Dear Husband came home from a trip to the in-laws with a copy of the Savannah (TN) Courier from February 21, detailing WorldNetDaily’s settlement of a $165 million libel suit filed by Savannah businessman Clark Jones. Jones is a prominent Democrat who raised funds for Al Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign. WND, without, apparently, bothering to seek confirmation, published articles accusing Mr. Jones of all manner of non-existent criminal connections and then bragged that its mendacious accounts helped to defeat Gore. The Courier article is not online, but WND’s apology is:
“A lawsuit for libel, defamation, false light and conspiracy was filed by Clark Jones of Savannah, Tennessee against WorldNetDaily.com, Tony Hays and Charles H. Thompson II arising out of a press release issued by WorldNetDaily.com on September 18, 2000, and articles dated September 20, October 8, November 24 and December 5, 2000, written by Tony Hays and Charles H. Thompson, II, posted on WorldNetDaily.com’s website.
“The original news release by WorldNetDaily.com of September 18, 2000, and the article by Hays and Thompson of September 20, 2000, contained statements attributed to named sources, which statements cast Clark Jones in a light which, if untrue, defamed him by asserting that the named persons said that he had interfered with a criminal investigation, had been a ‘subject’ of a criminal investigation, was listed on law enforcement as a ‘dope dealer,’ and implied that he had ties to others involved in alleged criminal activity. These statements were repeated in the subsequently written articles and funds solicitations posted on WorldNetDaily.com’s website. Clark Jones emphatically denied the truth of these statements, denied any criminal activity and called upon the publisher and authors to retract them.
“Discovery has revealed to WorldNetDaily.com that no witness verifies the truth of what the witnesses are reported by authors to have stated. Additionally, no document has been discovered that provides any verification that the statements written were true.
“Factual discovery in the litigation and response from Freedom of Information Act requests to law enforcement agencies confirm Clark Jones’ assertion that his name has never been on law enforcement computers, that he has not been the subject of any criminal investigation nor has he interfered with any investigation as stated in the articles. Discovery has also revealed that the sources named in the publications have stated under oath that statements attributed to them in the articles were either not made by them, were misquoted by the authors, were misconstrued, or the statements were taken out of context.
“WorldNetDaily.com and its editors never intended any harm to Clark Jones and regret whatever harm occurred. WorldNetDaily.com has no verified information by which to question Mr. Jones’ honesty and integrity, and having met him, has no claim or reason to question his honesty and integrity. WorldNetDaily.com wishes him well.”
Well, isn’t that special? As part of the settlement agreement, the amount of the financial award was not released, but Mr. Jones says he is “very, very pleased with the end result.” I hope he took them for millions. The apology, such as it is, is no longer on the WND front page, and I had to look pretty hard to find it. When I searched the site for “Clark Jones”, I found the apology — and links to all the libelous articles, which remain on the site. A check of a few of them shows that the apology has been appended at the bottom, as inconspicuously as possible. I guess the publishers are hoping their readers won’t notice the egg all over their faces.