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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 17: Christopher Ruddy, Out-of-Touch Media Elitist

Newsmax's editor hobnobs at a swanky Manhattan restaurant and picks a fight with Oliver Stone.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/14/2001

The tabloidization of NewsMax continues apace, as the place is starting to look like what would happen if R. Emmett Tyrrell ran the New York Post's Page Six (and since he lost effective control of the American Spectator, the Clinton-bashing publication he founded, such a career move is not entirely out of the question).

Instead, NewsMax has its own low-rent Tyrrell in Christopher Ruddy, and he's trying to impress ... well, we don't know who he's trying to impress.

Here's how a Dec. 10 NewsMax article starts out: "Last night NewsMax editor Christopher Ruddy was in Manhattan's trendy downtown Indochine restaurant dining with friends. The table next to his included noted director Oliver Stone and friends. Finally the VRWC had met the VLWC."

The next step, obviously, is for Ruddy to try and pick a fight with Stone, though the NewsMax article puts a much kinder spin on it:

It was an opportune moment for the two sides to meet, and Ruddy raised a concern to Stone dear to his heart: Stone's treatment of Gen. Alexander Haig in his Showtime movie "The Day Reagan Was Shot" -- which had just aired on Sunday.

Previously on NewsMax Ruddy had expressed his view that p.c. history had it all wrong: Haig acted not only properly on the day Reagan was shot, but in the interests of the American people.

Ruddy expressed his perspective to a congenial Stone.

The surprise here is that Stone actually agreed with Ruddy about Haig. But that takes a back seat to Ruddy's hobnobbing and mingling. The article concludes by noting that "Ruddy and Stone were seated near to former CNN reporter Peter Arnett, who was dining with his knockout girlfriend. Arnett told Ruddy he lamented that the American press was not being objective enough and should not be acting as cheerleaders for the government."

The first thing that comes to mind on reading this is: What is the CEO of an so-called news organization that is regularly begging its readers for money (as it has most recently to fund its infomercials) doing hanging out at trendy New York restaurants, especially since his organization is headquartered 1,000-plus miles away in Florida?

The second thing that comes to mind is a survey that conservatives love to cite. Peter Brown, an editor at the Orlando Sentinel, analyzed the home addresses of journalists and concluded that based on the neighborhoods where they live, journalists are out of touch with the "average Americans" they are supposed to be reporting on.

A March 29, 2000, article in the Washington Times (of course) by writer Julia Duin on the survey notes that journalists "mostly populated neighborhoods with cluster names such as 'money and brains' (two-earner couples, expensive condos or town homes, few children, their own hot tub and a yen for jazz and sailing)." Duin summarizes the results thusly:

Unlike huge numbers of middle Americans, journalists rarely frequent yard sales, do home remodeling, use coupons when they shop, or own Chevrolets. But they are more apt to belong to country clubs, have maids, own Mercedes, play racquetball and trade stocks, often because they have few or no children.

Hmmmm ... sounds a lot like Christopher Ruddy, given his little dining escapade, dontcha think? The man is no different than those journalists conservatives love to attack.

My diagnosis: With his big-city schmoozing and NewsMax's West Palm Beach address, it appears Mr. Ruddy is forgetting about his loyal readers, many of whom couldn't afford to look inside the door at the type of chi-chi Gotham eateries he apparently frequents. It sounds like someone is in need of a good, healthy dinner at Ryan's, of which there are a few in Florida (though nowhere near Palm Beach.) I'll even buy, even though my bank account and lifestyle is much closer to the middle-America stereotype Peter Brown portrays than his description of a highfalutin journalist.

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