Steve Bannon’s COVID Podcast Is Being Distributed by a Convicted Crook
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Steven Bannon's platform for broadcasting COVID-19 conspiracy theories is being spread by a fraudster who has a long list of decades of serious arrests and a federal fraud conviction for bank fraud.
War Room: Pandemic is a podcast and radio program that appeals to a MAGA audience and focuses on the corona virus. It is moderated by President Trump's former White House chief strategist and former Nigel Farage adviser Raheem Kassam.
It has treated COVID-19 and spread false narratives about the virus, including weighting the unproven theory that it was somehow man-made.
The one-hour shows, watched by millions and originally started as War Room: Impeachment in October and then pandemic in late January, are part of a stall of Trump-oriented conservative news programs broadcast by America's Voice News (AVN), a website and a satellite television network.
AVN is run by Robert Sigg of Colorado, who has a criminal background and has historically donated to democratic political candidates and causes in an unusual twist. Sigg operates AVN through another entity, Performance One Media LLC.
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Sigg's arrest log goes back to the 1980s and includes arrests for domestic violence, driving under influence, assault, battery, burglary, and drug-related offenses. The charge was later dismissed.
Sigg also has a track record of white-collar crime; In 2006, he was sentenced for his role in a $ 19 million mortgage fraud program. At the time of his arrest, the FBI announced that Sigg and his co-defendants were charged with "allegedly playing a part in a system of obtaining loans with stolen identities and then using the proceeds of the loan to buy inferior homes."
Sigg pleaded guilty to bank fraud, and a federal court sentenced him to imprisonment and ordered him to pay more than $ 140,000 in restitution.
His son Austin is no stranger to law enforcement either; He was sentenced to life in 2013 for kidnapping and murdering a 10-year-old girl from Westminster, Colorado.
Although Sigg hosts a right-wing extremist news source, it has donated approximately $ 72,000 to the Democratic Party, its concerns and candidates, including the Committee for Democratic Congress Campaigns, the 2016 Clinton Campaign, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer. It is unclear why he changed loyalty and jumped on the MAGA train.
Sigg and AVN did not respond to repeated requests for comments.
A Bannon spokesman did not answer any questions as to whether Bannon knew about Sigg's criminal background, his connection with the Democratic Party, or whether the former CEO of Breitbart News would continue to work with AVN.
"America's Voice News was one of a dozen of our strong distribution partners who have enabled us to reach over tens of millions of views and over 10 million downloads," the spokesman said in a statement to The Daily Beast. "With a lively and diverse audience, the show is growing aggressively worldwide, including in China, where it is broadcast in Mandarin via the firewall."
The show is also broadcast on YouTube, John Fredericks Radio Network, Newsmax TV and Salem Radio Network and can be downloaded on podcast platforms. Bannon plans to expand its reach further with Spanish-language and Portuguese versions of the show.
The coronavirus pandemic and conservative response to public health containment measures have made AVN one of the most viral and controversial segments to date - an interview with Massachusetts Senate anti-vaccine activist and candidate Shiva Ayyadurai, who claimed that the science behind it is COVID-19 and the U.S. response to it are part of a conspiracy between Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates that is said to affect Trump's re-election opportunities.
According to Ayyadura, Fauci is "a man" embedded "in the deep state" and "deeply embedded in the education of the Big Pharma Medical School".
The segment went viral among QAnon fans and conspiracy theorists against vaccination, with six million hits on YouTube alone before it was removed from the video sharing platform.
One of the largest providers of content from Bannon's Warroom.org and America's Voice News on social media is Bannon's own political action committee, Citizens of the American Republic.
Citizens of the American Republic (COAR) is an organization established by Bannon in accordance with 501 (c) (4). The Facebook page is one of the most common amplifiers of America's Voice News and War Room: Pandemic on Facebook. COAR drives the ideologies of "economic nationalism" and "America First".
Sigg is just the youngest media manager to have partnered with rich Bob and Rebekah Mercer, who funded his tenure at Breitbart, since separating from Bannon in 2018.
More recently, Bannon, who was dismissed from his role in the White House, has wooed Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire who fled the People's Republic after allegations of corruption by Chinese officials, and presented himself as a whistleblower and dissident on arrival in the United States.
Guo Media has signed a million dollar contract with Bannon to provide "strategic advisory services" and to improve the profile of Guo's news companies. Guo has been a repeat guest on Bannon's show and, like Bannon, is a proponent of conspiracy theory that the coronavirus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan.
In the February 21 issue of War Room: Pandemic, Bannon asked Wengui about the origins of the novel corona virus and whether it came from a "wet market" in Wuhan or from a "biological weapons program".
"I think there is no doubt that this is man-made, not fish and animal markets," said Wengui. "This is really ridiculous."
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