by Eric Zuesse
This will present a typical example in which the U.S. promotes Al Qaeda and other jihadists, and then honors that promotion by calling this PR not “propaganda” as it really is, but instead outstanding “news reporting,” and then honors that “news reporting,” with prestigious ‘journalism’ awards from the Overseas Press Club, and The Peabody. Throughout, the jihadists in Syria are being referred to in these ‘news’-reports as ‘the rebels’ and they are backed by the U.S. government, and (obviously) also by the aristocracy that own (and advertise in) the ‘news’ media, and whose lobbies also apparently control the President, and the Congress. Deception of the American public, by the American press, is that blatant and that egregious, as will here be documented (but will continue to be suppressed by the ‘free press’ in this ‘democracy’ where the press never exposes its own systematic lying — as will here be shown).
Documentation for everything here will consist of excerpts from the relevant news-reports themselves (so the story will be told by the evidence itself), and will close with excerpts from an AlterNet news report by Ben Norton, which was vastly more worthy of winning journalism awards than anything from CNN (or any of the others) has been, but is suppressed instead of pumped, by the U.S. press. I have added boldface in some places, in order to make easier a reader’s quickly noticing things which will become more important subsequently, in this presentation of excerpts. The excerpts are arranged so as to tell a narrative that makes sense and has continuity.
Excerpts are used here instead of paraphrases, because otherwise an intelligent reader might think that the paraphrases are overstating how appalling the U.S. ‘news’ media are. It’s better for the perpetrators to display their wares, than for someone else to do it for them. So, I let them do it.
Here are those excerpts; here is their story, told by the participants themselves:
The truth about Syria
Undercover behind rebel lines
By Clarissa Ward with Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
[Salma Abdelaziz covers the Middle East for CNN, based in London.]
Updated 1:40 PM ET, Fri March 18, 2016
Rebel-held Syria (CNN) There’s a sickening moment between hearing the planes and waiting for them to drop their payload. A pit forms in your stomach. You know you could die, but you also know there’s no way to divine where the strike will hit.
On a hill overlooking Ariha, our guard Abu Youssef seems to have located the jet in the sky and is following it with his eyes. “Russian planes,” he says. …
Monitoring groups say nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed since the Russian intervention began. …
Syria is hell. But standing in the warm sun, watching the silver green olive leaves shiver in the breeze, it is also paradise. A ceasefire has been in place for a couple of days, though based on what we saw and heard, it’s difficult to have much faith that it will hold.
We are preparing to leave, saying our goodbyes. We hand over a bag full of British chocolates to our security guards. Abu Youssef thanks us and quietly hands each of us a folded piece of white paper with our initials on it.
“Promise me you won’t read these until you get back home to London,” he says.
Two flights and 72 hours later, we open the letters.
“I hope you have a good idea of us,” they read. “Please tell the world the truth about Syria.”
18 Years old Freedom Activist from Germany. Visited the YPG in Syria. MENA Analyst, Focusing on Terrorism and Jihadist Groups in Middle east and E Asia
#ISIS Fighter from #Gaza, Abu Youssef Al-Ghazawhi killed recently in #Aleppo while fighting the Syrian army near #DeirHafer in #Aleppo Prov.
11:58 PM – 22 Mar 2017
[NOTE: It’s bad enough that the reporter, Ward, in Aleppo, was emotionally close to and was being protected by someone, “Abu Youssef,” who was clearly partisan — in his case, against Syria’s government and also against Russia, which means on the ‘rebel’ side, which in Aleppo meant being on Al Qaeda’s side there. Wikipedia’s article “Battle of Aleppo (2012–2016)” says: “Rebel groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Shamia Front and the Ahrar al-Sham established Sharia system in areas they control, imposing torture or other ill-treatment as punishment. Human rights activists, lawyers and journalists have been subjected to kidnappings.” These ‘rebels’ were religious fanatics. But if that person was also the “#ISIS Fighter from #Gaza, Abu Youssef Al-Ghazawhi killed recently in #Aleppo while fighting the Syrian army near #DeirHafer in #Aleppo Prov,” then this places the reporter as being under the protection of an “ISIS fighter,” and ISIS is supposed to be so fanatical that even the U.S. government condemn them — but maybe not CNN, nor the Overseas Press Club, nor The Peabody.]
Aleppo ‘hell’ prevents Syria peace talks, say diplomats
With 2 million terrified citizens trapped and brutal fighting continuing, UN-backed talks in August seem impossible
Patrick Wintour, diplomatic editor Tuesday 9 August 2016 16.53 EDT
… In a bid to restart the talks US secretary of state John Kerry met Vladimir Putin in mid-July to propose a deal whereby the Syrian air force ended its lethal bombing campaign in return for American agreement that one of the leading rebel forces – the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front – be designated a terrorist group, and so no longer party to a new ceasefire [Wintour is using code here, for: allowed to be bombed during the ceasefire — Obama refused to accept that condition, and he insisted that Russia discontinue bombing them but bomb only ISIS during a ceasefire, and he stuck with that stance until the very end, when he sabotaged Kerry’s deal with Lavrov]. American sponsored rebel forces have long been entangled with al-Nusra, and many Washington-backed forces would regard an attack on al-Nusra as an attack on the Syrian revolution itself.
The US proposal has been made more complex by the announcement last week that al-Nusra had “broken” with al-Qaida, and was now forming a new group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Western diplomats doubt the sincerity of this change in ideology [he’s using code for: change in name].
But Washington seems reluctant to denounce this new group as a bogus rebranding, partly because it knows so many of the already weak rebel groups it does support are willing, or even eager, to work with the effective and disciplined al-Nusra forces. Many of these moderate forces [as if there were ‘moderates’ when jihadists were waging war to replace a secular government] feel abandoned by the west.
At the UN session on Monday, Clarissa Ward, a celebrated CNN war correspondent, also warned Russia was playing into the hands of jihadists. She told the Russian envoy: “From my experience on the ground – which is considerable – bombing hospitals, court houses, bakeries and fruit markets does not eliminate terrorism. If anything it is the oxygen which terrorists breathe and it spreads like wildfire.”
[NOTE: For a “celebrated CNN war correspondent” to be so partisan against Russia, as to have charged that “Russia was playing into the hands of jihadists,” when she herself was blatantly and actually in the hands of jihadists — and being protected by them, while those jihadists were trying to kill and were being bombed by Russia — is stupid. Was this person that stupid? Or, perhaps, was she instead so closed-minded to the fact that in order to slaughter the jihadists, it was necessary that some of the people whom the jihadists were using as human shields would also die? Does Clarissa Ward possess even a modicum of the objectivity that’s required of any authentic journalist — especially when covering a war — or is she receiving ‘journalism’ awards because in the United States, ‘journalism’ has sunk to the level of sheer propaganda? But the British Guardian’s reporter is no better, referring to jihadists as ‘rebels’, and referring to the Syrian government’s war against them as a ‘lethal bombing campaign’ as if there were any other type than ‘lethal’. And he referred to the jihadists’ war against the Syrian government as ‘the Syrian revolution’ even though most of those jihadists were foreigners recruited into Syria from around the world and financed by the royal Sauds and armed and trained by the U.S. government.]
CNN Journalist Clarissa Ward Snuck Behind the Front Lines in Syria then Briefed the Security Council About What She Saw
Mark Leon Goldberg August 29, 2016
Clarissa Ward is an award winning journalist who has covered conflict for over a decade, mostly in the Middle East. She is now with CNN and earlier this year she and a small crew snuck into rebel held territory in Syria, including the city of Aleppo from where she filed several intense and harrowing stories.
In August, Clarissa was invited to a special meeting of the [U.N.] Security Council about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo. We kick off discussing her Security Council briefing and latest reporting trip to Syria. …
‘There are no winners in Aleppo’
Updated 0906 GMT (1706 HKT) August 15, 2016
‘This is Hell’: Clarissa Ward addresses U.N. on Syria 09:11
Editor’s note: On August 8, 2016 CNN’s Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward spoke at a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo. The following are her full remarks. …
The thing that has been killed in Syria that is much more difficult to rebuild than a bombed out building, is trust.
There is no trust.
No trust in the Assad regime.
No trust in ceasefires or the cessation of hostilities or humanitarian corridors.
No trust in the Russians, and no trust in you by the way, in us in the international community, who have been wringing their hands on the side lines while hospitals and bakeries and schools have been bombed, while phosphorus and cluster bombs have killed countless civilians.
The only ones who have emerged as heroes on the ground — alongside brave doctors like Dr Attar and Dr Sahloul, alongside the White Helmets [link there added by E.Z., not by Ward] — are the Islamist factions, even to those who hate fundamentalism.
Even to those who see that the rebels themselves are carrying out atrocities.
And not because the people there are all terrorists but because the Islamists are the ones who have stepped in to fill the void. …
[NOTE: Ward has “No trust in the Assad regime” but has loads of trust in the jihadists, the ‘heroes’, “because the Islamists are the ones who have stepped in to fill the void” that they’ve created by trying to turn Syria’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious, secular, non-sectarian government — the only secular government in the Middle East — over to the head-choppers, who will serve the aristocracies of the U.S. and of Saudi Arabia.]
21 March 2017, 10:33 AM ET
Overseas Press Club Honors CNN for ‘Undercover in Syria’ Series
The Overseas Press Club of America has honored CNN’s ‘Undercover in Syria’ series with the David Kaplan Award for Best TV or video spot news reporting from abroad. They will present the award, which honors the finest international reporting, at its annual ceremony on Thursday, April 27 in New York. CNN President Jeff Zucker will be on hand to deliver the keynote address.
Reported by senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward and produced by Salma Abdelaziz, ‘Undercover in Syria’ took viewers inside rebel-held territory for an exclusive series of reports on what life was like under the bombs. CNN was the only Western media to witness the effects of Russian bombardment first hand and go inside the devastation of rebel-held Aleppo. …
THE PEABODY 30: AWARD WINNERS FOR 2016
CNN: ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Undercover in Syria, Battle for Mosul (CNN)
Winner 2016 | CNN
… Clarissa Ward went undercover into northern Syria to document Russian influence on the fighting and to navigate the ongoing devastation. Graphic images of the wounded and the bloodied brings the senselessness of the fighting to the foreground, as do haunting images of young children who’ve only seen and experienced a world of airstrikes, fear, pain, and loss. … For its steadfast commitment to intrepid reporting from the battlefield and for detailing the costs and damages of a war that continues to pose a moral challenge to the rest of the world, a Peabody Award goes to CNN.
Even as Election Dominates Cable, Bravo CNN for Critical Reporting From Syria
by J.D. Durkin | 1:38 pm, March 18th, 2016
… Major kudos are due to CNN for its recent coverage of the harrowing Syrian Civil War and the work of Clarissa Ward, the network’s Senior International Correspondent. CNN has given significant airtime and clearly devoted resources to Ward’s most recent trip to, quite literally, the frontlines of terror. … Ward believes that this most recent trip along with her producer Salma Abdelaziz marked the first time in a year-and-a-half that any Western journalist had covered the calamitous developments on the ground. … All elements of the CNN enterprise have championed Ward’s work with prime placement, including digital and social media platforms. Ward’s Facebook Live discussion this week reached 1.7 million viewers alone.
It’s a bold and admirable programming move. … As Ward told me, the devastation for the Syrian people is far from over, and her role covering the crisis will likely continue until a specific, clear objective is reached:
“Really it comes down to one key demand,” Ward told me. “President Bashar al-Assad must step down. For the people on the ground, it’s a dealbreaker.” [My note: repeated polling throughout Syria by U.S.-and-allied polling organizations shows that over 50% of Syrians want Bashar al-Assad to remain as the President and that 82% of Syrians blame the U.S. for the tens of thousands of foreign jihadists who have invaded Syria to oust and replace him. However, those same polls also show that some areas in Syria support the jihadists and want Assad ousted. But, in any case, Ward’s assertion is rabidly false, that: “President Bashar al-Assad must step down. For the people on the ground, it’s a dealbreaker.” Furthermore, twice in one day, the Secretary General of the U.N., Ban ki-Moon, rebuked this U.S. position and he said “The future of Assad must be determined by the Syrian people” and not by the U.S. or any other foreign government dictating Assad be removed from power.]
Why CNN’s Clarissa Ward May Be the Biggest Badass in Cable News
“Your body responds with this surge of adrenaline, shock and fear,” the war correspondent says of getting caught in an airstrike
Brian Flood | April 10, 2016 @ 1:43 PM
CNN’s Clarissa Ward recently traveled undercover to a rebel-held area of Syria, where she witnessed 11 people die in an airstrike, but she didn’t miss a beat and reported on the chaos as it unfolded. …
Ward, filmmaker Bilal Abdul Kareem and producer Salma Abdelaziz were filming at the top of a hill when the airstrikes hit and the plume of smoke was visible in the background of her video. Instead of taking shelter, they immediately jumped in a car and headed toward the devastation. …
“It’s so shocking on a physical level. Your body responds with this surge of adrenaline, shock and fear. It all kind of collides in one,” Ward said.
For that kind of reporting, the 36-year-old Yale graduate has already won just about every journalism award out there — Peabody, Emmy, DuPont, Murrow and a Royal Television Society award with CNN’s coverage of the Paris attacks last November. In November, she will be honored with the International Center for Journalists’ Excellence in International Reporting Award. …
As Maddox said, “One of the reasons CNN hired Clarissa is because she’s an incredibly talented journalist who is committed to telling stories the world needs to know.”
Bilal Abdul Kareem
June 16  at 12:33pm ·
Piece I filmed w/CNN (Undercover in Syria) won the prestigious Overseas Press Club & Peabody awards but CNN “forgot” to mention me. High respects to CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward for mentioning me even if CNN didn’t! Alhamdo lilaah I got another award from some good hearted Syrians that’s worth more than those put together. Check it out!
“You know, there was a piece that I did, along with other members of OG and staff, called Undercover in Syria. This was with CNN, and their correspondent Clarissa Ward, which I have big-time respect for, big-time respect, as a journalist, and as a person. Now, this Undercover in Syria — you can google it — won the prestigious Peabody Award, and it won the prestigious Overseas Press Club award, which are basically the highest awards in journalism!”
[NOTE: The following excerpts, from AlterNet, cut down a 4,366-word news-report about Bilal Abdul Kareem, to a still lengthy 1,669 words. Though that’s long, this is a sensationally good news-report; and, even including here these 1,669 words from it, all of the 3,847 words of excerpts taken together are still significantly shorter than the entirety of that single AlterNet news-report, which is far the best and most truthful of the articles that are excerpted here:]
Bilal Abdul Kareem, Prominent U.S. ‘Journalist’ in Syria, Serves as Mouthpiece for Violent Extremists
A closer look at Bilal Abdul Kareem’s body of work reveals an established record of creating sectarian propaganda for extremist Syrian rebels.
By Ben Norton / AlterNet December 29, 2016, 4:54 PM GMT
During the final days of rebel control over the eastern areas of Aleppo, the Western media depended almost entirely on a handful of English-speaking, self-described activists to relay news of the situation to a captivated public. These figures served a dual purpose, acting as spokespeople for the beleaguered Syrian opposition while deflecting attention from armed insurgents dominated by extreme Islamists. Nestled among them was an American, Bilal Abdul Kareem, who may be one of the most remarkable characters of the Syrian civil war. The uncritical promotion and reflexive praise this character has received from a variety of U.S. media outlets raises serious questions about the coverage of a conflict that is often presented as a one-sided slaughter at the hands of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies. …
Abdul Kareem has helped produce a series for CNN, and has also produced reports with the U.K.’s Channel 4, the BBC and Skynews. He has written for Al Jazeera and has been featured in segments on an array of major media outlets. He even participated in a panel discussion at the [neoconservative, pro-invade-anywhere] Brookings Doha Center alongside the extremely hawkishSyria analyst Charles Lister, titled “Syria and Iraq: The Future Prospects of Jihadism.”
Yet what these media outlets and institutions have not disclosed about Abdul Kareem is that he has a long and established record of creating what is essentially propaganda for extremist groups in Syria. Abdul Kareem has conducted dozens of glowing interviews with militants from extremist groups, including Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate and its hardline allies. Worse, he appears to have expressed support for Anwar Al-Awlaki, the extremist preacher credited with inspiring multiple attacks, including the mass shooting at the Fort Hood military base. (Abdul Kareem did not respond to multiple requests for comment from AlterNet for this article.)
AlterNet reviewed scores of Abdul Kareem’s videos, and in not one did he address the atrocities any of the ultra-sectarian Islamist groups have carried out against civilians, minorities in particular. …
Not only has Abdul Kareem consistently facilitated the dissemination of his guests’ extreme views, he even gives them opportunities to call on viewers around the world to join them in their fight in Syria. …
Abdul Kareem makes it clear that he opposes democracy in Syria, claiming such a system is “alien” to the Syrian people whereas “a governing style of Islam is something that is familiar to them.” …
Abdul Kareem defends the extremist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham. … On his website, Abdul Kareem laments that the hard-line Islamist group “has been getting a bit of a bad reputation as of late for some of their political stances,” and stresses, “this Islamic revolution would not be where it is today without Ahrar Asham.”
Ahrar al-Sham has collaborated with and fought alongside Syrian al-Qaeda. It has engaged in sectarian attacks on civilians, such as the killing and kidnapping of Alawite [Shia] women and children in the village of Zara. Amnesty International also documented how Ahrar al-Sham and the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda have destroyed churches and confiscated the homes and stolen the belongings of Christian Syrians. Christians in the major rebel-held city of Idlib reported being told they must convert or leave. …
One of the first videos Abdul Kareem released on his Facebook page is an interview with a fighter from Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria’s arm of al-Qaeda. It was filmed in early August 2015 at the frontline of fighting between the extremist group and secular, leftist Kurdish fighters. …
The first long-form interview Abdul Kareem published to his Facebook page is an August 2015 discussion with Abu Firas al-Suri, a leader of Jabhat al-Nusra. …
“Our mission is guiding the people, taking them by the hand and helping them so we all are able to achieve the supremacy of the sharia of Allah on Earth. And our mission in Syria is a part of that mission,” Abu Firas proclaimed. He added, “Our goals are not limited only to Syria, however our current battle is in Syria.”
The only criticisms Abdul Kareem levied at the al-Qaeda leader in his interview were from the perspective of those who were even more radical. “Your group now controls large territories,” Abdul Kareem noted, “but some criticize you saying that you don’t apply the Islamic Sharia.” …
Abdul Kareem also invited Abu Firas to talk about the social services al-Nusra provides to people in Syria. Abu Firas, who associated himself with al-Qaeda in the interview, said they offer medical services, education, road repair, water delivery, houses and electricity.
Although Jabhat al-Nusra is an enemy of ISIS, Abu Firas stressed on Abdul Kareem’s video program, “We didn’t initiate fighting or criticising ISIS.” He continued, “As for fighting them, we’re not keen to fight them; we’re not keen to fight anyone who’s not an obstacle facing Islam.”
“We didn’t choose to oppose ISIS militarily or even politically,” Abu Firas explained. …
Demonizing Shia Muslims
On June 17, Bilal Abdul Kareem published a high-quality animated trailer for an upcoming episode of “Face the Truth” that promised to reveal who Shia Muslims truly are. “The Syrian crisis has quickly become a sectarian war between Sunnis-Shiite-Alawites,” he claimed in his Facebook post. Abdul Kareem implied that Shia might not actually be Muslims, writing, “Are they all just Muslims fighting one another? Or do their beliefs say otherwise?”
Three days later, Abdul Kareem published a lengthy interview with the ultra-sectarian Sunni preacher Abdur Razaaq Mahdi, in a video combatively titled “Sunnis vs Shia’.” …
Mahdi deplores Alawites as “Nusayri” unbelievers. “Oh Allah, destroy the Alawites and those who ally with them from the thugs, the Shia, the Russians, the Iranians!” he proclaims in the video. “Kill them all! …
Recruiting foreign fighters
Abdul Kareem’s interview with the Syria-based Saudi warlord Abdallah al-Muhaysini might be the most disturbing instance of promoting violent extremism. …
Al-Muhaysini continued claiming, “The war in Syria or jihad in Syria, today we’re in jihad against Shia, Alawites and Khawarij.” …
“Does that mean I should leave my family and everything I studied at university?” Naturally, al-Muhaysini replied in the affirmative, insisting it is a true believer’s duty, and they will be rewarded for it.
“Read the six rewards Allah gives to the martyr and you will forget everything,” al-Muhaysini countered. …
… In an interview posted in May, Abdul Kareem gave an Islamist rebel a platform to condemn democracy and instead argue for the importance of creating a theocratic society in Syria.
“Jihad is our way and pride,” Abu Osama al-Shawkani insisted in the video. “Democracy is ungratefulness.” He added, “Secularism is not our way.”
Abdul Kareem’s guest argued that experiments at implementing democracy in Algeria and Egypt “just failed.” He even went out of his way to pit Islam, the religion of 1.7 billion people, against such a form of governance.
They “will never accept applying Islam through democracy, and the one who says that he wants democracy doesn’t understand,” al-Shawkani insisted. Democracy “is a method against Allah’s method.” Abdul Kareem concluded the interview telling al-Shawkani, “May Allah reward you, brother.”
Abdul Kareem does not hide this extreme sectarianism and opposition to democracy; these views pervade his videos and are visible on his Facebook page. But in their apparent zeal to cultivate a pro-rebel narrative, major media outlets have consistently failed to acknowledge this fact.
Despite his ties to extremist groups, a vast array of influential media outlets have relied on Bilal Abdul Kareem’s reporting from Aleppo, and have treated it as reputable.
CNN, for which Abdul Kareem helped produce a series of reports alongside the international correspondent Clarissa Ward, interviewed Abdul Kareem on Dec. 13 for a segment on the Syrian government’s recapture of rebel-held eastern Aleppo. CNN’s Hala Gorani described him simply as an “independent journalist,” without any other background information or context.
Abdul Kareem told Gorani, “I don’t think that anybody here is happy with the way things have turned out.” He also claimed civilians do not want to go to government-held western Aleppo. In reality, manyinterviews with former residents of eastern Aleppo who escaped to the government-controlled western side revealed that rebels shot at them. The U.N. has also said rebels obstructed civilians from leaving. …
Even left-leaning websites that traditionally criticize corporate media outlets for toeing the party line have been derelict. Truthout ran an article that cited Abdul Kareem’s castigation of Turkey and Gulf regimes, simply identifying him as a “journalist.”
The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain likewise gave a substantial platform to Abdul Kareem back in June, applauding him for providing “a unique perspective on the conflict in Syria.” …
On the Ground News and helpers
In 2015, Abdul Kareem supplemented his interview program “Face the Truth” by launching On the Ground News, an outlet that features more traditional journalistic reports from inside rebel-held areas in Syria.
On the Ground News saw a marked increase in production quality, with videos accompanied by slick animations and graphic design. In some, Abdul Kareem could be seen seated in front of a green screen, declaring that he was broadcasting from “our studios.” Where On the Ground News gets its funding from is not clear and, as mentioned, Abdul Kareem did not respond to AlterNet’s requests. …
Applauding the Fort Hood shooter
In 2009, two years before the Syrian civil war erupted, Abdul Kareem composed a post in a Google group for expats in Dubai that endorsed an article by an extremist preacher who heroized the gunman who had just carried out a mass shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas. …
A series of three articles that I did for the Strategic Culture Foundation, and which was subsequently published together in one article at the Signs of Our Times website, describes the U.S. government’s support for Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) ever since at least 2012, America’s assisting Al Qaeda, and working with Al Qaeda’s royal Saudi, Qatari and UAE funders, to overthrow Syria’s government — using U.S.-Saudi-backed jihadists to topple and replace yet another Russia-allied head-of-state. The U.S. government is pro-jihadist because those jihadists are ‘our’ boots-on-the-ground, waging war, as ‘our’ proxies, against Russia. And, America’s ‘news’ media cheer this rampant butchery on, and even award ‘journalism’ prizes to its slickest propagandists, who pour forth on TV and at ‘journalism’ awards ceremonies, jerking tears from the gulls. This also explains how it can be that, as Gallup headlined on 19 June 2017, “George W. Bush and Barack Obama Both Popular in Retirement”. Democracy is impossible in such a country, just as it was in the novel 1984.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.