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.
Right-wing media outlets are seizing on a recent study to claim that ultraviolet (UV) emissions from compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) pose a threat to human health and may even cause skin cancer. But experts agree that under normal conditions CFLs are perfectly safe, and the study's author says that there is "no link" between CFLs and cancer.
A study published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology measured the effect of CFLs at distances of 2.5, 7.5 and 35 centimeters (0.98 to 13.78 inches) away from skin cells and found that "the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation." It concluded that "it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover."
The UV risk is easily eliminated by purchasing double-envelope CFLs, using a lampshade, or staying more than a foot away from an exposed bulb.
Nevertheless, conservative media outlets have exaggerated these findings to once again portray CFL bulbs as unsafe. During a Fox & Friends news brief on the study, Gretchen Carlson reported that CFLs "could be bad for people," and Brian Kilmeade exclaimed: "Goodbye epidermis!" And a Newsmax headline declared that "Energy-Saving Light Bulbs Can Cause Skin Cancer."
But Dr. Tatsiana Mironava, co-author of the study, told Media Matters that "there is no link in scientific literature between CFL exposure and cancer." And dermatologist Dr. Howard Brooks explained that CFLs emit "such a small amount" of UV rays that they "shouldn't be a risk." Dr. Brooks said that skin damage would only be a concern after "prolonged exposure," such as sitting directly underneath a desk lamp for an extended period of time.
Donald Trump recently declared on CNBC that "Saudi Arabia is doing Obama a big fat favor" by increasing oil production in order to bring gasoline prices down, and that if Obama is re-elected the "favor will be repaid many times over." Fox Nation took this conspiracy even further, calling it a "SECRET SAUDI OIL DEAL TO WIN REELECTION"; Real Clear Politics, Breitbart.com, and Newsmax also promoted Trump's comments.
This has put conservatives in the bizarre position of claiming that Obama is nefariously lowering gasoline prices in order to help the economy and win re-election, after previously claiming that Obama was trying to raise gas prices.
And the claim that there is a "SECRET" "DEAL" is ridiculous: it is public knowledge that the U.S. has pressured Saudi Arabia to boost its oil output. The administration's apparent success in doing so undercuts Trump's previous attack that the Saudis were not ramping up production because Obama was a poor "messenger" or was too busy on "his basketball court" or something.
The Saudis have no incentive to do "Obama a big fat favor" unless it is in their own self-interest. As the Washington Post reported, energy economist Phillip Vergeler believes that Saudi Arabia is trying to "stay in the good graces of United States and Europe" by providing "economic stimulus," but they are also acting in order to slow down shale production in North America and put pressure on Iran.
The New York Times reports this afternoon that the right-wing magazine Newsmax will host a Republican debate later this month, and that it will be moderated by Donald Trump, the real estate mogul, reality show host, and nation's most prominent birther.
Mr. Trump's role in the debate, which will be broadcast on the cable network Ion Television, is sure to be one of the more memorable moments in a primary season that has already delivered its fair share of circus-like spectacle.
Mr. Trump's own flirtation with running for president this year seems almost quaint (whose birth certificate was he all worked up about?) compared with more recent distractions - like allegations of adultery and sexual harassment, gaffes that seemed scripted from a late-night comedy show, and a six-figure line of credit at Tiffany & Co.
Almost quaint indeed! Good to know we're at the point where we can shrug off one of the more blatantly racist spectacles in modern American politics. I guess Trump benefits, if that's the right word, from having already been too clownish a figure to let something like birtherism tarnish his reputation.
And it's no great shock that Newsmax would select a conspiracy-mongering publicity hound as their moderator. Newsmax publisher Chris Ruddy spent the Clinton years flogging the conspiracy theory that Vince Foster's suicide was actually a murder connected to the Clintons.
But during the Clinton years, people like Ruddy were confined largely to the fringe. These days... well, Mr. Trump has a few questions he'd like to ask.
The right wing media have claimed that President Obama is deliberately sabotaging the super committee's negotiations to reach a deal to decrease the deficit in an attempt to strengthen his re-election prospects. But Obama has repeatedly urged the super committee to come to a compromise, while the Republicans on the super committee have refused to compromise, instead proposing massive tax giveaways for the richest Americans and even more massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs Americans rely on.
Following the Justice Department's announcement that an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States has been foiled, right-wing media called for the bombing of Iran. Indeed, conservative media figures have repeatedly endorsed military action against Iran and other countries.
Right-wing commentators have repeatedly claimed that the best thing President Obama could do during his September 8 speech to Congress is tender his resignation.
"Has a central tenant [sic] of global warming just collapsed?" That's the first sentence of a July 29 Fox News article about a recent study which shows nothing of the sort, demonstrating just how broken climate change coverage is at news outlets like Fox, where scientific illiteracy meets political slant.
Last week, Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), one of the few climate scientists who think we don't need to worry much about global warming, published a paper purportedly challenging mainstream climate models that is both limited in scope and, by many accounts, flawed. After a Forbes column by James Taylor of the libertarian Heartland Institute misinterpreted the study and declared that it blows a "gaping hole in global warming alarmism," an avalanche of conservative media outlets, including Fox, followed suit:
The conservative group writes that "[y]ou may have heard on Fox News and elsewhere about former DOJ career attorney J. Christian Adams, who quit the DOJ and blew the whistle on the cover-up of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation cover-up. ... the politicized Obama DOJ thought otherwise and decided not to press charges. That's when Adams quit and went public with this outrageous decision not to enforce the law." RNLA later asks for money to help "fight these gross abuses of the Obama administration."
As Media Matters has documented, Adams is a longtime right-wing activist who has admitted that he does not have firsthand knowledge of the events, conversations, and decisions that he is citing to advance his accusations. Additionally, the Bush administration's Justice Department -- not the Obama administration -- made the decision not to pursue criminal charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for alleged voter intimidation at a polling center in Philadelphia in 2008. The Obama administration successfully obtained default judgment against King Samir Shabazz, a member of the New Black Panther Party who was carrying a nightstick outside the Philadelphia polling center.
The July 17 RNLA email, sent through Newsmax.com's mailing list:
Was it the opportunity to snag a glowing profile from a right-wing outlet?
Could it have been the chance to reach Lou Dobbs' coveted demographic of aging anti-immigrant conspiracy theorists?
Perhaps he was given some sort of clue as to how glowing the profile would end up? There isn't really a harsh word in the piece… they cover his dashingly good looks, his affection for Ailes-Hannity-O'Reilly, his purported fairness to both sides, that he worked at the AP once upon a time when it was still fair, and all of the big politicos appearing on his show. The profile's author, Ronald Kessler, even explains to his readers what it means for King to "keep kosher" since his conversion to Judaism.
The only thing that makes sense is the idea that King agreed to the interview because he knew in advance that it would be a puff-piece. Then again, maybe he didn't know Newsmax's history of right-wing incendiary misinformation. For example, back in September the publication ran a column (eventually taken down) stating that a military coup "to resolve the 'Obama problem'" was not "unrealistic." There's a lot more where that came from.
Check out the interview's gems after the break.
As was the case with previous "summit[s]" held by the right-wing website Newsmax, its June 17 Economic Crisis Summit -- featuring Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Dick Morris -- was little more than an infomercial designed to use fears of inflation to sell Newsmax's $1,495 "hot commodities insider membership."
In the run-up to right-wing website Newsmax's June 17 Economic Crisis Summit -- featuring Bill O'Reilly - CEO and Editor in Chief Christopher Ruddy used fear of inflation and skyrocketing gas prices to entice people to attend the event. Previous Newsmax "summit[s]" have similarly stoked fears to drive sales of Newsmax's financial-services products.
NewsMax.com today e-mailed to their readers "a special message from our sponsor;" a fundraising appeal from Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who asked NewsMax readers to donate so that she might have "the ammunition I need to run an aggressive campaign and tell the people of this state who Harry Reid really is: a tax-and-spend liberal, one of the architects of Obamacare, the intellectual Godfather of Cap and Trade."
Screenshot of NewsMax.com's e-mail below the fold:
Earlier today, Karl Frisch highlighted the interest of Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy in buying Newsweek. While Newsmax makes rich Republicans its target demographic -- according to Talkers magazine, 20 percent of its readership claims a net worth of $1 million or more -- it likely doesn't throw off enough money for Ruddy to purchase Newsweek without help.
Enter Richard Mellon Scaife.
Scaife, that longtime right-wing sugar daddy, has been Ruddy's benefactor for well over a decade, since Ruddy brought his Clinton conspiracy-mongering to the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. When Ruddy started Newsmax in 1997, Scaife was among the original investors, and by 2002 he was the third-largest shareholder. Today, all the other shareholders have been bought out, and Scaife and Ruddy are the sole owners of Newsmax, with Ruddy holding a majority stake.
Ruddy and Scaife purchasing Newsweek is not as far-fetched as it sounds, actually. Newsmax already publishes a monthly magazine that, despite an unmistakable rightward tilt, is professionally designed. A Ruddy-operated Newsweek would likely look much as it does now -- but would definitely have a lot more right-wing content, with an additional focus (like its current magazine has) on two other areas of Newsmax interest, money and health. It may also give a bigger platform for longtime Ruddy buddy (and failed prognosticator) Dick Morris, who has a history of helping Ruddy shill for Newsmax' financial products.
If, say, George Soros had expressed interest in buying Newsweek, Fox News wouldn't be able to report on anything else for days. But two right-wing political activists looking into obtaining the number-two weekly newsmagazine is raising barely a ripple.
UPDATE: Newsmax has confirmed that it has made a bid for Newsweek, adding that if it succeeds in obtaining the magazine, "Newsweek would continue in its mission to objectively report the news and provide analysis from a wide spectrum of perspectives."
Newsmax financial-scheme spokesman Dick Morris turned his unique (read: incorrect) brand of political analysis to the results of Tuesday's election contests, making the observation that Sens. Arlen Specter and Blanche Lincoln, by the unfavorable results of their races, "are now reaping the harvest of their votes for healthcare."
That analysis might make sense if their Democratic primary opponents had made their votes for health care reform an issue in the election. But they didn't.
Lincoln's main opponent in the Arkansas primary, Bill Halter -- whom she will face off against in a June runoff after neither candidate got a majority of the vote -- not only supported health care reform but also claimed that Lincoln didn't do enough to improve the bill:
Congress and the President have done the right thing by reforming health care -- although I would also have supported a bill that would have allowed the public to buy into a system that would have also provided more competition and choice.
While the bill wasn't perfect, and it could have been improved with more decisive action instead of only-in-Washington tactics, it will prevent people from being denied health care insurance due to pre-existing conditions and it will begin to provide more than 450,000 uninsured Arkansans the health care they need.
We need to continue to make progress on health care – and that means standing up to the insurance industry and special interests who like the system the way it is. I supported the bill Congress recently passed to rein in health care costs and reduce our national debt. And it helps our seniors who need it most by ending the donut hole in prescription drug coverage and improving Medicare solvency. But Blanche Lincoln sided with the insurance companies and HMOs who gave her campaign more than $800,000 and voted against this effort to make health care reforms even better.
The man who defeated Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Rep. Joe Sestak, voted for the same reform bill Specter did, saying, "With this legislation, Congress is finally tackling the problem of ever-increasing health care costs and health insurance that doesn't protect those enrolled in plans from this growing burden."
It's hard for Lincoln and Specter to be "reaping the harvest of their votes for healthcare" when their primary opponents also supported it.
Undaunted, Morris went on to make this bold prediction about those races in the November election: "The new Senator from Pennsylvania will be Republican nominee Pat Toomey and from Arkansas it will be republican Congressman John Boozman."
Given Morris' abysmal history of political predictions, Toomey and Boozman might not want to rush to pack their bags just yet.