WorldNetDaily

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WorldNetDaily
Type of site
Available inEnglish
Founded1997; 27 years ago (1997)
OwnersWorldNetDaily.com, Inc.
Founder(s)Joseph Farah
EditorJoseph Farah
URLwww.wnd.com Edit this at Wikidata

WND (formerly WorldNetDaily) is an American far-right[1] news website. It is known for promoting fake news[2] and conspiracy theories,[3] including the false claim that former President Barack Obama was born outside the United States.[4]

The site was founded in May 1997 by Joseph Farah, who is its current editor-in-chief and CEO. The website publishes news, editorials, and opinion columns, while also aggregating content from other publications.

History[edit]

In 1997 Joseph Farah created the news website WorldNetDaily as a division of the Western Journalism Center. It was subsequently spun off in 1999 as a for-profit organization[5] with the backing of $4.5 million from investors, Farah owning a majority of the stock. The site describes itself as "an independent news company dedicated to uncompromising journalism". In 1999, WorldNetDaily.com, Inc. was incorporated in Delaware[6] with offices in Cave Junction, Oregon.[7]

The website gained notoriety for stoking false "birther" conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama.[8]

In 2018, Farah wrote about WorldNetDaily's financial problems, saying it faced an "existential threat." Farah ceased contributing to the site after his March 12, 2019, column; the site announced a few weeks later that he had suffered a major stroke. In April 2019, The Washington Post reported that WorldNetDaily suffered from declining revenue and diminishing readership. Farah blamed the website's financial woes on what he claimed was suppression by powerful technology companies.[8]

Application for congressional press credentials (2002)[edit]

Seeking credentials to cover the U.S. Congress in 2002, WND was opposed by the Standing Committee of Correspondents. This panel of journalists is charged by Congress with administering press credentials. Until 1996, Internet-only publications had been deemed unacceptable.[9] WND turned to the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration for help, arguing that the panel's decision had violated the site's constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, and freedom of the press. Faced "with legal threats and negative publicity, the panel reversed itself, voting 3–2 to award WND its credentials".[10] Shortly after, the rules were formally adjusted to clarify the participation of online publications.[11]

Ann Coulter speech at Homocon (2010)[edit]

In 2010, when Ann Coulter accepted an invitation to attend and speak at GOProud's Homocon 2010 convention, Farah announced the withdrawal of Coulter's name from the list of speakers at the company's 'Taking America Back' conference.[12] Coulter responded by saying that speaking engagements do not imply endorsement of the hosting organization.[citation needed]

Content[edit]

The WND website provides news, editorials, letters to the editor, forums, videos and conducts a daily poll. Its CEO Joseph Farah has said that WND provides "the broadest spectrum of opinion anywhere in the news business", but acknowledges "some misinformation by columnists".[13] WND's content is predominantly conservative.[14][15] Besides providing articles written by its own staff, the site links to news from other publications.

WND's political lean has been described as alt-right[16][17] and far-right.[1] WND is known for promoting fake news[2] and conspiracy theories,[3] including the white genocide conspiracy theory[18] and the false claim that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.[4] The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labels WND an anti-government extremist group.[19][20]

Anthony C. LoBaido commentary on September 11 attacks (2001)[edit]

On September 13, 2001, WND published an opinion article by Anthony C. LoBaido regarding the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., that had occurred two days earlier. In his column, LoBaido described what he said was the moral depravity of America in general and New York in particular, asking whether "God (has) raised up Shiite Islam as a sword against America". Commentators Virginia Postrel of Reason magazine and James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal criticized LoBaido and Joseph Farah for the piece and called for columnists Hugh Hewitt and Bill O'Reilly to sever their ties with WND. Founder Farah responded with his own column, saying that LoBaido's opinion piece did not reflect the viewpoint of WND, and that it, like most other commentary pieces, had not been reviewed before publication.

Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories[edit]

A 2010 billboard displayed in South Gate, California, questioning the validity of Barack Obama's birth certificate and by extension his citizenship and eligibility to serve as President of the U.S.[21] The billboard was part of an advertising campaign by WorldNetDaily, whose URL appears on the billboard's bottom right corner.[22]

WND has published hundreds of articles promoting "birther" conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship, for which it has gained notoriety.[23] It says that Obama is not a natural-born US citizen and thus is not eligible to serve as president.[24][25][26] After the 2008 presidential campaign, WND began an online petition to have Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate released to the public. The website also unsuccessfully urged Supreme Court justices to hear several lawsuits aiming to release Obama's birth certificate. The White House released copies of the president's original long-form birth certificate on April 27, 2011.[27] After the long-form birth certificate was released, WND continued to promote its conspiracy theory, publishing an article questioning the certificate's authenticity.

[edit]

In January 2013, a WorldNetDaily article criticized a Super Bowl XLVII advertisement in which Neil Patrick Harris wore eye black with "Feb 3 2013" written on it. The website accused Harris of "mocking Christianity." Quarterback Tim Tebow was known for inscribing Bible verses with eye black to wear during NFL games. A similar advertisement by Beyoncé for the Super Bowl had not been criticized.[28] In a later Twitter post by Harris about the Super Bowl, he used the hashtag "#noagenda".[29]

Russian interference in US politics[edit]

On August 7, 2017, WorldNetDaily published "The 8 Dirtiest Scandals of Robert Mueller No One Is Talking About" which was pushed out by Elena Khusyaynova's operation, targeting the Mueller investigation.[30]

COVID-19 misinformation[edit]

In April 2020, the SPLC reported that WND "has boosted a number of articles featuring antisemitic dog whistles, fake cures and other disinformation" about COVID-19, with headlines such as "Coronavirus is being weaponized by Soros, others behind anti-Trump ads", "Clyburn: Democrats must use Chinese virus to restructure America 'to fit our vision'" and "Newt Gingrich's question for Biden exposes Obama's undeniable role in N95 mask shortage".[20] Another headline proclaimed that a three-drug cocktail promoted by Vladimir Zelenko[31] had a "100% success" rate in treating 350 COVID-19 patients.[20]

A 2020 study by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern and Rutgers universities found that WND was among the top 5 most shared fake news domains in tweets related to COVID-19, the others being The Gateway Pundit, InfoWars, Judicial Watch and Natural News.[32]

Products[edit]

WND publishes books under the imprint WND Books. The imprint was launched in 2002. WND's imprint publishing partner was Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson Publishers (2002–2004).[33] Cumberland House Publishing (2004–2007), and conservative publisher World Ahead Publishing (2007). In 2008, WND acquired World Ahead Media.

WND Books has published books written by right-wing politicians and pundits such as Katherine Harris, former Secretary of State of Florida in office in 2000 during the presidential election under Governor Jeb Bush; commentator Michael Savage; conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi; ex-congressman Tom Tancredo; and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. In October 2009, WND Books published Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America by Paul David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry.[34] In April 2011, Paul Harris, writing for The Guardian, described WND Books as "a niche producer of rightwing conspiracy theories, religious books and 'family values' tracts."[35]

WND also publishes a printed magazine, Whistleblower. It operates other companies such as the G2 Bulletin, a subscription-only website described as an "intelligence resource" for "insights into geo-political and geo-strategic developments".

The WND website also sells survivalist gear.[23]

Reception[edit]

The SPLC has accused WND of "peddling white nationalism," due to its publication of a series of articles on "black mob violence" by writer Colin Flaherty. It accused the website of being a source of "anti-government conspiracy theories, gay-bashing, anti-Muslim propaganda, and End Times prophecy".[36]

In a related Huffington Post article, Terry Krepel of ConWebWatch.com states WND tried to "cash in on Paula Deen's racism".[37]

Litigation[edit]

Clark Jones libel lawsuit (2000–2008)[edit]

On September 20, 2000, WND published an article saying that Clark Jones, a Savannah, Tennessee car dealer, a fund-raiser for then-Vice President Al Gore in his presidential campaign, had interfered with a criminal investigation, had been a "subject" of a criminal investigation, and was listed on law enforcement computers as a "dope dealer." It implied that he had ties to others involved in alleged criminal activity. The authors later put forward the theory that the publication of this article, as well as other WND articles that were critical of Gore, contributed significantly to Gore losing his home state of Tennessee that November.

In 2001, Clark Jones filed a lawsuit against WND; the reporters, Charles C. Thompson II and Tony Hays; the Center for Public Integrity, which had underwritten Thompson and Hays' reporting on the article and related ones; and various Tennessee publications and broadcasters whom he accused of repeating the claim, arguing these entities had committed libel and defamation.[38][39] The lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial in March 2008; but, on February 13, 2008, WND announced that a confidential out-of-court settlement had been reached with Jones. A settlement statement jointly drafted by all parties in the lawsuit stated that a Freedom of Information Act request showed that the allegations had been false, and that WND had misquoted sources.

Staff[edit]

Notable staff members include Jerusalem Bureau Chief Aaron Klein, former White House correspondent Lester Kinsolving, Ohio State Senate Senior Press Secretary Garth Kant,[40] and staff writer Jerome Corsi. Its commentary pages feature editorials by the site's founder Joseph Farah, as well as by commentators including 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, David Limbaugh, Chuck Norris, Walter E. Williams, Ilana Mercer, Bill Press, and Nat Hentoff.

In February 2020, Right Wing Watch reported that Michael J. Thompson, who worked in WND's marketing department, had also worked at white nationalist publications such as VDARE and American Renaissance under the pseudonym of "Paul Kersey". It found that his position at WND allowed him to move in professional circles that included white nationalists, writers at Breitbart News and The Daily Caller, and prominent Trump supporters such as Steve Bannon and Jack Posobiec.[41][42]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sources describing WorldNetDaily as far-right:
    • Massing, Michael (February 2009). "Un-American". Columbia Journalism Review. Far-right Web sites like World Net Daily and Newsmax.com floated all kinds of specious stories about Obama that quickly careened around the blogosphere and onto talk radio.
    • Sullivan, Andrew (September 6, 2009). "Obama's in the ER but he'll get his reforms". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. One of the most popular far-right websites, WorldNetDaily
    • "WorldNetDaily". Southern Poverty Law Center. n.d. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
    • Bruno, Debra; Bruno, Debra (February 21, 2016). "There's the major media. And then there's the 'other' White House press corps". The Washington Post. Les Kinsolving, a reporter for the far-right World Net Daily, was a familiar White House gadfly from the days of the Nixon administration on.
    • "Our Politics Enables Donald Trump to Lie and Get Away With It". The New York Observer. April 15, 2016. This isolates conservative news seekers to Fox News, conservative talk radio, Breitbart, or even websites further out on the fringe such as World Net Daily.
    • Kestenbaum, Sam (March 15, 2017). "Trump's White House Welcomes 5 New Far-Right Figures". The Forward. A handful of new White House hires have ties to Breitbart and to a similar far-right website, World Net Daily.
    • Marcotte, Amanda (April 5, 2019). "Shed a tear for WorldNetDaily — or maybe don't. But the downfall of a far-right site is instructive". Salon. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
    • Mackey, Robert (August 15, 2020). "White House Plants Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theorists Among Reporters in Briefing Room". The Intercept. Retrieved July 30, 2022. ... Powe is a former blogger for WorldNetDaily, the far-right website that helped create the racist 'birther' conspiracy theory to undermine President Barack Obama.
    • Perry, Samuel (October 12, 2020). "Evangelical leaders like Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell Sr. have long talked of conspiracies against God's chosen – those ideas are finding resonance today". The Conversation. WND is a far-right website that entered the mainstream during President Obama's presidency. The website was a hub for the birther conspiracy.
  2. ^ a b c Sources describing WorldNetDaily as a fake news website:
  3. ^ a b Sources describing WorldNetDaily's publication of conspiracy theories:
  4. ^ a b Sources describing WorldNetDaily's promotion of Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories:
  5. ^ Foley, Jordan M. (September 13, 2020). "Press Credentials and Hybrid Boundary Zones: The Case of WorldNetDaily and the Standing Committee of Correspondents" (PDF). Journalism Practice. 14 (8): 9–10. doi:10.1080/17512786.2019.1671214. ISSN 1751-2794. S2CID 210645440. Retrieved October 9, 2020 – via Jordan M. Foley.
  6. ^ Farah, Joseph (October 1, 1999). "World's 'No. 1 website' goes for-profit". WorldNetDaily. McLean, Virginia. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved May 25, 2011. Beginning today, WorldNetDaily.com, voted the most popular website on the Internet the last 23 weeks, is officially a for-profit corporation...
  7. ^ Black, Jane (August 27, 2001). "On the Web, Small and Focused Pays Off". BusinessWeek. New York. Archived from the original on October 24, 2001. Retrieved November 4, 2006.
  8. ^ a b Roig-Franzia, Manuel (April 2, 2019). "Inside the spectacular fall of the granddaddy of right-wing conspiracy sites". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ Heaney, Michael T (2008), "Blogging Congress: Technological Change and the Politics of the Congressional Press Galleries" (PDF), PS: Political Science & Politics, 41 (2): 422–426, doi:10.1017/S1049096508290670, ISSN 1049-0965, S2CID 154642023, archived from the original (PDF) on February 2, 2012, retrieved July 7, 2010.
  10. ^ Walker, Jesse (November 2002), "Galley gatekeepers: the politics of press credentials – Citings", Reason, archived from the original on July 13, 2012.
  11. ^ Thompson, Mark (April 22, 2004), "New Media Often Takes Back Seat to Old Media on Press Credentials", Online Journalism Review.
  12. ^ Smith, Ben (August 18, 2010). "WorldNet dumps 'right-wing Judy Garland' Coulter over gay event". Politico. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  13. ^ Elliot, Justin (April 13, 2011). "Right-wing publisher: We run "some misinformation"". Salon. Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  14. ^ Burns, John F. (May 5, 2009). "Britain Identifies 16 Barred From Entering U.K.". The New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2010. according to WorldNetDaily.com, a conservative Web site.
  15. ^ Sullivan, Gail (August 5, 2014). "Celebrities get nasty over Gaza and Israel". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  16. ^ Blake, Aaron (December 1, 2016). "Introducing the 'alt-left': The GOP's response to its alt-right problem". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 29, 2022. It started with alt-right websites like World Net Daily
  17. ^ Fuchs, Christian (July 20, 2020). "Towards a critical theory of communication as renewal and update of Marxist humanism in the age of digital capitalism". Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. 50 (3): 335–356. doi:10.1111/jtsb.12247. ISSN 0021-8308. S2CID 225578399. Examples of alt-right websites are Breitbart, Drudge Report, InfoWars, Daily Caller, Daily Wire, and WorldNetDaily.
  18. ^ Gedye, Lloyd (March 23, 2018). "White genocide: How the big lie spread to the US and beyond". The Mail & Guardian. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  19. ^ "WorldNetDaily". Southern Poverty Law Center. n.d. Retrieved January 15, 2023. WorldNetDaily is an online publication founded and run by Joseph Farah that claims to pursue truth, justice and liberty. But in fact, its pages are devoted to manipulative fear-mongering and outright fabrications designed to further the paranoid, gay-hating, conspiratorial and apocalyptic visions of Farah and his hand-picked contributors [...]
  20. ^ a b c Gais, Hannah (April 17, 2020). "Hate Groups and Racist Pundits Spew COVID-19 Misinformation on Social Media Despite Companies' Pledges to Combat It". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  21. ^ Farley, Robert (July 28, 2009). "White House spokesman Robert Gibbs 'lied' when he said President Obama's birth certificate is posted on the Internet". Politifact. The St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  22. ^ "Grass roots sign onto eligibility billboard campaign". WorldNetDaily. June 12, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  23. ^ a b Dougherty, Michael Brendan. "Conservative Radio Host Says Andrew Breitbart Might Have Been Assassinated". Business Insider. Retrieved February 17, 2017. The report comes from WorldNetDaily, a right-wing website that periodically promotes conspiracy theories about Obama's birth certificate.
  24. ^ Stetler, Brian (April 27, 2011). "In Trying to Debunk a Theory, the News Media Extended Its Life". The New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  25. ^ Isikoff, Michael (April 27, 2011). "Publisher of upcoming 'birther' book makes no apologies". NBC News. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  26. ^ Page, Susan; Kucinich, Jackie (April 28, 2011). "Obama releases long-form birth certificate". USA Today. Retrieved November 18, 2013. Joseph Farah, CEO of the conservative website WorldNetDaily and publisher of a new book that investigates whether Obama is eligible to be president, says the issue isn't over.
  27. ^ "Obama releases original long-form birth certificate". CNN. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  28. ^ "Does Neil Patrick Harris' Super Bowl ad mock Christianity and Tim Tebow?". United Press International. January 8, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  29. ^ "Neil Patrick Harris' Super Bowl Ad Slammed For 'Pushing Gay Agenda' On CBS". HuffPost. January 7, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  30. ^ Williams, Pete; Tom Winter (October 19, 2018). "Russian woman charged with attempted meddling in upcoming U.S. midterms: Elena Khusyaynova works for a company owned by a Putin pal who has already been indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller's team". NBCNews.com. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  31. ^ Roose, Kevin; Rosenberg, Matthew (April 2, 2020). "Touting Virus Cure, 'Simple Country Doctor' Becomes a Right-Wing Star". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  32. ^ Owen, Laura Hazard (October 26, 2020). "Older people and Republicans are most likely to share Covid-19 stories from fake news sites on Twitter". Nieman Lab. Retrieved May 29, 2022.
  33. ^ "Thomas Nelson Launches Political Imprint". The Write News. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
  34. ^ Gaubatz, P. David; Sperry, Paul E. (2009). Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America. WND Books. ISBN 9781935071105.
  35. ^ Harris, Paul (April 21, 2011). "The born-again birther debate". The Guardian. London, England. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  36. ^ Nelson, Leah (October 23, 2012). "WorldNetDaily Now Peddling White Nationalism". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  37. ^ Krepel, Terry (September 14, 2012). "WorldNetDaily Tries to Cash in on Paula Deen's Racism". The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  38. ^ Gordon, J. Houston; Hopper, Curtis F. (December 20, 2004). "Second Amended Complaint" (PDF). Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  39. ^ Jones v. WorldNetDaily (Tenn. Cir. (Hardin); Tenn. App.; Tenn. April 2001) ("The parties settled out of court for an undisclosed sum in 2008."), Text.
  40. ^ Bischoff, Laura A. (September 29, 2023). "Ohio Senate Republicans start website to push back on perceived liberal bias". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
  41. ^ Wilson, Jason (February 3, 2020). "White nationalist has long worked at conservative outlets under real name". The Guardian. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  42. ^ Holt, Jared (February 3, 2020). "Hiding in Plain Sight: The White Nationalist Who Toiled Inside a Right-Wing Media Powerhouse". Right Wing Watch. Retrieved June 28, 2022.

External links[edit]