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Tuesday, December 18, 2012
WND Snottily Corrects Judith Reisman Column
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily has long had an adversarial relationship toward correcting false information on its website, typically waiting until an actual or threatened lawsuit to do so. Other times, false information is changed or simply disappears without notifying readers that anything has been changed.

When WND actually does publicly correct something, it's done with as much foot-dragging as possible. A vivid demonstration of this is a Dec. 17 WND article by Chelsea Schilling, snottily headlined "Here's your correction, Wikipedia founder."

Schilling details the tale of how Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales objected to Judith Reisman's claim in a Dec. 14 WND column that he "made his original fortune as a pornography trafficker." Schilling details WND's pissiness in pointing out that a search portal Wales once operated called Bomis had a "premium" feature offering access to X-rated content, as described on a Wikipedia page about it:

However, Wales told WND the Wikipedia page “doesn’t say anything remotely like me making a ‘fortune’ from ‘pornography.’” He asked, “What do you intend to do about this libel?”

Farah responded, “Let me get this straight: You admit making money from pornography, but you feel defamed because you didn’t make enough for it to be considered a ‘fortune’?”

Wales also argued that the factual accuracy of Wikipedia’s own “Bomis” entry is irrelevant: “We are not discussing Wikipedia. If there are errors in Wikipedia, this does not relieve you of the moral and legal responsibility not to defame me, sir.  You know that.”

Farah asked, “Now Wikipedia is lying?”

“We are not talking about Wikipedia,” Wales retorted. “This is a defamatory falsehood. I have never made any ‘fortune’ as a ‘porngraphy [sic] trafficker.’ Fix it.”


Attempting to get to the bottom of the issue, Farah asked Wales how much money he generated from Bomis.

“For a few years, I took a modest salary as programmer and CEO (averaging less than $60k per year for the life of the company),” Wales explained. ”The company declined until we closed it; there was no sale and no big earnings of any kind.

“The revenue of the company was primarily advertising.  The best period of time for the company came when we were part of the NBCi network (a search engine and web portal run by NBC television), but that quickly went away when NBCi collapsed as a part of the general dot-com collapse.”

Farah asked: “Are you suggesting that Bomis was not trafficking pornography? Or that you were not involved in Bomis?”

“By any sane measure of our revenue and profits, no, we were not ‘trafficking pornography,’” Wales replied. ”Like many dot-com startups of the era, we struggled with what kind of advertisers to accept and we did have ‘adult’ advertisers – as did all the other major portals at the time. 99% of our revenue was not from that, so it’s totally ludicrous to claim we were ‘trafficking pornography.’”

Wales added, “You might as well claim that the owner of a local convenience store chain (who probably made more money than I did during that era) made a fortunate a [sic] pornography trafficker if they sold Playboy behind the counter. It’s nonsense and you know it.”

Ultimmately, Schilling writes: "After thoroughly researching the issue, WND has edited Reisman’s column to read: 'Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s creator, originally made his living off a website that earned revenue from pornography traffickers.'" Yet Reisman's column contains no correction or any other notification that a false claim has been changed.

Schilling has a lengthy record of making false and misleading claims that WND has not seen fit to correct, so this show of purported "thorough research" is the exception rather than the rule.

Schilling uses the remainder of her article to rehash WND's war on Wikipedia for publishing objectionable images and for purportedly allowing people to mock WND and editor Joseph Farah. Schilling also includes this note from Farah to Wales:

“You might recall that Wikipedia once claimed I had an affair … (Untrue) It claimed I was a homosexual. (Untrue) Both of these false accusations actually resulted in material and professional harm to me. So I am sure you will extend some patience while we address this issue.”

Farah fails to understand how Wikipedia works. He should ask his employee Aaron Klein, who had a subordinate write and edit Klein's Wikipedia page, making sure any less-than-flattering information was deleted.

Farah also apparently doesn't understand the difference between a user-generated site like Wikipedia and a supposedly professionally edited and curated site like WND, which theoretically should have higher standarrds. Yet Farah himself has admitted that -- and apparently has no problem with -- WND publishes false information.

Also: How exactly did Farah suffer "material and professional harm" from malicious Wikipedia edits? We'd love to hear the details, but we also suspect it's not all that true since most people understand that these things happen.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:42 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 2:57 PM EST

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