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Monday, January 2, 2012
Newsmax Airing Pro-Gingrich "Campaign Special" In Iowa
Topic: Newsmax

Remember the "Newsmax 2012 Campaign Special," which is nothing more than a half-hour promotion for Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign? Well, Newsmax is running it as an ad in Iowa.

The New York Times reports that the video ran "throughout the weekend in all of Iowa’s major television markets." We saw it ourselves on a Omaha TV station, which also covers much of western Iowa. The Times notes that because the Newsmax video doesn't explicitly endorse Gingrich, it doesn't blatantly run afoul of election laws, and that Newsmax, as a corporate entity, is much freer to do such electioneering as a result of the Citizens United decision.

Interestingly, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy admits to the Times that there's something of a quid pro quo in Newsmax's sudden interest in shilling for Gingrich:

Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax Media’s chief executive, said he was inclined to feature Mr. Gingrich in the program because the former speaker was one of only two candidates who agreed to participate in the debate Newsmax planned to host with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump pulled out of the debate, and Newsmax canceled it after most of the candidates balked.

“We’re very supportive of Newt,” Mr. Ruddy said Friday. “Newt never asked it, nor did we ever have to do it. But we do feel that Newt really is the conservative standard-bearer right now.”

Mr. Ruddy said the special would run 200 times over the weekend in all of the state’s major media markets, including on stations in Omaha and South Dakota that reach into parts of Iowa.

Newsmax and Mr. Ruddy have soured on Mitt Romney after endorsing him in 2008, when it called him “the Reagan candidate” on its cover.

Mr. Ruddy’s feelings now? He said Mr. Romney has been too dismissive of Newsmax, whereas Mr. Gingrich has not. “So we have a comfort level with Newt. Woody Allen says 85 percent of success in life is just showing up. Well, Newt shows up.”

Newsmax said it considered the video news programming, not political activity.

That's a dubious explanation, because Newsmax does not have its own regularly scheduled video outlet, nor does it produce video for broadcast outlets on a regular basis. Further, the program is not "news" per se -- it's a veiled endorsement of a political candidate who, as it happens, did a favor for Newsmax.

Newsmax has done this sort of electioneering while hiding behind the premise of being a "news" organization before. Before the 2004 election, Newsmax purchased TV time to air the discredited anti-John Kerry film "Stolen Honor."

Posted by Terry K. at 6:28 PM EST

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