WND Still Schizophrenic About Libel Lawsuit Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily is still schizophrenic about the libel lawsuit filed against it by Tennessee businessman Clark Jones.
A Dec. 8 article by Bob Unruh details its main claim that WND should not be held liable for the articles:
That appellate order then was followed by the appellate court statement that the reporters "were freelance reporters engaged by the Defendant WorldNetDaily.com, Inc. [WND] to write a series of articles about the Plaintiff's alleged activities which were published, with extensive notoriety, by WND, and were prima facie defamatory."
But there has been no trial, no jury, and no conclusions that the reporters actually had been "engaged," that the stories were "published," "with extensive notoriety" and were "prima facie defamatory." The appellate court opinion simply stated those disputed issues as fact, the court filing said.
"In spite of the statement of the court of appeals … the record on appeal presents evidence all of which is of one accord and indisputable in establishing that WND did not 'engage' appellants to write the articles that are the subject of the instant case. Instead, appellants did the investigation and wrote the articles, without WND even having knowledge that the articles were being written or the investigation being done, and, after the articles were finished, the appellants contacted WND and asked WND to post the articles on WND's website for dissemination," the statement said.
So WND is still claiming that it's innocent because it didn't commission the articles but merely reprinted them.
But then, Unruh writes:
WND's rights would be similar, "if not exactly the same," as a news publisher, it said.
"Literally, myriad cases could be cited from this Court, from courts of other states and from the federal forum, including the United States Supreme Court, to establish how very fundamental and very vital, to our existence as a Nation, extraordinary protection of the First Amendment rights of the press is," the filing said.
So, which is it? Is WND standing by the articles, or is it trying to disassociate itself from them? Logic would seem to dictate that it can't do both.
Unruh also adds:
WND argued that if the only news that is reportable is from an identified source, the First Amendment rights of every U.S. citizen will be damaged.
"The inability to claim that the information from the source whose identity remains confidential is truth, … dictates that the reporter and/or the third-party website provider must defend the defamation claims in the face of an irrefutable presumption that the reported and/or website-posted information is false," WND said.
If the court orders controlling in the WND case now had been in place during Watergate, not even the Washington Post could have assumed the risk of publishing anything from Deep Throat, the petition said.
(UPDATE: We forgot to note that this contradicts Farah's previous view of anonymous sources: "usually quotes made up out of whole cloth to help make the story read better.")
But back to schizophrenia: A Dec. 9 article by Unruh notes that "alarmingly, the number of Internet-based journalists in prison for their work has doubled in just three years." Unruh then goes on to quote Joseph Farah:
"It's not WorldNetDaily on trial in Tennessee, it's the First Amendment," said Farah. "Where in heaven's name have the American Civil Liberties Union and the big media been for the last six years as our little company carries the full load of responsibility for defending something as basic to our country's founding principles as freedom of the press?"
Farah continued: "Not only is this a huge defamation case in terms of possible judgments, it is also huge because it involves critical reporting about the 2000 presidential election. Politically protected speech and reporting doesn't get much more basic than that."
Wait -- we thought WND was insisting that it was responsible for the content of those articles. We're confused. Pick one of the other, guys.
A side note: Both articles appeal for donations to WND's legal defense fund, claiming, "WorldNetDaily’s only recourse in this lawsuit is to fight every step of the way in its pursuit of truth." But Unruh lets a little truth slip through in the Dec. 8 article, explaining a bit why after so many years, WND is suddenly obsessed by it:
The order at issue concluded that an appeal by [reporters Tony] Hays and [Charles C.] Thompson should be dismissed, "together with the appeals of WND and (defendant Rebecca) Hagelin" [then WND's communications director] with costs assessed to those parties.
The problem there is that WND and Hagelin didn't file an appeal, the new court filing said.
Oops! Unruh offers no explanation as to why no appeal was filed or if one should have been, which seems to belie its claim to "fight every step of the way." As we've noted, WND went 3 1/2 years -- from December 2002 to July 2006 -- without publishing a news article about it. Could that lack of response to the lawsuit be the reason that WND has ignored our challenge to publish all legal documents from it on the Web?
And, by the way, despite the loving detail Unruh gives WND's side of the story, in neither of these articles does he talk to Jones or his representatives to give them a fair representation; his description of the other side is limited to quotes from the lawsuit and rulings.
Shocker: AP Uses 'Unauthorized' Sources Topic: NewsBusters
In a Dec. 10 NewsBusters post, Robin Boyd attacks the Associated Press for -- hold on to your beverages -- using "unauthorized" sources in stories about Iraq, citing as evidence a story in which a source spoke "on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media." Royd adds: "The use of 'anonymous' sources is nothing more than a journalistic ploy to prevent others from verifying the information presented."
Um, so what? "Unauthorized" people talking to the media? Horrors! Is Boyd willing to hold all media to that standard? Because we can think of onereporter whose use of anonymous sources -- who certainly can't be "authorized" in the way Boyd means it -- leaves the AP in the dust. And, as we've noted, it's not as if the "authorized" sources in Iraq have any more credibility. But they are "authorized," and that apparently trumps the truth for Boyd.
Mind you, Boyd is a person who called the Iraq Study Group report "crap," so she's hardly the voice of reason on such things. When she demands that WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein name all of his sources, then we'll think about taking her seriously.
In a Dec. 7 NewsMax column attacking Jesse Jackson and other critics of Michael Richards' N-word tirade, who he portrayed as "living in Bizarro World," Steve Malzberg wrote:
But Jackson has gone beyond Richards racist comments and has used incident to blast the republican's for re-electing Sen. Trent Lott to a leadership position. Jackson has once again raised objection to Lott's remarks made at a birthday party for Sen. Strom Thurmond which were racially divisive, forcing Lott to resign as incoming Senate majority leader back in 2002.
Lott apologized back then, but let us assume apologies are not sufficient for Jackson, unless he's making them.
It's curious that Jackson would chose to reignite the Lott story. After all, I fail to recall Jackson's outrage when in in 1993, at a birthday party for former Sen. William Fulbright, President Clinton gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the segregationist.
Fulbright was against the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, against the Voting Rights Act and against the Civil Rights Act.
Ah yes . . . Bizarro World at its best.
But the comparison of Lott and Clinton is misleading and irrelevant. As we've repeatedlynoted, unlike Lott's statement that if Thurmond had won his segregationist Dixiecrat presidential run in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over these years" -- which Malzberg strangely doesn't detail -- Clinton never implied support for Fulbright's former segregationist views.
WND Revives Clinton Smear, Clinton Smearer Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 8 WorldNetDaily article not only revives an unsubstantiated bit of Clinton-bashing, it revives one of the loonier of the old Clinton-bashers.
The article claims that the novelty store chain Spencer Gifts has removed from its retail website "[p]ornographic ornaments, reportedly similar to those used in the Clinton White House." The source for this claim is Florida lawyer Jack Thompson, who claimed that the "ornaments are similar ... to the ones former FBI Agent Gary Aldrich described in his book, 'Unlimited Access.'"
To our knowledge, Aldrich has never substantiated this claim (beyond a purported photo on one ornament in a later edition of the book). Further, as Margaret Carlson wrote in a July 15, 1996, column:
This is ludicrous. First, the entire press corps sees the tree and would notice three hens fornicating. Second, all the decorations sent in from artists are screened for appropriateness (two were tossed), logged in and photographed in October. Pornographic paraphernalia in the Blue Room has the ring of one of those preschooler fantasies elicited by overeager therapists in the McMartin child-sex-abuse case.
Further, consider the record of the person making this claim. As we've detailed, Jack Thompson is the kind of rabid Clinton-hater that he would buy into Aldrich's claims without question. As we've detailed, Thompson was even more obsessive about Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno, having lost an election to her in 1988; during that election, he claimed that Reno was unfit for the job because, as a closeted lesbian with a drinking problem, she was great candidate for blackmail by the criminal element. Lately, he's been crusading against video games he has deemed too violent, including America's Army, which is given away free by the federal government as a military recruiting tool.
So we have a fringe fanatic making a fringe claim. And WND treats this as legitimate news.
The President's father, when he broke down on Monday at a ceremony for his son, Jeb, the outgoing governor of Florida, was actually releasing years of pent-up emotion about his oldest son's massive failure in Iraq.
Bush 41 is no fool. He knows that his obstinate son has severely damaged America and American interests worldwide for years to come. (Not to mention the Bush brand is greatly devalued, too.)
All this emotion came tumbling out. Yes, he loves his son, but he also knows what an embarrassment W has become. It repeats a life-long pattern: Given everything by Mom and Dad, the oldest son repeatedly screws up, but never pays a price for these mistakes. He fails up the ladder, all the way to the Oval Office.
Does everybody on the planet spend time kicking the president of the United States? I ask this because it seems that we are in the midst of an open season on George W. Bush.
I've never seen a presidency where everybody shoots at the president and nobody defends him, except his wife and Tony Snow. People who oppose "waterboarding" the enemy would be happy to see George Bush undergo the ordeal.
What you see in all of this is that there is a complete lack of support and respect for this president, even from the people he has around him. For Gates to come out and say what he did in the confirmation hearings for the job George Bush has given him, is nothing less than sheer ingratitude – if not open contempt for his benefactor.
And he not only takes issue with the president who has appointed him, but does so with impunity. It doesn't matter to him that he gave aid and comfort to the enemy. It doesn't matter to him that it demoralizes the troops in harm's way in Iraq. It's all about him saying what will help him be confirmed as the secretary of defense.
WorldNetDaily's commentary page today includes a whopping seven columns attacking the Iraq Study Group report and its authors.
Joseph Farah leads the way with a broadside against ISG co-chairman James Baker, calling him "a legal pimp for Saudi Arabia" and a "Council on Foreign Relations hack." The report itself is called "lying, deceiving" and "evil."
Richard Booker ("a Christian minister and the founder and president of Sounds of the Trumpet Inc. and the Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies located in Houston, Texas") joins Farah in the Baker-bashing, claiming that Baker "identifies" with "an anti-Semitic British official" based on a senior thesis Baker wrote as a Princeton undergraduate.
Melanie Morgan branded the report "a complete failure" and the work of "milquetoast do-gooders and has-been Washington insiders."
WND's "letter of the week" comes from Tim Hirota, who wrote, "it would seem that the methodology of the 'Study Group' consisted of James Baker and Lee Hamilton sitting in front of the TV watching CNN 24/7. The Report reads more like a declaration and terms of surrender." He goes on to called Baker and Hamilton "simple-minded" and insist that "An honest look at the war on terror, viewed both by current standards as well as history," shows that "opinion is nearly unanimous: We are winning in a big way."
Ilana Mercer is slightly more constructive, attacking the report's suggestion that Israel cede control of the Golan Heights.
Aaron Klein's Terrorist Buddies Weigh In on ISG Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein reprises his old partisan trick of interviewing alleged "senior terrorist leaders" who support Democratic views or oppose Republican ones. This time, the subject is the Iraq Study Group report. Klein's conclusion: The ISG's "recommendations for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq and for dialogue with Iran and Syria proves 'Islamic resistance' works and America will ultimately be defeated."
This time around, the designated terrorists are Islamic Jihad's Abu Ayman and Abu Abdullah of Hamas -- who both appeared in Klein's last effort, in which they endorsed a Democratic victory in the midterm elections -- along with a new player, Abu Nasser of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Actually, Nasser has appeared in numerous Klein articles issuing reliably inflammatory statements:
A July 20 article quoted him as having "hinted" that his group "obtained anti-aircraft missiles, which the group could use to target Tel Aviv International Airport."
In a May 15 article, Klein quoted Nasser as saying that the death of a Florida teenager in a suicide bombing at an Israeli restaurant was a "gift from Allah" and revenge against American Jewish support for Israel.
A Feb. 21 article featured Nasser as claiming his group would not respect any cease-fire with Israel agreed to by Hamas.
We've previously speculated on the extent to which Klein and the terrorists are collaborating, and whether Klein is merely a dupe or, in fact, a knowing tool of the terrorists. Still, we have to wonder: Given the fact that Klein is a conservative Jew with sympathies toward extreme Israeli right-wingers who oppose Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, and his interview subjects have the stated goal of destroying the country where he lives, why doesn't Klein alert Israeli authorities to these terrorists' whereabouts -- since he obviously knows where to find them -- so the military can be sent in to deal with them?
Perhaps Klein is too cozy and too enamored with the propaganda value (not to mention the value to his journalism career) of his terrorist pals. Klein's gravy train, it seems, is more important than his country's security.
How Did Inhofe Get a CNS Article All to Himself? Topic: CNSNews.com
Among the threearticles that CNSNews.com devoted to reaction to the Iraq Study Group's report was this one by Nathan Burchfiel focusing exclusively on the views of Sen. James Inhofe (read: rewrote a press release). How did Inhofe manage to get such exclusive coverage from CNS?
One possible answer: A member of Inhofe's public relations team is Marc Morano, a former CNS reporter. Morano has been making his mark under Inhofe -- soon-to-be-outgoing chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works -- by issuing misleading press releases about global warming.
In a related note, another CNS article today by Randy Hall focuses on a hearing by Inhofe's committee on "the media's handling of climate change." One of the witnesses was Dan Gainor of the MRC's Business & Media Institute. Hall's article is surprisingly balanced for CNS, and it does disclose Gainor's ties to MRC.
(You may recall that Hall and Morano teamed up earlier this year on a smear job on Rep. John Murtha.)
WND Misquotes Will to Hide Will's Misquote Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 7 WorldNetDaily article on Les Kinsolving's question during a Dec. 6 White House press briefing regarding the encounter between President Bush and Sen.-elect Jim Webb not only embraces the inaccurate take on the incident by columnist George Will, it doctors a quote from Will's column to fix what he got wrong about the incident. From the article:
"Wednesday's Washington Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb 'tried to avoid President Bush,' refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, 'How's your boy?' Webb replied, 'I'd like to get them out of Iraq.' Bush said, 'That's not what I asked you. How's your boy?' Webb replied, 'That's between me and my boy,' Will wrote.
Here's what Will actually wrote in his Nov. 30 column:
Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."
WND added in that Bush said to Webb, "That's not what I asked you." While that accurately reflects what Bush said, WND is presenting it as what Will said Bush said -- which Will didn't, as we've noted.
Further, the headline of the WND article suggests that Webb issued a "threat" against Bush; in fact, the article itself states (accurately) that Webb "felt like slugging the president" over the question, which is not a threat. Further contradicting itself, the article also quotes White House press secretary Tony Snow saying, "There was no threat to slug the president."
Given this kind of sloppy, inaccurate reporting, maybe WND is better off writing about Dennis Miller's comedy routines.
New Article: The Macaca Never Ends Topic: Media Research Center
From the Out There file: The MRC's Tim Graham is out to make sure that if others won't let George Allen's infamous remark die, he won't either. Read more.
Devoting an entire one-sided "news" article about unverified claims by a disgruntled political analyst with a vendetta wasn't enough, apparently; WorldNetDAily's Joe Kovacs has decided to top himself in the category of lame, lazy news reporting. A Kovacs-bylined Dec. 6 WND article is devoted to Dennis Miller's recent appearance on Jay Leno.
That's right -- Kovacs devoted a "news" article to a comedy routine. And, as the links at the end of the article show, this is at least the thirdarticle Kovacs has devoted to Miller's comedy routine.
And this guy's an "executive news editor"? Shouldn't he be doing news editor-like things such as, say, addressing the anti-Olmert bias in Aaron Klein's articles?
Klein Ignores Political Agenda of Rabbis Endorsing Olmert Overthrow Topic: WorldNetDaily
A Dec. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Aaron Klein reported that a " group of prominent rabbinic leaders" urged Israelis to "launch a democratic uprising to bring down the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert." But Klein doesn't explain the political nature of the call -- which dovetails nicely with his own anti-Olmert agenda.
Klein reported that the call came from the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, "a coalition of over 1,200 rabbinic leaders and pulpit rabbis." But as blogger Richard Bartholomew points out, it's a right-leaning group that has opposed Olmert's plan of disengagement from Gaza and the West Bank (better known in Klein-speak as Judea and Samaria). Indeed, Klein has quoted members of the group on that subject before:
A June 29 article cited a "letter sent to Bush and signed by leaders of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace" claiming that Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza "is against U.S. interests, and that itviolates basic tenets of Jewish law."
A March 31 article reported on a press conference by the group, held to "blast Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to unilaterally withdraw from most of the West Bank and to urge religious Knesset parties to abstain from joining Olmert's newly elected government."
A Sept. 7, 2005, article detailed a claim by Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Lewin, the group's executive director, that Hurricane Katrina was "a consequence of the destruction of [Gaza's] Gush Katif [slate of Jewish communities] with America's urging and encouragement."
Strangely, Klein serves up none of this background on the Rabbinical Congress for Peace in his new article. Pointing out that this is little more than a ratcheting up of rhetoric from a group that has always opposed Olmert would seem to be relevant to readers. Instead, Klein presents the group's claims as if he had never written about them before -- an arguably dishonest stance.
But Klein is more than happy to take that stance because their goals -- removal of Olmert -- is Klein's as well, as we've detailed. Indeed, through his WND writing, Klein is doing the group's work in trying to foment that "uprising."
And the artist has perfected his craft in another medium with four best-selling books.
OK. Who is this "artist" whom WND deems worthy of such belabored, florid language?
Introducing "The Compleat Michael Savage Collection," a specially assembled and priced package of "The Savage Nation," "The Enemy Within," "Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder" and "The Political Zoo."
If you think whacked-out anti-gay, anti-liberal, sex-obsessed ranting is "art," sure, Savage is an "artist." But, in the rest of the world, Savage has the same connection to artistic endeavors as, say, slashfic.
On Tuesday, leaders of various "progressive" (liberal) organizations -- including Americans United, MoveOn.org, and the Campaign for America's Future -- gathered in Washington to organize support for the Democratic agenda.
We're not sure what the point is, but Jones is also on record, in an Oct. 30 article, using the inaccurate and derogatory term "Democrat Party."
Is WorldNetDaily's Joe Kovacs looking to step into the one-source-wonder shoes left behind by JonDougherty?
A Dec. 5 WND article by Kovacs repeats Dick Morris' unsupported assertion that should Hillary Clinton be elected to the presidency in 2008, "she won't use her married name of Clinton, but rather, her maiden name of Rodham." Not only does Kovacs make no apparent attempt to contact Clinton's office to respond to the claim, he also fails to note that Morris is hardly an objective or even reliable source about the Clintons. For instance, Media Matters has detailed how, in the course of attacking Clinton in his "rebuttal" to her "Living History" autobiography, Morris made numerous claims that contradicted things he had previously said about her and Bill Clinton.
Interestingly, NewsMax cribbed from the same Morris appearance on Fox News in which he made that claim. Like Kovacs, NewsMax didn't give Clinton a chance to respond or note Morris' hatred of the Clintons, but NewsMax at least had the good sense to not put a byline on it.