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Sucking Up To Arnaud

NewsMax plugs a book that just happens to have been written by the wife of a NewsMax board member.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/12/2001

NewsMax doesn't do book reviews.

That is, unless it has a reason to. Ideology is the big one, of course; most recently, editor/CEO Christopher Ruddy slobbered with praise over a book of Ronald Reagan's writings. And it has its own self-published book, "Bitter Legacy," to flog. However, NewsMax pretty much tried to ignore "The Hunting of the President" by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, in which Ruddy is featured.

But on April 8, a new "book review" surfaced on NewsMax, for the book "Villard: The Life and Times of an American Titan," about 19th-century industrialist Henry Villard. It's published not by the right-wingers at Regnery but by the very mainstream Doubleday. The links for purchasing the book take one to, not the NewsMax store. The co-author, John Cullen, seems to have a good reputation in translating works of literature (some of Villard's original memoirs were originally in German). In short, not the type of book one normally hears about on NewsMax.

Unless you notice the other co-author, Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave, great-granddaughter of Henry Villard. At the end of the article, in the last sentence of her short bio, is the reason for this "review's" existence on NewsMax: "She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Arnaud de Borchgrave."

Arnaud de Borchgrave, former editor of the Washington Times and current managing editor of United Press International -- both owned by a unit of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church -- is on the NewsMax board of directors.

That's not all. The entire "review" is taken word-for-word from the press kit for the book, which Doubleday reproduces on its web site. This is highly reminicient of NewsMax's habit of reproducing Judicial Watch press releases with NewsMax bylines.

This "review" is, for all practical purposes, an ad. But nowhere is it described as such.

Is this the kind of journalism Arnaud de Borchgrave would approve of? He must; otherwise he wouldn't be on the NewsMax board. And we wouldn't be seeing UPI's tilt rightward (described earlier).

(Update: Then again, maybe not. Brill's Content reports that de Borchgrave abruptly resigned as CEO of UPI in December; he retains the title of editor at large. His replacement for now is Douglas Joo, CEO of News World Communications, the parent company of UPI and the Washington Times. Joo has no training in journalism, and his spokesman says he gives interviews only to publications owned by News World.)

Pushing de Borchgrave's wife's book could very well be the price NewsMax pays for receiving UPI wire copy, which NewsMax then slants even further rightward.

And NewsMax still doesn't do book reviews.

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