If you're a conservative American -- which, aside from my views on gay marriage, gun control, military spending, healthcare, the separation of church and state, waterboarding, the estate tax and a woman's right to choose, I totally am -- Newsmax is like a warm blanket. It swaddles you in images of Condi Rice (front and back cover) and warms you with steamy anti-tax rhetoric. Is Hillary's primary comeback giving you a tummy ache? Newsmax has just the cure: a top-10 list of ways the Democrats can guarantee a GOP victory in 2008. Number 1? "Make Hillary the nominee." There, there, how's mummy's special little Norquist feeling now?
What Newsmax won't do is explore any issue deeply enough to leave you well informed. For example, an article claiming that taxes in the U.S. will soar by 50% if a Democrat is elected President never bothers to ask whether the country might actually be better off with, say, healthcare, if that happens -- or even explore what the "Tax less, spend more!" policies of recent years have done to the U.S. economy. Seems to me such context might be of value here.
Of course, this is nothing unusual for political magazines with a point of view. You'll never see "The Top 10 Things We Love About Domestic Wiretapping" in Mother Jones or "Global Warming Ain't So Bad" in the Utne Reader. And hell, Michael Moore has made an art of producing wildly provocative movies that utterly ignore facts inconvenient to his conclusions. Myopic worldviews are hardly exclusive to the right wing.
Still, I've never found any of these magazines -- Newsmax included -- to be particularly satisfying. I don't know about you, but I always thought the point of reading anything was to, you know, learn something. I've never understood the appeal of a magazine that serves only to reconfirm what you already believe. Am I the only one who finds that boring? Personally, I read the Weekly Standard a lot more often than The Nation. Why? It's hysterical! Also, smaller words.
But if political pandering is what you're looking for, Newsmax is as good a magazine as any. Almost. Frankly, the writing weighs in at about a fourth-grade level, making the whole enterprise feel a bit like Highlights for Republicans. And the sloppy cut-and-paste graphics look only slightly better than the menu at your average off-ramp diner. (For a good time, check out the image of Mitt Romney done up Lewinsky-style on page 42, complete with a beret and oversize cigar. High-larious!).
Not all of Newsmax is a bust. In fact, once it puts down the flame thrower and does some actual journalism -- or something like it -- it can be kind of interesting. An article on the debate over lowering the drinking age to 18 again was balanced and even nominally informative. Heck, I didn't even know this debate was going on. (Is it?) A Q&A with CNN curmudgeon Jack Cafferty is good, too, if only because he answers nearly every question with some polite version of, "What are you, an idiot?" And you have to give props to any magazine that hands over a full page of real estate every month to both Dick Morris and Dr. Laura Schlessinger. This month, Dr. Laura uses her "Life & Trends" column to offer the following advice to married couples: A good foot rub will end any fight. Way to use that degree, Doc.
OK, maybe that was unfair. I can't actually swear that Dr. Laura has a degree in anything, just as I can't be sure whether Captain Crunch has an armada. But I do know this: Even the Captain's cereal offers more nourishment than anything in Newsmax, and that ain't saying much.
Published by: Newsmax Media, Inc.
Frequency: MonthlyWeb site