How The MRC Isn't All In on Trump (Just Like Bozell Wants It) Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center feels the same way about Donald Trump as it does about birtherism: not an issue until somebody cites it/him to criticize conservatives.
We got more confirmation of the MRC's Trump non-agenda in an interview chief honcho Brent Bozell did with Rush Limbaugh for the Limbaugh Letter. The MRC posted only the first two pages of it, and it's pretty fluffy -- just as you'd expect Limbaugh to do for someone who started an "I Stand With Rush" website in an attempt to shield him from criticism over his three days of ugly misogyny against Sandra Fluke.
The MRC has posted only the first two pages of the interview, but it includes the telling passage that Bozell is a Ted Cruz supporter -- but, he insists, "not through the Media Research Center, or through my other organization, ForAmerica, but personally."
Well, that's not exactly true (even if he has to say it in order to avoid legal questions about the MRC's nonprofit tax status): the MRC has been pretty quick to run to Cruz's defense, as suggested by the 818 NewsBusters items that mention him as of this writing. Some are pretty picayune, such as the post accusing the New York Times of "flirt[ing] with birtherism" by merely quoting Cruz's father's defense of his eligibility to run for president. And it absolutely loves the fact that Cruz is following the MRC playbook by dismissing tough questions from the media as "liberal."
By contrast, the MRC has not been as interested in embracing Donald Trump's media critiques, even though he's using the same MRC playbook Cruz used to make them. As we've noted, the MRC stayed silent on Trump's dismissal of questions during the August Republican presidential campaign debate as liberal gotcha questions -- likely because the questions came from Fox News anchors, whom Bozell had previously demanded be put in charge of running Republican presidential debates.
That hands-off attitude was expanded upon by Bozell in his interview with Limbaugh:
Rush: What was your analysis of the public reaction to that debate, aimed at Fox News? Not just Megyn Kelly, but the whole thing as it related to Trump?
Bozell: People love Fox News. People have so much hope in Fox News, and I think people felt really let down by what they saw.
Rush: Is that right?
Bozell: Absolutely. I was there. I will tell you that the mood inside that auditorium was apparently very different from the mood on television. If you were to have taken a poll of the people who were there, in no way did Donald Trump win that debate. You could hear the grumblings in the audience. People were asking why there were so few questions to Cruz, why there were so few questions to Carson, and then question after question after question to Trump. People got very tired of it, Rush.
So Bozell also disliked the way Fox News handled the debate as well, if only (publicly, anyway) for letting Trump divert attention from his beloved Cruz. But, again, none of this criticism made its way to the websites of the MRC. It's as if Bozell is afraid of criticizing Fox News lest he lose his weekly spot on "Hannity."
Similarly, when Trump denounced "gotcha" questions in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, the MRC didn't feel like echoing it. Why? Because Hewitt is a conservative the MRC loves. It cheered how Hewitt claimed how NPR is the "liberal version of my show" and his ridiculous claim that the right-wing-fueled controversy over Hillary Clinton's emails was itself an "indictment" of her (as opposed to, you know, an actual indictment).
The only mention of Trump's MRC-inspired attack on Hewitt was a few days later it happened, in a Sept. 6 NewsBusters post by Melissa Mullins noting that "liberal journo" Geraldo Rivera had backed up Trump. Mullins didnt mention the fact that Hewitt is a conservative.
Later in the Limbaughinterview, Bozell touted how Fox News chief Roger Ailes is "a master of this medium" by latching on to Trump and even by making Trump a focus of the Fox debate, then threw in some wishful thinking by grumping, "I think Trump may have peaked."
It seems to us that if you're afraid to engage in media criticism for fear of angering one side or the other lest you lose access because of it, you're a terrible media critic. It's never been afraid to play right-wingGod to decree who is and is not a true conservative -- that's what Heathering is all about, after all -- and there's no reason it should stop now, especially when it knows that Trump is an opportunist and not a genuine conservative (to judge from the Twitter feeds of MRC employees we've read who aren't buying his schtick).
The MRC is in a perfect position -- one it created -- to weigh in on Trump's fights with conservative media. But it won't, apparenly choosing to hope that Trump simply goes away.
That America is turning away from God is evidenced by events that are documented: Millions of unborn children have been killed in the womb through abortion, sexual immorality has been legitimized by the U.S. Supreme Court and materialism has taken over the culture – just look around.
Which makes now a perfect time for Americans to confess their sins as a nation and repent of their wicked ways. They will have a chance to do so Friday during the annual 9/11 National Day of Prayer and Repentance.
WND Founder and CEO Joseph Farah first issued the call for such a day on September 11, 2013. He was quickly joined by such figures as Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, former Rep. Michele Bachmann, Greg Laurie and Chuck Norris, and the movement is surging.
Interested people may also join Joseph and Elizabeth Farah, David and Jason Benham, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Dr. Richard Land and others in three national repentance conference calls, which will begin at 12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m., and 3:15 p.m. Eastern time. Members of the public are asked to call 712-432-0075, then dial passcode 1412452#.
During these conference calls, various leaders will share the need to repent, and then all will have a chance to repent and pray for God’s mercy on America.
So today's "National Day of Prayer and Repentance" is now just a conference call? That's quite a comedown.
The article goes on to tout "numerous Christian and Jewish leaders" promoting the day, but many of them -- Jonathan Cahn, Carl "PPSIMMONS" Gallups, the Benham brothers -- have relationships with WND.
Another interesting thing about that article: While it touts Farah's role in creating the apparently dwindling event, nowhere does it affirmatively claim that Farah himself will be engaged in any act of repentance.
WND Hides Key Fact About Its 'VIP' Interviewee Topic: WorldNetDaily
Myra Adams slobbers over Roger Stone in a Sept. 7 WorldNetDaily "VIP Q&A" interview, which notes his "long and influential career" as a "seasoned political operative and pundit" who has written "numerous best-selling books." The point of the interview was to shill for Stone's upcoming anti-Clinton book that puports to tell the "appalling truth" about them but appears to merely rehash decades-old far-right speculation about Bill Clinton's "African-American son" and "Chelsea Clinton's real father."
Curiously, Adams fails to touch upon one significant aspect of Stone's life: he's what WND might call a sexual degenerate.
As a 2008 New Yorker profile of Stone details, he's a swinger. Stone had to resign from Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign after news of his swinging -- he and his wife had advertised on a swinger website -- got out. For the New Yorker interview, Stone took interviewer Jeffrey Toobin to a swinger club: "At first glance, though, the scene inside looks like a nineteen-eighties disco, with a bar, Madonna at high volume, flashing lights, a stripper’s pole, and a dancer’s cage. But a flat-screen television on the wall plays porn videos, and many clubgoers disappear into locker rooms and emerge wearing towels. From there, some of them go into a lounge, a Jacuzzi room, or one of about half a dozen private rooms to have sex—with their dates or with new acquaintances."
Oh, and the above photo is of a topless Stone getting licked by a substantially topless model during a 2010 gay pride parade.
Given that WND never misses an opportunity to, for instance, highlight Houston Mayor Annise Parker's sexual orientation -- one recent article has "lesbian mayor" in both the headline and the lead paragraph -- it's strange that WND would be silent about Stone's sexual preferences, especially since he has been so public about them. That's probably because Adams didn't feel up to having to explain the above photo -- wouldn't want the facts to get in the way of a book promo, after all.
It seems that WND hates the Clintons more than it hates gays and other sexual degenerates.
WND Yet Again Whitewashes Operation Rescue's Links to Anti-Abortion Violence Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily, it seems, just can't stop doing the bidding of anti-abortion extremists, particularly when they're denying they're extremists. From an unbylined Sept. 5 WND article:
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that has been linked in a federal courtroom to a domestic terror attack, now has added pro-life activists to its expanding list of targets, smearing the citizen journalists who are exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby body parts as “extremists.”
In a post on its ominously titled blog “Hatewatch,” SPLC’s Mark Potok complained the group “behind the recent spate of undercover videos accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling ‘body parts from aborted fetuses’ is tightly linked to some of the country’s hardest-line anti-abortion extremists.”
Potok attacked the Center for Medical Progress, which produced the videos. But he also targeted Cheryl Sullenger and Troy Newman, leaders of the pro-life activist group Operation Rescue and the authors of “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community At a Time.”
Potok suggested Newman implicitly supports violence against abortion providers and highlights Sullenger’s conviction in 1988 for providing logistical support in a conspiracy to bomb an abortion clinic.
But Sullenger fired back, arguing the Southern Poverty Law Center was misrepresenting her record and Newman’s record as well as trying to change the subject away from Planned Parenthood’s misconduct.
“The information provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center is a gross distortion of our backgrounds. Troy has always rejected violence against abortion clinics and providers. As for my criminal conviction, it was a mistake I freely admit. I have worked very hard since then employing peaceful means within the law to expose abortion abuses and bring those responsible for them to justice,” she told WND.
Wow -- this may be the first time WND has reported that Sullenger tried to blow up an abortion clinic, and almost definitely the first time since WND published an anti-abortion activism book by Newman and Sullenger nearly a year ago.
But note that WND euphemictically called Sullenger's role in the bombing attempt nothing but "logistical support." In fact, according to the SPLC article she and WND are ostensibly attacking, "The indictment said that Sullenger provided gunpowder and other material for the bomb and gave a wig to the man who actually planted it."
Providing the actual explosive material for a terrorist operation seems like a lot more than mere "logistical support."And it seems that if Sullenger were truly remorseful about her actions, she'd be using much stronger language than a "mistake" to apologize for it.
Also notice that WND and Sullenger never say exactly what the SPLC wrote about Newman, which is this:
In 2003, Newman issued a press release attacking “judicial tyranny” in the prosecution of Paul Hill, who murdered an abortion doctor and his bodyguard in Florida, and arguing that Hill, who was executed the same day, should have been able to present a defense of “justifiable defensive action.”
WND and Sullenger fail to explain how that description is a "gross distortion." That's because it isn't -- you can read the press release here and judge for yourself.
Needless to say, WND and Sullenger are also silent about Operation Rescue's own link to a domestic terror attack -- the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller by Scott Roeder, who had contacts with Operation Rescue in the years before the murder and had a note with Sullenger's phone number in his car the day he was arrested.
By contrast, nobody at the SPLC can claim any personal conversations with Floyd Corkins, the shooter at the Family Research Council headquarters who simply found the group listed on an SPLC website.
Sullenger should stop trying to spin and distort the truth and fully own her terrorist past. Likewise, Newman should understand he's on record too many times endorsing anti-abortion violence, implicitly or otherwise, to claim he's some kind of peaceful activist -- after all, he moved Operation Rescue to Wichita, Kansas, for the explicit purpose of targeting Tiller, and it can be argued that the anti-Tiller atmosphere Newman, Sullenger and Operation Rescue helped create since then emboldened Roeder to murder Tiller.
And WND should stop playing press agent and report facts without fear or favor. But we know that will never happen, don't we?
Kengor Pushes More Anti-Sanger Falsehoods Topic: CNSNews.com
WorldNetDaily is not the only place where Paul Kengor is given free rein to spread his dishonest attacks on Margaret Sanger.
An Aug. 21 CNSNews.com column by Kengor -- originally appearing at the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal website -- repeats his cherry-picked, distorted version of Sanger's talk to a Ku Klux Klan women's group in 1926. As he did in recounting the talk at WorldNetDaily, Kengor omits the fact that Sanger called the talk "one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing" and -- contrary to Kengor's claim that her audience was uniformly "enthusiastic" -- Sanger wrote that she feared if she "uttered one word, such as abortion, outside the usual vocabulary of these women they would go off into hysteria." Sanger also omitted the fact that the thing that kept Sanger from making the last train to New York, as a result of conversations she had afer her speech, was a local curfew meaning that "everything" in the town "shut at nine o'click."
Further, the KKK was a pretty mainstream organization at the time Sanger spoke to it, embracing fundamentalism and patriotism in ways that resemble today's conservative movement. And as PolitiFact points out, the women's division of the KKK was not the KKK itself, and biographers note that Sanger was never a supporter of the KKK or even a racist. PolitiFact mentions a writer critical of the eugenics movement Sanger was involved in in the 1920s admits that Sanger was not virulently racist or anti-Semitic.
None of that makes Kengor's column, of course. He does, however, uncritically repeat the anti-Sanger attacks of a group of right-wing black pastors, including a quote about Sanger's Negro project that a Washington Post fact-checker points out "is frequently taken out of context to suggest Sanger was seeking to exterminate blacks."
Kengor even asserts that the pastors "show that 70 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are located in minority neighborhoods" -- which we've documented is not only a false claim, it's not even what the pastors actually claimed (which was itself less than true).
Kengor is a professor of political science at Grove City College, but his research skills seem to be a level of a lazy, dishonest undergrad who cares more about pushing an agenda than telling the full truth.
AIM's Kincaid Pretty Much The Only One Defending O'Keefe Now Topic: Accuracy in Media
Project Veritas provocateur and convicted criminal James O'Keefe unveiled his latest trolling operation last week, which consisted of an O'Keefe operative serving as a moderating party between a Hillary Clinton campaign merch table operator and someone who claimed to be Canadian who wanted to buy a couple of Hillary T-shirts, then claiming this was a massive scandal of foreign contributions to Hillary's campaign.
This was so embarrassing, even many conservative outlets ignored the story, and the right-wing Daily Caller pretty much mocked it.
But not Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid. "The law says that foreigners are strictly prohibited from contributing to U.S. political campaigns, and O’Keefe had dramatic evidence of the campaign law violation. The video was played on a television screen for all to see," he thundered in a Sept. 1 column, which was curiously silent about the exact nature of what happened. He complained that media outlets mocked O'Keefe (not mentioning the right-wing outlets that also mocked and ignored O'Keefe), then thundered again:
But those distortions won’t suffice when the video evidence itself can be seen by millions, telling the real story that some in the media try to conceal. As Project Veritas emphasized, the video shows Molly Barker, the Director of Marketing for Hillary Clinton’s national campaign, knowingly breaking campaign finance law by accepting a straw donation from a foreign national.
Kincaid didn't mention that if Hillary's campaign broke the law, O'Keefe's organization did as well. As the Daily Beast's Olivia Nuzzi pointed out, Project Veritas broke the law twice by invervening in the transaction between the campaign and the alleged Canadian (Project Veritas doesn't know the identity of the that person, let alone if the person is actually Canadian) and by having its operative make the transaction under a false name.
But the facts don't matter to Kincaid, who declared that "the great number of journalists who showed up was an indication that, when it comes to Hillary, nobody really knows how serious the law-breaking will get. O’Keefe suggested that more evidence against the campaign is yet to come."
A Short History of the MRC's Semi-Birtherism Topic: Media Research Center
Bryan Ballas complains in a Sept. 2 NewsBusters post that the Washington Post did an article on right-wing pastor Rafael Cruz's assertion that his son, Sen. Ted Cruz, is eligible to run for president, blaming the author for bringing up "a long settled birther issue" (never mind that it was Rafael Cruz who brought it up and that the Post is merely reporting what he said). Ballas further complained that the Post article noted that "Rafael Cruz himself has made birtheresque jabs at President Obama," adding, "One can only hope this was a filler piece and not the first sign of a long pattern of birther mud slinging."
So the Media Research Center has now decided that birther conspiracy theories are "mud slinging"? That's interestiing, because the MRC never really took that aggressive of a stance regarding birtherism as applied to Obama. While the MRC didn't exactly further Obama birtherism, it also did little to counter it.
Let's take a look back at how the MRC handled Obama birtherism, which mixes semi-denouncements with semi-endorsements:
A 2009 post by Clay Waters grumbled that the New York Times "questioned those questioning Obama's birth certificate, his citizenship, and his resulting eligibility for the presidency" while purportedly showing "far more respect to a conspiracy theory many times more incendiary and implausible: That the 9-11 attacks were an inside job, that the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were engineered by President Bush."
Another 2009 post by Waters complained that the Times columnist Frank Rich "smeared the Birthers as racist with no evidence." Waters added: "Conspiratorial and wrong? Fair enough. But there's nothing necessarily racist about believing Obama was born in Kenya instead of Hawaii." It was not until 2011 that Waters finally admitted that birtherism is "discredited," and even then Waters was still trying to equivocate by bringing up 9-11 truthers, which no serious Democratic presidential candidate, actual or potential, has ever brought up, unlike with Republicans and birthers.
Noel Sheppard took offense in 2009 when someone called Lou Dobbs, then with CNN, an "immigrant-hating, birther-supporting zealot," refusing to admit that birtherism was extreme: "It sure is fascinating watching all manner of media member attack anyone that has the nerve to question the new President, isn't it?"
Sheppard took a somewhat different view in a 2011 post complaining that MSNBC "cherry-picked something Mike Huckabee said on Steve Malzberg's radio show in order to depict the possible Republican presidential candidate as a birther" -- but then said it was "relevant" to question why Obama had purportedly refused to release his personal records, which includes his longform birth cert ificate (which hadn't yet been released at the time of this post). Shappard also uncritically repeated Huckabee's assertion that he "disavows birthers" on the first page of his book "A Simple Government." In fact, Huckabee did no such thing; all Huckabee does on the first page is acknowledge that critics claim Obama is "lying about his citizenship" and adds that his book won't be about that because "I don't like to make politics personal."
Also in 2011, Mark Finkelstein took exception to columnist Charles Blow's claim that Donald Trump should not be allowed to spout his birther views on TV because "we know that this is not true": "Consider Blow's curious suggestion that the MSM collectively knows various things to be true, and should ban those who disagree. What else does the MSM 'know is not true'? Who else should it collectively ban from TV?"
In a May 2011 post, it was MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham who was rushing to the defense of the allegation that birthers were racists, asserting that the allegation was "unproven."
When its benign birtherism/non-birtherism didn't wash, the MRC also took the interesting position of blaming birtherism on the media -- the "liberal" media, of course, not right-wing outlets like WorldNetDaily who actively promoted birtherism. A 2009 post by Jeff Poor cheered on Rep. Michele Bachmann's assertion that "the left" is pushing birther questions (and her utter lie that "You don't hear people on the right bringing this issue up") under the headline "Bachmann Makes It Clear Who Is Driving the 'Birther' Train: The Media." (WND highlights Bachmann on its "big list of eligibility 'proofers'," which shows that WND considered her an ally to its birther cause.)
In a 2012 post, Scott Whitlock calls birther claims "untrue" and notes that CNN's Jake Tapper has pointed this out -- but he's mad that Tapper pointed out that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned with Trump without denouncing those "untrue" claims. Later on in the presidential campaign, Brent Baker whined that news outlets "pounced on Romney for daring to make a birth certificate joke." Baker didn't offer his view on the leigitimacy of birtherism.
Jeffrey Meyer used a 2012 post to complain that MSNBC's Chris Matthews "decided to hurl a ridiculous question about birtherism" to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, calling it "an issue that numerous Republicans have disavowed since the beginning."
Sheppard took extreme offense to MSNBC's Joan Walsh pointing out that the right-wing Breitbart website had sunk "lower than Andrew Breitbart" by advancing birther claims: "Does Walsh have absolutely no shame or respect for the dead? Is nothing sacred when it comes to getting Barack Obama reelected?" Apparently, birtherism was OK with Sheppard as long as one didn't invoke a dead person's name in criticizing it.
Matt Vespa complained in 2013 that "Birtherism isn't all that bad to the liberal media when a rising conservative star may be the target." He then bizarrely blamed birtherism on the media: "If only the press suspended their affection for the 44th president, and wrote these articles affirming Obama’s eligibility – and he is eligible – then perhaps we would’ve been spared the idiocy of Orly Taitz, Joesph Farah, and others, who gave some in the media to label the conservative movement as racist."
Vespa is being dishonest by suggesting that non-conservative media ignored the birther issue: FactCheck.org was pointing out that Obama's birth certificate was genuine as far back as August 2008, and the Associated Press reported in November 2008 that the state of Hawaii confirmed that Obama was born there.
If only the MRC had suspended its hatred for the 44th president and wrote articles affirming Obama's eligibility, it would be more likely that the "idiocy" of Taitz, Farah, et al, could have been kept from tarring the right-wing media. But it did not -- after all, letting the accusation hang so that the president was damaged by it was more important than building the credibility of right-wing media.
That strategy has come back to haunt right-wing media as a whole and the MRC in particular. Because the sections of right-wing media that fancy themselves more "respectable," like the MRC (not to mention Fox News, which was also a promoter of birther claims), wouldn't aggressively shoot down the birther conspiracies, birtherism has remained an issue. The MRC's silence back then means it has little basis to complain now.
As it did last month, CNS' coverage of the latest unemployment numbers is a single article by Susan Jones that spends several paragraphs obsessing over labor participation rates and buying the actual news -- that 173,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1. percent -- to a bullet item at the end of the article.
CNS Editor Endorses Violating The Rule Of Law Topic: CNSNews.com
Terry Jeffrey's Sept. 2 CNSNews.com 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.
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 CNSNews.com 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."
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.
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'vedocumented, 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.
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 CNSNews.com 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, FactCheck.org 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.
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.
Deception: CNS Hides MRC's Links To Anti-Sanger Rally It Promoted Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com 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 fivemorearticlesisolatingcomments 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.