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Energy company busted for hiring actors to pose as activists in New Orleans

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An investigation uncovering a company that pays actors to pose as activists takes the concept of “paid protester” from right-wing fever dream to reality.

The Poynter Institute highlighted the work of journalists at The Lens, a New Orleans news outlet that investigated orange shirt-wearing individuals who attended city council meetings about a slated power plant project — and discovered that they weren’t what they seemed.

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The nonprofit website reported that many of the people who attended those meetings in support of the plant project by the Entergy Corporation were hired by the Los Angeles-based company “Crowds on Demand.”

“At least four of the people in orange shirts were professional actors. One actor said he recognized 10 to 15 others who work in the local film industry,” Michael Isaac Stein of the Lens wrote based on interviews with actors and screenshots provided to the nonprofit outlet. “They were paid $60 each time they wore the orange shirts to meetings in October and February. Some got $200 for a ‘speaking role,’ which required them to deliver a pre-written speech.”

Keith Keough, one of the people hired by Crowds on Demand for the Entergy meetings, told the Lens he was paid “every time someone said something against wind and solar power.”

The Lens also acquired what it believes is Crowds on Demand’s non-disclosure agreement for actors that repeatedly tells them to “tell nobody you’re being paid.”

Along with the Lens‘ investigation, other New Orleans-based groups and individuals — including Michael Brown, an attorney for the city’s Sierra Club chapter — delved into the backgrounds of the orange-clad protesters holding signs in favor of the Entergy plant that often showed up to council meetings in such numbers that others could not enter the chambers. They all reached the same conclusion as Brown: “there was something off.”

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When asked about the actors, Entergy initially denied they’d hired them and then blamed The Hawthorn Group, a public relations firm it had hired. An internal document revealed that Hawthorn appeared to instruct Entergy to deny the allegations, and called one paid demonstrator that went on the record “delusional or lying.”

In light of the revelations, the New Orleans City Council is investigating Entergy’s alleged use of actors at its meetings and may reconsider the contract for their latest power plant.

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‘Rather than leading — he lies’: MSNBC panel says Trump is a ‘danger to the country’ because he can’t be trusted

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MSNBC commentators, former assistant US Attorney Maya Wiley and Rick Wilson, explained that President Donald Trump's most significant barrier is making it past his own lies to save America from the coronavirus.

"There's a case tonight being tested in Walton County, Florida. The heart of Trump country," said Wilson, referring to the panhandle county east of Pensacola. "That's not going to be something you can just walk away from if it turns out to be a real case. We're seeing these things popping up all over. The safe bet was always to say, 'This could be bad. We'll do everything we can to stop it.' But he can't stop himself from self-aggrandizing and lying about things. And it's actually -- setting aside my normal criticism of Trump -- this is a danger to the country that he is not a trustworthy person for the American people. Even people who like him now he BS's them all the time. Now, if he says it's not a problem and people are being hospitalized, it is a problem."

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Trump ‘just wants this problem to go away’: President desperate to get coronavirus ‘off his plate’

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President Donald Trump is desperate for the coronavirus problem to go away, and he doesn't exactly care how it happens.

According to New York Times reporter Annie Karni, sources are telling her that the biggest concern Trump has is more about the markets than the deaths of Americans from the virus.

"First, let's establish, this is a president who tried to change science with a Sharpie when it came to hurricane path prediction," said MSNBC host Brian Williams. "That picture lasts forever."

"Even his allies on Fox and his allies outside the White House were kind of channeling to that proverbial audience of one that this was a great opportunity to look presidential and to tell the facts," said Karni. The Donald Trump we saw out there in the briefing room was very casual, kind of left the facts to the other people that accompanied him out there. But he clearly publicly and privately just wants this problem to go away. He wants to downplay it. He thinks -- he has called people who are talking about fears about it alarmist. He doesn't want to be alarmist, and he's kind of holding on to any comment that makes it sound like this will naturally be a problem that is removed from his plate. That's what we saw publicly, and that's what he's been saying privately as well."

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Seth Meyers: You know Trump isn’t the chief law enforcement officer because he couldn’t pass the physical

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"Late Night" host Seth Meyers warned that the United States is sliding into authoritarianism under President Donald Trump.

Sounding the alarm Wednesday evening, Meyers cited reports that Trump was making lists of disloyal people, purging them from their jobs, hiring unqualified cronies in top posts, and claiming he has the right to interfere in criminal cases.

While speaking to the press last week, Trump even announced that he's allowed to be involved in all criminal cases because he's the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. It's actually a title used for the attorney general.

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