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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 32: A Conspirator Rails Against Conspiracies

NewsMax, part of a a shadowy group of conservative organizations, attacks a "shadowy group of liberal organizations."

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/13/2005

A March 24 NewsMax story recycled an article in The Hill, a newspaper serving Capitol Hill, that detailed Republican research declaring that the "concentrated assault" on House majority leader Tom DeLay "is largely the work of a shadowy group of liberal organizations, all backed by one man: George Soros."

We'd be more bothered by this if NewsMax actually owned up to its role in attacking Bill Clinton as a part of a "shadowy group" of conservative organizations, all backed by one man: Richard Mellon Scaife. As ConWebWatch first revealed, Scaife is the third-biggest shareholder in NewsMax. Note that this was revealed in 2002; why didn't NewsMax make this public earlier? Sounds pretty darn conspiratorial to us.

A paragraph like "Billionaire George Soros has been working behind the scenes with liberal anti-Bush groups dominated by longtime Democrat activists" can, by subbing Soros for Scaife, Democrat for Republican, liberal for conservative and anti-Bush for anti-Clinton, be made into a pretty accurate description of the main reason why NewsMax was created in the 1990s -- to attack Clinton.

In what might seem to many like a conspiratorial act, NewsMax has been quick to run every Clinton-bashing story that has come down the pike, true or not. Examples of the latter include Bill Clinton's alleged "love child" and a claim that the Clintons were selling their New York house.

The article also describes the Congressional Ethics Coalition, which has criticized DeLay, as "a group of nine left-wing pressure groups."

NewsMax's Wes Vernon echoes the harangue in an April 7 article, noting that "Democrats and a richly financed liberal group are planning an organized smear campaign aimed at discrediting the Texan." But as Media Matters points out, among those so-called "left-wing groups" is Judicial Watch, best known for its myriad lawsuits against the Clintons (and the press releases NewsMax used to run verbatim), and the Campaign Legal Center, whose president, Trevor Potter, is a Republican who worked in the administration of the first President Bush.

But in December 2002, Vernon described how Republicans and richly financed conservatives planned an organized smear campaign against Clinton in much kinder language. Clinton-basher Gary Aldrich, Vernon wrote, "recalled a 1997 meeting in Charleston, S.C., that met to deal with the Clinton scandals. Ultimately, these citizens determination helped lead to the 1998 House vote that made Bill Clinton the only elected impeached president in the nation's history."

Vernon also quotes Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute (where Jeff Gannon received his extensive two-day training to be a "journalist"), as saying that "None of the leftist uproar has contained any evidence he has done anything illegal or violated House rules." Vernon adds his own comment: "People who really know Morton Blackwell will tell you that you can take that to the bank." To "really know Morton Blackwell," all you need to know is that he was the guy handing out Band-Aids with purple hearts on them during the 2004 Republican National Convention to mock John Kerry's military service.

And just in time to provide a fine example of compare-and-contrast, NewsMax launches into a hypocritical defense of DeLay by -- you guessed it -- hauling out the trappings of the ol' vast right-wing conspiracy and trashing Hillary Clinton yet again. An April 11 article recycles the claims of Peter Paul and Aaron Tonken against former Sen. Clinton finance chairman David Rosen, accused of not properly reporting money taken in during a 2000 fund-raiser hosted by Paul and Tonken.

As it has in the past, NewsMax fails to tell its readers that Paul and Tonken are convicted felons who have fleeced celebrities and investors of millions of dollars whose allegations against Rosen and Clinton appear to be motivated in no small part by a desire for shorter jail sentences. The April 11 article makes this lack of disclosure even more unintentionally hilarious by stating at one point, "Lest anyone doubt Mr. Paul's word, there's Aaron Tonken."

That's NewsMax -- where one convicted felon vouches for another convicted felon.

Here's a thought experiment: Try substituting nefarious liberals and Democrats for nefarious conservatives and Republicans, and DeLay for Clinton, throughout NewsMax's stories and see if they don't end up being more accurate. It's easy and fun!

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