The Trump Stenographers At Newsmax: (Second) Indictment Edition
Newsmax served up the usual barrage of attack-and-defense pieces when Donald Trump was indicted a second time -- and as usual, criticism of Trump was hard to find.
By Terry Krepel
When Donald Trump announced in June that an indictment of him was forthcoming (again), Newsmax did what it did the last time this happened: helped him play victim. Luca Cacciatore cranked out a June 8 article on Trump's pronouncement:
Former President Donald Trump said Thursday that the Department of Justice informed his legal team that a federal grand jury in Miami, Florida, had indicted him.
Unlike last time -- when several days passed after Trump's proclaimed "arrest" date before he was actually indicted -- the new indictment was confirmed quickly. So Newsmax moved quickly into its usual pattern of hurling defend-and-attack articles with the aid of the usual gang of right-wing talking heads. Here's what it posted on June 8 alone:
As usual, journalistic balance was nearly nonexistent. On June 8, it was limited to one article claiming that special counsel Jack Smith "has a history of prosecuting politicians from both parties with mixed results, and another quoting GOP presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson saying that Trump should quit his campaign.
the following day, on June 9, there were even more attack-and-defend articles:
Surprisingly, there were a greater than usual selection of more neutral articles (which largely defaulted to wire articles):
There was one negative article featuring former Trump national security adviser John Bolton calling for Trump to quit the race. There was also an article by John Gizzi quoting Republican officials touting how the indictment will play well with the MAGA Republican base, with one saying he will get a "hero's welcome" at state GOP conventions he attends.
Meanwhile, the first hot take from Newsmax's stable of columnists came in a June 9 column by Larry Bell whining that President Biden hasn't been arrested over his handling of classified documents and that Hunter Biden hasn't been sufficiently persecuted, concluding that "Such egregiously blatant political weaponization of government institutions we count on to protect us are intolerable in a constitutional Republic that values 'equal justice for all.'" Of course, Bell doesn't consider his partisan demands to prosecute anyone named Biden to be "egregiously blatant political weaponization."
The coverage strategy continued June 10-11, the weekend after the indictment was confirmed:
As usual, criticism of Trump was hard to find; one article quoted Alan Dershowitz noting that Trump made it easy to get caught by touting a classified document on tape. Another article highlighted former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr saying that Trump "is toast" if the indictment is proven true, but that was followed by articles featuring Trump and right-wing radio host Mark Levin attacking Barr for saying it. There was also an article touting that Trump would give a speech after his arraignment.
Trump also spoke at Republican state conventions on June 10, and Newsmax unsurprisingly gave them blanket coverage, as well as airing them live. Eric Mack gushed in one article about them:
Undaunted by attacks from the Democrats, the media, and yet another indictment, former President Donald Trump is keeping up his fight for the American people, speaking at a pair of Republican Party state conventions in Georgia and North Carolina.
There were, of course, more articles as well:
Newsmax did not allow anyone to rebut any of Trump's claims.
Here's what Newsmax published on June 12, the day before Trump's arraignment:
Newsmax also promoted the speech and fundraiser Trump planned to give after his arraignment. By contrast, Newsmax included the usual spare coverage of views critical of Trump:
Newsmax also served up a few more neutral articles about related news:
Columnist Larry Bell weighed in with more Trump defense in his June 12 column:
Don’t just take this from an openly conservative opinion guy.
The fact that the Journal is supporting Trump doesn't mean it's a bad idea to prosecute him. Indeed, both Bell and the Journal appear to believe that Trump is above the law.
When arraignment day came on June 13, Newsmax ramped things up even more. A paywalled article called the indictment and coming trial an "October surprise," followed by a fairly straightforward article by Jeffrey Rodack about efforts to allow cameras during the arraignment. Then came the usual attack-and-defend mode:
Surprisingly, Newsmax did devote a larger-than-usual percentage of arraignment-related stories to more balanced topics:
Trump sycophant Dick Morris, meanwhile, cranked out a column that day trying to divert attention away from the indictment to, yes, Hillary Clinton:
The real loser here is Hillary Clinton.
Afterward, Newsmax returned to being mostly about being in attack-and-defend mode. Here's what it published on June 14 and 15 the two days after the arraignment:
Newsmax did slip in a few articles noting the other side of the story:
Newsmax columnists rushed to Trump's defense as well. Jeff Crouere huffed in a June 14 column:
Eight years of abuse of President Donald Trump culminated in the 37 felony count indictment that was unsealed on Friday. The 49-page document alleges the mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House.
In fact, there is no reasonable comparison between Trump and Hillary on this issue. Nevertheless, he continued whining:
He was charged under the Espionage Act, which has never been used against a president in our 247-year history. Yet, unhinged prosecutors in the Biden administration do not care about precedent or dividing the nation. They are determined to prevent Trump from getting elected president again.
It's not a "witch hunt" if there are actual witches -- and again, there are tapes.
Cleanup between indictments
In between indictments, Newsmax continued to serve up its usual Donald Trump sycophancy. It generated a plethora of articles out of a June 26 appearance by Trump on Eric Bolling's Newsmax TV show:
In an instance of reciprocal sycophancy, another article highlighted that Trump "praised Newsmax for its coverage of the scandals surrounding President Joe Biden and his son Hunter":
"Newsmax is doing a great job," Trump said. "I watch Newsmax, a lot of Newsmax lately, and they are doing a great job."
Before Newsmax had to start delving into defending Donald Trump from his third indictment, however, it had to continue to defend him from new issues rising from his second one. CNN obtained the audio from a previously reported incident in which Trump touted having secret classified documents, and Newsmax rushed to claim the apparently incriminating audio proved nothing. First up was an article by Sandy Fitzgerald dedicated to Trump ranting about it:
"The Deranged Special Prosecutor, Jack Smith, working in conjunction with the DOJ & FBI, illegally leaked and 'spun' a tape and transcript of me which is actually an exoneration, rather than what they would have you believe," Trump said on his Truth Social page Monday night after the audio aired on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
Fitzgerald then tried to change the subject: "The audio release comes as the information continues to grow concerning President Joe Biden and his son Hunter."
Next, though, was Alan Dershowitz, who actually admitted that Trump may have screwed up:
Dershowitz said on "John Bachman Now" that based on the audio that's been released, "I don't think that he can plausibly claim that what he was showing them was newspapers and magazines. It seems clear from the context he was showing them something that he believed was probably still classified."
After that, it was the usual Trump defense sycophancy mode:
Newsmax's chief Trump sycophant, Dick Morris, labored to spin the tape in a June 29 column:
Anderson Cooper, one of the last survivors at CNN, played a tape last night on the air that had been introduced into evidence to justify one of the key counts in the indictment of Donald Trump.
So sycophantic was Morris that Newsmax felt the need to attach this editor's note to the top of his column: "The following article has been authored by a non-lawyer, and does not constitute an endorsement for any political party or candidate on the part of Newsmax." Never mind, of course, that Newsmax has made being the Trump Channel a key part of its current identity.