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Update: Return of the Crotch-Sniffers

The MRC is fascinated by a former Clinton aide's sex life. Plus: NewsMax not only runs wildly inaccurate polls, it has cobbled together an infomercial.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/19/2001

It's heartening to see that the war on terrorism is going well enough that the ConWeb can concern themselves again with the sex lives of people they don't like.

The Media Research Center uses part of its Nov. 13 CyberAlert to pass along an item from the New York Post's "Page Six" gossip column in which former Clinton administration official George Stephanopoulos' bride wife-to-be, Alexandra Wentworth, claims that had she not met him, she "would have become either a slut or a lesbian."

To which Brent Baker, who writes the CyberAlert, adds his two cents: "Might Bill Clinton, Stephanopoulos’s old boss, be jealous? Did he ever convert a woman from lesbianism?"

Baker has something of an obsession about Clinton's sex life, commenting on it frequently and adding his own lame, snide comments. Given the fact that the comments haven't stopped even though Clinton has been out of office for nearly a year at this point, one has to wonder if Baker is as jealous of the action Clinton has purportedly been getting as he accuses the man himself of being toward Stephanopoulos. (Clinton's not the only victim of MRC sniggering; back in August, Baker gloated over the divorce of frequent MRC target Bryant Gumbel, which included allegations of infidelity.)

Besides Baker's proclivity factor, there are a couple other issues this little item raises:

  • How does this qualify as "media research," even the MRC's warped definition of it?
  • How does an item like this fulfill the nonprofit "educational" mission as stated at the bottom of each CyberAlert?
  • If Baker likes liberal sluttiness so much, as his behavior would certainly indicate, why is there no mention anywhere at the MRC of the apology that conservative darling Rupert Murdoch, owner of the New York Post, had to make to CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour after Post columnist Andrea Peyser called her a "war slut"?
  • Isn't this kind of sexual content the same thing Baker's boss, Brent Bozell, rails against (as he does in this Nov. 15 column) when it happens on TV? It looks like Bozell's own employees need to get the Parents Television Council treatment. That would mean Bozell would have to send letters to himself demanding he stop sponsoring such sexual content or else he will have to boycott himself.

Or something like that.

* * *

NewsMax needs to find themselves some new pollsters.

The boys' favorite candidate in the New Jersey governor's race, Republican Bret Schundler, had been getting stomped regularly in the polls by his opponent, Democrat Jim McGreevey. So it was with great glee that it reported on Nov. 5, the day before the election, that Schundler was "rapidly closing the gap" because a Quinnipac College poll showed him trailing McGreevey "by just nine points."

It turned out the previously reported stomping was correct. Schundler lost by 14 points.

It wasn't the first time NewsMax shoved aside the facts in favor of pushing anomalous polls to confuse and deceive its readers. During the 2000 election, it was especially fond of a tracking poll run by the New York Post and the Fox TV affiliate in New York (two Rupert Murdoch properties -- no bias there!) that had Rick Lazio ahead of Hillary Clinton in their race for a U.S. Senate seat. Lazio, of course, took a double-digit loss.

And then there was the time NewsMax reported the results of a not-based-on-reality opt-in poll at the Fox News website as an accurate gauge of public opinion.

Most folks with a track record that bad would get out of the poll-reporting business.

* * *

Look out -- NewsMax is coming to a TV near you.

Nov. 3 saw the debut of something called " Reports." Hosted by NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy and columnist Barry Farber, the show is "the start of a new effort to reach millions of Americans with news and information the major media won't report," Ruddy is quoted as saying in a Nov. 5 story.

The program aired on CNBC -- "which reaches 80 million homes," NewsMax proudly adds. Plans are for the program to air on national TV at least once a month, with increased frequency in the months ahead.

If you somehow missed this program, don't feel bad -- it aired at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, competing against much more entertaining fare such as "Digimon."

It's also a time when CNBC does not run regular programming. A hefty chunk of CNBC's Saturday schedule, in fact, is devoted to paid programming.

That's right -- " Reports" is nothing more than an infomercial. NewsMax paid to air the thing on CNBC. And they want money to air more of it.

To that end, NewsMax has created something called the "Off-The Record Club." By joining, "you will help NewsMax to buy national TV air time to expand our reach," states the come-on pitch, the only place there it's explicitly stated that NewsMax has to buy time to get its stuff on the air.

For $25 a month, members get a monthly "special audio tape briefing from a top expert, insider or VIP – giving you an insider's perspective you won't get from the major media."

There's an interesting caveat on those "special" taped briefings, though: "Please remember, as a member of the 'Off-the-Record' Club, you agree not to reprint or republish the material you hear on the tapes. This is the program's ground rules, and allows experts and VIPs to speak more freely and reveal more information than they would otherwise."

So, you shell out $25 a month, and you can't tell anyone about what you learn from the tapes NewsMax sends you. And you have to give up Saturday morning children's shows to watch the program you're funding, too. That might prove to be a difficult choice for some NewsMax readers. It's either that or buying one of those copper magnetic bracelets that are supposed to ease arthritis pain -- which NewsMax will gladly sell you as well.

We'd ask why an allegedly news-based organization is selling such items (not to mention passing information along to its readers, then demanding they keep it a secret), but we remembered that the key word there is "allegedly."

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