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Leading By (Bad) Example, Part 2

Joseph Farah's own reporting for WorldNetDaily is sadly emblematic of the dubious journalism standards across the entire site.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/7/2006

Is WorldNetDaily the worst news organization in America?

What with all the plagiarism, biased and selective reporting, advertising disguised as news and recycled press releases, WND certainly makes a strong claim for the title.

The latest entry in WND's parade of dubious journalism is a Feb. 22 article by editor Joseph Farah. It's chock full of dubious implications, questionable assumptions and discarding of data that don't fit Farah's preconceived notions. It purports to summarize data from a November 2005 report by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics on the victims of hate crimes.

We haven't even made it past the headline -- "'Hate crime' victims: Young, poor, white; 210,000 targeted annually due to bias, statistics show" -- when we run into the most glaring problem with Farah's article: He throws out provocative statements that aren't nearly as provocative once the data behind them are examined, and Farah doesn't always do that.

By making a big deal out of hate-crime victims being white, Farah implies that whites are targeted by racially based hate crimes and, further, that whites were the victims of 210,000 of those racially based hate crimes. In fact, that number is of all hate crimes, not just those involving white victims.

The lead paragraph repeats the claim in the headline, and the third paragraph adds: "While race is, by far, the No. 1 factor cited as the reason for hate crimes, blacks are slightly less likely to be victims and far more likely to be perpetrators, the statistics show." The implication Farah is drawing is that because a majority of hate-crime victims are white, a disproportionate number of hate-crime perpetrators are black, and most hate crimes are motivated by race, blacks are committing an epidemic of racially motivated hate crimes against whites.

For all this focus on whites, though, Farah doesn't state how many hate crimes against whites were racially motivated, or how many of those were committed by blacks. That's because the study doesn't state that. So Farah is left to imply things that the study doesn't specifically support -- even though it may not be true.

Farah also has a bad habit of discarding information that he doesn't agree with. In repeating the reports definition of a hate crime, he lists the motivating factors -- "race, religion, ethnicity, religion or association" -- but mysteriously deletes "sexual orientation," which ranked fourth behind race, association and ethnicity, and even more mysteriously, lists "religion" twice. Apparently, Farah really didn't want to write about the idea of sexual orientation as a hate crime.

The same selective transcription kicks in citing statistics. Farah noted that "[w]hile nine in 10,000 whites and nine in 10,000 Hispanics are victimized by hate crimes, only seven in 10,000 blacks are targets" while ignoring that a racial grouping that included Asians and Native Americans were targets of hate crimes at a higher rate than all of them -- 14 per 10,000.

This article, with its slant and selective reporting, is emblematic of Farah's overall shoddy journalism. As ConWebWatch has detailed, during the 2004 presidential campaign, Farah falsely portrayed Teresa Heinz Kerry's relationship with the Tides Foundation, implying that donations to Tides by Heinz family foundations controlled by Heinz Kerry funded organizations that "provide the legal defense of suspected terrorists and promote the spread of Islamist ideology in the U.S." In fact, Heinz Foundation donations to Tides were earmarked to specific purposes that had nothing to do with those causes.

And Farah ventured beyond bias to plagiarism and disguised advertising in a August 2005 article, stealing much of it from a Reuters article and steering the remainder to benefit prominent WND advertiser and business partner Swiss America Trading Corp.

Yet, such dubious reporting standards mesh nicely with WND's stable of reporters over the years, from Jon Dougherty's one-source wonders to Jack Cashill's false portrayal of abortion doctor-killer James Kopp as an innocent man to the unnamed reporters and editors (and who can blame them for wanting to remain anonymous) who can't be bothered to go beyond the press releases they lightly rewrite to tell both sides of the story.

If there is a large news organization so bereft of standards that its leader lacks the ability to incorporate basic journalistic principles into its reporting to the extent of WorldNetDaily, we haven't seen it. WND may just walk off with that "worst news organization in America" title yet.

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