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Liars and Felons Write Books, Oh My!

WorldNetDaily publishes and promotes tomes by authors with dubious backgrounds who make dubious statements.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/2/2004
Updated 12/3/2004

There have been some changes at WorldNetDaily's book division.

An October press release from Thomas Nelson, the Christian-oriented publisher with whom WND co-published its books, announced a new imprint called Nelson Current, which replaces the WND Books imprint at Thomas Nelson. The press release notes that it decided to discontinue its co-publishing agreement with WND despite "commercial success" with it. This was followed quickly by an announcement by WND that it had joined with a publisher called Cumberland House to issue the WND Books imprint.

An Oct. 19 story in the Nashville Tennessean newspaper quoted David Dunham, a senior vice president and publisher with Thomas Nelson, as saying of its deal with WND: "For what we were having to pay, we didn't feel like we were getting the kind of value to justify it." The story also notes that Nelson retains publishing rights to titles published under the former partnership and will eventually put all WND Books titles up to now under the Nelson Current imprint. Indeed, the Nelson Current web page and authors page lists books and authors previously promoted under WND Books, like Joseph Farah and teen columnist Kyle Williams.

The domain, which last pointed to a section on the Thomas Nelson web site now occupied by Nelson Current, currently points to a page at the WND online store.

Essentially, Nelson Current is WND Books under a different name. But while the name has changed, other things haven't. The first two books issued under the new Nelson Current imprint -- book deals signed under the aegis of WND Books -- are written by an incarcerated federal criminal and a documented liar, respectively.

Aaron Tonken's book, as promoted by WorldNetDaily.

The felon is Aaron Tonken, author of "King of Cons: Exposing the Dirty, Rotten Secrets of the Washington Elite and Hollywood Celebrities," who was sentenced in August to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay $3.8 million in restitution on one count each of mail fraud and wire fraud. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "Tonken falsely represented to donors and underwriters that their contributions would pay event expenses or would benefit charities. In fact, Tonken used the contributions for his personal benefit, including payment of personal loans and the purchase of luxury items. In a scheme reminiscent of the 'Producers,' he routinely promised more than 100% of the net proceeds from the events to multiple charities. He also falsely solicited contributions for events he never produced, such as 'Celebrating Diana,' a supposed tribute to Diana Ross." Even conservative columnist Michelle Malkin calls Tonken "a former street bum with a creepy lifelong attraction to Hollywood stars and powerbrokers."

So why are WorldNetDaily and Thomas Nelson sullying their reputations by printing the memoirs of a convicted, incarcerated federal criminal? Why else -- there are Clintons involved.

Tonken ran a fund-raiser in 2000 for Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign, and her chief fund-raiser, David Rosen, associated with Tonken and is under investigation as well, according to WND. (Clinton attorney David Kendall, whose name WND misspelled, denied any wrongdoing by Clinton or Rosen.)

Despite his prison sentence, Tonken doesn't sound terribly remorseful, which is usually the point of such books sold by conservative publishing houses like Thomas Nelson. A Nov. 19 WND article promoting the book -- proudly noting that Tonken "penned the last portion of his tell-all book ... from behind bars" -- complains that he was hoping for a lighter sentence after allegedly cooperating with FBI agents.

But when you bilk people out of $3.8 million, people tend not to be terribly forgiving. Which begs the question: Why should we believe anything this unremorseful con man has to say? And why does WorldNetDaily and Thomas Nelson believe a guy who finished writing his book in prison?

But then, a surprising number of WND Books/Nelson Current writers appear to have a problem with the truth. Which brings us to the other debut Nelson Current writer, Andrew Napolitano, author of "Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws." A Nov. 22 WND article promotes it as "a blockbuster book on the misuse and abuse of power in the U.S. criminal justice system." Napolitano, a former Superior Court judge in New Jersey, is all over Fox News Channel, where he currently serves as a senior judicial analyst. He appears daily on "The Big Story with John Gibson," co-hosts "FOX and Friends" once a week and is a regular on "The O’Reilly Factor."

We haven't read the book, but Napolitano has his problems with the truth, too. As Media Matters for America has documented. On Nov. 18, he claimed that former President Bill Clinton "committed a federal felony by lying under oath." Napolitano knows better than that, or should. Clinton was never charged with any felony, was acquitted of the perjury charge in his impeachment trial, and the lying under oath of which Clinton was accused was ruled by a federal judge to be immaterial to the underlying case -- a prerequisite for a perjury conviction. A former judge really ought to have a better grasp of legal issues than Napolitano apparently does.

Additionally, as Media Matters has documented, Napolitano, has also:

  • Smeared the district attorney investigating House Majority Leader Tom DeLay as a "renegade prosecutor" with DeLay "in his crosshairs." As ConWebWatch has previously noted, the district attorney, Ronnie Earle, has prosecuted Democratic politicians as well as Republicans.
  • Asked in August whether John Kerry's presidential campaign would disavow statements made by former presidential candidate Howard Dean about the possible political motivation behind a increase in the terrorism advisory level and asserting without evidence that the Kerry campaign was behind Dean's remarks, when the Kerry campaign had already disavowed the remarks.

That's your basic profile of a WND/Nelson Current author -- prone to making wild accusations without evidence, which makes one wonder about the veracity of what's contained in their books. Bob Kohn, author of the WND-published New York Times-bashing title "Journalistic Fraud," did just that in a May WND column when he asserted that "Evidence suggests that a New York Times reporter covering the Kerry campaign may be sleeping with the presumptive nominee of the Democrat Party." That would be John Kerry, already the victim of a previous WND affair smear. After Media Matters wrote about it, Kohn's column disappeared from the WND site. (It used to be here but is now in the same 404 neverland as Anthony LoBaido's whacked-out post-9/11 column.)

And, as ConWebWatch has previously noted, Kohn copied from the Media Research Center a bogus quote attributed to former Times editor Howell Raines into his book. As far as we know, Kohn has never apologized for that.

John McCaslin, the Washington Times columnist who wrote "Inside the Beltway" for WND Books, had a similar problem. In a September Washington Times column, McCaslin claimed that John Kerry made a case for unilateral action in Iraq in a 1997 appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," adding that "no 'Crossfire' transcripts from 1997 are available." As Media Matters pointed out, not only is the transcript of that episode of "Crossfire" available (Nexis has "Crossfire" transcripts dating back to 1990), Kerry didn't say that at all. McCaslin was forced to print a retraction, though that didn't stop other conservatives from spreading the Kerry misquote.

Even the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson -- author of "Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America" and beneficiary of much uncritical, disclosure-free WND press -- is not immune to spreading falsehoods. Media Matters recently caught Peterson falsely claiming on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" (Sean Hannity is on the advisory board of the organization that Peterson operates) that no blacks were disenfranchised in the 2000 presidential election (there's an entire report about it) and erroneously suggesting that Senator John Kerry supported reparations for slavery during his 2004 presidential campaign (he didn't).

Then, of course, there's David Bossie. WND Books has published two volumes by him in 2004 -- the hit job "The Many Faces of John Kerry" and the Clinton-bashing "Intelligence Failure." Bossie -- whom "The Hunting of the President" co-author Gene Lyons describes as "a modern-day Donald Segretti," after the notorious Nixon dirty-trickster -- is best known for doctoring tapes of former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell's prison conversations to delete exculpatory evidence favorable to Hubbell and the Clintons while serving as chief investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight as run by rabid Clinton-hater Rep. Dan Burton.

As ConWebWatch has noted previously, WND itself has speculated whether Bossie "was either extremely incompetent or was intentionally trying to sabotage investigations" in the face of this and other anti-Clinton shenanigans in the 1990s -- including allegations of stalking a Whitewater witness and attempts to steal documents related to various Clinton scandals. Yet a mere few years later, WND considers Bossie a fine fellow whose research can be trusted. But hey, WND feels the same way about Aaron Tonken.

Bossie also tried to play censor by attempting to stop advertising for Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" by claiming the ads violated campaign finance laws. Bossie and the group he heads, Citizens United, also produced a film, "Celsius 41.11," that attacks Moore's documentary.

(Update: And how could we forget Jerome Corsi, whose new book will kick off the Cumberland House version of WND Books? Not only is he an apparent bigot, he smeared John Kerry and his Vietnam War record in his book "Unfit for Command" and outright lied about Kerry in a WND column. All in all, the perfect person to relaunch WND Books with.)

Again we ask: What is it about liars and felons that appeals so much to WorldNetDaily -- whose CEO, Joseph Farah, claims that his book division is "about the search for truth" -- and Thomas Nelson? Has a lust for money overtaken a quest for truth by these organizations that profess to be all about Christianity and moral values?

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