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Sunday, December 3, 2006
Another Shocker: WND Allows Atheist to Rebut Articles
Topic: WorldNetDaily

What has gotten into the ConWeb? It's coming down with a severe case of fair journalism. First, CNS debunks a false conservative talking point; now, WorldNetDaily allows one of the targets of its "news" coverage to comment -- and lets it stand without additional comment.

Not just any target, mind you; we're talking Michael Newdow, the atheist best known for trying to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance -- and who also briefly sued WND for libel in 2003 (Newdow later dropped the lawsuit).

So, it's surprising to see on WND's commentary page a Dec. 2 column by Newdow in which he criticizes WND's reporting of his legal actions to remove "In God We Trust" as a national motto as "quite misleading." From his column:

WND's assertion that "Newdow has admitted that ... [he] ... wants to ... install his own belief system that does not acknowledge God" is similarly misleading. By focusing on the elimination of "acknowledgments" of God's existence, it is implied that it is atheism ("his own belief system") that I seek to have government endorse. But the fact is that if the government adhered to my atheistic views and claimed that God is a myth, I would demand the elimination of that assertion as well. The "belief system" I'm striving to uphold is the one based on equality, not on any religious opinion – including my own. The real question is not why I am fighting for that "belief system" (i.e., equality), but why others are fighting against it.

That I'm for "[b]anning references to God or Christianity in the public sphere" is yet another bogus contention. Let me be clear on this: I want God and Christianity in the public sphere.


But the right of individuals and groups to voice their own religious opinions is very different from the "right" to have the government join them in their endeavors. In fact, that posited "right" is no right at all; it is precisely what the Establishment Clause prohibits. In other words, when it comes to religious issues, that "public sphere" belongs only to the public, not the government.

Granted, WND buried Newdow's column on a low-readership weekend, but the fact that it not only ran it as a archived column rather than a letter to the editor that will disappear within a week, but also ran it unchallenged, says something (though we're not sure what) about a possible change in WND's standards. Are they tacitly admitting their articles were wrong or misleading? That's not something WND normally does; as we've noted, when WND's Aaron Klein suggested that Fox News paid a ransom for two kidnapped reporters, it went on the defensive, took refuge in word-parsing and denied that Klein suggested such a thing (though he did). If it means that WND is taking its journalistic endeavors a little more seriously -- and accurately -- that's a good thing.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 AM EST

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