Thursday, January 19, 2017


The Daily Beast's Ben Collins reports:
News anchor Ben Swann aired a six-minute “investigation” into Pizzagate in America’s ninth-largest TV market on Tuesday night.

“Media is telling you the entire story is a hoax or fake news, but what does that even mean?” Swann asked on the 11 p.m. newscast of Atlanta’s CBS affiliate. He was referring to the debunked conspiracy theory spread by 4chan and InfoWars that Clinton campaign chief John Podesta is connected to a child sex ring in the basement of a pizza shop that has no basement.

This isn't the first dubious report Swann has done for the Atlanta CBS affiliate:
Last month, in a CBS 46 “Reality Check” segment that went viral on Facebook, Swann asked “If (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad is Committing Genocide in Aleppo, Why Are People Celebrating in the Streets?” The segment has garnered over 67,000 shares on Facebook alone.
And he carried this conspiratorialism over from an earlier job:
In his last job at Russian state-TV outfit Russia Today in 2015, he reported that “any credible evidence does not seem to exist” that Russia shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, simply that it “fit the narrative the U.S. administration was hoping for.” On his own YouTube channel he said he had “major problems with the theory” that the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings were each conducted by “lone gunmen.”

“There’s a good reason to question this whole narrative: There’s been no evidence so far provided by police, other than what they’ve told us,” he said in his Sandy Hook truther video.
The Beast story refers to RT as Swann's "former employer." (Media Matters notes that he got the Atlanta CBS gig in June 2015.) But there's something curious about this. If you go to Swann's personal page,, or to his benswanncommentary page on Facebook, you'll see that literally every entry ends with the following:
Read Full Article at
RT - Daily news
Links are included. If Swann is no longer cashing an RT paycheck, he's awfully nice to the people who are totally no longer employing him.

Swann also has a hell of a lot of stories about Vladimir Putin at, including stories with headlines such as "Putin: Russian military not threatening anybody, we are protecting our borders" and "Putin demonized for thwarting neocon plan for global domination."

Swann posts a lot of dodgy material at his Truth in Media site. Here's a September 11 truther post titled "More Americans Are 'Rethinking' 9/11?" Here are several posts that are skeptical about vaccines. The Beast story tells us that Truth in Media
shares a contact phone number with a prominent member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a tax-exempt 527 political committee....

The phone number listed under the contact section on Truth in Media’s website belongs to Joshua Cook, who previously used the same number as a contact for South Carolina’s Republican Liberty Caucus in the political organization’s press releases....

Cook was the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Liberty Caucus as recently as 2014, and he is currently listed as a committee member on RLC’s national website. Cook has written more than 500 articles on Truth in Media’s website since Swann founded it in 2013, while serving as RLC’s South Carolina chairman or national committee member.

In 2013, the Republican Liberty Caucus posted an interview with Swann on its website titled “RLC Joins Forces with Ben Swann’s Truth in Media Project.”
Swann also did a vaccine truther segment for a previous employer, RBN, which employed Swann as a radio host. RBN's site still hosts this video:

Media Matters tells us this about RBN:
In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center profiled RBN and its owner, John Stadtmiller, as part of a series on the anti-government Patriot movement. SPLC reported that RBN’s “talk radio fare is peppered with warnings about enslavement by a one-world government” and highlighted that RBN broadcasted a show hosted by “Michael Collins Piper, who has written copiously for the anti-Semitic American Free Press and its predecessor, The Spotlight, as well as The Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial journal.” ...

The Anti-Defamation League also criticized RBN in 2010, stating that it “regularly features programs hosted by anti-Semites.” ...

In 2014, when Swann joined RBN, his colleagues included several anti-Semite radio hosts.

During Swann’s tenure, the station broadcasted The American Freedom Party Report w/ James Kelso. SPLC calls Kelso “David Duke’s former right-hand man” and describes the American Freedom Party as “a political party initially established by racist Southern California skinheads that aims to deport immigrants and return the United States to white rule.”

RBN also broadcasted Current Issues w/ Dr. Hesham Tillawi. According to the Anti-Defamation League, a televised version of his radio show “has become a megaphone for Holocaust deniers and white supremacists seeking to broadcast their hatred and anti-Semitism into American homes. Tillawi has hosted a ‘who’s who’ of American anti-Semites on his show, including David Duke, Willis Carto, Edgar J. Steele, Mark Weber and Bradley Smith.”

Remember all this when your right-wing Facebook friends start hectoring you to watch Swann's report.


Victor said...

And next on CBS Atlanta's "The News Hour," Dr. Hannibal Lechter will investigate if Chianti is really the best choice to go with fava beans, when you're having an old friend for dinner.

The New York Crank said...

If you connect the dots between Swann's shoulders, his left hand, his right hand, the crotch of his trousers and his nose at various points as he moves about during this very animated standup, you'll find they they, too, make the triangula man-boy love signal, and at other times these points can be connected to make a rudimentary swasticka and a hammer and sickle.

Yet nobody — not CBS, not the police, not even the FBI have investigated this. Coincidence, or coded messages? I'm not making any accusations that Swann is a child-abusing pederast and either a communist or a nazi sympathizer. I only wonder why he's using these subliminal devices. And that's my unbiased report for the evening.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

duquesne_pdx said...

I wonder where the station managing editor was in all of this. Stories get approved before they go on the air, or generally even starting an investigation. It takes time and money and a lot of people working to get a story on the air. So who approved this?

More generally, who approved Swann's hire in the first place? None of the articles and sites were hidden. Just a little time spent vetting this guy pre-hire would have shown he's a conspiracy nutjob with white supremacist leanings. That should have been an instant, "don't call us, we'll call you" for Swann. And yet he's hired and airing conspiracy theories on network news in a large market.

CBS corporate can't be very happy about this. They do have some standards. I'd expect to hear about Swann and several of the higher-ups at the ATL station to be fired in the near future.