Back in 2004, we busted FrontPageMag's Ben Johnson for making false and misleading claims about Teresa Heinz Kerry's philanthropy. Kerry's husband lost the election more than four years ago, but FrontPageMag is still at it.
In a March 27 FrontPageMag, Johnson again misleads about contributions by the Heinz Endowments (in which Heinz Kerry plays a role in distributing) to the Tides Foundation, writing that "Teresa donated more than $8.1 million to Tides [Foundation] and established a branch in western Pennsylvania," then went on to list the purportedly "radical" organizations to which Tides has links. Johnson fails to mention the important fact that, as we've detailed, Heinz money was earmarked for specific projects, not a general donation to the Tides Foundation.
Johnson tries to gloss over his omission by claiming that "Tides keeps up to ten percent of the transaction as its fee, and from this largesse it finances such radicals as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR)." But as we've also detailed when WorldNetDaily made that claim, that's a grotesque logical distortion and a desperate attempt at guilt-by-association.
Johnson adds this curious caveat near the start of his article:
Nothing in this report should be construed as suggesting that the Heinz Endowments are only political organizations or engage in no philanthropic gestures.
That's another misleading statement. If Johnson wasn't out to smear Heinz Kerry and the Heinz Endowments, he would be more interested in telling the full truth. But he's not.
On top of this, the self-proclaimed “watchdogs” at ThinkProgress and Media Matters are busily cherry picking supposedly offensive snippets from those having the nerve to say or write anything they don’t agree with. Laughably, such edit advice extends to the Obama-loving Chris Matthews irrespective of his obvious support for Democrats and liberal policies.
What this means is the goal is not to create a fair and balanced media which many on the Right desire. Hardly. What these folks strive for is a complete and total elimination of all opinion and viewpoints that are not in complete and total lockstep with their own.
Really? You wouldn't know that from reading the site for which Sheppard serves as associate editor, NewsBusters. Postafterpost at NewsBusters -- including by Sheppardhimself -- attack media outlets and those working for them for making statements conservatives like Sheppard don't agree with. It's difficult to argue that such attacks demonstrate that "the Right" wants only to "create a fair and balanced media."
Sheppard needs to stop pretending that his NewsBusters boss, Brent Bozell, is merely interested in balance when the evidence -- like cherry-picking 19 posts out of tens of thousands to attack the Huffington Post -- amply demonstrates the contrary.
(Disclosure: I work for Media Matters and post at Huffington Post, but neither have any involvement, financially or otherwise, in ConWebWatch.)
Following the Thread: James Hirsen and Mel Gibson Topic: Newsmax
Amazing where you end up when you follow a thread.
In a March 24 "Left Coast Report" item, Newsmax's James Hirsen unsurprisingly comes down on the side of supporting the side of right-wing group Citizens United in a Supreme Court case over its Hillary Clinton-trashing movie. But Hirsen obfuscates about the movie and his role in the court case.
Hirsen writes of the "Hillary: The Movie": "The film in question didn’t request that its audience vote for or against a certain candidate. It is simply a feature-length movie that presents information about Clinton's background, experience, and character." Hirsen fails to mention that the "information" is all negative and all comes from longtime critics of Hillary. Hirsen also fails to mention that Citizens United's lawyer in the case is Theodore Olson, or that the movie is dedicated to Olsen's lte wife, Barbara. The film didn't have to "request" viewers to reject Hillary; that's the obvious intention of the film and the only possible conclusion one can draw from it, which Hirsen fails to acknowledge.
Why does Hirsen refuse to acknowledge such a simple fact? Because he's working to pretend it doesn't. As he also noted: "I was involved in filing a brief for this case on behalf of a public interest law organization and am familiar with the legal issues it raises." What "public interest law organization" is that? He won't tell us.
Fortunately, Google can. Hirsen is apaprently referring to an amicus curiae brief he filed in January on behalf of something called the Foundation for Free Expression, "a California non-profit, tax-exempt corporation formed on September 24, 1998 to preserve and defend the constitutional liberties guaranteed to American citizens, through education and other means." And who's the founder of the Foundation for Free Expression? None other than James Hirsen.
What does Hirsen's FFE do? Not much, though it's apparently part of another organization, the World Faith Foundation, which Hirsen also heads. What has it done? Most notably, it owns a 26-acre tract of land in western Pennsylvania purchased for the purpose of permitting Hutton Gibson, father of actor Mel Gibson, to found a branch of an dissident ultraconservative Catholic sect that rejects modern church reforms. Hutton Gibson is on record as a Holocaust denier and holding other anti-Semitic views.
Didn't know about Hirsen's relationship with Gibson? We didn't either. Hirsen has repeatedly failed to disclose it at Newsmax, even when it would have been the journalistically ethical thing to do.
For instance, a July 2006 Newsmax column by Hirsen -- published several months after Hirsen's foundation purchased the land for Gibson's Pennsylvania church -- is an attack on critics who claimed that the younger Gibson's apology for anti-Semitic rantings he made while under arrest for DUI (which Hirsen euphemistically describes only as "untoward statements" and fails to describe in any further detail) was insufficient. He predictably took his remarks in a political direction, whining that "critics on the Left" didn't find Trent Lott's apologies adequate for "regrettable remarks" that "were construed as meaning that the nation would have been better off if a segregationist's presidential campaign had been successful." Hirsen concluded "According to the Left's parameters, Gibson has exceeded that which is expected. According to human standards, he has exceeded that which is sufferable. No further apologies needed."
How did Hirsen determine that Gibson's apology for saying, F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," was sufficient? He doesn't say. And no, Hirsen doesn't mention his relationship with the Gibson family in launching this defense.
Unsurprisingly, Hirsen enthusiasticallypimped Gibson's 2005 film "The Passion of the Christ," which some have suggested includes anti-Semitic elements. Of particular note is a November 2003 column viciously attacking Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman for criticizing the film's alleged anti-Semitic elements, claiming he "puked out" his criticism, was acting "like an angry villager in a Boris Karloff movie"and bizarrely claiming that Foxman wanted "not just to snuff out Mel Gibson’s film but also to extinguish Easter as Christians know it."
Hirsen has written numerousotherarticles for Newsmax praising Gibson or attacking Gibson's critics, dating as far back as 2002, without disclosing his relationship with Gibson and his family. (It's unclear when Hirsen's relationship with the Gibson family began; perhaps he can enlighten us.)
Richard Bartholomew catches WorldNetDaily putting an biased anti-Muslim spin on White House efforts in a March 28 article on an effort to get the Obama White House to hire Muslims (through Rep. Keith Ellison and the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, which sent a list of "45 of the nation’s most qualified" Muslims to the White House) by misleadingly potraying the White House's role in it and falsely linking it to the Muslim Brotherhood.
As Bartholomew notes: "But does the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, or any of the '45 of the nation’s most qualified' Muslims have any links to the Muslim Brotherhood? Not a question likely to be asked by any of WND’s target readers."
Baal, Molech, Ashtoreth, Aphrodite, Tammuz, Dagon – these are some of the false, pagan gods of antiquity God mandated that his chosen people, the Jews, utterly destroy before they could lay claim to the Promised Land – Israel. While the biblical narrative of the Kingdom Period (circa 1050-587 B.C.) was horrible (the Northern Kingdom had not one godly king), it was mixed regarding the Jews and the idolatry question in the Southern Kingdom (Judah), for they had several kings (David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Josiah) who at least tried to obey the first commandment – Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
In America, we are currently witnessing a modern version of political idolatry with President Barack Obama, or as I like to call him, "Obama the messiah."
Washington goes on to call Obama "a certified socialist with fascist tendencies" and a "manchild" who had a "pampered and perverted childhood," as well as approvingly quote "a great man whom I consider the true intellectual voice of the conservative movement, Dr. Michael Savage."
A non-bylined March 27 WorldNetDaily article on abortion doctor George Tiller's acquittal on "charges that he used a financially linked employee to independently verify the necessity of late-term abortions," but it fails to mention why he was acquitted.
Instead, the article rehashes the now-moot case against him and baselessly suggests that Tiller was acquitted because the trial took place in "his hometown of Wichita, Kan.," where "he operated his multi-million dollar abortion business for many years." The article also baselessly suggests that testimony supporting Tiller was falsified, quoting anti-abortion activist Troy Newman as saying "they had a lot of time to [work on] their stories."
At no point does WND report Tiller's defense beyond noting that Tiller's lawyers had asserted that statements by Tiller and the consulting doctor suggesting she was an "employee" of Tiller "slips of the tongue." In fact, as thet Associated Press reported, Tiller relied on on advice from his lawyers and from the former executive director of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, which regulates medicine in the state, to govern his relationship with the other doctor.
WND also fails to mention that the jury reached its verdict in less than an hour, which further suggests the spuriousness of the charges against him.
This is propaganda, not journalism -- perhaps the reason why there's no byline on this article. But then, you already knew that WND cares little about journalism.
Estrich Defends O'Reilly, Misses the Point Topic: Newsmax
Susan Estrich uses her March 27 syndicated column -- posted at Newsmax, where she's one of the token liberals -- to defend Bill O'Reilly's appearance at a fund-raiser for an organization that helps rape victims:
What's Bill O'Reilly doing at a benefit for rape victims and their families?
Helping them raise money. Last time I checked, that's a good thing.
I disagree with much of what Bill has to say on most subjects. I think he feels the same way about me. That's fine. But he happens to have a huge following.
Many people agree with him, respect him and might even give more money because of him to a foundation that provides financial support so that the families of rape victims can be with their loved ones during the investigation and trial of the criminal case — which is what the foundation he was supporting in Florida does.
So why exactly is it that we shouldn't let him help us? How is it that you get stronger by excluding people?
Estrich blames only "ratings silliness" for the controversy over O'Reilly -- but at no does she explain what, exactly, O'Reilly actually did to earn the criticism over his recent appearance at an Alexa Foundation fundraiser.
On his radio show three years ago, O'Reilly suggested that a rape victim was responsible for her own rape because she was drunk and dressed less than demurely -- something one would think Estrich would concerned about given that she also writes in her column, "I don't believe in 'blaming' the victim."
O'Reilly further sent one of his producers to stalk and ambush a liberal blogger who highlighted his remarks, then falsely portray the encounter on his show. That sort of behavior is also something you'd think Estrich might be concerned about.
But Estrich doesn't mention any of that. Instead, she writes: "O'Reilly and I don't agree on much, but he's not wrong to hold up a mirror for us, to focus us on what we need to teach our daughters, as well as our sons. And I would definitely take his money."
Estrich also suggests that O'Reilly's status trumps his actual words:
When you tell O'Reilly he's not welcome, you're also telling all the people who watch him every day that you're not so sure about them, either.
On the other hand, having him, and them, on your side can be a major help if you're trying to get something passed almost anywhere in the United States other than Berkeley and Cambridge.
But is capitalizing on a person's status worth it when that person has, again, made statements that are at odds with the cause being promoted in his name?
Estrich seems to be grossly missing the point. The question is not whether the Alexa Foundation is a worthy cause (and nobody has said it's not); it's whether it should have invited a person who has made remarks that appear to contradict its mission. Estrich's refusal to tell the full story of the controversy surrounding O'Reilly ignores the real issue and is a disservice to her readers.
MRC Promotes Limbaugh Ratings, Corellation-Equals-Causation Fallacy Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has been quick to attribute apparent increases in ratings for Rush Limbaugh's radio show to, as Brent Baker wrote in a March 26 post, "White House attacks on him." Baker does point out that, according to the right-wing Radio Equalizer post from which he obtained his information, there's something else at work:
Finally, implementation of the new, far more accurate electronic Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings system has benefited talk radio, as the manual diary-based "phantom cume" problems of the past disappear. For years, programmers complained that the old system cost them listenership and are now armed with the proof they'd long sought.
Baker merely cites it as "another factor," when it may very well be the sole source of the ratings jump.
MRC chief Brent Bozell, meanwhile, issued this statement:
"President Obama declared war on Rush Limbaugh and his ratings went through the roof. If that's not a magnificent backfire, I'm not sure what is.
"Maybe the White House has learned its lesson and will stop launching coordinated assaults on individual members of the media who disagree with them. Hopefully, they haven't."
At no point does Bozell note the change in the ratings system.
CNN's Political Ticker uncritically cited the MRC's claims and quoted Bozell without noting the rating system change that appears to have played an equal, if not greater, factor.
It's also worth mentioning that none of the numbers Radio Equalizer cited came anywhere near previous claims that Limbaugh's ratings have doubled since January. Additionally, genuinely accurate radio ratings, particularly for a show airing on a patchwork of stations at various times of the day, are nearly impossible to compile.
Meanwhile... Topic: NewsBusters County Fair details how, despite what NewsBusters' Matthew Vadum thinks, the admission of a liberal blogger to a single Obama press conference does not equal two years of the Bush administration setting aside established protocol so that Jeff Gannon could ask fawning questions during White House press briefings.
Wheeler Doesn't Disclose Links to Candidate Topic: Newsmax
In a March 27 Newsmax column, Scott Wheeler attacks Scott Murphy, the Democratic candidate for a U.S. House seat in New York. At no point does Wheeler identify himself as the executive director of the National Republican Trust PAC, or that his PAC has spent at least $190,000 in ads supporting Murphy's Republican opponent, Jim Tedisco.
Is Wheeler's non-disclosure a violation of federal election laws? Seems like it.
Bozell's Revisionist History on Ken Tomlinson Topic: Media Research Center
In his March 24 column bashing National Public Radio's alleged liberal bias, Brent Bozell writes:
Public broadcasting has been incredibly hostile to anyone who would dare to police it for fairness and balance. Conservatives ought not forget what happened to Kenneth Tomlinson, the former board chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Fur flied when liberals discovered Tomlinson had conducted a private study to determine if PBS and NPR shows tilted to the left. An inspector general’s report suggested Tomlinson somehow had violated CPB by-laws and he was forced to resign.
First, the study Tomlinson commissioned, by Fred Mann of the right-wing National Journalism Center, was a shoddy, slapdash affair that was not a serious look at bias.
Second, Bozell falsely suggests that the study alone "somehow had violated CPB by-laws" and was the sole reason Tomlinson was "forced to resign." In fact, there were numerous other complaints against Tomlinson. As an inspector general's report on Tomlinson detailed, Tomlinson "violated statutory provisions and the Director's Code of Ethics by dealing directly with one of the creators of a new public affairs program during negotiations with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the CPB" in creating the right-wing "Journal Editorial Report" (now airing on Fox News).The report also found "evidence that suggests 'political tests' were a major criteria used by the former Chairman in recruiting a President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for CPB, which violated statutory prohibitions against such practices."
Examiner Again Hides Funding of Anti-Union Study Topic: Washington Examiner
Barbara Comstock, in a March 26 column, is the latest Washington Examiner writer to attack the Employee Free Choice Act by uncritically citing a study by Anne Layne-Farrar without noting that the study was funded by anti-union groups.
Craige McMillan approvingly cites Cashill's discredited conspiracy theory, adding, "I guess that means Bill Ayers will soon become the White House writer-in-residence." McMillan further bashed Obama as "an empty suit who consults his handlers, via his teleprompter, before answering – or not – even the softball questions lobbed at him by the adoring media who worked so hard to elect him."
The winner of today's WND derangement award, however, has to be Phil Elmore. He howls about "Glorious Leader Obama" endeavoring "to place his Orwellian visage on the telescreens of the nation's media outlets" so that "citizens are inundated with the inevitability of Obama's increasingly statist rule," linking to WND's oft-repeatedlie that Obama wants to create an army of, in Elmore's words, "fascist brownshirts." Elmore goes on to assert that Obama "Twitters his daily enemies list through his Blackberry while waiting for his latest firearms prohibitions to be uploaded to iTunes as podcasts."
Elmore also complained that Obama "appointed a chief information officer (a post that sounds disturbingly similar to some form of propaganda ministry, in title if not in fact)." Elmore seems not to be aware of the fact that nearly every organization of significant size employs a chief information officer. That little nugget of information just may make Elmore's head explode.
NewsBusters and Accuracy in Media referenced or alluded to a report that President Obama was involved in a teleprompter blunder -- but that report turned out to be false.
A March 18 NewsBusters post by Mike Sargent touted "the President's latest teleprompter gaffe," in which Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen briefly and mistakenly began reading a speech intended for Obama off a teleprompter, followed by Obama purporting to offer Cowen's remarks, during which "President Obama thanked President Obama for inviting everyone over." Sargent complained that an AP story on the incident was "stunningly unclear" and fretted that the media was "skipping a possibly unfavorable story."
A March 21 AIM blog post by K. Daniel Glover called for the creation of a website listing the "Obamateurism Of The Day," citing as evidence examples in which "Obama is caught without a Teleprompter or plagued by one that malfunctions." In support, Glover links to another blog post listing alleged Obama mistakes, including "Thanking himself in a Teleprompter malfunction."
As it turns out, Obama was making a joke.While Sargent ceded the possibility that it was (though presumably hoping it wasn't for agenda purposes), Glover did not. That puts them in line with other conservatives who didn't get the joke.
Will Sargent and Glover update their posts to reflect the full truth? Don't count on it.
MRC: Ed Schultz = Michael Savage Topic: Media Research Center
In a March 25 Media Research Center press release, Brent Bozell bashed MSNBC's relationship with liberal radio host Ed Schultz, calling it "eerily reminiscent of MSNBC’s Michael Savage experiment. Savage is crazy Right, and Schultz is crazy Left; the only thing they have in common is that MSNBC hired them both."
Except, of course, for the fact that Schultz and Savage aren't anything alike. The MRC could come up with only two examples of purportedly outrageous remarks by Schultz. And, of course, one is not that serious -- calling Sen. Richard Shelby “a terrorist on the American worker. He is a terrorist on wage workers” for opposing a bailout of the auto industry -- and the other is misrepresented.
According to the press release: "Just this past Friday, Schultz called Republican Senator Jon Kyl a 'spineless scumbag' for daring to criticize President Obama’s joke about how his bowling was so bad it was 'like Special Olympics or something.'" But Bozell's own employees tell a different story. In a March 24 NewsBusters post, Jack Coleman writes that Kyl criticized Obama "[n]ot because of Obama's revealing gaffe about the Special Olympics, but for schmoozing with Leno at a time of widespread economic anxiety."Coleman also pointed out that Schultz donated $100 to Special Olympics and challenged Kyl to do the same.
Savage, meanwhile, has accused Hillary Clinton of killing John Kennedy Jr. and claimed that President Obama "has a plan to force children into a paramilitary domestic army."
There is no comparison -- Savage wins the crazy competition hands down.
Further, Bozell's dismissal of Savage as "crazy right" obscures the fact that Bozell has criticized Savage only after Savage's firing from MSNBC in 2003 made it palatable for Bozell to distance himself from a fellow right-winger. Indeed, the first reference in the MRC archives to Savage is an April 2003 CyberAlert item noting that then-MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield -- whom Savage recently called Banfield a "slut" after her Iraq "reports portraying the radical Arab point of view" -- "denounced MSNBC for giving an hour a week to radio talk show host Michael Savage." The CyberAlert not only didn't criticize Savage's hiring, it seemed to concur with his view of Banfield.
It was not until Savage's firing later that year that Bozell felt the need to put some distance between him and Savage. Bozell began a July 2003 column with the disclaimer, "I’ve never written about radio/TV shock jock Michael Savage. I don’t know him, nor do I know much about him." He then dismissed Savage as "Saturday-afternoon cartoon conservatism" and fretted that "the conservative movement would get tagged by his outrageousness" -- then equivocated by claiming that certain remarks by liberals were much worse than anything Savage ever said.
Bozell couldn't speak up about Savage when it would have been genuinely brave of him to do so. For him to attack Schultz as a Savage clone is disingenous and cowardly -- not to mention utterly false.
UPDATE: Rich Noyes has dedicated a "Media Reality Check" to Schultz, adding to the list of offenses that Schultz once "compared [Rush] Limbaugh to Adolf Hitler." Funny, we don't recall the MRC being offended by Limbaugh's frequent use of the term "feminazi."