Remember how WorldNetDaily was portraying the $165 million libel lawsuit filed against it by Tennessee businessman Clark Jones as determining "the future of investigative journalism in the United States"? Remember Joseph Farah's longtime claim that "this lawsuit would be dropped in a flat second if Al Gore wanted it to be dropped. Understand also that WND did nothing wrong and libeled no one in the publication of this exhaustive series"? Remember Farah's insistence that WND "has made every effort to ensure that its reporting in this series –- and in everything it has covered – was fair, honest, truthful, balanced and accurate"?
Well, never mind.
A Feb. 13 WND article states that the lawsuit has been settled out of court for undisclosed, confidential terms. The article also includes "the text of the settlement statement jointly drafted by all parties in the lawsuit. Both sides agreed to limit comment on the lawsuit to this statement":
"A lawsuit for libel, defamation, false light and conspiracy was filed by Clark Jones of Savannah, Tennessee against WorldNetDaily.com, Tony Hays and Charles H. Thompson II arising out of a press release issued by WorldNetDaily.com on September 18, 2000, and articles dated September 20, October 8, November 24 and December 5, 2000, written by Tony Hays and Charles H. Thompson, II, posted on WorldNetDaily.com's website.
"The original news release by WorldNetDaily.com of September 18, 2000, and the article by Hays and Thompson of September 20, 2000, contained statements attributed to named sources, which statements cast Clark Jones in a light which, if untrue, defamed him by asserting that the named persons said that he had interfered with a criminal investigation, had been a 'subject' of a criminal investigation, was listed on law enforcement computers as a 'dope dealer,' and implied that he had ties to others involved in alleged criminal activity. These statements were repeated in the subsequently written articles and funds solicitations posted on WorldNetDaily.com's website. Clark Jones emphatically denied the truth of these statements, denied any criminal activity and called upon the publisher and authors to retract them.
"Discovery has revealed to WorldNetDaily.com that no witness verifies the truth of what the witnesses are reported by authors to have stated. Additionally, no document has been discovered that provides any verification that the statements written were true.
"Factual discovery in the litigation and response from Freedom of Information Act requests to law enforcement agencies confirm Clark Jones' assertion that his name has never been on law enforcement computers, that he has not been the subject of any criminal investigation nor has he interfered with any investigation as stated in the articles. Discovery has also revealed that the sources named in the publications have stated under oath that statements attributed to them in the articles were either not made by them, were misquoted by the authors, were misconstrued, or the statements were taken out of context.
"WorldNetDaily.com and its editors never intended any harm to Clark Jones and regret whatever harm occurred. WorldNetDaily.com has no verified information by which to question Mr. Jones' honesty and integrity, and having met him, has no claim or reason to question his honesty and integrity. WorldNetDaily.com wishes him well."
As we detailed, WND admitted that it never fact-checked Thompson and Hays' reporting before it published their Gore-bashing article, nor did it even know who the anonymous sources were that made the false claims against Jones -- bad journalistic practice by any definition. As late as Feb. 5 -- nine days ago -- WND wouldn't even concede that Jones denied the claims.
We wonder: Given WND's admission that Thompson and Hays' false claims were "repeated in the subsequently written articles and funds solicitations posted on WorldNetDaily.com's website," will it be going back to each of these articles and adding a prominent correction, or will it simply make them disappear from its archives without explanation? We'll be watching.
The funny thing is that at the end of the article, it links to the donation page to WND's legal defense fund, which states that "WND has never lost such a lawsuit." Time to update that, guys.
UPDATE: One other funny thing we noticed: WND curiously didn't attach a Digg tag to the story, like it does on the rest of its original news articles, so it can't be tagged (well, not easily, anyway) at the social aggregator site.