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A letter to Joseph Farah

The following letter was e-mailed to WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah on Sept. 14, 2005:

Dear Mr. Farah:

For years, you have claimed to uphold a brand of journalism that you describe as "credible, fearless, independent." WorldNetDaily's mission statement claims that the organization you founded is "an exponent of truth and justice, an uncompromising disseminator of news." WND has run articles critical of other news organizations that don't disclose their financial interests in the subjects they cover -- for instance, the promotion by CBS' "60 Minutes" of a book by former counterrorism official Richard Clarke without disclosing that the parent companny of Clarke's publisher also owns CBS. And you have personally denounced news organizations who use WND copy without permission or credit; you called it an "ethical disease."

Thus, it was quite a revelation to read your Aug. 30 "news" article, headlined "Feds seize man's $10 million in gold." The bulk of the article is copied nearly word-for-word from an Aug. 27 Reuters article without creditng Reuters for its contribution.

Yet that egregious act of plagiarism was not the only serious ethical violation in your article. You also steered the article in a direction that had nothing to do with the Reuters article that you stole, for no other apparent reason than to promote an advertiser. The Reuters article was about the legal status of gold coins that the federal government considers to be stolen property; you added comments about the legality of private ownership of gold, a question not raised in this case. In doing so, you not only link in your article to an prominent WND advertiser, Swiss America Trading Co. -- a dealer in precious metals such as gold -- you quote from a Swiss America employee without disclosing that connection, and you include copy from the linnked Swiss America promotion in your article. Indeed, WND and Swiss America have an unusually close relationship; not only is Swiss America president Craig Smith a WND columnist (though his Swiss America connection is, strangely, not disclosed in his column bio), Smith has guest-hosted your radio show.

That the founder and leader of a news organization would put his name on such a grossly defective piece of journalism is stunning yet, in this case, not entirely surprising. After all, WorldNetDaily has a long history not only of plagiarism and bias but of blurring the line between news and advertising -- all cardinal journalistic sins, as you surely must know.

I am not expecting an apology from you, though WorldNetDaily's readers undoubtedly deserve one. Rather, I ask that you tell the truth. Stop hiding behind lofty rhetoric you don't live up to and admit what is clear to anyone who reads WorldNetDaily: that you have no interest in the time-honored journalistic principle of telling the news without fear or favor, that WND is merely a vehicle to advance your personal, political and religious views, and that you have no problem with twisting news articles to promote WND's advertisers.

In short: Admit your "ethical disease." As you state on the page that contains WND's mission statement, "the world has a right to know."


Terry Krepel
Editor, ConWebWatch

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Posted 9/14/2005

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