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Most under-reported stories of '97

The politicization of the Internal Revenue Service and the apparent gunshot wound in Commerce Secretary Ron Brown’s head were the biggest “spiked” stories of 1997, according to the editors and readers of WorldNetDaily.

More than 300 readers of the Internet’s fastest-growing news site participated in the survey, according to WorldNetDaily Editor Joseph Farah. Editors were so overwhelmed by the response, the release of the report was delayed for three days.

“Not only were the responses great in quantity,” said Farah, “they were great in quality, as well. I was impressed by the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm of those who wrote.”

Every year since 1992, the Western Journalism Center has sponsored a
survey of the most covered-up — or “spiked” — news stories. In years
past, the center has called on a national panel of working journalists
and media analysts to make the final selections. This year, however,
with the overwhelming success of WorldNetDaily at reaching tens of
thousands of readers every day, the editors decided to ask for the public’s help.

The annual report is the focus of radio talk-show discussions, Internet chat and
even an occasional mainstream media news story. The Operation Spike list often provides one last opportunity for under-reported stories to get some of the attention they deserve.

Readers were equally split in their top choice between the politicization of the IRS and the Brown story. Both were stories broken, at least in part, by the Western Journalism Center, the parent company of WorldNetDaily.

Non-profit groups, individual taxpayers and religious broadcasters who have been critical of the Clinton administration suspect they are being audited by the IRS for political reasons. At least 20 non-profit organizations — including the Western Journalism Center, National Review, American Spectator, the National Rifle Association, Concerned Women of America and Citizens Against Government Waste — have been targeted, while no liberal, pro-administration groups could be identified with audits during the Clinton years.

When Farah broke the story in the Wall Street Journal in late 1996, there was a flurry of publicity, resulting, some believe, in the resignation of IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson and a staff investigation by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation. Only this month, however, did the committee begin interviewing victims of the audits.

In the Ron Brown death, two high-ranking military pathologists say the commerce secretary had an unusually round hole in his head after the crash of his plane last year in Croatia. It looks suspiciously like a gunshot wound, they say. But aside from concerns raised largely in the nation’s black community, the story, broken by Western Journalism Center senior associate Christopher Ruddy, has been dismissed by the political and media establishment.

Other top spiked stories included: