Statues of American heroes desecrated or ripped down nationwide. Supporters of the president of the United States attacked in the streets. Peaceful gatherings of conservatives targeted with bomb threats or even acid attacks.
“Antifa” has emerged as one of the most terrifying forces on the American left since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
Short for “anti-fascists,” these black-clad, masked and sometimes heavily armed activists more often resemble their supposed enemies as they attack peaceful protesters, police and even animals during the riots they have conducted all around the country.
Examples of violence perpetuated by antifa are continuous.
The spectacle of a Republican openly siding with far-left revolutionaries instead of President Trump shocked the conservative grassroots. But it wasn’t surprising, considering how little many Republicans know about what WND columnists Jason and David Benham have called the “paramilitary arm of the radical left.”
Now, a new WND Special Report, for the first time, reveals who antifa really is, what antifa activists want and what all Americans, especially conservatives, Christians and libertarians, desperately need to know. “Antifa: What Americans Need to Know about the Alt-Left,” a FREE download from WND, is an in-depth look at antifa.
Already the No. 1 new release in the category of “Communism & Socialism” at Amazon.com with blazing sales, it reveals antifa is less a singular organization than a “brand” that can be utilized by left-wing extremists to further their goals, much like the brand of ISIS.
First: we weren't aware that Confederate generals were "American heroes." Second: You can't claim something has "blazing sales" when it's being given away.
So we downloaded WND's little e-book like the masochists we are (in exchange for our email address, which WND already has, though this link may work as well without the transaction) and skimmed through the thing.
The book carries no byline or any other indication of authorship -- either the author didn't want his name associated with the work (despite a reference in the book to something "this writer" claimed to have observed) or WND wanted to play the game of being anonymous lest the author receive death threats. The only named credit is the book's designer.
Which is an odd decision, because the e-book is not your typical slapdash WND effort. The 88-page tome is pretty densely written, what with chapter subheads like "The Implications of Unlimited Egalitarianism" and "Fascism as a Response to Socialism in Theory." In fact, it may be too densely written for the typical WND reader.
The anonymous writer generally portrays all antifa activists as violent or violence-supporting,and insists that liberals who criticize antifa's violence are missing the point because "militant tactics have the effect of shifting the Overton Window by making less extreme protest tactics seem moderate."
Tha author also surprisingly deviates on a few other points -- conceding, for example, that the ugly events in Charlottesville were fueled in paret by "attention-seeking Alt-Right activists" and admitting that many of the counterprotesters there were peaceful. The author further declares that "the Alt-Left, if only because it has been branded by Donald Trump, now exists -- apparently forgetting that WND editor Joseph Farah is demanding credit for creating the term "alt-left."
It's not until the end of the book that the anonymous author finally gets back to some good ol' WND-style right-wing ranting:
Decent Americans should not be deceived. No matter how reasonable their rhetoric, apologetic their tone, or inoffensive their positions, Antifa will always consider them as enemies. No matter how furiously good Americans denounce fascism or parade nonwhite supporters for the cameras, they will still be called fascists and racists and homophobes. And the rights of freedom of speech, assembly and association will continue to fade away until real Americans, those who truly love their country, culture and Constitution, fight back.
WND puts bylines on much less thought-out and much more jingoistic stuff than this. Why doesn't it want people to know who put in the massive time and effort required to write this thing?
MRC Baselessly Attacks Anita Hill -- Again Topic: Media Research Center
As the Media Research Center continues to exploit the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, it's still in trash-the-accuser mode when it comes to conservatives accused of the same offense (as Gretchen Carlson just learned). Take this from the MRC's Kyle Drennen in an Oct. 11 post:
Discussing the growing list of sexual harassment and rape allegations against left-wing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein on her MSNBC show Wednesday afternoon, anchor Andrea Mitchell saw a chance to deflect away from the scandal swirling around the prominent Democratic Party donor to instead attack conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
“And you know, we shouldn’t just pretend that it’s just Hollywood, because every profession has its own dynamics. And I remember covering the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991,”Mitchell declared as she recalled the discredited sexual harassment charges hurled at Thomas by Anita Hill.
As we pointed out in documenting the MRC's 25-year-long campaign against Hill, her accusations have never been "discredited." While Hill's side has not been definitively proven, neither has Thomas' side.
This is simply a false, baseless attack that demonstrates how the MRC treats victims of sexual harassment depending on the ideology of the alleged perpetrator.
WND's Farah Pretends He's Not Profiting From Endorsing Survival Food His Website Sells Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah's Oct. 9 WorldNetDaily column begins ominously:
We live in turbulent times.
Civil strife is increasing. Division characterizes our society.
There are wars and rumors of wars – the kind that can affect us in minutes from threats thousands of miles away.
As we’ve seen in recent days, the lives of hundreds can be impacted by unseen threats within our own community.
And, there are the natural disasters we’ve experienced recently that leave in their wake the hungry who haplessly wait for others to help them – government, insurance companies, neighbors, family members.
That’s why preparedness – first spiritual and second material – is simply wise stewardship.
For years, I’ve been looking for a partner with whom I could help wise stewards prepare themselves with the necessities of life. And I’m so grateful that I’ve found one who can help equip people prepare for the inevitable worst of times with long-lasting food supplies for any emergency situation – storms, terrorism, grid failures, societal breakdowns, even, God forbid, nuclear attacks.
No one likes to think these things can happen to us, even when we see them happening to others.
But never fear! Farah's column quickly morphs into a plug for his favorite survival food company -- after all, he admits to being a "long-time prepper." Farah then adds:
Yes, this is my personal endorsement of Live Prepared. I’m not getting paid to make it, except with the same peace of mind I get when I buy my own emergency food supplies for my household. It’s just the right thing to do.
Actually, Farah is getting paid to make this endorsement. All the links in his column regarding his prepper food goes to ... WND's online store. Farah is not only WND's CEO but has an ownership stake in the company, so he is very much making money by endorsing this product.
Farah's column was joined by a "news" article touting said survival food in the WND online store, telling us that "These complete, long-term meal solutions will ensure you and your family have enough healthy, tasty food to survive a long-term disaster."
WND also appears to be ramping up its production of disaster-related "news" articles to provide an opportunity to promote survival food. For instance, Farah's Oct. 15 column warns of a possible EMP attack on the U.S. by North Korea. Toward the end, the following text is inserted into the column:
What’s the best defense against a catastrophic EMP attack for the average American? Long-term, emergency food. The blast won’t hurt you, but the aftermath of chaos and disruption of food supplies will.
It's linked, of course, to a search for survival food at WND's online store.
Unduly covering "news" that just happens to relate to things you're selling is highly unethical. But when has WND ever been all that concerned about journalistic ethics?
MRC's Bozell & Graham Lecture on Weinstein, Remain Silent on Ailes Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Tim Graham and Brent Bozell lecture in their Oct. 13 column:
We can guess no one will make a movie about the decades of harassment by Weinstein and Hollywood's cover-up. And, certainly, no one would win an Oscar for it. No Holy Father in Tinseltown has moral authority. Feminist superstars like Meryl Streep professed they hadn't the slightest idea of what their friend Harvey was doing ... which makes them either profoundly cynical or amazingly clueless.
A far more believable response came from French actress Lea Seydoux, who wrote in the Guardian that she was groped by Weinstein. She said: "Everyone knew what Harvey was up to and no one did anything. It's unbelievable that he's been able to act like this for decades and still keep his career."
If the liberal intelligentsia found it completely unbelievable that a Catholic bishop might have been uninformed about sexual abuse by priests, then how do they expect anyone to believe it's impossible for the Streeps of Hollywood to be unaware?
How about conservatives who regularly appeared on Fox News -- like Bozell, for example, who for years had a recurring weekly segment on Sean Hannity's show, or any of the other MRC -- who pontificate about Weinstein by don't want to talk about the serial sexual harassment perpetrated by Fox News chief Roger Ailes and host Bill O'Reilly?
As we've documented, Bozell not only couldn't be bothered to condemn Ailes -- that would have likely cut down on Fox News appearances for him and MRC -- his praise of Ailes upon the latter's death earlier this year completely censored mention of the sexual harassment that cost him his job.
As far as O'Reilly's sexual harassment goes, Bozell and Graham wrote a column that included exactly one sentence in perfuctory denunciation of the harassment and the entire rest of the column attacking O'Reilly's critics and the "liberal media" for exposing it. Further, Graham appeared on the final episode of O'Reilly's show (albeit after he had been suspended) and didn't think he needed to comment on that situation.
Graham then took it one step further in an Oct. 15 post by attacking one of Ailes' accuser, whining that "this week’s People gave three pages to a big article on former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment accusations against Fox News chief Roger Ailes created a similar hubbub in July 2016. Fox News settled her lawsuit for $20 million." Yes, according to Graham, Ailes' serial sexual harassment was just a "hubbub," apparently not a big deal.
Graham then portrayed Carlson's allegations as part of a liberal hit job on Ailes: "Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, and they loaded in an excerpt. The book’s dust-cover testimonials come from a progressive crowd: Maria Shriver, Katie Couric, Larry Wilmore, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, Billie Jean King, and Fox-loathing journalist Gabriel Sherman."
Graham seems not to have considered that Carlson's publishers could find no conservative who would speak out on her behalf for fear of alienating Fox News and losing those precious TV hits -- after all, Bozell and Graham certainly have no interest in doing so.
WND Columnist Rehashes Discredited Attacks on Kinsey Topic: WorldNetDaily
Michael Brown writes in his Oct. 9 WorldNetDaily column:
If Hugh Hefner was the poster boy of the sexual revolution, Alfred Kinsey was the father of the revolution. But that is not the only thing that joins these men together. Both of them were overt rebels against “puritanical” Christianity, devoting their lives to “liberate” humanity from what they perceived to be the bondage of a sterile, restrictive morality.
Kinsey was born in 1894 and died in 1956. His claim to fame was his 1948 volume, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” followed by his 1953 volume, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.” (Is it a coincidence that it was in 1953 that Hefner published the first edition of Playboy, featuring the Marilyn Monroe nudes?)
Kinsey twice made it to the cover of Time magazine, and in 1953, Time even claimed that “he has done for sex what Columbus did for geography. …”
Despite this fanfare, and despite the rather tame summary of his life on Wikipedia (“an American biologist, professor of entomology and zoology, and sexologist”), Kinsey was by all accounts a sexual pervert. As summarized by Susan Brinkman, “He was a pederast who enjoyed public nudity, made explicit sex films and eventually developed such an extreme sadomasochistic form of autoeroticism that some believe it caused his untimely death in 1956.”
Yet it was not enough for him reputedly to have sex with men, women, minors and family members. Instead, as Judith Reisman notes, “Kinsey solicited and encouraged pedophiles, at home and abroad, to sexually violate from 317 to 2,035 infants and children for his alleged data on normal ‘child sexuality.’ Many of the crimes against children (oral and anal sodomy, genital intercourse and manual abuse) committed for Kinsey’s research are quantified in his own graphs and charts.”
Well, there's brown's problem -- he's relying on Reisman, an utterly discredited anti-Kinsey obsessive, for his information on Kinsey. Her claim that Kinsey demanded that pedophiles commit sexual acts for the sole purpose of helping his research, or that he carried out such acts on children himself, is completely false.
Brown also cites other sources making similar claims -- an article from the far-right John Birch Society publication The New American, and the item by Brinkman published at a Catholic website whose main goal is to "translate and publish the Roman Pontiff’s words, messages, documents, speeches, and general audience addresses" -- also rely on Reisman's so-called research.
CNS Still Working As A Stenography Service for Judicial Watch Topic: CNSNews.com
Earlier this year, we detailed how CNSNews.com was essentially serving as a press-release factory for right-wing legal group Judicial Watch. Since that time, CNS has never stopped its PR work for the organization. Here are some of its JW-friendly headlines from over the summer and into the fall:
As usual, all of these articles -- some of which were written by CNS managing editor Michael W. Chapman -- stay slavishly close to the message Judicial Watch wants to spread, and no effort is made to solicit anyone who might rebut the group's claims.
A real news organization does not dedicate so much effort to serve as a press release rewrite service for a single partisan organization. CNS, thus, is not a real news organizaiton.
WND's Las Vegas Massacre Coverage Stays Conspiratorial Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily's coverage of the Las Vegas massacre took a conspiratorial turn early, and it's staying that way.
WND's Leo Hohmann -- taking a break from his Muslim-hating crusade -- has apparently signed on as the PR person for ISIS, in an Oct. 6 article headlined "5 days after Vegas slaughter, only ISIS offers a narrative":
Despite the persistent claims by the Islamic State that it was behind the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said again Friday it has no evidence of any connection between the killer, Stephen Paddock, and the Islamic terrorist organization.
In fact, a Sheriff’s spokesman said Friday authorities remain unable to tie the shooter to any other person or organization and remain totally baffled on what may have motivated him.
Law enforcement is so devoid of answers, in fact, that the FBI has partnered with Clear Channels, a chain of radio broadcasters, on a project to seek the public’s help in solving the mystery of who or what may have inspired Stephen Craig Paddock to gun down hundreds of country music fans at an outdoor concert on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas.
Aside from his bizarre cheerleading for ISIS, Hohmann gets that last part completely wrong. First, the name is Clear Channel, not Clear Channels. Second, the radio division of Clear Channel renamed itself iHeartRadio in 2014. Third, it's actually the billboard division of the company, named Clear Channel Outdoor, that's helping with the investigation, not the radio division.
As the timeline of the massacre shifts as new information is being discovered, Hohmann's conspiratorial spidey sense just keeps tingling:
In that last article, Hohmann complained that the sheriff in Las vegas "reportedly barred two conservative, independent journalists from entering the Friday press conference. They said they were stopped from entering by armed officers." Of course, if they're conservative, they're not "independent." One of them,Laura Loomer, is a far-right writer best known not for any journalistic exploits but for interrupting a stage production of "Julius Caesar" to yell "CNN is ISIS!" The other, Mike Tokes is, like Loomer, another alt-right figure more interested in agitprop than anything resembling actual journalism.
Meanwhile, terrible lawyer Larry Klayman discovered Hohmann's earlier article about shooter Stephen Paddock being a "federal agent" because he was a mailman and Defense Department auditor 30 years ago and ran with it in his Oct. 12 column:
I have seen it many times before. An FBI or law-enforcement informant, or some other “politically sensitive person,” commits a crime, and federal, state or local government authorities cover it up. This is the likely scenario in the wake of the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre in Las Vegas, perpetrated by an alleged mysterious man named Stephen Paddock.
If I had to guess, given just the few examples of government deceit detailed in this column, I would say that Paddock was in some way an informant or working for the local police and/or the FBI. Given that Las Vegas is a “Mafia haven” for the gambling industry, and since Paddock was a gambler who frequented high-end casinos and wagered large sums of money – rubbing shoulders with other gamblers and likely Mafia figures – could it be that he was doing undercover work for law enforcement? And, if this is so, there would indeed be a strong motive for the local police or the FBI not to want it known that one of theirs committed the biggest mass murder of its kind in American history.
CNS Goes Into Cleanup Mode for Trump's State Dept. Topic: CNSNews.com
President Trump's State Department and diplomacy efforts hit a bit of a rough patch last week -- which means it was up to the Trump stenographers at CNSNews.com to put its best spin on things.
After the U.S. voted against a United Nations resolution opposing the death penalty for crimes, including alleged offenses of homosexuality, CNS Patrick Goodenough rushed into action with an Oct. 4 article serving up State Department spin that the U.S. voted agianst it "not because it condemned capital punishment for homosexuality, but because the text included calls for the abolition of the death penalty altogether." Goodenough then added that "Countries where the death penalty for homosexuality is applied or codified in law are all Islamic."
Then, after a story broke that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly clashed with the White House and disparaged Trump, CNS' Melanie Arter went into damage-control mode with an article uncritically detailing how Tillerson "disputed a news report that claimed he considered resigning from his post over the summer and refused to address what he called 'petty nonsense,' when questioned on whether it was true that he called President Donald Trump 'a moron.'"
The next day, Goodenough returned for more stenography, this time from State Department spokesperson (and former Fox News anchor) Heather Nauert:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cares more about promoting America’s foreign policy goals than about the television cameras, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday.
In giving a spirited defense of her boss in the face of press reports claiming Tillerson considered resigning over the summer, Nauert suggested that some predecessors had not been so averse to media coverage.
“He’s not the kind of person who’s going to just show up in front of every television camera,” she told reporters. “Some have done that in the past. The secretary doesn’t find that necessarily to be effective.”
“He’s not someone who’s ever going to love being in front of the television cameras,” Nauert said later. “He is not a politician. He isn’t. And some people just don’t seem to get that just yet.”
“I’m okay with that,” she said. “I’m okay standing behind a man, working for a man who wants to keep his nose to the grindstone, wants to promote U.S. foreign policy goals, and cares first and foremost about that and less about television cameras.”
Through its pro-Trump stenography, CNS is proving to be as loyal to the Trump administration as Nauert is.
WND's Hohmann: Assume Muslim Who Commits A Crime Is A Jihadist, Don't Bother to Investigate Topic: WorldNetDaily
We've noted how Muslim-hating WorldNetDaily reporter Leo Hohmann automatically believes every Muslim is a potential terrorist, and every Muslim who commits a crime should automatically be considered an active terrorist carrying out jihad so authorities shouldn't even bother to investigate.
Hohmann sneers this anti-Muslim superiority again in a Sept. 21 WND article:
One year after a Muslim refugee from Somalia carried out a bloody knife attack on a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the FBI says it still can’t figure out the young man’s motive for the attack.
Dahir Adan, 20, drove to the Crossroads Center mall on the evening of Sept. 19 and began to plunge two kitchen knives into shoppers after asking several of them if they were Muslim. Those who said “no” were brutally slashed and stabbed, two of them critically. It would have been much worse if not for the presence of an alert off-duty cop, who shot the Somali dead.
Adan was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for “Allah is Greatest!” – as he stabbed his victims.
ISIS took credit for the attack, calling Adan a “soldier of the Islamic State.”
But none of these classic indicators was enough to convince the FBI that Adan was, in fact, a jihadist.
“Authorities still say they may never know what sparked Adan’s decision to bring two Farberware kitchen knives to the mall that night,” reported the Minneapolis Star Tribuneon the anniversary of the attack.
Hohmann went on to cite his Muslim-hating buddies Robert Spencer and Philip Haney to declare that they knew better than the investigators about motive. He ignored the things the actual investigators were looking at -- according to the Star Tribune, "authorities have not found contacts between Adan and operatives of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria." That would seem to be a more important detail than anything agenda-driven haters like Hohmann, Spencer and Haney have to say.
Nevertheless, Hohmann went on a fact-free rant:
Islamists in the West say Islam is the religion of peace and they don’t condone terrorism, but they rarely condemn the jihadists and anyone who does is labeled an “Islamophobe” or a “racist.”
Similarly, the leftists say they are for “peace,” “equality,” “inclusiveness” and “diversity,” but they won’t condemn violent leftists such as antifa, and anyone who disagrees with their leftist views is labeled a “fascist” or a “racist.”
MRC Mistakes Enforced Patriotism for Genuine Respect for the Flag Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has deliberately misportrayed the kneeling protests by NFL players as disrespect for the flag, even though kneeling does, in fact, is an act of respect. So it's not surprising that the MRC is trying to drag "journalists" into its misleading narrative by rehashing a very old story. Take it away, Geoffrey Dickens:
Journalists are falling over themselves to praise NFL players taking a knee in protest during the National Anthem, but this isn’t the first time members of the liberal media have shown disrespect towards a symbol of national unity. Even as this country was recovering from the wounds of 9/11 some leftists in the press were agonizing over the proliferation of flag-waving.
First: Many of the people Dickens cites are not "journalists"; they are commentators like Katha Politt and Bill Moyers.
Second: Most of the examples Dickens cites are from the post-9/11 kerfuffle over whether people on TV should be forced to wear flag pins on their lapels. (No example is more recent than 2013, and there's a completely irrelevant one from 1991.) That means the conversation was not about patriotism but forced patriotism -- a difference Dickens doesn't seem to understand, or does and is pretending otherwise.
Certainly Dickens knows that forced patriotism is not real patriotism at all. That's why he (and the entire MRC) is trying to make this whole thing about the flag and not the issues the kneeling protest is actually about.
NEW ARTICLE: The MRC Wants Jimmy Kimmel to Shut Up Topic: Media Research Center
The late-night host has some opinions on things near and dear to his heart, and the Media Research Center doesn't like it. At all. Read more >>
Hypocrisy: MRC Obsesses Over Weinstein -- But Was Mostly Quiet When Top Conservatives Were Accused of Sexual Harassment Topic: Media Research Center
As of this writing, the Media Research Center has devoted a whopping 31 posts referencing the sexual harassment allegations surrounding now-former film executive Harvey Weinstein, a large number of them calling out people and media outlets that weren't obsessing over it as hard as the MRC has been, or who had previous links to Weinstein. For instance:
If the MRC wants to play that game, let's take a look at how it reacted to two other recent high-profile cases of serial sexual harassment -- but these involved the leader and the star employee of the MRC's favorite channel, Fox News.
When tales of sexual harassment by Roger Ailes forced him to resign last year from the "news" channel he created, the MRC was the opposite of obsessed; it was mentioned only in passing, when it was mentioned at all. In one of the very rare times it did address the issue, one NewsBusters blogger insisted that Ailes shouldn't be blamed for the culture of sexual harassment at Fox News, and another claimed it was "liberal bias" for anyone to even discuss Ailes' sexual harassment issues.
When Ailes died earlier this year, not only did the statement on his death by MRC chief Brent Bozell fail to mention the sexual harassment, the MRC attacked anyone who attempted to include sexual harassment as part of an accurate accounting of Ailes' legacy.
When star Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was ousted from the network over similar sexual harassment allegations, the MRC didn't really want to talk about that either -- not even when its Tim Graham appeared on the final edition of O'Reilly's old show and had a chance to speak truth to power. Graham and Bozell then issued a perfunctory denunciation of O'Reilly, then spent the rest of their column attacking O'Reilly's critics, dismissing the allegations as old news and portraying O'Reilly as the victim of a hypocritical "liberal media." (Never mind Bozell and Graham's own hypocrisy in being unable to denounce sexual harassment without invoking the Clintons.)
Last month, the MRC touted O'Reilly's appearance on NBC in which he denied any harassment without offering any evidence to back him up and -- in an echo of Bozell and Graham -- insisted he was the victim of a "hit job, a political and financial hit job." Would the MRC ever provide a similarly uncritical platform for Weinstein to deny the allegations against him? Highly unlikely.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Bozell even suggested that the sexual harassment charges against Ailes and O'Reilly weren't true, and even if they were, the Fox News audience wouldn't care:
But many of the stories are background noise to Fox viewers suspicious of bias by the “mainstream media,” said Brent Bozell, president of the conservative media watchdog Media Research Center. Many question the truth of the stories or see them as payback for Fox’s success, he said.
“They’re not going to stop watching Hannity because of Roger Ailes,” Bozell said. “I don’t think they connect the two of them at all.”
Bozell didn't say whether he himself was having the same disconnect -- one that the MRC, by contrast, is working to ensure doesn't happen between Weinstein and anyone even tangentally associated with him.
The MRC has no room whatsoever to complain about silence and hypocrisy by others on the issue of sexual harassment. Yet it insists on complaining anyway.
Newsmax Columnist: Won't Somebody Think of the Poor Rich Widow Who Has to Sell Her Picassos! Topic: Newsmax
Ira Stoll tries for a bit of pathos in his Oct. 2 Newsmax column:
The most illuminating recent article about the tax reform debate didn’t appear on the front page of any newspaper. It wasn’t in the business section, or on the editorial page.
It was an interview that appeared on an inside page of The New York Times arts section with Ellen Stern.
Stern isn’t an academic economist or a politician or a tax policy expert at some Washington, D.C. think tank. She’s a widow. Her husband, Jerome, died in March.
Beginning on Nov. 14 and continuing through March 2018 in nine separate events, Sotheby’s is scheduled to auction off the collection of art Jerome and Ellen Stern assembled over 30 years.
The Times reporter on the story, Robin Pogrebin, covers arts, not the Senate Finance Committee or the House Ways and Means Committee or the Treasury Department. She sensitively captured the emotions involved, "Losing her husband, Jerome, in March was devastating for Ellen Stern. And preparing to part with much of their extensive art collection this fall is its own kind of grief."
Ellen Stern described having to sell the art as "like you’re stripped naked."
So why would Stern part with the paintings and sculptures that she told the Times she loved almost like children?
The Times posed the question directly, "Why are you selling it?" Stern answered equally directly, "Because of taxes."
Of all the many cruelties of our current tax system, one of most cruel is that it takes grieving widows and forces them to part with possessions accumulated over a lifetime.
Well, no. A multimillionaire woman who's parting with artwork but still has a sizable estate is nowhere near the same thing as a typical widow. Stoll seems to admit he's not generating much sympathy even as he downplays how rich she is, but he gamely presses on:
You may say that in a country of poverty-stricken hurricane victims and high-school dropout opioid addicts, Ellen Stern having to sell her Picassos in order to pay the tax bill on her 10 bedroom, 10 bathroom Westhampton estate doesn’t exactly rank high on the list of outrages. It isn’t a problem that affects a lot of people. Up to $5 million a person in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars is exempt from federal taxes, though some states, including New York, levy their own estate taxes. The people it does affect are asset-rich.
But the more you think about it, the more you realize that essentially all taxes — not just the estate tax — are just some kind of variation of the IRS forcing Ellen Stern to sell her art.
How much wasteful or counterproductive spending in Washington could be cut if before each time some politician approved a spending measure, he or she had to consider whether funding it was really worth making some widow sell a beloved artwork, or forcing similar painful trade-offs on millions of middle-class American families? Call it the Ellen Stern test.
Nope, Ira, you're still losing us. That 16-acre estate in the Hamptons, where the Sterns kept their art in its own large, private gallery, is on the market for $23 million, and she apparently plans to keep her Upper West Side apartment, which we can safely assume is also valued in the millions. One single piece out of the art collection -- a sculpture not by Picasso -- is expected to sell for $6 million to $8 million, and the collection as a whole is valued at $20 million and is so big it will take 10 separate auctions to dispose of. The Sterns have so much money, they gave a six-figure sum to a New York art museum to have bathrooms named after them.
Stern is not desperate, however much she complains she's selling the art to pay taxes and however much Stoll tries to suggest otherwise -- she's an elderly woman who's downsizing an expansive estate after the death of her wealthy venture-capitalist husband (Stoll never mentions his occupation). Her plight is not that of the "ordinary, middle-income taxpayers" to which Stoll tries to liken her since, as he implicitly admits, Stern's estate is far beyond the $5 million minimum to trigger the estate tax.
Consider Stoll's column a failure of misdirected sympathy.
MRC Mad That Media Accurately Describes Pence's NFL Stunt As A Stunt Topic: Media Research Center
It seems pretty obvious that Vice President Mike Pence's decision to walk out of an Indianapolis Colts NFL game because some players were kneeling during the national anthem was a stunt -- and a very expensive one at that. But accurately reporting the stunt-like nature of Pence's walkout earns you the ire of the Media Research Center.
Jay Maxson complained that "CNN's Brian Stelter accused Pence of planning his actions ahead of time," despite the fact that it was pretty obvious he did. Brad Wilmouth followed up by huffing about TV networks calling it it a stunt that "It did not seem to occur to either network that, when several of the '49ers players sparked the move by kneeling during the National Anthem, this display could also be called a 'stunt.'" Given that kneeling is something of a regular thing among some NFL football players, it could hardly be described as a "stunt" at this point. Nevertheless, Wilmouth goes on to grouse:
It did not seem to occur to either ABC or NBC that Pence, being a native of Indiana, perhaps has a tradition of attending games in his home state, and did not wish to merely give up on going because of the possibility of provocative actions by some players before they had actually occurred.
The fact that Wilmouth stuck a "perhaps" in there means he doesn't actually know whether Pence normally goes to football games in Indiana, and he's just grasping at straws to defend him.
Kyle Drennen complained that networks newscasts "touted left-wing 'critics' deriding the move as a 'PR stunt.'" He doesn't deny it, but he does try to deflect: "The protests against the National Anthem by NFL players were not 'impromptu' either, in fact, those demonstrations have been highly orchestrated in many cases. That never seemed to bother journalists before."
Oh, the lengths some people will go to defend a politician...
WND's Farah Offers His Usual Load of Hooey To A Reporter Topic: WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah began his Oct. 2 column in his usual tone, mocking the feminist website Jezebel by invoking the biblical Jezebel with "her penchant for child sacrifice, the elevation of pagan gods and the way she lured King Ahab into spiritual corruption and murder." However, he then devoted the rest of his column to the answers he gave to questions about WND from a Jezebel writer.
Unfortunately, Farah served up the same self-aggrandizing hooey he has for years. First up:
First question: “What was the impetus behind founding WorldNetDaily? Was it conceived of as a right-wing site, or an answer to more liberal-leaning sites?”
Answer: “After 20 years doing everything one could possibly do in ‘mainstream journalism,’ as you might call it, I started the first independent online news service, WorldNetDaily, 20 years ago. The purpose was to do what I had been doing for the previous 20 years – journalism that provided a career that permitted me to rise to the top of my industry and get opportunities to run daily newspapers in major markets (IN CALIFORNIA!) I have never thought of myself or described myself as ‘right-wing’ or even ‘conservative.’ (Neither has WND ever self-described with those terms.) The idea for WND was to return to what had once been the “central role of a free press,” serving as a watchdog on government and other powerful institutions. It was also to be reflective of a Judeo-Christian worldview. Nothing has changed in 20 years except the drift of the culture away from those very ‘mainstream’ principles.”
Just because neither Farah nor WND "self-describe" as conservative or right-wing doesn't mean they aren't. Farah was a right-wing activist editor at the Sacramento Union in the early 1990s, later forming the right-wing Western Journalism Center, which under his leadership mostly attacked President Clinton. WND was formed in 1997 as an offshoot of the WJC, and its real original purpose -- not Farah's bogus declared mission -- was to attack the Clinton administration.
Second question: “What do you make of the accusation that the site publishes ‘conspiracy theories,’ like suggesting Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States? Do you want to respond to some of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s criticisms of your work?”
Answer: “WND has been accused of publishing ‘conspiracy theories,’ but, in all cases, I’ve noticed those accusations fall into two categories – a) WND is accused of promoting conspiracies by simply asking questions and pursuing answers (Obama’s failure to demonstrate constitutional eligibility, for instance. Obama and Michelle are the ones who stated, not suggested, he was not born in the U.S., not me); and b) the publishing of opinions by some of our columnists and commentary contributors (‘soy makes you gay,’ for instance); One thing you have to understand about WND is that it, among all publications I know about, publishes the broadest spectrum of opinion from left to right. No one seems to notice this.”
Farah is, of course, lying when he says WND was "simply asking questions and pursuing answers" about birther conspiracies. A presentation to an Arizona tea-party group by birther WND reporter Jerome Corsi set in motion Joe Arpaio's laughably incompetent investigation of the issue -- something that presentation was apparently intended to do -- and WND worked behind the scenes to manufacture pro-birther affidavits and feed birther conspiracies to Donald Trump. If WND really was interesting in "pursuing answers," it wouldn't have utterly ignored the repeated debunkings of birther conspiracies.
As for Farah's "broadest spectrum" of columnsts, only two of WND's regularly appearing three dozen or so columnists (Ellen Ratner and Bill Press) are genuinely liberal; the rest are various shades of conservative, right-wing and conservative Christian. Not much of a spectrum.
Third question: “What’s your feeling about the new discussion around ‘fake news’? Does this seem like a new phenomenon to you? Have you been aware of the rise of hyper-partisan news sites, as well as sites that publish explicitly false news?”
Answer: “Hyper-partisan news is a great American tradition. It began when America had competing newspapers in most markets. It exploded when the Internet came along and lowered the bar to entry into the media world. I deplore fake news, which is a real phenomenon in what you would call ‘mainstream’ sources like CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as it is in the new media. It’s sad because it detracts from media that diligently stick to the old rules of journalism on sourcing, seeking out countervailing viewpoints, etc.”
How funny -- WND has a longhistory of refusing to seek out countervailing viewpoints and writing "news" articles only from its right-wing point of view. And how can Farah possibly deplore fake news when he publishes somuchof it?
Farah concluded with his knee-slapper response to allegations that "President Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government": "A conspiracy theory with no evidence to support it." Yes, he really said that, despite the fact there's far more evidence of Russian interference in the election than there ever was of Obama being born anywhere but the U.S. If Trump was a Democrat, WND would be all over this story -- but Farah is a diehard Trump supporter, so the president gets a pass.
We can only express grudging amazement that Farah continues to tell such lies in public with a straight face.