Update: In The Backroom
WND's mostly useless newsletter. Plus: WND undermines its token liberal, a couple of goofy statements, and CNS still can't tell the truth about Otto Reich.
By Terry Krepel
Among the twice-weekday news updates, myriad book offers (sample title: "America's Taliban of Political Correctness") and occasional political solicitations like a recent one from Bob Barr (shouldn't political ads say who's buying them, as the Barr e-mail does not?), people on WorldNetDaily's e-mail list (who, as a result, are not allowed to complain they get no e-mail since WND's output hovers around 20 messages a week) receive something every week called "Backroom," which is described as "WorldNetDaily's 'insider' forum for behind-the-scenes news, tips, insights, predictions and other great and sometimes hilarious stuff."
As ConWebWatch predicted on its launch, "Backroom" is part WND's version of NewsMax, containing tidbits promoting its political agenda ("Watch for WorldNetDaily's blockbuster story Monday on Yasser Arafat's complicity in the murders of two U.S. diplomats in 1973. ... Now there's a startling new development" reads one March 16 entry) and part message from that well-meaning but kind of annoying friend who sends out so-called clever articles to everyone on his e-mail spam list ("A major research institution recently announced discovery of the heaviest element ever observed. ... 'Administratium,'" also March 16).
On the other hand, there is the occasional interesting bit of information to be had. For instance, it was announced in the Feb. 23 "Backroom" that WND chief Joseph Farah and his wife are moving to the Washington, D.C. area. Why? Why do you think? "The Farahs believe the time is right for them to become more visible on the national scene -- and that means being available for TV and other media appearances in the East Coast media corridor." You have been warned.
A Jan. 26 "Backroom," on the other hand, takes note of the fact that Judicial Watch chairman Larry Klayman, who is called "an irregular WorldNetDaily commentator" without any apparent irony, was rebuffed in his attempt to be a co-sponsor of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. ConWebWatch readers, meanwhile, knew conservatives were snubbing Klayman two months before that.
And the March 16 issue includes a preview for WND's magazine, Whistleblower: "May's issue -- just in time for WND's 5th anniversary (we launched in May 1997) -- will be our special edition on the news media. We'll take a hard look at such topics as: the free press in a free society; how the Internet and talk radio have revolutionized the news business; the culture of the Washington press corps (including WND's case against the Senate Press Gallery); the history of the press in the USA; a revealing examination of corporate giants today; how the media aided the Clintons' 8-year reign (of terror). And that's just for starters."
In other words, look for lots of grousing about "liberal bias" and not a word about the conservative bias of news organizations like WND. They know who to call on that subject, but let's just say I'm not exactly going to be camping by the phone in anticipation.
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Ellen Ratner is the token liberal in WorldNetDaily's sea of conservative columnists. But WND seems intent on undermining that.
Ratner wrote a Feb. 15 column proposing, among other things, that gun safety be taught in school. Four days later, WND ran a rebuttal column by Maria Heil, who's with a group called the Second Amendment Sisters, who wrote that gun safety should not be taught in "the anti-gun-biased public-education system."
Yes, newspapers and even WND run rebuttals to op-ed pieces all the time. The interesting thing here is how it was promoted. Ratner's column had a link on the WND commentary page for one day. Heil's rebuttal had a link for four days.
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Most whacked-out recent ConWeb commentary:
"'Ho, hum,' says the U.S. media. 'Don't bother us. We're busy. We have these water buckets we're carrying for NAMBLA.' Those initials stand for the North American Man Boy Love Association. Their long-standing motto, 'sex before eight or it's too late,' only recently revised, makes their intent pretty clear."
-- WorldNetDaily columnist Craige McMillan, March 14
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"WorldNetDaily is, of course, an independent newssite. It is not 'conservative.'"
CNSNews.com still can't tell the whole truth about Otto Reich. A Feb. 27 story on President Bush's plans to renominate Reich as assistant secretary of state for Western hemispheric affairs (he currently holds the post for the next year due to a Bush "recess nomination") dips into the inaccurate CNS archive to state that the only reason people are against Reich's nomination is that he has "irritated Democrats by making statements by making statements in support of the Nicaraguan Contras and against the Sandinistas."
Not a word about Reich's pro-Contra propaganda used on Americans or his reported support of terrorist Orlando Bosch's entry into the United States.
Speaking of rehashing distortions, a Feb 19 story on plans by the Clinton Presidential Library to attract black tourists gave CNS an opportunity to recycle yet again the non-issue of the tearing down of a warehouse reportedly constructed by freed slaves on the library property.
As with the rest of the ConWeb, the Clinton-bashing continues apace at CNS. A March 13 story calls the fact that several former Clinton administration officials are running for office "frightening." The story's lead source? David Bossie, last seen getting fired as an investigator for Rep. Dan Burton for doctoring tapes to remove exculpatory evidence on former Clinton associate Webster Hubbell (which CNS fails to note in its description of Bossie as a "Republican strategist and former Clinton investigator"). And a Feb. 6 story is headlined "Former 'Clinton Apologist' Named to Top Democratic Party Post" despite the fact that the "Clinton apologist" quote doesn't appear until the last paragraph of the 19-paragraph story -- specifically, the last line of the last paragraph. It's generally bad journalistic practice to pull something from the final paragraph to make into the story's headline; if the words are so important to put in a headline, they should be higher up in the story.
Why does CNS do this? Probably because of the reaction it gets from readers when it tries to play it straight. A Feb. 15 story on the filming of a documentary based on the Gene Lyons-Joe Conason book "The Hunting of the President" is actually pretty balanced. But the letters-to-the-editor column a few days later, though, gave CNS readers a chance to bash Clinton where the story wouldn't.
"This (Bill Clinton movie) is another futile attempt to make Clinton years in public service look snowy white and make him look like the victim and discredit anyone who opposes him and his sordid life style," reads one typical reader submission.
Never mind that the movie is about the people who obsessively attacked Clinton and their enablers -- like CNS boss Brent Bozell.