WorldNetDaily creates its own media matrix through lies, distortions and unbalanced coverage.
By Terry Krepel
In the October issue of WorldNetDaily's Whistleblower magazine (that issue's subject, per WND's all-caps style: POISON PRESS), WND vice president and managing editor David Kupelian penned an article titled "The Media Matrix," reproduced Oct. 26 on the WND web site. In it, Kupelian claims that "the media -- both news and entertainment -- are literally the creators and sustainers of what most of us perceive as reality, very much like the malevolent computer program in 'The Matrix' film trilogy."
Kupelian goes on to liken this alleged media-induced "matrix" with "mass manipulation, mind control, brainwashing, suggestion, hypnosis and Pavlovian conditioning." He then cites certain "programs" in this media matrix, things people have been allegedly taught to perceive as reality: evolution, John Kerry "should be president," "Abortion is a basic human right."
What Kupelian fails to tell his readers is that he's playing a role in maintaining a matrix as well -- the WorldNetDaily distortion machine, which serves up its own "programs" in an attempt to manipulate readers.
It's interesting that Kupelian brings up Kerry, citing the media's alleged liberal bias as the reason that "somehow the truth about John Kerry never takes root in the public mind. And thus is the nation betrayed." In Kupelian's view, "John Kerry is a dangerous fraud, whose election as president would cause unfathomable human suffering and national harm."
Since, by implication, Kupelian offers up WND as the red pill to the blue pill of alleged conformity and fakery served up the other media, it's important to take a look at just how uniformly negative WND's blue pill-like coverage of Kerry was during the presidential campaign.
Between August and November, WND printed 72 stories referencing the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and its accusations. Not once in any of those 72 stories did WND subject the group's claims to any sort of fact-checking, but merely presented along the group's claims as uncontested truth despite the fact that many of the group's claims have been challenged (as ConWebWatch has detailed).
For instance, an Aug. 27 story uncritically advances a claim by retired Rear Adm. William Schachte disputing Kerry's contention that his first Purple Heart resulted from enemy fire, claiming that he was on Kerry's boat at the time of the incident.
Yet two other crewmen on the boat, Patrick Runyon and William Zaladonis, say they didn't know Schachte and that he wasn't on their boat. The WND story mentions that but immediately dismisses it, stating that Schachte told columnist Robert Novak, who promoted Schachte's allegations, that "I was absolutely in the skimmer." That is the only reference to a contradictory view in the article, which goes on to describe Schachte's version of events.
Yet a simple fact check -- which WND refused to do but Media Matters of America did -- showed that Schachte has altered his version of events and was a donor to George W. Bush's presidential campaign in both 2000 and 2004. Additionally, when Schachte's version of events diverged from the version that was on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth web site -- in fact, it backed up Kerry's version of events -- the web site was altered to fit Schachte's revised version.
Actions like that would normally raise a red flag in discerning readers' eyes about the credibility of Schachte and the Swift Boat Vets, but WND readers were never told about it. And so it went for WND's coverage of the Swift Boat Vets -- uncritical coverage, contradictory view swept aside when mentioned at all. In addition, WND offered deals to its readers in which it gave away copies of "Unfit for Command," the book from which many of the Swift Boat Vets' claims sprang, as a premium for subscribing to WND's Whistleblower magazine and sold it in its online store, giving WND a financial incentive to promote the group's accusations since it was also profiting from them.
That wasn't the only unbalanced, negative coverage WND gave Kerry.
In a May 8, 2003, column, WND editor Joseph Farah declared that he would be "ripping to shreds every single Democratic candidate for president." Why? Farah answers:
Because they are all evil. They are all rotten to the core. They are all miscreants not even deserving citizenship in our great country, let alone the privilege and honor of serving as president of the United States.
Farah fulfilled his promise, devoting a whopping 47 of his weekday columns in 2004 prior to the November election to attacking Kerry. Among the many epithets hurled at Kerry include "privileged rich boy," "traitorous," "rotten to the core," "ambitious political whore," "truly dangerous ... truly contemptuous ... truly egomaniacal ... truly without character ... truly transparent as a political huckster and charlatan," and, finally, insisting that "America's mistake was not locking this guy up in the stockades in 1971 and throwing away the key."
Farah's attitude turned into a mandate for WND's news operation, which pushed relentlessly negative coverage of Kerry while offering no similar criticism of Bush -- or any real criticism at all. (WND ran just one story focusing on Bush's National Guard service.)
WND cheerfully reprinted false accusations of a Kerry affair -- even violating its own credo against associating with publications that promote sex to do it. WND also held Kerry to a hyper-accruate standard not applied to Bush; one WND story was devoted to berating Kerry for getting a baseball statistic wrong, while at the same time ignoring the factual errors and distortions made by Sen. Zell Miller's Kerry-bashing speech at the Republican National Convention. It promoted allegations that Kerry re-enacted his war exploits on 8mm film with the purpose of promoting his future political career long after the accusation had been debunked by people who, unlike WND, actually saw that footage. It also commissioned the discredited David Bossie -- whom WND itself speculated "was either extremely incompetent or was intentionally trying to sabotage investigations" after he was caught doctoring tapes of prison phone conversations of former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell to delete exculpatory evidence -- to pen a partisan hit job on Kerry through its WND Books division.
In addition, Farah flatly lied to his readers about Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and her connections to a charitable organization, the Tides Foundation. Farah lied that Heinz Kerry's donations supported "radical, anti-American groups" while refusing to point out that her donations to the foundation were earmarked toward specific environmental projects in Pennsylvania that were neither radical nor un-American.
WND's truth-be-damned matrix had its effect -- Kerry lost.
WND matrix program: Christmas and Christianity are under attack
In his Dec. 24 annual Christmas column, Farah writes: "This year, it seems, there has been record antagonism against the holiday." The key word here is "seems"; WorldNetDaily has done its best to maintain that appearance.
As ConWebWatch has noted, WND has run several stories about alleged "attacks" on Christmas and Christianity. But the majority of those stories, covering a mere handful of isolated incidents, appear to be cribbed directly from conservative legal and advocacy organizations who have an agenda to promote by gaining publicity for their lawsuits.
In those press-release-generated stories, WND often refuses to note the other side of the story that would provide needed perspective on these so-called attacks. For instance, as ConWebWatch has documented, a November story on a California school that allegedly "banned" the Declaration of Independence because it mentions God was based entirely on a press release by the conservative legal group Alliance Defense Fund that filed a lawsuit against the school district; it fails to note that the teacher on whose behalf the conservative legal group is suing the school has a history of injecting religion into his teaching to the point that parents complained that his teaching crossed the line into evangelizing.
On Dec. 9, WND reported that a Washington school district canceled a performance of "A Christmas Carol" because it would prompt a discussion about public school and religion. The explanation from the school's principal that the performance was canceled because students would have been charged admission is buried under attacks on the principal's alleged anti-religious intent. The baseless accuation was repeated in WND columns by Jerry Falwell and KevinMcCullough. WND also never followed up when, the day after its article ran, the Seattle newspaper columnist who originally accused the school of canceling the performance over religious concerns -- which formed the basis of WND's article -- admitted he "went too far" by making that claim.
That WND has to work this hard to present a case of Christianity under attack, and that it refuses to update or correct the accusations it publicizes when the changes undermine its original thesis, shows the matrix-like nature of its coverage. Nothing can be allowed to disturb it, not even the truth.
These are just a couple of the matrix programs WND runs. Its attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton, the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Nations could fall under that category as well.
While Kupelian insists, "Life is real. It doesn't have to be lived in a deceitful matrix program" -- quoting the Bible verse "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" -- what he offers is simply a different matrix, a different deceit, one as indifferent to reality as the purported matrix he attacks. Kupelian is not interested in seeing truth prevail; how can he if his own news organization refuses to print all the relevant facts of a story and refuses to fact-check the claims it does print?
Willful ignorance of the truth is a strange position for a vice president and managing editor of a news organization to be in. But then, WorldNetDaily is a blue pill wholesaler.