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Update: Kopp-Out

The ConWeb spends as little time as possible on an anti-abortionist's murder confession. Plus: The MRC gets hypocritical about hypocrisy, praise for Eminem's gay-bashing, Fox News screw-ups, and more.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/25/2002

An abortion-related story ought to be a big story for the ConWeb. But this one isn't.

The ConWeb's reporting on the sniper death of abortion provider Barnett Slepian and the lead suspect in his death, James Kopp, has been erratic at best., which has written extensively on abortion issues in the past, has only three mentions of Slepian in its archives -- a passing reference in a story on the alleged crimes committed by abortion doctors, another mention in a commentary that complained that "Images of Dr. Slepian being lauded as a hero were rarely countered by images of abortionists standing trial for botched procedures," and a short article on a pro-choice activist accusing Cardinal John O'Connor of responsibility in Slepian's death. There is no mention at all of Kopp. NewsMax has run the occasional story on the case (including CNS' abortion doctor crime story) but also a story that used a lot of sketchy, circumstantial evidence to answer the question posed in its lead paragraph: "Did Bill Clinton's use of the FBI for his pro-abortion political agenda include the possible framing of James Kopp?"

WorldNetDaily, though, managed to top even that. In July, it ran a seven-part series by Jack Cashill perpetuating the Kopp frame-up story, at one point suggesting that Slepian was killed by radical leftists to rally folks around their cause -- or was it because Slepian was allegedly thinking about ending his practice?

So, what was the ConWeb to make of Kopp's confession that he did indeed kill Slepian (though Kopp says he only meant to wound the guy and he regrets it now but still it's still kinda OK that it happened because at least he isn't performing any more abortions)?

Predictably, not much. Both WorldNetDaily and NewsMax linked to the Buffalo News, where the story broke, but couldn't be bothered to do any original reporting of their own. (WND, interestingly, offered a supplemental link to Cashill's now-discredited series.) CNS buried it in its non-archived "News This Hour" section.

Why couldn't some intrepid ConWeb writer go back and talk to some of the pushers of the frame-up conspiracy to learn what they think now that Kopp has confessed? Because it's not in the ConWeb's best interests to tell negative news about the anti-abortion movement, certainly not to the extent it hammers on pro-choicers. So the inaccurate conspiracy-mongers remain in the ConWeb's archives, while the truth will have to be found elsewhere.

Cashill concluded his seven-part WND series with the following statement: "The sad thing is that if Kopp is proved innocent, most Americans will never hear it, and many of those who do hear will never believe it." Well, the opposite turned out to be true: Kopp proved himself guilty, and the ConWeb has no interest in giving anything more than cursory attention to it.

* * *

The Media Research Center's Brent Baker spent part of a Nov. 19 CyberAlert retaliating criticism of Fox News Channel chief Roger Ailes' providing advice to President Bush with examples of former CNN head Rick Kaplan's closeness to the Clinton administration.

"Bottom line: Media ethicists may properly question the appropriateness of the Ailes communication to the White House, but the media hypocrisy on this issue is overwhelming," Baker writes.

Fair enough. But you won't see the "media ethicists" at the MRC doing any of that questioning. If it was bad for Kaplan to be tight with the president, as the MRC clearly implies, why can't Baker work up any outrage for Ailes doing the same thing?

The MRC might be taken more seriously as a media "watchdog" if it applied standards equally to all media organizations and wasn't so wrapped up in other's alleged hypocrisies that it can't see its own.

* * *

The MRC has also been bothered by the fact that the TV networks have generally ignored what it calls the "dark invective" of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's attack last week on Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio.

"Just imagine if Orrin Hatch had lectured reporters back in 1998 that they shouldn’t criticize Ken Starr because the independent counsel had received threats. Or if John Ashcroft had warned that the unrelenting anti-Bush coverage of the New York Times had increased threats against the President," write Brent Baker and Rich Noyes.

Do you get the feeling this is an issue that the MRC can play either way? If Daschle's remarks had received more mainstream media coverage, Baker and Noyes could have just as easily complained that all the coverage was yet another sign that the "liberal media" are promoting liberal ideas and bashing conservatives.

As much as the MRC's writers howl about the "threat to free expression and the First Amendment," Daschle does have a point, as Spinsanity's collection of Limbaugh's Daschle-bashing invective demonstrates.

* * *

Some time back, ConWebWatch detailed how the ConWeb was less than eager to denounce Eminem's gay-bashing lyrics amid all the other Eminem-denouncing going on. WorldNetDaily columnist Ilana Mercer has taken that stance a step further: she praises Eminem's gay-bashing in a Nov. 13 column.

"Kudos to Eminem for driving GLAAD, NOW, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, The Matthew Shepard Foundation and many others even more bonkers than they already are," she writes, adding that "indeed, it's getting harder for a white heterosexual male to get away with an aggressive verbal retort to the Bottom Brigade's hate-filled cultural come-ons."

Mercer's sole example of "the Bottom Brigade's hate-filled cultural come-ons" is a link to someone's personal web site with a scan taken from some obscure publication of an article written by a gay activist named Shawn O'Hearn, from which she pulls the quote, "It's our responsibility as gay men … to assist our supposedly straight brothers in the enjoyment of man-on-man sex."

Oooh, can't you just feel the hate? And can't you just feel Mercer's desperation in trying to make a direct comparison of one messages that has reached maybe thousands at the most (if O'Hearn's lucky) with one heard by millions of people and distributed by a giant corporation in the name of Eminem's record label? No matter what you think of Eminem (or O'Hearn), this is not exactly an apples-versus-apples deal Mercer's offering here.

* * *

A couple Fox News Channel tidbits you'll never hear the ConWeb say a thing about (because, as we all know, FNC can do no wrong):

-- In the race to put anyone on TV with alleged insights during the Washington-area sniper crisis (see Thompson, Jack), Fox News snared an exclusive interview with David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" killer, due apparently to Rita Cosby's letter to him containing such statements as "Your personal story and spiritual growth inspired me to write to you," and "The Lord calls on individuals at various times to serve Him and serve His people." CNN, however, gets a demerit for also trying (but failing) to get an interview with Berkowitz; it seems CNN was apparently unwilling to suck up to a serial killer the way Cosby did.

But Cosby has some practice at this sort of thing; she scored a exclusive chat with another killer, Timothy McVeigh. That, of course, got a pass from the ConWeb as well; CNN's attempt to snag an interview with Osama bin Laden, you'll remember, did not.

-- Fox anchor Shepard Smith committed a major oopsie in an early November story on Jennifer Lopez's song "Jenny From the Block." Smith is captured on tape saying: "But folks from that street in New York, the Bronx section, sound more likely to give her a curb job than a blow job!" He tried to correct himself -- "Or a bl-bl-block party!" -- but eventually apologized profusely, as he should have.

No comment was forthcoming from buckwheat-addled NewsMax.

* * *

The latest spin on the California governor's race: it was "lackluster." A Nov. 6 story claims this, as does an Nov. 9 NewsMax column by "88 years young" George Putnam -- both stories have nearly identical headlines.

One suspects CNS and Putnam would have found it less "lackluster" had the Republican candidate won. Then again, CNS and NewsMax were too busy trying to ignore said candidate's screw-ups.

* * *

WorldNetDaily seems to have gotten over one of its snits.

In its Nov. 23 "Backroom" e-mail newsletter, WND proudly relates the recent inclusion of one of its articles in James Taranto's "Best of the Web" weekday column at Opinion Journal, the web site of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page.

That would appear to be an all-is-forgiven sign for Taranto's severe criticism of WND for for running a commentary by Anthony LoBaido in which he basically states that New York is a cradle of filth and deserved to be attacked by terrorists. (This article appeared two days after the 9/11 attacks.) "WND's honcho, Joseph Farah, ought to hang his head in shame for publishing this obscene anti-American screed," wrote Taranto at the time. Farah at the time defended WND's running of the article, then took a shot at Taranto: "Indeed, some, in the post-Sept. 11 climate might consider him a purveyor of obscenity for his newspaper's official, party-line, somewhat extreme position in favor of open borders."

This incident may have been the impetus for a June article by Paul Sperry denouncing the Wall Street Journal's news operation (which is completely separate from its conservative editorial pages) as pro-Clinton and, even worse, pro-homosexual.

Another sign all is forgiven: The original link to LoBaido's article now returns a 404 error. (So much for supporting your writers.) LoBaido hasn't stopped writing for WND, though; he's apparently in South Africa, and a Nov. 17 article tries to explain how "most thinking and unbiased South Africa watchers" agree that whites opposed to the African National Congress-run government aren't really right-wingers trying to overthrow it, even as his article has a undeniable anti-ANC slant.

* * *

One more thing: Given the state of its financials, NewsMax is perhaps the last organization that should be gloating over's reportedly imminent demise, as it does yet again in a Nov. 22 article.

And speaking of those financials, there have been no further filings of substance with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding NewsMax Media's proposed stock offering since its original filings more than eight months ago. Is this a sign that the IPO is off?

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