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Conservative Media Powerhouse WorldNetDaily.com Banned from White House Correspondent's Dinner
5/1/2010 3:35:00 PM - www.WorldNetDaily.com
A new biography of a legendary member of the White House press corps will debut next week, apparently without the cooperation of his colleagues, who have blocked his participation in the largest annual event sponsored by the correspondents in cooperation with the president.
"Gadfly," biography of WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving, written by his daughter, Kathleen Kinsolving Willmann, was to debut at the White House Correspondents Dinner featuring Barack Obama Saturday, May 1. However, the association sponsoring the dinner rebuffed a request for a table at the event from WorldNetDaily.com and Kinsolving, who has covered the White House since the Nixon administration, making him among the most senior correspondents in the association.
WND has filed a $10 million lawsuit and is seeking a temporary restraining order against the correspondents association, challenging its decision as discriminatory and arbitrary.
"At this late date, it doesn't appear the White House Correspondents Association is going to see the light in time for us to honor one of its own at the biggest Washington political and media event of the year," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. "Apparently, this organization is more spiteful, more tone deaf, more biased and less respectful of senior White House correspondents than I ever imagined."
Even though the correspondents association refused WND's
request for three tables at the event, it did deposit one of WND's check for one table, offering instead only two individual tickets to the event. Though WND is the oldest independent national online news organization in the world at 13 years old, the association granted requests for tables to brand new websites, such as the Huffington Post, which didn't even cover the White House or belong to the association until this year.
"What are the standards at work within the association?" asked Farah. "Why is it snubbing WND and Les Kinsolving? I think the answer is clear. WND and Les Kinsolving march to the beat of a different drummer. We believe in the traditional watchdog role of the press. And our colleagues hate us for that. I hope that proves to be an incentive for people to buy 'Gadfly' and to celebrate the career of Les Kinsolving. That would be the ultimate rebuke of this group of self-appointed media cops, these lapdogs for Big Government."
Nevertheless, Kinsolving has treated his colleagues with higher regard. "Gadfly" recalls scores of cultural milestones in American history and how the indefatigable journalist left his colorful thumbprint on them. Willmann truly gives it a true insider's tone. She was born in Pasco, Washington, the same town where the Rev. Les Kinsolving's church was burned down a few years after his fiery sermon, "The Damnable Doctrine of Damnation," sparked enough controversy to catch the attention of Time Magazine. Willmann recounts a sermon where her dad said, "the real truth seekers are in the editorial rooms."
The "truth-seeker" label certainly fits Les Kinsolving's career. Impossible to pin down ideologically, Les' convictions and positions have both embodied and bucked the zeitgeist, as he's veered from left-leaning political views to his current individualized brand of renegade conservativism. An Anglican minister and former Episcopalian priest, he's remained a perpetual agitator to the power structure.
"Gadfly" details how his reporting uncovered the odd and criminal behavior among devotees of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple long before the cult's macabre implosion of mind control, mass suicide and violence achieved the infamous status it's achieved today.
(Willmann, who currently teaches journalism, has written screenplays and film essays, including co-writing the film treatment for "Madman in Our Midst: Jim Jones and the California Cover.")
"Gadfly" also probes how he exposed a former Nazi on National Council of Churches board; revealed a reverend hosting a convention for prostitutes at a Methodist church and busted a bishop who used church funds to build a high-rise retirement home.
That's just his beat reporting.
As the man who's often behind the most pointed and clever questions to arise from White House Correspondents Association, he was the first to directly question the Reagan administration about AIDS. His question - and the befuddled non-answer it prompted - marked the seminal moment in an enduring criticism about the Reagan administration's perceived detachment from the disease. He also questioned President Ford on when life begins - a query that became the standard bearer in the abortion debate.
"Look at his life and accomplishments," said Farah. "It's amazing, and more amazing still that he's treated like a pariah in the association. He's treated like a pariah by his colleagues at every briefing. Half the time he's standing there with his hand up, and the guy from the AP will just close down the briefing. He's treated with disrespect by journalists. It's really sad because it's not uniform, or universal, that they disrespect elder statesmen of the press corps, because Helen Thomas is treated like a queen."
As the complaint, filed by filed by Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, states: "WND needed three tables in order to bring its personnel and distinguished guests to the event, [to honor] Les Kinsolving's tenure as a distinguished White House correspondent, and his daughter, Kathleen Kinsolving Willmann, has just written a book about his career, entitled 'Gadfly.' The three tables were thus necessary to celebrate the occasion and because WND has become over the years a major publication."
The actual results, however, "Obviously ... harmed and continues to harm WND's ability to celebrate [the tenure of] Les Kinsolving and the publication of his daughter's new book, [and] also harms WND's access to White House reporting and its reputation generally, as it is being treated as a 'black sheep' in the media world," said the complaint.
The complaint also cited 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.
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,'" said 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.
"As 'Gadfly' describes, most of his colleagues would be lucky if their careers wind up even a quarter as colorful and meaningful as Les' remains today," Farah added.
Send your protest to the White House Comment Line: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
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