WorldNetDaily’s appeal hearing before the Senate Press Gallery over its refusal to grant permanent press credentials to the popular newssite is scheduled for next Monday, April 15.
Representing WorldNetDaily before the Standing Committee of Correspondents – the panel of five journalists that rule on applications for credentials, and that turned down WND – will be Richard Ackerman, attorney with the non-profit United States Justice Foundation. CEO Joseph Farah will also present WND’s case.
Counsel to the Standing Committee is N. Frank Wiggins of the Washington, D.C., firm of Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti.
After consulting with Wiggins on procedures for the upcoming hearing, Ackerman says “we’re being told we’re going to get a fair hearing” and that
the Standing Committee is “taking the matter seriously.”
In late January, a year after receiving WND’s application and fees, the Senate Press Gallery declined the newssite’s request for permanent congressional press credentials – an essential tool for Washington, D.C.-based journalists, as it allows reporters access to the U.S. Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings, as well as hearings, press conferences and other events.
The Standing Committee – currently comprising Bill Roberts, chairman of Bloomberg News, Donna Smith of Reuters, Jim Kuhnenn of Knight Ridder, Scott Shepard with Cox Newspapers and Jack Torry of the Columbus Dispatch – cited two reasons for its denial:
- The fact that WND was spun off as a for-profit corporation from the non-profit Western Journalism Center, which today owns a minority of stock in WorldNetDaily – implying that WND is somehow engaged in lobbying or promotion work on behalf of “tax-free special interest or issue advocacy groups”; and
- The contention that WND does not have enough original content to qualify for accreditation.
WorldNetDaily rejects both contentions as utterly false and will present evidence Monday demonstrating that it provides abundant original content, including many major national news scoops, and is a separate entity in every meaningful way from the Western Journalism Center.
After WND first reported the Standing Committee’s thumbs-down, Joe Keenan, the Senate Press Gallery’s deputy director, was bombarded with 2,000 e-mails supporting WorldNetDaily and critical of the committee’s decision, Roberts told Farah.
How fair a hearing will WorldNetDaily receive Monday, seeing as the same body that turned down the news organization’s application for credentials will hear the appeal?
Said Ackerman, “I think they are taking the case seriously, and I strongly believe they are willing to re-consider their position.”
“We think this is an important First Amendment case,” added Ackerman. “In fact, it could be precedent setting.”
Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily has a Legal Defense Fund, set up originally to help support the newssite in its litigation with Al Gore crony Clark Jones in Tennessee and other legal challenges we face from time to time. Readers who wish to donate to help in these matters may do so in two ways:
- Make a tax-deductible contribution to the U.S. Justice Foundation, the public-interest legal group that is handling WND’s case against the Senate Press Gallery in Washington. This same group is aiding in WND’s defamation case in Tennessee.
- If tax-deductibility is not an issue, readers may donate directly to WND’s Legal Defense Fund.