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The Business Sect(ion)

WorldNetDaily teams with a ministry to offer business news. Plus: Whatever happened to that NewsMax IPO?

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/17/2003

WorldNetDaily has been in a bit of an expansion mode lately. One new initiative is a page dedicated to business news, unsurprisingly called BizNetDaily. It follows the WND formula of aggregated (outside link) business stories combined with original commentary.

The twist here is WND's partner in creating this page. It's a magazine called Business Reform, and WND CEO Joseph Farah describes the folks behind it as "people who share our unique perspective on the news and our view of the world."

So, what is Business Reform? It describes itself as "a Christian ministry approaching today's business issues from a Christian worldview and assisting Christian businesspeople through publications, audio resources, conferences and seminars, networking, and consulting." A blurb on the magazine's Web site describes it as "may well be the most important unifying literary voice now emerging in God's obvious global call to those in the marketplace."

Now, we're not knocking the idea of Biblical principles in the workplace -- after the recent scandals of Enron and its ilk, a focus on ethical business practices is certainly in order. But the focus on the Biblical seems to be coming at the expense of solid, balanced journalism.

Take, for example, an article on Pat Robertson (registration required to view) featured on the Business Reform Web site. It's a total puff piece, uncritically recounting his business and ministerial successes and dripping with prose like, "Pat continues to work hard and to serve as a bright example of dedication to the Lord's work in the business world." You won't, however, find any mention of Robertson's recent business debacles: investments in a gold mine in Liberia and an oil refinery in California that as of June 2002 resulted in losses of $78 million.

You'd think a publication that focuses on the intersection of business and the Bible might be interested in something like that. Apparently not.

But hey, that's the kind of journalism WND engages in as well -- puff pieces on people it likes (like anti-abortion extremists), hatchet jobs on people it doesn't (like Patty Murray). An example of the way this works at BizNetDaily is the work of T.C. Webster, who writes on Internet issues. His Feb. 18 column gives a big smooch to the Web site run by Bill Gertz, a Clinton-bashing, Regnery-published writer for the Washington Times. Another column seems to engage in schadenfreude as it details apparent declines in traffic on the Web site of Bill O'Reilly, who pulled his weekly column from WND late last year.

Is this the "unique perspective on the news" WND claims it shares with Business Reform? It's something to keep in mind the next time WND claims it's "independent."

* * *

WorldNetDaily has another new side project, called G2 Bulletin -- "a subscription-based, online weekly intelligence newsletter utilizing sources of information (Joseph Farah) has developed over 25 years as a journalist. Or, as Farah himself describes it:

    For many years I have wanted to have a forum like this for stories I come across that are not necessarily double-sourced for the standards of daily journalism, yet they are leads and reports that are very reliable and from very credible sources. My sources are in the Pentagon, on the scene in the Persian Gulf, in Afghanistan, in Israel, in the CIA, the NSA and, of course, military intelligence.

In other words, essentially a high-class version of the Drudge Report. Which isn't that much of a surprise, given that WND regularly features a link to the Drudge Report prominently at the top of its front page. And we do mean high class -- a year's subscription to G2 Bulletin will set you back $199.

The ultimate value of such a newsletter, though, is the credibility of its operator. Given what we know about WorldNetDaily, another Farah creation, we can expect the same kind of biases found at WND to show up at G2 Bulletin. The first hint of that: The site's claim that it's "Your Independent, Online Intelligence Resource." As ConWebWatch has demonstrated, "independent" doesn't mean unbiased as far as Farah is concerned.

* * *

Yes, you too can get a piece of WorldNetDaily -- for a price. The following notice appeared in a couple recent issues of WND's e-mail-only "Backroom" newsletter:

    Occasionally, WorldNetDaily offers opportunities to a limited number of accredited private investors to purchase stock in the company.

    While there is no private offering under way at this time, you can sign up for notifications of such opportunities in the future by subscribing to our free investors list. You will not be bombarded with email. This list has only one purpose and it is meant for accredited investors only - those with annual incomes of $200,000 or more or net assets of $1 million or more.

    If you qualify and are interested in learning more about WorldNetDaily business opportunities, please click ...

That's the kind of coin it takes to be a player in the ConWeb. It's a shame Joseph Farah doesn't trust his readers enough to tell them who the investors who back up WND with their millions are so they can judge for themselves just how "independent" WND is.

* * *

Speaking of investing in the ConWeb, what happened to that NewsMax stock offering ConWebWatch wrote about way back when?

Very little, actually. After the intial filing was made to the Securites and Exchange Commission nearly a year ago, things just seemed to stall out. Last September, NewsMax's hometown newspaper, the Palm Beach Post, reported that parent company NewsMax Media had apparently ditched the IPO given the shaky state of the stock market, also noting that NewsMax Media had raised $2 million in a private placement.

But three weeks later, the Post ran a correction, quoting a NewsMax official (none could be reached for the original story) as saying that "the filing is active and the company has not contemplated withdrawing it."

Since then, nothing. No more SEC filings, nada.

NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy was quoted by the Palm Beach Post last February, when the IPO was first filed, as saying "The private market for our sector has not been the best route. ... We believe there's strong support in the public market for what we're doing."

Given the stalled IPO and NewsMax's history of losses, perhaps not.

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