Will Fox News Fire Bill O’Reilly After Sexual Harassment Reports And Advertiser Exodus?

Fox News has been struggling with some serious blows to its reputation lately. That’s to be expected when its chief mission is running defense for a lying, ignorant, sociopath playacting at being president. But Donald Trump isn’t the only problem facing Fox News. The repercussions of a widespread misogynistic culture are having a profound impact on its business.

Bill O'Reilly Donald Trump

A recent investigation by the New York Times turned up several reports of sexual misconduct by Fox’s star, Bill O’Reilly. The story identified former employees who have received millions of dollars in settlements from O’Reilly or Fox News. Some of these were never previously disclosed. What’s more, the failure to report these payouts has landed Fox in some legal trouble. An investigation by the U.S. Attorney in New York is probing whether that non-disclosure violated securities laws.

Compounding the allegations in the Times is a new lawsuit filed by another alleged victim of the disgraced ex-CEO of Fox, Roger Ailes. Julie Roginsky is asserting that Ailes demanded a sexual relationship in exchange for professional help at the network. Roginsky’s charges echo those of previous victims in the Ailes affair.

All of this is causing a stir in the advertiser community. ThinkProgress is keeping tabs on O’Reilly’s advertisers and has already identified at least 27 companies that have pulled their ads from The O’Reilly Factor. They include some big names like Mercedes-Benz, Allstate, and Coldwell Banker. And it’s only been three days since the Times article was published. This suggests a severe level of anxiety that exists within the ad camp. There is a surprising willingness to flee controversy even with a show as highly rated as the Factor.

It would be naive to expect Fox News to fire or punish a star like O’Reilly just because he’s a wretched louse who preys on vulnerable women. In fact, given the corporate culture at Fox, that would just make him a welcome member of the club. The allegations against Fox extend to others in their ranks. Co-President Bill Shine and PR flack Irina Briganti have been accused of covering up offensive behaviors. And their most prominent club member, Donald Trump, has weighed in as well. He told the New York Times that:

“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Trump said, according to the Times. “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

Trump is notorious for opposing legal settlements. This despite his $25 million dollar payoff to settle lawsuits brought against his fraudulent Trump University. More importantly, he’s also notorious for his own resume of sexual harassment and assault. That’s something he shares with his close pal Bill O’Reilly. At least a dozen women have claimed that Trump sexual assaulted them. And during his campaign he promised to sue every one of them. Another broken campaign promise.

Club membership notwithstanding, when ad revenue is threatened the network bosses may think differently. The rapid response to O’Reilly’s reprehensible behavior demonstrates the risk Fox faces. Just ask Glenn Beck. He also had a highly rated program until his racist diatribes drove advertisers away.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Still, Fox News will not cast O’Reilly aside without a considerable push from both advertisers and viewers. And there’s a way for the audience to contribute to O’Reilly’s eventual fate. Sleeping Giants on Twitter recently conducted a successful campaign against Breitbart News resulting in the loss of dozens of advertisers. Now they are taking on O’Reilly. They use social media to pressure advertisers to do the right thing. It’s clearly having an effect. However, whether it will pressure Fox News to do the right thing and fire O’Reilly is still an open question.

It’s STILL Russia! But Fox News and Trump Are Trying to Deflect to Phony ‘Unmasking’ BS

New revelations tying Donald Trump to Russia continue to appear every day. Simultaneously, Trump’s defenders launch new efforts to divert attention to media decoys. Among the latest are allegations that President Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, improperly “unmasked” Americans recorded in conversations with possible foreign agents. Never mind that she never leaked anything or that her actions were all legal and proper. The story was a convenient distraction for the Trump administration as it’s mired in ever-growing scandal.

Trump Putin

Joining the spin party, Fox News featured a story about a former Obama defense official that they tried to malign. Evelyn Farkas left her job at the Pentagon in 2015. But more recently she sought warn her former colleagues about the risks of the incoming administration of Donald Trump. Fox News tried to spin Farkas’ public comments as something nefarious with the headline “OBAMA CHEERLEAKER? Ex-WH official’s call for Trump dirt part of pattern.”

“Cheerleaker?” Aint that cute. Of course it has no meaning or honest depiction of reality. It’s a purposefully negative rhetorical invention meant to smear Farkas. Which is pretty much what the rest of the story does as well. Fox’s story began by saying that:

“[F]ormer defense official Evelyn Farkas had undertaken a media campaign to pressure her old colleagues in the Obama administration — even Barack Obama himself — to disclose what they knew.”

Hot button terms like “pressure” deliberately misrepresent what actually happened. Farkas merely sought to offer her opinion on a matter of some importance. And her advice was entirely reasonable and warranted. That didn’t stop Fox News from putting it into the most negative light. However the quotes in Fox’s own story portray Farkas as a patriot coming forward on behalf of her country. For instance:

“I was urging my former colleagues, and frankly speaking, the people on the Hill … ‘get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration,’ because I had a fear that, somehow, that information would disappear with the senior people who left,” she said. “That’s why you have the leaking, because people were worried,” she added.

“The information needs to be made public,” she wrote. “If the answers yield further evidence that the president-elect is indebted to the Russian government or individuals with Kremlin ties, the intelligence community and policy officials should also begin disclosing what they know about whether Trump’s associates have been in contact with Russian officials, and what they’ve been discussing.”

“We need President Obama to share with the public the information the FBI has to date on this issue, and we need President-elect Trump to explain the full extent of his ties with the Kremlin and influential Russians,” she wrote.

These are the comments that Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber are getting all hot and bothered about. But any sane observer would recognize them as calls for transparency and respecting American citizens enough to keep them informed. Why on Earth wouldn’t you want to protect potentially incriminating information from being destroyed? And why wouldn’t you want to know about any President’s connections to operatives of a hostile foreign country?

The only reason anyone would be worried about what Farkas said is if they were trying to hide wrongdoing. Fox News and Donald Trump have vested interests in shielding themselves from unsavory or unlawful activity. And they must be deeply concerned about what would come out if intelligence officials followed Farkas’ advice. Otherwise, they would welcome any disclosures as opportunities to clear their names.

Consequently, the word has gone out to the conservative media to hype stories like Farkas’ and Rice’s. And to do so deceptively in order to poison the public’s understanding and foment confusion. Then, while responsible journalists struggle to restore some sense of sanity, the Russian atrocities get swept aside. It’s tactic that we’ve seen used for months by the Trump camp.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Hopefully the press will stop being unwitting partners in this obfuscation and keep their eyes on the prize. There is nothing more important in American politics today than determining whether or not our president is a puppet of Vladimir Putin. Stay vigilant America, and don’t succumb to the practitioners of misdirection.

Former FBI Agent On Trump’s Loyalties: It’s Trump 1st, Russia 2nd and the Rest of America 3rd

Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. The former FBI agent was called to give testimony about the unfolding allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump. His testimony addressed many of the most troubling aspects of Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia during the 2016 election.

Trump/Putin

After his testimony, Watts was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. He affirmed much of what he told the committee and described the objectives of the Russian operatives. Watts was straight forward with this assessment of the situation:

Blitzer: What was Putin’s objective in all of this?

Watts: The ultimate objective is to destroy democracies from the inside out. What he wants to do is erode trust and sow divisions in the U.S. electorate.

Watts went on to say that intelligence operatives saw hacks and leaks that were “synchronized” with the Trump campaign. “That tends to lead to the belief that there was coordination,” he said. He also spoke about the “trail of dead Russians” that could lead to the confirmation of allegations raised by the infamous Trump dossier.”

This is about as close as any witness has come to asserting a direct relationship between Trump’s campaign and the Russians. The CIA has already confirmed that Russian operatives were working to help Trump get elected and to hurt Hillary Clinton. The risks facing Watts for his testimony were on his mind during the Senate hearings. He told Blitzer that:

“If I speak today, my bank account could be compromised, I could be discredited through compromising materials, some true some false, but I think the biggest concern is I’m not confident right now that the U.S. government would actually come to bat for me. I’ve seen President Trump call for Russia to leak emails against a political opponent, I’ve seen him discredit the U.S. intelligence community to cite conspiracies that he’s seen on his Twitter feed.

“So, if I say things that the Trump administration doesn’t like or that is counter to Putin, I’m not sure it’s not Trump first, Russia second and the rest of America third.”

That description of Trump’s loyalties should send chills down the spine of every American. Watts’ career has put him in dangerous positions around the world. He is no shrinking violet. But his doubts amount to an indictment of Trump’s patriotism. Watts added that the Trump White House could not be relied on for anything but its own self-interests. “They will push falsehoods to achieve political objectives,” he said, “before they will push the truth for the American people.”

That has been borne out many times as Trump and his spokespersons disseminate “alternative facts” and cast false accusations at critics and the press. It is part of a grand strategy to discredit anyone who dares to find fault with the President. But as the Russian scandals compound, Trump is finding it increasingly more difficult to defend himself and his cohorts.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Desperate Trump Tweets Threat To Investigate Debunked Clinton/Russia Uranium Deal

The walls are losing in around Donald Trump. Allegations concerning his unsavory connections to Vladimir Putin and Russia continue to accumulate. His closest associates are being investigated by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. The 2016 election was tainted by revelations of meetings between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. And the Justice Department has already certified that Russia interfered with the election in an effort to harm Hillary Clinton and Boost Trump. The FBI is currently investigating the Trump campaign’s complicity.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

In the heat of all that, Congress is under fire for failing to hold independent hearings on the mounting scandals involving Trump and Russia. GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has himself been implicated in shady behavior. He reportedly met with a secret “source” at the White House prior to holding a press conference last week. At the presser Nunes released information intended to help the President evade further scrutiny. Then Nunes returned to the White House to brief Trump without ever sharing his information with the committee.

In the midst of this, Trump has now engaged in a pitifully obvious attempt at diversion. He posted the following tweets Monday evening:

Under the circumstances, asking the Intelligence Committee to investigate the Clinton’s is a transparent act of desperation. Especially since the Committee under Nunes’ control has zero credibility. In addition, the matters Trump cited have all been investigated by numerous legal and congressional entities. There was no wrongdoing found by the Clinton’s or President Obama. PolitiFact summed up the findings in a comprehensive analysis last year after a prior accusation by Trump. They rated Trump’s accusations “Mostly False” and said in part:

Russia’s nuclear energy agency, which also builds nuclear weapons, bought a controlling stake in Uranium One. The company has mines, mills and tracts of land in Wyoming, Utah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity.

So, to be clear, the 20 percent is capacity, not uranium that has been produced.

Given that Russia doesn’t have the licenses to export uranium outside the United States, it was likely more interested in Uranium One’s assets in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, our colleagues said. […]

The State Department did approve the Uranium One deal, but it didn’t act unilaterally. It was one of nine U.S. government agencies, plus independent federal and state nuclear regulators, that had to sign off on the deal.

And as FactCheck.org noted in a related fact check, while any of the nine agencies could have objected to the deal, only President Barack Obama had the power to veto it.

So there was nothing untoward about the deal in the first place, and Clinton didn’t have the power to approve or reject it anyway. Consequently, Trump’s only motivation could be to divert attention away from his potentially treasonous activities. It’s a pathetic scheme that is so clumsy it can’t possibly work. And that is the most damning proof of his desperation and fear. Stunts like this are only likely to exacerbate his situation.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

So keep tweeting, Mr. President. Your outbursts merely serve to dig you in deeper. They certainly won’t have any effect on the law enforcement professionals examining your activities during and following the campaign. And as the evidence continues to expose your malfeasance you will lose even more support from your fellow Republicans in Congress. You know, the ones you just insulted because they didn’t buy into your phony healthcare scam.

Fox News ‘Security Moms’ Don’t Care About Russia And Trump; Fox News Poll Disagrees

On Monday the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing to investigate Donald Trump’s campaign and its connections to Russia. Witnesses included FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency. The testimony was conclusive with regard to Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. And their motives were plainly to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, Comey confirmed that he knew of no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump’s phones. On that matter he was speaking for the Department of Justice as well. So Trump’s reckless tweets asserting that President Obama was guilty of that felony were exposed as lies.

Fox News

Many of the details of Russia’s election tampering were not provided due to the sensitive nature of the information. Comey had to be careful not to reveal classified data or compromise the conduct of an ongoing investigation. But there was no question that Trump’s campaign is the subject of an investigation and the consequences remain dire.

In light of that, Fox News sprung to action in order to protect Trump from any negative public relations fallout. His pals at Fox and Friends assembled a panel of what they called “Security Moms” (video below). In fact it was a group of pre-selected pro-Trump mouthpieces who would defend their hero under any circumstances. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt opened the segment saying:

“Even the mainstream media is admitting that there is probably no Russian connection to the Trump White House. So why can’t they stop talking about it? Is this really what American families want to know? Who better to ask than our panel of moms?”

First of all, Earhardt’s assertion that there is “no Russian connection to the Trump White House” was pulled straight out her assumptions file. There are numerous connections, as is documented by the research of Rep. Eric Salwell. His charts reveal a disturbing web of Trump/Russian connectivity. And secondly, Earhardt’s objection to the media’s focus on this issue belies her determination to squelch it.

Earhardt’s first question was a not so fair and balanced “Why is the mainstream media harping on this?” The answers from her panel of Trump Moms were typical rationalizations of his erratic behavior. They ran the gamut of wingnut allegations from “fake news” to delegitimizing the President. Earhardt also asked if any of the panel was concerned that Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. They all immediately said “No.” By the end of the segment Earhardt and her support group all agreed that we should “move on” from the Russia story.

Clearly this was a deliberately biased group of women assembled to shield the President from criticism. It’s something Fox does on a regular basis. How else could they all be unconcerned about an American president colluding with a hostile foreign country? They expressed an interest in diverting to other issues such as immigration. But even in those comments they parroted the Trump agenda fomenting fear of “illegals” and terrorists.

Fox News displayed a graphic during the segment that read “NEWS YOU CAN’T USE. Do U.S. Families Want To Hear Russia Reports?” The conclusion expressed by the Trump Moms was a unanimous “No.” These Foxies must not be paying very close attention to Fox News. The network recently released a poll that specifically addressed these issues. The poll asked:

    Do you think there should be a Congressional investigation into:

  • Reported Russian hacking and attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election: YES 66% (including 41% of Republicans), NO 30%
  • Alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government: YES 63% (including 32% of Republicans), NO 33%

So about two-thirds of voters think there should be investigations into Russia’s election tampering and Trump’s potential complicity in it. That’s according to Fox’s own poll. Yet Fox and Friends puts four women on the air who all take the completely opposite view. If that isn’t an attempt at manipulation and propaganda, then nothing is. It’s just further proof that Fox serves as the PR division of the Trump administration.

Finally, we know that Trump pays attention to Fox’s polls because this same Monday morning he tweeted:

Actually, the poll he was referencing was not from CNN, it was from Gallup. It shows him near the lowest point in his already record-breaking low presidency with only 39 percent approval. Also, CNN’s election polls were pretty close to the final result. They had Clinton leading Trump by about five points. She finished three points ahead. Trump’s observation that Fox’s poll was more favorable is true. However, it also had him in a decidedly negative position with 43 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving. Apparently in Trump’s world that’s good news. At least Fox got a new slogan that actually makes sense: News You Can’t Use.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

YOU’RE FIRED: Trump Sacks U.S. Attorney Probing Fox News For Hiding Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

On Friday the White House announced that it was asking forty-six U.S. Attorneys to submit their resignations. They were further instructed to clear out their desks by the end of the day. Replacing staff at the Department of Justice is a routine part of most administration transitions. However, it is rarely done so ham-handedly without prior notice or opportunity to orient the replacements.

Preet Bharara Donald Trump

By acting so impetuously, Donald Trump is leaving numerous in-progress investigations without leadership or direction. They include cases involving terrorism, drug trafficking, civil rights abuses, and more. There is no reason to rush these lawyers out the door. Most are career attorneys who have served during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

One possible explanation for Trump’s hastiness could be something he saw the night before on Fox News. Sean Hannity demanded that anyone affiliated with the Obama administration be summarily dismissed ASAP. What he was advocating was nothing short of the purges conducted by old-school tyrannical regimes. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Trump carried out the ideological cleansing the next day. But there is abundant evidence that Trump responds obediently to things he sees on Fox News.

Which makes the case of fired attorney Preet Bharara especially troubling. Bharara is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In that jurisdiction he has had responsibility for high profile prosecutions of organized crime, Wall Street corruption, and political malfeasance. He has a reputation for being thorough and non-partisan. He was even personally asked to remain by President-Elect Trump last November, which he agree to do.

What makes Bharara’s dismissal so controversial is that one of the cases he is currently investigating involves Fox News. Last month the New York Daily News reported that:

“The feds are conducting an ‘ongoing criminal investigation’ of Fox News Channel and whether Rupert Murdoch’s company hid from investors the payments it made to employees who alleged they were sexually harassed, an attorney alleged in court Wednesday.” […]

[Attorney Judd Burstein, representing former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros] “said Fox News’ payouts to female employees claiming sexual harassment are not disclosed in Fox’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings, which could be a violation of federal securities law.”

The ever-increasing number of former female Fox News staffers alleging sexual harassment is not just a moral atrocity. It also threatens to cost the network millions of dollars and loss of prestige. The current rash of scandals began with Gretchen Carlson and quickly spread to others including Andrea Tantaros, Juliet Huddy, and even Megyn Kelly. As such it’s pertinent to any analysis of the company’s fiscal health and they have a responsibility to inform investors. Fox News already lost its founder and CEO. Roger Ailes, as a result of the scandal.

To say the least, it is unseemly for Trump to shove Bharara out the door while he is working on such a sensitive case. Fox News is Trump’s most devoted media cheerleader, thus Trump has an incentive to shield them from legal jeopardy. And for this act of presidential protection to take place immediately after a plea from Hannity – Fox’s most adoring Trump fluffer – just compounds the inappropriateness.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Bharara, as a matter of principle, refused to cooperate with the Trump purge. CNN reported that he would not comply with the request for a resignation. In effect, he dared Trump to fire him. And given Trump’s penchant for petty vengeance, that is exactly what Trump did. This opens the door for a replacement who Trump is already considering. Marc Mukasey is a lawyer who counts among his clients Fox’s ex-CEO Roger Ailes. Were he to assume the position, it is unlikely that the case against Fox News would proceed. This is how Trump drains the swamp.

FOX NEWS (!?!) Reveals What Trump Knew About Flynn’s Talks With The Russians

What may be the most scandalous saga to date from the nascent Trump administration continues to unfold in shocking ways. The latest revelation comes from Fox News. That’s right, Fox News! Correspondent John Roberts reported that his investigation of fired National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, has uncovered an account of events that contradicts President Donald Trump (video below).

Trump Flynn

Roberts reports that:

“The president was, in fact, fully briefed on the content of those conversations that Gen. Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, by people who would know what the content of those phone conversations was.”

Trump began by denying that he knew about Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador. When that story failed he denied having any details of the substance of those talks. This report reveals that Trump not only knew that the talks took place, but what they talked about.

In Thursday’s press conference Trump addressed the Flynn firing specifically. He said that he didn’t think Flynn had done anything wrong by talking to the Russians. In fact, he said he would have directed Flynn to do so. That’s an odd statement because it begs the question: Why didn’t he give that direction?

However, Trump also clarified the reason he fired Flynn saying that “I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence.” So Trump fired Flynn because Flynn had not told Pence that he discussed sanctions with the Russians. But Fox’s report reveals that Trump also knew about Flynn’s conversations, including the sanctions, but Trump didn’t tell Pence either. So both Trump and Flynn withheld the same information from Pence, but Trump fired Flynn for it.

None of this makes any sense. Trump doesn’t think Flynn’s conversations with the Russians were wrong. The only thing that was wrong, according to Trump, was not telling Pence. But Trump didn’t tell Pence either. So was Trump wrong? And if not, then why was Flynn fired?

Are you confused yet? Then you’re normal. Clearly this entire affair was a disaster. There should never have been any talks during the campaign between Trump’s people and a hostile foreign government. We have just one president at a time. Consequently, Trump’s scrambling to find excuses for all of this just churns out more bullshit as he goes along.

The new revelations from Fox News prove that Trump’s story is an ever-changing fiction. And the fact that the proof is coming from Fox is significant in and of itself. When the nation finally learns what has been going on between Trump and Russia, there is certain to be more shocking details revealed. Perhaps they will explain Trump’s constant defense of Vladimir Putin and his reluctance to ever criticize the Russian dictator. And maybe we’ll also find out just how intertwined Putin was with Trump’s campaign.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump’s National Security Nominee Quits Before She Starts Amid Plagiarism Scandal

Donald Trump has been populating his cabinet with decidedly unsavory figures bent on destroying the agencies they will lead. And while appointing arsonists to run the Fire Departments, he has failed to properly vet his nominees. Case in point is Monica Crowley, tapped as strategic communications director of the National Security Council.

Monica Crowley

Crowley, formerly of Fox News, was discovered to have plagiarized portions of her 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened.” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski documented more than fifty instances of text that was taken from other sources without attribution. In addition, Politico reported that Crowley also allegedly plagiarized portions of her doctoral dissertation from Columbia University.

The Trump transition team initially dismissed these reports as politically motivated attacks. However, the budding scandal heated up when her publisher, HarperCollins, pulled the book off the market. It would be difficult for the Trump camp to accuse HarperCollins of partisanship given that it’s owned by the same corporate parent as Fox News.

Monday morning Crowley spoke with the Washington Times and revealed she would not be joining the Trump administration after all. As reported by TVNewser, she said that:

“After much reflection I have decided to remain in New York to pursue other opportunities and will not be taking a position in the incoming administration,” Crowley said in a statement, to the Washington Times. “I greatly appreciate being asked to be part of President-elect Trump’s team and I will continue to enthusiastically support him and his agenda for American renewal.”

Trump’s nominee for National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, expressed regrets that Crowley had bowed out. He wished her well saying “The NSC will miss the opportunity to have Monica Crowley as part of our team.” No mention of the plagiarism charges was made by either Crowley or Trump’s people. However, this embarrassing episode could have been avoided with competent vetting. Crowley’s sticky fingers have been part of the public record since at least 1999. At that time the Wall Street Journal caught her plagiarizing an article from Commentary Magazine for a Journal feature.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Perhaps this is why Congress is so anxious to barrel through the confirmation hearings before the ethics reviews have been completed. Their unprecedented rush violates the standards that Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had demanded for President Obama’s nominees. Unfortunately, their haste and incompetence could have grave consequences for the country. The Crowley affair is just the tip of the iceberg. We can expect further scandals and untold harm as a result of staffing the government with crooks and amateurs.

UH-OH: DOJ Inspector General To Probe FBI’s ‘Improper’ Handling Of Clinton Investigation

When reviewing the most consequential events of the 2016 presidential election, one strikingly inappropriate action comes immediately to mind. Less than two weeks before the nation voted, FBI Directer James Comey violated a long-held principle of law enforcement. He released confidential and unsubstantiated data concerning an in-progress investigation of Hillary Clinton.

Comey Trump

Comey’s action gave Donald Trump’s campaign a jet-propelled boost at a time when it needed it most. And it left little time for Clinton’s campaign to respond or recover from the political harm. As it turned out, there was nothing of significance in the additional analysis that Comey initiated, but the damage was done.

Thursday morning the Inspector General’s office of the Department of Justice announced that it will be reviewing these events. Requests from member of Congress, outside organizations, and members of the public, spurred the IG to commence this review. According to the Huffington Post, the review will address several specific topics, including:

  • Allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection with, or in actions leading up to or related to, the FBI Director’s public announcement on July 5, 2016, and the Director’s letters to Congress on October 28 and November 6, 2016, and that certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations;
  • Allegations that the FBI Deputy Director should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters;
  • Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information;
  • Allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.

These are the most salient issues that desperately need to be resolved. Comey’s behavior was suspiciously beneficial to one political candidate, and this investigation should explore any and all motivations. The IG’s review is being careful not to engage in further partisanship. Consequently, it’s also examining allegations that an assistant AG improperly disclosed non-public information to Clinton’s campaign.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It remains to be seen what conclusions will be drawn when the review is complete. There could be consequences for Comey, or it could be swept under the FBI’s rug. Timing will also be critical. If this stretches too long into the Trump administration, and his anticipated purges at the DOJ are effected, then nothing of significance will result. Trump’s people will surely protect him and his allies in the FBI, including Comey. So stay tuned as this developing story continues to unfold.

Publisher Pulls Book By Trump’s National Security Nominee Due To Plagiarism

Last week reports surfaced alleging that Monica Crowley had plagiarized significant parts of her 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened.” Ironically, that title poses a good question considering that her publisher just announced that it’s pulling the book from publication:

“The book, which has reached the end of its natural sales cycle, will no longer be offered for purchase until such time as the author has the opportunity to source and revise the material.”

Monica Crowley

Donald Trump recently nominated Crowley to be the strategic communications director of the National Security Council. She was previously a contributor for Fox News. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski identified more than fifty instances of text that was lifted in whole or in part from other sources. The “borrowed” words came from newspapers, magazines, websites, and even from a colleague at Fox News. After publication of the expose, Trump’s transition team called it a politically motivated attack and said they stood by Crowley.

Now the publisher, HarperCollins, has concluded that the allegations have merit. It should be noted that HarperCollins is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Murdoch is also the owner of the parent company of Fox News. CNN reached out to Trump’s team again for an updated response but did not immediately receive one.

In addition to this news, the Trump people have to deal with allegations that Crowley also plagiarized portions of her doctorate dissertation. According to Politico:

“An examination of the dissertation and the sources it cites identified more than a dozen sections of text that have been lifted, with little to no changes, from other scholarly works without proper attribution. In some instances, Crowley footnoted her source but did not identify with quotation marks the text she was copying directly. In other instances, she copied text or heavily paraphrased with no attribution at all.”

With the removal of Crowley’s book from publication it seems impossible for Trump to continue to dismiss this as partisan. Rupert Murdoch’s publishing company isn’t part of a Democratic cabal. Crowley’s fate would be sealed in any other political context. But Trump’s operation has been rife with impropriety, dishonesty, and a determination to double down when faced with adversity. So it’s anyone’s guess where Crowley will be tomorrow. After all, Trump’s wife Melania was also caught in a plagiarism scandal, and she’s still around.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.