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Friday, January 18, 2019
Too Good To Fact-Check: WND Repeats Prank Story
Topic: WorldNetDaily

An anonymously written Jan. 8 WorldNetDaily article repeated a Wall Street Journal story claiming that Muslim interest groups -- specifically the Council on Arab-Islamic Relations -- lobbied Twitter to ban far-right anti-Muslim stunt provoacteur Laura Loomer (whom WND benignly and laughably describes only as a "conservative Jewish activist"). Since WND merely rewrote the Journal article, it couldn't be bothered to do its own fact-checking.

Bad move -- it appears the claim was the result of a prank.

Right Wing Watch reports that Loomer "was duped by internet pranksters into believing that her suspension occurred due to alleged lobbying by" CAIR. Loomer apparently took the fake info to the Journal, which dubiously represented standard complaints from CAIR employees "as evidence of the group’s influence over Twitter executives when they decided to shut down Loomer’s account." CAIR said it did nothing out of the ordinary in reporting Loomer's offensive work to Twitter.

Prankster Nathan Bernard reported numerous contacts with Loomer, which escalated into fabricating an appointment calendar showing that CAIR was scheduled to meet with Twitter chief Jack Dorsey. (Twitter has since confirmed that it never met with CAIR representatives.) An accomplice of Bernard noted that Loomer made no attempt to verify the identity of those who were feeding her this (bogus) information; meanwhile, the Journal apparently mistook CAIR's admission that it complained to Twitter about Loomer through the standard reporting channels Twitter provides to every user as an admission that it "privately lobbied" Twitter.

WND was far from alone in getting duped; numerous other right-wing websites also ran with the story, Right Wing Watch documents. Needless to say, WND hid the extent of Loomer's anti-Muslim extremism, which got her banned from Uber and Lyft for racist tweets ranting that too many of their drivers were Muslims and/or immigrants.

Also needless to say, WND has shown no interest so far in correcting the record (it usually doesn't unless someone threatens to sue). Its original story remains live and uncorrected, and a Jan. 15 article on another Loomer stunt did not mention the prank incident at all, let alone admit it was a prank.

Letting fake news stand after it's been proven fake is not helping WND's quest for credibility (or solvency).

Posted by Terry K. at 1:25 AM EST

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