WorldNetDaily Keeps The Lie Alive
WND made up a quote from Houston's mayor that the city's new non-discrimination ordinance was all about her. It's so invested in the blatant falsehood that even Joseph Farah is repeating it.
By Terry Krepel
That's exactly what WND has been doing regarding Houston Mayor Annise Parker. WND -- already a poster boy for shoddy journalism -- has repeatedly invented a quote by her to attack a newly passed non-discrimination ordinance.
In writing about the passage of the ordinance in a June 28 WND article, John Griffing claimed that Parker "acknowledged it’s 'all about me.'" Griffing offered no source for the quote. Nevertheless, the quote was repeated by WND reporter Bob Unruh in articles on Aug. 8, Aug. 27 and Oct. 13.
There's just one problem: At no point has Parker ever been quoted as saying that.
The falsehood appears to stem from a May 20 article at right-wing website Breitbart, which uncritically quoted two Houston ministers claiming that Parker "said it's all about Me," with one claiming "she said three times that it’s all about Me." But they offer no proof either.
The closest Parker has been quoted by credible sources to making such a statement was reported by the Houston Business Journal in May:
"This is personal. It is not academic. It is my life that is being discussed," said Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. city. "It applies to the range of protected groups ... but the debate is about me. It is about two gay men at this table. It is very intensely personal."
That acknowledgment that the ordinance has a direct effect on her is a far cry from the quote invented by WND, which seeks to portray Parker as a narcissist. To extrapolate a direct quote from hostile sources purporting to paraphrase a political enemy is first-rate journalistic malpractice.
Perhaps feeling a slight pang of guilt at repeating a blatant lie, Unruh started to slightly adjust his statement about Parker to make it slightly less of a falsehood. On Oct. 15, Unruh stated that "Parker, a lesbian, has admitted the anti-discrimination ordinance is 'all about' her and her lifestyle." But the quote is still wrong -- she never said "all about."
On Oct. 16, Unruh dropped the fraudulent quotes altogether, claiming that Parker "has said the issue is all about her own lifestyle choice." But that's a lie too -- Unruh offers no evidence that Parker has ever referred to homosexuality as a "lifestyle choice."
Unruh reverted to his previous lie in an Oct. 18 article though without the quote marks, claiming Parker "admitted" the ordinance "was all about her."
After writing several subsequent articles in which he did not reference the claim, Unruh went back to the phraseology in an Oct. 29 article, claiming that Parker "once admitted the ordinance was all about her." Needless to say, Unruh didn't identify when, exactly, Parker supposedly made this admission.
Unruh took a different tack in another Oct. 29 article by quoting a statement by Houston ministers attacking the ordinance purporting to quote her:
“Our attorney Andy Taylor has called this a ‘head fake’ and we concur,” the pastors’ statement continued. “She [Parker] has now reportedly declared that she will not allow the people to ‘vote on my civil rights.’ Added to her remarks that the LGBT Equal Rights Ordinance is ‘about my life,’ it is clear that her rights and her agenda are all that is relevant to her, not those of the citizens nor the rule of law.”
But that's a lie too -- the words "about my life" never appear in a quote, and in their original press release, the ministers never explain where the quote came from.
Notice that in all of these articles, Unruh never deigns to quote Parker directly -- he's either paraphrasing other attacks or quoting others who have gotten it wrong. Nor has Unruh bothered to go back and correct his own false reporting. Indeed, Unruh's reporting on the the Houston non-discrimination ordinance features his usual biased hallmark of quoting only opponents of the ordinance and portraying it as being only about "allow[ing] 'gender-confused' people to use their choice of restrooms."
You'd think that a real reporter would care enough about the truth to go directly to the source. But we know all too well, Unruh is a partisan hack, not a real reporter.
Should Farah fire Unruh?
This would all be just another exercise in the usual abysmal state of what passes for journalism at WND if its editor didn't portray himself and his website as having higher standards than it actually does.
WND Editor and CEO Joseph Farah said, “The Politico reporters should be fired immediately for so blatantly misrepresenting Michele Bachmann’s comments especially given the threats from ISIS.”
If that's the standard that must be followed, then Farah must immediately fire Unruh for his own blatant misrepresentation of the words of another. This is Farah's test: Will he apply the standard he wants Politico to follow to his own reporter?
Apparently not, because Farah thinks it's true as well. In an attempt to hyperbolically claim that a discovery request by the city in a lawsuit filed by right-wing activists over that non-discrimination law somehow means Christianity is being criminalized, Farah wrote in his Oct. 26 column:
Today, Kahnh [Hyunh] is a U.S. citizen and Christian pastor whose sermons and communications about homosexuality are being subpoenaed by the lesbian mayor of Houston under the city’s “non-discrimination” law Mayor Annise Parker says was all about her.
The fact that the leader of a so-called news organization would actively promote a lie about a political enemy is just one more reason nobody believes WND. But then, Farah hasn't exactly retracted and corrected WND's fact-free birther obsession, has he?