Saturday, May 15, 2010

5/15/10: HuffPost smears Sarah Palin and the NRA, again (users erupt in hate-fest; HuffPost: "Approved!!!")

Summary: Did Sarah Palin and the NRA really say they want terrorists on the No-Fly List to be able to purchase firearms? No. So why did HuffPost claim they did, in a screaming front page headline --- which it left up, without correction, for more than ten hours?

This is yet another instance of HuffPost publishing false, inflammatory headlines against Palin and the NRA, that could only be designed to incite mass public hatred and misconceptions (more here, here). It is also another example of the fundamental clash between HuffPost's self-proclaimed journalistic principles, and the reality of what it churns out on a regular basis.

This all would not be so serious were it not for the fact that HuffPost
is the #1 blog on Earth, and is now one of America's top ten news sites. And with 13 million unique visitors per month, HuffPost has more online readers than the Washington Post (the publisher of which recently said her paper "could learn from" HuffPost).

On the afternoon of May 15, 2010, HuffPost's splash front page headline was as follows:

Did either the NRA or Sarah Palin really say they want those on the No-Fly List to be able to buy guns?
Of course not.

Is there any conceivable way that HuffPost's crack team of 53 editors could not have known this, if it had done even the most basic fact-checking, prior to their publishing this inflammatory headline?


So upon what did HuffPost base this inflammatory accusation?
Who knows? Perhaps one day, someone in a position of influence will ask HuffPost to explain itself.

One thing we do know, is that this is not an isolated incident. It is a continuation of HuffPost's long history of using false/misleading headlines, libelous smears and biased "reporting" to "go after" conservative individuals and organizations, including Sarah Palin and the NRA (not to mention the U.S. military, and Israel and Jews).


Ten minutes of basic research reveals the truth behind HuffPost's libel of Sarah Palin and the NRA


Here's the
story page to which HuffPost's screaming headline linked:

Two things about this "news" story (click to enlarge) immediately jump out to anyone with even a passing interest in journalistic integrity:
(1) Sarah Palin isn't mentioned once, in either the headline or story excerpt (the original story was published by "ThinkProgress," the Soros-funded leftist smear site). So why does HuffPost have her occupying half the headline on the front page? Who knows?

(2) The screaming headline on the front page says the NRA and Sarah Palin want those on the No-Fly List to be able to purchase guns. But the story page says the issue under discussion is the Terrorist Watch List.

Is there a difference between the No-Fly List and the Terrorist Watch List?
Yes, there is --- a BIG one... that even a quick
Wikipedia search turns up:

Note the entire second paragraph:
The No Fly List is different from the Terrorist Watch List, a much longer list (currently estimated to exceed one million names) of persons suspected of some involvement with terrorism.[3]

Keep that wording in mind:
"persons suspected of..." And here is how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) defines its No-Fly List:
"The "No-Fly" list has been an essential element of the aviation security - it keeps known terrorists off planes."

Ah, "known terrorists." Got it. Which is fundamentally different than the Terrorist Watch List, which keeps an eye on "persons suspected of" some involvement in terrorism. Which means that they have neither been charged nor convicted of committing any crimes. Which means that by law, their Constitutional rights and protections must remain intact.

What else could have been gleaned about the Terrorist Watch List, had HuffPost done even the most basic fact-checking?

It would have learned that an extremely wide range of sources have raised serious questions of the legitimacy of names on the Terrorist Watch List, or voiced opposition to taking away the Constitutional rights of those on it, including:
  • The Department of Justice's own Inspector General (more here)

  • The NRA, which presciently noted: "Those suspected of terrorist activity to the level that they should lose a constitutional right shouldn't be roaming our streets. And if they should lose one right, they should lose all. Americans have rejected denying constitutional rights based on suspicion and secret lists." (more here)

  • The ACLU

  • "The Daily Show," which HuffPost covers on a frequent basis

So how long did it take HUFF-WATCH to conduct all that research? 10 minutes.

Several key questions arise at this point:
  • Did HuffPost's crack team of 53 editors do that research, discover the truth, choose to ignore it, then write this false, inflammatory headline? Or...

  • Did they blow off doing any research before running this inflammatory, false headline?


So what kind of user comments do you think were incited by HuffPost's libels against Sarah Palin and the NRA?


Here's a sampling of the 12,000 comments that HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish as a result of its incitement, by the afternoon of May 16:

ZDuck . Permalink
This should be the mantra for the day "Palin supports Terrorists-she wants those on the no-fly list to carry guns" . At least it is the truth, more than she can spew forth from her mouth.

Palin Supports Gun Rights For Terrorist!!!!!

MrJoyboy . Permalink
Of course NRA types want terrorists to be able to buy guns. They're tired of shooting at targets; they're itching for a shootout with live humans.

hubbahubba77 HUFFPOST SUPER USER Permalink
Ha! Proof positive that the NRA is run by radical fringe wacko-nutjobs who couldn't care less about their own members, much less the views of everyone else. This is a morally bankrupt organization if ever there was one. [...]

Americanium . Permalink
[...] Why are Republicans blocking efforts to prevent terrorists from buying weapons in the USA? Why are Republicans so invested in terror attacks on Americans? Why do Republicans think that terrorism benefits them politically?

dread . Permalink
If you sell weapons to a known terrorist does that not also make you a terrorist ?

And HUFF-WATCH's pick for "Ironic Comment" is a toss-up.... between "StupidPeopleSuck":
StupidPeopleSuck . Permalink
The NRA is a terrorist organization as far as I am concerned, and Palin is guilty of sedition.
and "Thinklongterm":
Thinklongterm HUFFPOST SUPER USER Permalink
Arrest Palin for treason!

The above list doesn't even include the really deranged comments that HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish, containing vile personal attacks on Sarah Palin, her children, etc. --- which, as we've already documented here, it finds perfectly acceptable.


HuffPost's bloviations on its journalistic integrity --- including "a prohibition on inflammatory claims"


As a reminder of HuffPost's holier-than-thou proclamations of its journalistic virtues, as compared to other "news" sources:
Here's Arianna Huffington, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of HuffPost, explaining its journalistic virtues and mission:
"[At HuffPost] there are guidelines that have to be followed -- and they include a prohibition on... inflammatory claims..."
- Feb. 1, 2010

“[T]oo many reporters have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth, consequences be damned...
- July 29, 2008

“[W]e are increasingly seen ... as an Internet newspaper, not positioned ideologically in terms of how we cover the news.”
- May 22, 2009

And here's how one of HuffPost's top "reporters," Jason Linkins, lashed out (justifiably) at another "Internet newspaper" just a few months ago for... inept editing and journalistic standards:
In short, the facts Corsi obtained torpedo the premise of his piece, which, I remind you, is that the "shooter advised [the] Obama transition." Were this being written for a responsible journalistic entity, some creature called an "editor" would have stepped in and said, "Hey, Jerome, you realize that by your own findings, you article is complete horseshit, right?" But this is World Net Daily, written by and for complete charlatans.


Conclusion: Does anyone even care what HuffPost does? What kind of reach and impact does it really have? A lot more than most people are aware of.


Some conservatives and casual political observers say,
"Oh, who even reads HuffPost, or believes anything it says?" and, "HuffPost is a blog --- not a 'news' operation!"

The facts, which many find both surprising and disturbing, are that:
  • HuffPost is the #1 blog on Earth, is now one of America's top ten news sites, and was recently named "the most powerful blog in the world" by The Guardian (UK).

  • At 13 million unique visitors per month, HuffPost has more online readers than the Washington Post (the publisher of which recently said her paper "could learn from" HuffPost).

  • HuffPost has received preferential treatment in presidential press conferences, and has top members of Congress as official bloggers (article writers). It is also now a reportedly disgruntled member of the White House Correspondent's Association.

  • Inc. magazine recently claimed: "HuffPost... consistently breaks important news stories..."

  • HuffPost has attracted advertising from many of the biggest corporations in the world.

Given these facts, regardless of how one feels about it, HuffPost has become a powerful, influential part of both the "news" media and the political blogosphere.

If you're as concerned as we are about how HuffPost is using its influence to lie about, smear and incite hatred against certain individuals and groups, and would like to voice your opinion to its top executives, here's how.


1, May 15, 11:00pm: HuffPost kept this false story as its splash headline to for more than ten hours

As shown at the top of the story page (red underline), HuffPost published this story as its splash lead at 12:47pm:

Just as HUFF-WATCH was about to grab another screencap to show that it was still the splash headline at 11:00pm (see timestamp at lower right), HuffPost changed the headline to something else, but as shown below, it moved this story to its second-to-top position. And as noted, over these 10 hours, HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish more than 9,000 user comments --- which were submitted based upon a lie:

And as of 11:30pm --- almost 11 hours after it published this false story --- HuffPost still did not publish an update containing a correction to it:


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