MRC Ramps Up Misinformation on HHS Letter Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center continues its misinformation campaign on a letter issued by the Department of Health and Human Services regarding a letter sent by the health provider Humana to its Medicare Advantage enrollees.
In a Sept. 24 press release, the MRC falsely claimed that HHS "demanded all private health insurance companies immediately stop communicating how health care legislation might affect their Medicare Advantage customers' plans and threatened to prosecute them if they refused to comply." In fact, the letter stated that HHS was asking firms to "suspend potentially misleading mailings to beneficiaries about health care and insurance reform." It does not forbid all communication with its clients -- just those that mislead and can be interpreted as representing "official communication about the Medicare Advantage program"and those that misuse "the lists of Medicare enrollees for unauthorized purposes."
The MRC hyperbolically asserted that "This is an abuse of power that would shock even Richard Nixon," and MRC chief followed up by claiming that the Obama administration is mounting "an orchestrated and deliberate attempt to keep American citizens in the dark, particularly vulnerable seniors."
Again, HHS has not forbidden all communication between insurers and their Medicare clients. It has asked -- not ordered -- that insurers stop misleading their Medicare Advantage clinets and not misuse mailing lists for unauthorized purposes. The MRC is lying by claiming otherwise.
MRC Gives Fox A Pass on Orchestrating News Topic: NewsBusters
You'd think that video footage of a network news producer orchestrating crowd reaction off-camera for a news report would get the folks at a media watchog like the Media Research Center all hot and bothered.
But since the network in question is Fox News, the MRC is willing to overlook it.
A Sept. 21 NewsBusters post by MRC researcher Matthew Balan notes that CNN's Rick Sanchez used the footage of the Fox News producer "raise[d] her arms to get the crowd to hoop and howl on command" for coverage of the anti-Obama 9/12 rally -- but Balan said no more about it, choosing instead to attack Sanchez because he "didn’t raise any objections when former CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen lashed out on-camera at Tea Party protesters at an April 15 rally in Chicago."
The MRC routinelygives Fox News a pass for behavior it would criticize had it taken place on another network.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler made his mark by being a sycophantic supporter of Mitt Romney and saying creepily fawning things about Romney's wife.
Kessler's still at it. His Sept. 21 column touts the public health insurance plan Romney introduced as governor of Massachusetts, writing that it "has managed to cover nearly all residents at minimal additional cost to the state and could be a model for national healthcare reform." Kessler's source for that claim? Romney himself.
Kessler goes on to allow Romney to claim without challenge that any problems with the Massachusetts plan are not his fault: The state legislature "decided to add some features, which are ones that I did not support," and its coverage of abortions is "the product of a liberal court."
NewsBusters' Sheppard Endorses Likening Obama to Hitler Topic: NewsBusters
Godwin's Law? What Godwin's Law?
Noel Sheppard uses a Sept. 23 NewsBusters post to endorse smearing President Obama as Hitler, decreeing it acceptable political discourse apparently because nobody killed President Bush aafter some critics likened him to Hitler. Sheppard highlighted a video that mashed up the audio of a "Rachel Maddow Show" segment asking whether "calling the president Hitler is an implicit call for politically motivated violence" with, according to sheppard, "an overlay of pictures and footage of demonstrations when George W. Bush was president." Sheppard called the video "an extraordinarily powerful demonstration of how hypocritical the current liberal media position is concerning this matter."
Actually, the hypocrite here is Sheppard. Here's what his boss, Brent Bozell, wrote in a Jan. 7, 2004, column:
Comparing an American President to the fiendish fascist architect of death camps used to be seen as beyond the pale ... Comparing American political figures or policies to Nazi Germany – unless it’s the actions of the American Nazi Party or their ilk – is the first mark of a reckless kook.
Indeed, the same ConWeb folks currently condoning or promulgating Obama-Nazi comparisons -- or in a previous administration, Clinton-Nazi comparisons -- were utterly offended by a submission to a MoveOn.org ad contest made a Bush-Hitler comparison.
Accuracy in Media's K. Daniel Glover highlighted the same video in a Sept. 23 blog post, though he attempted to obscure things by stating that "People who resort to such analogies on either side of the political spectrum are ignorant of Godwin's Law and should be condemned." Will Glover condemn his employer, which just two months ago handed over its AIM Report to Hilmar von Campe, a Nazi-smearer extrordinaire who, in his AIM column, likened the Obama administration to "Hitler's policy to get total power"? Indeed, an editor's note at the top of von Campe's column specifically states how he "offers comparisons between Nazi Germany and America today."
Perhaps Sheppard and Glover can explain why what was so offensive to them and their fellow travelers in 2004 is perfectly acceptable now.
WorldNetDaily is touting -- and Jack Cashill is gloating about -- how celebrity author Christopher Andersen is claiming that William Ayers helped to write Barack Obama's book "Dreams From My Father." But there's circular logic going on here: Andersen's main source for this claim appears to be ... Jack Cashill.
As we've detailed, Cashill has spent much time and energy promoting the discredited theory that Ayers ghost-wrote "Dreams From My Father."
The Sept. 23 WND article by Art Moore notes that "Andersen cites Cashill as a source" for the claim, but tries to obscure that by claiming that "Andersen relied on inside sources, quite possibly Michelle Obama, to describe how 'Dreams' was published." Cashill similarly tries to obscure things as well, writing that "Andersen cites my contribution to his research, but he clearly has access to inside information that I did not have."
But we don't know if Andersen is basing his claim on anyone other than Cashill -- it's certainly not clear from Moore's and Cashill's accounts.
Moore goes on to tout how "Cashill commissioned an independent scientific comparative analysis of writings by Obama and Ayers to determine whether Ayers had a significant role in the writing of 'Dreams.'" But he doesn't mention that at least one of those experts utterly discredited Cashill's conpsiracy theory.
MRC Ignores Full Story on Criticism of Medicare Letter Topic: Media Research Center
A Sept. 23 MRC item (and NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker accuses the Obama administration of "using the full power of a federal regulatory agency to suppress free speech -- specifically, to silence Humana's predictions about the impact of proposed ObamaCare cuts to the Medicare Advantage program." But Baker hides the full nature of the criticism of Humana.
At issue is a mailer Humana sent to its clients in the Medicare Advantage program, which claimed that the Obama adminisration wants to cut "important benefits and services" of Medicare -- essentially electioneering on an issue it has a major interest in. This resulted in a letter from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services asking Humana to stop such mailings, claiming that "the information in the letter is misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, who may believe that it represents official communication about the Medicare Advantage program." CMS is also investigating whether Humana inappropriately used the lists of Medicare enrollees for unauthorized purposes.
By not mentioning the possibility that Humana may have misused mailing lists for political purposes -- and not bothering to fact-check the mailing to see if it actually is as "misleading" as the government claims -- Baker falsely portrays the issue as one of free speech.
Baker further misleadingly repeats an ABC report calling the CMS letter a "gag order." Humana has not been "gagged" on this issue; rather, it is been asked to stop making misleading claims and misusing mailing list for unauthorized purposes.
Drennan Can't Tell Difference Between Celebrity Writer, Ex-Administration Official Topic: NewsBusters
A Sept. 22 NewsBusters post highlights the skepticism of CBS' Harry Smith toward a new book by Christopher Anderson about the Obamas' marriage, then complained that "Smith was not at all skeptical when discussing a tell-all book about President George W. Bush by former press secretary Scott McClellan."
Of course, there's a difference between a celebrity author like Andersen writing about something he is, never was, and can never be part of -- the Obamas' marriage -- and someone like McClellan, who was very much a part of the administration he wrote about. Too bad Drennen can't see the difference.
New Article: WorldNetDaily Red-Baits Obama Topic: WorldNetDaily
Led by Aaron Klein, WND has repeatedly attempted to tie the president -- however desperately and tangentally -- to communism and socialism. Read more >>
Obama-Nazi Reference of the Day Topic: WorldNetDaily
But someone who'll be there that you didn't hear about is Kitty Werthmann. Kitty was 12 years old when Adolf Hitler took over Austria.
She is 83 with a "vivid memory" of what happened in her homeland next. She witnessed the government take over the banks and the auto industry. Sound familiar? In the last nine months, Obama and the Democrats in Congress have successfully orchestrated the government takeover of Chrysler and General Motors along with countless banks.
She witnessed the "compulsory youth" service and indoctrination. That sounds a little like Obama's call for "mandatory volunteerism" for America's youth.
The government takeover of the schools immediately replaced crucifixes with pictures of Hitler and Nazi flags. "All religious instruction was replaced with physical education," said Werthmann. No prayer was allowed. That all happened here decades ago. It is interesting, however, that Obama's speech to the captive audience in the government schools – complete with the essay assignment about how students could help him achieve his political goals – was replaced once the American people got wind of it. And speaking of government control of education, if the Senate agrees, all student loans will be government issued, according to a bill that passed the House last week.
Werthmann saw what happened next when the government took over the health-care system. Her brother-in-law was a physician, and by the time he got to his office, 40 patients were already waiting in line. And if the medicine they needed wasn't on the "government-approved list," the cost came out of his own salary – "which dwindled down to almost nothing," Werthmann recalled. Sounds like H.R. 3200.
They had Joseph Goebbels; we have Mark Lloyd, the diversity czar, who is already poised to shut down private radio stations like his hero Hugo Chavez did – threatening licenses and waging outrageous fines on stations (up to $25 million dollars) who say things he doesn't like.
Werthmann said it took five years for Hitler to rise to a dictatorship, and is amazed at how fast history is repeating itself here. "It has to be done fast," she added, "so people won't catch on."
WND Keeping Mum on Latest Taitz Disgrace Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily appears to be taking Orly Taitz's admonition to avoid criticism of her to heart.
The biggest story so far this week on the birther front is that Connie Rhodes -- An Army captain whom Taitz is representing in a lawsuit seeking to block her deployment to Iraq because Obama has purportedly not demonstrated himself to be an American citizen and thus qualified to be commander in chief, a case WND has touted -- has sent a letter to the judge in her case denouncing Taitz for filing motions in court without her knowledge or approval. Rhodes goes on to request that the motion be withdrawn and state that she no longer wished Taitz "to file any future motions or represent me in any way in this court," and Rhodes also states that she "plans to file a complaint with the California State Bar due to her reprehensible and unprofessional actions."
Taitz has repsonded by suggesting that Rhodes' letter is a forgery, even though Talking Points Memo has reported that thus far it appears to be legitimate.
It's been more than 24 hours since Rhodes' letter was first reported by TPM, but WND has yet to acknowledge its existence. After all, they wouldn't want to make Taitz look bad.
WorldNetDaily is currently touting an exposé of sorts in which Kathleen Willey -- yes, that Kathleen Willey, who apparently needs the work now that her Clinton-hating business has mostly dried up -- went undercover for WND to work as an employee with a government contractor to process rebate forms for the cash-for-clunkers program. The article's headline calls it a "sting," even though all Willey did was "taking notes on all she observed and experienced for WND."
The undercurrent of WND's "sting," however, is latent racism on the part of both Willey and WND. The article, by Chelsea Schilling, makes sure to note that the contractor that hired Willey and others for the program is "a minority-owned staffing company." Schilling continued:
Willey said she was the only non-minority applicant in the room. While human resources required a strict dress code for the position, she said she was shocked by the clothing and conduct of other candidates who were interviewed:
I was the only one dressed for a job interview. Everyone else had on jeans and T-shirts. Most women wore flip-flops. One woman was barefoot. The women were dressed extremely unprofessionally, in jeans and very revealing tops. A lot of them wore T-shirts that barely covered their stomachs. What I noticed most were the foul mouths of everyone around me.
Perhaps WND could have done better than to hire an admitted liar to conduct a "sting."
MRC's 'Profile of Bias' on Sawyer A Little Thin Topic: Media Research Center
Shortly after Diane Sawyer was named the new anchor of ABC's World News, the Media Research Center slapped together a "Profile in Bias" of Sawyer, purporting to detail her liberal slant presumably pulled from the MRC archives. In doing so, the MRC stretches things a bit, citing only 35 examples over a 20-year career -- not that many for someone who was on TV either daily ("Good Morning America") or weekly "20/20") throughout much of that time.
By contrast, Media Matters cites 14 examples of what might be called conservative bias by Sawyer just since 2006.
The MRC also presents simple recitation of facts by Sawyer as "bias." For instance, a statement that Yasser Arafat was "treated as a hero, freedom fighter, revolutionary" in parts of the world was classified under "Putting a Soft Focus on World’s Worst Thugs" -- even though the MRC also quotes Sawyer as saying that Israelis saw Arafat as "a bloody terrorist and nothing more."Similarly, Sawyer's noting in 1990 that Vladimir Lenin "retains an almost mystical hold on the Soviet people" was translated by the MRC as a "touting" of Lenin.
Sawyer also ran afoul of the MRC for highlighting the excesses of the Starr Report on President Clinton, pointing out that "I think there were 62 mentions of the word ‘breast,’ 23 of ‘cigar,’ 19 of ‘semen.’ This has been called demented pornography, pornography for Puritans."
At one point, the MRC seems to condone murder: Sawyer's statement that "The abortion debate turns deadly. A doctor known for performing late-term abortions gunned down at church" is prefaced by the headline "50 Million Dead Babies Later...."
As we've detailed, the MRC put together a similarly shoddy "profile in bias" of Katie Couric upon her appointment as CBS Evening News anchor.
Farah Misleads on Obama Ads At WND (Among Other Things) Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah's Sept. 21 WorldNetDaily column is a defense of ads for Obama's Fight the Smears website appearing at WND after "dozens of WND readers" expressed their concern and were "accusing me of everything from ineptitude to selling out." But Farah misleads about the nature of the ads -- and other things as well.
As the screen shots Farah included in his column show, the Fight the Smears ads aren't placed directly with WND but through Google AdSense (which we also use), which places ads based on the content of a specific web page. Because WND writes about (and attacks) Obama a lot, the Fight the Smears ads show up a lot as well. WND has merely chosen not to block them from appearing. AdSense's revenue model is based not on placement but on click-throughs. WND makes no money on these ads if its readers -- who, as a whole, are not inclined to support anything that even remotely benefits Obama -- don't click on them.
In other words, it's not as loftily principled as Farah portrays, and it is more about selling out.
There is a lack of principles on Farah's part here -- not for accepting the Obama ads but, rather, for using Google AdSense. As we've pointed out, Farah has repeatedly attacked Google, even calling the company "immoral" and that it "may not be able to discern right from wrong." Why is Farah working with an "immoral" ad partner? How does Farah explain how his "principles" led him to partner with such a company?
In other words, it's totally about selling out.
Farah also claimed that "WND hosted lots of ads for both John McCain and Barack Obama – even though your humble and ever-independent editor and founder wrote a book called 'None of the Above' and was outspoken in his criticism of both candidates."Farah doesn't mention that his own managing editor, David Kupelian, endorsed McCain -- a reflection of WND's overall coverage of the campaign, which tiltedheavily in McCain's favor.
Farah goes on to write:
I mentioned last week in this space that WND offers what I believe to be the broadest spectrum of commentary in any news forum anywhere – on the Net or off. Not one person has challenged that characterization. Do you know why? Because it is indisputably true. Name one news source or commentary source on the Net or off that provides space or time to the views of Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter and Joseph Farah and Bill Press, Nat Hentoff and Ellen Ratner?
Actually, we havechallenged it. Out of the three dozen or so regular columnists, only Press and Ratner can be described as liberal; the rest range from conservative to right-wing Christian to libertarian. The presence of Ratner and Press -- who rarely get promoted by WND the way it does its right wing columnists -- appear to be for the sole purpose of Farah claiming that WND offers "the broadest spectrum of commentary." Press and Ratner are outliers; WND's actual "spectrum of commentary" runs from conservative to far-right. It can't actually be described as "broad" when it's so heavily weighted to one side.
Farah also indulges in a little promotion of WND's book division, which he says "revolutionized the publishing industry in this country and opened the doors for best-selling books by Michael Savage and Mark Levin and Glenn Beck." How is publishing books by right-wing authors a revolution of any kind? And didn't Regnery beat WND to that punch by, oh, a decade or two?
Newsmax Doesn't Tell Whole Story of FAIR Topic: Newsmax
A Sept. 21 Newsmax article by Dave Eberhart touted a speech by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher at the Federation for America Immigration Reform's (FAIR) recent "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" gathering, noting how "Rohrabacher had come to the FAIR gathering to lend his support to that organization’s President, Dan Stein, who was busy himself sounding the clarion call about allowing the Obama administration to push through any reform that features amnesty."
Eberhart failed to note that FAIR was founded by John Tanton, who has made numerous controversial and arguably racist statements about immigrants. Nor did Eberhart mention that AIR received $1.2 million between 1985 and 1994 from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that supports the work of white supremacists, eugenicists, and others who seek to prove that genetic differences exist between races.