Update: Reporting Their Way to Heaven
NewsMax creams the competition -- and tries to cash in -- on death-of-the-pope coverage. Plus: The MRC adds context at last, NewsMax insensitively beats up on Peter Jennings, recycled lies about Al Gore, and more.
By Terry Krepel
Is somebody at NewsMax trying to accumulate points for getting into heaven?
NewsMax is the winner of the overkill award on ConWeb coverage of Pope John Paul II's death by running every possible scrap of info it can find, even dedicating a special page to the articles it has run. On the evening on April 3 alone, NewsMax's front page contained at least 57 internal and external links to stories about the pope. On April 8, NewsMax showed a full-screen splash page picture of the pope that stated, "Farewell, Holy Father," before presenting its regular front page.
Of course, those 57-plus stories NewsMax has shoveled through its web site weren't all good ones; along with the wheat, there was chaff such as a story on a 12th-century prophecy, which NewsMax assures us is "amazingly accurate," that allegedly predicts that the cardinals who will pick John Paul II's successor "may well be choosing the next-to-last pope."
Unfortunately, NewsMax is unable to be completely altruistic about this. The pope wasn't even dead 24 hours before NewsMax started sending out solicitations to its e-mail list to buy the pope's latest book from its store. "The Pope Speaks," declared one e-mail. "New Book Draws Praise and Anger. Click Here Now." And surely it's just coincidental that the latest issue of NewsMax's magazine has the pope on the cover.
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The Media Research Center has offered something surprising in its quest to find so-called liberal bias in coverage of the pope's death: context.
From the MRC's April 5 CyberAlert:
An Editor's Note: The vast majority of coverage of the Pope's impending death, and then after he passed away, has been positive or stuck to explaining church procedures, and has not portrayed the Pope through a liberal prism. One example of the glowingly positive assessments awarded the late Pope, how Wyatt Andrews concluded a Monday CBS Evening News story on how the Pope used the media to spread his message: "It's not that he played to the camera, his gift was to play past it. Perhaps, with the exception of Christ himself, no one reached the flock with greater impact."
What to make of this? Well, it seems to make the MRC's agenda even more clear: The MRC will tolerate only "glowingly positive" portrayals of the pope, and anything less than that will be portrayed as "critical and negative," i.e., liberal, despite the fact that it is a tiny minority of the coverage. For the MRC, a "vast majority" of stories promoting what it agrees with isn't enough; it wants it all, with no dissenting views.
In other words, business as usual. The MRC is just admitting it, for once.
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Among that armada of pope-related stories NewsMax has plugged was an April 4 article accusing the TV networks of "snubbing" the pope's death because the evening news anchors didn't drop everything and head straight to Rome. ABC got criticized for sending "B-listers George Stephanopoulos and Cokie Roberts" instead of Peter Jennings, who "begged off on making the trek - saying he was 'feeling under the weather,'" according to the article.
As it turned out, Jennings is a bit more than "under the weather" -- he has been diagnosed for lung cancer, as was revealed April 5.
NewsMax's tone suddenly got a lot more respectful in its April 5 story on the announcement. Quite a change from the day before, actually, let alone a few years ago, when columnist John LeBoutillier observed: "It is obvious that Peter Jennings, for example, is a way-out lefty who hates America and American values."
NewsMax just can't stop telling the same old lies about Democrats to its readers.
In the middle of what reads like a press release for Al Gore's new TV network, Current, an April 4 story recycles a discredited old Gore-ism by claiming that Gore "once took credit for inventing the Internet." That continues NewsMax's tradition of lying about the former vice president; ConWebWatch debunked the inventing-the-Internet canard long ago.
WorldNetDaily fell into the same old ways. Even though its April 5 article explicitly quoted Gore as saying the channel will not be "liberal, Democratic, or political," it goes on to claim that "some observers have contended Gore's association with the network inevitably will brand it as a partisan, Democratic Party operation" and quotes one said observer -- who also happens to be a senior vice president at Fox News -- insisting that Fox News doesn't "get business for being conservative, we get business because the ratings are good and we believe that we're fair."
Somehow, the fact that the exact same argument applies to Fox News -- since its leader, Roger Ailes, is a former Republican operative -- escapes WND's thought process completely. Not to mention the fact that Fox News has amply demonstrated its conservative slant over the years.
An alert ConWebWatch reader noticed that WorldNetDaily may be getting back into the plagiarism business.
A few hours after the British paper the Telegraph posted an article April 3 on the Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop, allegedly suggesting that Jesus might have been gay, WND followed up with its own version. All the elements of WND's story are also contained in the Telegraph's article -- including many of the quotes and the odd hyphenation of "homo-erotic" -- but WND gives no credit to the Telegraph.
The final slight of bias: When Robinson denied that he said that Jesus was gay -- he claimed he said merely that Jesus lived a "nontraditional" life -- WND not only didn't believe it was worth plagiarizing, it banished an outside link to the story on outside-link-only Page 2.
Remember those cheeky front-page promos NewsMax started doing for Associated Press wire stories? They've evolved beyond cheeky and straight on into factually inaccurate.
The promo line for a March 29 story on 59 former diplomats writing a letter to oppose the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador reads: "No surprise here: Leftwing State Dept. bureaucrats don't like the no nonsense John Bolton."
But that's not what the story says at all:The ex-diplomats have served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, some for long terms and others briefly. They include Arthur A. Hartman, ambassador to France and the Soviet Union under Presidents Carter and Reagan and assistant secretary of state for European affairs under President Nixon.
Promos like this show why NewsMax isn't known for its original reporting -- it has enough problems telling the truth about stories it didn't write.
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It's never too early to start thinking about next year's Slantie Awards, and fortunately, columnists are obliging by coming up with potential entries for the next LoBaido Award for bizarre commentary.
Brandon Dutcher obliges with a March 18 anti-daycare diatribe at CNSNews.com:
Fortunately, the day care centers themselves do their part to help ease the pain [of parents' guilt]. Consider: When's the last time you saw a day care center named "Infant Warehouse"? It doesn't happen. "Hepatitis Haven" is not a popular choice, either. Ditto for "The Romanian Orphanage."
E. Ralph Hostetter, in an April 5 CNS commentary, rails against the liberal conspiracy that associated the color red with Republicans. Since it appeared a little too late for April Fool's Day, we can only assume that he's not kidding:
Weren't the Communists the Reds? Who ever heard of Blue Chinese? Can you imagine the Red Russians holding still for being called Blue? Was not the color red the designated color of the far left? Don't you remember when individuals on the extreme far left were referred to as "pinkos"? Whenever was pink a shade of blue?