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Perle Droppings

NewsMax whines that nobody has reported that Richard Perle was cleared of a conflict-of-interest charge, despite its own silence when people named Clinton are cleared of allegations.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/3/2003

Beware when NewsMax gets offended, because it's usually for behavior in others that NewsMax itself has quietly engaged in, but won't admit in public.

Take, for instance, a Nov. 26 piece claiming offense that "the media" -- and when NewsMax talks about "the media," the word "liberal" is implied between those two words -- has not sufficiently reported to NewsMax's satisfaction the apparent clearing of Richard Perle, neoconservative hero and one of the architects of the U.S. war in Iraq, on charges of conflict of interest. "Where are the media reports about Perle being cleared?" thundered "Carl Limbacher and Staff."

The article downplays the specifics of the allegations, merely saying that "at the time, media reports suggested that Perle was benefiting from private business deals while holding an advisory position at the Pentagon" without explaining exactly what Perle was cleared of.

The specific accusation here is Perle's contract to do work for Global Crossing, the troubled telecommunications firm that at the time the controversy broke out earlier this year was trying to obtain Defense Department permission to be sold to Chinese investors. Perle was also the chairman of the government's Defense Policy Board at the time; he resigned that position when news of the alleged conflict of interest broke.

One NewsMax story tells this part of the story pretty straight; another, written by Charles R. Smith, tells it in the NewsMax style we've all come to know and love -- copious references to "left-wing media" and calling New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who broke the story, a "full-time Bush-hater," adding that "Perle has not been on the 'A' list for liberal media types for a while."

Along the way, Smith manages to dispel any idea anyone may have had that NewsMax has copy editors by misspelling the names of Hutchison Whampoa, the Chinese company that wanted to buy Global Crossing, and Seymour Hersh, the investigative journalist who made another allegation against Perle at the same time -- that he had lunch with notorious Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

At the time, Perle called Hersh "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly" and threatened to sue him for libel. The NewsMax story on it notes without irony that Perle planned to sue Hersh in a British court, not exhibiting any curiosity as to why an American would sue another American over an article that appeared in an American magazine in a British court of law. (Sounds a lot like venue-shopping, which we thought conservatives didn't like; it's easier to win libel cases there than in the U.S.) The last time somebody checked, however, Perle had yet to file a lawsuit.

Of course, the ultimate irony about NewsMax complaining that "the press filed hundreds of stories on Perle’s alleged 'misdeeds' and the charges levied against him prior to his vindication" is that NewsMax has done the exact same thing any number of times to Democrats in general and to people named Clinton in particular.

ConWebWatch noted a few years back that NewsMax and other members of the ConWeb eagerly ran stories of every accusation made against the Clintons and their associates -- but stood silent when they were dismissed or disproven. Even the infamous Christopher Ruddy-penned article claiming that the Clintons were moving out of their Chappaqua, N.Y., house remain uncorrected three years after being penned. When Larry Klayman and Judicial Watch -- an organization whose press releases NewsMax used to run verbatim -- stopped suing Democrats to sue Republicans, NewsMax stopped covering him.

Type in "clinton perjury" into the NewsMax search engine, and it returns 607 results despite the fact that no Clinton was ever charged, let alone convicted, of perjury. NewsMax has bashed the Joe Conason-Gene Lyons book "The Hunting of the President" as fiction but has never offered any evidence to contradict anything in that book. Will we be seeing news flashes by NewsMax to rectify these errors in fact?

So before it stands in judgement of other news organizations, NewsMax needs to admit its own failings with its history of highly slanted news coverage. Perhaps it can start by noting that Perle isn't exactly out of the woods yet.

Hollinger International, the newspaper publisher on whose board Perle sits, is currently investigating a number of deals in which Perle allegedly benefitted financially through Hollinger's investment in companies in which Perle was a partner.

But don't look for this story at NewsMax -- like the correction on the Clinton house story and any evidence to back up its assertion that Conason and Lyons got their facts wrong, it just ain't there.

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