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Chelsea Schilling's Shilling

The WorldNetDaily reporter has racked up an impressive list of misleading claims and falsehoods -- none of which have been corrected.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/23/2010

Chelsea Schilling has been a full-time WorldNetDaily reporter only since May 2008 -- WND touted her "perfect 4.0 grade point average" in college in announcing her hiring -- but she already has developed a reputation for making misleading and false claims in her "news" reporting.

A perfect GPA, of course, is no insurance against bias in a reporter. Indeed, Schilling demonstrated the kind of writing that would make her a suitable WND employee in a February 2008 column in which she smeared Hillary Clinton as a "clown" for having purportedly "cried three times to gain voter sympathy." Schilling claimed Hillary answered one questioner with "a pathetically contrived tremble" and another with "crocodile tears," as if she could divine Hillary's true emotions. Schilling also tossed out a casual smear of John Edwards as "Miss Sunshine Breck."

Such bias also permeates Schilling's reporting. ConWebWatch has already detailed examples that were so egregious that her fellow conservatives were compelled to correct her:

  • A May 2008 WND article by Schilling unquestioningly repeated anti-gay group Mission America's claims about its attempts to, as the headline asserts, "squash" the annual Day of Silence event designed to show support for gay students victimized by violence and bullying at school. Schilling went on to detail "some incidents that took place during the silent protests and were reported by Mission America," making no apparent attempt to fact-check Mission America's claims. Conservative psychology professor Warren Throckmorton did, however, and found Mission America's claims to be highly overblown.
  • Schilling reported in August 2008 that CBS was "showing bias toward Barack Obama" by removing a David Letterman top-10 list critical of Obama from its website. In fact, as the Media Research Center's Brent Baker pointed out, the list was cut from the show's broadcast due to time constraints -- which "happens many times each year" -- and therefore shouldn't have been posted on the website in the first place.
  • Schilling has also played a role in forwarding WND's war against Wikipedia, accusing the website of promoting pornography by detailed photos of nude homosexual men engaging in sex acts and a variety of other sexually explicit images and content" as well as, among other things, offering the definition of a "fluffer" and including an image of the European cover of the 1976 Scorpions album "Virgin Killer," which features a naked girl. At no point does Schilling concede that the images and content occur in the context of an encyclopedia -- which does not meet the legal definition of pornography -- or that child nudity is not the same thing as child pornography.
  • In another assault on Wikipedia, the lead claim in Schilling's Dec. 30, 2009, article denouncing malicious edits on the Wikipedia pages on WND and editor Joseph Farah was a claim that Farah was described as a "Zionist Twit and Jew Loving Pig." But according to the Wikipedia archives, that statement was removed after just eight minutes. Other statements were removed similarly quickly: The statement that WND is written from a "pro-white point of view" was removed after 39 minutes; the statement on Farah's entry calling him "a closet homosexual and has been repeatedly criticized for his hypocrisy" was removed after 32 minutes; and the statement on Farah's entry calling him a "known cock sucker" was flagged and deleted immediately. But Schilling did not report that the edits were quickly removed.

These are, however, far from the only examples of Schilling's bias and shoddy reporting.

Chelsea Schilling

A Sept. 16, 2008, article by Schilling suggested that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin -- who "has a pro-life voting record and has not indicated support for the morning-after pill" -- was correct to make rape victims pay for police evidence-collection kits while mayor or Wasilla, Alaska, because they include "emergency contraception." Schilling then repeated a claim by Feminists for Life, of which Palin is a member, that emergency contraception medications Preven and Plan B "actually act as an abortifacient in many cases by preventing the implantation of an already-fertilized human embryo." In fact, according to Amanda Marcotte at RH Reality Check, emergency contraception "works the same way as the birth control pill by suppressing ovulation" and, thus, is not an abortifacient since a fertilized egg is not involved.

A Jan. 14, 2009, article promoted a claim by a columnist in "Pravda, Russia's online newspaper," claiming that the Earth is "on the brink of entering another Ice Age." At not point did Schilling note Pravda's history as the official house organ of the Soviet Communist Party, nor does she note that the article's author, Gregory F. Fegel, also believes that " the Bush Administration, in collusion with many other officials from the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, FEMA, NSA, NORAD, New York City officials, air-traffic contollers, airline executives, controlled demolitions experts, computer graphics technicians, media executives, and others together planned and committed the horrible attacks of 9/11/2001 against the Pentagon and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City."

In a March 23, 2009, article, Schilling uncritically repeated allegations by the wife of an anti-abortion protester that her husband is being "targeted because he's a black man who dared to take a stand against race-based abortion." Schilling made no effort to substantiate the man's claims, nor did she allow anyone to contradict them, despite the fact that others have contradicted the charge. One blogger, for example, wrote: Isn’t there enough real discrimination, prejudice and racism in the world without making it up?" adding that if black-oriented anti-abortion groups "want to make a case against buffer zones and for freedom of speech, making false accusations of racism is hardly the way to do it."

Schilling also likes reporting on meaningless opt-in polls that promote WND's political agenda, failing to explain that such polls cannot be considered an accurate reflection of public opinion because the respondents are self-selecting and the results can be easily gamed by activists looking to promote a specific answer:

  • After penning one of her attacks on Wikipedia in May 2008, Schilling added in one follow-up article: "In a WND poll related to that story, the No. 1 response at more than 47 percent had readers saying Wikipedia is clearly violating U.S. obscenity laws and should face prosecution." Of course, whether someone is "violating U.S. obsenity laws" is a matter for the courts, not public opinion, to decide.
  • A Dec. 16, 2008, article by promoted an America Online poll that claims plurality support for the idea that "people should be concerned about Obama's citizenship." Schilling does state that the poll is "unscientific," but she doesn't explain what that means. Schilling then added, "On a similar note, WND poll asked readers, 'Are you satisfied Obama is constitutionally eligible to assume the presidency?' A full 97 percent of 6,000 voters said 'no.'"
  • An March 10, 2009, article reported on an "unscientific" MSNBC poll in which a plurality of respondents give President Obama "a grade of "F" for his performance in office." At no point did Schilling feel the need to tell her readers the truth about "unscientific" polls. Schilling liked this poll so much that she wrote about it again on April 7.

Schilling co-authored an April 17, 2009, article unritically repeating the claim that "An estimated 1 million Americans participated in at least 1,000 tea parties, according to reports by organizers tabulating the nationwide numbers, with documented protests held in 50 states." In fact, a tally by Americans for Tax Reform cited in Schilling's article -- which was based on self-reporting, so it is likely inflated -- reported only about 360,000 participants at the time Schilling's article was published, and its most recent tally at the time of this writing was 578,000.

Schilling has also been a player in WND's promotion of the Obama birth certificate controversy. After penning a sycophantic April 2009 profile of fellow birth certificate obsessive Orly Taitz -- Schilling called Taitz a "fierce blond attorney" with "a vibrant smile and an ebullient personality" -- Schilling wrote an April 20, 2009, article uncritically repeating Taitz's attacks on Lisa Ostella, the former webmaster of Taitz's website with whom Taitz is involved in a public legal battle, then claimed that "Ostella did not respond to WND's request for comment."

In fact, Schilling didn't need Ostella to directly respond to her -- she could have copied a response off Ostella's website, in which she denied Taitz's claims. Further, Schilling and WND have thus far refused to report on a lawsuit filed against Taitz by another birth certificate obsessive, Philip Berg (who initial claims about Obama's birth certificate WND debunked before reversing course and pretending it didn't) to which Ostella is a party and which in part rebuts Taitz's claims about Ostella.

Such sycophancy was also exhibited in Schilling's reporting on the recent National Tea Party Convention. As ConWebWatch detailed, Schilling ignored or whitewashed controversies surrounding the convention, and her coverage of the convention itself was limited to fluffy, near-stenographic accounts of speeches by the likes of her boss, Joseph Farah.

Schilling took dubious sourcing to a different level in two separate September 2009 articles that referenced a claim by "investigative journalist Wayne Madsen" that "even scientists who helped develop a vaccine for small pox are saying they will not take the vaccine and urging friends and family to refrain from taking the injection as well." But as ConWebWatch noted, Madsen has a record of making dubious claims -- including claims about Barack Obama's birth certificate that apparently even the rabid birthers at WND didn't find credible enough to embrace.

Schilling came dangerously close to, if not actually committing, libel in an Oct. 5, 2009, article that repeated unsubstantiated claims about a Virginia high school teacher. Schilling wrote that according to an unnamed parent,"English teacher Kathleen Renard provided her personal copy of a book called 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' by Stephen Chbosky to one of her English students, and it was passed to his son." The book was made available as part of marking the American Library Association's "Banned Book Week." Schilling provided a long list of bullet points of the book's purportedly offensive content -- "sex acts between teenagers," "suicide," and "attempted sex between a boy and a dog" among them -- but Schilling made no attempt to place them in context, indicating that she had not read the book she was reporting about.

Schilling went on to smear the teacher by suggesting she intended to molest her students, writing that the parent "mentioned WND's big list of teachers who have sexual relationships with minor students and said he is concerned that a teacher who provides sexually explicit reading material to her students could have ulterior motives." Such an obviously false, malicious statement could very well be considered libel, giving the teacher grounds to sue WND -- and win. (We know WND's track record on that subject.)

At any other news organization, a reporter with a record of bias and falsehoods as long as Schilling's would not last long on the job. That she still remains employed at WND tells you a good deal about Joseph Farah's standards.

Perhaps he's too blinded by Schilling's perfect GPA to notice her mounting record of shoddy journalism.

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