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Saturday, March 29, 2008
Newsmax Flip-Flops on Media Ownership Conflicts
Topic: Newsmax

In a March 27 Newsmax column, Lowell Ponte notes that one of the private equity firms that has been negotiating a deal to buy radio giant Clear Channel Communications -- which also owns Premiere Radio Networks, syndicator of such consrevative hosts as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh -- is Bain Capital, co-founded by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Ponte writes:

These hosts never told listeners that a company Romney co-founded, and with which he was still involved, was signatory to a 2006 agreement to buy Clear Channel and that completion of this deal was in process during Romney’s presidential run.

Should these hosts tell their listeners about Romney’s tangential connection to the purchase of Clear Channel if bank funding is resolved and this buyout of the broadcast giant gets back on track — and if Gov. Romney becomes Senator McCain’s running mate?

Nothing in Mitt Romney’s potential involvement in this buyout is in any way whatsoever illegal or unethical. The same can be said for honorable Clear Channel hosts who spoke favorably of Gov. Romney.

But in our age of highly charged, hotly polarized partisanship, leftists have demonstrated an eagerness to turn even the tiniest molehill into a mountain of accusation against Republicans, and even against one another.

Caesar’s wife must be above even the slightest suspicion in our era of undue influence and strange political bedfellows.

By bringing light and ventilation to Bain Capital’s and Mr. Romney’s role (if any) in the Clear Channel buyout, we can give McCain more freedom to consider Gov. Romney as a potentially excellent running mate.

Newsmax wasn't so magnanimous when faced with the opposite situation.

As we've noted, back in 2000 Newsmax was absolutely offended that one investor in the company that owns the National Enquirer is "Clinton confidant and one-time Whitewater figure Roger Altman." Citing stories that made Republicans look bad whose facts it didn't dispute, Newsmax huffed: "Watch for the liberal media food chain at work. ... Smear stories in tabloids that bounce up to the networks."

Of course, Newsmax has some tabloid-esque tendencies -- witness Ronald Kessler's endless Obama attacks -- and serves that exact role in the conservative media food chain, promoting "smear stories" that "bounce up" to talk radio and Fox News. And it considered those very same tabloids a reliable source of information when they reported scandalous information about Democrats.

Newsmax in 2000 wasn't calling anyone at the National Enquirer "honorable" or pointing out that their ownership by a former politician was not "illegal or unethical." And it most definitely was trying to turn "the tiniest molehill into a mountain of accusation."

Back then, Newsmax wanted to highlight a media ownership issue to attack it. Now, a Newsmax columnist wants to highlight the issue in order to whitewash it.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:21 AM EDT

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