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Counter-Coverage, Part 2: Living Slantery

The ConWeb accentuates the negative -- again -- on Hillary Clinton and her memoirs.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/12/2003

Hillary Clinton is getting more or less positive coverage in the mainstream media for her "Living History" memoir, so you know what that means.

The ConWeb has to go into counter-coverage mode -- the deliberate slanting of coverage of an issue or person to offset perceived coverage elsewhere, play to the biases of its readers and display the biases of the editors. The ConWeb does this with the Clintons all the time.

Going full-tilt on its counter-coverage is, unsurprisingly, NewsMax. It's bashing Hillary on every front it can think of, to calling her a liar (oh, there's a shock) to sending Christopher Ruddy to appear on TV to Ruddy declaring the book a PR failure to John LeBoutillier waxing apocalyptic to dragging out disreputable ex-Clinton adviser Dick Morris to smugly noting that the new Harry Potter book is higher on the sales list to digging up poor, factually questionable Juanita Broaddrick.

The coup de grace -- as befits the clown prince of the ConWeb -- is the "Deck of Hillary," a playing card deck loaded with unflattering pictures and quotes. "Sick of the media’s puffery of Hillary Clinton and her new book in an obvious effort to help her presidential chances?" states the sales copy. "That’s right – the Deck of Hillary is a set of playing cards that will not only make you laugh out loud – it blows the lid off her lies and her new book." It promises, among other things, "outrageous racist and anti-Semitic rantings" long since discredited.

The ad copy continues: "In fact, NewsMax has a goal – we want to sell more Decks of Hillary than Hillary sells of her own book. It’s a big goal – but with your help we can do it and tell the big media about our success." But hasn't the ConWeb been telling us all this time that it's a bad thing for a news organization to have a political agenda?

The really hilarious thing, though, is the bottom line for this product offered "Exclusively from": "List Price: $19.95 -- NewsMax Price: $14.95." If you can't buy it anywhere else, why is there a "list price" and a "NewsMax price"? And isn't the alleged discounted $14.95 a hell of a lot to pay for a deck of cards? Does NewsMax really think at $14.95 a deck, "millions of Americans will use, play and read the Deck of Hillary – millions more than read her book!"?

Meanwhile, WorldNetDaily is engaging in its own, slightly more civilized brand of counter-coverage. A June 7 Paul Sperry story that alleges Hillary "threw a book at a Secret Service agent, hitting him in the back as he was driving her (in Washington) in a limousine during the 1996 campaign." The story quotes a Secret Service agent (anonymously, of course) as saying the an alleged lack of respect the Clintons had for the agents around them "stemmed in large part from an overriding suspicion allegedly held by the Clintons that agents doubled as Republican plants, relaying dirt to the first couple's political enemies." With stories like this, the Clintons would seem to have been proven correct.

Joseph Farah weighs in with a June 9 column headlined "Another Clinton crime." The big offense? An allegedly "independent" investigation showed that the Clintons raised money for an organization, Americans for Peace Now, that allegedly violated nonprofit rules by using money for political purposes. "Americans for Peace Now needs to be shut down as a charitable organization. And those who supported its illegal activities need to be held accountable – including Bill and Hillary Clinton," Farah thunders. He rails further in a June 12 column, defending the "seemingly sincere" Broaddrick.

Jon Dougherty contributes a couple of clip-job works to the counter-coverage effort. One story rehashes the Broaddrick case, taking care not to mention her credibility problems; another story tries to talk down the huge sales of the book and take some solace that Hillary's book isn't selling well in "the heartland."

WND also did a June 11 story on how a book "tying the recent war to Bible prophecy" (coincidentally, also for sale at WND) moved ahead of "Living History" on the sales list after a full-page ad for it appeared in USA Today, but as NewsMax has demonstrated, it's not that difficult to manipulate that list. If the prophecy book had moved ahead of Harry Potter, that would have been actual news.

WND's partners in its BizNetDaily site, Business Reform magazine, devotes an issue to health care, for which Hillary is the conservative whipping girl for pushing that overhaul plan a decade ago. A preview of the articles offers the gist of the Hillary-bashing take: "In seeking answers to our current health care crisis, we should turn first to God. ... Only He – and not Hillary – can solve this crisis and it is our duty as Christians in business to be at the forefront of this discussion of health care reform." has stayed away from the counter-coverage frenzy so far. But its brethren at the Media Research Center are having fits. Brent Baker, in particular, was upset that Hillary's interview with Barbara Walters was "a pathetic product which should be an embarrassment to ABC News since Walters did little more than deliver an hour-long infomercial for Clinton's new book." As if anyone was expecting a hard-hitting interview.

Baker also wants Hillary to apologize for that "vast right-wing conspiracy" remark. He lamented about a question asked of Hillary by Time magazine: " So much for any notion that maybe the VRWC doesn't exist or that Hillary might owe an apology to those she smeared with the charge when the Lewinsky story turned out to be true." Sorry, Mr. Baker, it's a demonstrated fact that conservatives did indeed plot ways to undermine the Clinton presidency.

Speaking of smears -- hold on, wait for it -- two words: Brent Bozell. To wit, his June 10 column: "It’s not just (Hillary's) Garden of Sweden socialist politics that grate. It’s how the powers of the political culture treat her like she’s so special nothing she says has to be truthful, and anyone who questions her has a psychological problem with this strong woman who could be president. And, of course, should be."

And he's on the same deluded side as Baker on the conspiracy thing, suggesting a question a conservative would have asked: "Since your husband admitted the sexual relationship, you know it happened. Shouldn’t you have apologized for creating the myth of a right-wing plot out to get your husband? That wasn’t true, was it?"

Not only is the ConWeb slanting coverage to give a little red meat to its conservative readers, it's apparently trying to rewrite a little history of its own.

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