What does it say about the credibility of a "news" organization when its leader has been caught in lie after lie?
That's the situation WorldNetDaily finds itself. Its founder and editor, Joseph Farah, has been using his weekday column to push lie after lie about President Obama and his administration. These are not particularly clever lies; they are boldly stated and easily debunked by anyone who knows how to do a basic Google search.
Farah's June 14 column purported to offer "38 reasons why Obama should not be re-elected," a list he claimed is "a work of collaboration by me and some friends of mine -- some of whom feared retribution for speaking so plainly." But as could be expected from the editor of a website with a lengthy history of peddling falsehoods about Obama, Farah's column is filled with lies and misleading claims.
For instance, he wrote: "WHEN he said he favors sex education in kindergarten, including homosexual indoctrination, people said it didn't matter." In fact, Obama said he favors age-appropriate sex education, which for kindergartners means teaching them about "inappropriate touching." Farah's reference to "homosexual indoctrination" presumably means teaching something other than that gays are evil and deserve eternal damnation -- in other words, that they're human.
Farah also wrote, "WHEN the place of his birth was called into question, and he refused to produce a birth certificate, people said it didn't matter." In fact, Obama has produced a birth certificate. Two, in fact.
This column served as the start of Farah's newly aggressive campaign of lies against Obama. He lied again in his July 27 column, claiming that "During his 2008 campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama took off an American flag pin he had been wearing on his lapel," asserting that Obama did so "in a bid to 'change political fashion' and because he didn't like the way it was used to represent patriotism in America," adding: "You will notice that Obama has not worn that flag pin since that day he made a show of removing it."
First: Obama did not "make a show" of removing the flag pin -- a reporter noticed he wasn't wearing one and asked him about it.
Second: Obama never said he was trying to "change political fashion" -- that line came from an anchor in the TV news report Farah linked to in order to back up his claim, not from Obama.
Third: Farah is simply lying when he claims that "Obama has not worn that flag pin since that day." How do we know? Look at the picture of Obama on the cover of WorldNetWeekly (WND's repackaging of stories into a magazine-like e-publication) that came out the same week as Farah's column. What is it that Obama has on his lapel?
Why, it's a flag pin. Unless Farah can prove that this photo was taken before the above-referenced incident, this means Farah's own website has proven him a liar.
Why is Farah engaged in peddling these easily discredited lies? Because he wants you to send him some money. Later in the column, he states that he "ordered thousands of American flag lapel pins -- just like the one Obama discarded -- and am making them available to real Americans across the land to wear proudly leading up to Election Day in November. Unlike Obama, I think it is an excellent, inexpensive and powerful way to demonstrate one's patriotism."
In other words, Farah is lying in order to sell flag pins. How shameless and utterly craven.
At the end of his July 31 column, in which he accused Obama of having "mocked" the Bible in a 2006 speech -- in fact, Obama simply pointed out the undisputed fact that people interpret it differently and that in an exclusively Christian society it would be difficult to agree on "whose Christianity" to teach -- Farah asserts, "No one has seen Obama attend a church service or attend a Bible study since he got to the White House."
Again, Farah is simply lying through his teeth. Here's Obama going to church in January 2010.
And September 2010.
And December 2011.
And January 2012.
And March 2012.
And April 2012.
In short: The vast majority of the American public has seen Obama go to church. The fact that Farah missed this tells us all we need to know about WND's newsgathering capabilities. Or it just makes Farah a sloppy liar.
Despite getting caught telling such sloppy lies, Farah continued to do it. His mendacity is so ingrained and pervasive, it seems, that he'll even lie about himself. Farah started his Aug. 30 column with a falsehood: that the Southern Poverty Law Center "inspir[ed] a shooting attack on the Family Research Council in Washington." In fact, nobody -- not even the FRC's Tony Perkins -- has provided any evidence whatsoever to prove that.
The rest of Farah's column is devoted to whining about a new SPLC piece on WND, which Farah claims "mixes misinformation, innuendo and outright lies to paint a picture of an extremist organization rather than what it admits is one of the most popular news organizations on the Internet." Farah then tried to rebut some of the article's alleged falsehoods, telling new lies in the process. For instance:
One of my board members is credited with joining me in an effort to revive the Sacramento Union, the daily newspaper I once ran, in 2004. Neither one of us was involved in any such effort.
The SPLC cites my website, ConWebWatch, for this claim, which I made in a 2007 article; as evidence I cited a Sacramento Business Journal article stating that "WorldNetDaily.com execs and contributors Richard Botkin and Farah" were on the advisory board of the Union revival.
Farah also complains:
SPLC attempts to link me with R.J. Rushdoony, whom it identifies as the "father of Christian Reconstructionism." Yet, reconstructionists, including the late Rushdoony, all know or knew I do not subscribe to their theological views.
Farah seems to be trying to split hairs here. He doesn't explain what "theological views" of Rushdoony he does not "subscribe to," but it's a fact that Farah moves in reconstructionist circles -- the two were both (and Farah may still be) members of the secretive right-wing group the Council for National Policy, and WND board member Wayne Johnson is also on the board of the Rushdoony-founded Chalcedon Foundation. And as ConWebWatch has documented, Farah does hold some reconstructionist views, like opposition to public education and the death penalty for moral crimes such as adultery.
SPLC claims I was "scheduled to be a featured guest at a 2007 conference run by Vision Forum Ministries, an ultraconservative outfit whose director Doug Phillips is the son of Constitution Party co-founder Howard Phillips." I have never been invited to speak at such an event!
The Vision Forum Ministries page on the conference (which appears to have been canceled) would seem to prove him wrong.
Farah also repeats his disingenuous claim that WND has a wide variety of opinion because it published a couple of token liberals:
Yes, there are "ultra-conservative" views expressed at WND. But, of course, SPLC neglects to mention there are also ultra-liberal views expressed at WND in what is the broadest spectrum of political opinion to be found anywhere in the world.
Repeatedly, SPLC caricatures WND's Judeo-Christian worldview as "anti-gay" and "anti-Muslim" -- an incendiary and explosive combination that, according to the assailant, inspired a recent violent attack on Family Research Council, one of its other prominent targets, that resulted in the shooting of its security guard.
What SPLC does next is to use partial quotes from a long list of individual commentators over a 15-year period to suggest all of their opinions somehow represent those of WND. Of course, SPLC doesn't quote from a single liberal contributor -- people like Bill Press and Ellen Ratner -- because that would contradict the thesis that WND is a monolithic, extremist company that pushes Christian dominionism.
In fact, of the three dozen or so columnists WND regularly publishes, Press and Ratner are the only liberals, apparently kept around only so Farah can claim that WND has "the broadest spectrum of political opinion to be found anywhere in the world." They're never promoted the way the "ultra-conservative" columnists are -- of which there are many more -- usually buried at the bottom of the commentary page while all the conservatives and right-wingers get better placement.
Farah even complains of the SPLC article that "The race card is repeatedly played, too -- ignoring the fact that WND showcases twice as many black columnists than any other news or commentary forum in the world." The fact that Farah treats that as a bragging point suggests that the only reason WND has so many black conservative columnists -- many more than the total number of liberals he publishes, by the way -- is to inoculate it from charges of racism.
That presumably gives WND license to publish Pat Buchanan, known for his racially charged work, and to engage in a race-baiting campaign by publishing a series of articles depicting blacks as mob-prone thugs.
After all these disingenuous lies and misrepresentations, Farah still claims that "SPLC is a dangerous, repulsive group of liars and frauds with only two things in mind -- making money through direct-mail scare tactics and recklessly putting targets on the backs of 'enemies,' like me, whom it demonizes with false accusations and misrepresentations."
(An expanded version of this column is posted at ConWebWatch.)
Follow Terry Krepel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ConWebWatch