WorldNetDaily's (Mostly) Anti-Gay Agenda
WND has no problem distorting and outright lying about gays and laws barring discrimination against gays. So why did it hire a man with a gay-porn past as a correspondent?
By Terry Krepel
As a conservative website, WorldNetDaily has been by definition generally opposed to homosexuals. As WND shifted its focus from being mostly an anti-Clinton site at its founding in 1997 to pushing a more far-right, aggressively pro-Christian doctrine after Bill Clinton left office, its anti-gay stance became similarly aggressive.
When the Supreme Court overturned an anti-sodomy law in Texas in 2003, WND editor Joseph Farah declared that the justices who voted for it -- whom he called the "Sodomy Six" -- must be impeached, claiming offense that the justices "found hidden in the U.S. Constitution a right to practice homosexual sodomy," and insisting that the next to be leagalized included "consensual incest," "bestiality" and "homosexual marriage."
WND ran to the defense to a bullhorn-wielding preacher, Michael Marcavage, and his followers arrested for disrupting a gay festival in Philadelphia, claiming, as ConWebWatch noted, that the group was "preaching God's Word" and "peacefully evangelizing" and that a group of gays that confronted them during the festival was "a militant mob of homosexuals," all the while refusing to report the other side of the story -- that a prosecutor stated that Marcavage's group tried to demonstrate in front of a stage performance, as well as Marcavage's history of extremist activism -- and only barely acknowledged that even the head of the gay festival Marcavage was protesting thought the protesters would never face the 47 years in prison WND hyped as the consequence of their arrest (indeed, the charges were ultimately dropped).
In 2005, as ConWebWatch also noted, WND was a promoter of the contention that a tolerance-promoting video for children featuring famous cartoon characters like SpongeBob SquarePants was designed, as one article stated, to be used by "homosexual activists" to "surreptitiously indoctrinate young children into their lifestyle." WND managing editor David Kupelian complained: "Government schools [the right-wing term for what non-WND employees call public schools] nationwide teach children as young as five that homosexuality is normal -- and that disagreeing with this viewpoint brands you as an intolerant 'hater.' The popular culture always portrays homosexuals sympathetically, and often as heroes." As a presumed rectification, WND echoed claims disparaging Matthew Shepard -- that he was killed over a drug deal, not because he was gay -- predicated on the idea that the word of a convicted killer who has repeatedly changed his story about Shepard's death, and mounted a gay-panic defense during his murder trial, can suddenly be believed now.
WND's onetime partner for its business page, the now apparently defunct Business Reform magazine, attacked allegedly "pro-gay" companies and praised "anti-gay" companies, adding: "The zombies are out there -- in all their pallid effeminacy -- and this list is just a brief field manual for their primary strategic positions."
In 2006, WND mischaracterized a new California law that adds "sexual orientation" to the non-discrimination provisions any group accepting state money must abide by claiming that it "tossed out all sexual moral conduct codes at colleges, private and Christian schools, daycare centers and other facilities throughout his state" and "specifically requires 'any program or activity that receives any financial assistance from the state' to support the alternative sexual lifestyle choices." When a writer criticized WND's misleading demonization of the bill and other gay-related legislation, ending with a dramatic flourish about the need to "rid us of the evil lunatics" -- in context, not a death threat at all, and the author later emphatically denied that it was -- WND editor Joseph Farah called him a "madman," a "poisoned mind," a " bigoted, intolerant rat," "a nutcase calling for my head" and "a hateful little man obsessed with stamping out any and all opposition to the forced homosexualization of America."
Such is the hateful spirit that continues to guide WND's reporting and commentary on gays -- denigration of any view that contradicts its consrevative agenda, and an insistence that any mention of homosexuality that is not negative is tantamount to "indoctrination."
A Feb. 20 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh is one example. Unruh highlighted "Massachusetts father" David Parker, who accused teachers of "indoctrinating his 5-year-old son in the homosexual lifestyle." Parker has been in a dispute with Massachusetts schools that began according to Unruh, "in the spring of 2005 when the Parkers then-5-year-old son brought home a book to be shared with his parents titled, "Who's in a Family?" The optional reading material, which came in a 'Diversity Book Bag,' depicted at least two households led by homosexual partners."
Unruh devoted pretty much the entire article to Parker's anti-gay attacks. It's never explained how a book that states the simple fact that homosexual couples exist equals "indoctrinati[on] ... in the homosexual lifestyle," yet Unruh repeatedly quotes Parker using the word: "Teachers are being postured to have a constitutional right to coercively indoctrinate little children." Indeed, Unruh permits no one to respond to Parker's claims, even his Godwin's Law-like assertion (something Unruh is quite familiar with) that "if homosexuality and bisexuality can be taught by public school teachers to children as young as age 5, there is virtually no topic, up to and including Nazism, that educational precedents would not allow to be taught to young children."
Unruh also described Parker has having been "handcuffed and arrested after objecting to teachers and school managers indoctrinating his 5-year-old son in the homosexual lifestyle." That's not exactly true; while Parker was arrested, it was for trespassing, after he refused to leave his child's school until they agreed to his demand that he be allowed to opt out his child from discussions of same-sex marriage. He spent one night in jail after the arrest -- but only because he refused to bail himself out.
WND has also continued its streak of distorting Calfornia anti-discrimination laws.
Under the headline "Homosexodus!" -- an apparent attempt to capitalize on its similarly silly "Sexpidemic" headline -- Unruh wrote in a Dec. 4, 2007, article that a recently enacted California law, passed by the legislature as SB777, was a "newly mandated homosexual indoctrination program." In fact, all the bill essentially does is add "sexual orientation" to a list of characteristics California schools are not allowed to "promote a discriminatory bias" against. The word "indoctrination" does not appear anywhere in the law.
Unruh's article is filled with specuation from opponents of the law about what the law "could" do -- including claiming that it would ban the words "mom" and "dad" -- and Unruh does not allow any state official or proponent of the law to respond to such claims.
WND columnist Olivia St. John made even more egregious (and unsupported) claims about the law in a Dec. 3, 2007, column, claiming that it will result in the state "force-feeding children perverse material and videos vile enough to garner an R-rating in the local multiplex."
WND moved to an different -- but still misleading -- depiction of the law in a Jan. 11 article, claiming it "would mandate a positive and no other portrayal of bisexuals, homosexuals, transgenders and others choosing alternative sexual lifestyles in public schools." The word "positive" doesn't appear in the law, and WND offers no evidence that all non-discriminatory references to homosexuals are ipso facto "positive." Again, alarmist speculation is pushed, and no supporter is permitted to respond.
Unruh took it further in a Feb. 1 article, claiming outright that the law "created a ban on the use of 'mom' and 'dad' in public schools." That's utterly false, based only on alarmist speculation by one opponent of the law that "The terms 'mom and dad' or 'husband and wife' could promote discrimination against homosexuals if a same-sex couple is not also featured" (emphasis added). Unruh even admits that "the law is not a list of banned words, including 'mom' and 'dad' " -- yet he claimed it was anyway.
In other words, Unruh is presenting specuation as fact -- a shocking, and shoddy, bit of hack reporting for someone who had a long career with the Associated Press before joining WND.
By an April 11 article, WND was claiming the law was "a legislative plan to mandate only positive messages about homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality in public schools" -- again, failing to explain how non-discriminatory language is "positive."
Other gay-related happenings were the target of WND's bias. A March 8 article by Unruh, carrying the headline "Parents urged to boycott homosexual indoctrination," began this way:
What if homosexuals staged a huge promotion of that sexual lifestyle choice, and no one came to see it? That's exactly what a coalition of organizations is proposing for April 25, this year's "Day of Silence," which is sponsored in public schools across the nation to promote homosexuality.
Unruh makes assumptions, consistent with conservative views on the subject, for which he offers no supporting evidence -- that homosexuality is a "sexual lifestyle choice," ad that the "Day of Silence" event "promote[s] homosexuality."
The article is presented with Unruh's usual lack of balance, quoting only conservative critics of the "Day of Silence" who make similarly unsupported claims:
Unruh did not offer support for these statments either, nor did he allow anyone to respond to them.
A March 30 article by Unruh made a big deal out of McDonald's "sign[ing] onto a nationwide effort to promote 'gay' and 'lesbian' business ventures" without explaining what, exactly, is so offensive about it.
Unruh appears to do a lot of dog-whistle implication regarding McDonald's being a "corporate partner and organization ally" with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; Unruh calls the group a "special interest chamber" and "the 'gay' advocacy organization" which is "promoting the LGBT community first and always" and accused McDonald's of supporting "the agenda of the homosexual business lobby." Unruh even offered a list of what the NGLCC does, including "disseminate news and information central to the success of LGBT businesses, ... ensure increased opportunity and equality for LGBT professionals, ... help LBGT businesses gain more procurement opportunities, ... provide strong lobbying efforts for LBGT business causes."
But what, exactly, is the problem in McDonald's doing this? Unruh never says, beyond the article's overall anti-gay tone. Apparently, Unruh's point is gays are not permitted to operate businesses, or at least forbidden from getting any special assistance in doing so.
Unruh stated, "Other corporate sponsors of the NGLCC include expected names such as Coors Light and Kodak, who have been leaders in advocating homosexuality," but he never explained what the link is between supporting gay-owned businesses and "advocating homosexuality."
Unruh also wrote: "WND reported earlier when Wal-Mart joined the NGLCC, and how the corporation's income later started declining as Christian organizations reacted to the news." In fact, in the December 2006 WND article to which Unruh links, the cause-and-effect is rather tenuous; anti-abortion activist Flip Benham takes credit for Wal-Mart's post-Thanksgiving sales coming in "0.1 percent below expectations." The article described Wal-Mart's tie to the NGLCC as an example of its "developing support for the 'gay' agenda" as well as that it has "not fired a homosexual marketing agency."
What it appears that Unruh and WND, as well as activists like Benham, really want to do is blacklist gay businesses. Is that really a responsible or moral thing to do? They apparently think so, considering that WND also appears to at least condone the idea of segregating gays from the general population -- to the point of distorting statistics to support the cause.
In a March 25 column warning that homosexuals are "using the public airwaves, public parks and public schools to push deviant sexual practices into the faces of our innocent children," Olivia St. John wrote:
Dr. Gene Abel, medical director of the Behavioral Medicine Institute of Atlanta, compared groups of self-confessed homosexual and heterosexual molesters. A sampling of molestation rates indicated that the homosexuals averaged molesting 150 children each, while the heterosexuals molested 19.8 victims each.
That relies on an assumption that all same-sex pedophiles are homosexual. In fact, as researcher Mark E. Pietrzyk points out, Abel himself has disproven that assumption:
[M]ost men who molest little boys are not gay. Only 21 percent of the child molesters we studied who assault little boys were exclusively homosexual. Nearly 80 percent of the men who molested little boys were heterosexual or bisexual, and most of these men were married and had children of their own.
This is a distortion of Abel's work that WND has propagated as far back as 2000, when David Bresnahan wrote in an article "excerpted from an in-depth exploration of pedophilia, homosexuality and the Boy Scouts of America in the October edition of WND's sister publication, the monthly WorldNet Magazine" [now Whistleblower]: "Based on data from a study of non-incarcerated child sex offenders, Gene G. Abel, M.D., has found that homosexuals 'sexually molest young boys with an incidence that is occurring five times greater than the molestation of girls.'" But Abel did not label all same-sex pedophiles as homosexuals.
Yet, despite this long history of anti-gay activism and anti-gay smears, WND did something very suprising last year: it hired a man who has appeared in gay porn videos as a correspondent.
An August 2007 article announced that WND had hired Matt Sanchez, a former Marine then embedded as a writer with the U.S. military in Iraq, to "provide WND readers with a glimpse into the Iraq war most Americans have never heard from a press increasingly hostile to the war effort."
WorldNetDaily correspondent Matt Sanchez.
(photo taken from Salon.com)
Since then, Sanchez has written numerous articles for WND -- but at no point has WND told its readers about Sanchez's gay-porn past.
That's puzzling, because not only does it conflict with WND's anti-gay agenda, it's presumably the kind of "seriously compromised personal life" that would presumably disqualify him from employment there because, as editor Joseph Farah himself wrote in February 2005, "WorldNetDaily hires only serious and experienced journalists with the highest standards of ethics both in their professional lives and their personal lives."
It appears that WND decided that homosexuality isn't as evil as its "reporting" makes it out to be, or at least a tolerable evil when when another cause takes precedence -- in this case, support for the Iraq war. After all, Sanchez has been peddling the conservative line on the war -- the same service he performed for WND -- becoming a cause celebre and receiving the Jeane Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award at the 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference in the process. Even after the revelation of Sanchez's gay-porn past, conservatives (like WND) were reluctant to criticize; one blogger played the youthful-indiscretion card and asserted, "The mistakes Sanchez made years ago aren't that important compared to the fact that he's doing the right thing today and standing up to, 'anti-war thugs on campus' at Columbia University."
Even though Sanchez's gay-porn past is quite public, WND hasn't breathed a word of it to its readers. Perhaps Farah and Co. don't want to damage WND's anti-gay street cred among its right-wing readers -- as if that's something to be proud of.