An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia
Exhibit 38: The Hard Right Bank of the Mainstream
Lurking among the more respectable columnists at CNSNews.com are hard-right conservatives making extreme statements.
By Terry Krepel
In addition to running news with a conservative slant (which ConWebWatch has copiously documented), CNSNews.com runs opinion columns as well.
CNS has generally downplayed the commentary section of its website in favor of its news section, though it will promote selected opinion pieces. As part of a recent design tweak in order to accommodate ads on the its website, commentary headlines temporarily disappeared from the CNS front page.
CNS' commentaries are almost always conservative, ranging from syndicated columnists Robert Novak and Michelle Malkin to Republican strategist Rich Galen to pieces from conservative nonprofit groups such as the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation.
But the commentary roster also includes a number of hard-right conservatives as well -- commentaries that normally reside at similarly hard-right sites such as American Daily and GOPUSA (sister site to Jeff Gannon's former employer, the late Talon News). Among them are E. Ralph Hostetter, Frank Salvato, Christopher Adamo and Alan Caruba. These in particular are prone to making misleading and outrageous statements.
Hostetter, who describes himself as "a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher," (and a current vice chairman of the Free Congress Foundation board of directors) has penned anti-immigration commentaries that veer toward the xenophobic. A June 13 column blamed Asian immigrants for "threatening America's cultural and ethnic future" (which is, if nothing else, a change from the typical conservative modus operandi of blaming Hispanic immigrants for doing so). How? Because a 1965 revision of immigration laws -- which Hostetter claimed is "described as 'infamous' by some and a 'disaster' by others" -- "gave 60 percent of the newly established quota -- 170,000 new openings -- to Asians, who bring a different culture to America." He doesn't explicitly say how that "different culture" has resulted in what he called "untold damage to America's heritage and cultural base," but he writes:
Until 1965, the immigration stock that had created and sustained the United States was drawn from England and some 22 nations of the European Continent, all of which shared America's Western civilization culture and its spiritual connections to Christianity.
In other words (since Hostetter won't actually say it), Asians aren't white or Christian, and there lies the problem. Hostetter concluded that a new immigration law must "provide the necessary quotas to preserve the 230 years of America's culture, heritage and traditions."
A June 28 column by Hostetter bashing The New York Times followed unsupported conservative talking points in claiming that by disclosing "the nation's secret intelligence collecting methods," the Times' motive "is the expressed seminal hatred the dominant media and, in particular, the New York Times has for President George W. Bush," and that by "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" through the disclosure, the Times "has placed the American public at risk of terrorist attacks and the American soldier in combat at risk of his life."
Hostetter also cited an apparently bogus poll in support of his argument. Hostetter wrote: "The failed argument that the public needs to know is refuted in a Fox News poll on Friday, June 24, showing 88 percent of Americans are satisfied with President Bush's use of his intelligence sources to protect America." But the Fox News website's poll page lists no such poll; it is more than likely that the poll Hostetter is citing is, in fact, an unreliable opt-in online poll promoted on programs such as "Your World with Neil Cavuto." Those polls have the disclaimer: "This is not a scientific poll," which Hostetter should perhaps have taken notice of.
Hostetter's xenophobic way also popped in an April 28 column, which started out by calling illegal immigration a "cancer" and a "tumor," and things pretty much went downhill from there:
Hostetter similarly linked al-Qaeda to immigration in an April 7 column, in which he claimed that "it is a certainty that al Qaeda terrorists have crossed along with the massive Mexican incursion," adding: "It is just as certain that a 100,000-person marching mob will have at least one al Qaeda terrorist marching in lock-step and ready to light the fuse that will ignite the mob to burn the city, causing far greater property damage and repercussions than 9/11."
A July 21 CNSNews.com harangue by Salvato -- managing editor for The New Media Journal.us (formerly TheRant.us) -- made numerous false and unsubstantiated claims in the course of bashing anyone who has criticized President Bush as a "Fifth Column." Salvato attacked Joseph Wilson as "the whiniest man on the face of the planet," criticizing him and his wife, Valerie Plame, as "disgruntled political has-beens" for filing a "nuisance lawsuit" against Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby over their role in exposing Ms. Plame's undercover CIA status "as Hezbollah committed itself to an all out war against Israel, the United States and the free world, setting the Middle East afire." Salvato wrote: "Pay no attention to the fact that during an investigation into the Plame matter a federal prosecutor failed to find one noteworthy piece of evidence to bolster the assertion that Cheney, Rove or Libby had anything to do with facilitating columnist Robert Novak with Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA covert operative." In fact, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation is continuing, and he has made no public conclusions about whether Cheney, Rove or Libby "had anything to do with" leaking Plame's name.
Salvato also claimed that the lawsuit wants people to "[d]isregard the unarguable fact that Plame was serving as a CIA analyst and hadn't been a covert operative for years at the time the story was printed." His assertion seems to conflict with an actual unarguable fact: that Plame's CIA status was classified, and it is presumably an offense on some level when a classified CIA operative's identity is disclosed.
In an October 21, 2005, commentary, Salvato suggested that Sen. Hillary Clinton wants to kill all conservatives:
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." If conservatives don't hang together now we will all hang separately, and President Hillary Clinton will be the hangman.
Adamo ("a freelance writer who lives in southeastern Wyoming"), meanwhile, used a June 22 column to attack Rep. John Murtha and Sen. John Kerry, claiming that because they have criticized the Bush administration over the Iraq war, they are "not 'patriotic' nor are they voices of the 'loyal opposition,' for they can be neither patriotic nor loyal when 'carrying the water' for the mortal enemies of America." The headline: "Benedict Arnold Was a 'War Hero,' Too."
At the height of the controversy over CNS' misquoting of Democratic strategist Paul Begala -- CNS, by the way, has yet to admit fault, let alone apologize -- Adamo wrote a July 21, 2005, column in which he repeated the false claim that Begala said that Republicans were out to kill him and his family (in fact, Begala was referring to terrorists, not Republicans). He then added: "It is noteworthy that in his bizarre ramblings, he completely blurred any distinction between al Qaeda terrorists who slaughtered three thousand innocent people, and Republicans who managed to implement a meager tax cut for Americans."
But Adamo has his own history of blurring distinctions between political figures he despises and merchants of terror: In an Aug. 6, 2004, column he wrote: "Nazi Germany had Joseph Goebbels, and Imperial Japan had Tokyo Rose. But Michael Moore endows the American left with the talents of both."
Caruba is similarly not above tossing around baseless allegations. A July 31 column ostensibly attacking a column by the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson makes the following unsupported, sweeping claims:
In a Dec. 5, 2005, column, Caruba bashed former presidents Clinton and Carter because they "refuse to get off the world stage, and ... do not restrain themselves from criticizing the current president." Caruba added: "I have lived long enough to see a dozen presidents in office and I cannot recall any but these two behaving in this fashion." Caruba, the head of something called the National Anxiety Center, must have been in the throes of a panic attack or something during the 1990s, because he missed out on the first President Bush's regular criticism of Clinton.
The presence of such extremist columnists at CNS shows the blurring lines between purely ideological B-team sites such as American Daily and GOPUSA and multimillion-dollar operations like the Media Research Center that operates CNS. And indeed, Hostetter's anti-Asian rant also appeared at Accuracy in Media, another multimillion-dollar outfit (which has also published work by Adamo).
Either CNS and AIM are using some of their millions to push hard-right opinions into the mainstream, or they are so desperate to fill space that any semi-coherent column will do, no matter how extreme or factually questionable.