P Is For Premium. P Is For Porn. P Is For Pretending to Be Offended.
It was OK when it was giving the stuff away, but Salon's now charging for 'erotic art,' and WorldNetDaily doesn't like it.
By Terry Krepel
"Salon.com now sells porn," read the headline on the April 26 above-the-nameplate WorldNetDaily story.
Which greatly overstates the case. The story's subhead gets a little closer to the truth: "Offers 'premium-only galleries of erotic art and photography' for a price." The story itself makes sure to use the word "pornography" before you get to the full description of its new $30-a-year Premium service, which also includes special coverage of the Bush administration, summaries of reality-based TV shows and the blocking of most advertising. Oh yeah -- and "premium-only galleries of erotic art and photography in Salon Sex."
The story, by Julie Foster, buries the two most relevant facts. It's not until after Foster recounts the unrelated tale of Yahoo's attempt to sell pornography that someone from Salon is allowed to explain this decision, resulting in Relevant Fact No. 1 (which we'll come back to later.)
And it's not until the final paragraph of this story, following a Salon-bashing ("Salon is clearly desperate as the capital it raised evaporates in the next several months"), self-righteous ("I think it goes without saying that WorldNetDaily would never consider such a move") statement from WND editor Joseph Farah, that the real news is revealed, Relevant Fact No. 2: "Farah also announced that, as a result of Salon’s decision to market porn, WorldNetDaily would no longer link to news and commentary articles at the site." Not that WND linked to much on Salon in the first place, mostly reliable conservative David Horowitz (who has his own site that WND can link to) and occasional conservative Camille Paglia.
WorldNetDaily has these fits of morality on occasion; in February, it dumped an ad agency because the banner ads it supplied to the site offended Farah. How so? "The ads that Farah found offensive range from the promotion of online gambling to the marketing of national television programs that, he says, he would never allow his own children to watch," according to the story by David Kupelian. The story doesn't include a response from the ad agency about the decision.
(WND, meanwhile, has its own scheme for generating more money: the voluntary subscription.)
Farah, in his April 30 column, explains that his blackout on Salon stems from the fact that he really, really doesn't like pornography, and anyone who doesn't agree with his decision is, well, heading to hell in a handbasket.
"Well, I guess I hit a nerve with the porn fans," Farah writes. "I'm just doing my own little part to discourage sin. I'm not prosecuting anyone. I'm not persecuting anyone. I am using my platform here atWorldNetDaily to denounce evil and to hold up a higher standard. I'm a little surprised my move is so controversial. It must say something about the depths to which sin has led our culture."
Suprisingly, most of the letters WND has published about the decision have been against it. (WND doesn't archive its letters; they cycle out after about a week.) One reader wrote in: "WND is supposedly an unbiased news source, and yet you are determining policy (though this a small one, who to link to and who not to) by your Christian beliefs. That is not unbiased. Makes me wonder if some articles or submissions have been omitted due to not being consistent with your personal beliefs?"
Another person writes: "A number of interesting items have appeared, via WND, in the Salon.com pages. By cutting them off, you weaken the selection of items in your pages. Babies and bathwater." And another reader: "I too will probably ignore your website since you have decided to only link to "moral" articles and quite possibly ignore really good stories." Not everyone was civil about it though; one person wrote: "Dear Mr. Farah: What a nauseatingly self-righteous prick you are! Yuk!!"
(NewsMax, meanwhile, says in a May 1 story that Salon is "under fire for peddling porn" though the only questions about it have been raised by WorldNetDaily, which NewsMax refuses to mention by name. It also gleefully reports that Salon's stock is in danger of getting delisted from the Nasdaq index because it's trading for less than $1 a share.)
All this public hand-wringing, though, is just an exercise in hypocrisy on WND's part.
Why? Back to Relevant Fact No. 1. In WND's original April 26 story, Salon's senior vice president for business operations, Patrick Hurley, was permitted to give his explanation (deep in the story) for Salon's decision, pointing out the difference between Yahoo!'s and Salon's approach to sexually explicit and graphic material.
"We are providing galleries of erotic art, not pornographic videos as Yahoo was doing," said Hurley. "The erotic art galleries are not even new to Salon, as we've run them in the past in our Salon Sex site and are simply now requiring that viewers now be subscribers to access that material."
That's right -- Salon has had this stuff all along for free; you just have to pay to see it now. Where was Farah's outrage against Salon's "erotic art" when it was giving it away?
Probably the same place he keeps the snicker he must be suppressing every time he insists that WorldNetDaily is an "independent" web site.