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Lotts More Attacks

NewsMax thinks it's the left who's going after the presumed new GOP leader. Turns out it's WorldNetDaily (and NewsMax and Plus, there's a new distraction.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/23/2002
Updated 12/24/2002

One of the many things we can count on from NewsMax is incredibly uninformative reporting when offering something informative would not serve its biased interests.

The aftermath of the Trent Lott unpleasantness has put some of those skills on display. A Dec. 20 story, which declares that "The left is already flinging mud at Sen. Trent Lott's probable successors," seems to be based solely on what Carl Limbacher vaguely recalls from watching Fox News.

"Crying unsubstantiated allegations of a supposed conspiracy to suppress the black vote, Democrat activists are releasing 'files' on and have launched smear campaigns against Sens. Bill Frist, Rick Santorum, Mitch McConnell and Don Nickles, Fox News Channel reported today," the NewsMax article states, offering no evidence that anything allegedly released is not substantiated.

The article goes on to cite "Sen. Hillary Clinton, Clintonista DNC boss Terry McAuliffe, San Francisco leftist House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Conyers" as behind the attacks, then says Clinton "issued the day's Democrat talking point claiming suppression of the black vote in the South but failed to offer any evidence."

Come now, NewsMax. If you are so concerned with attacks on potential Senate GOP leaders and Frist in particular, why are you attacking him as well?

Another Dec. 20 article does just that, criticizing Frist for not being conservative enough. The article quotes conservative icon as saying that First "is not somebody conservatives would be comfortable with. He's a moderate Republican who’s not really pro-life. That's the bottom line." David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union adds that Frist "was probably the least acceptable to conservatives," the article continues. piles on, too, with a Dec. 20 story that quotes the leader of an anti-abortion group as saying she's "horrified" at the thought of Frist becoming Senate majority leader. (This was followed Dec. 24 with an interesting debate over how pro-life groups define "pro-life," using Frist as a springboard.)

That's pretty mild, though, compared to what WorldNetDaily is doing to Frist. As soon as it became clear that Lott would resign as Senate majority leader-to-be and Frist was the leading candidate to replace him, WND started hammering away at Frist. Five stories in two days (Dec. 20-21) bashed him for

  • supporting the nomination of David Satcher as surgeon general, "a fervent supporter of unrestricted abortion and someone who actually performed abortions";
  • having "a weak record on immigration – a core conservative issue";
  • being a major shareholder in hospital chain HCA/Columbia, which "reportedly provides abortions to its customers";
  • not withdrawing from congressional discussions about Medicare and patients' bill of rights legislation when HCA/Columbia would benefit; and
  • just being a general menace to conservatives. A commentary by "David T. Pyne Esq.", the executive vice president of the Virginia Republican Assembly, claims that Frist's Senate voting record "squarely in the squishy center of the Republican Party and well below the conservative average for his fellow members of the Senate Republican Caucus."
  • And a Dec. 23 story whacks Frist for being insufficiently supportive of the conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Remember, these are the folks on the right saying this about a Republican. If you didn't know better, you'd think Frist was a Democrat.

Meanwhile, NewsMax kinda sorts out its schizophrenia over Lott. As noted previously, NewsMax has long opposed Lott for allegedly being too accommodating to Democrats but stood by him over his Strom Thurmond remarks, refusing to explicitly criticize them. Now that Lott's toast, NewsMax is mostly happy about it -- in its own special way, of course.

"It's unfortunate that the orchestrated attack on Sen. Trent Lott has succeeded. The humiliation will further embolden Democrats to scream racism whenever they don't get their way in pandering to their special-interest pressure groups," a Dec. 20 article notes. "The only plus is that Lott's leadership has long been a liability to his own party."

After Frist got the job by unanimous vote, though, NewsMax turned all gung-ho behind him. "Now, in Tennessee Senator Bill Frist, they will have to face a smart tactician who has shown every sign of an ability to hand the Senate Democrats their heads in negotiating sessions next year," Wes Vernon writes in his own little spin piece-slash-mash note of Dec. 23.

The ConWeb, though, is getting back to the script and reminding us of the distractions and distortions the ConWeb is really about. Both WND and NewsMax have been busy attacking comments made by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., concerning Osama bin Laden. She was quoted as saying that bin Laden has been "out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that. ... We've got to ask, why is this man so popular around the world? ...Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty?"

The ConWeb, however, had decided that this is an endorsement of bin Laden. "Democrat senator praises bin Laden," reads the headline of a Dec. 20 WND story, and a Dec. 23 WND story (which also calls Murray's comments "praise") digs up a guy who might run against Murray in 2004 to comment.

The similar-sounding "Sen. Murray Praises bin Laden's Good Deeds" was the headline on a Dec. 20 NewsMax story that declared Lott's comments "far less offensive" than Murray's. That was followed by a story later that day which finds offense that Murray's press spokesman makes the rather accurate observations that the senator's remarks are "being turned into a circus by the right-wing media outlets and fed by right-wing haters."

"He must be thinking of the Democrat left-wing media outlets and left-wing haters who are accusing all Republicans and white Southerners of being 'racist,'" NewsMax fumes, linking to the above-mentioned story that hazily accuses Democrats of attacking Frist.

NewsMax's Wes Vernon tries to escalate things by insisting in a Dec. 23 article that "the gathering storm over her remarks" is becoming "all the more fierce." Vernon also thinks that "The uproar over Murray’s comments boiled down to two categories": Those who believe the senator seemed to glorify bin Laden, and those who think she ignored America's record on foreign aid. He forgot a third category, the one he belongs to -- bitter right-wingers trying to seek revenge for what happened to Trent Lott, even though most of it was self-inflicted.

With such circular logic, how can we expect the ConWeb to interpret a why-do-they-hate-us comment by a Democratic senator as anything but praise for the bad guy?

WND, however, may end up killing the story in its zeal to build it up. A Dec. 24 story by Art Moore complains that the story "has garnered little notice in the mainstream media." But Moore undermines the story, not to mention WND's entire anti-Murray campaign, but quoting Matthew Felling of the Center for Media and Public Affairs: "The conservative media is trying to find an equal to the Trent Lott mistatements and are trying to build this up into an equivalence."

Even on the ConWeb, the truth slips out once in a while.

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