Wall Street Urinal … I mean Journal … columnist James Taranto is evidently peeved at me for calling him out and, indirectly anyway, challenging him to a duel for referring to my news agency as WorldNutDaily.
So he’s evidently using his high-profile column to carry on a petty feud.
(It would be much more interesting to the public, I would think, if he took me up on my duel challenge.)
Bad enough having the news agency I created 15 years ago caricatured as WorldNutDaily, but now Taranto is really throwing the mud – suggesting WorldNetDaily (correctly spelled this time) as the right-wing version of the New York Times.
But it is Taranto who, once again, abases himself in an otherwise reasonable defense of our mutual friend, Justice Antonin Scalia, and an attack on the New York Times for knowingly lying about him.
He makes the case that public figures such as Scalia have very few legal options when news organizations defame them because of the narrow definition of libel the courts have carved out when it comes to commentary about public figures. I agree with every word Taranto writes in this regard.
Then Taranto does something rather avant garde for a column in which one is condemning lying in a major newspaper: He lies in a major newspaper.
Here are his words: “For similar though not identical reasons, the same is true of the president, which is why sites like WorldNetDaily are able to publish demonstrable falsehoods about Barack Obama’s birthplace. (Note, however, that in itself it is not defamatory to claim falsely that Obama was born outside the U.S. Being born overseas is not a wrongful act or a defect of character.)
“This is a price our top officials pay for pursuing positions of power and responsibility in a society so free and open. Those of us who are in the business of commenting on politics and government have a moral duty, even if frequently not a legally enforceable one, to tell the truth when we criticize public officials. If we fail to do so, our reputations ought to suffer. If there is justice in the marketplace of ideas, the New York Times will clean up its act or come to be seen as the WorldNetDaily of the left.”
I immediately challenged Taranto to provide just one example of WND ever claiming Obama was born outside the country. I have not heard from him with such an example, nor do I expect to hear from him – for the simple reason it has never happened.
Be my guest – search for the accusation in WND’s free public archives. You will not find any such accusation or characterization by WND or any of its staff writers, columnists or even letter writers. I invite the George Soros-sponsored Media Matters organization to assist Taranto in his futile search. They won’t find any such assertion in the hundreds of stories WND has published seeking the truth about Obama’s still mysterious origins.
By the way, it would not be a lie to say Obama was born in a foreign country. It would just be an unsubstantiated assertion. However, it is a lie to say WND has made such an assertion.
In other words, Taranto is doing to WND what he claims the New York Times is doing to Scalia – lying. In the process, he is completely trivializing an otherwise insightful observation about the New York Times, a newspaper for which I share Taranto’s disdain and contempt.
I don’t expect an apology or retraction. Maybe that duel isn’t such a bad idea after all.