WorldNetDaily liberates independent media

By WND Staff

Editor’s note: The following commentary recently appeared in Talker’s Magazine. It is reprinted with permission.

Last month’s reversal of the Standing Committee of Correspondents for the Senate Press Gallery on the matter of a permanent press credential for marks the end of an era, a long-fought fight by WorldNetDaily and the dawn of a new day in media. The independent, privately owned website now sits next to the New York Times and other “Old Media,” watching closely the workings of our Republic’s government.

The committee originally rejected WND’s request for a press pass for, among other idiotic things: “WND mixes advertisements into its flow of exclusive stories, links to other news sources and commentaries.” What a strange new concept! Can you imagine ABC, NBC, the Washington Post or other journalistic venues running ads along side of news stories? Obviously, they do. WND does exactly what every other commercial news place does. “Give ’em the news and make the ads as seamless as possible without blurring the line.” Television uses bumpers, radio uses jingles and WorldNetDaily uses the written English language to boldly clarify what’s news and what’s a “SPECIAL OFFER.”

In reality, has “Good Morning America” not turned into an infomercial for Disney products and properties as well as a promotional vehicle for other ABC entertainment and news shows so often? The old paper newspapers are just mad they have painted themselves into a corner with their arrogant and antiquated ways of thinking in the newsroom and in the boardroom. So, they claim journalistic superiority over sites like WND or Drudge on biased and arbitrary terms. The truth is, it wasn’t about ads at all. It was about the media establishment trying to circumvent WND’s constitutional rights, on numerous illegal levels, in an attempt to shut them up.

With 2.5 million readers, WND has done what no other has. Joseph Farah, publisher of WND, has legitimized an entire medium – indeed, independent media in general – by swimming upstream in a news industry that, for the most part, is threatened and intimidated by his freedom, demand for it and constant illustrations of how we are losing it. Over a decade ago, an unknown talk-show host named Rush Limbaugh did the same for an all-but-dead medium, AM talk radio. More than his being conservative – clearly a commercially viable advantage at the time – Rush’s success can be also attributed to courageously speaking his mind no matter what it costs. That resonates with the human spirit, the greatest common denominator.

Personally, I saw early on the rewards for being courageous and flying in the face of conventional media thinking, no matter how threatening. The day the Iranian Embassy in Tehran was seized by terrorists, I was running an independent, family-owned rock station in Anaheim, Calif., KEZY. My two-man news department asked if we should stop the music and run the story. I said, “only if the coverage is better than Springsteen.” An hour later it was. We had made phone calls to the embassy and got a couple of the terrorists on the phone and then, on the air live, talking with callers.

Immediately, I got a call from Jimmy Carter’s White House furiously demanding we stop. Our license was threatened in no uncertain terms. Yet, our parking lot was filling up with microwave vans for live shots from our little newsroom, even for a 15-minute live shot on Regis Philbin’s local show on KABC. As Regis closed, he said to Tawny Little, the on-scene reporter, “our congratulations to them [us] for showing us [ABC] how to do it.”

For the entire duration of the takeover, we talked to the militants almost daily, exclusively, in spite of government interference that went so far as to have the phone company attempt to block us from calling Iran. We figured a way around it. Other venues never did. When we did, another very angry guy from the White House called me and among other things said, “Why can’t you get your news from ABC, NBC or CBS like everyone else does?” My answer was, “That’s why.”

We also broke the story that Steven Queen, the first American hostage was airborne, on his way home from Iran. That evening, ABC’S Nightline had cameras in our newsroom feeding live audio and video back to ABC network in New York as their producers scrambled to confirm what we were already reporting for hours. They were getting their news from us. That’s what happens when Old Media gets tired and Young Media gets courageous.

Conversely, in a situation 180-degrees different than KEZY, I learned the horrible mistake it is to give in to fear and accept the status quo. Years later, running one of the biggest corporate news rooms in America, I watched with dismay time after time, with my sold-out corporate hands tied behind my back, as those above and below my authority refused to run major, important stories. Ours to break worldwide. Iran-Contra, guns-for-hostages, for example. The station didn’t report it for months after we had it, until everyone else did.

Mr. Farah, thank you, for not “getting your news from ABC, CBS and NBC like everyone else does.” WND is to be congratulated for not only proving how to be successful in an overwhelmingly competitive news market, in a medium (the Internet) cursed with ad-revenue and credibility problems … but now on Capitol Hill.

Dave Forman is CEO of 4MNBROADCASTING, former executive editor of KFWB, adviser to the Wall Street Journal Network, NBC News and producer/host of hundreds of television programs. He was also a candidate for U.S. Congress from Orange County, Calif. He can be reached at (949) 366-6900 or or by e-mail.