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Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Newsmax's Gizzi Caught Sending Article to Kobach Before Publication
Topic: Newsmax

For a journalist, letting a source see your story before it's published is a tricky issue. While it can be acceptable to double-check a quote with a source, letting that source see the entire article beforehand is generally frowned upon.

So it's worth noting that ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman -- while looking into recently released documents from the failed voter fraud commission convened by President Trump then disbanded when many states refused to cooperate with it over its apparent bias -- found an email from commission head Kris Kobach showing that Newsmax correspondent John Gizzi had sent an article he wrote to him that was, according to Huseman, "asking for his thoughts." That story ultimately appeared at Newsmax in July 2017.

Gizzi responded that because he doesn't record his interviews, "it is a good policy to run quotes past subject & thus avoid 'corrections' & 'retractions' from subbject [sic] later." But as Huseman pointed out: "You didn't just run the quotes. You sent the entire article to Kobach for approval. That's not normal.

Gizzi then admitted that he sent his entire article to "election law experts" Jay O'Callaghan and Hans von Spakovsky. O'Callaghan is with the conservative Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research, and von Spakovsky is with the conservative Heritage Foundation and was a member of the voter fraud commission. Huseman responded: "Thanks for this clarification. It's interesting that Hans didn't turn that email over to the commission."

In that article, Gizzi highlighted that "Andrew Spieles, a James Madison University student, pled guilty to charges he submitted 18 fraudulent voter registrations last year. Spieles, who worked for the Democratic Party-affiliated organization Harrisonburg Votes, was sentenced to up to 120 days in prison." But as the fact-checkers at Snopes report, Gizzi apparently got his information about Spieles' alleged partisanship from the Department of Justice; it could find "no website, Twitter account or Facebook page currently listed" under the "Harrisonburg Votes" name, and Virginia voters are not registered by party affiliation.

Gizzi cited the Spieles story in an attempt to undercut the only non-conservative he quotes in his story, then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He doesn't try to contradict any of the claims he quotes from Kobach and von Spakovsky.

Still, submitting the entire article to Kobach is not a good look, especially given how unlikely it is that Gizzi would report uncritically on him. After all, Newsmax is a pro-Trump website whose CEO considers himself a close personal friend of the president.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:13 PM EDT

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