Saturday, May 18, 2024
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Sound of Freedom Movie: The Liberal Media’s Bizarre Attacks


There are some things in life that, even in a polarized country, we should all be able to agree on, right? One of those obvious truths is that sex trafficking of children is bad.

The new “Sound of Freedom” movie powerfully showcases the efforts of a real former Homeland Security agent to stop it. The message of the movie is clear. These are all God’s children. We must try to save them. They aren’t for sale. Sex trafficking of kids is evil. Who could disagree? The people we know left the theater outraged by the treatment of children.

Not the elite liberal media. They left the theater dripping with condescension and outraged at the film. And that says a lot more about them than it.

Elite news outlets – from Rolling Stone to the Guardian to the Washington Post – have launched a round of bizarre attacks against the movie, attempting to unfairly tie it to the weird world of repulsive Qanon conspiracies and, in so doing, betraying their own biases (let’s face it, this movie represents everything they hate, from religious faith to exposing trafficking across the border).

Sound of freedom
The real sting in an ice press release photo in 2014.

But there’s nothing in the movie about QAnon at all, no secret, elite cabal of political and Hollywood elites engaged in child trafficking appear in this film. There’s no Pizza Gate.

It’s worth repeating. There is nothing in the film about QAnon at all; rather, it is based on real events and people. It highlights a real problem we should all care about.

Rather, the moving film sticks close to true events. For example, Tim Ballard (played by Jim Caviezel) was a Homeland Security agent in real life who really started a non-profit organization to save children from sex trafficking. The island sting in the movie involving a beauty queen? Also based on real events. They were covered by the media at the time, and no one brought up QAnon then.

The U.S. government touted the sting in a news release back in 2014. The news release even includes photos of the scene and thanks Ballard’s organization for assisting in the operation, which resulted in the rescue of 55 juvenile sex trafficking victims in Colombia.

Sound of freedom
A scene from the real rescue operation in a photo included by ice in a 2014 press release.

“BOGOTA, Colombia — An international undercover law enforcement operation culminated Saturday with the arrests of 12 individuals involved in sex trafficking and the rescue of 55 sex trafficking victims, all minors,” the news release from ICE states.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Attaché Office in Colombia and the Colombian Attorney General’s Technical Investigative Corps Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (CTI TCIU) conducted the operation that was carried out simultaneously in Cartagena, Medellin and Armenia, all Colombian cities.” The release notes, “During the takedown, one 11-year-old girl broke down in tears thanking the officials who rescued her. She was allegedly sold for $1,000 in U.S. currency since she was a virgin.”

It’s true that some of the “Sound of Freedom” movie is fictionalized; for example, the real Ballard never killed a man or sneaked into a jungle posing as a doctor, according to his website. But IT’S A MOVIE. Enough of it is based on real life and a real problem to make the elite media attacks simply bizarre, absent any actual QAnon references in the film (and there are none.)

The ICE news release mentions the arrest of a former Miss Cartagena contestant who is the loose inspiration for the sex trafficker in the movie named Giselle. The characters of Vampiro and Fuego also really existed, according to Ballard’s website.

As Fox News noted, the film “never engages in such conspiracy theories while exposing the underbelly of the real underground sex slave trade.”

In fact, the real Tim Ballard’s group, Operation Underground Railroad, specifically denounces conspiracy theories (like QAnon). “This is not welcomed, nor should it be supported,” the group’s website says.

“To be clear, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) does not condone conspiracy theories and is not affiliated with any conspiracy theory group in any way, shape, or form. From O.U.R.’s inception, we have been fighting for the innocent by partnering with law enforcement and other NGOs who share our same mission to eradicate child sex trafficking,” the site says.

Yet this is the bizarre reaction from elite media outlets:

  • The rag Jezebel wrote, “‘Sound of Freedom’ Is an Anti-Child Trafficking Fantasy Fit for QAnon.”
  • The Guardian headlined its story, “Sound of Freedom: the QAnon-adjacent thriller seducing America.”
  • Rolling Stone sneered, “The QAnon-tinged thriller about child-trafficking is designed to appeal to the conscience of a conspiracy-addled boomer.”

It’s worth interjecting here: Really, Rolling Stone? Sex trafficking of children doesn’t appeal to YOUR conscience?

  • Washington Post: “‘Sound of Freedom’ is a box office hit whose star embraces QAnon”

According to the Post, the movie has been accused of “catering to QAnon conspiracy theorists” (yes… by the Post.) However, if you read deeper into the story, the Post admits, “Sound of Freedom” doesn’t depict anything close to QAnon conspiracy fantasies.”

Exactly. It doesn’t. It’s loosely based on real events, even those touted by the government at the time. So why the QAnon framing?

We think the real Ballard represents things the elite “journalists” despise. He’s religious (Mormon). He’s open about being religious. The movie mentions God. He’s happily married with lots of kids. He works with law enforcement. President Trump appointed him to a commission on sex trafficking. He has spoken out against transgender ideology. In short, he’s conservative. And the movie stars a guy who played Jesus Christ. It was released by a religious-affiliated organization, Angel Studios, that has distributed Christian films and was started by members of the LDS church. Furthermore, some prominent conservatives like it!

The movie also highlights a problem the liberal elites would like to shove under the rug because human trafficking eventually gets you to the failures at the American border, a problem they are currently trying to pretend doesn’t exist now that Biden is the president, not Trump.

This isn’t to say that Ballard should be immune from criticism. Liberal media exposes have tried to argue his group exaggerated some of its rescues (fair criticism perhaps). But that’s a far cry from QAnon. A DA investigated his group for a series of crimes; however, the prosecutor closed the investigation without bringing a single charge.

Ballard once made a weird claim about a furniture company being involved in trafficking children, and actor Jim Caviezel has appeared at QAnon conferences and made some odd statements separate from the movie. These seem to be the key claims from liberal media outlets trashing the film.

None of which is good, but none of that is in the movie.

As for Ballard and QAnon, the best the Post presents is a quote he gave the New York Times: “Some of these theories have allowed people to open their eyes,” he said. “So now it’s our job to flood the space with real information so the facts can be shared.”

How is that controversial? He’s saying conspiracy theorists need to get the real information and true facts about human trafficking, not the false conspiratorial nonsense. That’s a far cry from supporting QAnon.

Is sex trafficking/human trafficking actually a problem? Yes, according to the U.S. State Department, which says, “Traffickers profit at the expense of their victims by compelling them to perform labor or to engage in commercial sex in every region of the United States and around the world. With an estimated 27.6 million victims worldwide at any given time, human traffickers prey on people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities, exploiting them for their own profit.”

The U.S. Department of Justice’s website says, “Mexico is both a significant source and destination country for sex trafficking persons, particularly into the United States,” while noting it’s also a problem across the Canadian border. Human/sex trafficking often occurs within the borders of the U.S., of course. Ballard’s website acknowledges the problem is multi-faceted and not fully portrayed by the movie.

In the end, the elite media have just ended up exposing their own biases.

There’s also this: It’s just a good film. Go see it.

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Push Questions About IDs For Illegal Immigrants, Voting

(The Center Square) – Some Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to calm fears about illegal immigrants getting IDs and voting in the state.

The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections and the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection held a hearing Thursday with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, some local election clerks and Fond du Lac County’s district attorney.

“We're not trying to get anybody into a bad spot here, or in a corner, or make accusations on that level,” Sen. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, said. “We want our clerks, who are already stressed enough, to know that we are here to be there as an assist to them.”

Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said he wants to make sure voters have faith in Wisconsin’s electoral process.

“This is one of the topics that hit our inboxes quite a bit the last three months or so,” Krug added. “We thought it’s pretty important just to vet it out, to get all the information out to the public.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission was invited to Thursday’s meeting but didn’t attend because commissioners were having a meeting of their own. But that left lawmakers’ questions unanswered.

Wis-DOT Deputy Secretary Kristina Boardman said Wisconsin is known as a strict voter ID state.

“I want to make very clear that Wis-DOT is required to provide free identification cards for U.S. citizens that request them for the purposes of voting, and that to be eligible for that free identification card one must be a U.S. citizen and at least 17 years of age,” Boardman said. “Wis-DOT staff do not determine voter eligibility or register anyone to vote. Someone who has a Wisconsin ID or a driver's license is eligible to register to vote online, and that information will be confirmed with Wisconsin DMV systems to ensure that the information entered for voter registration is consistent with the DMV's records

Boardman said in Wisconsin, less than a fraction of one percent of ID requests are fraudulent.

“We put together [a] case activity report, assemble all of the documentation that we have, we have the investigator that had the case pull that together, and we do refer that to law enforcement so that they can take whatever action is appropriate,” Boardman added. “We note what statutes we believe may have been violated. And then it's up to law enforcement to take action.”

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Senate Republicans Override Evers’ Vetoes

(The Center Square) – On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate voted to override nine vetoes from Gov. Tony Evers, including the vetoes that scuttled PFAS clean-up money, millions of dollars that were earmarked for hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls and a plan that would allow advanced practice registered nurses to work more independently.

“The legislature has passed hundreds of bills to solve problems facing Wisconsin businesses and families. Most of these bills were signed into law, but many were vetoed by a governor more focused on politics than policies that help everyday Wisconsinites,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Tuesday. “Overriding the governor’s obstructive vetoes is the last, best way to address these critical issues.”

The override votes came one day after Evers sued the legislature over nearly $200 million that is attached to some of his vetoes.

Most of that money is the $125 million that’s supposed to go toward PFAS clean up in Wisconsin.

“For the fifth time this legislative session, I voted to provide Wisconsin families with the largest investment in clean drinking water in state history – five more times than every Democrat legislator in this state combined. The bill that Gov. Evers vetoed (SB 312) would have created a grant program that targets this critical funding to areas of the state most heavily impacted by PFAS contamination while protecting innocent landowners from financial ruin,” Sen Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said.

Evers has accused the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee of obstructing his plans to clean up Wisconsin’s drinking water, and of delaying his other actions across the state.

LeMahieu said Evers is simply playing the game.

“While Gov. Evers plays politics, the legislature will continue to do the right thing on behalf of the people of our state,” LeMahieu added.

Senate Democrats responded with game-playing accusations of their own.

“Coming in to do all these veto overrides was clearly a stunt to try to appeal to voters ahead of the fall election,” Den. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said. “Clearly Republicans were hearing from things in their district and wanted political cover. I don't think they got political cover today. I think what they got was people realizing just how afraid they are.”

But Tuesday’s veto overrides are largely symbolic.

While Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate have a veto-proof majority, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly do not.

trump vs biden

Trump Holds Lead Over Biden Heading Toward November

With less than half a year until the 2024 presidential election, former President Donald Trump holds a sizable lead over incumbent President Joe Biden in several swing states.

While the overall national polling varies and shows a tighter race, Trump holds significant leads in several swing states.

According to Real Clear Politics, Trump leads in a slew of key battleground states like Arizona (+5.2), Georgia (+4.6), Michigan (+0.8), Nevada (+6.2), North Carolina (+5.4), Pennsylvania (+2.0), and Wisconsin (+0.6).

Other polling has shown Trump with a dominant lead in the Sun Belt while performing less well against Biden in some rust belt swing states.

“As the old saying goes, good gets better and bad gets worse, and it’s clear President Biden is in bad shape right now,” Colin Reed, a Republican strategist, former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies, told The Center Square. “Five and a half months is an eternity in politics, and there’s theoretically still time to right the ship, but it’s getting late early for the president, especially when Father Time remains undefeated and doubts about his age continue to grow. “

According to the Real Clear Politics’ national polling average, Trump leads Biden 46.1% to 44.9%.

A New York Times poll released this week showed leads for Trump in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania but slightly trailing Biden in Wisconsin, raising concerns among supporters.

Trump’s lead has been in large part fueled by minority voters flocking to his side.

Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating has plummeted since taking office. While that is not unusual for incumbents, Biden’s approval is lower than recent presidents.

Gallup recently released polling data showing that in the 13th quarter of Biden’s presidency, he averaged a 38.7% approval rating, worse than Trump at the same time in his term.

“None of the other nine presidents elected to their first term since Dwight Eisenhower had a lower 13th-quarter average than Biden,” Gallup said.

Axios reported this week that Biden and his team think the polls don’t represent Americans’ actual feelings and that the president’s position is strong.

“They're still 50% (well 45%) to win, per betting markets,” pollster Nate Silver wrote on X. “But Biden has been behind Trump in polls for a year now. His approval is in the tank, and voters have been clear they think he's too old. If Trump wins, history will not remember Biden kindly.”

Meanwhile, Trump spends valuable campaign time in a series of court appearances for his myriad of federal prosecution court dates.

“I’m under a gag order,” Trump told reporters after a court appearance Tuesday. “Nobody has actually seen anything like it ... I'm beating him in every poll and I have a gag order, so I think it's totally unconstitutional."

Republicans have blasted Biden for Trump’s prosecution, accusing Biden of using the Justice Department against his political opponent.

“Despite Far Left Democrats’ illegal election interference, President Trump is beating Joe Biden in the polls!” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on X Tuesday. “Voters see right through the sham Biden Trials and know President Trump is the best choice for president.”


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