Brett Bachman

Georgia election workers sue far-right website 'The Gateway Pundit,' citing 'campaign of lies'

A far-right website known for spreading 2020 election conspiracies is being sued by election workers in Georgia who say they became the target of harassment and death threats as a result of the outlet's campaign to sow doubt about the legitimacy of President Joe Biden's victory.

The Gateway Pundit, a fringe political site run by two brothers named Jim and Joe Hoft, falsely claimed last year that Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shayne Moss, had manipulated ballots last November as part of their duties as poll workers for the Fulton County elections board, which covers the Atlanta metropolitan area. The conspiracies quickly spread after then President Donald Trump himself called them out by name last December — mentioning Freeman at least 18 times during his infamous call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Now, the pair is suing the outlet for running the evidence-free claims — following similar lawsuits by election equipment companies against right-wing publications, including Fox News, Newsmax and One America News. Freeman and Moss, both of whom are Black, are two of the first individuals to take on the influential and oftentimes conspiratorial far-right media machine that gained outsize power during Donald Trump's time in the White House.

"I want the defendants to know that my daughter and I are real people who deserve justice, and I never want them to do this to anyone else," Ms. Freeman said in a statement to The New York Times.

The pair outlined the way their lives have been upended by The Gateway Pundit's conspiracies in a lengthy report published by Reuters Wednesday, claiming that they had been deluged with threatening phone calls and even people showing up at their doors late at night in an apparent attempt to intimidate them. The wire service cited several 911 calls Freeman made after these incidents:

Freeman made a series of 911 emergency calls in the days after she was publicly identified in early December by the president's camp. In a Dec. 4 call, she told the dispatcher she'd gotten a flood of "threats and phone calls and racial slurs," adding: "It's scary because they're saying stuff like, 'We're coming to get you. We are coming to get you.'"
Two days later, a panicked Freeman called 911 again, after hearing loud banging on her door just before 10 p.m. Strangers had come the night before, too. She begged the dispatcher for assistance. "Lord Jesus, where's the police?" she asked, according to the recording, obtained by Reuters in a records request. "I don't know who keeps coming to my door."
"Please help me."

According to the lawsuit, a large group of Trump supporters even surrounded Freeman's Georgia home on Jan. 6 — just as another group was storming the U.S. Capitol building in a last-ditch attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's victory. Luckily Freeman had already fled her home on the advice of FBI agents, who predicted accurately that the day would become volatile. She apparently did not return home for more than two months following the incident.

Freeman and Moss' lawsuit was filed Thursday in a Missouri circuit court in St. Louis, where Jim Hoft maintains a residence. According to the Times, the pair is being represented by a nonprofit called Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan group "focused on resisting authoritarianism in the United States."

The lawsuit does not indicate a sum Freeman or Moss is seeking — instead, they are asking for damages to be "determined at trial."

Republicans vow revenge against Democrats if — or when — they regain power in Washington

As member after member of the House Republican caucus took the dais Wednesday to speak during debate over whether to censure fellow Rep. Paul Gosar, the topic of conversation quickly turned from what the Arizona Republican did — post an anime video in which an animated version of himself brutally murdered Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — to all the ways a conservative majority would retaliate against Democrats and reward its own members who had stood strong in the face of harsh public criticism.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the likely future House speaker if Republicans retake the majority next year, doubled down on the us-versus-them rhetoric Thursday during a press conference — even adding at one point that he planned to reinstate the committee assignments of both Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who was stripped of hers earlier this year after similarly endorsing violence against Democratic politicians. McCarthy even suggested he might reward the right-wing duo with better assignments for their refusal to apologize or equivocate.

"They'll have committees," McCarthy vowed. "The committee assignment they have now, they may have other committee assignments, they may have better committee assignments."

Another idea floated by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Thursday was to elect Donald Trump as speaker of the House — which is not outside the realm of possibility, since the speaker doesn't have to be an elected member of Congress. (Though all of them have been so far.) Meadows didn't even bother framing that as a good idea for the country or the House — just as a way to seek revenge against Democrats.

"You talk about melting down," he said during an appearance on Steve Bannon's "War Room" podcast. "I mean, people would go crazy!"

These statements underline a troubling trend for those invested in a functioning American democracy — top-level Republicans are increasingly embracing a scorched-earth brand of opposition-based politics, in which Democrats are an enemy to be fought and defeated, rather than a governing partner with competing ideas and proposals.

That became immediately apparent during a conspiratorial tirade delivered Wednesday by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who said on the House floor that Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali immigrant and Minnesota Democrat, was part of a "jihad squad," while implying that Omar had married her own brother and supported terrorism against the United States.

Even the House's so-called "moderates" appeared to endorse this behavior — Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota was quoted as saying threats of violence are something that all members of Congress will have to get used to — even if those threats are directed by fellow members. "Unfortunately, in the world we're in right now, we all get death threats, no matter what the issue is," he said.

None of this is new, even if Republican threats of revenge after a potential 2022 victory reached a fever pitch this week.

Boebert herself threatened to call for "politically motivated investigations" last week in response to the news that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon had been indicted for contempt of Congress after refusing to cooperate with a subpoena from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

"Now that Democrats have started these politically-motivated indictments for Contempt of Congress, I look forward to seeing their reactions when we keep that same energy as we take back the House next year!'" she wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio echoed the threat: "There are a lot of Republicans eager to hear testimony from [White House chief of staff] Ron Klain and [national security adviser] Jake Sullivan when we take back the House."

McCarthy even made vague threats of retaliation against telecommunications companies who were reportedly cooperating with the House select committee's request for documents, which members have said could shine a light on possible coordination between members of Congress and the organizers of the Jan. 6 rally preceding the deadly Capitol riot.

"If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law," he wrote in a statement.

And Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who was appointed to serve on the Jan. 6 committee before being blocked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi over his pledge to obstruct the group's investigation, promised to strip each member of their own assignments in much the same way Gosar and Greene had been treated.

"When we win back the majority next year, we have a duty as Republicans to hold every member of this committee accountable for this abuse of power, for stepping over the line, by preventing them from being in positions of authority," Banks said during an appearance on Fox News.

So far, it does not appear that Democrats in Congress are changing their approach in response to these threats.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., described McCarthy's threats against telecom companies as "treasonous."

When asked whether the Gosar vote could put prominent Democrats in jeopardy of losing their committee assignments come 2023, Pelosi responded: "Democrats don't threaten the lives of other members."

Whether that will save them from retribution remains to be seen.

GOP candidate claims Michael Flynn hoped to blackmail US officials into pro-Trump 'audits'

Republican Senate candidate alleged over the weekend that Michael Flynn, the retired general and former national security adviser, has sought damaging information on elected officials in a number of states, with the apparent goal of blackmailing them into supporting conspiratorial election audits meant to reinforce Donald Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

Everett Stern, a businessman who owns a private intelligence firm called Tactical Rabbit and is running for the open U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, held a press conference Saturday to share his purported findings, later tweeting out a link to the video of his remarks titled, "Everett Stern Releases New Evidence of Ongoing Domestic Terror Threat Links to General Michael T. Flynn."

"I'm here today not as a candidate running for U.S. Senate, I'm here as a citizen who is genuinely concerned about our country, sincerely concerned about the undermining of our democracy," Stern said in the opening moments of his statement. He also claimed to be in touch with federal law enforcement about the situation.

Stern claims that at least two people representing a Flynn-linked group called "Patriot Caucus" approached him earlier this year after a public speech, offering to hire his firm to gather "dirt" on officials and recruit others to assist in the plot. One of the men allegedly told Stern that they had retained the services of active intelligence officials "both domestic and foreign."

"They wanted to gather intelligence on senators, judges, congressmen, state reps, to move them towards the audit," Stern said. "The word 'move' was emphasized tremendously. It was clear to me what they wanted was not traditional opposition research — what they wanted was to extort and to literally move people towards the audit with dirt."

Stern claimed he was targeted because of his political ties in Pennsylvania, a key swing state targeted by election conspiracy theorists who longed to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory there. Patriot Caucus apparently wanted Stern to focus on two Republican state officials in particular: Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. (Toomey is retiring, and Stern is now a candidate for his seat).

"He said to me, 'PA GOP better move towards the audit, or we will crush them,'" Stern said, alleging that he feigned interest in order to gather documents and audio recordings that could be used to expose the group.

Beyond the goals that Patriot Caucus was chasing, Stern claimed, it was the methods Flynn's group encouraged Stern that made him uncomfortable.

He claims that he was told to "accomplish the mission even if you have to use domestic terrorism."

"I believe that Gen. Flynn has committed treason against the United States," Stern said on Saturday. "Based on what I have seen and witnessed, I truly believe that's the case."

Stern said he was moved to expose Flynn's alleged plot out of a moral imperative — something he said he was also familiar with as a corporate whistleblower at HSBC, where he exposed the bank's billion-dollar money-launderin scheme. The case ended with a $1.92 billion fine against HSBC.

This is just the latest controversy around Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who once headed the Defense Intelligence Agency and was later pardoned by Trump after his conviction on charges of lying to the FBI. He was pictured last summer purportedly swearing allegiance to QAnon, the conspiracy theory positing that a group of cannibalistic, pedophile Satanic elites control much of the U.S. the government. (Flynn's family later denied the video in question had anything to do with QAnon.)

He also appeared to advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, saying that a military coup like the one in Myanmar-style coup "should" happen here following Trump's loss to Joe Biden last November. (Flynn later claimed he had been misunderstood.)

Flynn did not respond to Salon's request for comment.

Watch Stern's full remarks here via YouTube:


Election integrity? Glenn Youngkin's 17-year-old son tried to vote in Tuesday's election — twice

Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin's teenage son tried to vote in Tuesday's election — twice — despite being clearly too young to legally cast a ballot, election officials said Friday.

The statement released by Fairfax County said the 17-year-old, who is not being identified because he is a minor, did not break any election laws and will not be charged with a crime.

He apparently walked into a voting site at the Great Falls Library in Great Falls, Virginia, and handed over his drivers' license to election officials when asked for identification, according to a precinct captain who spoke with the Washington Post.

It didn't take long for the woman, Jennifer Chanty, to notice who the teen was — after which she informed him that Virginia law stipulates that voters must be at least 18 years old on election day in order to legally vote. The only time a 17-year-old may cast a ballot is in a primary election, and even then they must provide proof that they will turn 18 before the general election.

Chanty told the Post that she offered to register him for the next election, but he refused and left the polling place.

Then, roughly 20 minutes later, Youngkin's son returned to insist that he be allowed to vote, citing another 17-year-old friend who had done so earlier in the day.

"I told him, 'I don't know what occurred with your friend, but you are not registered to vote today. You're welcome to register, but you will not be voting today,' " Chanty said.

Making the situation even more strange was the fact that the Youngkin family was registered to vote at a different election site.

"It was just weird," Chanty added.

A Youngkin campaign official, Devin O'Malley, released a fiery statement following reports of the incident being made public, calling them "opposition research" pitched by his "political opponents."

"It's unfortunate that while Glenn attempts to unite the Commonwealth around his positive message of better schools, safer streets, a lower cost of living, and more jobs, his political opponents — mad that they suffered historic losses this year — are pitching opposition research on a 17-year old kid who honestly misunderstood Virginia election law and simply asked polling officials if he was eligible to vote; when informed he was not, he went to school," O'Malley wrote.

For months, a key pillar of Youngkin's campaign was "election integrity" — the now governor-elect went so far as to promise an "election integrity task force" that would monitor elections for fraud and advocated several times for audits of election machines, something that is already mandated under Virginia law.

Still, Chanty told the Post she believes the incident was simply a mistake.

"Teenagers do stupid things," she said. "I'll chalk it up to that. I'll believe that first before anything else."

Of course multi-level marketing companies are showering Kyrsten Sinema with cash

What do Amway, Isagenix, Nu Skin Enterprises and Herbalife have in common?

For starters, they're all multi-level marketing businesses, engaged in the oftentimes-disparaged industry of convincing their customers to become salespeople. They're also all recent donors to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the iconoclastic Arizona Democrat whose campaign donations, in lieu of direct statements on her political priorities, have become scrutinized in recent months as tea leaves of sorts for the Washington set interested in swaying her powerful vote in the evenly-divided chamber.

All four of the above companies gave Sinema $2,500 at various points this year, as did USANA Health Sciences and the executive chairman of Mary Kay, Richard Raymond Rogers, according to POLITICO, which first reported the donations.

The outlet notes that Sinema is one of the only national-level politicians the companies, all connected to the trade group Direct Selling Association, have made donations to.

It's perhaps not all that surprising, given Sinema's direct connection to the industry — her mother was involved in multi-level marketing at various points in her own life.

When asked by POLITICO, the Direct Selling Association deflected, saying, "contributions to candidates from DSA's political action committee are based on a variety of factors." But it would appear the donations have at least some connection to Sinema's labor organizing stance — specifically, her position as the only Senate Democrat hostile to the union-friendly Protecting the Right to Organize Act, better known as the PRO Act.

The bill would restrict businesses' ability to classify workers as independent contractors, which presents a challenge for MLM businesses that rely on non-traditional employees.

Sinema's recent enthusiasm for bucking the Democratic Party's consensus has earned her a number of allies across a number of industries, raking in more than $1.1 million in the third quarter of this year, according to POLITICO. Most recently, her blockbuster campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry have come under fire after she jockeyed to kill a prescription pricing reform bill that proved wildly popular in opinion polls across nearly every demographic.

New report on the Manhattan DA's  investigation reveals the danger for Trump is still very real

Another long-term grand jury, created with the intention of hearing evidence against former president Donald Trump's business empire (and potentially vote on criminal charges), was convened by the Manhattan district attorney recently, according to a report.

These proceedings, the second grand jury formed in Manhattan DA Cy Vance's ongoing probe of the Trump Organization, are expected to examine whether Trump's company valued its assets in a way that allowed it to criminally skirt tax liabilities, according to a source who spoke with The Washington Post.

This differentiates the current grand jury from a previous one Vance had convened this past spring to handle allegations that the Trump Organization dodged millions of dollars on their taxes by hiding their compensation from the IRS using assets and apartment payments, among other things. That probe ended with charges against the company's former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and other executives.

For their part, both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty.

Vance is set to leave office by the end of the year following Tuesday's election — leaving the new Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, to inherit the investigation into the twice-impeached former president's business dealings. Vance declined to speak with the Post about his investigation, while Bragg has also repeatedly declined to make a statement about the matter while on the campaign trail.

The new grand jury is set to meet at least three days a week over the next six months, the Post reported, and will be shunted off to a courtroom normally reserved for estate disputes due to the crush of post-pandemic trial activity.

Trump and his family have blasted Vance's probe in the past, saying the investigation — as well as another spearheaded by New York Attorney General Letitia James — is motivated strictly by political animus.

"This type of targeting and harassment violates every ethical guideline of a prosecutor," Eric Trump previously told the Post. "It's wrong."

This isn't the first time the Trump Organization is facing allegations that it manipulated the valuation of its assets in order to avoid taxes — in court filings James has indicated that her investigation is focusing in part on the valuations of a Trump golf course in Los Angeles, an office building he owns on Wall Street in Manhattan and a suburban New York estate called Seven Springs.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen also made similar accusations during Congressional testimony in 2019.

"It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes," Cohen said at the time.

It is unclear whether Vance's second grand jury will return any charges — it remains possible that the proceedings end without issuing any indictments.

Republicans have a new idea to fix the labor shortage: Loosen child labor laws

Republican-controlled legislatures in several states have come up with a novel way to stem the effects of an ongoing labor shortage: loosen child labor laws governing the number of hours and times that teenagers are allowed to work.

It's not exactly a new strategy. Businesses hiring minimum-wage employees across the country have advertised their use of teenagers to plug the holes in their workforce for months, especially fast-food chains like Chipotle, Burger King and McDonalds, among others. Seasonal work in tourism-heavy industries like amusement parks have also doubled-down on the strategy.

But at least two states, Wisconsin and Ohio, are now pushing for new laws that would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work longer hours — the most brazen attempts to expand American businesses' use of teenage labor in decades.

In Ohio, the Republican-controlled state legislature took up a measure last month to allow businesses to keep teenagers under the age of 16 at work until 9 p.m., with a parent's permission. Previously, they had only been allowed to work until 7 p.m. The bill was introduced by two Republicans and one Democrat.

Likewise, the Wisconsin Senate last month also passed a bill which would allow businesses to hire 14- and 15-year-olds to work from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weeknights or 11 p.m. on weekends. The measure would only apply to businesses which run less than $500,000 in sales annually and aren't governed by a federal statute known as the Fair Labor Standards Act.

If approved by the state Assembly, which appears likely, its fate will lie with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. It remains unclear whether he will veto the measure or not.

It's just the latest attempt in a long line of Republican-led changes to the state's child labor code over the last decade, according to an analysis in The Guardian. In 2011, Wisconsin eliminated limits on the number of hours — and days — that minors aged 16-17 could work, and even replaced the phrase "child labor" in state law with "employment of minors" in 2017.

The most recent changes have attracted support from a number of powerful service-industry lobbies, such as the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, who say it will help to solve businesses' staffing issues and teach teenagers a healthy work ethic.

On the other side, the measure has attracted ire from the AFL-CIO and a number of the state's high-profile Democrats, who uniformly appear to oppose the bill.

"It's a nice workaround," state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, told WISN-TV last month. "I think in reality if those employers are looking for workers, what frankly the market should dictate is they should be raising wages, offering additional benefits."

A number of high-profile progressives have echoed those sentiments — with some even pushing back against the mainstream narrative that a widespread worker shortage exists in the first place. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said on her Instagram recently that what America is confronting isn't a labor shortage, but a "dignified job shortage."

Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, told Salon that the larger issue at play is why kids would have to work in the first place.

"A lot of families are in such dire economic conditions that they might agree to send their kids to work because of necessity." she said. "But that's the problem. If you get up and go to work every day, you shouldn't be living in poverty, you shouldn't be living in such dire situations."

The increasing reliance on American teenagers to work more hours is also leading to a number of negative outcomes for children who are forced into the labor market at younger ages — including increasing rates of substance abuse and high school dropouts, research shows.

In an op-ed for the Bucks County Courier Times, a local Pennsylvania newspaper, high school junior Darcy Leight wrote that she and her peers were experiencing burnout at much higher rates due to the increasing pressure to work longer hours in recent months.

"A job I intended to work strictly during the summer has somehow found its way into my fall schedule and has become almost equivalent to academics on my priority list. And I don't even know how it happened," she wrote. "The coupling of a job anywhere from five to 35 hours a week along with being a student is extremely stressful."

Fox News host prasies Jen Psaki 'one of the best press secretaries ever'

Former White House correspondent and current Fox News host Chris Wallace had some high praise for President Joe Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, this week, calling her "one of the best press secretaries ever."

He made the comments on Friday while talking about an especially heated back-and-forth between Fox News reporter Peter Doocy and Psaki, that he referred to as "two people at the top of their game."

"I think that [Doocy] has become the Sam Donaldson of this White House press corps," he said, referring to the ABC News White House correspondent known for his tough questions during the Ronald Reagan Administration. "And Jen Psaki, I think, is one of the best press secretaries ever."

"I don't know that anything was particularly accomplished, but they both gave and got pretty good," Wallace added.

Wallace also said he gave the comments "grudgingly," since he knew Donaldson personally and worked as a White House correspondent during the Reagan years at NBC News.

Republicans rush to mock Alec Baldwin in wake of tragic film set accident

Less than 24 hours after a tragic New Mexico film set accident involving Alec Baldwin claimed the life of a cinematographer and injured the movie's director, Republicans were already making light of the incident and cracking jokes about Baldwin, a longtime right-wing boogeyman.

The A-lister was reportedly rehearsing for a scene in the western, "Rust," when he fired a prop gun that was loaded with a "live single round." The shot killed the film's 42-year-old director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and injured director Joel Souza, 48, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 44 said in an email to its members.

Just hours after news of the incident broke, Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance was already online and gloating about the situation.

"Dear @jack," he wrote, tagging Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. "Let Trump back on. We need Alec Baldwin tweets."

The message was not received well, and drew criticism from Vance's prospective Democratic opponent, Tim Ryan, who replied: "Someone died, you assh*le."

But he wasn't the only one deriding Baldwin in the wake of the tragedy — conservative commentator Candace Owens added in a since-deleted Tweet that "what has happened to Alec would be poetic justice if it weren't for the actual innocent people that were murdered by him."

She later added: "Will correct that last tweet to say Alec Baldwin *killed* someone— not murdered someone, as murder carries a different legal definition."

A number of other pundits and right-wing personalities also jumped on a tweet of Baldwin's from the first round of Black Lives Matter protests, in 2014, which read: "I'm going to make bright, banana-yellow T-shirts that read: "My hands are up. Please don't shoot me." Who wants one?"

Even Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., got in on the action, posting a screenshot of Baldwin's tweet with the caption: "@AlecBaldwin are these still available? Asking for a movie producer…"

The comments horrified a number of Twitter users, who flooded the Congresswoman's replies with admonitions.

"Have you no shame? Remove this tweet. It's utterly disrespectful to the victim & her family," one person wrote.

"I'm sorry you are so broken inside," another added.

Baldwin released his first statement Friday since the incident occurred, saying the he was cooperating with authorities and that he has spoken with Hutchins' family.

"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours," he tweeted.

"I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna."

The 'War on Christmas' rhetoric began on Oct. 4 with a Fox & Friends segment — and it won't stop anytime soon

Christmas is still more than two months away — but that hasn't stopped President Joe Biden from ruining the holiday, at least in the minds of Republican lawmakers and right-wing pundits.

"This is the guys who is trying to steal Christmas," the House Republican caucus tweeted this week, typo and all, alongside a strangely framed picture of Biden's back as he walked away from a podium. "Americans are NOT going to let that happen."

This sort of holiday culture war sentiment is, of course, nothing new for high-profile conservatives. The "War on Christmas" as a rhetorical concept dates back to at least 2005, with the release of a book written by the right-wing radio host, John Gibson, appropriately titled, "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought."

Since then, it has become an annual yuletide tradition of sorts for Americans to debate whether the country is sufficiently deferential to the plurality of its citizens who celebrate the Christian holiday, and a favorite topic for conservative-leaning news outlets like Fox News as the end-of-year news cycle slows. But this year's histrionics are notable for one reason, at least — they're starting months earlier than normal.

he outrage du jour this time around is centered around rising inflation and a growing supply-chain crisis, which is causing a number of shipping bottlenecks that have slowed the modern economy's system of just-in-time delivery and threaten to roll back the dizzying array of consumer choices Americans have come to expect around the holidays.

Though there are myriad issues causing the current snarls — with an ongoing pandemic deserving most of the blame for all of them — Fox News and other right-wing outlets have seized on the idea that Biden's policies are what's causing the situation. It's not exactly an unpopular opinion, with an October Quinnipiac poll showing that just 29% of Americans think the economy is in "good" condition.

But some outlets have taken the argument a step further, seeming to suggest that Biden and in some cases public health health authorities are actively conspiring to stifle Christmas celebrations for some reason.

The "War on Christmas" rhetoric began this year on Oct. 4, to be exact, with a segment on Fox & Friends that also managed to work in a shot on right-wing boogeyman Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House COVID-19 adviser under both Biden and former President Donald Trump.

"No wonder Dr. [Anthony] Fauci is about to cancel Christmas," host Brian Kilmeade lamented, apparently referring to a statement of caution Fauci had made weeks earlier about planning large family gatherings in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "We're not going to have any presents anyway, so it's going to really work out," Kilmeade added.

The segment was full of these sentiments, from host Greg Gutfeld calling 2021 America a "dystopia" to Dana Perino's insistence that the Biden Administration was entering a "crisis of confidence danger zone" over his handling of the situation.

Over the last week, it has quickly become a Republican talking point that Biden is "stealing" or "ruining" Christmas — even Trump got in on the action, blasting out a mass email through "Save America," his PAC, dubbing this year's holiday "Biden's Blue Christmas."

The House Republican caucus even tweeted out a picture Thursday of Biden's face superimposed on Dr. Suess' iconic Christmas-hating character "The Grinch."

The Biden White House, for its part, doesn't dispute that things like slow shipping and marginally higher prices for consumer goods are happening. Instead, officials have taken to pointing out that a lot of the problems impacting the economy right now began last year while Trump was president, and have defied the easy solutions championed by Republicans, like ending enhanced pandemic-era unemployment insurance.

The Biden Administration this week announced it would move several California ports to a 24-7 schedule that will hopefully speed up supply chain delays, though it remains to be seen whether the effort will have an impact.

"There will be things that people can't get," a senior White House official told Reuters this week when asked about holiday shipping. "At the same time, a lot of these goods are hopefully substitutable by other things."

"I don't think there's any real reason to be panicked, but we all feel the frustration and there's a certain need for patience to help get through a relatively short period of time."

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Happy Holidays!