Media Archives

My article: "Purveying Pig Flu Panic at the Post"

By Michael Fumento

"Panic is what we want," Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum wrote last May of swine flu. "Panic is good," she said, also labeling the disease a "pandemic" five weeks before the World Health Organization (WHO) did.

The Post's rational response to swine flu

Yet flu season is now officially over and we've had about 12,500 total flu deaths, or a third the usual number according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

Still, say what you will about the Post Opinions page coverage of swine flu, it was consistent. It kept on promoting panic, notwithstanding they knew they were wrong, that indeed one of their contributors was outright lying. I know because I repeatedly kept them informed. Read my article about those estimates of 207,000 American dead and nine million worldwide that Opinions foisted on us - in the name of spreading panic.

June 13, 2010 03:54 PM  ·  Permalink

"Why Do We Continue to Believe Bizarre Things?" my AOL News article

By Michael Fumento

Why in an age saturated with information, do we believe bizarre things? Things like crop circles, alien abductions, and 9/11 conspiracy theories? Why do we believe wild Toyota stories like the 94 mph "runaway Prius"? The gearbox allowed shifting into neutral by merely reaching out a finger, but the driver told credulous reporters he was afraid to do so because he needed to keep both hands on the steering wheel. And regarding that cell phone in his hand?

She had the same brain we do. Not to mention other attributes ...

Why a steady stream of mass hysterias, like swine flu last year and Toyota sudden unintended acceleration.

At the core is that despite our computers and communications devices and other gadgets, and despite all the scientific discoveries made, we still have pretty much the same brains as Paleolithic man some 40,000 years ago. That brain looks for magic and it looks for patterns. And unlike Paleolithic man we have modern institutions like the media, government, and lawyers who exploit those base thoughts.

I hope and think you'll find my article a real eye-opener in EXPLAINING so many of the things I've made a career writing about.

May 15, 2010 10:33 PM  ·  Permalink

Media falsely claiming CHP report backs Toyota Prius hoaxer's claim

By Michael Fumento

Over a week after I exposed the "Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax" at Forbes. com, the press (as opposed to some TV networks, talk radio, and bloggers) just won't throw in the towel.

Shifting a 2008 Prius

"A California Highway Patrol report released on Wednesday in a sensational 'runaway' Toyota Prius incident appears to support the version of events given by the driver, which the automaker has called into question," reports Reuters.

Really? Here's the report. It's just a few pages; read it for yourself. But it's interesting to note what Reuters plucked that it believes to be so compelling.

  • "'I could see the driver sat up off his seat indicating that he was possibly applying the brake pedal with his body weight," CHP Officer Todd Neibert wrote in his investigative report." Sorry, but being up off your seat doesn't mean you're standing on the brakes. Try it for yourself in your own car.

  • "'I was able to view his actions through the lowered right rear window," Neibert said in the seven-page written narrative. 'His back was arched and both hands were pulling on the steering wheel. I noticed that the Prius slowed slightly, down to approximately 85 to 90 miles per hour." As with the earlier comment, by definition this occurred after the officer arrived on the scene. It doesn't tell us what Sikes was doing in the previous 25 minutes. And it's very important that somehow when the officer showed up the Prius was slowing down at least slightly, thereby contradicting Sikes's claim on the 911 tape and later that it wasn't slowing at all.

  • "Neibert wrote that Sikes 'looked over at me briefly and appeared to be in a panicked state' . . . . the brake lights on the blue Prius were lit as it ascended a long uphill grade at about 85 miles an hour." Again, this was after the officer arrived on the scene that the brake lights were lit. As to appearing to be in a panicked state, that's how Sikes would want to look isn't it?

  • "He said that Sikes complained of tightness in his chest, 'appeared to be extremely stressed from the incident' and was reluctant to get out of an ambulance when he learned that reporters were waiting to speak with him." If you were the person pulling off a hoax, isn't that what you would say and do? Absolutely you would not want to speak to reporters. You'd want to work on your story and address them later.

  • "Neibert said in his account that he discovered a large amount of brake dust and brake pad material in and around the wheels. The accelerator and brake pedals in a normal resting position and that the floor mat did not appear to be interfering with them." RIGHT! The accelerator was in an upright position, and yet Sikes claimed while the vehicle was moving it was so jammed that he leaned forward to grip it and couldn't pull it up. Why, upon coming to a rest, did the accelerator suddenly pop up? As to the brake pad material, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
    A federal safety investigation of the Toyota Prius that was involved in a dramatic incident on a California highway last week found a particular pattern of wear on the car's brakes that raises questions about the driver's version of the event, three people familiar with the investigation said.

    During and after the incident, Mr. Sikes said he was using heavy pressure on his brake pedal at high speeds.

    But the investigation of the vehicle, carried out jointly by safety officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota engineers, didn't find signs the brakes had been applied at full force at high speeds over a sustained period of time, the three people familiar with the investigation said.

    The brakes were discolored and showed wear, but the pattern of friction suggested the driver had intermittently applied moderate pressure on the brakes, these people said, adding the investigation didn't find indicators of the heavy pressure described by Mr. Sikes.


    Now let's recap just one of my findings in the Forbes.com piece that the CHP report doesn't deal with because it concerns later events.

    The 911 dispatcher, as you can hear on the Web, repeatedly begs Sikes to either stop the engine with the ignition button or put the gear into neutral. Sikes refused to do either, later giving various bizarre reasons. "I was afraid to try to [reach] over there and put it in neutral, he told CNN. "I was holding onto the steering wheel with both hands - 94 miles an hour in a Toyota Prius is fast."

    Yet:

  • We know Sikes spent most of the ride with a cell phone in one hand.

  • Sikes claimed at a press conference that he reached under the dash and yanked on the floored accelerator. I'm thin with arms the average American length, but fell three inches short. Sikes almost certainly can't do what he claims, but nobody's asked him to repeat the motion. In any event, it can hardly be done with both hands on the wheel.

  • Finally in the 2008 Prius the shift knob is mounted on the dash expressly to allow shifting by merely reaching out with a finger. (See inset.)

    Just what exactly does it take to convince the press?

    It's interesting that most people think Bogie said "Play it again, Sam!" in one film, while in another Bogart movie banditos said "We don't need no steenking badges!" Yet all you have to do is pop in the DVD to see that neither quotation is correct.

    Likewise, we have a media that by and large has refused to make an effort little more than that to verify Sikes's outrageous claims or point them out as such. The Washington Post, as I've noted, claims Sikes never said whether he put the car in neutral. Never mind that he told press conference and CNN that he didn't and these are both on the Web.

    If the media don't see it in their interest, they won't investigate - even to the point of half a minute of Googling. Remember that the next time you hear a Toyota horror story.

  • March 21, 2010 12:57 PM  ·  Permalink

    Why the British media are so much better than ours

    By Michael Fumento

    Actually, the British media are both better and worse than ours. Their tabloids have headlines more hysterical than anything you'll find in ours. But then, Brits tend to realize that and discount accordingly.

    Whither thou goest!

    But overall in Britain you're much more likely to find issues covered fairly that are either terribly unfairly covered here or essentially ignored. Why?

    Basically the U.S. produces one newspaper with lots of different names. And they all pretend to be unbiased. But the result of that is merely to camouflage their bias in little ways such as writing "one reporter observed" instead of "I observed." Instead of flatly saying something themselves, our reporters just track somebody down to quote who will say it for them. If your first interview doesn't give you the desired results, you conduct another.

    Further, it's an unwritten rule here that except in the most extreme of circumstances you never criticize another reporter's work. After all, you're all on the same team. Meanwhile in the UK papers are openly conservative or liberal and hence in open competition with each other. This openness gives readers an added bonus in that they know that if they want both sides of a story they have to buy at least two different newspapers.

    But here you can buy the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and so on and just get slightly different versions of the same misreported item. A major item that should be in all three is absent from all three. This groupthink explains how I can constantly be among the few published journalists in the country to be correct on a major issue, notwithstanding many hundreds of other journalist writing on that same issue.

    There's no magic to it; just stay outside the herd.

    March 2, 2010 06:52 PM  ·  Permalink

    Swine flu and heterosexual AIDS

    By Michael Fumento

    About 57 million Americans, or something less than a fifth of the population, have contracted swine flu since April, the CDC says, of whom it estimates about 11,690 have died.

    Nostradamus

    Never mind that data from other countries like France and Japan indicate the ratio of deaths to infections is probably much lower than CDC assumes and therefore that 11,690 figure is probably far too high. It could be just 5,000 or even lower. It remains that this same agency says that on average 36,000 Americans a year die of regular old garden variety seasonal flu.

    Anyway you figure it, as I've repeatedly written, and as the rest of the U.S. media have repeatedly not written - thereby giving the U.S. policy makers and the World Health Organization (WHO) free rein - swine flu is so mild that it acts as an inoculation and actually prevents a lot of deaths. In early October I noted we saw that pattern in New Zealand and Australia, where they had their flu seasons before we did and even had no swine flu vaccine, and therefore we would see it here.

    That despite apocalyptic estimates of 30,000 to 90,000, according to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology or "89,000 to 207,000," according to a Washington Post op-ed by flu book author John Barry. (Not incidentally, the Post has repeatedly turned down anti-hysteria pieces of mine that were good enough to appear in other prestigious publications.)

    In the meantime, the federal government has probably spent over $10 billion "fighting" the “roaring razorback” that proved to be a pathetic piglet, and a lot of people have been scared out of their wits. Around the world, other governments did likewise after the WHO declared its phony pandemic in an effort to cover for yet another hysteria that it fomented, that of avian flu.

    That's not to mention Secretary-General Margaret Chandler's invocation to her minions to use the swine flu scare to convince governments that "changes in the functioning of the global economy" are needed to "distribute wealth on the basis of" values "like community, solidarity, equity and social justice."

    Why fight disease when you can fight capitalism?

    Yet as with the first phony epidemic I began writing about, heterosexual AIDS way back in 1987, these data were out there all along for anybody to pick up and relate. The Internet has made it all the easier. Nobody sent me anything in a plain brown envelope. There was no "Deep Throat" informant and none required. Likewise with other phony infectious disease scares I've written about, including "pandemic Ebolavirus," SARS, and avian flu. Twenty-two years on and it's the same old thing.

    Am I a reincarnation of Nostradamus who, inexplicably rather than making billions playing the lottery, is doing work that doesn't begin to cover his mortgage payments? Or is there something horribly, horribly wrong with our media? And for you "new media" fans, sorry but those teeming millions of bloggers missed the boat as well.

    February 15, 2010 08:05 PM  ·  Permalink

    Why Scientific Arguments Don't Go Very Far Anymore

    By Michael Fumento

    Do vaccines cause autism? Here's your answer.

    Jenny McCarthy, by virtue of being a former Playboy Playmate who claims her son had autism but that she personally cured him, has been anointed an expert by the media as evidenced by appearances on such shows as Oprah, ABC's 20/20, and Good Morning America. Typical of her evidence was her appearance on Larry King Live in which she countered three knowledgeable physicians with "Bullshit!" immediately followed by "My son died in front of me from a vaccine injury!" (Yes, it's on YouTube.)

    A stunned King asked what or who she was talking about, whereupon she admitted he was actually alive. This woman to many Americans - including the newsmakers - has more authority than every medical journal in print or every scientific panel that's ever met.

    January 30, 2010 05:07 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu expert slams WHO pandemic panic-mongering in German magazine interview

    By Michael Fumento

    I missed this interview when it came out in the German magazine Der Spiegel in July, but it's still relevant. Unfortunately, even though the interview subject Tom Jefferson of the esteemed Cochrane Collaboration is an American, you're not going to find anything like this in a U.S. publication. Our media bought into the scare lock, stock, and virion and they're not going to admit they were wrong. Herewith some excerpts.

    Thomas Jefferson

    SPIEGEL: Do you consider the swine flu to be particularly worrisome?

    Jefferson : It's true that influenza viruses are unpredictable, so it does call for a certain degree of caution. But one of the extraordinary features of this influenza - and the whole influenza saga - is that there are some people who make predictions year after year, and they get worse and worse. None of them so far have come about, and these people are still there making these predictions. For example, what happened with the bird flu, which was supposed to kill us all? Nothing. But that doesn't stop these people from always making their predictions. Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur.

    SPIEGEL: Who do you mean? The World Health Organization (WHO)?

    Jefferson: The WHO and public health officials, virologists and the pharmaceutical companies. They've built this machine around the impending pandemic. And there's a lot of money involved, and influence, and careers, and entire institutions! And all it took was one of these influenza viruses to mutate to start the machine grinding.

    SPIEGEL: Do you think the WHO declared a pandemic prematurely?

    Jefferson: Don't you think there's something noteworthy about the fact that the WHO has changed its definition of pandemic? The old definition was a new virus, which went around quickly, for which you didn't have immunity, and which created a high morbidity and mortality rate. Now the last two have been dropped, and that's how swine flu has been categorized as a pandemic.

    January 27, 2010 06:54 PM  ·  Permalink

    Trust me! I found it on the Internet!

    By Michael Fumento

    It may be true that everything is on the Internet, but good researchers have to beware. Here's a nice example. For a piece I'm writing on the plastic hardening chemical BPA I wanted to find out how much is produced annually in this country. Here's what the top hits produced:

    1. Sep 16, 2008 ... BPA has been cited as a component of plastic baby bottles. Over 2.2 million tons is produced each year and resides in the majority of people ...
    www.injuryboard.com/.../study-confirms-human-health---bpa-plastic-link.aspx?... –

    2. BPA Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Disease

    Jan 13, 2010 ... Manufacturers have used BPA for years to make plastics and resins. More than six millions tons of the chemical are produced each year and ...
    www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2010/01/bpa_study.html - Cached -

    3. Bisphenol-A In Plastic Packaging & Products Is Highly Dangerous

    US - Many studies have concluded that exposure to Bisphenol A can be fatal, ... There are approximately 2-3 million tonnes of it produced each year for use ...
    www.blatantnews.com/.../bisphenol_a_in_plastic_packaging_and_products_is_highly_dangerous.html - Cached -

    4. Numbers: Plastics, From Manufacturing to Recycling to Long Death ...

    Oct 21, 2009 ... Four million tons of BPA are produced each year. A National Toxicology Program report (PDF) released last fall said there was “some concern” ...
    discovermagazine.com/.../21-numbers-plastics-manufacturing-recycling-death-landfill - Cached

    So when they say it causes heart disease or "is highly dangerous" just how accurate is that?

    (I think I'd better pick up the phone and call somebody!)

    January 21, 2010 10:06 AM  ·  Permalink

    Washington Post Back to Pushing Avian Flu Panic

    By Michael Fumento

    Remember avian flu?

    Until swine flu came along, that's what was going to wipe out mankind. My last unprinted letter to the Washington Post scored the paper's opinions page for declaring "panic is good . . . panic is what we want," for claiming swine flu could kill 207,000 Americans and nine to 10 million worldwide, and for refusing to print anything to the contrary. Well, with the swine flu hysteria dying down in light of very few humans, dying the Post in desperation is switching back to the bird variety. And, true to form rejecting sane letters such as this one of mine.


    To the editor:

    The review of Alan Sipress's book "The Fatal Strain: On the Trail of Avian Flu and the Coming Pandemic" (December 6, 2009) is misleading in one important respect and terribly wrong in another.

    While writer David Oshinsky states humans have been contracting avian flu H5N1 for a decade without it becoming readily transmissible between humans, according to the World Health Organization it was first detected in Scottish poultry in 1959. Hence it's been making contact with humans for at least half a century. Oshinky says "a sort of mutation, common to influenza viruses" could "produce an H5N1 variant that is transmissible." But an exhaustive 2007 lab study in the Oct. 2007 issue of Virology showed,
    in the words of the researcher leader, "We think [H5N1] will need to get to 13
    [mutations] to be truly dangerous."

    Oshinsky also wrongly parrots Sipress's assertion that for H5N1 "the mortality rate has been a staggering 60 percent." That's based solely on those who come into contact with the medical system, thereby excluding those with milder symptoms. Consider that the recent CDC estimate of swine flu includes 4,000 deaths, 98,000 hospitalizations, and 22 million infections. So the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations was one in 24 but to overall infections was
    merely one in 5,500.

    Indeed, a January 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine study found extremely high rates of apparent bird flu illness among Vietnamese living and working in close proximity to infected poultry, yet by definition none of
    these people had died.


    There, now! Nothing in that letter that could possibly be of interest to Post readers!

    December 14, 2009 01:36 PM  ·  Permalink

    Innovations like "Living Stories" will help keep much of legacy media in business

    By Michael Fumento

    Innovations like "Living Stories" from Google Labs along with better and much cheaper e-readers to replace newsprint, will ensure that much of the legacy media survives. Which, for all that media's faults, is good.

    Let's face it; for all the talk of a "new business model" needed for the legacy media, the so-called "citizen media" isn't it. An infinite number of untrained, amateurs MIGHT theoretically give you what the major newspapers do, just as an infinite number of monkeys might tap out all the works of Shakespeare. But how much time do you have to read through all that monkey typing? No one will ever expand the day to longer than 24 hours; our reading time will always be precious.

    Too, there is the aspect of the citizen media that I'm hardly the first to point out - most of the news the citizen media "break" comprises links to the legacy media, even if it's in a negative connotation. There's very little generation of fresh content out there other than at the fringes, such as commenting on the legacy media's fresh content. You hear about each and every true scoop, as with the Acorn revelations, precisely because they are so very rare.

    The citizen media can be a good supplement - and it can also be trash - but at its very best, it cannot be a replacement for trained, skilled reporters working full-time at their jobs. Before you bloggers take a jab at me, tell me the last time YOU broke a truly original news story. No, not somebody else - you.

    December 9, 2009 06:33 PM  ·  Permalink

    Post Promotes Pig Pandemic Panic . . . and promotes and promotes . . .

    By Michael Fumento

    From an unpublished letter to the editor of the Washington Post.

    "Panic is what we want," declared Anne Applebaum of the swine flu in the Post Opinion pages in May. "Panic is good." The next month John Barry told Opinion readers to expect "89,000 to 207,000" swine flu deaths. In August, Opinions ran Jorge R. Mancillas' piece warning of "between 9 million and 10 million" swine flu deaths worldwide.

    There have been no Opinions pieces critical of swine flu hype.

    Now the CDC estimates that in five and a half months swine flu has killed 4,000 Americans, while plain old seasonal flu annually kills about 36,000 over a five-month season. Worldwide, as of November 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) says only that swine flu is known to have killed over 6,250 people in seven months, even while it estimates seasonal flu kills 4,800 to 9,600 every seven days.

    Aha! But Post economics writer Alan Sipress warns Opinion readers that if the do-nothing avian flu (the WHO says it's been infecting poultry and hence making bird-human contact since at least 1959) were to combine with the lazy swine flu, the outcome could be "savage," a "real nightmare."

    Yes, and if Godzilla could rise from the deep he could destroy Tokyo!

    Enough already! The point is made. And it says nothing about the swine flu but
    everything about the Post Opinions page.

    [Not incidentally, I know the Post refuses to run anti-panic pieces because I sent it two, one of which was rejected but later appeared in the much-larger circulation Los Angeles Times.]

    November 26, 2009 05:00 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Report Nov. 21 and my piece on the epidemic peak in NRO.

    By Michael Fumento

    "Swine flu has killed 540 kids, sickened 22 million Americans," screamed USA Today’s page 1 headline, sub-headed "CDC: Cases, Deaths are Unprecedented." Swine flu cases in the U.S. are rising at the fastest pace for influenza in four decades," breathlessly declares a Bloomberg News article lede. Another article's title referred to a "national swine flu spike."

    CAPTION

    Scary stuff! Phony stuff! And a desperate effort to distract from an alarmist media's greatest nightmare: That the epidemic has peaked, as I write in National Review Online.

    Yet the mainstream may possibly, maybe, sorta, be starting to catch on.

    "Health officials say swine flu cases appear to declining throughout most of the U.S.," reports AP.

    But, making evident its reporter hadn't actually bothered to look at the data or try to comprehend it, the story concluded "They say it's hard to know whether the epidemic has peaked or not, and many people will be gathering - and spreading germs - next week at Thanksgiving."

    Well, there you go, there is a possible exception to the rule of infectious disease epidemic curves known as Farr's law. It's called "Thanksgiving."

    November 20, 2009 08:42 PM  ·  Permalink

    Yes, I will be posting about the new CDC swine flu estimates

    By Michael Fumento

    At a glance, though, the estimates look okay; it's the spin and the lack of perspective that I have trouble with. And while the media have missed it, they also show an extremely low case-fatality ratio compared to seasonal flu.

    According to the CDC, seasonal flu causes 15 to 60 million infections yearly with 36,000 resulting deaths, for a fatality rate ranging from 0.06% to 0.24%. It now estimates that since the swine flu outbreak began there have been 22 million cases causing 4000 deaths, for a fatality rate of 0.0182%. So the death rate from seasonal flu is about three to 12 times higher.

    It estimates there have been 540 child deaths - those under age 18. But if just 3% of seasonal flu deaths were in children it would come out to 1,080 deaths.

    Once again, it's much squealing about very little.

    November 13, 2009 10:36 AM  ·  Permalink

    Poll shows little faith in government, media

    By Michael Fumento

    CAPTION
    A new Harvard poll, in a ranking of 13 leadership categories, found Congress and the media ranked 11th and 12th respectively. They probably would have been even lower had there been a category for used car salesmen.

    November 3, 2009 04:06 PM  ·  Permalink

    Swine flu "survivor" speaks out on media hype

    By Michael Fumento

    From a letter to the editor of the Washington Post:

    NAME PHOTO
    It is ridiculous that The Post has dedicated so much of the A section the past several weeks to the swine flu outbreak. Being a young "survivor" of the swine flu, I have to say that it was the most anticlimactic experience I have ever had. No deathbed, no fever.

    The way the media continue to portray the virus is creating unnecessary panic around the world. Many people infected with the virus don't even know they have it. The public should be outraged at news outlets that have caused mass hysteria and a mad rush for vaccines, medication and hand sanitizer.


    Unfortunately, right now they're too busy being outraged at the lack of the promised vaccine. But hopefully the day will come. Until then, you can read my bevy of swine flu anti-hype articles.

    November 3, 2009 12:00 PM  ·  Permalink

    No "Weekly Flu Watch" this week

    By Michael Fumento

    See instead my article "Swine Flu: the Real Threat Is Panic," from the New York Post.

    October 11, 2009 08:45 AM  ·  Permalink

    How did the President's Council swine flu scenario measure up?

    By Michael Fumento

    Sorta depends on who you ask.

    The read about the flu in the mainstream media, you would think men are going through the streets with carts calling "Bring out your dead." But to look at the statistics, there's not even an epidemic yet. Read my article in the New York Post. "Swine Flu: the Real Threat Is Panic."

    October 11, 2009 08:28 AM  ·  Permalink

    Weekly Flu Watch - What swine flu ISN'T doing this week

    By Michael Fumento

    Welcome to the second edition of "Weekly Flu Watch," which relies on data, rather than the apparent media dictum that "One anecdote is worth a thousand statistics."

    As I've noted previously, every Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a new edition of FluView, which tracks all types of flu but currently only swine flu since that's all that's out there now. Most figures are from the previous week, though some are newer.

    And every week the hysteria-minded media ignore it. But for those who do care about how our alleged pandemic is progressing, herewith the latest from the CDC with supplemental information from elsewhere.

    As you probably know, the media proclaimed that THIS WEEK the epidemic finally took off. Of course, that's what they said last week. Now they're wrong again.

    Total deaths since August 30 from "Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated" illness according to the CDC website are 1,397. But only 192 of those have been laboratory-confirmed as being flu of any type. And yes, people do die of pneumonia from many causes other than flu.

    The CDC no longer publishes data on swine flu cases or deaths. However, the FluTracker website does, and as of today lists 149,359 total confirmed U.S. cases with 680 deaths, compared to last week with 136,268 cases and 644 deaths.

    For the mathematically-challenged, that's just 36 deaths in the past week. By comparison, the CDC estimates 36,000 Americans die annually of seasonal flu, or about 1,800 each week during the season of approximately 140 days.

    FluTracker also provides a graph that shows new worldwide cases and deaths and that graph shows, rather graphically, that they are currently far below where they were two or three weeks ago.

    And the massive outbreak on college campuses you've been hearing about? The American College Health Association's latest weekly survey at this writing shows new cases have DROPPED by 19 percent compared to the previous week.

    FluView reports that the percentage of samples testing positive for swine flu from the sentinel system of laboratories is down slightly from last week, at 22.8 percent, with the data here. (Though as I write this the last week's figures haven't been entered yet.) Another way of looking at it is that only about a fifth of the samples that even doctors (much less scared patients) suspect may show swine flu do not show influenza of any type.

    That's one indicator of hysteria.

    Another is that despite all the indications that there were fewer new flu cases, the percentage of visits to emergency rooms and outpatient clinics by people worried they have the flu - and worried enough to seek medical attention - is incredibly high. It's about five percent of all emergency visits now.

    Finally, deaths from influenza and pneumonia are well within the normal bounds for this time of year, or as the CDC puts it, "below the epidemic threshold."

    Repeat, there is no flu epidemic. There will be because now flu season has officially started. But all the pap in the papers? False.

    October 3, 2009 02:22 PM  ·  Permalink

    Swinenewsflash! 21,000 college students missing!

    By Michael Fumento

    "Twenty-one thousand college students are sick," begins a Fox online news report titled: "H1N1 Picks Up Steam One Week Before Vaccine Becomes Available." Wow! That's a lot of sick kids! Tell us more!

    panicbutton

    But there is nothing more on those 21,000. Lots of talk about people swamping emergency rooms and school closings, yet not a single number regarding actual flu cases in a 765-word article.

    What if it began "Flying saucers land on the White House lawn" and no flying saucers were mentioned again? And no, Fox fans, I'm not picking on your favorite network. Lots of people are tossing that number around; I just stumbled upon the Fox piece first.

    Turns out the data are from the American College Health Association (ACHA) and are cumulative since August 22. So unless we assume that everybody who got the flu five weeks ago still has it, it's hardly the snapshot implied by the present tense "are" and is worthless in determining whether the bug is "picking up steam" or "petering out."

    And the truly nifty thing about cumulative cases is they never go down. So next week they can use a higher figure and the week after a still higher one. Let's play that with other diseases. "100 million Americans have cancer!" Or maybe, "10 million kids have polio!"

    Cumulative figures are also useless for determining what's happening right now - which is what this article and all the other scare stories are supposedly about. Nevertheless, the ACHA figures for the latest week at this writing show a 15% increase. Not exactly the end of the world, and in part it reflects that more institutions were reporting than the week before. Still, the increase for this week may prove much higher.

    This is how you play the game, kids. But I'm guessing there are a lot of exhausted emergency room workers, along with truly ill patients being pushed aside by the worried well, who don't really enjoy it.

    September 29, 2009 10:29 PM  ·  Permalink

    Mass outbreak of "suspected" swine flu!

    By Michael Fumento

    "U-Md. Reports Dozens of Flu Cases," declared the Washington Post headline.

    But while the story began, "The University of Maryland has 64 cases of suspected swine flu" it concludes, "The U-Md. health center is not testing students to confirm H1N1 infection, because the course of treatment is the same as with regular seasonal flu, said Beth Cavanaugh, university spokeswoman."

    And with each "suspected case" leading to many more "suspected cases," we're going to have a really epidemic of suspected swine flu cases on our hands.

    September 6, 2009 04:32 PM  ·  Permalink

    So just how lethal is swine flu?

    By Michael Fumento

    The latest WHO update show 15 countries have officially reported 615 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, or 218 outside of Mexico. Yet only Mexicans have died (16 in Mexico, 1 of a Mexican who sought treatment in the U.S.) BUT now there's been a case in Hong Kong, meaning the flu will soon hit the mainland of the world's largest underdeveloped country. When that happens, you can expect to see many more deaths - and a media that insists on using worldwide fatalities as "THE death rate" for swine flu. Never mind that as is the case for seasonal flu, avian flu, AIDS, and other infectious diseases, and as was the case for SARS, a world rate for either cases or deaths is worthless - except to promote panic, of course.

    May 2, 2009 11:16 AM  ·  Permalink

    "The Price of a Porcine Panic" (My article in Forbes.com)

    By Michael Fumento

    There's panic in the streets over a flu outbreak. "Projections are that this virus will kill 1 million Americans," the nation's top health official has warned.




    flu2009.html


    "Evil has a new face . . ."

     
    The virus is swine flu. But the date is 1976. And the projection, it turns out, is off by 999,999 deaths. Direct ones, that is. The hastily developed vaccine killed or crippled hundreds. Sadly, the current hysteria outbreak threatens devastation on a worldwide scale.

    A calm perspective of the current outbreak of the virus now known as influenza A (H1N1) would compare it to seasonal flu. According to the CDC, the seasonal flu infects between 15 to 60 million Americans each year (5% to 20%), hospitalizes about 200,000 and kills about 36,000. That comes out to over 800 hospitalizations and over 250 deaths each day during flu season.

    Keep reading here.

    April 30, 2009 10:28 PM  ·  Permalink

    Mexico's swine flu death rate plummets

    By Michael Fumento

    A member of the World Health Organization (WHO) has dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.

    Vivienne Allan, from WHO's patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths - all in Mexico - and 79 confirmed cases of the disease.

    "Unfortunately that [150-plus deaths] is incorrect information and it does happen, but that's not information that's come from the World Health Organization," Ms. Allan told ABC Radio today.

    "That figure is not a figure that's come from the World Health Organization and, I repeat, the death toll is seven and they are all from Mexico."

    Oops.

    In fact, as of this writing, the WHO still lists confirmed Mexican cases at 26, not the 1,000 + you've been reading about ad nauseum. What's going on here?

    April 29, 2009 07:39 PM  ·  Permalink

    Latest Swine Flu case and death update

    By Michael Fumento

    As of now, 118 confirmed cases outside of Mexico in 8 countries, plus 215 unconfirmed in 25 countries. Only Mexicans have died so far, though I expect we'll soon see more in other underdeveloped nations.

    April 29, 2009 12:25 PM  ·  Permalink

    NYTimes headline: "First U.S. Death From Swine Flu Is Confirmed."

    By Michael Fumento

    Um, actually a Mexican who came here for treatment. Same diff, huh?

    April 29, 2009 10:41 AM  ·  Permalink

    Pondering Pig Flu Panic

    By Michael Fumento

    Tweeters have jumped out of the gates with all their sagacious advice, such as to not eat pork products, while I go the old-fashioned route and actually research the swine flu outbreak for an article. Remember articles? But since I know some people are interested in what I'm going to say, here's a preview:

    As the outbreak develops, keep in mind that seasonal flu, according to the CDC, infects between 28 and 56 million Americans each year, hospitalizes over 100,000, and kills about 36,000. (The death figure is probably on the high side.) Did you bother to get vaccinated?

    At this point there's no evidence swine flu is easier to transmit than seasonal flu or that it's more lethal. There have been no deaths yet outside of Mexico. All infectious diseases strike much harder in underdeveloped countries because the people are less healthy to begin with.

    "Swine flu" simply means it has pig RNA mixed in. There's nothing inherent to it that would make it worse than seasonal flu. We've had a previous outbreak of swine flu; it killed one person.

    True, we have no vaccine for this flu; but two years ago it turned out that the seasonal flu shot was ineffective - the equivalent of no vaccine. We're still here.

    No, swine flu doesn't threaten to become "another Spanish Flu of 1918-19." Nothing does. Check your calendar; that was 90 years ago. Since then we've developed things called "antibiotics" as well as antivirals and other anti-flu medicines. In all flu outbreaks, including the Spanish one, the vast majority of deaths come from secondary bacterial infections.

    Still scared? Wash your hands several times a day, keep away from coughers, and stay tuned.

    April 27, 2009 08:50 PM  ·  Permalink

    Erratum, albeit obvious, in blog on Wkly Std piece on Lancet Iraq studies

    By Michael Fumento

    In my original blog, regarding my "The Casualties of War" Weekly Standard article, I wrote that the number of Iraqi dead Lancet 2006 attributed to car bombs per day was "111 times higher" than those of the antiwar group Iraqbodycount. That would be extreme, even for The Lancet. Or maybe not. As it happens, Iraqbodycount found "111 more," not 111 times more.

    January 31, 2008 11:46 AM  ·  Permalink

    Yes, Lancet lied about Iraq war deaths (My Wkly Std article)

    By Michael Fumento

    When The Lancet came out with its 2004 "pre-election surprise" study claiming a massive number of war-related Iraqi deaths since the invasion, I and others immediately poked so many holes in it that it resembled a spaghetti strainer. Undaunted, two years later the same journal published another pre-election surprise study alleging a drastically-higher 655,000 excess deaths over a longer period, with 600,000 directly from violence.

    Naturally, the media cheered until hoarse, featuring Lancet's numbers on 25 news shows and in 188 articles within a single week. Likewise for the leftist blogosphere like Daily Kos and Tim Lambert at Deltoid - who began a vendetta against me over it.

    But now, as I discuss in my current Weekly Standard article, "The Casualties of War," complete with a plethora of hyperlinks, a new study co-conducted by the World Health Organization (hardly an Iraq war booster) and appearing in America's most prestigious medical journal, directly compares itself with Lancet 2006. It also uses as comparison numbers kept by the antiwar group IraqBodyCount. The comparisons show the real carnage is whatever was left of the Lancet's reputation and that of its editor, who screeches about "Anglo-American imperialism" at anti-war rallies.

    Perhaps most importantly, for the latest comparable reporting period, the new study found Lancet's numbers to be SEVEN TIMES its own.

    The WHO's Iraq Family Health Study (IFHS) "found an estimated 151,000 excess violent deaths from the U.S-led invasion in March 2003 through June 2006, when compared to violent deaths in the prewar period," I note. "This is roughly one-fourth the war-related deaths found by Lancet in 2006."

    Specifically, for the last comparable year, "the IFHS daily figure was 2.3 times higher than that of IraqBodyCount, (while) the Lancet 2006 daily figure was a stunning 7.3 times higher than that of the IFHS and 17 times higher than that of IraqBodyCount."

    Nonetheless, the research leader for both the Lancet studies insists the IFHS findings are consistent with Lancet 2006! He's said the same of the only "study" to find a higher number than The Lancet, a British poll last year concluding over 1.2 million Iraqis had been "murdered." Die-never defenders like Lambert likewise assert that all three studies are consistent. In short, no study can possibly find so few or so many deaths that somehow it doesn't somehow support The Lancet.

    Yet one hardly need to look at outside studies to find Lancet 2006 is B.S. Consider just this.

    Lancet 2006 attributed an amazing 166 deaths on average per day to car bombings alone from June 2005-June 2006. These bombings are fastidiously reported in the U.S. media and Wikipedia keeps a list of the major ones. Yet the highest single-day car bomb total Wikipedia records (114) is 42 short of Lancet's alleged average. Lancet's daily car bomb victim average is also 111 more than Iraq Body Count figure for war-related deaths from all causes. How could IraqBodyCount miss all those bodies?

    Are the MSM now admitting to having been duped - assuming "dupe" is the proper word?

    Get real. "WHO Says Iraq Civilian Death Toll Higher Than Cited" screamed the title of The New York Times article.

    ERRATUM: In the original blog, I wrote that the number of Iraqi dead Lancet 2006 attributed to car bomb victims per day was "111 times higher" than Iraqbodycount. That would be extreme, even for The Lancet. Or maybe not. As it happens, it's "111 more," not 111 times more.

    January 28, 2008 02:25 PM  ·  Permalink

    CBS lies again on veteran suicide data

    By Michael Fumento

    "Contrary to Fumento's statement, the data, as well as the methodology used to collect and analyze it, have been available online for anyone to access." So writes Armen Keteyian, CBS's Chief Investigative Correspondent and the man behind the story that vets are killing themselves at twice the rate of non-vets.

    Said Keteyian in his New York Post letter about my article, not my "statement." "Our investigative unit collected official suicide data for veterans from all branches of the military from 45 states" and had it independently analyzed by a University of Georgia biostatistics expert. Very basic data were online and I said so and my website links to it.

    But "45 states sent us numbers" is not a proper explanation of methodology. It's also not changed by their having an outside bio-statistician look at their final numbers, insofar as he had no way of knowing what went into making those numbers - something CBS completely glossed over for obvious reasons.

    Further, the methodology from each state would vary. What did CBS do to make this a proper meta-analysis?

    Insofar as they used amateurs, even if they tried to be honest they couldn't be. And rarely does anybody ever accuse CBS of trying to be honest. Epidemiology is horribly complex. I've said it many times: After 20 years of writing about epidemiology, I can poke a hole in a bad epi study in five minutes. I can also detect that a ship is sinking in five minutes. But never would I deign to either design or build a ship. CBS took that step and was undeterred by the reality that nobody else out there came who has studied this issue got results indicating any increased suicide risk for veterans anywhere.

    CBS's final word: "After the reports aired, Congressional [sic] hearings were requested," wrote Keteyian. Yes, because only Congress still believes anything aired on CBS. But gee, what if those hearings had been called by a Wisconsin Senator named Joe McCarthy . . .

    December 2, 2007 12:09 PM  ·  Permalink

    CBS's Bogus Vet Suicide Epidemic Claim

    By Michael Fumento

    As you know, there are two federal holidays in November. Thanksgiving is one, "Exploit the Veterans Day" is the other. Say again? Never mind that we vets excel in measurable ways such as education, employment, and pay. Activist groups and the media always have fresh reports ready in November showing how wretched our lives are.

    This year the goons were CBS News and a homeless activist group. I'll deal with homeless group in a later piece; but in the New York Post I take on CBS's claim that a study they conducted all by their lonesomes (Big red flag there.) shows an "epidemic" of veterans ending their poor miserable lives. (And if you don't believe that, CBS has some documents on President Bush's National Guard service they'd like to sell you. )

    The CBS suicide claim goes against lots of detailed published reports regarding both active duty service personnel and veterans. For example, the suicide rate among Vietnam vets and Gulf War vets is no higher than among comparable civilians. Why would there be such a high suicide rate among vets in general then, most of whom served during peacetime? And while naturally CBS wants to blame its "findings" on PTSD, I also discuss studies showing that vets with PTSD are less likely to kill themselves. All CBS's "study" showed us was a crass way of raising ratings.

    November 19, 2007 08:22 PM  ·  Permalink

    So much for the Lancet's "massive Iraqi civilian death" study

    By Michael Fumento

    Remember the Lancet study in 2004 claiming that "about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq," and that "Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths?"

    I wrote on this as soon as it appeared, observing that several indicators showed it was a piece of crock. But others did much more in-depth analyses, including Shannon Love at Chicago Boyz. He has now found out via Michelle Malkin and Instapundit that a forthcoming study by David Kane, Institute Fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, shows just how wrong the original study was. Love notes among other things that that "if the Falluja cluster is included in the statistical calculations, the confidence interval dips below zero" meaning that it loses statistical significance. Without statistical significance, the findings mean nothing,

    I claimed at the time the "100,000 death study" was pure politics (It came out right before the presidential election) and intentional deception on the part of the authors and the Lancet editor himself and there's no reason to think otherwise now.

    Incidentally, as I was putting this blog together I accidentally posted it, making Love's words look like my own. Mea culpa.

    July 28, 2007 06:14 PM  ·  Permalink

    Does racism really cause breast cancer?

    By Michael Fumento

    "Breast Cancer Link to Racial Discrimination." No doubt that Reuters headline, and others like it, pleased race-baiters who would have us think every problem blacks have is due to persistent prejudice. Sadly for them, as I write in The American Spectator Online, the report is politically correct trash that any conscientious landfill would reject.

    Yes, statistically it's a bunch of hooey, as you might guess. But here's just a bit of interesting data that blows it to bits that would have taken any decent reporter a couple of minutes to find.
    Breast cancer rates are much lower for black women than white women. According to the National Institutes for Health, for the latest year for which data are available black women have only 84 percent the rate of breast cancer as non-Hispanic white women.

    Asians, incidentally, have 68 percent the rate of whites and Hispanics 62 percent. Now here's the real stunner. American Indians, plagued by the inherent discrimination of the horrendous reservation system, have less than half the breast cancer rate of non-Hispanic whites.

    The obvious conclusion: Reverse discrimination causes breast cancer.

    (Yeah, I'm just kidding.)

    July 16, 2007 09:03 AM  ·  Permalink

    How to win the CNN Young Journalist Award? Fabrication and Plagiarism

    By Michael Fumento

    "Negotiating with the Taliban is like going to dinner with Hannibal Lector," Michael Fumento, an American author and columnist on the West's engagement in Afghanistan, told ISN Security Watch. "You cannot gain."

    So declares Anuj Chopra in his June 30 article, "At the Table with the Taliban," for ISN News. (Swiss-based International Relations and Security Network)

    Problem is, I never spoke or exchanged e-mails with anybody at ISN Security Watch, to include Mr. Chopra. I had never heard of either the writer or the publication. But I did say (or rather write, those words in my own article that appeared in various print and online periodicals and on my own website. He simply lifted them and made it look like it was from an interview.

    He subsequently writes:

    Responding to the German offer to hold talks with the "moderate Taliban," Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, the former Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, in a recent interview with the Pak Tribune news portal, rubbished the view that there was any moderate faction within the Taliban. "There is no separation between Taliban as moderate, hardliner or others," said the former ambassador, who currently lives under house arrest in Kabul.

    I had written about the German offer and then stated: "Agreeing was none other than Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban regime ambassador to Islamabad now under house arrest in Kabul. 'There is no separation between Taliban as moderate, hardliner or others,' he says. I hyperlinked to the Pak Tribune news portal.

    I don't know if that's quasi-plagiarism or the real McCoy, but saying you interviewed someone you didn't is still called "lying" in these here United States. Chopra's byline states that he is "the 2005 recipient of the CNN Young Journalist Award in the print category." Now you know how to get ahead in journalism.

    I've written both to ISN News and to the website that I saw Chopra's article on. Let's see what, if anything, they say or do.

    July 10, 2007 07:02 PM  ·  Permalink

    Embryonic stem cell science rejuvenates . . . itself!

    By Michael Fumento

    My unpublished letter to the Washington Post:

    "Scientists Use Skin To Create [Embryonic] Stem Cells," reads the p. A1 article by Rick Weiss in the June 7, 2007 Post, sub-headed "Discovery Could Recast Debate." Discovery? Then what of another Post A1 article by Rick Weiss titled: "Skin Cells Converted to Stem Cells," that began "Scientists for the first time . . . " That appeared in August of 2005. So how and why did that which was old become new again? Was the first study withdrawn? No. Maybe the explanation lies in the reference to "debate" and the fact that the reports Weiss relied upon for his second "discovery" piece appeared the day the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on giving more research funds to embryonic stem cell research.

    June 11, 2007 06:19 PM  ·  Permalink

    Al Gore the Genius?

    By Michael Fumento

    A letter to the Washington Post:

    At least twice recently, The Post has published columns about how Al Gore is extremely intelligent - "Is It Wise to Be So Smart?" [Washington Sketch, May 30] and "An Egghead for the Oval Office" [op-ed, June 1].
    Each time The Post failed to mention how Gore was a C student in college (including a C and a D in his science courses) and failed to complete either of two graduate programs, as described in The Post seven years ago ["Gore's Grades Belie Image of Studiousness; His School Transcripts Are a Lot Like Bush's," front page, March 19, 2000].
    Hardly seems like a great intellect.

    - Michael Bur

    In fact, if you read Gore's first book you know he's scarily stupid. "South Park" aptly portrayed him as warning people about a dangerous creature that's "half man, half bear, and half pig." Explanation? If you reach politically correct conclusions, you're a genius no matter how wrong you are. Paul Ehrlich is the classic example of this. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day but Ehrlich has never been correct about anything. But he reaches the "right" conclusions and gets a "Genius Award." Gore's check is probably in the mail.

    June 10, 2007 10:32 PM  ·  Permalink

    A Blog on Warblogging

    By Michael Fumento

    When you make a decision to go to a war zone and leave behind the comforts of home, you do just that. There are true pleasures to being out there with guys defending our country and there are true deprivations. Of course, there are war zones and there are war zones. In Iraq's International Zone (Green Zone) or in Baghdad hotels or even a major base like Camp Fallujah and Camp Ramadi, you have a real degree of comfort and ease in going about your work. Likewise for Bagram Air Base or Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan. But join the troops at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) and comfort and ease of work plummets. Those are the places I go to and I only have two real concerns when I get there.

    UN grain donation (note the light blue bags). Photo by Michael Fumento. Click image for larger view.
    First, I want every chance to see combat, and hence be in a dangerous area and go on every patrol. We need reporters who work out of safe areas; I'm just not one of them. That's why I refused to go to Tikrit in Iraq when the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) tried to send me there. There was virtually no chance of combat and, as it happens, during the time I would have been there was none. Now CPIC is mad at me for not shelling out my own money for airfare and war insurance to spend 12 days where I knew nothing would happen and where nothing did happen.

    Second, since while I do write articles when I get back but blog while here I need a degree of internet access. And a degree is all you to get. Connections are almost always mind-numbingly slow. You can wait literally 10 minutes or more just for a website to come up. Some will never come up because they're too loaded with graphics.

    As a general rule, you're limited to only 30 minutes online and unfortunately there are no rules on what you can do in that time. For example, at Camp Corregidor in Ramadi I saw a guy using his time to play solitaire which, so I'm told, can be played on an unconnected laptop. In fact, and again I'm just going by what I was told, it can even be played with no computer at all using something called "a deck of cards."

    Donkey cart in Qalat. Photo by Michael Fumento. Click image for larger view.
    Anyway, whatever the soldiers do with their time, as a blogger you can spend as much as half yours just connecting to the site where you upload your blog text and photos.

    I'm a bit perplexed at complaints I've heard from citizen embeds about their computer connections being so slow that they don't even have time for proper spelling or -- far more importantly -- uploading photos. That's because there's no way you would ever write a blog or format a photo on their computers; you do it on your own laptop. First you write your blog and save it as a file. As for the photos, they must be resized or they won't just be a pig in a python; rather your connection will time out and the photos won't be sent at all. In my case I shoot at 5 megapixels, which is enough for a magazine cover, but I use free software to reduce them to 640,000 pixels. On a computer screen, anything more than that many pixels is wasted.

    At this point, your actions are dictated by whether the MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) center has either computers or just a hookup for your laptop. (Even if you hook up your own, the 30-minute rule still generally applies.) If you can't hook up your own computer (and here at FOB Mizan it's the only way), then you use theirs. If you use theirs, before you get on and start burning your 30 minutes you'll have transferred everything to a USB drive.

    Your intrepid reporter firing a laser-sited M-4 carbine (I killed 31 Taliban with a 30-round magazine). Photo by Michael Fumento. Click image for larger view.
    I've never seen a computer in either war theater that was so old it didn't have USB ports, but I bring a portable floppy drive with me just in case. At this point, you need only connect to your upload site and begin uploading. Without photos the text upload on even the slowest lines should still take only seconds. If you're attaching photos, at 640,000 pixels you could be adding 15 - 20 seconds per image.

    Easier yet, you can simply send your photos and blog file with photo captions to a third party, in my case my wife, and have him or her do the posting to your blog.

    Alternatively, the Big Boys with the MSM completely avoid the Internet by using an R-BGAN, a satellite hookup direct from the laptop to a box placed outside facing the right direction. They aren't cheap and I don't feel I can afford one myself, but you can also rent them -- although I don't feel I can afford that either! If I could I'd invest the money in other areas such as improving my body armor.

    But I know Bill Roggio has an R-BGAN and Mike Yon had one at one time. I'm sure some other citizen embeds have them as well. Then you actually have time to check the sports scores, see if your stock portfolio has plummeted, or even -- gasp -- send an e-mail to your wife and cat.

    I hope we can give them a free country in which to grow up. Photo by Michael Fumento. Click image for larger view.
    One way or another, you take what you can get out here. (In a previous blog I said the showers here are hot; today I found out that isn't always the case. I hate cold showers!) Otherwise, put your blogging skills to work in your comfy home or office. That's what 99.999999999 percent of American bloggers do and nobody will think the worse of you if you fall into that percentage. But if you're going to be a warblogger, you'll work under war conditions. And the most exciting places to report from, the places where you'll be reporting on the servicemen and women who are truly putting their lives at risk, are the most grueling. Unlike the soldiers, nobody ordered you here. You chose it; now suck it up.

    Michael Fumento has paid for this trip entirely out of pocket, including roundtrip airfare to Kuwait, war insurance, and virtually all his gear. Please support him via PayPal Donate or Amazon Honor System via the logos below.


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    April 24, 2007 10:17 AM  ·  Permalink

    Why am I here when I should be embedded in Iraq?

    By Michael Fumento

    Military public affairs keeps thinking that if they just keep licking the boots of the mainstream media, that media will finally give our troops an even break and accurately report the war. That or it's absolutely clueless that in a guerrilla war, as the Tet Offensive so well demonstrated, perception as relayed by the media is far more important than reality. As to citizen embeds like me, with a track record for supporting the troops and reporting facts, as I note in my Daily Standard article, I was offered literally no embed but Tikrit - where there is no war. This is notwithstanding that one of the two principals responsible for this idiocy, Col. Stephen Boylan, reports directly to Gen. Dave Petraeus, commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq. And he knows Petraeus said of my first Ramadi article: "Great stuff with a great unit in a very tough neighborhood!" Obviously Col. Boylan and Lt. Col. Garvin, head of the Combined Press Information Center, think we need that type of reporter twiddling his thumbs in a pacified area of Iraq, leaving us dependent on the mainstream media to provide war news collected from Baghdad hotels.

    March 4, 2007 03:52 PM  ·  Permalink

    Ollie North and Fox continue coverup of North's role in Ramadi deaths

    By Michael Fumento

    Oliver Northl
    Oliver North: Remaining Unfaithful

    On December 6, Marine Maj. Megan McClung, Army Capt. Travis Patriquin, and Army Spc. Vincent Pomante were killed instantly in Ramadi when their Humvee was ripped apart by an IED. At the time, they were accompanying Fox TV's Ollie North and his crew plus a Newsweek reporter to their embed positions. Newsweek never even mentioned their deaths. North subsequently noted McClung's death, while ignoring that of the soldiers. He also made no mention that any of them died helping him. Fox went even further, falsely claiming on February 7th that they "died while supporting combat operations." Sorry, embedding is not a combat operation. North had a chance to change this during his "War Stories" broadcast of Feb. 11, when he mentioned the deaths. But all he said was they occurred, "while War Stories was embedded with 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division."

    These three people, including the top female Marine to perish in Iraq, died helping North with his mission and he refuses to acknowledge it. Obviously "Semper Fidelis," for all of his grandstanding, means nothing to him.

    February 22, 2007 05:53 PM  ·  Permalink

    GI Malkin to report for duty in Iraq

    By Michael Fumento

    Michelle MalkinMichelle Malkin has announced she's heading for Iraq. I've known of this for a little while and have had mixed feelings. On the one hand, she's an old friend dating back about 13 years. She can seem hard-edged in her blogs and columns, but some of her worst enemies would take a liking to her if they knew her in person. Put another way, I don't want to see her butt zapped. Conversely, I have repeatedly exhorted that nobody can understand Iraq or the war who hasn't been there. The vast majority of self-styled Iraqi experts at the think tanks and in the media have not in fact been there. Some have called them chicken hawks and "Chairborne Rangers;" I will simply say they are ignorant. Michelle has blogged constantly on Iraq, but mentally I gave her a pass because she's not exactly natural embed material. She has no military background, she has two small children at home, and she's so small both in height and frame that she may constitute the lightest embed ever to go over. When I gave her my body armor and helmet on Christmas Day I honestly thought she might tip over. I wear an X-Large while she's a Super-Tiny. Hopefully once she arrives at her duty station she can swap it for something smaller and more protective (I have no side ceramic plates).

    As to that duty station, those with Malkin Derangement Syndrome (her hate mail makes mine look positively quaint) are already blogging that this will be just another celebrity tour. They couldn't be more wrong. The Celebrity Tour, as exemplified recently by Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and others who aren't of Irish extraction comprises flying into Baghdad International and bedding down in comfy-cozy celebrity quarters in one of the three huge bases right next to the airport. These bases receive virtually no shelling and are literally safer than most American cities. Once there they schmooze with troops, the overwhelming majority of which have never seen combat. The result is that these people get all the celebrities; the guys doing the fighting and dying in the real Iraq just get grunt reporters like Mike Fumento.

    Michelle is not taking that route. OPSEC forbids revealing her destination, but suffice to say it's a camp that's actually smaller than my Forward Operating Base of Camp Corregidor in Ramadi. That makes it likely to be shelled. It has perhaps no more than half a dozen women and she'll probably sleep in a crackerbox -- hopefully sans rats. It's not like the Anbar, but outside the wire IEDs await, and quite possibly snipers. Ambushes are possible. Yes, Michelle will be a celebrity and I've urged her to bring as many photos as she can to sign for the troops; the men will never forget her visit. But she's going as a true embedded reporter. She's got a lot of guts in that tiny frame of hers. We should all wish her Godspeed.

    January 4, 2007 01:53 PM  ·  Permalink

    Confirmation (and commentary) on reporters escorted by McClung et al.

    By Michael Fumento

    According to Lt. Col. Bryan F. Salas, head of public affairs for Multi National Force -- West, "They [Maj. Megan McClung et al.] had dropped off FOX and were heading to another location with Newsweek." "FOX" means Lt. Col. Oliver North and his camera crew. I have yet to find any mention of the Dec. 6 IED explosion that killed their three escorts -- Maj. McClung, Capt. Travis Patriquin, and Spec. Vincent J. Pomante III -- in Newsweek (although I haven't seen today's print edition), by North in his broadcasts from Ramadi, or even by Fox News generally. This is an oversight that must be corrected. That said, according to this news story, Megan McClung's father "said he heard Oliver North may be planning some sort of memorial for Megan." Let us hope so.

    I must say I'm rather upset about all of this and not just because I knew two of the deceased parties. In the blink of an eye, we lost the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy [See correction below] and an utterly outstanding PAO; a hero of Operation Anaconda and a designer of the program to bring the citizens of Ramadi into the anti-terrorist fight; and a 22-year-old kid who was just shy of leaving the service and was probably in that Humvee only because they needed a turret gunner. Why? I went into the city of Ramadi on three occasions without PAO escort. I'll bet The New Republic's Larry Kaplan, who went in at about the same time as Fox and Newsweek, didn't get an escort. I don't know who made the decisions in this case -- save that even Newsweek and Ollie North can't order the military around. I do know that in Ramadi nobody goes outside the wire that absolutely doesn't have to. I went out on every occasion I could because that was my job; that's the only valid reason. I would like both the media and the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad to rethink the rules of PAO escorts in especially dangerous areas.

    Correction: Maj. McClung was the highest-ranked female officer to die in Iraq. She was not the first female graduate of Annapolis. Not by a long shot. My bad for trusting what I read without verifying it, especially when there's an AP story that's been picked up all over the place that says I first met McClung in Baghdad. I clearly told the guy it was Fallujah and urged him to read my short tribute to her, which said the same.

    December 18, 2006 12:31 PM  ·  Permalink

    The avian flu chicken littles are still wrong

    By Michael Fumento

    Feathers flew in November of last year when the Weekly Standard ran as its cover piece my article, Fuss and Feathers: Pandemic Panic over the Avian Flu. My favorite question during a TV appearance: "Mr. Fumento, why are you the only one saying these things?" My answer: "I'm probably not; I'm just the only one you've bothered to bring onto your show." The current issue carries my follow-up, "The Chicken Littles Were Wrong: The Bird Flu Threat Flew the Coop. It explains that while the media hysteria has abated (for now), the effects linger on in the American psyche. A Harvard School of Public Health survey of adults who have children revealed that 44 percent think it "likely" or "somewhat likely" there will be "cases of bird flu among humans in the U.S. during the next 12 months." Less than a fifth of respondents considered it "not at all" likely. Further, an avian flu bureaucracy has become entrenched. Like all bureaucracies, it will fight to survive and thrive, egging on governments to provide ever more money.

    The ensuing year not only has not brought the pandemic down upon us, it has brought to light considerably more evidence of why it's not an immediate threat and why whatever threat there is diminishes by the day. Health officials, the media, and their self-anointed experts (Definition of "media expert:" the more alarmist you are the greater your expertise) lied to us about AIDS, Ebola, SARS, and even avian flu back in 1997-98. Now we see they've lied again. We know there were people who knew better at the time because I exposed every one of these faux pandemics before the media got tired of them. So when are finally going to flip the channel on the panic-mongers and watch something more substantive -- like Paris Hilton's latest reality show?

    December 17, 2006 06:35 PM  ·  Permalink

    Time Magazine on Ramadi, "The Most Dangerous Place in Iraq"

    By Michael Fumento

    Pitman
    U.S. and Iraqi Forces in Combat in the Industrial Zone
    Photo by Todd Pitman/AP

    Perhaps the MSM is catching on that in terms of combat, it's not Baghdad but Ramadi that's the fiercest city in the country. Featuring a photo by my AP colleague Todd Pitman from the April 22, 2006 firefight we were both in, Time magazine's December 11 online edition declares: "Tallies of the war dead from August to November show that more than two-thirds of the U.S. casualties in Iraq were outside Baghdad, with four in 10 of those deaths occurring in Anbar Province. Much of the killing happens in Ramadi, where insurgents and fighters from al-Qaeda in Iraq attack Marines, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces almost daily."

    Yet the writer, who appears to have spent most of his time in Camp Ramadi's hospital witnessing all manner of horrible wounds, in an audio feed, says conditions in the city do appear to be improving.

    December 12, 2006 06:12 PM  ·  Permalink

    The real Ramadi HAS stood up

    By Michael Fumento

    In a Nov. 29 blog, "Will the real Ramadi please stand up?" I observed that three articles on conditions in Ramadi and al Anbar Province had appeared within a week of each other giving entirely different points of view. Mine and one in the Times of London said we're winning the war in Ramadi; a Washington Post A1 story co-authored by "Fiasco" author Thomas Ricks claimed exactly the opposite. The difference, I said, could be explained simply. I and the Times writer reported from Ramadi. Ricks and his co-author have not only never been to Ramadi, they wrote their piece from Washington. Well now the WashPost has printed another article on the city, this time an upbeat one. What gives? You guessed it.The second one was reported from Ramadi. Case closed, thank you very much. Unfortunately, it's little solace knowing how few journalists ever leave their safe little hovels in Baghdad hotels or Washington, D.C.

    December 10, 2006 07:59 PM  ·  Permalink

    Fumento interviews on Ramadi and the media - TV, radio, print

    By Michael Fumento

    Photo of Michael FumentoC-SPAN's Washington Journal

    The Mike Rosen Show on 850 KOA Denver
    Part One
    Part Two

    John Hawkins' Right Wing News

    November 30, 2006 11:30 PM  ·  Permalink

    Will the real Ramadi please stand up?

    By Michael Fumento

    "The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq [Al Anbar Province] or counter al Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report," began a front-page article in yesterday's Washington Post by Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks. It concerned the so-called "Devlin Report," a five-page document allegedly filled with gloom and doom. It contrasts completely with my article Return to Ramadi, in the Nov. 27 Weekly Standard, in which I write that the largest city in the province is slowly being reclaimed from al Qaeda. By coincidence, the day my article hit the stands the Times of London published an extensive article coming to the same conclusion as mine. But for the timing, you'd practically think one of us had plagiarized the other.

    Why such different conclusions between our articles and the Post's and whom to believe?

    It helps to know that the Times writer and I both went to and reported from Ramadi. We didn't summarize classified documents or quote unnamed sources. Linzer and Ricks stayed home and reported from Washington, relying entirely on an unpublished document in addition to quoting a "senior intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity." I have recently ripped the media's "Baghdad Brigade" for pretending it can cover a country the size of California from a single Iraqi city. What does that say about those who think they can cover Al Anbar from Washington?

    All of this illustrates a point I and others have desperately tried to make, that you cannot understand the Anbar if you haven't been there. That's why I went three times to the province and twice to Ramadi itself. It wasn't to attend a beerfest. It may also help explain things that Ricks has a recent book declaring the war a "Fiasco," and hence is already inclined towards a pessimistic view. Top-notch milblogger Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail declares, "Military and intelligence sources that I spoke to who have read the [Devlin] report indicate that they largely agree with [it] . . . but not as presented by the Washington Post." (Emphasis his.)

    Alas, as much attention as my article has gotten it's hard to compete with a Post A1 article. Further, as Vietnam's Tet Offensive proved, guerrilla wars are as likely to be decided in the media as on the battlefield. It's looking like Iraq will prove no exception.

    (Michael Fumento maintains a hybrid website at Fumento.com with blogs from his last two trips to Al Anbar, photos from all three trips, and two major articles from his trip earlier this year. Especially recommended is "The New Band of Brothers," which contains links to much combat video.)

    November 29, 2006 08:00 PM  ·  Permalink

    More of the Baghdad Press Corp's Egocentric View of the War

    By Michael Fumento

    According to CNN, "A U.S. Air Force F-16CG fighter jet crashed at 1:35 p.m. (5:35 a.m. ET) Monday outside Baghdad while making a "strafing run" - firing on targets at a low altitude - an American military official in Baghdad said." Where outside Baghdad? Turns out it was "operating near Fallujah . . . " In other words, it was "outside Baghdad" like Washington, D.C. is outside New York City.

    November 27, 2006 07:07 PM  ·  Permalink

    Sig Christenson's (failed) attempt to blame military for embed shortage

    By Michael Fumento

    Below is an exchange with Sig Christenson and another fellow in which I am castigated for claiming that the lack of embeds in Iraq just may be the fault of something other than the military. Apply Occam's Razor, that the simplest solution is probably the best. We don't have more embeds primarily because journalists don't want to be embedded. (Also, judging by my mail, lots of vets would like to be embeds but have no media outlet to support them.) Embedding is tough on those used to the luxurious American lifestyle and depending on where you go you it can be dangerous. Far easier to just label yourself a war correspondent and work out of the International Zone in Baghdad or a Baghdad hotel, using phones and emails and letting Iraqi stringers do the real work. It still looks great on your resume and you don't have to worry about having shrapnel dug out of your rear end. Note (as I should have in my response, that Christenson admits he was only embedded once in Iraq, back in 2003, and since then has worked out of Baghdad hotels. He is thus a member of the "Baghdad Brigade," of which I have been so critical. As to his references in his online bios about being voted "reporter of the year" by his peers, he means the small group of reporters at his own newspaper. Little wonder that he doesn't specify who his "peers" are.

    Christenson:
    Michael Fumento's piece on embedding is the product of sloppy research and should have been better vetted. As it stands, it contains several errors, the first of which is that I am president of Military Reporters & Editors. I was president of MRE until 5th annual conference last month in Chicago. He'd have known that if he had bothered to check the MRE website,

    Mr. Fumento is correct in calling the small number of embeds in Iraq grotesque. But he wrong in saying "the MSM Baghdad press corps," as he refers to the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Cox and the major broadcast networks, among others, "bizarrely believes it can cover a country of 26 million people" by relying on stringers, e-mail and phones. I know a few of those mainstream media people and none of them has ever suggested such a thing. So just where did he come up with this notion? Did Mr. Fumento interview any of those reporters now working on their own in Baghdad?

    If so, he ought to share their comments with us to support his case.

    It is my belief that the media must do better than the bombing-of-the-day story if Americans are to have any idea of the dimensions of this war in Iraq. That is why MRE is working with other war correspondents and military officers to develop a better embed process. But I take exception to his suggestion that these Baghdad journalists "may as well be back in the States" is idiotic. It implies that they never get out and that they and their Iraqi employees never take risks. Anyone who has worked as a unilateral damned well knows better.

    A careful look at my views on the subject of the media's problems with embedding, including a read of my blogs on www.mysanantonio.com, will reveal that I have never placed the blame for the lack of embeds in Iraq solely on the military. There are many factors, particularly the belief among some editors I know that the benefits of reporting on Iraq either as embeds or unilaterals is not worth the risk. Cost is another critical factor. If you work on your own in Baghdad, you now will need a security team and, perhaps, an armored vehicle. While Mr. Fumento underestimates the cost of flying to Kuwait and Jordan by using a Washington-to-Amman/Kuwait flight model (many reporters who might go there live far from National and Dulles), he skips right over the most expensive parts of such a tour for non-embeds.

    I'm familiar with those costs because I have run up the bills.

    The embed process is laborious, and could be much improved, and the Rhino Runner armored bus to the Green Zone - as the Iraqis have long called it - does indeed run only at night. It ran during the day in July 2004, but did not during my tour last summer. For more on how we got from the airport to the Green Zone because of the Rhino's odd hours, go the San Antonio Express-News' Military City blogs. There's a good story on what photographer Nicole Fruge and I had to do in order to meet the U.S. adviser to Anbar province's governor.

    And as to the CPIC identification badge, it was not accepted on numerous occasions at dining halls at Balad Air Base in August and early September. The armed Ugandan guards who control entry to the dining halls consistently refused to allow us in, referring to a large white binder that included all of the badges that were accepted, and then pointing out that ours was not. They were sticklers for the rules in that regard, but in one case a specialist ordered the guard to let us in. Mr. Fumento might have known that if he had called or e-mailed me.

    That's the real problem here. In sharing his opinions with us, he failed to do his homework.

    His many errors are the only reason I am responding to his column at all.

    I've been to Iraq four times and know something of life as both an embed, first with the 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion, and also as a unilateral working out of several hotels in Baghdad. I also know a little something about journalism and the issues there. The next time Mr. Fumento writes a column about me, he ought to do the bare minimum and read some of my work. He might also call me. That would be a good start in offering an informed opinion.
    - Sig Christenson
    Immediate past president and co-founder,
    Military Reporters & Editors
    Military writer, San Antonio Express-News

    Another writer:

    I wish to correct an error in the Fumento story.

    "Christenson even insists that once an embed receives his press pass, 'The problem with going through hell to get that card is it won't get you into the KBR dining hall on any forward operating base in Iraq.' Wrong again. That press pass gets you into any chow hall in Iraq."

    A press ID most certainly will not grant access to ANY chow hall in Iraq -- KBR or otherwise. The originators comment was about DFACs on the FOBs, and a press pass may very well gain them that access...but only if they're allowed on post. In the north, if you don't have a CAC card, (DoD ID card), then you're not getting past the front door of the main DFAC - all the contractors scurrying about have to make their own arrangements for food (KBR being the exception of course).

    However, a lot of KBR "chow halls" (and the best) aren't located on the FOBs and those are the places that the press would love to gain access. The REOs. For two years I watched press personnel try and scheme their way into the main compound in the IZ [International Zone in Baghdad] only to find they had to be under watch 24/7 and even then - no chow hall or accommodation. Now I'm at another location serviced by KBR and again, Press passes aren't acceptable forms of ID to the soldiers at the entrances.

    Likely because no one wants the press around. War is the business of kills - for both trooper and contractor alike. The media makes it socially unacceptable to like what you're doing out here.

    Anyway, I'm off the soapbox now, but I would like to say that I do very much like the article.
    - James H.


    Michael Fumento replies:

    Let's start with this press pass-chow hall thing, which really makes me wonder if we aren't talking about two different Iraqs. I have eaten at chow halls at six different bases and two major Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). Three of the bases were in the north. On my last trip, I forgot my pass at FOB Blue Diamond in Ramadi but it was enough to have a sergeant vouch for me. I did eat at the main compound in the IZ last year by simply flashing my press card - no scheming necessary. I also ate at the Baghdad embassy compound in the IZ and stayed in a transient tent in the IZ before I got credentialed. It should go without saying that you have to be allowed on post to be allowed in the chow hall.

    Nor have I heard any other embed I've met in Iraq complain about access to chow. A frequently embedded reporter in Iraq whom I met this last trip, Andrew Lubin, told me the only time he was turned away from a chow hall was because he wasn't wearing a collared shirt. As I write this, I've just received an email from Spc. Jon Hernandez at Camp Victory, near Baghdad's airport. "As a member of a convoy team here in Iraq it is my duty to transport people and equipment around Baghdad and to guard the Dining Facility (DFAC)," he writes. "Our favorite mission is the airport because [the airport road] is indeed safe, and we have never denied a member of the press access to our dining facility - to say otherwise is outright deception."

    Regarding Christenson's side of this complaint, he originally wrote: "The problem with going through hell to get that [press] card is it won't get you into the KBR dining hall on any forward operating base in Iraq." (Emphasis mine.) That means nowhere, from nobody, at no time. Now he changes that to "not accepted [from him, that is] on numerous occasions at dining halls at Balad Air Base in August and early September," blaming it on the Ugandan guards. Yes, the Ugandans are a pain in the butt and they've stopped me. I grabbed an officer to vouch for me and in I went. Embeds without that much initiative don't belong in a combat zone.

    Mea culpa on not catching that Christenson is no longer MRE president as of a few weeks ago. But since I quoted Christenson's statements from the MRE site, it's rather obvious I did read it.

    My "notion" about the MSM Baghdad Brigade was the subject of a 5,000-word article I wrote and to which I linked in the TAS article. It speaks not well of Christenson that he either didn't click it or ignored what he read. I not only made my case separately, but offered the following: "The London Independent's Robert Fisk has written of 'hotel journalism,' while former Washington Post Bureau Chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran has called it 'journalism by remote control.' More damningly, Maggie O'Kane of the British newspaper The Guardian said: 'We no longer know what is going on, but we are pretending we do.'" I also noted the New York Review of Books did a whole article on Baghdad hotel journalism.

    Christenson says I "underestimate the cost of flying to Kuwait and Jordan" because I use D.C.-area airports as the starting point. Never mind my noting that he said it cost $2,000 to fly commercial from the States into Baghdad when there are no U.S-Iraq commercial flights. In the event, a one-stop from LAX to Jordan or a two-stop from Christenson's San Antonio are both still less than $1,500 and some fares are below $1,000.

    Yes, the Rhino only runs at night. If you get in early and don't catch a helo, it's a long wait. But as with those allegedly monstrous embed applications, again if you haven't got what it takes to put up with this why go to Iraq instead of staying home and eating bon-bons? Sherman was certainly right: War is heck.

    November 15, 2006 04:04 PM  ·  Permalink

    Military Unfairly Blamed for Embed Problem

    By Michael Fumento

    All Americans, whatever their views on the Iraq war, have an interest and a right to know what's really happening there. Embeds provide a unique perspective, going in with the troops themselves rather than trying to cover a country the size of California from hotels in Baghdad. Yet Iraqi embeds have almost become extinct. Some recently have blamed the military for this, but much of the blame actually goes to the media itself. Read about it in my new American Spectator article, "Military Unfairly Blamed for Embed Problem."

    November 13, 2006 11:55 PM  ·  Permalink

    They're not real war correspondents but they play them on TV

    By Michael Fumento

    I've posted an extended version of my article in the current National Review on "The Baghdad Brigade," reporters who pretend they can and are covering the war throughout Iraq from the IZ and hotel rooms in Baghdad. It shows the incredible lengths they go through to show that they really are rough and tough war correspondents when in fact they may as well be covering the war from New York or Washington. It shows why, political bias aside, the media CANNOT properly cover the Iraq war.

    (I'm working on other Iraq articles as well, including the main one tentatively titled "Retaking Ramadi.")

    Michael Fumento has paid for this trip entirely out of pocket, including roundtrip airfare to Kuwait, hotels in Kuwait, war insurance, and virtually all his gear. Please support him via PayPal Donate or Amazon Honor System via the logos below.


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    October 25, 2006 07:13 PM  ·  Permalink

    Wiki-attacks

    By Michael Fumento

    In today's Washington Post, an article on the posthumous update of the Wikipedia entry of former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay illustrates one way in which the online dictionary can be abused. As the Post points out, "Unlike, say, the Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia has no formal peer review for its articles. They may be written by experts or insane crazy people. Or worse, insane crazy people with an agenda. And Internet access." Tell me about it.

    In Lay's case, the Post said, he'd barely been pronounced dead when the first entry appeared. Lay's Wikipedia entry said he had died "of an apparent suicide." Two minutes later, the article was "updated" to say Lay had died "of an apparent heart attack or suicide." Within the same minute, a Wiki author backtracked, and the article said the cause of death was "yet to be determined." And then, said the Post, "the yahoos began weighing in."

    But what if you're still alive and kicking and somebody just doesn't like you? That's what's happened to me. An Aussie named Tim Lambert has as his raison d'etre attacking anybody who is more intelligent, more successful, and more relevant than he is. That leaves him with 6.3 billion targets -- more or less. But I ended up on his radar screen by making fun of him, as I am now. So he attacks me in any way he can, which as it happens is limited to the only two outlets in the whole world that will deign to publish him -- his blog and Wikipedia. (Perhaps at some point his blog will say "Enough is enough!" but probably not.) Nor will Wikipedia reject him. I have many outlets because I work for a living. But Lambert does nothing but teach a few computer science courses so he has something I don't, namely time. So he blogs, and blogs, and blogs and frequently enough attacks me. Worse yet, he uses Wikipedia to the same end. At one time I tried to pull one of his false attacks down from my Wikipedia entry but Lambert, with far more time than I have, simply kept putting it back up. Moreover, he then accused me -- horror of horrors! -- of having the temerity to change my own Wikipedia entry. Ultimately Lambert won out simply because, as I said, he has more time. That doesn't seem quite fair; but that's the way the Wiki works.

    So there's a lesson in here. Actually, two. First, don't trust my Wiki entry. Go to my bio. But the bigger lesson is that any time any Wiki entry involves either a controversial person or a controversial subject, take it with a grain of salt. Ken Lay can't tell you that, but I can.

    July 9, 2006 08:45 PM  ·  Permalink

    Debated on the Al Franken Show today and . . .

    By Michael Fumento

    . . . it was a bit like going to Ramadi. You had to be there to believe it. I liked the odds, three of them against me. Along with Franken, there was Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director and founder of the leftie Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Jane Arraf, a press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN. Asked if I thought Americans were getting the real story from Iraq, I said no and much of the blame lay with reporters who refuse to leave their Baghdad hotels. Instead they rely on wholly unreliable stringers. I said if they didn't have the guts to go out to get the stories, they had no place taking the slot of somebody else who might. Naturally Arraf leapt to the media's defense, talking about the dangers of being shot down by a missile while landing in Baghdad, the dangers of the airport road to the Green Zone . . . I cut her off. Nobody has ever been shot down landing at that airport and virtually nobody has been killed on that road this year. Reporters come in by armored bus or helicopter. She was spewing reporter bravado, I said, and I didn't want to hear it because there are brave reporters who truly do risk their lives. Here's where it gets unbelievable. She told me I had no idea how bad a Baghdad hotel could be! Holy cow! I just came back from being machine-gunned, mortared, and sniped and she's complaining that the linen is sometimes dirty at the Al Rashid?

    Turns out I just couldn't win. Later Rieckhoff commented on my having left the womb of hotel land by saying there are civilians who just love seeing combat, giving it some derogatory name that I don't recall but basically equates with "adrenaline junkie." So get this. If you don't report from where the action is, you're a chickenhawk or chairborne ranger. If you DO, you're pathological. Thank you very much for that analysis, Paul! I hope the book you're hawking sells one copy and that when your mom is through with it she takes it back to the store for a refund.

    June 23, 2006 06:29 PM  ·  Permalink

    Unintelligent Author

    By Michael Fumento

    Jonathan Yardley, in his Washington Post review of Steven Poole's book "Unspeak," ("Fighting Words," May 24) gives examples of terms that try "to sell you something." One example: "'Intelligent Design' suggests that those who are faithful to the Darwinian theory of evolution are something other than 'intelligent.'" Yardley and Poole are both wrong: "Intelligent design" refers not to the holder of any belief. Rather, quoting from Wikipedia, "Intelligent Design is the concept that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."

    Yardly also says "pro-life" is "certainly one of the most misleading and insidious examples of the genre" indicating "those on the other side are 'pro-death.'" Funny, no mention of "pro-choice," as if the fetus has a say in the matter of whether it is to be aborted or not.

    May 24, 2006 11:38 PM  ·  Permalink

    It's more or less official: The mainstream media have sided with the enemy

    By Michael Fumento

    Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz asks in a piece today: "Have the media declared war on the war?" The answer is yes. Just as they converted the worst communist defeat of Vietnam, the Tet Offensive, into a stunning victory, they are now bound and determined to see the terrorists rule Iraq. "What is undeniable is that the tone of much of the coverage matches the public-opinion polls showing that a majority of the country has turned against the conflict," Kurtz writes, leaving out an alternative. Namely, with U.S. losses running at half the rate of last year and more and more of the country being turned over to the Iraqi Security Forces, maybe the public-opinion polls are matching the coverage.

    Nevertheless, Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter told Kurtz it's unfair to say journalists have turned against the war. "You can find tough-minded stories in a lot of newspapers and magazines going back three years," he says. "It does a disservice to hardworking reporters, in some cases risking their lives, to make it seem like in one week they go from pro-war to antiwar." In other words, reporters are off the hook if they were against the war all along! Thanks for that nasty look inside the mind of a terrorist-supporter, Jonathan. Maybe you also get your rocks off by watching Al Queda in Iraq behead it's kidnap victims, but personally I don't want to hear about it.

    March 27, 2006 07:43 PM  ·  Permalink

    You're never too small (or too late) to smear

    By Michael Fumento

    It waited two months, but my hometown newspaper, the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, has finally gotten around to lying to its readers over why I no longer have a column with Scripps Howard. Or maybe it wasn't a lie. Judging by the accompanying photo of the writer, an alternative hypothesis is that his fingers are too pudgy to allow him to hit individual keys on his keyboard and thus look up anything on the Internet. In the event, here's my response:

    Publisher John Foreman, in his March 12 column, "Political interference knocks informative column out of paper," begins by writing that I (and another columnist) "have been in the news themselves a bit of late, and readers deserve some information and explanation." Stunningly, in my case, he provides only misinformation.

    Foreman writes that the Scripps Howard News Service "has severed its ties to Michael Fumento [because I] apparently wrote a number of pieces flattering to the giant Monsanto Corporation without disclosing a flagrant conflict of interest. As it turns out, Fumento had solicited a $60,000 Hudson [my employer, Hudson Institute] grant from the company."

    "Apparently?" Foreman couldn't check the Internet to find out what really happened, rather than smear a hometown columnist whom he himself praised as "an excellent analyst on the issues."

    In fact, the grant was solicited for and received in 1999 as support for my book BioEvolution. It was folded into my Hudson salary and exhausted that year. Five years later my Scripps column began. Of the well over 100 columns I wrote for Scripps, only three so much as mentioned Monsanto -- one in only a single sentence. The third column appeared this year.

    Insofar as agricultural biotechnology is one of my main fields of interest, that's probably sub-par. In any case the idea that a book grant received and spent in 1999 not being disclosed in a 2006 column is a "a flagrant conflict of interest" is absurd.

    What's flagrant is Scripps' cowardice in dropping my column without even consulting me when Business Week called and bluffed that they were going to do an expose. Had Scripps told Business Week to shove off, as Hudson did, there would have been nothing to expose.

    Unfortunately, the mere thought of criticism terrifies Scripps. It was also they who ordered me fired me from the Denver Rocky Mountain News in 1991, the day my controversial AIDS book appeared.

    Knowing all this, my largest Scripps newspaper, the New York Post, continues to carry my column even as I'm smeared by one of the smaller ones.

    March 16, 2006 11:21 PM  ·  Permalink

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    "'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

    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

    "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

    Why do people continue to lie about me being "a columnist for hire?"

    By Michael Fumento

    I asked one, a blogger. "Insofar as you've posted my response to Cathy Seipp's piece in NRO, you know that I received a book grant in 1999 that ran out in 2000 and my column began in 2003. Could you please explain to your readers how that makes me a "columnist for hire."

    His response: I'm "a congenital asshole," a "dipshit," and I'm "without substance or class." Hmmm... Have things changed that much since I left LA that swearing at people is now a sign of class? In any event, in a sense I did get my answer.

    January 31, 2006 11:00 PM  ·  Permalink

    Read Seipp's column -- with a careful eye

    By Michael Fumento

    Cathy Seipp has a commentary in Sunday's LA Times of which I don't entirely approve but nonetheless deserves reading, regarding our earlier back and forth in National Review Online and what brought it all about.

    What I don't care for:

    First, it's hard to tell to what extent she's kidding when she reverses my statement that the Scripps Howard syndicate that so gladly accepted over 100 columns from me for no pay dropped that column without even telling me, much less asking me for my side of the controversy. She says it makes it clear that if Scripps wasn't paying me, obviously somebody was. Well yes, my employer, Hudson Institute. Fact is, while virtually all syndicated columnists are paid something almost none can make a living at it. That should hardly bring suspicion down upon their heads.

    Second, she takes issue with my talk of a witch hunt because "there never were such things as witches." As an aside, there are and were. There are Satan worshippers, though few in number, and there are Wiccans who worship nature and call themselves witches. But mostly she misses the point that people were burned and hanged because of accusations of witchcraft. Practicing it had nothing to do with it. Likewise, there truly is a serious effort underway to impugn writers innocent of nothing more than having the "wrong" political leanings.

    Finally, regarding me, it seems a bit of a cheap shot to say I'm a "self-described extremely pro-biotech'" journalist. I've been writing pro-biotech articles since 1993. I published a 500-page book on it that was far longer before the editor took a cleaver to it, wrote chapters for two others books on it, and I've written close to 50 (!) pieces on biotech. That practically puts me in fanatic territory.

    Yet her piece is worth reading for what she says about the New York Times reporter Sharon Waxman, who has gone completely out of control in her pursuit of conservative and free market writers and PR firms. She writes of one case in which there:

    "Began a series of calls from Waxman to a self-employed PR person she suspected was the person who'd offered [Seipp money to write a piece] in which she threatened to burn him (by contacting his other clients, all small, nonpolitical businesses) if he didn't cooperate -- by telling her things she wanted to know about the big company that was the focus of her article. She also said that he'd better not tell me or anyone else about this conversation or the deal was off, and tried very hard to make him believe that I'd given up his name, which, of course, I hadn't."

    Says Seipp,

    "When journalists go from keeping secrets about sources to expecting sources to keep secrets about them, something in the media has begun to stink with self-importance."

    I found her source and confirmed what Seipp wrote. Waxman engaged in blackmail pure and simple and should be fired immediately by the New York Times. Waxman, Ms. Seipp, is witch hunting.

    But of course, as we learned from the Jayson Blair incident (which was really a very long series of incidents) the Times doesn't work that way. Its stock is collapsing like a house of cards under the weight of a bull elephant and it wants a hot story. Ideologically, it wants to emasculate the right. And as always, from the days of Stalin apologist Walter Duranty, the Times has felt itself above reproach. Merely having Waxman on the payroll is a breach of journalistic ethics. For all of our disagreements, I'd hope Miss Seipp and I agree on that.

    January 29, 2006 08:18 PM  ·  Permalink

    And the hits just keep on coming! This from TNR Online.

    By Michael Fumento

    Paul Thacker writes in his Jan. 26 article centering on Fox columnist Steve Milloy:

    "Earlier this month, BusinessWeek Online reported that, in 1999, Scripps Howard columnist Michael Fumento received $60,000 from Monsanto, one of the biotech companies he later covered in his columns, to help pay his salary at the Hudson Institute and to cover some of the overhead of his book BioEvolution. Fumento had not disclosed the Monsanto money to Scripps Howard." But the book grant was made in 1999 and covered me for a year, while I began my Scripps column in 2003. So the statement as presented is false and misleading. Until BusinessWeek Online invented the rule and applied it retroactively, it would never have occurred to anyone including Thacker that it would be a violation of journalistic ethics to not disclose a book grant in columns that appeared four, five, and six years later. If so, I'd like Thacker to announce exactly what the cut-off point is and who declared it as such. I care neither for ad hoc nor retroactive rules.

    Regarding my being on the advisory board of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, I had already written books or op-eds favoring every position the Coalition took so it was natural they should invite me and I should accept. But I was just a name on a list, providing no advice and receiving no compensation. The day Mr. Milloy told me it received tobacco money and asked if I wanted to resign I said yes. I have never received tobacco money or support of any kind either directly or funneled through any organ.

    January 26, 2006 04:54 PM  ·  Permalink

    "Journalist ethics" an oxymoron at the LA Times

    By Michael Fumento

    In his Jan. 21 column, "Writers' Opinions for Hire," LA Times media critic Tim Rutten makes a claim against me regarding my dismissal from the Scripps Howard News Service that's both libelous and false.

    The news of my dismissal from Scripps broke in the January 13 Business Week, available online, full-text, and free. Nobody has added additional material to the story except me, in my Townhall column explaining what really happened. While the Business Week "news analysis" has severe factual problems of its own, nowhere does it state any words to the effect, as does Rutten, that I "had accepted payments from Monsanto for writing opinion pieces favorable to its bio-tech business."

    It says I solicited a single book grant from Monsanto in 1999 that went to my think tank employer which then paid me salary. Writer Eamon Javers did make the bizarre insinuation that a book grant from 1999 should be disclosed in columns written in 2006 -- and presumably forever. But his entire focus was on disclosure, not on paid-for-columns.

    If people think they can make a damning case against me on those grounds, let 'em try. But last I checked you're not allowed to simply add false information, no matter how convenient it may be. Unless, I guess, you work at the Los Angeles Times.

    January 25, 2006 10:37 PM  ·  Permalink

    Now BW's Eamon Javers Can Read Minds

    By Michael Fumento

    In his latest "news analysis," Business Week's Eamon Javers concludes, "The money didn't influence his [my] writing, he adds. His syndicate, Scripps Howard, felt differently. On Jan. 13 it canceled Fumento's weekly column."

    So now Javers is telling us what went inside the minds of the people at Scripps Howard. Perhaps he's mastered the Vulcan mind meld. Scripps Howard canceled my column without even consulting me. They did so because they didn't want to risk bad publicity -- a rather straightforward explanation -- NOT because they felt that a book grant to my my think tank from 1999 influenced a column I began writing for Scripps in 2003, or specifically one that appeared in 2006. But as I wrote earlier, Javers just makes it up as he goes along.

    January 21, 2006 10:20 AM  ·  Permalink

    Another target of Tim Lambert's Vendetta.com

    By Michael Fumento

    I never thought that Tim Lambert was a mild-mannered respectable blogger until something about Mike Fumento made his brain snap and left him a dysfunctional obessive-compulsive. Sure enough, it turns out he was playing his rude tricks months earlier with Tim Blair, a fellow Aussie with a terrific blog. Blair made this posting on March 15 of this year:

    Lefty Tim Lambert has set up a mirror of this site, apparently hosted on the University of New South Wales server. I've sent him a note.


    UPDATE. Lambert, who hasn't answered my email or phone calls, has given the mirrored site a clever new name: "This is Not Tim Blair's blog". Yet everything I post immediately appears there. It's the work of a super genius!

    I'm not really interested -- yet -- in what legal or copyright issues may be involved. I'd just prefer that Lambert close the thing and stop being so weird and obsessive.

    UPDATE II. Just spoke to Lambert's supervisor, Paul Compton, at the UNSW. He told me Lambert had agreed to take his site down lest the UNSW's role in this debacle be "misunderstood". I'd spoken to Lambert a few minutes earlier; he hadn't mentioned this. We'll wait and see.

    UPDATE III. The Lambert matter is concluded. Much thanks to everybody (including Ken Parish) for legal advice and offers of assistance; it's alarming to me that things had to reach to that point before the duplicate site was taken down. If ever a right-winger tries to pull the same dumb stunt on a lefty, well, let me condemn you in advance.

    A final point: after complaining about how unfair it was that they couldn't comment here, members of the banned had an entire day to make their incisive points about any post ... and they didn't say a thing outside of the lead item. Kinda proves something, doesn't it?

    The last paragraph contains Lambert's explanation for his misdeed. Blair, like millions of other bloggers, doesn't allow comments on his site. But Lambert thinks that's unfair because it doesn't let people say nasty things about Blair right on Blair's site. That they can say them anywhere else in the universe is irrelevant. So Lambert set up a mirror site of Blair's that allowed for nasty comments. Alas for Lambert, as Blair observes, people barely took advantage of the opportunity anyway.

    A final note. When Lambert took down his mirror site, this is what he replaced it with. Start taking that Clomipramine Lambert -- one bottle per day.

    December 6, 2005 05:47 PM  ·  Permalink

    What goes around comes around

    By Michael Fumento

    John Seigenthaler, once administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy, complained in an op-ed published in USA Today that Wikipedia's biography of him said he had been suspected in the assassinations of both RFK and his brother, President John F. Kennedy. In other words, the real assassination was of the character of Seigenthaler. Clearly the rules on Wikipedia need tightening and I'd love to be more sympathetic to Mr. Seigenthaler but he's done his share of character assassination as well.

    Back in 2000, the Nashville Tennessean, for which Seigenthaler had been editor, publisher, and chairman before retiring as "Chairman Emeritus" in 1991 (he was also founding editorial page editor for USA Today in its far-left days), ran a series of articles it just knew would garner it a Pulitzer. It accused the Department of Energy of recklessly endangering millions of lives by causing all sorts of mystery illnesses. I wrote a response in the Wall Street Journal that shredded the Tennessean's work into confetti. The newspaper didn't even bother to enter it into the Pulitzer contest. Seigenthaler was livid! He wrote a lengthy, rambling piece for the Tennessean that was wall-to-wall ad hominem.

    He attacked me using partial quotes on my AIDS book, when the other parts of the quotes were so complimentary they actually appeared in the paperback edition. Anyway this was a full five years after the epidemic had peaked just as I had predicted. He attacked my criticism of a Nashville author who produced a massive bestseller saying you could literally eat limitless calories so long as you held your fat intake extremely low. (Obviously this was before the Atkins craze.) He attacked me for writing that there was no epidemic of black southern church burnings. Actually that piece single-handedly ended the myth; somebody forgot to tell Seigenthaler.

    He even accused me of having too many titles. "At diverse times," he wrote, "in addition to his identification as a 'science journalist,'' he has also been called (or called himself) a 'self syndicated columnist,' a 'former Reagan administration lawyer,' a 'medical writer,' a 'science journalist,' [sic] an 'environmental correspondent . . .' You get the picture; this is a any-port-in-a-storm guy, the kind bloggers would have been eaten for breakfast had there been bloggers in his day.

    As far as I'm concerned, poor Mr. Seigenthaler, whoever posted those false entries on you on Wikipedia was exercising the same "First Amendment" rights on you that you exercised on me. Don't get your crocodile tears all over my science journalist clothes.

    December 5, 2005 07:00 PM  ·  Permalink

    Update on IPs and "sock puppets"

    By Michael Fumento

    In my last blog, I noted how Tim Lambert seems to make his living claiming other people are using "sock puppets" (false names) on blogs, even though he does so on his own blog. But Lambert says he has proof. He says he finds that allegedly different entities are using a single internet provider address. I already noted one major weakness in this: That we must take Lambert's word for it that the same IP address was used and Lambert, to put it as delicately as possible, is a chronic liar.

    But a reader also wrote to me to note that, "An IP address isn't proof of an individual's accessing a web page. Depending on your ISP's network configuration, the IP address a web server sees when you visit it might be shared with many other users who use the same ISP. About all a webmaster can do with an IP address is narrow down the ISP or organization from which the requests originated."

    Therefore assuming Lambert got two identical IPs from my name and that of another person, he must take into account the possibility the someone else who shares my address and knows me wants to post in support of me anonymously. That hardly makes me a damned dirty dog, does it? Why doesn't Lambert think of such things? Is it because he doesn't like to mess with details that might not support his Vendetta.com blog?


    December 5, 2005 06:28 PM  ·  Permalink

    Tim Lambert's Vendetta.com blogsite

    By Michael Fumento

    There are lots of reasons people blog. One may be that nobody else would ever publish their material. Some of these people nevertheless fill a valuable niche that just doesn't appeal to outside publications; others are simply inept. The latter describes Tim Lambert and his Deltoid blogsite. An anti-American Aussie, he regularly displays his ignorance on a wide variety of issues, perhaps in the belief that quantity makes up for quality.

    To the extent Lambert is recognized for anything, it's probably for his embarrassing defense of the pre-election surprise paper in The Lancet that desperately tried to show that Americans had killed 100,000 civilians in Iraq. (At the time Human Rights Watch was using a figure of about 15,000 as was bin Laden himself!) Ever since I first chided him for thinking his blog had the least ability to support his Jihadist friends, he's made it one of his missions in life to try to hurt me personally. He has a separate motive in that when I've posted responses on his website his traffic shoots up. Once I recognized that I bit my tongue and posted no more responses, though he has taunted me frequently in a vain effort to get me to do so.

    So instead he merely claims I have posted on his website, using a false name. In blogging terminology, that's using a "sockpuppet." He claims he's compared my IP address to that of the alleged sockpuppet's and they're the same. Problem is, the only proof is is his word and this is the word of not just anybody but of Tim Lambert. Conversely, when John Lott used his "Mary Rosh" sockpuppet, numerous people were able to confirm that Roush's and Lott's IP address were the same. [I wrote this in error: Turns out when Lott's IP address was correlated with Roush's, he immediately admitted he and Roush were the same. This puts him far above Lambert, who when caught red-handed admitted to nothing.]

    At the same time, Lambert has accused me of rewriting my own Wikipedia entry. Actually he rewrote it; I attempted to strike it. (I couldn't, for the wonderful reason that Lambert was there first.) Why did I try to strike it? I don't feel encyclopedia entries are the places for vendettas. It's not appropriate in the Encyclopedia Britannica nor is it in Wikipedia.

    Ah, but the plot thickens. Among Lambert's few friends is John Fleck, whose blog is inkstain. (Another type of stain comes to mind, but whatever.) Fleck wrote of my "latest blubbering discussion with Tim Lambert." But as I've said, Lambert's pathetic efforts to lure me into "discussion" have failed. No discussion; ergo no "blubbering" discussion. But if Lambert had said that on his site it would have left his few readers scratching their heads, so Fleck posted it instead. Fleck, therefore, is a human sockpuppet. Not the sort of career to which most of us would aspire. In his Dec. 5 posting, Fleck also admitted that which Lambert would not: "There's this strange sort of schoolyard bully pleasure in taunting Michael Fumento." That Fleck says this with blood cascading from his broken nostrils is besides the point.

    But it gets better yet. In a discussion group of self-described Aussie lefties to which Lambert belongs, our hero is charged with using at least two different false names to post comments on his own Deltoid website, "Kevin Donahue" and "Robert Johnson." Directly and repeatedly confronted with this Lambert repeatedly refused to respond, though he did respond to other aspects of the discussion. After Lambert ignored the accuser one time too many the other writer blasted him. "Sure, you are allowed to post anything you like on your site," he said. "But please spare us the pious talk that you support the truth. When you go around hitting others across the head for using aliases and then get found out doing that yourself--you come out looking like a cheap creep."

    Right. Tim Lambert, thy name is Mary Roush.

    Lambert is a pathetic individual whose actions do not represent what the blogosphere is supposed to be about. And while yes, in a real sense writing in general and blogging specifically can be considered "therapeutic," a keyboard is no substitute for professional therapy and psychotropic medicine.

    December 4, 2005 11:26 PM  ·  Permalink

    You can't be taken seriously if you don't toe the MSM line

    By Michael Fumento

    After the Volokh Conspiracy posted my Weekly Standard avian flu piece, one commentor remarked: "Fumento is smart, but he's a contrarian by profession and I think that might affect his objectivity." Yes, I was indeed contrarian when we were told "Now No One Is Safe from AIDS," that Ebola posed a pandemic threat, that SARS could overrun the U.S. hospital system (it killed no Americans), that the avian flu hysteria of 1997-98 was just that, and on countless other issues as recent as Herceptin being portrayed as a "cure" for breast cancer when the very studies cited showed women dying while on the drug. If that doesn't detract from a person's credibility, what should?

    What a strange world we live in.

    November 27, 2005 05:31 PM  ·  Permalink

    Michelle Malkin's Dark Secret Revealed!

    By Michael Fumento

    In what appears to be a desperate effort to provide material for a second Michelle Malkin book on the Unhinged left just weeks after the first was published, the moonbats are coming out of the woodwork to attack her on absolutely any grounds other than the accuracy and relevance of her work. The main thrust, bizarrely enough, is that Michelle Malkin, well, isn't. You see, it's really her brilliant Rhodes Scholar husband who's doing the work while Michelle kicks back and eats juju fruits all day. Or at the very least, it's a combined effort. The evidence? Golly, she's just too darned prolific.

    Never mind that anybody familiar with Jesse Malkin knows that his main interests are health issues and economics, which are just about the only two issues Michelle doesn't write about. Why accept an obvious explanation such as that Michelle has a genius IQ and works like a dog when conspiracies are so much more fun? Well, I say Michelle should just do the right thing and fess up. Yup, admit that Jesse writes all the columns and all the blogs.

    That might leave you a bit confused if you've ever seen Michelle defending her, uh, Jesse's positions on TV with such expertise but there's an explanation for that, too. Does Jesse look good in a long black wig or what? In fact, this conspiracy keeps getting deeper. The couple's two children? Through the bizarre tinkerings of biotechnology, it was Jesse who carried them both to term in his abdominal cavity. Heck, Michelle couldn't even be bothered to donate the ova -- she was on Swiss skiing trips both times. (Didn't know that Filipinas skiied, did you?)

    And there you have it. Michelle Malkin is a complete and utter fraud. So all you moonbats who have been taking nasty potshots at Mrs. Malkin need to turn those guns around and fire for effect on Mr. Malkin. Until, of course, it's revealed that all of his alleged work is done by a consortium of aliens from the planet Niklam. But that, my children, is another tale.

    November 21, 2005 06:39 PM  ·  Permalink

    Michelle Malkin's new book is a kick in the a--, er donkey!

    By Michael Fumento

    Michelle Malkin, a.k.a., "a know-nothing, empty-headed pseudo-intellectual who gets aroused by the smell of totalitarianism," according to one of her politer critics, has just produced one funny yet poignant book: Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.

    She did make at least one serious error, namely not dedicating the book to me. Actually she made another, not stringing up by the heels Molly Ivins. Ivins is the "index case" of the anti-Bush pathology, a virus that eats away at the victim's brain until he finds he wants his country to lose in Iraq and turn the country over to al Queda just to make George W. look bad. But perhaps Malkin is setting us up for a sequel. (Dedicated to me.)

    The best part about Unhinged is that aside from some snort-inducing quips (Don't read this while drinking carbonated beverages) she lets her victims tie their own nooses and kick over their own chairs. It is often unbelievable what these people say in public (Michelle doesn't often resort to wire taps), some of whom are widely accepted as being a tad bit saner than the usual suspects like Howard ("YEARGGHHHH!") Dean or Prof. Ward Churchill. Thus she quotes Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in America," on CNN's Larry King that the surprise bin Laden tape that surfaced just before the presidential election: "I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove . . . who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing."

    YEARGGHHHH!

    No wonder "Cronkite" is German ("Krankheit") for disease. But there are countless other unhinged and disease individuals stripped and mocked in this book. Get a copy now or Osama (via my buddy Karl) will declare jihad on your Thanksgiving turkey.

    November 8, 2005 07:37 PM  ·  Permalink

    Bochco Bites Back (with Gums)

    By Michael Fumento

    The following pathetic responses (with my replies) are from the PR stooge for Steven Bochco's anti-war, anti-reality FX series Over There concerning my critique.

    Dear Mr. Fumento,

    I'm writing in response to your column in the New York Post this morning.

    In the future, feel free to call me if you have any questions about any programs on FX or need production notes on any of our programs. I would be happy to provide you with materials you need to write a more informed column.

    It's obvious to me that you have no knowledge about the background of the military technical advisor for Over There. I think if you would have asked, you would know that he is, to use your word, a "true" military technical advisor. He is a former U.S.M.C. Staff Sergeant and his ten years of service included an 11-month tour in Iraq where he was a Fire Power Control Team leader with an ANGLICO unit.

    While there have been some complaints with regard to the authenticity of the pilot (first) episode, the majority response from soldiers and military personnel was much more positive/favorable with regard to episodes two and three. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of reviews written about Over There were good to outstanding. The only negative reviews the show received were written by critics who believed that the series should have taken a political position but did not.

    To buttress your opinion of Over There based on one posting from an antiwar blog is pretty weak. Yes, I know, you could have found plenty more postings to support that antiwar premise. That said, I assure you that I can provide you with as many, if not more, emails/blog postings/letters/etc. from soldiers/veterans of OIF that have a favorable opinion of Over There.

    I respect the fact that you were an embed and have personal knowledge of what it is like in Iraq. I know other journalists who were embedded in Iraq who have seen the show and happen to believe it is an accurate depiction of what soldiers face in Iraq. They recognize that the series takes dramatic license at times but they clearly understand it is not a documentary. I screened the first three episodes individually for several soldiers who had served in Iraq and they had a few criticisms, but overall they believed the show got it right. Tony Perry, the military staff writer for the Los Angeles Times who was also embedded in Iraq, screened it for a dozen Marines who had served at least one tour in Iraq, most of them had served two tours. You should read his article published in the Los Angeles Times (July 27) to see those soldiers' comments.

    Finally, I respect the fact that you're entitled to your opinion and it's fine if you don't like the show. However, for you to write that the military technical advisor on Over There deserves the firing squad is reprehensible. He has served our country honorably, fought to protect our freedom and has first-hand experience of service in Iraq. If you had bothered to pick up the phone and ask a question, I can only assume that you probably would not have written such an insulting and irresponsible comment.

    Please feel free to call because I really would like to discuss this with you.

    Sincerely,
    John Solberg
    Senior Vice President, Public Relations
    FX Networks
    [phone number omitted]

    Dear Mr. Solberg:

    Right. That's why a unit couldn't get air support for 36 hours, instead of the usual less-than-30 minutes. That's why the squad had no reinforcements, no artillery, no armor, and even the heavy machine guns on the two Humvees present weren't used. That's why the enemy marks its IEDs with white flags, to make sure to warn off Americans. That's why the Humvee gunners (yes including episodes two and three, the "more accurate" ones) have no shielding? It's why a missile or bomb would be used to take out 20 Stingers in episode three, making it virtually impossible for forensics to determine all could be accounted for. (Yes, I know that was necessary to the plotline to make the intelligence officer a liar and make the Americans ruthless killers of civilians.) It's why even though some members of the squad carry grenade launchers only one grenade was fired during episode one with none during those oh-so-accurate episodes two and three.

    In episode three, the GIs question why an airstrike would be used against two terrorists, without wondering why they won't fire grenades or a mortar and wipe them out within minutes. Oh, but wait, even though they're an infantry unit they have no mortar! It's why EOD simply fails to show up to disarm or detonate a car bomb in episode two, even though the incredibly-professional EOD makes it a point to be on-scene in 30 minutes if possible. And sure, legs can keep moving forward even everything above the waist has been blown clean off with that one fired grenade. After all, Washington Irving's horseman rode without a head! Does a former Marine who served in Iraq really not know all this? Even the water bottles are wrong! Evian in Iraq? No, Mr. Solberg; Iraq is not LA. Americans in Iraq get their water from a Kuwaiti company, not the French. I could go on and on, but to what avail. You either haven't got a clue or you do have a clue and don't care. All you care about is making money and slamming the military and the war effort generally.

    Nor do I care about the favorable reviews you've gotten; that's just the blind and biased following the Bochco. I would recommend to you the Seattle Post-Intelligencer article of July 26, 2005. I believe the title speaks for itself: "These soldiers say 'Over There' is 'bogus.'"

    If your military advisor does give accurate advice, then you're overriding him at every turn and he should have resigned in disgust. Since apparently he hasn't, he sold out the uniform I and so many others have proudly worn. But maybe a firing squad would be too harsh; he should just suit up and have a real soldier rip every patch off his uniform.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Fumento

    Dear Mr. Fumento,

    I did read the Seattle P-I story but evidently you didn't read the LA Times story or have no desire to read anything from anyone who said positive things about the show because it doesn't fall in line with your opinion.

    I will stand by what I said about our technical advisor. For you to claim that he isn't a "real" soldier is offensive. You know nothing about him because you don't care to know anything about him.

    Also, you shouldn't make any assumptions about my political position just because I live in LA. My father spent 26 years in the Air Force and I have always supported our military and will continue to do so.

    Sincerely,
    John Solberg

    Dear Mr. Solberg:

    I briefly listed 14 errors in the first three episodes, some small and some stunningly huge. Your response is that of the consummate politician: "I will stand by what I said." You didn't respond because you COULDN'T respond. You've got a rotten little show and you know it.

    To repeat: We have three alternatives concerning your carefully-selected "military advisor." He's totally incompetent, he's a liar, or he's willing to see his advice constantly ignored for the 200 pieces of silver you tossed him. I suggest putting him in a locked room with a real Marine for 15 minutes and let's see what "conversation" ensues.

    Finally, if you call portraying our troops fighting each other with knives, beating and torturing prisoners, not being able to show up to disarm a bomb or even fire a grenade, and bombing civilians for the sake of it when even for military reasons it would have been much smarter to launch a raid as supporting the military then I guess we should say the same of Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War. When will we be treated to footage of you or Mr. Bochco getting behind an anti-aircraft gun and pretending to shoot down American planes?

    Sincerely,
    Michael Fumento

    August 21, 2005 07:20 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

    Sorry Vanity Fair, Gulf vets aren't keeling over like tenpins.

    By Michael Fumento

    Sir:

    I'm an army officer currently serving in Iraq. I also have a blog where I spend most of my time countering false or misleading information regarding our actions and mission in Iraq. I've started getting spammed by a leftist who is quoting a Vanity Fair article on depleted uranium and Gulf War Syndrome, which claims that more than half of Gulf War vets are on disability. This sounds like an absurd number and I know from my own experience that the vast majority of disabilities are for things like back and knee problems that come with an older force, but I don't have the stats to prove it.

    Any research that you could point me to would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
    [omitted]

    That number is being thrown around by nutcases like Joyce Riley and Vanity Fair just reprints them. VA used to have a webpage with these data which was very handy but they took it for some reasons. On the other hand, check out this medical journal article from June:

    It concludes, "Ten years after the Gulf War, the physical health of deployed and nondeployed veterans is similar."

    And you'll find Gulf vets are no sicker than non-deployed controls. In the few areas that it seems like they might me, note that fibromyalgia is a quasi-real disease (it basically means self-reported but non-palpable muscle aches), chronic fatigue syndrome is generally a scam, and dyspepsia means self-reported but non-palpable stomach problems.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Fumento

    August 21, 2005 06:56 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

    Cindy Sheehan Watch II

    By Michael Fumento

    Saint Cindy Sheehan, martyr by proxy, is still trying to stretch her 15 minutes of fame and she is up to 4,200 hits on Google News. Problem is, as sympathetic as the MSM is to her cause they're just plumb running out of new things to say about her. Maybe they're also getting the idea that readers are getting tired of the nonsense. In any event, the more we hear the less sympathetic she becomes.

    Here are some excerpts of a speech she gave to Veterans for Peace at Any Price just before setting off for those 15 minutes:

    • Then we have this lying bastard, George Bush, taking a 5-week vacation in a time of war.
    • So anyway that filth-spewer and warmonger, George Bush . . .
    • You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East.
    • The Iraqi people aren't freer, they're much worse off than before you meddled in their country.
    • You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine
    • And if you think I won't say bullshit to the President, I say move on, cuz I'll say what's on my mind.
    • Another thing that I'm doing is -- my son was killed in 2004, so I'm not paying my taxes for 2004. (Um, I wouldn't try that Cindy.)
    • When I was growing up, it was Communists. Now it's terrorists. So you always have to have somebody to fight and be afraid of, so the war machine can build more bombs, guns, and bullets and everything.
    • I got an e-mail the other day and it said, "Cindy, if you didn't use so much profanity there's people on the fence' that get offended" And you know what I said? "You know what? You know what, god-damn-it? How, in the world is anybody still sitting on that fence'?"

    And then there was this:

    • I don't want him to exploit the honor of my son . . .

    No, that's your job; right Cindy?

    August 15, 2005 10:01 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (2)

    Cindy Sheehan Watch

    By Michael Fumento

    Cindy Sheehan, riding to fame over her patriotic son's body but claiming she's being ignored by the MSM is now cited in over 3,000 mentions recorded by Google News. That includes an above-the-fold story in Saturday's Washington Post. Maybe she has a target, like 10,000 media pickups, and then she'll stop lying about how Bush treated her and go home. Speaking of which, my friend Michelle Malkin nicely documents the "Will the real Cindy Sheehan please stand up" phenomenom.

    August 13, 2005 05:43 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

    Hollywood's Hatchet Job

    By Michael Fumento

    Mike:

    Are you surprised [regarding the TV show "Over There"] that Hollywood would do a hatchet job on the Iraq war? I was in Vietnam and the hatchet job done on it and us should have been a indication of things to come. Perhaps during a lull in the War On Terror, we can have a war on stupid and declare war on Hollywood.

    Richard Jansen

    Dear Richard:

    1. No.
    2. Nice idea! I'd like Steven Bochco to put a bomb in his Rolls Royce and drive it into Alec Baldwin's house.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Fumento

    August 12, 2005 12:04 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

    Poor Cindy Sheehan!

    By Michael Fumento

    Poor Cindy Sheehan, the mother seeking to embarrass the president and gain fame over the body of her son killed in Iraq. Shortly after her son died, she got her wish to meet with Bush and said he was very sympathetic. Now the story has changed slightly, as she claims he seemed almost gleeful at the time. Really? Her latest complaint, as reported in the Washington Post, is that "the mainstream media have not paid enough attention to her cause." Hmm... I just checked "Google News" and found almost 1,800 items referring to her. That same mainstream media normally greets the completion of a major construction project in Iraq with zero items. Sheehan may be vicious or highly disturbed, but she knows how to play the mainstream media like a fine musical instrument -- not that the MSM don't want to be played.

    August 11, 2005 09:32 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (3)

    My Iraq Photos Now Posted

    By Michael Fumento

    It took a few months for my gear to follow me back from Iraq, but it and my camera are now here. I've posted my photos here. Some interesting stuff in there, if I may say so myself.

    August 11, 2005 03:21 PM  ·  Permalink

    Peaceniks go nuts over the anti-war fakery of "Over There"

    By Michael Fumento

    Peaceniks are going gaga over the new FX series on the Iraq war "Over There." "Wow! Anybody else watch "Over There" last night?" asked a writer for the most-viewed liberal blogsite and most-viewed blogsite period, Daily Kos. " Within a few minutes, the Sarge calls their position in Iraq a 'shithole' and it was obvious that Iraq was Vietnam all over again. A war troops are not allowed to really fight, and so a war we can never win." Naturally, the shows also touts its realism with a TV Guide blurb to "prove it." Unfortunately, it's about as realistic as the Lord of the Rings.

    In the episode an infantry unit is pinned down while trying to seize a mosque from the bad guys. Two women from a transportation unit are also there, a bow to the God of Diversity. Next the unit remains there for days with absolutely no air support. We're told it's being used elsewhere. Gimme a break! Air support is virtually always available anywhere in Iraq within 15 to 30 minutes. Indirect fire support (howitzers and mortars) can come thumping in within two minutes of the beginning of a fire support. But these poor saps also get no direct fire support until the end of the battle. The only mortar is with the bad guys. Meanwhile, there's the cliche medal-hungry off-scene commander ordering the troops to move forward from a relatively safe ridgeline to a completely open area.

    Towards the end of the show we're treated to a horrific scene that begins when a troop-transport rolls over an IED marked with little white flags. Sorry, but the bad guys don't mark their mines. As for us, we generally station troops by them until they can be disarmed or if that's not possible put up warning signs that three blind mice couldn't miss. Nobody uses cute little white flags.

    There have got to be a thousand true inspiring stories of courage and kindness by coalition troops during the war, but don't expect to see them on "Over There."

    August 4, 2005 08:44 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

    The MSM Roast of Mark Yost

    By Michael Fumento

    St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial page associate editor Mark Yost penned a provocative column on media coverage of the Iraq war, noting his contacts there told him, with apologies to Johnny Mercer, the MSM are accentuating the negative and ignoring the positive. He couldn't have imagined he was covering himself with blood and throwing himself into the shark pen. His media colleagues were merciless. "With your column, you have spat on the copy of the brave men and women who are doing their best in terrible conditions," a reporter at the same Knight-Ridder newspaper charged in an open letter. "You have insulted them and demeaned them," he wrote. "I am embarrassed to call you my colleague."

    The D.C. Bureau chief for Knight-Ridder, Clark Hoyt, spent a column ripping off a chunk of Yost and chewing it. Hoyt said Yost "asks why you don't read about progress being made in the power grid [but] maybe it's because there is no progress." At the Romenesko open blog for journalists, this charge from Hoyt was repeated time and again: "It's astonishing that Mark Yost, from the distance and safety of St. Paul, Minnesota, presumes to know what's going on in Iraq." It's an interesting double standard for columnists that you can rip U.S. war efforts all you want from the comfort of a U.S. office (since Hoyt didn't mention going, we know he didn't), but if you're going to write something positive you had better have spent time in Iraq, notwithstanding that so often for reporters "time in Iraq" means a hotel behind layers of concrete barriers and concertina wire.

    OF COURSE the war coverage is slanted: Why should the adage "If it bleeds it leads" stop at the Iraqi border? But as it happens, I did go to Iraq and somehow didn't feel the wetness of Yost's spit. I stayed in no hotels, got out of the safety of the Green Zone as soon as I had my press credentials, and went to the hostile Anbar province. I walked the streets, rode in the Humvees, and had my trip cut short by a colostomy that saved my life. But I was there long enough to see and report that Yost was right. If Hoyt thinks no progress is being made, he's either flat-out lying or wearing those blinders the MSM are so famous for. In any case, it's astonishing that Clark Hoyt, from the distance and safety of Washington, D.C., presumes to know what's going on in Iraq.

    July 17, 2005 08:34 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

    Vaccine fearmongering and "intellectual prostitution"

    By Michael Fumento

    Mark Sircus, head of something called the International Medical Veritas Association, needs to learn a bit about the meaning of "Veritas." In a commentary titled "Intellectual Prostitution," he calls a whore anybody who disagrees with the proposition that childhood vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal (half of which is ethyl mercury) cause autism. They're all on the take; that's the only possible explanation for their positions no matter how authoritative and detailed their arguments may be. I am one of the named prostitutes. Commenting on a column of mine that appeared in Townhall and another piece in the Wall Street Journal, our three-ring Sircus says, "Mr. Fumento's [sic], of the Hudson Institute, recently published essays on thimerosal, [which] like many of the others, were bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry so one should read his and many of the current articles proclaiming the safety of known poisons with salt."

    Does he have the least evidence that I was actually paid? No. It's supposed to be guilt by association, but it turns out to not even fit that.

    "When it comes to the Thimerosal [sic] debate and Fumento's opinion it is not a coincidence that the Hudson Institute [where I'm a senior fellow] is based in Indianapolis, home of Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical giant that holds the patent on Thimerosal [sic]," he writes. He also ties Dan Quayle and former OMB Director Mitch Daniels to both Lilly and Hudson.

    Aside from not being able to spell "thimerosal," Sircus seems ignorant that Lilly patented the preservative in 1930 and therefore must have its rights half a century ago. Hudson is not based in Indy, but Washington, D.C. It moved a year ago, which is to say a year before I wrote my pieces. Hudson formerly received major funding not from Lilly the pharmaceutical company but from the Lilly Endowment, which truly has a Chinese wall between it and its drug company donors. In any event, the Endowment focuses heavily on Indiana projects and stopped funding Hudson when it moved.

    But this isn't to say Sircus knows nothing about intellectual prostition. He makes his living running a clinic in Brazil that uses "chelation therapy," a fraud denounced by many medical organizations. Far from extracting "toxins" as claimed it merely extracts green material from the pockets of gullible parents of autistic children (and sufferers of countless other illnesses). It is the money trail behind the "vaccines cause autism" hysteria, the conspiracy behind the conspiracy theory if you will.

    July 10, 2005 08:17 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

    Telling it like it is from Iraq

    By Michael Fumento

    In May I returned from an embed with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Fallujah, having gone over with the idea that the MSM wasn't telling it like it is. Guess what; they weren't. I've filed a couple of pieces on it, here and here, of which versions appeared on Townhall. But I just discovered the blogsite of Michael Yon, who in his June 28 entry gave an excellent description of detonating IEDs. Since I'd had the same experience, I can tell you that on at least this one aspect he was extremely accurate in describing the professionalism of our soldiers and the major difficulty of blowing an IED which is not being killed by A) suicide bombers, B) secondary IEDs, C) snipers, and D) ambush while you're doing the job. Actually, he may have overstated the risks a bit as on-the-scene reporters are wont to do. Still, his facts are detailed and well-told. Check him out.

    June 28, 2005 08:06 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)