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Zero Tolerance for Honest Reporting

WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah attacks the attorney general-designate for following the law, then demands the end of politically biased reporting -- not that WND itself has any intention of doing so.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/15/2004

In a prime example of the kind of absolutist, zero-tolerance agenda conservatives advocate, WorldNetDaily alleges Alberto Gonzales not be worthy of being attorney general for -- get this -- following the law.

"Only months before being appointed by Bush as his top lawyer, Gonzales cast the tie-breaking vote in the Texas Supreme Court against a parental-consent requirement before a minor could obtain an abortion in the state," WND editor Joseph Farah wrote in a Nov. 11 commentary.

That's a bit misleading; what Gonzales voted for was to allow a minor to seek an abortion without parental consent -- which Texas law permits, under a clause that allows a minor to petition a judge to get permission without notifying the parents if it is determined the minor is "mature and sufficiently well informed to make the decision" or that "notification would not be in the best interest of the minor" or may result in "physical, sexual, or emotional abuse."

While Farah complained that "Gonzales continually approved such petitions for judicial bypass of parental notification," he offered no reason why the judicial bypass clause is a bad thing beyond the implicit belief that there shouldn't even be a judicial bypass. He did, however, link to a December 2000 WND story about Gonzales that focused on his ruling. (Remember what ConWebWatch wrote previously about Farah's foolish reliance on WND as a source of information?)

(A sidelight to this particular case is that one of the Texas justices who voted on the other side to reject that minor's petition for a judicial bypass was Priscilla Owen, whom President Bush nominated to a federal court seat. According to the New York Times, Owen had earlier written that she believed a minor would have to demonstrate that she knew there were religious objections to abortion and that some women who underwent abortions had experienced severe remorse. Owen has been previously rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Bush has renominated her.)

In that 2000 WND story, Joe Pojman, head of the Greater Austin Right to Life Committee (now, apparently, the Texas Alliance for Life) said of the judicial-bypass hearings: "The parents are not in any way represented at these hearings. We thought a little more deference ought to be given to the parents."

Wait. The whole point of the judicial bypass hearing is whether to determine if the minor will be subjected to, according to the Texas law, "physical, sexual, or emotional abuse," and Pojman wants parents involved, thereby defeating the purpose of the judicial bypass?

Never mind Farah's conservatively correct rant against judges who believe in a so-called "living Constitution." He cares nothing about "original intent" or anything like that. Farah backs an harsh, absolutist, exclusionary agenda, and he's using the slanted "news" of WorldNetDaily to try and accomplish that. Farah's criticism of Gonzales ties in with a Nov. 10 "news" article on Gonzales that led with the exact same criticism. This is the guy, after all, who condoned the killing of adulterers, which is a further clue to the kind of repressive society he advocates.

(Farah's column, by the way, is a mild rewrite of a May 2002 column that said pretty much the same thing about Gonzales, using most of the same exact words. Farah, in effect, plagiarized himself, not a surprise considering WND's quite liberal policy of lifting news from other sources and placing it under its own byline.)

There's a fundamental dishonesty at work here. Farah's and WND's refusal to state its bias outright -- that it opposes any exemptions to parental-notification laws and anyone who supports exemptions -- reflects Farah's continued attempts to publicly deny that WND is conservative despite continually mounting evidence to the contrary.

Ultimately, WorldNetDaily is certainly not "independent," as Farah insists, and it may not even be "conservative," as any casual reader figures out quickly. It is dishonest, the worst thing a "news" organization can be.

* * *

WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah tried, and failed, in a Nov. 5 column to do a pox-on-both-your-houses approach on remarks by Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, in line to become the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that, in Farah's words, "warned the president to avoid naming pro-life justices to the Supreme Court."

He predictably attacked Specter as being "way out of the mainstream of his party, a radical on the issue of abortion even by the standards of the other party" -- meaning he doesn't agree with Farah that abortion should be outlawed completely -- but he also went after the reporter who cited Specter, Associated Press reporter Lara Jakes Jordan.

Apparently in a recycling mood, as his Gonzales criticism redux shows, Farah repeated the attacks on Jordan he made in April 2003, when she did a story on the other Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum, that featured remarks interpreted by many as anti-homosexual. According to Farah, Jordan is married to a "veteran Democratic Party operative" and "was one of the signatories on a letter to her bosses at the AP attacking the news organization for 'rolling back diversity' by not extending benefits to domestic partners." But Farah has other problems with her as well.

Jordan writes "screeds that somehow pass as news reports," Farah said, adding that she "has betrayed a partisan ideological agenda in stories over and over again." Farah concluded that the AP "owes the American people an apology for continuing to assign Lara Jakes Jordan to politically sensitive stories."

So how is that different from the writers at WorldNetDaily? As ConWebWatch noted the last time Farah attacked Jordan, Farah demands from the AP what he refuses to put in practice at WorldNetDaily. Slantie Award winner Jon Dougherty was a longtime WND writer despite his unbalanced, politically motivated stories. WND recently hired Jerome Corsi as a columnist and author despite his history of bigotry and lack of credibility. The dozens of stories on the discredited anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth WND ran without once fact-checking anything the group had to say, while all but ignoring President Bush's questionable National Guard record, are yet more evidence that WND's writers and editors are politically motivated. And Farah himself is guilty of refusing to report facts that contradict his criticism of Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Like Santorum before him, Specter claimed that Jordan painted him in a false light. Farah defended Santorum for speaking "candidly, dispassionately and accurately" yet calling Jordan's article "dripping in venom. It's an editorial camouflaged as a news story." Now, Farah believes Specter "said something very close to that, though he denies it now" (and WND has promoted the grassroots campaign to keep Specter out of the Judiciary Committee chairmanship) and reiterated that Jordan should still be fired, or at least "has no business covering politics for the Associated Press."

If Farah applied the standards he wants the AP to follow to WorldNetDaily, he'd have to fire his entire staff. And then himself.

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