A Good Story vs. the Truth
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah lays out his plan of lies and deception in attacking some Democratic members of Congress.
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah never looks more biased than when he tries to act like he's not. Take this opening to his March 18 column:
"When former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., rendered himself ineffectual with warm comments about Sen. Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign, some of us were quick to call for him to step down." (Farah makes a misstatement of fact here; Lott was actually minority leader at the time of his remark, though would have been majority leader had he not resigned before the new Congress convened in January.)
You already know what he does next: complain that "stupid, deeply offensive and anti-American" comments by Democratic congressmen Patty Murray, Marcy Kaptur and James Moran didn't get the media attention that Lott's comments did. And he does more than that: he tells us he's planning revenge.
"I, for one, am not going to let these miscreants off the hook. I'm going to do everything in my power to keep this issue before the public. Why? Because it's a disgrace that men and women like this should be permitted to serve in the Congress of the United States," he writes.
One way Farah intends to do this is by continuing WorldNetDaily's policy of misrepresenting Murray's remarks, which he describes as offering "what sounded to many of us like praise of Osama bin Laden. She rationalized his attacks on America and excused those who support him throughout the world."
Murray, of course, did no such thing. She merely pointed out (somewhat erroneously) that bin Laden had made an effort to build grassroots good will in the Arab world and wondered why the U.S. hasn't done the same thing. But Farah and WND clearly have no intention of letting the facts get in the way of a good spin.
Look at how WND covered the Lott and Murray controversies. Twelve days after Lott made his remark that "we wouldn't have had all these problems over these years" if Strom Thurmond had been elected president on the segregationist ticket in 1948, WND had run only one original news story on the matter -- and that was Les Kinsolving at a White House press briefing trying to bait Ari Fleischer into bashing Bill Clinton to deflect attention away from it. The next mention on WND after that was Farah himself trying to defuse the growing controversy, though he devotes more space lamenting that the idea of "states' rights" has been unfairly linked to segregation than he does to criticizing Lott.
WND's treatment of Murray, however, was much different. Within 10 days of Murray's remark, WND had devoted seven news stories to it, all of them erroneously insisting that Murray had "praised" bin Laden.
Again, note Farah's statement that Murray said "what sounded to many of us like praise." In other words, Farah knows she didn't do what he's accusing her of. But because it "sounded" like she did, he plans to say so and beat her over the head with it anyway.
And Farah gets his facts wrong again in saying that those who allegedly offended him have been "let off the hook." Even the decidedly liberal Media Whores Online called for Moran's resignation (although it had other grievances against him) -- and Moran did indeed resign his House leadership post as a result of his words (which were that the U.S. would not be going to war with Iraq "if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community"). Sounds a lot like to what happened to Lott, except that NewsMax, as conservative as MWO is liberal, pointedly refused to call for Lott's resignation.
But what does the truth matter? Farah clearly plans to use WND to spin things to fit his own political agenda, facts be damned, so it's hard for its coverage of Murray, et al, to be viewed as anything other than revenge for what happened to Lott.
Which further erodes WND's "fiercely independent" facade and raises questions about the trustworthiness of anything else that appears there. But hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good slogan, right?
WorldNetDaily, normally a self-promotion machine, was relatively quiet following Farah's March 12 online chat at WashingtonPost.com. Sure, WND ran the usual PR-disguised-as-news promotions beforehand, but it was promoted afterwards like, say, the gushing story on Farah at Moonie-owned Insight magazine, which warranted a special e-mail to WND readers to let them know about it. A link to the Post chat was lumped (with another link to the Insight story) in an edition of WND's weekly "Backroom" e-mail newsletter.
The problem may be that the chat was not as sycophantic as Farah would have liked (or, given that he doesn't venture often into interview spaces where he gets queries that aren't of the softball variety, is used to). There were the usual blind-praise comments, but also one critical question:
"In your book, you call on Americans to embrace God and biblical morality. How can you do this when you also have borne false witness against President Clinton with absurd charges of murdering dozens of people?"
To which Farah responded with another question: "Can you cite one place where I have ever accused President Clinton of murdering anyone?"
The questioner was blogger Scoobie Davis, a Farah critic. Davis provided a link, reproduced on the Post chat transcript, that answers Farah's question: a Sept. 24, 1998, Farah column in which he asks, "Is it time to add one more name to the growing and staggering Clinton body count?" and tries to make the case for adding one Eric L. Henderson to the list. Farah doesn't say the exact words, he doesn't have to because the impression he leaves is clear: Clinton was somehow involved in the man's death. As Farah put it: "Perhaps Henderson was killed in a random drug deal on the seedy streets of Washington. Perhaps he was leading a double life, as police investigators suggest. Or maybe, just maybe, he knew too much."
WorldNetDaily also ran stories that implied Clinton had a hand in the 2000 death of an Arkansas journalist named Tony Moser. WND never told the entire, non-conspiratorial story (reported first by ConWebWatch) that Moser was a longtime alcoholic who was apparently intoxicated and walking down the middle of a dimly lit street when he was hit by a car and killed.
So, Farah is exposed as a liar again. Shouldn't someone who calls himself a journalist be at least a little concerned about that?