The Clinton-Hater Is Dead, Long Live the Clinton-Hater
NewsMax may be toning down its anti-Clinton rhetoric, but WorldNetDaily is plowing full speed ahead with its old-school Clinton smears.
By Terry Krepel
If eyebrows were raised among conservatives earlier this year when NewsMax's Christopher Ruddy and his patron, conservative philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife, declared that Bill Clinton, in Ruddy's words, "wasn’t such a bad president," conservatives' heads were exploding at Ruddy's latest move: putting Clinton on the cover of the November issue of NewsMax's monthly magazine, accompanied by a mostly positive article on the former president's activities since leaving office.
The article (not online) noted that Clinton "has reinvented himself as an extraordinary pitchman for charitable causes globally and "never appears at a loss for energy or vision." It offers friendly views of the Clinton Global Initiative and his friendship with former president George H.W. Bush, played down played the usual conservative attack on Clinton's private life and even touted a quote from a psychotherapist who said that "Bill Clinton is the embodiment of the American Dream" for coming from humble circumstances. Even a sidebar profile of "Bill's Ultra-Rich Buddy," Ron Burkle, is told in a straightforward manner. The only arguably negative parts are a few paragraphs spent on Clinton's "finger-wagging rage" during an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace and an accompanying unverified anecdote by Richard Miniter, a conservative author who is not described as conservative, and a sidebar on the post-presidency activities of other former presidents that bashes Jimmy Carter and fails to mention Watergate in regard to Richard Nixon, noting only that he was "[d]isbarred by the State of New York in 1976."
The coup de grace, though was Ruddy's Oct. 31 softball interview with Clinton. In it, Ruddy steers clear of past controversies and notes that Clinton "n this exclusive Newsmax interview, Clinton discusses his extensive charity efforts, repeats his call for mandatory AIDS testing in some countries, and vows that if Hillary is elected president, he 'will do whatever she asks me to do.' "
By way of explaining himself, Ruddy added: "There is no doubt Bill Clinton has broken the mold of what we expect from a former president. And there is also no question that in the past Bill Clinton has engendered considerable controversy. But there should be little disagreement today that he is doing exemplary work and is acting as a positive force for the United States." Ruddy endeavored to more explicitly establish a line in a column published in the magazine: "Let me make it clear that the focus of our coverage this month is on his years after leaving the White House and how he has remolded the job of a post-president into a powerful private post."
At the same time, Newsmax was softening on another Clinton front. A Nov. 1 review of Paul Kengor's book "God and Hillary Clinton" -- which is credited only to "Newsmax Staff" -- did actually mostly praise the book, calling it "tantalizing and important" and asserting "[t]here is much to feast on and much to wonderfully digest in Kengor’s work." Surprisingly, the review points out that Kengor is a "professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, a highly Christian and conservative institution," which hints at where the book is coming from. Even more surprisingly, the review criticizes Kengor for rehashing non-substantive attacks on liberals:
When he goes after the usual suspects Kerry, Bill Clinton, Gore, liberal feminist groups, the media, to name a few devoting pages and pages to their issues, when only one or two paragraph would suffice to set up how those issue affect Hillary Clinton, it diminishes the final product and makes it difficult to find the wheat from the chaff.
Given that Newsmax has a history of using any excuse to attack the Clintons -- Afrogate, anyone? -- such restraint is surprising.
Not that Newsmax has stopped attacking the Clintons, of course; as ConWebWatch has noted, Newsmax still runs columns by longtime Clinton-haters Dick Morris, John LeBoutillier and Stephen R. Smith. Among recent examples:
Still, one of NewsMax's ConWeb rivals seems to be sensing Newsmax's perceived squishiness on the Clintons.
Despite their shared Clinton-hating background, WND and Newsmax have barely acknowledged each other's existence in recent years, though they have engage in passive-aggressive exchanges -- WND sniping at Newsmax, Newsmax poaching a WND writer.
Perhaps Farah and WND have seen an opening here. While Ruddy and Newsmax seem to be grasping for mainstream media credibility, Farah and WND clearly have no such desire for such credibility (as its journalistic record demonstrates all too well) and appear to be all too eager to step in and be the ConWeb's leading Clinton-haters.
Indeed, with Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in full swing, WND is smearing like it's 1999.
The poster girl of WND's old-school attacks is Kathleen Willey, who conveniently has a new book out -- published by World Ahead Publishing, WND current partner for its book imprint -- reviving old accusations. WND has not publicly revealed if there is a quid pro quo arrangement of some sort requiring WND to publicize the book as part of its deal with World Ahead, a conflict of interest that calls into question its independence as a news organization; as ConWebWatch has noted, WND has a long-standing problem disclosing its conflicts of interest in the people and subjects it covers.
A Sept. 5 article reported Willey's claim that the Clintons were responsible for the theft of a manuscript of the book from her house. A Nov. 5 article (time for the actual release of the book) reported Willey's claim that the Clintons were responsible for the murder of her husband. A Nov. 7 article reported Willey's claim that private investigator Jack Palladino was hired by the Clintons to harass her.
All of these articles were written by Art Moore, who is apparently WND's go-to guy when Clinton accusers need to be airbrushed for public consumption -- Moore is also the resident whitewasher of convicted felon Peter Paul. And just as Moore has a history of downplaying or ignoring entirely Paul's long criminal record, here Moore is careful to make no mention of Willey's long record of false and contradictory testimony.
Independent counsel Robert Ray found that "Willey's Testimony to the Grand Jury About the Alleged Incident Differed Materially from Her Deposition Testimony Given in Jones v. Clinton," noting that Willey "said at her deposition ... that [Clinton] did not fondle her" in an alleged incident in 1993, Ray also found that Willey contradicted herself on whether she had told others about the alleged incident, and asserted that Willey gave false information to the FBI.
As Media Matters detailed, the Nov. 5 article reported Willey claims that she "[m]ost definitely" suspects that her husband was murdered and that she "ha[s] suspicions" the Clintons were involved. In suggesting parallels between the deaths of longtime Clinton conspiracy magnet Vince Foster and her husband, Willey repeats the false claim -- first advanced by Ruddy, by the way -- that Foster was left-handed, while the gun was found in his right hand. Willey refers in the book to "the left-handed Vince Foster," but Moore doesn't note that even Ruddy has acknowledged that the claim that Foster was left-handed was a "factual error."
Further, in the Nov. 7 article, Moore quoted conservative radio host Melanie Morgan -- apparently Willey's source for the Palladino claim -- as saying of Palladino's denial of her assertion: "I have no reason to make it up, no motivation to exaggerate." Which, of course, is a lie; Morgan is a Clinton-hater on the record as making misleading and nasty claims about them. Further, in a Nov. 2 WND column, Morgan began by speculating about "about the possibility of Laura Bush running against Hillary Clinton, giggling over how Mrs. Bush could deliver a roundhouse political punch, decking Mrs. Clinton's aspirations to become the first female commander in chief and not even muss her lovely auburn hair"; she declared herself "[t]horoughly sated by that thought." It's ludicrous for Morgan to claim she has "no motivation to exaggerate" anything regarding the Clintons when she has a track record of doing exactly that.
All of this casts a pall over any claim Willey makes. But Moore clearly doesn't think so, which casts a pall over anything he reports for WND.
Any other news organization would not waste its time with such conspiracy-mongering perpetrated by a discredited source -- but WND is not just any news organization. In Joseph Farah, there's a full-blown sufferer of Clinton Derangement Syndrome at its head.
Farah is prone to using his column to unleash anti-Clinton screeds, which set the tone for WND's overall Clinton coverage:
Farah's WND writers are following suit in their mean-spirited paranoia. For instance, in a Sept. 17 column headlined "Hellary's chilling honesty," Doug Powers uses the obligatory unflattering photos of Hillary Clinton to illustrate his paranoiac version of Hillary Clinton's campaign:
Here's the Clintons' philosophy on national security: Your enemies usually won't want to harm you as long as there are still cheap goodies available in your national garage sale.
This is the level of discourse we've come to expect from WorldNetDaily. Get used to it, because we'll be seeing a lot more of it as the presidential election process continues.