Surprise: O'Reilly-Newsmax “summit” is an infomercial for a financial product

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.”

“Summit” really an infomercial designed to scare viewers into buying Newsmax's “hot commodities insider membership”

Purpose of the “summit” was to sell a “hot commodities insider membership” for $1,495. After speaking to O'Reilly, Morris, and some investors about the risk of upcoming inflation and promoting commodities as a hedge against inflation, summit host John Daly announced that Newsmax was offering a “hot commodities insider membership” designed by Dennis May for $1,995 -- or $1,495 for the first 1,000 subscribers (Daly stated that the package “is worth $5,681”). The membership would include “at least 36 powerful recommendations in the hot commodities super income portfolio,” as well as “around 24 recommendations in the hot commodities profit accelerator portfolio” in order to “hunt those enormous triple- and quadruple-digit profit opportunities.” Each recommendation in each portfolio “will use the proprietary system Dennis May created” based on a “revolutionary formula that was developed by nuclear physicists in 1945” to “run over 30,000 simulations” in order to “predict the largest commodities profit opportunity.” The package also includes a set of instructional DVDs about commodities markets, a “comprehensive trading manual,” an insider website subscription, a list of “the best master limited partnerships for protecting your wealth from overtaxation,” and email alerts.

Morris: "[V]ery significant inflation," tax increases are “looming with Obama.” Several “summit” guests stoked fears about the risks of inflation in order to push commodities as a hedge for investors. For example, during the summit, Morris asserted that Obama has “racked up $4 trillion” of debt in 18 months, adding that “by election day,” another trillion will be added to the national debt. He also warned that “very significant inflation” is “looming with Obama,” adding that “Obama is planning to raise taxes next year, and nothing is going to deter him,” and warning that interest rates and energy prices will be going up, causing a “major increase in inflation.”

Previous “summit[s]” similarly stoked fears to sell financial products

As Media Matters has documented, Newsmax has repeatedly used anti-Obama rhetoric and stoked fear of hyperinflation to drive sales of the financial service products it offers. Newsmax's promotions enticed participants to spend $1,295 or more on investment schemes that promise a “Potential Reward” of thousands in return. The investment schemes centered on stock tips from Newsmax's “chief financial adviser” and advice on entering foreign currency trading markets. Several of Newsmax's webcasts have featured Morris.

O'Reilly headlines summit, but is not “endors[ing] a product or financial service”

Daly made clear O'Reilly was “not here ... to endorse a product or financial service.” At the beginning of his interview with O'Reilly, Daly announced that O'Reilly was not “here to endorse anyone's point of view or to endorse product or financial service,” adding that O'Reilly was “joining us just to give us” his take. From the Newsmax summit:

DALY: Hello, my name is John Daly, and I'd like to welcome you the Economic Crisis Summit. Joining me now is the man more Americans turn to for straight talk than anyone else about how the news will impact your life. Every weeknight, more than 5 million Americans tune in to his show, The O'Reilly Factor, making it the number one cable news program for over nine years. He's won Emmy and Media Courage awards and has authored numerous New York Times bestselling books, including his latest, A Bold, Fresh Piece of Humanity. Bill O'Reilly, thanks for joining us today.

O'REILLY: OK, John. Nice to see you.

DALY: Great to have you here. First of all, I want to mention to our viewers that you are really here to give your unvarnished views about our economic situation and how it's going to impact Americans. You're not here to endorse anyone else's point of view or to endorse a product or financial service. You're joining us just to give us your take."

However, O'Reilly did advise viewers that gold “is a good hedge,” although they should “be very careful about what they buy. From the Newsmax summit:

DALY: I'd like to show you a chart now, Bill. On your screen, you can see how much gold has risen in value since President Obama took office. Late last year on your show, you mentioned to Glenn Beck that you had purchased a bunch of gold because you think the Obama administration is mishandling the economy. So with inflation and a fragile dollar, should investors look into commodities like gold that benefit from both of these very real threats?

O'REILLY: Yes, but you have to be very careful. I made some good money buying gold about a year and a half ago. And I took some profits. But I still hold some gold. But you've gotta be very careful. Gold will always be valuable. Always. All right?

Now, it may not be as valuable if the dollar stabilizes, this and that, but it will always be valuable. So it is a good hedge. And there's a number of ways to play it. You can buy bullion, you can buy coins, or you can buy companies that trade gold, gold-mining companies, things like that.

DALY: Bill, good advice. Thank you very much.

O'Reilly also “recommend[ed]” that “elderly viewers ... dependent on a monthly check” buy “stocks that are beaten up.” Later during the summit, O'Reilly offered the following advice for “elderly viewers who are dependent on a monthly check”:

O'REILLY: The most important thing for your elderly viewers who are dependent on a monthly check from their investments is to be smart about what to do in the next two years. So, as you rightly mention, CDs pay nothing, savings accounts pay nothing. In fact, you're losing money, because inflation is more than what you get.

I would recommend, and I know I'm going out on a limb here, because you might get hurt doing this, so don't do it because I said so. But think about it. Buying stocks that are beaten up, all right? And you can just easily tell what the 52-week high and low is. Buying stocks that have gotten hammered but do pay a decent dividend. You get money from them. They pay it to you. And, if the stock is beaten up right now, there's a good chance it'll go up, so that you make money on your stock purchase as well. But there's a chance it'll go down.

[unintelligible] don't buy a lot of anything, but spread it out. You can get a good dividend, you can get some money flow coming in, and you have a better-than-even chance of making money in the five-year period on the stock itself. That's the best thing I could tell your viewers. That's what I am doing.

While O'Reilly claimed independence, Newsmax repeatedly used him to bolster webcast viewership

As Media Matters has previously noted, Newsmax CEO and editor in chief Christopher Ruddy sent several emails promoting the event -- many of which spread fear about inflation and soaring gas prices - all prominently highlighting O'Reilly's presence.

Morris: I'm “no expert on investing,” but will be buying Newsmax's product

Morris announced he'll purchase Newsmax's “reasonable” financial service product. During the summit, Morris announced that while he's “no expert on investing,” the product “sounds reasonable,” so he's “going to give it a try.” From the Newsmax summit:

DALY: All right. So, if we're stuck by runaway inflation, isn't it smart for investors to look into certain commodities such as gold that actually benefit from times like these?

MORRIS: Well, sure. I mean, the other alternative is the PSP: the Posturepedic Savings Program. You put it under your mattress. But if you're looking for something that inflates in value, not just in nominal value, sure, that makes sense in these kind of times.

DALY: Dick, Dennis May is about to rejoin us. Dennis used commodities stocks and options to help build an $11 million fortune in under five years. In a few minutes, he's going to give average Americans an exciting opportunity to potentially make over $3,600 a month using a powerful commodities program he's developed.

Now, folks who maybe don't have a ton of money or experience investing with commodities will get Dennis' advice and have the chance to profit despite President Obama's policies. Now, Dick, I was told you'll be signing up for Dennis' program. Is that correct?

MORRIS: Yeah. You know, listen, John, I'm no expert on investing. My gig is politics and a bit of economics and all of that, so I'm not an expert investor. But it sounds reasonable to me. The guy's got a good track record, so I'm going to give it a try.

Morris previously endorsed Newsmax's stock tips scheme. During his appearance on Newsmax's May 7, 2009, “Call to Arms” webcast, Morris said of Newsmax's “Your Million Dollar Secret Code” stock tips package, which that “summit” was intended to sell, “I sure am putting my own money into it.” He also suggested the “Million Dollar Code” was “a strategy” people could use to “keep yourself safe” from “the kind of offensive Obama is launching against the American economy.”