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NewsMax was talking about "leftist" attacks on Bernard Kerik, but it may as well have been referring to the speed at which it dumped him when the stories turned out to be too true to ignore.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/15/2004

This is how a Dec. 9 NewsMax story began: "The leftist media have mounted an unprecedented, full-scale attack on [homeland security secretary nominee] Bernard Kerik, with four journalistic hatchet jobs on President Bush's nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security appearing on the same day."

Before we continue, take note of word No. 7: "Unprecedented." This sort of so-called "full-scale attack" on someone in politics is "unprecedented"? Has no one at NewsMax ever read their own web site?

Apparently not. So, as we make our way through this article, we shall note that what NewsMax is alleging is 1) not the "hatchet job" it claims, especially in light of events following the appearance of the NewsMax article; and 2) quite precedented in the behavior of NewsMax itself.

The NewsMax article continues: "The [Washington] Post's ultra-liberal Richard Cohen led off with a rumor-mongering column, 'Kerik's Bully History,' which is littered with what Cohen himself admits are unverified incidents portraying Kerik as a bully who misused his authority in a matter involving the reported theft of a cell phone belonging to a friend."

Cohen's Dec. 9 column includes a heck of a lot more detail than NewsMax portrays, the kind of detail that jumps beyond NewsMax's "unverified" slam. As Cohen points out, said cell phone belonged to the publisher of his book, Judith Regan (with whom Kerik has since been revealed to have conducted an extramarital affair with). And it steps beyond the benign "misuse of authority" NewsMax claims; as Cohen writes: "In all, five detectives from the Manhattan South Homicide Task Force went to the homes of various suspects, fingerprinted some of them, interrogated all of them and told a few that they would have to take lie detector tests. The horrific crime? The police commissioner's friend was missing some items."

After citing a couple more items in Cohen's column, NewsMax writes: "Is all this true? Cohen can't say, admitting: 'Is there anything here? I don't know.' Even Jayson Blair covered his tracks better." A lot better, actually, than NewsMax did in 2000, when founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy himself claimed that "Hillary and Bill Clinton are putting their Chappaqua, N.Y., home for sale because their neighbors have them under 24-hour video surveillance." Ruddy's basis for this story? "Sources at some of America's most notorious supermarket tabloids." Ruddy has yet to retract or apologize for this false story, even after continued hectoring by ConWebWatch. (Ruddy, by the way, is also on record as saying: "Let me say from the outset that if I believed we had stated something false, misleading or inaccurate, I would immediately retract the story and make any corrections.")

NewsMax then pounds on "Salon's Sidney Blumenthal, former Hillary Clinton errand boy," for daring to also probe into Kerik's past (for the British newspaper the Guardian, not Salon). Blumenthal, NewsMax writes, "by innuendo, suggests that Kerik mishandled 'a million dollars in taxpayers' money used to buy tobacco for inmates,' which Blumenthal charges "disappeared into a private foundation run by Kerik without any accounting" - or without Blumenthal providing any evidence of wrongdoing on Kerik's part."

What, suddenly NewsMax has problems with stories based on innuendo, not "providing any evidence of wrongdoing"? (See above Clinton-selling-his-house story for the level of veracity NewsMax demands, not to mention much of its Clinton-bashing over the years.) In 1999, when a judge complained that right-wing attacks on her -- resulting in a complaint against her by Judicial Watch that was later dismissed -- were "fueled by rumor, innuendo and speculation," NewsMax ridiculed her "alleged misbehavior" even though it later notes that the Judicial Watch complaint was dismissed because the evidence was too "slender."

And on the same day as the Kerik article, NewsMax called United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan a "corrupt U.N. kingpin," ostensibly a reference to the oil-for-food scandal that the ConWeb has been salivating over of late. But NewsMax offers no evidence that Annan had any direct involvement in the scandal. Even a bigoted partisan like Jerome Corsi has pointed out in a recent WorldNetDaily column that "there is yet no compelling proof that Kofi Annan was himself guilty of profiting personally in the abundant oil billions being served up by Saddam Hussein." NewsMax cares only about innuendo when it works for them in attacking its enemies.

NewsMax then complains:

The Associated Press zeroes in on the money Kerik made in his business dealings as a Giuliani partner, questioning his fully legitimate stock profits at Taser International, when he exercised stock options and made a profit of $6.2 million without providing so much as a hint of any irregularities.

Well, $6.2 million does seem like an unusual amount of money for the AP describes as unspecified consulting work and a seat on the board of directors, the actual work involved in which could not have been that much. NewsMax was once much more apoplectic about a much smaller amount of money earned about as easily. But then, of course, a Clinton was involved -- Hillary's infamous $100,000 return on cattle futures.

NewsMax comments about all of these accusations: "This is just the beginning."

It certainly was -- though not in the way NewsMax intended. As evidence of Kerik's misdeeds came rolling like a tidal wave -- from nanny problems to connections to a construction company linked to the mob to a warrant for his arrest to yet another extramarital affair -- Kerik withdrew his nomination Dec. 10. And the hits have kept coming long after Kerik's withdrawal.

Which seems to put the lie to NewsMax's statement -- which sounds hilariously naive now -- that " [t]he attacks [on Kerik] hope to derail the nomination of a heroic cop the left fears will do an outstanding job of protecting the homeland and thus reflect credit on the man who picked him, President Bush."

Even NewsMax stopped defending Kerik after his withdrawal and as the tsunami of wrongdoing could no longer be so easily brushed aside. It switched to running only AP wire stories about the controversy; the first original NewsMax article on Kerik following his withdrawal came in a Dec. 14 column by former New York mayor Edward Koch, who declared that Kerik "not only engaged in violations of the federal criminal law, he also is now engaged in lying and a cover-up. ... He also put into question Rudy Giuliani’s judgment in appointing him as New York City’s corrections commissioner and subsequently as police commissioner."

NewsMax's attacks on Kerik's critics are certainly not unprecedented, but the speed at which he went in NewsMax's eyes from godlike being to radioactive embarrassment may well be.

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