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Newsmax's Peter King Presidential Boomlet

Newsmax basically talks the New York Republican congressman into throwing his hat into the ring for 2016 -- then strangely doesn't include him in a Newsmax poll about potential presidential candidates.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/23/2013

Peter King

Newsmax has long promoted Donald Trump's presidential ambitions, trying to present him as a credible candidate. Now Newsmax has its eye on someone else, trying to do the same for a Republican congressman.

A July 17 Newsmax article by John Gizzi claimed: "In a recent political development that could only be called surprising, Newsmax has learned that U.S. Rep. Peter King, past chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is being encouraged by friends in and outside the Empire State to seek the GOP nomination for president in 2016." Gizzi cites only unidentified "friends" of King to back up the claim.

That started Newsmax's echo chamber in motion:

  • A July 18 article by Bill Hoffmann featuring King confirming his presidential ambitions to Newsmax radio host Steve Malzberg.
  • Another Hoffmann article quoted former Rep. Vito Fossella endorsing a possible King candidacy. Hoffmann also quotes Fossella opining on the current political campaigns of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer: "Everybody is entitled to a second chance. So they can throw their hat in the ring. Let the voters decide." Hoffmann did concede that Fossella "faced his own scandal in office when it was revealed he had a secret love child," but didn't mention that Newsmax has been trying to rehabilitate him ever since.
  • A July 19 article by Todd Beamon featured Newsmax columnist Matt Towery chatting up a possible King campaign.
  • Newsmax capped this round of speculation with a July 20 meta-article on how "A storm of media interest erupted after Newsmax broke the story on Wednesday that Rep. Peter King was seriously considering a White House run in 2016."

None of these articles, however, mentioned one important fact: Newsmax is responsible for planting the idea in King's head in the first place. Time magazine reported:

Blame it on the chicken scarpariello.

Rep. Peter King made news last week when the New York Republican announced he was considering a run for President in 2016, an idea first reported by the conservative website Newsmax. Left unreported in that initial story was the spark that ignited King’s interest in running for the top job. It came at a dinner weeks earlier at an Italian restaurant called Campagnola on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, with Chris Ruddy, editor-in-chief of Newsmax, and Vito Fossella, a former Republican congressman from New York.

King told TIME that Ruddy showed up unannounced. “I didn’t even know he was going to be there,” King remembered. “And he said he’d been hearing from a number of people that someone like me could bring together the national security Republicans and the old Reagan Democrats and that I should consider a run. And he said, ‘You mind if I do a story?’ And I said, ‘On what?’ And I didn’t hear from him until I guess last Friday [July 12].”

Five days later, he received another call saying Newsmax had published a story about his possible ambitions. “I realized I had to start thinking about it more seriously when I got the phone call at 11 o’clock on Wednesday night,” said King.


“I think people are open to someone new and different,” Ruddy told TIME. “I think Peter has a lot of assets going for him. He is well-liked. He is great on television. He has great visibility. He’s a straight shooter. People want that and I think the Republican Party also needs a little something different. Because if they couldn’t beat an unpopular president in a recession last time, they are going to have an uphill battle in 2016.”
Newsmax kept up the non-disclosure in an Aug. 1 article by Bill Hoffmann touting how King "moved steps closer Thursday to a possible declaration about running for president in 2016 as he detailed the driving issue that would make up his platform — national security and the ongoing battle against terrorists."

Hoffmann added that "Last month, Newsmax revealed in an exclusive story that King was seriously considering tossing his hat into an increasingly crowded ring" -- but not that Ruddy put the bug in King's ear in the first place.

Over the next several days, Newsmax did its best to goose the King boomlet:

And, apparently making sure it's not putting all of its eggs in one basket, Newsmax does a shout-out to a beneficiary of a previous manufactured presidential boomlet, with the story "Trump: Rangel Should Resign over 'White Cracker' Remark."

Newsmax is just covering all of its bases, it seems.

Newsmax's dream ultimately came true, as Greg Richter sounds very pleased and almost giddy in a Sept. 8 article:

The first presidential candidate for 2016 has announced his run: Republican Rep. Peter King of New York.

King told a New Hampshire radio station that he was visiting the state last week "because right now I'm running for president." It was King's second of four scheduled visits to the state this year, the New York Daily News reports.

King earlier this year hinted at running, but the radio admission not only seemingly makes it official, it would also make King the first member of either party to official throw a hat in the ring.

Richter, however, didn't note one major conflict of interest: His boss, Christopher Ruddy, is the one who put the bug in King's ear about furthering his presidential ambitions.

King ignored in Newsmax poll

Jim Meyers used an Oct. 10 article to tout Newsmax's latest poll:

If the Republican presidential primary were held today, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would garner the most votes, according to a new Newsmax/Zogby poll.

Christie received 11.4 percent of the votes in the survey, just ahead of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who collected 11.2 percent, and Rand Paul, 10.1 percent.

Pollsters interviewed 418 likely voters, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, as well as a variety of age groups and background. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.


The poll offered respondents a list of 21 potential candidates. Here are the candidates and the percentage of the survey votes they received:

Christie, 11.4 percent; Bush, 11.2; Paul 10.1; Paul Ryan, 9.1; Sarah Palin, 6.9; Ted Cruz, 6.5; Marco Rubio, 3.7; Rick Santorum, 2.8; Rick Perry, 1.6; Scott Walker, 1.5; Allen West, 1.4; Ben Carson, 1.3.

Next on the list of candidates, Bobby Jindal, 0.9 percent; Mitch Daniels, 0.8; John Kasich, 0.8; Rob Portman, 0.8; Jim DeMint, 0.4; Bob McDonnell, 0.3; Susana Martinez, 0.2; Nikki Haley, 0; Jon Thune, 0.

Strangely missing from Newsmax's poll is Peter King, despite Newsmax's promotion of his presidential prospects -- even though unlike many of the names Newsmax polled on, King has specifically expressed interest in running for president in 2016.

Why wouldn't Newsmax want to poll for a candidate it created? Very strange indeed.

(Also missing from the list of potential candidates in Newsmax's poll is Trump, despite a July 1 Newsmax article by Michelle Smith repeating Trump's claim that he can "fix" America's problems, adding the tease: "Some suspect that Trump's current claims to possess solutions for America's problems coupled with an upcoming speech in Iowa indicates that he is considering a run for the White House in 2016.")

Silent about King controversy

None of Newsmax's reporting on King, however, has touched on one potential stumbling block for a King presidential campaign: his longtime support for the terrorists of the Irish Republican Army. The New York Times reported in 2011:

“We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry,” Mr. King told a pro-I.R.A. rally on Long Island, where he was serving as Nassau County comptroller, in 1982. Three years later he declared, “If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.”

As Mr. King, a Republican, rose as a Long Island politician in the 1980s, benefiting from strong Irish-American support, the I.R.A. was carrying out a bloody campaign of bombing and sniping, targeting the British Army, Protestant paramilitaries and sometimes pubs and other civilian gathering spots. His statements, along with his close ties to key figures in the military and political wings of the I.R.A., drew the attention of British and American authorities.


He said he does not regret his past pro-I.R.A. statements. The Irish group, he said, was “a legitimate force” battling British repression — analogous to the African National Congress in South Africa or the Zionist Irgun paramilitary in British-ruled Palestine. “It was a dirty war on both sides,” he said of I.R.A. resistance to British rule.

Newsmax has a notable history of disappearing inconvenient information about candidates it supports, even when it used that very same information to attack the candidate before changing sides.

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