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A banner used by NewsMax to push its belief that Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2004 (not to mention copies of its magazine).

NewsMax's Reality Distortion Field

The main qualification to getting published: Say something bad about the Clintons.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/26/2002

If the Drudge Report is the ConWeb's National Enquirer, NewsMax is turning into the equivalent of the Weekly World News.

The Enquirer's whacked-out tabloid sibling requires only a good, grabbing story that'll get people's attention at the supermarket checkout line, regardless of whether the thing is actually true. The same theory applies at NewsMax, where any accusation against Democrats in general and the Clintons in particular are welcome and happily reproduced, truth or fairness be damned.

There are so many examples of NewsMax's Clinton-bashing obsession, and ConWebWatch has documented some of them. Here are a few of the latest:

  • A Feb. 22 article twists a New York Post report on Bill Clinton allegedly seeking an introduction to Yamila Diaz-Rahl, cover girl for the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, into an insinuation that Clinton used the threat of violence against women in the past. "Of course, most of the women who were 'throwing themselves' at Clinton were encouraged to do so by heavily armed Arkansas state troopers," the article states. "Which begs the question: Who's doing the persuading these days when it comes to having young lovelies like Ms. Diaz-Rahl 'duly brought over' to comply with what she's 'given to understand' is 'in order'?"
  • Yet another column, this one by G. Russell Evans, on how horrible the Clintons are and how wonderful George W. Bush is in comparison. Evan's comment, "No amount of polish can shine trash," summarizes the tone of the article.
  • A Feb. 14 article touted an upcoming court hearing in which Gennifer Flowers appeals the dismissal of her libel suit against Hillary Clinton, George Stephanopoulos and James Carville (whom the article calls "beady-eyed"). A Feb. 24 article on the actual hearing is less slanted, but slanted nonetheless.
  • A slanted, one-sided Feb. 12 article touts a report by a Republican congressman that alleges the Clintons underreported the value of gifts while in the White House as a vindication of Linda Tripp. (Insert your own joke here.)
  • A Feb. 6 article is misleadingly headlined, "Daschle, Clinton, Schumer Nix 9/11 Disaster Aid for New York"; it's really about the opposition by Sens. Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer and Tom Daschle to President Bush's economic stimulus package.
  • A Jan. 30 article repeats an allegation made by ex-adviser Dick Morris on the Fox News Channel (two unbiased sources right there, eh?) that Bill Clinton bought "what is in effect a vacation house" with money raised for his presidential library. The article then details just how specious the allegation is. "Morris did not say where the new Clinton home is located or how much it cost," it says, adding that "the top political strategist contended that the home's purchase 'establishes that the money he got in return for (the Marc Rich) pardon was really a bribe'" though no connection is provided between Marc Rich and anything Morris alleges.
  • A Jan. 30 article attempts to deflect attention from the arrest of the daughter of presidential niece Noelle Bush for allegedly forging a prescription by recounting recent events in the life of Roger Clinton. NewsMax did the same thing with President Bush's daughter's alcohol-related run-ins with the law.
  • A Jan. 17 article slams "Sticky Fingers Hillary" for not returning $950 given to her campaign by Enron employees, but fails to report anywhere that she announced she was returning the money a few days later -- not even to try and take credit for it.

Let's not forget, of course, the untrue and unretracted alleged Clinton house sale reported on by Christopher Ruddy himself.

NewsMax did let a very rare story that wasn't irrationally critical of Hillary Clinton slip through recently, a Feb. 24 article (with the curious byline of "Arutz-7") in which she criticizes Yasser Arafat. But because it's apparently written in the NewsMax policy handbook never to let anything positive about a Clinton stand unchallenged, this was quickly followed by a piece detailing Hillary's alleged "anti-Semitic past," including a highly questionable charge of using racial epithets NewsMax pushed a while back.

The sad thing is, NewsMax really believes it's more than a Clinton rumor factory.

A recent letter to NewsMax readers from talk-show host Michael Reagan bears this out. He calls NewsMax "the No. 1 independent news source online" and says NewsMax is the only independent news source ... prominently promoting the vision of Ronald Reagan." Well, at least he admits NewsMax is biased, which is a start.

The main goal of the letter, though, is to encourage its readers to pay for NewsMax's promotion efforts, as it has a history of doing. This time, it's in the form of trying to twist readers' arms into buying subscriptions to NewsMax's magazine for their local libraries.

"NewsMax estimates it needs $200,000 to get its magazine into every library in America. That's not a large amount to reach millions over the course of the next year," Reagan writes. "If NewsMax magazine is in every library, millions will be able to read NewsMax's uncensored news." Not to mention the column Reagan writes for it, so he presumably has a monetary stake in selling more magazines.

The cover of the current issue of NewsMax magazine.

The problem here, of course, is that NewsMax censors the news all the time -- witness its refusal to report on Larry Klayman when he's not going after the Clintons. If you're only telling one side of the story, as NewsMax frequently does, you're presenting biased news. What good does it do for Reagan and NewsMax to complain about "doctrinaire left-wing media" when all they have to offer is doctrinaire right-wing views? If biased news is such a bad thing, why are they doing it?

Alas, NewsMax is so enmeshed in its own biases that it doesn't see them for what they are. Overall, the site is such a shoddy work of alleged journalism that, as Brendan Nyhan writes in the American Prospect, "it's certainly questionable that (Ronald Reagan) would endorse NewsMax magazine as the key to his legacy." It's obviously, however, the legacy that Christopher Ruddy and Michael Reagan want.

NewsMax is a place where, when campaign finance reform is mentioned, "reform" is always in quotation marks. It is a place where Bush's faith-based charities plan is really about stopping "federal discrimination against religious charities," as one recent front-page blurb put it. And it's a place where the Clintons are never less than evil.

It's an amazing distortion field of self-delusion. All the better to sell more magazines.

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