"News that's not known, or not known enough." Helen & Harry Highwater's cranky weblog of news and opinion.
Wayne Madsen is not a reliable source.
Wayne Madsen is a free-lance writer who publishes Wayne Madsen Report, a subscription-based website that is held in high regard at numerous websites, and occasionally quoted by otherwise reasonable voices on talk radio.
We're just plain un-impressed by Mr Madsen's work. You can take our opinion for whatever you think it's worth -- we're just an office worker and a janitor who publish a news-related weblog with far fewer readers than Mr Madsen's site. We try to adhere to some simple journalistic ethics, though, such as: We don't include "news" we don't believe to be true.
In our in-box there's an endless trickle of communications from folks tipping us off to "important news", as reported by Wayne Madsen. As we write this, Mr Madsen is reporting that Vice President Dick Cheney's name appears on the list of customers of the DC Madam's "escort services". This is awfully big news on a lot of blogs much more popular than ours, but this will probably be the only mention of it at Unknown News.
We won't report it because we don't believe it. We won't believe the claim is credible until it comes from someone more reliable than Wayne Madsen. He's the only reporter reporting this, so ... Let's look at Mr Madsen's track record:
♦ Madsen has previously reported that the Saudis and Enron funded the rigging of the 2004 election. To our knowledge no-one else has reported this, and there's no evidence that it's true beyond Madsen's claim.
♦ In 2006, Madsen reported that Karl Rove was about to be indicted. But Rove wasn't indicted, or if he was indicted it remains a secret (shhh) even now.
In July 2007, Wayne Madsen reported that Scooter Libby is a long-time Mossad agent. This remains un-reported by anyone except reports quoting Madsen, so one might wonder, who was Madsen's source? In his report, Madsen cited "an un-named "veteran CIA official cover officer who spoke to WMR (Wayne Madsen Reports) on deep background." That's convincing, only if you've already decided to believe Wayne Madsen.
Madsen once reported that First Lady Laura Bush was so furious about President Bush's long, ongoing affair with Condoleezza Rice that Mrs Bush had packed a suitcase and moved out of the White House. We've read no other reporters' account of this alleged affair, nor seen any evidence that there's anything to it beyond a rumor. Nor have we seen any reliable reports that Mrs Bush moved out of the White House years before her husband did. And as sloppy as mainstream reporting has gotten, we still believe either item would have been pretty dang newsworthy to the Washington Post or Associated Press.
Madsen has reported that President George W. Bush had an affair with a male member of his cabinet. No names were named, and nobody else has yet reported this. There is, near as we can tell, no basis for believing it, unless you're willing to believe each and every word typed by Wayne Madsen.
While the Mark Foley-page scandal was big news, Madsen reported that House Speaker Dennis Hastert was "gay and has a small penis". But again, this was "news" only Madsen and his readers took seriously. Some people might be fascinated by conjecture about the size of a Congressman's penis, but to us that's not hard news.
So, to recap, if you want to believe Wayne Madsen, you pretty much have to believe that Saudis and Enron conspired to steal the 2004 election, that Karl Rove was indicted in 2006, that Dennis Hastert is gay and has a small penis, that George W Bush is gay or bisexual, that Bush and his wife were separated while he was President because of his affair with Condi Rice, on and on ... all this and more, none of it reported elsewhere, all of it based solely on Wayne Madsen's say-so.
At some point, doesn't credulity snap?
And bear in mind, please, that this list of what Madsen's gotten wrong is almost certainly far from complete. Keeping tabs on Wayne Madsen isn't our hobby or our passion — these are just his bogus reports that we remember, a list compiled in about 45 minutes of quick clicking.
Regarding Mr Madsen's latest alleged scoop, reported exclusively by Wayne Madsen but already echoed all across the web, that Cheney is a customer of the DC Madam — sorry, it's almost certainly bull. We've read Mr Madsen's report on this, but again he offers no sources who are willing to go on the record, so again, the only evidence of Wayne Madsen's claim is ... Wayne Madsen's claim.
Is that enough for you? It's not enough for us. Based on Madsen's track record, we don't believe he's a credible source, so his claims mean nothing to us. His reports are so flamboyantly unreliable that we can't take this latest "news" as anything more than a rumor. Our website doesn't traffic in rumors.
We will add, though, that it's a perfectly plausible rumor. Dick Cheney might have been a customer of the DC Madam, and we wouldn't have much difficulty believing it. Plausibility, of course, is essential when telling lies.
Rumor-mongering is not journalism. Even if something sounds plausible, even if you might want it to be true, some guy saying it's true doesn't make it true (especially not if Wayne Madsen is the guy saying it).
Those who believe and even pay for Wayne Madsen's reports are of course free to read anything they wish. We love the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. We don't hate Mr Madsen or even wish him ill, and we suspect that in person he's an interesting character, probably a fun guy to have a beer with. But we're not going to help spread his un-true reports.
We've posted this page so we can reply with a link whenever our email in-box is filled with "news" from Wayne Madsen, so we can stop explaining again (and again and again) why Mr Madsen's "news" isn't included among our website's headlines.
Like the URL says, this website is about unknown news.
Our news comes only from mainstream, professional journalists or (rarely) other sources we trust entirely, with no nuttiness and no interest in the same news you see everywhere else.
What we believe
We believe in liberty and justice for all, so of course, we oppose many US government policies. This doesn't mean we're anti-American, redneck scum, pinko commies, militia members, or terrorist-sympathizers. It means we believe in freedom, as more than merely a cliché.
We believe you have the right to live your own life as you choose, and others have the equal right to live their lives as they choose. It's not complicated.
We believe freedom leads to peace, progress, and prosperity, while its opposite -- oppression -- leads to war, terrorism, poverty, and misery.
We believe it's preposterously stupid to hate people because of their appearance, their race or nationality, their religion or lack of religion, how they have sex with other consenting adults, etc. There are far more apropos reasons to hate most people.
We believe in questioning ourselves, our assumptions, each other -- and we especially believe in questioning authority (the more authority, the more questions). We believe obedience is a fine quality in dogs and young children, but not in adults.
Like America's right-wingers, we believe in
hard work to get ahead,
and stern punishment for serious crimes.
We believe big government should not be blindly trusted.
But unlike most right-wing leaders, we mean it.
Like America's left-wingers, we believe in
equal treatment under law,
war as a last (not first) resort,
and sensible stewardship of natural resources.
We believe big business should not be blindly trusted.
But unlike most left-wing leaders, we mean it.
Like libertarians, we believe it's wrong and reprehensible to arrest people for what they think, believe, look like, wear, eat, smoke, drink, inhale, inject, or otherwise do to themselves.
But unlike many libertarians, we're not obsessed with the gold standard, we don't believe incorporation is humanity's highest achievement, and we don't believe everything in life comes down to dollars and cents. We've read and enjoyed Ayn Rand's novels, but we understand that they're works of fiction.
We're skeptical, and we're sick of so-called 'journalists' who aren't skeptical at all.
A reader asks, what are our solutions?
We propose no solutions except common sense, which is never common. We like the principles of democracy, and the ideals broadly described as 'American'. The US Constitution is a fine and workable framework for solutions, when it's actually read and thoughtfully understood by intelligent statesmen and women. So, no manifestos from us. We don't dream that big, and if there's one thing the world doesn't need it's yet another manifesto.
Our suggestion is: think.
A fact-based instead of faith-based approach leads to solutions for most of the recurring issues of our time, from abortion to global climate change, pollution to universal health care, careful but real regulation of industry and economy, hunger, war, terror, human rights for humans not for corporations, science not religious doctrine in public schools, equal protection and prosecution under law, etc. Approach problems without glorifying stupidity, without demonizing intelligence, and answers usually come into focus.
These pages are published by Harry and Helen Highwater, happily married low-income nom de plumes and rabble-rousers from Madison, Wisconsin (with a few friends scattered around the world helping out).
We try to spotlight news that hasn't gotten enough (or appropriate) attention in American media, along with our opinions and yours.
We bang our keyboards against the wall, because it doesn't hurt as much as banging our heads.
We assume our readers are well-informed before they click here, so we focus on news that's generally unknown or under-reported. We're generally disinterested in such non-news as reports on what politicians might do, may do, or should do, and we don't usually mention the murders, kidnappings, house fires, auto wrecks, celebrity crap, wacky fluff, and other nonsense that's pushed real news right out of the newscasts.
Disclaimer for dummies: Our front page is free from nudity, but we make no promise on profanity. If your surfing is monitored this site might not be safe for work, and you may be shocked, offended, or in trouble with your boss. A link doesn't imply that we agree with every sentence and every sentiment on every site we link to. We use our noggins, and suggest you use yours.
We always welcome comments from readers, and we're especially interested in hearing and considering different perspectives, so please don't be shy. All we ask is that you conduct yourself sanely and civilly, so consider yourself invited to speak your mind. Our email address and other info is on our contact page.
Please don't email us unless you're sending an original communication that you're not sending to anyone or everyone else. If you add us to your mailing list or chat group without asking us first, or if you send "Dear friend" newsletters, or "link exchange" form letters, or if you send a press release every time you add a post to your blog, you're a spammer and we'll soon block your emails. Also, as a matter of security, we don't open emails from strangers which include attachments or have any kind of programming imbedded, and we recommend a similar policy for others. If you're sending us an email, please send it in plain text only.
Anything sent to Unknown News may be published. If you don't want it published, say so plainly. When we publish incoming emails, we edit out the sender's last name and email address — if we slip up (or if you want your full name and email address published) please let us know. Of course, if your email is unambiguously intended only to annoy, insult, or threaten us, we'll publish it with all the details and leave it on-line forever.