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Friday, May 11, 2007
A Dare Accepted
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Dear Mr. Farah:

In your May 11 WorldNetDaily column, you note that your April 16 article on the alleged health hazards of compact fluorescent lights is used as an "example" of a fallacious charge on Snopes. You write:

The story was so good, if I do say so myself, it was picked up internationally.

Everything in the story is 100 percent accurate and truthful – and not a word of the original story has been altered.


Snopes reports my story is an "example" of this ludicrous assertion: "An environmental clean-up crew needs to be called in to deal with the mercury dispersed by one broken CFL bulb."

Now, I dare you. Go read my story and tell me where I, the reporter in this case, suggested any such nonsense.

We'll take you up on that dare.

You did, in fact, suggest the "nonsense" that "An environmental clean-up crew needs to be called in to deal with the mercury dispersed by one broken CFL bulb." Quoting from your April 16 article:

So, last month, the Prospect, Maine, resident [Brandy Bridges] went out and bought two dozen CFLs and began installing them in her home. One broke. A month later, her daughter's bedroom remains sealed off with plastic like the site of a hazardous materials accident, while Bridges works on a way to pay off a $2,000 estimate by a company specializing in environmentally sound cleanups of the mercury inside the bulb. 


The specialist warned Bridges not to clean up the bulb and mercury powder by herself – recommending a local environmental cleanup firm.

That company estimated the cleanup cost, conservatively, at $2,000. And, no, her homeowners insurance won't cover the damage.

Since she could not afford the cleanup, Bridges has been forced to seal off her daughter's bedroom with plastic to avoid any dust blowing around. Not even the family pets are permitted in to the bedroom.

Further, while the Ellsworth American newspaper article you apparently lifted the Bridges story from quotes a spokesman for Maine's Department of Environmental Protection points out that it "isn’t necessary to hire professionals at all” for a light bulb and quotes the state toxicologist as saying it would be unlikely that a person could contract mercury poisoning from the levels of mercury found in Bridges’ daughter’s room, you included none of that information in your article. By listing only the $2,000 cleanup job as an option for cleaning up the broken bulb, you committed bias by omission and created a highly misleading -- if not, in the words of Snopes, "fallacious" -- article.

If the "original article" that you claim "not a word of ... has been altered" is the Ellsworth American article, you did indeed "alter" it by not completely reporting all the relevant claims it made -- specifically, that a $2,000 cleanup job is not the only option Bridges has.

That newspaper article also noted that Bridges has "spent roughly two to three hours a day over the past several weeks, talking on the phone and in person and contacting local papers to get the word out on what she believes are dangerous light bulbs." Is WorldNetDaily one of the news outlets to whom Bridges shopped her story?

You conclude your column by stating: "Long story short: Learn to trust those with track records of honesty, integrity and standards. WND has those traits." No, it doesn't; Refusal to report crucial, complete information -- information you failed to include in your original article on CFLs -- is not the hallmark of a news organization that puts into practice "honesty, integrity and standards."


Terry Krepel
Editor, ConWebWatch

Posted by Terry K. at 2:03 AM EDT

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