Update: Training Up A Columnist
The work of WorldNetDaily's 13-year-old writer is looking like pretty much every other conservative writer. Plus: A columnist exchange program, more NewsMax contradictions, and the return of Jesse Dirkhising.
By Terry Krepel
Train up a child in the way he will go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
-- Proverbs 6:22
If that passage is true, it appears thus far that Kyle Williams, the homeschooled 13-year-old who writes a weekly column for WorldNetDaily, is being trained up to be yet another rhetoric-laden conservative columnist regurgitating what other conservatives have written. Check the couple dozen or so other conservative columnists at WND for comparison purposes.
Williams doesn't write much about being a homeschooled 13-year-old, which is what he presumably knows the most about. He mostly spouts the conservative line on the issues of the day. Look for more of it, presumably, in his upcoming book, which WND will publish.
His Sept. 21 column is an example. It's your basic conservative attack on Democratic Senate majority leader Tom Daschle. It's also stuff you've read elsewhere; he concludes by stating, "I truly hope the Republicans take back the Senate so this man will no longer have the power that he obviously has no respect for and will no longer be able to prevent Congress from attending to America's business."
He also, however, throws in some of that good ol' conservative contradiction. He complains about Daschle taking "another cheap shot at the president," then goes on to refer to Daschle as "Shorty" and later grumble, "If it weren't for the illegitimate power placed on the head of Sen. Daschle, then he would be nothing but some pol from South Dakota that no one ever heard of and would be even more irrelevant that he already is."
What? Is Ann Coulter leading the training-up process? Could be -- like the conservatives' stone silence on the errors and distortions in Coulter's "Slander," we're still waing for Williams to correct the statement he pulled from the Washington Times (which has corrected it) back in February that former Enron CEO Ken Lay slept in the Lincoln Bedroom at the Clinton White House. (Come to think of it, we're still waiting for fellow WND writer Paul Sperry to issue a similar correction.)
And what is this "illegitimate power" he's talking about? Last we heard, Daschle earned what power he has fair and square and didn't ascend despite getting fewer votes than his opponent, unlike some presidents we could name. When you're down to attacking a person instead of the person's politics, that's a big sign you've run out of original things to say (though these are not exactly your typical 13-year-old insults). Which is the problem with Williams -- all there is to recommend him is the novelty of his youth.
Since ConWebWatch believes in constructive criticism for students and/or non-professionals, it's important to point out that we're not criticizing Williams for being conservative -- just for not being terribly original and not fixing an obvious error. He's shown he can write; now he needs to do something interesting with it and not be merely content to spout the party line -- and correct his mistakes.
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NewsMax and WorldNetDaily have undergone a sort of columnist exchange program in recent weeks. Gary Aldrich, who had been writing weekly for WND, is now at NewsMax, where's also selling an audiotape blaming the Clintons for all sorts of things, and Neal Boortz, whose weekday notes on his web site were reposted at NewsMax, is now writing a weekly column at WND.
Both moves make sense. Boortz, an Atlanta-based conservative radio host, joins the stable of conservative radio hosts WND is trying to turn into columnists, and Aldrich gets to hang with similarly Clinton-obsessed cohorts at NewsMax. So, is anyone getting the better deal? Well, Aldrich has already descended into recycling; among Aldrich's posts is a post-Sept. 11 column he originally wrote for WND, in which he declares that "My job and the job of all conservatives now, is to keep liberals out of power as long as humanly possible." Surprisingly, the column actually acknowledges this, one of the very few times you'll see the word "WorldNetDaily" at NewsMax.
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It takes a special kind of columnist to be so contradictory that he proves one argument even as he argues against it. NewsMax has that columnist in David C. Stolinsky.
His Sept. 10 column is all about conspiracy theories, in which he tries to prove that "one thing is clear most of them come from the political Left." But in discussing the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, he spins his own conspiracy theory:
Reagan evoked hostility in many liberals. He was shot two months after taking office. The would-be assassin was an upper-middle-class young man. He used explosive bullets, which are illegal and require criminal contacts to obtain. I have written articles for gun magazines, and I wouldn’t know where to get them. So where did Hinckley get them?
Stolinsky then tries to argue his way of this whole conspiracy-theory thing: "Yes, there are conspiracy theories from the Right, but almost always from the Far Right. ... In contrast, conspiracy theories from the Left come not just from the Far Left, but from mainstream liberals who dominate our media. That’s why nearly all the theories we see in films, TV, books, magazines and newspapers blame the Right for our troubles," and then concludes, "Most conspiracy theories, whether liberal or conservative, are false."
Stolinsky manages to prove himself wrong. So why did he bother writing this?
* * *
Speaking of conspiracy theories at NewsMax, sound news judgment is painted as a "media cover-up" in a Sept. 14 article on the arrest of the son of Al Gore for drunk driving.
"The media cover-up of Gore Jr.'s latest brush with the law stands in marked contrast to alcohol-related offenses involving the Bush family, stories the press has repeatedly rushed into print over the last two years," NewsMax complains, annoyed that an earlier speeding ticket by the young Gore did not get reported as widely as they wanted as did news of Chelsea Clinton "collapsing in a drunken stupor outside a London nightclub this spring."
"In stark contrast, alcohol-related incidents involving first daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush have been widely and immediately covered by the mainstream press, as were the recent drug-abuse troubles of first niece Noelle Bush, who was discovered last week with crack in a Florida drug rehab center," the article complains.
Well, let's sort out the news value of all this. Al Gore holds no political office, which diminishes the value of news involving his family. And Chelsea Clinton, unlike the Bush twins, is of legal drinking age, and her dad's no longer president.
And the last time we checked, NewsMax didn't think breaking alcohol laws was such a bad thing. It, along with the rest of the ConWeb, spent a lot of time downplaying the Bush twins' behavior, blaming the manager and owners of the bar where they were caught trying to buy booze with a false ID and the police who arrested them instead of the girls for breaking the law in the first place.
Plus, as Arianna Huffington reports, Noelle Bush's problems take on a interesting, hypocritical light when dad (Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) is cutting state budgets for drug treatment and drug courts and opposed a proposed ballot initiative that would send non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail.
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Lest we thought that the Jesse Dirkhising story had outlived its usefulness to conservatives, WorldNetDaily reminds us with a very long Sept. 23 story that begins with the following editor's note: "As the third anniversary of 13-year-old Jesse Dirkhising's death approaches, interviews with the prosecutor who tried the boy's homosexual murderers and information gleaned from Northwest Arkansas local news reports shed new light on factors that led to the tragedy. This story is graphic and not suitable for children."
And graphic it is, as if describing the specifics of what happened to Dirkhising at the hands of two homosexuals would serve some purpose other than to deliberately offend the typical WorldNetDaily reader and play into the site's anti-gay bias. The story concludes with address to which "cards and letters may be sent to Jesse Dirkhising's family."
Though WND played a part in pushing the Dirkhising story to the level of prominence it has received, it didn't offer daily coverage of the defendant's trial (the other defendant made a plea bargain), so it didn't have the sordid details of the case on its site until now.
The article's author, Allyson Smith, tries to promote the conservative line that Dirkhising equals Matthew Shepherd -- which, based on the type of crimes committed, he doesn't -- by pointing out in the story's third paragraph that "the number of articles written (about Dirkhising) pale in comparison to those written about the murder of Matthew Shepherd an adult homosexual brutally murdered in Wyoming by heterosexuals. In fact, a Nexis search shows a disparity in story counts of 18-1."
On the other hand, Smith also quotes the case's prosecutor as saying:
It was extremely important to me that the jury stay focused on the real issue of the trial the rape and murder of Jesse and not be distracted by any side issues, such as whether this case was the subject of a conspiracy by the national media to hide homosexual hate crimes.
But you don't read that until paragraph 51.
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And the winner of the most whacked-out commentary of the past few months is ... Samuel L. Blumenfeld, who wrote the following in his Sept. 7 WorldNetDaily column:
In politics, the Democrat Party is the political home of the brainless and those corrupt members of the cognitive elite who have a lust for power. The latter are the Faustian intellectuals who would be as gods.
And we haven't even gotten to what he thinks of the way teenagers dress.