Update: The Lamest Story Ever
WorldNetDaily becomes an uncompromising disseminator of hackery. Plus: More WND one-sidedness, CNSNews.com shows its bias over voting rights for convicted felons, NewsMax still can't tell the truth about a convicted felon-slash-Clinton accuser, Terri Schiavo the prisoner of war, and more.
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily has run a lot of lame stories in its time, but WND lameness has hit a new nadir.
"'American Prophecies' surpasses 'DaVinci Code'" reads the headline of a March 16 WND story. "The American Prophecies" by Michael D. Evans -- as the title indicates, it purports to explore "America's place in biblical prophecy" -- is a book that WND has shamelessly plugged in a previous fit of lameness, claiming that it (ever so briefly) topped Bill Clinton's "My Life" in Amazon.com's sales chart (which we know is pretty easy to game).
So, how did "The American Prophecies" surpass "The DaVinci Code" in such a manner that it warranted such breathtaking coverage from WND? Did it suddenly sell 18 million copies? Highly unlikely, since "The DaVinci Code is currently ranked No. 5 at Amazon while "The American Prophecies" is ranked No. 10,297.
Here's WND's news peg: "The American Prophecies" has set "another record this week -- by beating out 'The DaVinci Code' in total five-star reviews" on Amazon.com. The rest of the article is mostly recycled puffery with a little gratuitous editorial comment about the "competition": "'The DaVinci Code' is a fiction book that attacks Christianity."
Given such a laughably low threshold of what constitutes "news," can we now all agree that WorldNetDaily has irrevocably forfeited any claim to be "an exponent of truth and justice" and "an uncompromising disseminator of news"?
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Another reason why WND is a failure as a journalistic enterprise: it has a bad habit of ignoring the fundamental doctrine of fairness, of telling both sides of a story.
This occurs in a March 17 story on anti-gay activist Michael Marcavage. Actually, it's more accurate to say that it occurs again. Like previous WND stories on Marcavage, such as when he was arrested for protesting a gay festival in Philadelphia and got WND the refer to him and his fellow defendant as "The Philadelphia 5," it tells only Marcavage's side of the story.
The March 17 story details Marcavage's lawsuit against the college he attended for allegedly "trying to commit him to a mental hospital over his objections to a play depicting Jesus Christ as a homosexual." Like WND's "Philadelphia 5" stories, it tells only Marcavage's version of events and quotes only Marcavage and two of his lawyers.
As ConWebWatch has previously noted, WND has refused to tell the full story of Marcavage's history of extremist activism, including how "it's the government's job to enforce God's law and to uphold his law," and that it should therefore enforce what he sees as the biblical demand regarding "how [homosexuals] are to be put to death."
But as we've noted before, killing off alleged sinners isn't exactly a foreign concept to WND editor Joseph Farah.
(Update: S.Z. at The American Street has even more about Marcavage that WND won't tell you about.)
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CNSNews.com lets its bias show again in a March 11 article on the Nebraska legislature approving a bill, over the governor's veto, to automatically restore the voting rights of convicted felons two years after they have completed their sentences or met the terms of their probation. The article, by morning editor Susan Jones, cast aspersions on supporters of the bill but not its opponents.
Describing the alleged motivation of the "coalition of liberal groups" that supports changing state laws to permit convicted felons to vote most permit it in one form or another, but five states currently bar all convicted felons from voting Jones writes: "The underlying assumption seems to be that felons, if they vote at all, would be more likely than other segments of the population to vote for Democrats."
Does that mean that we can assume that anyone who opposes permitting convicted felons to vote -- like, say, Nebraska's Republican governor, whom Jones quotes as opposing the bill because restoration of voting rights "should be considered thoughtfully, on a case-by-case basis" -- is really operating on the "underlying assumption" that convicted felons shouldn't be voting at all because would be "less likely" to vote Republican?
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In trying to promote the case of David Rosen, former finance director for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, NewsMax refuses to let certain inconvenient facts get in the way -- like the criminal records of Rosen's two main accusers, Peter Paul and Aaron Tonken.
NewsMax pulls the stunt again, deflecting Paul's guilty plea in a $25 million stock fraud case to once again spin the allegations against Rosen. Here's how the lead of a March 9 NewsMax story read:Clinton accuser Peter Paul will be allowed to testify against the finance chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign after pleading guilty in an unrelated stock fraud case in a Long Island courtroom yesterday.
The story mentions the "stock fraud case" once more in the second paragraph, but doesn't go into details and never mentions it again; the rest of the article is devoted to rehashing once more the allegations against Rosen and Clinton.
So, what is mysterious "stock fraud case" NewsMax won't tell its readers about? As ConWebWatch has detailed, Paul was charged in a $25 million stock manipulation case involving a company fronted by legendary comic-book creator Stan Lee, moving money around to artificially inflate the comapny's stock price. The U.S. government spent two years extraditing Paul from Brazil, where he had fled in 2001 to try and escape the charges. In addition, Paul served three years in prison in the 1980s after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. Despite Paul's previous claims that he is innocent the current charges and that he is the victim of a government plot to silence him because of his work with covert government operatives, Paul pleaded guilty March 8 in New York federal court to one count of securities fraud. Paul faces up to 10 years' imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5 million.
NewsMax also gets a detail of the case wrong, claiming that "[t]he government required that Mr. Paul plead guilty in the stock fraud case before it would consider using him as a witness against" Rosen. But according to Reuters, "Paul said the plea was not part of an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors probing alleged campaign finance violations by Sen. Hillary Clinton's staff."
The NewsMax article also mentions Tonken as another witness against Rosen, but as with Paul, NewsMax fails to note that Tonken is currently in prison for swindling celebrities and other out of millions of dollars, as ConWebWatch has also documented.
NewsMax has come up with the most bizarre and irrelevant spin on the Terri Schiavo case -- she's being tortured and therefore deserves protection under the Geneva Convention.
A March 12 article claims that the case of the severely brain-damaged woman has "prompted no outrage from human rights groups - even though, under international law, forced starvation is considered a form of torture." It goes on to call what Schiavo faces if a decision to unhook her feeding tube later this month a "starvation-execution" and describes in detail what happens to a starving person.
Nowhere in the article, though, does it note that unlike the terrorist suspects cited in various torture scandals, Schiavo is not a prisoner of war or even a civilian involved in warfare. It doesn't even point out that Schiavo is severely brain-damaged and in a persistent vegetative state.
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The Media Research Center tries to once again put one over on its readers by making a big deal out of claiming that oil and gasoline prices really aren't at a "record high," as it claims in a March 17 CyberAlert. As Brent Baker writes: "In fact, adjusted for inflation, oil will have to hit $90 a barrel to set a record high and gasoline would reach a record not at $2.07 per gallon but at a $2.97." (Update: It's repeated in a March 18 CyberAlert.)
As ConWebWatch noted the last time this happened, the MRC has yet to tell its readers that, even as it and its CNSNews.com division have repeated the claim, the 1993 tax increase under President Clinton was not the biggest in history -- adjusted for inflation, of course. That honor goes to a 1982 tax hike approved by a Republican House and signed by President Reagan.
In fact, CNSNews.com repeated the false claim once more since we last visited this issue, in an Oct. 19, 2004, John Kerry-bashing commentary by Paul Weyrich, who referenced "Bill Clinton's largest tax increase in history." Weyrich got a lot wrong in that article, actually, such as claiming that the Winter Soldier testimony referenced by Kerry in his 1971 Senate testimony was "totally false" (as ConWebWatch has also previously noted).
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A March 15 NewsMax article complains that the Washington Post hasn't adequately apologized to disgraced, payola-accepting columnist Armstrong Williams.
Not for anything related to the government-payola scandal, though; a Post story claimed that Williams was the target of a satire at Washington's annual Gridiron dinner. Problem is that the story was written before the event, and the satire -- which set Williams' woes to the tune of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" -- was dropped at the last minute and never performed.
The Post did issue a correction, but that wasn't enough for NewsMax: "Could the paper have bothered to note in the retraction that its item was on 'Armstrong Williams' and was, in fact, dead wrong?"
We'd be much more bothered by this if NewsMax had retracted its dead-wrong story claiming that nosy neighbors were forcing the Clintons to sell their house in Chappaqua, N.Y.
But it hasn't, more than four years later. If NewsMax can't correct its own stories, what right does it have to tell others how to correct theirs?
Update: WorldNetDaily served up a glorious bit of insensitivity on March 19.
The book, sold at the WorldNetDaily store, rails against "the 'child-run' home, where decisions are made or influenced by the children" and lists as the first objective a parent should follow: "Keep your objective in mind -- subjection of their will."
Children whose wills are "subjected" and have had their "sassiness" beaten out of them don't turn out to be child prodigies, do they? And how offensive is it to suggest that this book would have kept this child from committing suicide, especially considering that he was homeschooled, just like WND editor Joseph Farah and his staff thinks all kids should be?