Matthew Sheffield

Matthew Sheffield's picture
Former NewsBusters editor

Latest from Matthew Sheffield

Over the weekend, Michael Deaver, the PR strategist and campaign manager known best for his work for Ronald Reagan passed away. John Fund has a nice tribute in today's OpinionJournal that focuses on Deaver's innovative work, beginning during the time Reagan was governor of California.

Over at the Counterterrorism Blog, Steve Emerson has a great post detailing the New York Times's latest attempt to burnish the image of the pseudo-moderate Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR):

In what has become practically a routine, whenever bad publicity for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) surfaces, in an almost Pavlovian response, the New York Times leaps to its defense.

Tonight we're celebrating the second-year anniversary of NewsBusters. If you're in the DC vicinity, stop by and hoist a few with us over at Pat Troy's in Alexandria, Virginia. It's running roughly 5 to 7pm.

Update 21:18. Party's over! It was a great time. Great enough that I think we will have to do this sort of thing more often. Which leads me to this question...

Here's something you don't see that often: The major movie studios are engaged in a bidding war over a book written by someone who served in the military and outspokenly conservative Republican.

For all we know, this could turn into the sham that was Tom Clancy's "Sum of All Fears," but still, this is a nice change from the usual Hollywood baying for gay cowboys eating pudding.

[T]here's a frenzied Hollywood bidding war going on today over the No. 1 book on The New York Times non-fiction bestseller list: Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell. Studio toppers are interrupting their vacations to try to get this book which was sold to Little Brown by superagent Ed Victor for a seven figure advance.

As much as traditional media outlets and old-fashioned political types like to rag on blogs for being inaccurate, the fact is the old media are hardly paragons of accuracy. According to a University of Oregon study (h/t Glenn Reynolds), newspapers are full of mistakes that almost never get corrected.

The average newspaper should expand by a factor of 50 the amount of space given to corrections if Scott R. Maier's research is any guide.

Maier, an associate professor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication, describes in a forthcoming research paper his findings that fewer than 2 percent of factually flawed articles are corrected at dailies.

Special NB getting hit by Drudge edition...

Also: Don't forget tomorrow's NewsBusters 2-year happy hour in DC.

Whether it’s comparisons between the United States and the Soviet Union or George Bush and Saddam Hussein, the far left has always specialized in false moral equivalence.

In the latest example of this, Daily Kos proprietor Markos Moulitsas has been trying to shift the spotlight that’s now being shined on the numerous vulgar and hateful remarks for which his site is famous over to conservative sites, implying that the right is just as full of hate as his followers.

Trouble is, that’s just not the case. As NewsBusters pointed out earlier, left-wing blogs and their commenters are much more likely to use profanity than conservative blogs.

Brushing aside those pesky facts, Moulitsas launched a false attack on Maine senator Susan Collins today implying that “Arthur Frain,” a commenter on Maine Web Report, a site run by her online communications director was speaking for Republicans when he/she wrote the following:

In my experience, Wikipedia is often a good resource, especially for pop culture and computer tech terms. But since it is a fully community-operated enterprise, there are some pratfalls about relying on it for information, especially since some organizations use it as a marketing tool for themselves, attempting to control entries they're interested in.

This type of cybersquatting is quite widespread but up until now, difficult to track. That's changed however, with the creation of Wikiscanner, a search engine that allows you to see what organizations have been editing Wikipedia. You can, for instance, look up to see what Wikipedia users from different political groups, business, churches, and any other organization have been up to on the site. Early results are showing that many employees seem to have a habit of editing the entries of their own company/organization. You can also see that at least one person at the New York Times deliberately defaced Wikipedia's entry for George W. Bush with the words "jerk" inserted into the page repeatedly.

It's not completely foolproof, however, since Wikipedia only reveals your IP address if you edit a page without signing up for an account. Still, the data is interesting. Wikiscanner is being deluged with huge amounts of traffic right now but when things calm down, it should prove to be a very interesting research tool for us here at NB and for everyone in the blogosphere.

As NewsBusters reported earlier (here and here), the New York Times is likely to soon abandon its TimesSelect pay-subscription online service. That's hardly a surprise when you look at the numbers writes Brett Arends:

The New York Times Web site is extremely popular. According to figures tracked by Nielsen/NetRatings, attracted about 12.5 million readers worldwide in June, the month with the most recent data. That's a huge global audience for news, and a large multiple of the Times' print circulation.

The number willing to pay extra for access to TimesSelect?

Just 29% -- a mere 221,000. That figure has risen a miserable 8,000 since the start of the year.

Charles Krauthammer has a great syndicated column (h/t: Protein Wisdom) out that sums up the New Republic Scott Thomas Beauchamp scandal quite well:

For a month, the veracity of The New Republic’s Scott Thomas Beauchamp, the Army private who has been sending dispatches from the front in Iraq, has been in dispute. His latest “Baghdad Diarist” (July 13) recounted three incidents of American soldiers engaged in acts of unusual callousness. The stories were meant to shock. And they did.

In one, the driver of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle amused himself by running over dogs, crippling and killing them. In another, a fellow soldier wore on his head and under his helmet a part of a child’s skull dug from a grave. The most ghastly tale, however, was about the author himself mocking a woman that he said he saw “nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq.” She was horribly disfigured, half her face melted by a roadside bomb. As she sat nearby, Beauchamp said loudly, “I love chicks that have been intimate — with IEDs. It really turns me on — melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses.”

Notoriously left-wing New York Times court reporter Linda Greenhouse, famous for her 2006 rant against Republicans, "religious fundamentalism," and illegal immigration opponents has apparently learned from her mistake.

No, she hasn't decided that someone with such fervently liberal positions needs a conservative counterpart on the beat. Instead, she decided that television cameras need to be banned from her public appearances:

For Supreme Court buffs who watch C-SPAN, yesterday morning was one of disappointment. A promising panel discussion, “Covering the Court(s): Reporters on the Supreme Court Beat,” that included a bevy of court reporting superstars -- like Charles Lane from The Washington Post and Dahlia Lithwick from Slate -- was to be televised. But, at the last minute, the plug was pulled on the C-SPAN cameras because the queen bee of Supreme Court reporters, Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times refused to join the panel if the event was going to be covered by the wonky news channel.

Two years ago today, we launched NewsBusters onto the web.

In the past year, we've added 10,000 registered users (we recently passed the 20,000 mark), switched web hosting companies, ushered several news stories into the liberal press, conducted a major software upgrade, and been featured in hundreds of media outlets large and small.

It's been a thrilling ride. Thanks for helping make it all possible through your continued readership. Special thanks go to those who have hit the little "support" link above and helped us grow and expand through a donation.

I'm also happy to say that we have a special announcement for everyone coming up in a few weeks so stay tuned.

In the mean time, I hope those of you living in the general vicinity of DC will be able to join us next Friday (Aug. 17 after 5:00pm) at Pat Troy's in Alexandria, Virginia for a special NB happy hour.

An interesting development from Google today. Starting now, the search engine is going to allow people who are mentioned in a news story to respond to it and have their responses posted within Google News (h/t Brian Clark):

Here's how the new system will work: people or organizations that are mentioned in news stories can submit comments to the Google News team, which will then display those comments—unedited—alongside the Google News links to those stories.

The new system will at first be deployed only within the U.S., but Google is open to expanding it to other regions if the trial goes well.

This raises a number of questions that the announcement does not attempt to answer, such as how Google will vet the comments to ensure they come from the claimed source (watch this space for the first "Google News punked!" stories in the following weeks).

Can't say we haven't seen this before: Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a writer for the New Republic, has recanted his tales of American military savagery according to the Weekly Standard (h/t Powerline):

The Weekly Standard has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source.

I wanted to go to the YearlyKos event but circumstances did not permit. Thankfully, at least one sane person did go. Rick Moran gives this account:

I can assure you that they are at least as similar to us as chimpanzees – except chimps are cuter and don’t constantly interrupt you when you’re speaking and trying to make a point. However, all that aside, liberals are pretty normal. They have a different sense of humor of course. And they may not laugh as much as conservatives although I wonder who will be doing the chuckling on election day 2008? [...]

One observation I would never have dared put in a piece for PJ Media or anywhere else I write is that for a movement and party that prides itself on inclusion, the gathering appeared very white. There were definitely more people of color than there would be at a conservative or Republican event. But as I scanned the faces of attendees to the Presidential Leadership Forum where almost all YKos was gathered, my rough estimate was 75% white – perhaps larger.

Will the fear and loathing among the liberal press for all things Fox never cease?

In the latest installment of the media's Fox Derangement Syndrome, the New York Times, the self-styled paper of record, has spent hundreds of hours researching and trying to dig up dirt on the friendship between Rudy Giuliani and Fox News Channel head Roger Ailes. This article was all they could come up with, a semi-conspiratorial bit that is more sizzle than steak and more hype than substance.

Yes, as reporter Russ Buettner discovered, the former New York mayor and Ailes are friends and have done a few activities together. Yes, Giuliani tried to get his city to carry FNC shortly after its launch when local cable monopoly TimeWarner, then in the process of buying CNN, refused to carry the channel (something it would do throughout the country, incidentally but never mind). That, however, is it as far as "dirt" goes.

Sure there's more stuff in the article but it's all innuendo coming from a paper with an agenda of its own. Did you know, for instance, that even though the Times does mention that during Bill Clinton's presidency, CNN was headed up by a friend of his named Rick Kaplan, that the Grey Lady never bothered to mention this fact at the time? The contrast is stark.

Arizona senator John McCain is certainly one of the best-known Republican presidential candidates but that notoriety hasn't helped him much when it comes to winning over the conservative base. He hasn't been helped by his support for the recent immigration bill debacle but I think McCain's overall problem has been that he is perceived as a sellout to the left, particularly the media left.

With his support continuing to plummet by the day, McCain doesn't have a lot of chances left to get back in the good graces of the GOP. Over at Slate (h/t Glenn Reynolds), Mickey Kaus wonders if the only chance McCain has left is to turn on his old friends in the liberal media:

Due to a bug in Internet Explorer 7, several NB readers have had trouble getting into the site. We're working on the issue. In the mean time, I recommend you download the Mozilla Firefox web browser onto your computer as it does not have the bug.

Update 19:23. The problem should be fixed now. Please post a comment on here if you continue to have troubles with IE 7.

Normally liberal media snobbery is irritating (and career-threatening if you're a young conservative journalist), but not when that snobbery is completely ineffectual to stop the thing which the whiney reporters hate. Schadenfreude is the word of the day after reading this Los Angeles Times piece about how "aghast" many reporters in the Wall Street Journal newsroom are at being employed by the son of Satan himself, Rupert Murdoch:

Reporters reacted bitterly to the prospect of Murdoch's gaining control of the Journal, which has long been regarded as a beacon of financial journalism.

They voiced concern that Murdoch would diminish the paper's quality, imbue it with some of the glitzy style of his crosstown New York Post and slant the Journal's news coverage to advance his business interests.

"People are aghast that this could have happened," said one reporter, who like others spoke on condition on anonymity. "It's a sickening realization to know that this really great iconic newspaper is [not only] no longer going to be independent, but is also going to be controlled by a man whose values are inimical to ours." [...]

Young conservatives looking to get into mainstream journalism face a very difficult path according to veteran journalist Bob Novak.

The syndicated columnist made those remarks on a conference call with bloggers about his new book "The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington."

Novak blamed liberal discrimination which he said forces young conservatives to remain "in the closet" if they hope to have a career in media.

"One of the big differences in 50 years is that the liberals have now filtered into the executive ranks of journalism. And so if you go into journalism now not in the closet but out in the open as a conservative, you're going to have a hard time getting a job, believe me."