Down the Conspiracy Drain
Even as leader Joseph Farah is incapacitated by a stroke and its corporate mismanagement is made public, WorldNetDaily still insists on promoting conspiracy theories even though doing so is one of the things that is driving it out of business.
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily, it seems, has learned nothing from its continuing financial crisis.
It has ranted about a conspiracy theory by the "digital cartel" of Facebook and Google causing its financial woes, even as evidence mounts showing otherwise. In April, the Washington Post published a devastating article documenting how WND not only has stiffed employees and contractors of money they are owed, Elizabeth Farah, wife of WND founder and editor Joseph Farah, allegedly bought personal items on a company credit card.
The Post article also noted WND's scammy pay-to-publish division. ConWebWatch has detailed the story of Patricia Fiejo, whose story and book WND promoted -- about her and her husband's battle with the Food and Drug Administration over her refusal to stop making unproven health claims about the dubious supplements they sold -- but did not disclose to readers it was paid by Fiejo (to the tune of nearly $10,000) to promote it; Fiejo told the Post that WND failed to deliver on promises it would provide audio versions of her book.
The Post also highlighted WND's attempt to save itself by offering a bitcoin derivative to donors as a way to boost donations. We documented how scammy a deal that was at the time, and it certainly has not been a moneymaker for any of its holders so far; as of this writing, it's trading at about 12 cents.
In the midst of all this, WND reported that Joseph Farah suffered a "serious stroke," according to a March 28 letter to readers. (The Post reported that WND didn't make that information public until a couple hours after it had contacted WND for a response to its story.) Managing editor David Kupelian insisted that WND's "genuinely truth-oriented, pro-Constitution, pro-Judeo-Christian journalism" would continue.
If Farah is out of commission with a severe health issue, that bodes even worse for WND's future. Seeing this sort of mismanagement laid bare doesn't bode well for attracting any investors to it or even its tax-deductible nonprofit WND News Center, which has the goal of financing WND's reporting. The force-of-nature Farah juggled things (and stiffed his employees and authors) to keep the thing afloat, and no other WND bigwig seems likely to step into that role.
Still, WND continues to limp along, refusing to change the one thing that arguably played a big role in killing WND as we know it: its embrace of conspiracy theories. ConWebWatch has already documented WND's continued promotion of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, but it doesn't stop there.
The Flynn conspiracy
An anonymously written Nov. 1 WND article touted a fundraiser for admitted perjurer Michael Flynn and advances the right-wing conspiracy theory that Flynn pleaded guilty to a crime he didn't commit:
Supporters of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn who contend he is an American patriot who was unfairly targeted by Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation are holding a gala fundraiser in his honor next week.
As we pointed out when WND columnist James Zumwalt embraced this conspiracy theory, it ignores that Flynn was being investigated on other charges of making false statements, particularly regarding his lobbying for Turkey. In his plea agreement, Flynn pledged to cooperate with Mueller in exchange for the rest of the charges against him being dropped.
Of course, WND won't report that because it's an inconvenient fact to the fund-raiser.
Meanwhile, WND columnist Andy Schlafly intoned in his Dec. 18 column:
Life in the Deep State took another dark turn on Tuesday, at the sentencing of Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn that did not happen. Instead, he was asked if he had committed treason, which is something not even the partisan Mueller prosecutors ever considered charging him with.
Schlafly apparently didn't watch the same hearing as the rest of us. Flynn testified that he had, in fact, not been a victim of entrapment and that he knew lying to the FBI was illegal (as most sentient beings ought to). And as special counsel Robert Mueller has pointed out, "Nothing about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements to the FBI."
The fact that Flynn himself admitted in court that he was not entrapped should have put an end to the right-wing talking point. But the truth doesn't always prevail over a good conspiracy theory, and Schlafly ought to know better.
Rushing to conspiracies
WND columnist Erik Rush has always been conspiracy-happy and particularly Obama-deranged. He ratcheted things up to a new level in his Oct. 31 column, in which he argued that Cesar Sayoc, the "MAGABomber" accused of mailing pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, is actually a secret "leftist operative":
Following a nationwide manhunt, on Friday federal authorities arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, a Florida man accused of sending explosive devices to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump. Even prior to Sayoc’s capture, one could almost feel the anticipation of those on the left in the air, particularly the establishment press: The perpetrator was going to be found to be a Trump supporter, and they would exploit this fact to the nth degree.
Rush then boasted that "my knowledge of psychology surpasses what my formal education would suggest," going on to argue: "If we wound up discovering that Cesar Sayoc was an unbalanced right-winger groomed for his role by leftist operatives, or simply a leftist operative himself, it should not be at all surprising given the boundless duplicity of the left and their aforementioned level of desperation."
Rush also suggested that Holmes, Lanza and Alexis may have been manipulated by Obama to commit their massacres in order to boost the argument for gun control:
The three mass shootings I mentioned all occurred during a time when the Obama administration was vigorously stumping for harsher gun control measures, so the motivation for these being staged incidents (in theory) is obvious. There were several other suspicious phenomena that tied those shootings together, such as circumstantial evidence that some involved crisis actors, which would be indicative of staged events.
If Rush so eagerly swallows such ridiculous conspiracy theories, perhaps his knowledge of psychology is not as all-encompassing as he would like us to think.
Rush took conspiratorial aim at a politician in his Nov. 7 column:
As a result, on Tuesday, Coloradoans elected Jared Polis, a Democrat, as their governor. What’s being celebrated is the fact that he is the first openly gay man to be elected as governor of a state. This in itself evidences the superficial level at which we currently operate.
Ignoring the obsessive Obama-hate -- he's had Obama Derangement Syndrome for years -- let's unpack what Rush said, and got wrong, about Polis. Rush appears to be regurgitating a right-wing attack ad funded by dark money hyping that "documented charge of workplace violence against a woman." The truth, as one would expect, diverges greatly from Rush's (and the attack ad's) summary of the incident.
According to an actual news outlet, what actually happened is that Polis' personal assistant, tried to leave after deleting computer files and taking company documents and business contracts with her, and Polis tried to physically stop her from leaving with those documents. The assistant later pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets. Also, a $700,000 ad buy was done for the ad, belying Rush's claim that Colorado voters likely never heard of it.
Not that the actual truth matters to Rush, of course; he just loves a good (or bad) conspiracy theory. indeed, Rush followed up with an April 10 column smearing Polis as an "ugly gay guy with highly questionable politics and a dark back story."
Rush insisted that Coloradoans voted for Polis only to offer "definitive proof that they were not homophobic," then ranted: "Countless Americans have accepted the notion that homosexuality does not represent one being morally compromised because they’ve been told that harboring such a belief would make them bigots (as well as hurting homosexuals’ feelings). Coloradoans’ summary denial that homosexuals are a morally compromised lot has effectively allowed a morally compromised individual to run their state."
We don't recall Rush ever describing the current president, a thrice-married adulterer who has paid hush money to porn stars, as "morally compromised."
The Notre Dame conspiracy
After the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, WorldNetDaily was happy to mock YouTube for an "algorithm designed to combat fake news and conspiracy theories [that] equated the Paris catastrophe with the 9/11 New York City terror attacks," adding that "there is no indication that the devastating fire at the iconic Notre Dame is related to terrorism."
But even though there remains no indication of a terrorism link to the Notre Dame fire, WND has embraced the idea that there might be, likely committed by Muslims.
An April 15 article regurgitated a right-wing blogger who counted "the names of Facebook users who responded to a video of the fire with a laughing emoji. The names included Yusuf Mohammedzai, Mohamed Hiadi, Mohamed Bensalem and Abdelhakim Noui Oua."
An anonymously written April 16 WND article stepped in that direction by highlighting "the surge of attacks on Christian symbols in Europe." While it did concede that "French authorities believe the blaze that destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral was accidental," it also highlighted that "ISIS followers online called the Notre Dame fire “retribution and punishment” from Allah.
Another April 16 article complained, as the Media Research Center did, that Fox News anchor Shepard Smith shut down a guest who tried to link the Notre Dame fire to other attacks on European churches, then rehashed Rush Limbaugh's conspiracy theory that it was "head-in-the-sand denial" not to raise the specter of a link.
WND columnist Barbara Simpson went fully into conspiracy territory in her April 21 column:
The big question then, is the same big question now: How did the fire start? While there has been a wild attempt by worldwide media to show the pictures of the inferno and the damage caused, there is a concerted effort to avoid making any conclusions as to HOW the fire started or, perhaps, WHO started it.
She was followed by columnist Oliver Melnick, who basically argued that it would be irresponsible not to speculate:
We might never really know the source of the Notre Dame fire, but the situation is such in France and much of Western Europe that at least it makes it possible for one to speculate and leave the door open for a terrorist attack. The soil is fertile to allow more hatred to grow and choke Christianity and Western civilization. As a matter of fact, ISIS, which didn’t claim responsibility for the fire, threatened to start another one to finish the job. They were not involved, but they were quick to rejoice and post photos of the burning structure on social media, with the caption: “It’s time to say goodbye to your oratory polytheism.”
So committed is WND to this conspiracy theory that it's doing something that's become increasingly rare given its current dire financial state: original reporting. WND's Art Moore made a phone call to France and he told us all about it in an April 28 article:
When the Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith hung up on French politician and media analyst Philippe Karsenty during live coverage of the Notre Dame Cathedral blaze, authorities already were speculating the catastrophe that gripped the world was caused by an accident.
Moore also complained that Fox's Smith has a "reputation as a left-leaning counter to the network’s conservative commentators and hosts." WND being WND, of course, Moore allowed no countervailing view -- can't interfere with the conspiracy theory, y'know.
And that's how WND keeps its reputation of being conspiracy-mongers. And that's how it stays on the road to oblivion.