Sweetheart, Get Them Rewrite!
NewsMax stumbles upon a normal journalistic practice, but some Judicial Watch press releases are still more equal than others.
By Terry Krepel
Is NewsMax, not exactly known for any resemblence to actual journalism, sneaking some actual journalists in? It would appear so, based on one recent story.
A June 12 article goes to the well for an old favorite, the Judicial Watch press release -- this one on alleged "massive election finance fraud" committed by the Clintons. But instead of reposting the release verbatim and unedited, as has been standard NewsMax practice, some industrious, anonymous soul (as an "Inside Cover" story, it gets the standard "Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com Staff" byline) has rewritten it into a form that actually somewhat resembles a news story in inverted-pyramid format. Granted, it's not standard journalism to the extent that it includes any sort of rebuttal to the allegations -- this is still NewsMax, after all, and views opposite of the hard-right conservative orthodoxy that the Clintons are pure evil are not permitted -- but it reads surprisingly well for a NewsMax story.
(How entrenched is NewsMax's Clinton-hating orthodoxy? A June 25 story stomps on John McCain for committing the sin of praising Bill Clinton's political skills.)
This spasm of attemped journalism is quite recent; in fact, we can narrow down when it occured -- between May 30 and June 12. How do we know? Because May 30 is when the previous Judicial Watch press release-based NewsMax article appeared.
That article is actually two press releases cobbled together. The first part of the article details with planned legal action against the Republican National Committee for a fund-raiser held at the home of Vice President Dick Cheney. It is not only a typical cut-and-paste job of the type NewsMax has historically done with JW press releases, it also inserts a little lie.
The second paragraph reads: "The event illegally used federal property for political fund-raising, the firm said today." Wrong. The firm "said" this on May 22, when Judicial Watch's press release on the matter was originally released. NewsMax was eight days late reporting on this -- it has tried to ignore or downplay Judicial Watch's recent actions against Republicans -- and sticking "today" on an eight-day-old statement is simply an effort to make the story look more timely than it is.
The second part of the article, about former attorney general Janet Reno getting served with papers for a Judicial Watch lawsuit (because another NewsMax orthodoxy is that any criticism of Republican behavior must be equivocated with something Democrats did, only worse), is also a cut-and-paste job, but at least the use of "today" here is accurate. One other odd thing: Parts of the story that were taken word-for-word from the press release have quote marks around them, but they aren't attributed at all, not even to the press release.
Maybe the new guy who's punching up those Judicial Watch press releases for NewsMax can help out with some basic copy editing as well.