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Friday, September 4, 2015
CNS Editor Endorses Violating The Rule Of Law

Terry Jeffrey's Sept. 2 column carries a headline in the form of an extremely dumb question? "Can a Christian Be a County Clerk in America?"

To any reasonable person, the answer to that is an unqualified yes -- in fact, we can probably take it as a given that the vast majority of county clerks in America are Christian.

But the actual issue here is whether a self-proclaimed Christian in public office has the right to deny public services based on her personal religious beliefs. And Jeffrey has apparently decided that only a Christian who denies the existence of gay rights, or gays period, is the only true Christian, and everyone else is not a real Christian at all.

Which, of course, means that Jeffrey is defending Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis for denying a marriage license for a same-sex marriage, even though it is legal across the country.Jeffrey presents Davis as "a devout Christian, with a moral problem," making sure not to mention the fact that she has been married four times. (Davis' lawyers claim her past doesn't matter.)

Jeffrey whines: "The crusade against Davis aims to establish that if you are a Christian, who believes in Christ's teachings on marriage and will not act against them, you are no longer qualified to serve as a county clerk in the United States."

Jeffrey ignores the fact that Davis' personal preferences are denying the civil rights of others, not to mention violating the rule of law -- something that conservatives normally oppose. Indeed, anti-gay conservatives like Jeffrey have not been rushing to defend Davis:

  • Anti-gay activist Maggie Gallagher states, “There is no way to maintain the rule of law if public officials can ignore direct court orders.”
  • Ryan Anderson, who just wrote a book on "the future of marriage and religious liberty," admits: "The citizens of Rowan County have a right to receive in a timely and efficient manner the various government provisions—including licenses—to which they are entitled. ... Saying your religion requires your entire office to stop issuing marriage licenses to everyone, while perhaps a sincere belief, cannot be reasonably accommodated without placing undue hardships on the citizens unable to receive their licenses in their county and forced to drive to another."

Jeffrey also has a rigidly dogmatic view of Christianity, one that many other Christian denominations do not share. Most Christian denominations do not teach their believers to deny gays civil rights that have been granted by the state. nor do they demand that parishoners who hold public office use that office to enforce church policy.

Thus, Jeffrey's defense of Davis breaks down because it's extremely situational. It doesn't apply to anyone who doesn't share his personal beliefs -- that is, anyone not as rigidly dogmatic, Christian, or anti-gay as he and Davis are. We suspect that a person in public office who was not a dogmatic Christian -- say, a Muslim -- who was using the office to forward his religious views would get quite a different reaction from Jeffrey.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:45 AM EDT
Thursday, September 3, 2015
The ConWeb's 'Porn Addiction' Defense for Josh Duggar
Topic: The ConWeb

The ConWeb is seeking to absolve Josh Duggar of responsibility for his actions -- which include molesting his sisters and having an account at the affair-facilitating Ashley Madison website -- by promoting the right-wing idea that pornography is addictive, which is what Duggar himself blamed his behavior on (until he didn't).

In an Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily article, Greg Corombos interviews professional gay-basher Matt Barber, who gets space to blame Duggar's woes on porn, declaring it "a gateway drug that leads people to act on their fantasies." and insisting that the mere act of viewing pornography is adultery.

Because Barber is also an Obama-basher, he drags politics into the issue, lamenting that "The problem in this Obama administration is there is no one at the Department of Justice who has any interest in going after obscene material and going after these pornographers and so forth."

Meanwhile, an Aug. 27 article by Penny Starr claimed that "Addiction to pornography affects millions of men and women in the United States, and many of those people identify themselves as Christians, according to a 2014 survey produced by a Christian organization dedicated to fighting pornography and sexual addiction." But the survey never defines, medical-wise or otherwise, what it means by "addiction" (other than a question to respondents if they thought they were addicted to pornography "based on your understanding of an 'addiction'") and seems to suggest that its definition of an "addict" is someone who views pornography as infrequently as once a month.

Starr's article doesn't mention Duggar, but it's clear that the article was written in response to Duggar's situation, to which CNS has devoted no original coverage.

Meanwhile, actual experts in the field generally dismiss the idea that pornography can be an "addiction," at least as we understand how addictions work. The Huffington Post reports:

A large study from neuroscientists at UCLA found that when people are shown erotic images, the brain's normal addiction reactions are reversed.

In the brain, porn "addiction" looks the opposite of addictions like cocaine, smoking cigarettes and gambling -- and therefore should be treated with different therapies.

Typically, addicts show increased brain reactions to the object of addiction. However, the new findings, which were published this week in the journal Biological Psychology, showed that people who struggled with excessive pornography consumption had decreased brain reactions when viewing porn.


So if porn functions differently from other addictions, as the findings suggest, it would be logical for them to be treated differently.

"Some people clearly struggle to regulate their porn viewing habits, but it is important to know why," Dr. Nicole Prause, a neuroscientist at the university and the study's lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email. "Calling it an 'addiction' may be harming patients, so we should require healthcare workers to provide treatments supported by research."

What, actual research on the subject? The ConWeb won't cotton to that.

But articles avoid the idea that Duggar may not actually be "addicted" to porn after all, despite what he sorta claims. As Bill Maher suggested, maybe he's "just horny" and isn't "cut out to be married."

The ConWeb won't buy that either -- not as long as it needs to get prominent Christians off the hook for their sex-fueled behavior  by blaming it on a mythical "addiction."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:24 PM EDT
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
WND Will Keep Selling Work of Pastor (And Farah Buddy) Imprisoned for Fraud
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Add another shelf-length entry to WorldNetDaily's fraud-laden bookstore.

In an Aug. 19 WND article, Leo Hohmann reports on Jim Staley, "a Bible teacher and pastor with an international ministry pleaded guilty to 11 counts of financial wire fraud earlier this year and was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in federal prison." Here's Hohmann's account of Staley's crime:

He got into trouble in 2007 while working as a financial adviser, more than three years before he became a full-time pastor. He began selling a life-insurance product that he says he was told was fully insured against loss. It was not. When the market crashed in 2008, the investment was wiped out. And along with it went more than $3.3 million from investors who bought the product through Staley.

This is followed a couple paragraphs later by a statement from the FBI, which pretty much contradicts Hohmann's light-touch telling. It points out that Staley "was well aware that if B & B [Equity, the company for which Staley worked] was unable to secure a buyer for the bundled insurance policies that his clients would lose all their monies invested in the Premium Financing product sold by B & B."

Hohmann also hides the fact that while Staley may not have been a "full-time minister" at the time he sold those life-insurance products, he was trading on his Christian credentials to sell them. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that according to a U.S. attorney on the case, Staley's victims were elderly, and some invested because he was a “nice religious man” who referred to at least several by endearing terms such as “Grandma.”

Hohmann is also silent on Staley's financial problems, which raised red flags among some former supporters. His home was foreclosed on, the Post-Dispatch reported, and he admitted refusing to pay income taxes for years. At the time of his indictement, Staley and his family lived in a 5,000-square-foot, $1 million home he claimed to be renting from a former pro baseball player.

Hohmann never reports that Staley has accepted responsibility for his crimes --  that's because he hasn't. The Post-Dispatch reports that Staley continued to deny responsibility even after entering his guilty plea, and he has repaid just $1,950 -- a tiny fraction of the $3.3 million in restitution he owes to victims -- despite an annual church compensation of $127,000.

But here's where it gets real interesting. Hohmann notes that Staley "taught the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith and has many of his teaching DVDs and books for sale in the WND Superstore." Later in his article, he adds:

Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND, said the company will continue to sell Staley’s teaching videos and books.

“Jim Staley is one of the most gifted Bible teachers I know,” he said. “It’s unfortunate he is being punished for something that took place a long time ago, long before he entered the ministry – charges for which he was previously investigated and cleared by state authorities. I pray Jim comes through this and will be able to hold his family together in this time of great challenge.”

So it seems that Hohmann's whitewashing of Staley's crimes comes straight from his boss (who never explains where and how Staley was "cleared by state authorities"). And why not? Staley and Farah are apparently buddies.

Staley interviewed "my good friend" Farah in a 2011 video, where Farah effusively endorses Staley's ministry and "Sabbath-keeping" teaching: "I believe the Holy Spirit is working through Jim Staley, Passion for Truth Ministries and is doing something across the body of Christ right now in a very real and tangible way." Farah praises the"non-offensive, non-confrontational" way Staley teaches, a way "right out of the Bible that makes it very hard to refute."Farah also touted Staley's "vision for really expanding the audience" and declared that "we need to do everything we can to promote, to prosper Passion for Truth Ministries," and that "it's time to open up the checkbook and let our checkbooks do our thank-yous and our feedback because we're all part of the Passion for Truth Ministries family right now."

Farah went on to pledge WND's resources to "do everything we can to promote your ministry, to promote your events gratis," telling Staley: "I do consider you to be my pastor now because I don't have a local congregation that sees the truth like we do."

So of course Farah wouldn't admit Staley's fraud -- he's too personally invested in Staley to see the truth.

Meanwhile, Staley's videos remain on sale at WND -- another fraudster on WND's bookshelf.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:53 PM EDT
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
How WND Made A Religious Debate -- And A Teacher's Life -- Worse
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Salon excerpts a book by Linda Wertheimer abou teaching religion in a age of tolerance, focusing on an incident in which a teacher in a small Texas school district tried to teach children about Islam and the Middle East, in part, by bringing in a burqa and letting children try it on. The teacher also asked her students to look at examples of political violence around the world and decide if the agitators were freedom fighters or terrorists, in order to demonstrate that perceptions can change from person to person. The teacher had conducted the lesson for years without incident -- until WorldNetDaily found out about it:

The first story broke on a conservative blog, WorldNetDaily, on February 24, 2013. Headlined “Students Made to Wear Burqas—in Texas,” the story linked the burka lesson to a Texas online curriculum that conservatives had attacked for allegedly having a pro-Islam bias. But Peters’s lessons predated the creation of that curriculum, which provides lesson plans to teachers. WorldNetDaily, quoting unnamed students, contended Peters told her students that she was supposed to teach them to refer to Muslims as freedom fighters rather than terrorists. 

Indeed, the WND article by John Griffing contains no named sources, apparently relying on the claims of a single anonymous "student in the class" to back up his claim that students were "made to wear burqas." Griffing made no apparent attempt to contact the school district, further making a mockery of WND editor Joseph Farah's laughable insistence that his reporters "are always encouraged and required to seek out multiple sources and contrary viewpoints in news articles."

Griffing tied the incident (the facts of which he got wrong) to his larger attack on a lesson plan on Islam that was used in Texas schools -- which, as we've documented, was based on a discredited, misinformation-laden chain email.

To our knowledge, WND has never corrected any of the misinformation in Griffing's articles.

Wertheimer reported that as a result of the misinformation spread about the lesson by WND and others, strangers sent e-mails accusing the teacher and the school system of corrupting children and attempting to convert them to Islam. The teacher -- who pointed out there was only one burqa, not several as WND's Griffing suggested -- felt as if her entire 39-year teaching career was under attack and chose to retire at the end of the school year.

WND seems to think it can move blithely, that the misinformation and lies it spreads have no consequences in the real world. But in Texas in 2013, it resulted in unwarranted hate mail and the end of a teacher's career.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:11 PM EDT
MRC's Laughably Anti-Sanger Censorship Crusade of Lies and Out-of-Context Quotes
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's crusade to censor an art exhibit at the Smithsonian by demanding that a bust of Margaret Sanger be forcibly removed from the building -- a crusade MRC has used its "news" division to promote despite the breaches of journalistic ethics this has brought about -- is little more than kneejerk right-wing ranting that relies on lies and out-of-context quotes.

More evidence of this comes in the MRC's email campaign trying to get its followers to endorse its censorship effort. Check out this bit of ranting and egregiously out-of-context quotes the MRC servedup in an Aug. 26 email:

Margaret Sanger was arguably the largest advocate of eugenics in United States history, and her influence lives on in the 700 Planned Parenthood abortion clinics throughout the country -- 79 percent of which are located in predominantly black and Hispanic communities.

Eugenics (the notion and practice of removing “unfit” members of society through selective breeding and sterilization) was Sanger’s largest and most lasting crusade. Here are some of her controversial statements on the matter:

  • “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."
  • “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."
  • “I believe that there should be no more babies.”

The first quote is a favorite for Sanger-haters to take out of context. As we've pointed out, states that that quote belongs in the context of Sanger saying that a minister could debunk the notion, if it arose, that the clinics that were a part of her "Negro Project" bringing birth control to black women in the South aimed to “exterminate the Negro population.” The Washington Post notes that this quote "is frequently taken out of context to suggest Sanger was seeking to exterminate blacks."

The second quote is heavily edited. According to Wikipedia, the full quote is: "Knowledge of birth control is essentially moral. Its general, though prudent, practice must lead to a higher individuality and ultimately to a cleaner race." While the MRC champions individuality,it would rather that be applied to conservative principles and not a woman thinking for herself.

The final quote is ludicrously out of context. It's taken from a 1947 interview in which Sanger was asked about an earlier statement that European women should refrain from having babies for 10 years (this being after a world war that devastated much of Europe). She clarified her answer by saying (the MRC's quote in italics), "Well I suppose a subject like that is really so personal that it is entirely up to the parents to decide, but from my view, I believe there should be no more babies in starving countries for the next ten years."

The MRC's commitment to lying about Sanger starts from the top. In his speech at the tiny pro-censorship rally, MRC chief Brent Bozell -- who also heads ForAmerica, a right-wing group that worked with the right-wing black pastors who are purportedly leading the censorship effort -- said

"Planned Parenthood and others inside this building want to pretend that what we really don't know," said Bozell. We do know. She wrote books, she gave speeches, she wrote letters. She organized organizations like the Negro Project to eradicate blacks, why? Because you weren't quite, human. You were weeds, you were waste. And that couldn't stand in a fixed society. Ladies and gentlemen so did Goebbels. He thought the exact same thing and did the exact same thing through eugenics.”

In fact, there's no evidence Sanger sought to "eradicate blacks" or considered them "weeds" or "waste." As fact-checkers have noted, while Sanger likely held paternalistic attitudes toward blacks that were common during her lifetime, there's no evidence she was an avowed racist or that she coerced black women into using birth control.

And Bozell's eagerness to liken Sanger to Nazis, in addition to being counterfactual -- she was a member of an anti-Nazi committee and claimed her books were burned in Nazi Germany -- it's rather hilarious given the MRC's current outrage over Hillary Clinton making an apparent Nazi allusion about Donald Trump. Apparently, only conservatives are allowed to go Godwin.

The MRC also gave a free past to far-right pastor E.W. Jackson, who lied that Sanger “was a white supremacist” and screeched that “If Margaret Sanger had her way MLK and Rosa Parks would have never been born.” While CNS prominently promoted those statements, it refused to fact-check them because that rally was created by the MRC and ForAmerica for the apparent sole purpose of having CNS cover it as "news," and since it's part of the MRC's propaganda machine, fact-checking a conservative who's spouting the MRC's agenda is not "news" at CNS -- even though Jackson, who claims to be a Christian pastor, is telling demonstrable lies.

But a Christian pastor being caught in a lie is not "news" at CNSNews, just like the right-wing Christian Josh Duggar's peccadilloes were buried as far down as one could do so until we shamed CNS into a little honest coverage.

Again: CNS is simply the MRC's right-wing agenda put into news-article form. Its role as a player in the MRC's Sanger censorship attempt and insistence on presenting lies as truth and refusing to hold the liars accountable is all the evidence one needs of that.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:47 PM EDT
Monday, August 31, 2015
NewsBusters' Dylan Gwinn Whiffs Again
Topic: NewsBusters

Poor Dylan Gwinn. He doesn't seem to know when to give it up.

Gwinn's nasty, uninformed sports-themed blog stylings continue in an Aug. 25 NewsBusters post defending ex-baseball player Curt Schilling's tweet likening Muslims to Nazis, which earned Schilling a suspension from ESPN:

Schilling may understand the reasons for his suspension. Yet, they remain a mystery to me. There is nothing factually inaccurate with the message of the tweet. It in no way compares “Muslims” to Nazis. It compares the number of Muslim “extremists” to the number of German extremists, with the point being that whether you accept the math or not, extremists need not have a numerical majority in any one country or religion in order to take control, and create catastrophic results for the rest of the world.

Which, is absolutely true.

Actually, it's not -- both Schilling and Gwinn got it wrong. As Vox explains:

Muslims are by far the number-one victims of extremist groups such as ISIS: They are the most likely to be killed by ISIS, and they are the most likely to actively fight ISIS. Nazi-era Germans, on the other hand, overwhelmingly supported and fought for the Nazi regime. So in fact the relationship between Nazi-era Germans and Nazi crimes is the exact opposite of the relationship between Muslims and ISIS.

Nevertheless, Gwinn concludes his post by writing, "But of course, truth is always the first casualty." Only in your work, dude.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:16 PM EDT
Deception: CNS Hides MRC's Links To Anti-Sanger Rally It Promoted
Topic: covered the bejeezus out of a tiny rally of "almost two dozen black pastors and leaders of the pro-life movement" demanding that a bust of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger be removed from a Smithsonian exhibit. There was a main article by Penny Starr and Lauretta Brown and five more articles isolating comments by rally speakers.

What's missing from those articles: full disclosure of how much CNS' parent organization and its president contributed to the rally.

The main article identifies rally speaker Brent Bozell only as "chairman of For America." But Starr and Brown failed to mention the important fact that Bozell is also president of CNS' parent, the Media Research Center and is, in fact, at the top of CNS' masthead. (The two articles focused on Bozell's comments do not this, but not until the end of the article.)

Further, none of the six CNS articles mention the fact its parent organization is leading a campaign to get the bust removed.

An Aug. 26 email by the "MRC Action Team" cherry-picked "controversial statements" by Sanger that are ripped out of context, adding:

[A] coalition of black pastors has petitioned the Smithsonian Institute to remove a prominent bust of Sanger from the Congressionally-funded National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. The bust of Sanger appears as part of their “Struggle for Justice” exhibit along with baseball player Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

However, the National Portrait Gallery has refused to comply with this request and continues to memorialize someone who is highly controversial and extremely offensive.

That is why we need your help by calling the Smithsonian Institute directly and asking them to remove this bust!

This was followed by a phone number for the Smithsonian where people can "be sure to let them know that our taxpayer dollars should not be used to honor a woman who wanted to exterminate everyone that she deemed 'unfit'."

The next day, the MRC sent out another email describing how "MRC Action launched a campaign" to remove Sanger's bust, proudly proclaiming that "Over 700 calls poured into the office of the head of The Smithsonian yesterday, prompting them to call and ask that we stop."

That was followed on Aug. 28 by a third email touting more alleged phone calls (it'snever stated how the MRC knows how many people called) and stating, "We cannot stop these calls until the taxpayer-funded bust of Margaret Sanger is removed!" (The MRC offered no evidence that the existence of the Sanger bust is "taxpayer-funded.")

Meanwhile, the Bozell-led For America -- which purports to be a separate organization from the MRC but appears to share the MRC's office address in Reston, Va. -- promoted its role in the rally: "The concerted effort joined ForAmerica with a coalition of black pastors and included a protest in front of the gallery this morning as well as a social media campaign that made “#BustRacism” a trending hashtag."

It looks to us that the MRC and For America, which shares a leader with the MRC, collaborated with the small group of black pastors -- who, as we've noted, appear to already be collaborating with CNS and reporter Penny Starr by uncritically promoting their lie-filled attacks on Sanger -- to manufacture a small event for the main, if not sole, purpose of giving CNS something to cover as "news," which it proceeded to do well beyond its importance.

If true -- and it sure looks that way; the MRC is free to speak up and untangle all of the behind-the-scenes self-dealing that appears to be going on -- CNS is engaging in a serious breach of journalistic ethics, and its failure to fully and honestly disclose its relationship to the rally's organizers makes the situation worse.

As a result, it's painfully clear that CNS is not an independent news organization, it's not a news organization at all -- it's just another cog in the MRC's right-wing propaganda machines. There's simply no reason to any sane person to treat it as legitimate.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:52 AM EDT
Sunday, August 30, 2015
If Media 'Owns' TV Station Shooting, WND Owns Charleston Massacre
Topic: WorldNetDaily

From an Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily article:

Black leader, author and commentator Jesse Lee Peterson is charging the mainstream media bears partial responsibility for the charged circumstances that allowed the on-air murder of a television reporter and her cameraman in Virginia this week. Peterson, an African-American civil-rights leader, talk radio host and WND columnist, believes the media has been stoking the fires of black-on-white racial hatred.

Pointing to the media’s coverage of the recent church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, Peterson argued the press is creating an uncontrollable sense of anger among many blacks.

“To understand how lethal this anger can be, it might pay to look at the phenomenon of the black mass murderer,” Peterson told WND. “You say, what? Black mass murderer? If you are like a lot of people, you think mass murder is a white thing. The media encourage you to do so. This is a riff you hear occasionally from black comics as well, but the perception results from the way the media treat black serial killers, not from the reality on the ground.”


Jack Cashill, a WND columnist and the author of “Scarlet Letters: The Ever Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism,” went even farther than Peterson.

“The media own this tragedy,” Cashill stated bluntly. “For years, they have suppressed the ample news of black on white crime, trumpeted the rare news of white and black crime, and stoked a sense of grievance among black Americans.”


Colin Flaherty, a reporter who has written extensively on racially motivated crimes against whites and the author of “White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It,” agrees “it is absolutely fair to say the mainstream media enabled the black racial hostility that contributed to these murders.”

Unmentioned by WND: Using this same standard, WND is partially responsible for the Charleston massacre.

As we've documented, massacre suspect Dylann Roof's racist rhetoric includes an obsession with George Zimmerman, black-on-white crime and apartheid-era South Africa -- all subjects promoted by WND.

We've also noted that WND did not cover the Charleston massacre the way it's covering the killing of the WDBJ reporters -- as the above article demonstrates, it's playing up the racial aspects of the manifesto of black WDBJ killer Vester Flanagan while burying the white supremacist aspects of Roof's manifesto -- the above image on Flanagan's manfesto has no equivalent in WND's coverage of Roof. WND even dispatched Cashill to claim Roof didn't actually write his manifesto. (Funny, we don't see Cashill doing any writing analysis of Flanagan's manifesto, do we?)

This is the WND editorial agenda as approved from the top. Editor Joseph Farah wrote in his Aug. 27 column:

Why do you suppose Barack Obama was so quick to jump to conclusions about potential racial motivations behind the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, when there were none, and so slow to do so in the case of Vester Lee Flanagan, where they are documented by the attacker himself?

Do I need to explain the difference?

The man who killed Michael Brown was a white police officer acting in self-defense. Any potential for him to continue his career path as a law enforcement officer was doomed by the actions of Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, who sent a legion of investigators to Ferguson to see that justice was done. At the end of the day, Holder was reluctantly forced by the facts on the ground to conclude the white police officer acted justifiably under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, the man who killed reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward was a gay, black man who let the entire world know the motivations for his cold-blooded murders – racial hatred and a vague contention that he had been offended by something his two former colleagues said or did with regard to his identification as “gay.”

Here we have two stark contrasts in cases of shootings involving whites and blacks. There are, of course, hundreds of examples like these. But I am first and mainly interested in suggesting that Obama’s view of such violence is racist.

By contraxt, Farah did not devote a column expressing similar concerns about the Charleston massacre -- it didn't even rate a mention in a column he wrote arguing that June 2015, the month in which the massacre was committed, was "the biggest news month of our generation." Therefore, we can assume that  -- by applying his own standards, given two stark contrasts in cases of shootings involving whites and blacks -- his view of such violence is racist.

Farah goes on to rant: "Obama: Do you have nothing to say about the tragic murders in Virginia besides having your government-paid mouthpieces blame guns?"

Meanwhile, Farah has nothing to say about the Charlreston massacre while his paid mouthpieces blame black people. It's time for Farah to admit the racist slant of his editorial agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:03 PM EDT
Saturday, August 29, 2015
CNS Helps Anti-Discrimination Foes Advance Transgender Bathroom Myth

Reading an Aug. 26 article by Melanie Hunter on right-wing efforts to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston, you'd think it was only about bathrooms:

A group opposed to a proposed ordinance that would allow transgendered people to use any bathroom they consider consistent with their gender identity has launched a radio campaign in Houston, Texas, to defeat the so-called “bathroom ordinance.”

Campaign for Houston, which was organized to defeat the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), kicked off its campaign, called No Men in Women’s Bathrooms!, on Monday.

The bathroom ordinance was part of Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s effort to extend discrimination protections to the LGBT community through HERO. It specified that “no business open to the public could deny a transgender person entry to the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity,” the Houston Chronicle reported on May 14, 2014.

“Parker’s Bathroom Ordinance would force businesses and public establishments to allow troubled men, or men who want to start trouble, to use women’s public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. This endangers women and girls and places them in harm’s way,” Campaign for Houston spokesman Jared Woodfill said in a press release.

“There are 8345 registered and convicted sexual predators in Harris County. This just scratches the surface of this dangerous problem. These men could use this ordinance as a legal shield to threaten our mothers, wives and daughters,” Woodfill added.

Funny how Hunter refers to the law as the "so-called 'bathroom ordinance,'" then adopts the terminology herself two paragraphs later.

This being another CNS propaganda effort, Hunter talks only to Woodfill and can't be bothered to contact any supporter of the ordinance. Thus, she deprives her readers of the facts regarding the ordinance -- namely, that the bathroom fearmongering she lets Woodfill engage in is a myth.

There simply is no evidence -- and Hunter certainly never quotes Woodfill offering any -- that similar anti-discrimination ordinances elsewhere have resulted in any increase in male sexual predators exploiting the laws to sneak into women's bathrooms.

Futher, the day before Hunter's article was published, Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg pointed out what Hunter wouldn't: that as Richard Carlbom with the pro-ordinance Houston Unites campaign told the Chronicle: "Nothing in the equal rights ordinance changes the fact that it is -- and always will be -- illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people."

Now, why wouldn't Hunter or Woodfill mention that important fact? Because they're working together to advance propaganda, not to report news. 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 AM EDT
Friday, August 28, 2015
MRC's Double Standard on Presidential Interrupters
Topic: Media Research Center

Unsurprisingly, Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell took a dim view of Univision's Jorge Ramos interrupting Donald Trump at a press conference:

Jorge Ramos is a pro-amnesty activist masquerading as a journalist. The stunt he pulled at Donald Trump’s press conference reflects poorly on Univision -- again. Ramos is not a 'reporter' nor does he therefore have the 'right to ask questions.' Ramos embarrassed both himself and his profession by becoming the story with his unseemly antics. Those who expect a fair and honest debate on the policy issues impacting the U.S. Latino community should ignore Jorge Ramos.

Bozell was joined by MRC Latino director Ken Oliver-Mendez, who claimed that "Jorge Ramos clearly crossed the line between reporting and editorializing" and is "operating outside the confines of honest journalism."

It also shouldn't be a surprise, then, that Bozell doesn't feel the same when the interruptor is a conservative and the person being interrupted is a Democratic president.

A search through the MRC archives found no indication that Bozell said anything about a 2012 incident in which conservative Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro heckled President Obama during a news conference -- no declaration that Munro was an activist masquerading as a journalist, or that Munro embarrassed himself and his profession, or that Munro is operating outside the confines of honest journalism, or that conservatives who expect fair and honest journalism should ignore Munro.

Meanwhile, the rest of the MRC was more than happy to cheer Munro's stunt. Clay Waters mocked the New York Times for supposedly being "aghast at the audacity of a reporter from a conservative news site interrupting President Obama's Rose Garden speech."

At Newsbusters, Noel Sheppard tried to temper things by baselessly claiming that "we are by no means condoning Munro's behavior" (even though we could find no criticism of Munro by anyone at the MRC), but then tried to justify that same behavior: "As the Daily Caller is a conservative website, isn't it far more likely Munro doesn't agree with the new immigration policy the current White House resident was presenting that just so happens to be an edict without any approval from Congress?"

Tom Blumer huffed that Munro's stunt was hardly "the first time any reporter has ever shouted a question at a U.S. president out of turn," then touted Munro's defense "as well as sturdy defenses from Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson and Publisher Neil Patel." He concluded by whining of Munro's critics: "What a bunch of flaming, presidential boot-licking hypocrisy."

And Jack Coleman offered his own defense of Munro: "Henceforth the Obama administration might want to signal when questions will be allowed from the media and when reporters will be expected to emulate statuary." We suspect Coleman won't be asking Trump to make that same signal.

Posted by Terry K. at 3:06 PM EDT
WND Brings RFK Jr. Aboard As Anti-Vaxxer Columnist
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may not share the same political views, but they share common cause in promoting discredited anti-vaxxer rhetoric. So WND has rather belatedly welcomed Kennedy to its extremist fold, giving him the full columnist-with-bio treatment for his writings, as shown above. (That bio is so outdated, it refers to his radio show as airing on Air America Radio, which shut down five years ago.)

RFK Jr.'s Aug. 24 WND column is a screed against Forbes magazine for  putting a dent in his conspiracy theory that Poul Thorsen, a Danish scientist accused of stealing $1 million in federal grant money for his own use, is some sort of mastermind in the government/vaccine industry scheme to suppress evidence that vaccines don't cause autism. Here's a snippet showing the general tone of Kennedy's piece:

Dr. Thorsen is one of the co-authors and data manager for two leading foreign studies offered by CDC as the foundation of its claims that vaccines do not cause autism. Only purposeful misstatement or journalistic sloth can account for Willingham’s declaration that Thorsen’s conclusions “have not been called into question.” For over a decade, myriad critics have exposed those studies as brazen fraud.

Among those RFK Jr. as questioning those studies is the Journal for the American Physicians and Surgeons, the publication of the anti-vaxxer-friendly and far-right-fringe Academy of American Physicians and Surgeons -- hardly credible evidence. But as the Forbes article pointed out, Thorsen was not first author or senior author on those studies, which suggests that his contribution to them is not as significant as people like Kennedy claim. Further despite Kennedy's ranting that the Thorsen-linked studies are a "brazen fraud," Forbes points out that the studies and data "have not been called into question (through formal channels) or retracted."

Kennedy takes a cue from his new friends at WND and carefully crafts his outrage to avoid issues actually discussed in the Forbes article, like pointing out how Kennedy has asserted that Thorsen is "on the run from Interpol" despite living and working openly in Denmark (or, apparently, not actually being sought by Interpol), as well as the fact that Thorsen contributed to a paper recently published by an institute named for Kennedy's aunt, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Forbes also notes that Kennedy and other anti-vaxxers aren't attacking Thorsen's research into things not related to vaccines and autism.

Kennedy also ignores Forbes' key argument: "If the charges are true, Thorsen bilked the US government, specifically the CDC, out of millions and used it to buy himself things. How that translates into a willingness to engage in a conspiracy with the CDC remains elusive."

But Kennedy's ability to rant to obfuscate the fact he's not actually responding to the issue shows that he has learned well from his new buddies at WND.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:49 AM EDT
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Ted Cruz Makes MRC Proud By Dismissing Megyn Kelly's Questions As 'Liberal'
Topic: Media Research Center

When Ted Cruz dismissed Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly's questions to him on immigration as something a "liberal journalist" would ask, the Media Research Center applauded it. After all, the evasion tactic is straight from the MRC playbook.

The MRC reinforces to conservatives that any tough question would want to ask them is, by definition, a "liberal" question and, thus, does not need to be answered. After all, conservatives know that they will never face tough questions when they appear on Fox News.

Here's how this works in practice, as seen through MRC blog posts and items:

  • Jeffrey Meyer claimed that in an interview with Ben Carson, "CBS This Morning’s Norah O’Donnell repeatedly hit the famed neurosurgeon from the left on abortion," though Meyer never explained how the question O'Donnell asked Carson -- whether he woudl ban abortions in the case of rape, incest, and life of the mother -- was "from the left." Still, Meyer praised Carson for having "pushed back against O’Donnell’s liberal question."
  • Meyer insisted that asking whether the Republian Party has issues with women and minority voters was a "liberal assertion," complaining that in an interview with Republian Gov. Nikki Haley, CBS' O'Donnell "made sure to push the liberal line about whether or not the GOP has a 'problem with women voters?'"
  • Rich Noyes declared that CBS anchor Scott Pelley was pestering House speaker John Boehner with "obnoxious liberal questions," like whether President Obama deserves any credit for an improving economy or if "just sending bills up to the White House that are gonna get vetoed" is an effective way to govern.
  • MRC chief Brent Bozell sneered that during a Republican debate, NBC's Brian Williams "pounded Ron Paul like a haughty Swedish socialist to defend his libertarian views." Bozell offered no examples of these allegedly "haughty Swedish socialist" questions.
  • Bozell's lieutenant, Tim Graham, complained that in the same debate, Williams asked "nasty, shamelessly liberal questions," but the only one he cited was asking Rick Perry if he "struggled to sleep at night" over the idea that any of the 234 inmates on death row executed under Perry's watch might have been innocent. Graham didn't explain how that question is "shamelessly liberal."
  • Rich Noyes wrote that in presidential candidate townhall debates, journalists favor "liberal questions" over "conservative questions." But Noyes offered no definition of what constituted a "liberal question" for thepurposes of his survey, beyond the vague notion that it's something that would "favor liberal causes."

Notice a pattern there? The MRC effectively defines the nebulous "liberal question" to a conservative candidate as nothing more than a tough question that challenges them to explain their views. Because they don't want to answer the question anyway, deflecting it as a "liberal question" gives them an excuse not to answer it, as well as having the side benefit of playing to the base, whom the MRC and other conservative organizations have spent millions of dollars over the past few decades conditioning to despise as "liberal media" any outlet that dares try to ask tough questions of conservatives.

So of course Cruz would invoke the MRC-approved tactic of deflecting a question he didn't want to answer as something a "liberal journalist" would ask, even though the idea that anyone would consider Megyn Kelly a "liberal journalist" strains logic.

But then, the MRC seems content to throw its conservative friends at Fox News under the bus for the sake of ideological purity; it was curiously silent about the questions Fox anchors asked at the recent Republican presidential debate after they proved a little too challenging for some of the candidates. Perhaps it had to stay silent; this was the debate setup the MRC wanted after years of complaints that Republicans were holding debates on non-Fox news channels where they are in danger of those nebulous "liberal" questions.

The MRC conditions conservative candidates to dismiss tough questions as "liberal." Ted Cruz showed the results of that conditioning.

Posted by Terry K. at 8:49 AM EDT
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
WND Buried White Racist Shooter's Manifesto, Plays Up Black Racist Shooter's Manifesto
Topic: WorldNetDaily


When white shooter Dylann Roof murdered nine blacks in a Charleston, S.C. church in June in the hopes of starting a race war, WorldNetDaily wasn't much interested in covering the story -- perhaps because his racial views mirrored WND's editorial agenda. News of the discovery of Roof's manifesto, in which he echoed WND's concerns over "black-on-white crime," support for George Zimmerman and lament for the end of apartheid in South Africa, merited only an article stolen from the Daily Mail just a few paragraphs long, plus a Jack Cashill column speculating that Roof didn't actually write it.


But a black person who shoots white people for apparently racial reasons? WND is on it.

An Aug.  26 WND article by Bob Unruh blares as its headline a quote from the apparent manifesto of Vester Lee Flanagan, a black man who shot a Virginia TV correspondent and her cameraman, both white, during a live broadcast before killing himself: "You want a race war [expletive]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE [expletive]!"

While WND is eager to play up the racial aspects of this shooting -- its coverage of the Flanagan shooting also includes highlighting Rush Limbaugh claiming the media is conflicted over the shooting because the shooter is black and a video-embedded item luridly titled, "See shooter killing news TV crew" -- it's still pretty squeamish about Roof's massacre. Unruh nots that Flanagan "wrote that the murder of black people at the South Carolina church in June pushed him over the edge," but he doesn't explain the circumstances of that shooting. Later, Unruh acknowledges the full context of the headline quote, that Flanagan was directly responding to Roof's call for a race war. Unruh then added, "Reports said Roof killed blacks because he wanted a race war" -- but doesn't note that Roof was the Charleston shooter, or that among the outlets issuring "reports" on Roof's intent was his employer.

(Meanwhile, Joseph Farah's column lamenting "the tragic and mysterious shooting ... that took the lives of a young TV reporter and her cameraman" is more than slightly contradicted by his website's enthusiasm for touting the graphic video of the shooting. Farah solemnly calls it "reality television at its most gruesome" -- but he's going to milk this tragedy for every eyeball he can draw to his website to watch it.)

So, to sum up: A white racist shooter isn't news at WND, while a black racist shooter is. But you knew that already.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:17 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 9:57 PM EDT
CNS' Hollingsworth Turns In Another One-Source Wonder

Just as Penny Starr is a propagandist for the anti-abortion industry, fellow "reporter" Barbara Hollingsworth is a reliable propagandist for climate change deniers, as we've documented. She's at it again in an Aug. 20 article regurgitating the claims of another climate denier:

We have a “moral imperative” to burn carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels because the energy they provide is a “liberator” of humanity, says Dr. John Christy, a climatologist and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.

“We are not morally bad people for taking carbon and turning it into the energy that offers life to humanity in a world that would otherwise be brutal,” Christy wrote in a recent oped. "On the contrary, we are good people for doing so."

He also challenged what he says are contradictions in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, in which the pontiff called climate change “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

The pope’s encyclical “displays a lack of understanding of how the real world works,” Christy told According to microwave data from satellites going back to 1978, which are precise to within .08 of a degree, “very little warming is taking place,” he pointed out.

(Weirdly, Hollingsworth pulls her version of Christy's "recent oped" for an Alabama newspaper out of the Internet Archive, even though it's still live on the newspaper's website.)

This being a Hollingsworth special, she breaks CNS' mission statement to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story" and offers no views in her article other than Christy's and quotes nobody other than Christy.

Thus, Hollingsworth's readers will never learn that Christy's claims about climate change -- many of which she repeats in her article -- have been repeatedly discredited.

But instead of pointing that Christy's claims are disputed at best, Hollingsworth presents them as undisputed truth -- ironic, since the gist of the article is to dispute facts about climate science.

A longtime rallying cry of climate deniers is to "teach the controversy." Hollingsworth doesn't want her readers to know there is one, at least on the denier side -- otherwise, she would have talked to someone to rebut Christy's claims.

Thus, she's acting like deniers claim climate change advocates act. Ironic, isn't it?

Posted by Terry K. at 8:50 AM EDT
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
NewsBusters Blogger Swings At Margaret Sanger, Whiffs
Topic: NewsBusters

We've highlighted how much NewsBusters blogger and right-wing pundit wannabe Dylan Gwinn cheers for gay pro athletes to fail. Perhaps he should stick to his sports, because he's even worse when he ventures off that reservation.

Gwinn devoted an Aug. 17 NewsBusters post to whining about a now-deleted post by "billionaire lib" Mark Cuban defending Planned Parenthood over factually dubious attacks by Republican Ben Carson:

The limousine liberal Cuban might as well have deleted the tweet and distanced himself from the link, because the NPR piece made an atrociously disingenuous defense of Sanger and Planned Parenthood. After identifying Sanger as a member of the eugenics movement – a movement dedicated to ensuring that poor and poorly educated people did not reproduce – NPR described Sanger as “paternalistic” towards blacks, not necessarily racist.

The piece cites an article Sanger wrote in 1946 about “… giving ‘Negro’ parents a choice in how many children they would have.”

“The Negro race has reached a place in its history when every possible effort should be made to have every Negro child count as a valuable contribution to the future of America,” she wrote. “Negro parents, like all parents, must create the next generation from strength, not from weakness; from health, not from despair.”

Hmm, if it’s important for “all parents” to only reproduce only from strength and never from weakness, then why did Sanger feel it necessary to pen a letter specifically referencing black people?

If Gwinn had bothered to closely read the NPR fact-check he cites in his mindless bashing of Cuban, he would have noticed that the 1946 Sanger piece on Negroes appeared in a publication called the Negro Digest. If Wikipedia is to be believed, the Negro Digest "was similar to the Reader's Digest but aimed to cover positive stories about the African-American community."

In other words, Sanger was "specifically referencing black people" because she was writing the article for a publication targeted at black people. So much for Gwinn's sinister racist conspiracy theory.

Gwinn then added, "And NPR failed to mention Sanger’s characterization of blacks as 'human weeds.'" He doesn't explain that's because there's no evidence Sanger ever actually said such a thing.

Gwinn links to an anti-abortion website that claims this statement came from Sanger's "Pivot of Civilization." In fact, the term "human weeds" appears nowhere in the book.

Then Gwinn gets totally contradictory:

The fact check referenced a report from the Guttmacher Institute, which stated that 60 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are actually in majority white neighborhoods, as opposed to black, which would seem to refute one element of what Carson said. But Guttmacher was once the research arm of Planned Parenthood, and it is explicitly pro-abortion. According to an interactive map created by the pro-life group Protecting Black Life, “79% of [Planned Parenthood’s] surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.”

But if we shouldn't trust the Guttmacher Institute's because it's "explicitly pro-abortion," shouldn't we similarly distrust Protecting Black Life because it's explicitly anti-abortion?

Actually, there's a good reason we shouldn't trust that map: as we've previously noted, the map's very generous definition of "within walking distance" is two miles, and many of those black and Latino neighborhoods are on the far fringe of that radius.

Gwinn follows that up by getting really stupid:

Billionaire libs like Mark Cuban are so busy trying to take shots at Republicans, while making themselves appear to be so enlightened, that they miss both forest and tree. Abortion is phasing black people out in cities and states all over the country. Only when reactionary libs like Cuban start caring more about that than scoring points with other reactionary libs on twitter can we say that all black lives matter.

Actually, the black fertility rate is currently hovering around 2.0, which is effectively the replacement rate, meaning that the black population in the U.S. is steady, not that "abortion is phasing black people out."

If Gwinn really thinks black lives matter, he might want to try and do something about the black infant mortality rate, which is more than double that of whites and Hispanics and has nothing to do with abortion.

Those black lives probably don't matter to Gwinn since he can't reduce them to a sound bite-friendly right-wing talking point.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:32 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, August 31, 2015 7:59 PM EDT

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