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Tuesday, June 7, 2011
MRC's Graham Upset That Media Ignored Hypothetical Statement
Topic: Media Research Center

In a June 5 NewsBusters post, the Media REsearch Center's Tim Graham grumbled that a statement in a courtroom argument by Solicitor General Neal Katyal was "blacked out by all the networks – and all the major newspapers and wire services." But Graham ignores that, in context, it was a hypothetical argument that Katyal made clear he didn't agree with.

The big tell that Graham intends to mislead is that he doesn't cite the original transcript of the argument; instead, he regurgitates what a right-wing blogger wrote. As Graham quoted the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein's portrayal of it,  Katyal "told a federal appeals court that Americans who didn't like the individual mandate could always avoid it by choosing to earn less money."

But that's not really what he did. As Media Matters notes, citing the full transcript of the exchange in question:

In the oral arguments debating the merits of the case (the relevant portion begins just before the 50-minute mark), Katyal responds to a question by Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Sutton regarding whether or not the Supreme Court has ever heard a case similar to this by referencing the 1964 case Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States. In this case, the motel in question wished to continue to refuse to provide rooms to African Americans. The motel argued that Title II of the Civil Rights Act which prevents discrimination in places of public accommodation, was not a valid exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause.

Katyal argued that the case demonstrated Congress' constitutional ability to "forc[e] people to do something that they wouldn't otherwise do" if it pertained to interstate commerce. Sutton claimed the cases weren't similar because the motel could "exit the business" as an alternative to complying, but that individuals have no similar ability. As a counter-example, Katyal said that if Sutton wanted "to play that game," than it was equally true that under the Affordable Care Act, an individual could chose to make less money as an alternative to complying with the individual mandate, as the hardship exemption in the health care reform bill means that individuals under a specific income threshold are exempt from penalties associated with the individual mandate.


But in a section of the transcript not included by any of the right-wing media, Katyal made crystal clear that he didn't think that in the real world people have the option of making less money. Katyal specifically stated that it was "kind of fanciful" to assume that either group would make that decision (full transcript below). In other words, Katyal was saying motel owners don't really have any option but to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 just like individuals don't have any choice but to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

The headline of Graham's post also falsely portrays Katyal calling this a "neat idea"; in fact, that's what Klein called it.

Graham seems not to understand that the reason this story was ignored was because there was no story, and that to turn it into one, you would have to twist Katyal's words like Graham does.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:03 AM EDT
Monday, June 6, 2011
Keene's Ex Caught Embezzling From ACU; Will Kessler Report?
Topic: Newsmax

We noted earlier this year that the closeness of Newsmax's Ronald Kessler to former American Conservative Union chief David Keene -- now head of the National Rifle Association -- would likely keep Kessler from telling his readers that Keene's ex-wife, in an accusation highlighted by WorldNetDaily, had allegedly embezzled money from the ACU.

Now, the Associated Press is reporting that the ex-wife, Diana Carr, has pleaded guilty to a count of mail fraud in federal court. Court documents say she took $120,000 to $400,000 from the ACU over a period of several years.

Meanwhile, Kessler has said nothing about Carr's crimes, even as he has continued to fluff Keene in his new job at the NRA and spin away other controversies at the ACU.

The AP article also contains this interesting tidbit:

It is not the first time a Keene family member got into legal trouble while working at the ACU. In 2003, David Keene's son, David M. Keene, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for discharging a firearm in a crime of violence after he shot at the driver of another car from his BMW on the George Washington Memorial Parkway in northern Virginia. Police said the shot missed the other driver's head by inches. At the time, the younger Keene, then 21, was serving as ACU's director of online communications.

Will Kessler report on Carr now that she has entered a guilty plea? Or will he wait for guidance from Keene on how to spin it?

Posted by Terry K. at 3:20 PM EDT
Corsi Still Pushing Discredited 'Expert's' Birth Certificate Claims
Topic: WorldNetDaily

We wondered when Jerome Corsi was going to get around to writing more of his promised articles about discredited "expert" Doug Vogt's claims about President Obama's long-form birth certificate. He finally comes through in a June 5 WorldNetDaily article, coming an entire week after the first one.

As before, Corsi uncritically repeats Vogt's claims without permitting anyone to respond to Vogt or acknowledging that theObama Conspiracy blog has rather handily demolished many of Vogt's claims.

Will Corsi's third article -- presumably coming a week from now -- address how Vogt has been discredited? Don't count on it.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:49 PM EDT
CNS Columnist Baselessly Attacks Planned Parenthood

Part of's continuing attacks on Planned Parenthood is a June 2 column by anti-abortion activist Jim Sedlak, who bills himself as "a recognized expert on Planned Parenthood." Sedlak writes:

Parents understand that Planned Parenthood is in the sex business – that it takes in millions of dollars from young people who have sex and not a penny from those who remain chaste. Parents see clearly that Planned Parenthood wants to lead their children into lives of sexual sin and away from their religious values and their families.

The Planned Parenthood Oregon Team Report referenced earlier documents that – in areas where Planned Parenthood is successful – churches and moral values lose. The document reports that church attendance among teens 15 to 19 years old, in those areas, has fallen from 60-80 percent to 4-9 percent.

In fact, the report doesn’t specifically credit or blame Planned Parenthood for this -- the "areas" in question are Germany, France and the Netherlands. Further, the report notes that religious authorities there have realistic attitudes toward sex. It also points out that these countries, which "expend less time and effort trying to prevent young people from having sex and more time and effort in educating and empowering young people to behave responsibly when they decide to have sex," have lower teen pregnancy, birth, abortion and STD rates, as well as a later average age of initial sexual activity, than the US. Sedlak doesn't mention that.

Sedlak also obscures the fact that the report goes out of its way to point out that disrespect for religious values is not the point:

This mixing of religion and public policy not only doesn’t exist in Germany, France and the Netherlands – it would not be tolerated. Public health policy is based upon research, not upon any one set of religious dictates.

This should not be interpreted as disregard or disrespect for religious values. The Dutch, German and French people consider the values of individual freedom and responsibility in sexual behavior extremely important. “In these countries, the morality of sexual behavior is weighed through an individual ethic that includes the values of responsibility, love, respect, tolerance and equity… The values that are incorporated into the individual ethic align well with the ethical teachings of Christianity and Judaism.” (Berne et al, 1999)

Still, Sedlak rants that "Taxpayers are actually giving Planned Parenthood over $300 million a year to seduce our children into sexual lifestyles – lives of sin." But refusing to tell the truth is a sin, too.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:53 AM EDT
Corsi Dishonestly Crops FactCheck In His Birther Book
Topic: WorldNetDaily

There are lots of problems with Jerome Corsi's WorldNetDaily's published birther book "Where's the Birth Certificate?" One of them is the way Corsi dishonestly edits the works of others to boost his case.

Corsi misleadingly attacks as a website that "raised questions about McCain's eligibility without raising raising similar questions about Obama," later repeating the point that FactCheck "pursued McCain's eligibility issues but steadfastly defended Obama's." As support for his claim, Corsi includes on page 142 a screenshot of the FactCheck article in question:

Note that Corsi has included only the "Q" part of the web page. He cropped what the "A" was. Why? Because it undermined the point he was trying to make:

That's right -- FactCheck considered McCain to be a "natural born citizen" in its one and only look at the issue, despite Corsi's suggestion that it repeatedly questioned McCain's citizenship. Corsi also complained that FactCheck had not examined Obama's citizenship at the time it examined McCain's, but Obama was still locked in a presidential primary battle with Hillary Clinton at the time the article came out, while McCain had effectively secured the Republican presidential nomination by that time.

Further, according to WND's archive of birther stories, Corsi's employer did not publish its first story questioning Obama's birth until June 10, 2008 -- more than three months after the FactCheck article on McCain. Corsi's complaint here is a disingenous one.

A "exhibit" selectively edited to skew the facts is no exhibit at all -- it just shows how Corsi is trying to stack the case against Obama.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:29 AM EDT
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Farah Dubiously Boasts WND's Audience Is Richer, Smarter Than CNN's
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Joseph Farah has made something of a habit of claiming that WorldNetDaily is bigger than MSNBC -- a claim for which the available evidence shows the exact opposite -- so it's not surprising that he would make other baselessly grandiose claims about WND as well.

Farah does exactly that in his June 3 column, in which he, in his usual thin-skinned way, takes umbrage at a Yahoo Answers commenter who claimed that Farah is begging for money from his readers to fund a lawsuit against Esquire magazine over its satire of WND despite the fact that "most of their audience are not wealthy." Farah harrumphs:

But this guy posting on Yahoo Answers suggests the victims, in this case, are threatening, with their requests for help, poor Americans who don't know any better. He assumes, of course, that WND readers are mostly poor – a fact not in evidence. WND's readers rank far above those of CNN, for instance, in both education level and financial assets.

What proof does Farah offer that this is indeed the case? None, of course. Farah has presumably paid for some demographic research on WND that he seems to be citing, but unless he makes that research available to his readers, his claim will ring as hollow as his MSNBC boast.

But hey, when has lack of proof ever stopped Farah from mouthing off before?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 PM EDT
AIM Misleads on Medicare Reform, Among Other Things
Topic: Accuracy in Media

James F. Davis writes in a June 3 Accuracy in Media blog post:

As for Congressman Paul Ryan’s health care plan, it keeps all benefits for those already in Medicare. The Obama misnamed ‘Affordable Health Care Act’ passed last year reduces existing benefits to seniors by over $500 billion according to his own Office of Management and Budget!

In fact, not only did Obama not cut "existing benefits by over $500 billion" -- the savings will come from reducing inefficiencies -- Ryan's Medicare plan keeps the exact same $500 billion funding reduction in Medicare approved in Obama's health care plan.

Davis then falsely claims that "there are fewer adults working in this country (58%) than at any time in our history. ... That means 42% of adult Americans do not have paying jobs!" In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the "Employment-Population Ratio" Davis is apparently referring to was below the 58.4 percent rate recorded last month between January 1948 and October 1977.

Davis also claims that there has been a "57% increase in food prices since Obama was elected." Davis cited no evidence to back up his claim, and we could not find any beyond an article noting that eggs have gone up 57 percent. Unless Davis only eats eggs, his number is probably not accurate.

Davis rather hilariously adds: "Facts are facts. Of course if you are uninterested or too philosophically close minded to be intellectually honest, you will continue to be fooled by catchy slogans and fear based demagoguery." You mean like what you're doing?

Davis, by the way, is a director of AIM. That explains a lot.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:29 AM EDT
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Newsmax Lets Ralph Reed (!) Denounce Political Corruption
Topic: Newsmax

A June 3 Newsmax article by David Patten claims that the John Edwards mistress/love child scandal is "igniting a backlash from tea party and social conservatives who say it’s another example of rampant corruption that is spilling across the Potomac and into America’s heartland."

And who does Newsmax talk to denounce said corruption? Ralph Reed.

That's right -- the very same Ralph Reed who received millions of dollars from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff to mobilize Christian voters against casinos in Mississippi that would compete against casinos operated by Abramoff's clients.

Patten doesn't mention Reed's corrupt past. But he does let Reed pontificate about the corruption of others:

In an exclusive Newsmax interview shortly after the indictments were announced, Reed told Newsmax that the ongoing spate of scandals at the top levels of governance are directly linked to the flood of special-interest money and influence inside the Beltway.

“And frankly, it’s a pox on both parties, it doesn’t matter whether its Republicans or Democrats,” he said. “If government is too big, if it’s out of control, and it’s taking too much of our income, and it’s regulating our lives too much, then people try to influence it and they do so in a corrupt manner.

"What we’re about at the Faith and Freedom Coalition is electing men and women of principle and faith in God and of strong moral beliefs who can get in there and change the system.

“We can’t just put those people in the same system we have,” Reed said. “We have to elect them and appoint them, and then we have to change the system.”

You'd think Reed's experience with being part of the corruption in Washington would be relevant enough for Patten to note.  But as we've detailed, Patten is nothing if not a loyal conservative, and Newsmax has been working to rehabilitate Reed post-Abramoff.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:38 AM EDT
Friday, June 3, 2011
Corsi Baselessly Blames Birth Certificate for WH Counsel Switching Jobs
Topic: WorldNetDaily
In a June 2 WND article, Jerome Corsi pretends to read the mind of Bob Bauer, who is leaving as White House counsel to work for Obama's re-election campaign. Without a shred of evidence for support, Corsi claims that Bauer's change of jobs is "the result of his participation in the release of Barack Obama's "Certificate of Live Birth," which he fears would not stand up to the scrutiny of any serious investigation by the FBI, Congress or the media":

Corsi believes Bauer "felt compelled" to resign because of the growing substance to worries that the eligibility issue will blow up into a full-scale investigation.

"Bauer sent Perkins and Coie attorneys to Honolulu to pick up from the Hawaii Department of Health what he believed would be two certified copies of Obama's 1961 long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate," Corsi said.

"When the White House released to the public the birth certificate in the form of a PDF computer file obviously created on Adobe software and a Xerox copy, Bauer realized the Hawaii DOH had participated in the fraud," Corsi charged.

Of course, if there was actual "growing substance" to Corsi's claim that the birth certificate was forged, he wouldn't be pulling stupid stunts like claiming that an OCR scan of the certificate reveals secret "hidden text."

Nevertheless, Corsi has worked up an elaborate conspiracy theory about all of this:

Corsi said he believes the scenario developed this way:

Obama and Valerie Jarrett wanted to continue the stonewalling strategy they had used since 2008, relying on the short-form Certification of Live Birth and having Hawaii DOH claim that long-form birth certificate copies were no longer available, not even to Obama.

Obama and Jarrett had planned to use the forged birth certificate as an October surprise, just prior to the November 2012 election, if the pressure on Obama's eligibility remained an obstacle to his reelection.

But this strategy was overruled by White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley. He determined that a birth certificate, if it existed, had to be released now – to prevent the issue from gaining momentum.

"I believe both Daley and Bauer believed until recently that Obama was telling the truth and that the birth certificate was really there in the Hawaii DOH," Corsi said. "But when they realized that the last-modified date stamp on the computer file of the Obama birth certificate – put up on the White House website on April 27 – was that very same morning, it contradicted the idea the file was an earlier scan of the original Obama birth certificate in the Hawaii vault log book. What modifications to the file were being made at the White House? Was the file originally created at the White House? Why wasn't the file made and closed in Hawaii where the scan of the original document was supposedly made? Bauer realized the White House was lying to say a scan of the original document was being released."

Corsi said he's convinced that now top White House operatives such as Daley and Bauer believe there is no document in the Hawaii Department of Health that can withstand forensic analysis.

Not much of what Corsi has said about the certificate stands up to analysis either -- for instance, his embrace of the dubious claims of Doug Vogt.

By the way, Corsi promised us three articles forwarding Vogt's questionable analysis, but we've only seen one, and that was several days ago. What's up with that?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, June 4, 2011 12:01 PM EDT
WND Smears Obama Aide As 'Goebbels-Like'
Topic: WorldNetDaily

It's old hat for WorldNetDaily's Obama Derangement Syndrome to go Godwin, liken President Obama to Hitler and other Nazis (not to mention the Antichrist), so it's sadly unsurprising for WND to hurl that same smear at Obama's aides.

In her May 30 column, Andrea Shea King slimes Obama staffer Jesse Lee as "Goebbels-like":

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen! What you're about to read will shock you. The Obama administration doesn't like negative things being written about it on the Internet. So "O" and his thugocrats are doing something about it. They've created yet another czar position, this one intended to "rapidly respond" to any unfavorable stories. First Amendment, meet Pravda.

How will the new "director of progressive media & online response" accomplish this? In Goebbels-like fashion, by reaching out to the progressive media with one hand and with the other, grabbing anti-administration "violators" by their throats, figuratively speaking. The White House is "going aggressive" in the online world, gearing up for the months leading up to the 2012 election.

Apparently, King thinks the White House is not allowed to respond to its critics.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:34 PM EDT
Gainor's Disclaimer Didn't Disclaim Enough
Topic: Media Research Center

The final installment of Dan Gainor's intellectually dishonest series on George Soros alleged influence in the media focuses on how a "George Soros-funded 'echo chamber'" is perpetrating a "war" on Fox News. Gainor concludes it with this disclaimer:

Disclaimer: This writer has been on Fox News numerous times and writes a column that often runs on He has never received any compensation from Fox.

That would seem to undercut Gainor's attack, whether or not Fox has ever compensated him. But his disclaimer isn't nearly long enough. He doesn't mention that his boss, Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell, conducts reguiar weekly segments on the MRC's brand of so-called media bias on two Fox News shows, "Hannity" (Thursday) and "Fox & Friends" (Friday). Bozell appears solo in those segments, and no opposing view is allowed.

Further, the MRC is a reliable defender of Fox News, and its NewsBusters blog links to Johnny Dollar's Place, a right-wing blog whose main mission is to serve as a Fox News apologist.

Gainor's disclaimer was a good start, but it didn't come close to fully explaining the relationship between his employer and Fox News.

(And now, for my own disclaimer: I'm employed by Media Matters, one of the organizations Gainor cites in his article, but Media Matters has no editorial control over ConWebWatch.)

Posted by Terry K. at 12:02 PM EDT
Fact-Challenged Corsi, O'Leary Team Up for Obama-Hating Book
Topic: WorldNetDaily

If there was anyone who believed Jerome Corsi was acting out of anything but hatred of President Obama when he wrote his dubious birther book, those illusions should be completely dismantled by Corsi's newest work.

Yes, less than two weeks after "Where's the Birth Certificate" was released, WorldNetDaily is publishing another book by Corsi: "How Obama Can Be Defeated in 2012: A Battle Plan Based on Political Statistical Realities," co-authored with Brad O'Leary.

WND is even promoting it as "a kind of sequel to" Corsi's birther book, and it quotes Corsi as saying, "This may be the last best hope for ensuring Obama is not back in Washington in 2013," so they're not even bothering to keep up any pretense that Corsi doesn't have an biased anti-Obama agenda.

The book supposedly contains "the most extensive polling of likely voters conducted by anyone," which supposedly proves that "Obama is very beatable in 2012 – if Republican candidates and strategists follow some simple cues":

Polling for this mammoth research project was commissioned by "The O'Leary Report" and conducted by IBOPE Zogby International. It surveyed 10,000 likely voters – a massive sample size that you simply will not find in other polls due the high cost and sophistication required to pull it off. In contrast, your typical New York Times poll, which serves as fodder for daily talk shows and opinion columnists, has a sample size of fewer than 1,000 people and frequently surveys adults as opposed to "likely voters."

As we've detailed, however, Zogby has a lengthy history of inaccurate polling, and the Zogby polling O'Leary has previously paid for is filled with slanted questions and misleading premises designed to provide the results he's paying Zogby to produce. There's no reason not to think this polling is any different.

WND's suggestion that O'Leary spent a large amount of money to obtain a sample size of 10,000 for his presumably skewed questions is likely not true. As Zogby itself states:

Zogby has amassed a database of respondents that numbers in the hundreds of thousands and is growing by the day. These people have agreed to take online surveys from time to time, for no compensation whatsoever. They never know when they will be invited to take a survey, nor do they know the subject. This database is constantly expanding, and Zogby technicians are constantly cleaning the database of obsolete entries and updating data points on respondents.

When a survey is initiated, a random sample is drawn from this pool of potential respondents, and Zogby sends them an invitation to participate in a survey via email, which includes a link that will take them to the survey on Zogby's own secure servers. The link expires after one use, which is just one of many security measures Zogby has in place to guarantee the veracity of the polling methodology.

One can probably assume that Zogby's method of gathering a database of "hundreds of thousands" predisposed to answer polling (as opposed to the time-honored method of a random sample from a cross-section) does not generate costs exponentially more than a typical sample size. And as analyst Nate Silver points out, Zogby's online method has generated results more inaccurate than even other interactive online polling.

Given that neither Corsi nor O'Leary are known for their scrupulous factual accuracy, this joint effort is probably twice as inaccurate than either man working separately.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:33 AM EDT
Detecting A Theme
Topic: Newsmax

The following Newsmax headlines were taken from stories and columns appearing on the front page on June 2:

Obama Dragging Economy Toward a Great Depression

Obama's Policies Causing the Economy to Sink

Norquist: Obama Taking Country 'Right Off' Financial Cliff

Economic Downturn Could Doom Obama Re-election Hopes

Public’s Fear of Economic Meltdown Could Propel Romney Into White House

And Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy: The Great Meltdown

Anyone detect a theme here?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:22 AM EDT
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Les Kinsolving Whining Watch
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The whining continues in a May 31 WorldNetDaily article complaining that White House press secretary Jay Carney didn't answer a question that WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving didn't ask, once again dishonestly framing it by baselessly suggesting Carney knew what Kinsolving's question was.

The article notes that "A second question prepared by Kinsolving involved an evaluation of Carney's performance by former White House correspondents."  Yeah, displaying utter contempt for the press secretary is an excellent way to get him to call on you, Lester.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:00 PM EDT
Corsi's 'Expert' Birth Certificate Complaint Is Demolished
Topic: WorldNetDaily

This week, Jerome Corsi promised a three-part WorldNetDaily series on a claim by "international expert on scanners and document-imaging software" Doug Vogt that "the long-form birth certificate released by the White House is criminally fraudulent" in the form of a 22-page document Vogt claims to have filed with the FBI.

Obama Conspiracy, meanwhile, pretty much demolishes Vogt's assertions, not to mention his claimed credentials.

Don't look for Corsi to write about that, since telling the truth isn't part of his agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:39 PM EDT

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