People of the Lie
How can anyone take WorldNetDaily as a credible source of news when it repeatedly publishes falsehoods about Barack Obama?
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily has been on a wild anti-Barack Obama rampage for months now, but the only victim thus far is WND's credibility.
WND regularly spreads false and misleading claims about Democrats -- as John Kerry found out in 2004 -- and just as regularly refuses to correct those falsehoods unless threatened with a lawsuit, and sometimes not even then. For seven years WND fought a libel suit filed against it by Clark Jones, a Tennessee businessman targeted for his support of Al Gore, before finally admitting as the case was to go to trial its claims about Jones were false -- resulting in the expenditure of untold thousands in legal costs that could have been spared had WND retracted and apologized for its claims about Jones at the outset.
WND appears to be taking refuge in the fact that the bar for which it can be found guilty of libeling a public figure like Barack Obama is much higher than for the average American. The standard established by the Supreme Court is that a public figure cannot collect libel damages without proving that "actual malice" was involved in the publishing of inaccurate and defamatory material; the false information must have been published with knowledge that a statement is false or with "reckless disregard" of whether it is false or not.
Given the sheer number of falsehoods about Obama published by WND, one can easily make the argument that such a lengthy series of lies while demonstrating no genuine interest in telling the truth can be interpreted as "actual malice" because it demonstrates a deliberate pattern of "reckless disregard" -- and could, thus, be actionable under libel laws.
ConWebWatch has compiled a list of 23 falsehoods about Obama or topics related to him published in WND news articles and columns. Columnists are included because opinion pieces should be held to the same standard of factual accuracy as "news" stories. ConWebWatch attempted to find all instances in WND's article in which a falsehood was uncritically repeated, though information debunking it or putting it into proper context was available or could have been found had the writer chosen to seek it out, and for which no correction, clarification or retraction was subsequently published.
Look at the list -- admittedly incomplete -- and decide for yourself: Can a "news" organization that has published so many falsehoods about a single person have any credibility whatsoever? If WND can't be bothered to get its facts straight about a single man, why trust it to tell the truth about anything else?
WND has more than amply demonstrated that it cannot be trusted, especially in its coverage of Obama.
Without further ado, the list:
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THE LIE: Obama forwarded a "a discredited distortion of the Holocaust."
THE LIAR: Aaron Klein, July 15, 2008.
THE TRUTH: Klein was referring to statements by Obama that raised questions over which Obama relative helped to liberate which concentration camp during World War II. Obama never "distorted" the Holocaust.
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THE LIE: Obama plans for a "civilian national security force" refers to the creation of a Nazi/Marxist police force, and Obama has refused to elaborate on what his plan means.
THE LIARS: Joseph Farah, July 15, 2008, July 21, 2008, August 21, 2008, Sept. 8, 2008, Nov. 29, 2008, Dec. 13, 2008,April 25, 2009; unbylined, Sept. 6, 2008, Nov. 6, 2008, Jan. 1, 2009, March 17, 2009; Hal Lindsey, Nov. 14, 2008; Hilmar von Campe, Nov. 25, 2008, April 4, 2009; Bob Unruh, March 19, 2009, April 11, 2009, April 21, 2009; Alan Keyes, April 17, 2009.
THE TRUTH: Obama has specifically described his idea of a "civilian national security force" as a restructuring of the State Department and foreign service so that it can "deploy teams that combine agricultural specialists and engineers and linguists and cultural specialists who are prepared to go into some of the most dangerous areas alongside our military." Obama has also applied the term to an expansion of the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.
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THE LIE: The main or sole component of Obama's energy policy was to encourage drivers to keep their tires properly inflated.
THE LIAR: Joseph Farah, July 30, 2008.
THE TRUTH: In the speech from which Farah cherry-picked the statement about keeping tires inflated, Obama made numerous other energy-related proposals. And Obama also had a detailed energy plan on his campaign website.
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THE LIE: Obama supports cash reparations to descendents of slaves.
THE LIAR: Unbylined, July 30, 2008.
THE TRUTH: WND's account of the speech from which it extrapolated Obama's views on reparations failed to note that Obama, in fact, said that "the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed."
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THE LIE: Obama "said in a radio interview the U.S. has suffered from a fundamentally flawed Constitution that does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth," that "Obama believes the Constitution is flawed, because it fails to address wealth redistribution, and he says the Supreme Court should have intervened years ago to accomplish that," and that the Supreme Court under Earl Warren failed to "break free from the essential constraints" in the U.S. Constitution and launch a major redistribution of wealth.
THE LIARS: Unbylined, Oct. 27, 2008, Oct. 30, 2008, Dec. 5, 2008, April 1, 2009; poll question, Oct. 27, 2008; Ellis Washington, Oct. 29, 2008; Larry Elder, Oct. 30, 2008; Bob Unruh, Dec. 12, 2008, Dec. 16, 2008, Jan. 13, 2009, Feb. 3, 2009, March 24, 2009; Phyllis Schlafly, Feb. 25, 2009.
THE TRUTH: In full context, Obama said that the civil rights movement relied too much on the court system to advance its agenda instead of promoting change from the bottom up, i.e., legislatively, and the Supreme Court under Earl Warren was not as radical as right-wingers claim it to be because it refused to take up "more basic issues of political and economic justice." At no point does Obama specifically advocate "redistribution of wealth."
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THE TRUTH: Corsi's evidence for this claim were emails obtained in Kenya and purportedly written by Obama setting up an Obama aide as a liaison between Obama and Odinga. But as ConWebWatch detailed, the emails are written in stilted language and non-standard punctuation that demonstrate that they are clearly not written by a native English speaker and that the emails themselves are apparently fraudulent. Corsi appeared to concede the point regarding one of the emails in an Oct. 16, 2008, article, but insisted that "a second similar e-mail WND published ... should not occasion any linguistic quibbles." In fact, that email uses non-American English punctuation and a non-existent email address.
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THE LIE: Documents prove that Obama helped raise nearly $1 million for Odinga's run for Kenyan president in 2007.
THE TRUTH: PolitiFact reported several months before Corsi first latched onto the story that such claims "are as baseless as anything you’ve read from an anonymous blogger." ConWebWatch further detailed that the document Corsi used to back up is claim appears to be a re-creation of a version of one obtained by PolitiFact -- and looks nothing like it. PolitiFact wrote of the document that "three Kenya experts who reviewed the document at our request called it fraudulent."
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THE LIE: American flags were thrown in the trash after the Democratic National Convention.
THE TRUTH: DNC officials stated that the flags were placed in trash bags so that they could be put into storage, but were stolen and turned over to the McCain campaign under the bogus story that they were to be thrown out.
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THE LIE: The Obama campaign created a "team of Obama-supporting prosecutors and sheriffs in Missouri" in order to legally harass anyone running ads critical of Obama.
THE TRUTH: According to the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader, "Despite having law enforcement officials on the truth squad, none of them have publicly said they will invoke their official powers to enforce facts about Obama’s record." Further, the newspaper reported, "a review of [John] McCain’s own truth squads shows he has a district attorney from New Mexico and the South Carolina attorney general ready to respond to misleading ads from Obama and Democrats in their respective states."
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THE LIE: Obama mocked the Bible during a 2006 speech.
THE LIAR: Drew Zahn, Oct. 10, 2008.
THE TRUTH: While Zahn quoted from Obama's speech to offer the "immediate context" of his words, he failed to mention the Obama's campaign's statement that the speech "actually celebrates the role of people of faith in public life and offers nuanced thoughts on the intersection of religion and politics."
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THE LIE: When Obama worked for Project Vote in 1992, he was working for ACORN.
THE TRUTH: The fact that Project Vote shares a corporate home with ACORN now, as Klein claims, is irrelevant to the relationship between the two groups in 1992. From FactCheck.org:
According to Sanford Newman, who was the program’s national director at the time, ACORN may have been one of dozens of organizations that participated in registration drives that year with Project Vote personnel like Obama. But Project Vote didn’t begin contracting exclusively with ACORN until after Obama worked for the group in 1992. “Working for Project Vote at the time was by no means working for ACORN," Newman told us. ACORN had no influence on Project Vote policy and no representation on its board.
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THE LIARS: Craige McMillan, Oct. 23, 2008, Oct. 30, 2008, Dec. 18, 2008; Jerome Corsi, Oct. 26, 2008, Nov. 2, 2008; Barbara Simpson, Nov. 3, 2008; unbylined, Oct. 23, 2008, Nov. 4, 2008, Dec. 1, 2008, Dec. 3, 2008, Jan. 8, 2009, April 2, 2009; Ellis Washington, Nov. 8, 2008; Janet Folger Porter, Nov. 11, 2008, Nov. 18, 2008, Dec. 2, 2008, Dec. 9, 2008; Chelsea Schilling, Nov. 13, 2008, Nov. 25, 2008, Dec. 2, 2008; Bob Unruh, Nov. 14, 2008, Nov. 25, 2008, Dec. 2, 2008, Dec. 3, 2008, Dec. 5, 2008, March 6, 2009, March 10, 2009, April 8, 2009; Drew Zahn, March 9, 2009.
THE TRUTH: According to David Wiegel at Slate:
On Oct. 16 , an Anabaptist minister named Ron McRae called Sarah Hussein Obama, the president-elect's 86-year-old paternal step-grandmother, at her home in Kenya. Two translators were on the line when McRae asked if the elder Obama was "present" when the president-elect was born. One of the translators says "yes." McRae contacted Berg and gave him a partial transcript of the call with a signed affidavit. He opted not to include the rest of the call, in which he asks the question more directly"Was he born in Mombassa?"and the translators, finally understanding him, tell him repeatedly that the president-elect was born in Hawaii.
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THE LIARS: Unbylined, Aug. 8, 2008, Dec. 8, 2008, Dec. 9, 2008; Hal Lindsey, Oct. 17, 2008; Ellis Washington, Nov. 8, 2008; Janet Folger Porter, Nov. 11, 2008, Nov. 25, 2008, Dec. 2, 2008, Dec. 9, 2008; Jesse Smith, Nov. 27, 2008; Bob Unruh, Nov. 22, 2008, Dec. 1, 2008; Chelsea Schilling, Nov. 28, 2008; Joseph Farah, Dec. 1, 2008, Dec. 20, 2008; Chelsea Schilling, Dec. 2, 2008.
THE TRUTH: An August 23, 2008, WND article got it right: "A separate WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic." Further, FactCheck.org reported that it has "seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. ... Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said."
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THE LIE: WorldNetDaily never claimed that the birth certificate released by the Obama campaign was authentic.
THE TRUTH: Again, from the August 23, 2008, WND article: "A separate WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic."
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THE LIE: Obama endorsed the killing of fetuses who survive abortions and, thus, infanticide.
THE LIARS: Jill Stanek, July 19, 2006, Dec. 6, 2006, Jan. 3, 2007, Jan. 17, 2007, Jan. 25, 2007, Jan. 16, 2008, May 21, 2008, July 2, 2008, July 9, 2008, July 23, 2008, Oct. 22, 2008, Oct. 29, 2008, Nov. 6, 2008, Feb. 4, 2009, Jane Chastain, Feb. 1, 2007, Alan Keyes, July 10, 2007, Aug. 11, 2008; Gordon James Klingenschmitt, Oct. 22, 2007; Nat Hentoff, April 30, 2008; Star Parker, May 5, 2008; Les Kinsolving, June 17, 2008; Janet Folger Porter, July 1, 2008; David Limbaugh, Aug. 1, 2008, Aug. 8, 2008, Aug. 19, 2008, Aug. 22, 2008, Oct. 21, 2008, Pat Buchanan, Aug. 11, 2008; unbylined, Aug. 16, 2008, Aug. 21, 2008, Oct. 16, 2008; Bob Unruh, Aug. 18, 2008, Oct. 27, 2008; Ann Coulter, Aug. 20, 2008; Joseph Farah, May 5, 2008, Dec. 22, 2008, Feb. 16, 2009; Michael Ackley, Feb. 9, 2009;
THE TRUTH: As an Illinois state senator, Obama opposed a proposed state law that would have designated any fetus that survived an abortion -- even pre-viable ones that cannot survive outside the womb -- as a "human person" and making it a crime to allow them to die, even if they cannot survive outside the womb. Obama made a distinction between viable and pre-viable fetuses and claimed that Illinois law already required doctors to provide medical treatment for all post-viability fetuses.
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THE LIARS: Jerome Corsi, Sept. 7, 2008, Nov. 3, 2008; Janet Folger Porter, Nov. 11, 2008, Nov. 25, 2008, unbylined, Jan. 23, 2009; Bob Unruh, Nov. 25, 2008, Dec. 1, 2008, Dec. 2, 2008, March 21, 2009, April 10, 2009.
THE TRUTH: As ConWebWatch noted, contrary to claims that Americans could not visit Pakistan in 1981 (and, therefore, Obama must have visited via another country's passport), a June 1981 New York Times article states that "Tourists can obtain a free, 30-day visa (necessary for Americans) at border crossings and airports," and an August 1981 State Department travel advisory explains how Americans can obtain visas for visiting Pakistan.
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THE LIE: Obama was "a good friend and a close political ally" of disgraced ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
THE LIAR: Ellis Washington, Dec. 13, 2008.
THE TRUTH: The Washington Post reported that while Obama worked on Blagojevich's campaign in 2002 and endorsed his re-election in 2006, the two were not close: "They sometimes used each other to propel their own careers but privately acted like rivals." The post also stated: "The two men have not talked for more than a year, colleagues said, save for a requisite handshake at a funeral or public event. Blagojevich rarely campaigned for Obama and never stumped with him. The governor arrived late at the Democratic convention and skipped Obama's victory-night celebration at Chicago's Grant Park."
* * *
THE LIE: The Pentagon wants to cut the Pentagon's budget.
THE LIAR: Jerome Corsi, Feb. 1, 2009.
THE TRUTH: Obama plans to increase the Pentagon's budget from $513 billion this year to $527 billion in the next fiscal year; the figure in the budget he submitted to Congress is $534 billion. The so-called "cut" is from a earlier Pentagon budget proposal, not an actual budget.
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THE LIE: ACORN received billions of dollars in the Obama-endorsed stimulus bill.
THE LIARS: Joseph Farah, Jan. 31, 2009, Feb. 21, 2009; Feb. 23, 2009, Feb. 28, 2009; Janet Folger Porter, Feb. 3, 2009, Feb. 10, 2009, March 31, 2009; Brad O'Leary, Feb. 13, 2009; Hal Lindsey, Feb. 13, 2009; Roy Moore, Feb. 18, 2009; Craige McMillan, Feb. 19, 2009; David Limbaugh, Feb. 24, 2009, March 6, 2009;
THE TRUTH: No money in the stimulus bill was earmarked for ACORN. Further, according to ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis: "So let's be clear. ACORN isn't getting any of this money. Since it is set aside for non-profit housing developers to help purchase, rehab, and resell foreclosed properties, we aren't eligible for it in the first place."
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THE LIE: The Obama-endorsed stimulus package censors religion by prohibiting schools that accept building funds from permitting "sectarian instruction" or "religious worship" in structures built or modernized with the federal money.
THE TRUTH: The stimulus provision in question, which applies only higher education, clearly states that funding is banned for facilities used exclusively or substantially for a "religious mission" -- not that all religious use is banned in such facilities. The provision is nearly identical to provisions included in numerous other bills passed by Congress, including those passed when the Republicans were in the majority.
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THE LIE: The stimulus bill would permit illegal immigrants to collect a tax rebate check of $500 per person.
THE LIAR: Brad O'Leary, Feb. 13, 2009.
THE TRUTH: The bill expressly disqualified "nonresident aliens" -- illegal immigrants -- from receiving tax credits.
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THE LIE: At the G-20 meeting in London, Obama "agreed to create of an international board with authority to intervene in U.S. corporations by dictating executive compensation and approving or disapproving business management decisions."
THE LIARS: Jerome Corsi and Dick Morris, April 8, 2009.
THE TRUTH: The Financial Stability Board referenced in the G-20 communiqué does not contain cross-border authority and thus does not in any way limit or eliminate U.S. sovereignty. Further, an April 3 New York Times article reported, "While the leaders agreed to create a new Financial Stability Board to monitor the financial system for signs of risks, they stopped well short of giving regulators cross-border authority, something France has long advocated."
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THE LIE: Obama engaged in "environmental hypocrisy" by flying in a chef from St. Louis to make him a pizza.
THE LIAR: Andrea Shea King, April 13, 2009.
THE TRUTH: The chef, Chris Sommers, flew to Washington on a commercial flight for a previously scheduled business trip, and the restaurant paid for the flight. Obama paid for the pizza's ingredients out of his own pocket.