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Saturday, May 2, 2009
WND's Mercer Touts Discredited Researcher
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Ilana Mercer's May 1 WorldNetDaily column rhapsodizes over the late Madeleine Pelner Cosman, the "dazzling Randian" and "quintessential 'Renaissance woman'"whose "study of 'the effects of illegal immigration on the United States health-care system' culminated in the article 'Illegal Aliens and American Medicine,' published, in 2005, by The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. It addressed the effects on the health system of the bleeding Southwestern border." Mercer adds: "That Mexico is Swine Flu Ground Zero has thrown Dr. Cosman's work into sharp relief."

In fact, we we've detailed Cosman's "study" is little more than an anti-immigrant screed in which she rants about "Illegal aliens' stealthy assaults on medicine" and demands that America's borders be sealed with "fences, high-tech security devices and troops."More importantly, Cosman got her facts wrong: As we've also noted, she wrote that "Suddenly, in the past three years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy"; in fact, that was the cumulative number of leprosy cases over the past 30 years.

Mercer surely knows Cosman got that figure wrong because she cites a New York Times article detailing just how wrong the figure is, then tries to write around Cosman's falsehood:

Seven thousand cases of leprosy over the last 30 years may seem negligible, but "leprosy, a scourge in biblical days and in medieval Europe," had been eradicated in the U.S. Now it's back. By the reluctant admission of the New York Times, it was brought over from Asia and Latin America.

But Mercer overplays it too: As the Times article details, the number of cases rose from 76 in 2000 to 137 in 2006. The article continues:

What about the increase over the last six years, to 137 cases from 76? Is that significant?

“No,” Mr. Krahenbuhl said. It could be a statistical fluctuation, or it could be a result of better data collection in recent years. In any event, the 137 reported cases last year were fewer than in any year from 1975 to 1996.

That's hardly solid evidence of leprosy being "back." But Mercer wants you to think it is, backed up by a discredited "Renaissance woman" and "dazzling Randian."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 AM EDT
Friday, May 1, 2009
WND Promotes Another Bogus Poll
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've previously noted how WorldNetDaily touted a dubious poll taken by an infamous push-polling firm as evidence that Roy Moore (who just happens to be a WND columnist) is a "leading candidate" for Alabama governor.

Now, an April 30 WND article finds an even more dubious poll to promote, insisting that Moore is "building on his lead" in the governor's race (about which, WND finally gets around to noting in the article's very last paragraph, Moore has "not made a formal announcement") by winning a "new unscientific readers' poll in the Birmingham Business Journal."

The word "unscientific" is the first clue to the dubiousness of this poll, though WND never explains what that means. In fact, the Birmingham Business Journal "poll" -- like most online polls -- is an opt-in poll that contains no stated restrictions on how many times a person can vote. WND just loves promoting meaningless polls that advance their agenda while hiding from readers just how meaningless they are.

While WND makes a big deal out of how one of Moore's possible opponents had been "directing supporters who visited his website to the poll," it does not indicate whether Moore's supporters were also promoting the poll -- which would seem to be a certainty if other candidates' supporters were, and would account for the poll's skew.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:31 PM EDT
MRC-Fox News Appearance Watch
Topic: Media Research Center

The appearance of the MRC's on the April 30 edition of Fox News' "America's Newsroom" follows the template: Noyes appeared solo, and neither he nor the MRC are identified as conservative.

Host Megyn Kelly also baselessly called the MRC "the nation's largest media watchdog group." (Disclosure: I work for a certain other media watchdog group that might want to challenge that distinction.)

Posted by Terry K. at 11:04 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, May 1, 2009 4:07 PM EDT
WND Treats Baseless Speculation As Fact
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 30 WorldNetDaily article by Andrea Shea King gives unwarranted credence to speculation over the incident of Air Force One flying over New York for photos by someone who hasn't worked in the White House in more than a decade.

King features the claims of "Buzz" Patterson, who once worked in the Clinton White House, insisting tha t"it's almost certain that the "highest levels" of the Obama administration knew about" the stunt while offering no evidence whatsoever to back it up. Patterson is also "guessing" that President Obama himself knew about it.

You know where this is going. Patterson then launches into an anti-Obama screed:

"I think that it shows you… quite clearly the lack of focus or the understanding the Obama White House has toward the military, much like my former boss President Bill Clinton. I think it also shows a kind of arrogance to using toys – I'm sure that would be a phrase President Obama might use, his 'toys' – to get photo op shots around New York City and not recall or remember what happened on 9/11 and the fact that it might have caused some alarm. And I think really, it shows again a hundred days, a hundred mistakes with the Obama administration."


"I think that they are – much like the Clinton administration – incredibly ignorant and devoid of reality when it comes to this country. They didn't even think about the impact this might have, because they don't understand that the war on terror is a real war on terror. They've changed the verbiage. They've changed the terms," he said.

Another reason not to take Patterson seriously: He has a long record of making false and misleading claims about Democrats. Most notoriously, he has claimed that then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton "wanted to outlaw uniforms, military uniforms in the White House" -- a never-proven claim whose particulars Patterson changes with each telling.

As we've noted, Patterson's dubious work also served as an inspiration to screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh for his discredited miniseries, "The Path to 9/11."

Patterson has no credibility -- but he's eager to bash Obama, so King and WND are more than happy to embrace him.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:13 AM EDT
Obama Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: Horowitz

Our hypothetical terrorist-in-waiting isn’t the head of the Aryan Nation, the Michigan Militia or the Ku Klux Klan. He is President Barack Hussein Obama, whose extremist ties include Bill Ayers, ACORN, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright and Louis Farrakhan. If you see the president acting suspiciously in an airport, please advise law-enforcement personnel.

Instead of smearing Obama’s opponents, perhaps the Department of Homeland Security should be staking out the White House.

-- Don Feder, April 30 column

Posted by Terry K. at 1:56 AM EDT
NewsBusters Chooses to Trust A Convicted Killer
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 30 NewsBusters post by Brad Wilmouth runs to the defense of Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, who in a speech on the House floor called the claim that the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard was a hate crime (Shepard was gay) a "hoax" and insisting it was merely a robbery gone bad. Wilmouth cited a 2004 segment of ABC's "20/20" which, in Wilmouth's words, "made a credible case that Shepard was targeted by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson not because of anti-gay sentiment, but because McKinney was high on methamphetamines, giving him unusual violent tendencies as well as a desire for cash to buy more drugs." The main proponents of this claim are the killers themselves.

But Wilmouth overlooks a couple things conflicting with such a conclusion, which, as we've detailed, has been embraced by right-wingers in an effort to oppose giving hate-crime protections to gays.

First, McKinney attempted a "gay panic" defense during his trial. Second, he has given multiple, conflicting accounts of what happened the night of Shepard's murder. Third, he's a convicted felon and a murderer -- not exactly the most trustworthy guy.

As a Wyoming police detective who worked on the Shepard case said: "Only three people know what really happened that night. ... One of them is dead and the other two are known liars and convicted felons -- murderers."

Further, as the Matthew Shepard Foundation has stated, the ABC report omitted the contents of McKinney's in-custody interview a few days after Shepard's death. That transcript shows "an un-rehearsed and unemotional anti-gay account of the events before, during, and after leaving Matt tied to the fence," according to the foundation.

We've detailed how numerous right-wingers have chosen to trust a convicted felon and murderer rather than examine all the facts of the Shepard case. Add Wilmouth to the list.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:09 AM EDT
Thursday, April 30, 2009
CNS Non-Disclosure Watch

An April 30 article by Edwin Mora touts the pending delivery of a Cardinal Newman Society petition opposing a speech by President Obama at Notre Dame to the school without noting that Brent Bozell, head of the Media Research Center, CNS' parent organization, is on the Cardinal Newman Society board of directors.

Similarly, an April 30 CNS column by editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey references the Cardinal Newman Society petition without noting his boss is on the group's board.

On a related non-disclosure, an April 30 CNS article by Fred Lucas uncritically repeats the claim that waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed provided the U.S. "with information that allowed the U.S. government to foil a terror cell 'tasked' with flying a jet into a building in Los Angeles" without noting the fact that the Bush administration claimed that the Los Angeles plot was foiled a year before Mohammed was captured.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:26 PM EDT
Rush Limbaugh Anal Sex Watch
Topic: The ConWeb

As if to promote our new article, Rush Limbaugh has graced us with yet another reference to anal sex:

I mean, General Motors is caving. General Motors has bent over grabbed the ankles. Chrysler has bent over, grabbed the ankles. What are we supposed to do here? Everybody's scared of Obama. Everybody's scared of the government.

Unsurprisingly, NewsBusters and WorldNetDaily are silent, as they have always been.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:15 PM EDT
O'Leary Buys Another Zogby Poll, WND Promotes It
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An April 28 WorldNetDaily article by Drew Zahn touts a "new Zogby poll" that was "commissioned by the O'Leary Report" claiming that "no government control of the Internet, no 'Fairness Doctrine' managing talk radio and if newspaper companies fail as a profitable means of disseminating news, then let them die, because Americans will not support a bailout."

What isn't clear from Zahn's article: Brad O'Leary bought himself another poll. 

What the heck is the O'Leary Report? Apparently, it's a newsletter published by O'Leary that, based on the edition posted on his website, is little more than fits of Obama-bashing designed to promote O'Leary's WND-published books, the most recent one being -- surprise! -- an attack on the possible reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine (even though nobody's actually planning to do that).

It's not until the 23rd paragraph of Zahn's article that O'Leary is even mentioned, and Zahn makes no effort to point out that O'Leary is, in fact, the guy behind the O'Leary Report.

O'Leary has a long history of buying Zogby polls (previously purchased under the name of ATI-News, O'Leary's barely existent news aggregator) to promote his books and views -- as we've detailed, the poll questions are manipulated to the point of including misleading and even false claims, so that O'Leary gets the responses he wants in order to further his right-wing attacks.

We couldn't find a link to the actual poll data -- which would have the actual questions that were asked -- at either WND or the O'Leary Report. That O'Leary hasn't make the data public suggests he has something to hide here too.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:09 AM EDT
NewsBusters Touts Misguided Anti-Olbermann Petition
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 29 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd touts a right-wing petition demanding that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann give up the raise in his new contract because MSNBC's parent company, General Electric, obtained a "$126 billion taxpayer-funded bailout." Shepard seems unconcerned that the people behind the petition are hiding behind a veil of secrecy.

Nor does Shepherd seem interested in the financial facts of both Olbermann's raise (from $4 million a year to $7.5 million) and the GE bailout.

First, the GE division for which Olbermann works, NBC Universal, is a profitable operation, having made $391 million in the first quarter of 2009 alone with MSNBC in particular credited with "significant profit gains." NBC Universal can very much afford to throw a couple million more at the host of MSNBC's highest-rated program.

Second, the $126 billion figure cited is not a total "bailout" but, rather, more of a credit line. As the Bloomberg article to which the petition links shows, GE has tapped only $41 billion of it. Further, none of that bailout is going to Olbermann or even NBC Universal; it's being used for the company's financial unit, GE Capital which operates independently of NBC Universal.

The petition also ignores the fact that unlike, say, AIG, GE as a whole is a profitable company, having made $2.9 billion in the first quarter even with the problems at GE Capital, which is expected to pass the federal government's "stress test" for financial institutions.

To sum up: GE can afford to pay someone who helps to generate income for his employer in a profitable division even more money, and do so with its own money. Can Shepherd say that about the AIG bonuses?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EDT
WND Lack-of-Disclosure Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We know WorldNetDaily doesn't care much for such niceties as basic journalistic ethics, with its repeated failures to disclose personal or business interests in the subjects it covers.

Thus, you will not be surprised that a fluffy April 28 WND profile by Alyssa Farah of homeschooling activist Michael Farris fails to disclose that Farah is a student at Patrick Henry College, of which Farris is founding president and chancellor.

Farah also serves up the following quote by E. Ray Moore Jr., founder of the anti-public-school group Exodus Mandate:

"As recently as June 2008 I was present in the Los Angeles Court of Appeals courtroom when Michael Farris wrapped up the defense case for rights of homeschooling in California and uttered these simple but immortal words, to the court, 'Your honor, you can't stop parents from doing good to their children,'" Moore recalled. 

Farah didn't mention the particulars of that case, better known as the Rachel L. case. As we've detailed, the father was a control freak who regularly physically abused his children, didn't want his children to have birth certificates and believed that educating children outside the home exposes them to "snitches." Further, the homeschool education the children did receive was found to be highly deficient, and the girl at the center of the case had reportedly been sexually abused by a friend of the family. Unsurprisingly, WND hid much of this from its readers as it championed the family as a model for homeschooling. (And WND's support of a father who would deny his children birth certificates is rather ironic given its obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate.)

Yet somehow, Farris apparently believed these parents were "doing good to their children." And Farah apparently didn't feel the need to round out her fluffy profile with incovenient facts proving otherwise.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 AM EDT
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Newsmax Misleads Again on Obama Inauguration Costs
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax has found a new way to mislead about the cost of Barack Obama's inauguration.

In the very first item detailing Obama's alleged "gaffes and gimmicks" during his first 100 days in office, Newsmax claims: "In his inaugural address, Obama calls on Americans to adopt a spirit of sacrifice, which apparently doesn’t include his own coronation. The $49 million cost of his swearing-in ceremony is triple the cost of Bush’s first inaugural."

In fact, Bush's first inauguration cost $40 million. Last time we checked, $49 million is not triple $40 million.

As we noted, Newsmax used to claim that Obama's inauguration cost "early four times what George Bush’s inauguration cost four years ago" -- or did until people figured out the 2005 inauguration figure didn't include security costs that were in Obama's number.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:48 PM EDT
WND Hides Full Truth About Chaplain
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We all know that WorldNetDaily keeps its readers in the dark about facts that interfere with its right-wing agenda -- its obsession with Barack Obama's birth certificate is just one example.

Another example of this is WND's longtime promotion of Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Navy chaplain who defied orders by praying in Jesus' name at non-religious public events -- a cause celebre promoted by evangelical fundamentalist Christians -- and was ultimately court-martialed. WND has whitewashed his situation by misleadingly claiming he was court-martialed because he appeared "a White House function in March 2006 at which he wore his uniform and prayed 'in Jesus' name'"; in fact, it was a protest at the White House, not a "White House function," and he had received clear orders from his superiors not to wear his uniform at media events or political protests. He was court-martial for disobeying an order, not for praying in Jesus' name.

WND has generally refused to give its readers an honest account of the other side of the story. As artciulated by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, demands to pray "in Jesus' name" interferes with the free exercise of religious freedom in the military. Further, as noted by military history Bob Bateman, the events that activist chaplains like Klingenschmitt want to pray "in Jesus' name" at "have nothing to do with religion, and enlisted men of all religions are required to be there," and that the effect of allowing chaplains to go beyond a nonsectarian prayer coulde be to "take the simple step of just not inviting the chaplain at all."

You won't find these arguments at WND -- at least, not unless Klingenschmitt or his sympathizers are responding to it. Indeed, MRFF president Mikey Weinstein is named in only two WND articles -- both of which are columns by Klingenschmitt attacking him.

Nor has WND offered the account of Klingenschmitt's former superior at Naval Station Norfolk, Norm Holcomb:

“I was the dishonored ex-chaplain’s supervisor for the past 2 years,” Holcomb wrote in his message. “I found him to be totally untruthful, unethical and insubordinate. He was and is contemptuous of all authority. He was not court martialed for praying in Jesus’ name. I sent him out in uniform every week to pray at various ceremonies and functions. He always prayed in uniform and in Jesus’ name. He was never told that he could not pray in Jesus’ name. In fact, the issue of prayer had nothing at all to do with his dismissal from the Navy. He disobeyed the lawful order of a senior officer. I am sure that you understand that Navy Regulations forbid any of us, regardless of rank or position, to appear in uniform in support of any political or partisan event.”

Holcomb goes on to say, “He appeared in direct support of a political event, demonstrating contempt for the order of his Commanding Officer and Naval Regulations that we all swear that we will abide by…. The ex-chaplain is a man without honor and you have accepted his story and in doing so you have had ‘the wool pulled over your eyes.’"

That goes double for anything that makes Klingenschmitt look bad. So don't expect WND to breathe a word about a prayer Klingenschmitt issued the other day that sounds a lot like a death threat (h/t Gawker):

Let us pray. Almighty God, today we pray imprecatory prayers from Psalm 109 against the enemies of religious liberty, including [Americans United for Separation of Church and State executive director] Barry Lynn and Mikey Weinstein, who issued press releases this week attacking me personally. God, do not remain silent, for wicked men surround us and tell lies about us. We bless them, but they curse us. Therefore find them guilty, not me. Let their days be few, and replace them with Godly people. Plunder their fields, and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants, and remember their sins, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Praying for the deaths of one's critics, however much WND likely sympathizes with the sentiment, doesn't make for good PR. So expect WND to hide this from its readers it as it has the full truth about Klingenschmitt.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:18 AM EDT
FrontPageMag Falsely Suggests Obama Behind Attacks on Writers
Topic: Horowitz

Just because Andrew Walden is trying to talk some sense into conspiracy-prone Obama-haters by pointing out the folly of their Barack Obama birth certificate obsession doesn't mean he himself is not an conspiracy-prone Obama-hater.

An April 28 article by Walden published by FrontPageMag falsely suggests that Obama is behind the efforts of "Iraqi-British ex-Baathist billionaire" Nadhmi Auchi (who has links to Tony Rezko and thus, according to right-wing guilt-by-association reasoning, to Obama himself, though the only evidence Walden to that effect is that they purportedly met once at a party) to squelch criticism of him by Walden and others by threatening to file libel lawsuits in British courts, where the libel threshold is lower than in the U.S. The article carries the headline "Obama's Chilling Crew" -- which also appears on the version of the article on Walden's own website, Hawaii Free Press -- which creates the false suggestion that Obama is funding or somehow supporting Auchi's efforts.

While Walden doesn't further that impression in the article itself, neither does he dispel it. Thus, the misleading headline continues to mislead, and Walden is presumably quite happy about that.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:07 AM EDT
Aaron Klein's New Book: More Right-Wing Whitewash
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein has just released a new book, "The Late Great State of Israel" (published by WND Books, natch), which purports to document "how enemies within and without threaten the Jewish nation's survival." We haven't read the book yet (WND, shockingly, has not deemed us worthy of a review copy), but WND's promotion for the book does a good job of hiding the right-wing slant Klein is known for -- remember, he declared a mass murderer who was also an AWOL Israeli soldier to be a victim, "murdered" by the "mob of Palestinians" that had witnessed the man shoot and kill four Arabs on a bus with no provocation.

For that, we have to go to other sources that aren't so shy about pretending they aren't biased. For instance, the right-leaning Israeli National News/Arutz Sheva:

The author details how leftist, Labor Zionist leaders often stab the country in the back while trying to minimize Israel's religious-Zionist population. He argues that Israel's evacuation of Gush Katif in 2005 and its drive to create a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and sections of Jerusalem are, in large part, aimed at destroying religious-Zionism, but that such actions will have devastating consequences for Israel.

And the right-leaning YNet News:

Klein became motivated to begin this project following Israel's 2005 disengagement of Gaza under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's helm. He could not accept the International media's portrayal of Jewish settlers in Gaza being fundamentalists living on stolen Arab land.


In an interview to Ynetnews, Klein said: “It was Israel that led the charge in legitimizing Yasser Arafat, bringing him out from exile in Tunis and providing him and his Fatah gang with a fiefdom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from which to wage jihad against the Jews.
"Now, Israel's policy is enhancing the same Fatah movement while also working to legitimize Hamas, by, among other things, negotiating with the Islamist group and failing to defeat Hamas militarily”.
Klein is also very critical of the United States funding and legitimizing Hamas in the International community. “Israel remains committed to negotiating a Palestinian state- in talks strongly urged on by the Obama administration- with a 'peace partner' whose official institutions indoctrinate its citizens with intense anti-Jewish hatred and violence” Klein told Ynetnews.

As we've detailed, Klein has long sought to whitewash Israeli right-wingers in the West Bank and Gaza, from hiding the extremist and violent Kahanist pasts of settlers in Gaza to desperately trying to prove that those perpetrating violence on Palestinians in the West Bank didn't actually live there. His new book, it appears, is just one more step in whitewashing right-wing Israeli extremists.

Of course, Klein has already declared his opposition to Obama by hurling numerous guilt-by-association attacks at him -- including trying to link him to Hamas through an "endorsement" by a Hamas spokesman. At the same time, Klein refused to bash John McCain the way he did Obama for having ties to Rashid Khalidi.

We can presume that the right-wing tone Klein has taken in his WND reporting is duplicated in his book. Just don't expect Klein to admit he's a right-winger, of which there apparently aren't any of in Israel.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:38 AM EDT

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