WorldNetDaily's Favorite African Dictator
Why is WND backing Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo, who lost an election but won't leave office even as his followers commit human rights violations? Because he claims to be a Christian, and because his opponent is a Muslim. That's it.
By Terry Krepel
Who knew that WorldNetDaily had a favorite African dictator? And who knew that it would make such a distinction on the sole and simplistic basis on whether he claimed to be a Christian?
That, it seems, is how WND came to be such a staunch supporter of Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo.
A Jan. 4 WND article, taken from the subscription-only G2 Bulletin issued by WND editor Joseph Farah, declared that "The Ivory Coast is on the verge of civil war over an attempt by a Muslim to unseat a Christian president who was ruled the election winner by a constitutional council after it determined there was vote-rigging in the Muslim-dominated regions of the African nation."
The article portrayed the controversy as a conflict between “opening practicing Christian” Gbagbo, who is trying to cling to power and resist being unseated by his Muslim opponent, Alassane Ouattara (whose name WND misspells), amid allegations of vote fraud and the Gbagbo-controlled constitutional council’s overturning of the country’s electoral commission to declare Gbagbo the winner.
Butt WND left out one pertinent detail: The United Nations and the European Union have certified the vote declaring Ouattara the winner as free and fair, despite some isolated incidents of violence. Further, National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer noted that the provisional results were in favor of Ouattara, adding, “Credible, accredited electoral observers have characterized the balloting as free and fair, and no party should be allowed to obstruct further the electoral process.”
WND did note that the constitutional council that declared Gbagbo the winner is headed by “a loyal Gbagbo ally,” but focused instead on claims of “massive vote-rigging” in Ouattara strongholds and presents the controversy as a religious one in which “outsiders” are supporting “an attempt by a Muslim to unseat a Christian president.”
There was no mention of the fact that National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer has stated that the provisional results were in favor of Ouattara, adding, “Credible, accredited electoral observers have characterized the balloting as free and fair, and no party should be allowed to obstruct further the electoral process.”
WND tried to make its case more forcefully in a Jan. 22 article (also taken from the G2 Bulletin) declaring that "Laurent Gbagbo, a Christian, legitimately was re-elected president" and that the country "is facing the forced Islamist takeover of its government" from "outside influences" who "seek to force the installment of Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim who, like Gbagbo, claims the presidency following a recent contested election." WND continued:
The forced selection of Ouattara by outside influences runs contrary to constitutionally established procedures in the Ivory Coast regarding such determinations, critics contend.
This time, there was no mention of how the constitutional council that gave Gbagbo the win is headed by a Gbagbo loyalist, nor any explanation of how it determined that the council's decision was "legitimate."
Meanwhile, conditions in the country have deteriorated as a result of violence fomented by Gbagbo's refusal to step aside. The European Union imposed trade sanctions on the Ivory Coast, threatening its cocoa exports, and the U.S. has frozen Gbagbo-linked assets, as have the EU and the World Bank.
Violence in the country has escalated, particularly on the part of Gbagbo's supporters. Human Rights Watch issued a report in March stating that "[t]he three-month campaign of organized violence by security forces under the control of Laurent Gbagbo and militias that support him gives every indication of amounting to crimes against humanity." The report continued:
Human Rights Watch also documented the recent enforced disappearances of at least seven active members of Ouattara's party, as well as the February 25 rape of nine politically active women - the day after fighting between armed forces loyal to Gbagbo and Ouattara broke out in the Abobo area of Abidjan. Pro-Gbagbo forces are using excessive force in response to largely peaceful demonstrations, resulting in at least 25 deaths since February 21 - including seven women killed on March 3 when security forces opened fire with a mounted machine gun and a larger unidentified weapon against thousands of women demonstrators.
In response to the violence, more than 100,000 people have reportedly fled the country into squalid refugee camps in Liberia. (Human Rights Watch also noted violent acts by Ouattara supporters.)
What was WND's reaction to the deteriorating situation in the Ivory Coast? Ignore the facts and double down on its support of Gbagbo.
A March 31 WND article, again taken from the G2 Bulletin, declared that Ivory Coast "is being plunged into civil war by rebel Muslims who want to get rid of a Christian president," going on to complain: "They are being supported by United Nations and U.S. efforts, even though the nation's own constitutional process affirmed Christian President Laurent Gbagbo's election victory."
There was no mention of the fact that the "constitutional process" WND touts was apparently rigged, nor did WND acknowledge any acts of violence on the part of Gbagbo supporters.
On top of that all that shilling for Gbagbo, all three of the WND articles revived a zombie lie about President Obama. It's summed up in the Jan. 4 article:
It was Obama who barnstormed on behalf of Raila Odinga, the socialist who hails from the same tribal heritage, the Luo, as Obama, when Odinga was seeking the presidency in Kenya.
In fact, PolitiFact.com found "no evidence to indicate that Obama 'openly supported' Odinga" during his 2006 trip to Kenya in fact, Obama made a point of saying that he tried to “meet with all parties” during his visit, including Odinga’s opponent and the sitting president, Mwai Kibaki. While Odinga clearly wanted to associate himself with Obama by attending some of Obama’s events during the visit, PolitiFact wrote, Obama “remained neutral in Kenyan politics, and did not support Odinga during his trip.”
WND is not the only right-wing outlet to take Gbagbo's side. Pat Robertson and his CBN operation has been even more solicitous of Gbagbo. As Media Matters detailed, CBN did a fawning interview with Gbagbo, and Robertson said on "The 700 Club" of him: "He’s a Christian, he’s a nice person, and he’s run a fairly clean operation in the Ivory Coast.”
Turns out there may have been a reason for that sucking up: As Media Matters also noted, Gbagbo's wife paid a visit to CBN headquarters where, according to a CBN Africa article, she “wanted CBN to provide Christian TV programs for her country” and “would guarantee that the programs would air on national television.”
Fox News' Glenn Beck used similar reasoning to take Gbagbo's side as "the current Christian president" who is fighting off his Muslim opponent; Beck's main purpose was to attack Obama as anti-American and pro-terrorist for his support of near-unanimous international opinion that Ouattara won the election.
Robertson has the excuse of being a pastor who has business interests with the leader he's defending to take such a simplistic view of the Ivory Coast situation. Same with Beck, who hates Obama more than he cares about the facts.
So what's Joseph Farah's excuse? His $99-a-year G2 Bulletin purports to "bring you credible insights into geo-political and geo-strategic developments" taken from his "vast network of international intelligence sources." The most "credible insight" Farah's "vast network" could come up with was Christians good, Muslims bad? Robertson and Beck are giving that very same "insight" away for free -- which is pretty much what it's worth.
When one adds the falsehood about Obama and Odinga to this "insight," one must wonder just how credible Farah's G2 Bulletin. The answer appears to be: the same abysmal level as Farah's main website, WorldNetDaily.