by Abby Ohlheiser
WorldNetDaily, a right-wing news site, is probably best known for flaming the fires of the birther conspiracy, and for coverage of Sha’riah law bans in America. The tone ranges from threatening to hysterical. That’s with an emphasis on the Victorian female sort of hysterical, not the comedy gold kind. Last Monday, the site’s publisher and CEO, Joseph Farah, admitted in an email to Salon reporter Justin Elliott that his site publishes “some misinformation by columnists.”
This was in the course of defending the site’s journalistic integrity to Elliott, who had published a post earlier that day mentioning WorldNetDaily as the source of Donald Trump’s false claim that President Obama has spent $2 million on legal fees to fight lawsuits questioning his native birth.
Farah made an argument for a distinction between opinion and news journalism that should be familiar by now: essentially the argument says that opinion writing is exempt from the rigorous fact checking and therefore beyond the sort of criticism levied at poor (or, perhaps, politically inconvenient) reporting that might otherwise discredit a story, publication, or network. Never you mind who quotes the not-necessarily-true opinion pieces as factual, or how that slippery, treacherous, holy separation between opinion and news changes the standards of journalism itself. Continue Reading →