From left: Larry Klayman, Joseph Farah, Mara Zebest and Jerome Corsi.
We've noticed the increasing irrelevance of WorldNetDaily, due to the overall vengeful yet factually dubious nature of its reporting. We saw firsthand another example in the press conference WND held June 29 to formally announce its defamation lawsuit against Esquire magazine over a piece of satire WND didn't find funny.
To put a patina of credibility on the proceedings, WND rented a small conference room (this one) at the National Press Club in Washington. Pretty much anyone can rent a room there -- remember, the utterly discredited Larry Sinclair discredited himself even more there. WND paid a few hundred bucks for a room with a flat-screen TV in order to make its little dog and pony show look professional.
Indeed, WND tries to ride the supposed credibility of location in its own article on the press conference, with the headline "Eligibility takes center stage at National Press Club." In fact, there were much larger events going on at the NPC at the same time, one of which was using the actual "center stage" of the NPC ballroom.
Inside the Bloomberg Room, members of the press were far outnumbered by people affiliated with WND. In fact, there were only two members of the press there: a writer for AdWeek and myself. (AdWeek's article on the press conference is here.) Another person appearing to be a reporter asked questions, but she was apparently affiliated with WND as well.
Before anyone could ask any questions about the lawsuit, though, WND felt it had to push its birther agenda in order to provide what WND editor Joseph Farah called "very important background" to the lawsuit. First up was Jerome Corsi, who took credit for forcing President Obama's release of his long-form birth certificate, going on to declare that "a person we've had in the Deartment of Health in Hawaii who has been a mole to us, giving us information, said that the birth certificate had been forged and was now the logbook." Corsi asserted that "with the release of that document, the entire future of the Obama presidency depends on the authenticity of that document."
Corsi went on to declare that the patient records of Obama's mother or the doctor that delivered him because they "remain under seal as part of a continuing cover-up" -- apparently unaware that all American's health records "remain under seal" because of federal privacy laws for health records.
Next up was Mara Zebest, who had produced an analysis of the PDF file of the birth certificate released by the White House that WND had promoted earlier that day. After a bit of fumbling around on the laptop computer for the proper files, Zebest served up examples of why she thinks the certificate was "manufactured digitally." (The Obama Conspiracy blog has a quick overview of why she's wrong.) Zebest was introduced as an expert on Adobe software, but like WND's previous Adobe "expert" Gary Poyssick, the three books listed under her name at Amazon.com (where's she's also listed as Mara Zebest Nathanson) are about Photoshop, not Adobe Acrobat or the PDF format. (Zebest claimed later in the press conference, in answer to a question from me, that she has expertise in Acrobat and PDFs.)
Corsi and Zebest try to solve an computer issue with Zebest's presentation on why the long-form birth certificate Obama released is a fraud.
Later, in an attempt to portray Zebest as something other than politically motivated, Farah said that Zebest "is a lifelong Democrat. In 2008 she was a Hillary supporter." Farah didn't mention that birther lawyer Philip Berg was a Hillary supporter too, which undercuts his argument.
Finally, 21 minutes into the press conference, it was time for the main event. Larry Klayman, WND's lawyer, took the podium to pontificate about the lawsuit. Klayman asserted about the Esquire article: "It was amateur. It was rank. It hurt." Klayman then dramatically read through the entire Esquire post, than asserted that the satire piece "was obviously calculated with malice to destroy not just the book and its sales but to destroy the reputations of Mr. Corsi and Mr. Farah. The stupidity of this is beyond belief. The legal actionability of this is believable." Klayman claimed that the book "hasn't nearly sold as well as it would have soldif the damage had not been done by Esquire and [blog post author Mark] Warren."
Klayman then explained the charges under which he's seeking damages: defamation, invasion of privacy, false light, tortious interference with business, and violation of the Lanham Act for "false advertising." WND is seeking a total of at least $225 million from Esquire for actual and punitive damages on the five counts. (We didn't get a chance to ask how that figure related to the still-secret amount of money WND had to pay Clark Jones in an out-of-court settlement to settle a libel lawsuit, in which WND also admitted it published numerous false claims about Jones.)Klayman also claimed that "neither Mr. Farah or Mr. Corsi or WorldNetDaily Books or WorldNetDaily wished to engage Esquire, Mark Warren, or the Hearst Corporation on any of these issues. They were forced into this." But later in the press conference that he made no effort to contact Esquire or Hearst regarding the issue before filing the lawsuit, stating that Farah's threats to sue Esquire "was an invitation for Mr. Warren, Esquire and Hearst to contact us and say, hey, you know, we did something wrong here."
Finally, it was question time. In addition to claiming that she has experience in Acrobat and PDFs, Zebest claimed in another question from me that she examined the PDF file in the program it was originally created in. But has Obama Conspiracy noted, Zebest stated in her analysis that "she believed that the document was created in Adobe Photoshop, ignoring that the document properties say it was made by Mac OS X Quartz PDFContext, an inexcusable omission and mark of a sloppy analysis."
Farah said that 65,000 copies of Corsi's book were printed and distributed. He claimed that one retail shop returned its copies of the book in response to the Esquire article.
Klayman asserted that the fact the Esquire blog post was tagged as satire was not a mitigating factor in his lawsuit. Farah said the post's reference to "Capricorn One" -- a movie about a faked moon landing -- was not a sufficient clue to the satirical nature of the post because so much of the article was untrue. This led to a mini-rant by Klayman about the falsehoods in his Wikipedia profile "which we have not been able to correct." (Note to Klayman: That's not how Wikipedia works.)
I asked Klayman why he thinks he will do better in this lawsuit than he did in the lawsuit he filed on WND's behalf last year against the White House Correspondents Association over its refusal to sell WND as many tickets as it demanded for the annual correspondents' dinner, a lawsuit that was swiftly tossed out of court. Klayman brusquely replied: "Well, first of all, we decided not to pursue that. But the issue here is this case, not that case, so if you want to relive that case, we'll do that some other time."
I pointed out to Corsi that, his and Farah's assertions to the contrary, there are people who will defend the authenticity of the PDF birth certificate or at least rebut its attackers, such as Dr. Conspiracy's detailed rebuttal of the Ken Vogt analysis that Corsi devoted three WND articles to. Corsi's response was a curious one: After calling Dr. Conspiracy "one of my favorites," Corsi said, 'I'll be writing about Dr. Conspiracy in the next few days. I'll be exposing his background, his entire credentials, his involvement with his company. I've got a detailed -- I just haven't had time to write it up."
When I asked Corsi why he's personally attacking his critics by digging into their backgrounds, Corsi suddenly softened his tone: "I'm sorry, I said I would evaluate his credentials. It's not a personal attack, but we're going to evaluate his credentials in his point-by-point."
Finally, I tried to ask Farah if he could confirm Tim Adams' assertion that the affidavit he signed claiming that he had been told that no copy of Obama's birth certificate existed in state files was created by WND-affiliated lawyers. Here's how that exchange went:
FARAH: I really don't -- Terry, If you want to obsess about stuff like that, I invite you to do so. I would really like to focus on why the president of the United States and the White House are issuing bogus birth certificates rather than why somebody at WorldNetDaily, which lawyer they consulted to --
ME: But if you're creating news to forward the story --
FARAH: Terry, we all know your work.
ME: You're creating news and not reporting it.
FARAH: We appreciate all of the attention that you devote to WND.com. Thanks very much.
And with that the press conference came to an abrupt end.
Given Farah's abject refusal to answer such a simple question, we suspect Farah really doesn't appreciate the kind of attention from us that forces him and his website to be held accountable for their actions.