Yesterday, we highlighted a Newsmax column by John L. Perry essentially advocating a military coup to resolve the "Obama problem" (while, of course, claiming he was advocating no such thing). It's just the latest example of extreme right-wing rhetoric directed at President Obama.
Now, it appears that Newsmax has removed the column from its website; the link to it defaults to Perry's main column page. Fortunately, we made a copy.
As of this writing, Newsmax has posted no explanation or apology on its website -- arguably par for the course for Newsmax when it gets caught screwing up. But Media Matters has received the following statement from a Newsmax spokesperson:
In a blog posting to Newsmax John Perry wrote about a coup scenario involving the U.S. military. He clearly stated that he was not advocating such a scenario but simply describing one.
After several reader complaints, Newsmax wanted to insure that this article was not misinterpreted. It was removed after a short period after being posted.
Newsmax strongly believes in the principles of Constitutional government and would never advocate or insinuate any suggestion of an activity that would undermine our democracy or democratic institutions.
Mr. Perry served as a political appointee in the Carter administration in HUD and FEMA. He has no official relationship with Newsmax other than as an unpaid blogger.
Interesting that Newsmax makes a point of highlighting that Perry worked in the Carter administration, as if it somehow proves he's not really a right-wing nut. And its dismissal of Perry as nothing more than an "unpaid blogger" is a tad disingenous since Perry has been writing for Newsmax since 1999 and Perry's Newsmax bio touts how he "contributes a regular column to NewsMax.com."
From John L. Perry's September 29 Newsmax column:
There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America's military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the "Obama problem." Don't dismiss it as unrealistic.
America isn't the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn't mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it.
Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a "family intervention," with some form of limited, shared responsibility?
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.
Military intervention is what Obama's exponentially accelerating agenda for "fundamental change" toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama's radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.
Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don't shrug and say, "We can always worry about that later."
In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.
For months, Newsmax has been running a campaign to rehabilitate the reputation of Bernard Kerik, the former New York police chief and would-be Homeland Security secretary currently under indictment on numerous corruption charges -- indeed, Newsmax loves Kerik so much it made him a columnist. That campaign moved to an absurd level with an article in the September edition of its magazine, hyperbolically headlined "Bernie Kerik: The Trial of an American Hero." Newsmax thought so much of this piece that a PDF of it was created and posted on the Newsmax website. But writers Dave Eberhart and Jim Meyers hide facts in order to portray Kerik is the victim of "overzealous federal prosecutors."
Eberhart and Meyers allow Kerik's attorney to criticize "government tactics in this case, especially the recent third indictment in a new jurisdiction, Washington, D.C." But they fail to accurately explain why those charges were filed in the first place, repeating a claim in an earlier article by Eberhart that the dismissal of certain charges in the New York-based indictment against Kerik "apparently irked the prosecutors, who decided on May 26 to open up the new indictment against Kerik in D.C., including charging him with crimes [Judge Stephen] Robinson had dismissed."
In fact, those charges were dropped specifically so they could be filed in D.C. The judge essentially told prosecutors to do exactly what they did -- as Newsmax itself reported at the time.
Eberhart and Meyers also obfuscate about what exactly Kerik is charged with doing, selectively citing charges that they feel can be easily rebutted. There's no mention, for example, of what The Washington Post described as a $250,000 loan allegedly granted to him on an interest-free basis by an Israeli businessman that Kerik allegely failed to disclose on federal tax returns and when he was nominated by President Bush to be Homeland Security secretary in 2004. There's also no mention of Kerik's alleged failure to report $500,000 in income to the IRS or falsely claiming tens of thousands of dollars in tax deductions.
Eberhart and Meyers reference an inquiry into "whether he aided a New Jersey construction firm in gaining city permits in return for a lowball price on the home work" on Kerik's house without mentioning that, as the Post also reported, the construction firm in question was under investigation by four government agencies for ties to organized crime at the time it did the work for Kerik.
The writers also falsely suggest that one of the charges Kerik faces involves wiretapped phone conversations with then-Westchester County District Attorney (and current TV judge) Jeanine Pirro, who "asked him to conduct surveillance on her husband, whom she suspected of marital infidelity. According to published sources, the tapes indicate Kerik had tried to talk Pirro out of the surveillance." But since Kerik apparently did nothing wrong, he was apparently never charged in that particular incident; the recordings came to light as part of the corruption probe of Kerik.
(Just as Newsmax enthusiastically touted Kerik's DHS nomination at the time, it promoted Pirro's abortive Senate campaign against Hillary Clinton in 2005, declaring any and all unsavory claims against her -- and there were many, largely centering around her two-timing, out-of-wedlock-siring, tax-cheat hubby -- to be "old news" even though most people weren't aware of them.)
Eberhart and Meyers are much more interested in burnishing Kerik's credentials. For instance, they note that "Kerik worked for the Interior Ministry in Baghdad training police recruits," but not that, as the Post reported, the stint "has been widely judged a failure" because Kerik abruptly quit after two months -- or, as Sen. John McCain put it: "Kerik was supposed to be there to help train the police force. He stayed two months, and one day left, just up and left."
The writers cranked up the melodramatic aspect of Kerik's purported victimhood:
Today, Bernard Kerik is fighting for his innocence with a criminal guillotine hanging over his head. Cut off from most of his business and media access, his income has withered.
Despite depleting his entire personal wealth, Kerik is going into the final rounds a wounded, but not beaten, man.
In other words, Eberhart and Meyers aren't doing reporting -- they're writing a hagiography.
One almost has to admire Matthew Vadum, senior editor at the right-wing Capital Research Center, for the sheer audacity of admitting that he doesn't have the facts to support his smear of President Obama, yet going ahead with the smear anyway.
In an Aug. 13 Newsmax article suggesting that an advertiser boycott campaign of Glenn Beck's Fox News show spearheaded by the group Color for Change, co-founded by current Obama administration official Van Jones, is "being orchestrated with some high level help from the Obama White House," reporter David A. Patten quotes Vadum as saying, "I don't have proof that the White House asked Color of Change to help it fight back against Glenn Beck ... But I wouldn't be surprised to learn it had. Van Jones has the president's ear. It's a few hundred feet from his office at the Council on Environmental Quality to the Oval Office."
That's it. The relative proximity of Jones' and Obama's offices -- a mere football field length away from each other! -- plus Vadum's baseless speculation are all the evidence Patten offers of this purported scheme.
It's hard to tell who's more foolish here -- Vadum for making such a boldly empty claim or Patten for building an article around it.
Several media conservatives have criticized President Obama for creating an "environment" and "climate" that helped foster the recent shooting at the Holocaust Museum.
Hours after the Holocaust Museum shooting, Newsmax.com published a column by Rabbi Dr. Morton H. Pomerantz headlined, "Obama Breeds Climate of Hate Against Jews." From the June 10 column:
Our new president did not tell a virulent anti-Semite to travel to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington to kill Jews, but he is most certainly creating a climate of hate against us.
It is no coincidence that we are witnessing this level of hatred toward Jews as President Barack Obama positions America against the Jewish state.
While Obama acknowledged that "six million Jews were killed - more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today" - his discussion about the Holocaust was followed by this statement: "On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."
"On the other hand . . . "?
Obama's clever construct comparing the mass genocide of six million Jews to the Palestinian struggle will not be lost on the estimated 100 million Muslims who tuned into to hear him.
Perhaps it was not lost on James W. von Brunn, the 88-year-old white supremacist identified as the alleged attacker Wednesday at the Holocaust Museum. He apparently felt that he could easily take retribution against the Jews for the atrocities Obama implies they are guilty of.
The column is promoted at the top of Newsmax:
Some prominent media conservatives have harshly criticized President Obama's speech in Cairo, while others offered praise for Obama's address.
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Right-wing website Newsmax reports:
Join Vitter, Coburn, Ruddy in New York
Sunday, May 17, 2009 7:24 PM
The largest conservative insider meeting - The Monday Meeting in New York - will take place in New York this Monday, May 18.
This important meeting will include Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Bob McDonnell, the former Virginia attorney general and Republican nominee for governor of Virginia, also will be there.
Obviously, it's probably too late for you to be there in person.
But thanks to Fox News, the Monday Meeting will be streamed live at www.foxnews.com/strategyroom.
To view the meeting, which will air Monday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. EDT, simply go to www.foxnews.com/strategyroom.
The Monday Meeting has received extensive coverage in the media. The Meeting has been profiled in New York Magazine and the Washington Post, among other publications and referenced extensively on electronic media. This is the first time that the meeting has been opened up to a broader audience.
In addition to attending "conservative insider meetings," Ruddy's past work involved spreading discredited conspiracy theories about the death of Vince Foster. Numerous official investigations have conclusively established that Foster committed suicide.
In the March/April 1996 Columbia Journalism Review, contributing editor Trudy Lieberman reported:
That Christopher Ruddy would win the Western Journalism Center's first "Courage in Journalism Award," with its crystal trophy and $2,000 check, is hardly surprising. Ruddy is a free-lance writer for the Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Tribune-Review, whose oeuvre is the 1993 death of White House aide Vincent Foster. The Western Journalism Center, based in suburban Sacramento, bills itself in a biweekly newsletter as a "nonprofit tax-exempt corporation promoting independent investigative reporting" and "the only national news agency supporting a full-time probe of the mysterious death of White House deputy counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr." What this means, it seems, is that the Center mostly recycles stories written by Christopher Ruddy.
Ruddy was a reporter for the New York Post until the summer of 1994. A few months later he was hired by the Tribune-Review, which is owned and published by Richard Mellon Scaife, a Pittsburgh philanthropist well-known for funding right-wing causes and media watchdog organizations (see "Citizen Scaife," cjr, July/August 1981). At the Tribune-Review, Ruddy, who did not return calls to cjr, turns out frequent Foster stories, often on Sunday. The Western Journalism Center, too, has a strong connection to Scaife: last year a good chunk of its funding came from the Carthage Foundation, one of several foundations connected to him. Another large Center contributor is James Dale Davidson, who co-edits the newsletter Strategic Investment and is also chairman of the National Taxpayers Union, a conservative group whose research arm has received thousands of dollars from Scaife foundations.
One of the Center's major activities is trying to inject the dark view of Foster's death into mainstream reporting and thinking. Last year, to this end, the Center bought full-page ads in several major newspapers, including The New York Times, to showcase Ruddy's work and to offer for sale special Vince Foster reports, including a compilation of Ruddy's stories, titled "The Ruddy Investigation," for $12, and a forty-minute "riveting new video documentary" titled "Unanswered -- The Death of Vincent Foster," which Ruddy helped produce, and which goes for $35.
In an October 19, 1997, Slate.com review of Ruddy's book The Strange Death of Vincent Foster: An Investigation, Michael Isikoff wrote:
Ruddy, of course, is the Inspector Clouseau of the Foster case -- a determined, if bumbling, former New York Post reporter who has virtually single-handedly spawned a cottage industry of conspiracy buffs dedicated to the proposition that a foul and monstrous cover-up surrounds the circumstances of Foster's death.
Financed by a cranky right-wing philanthropist, Richard Mellon Scaife, Ruddy's repeated bromides about the Foster case have been republished in newspaper ads across the country; his sheer persistence has led some casual observers to conclude he might be on to something. The Strange Death, published by The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, is endorsed as "serious and compelling" by former FBI Director William Sessions. In the New York Times Book Review, National Review senior editor Richard Brookhiser chides political journalists for failing to pursue Ruddy's many "unanswered questions" about the case.
Don't worry, when it comes to how Foster died, there aren't any -- or none that matter. Ruddy's book -- and the entire movement he has helped create -- is utterly preposterous. Turgidly written and dense with 534 footnotes and seven appendixes, Ruddy's plodding book repeatedly confuses the evidence and chases after scores of imaginary holes in the official verdict -- without ever positing an alternative scenario that makes the least bit of sense.
A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
On Fox & Friends, Michelle Malkin falsely suggested that Minnesota's State Canvassing Board is comprised of no Republicans, while, in a column, Newsmax's Lowell Ponte claimed that the "selection of the Canvassing Board and the recount were controlled by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie." In fact, the board is bipartisan.
In a Newsmax.com article, purporting to respond to Media Matters' recent analysis documenting falsehoods in her new book, Ann Coulter advanced new ones.
Since the beginning of October, Dick Morris has repeatedly used his columns and Fox News appearances to promote and raise money for the National Republican Trust PAC without disclosing that the organization has paid $24,000 to a company apparently connected to Morris, according to FEC filings. During that time, Morris' email newsletter has frequently included ads that state: "Paid for by The National Republican Trust PAC."
Syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, falsely asserted in a column that Sen. Hillary Clinton "said that Chelsea [Clinton] was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 and happened to duck into a coffee shop when the airplanes hit. She said that this move saved Chelsea's life." In fact, Hillary Clinton made no such claim.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler truncated Sen. Barack Obama's response to a controversial statement by his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., about 9-11, repeating a statement from a New York Times interview in which Obama said "it sounds like [Wright] was trying to be provocative." But Kessler omitted Obama's statement, reported in the same article, disagreeing with Wright's 9-11 comments: "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification."