The initial New York Times review of Sound of Freedom, a thriller based on child-trafficking-buster Tim Ballard, was negative but nonpolitical. But now that Donald Trump has spoken up in favor, the Times has jumped back into the media-manufactured controversy, as did taxpayer-supported National Public Radio.
Anjali Huynh’s strange hit piece, “Trump Promotes ‘Sound of Freedom,’ a Conservative Hit About Child Trafficking,” made the news section of Thursday’s paper.
The online teaser headline: “Trump Screens ‘Sound of Freedom,’ A Film Popular With Conservatives — Hosting a screening at his private club, the former president is the most prominent Republican to embrace a film lauded by both mainstream conservatives and far-right QAnon believers.”
Based on real-life events, the movie stars Jim Caviezel as Tim Ballard, a former federal agent who sought to rescue South American children from sex traffickers. Its themes have resonated with a wide range of conservatives, including mainstream Republicans who have focused heavily on education and other children’s issues, evangelicals who have responded to the movie’s religious overtones, and far-right QAnon believers who have for years spread alarmist fears of child endangerment.
And Mr. Caviezel himself has promoted baseless QAnon theories. Appearing on Stephen Bannon’s podcast before the movie’s release, he commented that “there is a big storm coming,” a QAnon slogan. In 2021, he spoke at a QAnon convention.
The reference to Caviezel’s odd personal theories is a double standard in itself. No Times critic faulted Michael Moore’s despicable delusions about Fidel Castro’s Cuba, or chided his left-wing fans for believing similar nonsense. Tom Cruise doesn’t have to read stories about Scientology while perusing the glowing reviews for Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning.
The Times unearthed “experts” to offer petulant criticism of a rare Hollywood movie that appeals to conservatives.
Experts on misinformation expressed misgivings about the movie’s message.
Huynh cited history professor and “conspiracy theories” expert Kathryn Olmsted: “It’s just that this renewed, highly politicized focus on it is emblematic of increasing political polarization in our society.”
The liberal media trope of Republicans “seizing” on an issue for political advantage appeared.
Republicans — many of whom were far less worried about the Trump administration’s separation of migrant children from their parents — have also seized on the issue.
The reporter even pestered innocent filmgoers.
[Malaika Villamizar, 19] was surprised to hear, however, that the movie had been promoted by Mr. Trump and other Republican politicians….
Shannon Bond also reported on the film’s alleged QAnon propaganda for NPR’s Morning Edition program Wednesday, under the rubric “Untangling Disinformation”: “Why QAnon supporters are promoting ‘Sound of Freedom’.”
After admitting Sound of Freedom was this “summer’s surprise box office hit,” Bond launched into criticism.
But the movie is also being criticized as a vehicle for conspiracy theories and misleading depictions of human trafficking — landing it in the middle of the country’s politically polarized culture wars.
The film, based on a real-life, controversial anti-trafficking activist, is being heavily promoted in conservative media….
NPR was shocked to learn that some aspects of a Hollywood movie based on a true story may not be 100% accurate, at least according to (bankrupt) left-wing media site Vice News.
Many of the missions Operation Underground Railroad describes are hard to verify or contain significant misrepresentations, according to extensive reporting by Tim Marchman and Anna Merlan of Vice News.
NPR also indulged in shrug-worthy concerns about a movie that appeals to conservatives.
These popular depictions raise concerns among anti-trafficking experts, who say they offer an incomplete portrait of a real and urgent problem.