Why is NewsMax promoting Tim Russert's new book?

››› ››› JOE BROWN

Despite having previously criticized Tim Russert for alleged liberal "media bias," right-wing news website NewsMax is promoting Russert's new book, Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons, as "a great Father's Day Gift."

Despite having previously criticized NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert for alleged liberal "media bias," right-wing news website NewsMax is promoting Russert's new book, Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons (Random House, May 2006) as "a great Father's Day Gift."

In a June 10 "News Alert" email, NewsMax touted its promotional offer of a free copy of the book with the purchase or renewal of a subscription to its print publication, NewsMax Magazine. NewsMax is also offering four free issues of the magazine to anyone purchasing a copy of Russert's book at the regular price through the NewsMax online store. (The online store also offers promotions on books by a host of conservative authors, including Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, John Podhoretz, and Michelle Malkin.)

In the past, NewsMax has criticized Russert for alleged liberal "media bias." The "Media Bias" section of the NewsMax website features numerous articles on Russert, authored by writer and editor Carl Limbacher "and the NewsMax.com Staff." Additionally, an April 17, 2003, article by regular NewsMax columnist and former Rep. John LeBoutillier (R-NY) cited Russert's previous work as a "Democratic political operative" for New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) as evidence that "CBS, NBC and ABC are totally dominated by the left."

Similarly, in an October 28, 2002, article, NewsMax president and CEO Christopher Ruddy wrote:

[A]ll the major network Sunday "news" programs are now anchored by former Democratic Party operatives who worked for liberal Democrats.

[NBC's Chris] Matthews was a senior aide to powerful House Speaker Tip O'Neill [D-MA], Tim Russert was an aide to Mario Cuomo, and [ABC News'] George Stephanopoulos was the Clintons' chief spokesman.*

One can imagine if, God forbid, a conservative Republican would get a top media anchor job. Don't hold your breath.

Although NewsMax's promotion of Wisdom of Our Fathers seems at odds with its previous statements criticizing Russert, NewsMax does have a relationship with Russert's publisher, Random House. This relationship dates back to April 2002, when NewsMax and Random House's now-defunct Prima Publishing group agreed to a "joint venture for the purposes of publishing and marketing books." Under the agreement, NewsMax contributors and Prima were to "create a cobranded series of books" with Prima overseeing "the editorial, marketing, sales, and distribution of the series," and NewsMax "promot[ing] the books through its extensive network of online and print readers." The books were to be published "under the Prima Forum imprint, a line of serious nonfiction books."

When Prima Publishing was dissolved and realigned in 2003, Prima Forum was absorbed by Random House's Crown Publishing Group, Prima Publishing's parent division. Following the realignment, the Prima Forum line of books was re-launched under Crown Forum, a new imprint "solely devoted to nonfiction with a conservative point of view." Two books apparently resulting from NewsMax's "joint venture" with Prima Publishing were subsequently released by Crown Forum.

In July 2003, Crown Forum released NewsMax columnist James Hirsen's Tales from the Left Coast : True Stories of Hollywood Stars and Their Outrageous Politics and Carl Limbacher's Hillary's Scheme: Inside the Next Clinton's Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House. NewsMax received joint authorship credit for both books and has its own "author's spotlight" page on the Random House website, touting NewsMax as "the leading source for conservatives looking for news on the Internet, with more than eight million unique visitors every month." Hirsen and Limbacher also have their own pages on the Random House website, including links to their various Random House books.

In addition to Hirsen's and Limbacher's books, Random House has also published three books by Richard Poe, a NewsMax contributor and the editor of David Horowitz's website FrontPageMag.com from 2000 to 2002 (and currently senior fellow and director of research and investigative projects at Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture). All three were released under the Three Rivers Press imprint.

*Ruddy neglected to mention CBS News' Bob Schieffer, who has hosted the Sunday morning talk show Face the Nation since 1991. Schieffer has not worked in Democratic Party politics and, in fact, has acknowledged a "golfing friendship" with President Bush "during the 1990s."

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