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Actually, They DO Dare Call It Treason

NewsMax barely tolerated criticism of George W. Bush before Sept. 11. Now, it's downright hostile to the idea.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/14/2001
Updated 9/15/2001

Benedict Arnold. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Maureen Dowd?

The ConWeb, and NewsMax in particular, have treated George W. Bush with kid gloves even as they carped about the "liberal media" doing the kind of alleged criticism the ConWeb reserves only for Democrats. Now, the ConWeb is using Tuesday's terrorist attacks (having already pinned it on Bill Clinton) as an excuse to attempt to bludgeon anything that remotely looks like criticism of Bush into submission, denouncing it as everything up to and including treason.

What really set them off (on Thursday, anyway) was an editorial in the New York Times that dared to note, among other things, that "Mr. Bush's conduct was compared unfavorably with that of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, who went to the scene of the attacks in Lower Manhattan." NewsMax led the charge in a Thursday story:

How depraved can the liberal media be? How despicable? How utterly anti-American?

The New York Times, the flagship of the liberal elites, the group that helped lead us to this mess, the same cabal that had only nice things to say about Bill Clinton, opened up a ferocious broadside against President Bush today -- in the middle of one of the worst crises ever to hit our country.

NewsMax's Dan Frisa, meanwhile, is the one who uses the T-word: "The despicable traitors have made it their mission to undercut the authority of President Bush during America’s darkest hour, proving themselves even more cowardly than the terrorist murderers who are the only beneficiaries of such contemptible conduct."

That's only the beginning of NewsMax's list. As Frisa notes, using that T-word again: "This same treasonous song is, of course, being sung by other leftist media egotists such as Canadian Peter Jennings, democrat Dan Rather, society boy Tom Brokaw, sniveling Howard Fineman of Newsweek, pedantic Brian Williams of MSNBC and too-cute by half Katie Couric, among dozens of others." A Thursday NewsMax article by Wes Vernon, in addition to taking pains to point out that Peter Jennings is "a Canadian," also name-checks Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory.

Another NewsMax article goes after columnist Maureen Dowd: "She and her like seem to think it's more important that they - and terrorists - know where the president is at all times. ... Maureen, take a Valium. Or two, or three, or 50." Being urged to commit suicide is, to say the least, a bit of a comedown for Dowd, whom NewsMax thought well enough of her a couple years back to repeat an allegation that Hillary Clinton once called her a "short Irish bitch."

NewsMax columnist Phil Brennan runs down the usual suspects:

While Washington scurries about looking for appropriate targets for retaliation against America's enemies, I have a few suggestions for Mr. Bush about who he ought to put in the nation's cross hairs: Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Andrea Mitchell, the New York Times, Mary McGrory, The Washington Post and all the other Benedict Arnolds* in the anti-American media rat pack mindlessly attacking President Bush.

The asterisk after Arnold keys the reader to a footnote that reads: "I ought to apologize to the memory of Benedict Arnold for lumping him in with this disloyal media scum - he was a genuine American hero before his betrayal - something that can't be said about the president's media critics, the majority of whom never wore a uniform."

In a Friday article, the Los Angeles Times' Howard Rosenberg is called "a spoiled-rotten brat who needs a trip to the woodshed," while Newsday's Ellis Henican is dismissed as a "Clinton idolator" by the Bush idolators at NewsMax, followed by Henican's e-mail address and a call to action: "Why not urge him to close that big, spiteful mouth?"

Even a poll that shows 80 percent approval of Bush's handling of the current crisis while 8 percent disapprove doesn't escape NewsMax's attitude of intolerance: "You have to wonder about that sniveling 8 percent, who are making themselves look increasingly ridiculous. They can't all be working for the TV networks and big newspapers."

Clearly, NewsMax is not in the mood for dissent from the Bush party line. Then again, they weren't in the mood for it before Tuesday, either.

Among all the high-octane media-bashing, though, Vernon gets credit for actually saying something insightful. In criticizing ABC News for "cheap-shot politics," he states: "Anonymous sources conveying valuable information are a staple of good journalism. Anonymous sources firing cheap political shots, especially in a time of crisis, are usually regarded with a healthy dose of skepticism." Quick, somebody send this to his boss, Christopher Ruddy, who just the day before used anonymous sources in a cheap-shot attempt to hang the terrorist attacks around Bill and Hillary Clinton's neck.

Given the sheer volume of venom spewed toward the Clintons by them over its existence, NewsMax's demand for respect of Bush rings hollow. NewsMax had no qualms about trying to undercut Clinton's authority. They would be doing the exact same thing they're doing now -- nonstop bashing of anyone who doesn't agree with them -- if these terrorist attacks had occured under Clinton. NewsMax would never be caught urging Americans to rally around Clinton under any circumstances, even this current one.

Over at WorldNetDaily, Gordon Prather used his Saturday column to complain about the New York Times and "blabbermouths like ABC's Dan Rather (sic)" for "criticizing our president for not offering up himself as yet another sacrificial lamb" by going into semi-hiding immediately after the attacks. But WorldNetDaily also permitted a rare dissent from the party line with Rip Rense's column tearing apart Jerry Falwell for blaming homosexuals, pro-choicers and the ACLU for Tuesday's attacks.

Meanwhile, the Media Research Center is taking a temporary hiatus from its grim task of uncovering "liberal bias." Yes, Brent Bozell and his minions demonstrate a modicum of restraint Ruddy seems incapable of.

A note on the MRC web site posted Wednesday in the usual CyberAlert space states that "Given the tragic events, involving the deaths of thousands and still ongoing rescue efforts, we do not think it appropriate to immediately highlight any political bias when the overwhelming bulk of network coverage, with notable exceptions, is without any political tinge."

And not only that: Bozell actually has something nice to say about the media.

"Our news media answered the call with professionalism and patriotism. Let us cheer the important and inspiring work done by our nation’s journalists," Bozell wrote in a Friday column. "On television, the anchors earned their name by staying calm and weighty when hysteria came naturally."

That old bias of his does slip through, however, as he spends nearly the better part of a paragraph dripping praise on a journalist for a certain news channel beloved by folks like Bozell: "I was amazed as I watched Fox's Brit Hume quietly, soberly, but with the necessary urgency, relay that D.C. police were warning him there was another airplane roaring up the Potomac River at a high rate of speed. ... right across the street from Mr. Hume’s broadcast booth." The only other journalist to be mentioned by name is NBC's Brian Williams, and it's only to repeat a fairly neutral comment he had made; the press release version of Bozell's column keeps the Hume praise but drops Williams completely. And, needless to say, there's no mention at all of Bozell's favorite whipping boys, Dan Rather and Bryant Gumbel (whose recent divorce MRC gloated over a few weeks back). You know, if-you-can't-say-anything-nice and all that.

MRC's hiatus doesn't mean they weren't in the mood to stick it to Rather one last time. In the semi-retirement announcement, MRC's Brent Baker repeats a "Ratherism" culled from CBS' round-the-clock coverage, "I’d rather be dragged behind a horse than be inaccurate." To which Baker feels compelled to add: "Rather must have a lot of bruises."

Apparently, at the MRC sniping at Dan Rather is always appropriate.

Bothered by NewsMax's behavior? Send an e-mail.

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