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Florida Update: What Looks Like Journalism On A NewsMax Day

Lies, distortions and laziness, sure, but don't call it journalism.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/28/2000

The latest in what passes for journalism at NewsMax:

Faulty polls reported as news. "The American people overwhelmingly want Al Gore to shut up and go away, if a Fox News poll is any indication," a Nov. 27 story tells us, noting that more than 90 percent of the poll's respondents want Gore to concede.

What NewsMax doesn't tell readers is that the Fox poll is an opt-in poll that allows anyone to vote as many times as they want, which leaves the results open to manipulation.

And indeed, the results are manipulated. Aside from the inherent bias of the poll residing at the home of the network that hired George W. Bush's partisan cousin to interpret election results, the poll has also gotten the Free Republic treatment. One hobby of the conservative site's denziens is rallying fellow members into skewing the results of opt-in, multiple-vote polls like the one at Fox News, which they refer to as "freeping."

As a result, polls like this are absolutely unreliable as a gauge of public opinion. Not that NewsMax cares, of course. "Al - it's the 'will of the people,' which you profess to care so much about," the story concludes.

No -- it's the will of conservative Net surfers at a conservative web site. Nothing else.

Creating lies and ignoring the truth. Another Nov. 27 story taken from a show on -- you guessed it -- Fox News Channel quotes a pollster named John McLaughlin as saying that 187,000 people who could have voted in Florida's panhandle did not because "the TV networks mistakenly called the election for Vice President Al Gore an hour before all the state's polls had closed."

This lie was debunked long ago. The networks called Florida for Gore a mere 11 minutes before polls closed in the panhandle.

More inability to cover its own back yard. A Nov. 25 story alleges "explicit statistical evidence of massive ballot tampering in Palm Beach, Fla.," quoting "expert statistician Robert Cook." (Not actual evidence, mind you, just a statistical theory.) NewsMax is headquarted in West Palm Beach.

And where did NewsMax find out about this? From the Michael Reagan talk show, not the reporting work of its own staff.

Given NewsMax's record on reporting election news of national interest occuring in the county its offices are located in, one wonders what its reporters do all day because it sure as heck isn't reporting.

Shoddy reporting. Then again, maybe NewsMax reporters shouldn't be reporting at all. A Nov. 27 story alleges "one outrageous case after another of tampered ballots, miscounts and bias in the recount in Democrat-dominated Broward County," citing "exclusive interviews over the holiday weekend."

The story quotes and attributes variously "one Republican recount observer," "an observer" and "a witness," among other variations. But the story is written in such a way that one person could be making all of the allegations; it's never explicitly stated.

Also missing from the story is any attempt to explain the alleged actions as anything other than "questionable and outright fraudulent practices," nor is there any attempt to get any sort of comment or explanation from a Broward County election official, which good journalism as practiced by news organizations other than NewsMax would dictate.

On the other hand... There's one positive note to add on recent NewsMax coverage, though: They seem to have at last abandoned its practice of passing off Judicial Watch press releases as its own stories. A Nov. 27 story on Judicial Watch starting its own recount in Florida is taken from -- and properly credited to --

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