Fox News was never “fair and balanced” and was never meant to be. The slogan itself is a backhanded slap at every other media outlet that implies they are neither. It’s the same type of messaging that cults use to insure that their disciples believe only their dogma and reject all others as deceivers.
So the debate over whether Fox News is biased ended before it even began. However, there is a much more interesting debate over who is in charge of the Republican Party. Is the GOP running its own show, or are they merely a vehicle to carry out the agenda of Fox News? Several years ago former Bush speechwriter David Frum recognized a power shift and wrote that “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.” This question became even more complicated when Donald Trump’s campaign was taken over by Breitbart News (Fox-on-Steroids).
One thing that is unmistakable is that Fox News devotes all of its resources to pushing the conservative Republican political agenda. Throughout their broadcast day they provide vigorous support for right-wing candidates and policies. Their most prominent anchors are personal friends of Donald Trump, and Sean Hannity has even endorsed him on the air. And now they are literally creating pro-Trump memes to boost his campaign on social media. These are graphic advertisements that are either promoting Trump or bashing Hillary Clinton. Their are no pro-Clinton memes at all. Have a look (Slideshow):
Could this be any more brazenly partisan? Fox News is hyping some of the most ridiculous attacks on Clinton and many are purely opinions that have no basis in fact. In other words, it isn’t remotely news, it’s propaganda. When they resort to quoting Larry the Cable Guy saying that “Hillary will be the end of the country,” it’s safe to say they have crossed a line into the surreal.
Fox News has created a pro-Trump meme factory to spew GOP talking points in support of their chosen candidate. The fact that they are creating these graphics with only a single, ultra-rightist point of view should satisfy any lingering doubts about the partisan objectives of Fox News and their management. Continuing to pretend that there is an independent Republican Party is a fool’s exercise. There is now only Fox News and their political subsidiary that is marketing a racist, misogynist demagogue to its glassy-eyed congregation.
The media today is all abuzz about recidivist sexter Anthony Weiner. Clearly this guy has an addiction that is driving him into self-destructive behavior. There is a temptation among many in the press to make a joke of it, but the consequences have proven to be profoundly serious. His wife, Huma Abedin, announced that they will be separating. There is nothing funny about a broken family with an infant child. What’s funny is that the media gets more heated about quirky behavior that hurts no one, than they do about the sexual harassment by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who left a trail of victims.
In response to this marital misery, Donald Trump has lived down to expectations and found a way to take the low road as usual. Rather than express his condolences, or any concern for the child, Trump seemed overcome with glee for what he perceives to be a positive development. One that is ripe with political opportunity. His first response to the sad news was that:
“”Huma is making a very wise decision. I know Anthony Weiner well, and she will be far better off without him.”
That is an utterly disingenuous comment. Donald Trump has absolutely no idea what is best for Huma or anyone else in that family. What’s more, he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about them. He regards Huma as a traitor with allegiances to the Muslim Brotherhood. She is also an accomplice to the imagined crimes of Hillary Clinton in his conspiratorial mind. It it simply absurd for him to suddenly pretend that he has her best interests at heart. But he had more to say that just made things even worse:
“I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this.”
Try to follow Trump’s logic here. He asserts that Clinton “allowed” Weiner to have access to classified information. Weiner would have gotten that information from his wife, Huma, who is also a close aide to Clinton. So Trump believes that Huma, who has high-level security clearances from the government, is blabbing state secrets to her libidinous hubby.
The assumption Trump has to make to arrive at that conclusion is pure, unadulterated sexism. It is insulting to all women. He thinks that women who work in sensitive government jobs are untrustworthy gossips who divulge secrets in pillow talk. In his mind women are undisciplined chatterboxes with no sense of duty or patriotism. Would he be similarly worried for the country about Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann spilling the beans to their spouses?
The obvious contempt Trump has for the integrity of women is appalling. You would never hear him say anything similar about a man sharing government secrets with his wife. And if he does think that that is a credible risk, then you have to wonder what classified info he would be yakking to Melania?
It’s no surprise that the the media is getting its thrills from the tabloid sexcapades of a fallen congressman who has no power or position. But we should be far more concerned with the misogyny of the Republican nominee for president. If Donald Trump doesn’t think women can serve the nation honorably, then he has no business asking for their votes. Or for that matter, the votes of their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons.
Desperation is often best measured by the ludicrous lengths one will go to in order to attack an opponent. And by that measure Fox News is off the charts desperate. They appear to have made the calculation that Hillary Clinton’s prospects for beating the pants off of Donald Trump are so great that there is no depth too low for them to sink to. Case in point, the story they posted Saturday on their Fox Nation website: “KKK Grand Dragon Endorses Hillary Clinton.”
Fox Nation has never been known for honest reporting (see the ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality that catalogs their blatant lies). And this story affirms their shameful reputation. It was published just as Trump is vainly attempting to deflect the racism that is central to his campaign. His futile strategy has been to try to turn the tables by calling Clinton a bigot. Never mind that her support among African-Americans is over eighty percent compared to his in the low single digits.
Fox Nation’s article was sourced to a posting by Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft, aka the Dumbest Man on the Internet (serioulsy, Google it)). The epic wrongness of it is readily apparent to anyone with an IQ higher than their age.
First of all, Hoft had to reach back to a story that was published almost six months ago. The original story was about a confrontation between Ku Klux Klan members in Anaheim, CA, with Klan protesters and police. There was no current event that might have justified reprising the story. It was essentially just a memory he felt like revisiting. So of course Fox links to it as if it were breaking. The only commentary attached to it was an excerpted exchange between a professor who videotaped the affair and the leader of the tiny Klan chapter that organized it.
In that video Prof. Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and
Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, asked Grand Dragon Will Quigg who he was supporting for president. Quigg answered simply “Hillary Clinton.” And on the basis of that, Hoft and Fox News composed headlines that proclaimed the Klan’s endorsement of Clinton.
However, much was left out of Fox’s reporting. For instance, the Huffington Post published an article last March on this wherein they got a more complete explanation of Quigg’s alleged endorsement. He said at the time that he believes Clinton has a secret agenda that is aligned with his white supremacist hate group:
“She is telling everybody one thing, but she has a hidden agenda,” said Quigg. “She’s telling everybody what they want to hear so she can get elected, because she’s Bill Clinton’s wife, she’s close to the Bushes. Once she’s in the presidency, she’s going to come out and her true colors are going to show. Border policies are going to be put in place. Our Second Amendment rights that she’s saying she’s against now, she’s not against. She’s just our choice for the presidency.”
Sounds like Quigg is describing Trump’s platform perfectly. Where he got the idea that Clinton is a Klan double agent is a mystery that is confined to his diseased brain. However, Prof. Levin, an expert on racial hate groups, had something to say about Quigg’s “endorsement” that was also missing from Fox’s reporting:
“It’s not true,” Levin said. “His recent publicized change of heart stands in sharp contrast to his consistent and effusive support over the last six months for Mr. Trump. I just totally don’t buy it. Quigg is playing everybody. […] These guys play the press all the time. Quigg is just pivoting. He’ll get some attention and he knows it’ll take a little heat off Trump.”
Further analysis holds that Quigg is distancing himself from a Klan rival, David Duke, who has endorsed Trump. Additionally, Quigg may be trying to avoid undermining Trump while simultaneously tarnishing Clinton. He knows that the Klan’s support would hurt whomever receives it, so he is doling it out strategically. However, he has been expressing his devotion to Trump for over a year, as evidenced by this tweet:
@realDonaldTrump You Sir are the only hope we have of getting WHITE AMERICA BACK! WE all will be voting for you! CHURCH OF INVISABLE EMPIRE
This isn’t the first time that Fox has tried to draw the dishonest connection between Clinton and the Klan. Just a couple of days ago Fox Nation posted an article with this headline: “Flashback: Hillary Clinton Praised Former KKK Member Robert Byrd as ‘Friend and Mentor'” That was another retread that was just as deceptive. It referenced a six month old column in the ultra-rightist Daily Caller that itself referenced a video from 2010 of Clinton offering condolences following the death of Sen. Byrd. Conservatives frequently try to smear the late senator despite the fact that he renounced his youthful Klan membership decades ago. In no uncertain terms he apologized and condemned racism and the groups that espouse it. He was honored by the NAACP in a letter after he died as a “Champion for Civil Rights and Liberties.”
In light of the above, it’s clear that Fox News is frantically trying to defame Clinton by inventing an utterly false association with a despised organization. It’s a far-fetched effort, particularly since many other Klan groups have already pledged their allegiance to Donald Trump. Many white supremacists are actively campaigning for him. And no amount of lies and race-baiting by Fox can erase the stain of Trump’s bigotry that has been so much a part of his campaign for the past year.
Thursday Hillary Clinton delivered a scathing address that castigated Donald Trump for his affiliations with right-wing extremists. She fully documented her allegations and often used his own words for confirmation. Subsequently, Trump and his allies struck back with baseless accusations that Clinton was a bigot. He insisted that he was being unfairly maligned and that there was nothing untoward about his political views or relationships. But less than twenty-four hours later, Trump is already proving his extremist bona fides.
The latest instance began a few weeks ago when a Trump adviser went ballistic (so to speak) on Hillary Clinton during Jeff Kuhner’s talk radio show. New Hampshire state representative Al Baldasaro, who co-chairs the Trump campaign’s national veterans coalition, began ranting about Benghazi. Not surprisingly, he blamed Clinton for the whole thing:
“She is a disgrace for the lies that she told those mothers about their children that got killed over there in Benghazi. She dropped the ball on over 400 emails requesting back up security. Something’s wrong there. I wish they’d made the documents public on why Anderson was – the Ambassador Anderson – because in my mind I want to think were they moving guns? Were they doing something there? How did they know he was even there?”
First of all, the ambassador to Libya was Chris Stevens, something a veterans adviser ought to know. Secondly, accusing a murdered diplomat of unlawfully running guns, without any evidence, is beyond reprehensible. But Baldasaro wasn’t finished:
“This whole thing disgusts me. Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.”
That grotesque comment earned Baldasaro a visit from the U.S. Secret Service. You’ll notice that he never said that she should be tried or convicted. It’s the sort of hateful discharge that has become all too common among Trump’s associates. And for that matter, Trump himself. Recall his conjecture that only the “second amendment people” could stop Hillary Clinton from nominating Supreme Court justices.
Flash forward to the present. Trump gave an interview to Paul Steinhauser of New Hampshire’s NH1 News, and the subject came up again. It led to the following exchange (Video: Segment begins at 1:54):
Steinhauser: One of your good friends and one of your biggest supporters here in New Hampshire, state Rep. Al Baldasaro, he’s here today. He said some controversial things over the last month or two about Hillary Clinton, suggesting she should be put in front of a firing squad for treason. What do you think about his comments? Do you condone them?
Trump: Well, I didn’t know that but I will tell you he’s a very fine person. He is a person that loves the military and loves the veterans. He is a man that, as far as veterans and veterans affairs goes, I don’t think anybody knows more than Al. He loves the veterans and what I really know about him is that nobody wants to take care of the veterans of this country, who have been treated horribly, more than Al. So that’s what I do know.
Steinhauser: But you don’t condone any comments?
Trump: I don’t know what he said. You’d have to show me what he said.
Trump’s awkward response was an obvious attempt to dodge the question. He seemed to think that if he said “veterans” enough (five times) the reporter would become hypnotized and unable proceed with the interview. That plan failed, and when asked again Trump feigned ignorance. He claimed that he needed to know what Baldasaro said, even though Steinhauser had just told him. The only principled response to such a question is “I do not condone any calls for violence of any kind.” It isn’t really that hard if you have principles.
What makes this even worse is that Trump lied about not knowing what Baldasaro said. When the comment was originally made in July, Trump was asked to respond. His campaign spokesperson, Hope Hicks, told NH1 News that “We’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.” So apparently Trump did know about Baldasaro’s repugnant comments and instructed Hicks to renounce them. Unless his spokesperson is putting words in his mouth without consulting him. Neither of those options represent the qualities necessary for national leadership. And why is he refusing to renounce the same comments now? Is he afraid of offending his friends in the alt-right?
Trump’s supporters have a history of expressing their views about Clinton with overtly violent overtones. For example, the Riverside County GOP tweeted a photo of an executioner with the caption “Ready for Hillary.” Ted Nugent shared a video on Facebook of Clinton being shot by Bernie Sanders. The death threats aimed at Clinton frequently come from notable Republicans, rather than from anonymous Internet trolls. And Trump’s response to these incidents is clearly encouraging this abhorrent behavior.
This election cycle has produced some of the most outlandish and offensive affiliations ever recorded in American politics. Donald Trump’s shameless exploitation of ultra-right ideologies is marking new territory for fringe players. The Republican nominee’s unsavory ties to Russian oligarchs and Mafia Dons is unprecedented. But Hillary Clinton’s address yesterday was a rare condemnation of a candidate’s overt bigotry and a damning summation of Trump’s bond with America’s white supremacist movement.
Clinton spoke about how Trump’s campaign has mainstreamed the “alt-right” hate movement. She began by noting that the divisive rhetoric spewed by Trump “is like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for President of the United States.” What follows are highlights from the speech (full video below).
“From the start Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party. His disregard for the values that make our country great are profoundly dangerous.”
“A man with a long history of racial discrimination who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of the supermarket tabloids and the dark, far reaches of the Internet should never run our government or command our military.”
Clinton then pointed out that: Trump was sued by the Justice Department – twice – for refusing to rent to black and Latino tenants; that he is the nation’s foremost birther; that he said a federal judge could not do his job because he was of Mexican heritage; that he failed to disavow former Klan leader David Duke; and that by retweeting white supremacists“Trump took this fringe bigot with a few dozen followers and spread his message to eleven million people.”
Clinton also recited some of Trump’s blatant lies, such as his claim to have seen thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the World Trade Center. A celebration that never actually happened. He also accused Ted Cruz’s father of being involved in the Kennedy assassination. She also mocked his medical prognosis saying that “His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health. And all I can say is ‘Donald, dream on.'” She then outlined some of Trump’s nefarious sources and supporters.
“It’s also what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones [of InfoWars], who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma bombings were inside jobs. He even said – and this really is so disgusting – the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there. I don’t know what happens in somebody’s mind, or how dark their heart must be, to say things like that. But Trump doesn’t challenge these lies. He actually went on Jones’ show and said ‘Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.'”
“He may have some new people putting words in his mouth, but we know where he stands. He would form a deportation force to round up millions of immigrants and kick them out of the country. He’d abolish the bedrock constitutional principle that says if you’re born in the United States you’re an American citizen. He says that children born to undocumented parents in America are ‘anchor babies’ and should be deported. He’d ban Muslims from around the world from entering our country just because of their religion.”
“Look at who he’s put in charge of his campaign. Trump likes to say that he only hires the best people. But he’s had to fire so many campaign managers it’s like an episode from The Apprentice. And the latest shake was designed to ‘Let Trump be Trump.’ So to do that he hired Stephen Bannon, the head of a right-wing website called breitbart.com as the campaign CEO. Now to give you a flavor of his work, here are a few headlines they published, and I’m not making this up: Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy; Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?; Gabby Giffords, the gun control movement’s human shield; Hoist it high and proud, the Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage. […] Just imagine, Donald Trump reading that and thinking ‘This is what I need more of in my campaign.'”
“According to the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks hate groups, Breitbart embraces ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. This is not conservatism as we have known it. This is not Republicanism, as we have known it. These are racist ideas, race-baiting ideas, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-woman. All key tenets making up the emerging racist ideology known as the alt-right.”
“The grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism is Russian President Vladimir Putin. […] Trump himself heaps praise on Putin and embraces pro-Russian policies. He talks casually about abandoning our NATO allies, recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, giving the Kremlin a free hand in Eastern Europe.”
“All of this adds up to something we have never seen before. There has always been a paranoid fringe in American politics, a lot of it arising from racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.”
This was a powerful denunciation of Trump’s affinity for the far-right freakshow that makes up America’s deviant demographic. It was a profoundly candid rebuke that is not often seen in political debates that frequently attempt to temper strong opinions. But it was effective and necessary and it has put Republicans on edge. They have yet to counter a single factual point made in the speech. And Donald Trump, usually a bombastic defender of his vile bigotry, could only muster a tweet criticizing Clinton’s speech for being too short. Like he could withstand more of this.
Last night CNN anchor Anderson Cooper appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He may not have been expecting the good-natured grilling he was in for. What took place was another example of a comedy show producing better journalism than the “serious” media.
Early in the interview Colbert bit into the meaty subject of CNN’s disgraceful relationship with Donald Trump’s former campaign manager. A few days after leaving the Trump team, Corey Lewandowski signed on with CNN. In the following exchange Cooper sheepishly admits that CNN is employing a commentator who is also a campaign operative.
Colbert: So, he works for you guys. Does he still get any money from the Trump people at the same time?
Cooper: I believe I read he gets a severance, continuing severance from the Trump campaign.
Colbert: So ya’ll are paying him, and Trump is paying him, but he’s on your show doing analysis for a man he still gets cash from?
Cooper: Pretty much. Yeah, I guess that’s one way to look at it. I mean, yes.
That’s pretty much the only way of looking at it. Even worse, Lewandowski has a non-disparagement contract with Trump. So CNN hired a commentator who is contractually prohibited from saying anything negative. Cooper’s only response to this was that “We have people from all the campaigns.” Which is not actually true. While they will invite campaign staff to appear on the network, there are none who are employees while still on the payroll of the candidate. Other than Lewandowski, that is.
As the interview continued, Colbert asked whether Trump is still doing interviews with CNN. Cooper confirmed that he is not, noting that he’s only been doing interviews with Fox News. He elaborated saying that “He does a lot of interviews with Hannity.”“Who evidently advises his campaign at the same time,” Colbert replied. This is all accurate, but for some reason Cooper only talks about it on The Late Show. CNN’s viewers would benefit from this information.
The best moment came when the discussion got to Trump’s wavering positions on immigration. Colbert observed that Trump has been less than forthcoming about his stance, which has been shifting wildly in the past couple of days. Then Colbert offered this homey perspective from Trump’s point of view:
“There’s a little bit of “Elect me, see what happens. I’m a present. Christmas morning is Election Day. Open me up. Maybe I’m full of toys. Maybe I’m full of turds.”
Anyone who has been paying attention already knows what’s in that package. And it isn’t a new X-Box. Colbert managed to illustrate the deceitfulness of Trump’s vacillating rhetoric in a short and humorous comment that says more than most news programs say in an hour. And Cooper was reduced to grinning timidly when faced with the truth about his network. It’s just sad that news organizations are so bad at this sort of reporting that we have to rely on comedy shows.
Self proclaimed “Culture Warrior” Bill O’Reilly is very concerned about the harm being done by the Internet. He devoted a segment of the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News to the question: Is the internet creating a culture of hate in the US? Well, as a veteran hate monger, he should know.
The segment began with O’Reilly complaining about what he called an “online addiction” suffered by eighty percent of Americans. Don’t bother looking for his support for that statistic because it apparently came from the same dark place as the rest of his dubious data. And you don’t want to go there, trust me. After setting up this premise, O’Reilly turned to his guest, “Dr.” Keith Ablow, and asked “Is hatred rising because of social media?” Ablow, a member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, responded:
“Absolutely. Bill … The Internet invites people into it anonymously. It does so via an anonymous technological filter, and therefore it short-circuits empathy. So it favors people who lack empathy, number one, and it threatens to turn just regular folks into less empathetic people as well. So it’s doing that in a two-fold way.”
Why just the other day I received an invitation from the Internet’s anonymous technological filter to short-circuit my empathy. I was too busy translating some pseudo-psychological drivel and had to decline. But no doubt some misanthropes accepted the invitation to relinquish what was left of their ability to care for others. Ablow continued:
“It’s not just through bullying. Because, after all, ISIS and the like use the Internet to recruit. Why? Why is it seemingly so easy? Because people are depersonalized and dehumanized by the Internet. “
Any opportunity to inject ISIS into a discussion on Fox News is mandatory according to the network’s employee contracts. Even if it has nothing to do with the subject at hand. What Ablow leaves out of his analysis is that terrorists are not the only ones using the Internet for recruiting. It is also being used McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Army. All good examples of organizations seeking fresh, dehumanized candidates to join their zombie operations.
Another guest on the program was Dr. Paul Booth of DePaul University. He made the rational observation that hatred has always existed in society and the Internet didn’t create it. But O’Reilly would have none of that common sense crap. He quickly deflected to whining that “vicious people” online were the problem because “there’s no regulation. They can’t stop it.” He didn’t reveal who should be responsible for stopping it or by what means. But Ablow heartily agreed:
“They can’t stop it. And respectfully, what Dr. Booth misses is that there’s plenty of data suggesting that people who use social media more suffer psychological problems more. And one of them is a decrease in empathy and a lack of connectedness. Remember, the Internet cut its teeth on adult entertainment. The lack of humanity has been built in from the beginning. This coaxes people to be less human.”
Ablow is getting awfully worked up about empathy for a guy who literally argued that “Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Exactly What America Needs.” A real doctor would know that among the symptoms of narcissism is a lack of empathy. Why he brings porn into the mix is another of his curious theories. Or, perhaps, obsessions?
More to the point, Ablow’s contention that a “lack of humanity” was built into the Internet from the beginning is just plain delusional. Its actual beginnings (i.e. teeth cutting) were with defense contractors and academics. It then expanded to communications, gaming, commerce, and, yes, porn. Coaxing people to be less human was never on the agenda. Then Ablow drops this psychobabble:
“There isn’t a person alive who’s more human because they used the Internet or social media more. It’s psychologically impossible for that to be the case.”
Huh? What makes a person more human? Is there a person alive who’s more human because they used television or chiropractors or Prozac? If you’re only 81 percent human now, what’s the other 19 percent? Yorkshire Terrier? Ablow is making no sense at all. He is literally blabbering gibberish. Which was the perfect segue into O’Reilly’s summation:
“My main point is this. That there’s so much garbage on it. And that garbage finds its way out into the legitimate media. […] And now we’re having mainstream media quote this stuff. It’s all “Don’t blame me. I saw it on social media.” I mean it’s like nobody’s safe. Who’s safe?”
Bill O’Reilly is condemning the whole reason for Fox News’ existence: Putting out garbage that finds its way out into the legitimate media. What’s more, he just threw Donald Trump under the bus for using the “Don’t blame me. I saw it on social media” defense. After being called out on Meet the Press for posting a hoax video on twitter, Trump admitted that “All I know is what’s on the Internet.” And taking it to the next level is Trump fluffer Rudy Giuliani, who advised Fox News viewers to use the Internet to look up videos about Hillary Clinton’s precarious health. Because that’s where all the best medical diagnoses by whackoids like Alex Jones and Drudge are published.
Since you’re probably reading this on the Internet, be careful to shield yourself from the empathy-draining rays emanating from the screen. You are likely becoming less human even as you read this sentence. That’s if you haven’t already soured on humanity after listening to O’Reilly and Ablow. But if you hope to survive, the only known protection from the Internet’s evil influence is heavy duty tin foil and, yes, porn. Good luck.
After years of pretending to be fair and balanced while shilling for Republicans, Fox News has completed a frightening metamorphosis. This morning they took a giant leap into the black hole of crackpot conspiracy theory. It’s a development that illustrates the lengths they will go to promote their home-brewed presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
On Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Childers introduced a segment alleging that Google is “trying to sway the presidential election.” Their evil plot consists of manipulating search results to suppress evidence of the trail of dead bodies left by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Cheryl Casone of Fox Business Network took the handoff to report that:
“Google is being accused of hiding negative stories about Hillary and her campaign by changing its algorithm to bury stories like the ‘Clinton body count’ story. That’s according to website InfoWars.”
Seriously? So Fox News is now associating itself with the utterly delusional ravings of Alex Jones and his InfoWars conspiracy site? This is the same InfoWars that claimed that the massacre of twenty children in Newtown, CT, was a government plot to confiscate the guns of American citizens. It’s the same InfoWars that has been the leading light of the 9/11 Truther movement. Not to mention the wingnut’s goto source for Birther BS. And, by the way, it’s also the same InfoWars that has endorsed Donald Trump for president and given him a platform on their webcast.
It is also interesting to note that Fox believes there is a “Clinton body count” story to be buried. And why not? They have been reporting that Obama is a secret gay Muslim from Kenya who founded ISIS for years. So what is Fox News and InfoWars so worked up about today?
“If a Google user types in ‘Clinton body,’ they get car repair shop results instead of a story that talks about a list of people tied to the Clintons who have died under mysterious circumstances over the last three decades.”
Oh my heavens. Bring me the smellin’ salts, Margaret. Apparently Google is participating in the cabal to suppress the Clintons’ thirty year murder spree. Fox and InfoWars believe that Google’s biased search results need to be corrected. Instead of intelligently curated data, they should highlight slanderous fables from the diseased minds of right-wing hate mongers.
It’s impossible to ignore the connection to Donald Trump’s campaign. He has been a frequent guest on InfoWars. Plus, his new campaign chair (Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News) is cut from the same soiled cloth as Alex Jones. There is an unmistakable trend toward the bonehead breed of pseudo-journalism that is sprouting up around Trump and his media advocates. His stump speeches are now almost entirely read from TelePrompters pre-loaded with talk radio style bombast. These include charges that Clinton is a felon, a traitor, and is about to drop dead.
These sort of screwball ideas are not surprising from InfoWars. They are, in fact, their reason for being. But for Fox News to reach down into that cesspool of idiocy is a new low, even for Fox. What is the limit of their debasement of journalism if it isn’t aligning with InfoWars? Fox has allowed such nonsense to bubble up into their reporting in the past. But this may be the first time they have explicitly attributed their story to InfoWars. That might be more honest, but it is a bad sign nonetheless. It means they are comfortable mainstreaming the likes of Alex Jones.
The wires are burning up this morning as another lawsuit is filed against serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes. You recall that Ailes was ousted as Fox News CEO after Gretchen Carlson, and a couple dozen other women, leveled charges against him.
The new suit was filed by Andrea Tantaros, the absent co-host of Fox’s Outnumbered. She alleges that Ailes engaged in repeated instances of sexual harassment, and that her complaints were ignored or belittled. Buzzfeed’s report on this contained a colorfully worded statement from Tantaros’ attorney:
“In the lawsuit, Tantaros’s attorney Judd Burstein describes Fox News as a ‘a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny’ and describes Ailes as a ‘sexual predator’ who ‘did not act alone.’ Tantaros alleges Ailes retaliated against her for rebuffing his advances by removing her from The Five and ordering the Fox News media relations department to turn against her.”
There have been many observations that Fox News has all the markings of a cult, including one by this author ( see: Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance). But a “sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult” is even more troubling than your standard, garden variety cult.
In addition to Ailes, Tantaros identified several other Fox big wigs who “made unwanted sexual comments or advances” toward her. They include Fox’s biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, as well as senior national correspondent John Roberts. Former Sen. Scott Brown and former Superman Dean Cain, both Fox contributors, were also named, but not cited as defendants.
Efforts to stop the inappropriate behavior were met with indifference by Fox News management. Particularly executive VP Bill Shine. According to the lawsuit Shine dismissed Tantaros, warning that Ailes was a powerful man and that she needed to “let this one go.” Shine was later promoted to co-president of Fox News after Ailes was terminated.
The blatant discrimination against women by Fox in their workplace is reflected in their election coverage. Even Megyn Kelly has had to admonish her colleagues on the air when they demonstrated insensitivity to women’s issues. That sort of prejudice taints the network in a year when the leading candidate for president happens to be a woman.
Already there have been distinctly misogynistic reports from Fox during the campaign. No candidate other than Clinton has been chastised for fashion faux pas, tone of voice, or physical stamina. And her critics on Fox have also railed against the alleged use of the fabled “Woman’s Card” in her policy positions. A male candidate would not have been similarly attacked for supporting Planned Parenthood or child care.
Descriptions of Fox News as “a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult” make it difficult not to notice how it impacts coverage of Hillary Clinton. After all, she is the first female nominee of a major party to be president of the United States. There is no question that any Democratic candidate would be on the receiving end of Fox’s vitriolic political biases. However, Clinton’s gender is not an insignificant factor and is clearly playing a role in Fox’s coverage. Every viewer needs to keep in mind the heinous activities that go on behind the scenes at Fox News. Because it cannot be separated from the insulting remarks and story angles that actually make it to the air.
The Republican shills at Fox News are becoming increasingly unhinged as their anointed candidate falls farther behind in the polls. Donald Trump’s new “presidential” persona isn’t helping him attract voters. In fact, his appeal to African-Americans actually offended many with his stereotyping of them as poor, unemployed, and uneducated. Not to mention his backhanded slam that they are gullible waifs being duped by the evil Democrats.
So what is a blatantly biased GOP PR machine to do when their electoral messiah falls off the cross? Nail him back up, of course. And that’s what Fox is doing with yet another primetime special produced and hosted by their Senior Trump Fluffer, Sean Hannity. Last week Hannity held a Trump infomercial in Milwaukee that was billed as a town hall. Following that The Donald’s ship hit another iceberg as his campaign staff fell apart. The leadership void was filled by the chairman of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon, a favorite of the American white nationalist movement.
All of that bad news took some of the punch out Hannity’s promo. Consequently, he’s scheduled another town hall for tomorrow night in Austin, TX, to make up for it. Apparently this is a new weekly series offered by Fox News featuring the wingnut duo “Donny and Seany” (Marie is busy selling diet shakes). On the nights when Trump is not a guest, he will still be the main attraction. Hannity already spends every episode reciting love poems to Donny and attacking his nemesis, Hillary Clinton. And he’s getting lots of help from Fox News on that score.
UPDATE: This is even worse than I thought. The town hall in Austin will a two night affair (Tuesday and Wednesday).
Hannity’s involvement with Trump’s campaign is growing more complex. He’s always been the top provider of airtime to Trump, and now reports say he is also serving as an adviser. Media analyst Jim Rutenberg writes in the New York Times that:
“Mr. Hannity uses his show on the nation’s most-watched cable news network to blare Mr. Trump’s message relentlessly — giving Mr. Trump the kind of promotional television exposure even a billionaire can’t afford for long.
“But Mr. Hannity is not only Mr. Trump’s biggest media booster; he also veers into the role of adviser. Several people I’ve spoken with over the last couple of weeks said Mr. Hannity had for months peppered Mr. Trump, his family members and advisers with suggestions on strategy and messaging.”
Sean Hannity has already announced on the air his endorsement for Trump and intention to vote for him. Now it appears that he is also working for the campaign as a political operative (along with his ex-boss Roger Ailes). And Fox News permits this flagrantly biased behavior. There is no precedent for a news network turning over so much of its schedule to one candidate. It is wholly inappropriate and a breach of journalistic ethics. As noted previously, if the Federal Elections Committee had any integrity they would cite Fox for violating campaign finance laws. They should be forced to declare this an in-kind contribution to Trump’s campaign.
Many people are speculating that Trump’s presidential ambitions have been a scam from the start. Media watchers from Vanity Fair to the New Yorker say that his real goal is to launch his own cable network. That may be true, and he has been assembling a team (Ailes, Bannon, Hannity) that could serve as a starting roster. However, there is a far greater likelihood of failure than success for such a venture, as I detailed here two months ago. Trump would just be adding to the list of his business debacles should he attempt this. Therefore, he has my blessing.