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Update: Insight in Hindsight

WorldNetDaily's Moonie-owned content-sharing partner gets cut to the bone. Plus: WND finds new ways to count ratings, Jon Dougherty finds a new way to be biased, an Accuracy in Media writer contradicts himself in the space of four paragraphs, and more.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/22/2004

WorldNetDaily's content-sharing partner seems to be in big trouble.

Insight magazine, operated by Moonie-controlled News World Communications, is losing 17 staffers, which will cut the number of workers there to a barebones five. Two other publications, The World and I magazine and Noticias del Mundo newspaper, are being shut down competely.

As a Washington Times story notes, Insight's circulation is a paltry 30,000. The remaining staffers will be on hand to study "various future options," according to a spokesperson. That may include shutting down completely, since blogger John Gorenfeld reports that a Moon mailing list stated that Insight was going out of business along with the other two publications. (WND, by the way, has yet to report any of this on its site.)

Gorenfeld, meanwhile, thinks it's kinda cute that the Times article "acts like advertising is a factor in the health of Moon's publications, as if they followed the rules of normal newspapers and weren't vastly money-losing by default, with a business model based on selling overpriced religious figurines to Japanese widows." The Times is, of course, another News World publication that by Rev. Moon's own admission has lost well over billion dollars in its existence.

Between WND's falling Alexa ratings (No. 919 at this writing, down from No. 419 a mere six months ago) and Insight's fading fortunes, there seems to be a trend emerging. It might have something to do with those editorials-posing-as-investigative-journalism both WND and Insight like to run. Like this Insight piece posted April 17 at WND, in which writer John Berlau, in the midst of attacking "would-be plutocrats" George Soros, Warren Buffett and William Gates Sr. for being critical of President Bush, drops in a comment from the Media Research Center's Tim Graham lamenting that conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife -- who has donated to the MRC and the Western Journalism Center, under whose aegis WorldNetDaily was created, and is the third largest shareholder in NewsMax -- is never described as a philanthropist. Berlau adds: "This was so even though the sums he gave to conservative and anti-Clinton groups were a fraction of his giving. Scaife gave mostly to ballet companies and other cultural institutions in his hometown of Pittsburgh, carefully keeping his economic interests separated from his philanthropy."

Ballet-lover is a much more warm and fuzzy term for Scaife than Clinton-hater, doncha think?

A Soros spokesman got in one on-the-mark criticism in the article, though. Berlau got what he called "an unusually hostile response" from the spokesman, who said: "I have no faith in the ability or desire of Insight magazine to portray George Soros' activities in an unbiased manner."

* * *

Speaking of WorldNetDaily's Alexa rating: They're no longer touting it, though the Alexa counter is still on WND's front page (though look for that to abruptly disappear if its traffic slide continues). So it's looking for ever-more-obscure methods of promoting its popularity.

Which leads to an April 21 story promoting WND's No. 1 ranking in the "News, Web Directories, Headline Indices" sub-subcategory of someplace called Though when you go to that page and click "next," you'll discover that there are no other web sites in that category beyond the 13 listed -- which somehow includes no mainstream news organizations but does include NewsMax.

WND has another reason to like over Alexa -- it puts WND's traffic at No. 584, a bit higher than Alexa's No. 919.

The WND story continues to promoted a distortion of fact about its alleged popularity; it promotes WND's No. 1 ranking in Alexa's News and Media category but fails to state that it's only among conservative sites, not all web sites.

Like we once noted -- when the numbers don't fall your way, change the way you count.

* * *

Having explored the one-source and rewriting-press-releases methods of journalistic bias, NewsMax’s Jon Dougherty is expanding his horizons by writing slanted leads.

An April 14 article states that John McCain is "throwing his weight behind the so-called 'global warming' movement." And an April 15 story starts: "Today may end tax season for the living, but dying can be a tax nightmare – especially in some states that see a person’s passing as a windfall for big government." Later, he refers to "the so-called 'death tax.'" (Yet NewsMax never calls it "so-called partial-birth abortion.")

Too bad, since the stories that follow these leading leads aren't half-bad. We hoped Dougherty would grow as a journalist, but finding new and exciting ways to add bias isn't what we intended.

* * *

Cliff Kincaid just out-and-out contradicts himself in an April 19 Accuracy in Media column.

Kincaid starts off by noting the Toledo Blade's Pulitzer Prize for its "Tiger Force" series detailing an attack on unarmed civilians by U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. He first turns snide -- "Of course, getting such a prize doesn't make a story true" -- then he proceeds to recount the stories of Janet Cooke and Walter Duranty, Pulitzer winners whose work was questioned and/or repudiated. Surprisingly, he also mentions disgraced USA Today reporter Jack Kelley, who "was nominated by his editors for a Pulitzer Prize five times." (Surprising because conservatives have been staying far away from the case of Kelley, an evangelical Christian.)

After a short detour into criticizing John Kerry's military record -- for conservatives have to bash somebody and Bill Clinton isn't running for anything this year -- Kincaid writes in paragraph five: "We don't pass judgment on the Toledo Blade series, except to say that the allegations were investigated and the case was closed without charges being filed."

Horsepuckey. Kincaid did so pass judgment on the Blade series by mentioning it in the same breath as Cooke, Duranty and Kelley while offering no evidence whatsoever that anything the Blade wrote was incorrect. As for Kincaid's conveniently sudden faith in official government investigations, we have AIM's obsession with the death of Vince Foster to demonstrate otherwise.

The funny thing is, AIM once held the story up as good reporting. Of course, the point of Notra Trulock's article back in January was to bash the New York Times' treatment of the same subject.

* * *

A recurring theme recurs again: Yet another WorldNetDaily story on Jesse Lee Peterson neglects to mention WND's financial interests in him as publisher of a book he wrote and as a member of WND's speaker's bureau.

The April 9 story, like many of the others WND has written about him, gives no opposite view to whatever it is that Peterson is advocating.

Speaking of people WND refuses to be critical of, there's a new fave on the block -- William Donohue of the conservative Catholic League. Several recent WND stories stem from Catholic League press releases, like this April 20 story prominently featuring Donohue attacking anyone who criticizes President Bush for allegedly being a bit too religious. (Here's the press release, which is structured exactly the same way as the WND story.) He was all over WND defending Mel Gibson and his movie, "The Passion of the Christ."

Les Kinsolving, WND's man at the White House, likes to quote him, too. He even once wrote that Donohue is "incapable of ever writing a dull press release."

Shades of NewsMax's fetish with everything that came out of Judicial Watch during the Clinton administration. Fortunately, WND probably doesn't have to worry about Donohue pulling a Larry Klayman and start applying the same standards to conservatives that he does to liberals.

* * *

This month's most desperate ploy to sell books: An April 8 WorldNetDaily article tries to paint Michael "Get AIDS And Die, You Pig" Savage as a warm and fuzzy guy with a series of pictures from his WND-published book "The Enemy Within" featuring Savage (nee Weiner) with his mom and with his dog. (The fact that WND published said book is nowhere in the article, just in a tiny "kicker" above the headline.)

Yeah, but does Savage donate to the ballet?

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