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Money Over Facts

NewsMax doesn't want to tell you the truth about "The Truth About Hillary"; it's too busy trying to sell you the book.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/23/2005

We're pretty sure we've said before that what the ConWeb doesn't report is as informative as what it does. That proves itself true again in NewsMax’s coverage of the new Hillary-bashing book by Edward Klein, "The Truth About Hillary."

As ConWebWatch has previously noted, NewsMax has been highly reluctant to tell the full truth about the book and the factual errors and distortions others have detected within. But a June 17 article pushes that kind of truth-hedging to a new level.

Related article on ConWebWatch:

Just Like Old Times

The article is NewsMax's spin of a New York Times article on the book. But since the Times mentioned NewsMax, and NewsMax is an adherent to the any-publicity-is-good-publicity school of public relations, that's what is most important here; the article starts: "NewsMax got serious notice Friday in the New York Times for its coverage and promotion of the new, controversial biography of Hillary Clinton."

The NewsMax article also includes a long excerpt from the Times article about NewsMax, which marks another first: As far as we know, this is the first time that NewsMax has acknowledged on its web site that Richard Mellon Scaife has a stake in NewsMax. (We'll toot our own horn here and point out that ConWebWatch was the first to report Scaife's NewsMax stake back in 2002.)

Having sated its taste for self-promotion, NewsMax then starts to spin things. It expanded on the Times excerpt quoting NewsMax editor Christopher Ruddy claiming that "[p]romoting the book has less to do with ideology and more to do with generating business," then adding:

NewsMax covers and sells many books that appeal to a conservative or GOP-leaning audience. Just recently we heavily featured author Laurence Leamer's "Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

Leamer's book offers a far more salacious review of Schwarzenegger's life -- including his sexual history than Klein's book of Hillary does.

The book has gotten wide praise from major media for its fairness and balance toward Schwarzenegger.

NewsMax doesn't explain what in Leamer's book could be more salacious than accusations that Hillary may be a lesbian or that Bill Clinton raped Hillary, which resulted in the conception of daughter Chelsea? Strangely, NewsMax did not devote any space to those allegations, though it hyped the issue of Bill Clinton's alleged illegitimate black love child back in the '90s and a December 2000 story by Ruddy himself – you know, the one containing other demonstrably false accusations – claimed that a supermarket tabloid's account "alleging a lesbian affair turned out to be one of the all-time best sellers for the tabloid business."

Compare NewsMax's hawking of Klein's book to another recently released book on the Clintons, "The Survivor" by John F. Harris. NewsMax has said nary a word about it and doesn't sell it in its store. NewsMax has shown great interest in Clinton books, after all. Why is that?

A Washington Post review of the book offers some clues. The book is called "intelligent, judicious and relatively nonideological" and described as painting a "persuasive picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton's enormous influence on her husband's presidency." In other words, the Clintons aren't demonized, a point of view NewsMax apparently isn't interested in selling, even if it's closer to the truth than Klein's book.

NewsMax also plays the blame-the-victim game, claiming that it's all Hillary's fault for making the book newsworthy:

Hillary herself has helped spark interest in the book. Book sales soared according to online sales rankings only after Hillary’s spokesman came out and attacked the book – before it was published or any one had read the contents of the book. Yet, Mrs. Clinton's aide said the book was "full of blatant and vicious fabrications."

NewsMax has yet to specifically acknowledge or rebut any of those said "fabrications," though others have documented them.

NewsMax also recycles its boilerplate claim that "Klein is anything but a right-wing hatchet man" without noting that Klein hangs out with someone who is -- NewsMax columnist and professional Clinton-hater John LeBoutillier, the guy behind the Counter Clinton Library and the Stop Hillary PAC.

NewsMax gets even more unctuous in a June 20 article, a recap of an interview Klein did with National Review Online. For the first time, NewsMax notes the rape allegation -- but only to give Klein a forum to dismiss media reports about it as exaggerated.

The article asserts that the "rape" claim "received wide currency on the Internet before the manuscript was released," and is a "mangled anecdote, taken out of context." NewsMax, however, doesn't report that the claim was first publicized by the Drudge Report. Why? Because the article later approvingly cites the conservative-friendly Drudge in claiming that "Hillary is considering legal action against Klein." Don't wanna trash your sources, y'know. Back in 2003, NewsMax printed an attack by David Horowitz on Sid Blumenthal, the former Clinton aide who sued Drudge for libel after Drudge claimed that Blumenthal abused his wife; Horowitz, who was involved in raising money for Drudge's defense fund, called the lawsuit a "vindictive tort."

The article also plugged Klein's interviews with Sean Hannity on both his radio show and Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, noting that "the courageous ABC syndicated host has pledged that stopping Hillary Clinton from becoming president of the United States would be a major focus of his program."

And, of course, we get another dollop of spin about Klein's credentials, spun as not being spin: "Despite the spin, Klein has solid liberal media credentials, having served in senior editorial positions at the New York Times, Newsweek and Vanity Fair."

A June 22 article touting the book's No. 2 ranking at continues the spin:

The news of Klein's success is bad news for Hillary, whose top aides have been working overdrive to close down the author's public appearances.

Sen. Clinton's efforts may be backfiring if early book sales are any indication.

NewsMax, of course, knows all about how to play Amazon rankings for promotional purposes.

And in his June 22 column, LeBoutillier purports to issue conclusions "[h]aving now read every single word of Ed Klein's new book," implying that he has only just recently read the book, which belies his earlier claim that he and his friend Klein "have been talking about this book for almost two years."

WorldNetDaily has joined the Klein bandwagon as well, though not to the extent NewsMax has. A June 21 article claims that the book "has soared to No. 1 on at least one national best-sellers list," it neglects to say exactly which list it is. It also mischaracterizes the nature of the complaints against Klein by stating that "Klein has been roundly criticized by some in the media for exposing Clinton secrets and using unnamed sources."

The fledgling WND Book Service ("HUNDREDS OF TITLES hand-selected to appeal to patriotic Americans") is also selling the book, claiming that is "[p]roof she repeatedly lied to the public, and lacks the character to lead the nation." But WND, like NewsMax, has ignored the documented claims of errors and distortions in Klein's book; a June 22 article mentions claims by radio host Al Franken about the book's factual problems, but rather than addressing or rebutting the claims, it hauls out Alan Skorski, author of an upcoming WND-published smear job on Franken, to attack the messenger, bashing Franken as "the least qualified person to be accusing others of writing books that are dishonest and deceitful." (A "news" organization that has been forced to retract two articles in the past couple months, however, may not the best judge of the truthfulness of others.)

Ruddy has tried to claim that even though there is a Scaife financial connection to NewsMax that he can't hide anymore, its promotional push behind Klein's book is merely about trying to make a little money. But in the absence of any reporting of the errors in the book, that just means that NewsMax (and WorldNetDaily) cares more about money than the truth.

Is that a quality anyone needs in a "news" organization?

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