WND's Fake-News Failure
WorldNetDaily is facing another "existential threat" and begging for money again. Maybe if it didn't regularly publish fake news, WND wouldn't be in this predicament.
By Terry Krepel
For the second time in less than two years, WorldNetDaily is on the brink of insolvency.
In his Jan. 8 column, WND editor Joseph Farah blamed "exceedingly rough times in the news business" and claimed that "the deck is stacked against the independent media" as the reasons behind WND's financial woes, and he called for readers to give him "a minimum of $100,000 before Jan. 30."
There's one issue that Farah didn't address in his appeal for cash as a likely factor in WND's financial woes: the quality of WND's content. Or, more accurately, the lack thereof.
Since June 2016, when Farah issued his last call for donations to fight back another "existential threat," ConWebWatch has published four articles compiling examples of fake news appearing on WND's website. Some were corrected, but most have not been. Some, like WND's false smears of yogurt maker Chobani, were corrected weeks or months after the fact after what we can presume were contacts with Chobani's lawyers.
Below are even more examples of the fake news WND has published over the past several months.
Syrian civil war fake news
In attempting to take Bashar al-Assad's side on the Syrian civil war, Farah wrote this in his April 7 column:
There are two warring parties in Syria the Syrian government, which is attempting to repulse an invasion and partial occupation of Syrian territory, and ISIS, a terrorist plague on the entire world, not just Assad’s regime.
False. There are several warring parties in Syria's civil war, which began when Assad attempted to violently suppress Arab Spring-type protests in his country. In addition to Assad's regime and ISIS, there are anti-Assad rebels, some of whom may be Islamists, and Kurds who are seeking autonomy in their part of Syria. As the Atlantic explained, the civil war has spawned a Sunni-Shia sectarian war and a proxy war with the U.S. and other Persian Gulf states against Iran, Russia and Hezbollah.
Farah also conveniently ignores the fact that Assad actually built up ISIS by permitting the radicalization of anti-government rebels in an attempt to discredit the uprising against him and actively refused to prevent al Qaeda-linked terrorists from entering the country.
Mind you, Farah portrays himself as an expert on these sorts of things. Farah issues an "intelligence resource," the G2 Bulletin, for which he charges a whopping $99 a year, so he should know all of this about Syria. Which means he's either lying to his readers or so incompetent on the issue of international conflict that neither he nor his G2 Bulletin are worth reading.
Either way, his falsely simplistic portrayal of the Syrian civil war doesn't make Farah look good.
False attack on SPLC, part 1
WND just hates it when right-wing anti-gay hate groups are identified as such. In a a June 11 WND article, Bob Unruh attacked the Southern Poverty Law Center for for issuing that label on groups that was later picked up by the nonprofit-rating group Guidestar. Unruh wrote: "Among the organizations targeted by Guidestar are the American Family Association and the Family Research Council, both highly respected and prominent Christian organizations that SPLC considers 'hate' groups because they support traditional marriage."
Unruh is lying. The SPLC has explained that it lists the FRC as a hate group "because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage." The AFA has similiarly spread anti-gay hate.
Late in his article, Unruh finally gets to the real reason why WND hates the SPLC: "SPLC recently was listed among the top 10 enemies that have attacked WND over the years. WND and WND Books were put on SPLC’s latest list of 'extremists.'" Unruh didn't challenge the accuracy of the SPLC's characterization of WND.
Swedish music festival fake news
Liam Clancy wrote in a July 3 WND article:
Sweden’s largest summer music festival is calling it quits, thanks to a wave of sexual violence against women committed by the nation’s growing migrant population.
But despite his assertion that Sweden's "growing migrant population" is to blame for the rapes at the festival, Clancy provides no evidence that a "migrant" committed any rape there.
Indeed, the idea that migrants are engaging in mass rape of festival-goers apparently originated with a police claim following reports of assaults at last year's festival -- a claim police later retracted.
Without actual evidence to back up his claim, Clancy resorts to anti-Muslim fearmongering -- because apparently "migrant" is synonymous with "Muslim" -- calling on anti-Muslim activists like Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller to hawk their hate and ominously warning that "Sweden is now home to 2,000 Islamist extremists" and that "jihadists are expected to continue to flood Sweden as they return home."
Where did all this hate come from when Clancy can't even prove his main claim? A note at the end of the article explains it all: "WND News Editor Leo Hohmann contributed to this report." Hohmann, of course, is WND's chief Islamophobe.
After last year's "migrant" fiasco, a writer for the UK's Guardian stated: "It’s wrong to lay the blame, as we do for so many of the world’s problems, on a faceless foreign mass." Clancy, Hohmann and WND clearly believe otherwise.
Satanic fake news
In a July 23 WND article, Alicia Powe spread false and unsubstantiated smears of purportedly "Satanic" behavior against various and sundry people in entertainment and politics.
For instance, she quotes somebody named Christopher Everard, in the midst of accusing the entertainment industry of having "an anti-Christ thread," ranting that "Singer Katy Perry’s latest album cover is brazen with satanic iconology." This claim is never substantiated.
Powe also wrote:
Americans are now witnessing music icons using occult imagery on album covers and even selling perfume and face cream containing blood and human body parts. During the 2016 presidential election, they learned that Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta had been invited to an occult “spirit cooking” event.
Powe is lying. As an actual news organization, the Washington Post, explained, while "spirit cooking" was the name of an art installation by Abramovic in which some of those things happened, the actual dinner was normal and involved none of that stuff Powe wants to fearmonger over.
French Muslim fake news
Powe wrote in an Aug. 8 WND article:
Many Muslim immigrants express a sentiment of entitlement, believing they one day will replace the natives and the land in which they are strangers will come under the authority of Islamic law.
Let's unpack this. The opening paragraph is opinion from Powe -- she presents no evidence to support her claim -- and has no business in an article claiming to be "news."
The report Powe is writing about, from the right-wing, anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute -- whose ideology Powe does not identify, and about which Powe makes no effort to find a contradictory view -- is rather bogus. The headline claim -- that more mosques and Muslim prayer centers "have been built in France than all the Catholic churches built in the last century" -- is both misleading and outright false.
It's misleading because it omits the fact that there were already 90,000 Catholic churches in France at the beginning of the 20th century, so Catholicism had quite the head start on Islam.
Powe uncritically quotes the Gatestone report as claiming that there are "nearly 2,400 mosques" in France. In fact, according to Haaretz, "There are 2,449 registered Muslim prayer rooms in France, only a small number of which are officially defined as mosques. Prayer rooms can exist in any form but a mosque is a free-standing structure that costs millions of euros to build." Haaretz also reports that "45,000 new churches" have been built in the past century-plus in France. That seems to put the lie to Gatestone's assertion.
Why is that 100-year length of time such a big deal? Because as Powe admits, "France is able to demolish old churches because the government appropriated all church property and the cost of maintaining them in 1907." Which means there's no link whatsoever between closing churches and opening mosques.
While Powe uncritically quotes the Gatestone report as portraying an attempt in France to systematically replace churches with mosques, she cites only one example of a church being turned into a mosque. Which is pretty close to the rea-life rate: Haaretz states that since 1905, only five churches have been turned into mosques.
To sum up: Powe basically wrote a press release about a bogus report from a right-wing anti-Muslim group, and she couldn't be bothered to do even the most basic journalism to verify anything.
The Gatestone Institute has since removed the false and misleading article from its website. Powe's WND article, however, remains live and uncorrected.
Haircut fake news
On Aug. 20, WorldNetDaily copied-and-pasted an article from an Australian news website (misleadingly credited to the New York Post, which is merely cited in the article) about Joshua Witt, "believes his long-on-top, buzzed-on-the-sides haircut got him mistaken for" a neo-Nazi, "and he was nearly stabbed to death by a confused anti-fascist."
Turns out that wasn't true at all. Authorities now say that Witt's knife wounds were self-inflicted, and that he made up the story about being attacked by a protester "with hopes that the Department of Veterans Affairs would pay for his medical bills."
Despite the fact that Witt's falsehood has been exposed for months, WND's original copy-and-past job remains on its website live and uncorrected.
Election conspiracy fake news
Art Moore wrote in a Sept. 7 WND article:
The discovery that more than 6,000 people used out-of-state driver’s licenses to vote in New Hampshire last November bolsters Donald Trump’s claim he lost the state because thousands of Massachusetts residents came in to vote.
But as actual news outlets have pointed out after Kris Kobach, head of the White House's voter fraud commission, repeated the claim, there's no there there. There are these things called college students -- Dartmouth, for instance, is located in New Hampshire -- that have out-of-state driver's licenses and no need to get one in the state, or who don't have driver's licenses at all. New Hampshire does not require voters to have in-state driver's licenses.
Further, as the Washington Times article Moore cites (but curiously fails to link to) points out, the numbers being presented are raw and have not been analyzed to see if college students make up most of them.
In other words, this is fake news, something WND is sadly proficient at.
Anti-Hillary fake news
WND's Powe rehashed a right-wing Hillary-bashing meme in a Sept. 10 article:
The odds were stacked against Donald Trump to win the presidency in a 2016 race with an entitled Hillary Clinton.
Given that Powe's article appeared two days before Clinton's book was officially released, she was merely speculating about the full extent of it contents -- speculation she got wrong.
People who actually read the book before writing about it found that "Clinton doesn’t spare any of the major players from blame and that includes herself." Mistakes she admitted making include running a "traditional" campaign against Trump's "reality TV show," as well as not realizing "how quickly the ground was shifting under our feet" in the national mood. Heck, even the Hillary-haters at Fox News admitted that she was "taking some of the blame" for her election loss.
In other words, the premise of Powe's article is lazy, fake news. No correction has been issued as of this writing.
False attack on SPLC, part 2
WND's Bob Unruh did a fine job of stenography in a Sept. 29 article, running to the defense of Hannah Scherlacher, the program coordinator and a contributor for the right-wing Campus Reform website, uncritically repeating her claim that the Southern Poverty Law Center placed her on a "hate" list for, "believe it or not, talking about socialism." Let the stenography begin:
“It’s an understatement to say that I was dumbfounded as to how I ended up on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s LGBTQ hate-list I have never said or done anything to indicate hate for the LGBTQ community. When I called to inquire, SPLC informed me that I am guilty because I did a radio interview with Family Research Council Radio (FRC). The segment was about socialism, but because FRC holds traditional family values, I was labeled an LGBT-hater just for being a guest on the show. No LGBT topics even came-up,” she said.
Except that's not what happened at all. As Right Wing Watch explains:
Scherlacher’s claims are entirely untrue, as she has not been been placed on the SPLC’s list of anti-LGBT hate groups but was merely once mentioned in passing in one of its “Anti-LGBT Roundup of Events and Activities” posts.
In other words, WND has published more fake news.
Farah's fake-news conspiracy theory
Farah served up a new and exciting conspiracy theory in his June 2 column:
It must be nice to be Jeff Bezos.
Despite Farah's envious fantasy, Bezos does not, in fact, make an "astronomical salary" -- it's only $81,480. Even though Bezos received an additional $1.6 million in compensation in 2016, he still isn't the highest-paid employee at Amazon; that would be the guy who runs Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud services division and the one that the CIA contracted with for cloud computing in 2013. AWS is a $10 billion business, and the CIA is just one of more than 1 million clients who use its services.
Bezos' wealth is driven by the stock price of Amazon, given the fact that he's Amazon's largest shareholder. Which means Bezos didn't need that CIA contract with AWS to buy the Washington Post -- he just had to cash in a little stock.
Also, the CIA-AWS deal appears to be a beneficial one in modernizing the CIA and actually helping it run a little more like a business by outsourcing services -- don't right-wingers like Farah regularly claim they want government to run like a business? The Atlantic reported on the deal at the time:
If the technology plays out as officials envision, it will usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily and avoid the kind of intelligence gaps that preceded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Nevertheless, Farah demanded "an investigation into the collusion between John Brennan, Jeff Bezos, Amazon, the Washington Post and the CIA."
Farah's conspiracy theory that the CIA gave Bezos the money to buy the Post is another ridiculous, paranoid WND fantasy. One might even call it fake news.
If Farah is this ignorant about how a business is run, no wonder his website is failing.