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Do As We Say, Not As We Do: Part 1

Tabloid Trash Is Bad — When It's About Republicans

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/1/2000

NewsMax is down on the supermarket tabloids.

It's not because of the type of sensationalist, rumor-mongering stories they print -- heck, that's the kind of stuff NewsMax runs on.

No, it's political, "Carl Limbacher and Staff" write in a July 30 article. "The tabloids were bought out in recent years by a partnership headed by Clinton confidant and one-time Whitewater figure Roger Altman," they write.

Which, surprisingly, is correct -- with NewsMax, you have to double-check this kind of stuff. The former deputy treasury secretary is indeed head of an investment firm that now owns most of the major tabloids, such as the National Enquirer, Star, Globe and Weekly World News.

As a result of this development, NewsMax asserts, the tabloids are going after Republicans. Never mind that there is no actual evidence of this.

One example given is "a smear piece about Laura Bush." No specific publication, date or allegations that constitute a "smear" are cited. What is probably being referred to here is the revelation that as a teen-ager, the future wife of George W. Bush killed a man in a traffic accident. This story was also reported in publications like the Bushes' home-state Dallas Morning News, nobody's idea of a supermarket tabloid.

Also cited was reporting about National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston's recent stay in rehab for alcohol abuse -- also reported in many "mainstream" publications.

NewsMax doesn't dispute the truth of any of this, by the way -- just the fact that they were reported at all.

"Watch for the liberal media food chain at work," the article huffs. "Smear stories in tabloids that bounce up to the networks."

Funny -- this used to be called the conservative media food chain. After all, NewsMax has had no problem using tabloids as sources when the target is the Clintons.

Carl Limbacher wrote a story Nov. 2, 1998, about Bill Clinton's alleged "love child" in Arkansas, Danny Williams. Where did Limbacher get his information? Fortunately, he tells us:

"The Danny Williams story first broke in the Feb. 18, 1992, issue of the supermarket tabloid magazine the Globe. The Globe catalogued in detail the relationship between Bobbie Ann and Bill Clinton. Globe featured lengthy direct quotes from Danny's mother, who described encounters with Clinton that ranged from furitve oral sex behind the bushes to frolicking threesomes in the cabin owned by the president's late mother, Virginia Kelly."

This is the same NewsMax that wants us to believe, according to that July 30 article, that "during most of the Clinton years, especially pre-Lewinsky, the tabloids stayed far away from political exposés."

NewsMax also turned to the tabloids for another story on Danny (or Danno as he's called here), on Sept. 16, 1999:

"Earlier this year, STAR magazine reported it had investigated rumors that 13-year-old Danno had been fathered by Bill Clinton. The magazine said they had obtained a DNA sample from the boy and compared it to Clinton’s DNA identified in FBI documents provided to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr."

In fact, as recently as January, NewsMax considered supermarket tabloids a reliable source of information, at least about Clinton.

In a Jan. 6 story ostensibly about tidbits from Jeffrey Toobin's book "A Vast Conspiracy," NewsMax wanted to bring its readers' attention to "a little item we wonder if even Mr. Toobin is aware of."

NewsMax then cites an account from the National Enquirer (even helpfully providing the date -- March 24, 1998 -- details they couldn't bother to compile on the so-called Laura Bush "smear") regarding Clinton's alleged affinity for sexual acts involving tobacco products.

And even more recently, on May 11, NewsMax was praising one tabloid's reporting skills at bringing Gennifer Flowers to the nation's attention: "It took the supermarket tabloid Star Magazine to bring Americans the truth about that sex scandal."

Now, all of a sudden, after all the tabloids have done for NewsMax, all the juicy tidbits they've provided, NewsMax wants nothing more to do with them. Such loyalty.

We predict this mood swing will last until the tabloids report the next juicy tidbit on the Clintons or Al Gore.

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