It is not normal behavior for news organizations to hire a PR firm to promote news articles, particularly ones in which the claims made in it have not been substantiated.
But WorldNetDaily is no normal "news" organization.
Yesterday, WND sent out a press release on behalf of its PR firm, M. Sliwa Public Relations -- operated by Maria Sliwa, sister of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, which WND has previously retained to promote books from its publishing operation -- to tout WND editor Joseph Farah's Feb. 22 column claiming that Larry Sinclair's accusations against Barack Obama, which WND has unskeptically promoted and even admitted is "sleaze," are so much worse that what the New York Times published about John McCain. Indeed, the press release's headline screams:
FARAH'S LATEST OBAMA BOMBSHELL
Leaves McCain Scandal in the Dust
As we've noted, WND has offered no evidence whatsoever to support Sinclair's claims, or even suggested that it made an effort to find any -- which puts it in a position similar to the one that resulted in WND having to settle a libel lawsuit by admitting that it published false information and didn't fact-check its reporting before publishing it.
The press release repeats Farah's disingenuous claim that he "is an independent journalist who supports neither Obama nor McCain, and says WND will continue to report both stories regardless of whether he supports either candidate." Again, as we've noted, WND has covered the Times/McCain story only in the context of attacking the Times for running it, whereas it has accepted Sinclair's claims against Obama at face value.
Further, Farah doesn't just not support Obama; he's openly hostile to him. Farah has used guilt by association to smear Obama as a communist and stated that the idea of Obama as president "scare[s]" him. He has smeared Democrats as "socialist race-baiters and phony feminists." Any suggestion that Farah's non-support for Obama translates to "independent" neutrality is absurd.
WND's press release also makes Farah available for interviews about the Obama-sinclair story. We've put in a request to Sliwa's firm to interview Farah, particularly about the unseemliness of a "news" organization hiring a PR firm to promote an unsubstantiated political smear. We'll see what happens.