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ConWeb Hubris

Joseph Farah thinks WorldNetDaily is better than Talon News; NewsMax thinks it's more believable than The New York Times. They're both wrong.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/24/2005

Joseph Farah was doing so well. The WorldNetDaily editor seemed to have learned the right lessons from the Jeff Gannon/James Guckert fake-reporter scandal.

"Maybe the reason the White House didn't mind looking the other way when it came to Gannon-Guckert was the fact that he was only too eager to lob softball questions at press conferences," Farah wrote in a Feb. 23 column. "Who knows why this symbiotic relationship succeeded for as long as it did? Perhaps Gannon-Guckert knew something about people in the Bush administration. Or, perhaps some inside the Bush administration knew the truth about Gannon-Guckert."

So far, so good. But Farah decided to get all self-promoting:

I have no doubts that the people who launched Gannon-Guckert in his ill-fated journalism career probably looked at the success of WorldNetDaily and said to themselves: "We can do this. Any one can start a website and claim to be a news operation, get access to government and use this platform to spread our ideology, befriend politicians we like and buy influence with politicians. It looks easy."

Then, Farah turned on the hubris spigot full blast:

WorldNetDaily has succeeded in reaching millions and influencing the rest of the media because it does not pretend. I founded WorldNetDaily only after working inside the news media doing everything one can possibly do for more than 25 years. WorldNetDaily's mission is to telling the truth – no matter whose ox is gored. WorldNetDaily hires only serious and experienced journalists with the highest standards of ethics – both in their professional lives and their personal lives.

That's the WorldNetDaily difference – something easily missed by political activists who want to hitch their wagons to the New Media trail blazed by WorldNetDaily and WorldNetDaily alone.

If Farah really thinks he's that far removed from Talon News, Gannon/Guckert's former employer, he's a greater pretender than the G-man himself.

Like Talon News, WND has its own softball-tosser in the White House press room, Les Kinsolving -- but Farah mysteriously neglected to mention that in his column.

As far as Farah's claim that "WorldNetDaily's mission is to telling the truth -- no matter whose ox is gored," WND seems way more concerned about goring Democrat oxen that Republican ones -- witness the Farah-led jihad against John Kerry. And when he couldn't find a convenient Kerry ox to gore, Farah simply conjured up one. Or two.

As for the claim that "WorldNetDaily hires only serious and experienced journalists with the highest standards of ethics" -- remember Jon Dougherty, the one-source wonder? Would these journalists with "the highest standards of ethics" that WND allegedly employs report not only just one side of a story, as it has in the Terri Schiavo case (among others) , but change Schiavo's name to reflect the biases of its preferred source, the woman's parents? Would they promote the products of its book division as news stories? Would they, Gannon-like, serve up warmed-over press releases as news stories? How about ads disguised as news stories? Would they plagiarize? Would they claim that convicted felons are credible, reliable news sources? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

Farah makes one final claim in his column: "There is no substitute for good journalism. There is no substitute for seeking the truth. There is no substitute for upholding high ethical standards. There is no substitute for fierce independence."

We agree. Farah and WorldNetDaily should try that sometime.

* * *

WorldNetDaily is not the only ConWeb component with delusions of grandeur.

In a Feb. 17 article regurgitating a New Yorker article about how much White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove hates The New York Times, NewsMax cites chapter and verse of various alleged misdeeds by Times writers against Rove, including "Bush-hating columnist Maureen Dowd." At the end, NewsMax cites a statement by Nicholas Lemann, author of the New Yorker article:

Lemann concludes with the observation that "journalists in the mainstream media are starting to worry 'what if people don't believe in us, don't want us anymore?'"

Well, those people can always turn to

NewsMax really thinks it's more believable than the Times, huh? Let's review why that assertion isn't exactly, um, believable:

And NewsMax thinks it's an improvement over the Times? Unbelievable.

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