Two Levels of Truth
WorldNetDaily lets Republican whoppers pass unchecked while nitpicking every word out of John Kerry's mouth. Plus: Joseph Farah admits errors, but does he do anything about them?
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah went to the Republican National Convention last week and played the obedient stenographer, dutifully reporting what the speakers said in stories for WND.
Bush "said Kerry has proposed more than $2 trillion in new spending," Farah dutifully wrote in a Sept. 2 story. He noted that "Bush did mention his opponent several times during the speech," yet the name of that opponent (John Kerry -- perhaps you've heard of him) appears nowhere in Farah's story.
Most of that isn't true, of course. The Washington Post, a newspaper with somewhat more journalistic integrity than WorldNetDaily, tracked the factual errors and distortions in both speeches. The alleged votes against weapons systems, for example, were not individual votes but votes against a giant Pentagon spending package -- and that Vice President Dick Cheney, while serving as defense secretary, also tried to cut many of those very same systems. The Kerry statement Miller cited about military force and the United Nations was made 35 years ago.
You will find nothing correcting these Republican whoppers in any story under a WorldNetDaily byline. It's not because WND staffers are lazy; after all, when the boss is writing such sloppy, biased copy, what else can his employees do but follow suit?
WND writers do know how to fact-check when the spirit moves them. Alas, it only seems to move them when a Democrat is talking, preferably John Kerry.
Thus, on the same day Farah's story on Bush's speech was appearing on the WND web site, an unbylined WND story also appeared which lovingly detailed over several paragraphs how John Kerry got a baseball standings statistic wrong in a speech.
An Aug. 27 WND story tried to tar Kerry's statement that he heard about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. while serving in Vietnam as a lie because Kerry was aboard the USS Gridley in the Gulf of Tonkin at the time and therefore technically not "in" Vietnam -- even though the Gulf of Tonkin was considered part of the Vietnam theater.
It isn't all about nitpicking Democrats -- WND will rush to the defense of Republicans when the need strikes. Farah spent his entire Sept. 3 column trying to explain that Alan Keyes didn't call Mary Cheney, Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, a "selfish hedonist" even though Keyes had called all homosexuals "selfish hedonists" then agreed that term applied to Mary Cheney as well. (Farah accused anyone who came to that conclusion of "slanderous distortion" and "mean-spirited deception," though he spent the sentence immediately preceding it tossing it his own slanderous distortion -- attacking Keyes' opponent in the Illinois Senate race, Barack Obama, as "a conventional, 'safe' black man who does what he's told and lives on the Democratic Party plantation.")
See? Farah and WND are perfectly capable of fact-checking people's statements. They simply choose not to do it when those statements are made by Republicans, while it enforces a standard of hyper-accuracy for Democrats in general and Kerry in particular. Joseph Farah's orders, you see -- the guy whose repeated claims that he doesn't like Bush are sounding increasingly hollow.
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Yet another sign that WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah is showing detrimental effects from drinking his own Kool-Aid -- the deceptions he continues to pass along to his readers.
Farah's Aug. 27 column merges his two favorite subjects his obsessive hatred of John Kerry and his insistence that WorldNetDaily is so incredibly superior to other media outlets despite its record of bias and distortion. In it, Farah states: "If I make a mistake in WorldNetDaily -- a factual error -- I will be corrected by readers within minutes of its appearance."
This may indeed be factually true after all, Farah has made a lot of them, and ConWebWatch has captured many. From telling lies about Teresa Heinz Kerry's philanthropy to repeating fact-free rumors about John Kerry, WND and Farah have a documented history of placing partisanship over the truth.
But what has Farah actually done about any of these documented errors? Has he, you know, corrected them? Most newspapers have a section in which they document corrections, as former newspaperman Farah is certainly aware. Where is the section on the WND Web site where these factual errors by Farah and others are corrected? Nowhere that we’ve seen. For instance, Farah's lie that Heinz Kerry donates to radical groups has gone uncorrected anywhere at WND.
In fact, we know of only two errors that WND has formally owned up to: one on a story (and buried within another story) about conservative cause celebre Terri Schiavo, and another earlier this year apologizing for plagiarizing a story.
Back to Farah's column: Shortly after he repeats a distortion about that Kerry-bashing Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group, to which Farah and WND have given so much fawning coverage: "In fact, the [Swift Boat] vets have said repeatedly many in their ranks are Democrats and independents." Farah descends into "definition of is" speak that takes refuge in "factual accuracy" at the expense of the truth. By relating the spin of what the Swift Boat Vets "have said repeatedly" ignores one fact they haven't said repeatedly: its leader, John O'Neill, is a longtime documented donor to Republicans.
Farah concludes his column by saying that "That institutional problem is that the media now trust the very people they are supposed to be watchdogging" and accusing the press of "sleeping with the donkeys" Given WND’s near-total lack of uncritical coverage of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, it's pretty clear who Joseph Farah is sleeping with.
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And finally, a quick round of Then and Now:
"Once again, at this point, it is important for me to point out that I do not support Bush. I am not excusing anything he did or didn't do in military service."
-- Joseph Farah, Feb. 10
"Why was it OK to elect a draft dodger president in 1992, but not OK to re-elect a president who served honorably in the Air National Guard?"
-- Joseph Farah, Sept. 6