Would You Like A Barbara Olson Book With That?
The ConWeb slips back into business as usual -- selling and spinning.
By Terry Krepel
The initial headiness of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has now subsided, and the ConWeb has settled into covering the crisis in their usual mode of operation -- spinning the thing to make President Bush look good and profiting where they can.
There have been a few surprises, though. The biggest one is Cybercast (nee Conservative) News Service, which has provided the most well-rounded original coverage of the ConWeb on the events and fallout of Sept. 11. Brent Bozell's baby has managed to come up with a few angles not seen elsewhere, such as a Sept. 17 story that is a good bipartisan list of who's blaming whom for what happened. Even CNS' commentary section has been mostly free of overt vengence and Clinton-bashing.
CNS does have a certain constituency whom it appeals, though, and the flipside is that it has been a little soft 'n' fuzzy toward Bush, especially immediately after Sept. 11. The headline on a Sept. 13 story, for example, read "Bush: 'Loving Guy' With A Tough Job To Do"; a Sept. 15 headline read, "Bush Praised as 'Comforter in Chief'" (despite the fact that NewsMax's Christopher Ruddy was offended when NBC's Andrea Mitchell called him that).
Barbara Olson tie-in alert: CNS has been doing its part to help deify Barbara Olson, who died in the crash of the plane into the Pentagon. Through a story and a page linked through an icon on its front page, CNS has plugged a memorial scholarship fund created in Olson's name.
WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, has been covering the crisis in its own way. Having gotten most of its Clinton-bashing out of the way early, WND's original coverage has focused mainly on Muslims and the Afghanistan region. They haven't forgotten about trying to make a little money; there are daily plugs for the upcoming issue of WND's Whistleblower magazine, the topic of which will be, as its daily link reads, "JIHAD: The radical Islamic threat to America." (And if that wasn't enough to entice you to subscribe to the thing, Joseph Farah, WND editor and CEO, promises that "December's issue will be one of the most inspiring editions of any publication you've ever read.")
They did find time to try and turn a molehill into a mountain, though: WND pulled two whole stories out of an editorial cartoon in the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee (former competitor to the Sacramento Union, a paper once owned by Richard Mellon Scaife of which Farah served as editor before being shut down) that merged images of the terrorist attacks with the infamous Vietnam War photo of a naked girl fleeing an area that was bombed and napalmed. Jon Dougherty, who wrote both stories, claimed the cartoon "deeply offended readers all across the country," though his stories demonstrate the outrage was pretty much limited to a Sacramento radio talk show host and some of his callers.
WND has pretty much stayed away from bashing others' views on the attack, a smart decision considering the negative attention it has gotten from the Wall Street Journal for running Anthony LoBaido's strange column. Farah responded in a Sept. 26 column; while admitting the column was "tasteless and ill-advised," he defended LoBaido's right to say it. And he had a few choice words for the Journal's James Taranto, who has led the criticism: "Indeed, some, in the post-Sept. 11 climate might consider him a purveyor of obscenity for his newspaper's official, party-line, somewhat extreme position in favor of open borders."
Speaking of LoBaido, WND came up with another entry in the whacked-out-terrorist-commentary sweepstakes: A Sept. 27 column by Paul Sperry suggesting that the Muslim religious ban on eating pork be used against the terrorists by such acts as "dropping leaflets over Kabul ... warning residents, in their native Persian tongue, that we've enlisted Afghani moles to contaminate their water supplies with pig's blood" and "force-feed Taliban clerics pork rinds until they give up (bin Laden's) location." It ought to be a joke, and maybe it's supposed to be, but it's not written that way. Would a humorous column feel the need to stick a note at the end stating that "letters threatening physical harm to WorldNetDaily.com staffers will be forwarded to FBI Deputy Director Tom Pickard, who is heading the PENTTBOM investigation at the Special Information and Operation Center in Washington"?
Barbara Olson tie-in alert: WND has regularly featured links to buy Barbara Olson's previous Clinton-bashing book from its online store.
And then (sigh) there's NewsMax.
The boys gave up overt dissent-squashing with their flip-flop on Bill Maher, but they manage to distort Walter Cronkite's comments on Jerry Falwell's liberal-bashing remarks. According to a Sept. 29 story, Cronkie stated that "it makes you wonder if [Falwell and his host Pat Robertson are] worshipping the same God as the people who bombed the Trade Center and the Pentagon."
"Nowadays remarks like that could get you busted on hate crime charges, but it appears that the 'most trusted man in America' is immune to that sort of thing," NewsMax retorts, adding for good measure (if for no good reason) that "Cronkite has long advocated the dissolution of the U.S. government and the creation of a one world government."
Al Gore still can't get a fair shake from NewsMax, even after praising Bush. A four-paragraph story Sept. 30 devotes one paragraph to Gore's statement in a speech that "George W. Bush is my commander in chief" and the other three to what he didn't say. (Gore's speech, in Iowa, had been scheduled pre-Sept. 11 as a political event.)
Of course, there's always room to bash a Clinton at NewsMax, and the latest victim is Chelsea, on whom NewsMax cranks up the Snide-O-Meter after learning she plans to write a magazine article about being near the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks there. Or more specificially, NewsMax whines in a Sept. 26 article, "that and the six Secret Service agents still assigned to protect her."
"While it's unclear whether her bodyguards will rate a mention in the piece she's been invited to pen for the November issue of Talk magazine, you can bet her screed will be a real page-turner," the article grumbles. There are good reasons why Chelsea still has bodyguards -- remember John Derbyshire? -- yet poor NewsMax doesn't recognize its hateful remarks are part of the problem.
Barbara Olson tie-in alert: NewsMax readers were no doubt heartened to learn, through many glowing quotes in a Sept. 26 article, that Barbara Olson's latest book, "which details the last desperate weeks of the Clinton administration," will indeed be published after all. Needless to say, you can preorder it at the NewsMax store.