Update: Not Quite Over the Moon
The ConWeb rushes to the defense of the Washington Times and try to distance themselves from its owner. Plus: Another slanted story about judicial nominees, a WorldNetDaily columnist's "ticking time bomb" fizzles out, a Slantie Award front-runner, and more.
By Terry Krepel
If you thought publicity surrounding a ceremony at a Senate office building at which Sun Myung Moon was crowned as messiah would make the ConWeb question their business ties or their moral support for Moon-owned publications like the Washington Times, think again.
Despite an initial spasm of disapproval at WorldNetDaily, ConWeb writers have put on their hypocrisy helmets and begun to rally around the Times while trying to distance themselves from Moon.
As ConWebWatch reported earlier, WND's Joseph Farah attempted to raise a few hackles over the event, but he has done nothing since. In the meantime, fact-challenged WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving has rushed to fill the void, declaring in a July 3 column that "the fact that the Washington Times was founded by ex-convict and cult leader Sun Myung Moon should not detract from the fact that this daily newspaper has become one of this nation's most influential, and on Capitol Hill, most widely read daily newspapers."
Anyone reporting on that bizarre ceremony is taking part in an "apparent effort to embarrass the Washington Times with the bizarre behavior of its founder,' Kinsolving further states. "Will either of these liberal dailies ever report (editor Wesley) Pruden's contract guaranteeing editorial freedom? That is not likely." Though probably more likely than Kinsolving reporting on the Times' practice of "prudenizing," reworking reporters' copy so that it fits the conservative slant its editor (and presumably its owner) likes.
(Also missing in action at WND, by the way, is any mention of the current status of WND's business relationship with Moon's publications -- a content-sharing agreement with Insight magazine and the appearance of Farah's column in the Times' weekly national edition. We haven't noticed any Insight articles at WND lately, but that may have more to do with cuts at Insight than any act of conscience on WND's part.)
NewsMax also rushes to the defense of "the nation's most respected conservative daily," regurgitating in a July 3 piece a Wall Street Journal op-ed asserting that the Times has editorial independence.
So, according to Kinsolving and NewsMax, we are not to judge an organization by who owns it. So where does that leave the French boycott effort that NewsMax in particular was such a big part of when the Iraq war broke out? After all, boycotts demand that we not patronize organizations because of the behavior or affiliations of their owners. We weren't supposed to buy, say, Car and Driver magazine or RCA TV sets because their owners were a bunch of terrorist-coddling surrender monkeys.
Remember, this is the ConWeb -- moral standards are highly subjective.
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CNSNews.com comes up with its own take on the Moon controversy in the form of a July 1 story by Sarah Junk that is mostly a straightforward account of Moon officials defending the "coronation." One interesting note: It's mentioned that Moon owns the Washington Times, but Junk felt no need describe it as "conservative," like CNS did in dropping the word "liberal" twice around the name of the New York Times.
Continuing to go unexamined anywhere on the ConWeb, needless to say, is any substantive look at Moon, which perhaps ought to include a Unification Church ceremony, detailed by Moon-watcher John Gorenfeld, in which a cross is thrown in the trash as "a symbol of division, shame, suffering and bloodshed prove that it is not of God but Satan." You'd think that would bother good Christians like Farah and those who run the ConWeb.
CNSNews.com offers up a couple more slanted stories on judicial nominees, starting with a July 2 piece on James Leon Holmes, nominated to a federal district court seat in Arkansas. While the article by Robert Bluey starts out by pointing out that Republican senators need to be turned in order for Holmes' nomination to pass the Senate, he blames Holmes' stalled nomination on "repeated Democratic attacks on the issue of women's rights" despite the fact that Arkansas' two senators, both Democrats, do not oppose his nomination. It has nothing to do with anything Holmes himself has done, all he did, according to the Catholic League spokesman Bluey quotes, is refer to the Bible -- specifically, write in an published article that "the wife is to subordinate herself to the husband" and "the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man."
What Bluey neglects to report is also significant to why the reaction to Holmes is tepid even among Republicans, and that would be what happened to Holmes in the Senate Judiciary Committee. His nomination made it out of the committee on a straight party-line vote (the Republican having more votes, of course), but without a recommendation of approval.
Bluey, in shades of CNS' whitewashing of Otto Reich, also fails to report the other thing Holmes' critics have a problem with -- he is on record as stating that "concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami."
These are both important points that are key to understanding the opposition to Holmes. Why didn't Bluey put them in his article?
He's not alone. CNS' Susan Jones, in her July 7 follow-up story on the Senate vote to confirm Holmes, dispenses with all examples of Holmes' previous statements, plays up quotes about "character assassination" and "anti-Catholic bigotry" and presents as a statement of fact that "liberal groups" are "determined to block any and all conservative, pro-life candidates."
Another July 7 story by Jones about judicial confirmations quotes Jeffrey Mazzella, executive director of the Center for Individual Freedom, as saying that "Our federal courts are short a whopping 49 judges." Jones fails to mention that at this same point four years ago, in July 2000, there were 60 judicial vacancies.
Jones also neglects to point out that Mazzella's complaints about "obstruction" of Bush nominees conflicts with the fact that 198 Bush judicial nominations have been confirmed -- 98 percent of all Bush nominees -- which is ahead of the pace set in the eight-year Clinton administration.
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Kevin McCullough was practically salivating in his July 2 WorldNetDaily column at the prospect of perusing through John Kerry's divorce files.
"[W]ith what is already publicly known about the tortured marriage between Sen. John Kerry and his first wife Julia Stimson Thorne, there is reason to believe that where there's smoke, there's fire," he wrote.
What tortured stuff is McCullough talking about? "What kind of man leaves his wife, but especially when she is in the midst of suicidal depression?" he asks. Um, he didn't; if McCullough had done any research at all beyond a single Washington Times article (like, say, at ConWebWatch), he would have learned that Julia Thorne left Kerry, not the other way around. (That Times article link was provided by McCullough himself, the article is reposted at a site called MoveOnNow.org, which claims to want to "Stop The Name-Calling & Nasty, Contentious Dialogue," yet the site is filled with name-calling and nasty, contentious dialogue toward Democrats. Sample: "Clinton's legacy is enough to make many an American democrat rethink his position on electing a democrat with little more than yet another JFK-style hairdo."
Another important thing McCullough would have learned if he had done any research at all is that nearly all Kerry's divorce records are already public.
McCullough's "ticking time bomb" was defused long before he declared it was armed.
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We have a front-runner for next year's Slantie Award for silliest statement by a columnist.
He is Steven Baskerville, who wrote an amazingly paranooid July 1 WorldNetDaily commentary titled "Could Your Children Be Given to Gay Parents?" Among the content: "Governments that kind-heartedly bestow other people's children on homosexual couples also have both the power and the motivation to confiscate those children from their original parents, even when the parents have done nothing to warrant losing them."
Baskerville, as World O'Crap and Bartholomew remind us, is a leading figure in the so-called fathers rights movement, which claims there is a conspiracy among courts and government social services workers to keep fathers from having contact with their children but in reality seems to be more about demonizing their exes and trying to get out of paying child support.
The ConWeb does rather like Baskerville. He penned a 2001 WND piece which asserts, among other things, that "A massive divorce industry is finding it increasingly easy and lucrative to simply eliminate fathers from their families with no show of wrongdoing and seize control of their children." He gets a favorable mention in a 2002 opinion piece by Paul Craig Roberts posted at NewsMax, which insists that "For most men, divorce and its aftermath are a Gestapo experience." And one of seven opinion pieces by Baskerville posted by CNSNews.com in 2002 blames Washington D.C. sniper John Muhammad's shooting spree on losing custody of his kids: "John Muhammad's apparent descent into criminality was rapid after the courts took his children."
Baskerville seems to be the man to beat this year. But we're only halfway through 2004, and there's a presidential election going on.