The Year WorldNetDaily Died
WND began the year by admitting in court that it published false information and ended it by recklessly spreading lies about Barack Obama. Why should anyone take it seriously as a source of news?
By Terry Krepel
The October issue of WorldNetDaily's Whistleblower magazine carried the theme, "The Year the Media Died." It's ostensibly about how "America's 'mainstream media' have finally, during 2008, dropped the façade of fairness and impartiality." What it's really about is summarized this way:
The pregnancy of Sarah Palin's teen daughter is national news, as is the presence in the Alaska governor's mansion of a tanning bed (which Palin paid for herself). But Obama being mentored and nurtured for years by terrorists (William Ayers), communists (Frank Marshall Davis) and America-hating racists (Rev. Jeremiah Wright), which helped shape him into the most left-wing, America-blaming, radically pro-abortion and tyrant-appeasing presidential candidate in U.S. history, is not news.
In other words, it's just more right-wing whining about alleged media bias. Of course, there's no admission of WND's own right-wing bias, which is much greater than any bias extant in the "mainstream media."
Further, there's one thing Kupelian and WND founder and editor Joseph Farah won't tell you: Apply those same standards to their own website, WorldNetDaily is very much dead as well, in a Monty Python parrot kind of way.
WND began 2008 by abruptly settling a libel lawsuit filed against it in 2001 by Clark Jones, a Tennessee businessman and supporter of Al Gore it had accused in a series of articles in 2000 of being a "suspected drug dealer" and of asking Gore to intervene to stop an alleged police investigation, as well as involvement in an arson at an auto dealership he owned.
After a seven-year court battle -- during which WND conceded that it didn't fact-check the articles before publication, and coming just a few days after it declared that the lawsuit was a harbinger for "the future of investigative journalism in the United States" -- WND abruptly announced a few weeks before the case was to go to trial that it had settled the lawsuit, admitting in a statement not only that "no witness verifies the truth of what the witnesses are reported by authors to have stated" but also that "the sources named in the publications have stated under oath that statements attributed to them in the articles were either not made by them, were misquoted by the authors, were misconstrued, or the statements were taken out of context."
The terms of the settlement were declared confidential, but given its de facto admission of libel, it can be presumed that WND made some sort of cash payment to Jones -- possibly a significant one -- as part of the settlement.
One might think that after settling a libel lawsuit by admitting the publication of false information, WND would have been suitably chastened into basic journalistic practice such as fact-checking claims before publishing them.
Wrong. Just four days after announcing that it settled the Jones lawsuit, WND began promoting the story of Larry Sinclair,who claimed that he did drugs and had sex with Barack Obama. WND made no apparent effort to verify Sinclair's claims, apparently happy with uncritically repeating the smear. WND dropped the story after Sinclair failed a polygraph test; it never retracted the articles, even after it was revealed that Sinclair is a career criminal utterly lacking in credibility.
As it became clear that Obama would win the Democratic presidential nomination, WND stepped up its attacks on him. Aaron Klein started churning out his dozens upon dozens of articles attacking Obama; he manufactured a controversy by setting up an interview with a Hamas official, Ahmed Yousef, who issued praise for Obama, which Klein then promoted as an endorsement of Obama by Hamas. Klein has yet to answer questions about the nature of the interview -- how much of its content was coordinated with Yousef beforehand, and whether Yousef knew he was playing into Klein's anti-Obama agenda.
Meanwhile, even as Farah was claiming that he didn't want either Obama or John McCain to win the election -- to the point of even writing a book about it -- his website had clearly taken sides. As WND was churning out one negative news article after another about Obama, it refused to criticize McCain, even when he did some of the same things for which it criticized Obama:
Kupelian's endorsement of McCain was another notable clue to WND's hands-off-McCain slant.
By the end of the summer, WND moved on from manufacturing controversies to simply making stuff up:
WND descended further down the rathole of deceit by disavowing its own reporting. It promoted the idea that the birth certificate released by Obama's campaign is a fake -- ignoring the fact that WND itself discredited the claim, declaring that a "WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic" and the lawsuit filed by Philip Berg to demand proof that Obama was born a U.S. citizen "relies on discredited claims."
WND reached its nadir, however, with Jerome Corsi's misadventures in Kenya in a desperate search for evidence to further smear Obama.
After experiencing a detention by Kenyan authorities that prevented him from holding a press conference in the country, Corsi returned to the U.S. to make his blockbuster attacks -- that Obama named an aide to act as a liaison to Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and that Obama himself donated "nearly $1 million" to Odinga's election campaign.
One small problem: The documents Corsi presented as evidence of these claims are clearly fake. The purported emails by Obama announcing the naming of a liaison to Odinga were clearly written by someone for whom American-style English is not a first language, and the documents backing up Corsi's claim of an Obama donation to Odinga are obvious recreations of documents cited by PolitiFact when it debunked the claim six months earlier.
Given this record of deceit, bias and lies promulgated by WND, perhaps the most shocking thing of all is that Farah apparently still believes every word of it -- and more importantly, wants others to believe it as well, in the face of actual facts.
In a Nov. 11 column, Farah professed offense that the Associated Press described Corsi as a "discredited Obama critic," calling it an "highly opinionated and indefensible label":
Now, I've been in the news business for 30 years. I bet I have more experience than the top editorial executives at AP. I've run daily newspapers. I've taught journalism at prestigious U.S. universities. And I've always believed that if you make a declaration like "discredited" in a news story that you have to back it up. Inflammatory labels are dangerous enough even when the reporter does provide some justification.
Well, here's a little news flash for Farah: Corsi is called a "discredited Obama critic" because he is one. Corsi has offered no other substantive evidence beyond those bogus documents to back up his claims against Obama. Until he does, he will continue to be discredited -- and Farah will be equally so for lending support to such shoddy, vindictive, fact-free reporting and for pretending that a recitation of Corsi's resume -- i.e., "You will notice AP never mentioned Corsi has authored 16 books in his life" -- is evidence that Corsi has not been "discredited."
Farah went on to whine even more that Cashill's insistence that Ayers ghost-wrote Obama's book was dismissed by the AP as "unsubstantiated." Insisting that Cashill wrote "a substantial 18-part series of columns" on the subject, Farah again went the resume-recitation route:
Let me tell you who Jack Cashill is.
On the other hand, we are also pretty sure Mendoza didn't spend a seven-part WND series "proving" that anti-abortion extremist James Kopp didn't murder abortion doctor Barnett Slepian -- only to have Kopp confess to the crime a few months later.
Nowhere does Farah offer any factual evidence to back up Cashill's claims either. Yet Farah insists that this is an example of "a shameless unprofessional political and cultural bias" -- by the AP!
Such bellowing is Farah's typical response to criticism of WND; ConWebWatch was on the receiving end of Farah's wrath in September, when a Huffington Post article by editor Terry Krepel outlining the history of WND was greeted with a torrent of name-calling by Farah -- attacking Krepel as a "talent-challenged slug," among others -- but no refutation of the claims made in the article.
Bluster is apparently all that Farah and WND have left. There certainly is no journalistic integrity to be found.
And that means WND is not only as dead as that Monty Python parrot -- not to mention deader than the "mainstream media" organizations whose obituaries its magazine purported to document -- it's stone dead, bleedin' demised, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker, bereft of life, rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-news website.
Whether Joseph Farah recognizes it or not.