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The ConWeb's Glass House

WorldNetDaily, NewsMax and the MRC should acknowledge their own Jayson Blair-like credibility problems before beating up on the New York Times.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/20/2003

The Jayson Blair plagiarism-and-lies scandal has given the ConWeb yet another excuse to criticize the New York Times -- not that the ConWeb needs a reason to beat up on one of its favorite "liberal media" bogeymen.

"For many years the Times has been the voice of the radical left, straining to interpret events to fit its ultra-liberal creed," rages NewsMax's Phil Brennan. "It is a propaganda sheet for ultra-left wing causes and the liberal wing of the Democrat Party. It should be treated as such," asserts another NewsMax story.

When it wasn't assailing the Times' alleged liberal tendencies, the ConWeb was blaming (to borrow from the Daily Howler) that ol' debbil affirmative action for letting Blair ascend as far at the paper as he did before his misdeeds forced his firing. WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah claims that the Times is to blame "by making 'diversity' a higher ideal than accuracy or good journalism. "It’s time to ask whether Blair would have ever been promoted into the position where he caused maximum damage if race wasn’t a factor in his career," thunders the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell. He adds, "Another real diversity problem remains unaddressed by the Times: the utter lack of conservative reporters," despite the fact that he has no evidence beyond one apparently 20-year-old anecdote (an author who claims that "he knew of only one other Reagan voter in the entire Times newsroom") to demonstrate this.

A May 14 WorldNetDaily story by Paul Sperry tries to be shocked that the Times doesn't require its reporters to have a college degree. But as the biography of WND reporter Jon Dougherty reveals, one doesn't have to have a journalism background to get a reporter job there.

The Blair scandal has also given something of a boost to the MRC's "Times Watch" Web site, started in March as a sort of Times-bashing central. Two promo lines on the site's front page say all one needs to know: "Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Political Agenda of the New York Times" and "As heard on the Rush Limbaugh Show." Then again, you'd think that if the Times is as biased as the MRC wants you to believe it is, Times Watch writer Clay Waters would be able to find more examples of it than the three or four per weekday he typically cites. (And many of those are columns and editorials were opinions, liberal or otherwise, are permitted.) That's only a small fraction of the number of stories in any given edition of the Times. And one could just easily believe there are just as many daily examples of a bias toward conservatives in the Times as well. Of course, Waters won't tell you about them because that's not what Brent Bozell is paying him to do.

And then there are all the mentions of long-dead Walter Duranty, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Times in the 1930s despite, as WorldNetDaily's Les Kinsolving summarizes, "repeatedly den(ing) that Stalin's Red Army had starved several million Ukrainians to death." Keep this 70-year-old grudge in mind the next time conservatives try to dismiss as irrelevant ancient history something like, oh, George W. Bush's military record.

Lest the ConWeb start feeling superior to the Times during its current credibility crisis -- as WorldNetDaily's Vox Day puts it, "We of the right ... have had to be sharper, harder, faster and more accurate from the very beginning" -- let's review some of the credibility problems that ConWebWatch has documented over the past three years that go beyond the overall tilted coverage they are known for:

  • Jayson Blair-style plagiarism at WorldNetDaily, which last December put most of an Associated Press story under a WND byline without attribution.
  • More plagiarism at NewsMax, which in 2000 ran several Judicial Watch press releases virtually unedited under NewsMax bylines.
  • False reporting by NewsMax's Christopher Ruddy, who cited anonymous tabloid sources in December 2000 in writing that the Clintons were selling their New York house.
  • Slanted editing at NewsMax, which has a habit of rewriting stories from its wire service, Unification Church-owned United Press International, to add a pro-conservative, anti-liberal taint.
  • As much as conservatives have complained about the Times' crusade to end the males-only membership at the Augusta National Country Club -- "attack ads disguised as news," as Pat Buchanan once described it in a WorldNetDaily column -- the ConWeb engages in journalistic crusades as well, like WorldNetDaily's effort to portray James Kopp as unjustly accused in the killing of a New York abortion doctor, including a seven-part series on the subject by Jack Cashill. Problem is, Kopp later admitted to the killing ... and WND couldn't be bothered to devote any original reporting to that.
  • The MRC (along with the rest of the ConWeb) had to resort to evidence-free personal attacks on David Brock to try and discredit him after the publication of his book "Blinded by the Right." The MRC's Brent Baker claimed at one point that "Everyone who was quoted in it says Brock was wrong," yet no credible claims to that effect have surfaced to this day, even among conservatives. The bitterness extended to nonsensical extremes -- even after demonstrating he told the truth about an appearance on the Fox News Channel, it painted him as a liar anyway.
  • Slanted reporters whose work somehow meets the journalistic standards of their employers. WND's Jon Dougherty, master of the one-source story and ignoring evidence that doesn't fit his preconceived biases, and CNSNews' Jim Burns, who has trouble telling the whole truth about Otto Reich, are but two examples.
  • The entire ConWeb, per Republican marching orders, perpetuated stories about Al Gore's "lies" -- "inventing" the Internet, "discovering" Love Canal, being models for "Love Story" -- long after the "lies" had been proven to be lies themselves.

NewsMax, WND, the MRC and have never acknowledged these journalistic blunders, let alone apologize for them. Even WND columnists Paul Sperry and Kyle Williams, who repeated a lie that former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay stayed overnight at the Clinton White House, couldn't do something as simple as publicly correcting the record after even the Washington Times did so.

What we get instead from the ConWeb just more liberal- and Times-bashing. A May 14 NewsMax article accuses Times columnist Maureen Dowd of distorting a quote from President Bush, but NewsMax itself did that one better a couple years back: it doctored a quote from a newspaper article to make it look like Enron's Lay did stay overnight at Camp David. And what newspaper did NewsMax pull that quote from? The New York Times.

Sounds like Jayson Blair could get a job at NewsMax -- or anywhere else on the ConWeb.

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