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Update: Boycott To the Max

NewsMax works a little cheap patriotism by picking on France. Plus:'s idea of balance, ConWeb number-crunching on antiwar protests and journalists as "avowed enemies."

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/26/2003

NewsMax likes to do things on the cheap, financially and intellectually -- witness its occasional begging for money from readers to do things that a for-profit corporation (not that it's made one, of course) ought to be doing for itself.

So, it stands to reason that its efforts at patriotism would be the same way, thus its cheap-and-easy France boycott.

"Boycott all things French: their gooey cheeses, their overpriced wines, their rip-off Perrier and Evian water, their crummy automobiles," exhorted CEO Christopher Ruddy and other NewsMax writers in an "Urgent Letter to Americans" a few weeks back. Never mind that French cars haven't been widely available in the U.S. for years and the average NewsMax reader wouldn't know French wine or cheese if it was force-fed to them. In fact, the only person in that crowd that might have to actually give up anything as a result of this boycott would be ... that jet-set media elitist himself, Christopher Ruddy. Some time later, NewsMax figured out that the core NewsMax audience has never driven a French car or drank French wine, so it posted a list of French-owned products its readers may have actually heard of.

NewsMax has no interest in acually spending its own money on its boycott, of course -- that's why its readers are leaned on once again to kick in. It is, however, throwing in the occasional trinket to entice folks to contribute, like a four-month subscription to its magazine. There is a catch, though: if you don't cancel at the end of the four months, you automatically get "renewed" for a year's subcription at $49.95 (after all, they have your credit card information).

Considering the sum total of what NewsMax has done toward this boycott effort is whine about France on its Web site and place a couple of newspaper ads (one of which laughably claims NewsMax is "America's leader in online news"), it's even more surprising to see NewsMax take credit for alleged progress in the boycott.

"France Wineries Reeling Under Boycott," shouts the headline on a March 20 NewsMax story regurgitating a Nerw York Times story on "the threat of a boycott of French wines by Americans annoyed at the French position on Iraq." There is no actual damage cited or even a link between NewsMax's actions and any other boycott-related activity, though NewsMax claims that " has been leading the campaign to boycott French goods." And, of course, French wine and other goods currently in American stores were purchased weeks or months ago.

And NewsMax also whacks Pravda, the Russian news agency, for dismissing its boycott work as "bellicose ravings" even as it points out that Pravda "also noted, correctly, as one of America's leading news services online." (Again, suppress your laughter.)

What's so funny about all this is not only that NewsMax writers have in the past howled about boycotts when directed at conservatives, like Phil Brennan did over an advertising boycott against Michael Savage, but actually and without irony raised a literary eyebrow at the idea that people in other countries would dare to boycott U.S. products.

Sometimes, it takes a lot to suppress one's laughter when one is reading NewsMax.

* * *

Yet another example (previously demonstrated here) of's idea of balance:

A March 22 story on an antiwar protest in Washington concludes with four paragraphs focusing on a counter-protester watching the protest who supported Bush's actions. But a March 24 story on a Washington rally supporting Bush and the war includes no similar comments from the antiwar side.

* * *

How does the ConWeb dismiss millions of antiwar protesters? By comparing their numbers to the population as a whole.

A March 14 factoid tells us that while the largest Vietnam War protest numbered 250,000, "an estimated 203,000,000 people did not attend." And Rebecca Hagelin takes care to point out in a March 25 WorldNetDaily column that worldwide protests against the current war effort merely involve "a few million of the world's nearly 6 billion people."

That's in addition to the usual complaints that the "liberal" media won't report on the socialist roots of the group organizing many antiwar protests nearly as often as the ConWeb would like them to, as this March 25 press release from the Media Research Center indicates.

"I regret that my first communication to you as the new chairman of the CNN News Group must be to alert you to the biased nature of CNN’s coverage of war protests," says MRC head Brent Bozell in a letter to new CNN chief Jim Walton, according to the press release. And if you believe Bozell genuinely "regrets" any opportunity to beat up on CNN, I have some lovely oceanfront property near Worms, Nebraska, to sell you.

* * *

In that same WorldNetDaily column mentioned above, Rebecca Hagelin also writes:

It takes organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and WorldNetDaily to provide the other side of the story – the side not spun by President Bush's avowed enemies.

Thanks to Heritage and its affiliate,, plus WorldNetDaily and several conservative outlets, you can learn it isn't all about the oil, or Israel, or megalomania on the part of President Bush and his cabinet.

Interesting wording there. Not only does Hagelin appear to admit that WND is conservative -- an admission normally verboten on WND, which prefers to push the fiction that it's "fiercely independent" -- she also seems to concede that oil, Israel and megalomania is indeed part of the reason the U.S. is invading Iraq.

(As her name-dropping indicates, Hagelin is a vice president of the Heritage Foundation and the former vice president of communications for WorldNetDaily.)

So, does that mean that anything the ConWeb has to say about the Clintons can be dismissed because groups like WND, NewsMax and Heritage are "avowed enemies" of the Clintons?

* * *

Then again, WorldNetDaily may have decided it needed a little "fiercely independent" street cred after all. A March 25 story is surprisingly sympathetic toward the genuinely independent (and left-leaning) news site Yellow Times, whose posting of graphic war photos prompted the company hosting its Web site to shut it down.

It's just one of those anomalies WND throws in once in a while to keep it from appearing as slavishly conservative as, say, NewsMax. As its current PR-disguised-as-news promotion of the latest title from its book division -- by National Rifle Association executive Wayne LaPierre -- shows, WND's core biases remain intact.

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