Perhaps Newsmax should have seen this coming.
Newsmax began the day the way it has the past few days -- by refusing to tell its readers about Donald Trump's qualms about the GOP presidential debate he was planning to host with Newsmax given that only two candidates indicated any interest in taking part.
Indeed, things kicked with yet another bit of Trump-fluffing: an article by Margaret Menge and John Bachman on an "exclusive interview" with Trump at yet another signing appearance for his new book -- the second such article Newsmax has done in the past three days.
A couple hours after that fawning article was posted, however, Trump announced he was withdrawing as debate moderator.
Newsmax's article on Trump's withdrawal features an open-ended comment from Newsmax editorial director Steve Coz:
“We are very disappointed as we believe Mr. Trump would have made a tough and fair moderator. However, we respect his view that the role may have presented a conflict of interest in light of the fact that he now wishes to keep his options open to run for the presidency himself.
“We join Mr. Trump in thanking candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum for their commitment to the debate.”
Of course, Trump had said last Friday that he wanted to keep open the option of running for president -- Newsmax just hadn't bothered to mention that to its readers until now.
Coz was careful not to say whether the debate would go foward without Trump as figurehead, though Trump himself was less reticient about speculating. Trump said on Fox News that he didn't think it would go forward without him, adding, "They really wanted me to do it."
This would be the second time this year that Newsmax has gotten burned by Trump. Ronald Kessler's relentless puffery of Trump's presidential ambitions culminated in a series of rewritten articles trying to nail down whether Trump would actually announce his candidacy. And even when it became clear that he wouldn't, Kessler still carried a flame for him.
Newsmax, theoretically, had fair warning of Trump's mercurial nature. Yet it still decided to work even closer with him to set up this ill-fated debate.
Yeah, Newsmax should have seen it coming. Now it has to deal with the fact that its attempts at trying to enhance its prestige has been undermined by spending too much time hanging around Donald Trump.