The Evil of Marketing
WorldNetDaily's David Kupelian engages in some less-than-honest methods to promote his book "The Marketing of Evil."
By Terry Krepel
Is David Kupelian really an avatar of morality?
The WorldNetDaily vice president and managing editor has set himself up as something of one with his book "The Marketing of Evil," promoted as describing how things from "easy divorce and unrestricted abortion-on-demand to extreme body piercing and teaching homosexuality to grade-schoolers," things that "all previous generations since America’s founding regarded as grossly self-destructive -- in a word, evil," were made acceptable by "some of the most stunningly brilliant and compelling marketing campaigns in modern history."
On subjects from divorce to abortion to multiculturalism to the separation of church and state to "insane" youth culture, Kupelian declares the cause -- those damn 1960s hippies -- and the cure -- huge doses of Christianity, preferably the conservative, evangelical kind -- to be the same. Indeed, Kupelian wrote in his anti-multiculturalism piece, "The radicals of the '60s -- including, by the way, Bill and Hillary Clinton -- have today either taken over or profoundly altered the key institutions they originally wanted to destroy, from government to the news media, from education to religion"; he further described "the magnificent Judeo-Christian culture of my youth which represented the hope of liberty for the world's oppressed" as his vision of the "real America."
Surely such a God-fearing, hippie-loathing guy wouldn't stoop to any dishonest techniques to promote his book, would he?
Actually, yes. Kupelian and WND have promoted this book by using some less-than-honest techniques.
A September 2005 WorldNetDaily article pimping the book claimed on the front-page link blurb that the book has received "widely hailed as the 'must-read' book of the year." Hailed, sure. Widely? Not so much.
Of the 14 people in the article quoted as praising the book, five -- Michelle Malkin, Hal Lindsey, David Limbaugh, Laura Schlessinger and Rebecca Hagelin -- are current WND columnists, six others -- Judith Reisman, Ted Baehr, Robert Knight, Don Wildmon, D. James Kennedy and Daniel Lapin -- have had articles published by WND on a regular basis and/or are regularly quoted in WND articles; one -- Gary DeMar -- has written a book that WND sells, one -- Michael Farris -- spoke at a conference that also featured WND editor Joseph Farah as a speaker; and one -- Joseph Farah -- runs the company that published Kupelian's book.
A Nov. 4, 2005, WorldNetDaily "news" article -- in reality, another promo for the book -- singles out negative reviews of the book on Amazon.com, inferring that the critics are only interested in lowering the book's Amazon rating, sarcastically dismissing such criticism as "brilliant literary critiques." Amazon reviewers who wax rhapsodic over the book, meanwhile, "sound a very different theme in fact, it's hard to believe they're writing about the same book."
WND pulled a similar stunt in a Feb. 28 article, citing excerpts from "hate mail" he claims to have received -- quoting only the most extreme examples of criticism of Kupelian to present them as representative of all criticism. One thing you will not see from Kupelian is any substantial response to his critics, since it's much easier to present the most extreme critics and pretend they represent all critics and, therefore, not worth responding to.
How do we know? While we have not read the book itself, much of its subject matter has appeared in one form or another on WND. In December 2004, ConWebWatch examined Kupelian's claim of a "media matrix" that induces "mass manipulation, mind control, brainwashing, suggestion, hypnosis and Pavlovian conditioning"-- which WND first printed in October 2004 and which appears in similar form as a chapter in the book -- and contrasted it to his role in producing WND's own reality-defying "matrix" programs, such as its distorted and false attacks on John Kerry and the alleged "war on Christmas." Neither Kupelian nor WND have responded to the article, perhaps because it didn't resort to profanity or name-calling and thus couldn't be dismissed out of hand.
Kupelian is quoted in the February article as saying that "what's so interesting about all this hate mail is that to date, no one has actually identified a single factual error in 'The Marketing of Evil.' All they can do is get upset and call me a Nazi or a devil or Ann Coulter. But they can't point to where I'm wrong." (Italics his.)
That's because Kupelian's book isn't about facts; it's about assertions and conclusions, which are opinion and therefore not objectively true or not true. For Kupelian to claim that there have been no identified factual errors in the book is disingenuous because that's not the point of the book; in Kupelian's eyes, anyone who disagrees with him is "wrong."
For example, is there any factual response that can be made to Kupelian's assertion in a Dec. 27, 2005, commentary that the gay-cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain" -- in Kupelian's eyes, a "brazen propaganda vehicle" -- represents "raping the 'Marlboro Man,' that revered American symbol of rugged individualism and masculinity"? He's not dealing with facts here; he's playing rhetorical guilt-by-association games by likening homosexuality to unambiguously bad things like pedophilia and drug abuse -- and thus engaging in the same emotional manipulation that he purports to despise when used in the alleged service of things he doesn't like. Is that an honest way to make an argument?
A March 22 article by Kupelian on teacher-student sex, which also appeared in the similarly themed issue WND's Whistleblower magazine, embraces dubious statistics and other dishonesties (in addition to serving as something of an explanation of WND's creepy obsession with the subject).
When Kupelian states, "Recently, there has been a seeming explosion in a special type of teacher sexual abuse -- female teachers having sex with underage teenage boys, who as a rule are willing participants in the sex," he not only fails to offer any solid evidence of this, he fails to disclose that WND has played a role in promoting that "seeming explosion" by repeatedly printing a laundry list of alleged incidents it found on a gossip site -- a list that dates back more than 15 years, not a current list as is implied. Kupelian also touted an alarmist claim by researcher Charol Shakeshaft -- the presumed "evidence" of his assertion -- that "the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests," despite the fact that this number is extrapolated from another survey and has no direct research to support it. But it's not until after he recounts that study in detail that Kupelian bothers to note that one criticism of Shakeshaft's work called it "a misuse of the data" and that Shakeshaft herself "acknowledged many factors could alter the analysis."
In making his moral case against teacher-student sex, Kupelian plays it black-and-white in portraying anyone who doesn't follow his point of view as supporters of a "secular, de facto atheistic worldview" who believe "there is just no logical reason adults shouldn't be able to have sex with children or whatever else they please." And what is Kupelian's point of view? It's roughly summed up by this statement: "The sexual revolution glorified the destruction of Judeo-Christian civilization and the morality at its core." He also claims that "artificial birth control, abortion, [and] alternative sexual acts" is "an absurd end-run around God and His obvious restrictions on sex." In Kupelian's world, there appears to be no room for moderation, let alone the idea that there is such a thing as a nonreligous basis for laws against sex with minors.
Yet Kupelian does not have the lily-white factual record he would have you believe. For instance, in an April 10 WND commentary, Kupelian took the role of Bush administration shill under the guise of telling why politicians like to tell the "big lie," engaging in a fair bit of selective citing and at least one false claim.
Even though all of the facts have not been made public regarding President Bush's declassification of information that was leaked by ex-vice presidential chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby to a New York Times reporter, Kupelian nevertheless claimed that "[i]n reality, as everyone knows, Bush did nothing whatsoever wrong." While, as Kupelian wrote, "the president of the United States has the power and the right to declassify U.S. government information" -- a fact not in dispute -- it is still not known whether Bush followed proper procedures in declassifying that particular information, especially given that, as the Washington Post reported, its release was part of a "concerted action" by the Bush White House to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" Joseph Wilson, who had criticized the administration's rationale for war. The Post also noted that the leaked information "had been disproved months before."
Kupelian also claimed that "The Democrats who are now claiming Bush lied had access to essentially the same intelligence the president did," and are thus involved in "a flagrant attempt at rewriting history. That involves lying." That is not true; in several instances regarding the Iraq war, Democratic congressmen did not have access to same full range of intelligence that the White House did.
Kupelian also quoted columnist Michael Barone to falsely suggest that the Robb-Silberman commission cleared the Bush administration of the charged that it "cherry-picked" intelligence to make its case for war. In fact, the commission never examined the issue of how the administration used prewar intelligence.
(If Kupelian is so interested in exposing the "big lie" technique, he might want to start closer to home -- like his WorldNetDaily offices, where his boss, Joseph Farah, insists that WND has the "highest ethical standards" (which apparently include plagiarism, false articles, biased reporting and association with untrustworthy convicted felons) and "a commitment to exposing corruption, fraud, waste and abuse wherever it is found no matter who the perpetrator" despite the fact that WND has essentially ignored corruption by Republicans.)
Kupelian's Bush-fluffing is not new; he made pro-Bush appeals before the 2000 election -- in which he described the choice between Bush and Al Gore "a clear-cut choice between good and evil" and alleged that "Gore has been reprogrammed, and not necessarily by communist brainwashers, like the Manchurian candidate" -- and the 2004 election, calling John Kerry "a man who opposes, and is intent on destroying, every one of their most cherished values," adding that "it's indefensible to vote for anyone else than Bush, since that would unquestionably help Kerry the greater evil."
Detecting a theme here? Kupelian has a very broad view of what is "evil," which apparently includes anyone who doesn't agree with him or anything else that he disapproves of. (This does, however, help to explain WND's egregiously biased, occasionally false demonization of Kerry during the 2004 election.)
Kupelian obviously has the right to promote his work any way he wants. But given that he's a promoter of what he calls "the magnificent Judeo-Christian culture," one would think he would bring a little more honesty and integrity to the process. Branding those people and things you disagree with as "evil" is not the same thing as developing a cogent, logical argument. And ultimately, Kupelian has little to offer beyond that.
Facts take you only so far. Honesty -- something that's lacking in the way Kupelian has advanced his arguments -- takes you farther.