The White House may be added to a complaint already pending against the White House Correspondents’ Association over alleged discrimination at its annual black-tie dinner in Washington, according to a lawyer working on the case.
“This is not for just WND. It’s for the press. This year it was WND. Next year it’s someone else,” Larry Klayman, who is pursuing the action on behalf of WND.
He said today the target could be “anyone who criticizes the White House, whether Democrat or Republican. The press has to be held accountable, to live by the same rules it wants everybody else to live by.”
The complaint followed the association’s rejection this year of WND’s request for three tables at the annual dinner, a news event as well as a social event in Washington. WND requested and submitted payment for three tables, but the association allocated only a couple of seats, cashing the check for one table.
However, the two seats were unusable because WND planned to invite personnel and guests to honor Les Kinsolving’s tenure as a distinguished White House correspondent and announce the publication of a book, “Gadfly,” about his career, written by his daughter, Kathleen Kinsolving Willmann.
WND explained the three tables were necessary to mark the occasion and “because WND has become over the years a major publication.”
The lawsuit explained the association was given checks for $6,750 for the tables, and the organization cashed one in the amount of $2,250.
Meanwhile, the association granted space to several relative newcomers to the world of news.
Klayman said today that the association rejected a settlement offer that involved promising access to the dinner in 2011, so now the depositions of the parties will begin.
He also suggested the White House could be added to the complaint because of its involvement in a political “hit” on Fox News that indicates what the complaint alleges: Mainstream reporters are doing the bidding of the Obama administration in an effort to belittle, exclude and irreparably harm the leading Internet news outlet.
“It’s as simple as this: the Huffington Post is to the left and WND is perceived to be on the right,” said Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch USA.
He noted the left-leaning Huffington Post, a much younger presence on the Internet at five years, was granted a full table by the association, even though WND, at 13 years old, was allowed only a couple of seats.
Meanwhile, a new website launched only months ago, Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller, was granted a presence at the dinner by the WHCA.
“No one who knows Washington media would ever think that Tucker Carlson is a real conservative. He is a country club Republican. So it’s easy to figure out why WND is being given the shaft with the urging of the Obama White House,” Klayman said when the case was filed.
The correspondents association did not respond to a WND request for comment today. But Ed Chen, the association’s president, earlier told Politico he believes the case is “futile.”
“The association has seen countless and creative efforts to improve one’s circumstances at the dinner; all of them have been futile. This latest ploy will end with the same result,” Chen told Politico.
But Simon Owens, who runs Bloggasm’s commentary on media issues, suggested there are some legitimate questions to be answered.
“Farah said he would have felt less insulted if he’d received no tables rather than two seats, and he called on the association to have some objectivity on how they dole out tables (I have to admit, I kind of agree with him on this one),” Owens wrote.
“‘What are the standards that you use? Does seniority have anything to do with it? Does longevity have anything to do with it? Does audience have anything to do with it? If you measure by any of those standards, you would assume WorldNetDaily passes the test, more than lots of other organizations that wouldn’t. What am I to conclude from that?'” he reported Farah questioned.
WND reported the complaint cites the Obama administration’s previous attempt to retaliate against a news organization.
“For instance, Fox News, which has also been critical of the Obama administration, and which the White House also fears and loathes, was subject to a boycott [from the White House],” the complaint said.
“Thus, what is apparently a political ‘hit’ on WND takes on great credibility in the world of Washington politics,” the complaint states.
“White House officials tried to bar Fox News White House correspondent Major Garrett from a press pool event. The administration was making Executive Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg available for interviews, and Fox was told that while other members of the pool would have access to Feinberg, it would not be allowed to participate,” he wrote.
In that case, the other four members of the pool, ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN, “told the White House that if Fox was not allowed to participate then none of them would participate.”
The report confirmed “the White House relented and Fox News was allowed to participate.”
WND, launched in 1997, is one of the oldest Internet publications and reports on a wide variety of news events to a readership estimated at 8 million readers a month.
The lawsuit contends, “Most of the officers and directors of the WHCA are of a liberal bent and feel great kinship with the Obama administration and are thus prone to do its bidding.”
The complaint seeks “actual and compensatory damages in excess of $10 million USD for harm to its business and other relationships.”
“We’ve been through this kind of treatment by the Washington press corps in the past,” Farah noted. “We’ve grown to expect it, despite the fact that we are the oldest independent national online news source on the Net, despite the fact that our White House press correspondent is the third most veteran member of those covering the White House and despite the fact that we always play by the rules.”
Farah said the White House press corps and the correspondents association have shown nothing but antipathy for New Media enterprises like WND in general and even more disdain for those who subscribe to the traditional role of the American press as a vigorous watchdog on government.
Dating back to February 2002, WND was denied accreditation to the Senate Press Gallery for routine access to cover the Capitol. Ten days after WND threatened legal action against individual members of the Senate Press Gallery, WND was granted accreditation in September 2002.
“This is an illustration of what some call the ‘government-media complex’ or the ‘state-sponsored media,'” says Farah. “It’s one thing when you have to battle government secrecy and corruption, which we expect to do as part of our jobs as newsmen. It’s another thing when you have to battle your own colleagues who act like self-appointed press cops, blocking independent media from doing the job they refuse to do.”
The same day as the dinner, WND senior reporter Aaron Klein also launched a new book investigating Obama, “The Manchurian
President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other
Klein had planned to attend the dinner to
discuss his book with administration officials.
Joseph Farah and Larry Klayman are both available for press interviews. Please e-mail WND with your request.