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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
Posted 9/18/2023

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.

Through his social media platform Truth Social, Trump asserted that he was summoned to appear before the David W. Dyer Federal Building and United States Courthouse on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.

The former president did not confirm whether the indictment was related to the sensitive files discovered at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, but suggested it was likely the case.

Multiple sources told The New York Times that Trump was charged with a total of seven counts, including willfully retaining national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act and conspiracy to obstruct.

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.

"I've put everything on the line — and I will never yield," Trump told the North Carolina GOP delegation Saturday night in a speech that aired live and in its entirety on Newsmax. "I will never be deterred, and I will never stop fighting for you. Never.

"If I wasn't leading in the polls so much, we'd have no difficulty."

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.

Even the virulently anti-Trump Wall Street Journal editorial board recognizes destructive influences of Merrick Garland’s partisan legal assaults on the former president and leading GOP candidate for reelection while overtly protecting the incumbent.

Noting that “this is the first time in U.S. history that the prosecutorial power of the federal government has been used against a former President who is also running against the sitting President,” they conclude that “the charges are a destructive intervention into the 2024 election, and the potential trial will hang over the race.“


The Wall Street Journal reminds us that “It was once unthinkable in America that the government’s awesome power of prosecution would be turned on a political opponent. That seal has now been broken.”

It’s still unthinkable.

In breaking that seal of public trust, Democrats have awakened and released voter fury that will hopefully bite back in 2024 and many decades beyond.

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.

The indictment has had the effect of turning the political clock back to 2016 and Hillary’s e-mail scandal.

Even as people see President Trump in the dock for keeping a small number of classified documents at his home, we all wonder why Hillary, who did not just have classified documents but actually erased more than 30,000 of them, has escaped trial.

And, if Hillary is the real defendant in how this case is playing out politically, her co-defendant is Joe Biden.
Actually, there's no comparison between the two. Hillary did not have 30,000 classified documents -- in fact, none of those emails on her personal server were marked as classified, and an investigation found that Clinton did nothing illegal. By contrast, Trump had documents that were clearly marked as classified and had his lawyers lie to the feds about whether all classified documents in his possession had been returned.Morris then ranted about how Hunter Biden had been "purportedly bribed," and that "The Trump indictment is nothing but a tactic to take coverage away from the $5 million bribe Zlochevsky is alleged to have paid to then vice-president Biden." But there's no actual evidence to back it up at this point -- hence Morris' weasel words "purportedly" and "allegedly" -- whereas with Trump there are tapes.

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.

President Joe Biden was found to have classified documents at his home, in his garage and in his office, which received communist Chinese donations, and nothing has happened to him. In fact, the special counsel named to investigate this issue has been quiet and has not even interviewed Biden.

In contrast, Trump's special counsel, Jack Smith, has been aggressive and subpoenaed dozens of employees at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. At his press conference on Friday, Smith ludicrously said that "We have one set of laws in this country. They apply to everyone."

Really? Hillary Clinton was not prosecuted for sending and receiving 33,000 emails, including top secret and classified materials, using an unsecured computer.

While former President Trump faces 400 years in prison, Clinton received a pass from former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey who infamously claimed that "Although there is evidence of potential violations regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."

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.

In contrast, House Republicans are too scared to impeach a President who deserves it more than any other in our nation's history. If Biden is not impeached, House Republicans should abdicate their power and turn it back over to the Democrats.

The one disruptor is facing the mighty weight of the federal government against him. His only true allies are the 75 million Americans who voted for him.

The latest witch hunt will only embolden his voters. Too bad House Republicans do not possess similar courage.

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."

Trump said that while people are turning off other networks because they see what is going on, they are going to Newsmax to get information.

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."

"This continuing Witch Hunt is another ELECTION INTERFERENCE Scam. They are cheaters and thugs!" he wrote.

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."

Dershowitz noted that Trump "may have been wrong about that, there are several ways in which documents become declassified. One is the president can do it, he says he didn't do that. But there is another way and I think that's the way the Trump defense team is going to be pushing this. They can say that the content of this material, the Milley plan relating to Iran had already been made public."

After that, it was the usual Trump defense sycophancy mode:

  • Devin Nunes played the out-of-context card: ""My guess is this is a 30-minute to an hour interview, and this is what the left and the media and now, sadly, the Department of Justice and the FBI, love to do is to selectively leak. It is to take something possibly out of context. ... What I heard right there, it’s a nothing burger. There's nothing there. It appears like he's maybe referring to some article, some story maybe that had just come out."
  • Eric Mack devoted an article to noting that the classified document discussed in the audio "is not one of the documents included in his federal indictment.
  • Another article touted that "Francey Hakes, a former assistant United States attorney, told Newsmax that a CNN report that includes key leaked tapes of former President Donald Trump is 'trial by ambush.'"

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.

The special prosecutor says that Trump revealed classified information about war plans to invade Iran to a writer and two of his own staff members, none of whom had security clearance.

But that is not true.

When you listen to the tape, Trump is criticizing Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for accusing him of wanting to invade Iran while making his own plans to do so.

Trump is saying, in effect, "Milley says I wanted to attack Iran but he was the one who drew up the plans for an attack." Then Trump references a pile of papers on his desk, not showing them to anyone, as evidence of Milley's real views.


Indicting a former president and the leading opponent to Biden is outrageous in and of itself.

But to indict him based on his referring to a document that he did not show to anyone and that he mentioned to prove an ancillary point is even worse.

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.

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