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Even More Less-Than-Wholeness

Why does it matter that WorldNetDaily's Diana Lynne is being dishonest about the Terri Schiavo case? Because dishonesty is the fuel that runs WND.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/5/2006

With the arrival of the first anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death on March 31, WorldNetDaily was certain to make a big deal out of it.

And it did, in the form of a weeklong series of articles by Diana Lynne, who did a significant portion of WND's coverage and also wrote a book about the Schiavo case. But -- like her coverage and her book -- Lynne's series suffers from her longtime bias toward Terri Schiavo's parents, the Schindlers, and against her husband, Michael Schiavo.

Lynne's series began March 27 with an attack on Jon Eisenberg's book "Using Terri," which described the right wing's support of the Schiavo case -- documentation conspicuously absent from Lynne's book (blurbs promoting the book at the top of each of these articles inaccurately describe it as "comprehensive"). Lynne claimed that "Eisenberg's book is a misleading, disingenuous case of the pot calling the kettle 'black,' " and that "Schiavo was a right-to-die case five years before it became a right-to-life case." While Lynne claims that "simple chronology of the case shows just the opposite -- Terri Schiavo was a tool to be used by the liberal left," she never denies or disproves Eisenberg's basic assertion that the religious right used the case for their own purposes.

Despite Lynne's diversionary tactic of detailing what was spent on the attorneys for Michael Schiavo to counter Eisenberg's claims that the religious right spent "between $400,000 and $500,000" (Lynne's article was later revised to "approximately $400,000") backing Terri Schiavo's parents, the Schindlers, Lynne appears to concede this number as the truth -- which would be the first time that Lynne has acknowledged this. In her book, she disingenuously described the campaign to publicize and litigate the Schindlers' side of the story as "a grass-roots effort." Lynne also concedes here that Wesley Smith was "an unpaid adviser to the Schindlers"; in her book, she cited Smith's writings but failed to disclose his adviser status.

In conceding that there was indeed money behind the Schindlers, Lynne makes no mention of Eisenberg's description of the funding behind David Gibbs III, one of the Schindlers' attorneys; presumably, the fact that she didn't counter it means it's accurate. According to Eisenberg, Gibbs and his family control a foundation, the Christian Law Association, that paid $12.7 million to Gibbs' law firm and another Gibbs-related law firm between 1997 and 2003 -- "Just where all that money came from is a secret I couldn't penetrate," Eisenberg writes -- and it's logical to assume that this self-dealing continued while Gibbs was representing the Schindlers. Lynne's only mention of the Christian Law Association in her book was in describing its mission "to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and help defend constitutionally guaranteed liberties."

Lynne continued her attack on Eisenberg in her March 28 column. Citing Eisenberg's claim that "For the religious Right, Terri Schiavo was a tool to be used," Lynne wrote: "In my column yesterday, I explained how the simple chronology of the Schiavo case proved the exact opposite – Terri Schiavo was a tool used by the liberal Left." Again, "simple chronology" doesn't disprove that the "religious Right" used the Schiavo case for its own purposes.

Lynne also made a point of tossing around the term "liberal Left" while not defining the term, let alone proving that the "liberal Left" (whatever that is) was as directly involved in the case as the "religious Right." The ACLU is not specifically "liberal Left," despite the continuous demonization of the group by her WND colleagues; Lynne also fails to offer any evidence that attorney George Felos or any of the other "right-to-die" organizations that worked on Michael Schiavo's side are "liberal Left," despite asserting that "a Left Wing network played a significant role in Terri's death."

Lynne also tries to paint the entire push to add advance-directive statutes in every state as some vast left-wing conspiracy -- literally: "This is the Left Wing 'conspiracy' the religious Right and disability-rights groups saw happening behind the scenes of the Schiavo case" -- but all she does is play guilt by association by throwing around the names of liberal bogeymen like George Soros and Bill Moyers. Additionally, she never demonstrates why advance directives are inherently "left wing."

Lynne's March 29 article -- described as "an excerpted speech delivered to the student body of North Greenville University in North Greenville, S.C.," by Lynne -- was a rehash of her (and the Schindler family's) smears against Michael Schiavo. Lynne made no effort to tell Michael's side, or even admit that he has a story to tell -- a longtime reluctance ConWebWatch has previously documented.

On March 30, Diana Lynne tore herself away from explicitly smearing Michael Schiavo long enough to detail a case in Zimbabwe, which she describes has having "eerie parallels" to the Terri Schiavo case.

The main parallel, however, is Lynne's one-sided treatment of the story. Lynne describes the victim, a man who was struck by lightning eight years ago and who died in December 2005, as "a perfect double for actor Kiefer Sutherland." As in her Schiavo coverage, Lynne focuses on one side of the story, that of the man's mother. Nobody on the other side -- the man's wife or his doctors -- was interviewed for the article, and the mother's demonization of them is accepted as unquestioningly by Lynne as her acceptance of every utterance by the Schindlers as the unassailable truth.

On March 31, the date Terri Schiavo's death, Lynne resumed her quest to paint Michael Schiavo as a vicious monster who "seeks to settle some scores" in his new book, "incessantly taking swipes at the Schindlers' faith and ridiculing pro-life advocates." By contrast, the Schindler family is portrayed as using its book to "introduce us to the fun-loving and compassionate Terri Schiavo, comparatively few people had the pleasure of knowing prior to her injury than after." Lynne writes that the Schindlers offer "more details they consider incriminating evidence against Michael Schiavo," but she doesn't give Michael Schiavo a opportunity to respond to it.

Lynne also wrote that Michael Schiavo "echoes the conspiracy theory espoused by one of his attorneys, Jon Eisenberg, in his book, 'Using Terri,'" disingenuously adding: "A WND analysis published earlier this week exposed the hypocrisy of the book's central theme and the lack of documentation supporting it." (Lynne didn't note that she herself wrote that flawed "analysis.")

This article was accompanied by a separate, unbylined article (given that Lynne is WND's point person on the Schiavo case and related issues, it's likely that she wrote it) about the Schindler family's foundations "devoted to activism on behalf of the disabled." In it is the line: "Bobby Schindler said people should read Diana Lynne's book."

In other words, it's official confirmation that Lynne has taken sides and can't be trusted to tell this story fairly. And this is one answer to the question: Why are we picking on Diana Lynne?

We care about journalism, that's why. Because Lynne has taken sides, she has ceased being a journalist and instead become an advocate and polemicist -- unlike polemicists, journalists present both sides of the story in a fair and balanced manner, particularly in a case like this where so much of it is he-said, she-said (or, specifically, Michael Schiavo vs. the Schindlers). Since there is no way to judge the truth of many of those back-and-forth accusations, the only fair thing to do is report both sides and not treat one side as a de facto truth-teller and the other as a de facto liar, as Lynne does.

And because this advocacy work is being presented under the banner of "journalism," this makes Lynne dishonest as well -- part of a fundamental dishonesty that permeates the entire WorldNetDaily organization, from editor Joseph Farah on down.

From Farah's endorsement of plagiarism to false articles to Aaron Klein's whitewashing of right-wing Israeli extremists to Anthony LoBaido's whitewashing of right-wing South African extremists to Art Moore's embrace of a convicted felon simply because he dishes dirt on the Clintons to its relentless, slanted, occasionally untrue attacks on John Kerry, WND operates at a level of dishonesty that is shocking for an organization that fancies itself a "news" operation.

In the face of all this evidence to the contrary, Farah bizarrely continues to insist that WND has high journalistic standards. As he wrote in an April 4 column, "Out of principle and conviction, we have set our standards high." Farah then gave examples of these standards he purports to hold:

• highest editorial standards and practices by experienced journalists – veterans of print and broadcast

• fiercely independent editorial mission with no sacred cows

• a commitment to exposing corruption, fraud, waste and abuse wherever it is found – no matter who the perpetrator

On what planet are plagiarism, false articles and biased reporting the "highest editorial standards"? And not only does WND have plenty of sacred cows, it lacks commitment to exposing "corruption, fraud, waste and abuse" because it is very much perpetrator-dependent, as evidenced by its dearth of reporting on Republican scandals.

Farah throws yet another plug in for WND's legal defense fund to further "honest journalism," but he is secretive about where that money comes from and where it goes; Farah has thus far ignored ConWebWatch's challenge for transparency regarding this fund or the libel lawsuit against WND the defense of which the fund is presumably paying.

WorldNetDaily is not the "uncompromising news company" Farah claims it to be; it is, in fact, heavily compromised.

Diana Lynne works for this organization, which is mired in this self-delusion. Is it any wonder that her "reporting" is as dishonest as it is?

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