Calling the Kettle Rather Black
It's NewsMax the censor vs. Dan Rather the 'censor.'
By Terry Krepel
NewsMax, reflecting its recently acquired tabloid sensibilities, has gone all out on the Chandra Levy-Gary Condit story, running every salacious tidbit it could. And when that story crossed paths with another favorite target, CBS anchor Dan Rather, it must have been like Elian all over again for them.
Rather has been taking an above-the-fray attitude by providing almost no coverage of the Levy-Condit case on the "CBS Evening News." This, of course, set off the boys at NewsMax.
"This is such a clear-cut case of bias and censorship, I believe the network should take swift action and relieve Mr. Rather of his duties immediately," wrote NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy in an open letter to CBS CEO Mel Karmazin. "As you know, a news organization's most important currency is its credibility. Mr. Rather has a track record of bias that has taxed the network's credibility to the limit ..."
And when Rather finally did report on the story for the first time July 18, Ruddy crowed that it was "because NewsMax was on sentry duty and caught the liberally biased anchor red-handed in one of the worst examples of political censorship in modern times."
Let's review where NewsMax stands on the issues of censorship and credibility.
Ruddy has yet to apologize for or retract an incorrect December 2000 story he wrote -- based on anonymous tabloid sources -- that the Clintons were selling their Chappaqua, N.Y., house. NewsMax has a history of covering only negative stories about Democrats and only positive stories about Republicans. It tampers with outside-sourced stories to add a pro-conservative, anti-liberal slant. More recently, Ruddy and NewsMax have been protecting their fellow conservatives by downplaying or ignoring completely accusations by the group Judicial Watch against Republicans, though it reports Judicial Watch allegations against Democrats in such a timely manner that it has run the groups's press releases nearly verbatim as news stories.
And while NewsMax was celebrating what Ruddy called "a huge victory ... over the arrogance and elitism of Dan Rather" and trumpeting a opt-in poll with absolutely no bearing on reality that claims 98 percent of respondents want Rather fired, Judicial Watch filed suit against Vice President Dick Cheney to find out who was on his energy task force. NewsMax has not run a single word about it. Competitor CNS already has, so it can't be dismissed as not being newsworthy.
According to Ruddy, "if CBS is to maintain some semblance of credibility, you will need to take swift action to end Mr. Rather's censorship program and find a replacement."
Ruddy's own NewsMax does not meet the standards of censorship and credibility that he insists others follow. If Rather goes, it's only fair that Ruddy should get out of the news business as well.