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Never Complain, Never Explain

WorldNetDaily prints stories that correct flawed facts, but the original flawed stories remain on WND's web site, uncorrected.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/29/2004

Despite Joseph Farah's repeated claims that WorldNetDaily cares about "truth and accuracy," WND really cares little at all for it, as ConWebWatch has repeatedly demonstrated.

While Farah and WND have never corrected, let alone admitted, the factual errors ConWebWatch has documented, it has printed what amounts to updates of stories that later turned out to be erroneous. But the rest of the news media had to as well, and WND never admits that it spread the original, flawed stories, let alone correct or delete them.

A Sept. 24 WND story states that "The source of a discredited CBS News report on President Bush's National Guard service says Kerry campaign adviser Joe Lockhart asked him for the supporting memos, which now are regarded as forgies [sic]," citing the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a source.

But later in the day, WND had a second story: "The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says it incorrectly cited Bush critic Bill Burkett saying he had discussed the descredited [sic] CBS documents with Kerry campaign adviser Joe Lockhart. In a correction, the paper reported Burkett was referring to CBS, not Lockhart, when he said, 'They tried to convince me as to why I should give them the documents.'"

The new story, however, does not indicate that WND published the original, incorrect statement, and the first story is still on its web site, uncorrected. A person reading the original WND story would never know that it's factually false.

This happened a few days earlier as well. A Sept. 20 WND story stated: "In her latest outburst against her political enemies, Teresa Heinz Kerry called her detractors "scumbags" during an interview with a Pittsburgh TV anchorwoman," citing The New Yorker as a source. This turned out to be wrong, too.

So WND had a follow-up story the next day: " Teresa Heinz Kerry did not call her detractors 'scumbags' as reported by New Yorker magazine, according to the television station that conducted the interview from which the comment was taken." As in the previous example, the original story stands on the WND site uncorrected.

Both stories, ironically, link to WND's own flawed reporting on a previous Heinz Kerry remark, telling the editorial page editor of a conservative newspaper to "shove it." WND failed to add some important context to her remark -- namely, that said newspaper, the Richard Mellon Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, has a history of hostile coverage of Heinz Kerry and her husband, John Kerry (as ConWebWatch has previously noted).

Then again, any faux outrage WND was trying to peddle in Heinz Kerry's (incorrect) remark rings hollow; back in September 1998, Farah endorsed Rep. Dan Burton when he called Bill Clinton that very same word. "How does it feel to be sitting in the most powerful office in the world and know that you are, when you get right down to it, little more than worthless pond scum?" And in January 1999, Farah called Clinton "a crook, a charlatan, an abusive, lying, virtueless scumbag. "Farah clearly has no problem using such a word to describe his political enemies, so why should he be shocked that Heinz Kerry might be doing it?

This is the peril of WND's policy of wholesale theft of others' news stories. Once you stop doing your own reporting and start doing the Internet equivalent of rip-and-read, you're at the peril of those organizations that you lift from. While it reduces the risk of libel lawsuits, Farah also seems to think it absolves him of the responsibility of correcting errors that appear on WND because his reporters didn't make them. (And judging by the number of [sic]s we added, Farah and WND apparently also don't feel the responsibility to run a simple spell-check on their stories.)

Farah wrote a month ago: "If I make a mistake in WorldNetDaily -- a factual error -- I will be corrected by readers within minutes of its appearance." Just not at WorldNetDaily itself, as it is becoming increasingly clear.

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