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Monday, August 25, 2014
Newsmax-Bernard Kerik Rehabilitation Watch
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax has been working for years to rehabilitate the reputation of Bernard Kerik before, during and after his three-year jail term for corruption. And it appears it won't be stopping soon.

The latest step is Newsmax giving Kerik a lengthy Aug. 24 column in which he opines on "What the Deaths of Michael Brown and James Foley Can Teach Us." Kerik defends the militarization of police forces, though he concedes that the Ferguson, Missouri, police overreacted to initial protests of Brown's death.

The vast majority of Kerik's column is defending militarization of police; despite the headline, he doesn't get to Foley until the last few paragraphs and he doesn't say what his death can teach us, only that "there is a lot for us to learn from what happened to James Foley."

The byline of Kerik's article, in addition to misspelling his first name, identifies him as "Police Commissioner – City of New York (Retired)." That's quite an appeal to authority there, especially given that Kerik was commissioner for only 16 months.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:03 PM EDT
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Newsmax Still Portraying Admitted Criminal D'Souza As Victim Of A Conspiracy
Topic: Newsmax

An unbylined Aug. 17 Newsmax article pushes the conspiracy that "When they can't beat Republicans at the polls, they try to indict them in criminal court." The star of the article is Rick Perry, of course, but a supporting character is another familiar conservative:

Filmmaker and author Dinesh D'Souza was forced to plead guilty in May to illegally funneling approximately $20,000 through third parties to help a friend running for U.S. Senate in New York.

His plea agreement calls on him not to challenge a prison sentence of 10 to 16 months.

D'Souza has been a frequent critic of Obama, releasing two documentary films on him. The first, "2016: Obama's America," was released in 2012. His film "America: Imagine the World Without Her," was released this summer.

Criminal experts have said that considering the small amount of money involved, the federal government would typically not even investigate the matter.

"This is clearly a case of selective prosecution for one of the most common things done during elections, which is to get people to raise money for you," famed law professor Dershowitz said at the time of the D'Souza indictment.

"If they went after everyone who did this, there would be no room in jails for murderers."

Slate's David Weigel has a response to Dershowitz that Newsmax ignored:

D'Souza, who's been a laughingstock for longer than he's been a rising star, made a huge mistake and turned it into an opportunity to rally conservatives and make accusations about the Obama administration. After all, just because he's pled guilty doesn't disprove the Dershowitz theory that, while a crime, D'Souza's offense might not have attracted the feds had he not been infamous.

Newsmax has served as a home for D'Souza to spin his right-wing conspiracies, and Newsmax columnists are eager to portray D'Souza as a victim despite his obvious guilt.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:02 PM EDT
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Newsmax Pretends Ed Klein Is Credible
Topic: Newsmax

Back in 2005, Newsmax enthusiatstically embraced Ed Klein's anonymously sourced hatchet job on Hillary Clinton. Klein has a new book out -- similarly dubiously and anonymously sourced, this time about the supposed bad blood between the Obamas and the Clintons -- and Newsmax is credulously promoting that one too, treating every dubious claim he makes as a pearl of wisdom.

An Aug. 5 article by Bill Hoffmann describes a Newsmax TV appearance in which Klein claimed that "The Kennedy family is sharply divided on whether to support former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016." Hoffmann offered no indication Klein provided any kind of credible source to back up his claim.

Two days later, an article by Courtney Coren detailed another Newsmax TV appearance by Klein, this time claiming that "President Barack Obama's senior adviser has been meeting with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to encourage her to run against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at the president's request." Again, no evidence is provided that Klein supplies credible sources to back up the claim.

Neither Hoffmann nor Coren mention Klein's credibility-straining claims, which have earned his book the description of being anti-Clinton fan fiction.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:35 PM EDT
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Newsmax Whitewashes Kansas Economy To Save Brownback
Topic: Newsmax

John Gizzi devotes his Aug. 1 Newsmax column to putting the best face he can on the economy in Kansas in order to boost Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's flagging re-election prospects:

In one of the most improbable poll results to emerge from any state this year, a SurveyUSA poll two weeks ago showed Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback trailing Democratic opponent Paul Davis by a margin of 48 percent to 40 percent among likely voters statewide.

"Improbable" is the adjective most frequently used to characterize these results because it accurately reflects the idea that any Republican governor, especially a national conservative hero for his no-tax, small government agenda, could be trailing a Democrat in Kansas. In the last 76 years, the Sunflower State has elected only five Democratic governors.

So why is Brownback, a former two-term U.S. senator who captured the governorship in 2010 with 63 percent of the vote, in political hot water this year?

To pundits, Brownback is the underdog against state House Minority Leader Davis because the governor has pursued a decidedly conservative agenda. With Brownback in charge as the state faces a $300 million revenue shortfall, The Washington Post concluded "he may be paying a political price."

Brownback supporters say his agenda is working, but like the tax and spending cuts Ronald Reagan helped put into law in 1981, its positive results may not occur immediately.

[...]

With Republicans in firm control of both houses of the legislature, Brownback successfully guided to law major cuts in the state income tax rate (from 6.4 percent to 4.8 percent) with the eventual goal of abolishing the state income tax. While it is true that Kansas faces a major shortfall, it also has unemployment of only 4.9 percent — "the tenth lowest in the nation," Brownback proudly says — and has witnessed a growth in technical education.

Actually, the economy in Kansas under Brownback is in much worse shape that Gizzi will admit.

The Kansas City Star points out that the job growth rate in Kansas has been anemic, and that in fact the state has recently lost jobs, led by thousands of local and state government jobs that were cut:

Kansas has had one of the nation’s poorest rates of employment growth during Brownback’s time in office, including since the first tax cuts took effect in 2013.

The new Bureau of Labor Statistics report also reveals that Kansas — like eight other states — had fewer jobs at the end of June than it did seven months ago. This fact undermines the Brownback mantra that the state’s economy is gaining steam in 2014.

[...]

By the way, several other states also have trimmed local and state government employment, yet still surged ahead of Kansas in private sector jobs. For good measure, the number of government and private sector jobs have grown in states like Colorado, Oklahoma and Iowa.

Meanwhile, Forbes describes how Brownback bought into right-wing ideology that tax cuts pay for themselves, the folly of which is demonstrated by the state's current revenue shortfall:

The business boom predicted by tax cut advocates has not happened, and it certainly has not come remotely close to offsetting the static revenue loss from the legislated tax cuts.

One can argue whether cutting taxes is a good thing. One can argue about whether government is too big. One can even argue about whether low taxes increase business activity. But one cannot credibly argue that tax cuts increase revenue or even pay for themselves. They didn’t for Ronald Reagan. They don’t for Sam Brownback. They won’t for the next politician who tries—whether he (or she) is in Washington, D.C. or in some state capital.

Nevertheless, Gizzi concludes his column in full Brownback rah-rah mode: "If Sam Brownback, who has already made history of sorts with a bold and controversial agenda, next makes history by winning re-election, it will be one of the defining political moments of 2014."


Posted by Terry K. at 3:08 PM EDT
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Newsmax Lets D'Souza Declare Ukraine Jet Crash Is Obama's Fault
Topic: Newsmax

While Newsmax has endeavored to moderate its conservativism to gain greater appeal (it's trying to launch a TV network, after all), it's still providing a forum to extremists and their bizarre views.

Case in point, from a July 18 Newsmax article:

President Barack Obama is remaking the world according to his vision of a less influential America, and one result is chaos abroad that leads to disasters like the apparent shootdown this week of a passenger jet over war-torn Ukraine, conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza told Newsmax TV on Friday.

"This downing of the airplane is a small indication of what happens when American power is subtracted from the world," D'Souza told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

[...]

D'Souza said President Obama, in withdrawing from the international stage and conceding management of global affairs to others, is helping to make the movie's point.

"For the past 60 years, we have been living in the American era, in which nothing important can happen in South America, in the Middle East or in Asia without America having a big say-so, if not actually determining the outcome," said D'Souza. "People all over the world — from Somali pirates on the high seas to Iranian mullahs to Russian separatists — have always had to worry, 'If we do this, what will America do?' Except now, under Obama."

According to D'Souza, that suits the president.

"He has an ideology that is opposed to an active American presence in the world," he said.

Having D'Souza spout such nonsense without allowing an opposing view -- no evidence is offered that one was provided -- just makes Newsmax look like the outlet for those who think Fox News is too liberal.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:03 PM EDT
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Newsmax Buries Full Truth About IRS' Donor Disclosure
Topic: Newsmax

A June 27 Newsmax article by Todd Beamon touts how the IRS was ordered to pay $50,000 in damages to anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage for having "illegally exposed" the group's donor list. Beamon goes on to uncritically quote right-wing activist Tony Perkins claiming that the IRS "deliberately" released the information to a "gay activist."

But Perkins is lying. The investigation into the leak found that the IRS' release of NOM donor information was not deliberate. The release was the inadvertent mistake of a low-level employee, which even NOM chief Maggie Gallagher has conceded.

It's not until the 17th paragraph of his 19-paragraph article that Beamon gets around to mentioning the fact that the IRS release was inadvertent.

Still, Beamon tried to keep the nonexistent conspiracy going, highlighting that the head of the group to which NOM's information was leaked left "to work on President Barack Obama's re-election campaign as national co-chairman."


Posted by Terry K. at 8:16 PM EDT
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Clinton Derangement Syndrome, Newsmax Edition
Topic: Newsmax

Let's face it, Hillary. You've never excelled at anything except being an activist in college and standing by your man Bill.

You were a lousy senator from New York. You were a lousy secretary of state — and not just because of Benghazi.

You have no issue to run on, except that you're a woman. And the only thing you have going for you is that you're still married to Bill and everyone loves and adores him now that he is powerless.

Hillary, you don't even have the demeanor or the personality to be president. Did you see yourself in that Diane Sawyer interview?

Do you think anyone wants an in-your-face person like you to be president? Someone who acts arrogantly — "I'm Hillary Clinton and I want to do what I want to do and so I'm going to do it."

-- Michael Reagan, June 12 Newsmax column


Posted by Terry K. at 9:47 PM EDT
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Newsmax Gears Up To Boost GOP Florida Governor's Re-Election
Topic: Newsmax

Back in 2010, Newsmax got heavily involved in the Florida governor's race -- it tried to anoint Bill McCollum as the Republican nominee by trashing his primary opponent Rick Scott, but when Scott defeated him in the primary, Newsmax quickly flip-flopped, supported Scott despite its previous trashing of him, and helped him to victory (complete with $100,000 donation).

The Florida governor's race is coming around again, and Newsmax is firing up the campaign to help Scott win re-election.

A June 8 Newsmax article by Elliot Jager touted how "A campaign commercial by Republican Gov. Rick Scott asserting that former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist — a Republican turned independent turned Democrat — allowed college tuition to increase up to 15 percent every year has been determined to be 'mostly true' according to the Miami Herald."

Newsmax doesn't like Crist any more than it didn't used to like Scott. In the 2012 Republican presidential primary in Florida (where Newsmax is headquartered), Newsmax was a huge booster of Newt Gingrich, trying to portray chief rival Mitt Romney as having a "'Charlie Crist' problem."


Posted by Terry K. at 9:15 PM EDT
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Newsmax's New Scandal: Obama Chews Gum!
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax has apparently found the latest Obama scandal, as detailed in a June 6 article:

Social media users tore into Barack Obama on Friday after the US president was seen chewing gum during solemn ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

People took to Twitter to denounce Obama's "shameful" and "vulgar" chewing, with one user attacking him as a "lout."

Yep, the entire article is all about how random people on Twitter disapprove of Obama chewing gum. It's not until the very last paragraph that it's noted that Obama "has faced an on-off battle to quit smoking and often chews a nicotine-based gum to drive away the craving."

You'd think that piece of information would be more important. But it appears Obama-bashing was the agenda for this article.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:31 PM EDT
Friday, May 30, 2014
Newsmax TV Targets 'Disenfranchised Baby Boomers'?
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax made the big announcement in a May 29 article by Robert O'Leary:

Focused on serving an audience of more than 80 million disenfranchised baby boomers, Newsmax Media Inc.'s Newsmax TV has signed a distribution deal with DirecTV and is accelerating toward a national launch that expects to reach 40 percent of U.S. cable and satellite homes by the end of this year.

Newsmax TV also plans a major OTT platform rollout with penetration estimated in excess of 100 million iOS and Android smart devices.

Wait -- "disenfranchised baby boomers"?

Actually, Newsmax's audience is quite enfranchised -- according to Newsmax itself. Here's how the media kit for Newsmax magazine describes its demographics:

  • 72% are men
  • 93% are 55 and older
  • 30% have a portfolio valued at $500,000-2,000,000
  • 83% own a single family home
  • 17% are professionals or business owners
  • 57% are college graduates or higher
  • 45% have a total net worth of $500,000+

And here's the demographics for Newsmax.com, according to its media kit:

  • 51% of readers are male.
  • 58% of the Newsmax.com audience is 55 years of age or older.
  • 79% of readers have attended college.
  • 26% of readers are retired.
  • 61% of readers have a household income of $60,000+
  • 47% of readers have a household income of $75,000+
  • 20% more likely to have completed Graduate School and received a degree.
  • 45% more likely to have no children living in the household.
  • 48% more likely to own a Condominium.

Both media kits tout how "Newsmax Media reaches afflfluent and inflfluential readers," particularly "conservative voters, families with high household incomes, vacation travelers, or car buyers."

If that's being "disenfranchised," where can we sign up?


Posted by Terry K. at 5:14 PM EDT
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Newsmax Promotes 'Experts' Pushing Dubious Claim About Keystone Pipeline
Topic: Newsmax

Melanie Batley writes in a May 27 Newsmax article:

President Barack Obama's reluctance to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, despite widespread popular support for the project, is not only hindering America's energy independence but driving up the price of gas for American consumers.

According to a column in Forbes Magazine by Kathleen Hartnett White and Vance Ginn, experts at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, recent geopolitical instability and disruptions and bottlenecks in the supply of Brent crude oil from the North Sea have driven up costs for American refiners, leading to higher retail prices at the pump.

Batley doesn't mention that the Texas Public Policy Foundation is a right-wing think tank that pays its analysts to come up with opinions like that.

Batley also ignores that other experts hold other opinions on the Keystone pipeline's effect on oil prices. 

The Washington Post has noted that not even the company that wants to build the pipeline is claiming that it will lower gas prices. And another Forbes columnist suggests that the pipeline might actually raise gas prices.

But most experts agree that the Keystone pipeline will little to no effect on gas prices in the U.S., since it's unlikely that oil companies will pass on their pipeline-derived savings to consumers.


Posted by Terry K. at 4:22 PM EDT
Monday, May 26, 2014
Newsmax Promotes Dubious Anti-Global Warming Petition
Topic: Newsmax

Cheryl K. Chumley writes in a May 20 Newsmax article:

While the United Nations and the Obama administration assert that climate change is settled science and requires dramatic regulatory oversight, 31,072 U.S. scientists have signed the Petition Project, saying the issue remains decidedly unsettled.

"There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate," the petition says.

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

"The purpose of the Petition Project is to demonstrate that the claim of 'settled science' and an overwhelming 'consensus' in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climatological damage is wrong," the petition asserts. "No such consensus or settled science exists."

Over 9,000 of the petition's signatories have a Ph.D. in a scientific field.

We first wrote about this petition in 2008, when the number of signees was also at around 31,000. As we noted then, few of those signees have degrees in fields related to climate science. Further, there have been more than 10.6 million science graduates as defined by Robinson's group since the 1970-71 school year, making the 31,000 on the petition a tiny fraction of that -- 0.3 percent, to be exact -- small enough that one could call it "fringe."

The rest of Chumley's article consists of right-wing talking points by climate change "skeptics."


Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 PM EDT
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Newsmax Uncritically Reports Cruz's Factually Flawed Attacks on Obama
Topic: Newsmax

A May 7 Newsmax article by Cathy Burke touts how "Sen. Ted Cruz unveiled the fourth in his series of reports on what he has called the Obama administration's abuses of power – an issue that has dominated the freshman lawmaker's 16 months in Congress," noting that it "cited 76 instances of the administration's overstepping its constitutional authority, ranging from Obamacare to Benghazi." But Burke simply repeats Cruz's allegations and made no apparent attempt to delve into the veracity of the allegations.

By contrast, the Washington Post Dana Milbank reported that several of Cruz's claims are specious if not outright false:

Consider item No. 2 in the “Other Abuses of Power” section: “Backed release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.” This does sound bad — and strange, given that Obama had publicly said he was “angry” about the release, which was “a bad decision.”

The footnote on Cruz’s allegation points to an article in the Australian newspaper, a curious source. I looked up the article, which stated that “the U.S. wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.”

Cruz, in a preamble to his accusations, writes piously of “the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat.”

The evidence? The first item in the first category (“Governing By Executive Fiat”): ”Disregarded 1996 welfare reform law in granting broad work waivers for work requirements of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.”

Such waivers were at the heart of welfare reform, which I covered. Ron Haskins, who drafted the law, told The Post that waivers made the law possible by giving states freedom to experiment.

A few lines down, Cruz alleges that Obama “extended federal marriage benefits by recognizing, under federal law, same-sex marriages . . . even if the couple is living in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.”

Cruz’s footnote for this allegation is to a February news article, which notes that the administration’s “changes were set in motion last year when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to married same-sex couples.” So Obama is being “lawless” by obeying a Supreme Court ruling?

Cruz alleges that the administration “ordered Boeing to fire 1,000 employees in South Carolina and shut down a new factory because it was non-union.” In fact, Obama’s National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint — and any order would have been up to a judge, as the law requires. In the end, Boeing and the union struck a deal, and the complaint was dropped.

Cruz must have found some of his allegations too good to check — such as the charge that Obama “spent $205,075 in ‘stimulus’ funds to relocate a shrub that sells for $16.” Actually, the removal of the plant (which had been believed to be extinct in the wild) was part of a massive road project run by California, not the federal government. Like thousands of other projects, it got stimulus dollars — less than 10 percent of its total funding.

That's what a real journalist would do. What's Burke's excuse?


Posted by Terry K. at 1:58 PM EDT
Thursday, May 8, 2014
NEW ARTICLE: The Dick Morris Rehabilitation Project
Topic: Newsmax
After the right-wing pundit flamed out spectacularly with his chronically wrong predictions on Fox News, Morris continues to have a home at Newsmax, where he remains as wrong as ever. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 10:27 AM EDT
Monday, May 5, 2014
Newsmax Lets Dick Morris Make A Prediction
Topic: Newsmax

Newsmax's Dick Morris rehabilitation campaign continues apace by giving him an April 30 column in which he explains how Rick Perry can make a presidential run in 2016:

Acceptable to Latinos based on his Texas record. Draws strong Tea Party support without being defined by it. A Southerner, he is clearly ready to play on the national stage. A big state governor whose record on jobs has only gotten better. He can’t be dismissed.

Will his debate brainlock disqualify him? Not if he doesn’t repeat it. Clinton recovered from a disastrous 1988 Convention speech. He’s probably had enough time to recover from his dismissal of Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme" in his book.

But Rick Perry has to develop a truly national perspective to win. He can’t forever be repeating "in the state of Texas" before each line. He needs to know more about issues other than energy. In 2012, he showed the same lack of depth and laziness in issue preparation as Sarah Palin did in 2008, but he wasn’t caught as easily because he’s a man.

[...]

Republicans don’t like to take chances. They want their candidates to have served their apprenticeship as losers. The Republican voters are agoraphobic, fearful of new situations and people. It takes them a while to get used to new candidates and those who have run once and learned their lessons have great appeal. So keep your eye on Perry.

Given Morris' track record on predictions, we can probably assume that Perry now has no chance whatsoever to become president.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:23 PM EDT

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