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Land of Confusion

NewsMax gets its biases mixed up with reality. A lot.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/24/2002

NewsMax gets confused about a lot of things. The biggest thing, of course, is confusing partisan rumor-mongering for real journalism. The boys have had a heavy bout of confusion. Here are a few of the concepts they get all mixed up about:

Legitimate criticism of Bush for an excuse to go Clinton-bashing. NewsMax, of course, confuses a lot of things for an excuse to go Clinton-bashing. This time, Christopher Ruddy starts off a May 17 column about allegations that President Bush may have had some advance warning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by saying "Don't get me wrong. I believe this president – and every president – should be held accountable to the American people for all the things that happen under his watch," but by the end, it's clear he doesn't mean it:

The serious issue is not what the president knew and when he knew it.

The real question is why the American media gave Bill Clinton a free ride for eight years while he plundered national treasures such as the Lincoln Bedroom, politicized the FBI, gave away our nuclear and ballistic secrets to China, led the most corrupt administration in history – and yet and yet and yet, the liberal media have never viewed any of this as important.

Of course. Deflect attention from any criticism of Bush by dragging out that old Clinton warhorse. But the funniest part of Ruddy's article is when he says, "But I also believe the media should have demanded accountability immediately after 9-11." Well, the media did try to do that, and NewsMax called them traitors. For Ruddy, "accountability" is fine just as long as Bush isn't the one who gets held "accountable."

18-year-old gossip for today's news. This is also a fine example of that ol' unjournalistic NewsMax bias at its finest. The boys played down what would normally be a huge story for NewsMax -- an American appearing live and uncensored on Cuban TV talking about freedom and touting a Cuban group seeking a nationwide referendum on democracy -- because the American involved was Jimmy Carter. Instead, NewsMax pushed an article taken from a tabloid that features a photo of Carter "in a compromising position with a scantily clad former lady friend." (NewsMax must be back on speaking terms with the tabloids this week.)

The hosts of a CNN opinion show for CNN. Writer Chuck Noe can't quite figure out that the CNN show "Crossfire" is an opinion show and not a news show. This caused him, in an April 27 piece, to take a report that the liberal half of "Crossfire," James Carville and Paul Begala, has met with Democratic and liberal political operatives to allegedly plan operations "to thwart President Bush's agenda" and make yet another indictment of the entire network for so-called "blatant left-wing bias."

"It’s no wonder that conservatives, libertarians and independents refer to CNN as Clinton News Network or Communist News Network. Even with Bush-hating, Christian-bashing founder Ted Turner put out to pasture, CNN continues its partisan attacks," Noe writes. He also calls Carville "beady-eyed" and Begala "hapless."

Earth to Chuck: "Crossfire" has never pretended to be anything other than an opinion show, and they have never pretended to speak for the network except in Noe's fevered, mean-spirited mind. And Noe forgets that Carville and Begala have two conservatives, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson, balancing them on the show.

Unreliable, easily manipulated polls for real ones. In the midst of rumors that NBC was considering having Bill Clinton host some sort of talk show, NewsMax reported the results of an MSNBC opt-in online poll that showed "a solid majority turning thumbs down on the idea." (If you consider 52 percent a "solid majority," that is.)

NewsMax loves to do kind of thing, reporting opt-in polls as legitimate ones, even as they plug a book that criticizes how the media uses polls. Needless to say, it doesn't bother to tell readers that opt-in poll results can be easily manipulated, either by multiple voting or by ideologues -- like, say, the folks at Free Republic -- getting their friends together to vote and skew the results.

And guess what? It appears the Freepers made an effort at skewing the MSNBC poll. But NewsMax won't tell you that, either, despite the fact they are likely aware of these skews.

NewsMax admitted as much in an April 17 article on another opt-in poll, this one on whether Bush was "tipped off ahead of time" to the Sept. 11 attacks, in which NewsMax professes to be shocked at the "astonishingly high level of support" -- 46 percent -- to the allegations made by Rep. Cynthia McKinney. (On the other hand, "A slim majority - 52 percent - said they were fully satisfied that Bush officials had no advanced warning." Gee, that number was a "solid majority" before.)

The article notes that " tracked results throughout the morning, with posters there encouraging visitors to vote against McKinney."

So NewsMax knows opt-in polls are bogus and manipulated, but it pretends they aren't. Just who is trying to create a "Mobocracy" here?

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