'60 Minutes' faces pushback for giving Oath Keepers a platform to push lies

A segment on CBS News' "60 Minutes" segment about the Oath Keepers, which aired on Sunday evening, has attracted considerable pushback on Twitter and elsewhere from viewers who criticized its reporting on the far-right militia group's role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The exposé from "60 Minutes" correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi highlighted the Oath Keepers' role in organizing the Jan. 6 riot while also highlighting the apparent split between the largest chapter of the Oath Keepers and the group's founder, Stewart Rhodes, who launched the organization in March of 2009.

Within the segment, one Oath Keepers member in Arizona, Jim Arroyo, told Alfonsi that the group works closely with law enforcement, since many of the paramilitary organization members are former police officers or ex-military personnel. "Our guys are very experienced. We have active-duty law enforcement in our organization that are helping to train us. We can blend in with our law enforcement, and in fact, in a lot of cases, our training is much more advanced because of our military backgrounds." Arroyo declared during the segment.

According to FBI counterterrorism official Javed Ali, that claim made by Arroyo at least partly holds true: The Oath Keepers have a "large percentage" of members who "have tactical training and operational experience in either the military or law enforcement," he said. "That at least gives them a capability that a lot of other people in this far-right space don't have," Ali added.

Arroyo, the Arizona Oath Keepers leader, later in the interview attempted to distance himself from Rhodes, the founder of the group, who on Jan. 6 was spotted on the Capitol steps and was later found to have helped members of his militia group plot the siege.

"I want to congratulate Stewart Rhodes and his 10 militia buddies for winning first place in the ultimate dumbass contest, because that's what it was," Arroyo said. "That goes against everything we have ever taught, everything we believe in. It was pre-planned; it was pre-staged. Ten guys go and do something stupid, and suddenly we're the devil."

Many on Twitter perceived the segment as allowing Arroyo and other members of the Oath Keepers to divert blame and minimize their role in the events of Jan. 6.

"This is the same group being dismantled at the moment for their role in 1/6, but sure, give them a massive platform and free media. Real fricking brilliant," national security lawyer Bradley P. Moss, a partner at the law firm Mark S. Zaid, PC, wrote on Twitter. Former Yahoo News White House reporter Hunter Walker tweeted, "Not sure why the Oath Keepers are being given air time to downplay their role on 1/6."

Sophia Nelson, a contributing editor at the Grio, responded to the segment on Twitter writing, "Shame on CBS for giving this monster a platform and voice."

Right-wing media keeps on trying to justify the killing of Daunte Wright

On Sunday, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was pulled over for a traffic stop, apparently because of an expired registration, only to be shot and killed by a police officer who allegedly mistook her firearm for a taser. As the Minneapolis area grieves over Wright's killing, which has sparked volatile demonstrations throughout the small suburb of Brooklyn Center, national right-wing media has taken to the scene to defend the officer who allegedly murdered Wright.

During his Monday night program, Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield proposed that the officer's action in shooting Wright could be "warranted." "Now let me be clear, even though the officer apparently is admitting to making a mistake, an argument could still be made that deadly force was warranted here," Stinchfield stated on his Monday night program. "Fighting officers like you just saw, you could argue, any officer could feel like they were in imminent threat, imminent body harm could come at any moment. There is no duty by the way to deploy a taser, an officer can go to their firearm first, and many do."

Conservative Twitter pundit John Cardillo, currently embroiled in a feud with Roger Stone, attempted to present Wright negatively, which even drew the ire of the right-wing blog RedState, which called Cardillo out over his tweet. "Cardillo, like so many others, wants you to buy into the idea of the scary black man with a gun in order to deflect away from what was more obviously bad policing," RedState blogger Joe Cunningham wrote on Tuesday.

The media's #DaunteWright as opposed to the real Daunte Right.
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) April 12, 2021

Conservative pundit and frequent Newsmax guest Terrence Williams tweeted, "#DaunteWright was charged for illegally carrying a pistol and fleeing a peace officer. He had a history of resisting and doing illegal things. This man did not get pulled over for having air freshener in his car. That's a HOAX."

Fox News contributor Dan Bongino also downplayed the incident, which many have seen as an illustration of the larger problem of police violence against Black Americans, while debating Geraldo Rivera on Monday night. "You have no idea that there's a racial undertone to this at all. And you're saying, 'Oh, Black parents have to worry because …' You have no data to back that up at all!" Bongino claimed. "You're just further inflaming the situation, and the country will burn to the ground because of people like you who say dumb things like that with no evidence to back it up."

Almost EVERYONE is Ignoring, Skipping or "Just not Going There" about the Criminal Daunte Wright, who Resisted Arrested, Ran Away! (Black cop was placing him under arrest btw)—it is BAD that he was shot, should NOT have happened—he should have listened to his MOM. Don't run!
— Greg Kelly (@gregkellyusa) April 16, 2021

Fox News contributor Leo Terrell stated on Twitter, "Race card is played in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota ... Shameful!!!" "Daunte Wright was: An adult, with a warrant, for a gun crime, who resisted arrest. These are empirical facts," right-wing radio host Sebastian Gorka wrote on Instagram while attaching a photo of Wright with what appears to be a gun in his hands. Conservative Twitter personality and former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik tweeted, "#DaunteWright was stopped by a black cop because he had a warrant for robbing a woman at GUNPOINT! He then resisted arrested (sic) in an attempt to escape. #WhiteSupremacy had nothing to do with it."

While some conservative pundits have gone on the defensive about the deadly incident, calling it a mere "accident," others have stayed silent on the issue and focused on the tension between demonstrators and police in Brooklyn Center during the nighttime hours over the past week.

On Thursday, there was even an unlikely change of course for one staunch conservative who called out Wright's killing. Pat Robertson, the right-wing televangelist, broke with the consensus and ripped into policing in America. "The police, why don't they open their eyes to what the public relations are? We've got to stop this stuff," Robertson stated.

When the police are starting to lose the approval of Pat Robertson, you know things are bad.
— Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) April 15, 2021

Watch Sacha Baron Cohen flee a 'violent situation' in new 'Borat' specials

Brace yourself, Rudy Giuliani. Fervent fans of the Oscar-nominated "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" are about to get much more of the Kazakh reporter's antics.

On Thursday, Amazon released a trailer for the studio's upcoming "Borat Supplemental Reportings Retrieved From Floor Of Stable Containing Editing Machine." As the verbose but helpful title indicates, additional bonus footage of Amazon's hit film will be coming to the streaming platform, packaged as multiple specials. The releases will feature never-before-seen insights into parts of the film that ended up on the cutting room floor.

The sequel "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" had caught numerous headlines after the scene of Borat's daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova) – duping former President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani into sharing time alone with her in a bedroom – went viral. Upon the film's release, America's mayor lashed out, alternately insisting that he was just tucking in his pants and calling the entire scene a "hit job." Baron Cohen has continued to troll Giuliani on social media and even in various acceptance speeches.

While it's not clear if there will be more of Giuliani to be had in the specials, according to the studio, the new footage will "reveal some of the danger and high wire acts that went into the creation" of the comedy.

Indeed, Baron Cohen had often spoken about how he had feared for his life during the filming of the sequel. In the trailer released for the "Supplemental Reportings" below, we can hear his real voice and accent as he breaks character fleeing an event.

"Go, go, go. Just keep going because if you stop you're going to get into a violent situation," he says.

But not everything will be quite as dramatic. "The specials include new footage from Borat's lockdown house with Jim and Jerry, the housemates with whom Baron Cohen (as Borat) lived for several days in the peak of the pandemic," adds the press release.

The trailer hints at more of those scenes in their cabin, including when Borat discovers how Amazon's "Alexa" device works (synergy!). We also catch glimpses of additional scenes with Tutar at a makeup store, and Borat incognito at the March for Our Rights event in Olympia, Washington.

"I am looking out on this diverse crowd with every shade of white, all waving machine guns," Borat says, addressing the crowd. "I have never felt safer."

Take a look:

Borat Supplemental Reportings - Official Trailer | Prime Video

A date has yet to be announced for the specials' release.

"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" has earned a slew of awards and is also nominated for two Oscars: best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress for breakout star Maria Bakalova. The Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, April 25.

REVEALED: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are advisers to new right-wing think tank loaded with cash

On Tuesday, it was reported that a group of former advisers to Donald Trump, with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's guidance, would launch a new right-wing nonprofit aimed at "perpetuating former President Trump's populist policies," according to Axios. The new foundation is just the latest in a long string of recent announcements about Trump-centered think-tank-style organizations popping up in Washington aimed at doing Trump's bidding, all while the former president attempts to maintain control of the Republican Party from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

The new nonprofit America First Policy Institute, which lists Ivanka Trump and Kushner as "informal advisors," will boast a 35-person crew with an operating budget of $20 million in its first year. In a flashy ad, the group claims it will be "the heart of [an] effort" to save the "soul of this country."

The group's noteworthy hires include former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who will serve as the organization's vice chair, former Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. "In the coming months, the group plans to take a large office space near the U.S. Capitol as a symbol that it'll fight to be a muscular, well-heeled center of the future of conservatism," Axios further reported.

Furthermore, the group seemingly seeks to impact conversations in the nation's capital the very same way the conservative think-tank heavyweight, The Heritage Foundation, has long done in D.C. policy, potentially sparking a rivalry between the two non-profits. Heritage recently hired former Vice President Mike Pence, but it remains to be seen exactly how it will seek to influence policy on Capitol Hill in a post-Trump era.

Asked by Salon about the new pro-Trump group, Heritage vice president of communications Rob Bluey said his organization looks forward to working with America First Policy. "The Heritage Foundation congratulates the talented team at America First Policy Institute and we look forward to working with them on a range of policy issues. Heritage already has strong relationships with many of America First Policy Institute's leaders, including Brooke Rollins, from their service in the Trump administration," Bluey told Salon via email on Thursday. "Heritage has a long history of cooperating on policy solutions with conservative organizations. The America First Policy Institute and the other new conservative groups in Washington are welcome allies. It's more important than ever to work together on positive solutions for the American people while also countering the left-wing agenda from the White House and woke corporations."

While the America First Policy Institute appears to be the largest and most prominent pro-Trump think tank to emerge since the former president left office, there is a series of other groups in D.C. being launched. Pence announced in early April that he would start his own think tank called Advancing American Freedom, alongside such Trump allies as Kudlow and Kellyanne Conway. "Advancing American Freedom plans to build on the success of the last four years by promoting traditional Conservative values and promoting the successful policies of the Trump Administration," Pence said in a statement upon the group's launch.

Another group that looks to shape a post-Trump Washington includes a legal enterprise founded by anti-immigration Trump adviser Stephen Miller, the America First Legal Foundation, which aims to give the Biden administration headaches in the courts. "Those who believe in America First must not shy away from using our legal system to defend our society and our families from any unlawful actions by the left," Miller said in a statement on the group's launch. "Those looking to hold the new administration in Washington to account finally have their answer. Our self-imposed policy of legal disarmament is now over." Miller's group says it will aim to hamstring the Democratic agenda by creating a coalition of attorneys and state attorneys general dedicated to stalling or stopping Biden's policies from being implemented.

The new Trump organizations come on the heels of the apparent collapse of Charlie Kirk and Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Falkirk Center at Liberty University, amid the growing scandal around Falwell that has driven away Kirk and several other pro-Trump figures. "Now, less than two years later, Falkirk's high-profile founders are gone, and Liberty is rethinking the center's future in a post-Trump world," The New York Times reported.

Although The Falkirk Center claimed to be a conservative think tank, it has operated more as a communications firm, fixated on cable news hits on Fox News and having its "Falkirk fellows" promote the center on social media. That said, it often appears that right-wing media is precisely where conservative discussions of policy occur, although often boiled down to the most simplistic and incendiary talking points.

Right-wing radio rivalry breaking out: Which radio host is Rush Limbaugh's true heir?

In the world of right-wing media, all pundits aspire to impact and direct the conservative movement as the late Rush Limbaugh did. Following the clown prince of right-wing radio's demise, several radio hosts and media moguls have begun scrimmaging over Limbaugh's daily radio time slot, and the title of conservative radio kingpin.

Shortly after Limbaugh's death in February, figures such as Dan Bongino, Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, and Sebastian Gorka could all be found elbowing each other for room in the dog-eat-dog world of conservative talk radio.

In the middle of March, Bongino announced that his new radio show would fill the time slot Limbaugh left behind, although broadcasting on a different channel. "The Dan Bongino Show," starting on May 24, will begin airing in "select markets" from 12 to 3 p.m. Eastern. That hasn't stopped Kirk, the Turning Point USA founder, from seizing a piece of the action, also claiming he is taking over Limbaugh's time slot on terrestrial radio, via yet another channel.

"What an honor to join @77WABCRadio, New York — the flagship station of the Great Rush Limbaugh," Kirk tweeted on April 9. "Tune in every weekday from 12 EST for coverage, updates, and analysis from the frontlines of the American Culture War, only on The Charlie Kirk Show." Kirk's program will be just an hour, from 12 to 1 p.m. Eastern.

"I am thrilled and honored to take the same time and station where my friend and American hero Rush Limbaugh launched his national radio show in 1988," Kirk said in a statement.

Asked on Wednesday whether Bongino and Kirk were contesting who really occupies the coveted Limbaugh timeslot, TPUSA and Kirk spokesperson Andrew Kolvet said that both Kirk and Bongino are "pulling in the same direction," despite competing on opposite channels and broadcasting at the same time. "There is no other Rush, nor will there ever be. He was one of a kind. But Rush and Charlie were good friends, and he is honored to be one of the hosts picking up his mantle," Kolvet told Salon. "Rush inspired Charlie to get into podcasting and radio. Dan is a great radio host and also a friend. They will be on separate stations, yes, but pulling in the same direction."

Neither Bongino nor Shapiro returned Salon's requests for comment.

While both Bongino and Kirk are advertising themselves as heirs to Limbaugh's throne, Premiere Networks, the company that syndicated Limbaugh's radio show around the nation, told Salon on Wednesday it hasn't tapped anyone to fill Limbaugh's slot. "No one can replace Rush Limbaugh, and Premiere Networks will continue to provide millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush Limbaugh for the long term," Rachel Nelson, Premiere's vice president of public relations, told Salon. "We have a variety of familiar voices who are guiding the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including Todd Herman, Ken Matthews, Jason Lewis, and Brett Winterble. With over 30 years of audio, Rush has a definite view on any and every topic."

Kirk and Bongino have been upfront about their efforts to fill Limbaugh's time slot. Shapiro has been quieter but remains an immensely influential conservative voice who reaches millions through his syndicated radio program managed by Westwood One, the same firm that handles Bongino's radio syndication. As for Sebastian Gorka, he must be considered a long shot to claim Limbaugh's mantle. Unlike Kirk, Shapiro, and Bongino, Gorka has been banned from YouTube, which greatly reduces his national reach.

Can any of these younger right-wing pundits unite the massive conservative audience Limbaugh commanded for so many years? That seems unlikely in this new media age of micro-niches and narrowcasting, but only time will tell.

As NRA was bleeding money, it offered Dan Bongino $1.5 million for failing TV channel

Newly released court documents allege that in 2018, the National Rifle Association and its CEO Wayne LaPierre approved a $1.5 million dollar contract to keep then-NRATV host Dan Bongino on for the 2019 calendar year at the NRA's failing TV outlet. This came as the gun rights organization was falling deeper into financial troubles over the course of 2018.

A legal document obtained by Salon and filed by Ackerman McQueen, the NRA's longtime PR agency, in the gun group's ongoing bankruptcy case in Texas, contains a list of commitments that Ackerman alleges the NRA "refused to honor." It then claims that at an October 2018 meeting in Dallas, "LaPierre approved NRATV for the 2019 budget year, including Dan Bongino's $1.5 million contract (which Mr. Bongino ultimately turned down)."

According to reporting by The Daily Beast, Bongino was "dropped" by NRATV around the end of 2018, but Ackerman McQueen's new legal filings suggest that was not in fact the case.

Reached for comment by Salon about the $1.5 million offer and about whether LaPierre ever told him about the NRA's financial struggles, Bongino responded angrily. "I typically send your ridiculous inquiries to junk because I think so little of you, and your drifting," Bongino wrote. Then he observed, in his colorful style, that the court documents show that the Daily Beast's reporting three years back may have been inaccurate.

"Liberal media morons, and their blind, gullible, imbecilic followers breathlessly reported for years that I was 'fired' from NRATV, or 'dropped,' as the disingenuous Daily Beast put it," Bongino wrote. "Now that court documents have surfaced to completely refute this b*llsh*t story, you send me an email asking for comment on the NRA? You guys are a pathetic joke. Your parents must be horrified at what they spawned."

In light of the NRA's bankruptcy petition in Texas, which is now being heard in court and has yielded some unfavorable moment court for both the organization and LaPierre, one gun safety group argues that the $1.5 million Bongino deal offers more evidence of the NRA's "egregious spending."

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, told Salon the alleged Bongino offer further illustrates the NRA's financial ineptitude. "Offering Bongino $1.5 million to be on its faux-TV-network, that no one watched, is yet another example of the NRA's egregious spending and financial mismanagement, which have led them into multiple investigations and lawsuits culminating with the disastrous ongoing bankruptcy trial," Watts said.

Former Trump official banned from YouTube over election conspiracy theories

Former Trump White House senior adviser turned right-wing radio host Sebastian Gorka was permanently booted off of YouTube over the weekend after receiving his third strike on the platform in 90 days for touting unhinged election conspiracy theories.

Gorka's channel was suspended for misleading users on the platform by pushing the baseless claim that the 2020 election was plagued with widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Salon found the infamous Trump flack, formerly accused of wearing Hungarian pro-Nazi regalia, was pushing voter fraud claims as recently as last week in a video entitled: "Can We Stop the Next Steal?"

YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi told Salon on Monday afternoon that Gorka's channel, where he has live-streamed his "America First" Salem radio show, was terminated over "repeated violations" to the company's "presidential election integrity policy":

In accordance with our long-standing strikes system, we terminated the channel America First with Sebastian Gorka for repeated violations of our presidential election integrity policy. As we've publicly shared, our presidential election integrity policy prohibits content uploaded after last year's safe harbor deadline that alleges widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Any channel that violates this policy will receive a strike, and channels that receive three strikes in the same 90-day period are permanently removed from YouTube, as in the case of America First with Sebastian Gorka.

Gorka didn't return numerous requests for comment from Salon. Salem Media Group, which syndicates Gorka's radio show, also did not return Salon's request for comment. This reporter, until now an avid viewer of Gorka's channel, can only imagine that the onetime White House aide is disappointed. Gorka would frequently brag to his producers whenever he noted a few hundred concurrent viewers watching via YouTube.

Fellow conservative radio host Dan Bongino leapt to Gorka's defense by promoting the latter's channel on Rumble (a conservative-oriented alternative to YouTube) on his daily podcast. "My friend Sebastian Gorka has been targeted by YouTube; they are trying to take his channel down, one of many conservatives under attack by YouTube," Bongino said on his Monday program. "Go check him out on Rumble. ... I feel like what they are doing to him is disgusting."

This isn't the first time Gorka has run into problems with YouTube. In 2019, he was temporarily suspended from the platform because he "refused to stop playing songs from pop-rock band Imagine Dragons on episodes of his radio show that were later uploaded to the site," according to The Daily Beast. The apparent copyright dispute was later resolved, and Gorka subsequently stopped playing music on his YouTube live streams.

But when not on Twitter blocking 16,000 "asshats" or hosting his radio show, the EcoBoost Mustang-driving onetime Trump adviser also hosts a new Sunday night Newsmax show called "The Gorka Reality Check," which recently received a less-than-flattering review in Politico:

Routinized Songs of Praise for President Donald Trump would be a good title for the Gorka TV hour-long show, which debuted on Sunday at 7 p.m. The program, shot cheaply on a no-budget set in front of a Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument screen, consumed its first quarter-hour extolling Trump and Trumpism in the grandest and blandest terms possible ...

There is at least one obvious downside to Gorka's YouTube ban from the platform: Viewers will be denied Canadian prankster Chris James' imaginative efforts to troll the self-professed terrorism expert, whose PhD has been described as "about as legitimate as if he had been awarded it by Trump University."

Even Roger Stone seems to back away from Rep. Matt Gaetz amid growing scandal

Notorious GOP operative and informal Trump adviser Roger Stone, who previously urged embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., to go on "offense" and make cable news appearances, has gone silent on the matter following a series of news reports detailing the widening scandal around the firebrand lawmaker. Stone's apparent pullback comes as former President Trump reportedly rejected an invite to meet with the congressman, and while denizens of TrumpWorld are not precisely flocking to Gaetz's defense.

This article was originally published at Salon

"He needs to go on offense, this is right upfront in Stone's Rules," Stone said on Alex Jones' program on April 2. "The left-wing, non-journalist, fake-news media are the most vicious, malicious, dishonest people that I have ever come across. All of these stories that are maligning Matt Gaetz today are based on leaks. Where is the beef? Where are the facts? I don't think there are any facts. I think this is a good old-fashioned smear." Stone went on to encourage Gaetz to stay in the public eye, not hide in a "hole" and make additional TV appearances.

Roger Stone offers Matt Gaetz potentially disastrous advice (SALON)

"He [Matt Gaetz] should not go hide in a hole, he should be out there, like he was on Tucker [Carlson] last night," Stone declared.

Since Stone's initial remarks, an expositive April 9 report from The Daily Beast outlined that Gaetz allegedly sent a $900 Venmo payment to several young women through Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg in May 2018. Greenberg, a flamboyant figure in Florida politics, has reportedly been under investigation for some time and now faces multiple charges of sex trafficking.

Stone, who at one time posted virtually nonstop on Parler about Gaetz's innocence, has since gone silent on the matter online and in media appearances and hasn't mentioned the Gaetz saga on his newly minted TikTok account. "The 'leaked' smear on Congressman Matt Gaetz is an extortion play and an effort to destroy the up and coming conservative leader who has the balls to call the left out," Stone wrote on Parler at the beginning of the month.

Salon checked in with Stone last Thursday and Friday, seeking to inquire whether he still believes the Florida congressman is innocent. A few days passed, and Salon heard nothing back anything until the above tweet sent out by this reporter, which noted that Stone has gone silent on Gaetz. Shortly after that tweet was sent, Stone responded to Salon early on Monday morning, never directly mentioning the Gaetz scandal but taking swings at the media, a classic Stone tactic.

"Much like Salon, nothing reported in the Daily Beast can be considered either true or accurate," Stone told Salon in an email on Monday. When asked a series of additional questions regarding GaetzGate, Stone simply responded, "Stay tuned."

Body camera footage released in police shooting death of Daunte Wright

On Sunday, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in the small Minneapolis town of Brooklyn Center, over air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror, according to what Wright told his mother, Katie Wright, on the phone before perishing at the scene of the shooting.

"All he did was have air fresheners in the car, and they told him to get out of the car," Wright told The Star Tribune on Sunday. "During the call, she said she heard scuffling and then someone saying 'Daunte, don't run' before the phone call ended. When she called back, her son's girlfriend answered and said Daunte had been shot," The Tribune further reported.

But police following the incident had a different story as to what occurred on the scene. "Police said they tried to take the driver into custody after learning during a traffic stop that he had an outstanding warrant. The man got back into his vehicle, and an officer shot him, police said. They said the man drove several blocks before striking another vehicle," CNN reported.

Following the shooting of Wright on Sunday, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets where they protested Wright's killing at a Minneapolis police officer's hands, with some demonstrators clashing with police.

During a Monday afternoon press conference, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon spoke to the incident that left Wright dead and showed the graphic police body camera footage captured on the scene. "As I watch this video and listen to the officer's commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," the police chief declared. "This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer's reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright." After Gannon's brief remarks, the lights were turned off, and the heart-wrenching body camera footage was played.

(Warning: The video below contains graphic content.)

Body Camera Footage Shows Minnesota Police Shooting Of Daunte Wright | MSNBC

One officer can be seen in the video handcuffing Wright before another officer yells "taser" numerous times before taking out a handgun and shooting Wright. "Oh sh*t, I just shot him," declared after shooting Wright, after the white car rolls away with a fatally shot victim. Gannon added at the Monday presser that the killing was "an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright."

The shooting comes as Minneapolis grapples with Derek Chauvin's trial after the police officer killed George Floyd in May of 2020. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, on Monday afternoon, stated: "We can stop pretending that this is just the natural order of the universe and things happen this way."

The governor added, "There's proven remedies that can be put into place. But that will never happen if we don't at least hold hearings on these things. If we don't at least get ourselves into an uncomfortable position and do what this democracy is supposed to do and debate the hard things."

Now MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell claims he hired 'investigators to look into Fox News

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, one of Fox News' largest advertisers, announced on Steve Bannon's "War Room" podcast on Friday that he has hired a team of "private investigators" to dig into Fox News over the burning issue of why the conservative channel won't let him appear on-air to tout groundless election conspiracy theories.

This article first appeared in Salon.

"I don't remember seeing you on Fox recently. Why are the Murdochs afraid of Dominion?" Bannon began, referring to Dominion Voting Systems, which has filed a massive defamation suit against Lindell, Fox News and various of the network's prominent hosts. "Why is Mike Lindell not on Fox, and why do they seem to say, 'Hey, when Dominion says something, we're just gonna shut up about it and talk about Biden's tax bill'?"

Lindell responded by telling Bannon he has hired private investigators to look into everything from Facebook to Fox News, although the scope of the supposed investigation seemed amorphous. "You know, I'm gonna have those answers soon cause I've hired private investigators, and I've spent a lot of money on them to investigate everything. Why are the bots and trolls, who's behind them? Why is Facebook involved, Wikipedia involved?" Lindell asked. "And then the big question: Why isn't Fox having people on? Why isn't Fox on there talking about Dominion and Smartmatic and the election fraud?"

A Fox News spokesperson didn't return Salon's request for comment on whether the channel plans on cooperating with Lindell's team of private investigators, or has heard about them. Lindell didn't respond to Salon's request to comment on why he still advertises on the network, if he's at war with it.

Poking fun at Lindell hiring investigators to look into Fox News, The Daily Beast's Justin Baragona tweeted that this was: "The sequel to Trump sending 'private investigators' to Hawaii to look into Obama's birth certificate." Others on Twitter likewise mocked Lindell over his effort to investigate the cable giant.

This isn't the first time the pillow maven has railed against the conservative network he advertises on. In late March, Lindell wondered aloud whether Fox News was "in on" the $1.3 billion lawsuit Dominion filed against him. "Why can't people go on there [Fox News] and say their free speech, then?" Lindell asked on a right-wing YouTube channel at the end of March. "You're already sued, Fox. What do you have — are you going to get double sued? What's the matter with you? What, are they in on it? I don't get it. Is it a fake lawsuit?" Lindell stated.

The MyPillow CEO, when not blasting Fox News, has recently claimed that in the coming months Donald Trump will be reinstated as president, although the mechanism for such an extra-constitutional transfer of power is unclear. "What I'm talking about, Steve [Bannon], is what I've been doing since Jan. 9," the pillow maven said in late March. "All the evidence I have — everything is going to go before the Supreme Court, and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye. It was an attack by other countries, communism coming in. I don't know what they're going to do with that after they pull it down. ... Donald Trump will be back in office in August!"

Matt Gaetz's crisis PR firm run by Trump ally who bailed on promise to eat his own shoe: report

Embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has enlisted a small Washington public relations firm to handle a developing scandal that threatens to end his career, involving multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and possible sex trafficking. The firm in question, the Logan Circle Group, consists largely of lower-level Trump allies and is headed by Harlan Hill, a MAGA-world character who thus far has failed to keep his promise to eat his own shoe on a live stream.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

On Thursday night, The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz allegedly sent $900 in payment to several young women via the cash application Venmo, by first sending the money to Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg in May 2018. The Beast further noted that Hill's PR firm has taken up the case of cleaning up Gaetz's mess.

A representative from Logan Circle Group offered the Beast a statement from Gaetz: "The rumors, gossip and self-serving misstatements of others will be addressed in due course by my legal team." Then Logan Circle's Erin Elmore, described as "a pro-Trump pundit and former contestant on 'The Apprentice,'" told Beast reporters that a lawyer would be "closely monitoring" their coverage.

Elmore, who has appeared as a commentator on Newsmax and Fox News, is apparently spearheading the charge to defend Gaetz at the firm and has threatened legal action against various other reporters covering the scandal, according to Politico. A Fox News spokesperson told Salon that Elmore has never been an official contributor to the network, contrary to rumors floating on social media.

Harlan Hill, the president of Logan Circle Group, has achieved minor notoriety for losing a bet but failing to honor his pledge. During an election night party on Nov. 3, Hill made a bet with The Atlantic's McKay Coppins that if Trump lost re-election, he would eat his own shoe on a live stream. Months have passed, and the former president has exhausted all his attempts to overturn the election result, finally retreating to Mar-a-Lago. Hill has yet to fire up a live stream while chowing down on his own loafer.

Back in November of 2020, Hill called former Salon reporter Roger Sollenberger (now at the Daily Beast) "a c*nt" over Sollenberger's fact-check of a false tweet. A month before that, Fox News announced that Hill would not be allowed to appear on the channel after he called Vice President-to-be Kamala Harris an "insufferable lying bitch."

Hill didn't return a request for comment from Salon for this story. Salon obtained a series of pictures posted to Hill's Instagram page on Thursday, however, that appear to show him enjoying a visit to Donald Trump's golf resort near Miami.

One of Hill's closest allies is former Breitbart editor turned Steve Bannon sidekick Raheem Kassam, whom Hill has described as "my best friend and the only person I'd trust to have my back in the trenches." Kassam now runs a right-wing website called the National Pulse, which has been a stalwart defender of Gaetz through all the twists and turns of the scandal so far.

On Thursday night, Salon reached out to Kassam about a photo posted to his Instagram account that appeared to show him at Trump's Florida resort alongside Hill.

The pro-Trump pundit — who now views Fox News as an enemy — responded with a myriad of furious tweets, direct messages and notes stating he intended to contact Salon editors and sue the publication, attempted to call this reporter 12 times via his Signal number, and then sent an email asserting that his own publication would publish an article about this reporter's lack of "credentials."

"In the morning, we will report that you engaged in a targeted and demonstrably false attempt at a harassment campaign against an accredited reporter," Kassam wrote late on Thursday night. "Do you have a comment? We reached out to your colleagues, subjects, and employers and already have critical comments on the record, which allege you have no credentials as a real news reporter and should not be employed by a news outlet as a result. ... You're a fake news moron."

MyPillow's Mike Lindell has big plans: More movies — and Trump back in the White House

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has no plans of backing down from his fight to prove there was widespread election fraud in 2020 election, despite the total absence of any legitimate evidence. The pillow magnate is now faced with a $1.3 billion dollar lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, but is doubling down on his allegations despite projecting that MyPillow will lose $65 million this year after 22 retailers pulled his products off the shelves.

Lindell has a new plan, not only to expose alleged "widespread voter machine fraud" in the 2020 election but also to stop his business from hemorrhaging cash. MAGA World's favorite bedding manufacturer has turned to right-wing influencers to hawk his products, ranging from the eponymous (and formerly popular) MyPillow to bedsheets and dog beds. From Newsmax hosts Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, better known as "Diamond and Silk," to "pizzagate" conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, Lindell has set up lucrative deals with characters in the lower depths of conservative media to push his products, in exchange for commissions on sales revenue.

Lindell believes that by going all-in on selling his products directly to consumers, he can make up for his losses with commercials and online advertising. "We obviously can't get that back; we're going to lose that," Lindell told Business Insider on Sunday, speaking of the financial setbacks his company has already suffered. "We're going to look at other strategies to try and get that revenue back," Lindell said. "We're looking at every space for that. We've expanded so much in radio and podcast. ... It's just booming right now. We hope that that makes up a lot of it."

A spokesperson for MyPillow assured Salon that Lindell would comment for this story, but he did not respond to repeated requests in time for publication.

In other MyPillow news, Lindell has said that his new social media platform, FRANK, which stands for "Free, Forthright, and Sincere Expression of Speech," will be online next week. "Coming next week ... a social media platform like no other!" Lindell wrote in a Parler post his week. The new platform will have plenty of conservative-leaning alternatives to compete against, from Parler to the far-right platform Gab, and eventually, perhaps, Donald Trump's own social platform.

Lindell has also been busy attempting to roll out a series of documentaries based on the holy grail of "exposing" Dominion Voting machines and proving there was "voter fraud" in the 2020 election. The MyPillow CEO began by releasing a two-hour video in February called "Absolute Proof," but apparently it did not live up to its title because he plans to keep going. Detailing his plans during appearances on right-wing YouTube channels, Lindell said he plans to premiere other long-form "films," with titles that include "Absolute Cover-Up" and "Absolute Interference." To date, Lindell has already followed up "Absolute Proof" with another video entitled "Scientific Proof," which features a doctor making data prediction models from the 2010 census, attempting to prove "irregularities" in the 2020 election.

Late in March, Lindell went on something of a tirade as a guest on Steve Bannon's podcast, claiming without explanation that Trump would somehow return to office later this year. Bannon tried to interrupt him, saying, "Hold on a sec, hold on," but Lindell would not be dissuaded, shouting: "Donald Trump will be back in office in August!"

Stephen Miller should be jailed for 'heinous human rights abuses': Congresswoman Veronica Escobar

Texas Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar declared that former senior Trump administration advisor Stephen Miller should be tossed into the big house over his continuous "heinous human rights violations."

This article originally appeared at Salon.

Reflecting on the Trump administration's immigration policy of separating children from their parents, Escobar didn't hold back. "I think Stephen Miller should be behind bars," Escobar said on a recent episode of The Intercept's "Deconstructed" podcast, "I think he committed heinous human rights violations, and I think that those around him who helped plot this out should be held accountable as well."

Miller, who has since turned his focus to frequently appearing on Fox News and running a right-right legal foundation to pester the Biden administration, was a vital part in implementing inhumane immigration policies enacted by the Trump administration governing the Southern Border. Such policies included the "zero-tolerance" immigration stance, which had all immigrants prosecuted and separated from their children.

Escobar conceded that seeing Miller held criminally accountable for policy decisions is unlikely.

"That is going to be very difficult, but it kills me that these people could potentially walk away and even potentially rebuild their reputations," she stated. The congresswoman, who currently sits on the House Judiciary Committee, further ripped into lawmakers that have advocated and implemented Trump's immigration policies, "I find them to be just among the most reprehensible, abhorrent people that our generation could have ever produced."

Additionally, on the podcast, Escobar stated that the difference between the Trump approach and the Biden administration's strategy isn't night and day - but progress has been made in making immigration more humane under Biden's reign. "The Trump administration put up all sorts of obstacles, trying to prevent families from being reunited. The Biden administration is approaching this in the opposite way, doing everything possible quickly and safely to get families who are here in the United States re-united," Escobar stated. "There's progress. Is it still unacceptable, it is, but there is progress."

While talking with The Intercept's D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim on the podcast, Escobar also made sure to assert that if she feels the Biden administration isn't doing enough, she will speak up.

"I am in good frequent communication with the Biden administration on what's happening, and as long as I continue to see progress and movement in the right direction and input from folks on the ground — including advocates and attorneys who shoulder the consequences of horrific policies right alongside their clients and the migrants who they're advocating for — as long as the admin is moving in the right direction, I will keep working with them and will keep providing them with ideas for reform and for forward movement," the lawmaker stated. "But if at any point I feel like we are sliding backward, or there's not absolutely every resource and effort being put toward a more humane and compassionate system that does justice to our values, I will be among the Biden administration's loudest critics."

White nationalist 'groyper' movement links up with anti-vaxxers -- and threatens use of weapons

Young white nationalist leader Nicholas Fuentes and his "groyper army" have joined forces with the coronavirus anti-vaccine community, falsely claiming that COVID-19 vaccines were equivalent to "gene therapy" and attempting to frighten his youthful, largely male audience into believing the government will "own" you if you get the shot. In December, Fuentes said during a live stream that he would be willing to take up arms to ward off being injected with a COVID vaccine, Salon discovered.

Fuentes, who first gained prominence as a leading figure at the notorious 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, leads an "army" of college-aged young men who believe America should become an all-white or white-dominated "ethnostate." He recently held a conference to rival the more mainstream Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), and has heightened his profile and attracted followers by accusing marginally more mainstream pundits like Charlie Kirk and Ben Shapiro of not being true conservatives.

Responding to a "super chatter" (a follower who pays money to ask a question) on Tuesday night about whether or not to get the coronavirus vaccine, the 22-year-old Fuentes responded, "I just want to impress upon you the severity of the situation. You are talking about 'gene therapy' in your veins."

While this is a popular talking point on the far right, coronavirus vaccine do not genetically modify the bodies of humans who take the vaccine. A visiting fellow at Cornell University's Alliance for Science group, Mark Lynas, told Reuters that no vaccine would "genetically modify human DNA." "That's just a myth, one often spread intentionally by anti-vaccination activists to deliberately generate confusion and mistrust," Lynas told Reuters. "Genetic modification would involve the deliberate insertion of foreign DNA into the nucleus of a human cell, and vaccines simply don't do that. Vaccines work by training the immune system to recognize a pathogen when it attempts to infect the body — this is mostly done by the injection of viral antigens or weakened live viruses that stimulate an immune response through the production of antibodies."

Fuentes continued by warning that taking the vaccine could lead to mandated "vaccine passports" — another right-wing talking point — ultimately leaving you "owned" by the government.

"The vaccine passport is coming, and you gotta be willing to say no. You are going to have to say no, or they [the government] own you. And understand we are all in this together; if a lot of people forfeit themselves to the government, then it's over for all of us. They own all of us, and they control all of us," Fuentes declared. "I will never get a COVID vaccine," the white nationalist further tweeted last week.

This pattern, in which Fuentes pushes phony coronavirus claims and discourages his followers from being vaccinated, started last year when Fuentes told his followers he would do just about anything to avoid taking the vaccine — even floating the idea that he would bribe his doctor in order to avoid the shot. "There is no chance in hell, I will ever take a COVID vaccine, no chance," he said, before going on to defend anti-vaxxers, claiming the government was going after them in the media and "censoring" their theories. "The COVID vaccine is injected anally and continues AIDS as well ... and 10k microchips," Fuentes added, in a vein meant to suggest he was at least somewhat joking while still spreading egregious misinformation.

In a mid-December stream last year, Fuentes went a step further and said he would be willing to take up arms to ward off a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate. "There's no way in hell I'm taking the vaccine," he said, "and that to me is a hill worth dying on — and I mean literally dying on that hill. I mean if they are going to come for us and give us the vaccine, we have to be ready to fight them, and not in a political way. We have to be ready to fight people that are going to try to inject us with something — we don't even know what it is. We have to be ready to fight people to do that, physically, in the real world, with weapons."

Fuentes did not return a request for comment from Salon.

His health care advice appears to be making an impression on his loyal followers. "Manipulate my DNA or inject satan juice, nah, I'm good," a user commented, using the live chat feature on Fuentes' stream Tuesday night. "Don't take the mark," one user wrote. "J&J vaccine is made with aborted cells," another user claimed, which is a "partly false" claim that numerous news outlets have debunked.

Megan Squire, a professor at Elon University and a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) senior fellow, who researches far-right extremism and hate groups, told Salon that while it's not surprising to hear Fuentes spout vaccine misinformation, it is "disappointing."

"What really concerned me was him telling his followers that he'd rather die than get the vaccine. That kind of heated rhetoric is beyond unhelpful," Squire told Salon. "Current data shows that 49% of white Republican men are 'vaccine-hesitant.' Nick's followers are definitely mostly male, and they would probably answer a survey as 'Republican.' The only difference is that the America First crowd tends to skew much younger than these general population surveys. But obviously, it is disappointing when any large group obstinately refuses a vaccine for purely political reasons."

SPLC senior investigative reporter Michael Hayden, speaking with Salon on Wednesday afternoon, described the collective influence of Fuentes and others on the far right as "dangerous." Hayden said Fuentes uses social media sites to gain legitimacy as a contrarian, which allows him to then "stoke division."

"It is really about disruption and unleashing chaos and mayhem on people, that's the main thing Fuentes is interested in doing," Hayden said, elaborating that Fuentes sees an opportunity amid a polarized political climate to adopt an outlandish position on the coronavirus vaccine. "So when people like this are seeking to promote themselves and undermine the strength of the United States by telling people vaccines are bad ... that's absolutely dangerous."

When the coronavirus pandemic began, Fuentes initially suggested that white people were likely immune. "The good news is I heard actually that you can't get this if you're white ... You're only really susceptible to this virus if you're Asian," Fuentes said at the time. "I think we'll be OK."

Tucker Carlson complains Capitol rioters are being treated too harshly

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in the wake of the three-month anniversary of the January 6th Capitol siege, downplayed the rioting of pro-Trump vigilantes that dark day in Washington, D.C., all while conspicuously turning the blame on liberals and the media, claiming the Trump supporters that showed up there were a mere "mob of older people from unfashionable zip codes."

"For those of you who are not good at dates or don't have calendars, this is the day that we pause to remember the white supremacist QAnon insurrection, that came so very close to toppling our government and ending this democracy forever," Carlson began on Tuesday night in a rather snarky tone. "You saw what happened. It was carried live on television, every gruesome moment. A mob of older people from unfashionable zip codes somehow made it all the way to Washington, D.C., probably by bus," he further snarked. "They wandered freely through the Capitol like it was their building or something. They didn't have guns, but a lot of them had extremely dangerous ideas."

The Fox host proceeded to really begin spinning and defending the Capitol pro-Trump vigilantes by claiming in a mocking tone that they "committed unspeakable acts of violence." "They talked about the Constitution and something called their rights. Some of them made openly seditious claims," Carlson stated. "They insisted, for example, that the last election wasn't entirely fair. The whole thing was terrifying, and then, as you've been told so very often, they committed unspeakable acts of violence."

In his monologue, the Fox News host went onto defend Eric Munchel, the man famously coined the "zip-tie guy" who was pictured in the Senate gallery, by claiming he and his mother, Lisa Eisenhart, committed no violence and instead, it was the left blowing their actions of trespassing on a federal property out of proportion.

"That ruling came after the DOJ tried to convince a judge that two defendants -- Lisa Eisenhart and her son, Eric Munchel - should face indefinite detention. Neither Lisa Eisenhart nor her son damaged any property at the Capitol or committed any violence. They just walked in to what we used to refer to as the People's House," Tucker stated before turning the blame on Biden's administration. "And yet, somehow, Joe Biden's DOJ convinced a trial judge that Lisa Eisenhart was a 'threat to our Republic' and that her son was a 'would-be martyr.' Keep in mind, these are people whose only crime was trespassing in the Capitol. We're not endorsing that, but some perspective, please."

This isn't the first time Carlson has mocked the media's coverage of the January 6th Capitol riot or sought to direct blame away from Trump supporters. "We may never know the truth here," Carlson said the night after the riot. "I keep seeing all kinds of accounts of who they were and what their motives might have been," hinting at the idea it wasn't Trump supporters that raided the Capitol, but rather a more mysterious force.

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