February 2006 Archives

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Journals Give New Meaning to "Political Science"

By Michael Fumento

How often do we hear, "I don't believe what I read in the newspapers!" only to find that by and large on any given article people do believe it? Yet people have become more skeptical of the MSM in recent years and for good reason. Medical and science journals remain dedicated to the quest for truth though, right? Wrong. For all the talk about the protective powers of a "published, peer-reviewed" journal you're as likely to find junk science in the top four medical and science journals as any major newspaper. Or worse, you don't find good science because it's systematically excluded. Read about it in my latest column.

February 23, 2006 10:01 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

The overlooked corruptive power of gov't $$$

By Michael Fumento

In the Washington Times, American Spectator writer Tom Bethell notes that for all the brouhaha the MSM are raising about writers and think tanks receiving "corrupting" corporate funding, there's little talk of how government funding corrupts.

Bethell observes that we all know of Eisenhower's warning of the rise of the "military industrial complex," but few realize that in the same speech Ike "included a more general warning about the growing reach of a supposedly disinterested government." Said Eisenhower, "The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by federal employment, project allocations and the power of money is ever-present and is gravely to be regarded."

"Where science is involved," writes Bethell, "the problem of self-interested research by government agencies is acute, because people are inclined to assume science is apolitical by nature. In practice, however, it is not difficult for scientists to find what they look for and to persuade the public their findings are not just true but scary. Their white coats, microscopes and test tubes give them a measure of immunity from media scrutiny."

The same people who smell a dead rat when ExxonMobil contributes a dime to a group that has reservations about some aspect of global warming and the best way to deal with it don't bat an eyelash at the tremendous amount of government funding that goes to people like James Hansen. Hansen is among the most extreme and influential of the global-warmers. Yet we know that one of the chief aims of government funding is to support those who demand projects that demand more government funding. Thus if ExxonMobil must be seen with suspicion because it produces greenhouse gases, then government must be looked at suspiciously because it produces what government makes best--more government.

Bethell has hit it right on the head. Read the whole essay, regardless of who gave you a grant to do so.

February 15, 2006 06:53 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

Amazing offer! PR firm gives 18 holes of golf at top course to ALL reporters!

By Michael Fumento

Writing in Human Events, Lisa De Pasquale exposed the cozy relationship between Eamon Javers, Business Week's Washington correspondent, and PR firms whose clients Javers not only wrote about but praised to high heaven. In the one instance we know of, the DC firm Patton Boggs and others invited Javers to play on the highly exclusive Bretton Woods golf course. I would guess that the value of this gift would be in excess of $10,000. This could be considered unsavory in itself, but is all the more so in that Javers has made himself Witch Hunter General in digging up dirt (or inventing it, when "necessary") on conservative writers to strip away their jobs, their columns, or at the very least inhibit their think tank employers from accepting corporate support. He zapped me for not disclosing in a 2006 column that I received a 1999 book grant through my employer.

After De Pasquale's piece appeared, Patton Boggs called her and, as Gomer Pile would say, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" They didn't like it. Brian Hale from the media department insisted to De Pasquale that "Javers receives the same amount of attention as any other reporter that calls us." To this she commented in a subsequent piece, "That may come as a surprise to those who weren't invited for a round of '18 holes of networking, schmoozing, and networking' at the Bretton Woods golf course" as Javers was. She said, "Hale also stressed that Javers hasn't contacted Patton Boggs more than twice in the last 22 months," which leaves wide open the question as to whether they contacted him!

Concludes De Pasquale, "It's outrageous that Business Week doesn't hold its writers to one-tenth of the "journalistic integrity" it demands of conservative writers whose names it drags through the mud. Javers' charges against conservative writers are completely bogus whereas the connection between Javers and Patton Boggs is a hole-in-one."

To be sure, Lisa. But that which the MSM ignores doesn't happen. Somehow I suspect this story will continue to fall between the cracks. Meanwhile though, let's take Hale at his word. If "Javers receives the same amount of attention as any other reporter that calls us," then any reporter should be able to call and demand a round of 18 holes at Bretton Woods--not one hole less. Contact Brian Hale and demand your game today!

February 15, 2006 04:49 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

Interesting observations on bloggers

By Michael Fumento

In his Washington Post article "Blog Rage," Jim Brady (no relation to "Diamond Jim") makes interesting observations that bloggers are unfortunately not the counterweight to the MSM that some would like to think. Actually, you merely need to know that some of the best-read blogs are Daily Kos and Huffington's site to realize that blogs can be far worse than any MSM publication. These blogs employ expensive software that automatically seeks out and destroys any truth that might creep into any blogger's post.

But Brady's complaint seems to cover the political spectrum of blogs, even though it strongly appears his main complaint is with right-wing ones. One problem he found generally:

Why are people so angry? [We at the Washington Post made] a mistake, it was corrected. Part of the explanation may be the extremely partisan times we live in. For all the good things it has brought our society, the Web has also fostered ideological hermits, who only talk to folks who believe exactly what they do. This creates an echo chamber that only further convinces people that they are right, and everyone else is not only wrong, but an idiot or worse. So when an incident like this one arises, it's not enough to point out an error; they must prove that the error had nefarious origins. In some places on the Web, everything happens on a grassy knoll. Another culprit in Web rage: the Internet's anonymity. It seems to flick off the inhibition switch that stops people from saying certain things in person. During the [Washington Post] flap, many of the e-mails I received that called me gutless, a coward or both were unsigned. Maybe this level of anger has been out there for a long time, waiting to be enabled by technology. Forget about writing a letter, getting a stamp and mailing it in. Anger now has an easy and immediate outlet. How did it feel to be mugged by the blogosphere?

Brady makes an interesting observation on the "blogosphere" per se, as well:

Personally, I don't believe there's any such thing as "the blogosphere" as opposed to "the mainstream media." It's silly to assign organizations to one category or the other, pretend that there's uniformity in either grouping, or imagine a battle between the two. According to Technorati, a search engine that tracks the blogosphere, there are 27.6 million blogs on the Web, and they cover countless topics. Blogs are at odds with each other just as often as they're at odds with the media. Similarly, there are thousands of traditional media organizations in this country -- newspapers, TV stations, radio stations and magazines, most with their own Web sites. And anyone who has ever worked at one of them can testify that the media is not one big happy family. We're extremely opinionated about what our fellow journalists do. And it's impossible to say that either blogs or the mainstream media share one philosophy. Even if you could define the blogosphere and the media as discrete entities, I've never understood why they'd be viewed as competitors. If you want to be positive, you could say blogs and the traditional media have a symbiotic relationship; if you want to be more negative, call it parasitic. Either way, they're connected. They co-exist like this: The media writes articles or files reports, then blogs use them as starting points for discussions. When the blogs do this, they almost always provide links back to media Web sites, and there isn't a news media site on the Web that doesn't receive a good chunk of its traffic from blogs. Each entity has an important yet distinct role in this potentially virtuous circle. Blogs don't have big media's capacity for expensive, coordinated news-gathering from Baghdad to Biloxi; newspapers and TV networks, even when they dive into the Web, can't match the (sometimes irresponsible) feistiness and flexibility of the blogs.

I have to disagree somewhat on his remarks on the MSM. They are actually amazing uniform, to the extent I find I'm often the only writer in the country taking a position that later proves correct. But Brady is right in that blogs have tremendous capacity to do harm just as the MSM does, even though he grants they've played "a crucial role in the national conversation" and in breaking important stories such as Rathergate.

Bottom line to me: Always be skeptical. Believe it or not, most of what the New York Times writes is true and some of what your favorite bloggers write is not true. You can put all your faith in God, but do not put all your faith in a human being.

February 12, 2006 05:08 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

Antibodies and adult stem cells treat paralysis

By Michael Fumento

The New Scientist reports that two antibodies that enabled the severed spinal nerves of rats to be regenerated will be tested in humans. The treatment allowed rodents with damaged spines to walk again, as well as climb ladders and swim. And rats don't even like to swim. The antibodies block the action of Nogo, a protein that stops nerve cells from sprouting new connections.

But researchers think this may not be enough for complete recovery, which is where the research of Geoffrey Raisman at University College London comes in. He has been transplanting stem cells from the back of the nose onto the spinal cords of animals for years and will begin human clinical trials this year. Other doctors have already been using these cells to treat individual patients, claiming to have some success, but they have yet to publish their work.

February 9, 2006 10:50 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Stem Cells

Hunting of Conservative Thinkers No "Phantom Persecution"

By Michael Fumento

A new breed of witch hunter stalks the land, pretending to be looking for ethical conflicts on the part of individual writers and of organizations. In reality, their "witches" are consistently conservative. The purpose: To cripple their "ability to compete in the realm of ideas with liberal newspapers, television networks, universities and foundations." Read about it in my latest column.

February 9, 2006 10:26 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

"'Scandal' involving conservative writers about politics, not ethics"

By Michael Fumento

So writes Tom Giovanneti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation, in today's National Review Online. Yes, he addresses the attack that stripped away my syndicated column.

Fumento helped raise money from sympathetic corporations to support his work, money which went to his employer. This is not unusual, among left-leaning organizations as well as right. But, because Fumento's work was supported by corporations, the Left hangs a cloud of controversy over it, even though everything seems to have been done in a completely aboveboard and legal manner.

But Giovanneti knows there's a lot more at stake here.

Noting that the Business Week columnist, Eamon Javers, whose false and twisted accusations, combined with Scripps Howard's cowardice, ended my column has repeatedly gone after only conservative journalists, Giovanneti says,

To the degree that we assent to the Left's critique, we encourage them to persist in this unfair and selective campaign. So long as free people are freely supporting with their own wealth organizations and individuals whose work they admire, we should celebrate that, not impugn it."

In fact, as Lisa de Pasquale has written in Human Events, Javers himself has taken favors from lobbyists whose clients he subsquently smothered with praise--though we can hardly expect Javers to write an expose on himself, can we?

Ultimately,write Giovanneti

Those of us who run conservative organizations and who serve as editors of conservative journalistic outlets need to draw clear and distinct lines between (on one hand) those who have clearly broken laws and/or engaged in genuinely unethical conduct and (on the other) those who are for whatever reason opportunistic targets caught up in the swirl. Basic fairness, as well as political prudence, demands that we make these distinctions, even if--especially if--the Left does not.

Those are just the highlights. Read the rest of this excellent essay.

February 6, 2006 06:48 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

Witch Hunter Caught Dealing with the Devil!

By Michael Fumento

When Business Week's Eamon Javers interviewed me for the piece that led to Scripps Howard cowardly pulling the plug on my column, I offered him a bit of advice which he thought so entertaining he couldn't help but insert it. "We're in a witch-hunting frenzy now but, as after all witch hunts, people do return to their senses and regret the piles of ashes at their feet," I told him. "Often it happened fast enough the witch hunters found themselves tied to the stake."

Well, there's now enough evidence to bring Javers to the stake. And I don't mean using the new rules of journalistic ethics he invented on-the-spot, applied specifically to me, and made retroactive. No, these are the tried and true old rules he violated. As Lisa De Pasquale writes in Human Events,
"If anyone has acted as a corporate shill, it's Eamon Javers himself."

Javers is the former editor in chief of the now defunct Business Forward magazine. In the July/August 2002 issue, the "Snapshot" section shows photos from the magazine's Big Hitters Golf Classic, "18 holes of networking, schmoozing and competition" at the famous Bretton Woods golf course. Among the paid sponsors listed is Patton Boggs, a large Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. In the same issue that boasted about their schmoozing with event sponsors, Javers listed "The Forty Forward," an annual list of influential people doing business in Washington, D.C. Some of the heavy hitters who made the list include Tom Boggs of Patton Boggs, Bob Pittman, Steve Case and Ted Leonsis of AOL Time Warner, David Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group and John Sidgemore of WorldCom. In another issue, Javers named John Mars of Mars Inc. the "Best Private-Company CEO" and Steve Case the "Best Public-Company CEO."
OpenSecrets.org lists Mars Inc., AOL, WorldCom and The Carlyle Group as clients of Patton Boggs. AOL and Mars Inc. were two of their top three clients during that time.

There's more juicy material here, including really nice photos of Javers chumming around with the people he's supposed to be keeping at arm's length--unless it means getting goodies like being a guest at one of America's most exclusive courses. Or do you really think a young journalist can afford a membership? It's literally "pay-for-play."

Meanwhile, I continue to get calls and e-mails from people that Javers is hounding for allegedly unethical practices. All off them are conservative. The MSM will ignore this if we let them. Don't. Get the word out there. Let's tie this witch hunter to the stake. I'll supply the marshmallows.

February 2, 2006 08:57 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

"What Are Op-Eds For?" (from TAS)

By Michael Fumento

WASHINGTON -- Ever since the Cato Institute fired syndicated columnist Doug Bandow over the revelation that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff had asked and paid him to write articles favorable to his clients, the Left and some in the media have launched a witch hunt against conservative writers with links to private industry. Yet, during this burning time, no one is asking the question: What are opinion pieces for? The question has not arisen because some on the Right, by acquiescing to the Left's desire for blood, are building the pyres themselves. The question needs to be asked, and the Left will hate the answer.

For what the left will hate, how it ties into the witch hunts by Business Week's Eamon Javers and the New York Times' Gestapo-ette Sharon Waxman, see Ian Murray's American Spectator piece.

February 1, 2006 01:41 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media