Six minutes of strangeness: An Atlanta TV anchor and his conspiracy theories

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The front door of Comet Ping Pong pizza shop, in Washington in a December file photo. AP/Jose Luis Magana

If you follow the radio and TV blog by our AJC colleague Rodney Ho, then you already know about six of the strangest minutes ever to unfold on Atlanta television.

CBS46 anchor Ben Swann walked viewers through a screen-by-screen explanation of “Pizzagate” on Tuesday night, implying that the widely debunked Internet claim – which linked a D.C. pizza parlor and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, with a child molestation ring might – might not be a hoax.logo-all

That particular conspiracy theory reached a dangerous climax in December, when a self-investigating North Carolina man carried an AR-15 into the restaurant, firing one shot. Said Swann on Tuesday night:

“There is no proof here that there is a child sex ring being operated out of a D.C. pizza parlor. Investigators have already proven that there is nothing to the story, right?

 

“Well, actually, no. And that’s what you need to know. For all that is here, there has not been one single public investigation of any of this. Not from local police, not from the FBI. No one. And that has to be the big question….

 

“The big question is, why hasn’t any investigation taken place?”

Watch here:

Now the Daily Beast has weighed in, with these paragraphs:

Swann is no stranger to airing pseudo-investigative reports of elaborate conspiracies on the local affiliate of TV’s most watched national network, at his former employer Russia Today, and on his own website, Truth in Media—which shares a contact phone number with a prominent member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a tax-exempt 527 political committee….

 

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.”

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At least one Georgia Democrat won’t be joining U.S. Rep. John Lewis in his boycott of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration on Friday. From Chuck Williams and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

 “Boycotting was not a consideration,” said Rep. Sanford Bishop, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes a large portion of Columbus. “The inauguration is technically a joint session of Congress. While I am not a Trump supporter, I respect the office of the president and it is my duty to attend.”

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Our assessment of Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price after four hours of Senate grilling? Barring any major, eleventh-hour developments, he’ll likely be confirmed – albeit narrowly – for secretary of health and human services.

Democrats on Wednesday pulled out all the stops to ding the Roswell Republican on his stock trades, Obamacare replacement plan and differences with President-elect Donald Trump on entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans shrugged off all of those attacks, and the math is on their side.

Bottom line, it appears that Wednesday’s Senate hearing, the first of two for Price, likely didn’t change any minds on Capitol Hill. We boil it all down here.

But the Washington Post had a single paragraph that Democrats are likely to clip and save for future reference:

Trump has pledged not to cut Medicaid or Medicare, but Price did not do the same. After [U.S. Sen. Elizabeth] Warren asked whether he had authored budget resolutions that would have cut the Medicaid program by $1 trillion over 10 years, he replied, “You have the numbers before you.” At another point, the nominee told lawmakers: “Nobody’s interested in pulling the rug out from under anybody. . . . I think there’s been a lot of talk about individuals losing health coverage. That is not our goal, nor is it our desire, nor is it our plan.”

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Trump Georgia campaign manager Billy Kirkland had a firsthand encounter with the news that Sonny Perdue got the coveted agriculture chief gig:

 

 


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