Slanties 2008: Book of Slants
Who are the year's most egregious violators of truth, fairness and sanity on the ConWeb? We honor the worst.
By Terry Krepel
So without further ado, let's get started.
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Our first award is for the most egregious example of bias in a "news" story. The nominees are:
-- WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh, for writing about a German homeschooling case by talking to only one side (the homeschoolers') and not only failing to even contact the other side for a response but likening homeschooling opponents to Nazis. That was but one example of the unbalanced reporting Unruh engaged in last year -- a violation of journalistic ethics we're pretty sure he didn't learn from the Associated Press, where he worked before joining WND. Other notable reporting missteps by Unruh include accepting at face value claims about anti-gay protesters made by WND columnist Janet Folger without telling the full story, as well as repeating without question a claim from a gun-rights group regarding a man the group was holding up as a poster boy against more restrictive gun laws -- right down to getting the man's name wrong -- without investigating the story, which turned out to be something other than what the group (and Unruh) portrayed.
-- The staff of CNSNews.com, for taking a more biased turn under new management. The death of David Thibault (who had his own problems with bias) resulted in the hiring of Terry Jeffrey, formerly of Human Events, as CNS' new editor in chief -- and a renewal of old, biased habits. One article asserted that because Sen. Hillary Clinton didn't vote for an amendment condemning a MoveOn.org ad critical of Gen. David Petraeus, "she refused to support Gen. Petraeus or condemn the personal attacks on him"; a series of articles appeared to be designed to snare Democratic members of Congress in gotcha questions; three articles were devoted in large part to bashing Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize, which quoted eight "critics of Al Gore" and "skeptics of man-made climate change" but made no apparent effort to contact Gore or any supporter of his.
-- Newsmax's Ronald Kessler, for going so far into the tank for Mitt Romney that he penned a creepy love letter to Romney's wife: "She has the look of an outdoors woman bred to be an equestrian, which she is good carriage, rosy complexion, square jaw, and blond mane. When she is not flashing her truly unbelievable smile, she may lower her eyes demurely. But Ann Romney is not demure she may be modest, but she isn’t meek. She is unpretentious, but she isn’t shy. She lowers her eyes, thinking, and then looks up directly at her interviewer and dazzles him with that smile." Mr. Romney got the same treatment; Romney called him "low-key, self-assured, and self-contained, " adding, "Women - who will play a critical role in this coming election - have a word for him: hot."
-- WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein, a Slantie winner last year, for his continued bias in reporting on the Middle East. Klein furthered his campaign of whitewashing right-wing Israeli extremists by portraying right-wing activists making a political statement by squatting in Hebron as everyday Israelis being unfairly evicted by the mean Israeli government. Klein also parlayed his purported talks with Palestinian terrorists -- who just happen to unfailingly say things that reinforce conservative talking points -- into a book, never apparently considering the possibility that he is, in fact, being used by those terrorists for their own purposes.
-- Catherine Moy, who hates Media Matters more than she cares about fair and balanced journalism. Moy -- a buddy of right-wing activist Melanie Morgan -- wrote a distortion-filled attack on Media Matters (my employer) and promoted a so-called journalist, Andy Martin, who filed a lawsuit against it (and me) without ever going back to report that the suit was essentially laughed out of court (twice). If Moy were truly the "award-winning journalist" she claims to be, she would have told her readers the full, and true, story.
-- WorldNetDaily's Art Moore, for being the go-to guy for anyone with dirt on the Clintons and a dubious past that needs to be whitewashed for maximum media palatability. A longtime sycophant of Peter Paul -- repeating his accusations against the Clintons while curiously failing to mention the fact that Paul is an admitted felon currently awaiting sentencing on a $25 million stock fraud scheme -- Moore added Kathleen Willey to his client list, promoting her anti-Clinton accusations as unquestioned fact while failing to note her history of contradictory claims and outright lies.
And the winner is ... WorldNetDaily's Bob Unruh. What pushed him over the top is the fact that he knows better to engage in the shoddy reporting he does. Does Unruh think that working at WND makes him exempt from the rules of basic fairness and ethics he learned (or should have, anyway) as an employee of the Associated Press? It appears so.
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Our next award is the LoBaido Award for the silliest statement made by a writer for a conservative news Web site (named after Anthony LoBaido, who wrote a post-9/11 column for WorldNetDaily that was so unhinged -- he blamed the attacks on America's immorality since "all that is evil in the world can be found in New York" and, for good measure, called Hillary Clinton "openly Marxist, treasonous and abortion-mongering, occultic" -- WND eventually pulled it from its site). Our nominees:
-- "Maybe the question should not be whether Jesus and the devil are related, but Hillary and the devil. I mean, let's face it, when you talk about the characteristics of Satan, they seem similar in a lot of ways to folks closely watching the actions of the Clintons. ... There is no evidence that Satan and Jesus are brothers. Their words, actions and desires are completely opposite of each other. But, at the very least, one can build a strong circumstantial case that Hillary and Satan could well be siblings." -- Craig R. Smith, Dec. 15 WorldNetDaily column.
-- "[T]he media were jumping on the $100-barrel bandwagon, warning Americans the worst was ahead. ... It has been six weeks since that warning. Oil hasn’t hit $100 a barrel, and the retail price of gasoline is a little more than $3 a gallon." -- Jeff Poor, Dec. 3 Business & Media Institute item and NewsBusters post. Unmentioned by Poor: Crude oil peaked at $99.29, or just 71 cents below $100, during the six-week period he cited.
-- "Not a word about Islamofascists trying to blow us all up, though. Nothing about bin Laddenists cutting off people’s heads, women being stoned, young girls being murdered with 'honor killings,' or homosexuals being summarily executed from our pals the Eagles! I guess they have forgotten about 9/11 and our enemies in radical Islam like so many of their ilk." -- Warner Todd Huston, voicing his displeasure with the lyrical content of the new Eagles album, Nov. 5 NewsBusters post.
-- "Over the last couple weeks, once again, I've seen WorldNetDaily referred to in all the major media as a 'conservative website' or as a 'conservative news site.' I can't help but scratch my head for two reasons over this knee-jerk description: How could something I created be "conservative" when I reject the label?" -- Joseph Farah, apparently unaware that people can make logical conclusions from reading his website, Nov. 2 WND column.
-- "Will we allow our kids to believe it would be perfectly appropriate for the headmaster of any school to be homosexual? After all, many teachers in public schools are now homosexual. Some elite private schools do have homosexual headmasters." -- Linda Harvey on the revelation that Dumbledore, the Hogwarts Academy headmaster in the Harry Potter books, is apparently gay, Oct. 24 WND column.
-- "America is still quite friendly towards Jews, but the incessant attacks on Christianity by the likes of [Donny] Deutsch, [National Jewish Democratic Council executive director Ira] Forman and [Anti-Defamation League head] Abe Foxman have grown increasingly tiresome. Given this irritating behavior, and the historical fact that Jews have worn out their welcome in literally dozens of countries over the centuries, it is the height of foolishness for a small number of misguided individuals to demand that 80 percent of the American population remain silent about the tenets of its religious faith." -- Vox Day, Oct. 15 WND column.
-- "MSNBC's Chuck Todd posted a blog post today on his First Read blog titled 'George Allen, Liz Cheney to Spin for Thompson.' So, any takers to wonder if Chuck Todd would have posted a blog post titled 'Sandy Berger to Spin for Clinton,' or 'Oprah to Spin for Obama'? Does anyone think that Chuck Todd would have used such a negative word as 'spin' to describe the assistance a high profile supporter would give a Democrat candidate?" -- Warner Todd Huston, offended that any supporter of Fred Thompson would be described as doing something so gauche as spinning in the post-debate spin room, Oct. 8 NewsBusters post.
-- "In actuality, the pro-life movement is the most peaceful social justice movement in American history." -- Jill Stanek, Oct. 3 WorldNetDaily column. Barnett Slepian, David Gunn, Robert Sanderson and Emily Lyons may beg to differ.
-- "Gore's army of in-crowd zealots are in precisely the same position the pro-eugenics in-crowd occupied when they convinced Hitler's government to implement the policies necessary to advance their point of view. Should Gore's army prevail, the consequences will take longer than Hitler's violence but the end result will be quite similar: The destruction of a significant portion of society." -- Henry Lamb, Aug. 11 WND column.
-- "The problem [of gay sex in public restrooms] is worse than they are willing to admit, and it's not just in Ft. Lauderdale. Dr. E. Fields, in his book 'Is Homosexual Activity Normal?', reveals '41 percent of homosexuals say they have had sex with strangers in public restrooms.' " -- Janet Folger, July 24 column. Folger later retracted this claim after it was pointed out to her that Fields is a neo-Nazi activist.
-- "Ann [Romney] is warm and very natural. She has the look of an outdoors woman bred to be an equestrian, which she is good carriage, rosy complexion, square jaw, and blond mane. When she is not flashing her truly unbelievable smile, she may lower her eyes demurely. But Ann Romney is not demure she may be modest, but she isn’t meek. She is unpretentious, but she isn’t shy. She lowers her eyes, thinking, and then looks up directly at her interviewer and dazzles him with that smile." -- Ronald Kessler, May 23 Newsmax article.
-- "If young Gore [Al Gore III] is found guilty of this third-on-his-record alleged lawbreaking, the driving at 100 miles an hour while using pot and transporting a small drug store must beg the question: Did Scooter Libby do anything as potentially dangerous to his fellow citizens as Al Gore the Third?" -- Les Kinsolving, grasping for moral equivalency in a July 10 WND column.
-- "If Justice [Clarence] Thomas is truly a great man, as I contend here, then why is he so hated by his own people? Like Prometheus, Elijah, David, Socrates, Jesus, St. Augustine, Galileo, Beethoven, Wilberforce, Booker T. Washington, Einstein, Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa and other iconoclasts, Justice Thomas refused to stay on the plantation or have his mind shackled by political mediocrities, subservient thinking or slavish liberal orthodoxy." -- Ellis Washington, June 23 WND column.
-- "I'm a Canadian, and we don't have an "illegal alien" problem. However, we suffer from something just as bad a form of Anglo-Saxon self-hatred. We call it multiculturalism. This is the politically correct way of saying white, English-speaking culture is bad." -- Tristan Emmanuel, June 22 WND column.
-- "Of course, the fact that [New York Times Co. CEO] Pinch [Sulzburger] deliberately steers his paper in a leftward direction is what makes his corporate control a non-issue in the eyes of the left. The fact is the Bancrofts [then-controlling owners of the Dow Jones Co., publishers of the Wall Street Journal] have been unique in the newspaper business in keeping a hands-off policy for media empire. It's also why I have refrained from criticizing their similarly cushy stock arrangement which gives them control of Dow Jones." -- Matthew Sheffield, admitting his double standard in a June 6 NewsBusters post.
-- "The media hates to report anything from eastern Europe because they love America, George W. Bush and America's pro-liberation policy." -- Barry Farber, May 29 Newsmax column.
-- "I like to think of myself as someone who gathers all of the facts, along with some educated opinions, before I formulate my stance on things." -- Frank Salvato, in an April 20 Newsmax column in which he has decided that the last name of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho is "Hui."
-- "The sad fact is that homosexuals, by and large, are on the far-left fringes of American politics and many bear a grudge against a society that they feel has been discriminating against them. John Barron's classic book about the activities of the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB, noted that homosexuals were targeted for recruitment because many led secret lives and were susceptible to blackmail, but also because they were perceived to harbor ill will toward their government because of how shabbily they thought they had been treated. As such, they were considered ripe for picking to the anti-American cause. It is noteworthy that the founder of the gay rights movement, Harry Hay, was a Communist." -- Cliff Kincaid, April 7 Accuracy in Media column.
-- "It is in Hillary’s masochistic nature that once an abusive man apologizes or sweet-talks or threatens or charms or wields his real power, she will cave. When such a tyrant promises her even a smidgen, it is safe to say that she will stop representing the women and men and children of America and instead be in his thrall. Historically, she has been there, done that." -- Former Newsmax columnist Joan Swirsky, in a Jan. 29 column at the website Family Security Matters.
-- "[Keith] Olbermann is proof that one need not be worthy of what we term "fame" today. In days gone by he would have been scorned as "infamous" and would not be celebrated as a celebrity or be awarded any measure of "fame." No one would want to be like him and no one would admit to watching him, either." -- Warner Todd Huston, Jan. 22 NewsBusters post.
And the winner is ... Newsmax's Ronald Kessler. As noted earlier, his creepy love letter to Mitt Romney's wife is merely the most fawning piece of Romney sycophancy he has written over the past year.
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Our final award of the evening is the Blog Botch Award, for the most misleading post on the Media Research Center's NewsBusters blog. While there was some strong competition from Noel Sheppard for his record of bamboozlement on the subject of global warming (and other subjects) and Warner Todd Huston for just plain ol' whacked-out commentary, this year's winner is Mark Finkelstein for his series of posts that repeatedly took MSNBC's Chris Matthews (among others) out of context and otherwise misrepresented his views. Finkelstein seems to be behaving himself these days, but his misrepresentations remain egregious and, thus, Slantie-worthy.
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This concludes the evening's festivities. Step gingerly around the strikers, drive safely and, since the ConWeb is pretty much guaranteed to keep on spouting goofy stuff and violating basic journalistic standards, we'll see you again next year.