ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

Bad Business At WND

The inability to understand how capitalism works -- and its knee-jerk insistence on falsely blaming the creative destruction of capitalism on the "Obama economy" -- is one big reason why WorldNetDaily is in serious financial trouble.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/21/2016

Joseph Farah

In June, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah sent a letter to WND's mailing list admitting that WND is in financial trouble and "faces an existential threat." Farah claimed he has kept the fact that WND "is in a sizable hole" hidden from the public until now because "I have been afraid to fail."

Naturally, Farah insisted this was all somehow President Obama's fault, not his own:

I won't go into all the details for a number of reasons. Some might sound like excuses. Others have to do with the very troubled Obama economy. But I will say this in all honesty: Barack Obama's early years were good for WND – even until three years ago. WND was an important opposition voice. People clung to it. They wanted to hear the truth. And they still do.

But, not enough people listened to that voice, because Obama was returned to office in 2012 and his policies have continued to ravage the very fabric of America's economy. Many businesses, including other media businesses, have also been hurt badly – some of them much bigger than WND. And just think of all the billion-dollar retail businesses that have collapsed in the last few years under Obama. We've dubbed it "The Retail Apocalypse," and that's no exaggeration. It's affecting everyone.

Farah carefully avoided the core issue: While readers do want to hear the truth from the media, that's not they're getting from WND. This is a website that went all in on hating Obama -- it was paying off well early in his presidency, as Farah admits -- then went even harder on Obama-hate for the 2012 election by publishing sleaze and lies about the president and refusing to admit its anti-Obama birther crusade was completely discredited.

Live by Obama-hate, die by Obama-hate. Farah is learning that lesson now.

Perhaps even more shocking is how little WND has done to repair its credibility after its 2012 debacle. It rebranded itself as "the largest Christian website in the world" in an apparent attempt to build itself with that audience, despite the fact that the only segment of Christianity WND genuinely cares about is far-right homeschooling types. It hired a couple reporters with recent experience in actual journalism (if working for the still-Moonie-associated Washington Times counts as such), but Cheryl Chumley and Douglas Ernst were as prone to slavishly push WND's right-wing editorial agenda as its regulars, and both have since departed WND.

Farah admitted that sales at its online store have "decline[d] precipitously in recent years," which strongly suggests that WND's mix of right-wing books and films, biblically based diet plans and prepper supplies (Russian gas masks, anyone?) is out of step with what people want to buy. That's WND's fault, not Obama's; meanwhile, online retail has been growing immensely overall.

Farah also stated that advertising revenue has also plunged -- due in no small part to WND's lack of credibility, whether Farah wants to admit it or not. And because WND has fewer readers, there are fewer eyeballs to lure to its online store.

Naturally, Farah's answer to all this is the decidedly non-capitalistic solution of sending him money, in the form of buying from the out-of-touch online store, subscribing to its Whistleblower magazine or just giving WND cash directly for apparently nothing in return.

Perhaps WND's financial issues stem from its fundamental ignorance of how the economy works, with its eagerness to blame the creative destruction of the capitalist economic cycle on Obama.

Falsely blaming the 'Obama economy'

For instance, Bob Unruh declared in a Feb. 10 article:

The impact of the “Obama economy,” those ups and downs attributed to the tax-and-spend policies implemented by the president’s administration, is moving further into negative territory with the announcement that dozens of additional retail stores across America are being closed down sooner than planned.

WND had reported only a few days ago on the effective retail apocalypse that was leaving stores closed and, in some places, entire malls shuttered because of the downward spiral of the nation’s economy.

But the examples Unruh cites to back this up have nothing to do with Obama. One was Sears, which stated it was "accelerating the closing of at least 50 locations that are unprofitable." In fact, Sears has been a dying company for years. One analytics firm pointed out how shopper preference for Sears has been plummeting over the past decade -- well before Obama took office -- and even its most loyal customers have ceased going there. And, even more damning, the company seems not to care.

Unruh also featured analyst Michael Snyder claiming, "In impoverished urban centers all over the nation, it is not uncommon to find entire malls that have now been completely abandoned." It's true that malls are closing, but again, that has nothing to do with the "Obama economy." The conservative Daily Caller has noted that "the mall itself is an inefficient system" and that shopping preferences have shifted to other types of retail, as well as the Internet.

Also, malls as a general rule are not built in "impoverished urban centers," as Snyder claims; they're mostly found in prosperous suburban and exurban areas.

Unruh ultimately concedes some of this, admitting that "online shopping, maxed out credit and other factors were creating a shadow for America’s retail climate." Again, that's not the "Obama economy" at work; that's capitalism.

In May, Unruh puts a renewed focus on this in the wake of far-right-fringe radio host (whose website is hosted by WND) Michael Savage's baseless, paranoid declaration that Obama would deliberately sabotage the economy as he left office:

Talk-radio host Michael Savage recently warned his listeners that President Obama could “crash” the economy “on his way out the door.”

But there are indications the disintegration already has begun.

For example, American retailing icon JCPenney has slashed its payroll, cut hours and frozen overtime.


There also was the bankruptcy of Aeropostale, a retailer targeting teens. It had lost money for more than three years before announcing it will close 113 stores in the United States, in addition to its 41 stories in Canada, as it seeks to “achieve long-term financial stability.”

The sporting goods giant Sports Authority is trying to sell off parts the company, and hundreds of stores are closing.

Needless to say, in his rush to blame these stores' woes on Obama -- for which he provides no direct action committed by the president that led to said woes -- Unruh mostly ignored the actual reasons these retailers are in trouble. We know he deliberately ignored them because they were in the articles he linked to in support his story.

Regarding JCPenney, the article to which Unruh linked specifically cites slow sales earlier this year as well as continued recovery from a disastrous turnaround effort a few years back which led to "its shares declining 51 percent."

While Unruh did admit that Aeropostale "had lost money for more than three years," the story to which he links points out that "sales declines had accelerated recently -- plummeting 16% in the most recent quarter" and that fast-fashion chains like H&M, Zara and Forever 21 are eating older chains like Aeropostale for lunch.

And the Denver Post story to which Unruh links regarding Sports Authority points out that the chain has been "saddled with debt and an inefficient operations base."

In all this, Unruh omitted one other crucial fact: None of those stories even mentions Obama, let alone blames him for the state of their retail chains.

Unruh also copied-and-pasted Snyder's ludicrous claim about malls closing in "impoverished urban centers all over the nation," but his laughable attempt to blame the decline of malls on Obama is undermined by his quoting of another analyst pointing out that "The heyday of malls seems to be passing." Which, again, is not Obama's fault.

Unruh then quoted blaming Obama for the current low labor force participation rate, ignoring the fact that the number is meaningless because most people who aren't in the labor force aren't looking for work because they're retired (like a majority of baby boomers) or students. CNS is obsessed with falsely presenting this number as a meaningful indicator of unemployment.

Unruh concluded his article by taking Obama out of context:

Just a week ago Obama, in an interview with New York Times Magazine, admitted he could have done more to help the economy.

“I can probably tick off three or four common-sense things we could have done where we’d be growing a percentage or two faster each year,” he said. “We could have brought down the unemployment rate lower, faster. We could have been lifting wages even faster than we did.”

Actually, as the full context of the interview in which Obama made those remarks makes clear, Obama was saying he could have done these things if Republicans were interested in cooperating with him in doing them, which they weren't: Obama also said that "without Congress, the big legislative moves, the ones that would really change history, seemed past."

Obama blamed, Trump credited for Macy's fall

Unruh struck again in August, this time trying to blame Obama for Macy's closing 100 stores:

Only two months ago, WND reported Macy’s stock had plunged precipitously after it summarily dropped its business connections to now-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump when he announced his bid for the White House.

Now Macy’s is announcing the closure of another 100 stores, a move that, according to a retail industry website, pushes the total number of stores closed by retailers in the United States since the beginning of 2015 – a period for which President Obama boasts of a rising economy – to more than 11,000.

The economy, in fact, has been horrible under Obama. A report just this week in the Weekly Standard said: “In truth, the economy under President Barack Obama has been historically bad. How bad? Adjusted for inflation, average yearly GDP growth under President Obama has been less than half of what it was under President Jimmy Carter, 1.5 percent to 3.3 percent.”

Let's sort through all this BS Unruh is peddling. In fact, Macy's didn't not link the store closings to the state of the economy; it has said the stores to be closed are underperforming, and analysts point out that Macy's needs to adjust its business model as more customers shop online or turn to off-price and fast-fashion retailers instead of Macy's traditional department store. And far from being considered bad news by investors, Macy's stock went up 17 percent after the news was announced.

Also, WND's insistence that "the economy, in fact, has been horrible under Obama" is a dubious claim; it's hard to claim that continued GDP growth under Obama is somehow "horrible." And just a few days before Unruh's article was published, all three major stock indices hit record highs.

Unruh also rehashed a claim that Macy's woes are tied to Donald Trump: "Macy’s stock has plunged precipitously since it severed connections to Donald Trump’s product lines last year." WND made this claim in June, touting how Trump "is now the presumptive Republican candidate for president of the United States. Meanwhile, Macy’s stock price has plummeted," implying the company's problems were the direct result of it dropping Trump's clothing line after he smeared immigrants in his campaign rhetoric -- something no serious economic analyst has argued.

The anonymous writer of the WND article went on to sneer: "Not coincidentally, Trump’s 'Signature Collection' clothing line is now available for sale through Amazon." Well, not exactly. Macy's was the exclusive retailer of the Trump clothing line, and nobody else has picked it up. The clothing conglomerate that made the clothes for Macy's, PVH, also wound down its involvement in the licensing deal. This means nobody is currently selling first-run Trump clothing.

Tellingly, WND doesn't link to to prove that Trump's clothing line "is now available for sale through Amazon." Rather, it linked to Trump's corporate website, which in turn links to Amazon for the categories of neckwear, dress shirts, suits and accessories. But Amazon itself is not selling those items.

For instance a Trump dress shirt states that it "Ships from and sold by WearLegit." A set of Trump cufflinks says, "Sold by 707 Street and Fulfilled by Amazon." And a Trump suit says it's "Sold by Suits Empire and Fulfilled by Amazon."

In other words, most -- if not all -- of the Trump clothing at Amazon is being sold by third-party sellers who probably bought it on clearance from Macy's and are simply using Amazon as a platform to resell it. The Trump clothing on Amazon is effectively secondhand, even if it may be "new" and in the original packaging.

People trying to make a buck on liquidated Trump goods? Now that's capitalism at work.

Apparently, WND doesn't believe in capitalism when it doesn't serve WND anti-Obama agenda -- or when it shows the failure of its business model.

* * *

At the end of June, Farah sent out another letter to WND's mailing list proclaiming his website's financial crisis over and explaining how hard it was to ask for help: "We're not completely out of the woods, but you have helped buy us some time, for which I am endlessly grateful."

Farah blamed the "Obama economy' yet again, but he did not mention how much money was actually raised from his begging effort, which would make it much easier for donors to judge whether WND's financial problems are, in fact, over. Such secrecy is not a good sign when you're begging for money from the public, but it's never a good thing if WND is apparently such a financial pariah that Farah can't find legitimate private investors or other conventional -- and conventionally capitalist -- financing to keep it alive and must resort to socialist-style public begging.

Farah claimed that WND reports the "accurate and undistorted truth about what's really going on in this chaotic world of ours" -- which, of course, is an undisputed lie. The list of lies told by Farah alone is an extremely long one. WND's lies are contributing to the chaos, not making things clearer. Remember, Farah is weirdly proud of the fact that his website publishes misinformation, and even a press-release mill decided that WND was not “credible” enough to promote.

Farah added, "I wrote a letter that was the toughest thing for me to do. I knew our enemies would see it, too. I hated to give them comfort. And, boy, did it ever." Actually, ConWebWatch was pretty much the only website that reported on WND's financial issues (which we also did at the Huffington Post). Which means he has declared us his enemy. We're flattered.

Send this page to:

Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-2016 Terry Krepel