The Fake News Tally At WND
WorldNetDaily can't stop publishing fake news, and it hasn't told readers the cybercurrency it gave away was a scam or that a Seth Rich defamation lawsuit was settled. Shockingly, though, it stayed away from a birther conspiracy story that was right up its alley.
By Terry Krepel
WorldNetDaily has a grand tradition of publishing fake news, and it's not about to let its severe financial problems get in the way of that (even though that grand tradition helped cause said financial problems) -- which does not inspire confidence in answering in the affirmative about whether WND deserves to live. Let's tally what it has done over the past year or so, shall we?
An anonymously written November 2019 WND article asserted:
A Ukrainian member of parliament says that Hunter Biden and his corporate cronies made $16.5 million from the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings.
But as an actual news organization reported, this isn't true: no indictment was announced. Further, "ZeroHedge apparently misconstrued the original Russian article from the Interfax-Ukraine News Agency, which did not mention an indictment. The Interfax-Ukraine News Agency operates as part of Interfax, a Russian news outlet."
In other words, ZeroHedge is pushing Russian propaganda, it got that propaganda wrong to the point that it became even more propagandistic. The original ZeroHedge article has been corrected to more accurately state that "a document leaked from the Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General contains claims against Burisma owner Nikolai Zlochevsky."
That actual fact-reporting news organization also cited an expert on Russian kleptocracy, who pointed out that Dubinsky, the Ukraine official helping to push this claim, is "not credible" and that he and a fellow Ukraine official who also pushed this claim are "professional disinformers. ... Anybody who’s anybody knows about these two. They are not credible." WND didn't mention that either, which tells us that it (and ZeroHedge) are not among the "anybody who's anybody."
Meanwhile, WND's article remains uncorrected.
There's another claim in the WND article that's false as well: the assertion that the Ukrainian prosecutor Biden wanted fired "was investigating Burisma at the time." In fact, the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was not investigating Burisma or much else at the time, which is why Biden (and other European countries) wanted him fired.
On Dec. 14, WND stole a post from fake-news generator Gateway Pundit:
A 14-year-old student in Hamilton County, Florida, was hospitalized after being brutally attacked by multiple classmates on the schoolbus for wearing a Trump hat to school.
As it turned out, that basically wasn't true. The school district where the alleged incident took place stated that not only was there "no evidence" the student was wearing his Trump hat at the time of the assault, but that "The incident began with a verbal altercation between two students that escalated when additional students became involved." Meanwhile, the local sheriff's office added that there was no evidence of a hate crime in the assault, though several juveniles were charged with battery as a result of the alleged incident.
Further, as Media Matters reported, the Twitter account on which news of the alleged assault first surfaced has also promoted far-right QAnon conspiracy theories, and it changed its story about the incident -- first claiming that "8 black kids" assaulted the boy, later changing it to "two girls and 3 boys."
But WND clearly wasn't about to let the fact that the claim isn't true get in the way of a good story. The next day, it published an article by Jared Harris of the Western Journal pooh-poohing the evidence proving the story wrong and clinging to the conspiracy.
Harris did not report the fact that the school district found no evidence the Trump hat played a role in the assault, nor did he report that the first account of the alleged assault was false or that it came from a QAnon-linked Twitter account.
WND doesn't seem to understand that simply finding a different source for the fake news it publishes doesn't address its credibility problems.
WND tried to be provocative in an anonymously written Feb. 2 article headlined "'Just die, Grandpa': Doctors push 'full totalitarian' health care." It features dubious doc Jane Orient from the fringe-right Association of American Physicians and Surgeons ranting against an American College of Physicians proposal to achieve universal healthcare coverage, which in WND's telling "the elderly are given painkillers to die as a matter of efficiency."
However, the "Just die, Grandpa" quote appears nowhere in the article or in any item to which the article linked, such as an AAPS promotion of a white paper by Orient denouncing Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (or in the white paper itself). Nor did the quote appear in a Daily Mail article about the plan that WND referenced but did not link to, or in another AAPS item attacking the ACP plan that WND also did not link to.
Could it be that WND simply made up the "Just die, Grandpa" quote as clickbait to fearmonger about the ACP plan? If WND can't demonstrate where this quote came from and is apparently just making stuff up, it doesn't inspire any confidence about the veracity of anything on its website and, thus, WND's future.
NBC News reported in October how a nonexistent investigative firm headed by one Martin Aspen -- who does not exist; his alleged photo was created by an artificial intelligence face generator -- issued a dossier that claims to detail Hunter Biden's dealings in China. It was further forwarded by a blogger and professor named Christopher Balding, who had been quoted as saying "I want to strongly emphasize I did not write the report but I know who did" but later admitted he did some writing for it.
NBC noted that, despite its dubious origins, the report had gained "virality in conservative and conspiracy communities," where "hyperpartisan and conspiracy sites like ZeroHedge and WorldNetDaily led the pack."
As is par for the course, WND has yet to acknowledge the completely shady origin of the report it promoted, let alone apologize and correct the record.
WND's Art Moore followed up with a piece noting the NBC story abut the bogus dossier -- then spun it as an attempt by the "establishment media" to discredit the right-wing media's overall Hunter Biden narrative. He did not acknowledge that WND had promoted the bogus story.
Project Veritas fake news
An anonymous WorldNetDaily staffer breathlessly wrote in a June 4 article:
An undercover video released Thursday by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas shows an instructor for the far-left militant movement Antifa teaching newcomers how to injure people.
But WND didn't tell its readers that the Project Veritas video was deceptively edited to suggest it depicted something going on currently; in fact, the bookstore where the training was allegedly taking place closed two years ago.
Uncritically repeating right-wing propaganda without bothering to fact-check it is not a good look for something that claims to be a "news" organization.
WND fell for Project Veritas' frauds again later in the year. An anonymously written Sept. 28 WND article breathlessly reported:
A Project Veritas undercover investigation released Sunday night alleges paid workers in the district of Rep. Ilhan Omar in Minneapolis are illegally gathering absentee ballots from elderly Somali immigrants.
WND offered a follow-up the next day:
An undercover video investigation by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas revealed a Minnesota-based source describes Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., as the mastermind behind a cash-for-ballots, voter-fraud scheme.
One little problem: none of this appears to be true. The Daily Dot reported that Jamal's Somali Watchdog Group may not actually exist, with its website getting registered only two months ago -- about the time that Project Veritas started its alleged sting -- and it couldn't find anyone else associated with the group other than Jamal. Jamal also claimed he worked with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department, which couldn't be verified and which Project Veritas didn't provide verification of.
Meanwhile, Liban Mohamed Osman has said that Jamal offered him $10,000 to claim he was taking part in voter fraud for Omar. And Jamal himself has backtracked on claims he made in Project Veritas videos and says he hasn't met anyone who received cash in exchange for a vote.
WND hasn't told you any of this, nor has it updated or corrected any of its original reporting. The only other reference to this story it has done is an Oct. 4 item repeating a Fox News piece on alleged Democrat Tulsi Gabbard promoting the story. Needless to say, WND did not report that Gabbard has since apologized to Omar.
Promoting bogus stories and refusing to correct the record when they've been exposed as bogus? That's the WND we know.
Side note: One of the Project Veritas employees desperately trying to defend their work is Jered Ede, its chief legal officer. That name might sound a little familiar for his previous work of fraud: He was an intern for CNSNews.com in 2005, when he falsely accused Paul Begala of claiming that Republicans "want to kill us." Further, his idea of "journalism" when he was editor of a conservative magazine at Johns Hopkins University was to illustrate an article with a picture of a dog defecating on a picture of Bill Clinton -- the kind of work that would seem to make him a sadly good fit for Project Veritas.
Update 1: WND-involved bitcoin scam revealed
Remember when WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah spent several months in 2018 trying to entice people into donating money to WND by throwing in some scammy-sounding ersatz bitcoin-style cybercurrency in which convicted felon (and WND author) Jack Abramoff was involved? Well, it has certainly lived up to its scamminess.
In June, Marcus Andrade, founder of the NAC Foundation -- which issued the AML Bitcoin cybercurrency that WND gave away to donors -- was indicted on charges of fraud and money laundering, accused of raising money from investors by claiming the funds would be converted into AML Bitcoin that went elsewhere, as well as of falsely stating the extent of his relationships with governmental officials in Panama and California. Abramoff was indicted as well on similar charges.
The indictments had the fallout of costing Peter Ferrara -- a conservative writer with ties to the right-wing Heartland Institute -- his job as an instructor at King's College in New York City when it was revealed that Ferrara published an article in the similarly right-wing Investor's Business Daily touting AML Bitcoin while not disclosing that Abramoff had arranged compensation for him in apparent exchange for the mention.
The feds have also accused Abramoff of arranging payment to other conservative writers who advanced a narrative that NBC had refused to run a Super Bowl ad promoting the nascent cybercurrency -- a claim that was easily proven to be fake.
You will not be surprised to learn that WND hasn't told its readers about any of this, despite managing editor David Kupelian's laughable insistence that WND publishes the "truth." The last mention of the cryptocurrency at WND is an October 2018 column by Farah trying to sucker more donors: "It's possible that your contribution to WND will in the future pay for itself and then some. In fact, I'm counting on it!"
As of this writing, an AML Bitcoin is still valued at pennies a piece. So much for Farah's prediction.
Update 2: WND silent on Seth Rich lawsuit settlement
In late November, it was announced that Fox News had settled a lawsuit filed by the family of Seth Rich -- which reportedly involves paying the Rich family a seven-figure settlement -- over a false story it published on its website pushing the conspiracy theory that Rich, a Democratic staffer who was murdered in 2016, was killed because he leaked Democratic emails to WikiLeaks.
Strangely, WorldNetDaily has not reported the settlement to its readers. Why? Perhaps because it narrowly avoided getting sued itself.
WND even created a GoFundMe page to purportedly fund reporting to "help crack" Rich's murder, cynically and falsely suggesting that the Rich family supported it; the campaign raised less than $5,000 and nobody has donated to it in more than two years. (The fact that WND fired all its reporters as it sank into financial insolvency might also be an issue in doing any sort of reporting on that or anything else.)
While WND has largely stayed away from spreading Seth Rich over the past couple of years, neither has it told readers the conspiracy theories are frauds. WND columnist Jack Cashill didn't get that message, though, pushing those conspiracy theories anew in a column appropriately published on April 1.
WND largely staying away from this story also means that it hasn't apologized to its readers for treating lies as truth. Until it can start to behave honestly, there's no reason to believe it has learned any lessons from its ongoing death spiral, and therefore hasn't demonstrated that it deserves to live.
A conspiracy theory it didn't embrace
WND does get credit, however, for staying away from one conspiracy theory that was right up its alley.
Given that WND is best known for its eight-year embrace of the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not eligible to be president because he may have been born in Kenya (or some other reason), you'd think it would be rushing to promote the conspiracy theory that Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris isn't eligible to hold the position.
Shockingly, that's not the case -- at least not yet.
When the question popped up in August, WND published only two articles on the subject, both of which it stole from other sources: a Washington Examiner piece on President Trump declaring he'll "take a look" at the claim, which also noted that Harris was "born in the United States" and, thus, in eligible; and an item from The Hill noting that Newsweek magazine apologized for publishing a column advancing the conspiracy theory.
That's it. WND shockingly stayed away.
Note that WND is still laughably sourcing these articles it steals without permission or payment to "WND News Services." In fact, it pays no other "news service" for the use of other people's content, as it has since its founding, claiming that its theft of others' property is "fair use."