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WorldNetDaily's Totally Positive Tea Party

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WorldNetDaily has long peddled the fiction that it cares only about "seeking the truth without fear or favor" and it has no "sacred cows." As any casual observer is all too aware, WND is laden with bias and has plenty of sacred cows -- Orly Taitz chief among them.

WND has been providing sacred-cow treatment to another sainted right-wing cause -- this weekend's National Tea Party Convention. That's in no small part because WND editor Joseph Farah is speaking at it, along with conservative darling Sarah Palin. In an apparent grasp for credibility among right-wingers, Farah is now promoting himself as an ideological kin to Palin -- a Jan. 5 WND article by Chelsea Schilling touted it as the "Palin-Farah ticket" even though they in all likelihood will not share a stage (their speaking appearances are on separate nights). It is doubtful, however, that even the staunchly conservative Palin would endorse Farah's advocacy for killing adulterers and creating ideological blacklists.

The rank boosterism of Schilling's article set the tone for WND's coverage of the convention; for instance, she noted that Judson Phillips, head of the Tea Party Nation group that is putting on the convention, was "named one of Tennessee's top 25 political players in 2009." No unpleasant or negative topics will be broached unless they can be spun away.

Below are some notable controversies regarding the Tea Party Convention and the tea party movement in general and how WND has covered them (or not).

Cost of convention, Palin's speaking fee

The cost of the convention is $549 all-inclusive or $349 for either Palin's speech alone or the entirety of the convention minus Palin's speech -- a steep price that prompted complaints about profiteering on Phillips' part. Further, according to MSNBC, Phillips filed for bankruptcy in 1999 and has had federal tax liens filed against him.

Also sparking controversy is what Palin is getting paid to speak -- reports say it could be as much as $100,000.

WND's treatment: Largely ignored. It's not until a Jan. 29 article by Schilling that it's mentioned, and then it's spun as a claim by unnamed "critics" that the Tea Party Nation "should have filed for nonprofit status." Schilling then gave Phillips all the room he needed to frame the convention's structure as reflecting a desire to "use the capitalist system to support our activities" and to avoid "begging for bucks."

Erickson: Convention "smells scammy"

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson wrote in a Jan. 11 post at his RedState blog:

I have much good to say about groups like Tea Party Patriots, but I think this national tea party convention smells scammy.

Let me be blunt: charging people $500.00 plus the costs of travel and lodging to go to a "National Tea Party Convention" run by a for profit group no one has ever heard of sounds as credible as an email from Nigeria promising me a million bucks if I fork over my bank account number.

[...]

The tea party "leaders", if there are any, are actively at work in their home towns changing things one letter to the editor, one contribution to a candidate, and one protest at a time. They are not on bus tours profiting off the hard work and sometimes the names of others (some also on the bus with no pay) headed to Nashville licking their lips at the $500.00 per person payments coming in to their for profit company.

Sarah Palin is certainly giving the National Tea Party Convention legitimacy. But at what cost? I am fearful this thing will blow up and harm her. I am more fearful that a bunch of well meaning people from across the nation are going to show up, expect more, and then grow disaffected or burn out when the deliverables they expect do not come in.

WND's treatment: None. WND has ignored this post, though it has previously repeated other claims by Erickson. For instance, an April 2008 WND article touted a video promoted by Erickson in which Lawrence Lessig, an adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, "show[ed] disdain for America's mainstream" by "gleefully introduc[ing] a YouTube piece that mocks Jesus Christ" by showing "an effeminate Jesus singing Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive.'" And an August 2008 WND article repeated Erickson's claim that as a state senator, Obama "backed infanticide" by opposing a "born alive" bill in Illinois.

Ban of most media

Convention officials announced that media would be barred from covering the convention except for a few "selected" members of the press who were obviously "selected" for their right-wing leanings -- among them WorldNetDaily.

WND's treatment: Whitewashing the ban. A Jan. 15 article by Schilling -- in between gushing that "The upcoming National Tea Party Convention is already a resounding success - with tickets to the convention sold out and only a few tables remaining at the final banquet" and baselessly asserting that "There has been a frenzy to purchase tickets since it was first announced WND founder Joseph Farah will join former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin as speaker at the first national tea-party convention" -- portrayed it this way:

Phillips told WND Tea Party Nation has received hundreds of requests from media outlets from all over the world that are seeking to cover the event.

"We've gotten inquiries from small-town weeklies, bloggers, big media, England, France, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal," he said. "I got one from Croatia two days ago."

However, the organization is limiting convention press access to a small group of prominent media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and WorldNetDaily.

According to Schilling and WND, they're not biased; they're "prominent."

WND's acquiescence to the convention's ban on non-sycophantic media runs counter to its activism when WND is blocked from covering events. In November, WND threw a fit when the United Nations refused to grant it credentials to cover the global climate-change convention in Copenhagen declaring its plan to sue the U.N. over the denial. WND doesn't mention that Farah's declaring "Death to the U.N.!" and calling it "a global criminal enterprise determined to shift power away from individuals and sovereign nation-states to a small band of unaccountable international elites" might have had something to do with that denial.

But right-wingers banning media coverage that might deviate from the relentlessly positive coverage they want? That's perfectly fine with WND -- after all, Farah is among those who will benefit from the sycophancy.

Withdrawal of sponsors

Two announced sponsors -- the American Liberty Alliance and the National Precinct Alliance -- withdrew their support for the convention in late January. The New York Times reported that the American Liberty Alliance executive director stated on the group's website, "When we look at the $500 price tag for the event and the fact that many of the original leaders in the group left over similar issues, it's hard for us not to assume the worst." The National Precinct Alliance announced that "amid growing controversy" around the convention, it would no longer participate.

WND's treatment: Did not report either withdrawal.

Intramural squabbling

There have been numerous incidents of arguing between the various tea party groups. The biggest revelation in that department is that one group, Tea Party Express (which WND has previously promoted), had directed almost two-thirds of its spending back to the Republican consulting firm that created it.

WND's treatment: Did not cover. WND has promoted Tea Party Express events as well.

* * *

The next time Farah asserts that WND covers the news without fear or favor or that it has no sacred cows, feel free to ignore him -- or just laugh in his face at his audacity in telling such a blatant, self-serving lie.

(This article originally appeared at ConWebWatch.)