WND's Paul Nehlen Problem
WorldNetDaily published a book by an anti-establishment Republican who quickly turned into an anti-Semitic white nationalist. While WND (eventually) stopped selling Nehlen's book, it has never publicly denounced him or his views.
By Terry Krepel
Nehlen ran a quixotic campaign against powerful House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan in 2016 in the Republican primary. (How quixotic? Nehlen lost by 68 percentage points.) That put him on WND's radar, and it effectively went into business with him. WND published Nehlen's anti-"globalist" book "Wage the Battle" in July 2017, which also apparently serves as a manifesto of sorts for his equally quixotic 2018 primary challenge against Paul Ryan.
WND also began selling in its online store a Nehlen-produced anti-Muslim film called "Hijrah," which purports to expose "the dark underworld of the Muslim refugee crisis."
But WND was also in business with Nehlen in another way: It was effectively the PR shop for Nehlen's long-shot campaign, in an apparent attempt to make it somewhat less quixotic.
The June 16 WND article announcing Nehlen's candidacy was written by Paul Bremmer -- who works on the marketing side, not the "news" side, not that there's much difference between the two at WND in practical terms -- touted Nehlen's "spirited" campaign against Ryan in 2016 but didn't mention he lost by 68 points, or that WND published his book, which is prominently promoted in the article.
This was followed by a series of articles featuring Nehlen bashing Ryan:
"Hijrah" also got the promotional treatment, even though WND wasn't involved in its production. WND radio guy Greg Corombos highlighted in a May interview with Nehlen how the film claims to show that the "ultimate goal" of Muslims "is to populate non-Muslim nations to the extent needed to impose Shariah law" and attacks "nine voluntary agencies, or volags, that facilitate refugee resettlement in the U.S." Another May article by Bremmer touted Nehlen praising far-right French politician Marion Le Pen because "she has expressed a desire to secure the French borders and stop the Islamization of France."
And even before Nehlen officially announced his campaign, WND was giving Nehlen a platform to bash Ryan:
In none of these articles, however, does WND indicated they ever attempted to contact Ryan for a response on Nehlen's attacks. That tell us that this is public relations -- not news. Which makes WND's work an in-kind contribution to Nehlen's campaign.
The Federal Election Commission has laws regulating the use and disclosure of in-kind contributions. Both Nehlen and WND would be wise to follow them. Unless, of course, Nehlen is actually paying WND for all of this fawning, uncritical press, in which case that would have to be disclosed as well.
WND, however, soon had something even bigger than potential campaign law violations to worry about regarding Nehlen.
What was WND's response to Nehlen's extremism? Crickets. While it hadn't promoted him since mid-September -- the last article doing so was a Sept. 14 piece by Paul Bremmer touting Nehlen's declaration that "America demands a wall. You cannot effectively deport a criminal without a wall" -- it also hasn't said a peep about the controversies surrounding him as they grew. One would think that as the publisher of Nehlen's book and seller of his Muslim-bashing film, it would have something to say.
Then again, WND seems weirdly proud that it can keep its racism relatively covert, at least to the point that Google no longer threatens to pull its advertising over race-baiting, as it did in 2014 when WND was heavily promoting the "black mob violence" rants of Colin Flaherty.
Ever-so-slowly backing away, still publicly silent
Throughout all of this, however, WND has continued selling Nehlen's book -- both print and e-book editions were for sale in WND's online store as recently as late January, and it was still popping up in the italic-type promotions among the headlines on its front page. WND did, however, stop selling "Hijrah" at some point in mid- to late January, though the Internet Archive listed "Hijrah" as being available from the store as recently as Jan. 11, well after the Nehlen controversy started.
And despite the growing disgust with Nehlen among conservatives, WND has yet to issue a public statement regarding its relationship with Nehlen.
Why? One reason could be that WND's book division appears to have gone at least somewhat dormant. The WND Books Twitter account hasn't made a post since October, the "coming soon" page of its website features books that have been out for nearly a year, and its front page was still featuring, yes, Paul Nehlen's book.
Still, even though WND is shedding personnel as it circles the drain, you'd think Joseph Farah -- you know, the guy who runs the company -- would want to take a few minutes away from issuing pleas for money to say something about an author it published whose increasingly offensive and discrediting behavior is affecting WND's reputation and future business prospects (well, as much as it can be affected at this point, given that WND already has a well-earned reputation for fake news).
This is a public-relations crisis WND should be addressing, but it's not for some reason -- it couldn't possibly need money so badly as to continue to sell the book of an anti-Semite.
That didn't happen either, but sometime in mid-February -- perhaps moved by Nehlen tweeting an image of Prince Harry's mixed-race fiancee Meghan Markle's face photoshopped onto Cheddar Man, an early Briton recently revealed to be dark-skinned, and the Wisconsin Republican Party subsequently dissociating itself from him and Twitter indefinitely suspending him -- "Wage the Battle" and Nehlen's bio disappeared from the WND Books website. It's not clear whether WND has withdrawn the book from the marketplace; as of this writing, new copies of both the paper and e-book editions are still available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so it still appears to be available.
And still, there has been no public statement from WND about Nehlen, and our emails to WND asking for one have not been answered (though they may have prompted WND to remove Nehlen's book from its websites). WND has not handled this well, and certainly not with any sort of moral clarity.
Not the first
Nehlen, it so happens, is not the only WND-linked writer in trouble for racially charged rhetoric in recent months. In October, contrarian investor Marc Faber got caught saying that he thanked God that "white people populated America, and not the blacks. Otherwise, the U.S. would look like Zimbabwe." He has since been forced to step down from an investment management firm at at least two corporate boards.
Needless to say, WND didn't do a story on the Faber controversy. It has, however, promoted Faber's pronouncements in the past:
While it appears Faber said nothing racist or offensive while intersecting with WND, it does show the company in which WND travels. As much as WND editor Joseph Farah (falsely) claims WND doesn't traffic in racism, it sure hangs around a lot of racists and race-baiters.
Perhaps those ties, on top of its inability to handle the Nehlen crisis, is more evidence that WND doesn't deserve to live.