Joseph Farah and the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast Saga

From the Christian Post:

A news report that Joseph Farah, the CEO and chief editor of the conservative website WorldNetDaily, had been removed from the guest list of the sixth Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast that took place on Jan. 21 has been proven to be false.

…WorldNetDaily contacted The Christian Post this week… and said that the Media Matters report was entirely inaccurate and that Farah had not been removed from the guest list.

I noted plans for the “Prayer Breakfast” (an unofficial event) earlier this month, and, like others, I suggested that it was not appropriate for Farah to be involved in what was supposedly a “non-partisan” event involving mainstream figures: Farah is a birther, and his website publishes the most lurid and excessive anti-Obama conspiracy theories (including, most recently, the claim that Obama orchestrated the Sandy Hook massacre).

A few days later, event organizers were contacted by Media MattersThe website reported:

WorldNetDaily founder and birther conspiracy theorist Joseph Farah will not be among the speakers at a right-wing Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast according to the event’s organizer, who criticized his work and said he had been incorrectly listed as a featured guest.

…”He was not invited to be involved. He had permission to write an article about it and it’s gone much further than that. That was the initial intent, I never met him before and I didn’t know anything about his efforts,” Rev. [Merrie] Turner added.

…”The fact that [Farah] actually ended up on some of the literature so far was not run by me, it was, it came through Mr. Cahn, who is his friend,” Turner explained. “He is not on the speakers bureau… it was an error.”

However, WND then responded:

…today Turner released a statement utterly disavowing Media Matters’ account.

“Recently a story originating with the organization Media Matters stated that Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily had been removed from the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast. This is false. The article also implied that Farah took it upon himself to invite himself as a distinguished [guest]. This, too, is false,” she wrote.

“The misinformation resulted from a number of factors: a confusion over the exact status of guests combined with the fluidity of the program, erroneous assumptions, miscommunication, a train of questioning by Media Matters as to whether we would allow anyone to use the event as a platform to attack the president, my desire to clarify that the event was not about anyone doing so, and what appears to be the aim of Media Matters to attack and humiliate Joseph Farah.”

She explained, “Joseph Farah was asked for his help regarding the event. He graciously gave it. He never invited himself to the event. Nor did he ever ask or expect anything in return. We affirm that the event is to pray for America at a critical time and juncture, for the American presidency and government. We also want to clearly state and affirm that it would be an honor to have Joseph Farah be part.

“I am truly sorry for anything said or spoken, any confusion and miscommunication, and for any distress this may have caused Joseph Farah,” she said.

MediaMatters in turn responded to that, asserting the accuracy of its story and adding:

Hours after Turner spoke with Media Matters and before our report was published, Farah’s name was removed from the list of “Special Guest & Speakers” on the Inaugural Prayer Breakfast website.

Since the Media Matters story ran, Turner has made no effort to contact Media Matters with any complaint about the report or any requests for corrections or clarifications about her comments.

…Farah has… returned to the website’s list of distinguished guests….

Turner has a record of incendiary commentary that made it surprising that she would have renounced the birther leader. Nonetheless, she repeatedly did so in her interview with Media Matters.

Media Matters reached out to Turner several times, leaving two voice mail messages and two e-mail messages. On a third phone call, Turner answered, but hung up when asked to comment on the situation.

Does the Christian Post really think that Turner’s statement given to Farah amounts to “proof”? Perhaps not – the final paragraphs of the article appear to undermine the confidence of its opening florish, and perhaps register authorial discontent with the official line:

The Christian Post attempted to contact Turner to clarify her remarks to Media Matters and confirm whether or not Farah was indeed on the guest list, but as of press time she has not responded. The Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast website has not disclosed news about how the event proceeded, or who exactly attended.

cached version of the speaker list on the event website includes Farah, along with other notable names such as Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Dr. Pat Robertson. The updated website, however, does not list either Farah, Bachmann or Robertson.

The Post‘s article follows a complaint from Farah:

It’s a helpless feeling to fight such a false allegation when you have limited access to Internet and you are committed to travel and other obligations for over a week.

What’s worse is when the lie is shamefully repeated, without any efforts to seek comment or clarification, by other news organizations, including the Christian Post. I would have thought this Christian news organization had heard of the sins of bearing false witness and spreading malicious gossip.

…I can understand why a socialist, godless group like Media Matters would be repulsed by such an event. But why would so-called “Christians” jump at the opportunity to affirm those lies without any evidence or efforts at verification?

UPDATE: From an eyewitness report on RightWingWatch:

After some embarrassing back-and-forth about Farah’s participation, he didn’t show up. Neither did Bachmann, [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor, [Sen. Roy] Blunt or Pat Robertson, though Robertson, Farah, and Pat Boone sent messages that were read out loud.

2 Responses

  1. Farah & WMD are complaining about others bearing false witness and malicious gossip. Not much self awareness there, then.

    Bonus points for Farah claiming that America will face “harsh judgement” if it doesn’t follow “God’s ways” (that is, whatever Farah says God wants).

  2. […] Horn is a member of Koinonia’s “Board of Regents“, alongside WND‘s editor Joseph Farah, Ergun Caner,  Jerome Corsi, Alan Keyes, Tim LaHaye, several Calvary Chapel pastors, and others […]

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