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Wednesday, September 9, 2009
WND Demands Right to Rebuttal -- Which It Rarely Allows In Its Own Reporting
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has been up in arms about reporting critical of WND -- for instance, a report on "The Rachel Maddow Show" -- because WND was not given an opportunity by them to rebut the claims. This showed up on WND's front page over the weekend:

Joseph Farah repeated it in his Sept. 9 column:

Meanwhile, my colleagues in the news media are having a field day with the story of those attacking WND. They interview all kinds of experts on the subject, but don't bother to ask me about it.

Watch Rachel Maddow at MSNBC for a classic example of this kind of "journalistic responsibility" in action.

Even when WND is the story, no one asks us to respond or debate.

At least Van Jones was given the opportunity to respond to charges that he promoted "conspiracy tales" – not WND, not me!

But not permitting targets to rebut charges appears to be WND's editorial policy.

For instance, a Sept. 8 WND article on Rifqa Bary -- the teenager who fled to a Christian pastor after claiming that her Muslim parents were planning tokill her for converting to Christianity -- is filled with quotes by supporters of Bary accusing her parents of abuse, such as anti-Muslim writers Pam Geller and Robert Spencdr, but no attempt is indicated that WND contacted Bary's parents or their attorney for their side of the story.

Another Sept. 8 article repeating various revisionist prophecy claims by WND author  Joel Richardson -- such as that thebiblical Antichrist is the Muslim Madhi -- are not rebutted by anyone with differing views.

Even the article that precipitated some of this new scrutiny of WND-- in which Jerome Corsi suggests that a plan to establish emergency centers for civilians on military bases is just like "concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany"-- no one is given an opportunity to rebut the smear. Indeed, as we noted, even though the sponsor of the bill that would establish those centers, Rep. Alcee Hastings, issued a press release several daysbefore the article's publication outlining his rationale for it, Corsi did not quote it and instead attempted to smear Hastings.

Why should anyone do for Farah and WND what they will not do for the people they reports on?


Posted by Terry K. at 11:10 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 9, 2009 11:18 AM EDT
Farah Blocked From Birther Speech at CPAC
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Jon Henke at the Next Right -- who has called for a boycott of conservative groups that enable WorldNetDaily -- reports that according to an organizer for the annual CPAC conference of conservatives, WND founder Joseph Farah "asked if he could speak on the issue (birther movement), but that isn't something we're interested in."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:28 AM EDT
Newsmax Continues to Fawn Over Kerik
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax takes its rehabilitation of Bernard Kerik to the next level with an article in the September edition of its magazine, hyperbolically titled "Bernie Kerik: The Trial of an American Hero." Newsmax thought so much of this piece that it created a PDF of it and posted it on the website. But as Newsmax has done before, writers Dave Eberhart and Jim Meyers hide facts in order to portray Kerik is the victim of "overzealous federal prosecutors."

Eberhart and Meyers allow Kerik's attorney to criticize "government tactics in this case, especially the recent third indictment in a new jurisdiction, Washington, D.C." But they fail to accurately explain why those charges were filed in the first place, repeating a claim in an earlier article by Eberhart that the dismissal of certain charges in the New York-based indictment against Kerik "apparently irked the prosecutors, who decided on May 26 to open up the new indictment against Kerik in D.C., including charging him with crimes [Judge Stephen] Robinson had dismissed."

In fact, as we detailed, those charges were dropped specifially so they could be filed in D.C. The judge essentially told prosecutors to do exactly what they did -- as Newsmax itself reported at the time.

Also as Newsmax has done before, Eberhart and Meyers obfuscate about what exactly Kerik is charged with doing, selectively citing specific charges that they feel can be easily rebutted. There's no mention, for example, of what the Washington Post described as a $250,000 loan allegedly granted to him on an interest-free basis by an Israeli businessman that Kerik allegely failed to disclose on federal tax returns and when he was nominated to be Homeland Security secretary in 2004. There's also no mention of Kerik's alleged failure to report $500,000 in income to the IRS and falsely claiming tens of thousands of dollars in tax deductions.

Eberhart and Meyers reference an inquiry into "whether he aided a New Jersey construction firm in gaining city permits in return for a lowball price on the home work" without mentioning that, as the Post also reported, the construction firm in question was under investigation by four government agencies for ties to organized crime at the time it did the work for Kerik.

The writers also falsely suggest that one of the charges Kerik faces involves wiretapped phone conversations with then-Westchester County District Attorney (and current TV judge) Jeanine Pirro, who "asked him to conduct surveillance on her husband, whom she suspected of marital infidelity. According to published sources, the tapes indicate Kerik had tried to talk Pirro out of the surveillance." But since Kerik apparently did nothing wrong, he was apparently never charged in that particular incident, in which Pirro is the one who looked bad; the recordings came to light as part of the corruption probe of Kerik.

(Just as Newsmax enthusiastically touted Kerik's DHS nomination, it promoted Pirro's abortive 2005 Senate campaign against Hillary Clinton, declaring any and all unsavory claims against her -- and there were many, largely centering around her two-timing, out-of-wedlock-siring, tax-cheat hubby -- to be "old news" even though most people weren't aware of them.)

Eberhart and Meyers are much more interested in burnishing Kerik's credentials. For instance, they note that "Kerik worked for the Interior Ministry in Baghdad training police recruits," but not that, as the Post reported, the stint "has been widely judged a failure" because Kerik abruptly quit after two months -- or, as Sen. John McCain put it: "Kerik was supposed to be there to help train the police force. He stayed two months, and one day left, just up and left."

The writers cranked up the melodramatic aspect of Kerik's purported victimhood:

Today, Bernard Kerik is fighting for his innocence with a criminal guillotine hanging over his head. Cut off from most of his business and media access, his income has withered.

[...]

Despite depleting his entire personal wealth, Kerik is going into the final rounds a wounded, but not beaten, man.

In other words, Eberhart and Meyers aren't doing reporting -- they're writing a hagiography.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:39 AM EDT
Oops: NewsBusters Writer Lets the Real Right-Wing Media Agenda Slip Out
Topic: NewsBusters

A Sept. 6 NewsBusters post by Lachlan Markay complained that the Washington Post's ombudsman issued an "apology" for a profile of the head of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, for not including opposing views. After making a point of noting that the author of the piece "says she is a bisexual and has had romantic relationships with women in the past" -- but not noting that, as County Fair's Jamison Foser points out, this pretty much blows out of the water the conservative argument that liberal reporters are incapable of being fair, let alone fawning, toward conservatives -- Markay got to the nub of the issue and, perhaps inadvertently, exposed the right-wing agenda when it comes to the media:

But features pieces are not meant to be political debates. The story focused on a person—who, in Hesse’s words, is “pleasantly, ruthlessly sane”—not, directly, on a political agenda or debate, though they were certainly corollaries to the profile.

In other words: Conservatives don't want opposing views reported when the subject is a conservative.

By contrast, NewsBusters doesn't want that same courtesy extended to feature articles on liberals:

  • On Aug. 12, Ken Shepherd complained that the Post "a 42-paragraph front-pager that amounts to gushy Kennedy hagiography, in part because it was penned by a Kennedy hagiographer."
  • On July 14, P.J. Gladnick was annoyed that the Post "published a glowing article about likely incoming AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka" that didn't mention his purported role in "in a money laundering scheme in order to fix a Teamsters election."

If conservatives are to be only hailed in newspaper profiles, Mackay and his fellow NewsBusters should stop complaining that liberals get fawning profiles too.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:30 AM EDT
WND Can't Stop Lying About Teresa Heinz Kerry
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A Sept. 8 WorldNetDaily article on Van Jones references a commentary by the "executive director of the Independent Media Institute, a 'progressive' alternative media outlet heavily funded by the likes of Teresa Heinz Kerry's Tides Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation."

WND has been telling the "Teresa Heinz Kerry's Tides Foundation" lie since 2004. The Tides Foundation is not "Teresa Heinz Kerry's Tides Foundation" -- she's not even on the board of directors. Rather, Heinz Foundation money controlled by Kerry was donated to a branch of the Tides Foundation and earmarked for specific environmental projects in Pennsylvania.

You'd think after five years WND could get a simple fact correct. It appears not.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:19 AM EDT
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Obama-Nazi Smear of the Day
Topic: Newsmax

One is not permitted to draw parallels between the president’s actions upon taking office and those of Adolf Hitler but I urge my fellow Americans to take a look at “Triumph of the Will,” Leni Reifenstahl’s documentary of the 1934 Nazi party rally in Nuremburg, and come away not scared out of their wits as history attempts to repeat itself.

It’s all there, including speeches by Hitler’s deputy fuhrers pledging their undying allegiance to the leader and brigades of shovel-ready workers participating in Hitler’s economic stimulus program.

We are witnessing the attempted deification of Obama, even to subjecting school kids to mandatory lectures from the maximum leader.

-- Phil Brennan, Sept. 8 Newsmax column


Posted by Terry K. at 7:30 PM EDT
Bozell Misleadingly Parses Obama Speech Criticism
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Sept. 8 press release, MRC chief Brent Bozell defends "parents objecting to the proposed Barack Obama Administration 'lesson plan,' which was to accompany a speech President Obama delivered today to their children," claiming that "the leftist media are attacking parents."

But that's misleading. It wasn't just the "lesson plan" right-wingers like Bozell objected to -- it's the speech itself.

As we've repeatedly detailed, the ConWeb has attacked the mere idea of Obama speaking to students -- not the "lesson plan":

  • Joseph Farah called the speech an attempt "to steal the minds of your children."
  • Rita Kramer called the speech the modern version of the "Hitler Jugend."
  • Dan Mangru claimed that students were having "their grades decided" by how they reacted to the speech.
  • Mark Finkelstein likened Obama to Mao Zedong for making the speech.

Pointing out the insanity and hatred in such attacks is not "attacking parents" -- it is telling the truth. Is any attack on Obama out of bounds for Bozell?

Where was Bozell when Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush was speaking directly to students? We suspect he wasn't complaining about their "lesson plan," since that's the kind of school indoctrination he wants to see.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:28 PM EDT
The Crazy Train Rolls On At WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily tries to get one last freak-out in under the wire before today's speech by President Obama to students.

Joseph Farah writes:

It's not safe to send your child to public school today.

Chances are good the indoctrination level will go from Defcon 2 to Defcon 1.

Barack Obama has already stolen your money. Today he attempts to steal the minds of your children.

In fact, as of today, it may be too late.

[...]

Why is he speaking to schoolchildren? Because he knows most adults no longer believe anything he says. Because he knows children are not discerning enough to see through his lies. Because he is attempting to find new constituents for the 2012 election, at which time fully a fourth of these helpless subjects will be of voting age.

Why is it important that you listen to him? It is not. It is important that children not listen to him.

And that's why I am urging all responsible parents to keep their children out of school today or insist your district provide alternative education plans for the time of this speech.

Children don't need to be politicized.

I know Obama's friend Bill Ayers would disagree.

Farah, by the way, doesn't identify anything he finds objectionable in Obama's speech, nor does he mention that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush have given speeches to students without being accused by him or anyone else of "indoctrination." Then again, that appears to be the kind of indoctrination Farah believes in.

Determined not to be outdone by even Farah, WND columnist Janet Porter writes:

America demanded a rewrite of Obama's speech he is to give to our children today. The indoctrination of the captive audience in public schools was going to be subjected to helping President Obama secure his radical agenda of government take over of health care – but instead of recruiting "Obama Youth," with written pledges, that agenda has been thwarted for another more opportune time – like when people aren't watching as closely. 

Of course, Porter cannot know if a previous version of Obama's speech ever existed, let alone that it was about "government take over of health care," and thus cannot credibly claim there was a "rewrite."


Posted by Terry K. at 11:03 AM EDT
WND vs. Taitz? Not Quite
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Is WorldNetDaily, after months of fawning over Orly Taitz, finally criticizing her? Well, yes and no -- but mostly no.

A Sept. 6 WND article by Drew Zahn notes that "Lucas Smith, the man who tried to sell an alleged Barack Obama Kenyan birth certificate on eBay, has filed court papers in a high-profile eligibility case insisting – under threat of perjury – that the Obama birth certificate in his possession is the genuine article." That case is one filed by Taitz. But Zahn curiously waits until the 11th paragraph to explain why he made a big deal about Smith filing "under the threat of perjury": "an investigation by Jerome Corsi maintains the document is a forgery."

Actually, we reported that Smith's "birth certificate" is an apparent forgery long before Corsi or anyone else at WND did.

While Zahn focuses on Smith and his apparent exposure to perjury, he says nothing about Taitz's similar exposure. After all, it's arguably an ethical violation for Taitz to file a document she knows or should know to be a forgery. Indeed, Zahn makes no mention of Taitz filing Corsi's debunking of Smith's "birth certificate."

Zahn's article marks the first time in a month that WND has quoted Taitz, since WND's embrace of another "Kenyan birth certificate" touted by Taitz went up in flames.

WND seems to be more wary of Taitz, but it clearly isn't ready to directly confront her history of shoddy legal work on birther cases -- of which the filing of a "birth certificate" she should know to be a forgery is but the latest example.

WND followed up with a Sept. 6 article suggesting that there is "panic in D.C." because the U.S. Justice Department has filed an order to have Taitz's lawsuit dismissed on procedural grounds -- even though that's a perfectly valid legal procedure. The article, like Zahn's, downplays the fact that WND itself determined that Smith's "birth certificate," filed as a part of this lawsuit, is a fraud -- it's not mentioned until the 18th paragraph.

If WND really cared about journalism, the lede of these articles would be that Taitz is putting herself in legal jeopardy by knowingly filing fraudulent documents in court. But as we all know, it doesn't.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:33 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 10:36 AM EDT
New Article: A Quote Not Yet Unquoted
Topic: Media Research Center
How long will the Media Research Center continue to take two sentences from a 2003 profile of Ted Kennedy out of context and falsely portray them as praise instead of the criticism they were intended to be? Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 12:59 AM EDT
WND Hates Google, But Will Take Their Money
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has been a longtime critic of Google. WND editor Joseph Farah spent an entire chapter of his book "Stop the Presses!" attacking Google as an "immoral" company that "may not be able to discern right from wrong," mainly for purported discrimination against conservatives, not offering a customized version of its logo to mark Memorial Day, and because political donations by its employees lean heavily Democratic (oh, and because it purportedly doesn't place WND as high up in searches as Farah would like them to be). And in July, he accused Google of deliberately downplaying in searches WND's "content dealing with Barack Obama's eligibility," describing Google as "my old adversary."

So, with such hatred, you think Farah would be doing everything in his power to not have any business dealings with Google, right?

Wrong. Look at what we noticed on the WND website the other day:

 

 

 

 

That's right -- WND is a member of the Google AdSense ad network.

That in and of itself is not news. A lot of websites use AdSense to generate revenue (including us). But WND's use of AdSense is massively hypocritical because of WND's self-proclaimed adversarial relationship with Google.

So it seems that while Farah thinks Google is "immoral," it's perfectly happy to take their immoral money.

Farah clearly doesn't have the courage of his convictions -- he's just too greedy.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:02 AM EDT
Monday, September 7, 2009
NewsReal Falsely Portrays Maddow Show Segment
Topic: Horowitz

A Sept. 5 NewsReal post by Paul Cooper falsely portrays a segment on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" as on in which "guest host Ana Marie Cox called for censorship of blogs like NewsRealblog.com and WorldNetDaily (which is her focus)" and that "Cox and [guest Sam] Tanenhaus both are ready to call all moderate Republicans to silence and 'reign in' [sic] conservative blogs."

But WND is more than the "focus" of the segment --  it's the only outlet mentioned. Not only is NewsReal not mentioned, despite Cooper's suggestion otherwise, no other "conservative blog" is either. And Cox didn't "call for censorship"; as Cooper goes on to write, she urged mainstream conservatives to denounce such fringe publications as WND and not mainstream their conspiracy theories.

Cooper then writes:

The focus of the interview is suggesting that conservative blogs are promoting “conspiracy theories” like the Obama birthers. Cox and Tanenhaus draw a comparison to the 1960s when William F. Buckley Jr. effectively wrote the John Birch Society out of the conservative movement by denouncing them as crank conspiracists.  Cox and Tanenhaus claim that there’s no one in the Conservative Movement doing this today. This is a complete lie. “Mainstream,” “moderate” conservatives have denounced the Birther Conspiracy. David Horowitz, NewsReal, Mike Huckabee, and Ann Coulter have all dismissed the notion that President Barack Obama is not a natural born citizen.

But the birther issue is not the only conspiracy theory Cox cited. She also noted WND's role in promoting the "deather" issue -- the discredited idea that health care reformcontains "death panels" -- and that "it's currently warning that the White House is spying on your Facebook page." Cooper doesn't mention these -- perhaps because his fellow NewsReal writers, far from dismissing it, have endorsed the "death panel" attack.

Further, Cooper's claim that "'Mainstream,' 'moderate' conservatives have denounced the Birther Conspiracy" belies the fact that such denunciation has not been consistent. As Cooper Cox and Tanenhaus note:

TANENHAUS: Now what we see are supposed intellectuals on the right who are really mouthpieces of the party and don't differ with it in any way. So they give you not denunciations of these sorts of conspiracy theories but highbrow versions of them. In other words, they agree.

COX: Like in the National Review recently, actually, about this birther thing, they sort of very -- I think very proudly pat themselves on the back about running this editorial saying that they didn't buy into the birther movement. But then --

TANENHAUS: They pulled out some evidence.

COX: That's right.

TANENHAUS: Well, you know, the great historian --

COX: They pulled -- they had someone write a piece that said, "Well, I don't believe in the birther movement, but it raises some interesting questions."

Indeed, while NewsReal sister publication FrontPageMag did denounce the birthers back in April, it has not done so in any significant way since then -- and we don't see Cooper exactly rushing to do any substantive denunciation now.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:30 AM EDT
Meanwhile ...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

David Weigel at the Washington Independent has a good article on WorldNetDaily's role in promulgating conspiracy theories and attacking the Obama administration, such has its campaign against Obama adviser Van Jones.

And MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," with Ana Marie Cox as guest host, highlights WND's conspiracy theories as well.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:24 AM EDT
The Crazy Train Rolls On
Topic: The ConWeb

The latest to board the crazy train that is the right-wing freak-out over President Obama's upcoming speech to students:

A Sept. 4 Accuracy in Media column by Rita Kramer invokes the "Hitler Jugend," adding: "It's ridiculous to imagine Obama Youth, isn't it? Here? Once, in the beginning, it seemed ridiculous there too." Too bad for Kramer that Obama's not doing that.

Jeff Poor began his Sept. 3 MRC Culture & Media Institute column by invoking Obama's purported narcisissm: "His weekly address on health care Aug. 22 mentioned the word “I” eight times ... The week before when he talked about health care, he said “I” 12 times." Poor goes on to baselessly denounce Obama's speech as "indoctrination" and that it "should serve as a larger reminder that this kind of manipulation of young people occurs every day in America at the hands of the NEA." Poor adds: "Conservatives of all stripes – social conservatives, libertarians, Christian conservatives and more – all need to unify to stop government from manipulating our young people." If any manipulating is to be done, Poor seems to be saying, it's conservatives who should be doing it.

Meanwhile, Bob Unruh hides a partisan agenda in a Sept. 5 article highlighting the claims of the right-wing Liberty counsel and its founder, Mathew Staver, that Obama's speech is illegal. Unruh describes Staver as "A lawyer whose work has included myriad civil rights disputes and who has practice before the U.S. Supreme Court ," refusing to accurately identify Staver's right-wing, anti-Obama agenda.

Kramer, Poor and Unruh all fail to mention that both Presidents Bush gave speeches to students or issued teaching materials, as did Ronald Reagan.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 AM EDT
Sunday, September 6, 2009
WND Takes Credit for Van Jones' Scalp
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily wasted no time in taking credit for Van Jones quitting as President Obama 's green jobs czar, throwing up an article and column to that effect on a Saturday night of a holiday weekend to do so.

A Sept. 6 article credited Jones' resignation on "pressure mounted over his extremist history first exposed in WND." Joseph Farah's column was even less modest, carrying the headline "WND brings down the 'red czar'." He demanded: "Do you expect those so ferociously attacking WND as a 'conspiracy site' to recognize it was this news agency that first broke the Van Jones story in April and relentlessly pursued it for five months to the bitter end?"

But WND's reporting on Jones was conspiratorial and littered with guilt-by-association accusations, such as an Aug. 13 article claiming that Jones "served on the board of an environmental activist group at which a founder of the Weather Underground terrorist organization is a top director." This kind of reporting smacks of McCarthyism, pure and simple.

Plus, there's the fact that WND's reporting is so unreliable and discredited that the first reaction any sensible reader should have is to dismiss it out of hand. Farah has no one to blame for that but himself, due to his longtime pattern of putting his hatred of Democrats before the truth.

Farah seems to think that because WND's inflammatory actually had real-life consequences, WND is therefore not a "conspiracy site." He couldn't be further from the truth, given the fact that his website is claiming that Obama was to put his political enemies in concentration camps and kill Americans by forcibly giving them swine flu shots -- fearmongering that could have the effect of WND being responsible for the deaths of Americans.

It wouldn't be a Farah column if he wasn't self-aggrandizing and self-pitying. The former comes when he conflates the questionable ties of an obscure government official to a presidential sex scandal: "Once there was a story of a blue dress. Now there's the story of a red czar."

The latter comes when -- after denying that WND is a "conspiracy site" -- Farah asserts a conspiracy against WND:

I strongly suspect that the recent fusillade of attacks on WND – from the left and the right – over our unrelenting coverage of the missing birth certificate and other Obama papers was actually orchestrated as much by those who saw us closing in on Van Jones as over our pursuit of the eligibility story.

Of course, if you know me and WND, the relentless pursuit of the truth and our focus on all government waste, fraud, abuse and corruption won't end here. This is what we do. This is what we have always done. This is what we will continue to do no matter from which direction the brickbats fly.

But for WND, "unrelenting coverage" of the birth certificate equates to frequently false coverage. And as we have pointed out, that is not what WND has "always done," unless you append "when a Democrat is in the White House" to it.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:17 AM EDT

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