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WND Is a Joke

As if all the fake news and anti-Kerry news wasn't enough, WorldNetDaily lies about its own self-promotion. Yet Joseph Farah laments the lack of serious political debate.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/14/2004

ConWebWatch has been quite critical of WorldNetDaily in recent weeks, and for good reason. The hatred of John Kerry by editor Joseph Farah and his staff is so visceral, so embedded, that they will latch on to anything that even remotely appears that it will be less than favorable to Kerry.

Yet Farah not only fails to understand the destructiveness of this behavior to his own reputation, he's letting that poisonous attitude spill over onto other subjects WND covers. He devoted a second column Sept. 8 (one wasn't enough, apparently) on the hair-splitting over how just because Illinois Senate candidate Alan Keyes called homosexuals practitioners of "selfish hedonism" and because he agreed with a reporter that Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, is by definition one of those too, it doesn't mean that Keyes called her a "selfish hedonist."

Toward the end of his harangue, Farah asks: "Can we have a serious political debate in this country any more?"

Apparently not -- and Farah is one of the reasons why. And not just because his question appears in a rant titled "Simpletons in the press."

Farah and WND have printed, by ConWebWatch's count, at least 63 "news" stories about Kerry's Vietnam service -- nearly all of which are slanted against Kerry. (That total does not include opinion columns that are, if anything, even more slanted.) Meanwhile, WND ran just one news story on George W. Bush's National Guard service until the recent controversy over allegedly forged memos -- and unsurprisingly, most of these stories are slanted toward Bush. Not exactly the type of balanced, thoughtful presentation that inspires serious debate.

Yet such polarization is not the bottom of the journalistic depths to which WND has sunk in its Javert-like obsession with Kerry. While it hammers away at the allegedly fake memos, it has pulled out the oldest trick in the bogus-news book: promoting the results of an opt-in poll as meaningful.

This occurred in an Aug. 12 story, in which writer Joe Kovacs (yes, there's an actual byline on this story, if you can believe it) declared that "a poll of America Online members is currently forecasting a landslide victory for President Bush, who collects 48 of the 50 states in this year's electoral race." And to jack up the bogus factor, a map is included that depicts the meaningless results of the 2000 election by county, a map conservatives like those at WND love despite the fact that land masses don't vote for president.

Kovacs followed this up the next day with an update on the poll, noting that "Democrat John Kerry has experienced a surge." It's only at this point that Kovacs suspects a rat: "Conceivably, someone with more than one screen name could cast more than one ballot, but such a 'vote early and vote often' technique is open to people of more than one political persuasion." This despite the fact that conservative groups like Free Republic have a long history of skewing online polls like the one at AOL, and that WND itself tightened up security on its online poll to prevent "freeping" (and has a history of promoting polls that follow its political slant).

Kovacs penned another follow-up on Sept. 3, in which he notes that Bush "led in all 50 states" shortly after making his nomination speech at the Republican National Convention. No mention of "vote early and vote often" in this story, of course.

This is, after all, the same "news" organization that considered a picture of Hillary Clinton's autobiography in the science-fiction section of a bookstore to be "news".

In that same vein, WND manages to plumb an even lower depth -- it can't even tell the truth about its own self-promotion.

In the middle of a Sept. 7 puff piece touting its ranking at as the "No. 1 political site," it's stated that WND finished "ahead of well-financed competitors Salon and Slate." That implies that WND is somehow not well-financed, which is simply not true; after all, Farah raised $4.5 million in seed money to create WND, and it is almost certainly, when you add in the book division, a multimillion-dollar business. Not that Farah will tell you where all this money comes from, of course -- he has refused to make public WND's investors or any of its financial information, yet it regularly hits readers up for money.

The article goes for an outright lie with its claim that "WND also is ranked No. 1 in Alexa's News and Media category." Actually, it's the Conservative News and Media category.

(By the way, if some of this sounds familiar, it's because it is; WND pulled this same distorted self-promotion stunt earlier this year.)

Then, there's this problematic statement: "It is also listed as the No. 1 conservative Internet site, though Farah is quick to point out that he does not consider either himself, nor his independent news service, 'conservative.'"

Such denial is part of WND's little game. And if you believe that claim, Farah also has some prime beachfront property in North Dakota he'd like to sell you (plus he'll throw in a free copy of Katherine Harris' book!). Or at least some more slanted Kerry-bashing.

Farah says he wants a "serious political debate," but what he has to offer is so ludicrously unbalanced, all one can do is laugh. Not a good thing when you're running a "news" site.

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