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Soft-Hitting Journalism

Why doesn't WorldNetDaily want to tell the full story of the lead protester in the "Philly 5" case? Plus: Joseph Farah flip-flops on what should happen to people who blame America for 9/11, and what to expect from WorldNetDaily's new Jerusalem bureau.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/7/2005

For a news organization that calls itself an "uncompromising disseminator of news" committed to "hard-hitting investigative reporting," WorldNetDaily is pulling a lot of punches and making a lot of compromises in its coverage of those arrested Philadelphia protesters.

Related article on ConWebWatch:

Free the Philadelphia Facts

As ConWebWatch has noted, WND has stuck to the conservative script, offering its readers a one-sided view of protesters facing charges for disrupting a gay event in Philadelphia last October, whom WND has taken to calling the "Philadelphia 5." WND has promoted the accusations of lead protester Michael Marcavage and his attorney and has never told its readers what prosecutors have to say. This tradition continues in a Feb. 4 story about a federal judge who "has refused a request to stop the local prosecution of the group"; the story recounts all the reasons why Marcavage and his attorney want the charges dropped, but doesn't quote any judge or prosecutor on why the judge turned down the request. It does quote one of Marcavage's attorneys offering a reason why, but the fact that WND will communicate only with the defendants and take their word over the prosecution demonstrates once again its bias on this story.

It's not that WND doesn't know how to dig into a story when it suits its purposes -- witness its dutiful reporting of every inflammatory thing that controversial professor Ward Churchill has ever said. But it has shown a distinct lack of enthusiasm for delving into Marcavage's history.

Why? Perhaps because the full truth would disturb the persecuted-Christian narrative WND is trying to promote.

As an article in the Philadelphia City Paper details, Marcavage has a history of extremist activism. One person says Marcavage "has picketed and bull-horned a children's Arbor Day event … [and] the opening of a retirement housing facility. ... He has also picketed a private residence that had been visited by Sen. John Kerry and asked the children that lived there how many abortions they've had." During the inaugural parade in Washington, the article states, Marcavage carried a poster depicting aborted fetuses, which got him into a shouting match with nine teenage girls. "I have a question for you," said one. "Are you a 14-year-old girl who's been raped by her father?"

Marcavage's harshest words, though, are reserved for homosexuals. As the article quotes him:

"According to the Scriptures, it's the government's job to enforce God's law and to uphold his law, and the Bible talks about how, I don't want to really get into this -- it'll make me sound like I'm crazy -- but it does talk about how [homosexuals] are to be put to death. The wages of sin is death. But I want to make [it] clear that I'm not advocating the [independent] killing of homosexuals. … I'm saying that the government's duty is to uphold God's law. … I know that's harsh, but we have all broken the law, God's law, and we need to be held accountable."

Blogger David Neiwert calls this statement a tacit endorsement of "creating a system under which homosexuals can be put to death by the government simply for being homosexual." It's a position not all that far removed from WND editor Joseph Farah's condoning of the killing of adulterers.

The publicity WND has given to Marcavage is evidence that it is sympathetic to many of his views. Why won't WND share those views in detail with its readers?

* * *

Speaking of that college professor about whom WorldNetDaily has dedicated much press and outrage: WND's Joseph Farah used a Feb. 3 column to attack Ward Churchill's statements, which he described as "essentially blaming America and Americans for the attack." Farah called Churchill's statements "outrageous, seditious, contemptuous, evil blood libels against America," adding: "Yes, Churchill should be fired. Freedom of speech does not guarantee anyone a tenured, lifetime position at a taxpayer-supported university. And, equally so, Churchill should be thoroughly investigated for aiding and abetting the enemy in wartime -- a capital offense."

Farah has apparently forgotten that not only did WorldNetDaily run a post-9/11 column that also blamed America for the attacks -- Anthony LoBaido's Sept. 13, 2001, article (the inspiration for ConWebWatch to name its Slantie Award for most outrageous statement by a conservative writer the LoBaido Award) in which he declared that "America has killed over 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 years old with our anti-Saddam sanctions," and "[a]ll that is evil in the world can be found in New York," and criticized "the openly Marxist, treasonous and abortion-mongering, occultic Hillary" -- he defended the author for writing it.

In a Sept. 26, 2001 column, the worst Farah could say about LoBaido's column was that it was "tasteless and ill-advised," going on to call LoBaido "one of the most patriotic young men in America." Responding to criticism from James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal for running the piece in the first place, he stated: "I think this episode points out that, following the terrorist strikes on the U.S., reactionary forces within our country are ready to create a whole new wave of guilt-by-association blacklisting, whipping up hysteria and paranoia and witch-hunting."

On the other hand, Farah apparently got over his distaste for "hysteria and paranoia and witch-hunting," because LoBaido's column was later deleted from the WND archives. He also learned to like "guilt-by-association blacklisting," since that's what he's advocating for Churchill.

* * *

Noteworthy: During his defense of LoBaido, Farah also declared: "I don't resort to calling people names." John Kerry and his wife, among others, would beg to differ.

* * *

WorldNetDaily is creating a news bureau in Jerusalem around Aaron Klein, who has written articles for WND for the past several months.

"The bureau, scheduled to open Feb. 15, will report from the field exclusive articles concerning the 'Israeli-Palestinian conflict' and events in surrounding countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iran," according to a Jan. 25 article. The article quotes Klein as saying: "I feel very privileged to be a part of this important project. Few media outlets report truthfully about the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and as a result many news consumers have distorted views of these areas. A WorldNetDaily Jerusalem bureau is desperately needed now to get in there and report in an unbiased manner. I have every confidence that this is going to be an enormous success."

The article cites several of Klein's previous WND pieces. Among them:

Notice a common thread? The stories are all either pro-Israeli, anti-Palestinian, support a U.S. invasion of Iran that discredited bigot and WND columnist Jerome Corsi will be agitating for in his new WND-published book, or make an attempt to respond to criticism of the U.S. war in Iraq.

ConWebWatch has previously noted that Klein couldn't decide if Arafat was faking his final illness or dying or AIDS, then criticized the obituary of Arafat run in the New York Times in a commentary that ran on WND as a "news" story. And regarding Klein's story listed about the alleged effort by Saddam's troops to remove weapons from depots before the U.S. invasion, ConWebWatch has also noted that the story came on the heels of the revelations of ammunition depots left unprotected by U.S. troops after the invasion and was an apparent attempt to obfuscate those allegations.

Not exactly the "unbiased" journalist he claims to want to be. But exactly the kind of biased journalist WorldNetDaily wants him to be.

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