The New York Times cited right-wing magazine Newsmax in an article discussing how President Obama chooses to interact with the news media and highlighted his criticism of the media's reliance on "false balance." Why the Times thought Newsmax was a credible enough source to discuss Obama, let alone be included in the same breath as the White House press corps, is a mystery.
Newsmax is a right-wing outfit that has traded on blatant anti-Obama rhetoric to make a buck, has continued to stoke birther fantasies while promoting Donald Trump, and routinely spreads falsehoods about Obama's policies.
After noting that Obama has sat down with a wide variety of columnists including the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan and the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus, the Times wrote:
In addition to well-known columnists, Mr. Obama also holds summit meetings with niche online outlets that did not have access, or did not exist, during previous administrations, including personal finance Web sites like The Consumerist and Fool.com, and African-American Web sites like Jack & Jill Politics, The Root and theGrio.
That approach can frustrate White House reporters whose job is to cover the president's day-to-day activities. It has also hurt the White House's messaging efforts, said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax, a conservative magazine and Web site. Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all better "understood that the campaign didn't end and that public perception was vitally important to governing," Mr. Ruddy said.
The article then highlighted Obama's criticism:
While Mr. Obama frequently criticizes the heated speech of cable news, he sees what he views as deeper problems in news outlets that strive for objectivity. In private meetings with columnists, he has talked about the concept of "false balance" -- that reporters should not give equal weight to both sides of an argument when one side is factually incorrect. He frequently cites the coverage of health care and the stimulus package as examples, according to aides familiar with the meetings.
Indeed, the Times article could be used as the perfect example to illustrate this phenomenon. The Times, which characterized Newsmax as a "conservative magazine and Web site," gave the site enough standing to criticize Obama's press strategy. The article, for balance, included the views of "left-leaning" Talking Points Memo, conservative site Power Line, and a host of nonpartisan journalism heavyweights.
Let's not pretend Newsmax has any business being included in that list.
The site, which Salon's Alex Pareene once described as a "nutritional supplement sales organization and expensive email list with a right-wing news website attached," has peddled the most inflammatory conspiracy theories, including the birther fantasy that Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
In an August 2009 editorial, Newsmax argued:
Dobbs does not believe Obama was born outside the U.S., nor does Newsmax. The evidence indicates he was born in Hawaii. But the indisputable fact is that Obama has not released his birth certificate, which the state of Hawaii issues for all citizens born there. The AP implies that Obama has not released a "long version of his birth certificate." But there is no such thing as a long version of a birth certificate.
As it stands, Obama is the only president in history whose birthplace is unknown to the public -- a fact that would be stated on the actual birth certificate. Interestingly, his family has mentioned two different hospitals in Hawaii as the place of birth.
Obama's refusal to release his birth certificate does mean that Obama remains one of America's most mysterious and opaque presidents ever.
In an interview that same month, Ruddy, the Newsmax CEO quoted in the Times article, acknowledged on Fox News that there's "no evidence" Obama wasn't born in United States, but added that "there's some legitimate issues involving the birth certificate."
Newsmax was so invested in Trump that it named him moderator for a Republican debate that was later canceled when most candidates declined to attend. Trump also later pulled out of the event. The magazine has also used Trump to sell the various publications and financial products it offers.
While the dispute over Obama's birth has largely moved to the fringe, Newsmax is still entertaining it. As recently as June, a Newsmax article about Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "investigation" into Obama's birth included the ridiculous theory that Obama's "long-form birth certificate may have been manufactured electronically." Newsmax did not note it had no basis in fact.
And that's not the only conspiracy theory Newsmax has peddled:
- During the health care debate, the magazine incessantly promoted the bogus "death panels" claim, going so far as to market a book that contained the falsehood and other fearmongering about the law. The book included contributions from serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey.
- Ruddy has entertained the discredited theory involving Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster.
- In September 2009, Newsmax published a column stating that a military coup "to resolve the 'Obama problem'" was not "unrealistic." The column was eventually taken down.
- Three weeks ago, Newsmax published a column on the mass shooting in Colorado that stated: "One need not be a conspiracy freak to observe that such incidents seem to happen again and again at politically convenient moments for the left to exploit."
Newsmax also has a history of questionable ethical behavior, including providing positive coverage to politicians whose campaigns or political committees have received money from Newsmax or its CEO, without disclosing such financial support.