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Watching Over Wonky Whistleblowers

The Media Research Center loves narrative-advancing whistleblowers like Devon Archer and Gal Luft, to the point that it will work hard to ignore questions about their credibility -- and their criminality.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 1/10/2024

The Media Research Center loves whistleblowers who follow its right-wing narratives (and hate the ones who don't). It loves those narrative-adhering whistleblowers so much, in fact, that it will gloss over or completely ignore questions about their credibility.

For instance, Kevin Tober whined in a May 18 post:

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the weaponization of the federal government against its citizens. A sad occurrence that has become more frequent as the government continues to grow out of control. During the hearing, numerous whistleblowers testified about being retaliated against by the FBI for coming forward to report either corruption or abuse of power by the government or its affiliated agencies.

Being members of the fourth estate that were supposed to report on government and its excesses, you would think the big three evening news broadcasts would jump at the opportunity to report on this hearing and the shocking accounts that were revealed. Sadly, like most stories of any consequence these days, the big three networks ignored it because they rightly believe coverage would hurt the Biden administration.

Instead, all three networks: ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News decided to keep their viewers in the dark and waste precious airtime on stories like a fire at a North Carolina construction site or a security scare at the Vatican.

But Tober gave a gold star to Fox News for dutifully embracing the narrative:

Meanwhile, Fox News Channel’s flagship newscast Special Report kicked off the broadcast with the news that was made from the congressional hearing.

“Witnesses told members of Congress stories of retaliation and intimidation because they questioned a prominent investigation,” correspondent David Spunt explained.

One of the whistleblowers who testified under oath was a former FBI agent named Marcus Allen who “was punished for questioning the official narrative of what happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

“He lost his security clearance two weeks ago, though it was suspended in January 2022,” Spunt noted.

Tober, complained, though, that Fox News reported a small piece of the other side of the story, which he immediately dismissed:

In an attempt at damage control, the FBI released a statement to Fox News that tried to smear Allen, reading: “Mr. Allen used his FBI email to send multiple colleagues, quote: Links to web sites and urged recipients to exercise extreme caution and discretion in pursuit of any investigative inquiries or leads pertaining to the events of January 6.”

Tim Graham similarly complained in a May 19 post that the Republican narrative wasn't uncritically presented and that questions were raised about the whistleblowers:

Last night, we reported that the nightly newscasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC completely skipped any mention of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on FBI whistleblowers. Since the hearing was organized by Republicans, it was somehow not news. Fox's Special Report had it. The PBS NewsHour and NPR's All Things Considered also failed to consider the hearing.

The trend continued on Friday's morning shows, with no FBI whistleblower coverage on ABC's Good Morning America, CBS Mornings, and NBC's Today. Even a "jam-packed Morning Joe" couldn't locate the story on MSNBC. NPR's Morning Edition also offered nothing. CNN This Morning did offer a brief piece, making it sound like a very messy hearing, as Democrats (like Del. Stacey Plaskett) insisted that these weren't real "whistleblowers" on the FBI, because the FBI insisted they were not.

Collins began "Meanwhile, in Washington, lawmakers on Capitol Hill got into a pretty explosive argument yesterday over whether or not those three self-proclaimed FBI whistleblowers are actually whistleblowers."

Collins at least aired soundbites from two whistleblowers, and then followed with the FBI line: "It is also important to note that before the hearing, the FBI actually sent a letter to Congressman Jordan's subcommittee. In it, the agency said that officials stripped two of those three men that you saw there who testified of their security clearances after multiple violations and security concerns. The agency says that both men also expressed alternate theories about the attack on the Capitol."

Graham further whined that non-right-wing outlets reported a fuller story about the whistleblowers:

That's not to say that Ken Dilanian missed the FBI whistleblower hearing. Online, Dilanian and Ryan Reilly wrote up a story larded with pro-FBI spin: "GOP witnesses undermined Jan. 6 cases with conspiracy theories, FBI says". You have to get about 15 paragraphs down before the pro-whistleblower side gets a quote or two.


The Washington Post actually covered the hearing on page A-4 under the headline "FBI agents who testified on alleged abuses had security clearance revoked."

This is how liberal media outlets play: any criticism of Democrats are described as "alleged abuses" from "self-proclaimed whistleblowers."

Graham didn't explain why the full story of the self-proclaimed whistleblowers should be censored, nor did he explain why FBI agents who refused to do their jobs should be trusted. Graham didn't tell his readers that, according to the NBC News article he cited, the FBI stated that one of the agents, Steve Friend, "told his bureau management in Florida he would not work Jan. 6 cases and "refused to participate in the execution of a court authorized, search and arrest," and that Allen "'espoused alternative theories' about Jan. 6 to co-workers and also "'failed to provide relevant information' to an FBI special agent about a Jan. 6 suspect who was later discovered to have physically assaulted U.S. Capitol Police officers." Graham also failed to mention that Friend received money from Trump ally Kash Patel, who provided Friend with a job at a right-wing think tank after he was suspended by the FBI.

Rather than reveal the full truth about these whistleblowers, Graham continued to whine about this in his podcast the same day:

NBC is a national news network. So why would it skip House GOP hearings into whistleblowers being punished by the FBI, and obsess instead over small-town right-wing school board members pushing a "dangerous" curriculum? We call it "bias by story selection." They pick the narratives they want to enforce, and avoid the narratives that aren't helpful to Democrats.

Of course, Graham is engaging in his own "bias by story selection" by censoring the full story about the whistleblowers' misdeeds.

It will not surprise you to learn that the MRC does not treat all whistleblowers as sacrosanct truth-tellers who must always be believed. It repeatedly tried to discredit Frances Haugen for telling how Facebook did little to stop misinformation on its platform, attacking her as "a far-left activist and AOC donor" -- while failing to disclose the fact that it was adhering to the talking points of Facebook management, who had reached out to conservative organizations to plant those attacks.

Gushing over Gal Luft

The Media Research Center was a big fan of Gal Luft in 2008, mainly because of his objection to importing oil:

  • A March 2008 post by Ariel Cohen approvingly stated: "As Gal Luft, Director of the Institute for Analysis of Global Security recently wrote, at current oil prices the United States sends $460 billion per year overseas to finance its daily purchase of 12 million barrels of imported oil. This amount of money is about the size of our defense budget and three times the size of the ''economic stimulus'' package recently passed by Congress. Dependence on imported oil threatens the U.S. with a long-term economic decline and loss of sovereignty, according to Luft."
  • A June 2008 post by Geoffrey Dickens included a quote of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman stating that "we basically have an energy policy that Gal Luft has described, I think very accurately as the 'sum of all lobbies.'"
  • Julia Seymour devoted an entire July 2008 post to "energy security expert" Luft claiming that "The environmental movement stands to lose many supporters if it works against people's economic prosperity."

The next time Luft popped up at the MRC was in a February 2013 post by Brent Baker noting that an essay by Luft was among the contents of an issue of Foreign Policy that said too many nice things about Barack Obama.

Luft didn't get renewed attention at the MRC again until his entanglement as an alleged whistleblower against Hunter Biden. A March 31 post by Dickens doing a time count of coverage of "Biden family corruption" repeated a claim by the right-wing New York Post that "Israeli energy expert" Luft was claiming that "Hunter Biden had an FBI mole named “One-Eye” who tipped off his Chinese business partners that they were under investigation," also noting that Luft was "arrested in Cyprus last month on gunrunning charges" and made his claims after "being detained at a Cyprus airport as he prepared to board a plane to Israel." Dickens also included Luft ranting that he was the target of a "politically motivated extradition request by the U.S." and that the "DOJ is trying to bury me to protect Joe, Jim, and Hunter Biden."

But the MRC never told its readers that Luft kinda disappeared after that, as Republican Rep. James Comer seemed to confirm in a May appearance on Fox Business. That's not a good look for a would-be whistleblower, but the MRC doesn't care. When he surfaced while in fugitive-from-justice mode, Dickens cheered the development in a July 6 post:

An eyewitness with stunning claims about the Biden family scandals has come forward on a video, yet so far ABC, CBS and NBC have yet to report on them.

Israeli professor and former Israeli army officer Dr. Gal Luft in a 14-minute long video (released by the New York Post on late Wednesday night) claimed he was about to testify to the House Oversight Committee on the Biden family receiving payments from Chinese officials but was arrested in Cyprus, before he could deliver that testimony.

Dickens quoted the Post noting that Luft is a "fugitive" whose video was "filmed in an undisclosed location while he’s on the run." The Post was even dismissive of Luft, calling him a "self-proclaimed fall guy." But Dickens made sure to reward Fox News for helping to push this anti-Hunter narrative: "While the broadcast networks have yet to utter a word on this amazing development, FNC’s Fox & Friends did jump on the story this morning."

Luft popped up one last time in a July 11 post by Curtis Houck, who was uncritically quoting a question at a White House press briefing by a reporter for the right-wing New York Post who noted that Luft had been indicted "for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by working without registration for a company called CEFC China Energy. The President’s son and brother worked for the same firm without registration and the President was invoked in that infamous shakedown text message preceding the transfer of $5 million to the Biden family."

But there's a lot the MRC hasn't told you about Luft. As Liz Dye at Wonkette pointed out, the original charging document against Luft was issued in November 2022 -- before there was a Republican House to obsess over Hunter -- meaning that it's arguably untrue that Luft is being charged to shut him up about Hunter. She further summarized: "Luft didn't get indicted because he tried to blow the whistle on Hunter Biden. He got indicted because he was wildly corrupt and because he made false statements about it to the FBI, including in March of 2019, during the very same interview in which Comer alleges that Luft blew the whistle on Hunter Biden."

All of which makes it strange that Comer and the MRC are hanging their credibility hat on a guy who's clearly spinning stories in order to save himself from jail -- in part for being a fugitive from justice -- rather than out of any interest in telling the truth. But then, there's a lot of Hunter Biden Derangement Syndrome going on at the MRC these days.

Defending Devon Archer

In a July 25 post hyping "FOUR New Biden Scandals on Burisma, Hunter’s Life of Corruption" (which puts the MRC's overheated total of such "scandals" to be well over 60), Curtis Houck hyped how "The Fox News Channel's flagship newscast Special Report led Monday with this development (as would numerous FNC shows after them)" while non-right-wing media ignored it. The hype about Archer's planned testimony continued:

  • Tim Graham touted it in his July 26 column, declaring that "New scoops are underlining this is a Joe Biden scandal."
  • Cassandra DeVries gushed in a post the same day: "According to New York Post article by former MRC Bulldog Award winner Miranda Devine, Hunter Biden’s close friend Devon Archer said Hunter used his father’s position as the Vice President to impress foreign executives and win their money. Hunter Biden frequently called his father when meeting with business partners and investors, introducing them to his father or asking his father for advice."
  • Houck cheered in his writeup of the July 26 White House press briefing that biased reporter Fred Lucas of the right-wing Daily Signal "was the lone reporter to ask former Hunter Biden business associate and friend Devon Archer being slated to testify next week behind closed doors to a House committee."
  • Houck used a July 28 post to promote that NBC "even made an allusion to next week’s potential bombshell testimony from former longtime Hunter business partner and confidante Devon Archer."

On the day of the planned testimony, July 31, Mark Finkelstein touted Fox News hyping it and bashed MSNBC's "Morning Joe" for not playing along with the approved right-wing narrative:

Meanwhile, over on Morning Joe, the panel trashed Trump for having alleged a corrupt Biden-Ukraine connection. Host Jonathan Lemire and Politico's Sam Stein suggested that Trump didn't learn from the experience of having been impeached over similar allegations he made.

But incredibly, while dismissing Trump's assertions,they failed to even breathe the name of Devon Archer, and the testimony he was expected to offer. Lemire made a passing, innocuous-sounding mention, of Hunter Biden having "once served on the board" of Burisma. No reference to the fact that, as NBC News has reported, Hunter and his company raked in $11 million from Burisma.

Finkelstein then alluded to a little problem with their newest star whistleblower, but then tried to build a conspiracy theory around it:

Morning Joe also suppressed the news that the Biden Justice Department made a highly unusual Saturday request to the judge overseeing Archer's conviction in an unrelated case to expedite his sentencing and jailing; presumably a tactic intended to pressure Archer to curb his enthusiasm for anti-Biden testimony.

So, according to Finkelstein, the problem with Archer is not that he's a convicted criminal, it's that he's going to be punished for being one.

Another post that day, by Bill D'Agostino, ranted that non-right-wing cable news channels mentioned Donald Trump too much and Archer not enough:

On the day that Devon Archer, a business associate and longtime friend of Hunter Biden, testified before the House Oversight committee, CNN and MSNBC instead flooded the airwaves with their favorite topic: Donald Trump. Between 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. eastern, CNN and MSNBC made a combined 759 mentions of Donald Trump, while at the same time mentioning Devon Archer just 48 times.

During the specified timespan, MSNBC featured 461 mentions of the former President, while CNN supplied the remaining 298. Meanwhile, CNN mentioned Devon Archer only 37 times during the same period, while MSNBC mentioned him just 11 times. That’s a more than 41-to-1 ratio of Trump mentions to Archer mentions for the latter network.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe during the 8:00 a.m. hour somehow managed to bring up the former President by name a jaw-dropping 70 times (212 times across the whole show). Meanwhile, Archer was not discussed at any point during that program’s four-hour runtime.

D'Agostino failed to provide a similar count for Fox News so there would be a point of comparison. On the other hand, his post was translated into Spanish the next day.

Another July 31 post, by Kevin Tober, whined that people on CNN didn't take Archer's testimony seriously:

On Monday afternoon, while Hunter Biden’s business partner Devon Archer was behind closed doors testifying before the House Oversight Committee regarding the Biden family’s corrupt business dealings, CNN host Dana Bash and congressional correspondent Manu Raju wore their profound ignorance on their sleeve with the pants-on-fire claim that Republicans have thus far put forward zero evidence showing Joe Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter’s business dealings.

During a panel discussion on the Archer testimony, Bash claimed that the Archer testimony is all about “whether or not Republicans can find any evidence, which they have yet to put forward, of their repeated accusation that the President, Joe Biden, had knowledge of, or a connection to Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine and China.”

Either Bash doesn’t follow the news, or she’s lying to her audience. Even before Monday’s revelations from Archer detailing how involved Joe Biden was with his son, it’s been heavily reported that Hunter gives his dad a cut of the money he shakes down from foreign governments. In one text message, he referred to the elder Biden as the “Big Guy” and admitted he gives him a ten percent cut.

Tober whined again a few hours later:

On Monday, Hunter Biden’s business partner Devon Archer testified behind closed doors before the House Oversight Committee regarding the Biden family’s corrupt business dealings including a bombshell revelation that Hunter put his father Joe Biden on the phone with his business associates over twenty times. This at the very least proves President Biden’s repeated claims that he was unaware of his son’s business activities was a flat-out lie. Despite this, NBC Nightly News had no interest in this story. While ABC’s World News Tonight and CBS Evening News covered the Archer testimony, NBC pretended it never happened.

Instead, the network ran a nearly two-minute-long segment on the U.S. women’s soccer team and an interview with athlete Megan Rapinoe. Clearly, NBC’s priorities were in order.

You mean like it's Tober's priority to attack any non-right-wing outlet who doesn't uncritically parrot right-wing narratives? In neither post, by the way, did Tober mention that Archer has a criminal record.

After Archer's testimony, it labored to frame the contents of it as devastating, even though that wasn't exactly the case. An Aug. 1 post by Curtis Houck whined that one non-right-wing media outlet didn't stick with his preferred right-wing narrative:

After being no-shows on Monday’s NBC Nightly News, NBC arrived via Tuesday morning’s Today to Devon Archer’s damaging remarks behind closed doors to the House Oversight Committee about what he saw in his time as Hunter Biden’s longtime business partner and confidant, including their stint on the infamous Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.

This wasn’t entirely surprising as Today had been the only flagship network morning or evening newscast to allude to the hearing in the run-up to Monday with a seven-second nod on Friday.


“Ah, we’re following some new developments in the investigations that surround Hunter Biden. His former business partner testifying behind doors on Capitol Hill,” Today co-host Craig Melvin began, tossing to chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander by asking “what did we learn from” what’s leaked out.

Alexander caught viewers up to speed with what’s not in dispute, which was that he was “Hunter Biden’s former business partner” and “answered questions for about four hours”.

Then, the spin games began with Alexander touting the Democratic line that Archer believes Hunter merely “sold the illusion of access to his father” and the elder Biden “was never directly involved in” their shady ventures.

This was despite the fact that “Hunter put his father on speaker phone with clients and former business associates roughly 20 times over ten years”.

But Houck really didn't want the full story of Archer's testimony told; he later complained that another network "gave the other side" by quoting a Democratic congressman, Dan Goldman, saying that "he never heard any evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden."

Peter Kotara later complained that Goldman was allowed to appear on TV and offer his take:

Tuesday’s Morning Joe brought on Congressman Dan Goldman (D-NY) and teed him up to play defense for President Biden after the explosive Devon Archer testimony on the Biden family’s bribery and corruption. They contradicted Republican claims about the content of the closed-door testimony, and denied any wrongdoing by then Vice President Biden.

Goldman claimed that despite Archer’s testimony that Biden was on the phone at Hunter’s business meetings, he was only there to merely “say hello” and that Hunter was only selling the “illusion” of influence, as if that didn’t benefit him.


The problem was, that what Goldman said completely contradicted the Republican statements about Archer’s testimony. Goldman and Comer both were in the room listening to Archer’s testimony, but it was a closed-door session and the transcript currently had not been released to the public. If it is, one side will be exposed as liars.
Kotara didn't explain why the statements from Republicans -- whose goal it is to personally destroy Hunter Biden and his father -- should be trusted. Instead, he unleashed a nasty smear of President Biden and Hunter: "So we were supposed to believe the father who let his son become a crackhead all of a sudden started to care, and they got over Beau’s death by talking with Hunter’s business associates?"

Houck returned for an Aug. 2 post complaining that non-right-wing media was covering actual news instead of Archer:

With Tuesday’s third indictment of former President Trump, the “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC had their ticket out of having to acknowledge the scandals surrounding the Biden family, including reasons to continue skipping Burisma bribery claims and no longer probe Monday’s testimony from Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Devon Archer.

Houck repeated this talking point while guest-hosting the Aug. 2 podcast. An Aug. 3 post by Tober, meanwhile, tried to frame Goldman as a liar:

On Monday, after Hunter Biden's business associate Devon Archer testified behind closed doors regarding President Joe Biden's involvement with his son, New York Democrat [sic] Congressman Dan Goldman went before the assembled cameras and microphones outside the committee room and lied through his teeth about what was said. While at the time we only had his word vs the word of Republican members who were also in the room, based on his track record, all fair minded observers knew he was lying.

When the word for word transcript was released Thursday, everyone who read it now knew for certain he lied. Later that morning, CBS News investigative reporter Catherine Herridge called him out when she went on CBS's streaming network to correct the record.

Host Anne-Marie Green first asked Herridge "Why are Democrats and Republicans disagreeing on the context of the transcripts."

This gave Herridge her chance to correct the lies that were spread by Goldman and others that Hunter Biden had not sought to use his father's influence to shake down foreign governments. "Earlier this week we just had to rely on the characterization from Republicans and Democrats about Devon Archer's testimony," she noted. "But now we can see the full transcript."

"You will recall that Democrat Congressman Dan Goldman said that Archer testified that it was the illusion of access to Joe Biden that Hunter Biden was offering to these clients. But in fact, when you look at the transcript what you see is that phrase, illusion of access, is in Dan Goldman's question. It’s actually not what Devon Archer testified to," she explained.

In fact, the article on the testimony Herridge co-wrote for the CBS website more or less backs up what Goldman said; she didn't accuse Goldman of lying as Tober asserted but, rather, merely claimed that Archer's answers were "more nuanced" than Goldman portrayed them as being:

The transcript shows Goldman used the term "illusion of access" in his line of questioning, and Archer's answers were more nuanced.

He asked Archer, "Is it fair to say that Hunter Biden was selling the illusion of access to his father?"

Archer replied, "Yes."

Goldman followed up, "So, when you talk about selling the brand, it's not about selling access to his father. It's about selling the illusion of access to his father. Is that fair?"

Archer replied, "Is that fair? I mean, yeah, that is — I think that's — that's almost fair."

Goldman asked, "'Almost fair.' Why, 'almost fair?'"

"Because there are touch points and contact points that I can't deny that happened, but nothing of material was discussed," Archer said.

In short: Tober is lying by accusing Goldman of lying. Nevertheless, Tober concluded his post by declaring, "Good to see there's at least one honest reporter at CBS who is willing to call out the disinformation from the left regarding the massive Biden bribery scandal."

After another coverage count by Houck -- which, like before, omitted Fox News -- and another podcast guest-hosting gig where he repeated those numbers, it was back to dishonestly framing Goldman as a liar. Kotara did thte duty in an Aug. 4 post:

On Friday, MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosts doubled down on their flagrant lies they promoted along with Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman (D-NY) about Hunter Biden’s business partner, Devon Archer.

They claimed that now, with the transcript of the testimony released, that Goldman was correct, and later lamented that other networks were treating the Biden investigation as “equal” to the indictments against Donald Trump.

Co-host Mika Brzezinski opened:

But as we learned from Democratic committee member Dan Goldman, Archer may have actually contradicted [Chairman James] Comer's [R-KY] point. And yesterday, the transcript of that closed door interview was released, confirming Goldman's account. It turns out Archer told the House Oversight Committee that he has no knowledge of Joe Biden altering policy to benefit Hunter. Archer also said he was present for roughly 20 instances of Hunter putting his father on speakerphone in the presence of business associates. Archer said none of the conversations focused on business and that they talked about things like fishing and the weather.

This was one more massive spin to cover up their previous claims about the testimony before the transcript was released. Brzezinski’s dishonesty was shown by the fact that Archer did mention the weather and fishing, but the issue was that he was selling the Biden brand. Archer in the transcript stated that “I think ‘brand’ is the best way to describe it.” This completely dismantled MSNBC’s prior narrative of the “illusion of access” being sold as opposed to actual access to Biden. When the transcript was released, co-host Joe Scarborough and Brzezinski must have panicked and decided the only way to proceed without losing all credibility was to keep up the charade and hope no one noticed any other network’s coverage of the it or read the transcript themselves.

Unfortunately for MSNBC, their perfidiousness was laid bare not only by House Republicans and right-leaning networks like Fox News, but also by their fellow liberal network CBS. Astonishingly, the mainstream left-wing network actually called out Goldman for his lies about the content of the transcript where Archer tells Goldman that his description is “almost fair,” because Hunter is showing off that there is a degree of access.

Despite not actually saying what, exactly, was the "lie" Goldman told,Kotara ranted: "Joe, Mika, and the rest of the MSNBC hosts gave new insight into just how depraved the leftist media really was. In an act of total desperation and terror, they were willing to verifiably lie directly to the world about something as simple as a transcript. For what purpose? To protect the Bidens and by extension, the political success of the Democratic Party. They made it clear that no one interested in honesty can trust them, the media exists solely to spread propaganda for the left." One can more plausibly argue that Kotara and the MRC are spreading lies to benefit right-wing narratives.

An Aug. 9 post by Tober cheered how Fox News and its biased reporters were pushing those very right-wing narratives:

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy is back from his parental leave and he's already making waves in the media. Late Wednesday afternoon, Doocy had an opportunity to ask President Joe Biden, during an event in New Mexico, about Devon Archer's testimony directly implicating him in his son Hunter's overseas business dealings by saying he was put on the phone with Hunter's partners. As you can expect, the President was not happy with the question. In fact, he snapped at Doocy and said it was a "lousy question."

The exchange did not air live on television but thankfully was caught on camera. Doocy went on Fox during Your World with Neil Cavuto to break the news and let viewers see the exchange.

That, of course, is the media world the MRC wants us all to inhabit: highly biased, with right-wing narratives presented without the faintest criticism.

And none of these posts mentioned that Archer is a convicted criminal who has been sentenced to prison for his role in a scam involving the sale of fraudulent tribal bonds, then lost an appeal on the sentencing earlier this year.

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