How Obama-Hate Destroyed WorldNetDaily
WND spewed a steady stream of anti-Obama smears and lies for more than four years -- and Obama still won re-election. Instead, WND's war against Obama obliterated any journalistic credibility it had.
By Terry Krepel
For the past four-plus years, WorldNetDaily has dedicated itself to the personal destruction of Barack Obama.
It failed to stop Obama's election in 2008, and Obama's re-election last week demonstrates that the ensuing steady stream of Obama-hate at WND during Obama's first term have also utterly failed.
The cost of WND's hate? The utter obliteration of what little credibility WND had.
Let's look back at WND's increasingly pathological Obama obsession over the years.
WND's war on Obama began in early 2008 when -- fresh off an out-of-court settlement of a libel and defamation against it by a Tennessee businessman, in which WND admitted that it defamed him and that "no witness verifies the truth of what the witnesses are reported by authors to have stated" at WND -- it embraced never-proven claims by Larry Sinclair of drugs and sex with Obama. WND made no apparent effort to investigate or substantiate those claims; rather, WND editor Joseph Farah declared that Sinclair must be credible because Sinclair "makes his charges public, agrees to a polygraph and files a lawsuit reiterating the charges and accusing the candidate of harassment and intimidation."
Then, WND's Aaron Klein started hurling guilt-by-association attacks and half-baked allegations at Obama. When one writer called him out on his shoddy reporting, Klein ranted that the writer was "hysterical" and an "Obama-hack" who is "a symptom of a malignant messianic infatuation with Obama evidenced by the drive-by media for whom Obama can do no wrong." Thus, Klein admitted his anti-Obama bias, which only got worse in the ensuing years -- starting just a couple months later, when he conducted an interview with "Hamas' top political adviser in the Gaza Strip" who appeared to offer an endorsement of Obama. Left unexplained was why someone with Hamas would not just chat up a right-wing activist who supports Israel and opposes Hamas (to the point that Klein has endorsed the views of virulently anti-Arab Israeli activist Meir Kahane, whose Kach movement was banned in Israel for its extremism and violence), but do so in a way that would actually further Klein's political agenda.
The Obama-bashing lies were already starting to pile up at WND by mid-2008, when it latched onto the issue that would define WND for the next four years: Obama's birth certificate. WND actually tried to dismiss it at first, even reporting in August 2008 that "A separate WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic." Several months later, after WND fully went birther and that statement became inconvenient, an "editor's note" was added to the article insisting that the experts "could not 'prove' the document’s authenticity."
As the November 2008 election neared, WND ramped up its anti-Obama activity:
Obama won the election, even as WND ramped up its birtherism and asked its readers to pay WND to send a letter to the Supreme Court on their behalf to review a case "challenging the eligibility of Barack Obama under Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution, which stipulates the position can only be filled by 'a natural born citizen.'"
Speaking of birther stuff, WND -- running the same playbook Farah used in peddling Vince Foster conspiracies to attack President Clinton in the 1990s -- quickly fell in love with birther attorney Orly Taitz even as it mostly ignored her shoddy lawyering. While it continued to demand documents from Obama, WND itself wasn't terribly interested in transparency, refusing to divulge who was paying for its "Where's the Birth Certificate?" campaign or even how it counted the number of signatures on its birther petition. WND also issued a birther video that was less about "eligibility "and more about peddling discredited conspiracy theories and apparently violating copyright law.
In a sign of just how eagerly it would destroy its own credibility in order to attack Obama, WND jumped all over a purported "Kenyan birth certificate" for Obama obtained by Taitz, promoting its existence without even bothering to verify its authenticity first, yet declaring that "WND was able to obtain other birth certificates from Kenya for purposes of comparison, and the form of the documents appear to be identical." But a few days later, WND declared the certificate to be "probably not authentic," adding the contradictory statement, "WND obtained several samples of Kenyan birth certificates in use around Aug. 4, 1961, the date of Obama's birth, showing differences from the Taitz document."
While contributors like Ellis Washington, Jackie Mason and Erik Rush were lost in their Obama derangement, and Brad O'Leary was buying skewed polls to push an anti-Obama agenda, Aaron Klein was doing some good old-fashioned red-baiting, leading WND in trying Obama to communism and socialism in increasingly desperate and tangental ways, while also increasingly relying on anonymous sources to push his anti-Obama agenda -- heck, he even granted anonymity to a terrorist.
Oh, and WND also likened Obama to the Antichrist.
WND went into revisionism mode on birtherism, with Joseph Farah insisting (against all evidence) that he was "not making accusations about where Obama was born" and that he has not questioned Obama's citizenship, only his "eligibility" to be president.
As WND was charging its readers increasingly hefty fees to send letters on their behalf to politicians regarding various Obama-bashing issues, its ethically challenged pollster, Fritz Wenzel, was asking skewed questions designed to give WND the anti-Obama poll results it desires.
Aaron Klein published an Obama-bashing book, "The Manchurian President," that was filled with false and discredited claims, guilt by association, and birtherism.
WND also published a book with the organization Farah founded and used to lead, the Western Journalism Center, detailing a laughably error-filled "Case For Impeachment" against Obama. Speaking of error-filled, WND executive news editor Joe Kovacs published an article that falsely claimed Elena Kagan, then-nominee for the Supreme Court, had been involved with "at least nine" cases regarding "eligibility" then before the Supreme Court while serving as Obama's solicitor general; in fact, none of those docket items has anything to do with "eligibility."
Apparently deciding that the birther stuff was being ignored, WND was trying to create its own birther news -- touting an affidavit by Tim Adams claiming that that is nothing but hearsay and was, as Adams himself later disclosed, proffered by WND itself. WND was also feeding birther conspiracies behind the scenes to Donald Trump, who then spouted them on Fox News.
Obama eventually responded to Trump by releasing the long-form version of the birth certificate that WND had been demanding for lo these many years -- which had the effect of undercutting the impact (and revenue potential) of Corsi's soon-to-be-published (by WND) book "Where's The Birth Certificate?"
WND could have simply declared victory; instead, Farah, Corsi and the crew essentially bet their entire company by trying to prove the certificate was fake.
WND had various self-proclaimed "experts" tear about the PDF file of the certificate to claim anomalous hidden "layers" that supposedly prove that the certificate was a digital creation and did not exist in real life, and other pieces of dubious evidence that could be taken seriously only by obsessed birthers.
WND's Obama-hate went to unprecedented levels as the website motivated against Obama's re-election, essentially turning itself into a for-profit super PAC. The seeds for this were planted in 2011, when Jerome Corsi gave a birther presentation to a tea-party group in Arizona that then petitioned Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio to do an investigation. Arpaio agreed, and WND inserted itself in the process by publishing fawning articles about him and even erasing him from a story about a lawsuit against his sheriff's department.
When Arpaio's "cold case posse" gave its initial report, it was clear just how deeply WND inserted itself in the process -- Corsi was, for all practical purposes, a member of the posse. That all but guaranteed that the investigation would not be thorough or balanced. And if that wasn't enough, Corsi and Mike Zullo, the head of the posse investigation, immediately published an e-book of the findings -- cribbing liberally from Corsi's book, thus confirming the bias of the "investigation" -- and kept the proceeds, even though the posse is a registered nonprofit organization.
Out in the real world, though, the birther conspiracies were consistently discredited -- a development WND chose to hide from its readers.
The anti-Obama zombie lies continued apace at WND, as did new lies peddled by Joseph Farah and all-out Obama derangement by columnists Larry Klayman and Mychal Massie. Aaron Klein published another Obama-bashing book based on his usual methods of speculation and guilt-by-association.
As the election neared, Corsi gleefully descended into the gutter, publishing never-verified rumors of Obama's purported homosexuality and touting the supposed credibility of Larry Sinclair, whose accusations even WND ultimately backed off of in 2008 after it was revealed that he was a convicted felon.
WND also embraced anti-Obama filmmaker Joel Gilbert, who promoted the idea that activist Frank Marshall Davis was Obama's real father, and that Obama's mother posed nude for him. When Gilbert's wild claims were discredited, WND not only ignored it, Corsi doubled down by publishing even more outlandish claims from Gilbert. They were so wrong that even birthers were compelled to prove Gilbert wrong.
WND's desperate Hail-Mary stunt in the final week of the election was to have Aaron Klein try to donate to Obama's campaign under the name of Osama bin Laden. Given that Klein did so by using "a Pakistani Internet Protocol and proxy server, a disposable credit card and a fake address," he may very well have committed identity fraud in doing so -- which, last we checked, was a crime.
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Even after this four-year torrent of hatred, Obama still rather handily won re-election. That means WND failed in its objective.
This Javert-esque pursuit of Obama had a side effect: It was so desperate to publish every anti-Obama smear, rumor and outright lie that WND has become a joke, a sensationalist website on par with the Weekly World News for fabulism. Even when WND may actually be on the right track in reporting something, its track record means that nothing it reports can be taken at face value and must be cross-checked with more reputable news organizations.
Will WND's failure and self-destruction prompt Joseph Farah and crew to do some soul-searching? Unlikely -- Farah is trying to seize on the post-election atmosphere to shake down his readers for more cash.
In his Nov. 9 column, Farah declared he had an "answer" to Obama's re-election -- the revival of his "No More Red Ink" campaign, in which you pay WND $29.99 (Farah benignly describes that "investing less than $30") for the privilege of "sending individually addressed letters in red ink to all 241 Republicans in the House by guaranteed Fed Ex delivery" telling them not to raise the federal debt limit. Farah does his best to sell it: "Let’s just say it’s a bargain at that price. Try to imagine what it would cost you to send 240 individual letters to Republican House members if you did it yourself. We do all the work and guarantee the delivery."
Farah provides no evidence that spamming members of Congress with letters accomplishes anything.
In his Nov. 11 column, Farah made dubious accusations that the election was stolen, citing as one piece of evidence Aaron Klein's identity fraud stunt. But this too turns into a fund-raising pitch, declaring that "I’ve filed a Federal Elections Commission complaint at considerable cost" that he wants his readers to defray. The column includes numerous links to a page at the WND store for the "2012 Voter Fraud Challenge," which helpfully suggests that it will accept donations of up to $5,000.
One has to wonder if Farah is simply ginning up anti-Obama hatred just so he can try to make a buck on it. Given the nonexistent journalistic reputation of his website these days, hate is pretty much all he has left.