ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

'Sound of Freedom' -- And Silence About QAnon

The ConWeb loved the anti-child-trafficking film -- but they didn't want to talk about how the film, its star and its inspiration are in the QAnon orbit, And they were almost completely silent when the film's inspiration was hit with charges of sexual misconduct.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/30/2023

Jim Caviezel

Despite having a history of attacking actors who make political statements, the Media Research Center makes an exception for actors who spout right-wing talking points. That's what Christian Toto did in his July 1 column touting the star of the right-wing-friendly film "Sound of Freedom":
Jim Caviezel doesn’t read off the Hollywood script on the promotional circuit.

Yes, that’s the understatement of the year.

The “Passion of the Christ” star works steadily in the industry despite his reluctance to toe the company line. Now, talking to select press for his new film “Sound of Freedom,” Caviezel has taken the shackles entirely off.

That means he’s not promoting the progressive cause du jour.


The star mocked the mainstream media for telling lie after lie after lie.

“Hunter Biden laptop, 2 years, you told us, not true...then it’s true. For 7 years, we learn Donald Trump is a Russian spy...Durham report drops” *snaps* “he’s not a Russian spy.”


He decried sexually explicit Pride displays where children are routinely present, another liberal Hollywood no-no.

What Toto didn't mention, however, is Caviezel's embrace of far-right conspiracy theories. He has become a QAnon adherent and has promoted the wacky claim about "adrenochroming," the bizarre -- and utterly baseless -- theory that global elites are trafficking children and harvest a chemical called adrenochrome from their blood to stay young. As it just so happens, "Sound of Freedom" is based on the true story of a man who fights child sex trafficking.

Toto also noted that "The actor also dubbed the Academy Awards as the 'Irrelevant Show' for ignoring films like 'The Passion of the Christ' (the film earned three minor nominations – Best Score, Best Makeup and Best Cinematography)." He didn't mention that "The Passion" was criticized for leaning into anti-Semitism by blaming Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus, which makes more sense after director Mel Gibson's virulent anti-Semitism was revealed.

Alex Christy tried to whitewash how "Sound of Freedom" leaned into QAnon conspiracy theories and Caviezel's embrace of QAnon in a July 8 post:

CNN Tonight host Abby Phillip decided to do something different for Friday’s show by doing a movie review. Specifically, Sound of Freedom starring Jim Caviezel who stars as Tim Ballard, a real-life former DHS agent who works to bust child sex trafficking rings. For Phillip and The Storm is Upon Us author Mike Rothschild, the film focuses on a real issue, but is nevertheless a “moral panic” and a plot to get QAnon conspiracy theorists to feel good about themselves.

After noting the film is battling Indiana Jones “for the top spot at the box office,” Phillip also noted “the film and its star are raising eyebrows among critics. Some say that it bends the truth about child exploitation, and it caters to QAnon conspiracy theorists. Its distributor, Angel Studios, denies those accusations. Jim Caviezel, the star of the film, is also known for openly embracing QAnon theories.”

After introducing Rothschild, Phillip led him with more of a statement than a question, “the star of this film, Jim Caviezel is coming under a lot of scrutiny for his embrace of QAnon conspiracy theories. And you seem pretty familiar with him because he doesn't really hide his association with this real wild plot that involves, you know, drinking the blood of children and things like that.”

Rothschild elaborated on that idea, “he is openly embracing and he's openly using its catchphrases and its concepts. He's speaking at QAnon conventions. And this film is being marketed to either specific QAnon believers or to people who believe all of the same tenets as QAnon, but claim they don't know what it is.”

Phillip added, “And the Sound of Freedom does focus on a real issue of sex trafficking. But that theme, it's sort of like that kernel of truth that feeds the QAnon conspiracy theory. Tell us how those two things work together.”

Christy's response to all this? "CNN is reviewing Caviezel’s personal life and not the actual movie." That's a hypocritical statement -- the MRC reviews the personal lives of actors all the time, such as Jane Fonda and Rob Reiner, when make statements that aren't conservatively correct.

Christy then cited a reviewer who noted that the movie was based on a true story, adding: "Exactly. If you want fewer QAnon conspiracy theorists then do not associate movies about fighting sex trafficking with QAnon." By the same token, if you don't want your movie associated with QAnon, don't hire a QAnon adherent as your star. And maybe don't base your movie on a guy who repeatedly spews xenophobia and anti-LGBT rhetoric and who won't distance himself from QAnon.

The MRC then hypocritically swung back to reviewing a person instead of his work in a July 18 post by Bill D'Agostino attacking a writer who pointed out how "Sound of Freedom" leans into QAnon:

On Saturday, Bloomberg published a guest opinion piece by the former communications director of a pro-pedophile advocacy group. The article, titled “QAnon and ‘Sound of Freedom’ Both Rely on Tired Hollywood Tropes,” was a late arrival to media crusade against ‘Always With Honor’ — a film about, of all things, child trafficking.

Freelance journalist Andy Ngo over the weekend pointed out the author of this Bloomberg piece, Noah Berlatsky, had an alarming history of defending pedophiles online.


The obvious question is: Why does Berlatsky spend so much time defending pedophiles, downplaying child sex trafficking, and demonizing parents? Perhaps the answer is just as obvious, but we don’t want to allege something we can’t definitively prove.

Instead, let’s ask: Why are Bloomberg’s editorial staff struggling so spectacularly to disavow a man who built his career around defending pedophiles?

Can we also ask why D'Agostino said absolutely nothing at all about the content of Berlatsky's column?

Clay Waters complained in a July 21 post that the New York Times also pointed out the film's QAnon leanings and Caviezel's extreme views, which he downplayed as merely "odd." Toto returned for a July 22 column raging at actress Ellen Barkin for making a non-conservative statement, huffing that she and other liberal actors "never suffer for unhinged views like right-leaning stars often do," adding: "Just ask Jim Caviezel, whose sin is being an openly Christian star. The media loathes him for it., and he allegedly lost two agents for starring in 'Sound of Freedom.'" Toto censored Caviezel's QAnon endorsements, which is likely the real reason Caviezel lost those agents.

Tierin-Rose Mandelburg spent a Sept. 1 post complaining that people were still talking about the QAnon-adjacent leanings of "Sound of Freedom":

Though it seems like everyone has moved on from baselessly bashing the Sound of Freedom, CBS Mornings couldn’t find anything better to talk about Friday, as the network allotted a whopping seven minutes-and-change attempting to paint the movie as something of a QAnon conspiracy.

Apparently exposing the truths and travesties of the child trafficking network is just right-wing propaganda - that is, according to CBS. For starters, the chyron of the segment read, “‘Sound of Freedom’ Controversies.” Fill-in co-host Jamie Yuccas stated, “Sound of Freedom is a lightning rod for controversy and conspiracy theories,” adding that the movie has been embraced by “supporters of the fringe conspiracy theory, QAnon," who "falsely believe in the existence of widespread human trafficking rings run by Hollywood and so-called liberal political elites.”

In the segment, hosts spoke with writer-director Alejandro Monteverde, immediately asking how he feels about the film being at the center of so much controversy.

Again, I don’t think the illegal sexual exploitation and abuse of children is controversial. Nobody should ever be for it, full stop. But, I digress.

Nobody is, dear, and merely criticizing this movie does not mean one is in favor of human trafficking. But we digress; Mandelburg went on to assert that the film can't possibly be leaning into QAnon because the director said it wasn't:

Despite Monteverde’s redirect to focus on the facts of the film and its real-life implications, co-host Nate Burleson asked if the choice to cast Jim Caviezel as the main character was the right selection.

Monteverde then went on to explain that Tim Ballard, the man on whom the movie is based, wanted Caviezel to play the role due to the fact that he is a “man of faith.”

Mandelburg censored Caviezel's embrace of QAnon. She concluded by whining again that the QAnon-adjacent aspects of the film were being pointed out:

At the end, the hosts did give a nod to the movie. King insisted it was important to recognize that the movie was made “before all these conspiracy theories.” Great, so out of a seven-minute segment trying to get Monteverde to claim the movie was based on a far right-wing conspiracy theories, a whopping 10 seconds was dedicated to agreeing the movie did a good thing by exposing the horrific child trafficking epidemic.

Honestly, the hosts should be embarrassed. They couldn’t get off the schtick that this movie was supported by “QAnon” and allowed it to essentially run and ruin the whole segment. Kudos to Monteverde for sharing the truth and holding his own.

If Mandelburg really thought the film was honest, she wouldn't be fighting so hard to bury the fact that both Ballard and Caviezel are very much QAnon-adjacent. She's definitely not showing any embarrassment over her deceit.


Like the MRC, WorldNetDaily loves "Sound of Freedom" because it advances right-wing political narratives. Bob Unruh made that exact point in a July 10 article by pushing the bizarre conspiratorial claim that President Biden supports child trafficking:

The modern world has been unable, so far, to effectively rid itself of the scourge of child trafficking.

It's been especially noticeable in the United States in the last few years. WND reported the U.S. has become, under the leadership of Joe Biden, a de facto "middleman" in a massive "child trafficking" scheme.

That's according to a damning new report compiled by journalist and Gatestone Institute Senior Fellow Uzay Bulut.

But also like the MRC, WND wants you to think that only crazy people (and liberals) think that the film has some QAnon-adjacent shenanigans going on. Around the 10th paragraph of his article, Unruh finally got off the politicization of child trafficking and got around to addressing the actual movie:

Now, a report in The Blaze reveals that legacy media, so befuddled by the facts, has become a critic of movie revealing the extent of the problem.

The report said "leftist media outlets" have taken to slamming the new "Sound of Freedom Movie," and making claims that the anti-child trafficking project is a "QAnon fantasy."

The movie is based on the true story of a federal agent who is confronted with the facts of child trafficking, and leaves his job to work to save children.

It was written and directed by Mexican director Alejandro Monteverde and produced by Mexican producer Eduardo Verástegui. The movie features "The Passion of the Christ" star Jim Caviezel and Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino.

The movie, on a $14.5 million budget, is outperforming Disney's highly promoted "Indiana Jones" movie.

The report said, "Rolling Stone published an article with title: ''Sound Of Freedom' Is a Superhero Movie for Dads With Brainworms.' The sub-headline reads: 'The QAnon-tinged thriller about child-trafficking is designed to appeal to the conscience of a conspiracy-addled boomer.'"

The writer of that piece claims the movie is "fomenting moral panic" with its "exaggerations."

But Unruh refused to explain exactly why the film is considered QAnon-adjacent: child trafficking is a key component of the QAnon conspiracy; Caviezel being a QAnon adherent, and Ballard refusing to distance himself from QAnon.

But conspiracy theories have always been more important than facts at WND, and it has previously touted Caviezel's ranting before. An anonymously written June 21 article hyped how "Actor Jim Caviezel, whose brand new 'Sound of Freedom' move is just arriving on scene, is warning Americans about the dangers of the subject of the film: Human trafficking. Of small children," adding that "he implicated 'U.S. agencies'" in the child sex trafficking industry."

WND also parroted the MRC in attacking a critic of the film. A July 17 article by Peter LaBarbera claimed that "Among the left-leaning critics attacking the surprise hit film 'Sound of Freedom,' about a man who quits his Department of Homeland Security job hunting pedophiles to rescue sex-trafficked children in Colombia, is a man who represented a group that is leading efforts to recast pedophiles as 'Minor Attracted Persons,' or MAPs." He went on to tout Caviezel plugging the film:

Though cynical leftist ideologues like Berlastky claim "Sound of Freedom"-type "narratives do little to help victims," that is precisely what SOF star Caviezel is hoping to do with the movie. In a special message to theater-goers shown after the film's ending, he states: "'Sound of Freedom' is one of those films that can legitimately change this world, so we want to ignite a fire in audiences and open their eyes to the dark reality of millions of children that need our help. Let's make this film an historic event and the start of the end of child trafficking... ."

"Pre-order your tickets today and you can send the message that 'God's children are no longer for sale,'" he says, echoing the main theme of the Angel Studios production.

LaBarbera also complained:

Despite hopes that a movie about saving innocent children from sex-traffickers might unite a bitterly divided nation, left-wing activists are dwelling on its alleged links to extreme-right "Q-anon" conspiracies rather than joining conservatives and people of faith in celebrating its focus on solving the crisis of the horrific exploitation of children.

Like Unruh, LaBarbera failed to tell his readers that Caviezel is a QAnon adherent and that its subject won't distance himself from QAnon.

WND also published several articles, mostly from other sources, touting the film and Caviezel:

Unruh kept his own rah-rah campaign as well. A July 17 article uncritically repeated claims that theaters are "intentionally sabotaging" showings of the film. He touted the film's ticket sales in a July 24 article:

Most movies have a huge opening weekend. But then the attendance and income rapidly deteriorate.

That's why studios spend the big bucks on advertising and such, to get fans out for those first few days.

One film, however, is showing the ability to move against the trend.

A new report from Celluloid Junkie reveals that "Sound of Freedom," the stunning story of a former federal agent who turned his life's goals into helping those children who are being trafficked, is seeing surging attendance – weeks after its opening.

The movie from Angel Studios, where filmmakers use crowdfunding to create and distribute films, confirmed its third weekend total revenue was "a strong $20,140,647."

The figure is higher than its debut weekend.

"Angel Studios is projecting nearly $125 million total cumulative box office revenue through Sunday," the report said.

But Unruh censored the fact that the film's promoters are using a "pay it forward" strategy, in which people buy tickets for others to claim. As much as 20 percent of the film's box office take may be coming from "pay it forward," artificially inflating those box numbers, and there's little evidence to show that people actually claimed those tickets and watched the film.

WND even started selling a "Thou Shalt Not Traffic Children" bumper sticker as a lame attempt to cash in on the movie's popularity.


Like other ConWeb outlets, Newsmax embraced the anti-child trafficking film "Sound of Freedom," based on the story of Tim Ballard, as a way to advance right-wing political narratives. James Hirsen unspririsingly gushed over the film in his July 3 column:

During one of the many dramatic scenes in the film, Ballard alludes to a passage from the Gospel of Luke.

“It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than you should ever hurt one of these little ones,” Ballard says.

In the Bible, Jesus himself instructs us about the inherent value of each and every child.

When in the film Ballard is asked why he has taken up this arduous mission, he replies, “Because God’s children are not for sale.”


For me personally, another passage from the Bible comes to mind. It is that of the Good Shepherd.

The shepherd has 100 sheep in his flock. But if one single sheep goes missing, he leaves the 99 in search of the one.

At least in prayer, may people of conscience continue to strive to be like the Good Shepherd.

And may God in his goodness send more Tim Ballards to rescue the one in need.

Like those other ConWeb outlets, Hirsen wasn't about to admit that the film leans into conspiratorial QAnon narratives about trafficking -- in which global elites are purportedly trafficking children for the purpose of harvesting a chemical called adrenochrome from their blood to stay young -- or that star Jim Caviezel has become a serious QAnon adherent, or that Ballard himself has refused to distance himself from QAnon.

Hirsen gushed over the film again in his July 11 column -- "The public loves the film, giving it the highest CinemaScore rating possible, an A+. And movie fans who weighed-in on the Rotten Tomatoes website gave it a 100% rating" -- but then undermined that praise by enlisting two less-than-stellar people to help him endorse it:

In order to get more people to pay attention to the violations of human dignity with which the film deals, Dana White, President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (the global mixed martial arts organization) posted a video on social media.

White spoke out on the importance of “Sound of Freedom” and the chilling nightmare of human trafficking. He was joined by legendary actor and director [Mel] Gibson, who urged people to see the movie.

The White and Gibson video footage has gone viral, providing some powerful promotion for the movie.

During the video, White said, “There is a new movie out there called 'Sound of Freedom' and it’s about human trafficking. More importantly, about the trafficking of children. This is a disgusting, horrific issue that’s happening all around the world. And it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.”

The UFC CEO is utilizing his own company in an effort to get the word out.

As ConWebWatch has documented, White is something of a thug who defied COVID protocols during the pandemic to continue UFC matches and who was caught on camera slapping his wife during an argument. Gibson, of course, is the close friend of Hirsen whom he has been trying to rehabilitate publicly ever since he was exposed as a raging Jew-hater. Hirsen mentioned none of this, of course, and he continued to censor the QAnon ties of the film and its principals.

Newsmax also gave the film other promotion as well:

(All those articles on how well the film is doing would seem to disprove Cain's claim that it's being "suppressed.")

The only time the film's QAnon links were somewhat seriously addressed came in a July 9 article by Eric Mack that dishonestly addressed the issues by blaming "the liberal media" for bringing it up and citing a writer for the right-wing Western Journal (whose ideology he did not disclose) in response:

The biopic of Tim Ballad, a man leaving government work to hunt down child sex-traffickers in Colombia, is getting rave reviews by the public, while being trashed by the liberal media – a dichotomy not entirely lost on some.

While Rolling Stone magazine, The Washington Post, and The Guardian have denounced "The Sound of Freedom," to varying degrees, as a dog whistle for QAnon conspiracy theorists, it is making noise as a box office smash, raising an estimated $40 million in six days, according to Deadline.


Rolling Stone's meltdown titled "Sound of Freedom' Is a Superhero Movie for Dads With Brainworms" had Bryan Chai of the Western Journal taking particular note of critics minimizing the issue of child-sex trafficking to dis the film as a QAnon conspiracy spreader.

"Ballard, Caviezel, and others of their ilk had primed the public to accept 'Sound of Freedom' as a documentary rather than delusion by fomenting moral panic for years over this grossly exaggerated 'epidemic' of child sex-trafficking, much of it funneling people into conspiracist rabbit holes and QAnon communities," Rolling Stone's Miles Klee wrote. "In short, I was at the movies with people who were there to see their worst fears confirmed."

The Journal's Chai shot back that, despite Klee's dismissal, "child sex-trafficking is an objectively heinous, monstrous and evil stain on humanity."

Mack refused to tell his readers that Caviezel is a QAnon adherent or that Ballard won't distance himself from QAnon.

Sexual misconduct allegations
But the film wasn't the end of the story. In September, it was reported that Ballard had resigned from the organization he founded to push his anti-trafficking agenda, Operation Underground Railroad, following accusations from several women of sexual misconduct, in which he was alleged to have coerced the women to act like "wives" during overseas missions; he was allegedly "extensively grooming and manipulating multiple women for the past two to three years with the ultimate intent of coercing them to participate in sexual acts with him, under the premise of going wherever it takes and doing 'whatever it takes' to save a child." In October, Ballard was sued by five women who accuse him of sexual assault and battery. (Ballard has denied the accusations.)

The MRC and Newsmax censored this story despite being big promoters of Ballard and "Sound of Freedom." WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, helped with Ballard's defense; Joe Kovacs served as his stenographer while trying to dismiss the allegations as politically motivated in a Sept. 18 article, after the allegations were first made public:

Tim Ballard, the former Department of Homeland Security agent whose real-life heroics rescuing trafficked children were depicted in the smash film "Sound of Freedom" starring Jim Caviezel, is now speaking out in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct with numerous women.

"It's not true, nothing you hear is true," Ballard told supporters in Boston, who recorded his comments on video.

"This is breaking down my family like you can't believe," he continued, as his delivery varied from shouting at the cameras to welling up in tears.

His comments come in the wake of a report by far-left VICE News, which indicated "Ballard's exit from Operation Underground Railroad earlier this year followed an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct involving seven women, according to sources with direct knowledge of the organization."


In July, VICE News referred to "Sound of Freedom" as a "a heavily fictionalized depiction of Ballard's work for a division of ICE and his early career as a private anti-trafficking operator," and published a story about the film with the headline: "Anti-Trafficking Group With Long History of False Claims Gets Its Hollywood Moment."

Kovacs offered no evidence that anything in the Vice story is false or even that Vice is "far-left." He then reprinted Ballard's whining that even the Mormon church -- not known for making rash decisions -- has cut ties with him:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of which Ballard is member, reportedly released a statement to FOX13 News and other media, calling Ballard's behavior "morally unacceptable."

But Ballard questioned the authenticity of that statement.

"I don't believe the Church did this," he said in the video. "I truly don't. Can you imagine that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would publicly condemn one of its members?"

Fox13 also reported the LDS Church "has removed articles promoting Ballard and the nonprofit he founded, Operation Underground Railroad (OUR)."

"Tim is fully convinced that he is supposed to be the 'Mormon Messiah and lead people back to the church," the statement reportedly indicated.

Fox13 noted of VICE's probe: "The documents reportedly outline how prosecutors believe Ballard communicated with a psychic to speak to the prophet Nephi 'to get intel' on how to rescue children.'"

Ballard says in the video: "I'm as human as anybody. But how is it that my decisions and my actions which led to the rescue of over 7,000 women and children and the arrest and imprisonment of over 5,000 traffickers and pedophiles, you tell me how I'm the bad guy in that story. How is it possible?"

"I pray to God the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wasn't part of this."

On Sept. 27, WND republished an article it stole from FaithWire featuring another defense by Ballard. But it has published no articles since, even after the women filed suit against him.

Send this page to:

Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-2023 Terry Krepel