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Update: So, Which Is It?

Dick Morris can't decide how to cash in on his Clinton experience. Plus: NewsMax accuses others of bias; MRC frowns on CNN's self-promotion; NewsMax plays the discrediting game; a spasm of outrage over eminent domain; and more.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 8/16/2002

NewsMax and Dick Morris continue to prove they are a match made in heaven -- or, at least, the ConWeb's view of it. Their spin and distortion abilities and general disregard for the full truth complement each other perfectly.

An Aug. 7 article is a prime example of this synergy. In the midst of furious spinning to counter a Time magazine article stating that the Bush administration did nothing with an Clinton administration plan to deal with al-Qaida, NewsMax cites yet another bogus online poll in which 85 percent of respondents agreed the Time article was "wrong."

On whose site was that meaningless poll? None other than, which according to the article is "operated by former White House pollster and chief political adviser Dick Morris, on whose expertise the Clintons relied from their earliest days in Arkansas politics right through the Monica Lewinsky imbroglio." (The folks at Free Republic regularly skew, or "freep," polls.)

Sounds like Morris is pretty proud of his work with Clinton. That, however, contradicts an earlier statement that he "has expressed remorse for helping Bill Clinton. He now believes that both Bill and Hillary should be investigated and, if found guilty, prosecuted." NewsMax is currently flogging an audio interview with Morris in which the "former campaign adviser and one of their closest confidants has just spilled the beans" about the Clintons, "revealing some of their deepest secrets." Needless to say, don't expect it to be complementary of the Clintons.

And that bit about helping Clinton "right through the Monica Lewinsky imbroglio" sounds a bit impossible given that Morris left the Clinton White House in 1996, two years before the Lewinsky "imbroglio" went public.

If Morris despises the Clintons so much -- as he clearly does, to the extent of making money off it -- why let NewsMax put up a facade of "expertise" and Clinton chuminess for the purpose of spinning a story?

Oh yeah, we remember now. You can't trust a thing either Morris or NewsMax say.

* * *

There's something so completely pot-kettle-black about NewsMax accusing another media organization of bias, but it doesn't stop NewsMax from doing it.

Columnist John Perry takes another stab at it (remember how he did last time he tried) in a July 29 piece bashing the New York Times. In it, he makes statements like, "It was the New York Times' arrogance that compelled it to assume that it, better than anyone else in the world, knows how to conduct U.S. foreign policy" and "They were a-crawl with the maggots of unattributed sources 'who spoke on the condition of anonymity'" and "So giddy is the Gray Old Lady to dictate terms of war and peace that it has abandoned all pretense of segregating, in the time-honored tradition of genuine journalism, straight news from Times-management editorial and opposite-editorial page commentary" and "No one gives two hoots anymore what the ownership of the Times thinks or cares about any subject."

Substitute "NewsMax" for all those references to the Times, and Perry might get closer to the truth.

* * *

It takes so little for the Media Research Center to work up its outrage. The latest offender: CNN, for daring to engage in self-promotion.

At issue was a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press that concluded, among other things, that CNN rated highest of the major TV news outlets as "the most believable television news source." Heck, who wouldn't want to promote that?

What mattered to MRC, according to an Aug. 5 "Media Reality Check," was what CNN didn't promote: "that CNN’s overall 'credibility' rating of 37% was lower than it was in earlier polls (42% found CNN credible back in ‘98, for example)" and that "CNN star Aaron Brown ranked near the bottom of broadcast and cable news anchors in terms of 'believability' (only Geraldo Rivera was less believable)" (the fact-bending Rivera, you'll recall, works for Fox News Channel) and that the gist of the survey was that it documented an overall decline of trust in the media.

Well, what a shock. If it's now mandatory that media organizations must give prominent play to things that are uncomplementary to it, the folks at MRC subsidiary had better run out (of, more accurately, run down the hall to Brent Bozell's office) and do a story on the $3.5 million settlement fellow MRC subsidiary Parents Television Council agreed to pay to World Wrestling Entertainment for blaming it for the deaths of a number of children.

If Fox News Channel was named "most believable" (it was tied with ABC for last place with 24%) and was promoting it the same way CNN did, we suspect MRC wouldn't be getting its panties in a bunch about it glossing over Rivera finishing dead last in believability.

* * *

Remember when the ConWeb accused the Clinton administration of dragging up the sordid pasts of various accusers in an effort to discredit them? For instance, NewsMax considered it a "smear" when the Clinton administration released letters by Kathleen Willey were laudatory of Bill Clinton at the time Willey was accusing Clinton of making a sexual advance toward her. And WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah said that when 29-year-old evidence that Linda Tripp lied on her Pentagon resume surfaced during her period of notoriety as betrayer of Monica Lewinsky's confidence, it was a "reprisal."

NewsMax picked up the lesson well. Its first story on the $78 million jury verdict handed down at the end of July against an investment firm owned by California Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon for essentially running a man's company into the ground focuses on history of the man who won the verdict. The story's second paragraph brings the first of many references to "convicted drug lord Paul Edward Hindelang," the man whose company was bought by Simon's firm.

A couple days later, the spinning was on as an Aug. 4 NewsMax story euphamistically called the eight-digit verdict an "adverse jury ruling" in its headline, then made sure to refer to Hindelang once again as a "convicted drug lord."

Never mind that said drug conviction was more than 20 years ago and Hindelang served 2 1/2 years in prison for the crime, long since paying his debt to society. Never mind that drugs had nothing all to do with his company, except for Simon firing Hindelang from the company upon learning of his conviction.

An Aug. 12 story continues on that track, claiming the "ultra-liberal Los Angeles Times" didn't report on "trial evidence that clearly contradicts some of the charges against the Republican hopeful." (Needless to say, Hindelang's "past as a convicted drug dealer" also rates a mention.) Of course, it doesn't matter at this point what the Los Angeles Times thinks of the evidence; it matters what a jury thought of it, and apparently it didn't think much of it to have ruled against Simon's firm.

Smears and reprisals and discrediting people. That's the NewsMax we know and love.

* * *

A couple months back, the ConWeb had a spasm of outrage about the issue of eminent domain, the taking of private property for public purposes. It wouldn't have been noticed even by the ConWeb except for the fact that there was a case in which a church was involved.

The specific issue here was that the city of Cypress, Calif., wanted to take 18 acres owned by a church (barren land the church was planning to build a new facility on) as part of a plan by the city to develop a shopping center. wrote five stories on the situation, three of them in a four-day period in May. WorldNetDaily wrote a story and two writers, Joel Miller and Hugh Hewitt, wrote opinion columns. The theme: Not only was taking land from a church a bad thing (one CNS story quotes a state assemblyman as saying, "If you look at the Soviet Union, Stalin seized churches to make them museums. In the city of Cypress, they are seizing a church to turn it into a Costco. ... It appears Stalin even had a higher purpose") the whole idea of eminent domain is, in the words of WND's Miller, "legalized stealing." There is a debate to be had about the use of a government's power of eminent domain for what will eventually become privately owned developments, but the ConWeb has shown no interest in having one.

How do we know? May was the last the ConWeb delved into the issue. Since then? Nothing -- no stories either place, even though a judge issued an injunction Aug. 6 against the city, according to the church. The story served its news-cycle outrage purpose, and now it's gone.

Come to think of it, we also haven't seen a thing on the use of eminent domain to take property in Arlington, Texas, for a new baseball stadium for the Texas Rangers during the time George W. Bush was a part-owner of the team. Speaking of governmental power used for private developments...

* * *

WorldNetDaily's Paul Sperry wrote a 25-paragraph above-the-nameplate article Aug. 12 in order to contradict one single "whopper" of a statement Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe told on one of those Sunday morning talk shows.

Can we expect this same kind of hard-hitting investigation by Sperry and WND of Ann Coulter's multiple lies and distortions in her book "Slander"? Don't count on it. WND has stacks of autographed copies of "Slander" to move.

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