More Shame on WorldNetDaily
by <http://www.fff.org/aboutUs/bios/jgh.asp> Jacob G. Hornberger,
September 5, 2003
On August 27, the conservative website WorldNetDaily published an
article by its columnist Ilana Mercer (email
<mailto:ilana@…> ) entitled "Judge Moore and the Godless
14th Amendment," which defended an Alabama justice's refusal to remove a
monument containing the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court
building. What a shame that the article didn't mention the commandment
forbidding the bearing of false witness against one's neighbor.
As I pointed out in my article "Shame on WorldNetDaily
<http://www.fff.org/comment/com0308l.asp> ," WND had earlier published
an article by Mercer entitled "Libertarians
<http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=34057> Who Loathe
Israel," which included the following sentence: "I understand that
libertarians like Sheldon Richman (and the Holocaust-denying Institute
for Historical Review) believe that all 'the land' belongs to the
The false, baseless, vicious, and malicious insinuation in the
parentheses generated an indignant response from Sheldon entitled
"Disregard for the Truth
which stated in part:
Placing me in the company of "the Holocaust-denying Institute for
Historical Review" can only have been intended to imply that I am a
Holocaust-denier. Re-read her sentence and the title of her article.
Since the people at IHR are not known to be libertarians, there was no
other purpose in mentioning the organization. In other words, Mercer has
smeared me. Since I am a Jew, she was denied the opportunity to accuse
me of anti-Semitism and so had to settle for hinting that I deny that
millions of Jews were slaughtered by Hitler and the Nazis. As one who
lost family in the Shoah, I find this more than a little ironic.
Mercer answered <http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=34181>
Sheldon's response by claiming that her selection of the IHR was
entirely innocent, being based simply on her "understanding" that IHR
held the same position on the Israeli land issue as Sheldon. Sheldon's
letter in response to Mercer's rejoinder was posted in WND's letters
section but unfortunately has now been removed; we have posted
<http://www.fff.org/comment/com0309c.asp> it on FFF's website.
(Interestingly, on August 26 Mark Weber, the director of the Institute
for Historical Review, sent an email to Mercer, a copy of which was sent
to The Future of Freedom Foundation, in which he pointed out that the
IHR takes no position whatsoever on the land issue in Israel. If Weber's
claim is true, then it obviously causes Mercer's stated justification
for comparing Sheldon to the IHR to disintegrate, a point that WND
failed to disclose to its reading audience.)
While Mercer is now claiming that IHR was nothing more than an innocent
selection for comparison, surely she and WND editorial executives
haven't forgotten her article "Israel Belongs to the Jews
which was posted on the WND website on July 3, 2002, in which she
Other than among its Arab adherents, one would expect such loony-tune
historical revisionism from crackpots like members of the Institute for
Historical Review. (The IHR is a motley of discredited oddballs, poseurs
and pseudo-historians, whose members are dedicated to proving that Jews
lied about the Holocaust. Intellectually, the IHR is a sort of
malevolent version of the Flat Earth Society.)
Moreover, at the time that WND published Mercer's false, baseless, and
insidious insinuation regarding Sheldon, both she and the executives at
WND knew full well that there have been people whose professional
careers and lives have been ruined because of their association with
Holocaust revisionism. Out of all the national and international persons
and organizations that supposedly share Sheldon's position on the land
issue in Israel, what would motivate Mercer and WND to pick the one that
would be most likely to damage him - along with the organizations and
publications with which he is associated - the most? Only Mercer and WND
can answer that question.
On August 26, WorldNetDaily editor and CEO Joseph Farah (email
<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> ) sent an email to a WND reader (which
was forwarded to us) that only piled additional shame onto this sordid
matter. Here's what Farah stated in that email:
Detailed litany of allegations? WorldNetDaily stands accused and
convicted of standing up for the free flow of ideas - publishing both
Ilana Mercer's rant and Sheldon Richman's. We've been accused of no
other offense and we are guilty of none.
"Free flow of ideas"? "No other offense"?
Pardon me, Mr. Farah, but unfortunately you've got it wrong. No one is
charging WorldNetDaily with the "free flow of ideas." We're charging
your institution with a very serious and grave offense: publishing a
false, vile, baseless, and malicious insinuation against one of the
finest and most fair-minded scholars in the libertarian movement - a
person who has been associated with such libertarian organizations as
the Institute for Humane Studies, the Cato Institute, The Future of
Freedom Foundation, and The Foundation for Economic Education - a person
who is not only the author of three of the finest books in the
libertarian movement but whose perspectives have also been published in
such newspapers as the Washington Post, Washington Times, Wall Street
Journal, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today.
(See Wendy McElroy <http://www.zetetics.com/mac/blog/00000216.html> 's
thoughtful analysis of this matter, in which she carefully documents and
explains Sheldon's background and beliefs with respect to Israel and the
How does WorldNetDaily respond to the real offense with which it is
charged, Mr. Farah - guilty, not guilty, smokescreen, or mute?
If WND wants to take libertarians to task for our open-borders position
(which was the subject of a yet earlier attack
<http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33379> on The
Future of Freedom Foundation by Mercer), so be it - that's the free flow
of ideas <http://www.fff.org/comment/com0308h.asp> .
If WND wants to take libertarians to task for our opposition to the drug
war, so be it - that's the free flow of ideas.
If WND wants to take libertarians to task for our opposition to Social
Security, national health care, and other socialist measures, so be it -
that's the free flow of ideas.
If WND wants to take libertarians to task for opposing government
foreign aid to Israel and every other country in the world, then so be
it - that's the free flow of ideas.
If WND wants to take libertarians to task for our foreign-policy
positions on the Middle East and the rest of the world, so be it -
that's the free flow of ideas.
But in that event, Mr. Farah, you have a moral duty to stick with the
ideas, and leave out the publication of false, vile, baseless, and
despicable personal insinuations about people with whose intellectual
positions you might disagree, especially insinuations that you know are
likely to cause tremendous personal and professional damage.
WorldNetDaily had a moral duty to refrain from publishing Mercer's false
and vile parenthetical expression in the first place, especially without
first determining whether there was any factual basis for it. After WND
received Richman's denial, it had the moral duty to investigate the
facts and publish a retraction and an apology upon realizing the truth.
Those moral duties continue to exist.
Throughout the 1990s, conservatives took President Clinton to task for
failing to take responsibility for his lies and deception - and rightly
so. Unfortunately, however, WND is now finding that when it comes to
moral and ethical principles, it's easier to talk the talk than it is to
walk the walk.
Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom
Foundation. Send him email <mailto:jhornberger@…> .