Newsmax Pushes Speculation That Notre Dame Fire Was Intentional Topic: Newsmax
An April 25 Newsmax TV report by John Bachman -- hidden behind a "Platinum" paywall on the Newsmax website but also posted at its YouTube page -- tries to push the idea that the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral was intentionally set.
Bachman's "cutting-edge" report by first getting the name not quite right -- using the English prounciation of Notre Dame instead of the proper French one -- then touting speculation challenging the "unusual immediate declaration of an accident when almost no investigation had been thoroughly conducted," then conceded that "many of the most radical theories have been debunked." He then took a huge, distracting logical leap, declaring that "one can make a clear case that Christianity is clearly under attack from extremists" and first citing ... the terrorist attcks in Sri Lanka. Bachman offersd no evidence whatsoever that terrorist attacks in non-French locations, or even any of the church vandalism incidents inside France, have any thing to do with what happened at Notre Dame. Still, he insisted that "it's easy to understand why many people are wondering and questioning French authorities as to why they were so quick and how they were able to declare the Notre Dame fire an accident without a full investigation."
Notre Dame fire conspiracy theories are expected from the likes of conspiracy-happy WorldNetDaily, but with the Media Research Center and now Newsmax leaning into it, there must be some right-wing narrative being built.
MRC Complains That Media Pointed Out Trump Made A Dumb Suggestion During Notre Dame Fire Topic: Media Research Center
At the Media Research Center, it's forbidden for anyone in the media to criticize President Trump -- even when he says something universally recognized as dumb. Take it away, Nicholas Fondacaro:
On Monday, the world watched in horror as the famous Notre Dame Cathedral burned. A deeply concerned President Trump put out a tweet urging for water-tanker helicopters to be used to put out the blaze. We later learned that French authorities didn’t use them because the weight of the water could cause further destruction. Despite many other people thinking the same thing, members of liberal media used it as an opportunity to score cheap points against Trump. But not all did.
For ABC’s World News Tonight, chief White House correspondent Jon Karl dug into Trump for offering “some unsolicited advice” to French firefighters. “Would that work? A veteran American firefighter told David it would not,” he chided.
He added: “Later, the French Civil Defense Agency said essentially the same thing. In its one and only tweet of the day in English. ‘All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral.’”
During CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, comedic reporter Jeanne Moos mocked the President’s idea for getting shot down:
JEANNE MOOS: President Trump offered advice, “perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it must act quickly.” Jersey City’s fire chief threw cold water on that.
CHIEF STEVEN MCGILL (Jersey City Fire Department): Water is very heavy and if it hits a structure like that, out of a tanker, it could cause further collapse.
Contrary to Fondacaro's opinion, it's not "mocking" Trump or "cheap points" to point out his idea was stupid -- that's just factual reporting. And the MRC hates it when the facts have a liberal bias.
WND's Brown In Denial About Hating Buttigieg Because He's Gay Topic: WorldNetDaily
Michael Brown began his April 17 column by taking a shot at Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg:
Go ahead. Ban be. Block me. Get out your nasty dictionary and vilify me. Call me obsessed. Hateful. Bigoted. Have at it.
The fact is, there are a million things I’d rather write about, but the state of the world leaves me no choice. To be silent is to give tacit approval. To be silent is to accept. To be silent is to capitulate. And that’s not going to happen.
A Democratic leader announces his presidential candidacy and then turns to kiss his same-sex partner. And the crowd celebrates.
Sorry, but I’m not celebrating.
After more ranting about transgenders, Brown added:
It is love that motivates me and moves me. Love for God. Love for America. Love for the coming generations. Love for what is best.
You can call it hate. You can brand me a Nazi. That will only encourage me to speak up all the more clearly.
We'll call it hate, since we're not seeing any love in Brown's motivation. After all, he spent his May 3 column explaining how we must hate Buttigieg because he's a gay Christian:
How then has he surged up in the polls? Why has he become the darling of the left?
It’s because he is gay. And he is “married” to his partner. And he is a professing Christian. And he is challenging sacred biblical and church traditions. What more could the left ask for?
But there’s a nuance to this we cannot miss.
Mayor Pete and his partner are the perfect poster boys for the gay agenda, a culmination of years of messaging and marketing.
They seem like really nice guys (and might well be).
They seem wholesome.
They are churchgoing.
They care about the poor.
To the best of our knowledge, they are not frequenting gay bars looking for anonymous sex encounters.
They are like your ideal neighbors, just a little different.
Brown complained about that purported "gay agenda" of homosexuality being "just another thing," asserting that this meant that he couldn't then demonize them as filthy sluts -- or, as he put it, "As for negative aspects of homosexuality (such as higher rates of promiscuity and STDs or “open” marriages), those should be hidden from the public eye."
Brown then demonstrated more a nimosity toward Buttigieg and his husband -- again while denying he is doing any such thing:
It could well be that Pete and Chasten are really nice guys. That they’re really committed to each other. That they would be very nice neighbors.
But two men (or two women) “marrying” will never equal a man and woman marrying. Two dads or two moms will never equal a mom and a dad (nor will they ever be able to reproduce themselves physically in their offspring). Sex distinctions, established by God at creation for the good of the human race, still matter.
Consequently, while I do not have the slightest animosity towards Mayor Pete (or Chasten), what I will celebrate is the miracle of a man and a woman coming together as one. A couple joined in romantic and sexual union, reproducing the unique byproduct of their emotional and spiritual and physical lives – a literal, new creation.
That’s the real first family, and it represents the fullest expression of God’s heart.
Gay families will take these words as hate-filled and denigrating, for which I’m truly sorry. I’m simply saying that God’s ways are truly best.
Pro tip for Brown: If you are devoting an entire column to defending the idea that Buttigieg and his husband must not be taken seriously -- and, indeed, be rejected as aberrant freaks -- because they are gay, you are denigrating them with a large degree of animosity.
MRC Employed A White Nationalist Topic: Media Research Center
A BuzzFeed News profile of Katie McHugh -- a white nationalist activist and writer so virulent that she ultimately found her ostracized from the movement and now says she has renounced her activism, changed her views and is broke -- contains an interesting sidelight about a former Media Research Center employee.
The article references a picture featuring McHugh with other white nationalists, including someone named Tim Dionisopoulos, who was active in a group called Youth for Western Civilization. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes YWC as ultraconservative and obsessed with race and misogyny -- to the point that Jared Taylor, leader of the white nationalist group American Renaissance, wrote a fundraising letter for it. He also earned a profile at the extremist monitoring group One People's Project, which notes that he was once arrested for making harassing phone calls.
Despite that record of extremism, Dionisopoulos moved in mainstream conservative circles. From 2011 to 2014, Dinoisopoulos was a writer for conservative website Campus Reform; he also served as a volunteer faculty member at the conservative Leadership Institute, which runs Campus Reform. From there, he joined the MRC as an assistant marketing director, managing its social media accounts. He also wrote at the MRC's MRCTV site.
It's unclear when Dionisopoulos left the MRC -- Dionisopoulos is quoted in the BuzzFeed article as saying he left employment there "months" ago. He may have left sometime after last August, when an Atlantic article (written by Rosie Gray, who also wrote the McHugh piece) noted that Dionisopoulos was pictured with other white nationalists including Ian Smith, who had worked as a policy analyst in the Department of Homeland Security. His last post for MRCTV was in October 2017.
Still, that means Dionisopoulos worked for the MRC for four years and was apparently not bothered by his white nationalism. the One People's Project profile on him was published in 2015, so it's unlikely the MRC didn't know about this during much of his tenure there.
That would be a similar timeframe reflecting the MRC's newfound concern over white nationalism in its ranks. The previous month, it had quietly dismissed Tom Blumer as a blogger for its NewsBusters operation after others (not the MRC) discovered white nationalist links in his posts. As with Dionisopoulos, it's highly unlikely the MRC didn't know about Blumer's white nationalist leanings, given that some of those offending links remained live in his posts for three years before they were pointed out and, thus, suddenly became inconvenient.
In deleting those links, the MRC added a note to Blumer's posts that "NewsBusters does not associate with known white nationalists." The record appears to demonstrate otherwise.
CNS, The Mark Levin News Service Topic: CNSNews.com
CNSNews.com is such an enthusiastic promoter of everything Mark Levin says or does -- 135 articles in 2018 alone on the alleged pearls of wisdom dropping from his mouth or of the guests (and even the guest hosts) on his TV and radio shows -- that it might as well rename itself the Mark Levin News Service. Levin even rewarded all this free publicity by giving Brent Bozell, head of the Media Research Center, which runs CNS, a fluffy, logrolling interview on his Fox News show in his first show of 2019.
The stenography hasn't stopped. In the first four months of 2019, CNS made Levin's rantings the subject of 43 articles. Here's the breakdown by month:
That's an average of one Levin stenography piece every 2.8 days. All of these articles simply repeat what Levin says, often in blockquoted text; nobody is permitted to respond.
It's ironic that Levin rants about objectivity at one point when he benefits from a complete lack of it at CNS. Levin might as well be paying Bozell and the MRC for all this fawning exposure, if he isn't already doing so.
MRC Writer Triggered By A Color On A Map Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center's Scott Whitlock was so triggered by a color on a map that he devoted an entire April 8 post to ranting about it (boldface his):
Talk about fake history. CBS Sunday Morning on April 7 featured a story on the Reconstruction era after the Civil War and former slaves who entered Congress in the 1870s. The visuals for the CBS segment used the political “red and blue” state graphics. But instead of following actual history, the network made the slave-holding Confederates red and the union states blue. It should be the other way around.
Correspondent Mo Rocca explained, “After returning home to Beaufort, South Carolina, Robert Smalls was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.One of more than a dozen African Americans to serve in Congress during the period known as Reconstruction, when the formerly rebel states were reabsorbed into the union and four million newly freed Africans were made citizens.”
As he talked, the CBS visuals showed the red Confederate states melting into the newly blue America. In reality, the Confederacy was made up of Democrats. It was Abraham Lincoln’s Republicans who fought to preserve the union and end slavery.
Credit to Rocca for at least getting this right (vocally) as he spoke. Referring to the African American members of Congress after the Civil War, Rocca noted, “All of them southerners, all of them Republicans in 1872.”
But apparently CBS’s graphic department couldn’t get this right.
Whitlock is apparently so inculcated by his anti-media work at the MRC that he has not considered the possibility that perhaps the CBS graphics department was not imposing modern political color meanings onto its map -- it was just after two contrasting colors, and red and blue are the two most prominent contrasting colors.
And even if one does accept Whitlock's conspiracy theory that CBS deliberate chose those colors with political motivation, it's worth pointing out that there's an element of truth given that Republicans currently dominatethe South and are primarily the ones defending Confederate monuments from removal.
WND's Tomczak Fawns Over Trump Again Topic: WorldNetDaily
As befits a writer who once described "your 10 Christimas gifts from President Trump," WorldNetDaily columnist Larry Tomczak is back for some more gushing in his April 22 column over Trump and glossing over his amoral behavior because he delivers the right-wing goods, not to mention that he was divinely appointed by God:
I am of the conviction that Donald Trump was God’s provision for our nation at a time when we needed an outsider, not a man pleaser. He is blunt, a businessman and certainly has lots of baggage!
When President Trump says and does things contrary to God’s Word, I don’t self-righteously criticize him and write him off but intentionally pray for him and cite what he’s doing contrary to Scripture. I distinguish between his policies and his personal misdeeds. He reminds me of Winston Churchill quoted in Andrew Roberts’s excellent biography, “I may not be the best practitioner of the Church but I am its best protector.”
I was in a leaders’ gathering in New York prior to Trump’s election where he spoke of a sense of destiny to restore America’s greatness as one nation under God. He spoke of the Bible his mom gave him, his Presbyterian roots, the priority of family and his abstinence from all cigarettes and intoxicants. He passionately stated the necessity of jettisoning the Johnson Amendment intimidating pastors from speaking on critical moral issues in our day.
A man of his word
While in office Donald Trump has kept his word to honor conservative values. He’s been strongly pro-life and pro-Israel; put committed Christians in his Cabinet and constitutionalists on courts throughout America; spoken out against socialism and apocalyptic global warning theories; started rebuilding our military and restoring respect for our veterans; brought about prison reforms; stood strong on legal immigration and national security; plus, initiated tax cuts and economic policies enabling millions of Americans to prosper, especially blacks and Hispanics. Our economy is at the most robust place in decades!
All the while he has been under the most vicious, hateful, unrelenting attacks of any person alive. Since the moment of his election, spiritual powers and principalities have operated through the media and personalities in an attempt to discredit him and perpetuate a false narrative that the election was illegitimate and must be overturned.
The entire Mueller report we endured for two years cost $30-$35 million of our tax money and was not a needed “investigation.” It was in reality a bogus scheme corrupt from the very beginning (multitudes hope this will now be uncovered). There isn’t and there simply never was any Russia-Trump collusion to interfere in the election, obstruction or the slightest bit of evidence found!
Actually, there are examples of obstruction detailed in the Mueller report, and there were enough documented examples of Trump campaign contacts with Russian operatives to warrant an investigation. But nobody's ever accused Tomczak of sticking to the facts.
CNS Obsesses Over Beto O'Rourke's Name (And Nickname) Topic: CNSNews.com
Beto O'Rourke has had the "Beto" nickname since he was a child, but right-wingers love to remind people that his real name is Robert in an attempt to undercut claims of authenticity and just plain pettiness (much like their insistence on incorrectly referring to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat Party"). Now CNSNews.com has joined that campaign of pettiness. Here are some recent examples of CNS needlessly emphasizing his formal name, complete with middle name:
Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke told his supporters in El Paso, Texas Monday night, "We know that walls do not save lives. Walls end lives." -- Susan Jones, Feb. 12
Former Congressman Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke, a Democrat from Texas who announced today that he is running for president in 2020, supports abortion across the board, including up to the moment of birth, according to his legislative record.-- Michael W. Champan, March 14
Newly minted presidential contender Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke wants to open lawful paths of immigration to potentially millions more people. -- Susan Jones, March 14
On his first day on the campaign trail Thursday, Democratic presidential hopeful Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke called for urgent action on climate change, and linked the leadership required to confront the issue with the storming of “the beaches in Normandy” in 1944. -- Patrick Goodenough, March 14
Democrat and newly minted presidential candidate Robert "Beto" O'Rourke said Tuesday he sees "a lot of wisdom" in abolishing the Electoral College: “You had an election in 2016 where the loser got 3 million more votes than the victor," he said. "It puts some states out of play all together.” -- Susan Jones, March 20
Speaking at a press gaggle following a town hall event at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA on Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate and former congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-Texas) called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “racist.” -- Craig Millward, April 8
Robert F. “Beto” O’Rourke released 10 years of tax filings on his website spanning from 2008 to 2017. -- Michael Morris, April 22
Speaking at a campaign event last week in Nevada, Democratic Presidential candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O'Rourke was asked by a student how he will “protect a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortion.” -- Michael New, April 30
Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, one of 20 people running for the Democrat presidential nomination, went to Yosemite Valley on Monday to announce what he calls “the most ambitious climate plan in the history of the United States.” -- Susan Jones, April 30
We found no instance in the CNS archive in which it ever referred to Sen. Ted Cruz -- whom O'Rourke ran against in 2018 -- as Rafael, his legal first name.
MRC Attacks CNN's Stelter For Not Spinning Trump Comment For Him Topic: Media Research Center
As we've documented, the Media Reserach Center cares a lot about context when it comes to quoting President Trump -- but not when it comes to any given non-conservative or whomever the MRC happens to hate.
An April 7 MRC post by Bill D'Agostino was zero parts "media research" and all parts pro-Trump defense operation, demanding context for words that Trump had left without context -- insisting that Trump's vague reference to getting rid of judges referred only to immigration judges, who aren't real judges anyway (needless boldface in original):
CNN’s Brian Stelter tried his darnedest to frighten viewers on Sunday by falsely implying that the President wanted to abolish one of the three fundamental branches of American government. The Reliable Sources host played two out-of-context clips of the President saying “we have to get rid of judges,” — but at no point did he explain that the President clearly had been referring specifically to immigration judges, and not to the judicial branch appointees that generally spring to mind when one hears the term “judge.”
One of the two clips was from a Friday press spray, in which the President said the following about reforming America’s immigration system: “Now, Congress has to act. They have to get rid of catch and release, chain migration, visa lottery. They have to get rid of the whole asylum system because it doesn’t work. And, frankly, we should get rid of judges.”
Stelter would likely defend himself by arguing that the President never specifically used the term “immigration judges.” However, even MSNBC producer Steve Benen was willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt in this regard.
Stelter, meanwhile, did not even float the possibility that the President might have been referring to immigration judges. Instead, he characterized the President’s words as “antithetical to democracy,” and after the clips played, he complained: “People mostly just shrug it off, like he’s the guy at the end of the bar, blowing off steam. Or like he’s an old man shaking his fist at a cloud.”
If Brian Stelter wants to prove that he was not deliberately misrepresenting the President’s words in an attempt to frighten his audience, he ought to explain what exactly he believed the President was saying.
Did he genuinely believe that Trump was proposing getting rid of judges, as established by Article III of the U.S. Constitution, across the board? Or was he arguing that abolishing immigration judges — executive branch employees formerly known as special inquiry officers, who are not even certified judges in the legal sense — would somehow be “antithetical to democracy?”
Presumably, American audiences would be alarmed at hearing their President propose “get[ting] rid of judges.” Presumably, it would be a journalist's job to explain what specifically the President was suggesting with that proposal. Unfortunately for Stelter’s audience, no such explanation was forthcoming. The clips had their intended effect, and the show continued apace.
This really isn't "media research" -- it's a political attack on Stelter for not telling a story in a way that benefits the MRC's favorite president.
CNS Published WH Press Sec's Lie, Hasn't Told Readers It's A Lie Topic: CNSNews.com
One of the side stories of the Mueller report is that it exposed as a lie a statement by then-deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a 2017 press briefing (remember those?) that "countless members of the FBI" had lost confidence in James Comey, who had just been fired by President Trump. Sanders insisted the claim was a "slip of the tongue" made in "the heat of the moment" and that it "was not founded on anything." Sanders has since doggedly stood by the "slip of the tongue" defense.
Among the outlets that published Sanders' original lie was CNSNews.com. A May 2017 article by pro-Trump stenographer extraordinaire Melanie Arter dutifully repeated Sanders' talking points:
One reporter asked what gives the White House “such confidence that the rank-and-file” within the FBI lost faith in Comey, given the perspective of an FBI special agent who said “the vast majority of the bureau is in favor of Director Comey” and “the real losers” are those in the FBI who “lost the only guy working in the past 15 years who actually cared about them.”
“Look, we've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things. In fact, the president will be meeting with Acting Director McCabe later today to discuss that very thing -- the morale at the FBI -- as well as make an offer to go directly to the FBI if he feels that that’s necessary and appropriate, and we’ll certainly provide further information on that meeting for you guys,” Sanders said.
Since the release of the Mueller report, CNS has not only ignored this revelation about Sanders -- thus hiding from its readers the fact that 1) Sanders told a lie and 2) CNS published it -- it has also failed to update its original article to acknowledge this fact. Not exactly a credibility-enhancing move.
WND Rewrites Year-Old Story To Smear Clintons Again Topic: WorldNetDaily
In March 2018, WorldNetDaily published an anonymously written article with the lurid headline "Bill, Hillary Clinton tied to sex-slaves 'cult" --but that link was tenuous at best and had absolutely nothing to do with sex. The group, known as NXIVM, had bundled donations to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, years before anyone ever suspected any problems with the group, and officials under Bill Clinton, while Arkansas governor, had charged NXIVM leader Keith Raniere with running a pyramid scheme in a previous operation. But that was enough for WND to smear the Clintons yet again.
Fast forward to April 21, more than a year later -- and WND has basically published the same story with a slightly different news hook of one of the group's members, actress Alison Mack, pleading guilty to a charge in the case.
"Sex-cult case snares Hillary Clinton campaign," blared the anonymously written article's headline, with the lead paragraph asserting, "The stunning allegations of sexual abuse and human trafficking inside the NXIVM cult now has snared the Hillary Clinton campaign." A few paragraphs later, WND tried the hard sell:
At the suggestion of a political operative, who has since pleaded guilty to an unrelated New York state bribery charge also involving campaign contributions, the contributions were ‘bundled’ and presented to the candidate at a fundraising event attended by conspirators.”
Tyler Durden reported at Zerohedge: “And whose ‘presidential primary campaign’ did the group allegedly attempt to buy influence with?
“None other than Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to former NXIVM publicist-turned-whistleblower Frank Parlato, who told Big League Politics, ‘I was there, and I knew that the contributions were made by more than a dozen NXIVM members of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
What followed was a rehashing of the 2007 donation bundling and the 1992 Arkansas charges against Raniere -- in other words, nothing new, just the same old tenuous connection designed to smear the Clintons, and bogus news at that.
If trying to put old, bogus news in new bottles is all that WND can do these days, maybe it doesn't deserve to live.
MRC Writer Again Spews Hatred At Journalists Topic: Media Research Center
We've documented the Media Research Center's callous disregard for the safety of journalists, viciously mocking them for being concerned when President Trump attacks them as the "enemy of the people" and even calling them self-centered for that concern.
The MRC's Curtis Houck -- who seems to have much of a problem with violence against journalists if they're not rigidly pro-Trump right-wingers like himself -- served up more anti-jounralist hate in an April 13 post sneeringly headlined "WH Reporters: Obama Disliked Press, But Trump Bashing Us Poses ‘Serious Danger’ to Our Lives!" Writing about a broadcasters convention panel that included a few White House correspondents, Houck huffed that "ABC senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega initially was blunt about being factual and not giving 'them...that argument' that they peddle fake news, but then she channeled CNN’s Jim Acosta by talking about how dangerous their lives are because of Trump."Houck later complained that Vega said that "Trump has “unwilling...turned us into the story by the manner in which he speaks to us or the tone or the language or the words he’s used” but her mindset is to persist with the questioning.
Then, showing off more of his Acosta Derangement Syndrome, Houck grumbled: "But just as one thought it’d be an hour with moments of common sense and humility, things can evaporate with [CBS News Radio's Steven] Portnoy rallying to Acosta’s side when the White House yanked his credentials."
By contrast, Houck cheered when the moderator, a former Republican congressman, said that while he “decried the notion of the enemy of the people or the fake news and yet, a very distinguished, former supporter of mine — a Republican really chastised me afterward and said you must know that there is an unmitigated kind of bias against Donald Trump and that a lot of what he says is true."
Houck was also in a journalist-mocking mood the day before as well, sneering at another part of the same panel at the same broadcasters convention (and being much less charitable to that GOP ex-congressman for committing the crime of saying something nice about journalists):
The 2019 National Association of Broadcasting convention wrapped on Thursday and, back on Monday, NAB CEO (and former Republican Senator) Gordon Smith waxed poetic love notes to four prominent White House correspondents on-stage as “heroes and icons” to “this younger generation” as the supposedly dastardly Trump administration has made journalism cool again.
And, to make matters sappier, the panelists hailed the journalism done by major newspapers pushing the Trump-Russian probe and collusion hunt as “nothing short of extraordinary journalism” and thus a topic that the press shouldn’t “beat ourselves up” on (even though, yes, they got A LOT wrong).
Amusing how journalism awoke on Inauguration Day 2017 from an eight year slumber, huh?
Illustrating the media’s love of self, Vega replied by swooning that “in my lifetime, there has never been a better time to be a journalist” because of the “Watergate-level” content being churned out.
After listening to any portion of this hour-long event, it’s difficult to come away without the conclusion that there’s no profession that loves itself more and sees itself as the glue holding America together than the journalism profession rather than the Constitution or her people.
Houck isn't offering "media research" -- he's pushing unvarnished, ideologically driven hate and contempt.
Newsmax's Kerik Defends Saudi Arabia in Bezos Controversy Topic: Newsmax
Bernard Kerik has become a reliable right-wing ranter for Newsmax, while hoping that people forget he's a convicted felon (whom Newsmax spent some time doing a little image rehab). Now he's rushing to defend Saudi Arabia regarding its alleged role in a scandal involving Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos.
Kerik began his April 18 column by declaring, "I’m normally not interested in tabloid gossip, or someone’s personal affairs, but the recent scandal involving Jeff Bezos, the Amazon chief executive and the National Enquirer, reeks of another political attack on President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia by the establishment media." He then declared that "Having lived and worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and as someone that was critical of the Kingdom after the killing of [Jamal] Khashoggi, I feel I’m fairly insightful and objective on the Bezos matter." Kerik then claimed:
This is why I find the mind-blowing international espionage conspiracy involving the Trump administration, Saudi Arabia, and the National Enquirer, laid out by Bezos’ long-time private investigator, Gavin de Becker, preposterous and a bit comical.
According to de Becker, the “Saudi government has been intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of (Jamal) Khashoggi’s murder.”
He said, “Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone, and gained private information.”
Who exactly are these experts?
Consider that numerous reports indicate that digital forensic analysis turned up “no evidence of a hack” and that theory was quickly discounted.
Meanwhile, the Trump-Saudi-Enquirer narrative set off a media firestorm making Bezos the victim of an international conspiracy.
Kerik is apparently referring to a Daily Beast article from January that quoted "three people familiar with the probe" in which the "no evidence of a hack" claim was made (not by "numerous reports," as Kerik claims). Since then, de Becker wrote in a March Daily Beast column that "the Saudis had access to Bezos' phone" -- which does not necessarily involve hacking.
De Becker also pointed out, where Kerik did not, that the National Enqurier's proposed blackmail contract with Bezos demanded that de Becker agree with the statement that the Enquirer had not relied on "any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their news-gathering process," even though the possibility of hacking had never been discussed publicly. De Becker also found it curious that the Enquirer -- which normally protects the sources of its salacious information -- quickly made public its claim that Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, with whom Bezos was having an affair, was the source of the compromising photos and texts it was trying to blackmail Bezos over. Further, de Becker noted, the Saudi surveillance effort that led to the death of Khashoggi included hacking.
Kerik then complained:
Why, then, is Bezos pushing this baseless Saudi theory?
One reason is he may want to turn the public focus away from embarrassing marital issues and put the spotlight on the Saudis, who The Washington Post has sought to paint as the ultimate bad guy. (No matter that the Saudis have been America’s longtime allies since World War II.)
Given that Bezos himself wrote an article revealing those "embarrassing marital issues" and the blackmail attempt involving them, it seems clear that Bezos is beyond embarrassment on the issue.
Kerik then tried to frame the Bezos controversy as a possible "hoax":
So herein lies the problem for de Becker and Bezos, and what makes this case so complex for prosecutors reviewing the matter in the Southern District of New York.
If it is established that Bezos’s people conspired to create a Trump-Saudi-Enquirer hoax, it could be quite problematic if the prosecutors believe they were misled and provided a false narrative.
For their part, The Enquirer and its top brass have been raked over the coals for what Bezos characterized as blackmail and extortion. The SDNY will have plenty of questions about that too.
But before the public or the Southern District buys into claims of a Saudi connection, Bezos team must “put up or shut up” — provide hard evidence that proves their allegations and justifies a federal inquiry.
Kerik offered no evidence that a "hoax" is in play, and surely he knows that no detailed evidence will be made public until the SDNY makes a decision on prosecuting the case.
Farah's Wife Picks Up The WND Fundraising Baton Topic: WorldNetDaily
We haven't heard much from WorldNetDaily on the existential-issues front -- and almost nothing beyond rote pleas for money since editor Joseph Farah became incapacitated by a stroke. But on April 24, Farah's wife, Elizabeth -- who is also the WND's chief operating officer -- sent out an email that added a few details about Farah's stroke on top of the usual fundraising plea:
This is Elizabeth Farah, Joseph's wife.
You don't hear from me much as Joseph traditionally speaks for the two of us . . . but today he cannot.
Several weeks ago, Joseph suffered a serious stroke. He was out for his morning walk with our dog, Cooper, and it struck.
Joseph being the strong man that he is, didn't want to tell me at first. I know he was scared, but he didn't want to see that fear in the eyes of his wife.
Once I realized that something was wrong, I rushed him to the hospital and doctors confirmed that Joseph had been hit by a significant stroke that impairs his thoughts.
I thank God that it is treatable and we're in the process of learning and deciding at this point.
But along with my duties as Joseph's wife, I have a duty to our combined passion, and that's WorldNetDaily.
Elizabeth Farah then attached an email message she said her husband had been working on. It's a variation on his usual themes about the "cartel" of Facebook and Google purportedly running WND out of business (and not, you know, WND's long history of fake news and conspiracy theories). At one point he writes that Generation Z readers "could scroll all day and NEVER come across a single article that notes the accomplishments of the Trump Administration and they certainly would not see this string of letters . . . J E S U S," adding that "Facebook and Twitter users are shielded from anything that doesn't fit a liberal narrative, while honest publications that serve truly independent news, are elbowed out of the room."
Perhaps those Generation Z readers should ask Clark Jones or Seth Rich's parents about how "honest" WND is.
Farah then touted the newly created WND News Center, which is "now responsible for the fiercely independent articles that we publish each day." As we've previously noted, WND is following the Daily Caller model of outsourcing labor-intensive reporting to a nonprofit organization that would then give the work to WND for free (which technically offering it to others on the same terms). However, we've seen no evidence that the WND News Center is up and running; as has been the case since jettisoning its reporting staff, most original articles are still unbylined rewrites of news that originally appeared elsewhere.
Elizabeth Farah signed off by begging for money and writing that "I'll do my best to keep you up to date on the operations of the WND News Center" -- never mind that transparency about its operations has never been anything WND has cared about in the past. There still hasn't been a public accounting of the money Joseph Farah raised over the past year or so from readers or where it all went. (The WND News Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, so it has to make its donors public.)
She added, sounding a lot like her husband:
Now that you've read Joseph's email, you can only imagine the stress this had placed on him.
But to make matters worse, following his stroke, one of the members of what Joseph refers to as the "Tower of Babel" (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter), went on the attack and, through the Washington Post, published a hit piece on WND that they thought would put us down for the count.
With your help, it won't.
In fact, WND has not refuted any claim in the devastating Post piece, which made it clear that years of financial mismanagement that -- along with all the fake news and conspiracy theories -- are a lot more responsible for WND's current state of affairs than anything Google and Facebook may have done (and that Farah's stroke wasn't publicly disclosed until after the Post contacted WND for comment on the article's allegations).
In other words, things are still pretty shaky on the WND front.
MRC Helped With The Grievance Marketing of 'Unplanned' -- Then Complains When Strategy Is Exposed Topic: Media Research Center
The Washington Post has detailed the grievance-based marketing that has been key to promoting the anti-abortion film "Unplanned" to a right-wing audience -- leveraging things like not getting advance reviews of the film by mainstream outlets (despite not offering the film to mainstream reviewers through the usual channels) and a brief suspension of the film's Twitter account (which even the filmmakers agree was not deliberate) for maximum publicity potential.
The Media Research Center has been a willing parter with the film's makers in exploiting such incidents to claim victimization and promote the film. Here's a few headlines that also tout the film's performance against such alleged discrimination:
So when the Post pointed out this victimization narrative, Graham couldn't help himself and devoted an April 19 post to complaining that it was pointed out. Graham asserted that the Post could have simply bought a ticket to the film to review it, then huffed: "One could argue that a pro-life movie can claim 'victimhood' whether it's ignored or savaged by reviewers. But it remains obvious that a movie in over 1,500 theaters nationwide went unreviewed while smaller art-house films were evaluated."
Of course, no review of the film would have satisfied Graham -- if the Post had reviewed it and given it a negative review, Graham would simply rant that it was a biased review. It's a propaganda film, after all, and the propaganda is more important to Graham than the art that is important to movie reviewers.
Graham also failed to mention that his employer played a key role in amplifying "Unplanned's" grievance-marketing strategy.
Because Graham also can't help himself by beating an idea into the ground, he followed up with an April 29 post complaining that the Post movie reviewer who pointed out that the "Unplanned" failed to follow standard procedure in making the film available to reviewers "loved" a documentary film about "self-identified Satan worshippers." And he huffed: "This is where you can see that the Posties are not opposed to trolling. You just have to find the right targets. They adore the Satanists as progressive pranksters, because they don't believe in an almighty God in any way. Hornaday can't just admire them."
Graham is rather deliberately missing the point. The film about Satanists appears to tell their story in an intereseting, compelling way that doesn't push a predetermined narrative; "Unplanned" is the opposite of that.
Graham is essentially demanding that the Post give the film more free publicity. But hasn't his employer given them enough?
UPDATE: None of these MRC promotional posts mention the fact that the Twitter account for "Unplanned" included in one tweet the abbreviation "WWG1WGA," shorthand for "Where we go one, we go all" -- code for support for the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory. (The producers claimed this was a mistake by an intern.)