Another Month, Another WND Funding Crisis
Joseph Farah spent his August begging for money "to make ends meet" at WorldNetDaily. He still won't talk about the fake, conspiracy-laden WND content that helped bring him and his website to that point.
By Terry Krepel
It's been a rough year for WorldNetDaily, having to raise money from readers to stay alive even though it has yet to demonstrate why it deserves to live. And As August rolled around, it brought another major funding crisis -- the second of the year -- with an added dose of conspiracy-mongering.
WND editor Joseph Farah began his July 29 column by declaring: "You’ve been reading the headlines about the war Google, Facebook and the rest of the Internet Cartel have been waging against conservatives, Christians and independent media like WND. Of course, I have been telling you about this since January of this year candidly, openly, no holds barred, no sugar-coating."
In fact, Farah has been decidedly less than candid in his previous begging-for-money efforts, being obtuse about exactly what WND's financial situation is and exactly where all the money readers are giving him is going. Surprisingly, though, Farah is being a little more candid, giving us actual numbers at last to illustrate WND's financial situation:
We’ve seen our revenues plunge from $10 million in 2016, to $6 million in 2017, to what is expected to be about $4 million in 2018, if we’re lucky. This is a direct result of years of discrimination, bias, hatred, mischaracterizations, skewed algorithms designed to favor leftist, anti-God media and worldviews, which all of these corporations share.
Unfortunately, Farah is continuing to ignore the fact that WND's own highly biased and too-frequently-false content is a key factor in WND's continuing downward spiral (unless "bias" and "hatred" is referring to WND's own editorial policies). His insistence on blaming others for his situation -- plus apparently taking his eye off WND's financial ball to write a book, which required its own crowdfunding effort to publish in the quantities Farah demanded -- isn't really distracting from the elephant in the room.
Farah's deflection continued later in his column, whining that "Those who stand up for God, righteousness, basic morality, liberty, family, free enterprise, smaller government, borders, national sovereignty, the Constitution and the will of the people are called 'haters,' 'Nazis,' 'fascists,' 'racists' and worse" -- conveniently ignoring that his website called President Obama many of those same things (and worse).
After once again making the bogus declaration that WND is part of the "independent media" -- a term he had creatively defined the month before as meaning "created specifically for the digital online age," "defined by independent thinking" and "skeptical of Big Government and other big institutions" in order to fit his vision of what WND is in his mind, albeit not in reality -- Farah got down to the nitty-gritty: WND needed "a minimum of $100,000 in August to make ends meet," and everyone should Farah's aforementioned book, which apparently "is an important part of WND’s recovery, rebirth and revitalization plan for later this year."
Perhaps if Farah was even more candid and described that "recovery, rebirth and revitalization plan," WND might raise even more money.
But apparently he's holding that back. Farah's column the next day once again touted "the future revitalization of WND later this year, once again framed the failure of WND as the death of the First Amendment, once again failed to discuss WND's problematic content as a factor in its death spiral and even more laughably portrayed WND as among "the few remaining journalistic voices of fairness and balance." Really, Joe: has WND ever been the first media outlet anyone thinks of when the words "fairness" and "balance" come to mind?
Farah did offer a little more information about how its crowdfunding effort went earlier this year, saying it raised "about $300,000" in the first three months of 2018 -- but he didn't itemize where that money went.
Farah's July 31 column was more of the same deflection and name-calling: conspiratorial ranting about the "Internet Cartel" conspiring against WND and the "the fascistic thuggery of the left-wing zealots in control of communications," calling the Southern Poverty Law Center "terrorists" for documenting right-wing hate (including at WND), and ignoring the fact that conspiratorial ranting helped get WND to this point.
In his Aug. 1 column, Farah complained about WND's "revenues collapsing thanks to the Internet Cartel’s vicious anti-Donald Trump predilection," then mixed a little more candidness with even more conspiracy-mongering:
We’re operating on the edge. But we weren’t through 2016. Our revenues were quite predictable from 2010 through 2016 pretty much always around $10 million or greater. But no one got rich at WND not me, not other shareholders, not other employees. Instead, if we grew, we plowed those resources into more content, more reporting, better reporting, better books and more of them movies too.
Farah still insists on refusing to recognize the base truth: If the "Internet Cartel" is punishing WND for anything, it's for publishing fake news. And he doesn't even seem to believe that purveyors of fake news should be punished.
Most of Farah's columns in August involved some degree of ranting against the "Internet Cartel" he insists is running him out of business and begging for cash from his readers. (He spent zero time explaining why WND's shoddy, fake news-laden editorial practices are in no small part to blame for that.) In the process, he turned even more conspiracy-obsessed than usual.
WND seized upon a "confidential, 49-page memo for defeating Trump by working with the major social-media platforms to eliminate 'right wing propaganda and fake news'" to blame for WND's woes. Art Moore, one of the few remaining WND employees, declared that "The recent wave of censorship of conservative voices on the internet by tech giants Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Apple mirrors a plan concocted by a coalition of George Soros-funded, progressive groups to take back power in Washington from President Trump’s administration."
Of course, Moore never makes any explicit, credible connection between the memo and the current practices of Google and Facebook to fight fake news. The only "George Soros-funded, progressive group" he names as behind this memo is Media Matters; president Angelo Carusone has stated that his organization received only one donation from Soros, in 2010, while others claim other donations exist. (Disclosure: We used to work for Media Matters.)
Naturally, Farah ran with it in his Aug. 21 column:
You can’t make this stuff up.
Of course, Farah has been making stuff up -- in the form of the copious amount of fake news WND has published in the past couple years alone -- and that is one big reason why WND is in its current, ongoing fix.
Farah continued his conspiratorial ranting in his Aug. 23 column, seizing on social media outlets banning Alex Jones for his inflammatory, even more fake news-laden conspiracy rants: "You think it ends with Alex Jones being muzzled? Forget about it! This insidious cabal is already coming after WND, Dennis Prager, Breitbart.com and individual voices you’ve heard about like Diamond and Silk, for crying out loud. We have Democrat members of Congress trying to ban the sale of certain books at Amazon.com. Where does this insanity stop?"
When Farah admits to the error of his ways and WND stops publishing fake news, maybe?
Farah, however, sounded a little desperate in his plea for to raise $100,000 in August: "We’re hunkered down and many are working without pay. I’ve subsidized WND with all the money I have and there is no more left. We thank you for getting us nearly 50 percent of the way to our total so far but it’s not what we had hoped for with just a few days remaining. Please pray for us and shower us with your most generous donations to keep us alive and fighting for truth."
Farah was even more desperate, and a little jealous, the next day:
Traffic is down, revenues have plummeted 75 percent since January 2017. We’re hanging on by a thread.
No, not really, Joe. Strzok is getting funding because he is being correctly seen as the victim of a political attack led by the president of the United States that cost him his job and career because Trump needs a scapegoat to distract from his own behavior. WND is not getting support -- Farah conveniently omitted that it has already taken in more than $300,000 in donations so far this year -- because Farah and Co. cling to conspiracy theories instead of fixing what's wrong with their editorial product. Also, there's the possibility that Farah is lowballing numbers in an apparent effort to create some urgency for people to donate, so things might not actually be as dire as he's portraying.
Kupelian also begs
Farah wasn't the only WND bigwig begging for money last month. Managing editor David Kupelian took a shot at in in an Aug. 9 column by starting out being slightly conciliatory and suggesting that he knows WND's editorial product may have some issues:
Starting back in January, WND was almost alone in warning America that Google, Facebook, YouTube and the other tech giants have been trying to shut down independent news and opinion voices like ours.
We suspect Clark Jones was a little more than "offended" when WND lied about him. We also suspect President Obama was a little more than "offended" when WND spent eight years spreading fake news about his birth certificate. Given those two examples alone, "imperfect" rather understates the case. And we weren't bothered by WND's incessant begging for money as much as the fact that one appeal was blatantly plagiarized from the British newspaper the Guardian -- ironically, a liberal-leaning paper.
And blaming others for WND's problems -- which is exactly what Farah and Kupelian are doing, by the way -- isn't "sour grapes," it's denial of reality. Kupelian never mentioned that projection or how WND has been "imperfect" again in his column; instead, he echoed Farah in railing against the "Digital Cartel" of Google and Facebook, blaming them for running WND out of business. As an added bonus, Kupelian asserted that the Southern Poverty Law Center called WND a "hate group" -- which it hasn't, according to a Wikipedia list of those groups and the SPLC's own writeup on WND.
Despite the proclaimed urgent need for money now, Kupelian is also taking refuge in the idea that WND will be vindicated somewhere down the road, touting "revered economist and technology futurist" George Gilder's claim that Google "will one day come to an end" due to "a new age of decentralization, restored privacy and individual empowerment."
Kupelian then takes a stab at an emotional appeal for cash:
Only one thing is immune to Google/Facebook’s censoring, stifling, starving and shadow-banning independent, pro-American news and analysis like WND. Only one thing can counteract Amazon sucking up all the ecommerce and crippling everyone else.
But, like Farah, Kupelian did nothing to demonstrate why -- given that fake news and conspiracies have driven WND to this sorry state and its complete unwillingness to change that failed editorial model -- WND deserves to live.
Back to the bitcoin giveaway
As August turned to September, WND remained online. But Farah never announced that the amount of money he said he needed was raised, and while he continued to make appeals for cash, there was no more mention of goals.
Farah did, however, revive the cybercurrency giveaway, in the form of something called AML Bitcoin -- not actual bitcoin but a newly created variant -- WND had begun earlier this year but had not promoted for months.
Farah went further into huckster mode in his Sept. 19 column, explaining that people who took advantage of WND's earlier offer finally got their AML Bitcoin and declaring, "It’s possible that your contribution to WND will in the future pay for itself and then some. In fact, I’m counting on it! ... I see the day, in the not-too-distant future, when that little premium token will be worth more than your donation to WND perhaps lots more."
As of this writing, the value of a single AML Bitcoin has been well under 50 cents, so Farah's boast seems a lot like wishful thinking, and his donors shouldn't be counting on it to get rich anytime soon.
Ultimately, Farah's problem that for all his begging and conspiracy-mongering, he has yet to offer a compelling reason why WND deserves to live. Until and unless Farah can address WND's lengthy history of problematic content, WND has not earned the right to continue existing. All the begging for money Farah does, and all the dubious cybercurrency it gives away, will never counteract that basic fact.