The WND Funding Crisis Du Jour
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah put out a lot of bluster and conspiracy theories to cajole readers into keeping his company alive -- though he had to stealthily extend his self-imposed deadline a couple weeks in order to (barely) meet his goal.
By Terry Krepel
For almost 25 years, WND has blazed trails in the new media world as the first independent online news site. We were challenged, vilified and made sport of by the state-run media, but it was not until 2017 that Google and Facebook along with Twitter, Apple and Amazon joined forces against us.
Farah is lying when he says that every single story WND has published is "TRUE" -- ConWebWatch has documented numerous examples of false and misleading information WND has published, not to mention the defamation lawsuit from a Tennessee car dealer it abruptly settled out of court shortly before trial after dragging things out for years by, in part, admitting that the stories it published calling him a drug dealer were false.
Also, Google and Facebook are private companies that have terms of service by which they have every right to remove or restrict those who violate it. WND publishes conspiracy theories and many stories of dubious factual content, and because one of the services Google and Facebook provide is accurate information to their subscribers and users, they have under no obligation to promote information that's not true masquerading as "news."
Farah also invoked Google critic Robert Epstein to attack the company for is allegedly "demonstrable pro-Democrat activism" in the 2016 election. But as ConWebWatch has documented, Epstein's research, as clickbait-y as it is for right-wingers like WND and Farah, leaves something to be desired.
After more ranting, Farah got to the sales pitch:
WND has been forcibly downsized by these leftists by 80% since January 2017. There's a direct correlation between the percentage of Google-Facebook advertising revenue control and the decline in advertising revenue at WND in the same time period.Nah, that's not gonna happen. Bad-quality "news" operations like WND will go down, but those who publish quality news will not be affected -- and America will survive. Farah is once again trying to blame the "digital cartel" for his own failings in how he has run WND for the past two decades. Sensationalism and conspiracy theories sell -- but only to a certain extent. If WND published content that was truthful and of high quality, he would not be as affected as he is by the shift away from advertising that nearly all online media operations face. The fact that Farah is begging for money tells us that the WND News Center and ad-free subscription plans -- which didn't launch until late 2020, nearly two years after WND's current round of existential crises began -- aren't bringing the money they need and were too little too late. Apparently, not as many other websites want to republish WND's dubious content as it was counting on.
More importantly, WND never deviated from the content that played a major role in driving WND into the ditch -- it's still obsessed with conspiracy theories and publishing less-than-truthful content. It didn't change, and hasn't shown that it deserves to live.
After that initial beg, most of Farah's columns since then have been tirades against "big tech," with similar pleas for money and the occasional update. On June 23, Farah wrote that the drive had raised $12,517.38, which he insisted was "a good start, but we have three weeks left to raise the remaining $87,483."
Weirdly, this campaign was being promoted only in Farah's column and not anywhere else on the WND website, even though higher visibility might help to raise more money. That fundamental mismanagement may be another sign WND doesn't deserve to live.
But in his June 30 column, Farah moved the deadline, giving himself a couple more weeks to raise the money: "As of today, we've raised $23,564. Thank you sincerely for that, all who donated. Now we need to raise the remaining $76,436 by the end of July." Farah did not explain why his deadline moved.
Looks like another WND fund-raising campaign completely devoid of transparency -- even as Farah bashes the "digital cartel" for an alleged lack of transparency.
It turned out to be a good thing for WND that Farah quietly extended the deadline; he revealed in his July 16 column that WND had received only $57,291 of its $100,000 goal. Meanwhile, Farah continued to ramp up the victimization, the pro-Trump fealty and the ridiculousness to drum up donations. His July 20 column was immodestly headlined "My 2-point plan for survival of the Republic (not kidding!)," which only got even more immodest from there:
Ask yourself if America is better off now than it was in 2016. Are you thankful for what President Trump accomplished? Today we're headed in the wrong direction. It could all end very quickly if the opposition party, backed by Google-Facebook, prevails at the polls.
Yes, Farah really thinks giving him your money will save the republic.
When I awakened to the threat to free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and our right to free and fair elections posed by this cartel, it was because my own company, WND, the product of 25 years of blood, sweat and tears, was caught in the crossfire. It's not that we were targeted because we were the biggest fish. It was because Donald Trump, and all he represented, was a threat to the cabal and their ultra-progressive friends in Washington. We were just collateral damage, roadkill because we were perceived, as others in the alternative, independent media, as key enablers and facilitators of the 2016 Trump upset.
WND is failing because it publishes fake news, but you be you, Joe.
On July 22, Farah immodestly portrayed himself as being in an "epic, existential battle with Big Tech," which involved him playing victim again:
I'm an expert on Google, but all the Big Tech companies are the same, as far as I can tell. Things have only gotten worse in the last 10 years far worse. It hit home with me when I saw the company I built from scratch more than 25 years ago, my life's work, ravaged by the cartel's wrecking ball reduced in revenues by more than half in 24 months.
In the midst of his daily money beg, Farah once again stated, "Remember, if WND goes down, soon the independent free press will be a thing of the past, and with it, our uniquely blessed nation."
By the end of his campaign, though, WND met its fund-raising goal of $100,000 -- but just barely. But Farah was ready to gush anyway in his Aug. 2 column:
I am so grateful!
Farah spent the rest of his column rehashing a Wall Street Journal editorial encouraging the right-wing push to rewrite Section 230 to stop "Big Tech" companies from enforcing their own terms of service as other private companies are allowed to do. He concluded by lamenting: "Censorship has become a reality in America. We cannot afford to allow it to be accepted. If we do, America will no longer be a beacon of truth. Right now, that beacon is growing faint."
Of course, enforcement of terms of service is not "censorship." And WND isn't being "censored" -- it's facing the consequences of years of promoting fake news, because "Big Tech" has no legal obligation to help spread anyone else's falsehoods and misinformation. Needless to say, Farah will never admit that inconvenient fact.