Steven Bannon and Other Conservatives Lie the Most on Their Podcasts, Study Finds
The “War Room” podcast of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon spreads the most disinformation among conservative podcasts hosted by Apple, a recent study from the Brookings Institute found.
The study — which transcribed 36,603 podcast episodes from 79 political talk shows released before Jan. 22, 2022 — checked each episode’s transcript for keywords associated with common falsehoods debunked by fact checkers, The New York Times explained.
Researchers found that nearly 20 percent of Bannon’s episodes contained falsehoods, misleading statements, or unsubstantiated claims. The study also found that Conservative podcasters contained these things 11 times more often than liberal podcasters.
The other conservative podcasters found to contain the highest percentage of false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims included Sean Hannity, Rudy Giuliani, Charlie Kirk, Steven Crowder, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Daniel Horowitz, and co-hosts Clay Travis and Buck Sexton.
Bannon called the report’s findings a “badge of honor,” stating, “What they call disinformation or misinformation we consider the truth. And time is proving us out.”
The study also highlights the role that Big Tech companies like Apple, Google, Spotify, and others play in disseminating such disinformation and using algorithms that recommend these podcasts to audiences of millions. These companies’ policies banning misinformation and hate speech are “vague and poorly enforced, allowing false content to spread,” the Times reported.
Bannon co-founded the right-wing news site Breitbart and served as chief executive officer of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He also served as White House chief strategist and senior counselor to the president from January 2017 until August 18, 2017 when Trump fired him.
In January 2018, Bannon was quoted in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House as calling Trump “a crooked business guy” and a “scumbag.”
Afterward, Trump released a public statement, saying, “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” adding, “Steve had very little to do with our historic victory.” Trump later referred to Bannon as “Sloppy Steve” on Twitter and claimed that he “cried when he got fired and begged for his job.”
In August 2020, Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering connected to the We Build the Wall campaign, a $25 million GoFundMe crowdfunding that claimed to be raising funds to help Trump construct a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump had originally said that the Mexican government would entirely pay for such a wall.
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JP Morgan Aided Jeffrey Epstein’s Child Sex-Trafficking Operation, Lawsuit Says
The U.S. Virgin Islands’ attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the investment banking company JP Morgan, alleging that it “turned a blind eye” to money and clients brought in by millionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex trafficking operation.
Epstein — who was arrested on child sex trafficking charges in July 2019 and then died in prison under questionable circumstances one month later — owned the Little St. James island in the U.S. Virgin Islands territory. There, his accusers say, he trafficked and raped girls as young as age 14 alongside a wealthy group of friends and associates.
In the lawsuit, U.S. Virgin Islands’ Attorney General Denise George said that JP Morgan “knowingly facilitated, sustained, and concealed the human trafficking network operated by Jeffrey Epstein” and “financially benefitted from this participation,” Insider reported.
The lawsuit alleges that one of Epstein’s accounts with the company, named Southern Trust, was “a conduit for payment to foreign women, credit cards, airplanes, and other instrumentalities.” The company failed to comply with “red flag” laws that would’ve required its employees to investigate questionable payments, the lawsuit alleges. JP Morgan’s senior-level employees “advocated and approved” of this oversight, the lawsuit claims.
Epstein — who had connections to former Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton as well as British Royal Prince Andrew — was found hanging and dead in his prison cell on August 9, 2019. Though his death was ruled a suicide, the two cameras in front of his cell reportedly malfunctioned on the night of his death, according to Reuters, raising suspicions that he may have been murdered.
“President Joe Biden signed into law Tuesday (the bipartisan Prison Camera Reform Act) a bill requiring the federal Bureau of Prisons to overhaul outdated security systems and fix broken surveillance cameras after rampant staff sexual abuse, inmate escapes and high-profile deaths,” the Associated Press reported.
The bill requires the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to evaluate its security cameras, radios, and public address systems at 122 facilities and to repair them within three years.
In related “Broken prison camera systems are enabling corruption, misconduct and abuse,” said the legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga. “That’s why I brought Republicans and Democrats together to pass my Prison Camera Reform Act, which is now law.”
Far-Right Blasts Fox News’ Sean Hannity for Saying He Never Believed Trump’s Big Lie
Far-right figures have turned against Fox News host Sean Hannity after he admitted in legal testimony that he never believed that the 2020 election had been “stolen” from former President Donald Trump.
When giving a deposition in Dominion Voting Systems’s defamation case against Fox News, Hannity said, “I did not believe it for one second,” referring to Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that an unprecedented nationwide conspiracy of voter fraud “stole” the election from him.
Dominion lawyer Stephen Shackelford told The New York Times that Hannity’s fellow Fox News host Tucker Carlson also didn’t believe Trump’s claims. But far-right figures have decided to blast Hannity for his comment.
Former Trump lawyer Lin Wood, who repeated Trump’s fraud claims, told The Daily Beast that he is “very disappointed” and “unhappy” with Hannity, especially after Hannity allegedly told him in a text exchange that he believed Democrats had stolen the election.
MyPillow CEO and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell told the publication, “[Hannity is] a terrible journalist…. He doesn’t seem to have any concern over any election problems in the country, and it’s disgusting.”
Stew Peters, a far-right broadcaster who regularly hosts anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theorists, called Hannity a “clown” for his disbelief in election fraud, stating, “He regularly washes and dries [former Republican National Committee Chair] Reince Priebus and [former Trump White House Press Secretary] Sean Spicer’s jock straps.”
Other Trump advisers badmouthed Hannity to the Beast. But it’s unlikely that their criticisms will do anything to remove Hannity from his perch at the right-wing Fox News network.
Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation case against Fox News in 2021, alleging that the media outlet repeated Trump’s baseless claims about their machines helping Democrats steal the election. The negative press cost the voting machine manufacturer millions in lost business, Dominion’s lawsuit states.
“Fox News Bankrolls” Super-Bigoted Anti-LGBTQ Interview with Libs Of TikTok Founder Chaya Raichik
In her recently released interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Chaya Raichik, the bigot behind the Libs of TikTok social media account, accused LGBTQ people and their allies of grooming children for sexual abuse.
One activist called Carlson and Raichik’s conversation “one of the most bigoted interviews I’ve ever heard.”
“The LGBTQ community has become this cult and it’s so captivating, and it pulls people in so strongly, unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Raichik told Carlson in the hour-long interview, released Tuesday on the Fox Nation streaming platform, which was developed by Fox News. “They brainwash people to join and they convince them of all of these things, and it’s really, really hard to get out of it.”
“They’re just evil,” she said of LGBTQ people at another point. “They’re bad people. They’re just evil people and they want to groom kids. They’re recruiting.”
During the interview, Raichik repeated her long-held talking points, accusing teachers, parents, activists, and doctors of “sexualizing” children through LGBTQ content in media, “anti-white racism,” and gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth.
“There are a lot of parents who let their kids [express their gender identity]. And there are a lot of parents who are grooming their kids into doing this,” Raichik said. “There are a lot of parents who are told that either you have a dead kid or you have a trans kid, so it’s really coming from higher up than just the parents.”
She said “the hatred that the left has and their violent nature” required her to hide her face until now.
Harvard Law School instructor Alejandra Caraballo commented on the interview via Twitter, writing, “This is one of the most bigoted interviews I’ve ever heard.”
Brandon Wolf, press secretary for Equality Florida and a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, wrote of the interview, “[Fox News] bankrolls it. Amplifies it. Then calls you a liar when violence ensues,” The Advocate reported.
This interview with the creator of Libs Of TikTok is sick. @TuckerCarlson nods along as she says that LGBTQ people are all “evil pedophiles” recruiting to a “cult.”@FoxNews bankrolls it. Amplifies it. Then calls you a liar when violence ensues. https://t.co/94UK7a1beM
— Brandon Wolf (@bjoewolf) December 27, 2022
Raichik worked with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to help push disinformation and public sentiment in favor of DeSantis’ infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill which bans any mention of LGBTQ identities in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.
Raichik’s tweets and videos targeting LGBTQ people have led to bombing and death threats against gender-affirming medical professionals and venues that host drag queen performances. She has claimed that her work isn’t responsible for the violence against these communities.
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