Donald Rumsfeld Resurfaces On Fox News To Remind Everyone Why We Stopped Listening To Him

The cable “news” network best known for serving up obvious lies; for its open hostility toward President Obama and other Democrats; and for its flagrant dumbing down of every issue, has reached out to the architect of the Iraq debacle for analysis and advice on how to move forward in the horrific environment that he was so instrumental in creating.

Fox News Donald Rumsfeld

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Donald Rumsfeld was the Secretary of Defense during the Bush years who gave us “shock and awe,” and “long, hard slogs,” and “known unknowns.” His prosecution of the war on terror left the Middle East a broken region ripe for exploitation by militarized radicals. So obviously his opinion of where we go from here would be highly valued by the propagandists at Fox News who believe that if we call the terrorists “Islamic” they will fall apart (Even though that is exactly what they want us to call them).

Rumsfeld was invited to appear on Neil Cavuto’s program to discuss some of the recent developments in the war on terror, including reports of threats against domestic shopping malls. Cavuto characteristically treated Rumsfeld gently, providing opportunities for him to ramble on in his trademark fashion. Early in the interview Cavuto birthed this freakish inquiry:

“What do you think of that, that we’re making too big a deal out of ISIS, that they’re thugs, that they’re murderers, that they’re butchers, that they burn people alive, that they take their heads off, they kill Christians, but we’re assigning far greater importance to them than is warranted and responding far more differently than we should.”

Wow. That was some loaded question. Did Cavuto leave anything out? The terrorists also rape and pillage, and I’m pretty sure they don’t floss. Despite the massive girth of the question, Rumsfeld bit into it hungrily saying…

“Well, I was gonna start to say it’s nonsense but I would rephrase it to say it’s not credible. I mean the fact of the matter is, cutting off the heads of people is something that needs to be reported. And I would have to add that I think the United States government, over a period of a good number of years now, has been rather inept in dealing with this problem from an ideological sense.”

Setting aside the fact that nobody has suggested banning all reporting of terrorist activities, Rumsfeld’s response latched onto that straw-man argument just long enough to disparage the United States government during the “good number of years” that he hasn’t been screwing it up. He continued saying that…

“What we do is we don’t recognize that the terrorists have media committees. They sit down and figure what they can do that will call attention to them. And they are right. It does call attention to the ISIS and the Al Qaeda, and the terrorist activities. The fact that somebody goes in and blows up a shopping center or shopping mall is newsworthy, and blaming it on the fact that it’s reported is utter nonsense.”

Wait a minute. I thought he wasn’t going to call it nonsense. Maybe it’s just a known non unknown sense. But more to the point, Rumsfeld is arguing that the terrorists are adept at manipulating the media to achieve their goals. Whether it be recruiting, or intimidating their foes, or promoting their alleged successes, Rumsfeld is keenly aware that the media is being used as tool by savvy propagandists. Nevertheless, he immediately reverses his point by concluding that the media is in no way to blame for doing precisely what he just blamed the media for doing.

He was right the first time. The media does play right into the hands of the terrorists with relentless repetition of their PR. While responsible coverage of significant events is the duty of the press, endless redundancy only helps the bad guys to get their message out. It’s free advertising in the biggest and most valuable media market in the world. And Rumsfeld made those remarks on the only major television network to post the full propaganda video of the Jordanian pilot that ISIL burned alive.

After mangling his answer to the previous question, Rumsfeld was asked by Cavuto “What would you do differently that we’re not seeing now?” His response was no more coherent than the one he just concluded.

“I think we have to decide what we can do effectively and what we can’t do effectively. And we can’t nation-build. We haven’t solved the problem of the poverty in our own country. The idea that we can solve the poverty around the world, and until such time as we do, that we have to sit back and take terrorist attacks is silly. That’s just not the case.

“It seems to me you do what you do well, and what we do well is – obviously no one’s going to compete with us during this period with our Army, Navy, or Air Forces. They look for weaknesses, and the weakness that exists is real. We are vulnerable. As a modern country, as an open country, as a free people, we are vulnerable.”

And there you have it. The only thing that we do well is wage war. Consequently, Rumsfeld’s advice is to continue in an endless military campaign against stateless terrorists who are perfectly satisfied to martyr themselves in suicide missions. That’s what he says needs to be done that is different than we’re not seeing now. How it’s different he doesn’t bother to say. And since the U.S. has led a coalition for the past six months that has conducted thousands of airstrikes, killing more than 6,000 terrorist fighters, the difference is hard to detect.

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This interview with Rumsfeld is just another brick in the wall of stupid that Fox News is building. It doesn’t contribute to any realistic solution. It doesn’t even make sense from one sentence to the next. And contrary to their BS sloganeering about fairness and balance, there will be no rebuttal to Rumsfeld’s foolishness. But you can rely on Fox to continue promoting the ends of the terrorists with every new atrocity that they commit. Unfortunately, there will be new atrocities, and when there are, Fox News will edit them into a loop and run them for days on end. And the terrorists will send them thank you cards.

Who Hates America? Here Are Three Haters Who Happily Admit It

Rudy Giuliani’s recent comment that he doesn’t believe that President Obama loves America is just another example of the “othering” of the nation’s first African-American president by the pseudo-patriots of the right. As previously noted here on News Corpse, Giuliani has begun channeling Glenn Beck with increasingly ludicrous right-wing blathering.

However, if you really want to know who hates America, just look to conservative politicians and pundits who actually come right out and admit to it. In fact, it’s getting to be a regular thing with them.

Beginning with the latest diss on America by the noted war-mongering senator, John McCain, who said that he is “Ashamed of my country.”

John McCain Ashamed

But before that there was Sean Hannity, the Fox News patriopath, who wanted us to know that he is “Humiliated for my country.”

Sean Hannity Dumbass

And who can forget Rush Limbaugh informing us all that he too is “Ashamed of my country.”

Rush Limbaugh

Do you notice a pattern? And all of this explicitly articulated despising of America is coming from the same people who constantly complain that liberals and Democrats are insufficiently worshipful of this nation’s alleged exceptionalism (which is just a made up word for supremacy). This language would be regarded as treasonous were it to come from anyone on the left. First Lady Michelle Obama was virtually tarred and feathered for merely expressing her pride in how far America had come after the election of her husband.

So now it’s open season on America for conservatives. And they aren’t going to let any opportunity to disparage the country get by. But just let a liberal try to offer even mild criticism and all hell will break loose. We are definitely living in Bizarro World.

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Rudy Giuliani Channels Glenn Beck: Obama Is A Communist Alinsky-ite Who Hates America

The controversy over remarks by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani have taken a turn for the absurd. Last week Giuliani spoke at an event for Wisconsin Governor and prospective Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker. During the affair he charged into a rhetorical minefield by questioning the patriotism of President Obama saying…

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you, and he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

So he doesn’t love you, and he doesn’t love me, and he doesn’t love his green eggs or ham or country. As for whether Obama was brought up like Giuliani, it’s clear that he was not. After all, Obama’s father was not a felon and mob loanshark like Giuliani’s. And his family values resulted in him staying married to the same woman, rather than, like Giuliani, cheating on his wives of which he’s had three so far.

You have to wonder why Giuliani would continue talking after admitting that he was about to say something horrible. But he, like many of his pals on the far-right, has adopted the tactic of “othering” the President – the practice of portraying Obama as different, foreign, even treasonous, but always as something removed from the American experience and people, and viscerally opposed to American values. Never mind that a majority of the American people voted for him twice.

Giuliani’s subsequent remarks defending himself went even further. He is now mimicking the fringy slander of everyone’s favorite delusional conspiracy theorist, Glenn Beck. You may recall Beck’s attempt to brand the President as not particularly fond of America when he told Fox News that…

“This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

Rudy Giuliani - Glenn Beck

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Beck went on to spin paranoid fantasies about Obama’s past that painted him as a child of a communist sleeper cell with subversives as nannies and revolutionaries as tutors. Now Giuliani is weaving the same tales. He told Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post that the nine year old Obama “was influenced by Frank Marshall Davis, who was a communist.” He raised the specter of Saul Alinsky, a favorite bogeyman of Beck’s, saying that he too was “another bad influence” on the future president. He resurrected the Rev. Jeremiah Wright from the wingnut graveyard of yesterday’s smears and said that “Obama never left that church,” which might be an interesting point except for the fact that he very publicly left way back in June of 2008, before he was president.

Giuliani is reading straight out of Becks hymnal. Whatever anyone thought of Giuliani before, there is no escaping the fact that he is now no more credible than the fruitcake that was even too nutty for Fox News. But Giuliani has his own trail to blaze. He’s convinced that his comments cannot be racist because Obama’s mother was white. That, of course, counteracts any racial effect arising from the color of his skin. Giuliani even has his own death threats to brag about, stealing Beck’s Messiah complex and making himself the victim in all of this. Nevertheless, he heralds his own heroism as he congratulates himself because…

“Somebody has to raise these issues with the president. Somebody has to have the courage to stand up.”

Exactly. And it was Glenn Beck who stood up six years ago to trumpet this nonsense. He was joined by Alex Jones, Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and more conservative crackpots than you can count. But Giuliani apparently thinks there’s still time to join the parade and he’s determined to worm his way to the front of it. Well, he’s making a good start.

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Killing Bill O’Reilly: The Fox News Bloviator Calls Everyone Who Is Against Him Poopyheads

The case of the Bill O’Reilly war mythology is continuing, and even heating up, as O’Reilly embarks on a take-no-prisoners mission to exonerate himself and crush his enemies. [Read this if you need to catch up] Unfortunately for him, he is shooting blanks that make a loud noise but fail to inflict any injury on those he is targeting.

Fox News Bill O'Reilly

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On CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday morning, host Brian Stelter reported that he has statements from six other reporters who covered the Falklands war for CBS and not a single one corroborated O’Reilly’s self-aggrandizing accounts. To the contrary, they repudiated O’Reilly’s ludicrous embellishments entirely.

Stelter interviewed Eric Engberg who was a CBS News correspondent stationed in Argentina at the same time as O’Reilly. Engberg flatly denied O’Reilly’s claims that there was gunfire and people dying all around him in Buenos Aires, which is 1,200 miles from the actual war zone in the Falklands. Engberg also said that O’Reilly lied when he claimed that he was the only CBS correspondent courageous enough to leave the hotel during the demonstrations that followed the Argentine surrender to the UK. According to Engberg and others, there were as many as five reporters with camera crews in the field.

So O’Reilly phoned home (aka Fox News) to defend himself on Howard Kurtz’s MediaBuzz. He immediately set off on a mouth-foaming rant castigating his critics with childish insults and accusations of political and personal motives to destroy him. In his tantrum he called Engberg a coward and even browbeat his colleagues (Kurtz and media critic David Zurawik) interrupting them frequently to belligerently press his case, for which he provided no factual basis other than that his critics were left-wing meanies and thumbsuckers who just don’t like him. This exchange is typical of the tone O’Reilly set during the interview with his Fox associate and defender as represented in this exchange:

Kurtz: [David] Corn has been a Washington reporter for a long time and some people respect his work.
O’Reilly: Who? Name one. [Kurtz giggles] You can’t. He is a hatchet man. You know he is. He’s an aparatchnik (sic) from the far left and all of this is driven … Stelter from CNN … you don’t get more far left than this guy.

No one will be surprised that O’Reilly resorted to name-calling and politically inspired McCarthyism to attempt to demean and dismiss anyone who says something about him that is less than worshipful. But his allegations about Engberg and Stelter are outright delusional and blatantly self-serving. What’s more, his hostility toward Kurtz, who has taken his side during this sordid affair, shows just how desperate he is. For his part, Kurtz was obviously cowed by O’Reilly’s assault. His furtive giggling and acquiescence to O’Reilly’s assertion that, because he wasn’t prepared with a list of Corn’s admirers there must not be any, was almost painful to watch. As was O’Reilly’s blustery defense of himself and conviction that he would do everything the same if he had it to do over:

Kurtz: Seems to me, in my analysis of this, that the Mother Jones piece ultimately, if you boil it down, comes down to this semantic question. You have said you covered a “combat situation” in Argentina during the Falklands war. You’ve said “war zones of Falkland conflict” in Argentina. Looking back do you wish you had worded it differently?
O’Reilly: No! When you have soldiers, military police, firing into the crowd as the New York Times reported, and you have people injured and hurt and you’re in the middle of that, that’s a definition, alright? This is splitting hairs, trying anything they can to bring down me because of the Brian Williams situation.

Yep, as always, it’s all about him. Never mind the facts. And his “definition” of a war zone makes no sense. Policing a demonstration is completely different from combat, even if the demonstration turns deadly. And there is no corroboration of that from his CBS colleagues. O’Reilly cannot produce a single person to validate his story. He is utterly alone in his pompously boastful memories. That makes judging his veracity pretty easy. The one piece of written evidence he cited was a story in the New York Times that described the protests in Buenos Aires. However, the author of that article points out that O’Reilly deceptively edited the portion of his story that he read on the air.

As an example of O’Reilly’s hilariously twisted recollection, he told Kurtz that Engberg’s dispute was due to the fact that “he wasn’t there.” And O’Reilly knows this because when he left the hotel Engberg was still there. And when he returned in the evening Engberg was also there. Obviously, therefore, Engberg never left the hotel. In O’Reilly’s shrunken brain Engberg could not possibly have left after O’Reilly, spent the day reporting in the field, and returned before him.

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In the end, this latest episode in O’Reilly’s media campaign to exonerate himself fell flat. He offered no proof of any of the controversial remarks he has made and they have all been refuted by others on the scene. He launched a shock and awe attack on his critics who have no ax to grind. All he did was cement the impression of him as a bully and a blowhard who demands that the world love him as much as he does. This isn’t going to go away any time soon, and O’Reilly can’t pay off his accusers as he did with Andrea Mackris, the O’Reilly Factor producer he sexually harassed. You can read more about that in this 2004 Washington Post article written by – – Howard Kurtz.

UPDATE (2/24/2015): Obviously O’Reilly thinks this a potentially damaging issue. For the second consecutive day O’Reilly spent much of his program defending himself. He played segments of the original video provided by CBS from Buenos Aires in 1982. Nothing he aired corroborated his account of people dying or his reputed acts of heroism. And his latest defense never addressed his false claims to have been in an “active war zone.” But one thing the video did do is prove that O’Reilly lied when he said that he was the only CBS correspondent courageous enough to leave the hotel to report the demonstrations. The video shows three other reporters doing remotes: Eric Engberg, Charles Gomez, and Bob Schieffer.

In other news, O’Reilly had an exchange with a reporter from the New York Times that ended with him threatening her saying that if he was unhappy with the story “I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.” And that’s a perfect illustration of how O’Reilly, and Fox News generally, deal with criticism.

Freakout At Fox News: DHS Report Cites Threat Of Right-Wing Extremists

There is nothing that stirs up the rancid juices of a conservative sociopath like being fingered as a conservative sociopath. It’s very much the same furious reaction that racists have when you point out that they’re being racist. And this week the American Taliban got their feathers ruffled again by the Department of Homeland Security’s “intelligence assessment” that reportedly “focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists.”

Fox News

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The release of this report predictably ignited a temper tantrum by the hypersensitive rage-meisters at Fox News. They immediately slammed the report as being offensive to the totally rational, peace-loving, icons of harmony that populate the Tea Party and other rightist models of national unity. Why ever would they be regarded as potentially dangerous just because they brag about their arsenals while holding signs that say “We came unarmed – this time.”

Never mind that the report documents a couple of dozen instances of criminal violence by wingnuts in the mold of Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. And set aside the fact that state and local law enforcement officers, when surveyed last year, cited “sovereign citizen terrorists” as the top domestic terror threat ahead of foreign Islamic jihadis. That’s an understandable and thoroughly logical conclusion coming from the first responders who are often the targets of the anti-government right-wingers. Just ask the families of the two Las Vegas police officers who were murdered by followers of Cliven Bundy, the deadbeat rancher who assembled a brigade of armed protesters to do battle with agents from the Bureau of Land Management.

The zealousness with which Fox News defends violent American jihadis who hate the government (particularly since that black guy was elected) is evidence of their support for extremists, so long as they are extreme in the proper fashion. This response to a perfectly reasonable law enforcement analysis only validates the politicization of national security that Fox engages in. At Fox News they don’t care if a heavily armed NRA “patriot” is parading around the Wal-Mart with assault weapons. But if a black kid with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles is gunned down by a self-appointed vigilante while walking home, then Fox portrays him as a thug who must have been up to no good.

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What makes this outburst of outrage even more ludicrous is that the DHS is only doing its job of protecting the American people. They are not playing favorites by drawing attention to extremists on the right. The proof of that is that the feds previously published a report that warned of the potential dangers of left-wing extremists. News Corpse wrote about this six years ago, the last time that Fox News and other wingnut media mouthpieces went bonkers over a DHS report. That article contained a link to a security analysis that said…

“Left-wing extremism is ‘alive and well’ both in the US and internationally. … There are individuals and organizations within the U.S. who maintain the same ideology that resulted in the growth of left-wing terrorism in this country in the 1970s and 1980s … and new leaders and groups are emerging.”

Good luck trying to find any reporting on Fox News about that study. While there are a few mentions of left-wing extremism on Fox, they are conspicuously thin and refer primarily to animal rights activists and environmentalists – a scary bunch of bloodthirsty hooligans if there ever were any.

Fox News Helps Bill O’Reilly Defend His Combat Lies By Lying Even More

[Be sure to see this update (2/22/15) with O’Reilly’s interview on Fox’s MediaBuzz]

Two weeks ago News Corpse reported that Bill O’Reilly had committed substantially the same sins of historical “embellishment” that got NBC’s Brian Williams a six month suspension. He said on numerous occasions that he had been personally involved in combat situations where his life was at risk. None of it was true.

Fox News Bill O'Reilly

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This week David Corn of Mother Jones did a more in-depth article that documented additional instances of O’Reilly misrepresenting his war reporting. Corn’s piece was a fair investigation into O’Reilly’s own accounts of his past that significantly differ from reality. It’s a must read to understand the full measure of O’Reilly’s dishonesty.

Not surprisingly, Fox News and O’Reilly himself are hitting back hard to dispute Corn’s well researched article. O’Reilly has resorted to the most childish sort of response by calling Corn names such as “guttersnipe, irresponsible, liar,” and that old O’Reilly stand-by, “far left zealot.” What he never does is refute a single charge made in the article with any facts. The whole of O’Reilly’s defense is his insistence that “Everything I’ve reported about my journalistic career is true.” If that’s so, then why doesn’t he prove it?

The Fox Nation posted an advance transcript of O’Reilly’s Talking Points Memo that he delivers at the start of every broadcast. This is possibly the first time that has ever been done, which speaks to the gravity of this problem and how seriously O’Reilly considers the potential fallout. In the transcript O’Reilly repeats the insults aimed at Corn that he previously gave to reporters and adds more invective directed to his publisher, saying “Mother Jones … which has low circulation … considered by many the bottom rung of journalism in America.”

The “many” to which O’Reilly refers is likely his family and the dimwits who watch his program. In the real world Mother Jones is a respected publication that has distinguished itself by winning numerous journalism awards including honors from the National Press Club, The PEN American Center, American Society of Magazine Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, and a 2012 George Polk Award for Corn’s investigation of the now famous 47% speech by Mitt Romney. The Polk Award may have provided the harshest sting because it is one that O’Reilly was caught lying about having received himself. It was now-Sen. Al Franken who exposed that O’Reilly fib.

Rushing to O’Reilly’s aid is Fox’s media analyst and host of MediaBuzz, Howard Kurtz. In an article posted to the Fox News website, Kurtz whitewashes O’Reilly’s self-mythologizing by asserting that “the Mother Jones piece appears to turn on semantics.” Then Kurtz posts some of O’Reilly’s false statements that are not remotely semantic in nature. For instance:

–In a 2001 book, O’Reilly said: “I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.”

–In a Washington panel discussion, O’Reilly said: “I’ve covered wars, okay? I’ve been there. The Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East. I’ve almost been killed three times, okay.”

–In a 2004 column, O’Reilly wrote: “Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash.”

Kurtz writes that in these statements “the dispute comes down to O’Reilly’s shorthand use of the Falklands and the term “war zone.” Huh? What on Earth does that mean? Is Kurtz excusing outright lies with the explanation that O’Reilly was using the lies as shorthand for the truth, and therefore it’s OK?

It’s clear from the statements that Kurtz himself referenced that O’Reilly had put himself “on the ground in active war zones,” and said that he was “there…in the Falklands,” and that he “survived a combat situation in Argentina.” Since there was no combat anywhere in Argentina other than on the Falkland Islands, O’Reilly is implying that that’s where he was. Which he wasn’t. He also was not in Argentina “during the Falklands war,” but arrived after it was over.

Kurtz ignored all of these obviously mis-factual statements in order to absolve O’Reilly of any guilt. Later Kurtz writes that “Corn’s own piece largely backs up O’Reilly’s account of the dangerous situation.” No, actually, it does not. Corn did point out that some of the statements O’Reilly made were corroborated by other accounts, but he never came close to dismissing the multiple assertions by O’Reilly (like those above) that were blatantly false.

In the end Kurtz attempted an awkward exoneration of O’Reilly by claiming that Corn’s reporting was “a far cry from a bogus claim of having been shot down in a helicopter.” How so? By any fair standard O’Reilly’s remarks that placed him in harm’s way on a battlefield (“almost been killed three times”) are at least three times worse than Williams’ mis-remembering of a single event.

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O’Reilly’s lies are a repulsive attempt to exalt himself and his faux bravado. He has repeated these lies for decades in books, on television, and in personal appearances, and now, even after being caught, he refuses to apologize. If anyone deserves to be suspended for an extended period of time, it’s O’Reilly. But he has nothing to worry about on that score. Fox News has never acquitted itself in a respectable manner, particularly when it comes to journalistic integrity. They aren’t about to start now.

However, the stain O’Reilly leaves has now spread to Howard Kurtz, whose groveling and desperate defense is deceitful, unethical, and embarrassing. He should be suspended as well for aiding and abetting O’Reilly’s fraudulent fabrications. Of course, Kurtz will also escape accountability. It’s a perk that comes with working for Fox News. Unscrupulous dishonesty will never be a cause for punishment. At Fox News it is more likely to earn a promotion.

UPDATE: The festering ego we know as Bill O’Reilly came to his own rescue last night by devoting a chunk of his program to piling on more lies about his war reporting. He recruited his pals Bernie Goldberg and Geraldo Rivera as his character witnesses. Meanwhile, actual war correspondents are coming forward to criticize O’Reilly and veterans groups are calling for Fox News to take O’Reilly off the air:

VoteVets: “NBC acted completely appropriately in taking Brian Williams off the air and looking into claims he’s made over the years. Fox News has to do the same thing. […] Men and women have fought, died, been wounded, and scarred by war. There are many journalists who actually were in the crossfire, who died, trying to bring the story to the American people. What Bill O’Reilly has done is steal their valor, and it is wrong.”

Fox News Surrenders: Domestic Recovery Forces Narrative Shift To Foreign Policy For 2016 Election

The Republican News Network (aka Fox News) is taking a hard turn away from domestic issues in advance of the 2016 election cycle. For the past several years Fox and the rest of the Right-Wing Media Circus has focused heavily on matters that hit close to home like the economy, unemployment, immigration, marriage equality, education, and relentlessly, healthcare – or more accurately, opposition to it.

Unfortunately for the GOP, every one of those issues has been trending favorably for the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. The economy has grown by historic rates. The stock market has hit record highs. The deficit has declined by two-thirds. Unemployment dropped from 10.1 to 5.7 percent and wages are beginning to rise. The majority of the public support the President’s positions on immigration. Marriage equality is being affirmed by courts across the country. Both academic and financial education reforms proposed by Obama are hugely popular. And ObamaCare reached new plateaus of success signing up more than 11 million new people this year.

Fox News

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Also influencing the right is a Gallup poll released this week showing that terrorism has jumped in importance to the electorate. Fox News immediately began promoting this poll as evidence that Americans are convulsed with worry about being blown up in a cafe on Main Street. What they don’t mention is that terrorism in the poll shot up to a mere 8% and is still in fifth place behind four domestic issues. Also not mentioned is that another Gallup poll released the same day shows the President’s standing is on the rise. The poll shows him making significant gains with independents and even Republicans. And those gains are seen both personally and for his stance on issues.

So what is an obsessively hostile cable TV “news” network with a mission to promote conservative policies and Republican candidates to do? Of course, they have to pivot to foreign policy in a desperate bid to find a narrative that will advance their political goals. That is what’s happening now as this exchange from Fox News yesterday demonstrates:

Charles Krauthammer: This is going to be be one of those rare presidential runs in which foreign affairs is one of the dominant issues […] That is a very ripe field for the Republicans.
Ron Fournier: Charles is right. This is going to be a foreign policy election. I think that’s going to be really tough for Hillary given her last job.

Huh? Fournier didn’t elaborate on why Hillary Clinton’s last job as Secretary of State would make things harder for her if foreign policy were to take precedence. Running the State Department for four years would ordinarily be seen as a prime resume enhancement in an environment that prized international experience. Presumably the right is hankering for an opportunity to beat the Benghazi drum some more, but since they have failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing after three years and dozens of investigations (including findings that exonerate Clinton and Obama by the GOP led House Intelligence Committee), it seems rather far-fetched that they can make an issue of it now. And when the election heats up Clinton will have a strong record of achievement about which to brag.

More to the point, the effort by Fox to divert attention away from the positive domestic news is bound to fail for three reasons. First, whatever plausible case they have to make against Obama and/or Clinton on foreign policy, they aren’t making it. Instead, they are wasting breath on such ludicrous trivialities as whether or not the word “Islamic” is appended to every mention of terrorism. Their mantra on this is that you have to “call it what it is” in order to win. They seem to believe that just changing the rhetoric all by itself would cause the bad guys to throw in the towel. That, of course, is absurd. The truth is that tarring all Muslims with an association to terrorism would only alienate the Islamic allies we need to prevail. The only parties who insist on this language are GOP/Fox News conservatives and the terrorists themselves. So why is Fox taking their side? That’s a question that Fox News will answer by shouting as loudly as possible, “Benghazi!”

The second reason that latching unto a foreign affairs campaign theme would fail is that, in addition to not making a negative case against Clinton, Republicans are also not making an affirmative case for themselves. Their fierce condemnations of Obama as being weak and incompetent (besides being somewhat unpatriotic by their own definition) imply that their alternative would be to recklessly leap back into a war footing around the world with fronts ranging from Iraq to Iran to Syria to Afghanistan to Ukraine, and even to Russia and North Korea. That would be a hard sell to the American people. What’s more, Republicans are already leaning on the same people that so profoundly wrecked the nation’s international relations as the would-be architects of the next GOP administration’s foreign policy.

Finally, after failing to make a foreign policy case against Clinton or for themselves, Fox and the GOP are forgetting the universal truth about presidential campaigns. As immortalized by James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid.” No matter how much the right wants to avoid the domestic progress the nation has made in the years since George W. Bush and his cronies cratered the economy, that will always be the primary driver in voting for a national leader. And on that subject Republicans have nothing but failure to point to, while Democrats under Obama have an increasingly prosperous country and an agenda advocating on behalf of the middle-class. In addition, Clinton happens to be married to the last president to balance the budget while producing strong economic growth and job creation.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It’s no wonder that Republicans don’t want to run on domestic issues. And as their PR division, Fox News is valiantly striving to help them to change the subject. But no matter how hard they pray their wishes will not be realized. 2016 will be decided by an economic debate, just like every other presidential election. That fact, however, won’t deter the right from trying to elevate foreign policy because it’s all they have. And in a presidential election year, when turnout is higher, demographics favor Democrats, and the GOP has more at-risk seats than their foes, the outlook for Republicans is filled with the gloom that they have been trying to project on Democrats ever since the black guy moved into the White House.

The Queen Of Astroturf Doesn’t Know The Meaning Of Astroturf

When Sharyl Attkisson left CBS over her flagrant insertion of conservative political bias into the stories she covered, she might have tried to rehabilitate her decaying reputation by affiliating herself with a credible news organization. Instead, she immediately signed up with Fox News (not exactly the place to prove your aren’t shilling for the right) and took a position with the The Daily Signal, the pseudo-news Internet outlet run by the ultra-rightist Heritage Foundation.

Media Circus

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Her post-CBS work has mainly been limited to three areas of shameless whining: 1) Bashing those in her past that she felt had discriminated against her freedom to propagandize; 2) Promoting her anti-Obama diatribe “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington;” and 3) Telling paranoid (and ultimately debunked) tales of being spied on by shadowy, unnamed enemies in the government determined to destroy her professionally and personally.

Continuing her transparently prejudiced crusade against a select group of imagined adversaries, Attkisson has published her list of “The Top 10 Astroturfers.” In the process she has demonstrated that she is viscerally determined to persist in slandering her perceived foes. What’s more, she is proving that she doesn’t have any idea what Astroturfing is. For the record, here is the generally recognized definition of this neologism:

Astroturf: An apparently grassroots-based citizen group or coalition that is primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms. It seeks to disguise a powerful special interest as a popular movement.

On that basis, here is Attkisson’s list:

  1. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown
  2. Media Matters for America
  3. University of California Hastings Professor Dorit Rubenstein Reiss and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Dr. Paul Offit
  4. “Science” Blogs such as: Skeptic.com, Skepchick.org, Scienceblogs.com (Respectful Insolence), Popsci.com and SkepticalRaptors.com
  5. Mother Jones
  6. Salon.com and Vox.com
  7. White House press briefings and press secretary Josh Earnest
  8. Daily Kos and The Huffington Post
  9. CNN, NBC, New York Times, Politico and Talking Points Memo (TPM)
  10. MSNBC, Slate.com, Los Angeles Times and Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC and Jon Stewart.

There is not a single group on the list that meets the definition of an Astroturf enterprise. The one that comes closest is Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense due to its relationship with another group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, MDA was started by an actual mom in Indiana and has a membership of more than 150,000. The rest of the list is patently absurd.

Media Matters is a watchdog group that documents conservative bias in the media. It does not lobby any government entity, organize citizens to demonstrate, or otherwise engage in social activism. However, it is one of Attkisson’s most effective critics and thus won the number two slot on the list.

The U.C. professor and Children’s Hospital have worked on educating the public about the importance of vaccinations. Apparently that has stirred Attkisson’s ire. Also in this category are a few science-related blogs. However, Attkisson doesn’t explain why they should be on the list other than because they have a point of view. She never even bothers to try to connect them to some well-heeled benefactor. In any case, universities, hospitals, and independent blogs are not Astroturfers by any stretch of the imagination.

The most well-represented group on the list are media enterprises. They range from mainstream outlets like CNN, NBC, and the New York Times, to established magazines and Internet sites like Mother Jones, Salon, and Politico, to more alternative sources like Daily Kos, and the Huffington Post. The only conceivable reason for Attkisson citing these media players on her list is that they are all regarded by conservatives like herself as left-leaning, and therefore deserving of her wrath. But they are certainly not Astroturf.

Attkisson really goes off the rails by including the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart on the list. How can anyone define either of them as faux grassroots-based citizen groups backed by wealthy special interests? More than any other people or groups on the list, these two show that Attkisson cannot be taken seriously.

Attkisson describes her list as “an informal, non-scientific survey.” Her footnote reveals that “the results represent 169 Twitter respondents who answered a public query either directly or through direct message.” What could possibly be more ludicrous as a sampling of opinion than a tiny group of respondents to her own Tweet? Is Atkisson purposely sabotaging her reputation in a public spectacle of professional suicide? The remainder of her commentary accompanying the list essentially redefines Astroturfing to fit her personal enemies list. It’s like dieters defining cupcakes as vegetables so they can eat more of them.

If she wants some examples of bona fide Astroturfers, she need look no further than her employer the Heritage Foundation, which began as a right-wing think tank, but with new leadership provided by former Republican senator Jim DeMint, it has become a full-fledged factory for fake activism. Under DeMint’s tenure it launched the Daily Signal which publishes highly biased articles including those by its new correspondent, Sharyl Attkisson.

Other Astroturfers include the Tea Party Express, which was founded by a Republican public relations firm and is notorious for funneling nearly all of the donations it receives back into its own pockets. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Numerous Koch brothers funded entities like Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Generation Opportunity, The LIBRE Initiative, Concerned Veterans for America, and many more. Even Sarah Palin has joined the con game with her Super PAC and the subscription Internet site she launched that often has no content for days on end. In all of these cases there is little evidence of public support, but massive bankrolling by wealthy conservative rainmakers.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
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Available now at Amazon.

A recent study by a conservative news organization highlighted the rampant corruption in many of the right-wing Astroturf enterprises and political action committees. The Washington Post reported that…

“Right Wing News released a report on a group of conservative PACs that took in millions of dollars in contributions in 2014, ostensibly for the purpose of electing Republicans, but spent almost none of it on actual political activity. Instead, the money went into the pockets of the people who run the PACs and their associates.”

This appears to be the rule, and not the exception. And part of why it becomes so easy to rip-off the ignorant wingnut community is that fakers like Attkisson permit the scams to proceed without consequence. By shining her spotlight on an array of organizations that in no way qualify as Astroturf, Attkisson allows the grifters to operate freely while their victims are lost in a maze of false accusations.

An Open Letter To Rush Limbaugh From The Deranged, Literally Insane, Filled With Hatred, Democrat Party Base

Dear Rush,

Have you finally gone completely off your titanium-reinforced, bubble-enclosed, Viagra IV-fitted, rocker? Not that anyone could tell the difference from what you have been spewing for the last quarter century, but your latest tirade is either evidence of a severe thrombotic stroke, or you are deliberately providing late night comedians with new material.

Rush Limbaugh

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Your re-imagining of recent history with regard to the catastrophic falsehoods that were dispensed by the Bush administration in order to justify the invasion of Iraq is simply preposterous. Rather than recognizing the reams of documentation that the Bush administration mislead the nation and the world about “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” you attempt to turn that fact into a lie saying that…

“One of the biggest lies told during the Iraq war was that Bush lied us into war. That lie, that propaganda has done more damage to this nation’s ability to take on legitimate terrorism with confidence and assurity (sic) and defeat it. For however many years the Iraq war went on, every night on Comedy Central, practically every night, the audience there heard about it was all a lie. That Bush lied, people died, Bush Hitler.”

So it’s Comedy Central’s fault that America has failed to eradicate terrorism from the planet? [Damn you Jon Stewart!] And because of them the U.S. military has been drained of its legitimacy and confidence? That’s a pretty nasty remark to make about the heroes who are defending your freedom. Setting aside your contention that “practically every night” they were associating Bush with Hitler (which is more like never on any night), the assignment of responsibility to a cable comedy network for what you believe to be damaging to military readiness should be cause for concern by those who care for you. But you didn’t stop there:

“Every night for whatever number of years, seven years, six years, Comedy Central, Stewart, Colbert, you name it, Bush lied. The mainstream media, every day, every week, Bush lied. What did that do? In the minds of young skulls full of mush, it turned around the Iraq war into a joke, number one. It turned Bush into a joke. It turned the country into a joke, and it told everybody that everything we were doing over there was illegitimate because we had no business being there, that there was no terrorism.”

For your information, Bush didn’t need any help to be turned into a joke. And America’s “Young Skulls Full Of Mush” [YSFOM: The name of my next punk rock band] had the same opinion as most of the rest of the nation about his criminal adventures in the Middle East. We didn’t have any business being there since it had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11, and all of the evidence presented as validation was fabricated.

For much of your rant you diverted to subjects that had no bearing on your topic. For instance, you found some excuse to complain bitterly that feminist extremists were pushing an agenda that defined all sex in college as rape. I have a disturbing notion that you are subconsciously projecting your own experiences during your truncated college years which, by all indications, were unsuccessful both academically and socially. And when you returned to the harangue of the day, your hostility could no longer be restrained and was loosed with a fury at the innocent and unsuspecting fans of a television comedy channel:

“Many of these people make up the deranged, literally insane, filled with hatred, Democrat Party base. And Obama can’t call it terrorism because his comedian buddies have spent seven years saying it didn’t exist.”

Well that settles it. Now that you have established that the millions of “literally insane” hate-mongering viewers of political satire are the core of the Democratic Party it will be much easier to dismiss them when they point out that your insights about the President are completely without merit. Where, for instance, did you get the idea that Obama’s comments about terrorism were influenced by “his comedian buddies?” Even if that were true, it’s better than being influenced by the terrorists, which is the case for you, Fox News, and other right-wing bloviators.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

In closing, it is hard to fathom your assertions that the YSFOM ever accused Bush of lying about ISIS since there was no ISIS when Bush was president. Maybe you are conceding the fact that his ill-advised policies resulted in the creation of ISIS and led to a rise in terrorism worldwide. But that would require an assumption that there is still some remnant of sanity in your diseased brain. Lacking any other corroborating evidence of that, it would be safer to assume otherwise.

Yours truly (if you still know what that means),
The Deranged, Literally Insane, Filled With Hatred, Democrat Party Base.
cc: Young Skulls Full Of Mush

The Sad Missed Opportunity Of Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show

When Stephen Colbert Announced that he was leaving The Colbert Report to take over David Letterman’s Late Night on CBS, there was an understandable heaving of sighs at the thought of losing one of television’s most unique and talented observers of politics and the press. Colbert had forged a trail that had been unexplored for years and even brought his fake comedic persona into the real world with appearances before Congress, newsmaker interviews, and founding his own Super PAC that raised more than a million dollars.

While fans could look forward to his reemergence as the host of Late Night, the vacancy at Comedy Central gave the network the opportunity to build a new franchise with a fresh outlook. Their selection of Daily Show alum Larry Wilmore was a positive sign. He is a bright, experienced, likable, and truly funny personality. The anticipation for his premiere was bursting with hope.

Larry Wilmore Nightly Show

Unfortunately, the reality has not lived up to the expectations. Rather than presenting a program that could carry on in the tradition of satirical media scrutiny and, when appropriate, ridicule, the Nightly Show took a lazier approach that mimicked what many cable news networks already provide.

The opening segment is the best part of the program. It features Wilmore seated anchor-style at a desk delivering his take on the news of the day. The problem with the show is all of the rest of it.

By choosing to conduct a panel discussion with people that are often neither funny nor interesting, the Nightly Show took the lazy way out. What made Colbert and Jon Stewart shine was their penchant for bringing together the best professionals to write and produce highly entertaining and thought provoking material. There is no way that a bunch of random people sitting around a table engaging in extemporaneous banter, that is mostly attempts to impress the other panelists, is going to have the comedic punch of a well-scripted and rehearsed program. It takes work to be funny, insightful and entertaining, but what the Nightly Show did was to fashion a weak copy of The Five from Fox News and then lean back for a snooze.

The Nightly Show has very little preparation or input from pros with a track record for producing laughs or connecting with an audience. Consequently, the Nightly Show, in this format, can never have the relationship with viewers that Colbert and Stewart have had. As evidence of its failure, note that almost every episode of Stewart’s and Colbert’s shows resulted in clips being posted online that got as much or more attention as the original broadcast. The same thing happens with bits from John Oliver’s HBO program, Last Week. But this has rarely happened with Nightly since its debut a month ago?

Part of the problem is the array of guests. Those who have been reasonably good were the ones with actual experience in show business. However, the politicos and press performed no differently than they might have on CNN. That is not what most people watch Comedy Central to see. And the worst of it comes in the form of blatantly exploitative and hacks like anti-vaxxer Zoey O’Toole, and Amy Holmes, who reports for the conspiracy-kook/televangelist Glenn Beck. Why would Wilmore give someone like that a platform on his show?

However, even with better guests there is no substitute for professionals with experience doing the hard work of crafting good comedy. And that is what Nightly is missing. It’s not too late to retool the program. Let Wilmore unleash his proven talent as a comedian the way he did in his appearances on the Daily Show. Strip out the gimmicky bits (i.e. Keep it 100) that will only become tiresome over time. Wilmore does not have to imitate Colbert, but he can learn from the format that was always changing things up. Colbert had The Word, Tip of the Hat, Better Know a District, the Threat Down, etc., and he kept them fresh by not doing hackneyed versions of them every day.

There is still an opportunity for Wilmore to become his own kind of icon over time if he’s committed to putting in the labor and collaborating with other talented pros. Television has enough panel sessions with people speaking off the top of their heads and saying nothing of interest. Wilmore is better than that and I hope he realizes it soon and trusts himself to carry the whole show on his own.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

On a separate but related matter, there will soon be another vacancy on Comedy Central’s schedule. When Jon Stewart leaves, the network needs to replace him with someone who can fit the format and expand it to even higher heights. It doesn’t have to be a superstar. Nobody knew who Stewart was when he took the helm from Craig Kilborn. (Although if they could scrape up enough cash to hook Tina Fey that would be awesome). But there is someone who seems to be uniquely qualified and well-suited for the job. John Fugelsang is a talented comedian with a broad knowledge of politics, current events, and culture. He can pontificate on matters that are serious in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and connects with an audience.

John Fugelsang

Fugelsang has the TV anchor good looks that draw people in before they’re aware that they are about to be hit with a punch line. And he has experience with both hosting a television program and interviewing people from politics and as well as other walks of life. It was Fugelsang who got Mitt Romney’s communications director, Eric Fehrnstrom, to compare campaigning to an Etch A Sketch, thus cementing his reputation as a flip-flopper.