Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Steve Rendall Continues to Flail Away .. and I Pummel Him Again

This time, Rendall wrote his responses within my email. I've bolded them and my response follows the initial email. Although humorous, this exchange is getting a little tiresome and his arguments are just too easy to refute. Unless he comes up with an extraordinary rebuttal (which isn't likely), this will probably be the last installment of my debate with Rendall that I'll post. Check it out for yourself at FAIR.org. This group is a liberal think tank (I know -- that's an oxymoron) masquerading as a "media watchdog group".

Mr. Rendall.

Thanks for your response. It's not often that you'll find a liberal who even attempts to defend their beliefs or try to back them with facts. Your response falls far short of being factual or mounting much of a defense of your beliefs but at least it's a response which is more than you can say for most liberals who are challenged on their beliefs. The typical response to for the liberal to retort with nasty names. Now, it's time to pick apart you response point by point - with facts.

First of all, I would challenge you to copy and paste my response to your Hannity column into your email program and bold the portions containing the "name calling tirade". The only name I called was a suggestion - in jest - of a more descriptive (and accurate) name for your group. Sorry you can't take a joke. And sorry, calling a liberal a liberal doesn't count as name-calling, even though I'm sure you'd like it to.
Steve Rendall:
Nonsense. You called us "yahoos." Don't tempt me to add "liar" to my perfectly accurate description of you as a name caller.

Secondly, progressive is a term that most people who aren't politically aware don't understand. Most people recognize the word liberal for what it is - liberal, which is why liberals like you mask your bias with the word "progressive". (I don't mind being called a conservative and don't have to obfuscate the label with misleading synonyms.) Combine a misunderstanding of the word "progressive" with the misleading first sentence of your opening paragraph, (FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986.) and it's easy to see how someone could mistake your group for being unbiased. When I see Jeff Cohen on panel discussions regarding the media on the "conservatively biased" Fox News (which, somehow, despite it's radical conservative bias, manages to find room for Cohen and other "progressives" on their panels) it's in the role of an unbiased critic of the media. Indeed, your very name is misleading. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, implies fairness and accuracy, the definition of which, in any rational person's mind, is an absence of bias.

Steve Rendall:
First of all, I am not a liberal. When it comes to liberals I like to quote Heywood Broun: "liberals are the first ones out of the room when a fight breaks out." In addition, as I was growing up liberal American politicians were prosecuting illegal wars and assassinating and attempting to assassinate foreign leaders (Diem, Lamumba and Castro for starters.)
"Progressive" is an broad term encompassing liberals, democratic socialists, left libertarians and other left leaning tendencies. (Libertarianism originated on the left.)

I'm sorry I don't have time to educate you on the subtleties of U.S. political tendencies, though it's clear that you need educating.

And on Jeff Cohen and Fox News Watch: You haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about. Jeff and Laura Flanders (also of FAIR) were hired to be the left-leaning media critics on the show. If you hadn't figured that out from watching them (they've been off the show for years) you have a real perception problem.

As far as my "AIDS tirade" goes, you mention a "homophobic" (there's a FAIR word) Christian right activist's concerns about the spread of AIDS in a book published in 1989 (and presumably written earlier than that) a time when there were real questions about the spread of AIDS (ask the family of Kimberly Bergalis). Yet the connection I make between questions regarding the spread of this 100% fatal disease and the fact that it's illegal to inquire of the status of someone who is essentially walking around a ticking time bomb, goes right over your head.

Steve Rendall:
Again AIDS is not 100% percent fatal-- besides the significant success of protease inhibitors there have been some sero conversions -- where once sero-positive patients become sero-negative-- that are not entirely understood.

The way the media distort the facts on AIDS (such as your myth that AIDS is not 100% fatal) is certainly "applicable to media criticism work." Your comment on my "AIDS tirade" proves a couple of maxims about liberals. 1) Your (opposing) point is only relevant if a liberal deems it so and 2) because I'm a liberal, whatever I say is true - don't complicate my distortions with facts. The facts are that, while expensive drug cocktails have prolonged life for many AIDS patients in this country and other industrialized nations by as much as 10 years or more, they all eventually die or will die of complications of AIDS. In developing countries in Africa, without these drugs 2.4 million people died of AIDS in 2001 and 28 million or more are infected. As far as heterosexual transmission of AIDS among monogamous partners who don't use IV drugs, it just can't happen unless some other method of transmission that you liberals are loathe to admit ever happens occurs. That's an indisputable fact.

Steve Rendall:
Nice try. On the subject of the impossibility of monogamous heterosexuals contracting HIV, you are trying to slither away from what you wrote in your first note. Here's it is: "Is it FAIR not to point out that the risk of monogamous heterosexuals getting AIDS through sexual contact is non-existent..."

As you see, you made no mention of drug use in that passage. Like I said, nice try. BUT, even by adding the 'drug use' wording your bases are still not covered: Monogamous heterosexuals can contract HIV if their single partner does not act monogamously-- a not uncommon occurrence.

Can you say "oops!"

You really haven't thought nearly deeply enough about this to present any sort of intelligent commentary.

Finally, the idea that the mainstream media is centrist is laughable at best. Examples of liberal bias in the mainstream media abound. I'll deal with this in my next installment of this discussion. As far as the idea that less than five percent of your criticism is dedicated to conservative pundits, that isn't what's reflected in your home page. Of the 19 links to original pieces on FAIR's home page, five of them were dedicated to criticism of O'Reilly, Limbaugh and Hannity. That's better than 25%. Combine that with your use of openly liberal interest groups in a book that nit-picks Limbaugh to death, and you're hardly painting a FAIR or accurate picture. If you're going to have a blatant liberal bias, don't call yourselves FAIR and don't hold yourselves out to be fair and accurate. Because you're neither.
Steve Rendall:
That you cannot muster a single fact to defend Limbaugh against FAIR's copious evidence documenting his falsehoods speaks volumes. You've seen my evidence, don't write back until you have some of your own.
Sincerely, Steve Rendall

Hi Steve,

Here's my latest installment:

Mr. Rendall,

You liberals are humorous. Yes you are a liberal. I'm not interested in your shades of gray nuances about the differences between liberals and I'm not interested in your liberal re-education about the political "subtleties" of liberalism. It's just another way to obfuscate your unpopular political beliefs and transform them into something minimally palatable.

At the risk of sending you of the thin skin off the deep end about another name-calling tirade, I'll tell you that attempting to engage a liberal in meaningful debate is like poking a weak, toothless, clawless old bear with a stick (Hmm, a weak, toothless bear, what an appropriate animal for a liberal mascot). The more you challenge them, the more surly they get, growling and spitting, but never coming up with any substantive response to your goading.

I will ask politely one more time, copy and paste my previous email into your email program and bold the name-calling tirade. You can't because it didn't happen. Another perfect example of "if a liberal says it it must be so and don't try to confuse the issue with facts." If I was as thin-skinned as you (and most other liberals) are, I'd whine about the "name calling tirade" you opened with when you labeled me a name caller in your first response. (I'm really on a tirade now! Not only did I call you a "yahoo" (oooh!), I've now likened you to a toothless bear and called you thin-skinned. You wanted a tirade, you've got a tirade. I won't be as uncivil as to call YOU a liar, but if the shoe fits.)

As far as the AIDS claim goes, it isn't even a nice try on your part and I�m not backing down: AIDS is 100% fatal. Eventually, everyone who contracts full-blown AIDS dies from it or its complications. Being HIV positive is not fatal in all cases and in some cases, people who a re HIV positive, such as Magic Johnson, go into complete remission. But being HIV positive is different from having full-blown AIDS. Again, explain away the rampant epidemic of AIDS in African countries where they don�t have ready access to protease inhibitors and the like.

As far as the monogamous couples deal goes, okay, I didn't explicitly state what I implied -- couples who are monogamous and have no other risk factors cannot get AIDS -- that's a fact. AIDS is still a disease that afflicts primarily homosexual males, people who have unprotected sex with multiple partners and IV drug users -- refute that please.

The Limbaugh thing is a great attempt at liberal slight of hand, but it doesn't counter my point that the idea that FAIR spends less than five percent of it's time critiquing the right is ridiculous. But if you want to bait and switch, I'll go along with you because the topic you switched to is a loser for you as well.

First of all, where is your "copious evidence documenting (Limbaugh's) falsehoods"? It�s certainly not in your book. The fact that you quote a "scientist" from the radical Environmental Defense Fund slamming Limbaugh, isn't evidence that he's wrong. The EDF is comprised of such a bunch of quacks (there I go again on a name-calling tirade) that their top link under "campaigns in the news" urges people to help them keep beating that dead horse global warming. Anyone who is up to speed on the issue can tell you that the theory of man-made global warming has been largely de-bunked (although the media still continue to treat it as irrefutable science). Read this excerpt from an article by James K. Glassman in the site capmag.com:

Lately, some environmentalists, in an effort to win approval for Kyoto-style restrictions, have made radical claims about future warming. Some have pointed to an article published in the journal Nature by Michael Mann and his colleagues, which found that "Northern Hemisphere mean annual temperatures for three of the past eight years are warmer than any other year since [at least] 1400 A.D."

The Mann research is commonly known as the "hockey stick," for the shape of a graph that shows temperatures roughly flat from 1000 through the early 20th century, then rising sharply on the right-hand side, like the blade-end of a hockey stick. The United Nations used Mann's research to declare that "the 1990s has been the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year of the millennium."

A new paper, however, published in the journal Energy and the Environment, repudiates the Mann claims. Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick examined Mann's data and found his research "contains collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculation of principal components and other quality control defects."

A new computation, with the errors corrected, discovered that the "late 20th Century is unexceptional compared to the preceding centuries, displaying neither unusually high mean values nor variability." In fact, temperatures were higher during periods in both the 15th and 16th Century than they were in the late 20th Century.

The gradual warming (and cooling) of the earth is a natural cycle and yet your expert �scientist�s� group continues to sound the alarm bell:

The Earth is heating up. By burning fossil fuels and clear-cutting forests, humans are adding carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at a perilous rate. The consequences of global warming are potentially catastrophic. But there is hope. You can help to undo global warming.

Do you remember Paul Ehrlich's book the population bomb? According to Ehrlich, most of us should have starved to death by now. And yet there is more per capita food production in the world now than ever before.

Who can forget Carl Sagan standing on the fringes of the flaming Iraqi oil fields during the closing days of Gulf War I and predicting a nuclear winter-like scenario for the region due to the smoke. Did it happen? No.

Quoting someone who comes from the militant environmentalist point of view and would probably identify with the ravings of Erlich and the late Carl Sagan as an unbiased source on the validity of Limbaugh's claims is sloppy (if not dishonest) journalism (there I go again on a name-calling tirade). And please don't try to tell me that Michael Oppenheimer's political views are well known or that the average uninformed Joe is going to be aware of the EDF's political bias cause it just ain't so.

Well, it's time to close this installment, but not before taking issue with you -- again --for your organization's misrepresentation of itself. I've talked to many people of different political stripes over the past couple weeks and asked them what their definition of "fairness and accuracy" as it applies to media criticism is. Everyone has nearly the same answer and that is fair and impartial, covering both sides of the issue. Indeed, that's what you'll find when you look up information on Jeff Cohen's career. The vast majority of citations list him as "media critic" or "recognized as one of the foremost experts in media analysis and criticism". The only clear reference I've found to Jeff Cohen as being a "liberal media critic" is when Eric Burns eludes to Cohen's political bias on the closing comments of the last Fox News Watch Cohen appeared as a regular on (in May of 2002, not "years" ago as you asserted). Most people wouldn't know that the founder of the "media watchdog group" FAIR was an attorney for the ACLU before founding FAIR. And most people wouldn't know that this "media watchdog group" has it's teeth firmly planted in the asses of prominent conservative pundits while being absolutely toothless when it comes to the rabid anti-American vitriol spouted by such people as Michael Moore and many other liberals.

The simple fact of the matter, Mr. Rendall, is that it's not that difficult being a policy analyst for a liberal think-tank masquerading as a "media watchdog group" when the vast majority of the mainstream media share your political bias.

Yours Truly,

Steve Bowers

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