WorldNetDaily, Salon, and the Creation of Fact

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 →

Christian Movies and Representational Politics

From Andrew O’Hehir’s review at Salon of “Soul Surfer”:

If evangelical Christians want to see their life and faith and values reflected on-screen, I guess that’s understandable. But movies are not mirrors, and the mass audiences that went to see “The King’s Speech” or “Black Swan” or “The Social Network” didn’t necessarily identify with the characters or their lifestyles. Although the prehistory of Christian cinema goes back several decades — the Campus Crusade for Christ film “Jesus” played mainstream theaters in 1979 — with the solitary exception of Gibson’s gruesome and visionary “Passion of the Christ” the genre hasn’t evolved past the most tedious stage of message-delivery and representational politics. (Insert joke here about Christians and evolution.)

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Give Us This Day Our Daily Links

Jesus Greeks!

Of course we don’t endorse primary candidates (Mitt Romney 5.0)!  But if we could…

Jews in the Sheen house!

Reading, writing and the absolute horrors of being in divinity school.

Old evangelical wine in old evangelical wineskins?

Clarence Thomas is the court.

The Archbishop of Canterbury designates a Pakistani martyr.

Alabama Rep on Shari’ah:  I don’t know what it is but I’m gonna ban it.

To the victim goes the forgiveness.

And today’s must-read is Tim Nafziger’s fantastic romp through Mennonite “institutions and bureaucracy” at Young Anabaptist Radicals, parts one and two.  (Read Tim’s columns at The Mennonite here.) Continue Reading →