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One Close-Up, Coming Right Up!

NewsMax attacks "The Hunting of the President" again, forgetting that nobody has ever proved the authors wrong.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 1/3/2002

NewsMax has developed a yet another way to insult those with whom it disagrees -- the Left Coast Report, which it calls "a political view of Hollywood."

Written mainly by James Hirsen (NewsMax bills him as "Dr. James Hirsen," but it's a Ph.D., not an M.D.) it's a rather unoriginal exercise at taking unoriginal potshots at the shooting-fish-in-a-barrel easy target of Tinseltown. This puts Hirsen in the same league as the Media Research Center's Brent Baker and his equally lame Clinton sex jokes. (What is it about conservative "humor," anyway?) Strangely, NewsMax thinks enough of this feature to send it out each week to everyone on its e-mail list, the only regular feature for which NewsMax does this.

Typical is this tidbit from the Nov. 27 edition:
Hollywood producers Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth Thomason have decided to try and direct the public’s attention toward something more meaningful during these troubled times: Building the ex-president’s legacy.

According to the Washington Times, the Thomasons think they may have found the next "Harry Potter” in a movie version of a book about the Clintons.

There were so many titles to choose from, but only one appears to stand out as adequate enough for the important task at hand.

The literary choice is "The Hunting of the President: The Ten Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton,” by Joe Conason and Gene Lyon (sic).

The Left Coast Report suspects that the Thomasons are going to indulge in a bit more fantasy than J.K. Rowling did.

A couple interesting things here -- that is, aside from the sneering attitude (which really isn't that interesting since it's not exactly a departure from the NewsMax stylebook) and the typo in Gene Lyons' name. The first is that Hirsen pulled his story from the Washington Times. Hirsen must not read the works of his employer because NewsMax had the very same story on Oct. 23, more than a month earlier.

The second is the parting shot about "fantasy." Despite all the attacks from the likes of NewsMax, Conason and Lyons' book on the motley assortment of folks who plotted to smear and bring down the Clintons has yet to be proven wrong on any major statement of fact.

Just about the only statement that has been disputed in any fashion is an account of Christopher Ruddy (then investigative reporter for Richard Mellon Scaife and now the CEO of NewsMax) and Wall Street Journal writer Micah Morrison "swaggering around the fishing camp (of Parker Dozhier, the bait-shop owner who was one of the main Arkansas sources for the American Spectator's infamous dirt-digging "Arkansas Project" boondoggle), carrying the semiautomatic pistols Dozhier furnished them on the pretext that their lives were in danger. Morrison in particular ... was prone to making noisy displays of his dislike for Clinton in Hot Springs restaurants and other public places."

Ruddy "says none of it ever happened," but can't be bothered to actually say it himself, speaking instead through a column by NewsMax writer John LeBoutillier, who asserts that the book "should be listed in the fiction category" but provides no evidence to support this claim. Ruddy, likewise, offers no alternative account of his behavior.

Morrison, meanwhile, provided a hilariously parsed non-denial denial in the April 20, 2000, Wall Street Journal: “...This writer never was ‘swaggering’ around a Hot Springs fishing camp carrying ‘semiautomatic pistols’ or ‘making noisy public displays’ of dislike toward President Clinton in ‘public places’ -- or anywhere else for that matter.” He then tries to discredit the person Conason and Lyons used as a source for the incident, Parker Dozhier's then-girlfriend.

This minor dispute is pretty much all anyone has read about "The Hunting of the President" on the ConWeb as everyone else chose to ignore the book. If there were major problems with it, certainly someone would have raised a big stink by now, as opposed to the minor flatulence of Ruddy and Morrison.

Back to that Oct. 23 NewsMax article: It runs through the usual attacks on Clinton and the Thomasons, then interestingly concludes: "We're ready for our close-up, Mr. DeMille."

Really? Does that mean Ruddy will tell us why he and anti-Clinton filmmaker Pat Matrisciana were sitting on a bank account that at one time held $3 million, as Conason and Lyons reported in their book? Will Ruddy tell us where that money went, and how much of it went toward the creation of NewsMax? And just how much of the money behind NewsMax belongs to Richard Mellon Scaife, whom Lyons has called the Scrooge McDuck of the right wing?

If nothing else, a "Hunting of the President" movie would be more cinematic that the ConWeb's tired Clinton-bashing and more entertaining and informative than NewsMax's infomercials.

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