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Sunday, October 18, 2009
NewsBusters Bias-Hunting Fail
Topic: NewsBusters

A pair of NewsBusters attempts to sniff out liberal bias have gone, shall we say, awry.

An Oct. 16 post by Ken Shepherd purports to finda hidden agenda in the fact that a voiceover announcer for MSNBC also supplies the voiceover for an ad by "a pro-ObamaCare group."As County Fair's Matt Gertz points out, Shepherd persists with this conspiracy even after pointing out that MSNBC told him that the announcer is a freelancer who isn't prohibited from taking on other work.

Meanwhile, Noel Sheppard tried in an Oct. 15 post to find something sinister in Al Gore advising Google about "aspects of search quality," citing alleged "ongoing concerns about Google's political leanings and how its search algorithms might be manipulated to favor liberal news outlets over conservative points of view." As Sadly, No! noted, Sheppard failed to mention that Gore was acting on behalf of Apple, where he's on the board of directors.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:44 PM EDT
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Farah Insults Yet Another WND Critic
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah continues to be as thin-skinned as he ever was.

Farah used his Oct. 15 WorldNetDaily column to rant against a Roanoke Times columnist, Dan Casey, who criticized WND for endorsing censorship over a book lent by a high school teacher to a student, who lent the book to another student, whose father purported offense and ran to WND to complain. Casey's main offense, in Farah's eyes, was describing WND as a "California-based conspiracy-theory laden 'news' website." Farah retorted:

First of all, WND didn't "pick up the story." It broke it – a full four days before Dan Casey's local fish wrapper ever once mentioned it.

Second of all, WND is not based in California and neither is it "conspiracy-theory laden." (He must be getting his "facts" from Wikipedia.)

Apparently, the WND piece hit its mark. According to Casey, if he can be trusted in relating any truth, "Calls flooded the office of William Byrd, Principal Richard Turner and the Roanoke County schools administrative offices."

Of course, Farah is lying -- WND is very much "conspiracy-laden." As MSNBC's Rachel Maddow nicely summed up, WND is "a clearinghouse for most of the wackiest conspiracy theories on the right: President Obama is secretly foreign! Health reform is a secret plot to kill old people! The president's speech to school kids is a secret plan to form a new Hitler Youth! FEMA is really a secret plan to put conservatives in concentration camps!"

But, Farah being Farah, he had to insult Casey and his newspaper as well. On top of calling his paper a "fish wrapper," Farah smears Casey as a "twisted individual" and "the kind of creature I can't stand" who writes his column "thankfully in virtual obscurity."

Farah, meanwhile, shows no evidence of having read the book himself -- he recites the laundry list of offensive descriptions in the book without explaining their context, yet he repeats without comment Casey's noting that the Bible contains "passages about sex, and homosexuality, adultery, sodomy and incest. Plus murder, fratricide and idolatry" and pointing out those incidents have a "larger context."

Given Farah's eagerness to smear any critic of his work (as we know all too well), of course, there's no admission by Farah that WND libeled the teacher at the center of the manufactured controversy by suggesting that she wants to have sex with her students.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:43 AM EDT
Herbert London Whitewashes His Own History
Topic: Newsmax

Prefacing his Oct. 13 Newsmax column's straw-man attack on the claim that "criticism of the president’s healthcare proposal is based on race" -- no evidence is provided that anyone has actually made that assertion, only a nebulous assertion that "some have argued" it -- Herbert London wrote:

In 1994, during my campaign for New York state comptroller against Carl McCall, the race card was played persistently by members of the press and by my opponent.

Since I had been active in civil rights causes, opened a headquarters in Harlem, was a sponsor of CORE events and had two men of color as my campaign chairmen, Reuben Diaz and Roy Innis, I was perplexed and disappointed. It became exceedingly ugly when Bob Herbert in a New York Times column called me a “racist,” a claim that was made without the slightest effort to speak to me directly or examine my record.

Even though I thought I was emotionally calloused, the charge hurt. Most significantly, it had a chastening influence on my campaign.

Even though I felt Mr. McCall made mistakes in our debates and had adopted positions that made him vulnerable to criticism, I was reluctant to challenge him. It was restraint borne of a false, but effective charge.

London fails to detail the circumstances that resulted in Bob Herbert making that claim about London, which puts the lie to any claim that he was "reluctant to challenge" McCall. From Herbert's Nov. 2, 1994, column:

Mr. London, who is Jewish, has run a bizarre and racist campaign against H. Carl McCall, a Democrat who is black. The campaign has been as subtle as a mugging.

"Kill the Jews?"

That's the way a London television ad opens, with the deliberately inflammatory words emblazoned in huge white letters on a black background. It's a sick ad, part of a relentless attempt by the London campaign to falsely portray Mr. McCall as an anti-Semite and to create in the minds of voters a phony link between him and the riots in Crown Heights.

The ad's script goes out of its way to tell viewers that Mr. London is "a Jewish candidate." A grainy, speeded-up black-and-white clip of Mr. McCall suffices to make the point that he is not.

The ad has not yet appeared on television, but Mr. London has released it to news organizations and a portion of it was played on WNBC-TV.

In another ad, this one printed in The Jewish Press, a smiling photo of Mr. London appears beneath the heading "Kosher," while an unsmiling Mr. McCall is labeled "Non-Kosher." The ad says, "On Nov. 8 You Decide Who Is Kosher for Our Community!"

That ad achieves a spectacular low in dirty politics by listing a series of quotes that were designed to upset Jewish voters and were attributed to Jesse Jackson, Sonny Carson (his first name was misspelled), Herbert Daughtry, Karen Burstein (her last name was misspelled), David Dinkins and others. At the bottom of the ad, in the tiniest print you can imagine, is a disclaimer that admits the quotes are "fictitious." They were made up by London supporters.

This has been the tone of the London campaign since the beginning. Many scurrilous lies have been told about Mr. McCall and nearly all have been related, directly or indirectly, to his race. He's also been compared to the Nazis and accused -- falsely -- of promising Nelson Mandela that he would invest New York State funds in South Africa.

It's obvious that by the time Herbert's column appeared, London had been campaigning in anything but a chastened manner. Further, the election was held on Nov. 8, 1994; Herbert's column appeared just six days earlier, making it unlikely that London's assertion he was "reluctant to challenge" McCall as a result of the column has any basis in fact.

Herbert was far from the only person to complain about London's campaign tactics. Even some of London's fellow Republicans distanced themselves from him, stating that "unfounded allegations or sneering hints of anti-Semitism are the most disgusting campaign tactics that exist."

Any claims of hurt by London at being labeled as engaging in racially charged tactics are nothing more than crocodile tears designed to distract from the fact that that's exactly what he was doing.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:46 AM EDT
Friday, October 16, 2009
Meanwhile...
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Talking Points Memo details the rabidly anti-Muslim motivations of David Gaubatz, co-author with Paul Sperry of the WND-published anti-CAIR screed, "Muslim Mafia."

And MSNBC's Rachel Maddow points out that WND is "the pulsing, throbbing cuckoo core" of various right-wing conspiracy theories, which, she adds, "would just make them inadvertantly hilarious, if the Republican Party wasn't paying WorldNetDaily for their email lists. And now, congressional Republicans are doing the book publicity tour for the latest WorldNetDaily blockbuster cuckoo conspiracy book."

Republican Rep. Sue Myrick wrote the foreword to the book.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:13 PM EDT
Kessler Contradicts Cashill
Topic: Newsmax

Ronald Kessler, for all his hatred of Barack Obama, occasionally finds a way to beat it back.

In his Oct. 15 Newsmax column, Kessler comes to Obama's defense from the likes of Jack Cashill by asserting that Obama did indeed write his own books:

The latest viral rumor on the Internet is that former Weatherman William Ayers wrote President Obama’s best-selling book “Dreams From My Father.”

The story has its origin on Anne Leary’s blog Backyard Conservative. She recounted running into Ayers at Reagan National Airport. After she introduced herself, Ayers supposedly blurted out that he wrote Obama’s book.

You don’t have to be an FBI agent to recognize that even if true, no one would make such an admission in those circumstances. Moreover, having read the book and Obama’s more recent “The Audacity of Hope,” I can say that the writing in both books is so exceptional that very few authors — and certainly not Ayers — could have written them.

Kessler curiously traces the rumor back only to the Ayers airport encounter, completely ignoring Cashill's obsessive conspiracy surrounding it.

Unfortunately, Kessler spoils the mood by giving in to the urge to smack around somebody. That would be John Kennedy, for not writing "Profiles in Courage."


Posted by Terry K. at 9:19 AM EDT
WND: Obama Born In Kenya -- The Internet Says So!
Topic: WorldNetDaily

If it's on the Internet, it must be true -- that appears to be WorldNetDaily's philosophy of fact-checking.

An Oct. 15 WND article by Bob Unruh touts how an "archived article" from a 2004 Kenyan newspaper calling Barack Obama "Kenyan-born." This, Unruh asserts "is significant."

Um, no, it's not. Well, it is, but only to people like Unruh and his fellow birther obsessives at WND. Given that the newspaper article also misspells Obama's name, it's a sure bet that standards of accuracy are not the highest -- that is to say, they are a lot like those at WND.

But spreading yet another lie is not enough for Unruh -- he has to gin up a conspiracy as well:

The article is credited to the wire service Associated Press through an attribution at the bottom of the page. However, the article could not be found either in the AP archives available to the public online or the archive on the newspaper's website. WND telephone calls and e-mails to the newspaper did not generate a response.

At the Post & Email blog, writer John Charlton raised several explanations, including the suggestion references to Obama's birth have been scrubbed.

He wrote that a search of Google for the issue produced unusual results.

"When you attempt to search for 'Kenyan-born Obama'; results are missing; years prior to 2004 seem scrubbed; and when you click a link to an article in 2000, you get an article in 2004.

"Deliberate sabotage of their own news archive?" he wondered.

If a blogger couldn't find evidence of a false claim anywhere else, then it must be true!

Of course, a legitimate news outlet would have made an effort to verify the claim before publishing it. But that's not how WND rolls -- remember, it published the Orly Taitz-supplied "Kenyan birth certificate" without bothering to investigate its veracity beforehand. It was only several days after publication that WND conceded that the "certificate" was a forgery, citing "several samples of Kenyan birth certificates" it obtained -- even though it cited "other birth certificates from Kenya" to claim that they "appear to be identical" to the forgery.

But that appears to have been the point of publishing something it couldn't be bothered to verify beforehand -- to rope in the suckers who believe that if it's on the Internet, it must be true.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:29 AM EDT
Obama Derangement Syndrome Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The year is 1988. Obama is a community organizer in Chicago. He tells us he is making $13,000 a year. Although Iran guards its nuclear secrets less zealously than the Obama camp guards their man's grades and LSAT scores, we do know that Obama did not graduate with honors from Columbia University.

That much said, he tells his street friend "Johnnie" that he has decided to go to law school: "The minute I told him the schools to which I'd applied – Harvard, Yale, Stanford – he had grinned and slapped me on the back."

Harvard, Yale, Stanford? Oh, to be Obama!

[...]

When affirmative action quietly morphed into "diversity," and the rationale for unearned glory shifted from compensation to cultural variety, Obama could not provide that either.

Growing up in a white family in the least black state of America without "Dakota" in its name, he contributed less "blackness" to the cultural stew than I would have growing up in Newark.

Still, Obama looked sort of black, even as he lived white, and that proved enough for the easily satisfied. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," said the inimitable Joe Biden.

And yet, none of this would have gotten Obama elected president, if he had taken his wisdom from, say, a Clarence Thomas and not a Bill Ayers.

-- Jack Cashill, Oct. 15 WorldNetDaily column


Posted by Terry K. at 1:03 AM EDT
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Is New Book WND's Revenge Against CAIR?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We've already noted how the new WorldNetDaily-published book, "Muslim Mafia," attacking the Council on American-Islamic Relations is short on earth-shattering revelations (CAIR lobbies Congress! It has an intern program!). But is it part of a WND act of revenge against CAIR?

As we've detailed, in 2008 CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper criticized the WND-published book "Why We Left Islam," which included testimony by the dubious (and WND-promoted) Walid Shoebat. Among Hooper's complaints was that "The editor is a guy who suggested air-dropping pig's blood over Afghanistan." WND editor Joseph Farah largely played dumb, stating that he has never made the claim (true) but took pains to avoid admitting the claim does exist at WND.

A Sept. 27, 2001, column by Paul Sperry -- then a WND reporter -- did in fact make that suggestion, as well as several other pig-centric claims, because "pigs are to Islamic terrorists – such as Osama bin Laden and his henchmen – what kryptonite is to Superman, or what garlic is to Dracula" and "we'll have to use their religion against them to win."

Sperry, as it happens, is co-author of "Muslim Mafia."

Is Sperry's book nothing more than a big snit getting back at CAIR for criticizing his Muslim-bashing writing? It may very well be.

UPDATE: Sperry has long been a right-wing writer; before joining WND, he worked for Investor's Business Daily. His most notable achievement there was breaking protocol by asking President Clinton about "Chinagate" during a White House social event, setting Clinton off on a rant and making himself into a hero to right-wingers like Michelle Malkin.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:07 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009 6:43 PM EDT
Andy Williams Walks Back Obama Criticism; NewsBusters Saddened
Topic: NewsBusters

There is sadness in the ConWeb today -- Andy Williams is walking back his criticism of Obama.

After years of mocking celebrities for expressing their liberal political beliefs, conservatives rallied behind singer Williams'  assertion that President Obama "wants the country to fail." The MRC's Brent Baker highlighted Williams' quote, and WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah dedicated an entire column to it, writing, It's funny where you have to search for truth these days. Who would have thought we'd hear it from 81-year-old singer Andy Williams, best known for his rendition of 'Moon River'? "

Now, however, you can almost feel the regret as Baker writes in an Oct. 13 NewsBusters post that Williams "has backed off the sharp edge of his criticism of President Obama." Williams is now saying, " I have nothing absolutely against a liberal Democrat. ... I just think sometimes, like a lot of Americans, that he might be guiding us in the wrong direction."

Perhaps even more painful to Baker, Williams "concluded by dismissing the relevance of his opinion: 'But that's just from a singer. It really doesn't mean much.'"

Of course, Baker needed to find a sinister motive for Williams' walkback, pointing out that Williams has a new book out and that he wants "to get back in the good graces of liberals and Obama fans."


Posted by Terry K. at 9:23 AM EDT
New Article: Anonymously Yours, WorldNetDaily
Topic: WorldNetDaily
Despite Joseph Farah's professed hatred of anonymous sources, his website has no problem making use of them to attack its enemies -- particularly Barack Obama. Heck, WND is even willing to grant anonymity to terrorists. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 2:04 AM EDT
WND's New Anti-CAIR Book Not That Compelling
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has been making a big deal out of its new WND-published book, "Muslim Mafia," which editor Joseph Farah claims documents the Council of American-Islamic Relations' "associations and support for known terrorists and its relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood – the same organization that spawned al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah."

The heart of the book is, in Farah's words, "12,000 pages of compelling internal documents gathered in the daring covert penetration of CAIR." Another WND article goes on to describe the plan to get those documents as "a real-life, heart-pounding thriller."

Only, it's not really that compelling.

As Talking Points Memo details, the key takeaway from the book is a claim that "is infiltrating Capitol Hill with undercover interns" -- particularly ironic when you consider those  "12,000 pages of compelling internal documents" were obtained by an "intern" infiltrating CAIR.

And those documents ultimately didn't reveal all that much. As CAIR president Ibrahim Hooper told TPM, "This guy spied on us for months, and the most they can come up with is that we're doing ordinary lobbying work on Capitol Hill?"

CAIR is accusing the "intern" of stealing property. Farah's response is that the documents were legally obtained because the intern "was asked to shred documents he believed might be criminal evidence … and involve matters of national security. On advice from counsel, he collected those documents and preserved them. None of the documents were 'stolen.' ... They were, in fact, handed to him by CAIR employees for destruction."  

WND also appears to be taking refuge in the claim that "it is a federal and state crime to participate in the destruction of evidence of a crime if reasonable suspicion exists the documents are evidence of criminal activity." But lobbying activities of the kind the documents show CAIR was involved with are not "criminal activity."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Health Insurance Study Not As Thorough As Blumer Thinks
Topic: NewsBusters

In an Oct. 13 NewsBusters post about the newly released PricewaterhouseCoopers study, paid for the the insurance lobby America's Health Insurance Plans, claiming that health care reform will result in higher health care costs. Tom Blumer asserts:

Understand this: When PwC prepares a report for the health insurance industry projecting, in the Wall Street Journal's words, that "the Senate Finance Committee’s big health-care bill would raise health insurance premiums by thousands of dollars a year," one can be confident that it is based on exhaustively researched and thoroughly reviewed work.

Actually, not so much.

the PwC study itself states that "[t]he reform packages under consideration have other provisions that we have not included in this analysis. We have not estimated the impact of the new subsidies on the net insurance cost to households." And as Len Nichols of the New America Foundation details, the study contains questionable assumptions -- that all Medicare savings will be converted into private sector cost shifts, and that premium growth in the absence of reform will be the same as per capita health care cost growth.

Further, the thoroughness of the PwC study was debunked by, er, PwC:

America's Health Insurance Plans engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to prepare a report that focused on four components of the Senate Finance Committee proposal:

-- Insurance market reforms and consumer protections that would raise health insurance premiums for individuals and families if the reforms are not coupled with an effective coverage requirement.

-- An excise tax on employer-sponsored high value health plans.

-- Cuts in payment rates in public programs that could increase cost shifting to private sector businesses and consumers.

-- New taxes on health sector entities.

The analysis concluded that collectively the four provisions would raise premiums for private health insurance coverage. As the report itself acknowledges, other provisions that are part of health reform proposals were not included in the PwC analysis. The report stated on page 1:

"The reform packages under consideration have other provisions that we have not included in this analysis. We have not estimated the impact of the new subsidies on the net insurance cost to households. Also, if other provisions in health care reform are successful in lowering costs over the long term, those improvements would offset some of the impacts we have estimated."

As the Washington Post's Ezra Klein summed up: "In other words, PWC is saying that AHIP paid it to focus on four parts that AHIP didn't like and ignore everything else in the bill. On Page 1, PWC embedded a disclaimer essentially admitting that their report was woefully inadequate."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:40 PM EDT
WND Still Whitewashing Orly Taitz
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An Oct. 13 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh on a judge's rebuke of birther attorney Orly Taitz is the closest thing to criticism that WND has offered of her, but Unruh still pulls punches and hides relevant information.

Unruh's emphasis in the first part of his article was on the judge "mocking her concern over Obama's background," waiting until the 14th paragraph to get to the meat of the judge's order that "Taitz 'personally attacks' opposing parties and 'disrespects' the judiciary, 'recklessly' accusing the judge of violating ethics rules."

Unruh referenced Taitz's client in this case, "a reserve military officer, Connie Rhodes, who questioned Obama's eligibility to hold office." But Unruh failed to note that Rhodes dropped Taitz as her attorney after Taitz filed an appeal of the judge's ruling dismissing her complaint without obtaining Rhodes' permission to do so.

Unruh also reported that "Taitz also has another case pending in California. She represents several dozen defendants, and attorney Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation represents two others." But Unruh didn't report, as we detailed, that the defendants now with Kreep were originally represented by Taitz until they determined that she was "in over her head," and that Taitz for a while refused to sign papers transferring their reprsentation from her to Kreep -- another breach of legal ethics.

By refusing to report the full story of Taitz's legal misadventures, WND is still following Taitz's order not to criticize her.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:14 PM EDT
Farber Jumps From Newsmax to WND
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has announced that "longtime talk-radio host, author and language expert" Barry Farber has joined WorldNetDaily as a columnist.

What WND curiously doesn't mention: Farber had been a columnist for rival Newsmax, where his writings have appeared since 2000.

It's strange that WND wouldn't mention, let alone take credit for, stealing a columnist from its rival. But then, Farber wasn't much of a poach -- he was a second-tier columnist at Newsmax, and it's difficult toimagine that his status would improve much at WND.

On the other hand,  Farber's embrace of birtherism makes him a better fit at WND these days.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:42 AM EDT
ConWeb Hypocrites Defend Limbaugh
Topic: The ConWeb

Rush Limbaugh is in trouble again -- well, actually, he just wants to buy a pro football franchise -- and you know what that means: The ConWeb is running to his rescue, defending him no matter what (just like before), and despite their own hypocrisy.

The issue this time is racially charged quotes attributed to Limbaugh which are apparently not what he actually said. Unsurprisingly, the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell was quick to attack:

“CNN and MSNBC must immediately and publicly source when Limbaugh uttered this phrase. He has unequivocally denied it. Now it is up to the same news media that reported it as fact to prove that it was, indeed, stated.

“The MRC has overnighted letters to senior executives at both cable networks demanding that they take this sourcing seriously and report back to the public. We await their word.

“Either Rush Limbaugh is lying or these networks – willfully or not – are participants in the worst form of character assassination imaginable.   They can prove their innocence by documenting this accusation. If they can’t, then they are 100% guilty of character assassination.

“Tomorrow we will go public with their response.” 

The hypocrisy here is that it took the MRC nine years to admit that it stitched quotes together out of a book by New York Times editor Howell Raines to falsely accuse Raines of smearing Ronald Reagan. It has yet to apologize or correct its out-of-context misrepresentation of a Boston Globe profile of Ted Kennedy.

Similarly, an Oct. 13 WorldNetDaily article by Chelsea Schilling highlighting Limbaugh's "scathing attack of news reporters today for publicizing racist-sounding remarks he never made – and he's demanding retractions and apologies from every journalist who repeated the 'libelous' statements."

The problem? By that same standard, WND has repeatedly committed libel against President Obama, refusing to correct the numerous false claims it has made about him and his policies.

Just another day in the pot-kettle-black world of the ConWeb.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:21 AM EDT

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