The Stenographer Takes A Holiday
NewsMax, which rarely lets a Judicial Watch legal action pass unpublicized, is unusually quiet about the group's lawsuit against Republicans.
By Terry Krepel
NewsMax and Judicial Watch have a pretty close relationship. NewsMax's coverage of the group has been fawning to the point of running Judicial Watch press releases virtually unedited under a NewsMax byline, as ConWebWatch has documented. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find any negative coverage of Larry Klayman and Co. on NewsMax.
Which is why it's strange to see NewsMax more or less ignore a lawsuit Judicial Watch has filed against Texas congressman Tom DeLay and the National Republican Congressional Committee for allegedly selling meetings with Bush administration officials in exchange for politicial donations.
Every Judicial Watch legal action usually rates their own NewsMax story. At this writing, the only mention of the DeLay case is buried at the bottom of an article about a different Judicial Watch legal action. The article, an April 11 piece about the group launching an investigation into the deal that freed the crew of a U.S. spy plane detained in China, follows the typical pattern of being based on a Judicial Watch press release. It's not a word-for-word crib, but the structure is exactly the same.
The final paragraph, however, is not in the press release, which suggests the piece may have actually earned the NewsMax byline it carries. It reads: "Though Judicial Watch is best known for its investigations into the rampant corruption of the Clinton administration, and liberal news media such as MSNBC and the Washington Post refer to it as a conservative organization, it describes itself as nonpartisan. It has proven this point recently by filing an ethics complaint against Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, the Republican House whip, alleging that he tried to raise political donations by promising meetings with Bush administration officials."
That's the full extent of coverage about this case on NewsMax.
Note NewsMax's glossing over of Judicial Watch's conservative heritage, which is refuted by Judicial Watch's own press releases. A Jan. 4 Judicial Watch press release refers to itself as a "nonpartisan conservative public interest law firm." On Jan. 25, it asked supporters for "immediate emergency support" -- read: money -- "to help prevent conservatives ... from being destroyed by the smear campaign of ultra-leftist revolutionaries" during the confirmation process of President George W. Bush's Cabinet nominees. ("Ultra-left" is a favorite term of Judicial Watch.) And in a Nov. 11, 2000, press release announcing its intent to involve itself in Florida election lawsuits, Judicial Watch proudly declares itself "a conservative organization" and further quotes Klayman describing Judicial Watch as "the leading [conservative] public interest group in the area of government corruption" (the bracketed "conservative" is in the original release).
And, while there have been dozens of lawsuits filed against the Clinton administration, the only other Republican besides DeLay Judicial Watch has sued is New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and even in the press release announcing that action it calls itself "a conservative public-interest group." (NewsMax did run a full story on that -- rather, they duplicated Judicial Watch's press release -- but then again, Giuliani is not what most would call a conservative Republican.)
Why is NewsMax trying to ignore this story? Most likely because it involves a strongly conservative organization and a strongly conservative congressman who almost always rate positive coverage in NewsMax, and NewsMax likely doesn't want to offend either of them.
Plus, the dispute promises to get messy. The Washington newspaper The Hill reports that there is a mailing list dispute between Judicial Watch and the National Republican Congressional Committee and that Judicial Watch may owe the committee as much as $20,000. Klayman denies the allegation.
It looks like NewsMax is creating a corollary to Ronald Reagan's legendary "11th Commandment" about not speaking ill of fellow Republicans: When two Republicans are fighting, keep it hush-hush.