WND Becomes Steve Stockman's PR Shop
Garth Kant leads WorldNetDaily in serving as the (presumably unpaid) press agent for the Texas congressman's run for a Senate seat.
By Terry Krepel
Garth Kant was quite excited with his big scoop in a Dec. 9 WorldNetDaily article:
One of Washington’s most reliably conservative lawmakers is breaking the news that he will challenge a mainstay of the Republican establishment all because the incumbent GOP senator “undermined Sen. Ted Cruz’s fight to stop Obamacare.”
How did Kant score such a scoop? It seems to be a quid pro quo for an earlier collaboration.
Last October, WND touted how Stockman distributed to other members of the House copies of Aaron Klein's slow-selling anti-Obama book "Impeachable Offenses," which WND donated to the cause. It benefited both sides -- Stockman got to promote his anti-Obama agenda for free, and WND had 435 fewer copies of Klein's book cluttering its warehouse.
And Kant did just that, touting how "Stockman had already picked up some major support" just an hour after the announcement and promoted his "reputation as one of Capitol Hill’s most popular members on Twitter, using his pithy but pungent tweets to deliver scathing indictments of Democrats, often with a characteristically wry sense of humor."
Kant conveniently failed to tell his readers not only about WND cozy relationship with Stockman, but also about ethical problems in the form of Stockman's failure to fully disclose his business affiliations on his congressional financial disclosure forms, which include that he has apparently paid himself $350,000 from a company he formed.
That's the kind of selective reporting Stockman can count on from WND. And it's likely why Stockman graced Kant with his big political scoop.
Indeed, Kant and WND have essentially signed on to do opposition research for Stockman. A Jan. 5 article by John Griffing did Stockman's work by trying to claim that Cornyn isn't a real conservative because he purportedly is "not standing up to President Obama’s agenda to move the nation toward more socialism." Griffing declared that "Stockman’s assessment that Cornyn hasn’t lived up to his billing as a conservative is correct."
Last time we checked, such blatant shilling for a candidate does not qualify as journalism under any reasonable standard.
Further, as conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin pointed out, the fact remains that Cornyn "is no squishy RINO" and is "the second most conservative senator, according to one ranking."
When Stockman went off the grid for much of January -- unusual behavior not just for a sitting congressman but for a political candidate three months ahead of an election -- WND's Kant came to his defense in a Jan. 27 article, parroting Stockman's response that he was on a 10-day official congressional delegation with State Department officials, and that "the media had declared him missing, he said reporters knew of his trip but claimed otherwise."
But as Breitbart noted, that explanation covered only the final seven days of his absence; he had not voted in the House since Jan. 9, more than a week before he left. Kant didn't address that -- he's too busy serving as Stockman's unpaid (as far as we know) press officer.
Kant served that role perfectly in a Jan. 31 WND article to promoting Stockman's filing of a libel lawsuit against a PAC supporting Cornyn that was "provided exclusively to WND." It reads like a Stockman press release, and Kant doesn't bother to obtain any response from the Cornyn camp. He writes:
According to Stockman, the Cornyn PAC operating under the name “Texans for a Conservative Majority” claims Stockman had been “jailed more than once,” was “charged with a felony” and “violated federal ethics laws.”
Since Kant is in stenographer mode, he won't tell you that the basic facts of those allegations are actually true.
A 1996 Texas Monthly profile of Stockman points out that "Stockman spent more than one weekend in jail for traffic violations, and once, after a girlfriend hid Valium in his underwear before he was incarcerated, he was charged with possession of a controlled substance, a felony that was later dropped." The Cornyn PAC's depiction may be devoid of context, but Stockman did, in fact, spend time in jail and was charged with a felony.
Steve Stockman's mugshot from his 1977 arrest for felony drug possession. (Via Texas Tribune)
The claim that Stockman "violated federal ethics laws" is a logical conclusion, but it's not inaccurate. The Houston Chronicle reported that Stockman "has failed repeatedly to disclose business affiliations that stretch from Texas to the British Virgin Islands on his Congressional financial disclosure forms" and "Stockman, since his bankruptcy in 2002, created a number of businesses, some of which remain active but were not reported on Stockman’s financial disclosure form as required by federal law."
Kant didn't supply a copy of Stockman's libel suit, nor did he detail Stockman's evidence that the claims are false -- he merely regurgitated Stockman's assertions that they are. But that's the kind of thing that happens when you're the PR flack for a politician: He won't tell you that the politician is lying.
Since that article appeared, even more evidence has surfaced to discredit Stockman. The Texas Tribune uncovered Stockman's mugshot from his 1977 arrest for felony possession of diazepam (Valium). Stockman ultimately pleaded no contest to “use of a controlled substance” a misdemeanor with the understanding that it would be dropped after a short period of “unofficial” probation.
Despite that, a Feb. 13 article by Kant again recounted Stockman's libel lawsuit without mentioning that it's been discredited. Kant was too busy performing even more Stockman-fluffing:
And, he added, they didn’t like that he killed the amnesty bill (Sen. Majority Leader) Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had sent to the House.
In fact, as the Texas Tribune noted, that's not true -- Stockman could not have issued a blue slip on the bill because it was never introduced in the House.
But Kant fails to mention a few things about the poll: that it found 29 percent had not made up their mind, and that it didn't include the six other candidates who are also running in the Republican primary for Cornyn's seat.
Further, as Slate's Dave Weigel noted, the poll is an outlier: "Nobody else looking at the race sees Cornyn sinking like this." It's highly unlikely that Stockman could be doing as well as that poll claims to be given that, as Human Events pointed out, he's doing basically no campaigning.
Since Kant is in fanboy mode, the article is filled with quotes from Stockman and attacks on Cornyn, and no attempt is made to contact Cornyn's campaign for a response. Instead, we get slobbering statements about how "Stockman has become the darling of so many conservatives and the bogeyman to such liberal outfits as MSNBC."
But Stockman is not the only right-wing congressman for which Kant is willing to serve as a public-relations agent. A Feb. 20 WND article by Kant is full of fawning over Sen. Mike Lee, starting with a headline calling Lee a "1-man think tank" and touting him as "the behind-the-scenes architect who is particularly active away from the cameras, trying to spark a Reagan revolution for our times and a flowering of new creative energy in the GOP."
Needless to say, Kant makes no effort to challenge anything Lee says, nor does he even bother to talk to anyone else about Lee.
Kant better hurry and do another puff piece on Steve Stockman, lest he start to feel a little jealous of having to share Kant's adulation or fear losing his dedicated free media before the March 4 election.
WND loves to blather about how it has "no sacred cows." That has always been a baldfaced lie. And it's clear that Stockman is a very sacred cow for WND -- so much so that Stockman really ought to be paying WND for all the fawning PR it does for him.