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Update: A Lesson Unlearned

WorldNetDaily's editor could stand to read an article by one of his columnists. Plus: NewsMax and WND cozy up to another convicted criminal, WND can't keep its facts straight within the same story, and more.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/25/2005

We've accused WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah in the past of getting his information only from his own web site. But sometimes, we wonder how closely he's actually reading it.

A May 18 BizNetDaily column by Steve Marr delivers "The Newsweek lesson for business" that Farah could benefit from as well, should he decide to read it. Describing Newsweek's retracted Quran-in-the-toilet report, Marr writes:

Why do they do it? Because of their world view -- how they see things, how they interpret things. It causes them to believe or disbelieve the data before them.

Newsweek, because of its Left Wing philosophy, jumped quickly to write a big story -- based on a single source -- because the story allowed the magazine to take a hard shot at the policies of President Bush.

The Left Wing philosophy drove them to believe what they wanted to believe.

Sounds not unlike the reasoning that can be attributed to WND over the false story it wrote about a TV movie on the Terri Schiavo case, not to mention reporting falsehoods and baseless rumors about John Kerry and his wife.

Why do Farah and WND do such things? As Marr wrote, because of their world view and how Farah and his staff see and interpret things. Because of its hardcore religious conservative philosophy and its longstanding biases against Kerry and Terri Schiavo's husband, WND jumped on stories based on a single source (or no idenitifiable source at all) because those stories allowed WND to take hard shots at Kerry and at Michael Schiavo (whom WND had insinuated sold the movie rights).

That conservative philosophy drove WND and Farah to believe what they wanted to believe.

As Marr concluded: "In business, we know that correct understanding must outweigh any desire to go with information that might possibly be incorrect." Has WND learned that lesson yet?

* * *

It will not surprise you to learn that the latest person NewsMax and WorldNetDaily dug up to cast aspersions on Hillary Clinton is yet another convicted criminal.

James Levin, who testified in the trial of former Clinton finance manager David Rosen, claims to be an "associate and friend of Bill Clinton," according to a May 17 WorldNetDaily article, and a "close personal friend of ex-President Clinton" in a two NewsMax articles on May 13.

The surprise here is, that unlike fellow convicted felons-slash-Clinton-bashers Peter Paul and Aaron Tonken, both WND and NewsMax actually make note of this pertinent fact. Granted, the references are vague and buried, but it's there. As WND put it, Levin "signed an agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors and plead guilty to bribery and fraud charges in an unrelated case in Chicago."

That, of course is not the whole story. Companies formerly controlled by Levin are accused of overbilling Chicago public schools by $200,000 for snowplowing services and that, along with four minority subcontractors, accepting money for work they did not perform. Levin faces five to 20 years in prison.

Another thing missing from the NewsMax and WND accounts: As Salon notes, Levin told the court that he thinks the charges against Rosen were part of a smear campaign. "I thought, and I still think, they were politically motivated," he said.

One more thing: Though each of the WND and NewsMax stories mentions Paul or Tonken, none of them notes that those two, like Levin, are convicted criminals.

And in no story by WND or NewsMax is it explained why anyone should believe this rogue's gallery of convicted felons should be believed, other than WND has a financial interest in Tonken's allegations -- and therefore, in printing stories about the Rosen trial -- by publishing his book through an imprint formerly co-owned by WND.

* * *

Speaking of not WND not providing full disclosure about its interests in the subjects it covers, a May 21 article on an "Iran Freedom Walk" fails yet again to disclose that 1) the latest book by the walk's leader, Jerome Corsi, was published by WND; and 2) WND editor Joseph Farah is on the board of the Iraq Freedom Foundation, the group sponsoring the walk.

* * *

Number of original ConWeb articles that reference Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd's statement comparing Republican tactics in the judicial filibuster fight to Adolf Hitler's use of power in Nazi Germany: 5 (two at NewsMax, three at WorldNetDaily)

Number of original ConWeb articles that reference Republican Sen. Rick Santorum's statement comparing Republican tactics in the judicial filibuster fight to Adolf Hitler's use of power in Nazi Germany: 0 (WorldNetDaily and used outside links, NewsMax ran an Associated Press article).

Number of references in NewsMax's two articles on Byrd to his 50-year-past connection to the Ku Klux Klan, despite its irrelevance to the issue: 9.

* * *

Yet another reason not to trust WorldNetDaily: it can't keep its facts straight even within the same story.

The headline and first paragraph of May 14 WND article falsely portrays the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by claiming that an agreement with the paper's new owner, Lee Enterprises, means that the paper as a whole will keep a "reliably liberal Democratic slant."

But it's not until the fifth paragraph that the truth is detailed: the agreement applies only to the slant of the paper's editorials, where it is perfectly allowable to have a slant.

WND also includes part of the Post-Dispatch's editorial platform statement, adopted in 1911. It declares that the paper, among other things, "will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption" "never be afraid to attack wrong," and "always be drastically independent."

Hmmm ... where have we heard that before? Oh, yeah -- it sounds a lot like WND's mission statement, which claims to be "a watchdog exposing government waste, fraud, corruption and abuse of power" and to be "fiercely independent."

Perhaps WND editor Joseph Farah would like to explain why, given that WND and the Post-Dispatch share many of the same ideals, the Post-Dispatch is smeared as "reliably liberal" and WND is, well, not.

* * *

NewsMax put a headline on an Associated Press article that manages not only be factually inaccurate bur reveals a little something about the current fight over judges.

The headline NewsMax put on the May 23 story reads: "Mass. Justice: Judicial Activism Should Be 'Cherished'." But that's not what Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall said. From the story:

"I worry when people of influence use vague, loaded terms like 'judicial activist' to skew public debate or to intimidate judges," Marshall said. "I worry when judicial independence is seen as a problem to be solved and not a value to be cherished."

Is NewsMax really equating "judicial independence" with "judicial activism"?

* * *

A May 16 NewsMax article reports results of a poll about the media, then immediately jumps to conclusions the poll doesn't support.

Actually, NewsMax jumps to conclusions even before giving any actual results by claiming in the lead paragraph that the conservative-hot-button stat in the University of Connecticut poll claiming that a heavy majority of journalists surveyed voted for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election "confirms what many conservatives have long believed: Members of the press have an overwhelming bias for the Democratic Party."

But NewsMax offers no evidence that the poll indicates any direct correlation between how a journalist votes in a presidential election and any "overwhelming bias" in his work.

NewsMax goes on to claim that other poll results show that "media professionals are often out of step with the rest of America." Among the examples given: "43 percent of the public say the press has too much freedom, but only 3 percent of journalists feel that way"; "Only 14 percent of the public can cite 'freedom of the press' as a guarantee in the First Amendment"; and "22 percent of the public say the government should be allowed to censor the press."

Wouldn't any self-respecting journalist be proud to be "out of step" with a public that is so ignorant of the Constitution?

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