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Thursday, December 10, 2020
WND Censors News Of Fox News Settlement Over Seth Rich Conspiracies
Topic: WorldNetDaily

In late November, it was announced that Fox News had settled a lawsuit filed by the family of Seth Rich -- which reportedly involves paying the Rich family a seven-figure settlement -- over a false story it published on its website pushing the conspiracy theory that Rich, a Democratic staffer who was murdered in 2016, was killed because he leaked Democratic emails to WikiLeaks.

Strangely, WorldNetDaily has not reported the settlement to its readers. Why? Perhaps because it narrowly avoided getting sued itself.

As we've documented, WND loved pushing Seth Rich conspiracy theories. Not only did it enlist notorious conspiracy-mongerer Liz Crokin to write stories about Rich, it treated claims from fraudster Jack Burkman seriously, and it leaned into its longtime Clinton hatred to suggest the Clintons may have been involved in Rich's death. We've also documented that WND knew or should have known at the time it was pushing those conspiracy theories that they were false, since Jerome Corsi knew so at a time when he was still employed by WND in 2016 (something WND also hasn't admitted to its readers).

WND even created a GoFundMe page to purportedly fund reporting to "help crack" Rich's murder, cynically and falsely suggesting that the Rich family supported it; the campaign raised less than $5,000 and nobody has donated to it in more than two years. (The fact that WND fired all its reporters as it sank into financial insolvency might also be an issue in doing any sort of reporting on that or anything else.)

While WND has largely stayed away from spreading Seth Rich over the past couple of years, neither has it told readers the conspiracy theories are frauds. WND columnist Jack Cashilll didn't get that message, though, pushing those conspiracy theories anew in a column appropriately published on April 1.

WND largely staying away from this story also means that it hasn't apologized to its readers for treating lies as truth. Until it can start to behave honestly, there's no reason to believe it has learned any lessons from its ongoing death spiral, and therefore hasn't demonstrated that it deserves to live.


Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 PM EST
NEW ARTICLE: CNS' 2020 Election Bias, Part 2
Topic: CNSNews.com
More bias in action: Not only did CNSNews.com uncritically promote Trump's election fraud conspiracy theories, its editor whined that Joe Biden's victory speech interrupted his football game. Read more >>

Posted by Terry K. at 9:00 AM EST
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
The MRC's Year Of Heathering The Lincoln Project For Criticizing Trump
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center Heathered a lot of conservartives this year for committing the offense of criticizing Donald Trump or being less than totally subservient to him. But its biggest Heathering target by far was the Lincoln Project. a group of conservatives appalled by Trump who worked to defeat him in 2020.

From the start, the MRC labored to deny the conservative backgrounds of the project's founders. The Heathering began in December 2019, when Tim Graham pedantically complained that a New York Times op-ed by the project's leaders, headlined "quot;We Are Republicans, And We Want Trump Defeated," was inaccurate because three of the four signatories "ceremoniously left the Republican fold over Trump." In January, Bill D'Agostino whined that the project wasn't a "conservative group," just "a PAC created by frequent CNN guest George Conway, and populated by formerly Republican never-Trumpers like Rick Wilson and Steve Schmidt. A few days later, Joseph Vazquez put "Republican political strategist" in scare quotes when describing Wilson.

In May, Curtis Houck listed the Lincoln Project among "grifting organizations," while Mark Finkelstein sneered that it was nothing more than "an assemblage of "Republican" Trump haters including George Conway, Steve Schmidt, and Rick Wilson. Joseph Vazquez complained that an heiress to the Walmart fortune donated money to the group after it made "a disgusting anti-Trump coronavirus ad," going on to huff further about "The Lincoln Project’s anti-Trump-obsessed cause."

Gabriel Hays tried to deny the conservative pedigree of the project's supporters again an a whiny rant: "Ah yes, catering to the people who hate every lofty norm and principle you pride yourself on holding over the president just so you can revel in a collective “F Trump!” That’s called being a principled conservative right there. ... Steve Schmidt slanders conservatives on MSNBC daily, and we all know how cuckoo Mr. Conway is. Just imagine handing your country over to the pro-infanticide, pro-gun control, and God-hating left and then smiling at your 'prominent Republican' self in the mirror. If Trump is destroying America, then what the hell are you doing?"

In July, Brad Wilmouth huffed that one TV host wasn't "accurately describing the Lincoln Project as a group of disaffected former Republicans who are anti-Trump," and P.J. Gladnick cheered that Wilson was attacked as a "grifter" by, of all people, Stephen Colbert's parody cartoon news show.The attacks cranked up in another post by Vazquez, retaliating for a "gross anti-Trump ad" on Trump and Russia by highlilghting a right-wing media story on the project leaders' "own checkered dealings with Russia and the tax man." Kyle Drennen smeared another project member as a "grifter."

Nicholas Fondacaro used the "grifter" smear in an August post, so desperate to attack that he bizarrely cheered how "Twitter sleuths exposed how both Wilson and his wife proudly displayed a Confederate-theme cooler on their Instagram pages." Graham whined that "The Democratic rag known as The Washington Post gushed all over the Biden-endorsing Never Trumpers at the Lincoln Project on the front of Monday's Style section," going on to yet again deny the group's conservative bona fides: "The piece is salted with quotes from 'conservatives' and 'lifelong Republicans' who are campaigning for a President Biden. Are these really 'Republicans' any more? Are they bringing 'conservatives and progressives' together? No, they're not."

Randy Hall seemed pleased that "The Trump-hating ex-Republicans at the Lincoln Project posted a tweet that was so blatantly inaccurate, even Trump-bashing reporters ruled they were wrong on Twitter" -- not that the MRC holds its fellow pro-Trump conservatives, or even itself, to that same level of scrutiny. Alex Christy feigned outrage over Wilson's "deranged" statement that Trump was "narrowcast to white non-college voters with all the scare tactics that are involved in that, all the crazy, you know the, Antifa-anarchist-communists are coming to get you gay Sharia married," further complaining that Wilson "likes to portray himself as a conservative defending conservatism and the republic from President Trump, but he clearly just hates many of his fellow Americans." For Duncan Schroeder, the Lincoln Project became that which must not be named in a September post, describing Wilson only as a "former Republican strategist."

As the election neared, Finkelstein returned to complain that MSNBC "aired a kooky Lincoln Project commercial (gratis?) that explicitly compared Biden to Abraham Lincoln, and compared Trump's supposed refusal to concede power to.... a Lincoln assassination plot?" The ad noted that if Trump lost re-election, "we may face a crisis of similar proportion" to the 1861 assassination attempt on Lincoln prior to his taking office: "an outlaw president defying the will of the people" -- which is exactly what has happened. Finkelstein then did some electioneering which we didn't think was permitted under the MRC's nonprofit tax status: "To the contrary, remember the Buckley Rule: support the most conservative candidate who is electable. When it comes to who is more conservative between President Trump, and a Joe Biden who has bragged that he'd be the most "progressive" president ever. And don't even get us started on president-in-waiting Kamala Harris, the most liberal member of the Senate!"

The MRC's attacks met with so little effect that Jorge Bonilla was reduced to attacking an assistant to the president of the news division at Univsion for retweeting Lincoln Project donation appeals. And on Oct. 8, Vazquez huffed, "The insufferable NeverTrump Lincoln Project, known for its disgusting attack ads against President Donald Trump is set to become a media business." After the Lincoln Project tweeted out the names, photos and email addresses of attorneys who were working to help promote Trump's dubious election fraud claims, Alexander Hall celebrated how "Twitter finally took down a post from The Lincoln Project and reportedly restricted the organization’s account." Weirdly, Hall never claimed the project was being "censored," like he does when Twitter cracks down on Trump and other right-wingers who violate Twitter terms of service.

Finally, Vazquez used a Nov. 16 post to declare that "The hate-filled Lincoln Project failed to make any real impact on the election" -- except, um, for the primary goal of defeating Trump. Vazquez invoked right-wing media critic Joe Concha to redefine failure, under the headline "The Hill’s Joe Concha WRECKS Failed NeverTrump Lincoln Project."

That's some epic, extended Heathering there, guys.


Posted by Terry K. at 9:50 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, December 10, 2020 9:11 AM EST
CNS Is Still Censoring Pro-Trump Columnist's Ties to Trump
Topic: CNSNews.com

Earlier this year, we documented how CNSNews.com published pro-Trump columns by Ken Blackwell while largely censoring the fact that he was an adviser to, and surrogate for, President Trump's re-election campaign. That lack of disclosure never really stopped as the election drew near.

In an Aug. 10 column, Blackwell gushed that "Everything changed with the election of Donald J. Trump, who has kept his promise to rebuild American manufacturing as part of his plan to Make America Great Again," adding, "The record is crystal clear — no other president has done more to strengthen Ohio manufacturers than Donald Trump. The future of our state is brighter than ever before." The end-of=column bio stated: "Ken Blackwell served as the mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Ohio State Treasurer, and Ohio Secretary of State. He currently serves on the board of directors for Club for Growth and National Taxpayers Union.." No mention of Blackwell's role as a Trump surrogate and adviser."

A Sept. 15 column carried the headline "Trump's Labor Department Seeks to Remove Potential for Left-Wing Abuses of Pensions." The bio stated that Blackwell "served as Treasurer of State of Ohio and as a member of the U.S. Department of Labor Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans. He is a trustee of the Institute for Pension Fund Integrity."

An Oct. 7 column contained advice for Vice President Mike Pence in an upcoming debate with Kamala Harris and insisted of Trump's nonexistent health care plan : "Coverage of pre-existing conditions will not be an issue if Trump is re-elected. The president has made it clear that all pre-existing conditions will be covered under his plan." The bio described Blackwell only as "the former treasurer of the State of Ohio."

In an Oct. 9 column, Blackwell demanded that Joe Biden answer the single most important question in this election: Whether Biden would pack the Supreme Court with additional seats, forever transforming our Constitution’s three-branch form of government into a two-branch system." The bio described Blackwell as "a Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council."

Blackwell followed up on Oct. 13 by ranting that "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are redefining the words “court packing” in a manner worthy of George Orwell’s "1984," ironically previewing how a packed (i.e., expanded) Supreme Court would redefine the Constitution’s words, abolishing our democratic republic as it has existed for more than 200 years." He was described only as "a distinguished fellow with The American Constitutional Rights Union." and "advisor to the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C."

In a Nov. 10 column, Blackwell cheered Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for "implementing the president’s healthcare agenda and improving the way health-insurance companies operate by requiring more price transparency," adding, "Who said President Donald Trump didn't have a health plan?" That one identified him as "a Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, at the Family Research Council" and "a member of the board directors of the Club For Growth."

On Nov. 23, Blackwell went all-in on Trump's election fraud conspiracy theory: "The 2020 election was stolen because leftists were able to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to weaken, alter, and eliminate laws that were put in place over the course of decades to preserve the integrity of the ballot box. But just as importantly, it was stolen because those same leftists had a thoroughly-crafted plan, and because they were rigorous in its implementation and ruthless in its execution." The end-of-column blurb was a potpourri of his previous posts -- "former Secretary of State of Ohio," "Distinguished Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, at the Family Research Council," " United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission from 1990-1993" -- but no mention of his Trump advisory job.

Blackwell's rant is highly ironic since, as Right Wing Watch noted, he was accused of overseeing voting irregularities during his stint as Ohio secretary of state that allegedly gave the state to George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

There were only two mentions of Blackwell's ties to Trump in an end-of-column blurb. The first came in an Aug. 19 column claiming that "President Donald Trump has an opportunity to secure his legacy with regard to Iran. It is an opportunity to put the U.S. on the moral high ground, encourage millions of Iranians who have been suffering under the ayatollahs’ yoke, and send a shiver down the spine of the tyrants ruling Iran," which did identify him as "on the Advisory Board of Trump-Pence 2020." The second came in a column defending Trump's attempt to overturn the election results under ludicrous headline "Gov. Wolf And His Legion of Darkness Must Be Stopped in Pennsylvania"; that one also identified Blackwell as "a member of the Board of Advisors of the Trump-Pence 2020 Campaign." Also, Blackwell did state in a Nov. 3 column defending the Electoral College that "President Trump’s bipartisan Election Integrity Commission, which I served on from 2017-2018, concluded that a tyranny of the majority or extant voter fraud has yet to manage to swing a presidential election."

CNS' continued failure to consistently identify Blackwell's conflict of interest is another bit of journalistic malpractice from the Media Research Center's "news" division -- and highly ironic given the MRC's eagerness to call out non-right-wing news sources that do something similar.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:10 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2020 6:22 PM EST
WND's Medical Misinformer Asked To Testify Before Congress
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Jane Orient -- the head of the fringe-right Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and longtime medical misinformer -- was invited to testify before the Republican-controlled Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday. To remind us of why this was a bad idea, we need only look to Orient's Nov. 17 WorldNetDaily column, in which she fearmongers about coronavirus vaccines in development:

How safe will you be if you get the Moderna "95% effective" vaccine?

Pfizer and Moderna have announced impressive-sounding effectiveness figures for their revolutionary vaccines. These mRNA vaccines, instead of injecting a weakened virus, use a genetically engineered messenger RNA that turns your own cells into vaccine factories. You make viral spike proteins, then your immune system makes antibodies to this foreign protein. The idea is that the antibodies will attach to the virus so it can't enter your cells. Or that your killer T-cells will recognize the spikey virus and destroy it.

Ingenious – but novel and minimally tested.

[...]

Things we don't know:

  • Will my vaccine protect you? There is no evidence that the vaccine prevents infection or transmission. If it just reduces or eliminates symptoms, the vaccinated person is more likely to be out interacting with people instead of being home in bed.
  • Will there be late or rare side effects? We won't know until months or years after millions of doses have been given.
  • How will it affect fertility, or the health of offspring? It is too soon to say. Remember that genetically modified foreign genetic material is being incorporated into your cells. Should old people and men get it first?
  • Might antibody-dependent enhancement of disease be a problem? This is always a concern in vaccine development and is unpredictable.
  • How long will protection last? Is it more or less robust than natural immunity? Again, it is too early to say.

Orient then attached a graphic claiming to show that "COVID-19 (striped circle in the foreground) is relatively insignificant in the history of plagues. The only one in which vaccination played a significant role was smallpox." Actually, the graphic is a very old one -- dating from as early as March -- listing only 4,700 deaths from COVID-19; the updated version (which Orient didn't use, since it blows up per argument) accurately depicts the current death count of 1.46 million, making it much more significant than Orient wants you to believe.

Needless to say, Orient has a long history of pushing coronavirus misinformation, including embrace of shady, bogus studies that purport to claim that hydroxychloroqine works as a treatment for coronavirus. Also, despite her protestations to the contrary, she is very much an anti-vaxxer.

So, yeah, pretty much what you'd expect to happen in the waning days of the Trump administraiton.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:17 AM EST
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
MRC Tires To Manufacture Outrage At PBS Anchor For Criticizing Trump
Topic: Media Research Center

When CNN host Christiane Amanpour commented on her PBS interview show that President Trump's "assault" on American values by petulantly refusing to admit he lost re-election and dragging the country through baseless and fruitless legal assaults on the election results to Kristallnacht, the Media Research Center saw an attempt to manufacture outrage and try to engage in some cancel culture. Tim Graham cranked up the outrage machine in a Nov. 13 post:

It's bad enough that CNN International anchor Christiane Amanpour viciously tried on Thursday night to compare President Trump not conceding the election to Kristallnachtand the eventual Nazi genocide of the Jews. It's worse that this mudslinging was replayed on taxpayer-funded PBS, where "viewers like us" -- and some super-wealthy Jewish donors, including Bernard Schwartz, who was a massive Democrat donor in the 1990s -- were announced as her sponsors. 

[...]

Now let's poll the American people and ask them how many of them believe that asking for a recount and the Holocaust and comparable historical events.

Displaying his cancel-culture intent, Graham added a link to the PBS ombudsmand and added, "PS: Mark Levin tweeted that Amanpour should be fired."

It goes without saying that no apology Amanpour might offer would ever be enough for Graham and the MRC. Amanpour did offer an apology a few days later, and predictably, the MRC deemed it insufficient. Under a "DEFUND PBS" headline -- one of the MRC's other manufactured-outrage obessions -- Curtis Houck raged:

Four days after comparing President Trump refusing to concede the election to Hitler and the Holocaust, CNN International and PBS host Christiane Amanpour offered a mealy-mouthed non-apology on Monday’s show, telling viewers that she “shouldn’t have juxtaposed the two thoughts” and that she “regret[s] any pain that my statement may have caused.”

And that, dear American readers, is what your tax dollars are going to support. Talk about a lack of a return on investment.

[...]

So much for decency, norms, and yes, #FactsFirst. Let this be a lesson to CNN staff that, no matter how vicious the rhetoric, you shouldn’t have to worry about facing punishment.

Houck further ranted that Amanpour's show was a "liberal snoozefest" and that she offered a "faux mea culpa." And as for not facing punishment for offenses, Houck needs to only look in the MRC headquarters at fellow researcher Nicholas Fondacaro, who we've caught spreading numerous lies yet still remains employed there. Try walking that talk once in a while, Curt (and Tim).


Posted by Terry K. at 9:28 PM EST
Trump Didn't 'Smash The Left,' Though Newsmax Gave Horowitz's Book One Last Spin
Topic: Newsmax

Throughout 2020, Newsmax has heavily promoted a book it published through its Humanix division by right-wing activist David Horowitz, called "Blitz: Trump Will Smash the Left And Win" (while not telling readers that it published the book). But as one reviewer noted, the book didn't actually predict Trump would win re-election, but mostly attacks Democrats.

Well, the election showed that Trump didn't "smash the left" -- he lost (his claims to the contrary notwithstanding). Two days arter the election, Newsmax sent out an email promotion for the book purportedly written by Horowitz. Not only did it lop off the book's subtitle (since that turned out to be disproven by the election results), it's mostly a rant against Fox News for 1) calling Arizona for Trump, and 2) failing to have him on to promote "Blitz," and 3) give an early endorsement of Trump's still-unproven claims the election was stolen from him (overenthusiastic bolding in original):

Fox News, again, refused to call Florida for most of the night . . .

Despite the fact it was clearly won by Trump and other networks like Newsmax and CNN had called Florida for Trump!

Meanwhile, with just 14% of the ballots counted in Arizona, and people still waiting in line in some places to vote, Fox
called Arizona for Biden.

Clearly, Fox has gone AWOL.

The first warning sign apparent to me was BLITZ.

In past years, I was always on Fox. Every book I did was touted by Fox — EXCEPT BLITZ.

Why?

BLITZ exposed George Soros and the billionaires out to stop Trump.

I named names.

It was clear to me Fox wanted to stop Trump.

They even “confirmed” phony claims Trump called our troops “suckers and losers” — and every step of the way tried to belittle him.

Despite Fox’s ban on me and BLITZ, it’s been 10 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list . . .  #1 on Amazon.

[...]

Whether or not the big media and the Democrats in states like Pennsylvania allow a fair vote and Donald Trump becomes president again, you still need to get BLITZ.

It exposes the whole fraud of the left, the media, and the Washington swamp insiders.

These will be the people President Trump will have to fight — or the same people who will back up “President Biden” — God forbid!

Folks, I can’t tell you how shocked I am that this election is being stolen from President Trump.

Except, of course, it is not, as the continued lack of substantiated evidence continues to show. It's worth noting, however, that this is the last email promotion of the book Newsmax sent out, meaning that it's effectively dead.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:26 PM EST
CNS Still Uncritically Pushing Trump's Bogus Election Fraud Claims
Topic: CNSNews.com

Susan Jones is not the only CNSNews.com writer who has been continuing to entertain President Trump's baseless claims of election fraud with barely a criticism.

Managing editor Michael W. Chapman used a Nov. 18 article to tout a poll claiming that "66% of Republicans believe that the Trump-Biden presidential race was 'not' a 'free and fair election.' In addition, 72% of all registered voters who thought the race was unfair think 'mail-in voting led to widespread vote fraud.'" Chapman did not mention the utter lack of evidence to support claims of "widespread vote fraud."

The next day, Melanie Arter claimed that "Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who is part of the legal team investigating allegations of voter fraud," had "laid out what she called 'the most unpatriotic acts I can even imagine' involving the Dominion voting system." In grand Arter tradition, it's all stenography, no fact-checking. On Nov. 20, Craig Bannister similarly regurgitated an anti-media rant from Trump attorney Jenna Ellis "regarding the campaign’s election integrity lawsuits."

An anonymously written Nov. 18 article, meanwhile, was pure stenography: "Tom Fitton, president of the government watchdog group Judicial Watch, said in a statement that 'Joe Biden is not "president-elect"' despite what the liberal media claim, and they do not have the constitutional authority to declare the winner of a presidential election. ... On Election Day, President Trump had the votes to win the presidency. These vote totals were changed because of unprecedented and extraordinary counting after Election Day."

On Nov. 23, Chapman reported that "President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said that lawyer Sidney Powell is "not part of the Trump Legal Team," and is "not a lawyer for the president" -- never mind that his reporter definitively described Powell as a part of the Trump legal team just four days earlier. He didn't mention that, nor did he explain exactly why the Trump campaign distanced itself from Powell: increasingly unhinged claims of election fraud. Instead, Chapman repeated "conservative talk-radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin" dubiously vouching for Powell.

Jones returned on Nov. 30 to eagerly report how Trump "expressed frustration on Sunday with the FBI and the Justice Department for apparently failing to investigate voter fraud and for failing to bring charges against former officials of those agencies." Like her colleagues, she censored the fact that no claims by the Trump campaign have held up in court thus far.

On Dec. 1, Arter reported how Attorney General William Barr said he had seen no evidence of widespread voting fraud; the next day, Bannister gave a platform to Trump-adjacent attorney L. Lin Wood to respond to Barr. Bannister was silent on the controversy involving Wood in Georgia in which he told voters not to take part in the Senate runoff that will determine control of the Senate. Arter also gave space to a rant on Fox News from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that "Democrats have been trying to undermine the U.S. election system for years by allowing illegals on the voting rolls and fighting against signature matching."

However, there finally -- finally -- appeared to be evidence on the part of CNS to tell both sides of the story. A Dec. 1 article by Jones noted Republican state officials in Georgia defending the integrity of the election there and criticizing "the amount of misinformation that continues to flow"over the election. Of course, Jones won't admit that she and CNS are responsible for amplifying such misinformation. On Dec. 3, Jones quoted Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham urging Georgia voters to vote in the Senate runoff despite what Powell and Wood had said. And on Dec. 7, Jones quoted another Georgia state official, a Republican, pointing out that any vote fraud uncovered in the state so far is minor and won't affect the election result.

In between, however, Jones did a total stenography job on the "46-minute videotaped message he posted directly to Facebook, bypassing the hostile White House press corps," in which he made numerous unsupported claims of election fraud. She framed those pointing out Trump's falsehoods not as speaking truth but, rather, coming from "the partisan Democrat media":

Notably, the speech was not well-received by the partisan Democrat media. Trump predicted this, saying, " Even what I'm saying now will be demeaned and disparaged, but that's OK. I just keep on going forward because I'm representing 74 million people and in fact, I'm also representing all of the people that didn't vote for me."

Indeed, CNN refused to play any of Trump's speech, calling it "lies" and "propaganda." And here are the Thursday morning headlines from two major newspapers:

"Trump, in White House Video, Delivers Falsehood-Filled Diatribe" (New York Times online edition); "Trump escalates baseless attacks on election with a 46-minute video rant" (Washington Post online edition).

Jones did not explain why the media's judgment could not be trusted, nor did she link to any fact-check of Trump. Instead, she transcribed the entirety of Trump's rant -- which, of course, is more CNS' speed as loyal pro-Trump sycophants.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:51 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, December 8, 2020 7:17 PM EST
Monday, December 7, 2020
MRC Whines Again That Trump Is Called Out For Playing Golf
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center likes to play whataboutism on President Trump playing so much golf, since President Obama liked to play golf too. (It also played the baseless everybody-does-it defense against a book documenting how Trump loved to cheat at golf.) Matt Philbin served up another defense in a Nov. 18 post:

Resentment is a powerful emotion. It can choke off reason and poison even moments of triumph. And it plays hell with self-awareness -- just look at the November 18th Washington Post “perspective” piece (oh the irony) by Robin Givhan.

Givhan is the Post’s “senior critic-at-large writing about politics, race and the arts.” (If race is an official part of your portfolio, resentment is a core competency.) And President Trump really, really irks her. Specifically, at the moment, she’s bothered by his golf game. 

Since the election, Trump has spent too much time golfing and not enough time conceding for Givhan’s taste. Photos of the president at his Virginia golf club annoy her. “Trump is the unmasked duffer clutching the wheel of a golf cart, zipping over knolls while his caddie — also unmasked — hangs off the back.” 

Sure, remarking on POTUS not wearing a mask in a situation where nobody wears one is petty and “Karenish.” But Givhan wants us to know her resentment is more profound. She objects to Trump’s display of (altogether now!) “white male privilege.”

[...]

What makes this particularly rich is that Givhan includes a typically self-regarding Instagram post from Michelle Obama congratulating herself for being civil to Melania Trump during the 2016 transition. Where could Michelle’s husband like as not be found during his White House tenure? The golf course. Barry played 333 times as president. Which kind of privilege was he displaying?

If we're going to play that numbers game, it's only fair to note that, as of the end of November, Trump played golf 302 times since taking office -- and that's over less four years, compared with Obama's eight years in office.

Of course, Philbin will never defend Obama's golf-playing the way he does Trump's -- even to make a point about civil rights.

Philbin also complained; "Givhan also acknowledges those notably graceful losers Hillary Clinton and Stacy Abrams -- you know, the one who still maintains she’s governor of Georgia." In fact, Abrams does not "maintain" that; in her semi-concession speech in 2018, Abrams said "I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election." 


Posted by Terry K. at 9:39 PM EST
Updated: Monday, December 7, 2020 9:43 PM EST
CNS Remains Hypocritically Obsessed With Logan Act
Topic: CNSNews.com

Last year, we documented how CNSNews.com promoted accusations from President Trump that former Secretary of State John Kerry violated the Logan Act -- a law that prohibits unauthorized American citizens for negotiating with foreign governments, under which nobody has ever been successfully prosecuted -- for communicating with the Iranian government, but pooh-poohing the Logan Act when ever-so-brief national security adviser Michael Flynn was accused of violating it in his communications with Russia before President Trump took office in 2017. That hypocrisy has continued.

A May 2019 article by Patrick Goodenough amplified Trump's assertion that Kerry violated the Logan Act and quoting current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that he would "leave to the Department of Justice to make decisions about prosecutions." In a Feb. 18 article, Goodenough repeated that Kerry "met privately with the Iranian foreign minister on several occasions after he left office, prompting Trump to charge, more than once, that Kerry had violated the Logan Act." Goodenough even included a screenshot of the act, though he did note that "no-one has been convicted for violating the act."

The next day, Goodenough declared again that "President Trump on Wednesday accused Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) – and former Secretary of State John Kerry – of violating a two century-old law by holding meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif," including once again a full description of the act, while also admitting that "Only two individuals have ever been charged under the act, both in the 19th century, and neither was convicted."

But when the discussion returned to Flynn, the Logan Act was portrayed as something sinister. Susan Jones wrote in an April 30 article:

General Michael Flynn's attorney Sidney Powell late Wednesday released handwritten notes, reportedly authored by then-FBI Counter-intelligence Director Bill Priestap, that show "abuse of...authority at every turn," as Flynn's attorney put it.

The note reads in part:

"What's our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ & have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] & he admits it, document for DOJ, & let them decide how to address it."

Jones repeated the quote in two other articles that day,  portraying the alleged attempt to get Flynn to admit violating the Logan Act as "entrapment."

On May 8, Melanie Arter uncritically quoted White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany ranting about this: "Having found no evidence of Russian collusion, the FBI came up with a new, absurd theory that Flynn might have violated the Logan Act, a statute from 1799 that, in its 200 years of existence, had never been used to convict an American citizen, but it was resurrected in the case of lieutenant general Michael Flynn. Michael Flynn didn't violate the Logan Act." Jones returned on May 13 to quote Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham complaining that the Logan Act was discussed regarding Flynn.

Jones complained the next day that "Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported that Flynn had called Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak “several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking.” Ignatius mused on whether Flynn had violated the 'spirit' of the Logan Act." She went on to quote Republican Sen. Mike Lee declaring that "you've got what appears potentially to have been an effort by one administration to interfere with the next legitimately elected administration's ability to conduct foreign policy by threatening or at least investigating with an attempt perhaps to threaten -- a violation of the Logan Act of all things. This is simply stunning."

On May 14, Jones huffed that "Someone leaked Flynn's unmasked name to the Washington Post's David Ignatius, who published a column on Jan. 12, 2017, disclosing Flynn's conversation and musing about whether Flynn had violated the obscure Logan Act."

On June 3, Arter transcribed a hypocritical rant by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz: "[T]he predicate for all of this is the Logan Act, which you know perfectly well is an unconstitutional law that no one has ever been prosecuted under in the history of the Department of Justice and should have been laughed out of the room. n any responsible Department of Justice if someone had suggested we’re going to go after the incoming national security advisor for violating the Logan Act, which says an American citizen can't talk to a foreign leader, I guarantee you today, right now John Kerry is violating the Logan Act. Now fortunately, It's an unconstitutional law, so who cares?" Jones transcribed a similar Cruz rant he made on Fox News.

In an Aug. 6 article, Jones went after testimony from former deputy attorney general Susan Yates regarding Flynn and the Logan Act and Graham's response:

Yates told the committee she has a "vague memory" of FBI Director Comey mentioning the Logan Act at the Jan. 5 meeting. The Logan Act, passed in 1799, forbids private citizens from engaging in unauthorized communication with foreign governments.

Graham told Yates he doesn't understand why the Logan Act came up at the meeting:

"You had one administration leaving in two weeks and you had a new administration coming in, urging them, don't escalate. To anyone who thinks that is a violation of the Logan Act, that is stunning as hell -- you cannot hit the ground running."

Jones continued to flog this in an exceedingly lengthy Nov. 13 article:

Democrat Joe Biden is taking calls from various foreign leaders as he prepares to become president.

But no one is suggesting that he may be violating the Logan Act, an archaic federal law that bars unauthorized American citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.

However, when President Trump’s incoming national security Adviser Michael Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador twice in late December 2016, the Logan Act was raised a short time later at a Jan. 5, 2017 White House meeting attended by President Obama, Vice President Biden, FBI Director James Comey and others.

“The Logan Act was not used as a basis to go after General Flynn,” Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week.

But was it used as a reason to keep the Flynn case open, just as FBI agents were about to close it?

For an "archaic" law that nobody has ever been successfully prosecuted under, Jones is sure obsessed with it.


Posted by Terry K. at 3:18 PM EST
Updated: Monday, December 7, 2020 3:25 PM EST
Elizabeth Farah's Post-Election Prayer Session: Trump Appointed By God, Everyone Else Is Evil
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Elizabeth Farah, as we've documented, has been using video interviews and rants posted on YouTube to put President Trump firmly on the side of God (despite being a profoundly amoral and dishonest man) and Joe Biden and anyone who votes for him on the side of evil. Since the election, Farah has livestreamed several events in which she claimed to be praying for America and the president (that is to say, Trump).

The first session on Nov. 4, the day after the election, was an eight-hour-long (!) effort that, according to Farah, began as an impromptu effort. As usual, she framed things in apocolyptic terms, declaring that America "deserves judgment" from God, allegedly because of support for abortion, and that it should be "deferred." In a lengthy "prayer" against abortion, Farah prayed for "repentence to come upon to all those who would equate, who would have the gall -- the gall to equate the lives, the murder of 61 million babies to a path that is carved by a man or men who are rude or who are boastful." Farah and WND have long argued that Trump's amorality don't matter because he delivers the right-wing goods. Farah then ranted:

God, four years ago, gave us a path to return to godly government. Not through a perfect man, not through a man who was without sin. And you,pastor, and you, teacher, who presume to condemn and to judge the heart of a man that you do not know, who has been under attack for five solid years by the most vicious, un godly onslaught of evil and unconstitutional, unlawful deeds and actions and just abominable, abominable behavior. This man, who you find less than worthy, is now facing a potential failure at the ballot box. And do you know who's responsible? It is the ecclesia. The eccdesia, the visible church, that decades and decades ago brought condemnation upon this land by packing up and going home in the pietistic concerns of, well, we wash our hands of the ugliness of politics. It's not politics, it's godly goverment we should be fighting for.

This is not about partisanship, but if one party has 90 percent of a platform or intention that is godly and good and holy and righteous, and the other party has 99 percent evil, wickedness, a glorifying, a uplifting, an elevation of wickedness -- if 99 percent of what they say is utterly wicked, and you can't live with a party or a man who is a sinner just like you?

And that's just in the first 15 minutes. Around 25 minutes in, Farah claimed without evidence that "we've seen incredible growth" in Trump while he's been in office, adding that "if you're a Calvinist, then you know that Donald J. Trump was put into office for a purpose, and by God in his soverign will." She included "his kids are too beautiful" as a reason someone might oppose Trump, then declared:

He's the most pro-life president in the United States, he put Israel firmly in our protection. He put the thing [the U.S. embassy] we call Jerusalem the capital of Israel, he comes to --  the first president to come to the national pro-life march. I mean, this a man who's done things that are unthinkable to the establishment, to the swamp. And, no, I'm not going to partisan politics. This is not ugly politics. Remember Romans 13, remember Hosea, remember all through the Scriptures: goverment is God's domain. Government! God forgive the evangelical mind and the Catholic mind and the establishment middle-of-the-road compromised, weak Christian mind. Forgive us all for equating being engaged with government and attemping to make it godly in your will, Lord. Forgive them who have said that this is mere electoral, partisan politics. God, forgive them. God, cause them to repent and to open their eyes and see what they are a part of.

There is going to be much repentence after this election. And I don't care -- if President Donald J. Trump wins, there will need to be repentence from that pulpit and from those who are typing online and that are writing their glorious, sanctimonius, pietistic analysis or judgments upon this president, what God did by putting him in. There will be repentence. There is so much judgment coming down on this country.

As usual, for all the talk of judgment and repentence from Farah, we saw no sign of repentence from for all the lies and deception WND -- for which Farah has been chief operating officer since she and her husband, Joseph, created it in 1997 -- has published over the years, including but not limited to Obama birtherism, Seth Rich conspiracy theories, and its own shady financial shenanigans.

We didn't listen to all eight hours -- we may be dutiful in our analysis, but we're not gluttons for punishment -- but we can safely assume that the first half-hour, with all of Farah's sanctimonious praying and ranting, set the pattern for the rest of the livestream.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:51 AM EST
Sunday, December 6, 2020
MRC's Bozell Keeps Flogging His Election Conspiracy Theories
Topic: Media Research Center

For the past month, the Media Research Center has been pushing a conspiracy theory that the media stole the presidential election from Donald Trump by refushing to adopt the MRC's preferred pro-Trump, anti-Biden bias in its reporting, in part by commissioning polls from biased pollsters including one that was working for Trump's campaign (despite also claiming that pre-election polls showing Joe Biden with a large lead over Trump were deliberately fraudulent). Let's look at a couple more examples of how the MRC pushing these bogus claims.

MRC chief Brent Bozell appeared on the Nov. 10 show of his favorite right-wing radio host, Mark Levin, to peddle the conspiracy. He ludicrously asserted that the dubious story of Hunter Biden's laptop was "a hundred times bigger" than the Watergate scandal and it shouldn't have been ignored by the non-right-wing media. He didn't tell readers that the McLaughlin polling firm whose results he was pushing at the time was also working for Trump's campaign, raising questions about conflicts of interest and polling bias. Nevertheless, Levin laughably asserted that Bozell made "an incredibly compelling case."

Bozell went on to reference the MRC's claims of "monthly negative coverage of the president" --  as we've documented, these MRC studies examine only a tiny sliver of media coverage and falsely extrapolates them into an indictment of all non-right-wing media (whose coverage is exempt from MRC scrutiny). Levin went on to ridiculously claim that Biden was engaging in "tyranny" by accurately describing himself as the president-elect, while Bozell responded that this was "false advertising on his part."

(The "news" organization Bozell leads, CNSNews.com, also dutifully reported on its boss' radio appearance, as well as the original poll the MRC did, which also censored the fact that McLaughlin also worked for Trump.)

In a Dec. 3 video, Bozell showed how much of a Trump dead-ender he is by stating that Trump's fale claims that the election was stolen from him are "very serious" and "something that has to be investigated very seriously." He then rehashed all the above claims, as well as a second poll the MRC bought from The Polling Company pushing similar accusations through asking leading, biased questions; Bozell didn't disclose that The Polling Company was founded by Kellyanne Conway, longtime White House adviser to Trump, and currently owned by a right-wing PR firm that has done millions of dollars in business for the MRC. Bozell went on to rant in an attempt to keep right-wing activism centered around attacking the non-right-wing media, which helps keep the MRC in business:

Here's the point, folks: The news media cost Donald Trump this election. They deliberately -- this was not accidential -- they deliberately chose not to report these stories and we've proven that, how they didn't cover these stories. And now the polling shows that it worked, that Biden voters didn't know about it, and as a result they voted for Biden and had they known, they would have voted for Donald Trump. Folks, make that the biggest part of the conservation for the conservative movement, what to do about this weft-wing press that has become so militant that thye are actually tipping campaigns, presidential campaigns. That's the biggest priority now for the conservative movement.

Bozell's emphasis on how what he and the MRC does should be the "biggest priority" of the conservative movement suggests that this is more a funding ploy to keep his organization viable during the upcoming Biden years -- as Trump, they candidate they steadfastly supported over the past four years, collapses into his own morass of lies and conspiracy theories -- than any sort of serious "media research."

Bozell ended by claiming "what we're going to break next week is going to blow you away." What will Bozell and the MRC be hiding about those claims? Stay tuned.


Posted by Terry K. at 2:24 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, December 6, 2020 2:42 PM EST
How CNS Spun Coronavirus For Trump Before The Election
Topic: CNSNews.com

As the presidential election drew closer in late October, CNSNews.com's Susan Jones -- who has been working for months to spin coronavirus infection and death rates to make President Trump look good -- seriously ramped up that pro-Trump spin by comparing numbers to the initial surge in April.

Jones served up more pro-Trump stenography in an Oct. 22 article headlined "Trump: On Cable News, 'All You Hear Is COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID'." After uncritically transcribing a rant from Trump, she added, "As CNSNews.com reported, the number of COVID cases is accelerating, but with better treatments available, the death count,based on death certificates submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resumed" -- then strangely cut off. Either that was an editing error, or oerhaps Jones herself was getting bored with spinning so hard.

An Oct. 27 "news" article by Jones was even more aggressively serving as a Trump campaign press release:

"The Fake News Media is riding COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election. Losers!" President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday.

But the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionshow that the number of people dying from COVID-19 in the United States dropped approximately 73 percent from its peak in the week that ended April 18 to the week that ended on September 5 (the latest week for which the CDC has relatively complete numbers).

Certainly, many partisan activists holding anchor/reporter jobs at CNN and MSNBC, to name a few liberal outlets, are hyping what they dub a second coronavirus surge.

According to CNN's "New Day" on Tuesday morning: "Twelve states are seeing record hospitalizations. Five states reporting a record increase in new cases. The U.S. is now averaging nearly 70,000 new cases a day."

But liberal media outlets omit the fact that deaths from coronavirus are not rising exponentially -- they're falling. In fact, weekly COVID deaths have never again come close to the record 17,077 deaths recorded in the week ending April 18, which was six months ago.

Deaths from COVID, as recorded by death certificates filed with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been falling since a second peak in the week ending August 1, based on preliminary data.

[...]

Rounding out the top ten for COVID deaths are Texas (17,660); California (16,483); Florida (15,948); New Jersey (14,494); Pennsylvania (8,796); Illinois (8,357); Massachusetts (8,169); Georgia (6,670); and Michigan (6,518).

At least four of those states are mentioned as swing states in next week's election, which explains the liberal media's focus on the pandemic and the effort to blame Trump for mismanaging it.

President Trump says cases are up "because we TEST, TEST, TEST. A Fake News Media Conspiracy," he tweeted on Monday. "Many young people who heal very fast. 99.9%. Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high. On November 4th, topic will totally change. VOTE!"

On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted: "Until November 4th., Fake News Media is going full on Covid, Covid, Covid. We are rounding the turn. 99.9%."

Jones got in one final bit of pro-Trump spin in a Nov. 3 article, the day of the election:

COVID-involved deaths in recent weeks are well below the numbers recorded this past summer, based on death certificates submitted to the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the week ending September 26, 3,809 COVID-involved deaths were reported to NCHS on a preliminary basis.

That is 30.31 percent below the 5,466 COVID deaths recorded in the week ending August 29; 53.01 percent below the 8,106 deaths recorded in the week ending July 25; roughly equivalent to the 3,791 deaths reported for the week ending June 27; 37.76 percent below the 6,120 deaths recorded in the week ending May 30; and 77.70 percent below the record 17,082 COVID deaths recorded for the week ending April 18.

Since mid-April, COVID-involved deaths have mostly trended down, with brief exceptions in early July and possibly in early October.

Jones managed to avoid mentioning Trump's name in the article, but there was no doubt for whose benefit she wrote it. And she waited until the final paragraph to note information that contradicted her spin: "CDC says cases are spiking in many states -- particularly in the upper West/Midwest (Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin) and in Rhode Island."

Meanwhile, an anonymously written Oct. 14 CNS article served up its own very familiar pro-Trump and anti-media spin: "While the liberal media are doing all they can to try to discredit Dr. Scott Atlas, M.D., a special adviser to President Donald Trump and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, he has released five simple facts about COVID-19 to lucidly explain 'what the science tells us about this virus.'" CNS didn't say when this email was sent or to whom, though it did uncritically transcribe the email. Nor did CNS mention the fact a couple weeks earlier, CDC leader Dr. Robert Redfield expressed concern that Atlas was misinforming the public on a variety of cornavirus-related issues. For instance, Atlas stated in his email that "Children and Young Adults Are at Extremely Low Risk for Serious Illness or Death from COVID-19," while Redfield pointed out that one-fourth of new infections were among young adults ages 18 to 25.


Posted by Terry K. at 11:40 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, December 6, 2020 2:32 PM EST
Saturday, December 5, 2020
MRC's Movie Reviewer Can't Quite Criticize His Old Boss for Advocating Beheading
Topic: Media Research Center

Christian Toto, the Media Research Center's right-wing movie reviewer, just can't quite quit his old boss no matter how terrible he becomes. In a Nov. 14 post, he plays whataboutism to diminish ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon -- his old boss at Breitbart, which he does get some credit for disclosing -- for advocating the behading of Anthony Fauci and FBI director Christopher Wray, by invoking Kathy Griffin's provocative image of herself hold the (obviously fake) bloody severed head of President Trump:

Steve Bannon and Kathy Griffin have something in common.

Both are political warriors of the first order. Bannon, a former Trump White House confidante, wages political battle via “Bannon’s War Room” show.

Griffin attacks primarily via social media and comedy stages.

They have something else in common, though.

Both imagined their political enemies killed in a gruesome fashion, but only one got punished by Twitter. [Editor’s Note: This reporter previously worked under Bannon at Breitbart News]

Bannon’s recent “War Room” episode imagined a bloody end to two key figures -- Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“I’d actually like to go back to the old times of Tudor England, I’d put the heads on pikes, right, I’d put them at the two corners of the White House as a warning to federal bureaucrats.”

Bannon continued on with the tirade, making it harder to envision it as political satire.

That last line was the closest Toto came to criticizing his old boss -- which means he didn't criticize him at all. The rest of his post was dedicated to whining that Griffin retweeted someone who posted the severed-head image of herself and didn't get banned from social media the way Bannon did. He went on to play even more whataboutism: "What’s interesting is that Bannon said what he said on his own show, not via a specific Tweet. Griffin’s ghastly image was shared roundly on social media then, and now."

Note Toto's phrasing there: Bannon merely "said what he said" while Griffin made a "ghastly image." Perhaps Toto fears Bannon will behead him if he criticizes his old boss -- a not-unreasonable fear given the crowd Bannon runs with these days.


Posted by Terry K. at 10:15 AM EST
WND Columnist: Georgia Turned Blue Because ... Hollywood Set Up Studios There
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Georgia is an example of how the Democrats have used a state's conservative, pro-business policies against it. Georgia is the model for turning Texas, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina into consistently blue states, which would guarantee that a Republican will never be elected president again.

[...]

When the national Democrats moved left, they lost Georgia, but it remained tantalizingly ripe for a Democratic resurgence. The answer was to drag Georgia to the left by surgically implanting a piece of California inside of it using its own pro-business, conservative policies against it.

In 2005, Georgia made an aggressive play for movie and television productions to be made in Georgia. Many productions had left Hollywood and New York for greener pastures because of high tax rates and onerous union regulations. The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act offered lucrative incentives to lure productions to Georgia. Tax credits of 20-30% of production costs were offered. By 2015, these credits came to $504 million dollars annually. Footing the bill for 30% seemed a small price for the economic impact accompanying a full-scale Hollywood production. On paper, it was a real coup for Georgia. In 2020, Georgia was ranked No. 1 in film production.

The influence of Hollywood on Georgia has become undeniable. Georgia has grown more prominent on the national stage in recent elections, and the gap between the parties has been steadily narrowing. That came to a head in 2018 when Republican Brian Kemp eked out a victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, 50.2% to 48.8%. 

[...]

Georgia made a deal with the devil by luring Hollywood in. There may be no more morally bankrupt and depraved industry than the film and entertainment industry. It chews people up and spits them out with impunity. It abuses children indirectly by exposing them to drugs, sex and violence at early ages through television and movies, and it abuses children directly by employing them in these productions. The list of names of the people who have been destroyed is staggeringly long and heartbreaking. If there is any industry that can be considered the spearhead for evil in our country, it is the entertainment industry. There is no low that is too low for Hollywood, and there is no end to the depravity.

Any other industry with the body count of Hollywood would have been shut down decades ago, but in America, we celebrate the denizens of Hollywood and treat them as our moral betters. We invited egomaniacal, attention-seeking, leftist zealots to the state knowing exactly who they are. Georgia sold its long, proud history to the likes of Harvey Weinstein. Hollywood's values are not those of the great state of Georgia, but Pandora's box has been opened, and the star power has been unleashed. Thus, it should not be surprising when Stone Mountain is erased and Confederate graves destroyed.

Until Georgia rids itself of the Hollywood influence by rescinding the tax credits for the film industry, you can expect it to continue tilting to the left. Soon, people in Brunswick, Leesburg, Dublin, Lizella and the rest will be at the mercy of the Hollywood elite.

-- David J. Gregors, Nov. 19 WorldNetDaily column


Posted by Terry K. at 12:28 AM EST

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