The satirical newspaper The Onion is generally non-political and at times it has had some good conservatively-slanted humor pieces, like this gem from April 2009. But when it comes to the ongoing violence in Israel, The Onion has just proved it doesn't have many layers of complexity.
On Friday's Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, as noted at HonestReporting.com, host Cooper devoted a one-minute segment to informing viewers that his show on Thursday had used footage of a Palestinian man in Gaza who was apparently faking injury for the benefit of cameras. Cooper began his retraction:
A video at CNN with reporting by Sara Sidner from Gaza tells us "how a small child became a symbol of civilian casualties." Some of her narrative: "A scene no parent should ever have to endure"; "Four year-old Mahmoud Sadallah lies dead in the arms of a neighbor, a child of Gaza, another victim of an airstrike"; "we saw no evidence here of military activity." There's even a scene where Ms. Sidner reports having to flee where she is currently reporting because "there are airstrikes" and "rockets." Since Hamas doesn't have an air force, we're supposed to assume that Israel's military is responsible for Mahmoud's death.
Except, as Joel Pollak at Breitbart noted this morning, others have shown that Sidner wants us to believe isn't the truth (bolds are mine throughout this post; links are in originals presented):
Liberals unwittingly bolstered the concept that they have no sense of humor on Wednesday, when several people responded angrily to a rumor that if he's elected to the White House, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney would outlaw the sale and use of tampons.
The incident began when a poster named Lexi Johnson stated on the Twitter website that the Republican official would ban the use of the medical device because "it is unnnatural for a woman to insert a foreign object into here body for the sake of stopping the menstrual flow."
If this is how Dan Rather at peace looks like, wonder what he's like when angry and embittered . . .
On Morning Joe today, Rather emphatically alleged that he was "at peace" over the Memogate fiasco that led to the end of his career. But he couldn't help himself from suggesting that his reputation had been destroyed by anonymous partisans employing "lies." View the video after the jump.
Mike Daisey shamelessly lied about Apple's abuse of factory workers in China on stage, which was then picked up by the trendy public-radio show "This American Life," which airs on many NPR stations. It caused a black eye for NPR (by their one-degree association), but The Washington Post has proclaimed Daisey's "voice" is too important to shame off the stage.
Post theatre critic Peter Marks announced Sunday that "after days of wrestling with what’s been found to be Daisey’s dysfunctional relationship with candor, when I have felt angry and a bit betrayed — you put your own reputation on the line when you embrace someone else’s in a review — I’ve settled on a sense of solidarity with Shalwitz." That's Howard Shalwitz, artistic director of Washington's Woolly Mammoth theater, which plans to put "dysfunctional" Daisey back in the spotlight.
The New York Times provided decent front-page coverage of the emerging scandal that took down top executives at National Public Radio, a hidden-camera sting that caught top fundraiser Ron Schiller making prejudicial remarks against Republicans in general and the Tea Party movement in particular. The backlash resulted in the resignation of Ron Schiller as well as NPR President and chief executive Vivian Schiller (no relation).
But Times media reporter Jeremy Peters took an incomplete look at the recent rash of hidden-camera hoaxes on Saturday under the strongly worded headline “Partisans Adopt Deceit As a Tactic for Reports.” Peters falsely implied that "gotcha" journalism had faded from view, ignoring two recent examples in the mainstream media, one from NPR itself.
On Sunday, New York Times political reporter/columnist Matt Bai wondered if we are at the start of a “terrifying new” moment in political violence in “A Turning Point in the Discourse, but in Which Direction?” Bai argued that the act of Republican politicians saying standard political things was somehow fueling the rhetorical flames.
He at least appeared evenhanded at the beginning.
Within minutes of the first reports Saturday that Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and a score of people with her had been shot in Tucson, pages began disappearing from the Web. One was Sarah Palin’s infamous “cross hairs” map from last year, which showed a series of contested Congressional districts, including Ms. Giffords’s, with gun targets trained on them. Another was from Daily Kos, the liberal blog, where one of the congresswoman’s apparently liberal constituents declared her “dead to me” after Ms. Giffords voted against Nancy Pelosi in House leadership elections last week.
The Washington Post has repeatedly featured a full-page ad in recent days for a Get Motivated! Business Seminar in Washington in October. One of the big names at the event (alongside Colin Powell, Steve Forbes, and Rudy Giuliani) is disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather, teaching "How to Communicate Effectively." Then the ad copy gets ridiculous:
Dan Rather, Legendary News Anchor and Journalist, has covered every major story of the last 50 years, with distinction and a fierce dedication to hard news. He is always ready to deliver the truth the way it is! [Emphasis mine.]
Hello, Better Business Bureau? Someone's misleading the public about Dan Rather's record of "distinction" in trying to sell fraudulent documents about President George W. Bush's military service in the fall of 2004. His "fierce dedication" wasn't to hard news. When his story was exposed as phony, he refused to admit he'd mangled the truth.
The Poynter Institute welcomed disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather to share his thoughts on his long career and on the media in general this week. In an interview with Poynter's Mallary Tenore, he complained "So often, particularly covering politics, enterprises that describe themselves as journalistic enterprises, and journalists who describe themselves as journalists, in fact just become transmission belts."
That's exactly what Poynter's interview was, a transmission belt for Rather's lamest hits, including how the press needs a "spine transplant" and his shameless insistence that his phony-documents Texas Air National Guard story is still true. If Poynter cared about the reputation of journalism, why continue to entertain and spread doubt about the falsehood of Rather's most atrocious "scoop"?
The only thing fresh here is Rather's growing socialism, as he insists (just like Bill Moyers) that money is corrupting politics and the government needs to break some alleged media monopoly where only four mega-corporations distribute most of America's news:
An April Fools prank designed to trick bloggers into running with a contrived story ended up snaring the Gray Lady.
New York attorney Eric Terkewitz told his blog's readers on April 1 that he had been hired as the White House's "official law blogger." Unlike the political bloggers at which the stunt was aimed, the New York Times apparently did not check the claim, and posted the story to its website.
The incident serves as a reminder that, as journos like to say, "if your mother says she loves you, check it out."
Salon columnist Max Blumenthal continues to get flak for his slanderous, factually-challenged hit piece on conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe last week. The column, premised on a host of omissions and baseless assumptions, contended that O'Keefe's is a racist.
Blumenthal's latest critic is Columbia Journalism Review, Old Media's paragon of journalistic elitism. CJR has requested that he correct but one of the many errors that comprise his column.
But CJR really has a problem, it seems, that Blumenthal has given ammunition to critics who claim Old Media is rife with liberal bias. CJR contributor Greg Marx lamented that Blumenthal and other quasi-journalists, in ignoring facts to support their agendas,give "ready-made ammunition for that broader campaign."
A former war correspondent for CNN is threatening legal action against bloggers who suggest that video of him reporting the first Gulf War from a television studio is "fake news." The video shows Charles Jaco and another correspondent dramatically recounting events from the Persian Gulf, and later shows Jaco and the camera crew joking around in what appears to be a television studio (video embedded below the fold).
"My attorneys intend to act immediately against those of you receiving this who have sent and forwarded these emails accusing me of falsifying coverage," Jaco wrote in a memo to a local blogger who circulated the video via email. He also announced his intention to demand that LiveLink and YouTube remove the video from their respective sites.
In a Monday interview on MediaBistro.com’s weekly video series Media Beat, disgraced former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather shared his concerns over the credibility of internet journalism: “The difficulty with some of the things on the internet...is transparency and accountability about who’s responsible for what’s on.”
TVNewser.com columnist Gail Shister sparked the discussion by asking Rather: “Are you concerned at all that there is the absence of quality control when it comes to so much of the modern platforms?” Rather went on to fret: “...you can put something on the internet that’s really terrible about your neighbor or about a friend or a competitor and it’s almost impossible to find out who the source is. And you can say anything about them. That part of it troubles me.”
Rather of course ended his tenure at CBS after using fraudulent documents to smear President George W. Bush just days before the 2004 presidential election. He showed little concern for accountability and proper sourcing as he used fabricated memos to claim that Bush had gone AWOL while serving in the Texas Air National Guard in the 1970s.
Fake but accurate rides again! The same lame defense Dan Rather used in Memogate has been trotted out on ClimateGate by Columbia Univ. Prof. Jeffrey Sachs.
Appearing on Morning Joe today, the author of Common Wealth [note play on words: your money is our money] alleged that the real victims in this scandal are . . . the number-fudging scientists.People are attempting to "Swiftboat" those poor CRU guys, sighed Sachs. For good measure, the good professor asserted that what the fudgesters did "is not a very big deal."
Give Ed Schultz credit for something: on his MSNBC show this evening, he hosted an amusing smackdown between Barney Frank and Ralph Nader, perhaps the two most morose public men in America. For once, Barney was attacked from the left. The gist of Ralph's rebuke was that Frank hasn't gone far enough in regulating the financial industry.
Frank was finally so provoked that he claimed/admitted that when it comes to regulation, Democrats are "trying on every front to increase the role of government."
One could almost predict the desperately "current" New York Times editor/columnist Frank Rich would devote his Sunday column to try and make Balloon Boy an anti-Republican symbol of something or other, and he doesn't disappoint.
The result, "In Defense of the ‘Balloon Boy' Dad," is even more silly than Rich's usual fare, playing devil's advocate for storm-chasing father Richard Heene. Rich found "some poignancy in [Heene's] determination to grab what he and many others see as among the last accessible scraps of the American dream....If Heene's balloon was empty, so were the toxic financial instruments, inflated by the thin air of unsupported debt, that cratered the economy he inhabits." Rich is being serious.
Certainly the "balloon boy" incident is a reflection of our time -- much as the radio-induced "War of the Worlds" panic dramatized America's jitters on the eve of World War II, or the national preoccupation with the now-forgotten Congressman Gary Condit signaled America's pre-9/11 drift into escapism and complacency in the summer of 2001. But to see what "balloon boy" says about 2009, you have to look past the sentimental moral absolutes. You have to muster some sympathy for the devil of the piece, the Bad Dad.
Nine months into Obama's presidency, everything is still officially about Bush:
Next to the other hoaxes and fantasies that have been abetted by the news media in recent years, both the "balloon boy" and Chamber of Commerce ruses are benign. The Colorado balloon may have led to the rerouting of flights and the wasteful deployment of law enforcement resources. But at least it didn't lead the country into fiasco the way George W. Bush's flyboy spectacle on an aircraft carrier helped beguile most of the Beltway press and too much of the public into believing that the mission had been accomplished in Iraq.
Disgraced former CBS anchorman Dan Rather continues to make the rounds, trying to rehabilitate his image and paint himself as a man wronged by an overcorporatized, politically neutralized media structure. That's no longer surprising. But why would schools of journalism gloss right over his embrace of fabricated National Guard records in 2004? Viviana Aldous at The Daily Texan reported on Rather's Thursday appearance at the University of Texas in Austin:
“Journalism continues to weather its profound changes as it transits into its digital future,” said Tracy Dahlby, director of the School of Journalism. “Rather has spent six decades getting the job done, telling people things they need to know about their world they otherwise wouldn’t. He’s done it with courage, style, wit and occasionally the controversy that [often] comes [with being a] journalist.”
Is Tracy Dahlby really expressing an opinion, or just taking politeness to an embarrassing extreme? But at least Dahlby didn't call Rather the "world's best journalist," as odd as that sounds:
MSNBC's David Shuster declared yesterday's fake Chamber of Commerce presser at the National Press Club the "Best prank of [the] week" on his Twitter page shortly before 5:30 p.m. EDT today. He added a link taking readers to the left-leaning blog Talking Points Memo.
A group of liberal environmentalist activists punked some journalists by throwing a press conference claiming to represent the Chamber of Commerce. In the fake presser, the pranksters claimed that the Chamber was reversing its opposition to so-called cap-and-trade legislation.
Breaking: The New York State Supreme Court's Appellate Division has thrown out Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit against his former employer, CBS Corp. "We find the complaint must be dismissed in its entirety," reads the decision. The Appellate court found that the motion court "erred in denying the defendants' motion to dismiss the claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty."
At first I thought it must be an article from The Onion. Surely this couldn't be a legitimate news story.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who shouted "you lie!" at President Obama during his Wednesday night address to Congress, admitted to regularly consuming caffeine pills in 2007.
It is unclear if Wilson still takes NoDoz, a brand of pill that contains 200 milligrams of caffeine a pop. By comparison, a seven ounce cup of drip coffee contains 115 to 175 milligrams of caffeine.
Sadly this is someone's idea of news. The above excerpt is the startling revelation that appeared in The Hill's Blog Briefing Room under the ominous headline "Wilson regularly took caffeine pills in 2007". (h/t The Jawa Report)
Sometimes the numbers in a wire service report are so ridiculous, you just know that they're bogus.
On Wednesday, June 11, a duo of Associated Press reporters, Chris Kahn and Sandy Shore, with an assist from Tali Arbel, reported on a study "green jobs" study released by the Pew Charitable Trusts. In "The Clean Energy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses, and Investments Across America," Pew made the growth in "clean energy" appear more impressive than it is by vastly understating job growth in the rest of the economy during the past decade -- by a factor of three.
None of the three AP "journalists" involved, and none of the alleged layers of fact-checkers and editors at the wire service, had the intuitive sense to detect an error by Pew so pathetically obvious that anyone following the economy at all -- and that includes the folks at Pew -- should have known the figure involved was false.
Here are the first few paragraphs of the AP story (bold is mine):
This morning, MSNBC’s Alex Witt was in full damage control mode, working whatever apologist explanations she could find into her reluctant coverage of last night's teleprompter-free “Tonight Show” appearance by the president. [audio available here]
Obama was doing quite well at staying on message, when he made the following comment in reaction to Jay Leno's question about his infamous lack of bowling ability:
JAY LENO: I imagine the bowling alley has been burned and closed down.
President BARACK OBAMA: No, I've been practicing.
OBAMA: I bowled a 129. I had –
LENO: Oh, no, that's very good. Yeah. That's very good, Mr. President.
OBAMA: This is sort of like Special Olympics or something.
It's official: The New York Times got pranked by the girls of "Dating a Banker Anonymous," referred to in a fizzy Times profile last month as a "support group" dedicated to women whose "monthly Bergdorf's allowance has been halved."
Linda Holmes, blogging at National Public Radio, was dubious from the start: "Isn't it totally obvious that this is a put-on?" She dismissed the idea of a "support group" and figured the people behind the blog were angling for a book deal. The Times responded to Holmes, defending the piece and snottily concluding:
I'm not sure what is thought might be fake about this. Ravi did talk to some of the men to verify the relationships and get their side.
But Holmes's skepticism has been vindicated, based on the "Editor's Note" in Wednesday's Times admitting the January 28 article by freelance reporter Ravi Somaiya was overblown:
Add NBC to the list of news organizations that have shown a clip of two doctors, one of whom is the controversial pro-9/11 Norwegian doctor, Mads Gilbert, supposedly trying to revive a deceased Palestinian boy at Shifa Hospital in Gaza – a scene which some critics charge appears staged. Last week, on the Sunday, January 4, NBC Nightly News, correspondent Richard Engel filed a report in which he recounted the story of a 12-year-old boy, Mahmoud Basrowi, the brother of "Ashraf, a Gaza-based television producer contracted by NBC News," as Ashraf claimed his brother was killed while playing on his family’s roof "when the house was hit by an Israeli shell or rocket."
But in the Gaza Strip now, streets are mostly empty, fuel is running out and there's no electricity. Hospital officials say at least 430 Palestinians have been killed, 30 just today, including 12-year-old Mahmoud Basrowi. His family says the boy was playing on his rooftop with a cousin when the house was hit by an Israeli shell or rocket. Two doctors, one a volunteer from Norway, tried to save Mahmoud. Wrapped in a white funeral shroud, Mahmoud was taken by his brother Ashraf, a Gaza-based television producer contracted by NBC News.
Yesterday, the Public Editor of the New York Times, Clark Hoyt defended his coverage of Israel's war against Hamas. Unsurprisingly, he took the "since both sides criticize us we must be correct" approach. Surprisingly, his attempt, "Standing between Enemies," was marred by a particularly stupid mistake.
In order to show that the Times shows diligence in ferreting out fake news, Hoyt wrote:
Witty and his colleagues are frustrated because Israel has barred journalists from entering Gaza, and although The Times has two photographers in the region ready to go, it must rely on pictures taken by Palestinian photographers. "When I can't have my own person there, I have to question every picture that comes in -- to an obsessive degree," he said. Last summer, Witty unmasked as a fake a photo of an Iranian missile test that ran on many other front pages.
This post follows up on last night's NewsBusters post ("They Never Learn: CNN Withdraws Apparently Faked Video of CPR Attempt on 'Dead' Palestinian Child").
CNN has reposted a video it withdrew yesterday. That video purports to show the death and hasty burial of a cameraman's 12 year-old younger brother, one of two children allegedly killed on the roof of their home in rocket fire from an Israeli drone.
Correction (Feb. 10, 2009): Corrected from original reporting attributing AP and Getty with the photo editing. In fact it was ABCNews.com, not AP or Getty Images that overlaid the Bush photo on the Gaza rubble photo. AP and Getty Images supplied the respective photos. Thanks to the folks at StinkyJournalism.org for pointing out the error.
I guess, since flat-out fauxtography as practiced in 2006 in the Middle East has become so difficult, and has been shown as likely to be detected, that the press has decided to go with "creative" image placement to do the dirty work that must be done to create sympathy for Hamas and antipathy towards President Bush and the United States.
For "some reason," the editors at ABCNews.com placed President Bush's image at its bottom right. The photo compilation (shown above) accompanied a report by Miguel Marquez and Simon McGregor-Wood that appears to have also run on the network's "World News" program.
The wreckage in the photo purports to be "the destroyed house of Hamas leader of Nizar Rayan following an Israeli air strike the day before in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip" (given the state of reporting out of the region, one never knows for sure).
There is no good reason for Mr. Bush's picture to be included, since: