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What is the deal with NewsMax?

Terry, this is Dan - I am a Freeper who wrote you a while back.

I am wondering what your beef is with Newsmax - as they have never claimed to be unbiased. I read their page because I know it is a right wing newsfeed, and they have never claimed not to be.I try to read the left pages as well, to get the other side. I'd rather know where my sources are coming from, than have them pass themselves off as neutral, as ABC/NBC/CBS does.

Thanks for reading,


Terry Krepel responds:


Thanks for writing.

I focus on NewsMax for a couple of reasons. One, it does claim to be more than a right-wing news site. One of its e-mail newsletters referred to itself as "America's most trusted news source," or words to that effect. I've also found a NewsMax press release in which it claims it is "one of America’s leading sources of balanced news coverage." None of the self-generated press I've seen from NewsMax calls itself what it is: a right-wing news source.

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Second, NewsMax uses Christopher Ruddy's reputation as a journalist to legitimize itself as a source of journalism, despite the fact that Ruddy himself has done very little actual reporting lately and there is very little NewsMax-generated journalism on the site. Most of NewsMax's original content is gossipy items that originated elsewhere and opinion pieces.

Given this, I think it's entirely appropriate to critique NewsMax from a journalistic standpoint, since NewsMax clearly wants to be taken seriously as a news source. Any other news organization would (or should) be laughed out of business if it did things like post unedited press releases as stories, as NewsMax has done with Judicial Watch, or write a story using anonymous sources from supermarket tabloids, as Ruddy did with his Clintons-are-selling-their-Chappaqua-house story last December (which has also turned out to be untrue).

Plus, there's also the principle of the thing: If a news organization is going to complain about the "liberal bias" of other news organizations, as NewsMax does with regularity, it should have something more to offer than conservative bias. Journalistic standards should be uniform for everyone who calls himself or herself a journalist. If it's bad for, say, Dan Rather to have a liberal bias, it's equally bad for Christopher Ruddy to have a conservative bias.

NewsMax presents itself as a news organization, yet as you pointed out, it behaves more like a political organization. If you believe that news should be presented fairly and without bias, that's wrong. The question of whether news organizations should just admit their political biases and act accordingly is another matter, since nobody's willing to do so right now (witness Roger Ailes' constant battle to keep Fox News Channel from being branded as "conservative").

I'm just holding NewsMax to the standards it holds to other news organizations. To use a hoary old cliche, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Keep reading...

Terry Krepel

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Posted 9/16/2001

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