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Update: All The Wrong Reasons

Joseph Farah's columns are entertaining, though not for the reasons he hopes. Plus: a certified liar accuses another of being a certified liar, the Jon Dougherty Academy of Journalistic Balance, and more.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/15/2004
Updated 5/16/2004

Joseph Farah's WorldNetDaily column has been one to read of late, though probably not for the reasons he intended.

During an April 28 rant attacking anyone who criticized the death of Pat Tillman, who gave up a pro football career to enter the military, he makes sure to tie the critics to "Teresa Heinz Kerry's nonprofit Tides Center. She could be the next first lady of the United States." Farah goes on to say that "The Tides Center, a spinoff of the Tides Foundation, also funds an ostensibly independent group of relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 'Peaceful Tomorrows,' which recently expressed outrage over campaign ads by President Bush."

In his eagerness to smear John Kerry's wife with the actions of radicals, Farah get his facts all wrong. As ConWebWatch has noted previously, the Tides Center is not Teresa Heinz Kerry's group; the center states that the money given to it from Heinz endowments was earmarked for specific projects, none of which include the groups Farah accuses Heinz Kerry of supporting. Peaceful Tomorrows has denied that it has received any money directly from any Heinz endowments.

WND and Farah could report these facts, but it hasn't and probably never will since it's more convenient for them to have a political punching bag on hand.

On May 6, Farah went into an Al Gore-bashing tirade, calling him "a danger to the First Amendment" because Clark Jones, Gore's top fund-raiser in Tennessee, his home state, has sued WND for $165 million over an investigative series WND did in just before the 2000 election allegedly tying Gore to alleged members of rural Tennessee's "Hillbilly Mafia." Farah proudly proclaims that this series cost Gore victory in Tennessee, and therefore the presidency.

"Understand that this lawsuit would be dropped in a flat second if Al Gore wanted it to be dropped," Farah claims. "Understand that WND did nothing wrong and libeled no one in the publication of this exhaustive series. Understand that anyone who would support such a lawsuit has a real problem with a vigorous press doing investigative reporting into presidential candidates and their past."

Well, no, we don't; WND could easily put all of the court filings in the case online so readers can judge for themselves what they "understand." We do understand, however, that the United States Justice Foundation, which is representing WND in this matter (and whose address Farah puts at the end of his conlumn to encourage contributions), has gotten loads of free publicity in the form of fawning WND news stories -- most notably in its promotion of the USJF-employed lawyers facing "crippling sanctions" for filing frivolous motions. Come to think of it, we don't recall that in any of those WND stories featuring USJF that it was ever disclosed that WND had retained USJF for its Tennessee lawsuit ... you know, that run-of-the-mill disclosure of financial interests that most responsible news organizations do and WND almost never does.

In a May 12 rant, Farah attacks "pseudo-journalism" and implies WND is not: "I'm doing what I do today at WorldNetDaily, reinventing and redefining the role of journalism in America, because I didn't want to play the piano in the whorehouse."

Perhaps Farah could be taken more seriously on the issue of pseudo-journalism and "reinventing and redefining the role of journalism in America" if WND didn't have as its lead news story for part of that very same day Farah's column appeared a story touting "video footage of 11 unidentified flying objects that were only visible via an infrared camera." And that also the very same day 1) a WND "news" story plugged Farah's radio show, and 2) his guest that day was "a ghostwriter for Sen. Hillary Clinton and an expert on celebrity ghostwriting in America," who wouldn't be on Farah's show if he didn't have something catty to say about ol' Hil. And here it is: "Writing with Senator Clinton is like marrying Zsa-Zsa Gabor. ... You're guaranteed it'll be a bumpy ride and that it won't last long." Glad to know Farah's pushing aside that silly torture business to focus on what's really important to Americans and isn't afraid to ask the hard questions.

See? Farah's worth reading because you never know what goofy-ass thing he'll dissemble about next.

* * *

Speaking of the Jon Dougherty Academy of Journalistic Balance (which we were the other day), the man himself weighs in with his latest sycophantic masterpiece -- an April 29 profile on Michael Savage in which Dougherty not only throws around words like "phenomenal" and "remarkable success" but fails to say a word about Savage's disastrous foray into television, which ended when he told a caller to "get AIDS and die, you pig."

Wouldn't an accurately reported profile have mentioned that?

* * *

(click to enlarge)
Typo (or is it?) of the week: A May 4 column by conservative Paul Weyrich bidding a surprisingly fond tribute to liberal columnist Mary McGrory bears the headline: "Adieu, Ms. McGory."

We'd chalk that up to sloppy copy-editing, but more than a week later, "McGory" remained in all its insensitive glory. Has no one written them to complain?

* * *

You read it here first: ConWebWatch predicted a few short weeks back that if WorldNetDaily's Alexa ranking continued to slide, we would likely have to say goodbye to the Alexa counter on WND's front page.

And thus, it has come to pass: The Alexa counter is gone. Its traffic ranking: No. 1,057 at this writing, down from No. 419 just six months ago.

(Update: Just as mysteriously as it disappeared a few days ago, the Alexa counter has reappeared on the WND front page; it's rather far down on the left-hand bar, between the Trust-E and the ICRA icons. Gee, if they relented after reading this article, does that mean that Farah will now issue corrections for his columns? Don't count on it.)

* * *

A hearty welcome to David Brock's Media Matters to the conservative-media-watching universe. We need all the help we can get.

We were quite entertained by the New York Times' May 3 article on the group in the same way Farah's columns are so entertaining. The article gets a response from Brent Bozell, who denies claims that groups like his Media Research Center have pushed the media to the right, arguing instead that all it has done is merely "neutralize their credibility." Of course, when one neutralizes the credibility of other media groups, one runs the risk of neutralizing one's own credibility, which is why the easily demonstrated bias of, say, MRC-operated news subsidiary doesn't make it a credible alternative to the news organizations it's trying to discredit.

But that's not the entertaining part. That comes when Bozell says the problem with Media Matters "is that David Brock is a certified liar. ... He will forever have a credibility problem. One doesn't know what to believe in David Brock."

The joke here, of course, is that Bozell himself is a certified liar. His Parents Television Council paid $3.5 million to World Wrestling Entertainment over statements made by Bozell and others accusing the pro wrestling outfit of being responsible for the death of 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick because the boy who killed her, then-12-year-old Lionel Tate, was allegedly imitating wrestling moves he saw on TV.

In a statement of retraction, Bozell admitted that it was "incorrect" to say that pro wrestling played a role in Eunick's death and that statements were "incorrect" as well regarding claims that advertisers who had pulled their ads from WWE programming had never advertised there at all.

Bozell provides us the spectacle of a certified liar accusing someone else of being a certified liar. Isn't it ironic, doncha think?

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