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Monday, July 4, 2005
Press-Release Journalism
Topic: Newsmax
NewsMax overplayed the value of comments by an evangelical minister who took offense that Rev. Billy Graham said something nice about the Clintons.

The June 27 article played up comments by National Clergy Council president Rev. Rob Schenck, who "walked out on Rev. Billy Graham during the second night of his Queens, New York crusade" after Graham "yielded the stage to Bill Clinton and suggested his wife Hillary should be president." NewsMax noted that Schenck "told the Christian Wire Service" his comments.

But the Christian Wire Service is not a "news" service like the Associated Press; it is a distributor of press releases for conservative groups, as its client list attests. Its front page notes: "$65 is what we charge to transmit your 400-words-or-less press release." Schenck's comments originated here in a press release.

It is part of the Christian Communication Service, founded by Gary McCullough, who has worked with Operation Rescue and was a spokesman for the Schindler family and a media adviser to another Schindler family spokesman, fellow Operation Rescue operative Randall Terry, during the Terri Schiavo crisis. A statement on the website describes its mission:

Since 1989, Gary McCullough has worked full-time to see that pro-life and pro-family organizations and individuals are afforded the opportunity for their messages to reach more people through mass media.

NewsMax didn't report comments told to a news organization; it rewrote a press release.

WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, ran an op-ed by Schenck on Graham on July 1, claiming it was an "Exclusive WorldNetDaily Commentary," without noting that it too originated as a press release.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:03 AM EDT

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