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Whether it’s about the Chinese coronavirus, the Russia hoax or anything else in the news, there’s so much “information” floating around in the media that it’s almost impossible to know what’s true. Yet, trust me, there are millions of people plugged into THE NEW YORK TIMES, the WASHINGTON POST, CNN, late-night “comedy” shows and Facebook memes who believe they are extremely well-informed, always right, and much smarter than you. It doesn’t even do any good to talk to them.

Check out Scott Adams for an analysis of how the mind works to reject facts that don’t support one’s narrative. We all do this to some extent, as it’s human nature, but some do it a LOT more than others; it’s called “confirmation bias.”

To a large extent I blame the reporters, who should show enough intellectual curiosity and humility to look for ways to disprove their own opinions and their own “facts” before they unleash them on the public. My theory is that they’re afraid to look, afraid of being proven wrong, like the atheist who subconsciously is terrified to expose himself to religion and perhaps be compelled to change his mind, or, conversely, the believer who is terrified to expose himself to anything outside the walls of his church. Political ideology and/or party identification can be just as powerful a self-imposed limitation.

It’s extremely anxiety-producing to be proven wrong. For if you’re wrong about one thing, who knows what else you’re wrong about? For example, if you live in an imaginary world where Trump is always wrong, and everybody you know and respect believes Trump is always wrong, it will knock you sideways to have to admit he was right about even one tiny thing. So when it does turn out Trump was right about something, the apology is never made and the mistake never acknowledged, let alone corrected. The misinformation lives on in the Internet, forever, co-existing with the truth.

I’ve just described the liberal, Trump-hating mindset, but online rumors and “fake news” come from both left and right. About a week ago, my staff came across an email, circulated by some on the right, claiming that the father of John Kerry’s son-in-law is a mullah in Iran. Now, whether this is true or not, we could tell you plenty about John Kerry that would make anyone in his right mind want to keep him far from the seat of power. (Fortunately, he now is, but questions have arisen about his family’s relationship with Hunter Biden and the Biden family business dealings. That's for another time.)

Anyway, we were curious about that story and decided to look into it. There are some basic facts we can put together: Kerry’s son-in-law is named Behrouz Nahed; he goes by the first name Brian. He is a neurosurgeon. According to TRUE PUNDIT, he is an Iranian national. They also say that, according to some reports, his best man at his 2009 wedding to Vanessa Kerry, also a doctor, was the son of Muhammad Javid Zarif, Irans’ Minister of Foreign Affairs. Zarif was Kerry’s counterpart in negotiations for the Iran deal. Whoa.

BUT, the best man story is challenged in a piece from 2015 in THE HILL, which also says Dr. Nahed is an American citizen, born in America. Somebody’s wrong. The preponderance of the evidence would suggest it’s TRUE PUNDIT that is wrong, and that Nahed was born in New York.

Even a conservative website like THE BLAZE has debunked the “best man” rumor.

STILL, even though Muhammad Javid Zarif’s son was apparently not best man for Kerry’s son-in-law, there’s something else we found on TruthOrFiction.com that is every bit as concerning, at least to us: Kerry himself did already have a longstanding personal relationship with Zarif that predated the talks for the Iranian nuclear deal. This relationship is detailed in a 2012 book by Hoorman Majd. I do wonder about that; it is just too close for comfort.

A piece from 2013 in the DAILY CALLER goes into some detail about Dr. Nahed, who has “extensive family ties” in Iran. “Since its inception,” the story reads, “the FBI has vetted U.S. officials involved in national security, and it generally won’t grant clearances to individuals who are married to nationals of an enemy nation or have family members living in that country, for fear of divided loyalties, or, more simply, blackmail.”

Both of Dr. Nahed’s parents reportedly live in Los Angeles. His father is a pulmonologist. But shortly after Vanessa and Behrouz tied the knot, they reportedly went to Iran to visit the other relatives who live there.

Though Nahed’s father is not a mullah, the family and social connections still create such an obvious conflict of interest that Kerry should never have been involved in negotiations with Iran. I would think the conflict is so great that he should never have been approved for any cabinet-level position, let alone Secretary of State. The DAILY CALLER piece goes into just some of the problems with this.

Here’s another really good commentary, also from 2013.

So, after looking at numerous sources, we’d say this rumor is “iffy.” The central claim is not true –- Vanessa Kerry’s husband Behrouz Nahed is not the son of a mullah. His parents are physicians who work in California. And we don’t know for sure about the identify of Nahed’s best man, though we’ve seen no evidence that his father is the Iranian minister of foreign affairs. (This would not be surprising, however, given that Kerry and the Iranian minister had a social relationship.) But regardless of who the best man was, the family and social connections should have posed a huge problem for Kerry in his bid to be Secretary of State. Heck, we even turned up something else that would have been worthy of exploring: Kerry's previously existing personal relationship, going back a decade, with the Iranian minister of foreign affairs, the man with whom he was negotiating on behalf of the United States (or supposedly on our behalf)!

I don’t know why these online rumors have to be so exaggerated when the truth is plenty bad enough. “Fact-checkers” often don’t deal with the underlying truth when it’s so easy simply to debunk the exaggerated claim, generating headlines like this

(We tend not to use FactCheck.org around here; too often we find ourselves fact-checking the fact-checkers. There’s only so much time in the day to be pushing boulders uphill.)

It’s the same with rumors about COVID-19. What we’re learning about its origins –- almost certainly from within the biolab in Wuhan –- and the PRC’s deadly deceit is so disturbing that there’s no need to exaggerate it into an even wilder story. Let’s stick to the facts as we learn them. We want to remain a solid, trusted source for truth; we would certainly report the wilder story, but only if and when the facts supported it.

We'd never even heard this rumor about Kerry and his Iranian son-in-law till now, which just goes to show how the media have covered for the former Secretary of State and exercised a shameless double standard. Imagine the uproar if, say, Jared Kushner were, say, Russian, and there were rumors that his best man was the son of some high-up Russian state official? The screaming would never stop.

Protecting Churches

May 4, 2020

Liberty Counsel is defending a number of churches from unconstitutional attacks leveled in the name of combating the coronavirus. One of the most outrageous yet was a story that the mayor of Kansas City is requiring churches to keep lists of the names, addresses and phone numbers of every person who attends services.

The mayor’s office, hit with a furious backlash, responded with a “clarification”: the city was not demanding a list of every church attendee, but requiring that the churches keep the list for 30 days so that if an attendee was diagnosed with the virus, everyone else could be notified, but the church could keep the list and destroy it in 30 days

That’s better than the first story, but it still requires churches to demand personal ID information from everyone who comes to worship, which is a very dangerous precedent, no matter the justification. The city argues that they require it of every other business except “essential” groceries and medical facilities.

The issue, however, is that churches are not “non-essential businesses.” They are sacred places specifically protected from government oversight and interference by the First Amendment. It appears that too many people in positions of power are unable to grasp the difference. They can ask for cooperation from churches, and most have been more than happy to cooperate. But when government tries to coerce churches into "cooperating," they’ve crossed the line.

Good News on the Virus Front: the FDA has approved a coronavirus antibody test that reportedly provides near-perfect accuracy.

This should help give us an even clearer idea of how widespread the virus already is. Previous studies suggest that far more people have been exposed than we thought and had mild or no symptoms, and that the death rate is actually much lower than originally estimated. That’s not to say it isn’t a very bad, even deadly, disease for those who are particularly susceptible, such as the elderly and those with underlying health problems such as obesity and compromised immune systems.

But if authorities expect Americans to keep complying with safety guidelines, we need to see some solid numbers to justify it, not wild, apocalyptic predictions that are used to impose draconian lockdowns, then are later scaled back.

On that topic, I’ve been hearing about how Sweden, which refused to impose a harsh lockdown and close its economy, was suffering devastating results. But here’s a report from National Review that suggests it’s fared no worse than nations that did destroy their economies.

Last night, President Trump answered questions from the public in a townhall on Fox News. You can watch it online here.

If you’d like a quicker recap, here is a written account of the townhall.

And here are a few highlights: Trump said he fears the US death toll from the COVID-19 (Chinese) coronavirus could reach 80 to 100,000, a rise from his previous estimate of 60,000, but still far below the initial prediction of 2.2 million that was cited as a reason to shut down the economy. He also predicted that a vaccine would be available sooner than predicted, possibly by the end of the year, and said of the virus, “It’s going to pass.” He generally backed the efforts of Governors to reopen their own states on the timetables they see fit. He also predicted that the US would no longer be reliant on China for its antibiotics without two years.

Trump said China misled the world, that he believes they made a horrible mistake and didn’t want to admit it; and that the World Health Organization is “China-centric,” they do whatever China wants, and have been “a disaster” and “missed every single call.”

And when asked why he can’t be more diplomatic with the media, he said he appreciates the sentiment, but he believes he’s treated worse by the media than any President in history. He said he stands up there to take questions, but instead of getting normal questions, he gets hit with “the most horrible, horrendous, biased questions” from a media that exhibits “anger and hatred,” and that 95 percent of them are hostile and “might as well be in the Democratic Party.”

Since Sunday was the UN’s “World Press Freedom Day,” media outlets compared Trump’s description of the press to a Twitter thread by Joe Biden (or more likely one of his campaign staffers) criticizing Trump for attacking “the independence of journalists,” and swearing that in a Biden White House, there would be mutual respect and “no bullying of the media from the press room podium or by tweet.”

Of course, that’s an easy promise to make when you know that the media will never treat you with the open disdain, hostility and disrespect that they show for Trump. It’s especially hilarious that he praised the “independence of journalists.” How independent are journalists who do nothing but regurgitate DNC talking points? We have many fine independent journalists, like Sara Carter and John Solomon, who were derided by the journalistic clique for years because they dared to question the accepted media narratives on issues like “Russian collusion” or the framing of Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn. Now we’re learning that they were right all along, and the self-styled “independent journalists” were nothing but house organs of the Democratic Party, about as objective as the Phillip Morris company newsletter.

I’m sure Joe Biden would not show hostility to the press because after all, how likely are they to show hostility to him? He was credibly accused of sexual assault, and they didn’t even bring up the subject. He was captured on video bragging about using US aid to extort the government of Ukraine and they covered for him. And when was the last time you saw a serious investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden’s ties to China in the mainstream press? Seems like that would be a timely and newsworthy subject right about now.

I have no doubt Biden would be very nice to the press (he might even give them a back rub.) After all, why be mean to people who are doing your PR work for you for free?

If you’d like a reminder of why the only people who love and respect our current news media are the Democrats they support, Victor Davis Hanson has compiled an excellent look back at some journalistic lowlights of the past few years.

Welcome to the Huckabee Show coming to you from all over the country instead of from our theater in Nashville. But this won’t last forever—and in the meantime, we’re making the best of it including inviting you to our Virtual Theater by getting Virtual Tickets so you can “Meet Me at the Couch.” Each week those with virtual tickets are put in random drawing for some cool swag from our show. Register for your virtual tickets at huckabee.tv

How’s the social distancing thing going? Don’t you sometimes just want to get in your car, go somewhere—anywhere—and just go up and hug someone; even a total stranger? For those of us who haven’t left our homes in 7 weeks, we are rapidly approaching the fight or flight moment. And in many states, things are starting to open up, albeit in spurts and small steps.

One thing we know—the models and predictions for how bad it was going to be were all wrong. For those who had an acute case of Wuhan Virus, it was awful. For those who’ve had a family member die from it, there are no words adequate to offer condolences and compassion. But I hope we feel the same way when an acquaintance dies of cancer or heart disease or from an accident. But we were told there would be up to 2 million in the US who would die, our hospitals would be overrun and suffer a serious shortage of equipment, and the impact of the virus would be unlike anything the world had ever seen. We followed the public health experts and didn’t just stop shaking hands-we stopped life. Schools closed for the year, all public events including NCAA March Madness, Major League Baseball, and the NBA shut down. Theaters and restaurants closed. Malls shuttered. Disney World and other theme parks went silent. Beaches closed. And even on Easter Sunday, churches closed. Some government officials went overboard, prohibiting fishing or planting gardens. Without haircuts we’ve accepted looking shabby. Offices reverted to online meetings while their office buildings are closed and everything is now down on Zoom or Skype. And with that, some people didn’t wear pants or forgot to close doors and may have revealed more their point of view to fellow office workers.

But as we start to re-open the world, I hope we will realize a big take-a-way from all this is to never again let government strip us our all our liberties and our common sense in the name of “protecting us.” When I was Governor of Arkansas, we often repeated a mantra in our office that said, “Trust the Lord and tell the people.” We were actually serious about it. It meant that we needed to remember we weren’t the highest authority in the lives of our people—God was. And that our job was to be honest with the people and tell them the truth, but realize they would have to ultimately choose what to do with the truth.

Life is filled with risks. We take them every day. We ultimately calculate the risks vs. the rewards and act accordingly. I can with 100% assurance guarantee to not have a car wreck if I don’t get in a car. There is no possibility I can fall off a ladder if I don’t get on one. I can’t be killed in a plane crash if I never board a plane. There are some risks I can eliminate. Others, I can mitigate—like wearing a mask or gloves, practicing social distancing, and sanitizing my hands. But I have to decide if the risk of a disease I might catch is a chance I have to take because the certainly of not being able to feed my family or pay my bills is one I do face by staying holed up in my house.

It’s not the government’s decision; it’s mine. And honestly, some people will violate whatever the rules are. Some people exceed the speed limit; others smoke, drink alcohol excessively, skydive, or climb mountains. They decide that the inherent risks are worth whatever rewards they feel. But in a free society, we allow people to make decisions and do things that scare the hair off our arms. And sometimes, people who take all the precautions imaginable still get hit by a falling limb, are diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer, or get food poisoning from their Grandma’s pork chop. Be careful, but not fearful. Most of all, accept responsibility for your own life. Government isn’t God. It’s not family. It’s not even a very good friend sometimes.

Joe Biden’s adamant denial of former staffer Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation may be enough for Democrats who are doing Olympic-level backflips to back away from their previous “believe all women” statements. And the press, naturally, is helping by trying to dig up any discrepancies in Reade’s story and to question her motives, something they never did with Kavanaugh’s accuser, who was declared to be one of the greatest heroines of the year.

But that hasn’t stopped the questions about whether Biden had minions remove papers from archives, or whether he’s trying to hide evidence, or even, according to Greg Gutfeld, whether he made a slip of the tongue that gave away more than he intended.

And of course, the Trump campaign already has an ad ready to point out his hypocrisy…

As I have said consistently for years, whenever such old allegations are made against anyone, be it Kavanaugh, Trump or Biden, the accuser deserves a respectful hearing, but the accused deserves the presumption of innocence and due process to get to the truth. That was sometimes a very lonely position to stake out, although I do suddenly have a lot of Democrats keeping me company.

But let’s put aside the comparisons to Kavanaugh and Trump, because those are just examples of expected media/political bias and hypocrisy. Instead, I’d like to draw your attention to a very interesting article by Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine. Sullivan is no Trump supporter (indeed, despite what he writes about Biden, he says he’ll still vote for him, just because he’s not Trump.) But he makes a strong case, one that I haven’t seen anyone else bring up, that putting aside Reade’s claim, by his own standards, Joe Biden is guilty of multiple sex crimes, many of which we can watch him commit on videotape.

That's because during the Obama Administration, Biden was instrumental in pushing the revamped guidelines for Title IX sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses. Those were the draconian (many of us would say sexist and unconstitutional) rules that redefined sex crimes and stripped the accused (usually male students) of their basic rights to self-defense, finding them guilty until proven innocent – except they weren’t allowed to prove themselves innocent, since they couldn’t even see the evidence or question their accusers.

The definition of “sexual violence” was also expanded to include remarks about physical appearance and unwanted touching. How many times have we seen Joe do those very things to women - actions that, as Sullivan notes, would have destroyed the lives of male students under the rules Biden championed?

Fortunately, many of those rules have been rolled back (they had to be; too many colleges were losing expensive lawsuits by former male students.) Democrats naturally assailed the Trump Administration for doing it, accusing him of enabling sexual predators. But as Sullivan makes clear, if they really believe in those standards, then they are backing a Presidential candidate who is plainly guilty of multiple sex crimes under them, even aside from Ms. Reade’s accusation. This is yet another reason why I keep saying that if it weren’t for double standards, some of these people wouldn’t have any standards at all.