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Update: The Old, Rugged, Torn-Down Moonie Cross

A NewsMax writer's prediction comes true, while WorldNetDaily still won't admit its business relationship with the Unification Church. Plus: WND admits (sorta) its financial interest in a story subject, Les Kinsolving keeps up his Helen Thomas-wannabe act, and WND shoots a messenger.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/23/2004

ConWebWatch recently noted a Dec. 20 NewsMax column by Kathleen Antrim who, in a flight of alarm over the alleged "silencing of America" (you know, those so-called attacks on Christmas and Christianity), stated: "I predict it won’t be long before churches have to remove their crosses from their steeples because they can be seen from public roads."

Actually, the removal of crosses from churches is happening -- just not for the reasons Antrim or other like-minded conservatives would suspect. In fact, it's a conservative ally that’s responsible.

Who is this nefarious conservative group? Why, none other than Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, benefactor of great conservative causes like Jerry Falwell, The Washington Times and United Press International. According to Moon watchdogger John Gorenfeld (writing at Gadflyer), a group calling itself the American Clergy Leadership Conference sponsored a nationwide "Tear Down The Cross" day for Easter 2003. While it claims to be a "rapidly growing movement of clergy committed to the endeavor of making this nation the best that it can be," Gorenfeld writes, it’s really just a branch of the Unification Church.

What is the rationale behind the tear-down-the-cross movement, target mainly at black-oriented churches? According to one pastor who took part in the ritual, Gorenfeld writes, "The fact that the cross is a symbol of division, shame, suffering and bloodshed prove that it is not of God but Satan." Gorenfeld's article is accompanied by a picture of a cross being thrown into a Dumpster.

Even more problematic, the group has been endorsed by, or at least graced by the presence of, as The Washington Times noted on Dec. 14, former Sen. Bob Dole and the former and current Presidents Bush.

Interestingly, WorldNetDaily picked up on Gorenfeld's work in a Dec. 21 article as part of its occasional war against Moon began when Gorenfeld publicized a ceremony held in a federal office building earlier this year in which Moon was crowned king. But for all of its Moon-bashing, WND has yet to publicly renounce its business relationship with Moon publications, which include a content-sharing agreement with the now-defunct Insight magazine and the appearance of the syndicated version of WND editor Joseph Farah's column in the national weekly edition of The Washington Times (we haven’t seen a copy of that particular edition lately, so we're not certain if Farah’s column still appears in it).

Also interestingly, WND credits Gorenfeld but fails to credit the site where his article appeared, Gadflyer. But then, Gadflyer is a generally liberal online publication that most people at WND wouldn't be caught dead reading.

* * *

If WorldNetDaily is still shy about admitting its connection with the Moon organization even as WND denounces Moon, it has finally surrendered to proper journalistic behavior in another area.

WND trotted out black conservative Jesse Lee Peterson in a Dec. 21 article to denounce Kwanzaa. But unlike many past trottings-out of Peterson, WND finally tells its readers of part of WND's financial interest in him, noting that Peterson is "author of WND Books' 'Scam.'"

Now, if WND will just tell its readers that Peterson belongs to WND's speakers bureau ...

* * *

WorldNetDaily's Les Kinsolving is still keeping up his Helen-Thomas-of-the-right act during White House briefings with more polemics posing as questions and getting facts wrong in the process.

On Dec. 21, Kinsolving had a nice long speech before he ever got around to his question (which wasn't really a question at all, just an attack on the "old big media"):

WND: Since both The Washington Times and The Maryville, Tennessee, Daily Times report that when Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Pitts rehearsed Army Specialist Thomas Wilson on what to ask Secretary Rumsfeld, the Pentagon had already up-armored 97 percent of the vehicles in Wilson's regimental combat team, and the last 20 of their 830 vehicles were in the up-armored pipeline, said General Speaks, in a Pentagon briefing last week --

[White House press secretary Scott] McCLELLAN: And your question.

WND: So my first question: What is the president's reaction to the fact that all of this was ignored by the old big media, like The Washington Post, who published a Page 1 poll reporting a majority want Rumsfeld to go?

Kinsolving shows that it's he, rather than The Washington Post, who's ignoring things. As it turns out, Pitts didn't "rehearse" Wilson; in an interview with Time magazine, Wilson said that while Pitts urged Wilson to come up with some "intelligent questions," it was Wilson, not Pitts, who came up with the question about the armor.

And the story that Kinsolving cites claiming that nearly all of the vehicles in Wilson's unit were armored reveals a lot more than the sound bite that Kinsolving claims the "old big media" isn't reporting. The first clue to that is Kinsolving's sourcing: those media titans "The Washington Times and The Maryville, Tennessee, Daily Times." The Media Research Center, which makes the same claim as Kinsolving about the unit's armor, traced the story from the Maryville Daily Times (a small daily paper in Tennessee) to Hearst Newspapers.

While it may be technically true that all but 20 of the vehicles in Wilson's unit had armor at the time of the question and those 20 had it added within 24 hours after the question was asked, the story also notes that more than half of the 830 vehicles in the 278th Regimental Combat Team had makeshift "hillbilly armor":

Another 459 vehicles had less protective, locally fabricated armor plate installed by GIs in Kuwait -- armor known to GIs as "hillbilly armor." Wilson's question referred to that type of ad hoc armor.

The MRC buried that statement in an excerpt from the article while it trumpeted that "[t]he truth trickled out .. up the media stream into NewsMax, the Washington Times and FNC, but not the other networks or major newspapers," and Kinsolving didn't mention that at all.

NewsMax's Dec. 19 story, from which Kinsolving apparently cribbed his question right down to the false claim that Pitts "rehearsed" Wilson, doesn't note that either. The NewsMax story even includes the question that Wilson asked -- "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" -- but given that Wilson was referring to "hillbilly armor," NewsMax claim that Wilson's question "was based on false information" is itself false.

* * *

While a U.S. Marine was accused of shooting an alleged Iraqi insurgent in a Fallujah mosque in November, WorldNetDaily was busy shooting the messenger.

A Nov. 17 WND story claims that Kevin Sites, the freelance photographer who shot the video footage of the Marine killing the insurgent, is "an anti-war activist whose photographs of Iraqi prisoners are featured on at least one anti-war website." WND also reproduced comments from a web site where Sites' have been posted calling Sites "a traitor and a terrorist sympathizer." WND presumably concurs with that opinion; otherwise, it would not have felt the need to personally attack a journalist for doing his job.

Les Kinsolving certainly seems to concur. His Nov. 27 WND column quotes at length from a Wall Street Journal editorial that said, in effect, that Americans shouldn't have to be subjected to Sites' footage.

But neither WND nor Kinsolving or the Wall Street Journal offer any evidence that Sites made up or embellished or doctored the footage to make it appear as if something other than what happened was depicted.

As Sites himself writes in a Nov. 22 article at

This week I've even been shocked to see myself painted as some kind of anti-war activist. Anyone who has seen my reporting on television or has read my dispatches is fully aware of the lengths I've gone to play it straight down the middle -- not to become a tool of propaganda for the left or the right.

But I find myself a lightning rod for controversy in reporting what I saw occur in front of me, camera rolling.

In the month since this article was published, WND has published no excerpts from it to balance its attacks against Sites. But, sadly, WND simply has no interest in that bedrock journalistic principle of fairness.

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