A fluffy WorldNetDaily story on an anti-abortion activist leaves out most of the controversy.
By Terry Krepel
Neal Horsley, misunderstood victim? That's what WorldNetDaily would like you to believe.
Horsley is the man behind a Web site called Christian Gallery, best known for its "Nuremburg Files" section listing the names and other personal information of doctors and workers at abortion clinics with the special added feature of said names being crossed out when they die or are killed. Critics have called the Nuremburg Files tantamount to a hit list that incites violence.
Horsley also operates a site called AbortionCams.com, which attempts to show footage of people entering and leaving abortion clinics. While Horsley claims not to advocate violence, he has admitted that the pictures and videos on his site puts the security of those depicted in jeopardy. "Do you … insist that publishing the pictures of the 'mothers' who go to kill their children is wrong?" he asks on his Web site. "[I]f you do hold the present peace and security of the 'mothers' at higher value than the life of the child, if you hold such a confused and evil value system, make no mistake about it: to the people who created http://www.abortioncams.com you are the enemy ... "
Last fall, Horsley's site served as the conduit (unwillingly, he claims) for Clayton Waagner, a radical anti-abortionist who claimed responsibility for sending dozens of fake anthrax packages to abortion-related and family-planning facilities across the country shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the genuine anthrax scares that followed. Waagner used Horsley's site to issue death threats against 42 abortion-clinic workers.
Horsley's site also plays a role in a $119 million legal judgment against a group with links to Horsley that had distributed "Wanted" posters with the names of abortion doctors. The judgment had been overturned by an appeals court, but recently reinstated by a federal appeals court, which has prompted Horsley to at least temporarily remove the crossed-out names from his site.
But WorldNetDaily readers would have no inkling of Horsley's past because a June 24 story by Jon Dougherty doesn't mention any of this. As far as Dougherty is concerned, Horsley is just a guy who runs "a pair of popular pro-life websites" who's being discriminated against because of a few unpleasant pictures are causing Internet service providers to continally dump him.
That's just one of many things wrong with Dougherty's story. Here's another: He writes that Horsley's sites "first gained national prominence because they contained graphic depictions of abortions." No, it was because of Nuremburg Files list and the seeming swiftness at which abortion doctor Barnett Slepian's name was crossed out after his 1998 murder. The story doesn't even note the list until the 21st paragraph, and it's only in the form of a quote from a letter the National Abortion Federation allegedly sends to ISPs who host Horsley's sites. The $119 million legal judgment isn't mentioned at all.
For all Horsley's complaining about being "blacklisted from the Internet," Doughterty's story neglects to say anything about the status of Horsley's $250 million lawsuit against one ISP that dumped him -- which, ironically, WND has previously reported on. Dougherty also doesn't mention another Horsley lawsuit, filed against Geraldo Rivera for libel and slander for saying shortly after Slepian's death that the content of Horley's sites, "in my opinion, is aiding and abetting a homicide." The lawsuit was recently dismissed by an appeals court, which ruled Rivera's statements were constitutionally protected.
These are all legitimate issues that Dougherty fails to address in his story -- especially the ISP lawsuit, since the crux of his story is how ISPs are allegedly blacklisting him.
The main problem, though, is that it's a uncritical sympathy piece for Horsley. He complains that a recent article about him in the Wall Street Journal contributed to his getting fired as "a top Web developer" at a "Fortune 500 firm." (That ties into another minor quest by fellow WND staffer Paul Sperry: to prove that "liberal homosexuals for years have helped decide what goes on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.") He expresses surprise that "some people call me a terrorist." And he compares his alleged blacklisting "to what happened to blacks in the Antebellum South."
Dougherty, unfortunately, has a history of writing incomplete, slanted stories. In 2000, he wrote a story on the death of an Arkansas journalist named Tony Moser that implied the "Arkansas political machine" (read: the Clintons) had something to do with his death. The story omitted the crucial fact of Moser's history of alcohol abuse, which is believed to be the main contributing factor in his death. And a 2001 story with a Dougherty byline was little more than a reworked press release from a conservative group.
It's worth mentioning here that WorldNetDaily, like CNS before it, gave short shrift to Clayton Waagner's threats. The only mention of Waagner anywhere on WND is a Jan. 4 opinion piece by James Perloff complaining that violent "pro-life" tactics are being called terrorism by some. Like CNS, a Web site that merely hoped for the deaths of prominent people who have opposed homosexuality was deemed more important and worth a story (written by Dougherty), as opposed to Waagner's death threats against 42 people, which ocurred at about the same time.
Another thing you're unlikely to read about in a WorldNetDaily story on abortion: a lawsuit against people who post pictures of people who enter or leave abortion clinics. An anti-abortion group posted not only one woman's picture but her medical records as well, and the woman was able to obtain a temporary restraining order demanding the picture and information be removed. The reaction of a member of one anti-abortion group named in the restraining order: "The court documents probably aren't worth the paper they are printed on."
There's a wealth of information on Horsley and his tactics that WorldNetDaily readers would find relevant. Dougherty, however, chose to ignore most of it, writing instead a puff piece conforming to the WND script of little guy versus evil bureaucratic monoliths (and if a Clinton can be worked in somehow, all the better). Dougherty's refusal to examine the full extent of the content of Horsley's sites dishonestly skews the debate over why ISPs are averse to hosting him.
Hey, here's an idea: If WND really is so distressed about the alleged violation of Horsley's constitutional rights and so unbothered by his sites' content, why doesn't it host the Nuremburg Files and AbortionCams.com?