WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi unleashes a series of anti-gay attacks against a candidate for Ohio governor -- but was slow to disclose that he wrote a book with the candidate's opponent.
By Terry Krepel
Jerome Corsi is one interesting, prolific piece of work.
Coming to prominence in 2004 by co-writing "Unfit for Command," the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth hit job on John Kerry -- and later revealed to be a hurler of crude, bigoted insults in his Free Republic posts -- Corsi has since hooked up with WorldNetDaily, where he writes a regular column and has authored or co-authored several books.
But quantity does not necessarily equal quantity, nor does it imply fairness or full disclosure. His book "Atomic Iran" was a largely speculative scare-tactic-laden tome that was a how-to guide for terrorists looking to blow up New York City. In the course of his attacks on failed Supreme Court candidate Harriet Miers, Corsi suggested that he knew during the 2004 campaign that Ben Barnes -- whom his Swift Boat buddies were bashing because he claimed that he pulled strings to get a young George W. Bush into the Texas National Guard -- was telling the truth, but did nothing to publicly support Barnes' allegations at the time.
WND -- who, as ConWebWatch has documented, has been a longtime supporter of Blackwell, attacking his Republican primary opponents before Corsi's book was released in June -- primed Corsi's crusade with an Oct. 11 article claiming a "Foley problem" for Strickland, suggesting that Strickland's vote of "present" seven years ago on a 1999 House resolution condemning a study on child sexual abuse was somehow equivalent to Foley's serial preying on congressional pages. WND misrepresented the study and its findings, calling it "an American Psychological Association study supporting 'nonnegative sexual interactions between adults and adolescents.' " In fact, the APA did not conduct research for the study, and its only involvement in the study was publishing the findings in one of its journals. Further, the study did not support "nonnegative sexual interactions between adults and adolescents"; rather, it reviewed previous studies on child sexual abuse to test the belief, held by "[m]any lay persons and professionals," that "child sexual abuse (CSA) causes intense harm, regardless of gender, pervasively in the general population," finding that "negative effects were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and that men reacted much less negatively than women." And far from being the endorsement of adult-adolescent sex WND claimed, the authors of the study explicitly stated that its findings "do not imply that moral or legal definitions of or views on behaviors currently classified as CSA should be abandoned or even altered."
Additionally, WND claimed without evidence that "Strickland's refusal to vote 'yea' has been interpreted as implicit support for pedophilia," but it did not report Strickland's previous comments defending his vote on the resolution, in which he said that because the resolution declared that anyone who has had a childhood sexual relationship with an adult can never have a healthy and loving sexual relationship in later life, and is likely to become a sexual abuser him- or herself, he could not support it.
Further, the article failed to disclose that WND had published Blackwell's book, a clear conflict of interest.
On that foundation, Corsi began his single-minded assault on Strickland with an Oct. 14 column sin which he recycled long-discredited rumors that Strickland is gay. (He's married.) This was followed by an Oct. 17 column ominously accused Strickland of having a "Foley problem" (as in congressional page-chasing former Republican Rep. Mark Foley): The manager of Strickland's 1998 congressional campaign had been arrested four years earlier for public indecency. Corsi misleadingly claimed that Specht "a history of sexual misconduct involving minors going back to 1994"; in fact, as one blogger pointed out, the staffer's misconduct occurred only over a span of three weeks in 1994. An Oct. 18 column repeated the allegations.
All three of these articles had one thing in common: When they were first printed, they did not disclose that Corsi had written a book with Strickland's opponent (as these Google cache copies of the Oct. 14 and Oct. 18 articles show). It was not until Corsi's Oct. 19 column was printed that a line to Corsi's end-of-column bio was added -- and applied to the earlier columns -- noting that he co-wrote a book with Blackwell.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Blackwell distributed copies of Corsi's articles at a Oct. 17 press conference in which he repeated the allegations against Strickland's staffer. That certainly made it look like Corsi is playing the role of a Blackwell campaign operative. And Corsi has made no mention of Blackwell's hiring of a convicted felon while Ohio state treasurer. Blackwell continues to flog the story about the Strickland staffer as well as the House resolution vote, further claiming that Strickland's vote of "present" means that he supports the platform of ultra-fringe group and longtime conservative whipping boy the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA); the Plain Dealer called Blackwell's actions "unplumbed depths" in Ohio politics.
However, since dancing around the gay rumors didn't appear to be helping Blackwell gain any traction in his campaign -- a recent poll showed Blackwell 27 points behind Strickland -- Corsi made the decision to dive right into the cesspool of gay-baiting along with Blackwell.
His Oct. 23 column ludicrously and hyperbolically claimed that "The underground current of Ted Strickland's Democratic gubernatorial campaign is to turn Ohio from a Red State bastion into a Blue State hot-bed of sexual freedom and experimentation." It used the term "lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender" or slight variants a whopping 22 times, which must certainly be some kind of record. Corsi even more ludicrously claimed that "Blackwell must demand Ted Strickland take a stance on" a laundry list of things such as "lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender applicants to state colleges" (without explaining why they should not be allow to apply to attend a state college, as he and, presumably, Blackwell believe) and "lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender recipients of state-provided social services" (again, without explaining why sexual orientation should be a mitigating factor in receiving state services).
Corsi's Oct. 25 column takes the gay-smear issue further, holding up as a purportedly typical example of "the nature of Strickland's fans" one person allegedly supporting Strickland through the supporter's MySpace page. Corsi describes "Dungeon Master" as "evidently male, sporting a full black beard and long hair. Confusion could easily come observing his outfit, however a woman's negligee top and panties with garters, all holding up ripped fishnet stockings." Corsi adds: "I assume Strickland welcomes these supporters, as many of those listed below have been posted as Strickland friends for weeks."
After we posted on ConWebBlog questions for Corsi to answer regarding his relationship with Blackwell, Corsi used his Oct. 26 column to respond. Corsi denied any monetary connection or coordination with Blackwell's campaign; ConWebWatch accepts his explanation. As for his initial non-disclosure of his co-authorship with Blackwell, Corsi wrote:
Answer: "Rebuilding America" was published in May 2006, at which time my working relationship with Ken Blackwell was obvious. The cover of "Rebuilding America," including my name as co-author, has been posted on the homepage of Ken Blackwell's campaign website since the book was published. We added the book credit for "Rebuilding America" to my credits following all my commentaries to make sure the connection was even more obvious. There never was an attempt to disguise my authorship of the WND commentaries I have written critical of Ted Strickland, or of the many books I have authored, including "Rebuilding America" with Ken Blackwell.
Corsi misses the point. The question was not that he ever hid the fact that he co-wrote the book; it was that he did not initially disclose it on the same page on which those columns appeared. That is where such disclosure is most important; Corsi's collaboration is not common knowledge that a casual reader of Corsi's columns would necessarily have, and it's essential information for a reader to know, as it provides a clue as to the motivation of the writer. (And it's just plain good ol' journalistic ethics, which calls for writers to "disclose unavoidable conflicts.") As ConWebWatch has documented, WorldNetDaily has a frequent problem with making such disclosures in its writing about subjects that the company or its writers have a personal or financial interest.
Having gotten that out of the way, Corsi returned to smearing Strickland, again asking whether he supports "lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender applicants to state colleges" and "recipients of state-provided social services" without once explaining why lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered should be barred from college or from receiving social services, as Corsi seems to want. He suggested that Strickland is "embarrassed to disclose endorsements from groups supporting radical sexual extremism" without noting whether any similarly embarrassing people or groups have endorsed Blackwell -- like Larry Pratt of the right-wing Gun Owners of America, who has been linked to racist and militia organizations.
Corsi concluded: "Democrats with a radical sexual agenda to push will object to anyone who makes their intents public. Somehow, I doubt Terry K. will be as diligent in getting Ted Strickland to answer these questions right now, in a straight and honest manner."
Corsi has beat Strickland around the head and shoulders with the gay-baiting stick to the point that any questioning by us would be redundant. We're just wondering why Corsi thinks only heterosexuals should receive public services or be allowed to attend public school.
Don't expect Corsi to let up until Blackwell has been (as the polls suggest will happen) thoroughly stomped by Strickland at the polls -- and probably not even then. It's all part of the prolific, dubious piece of work that is Jerome Corsi.
(Update: Indeed, Corsi's final election shot at Strickland, in his Nov. 7 column, was spent trying to tie him to John Kerry and taking him to task for not having served in the military.
But such relentless negativity by Corsi may have ended up hurting Blackwell and other Ohio Republicans. The Columbus Dispatch reported that shortly before the election, Blackwell "began airing positive commercials after other Republicans said his harsh criticism of Strickland was hurting the entire ticket." It didn't help, or at least not enough: Strickland won with 60 percent of the vote to Blackwell's 37 percent.)