WorldNetDaily

Founded: 
1999
Location: 
Centreville, Va.
Profiled Leadership: 
Joseph Francis Farah

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 from the fringes of the far-right and fundamentalist worlds. Among its enduring storylines is the "birther" theory advanced by columnist Jerome Corsi, who asserts that President Obama is ineligible to serve because he was not born in America, a baseless claim long since abandoned by most of the political right.

In Its Own Words
"It’s important to understand – and this is hard for most of us – that crime and mayhem and lawlessness are actual goals of transformational socialists."
—Joseph Farah, “Another Theory About Obama’s Domestic Army,” Feb. 10, 2013

"Jesse Jackson and Al Not-So-Sharpton would be lisping their ebonic mumbo-jumbo that the policy and the president are racist and bigoted."
—Ted Nugent, “Republican Murdering U.S. Citizens,” Feb. 10, 2013, on what would happen if a GOP president authorized drone strikes against U.S. citizens 

"I hate that this man [Obama] has done everything he can to demean and diminish the role and influence of Christians in this country, despite the fact that Christians were critical in the formation of the country and, like it or not, they’re the majority.”
—Barbara Simpson, “What Happened to My Country?”, Jan. 6, 2013

"Friends, people need to realize that homosexual marriage is not about homosexual marriage; it is about overturning law by a totalitarian government."
—Bradlee Dean, quoted approvingly in “YouTube Pulls Plug on Homosexuality Exposé,” May 17, 2012

Background
WorldNetDaily is a 15-year-old online publication founded and edited by Joseph Farah with the stated goal of "seeking truth and justice and revitalizing the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty." Serving up a daily dose of conspiracy theories, apocalyptic alerts and anti-gay rhetoric, WND was ranked by Alexa in 2012 as the 1,832nd most popular website in the world and the 423rd in the U.S. That ranks just above Nickelodeon and a few spots below Victoria’s Secret.

Fear-mongering is WorldNetDaily's specialty. It regularly publishes paranoid fantasies billed as fact, such as a baseless six-part series claiming that soybean consumption causes homosexuality. It has heavily promoted The Pink Swastika, a wretched opus by gay-basher Scott Lively that claims gay men orchestrated the Holocaust. WND also fingered Satan as the first leftist, and trumpeted a secret 20-point Muslim plan “for conquering the United States by 2020.” Another secret plan WND has warned about concerns international elites’ alleged intention to create a “North American Union” that merges Mexico, the United States and Canada.

Theories about when and how the government — and the world — will collapse are regular WND fodder. It seems to bother no one on the staff that most of these theories are conflicting. WND repeatedly uncovers (manufactures is a better word) sinister government plots, trumpeting them with scare headlines such as "Feds Accused of Fomenting Blood in Our Streets" — standard fodder for adherents and sympathizers of the conspiracy-oriented, antigovernment “Patriot” movement. As the government allegedly prepares to turn on the citizenry and intern them in already built secret camps, WMD’s readers are advised in breathless advertisements to invest all their assets in gold and buy as many guns as they can.

"How do authoritarians and totalitarians usually gain power?" asked Farah in a February 2013 column. "One of the tried-and-true methods is to foment social chaos. It happened in the Bolshevik revolution. It happened in Adolf Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s. It happened in Mao’s 'cultural revolution.' It’s important to understand – and this is hard for most of us – that crime and mayhem and lawlessness are actual goals of transformational socialists."

One of WND's longest running "controversies" concerns whether President Obama is a “natural-born” U.S. citizen, originally stirred up by WMD columnist Jerome Corsi. Long after the president’s “long-form” birth certificate was released, Corsi continued to pursue the “birther” nonsense. Corsi, incidentally, was also the architect of the “Swift boating” of John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign.

In addition to Corsi, WND columnists comprise a cross-section of reactionaries and fringe wingnuts, including arch-conservative Alan Keyes; actor and mud-slinger Chuck Norris; failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum; race-baiting and  homophobic ex-Major Leaguer John Rocker; radio hothead Rush Limbaugh; and white nationalist writer Pat Buchanan, who was named WND's 2012 Man of the Year. (Trumping that honor was libertarian U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who was named WND's Man of the Decade.)

Santorum is one of the newer WND columnists, following his failed bid for the GOP nomination. His weekly column began in December 2012, kicking off with a familiar refrain: his controversial opposition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Bottom line: Santorum has a disabled daughter, but argued that the treaty is wrong because it cedes "our sovereignty" to the United Nations. To the surprise of many, the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the treaty soon afterwards, with 38 Republicans voting no.

As a career politician who still harbors presidential ambitions, Santorum is more cautious than some of his WND stablemates. Inane guitar slinger and gun nut Ted Nugent stirred up a hornet's nest of criticism after he wrote a WND column opposing the use of government drones. The topic is fair game, except he took things to an extreme by theorizing what would happen if a Republican president were to authorize drone attacks on U.S. citizens: "Jesse Jackson and Al Not-So-Sharpton would be lisping their ebonic mumbo-jumbo that the policy and the president are racist and bigoted. They would organize protest marches in front of the White House, where they would burn effigies of the president." 

Nugent subsequently was invited to attend Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address as the guest of Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman.

The WND Superstore
Like many large websites, in addition to selling online ads, WND also profits through book and merchandise sales. 

The WND Superstore, linked from the main website, offers “Unique Products for Discerning Minds.” Such minds apparently crave items like the NRA-endorsed Second Amendment Range Pack, designed to hold four pistols and 36 magazines in an attractive carry-all imprinted with the words of the Second Amendment. The superstore also offers 830 books on “history, theology, philosophy, political science, education, natural science, society, and family.” These are “thoroughly examined” by WND’s “review board” to “enlighten and empower you in your personal quest to protect your family, engage the culture, speak out against injustice, and fight for what is right.”

Discerning readers will want to pick up books such as Jerome Corsi's The Late Great USA, subtitled as "The North American Union and the Threat of a Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada." Another potboiler is Richard Wurmbrand’s Marx & Satan, hailed by Joseph Farah as “a book that changed my life and worldview,” which details how the young Karl Marx “received the rights of initiation” of a “secret Satanist church” and became the Devil’s “elect servant.”

Bestselling videos at the superstore include a Farah-produced documentary titled "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment: Is There An Ancient Mystery That Foretells America's Future?," and "Dreams from My Real Father," a documentary purporting to explore the origins of President Obama's supposed Marxism.

Taking America Back
WND’s “Taking America Back National Conference” (also the title of a book by Farah) was launched as an alternative to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which Farah boycotted because an LGBT Republican group was included. Far-right luminaries in the 2010 speaker lineup included U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Victoria Jackson, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), anti-gay hate group leader and Christian Reconstructionist theologian Gary DeMar, and R.C. Sproul Jr., a mover-and-shaker in the theocratic Christian “patriarchy” movement and a prominent homeschooling advocate.

Behind the Scenes
As WND's publisher and editor-in-chief, Joseph Farah writes a daily column and stirs this toxic stew. After a checkered newspaper career, culminating in his ill-advised attempt as executive editor to turn the Sacramento Union into a fundamentalist Christian, anti-gay mouthpiece, Farah founded the Western Center for Journalism (WCJ) in 1991. A nonprofit entity whose purpose was “to encourage more philosophical diversity in the news media,” WCJ spawned WorldNetDaily in 1997. Two years later, WND became an independent for-profit company with $4.5 million from an unnamed investor. 

Not surprisingly, WND’s board members are politically active in a variety of right-wing causes. In addition to Farah and his wife Elizabeth, the board includes Wayne Johnson, Norman Book, James Clark and Richard Botkin.

Johnson, who has been on WND’s board since 1999, is a Sacramento political consultant whose firm, according to TheRawStory, coordinated the campaign for California’s Proposition 8, which sought to outlaw same-sex marriage in that state. Until June 2002, he was a board member of the Chalcedon Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist outfit and anti-gay hate group.

Book, who joined the board in 2008, is WND’s executive vice president of finance and technology. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, he co-founded The Stanford Review, which according to his LinkedIn profile was a conservative student weekly meant to “add balance to Stanford’s stifling liberal atmosphere.”

Clark, a board member since 1999, was difficult to track down. Based on the address he listed on WND’s tax form, he appears to be a recently departed lobbyist for the American Bankers Association (ABA). According to his LinkedIn profile, he served as ABA liaison to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial and highly secretive group of far-right state legislators and business lobbyists that writes and pushes model bills and is funded by the far-right Koch brothers. One of those ALEC-backed bills was the pro-gun “Stand Your Ground” law that authorities cited as their reason for not immediately recommending charges against George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

Least noteworthy is Botkin, a Sacramento-area financial advisor and former Marine who has been on the board since 1999 and is an occasional contributor to conservative candidates. According to ConWebWatch, he worked with Farah in 2004 during a short-lived effort to revive the Sacramento Union as a magazine. His book about the Vietnam War was published by WND.

From 2000 to 2002, the board also included Robert Beale, an MIT grad who made his money in computers, served as the Minnesota campaign manager for televangelist Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential bid, and eventually came to sympathize with the radical antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement. In 2008, Beale was convicted of tax evasion, conspiracy, and fleeing authorites, charges he attempted to evade first by hiding from the law and then by conspiring to intimidate the judge — who, he said, God had commanded him to “destroy” — by filing fraudulent liens and issuing fake “arrest warrants” against her.