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Joseph Farah vs. WorldNetDaily

If the WND founder is so committed to his "None of the Above" campaign opposing both Barack Obama and John McCain, why is his website's news coverage attacking only Obama while promoting McCain's campaign talking points?

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/3/2008

Joseph Farah has been bellowing it loud and proud: Don't vote for Barack Obama or John McCain.

He's written an entire book (essentially self-published, since it came out through WND's book division) on the subject, called "None of the Above," which asserts that "Only a revolt—a total rejection of business as usual—stands a chance of correcting our nation’s downhill slide."

In a fit of false modesty, Farah declared in an Aug. 2 column:

I didn't do it to make money. If you want to make money on a book, you don't write one that will be outdated Nov. 5. You don't give yourself a time window of only four months to make sales. And you don't target a market of Americans probably limited to no more than 10 percent to 20 percent of the public.

But that's what I did.

I did it because I am serious about this campaign.

Actually, writing a book to take advantage of a presidential campaign is exactly what you do if you want to make money -- otherwise, there wouldn't be so many books coming out that are tied to the 2008 election. Farah is a businessman who runs a book-publishing division, after all, and he's not doing that out of the goodness of his heart. Does Farah really expect people to believe that he does not hope to make some money off his book?

Farah has defended his "none of the above" position against the complaints of fellow right-wingers such at G. Gordon Liddy, Janet Parshall and Janet Folger, all of whom have argued that conservatives must vote for McCain, if only to stop Obama. In response to WND columnist Folger's claim that Farah "isn't just wrong. He is dangerously, devastatingly and dead wrong" because an Obama election will mean "another 50 million dead" as Obama will purportedly upon election "wipe out every single pro-life advance we have made in three and a half decades in all 50 states" (while by contrast McCain "has a 25-year pro-life voting record and he's not ashamed of it"), Farah insisted that "McCain's track record is not that of a consistent pro-lifer -- at least not by my definition," adding, "McCain is an enemy of the Constitution. He is an enemy -- the worst kind -- of life itself."

In response to radio host Parshall's claim that Farah has "advocated the antithetical position to what we know to be biblical truth," Farah responded that "it is nothing short of idol worship for Christians to deify the Republican Party and its nominees for the presidency as somehow beyond reproach by discerning believers – or to lift them up to the equivalent of Holy Writ."

Farah has dedicated at least two columns to detailing how McCain is worse than Obama. In one of those, an Aug. 19 column, he declares his Machiavellian motivation for opposing McCain:

Don't get me wrong: I believe four years of Barack Obama will be terrible for America – in the short term. But the suffering we will experience as a result of his governance could prove to be very positive – in the long term. Why? For the same reason the Jimmy Carter years were terrible in the short term and positive in the long term.

Obama's policies of taxing and spending and clamping down on freedom in health care and other areas will prove massively unpopular when Americans see them fail as these discredited ideas always do. Obama and the Democrats will try to blame past administrations for the problems, just as Jimmy Carter tried to do. They will try to blame the people, just as Jimmy Carter tried to do. But with Democrats running Congress and the White House, it will be easy for Americans to see who is to blame.

I can almost promise you Barack Obama will not be elected to a second term. He will, in all likelihood, just like Jimmy Carter, pave the way for a real Republican president in 2012 – if indeed there is one in the wings.

On the other hand, let's pretend John McCain wins the presidency in 2008. In all likelihood, there will still be a Democrat-dominated Congress. While U.S. policies under McCain and a Democrat Congress will be nearly equally disastrous, it will be the Republican president who bears the brunt of the blame in 2012. Guess what we'll get then? We'll get Barack Obama anyway. Or, perhaps, Hillary Clinton.

In effect, by electing McCain, we are only delaying the inevitable day of reckoning. McCain won't change a thing. His election will only delay what almost certainly must come.

Farah's McCain-bashing and his "none of the above" message, however, are contradicted by the editorial policies of is that his own website.

As ConWebWatch has detailed, criticism of McCain at WND is strictly limited to the opinion section; the news side has repeatedly attacked Obama in its "reporting" but has barely laid a glove on McCain. That streak continues: WND has done essentially no substantive news-side criticism of McCain since he clinched the Republican nomination in February.

Meanwhile, the attacks on Obama have continued:

  • An Aug. 20 article by Aaron Klein stated that "A key foreign policy adviser to Sen. Barack Obama has traveled to Damascus where he reportedly urged Syrian officials to fast-track negotiations with Israel." Nowhere did Klein note the McCain campaign's own freelance diplomacy, including McCain chief foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann's work as a paid lobbyist for the nation of Georgia -- newly important given the recent turmoil there. Klein further attempted to paint the Obama adviser Daniel Kurtzer, as "one of Israel's greatest foes in Washington" without noting that Kurtzer is an Orthodox Jew, the former dean of Yeshiva University, and has been caricatured in anti-Semitic cartoons in the Egyptian press during his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Egypt -- all things that presumably conflict with his meme.
  • An Aug. 17 article by Klein speculated on whether Obama was "a citizen of Indonesia" as a child, asserting that this "could raise loyalty concerns." How? According to who? Klein doesn't say; it's only Klein making this empty, unfounded accusation against a candidate he viscerally hates.
  • An Aug. 5 article by Chelsea Schilling asserted: "Is CBS showing bias toward Barack Obama? The 'Late Show with David Letterman' has removed a spoof on Obama from website archives but opted to keep a 'Top Ten' list ripping John McCain from the previous evening – and show representatives are denying any knowledge of the missing clip." That was quickly shot down by none other than WND's fellow right-wingers at the Media Research Center, where Brent Baker pointed out in an Aug. 6 NewsBusters post that the list was cut from the "Late Show" broadcast in question due to time constraints and was mistakenly posted to the show's website. Baker called the issue, and WND's article, "ridiculous." WND never updated Schilling's article or wrote a new one containing the factual explanation.
  • An Aug. 4 article by Klein made a big deal out of a claim that "Palestinian brothers inside the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are listed in government election filings as having donated $29,521.54 to Sen. Barack Obama's campaign." As Klein was pushing his near-daily Obama-bash, Talking Points Memo was detailing how "Ten senior Hess Corporation executives and/or members of the Hess family each gave $28,500 to the joint RNC-McCain fundraising committee, just days after McCain reversed himself to favor offshore drilling, according to Federal Election Commission reports." The controversy over McCain's donations has thus far gone unmentioned by WND.
  • When Obama said in a speech that "making sure your tires are properly inflated" and "getting regular tune-ups" was one way of saving fuel, a July 30 article snorted: "That's his energy plan? Inflate your tires? Get more tune-ups?" It then quoted Farah accusing Obama of "apparent naiveté" and claiming "This is no time to be talking about tire pressure" in promoting Farah's crusade of pressuring Congress into approving more offshore drilling. But this was a false attack: In portraying Obama's energy policy as consisting only of fuel-saving tips, Farah and WND ignored that in that same speech, Obama made numerous other energy-related proposals, and that Obama also has a detailed energy plan on his website.
  • Another July 30 article portrayed a remark by Obama (to "UNITY '08, an event for journalists who claim membership in various minorities") that "when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds," as an endorsement of cash reparations to African-Americans, quoting the baseless assertions of two right-wing columnists that Barack was speaking in "code" to make the endorsement. The article failed to note that Obama specifically said that "that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed." That day's WND opt-in poll misled even further by falsely claiming that Obama was engaging in "promotion of 'reparations' to blacks and Native Americans."
  • One more July 30 article, by Klein, was little more than a rewritten version of an article he and John Batchelor wrote for Human Events way back in March, with an eye toward pumping a hint of scandal that Obama apparently has no actual direct evidence of. Klein attempted to tie Obama's Senate office to "Iraqi government fraud" by allegedly helping to obtain a "$50 million contact [sic] to train Iraqi security personnel at a site in Chicago" even though, as Klein himself admitted, the contract was "nixed." Again, no mention of a parallel McCain connection of "Iraqi government fraud" -- his chief foreign policy adviser, Scheunemann, is a longtime ally of Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi official who fed bogus intelligence to the U.S. prior to the Iraq war and has since been accused of being a spy for Iran.
  • Klein told an out-and-out lie in a July 15 article, asserting that Obama forwarded "a discredited distortion of the Holocaust." In fact, as Klein goes on to report, the "distortion" is actually an alleged misstatement about whether Obama's grandfather helped to liberate the Auschwitz concentration camp in World War II. At no point does Klein accuse Obama of making a "distortion" about the Holocaust that has been "discredited," and stating that Obama has falsely (and, arguably, libelously) suggests that Obama is a Holocaust denier.

WND has also promoted the claim that the birth certificate for Obama released by his campaign is a fake, claiming as recently as Aug. 8 that "analysts working separately have determined the birth certificate posted on the Daily Kos website and later on Sen. Barack Obama's 'Fight the Smears' campaign website is fraudulent." Which made it all the more surprising that WND reported on Aug. 23 that "A separate WND investigation into Obama's birth certificate utilizing forgery experts also found the document to be authentic. The investigation also revealed methods used by some of the bloggers to determine the document was fake involved forgeries, in that a few bloggers added text and images to the certificate scan that weren't originally there."

That a right-wing, Obama-hating news organization like WND would actually admit a truth that doesn't make Obama look bad is admirable. That it chose to bury said truth in the 12th paragraph of an article about a lawsuit against Obama is not.

Israel Insider -- a far-right, anti-Obama website not unlike WND -- is still pushing the fake-birth-certificate story. Will WND demonstrate a bit of journalistic integrity and call out Israel Insider by specifically debunking its claims about the birth certificate? Or will it bury this story as an inconvenient distraction from its anti-Obama agenda and simply stop reporting on it, pretending it no longer exists even as its fellow right-wingers (like Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid) continue to promote the false claim? Time will tell.

At WND's online store, two anti-Obama books are available. One is by staff writer Jerome Corsi that has proven to be less than factual, -- the very first claim from the book reported by WND, that "Obama admitted using drugs in his autobiography but never revealed if or when he stopped," was demonstrably false. The other, published by WND itself and written by Brad O'Leary, looks to be even farther from actual facts than Corsi's, hurling false claims such as Obama "Blocked emergency medical aid for babies who survived abortion" and baseless speculation such as Obama "Would raise tax rates to a Hoover-like 60 percent" and "Will transform the U.S. Treasury into the United Nations’ ATM."

But WND sells no books critical of McCain, even though several are available.

Meanwhile, WND news pages were pushing McCain campaign talking points:

  • An Aug. 30 article by Bob Unruh touted how "Pro-family advocates and Republicans are saying presumptive GOP nominee for president Sen. John McCain may have checkmated Democrat Sen. Barack Obama with his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate." A Sept. 2 article by Art Moore proclaimed Palin "the party's new superstar." (By contrast, an Aug. 1 column by Hal Lindsey declared that Obama was preparing the world for the Antichrist.)
  • An Aug. 25 article by Klein promoted an ad by a McCain-supporting group attacking Obama's alleged ties with former terrorist and current non-terrorist college professor William Ayers
  • A July 22 article was little more than a regurgitation of the McCain campaign's assertion that the media is, as WND's headline asserted, "twitterpated" over Barack Obama. The article even embedded a McCain campaign video making the same point. Unsurprisingly, the article makes no mention of any evidence contrary to McCain's talking point -- specifically, CBS' splicing of an interview with McCain to remove a false statement McCain had made.
  • A July 2 article asserted that "Dozens of Christian leaders meeting in Denver have concluded they should "get behind Sen. John McCain even if they didn't like everything about him" because the alternative, presumptive Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, actually could oversee the criminalization of Christianity."

News articles arguably critical of McCain at WND in recent months have been few and far between, and those that do exist are light on actual criticism. The only ones we could find were an Aug. 27 article complained that "Republicans seeking to put more teeth in the party's immigration platform ran into opposition from delegates who largely argued they didn't want to conflict with Sen. John McCain's positions.," and an Aug. 24 article noting that Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, once proposed McCain as a vice-presidential possibility for Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

Then there's WND's newest bumper sticker: "Better an imperfect Republican than a perfect socialist." he WND store page for the sticker tries hard to put a positive spin on it: "If you're not convinced McCain is right for the job, but think anyone would be better than Obama, this bumper sticker is perfect for expressing that position." (Bold and underlined type in the original.) WND also sells a rather lame "McCain Not Able" sticker, but its sales pitch is less than enthusiastic, limited to generic statements like "Express your political position with this clever bumper sticker."

And, finally, the piece d'resistance -- the endorsement of McCain by WND managing editor David Kupelian.

In a July 2 column, Kupelian declared that "John McCain really needs to be elected president in November" for three reasons: to "end the tyranny of the Supreme Court" since "McCain will appoint conservatives like Roberts and Alito"; because "McCain understands that losing in Iraq is unthinkable" while Obama "is a weak and inexperienced leader and would undo all that has been accomplished at such great cost in blood and treasure"; and because -- citing none other than Karl Rove as a credible source -- McCain "has demonstrated both the strong character and the core American values we want and need in a president." Kupelian concluded:

Friends, please don't bother e-mailing me about all the wrong things McCain has done over the years. I've been a newsman for most of the past 25-plus years. I've heard it all, and then some. Our nation has never had a perfect chief executive, and we frankly don't require one. What we absolutely do need, as Rove put it, is one with "character, integrity and essential decency."

It would seem that Farah's own website -- and his own managing editor -- are working at cross purposes against him. Farah founded WND and is its president, CEO, editor and (near as we can tell) majority owner. Can he not enforce a message consistent with his own beliefs across his website? If not, what's the point in having your own website in the first place? If Farah believes in his campaign as much as he claims to, his own website wouldn't be contradicting him on a daily basis.

How can Farah claim to support "none of the above" when the website he owns and operates has clearly declared a preference? He can't -- but he has a book to sell and an ego to satiate, so he'll continue to claim it anyway.

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