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Leading By (Bad) Example

ConWeb distortions about John Kerry and his wife continue: Joseph Farah makes an assertion he that doesn't back up and that the evidence contradicts, and NewsMax yet again fails to tell the whole truth.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/15/2004

Joseph Farah hates John Kerry. There's no two ways around it.

In addition to using his own WorldNetDaily "news" pages to spread lies about an alleged affair, Farah has called Kerry "a privileged rich boy," "traitorous," "rotten to the core," and, of course, "truly dangerous ... truly contemptuous ... truly egomaniacal ... truly without character ... truly transparent as a political huckster and charlatan." (Then again, Farah also said that "Hillary Clinton will be the nominee of her party for president in 2004.")

Hey, that's Farah's opinion, and he's entitled to it. But does Farah hate Kerry so much that he is willing to present lies as truth? It sure looks that way -- after all, he has done that once already with the "affair" stories.

Farah put his own byline on a March 6 story that claims in its lead paragraph that "The non-profit, tax-exempt organization representing the families of September 11 victims who are critical of campaign ads by President Bush is a project of the Tides Center, which has received millions of dollars in charitable contributions from foundations chaired by Teresa Heinz Kerry."

His second paragraph merely restates the first, then he claims that "The group delivered up to the New York Daily News Thursday opponents to attack President Bush's re-election campaign ads. None of the critics of the ads in that original story were identified as members of Peaceful Tomorrows," which he claims once again are "members of an activist organization, supported with tax-exempt Heinz funds, with a specifically anti-Bush agenda."

Nowhere in this story does Farah offer any evidence to back up his claim that Heinz money goes to Peaceful Tomorrows nor any examples of how the group's alleged agenda is "specifically anti-Bush." He doesn't even pretend he's fair and balanced -- you know, like any other journalist would do -- and make an attempt to get a response from the people and foundations he criticizes.

It turns out that there may be a very good reason he doesn't offer any evidence of this -- there isn't any.

As noted by David Neiwert at Orcinus, Peaceful Tomorrows has issued a press release denying any connection to Kerry and his wife:

  • September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows has never received funding from the Howard Heinz Endowment, the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, Teresa Heinz Kerry or John Kerry.
  • Peaceful Tomorrows has no connection with the Heinz or Kerry families through Tides Foundation, the Tides Center or any other entity.
  • Peaceful Tomorrows has been a not-for-profit project of the Tides Center since July of 2002. As our fiscal sponsor, the Tides Center provides administrative and financial services that allow the staff and membership of Peaceful Tomorrows to focus on work related to our mission. We raise money for our own work and we pay Tides Center 9% of those funds in exchange for vital services such as invoice payment, tax services, and insurance.

Peaceful Tomorrow's FAQ blows more holes into Farah's story, pointing out that "As a 501c3 nonprofit project of The Tides Center, we cannot, and do not, endorse any candidate for political office, including the office of the presidency."

In addition, the Tides Foundation, reacting to reports by WND (as well as the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and Rush Limbaugh) that Teresa Heinz Kerry donated millions to the Tides Foundation -- "more than $4 million to the Tides Foundation between 1995 and 2001," according to a Feb. 23 WND story -- the foundation issued its own press release saying that "Tides Foundation ... has made four grants to Peaceful Tomorrows in 2002 and 2003 for a combined total of $34,665" and that "The Heinz Endowments have granted Tides Foundation a total of $230,000 dispensed between 1994 and 1998. These grants were to support a pollution prevention initiative and other environmentally friendly practices by industries in Western Pennsylvania."

Taking those two releases together, it appears that the relationship between Peaceful Tomorrows and Tides isn't all that different from the one between WND and the Western Journalism Center -- which also is a nonprofit organization but has a conservative agenda that's much more "specific" that Farah has documented for Peaceful Tomorrows -- so Farah ought to be familiar with that kind of thing. Running administrative functions isn't what one thinks of when one hears the term "specifically anti-Bush."

But there's a big difference between $230,000 and $4 million. Farah hasn't come back to the subject, nor has WND run the responses of either Peaceful Tomorrows or Tides. The smear has been made, and that's apparently enough for him.

The argument for Farah is that Farah may be preaching to the choir (albeit a shrinking one -- the latest Alexa ranking for WND is No. 731, down from near 400 just a few months ago). One recent poll asked, "What do you think of John Kerry?" The two top responses, with a total of 87 percent of the vote: "He was a traitor in 1971, and he's a traitor now" and "He's too dangerous for America."

WND may be turning into Kerry-hater central, but Farah might want to get his facts straight first, even though it defeats the purpose of choir-preaching since the choir will apparently believe anything he tosses out there, true or otherwise.

* * *

NewsMax also hasn't been immune to the lie-about-Kerry bug. Hesiod at Counterspin notes a May 2003 NewsMax story on what it calls "John Kerry's Newt Gingrich Problem?" Like Gingrich, NewsMax alleges that Kerry dumped his first wife, Julia Thorne, in the midst of her suffering from health problems (in this case, severe depression), which NewsMax uses to paint Kerry as "a ruthless political opportunist."

Problem is, like Farah, "Carl Limbacher and Staff" decided not to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

According to a 1994 Boston Globe article, Thorne states that she was the one who left Kerry, not the other way around "because I had to be on my own. I had to force myself to be my own person, to call my own shots. My choice was not to do this within my marriage. It was very hurtful to John. ..."

NewsMax also writes that Thorne wrote a letter of opposition to the Wash in ton, D.C., archdiocese when Kerry, a Catholic, applied for an annulment of his marriage to Thorne so he could marry Teresa Heinz. NewsMax slants it as another bit of cruelty by Kerry to his ex.

Hesiod cites an article -- from the Washington Times, no less -- in which Thorne said she was merely opposed to the validity of the church proceeding and that the church's approach to the issue was "disrespectful to me ... and devoid of any sense of the humanity of what this means to me and the children."

And, according to the Washington Times, "she still supports Mr. Kerry politically and is glad he is happy in his new marriage to Heinz food fortune heiress Teresa Heinz."

NewsMax, surprisingly, does note that Thorne said she is "100 percent behind" Kerry, which somewhat undercuts its case. Imagine if NewsMax had told the entire truth -- well, there wouldn't be a NewsMax story.

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