The Anonymity Sluts At WorldNetDaily
WND will give it up (anonymity, that is) to just about anybody -- as long as they're forwarding WND's far-right anti-Obama agenda.
By Terry Krepel
For a journalist, granting anonymity to a source is somewhat akin to giving up one's virginity -- it should be done with no small amount of forethought, and it should be worth it.
Conversely, letting too many sources hide behind anonymity is a bit like sleeping around -- it makes you look sleazy, and it doesn't engender trust.
By those standards, WorldNetDaily is the journalistic equivalent of a crack-addicted prostitute. It seems to put out -- er, give anonymity to just about anyone, and most of the time it can't be bothered to explain why it's letting sources hide.
The fact that WND editor Joseph Farah once dismissed claims made by anonymous sources as "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better" hasn't kept him from forbidding the practice in his own news organization. Quite the opposite -- more often than not, it seems, WND articles are based around anonymous claim.
Let's look at the many ways WND hands out anonymity like so many cheap condoms.
WND "seni0r reporter" Aaron Klein is the longstanding king of the anonymous source at WND, particularly when he can use them to attack President Obama. Before the November presidential election, Klein attempted a desperate smear by quoting a "senior Palestinian Authority negotiator" claiming that "if President Obama secures another four years in office, he will use his second term to target Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the main party to blame for the collapse of Mideast peace talks."
For proof of how prolific he is in hiding behind anonymity, here's a sampling of one two-week period late last year in which Klein seemed to be citing nothing by anonymous sources:
Rarely does Klein explain why he's so promiscuous with his anonymity-granting. Nevertheless, he kept up the pace in 2013.
Jan. 1: Klein cited "knowledgeable PA sources" to claim that "Leftist U.S. Jewish groups working with the far-left Israeli Meretz party were behind a recommendation that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas publicly threaten to dismantle the PA."
Jan. 27: Klein cites a "top Palestinian Authority negotiator" to claim that "President Barack Obama has already secretly pledged to the Palestinians he will press Israel into a new round of so-called land-for-peace negotiations."
Feb. 15: Klein claims "WND has reconfirmed with multiple knowledgeable Middle Eastern security sources that the U.S. special mission in Benghazi was used to coordinate Arab arms shipments and other aid to the so-called rebels fighting in Libya and later in Syria."
March 20: Klein cites a "Palestinian official, who asked that his name be withheld" to claim that "In a conversation with the Palestinian Authority, a White House official apparently compared Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, to the gravesite of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat," claiming that "just as Obama won’t address the Knesset, which is a symbol of Israeli nationalism, so too he won’t visit the grave, a symbol of Palestinian nationalism."
March 21: Klein claims a "top PA negotiator" said that "Palestinian Authority leaders are disappointed with what they heard in a private meeting" with Obama.
March 24: Klein cites "a top Syrian official" and "informed Mideast security officials" to claim that "It was the Syrian opposition and not the Syrian government behind the firing Sunday and yesterday at the Israeli border" and that "it appears the rebels are attempting to create a humanitarian crisis to precipitate the deployment of NATO to fight the Assad regime."
Klein's citing of Palestinian Authority sources is highly suspect. Given that Klein regularly attacks the PA -- it's sarcastically called a "peace partner" when Klein is outlining the PA's alleged links to terrorism -- it's unlikely that he has any genuine contacts within the PA, unless he's still counting on his ideological enemies to be so stupid as to not realize he's using their words against them.
Given that WND once featured an unnamed "former White House veterinarian" asserting that the Clintons didn't treat their pets very well while in office, it has no problem letting "news" sources hide behind anonymity, especially if they're forwarding WND's far-right, anti-Obama agenda.
WND most notoriously used this prior to the 2012 election when Jerome Corsi jumped into the cesspool and published a series of articles repeating rumors that Obama is secretly gay -- not a single one of which was substantiated by an on-the-record source.
But he's not the only one. A Feb. 28 article by Bob Unruh begins with fearmongering:
Amidst all the lobbying that will go on in Washington over the next few months over amnesty for illegal aliens, one issue probably won’t get much attention.
But Unruh's article began with this editor's note: "WND has changed the names of the mother and son in this story at their request."
That means there's no way to independently verify the story Unruh tells, since Unruh leaves out many details of the incident with the apparent purpose of making it untraceable.
(Adding to the article's dishonesty, meanwhile, was the fact that it was accompanied by a photo of a crashed vehicle that has no apparent link to the incident detailed in the article and, in fact, was purloined from the Hit and Run Unit of the Nashville, Tenn., Police Department.)
WND writer "Reza Kahlili" -- the pseudonymous,self-proclaimed ex-CIA spy known for making fantastical claims that he has been likened to discredited Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi -- pretty much uses nothing but anonymous, unverifiable sources, which are made even more unverifiable by claiming that they are in Iran. But even then, it's easy to see through the ruse.
That's a particularly suspect claim because naturally occurring smallpox was eradicated in 1977 and the only place the disease exists is in two highly secure laboratories in the U.S. and Russia.
Kahlili returned with a Jan. 7 article claiming that "Iran successfully has built a nuclear bomb with the help of Russia and North Korea and has enough weapons-grade uranium and plutonium for more, according to a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit." Kahlili identified this source as the same one who claimed that Iran was altering smallpox.
Kahlili started going meta after that, claiming that after he reported what he claimed was the location of Iran's "secret nuclear facility," Iranian officials held a meeting about it. The source for that claim, of course, was anonymous.
That self-referencing culminated in a March 25 article by Kahlili about how an Iranian news agency is accusing WND of waging "psychological warfare" against Iran. Kahlili quoted the news agency describing WND as “biggest cyber news outlet in the United States,” which if true shows how woefully misinformed Iranian intelligence is. After all, WND has so discredited itself that nobody believes what it reports, and it can take comfort in the thought that if even if Kahlili is telling the truth, nobody will believe him, a reporter hiding behind both a fake name and anonymous sources.
Even WND's columnists are getting in on the anonymity game. After claiming "the testimony of proven, reliable sources" back up his attacks on President Obama, Erik Rush wrote in a Jan. 16 column of one unnamed source who isn't proven or reliable:
Let me share that which was related to me via one international business interest with strong ties to the nations highlighted in the following scenario:
According to this source, President Obama had a mid-level U.S. official meet with a Chinese officer in 2011 to find out if the Chinese were open to a land and resource swap for debt forgiveness. The upshot of this is that the Chinese are now engaging in experimental “farming” and “scientific” studies in several locations in the U.S. (in various states). The personnel involved are all Chinese military, and the plan is to use these as the base for the expansion of “land settlements” in payment of the U.S. debt to China.
Rush went on to argue that impeachment is not enough for Obama, despite the unsubstantiated nature of the allegations he makes.