The headline of Jim Meyers' March 4 Newsmax article reads, "Haridopolos Sets Record Straight on Book Controversy." In fact, all Meyers does is give Florida State Senate President Mike Haridopolos the opportunity to spin away a growing scandal -- and unmentioned completely is the fundraising Newsmax's CEO did on Haridopolos' behalf.
Haridopolos was paid $152,000 by a community college in Florida to write a book about politics -- a book that the college didn't see fit to publish beyond the single 175-page, double-spaced manuscript he submitted, making his per-book payday much greater than J.K. Rowling's for the entire Harry Potter series. When news of Haridopolos' payday broke, the college made an electronic version of the book available through Amazon for $9.99.
With the book suddenly available, people could judge the quality of it -- and learn why it wasn't distributed in the first place. Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerebino noted that Haridopolos "somehow managed to write a political history of Florida that completely skips over the Florida recount of the 2000 presidential election," adding that it contains such crucial advice for aspiring politicians like "It is essential to study the issues before deciding to run."
You won't get any of those juicy details from Meyers and Newsmax. After declaring that the scandal was "a non-issue that his political opponents are seeking to take advantage of," adding that Haridopolos is a "viewed as a strong candidate" for a U.S. Senate seat, "which is why he has come under Democratic attack so early in the game." Meyers then proceeds to let Haridopolos spin away:
“I’ve been a teacher and an author since 1993, and prior to this book, I’d written another book,” he says.
“So I was approached by the college to write another book that would be a benefit to all students, not just here at Brevard Community College but potentially around the country.
“They approached me with the idea of writing the book over four years about what it’s like to run for office and be in office.
“Over the course of the four years, I took a pay cut from my old job to do this. And as far as our critics are concerned, welcome to politics. This is just one way they go after us.”
Asked why there is only one copy of the book, Haridopolos responds: “I’m not sure why. But the college, it’s their book. I wrote it and they control the copyright. As far as I understand, right now [an e-book download] is on amazon.com for anyone who wants to purchase it.”
Meyers quotes no one else in the article, and he makes no attempt to tell the full story.But that's not what he's being paid to do.
History tells us that if Newsmax is promoting a candidate -- particularly a Florida Republican like Haridopolos -- it's also raising money for him. Indeed, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy served on the host committee for a Feb. 18 fundraiser for Haridopolos, which reportedly netted him more than $100,000 for his Senate race.
As with Ruddy's support for Bill McCollum in his 2010 race for Florida governor (for whom Ruddy also held a fundraiser) and Rick Scott (to whose 527 committee Newsmax donated $100,000), one has to wonder if slanting Newsmax's "news" coverage in favor of Haridopolos is one of the side benefits of getting money from Ruddy.
Needless to say, as with McCollum and Scott, Newsmax has not disclosed Ruddy's support of Haridopolos to its readers -- a huge violation of journalistic ethics.
P.S. We have an article up at Meda Matters summarizing Newsmax's financial support -- and positive coverage and endorsements -- of Haridopolos, McCollum and Scott.