WorldNetDaily is in business with Paul Nehlen, having published his anti-"globalist" book "Wage the Battle" in July, which also apparently serves as a manifesto of sorts for his quixotic 2018 Republican primary challenge against House Speaker Paul Ryan. (How quixotic? Nehlen ran against Ryan in 2016 and lost by 68 percentage points.) WND is also selling a Nehlen-produced anti-Muslim film called "Hijrah," which purports to expose "the dark underworld of the Muslim refugee crisis."
But WND is also in business with Nehlen in another way: It's effectively the PR shop for Nehlen's longshot campaign, in an apparent attempt to make it somewhat less quixotic.
The June 16 WND article announcing Nehlen's candidacy was written by Paul Bremmer -- who works on the marketing side, not the "news" side, not that there's much difference between the two at WND in practical terms -- touted Nehlen's "spirited" campaign against Ryan in 2016 but didn't mention he lost by 68 points, or that WND published his book, which is prominently promoted in the article.
This was followed by a series of articles featuring Nehlen bashing Ryan:
- An anonymously written June 25 article let Nehlen complain that Ryan is "actively thwarting" President Trump and is "giving a blank check to the left's priorities."
- On July 14, Liam Clancy -- an WND "news" intern -- forgoes any pretense of journalistic balance in writing of Nehlen: "Everyday Americans are sick of the corruption in Washington, and one man plans to 'drain the swamp' himself, by starting in his own congressional district."
- A July 26 article by Clancy touted Nehlen's tweeting that "'Ryan never misses an opportunity to undermine [President Trump]' and that Ryan has spent more time defending Mueller rather than defending 'this nation from illegal aliens,' defending President Trump, and defunding 'Obama’s spending priorities,'" adding, "Stop and think about how much good work we could do if Paul Ryan was an America First guy."
- An anonymously written July 29 article gives Nehlen a platform to rant about "we have a Congress full of spineless jellyfish, unwilling to fulfill their oath of office to protect and defend this country from enemies foreign and domestic." the anonymous writer also gushes over "Hijrah" as "the most explosive documentary of the year. It reveals an Islamic invasion like no other before it."
- An Aug. 1 article by Bremmer is a fluffy profile of Nehlen, pumping up his credentials as a "businessman and inventor" and hyping Nehlen's alleged hope to "bring a message of hope and encouragement to business leaders and working-class people – not just in Wisconsin’s first district, but all across America."
- An anonymously written Aug. 26 article promoted how Nehlen "contends the speaker [Ryan] is betraying the GOP grassroots by failing to forcefully condemn 'Antifa.'" (The anonymous writer also asserts without evidence that Antifa "instigated the violence in Charlottesville.")
Even before Nehlen officially announced his campaign, WND was giving Nehlen a platform to bash Ryan:
- Wisconsin Republican: Ryan is 'Quisling of Capitol Hill'
- Primary challenger: Ryan trying to 'undermine' Trump
- Paul Ryan 'Beaver Cleaver at home, Eddie Haskell in D.C.'
- Man who challenged Paul Ryan: 'We're defenders of this generation'
In none of these articles, however, does WND indicated they ever attempted to contact Ryan for a response on Nehlen's attacks. That tell us that this is public relations -- not news. Which makes WND's work an in-kind contribution to Nehlen's campaign.
The Federal Election Commission has laws regulating the use and disclosure of in-kind contributions. Both Nehlen and WND would be wise to follow them. Unless, of course, Nehlen is actually paying WND for all of this fawning, uncritical press, in which case that would have to be disclosed as well.