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The NewsMax Enquirer

As reporting on the Clintons proves to be profitable, the ties grow deeper between two leading purveyors of questionable journalism.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/12/2001

Much has been made of media "convergence" -- a melding of print, video and Internet products. NewsMax, however, is practicing a new kind of convergence: political scandal-mongering and supermarket tabloid.

NewsMax's newly cultivated ties with the tabloid industry -- like NewsMax, based in Florida -- has been reflected in the stories it runs of late. In the past few weeks alone, NewsMax has reprinted rumors from the National Enquirer of affairs between Bill Clinton and pardon controversy figures Denise Rich and Beth Dozoretz, ran another Enquirer story on alleged pardon payoffs and critiqued Hillary Clinton's response to a story in the Globe tabloid that she was getting a divorce.

The tabloids NewsMax now quote so fawningly are the same ones that NewsMax trashed some months back as being controlled by Democrats that write "smear stories" about Republicans "that bounce up to the networks." For example, the Globe, source of the Clinton divorce story, reported in October about George W. Bush's hard-drinking National Guard days -- a story NewsMax ignored. But since both the tabloids and NewsMax have the same goal -- making money off the Clintons -- NewsMax suddenly has a different attitude.

That attitude shift began at the top, with a Dec. 19 article written by Christopher Ruddy, NewsMax's editor and CEO, which claimed that the Clintons were selling their Chappaqua, N.Y., house because their neighbors have put the home under 24-hour video surveillance on the off-chance of being able to sell something to the tabloids. Ruddy listed anonymous sources "at some of America's most notorious supermarket tabloids" as the basis of his information. (Interestingly, this didn't keep NewsMax from reporting on March 3 that Bill Clinton has set up a "music room" in the Chappaqua house as a place to play his saxophone -- not exactly the behavior of someone planning to sell a house.) A defense of tabloid reporting on the alleged affair between Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers back in 1992 followed soon after.

Now, we have the next step of NewsMax-tabloid convergence. (Thanks to BuzzFlash for noticing this first.) The Enquirer is currently reporting on the antics of "President Bush's wild daughter Jenna at a booze-swilling college fraternity bash." Before the apperance of the Enquirer article, NewsMax had equivocated the young Bush's behavior by comparing it to that of Chelsea Clinton and Al Gore's children.

At the bottom of the Enquirer's online teaser to the article is the line "Let the Bush family know what you think," followed by a link to NewsMax's "PriorityGram" service, where for $5.25 they will send your message to the politician or celebrity of your choice via first-class mail because mailed messages are "much more effective than an e-mail or a phone call!"

The Enquirer is certainly not providing the NewsMax link out of civic duty. Consider it a quid pro quo, paid or otherwise, for NewsMax's boosting of Enquirer stories.

Back in his December article, NewsMax's Ruddy quotes one "tabloid insider" as saying, "Hillary is our new Lady Di." NewsMax, like the tabs, knows the money-making implications of this, then proves it by hiring out the tabs as its Clinton-scandal bureau. The "smear stories" NewsMax once condemned are now "bouncing up" to NewsMax.

Strangely, NewsMax all but admits this in a backhanded way. On March 11, it quotes "Clinton spinmeister James Carville" as saying that coverage of Bill Clinton is crack cocaine for the cable news networks and others.

How true. NewsMax is addicted, it has a new drug buddy in the supermarket tabloids, and it's moved on to freebasing.

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