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WND vs. NYT — The Rest of the Story

Yes, WorldNetDaily compares itself to the Gray Lady, but Joseph Farah won't put his bad apples next to those of the Times.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/7/2003

WorldNetDaily vs. the New York Times?

Believe it or not, WND editor Joseph Farah makes exactly that comparison in "an important message to WND readers" June 18 in an attempt to drum up money for "voluntary subscriptions."

"To put a value on what we provide, we've decided to compare WorldNetDaily with the most famous and prestigious newspaper of all time, the New York Times," Farah writes.

Needless to say, Farah brings up only examples designed to make the Times look bad, such as Jayson Blair and the 70-year-old case of Walter Duranty, who "turned out to be an apologist for mass-murdering dictator Josef Stalin." No mention at all of the Pentagon Papers or even the Sullivan case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Times in a decision that cemented the First Amendment right to criticize public officials. As far as Farah is concerned, the Times is "the voice of the East-coast, big-government establishment" with " an ominous dark side."

Whereas "readers looking for such fearless investigative reporting and intrepid exposure of corruption look to WorldNetDaily – now the world's largest independent English-language news website with about 5 million readers." (And we now have WND's definition of "independent": A July 2 story touting the popularity of Internet news sites with talk-radio listeners, notes that "WorldNetDaily is the largest Internet-only – or independent – newssite in the world." It's a creative definition, and as we knew all along, it has nothing to do with WND's undeniable political slant.)

Let's stop right there. If we're going to focus on the negative as Farah does (then again, he doesn't even offer any examples of WND's "fearless investigative reporting"), let's take a look at WND in the same light.

We can start with WND's disingenuous behavior in reporting anything about the Clintons, which is relentlessly negative and generally ignores exculpatory facts. It happened a few years back with the death of a man tangentially linked to Bill Clinton and continues to this day, most recently with coverage of Hillary Clinton's new book. Otherwise, why would it (along with the rest of the ConWeb) make such a big deal out of books that are, at least temporarily, outselling it on the list?

WorldNetDaily is plugging this book's brief ranking ahead of Hillary Clinton's book on the list — but wants you to buy it from the WND store.

WND's biggest case, besides Ann Coulter's new book, is a title "tying the recent (Iraq) war to Bible prophecy." In a June 23 story plugging some of the author's assertions, it links to an earlier WND story that trumpeted the fact that it moved ahead of Hillary's book. The later story, neglects to tell how long that lead lasted; we suspect it wasn't very long -- a day at most -- given that the boost came from a full-page ad in USA Today. Neither does that story say that on the day it appeared, the book it was plugging was ranked at No. 280 on the list. (And as of this writing, Hillary's "Living History" was No. 9 at Amazon, while the Iraq-prophecy book was at No. 599.)

And isn't it odd that WND is trumpeting a book's ranking on Amazon when it really wants you to buy the book from the WND store?

Then, there's a June 18 story, complete with photo, showing a copy of Hillary's book in the science-fiction of a large chain bookstore. The unbylined story says the book was in the display for "at least two hours," yet WND is johnny-on-the-spot in snapping a shot of it, never mind that most large retail chains don't allow people to take photos inside their stores. The story also quotes a bookstore worker as saying "a mischievous customer" was responsible; one has to wonder if said customer wasn't a WND employee.

The whole thing screams of a setup. Did Jayson Blair get a job at WND? Or is just WND's "dark side"?

WND has also had its Duranty-like moments in ignoring or denying views that don't fit with its conservative worldview. Exhibit No. 1: Jon Dougherty, the one-source wonder who frequently can't be bothered to tell the whole story on an issue, whether he's whitewashing the acts of an anti-abortion activist or trying to win clemency for a convicted conservative or (as noted earlier) ignoring relevant facts in order to bash a Clinton.

Exhibit No. 2: Jack Cashill, who wrote a seven-part series for WND trying to make the case that James Kopp did not kill an abortion doctor. Unfortunately for Cashill, Kopp confessed to the crime -- but neither he nor WND could be bothered to offer any original coverage of that.

Then, there's that Jayson Blair-like plagiarism problem. WND has a habit of lifting items from wire services like the Associated Press for its own stories without credit. WND's response so far, detailed in a June 28 "Backroom" e-mail newsletter, has been an everybody-does-it defense, accusing the AP of stealing its stories on various occasions and running a June 25 story in which a freelance writer makes the same accusation. WND offers another view of its tussle with AP in its June 21 "Backroom":

By the way, you might get a kick out of the fact that the AP recently sent a letter to WorldNetDaily threatening suit over citations of AP work within WorldNetDaily stories. In other words, the AP was bugged that WorldNetDaily was properly CREDITING AP work. Our lawyer told their lawyer to go jump in the lake -- that we'll consider their request when they stop stealing WorldNetDaily's work.

WND is clearly not going to say anything to make it look bad, but we would venture to guess that AP was concerned about WND's practice of lifting news stories from all over and rewriting them (credited or otherwise) under its own byline, and that AP's problem was with the volume at which WND does this. AP would have a point, and a possible legal basis for a lawsuit, on such an argument -- what WND is doing is de facto stealing, after all, and there's no good reason why WND shouldn't pay for what it uses like almost every other news operation in the country does. As much as Farah and WND beats up on the "old media" like the Times, as Farah did on June 21, they sure provide him with a lot of copy for his site.

And then, there's the slanted poll reporting. The distorted political crusades. The slightly reworked press releases masquerading as news stories.

Really, though, all one needs to know about how objective Farah and WND is about the Times is that WND's book division is publishing a tome on why the Times "can no longer be trusted" and how it "has replaced its original noble mission to present straight news with a new subversive mission to manipulate attitudes and promote leftist agendas." WND, after all, has no qualm about using "news" stories to plug its books, as it did with Katherine Harris. All you have to do to that promo blurb is substitute the word "leftist" for "rightist" and you would have a pretty accurate description of WorldNetDaily. (And we're giving Farah a lot of leeway in allowing the assumption that he had a "noble mission" in starting WND to stand unchallenged.)

It turns out that WND has a lot more in common with the New York Times than Joseph Farah would have you think.

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