The Continuing Crisis -- And Consequences -- At WND
Joseph Farah and Co. would rather spread conspiracy theories than admit that spreading fake news and conspiracy-mongering is what's killing WorldNetDaily.
By Terry Krepel
The war between WND and Google's ad services flared up again in mid-2021, when Google once again refused to host its ads on WND because of the aforementioned low-quality content. An Aug. 6 article complained that Google "stopped serving its ads on WND's homepage, apparently because the tech giant deemed many of the news site's stories and opinion columns to contain 'unreliable and harmful claims.'" WND cited as an example of such a claim a column by Wayne Allyn Root; as ConWebWatch documented, WND misrepresented Root's claims to make them seem more benign than they were. WND then served up more misinformation to make Google look like the bad guy.
What WND didn't do, however, is institute any sort of quality control or competent editing to keep misinformation from being published on its website -- even though publishing misinformation is the quickest way to kill a news organization. A couple months later, Google has made its final decision, as a panic-stricken Nov. 2 WND article detailed (though not so panic-stricken that it didn't forget to portray itself as a victim):
Over the last few years, Big Tech has unleashed many different attacks on WND, the pioneering Christian journalism organization now in its 25th year. From classifying WND as an "extremist group," to writing WND out of its search algorithms, to de-monetizing WND's YouTube channel, to confining WND to "Facebook jail" for over a year, the attacks never end.
WND is misleading here by claiming that Google Ads "demonetized" WND. That's not what happened -- Google and WND had a business agreement, and WND repeatedly violated the terms of that agreement. Typically, if one party violates the terms of a business deal, the other party has every right to terminate that deal. That appears to be what happened here.
Unspririsingly, WND served up its own factually deficient interpretation of the terms of Google's cutoff:
We do not allow content," explains Google, "that incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization." Or which "harasses, intimidates, or bullies an individual or group of individuals."
Thanks, Mr. Kupelian, for demonstrating the transphobic hate that justified Google's monetary cutoff (though that's probably not what he was going for). He's also lying about reporting "truthfully and accurately" on COVID; ConWebWatch has documented example after example of WND peddling misinformation and outright lies on the subject.
WND finally got around to admitting one key component of Google's ceasing of its business agreement:
Strangely, one key component of WND's supposedly "dangerous, derogatory, unreliable and harmful" content, Google contends, has to do with comments posted by WND readers. If, for example, a reader posts his or her personal views in WND's commenting section, and if those comments are interpreted by Google to be racist or derogatory or unreliable, WND is held responsible.
Does this purported commitment to non-censorship of comments mean WND will stop blocking us from posting comments to its website, which it had done previously? Not likely -- WND doesn't want us telling the truth about it directly to its readers. Meanwhile, the article repeated Kupelian's lie that WND reports "truthfully":
Of course, it is not merely reader comments to which Google objects. A good measure of WND's news reporting published daily currently focuses on the three big topics Google cites as most troubling: "COVID misinformation," allegations of voter fraud, and the transgender issue.
ConWebWatch has also busted WND for spreading lies and misinformation on "allegations of voter fraud." Unsurprisingly, the article ended with begging for money for the "WND News Center," which was begun way too late to make a significant dent in WND's current financial situation.
Editor Joseph Farah somewhat lazily repeated much of this in his Nov. 4 column, with additional counterfactual whining: "What they've done to WND is tyranny nothing short of it. No business certainly none with unprecedented profits has any claim to such powers." (He also begged for money.)
As a private business like WND, Google has every right to run it the way it wants -- which includes giving low priority to WND's low-quality "news" in its searches and terminating business agreements with companies that repeatedly violate its terms of service. Nobody is obligated to do business with WND, as should be painfully obvious by now to Farah, Kupelian and Co. Only at WND would normal business practices that don't go its way be depicted as "tyranny."
Farah used his Nov. 9 column to once again trot out his anti-Google conspiracy theories and blaming it for its financial problems because it allegedly buried WND in search results:
Back in normal times, WND regularly showed up among the top of Google News results; now it never does. Even worse are the words it uses to characterize our stories "dangerous," "derogatory," even "shocking content." These labels are all applied to TRUE stories all of which have panned out. But few got to read them, because Google made sure its algorithm condemned those stories to the internet's black hole.
This, of course, completely ignores that Google, as a private business, has a responsibility to users to deliver quality search results from reliable sources, and WND's history of misinformation and conspiracy theories makes it anything but reliable.
Farah went on to cite anti-Google crusader Robert Epstein, but censors the fact that Epstein's research has been called into question because of its dubious and partisan nature. He went on to rant:
But there's not much time left for WND, the site that once set the records for breaking the mold. I'll be honest, we are in SURVIVAL MODE. We have less than one-fifteenth of the resources we had in 2016! Why? Because we had the audacity to support Donald Trump. That was our "crime."
Farah is lying. The current state of WND's finances is directly attributable to the low quality of its "news" -- again, littered with misinformation and conspiracy theories -- and not because it supported Trump. Other Trump-friendly outlets are doing well financially; how does Farah explain that?
Farah then announced a money beg: "Our goal is to raise at least $100,000 through the end of the year for the kind of hard-hitting, breathtaking journalism you've come to know us for!"
Farah devoted his Nov. 15 column to attack Google as well:
Actually, they're all true, but Farah will never admit it. Farah went on to repeat his like about Google targeting WND because it supported Trump, adding:
It started, as I've said in the past, in 2016. We were enthusiastically supportive of Donald Trump. That was our major "error." We plead guilty. But for Google, this is a capital offense.
Again, ConWebWatch has caught WND publishing misinformation and lies about all those things. Again, Farah will never admit it. This time, he asked for prayers on top of money.
Strangely, WND didn't (or couldn't) embed the interview in the article, so one must travel to the Dr. Gina website to access it. Elizabeth Farah starts out by embellishing WND's history: "We started out as a for-profit news organization, a business that just wanted to do the right thing in journalism." Actually, WND started out as a division of Joseph Farah's right-wing nonprofit Western Journalism Center and was then spun off as a for-profit business. And "the right thing" always meant right-wing bias at WND.
Farah went on to claim that Google met in the Obama White House "four or five hundred times" to create "plans of suppression" against "alternate news." Farah is surprisingly correct about the number of Google-related visits to the Obama White House, but the idea that they were somehow forming "plans of suppression" against right-wing media appears to be a figment of her imagination designed to boost WND's victimhood narrative.
Loudon returned the favor by going into full suck-up mode: "It says so much that they did go after you because there was such a credibility there, as you said, with award-winning journalists and everything else, but also those who were willing to mentor folks like me who ended up in professional media, so you've done a service, you deserve people to fight back for you." Yeesh.
Farah played the victim again in his Nov. 22 column:
A few years ago, we were one of the most successful sites in the world. But Google began punishing us relentlessly in 2016 when we began fairly covering Donald Trump's campaign. It was the beginning of a nightmare. For 20 years, we were on top of the world doing extensive, intrepid investigative reporting and having a great time with an outstanding team of professionals.
Farah didn't deny that WND is "extremist" with "dangerous or derogatory content" and "unreliable and harmful claims" -- he simply begged for money from readers.
Farah did it once more in his Dec. 17 column:
You know what Donald Trump accomplished as our 45th president.
Farah offered absolutely no proof to support that bit conspiracy-mongering, of course. He then played the religion card:
Today I'm not just asking for your financial contributions, I'm asking for your fervent prayers. Because this is very much a SPIRITUAL WAR, not just a matter of corrupt, politically motivated crony monopoly capitalism at its worst.
It's doubtful that God approves of the lies, hate and misinformation WND publishes, so the focus of those prayers seems to be misdirected.
As the new year came, though, Farah's pleas began sounding a little less conspiratorial and a lot more desperate -- evidence, perhaps, that reality is slowly registering on Farah. He spent his Jan. 10 column rehashing his life story from self-proclaimed "left-wing radical" to Christian and Reagan acolyte, which ultimately led to him running a paper in Sacramento, Calif., where Rush Limbaugh was a then-local radio host he convinced to write a daily column: "Suddenly, our circulation lines were ringing off the hook. Thanks to a hometown hero who literally owned the market, the subscription scheme was red-hot! People called in from all over Northern California where KFBK was heard not just Sacramento." Actually, as ConWebWatch documented, the paper's circulation dropped during Farah's editorship.
Farah wouldn't give up the conspiracy-mongering completely, of course:
To say WND was a hit from the start, and for at least the first 20 years, would be a gross understatement.
Farah concluded by again begging for prayers and money.
The next day, Farah ratcheted up the pathos:
I didn't want to write this letter. I really didn't. It is tough for me to write.
But WND doesn't tell readers "the truth" --it lies and misinforms, potentially hurting those readers who insisting on clinging to it. WND is contributing to that "climate of wall-to-wall lies" -- and Farah unironically repeated some more in the middle of this. After rehashing his Google conspiracy theory, he wrote, referencing his own health:
Then the other shoe dropped: I had a series of five strokes that left me unable to speak at all. I'm just now getting my speech back, but I'm not the same person. I have a long way to go for full recovery.
Farah insists on clinging to Trump's Big Lie despite all evidence to the contrary. Who's the real "nasty, senile man" here?
Farah went into his usual money beg this way:
Indeed, I could relate countless examples of how God has pulled us through when I didn't see any hope. Now I'm hoping God's Holy Spirit will move upon the hearts of His people to pull us through. I'm still praying. But it's not guaranteed we'll still be here.
But WND will never grow or survive in its current form. The only way Farah has a chance of saving WND is if he repents of, and earnestly corrects, the decades of lies and misinformation that are the real reason for WND's current extinction-level event. He needs to ask God for forgiveness for all those year of deceiving his readers by putting ideology and conspiracy theories before facts.
But however "tough" that last money-beg was for his to write, Farah will never truly repent. He will never admit he was suckered by a lie, and that he has lied to others -- a history that is well-documented here, no matter how loudly he insists that WND publishes "truth." To do so would be to admit that the past few decades of his life have been a hollow waste -- a pursuit of political and ideological power that squashed any journalistic mission he claimed to have -- and he's clearly not ready to handle that truth.
WND created the financial hole it has found itself in for the past few years. It has no one to blame but itself for what may be the endgame it now faces.