Bob Unruh dutifully regurgitates right-wing attacks on Michelle Obama in his Oct. 4 WorldNetDaily article highlighting Judicial Watch's claim that a "family safari" to Africa was a waste of taxpayer money. Unruh uncritically repeats Judicial Watch'as attack while making no apparent effort to obtain any other side of the story that disagrees with WND's anti-Obama agenda -- a dereliction of journalism we're all too familiar with from Unruh.
But as Media Matters points out, then-first lady Laura Bush went on a similar "family safari" to Africa in 2005 with her adult twin daughters to no apparent criticism from Judicial Watch (nor from WND). Judicial Watch also baselessly classifies Obama's visit to Nelson Mandela as "tourism" even though he's a former head of state.
Unruh makes a point of claiming that, according to Judicial Watch, "the costs of the military airplane used for the trip were in the range of $425,000." In fact, according to ABC, a senior White House official called the figure "misconstrued and out of context." ABC also debunks another Judicial Watch claim dutifully repeated by Unruh, that Malia and Sasha Obama were listed as "senior staff" on the trip -- that was a designation of the section of the plane where they sat, not of the people who sat there. Neither Unruh nor Judicial Watch explain why they think it would be better for you children to sit away from their mother.
When you uncritically repeat some activist's outlandish claims like Unruh does, you tend to overlook such things.
But that's just the beginning of Unruh's perfidy here. He goes on to reference how "The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom touted the $10 million in public money Michelle Obama has spent on her 'vacations'":
"Branding her 'disgusting' and 'a vacation junkie,' [reports] say the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been indulging in five-star hotels, where she splashes out on expensive massages and alcohol," the London paper said.
The report said Michelle Obama is believed to have taken 42 days of vacation in the last year, including a respite in Spain that cost $375,000 and a $2,000-a-night ski trip to Vail, Colo.
But the Daily Mail report in question takes its information from the National Enquirer, which in turn cites no verifiable sources. Anonymous, unverifiable sourcing may be a staple of supermarket tabloids and shady British newspapers (not to mention WND), but it's hardly sound journalism.
Unruh even tosses in some long-discredited claims about Nancy Pelosi, claiming that Judicial Watch found that "taxpayers spent $101,000 for in-flight food and alcohol for her during that time period." In fact, the money was not spent "for her"; the money covered congressional delegations arranged through Pelosi's office, some of which included Republican members of Congress.
Back in June, we reminded people that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is a WorldNetDaily columnist -- where he continues to publish column even after announcing his presidential bid, in contrast with other media outlets who suspended the candidates they employed while they embarked on their campaigns.
Now, Yahoo News' Chris Moody has caught on with a Oct. 5 article highlighting Cain's WND work and WND's birther-obsessed leanings.
Moody catches WND in a minor fabrication, one that forced him to issue a correction. WND advertises Cain's work as "exclusive commentary" when, in fact, they are obtained from a syndicator and thus not "exclusive."
UPDATE: Joseph Farah simply couldn't help but respond to the Yahoo article in his Oct. 7 column. He took exception to Yahoo's description of WND as "the online hub for people who believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States," responding, "Actually, the question of where Obama was born is of little concern to me and most people who read WND." That, of course, is a complete lie.
Joseph Farah is apparently still angry with Wired's Spencer Ackerman for pointing out how a rabidly anti-Muslim self-proclaimed counterterrorism "expert" is linked to WorldNetDaily.
Last month, Wired's Spencer Ackerman highlighted how William Gawthrop -- whose Muslim-bashing WND promoted in 2006 -- was hired by the FBI to provide training for agents; among the things he taught is that the more devout a Muslim is, the more likely he is to be violent.
As he did when the story first broke, Farah goes all ad hominem on Ackerman again in his Oct. 4 WND column:
National Public Radio and the New York Times recently jumped all over the FBI for allowing its agents to be briefed by experts in Islamic terrorism who weren't properly vetted - meaning they weren't selected by Muslim Brotherhood front groups like CAIR. Both of the reports were derivative of and made reference to an article in Wired.com prepared by Spencer Ackerman, famous not so much for what he has published but what he wrote that he never intended to be published. At the time, working for the George Soros-backed Washington Independent, he famously called upon his colleagues to deflect attention from Barack Obama's relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright by changing the subject. When anyone criticized Obama, they needed to be labeled as "racist," he explained. Even more telling was this Ackerman statement: "Find a right winger's (sic) and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mass and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a constant state of fear." Ackerman is not exactly a seeker of the truth - and that's exactly what the experts he attacked were trying to share with FBI agents.
As before, at no point does Farah disprove anything Ackerman wrote. Further, he deliberately misrepresents the nature of the criticism of the so-called experts. Unlike last time, though, Farah did provide a link to Ackerman's article.
MRC Has No Factual Basis On Which To Declare Chavez 'The Networks' Favorite Dictator' Topic: Media Research Center
A Sept. 30 MRC Culture & Media Institute article by Paul Wilson carries the headline "Hugo Chavez: The Networks' Favorite Dictator." Having made such a declarative, precise statement, surely Wilson must have mounds of emperical evidence to back up his claim, right?
Well, if you are familiar with the MRC's lengthy history of shoddy research, you will not be surprised to find that the answer is no. This is the extent of "research" Wilson has done:
Out of 21 stories on Chavez over the last two years (from Sept 29, 2009 to Sept 29, 2011), precisely 3 of them mentioned Venezuela's strained relations with the United States. Only one of them mentioned human rights abuses in Venezuela.
Two of those stories tended towards trivial and unimportant matters.
That's it. No examination of comparative coverage of other dictators to determine which one was the media's "favorite." And as per usual, Wilson's examination is limited only to the three broadcast networks. There's no mention of Fox News at all; if Wilson had bothered to do anything approaching comprehensive research, he would have found that Fox at one time had its own favorite dictator, the Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo.
Wilson also referenced how "The MRC analyzed media coverage of Chavez from 1998 to 2006" -- curiously linking not to the report but a Fox News article about Chavez that doesn't mention the MRC -- which "found that the networks ignored or whitewashed his radical brand of politics completely, refused to cover his threats against the United States, and positively covered his political stunt of giving oil to the American poor."
Complaining that "the media" (that is, the TV networks) did report on Chavez's "radical brand of politics" in 1998 is disingenuous because he was not as autocratic in 1998 as he is now. Upon taking office, Chavez did introduce some populist democratic reforms in Venezuela.
(We couldn't find a live version of the report on Chavez on the MRC's website; it's referenced near the end of this article by the MRC's Business & Media Institute, but the link no longer works.)
Wilson concludes by asking, "Will the networks acknowledge Hugo Chavez as an anti-American dictator, or will they ignore his anti-American ways once again? A more relevant question to ask would be whether the MRC will ever be able to tell the difference between genuine research and political hack work.
No, Aaron Klein, Obama Did Not March With New Black Panthers Topic: WorldNetDaily
Aaron Klein -- who is desperate to hype anything even remotely negative about President Obama and his administration -- predictably pounced on the latest negative attack on the president, declaring in an Oct. 3 WND article that "Newly resurfaced photographs show President Obama appearing and marching with members of the New Black Panther Party as he campaigned for president in Selma, Ala., in March 2007," going on to assert that "the photos present new evidence of a possible relationship between Obama and the controversial black extremist group."
Klein is engaging in wishful thinking. The reality -- something that Klein will never report about Obama -- is that the event in question was the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 civil rights march on Selma, which was attended by thousands. Klein offers no evidence whatsoever that Obama interacted with anyone from the NBPP, nor did he mention that among the other attendees was civil rights pioneer Fred Shuttlesworth, whom Obama actually was pictured with (unlike with the misleadingly cropped picture accompanying Klein's article).
Klein also touted how the photos are "reportedly featured in a book set to be released tomorrow by J. Christian Adams, the Department of Justice whistleblower in the New Black Panther Party, or NBPP, voter intimidation case." Klein doesn't mention that Adams has been utterly discredited.
This is what happens when a reporter's ideology comes before telling the truth.
Newsmax's Kessler: Don't Believe Suskind's Obama-Bashing Book Topic: Newsmax
Unlike the Media Research Center, which flip-flops on the veracity of author Ron Suskind depending upon the party of the president he's writing about, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler maintains a little intellectual consistency. From Kessler's Sept. 26 Newsmax column, headlined "Don't Trust Suskind's New Obama Book":
When reputable publishers bring out books with sensational revelations, it’s hard for the public to discern which books are credible and which mix fact with fiction.
Here’s a handy guide: You can bank on what Bob Woodward says in his books. Ron Suskind's new book, “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,” is being repudiated by key Obama administration people he interviewed.
Kessler goes on to receite some of the same criticisms the MRC did about Suskind's books on the Bush administration, then points out criticism from "Obama administration officials who say they never told Suskind what he attributed to them.
Kessler closes with an unflattering comparison:
In that respect, Suskind mimics author Kitty Kelley. Like Suskind, Kelley engages in prodigious research and interviews primary sources. But then she adds a novelistic touch. In her book “The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty,” Kelley claimed that Laura Bush was “known in her college days [at Southern Methodist University] as a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana.”
“If she was the go-to, I missed that,” Pamela Nelson, her Theta Kappa Alpha sister at SMU, told me for my book “Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady.” “I was there. She was the go-to for a lot of things that were uplifting.”
Kelley attributed the claim to Robert Nash, identified as an Austin public relations executive who was a friend of “many” in Laura’s SMU class. Tracked down by Alan Murray of The Wall Street Journal, Nash said that he did not know any of Laura’s SMU classmates. He said he merely told Kelley he had heard a rumor about Laura selling dope.
Kelley went on to claim that after Laura and George Bush married, they would visit Jane Purucker Clarke, one of Laura’s sorority sisters, and her boyfriend Sanford “Sandy” Koufax, the former baseball star, on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and attend “heavy pot-smoking parties.” But Jane Clarke had not met Koufax at the time and was married to John Clem Clarke, the artist.
“The Kitty Kelley story is a lie,” Jane Clarke said.
If Ron Suskind emulates Kitty Kelley, he also fails as a novelist. Good novels are believable.
Ouch. It many be mean, but it's also intellectually consistent. Too bad the MRC is much more interested in following the prevailing winds of partisan politics than exhibiting any intellectual honesty.
NEW ARTICLE: Biting The Hand It Feeds Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com pays the Associated Press for the privilege of running AP articles on its website -- while it lambasts the AP as "liberal" and rewrites its headlines to add right-wing bias. Read more >>
NewsBusters' Double Standard on 'Drive-By' Rhetoric Topic: NewsBusters
In an Oct. 2 NewsBusters post, Mark Finkelstein is verklempt that former car czar Steve Rattner claimed that Ron Suskind's book critical of the Obama administration "amounts to a drive-by shooting of a president." Offering no evidence that the Obama White House sanctioned Rattner's criticism, Finkelstein blamed Obama for it anyway: "Amazing to see President Hope-and-Change descend to this level of politics. With the economy in tatters and the inspirational shtick abandoned in favor of smear and attack rhetoric, what does Barack Obama have left to run on?"
Finknelstein followed up the next day similarly verklempt that Rattner wouldn't take it back, again grousing that his words "hardly seemed in the spirit of President Obama's pious call, in his much-touted Tucson memorial speech, for people to speak in a way "that heals, not wounds."
Unmentioned by Finkelstein: The biggest conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh, has been using the very same rhetoric for years -- indeed, he takes pride in having coined the phrase "drive-by media." And his employer, the Media Research Center, doesn't discourage it:
NewsBusters bashed "the drive-by media that previously downplayed Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos."
Limbaugh used the term "drive-by media" during the MRC's 20th anniversary gala in 2007, and nobody criticized him.
Additionally, the 2007 MRC annual awards included the category "Drive By Media Award for Shooting at the Competition."
In a report on how Limbaugh is purportedly maligned in the media, the MRC approvingly quoted Limbaugh saying, "I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: ‘Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.’ Somebody’s gotta say it."
Brent Baker approvingly highlighted "Limbaugh's slam at the drive-by media."
And, hey, look: An October 2007 NewsBusters post by Finkelstein carries the headline "Rush on 'Morning Joe': Drive-By Media Suppress Good Economic News." At no point did Finkelstein get all verklempt about Limbaugh using the term.
Oops! And we haven't even gotten to Finkelstein advancing the intellectual dishonesty of the MRC's flip-flop on Ron Suskind.
Newsmax's Ponte: Christie's Weight Is a Metaphor Topic: Newsmax
The award for best right-wing spin on Chris Christie's weight goes to Newsmax's Lowell Ponte, who declares in an Oct. 3 column that Christie's fat functions as a metaphor:
President Chris Christie as a role model could help restore health to our body politic by reminding us daily that gluttonous government is obese and must be put on a strict diet to reduce its unhealthy size.
The folks at the Media Research Center are getting obsessed with how foreigners dislike President Obama.
Last month, it was Noel Sheppard touting the anti-Obama views of some random Canadian. Now, Tim Graham spends a Sept. 30 NewsBusters post telling us what more Canadians think, more than happy to promote a piece with a "striking first sentence" of “Two and a half years into Barack Obama’s presidency, Obamamania has given way to Obamamisery.”
This is funny, because a in a July 19 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker dismisses the opinion of someone who wrote an "effusive, to put it mildly, love letter to Barack Obama" because he is a "Canadian writer." And in an Aug. 15 post, Graham made sure to inform us that a Huffington Post blogger who called NPR neutral was Canadian and that a journalist the blogger quoted was also Canadian.
Apparently, the only time the MRC wants to hear from Canadians is when they're bashing Democrats.
Terry Jeffrey, it seems, cares much more about trying to destroy President Obama than he does about telling the truth.
In his latest example of doing so, he writes in an Oct. 3 article:
First Lady Michelle Obama said at a fundraiser in Providence, Rhode Island, on Friday night that a bank where Barack Obama’s grandmother had worked discriminated against her for nearly two decades “because she was a woman.”
However, the Washington Post reported earlier this year that Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, had been the first female vice president of the Bank of Hawaii.
Meanwhile, Barack and Michelle Obamas’ 2009 tax return, posted on the White House website, indicates the Obamas inherited almost $500,000 worth of the bank’s stock from the president’s grandmother.
What does one have to do with the other? Jeffrey never explains. After all, tge fact that Madelyn Dunham ultimately rose to the bank's management and was eventually paid well does not in any way disprove Michelle Obama's statement that Dunham was discriminated against. Indeed, given that sex discrimination was rampant around the time that Dunham was beginning her banking career, Obama's statement has the ring of truth.
In case Jeffrey's slyly accusatory writing wasn't obvious enough, his overly long headline drove his bogus accusation home: "Michelle: Bank Sex-Discriminated Against Barack’s Grandmom; Tax Returns: Barack Inherited $480,908 in Bank's Stock from Bank's VP (His Grandmom)."
Apparently, Jeffrey no longer cares about being a journalist and is devoting his time to being an Obama-hating hack. Anything for a Drudge link, eh?
Hank Williams Jr. got some attention this week for claiming that John Boehner playing golf with President Obama was like "Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu." As ESPN dropped Williams' theme song from "Monday Night Football" in response, Williams rushed to apologize.
Of course, going Godwin on Obama is old hat for WorldNetDaily. We've detailed numerousinstances of WND columnists repeatedly sliming Obama by likening him to Hitler and other Nazis. Needless to say, Joseph Farah never punished his writers for making the comparison -- if anything, he gave them bonuses.
Not only is that WND's stock in trade, it defended the practice. A Dec. 3, 2009, WND column by Jerry Kane begins by claiming, "Critics who denounce and slander their colleagues for comparing Barack Obama's meteoric rise to power with that of Hitler's are out of ideas or have too much time on their hands." Kane then defends likening Obama to Hitler: "The cult of personality and hysteria for a charismatic orator are frightening parallels between Obama and Hitler. Like Hitler, Obama too is a phenomenal political figure, extraordinary in American politics. No American politician has made such an impression on Americans. He receives excessive admiration and adoration from his admirers reminiscent of hero worship but with a messianic twist." Kane then plays with words by insisting, "Commentators do not say Obama is Hitler, but they do suggest that a dictator can rise in America and bring about a totalitarian state." Kane ignores the fact that those making the comparison -- like the website that published him -- are doing so for denigration purposes, with the intent to undermine his presidency.
Don't expect Williams' punishment to have any chilling effect on WND. Expect quite the opposite -- they'll whine about freedom of speech and ramp up the Obama-Hitler comparisons even more.
WND's Klein Repeats Bogus Guilt-By-Association Attack on Obama Official Topic: WorldNetDaily
Last week, we noted that WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein had written an article attacking Obama administration official Jonathan Greenblatt for his ties to the Aspen Institute, which he claims "works closely with" George Soros. Klein failed to note that Aspen's board includes right-wing billionaire David Koch.
Klein returns in an Oct. 1 WND article to hurl more guilt-by-assocation attacks against Greenblatt. He repeats his accusation that the Aspen Institute "works closely with Soros and even was reportedly used by the billionaire in a failed attempt to engineer the defeat of President Bush in the 2004 elections." Again, he fails to mention that Koch is on Aspen's board.
At this point, we know enough about Klein to know that such an omission is anything but accidential -- if it runs counter to his anti-Obama agenda, he will ignore it.
After curiously skipping August's body count (though making sure to play politics with that month's devastating crash killing 31 Marines), Edwin Mora returns to his monthly attempts to hang the deaths of U.S. troops in Afghanistan around the neck of President Obama. The headline of Mora's Oct. 3 article: "U.S. War Dead in Afghanistan Have Tripled in Less Than 3 Years Under Obama."
As per usual, the word "Iraq" doesn't appear in Mora's article, meaning that Mora has failed yet again to explain that the casualty rate in Iraq at the height of that war is more than double that of the current casualty rate in Afghanistan.