Whose fault is it that there is so little Christian ownership of media in North America? Whose fault is it that there is so little Christian involvement in newsrooms in North America? Whose fault is it that there is so little Christian influence in all the major cultural institutions in North America?
It’s the Christians’ own fault.
That was the message brought by the founder, editor and CEO of the world’s leading independent news site to a fundraising dinner of the Equipping Christians for the Public Square organization, held at Canada Christian College in Toronto on June 7. But Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily – also author of the new book Stop the Presses! – did not simply spell out the problems with, and perniciousness of, the media, he pointed the way forward toward a solution.
Farah spent numerous years in the “mainstream” press (although he eschews that term), including tenures running the Sacramento Union and directing the news operation of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner . It was his founding of WorldNetDaily in 1997, however, that set him on the path to being a sought-after speaker and authority on “the New Media.”
WorldNetDaily’s mission statement includes a pledge to “uncompromising journalism, seeking truth and justice and revitalizing the role of the free press as a guardian of liberty.” The service remains faithful to the traditional and central role of a free press in a free society, as a light exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power. It also seeks to stimulate a free and open debate about the great moral and political ideas facing the world “and to promote freedom and self-government by encouraging personal virtue and good character.”
Those ideals have attracted some eight million unique visitors every month to access the site for both its links to top news stories and its original reporting. It has also caused others – including, perhaps, Canadians – to examine the site’s formula for success with a view to possibly emulating it elsewhere.
In Toronto, Farah began by harkening back to the “golden age” of Hollywood between 1933 and 1967, when scripts had to be vetted by offices of the Catholic church and the National Council of Churches before they could be made into motion pictures. That all began to change in 1967, however, when the NCC office was closed.
A similar pattern of events played out in the news media over the decades – the N.Y. Times , for example, was actually a Christian newspaper crusading against abortion in the 1850s before it devolved into the virulent pro-abortion mouthpiece it is today.
Christians, such as earlier owners of the Times , “just sold out,” charged Farah. “One by one. They lost sight of their mission” and their press holdings became only businesses to be run for profit.
As this was happening, cultural reformers in North America were taking a cue from the theories of Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, who posited that if key cultural institutions such as education, academia, the press, entertainment, the foundations and the churches could be taken over, a country’s political establishment would inevitably fall “like a final domino.” The major obstacle to this plan, said Farah, was and continues to be belief in a sovereign God.
Farah emphasized that the answer to the crisis lies not in electing the right people to government. “The political process is broken … The only way the U.S. and Canada can be returned to greatness is by taking back those cultural institutions that shape the way people think.”
This cannot be accomplished in the field of news media simply by complaining, he said. Instead, new models, new competition, doing the job better and competing head-to-head are the way to go. The internet has now made this possible, as individuals including Farah and Matt Drudge have proven.
“This is a battle we are winning,” said Farah. “A counter-revolution is well underway. All we’ve got to do is jump on board … The train is already moving. There’s more competition than ever before. The networks and newspaper monopolies are going down like T-Rexes.”
In fighting the battle, God must be at the centre, he stressed. “We serve a God that is much bigger than the Council on Foreign Relations or whatever bugaboo you want to name that’s holding us back. We serve a God that is much bigger than the Bilderbergers. We serve a God that is much bigger than any satanic conspiracy you can imagine.”
This reliance on God has played itself out numerous times throughout the history of WorldNetDaily, recalled Farah. “We have been severely tested over the years. There were many times God reminded me whose project this was. I found myself repeatedly back to the wall. No way out. Each time, when I just let go and turned things over to God, He would show us the way forward. I can’t even begin to recount all of the miracles associated with the survival and success of WorldNetDaily over the years.”
He strongly counselled anyone planning to start a news service similar to WorldNetDaily to not place an ideological label on the project. “Once a news organization labels itself ‘conservative,’ it has lost any hope of legitimacy and credibility in the world … You want to attract as wide an audience as possible. You don’t want to limit that audience by explaining that you are conservatives.”
He added ideological labels are losing their effectiveness, anyway. “At best, they mean different things to different people at different times in different places. Why are we so wedded to them? Be wedded to ideas, not labels.”
He concluded with a clarion call for all concerned about the futures of Canada and the U.S. to get involved in the monumental battle over the media.
“We need to ask ourselves today, Americans and Canadians alike, what we are willing to sacrifice. What are we willing to risk? … Don’t just complain about the state of the world. Fix it. We’ve got an opportunity. Don’t just complain about the state of the media. Fix it. We’ve got an opportunity. It can be done. It is being done … It can be done, I believe, right here in Canada.
“We have to engage where it really counts. We have to do it smartly and we have to do it prayerfully. And, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we cannot fail.”
Farah will be returning to Canada for another ECP Centre event, an Ignite Our Culture conference, Oct. 26-27 at Burlington, Ont.’s Crossroads Centre. The conference will have as its theme, “Building a New Media – Creating a New Culture.”