NewsBusters Asks: Is Bank Robber Wearing An Obama Mask Racist?

For those not familiar with NewsBusters, it fancies itself as a conservative media watchdog whose mission is “Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias.” It is a subsidiary of the uber-rightist Media Research Center. And it is also one of the most prolific apologists for radical right-wingers and racists like Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan.

Last week they outdid themselves by posting an absurd item about a bank robber in New Hampshire who wore a mask of President Obama during the robbery. NewsBuster’s Noel Sheppard made the Olympian leap from that incident to the Missouri rodeo last month when a rodeo clown wearing a similar mask went on a racially offensive rant.

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This is a perfect demonstration of how clueless right-wingers are about their own racist tendencies. Sheppard clearly has no idea how offensive it is to perform an allegedly comical routine before hundreds of spectators that calls for grievous harm to befall the president of the United States. His organization ran numerous columns defending the rodeo buffoonery, just as racists of a previous era defended black-face performances.

However, where Sheppard really steps off the plank is when he attempts to draw a comparison between an obnoxious and insulting rodeo act and the criminal behavior of a bank robber. Sheppard seems to think the media has some responsibility to analyze the mind of the criminal for racial insensitivity. The problem is that Sheppard is apparently too stupid to grasp that the crook wasn’t making any kind of a political statement. He was merely trying to conceal his identity (in a spectacularly dumb way). Contrast that with the rodeo clown’s routine that openly baited the crowd to cheer for the President getting gored by a bull.

So what does a bank robber wearing an Obama mask have to do with a brazenly offensive performance by an entertainer? You’ll have to ask Noel Sheppard, because no one in their right mind could possibly connect those dots.

Lamestream Humor: NewsBusters Doesn’t Get That The Joke Is On Them

Conservative pundits and personalities have been a rich source of material for satire and mockery. However, there are times when their glassy-eyed incoherence inspires more sympathy than ridicule. And this may be one of them.


Noel Sheppard, the Associate Editor of the uber-rightist media monitor NewsBusters, posted an item yesterday that was virtually ecstatic over a new commercial for Volkswagon. He notes that it “has put a smile on a lot of conservative faces.” In the ad an envious man (Gary) discusses his intention of getting a new Passat just like the one his neighbor (Brian) owns. Then Brian tells Gary that he bought the last one, but Gary isn’t falling for it and cites a Passat ad in the newspaper as proof. Whereupon Brian says “You can’t believe the lamestream media, Gary.”

What has delighted Sheppard so much is his view that Volkswagon has validated the disparaging dig at the press that Sarah Palin popularized. He is giddy with satisfaction that the word “lamestream” was uttered in the ad. He calls it “delicious” and says it “will surely put a smile on Palin’s face.”

Perhaps so, but that is indicative of the larger problem. This ad is more ridicule than reverence, but Sheppard can’t see past his glee to notice. The clear message in the ad is that Brian’s attempt to discredit the media was an obvious ruse. The ad portrays Brian as the fool for trying to deceive his neighbor by falsely impugning the press. After all, Gary’s newspaper was correct, there are more Passats available. So, if anything, this ad illustrates how dimwitted Palin’s criticisms are.

Just like Brian, Palin’s attempts to discredit the media are an obvious ruse and few people outside of her congregation of teabaggers are fooled. Yet somehow Sheppard regards this as complimentary and evidence of the nation’s adoption of Palin’s reproach, rather than a dramatization of how silly it is. He simply doesn’t get that the joke is on him and his comrades on the right. And it’s so glaringly obvious that it’s a little sad to see him so befuddled.

NewsBusters Trolling: Imagine If A Fox News Host Had Said…

Please be sure you are seated before reading this. The shock that will sweep over you may rival Hurricane Sandy in its sheer, raw power. Are you ready? OK…..

Last night on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, his guest Rachel Maddow called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia…..a TROLL!

Oh lawdy, where’s the smellin’ salts? I dare say I may faint. And I’m not alone. Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters was so appalled that he penned an op-ed for Fox News to unleash his umbrage at this scandalous effrontery. How dare this wanton trollop deign to insult such a virtuous citizen with so foul a curse. And because every spasm of faux outrage requires a racial reference, Sheppard managed to find something in Maddow’s comment that was analogous to the use of the “N-word.” The editorial begins innocently enough by asking us to…

“Imagine for a moment a Fox News host calling one of the liberal Supreme Court justices such as Sonia Sotomayor a ‘troll.'”

Indeed. Just imagine it. Oh wait. You don’t have to imagine it because on April 30, 2009, Erick Erickson said this about retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter:

“The nation loses the only goat fucking child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter’s retirement.”

Erick Erickson

Now that’s the way to express respect for our judiciary. I hope Maddow is paying attention. Erickson was not working for Fox News when he said that, although it does sound like something that would have been posted on the fib-infested Fox Nation. However, Erickson was just hired by Fox in January, and I’m sure that having that comment on his resume helped him to land the job.

Rachel Maddow - Erick Erickson

I’ll be waiting to see Sheppard’s op-ed castigating Erickson and Fox for behaving so disrespectfully to a justice of the high court. And then they can all join Megyn Kelly on her Fox program where she also took a swipe at Maddow. Perhaps they will eventually recognize that calling someone a troll is not nearly as bad as calling the landmark Voting Rights Act a “racial entitlement,” which is what Scalia said that inspired Maddow’s criticism in the first place.

Fox Nation’s Phony Outrage: Somebody Think Of The Kids!

Exploiting children for partisan political purposes is something with which Fox News is well acquainted. They frequently try to corral kids into political controversies for the benefit of a conservative agenda. Sometimes that doesn’t work out so well for them. But they soldier on with overtly biased reporting that exhibits a rampant hypocrisy. Here is the story they have been flogging this weekend:

Fox Nation - Children Singing

What the Fox Nationalists find so outrageous is that a group of patriotic kids who are concerned about their country would dare to express themselves in a manner that indicts the right-wing extremism that imperils their future. The video was produced by The Future Children Project, and it is an admirable display of the sort of civic participation that should be encouraged in our society. Take a look at the video:

What a travesty! Young people with knowledge, awareness and an opinion. The conservative martinets of virtue think this must be stopped. Along with Fox, Noel Sheppard of the uber-rightist NewsBusters, posted a comically hyperbolic critique of this video, comparing it to the famous “Daisy Ad” produced by President Lyndon Johnson’s campaign nearly fifty years ago. That ad connected the election of Barry Goldwater with a visual of a nuclear bomb exploding. See…the two videos are exactly the same. Sheppard went completely off the deep end in his analysis saying…

“The advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners has just released a pro-Obama commercial eerily reminscent of Lyndon Johnson’s controversial Daisy ad featuring children singing about a variety of horrors including an America – supposedly under President Romney – where ‘sick people just die’ and ‘oil fills the sea.’

“But more importantly, it’s one thing to write such disgusting lyrics. It’s quite another to get children to sing them. If the folks at this agency possess such a thing, they should be ashamed of themselves for involving youngsters in this project. Or do they believe like Goebbels did that it’s okay to involve children in spreading propaganda?”

So according to Sheppard, this video of children singing is not only analogous to a nuclear holocaust, but also to Hitler’s Nazi Minister of Propaganda. Coming from someone who works for NewsBusters, that’s pretty darned ironic.

To top it off, no one at Fox is cognizant of their hypocrisy in that they had no problem with kids singing an anti-Obama song. When a group of kids decided to protest Michelle Obama’s school lunch program that advocated for healthier food and providing for underprivileged students, they produced a Glee-like video complaining that the new standards left them unsatisfied.

Fox Nation - We Are Hungry

While I don’t agree with the content, the production is really quite good and I commend the students for their involvement. The video expresses the feelings of these kids, and that’s a good thing. The problem is that the hypocrites at Fox News, NewsBusters and elsewhere in the conservative world are so myopic that they only see value in children when they can be exploited to advance right-wing themes. Kids who have a different opinion are “outrageous” little Hitlers and should shut the hell up. That’s the pattern of thought that produces a robotic, incurious, ignorant society. And it’s also a pretty good description of the Fox News audience.

NewsBusters Lies About Howard Dean Lying

It may be time to start a regular feature about the recurring episodes of stupidity on the part of NewsBusters’ associate editor, Noel Sheppard. The latest example comes from his analysis of a debate between Liz Cheney (Dick’s spawn) and Gov. Howard Dean.

The NewsBusters column asserts that “Liz Cheney Exposes Howard Dean In Lie About His Connection To George Soros and” Sheppard helpfully provides video of the exchange and a transcript. The only problem is that these documents show that Dean was entirely truthful and that Sheppard and Cheney were the liars. Here is the relevant portion of the debate:

HOWARD DEAN (overlapping): We don’t want anybody buying elections.
LIZ CHENEY (overlapping): I mean George Soros started all of this with–
HOWARD DEAN (overlapping): I know McCain-Feingold, they weren’t able buy elections.
LIZ CHENEY (overlapping): –which was a big backer of yours, Governor Dean. So I think that, you know–
HOWARD DEAN (overlapping): Who was a big backer of mine?
LIZ CHENEY: George Soros,
HOWARD DEAN (overlapping): No he wasn’t. No he wasn’t a big–
LIZ CHENEY: Governor Dean, I think that the notion–
HOWARD DEAN (overlapping): –neither– neither was, as a matter of fact, just to set the record straight.

As we see in this exchange, Cheney asserted that George Soros and MoveOn were “big backers” of Dean. The Governor denies that. And this is where Sheppard barges in to declare that. “This was a flat out lie by Dean on national television.” Sheppard backs up his claim by revealing that Soros had contributed $1,000 to Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004, and that MoveOn had hosted a web page where Dean solicited donations.

Gov. Dean raised about $50 million for his 2004 primary campaign. Soros donated only $1,000 of that (or 0.002%), which is less than half the amount allowable ($2,500). As for MoveOn, Sheppard admits that they donated nothing at all to Dean. They merely permitted him to solicit their members for donations. Those donations would have been made by the individuals choosing to donate, not MoveOn, and there was no accounting for how much the members may have donated, if anything. But MoveOn donated $0.00.

It is on the basis of this that Sheppard asserted that Dean’s contention was “100 percent false.” However, Dean was actually 100 percent truthful because the facts, even as Sheppard told them, show that Soros and MoveOn were not “big backers” of Dean by any stretch of the imagination. Unless you define “big” as infinitesimally small. So, as it turns out, it’s Sheppard who is lying.

The remainder of the Dean/Cheney debate gave Sheppard additional opportunities for him to make a fool of himself. Cheney kept trying to put words in Dean’s mouth, to the effect that he and President Obama were saying that the Chamber of Commerce was paying for domestic campaign ads with foreign money. However, neither of them said that. The issue was whether the Chamber was receiving money from foreign entities (which they admit), and that because there is no disclosure of those receipts or how they are spent, there is no way to know whether the foreign funds were included in the campaign financing. It is a question of disclosure and transparency. There is a big difference between accusing the Chamber of using foreign funds in the election, and merely criticizing them for not disclosing their financing. It was the latter that Dean was asserting.

Sheppard and Cheney are either too dense to grasp that distinction, or too politically dishonest to acknowledge it – or perhaps a little of both. Cheney, of course, is a political operative and can be expected to spin arguments in her favor. But Sheppard fancies himself a media watchdog and, thus, reveals himself to be utterly disreputable and without credibility.

NewsBusters: The Most Powerful Name In Stupid

You know that you’ve reached new lows in stupidity when you make it necessary to defend CNN/Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz. But Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters’ Associate Editor, can hang his head in pride at having achieved just that feat.

In an article “analyzing” a segment of Kurtz’s Reliable Sources, Sheppard manages to demonstrate an astonishingly deficient ability to comprehend simple English. In this segment Kurtz correctly criticized Fox News in general, and Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity in particular, for falsely asserting that Democratic Delaware senatorial candidate Chris Coons had “admitted” to being a Marxist. The basis for the assertion was this excerpt from an article Coons wrote 25 years ago in college:

“I spent the spring of my junior year in Africa on the St. Lawrence Kenya Study Program. Going to Kenya was one of the few real decisions I have made; my friends, family, and professors all advised against it, but I went anyway, My friends now joke that something about Kenya, maybe a strange diet, or the tropical sun, changed my personality; Africa to them seems a catalytic converter that takes in clean-shaven, clear thinking Americans and sends back Bearded Marxists.”

It’s plain from reading this that it was Coons’ friends who raised the subject of his being a Marxist, and even that was clearly stated to be a joke. There is nothing there resembling an admission of Marxism, and there is no way a person with a functioning cerebrum could arrive at that interpretation. Which neatly explains how Beck and Hannity managed to do so. Kurtz, for whom I rarely find anything worthy of commendation, deserves credit for calling out the pair of Fox News hacks for their blatant and deliberate deceit.

Here’s where NewsBusters steps in to lather themselves in shame. Sheppard begins with an inquiry as to why Kurtz didn’t mention a previous article that appeared in Politico and referenced the Coons article. Sheppard asks…

“Why didn’t Kurtz scold Politico? After all, [Politico author Alex] Isenstadt appears to be the first national reporter to bring this article to light.”

The answer, of course, is that Isenstadt never alleged that Coons confessed to being a Marxist. There is nothing wrong with drawing attention to prior writings by political candidates. The problem comes when someone dishonestly portrays the contents of it, as Beck and Hannity did. Isenstadt didn’t do that so there was no reason for Kurtz to scold him.

Next Sheppard quotes a line from Isenstadt’s article that cites Coons’ campaign spokesman calling the “bearded Marxist” reference a joke. Sheppard then asks…

“Is this where Kurtz got the idea that the whole article was a joke? From Coons’s campaign spokesman? That doesn’t seem like good journalism, does it?”

Sheppard wouldn’t know good journalism if it reached out of his monitor and slapped him. The first idiotic hokum in this question is the premise that Kurtz held that “the whole article” was a joke. Kurtz never said that, nor did Coons or his spokesman. But where Sheppard goes off the rails is by suggesting that Kurtz got the idea that it was a joke from the campaign spokesman’s comment rather than from the actual text of Coons’ article that said explicitly, “My friends now joke that…” It was right there in black and white, in the original article, that Kurtz, and everyone else who can read, got the idea that it was a joke. It couldn’t be more clear if you pasted a picture of Henny Youngman above it. I guess it’s that clarity that accompanies reality that confused Sheppard.

And yet Sheppard persists in making a fool of himself. He concludes his analysis by complaining that Kurtz has a double standard because he criticized the coverage of Coons but not that of his GOP opponent, Christine O’Donnell. However, Kurtz was criticizing the Coons coverage because it was wrong. The coverage of O’Donnell was merely replaying video of her own performance on television. Nobody mischaracterized what she said, they just broadcast it as it was. If there was something wrong with it, even Sheppard didn’t bother to point it out. But he did take one more swing at the debunked smear that Coons was a self-avowed Marxist:

“As such, an autobiographical article by Coons in which he referred to himself as a bearded Marxist is all a joke while comments O’Donnell made concerning her religious faith are somehow relevant to this campaign.”

Once again, Coons did not refer to himself as a “bearded Marxist,” and his friends who did so were joking. And both candidates’ histories are relevant to the campaign, but they must be presented accurately. Unfortunately, Sheppard prefers the lying gasbag approach.


On a separate matter from the same program, Kurtz earned himself another commendation by calling out his own network, CNN. They declined to broadcast a story of war atrocities by Michael Ware due to graphic imagery. Kurtz observed that a story of this importance should still have been aired, and if the images were deemed too disturbing they could have simply left them out of the broadcast. He also took the network to task for refusing to make anyone available to discuss the matter. Kurtz deserves credit for that position. I hope we see more of this sort of media criticism going forward, but I’m just a cockeyed optimist.

Bill O’Reilly: MoveOn Forced CNBC To Hire Howard Dean

Bill O’Reilly gets funnier by the day (or scarier, depending on your perspective). His latest broadcast falsehood is that has wielded its mighty power to “force” NBC/Universal CEO Jeff Zucker to hire Howard Dean as a contributor to CNBC. This display of domination was allegedly in response to conservative commentaries by CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Mark Haines.

Even if someone was stupid enough to believe that a relatively small political activist group could boss around the chief of a major entertainment and news empire, the accusation is completely without foundation. In fact, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, who did some actual reporting, unlike O’Reilly, found that:

“…the decision to bring the recently departed DNC Chair on board, the source says, was finalized well before the current wave of CNBC-angst. So while grassroots groups have sprouted up in recent weeks petitioning the network to make wholesale changes, Dean’s hiring can’t be viewed as a direct result of public pressure.”

O’Reilly’s stupidity, however, extends even further. The source he quotes for his baseless and false allegation is Noel Sheppard. O’Reilly identifies him as the author of a column in the Washington Examiner. What O’Reilly doesn’t tell you is that Sheppard also happens to be the Associate Editor of NewsBusters, an arm of the uber-conservative Media Research Center. The MRC was just revealed to be the source for many ideologically twisted stories on Fox News, a fact that former anchor Brit Hume confessed just last week. Now O’Reilly has admitted that he too is disseminating MRC propaganda as if it were news. It should be noted that neither O’Reilly nor Sheppard produced any evidence that either MoveOn or Zucker played any role in Dean’s employment.

As if that were not enough, O’Reilly went on to disparage Dean saying that he “know[s] little about economics.” Where O’Reilly gets the gumption to knock Dean’s credentials is beyond me. Dean served as governor of the state of Vermont for twelve years. For a portion of time he was Chairman of the National Governor’s Association. Prior to that he was a Wall Street stock broker. And his father was a top executive at Dean Witter Reynolds. But O’Reilly, who expounds on economics every day is a former tabloid TV news reader. So on whose advice would you prefer to rely?

On the comedy tip, O’Reilly is even having trouble organizing his outrage. For years he has been hammering NBC and its cable units as being irredeemably compromised by wicked leftists. He reveled in characterizing them as despicable purveyors of group-think. The following quotation, however, reveals a psyche that is sorely starving for air.

“Now many on Wall Street believe Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric which owns NBC, has completely lost control of his company, including the actions of Mr. Zucker. The evidence of that is that MSNBC is supporting and promoting the same far-left loons that are hammering the sister outfit CNBC. I mean, how rich is this?”

First of all, the “many on Wall Street believe” canard is an example of a lazy intellect. O’Reilly won’t, and can’t identify these imaginary critics. Secondly, his complaint that MSNBC is critical of CNBC contradicts his contention that all NBC units think alike. Even worse, by mocking this diversity of opinion, he is implying that he would prefer it if they did think alike. Of course, he would prefer no such thing. He would simply go back to accusing them of being blindly and uniformly liberal. It’s the O’Reilly way

John McCain’s Global Warming Plan Makes The Globe Warmer

In what is billed as a major policy speech on energy and the environment, John McCain has introduced a plan that just makes things worse. His proposals only benefit the big oil companies that are amongst his biggest supporters and who are well represented on the staff of his campaign. In the advance text of his speech he says:

“In the face of climate change and other serious challenges, energy conservation is no longer just a moral luxury or a personal virtue,”

I wonder when energy conservation stopped being just a moral luxury or a personal virtue. Last week? Last year? Whenever it was that McCain decided to take up the issue? And is there anyone who has ever referred to in that way other than Vice-President Dick Cheney?

McCain claims that his plan will reduce harmful emissions 50% by 2050. Contrast that with Barack Obama’s plan to cut emissions by 80%. However, a key part of the McCain plan is to increase oil exploration and permit offshore drilling in environmentally sensitive coastal areas. How does increasing oil production lead to emissions reductions? McCain doesn’t say. That doesn’t stop the National Review’s Noel Sheppard from promoting offshore drilling as a campaign issue that he says will help McCain. Sheppard cites a Rasmussen poll that finds that 67% of voters believe that drilling should be allowed off the coasts of California, Florida and other states. There are couple of problems with this poll. First, the actual question asked began with a leading preface:

“In order to reduce the price of gas, should drilling be allowed in offshore oil wells off the coasts of California, Florida, and other states?”

The question intentionally leads the respondent into a supposition that such drilling would reduce gas prices. There is no evidence to that effect offered by the pollster – or by economists. The survey results would have been very different had they prefaced the question by saying, “Despite having no impact on reducing the price of gas…”

Secondly, this is a national poll. It would have been more enlightening to include survey results of just the residents of California and Florida, who will bear the brunt of the policies under discussion. Before assuming that this is a winning issue for McCain, Sheppard might want to take into account that the voters of a swing state like Florida are overwhelmingly opposed to offshore drilling. And nationally voters give Obama a 20 point lead on the question of who will better deal with high oil prices.

McCain’s other big energy initiative is his proposal for a gas tax holiday. The absurdity of this as an approach to lowering either prices or pollution is glaringly evident. Oil companies will quickly fill the gap made by any temporary tax break. In fact, the price of gas has already increased by a larger amount than the federal tax in just the days that have transpired since McCain first proposed his holiday. What’s more, Saudi oil producers have come out in favor of tax cuts for petroleum products. Surprise! They know that lower prices will stimulate sales that fatten their wallets. And more sales produces more use which produces more pollution. It also exacerbates dependency on fossil fuels.

It ought not to be surprising that McCain is articulating the philosophy of his advisers, at least fifteen of whom have lobbied for Big Oil. McCain is firmly on the side of the Bush administration and the Saudi oil barons on matters of conservation, climate change, and petronomics. If Republicans want to make this a campaign issue, I say bring it on.