Crossing the Border of Bias
WorldNetDaily demonstrates its anti-immigration slant by promoting the Minuteman project and congressman Tom Tancredo.
By Terry Krepel
When it wasn't cheerleading the cause of Terri Schiavo's parents over the past few weeks, WorldNetDaily was cheerleading another cause: the idea of anti-immigration Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo as a candidate for president.
It stated like a lot of things at WND do, with a March 20 story touting a meaningless online poll (and we all know WND's weakness for meaningless online polls) touting Tancredo as beating Rush Limbaugh in a March Madness-like online bracket of possible Republican presidential candidates. The poll, according to WND, was "organized by a St. Louis Republican survey company," and it wouldn't surprise anyone (except maybe WND) to know that Free Republic posters encouraged their brethren to participate. That was followed a couple days later by Tancredo's victory over John McCain.
This set WND's promotion-of-pet-causes-thinly-disguised-as-news machine in motion: Tancredo appeared on WND editor Joseph Farah's radio show, followed by a story on said appearance in which Tancredo declared that "he would run for president in 2008 if no other Republican candidate takes the border issue seriously."
Then, in his return to the White House press corps after missing out on the whole Jeff Gannon controversy while recovering from a heart attack, Les Kinsolving -- the conservative White House press corps tool who isn't Jeff Gannon -- did his part on March 31 by asking White House press secretary Scott McClellan if President Bush would lend any support to Tancredo's efforts to paint the right-wing self-described Minuteman group patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border as "a neighborhood watch" instead of the "vigilantes" that Bush previously declared them to be.
But there's one story missing here. Sometime after the first two stories about Tancredo's progress in the online poll, WND posted a story slugged "Foreigners upset Tancredo vote," which claimed that "Thousands of Canadians, Mexicans support opponent in online poll." For reasons it has not publicly disclosed, WND has deleted the story. But the good Freepers posted the first few paragraphs for posterity:
It's only an online poll. But opponents of Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., are taking it very seriously voting by the thousands in a U.S. presidential preference survey in which the congressional leader against illegal immigration has surprised some big-name political figures.
Was WND implying that "foreigners" were voting for Barbour? Still, you have to love WND's claim that "it's only an online poll" and accusing those "opponents" voting against Tancredo of "taking it very seriously," as if WND wasn't as well -- otherwise, why pay attention to it in the first place?
The Minuteman story, unsurprisingly, is one on which WorldNetDaily has also lavished attention while whitewashing its more unsavory aspects.
It has promoted the views of one leader of the project, Chris Simcox, without noting his previous arrest for carrying a loaded weapon on national park land (as ConWebWatch has noted). It has also downplayed the interest of militia extremists and white supremacists in the project, as blogger David Neiwert has detailed.
WND has also declined to offer original coverage of an incident in which a Minutemen volunteer named Bryan Barton posed for a photo with an alleged illegal border crosser holding a T-shirt saying, "Bryan Barton caught me crossing the border and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." Bryan was dismissed from the Minutemen, not because of the photo but for giving the border crosser food, water and a $20 bill.
Instead, WND has promoted claims such as found in an April 6 story that "the group is getting more favorable attention from some media outlets and radio talk-show hosts impressed with their composure, discipline and orderliness." That would include WND editor Joseph Farah, who will have a Minuteman representative on his radio show on April 11.
Farah gushed about the Minutemen, who he called "my heroes," in an April 8 column: "I hope the Minuteman Project spreads like wildfire from state to state so we can shut down the entire Mexican border with volunteers. ... This was exactly the kind of citizen action I envisioned when I wrote 'Taking America Back' two years ago. ... I wish I could be there with them."
WND also ran an April 6 commentary by Minutemen participant Tod Phillips, described in a tagline at the end as "formerly, and always, Sgt. Phillips, 1st Bn., 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force Pacific," praising the project and blaming the situation on, you guessed it, the Clintons:
Remember, this all started on Bill Clinton's watch. So don't give me the old "anti-neocon" anti-Bush, Republican vs. Democrat point of view.
Those are sentiments that Farah has sympathized with in the past. In 1997, Farah claimed that Reno "sent those tanks and SWAT teams to Waco, Texas, and incinerated innocent men, women and children who were no threat to anyone." And in 1999, he called a report on the threat of right-wing domestic terrorism "slanderous, bigoted and inciteful," claiming that right-wingers were "enticed into committing illegal acts" by undercover federal agents.
No wonder WND is treating the Minutemen and Tancredo with kid gloves.