Celebrating five years of NewsBusters: Terrorist scarves, Palin stalking, and Obama's secret soccer balls

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

The staff of NewsBusters, your online source for inept right-wing media criticism, have announced that they're gearing up for the website's fifth birthday with a celebration of what they consider "some of the site's best work."

Has it really been five years? For those of us who've enjoyed NewsBusters' content on a daily basis, it's felt like fifty. But seeing as we're among the blog's most devoted readers, we don't want to be left out of the festivities. So we've put together our own compendium of what we consider to be the posts from the past few years that best define NewsBusters as the very special website that it is.

Sarah [heavy breathing] Palin. It's no secret that conservatives love Sarah Palin. They loved her when she was tapped as John McCain's running mate and helped him stagger to an electoral drubbing in 2008. And they loved her when she resigned the governorship of Alaska to spend more time with her Facebook account. But some of those conservatives took those feelings a little too far, and NewsBuster Noel Sheppard was one of them. In December 2009, Sheppard posted creepy accounts of Palin's media appearances, writing that she "continued her historic climb into the hearts of Americans" by appearing on the Tonight Show. Sheppard also wrote that she showed "the sense of humor millions of Americans fell in love with" when she attacked critics of her climate change-denying Washington Post op-ed.

If you're sitting a little uncomfortably in your chair, well... so are we.

Hope... change... GOOOOAAAALLLL!!! Back in June, NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein sniffed out some perfidious bias on the cover of Time's World Cup issue, claiming that the soccer ball as depicted on the cover looked suspiciously similar to President Obama's campaign logo. The evidence, according to Finkelstein, was clear -- they were both round, and they both had the colors red, white and blue on them. Never mind that the two looked almost nothing alike, and that there was no earthly reason for Time to secretly hide the Obama logo on a soccer ball, and that the ball on the cover had green on it, which conspicuously does not appear on the Obama logo.

Matt Lauer's terrorist neckwear. We should point out that Mark Finkelstein is practiced at spotting (non-existent) nefarious symbolism in otherwise innocent-looking things. Way back in 2005, Finkelstein authored a post exploring whether or not NBC's Matt Lauer wore a "Palestinian support scarf" on the air while hosting Today. Finkelstein helpfully attached a photo of Lauer's alleged PLO-chic outfit, revealing that the Lauer was standing outside, in the snow, wearing a houndstooth scarf. Nonetheless, Finkelstein dubbed this "Keffiyeh-gate," and insisted that it made sense because... well, just because.

"Wolverines!" and the Washington Post. When Patrick Swayze passed away, the Washington Post ran an obituary listing the actor's many culturally significant movies. The obit, however, set Tim Graham's bias detector off when he observed that the Post highlighted Swayze's starring role in "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" (which he described as the "drag-queen movie") before they noted his starring role in "Red Dawn," the alternate-reality anti-communist movie that represents many conservatives' vision of the world as it should be. When his own commenters turned on him for this spectacularly inane criticism, Graham explained that he was just pointing out how Washington Post staffers don't ever talk about "Red Dawn."

"Thief" is such an ugly word. Remember the "Climate-gate scandal" and how that was the final nail in the coffin of the climate change hoax? Turns out that didn't really play out as advertised, but when the bogus to-do first got rolling, NewsBuster Brent Baker was on the front lines boldly demanding that the media refer to the hackers who stole the emails that spawned the whole affair as heroic whistleblowers, and not, you know, criminals: "The two networks, however, painted the 'stolen' e-mails not as laudatory whistle-blowing, but as an unwanted impediment to the left's global warming agenda."

Deleted-story story deleted. Eventually, we're all touched by the cruel hand of irony, and this past February, NewsBuster David Lanza caught a five-finger slap. It all started when Reuters posted, and then pulled down, a story on Obama's "backdoor taxes" hitting the middle class. Once the Reuters article was pulled, Lanza demanded that Reuters "be made to explain why this story disappeared." Well, Reuters granted his request, explaining that the article was 100-percent inaccurate (a judgment backed up by several conservative tax groups). So what happened next? NewsBusters pulled down Lanza's post without explanation.

The historic, non-historic health care bill. One of the NewsBusters crew's favorite pastimes is unintentionally contradicting each other, often to comic effect. Such was the case back in March when they posted two entries attacking the media for describing the passage of the health care reform bill as "historic." That complaint by itself didn't make a whole lot of sense, given that the passage of the bill was inarguably historic, regardless of your opinion of it. But one day later, Noel Sheppard posted an entry attacking CNN's Rick Sanchez for not reporting on the "historic healthcare reform vote" and instead talking about Sarah Palin.

I'm just trying to have a debate, you commie jerk. Following the ugly displays of racism and homophobia at the Capitol Hill Tea Party protests against the health care vote, Tim Graham attacked the Washington Post's Dana Milbank for reporting that Democrats were treated to catcalls of "You communists! You socialists! You hate America!" as they strode past protesters. According to Graham, all those protesters were trying to do was engage in a little debate: "It's always odd to see journalists, who you might think would enjoy debate, being so upset that anyone would stand in the way of Saint Barack." Lincoln-Douglas, eat your heart out.

That restaurant is always so crowded... with terrorists! One unique element of NewsBusters' brand of media criticism is that it quite frequently has nothing to do with the media. Such was the case when Tim Graham (he pops up a lot here, doesn't he?) questioned whether Michelle Obama was sending the right "signal" by recommending the Washington D.C.-area restaurant Busboys & Poets. Why was this a problem? Because, as Graham pointed out, "Busboys and Poets enthusiastically hosted the post-election Washington welcome for Obama supporter and Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers." Also, we hear they put red onion in the guacamole, and that makes them worse than Hitler.

The goose holocaust. And just this morning, Tim Graham complained that a recent New York Times article on the euthanizing of geese in Brooklyn's Prospect Park was too sensitive to the concerns of animal rights activists, and attacked the paper for not mentioning that "animal-rights partisans" had set up a Facebook group called "Stop the Goose Holocaust." Graham seemed genuinely unaware that the Facebook group was very much a parody -- it described the euthanized geese as black Canadian immigrants and attacked Michael Bloomberg for his obvious hatred of Canadians.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.