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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 20: That '70s Insult

Newsmax is needlessly proud of calling a (male) congressman "Hanoi Jane."

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/11/2002

There's a scene in the godawful, "Mystery Science Theater 3000"-savaged movie "Zombie Nightmare" in which a group of teenagers get tossed out of a bar. (They then run down a guy in their car and spend the rest of the movie getting killed by the zombie the run-down guy is turned into.) As they're being forcibly removed, the bouncer tells them, "Don't come back 'til you're 21." To which one seriously poofy-haired male teen retorts, "I wouldn't come back to this hole if I was 41!"

That same level of insult creativity can also be found at NewsMax.

Take, for instance, its treatment of Washington Rep. Jim McDermott for visiting Iraq and being critical of President Bush's motives for wanting to immediately invade Iraq. After running a Sept. 30 story in which Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott compares McDermott to Jane Fonda's jaunt to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, "Carl Limbacher and NewsMax staff" decided they had a brainstorm -- and a clever insult.

Thus, on Oct. 4, a NewsMax headline refers to "'Hanoi Jane' McDermott." And stories on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 deliver the full-honorific coup de grace: "Rep. Jim 'Hanoi Jane' McDermott, D-Wash."

NewsMax is clearly proud of this. It appears on NewsMax more than the slightly-more-original "Baghdad Jim," which at least gets the guy's name more directly linked to the insult.

That the best NewsMax can do, folks -- take a moldy, 30-year-old insult of someone else so dated that it resonates with no one under the age of 50, keep said insultee's name attached to it, then graft it nonsensically onto its current target. And it had to rely on Trent Lott to think of the association in the first place. That's how creatively and journalistically bereft NewsMax is. (NewsMax conveniently links all the above-cited articles together to demonstrate this lack of imagination; the Oct. 8 article contains a link to the previous article and so on to the original Sept. 30 Lott comment.)

In other words, it's exactly what we've come to expect. It can't but help to impress NewsMax's would-be investors. (See? Now that's an insult!)

My diagnosis: We could come up with other "Zombie Nightmare" analogies, like how the alleged star power of that movie's Adam West and Tia Carerre (and, of course, Jon-Mikl Thor) stacks up to NewsMax's lineup of obedient Clinton-bashers, but the embarassment of pushing such a lame insult in the first place ought to be enough for NewsMax.

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