On This Day in WND History
WND, which debuted in May of 1997, is now celebrating its 15th anniversary. In honor of that, here are some key events in the history of WND.
CBS's Early Show anchor Bryant Gumbel found himself the target of traditional values activists after his microphone – which he thought was turned off – broadcast him calling a Boy Scouts of America supporter a "f***ing idiot" on live television.
Gumbel had completed an interview with the Family Research Council's Robert Knight over a recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the Boy Scouts of America's right to exclude homosexual leaders. Knight had articulated a very traditional religious viewpoint regarding homosexuality and had just left the set when Gumbel made the comment.
"In this day of tolerance and diversity, Mr. Gumbel's obvious intolerance and bigotry is unacceptable," said AFA President Donald E. Wildmon. "CBS should fire him immediately. There should be no place at CBS for such intolerance and bigotry."
"I think it's useful for us to discuss, to know about how our government is waging this war to protect us," said Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times.
"This was a case where clearly the terrorists or the people who finance terrorism know quite well, because the Treasury Department and the White House have talked openly about it, that they monitor international banking transactions. It's not news to the terrorists."
The story exposed how the CIA and Treasury Department accesses millions of money-transfer records from SWIFT, the international group that acts as a clearinghouse for interbank transactions.
President Bush called the disclosure "disgraceful."
Patriotic rage was fueled near the nation's birthplace after a local NASCAR racetrack in Virginia banned the flying of flags in the track infield, prompting at least eight employees to quit their jobs.
"This is the Fourth of July weekend, and we're at war!" said Bryan Bowyer, who resigned his position as chief steward and race director at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.
The track's owner, Dwight Schaubach, denied there was a total ban on the American flag, but explained there was a new preclusion against flying any sort of banner, flag or windsock in the track's infield, potentially obstructing the view of race fans.
"It has nothing to do with the American flag," Schaubach told WND. "I have not abandoned any particular flag. I'm just as much a Southerner and an American as anyone. I have flags on my personal cars. I just don't want them flying in the infield.
That would be the one written by Joseph Farah, author of the best-selling "Taking America Back: A Radical Plan to Revive Freedom, Morality and Justice."
"A lot of people are asking, 'What is the tea-party movement all about? What do these folks actually believe? What do they really want?'" said Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. "There are also some people trying to tell tea-party activists what they can do and what they can't do. There are some politicians trying to hijack this movement. There are some activists trying to get out in front of this parade. This book explores all that and offers a blueprint for setting the course and staying the course."
Eighty percent of conservatives said they were extremely proud of the country, while only 56 percent of liberals responded that way.
Some 68 percent of moderates said they were extremely proud of America.
Whites and non-whites showed a similar difference, with 73 percent of white Americans saying they were extremely proud of the country and 59 percent of non-whites responding that way.
The reversal by Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., followed national exposure of the issue in a WND story two days earlier.
Track ownership had claimed the ban was instituted to ensure a clear view of racing action for fans, and had nothing to do with the American flag itself. But some drivers and track employees felt it was an assault on Old Glory, and eight employees quit their jobs over the controversy.
"I apologize to all of you and take full responsibility for the entire stage of events that took place," said speedway general manager Brink Nelms. "I am saddened from the fact that I have been called unpatriotic. This could not be further from the truth."
Michigan may be a red state but when Michael Moore announced he would be holding a film festival in Traverse City, Genie Aldrich, who lives in nearby Suttons Bay, contacted American Film Renaissance, which sponsored what it called the "first ever conservative film festival" in 2004, to help stage a competing event.
"Traverse County went 60 percent for Bush," Renaissance's Jim Hubbard told WND. "That whole area is pretty much Republican."
Some of the local townspeople were "just a little bit nervous" about the Moore event, he said. "They don't really share Michael Moore's worldview."
Aldrich said when Moore announced his festival, she knew the filmmaker, whom she refers to as "Mr. Deception," had a political agenda.
"The movies he is showing represent the minority, extreme, radical left view," Aldrich told WND. "Even the moderate Democrats are running for the tall grass." Local business people supporting the counter-film festival "want to show the world that this is Heartland region, and we are pro-family, pro-faith and pro-freedom."
A Tennessee woman and her family pulled up stakes and, with help from the Tennessee Republican Party, moved her belongings out of a home she rented from then-Vice President Al Gore, saying inaction on promised repairs gave her no other choice.
Initially, Gore's property management company, Gore Realty, tried to evict the Mayberrys rather than fix the problems. But Mayberry turned to a local news station to air her complaint. Subsequent national attention resulted in a call from Gore and promises to make repairs and find a place for the family to stay while renovations were made on the house. But nothing ever happened, said Mayberry.
"How can he take care of the nation when he can't take care of one house," she said.
While some scoffed and others fretted over the possible chaos that might occur when the calendar rolled over to a new millennium, FBI agents across the country got hit with the bad news they wouldn't be able to take time off over the coming Christmas holiday.
Commenting on the infrequency of such a move by the FBI, WND's source said, "To my knowledge, even during the Iranian crisis in 1980 and the war with Iraq, I don't think the entire FBI had been on alert and all annual leave canceled."
"It's a mess," he concluded, concerning the FBI's Y2K preparation. "They're very much behind. If it was a 72 hour 'snowstorm,' you wouldn't bring out 12,000 FBI agents on stand-by and, for the first time maybe in FBI history, cancel everybody's annual leave for a 20-30 day time frame. That's very significant. In my line of work, that's called a clue."
In November 2000, during the Florida presidential election fiasco, Smith had been arrested for allegedly driving his car into another reporter who was standing in a parking space she attempted to save for a friend. The victim, freelance journalist Maureen Walsh of Tallahassee, was hospitalized and released later the same day with bruises on her knees and legs.
According to police, Walsh was standing across the street from the state capitol when Smith drove up and "shouted some profanities at her and basically just struck her, striking her at the knees, which threw her up on the car."
After a few case-management hearings between attorneys and the court, the charges against Smith were dropped.
The New York Times' Jayson Blair scandal wasn't the first journalistic fraud perpetrated by the paper, but rather the culmination of years of often subtle, insidious distortion of reality for political purposes, charged a new book published by WND Books.
In "Journalistic Fraud," author Bob Kohn shows how the original founding vision of the Times was hijacked by those with a political agenda who used the prestigious paper to spread a dangerous form of propaganda.
"Once you've read this book, you'll never read the Times – or any newspaper – the same way again," said Joseph Farah, co-founder of WND Books. "This book could spell the beginning of the end of the Times' reign as America's newspaper of record."
On July 11, 2004, another WND Book, "Ron Brown's Body: How One Man's Death Saved the Clinton Presidency and Hillary's Future," the book about the mysterious death of the former Commerce secretary. was the No. 4 non-fiction best-seller at Amazon.com
Jack Cashill makes a powerful case that in the run-up to the 1996 election, the media reflexively overlooked the mysterious circumstances of Brown's death and TWA Flight 800's demise – the subject of his previous book, with James Sanders, "First Strike" – lest their investigations jeopardize Bill Clinton's re-election.
Some left-leaning citizens of the Washington were left "cringing" when the state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America announced a "Screw Abstinence Party" to raise funds while taking a hard-edged swipe at cultural conservatives.
"It seems politically idiotic for the preeminent pro-choice group in the country to be sponsoring this pandering, pseudo-hipster 'sex positive' event."
A promo for the event said: "Tired of Bush & Co. spending your tax dollars on abstinence-only-until-marriage initiatives that promote dangerous misinformation? Throw your hands up and say it loud: 'Screw Abstinence!'"
For the second time in two years, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, quietly introduced a bill to create a "North American Investment Fund" that would tap U.S. and Canadian taxpayers for the development of public works projects in Mexico.
"Currently, a significant development gap exists between Mexico and the United States and Canada," said Cornyn, one of the president's loyal supporters in the Senate. "I believe it is in our best interests to find creative ways to bridge this development gap."
"The purpose of this fund is to reinforce efforts already underway in Mexico to ensure their (sic) own economic development," Cornyn said. "The funding would make grants available for projects to construct roads in Mexico, to facilitate trade, to develop and expand their education programs, to build infrastructure for the deployment of communications services and to improve job training and workforce development for high-growth industries."
National Park Service officials, under pressure from the ACLU, decided three 40-year-old plaques containing quotes from the Bible were a threat to the Grand Canyon – millions of years old, according to some – and ordered them removed from their South Rim locations.
"The Department of Interior determined that the plaques were not appropriate for federal public facilities. The First Amendment prohibits the government from supporting a particular religion," Maureen Oltrogge, spokeswoman for the Grand Canyon National Park, said. "It's a difficult issue, but it is supported by numerous court decisions."
No word on whether the ACLU planned to demand name changes for such famed Grand Canyon features as Brahma Temple, Isis Temple, Zoroaster Temple, Vishnu Temple, Holy Grail Temple or Mormon Flat.
The list, compiled by Diversity Inc., includes, in ranked order: Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Company, Citigroup, D&T USA, PepsiCo, Merck & Company, Kaiser Permanente, Visteon Corporation, Allstate Insurance and The Coca-Cola Company.
As WorldNetDaily reported, a former manager at Allstate's headquarters sued the company, claiming the insurance giant, which financially supports homosexual advocacy groups, fired him solely because he wrote a column posted on several websites that was critical of same-sex marriage and espoused his Christian beliefs.
After days of sustained silence, the Honolulu hospital that trumpeted – then later concealed – a letter allegedly written by President Obama in which he ostensibly declares his birth at the facility finally claimed the letter is, in fact, real.
WND obtained exclusive images of what the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women and Children says is the original White House correspondence, dated Jan. 24, 2009, just four days after the inauguration of the new commander in chief.
"As a beneficiary of the excellence of the Kapi'olani Medical Center – the place of my birth – I am pleased to add my voice to your chorus of supporters," Obama purportedly wrote.
To date, the White House has still never affirmed the authenticity of the letter nor its contents.
Did Taco Bell have some kind of beef with the United Nations?
Or did a vandal play a prank to promote an anti-U.N. message?
A franchise of the Mexican-style fast-food chain had some people wondering, as the marquee sign in front of a Taco Bell on U.S. Highway 1 in Jensen Beach, Fla., proclaimed a slight twist to its "Think outside the bun" slogan.
"In Washington, I work with boobs every day," joked McCain during an appearance on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Drudge had reported that McCain, "who once held hearings chastising Hollywood studios for producing R-rated films and marketing them to teens – is now playing a part in one!"
Leno asked McCain about the controversy, saying "suddenly you're in a porno movie."
"In Washington, D.C., there's a lot of qualities," responded McCain. "A sense of humor is not one of them."
If Stephen Lamarch's early-morning subway commute to his 4 a.m. landscaping job at Rockerfeller Center makes you tired just thinking about it, you'll sympathize with the 21-year-old man's decision to stretch his 5-foot-6 frame over two seats – after all, at 2:30 a.m. there was only one other person in the train car.
"NYPD. You're coming with us," Lamarch reported the officers saying before he was ordered off the Manhattan-bound subway, detained for about 15 minutes and grilled about his identity and destination before being issued a summons for taking up more than one subway-car seat.
A police spokesman backed the two cops, saying they did the right thing.
"The New York City Police Department credits the enforcement of petty offenses with a 14.5 percent decline in major crimes in the transit system in 2003," the spokesman said.
In 1996, it was just a hunch – informed by years of news experience – when Joseph Farah alleged in the pages of the Wall Street Journal that his non-profit news organization, the Western Journalism Center, the parent company of WorldNetDaily.com, had been targeted for an Internal Revenue Service audit because of its investigative reporting into Clinton administration scandal and cover-up.
But the hunch paid off when a heavily redacted 1997 Treasury Department report titled, "Questionable Exempt Organization Examination Activity," was released July 6, 1999, to Farah's news organization following three years of FOIA filings and appeals for such information. Contradicting IRS officials and their Justice Department lawyers in two pending suits against the agency by the center and its legal counsel, the Treasury report stated unequivocally and repeatedly that the audit began with a letter forwarded from the White House to the IRS.
"The documents we now have in our possession, at long last, prove the White House did just that in our case and that his administration has engaged in a massive cover-up of the facts behind this abuse of power," said Farah.
"That letter was forwarded just the way it was to convey a message to officials and underlings at the IRS," he said. "The message was the White House has a special interest in this case. See what you can do to help him out. You don't have to be a genius to figure that out."
The Vatican warned Italians the popularity of a new virtual reality game, appearing in the nation's amusement halls and called "The Electric Chair Game," could result in "highly dangerous confusion between fiction and reality."
"[The player] sits on a wooden chair, identical to the one used in capital punishment in [some parts of] the United States and, after inserting a few coins, undergoes the chilling experience of the electric chair," the paper L'Osservatore Romano said.
Vatican officials blamed the "superficial culture" of the Western world for tolerating such a game. Officials also said they were especially concerned because the game seemed to target youth.
"Whole families wait in line. Hundreds of children, adolescents and adults fill the hall to see 'who can last the longest,' to see who makes it to the end. The winner is the one who 'lets himself be killed,' those who give up before the end are 'chicken,'" the paper said.
"Do we want our youth to understand this, or will we calmly continue to line up with our children to 'play the electric chair' game?" said a Vatican statement.
Statistics compiled by the Christian Film & Television Commission confirmed what Ted Baehr, publisher of the Movieguide website and MOVIEGUIDE magazine, had been telling moviemakers for years: "Movies with a strong Christian content year after year do better at the box office."
Over the years those movies have turned in average income of about $160 million, he said. Movies with less significant levels of moral leadership have averaged $60 million, and those at the opposite end of the scale from Christian values have averaged $12 million.
"We've hammered away at that for the last 14 years with our economic analysis of the box office," he said.
And proving once again that money talks, the trend in Hollywood is toward family-oriented films – up from 6 percent in 1985 to 45 percent in 2002. And in 1985, 81 percent of the movies were rated R, but fewer than 45 percent of the movies released since 2001 have been R.
With some of the world's most beautiful women on display at the Miss Universe Pageant in Los Angeles, viewers of the NBC broadcast were exposed to a celebration of homosexuality with continuous "gay" jokes and innuendo.
Providing commentary for the program were Carson Kressley, a homosexual who stars on the Bravo network's "Queer Eye," and 2004 Miss USA Shandi Finnessey.
At one point in the program, when Finnessey was promoting a beauty guide viewers could order, Kressley said, "It'll tell you how to be a true queen. A beauty queen."
Regarding some of the contestants' ability to speak more than one language, Kressley also clowned he was ready to become "bi-," but then jokingly clarified he meant "bi-lingual."
"I'm ready to switch teams for [Miss] Puerto Rico," Kressley swooned.
Ex-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, who admitted to taking classified terrorism documents from the National Archives, also was found in possession of a small number of classified papers containing his handwritten notes from Middle East peace talks during the Clinton administration, according to a source.
Although the Mideast notes were not the main focus of the criminal probe, the source said their removal could shed further light on Berger's intentions. The Mideast notes were allegedly taken from the National Archives along with classified documents that officials say may paint the Clinton administration's handling of the al-Qaida threat in a negative way.
Berger told reporters he was not guilty of criminal wrongdoing.
"Last year, when I was in the archives reviewing documents, I made an honest mistake. It's one that I deeply regret,'' Berger said. ''I dealt with this issue in October 2003 fully and completely. Everything that I have done all along in this process has been for the purpose of aiding and supporting the work of the 9/11 commission, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply, absolutely wrong."
The Clinton administration "de-emphasized" fighting Arab international terrorism to focus on domestic terrorism – namely, white "right-wing" militia groups – which led to the FBI ignoring Arab nationals flocking to U.S. flight schools, veteran FBI agents told WND.
They said the shift was so dramatic at the FBI that dozens of boxes of evidence that agents gathered in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case were never analyzed – until it was too late. The evidence held valuable clues to al-Qaida's network and operations, they said.
Some 40 boxes of material left over from the WTC investigation, which lasted through the late '90s, "were never gone through," said one Washington-based agent familiar with the probe. Another seven to eight boxes of evidence from the Manila, Philippines, side of the investigation also were never looked at, he added.
Fringe activists held a midnight kabbalistic ritual in an ancient cemetery calling for angels of death to kill Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and thwart his Gaza withdrawal plan, participants in the ceremony told WND.
The same individuals used the ritual against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin one month before his assassination in 1995.
The activists said they performed a "Pulsa Dinura" – a kabbalistic ceremony in which God is asked to curse a sinner, usually an enemy of the Jewish people – and prayed for a death curse to be placed on Sharon.
Rabbi Yosef Dayan, one of the leaders of the ceremony, told WND, "I said 10 months ago that I am willing do the Pulsa Dinura if rabbis are going to instruct me to do that. We decided now it is time. Sharon is endangering the entire Jewish population. He is giving land to the enemies who will use it to attack us. He has let them fire on us with bullets and rockets without retaliation because it serves his purposes. He is going to expel my mother-in-law from Gush Katif [Gaza's Jewish communities]."
Less than six months later, Sharon suffered a massive stroke that has left him in a persistent vegetative state to this day.
On second thought, perhaps presidential candidate John Kerry should have stuck with kissing babies.
Instead, the Democrat from Massachusetts donned one of NASA's head-to-toe protective suits to tour the Discovery space shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral and, in the process, found himself being compared to the unflattering image that helped tank another Massachusetts Democratic presidential nominee in 1988, Michael Dukakis.
Late-night comedians had fun with the picture and Republicans e-mailed it to thousands of supporters under the caption "Earth to Kerry." The headline on the front page of the Boston Herald read, "Bubble Boy."
"My hunch is that the brilliant Republicans who put George Bush in a flight suit to strut around an aircraft carrier won't get very far giving advice to NASA and John Glenn about the kinds of coveralls to wear on the Discovery," a Kerry spokesman said.
How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb, indeed!
In an Energy Department audit that would make Dr. Strangelove blush, security at Colorado's Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site was found to be so lax that workers were using components of nuclear weapons as "candy dishes and paperweights."
At least one worker at the government facility responsible for storing about 200,000 completed weapons parts had even taken a weapons part home.
"Prior to the audit, management did not know that the parts were missing or that the employees had taken some parts as souvenirs," Energy Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman said. "Rocky Flats could not account for its weapons parts."
From 1952 to 1989, the Rocky Flats site made parts for the nation's nuclear bomb arsenal.
A fully conscious New Zealand man waited six hours – in pain – while surgeons debated the best course of action to remove a knife that had been imbedded deep into his brain.
Stabbed in an altercation at 4:00 a.m., the unnamed victim waited until 10:00 a.m. before being admitted to surgery. Though it had to be done quickly, such a delicate surgery needed some planning prior to the operation to remove the knife.
"It's not the kind of operation we wanted to do at the end of the night," said Martin Hunn, a Wellington Hospital neurosurgeon.
Whatever foolishness the man might have been involved in leading up to his injury, Hunn said he was smart not have tried to remove the knife himself.
A story from the official news agency of the Beijing government charged the Western news media have been painting "a sinister picture of China," emphasizing its threat to peace.
Chief among the screed's complaints was a story appearing three days earlier in WND.
"The totalitarian government of China, ruling over 1.2 billion subjects, considers WorldNetDaily its most severe – and effective – critic in the Western media. For that I am proud."
Numerous legal battles took a devastating toll on CleanFilms, Family Flix and other companies that edit scenes containing sex, nudity, profanity and excessive violence from mainstream movies to provide a viewing alternative for families concerned over explicit video content.
In a letter to customers, CleanFilms Chief Executive Officer Ken Roberts regretfully announced that a Colorado ruling has forced the company to close the business. The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado sided with major film studios July 6, contending that the "mechanical editing parties" violated copyright law.
"After three long years of legal struggles, a judge in Colorado has ruled that we cannot sell or rent edited DVDs anymore," Roberts said.
"While we thought very strongly about appealing the decision, the potential costs and risks to the company, its customers and shareholders was just too great. Accordingly, we have agreed to close our doors after a brief winding-up period."
A report examining problems at the New York Times blasted the newspaper for a lack of communication, but downplayed the push for racial diversity as a leading factor in its Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal.
The 94-page report said it's "simplistic" to believe promotion of minority reporters like Blair was the essential cause of the calamity.
"The fraud Jayson Blair committed on us and our readers was not a consequence of our diversity program, which has been designed to apply the same rigorous standards of performance we demand of all our staff," Bill Keller wrote on his first official day as executive editor.
"The problem is, in the Blair case, we failed to measure up to those standards at numerous steps along the way."