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Insincerity Finally Caught Up To Stephen A. Smith and ESPN

“Essentially, ESPN has no problem inciting an angry social media mob, no matter who gets offended, as long as it offends a minority but increases viewership from the majority. “

Seth Everett

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Mark Rebilas/USA Today

It’s a weird feeling to write about someone who I don’t watch or listen to. I do, however, know the reach that Stephen A. Smith has and after his comments about Angels All-Star Shohei Otani, I asked a longtime colleague and frequent critic of Smith whether his antics are good or bad for broadcasting.

Etan Thomas played 10 years in the NBA after a successful college career at Syracuse. Now he is an accomplished author, commentator, and activist on many social issues. We connected on this after having hosted many radio and twitch shows together.

Why Former NBA Player Etan Thomas Believes Athlete Activism Matters - The  Aspen Institute
Courtesy: Aspen Institute

“Disrespectful, inappropriate, I mean, I don’t know how many different adjectives I can use,” Thomas said exclusively to Barrett Sports Media when asked about Smith’s comments regarding Shohei Ohtani’s use of an interpreter. “It was uncalled for, but when people see him making comments like that, they always got to think about who backed him, who funds him. Who has made him the face of their network, who puts them on every single hour, every show, every commercial you see. They’re rewarding him for doing exactly what he’s doing. And that point can’t, can’t be lost at all because he wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Smith has questioned Ohtani’s star potential since he does not speak English. After social media backlash drew the attention of ESPN, Smith offered an apology.

“I am a Black man. I religiously go off on minorities being marginalized in this nation,” Smith said on ESPN. “The reality of the situation is that you have Asians and Asian Americans out there that obviously were very, very offended by what I had to say yesterday, and I just want to look into the camera and extend my sincere apologies.”

“So they apologized,” Thomas retorted. “Then they have the other writer (Max Kellerman) do a whole segment. Why was he doing more? He (Kellerman) went on and on saying it was offensive. ESPN just looked at their ratings.”

This is not a new phenomenon. My questions that stemmed from Etan’s comments were about Jemele Hill, who made inflammatory statements about politics that ESPN seemed to have issues with. How do they have issues with Hill but not Smith?  Why the double standard?

“I think that’s why they told him to apologize,” Thomas retorted. “But I think the thing was with Jemele is there’s a correlation to my playing days and NBA Commissioner David Stern. When he was the commissioner of the NBA, they wanted athletes to stay completely away from politics? Because in David Stern’s mind, if you voiced a different opinion, that’s going to make people stop viewing.”

Essentially, ESPN has no problem inciting an angry social media mob, no matter who gets offended, as long as it offends a minority but increases viewership from the majority.  

Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman took to Twitter after Smith had apologized with a snarky shot at ESPN.

Brennaman is referring to his son Thom who was caught on a live mic saying homophobic epithets. Thom was dismissed both by FOX Sports and the Reds.  Brennaman is inferring that Smith gets away with saying such bad things that other employers would not stand for.

This is not to say Thom Brennaman should not have been punished. His words were just as hurtful. 

This is also not a biased reference to ESPN either. It’s just a request for people to make sure that if someone is suspended for something they said, then there should not be different rules for different announcers.

“I think that they market him to be like a train wreck that you can’t take your eyes off of,” Thomas said. “That’s the reason why they paid him what they paid him. He (Smith) gets paid more than 75% of the players in the NBA. They wouldn’t pay him all that money if it wasn’t successful.

“If it wasn’t providing dividends or things of that nature,” Thomas added.  “But they know it’s working. You can not watch ESPN for 15, 20 minutes without seeing him. Then you go on their page and he’s everywhere on it. You go on their Twitter, he’s everywhere. They made him the face of ESPN.”

Finally, a reference to the initial paragraph of this column. I have never seen a full broadcast that Stephen A. Smith (or Skip Bayless for that matter) was on.

Even when I was an ESPN employee (2009-2011), I never had any use for Smith. I instantly saw that he pushed people’s buttons, and while that moves a needle, I want opinions that are less forced and more genuine. There are plenty of TV and radio hosts that bring compelling content that feels honest and sincere. I could listen or watch that.

There is one exception. 

Once, in a dentist’s office, a technician turned on ESPN in the exam room.  My mouth was filled with “stuff” and I had to wait until they finished working on my tooth before I could ask her to shut it off or change it. That is literally the only time I saw three whole minutes of First Take.

As for Skip Bayless, I can attest that I only know what he looks like because of promos for him during NFL broadcasts.

I watch a lot of sports.  Games. Not pre-game shows. Not analysis. No highlights shows. And as a cord-cutter, it is SO easy that way.

BNM Writers

Chris Cuomo Interview Gives NewsNation Ratings Uptick

NewsNation hopes the upward ratings momentum continues as Cuomo joins their prime time lineup later this fall.

Douglas Pucci

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In his first interview since his CNN firing, Chris Cuomo appeared on the July 26th edition of Dan Abrams Live on nascent outlet NewsNation. Cuomo’s departure from CNN stemmed from an investigation which determined how he had advised his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid sexual harassment allegations.

Abrams pressed Cuomo on several matters concerning CNN, as well as on what he’s been doing since he left.

Cuomo stated he’s neither a victim nor guilty of many of the things that led to his ouster. Nor did he claim to be a victim of “cancel culture”, as he commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever been a victim of anything ever in my life…I don’t feel sorry for myself.”

Dan Abrams Live featuring Chris Cuomo drew 187,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. While that pales in comparison to what the three major cable news networks deliver throughout the day, the figure marked a giant boost from the program’s normal levels — it more than tripled it; for July 18-22, the original 9 p.m. telecast of Abrams averaged 56,000 viewers per weeknight.

Time-slot wise, Abrams was able to best Newsmax’s competing Prime News (115,000 viewers). But on that evening, Newsmax’s Eric Bolling: The Balance (188,000) and Greg Kelly Reports (194,000) still managed to top all NewsNation fare.

NewsNation hopes the upward ratings momentum continues as Cuomo joins their prime time lineup later this fall. His former nightly show Cuomo Prime Time — although rated behind FNC’s Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show in the 9 p.m. slot — had been CNN’s No. 1 program during its brief run.

Cable news averages for July 25-31, 2022:

Total Day (July 25-31 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.378 million viewers; 182,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.688 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.485 million viewers; 95,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.190 million viewers; 55,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.147 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.122 million viewers; 10,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.110 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.106 million viewers; 22,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (July 25-30 @ 8-11 p.m.; July 31 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.139 million viewers; 277,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.138 million viewers; 101,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.620 million viewers; 129,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.227 million viewers; 68,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.205 million viewers; 55,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.138 million viewers; 24,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.137 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.057 million viewers; 6,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.055 million viewers; 6,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 7/25/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.482 million viewers

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 7/25/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.286 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.281 million viewers

4. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 7/26/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.204 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 7/28/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.128 million viewers

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 7/28/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.090 million viewers

7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.028 million viewers

8. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 7/29/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.951 million viewers

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 7/26/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.855 million viewers

10. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.706 million viewers

20. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 7/25/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.354 million viewers

171. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Mon. 7/25/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.780 million viewers

220. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 606” (HBO, Fri. 7/29/2022 10:01 PM, 59 min.) 0.656 million viewers

337. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 7/31/2022 11:00 PM, 34 min.) 0.458 million viewers

344. The Daily Show (CMDY, Tue. 7/26/2022 11:00 PM, 31 min.) 0.448 million viewers

351. Forensic Files II “Unraveled” (HLN, Sun. 7/31/2022 10:30 PM, 30 min.) 0.432 million viewers

376. Varney & Company (FBN, Fri. 7/29/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.386 million viewers

408. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee “Episode 7215” (TBS, Thu. 7/28/2022 10:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.346 million viewers

442. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 805” (CNBC, Sun. 7/31/2022 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.311 million viewers

694. Deep Water Salvage “(209) Salvage 911” (TWC, Sun. 7/31/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.191 million viewers

705. Dan Abrams Live “Chris Cuomo Interview 7/26/22” (NWSN, Tue. 7/26/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.187 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top  programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 7/25/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.501 million adults 25-54

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.494 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.415 million adults 25-54

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 7/28/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.413 million adults 25-54

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 7/26/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.403 million adults 25-54

6. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 7/25/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.397 million adults 25-54

7. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.385 million adults 25-54

8. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.383 million adults 25-54

9. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 7/28/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.380 million adults 25-54

10. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 7/29/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.366 million adults 25-54

52. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 7/25/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.212 million adults 25-54

67. Forensic Files “Trail Of A Killer” (HLN, Thu. 7/28/2022 12:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.182 million adults 25-54

82. The Daily Show (CMDY, Tue. 7/26/2022 11:00 PM, 31 min.) 0.171 million adults 25-54

90. Don Lemon Tonight (CNN, Wed. 7/27/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.165 million adults 25-54

114. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee “Episode 7215” (TBS, Thu. 7/28/2022 10:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.148 million adults 25-54

156. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 7/31/2022 11:00 PM, 34 min.) 0.134 million adults 25-54

166. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 614” (CNBC, Sun. 7/31/2022 12:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.128 million adults 25-54

318. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 606” (HBO, Fri. 7/29/2022 10:01 PM, 59 min.) 0.093 million adults 25-54

496. America’s Morning Headquarters (TWC, Fri. 7/29/2022 9:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.064 million adults 25-54

733. Newsnation: Rush Hour (NWSN, Thu. 7/28/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.038 million adults 25-54

745. Kudlow (FBN, Wed. 7/27/2022 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.037 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

Katie Pavlich Has Experienced Success at an Early Age

Pavlich is a journalist, editor, and freak of nature regarding achievement and success. 

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She’s done more in her 34 years than my high school class combined. Katie Pavlich is a journalist, editor, and freak of nature regarding achievement and success. 

As a reporter, she has covered presidential and congressional elections, the White House, the Department of Justice, the Second Amendment, and border issues.

Her story gets better/more humbling, depending on where you stand. When she was 26, Pavlich was named Woman of the Year by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. Most 26-year-olds are consumed with growing out their man-bun or increasing their number of Tik-Tok followers. 

Did I mention she is just 34 years old? 

“I guess I was born older,” Pavlich said. “I’m kind of a grumpy millennial. I call myself an old soul that doesn’t really fit in with my generation. I was the youngest kid in camp when I was young.” 

She wrote a letter to Bill Clinton about taxes when she was eight years old.  

“My mom took me to Disneyland, and I broke down and cried because I was missing homework.”

Walt Disney’s frozen head must be sobbing. 

Pavlich grew up in the mountains of northern Arizona, rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and hunting big game with her father in the forests and deserts.

She was an athlete growing up through high school but not a runner. But, as you might expect from the last few paragraphs, that didn’t deter her. In 2019, Pavlich ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. 

“I should have trained more than I did,” she explained. “It was one of those things I needed to do for myself. There were people from so many demographics running alongside me. It was special because I was running alongside people who were injured during their service to our country overseas. I was getting passed by runners with prosthetic legs.”

She still finds time to run with friends in D.C. 

“It’s fantastic to run past the monuments and all the history. I’m not sure if I’ll run another marathon. I probably don’t have the time to train for one. I’ll probably still run some ten miles.” Pavlich said there’s a sobering mile in D.C. while running past monuments dedicated to soldiers killed in action. 

Pavlich can do more than name all 50 states; she’s been to 45 of them.

“I haven’t made it to North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi, or Alabama,” Pavlich said. “It’s easier to remember the states I haven’t been to. I heard pheasant hunting in South Dakota is great.”

Pavlich has family in Westfield, Wisconsin, outside of Madison. It’s on her mother’s side of the family—a dairy farm with 800 cows. We celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday there. I haven’t been there in far too long.”

She was born in Flagstaff, Arizona, a place Pavlich says is a lot like Colorado.

“We lived on five acres in a house built in the woods. We had beautiful views of peaks and valleys. Surrounded by elk, deer. We had a lot of snow days from school. My father was a big hunter. It’s a way of life for our family. Dad  gave me my first rifle on my 10th birthday.”

For my 10th birthday, I got a baseball mitt.

The family is steeped in respect for the land, and Pavlich’s grandfather was a park ranger in Yellowstone. She said he removed a lot of problem bears from campgrounds. 

Instead of hanging out at the mall, Pavlich rode horses in the wilderness and camped. “Even in late June, it still snowed. We were a family that lived the outdoor life.”

Cable TV was not a thing in her home until she was in high school. They couldn’t run cables out to their house. 

“We only had three channels, so I was watching a lot of local news, Hercules and Xena. I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV. I was mostly outside anyway.”

In addition to being a fan of legendary heroes, Pavlich was always fascinated with debate and politics. “I was always in tune to what was going on. When we finally got Fox News on cable, I knew I wanted to be debating on the channel.”

After graduating from college, she drove from Tucson to D.C., hungry to pursue different avenues. 

“It was a pretty big culture shock going from Arizona to D.C.,” Pavlich said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘what have I done?  Both places have a lot to offer, and it makes no sense to compare them. Virginia is beautiful and has a large black bear population. Fall is beautiful here. I’ve told myself I never want to take for granted the opportunity I’ve had to be here.”

Pavlich said she knows D.C. is known for a lot of corruption, but it’s an amazing place to see all the monuments and the National Mall. 

“This is the greatest country in the history of the earth, and so many people come here from all over to experience it. The day I can’t appreciate all of that is the day I should move somewhere else.”

After arriving in D.C., Pavlich became a contributing editor at Townhall.com, promoted to editor five years ago. “I started out low on the totem pole, but I dove in head-first. I manage a team with great writers and reporters. I’ve got some amazing columnists that submit every day. Producing new pieces by the hour. It’s exciting to see how they’ve grown in their careers. It has been very rewarding.”

Pavlich likes to give her writers and reporters a lot of freedom to pursue stories they are interested in, giving them some creative freedom. 

Keeping abreast of national news, Pavlich watched the video that recently emerged of a store owner in Narco, California. A man was protecting his store from a heavily armed, snot-nosed, wannabe robber. Before he could get close to the counter, the owner blasted the kid before he knew what hit him. 

“I loved it,” Pavlich said. “You never like to see an innocent person in a position where they have to defend themselves, but it’s great to see it when they do. It’s harrowing. The store owner had a heart attack afterward, but he’s doing okay.

I have very little tolerance for those who want to do innocent people harm. It’s our right to defend ourselves when a gun is pointed at us.”

Pavlich said the basic crux of the gun argument is that bad people will find a way to do bad things. She explained in her experience that people have a standard answer when they are asked why they choose to buy a gun. 

“The most common answer is self-defense. Surprisingly, involvement cuts across gender lines. The stats from the past few years show more women and minorities involved. As a white woman, I’m the minority there. Some of it is skeet shooting. Shooting alligators.” 

Alligators? By the way, do you know what type of gun is preferred when you prepare to shoot an alligator? An AR-15, of course.

“You shoot them right behind the jaw,” Pavlich said. “An accurate shot there will kill them.”

When shooting alligators gets a little boring, Pavlich is busy with her new Fox Nation show, “Luxury Hunting Lodges of America.” The show consists of four episodes where Pavlich and her crew visited Honey Break in Louisiana, Highland Hills in Oregon, Three Forks Ranch in Wyoming, and Gray Cliffs Ranch in Montana.

“What I love about our Fox Nation show is how we show people are more comfortable in a hunting setting. They can come back day in and day out. They can go fly fishing, ride horses.”

Shooting an elk and returning to the cabin for a glass of red wine might take away some of the ruggedness we’ve associated with hunting. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

“I’ve had a lot of experience with the rugged outdoors and hunting,” Pavlich said. “I know what it’s like to pitch a tent and cook over a fire. It’s not for everybody, but that goes both ways. What we convey on the show is the experience can be a lot like glamping but certainly a step up from tenting. (Glamping is when stunning nature meets modern luxury accommodations.)

“I’m excited we can show these hunting lodges. Every single experience was completely different. When we show the lodges, we also talk about the architecture, the history of the land. How people are using private conversation dollars, restoring properties.”

A lot of what they shot was predicated on weather, and what was available at that time. 

“I was actually surprised I caught fish when I was out there,” Pavlich said. “I caught a brown trout and a rainbow trout.”

Alligators must have breathed a collective sigh of relief. 

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BNM Writers

Will Cain Calls Out the Inflation Shell Game

Will Cain has fully hit his stride and shown the versatility network executives knew they were getting when they brought him to the network roughly two years ago.

Rick Schultz

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If anyone doubted the ability of Will Cain to jump from sports media back into news, the past two years have laid those questions aside. 

The Fox News host has fully hit his stride and shown the versatility network executives knew they were getting when they brought him to the network roughly two years ago.

Cain filled in for Tucker Carlson on Friday evening’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, and, as is his style, he wasted exactly zero minutes making his opinions known.

“If you want to know what is in a bill in Congress and what it’s actually going to do, take a good look at the name of the bill. Whatever it is, you can be sure the legislation will do the exact opposite,” Cain began. “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, for example. It led to the worst economic recovery this country had seen since World War 2.”

Cain referred to the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” which he said is nothing more than an internet sales tax that helps more prominent players “price out smaller competitors.”

“So we should all be very nervous. Very, very concerned that Congress just passed something called the ‘Inflation Reduction Act.’ It mandates hundreds of millions of new dollars in spending that will increase the money supply in this country,” Cain told his viewers. “That will, in turn, devalue the currency. And that, in turn, will cause more inflation. That’s basic supply and demand.” 

Relying on the basics, Cain believes the real-world results matter far more than any fancy title, a talking point, or political spin. More money printing equals more inflation. Two-quarters of negative GDP equals a recession. Higher gas prices equal less money left over in Americans’ pockets.

“Life is already so expensive in this country that we literally have bread lines in major cities,” he said, cutting to a segment where Camden, New Jersey, residents said they couldn’t even afford rice and beans. “That’s America. And that’s happening all across America, and you have to wonder, why then is the Biden Administration devaluing money when we have bread lines?”

True enough, political leaders of both parties have fired up the money printer to go Brrrrrrr for decades, and there is plenty of blame to be shared by any politician unwilling to make the necessary but tough choices. In this instance, however, many feel it is ridiculous to cite global warming as the impetus for heaping more economic pain on middle and lower-income Americans.

“Well, their justification for the bill is that it will stop the climate from changing. That’s why the bill includes 50 billion dollars in subsidies for electric vehicle purchases, which by the way, will lead manufacturers to jack up the price of electric vehicles. We’ve learned that lesson from healthcare subsidies and subsidies for college tuition,” Cain pointed out. “There’s also billions of dollars for the postal service to buy new mail trucks that don’t pollute as much. And of course, there’s 100 billion dollars for the so-called renewable industry.”

Cain then explained how China, while at the forefront of the “renewables” industry, continues to see annual carbon dioxide emissions increase. At the same time, the United States has experienced a steady decline in such emissions over the past couple decades. In his opinion, “China wants the rest of the world to run on so-called renewables but China doesn’t want renewables for themselves.” He pointed out the financial and strategic benefits to China when Western countries “sabotage their own energy supply in the name of protecting the climate.” 

“Like any good dealer, they don’t get high on their own supply, and most Americans recognize that,” Cain said, referring then to a recent poll by Rasmussen. “People in this country care about, of course, things like inflation, the economy, crime, immigration. By contrast, most Americans recognize the media is far more interested in pushing false narratives about climate change.”

Cain asks, where is the media drumbeat against China or India for their world-leading levels of emissions?

“Instead, the media blames Americans,” Cain said, leading into footage of cable media hosts and analysts downplaying the pain caused by higher prices and monetary inflation. 

Cain briefly highlighted the 80 billion dollars in the bill designated to grow the IRS, and wondered aloud “why do we need to make the IRS even more powerful, exactly?” He noted that the bill keeps the carried interest loophole, benefiting “wealthy individuals and institutions, in particular,” along with “hedge fund managers, who are some of the Democratic party’s biggest donors.”

Will Cain believes inflation is real, and it is painful for most everyday Americans.

He also seems to believe the media, and their Democrat partners in Washington, don’t seem to care or have any interest in leveling with citizens.

“What do Americans get out of the deal?” Cain asked. “Probably a lot more inflation, and a lot more audits.”

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