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Saturday, May 30, 2009
WND Quietly Makes False Obama Attack (Mostly) Disappear
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has published so many lies about Barack Obama that it makes no effort whatsoever to correct that it's a shock when it actually tries to disassociate itself from a false claim it forwards.

On May 24, WND published the following article:

Revealed: 'The Obama birth certificate protection act'?
Bill would prohibit compelling executive branch from releasing documents

Posted: May 24, 2009
9:12 pm Eastern

© 2009 WorldNetDaily

WASHINGTON – A bill approved by the House of Representatives and referred to the Senate would prohibit federal employees of the executive branch from being compelled to release any document unless a court makes a specified determination by a preponderance of evidence – legislation at least one group suspects is designed to protect Barack Obama's elusive birth certificate from release.

The legislation, HR 985, resides in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sovereignty Alliance has issued a "red alert" about the bill it calls "stealth legislation ... to protect Obama from providing his birth certificate."

"It wouldn't surprise me a bit if this were one of the intended consequences of this legislation," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, who last week initiated a national billboard campaign to bring attention to the issue of Obama's missing birth certificate and what it might say about his claim to be a "natural born citizen," a status necessary to serving in the White House.

"In any case, this bill puts the lie to this administration and this Congress being the most ethical and transparent in American history," Farah said. "They're very open when it comes to the secrets of previous administrations, but when it comes to their own work, it is shrouded in secrecy. Even the president's birth certificate and student records are well-guarded state secrets."

That article has since disappeared from the WND website. But, since you can't ever totally delete anything from the Internet, here's a copy of the entire article.(And here's another copy.)

Why did it disappear? Presumably because it's totally false. Here's what HR 985 actually does:

Prohibits a federal entity (an entity or employee of the judicial or executive branch or an administrative agency of the federal government), in any matter arising under federal law, from compelling a covered person to testify or produce any document unless a court makes specified determinations by a preponderance of the evidence, including determinations: (1) relating to exhaustion of alternative sources, (2) that the testimony or document sought is critical; (3) that disclosure of the information source's identity is necessary; and (4) that the public interest in compelling disclosure of the information or document involved outweighs the public interest in gathering or disseminating news or information. Allows a court, in making the last of those determinations, to consider the extent of any harm to national security.

Defines "covered person" as a person who regularly gathers, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes information concerning matters of public interest for dissemination to the public for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or substantial financial gain, including a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such a person. Excludes from that definition foreign powers and their agents and certain terrorist organizations and individuals.

In other words, the bill does the opposite of what WND claims it does. Rather than "prohibit[ing] federal employees of the executive branch from being compelled to release any document," it prohibits federal officials from demanding documents from journalists except under certain circumstances.

Even though WND editor Farah himself is quoted in the article, at no point has WND acknowledged to its readers that it published a false article or issued a correction for it, even though numerous people were suckered into believing it.

Right-wing writer Sher Zieve, for example, posted an article based on the WND report before realizing that "my (and others') interpretation of HR 985 may not be as accurate as first thought," adding: "I don't often make this type of mistake and I plan to have a slice of humble pie."

WND manages to commit a bad-journalism twofer: not only did it publish a false story, it refused to formally retract it and tell its readers that the story is false. It's just one of the many, many reasons that WND is a journalistic failure.

(h/t Pink Flamingo, Faultline USA)

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, May 30, 2009 9:30 AM EDT

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