenthetical aside: "I’m not a 'non-journalist.' I’m a journalist who writes about journalism. Just because the Washington Post wouldn’t hire me doesn’t mean I’m not a journalist."
Actually, the reason Graham is not a journalist has a lot more to do with the fact that he hasn't had anything to do with actual journalism for decades.
Yes, Graham actually worked in journalism at one time -- according to his MRC bio, he "served as a news reporter for the La Crosse (WI) Tribune and local radio stations in Wisconsin."
But he abandoned journalism for right-wing advocacy in 1986, when he became the editor of a newsletter issued by the right-wing Capital Research Center. And no, his short stint as White House correspondent for Marvin Olasky's World magazine doesn't count since that's an advocacy publication too.
Graham went on to further demonstrate he's not a journalist by asserting "overwhelming evidence of liberal media bias" -- despite the fact that he has previously conceded in 2006 that "the great majority of what we watch and read is not noticeably unfair or inaccurate." Graham further rants:
Parker’s not a conservative. Because a conservative would argue the opposite: that liberal newspapers are a threat to a free society, not conservative media critics. Liberal newspapers are the ones who wanted to make America safe for terrorist suspects. Liberal newspapers are the ones whose coverage of Iraq screamed that they wanted America to fail. Liberal newspapers are fully behind turning America into just another European-style no-growth socialist republic.
If Graham was actually a journalist, he would have offered evidence to back this up. He doesn't. Apparently, he thinks that asserting that there's "overwhelming evidence of liberal media bias" makes it so. It doesn't.
Of course, a real journalist would know that. We know that Graham isn't, and all his assertions to the contrary won't change that.
Besides, would a real journalist be obsessing so much about the ideological purity of others? We're pretty sure the answer is no.
WND Shoots Down Porter's Column Topic: WorldNetDaily
Richard Bartholomew notes that WorldNetDaily has essentially retracted Janet Folger Porter's March 10 column, in which she claims that pastor David Wilkerson -- whose prediction of the imminent destruction of New York City WND has been promoting despite the fact that Wilkerson has been making such predictions for a good 35 years now -- was "was warned by God that a calamity was coming," which moved he and others to make thousands of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the night before the 9/11 terror attacks. WND has now appended an editor's note at the start of Porter's column:
Editor's note: The story in this column about Times Square Church making thousands of sandwiches just prior to 9/11 is false. Janet Porter confirmed the story with a church staff member as she wrote the column, but was given incorrect information. WorldNetDaily regrets the error.
This isn't the first time Porter has made dubiously sourced claims. As we've detailed, she uncritically repeated anti-gay claims made by a neo-Nazi racist.
Sheppard Likens Obama to Soviets, Nazis Topic: Washington Examiner
Noel Sheppard has another too-hot-for-NewsBusters column up at the Washington Examiner, and this time he's in a mood to smear:
Seems like our new president is using unreasoning, unjustified terror to paralyze the petrified masses into unconditionally surrendering to a proposal that is either totally unnecessary or based on rose-colored assumptions that can’t possibly pan out.
Whichever the case, it is no basis for America throwing away liberty and our very way of life.
Discarding centuries of freedom and capitalism to save some people from hard financial times must be avoided like a bank stock for it is precisely such myopia that led to the Red Revolution in Russia in the early 1900’s. Did that succeed, or was it a huge mistake?
Or how about National Socialism in Germany? Wasn’t that an atrocious decision made by a seemingly desperate people scared enough by horrid economic conditions to elect an inhumane dictator in return for financial security?
In a March 6 post Aaron Saltsman -- "intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia" -- wonders why nobody is answering the questions he threw out for discussion in an earlier post. He goes on to list ConWebWatch among the organizations that "spare no time attacking Accuracy in Media whenever they can."
We'll ignore the logical contradiction of what he wrote and focus on he actually meant to say. We don't attack AIM mindlessly; we use our platform responsibly to point out AIM's factualmisrepesentations and paranoid rantings.
Saltzman also describes me as "a professional attack-dog blogger" (Saltzman clearly knows little about the economics of blogging) who "has attacked little ol’ me personally ... and I’m just an intern!" Again, we didn't criticize Saltzman willy-nilly; we merely highlighted Saltzman's baseless rant against a newspaper reporter who wrote something he didn't agree with.
Anyway, Saltzman is pondering why nobody's answering his questions, which are:
How do you justify the left wing media bias conservatives nationwide observe in outlets like CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times?
How do you justify the Democrats' stimulus package, including TARP? How do you see it helping out the country when even the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized TARP's effectiveness, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the stimulus will generate long term economic losses and reduced wages?
The Republican Party's fiscal platform emphasizes focusing the decision-making on state and local governments, rather than the federal House, Senate and President's office. Do you disagree with that ideology? If so, why?
We don't really do policy, so question two and three are out. That leaves us with question one, and we question the premise.
Even Tim Graham, director of media analysis at AIM rival group the Media Research Center, conceded in 2006 that "the great majority of what we watch and read is not noticeably unfair or inaccurate." And it can be argued that Media Matters has found at least as many examples of conservative misinformation in the "mainstream media" than AIM and the MRC found of "left-wing bias,"which would seem to put the lie to the claim that the mainstream media is "left wing."
The problem with the media is less one of bias and more one of lazy or sloppy reporting. While the personal beliefs of many people in the media may skew liberal, part of journalists' training is the ability to keep personal beliefs out of their reporting. A quick perusal of conservative "news" sites like Newsmax, WorldNetDaily and CNSNews.com would seem to confirm the idea that conservative reporters are less able to keep personal views from coloring their reporting than liberal ones are.
I worked as journalist for 17 years, so I know this firsthand. Saltzman is working for an advocacy organization and reflects that organization's agenda; he does not, as far as we know, have any actual journalistic experience. His idea of journalistic "balance," we suspect, is figuring out ways for conservative messages to prevail.
Yet, has anyone seen any similar scolding of the new "cheerleader" in chief, Obama? Has anyone seen an [Jonathan] Alter sternly scolding Obama for "poor-mouthing" the economy? Has there been any hectoring from CNN over Obama's grave warnings? Where is The New York Times beating up that downcast Obama?
-- Warner Todd Huston, Dec. 8, 2008 NewsBusters post
For general discussion and debate. Possible talking point: Great Depression II has been called off!!!
You believe this? For almost exactly six months candidate, president-elect, and President Obama has been telling us the world is coming to an end if we don't do exactly what he tells us to do. Now, after throwing an astounding amount of taxpayer dollars at the problem, things suddenly aren't as bad as he's been saying?
Gainor Repeats Global Warming Fallacy Topic: CNSNews.com
In his March 11 CNSNews.com column, Dan Gainor writes that this past winter's "weather has been inconveniently cold. Thirty-two states have experienced record or near-record lows this winter – poking holes in the predictions of imminent fiery doom."
Actually, no, it doesn't. As we noted when Gainor's MRC Business & Media Institute made the same claim, there's no correlation between isolated "record or near-record lows" and the purported lack of global warming -- something even fellow global warming denier Patrick Michaels concurs with.
Humes Can't Substantiate Obama Quote, Stands By It Anyway Topic: Newsmax
We detailed how James Humes, in his March 12 Newsmax column, purported to quote President Obama saying of a bust of Winston Churchill, "Get that goddamn thing out of here." Humes has now amended his column -- not by deleting a quote for which he has yet to provide a credible source for, but by adding another paragraph:
While the story was never fully substantiated, despite frequent repetition on radio talk shows, the sentiment seems to have been confirmed by Obama's subsequent actions.
Translation: I can't prove Obama said this -- in fact, I can't even name anyone who said he did, despite "frequent repetition on radio talk shows" -- but I'll pretend he did anyway because it meshes so well with my smear of Obama.
Humes also alters another falsehood, substituting the false claim that Obama "grew up in Kenya" with the statement that Obama is "the son of a Kenyan." Humes' ugly smear of Obama plotting tribal revenge, however, remains intact.
Of course, nowhere in Humes' column is it indicated that it has been altered from its original publication, let alone an apology issued for publishing falsehoods and unsubstantiated claims. Fortunately, we saved a copy of Humes' original falsehoods to document Humes' careless, malicious writing.
Indeed, Humes has trouble getting simple facts about Obama correct; as we documented, last September, Humes asserted that Obama "was schooled in Kenya home of his Islam-raised father, who had four wives." Newsmax had to excise that false claim too.
If Humes keeps making such basic, blatant errors and ugly smears, why does Newsmax continue to publish him? Perhaps they think they need a new Norman Liebmann.