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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Newsmax Bashes Obama for Auto Plan It Praised Romney For Supporting
Topic: Newsmax

The following package appeared at the top of Newsmax's front page for most of the day Monday:

The Associated Press article to which the package linked made no mention of Obama as "the most liberal president in history," and Newsmax does not otherwise indicate why it felt the need to point that out.

Indeed, Obama's purported political affiliations have nothing to do with "openly talking of bankruptcy." After all, last November Newsmax approvingly quoted Republican Mitt Romney -- whom Newsmax touted as having "success revamping corporate finances and is credited with turning around the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City" -- saying that "bankruptcy may be the only path to solvency for the Big Three automakers."

Fretting over the ouster of "the head of a major U.S. auto company" is also unexplained, since Romney advocated the same thing, according to Newsmax:

Management as is “must go. New faces should be recruited from unrelated industries — from companies widely respected for excellence in marketing, innovation, creativity and labor relations.”

In other words, Newsmax is bashing Obama for what it previously praised Romney for advocating. And we're pretty sure Newsmax doesn't consider Romney to be liberal.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:06 AM EDT
Monday, March 30, 2009
Newsmax Columnist Lies About Pelosi
Topic: Newsmax

In a March 30 Newsmax column, James Walsh falsely claims that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "told an audience of immigrants that U.S. immigration laws are 'un-American,' suggesting that they need not be obeyed, startling rhetoric for a woman in the line of succession for the presidency."

Wrong. In fact, Pelosi called immigration raids that separate undocumented parents from their documented children -- not all immigration laws -- "un-American." Walsh offers no evidence that Pelosi ever suggested that immigration laws "need not be obeyed."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:25 PM EDT
NewsBusters Again Hypocritically Frowns on Liberal Blog Commenters
Topic: NewsBusters

A few months ago, NewsBusters was touting how classy their commenters were compared to all those uncouth ones on liberal-leaning websites. As we pointed out, NewsBusters commenters aren't as classy as their overlords like to think.

Undaunted, NewsBusters  takes another stab at it: A March 29 post by Michael Bates complains about a commenter on a Washington Post blog, adding, "If the Washington Post doesn't moderate its blogs, it might want to give serious consideration to doing so."

Which, of course, raises the question: Does NewsBusters moderate its comments to curb offensive content and outrageous remarks? County Fair investigates, and finds that the answer appears to be no.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:25 PM EDT
FrontPageMag Can't Stop Smearing Teresa Heinz Kerry
Topic: Horowitz

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:35 PM EDT
Noel Sheppard Hypocrisy Watch
Topic: Washington Examiner

Noel Sheppard writes in a March 27 Washington Examiner column:

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. Post after post at NewsBusters -- including by Sheppard himself -- 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.)

Posted by Terry K. at 9:59 AM EDT
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 enthusiastically pimped 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 numerous other articles 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.)

All this, by the way, is on top of the usual shoddy journalism we've come to expect from Hirsen.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:02 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, March 30, 2009 1:05 AM EDT
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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."

Posted by Terry K. at 11:17 PM EDT
Ellis Washington's Obama Insult du Jour
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Is Ellis Washington running out of insults to hurl at President Obama? It appears so, since he's down to name-checking pagan gods:

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."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:36 AM EDT
WND Ignores Tiller's Defense
Topic: WorldNetDaily

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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:28 AM EDT
Saturday, March 28, 2009
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:03 AM EDT
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:09 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, March 28, 2009 12:09 AM EDT
Friday, March 27, 2009
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:40 PM EDT
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:51 PM EDT
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."

Posted by Terry K. at 1:42 AM EDT
Thursday, March 26, 2009
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.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:20 PM EDT

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