WASHINGTON – In responding to concerned WorldNetDaily readers, a member of the Standing Committee of Correspondents for the Senate Press Gallery misrepresented the facts in the popular newssite’s ongoing press-pass case.
“Why does your committee continue to deny a congressional press pass to WND?” reader Jill Bandy of Perrysburg, Ohio, asked in an e-mail she sent Tuesday to panel member Jack Torry, a Washington reporter for the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. “Is this another case of liberal bias?”
Torry replied: “We offered WND a temporary pass – as we have done Stars and Stripes and a host of other organizations – until the organization demonstrated it would publish its own content.”
“They turned us down,” Torry claimed. “Those are the facts.”
Not quite, says WND founder and editor Joseph Farah.
“Here are more lies and double-talk from Torry,” he said. “He’s still claiming it’s about original content, while that issue has been dealt with.”
“They still can’t get their stories straight,” Farah added.
Not only does WND publish its own content every day, the newssite – with a readership of more than 2.5 million – has broken Washington-related stories that have been picked up by Torry’s paper and the news organizations of every other committee member – Bloomberg News, Reuters, Cox Newspapers and Knight Ridder.
This was clearly demonstrated at the April 15 Senate
hearing to appeal the press panel’s Jan. 29 denial of
credentials for WND. And the issue of original content
was not brought up again in a recent letter from the
panel’s lawyer summarizing unanimous, 5-0 action the
Standing Committee took on WND at a June 18 meeting
(Torry, of course, was there and voted).
In fact, Torry was caught at the hearing telling another whopper on the subject of content, Farah says.
Asked by Farah to estimate the percentage of his own paper’s original reporting on national and international news, Torry said, “It’s probably 60 percent.”
Not true, says Dispatch reader Chris Bartony of Columbus, Ohio, who surveyed the paper (run by editor Ben Marrison) one week in May, after reading Torry’s comments in the transcript of the hearing.
“He was asked what percentage of national and international stories were original, and he ended up saying 60 percent,” Bartony said. “But he was totally incorrect. I checked Wednesday’s (May 29) and Thursday’s (May 30) front section, and the total for both days was zero.” The paper ran wire stories.
In addition, “I did a search of the (Dispatch web) site, and in the last seven days, Mr. Torry had one story and one commentary,” the reader said. “His contribution to national news in today’s paper (May 31) is an oh-so-cutting-edge story on the national spelling bee.”
Jeremy Adams of Westerville, Ohio, also took Torry to task.
“The Columbus Dispatch often reprints stories written through other news services,” he said in a Tuesday e-mail to the Dispatch correspondent. “I do not see how WorldNetDaily is any different, except that they employ fewer staff to bring me the news I want the Columbus Dispatch or Washington Post (to deliver).”
Torry’s contention, moreover, that WND “turned down” the committee’s offer of a temporary “day-pass” is also false, Farah asserts.
WND Washington bureau chief Paul Sperry – a previously credentialed member of the daily Senate Press Gallery, as Washington bureau chief of Investor’s Business Daily – used the temporary pass and provided proof to the committee at the same hearing, even though the issue was academic to the main issue of the hearing, which focused on accrediting WND as a news organization, according to WND counsel Richard Ackerman.
In fact, Torry looked Sperry’s way as he held up one of the date-stamped passes the press gallery provided him, Ackerman notes.
“For him to say that is truly unbelievable,” said WND managing editor David Kupelian of Torry’s claims. “He’s either senile or otherwise mentally disabled, or he’s incredibly dishonest.”
To Adams, the other Ohioan and WorldNetDaily reader, Torry had this to say:
“We require that news organizations have a great deal of original content – in other words, they produce their own material and not just rely on wires.”
He continued: “We offered two or three times to give WorldNet [sic] a temporary pass, something we give to many organizations, while they showed they were engaged in original content. They turned that down.”
“The pass we offered would have given them complete freedom of the gallery,” Torry maintained.
The day pass requires advance notification to the press gallery so that a paper card can be arranged to be picked up. Then the reporter must be let into the high-security Capitol, go to the third-floor press gallery on the Senate side, tell the deputy director and clerk what he wants to cover, and where he wants to go, and get the card date-stamped.
Only then can the reporter go and be admitted to his final destination, which may be as far away as the House Cannon Building, which is on the other side of the sprawling Capitol grounds from the gallery.
Besides being inconvenient, case-by-case access is also unreliable.
There is no guarantee a reporter without permanent credentials can get a pass in time to get past security – particularly after Sept. 11 – to cover a breaking-news event at the Capitol.
Case-by-case access also allows politically biased gatekeepers running the press gallery to monitor the comings and goings of independent reporters.