Ever Wonder Where the Extreme Right's Conspiracy Theories and Paranoid Rumors Get Started? Meet WorldNetDaily
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In May 1997, together with his wife, Elizabeth, Farah founded WorldNetDaily as a project of WCJ. In 1999, he used $4.5 million in seed money from unnamed investors and incorporated WND as an independent for-profit company. It quickly became one of the most popular “news” sites on the Web.
Farah makes a lot of noise about WND’s independence from political and partisan causes. “I’ve been a newsman my whole adult life” and “I believe the proper role of a newsman is to seek the truth without fear or favor,” he wrote in Stop the Presses. “Unlike many of my colleagues in the press, I have avoided political parties, organizations, and associations that could compromise my integrity.”
As is so often the case, Farah’s version of reality is unique.
According to research compiled by the Institute for First Amendment Studies, as of 1998, Farah was a member of the Council for National Policy (CNP), a highly secretive group that lobbies for hardline conservative positions. At that time, CNP’s membership roster included many conservative heavyweights, among them Tom DeLay, Trent Lott, Jerry Falwell, Oliver North, Constitution Party co-founder Howard Phillips, and R.J. Rushdoony, father of Christian Reconstructionism. (Reconstructionism is an ultraconservative take on Christianity whose proponents seek to impose strict “biblical law” on the United States and have promoted the death penalty for “practicing homosexuals,” adulterers, and “incorrigible” children).
Farah has spoken at numerous political events. He gave the keynote address at a 2004 homeschooling conference run by a religious-right organization called the Alliance for Separation of School and State. He was scheduled to be a featured guest at a 2007 conference run by Vision Forum Ministries, an ultraconservative outfit whose director Doug Phillips is the son of Constitution Party co-founder Howard Phillips. In a 1997 book available on the Vision Forum website, the younger Phillips described Robert Lewis Dabney (a Confederate chaplain who called blacks a “sordid, alien taint” marked by “lying, theft, drunkenness, laziness, waste”) as “a man of extraordinary principle whose character remained unblemished throughout a long and distinguished career.”
In 2010, Farah boycotted the Conservative Political Action Conference, the right’s most important annual shindig, because it included an LGBT Republican group. He held his own conservative conference instead. Its lineup was a “Who’s Who” of far-right luminaries including U.S. Rep. Michelle 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 advocate of homeschooling.
WND’s board members — who in addition to Farah and his wife Elizabeth include Wayne Johnson, Norman Book, James Clark, and Richard Botkin — are also politically involved.
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. One of them 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.