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Stop Making Sense

NewsMax gets intolerant, contradictory and just plain incoherent.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/12/2002

NewsMax's violations of basic journalistic standards of honesty and fairness are nothing new. Now, they're violating the rules of logic.

The site's penchant for believing that any criticism of President Bush is akin to treason -- last seen directed at Bill Maher and others just after Sept. 11 -- has surfaced again. This time, it's Tom Daschle who's the target.

In a March 2 screed -- oops, "news analysis" -- writer Chuck Noe is torqued off that "plurality leader" Daschle wouldn't apologize for "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" by suggesting that the war on terrorism is being expanded without a clear direction and that it would be a failure if Osama bin Laden and other top terror leaders aren't captured or killed. Mentioning "the sing-song little-boy voice he uses when talking to reporters," Noe continues:

In a televised "news conference" Friday that looked more like a lecture, reporters were shown lapping up Daschle's comments without challenge. The South Dakota leftist got away with saying he had not criticized the president Thursday, even though he had said, during wartime, that "the continued success, I think, is still somewhat in doubt."

Then he portrayed his morale-destroying potshots as patriotic. ... As usual, he continued to fail to offer any suggestions on how he would get Osama bin Laden or win the war on terrorism.

Noe, meanwhile, wants us to "contrast those bare-knuckles tactics with the White House's immediate caving Thursday after press secretary Ari Fleischer merely hinted at a well-known fact: the desperate-for-a-legacy Clinton administration's pushy, and failed, interference in the Middle East." Noe (as usual, one might say) failed to explain why Fleischer's criticism is a "well-known fact"; apparently, in the little ConWeb world Noe inhabits, it's another "well-known fact" that if a Clinton is involved, it must be a failure and no explanation is necessary.

Another NewsMax writer, John Perry, likens Daschle to bin Laden and Saddam Hussein for doing anything that might affect the"unprecedented popularity and confidence this president now enjoys with the majority of the American people."

Meanwhile, we turn to Christopher Ruddy for the proper NewsMax way to criticize a Republican: not at all.

Ruddy wrote a three-part series on "the new war on freedom." Part one, of course, was dedicated to Clinton-bashing, but he promised the next part would be about how "New War Means Loss of Freedom," which involves the administration currently in power. Ruddy does indeed spend part two criticizing the post-Sept. 11 USA Patriot Act, which he calls "just one in a tidal wave of authoritarian new laws and regulations being enacted in the name of "combating terrorism" that actually do much more to threaten our freedom."

But strangely, he doesn't criticize Republicans over the bill's passage, even though it was approved by a Republican-majority House and an almost-Republican-majority Senate and signed by a Republican president. Instead he offers this statement: "I am not so worried the Bush administration will abuse the sweeping powers given government in the wake of Sept. 11. I am worried about a future administration, President Hillary Clinton perhaps, holding such powers."

That's ConWeb logic for you: anything to avoid having to criticize a Republican, even if you have to distract your readers by dragging out the old Hillary-for-president bogeyman.

Speaking of Hillary, NewsMax is so desperate to keep up its anti-Hillary harangues that it contradicts itself. A March 4 slam makes fun of her for being angry over not being told that government officials believed that terrorist had gotten hold of a nuclear bomb and hoped to detonate it in New York City. "It's not clear what Sen. Clinton would have done had she been notified of the nuke threat - beyond high-tailing it out of New York to leave her adopted state to face the radioactive music on its own."

Actually, last fall she was pushing for an expansion of the emergency evacuation zone for a New York nuclear plant, which would have put New York City in the zone. But NewsMax made fun of that, too. Whoops.

But who cares about logical oopsies -- they'd rather have it both ways. A March 6 story congratulates on-again, off-again buddy Judicial Watch for its work in getting federal officials to release papers related to Vice Presdient Dick Cheney's energy task force, noting the victory has the "liberal media" taking notice.

What NewsMax doesn't remind its readers is that up until now it has not only all but ignored this story, not to mention most every Judicial Watch action taken against Republicans and the Bush administration, NewsMax writers have previously defended Cheney's efforts to keep his papers secret.

Then, there are the times when NewsMax abandons logic completely and just babbles.

The next day, NewsMax had a story headlined "CNN Stops Censoring Jackson Bio," accusing CNN of doing to an unflattering book about Jesse Jackson what it has done to Larry Klayman and Co. on Judicial Watch's legal work against Republicans.

A point-bereft Feb. 27 article unloads (blanks, mostly) on "the serpentine James Carville and his sleazy companion in slander, Paul Begala" for joining a revamped, live-audience version of CNN's "Crossfire." NewsMax, for some reason, is offended by the idea of "a full hour of political mud wrestling with two of the dirtiest fighters in the slime pit, with a studio audience expected to hoot, holler and hiss ..." And how would that tone be any different from any given day at NewsMax?

Finally, a March 2 piece attacking the New York Times' Frank Rich (whom NewsMax calls a "drama-critic-turned-Marxist-pundit") for suggesting that the death of reporter Daniel Pearl at the hands of terrorists in Pakistan might cause conservatives get away from their liberal-bias canard contains the following key rebuttal: "After all this time, Mr. Rich still can't understand that the target of (Bernard) Goldberg's book ("Bias") - and William McGowan's 'Coloring The News' - is not 'reporters' but the incredible liberal bias many of his colleagues in the media display - 'to excess' in their slanted coverage of the news."

Huh? Apparently reporters have no role in coverage of the news. And never mind that in his book, Goldberg does indeed target at least one reporter for alleged bias in his book, former CBS colleague Eric Engberg -- more than a little inaccurately, the Daily Howler points out.

But hey, what's logic and accuracy when there are non-conservatives to be attacked?

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