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Monday, September 17, 2007
Freedom's Watch Funder Has NewsMax Ties
Topic: Newsmax

How lazy of a reporter is NewsMax's Ronald Kessler when it comes to reporting non-fluff about conservatives? He didn't bother to pass along what NewsMax itself had reported on the funding behind Kessler's new favorite conservative group.

As we noted, Kessler wrote in an Aug. 23 article promoting the pro-war group Freedom's Watch that "the total assets of the organization and the largest sources of funds are not being disclosed," but he made no attempt to explain why (though he attacked George Soros for funding liberal groups). A Sept. 7 article by Kessler about Freedom's Watch was similarly uninterested in delving into the group's funding, though he claimed the group "has more funding than and other George Soros operations." 

But Kessler could have found out by looking at ... NewsMax.

The same day Kessler's first article ran, NewsMax reprinted an Associated Press article about Freedom's Watch, which listed some of the people behind it:

Freedom's Watch was organized as a nonprofit organization under IRS rules and is not required to identify its donors or the amounts they give. The group named some of its financial backers but Blakeman said others wished to remain out of the public eye.

Among those publicly behind the effort are billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a fundraiser for Bush and chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., and conservative philanthropist John M. Templeton Jr. of Bryn Mawr, Pa. Both men have been major contributors to conservative causes. Also backing Freedom's Watch are top Republican donors Anthony Gioia, Mel Sembler and Howard Leach, all former ambassadors in the Bush administration. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is a founding member of the group. 

One of those names should sound quite familiar to NewsMax readers. John Templeton Jr. is the son of John Templeman, whose financial analysis NewsMax has been touting for years -- as far back as 2005, as this promo for NewsMax's Financial Intelligence Report shows.

An Aug. 17 article by Christopher Ruddy at NewsMax's MoneyNews site shows that the relationship between NewsMax and the elder Templeton is not just casual:

Back in later 2004, I was invited to see Sir John Templeton in the Bahamas. It was my second visit with the legendary investor.

Templeton saw it all coming. A massive liquidity boom had been fueled by artificially low interest rates. The Fed under Greenspan had created the largest bubble in history. As night turns to day, it would inevitably pop. Go here now to read our exclusive interview with Templeton.

Templeton didn't know the "when" moment. But it would arrive.

FIR readers were warned in February 2005 of my meeting with Templeton about the impending residential home decline and were advised to take defensive actions: avoid housing stocks, sell residential REITs, mortgage, finance and banks linked to the residential boom.

In fact, the relationship between Ruddy and Templeton Sr. goes back even further. A March 2001 profile of Templeton by Ruddy is very fawning, calling him "an extremely unpretentious and robust man" and proudly noting that Templeton's philanthropic foundation has John Templeton Foundation in Radnor, Pa. "assets [of] $235 million." Ruddy added: "In 1995, Templeton's son, Dr. John M. Templeton Jr., left his successful surgical practice to serve full time as president of the foundation."

So, there's some linkage here, through Templeton, between Freedom's Watch and NewsMax that NewsMax should have disclosed in some form (though it didn't disclose its funding from Richard Mellon Scaife to its readers until we started calling them on it). Kessler, meanwhile, should demonstrate a little less fealty to his conservative buddies and show a little more journalistic initiative.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:47 AM EDT

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