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Profiles in Hypocrisy: Volume Two

The ConWeb looks goofy about Paul Krugman, cartoons, the opposition -- and themselves.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/25/2002

The latest from the front lines of hypocrisy on the ConWeb.

The hypocrite: NewsMax.

What it did: Spend an entire Oct. 11 article unloading all over New York Times columnist Paul Krugman for a column the same day criticizing President Bush and SEC chairman Harvey Pitt for allegedly derailing the appointment of John Biggs to head a new federal accounting oversight board.

Why it's a hypocrite (this time, anyway): It's not often you find multiple hypocrisies in one article -- it hits the trifecta, to coin a phrase -- but NewsMax pulled it off. First, "Carl Limbacher and Staff" only wails on the first half of Krugman's column; the second half is devoted to alleged shady dealings by Harken Energy while Bush was on its board of directors. Nary a word is said about that part.

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Profiles in Hypocrisy

Second, NewsMax tries to pin some hypocrisy on Krugman by complaining that he rails against excessive corporate perks but "fails to mention Enron's generosity in paying him 50 grand of the stockholders' money for doing nothing, which is what he says he did." Of course, Krugman disclosed that months ago, when the Enron scanal first broke. That's more direct financial disclosure than NewsMax has ever done about itself. You can find more information about NewsMax's finances on ConWebWatch than you can on NewsMax.

And then there's NewsMax's parting paragraph: "If the Times were the least bit honest, they'd put a notation at the bottom of Krugman's column identifying it as "an unpaid political advertisement for the Marxist wing of the Democratic Party." We'll consider lobbying for that -- but only if NewsMax would put at the end of every article it publishes the following statement: "This article is a Richard Mellon Scaife-financed political advertisement for the Clinton-obsessed right wing of the Republican Party."

Assuming, of course, that NewsMax was genuinely interested in honest journalism.

* * *

The hypocrite: NewsMax, again.

What it did: A Sept. 30 article by Dave Eberhart hypes's retraction of an article linking Army Secretary Thomas White to creative accounting at Enron, his former employer. It somehow made it through the NewsMax editing process (assuming NewsMax has one; after all, running Judcial Watch press releases under NewsMax bylines was once standard practice) without "blatantly pro-Clinton" or "left-leaning" being inserted before "," as it has done in the past.

Why he's a hypocrite (this time, anyway): After the article's appearance, I sent the following e-mail to NewsMax head Christopher Ruddy:

I read the NewsMax story on Salon's retraction of a story whose accuracy it lost faith in with interest. Does this mean readers can expect a similarly public retraction from NewsMax when it gets a story wrong, as you did Dec. 19, 2000, when you falsely asserted that the Clintons were selling their Chappaqua house? Last I checked, they still own it, so the story -- still freely available on NewsMax -- must be corrected or retracted.

Salon has proved itself to be a responsible news organization by doing the right thing on a story it couldn't verify. Can we expect the same behavior from NewsMax?

Ruddy has yet to write back.

* * *

The hypocrite:

What it did: A Sept. 27 story by Marc Morano takes a look at the "censorship" of Warner Bros. and other cartoons produced from the 1930s to 1950s for racial stereotypes, which one interviewee blames on "a politically correct white mentality." Taken to its extreme, the interviewee said, the future is "going to look like SpongeBob SquarePants. Let's make it about something that can't be offensive."

Why it's a hypocrite (this time, anyway): Morano neglected to walk down the hall at CNS parent Media Research Center and check in with the Parents Television Council, which is all about complaning that TV shows aren't censored enough and dedicated to elminiating Brent Bozell's idea of "offensive" content from TV. Apparently, some "censored" content is more equal than others.

* * *

The hypocrite: Media Research Center.

What it did: As part of its effort to criticize any news outlet who dares to point out opposition to the Bush administration (and MRC) line on the inevitable upcoming conflict with Iraq, it noted in an Oct. 14 "Media Reality Check" that amid the TV networks' allegedly disproportionate coverage given to said opponents was the reporting of "a mean-spirted ad hominem attack on Bush from Representative Pete Stark (D-CA): 'You are giving an inexperienced, desperate young man in the White House the execution lever to kill thousands of Americans.'"

Why it's a hypocrite (this time, anyway):< The MRC thought mean-spirited ad hominem attacks were just fine a couple days earlier, when it proudly reported in an Oct. 11 CyberAlert -- and later at the top of its home page -- that Bernard Goldberg called Phil Donahue "delusional" for arguing that the media is not as liberally biased as Goldberg and the MRC thinks it is. And where would MRC head Brent Bozell -- who has a history smearing people he doesn't like with terms like "politicial prostitute" and "pathetic little man" -- be if his organization banned mean-spirited ad hominem attacks?

* * *

The hypocrite: WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah.

What he did: In yet another plug for WND's book division in general and its new Katherine Harris book in particular, Farah spends his Oct. 22 column trying to convince us once more that WND is "fiercely independent." He says WND is successful "because we do the job the media are supposed to do – rooting out fraud, waste, abuse and corruption without compromise and without playing favorites."

Why he's a hypocrite (this time, anyway): That, of course, is a lie. WND plays favorites all the time, Katherine Harris and Jesse Lee Peterson being just two of them. Contributions to WND's bottom line, as Harris and Peterson do, certainly appear to be a factor in the favorite-playing process. How bad is it? Farah's even going the NewsMax "audio-interview" route; WND's currently throwing in an "exclusive audiotape interview" of Harris conducted by Farah with a purchase of the Harris book from the WND store. Among the things promised on the tape: "Hear what Harris' agenda is once she is elected to the House of Representatives." Gee, shouldn't Harris be letting her would-be constituents know about this in person instead of making them buy her book to hear it?

Add another favorite to the list: the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative legal group that, coincidentially, assisted WND with its legal efforts to get that coveted Senate Press Gallery pass. Over the past few months, WND has been doing PR work -- er, reporting on several cases the USJF have been involved with. In the past month alone, these have included stories on a battle over frozen embryos, a fourth-grade class' planned celebration of the Mexican "day of the dead" and the group's concern over's sale of books that, in its words, allegedly "contribute to the potential rape and molestation of children."

And on Oct. 9, WND tried to portray a monetary judgement against USJF for filing frivolous motions in its defense of an anti-abortion protester accused of harrassment as "crippling" and would lead to USJF's "viability" being "threatened." The amount of this "crippling" judgement? $60,000. By comparison, the conservatives over at Brent Bozell's Parents Television Council paid $3.5 million to World Wrestling Entertainment for slanderously badmouthing it, and no one's complained about the PTC's "viability" being affected. Certainly all that conservative money that used to go to Judicial Watch before Larry Klayman started suing Republicans can be funneled USJF's way.

"Fiercely independent" reporting or "playing favorites"? You decide. And ask yourself: Would WND be reporting so much on the USJF if it hadn't done work for WND?

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