Flashback: Newsmax's First Foray Into TV Topic: Newsmax
So Newsmax has been getting attention for the upcoming launch of its new TV news channel as a rivel to Fox News for the conservative audience. But we remember Newsmax's first attempt to get into the TV business.
In 2001, Newsmax produced a show called "NewsMax.com Reports." As we detailed at the time, it starred Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy and then-columnist Barry Farber (now with WorldNetDaily) and promised to be "the start of a new effort to reach millions of Americans with news and information the major media won't report."
It was also essentially an infomercial, airing as paid programming on CNBC on a Saturday. Newsmax also created something called the "Off-The Record Club," designed to "help NewsMax to buy national TV air time to expand our reach." For $25 a month, members were promised a monthly "special audio tape briefing from a top expert, insider or VIP – giving you an insider's perspective you won't get from the major media."
We don't know if more shows were produced beyond the one that aired, or if anyone actually signed up for the club. We assume not, because we never heard from either again.
Meanwhile, in its article on the new TV venture, Bloomberg Businessweek offers some interesting tidbits about Newsmax:
It had revenue of $104 million in 2013 -- $46 million of it in subscription revenue from its 17 newsletters and $6 million more from the sale of vitamin supplements.
The average age of Newsmax’s audience is 54.7, which makes it a prime target for things like newsletters and vitamin supplements.
It was Amway founder Richard DeVos who suggested to Ruddy that Newsmax could sell supplements to his middle-aged audience.
Newsmax has 260 employees, with plans for 300 by summer. It's moving into a new 50,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Boca Raton.
Ruddy's friendship with the Clintons could pose issues down the road: “I’m already torn by a Hillary Clinton candidacy,” he says. “I actually think she would make a good president. Generally, I would align myself with the Republican candidate, so there could be some bumps coming down the road.”
Newsmax Still Shilling For 'Son of God' Film Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax's lovefest for the film "Son of God" hasn't quite ended, though the film's advertising at the website has.
A March 2 article declared, "'Son of God' Blows Away Expectations With $26M Box Office Weekend." It touted how the film had "a staggering $26.5 million box office take" (though not so staggering that it wasn't surpassed by another movie that weekend).
A March 3 article by Matt Bendell tried to take a shot at the religious-film competition:
While the movie "Son of God" had a blockbuster opening weekend at the box office, the next biblical big-screen production on Hollywood's horizon, "Noah," is taking heat from some Christians for departing from the scriptural account of the Old Testament story.
The article goes on to promote some evangelicals' attacks on the film's supposedly "revisionist message," with one lamenting that "young people have a hard time deciphering reality from fiction and don't often take the time to form their own educated opinions."
Imagine: American soldiers aim their rifles and handguns at enemy fighters running toward them across the battlefield. But when they pull their triggers, none of the weapons fire. Within moments our troops are shot down by the onrushing enemy.
Border patrol agents under attack by a Mexican drug gang likewise find their handguns suddenly inoperative, as if turned off at a distance by the criminal gang advancing and firing on them.
Could this be the future, if the advocates of "smart guns" get their way?
A California smart gun start-up named Yardarm, reports the Post, has developed a technology so that "Users can even remotely disable their weapons." If owners can do this, who else can?
The inevitable question: Given this potential to turn off smart guns at a distance, thereby de facto disarming the users, will the politicians who require us to have smart guns also require that these same "safer" smart firearms be used by our soldiers in combat, by the Border Patrol, and by local and state police?
This columnist has long said that progressive presidents eager to impose gun control should lead by example. Presidents who say Americans need no guns to defend themselves should first disarm their own heavily armed Secret Service bodyguard.
Newsmax's Editorial Content Promotes An Advertiser Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax is pulling out all the stops to promote the new film "Son of God" -- and it couldn't possibly have nothing to do with the fact that the film is being advertised on Newsmax.
A Feb. 26 article by Melissa Clyne carries the hyperbolic headline "'Son of God' Set to Blow Away Box Office Projections."
Newsmax has also posted a Feb. 26 Reuters article featuring Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman claiming that "Son of God" will be "the antidote to the poison that 'Passion of the Christ' became" due to claims of anti-Semitism and excessive violence.
Note the sponsor line "See the Son of God and Watch the Story of Jesus Come to Life in Theaters" at the top of both of those articles. The producers of "Son of God" has apparently bought that strip, which appears at the top of all Newsmax articles -- the link goes to a website promoting the film.
Whether it may or may not actually be the case, Newsmax has created the appearance that it has adjusted its news content to be complementary to its advertising.
Michael Reagan Plays the Benghazi Card to Defend Christie Topic: Newsmax
As manyother right-wingers have done before him, Michael Reagan uses his Feb. 11 Newsmax column to deflect from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's bridge-closing scandal by invoking Benghazi:
The emphasis the media has put on two events that occurred in September gives a clear insight into journalists' thinking and the priority they give events that involve Republicans as opposed to the priority given events that involve Democrats.
The event involving a Republican occurred in September of last year and resulted in four days of traffic jams in Fort Lee, N.J. The event involving a Democrat occurred in September 2012 and resulted in four American deaths. Yet a comparison of the energy and resulting coverage of these events can only lead one to the conclusion that Republican errors that result in traffic jams are far more consequential than Democrat neglect that ends with an ambassador and three other Americans dead in Benghazi.
Now there is a daily drumbeat of congestion coverage as the media announces subpoenas of Christie aides, the New York Times invents an email that “proves” Christie knew, and other reporters follow Christie around the country as he attempts to raise money for the Republican Governors Association.
Without the determined efforts of GOP investigators in the House of Representatives and coverage from The Washington Times, the Benghazi attack and cover-up would have faded from memory. Maybe if Ambassador Stevens and the other three Americans had been killed in that traffic jam in New Jersey the mainstream media would be interested in getting to the bottom of their deaths and holding the Obama administration responsible.
Reagan offers no evidence that "Democrat neglect" was responsible for what happened in Benghazi, and he apparently can't tell the difference between a story that's more than a year old about which nothing significant has been revealed, and fresh breaking news about an apparently attempt at political payback by disrupting traffic, something the vast majority of Americans can directly relate to.
Newsmax Columnist: To Be More Inclusive, Chevy Should Exclude Gays Topic: Newsmax
Ronn Torossian uses his Feb. 13 Newsmax column to have a conniption about same-sex couples appearing in a Chevrolet ad:
Sometimes silence really is golden. If there was a list of brands that would be considered the most likely to stay out of the progressive culture war, conventional thinking would argue that Chevrolet would be high on that list.
Chevy is an all-American brand, popular with NASCAR-loving conservative values voters, and demographics that may not think favorably of liberal change in cultural mores. That’s what “conventional wisdom” may argue. But apparently conventional wisdom is wrong.
With its new Chevrolet Traverse commercial, Chevy has jumped feet first into the hornet’s nest of America’s ongoing debate on gay marriage, and made a commercial sure to alienate some — on an issue which no one asked for their opinion. There’s no right or wrong answer — but as a PR agency CEO I ask, why would an iconic brand get involved in this no-win discussion?
How is it strategically advantageous to Chevy to enter any divisive political debate? No one is asking the company to take part in the gay marriage discussion, so why call attention to itself on this issue? It’s unnecessary and could be detrimental. Sometimes less (or none at all) is more. Is this really their issue?
Rather than rushing into a debate which they think the media will appreciate, brands may want to pay more attention to considering potential outcomes and repercussions before getting into any kind of public conversation.
Torissian goes on to contradictorily argue that to be really inclusive, Chevy should exclude gays from its ads:
Chevy wants Republicans and Democrats to buy their brand, those for and opposed to gay marriage — so why touch this discussion? Wouldn’t they want everyone to be loyal Chevy fans, buying Chevys, and cheering for Chevy drivers on the circuit?
Torossian seems to have missed the fact that inclusiveness is part of Chevy's current ad campaign. From the Associated Press:
Chevy, a unit of General Motors Co. that is not an official sponsor, didn't comment on the Russian laws specifically, instead saying in a statement that "these ads ... are not intended as any political commentary."
One ad, called "The New Us," for the Chevrolet Traverse crossover SUV, shows quick shots of many different families, including a gay male couple with a son and a daughter. "While what it means to be a family hasn't changed, what a family looks like has," a voiceover states. "This is the new us."
Another ad, an overall Chevrolet brand spot, features a pastiche of different images of America, including a shot of a gay couple getting married. "Like the old love, the new love starts with a kiss," a voiceover states. "Like the old community, the new community still keeps us connected. ... A whole new lineup for a whole new world."
And Torossian seems also to have missed the fact that numerous major companies have expressed their support for same-sex marriage, which means Chevy isn't exactly ahead of the curve on the issue.
Newsmax's Ruddy Bashes less-Than-Fawning Ailes Bio Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy has his phases of reasonableness -- i.e., his rapproachement with Bill Clinton -- but he's still prone to to falling into spouting knee-jerk right-wing talking points.
In a Feb. 10 column, Ruddy includes as an example of alleged liberal intolerance ... the new biography of Roger Ailes?
I thought a new book about Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News and its longtime chairman -- "The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News — and Divided a Country," might shed some light on Fox's success.
But author Gabe Sherman, who has done some solid reporting at New York magazine, seems to have fallen into the same intolerant trap regarding Roger Ailes. I was hoping this book would give us a "fair and balanced" perspective on Ailes.
Instead, it reads as though Sherman interviewed every disgruntled person who ever worked with Ailes during his more than four decades in media.
Sherman thematically offers Ailes as a man who is dominating (is that unusual for a CEO?), a bully (because he fights back?), and paranoid (perhaps the Sherman book justifies that!).
There is so much I wanted to know about Ailes.
This is a man who took Rupert Murdoch's vision and became the architect of the biggest force in news today, creating an asset worth $10 billion or more. Yet the portrait Sherman paints is a fairly negative picture of Ailes that tells little about the real man.
Sherman does note that when Ailes left NBC to start Fox News, 89 employees at NBC quit their jobs to join him. Yes, 89 people left high-paying jobs with all the security NBC offered to go work on a start-up.
This passing reference screamed out to me: Tell me more!
This mass movement of employees, to me, is unprecedented. What type of man engenders such loyalty and support from his colleagues? I can’t believe that a controlling, paranoid bully would cause 89 people to so dramatically change their lives and risk their livelihoods. Sherman's book falls far short in telling that story about Roger Ailes and much more.
If it's a fawning bio of Ailes Ruddy wants, one exists -- the Zev Chafets book, which Ailes fully cooperated with.
Newsmax also attacked Sherman's book last month by complaining that he didn't submit it to "Fox's press department" for fact-checking, even though Sherman repeatedly tried (and failed) to talk with Ailes himself.
Newsmax's Ruddy Hangs With Donald Trump Topic: Newsmax
The Newsmax-Donald Trump romance -- which started with Newsmax promoting Trump's presidential aspirations, followed by a failed attempt to host a Republican presidential debate -- is continuing apace.
Last Sunday, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy hung out at Trump's Super Bowl party in Palm Beach. Ruddy tweeted a photo of him and Trump that also went out on Newsmax's Twitter account:
That served as the basis for a Feb. 4 Newsmax article by Alexandra Ward that touted how "Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy joined billionaire Donald Trump at his Super Bowl Bash in Palm Beach, Fla., on Sunday and heard first-hand from the real estate mogul what his key election plank would be if he chooses to run for governor of New York later this year."
So it seems Newsmax will continue to serve as Trump's public-relations agents for some time to come.
Ex-Senator Rents Mailing List to Newsmax, Gets Email From Dubious Doctor In Return Topic: Newsmax
Former senator and Fox News contributor Scott Brown rented his mailing list to Newsmax to make a little money. What Scott and his email recipients got in return was not quite what he expected.
Media Matters reports Newsmax sent out on Scott's list a mailing from Dr. Russell Blaylock -- who, as we've documented, has made numerous questionable medical claims, like fearmongering over vaccinesand linking aspartame and MSG to diseases nobody else can seem to find a link to. Brown's subscribers also received a dubious financial pitch from a Newsmax-affiliated publication.
After being alerted to the questionable Newsmax emails, New Hampshire's WMUR reported that Scott said he is "terminating my relationship with this vendor effective immediately." Brown said with regard to the Blaylock email that he "did not approve or authorize the sending of this particular email."
In addition to renting others' email lists, Newsmax manages the mailing lists of other conservative figures and groups, including Dick Morris, Herman Cain, Rasmussen Reports and National Review.
A Jan. 28 AP story was sent out with the headline "New DHS chief endorses 'earned' citizenship idea." But after Newsmax got a hold of it, the headline read "Obama's New DHS Chief: Amnesty for Illegals 'Matter of National Security'."
The DHS chief said nothing about "amnesty for illegals." The only reference to "amnesty" in the article came during a reference to how Republicans have criticized immigration reform as "back-door amnesty." Indeed, as we've noted, because the proposed path to citizenship in immigration reform includes numerous conditions before citizenship would be made available, it is not, by definition, "amnesty."
Newsmax's Hirsen Joins the D'Souza Conspiracy; Is He Running Interference For A Friend? Topic: Newsmax
James Hirsen gets all conspiratorial in his Jan. 28 Newsmax column:
When reports surfaced regarding Dinesh D’Souza’s inictment on charges of violating federal campaign finance laws, some serious questions were raised about the criminal investigation of the author and filmmaker.
Although the FBI and Justice Department did not explicitly reveal to which election the charges had referred, Federal Election Commission records indicated that the only political candidate to which D’Souza had ever donated was Wendy Long, a former New York senatorial candidate.
An intriguing question is why an individual with the educational background and intelligence of D’Souza would risk criminal prosecution to make a relatively small donation in a contest that involved tens of millions of dollars. After all, much larger sums of money are routinely given to campaigns through other legal vehicles including political action committees and nonprofit entities.
It may be because the violation was too blatant to ignore. Gawker examined the campaign contribution records of Wendy Long, the candidate D'Souza apparently donated to, and found that large donations well over the legal amount were made to Long's campaign on the same day in the names of D'Souza's personal assistant and (we are not making this up) the husband of D'Souza's mistress. Long’s campaign later reattributed half of the mistress’ husband’s donation to the mistress, then for some reason ultimately returned it to her. That refund is what appears to have triggered the routine FBI review that led to the charges.
But Hirsen is apparently not familiar with Occam's Razor, for he continues his conspiracy-mongering:
The discovery of D’Souza’s alleged wrongdoings are claimed to be the product of routine FBI investigations of campaign filings by various candidates. Questions remain, however, as to how investigators made the decision to look into D’Souza’s activities in the first place.
D'Souza’s prosecutor is an Indian-American Democrat, Preet Bharara, who formerly worked for New York Sen. Charles Schumer. Schumer’s close ties with the Obama administration helped to place Bharara in the powerful U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
Becuase D’Souza is best known for having produced the documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” which portrays President Barack Obama in a rather unflattering light, Gerald Molen, who was a co-producer on the project, expressed the suspisions of numerous Obama critics regarding the idictment, saying that it amounts to a “selective prosecution,” implicitly raising the spectre that the criminal charges may be a political retaliation against D’Souza.
Because the charges against D’Souza surfaced following the highly visible media reports surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of Tea Party groups, the timing of the indictment is somewhat curious.
Additional questions still linger as to why the administration is launching a public prosecution of a high-profile critic over a relatively minor amount of money that was given to an insignificant candidate in a no-win political race?
The existence of so many questions indicate a lack of curiosity on Hirsen's part. Or, as with his defense of Mel Gibson, he may be running interference for a friend.
In an August 2012 Newsmax column, Hirsen slobbered all over D'Souza's anti-Obama film "2016: Obama's America," praising its box office performance and quoting its producer, Gerald Molen. Hirsen also touted the film, as well as Molen's credentials as a producer of "Schindler's List," in an April 2012 article as well as a July 2012 article.
Hirsen was obviously clued in about the film early enough to do some pre-release publicity for it. That suggests an undisclosed relationship between him and Molen and/or D'Souza.
Hirsen waited years -- and admist continued bad behavior by the star -- to disclose his relationship to Newsmax readers. If he has such a relationship with Molen or D'Souza, the time to disclose it is now.
Newsmax Comes to Huckabee's Defense Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax is standing on the side of Mike Huckabee when it comes to his comments accusing Democrats of believing that "Uncle Sugar" must provide for women who "cannot control their libido."
A Jan. 24 article by Melanie Batley repeating Huckabee's claim that NBC’s Kasie Hunt and CNN’s Dana Bash distorted his meaning when they “erroneously tweeted” his remarks. But has Slate's Dave Weigel points out, both outlets corrected their original tweets, and all reporting since has been based on accurate quotes of what Huckabee said.
Batley also repeated a Fox News claim that Democrats were "trying to fundraise off of Mr. Huckabee's taken-out-of-context quotes." But she didn't report that Huckabee is fund-raising off his remarks too.
John Gizzi joined in with a Jan. 24 article touting how Republicans "rallied behind" Huckabee, complaining that "breathless reports in the media focused almost exclusively upon 54 words that dealt with the Democrats' claim that Republicans have been waging a 'war on women.'"
Then, in a Jan. 25 article, Todd Beamon claimed that Huckabee "again attacked the mainstream liberal media bias that led to inaccurate reporting of his remarks about government-funded contraception this week, saying he was 'offended by their misinterpretation.'" Again, the media has been accurately reporting his remarks. Weigel notes: "For Huckabee to be a victim here, the rest of the media would have had to rely on the botched quotes. Didn't happen."
Beamon also touted how Huckabee claimed White House press secretary Jay Carney "was reacting to a completely phony story" when Huckabee's remarks were read to him at a White House press briefing. In fact, as Weigel notes, the reporter who read Huckabee's quote to Carney got it right:
The next day, as this Twitter thread started by Matt Lewis demonstrates, conservatives were piling on reporters for refusing to admit that "the narrative" was false. It's a fascinating exercise in ref-working, an attempt to define Huckabee's gaffe as a media gaffe.
Newsmax's Hirsen Upset With Meryl Streep's Criticism of Walt Disney Topic: Newsmax
James Hirsen devotes his Jan. 21 Newsmax column to defending the honor of Walt Disney against Meryl Streep calling him a "gender bigot" who allegedly supported an anti-Semitic lobbying group:
Streep is no doubt aware that the charge of bigotry is a toxic accusation that can travel at warp speed across the entertainment industry. Interestingly, her timing happened to coincide with the period in which Academy members were in the process of deliberating over Oscar nominees.
Streep’s insinuations about the Disney founder are actually at odds with the facts. In Disney biographer Neal Gabler’s words, there is “no evidence whatsoever in the extensive Disney Archives of any anti-Semitic remarks or actions by Walt.”
Like most of Hollywood at the time, Disney did not reflect modern enlightenment regarding racial equality. Gabler nevertheless points out in his biography on the mogul that Disney had sought consultation at the time from NAACP official Walter White and other African-American leaders, in conjunction with the partly animated movie “Song of the South,” in order to remove racially offensive material.
In fact, according to Gabler, the NAACP's White never actually participated in script revisions. And the film remains plenty racially offensive, what with its depiction of "Uncle Remus and his fellow smilin’, Massah-servin’ black folk": Disney hasn't released it in more than 25 years and won't be doing so anytime soon.
Hirsen then huffs that Streep may have cost Tom Hanks an Oscar nomination:
Streep’s comments may have had an effect on the voting patterns of Academy members. “Saving Mr. Banks,” a film on many of the short lists of Oscar analysts, was snubbed for a best picture nomination, as was Thompson for best actress, and the snub of the century, Tom Hanks, who played the role of Disney.
Hanks, who according to Streep portrayed a bigoted misogynist, was also passed over for his starring role in “Captain Phillips.”
Newsmax Baselessly Declares D'Souza Indictment To Be 'Payback' Topic: Newsmax
Newsmax once promoted a film that Dinesh D'Souza hadn't even made yet, so it's logical that it would run to D'Souza's defense after his indictment on charges of violating election funding laws. Earlier this morning, Newsmax proclaimed the charges to be "payback":
Funny thing, though: The Reuters article to which that headline linked made no mention of "payback" or political retribution. Further, neither Newsmax nor anyone else has provided any evidence that D'Souza's indictment had anything to do with his detatched-from-reality attacks on Obama, which he made into a film (that Newsmax also promoted).
Newsmax Tries To Attack Roger Ailes Bio Topic: Newsmax
Just because Newsmax has been broadly covering the Chris Christie bridge scandal doesn't mean it has abandoned its conservative agenda. As with the Media Research Center, that agenda is all that's needed to attack Gabriel Sherman's new biography of Fox News' Roger Ailes.
A Jan. 15 Newsmax article by David Patten highlights how "liberal media critic" Michael Wolff has criticized Sherman's book. Patten notes that "Wolff is no friend of Ailes, Fox News or its parent company, News Corp. Wolff wrote his own controversial book attacking Fox's founder Rupert Murdoch." But he fails tomake the more likely connection that it's a competing book, not media analysis, that's making Wolff criticize Sherman's book.
Patten also makes this odd complaint about Sherman:
Sherman insisted fact-checkers carefully reviewed his work prior to publication and said that repeated requests to interview Ailes were declined.
But Sherman never bothered to contact Fox's press department to share his myriad number of allegations against Ailes for "fact checking" and Ailes rebuttal, a standard journalistic practice.
If Fox wouldn't make Ailes available to Sherman, why would they acknowledge his book by permitting him to fact-check it? Yet Patten identifies no fact in the book that anyone at Fox News has substantively contradicted.